In the Arms of Mother India

New Year’s Eve in Rishikesh
from a pilgrim’s diary
Rishikesh, December 31, 2009

First morning in Rishikesh! We awoke to cymbals and conchs from the temple below….you can sense the monkeys waiting in the shadows.  Our hotel overlooks the sacred Ganga river, rushing with the sound of Om, rocks and rapids faintly glowing in the predawn darkness.  We walk uphill to Babaji and Loke Ma’s apartment for morning meditation in this ancient city of rishis.  The sound of the Ganga’s Om permeates everything as we sit before an altar invoking Thakur, Holy Mother, Mother Kali, and Shankaracharya.
Rishikesh Rapids

After meditation, Babaji spoke some words on meditation:
Meditation is an attitude of mind — a position of the mind.  I set it up at night when I fall asleep.  If you do this then you awake ready for meditation — you are actually in meditation already. [at least one of our teens tried this with great success, she said]

There are two kinds of meditation: form and formless.  If you have taken initiation into a path, you receive a mantra and meditate on the form and meaning of that mantra.  Formless meditation is harder.  My problem was being able to stop thinking about the scriptures.  That’s sukshma dhyan (meditation on subtle truths).  Many people would like to have that problem.  Your intelligence can operate at different levels: the body, prana, basic mind, buddhi/intellect, but even the intellect is too low.

Om.  Shankara says this is the best for meditation. Everything dissolves in It.  A-U-M: Creation, preservation, and destruction.  These cycles are happening with each breath, each moment, etc.  Om emanates from the crown chakra and you can feel it all the way to your gut.  Om stands at the threshold between form and formlessness.

You have your daily personal practice and here we are practicing as a group.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both.  Maybe you are lazy and don’t meditate regularly by yourself.  But here with a group of 9 people you have the support to practice.  Take advantage of this. 

Breakfast Satsang
Meditation on God with form is upasana dhyan.  The external image is less real than the form composed in the mind.  You’ve created the whole universe by thought — all those forms — so why not carefully and methodically visualize the Chosen Ideal?  Envision Sri Ramakrishna  seated in your heart, bow down to Him, and then offer Him a flower – and your entire being.  See His feet, legs, body, hands and arms, his face and eyes.  See His whole form — this is meditation on God with form.

Om — You want to attain constant meditation?  Then think: my food is a form of Om, my bed is a form of Om, this room is a form of Om.  To not do this is to miss an opportunity and miss the point.  All dissolves into Om.  The audible sound and the physical forms are the outer crust only.

Afternoon Class

You have to learn to concentrate in order to get bliss.  Before that, you only have happiness and sorrow. I hated cello practice when I was 12, but I hadn’t yet learned how to concentrate.  In high school, I often practiced my instrument 6 hours a day and loved it.  Why?  Because I had learned to concentrate.

It is not enough to ask “who am I?”  You have to know what you’re not and what’s keeping you from knowing who you are.  Working with Awareness, which has no gaps, is what reveals this.

Regarding aparigraha and karma:  Don’t please anyone, please God.

The yamas and niyamas are foundational.  They don’t go away.  They are there when you attain samadhi.  Like music.  You learn music by learning the scales.  When you can play a complicated classical piece you aren’t practicing scales, but they are there in the music nevertheless. ♦♦♦