Four Steps To Meditation
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2010-07-19
The four basic steps ito meditation. Shum provides a map going from one place to another place, a map of the inner mind. Experience inner space. The seventh dimension, kaif, imkaif. Diimf: Awareness in its pure expansive natural state. Pure spiritual energy is above the vibration of light.
Good morning everyone.
Starting with our daily lesson from "Living With Siva."
"Four Steps To Meditation
"When we go into meditation what do we meditate upon? What do we think about during meditation? Usually the sincere devotee will have a guru, or spiritual guide, and follow his instructions. He may have a mantra, or mystic sound, which he concentrates upon, or a particular technique or attitude he is perfecting. If he has no guru or specific instructions, then here is a raja yoga exercise that can enhance inner life, making it tangibly real and opening doors of the mind. Use it to begin each meditation for the rest of your life. Simply sit, quiet the mind, and feel the warmth of the body. Feel the natural warmth in the feet, in the legs, in the head, in the neck, in the hands and face. Simply sit and be aware of that warmth. Feel the glow of the body. This is very easy, because the physical body is what many of us are most aware of. Take five, ten or even fifteen minutes to do this. There is no hurry. Once you can feel this warmth that is created by the life force as it flows in and through the body's cells, once you can feel this all over the body at the same time, go within into the next step."
As we know that's our basic step in meditation. Feeling the warmth of the body, it's so simple once you've done it. But I remember Gurudeva used to make a joke in a class, yoga class.
He'd say: "Feel your left foot."
And he would say three quarters of the class would have to look down to see where their left foot was. In other words, we're such a mental person, you know. We're so much involved in the mind that it's hard to get out of the thinking process and just feel something as simple as the left foot without looking. Where is it now? Let's see.
So, this is the idea of feeling something very simple. Everyone can feel the warmth of the body. And it's non-intellectual. That's the key to raja yoga approach to meditation is it's not intellectual. We're not engaging the thinking mind in the process. We're trying to keep the thinking mind at bay so we're not thinking.
Gurudeva's approach is, without using your thinking mind, find something and then find something more subtle and then find something more subtle and then find something even more subtle than that. That's the basic idea of this form of meditation so it's starting with what is the easiest, the warmth of the body.
"The second step is to feel the nerve currents of the body. There are thousands of miles of nerve currents in each of us. Don't try to feel them all at once. Start with the little ones, with the feeling of the hands, thumbs touching, resting on your lap. Now feel the life force going through these nerves, energizing the body. Try to sense the even more subtle nerves that extend out and around the body about three or four feet. This may take a long time. When you have located some of these nerves, feel the energy within them. Tune into the currents of life force as they flow through these nerves. This is a subtle feeling, and most likely awareness will wander into some other area of the mind. When this happens, gently bring it back to your point of concentration, to feeling the nerves within the body and the energy within the nerves."
When we had a retreat in Malaysia, it's called the jungle lodge. Very nice little simple place out, outside of town there, outside of Kuala Lumpur. We had a class on meditation and one of the questions was: How does our form of meditation, which we call it Shum meditation, differ from other kinds of meditation?
I answered the question at the time but then I thought about it and I gave another answer in the afternoon which was better. You just take it for granted and it's hard to step back and look at it and see what is indeed unique about it. They were taking a hike, a trek, up to a waterfall that day. And you could see there was on display in the lobby of the lodge, a map of the area which showed the trails. How they get from here, you go over there and you get up there and you get to the waterfall. So they all got up to the waterfall, almost all the group went and came back, and they were so proud of themselves because it was a fairly steep climb.
That gave me the idea to how to explain Shum meditation better which is: In Shum meditation we're following a map. We're not just going in and trying to be peaceful or whatever. We're trying to go just as if we were going to the waterfall. Okay, we have to go over there and find that place. And we have to go over here and find that sign. Then we have to go over there and do this. Then we have to go over there and do that. And then we end up at the waterfall. So we need a map. So Shum is providing us a map of going from one place to another place. And this, and it's usually going from something grosser to something more subtle.
So that we start out with the warmth of the body. That's easy to feel. Then we go into the nerve system of the body which is even more subtle. And then from that we go into something more subtle, and from that we go into something more subtle. So once you understand it, it's a map of the inner mind.
"The third step takes us deeper inside, as we become dynamically aware in the spine. Feel the power within the spine, the powerhouse of energy that feeds out to the external nerves and muscles. Visualize the spine in your mind's eye."
Gurudeva says visualizing is the first step toward experiencing. So, we don't want to underestimate the power of visualization. First we visualize and then that leads to the actual experience.
"Visualize the spine in your mind's eye. See it as a hollow tube or channel through which life energies flow. Feel it with your inner feelings." (Notice, he doesn't say: Think about it. He says: 'Feel it.') Feel it with your inner feelings. It's there, subtle and silent, yet totally intense. It is a simple feeling. We can all feel it easily. As you feel this hollow spine filled with energy, realize that you are more that energy than you are the physical body through which it flows, more that pure energy than the emotions, than the thought force. Identify yourself with this energy and begin to live your true spiritual heritage on this Earth. As you dive deeper into that energy, you will find that this great power, your sense of awareness and your willpower are all one and the same thing."
