Praxis Toward Realization
Suffering is primarily a call for attention. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
The journey to enlightenment necessitates taming the raging beast inside your head: your mind. The difficulty of this domestication cannot be understated, as the mind is more than disinclined to keep its flap shut.
Self-conquest is the greatest of victories. ~ Plato
The mind’s overbearing nature means that the drive to clarity is an act of will. The conscious mind must be cleared and kept that way.
What is will but steadiness of heart and mind. Given such steadfastness all can be achieved. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Starting on the path to realization is a lifestyle choice. As with all achievements, enlightening oneself takes attention.
The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live. ~ American author Flora Whittemore
That self-control is the key to success is obvious, whatever signification success carries. Keeping a firm grip on the key is the problem.
One must sincerely desire enlightenment above all else. Attaining quietude is not a hobby. It is instead a devotion: a dedication of unrelenting discipline.
In that power of self-control lies the seed of eternal freedom. ~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Longing for material satisfaction keeps one coupled to suffering. In contrast, the desire for enlightenment is for contentment in being. The choice is between endless desires that never deliver lasting satisfaction and a singular desire that is unending satisfaction in its attainment.
In the spiritual life one becomes just like a little child, without resentment, without attachment, full of life and joy. ~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Nothing is gained in becoming enlightened. Instead, one becomes lighter by losing unnecessary baggage. The greatest revelation is not that no baggage is needed, it is that all baggage is imagined.
Spiritual maturity lies in the readiness to let go everything. The giving up is the first step. But the real giving up is in realizing that there is nothing to give up, for nothing is your own. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Realization cannot be attained by instruction nor mental acumen. It is instead attained by determination to realize one’s own true nature. ~ Mundaka Upanishad 3:2:3
Various instructive paths have been laid by spiritual teachers, who typically advocate the practices that helped them achieve clarity. A sole understanding is needed: what your own nature is. You are a quantized soul encased in a mind-body for an incarnation.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. ~ French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Mundane moments of involvement are the process of everyday life. Beyond that, remain an unattached witness, and thereby more clearly perceive the world before you.
Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality. ~ Nikos Kazantzakis
The will to realization begins by banishing all beliefs, rejecting emotions as valuable, shedding self as an admirable entity, and ends with leaving behind identification with all associations. Abandon all mental attachments.
The search for reality is the most dangerous of all undertakings, for it destroys the world in which you live. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
While the right precepts are helpful, concepts can be an obstacle to enlightenment, in that concepts clutter the mind, which naturally patterns them in relation to itself: into identification with, or alienation against. The mind as a natural concept magnet – of attraction and repulsion – is a problem.
All those concepts which are most dear to you, are images of yourself. Your image of yourself is that concept which is dearest to you. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
However passing the residence, being encased in a mind-body carries a compelling sense of belonging that cannot be completely surmounted. Enlightenment is accommodation with actuality, as contrasted to the ignorance of mistaking actuality for reality, or pretending to be above it all (mood-making).
It is extremely hard to get rid of that remnant of identification, being in the body. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
The sections that follow cover the various aspects of mental life which affect the phase transition to realization: being present, belief, desire, emotions, mental discipline, and lifestyle. The gist is to disentangle yourself and enjoy the spectacle before you.
The present moment is the only time there is. No matter what time it is, it is always now. ~ American spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson
Existence is instantaneously emergent from the quantum level to the cosmic. Coherence incessantly weaves the fabric of spacetime and all within it – making probabilistic wave patterns appear concrete, thereby creating a quantum now.
It is the illusion of time that makes you talk of causality. When the past and the future are seen in the timeless now, as parts of a common pattern, the idea of cause-effect loses its validity and creative freedom takes its place. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
The mind turns personal experiences into sketches, referring to these later for skill reference or reassurance. But all one ever knows is the present moment. Constant bracing freshness may be hard to face but living in the past can be terribly traumatic.
We cannot change our past. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. ~ American Christian pastor Charles Swindoll
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) arises when a traumatic memory rudely echoes in the mind in a disabling way. Negative memories are often covered over in time. PTSD shows how the mind will not bury an ordeal that still feels unresolved. PTSD is an extreme example of the past barging in on the present, but well illustrates how memories can impose a terrible burden: of fear and loss.
