The process of Yoga is recovery of an obscured fact

The Lost Memory Shri Shankara says that the process of Yoga, of which meditation is one of the main limbs, is to realize a fact. It is not creation of something, but recovery of a fact which is somehow obscured. An example of such obscuring is loss of memory. At the end of the Gita, the disciple Arjuna says when his teacher Krishna, an incarnation of the Lord, has wakened enlightenment in him : ” I have recovered my memory.” Memory of what ? ” When the confusions of the mind are dissolved, that bliss which requires no other witness, that is Brahman ; and that is my highest Self, immortal, brilliant.”  That one is omniscient and omnipotent, ever compassionate to all living beings, and engaged in sending forth, preserving and withdrawing the universes as his sport. Arjuna realizes the Lord as his own Self, and realizing his true Self …

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In a life crisis meditate properly

In both Yoga and Zen a time of crisis is a good basis. A tragic bereavement, bankruptcy, public disgrace, ingratitude or even hostility from those who have been helped – these are the times when there is detachment from the world. These are practices that Dr Shastri recommended; they are well proven and reliable, and the book that they come out of is “Meditation: Its Theory and Practice”, which was written by Dr Shastri. One can be showered with different practices or presentations, but if one does one thing properly, then there is a chance for a response to come – an invitation to make the practices go further. But unless we start to do something there can’t be any response, there is no rapport. Lay down a particular time for meditation; he recommends first thing in the morning, when the mind is calm, though it might mean getting up …

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Meditation on a mind free from passion

Some commentators explain the practice as meditation, ultimately with a sense of identity, on some saint who is free from passion. One way is to live through incidents in his life vividly through meditation.Shankara gives a different practice, which is to consider the idea of ‘freedom from passion’, and he instances a well-known Indian example, how even the most passionate man feels his lust subside in the presence of one woman, namely his mother. There are other examples; one given by Dr Shastri was that there are certain fruits in the Himalayas which have a very attractive appearance, and the hungry pilgrim finds his mouth watering as he sees them. But when the guide explains how poisonous they are, the desire disappears. Their beauty is still appreciated, but the desire to eat them has gone.The examples show that passion is not something inevitable; in these cases it disappears, though not forcibly repressed. If it can disappear on these occasions, then in principle it can disappear on others also.

Meditation on the chosen form

19 The Chosen Form sutra 1.59 or (by meditation) on the chosen form The word for meditation is dhyana, which is the second step of the three stages of meditation. The first was dharana, ‘sup-porting’, ‘maintaining’, where the attention has to be repeatedly brought back to the location of the meditation. In the second step, which comes about after repeated practice of the first, there is a flow of related thoughts and feelings towards the same object, like a stream of oil being poured from one pot to another. The word for ‘chosen’ means literally something which specially appeals. It is not unheard of for a teacher to use unexpected things as subjects for meditation in order to teach a particular thing. A man who was an expert in the game called Mah-jong used to visit a Zen teacher once a week, and complained that he could not stay awake …

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Mastery in Samadhi is when the mind can be steadied

 20 samadhi Sutra 1.40 Mastery is when the mind can be steadied on anything from the ultimate in smallness to the ultimate in greatness The Upanishadic verses quoted in the Chapter of the Self describe Brahman: Subtle, finer than a lotus-fibre, he stands covering all; Greater than the earth, firm, he stands supporting all. These are the two extremes, and the Lord is ultimately found in each of them. All the other exercises in training the mind refer to objects between these limits. Shankara sums up by saying that he has mastered the practice who is not interrupted by any opposing thought in his experience of the very small or the very great, or what lies between them. He also adds an interesting comment that all the practices are really the same; it is a question of mastering one and then the others also are accessible easily. These are all …

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A Visit to a Zen Temple

Half an hour from Tokyo, in the suburb of Tsurumi, is a wooded hill on which stands the Zen monastery of Sojiji. It is the headquarters of the Soto branch of the Zen sect of Buddhism, and has numbered some famous Zen masters among its Abbots.  The Soto branch is some what larger than the other branch, the Rinzai.    The masters of Soto and Rinzai agree on fundamental principles, and both of them are lineal descendants of the Zen brought to China by Bodhidharma in the 7th century.    Both of them trace their spiritual pedigree back to Hui-neng, the famous Sixth Patriarch, and from him through Bodhidharma to Buddha himself.    The basis of the Zen instruction is the transmission “ from heart to heart “ of the spiritual realization of Reality. The basic tenet is: ” To know one’s real nature is to be Buddha.” The main difference between the …

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