“Practiced diligently, meditation techniques purify the mind because they bring awareness to unholy patterns of thought and feeling. Unhealthy thoughts cannot survive the penetrating light of awareness. Nothing purifies like experience of the Self, which releases a flood of healing, cleansing, spiritual energy into the conscious and unconscious minds.”

Meditation practice is the waking state tool connecting us with the Self, unalloyed Happiness, not the goal. In fact just sitting still, thinking of nothing in particular, waiting for a bus or driving home after work, might cause transcendence – the experience that the body and mind are merely objects, like the passing scene. 
        Contrary to popular opinion, transcendence does not have to be experienced as an earth-shattering “out of body” experience. In fact though no one seems to notice, we are already always beyond our bodies and minds. Meditation practice should strip us of the identification with the body and mind, allowing us to appreciate the natural separation of the Self from its vehicles.
     Aside from the goal, meditation is practiced for psychological and physical benefits: increased energy, heightened senses and reactions, strengthened immunity, improved intelligence, creativity, efficiency, power, pleasure, discrimination, dispassion, sense of purpose, peace of mind, expanded awareness, selflessness, compassion and others.
       Scripture is valuable because the language is impersonal and factual. For example, the following verses from an eighth-century text by Shankaracharya, written in the first person, presents the Self as pure knowledge:

“Negating conditionings with the knowledge “I am not this,” realize your identity as the Self as indicated in scripture. The three bodies are perceived objects and as perishable as bubbles. Realize through pure discrimination, I am not them. Because I am other than the body, I don’t suffer its changes. I am not born nor do I die. I have no sense organs, so I am uninvolved in the world. Because I am other than the mind, I am free from sorrow, attachment, malice and fear. Scripture says I am pure, without thought and desire, and so I am. I have no attributes. I live without breath. I am eternal, formless and ever free. I am the same in all, filling all things with being. I am infinite, non-dual, pure Consciousness.”

Nothing purifies like experience of the Self, which releases a flood of healing, cleansing spiritual energy into the conscious and unconscious minds. Although most glimpses wear off in a matter of hours, occasionally days, they produce powerful spiritual vasanas which can inspire practice and keep the mind focused on the goal.
          Practiced diligently, meditation techniques purify the mind because they bring awareness to unholy patterns of thought and feeling. Unhealthy thoughts cannot survive the penetrating light of awareness. Transcendence does not contradict purification. When the meditator transcends the mind and begins to see from the plane of the Self, the need to “maintain” consciousness dissolves, since the Self is effortless awareness.
         Knowledge of the mind’s patterns and complexes is more accurate from the Self’s point of view than is knowledge derived from a witness created out of one part of the mind. Secondly, transcendence breaks attachment to the mind, making it easier to work with it. Finally, transcendence accompanied by inquiry can produce Self- knowledge, the ultimate purifier.
     In fact the Self-realized meditator understands the futility of trying to clean, fix or comprehend something that ultimately has no reality. To the enlightened, the mind is never a problem, with or without disturbing thoughts.
      What is a healthy, qualified mind? An open mind, one willing to see itself differently. Because of the subtle nature of meditation and the difficulty in objectively evaluating experience, the meditator should seek the help of scripture and the counsel of realized souls. The mind that imagines that it is qualified to interpret its own experience, spiritual or otherwise, solely on the basis of its beliefs and opinions is not ready to assume the impersonal view propounded by the spiritual science, and is therefore unqualified for meditation.
        Although the impersonal view is not Self-realization, it is a necessary stage because it purifies the effects of non-apprehension of the Self, i.e. limited conceptions and the disturbing emotions they produce. Eventually even the idea “I am limitless awareness” dissolves into the permanent knowing experience of oneself as the Self. The mind that expects a grand enlightenment experience to cancel its ignorance, and therefore refuses to examine its beliefs and opinions, is not qualified for enlightenment.
         Meditation is a means of Self-Realisation. Realistically, however. Self- Realisation is at best a distant goal, attainable by a few. Moreover, the authorities insist that Self-Realisation only comes when the mind is relatively free of neuroses.
       Since freedom from suffering is everyone’s goal, meditation is also psychologically valuable because it acts as a bridge between the conscious and unconscious minds, and brings the causes of suffering to light. When the causes are acknowledged, they dissolve and suffering ceases.
           Enlightenment can happen before the samskaras are completely exhausted.

James Swartz

3 Responses

  1. Thanks 🙏🏻
    The most touching sentence for me was
    I live without breath.
    For me that really cuts through the identification with the body … wow.
    Love Parvati

  2. I am very touched by the sentence: “Unhealthy thoughts cannot survive the penetrating light of awareness.” I feel encouraged to continue to focus as often as I remember onto the light and onto the self. With patience and persistence, any kind of unhealthy thoughts will get less and less. I already feel them less but there is more to disappear and more light to come. I understand that this is a never-ending process, there is always the potential for more light. I am grateful to be on that journey.

  3. Well ! ! ! Definitely, I prefer the simplicity of Michael Barnett : “I never meditate . . . I sit in meditation”.
    Whatever, the texte of Adi Shankara is beautiful.

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