Personality comes into being simply because of memory: identifying the present with the past and projecting it into the future. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Be absorbed in the present moment as a fully attendant witness. After all, now is all there is. All else is memory, whose pursuit is nothing more than chasing shadows.
Memories are films about ghosts. ~ American songwriter and musician Adam Duritz in the song “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” (1999)
Being stuck in the past is a mental illness. ptsd is merely an extreme example. By contrast, mental health is characterized by spontaneity: acting within the moment.
The past is a construct of the mind. It blinds us and fools us into believing. ~ Mathias in the movie Total Recall (2012)
The benefit of memory is having relevant experience that affords skill and allows greater appreciation of what is. This does not require conscious reflection, as subconscious processing is all that is ever needed.
Man has genius only in proportion as he acts without reflection. ~ Georges Sorel
Experiences are effectively incorporated to effect right action via subconscious mentation: acting spontaneously with the subtle assist of intuition.
We need not destroy the past. It is gone. ~ American composer John Milton Cage Jr.
You cannot live in the past. Don’t let it live in you.
Concentrate totally on the now, be concerned only with your response to every movement in life as it happens. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Belief is the central problem in the analysis of mind. The whole intellectual life consists of beliefs, and of the passage from one belief to another by what is called “reasoning.” Beliefs give knowledge and error; they are the vehicles of truth and falsehood. Psychology, theory of knowledge, and metaphysics revolve about belief, and on the view we take of belief, our philosophical outlook largely depends. ~ Bertrand Russell
The world each of us creates is a mental fabrication created through social intercourse. Most beliefs are based upon hearsay.
Belief is a trick of the mind that is not easily discarded, yet that is exactly what enlightenment requires: a disposal of belief and careful reexamination of actuality, away from how it is understood by the Collective.
Don’t try to think your way through anything. Assign the mind to do the work for you, quietly, and come back only when it has the answer sought.
Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away. ~ American science fiction writer Philip K. Dick
There is a strong inclination to accept sensory perception as reality, but what is taken as objective fact is instead a symbolic representation that has been subconsciously categorized and cross-checked to previous experience for consistency. Perception is an act of abstraction with an infusion of assigned meaning. All that we ever experience are nothing more than symbols and concepts to which we give credence.
As perception construes objects, so cognition construes ideas. In both cases, the representation is believed – empowered as it were true – prior to analysis of the representation’s accuracy. ~ American social psychologist Daniel Gilbert
Belief comes easy. In contrast, doubt takes effort.
The way to truth lies through destruction of the false. To destroy the false, you must question your most inveterate beliefs. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
The mind is prone to tidy compartmentalization. Something that does not make sense must be reconciled: either fit within an existing framework, a new schema created, or the datum is discarded as anomalous nonsense. As we age, we increasingly resist new schemas, as they may disrupt the existing worldview which took decades to construct and refine, and which may have become a fortress of certitude; that, and the eagerness of learning has rubbed off.
Create a concept and reality leaves the room. ~ Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset
As mental processing is symbolic manipulation, there is scant difference between experiential perception and imagination. Both are constructs of the mind. Belief is nothing more than a mental fabrication oriented toward a concept, aimed at comfortable reconciliation with what is already considered known.
Indeed, the world is ruled by little else than ideas. ~ English economist John Maynard Keynes
Acceptance of a perception or an idea is gated by a sense of rightness. The mind’s calibration device derives from 3 sources: personal psychology, biological disposition, and inculcated culture.
Part of the process of making sense of life experiences is building a mental edifice which crystallizes character and outlook. The contribution to belief of personal psychology is inextricable from the influences of biology and culture, as the 3 entangle.
Men believe what they want to. ~ Roman playwright Terence
Much of one’s belief system has a biological bent. For instance, the inclination of political belief is principally innate, premised upon a disposed degree of desire for uncertainty avoidance. Liberalism is a somewhat relaxed state of tolerance. In contrast, conservatism is an outgrowth of fear, with a strong preference for the certitude of the status quo and tradition.
Disgust plays a significant role in shaping conservative responses. Whereas liberals often perceive social issues relatively pragmatically, conservatives see them as matters of morality, with especial revulsion toward out-groups.
