Sunday, January 10, 2010

Meditation, at three levels

"Meditation does not mean chanting mantras, which one may enjoy doing, nor does it mean thinking or mental reflection. Neither is it concentration or focusing, nor is it practising various yoga postures. Essentially, meditation is a knack – the knack of non-judgmental observation, witnessing. Witnessing needs to work basically on three levels: the body, the mind, and the emotions. The body is the easiest part to witness. It is the gross part of our personality. While involved in various activities, one may watch the body – its motions and movements, but without any judgment or interpretation. Simply observe every movement as if the body were somebody else's. Suddenly we can become aware of how we normally make the same movements, but in a robotic way, mechanically and habitually. By simply watching, however, we become conscious, aware, alert and decisive in making the same body movements."

"The mind is more difficult to watch. It is not as gross as the body is; rather, it is subtle. It is more 'inside,' and trickier to see. Thinking, mostly random and incoherent thinking, occupies the mind predominantly. The difficulty in watching the endless trail of thoughts is because each thought simultaneously brings in judgment, evaluation, preference, and identification. Thinking is a non-voluntary activity, which, the experts say, drains our energy. The frequency and intensity of fleeting thoughts is such that there is no gap between one thought and another. Hence, witnessing thoughts is a challenge for one whose mind is constantly buzzing and leaving no room to experience silence."

"Emotions too can be watched, but they are even more subtle a phenomenon than are the thoughts. We often face strong emotions such as anger. In a tense situation, for example, someone hurls an abusive word. At that moment, rather than expressing the swelled up anger provoked by the other individual, one can just acknowledge that anger is there, inside."

"Without choosing to do anything about the swelling anger and by just passively watching its presence, immediately the anger loses its power; a gap between the person and the anger is created and that brings about a new situation – the person is no longer controlled by that emotion; instead he becomes the master of it. Simply by watching with a non-judgmental observing mind, the thoughts begin to recede and disappear; the emotional energy begins to lose its intensity and gets dissolved."

(Vasant Joshi in 'If It Could Happen To Buddha, Why Not You?' p. 132 Wisdom Tree)

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