Saturday, April 18, 2015

Meditation: A Point of Singularity

There are innumerable ways of describing or defining the state of consciousness offered to us as the goal of meditation. From stress relief to enlightenment to cosmic consciousness, the terminology alone is rich with implication and promise. Modern medicine and Buddhist-inspired mindfulness suggest a state of mind set free from the negative effects of stress and resting calmly in the peace within.

Just as the process of maturity is an ever-expanding continuum of awareness, inner strength and acceptance, so meditation opens up a mind whose vista is potentially ever-new, ever-expanding, and ever-increasing in self-awareness, knowledge, empathy and wisdom.

There are also numerous meditation techniques: too numerous to attempt a list here. As a life-long meditator and teacher of meditation I feel safe and confident in affirming and corroborating the tenet that real meditation begins when our thoughts are still (and the body is relaxed, if alert). Techniques can medically, emotionally, and psychically greatly aid in bringing our mind and body to POINT OF SINGULARITY. It is the true beginning point of the adventure of meditation.

Let me state, first, however, that it would be a false expectation to imagine that the beginning point presupposes the onset of satori, samadhi, or any other "mind-blowing" experience. Rather, it resembles achieving calmness in the midst of an intense emotional crises. Calmness, in such cases, is simply the necessary beginning point for figuring out what to do next.

It's like being on a quest and being instructed to go to quiet place in the forest and sit until you receive the next instruction. The instruction may, or may not, come while sitting there. It may come after you've gone home. It may arrive in an email or phone call. Meditation, like work, starts with showing up. Showing up starts not with exercises, chanting, or other meditation techniques, but with being clear as a crystal, ready to receive the next instruction, when, and if, it comes. (This can happen in the midst of meditation exercises, too, at which point it is generally advised to discontinue the technique in favor of the experience!)

As sleep rests the body and nervous system, meditation clears the psyche of emotional and mental static (after first relaxing the body). This is my point: a point of singularity. The second aphorism in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali defines the state of yoga as a state where all reactive mental and emotional processes have ceased.

In fairness to Patanjali and the depth of meaning contained in this most important of all (the nearly) two hundred aphorisms, he is referring to BOTH the beginning AND the end point (goal) meditation. By contrast, I am referring in this article only to the beginning point. But, they are, of course, related and inextricably linked: the first being the prerequisite for the second.

When I hear the phrase "chop wood and carry water" I image a person doing something "perfectly" mundane with a "perfectly" clear and settled mind and a body so relaxed that only those movements and muscles needed for the task are engaged (not unlike true yoga posture-asana).

This is a good intuitive image for a "point of singularity." The only difference is that I am referring to it occurring in meditation, not in daily action. (This can flow naturally from it being practiced and experienced in meditation.)

Philosophers and sages down the ages have referred to the duality of creation: male & female; reason & feeling; objective & subjective; heat & cold; and so on. It is axiomatic that the uniting of the two is at least the symbol of enlightenment or some other desirable state of mind or being.

Think of a point of singularity as a point where the mind, subjective and self-aware, replete with feeling merges with the object of contemplation. You cannot literally merge with a candle flame by staring at it. But by focusing your inward awareness (usually with eyes closed) on the awareness of the self being aware, you most certainly can

Few meditators are subtle enough and settled enough in their minds to do this, however. Hence the plethora of techniques such as watching the breath, feeling the movements of subtle energy in the body, or visualizing the guru, a deity, or an abstract image or concept (light, joy, spiritual color, sacred sound, etc.) A well known technique is observe oneself observing and mentally ask "Who am I?" "Who is observing whom?"

Moses asked the burning bush, "Who are you?" Is not the burning bush the flame of our self-awareness, burning bright within us, especially in meditation? The flame answered saying, "I AM THAT I AM!" Does not the Self within answer us, wordlessly, at times?

Sometimes in my use of various "kriya" techniques based on energy currents (prana), I imagine that the energy is erasing all memory of name, form, past, personality, desires and tendencies. In this way, with each movement of prana, I am clearing and cleaning the pathways of energy so that no one remains but pure energy and self-awareness.

As I begin my meditation, I invoke the living presence of my guru-preceptor, Paramhansa Yogananda, or one (or all) of those in his line of gurus, to assist me on the subtle level or energy or consciousness in the task of ego-clearing transcendence. When I feel I am ready to settle in and past my technique(s), I might then gaze clearly and steadily into the "Spiritual I" at the point between the eyebrows to see who and what might be there: I AM THAT I AM. Go beyond words and images and BE.

Is this not the "only begotten son of God" sent to redeem us from the captivity of ego? Is this not the living Christ, or Krishna consciousness: the watcher, the observer, the witness?

This is where the me confronts the I of God. When this is successful, I can stand and "chop wood and carry water."

Blessings to I THAT AM YOU,

Nayaswami Hriman