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:
Meditation overcomes the fear of death, which lies at the root of all
fears. The diverse manifestations of this primal fear are anxiety,
despair, depression, possessiveness, attachments, and aversions. Fear
arises when we treat the body as an end unto itself. Meditation reveals
that body and mind are mere instruments of the soul for self-fulfillment,
and never ends in themselves. The philosophy of meditation teaches that
creative living is never possible unless we accept the inevitability of
our physical death and keep ourselves ready for it. The life-wish and the
death-wish go together. In meditation we die in a measured way to our old
self, and simultaneously we become reborn in our new self. A neurotic
wants to run away from the death-wish and accepts only the life-wish.
Frustrated, he falls victim to his own fears. Meditation teaches a
deepening of self-awareness, so that we realize, "I am not the body, which
belongs to the order of the organic world and is subject to its mechanical
laws. Feelings and emotions are psychological. My ego is just a function
of the psyche. I am the true Self, beyond all polarities and tensions. My
breath belongs to the universal breath, my eyes are the sun and the moon.
I am the all-pervading Self shining in every heart."
Meditation liberates us from the bondage of the mind and body, and lifts
us up into the vast expanse of the Infinite Self. By raising the blaze of
consciousness within us, it burns all that is dross and false in us.
Shankaracharya compares meditation to a source of friction that kindles
the fire of knowledge: "By constant meditation (comparable to the rubbing
of the firewood) is kindled the flame of Knowledge, which completely burns
up the fuel of ignorance."
Life is not what it appears to be. Suffering is the moral message of life.
It is the first of the four noble truths of Buddha's message to the world.
Asked by a king the meaning of life, a sage once replied: "A man is born,
he suffers, and he dies." Sorrow,
indeed, is the price of our birth on earth. It afflicts both body and
mind. Any glimpses of happiness that may be seen to brighten our days on
earth are both fugitive and deceptive. Every enjoyment is moved by
haunting fear. The rich are afraid of robbers, the beautiful of deformity,
the healthy of disease, the learned of rivals, the aristocrats of
dishonor, the virtuous of slander. Yet a human individual somehow forgets
this brutal fact in the rhapsody of momentary happiness. Twenty-five
hundred years ago the Buddha declared that if all the tears that had
flowed from human eyes since the beginning of time were gathered together,
they would exceed the waters of the oceans.
do we suffer? Some attribute suffering to luck, some to the stars, some to
the retribution of God, and some to external circumstances. According to
the seers of Yoga and Vedanta, suffering is self-created, and the causes
are five: loss of contact with the real, ego and egotism, attachment,
aversion, and clinging to life. Loss of contact with our true Self gives
rise to ego-the false, limited, finite self—which projects a world of
dream and fancy, and forces us to live in that world. Driven by the
promptings of the ego, we strive for the impossible. It is the ego that
polarizes our mind and creates the world of good and evil, and pain and
pleasure. The harvest of egotistic living is fatigue and failure, anxiety
and frustration. The more the ego gobbles up to create a "me" and "mine"
world, the more it gets choked up and pushed into isolation, and thereby
gets set against its own reality. Denial of our true Self is the surest
and shortest way to disintegration and doom. The practice of meditation
brings us in contact with our true Self, endows us with a realistic cosmic
vision where everything falls in its right place, and frees us from the
cramped life of endless craving and cringing.
Meditation awakens the dormant powers of the mind. Just as a vast amount
of energy is hidden in an atom, so too is there a vast reservoir of energy
hidden in the depths of our psyche. The sacred texts of Yoga and Vedanta
call this sleeping power of the mind kundalini.
Life becomes blessed when the kundalini is
awakened. Using the power of the mind, human beings have been able to
achieve great wonders in the realm of science and technology. It is the
same power of the mind that makes impossible things possible in the realm
of spirituality. The story of the evolution of life is the story of the
manifestation of mental powers.
To be continued
[Copyright Swami Adiswarananda]
Weekly Message Archive