Choose Realistic Goals in Meditation

Bodhinatha talks about the problematic attitude of getting sad when our spiritual experiences aren't as deep as we want them to be or think they should be. He reminds us of Gurudeva's mahavakyam, "Life is meant to be lived joyously." In meditation it is useful to have more than one goal--a really easy one, a hard one and a really hard one. This ensures success at something, so we feel our meditation has been worthwhile even if we didn't realize the Self that time.

Unedited Transcript:

There were some devotees last phase and something about being on the path came up. What someone experiences, everyone else does too. Part of the spiritual journey is that, it is not unique. Everyone goes through the same steps, the same stages, the same experiences. So, this one of course, we have all encountered before and I am sure you are familiar with it.

A very sincere devotee, a woman, was asking about the spiritual path, spiritual life and spiritual striving. Certainly, she was sincere in wanting to have deeper spiritual experiences which was all really, really wonderful to see. But, she also had a sad attitude. She was sad because her spiritual experiences were not deeper than they were. Here she was on the path practicing very sincerely everyday and having this concept in mind that, "All the great spiritual experiences that are there toward the end of the path that I am not having. I am not having them. So, I am sad."

So, she was creating a sad journey for herself. That is a pretty long journey from where she was to this end-of-the-path paradise, blissfulness, all-pervasiveness and so forth that she wanted to experience more of right now. So it made me think about that.

Of course, it is not Gurudeva's attitude. He says, "Life is meant to be lived joyously." He does not say that we should be sad until we experience Parasiva or until we are all-pervasive or something. No, he does not say that. He says, "Life is meant to be lived joyously." Meaning, when we are on the spiritual path, we should enjoy it. We should not parade concepts that make us unhappy because of what we are not experiencing. Why do that? That is an understanding of the spiritual path which is flawed. We want to look at it so we not only enjoy the end of the path, but we enjoy getting there. We want to have fun on this journey, enjoyable journey. Laugh, smile, enjoy ourselves. Not just hold our breath, cry and feel unsatisfied till we finally get to the end of it. That is a long time away.

One example of that is our morning meditation. You know, the monks meditate every morning. We are all trying to realize Parasiva. It is an important part of our discipline. I don't know if any monks look at it this way. We could have the attitude, "I am meditating, I am going to realize Parasiva." If we come out of the meditation and we haven't realized Parasiva, we could be sad, right? We could be frustrated. "So, I didn't realize Parasiva again, this is terrible. Another day without Parasiva. Life is barely worth living." We could create that attitude by how we look at it, without even giving much thought to it.. We frustrate ourselves and we don't enjoy the journey along the path.

I explained this to one of the monks. You can set it up so that you have more than one goal in meditation. Create some easy ones, some harder ones and some very hard ones. For example, easiest goal is sim shum bee see, feeling the spiritual energy of the spine. That is easy to do, anyone can do that. But, it is also worthwhile. Just really going into that spiritual energy, becoming centered and content and so forth is something any of the monks can do in any meditation. So, do that first. Get the satisfaction of that. Get the success of that and say, "OK, this is great. I feel wonderful and fulfilled. I am not frustrated. I am fulfilled. I experienced sim shum bee see."

Now, let us see if we can go deeper. Let us strive for the inner light. Try and go into the intense inner light that we try to go in our morning meditations. Maybe we won't get there. We will get there on some days and not on others. If the mind is a little bit disturbed, we won't see the inner light. The mind has to be calm, in order to see it. If we get there, fine. If we don't, that is fine too. "I, at least got to sim shum bee see. It was a worthwhile meditation."

Then, we try and go deeper yet, we try and experience Parasiva. Well, that might not happen that often but we try for it anyway. If it does, great. If it does not, we are still happy. We set ourselves up, so we feel fulfilled, not frustrated by the meditation we experience. Just because we didn't experience Parasiva, we are not heartbroken, crushed and sad the rest of the day. That sounds silly, you can laugh at it. But, still you can set yourself up that way if you are not careful and fail in meditation, fall short and therefore, feel frustrated and lacking. Whereas, meditation should never make you feel that way. It should always make you feel fuller, more fulfilled, more content than you were before you started, not less content.