By J.S. Neki
Dec 09, 2010
“Meditation is the route to enlightenment.” In this statement there are two words that require elaboration. Enlightenment is not stuff received from outside. It is our awareness of our inner essential self that is normally ignored. When this ignorance is got rid of, the reality of the real self astounds us and makes us wonderstruck. That is enlightenment.
One tends to ask here, when this self is all the time within us, how come we keep ignoring it? The reason is that we get accustomed to looking outward almost exclusively. The material world we live in, we have to explore it for our sustenance; also to guard against dangers that lurk around. For that our senses need to exercise vigilance.
The outside world, even when not perceived by our senses, intrudes into our mind in the form of images, thoughts, feelings and intentions. Our sense organs may be quiet, yet our mind keeps loitering in the outside world. Thus, a habit of preoccupation with the outside world is established so firmly that it can even erupt in our dreams. Hence, our mind gets more or less severed from the inner real self. A part of our mind that keeps contact with the outer environment becomes concretised as the pronoun “I”, also known as the “ego”. It is a fake self that keeps us related with the outside world. This is how our awareness of our real self becomes obliterated and this imposter, ego, is taken to be our real self.
In our modern life another factor cropped up that furthered this alienation. That is science whose stupendous success has astounded man and which, until recently, had sworn by “objectivity”, considering only the material world as worth investigating. Any subjectivity was taboo for it. It has produced an astonishing variety of manufactured products, including most threatening weapons of war. Although science has now found out its limitations and wants to explore consciousness, the imprint of materialism that it has left on the mind of man over the last couple of centuries has bewildered him so much that it has almost become his religion. Thus, man has been losing his moorings with spirituality.
The question that now arises is: what is the remedy? The pity is, most people are content to live with their sham self and would not bother even if someone offered to acquaint them with the real self.
Only rare ones seek the remedy and turn to meditation. Meditation is a systematic practice of controlling the senses and the wandering of the mind by fixing attention inwards, whether on a mantra, one’s own breathing or any part of one’s body. Such practice over a period of time begins to produce a sense of serenity. Regular practice with commitment, perseverance, patience and hopefulness is required for ultimate success. There is no shortcut, nor is there a fast forward button in meditation. Perseverant meditation breaks all the bonds that bind man and sets him free. Guru Nanak avers:
Poised meditation breaks all bonds.
Meditation brings self-realisation. A tale from Chandogya Upanishad is relevant here. Sage Aruni conveyed to his son Svetketu what this realisation is. He asked his son to drop a pinch of salt in a bowl of water. Then he asked him to take the salt out. Svetketu said, he couldn’t. Aruni smiled and said, “Taste this water”. Svetketu complied. Aruni then said, “Though the salt is now invisible and intangible, yet it has permeated the water with its essence. So too, you do not perceive the reality that is within you as a subtle essence. That essence is the atman and you are that”.
The form in which this subtle essence, namely, consciousness, permeates the body, is called atman, and as it permeates the universe, we call it paramatman. Guru Nanak vouches the identicalness of the two:
The soul and the super-soul are but one.
— J.S. Neki, a psychiatrist of international repute, was director of PGIMER, Chandigarh. He also received the Sahitya Akademi Award for his contribution to Punjabi verse. Currently he is Professor of Eminence in Religious Studies at Punjabi University, Patiala
Source: Asian Age