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Season 1 - Episode 9

Day 7: Yoga of Meditation

60 min - Talk


We begin Day 7 in meditation by inviting the mind to stay with the breath while tuning into subtler energies. In today's talk, Ravi unpacks what the Bhagavad Gita and other texts teaches us about Dhyana Yoga or the Yoga of Meditation. We conclude with a suggested inquiry and self-study: Do I sometimes feel that it is not my attention, but attention in me?
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Aug 18, 2019
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Again, as we wish to relate with ourselves deeper and deeper inside, a quick reminder that in this very large universe, many, many very strong, high and conscious forces and energies, and that I did not create myself. These forces labeled as God or Brahma or Allah or Holy Spirit have created me for some purpose. And a part of the reason for engaging in meditation or any spiritual practice is how can I become more and more receptive to these energies or forces and become more and more aware of what is required of me, what is my raison d'être, the whole meaning and purpose of my life. And a very strong suggestion from all serious teachings that our ordinary mind is not capable of knowing energies or forces which are subtler than the mind. So we need to assist the mind to become quieter and quieter.

It's natural tendency to be anywhere but here and any other time but now. When we recognize that this is the nature of the usual mind, we try to find simple means to assist it to stay here. A very strong suggestion from one of the Upanishads that the mind can be connected with the breath almost like a bird in a cage. So we take a few moments to become aware of the fact that breathing is taking place. And to assist the mind even more to stay with breathing, we watch the movement of the abdomen up and down corresponding to breathing in and breathing out but without becoming tense and without holding my breath inside or outside.

Just inviting the mind to stay with the breath. We have a tendency to think as if what we call breathing is simply taking in the air through the nostrils but to expand the idea a whole of our body is taking in vibrations and also giving out vibrations, subtler energies and forces, also air coming into the organism and is used, parts of it are used there and then parts are let out. The whole of the organism is actually breathing in and breathing out, expanding the idea of breathing. Although the whole organism is taking in vibrations and giving out, it is easier for us to attend to one limb at a time, so I bring my attention now to my right leg, sensing the breath inside the leg and as I bring my attention, I begin to be aware of the vibration or the energy in the right leg, right down to the toes. If I quickly turn my attention to the left leg, I can see the difference in the quality of vibration which my attention brought to the right leg and now I bring attention to the left leg and gradually I see more vibrations as if the leg becomes more alive.

Now intentionally I shift my attention to the whole of the pelvic area, connecting with my breath, as if I were breathing in and out of that area. Abdomen. Abdomen. Chest. As we become aware of slightly subtler quality of breathing, almost naturally associated with it, a slightly different feeling about one's own existence.

Right arm, again internally visualizing and invigorating the whole of the right arm, including the fingertips, left arm. One can begin to sense that having brought some attention and some intention brings a different quality of life in the limbs. Now I shift my attention to the whole of my back, from the neck to the base of the spine. Now I move my attention and my breath to the head, including everything above the neck, the eyes, the forehead. Again, relying on my own experience, I wonder if it brings some sense of space in the head or a sense of relaxation or clarity.

Now I become aware of the whole of my body, from the top of the head down to the toes. Every breathing in, breathing out, three breaths, and then we'll stop. Thank you.


Just a very quick reminder that the first few chapters in the Bhagavad Gita, especially the first five, are very much concerned with, of course the teaching begins in the second chapters, but starting from the second through the fifth chapter, very much concerned with right action and right knowledge. So Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga, these are both, all the yogas are, if you like, components of buddhi yoga, the yoga of awareness, as I have already been mentioning.

But it is important to, from the perspective of the Bhagavad Gita or of Krishna, that first of all the emphasis is very much on finding the right action and the right understanding, right understanding, knowledge. Then at the very end of the fifth chapter, for the first time, the word dhyana, which would be translated as meditation, is used. So the sixth chapter is somewhat dedicated to dhyana yoga. It's also important to remember that the whole teaching of Krishna, as if it is in a battlefield, of life, active engagement, and which could hardly be against meditation, but it is not the major emphasis of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. And therefore let me begin, first of all, by reading from the sixth chapter, this is the third and the fourth shloka, for the sage who is seeking to master yoga, action is the way.