What we believe is based on perceptions. What we perceive depends on what we look for. What we look for depends on what we think. What we think depends on what we perceive. So what we perceive determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality. ~ American spiritual teacher Gary Zukav
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Reality is socially constructed. ~ Austrian American sociologists Peter Berger & Thomas Luckmann
We are social beings. Most of our beliefs are imbibed from the people we are closest to and the culture in which we grew up. Our gregarious nature involves adopting beliefs as badges of tribal identity. All this is pursuit of ignorance, as it attaches importance to ideas.
To be free in the world you must be free of the world. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Understanding existence as it really is, rather than how it appears, or how we wish it to appear, is contrary to what the biology of the mind inclines, what personal experience one has encountered, and counter-intuitive to the belief systems of the Collective. Hence, the path to enlightenment is a solitary one: an alienation from cognitive habits and cultural norms.
Clear your mind of dogmatic debris. Let in direct perception. ~ Indian yogi Lahiri Mahasaya
To understand your true nature, and so edge toward enlightenment, discard your mental baggage and make a fresh start. Do not accept the valuation your mind places upon anything. Concepts are merely a convenience for navigating through life. They are not real.
Truth only reveals itself when one gives up all preconceived ideas. ~ Japanese Zen Buddhist monk Gido Shoseki
Only by relinquishing your grip on thoughts as having any intrinsic value can you understand that the mind is the obstacle to inner peace.
Feelings or emotions are the universal language and are to be honored. They are the authentic expression of who you are at your deepest place. ~ American author Judith Wright
Judith Wright’s sentiment posits the Collective conclusion about the value of emotions and attachment to self-identification. Such conviction is a surefire formula for averting enlightenment.
From an evolutionary perspective, emotionally charged events provoke remembrance. This is a basic survival instinct, especially remembering hazards.
Memory is good only for remembering the potentials of risks and rewards. Sentiment is for saps.
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Desire relates to objects and feeling to states. Feeling and desiring are changeable conditions of concepts. ~ Johann Friedrich Herbart
The mind seeks stimulation. Emotions are the addictive drug of the mind.
Emotional complexes are built from and sustained by addiction to emotive patterns which a person savors. These complexes are strongest when alloyed.
Mixed emotions provoke fascination, which is especially mentally stimulating. This makes mixed emotions particularly powerful. In contrast, modest emotions engage the mind for such short duration that nattermind demands greater amplitude, or some admixture.
Any emotions may be satisfying in the moment. Though negative emotions extraordinarily invigorate, especially anger and hate, they leave a bitter mental aftertaste. Nonetheless, negative emotions are just addictive as the positive ones among the Collective.
What worries you, masters you. ~ English philosopher John Locke
Besides their addictive nature, emotions – especially negative ones – drive desires. Emotions fog rationality and dull awareness.
When a man is prey to his emotions, he is not his own master. ~ Baruch Spinoza
Emotions are adored by nattermind, as they provide a compelling diversion. Hence, indulging emotions is strongly contraindicated for quietude.
It is desires and fears that make the mind restless. Free from all negative emotions the mind is quiet. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
By entwining the physiological with the psychological, emotions act to glue consciousness to the mind-body. Emotions dissolve dissociation, and so engender acceptance of matterism and naïve realism.
The most striking, and, next to madness, the saddest spectacle in psychology is furnished by the passions. ~ Johann Friedrich Herbart
Desire is the essence of a man. ~ Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza
We live because we crave sensory experience. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
The body needs sustenance and sleep. The mind-body wants comfort. These are basic biological needs.
Desire is the memory of pleasure and fear is the memory of pain. Both make the mind restless. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Wants arise from attachment to particular concepts with which one identifies as being conducive to satisfaction, however fleeting. The stream of wants never runs dry.
You identify yourself with your desires and become their slave. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Desires always involve consumption, which simply means engaging the senses for some duration. Anything that brings pleasure is eagerly consumed, whether it is food, a friend, music, or being in Nature.
Subdue your appetites, my dears, and you’ve conquered human nature. ~ Charles Dickens
Desires are products of the mind and fulfilled in the mind. Any associated intermediate activity is merely instrumental: whatever you do to gain the object of desire. The struggles of dealing with and satisfactions reaped from the physical world are nothing but mental gyrations.
It is of the nature of desire not to be satisfied, and most men live only for the gratification of it. ~ Aristotle
Just as beliefs are social derivations, so too desires. Much of what people want is an emulation.
