Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chapter 2, Verse 43

"Driven by desire
For pleasure and power,
They get caught
In the ritual."

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi:

"This verse speaks of the tendency to resort to rituals for the sake of greater worldly joys and power. The result of being engrossed in worldly desires is that one remains in Samsara [cycle of suffering, wheel of birth and death, worldly life, outward-flowing mind, etc.] for the joys of the senses can never ultimately satisfy, keeping us in bondage. With no chance of lasting contentment, births and deaths cycle on."

[There are rituals and there are rituals. Motivation is key.]

Robert Thurman (from his book, "Infinite Mind"):

“Before you begin medi­tating, it is helpful to open your mind up to your own vast potential. If you enter the practice leaving your habitual self-image and reality constructs intact and unopened, you are programming yourself to emerge the same as when you begin. ‘Show me your beginning and I’ll show you your end!’ is a wise adage. In order to open yourself for new experiences and understandings, imagine yourself in a space where you feel most able to realize your true nature. The preparatory ritual which follows comes from an ancient tradition known for optimizing your opportunity for success. It is open to modification according to your personal taste and experience, of course.

First, use your inquiring mind to inventory your reality con­struct, your sense of your situation in the universe, questioning whatever you take for granted and taking special note of the uncertainties prevail­ing around you. What do you know, really? Where are you, really, on a planet spinning a thousand miles per hour, held by gravity above oceans of fire, water, and earth, within an ocean of air, cir­cling a sun ninety-three million miles away, itself orbiting at an even greater speed on the galactic arm? What are you really, how many billions and trillions of subatomic energies or atoms, many countless neurons? What about your subconscious? Is it a personal store of in­choate memories, or a bundle of instinctual drives imprinted on physical molecules? Continue posing questions to yourself in this manner, melting away your habitual sense of certainty about your nature, structure, location, and presence within an assumed world-picture. Dissolve into ‘unfindability’ and feel yourself rest in the unknown openness.

Now picture the following, or something analogous that you prefer: You arise in a luminous, buoyant body on a grassy bluff at high altitude overlooking a vast, crystalline, glacial lake. The sun glints for miles and miles off the aquamarine waters. Majestic Himalayan mountain peaks rise up on all sides. Fluffy clouds float in the sunny, deep blue sky. Behind you to the north, the majestic snow-covered dome of Mount Kailash radiates magnificently like a prism, refracting the white sunlight into rainbows of blessing. In front of you, in the lake, is a small island on which minor deities and guardian spirits roam. Dragons sun themselves along the shore. In the center of this island grows a giant tree, reaching al­most up into the heavens like the beanstalk Jack climbs in the story. Jewel-bedecked flowers and fruits cover its massive branches…a huge Christmas tree with glittering ornaments.

At the crown of the tree rests a giant lotus flower, on which stands a throne made of many precious gems, on which sits the person whom you revere as the most enlightened, most all-knowing, most loving and compassionate person in the universe, the per­son whom you would choose above all others to be your spiritual, intellec­tual, and moral mentor. Visualize this person to be large in size, brilliantly radiant, with a body made of light like Obi-Wan Kenobi’s after he has passed away. Around him/her in the tree sit a host of other mentors and benevolent beings. She/he is looking down upon you with a daz­zling smile, and a tube of golden light descends from his/her heart to reach the crown of your head. Blessings in the form of liquid rainbow lights cascade down the golden tube, drenching your body and mind. These blessings bring your body and mind inexpressible bliss and happiness, driving out the shadows of your confusions, anxieties, doubts, fears, and worries, and bringing you instead confident energy, clarity, joy­ous enthusiasm for understanding and good feeling.

As you slowly fill up with light and energy, you ready yourself for your meditation practice as a beneficent being with no limit to your potential. You have rid yourself of any preconceived notions about your own inadequacies. Now you notice that around you on the grassy bluff, a vast crowd of ordinary sensitive beings has gathered. People and animals whom you know personally: those you love, those you can’t stand, those you feel neutrally toward…all looking towards you expectantly in the front row. They do not see the island or the tree. All they are aware of is the way you are filling with light. The blessings begin to overflow from you to them, so that your light washes away their negative thoughts and feelings. Naturally your loved ones are delighted and your neutral acquaintances are pleased and intrigued. Even those whom you heretofore could not stand are fascinated and blessed by the light that reflects from you.

Now turn your attention toward the mentor beings that have gathered on your behalf. Celebrate their presence by sending them waves of grati­tude for their blessings. If you like, visualize yourself making fantastic of­ferings to them: commissioning symphonies, creating beautiful works of art and literature, sending clouds of exquisite scents, delicious foods, soft and precious cloths and jewels...the sky's the limit. Apologize for your past negative attitudes and deeds, resolve never to en­gage in them again, and ask your mentors’ gracious assistance in helping you maintain your new resolve. Now be sure to rejoice in all the good deeds you and other beings have done. Re­quest that the mentor beings turn the wheel of teaching, sending down the rain of Dharma truth and liberating insight. Ask them not to leave you lost in the world of suffering, but to stay with you and all sensitive beings until you are awakened and secure in reliable happiness. Finally, resolve to earnestly pursue the quest for full enlightenment, wisdom, and compassion for the sake of yourself and all other beings.

You are now ready to turn your attention to the meditation practice it­self, forgetting about this entire picture, just sensing it’s there.”

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