Wednesday, June 15, 2016

OBSTACLES IN MEDITATION - Mental Obstacles - PART IV ~ Swami Sivananda



24. Other Obstacles

If you can give up idle talks and gossiping and idle curiosity to hear rumours and news of others and if you do not meddle with the affairs of others, you will have ample time to do meditation. Make the mind quiet during meditation. If worldly thoughts try to enter the mind during meditation reject them. Have steady devotion to truth. Be cheerful. Increase the Sattvic materials in you. You can enjoy everlasting bliss.

Environments are not bad, but your mind is bad. Your mind is not disciplined properly. Wage a war with this horrible and terrible mind. Do not complain against bad environments but complain first against your own mind. Train your mind first. If you practise concentration amidst unfavorable environments, you will grow strong, you will develop your will-force quickly and you will become a dynamic personality. See good in everything and transmute evil into good. This is real Yoga. This is the real work of a Yogi.

Leakage of energy, hidden undercurrent of Vasanas, lack of control of senses, slackness in Sadhana, waning of dispassion, lack of intense aspiration, irregularity in Sadhana are the various obstacles in the path of concentration.

25. Prejudice, Intolerance and Bigotry

Prejudice is unreasonable dislike for something or some person. Prejudice makes the brain callous. The brain cannot vibrate properly to grasp the things in their true light. One cannot endure honest differences of opinion. This is intolerance. Religious intolerance and prejudice are great obstacles in the path of God-realisation. Some orthodox Sanskrit Pandits strongly think that only Sanskrit-knowing people will have God-realisation. They think that English-knowing Sannyasins are barbarians and they cannot have Self-realisation. Look at the thick foolishness of these bigoted Pandits! Incorrigible, petty- minded, narrow-hearted, crooked sectarians! If one has prejudice against Bible or Koran, he cannot grasp the truths of these books. His brain becomes hard, stony and callous. A man can realise by studying and following the principles that are laid down in Koran, Bible or Zend Avesta or the Pali books of Lord Buddha.

Aspirants should try to remove prejudice of all sorts. Then only they can see truth everywhere. Truth is not the sole monopoly of the Sanskrit Pandits of Varanasi or the Vairagi of Ayodhya. Truth, Rama, Krishna, Jesus are the common property of all.

Sectarians and bigoted people confine themselves to a small circumscribed circle or area. They have no large heart. They cannot see the good points in others on account of their jaundiced vision. They think that their principles and doctrines only are good. They treat others with contempt. They think that their Sampradaya only is superior to others and that their Acharya only is a man of God-realisation. They always fight with others. There is no harm in praising one's own Guru and sticking to his principles and teachings. But one should pay equal regard to the teachings of other prophets and other saints. Then only the feeling of universal love and universal brotherhood will manifest. This will eventually lead to the realisation of God or Atman in all beings. Prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, sectarianism should be thoroughly eradicated. Prejudice and intolerance are forms of hatred.

26. Rajas and Tamas

Rajas and Tamas try to obstruct meditation. The mind that was calm owing to the preponderance of Sattva during the course of meditation, begins to tremble and quiver owing to the entry of Rajas in excess. Sankalpas (imaginations) increase in number. Restlessness increases. Thoughts of action manifest. Planning and scheming come in. Take a little rest. Again do Japa. Pray and meditate. Take a little walk.

27. Sankalpas

Free yourself from the base thoughts of the mind, the various useless Sankalpas (imaginations). Make ceaseless enquiry of Atman. Mark the word ‘ceaseless.' This is important. Then only there will be dawn of spiritual knowledge. The Jnana-Surya (the Sun of Knowledge) will arise in the firmament of Chidakasa (knowledge-space).

28. Tamas or Inertia

A microscopic minority only is fit for wholetime meditation. People like Sadasiva Brahman and Sri Sankara only can spend the whole time in meditation. Many Sadhus who take to Nivritti Marga have become completely Tamasic. Tamas is mistaken for Sattva. This is a great blunder. One can evolve beautifully by doing Karma Yoga in the world if he knows how to spend his time profitably. A householder should seek the advice of Sannyasins and Mahatmas from time to time, draw a daily routine and adhere to it strictly amidst worldly activities. Rajas can be converted into Sattva. Intense Rajas takes a Sattvic turn. It is impossible to convert Tamas all of a sudden into Sattva. Tamas should be first turned into Rajas. Young Sadhus who take to Nivritti Marga do not stick to routine. They do not hear the words of elders. They do not obey the orders of the Guru. They want absolute independence from the very beginning. They lead a happy-go-lucky life. There is no one to check. They have their own ways. They do not know how to regulate the energy and how to chalk out a daily programme.

They aimlessly wander about from place to place. They become Tamasic within six months. They sit for half an hour in some Asana and imagine that they are realised souls. If an aspirant who has taken to Nivritti Marga finds that he is not evolving, that he is not improving in meditation, and is going into Tamasic state, he should at once take up some kind of service for some years and work vigorously. He should combine work along with meditation. This is wisdom. This is prudence. This is sagacity. Then he should go in for seclusion. One should use his common-sense throughout his Sadhana. It is very difficult to go out of Tamasic state. A Sadhaka should be very cautious. When Tamas tries to overtake him, he should immediately do some sort of brisk work. He can run in the open air, draw water from wells, etc. He should drive it off by some intelligent means or other.

