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Some Common Errors in Meditation

- Sri. Ishwar Sahai


The regular process followed under the Sahaj Marg system is meditation on heart, thinking of the presence of the Divine Light there. It is a simple process but sometimes, due to complexities of thought in individual cases, complications arise which deprive an Abhyasi of the full advantage thereof. For this particular purpose an endeavour is made to clear some of the technical points of the process which are commonly misunderstood.

In the first place, it must be clearly noted that we mean to practice meditation and not concentration. Concentration brings to our mind the idea of fixing rigidly on one and the same thought. This naturally leads us to apply the force of will for the suppression of mind or driving out irrelevant ideas. But experience shows that the more we exert ourselves to it, the stronger grows the reaction in the heart and the rush of thoughts grows more intense. Consequently the Abhyasi remains involved in the mental struggle all the while and there is practically no meditation at all. We start with Dhyan or meditation, and when we get absorbed in it we reach the preliminary state of Samadhi or concentration. This sort of concentration should not be confused with concentration defined above, which required exertion of will power. For such concentration an Abhyasi need not struggle within himself. It is the natural outcome of meditation when one's being merges into one thought or feeling. Thus, real concentration follows meditation in due course. It would, therefore, be a wrong process to take up to concentration first. So, an Abhyasi must practice meditation in a simple and natural way, keeping away from the idea of concentration. Meditation implies a sense of thinking over and over again. At the initial stages it may be with breaks and interruptions but after some time it forms a connected link of unconscious thought in the sub-conscious mind. That is the true form of meditation. With this view we must only take up meditation without the least effort to concentrate and go on with it in the simplest way avoiding all physical and mental strain.

The next mistake which sometimes baffles an Abhyasi-and of which he often complains-is that he is not able to see the light or to grasp the exact location of the heart. This is but an error of understanding. It is not the actual visualization of the light that is necessary for the purpose but only a faint idea of it in the form of mere supposition. Those who hanker after visualization of Light mean to put it under a material cloak which must necessarily be the outcome of their own imagination. Thus, the thing coming to view, if at all, would be artificial and not the real one. Moreover, the light is not our goal. We take it up only as a base for the thought to rest upon, in order to proceed by it to the Possessor of the Real Light or glory. In this way we mean to proceed from the quality to substance, from the apparent to the Real. So it is quite immaterial whether we see the light at all or not. The proper course would therefore be to turn one's attention gently towards the heart and suppose the presence of Divine light there. All efforts to localize the position of heart or visualize the light must be avoided.

Another difficulty which sometimes arises relates to the feeling of awareness during meditation. Generally it happens that after starting meditation with a conscious idea of the object he is gradually drifted into a state of apparent forgetfulness. In such a case, he generally concludes that he had drifted away from the point and had missed meditation for the time. But it is not so. The awareness remains only so long as our thought remains in touch with the physical mind. But when it goes deeper into the finer layers of consciousness the physical awareness is lost although silent meditation goes on unconsciously in the sub-conscious mind. The only thing to be done under the circumstances is to revert gently to the object, whenever one feels himself lost, and he should go into meditation again without the least worry for the previous unawareness.

The other error, perhaps the most serious one, relates to the abnormal rush of thoughts during meditation. This is generally most annoying to an Abhyasi, though in fact it is not so if it is properly dealt with. The ceaseless flow of thoughts is not confined only to the meditation hours but it continues every moment. But it is more acutely felt during meditation because at that time we try to make ourselves empty of all thoughts and ideas. In other words, we try to create a thought-vacuum in our conscious mind. Now, just as the rush of air towards the vacuum is stronger so must the rush of thoughts be more forceful towards the thought-vacuum. There is a huge store of thoughts lying buried in the deeper layers of consciousness. When by the effect of meditation, a void is created in the conscious mind, the buried thoughts rise up and force their passage into the void affecting our grosser consciousness to some extent. The mind being unregulated begins to move in conjunction with them creating all sorts of troubles and disturbances. It is, in fact, not the rising of thoughts that is annoying to an Abhyasi but his own over-attention to them which brings him into direct conflict. The reaction thus caused makes thoughts all the more powerful and the trouble is aggravated.

The commonly advised process for dealing with the situation is the suppression of mind by means of forced restraints and physical mortifications. Mind is generally represented as a restive horse which requires a sharp whip for keeping it under control. But, the whip may serve as means to keep the evil tendencies of the mind suppressed for a short-while, not allowing them to materialize into action. In other words, the evil within is retained just as it is and only its outward action is checked. How far this can be successful is a matter of serious doubt unless the mind is physically disabled to move that way, for the poison of evil, buried within, may at any time begin to display its action when perchance the control is relaxed. That means a life-long game of context involving all the risk of reverses and failures. Besides this, the physical suppression by strangulation of mind leads to internal grossness and renders the mind incapable of higher ascent in subtler planes. It is, in fact, not the controlling of mind that is suited to our purpose but its right moulding and the proper regulation of its activities. This can be affected not by the use of whip but only by purging out the evil through the process of internal cleaning. This is the only effective way for the transformation of the real being of man.

Unfortunately there are some amongst the teachers professing to guide the people in spirituality who apply their material will-force for suppressing the thoughts in order to create a state of coma. The Abhyasi who is incapable of understanding its true spirit feels greatly impressed since it offers him a sort of sensual pleasure which is grossly misinterpreted as 'Anandam'. Nothing related with the working of senses can offer the real Anandam, and this being only a play of senses is far away from the range of spirituality. The state of suspension commonly misunderstood as peace, is likewise another serious error. It is more like a state of senselessness caused by the effect of chloroform, hence not the least spiritual in any way. Besides, the suspension of thoughts is greatly harmful for another reason too; if the buried thoughts are kept suppressed in the mind the chances of Bhoga or consumption are stopped. There can be no liberation unless the process of Bhoga is complete. Thus, the suspension of thoughts bars the door of liberation forever.

For our spiritual purpose it is essential to make ourselves free from thoughts as far as possible, but it can never be effected by means of suppression but only by throwing out the poison from the mind, which would stop the creation of thoughts. The rising of buried thoughts helps to exhaust the store by effecting their Bhoga. Thus in due course, the Abhyasi becomes free from them and attains a harmonious state. His mind-lake is thus free from the ripples and perfect calmness begins to prevail within him.

The proper course would, therefore, be to pay no heed to thoughts arising in the mind during meditation and to remain unmindful of them, treating them as 'uninvited guests'. In this way their intensity will be lost, and they will cease to be a source of disturbance.