Dec 2, 2015

The Need For Meditation

In order for us to understand the need of meditation, first we have to understand our inner nature and the need to harmonize our inner nature.

Nature of the aspirant
There is a very beautiful story about two birds perched on the branch of a same tree. The one below tastes the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree; the one above, tasting neither, calmly looks on. It implies that the bird on the lower branch indulges in desires and wishes thinking itself to be doer and enjoyer and accordingly it experiences happiness, unhappiness, contentment, discontentment–and so forth leading itself to be conditioned by those experiences whereas the bird on the higher branch only observes as a witness of the friend's actions without being affected or conditioned by such experiences.
When the bird on the lower branch is enjoying a sweet fruit she gets distracted by the fruits (signifying wishes or desires) and momentarily forgets her Beloved upper bird and tries to enjoy the fruit independently of Him.
But when she tastes a particularly bitter fruit, she pauses, looks above and hops near the other bird. This goes on until finally she perch herself at the same place as that of other bird and realizes there had never been two birds, but she was all the time that upper bird.
The story is meant to highlight that the aspirant has two in-dwellers – the two Selves just like the two birds. However, they do not have the same experience of the tree. The two birds represent individual self(jivatman) and the Higher Self(paramatman) whereas tree represents the body.
Great Masters of all time have highlighted the relationship between the two selves stating that the individual Self and the Higher Self exist in an eternal relationship in which they are ever present with one another.

What must be the goal of the aspirant?

Alice: Which path should I take, mister?
Mr. Rabbit: Well, where do you want to go, my dear?
Alice: Anywhere.
Mr. Rabbit: Then it doesn't matter which path you take.
----Alice in Wonderland  
Great Masters of all time have emphasized that goal of human life must be to attain the union(Yoga) of the individual self with the Higher Self but we get baffled as it requires working with mind where mind is the tool, mind is also the object on which this tool is to be used and mind is also the final result. Even great warrior Arjun complained that mind is restless, powerful and obstinate so it will be very difficult to attain success in this endeavor so Lord Krishna gave a reply which is important for all men of all time. He told Arjun that through Abhyas(Sanskrit word for practice) and Vairagya(Sanskrit word for dispassion) alone can one reach the goal.
An aspirant is identified as an individual self(atman) which must have the goal of bringing back the remembrance of Higher Self(Paramatman) and remembrance must be such that the lover becomes like the remembered Beloved and none can tell the difference between the two. Vedas have proclaimed this state as "Tat Twam asi" which is translated as "that you are" implying the state in which you have become that which you were seeking. This state is beautifully illustrated in the following story: It is said that when Lord Krishna left Vrindavan, Radha used to chant the name of Krishna in His remembrance but soon she would get so much lost in His remembrance that she would start chanting her own name forgetting who is who and thus become one with Him.

The goal of human life is very beautifully put in the three lines of Heartfulness meditation prayer:
The individual self of the aspirant brings himself/herself to the prayerful state and prays to the Higher Self with the yearning of reviving permanent remembrance.

"O Master! Thou art the real goal of human life,
We are yet but the slaves of our wishes putting bar to our advancement,
You are the only God and power to bring us up to that stage."

The right attitude of doing this prayer is to do it with utter humility and love, we have to allow ourselves to melt into this prayerful feeling. The expression "melt into prayerful feeling" can only be experienced. It is not to be understood. We can experience it when our heart is full of craving and love for the Higher Self. What to do till then? Well! fake it till you make it!!

The first line of the prayer reminds us of our goal and also revives the remembrance of the Higher Self.  When we adopt a practice to hold on to this remembrance, it becomes constant. The second line reminds us that our own wishes are the biggest impediment in reaching our goal and thus indirectly reminds us that we have to develop dispassion towards them. The last line of the prayer reminds us that it is not enough to have remembrance, the real goal is to become like that of the Higher Self by taking His help.

There are few questions which still remain to be answered: what is that which will hold on to the remembrance? What is that which creates wishes and desires? What to do about it? 

My next blog will answer these questions. Please register to write your comments and get notified for my next blog.