Ignorant people define themselves and by their experiences and aspirations: affixing their imagined identity to concepts. These desirous symbols may take physical form or may be values that are associated with circumstance. Regardless of form, attachments have no more value than the possessions of pack rats.
Behaviour arises from the level of one’s consciousness. ~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Some Americans prize their guns for the feelings of safety and power that these weapons provide. The right of ownership of guns is associated with “freedom” in the minds of those with ideals of violence. This is but one example of sick self-delusion via naïve belief.
Desire ought to obey reason. ~ Cicero
Attachments focus attention into narrow rivulets that exclude awareness outside the scope of the immediate desire. The vitality of life can drown in an endless river of wants.
Desire shapes destiny. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Expectation is a formula for disappointment. This is the nature of trying to fulfill desires related to the world.
I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy them. ~ English philosopher John Stuart Mill
Suffering comes from identifying with objects of perception. Desire leads to blind action: so focused as to be unmindful of the consequences. Ignorance creates its own suffering.
There is no beauty in sadness. No honor in suffering. No growth in fear. No relief in hate. It’s just a waste of perfectly good happiness. ~ Bulgarian writer Katerina Stoykova Klemer
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Great desire obtains little. ~ Burmese proverb
Spiritual advisors commonly teach giving up worldly desires as a means to enlightenment. This is canonical wisdom, but too much may be made of it.
By all means, use your body to work in the world. But understand what it is. The body is only an instrument to be used: you are not the body. You are the everlasting, timeless, spaceless principle which gives sentience to this body. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Our biological being is built for many activities. Pleasure tops the list. The issue is passion in the pursuit of pleasure, rather than enjoying each moment of life as best as one can.
To try to deny desire is unproductively doctrinaire. Appreciate nuance. Life often involves fishing in a stream of potential satisfactions. Whereas attachment bodes ill, desire is part of life.
Shun not desire; see only that it flows into the right channels. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
The issue is not really desire per se. It is instead attachment: the neediness that arises from letting the mind run the show with its own obsessiveness.
Attachment is bondage. Detachment is freedom. To crave is to slave. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Reject desires which arise from social influence. This is the shallow economic materialism which pervades the Collective.
Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. ~ Epictetus
Practice skepticism about one’s wants – as contrasted to needs – until the motivation is understood. With this comprehension comes realization of stimulation superfluity: the mind’s hunger for excitement. As with all dangerous animals, do not feed the mind.
Ask yourself what you stand to gain by achieving a desire beyond the satisfaction itself. Let practicality guide your desires. Desires which lead to useful knowledge or convenience are typically worth pursuing; those which are mere moments of satisfaction are not.
Avoid impulse aimed at satisfaction. Abjure thrill seeking. Beyond what is necessary for health and comfort, take pleasure in entertainment that shares joy, positively creates, or entrains affirmation of the value of all life.
Be content with what you have, rejoice the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ~ Lao Tzu
Whereas putting emotions in their proper place is easily stated, it is a vexing practice. Like unbidden thoughts, feelings and emotions are to be noted and then discarded in favor of creating a positive outcome for yourself.
As emotions feed upon themselves, quickly flush emotions by focusing back on the flow of the immediate moment. Negative and desirous emotions are valueless and should not reflexively be acted out.
The value to awareness of emotions is to their relevance to what is happening at the present time. An emotion may productively act as a signal: to pay closer attention to that aspect of the action which is emotionally provocative.
Desire is emotionally evocative. Tamping desires should lessen the emotions associated with them. Forego stimulating emotions.
Assign your mind to consider your patterns of emotive stimulation: what presses your buttons. While negativity always arises from frustration (feeling that the world is out of control), sussing the source of emotive streams can be instrumental to removing attitudinal blockages.
Conventional psychologists consider emotional repression a bad thing. These mind gamers mistakenly view emotions as valuable rather than obstructive.
The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions. ~ Tibetan Buddhist leader Dalai Lama
Then there is mood-making: covering over negative emotions with forced positive sentiment. This is a foolish waste of mental energy. Better to view negativity of every sort as a missed opportunity for a constructive approach.
Signaling device aside, emotions are worthless. Like every entry in mental ledger, emotions have only the value they are assigned by identification or condemnation. Without assignation, emotions have no meaning.
