Thursday, May 11, 2017

Meditation: Is the Practice the Same as the Goal?

In the previous article the theme was to remember the "point," i.e., the purpose of meditation: to enter a state of inner peace, or joy, or love. I said this even while knowing that this isn't the "ultimate" purpose of meditation. It is, however, a realistic starting point. 

Much of the article was about remembering to focus on the interim goal of achieving inner peace and not to focus too much on its techniques and step-by-step routine. I went so far as to say that, when pressed for time, feeling inspired, or strongly resistant to your techniques and routine, it may be helpful to draw down that otherwise familiar state of inner peace and to do so without regard to your techniques or routine. 

Never let the practice of meditation eclipse the goal of meditation if that goal can be accessed without the techniques. At the same time, an intelligent and attuned meditator knows that the time-honored, guru-given techniques have the power to take one deeper when practiced as taught.

But in making those points, I ignored, for the purposes of that article, a further and deeper point. It is also perhaps too subtle a point for beginning meditators, at least. But it is one that needs to be expressed.

To start, I'd like to quote my teacher, Swami Kriyananda, from his book "Awaken to Superconsciousness." (This book is one of my favorites and it is the core text to the Meditation Teacher Training course at the Institute of Living Yoga in Bothell.) In Chapter 5, The Basic Attitudes of Yoga, he writes:

The more you seek rest as the consequence of doing, rather than in the process of doing, the more restless you will become. Peace isn’t waiting for you over the next hill. Nor is it something you construct, like a building. It must be a part of the creative process itself.

Thus it is that we err in the practice of meditation if we imagine we'll find that state of inner peace AFTER we do our techniques! Instead. we should recollect and affirm the inner peace we seek in a prayerful and reverent way AT THE BEGINNING of our meditation. As a result, we will infuse our routine and our techniques WITH that inner peace, attuning our consciousness to its ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new omnipresence just behind our ordinary consciousness. 

At the end of our practices as we turn deeper into the silence, going from "doing" (practicing techniques) to "being" (sitting in the silence), we will thus more consistently and more deeply find that state of inner peace blossoming like a flower at the dawn.

With this approach we demolish the false dichotomy between "doing" and "being;" between techniques and their goal. The deep lesson here is an affirmation of and in time the realization that peace is our very nature; that peace (and joy, love, etc) are ours already and always. Isn't that TRUE yoga?

As we experience the truth of this, then resistance to techniques or routine begins to dissolve, even if it is also true that there is a difference between practicing meditation and meditating! The last article posited the idea that the one leads to the other. This article takes this deeper to say that deepest truth is that the practice of "yoga" is the same thing as the goal of "yoga." Yoga means union: Oneness.

Joy to You!

Swami Hrimananda

Articles to come: the one GREAT SECRET of meditation will be revealed. And, how to make every hour of the day a meditation.