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Thread: Meditation - Is it a tool still not fully understood

  1. #1
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    Meditation - Is it a tool still not fully understood

    OM

    Best wishes to all.

    I have been thinking of the concept of meditation. Different people different groups have defined and used the meditation for different purposes.

    Some for making the mind space empty of any thoughts / vibrations. Some to analyse - a part of mananam. Some to find out answers to intractable problems or queries. Some dive deeper to find out the truth of life and creation. Some go into samadhi.

    So what is meditation ? Why did our ancient forefathers promoted this method for seeking truth ?

    What is the basic assumption or the theory behind it ?

    Interesting topic for discussion.

    Love to all
    Love and best wishes:hug:

  2. #2

    Re: Meditation - Is it a tool still not fully understood

    Namaste,

    What is meditation, in sanskrit there are many words associated with the word meditation, so it's a very complex in its explanation , but the experience is quite simple.


    I have revisited some of my studies in Theravadin Tradition and Pali Cannons. Jhana pali, Dhyana sanskrit is the same thing. It gets translated as meditation, concentration trance, mental absorption. In one sense we are always in a trance, mentally absorbed but the direction of that absorption is usually misdirected. So dhyana and jhana mean something different and the result is specific.

    So what is dhyana meditation. I am no expert and am only sharing some initial insights. Meditation is when concentration of mind or consciousness is focused and not scattered or moved by distraction and attachment to the senses and ordinary movements of the mind. It begins to find a power and force of its own, although it needs directing initially-vitarka. When the mind finds its own grove or flow on the initial application there is vichara from this comes priti or happiness and then a mental absorption, this is the first experience of meditation where reality is experienced more subtle or without the normal attachments to passing thoughts and feelings.

    When jhana is devloped it supresses and and finally uproots the kileshas and all of the modifications of the mind and one then see's reality as it is, and one becomes more complete, understands more, has better balance and is of benefit to others. This is why the sages and enlightened share and activley promote the cultivation of meditation.

    Some say that meditation develops naturally and any effort is detrimental. This is true, but only at a certain point when upekka upeksa equanimity has been attained via the four psychophysical sadhana's have been perfected. This in itself can be a lifetime of work and effort and comes with its own deep science of life. When this is perfected one then enters naturally the meditative states that are beyond the psychophysical reality. In abhidamma these are divided into Rupa jhana or form meditations which has a variety of sadhana's and if they are perfected one then enters naturally the arupa jhanas or the formless meditations, formless being consciousness beyond psychophysical world's.

    The basic assumption or theory as you put it on what's behind the cultivation of dhyana is the full on assualt via upaya skillful means towards dukkha, the complete eradication of suffering and discomfort of all sentient beings, this includes our self and all others, beyond the sentient world's there is less dukkha and by association with these states beyond mind and body ones internal joy is increased and it's accompanied by knowing of reality and the path leading to it.

  3. #3
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    Re: Meditation - Is it a tool still not fully understood

    Om

    Best wishes to all.

    Thanks Markandeya. The post was meaningful and insightful.

    I would like to know more. Say how did our ancestors know about the things like some special twin stars, which cannot be seen, the truth about creation, life, destruction, deep knowledge about a certain subject - so deep that even now there are no parallels.

    If you have followed Khursed Baltiwala on Youtube, he also sees meditation as a tool to knowledge. I think once we know the nuances of meditation, the present education system which is more dependent on the outward looking senses and less on mind might get reversed.

    Anyway this reversal is inevitable in case we need to move from Gross to Subtle.

    Now the point is that though all the knowledge is also available outside, why do we need to look inside for the answers.

    Love and best wishes
    Love and best wishes:hug:

  4. #4

    Re: Meditation - Is it a tool still not fully understood

    Namaste Kallol ji,

    I have listened to bits here and there from Khursed Baltiwala, he says some interesting things.

    I don't know much about the twin stars systems. It's is however interesting what the past seer's saw that the ordinary person could not. As one goes from gross to more subtle one see's that gross is a product of the subtle, so what is out there has a subtle cause. We tend not to see the subtle due to not having the right instruments. We can't see an atom, we can't see wifi etc with the normal senses so we need to include some instrument to detect them.

    The subtle reality that the see's saw was with finely tuned instruments of consciousness that has risen above gross attachments. When the mind is with attachment to the gross senses then our vision becomes limited. The more refined the mind is and detached from senses then one gets to know more the vision is broadened, the weight is being lifted and that freedom of consciousness can see more than when it was just focused on what appears only to the senses. That is why there is so much importance given to the early sadhans to bring the mind and senses to the stage of equlibrium, this will free consciousness up to discover more.

    Life, creation and all the answers lie in the subtle, this is true both for the physical sciences and the dharma marg.

    Your very right about the modern education systems, they teach and train only to use the normal faculties or the outward going senses and seeks to gratify them and life becomes a matter or survival.