Positive emotions take care of themselves. Love, which is rightly nothing more than admiration, is its own reward.
You have the answer. Just get quiet enough to hear it. ~ American leadership coach Pat Obuchowski
Once the conduit to Ĉonsciousness is obscured by nattermind, clearing it to reach quietude can be a daunting challenge; but this is precisely what must be done to attain enlightenment.
No particular thought can be mind’s natural state, only silence. Not the idea of silence but silence itself. When the mind is in its natural state, it reverts to silence spontaneously after every experience or, rather, every experience happens against the background of silence. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
The mind’s proper station is problem-solving. Otherwise, any conscious thoughts reveal that nattermind is running the show, and your soul is adrift in a ceaseless sea of meaningless mentation.
Nattermind must be put in its place. The gentle way to do so is through meditation. The more direct means is minding the mind: actively discarding thoughts and emotions to focus on the immediate environment.
Beware of the thoughts that linger, winding up inside your head. ~ English musician George Harrison in the song “Beware of Darkness” (1970)
Those who really seek the path to enlightenment dictate terms to their mind. Then they proceed with strong determination. ~ Buddha
It is not a simple thing to control the mind. It cannot be done in a day, or even in a year. Through constant effort thoughts can be controlled a little. In this way, the uncontrollable mind can finally be brought under control. ~ Sri Lankan guru Yogaswami
He who conquers the mind conquers the world. ~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Rather than being a tool of the mind, make the mind a tool by using it only for the task at hand. Submerge nattermind in the sea of the subconscious: a pet fish rather than a domineering dragon.
Life is simple. You just have to stop trying to figure it out. ~ American novelist Marty Rubin
Meditation is the soul’s perspective glass. ~ English writer Owen Feltham
Meditation facilitates slipping into transcendence. As it engenders a quiet mind, meditation is essential for attaining enlightenment.
When thoughts cease, the mind naturally turns to what is truly beyond the mind: the infinite Ĉonsciousness. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
There are many meditative techniques, differing in ease and efficaciousness. There is nothing mystical about this ancient and natural practice to transcend, which should be an effortless form of rest.
The primary purpose of meditation is to become conscious of, and familiar with, our inner life. The ultimate purpose is to reach the source of life and consciousness. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had the good fortune to make Transcendental Meditation® (TM) the best-known meditation technique. A resonant mantra – mental vibration – is invoked as a calmative. (The mantras dispensed by TM teachers are derived from a list of Hindu deities and doled out according to the age of the initiate. The mantra self-selection method described in this book is better tailored to the individual.) The mind naturally quiets into transcendence.
TM is expensive. The organization’s business model is to offer superb service, and have you feel that you are investing in something important, which you are. If you want to invest in meditation without seriously lightening your pocketbook, here’s how. (The author is a TM siddha and meditation practitioner for over 4 decades who achieved realization through regular meditation and studying the teachings of Nisargadatta Maharaj (as well as other gurus).)
How to Meditate
Find a comfy chair or prop yourself up in bed with cushions. The room should be quiet, and preferably dimly lit.
Spend a few moments quieting the mind-body by listening to one’s bodily rhythms, such as the breath, or heartbeat, if you can sense it. If possible, breathe through your nostrils, not your mouth.
Begin meditating with the intention of quietude. When thoughts arise, gently smother them by bringing your mantra to the conscious mind, making it the mental focus.
Repeat the mantra as if calmly breathing it. Do not concentrate on the mantra. The aim is to clear the mind, not hold it captive.
When in a comfortable repose, consciousness commingles with Ĉonsciousness. A mantra merely expedites the process by mesmerizing the mind, and so putting it to sleep.
Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. ~ Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thích Nhat Hanh
The rhythm of nasal breathing affects the mind-body more profoundly than is commonly appreciated. Breathing coordinates energetic and physical activity throughout the body, notably in the brain.
Prāņāyāma are breathing techniques practiced as a yogic discipline which originated in ancient India. The term prāņā is Sanskrit for life force or vital energy; yāma is to extend or draw out. Prāṇāyāma is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita (verse 4.29), a cherished Hindu text written in the 2nd century bce.
Prāņāyāma may be used to settle the system before easing into meditation. Here is one technique.
