Awareness, Meditation, Work


The mind doesn't move; awareness moves. We have control. Sitting still, restraining the mind, nirodha of the vrittis, is what's changing subconscious from the inside out. Being spurred on by the guru, strive for improvement, seeing progress. Look inside, find happiness and then share it. When not in meditation work to refine every attribute of your nature. Be in the world and be fearless. Face what you need to do and do it well.

Master Course Trilogy, Living with Siva, Lesson 99.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone.

This is from yesterday's Living with Siva Lesson, Chapter Fifteen, Lesson 99.

"Taming Distraction

"Throughout your inner investigations in meditation, cling to the philosophical principle that the mind doesn't move. Thoughts are stationary within the mind, and only awareness moves. It flows from one thought to another, as the free citizen of the world travels through each country, each city, not attaching himself anywhere."

This is an important thought in Gurudeva's approach to meditation. The mind doesn't move; awareness moves. Generally, we follow the English structure of language and we say: I am happy; I am sad. What can I do about it, right? I am happy; I am sad. If I'm sad, I'm sad; If I'm happy, I'm happy. But when we utilize this approach we say: I, as awareness, am in the state of consciousness called happiness. I, as awareness, am in the state of consciousness called sadness.

So, if we find ourselves in a state of consciousness that we're not particularly contented with, because we know that awareness can move, it's easier to move. We're not so attached. We don't think: I'm a sad person. We say: I as awareness somehow ended up in the state of consciousness called sadness; do I want to stay here all day or not? Would I rather be in the state of consciousness called happiness, state of consciousness called contentment? Well we just, we have more of a control just by the concept. We're also more detached from describing ourselves in a negative way.

Instead of saying: I'm an unhappy person, we can say: I, as awareness, have the habit of ending up in the state of consciousness of unhappiness. Do I want to change that habit or not? So very crucial.

"When you are able, through practice, to sit for twenty minutes without moving even one finger, your superconscious mind can begin to express itself. It can even reprogram your subconscious and change past patterns of existence. That is one of the wonderful things about inner life. That's why it's inner life -- it happens from the inside."

Then Gurudeva goes on to say in the next paragraph:

"...By sitting still again at this point, it is just a matter of a few minutes for the forces to quiet and awareness to soar in and in once again. Sitting quietly in this state, you will feel when the superconscious nerve system begins to work in the physical body. You may feel an entirely different flow through your muscles, your bones and your cells. Let it all happen."

In comparing that to Patanjali, when we think of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and controlling the mind, of course, we tend to think of the second verse: "Yoga is the restraint of mental activity." That's how he's defining yoga. "Yoga is the restraint of mental activity." This of course is talking about the conscious mind which in Sanskrit we call jagrat vritti. Conscious, jagrat vrit..; jagrat chitta, don't know it says vritti here. Jagrat chitta -- conscious mind.

But, if you read further, Patanjali talks about the subconscious mind as well. He says, say the same thing Gurudeva says. Gurudeva's saying: Just by sitting quietly in meditation we're reprogramming our subconscious mind and changing past patterns of existence.

So the way that Patanjali says it is: All actions of restraint, nirodha, of the vrittis gradually transforms the content of the subconscious mind which he calls samskara chitta.

Just the act of restraining the mind is what's changing the subconscious which is what Gurudeva's saying. Same thing. So, we're changing the subconscious mind from the inside out without having to go in there and look around and figure things out. It's just a natural byproduct of restraint which includes sitting still.

"As you sit to meditate, awareness may wander into past memories or future happenings. It may be distracted by the senses, by a sound or by a feeling of discomfort in the body. (Or, all of the above, right?) This is natural in the early stages. Gently bring awareness back to your point of concentration. Don't criticize awareness for wandering, for that is yet another distraction."

That's an important point. We can't be disappointed in ourselves. Go through that emotion. Oh my mind is wandering again. This is terrible, I'm not a very good meditator. Of putting another issue in the mind that we don't need there. It's just, it wandered, so we bring it back.

"Distractions will disappear if you become intensely interested and involved in your meditation. ...become intensely interested and involved in your meditation. In such a state, you won't even feel the physical body. You have gone to a movie, read a book or sat working on a project on your computer that was so engrossing you only later discovered your foot had fallen asleep for a half hour because it was in an awkward position. Similarly, once we are totally conscious on the inside, we will never be distracted by the physical body or the outside."

And Gurudeva goes on; he's talking about distractions.

If distractions are coming up regularly:

"...then you are hooked very strongly into the instinctive or intellectual area of the mind, and the whole idea of meditation won't inspire you very much. Therefore, you need something to spur you on inwardly. In Hinduism when this occurs, the grace of the satguru is sought. By going to your guru openly, you receive darshana, a little extra power that moves awareness permanently out of the areas of distraction. You are then able to sit in inner areas for long periods of time. Distractions become fewer and fewer, for he has wrenched you out of the instinctive and intellectual areas and changed the energy flow within your body."

