The Mother Divine
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By Sadhu Om as recorded by Michael James

Sadhu Om: When we follow the spiritual path, māyā, which is nothing but our own mind, tries to distract us in so many ways in order to divert our attention away from ourself. Even in the case of such a great soul as Buddha it is said that shortly before he attained nirvāṇa, māyā appeared before him in the personified form of the demon Māra and tried to entice him by offering him various sense pleasures and even lordship over the whole world in order to distract him from his effort to turn deeper within. However, despite all the efforts of Māra to divert him from the path, Buddha used his keen power of vivēka [discrimination, discernment or clear judgement] and his steadfast vairāgya [desirelessness] to avoid being swayed by any of Māra’s temptations or threats.

That is, because of his keen vivēka he clearly recognised that true happiness lies only within and that we can therefore experience it only by just being, without rising to experience anything else, so as a result of this clarity he had steadfast vairāgya, which enabled him to cling unwaveringly to self-attentiveness and thereby avoid being distracted by anything else.

What this story signifies is that though Buddha had cultivated a strong sat-vāsanā or liking just to be, so long as ego survives its viṣaya-vāsanās will persist to a greater or lesser extent, so he still had a residual liking to rise and experience things other than himself. However, instead of allowing himself to be swayed by his viṣaya- vāsanā-s, he clung firmly to self-attentiveness and thereby eventually merged back forever in the source from which he had risen.

When even at the final stage of his spiritual practice Buddha had to ward off the attempts of māyā to distract him from turning within, it is natural that other spiritual aspirants find themselves being dragged this way and that by their viṣaya-vāsanā-s, and therefore have to learn to ward them off as he did by clinging firmly to self-attentiveness with the aid of vivēka and vairāgya.

Sadhu Om [in reply to someone who asked ‘Why are some people able to sit for hours together in meditation, whereas others are not able to do so?’]: The term ‘meditation’ is used in various senses, but generally it means trying to fix the mind on one thing. That one thing can be either oneself or something else. If one tries to meditate on anything other than oneself, it may be possible to train the mind to remain fixed on that one thing for a prolonged period of time, because the existence of the mind is not threatened so long as it is grasping anything other than itself.

However, if one tries to meditate on oneself, the mind begins to dissolve back into its source, which is the pure awareness ‘I am’, and if one meditates on oneself so keenly that one thereby ceases to be aware of anything else whatsoever, the mind will die, because its dissolution in pure awareness will be complete and permanent. Therefore, until we are willing to surrender ourself completely, whenever we try to attend to ourself alone an internal conflict will arise between our liking to subside back into our source and our liking to rise and experience other things. The more we try to attend to ourself, the more forcibly our viṣaya-vāsanā-s [likings or inclinations to be aware of other things] will rise to divert our attention away from ourself.

Therefore, in order to succeed in the practice of self-attentiveness a gentle but persistent approach is required. We cannot force ourself to be keenly self-attentive for a prolonged period of time, so rather than trying to do so, we need to try as frequently as possible to turn our attention back to ourself. Every time we try, we will be able to hold on to self-attentiveness for a short while before our viṣaya-vāsanā-s again draw our attention away from ourself towards other things. However, every attempt we make to be self-attentive will gradually strengthen our sat-vāsanā [liking just to be as we are] and weaken our viṣaya-vāsanā-s, so it is only by gentle and patient perseverance that we can succeed in this path of self-investigation.

Therefore, if we are following this path taught by Bhagavan, sitting for prolonged periods of meditation is not necessary. Even if we are able to sit for a long time, we will not be able to keep our attention fixed firmly on ourself, and the longer we struggle to do so, the weaker our attempts will become. Rather than struggling for a long time, therefore, trying frequently in the midst of other activities will be more effective. If we have a busy life, setting aside brief periods to try to go deeper within may be beneficial, but we should try to take advantage of every opportunity we have to be self-attentive, no matter how brief each opportunity may be.

When practising self-investigation, our aim is to be so keenly self- attentive that we thereby cease to be aware of anything else, because when we succeed in being aware of ourself alone, we will be aware of ourself as we actually are, and thereby our mind will be annihilated. However, if one practises meditating on anything other than oneself, one cannot thereby achieve manōnāśa [annihilation of mind], so those who practise such meditation generally seek to achieve only a relative calmness of mind.