Put a finger on the left nostril and breathe in the right nostril. Block the right nostril and breath out left nostril. Breathe in the left nostril. Again, block the left nostril and breathe out the right, then breath in (the right nostril).
Repeat breathing out-in through alternate nostrils for a minute or 2. Then begin meditating.
Choosing a Mantra
Refuse attention. Let things come and go. Desires and thoughts are also things. Disregard them. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
The purpose of a mantra is to ease toward transcendence. A mantra is a mental breath that gently takes one’s attention away from the mind’s prattle, thereby acting as a vehicle to experience the echo of eternal Ĉonsciousness.
A mantra is of meaningless syllables, relating to nothing. It is solely a vehicle for silencing the mind through vibratory repetition. There should be no associative meaning for you in a chosen mantra.
Choose a mantra with 1 or 2 vowel-based sounds, perhaps with a consonant to assist in resonance.
Here are some vowels (using those peculiar pronunciation symbols you see in dictionaries, and thereby illustrating the inadequacy of the English alphabet as a phonetic representation): ә (as in abut), æ (at), ä (mop), ȯ (law), eɪ (fate), ε (let), ē (ease), ɪ (bit), ow (boat), ɔj (toy), ʊ (look), ü (coo), and ō (go).
Every vowel has its own feel, and may suffice for a mantra unto itself, though vibratory combinations provide a harmonic that simulates breathing.
For example, ē is especially vibrant. ē is a suggested possibility for energetic people as a lead vibration, with a lower frequency follow-on, such as ȯ or ü in the 2nd vowel spot. ēmȯ (ee-ma) is an exemplary mantra: a resonant flow from high to low energy, to guide the mind to empty itself.
Consonants in language exist for distinct audition. For a mantra, a vibration that naturally resonates toward quiet is ideal. m is such a consonant. The classic Hindu mantra is ōm, with good reason. (If you like it, use it.)
As with vowels, consonants have their own vibrational qualities. h is nicely breathy (consider: ah, perhaps leading to the mantra ah-mә).
n is shorter variant of the echoic m. änō (aw-no) is an exemplary mantra.
r is the long, rumbling version of l. lә–eɪ (lay-ah) is there for the taking as a mantra, as is eɪ–lә (ah-lay).
In contrast to r, s offers a breathy rumble. sü-ō (sue-oh) and ä-shō (ah-show) or ȯ-shә (aw-sha) are exemplary mantras using s.
Glottal (e.g., k, g) and popping (e.g., p, b) consonants should be employed only in a muted form which emphasizes flow, not abruptness.
There are innumerable possibilities for mantras. Select a mantra that resonates within you as affording focus, and which eventuates in peaceful resolution, as if the mind were taking a deep, relaxing breath (inhale, exhale).
You may at first try a few different mantras to evaluate their quality. You can’t choose a wrong mantra; if it resonates with you, it’s right for you. Once you find a pleasing mantra, claim it as your own and let it be a centerpiece for your meditation practice.
A mantra is merely a malleable device. My own mantra evolved upon becoming realized, to a subtle whisper.
Meditation is a form of relaxation, not concentration. Have no expectations about your meditations. Some might feel busy; others serene. Regardless of seeming quality, meditation is always helpful.
Meditate 20–30 minutes, time permitting. Even a short session of a few minutes is beneficial. Transcending or falling asleep for a longer period is perfectly natural. Your mind-body takes what it needs for rest when it can. Rest is as critically important to health as vigorous activity.
At the end of meditation, lay down, or slump in your chair. Spend 3 to 5 minutes relaxing with your eyes closed, allowing yourself to ease back to the waking state.
Do not abruptly end meditation. It may give you a dull headache.
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Meditation should be practised every day of one’s life. ~ Anandamayi Maa
Meditate twice a day if possible: preferably at the beginning of the day, and in the early evening (before dinner).
Practice meditation regularly. Meditation leads to eternal bliss. Therefore meditate, meditate. ~ Indian guru Sivananda Saraswatī
[ Do not speak your mantra aloud or use it outside of meditation. It is your vehicle to quiet the mind, and so should remain reserved, unspoken. ]
You may meditate 3 or 4 times a day if you have the time and inclination, and your daily activities are not demanding.
Begin every day with a meditation if you can. If the mind is restless when the body is ready to sleep, prāṇāyāma and a short meditation may sooth the system sufficiently to slumber.
