Hridaya-Parikrama: The Spiritual Pilgrimage Within One’s Own Heart – Part 4

By Sajjana, see also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5, Part 6.

Fourth ‘Pada’ — The Invitation to Meditating in Love

Upon listening deeply to that place of the ‘loudest silence’ in the centre of our being, we can now hear the gently-whispered invitation by our eternal Beloveds Sri Sri Guru-Gauranga-Radha-Govindasundara to enquire within ourselves: ‘How can one change one’s relationship with one’s own mind, engaging it as the extremely valuable tool that it is rather than becoming hypnotically captivated by its vast warehouse of so-called knowledge (accumulated information which is not actually known experientially) and being forced to continue helplessly running on its hamster-wheel of deeply-ingrained habit patterns?’ Therefore we may perhaps begin by ‘eavesdropping’ on a segment of the Uddhava Gita where Sri Krishna is speaking to Uddhava about meditation. Sssshh…Be very quiet as we tiptoe over to respectfully approach them; these are Srimad Bhagavatam verses 11.14.28 and 11.14.31:  

tasmad asadabhidhyanam / yatha svapnamanoratham
hitva mayi samadhatsva / mano madbhava-bhavitam

…Therefore, disregard all longings for things which are as unreal
as what is experienced in a dream or in a mental reverie.
By settling the mind in Me,
it is transformed into My state of being.

What is referred to as the contracted, localised individual mental faculty is a partial expression of immaculate universal Consciousness, the essential nature of which is not altered at any time. Yet Consciousness does have the complete freedom and ability to partially, temporarily focus attention upon and identify with the dreamlike phenomena which It perceives and the body/mind instrument which It animates. So what is actually transformed is the way in which the one undivided Totality perceives and functions through a particular individual ‘vehicle’.        

sri uddhava uvacha
yatha tvam aravindaksha / yadrisham va yadatmakam
dhyayen mumukshur etan me / dhyanam tvam vaktum arhasi

The noble Uddhava said:
O one with lotus-like eyes,
How should one who is striving for freedom meditate upon You?—
As transcendent non-personified Spirit,
or in some particular deity-form?
It is most fitting that You speak to me about this meditation practice.

As our unborn, eternally unblemished nature is pure Consciousness, It could also be called Meditativeness, or That which is the perceiving observer of a meditator’s form engaged in the practice of meditation. This human form is referred to as ‘the subject’, yet it is clearly an object which is observed to be doing some sadhana of meditating on another object, whatever that second object may be, and both objects are appearing within undivided Infinite Awareness or in what Srila Sridhara Maharaja used to refer to as ‘the Supersubjective Realm’.       

In regard to pure Meditativeness being directed to the quality of one’s attention, it could be said that among the numberless different techniques available, they can all essentially be allocated to three foundational types of meditation which correspond to different resources or facilities which are innate within the human form of life and accessible to either greater or lesser degrees based on one’s sense of self-identity. One type of meditation is instinct-based, which involves narrowing and intensifying the focus of attention on a single object, either physical or mentally visualised, in a manner that excludes all other objects for the achieving of a very specific result. This ‘exclusivising’ is one of the most often recommended meditation techniques passed down from ancient times which is such a ‘natural resource’ that it can even be observed in animals and other lower life-forms in their hunting prey for their food and attending to predators who pose an immediate threat to their survival. 

Another type of meditation is intellect-based or contemplative, as employed in atma-vichara, introspective Self-enquiry, or in regard to the ‘processing’ of spiritual information received from various sources such as the ancient scriptures. Rather than narrowing, this type entails the expanding and broadening of attention in a more all-inclusive manner without imposing any fixed boundaries or predetermining any exclusively specific outcome. Whereas the previously-described type of meditation finds its greatest utility when a manifest expression of Consciousness is more identified with a concretely localised sense of self, this second type is found to occur very naturally when there is a more spacious sense of self beyond the body/mind instrument, and it is especially conducive to the development of viveka, discernment between what is real (eternal) and what is dreamlike (ephemeral). Yet all three types can be employed by the same person at different times, and they all possess the ever-present potential for evoking a deeper understanding of the multidimensional nature of Consciousness and its manifest expressions.

