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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Sankara analyses cases of illusion

Illusion Why is it that the Gītā so often puts the texts of the two paths close together? It is because ordinary experience is based on a sort of illusion. Some of the classical examples of this kind of illusion are outside our normal experience, and make no impact on a Western reader. In India, to ‘see’ a snake where there is only a rope can give quite a little shock, and to an Indian the example is telling. But many Western people have never seen a snake outside the Zoo. As Indians say humorously: ‘If you saw a snake, you would call the police!’ Since, then, we never see snakes, we do not see illusory snakes either. I realized this when with a friend I was looking for something in a London flat. I whisked open the door of a big wall cupboard. It happened that a thick black …

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