We talked about that recently so I won't comment on that again.
"The fourth step comes as we plunge awareness into the essence, the center of this energy in the head and spine. This requires great discipline and exacting control to bring awareness to the point of being aware of itself. This state of being totally aware that we are aware is called kaif. It is pure awareness, not aware of any object, feeling or thought. Go into the physical forces that flood, day and night, through the spine and body. Then go into the energy of that, deeper into the vast inner space of that, into the essence of that, into the that of that, and into the that of that. As you sit in this state, new energies will flood the body, flowing out through the nerve system, out into the exterior world. The nature becomes very refined in meditating in this way. Once you are thus centered within yourself, you are ready to pursue a meditation, a mantra or a deep philosophical question."
In the early years when we were practicing these meditations, Gurudeva was very strict in the terminology. He uses, you jump from the fourth to the seventh dimension, meaning you jump from the energy in the spine up to the inner space at the top of the head. And you don't get involved in what's in the middle which is the realm of visions of the Deities and past and future lives and all that kind of thing is... That's in the middle between those two things but he didn't want us ending up there. So he said: Just go up into inner space from the spine. Feel energy in the spine and then go up to the top of the head and experience inner space.
So this, what we experience at the top of the head in the inner chakra there Gurudeva calls the seventh dimension as you'll recall. This is his description of it from the "Twelve Shum Meditations" book there's a description of each of the 7 dimensions in the back if you're not aware of that. So, I call it the short definition. There's a longer one we haven't published in quite a while.
"The seventh dimension is clear inner space -- not clear white light, just clear space. Whereas in the sixth dimension (which is what happens when you look out from here) one experiences an intensity of inner light that glows in every cell of the body through the torso, the hands, legs and feet -- in the seventh dimension he comes into pure inner space, seeing within himself a vast space that goes on and on and on like an infinite inner sky. One deeply immersed in the seventh dimension would be aware of being aware, without an awareness of light.. In a sense, he would be above the vibratory rate of light -- and, with no thing to be aware of, awareness becomes conscious of itself.
"Awareness can expand into the endless inner space of the seventh dimension or contract into being completely aware of itself -- kaif. The experience of kaif is simple; our concepts about it are the biggest barrier. We often feel that pure consciousness must be earned by a saintly life, and we generally know our life well enough to disqualify ourselves. However, anyone can experience kaif, awareness aware of itself, for brief interludes. Therefore, although kaif is itself easy to attain, it is indeed difficult to sustain for long periods and even more difficult to dissolve into imkaif, Self Realization."
That's an area that relates to a meditation the monks are currently doing and occasionally, I get a question on the meditation because it's an idea that we don't always think about but it's nicely explained there.
Gurudeva's saying: We "... can expand into the endless inner space of seventh dimension or contract into being completely aware of awareness."
Well, what in the world does that mean? Well I happened to be sitting at a desk when I was trying to explain it. So, the analogy has to do with a desk. Well, the desk is the seventh dimension. You can be aware of a single point on the desk. You can say: Okay I'm going to look at this single point. Or you can be aware of the entire top of the desk. It's still the same desk, right? Top of the desk is there but you can shift from being aware of a pinpoint of it to being aware of the totality of it. So, if you're aware of the totality of it and you're coming to a pinpoint, you're contracting. If you're aware of a pinpoint and you want to become aware of the totality of it, you're expanding.
So that's the idea. You can actually have different perspectives within the seventh dimension. You're in the seventh dimension. You're looking at the desktop in all of these perspectives but you're looking at it in a different way. So, contracting is the idea of being a pinpoint is the idea of kaif. We come down to a single pinpoint. And expanding is the idea of being the whole area or in Shum it's called diimf. "Diimf is awareness in its pure expansive natural state." Expansive natural state -- diimf. Kaif is awareness contracting. So it's, that's the kind of the fun of the meditation is you can contract or expand once you get there.
So that's the seventh dimension and that's where we want to go. We're not trying for visions, not even trying -- unless the meditation is on inner light -- not even trying for an intensity of inner light unless that happens to be what we're meditating upon. There's different ways of going within. This is jumping from the energy in the spine into the energy in the top of the head bypassing all of the light.
Gurudeva says light is a friction. To have friction you have to have two objects coming together, right? Creating a spark. To create a spark you have to have two objects. You can't create friction with one object. You have to have two. So what are the two objects? One is actinic energy and one is odic energy. One is pure spiritual energy the other is magnetic, the astral and the physical. When the pure spiritual energy hits the astral you have light. If you're just in the pure spiritual energy, as Gurudeva says, there's no light; you're above the vibration of light.
Thank you very much. That's our lesson for the day.
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