Meditation - paths and goal
Chris Griffin - alt. hindu posting 1022 - 2 Jun 1994 - asked -
"Do different types of meditation/spiritual practices lead to profoundly
different states, in the short term and long term? -Involving different
practices or initiations with different masters - Novice Meditator"
Dear Novice Meditator - for a short answer, it depends on why you are
meditating and on what you are meditating.
On the lighter side, let me tell you a story. One fellow, after his
honeymoon was over, was getting bored and somehow met a master, and got
initiated into meditation. He used to come home and go straight to the
meditation room, and start repeating his mantra - Ohmmmmmm! Ohmmmmmmm! His
wife thought that it was some new fad and would go away. But this fellow
was very serious about it and kept on doing his mantra chanting and
meditation, whenever he was at home, and whenever he found some spare time.
His wife was slowly getting annoyed with this fellow's attitude - no more
fun and nothing and all she could hear from the basement room was some
meaningless sound, what he called meditation mantra. At last she gave him
an ultimatum - if he does not stop this nonsense she would leave him. But
this fellow was too busy with his OhmmmmmmmmS! If fact, the mantras were
only becoming louder. At last she packed her suitcase, screamed out of the
house banging the front door.
This fellow then slowly opened his eyes. Realization of his freedom dawned
on him! He screamed with ecstasy - "Oh my God! -----------------
Meditation really works!"
Seriously, since you have included `/spiritual', I presume you have some
definite understanding of the spiritual goal in meditation. I advice you to
read the Book by Swami Chinmayananda on Meditation.
But to answer your question correctly, one needs to fully understand what
meditation is all about. If your spiritual goal is the attainment of the
ultimate absolute happiness or Self Realization or God realization, then
paths may be different but the goal is the same. Because truth is the same
like a hub of the wheel, The wires that go from the rim to the hub may
even be pointing in opposites directions but they all point to the center
which is the support of the wheel. Similarly all spiritual paths ultimately
lead to the same truth. The path you need to choose depends on the purity
of your mind, nature of your personality (your predominant gunas) etc.
Remember biblical statement -"Blessed are those whose minds are pure" for
theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven - Purity means how calm, quite and
contended your mind is - mind is normally disturbed by agitations whipped
up by unfulfilled desires to possess what you don't have and fears to
protect what you have - (called yoga and Kshema in samskrit).
Mind is a flow of thoughts. Before you sit and practice meditation - mind
should be available for you to meditate. You need to control quality,
quantity and direction of your thoughts and that is called purifying the
mind. Karma yoga (selfless service), Bhakti yoga (devotion to the Lord)
and Gyana Yoga (contemplation on the truth) essentially help in purifying
the mind. Otherwise you will be forcefully suppressing the mind to
concentrate, and these suppressed desires one day will blast your mind,
when an opportunity arises.
Meditation is actually not a verb, it is a noun. That is, it is not an
action. You may call it as a state of mind. Like sleep. Sleep is not an
action. But I do have to prepare myself to sleep. To sleep, I have to
withdraw physically first to a proper conducive place, if available, where
I am least disturbed, withdraw my mind from all actions and agitations, and
invoke the goddess of sleep by intensely longing for it until even without
my knowledge I get into that sound sleep - sleep for me and sound for
others! Essentially, I am gliding from a waking state to deep sleep state.
Mind you, it is not by effort, yet some effort is required in renouncing
(sanyasa) of the waking world. This is not an effort for sleeping but an
effort for the mind to withdraw from all other wantings. The more intense
my longing for sleep, the faster it comes. But if I do not have the strong
desire to sleep, I do not get that sleep. Also as long as I am trying to
sleep, I have not slept. Similarly longing to reach the supreme is
required for the success of meditation. This is called Mumukshutwam in
samskrit, that is the desire for truth.
The analogy with sleep is exact. Paths to sleep may be different. Some
people need to turn on the tube to sleep, some paper or some silly
magazine, or music etc. But the goal is the same, and from the point of
the goal - all these means have nothing to do whatsoever with the sleep.
Yet the means help in withdrawing the mind from outer world. So are the
paths. They are only pointers and not pointed. As long as you are on a
path or process or technique you have not reached the goal. Ultimately
like sleep you essentially glide into meditation. It is beyond action,
beyond thoughts and beyond feelings - no words can reach there (since words
are expressions of intellect). Just as all paths to sleep lead to the same
goal, and yet the paths have nothing to do with sleep and words cannot
express that state - all spiritual paths lead to the same goal and in the
final analysis the paths have nothing to do with the goal. That is why J.
Krishnamurthy says "Truth is the pathless land". Yet paths are required
not to discover the truth but to purify the mind so that the mind is
available for contemplation.
One final advice - don't keep switching from one master to other, from one
path to the other. Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi gave very good analogy. It
is like digging a well for water. There was a fellow who needed well water
to fertilize his field. After careful consideration, he selected a spot,
dug for 10 feet and found no water. He decided that was not the right
place, and after additional careful scrutiny selected another spot, and dug
for 10 feet there but only to discover that there is no water there
either. He continued this process. After ten attempts, he became
desperate, since all he was left with was his whole field with full of
holes but no water any where. Whereas to his dismay he found his neighbor
dug only at one place and found water - 20 -30 feet below the ground level!
This is what one should avoid in spiritual path.
Study first what is a true meditation and understand clearly what is nature
of the goal. Mantras are dime a dozen. Do not get carried away with quick
fixes. It is not a revolutionary but an evolutionary process. Although
realization is instantaneous, preparation of the mind is a slow process.
Mind has been misused (and for many lives if you are Hindu!) and it takes
some time to retreat the mind. How long it takes depends on the intensity
of your longing to reach the goal and the current state of your mind.
Seeing some blue lights or hearing some sounds or any mental perceptions
are all metal hallucinations. In the ultimate, the seeker and the sought,
or an observer and observed become one, just as sleeper and the slept are
one. To understand these concepts clearly, I suggested you to contact
Chinmaya Mission center that is close by. There is a Chinmaya Mission
center in Houston not too far from you. You can call them and talk to Mr.
Gourang Nanavati. He is an Acharya (teacher) there. They have vedanta
classes every Sunday. You can mention my name if you want to. He can
provide you more concrete vedantic explanation, Of the purpose and goal in
spiritual Sadhana, including meditation.
About your question of short goals and long goals. There is no short goals
and long goals. Those are all temporal. They come and go. What one is
longing for in life is permanent eternal happiness. There are of course by
products of doing meditation. For one thing you consciously aware of your
equipment's - body, mind and intellect - hence you become more objective,
more peaceful with your self and your priorities in life change since your
perspective of life itself changes. Others may think you are crazy but you
know better who is crazy! Actually you develop more equanimity, more
compassion and become less egotistical and materialistically also you
become more efficient since you are able to control unnecessary dissipation
of mental energies in worries and anxieties and agitations. But remember
these are only byproducts. But the spiritual goal is to seek eternal
My strong advice for you is to learn and think deeply what is the nature of
the goal - that helps you not to get misled. I do teach vedanta and
meditation classes here in Virginia. But your best bet is to contact the
Chinmaya Mission in Houston - Mr. Gourang Nanavati. My best wishes for you
in reaching your goal. - Hari Om - Tat Sat. - Sadananda.