Do not meditate on a full stomach. Meditation slows the system, and so can degrade digestion, as your gut microbes may meditate with you (who knows how the little ones spend their spare time).
Do not exercise shortly after meditating. Let the calm settle in. (Meditating a while after exercise is good.)
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Meditating with others is recommendable, as the field of calm is reinforced among participants. Multiple consciousnesses harmonizing with the unified field of Ĉonsciousness amplifies calmness in the environment.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was a proponent of mass meditation as a means to elevate the spiritual atmosphere of social environments. His plan to do so in impoverished districts of Washington, DC was not approved by officials there. In his frustration, Maharishi called the city “a pool of mud,” which is especially funny considering that Washington DC was built on swampland.
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After extensive practice as a meditator, the mantra may become superfluous. Having acclimated to transcending, the sheer desire to do so may suffice.
Do not just meditate; live in meditation. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
A quiet mind is essential for right perception, which again is required for self-realization. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
The mind’s proper use is for cognitive tasks while the task is being accomplished, in its preparation, or evaluation; and all this can be done subconsciously, with full attention on the present instant. The mind’s prattle deserves no credence. To gain full awareness, keep the conscious mind clear.
Rise above the deceptions and temptations of the mind. ~ Sivananda Saraswatī
If the mind idly brings up a thought, dismiss it by focusing on the immediate environment, including one’s own body, such as the breath or heartbeat.
Whatever you may have to do, watch your mind. Whenever a thought or emotion or desire or fear comes to your mind, just turn away from it. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Practice being fully aware of everything within conscious scope when not attentive to some detail. Diligence will reward you with greater awareness.
A steady, persevering, and concentrated effort alone can lead to realization. ~ Indian guru Samarth Ramdas
Never rush. Pay full attention to the task of the moment.
Quieting the conscious mind does not silence the thinking machine. The mind is constantly working subconsciously and will bring to awareness whatever needs attention.
To expect truth to come from thinking signifies that we mistake the need to think with the urge to know. ~ Hannah Arendt
To understand something which puzzles you, simply desire comprehension, then let the subconscious mind do its work. The desired epiphany will arise in due time.
Assign tasks to your mind, including putting timers on reminders. You’ll find your mind’s internal clock is quite good.
With disciplined practice, you may be pleasantly surprised how well the mind serves you. This is how the mind should operate.
For a seeker for reality there is only meditation: the rigorous refusal to harbor thoughts. To be free from thoughts is itself meditation. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Trying to focus your awareness on what you are feeling and thinking can be a demanding cognitive exercise. ~ Portuguese psychologist Miguel Farias & English psychologist Catherine Wikholm
So-called mindfulness meditation is a supposed awareness technique, recently touted by psychologists, that involves monitoring one’s thoughts and emotions as they arise. The practice is based upon gross misunderstandings about the mind and meditation.
The meditation label is a ruse. Those who claim that mindfulness has ancient roots are only expressing their ignorance. Mindfulness is not meditation. The mind is full enough of itself without watching it run wild.
While being in the present moment is essential to mental health, watching one’s thoughts does not quiet the mind, nor settle the system into transcendence. Instead, mindfulness stressfully indulges the mind. For those with psychological issues, being consumed by an errant mind can be traumatic.
It is the mind that tells you that the mind is there. Don’t be deceived. All the endless arguments about the mind are produced by the mind itself, for its own protection, continuation, and expansion. It is the blank refusal to consider the convolutions and convulsions of the mind that can take you beyond it. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
It is the movement of thought that appears as this world. ~ Vasistha
Perception is a subconscious thought process: interpreting sensations and making them meaningful, by comparing current input with past experiences, categorizing, and conceptualizing. That last bit – conceptualization – is the part that imparts meaning, for it assigns value. Perceptions which curry no favor are instantly discarded. Only perceptions laden with esteemed concepts are brought to attention.
The world does not passively impose itself on our mind; rather, it has to be actively interpreted. ~ English developmental psychologist Bruce Hood
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Perception is a simulation, not reality itself. ~ American psychologist Charles Tart
What we take to be the world is instead a collage of symbolic expressions to which we assign value. Love is a conceptual experience that, at its most rewarding, is dipped in feel-good emotion. We may physically touch an object, but its impression is entirely within the mind. All we ever have are concepts, and concepts are not real.