This can be done too just through group meditations in Shum. For example: The monks all meditate as a group in the morning and this same process is taking place but in a less one on one situation. Those who are doing well in the meditation are helping those who aren't doing well move into the area of mind that can do well.

One of the, I remember Gurudeva would describe group meditations in Shum, very specific way. He would say: Before Shum, group meditations, he wasn't in favor of group meditations. Why is that? Because everybody was doing something different on the inside. There was no control. Let's meditate for half an hour, you know. Everybody is gone somewhere else and one person isn't supporting the other. Some are doing well, some are doing poorly, so forth.

But in Shum, you're calling out where everybody is supposed to go. You're saying: Simshumbisi -- feel the energy of the spine. Because you're calling it out and everybody's working on the same area at the same time, created a different energy. Created more of an invigorating, upbeat energy. Whereas, a group meditation without that, he felt was kind of, could get a little sleepy. But this helps it stay dynamic.

So that same idea of being spurred onward by the guru, you can be spurred onward by a group meditation in which at least some of the individuals are doing really well.

"After the meditation is over, work to refine every attribute of your nature."

It's an important point for a couple of reasons. One is it's showing that the practice of meditation is not 100 percent of the focus. But also need to focus on our external nature. We're not just sitting there and let focus on meditation and what else do you do doesn't matter. Focusing on controlling ourselves in meditation but then when we're not in meditation we're working to refine every attribute of your nature.

And, as I like to say: We're not striving for perfection we're striving for improvement. That's the key. Refinement means getting better at it, slowly over time doing better. If we get angry once a day we cut it down to twice a week. And from twice a week we get it down to once a month, you know. We're improving and we don't want to get discouraged because we're not perfect. Sometimes, individuals set the standard so high that they can't possibly achieve it and then they get discouraged and therefore don't strive. Whereas, if you can change the concept to be more lenient with yourself, as as long as you're seeing progress: Okay, I'm doing better now than I was two years ago.

Two years is a good time frame to see progress. Not two days, two years. Gives us time to make progress. If I'm doing better; if I'm more refined now than I was two years ago I'm headed the right direction. That's the, what we want.

Then the other related point in the external to compliment meditation is: "...Learn to work and work joyfully, for all work is good."

Writing a short piece on Sivathondu, on Yogaswami, for a coming visit to Colombo and cause one of his strongest themes was: Go and do your work! You know, you have this great satsang and then you tell everyone: "Go now and do your work!" With a little bit of fire.

Really was forceful, what was the story? Just to make it clear, he was meeting with a few devotees, one of whom was a doctor. And afterwards the doctor wanted to take Yogaswami's leaf and put it away and Yogaswami said: "No, that's my work, not your work; you do your work, I'll do my work."

So making it clear that everyone has a distinct work or svadharma. When you're an adult you have a svadharma, a profession, a way of fitting into life. And, you should strive to do yours and do it well. So, he would work that into different comments.

And then another related comment he liked to make is: "Whatever work you have to do, do it well. That in itself is yoga."

So the com... the complement of striving, trying to control our thoughts in meditation is doing what we do well. Not just doing the minimum. Doing a little extra. Doing the tasks we do well according to the amount of time we have, of course, to do it.

And we keep going.

"Learn to be happy by seeking happiness, not from others but from the depths of the soul itself."

We've been talking about that a lot and that's very important. But we're not looking outside into possessions and into other people to make us happy. We want to look inside, find happiness and then share it with other people. But, we don't want to count on them to make us happy. We want to count on ourselves to uplift ourselves, make ourselves happy, as Gurudeva says here, from the depths of the soul itself.

"In your daily life, observe the play of the forces as they manifest between people and people, and people and their things. Don't avoid the forces of the world, for the meditator lives fearlessly, shying away from nothing."

That's a good, there's a little bit more but that's a good last point to make. Don't want to go too late.

Gurudeva explains that in the introduction to each of his Master Course Trilogy. He says: When someone new takes up spiritual life, a common reaction is to start to withdraw from the world. All of the world is worldly. The world is just concerned about money, just concerned about politics, just concerned about power and saying: I don't care about those things so I'll kind of withdraw from the world.

But, what Gurudeva is saying is: No, that's not correct, you know, unless you're a monk. That's the wrong approach. We have to be in the world and be fearless. Face what you need to do and do it well.

So:

"Don't avoid the forces of the world, for the meditator lives fearlessly, shying away from nothing."

Have a wonderful day.

Aum Namah Sivaya.

Photo of  Gurudeva
Sadhana allows us to live in the refined and cultured soul nature, rather than in the outer, instinctive or intellectual spheres.
—Gurudeva