29. Three Obstacles

When young aspirants take to absolute solitude and silence, they will have to face boldly three obstacles viz., depression, building castles in the air (Manorajya, Rasasvada) and hatred for householders, men and women. They become misanthropes. They should entertain cheerful thoughts. Watch the mind very often and radiate pure love for all. If one method does not help you in keeping up your Brahmacharya, you should take recourse to combination of various Sadhanas such as prayer, meditation, Pranayama, Satsanga, Sattvic diet, solitude, Vichara, Sirshasana, Sarvangasana, Uddiyana Bandha, Nauli, Asvini Mudra, Yoga Mudra, etc. Then only you will be successful.

30. Trishna and Vasana

Desire or Trishna (thirsting for objects) is the enemy of peace. There cannot be an iota of happiness for a man who is thirsting for sensual objects. When this thirsting dies, man enjoys peace. Now only he can meditate and rest himself in the Self.

The Vasanas are very powerful. The senses and the mind are very turbulent and impetuous. Again and again the battle must be fought and won. That is the reason why the spiritual path is called the razor-path in Kathopanishad. There is no difficulty for a man of strong determination and iron will even in the razor-path. Strength comes from within at every step.

Constant effort, or ceaseless striving is necessary if you want to realise God. Vasanas, desires and Trishnas (cravings) and old worldly Samskaras (impressions) are obstacles in the path. The inner battle has to be fought again and again.

31. Vikshepa

Vikshepa is tossing or oscillation of the mind. This is an old habit of the mind. This is distraction of the mind. All Sadhakas generally complain of this trouble. The mind never stays at a fixed point for a long time. It jumps hither and thither like a monkey. It is always restless. This is due to the force of Rajas. Whenever Sri Jayadayal Goenka came to me for an interview he used to put always two questions: "Swamiji, what is the remedy to control sleep? How to remove Vikshepa? Give me easy and effective method." My answer was: "Take light diet at night. Do Sirshasana and Pranayama." Sleep can be conquered. Trataka, Upasana, Pranayama and Yoga will remove Vikshepa. It is better to have a combined method. This will be more effective.

According to Patanjali Maharshi, disease, mental inactivity, doubt, indifference, laziness, the tendency to go after sense-enjoyments, stupor, false perception, non-attainment of concentration, and falling away from that when attained on account of restlessness, are the main obstructing distractions. He prescribes Pranayama for destroying Rajas which induces Vikshepa and for getting one-pointed mind.

If you remove the oscillation of the mind, you will get one-pointedness of mind or Ekagrata. Ekagrata is a thing unknown to many. Max Muller writes: "Ekagrata is impossible for us (Westeners), when our minds are diverted in various directions through newspapers, telegrams, postal communications, etc." Ekagrata is an indispensable condition in all religious and philosophical speculations, and in Nididhyasana.

In the Gita, Lord Krishna prescribes a Sadhana for removing Vikshepa: "As often as the wavering and unsteady mind goeth forth, so often reining it in, let him bring it under the control of the Self. Abandoning without reserve all desires born of the imagination, by the mind curbing in the aggregate of the senses on every side. Little by little let him gain tranquillity by means of reason controlled by steadiness; having made the mind abide in the Self, let him not think of anything."-Chapter VI-24, 25, 26.

Trataka is an effective method in destroying Vikshepa. Practise this for half an hour on a picture of Lord Krishna or on a black point on the wall. At first do this for two minutes and gradually increase the period. Close the eyes when tears come. Look steadily at the object without winking. Do not strain the eyes. Look gently. There are students who can do Trataka for 2 or 3 hours. For full description read my book "Kundalini Yoga."

A weak aspirant, though he may be strong in concentration, is overcome by idleness. But a strong aspirant, if he is weak in concentration, is overpowered by Vikshepa or tossing of mind. Concentration and energy should therefore be well-balanced.

32. Vishayasakti

Vishayasakti is intense desire or attachment to sensual pleasures or sense-objects. This is the greatest of all obstacles. The mind refuses to leave completely the sensual pleasures. Through the force of Vairagya and meditation, the desires get suppressed for some time. All of a sudden the mind thinks of sensual pleasures through the force of habit and memory. There arises mental disturbance. Concentration decreases. The mind moves outwards in sensual objects. In the Gita you will find: "O son of Kunti, the excited senses of even a wise man, though he be striving, impetuously carry away his mind. Such of the roving senses as the mind yieldeth to that hurries away the understanding, just as the gale hurries away a ship upon the waters."-Chapter II-60, 67. "The objects of senses, but not the relish for them turn away from an abstemious dweller in the body; and even relish turneth away from him after the Supreme is seen."-Chapter II-59. Some desires lurk in the corners of the mind. Just as old dirt from the corners of the room comes out when you sweep, so also through the pressure of Yogic practices, these old lurking desires come out to the surface of the mind with redoubled force. The Sadhaka should be very careful. He should be ever watching the mind vigilantly. He must nip the desires in the bud by developing his Vairagya, Viveka and increasing his period of Japa, and meditation. He must observe Akhanda Mouna and do vigorous meditation, and Pranayama. He should live on milk and fruits for 40 days. He should observe fast on Ekadasi days. He should give up mixing with anybody completely. He should never come out of the room. He should plunge himself deep into the Sadhana. Kashaya means hidden Vasana. This comes under the category of Vishayasakti. Worldly ambitions of all sorts can be included under this heading. Ambition makes the mind very restless. Man should have the one laudable ambition of getting Self-realisation.