Who should practice mindfulness/ meditation?
The simple answer is every human being should practice mindfulness. Because they are self-conscious, unlike other living beings. Secondly, every human being is a seeker of peace, excellence, happiness, love, and wisdom. The eastern wisdom aims at excellence in outer life by awakening to our true nature.
My master used to say,’ we eat food and then leave it on the digestive system to digest it.’ Similarly, we need to practice until the mind is purified and takes over the work to allow our life to move in peace, happiness, wisdom, right action, right perception, excellence at all times.
Students, teachers, engineers, prisoners, patients are labels that we give to the same human being. Mindfulness is for a human beings. We are a human beings first, then any of these labels.
a few principles to secure the path of mindfulness
Learn from your experiences daily to succeed in mindfulness
The best way to learn mindfulness is to learn from our experiences daily. As long as we are alive, we have experienced. All experiences happen in the mind. These experiences are related to body, breath, mind, intellect, ego, and something beyond them. These experiences are and not limited to sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts that further translates into positive and negatives, high and low, good and bad. They are all about the mind.
Shreyas vs Preyas (good vs likes/dislikes)- two ways of the leading life
अन्यच्छ्रेयोऽन्यदुतैव प्रेयस्ते उभे नानार्थे पुरुषँ सिनीतः ।
तयोः श्रेय आददानस्य साधुर्भवति हीयतेऽर्थाद्य उ प्रेयो वृणीते ॥
Katho Upanishad 1.2.1 ॥
anyacchreyo’nyadutaiva preyaste ubhe nānārthe puruṣam̐ sinītaḥ |
tayoḥ śreya ādadānasya sādhurbhavati hīyate’rthādya u preyo vṛṇīte ||
One is good while another is pleasant. These two, serving different ends, bind men; happiness comes to him, who, of these, chooses the good; whoso chooses the pleasant forfeits the true end.
There are two ways living life- day to day and moment to moment. Preyas is what gives pleasure when connected or related to people, place, possession, time and events. Shreyas is what is good, permanent, devoid of dualities caused by the mind. It is peace, happiness, love, wisdom, truth and independent from people, place, possession, and time.
Preyas is pleasant and short lived, hence mind craves for it, gives constant trigger to mind within. Preyas is the source of all pleasures, pains, stress and suffering. Preyas gives temporary happiness that turns into sorrow. People marry for happiness and divorce for happiness. People remarry for happiness and do not think rightly. This is an example of movement of Preyas in life. Preyas leads to attraction, pleasure, cravings, addiction and miseries in life. It is like a fish, tempted and get caught by fish catcher. A deer is caught by the sound of flute. The he-elephant is lured by sense of touch of she-elephant, used by hunters to catch them.
A weak mind is impure mind. An impure mind is lured by people, place, possession and time. This mind is absorbed by pleasure, hyperactivity, lethargies, reactions, anger and agitations. Masters say that impure mind leads to three vices -sensual pleasures, anger and greed. When mind lives in three vices, the kundalini is sleeping in lower chakras and continues to create suffering in life. Preyas means mind is constantly seeking pleasure, escaping pain and then find itself caught in the web od likes, dislikes, pain and pleasure.
Shreyas is the way of living life based on what is good. It may seem unattractive to people in the beginning. But what is unattractive is caused by the impure mind. The impure mind is default setting of mind. We are evolving constantly, the mind must think, contemplate and reflect on what is good, better and the best for life and for all at the same time. This is exactly the path fo Shreyas. Shreyas discovers our true nature – the everlasting peace, happiness, love and wisdom. Then we live and express the same peace, happiness, love and wisdom in personal, professional, social and family lives. Shreyas is a way to take over the mind that is craving by what is good for one and all.
Masters for the last 6000 years guide through principles of eastern wisdom – what is good in life. Master disciple tradition is required the way it is required to become a doctor or engineer. Googling mindfulness seldom works, except give some relaxation. How to move consciously from Preyas to Shreyas starts in three steps learning the principles from the master, contemplation and reflection to clear the mind from impurities and regular practice with wisdom.
Put all experiences to test if they are good or entered life because of likes and dislikes. Anything that enters life with likes and dislikes of the mind may leads to suffering.
The word Shreyas means what is good for me. Our attitudes, behavior, thought pattern, feelings and sensations.