But for one who has mastered yoga, cessation of activities is the way. One has mastered yoga when one is not attached to sense objects or to action and has renounced self-will. Good to remind yourself, again, to renounce self-will does not mean to be against the self. It is really more to say, can my self, including the body and the mind, become an instrument of Krishna's will? And not Ravi's will, but can Krishna's will be carried out by the instrument which is now Ravi, which will last for a few decades?

So keeping that in mind, but then, of course, meditation is encouraged, and particularly in the whole of the Indian tradition, generally, because of the very deep-seated conviction that deep down in each one of us, the very highest reality called Brahma, literally meaning the vastness, resides, therefore there is a great deal of emphasis on meditation, going inward. Which is why I have an earlier mention in one of the contexts that you look at the images of any of the great sages from India, the Buddha would be a very good example, or Vivekananda. Their portraits or photographs are always in a portrait of meditation. Of course, at the time of death, the Buddha is lying on the bed, that's a different kind of occasion, whereas in the Abrahamic tradition, generally, the attitude is very much of prayer, therefore looking up. Now, of course, deep down, I can assure you, all the sages in all of these traditions are completely convinced that God is within themselves.

All the great sages or mystics in Christianity, for example, they are searching for Christ within. Nevertheless, at the popular level, which is always merely taking things literally, or the way things get portrayed, it becomes in the Abrahamic tradition as if God is above, somewhere in heaven above ourselves. So the mode of prayer there acquires that popular feeling, certainly this is hardly the case with Mr. Eckhart, or with John of the Cross, or any of the great sages in Christianity. They're always wishing to celebrate the Christ within, or God within, if you like. However, because of this great emphasis on meditation, and these days it is also being encouraged very much, I think a remark of very great sage, Krishna Prem, is very helpful.

Krishna Prem was actually an Englishman called Ronald Nixon. He had gone to India, I think in the 1920s, to teach there, but then gradually he was more and more touched and impressed, starting actually from the Theosophical Society, and he became a Hindu monk, a Vaishnavite monk, then acquired a different name, Krishna Prem. Very wise person, actually many of his writings I highly recommend, if you get a chance. But in any case, this is a remark of Krishna Prem, nothing but dangerous neurotic dissociations of personality can result from the practice of meditation without the qualification mentioned at the end of the last chapter, which is the fifth chapter in the Bhagavad Gita. He's making this comment in the sixth chapter, because that's where meditation begins in the Bhagavad Gita.

So very strong emphasis, and then he says the qualification mentioned at the end of the last chapter, so let me read what those qualifications are in the Bhagavad Gita. This is more or less the end of the fifth chapter. The qualifications of a Yogi prepared for Dhyani Yoga are the removal of the stains of evil, the cutting of the knots of doubt, a mastery over oneself, taking delight in the well-being of all creatures, controlling the mind, knowing oneself, and extricating oneself from all desires, fear, and anger with sustained effort. So you see the kind of recommendation, how large a demand it is. But we don't necessarily need to simply easily buy either what the Bhagavad Gita is saying or what Krishna Prem is saying.

If any of you have actually engaged in meditation yourself, impartially watch what takes place. Free associations go on unless one intentionally tries to relate the very mobile mind with something which is relatively more stable, namely the body. And it is very much assisted by connecting it with the breath, as we have tried to do on several occasions in our meditation here. But even there, nevertheless, the suggestion from the Bhagavad Gita or from Krishna that one needs to, as it were, prepare oneself for meditation. Now of course, a small amount of meditation taking half an hour or one hour a day is quite different.

Partly, there is a bit of a tendency, especially I often hear this in India from people, of one of these days we'll retire and we'll go to the Himalayas and we'll meditate, as if one is then going to meditate practically the whole day long. Hardly anybody actually ever does this in India, but this is a cultural expression, almost as if this is the direction one should follow. So keeping this in mind, we continue with what Krishna actually has to say here. What does he recommend? Essentially the whole idea really is how can the usual mind become quiet?