    How much the truth is available outside I am not to sure. For example surya dev is illuminating and once one experiences surya it brings light into ones consciousness. We see the external sun everyday and it brings light, but the nature of that light is not the same as surya. Also we may intellectually learn about the shastra and knowledge from outside or external sources but that is not enough, so the outside understanding still depends on the inside or subtle. I'm using subtle for inside and gross for outside. In fact in one sense there is no inside or outside, it's just the ability of mind to notice gross and subtle and the advanced yogis see that they are not seperate and the cause of the gross or the outside is within or more subtle.

    I have been extending my understanding on something in the pali abhidamma as kasina. I would invite those with interest to know what they are if this is new to them. This is one method to go from gross to subtle and has some nice parellels with both Samkhya as a meditation practice.

  5. #5
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    Re: Meditation - Is it a tool still not fully understood

    Om
    Best wishes to all

    Another beautiful explanation.

    Let's get into some more depth and some more interconnected scenarios. Like say out of the 14 lokas, the gross bodies are for the lower 7 lokas and upper 7 lokas are subtle bodies with higher and higher refinements. Highest amongst the lower 7 lokas is the human with most capabilities within the gross body.

    If we notice, mind is the vehicle through which we acquire knowledge. Body is only the medium. However the body is temporary and mind being the home of "I" is more permanent (not absolutely permanent).

    The freedom and expanse of the mind get limited by the gross body, when the mind is in the lower 7 lokas, which itself is outward looking and gets more dependent on the limited senses it has. Thus it acquires more and more about the gross elements. Similarly when the mind is in the upper 7 lokas, it experiences the subtle elements.

    Now as I mentioned, mind is more permanent and lives through almost permanently till it merges with the consciousness (which is beyond brahmaloka). Through this process, it has experienced almost everything known and unknown both in gross and subtle sense. As mind is the only vehicle for gaining this experience and knowledge, it cannot gain knowledge of consciousness. This is because mind ceases to exist as it merges with consciousness and thus the "I".

    As our history is found out in layers of the earth, similarly these knowledge resides in the various depths of the mind. However just like the archaeological expertise and tool are required to bring out the knowledge of history similarly is the case for us. Any distraction, whether during the excavation or during our study result in destruction of the artifacts and ability to acquire knowledge. Similarly any distraction in the TRUTH seeking whether gross or subtle result in unsuccessful attempts. Also the channelising direction also needs to be accurate and unwavering. The level of TRUTH, one wants to drill to requires more and more patience, skill and unwavering focus, undisturbed.

    Now we can visualize the tool called meditation in this light. To reach different levels of TRUTH, the support and discipline it requires. The knowledge about twin stars or atoms or sub atoms or the consciousness to subtle to gross and reverse or the existence all level is a proof of the continuum of existence of "I" the observer and the "Mind" the experiencer. Only the body changes.

    If this is right, then let's compare today's method of education and our ancient practice. How far the present system can reach and how far the ancient method can reach ?

    Love and best wishes
    Love and best wishes:hug:

  6. #6

    Re: Meditation - Is it a tool still not fully understood

    Namaste Kallol Ji,

    I read your last post a few times, thank you. A lot in there, took me on a journey

    If this is right, then let's compare today's method of education and our ancient practice. How far the present system can reach and how far the ancient method can reach ?
    What you say is right as far as I understand. The question being very important for our times. The modern education system is missing something. I distribute free vegan foods outside universities and I get to meet all sorts of people who study a wide range of subjects. Practically non of them will lead to brahma jnana, and nothing that they learn will give any understanding of the process, the practice and the means of discovery. To get this they seek alternatives to cope and learn that which is missing in their normal education.

    Even if we look to science, and although they may have discovered so much and made great leaps in technology all with mixed results there is always a limit if they do not include fully them self as the observer and experiencer as a conscious being. It's not that the subjects they study are not necessary in life and society but that they have limitations and can't answer or resolves fundamental problems that we face as a human species.

    This is where meditations or spiritual practice comes in and makes everything whole and complete. The approach to meditation or development of the mind chitta bhavana requires a whole different set of skills to aquire knowledge and the meaning of the word knowledge also changes from something learned and memorized to knowing directly.

    This has been perhaps one of the issues that I have paid most attention to, to know the means of how we learn and in what method it's delivered and how it's practically applied. At some point though the difference in methods need to be understood. We cannot learn it all through the modern way of teaching, and certainly we can't learn the experience of what the ancients found by the way of modern education styles.

    I would like to write more but due to texting on an old phone with a small window I can't always see exactly what I write, and this is a critical topic, espcially nowadays where so much time and effort is put into the modern education system.

    Usually the main thing I suggest in today's society is find some time to do regular retreats, even if only a small amount of time.

    The inner workings of mind is very complex, and as you say requires patience and focus, and sticking to it. Most in today's busy world have not learned to find that time, some disguise by doing karma yoga, that type of karma yoga in itself may not be enough, it needs reflection and silence and a inward stability to observe reality.