That is, the mind becomes tired by wandering about in ceaseless activity, so if it is trained to meditate on just one thing, it can thereby rest in a state of relative calmness, and eventually it may become so calm that even its activity of meditating on one thing ceases, whereupon it will subside in a sleep-like state of manōlaya [temporary dissolution of mind]. However, the amount of time that the mind is active and the amount of time that it can rest is determined by prārabdha, so no one can sit calmly in meditation or remain in manōlaya any longer than is allotted in their prārabdha.

Moreover, no matter how long one may sit calmly meditating on anything other than oneself or even remain in manōlaya, one cannot thereby attain mey-jñāna [true knowledge or real awareness]. To understand why this is so, we need to understand what is meant by the term mey-jñāna. When used on its own, in some contexts the term jñāna may refer to mey-jñāna, but in other contexts it can refer to other kinds of knowledge, such as bhautika-jñāna [knowledge of the physical world], saṅgīta-jñāna [knowledge of music] and auṣadha- jñāna [knowledge of herbs and medicine]. However, knowing anything other than oneself cannot be mey-jñāna. Knowing oneself as the one ever-existing reality alone is mey-jñāna, whereas knowing anything else is only ajñāna [ignorance]. Therefore, to attain mey-jñāna we must attend only to ourself and thereby cease knowing anything else, as Bhagavan implies in verse 16 of Upadēśa Undiyār:

Leaving external phenomena, the mind knowing its own form of light [the light of pure awareness, ‘I am’] is alone real awareness [true knowledge or knowledge of reality].

According to your prārabdha you now have to engage in the hard work of running a business, and you may not be able to free your mind immediately from all its attachments, so until your mind is given rest by prārabdha you should try to practise self-attention whenever you can in the midst of your busy life. You cannot avoid doing whatever work you are destined to do, but you should not for that reason forsake the practice of self-attention. No matter how much work you are destined to do, if you are sufficiently interested in knowing your real nature you will be able to find enough time to practise self-attention, even if it is only for brief moments here and there. Until and unless you are relieved of the burden of responsibility for business and family, your mind will come and go in and out of self-attentiveness, but so long as you are trying to be self-attentive as much as you can, you need not be concerned about how much time you spend in meditation.

The prārabdha we experience in each life is a selection of the fruits of the countless actions that we have done in previous lives, and it is selected by Bhagavan for our own spiritual benefit. That is, Bhagavan is our real nature, and as such he just is and does not do anything, but in his role as God and guru he allots whatever prārabdha will be most conducive to our spiritual development.

He is always guiding us from within, but so long as we allow our attention to go outwards, we are ignoring his guidance, so to the extent that we follow his path of self-investigation and self-surrender we are thereby yielding ourself to his guidance. This is all that is required on our part, because by yielding ourself to him we are allowing his grace to work unhampered, and it will do all that is necessary to loosen the bonds of our attachments.

Therefore, the more we surrender to him, the more our mind will be purified, and in a purified mind peace will naturally prevail, so there will be no need to sit in meditation in order to be inwardly at peace. Whatever activities your mind and body may be engaged in, your peace will remain undisturbed. When your surrender is complete, what will remain is only your own real nature, which is infinite and eternal sat-cit [existence-awareness]. This is the state of mey-jñāna [true knowledge].

It is said that the activities of the body and mind of the jñāni will continue until the prārabdha of that body comes to an end, but that the jñāni is not affected by such activities, because the identification with the body and mind has ceased. Just as a fruit remains attached to the tree so long as it is unripe and falls down only when it ripens, the body and mind will remain attached to the jñāni until the prārabdha that brought the body into existence at birth comes to an end at death, whereupon they will drop off. However, this seems to be the case only in the view of the ajñāni, because in the clear view of the jñāni there is no body or mind at all, so even when the body and mind seem to be attached to the jñāni, the jñāni is not attached to them. For the jñāni there is neither any prārabdha nor any activity but only the eternal peace of sat-cit-ānanda.

Therefore, if you want to experience peace and be free from activity, sitting for a long time meditating on anything other than yourself is at best only a temporary solution. In order to experience eternal peace and freedom from activity, even in the midst of worldly activities you need to surrender yourself by turning your attention within as much as possible.