So this is what he says. This is 6th chapter, 13th to 15th Shloka, holding the body, neck and head, erect and motionless. Remember almost the very first day when I was speaking about what is the right alignment? That's what one is talking about here. With gaze fixed on the tip of the nose, not looking in any direction, steadfast in the vow or dwelling in the vastness.

Here I want to stop for a moment. The Sanskrit word is Brahmacharya. Brahma, as I have earlier mentioned, is the label attached to the very highest reality, literally means the vastness, or the endlessness, or limitlessness, you might say infinite varieties of words can be used. And since it usually these words don't include notion of time in it, so sometimes it is also translated as the eternal. For example, Annie Besant in her translation of the Bhagavad Gita, by the way, I'm a great admirer of Annie Besant, she was a very remarkable English woman, is often regarded as a saint in India, quite rightly.

She did probably more for Indian freedom than almost anybody else, and quite a remarkable woman actually. In any case, she translates Brahma as the eternal. I mention this because it's not that it is wrong, but eternal now these days people end up associating with time, not with space. So it's endless in all directions of space and time. So Brahmacharya literally means to dwell in Brahma, to dwell in the atmosphere of the endlessness or the Brahma or vastness.

However, its standard translation has now become to remain continent, which is completely amazing. But I'll come back to this in a few moments. Let me first of all just read what Krishna actually says. I start again from the very beginning, holding the body, neck and head erect and motionless with gaze fixed on the tip of the nose, not looking in any direction, steadfast in Brahmacharya, with a calm spirit from which fear has been driven out, with a mind under control and a heart absorbed in me, Krishna says, representing the highest reality, a yogi should sit steadily devoted to me, thus practicing yoga with the mind controlled, the yogi finds the supreme peace of nirvana which abides in me. So you see how the mind has to be made steady.

Now here let me return to this word Brahmacharya because it is true that practically all religious traditions in one way or the other end up wanting to either control sexual energies or sexual impulses or to prohibit them. This is why Brahmacharya also gets translated as more or less a state of being continent. Now on the other hand, it will be quite silly for us to diminish the impact or the energy of sex because even the Buddha, it is said in the Buddhist tradition that by the way these things you can never be sure whether historically true or not, it's part of the tradition, that the Buddha said if there was one other force as strong as sex, he's not sure, he would have made it. So the whole of nature after all depends on this. You and I exist because of this.

So it is silly to diminish or to not understand the strength of the sexual energy or the force. Everything in nature comes about because of this, the whole organic life, not only at the human level, all the animal level, trees, plants, everything. So not to therefore diminish it, but on the other hand it becomes important not to be so occupied with this, the call is not to be against something but for something. What Krishna is actually advising us is to dwell in Brahma. That is the state.

And on the other hand, it is true whenever people ordinarily think of what is sinful, they usually think in terms of something to do with sex. But there have been many, many, actually in Christian tradition, several times what are some of the great sins, invariably the most important sin that at least the Christian sages have come to, I think that will be regarded in India as well, is pride. Much more than anything to do with sex, they would say pride or self-importance is the main sin. And that was also the reason why Lucifer was expelled from heaven because as Prophet Isaiah said, he wished to be like the most high from his pride. But we don t need to therefore either diminish or to feel that the power of sex is minimal or not important.

But Krishna s call is not so much to be dwelling, not dwelling on this or that, but dwelling on something which is the highest to keep coming back to that. Therefore very strong suggestion I am suggesting to you that Brahmacharya, I know almost always in the Indian tradition, whenever it is translated, it is translated as state of sexual purity or something like this. It is also true that sexual energy is in fact used for any effort. I have noticed this, in fact, whenever, especially when I was a young man studying, these days I don t study that hard, but I used to study very hard earlier. And during examination, all of my energy, not only sexual energy, one wouldn t even sleep very much or this or that, is all being used for something.

But there is also the suggestion that if the energy is actually not being used by one, what do we mean by that? Meaning if I am not actually engaged with spiritual practice and I am just somehow feeling or it s a religious demand and therefore if one has a sexual impulse, one is feeling guilty about it, then it actually becomes worse and worse and worse. So it s very important to understand this, not out of I should not be interested in sex, but more out of that I am called to attend to something subtler, something higher. So there is a different attitude involved in this. So I am very much suggesting to you not to be against sexual energy, but more towards what can it actually serve.

