The four – day discussion in Mumbai, on “What is Meditation”, in a group of devotees inspired me to write this article.
The Indian panorama of spiritual world is full of diversity, vividness and variety of “process” of meditation, that a novice in this field is fumbled and confused as to which “process” or “path” he should follow in order to reach his goal of Self-Realisation. In India if you walk ten miles in any direction you will come across some Guru, Maharaj, Swami or Baba worth noticing with his peculiar siddhi (occult power) challenging the scientific attitude on its own ground. But we should not go altogether on the face value of these siddhas,( the one who has achieved occult powers) but with caution and discrimination one should know the gem from semi precious stones.
However, these individuals in this field who are truly spiritual and can operate on the level beyond mind and intellect. These persons have seen God face to face and live in the presence of god. Gurudev and Krishnamurti are such cosmic spirits who are rarely found.
Osho in his book Meditation has described around 108 meditative processes, most of them are developed by himself but his emphasis is on Zen way of life ; Sri. V. V. Gokhale’s “Dhyanavidya” (Science of Meditation) describes 39 processes that are currently followed in India. These two books are quite representative on this subject. Daniel Goleman’s book “The Varieties of the Meditative Experience” is of interest for readers who want to know the 14 international paths and their methods, as he puts it “There are many different paths that the meditator can choose on his or her journey to spiritual enlightenment”, but he further advises “get beyond the emotional attachments to our own method” only “to arrive at the common end of transformation and enlightenment”.
By which side of Everest you are climbing is not important, but have you finally reached the peak and became an enlightened one ? We may be following a particular Guru or Teacher and his method of meditation for about 40/50 years, and exactly where we are ? We may not be at the door of final Satori or Enlightenment but are we at least at the 8th or 9th stage of Zen Bull Story ?(Appeared in the book “Zen Flesh and Zen Bones” by Paul Reps)
This is the question one should honestly put to one self and be out of sleep. If our approach is wrong then we must correct it, if our understanding of particular process of meditation is short of right perception, then we must again totally surrender to our Guru or Teacher and get directed for true meaning of his Initiation, the essence of his Grace, or Dialogue so that we may again start afresh and if possible in this very present body realize what we wanted to and mean by meditation whether it is ‘Nam’(sacred word) received secretly from Guru or Awareness as put it by Teacher in the open discussion.
Out of the labyrinth of “meditative processes” I want to concentrate on above two processes as we are deeply involved in them.
The Nam process advocated by saints like Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram and others and by Gondavalekar Maharaj and Gurudeo Ranade in the present times has its roots in our Indian way of spiritual life.
If I am to quote Gurudeo, “Nam (sacred word) is a symbol which carries with it the spiritual power, and ‘Namsmaran’ (repeating the sacred Mantra given by Guru) is a process of identification with God”.The ultimate stage of Nam is the process of identifying with God – a live Energy of Creation – or to let go oneself with the flow of life without your personal ego interfering in it.
Our everyday life of Sansar (material world) every act of the material life is useless unless it is related to God and this will one day dissolve our personal boundaries of mind and ego – one day we will be Gods. It means less and less of attachments with material objects or events or relations that bind us with desires, but being in Sansar(material world) executing all the duties with perfection not as a karta (head) but as a witness, is the key of spiritual journey.
The other process of meditation where in instead of ‘Nam’, ‘Choiceless Awareness’ becomes the witness of all that flows through our mind as time and space. In ‘Nam’ as the intensity of process deepens, the ‘me’ or ‘I’ as the doer in process is diminished gradually or suddenly. It depends how far the Sadhaka(the meditator) has understood the ‘how’ of process or in ‘Choiceless Awareness’, how far the happening of ‘witness process’ is achieved without the motive of achievement. In both the processes the ‘me’ should gradually or suddenly disappear and what remains is the non doer, non-witness, ‘just seeing’ the events of life as they happen.
So whether it is the sacred word or mantra or sound received from Guru or from the state or perception arrived at during intense dialogue in Satsang(a group of devotees)of choiceless Awareness. Both are psychological evolutionary stages instrumental in touching the state of cosmic existence.
One should understand that Nam is not at all only repetition or concentration but contemplation and going beyond the Word, Form and Thing and to know the web of Desire and our unconscious with a witness attitude.
The moment time and thought enter into your process, then ‘Nam’ is not ‘Nam’ or Choiceless Awareness is not Awareness . You are caught in an endless cycle of suffering.
