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Meditation Without the Right Attitude Doesn’t Work
Sally: Dearest Ram, lots of practical advice to consider from your reply! I must admit that I was surprised you should suggest that I stop meditating if necessary. I really do want to continue with the meditation, which brings me to the main purpose of this message… I wanted to let you know that things have hanged again, temporarily at least – since I last wrote to you.
Ram: Well, meditation as a program, a discipline, doesn’t really work if the karma yoga attitude isn’t in place in your daily life. What is causing the stress are several apparently conflicting desire-prompted karmas. All karmas are motivated by desire of some sort but the desire disappears with the action when you have the karma yoga spirit. If you don’t, it remains as anxiety for the results. This talk about progress is concern for the results. The ego wants to see the results it envisions and will not support activities that don’t give it what it wants. If you look into it you will see that behind this concern for the results is the desire to be happy. It does not feel satisfied in the present and expects the imagined result to satisfy it. It does no good to worry about the results, because the results aren’t up to you. If you don’t do your job, homeopathy, play, etc. with this attitude you will be fighting an agitated mind all life long. I didn’t say to stop the meditation, just to do it when you found conducive circumstances: a sattvic mind, the inclination, peaceful surroundings, etc. I said this because sometimes the vasanas are exploding out like crazy and there is nothing you can do about it except suffer. But since they are dynamic, suffering, like everything else, is temporary. The best you can do with it is to see it as a marquee for a problem – too much desire.
The idea underlying the suggestion is that you need to take care of the basic, practical stuff first, get your life grounded and as stress-free as possible before you pursue meditation seriously – or life is going to be a roller coaster ride.
But my view is changing at bit after reading this letter because it seems meditation is happening spontaneously and it is deep and good, so it probably doesn’t matter what you do. The jury is still out on this, but if it keeps up like this the meditation may get so powerful that you get direct instructions from the self that automatically simplify your life.
But the advice is sensible no matter which way the meditation unfolds – even if you lose all your spirituality and turn into an idiot – which seems unlikely. My view, based on what you’ve said so far, is that you are just doing too much and that too in the wrong spirit. So if you can do all your doings, not just the homeopathy, as karma yoga things will simplify and you will be one happy camper.
Sally: In fact I think writing all of my concerns down in the first instance enabled a shift to take place.
Ram: Yes, as I mentioned before, writing is very useful in objectifying the situation. In that last letter your mood changed from the beginning of the letter to the end.
Sally: When I was meditating yesterday and not getting anywhere I decided to ask the question: What can I do to change this? And the answer came up that if I could actually see the homoeopathy as karma yoga and carry it out with devotion, that would help me to not get so tired and stressed about it. Mentioning it to you (when it first popped into my head) was one thing, but actually perceiving it more fully as karma yoga had to come in at a deeper level. In a sense, I’ve been seeing the homoeopathy as competition to the higher path of self-inquiry, whereas if I stop seeing it as something that Sally is doing, then I reduce a lot of what is bothering me.
Ram: Karma yoga is meant to correct rajas. Rajas is an evaluating, competetive state of mind. In a sense rajasic people are both opportunistic and insecure. They have so many desires and want to get the fruits of all of them that they are continually evaluating their situation to see how things are going, to see it they would be get more/better/different results if they switched to something else. This evaluation and competitive intellect is painful. Sometimes it gets so bad that a person cannot commit his or herself to a simple appointment a few hours down the road, because he or she does not want to miss out if something better comes up in between.
If you’re going for freedom self-inquiry is the only way, but this does not mean that you don’t have karmas to take care of – unless you are a sanyassi. So whatever the karmas, they need to be done as karma yoga. Because you’re not really aiming to be a homeopath or whatever, you’re aiming for a quiet mind. If you have a quiet mind you will be a great homeopath, but if you keep the rajasic state of mind, your homeopathy, or anything else for that matter, will not be satisfying. I would think that you could only be successful in homeopathy with a sattvic mind, since it is such a subtle endeavor. So the first priority is a quiet mind. To get a quiet mind you have to do your doings as karma yoga. Or you have to get rid of the “I am the doer” concept. Getting rid of that idea is the most direct way to a quiet mind. You can do it based either on experience of your limitless nature – in which case you will see that not only did nothing ever happen, nothing is happening now – or you can inquire into the I and see that there is no I there to be a doer. If things are happening, they are just happening. The self illumines inert subtle bodies and they dance. No agent is involved.
Sally: In fact it’s already made a difference – it feels more like a part of me than being something I “do” and I suddenly started feeling much more in control of/relaxed about the whole study situation. It doesn’t feel so energy-draining when I think about it. So we’ll see how that goes, whether it will stand the ongoing practical test or whether the “idea” just created a temporary amelioration.
Ram: Sure, the old view will slot in sooner or later, so you will have to get back into the karma yoga attitude. It takes a bit of effort. How you think makes all the difference. You are creating the stress by not thinking clearly. When you start to feel stressed, get back into the karma yoga spirit (realize that the results are not up to you and gladly accept whatever is in front of you) and watch the stress dissipate.
Give it a try and see if it doesn’t work. I’m sure you will master it. Wisdom always works.
~ Love, Ram