Same thing which I have been trying to actually say about almost everything in our life, even not to be against one s ego or the body or the mind, but always wondering what can it actually serve? What is the subtler aspect? Now this is something we need to actually come back to again and again. I have so often tried to say it s not so interesting what I am against. Always ask yourself what am I for?

What can my energy actually serve? And here just to make sure that we don t take extreme control of the bodily needs and desires, that I continue with some other remarks of Krishna from the same chapter. We are still dealing with dhyana yoga. By the way, I should have mentioned earlier, dhyana yoga or yoga of meditation is occasionally called also called raj yoga, meaning royal yoga, as if the idea is one has mastered the right learning, right actions, and now one can engage with this. This is often called raj yoga.

But now I read to you sixth chapter, sixteenth to nineteenth shlokas. This yoga is not for one who eats too much or sleeps too much, nor for the one who gives up sleep or food. Yoga destroys the sorrow of the one who sleep and waking, food and play, and actions are all disciplined. When the mind is wholly under control and stands stilled in the self, this is self with a capital S, always a reminder that that is in India is regarded as the same, identically the same as Brahma. And when no desirable thing causes the heart to crave it, then it is said one is in yoga.

Just as in a windless place, the flame of a lamp does not flicker, so the mind of a yogi who practices union with the self does not wander. So, such a steadily focused mind, that is the recommendation. In fact, Krishna actually enlarges this more, continuing here, abandoning all desires born of selfish will and restraining completely the multitude of senses with the mind. One should slowly cease from all mental activity with buddhi, with awareness. Remember I have periodically reminded you that's really the main yoga that Krishna teaches.

Hold firmly, sorry, with awareness held firmly, having fixed the mind in the self, one should think of nothing at all. Not so easy, but nevertheless a reminder, whenever and to whatever side the restless and unquiet mind wanders away, it should be reigned in and brought back into subjugation to the self. So, see, even Krishna is obviously aware that to say, sit down and think of nothing at all is the direction to be followed, but then he says, whenever the mind wanders away, which it invariably will. My own recommendation very strongly is, don't become even against the mind. Actually almost affectionately bring it back.

My own impression is, watching this in myself, that the ordinary mind is like a dog and when the master is not at home, it wants to protect the house. So any kind of sound, any person nearby or any other creature, it begins to bark. Therefore not to be against the barking dog. What is much more important is, can the master be at home? Which in our case, this is merely analogical.

In this instance it would mean, can I in fact be connected with, again and again, with something subtler than myself, towards Krishna, towards God, towards Christ, whatever expression speaks to you, but that is really the master at home. So when the master is at home, the dog will stop barking. But if I become against the dog, that means I don't understand its deep-seated wish. The whole of our body and mind is an instrument of the spirit. I spoke about this earlier, that it is the soul or the spirit that takes on the body and the mind for its purposes.

Therefore it can hardly be against the body and the mind, but it is true that the human birth is a dangerous enterprise because its subtle energy is getting into heavier material and as it were gets stuck in the heavier material, then the material has its own demands, its own needs and wishes. So this is what classically we have already spoken about it. Spiritual energy or spiritual nature and the bodily nature or the animal nature, they tend to be in different directions simply because the animal nature by itself has its own needs and demands even to be alive. Then it has to struggle with other people to keep its place. So it all becomes very egotistically oriented and therefore tends to move away from the needs of the spirit.

On the other hand, it is meant to be the instrument. So not therefore to be against the instrument, but to how to fine-tune it, how to discipline it so that it in fact assists the purposes or the will of the spirit. So whether we call it Krishna's will, of course the great sages I already mentioned to you, the remark of Christ. I do nothing on my own, I'm not the author of the words I speak, I say what my father in heaven tells me to say. Well, those are very great sages, but we can try to move in that direction.

