Understanding Mind, Meditation and Control
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2009-05-11
Gurudeva's Yoga Sutras. Commanding, cultivating, strengthening, and controlling our thinking, emotions, awareness, energy and willpower. Traveling through various states of mind. Constantly challenging ourselves. Increasing the ability to concentrate in meditation.
Good morning everyone. Welcome to our guest this morning, nice to have you with us.
The current weeks teachings in Merging with Siva are about awareness, awareness and consciousness, and it's one of Gurudeva's key concepts for understanding meditation, understanding the mind, understanding how to control the various experiences we have in our emotions and our thinking mind.
The key concept that I marked here reads this way:
"Consciousness and awareness are the same when awareness is totally identified with and attached to that which it is aware of. To separate the two is the artful practice of yoga. Naturally, the Shum-Tyeif language is needed to accomplish this. When awareness is detached from that which it is aware of, it flows freely in consciousness."
Sometimes I was, I compare these teachings to Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and we might someday organize them more on that form. Because when you pull them out just one line at a time, in the style of the sutras, can reflect on them naturally. And those of you who remember Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, this I thought would be a great sutra to begin Gurudeva's Yoga Sutras with:
"Consciousness and awareness are the same when awareness is totally identified with and attached to that which it is aware of."
Patanjali starts out: "Yoga is restraining the mind stuff from taking various forms." That's his approach.
So, the idea, for those who aren't familiar with it, is to think of consciousness, the various states of mind: happiness, sadness, joy, sorrow, as something we travel through. Gurudeva uses the analogy to a city, the city of San Francisco, because we used to have a center there. This one he used in the writings.
For traveling through a city we go through the various districts. Some districts are wealthy, some are poor, some are business districts, some are shopping districts. We're just traveling around going through these various districts. The districts are always there, right? Even if we're not experiencing they don't go away just because we're not there. Well, likewise, the various states of mind, joy and sorrow, they're always there and we can travel through them once we figure out how to do that. And that's the idea of meditation through the Shum-Tyeif language.
The basic concept, once we give thought to consciousness and awareness as two different things is that we can control the states of consciousness we experience which is an important idea. In other words, quite often the state of consciousness we're in is simply a reaction to something that happened outside of us. Somebody was nasty to us, so we're upset. Somebody was nice to us, so we're happy. Obviously, the states of mind we're experiencing aren't under our control, they're under control of the people around us. They're determining what we experience. So, the idea is we don't have to let ourselves go through that; we can command our awareness to experience different states of consciousness no matter how people are treating us.
There's a related thought which also would be a great Sutra Number Two: "Energy, awareness and willpower are one and the same." In other words we were talking about awareness. Awareness can also be called energy, it can also be called willpower. It has these different qualities; in English it comes out in different words but it's actually a one thing being described in different ways. Awareness and energy being one thing, for example: If we're doing something we don't like, we've been doing it for a while, we probably get tired; we start to feel tired. But, if we're doing something we really like, we never feel tired. We just going forever. We keep bringing in energy. In other words because we're interested in it, because our awareness is focused intensely upon it, we have lots of energy. So, when we have awareness, lots of awareness, we have lots of energy. It's easy to accomplish meaning we have lots of willpower. So, if ever you find something boring try and figure out how you actually enjoy doing it. You'll probably find some new energy in it.
Willpower is an important point that relates to wellness, awareness. So, I marked that as the third one. How do we cultivate the willpower? What do we mean by will? "Will means that if you're going to complete something, you complete it. Finish that which you begin. Finish it well, beyond your expectations, no matter how long it takes. If you're going to do something do it well no matter if it is a simple task or a complicated one. If you're going to read a book and intend to finish the book, then read the book, finish the book and understand what it had to offer you for that was the purpose for reading it."
So, what Gurudeva is saying is willpower, or the ability to accomplish things, is strengthened in two ways. By finishing what we start and by doing it well. In some places he says: Even better than you planned to. So we challenge our self when we do things. We don't let ourselves start something and not finish it and we don't let ourselves do something not to the best of our ability, of course, according to the time we have. We can never do something outside of the time frame that we have to do it in but we do the best job we can and a little better, within the time frame given, and we finish it. And in that way we strengthen our willpower. Gurudeva compares willpower and the ability to accomplish things to a muscle. If you want to strengthen a muscle, what do you do? You use it, right? You exercise it. The more you use a muscle the stronger it is. It gets stronger through use. You don't, it's not, compared to a resource. The water, the more you use water the less there is. But, it's not that way with willpower. The more you use it the more you have. Just as the more you use a muscle the stronger it is. And the relevant point is that the willpower that we acquire in accomplishing our outer tasks is there to do inner tasks. For example, when we sit down and we want to meditate, the same willpower that we've developed to handle our outer tasks is there to handle our inner tasks and concentrating the mind takes a lot of willpower. Sitting still takes a lot of willpower. So, in doing outer tasks and constantly challenging ourselves and increasing our willpower,,therefore, it increases our ability to go within in meditation. The two are related. There're not unrelated. It's the same quality. Likewise, the same concentration we develop and improve through our outer tasks by paying attention to what we're doing is available when we sit down to meditate. So, when we increase it in outer tasks we also increase our ability to concentrate better in meditation which, of course, can be a challenge unless we study it out and figure out how to do that.
Thank you very much for listening.
[End of transcript.]