Dear sisters and brothers,
I express my feelings in these words and I pray that they find meaning in your hearts. Meditation takes us on a journey within. When we end a meditation session we know it benefits us to remain absorbed in the condition attained during that meditation. When we open our eyes, it is not the end of the meditation; rather we begin the process to appreciate and nurture the meditative state within us.
We however allow the world around to distract us from our inner state. These days most people own a major source of distraction and it is the mobile phone. If we switch on the device immediately after meditation, anticipating a call or to make a call, it diverts our attention from our inner state.
In the Ashtanga Yoga of Sage Patanjali, he describes pratyahara as the inner withdrawal of the mind. This is still a limited understanding of pratyahara since the inner withdrawal is not automatic, we must pay close attention to our senses to consciously direct those inward. Here, it is the ‘attention’ that matters. As in, our mind either likes what we see and it desires the object or dislikes it leading to aversion. We prevent this fickleness by attentively withdrawing from the outer to the inner world and this is pratyahara.
Pujya Shri Lalaji said that whatever the mind likes, it desires to see again and again, and it affects our heart and the attention goes there.
Do we observe pratyahara at least when we are in an ashram?
When we attend bhandaras on the birth anniversaries of our Masters, we celebrate their lives and the values they lived by. In doing so we aspire to become like them. That aspiration takes shape in observing the vital principle of pratyahara, at least during the bhandara. Babuji Maharaj said that it was better to stay back at home and think of him rather than visit him and still think of home and work. If our heart and mind is not fully present in the moment, we are more or less absent.
There’s a Sufi story about a person who draws water from a well using a bucket with holes. At the bottom of the well the bucket is full, but as it’s drawn up the water empties. When we are inside our ashrams, it suits our sacred pursuit to invest our energies in the task at hand – which is to evolve and become like our Masters, not haltingly, not hesitatingly, not inattentively, but fully. Say no to leaky holes in your sadhana.
Often when we visit ashrams, we assume that by simply being there we will get what we came for; but that is not true. Consider the example of rain: we want to enjoy being drenched but if we carry an umbrella and wear a raincoat will we get wet? When we shield ourselves, and expect to enjoy nature’s bounty, it does not happen.
Patanjali’s first stage in Ashtanga Yoga is yama, and it’s about destroying unwanted qualities within ourselves. In a sense, we should assume the role of Yama, the Lord of Death, and destroy our baser instincts before they destroy us. The cleaning process is precisely for that. When we clean ourselves with the power of the will that all complexities and impurities are leaving us, it fulfils yama.
Niyama, the second stage, is the infusing of noble qualities, says Lalaji. In Sahaj Marg meditation the infusing of noble qualities happens with the help of transmission and sankalpa. This is the true meaning of niyama. We also learn to cultivate noble qualities and when we begin to aspire for such qualities, they descend upon us in a natural way.
In this coming bhandara, it would be wonderful if we can explore the meaning of just BEING.
Let’s begin today by turning our attention away for a few hours from the addictive calls of pulls and pushes and abide by Pujya Shri Lalaji’s counsel: “Among the many practices of sincere spiritual seekers is the practice of keeping a vigil on the heart. This means to observe the condition of the heart in the present moment, and when they see any change or deviation they correct it.”
Let’s resolve to remain prone to the inner call, inwardly focused. Moving outward, being extrovert – can such an approach be compatible with what I am striving for?
With Prayers to Beloved Master for His love and blessings.