How to start the journey of life from Preyas to Shreyas
साधनचतुष्टय किम्? नित्यानित्यवस्तुविवेकः ।
इहामुत्रार्थफलभोगविरागः । शमादिषट्कसम्पत्तिः । मुमुक्षुत्वं चेति I Tattva Bodha 1.1
Saadhana chatushtayam kim? Nitya anitya vastu vivekah;
iha amutra, artha phala bhoga, viraagah; shama-aadi shatka sampattih; mumukshutvam cha iti.
What are the four-fold qualifications? They are
The right analysis of what is real and unreal. Understanding the fruits of actions here and after to move mind to Dispassion for their enjoyment; six fold treasures inside; and burning aspiration for awakening, peace and freedom from suffering.
The four-fold qualifications offer the way to discipline, educate and purify the mind to succeed in mindfulness. Every step is a principle from eastern wisdom, applied differently by masters at different time with their students.
The simply ready these steps do not help. They need to be taught by the teacher followed by contemplation, reflection and regular practice. A brief information is given below.
What is right analysis? first of fold discipline
नित्यानित्यवस्तुविवेकः कः ?
नित्यवस्त्वेकं ब्रह्म तद्व्यतिरिक्तं सर्वमनित्यम् |
अयमेव नित्यानित्यवस्तुविवेकः |1.1
Nitya anitya vastu vivekah kah? Nitya vastu ekam brahma,
tad vyatiriktam sarvam anityam; ayam eva Nitya anitya vastu vivekah.
The right analysis is clear understanding of what is real and unreal. There is one reality and all else temporary. This alone is right analysis (reference to the principles of eastern wisdom).
A seeker become aware of impurity of mind, the moment he asks himself, what is real and unreal in leading a life. The experiences of anger, agitation, reaction, blame, complain, forgetfulness is due to impure mind. The moment stops blaming, complaining and reacting keeps mind wandering with people, place, possession, past, and future. This step helps to differentiate between acquired and essential nature.
When the seeker continues right analysis, his mind realizes that what begins has an end but there is something behind the body, breath, mind and intellect that is essential and eternal. The right analysis continues, moves mind from distraction to dispassion, which is the second of four-fold qualifications.
What is Dispassion? Second of four-fold discipline
विरागः कः ?
What is Dispassion? The enjoyments in this world and heaven, the absence of desire (feeling of incompleteness and projection for pleasure) for them.
Dispassion is purifying the mind, educating it to move from wrong to right perception. Depending on the state of mind, healthy or unhealthy, dispassion is temporary, strong and intense. Only when dispassion becomes intense, one awakens to highest state of mindfulness.
The highest dispassion is the objectless state of mind. When mind is objectless, all desires that causes suffering is absent. The dispassion state is reached when mind perceives the cycle of pain and pleasure as defects in life. The life becomes more beautiful when dispassion progresses, as seeker stops spending time, energy, and thinking about them. The seeker always has time for practice at home, at workplace and with people. The self-created world of passion, pleasure, pain that causes suffering, laziness, reaction, agitation etc. stops. There is natural calm, relaxation, and joy.
What is six-fold treasures inside? Third step of four-fold discipline
शमादिसाधनसम्पत्तिः का ?
शमो दम उपरमस्तितिक्षा श्रद्धा समाधानं च इति ।
What are the inner treasures? They are i) Shama, ii) Dama, iii) Uparati, iv) Titiksha, v) Shraddha, and vi) Samadhana. (each one is explained below…)
The outer treasures in life are money, mansion, high end cars, beautiful body etc. but if the student on the path does not have inner treasures, one does never succeed in mindfulness.
The six treasures are interrelated like money can buy all pleasures – car, home, food, clothes etc. the seeker learns and applies all six treasures in day to day life, until he reaches the highest state of mindfulness results in freedom from mind.
These six treasures applied in life are: mental relaxation and calm, right perception of people, place, possession devoid of projection, indifference to things that causes distraction and living within, increased endurance to events in life, faith in self (the essential nature) and solutions for riddles of life.
शमः कः ? मनो निग्रहः ।Tattav Bodha 1.3.1
What is Sama? (It is) master over the mind.
The Sanskrit word Sama means to be calm, tranquil and relaxed. The feminine word for Sama is Shanti meaning peace.
The seeker does practices aims at discovering calmness inside. To live in the calmness is to educate the mind not to think and act like spoilt child. There are many practices that needs to be practiced daily so that calmness state is achieved in thinking, speaking and acting ( works).
