In this new feature of our website, we present
every week a new selection of the teachings of Vedanta, taken from a
variety of sources – lectures and writings of Swami Adiswarananda,
Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Literature, and other spiritual texts.
CONCENTRATION & MEDITATION:
PSYCHOLOGY OF MEDITATION
is the way to overcome the restlessness of the mind? To pamper whatever
desires arise in the mind would be counterproductive, leading only to
greater restlessness. Punishing the mind through self-torture and
mortification merely represses the desires, driving them underground.
Trying to transform the mind by changing our environment is futile because
wherever we go, our mind with all its habitual tendencies goes with us.
The only alternative, according to the Bhagavad
Gita, is to face it by control and regulation.
logic for such control is compelling. If we think that we are no more than
the physical body, then we will surely die; if we identify with our wild
impulses and emotions, we will never have rest; and if we are nothing but
our desires and dreams, we will remain forever unfulfilled. Only if we
control body, desires, and mind can we find genuine peace and fulfillment.
Yet control cannot succeed unless it is directed to our inner Self, the
center of our being, by the practice of meditation. As the
Bhagavad Gita says: “The man whose mind is
not under his control has no Self-knowledge and no contemplation either.
Without contemplation he can have no peace; and without peace, how can he
have happiness?” 8
psychology of meditation is to cultivate a single thought. A restless mind
is like a lake, constantly agitated by the winds of desires, creating
thought-waves of diverse nature. Because of this constant agitation, our
true Self at the bottom of the lake cannot be perceived. When, to counter
all those many thought-waves, a single thought is consciously cultivated
by the repeated and uninterrupted practice of meditation, it develops into
a huge wave that swallows up all the diverse ripples and makes the mind
transparent and calm. The concentrated mind in meditation is the mind that
has taken this form of a single thought-wave.
Meditation is a natural necessity for the soul. The two rhythms of
wholesome living are withdrawal and response, meditation and action. Life
goes wrong when this rhythm is broken. Mind becomes restless when it is
unable to detach itself from activity and withdraw into the silence of the
soul. Nature compels us to fall asleep every day, so that our bodies will
get rest and become rejuvenated. But most often, though the body gets its
rest in sleep, the mind does not. It continues to remain active even in
the dream state.
Meditation is a technique of withdrawing the mind so that it will receive
rest and rejuvenation. Such withdrawal may be called self-detachment. This
self-detachment increases the general perceptiveness of the mind and
produces a clear self-perception. An unclouded vision of who one is and
what one is called upon to do is vital for maintenance of the balance of
life. Self-detachment endows a person with creativity and fresh reserves
of energy. A fatigued mind can do nothing but repeat and imitate the same
old thoughts and behaviors, while a fresh mind rises to new planes of
consciousness and discovers innovative ways of meeting the challenges of
life. In English the word meditation is
derived from the Latin meditari, which
derives from the same root as the word meaning “to heal.” The practice of
meditation sets in motion a process that leads to the restoration of our
well-being—physical, mental, and spiritual.
Just as music is enjoyable because of the pauses of silence between the
notes, so meditation likewise provides the pause that makes our activities
enjoyable. Just as there are foods for the body and the mind, so
meditation provides food for the soul. The world may talk of love,
compassion, and sympathy, but love is a misnomer unless it is liberated
through meditation from the attachments of selfishness. Meditation is the
inbreathing of the soul. Without this inbreathing, we first die a
spiritual death, alienated from our own depths of being, followed by
psychological and physiological death.
To be continued
[Copyright Swami Adiswarananda]
Weekly Message Archive