First of all, so if the mind wanders away, more or less affectionately to bring it back, to stay here. And as I have tried to emphasize several times, connecting it with the breath is a great help. I think I mentioned this even in our meditation, actually one of the old Upanishads actually says that the breath can be connected with the mind like a bird in a cage. It's rather interesting, similarly. Then of course, when Krishna says to Arjuna to sit down and thinking nothing at all, Arjuna quite rightly says, I'm still continuing with the sixth chapter, this is 33rd to 36th Shloka.

Arjuna said, oh Madhusudana, by the way, this is Krishna has many names, just like Arjuna has many names, literally Madhusudana actually has double meaning, Madhu was the name of a demon who Krishna had killed at one stage. So it's the killer of Madhu, killer of the demon Madhu, but Madhu also means honey. So there is also the other side, one is hankering for something very nice and sweet, and Krishna always remains a little detached from all this. So there are many different, each time when a word or a label is used, either for Krishna, it actually in the context often has a special meaning, but that will take us too far. So you'll have to read my book to get into more of these details, but here, in any case, Arjuna said to Madhusudana, owing to restlessness, I cannot see my stable base for this yoga with the quality of equanimity of which you speak.

The mind is very restless, turbulent, strong and obstinate. It is as difficult to rein it in as to control the wind. So you see here is an honest searcher, exactly reporting what any one of us could actually report if we are seriously thinking about it, speaking about it, and actually reporting what we see rather than what we fantasize. So then Krishna's response to it, surely, almighty armed. You see here, he's calling Arjuna almighty armed because calling him again to struggle.

The mind is restless and hard to subdue, but by constant practice, the Sanskrit word which is used here is abhyas. I'll come back to this in a minute. And non-attachment, the Sanskrit word which is used here is vairagya, so abhyas and vairagya. By constant practice and non-attachment, it can be controlled, O son of Kunti. Yoga is very difficult to attain for one who is not self-controlled, but it is attainable for the self-controlled who strives in the right way.

Now, let me take a few moments about these two words, abhyas and vairagya. These two words are very much emphasized also in the first chapter of the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. And abhyas can be translated as practice, but more or less the emphasis is steady practice, constant practice, coming back to it again and again, that kind of idea. And so one can also see here that the sixth chapter in the Bhagavad Gita dealing with Dhyana Yoga is really very similar to much of the emphasis of Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. Whereas Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra is essentially occupied with meditation.

He's not talking about action in the world, which is of course, Krishna is ultimately asking Arjuna to act in the world, to become the connecting link or the intermediary between the highest level, namely Krishna, and the usual worldly level. That is not the kind of direction or the aim of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. But these two are not contradictory to each other, they are very much complementary texts. They are both classical texts of yoga. But the Bhagavad Gita is, for example, the word love is not even used once in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

Whereas Bhagavad Gita is very much concerned with this, as we will continue maybe tomorrow, and Him Bhakti Yoga. And similarly, action in the world is not much concern of Patanjali. So in a certain way, Patanjali's Yoga Sutra is really for, if you like, a dedicated person who has renounced the world and is wholly occupied with the meditation. Which is the reason why this remark from Krishna Prem, that before you come to that, you have to be very clear that you have practiced or understood many of the things that Krishna has been teaching until then, the right action and the right knowledge, etc. So these two texts are hardly contradictory, but they are really focusing on slightly different ideas, different practices, different emphasis.

So nevertheless, both Abhyas and Vairagya in the sixth chapter in the Bhagavad Gita is almost the main emphasis in the first chapter of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Now Abhyas, I just mentioned what it is, essentially practice, steady practice, constant practice, keeping returning to what one is trying to practice. Vairagya is usually translated as non-attachment or non-identification or detachment, which is certainly not in any sense wrong. But here it may be useful to emphasize, actually sometimes we look at what is driving the world or what is driving myself in the world. And here, just a quick reminder, this is actually a remark of Christ in one of the Gospels, that the whole world is in the sway of the prince of darkness, a very strong statement.

