In the beginning, the pull of conditioning is like a roaring river;

In the middle, the pull of conditioning is like a gentle stream;

In the end, the pull of conditioning is like a silent pond. 

In the preliminary or beginning stage,  the seeker attempts to break the hypnotic entrancement with body/mind/personality identification. This is no easy task. Again and again, the mind will become drawn into the world through the pull of desire or the push of fear.  In fact, in this stage, the seeker may for the first time become aware of just how unstable and changeable the mind is. 

Here, the support of self-enquiry is invaluable. Self-enquiry -- asking the question "Who Am I?" -- draws the attention away from the external phatasmagoria and towards the true source of self-identity. As the seeker's mind is drawn into identification with some detail of the false reality, the question can be asked: Am I this? The answer will always be "No" since anything perceived cannot be yourself; the eye cannot see itself. So, the core question remains like a constant moment-by-moment enquiry: Who Am I? In the absence of an answer, there is simply resting in the sense "I Am" without attribute.  

Notice, that at this stage the pointers offered by Maharaj are focused on breaking the entrancement with the "world out there" and the false idea of being a separate person in the world. How can you know you are not the body, unless you are external to it and able to perceive it?  

While at this stage, there is the appearance of incredible effort and discipline to pull the attention back from repeated lapses into self-identification, strong emotions and endless thoughts, by returning again and again to rest in the sense "I Am", the mind becomes calm and the pull of conditioning becomes less and less. 

Preparing the mind for the Advaitin Teachings

The ultimate reality is that there is no mind, no seeker, no duality. You are already the ultimate. This is not an intellectual understanding. However, there are barriers or obstacles that prevent this direct knowing. In the beginning of self enquiry, these barriers or obstacles can seem insurmountable to the seeker. 

The way to begin to remove obstacles is through meditation. The purpose of meditation is not to "become enlightened" or "find God".  Rather, it is to observe the stormy, unsettled and changeable nature of the mind. Instead of becoming immersed in the thoughts, feelings or dramas conjured up in the mind, simply observe. No effort is made to stop the thoughts. No effort is made to improve the quality of the thoughts, to think more spiritual thoughts or to achieve a silent mind. This striving will not work. Invite all the thoughts, all the feelings. Be aware of the vast capacity for every thought and feeling. Simply open, allow and observe.

Essentially you are training the mind, much like you may train a little puppy. If instead of keeping an energetic puppy confined, you let the puppy out and encourage it to run and run, eventually it will become tired and lie down. This then, is when the mind becomes still and calm.

What is key is the level of earnestness / burning desire for liberation with which the seeker approaches this daily meditation practice. Within regular and consistent effort, you will develop the techniques to observe the mind churning out thoughts and feelings without identification. Under the non-attached gaze, the volume is turned down on the thoughts and feelings produced by the mind, and their allure becomes less and less. At this stage, you can bring this quality on non-attached being into all the moments of your everyday life, not just your formal daily meditation sessions. 

Through mediation, you learn to introvert the mind. You observe the impulses to identify with and act on thoughts and feelings, but you do not act. You observe the impulses towards extroversion, yet you remain as the non-attached observer.

When the mind appears quieter, cooler and calmer, and there is a stable and on-going ability to simply observe the mind as a non-attached observer, the seeker has become "ripe" or "ready". 

Note 1: Often Self-Realized teachers will not work with seekers who have not reached this level of stability or readiness. This is because the unripe seeker is entranced by duality and content objectification, and will attempt to draw the teacher into pointless debates, rationalisations, and dramas of the mind. The Self-Realised teacher, however, will always offer the seeker the guidance on how to observe the unstable mind and the use of self-enquiry to introvert the mind.

Note 2: The instruction in neo-advaitan satsangs and discourses is that no effort or no doing in necessary. In these circles, simply the pointer or knowledge that you are the ultimate reality is sufficient; no meditation or preparation is necessary. This is like planting a seed in soil that is barren, dry and hard, rather than soil that has been prepared, aerated, composted and watered. How can the seed sprout and flourish without a well-prepared environment, water and care? Here, the suggestion is to prepare the mind.

Popular posts from this blog

How to Practise Self-Enquiry


Self-Observation -- Watch the Mind Like a Hawk