Today, as I finish my exposition on mental transformation, I bring to you the fourth common defect in meditation – mental images.
Over twenty weeks ago, we started our journey on understanding the Yoga of Self Transformation. I wrote that self-transformation comprises of transforming oneself at four levels; namely – mental, emotional, moral and physical. Without purification, understanding and transformation at all four levels, it is simply just not possible to attain the exalted state. I started with my writings on Mental Transformation. We went through various exercises to strengthen your concentration, resolve, and knowledge. Of the four primary hurdles, we have already covered three.
The Usual Scenario
Let us say you sit down to meditate with resolve and attentiveness. After a while, you start to feel restless. You feel the urge to move or to stop your session. A little while later you check your restlessness by calming your mind, then a sort of lethargy, a dullness, blankets you. Many people erroneously think this is relaxation or a good meditative experience – a grave error. A good meditator, however, stays alert, applying mental exertion with attentiveness, to overcome this hurdle.
As you progress with a mind that is neither dull nor restless, the natural tendency to engage in thoughts springs up. Soon, you find yourself either pursuing a thought or actively engaging in it.
For example, you may recall a conversation, an unpleasant one. Forgetting that you are meditating, you start to mentally pursue that conversation. You start to think you should have said this or said that, or, you should have responded in such and such a manner; how the person was ungrateful, shallow, rude, wrong, and so on.
Great meditators do not lose sight of their thought of meditation. They are able to simply drop the thought immediately, putting a plug in the conversation. Now, they are not restless or dull, nor are they pursuing their thoughts. But this does not mean they are meditating flawlessly. There is one more distraction you have to watch out for.
A Subtle but Strong Defect
In a way, this is the greatest hurdle. It is innate, the natural fabric of a conditioned mind. It does not leave you even while you are sleeping. It’s what causes you to dream. As you cross the three hurdles and try to meditate, you will experience various mental images flashing in front of you from your past. They may seem unrelated.
As you try to focus on your object of meditation, you find yourself battling with the appearance of mental images stored in your memory. During your meditation, you may have pictures flashing in your mind, of: gadgets, cars, houses, buildings, ice-creams, food, people, creatures – anything for that matter. You are not engaging in any thought, you are not pursuing any mental conversation, but you keep getting hit with these random mental images. They severely impede your ability to meditate correctly.
Mental Images: The Flowing Wind
In any place, even if empty of all existence, there always exists air. Furthermore, there is always movement in the air, however inert it may be. So, in a way, the wind is omnipresent. Only a vacuum may be devoid of such a phenomenon. A vacuum though, is an artificial construct. It is not a natural state. Similarly, even when a mind is empty of all thoughts, restlessness and sluggishness – there still exists memory.
In fact, it is the basis of your analytical skill and your intelligence. You may be a Nobel laureate in physics, or a genius in calculus; in an unconscious state, in the absence of memory, however, you are unable to count even up to three. Does it not seem natural then, with intense meditation, as you gain new mental territory and cleanse your psychic imprints, that you gain super knowledge and superconsciousness?
Your memory is the source of all imagery. Anything you see or hear, even once, always stays in your memory. Whether it is a giant ship, or a needle, sinking in the sea, it retains both as mental images – always and forever. Just like creating an artificial vacuum, you can use certain methods to suppress such imagery, but they remain temporary measures.
How can the attainment of your natural and permanent state be dependent upon anything artificial and temporary! In my opinion, it is not possible to erase your memory. It is possible to cleanse it, though; to the degree that the mental images flashing in front of you fail to trigger any thought or emotion. Such cleansing is possible with emotional and moral transformation. I will cover them in due course. Only when you allow your inner wounds to heal can you remain unaffected by the appearance of any image in front of you.
So, what do you do when you are in a windy area? You cannot battle with or win against the wind. All you can do is cover yourself, not face the wind and accept it. In much the same manner, there is no need to react to the images. You simply cover yourself with a balance of alertness and relaxation, exertion and pacification. Soon the mental images will begin to disappear.
As you continue to meditate, intentionally recalling only the object of visualization each time, the other images start to fade away automatically. Furthermore, as you cleanse away your psychic imprints, you recall less and less disturbing, enticing or exciting mental images. Their impact becomes negligible and their recollection, faint. You are well on your way to experience lucid meditation thereafter.
Art of Meditation
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This finishes my treatise on Mental Transformation. Coming up next: A brand new world for you, an original piece of work – Emotional Transformation.
My obeisance and gratitude to my Ishta, my foremost Guru, for allowing this transmission.