“Meditation through Choiceless Awareness is the process of understanding your own mind. If you don’t understand your own thinking, which is self knowledge, then whatever you think has very little meaning only a self hypnosis”.
The state where the contemplator of Nam and Nam and the process of Nam are one is the real state of Nem (sitting for Nam Meditation). The one who is aware ,of the process of awareness and object of awareness are not separate but one indivisible state where truth operates.
One or two words on the actual details of Nam and Awareness process. Please note this observations are the outcome of my personal experience.
If namasmaran is done with deep faith then such process becomes effortless, a kind of natural state, in harmony with your daily acts of everyday life. Whether you are cooking, sweeping, taking bath or doing your Nem (sitting for Nam Meditation), there is no difference in your state of mind, no change of psychological attitude, but one continuum of time and space where mind slowly and unknowingly comes to a state of stillness.
Wamanrao Pai in his book “Namacha Nandadeep” (Light of Nam) describes two types of Nam, one is Sadhak Nam( sacred word given by the Guru to a disciple ) and the other is Siddha Nam( the same word by constant repetition becomes a powerful) . Without the practice of Sadhak Nam you will not reach the stage of Siddhanam. Further he gives eleven sub divisions of Sadhakanam. His analysis of internal Nam based on Vaikhari (is to repeat the Nam loudly in a group), Madhyama ( is heard only by oneself), Pashyanti ( to repeat the Mantra in the mind without moving lips), Para (last stage where Mantra is repeated effortlessly in Samadhi) This analysis of Sadhaknam is extremely useful for the sadhak disciple . The interested sadhak should read his book.
Sri Gondavalekar Maharaj used to give only one Nam to his disciples while Gurudeo was giving different Nam to the disciples as per their evolutionary progress.
While K’s process of Choiceless Awareness, the perception of what is without time and thought e.g. without the interference of mind brings about Energy which is the source of our existence. And in that energy there is no division as perceiver, perceived and perceiving only one entity without word and form like the state when in deep contemplation of Nam, you are in the middle of breath.
So ‘Nam’ and ‘Awareness’ should merge into one another only to create the state of emptiness where Creative Energy of Cosmos exists. It is a natural effortless state with Energy.
Whether by Nam or Awareness the immensity of Cosmos should be felt. Your whole mind with its all levels of consciousness should be purified and transformed. In that state whatever you do it is the act of Cosmos, act of God. From our personalized word, form or deity, Nam becomes the Cosmic energy for which it stands.
Inhale Nam and spread it all over the body from head to toe. Retain Nam in the body holding your breath. Exhale Nam and let your consciousness spread over the cosmos outside. In so doing the Image of Nam finally merges with Cosmic Energy abandoning your body consciousness. You are in a no – ego, no – I, no – gravity state (attachment). You are in the Nameless state of middle of sushmna ,(middle breath) leaning neither to right nor to left paths. The state where even Gods aspire to be.
Nam is associated with breath process while Awareness is related to the process of mind where witnessing the movement of thought is done by Awareness synchronizing the rhythm of breath. The inner utterance of Nam at Para level is the real practice of Nem. If Nam is uttered without any reference to your breathing, then it is a dry infertile, repetition. It will never bring an enlightened state.
This is also true with Choiceless Awareness. If one who is Aware is without intensity and seriousness of purpose, then our Awareness is another conditioning and it will be only word without the essence, hypnotizing the listener. Without deep intensity, Awareness becomes mania.
Nam and Choiceless Awareness are not contradictory but complimentary. Their goals are not different, both are reaching Everest from two opposite sides.
Through Nam or Choiceless Awareness one has to forget one’s own religion and should dissolve in the universal religion. Then you are just Spiritual and nothing else.
The merging of Nam with the breath brings the trinity of the one who is uttering Nam, the Nam of the thing and the process of Nam should be one, as also in Choiceless Awareness, the one who is aware, the thing about you are aware, and the process of awareness should be one activity then only in that state Benediction descends.
By Kanhaiya Joshi
Meditation : The First and Last Freedom : Osho
The Varieties of the Meditative Experience : Daniel Goleman
Link : Yearly Publication of J. K. Teaching : Amsterdam
Namacha Nandadeep : Vamanrao Pai.
Discourses : Gondavlekar Maharaj.