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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dhyana or Meditation

Interview about the difference between Dhyana and meditation/concentration on youtube :

English language has found its place as one of the main languages of communication world over. Therefore we need to translate the concepts in Sanskrit texts in to English. Though we use an approximate English word but we should not lose the spirit of the word used in Sanskrit. Many times  but we should not hesitate to use the freedom English language gives us in borrowing the original Sanskrit word into English, like English has borrowed the words like pundit or karma and people freely use it in all fields.
One such word I am going to explain is the most popular word meditation. Meditation is used to strictly speaking for Dhyana of Patanjali’s words Dharana, Dhyana  and Samadhi in the eight fold path of yoga called Astanga yoga.
Thought these three words namely Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are together according to sage Patanjali, in order to say ‘let us meditation’ we say in all the Sanskrit based languages ‘let us do Dhyana or let us practice Dhyana’ . No one says let us do Dharana or let us do Samadhi. Dharana is the beginning and Samadhi is what happens to you and not what you do.  Therefore we can say Dhyana is translated as meditation.
In English language when we say meditate upon an object, it means to go over the details of the object in all its details and then memorize the object in all its intricacies. An example for this is to go through the map of the new place thoroughly before embarking on journey so that we register all possible details for the use of reaching the place without any difficulty. In this case mind is the tool we use for obtaining all the details. The object is important and once we meditate and take the details of the object in to our memory and utilize that in reaching a place then it is no more necessary. It is sufficient to meditate once thoroughly.
We have to do similar kind of exercise every time we come across new object. Every new object is different and every time the details are different. This is like doing an activity and mind is the tool we use. This is different from dhyana. Unfortunately in many minds this confusion is there. Therefore many books on meditation supposed to be text on dhyana have given the description on the meditation on the flame with all the details of the various aspects of the flame such as the blue penumbra the golden flame and the whitish inner flame and deep inside the dark portion etc.  This clearly shows that they have taken the object as important and the details of the object important. Some texts even mentioned the picture of eye and the mechanism involved in it and its connection with brain so that the mechanism is important! But these things are necessary only in case of meditation when we take meditation as doing something with the help of our instrument called mind. This may make a person efficient in the managing of the world such as driving in a new place or reading new subject matter with various complications. When this meditation has to be done and if the surroundings are not very silent and clear then we may have to concentrate or focus to pick up the sounds and matter what we require among several other things which interfere with your interaction. If you are reading a book or listening to a conversation of someone but all around you if there are so many other sounds present and distracting you then you may have to concentrate or avoid such place and choose a solitary place for your concentration.      
Dhyana can help one in developing concentration but let us not confuse between dhyana or dharana and concentration as those terms have special meanings. This aspect of focus in our childhood was much stronger and natural for us than what we find today. In those days we four or five children used to sit around a lamp and read or do our work but we were not getting distracted by the others around us and their work.
But in the case of Dhyana it is not a happening in that way. Dhyana is a not what you do with mind or in Dhyana the object and its details are not important. In other words Dhyana is not what you do with mind but what you do to the mind! Mind is important and the importance of the object is limited only to the point that it will give us support so that we can work with mind using object at its base. Object is like the screen on which we project the movies in the theater or much better simile is  that the object is like the jump board or the diving board of a swimmer, a person with the help of the object dives in to Dhyana and even leaves the object aside sooner or later! Dhyana is really not anything with the object but it is more to do to the mind and it also is not to exercise the mind but to make mind silent. When we say silent mind or empty mind it does not mean that we find some container like thing where the contents are cleaned and we find empty container. There is nothing like empty mind. We only have no-mind state which in Vedanta called as ‘amanāh= no mind state’.
The mind becomes important only for the reason that we should transcend the mind and go beyond which is to become one with consciousness which is known as spirituality. When object becomes important then we get locked up in the object and we do not proceed to spirituality and that becomes religion. In all the so called religions the object becomes important and not the consciousness. People will be prepared to give up lives for establishing the object in the name of religion. All the religious fanatics are based on this fact. When the mind or transcending the mind is important, then the support you use is an object which should be neutral passive and simple so that mind will take the help of the object but does not get caught up!
One of the important features of mind’s existence is we are in the process of doing. Even thinking in this regard is doing. We are trying to transcend the process of thinking which means ‘not doing’ but undoing. This way looking at Dhyana doing Dhyana is also wrong we should technically say undoing is Dhyana or unwinding. In this sense also meditating is the process of doing where as Dhyana is the process of undoing.
In Dhyana, these following steps are involved according to Sage Patanjali.  Sit in a comfortable posture so that you can stay for at least for some time without any suffering.  Fix the eyes half open on an object which is pleasant and in fixing your eyes you don’t have to put any effort. Through eyes you are actually fixing the mind on the object. This procedure is known as Dharana.
After fixing the eye or mind through the eyes, you can notice in few minutes your eyes start watering or you feel irritating. This is due to fact that you mind is saying how long should I be seeing and similar dialogues. By withdrawing the effort called ‘I am seeing’ or by withdrawing the ego slowly the eyes watering or being agitated will come down. Withdrawing this effort is called Dhyana. A conscious method of withdrawing the effort involved will give so much inner calmness that one can easily slip into Samadhi the third step which is characterized by a state of absorption and there is no ‘I’ sense.  When there is no I at all where is the question of effort being there. Hence dhyana is something which should be leading one towards this effortlessness. If one says that he has done meditation for half hour and now let him relax, then he has not done meditation. Only, when we are free from the object on which we are meditating, and only, when we can divert our attention towards the self which is also putting effort out of ignorance we can consciously lessen the effort behind our seeing. Ultimately the result is that we are seeing yet seeing is only happening and you are not seeing, you may be walking but you are not walking as the one who is walking is not there, and then walking alone is happening. This is the reality of creation. Creation is only activity. There is no doer, but today we are so much doer therefore we are suffering with the tension born out of doer though the world is going on…. Once that doer is dissolved then what we see is only activity.



Anirudha said...

It is true that many things are lost during translation. It is more so with words from Sanskrit. Sri Raghuramji has done a wonderful job of explaining the true meaning of "Dhyana". Simple words and common examples make it so easy for us to understand. There are still many words in Sanskrit that need better explanations - like Dharma, Daiva, Pooja etc. I am eager to know from Sri Raghuramji.

Ramakrishna said...

Narayanaswami from Los Angeles:

Excellent explanation of words like 'dhyana', 'meditation' etc. Simple & easy to follow. You are indeed a Master in your ability to communicate in simple words with easy-to-understand examples!

Dr.Bharath H.S. said...

Enlightening post.