Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cleaning of the Mind in the Light of Sahaj Marg

Cleaning of the Mind in the Light of Sahaj Marg

Author: Kamala Ayengar
(Published in The New Times, a Seattle monthly, September 1994, Page 23)

Sahaj Marg (The Natural Path) is a simple, scientific system of meditation. It is modified Raja yoga. "Yoga" means "union with the Ultimate". "Raja" means "king," and the kingly thing in human beings is the mind. Therefore, the mind can be used as a tool to achieve this union once it is properly molded. My master, Shri P. Rajagopalachari of Madras, India, has revealed several truths about life, love, death, etc. In this article, I would like to try and outline some of his teachings so that it may help others to incorporate these teachings in their lives and enable them to change themselves and realize the true nature of the inner being.

According to my master, thought originates from the cosmic region. It is really difficult to pinpoint where exactly the mind resides in the body, even though the organ is closely associated with our understanding of the mind is the brain. Anyway, mind is the in-between process of information inside-out and outside-in. The mind functions at several different levels: the conscious mind, the subconscious mind, the unconscious mind, and the finest/subtlest conscious entity which may be termed the soul. It is this soul which is the root cause of our existence.

According to the philosophy of Sahaj Marg, one of the essential features of the soul at the beginning of creation was its purity and nearness to God. Therefore, it can be said that the characteristic of the soul is to be free and remain unwrapped. However, over eons of time, we have accumulated layers and coverings around the soul in various forms such as the psyche, consciousness, intellect and the ego. Later on, these coverings started becoming cruder and grosser. Spiritual evolution is nothing but a process of "unbecoming" what we are and "becoming" that which we ought to become, i.e., bring about a purity within our existence and achieve inner perfection.

One of the many characteristics of today's existence for most of us is that we identify ourselves mainly with the body and senses. We have either forgotten or do not want to think about the purpose of our existence and are too entangled with "I" and "my". We have become attached to everything around us that is non-essential and does not contribute to our inner growth.

How can we go beyond the dualities of existence and the so-called problems and difficulties of everyday existence? If we can somehow remind ourselves that the soul is beyond the normal senses of perception, it was pure at the time of creation and is thus an integral part of God, we would recognize that attaining the original purity within our self would lead to the realization of the god within. This would lead us to the understanding that essentially there can be no difference between "me" and "the divinity within me".

Therefore, we should adopt simple, easy means to look for the divinity which resides inside ourselves instead of wasting our time by looking for God on mountaintops and searching for him in temples and churches. All that we need to do is to turn our search inside and seek the help of a spiritual guide who, having traversed the spiritual path, can help us find the "self" within each one of us.

How do we find such a person-one who can lead us to God, towards spiritual evolution and realization? It has been said that a sincere cry from a craving heart can bring the master knocking at the aspirant's door. I can tell you from my personal experience that my master, Shri P. Rajagopalachari, is one such person. He once said, "The only difference between 'God within me' and 'me (us)', is the difference between the 'Self' and 'self'-the former is subtle while the latter is gross. Remove the grossness and the whole mystery is solved."

How do we remove this grossness? By using the cleaning technique of Sahaj Marg. The first step is to understand how grossness is being created so that it may be easily removed and then one must try and see that new impressions are not created because the deeper the impressions, the harder it is to remove them.

I was once at my dentist's office and during a conversation with his wife we spoke about the plastic that they were using to handle the instruments. I was concerned about it and asked her if they changed the covers with each new patient. "Yes," she said, "it is the law." She added, "Can you imagine how much garbage we accumulating? It will take five hundred years or more for the total degradation of today's disposal." That is a very long time to wait! Later, I was thinking about my master's statement that all the impressions and samskaras of which we have accumulated around the soul from all our past lives and this life may take many lives to get rid of.

It may be possible for a person who lives a very long life and is in very good physical condition and makes a continuous effort by putting one hundred percent attention on living a saintly life with truthful practice and honest cleaning, to reach the condition where the total uncovering of the soul has taken place. But, as my master says, "We don't have much time, We don't know how long we are going to live; perhaps we may not get up the next day." Therefore, it is logical and better to somehow know one's "Self" in this life so that one can live his/her life purposefully. This reinforces the need for seeking guidance and help of a spiritual teacher.

Coming back to the topic of impressions and how they are created, my master said, "It is our mind blended with our ego which is the main cause generating these layers around the soul." Therefore, spirituality says that every thought or action performed with the feeling of I-consciousness leaves a trail of subtle impressions in the heart. These impressions become the seed for further thoughts and actions, which again lead to the formation of further impressions. Repeated impressions of the same kind thus solidify into tendencies. These solidified tendencies are called samskaras. Therefore, our real aim should be to exhaust the old samskaras and see that we do not make any more new ones.

It can be said that in one way or another, whatever we are today is due to our past samskaras, and one has to go through the bhoga of these samskaras. When we have bluster with pus we have to undergo the throbbing pain, therefore, we can say that we are undergoing the bhoga of the pus. In the same way in our life, we undergo pain, suffering, pleasure, joy, and happiness due to a combination of our mental predispositions and the situations we are putting ourselves into or are creating for ourselves. This real life training can simply be seen as going through bhoga. This way we learn what to do and what not to do.

Coming again to the mind, the thought is the main instrument. By thinking we become what we are, so Raja Yoga is yoga of the mind, and the mind is the kingly thing in us. To keep the mind pure and balanced is one of the purposes and practices of Raja Yoga.

My master says that the first step in yoga is to purify the mind and remove those impressions of the past. That is the work of the master. The second step in yoga is what we have to do ourselves: meditation. The right type of meditation helps us in the unraveling of the impressions and allows us to make a conscious effort so that we do not form new ones.

Impressions may become the cause of suffering in the future, so the cleaning technique in Sahaj Marg is a very important one. By his help, the master cleans our past impressions. Meanwhile the aspirant has to put in his/her own effort by daily meditation, strongly reminding themselves that whatever they are doing, it is not he/she is who is doing but God within.

By thinking in such a manner, one can remain unattached from all types of action and thought. Thus in the Sahaj Marg system of spiritual training, by continuous practice and with the master's help, one can attain the balanced state of mind and maintain a pure heart and mind.

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