That putting it slightly in the more Hindu-Buddhist way of putting it, that the whole world is being driven by fear and desire, fear of disapproval, desire for approval, desire for gain, desire for wealth, desire for power, and fear that it would not come about. Even ultimately, even fear of God, we don't know what God is, but whatever we fantasize or whatever our priests may tell us, then we are afraid if I don't do the right thing. So I wish to be approved by God, and then I'm afraid that I may not be approved, so I'll be in hell. So you see, that is what is driving the whole world. And it is true that occasionally, I'm sure you can even go on the internet and check occasionally a person, particularly those who have been very successful materially.

They come to the clear realization that, is this the end of my life? Is this the meaning of my life? So there is a kind of disenchantment which makes them maybe move away from this. So vairagya, which basically means disenchantment, if you like, or detachment, actually, Maestro Eckhart would use the word indifference, which is a slightly different emphasis on it, that one begins to be indifferent to these worldly energies or worldly forces or worldly desires and needs. This is the most common starting point for most sages in the history of humanity.

They see that there is something not right about the world, they wish to find something that is true. For example, the Buddha sees somebody who is old, somebody who is sick or who is dying. Is this the whole world? So he wishes to find something that is free of this. So there is always different descriptions, but always the movement or vairagya detachment seems to come as a force moving away from something undesirable.

And Patanjali has a very interesting way of saying that the higher vairagya, he regards this as lower vairagya, nothing wrong with it, but that's what often is the starting point for most sages in any history. You can look at Rumi, you can look at John of the Cross, you can look at really any of the sages anywhere. You will find that they are slightly fed up or they are struck by that this just carries on. They are very transient, just fear and desire. And then often a reminder because they are going to die sooner or later, then they wonder what is the point of all this?

So Patanjali would regard all that as lower vairagya. Then he says higher vairagya arises from having had a vision of the transcendent, having had a vision of something very high. Then he says one is not very interested in what goes on below. So that's a different kind of vairagya. Just to remind ourselves that a great deal of Sufi poetry, particularly in religious literature, each tradition ends up having a certain kind of emphasis, a fair amount of Sufi poetry and also poetry connected with the Krishna-oriented spirituality in India, is actually arising from what in Sanskrit is called virha-rag, meaning raga, arising from estrangement, from separation.

Having been together with Krishna, now Radha is separated. So this is what causes her suffering. John of the Cross has this remarkable book called The Dark Night of the Soul. That is arising because he has had a vision of something very high. Now he doesn't have that connection, and therefore he is suffering.

So The Dark Night of the Soul actually is arising from having had a very great vision or having connected with something, as Patanjali would say, having connected with something transcendent. So for him, higher vairagya has a very different quality to it than lower vairagya. And here I would also remind, sometimes it saddens me that even some of my serious Christian friends who are interested actually in serious things, they don't even know this book, The Cloud of Unknowing. It's an absolute classical text of Christian spirituality. Here he makes this, we don't know who the author is, but apparently it's an English man because the book seems to have been originally in English.

And there the author makes this remark that God is on the other side of the cloud of unknowing, and that then he suggests another cloud called the cloud of forgetting. So we have to put everything below the cloud of forgetting, so that we can come to it. I think it's a lovely expression. That's why I'm recalling, I'm mentioning the name of this book. So vairagya is really like putting everything below the cloud of forgetting.

We knows many things, we own many things, nobody is against any of this. But can I be free of being attached to this? I know generally or quite often there is a tendency therefore to become against the worldly forces or powers. In fact, even in the Bible, you would find some expression like this. For example, this is one of the letters of James, I think.

One who loves the world is an enmity with God. Well, this is putting it, I think, a little too strongly because after all, even God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son. So one could hardly say that to love the world is a bad thing. But sometimes the sages are so struck by the force of this worldly love. Then they say, oh, this is holding away from God.

So it gets put very strongly. But I think to put this in terms of not being against the world or against the worldly needs and desires even, but not to be so attached to it, to be a little free of this. Krishna is actually much closer to recommending that again and again because Krishna hardly himself could be said to be against the bodily needs and desires, he seemed to have had many lovers as far as this is, of course, mythological stories. We don't actually know any of this. However, coming back to this question of vairagya, I think higher vairagya arises from having seen something subtler or having been connected with something subtler.