दमः कः ? चक्षुरादिबाह्येन्द्रियनिग्रहः ।Tattva Bodha 1.3.2
What is Dama? The eyes, etc – i.e. the 10 sense organs – their firm control is called Dama.
The five sense organs of perception and five organs of action need to be freed from their obsessions, cravings and pleasures. The Dama literally means to control within. It means what my master used to say, O mind, be at peace, this will also pass.
When mind still wants to react, the second treasure is used to prevent the reaction. The second treasures help to give mind a direction that releases the passion.
Both first and second treasures work hand in hand. The Sama calms down the mind if not Dama enters and works to calm it down.
उपरमः कः ? स्वधर्मानुष्ठानमेव । Tattva Bodha 1.3.3
What is Uparama (or Uparati)? One’s own Dharma or duty, the strict observance of that alone.
When mind calms down and lives in the state, still it continues to take pleasure in things outside. The Sama and Dama needs effort in the beginning but Uparama is effortless state. To be indifferent or cease to pleasure of things happens naturally.
तितिक्षा का ? शीतोष्णसुखदुःखादिसहिष्णुत्वम् । Tattva Bodha 1.3.4
What is Titiksha? Of heat and cold, of joy and sorrow (pleasure and pain) – it is their endurance.
The first three treasures forms the foundation of mindfulness. These three progresses into next three treasures.
The fourth treasure Titiksha means to endure. When one chooses to lead the life with Shreyas, he learns to bear the problems and challenges at physical, mental, emotional, personal, professional, social lives. This treasure develops endurance that makes mind free from effects of opposites of pain and pleasure, sorrow and happiness.
To stop arguing, blaming and complaining others for our miseries and problems is one of many ways this treasure works in daily life. The best way to practice Titiksha is to become ‘no body’ when mind is wanting to be crazy, reactive, blaming, complaining and lazy.
श्रद्धा कीदृशी ? गुरुवेदान्तवाक्यादिषु विश्वासः श्रद्धा । Tattva Bodha 1.3.5
What is the nature of Shraddha? Of the Guru and of the scriptures,
in their words (teachings, instructions), etc., to have faith in them – is Shraddha.
The faith is easy when mind understands what needs to reject and accept to tread the path of what is good (Shreyas). This understanding comes when a seeker studies the principles with teacher as he helps understands them depending on the level and temperament. The teacher selects principles and the right text for the seeker to tread the path successfully.
The faith is in what is essential , true and on reality behind appearances of body, breath, life, mind and intellect.
समाधानं किम्? चित्तैकाग्रता । 1.3.6
What is Samadhana? Single-pointedness of mind is Samadhana.
The single pointedness in eastern wisdom is constant awareness of Shreyas and always ready to do whatever it takes to awaken to inner peace, happiness, love and wisdom.
The single pointedness is also continued practice to discover the true nature.
All six treasures help the student to transition to become a seeker. A seeker is qualified to tread the path. it purifies the mind and clears the doubts and confusions about mindfulness. They help mind to move within and live within easily which is prerequisite for mindfulness.
The goal of six treasures is emptying the mind of contents.
मुमुक्षुत्वं किम्? मोक्षो मेभूयाद् इति इच्छा ।
एतत्साधनचतुष्टयम्। ततस्तत्त्वविवेकस्याधिकारिणो भवन्ति ।| Tattva Bodha 1.4
What is Mumukshutva? “Let me attain Liberation (freedom from mind)”, this intense desire is Mumukshutva.
All desires are seeking something other than our true nature. The desire is sense of incompleteness and projection. It causes suffering. When mind is ready and qualified to take the path of Shreyas, the mind starts seeking the self within. It is an aspiration for freedom from mind. The mind seeks the freedom from mind, in daily activities. He uses every thought, speech and action for peace, happiness, truth, wisdom and love.
When we desire to discover our true nature, it is an aspiration. this aspiration becomes intense by disciplining and educating the mind. The intense aspiration develops commitment to tread the path until one succeeds. This leads to awakening and enlightenment.
It is interesting to note that sun never claims it rises and sets in. the sun gives light to everything and to itself. the same way enlightenment is not that something needs recognition, demonstration and reputation. Buddha simply said, ‘know thyself’, he never said that he got enlightenment. Patanjali said, ‘ we settle in our true nature’, he never said he was liberated. Because when we awaken to what we truly are, there is nothing to talk about it, but to show the path that will help everyone to evolve.