The third type is intuition-based, wherein there is the complete relaxing of attention altogether and simple abiding as the neutral witness of all that is perceived in the present moment, which would include remaining as the non-reactive and non-judgmental witness of the other two meditation processes as well if they happen to ‘kick in’ and begin functioning during the time allotted solely for nonspecific observation. In this type there is no self-identification as either a localised or an expanded entity, nor any sense of perpetual affiliation with any of the evanescent phenomena perceived. 

As this third type is also devoid of the identity of being a thinker of thoughts which arise, one simply abides as pure Being without any kind of internal doing, and any way in which a thought appears, it is allowed to just be as it is and settle itself with neither indulgence in the thought nor reactive opposition to it, because both pursuing and pushing away are two sides of the same coin of involvement by an imagined ego-self, a turning of attention away from our unborn nature as purely ‘agendaless’ Awareness. Unlike the looking at, looking for, or looking through associated with the other two types of meditation, in this type there is only pure looking (perceiving) or looking from the place of one’s changeless natural state as the ever-causelessly-contented presence of Consciousness (satchidananda). Comparatively speaking, this approach could perhaps be viewed as more classically embodying the spirit of atma-nivedana or self-surrender to the Divine Will.

All three of the above-mentioned types of meditation are incorporated within the practice instructed by Krishna in response to Uddhava’s enquiry. Bhagavatam verses 11.14.36-42 entail intellect-based visualisation which shifts to one-pointed focusing of attention in verse 43 and concludes with the dropping of both for resting as empty, thought-free Awareness in verse 44. The aforementioned third type of meditation may prove to be helpful as well in the chanting of the holy names of the Lord on one’s japa rosary or in singing bhajans and kirtans, as it allows one to lose one’s sense of being a separate ego-self doing the chanting or singing, and as Srila Prabhupada used to say, ‘simply become absorbed in hearing the transcendental sound-vibration’. As it is said in a number of contemporary spiritual communities: ‘One plus one always equals one when you’re in love’.

Sometimes it may be found that during the first rounds that we chant, there seems to be approximately 350% more ‘internal noise’ coming from our mind than there was before we began chanting. Sometimes this can be quite disturbing, while at other times the thoughts can be quite inspiring and enlivening. Yet either way, if this is simply consciously noticed without any ‘story’ about the thoughts which arise, then it can be delightfully discovered that upon their not being given the least bit of energising attention or self-identification—‘That’s me talking there’—which is the food upon which thoughts grow and flourish, then they gradually subside, dwindle, and disappear. An example of this principle is that if any uninvited guests come to one’s home and they are completely ignored—not given any sitting place, snacks, refreshments, or attention—there is every likelihood that they will not remain there for very long. 

Then, upon chanting subsequent rounds, it is often found that our attention is provided a welcome space for simply hearing the Holy Names, this space consisting of the requisite Silence, Presence (sat), Awareness (chid), Contentment (ananda), and Equanimity for such meditation while relegating us to effortlessly abiding in our true nature as well. Hence it is ultimately the natural, relaxed, completely non-combative deconstruction of the false ego-self which evokes a profound shift in the way that one experiences life and discovers ‘the next obvious step’ on one’s uniquely individual spiritual path—when one simply ceases to continue ‘feeding’ or ‘fuelling’ the egoically-conditioned mind.

Unbridled Potentiality Willing, perhaps on the next ‘leg’ of our journey we can continue conjointly exploring the nature of utterly unmitigated Consciousness with the question: ‘I’ve heard so much on the Internet about ‘deepening in love’, so what might that look like within the parameters of proper British decency?’ Until then, I wish you an ultra-sattvic day (which is even superior to one which is ultrasonic), and any Harmonist readers wishing to contact me with questions or comments are most welcome to do so at alandi108 at gmail.com.


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