Like a moth rushes into the fire without caring about the outcome, each one of us is attracted towards light. This attraction is innate. It propels us to constantly act towards a greater sense of fulfillment. Regardless of how you want it and whether you like it or not, the truth is you can’t run away from the two most fundamental elements of human life. The pursuit of happiness and the quest for freedom. From a sinner to a saint, a beggar to a billionaire – each one of us is working towards acquisition of happiness and freedom. And why not, for to be happy and free is immensely empowering.
Everything we do and most things we think are ultimately geared towards feeling happier and freer.
Every act of ours is aimed at avoidance of suffering. And yet, the harder we work towards our fulfillment, the more shackled we feel. The Vedic view and my personal observation is that our suffering results from a lack of harmony in our being. When what we want from life or others is not aligned with our actions, speech and thoughts – we feel exceedingly restless and dissatisfied. To this effect, I’m reminded of a beautiful tantric legend I heard from an adept during one of my travels. It was a good story that has remained with me and I am paraphrasing it here in my own words.
Legend has it that there was a time when Shiva – the first meditator – roamed the earth with his consort, Devi. Just as a beautiful moon softly dispels the darkness of the night, the fair- coloured Shiva walked through the streets leaving footprints of his divinity behind. The great yogi took in the decadence and the poverty that gripped the village.
They stopped by the home of a poor farmer. His body was aching from the day’s hard work. The crop
had practically no yield in the last two seasons and he was mad at his wife for not serving him any meal. She was arguing that there was nothing to cook in the kitchen and they were fighting like they hated each other. The man went ahead and hit his wife.
The Devi shook in pain and disbelief. She was about to manifest and slay the man, but Shiva stopped her.
“Things are not what they seem, Uma,” he said. “Nature must run its own course.”
Just then the woman in a fit of rage took the sickle that she used everyday to cut the grass and hacked her husband’s hand. Unable to bear the pain, he howled and fell down unconscious.
“This man had usurped his brother ’s land,” Shiva explained, “his own karma is coming back to him.
And the lady, she had also earned today by selling hay. But, out of attachment, she gave it to her good-for- nothing son who’s currently sleeping with a prostitute.”
Devi knew that nothing was hidden from Shiva. She said nothing and simply followed him.
A few blocks down, they saw a bookkeeper tossing and turning in his bed. Suffering from severe insomnia, he was unable to fall asleep. Angered and helpless, he got up and downed half a bottle of alcohol so he could sleep. There was a depressing energy in his home. There was his wife, there were kids, they had resources, and yet the basic fabric of happiness – a sense of belonging – was missing altogether.
“Surely, this man doesn’t deserve sleepless nights,” Devi said, “he donates to the temple every month and he calls out to you every morning.”
“Things are not what they seem,” Shiva said benevolently.” He falsifies the financial records for his
clients so they evade taxes. In turn, they pay him more.”
At Devi’s insistence, they visited numerous homes, even the palace of the king. Some were lonely, others were sad, some were quarrelling and some others plotting. Very few slept in peace, even fewer
were awake in peace. Everyone was suffering in some way. Distraught at the sad human condition, Devi asked, “Why is man so unhappy, Lord? Is it because they always want more than
“Evolution is the dharma of Nature,” Shiva said, getting into his meditative posture. “The desire to grow is ingrained in all living entities – from an ant to elephant, from a tiny seed to the giant banyan.”
“What good is this desire if they spend majority of their lives unhappily?”
“The desire in itself is not the problem. Man suffers because he’s too scattered.”
Devi sat quietly as she didn’t quite understand what Shiva meant by the word ‘scattered’.
“His consciousness is directed elsewhere and prana, life force, is directed elsewhere. His thoughts are going in a direction opposite to his actions. His mind wants one thing while his heart is striving for something completely different. His energy is invested in endeavors conflicting with his emotions.
The reason man is unhappy is because his thoughts, speech and actions are not in harmony,” Shiva continued, “Anything that is not in harmony in the play of nature is either eliminated completely or forced to align. Suffering is alignment.”
“Forgive me for pressing on, Nath,” Devi said, “but I feel it’s pivotal for human welfare. Are you saying that the one, whose thoughts, speech and actions are in harmony, does not suffer?”
“To such a person, suffering will have no more impact than a cloth of silk rubbing against an elephant.” “Then how to harmonize?”
“Meditation, compassion and dispassion lead to liberation, O Devi!” Shiva looked at her lovingly out of his soft, still and compassionate eyes. “Nothing is impossible for the one who treads the path of meditation.”
Meditation as passed down from the first meditator, Shiva, to an unbroken lineage of siddhas over countless years is what I share with you here. In the yogic tradition, Shiva is not a myth but the first guru.
The path of meditation I talk about is not just a feel-good five-minute exercise. It is a systematic
approach to wipe off the tendencies that you’ve been carrying along with you over countless lifetimes. We get angry when we don’t want to, we go astray even with all the right intentions. We cheat, we lie, we deceive, we put on a mask of falsity. We step out wearing a smile trying to impress others, aware but ignorant that they too are sailing in the same boat as us. Nevertheless, we say things we would rather not, we do things we’d better not. Why? Our tendencies fuel, if not create, our habits, desires and temperament. Someone with the tendency to dominate has the urge to gain more power. A person leaning towards the tendency of seeking attention feels the desire to have more fame. Someone with the natural tendency of possessiveness feels more jealous. A man born with the tendency to lack feels more envious than others.
Our proclivities, impressions of consciousness, or call them tendencies, are at the root of our desires. They propel us to take action. The results of our actions determine the fulfillment or non-fulfillment of our desires which further drive our emotions. And our emotional state makes us feel the way we do about ourselves, others and the world around us.
One day we feel powerful and the next we feel crippled. One moment we feel over the moon and the next moment we are grief-stricken. It happens even if there’s absolutely no change in our circumstances. With the same life, same partner, same job and what have you, on some days you feel happy and fulfilled while on another day, under the same set of circumstances, you feel utterly useless, maybe even suicidal. The see-saw of emotions sucks life out of the best of us, leaving us at the mercy of our thoughts and reactions. Confined to the four walls of the mind, the immense potential that each one of us has withers away with time. Very few are able to harness the power of the mind, unleash its secrets and lead a life of fulfillment and achievement. We the creatures of vast oceans resign to our fate in the well.
Meditation is about hopping out of the puddle of our negativity and jumping into the lake of bliss. True
meditation is not just about stilling the mind. Even a good edge-of-the-seat thriller can still your mind for a couple of hours. Instead, meditation is straightening out the knots in the consciousness, it is about calming the tides of emotions and afflictions in the ocean of life. When you mend the fluctuations of your consciousness, you become a river that’s merging in the sea. Individual consciousness then flows seamlessly into the supreme consciousness, a tiny drop is on its way to become the vast ocean. I look upon meditation as the medium to rise above our limited existence and reach out to the infinity of our potential,to shape an ordinary existence into an extraordinary one.
By consciousness, I don’t mean some mystical or mythical concept. In very tangible words, consciousness is the flow of life. You experience its existence daily in the change in your thoughts, in your moods when on the outside nothing seem to have changed at all. This culmination of consciousness, or your tendencies, are not just from this lifetime alone.
If you don’t believe in rebirth then this book will be of little use to you. As I said earlier, meditation to me is the most powerful tool to harness and channelize the restive and other tendencies of the mind we’ve been carrying with us over lifetimes.
Sometimes we act like wolves, at times like a lion, meek as a cow sometimes, soft as a deer, restless as a monkey or lazy as a lizard. We’ve been all that at some stage.
Yogic scriptures state that we simultaneously live in three types of space. They call it bhuta-akasha, physical space, citta- akasha, mental space, cidda-akasha, the space of consciousness.
The state of our mind, our mental space, determines how we perceive the physical space around us. If you are happy even average food tastes sumptuous and if you are grumpy even the best food feels tasteless. We are willing to make a lot of compromises when we are happy. But what causes our happiness? What makes us feel light and full of life, and what makes us feel nothing is right even when there’s no change in our circumstances? The answer is our state of consciousness.
Fluctuations in consciousness bring about an immediate change in our emotions and thoughts. Unless we experience freedom at all three levels, our happiness will always be temporary and incomplete. Such transient state of happiness will repeatedly throw us back into the throes of suffering.
Meditation is your way to silence the fluctuations in consciousness. To really feel, and put to use, your immense potential, you have to go beyond the incessant chattering of the mind. You have to clean the slate before you can inscribe your sacred existence on it. Meditation is the path – a systematic, methodical, scientific and artful path – to reach that bliss and potential. You have milestones to guide you along the way and a set of practices to help you produce the right conditions for effective and definitive results.
Each one of us is a master of infinite possibilities at a universal scale. Meditation is to experience your
own magnificence, it is to live your potential. It is a state where joy and peace flows from every action you perform, every word you utter, every thought you contemplate. There are no shortcuts. The only way to taste the fruits of meditation is to do it right, to do it properly.
The ultimate bliss and beauty you experience upon reaching the final stage of meditation has been given
various names including the awakening of the kundalini, samadhi, nirvikalapa- samadhi, even nirvana, and so on. I’m not interested in these labels, I never was. My sole focus is to shed light on the path of meditation as I walked it; complete with its trials and tribulations, rewards and outcomes. Must you go to the Himalayas to realize your potential? I would hold off answering this in a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for now. Walk with me and you’ll know the answer by the time you finish absorbing my words written herein.
There is the ordinary path and the extraordinary path. I will lay out both for you. Based on your own preferences, goal and ambition, you pick the one you like. Regardless of the nature, regime and system of your meditation, I can tell you one thing – meditation is the most scientific endeavor you can undertake to take yourself to a level unimaginable for the ordinary mind, to elevate your consciousness to the universal level, to experience how you are not the body but way beyond. The keyword here is ‘experience’.
Without further ado, let’s begin our journey of meditation by understanding the nature of mind. For, we
ought to know the proverbial nature of the beast before we can devise the ways of taming it.