Reality is not a concept, nor the manifestation of a concept. It has nothing to do with concepts. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
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Ignorance is attachment to concepts.
Ideas and thoughts are bondage; and their coming to an end is liberation. Because you are not fully enlightened, your mind clings to the illusion of object perception, of concepts. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
The trouble began when others started telling you about the world, and you believed them.
Nullius in Verba (take nobody’s word for it). ~ British Royal Society motto (The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge was granted a charter by King Charles II as The Royal Society in 1660. The Royal Society is the eldest scientific society in existence; a seedling in the Scientific Revolution.)
The trouble continues as long as you continue to cherish concepts. Thoughts rightly offer only utility or enjoyment: necessary for navigating life’s travails or for sheer amusement. To appreciate life as a cavalcade of concepts eases their uptake (learning), facilitates their exploitation (skill), and, most tellingly, liberates oneself from the world, which is nothing more than a big ball of notions.
Belief in this world is built up of unreality. ~ Indian guru Sankara
All before you is merely conceptual. Living is an exercise in symbolic manipulation.
The mind likes to believe what it comes up with. This self-validation provides a sense of security which the mind nestles in.
Face value has is valueless. Do not subscribe to the mind’s self-assurance. Do not let a specious axiom be an unseen signpost to error. Adopt the practice of having the mind question the premises upon which conclusions are drawn.
Abandon false ideas. There is no need of true ideas. There aren’t any. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Being lulled by the mind into accepting its facile version of events defines ignorance. To believe nothing is to question everything, and absolutely necessary to be open to every experience as potential revelation.
Whereas actuality is pliable to some degree, wishes are unalloyed fantasies, rigid to the hilt. Frustration is nothing more than slamming into a wall built of wish.
Ignorance arises with embracing ideas as if they were reality: naïve realism. Suffering stems from failures of conceptualization coupled to attachments. The root of the trouble comes in axiomatic form: assuming what is not for what is. Behind every misconception lurks an apriorism.
For instance, belief in the matterism arises with the premise that physicality is reality: mistaking subjective experience for objective uptake. The presumption is reinforced by social consensus, as it is with all ‘conventional wisdom’.
In contrast, accepting energyism is not a belief; more an acceptance that Nature is putting on a show beyond ken, only the outlines of which may be discerned; in which case, the task is to enjoy the show, and make your way with as much grace as you can muster.
All this is the play of concepts. It is all mental entertainment. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Purify yourself by a well-ordered and useful life. Watch over your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. This will clear you vision. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
The intensity of everything is within the mind. Lessen the intensity by paying the mind no mind. Lacking distraction, quietude enlarges the scope of awareness.
Do not engage in activities which feed the mind. The worst indulgence is competition, which directly engages attachment to outcome. Competition is a formula for frustration and stress. Do not compete.
Treat the experience of living as entertainment. Relax and enjoy everything as best you can, including the work you must perform.
Whatever happens between appearance and disappearance of the body is only a bundle of memories; whatever you have accumulated is merely entertainment. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Seek no stimulation for that value alone. Instead, enjoy activities which provide knowledge or insight, calms you, or enlivens joy.
Be as simple as you can be; you will be astonished to see how uncomplicated and happy your life can become. ~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Self-esteem is a strong illusion which can only bring misery. Instead of thinking of yourself as a personality, consider yourself an ecological gyre, without attribute beyond the intention to do good.
Do nothing unnecessary. Do everything necessary. Let the undone necessary slip into the unnecessary if it may make the transition without consequence.
It is a popular fiction that life as adventure is a key to happiness. Instead, people who do pretty much the same things every day find life more meaningful. Savor routine.
Stay focused in the moment. Do not let the mind babble. Dismiss daydreams. Do not reminisce.
Do not entertain ideas. ~ Vasistha
Do not worry or fear. The past is gone, and the future is a mirage.
Abandon all thoughts. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Do not think about anything that does not need thinking about in the moment. When the moment arrives that a task needs to be accomplished, the mental instrument is naturally put to work, properly focused.
Of course, plan appropriately, so that the right resources are available to you. Do this by assigning tasks to the mind.
Spend as much time not thinking as possible.
To remain without thought in the waking state is the greatest worship. ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj