The Journey of Meditation

Acharya Mahapragya, Published in South Asia Mail, Wednesday, October 14, 2009

There are two levels of Consciousness: Sensory perception and Extra sensory perception. We usually live more on the level of sensory perception. To understand sensory perception, a little analysis is necessary. Our five senses are -sense of Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight and Hearing. All our communication with the external world is through the medium of these five senses. Our external world is sensory in that it can be touched/felt, tasted, smelt, heard and seen in all its colour and form. We have five senses and the external world can be characterized in these five ways.

Senses allow knowledge of the characteristics of the external world, and they establish our contact with it. There is, however, a sixth sense and that is the mind. This is also a sense. It is more developed than all the other senses. The first five senses are limited to knowing only the present, whereas the mind spans three worlds: it knows the present, past, & future. Senses can only know the present. Thus, sensory perception limits our daily lives. Preksha Meditation means the balanced management of our sensory perception. Sensory perception can be managed and has been managed. We see, hear, taste: this is the employment of sensory per-ception. This can be divided into two types: one is seeing while being affected by attachment and aversion, hearing while being affected by attachment and aversion, eating, tasting, etc. while being affected by attachment and aversion. This is how sensory perception is commonly employed in the world.

There is nothing special about this. Not only man, but other living beings also employ sensory perception while being affected by attachment and aversion. As the art of seeing develops, man only sees. He does not see through attachment and aversion: he only sees. The use of the word "only" denotes balanced management. Where it was felt "I only see, only hear, only taste", it now purports balanced management of the sensory perception. Its nature is to know. The common man, however, does not employ his senses to know, but for attachment and aversion. Upon seeing another, attachment sprung up and a feeling of love was born. Upon seeing another, aversion set in and the feeling of hatred was born.

The complete definition of this world is tied in these two words: like & dislike. Our entire behavior is regulated by like & dislike. Either we see with liking or with dislike. Hence, the necessity for a third eye arose. The third eye should open. The third eye is the eye of equa-nimity. "THE THIRD EYE" is often talked about today. Preksha means the development of the sense of equanimity - to open the eye of equanimity. When this eye is opened, we will see- and only see. We will try to comprehend Reality, know the Truth. Neither the feeling of like nor dislike will be linked to this. This is the balanced management of our sensory perception.

The purpose of Preksha meditation is that we bring out this form of sensory perception, wherein we only see. This is not possible without practice: to only see, only hear. Neither should the feeling of like nor dislike arise along with this perception. We should understand the motive of the word only. This is a very great power, which can be developed only through balanced management of our senses. Our mind remains entangled in the five senses.

The mind is by nature, restless. We should not treat it otherwise because this is its very nature. Since the mind is creative and a sum total of many thoughts, restlessness or unsteadiness is its intrinsic nature. We should learn to balance it also completely. Many thoughts come to us at a time. One thought is followed by another. Thoughts are born according to the circumstances and also come from the stream of feelings within. The two streams of the mind's instability are from within as well as from outside.

Meditation means to control the wavering nature of mind and to decrease its instability. The two words are 'restlessness' & 'one-pointlessness'. The mind cannot remain stable at one point. Its preferences keep on changing. This is the restless state of mind. When it stabilizes at an object or at a point, it attains the steady state. The primary definition of meditation is the prac-tice of concentration of the mind at one point or base. As our mind is able to remain steady for a longer and longer time on a preferred point (which we choose), our concentration power has increased and restlessness has reduced. It is necessary to decrease restlessness. All the prob-lems that are being created owe their cause largely to restlessness. If there is a small problem and the mind is restless, even a tiny (mustard-seed-sized) problem can magnify into one that is the size of a mountain. On the contrary, if our restlessness has abated, then the problem is also small, while high restlessness augments the magnitude of the problem.

The first preparative step to meditation— indeed setting out on the journey of meditation— begins with the practice of one pointedness. It has been said that the way to develop concen-tration power and to reduce instability is to practice 'Pratisanlinta. 'Pratisanlinta is the termi-nology of Jain Aagama. Maharishi Patanjali has defined it as 'Pratyahar in his Yoga Darshan Philosophy. Senses are attracted towards their external subjects. Redirect them from that path and introvert them. Don't let them act outwards. This is 'Pratisanlinta and its practice causes automatic reduction of instability.

Whenever the senses go out and sense different scenes of the outer world, they communicate with their subjects and the mind becomes fickle. The mind works along with the senses. It cannot directly communicate with the outer world. The only means for the mind to communi-cate with the outer world is through the medium of the senses. Whatever raw material is pre-sented by the senses is concretized by the mind. The wavering nature of the mind is highly dependent on the instability of the senses. It is asked in meditation that you close our eyes, which means that you will not communicate any more with the colourful fantasies of the outer world. Shut your ears and don't listen to words anymore. Your communication with the outer world has broken. The cessation of five senses to their subjects, their Pratisanlinta or restraint is in order to prevent increase in restlessness of the mind. The mind becomes unstable when the senses are unstable. The resolution to the problem of mind is through employment of the mind. Let your mind be fixed on any one point, any one base. That is why it was resorted to employ the breath as the fixed point. Concentrate your mind on your breath. As much as your mind fixes on one object, your concentration power will increase, and balanced management of the sensory perception will result. Then neither the senses nor the mind will create any problems.

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