This post is a continuation of the following themes:
This conversation will be in two parts - it's divided up into a few sections because I believe no one likes to read a long post, so dividing it up to a few sections improves readability and enjoyment. PLease participate, I look forward to your experiences and insights
Part 3 will offer the next section
- How do I know I can meditate anyway?
- Pratiprasava - reversal of the birth process.
- The mind - how can it settle down?
Concepts to consider - rounding out the subject
Where does one start?
What is the goal ? - restful alertness a.k.a established in the SELF
How does one know they can meditate? If one has thoughts then one can meditate. It's that simple. Do you think either purposefully or randomly? Then you can meditate.
Meditation is simply pratiprasava, reversing the birth process. That is, thoughts have 'births'. Meditation is the process of reversing that process. It's like going to work every day. One gets in their car, or public transportation and goes to work. What do you do when you come home? You reverse the process, pratipradava, daily.
But you say 'my mind fly's here and there, how can I settle it down?'. Even Arjuna mentions this concern to Krsna. This is where the wise assists us in our understanding. The sage Uddalaka Aruni teaches his son Svetaketu on some key principles in the Chandogya Upanishad, Chapt 6. We will use these concepts next to help explain the settling down of the mind.
Consider the mind like a tethered bird to a post. It flaps here and there, yet can go no further then the length of the string. As it grows tired it finally settles down on the post. Like that the mind goes from here-to-there all day. Many times thoughts are going on, and you may or may not be aware of them , yes? So what is this mind tied to? It is tied to prana, it is born of food, yet it has the ability to settle down each night when one retires and one sleeps (svapiti), and goes to deep sleep.
Now much was said in the last sentence, lets see if we can take a few things apart to help with our understanding:
- tied to Prana
- Mind is born of food
- settles down each night during sleep ( svapana)
When we look to our composition as human beings there are some fundamental components to us. We are composed of sodasa-kala or 16 digits or elements, yet the sages like to keep things simple and keep things in 3's (triputi or trivrt) or triple form. So they say we are food born beings, and this food is made-up of 3 devata, Said another way Purusha also considered Sat, the essence, Truth, manifests in 3 ways in us - that of tejas (fire principle), apa ( water/fluid principle) and ana or food/sustenance/nourishment. Lets look at the 3 and lay a foundation:
Ana or food when eaten gets separated from coarsest to finest: the coarsest is waste and elimination, in the middle we get all the flesh components of our body, and the finest of food becomes mind-stuff. So mind is connected to food (ana). It is important to note that that the food we eat is co-mingled with tejas and apa ( fire and water elements).
Apa or water when consumed also goes from coarsest to finest: the coarsest is waste and elimination (urine), middle becomes blood and its components ( plasma, etc.etc) and finest is life force , prana. So water is connected to prana. One can live for some time without food, but not very long without water, and a very short time ( minutes) without prana.
Tejas or fire when consumed also goes from coarsest to finest: coarsest, bones are made, middle becomes the bone marrow and all the functions it performs, and the finest becomes speech or vak. So , Tejas is connected with speech.
So Uddalaka Aruni says to his son Svetaketu , our mind is indeed food essence, our prana is water and our speech is tejas or fire essence. Hence fire gives rise to water, water gives rise to food: tejas->prana->mind. So, mind is grounded in prana.
If one befriends, manages, controls prana, one controls and manages the mind. If one controls the string (prana) connected to the bird (mind), one controls the bird (mind).
So - to control all the flutterings of the mind here and there when one wishes to meditate and perform pratiprasava, reversal process, back to the source ( Purusha) or SELF, one needs to control the breath, this is called pranayam. We learn pranayam and we contol/settledown the minds fluttering and allow it to behave.
Just like turning the gas down on a pot of boiling water - we remove the energy from it, and the water calms down. Like that, we can tame the mind and prepare it for meditation.
So then how does one meditate? what are the principles to go inward for pratiprasava? We will discuss this in Meditation Part 3. The principle of gravity, the principle of withdrawing, and the idea of the mind moving to or being attracted to more happiness are key principles ( not one of whipping the mind, beating it up, etc)
HDF post on the sodasa kala principle: http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=10660&postcount=1
Another definition of pratiprasava: opposed to prasava or production. Disappearance by resolving into the cause.
Offered by Swami Hariharananda Aranya , on his commentary of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali , where patanjali-muni
says :Te Pratiparasava -yeyah suksmah or 'Their subtle forms can be avoided by reabsorbing them into their cause'
Pranams ( prana + ana or food)