Awareness and Controlling Thought
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2010-07-06
Impatience in western consciousness, certain things may take lifetimes. Acceptance and adjustments to what actually is. Awareness, energy and willpower are the same thing. Watch every thought carefully; some will be intuitions. Restrain the mind every single day.
Today's "Merging With Siva" lesson, it's on attention.
"The grand old man of the East who ordained me, Jnanaguru Yoganathan, Yogaswami of Jaffna, used to say time and time again, 'It was all finished long ago.' It's finished already. The whole mind is finished, all complete, in all stages of manifestation. Man's individual awareness flows through the mind as the traveler treads the globe.
"Now we come to the real study, and this applies right to you and to you personally: the five steps on the path of enlightenment. What are they? Attention, concentration, meditation, contemplation and Self Realization. Those are the five steps that awareness has to flow through, gaining strength each time, on the path to enlightenment. When we first start, awareness is flowing through many areas of the mind. And if it is a mature awareness, we will say it's a great big ball of light, flowing through the mind. And if it's not a mature awareness, it's like a ping-pong ball, bouncing around. The little ping-pong ball awareness is not going to walk the path of enlightenment, so to speak. It's going to wobble around in the instinctive mind, incarnation after incarnation, until it grows to a great big ball, like a great big beach ball. Then finally it will have enough experiences flowing through the mind to turn in on itself. When this happens, certain faculties come into being. One of them is willpower. And we learn to hold attention. We learn to hold awareness at attention. Awareness: attention!"
That gives a nice sense of the time frame involved in making spiritual progress. It's a fairly large time frame. In western consciousness we want everything yesterday. Not even just today but yesterday. We're impatient. We're impatient to overcome certain weaknesses, impatient to do this, impatient to do that but this idea that certain things take many many lifetimes to work through gives us a sense of how it looks from Gurudeva's point of view.
One of the hardest adjustments to make is to adjust to what actually is rather than what we want things to be. If we can do that then it's, we can make more progress. In other words. we kind of wish certain difficulties didn't exist in our life, certain complications, this, that, certain character traits in our family members and so forth. We wish all that was different. We're kind of, we're challenged dealing with it. Whereas, if we can accept it and simply deal with it we can make more progress.
"Then we automatically move into the next step, concentration. The hummingbird, poised over the flower, held at attention, begins to look at the flower, to concentrate on it, to study it, to muse about it, not to be distracted by another flower -- that is awareness moving. Awareness distracted, here, is awareness simply moving to another flower, or moving to another area of the mind."
Awareness, energy and willpower are all the same thing. That relates to concentration. It's a very interesting meditation to think of energy, awareness and willpower and then to realize they're the same part of us. We're just giving three different names to it. Describing three different major qualities of the same part of us.
A good way of starting a reflection on that is to think about the difference when we're doing something we really don't like to do and when we're doing something we really like to do. And we're doing something we really don't like to do, five minutes seems like an hour, right? Boy, this is taking forever. When we're doing something we really like to do the opposite. An hour seems like five minutes. Why is that? Has to do with our interest, with the amount of awareness we can place into something. The more interested we are in something the more our awareness is attracted to something, the more energy we have to do it. The more willpower we have to accomplish it. And when we're not interested in something then we're lacking willpower and energy and it's really hard to do it.
So, it's a great meditation to think about it and on the practical side if we're having trouble doing something try and make, try and figure out how to make it more interesting; it'll go faster. There must be some aspect of it that we haven't quite grasped that could make it more interesting to us.
There's some quotes from Yogaswami on concentration.
"One method is to stop all thoughts. Another method is to remain simply as a witness allowing the thoughts to come and go. As one becomes more and more mature in this Sadhana thoughts will begin to come from mounam. (Meaning intuition, silence.) Be very attentive to those thoughts."
So, that's pointing out an interesting idea. Something we mention when we talk about intuition is that it's there right now. We're having intuitive thoughts. We're having insights but we're not paying enough attention to all of our thoughts to notice them. So, if we watch every single thought carefully some of them will be intuitions. That's what Yogaswami's saying.
"Waves rise in the ocean; so waves of thought arise in the mind. Yoga is to control thoughts as they arise. Great ones say that Yoga means union. If you want to take hold of something, all the fingers must join together; similarly, in order to reach God, the mind must become one-pointed. It is not a simple thing to control the mind. It cannot be done in a day, or even in a year. Through constant effort thoughts can be controlled a little. In this way the uncontrollable mind can finally be brought under control. This is the supreme victory."
That's the idea again that progress is a bit slower then we may want but it is there. And you can't see progress on a day to day basis. You can see it, you compare yourself to how you were a few years ago, hopefully, you'll see some progress. Not to how you were yesterday. So, in this sense our concentration will improve through practice. That's what Yogaswami's telling us but we have to practice consistently and not concentrate one day and then three days we let our mind go wild. And then we concentrate one day and two days it goes crazy. No, we have to try and restrain it every single day. Not, not in a stoic sense, you know, not in an aesthetic stoic sense but in an inner way that is serious. We're serious about controlling our thoughts.
"When you go to bed, keep your mind free from thoughts. If thoughts arise, get up and think them out before you go to bed. When you go to sleep be free from thoughts by postponing everything to the next morning. "
Sounds like that idea of making an appointment, doesn't it? I'll think about this tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock. Anyway, I didn't know that was there. The wonderful thing about a computer, you just... I open up "Words of Our Master" and I search concentration. And it pulls up these verses.
"Be summa. Don't think of anything. Let thoughts come and go."
Okay, thank you very much. Have a wonderful phase.
[End of transcript.]