Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Opening the eye of meditation

It may seem surprising, but the biggest barrier to achieving a state of meditation are the eyes. The power of sight is the major portal through which we interact with the world, so it is reasonable to think that by closing them we can enter meditation. Unwittingly we have turned these small and delicate structures into a de facto boundary between the world within and without. Light falling on our eyes and creating images in the mind offers a convenient distraction that keeps our awareness locked onto the phenomenal world which is constantly changing. Thoughts are ever present, and this thought stream goes into overdrive the moment we close our eyes even for a few seconds. The sensory experiences that the eyes provide are invaluable to our mental wellbeing. Just imagine how restless we would be if we were made to sit in a dark room for even an hour or two with nothing to do. Although it is said that the eyes provide a window to the soul, what is more immediately apparent from the eyes is the state of mind. When the mind is tired, the natural response is to close the eyes; In a state of boredom, they are kept open for business hoping for a change in the inner scenery. Sometimes the thought of meditating comes when the mind is troubled, especially so when we are under a constant barrage of stressful situations.  When the mind is joyful, we don’t usually think of meditation. However, it would be highly advantageous to meditate when we are joyful rather than making it an escape from a mind fatigued from stress of daily life. Meditation isn’t an escape from the world. It is a transition to who we are, being one with the world. As a gatekeeper to the mind, the act of closing our eyes has become a metaphor for meditation. However, achieving and maintaining a state of meditation is not dependent on whether the eyes are open or closed.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The concept of 'The Guru'

A Guru-disciple connection is one of the most sacrosanct relationships, especially in the Eastern traditions, going back thousands of years. Every religion has this concept, such as the Prophets in the Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions. A Guru literally means ‘dispeller of darkness’. Traditionally a Guru is a person, but it need not be so. A Guru can also be in the form of right guidance that emanates from within, what is also called the voice of our conscience. However, it is easier to relate to a Guru in person, as the chatter of the mind drowns out the subtle suggestions of the conscience or the inner Guru. Furthermore, any message from the inner Guru is spoken only once. If we are not alert, the message is easily missed. It then ricochets through the mind and we hear several different versions colored by our logic, reasoning power and thoughts. A Guru in physical form embodies virtues such as patience and compassion and repeats his or her message till we get it. It then becomes a battle between the Guru’s message and our mind. When it comes to the mind, there are only two ways it can go. Either it comes under our control or we are under the control of the mind. Desires are the vehicles through which our self-mastery is ceded to the mind. Desires and the pursuit of them creates a veil of darkness through which we can neither see inwards nor see the pristine beauty of the world. Our awareness then becomes centered on the dark patches of unfulfilled desires in the mind.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Birthday: A day of gratitude

Birthdays are a rite of passage for all of us. Although that special day means something different to everyone at each stage of life, there is one thing in common. We would not be here to celebrate birthdays were it not for our parents. In addition to separate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, would it not be great if our birthdays would also be celebrated as Parent’s Day? That day would turn into a day of togetherness, day of giving and not getting.
Expectation builds as we approach every birthday, from “Who will send me wishes?” to “Who will buy me gifts and what will they be?” These expectations are also ingrained into our children. Instead, we ought make it a day on which we thank our biological parents for bringing us into the world, our teachers and mentors for shepherding us through school and college and last, but not the least to an unseen divine energy that pervades all life including ours. Without the gift of breath and life we would not be celebrating a birthday, whether ours or others.

Learning patience from a spider

Meditation is all about patience. A spider patiently builds a cobweb to trap insect, its food. In meditation, we work on taking down the cobweb called the mind in which are trapped remnants of all the food we have eaten through the senses. So we are no different from a spider in this sense. However, a spider is better than us in many ways. It builds a web but is unattached to the place where it is built. If someone intentionally or accidentally takes down a web that has taken hours for a spider to put up, it does not harm or bite the person. The spider retreats and starts over again. The silence is never disturbed.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

TANTRA: The Path of Enjoyment and Liberation

Historically, there has been a perception that the Tantra is a very esoteric and secretive practice and only a select few are able to partake in that knowledge. But that is far from the truth. It is as applicable to a busy householder as it is to renunciant monks living in remote mountain caves. Probably the greatest barrier preventing widespread acceptance and practice of Tantra is the perceived difficult nature of the subject, stubborn conditioned thinking and preconceived notions. A major shift occurs within when the philosophy of Tantra takes root. Change begins when we start with the fundamental question of who we are. This seemingly simple question when persisted with, quickly takes us out of our comfort zone of our current persona, with which were identified. Through rigorous mental conditioning it appears as real as daylight. This question of who we are, serves as a spark than burns down the illusory self we have come to accept as real. Depending on the level of our receptivity, the spark can result in a slow burning smouldering flame that takes years to bring about lasting transformation within us, or it can burn away all our misconceptions in a flash revealing the ultimate truth.