Then it is easier to put things below the cloud of forgetting, which is a lovely expression, actually. OK. Here I am quoting from the yoga sutras just to remind you the emphasis that Patanjali actually places on abhyas and vairagya. This is from the very first chapter. And these are sutras 12 to 16 in the yoga sutras.

This develops through abhyas and vairagya. Remember the emphasis is how to quieten the ordinary mind. Until we do that, we cannot come back to the real seer. Just a quick reminder to you, this is the very first substantial sutra, actually it's the second sutra in the first chapter, yoga chitta bhritti nirodha. Yoga is stopping all the movements of the mind.

Then what follows is a very interesting sutra. Tatra drishtus rupayavasthan. Then the seer, he no longer even calls it the knower. Then the seer resides in his true form, his own true form. So here I'm just reading the emphasis placed by Patanjali on abhyas and vairagya.

Stillness develops through abhyas and vairagya. Abhyas is the effort of remaining present. Continuous care and attention for a long time establishes this practice. Vairagya is the mastery over the craving for what has been seen or heard. The higher vairagya arises from a vision of the transcendent being and leads to the cessation of craving for the things of the world.

So this is, you can see almost directly what Krishna would have said in the sixth chapter. And abhyas and vairagya have different levels, everything has different levels. One should always keep in mind. If we were to think of the Buddha sitting in practice or in abhyas, sure as hell it'll be a different level than Ravi sitting in abhyas. So it's always a good thing to remind oneself, to think of some iconic person, whether it's mythological or historical, somebody you have met or not met, because then it is a reminder not to get easily satisfied with what one understands, what one knows, or what one has even in some manner of speaking what one has achieved.

Sometimes one's mind is very quiet for a few minutes, but not therefore to fantasize that this is the end. Sometimes one is uncharacteristically generous or compassionate, but not therefore to imagine that now I'm at the level of the Buddha. Always keep in mind, there are many, many levels. So in the light of this very strong emphasis, I will actually come back to this in a later lecture, but on so far, earlier I had already mentioned the word nashkaramaya, meaning in a way it's actionlessness that a yogi sees that he does nothing at all. This is one of the definitions of a yogi by Krishna, but essentially meaning that the yogi has now become, he's not the doer, he's carrying out the will of Krishna.

So action is being done in him or through him or on him or by him, but he's not doing it, that kind of idea. Similarly, a word which is actually not in the Bhagavad Gita, but Krishna is a friend of mine, he would agree, I've created this word nashjanya, which is nevertheless like saying nashkaramaya, which is to say a state of unknowing, which is not a state of ignorance, just as nashkaramaya is not a state of inaction, but a state of unknowing in which one does not know everything. One is open to something that may surprise one. So I'll return to these two words again, when maybe on the very last day, the 10th lecture, I will try to slightly summarize some of the teaching in the Bhagavad Gita. So now I have a suggestion for an exercise for you, if you wish to try it, because in


particularly something to do with meditation, ask yourself or sometimes you search for it.

Do you sometimes feel that it is not my attention, but attention in me? Not my energy or my work or action, but energy in me or action being done in me? Wonder about this, initially maybe just thinking about it, but then much more importantly to actually see sometimes in a quiet meditation, can I be in a state when I'm aware of a tension, but I am not the one attending? It becomes closer to really the kind of awareness that we have been speaking about. So try it sometimes.

So now we'll stop. Thank you very much.


Kate M
3 people like this.
The Christian tradition, in comparison with the Asian spiritual traditions, seems to be rather thin in regards to the practice of meditation (or as the Christian tradition terms it, contemplation). But of course mystics appear in all traditions, and The Cloud of Unknowing, which Ravi refers to, appears to be written by a medieval mystic coaching a friend in contemplative practice. It's a gem! 
Caroline S
1 person likes this.
I found "it's not very interesting to say what I am against; always ask what am I for?" particularly apt.  When we are always looking for the fault a lot of energy is put into that.  Then the mind / body / heart closes, becomes small.  And, overephasising achievement and success makes us forget that a state of unknowing in which one does not know where we discover more, are surprised, and find delight in this new knowledge.  Thank you Ravi.

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