    Yesterday I was going through a a book Contemplation on the Seven Factors of Awakening, usually called the Seven Factors of Enlightenment

    (bodyhyainga Pali, Skr:bojjhanga)
    Mindfulness (sati)
    Investigation (dhamma vicaya)
    Energy (viriya)
    Joy or rapture (piti)
    Relaxation or tranquility (passaddhi) of both body and mind.
    Concentration (samadhi)
    Equanimity (upekkha)

    Before each discourse Ajahn Thiradhamo gives a meditation technique. The purpose behind this is that to go deeper the mind or view of our concentration has to change from the ordinary outside perception. As you mention the layers of the earth and then the layers of the mind was a perfect analogy. To understand certain portions and ultimately the final awakening requires a level of consciousness to absorb that new knowledge. Not many in today's world want to develop, they just want to know the information.
    Last edited by markandeya 108 dasa; 18 February 2018 at 10:46 AM.

  7. #7
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    Re: Meditation - Is it a tool still not fully understood

    "
    This is where meditations or spiritual practice comes in and makes everything whole and complete. "

    Complete in holistic sense. But what primarily we are losing out through the present form of study which is limited to the proofs through the 5 senses, is the continuum.

    It seems that these gross world is out of nothing, isolated, standalone, etc. Thus it is difficult to explain different behaviours, different state of living, animals, plants, inert elements as the connectivity is not known. So even in gross world all are unconnected and unrelated. So for Christianity animals will not have soul, etc.

    Without understanding the continuum the science of life and creation is not known.

    Thus the ancient Indian society had been able to achieve so much which, by present education method will not be possible.

    However in the absence of mass movement in the other methods, the efforts will be sporadic, individual based and thus weak. It will not be able to impact society.

    Love and best wishes
    Love and best wishes:hug:

  8. #8

    Re: Meditation - Is it a tool still not fully understood

    Namaste,

    There is a lot in what your saying. So much has been lost, the West is ahead in terms of losing its ancient culture and the subtle understanding has been lost. Asia as a whole is still partially in tact, I have hope, but to regain that level of how the ancients had direct impact and was central in mainstream society is far far less, in some areas there is decline but in other areas there is interst and the will to maintain and carry on traditions or be more spiritual.

    I came upon one ex scientist who is Sri Lankan and born into a Buddhist culture. He didn't take up his studies and practice on buddha dharma until he retired. He talks abou shuddhiastika which is a discovery/revelation of the smallest form of matter. Shuddhi meaning pure and astika eight parts, made up of four mahabhutas and four subtle elements of mind. The measurement he gives is one billionth the size of an atom and only a Buddha, Self awakened can see it. The veiwing platform is different. People now are educated to only see reality as you say through the normal emprical senses, and this has a limitation. If that which is more subtle and conscious, expanded and profound the guha is cultivated, the empirical senses work to a more higher optimum, so to cultivate meditation and insight is a win win situation.

    I was thinking of how solutions are approached differently to somethings within the philosophical or intellectual worls as compared to the meditation traditions.

    A short example. There are debates within the schools of vedanta apparently, which siddhanta is right and most complete and there are comparisons and debates on which siddhanta is the best, who is right, is it sri Ramanuja or adi shankara, but sri madhava said something different and so on and the intellectual side or theories are examined to see who wins and who is ulttimatley right.

    This is totally foreign to the meditation traditions, there is only avidya that obscures us from seeing reality as it, and there are practices to remove avidya, the uprooting of the kleshas, the abandoning of attachments. The cultivation of rapture, concentration, and bliss and know things via direct illumination.
    Last edited by markandeya 108 dasa; Today at 03:50 AM.

  9. #9
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    Re: Meditation - Is it a tool still not fully understood

    Yes there are many approaches to TRUTH. Each one takes it's own time. Like in Ramayana Vishwamitra asked Rama and Lakshmana which road to take - when they came to a fork. One is a easy path but will take 14 months and the other one unknown, complex, risky but will take only 14 days to reach the ashram.

    This signifies the choices before us also. The mind and subtle world being abstract and untenable from present education POV, is not considered as an important tool or experimentation ground for acceptance. Though it has been proved again and again that the meditation can lead to the same knowledge which have been corroborated by 1000s of rishis and munis and saints.

    How do they reach the same point if the TRUTH through meditation which is an exercise of mind and is untenable by the modern methods. How come these people are more revered in general ? How come these all start ringing bells in our mind and makes us elated ? Does it relate to an unknown thread by which we all are connected to that TRUTH ?

    Properly guided Meditation as a tool might be a very powerful tool to invoke and revert the illness that the society is plagued with today. It can be started at school for the study of maths, physics, chemistry, biology, stories, etc. And then nurtured for higher levels for astronomy, astro-physics, understanding universe, space, time, etc. So on and so forth.

    Loves and best wishes
    Love and best wishes:hug:

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