H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Science of Meditation (part 2). By Matsyavatara dasa (Marco Ferrini)

Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita, one of the most well-known and loved scripts shared among different Schools of Thought in the Indian Continent, says that Knowledge means to distinguish the field (body) from the knower of the field (Self). To detach oneself from the body does not mean to refuse or despise it, in this wise there would not be real detachment since, as Heraclitus said, what attracts will disgust and vice versa.
In order to overcome the opposites of attraction and disgust, in Sanskrit called raga and dvesha, it is necessary to balance the opposites, to find the conjunction and to harmonize them. In this research of balance and harmonization, yoga, points out the importance of mediation. The term yoga derives from the Sanskrit root yuj, literally meaning “to unify, to connect”. As a matter of fact, yoga is the science for the Reintegration of the individual self with the Supreme Self, of infinitesimal consciousness with the Cosmic Consciousness. In the Bhagavad-Gita are described different types of yoga and Patanjali, in his famous treatise on Yogasutra that is one of the first and most relevant Schools of Mankind Psychology, describes eight phases to develop the Yogic Discipline (ashtanga yoga) where meditation is placed just as penultimate phase. Before entering a meditative state, the aspirant yogi has to purify his mind and heart by abstaining from activities that are against the spiritual evolution, yama, and engaging himself in favorable ones , niyama. Then, one has to become an expert in postures, asana, that enable to perceive the body as little as possible and afterward to learn the art of breathing, pranayama. By turning inside himself and detaching sense-organs from objects, pratyahara, trying to concentrate on his attentional resources towards an unique direction, dharana, the yogi predisposes himself to the very meditation, dyhana, where the flow of attention is not anymore called away by exterior interferences and thanks to which he will reach a stage of complete interior absorption, defined samadhi. The Pre-samadhi stages are necessary to resolve conflicts between the different psychic structures and functions, through the harmonization of personality and before aspiring to the complete absorption of the meditative seed, bija, all the more so the Self. The approach to meditation must be gradual, since first it is necessary to develop a certain knowledge arising from awareness of small realnesses, without the presumption from time to time to have conquered Reality and Truth thinking to be definitely illuminated. What happens by meditating is a continuous and progressive realization of Reality, that reveals itself slowly until it is clear, evident, bright and natural, so natural that it would be impossible to conceive it differently.
For example, the awareness of being different than the body can arise suddenly, as in the case of diagnosis of terminal illness, of irreversible and degenerative pathology, boosting the patient not to concentrate just on the physical structure that is subject to such a devastation, but on himself. From this perspective, as explained through different MCE works for several Italian Hospitals and Health Care Institutions, death must not be seen as a physical event, something concrete, but more as an abstract concept, since there is not concrete end of something, but the transformation in something else. On the other hand, the aim of disidentification may be progressively reached through an introspective process that enables to understand that the body is our external means, we must not identify ourselves in it, but consider it precious, useful and dear to us serving to future experiences and acquaintances. The human body and personality do not represent exhaustly the entirety of the person, but are simple aspects. The eminent divine part of us considers these aspects, as in general the human dimension, like reduction and constraint, a sort of prison.
Nevertheless, in Plato’s Metaphor the soul cage must not be considered obsessively as an oppression, since it is evolved material structure equal to the elevation degree of the consciousness housed in it. Therefore, everyone inhabits a certain body and consequently takes with it determined pathologies or a healthy state.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Science of Meditation (part 1). By Matsyavatara dasa (Marco Ferrini)

20th December 2008,
Naples, Castello Angioino

First of all, I’d like to draw the attention on some cosmogonical aspects, in order to facilitate the comprehension of Men context. The Modern Man does not know anymore where he comes from, where he is going, above all he does not know who he is, being fully identified with an external and transitory identity. His decontextualization is one of the most serious problems afflicting today’s society and cannot be simply solved through erudition. The search of oneself is the substrate of meditation and it is confirmed by the great Indovedic tradition works as Samhita, Upanishad, Itihasa and Purana, that can lead a very interesting dialogue with modern Western Tradition. Among numerous authors and Thought Masters which have drawn resources, cues and concepts from the very extensive Vedic culture for their doctrines and theories, we should mention Carl Gustav Jung and his “individuation process”. To individuate oneself means to get acquainted with one’s deepest nature, instead of restricting oneself just on the superficial and fallacious level of sensory perception. The signs and information reaching our consciousness from the external environment, through our sense organs and next elaboration at cortical level, are just a fraction of reality, even less than 10% as indicated by Prof. Genovesi during his speech. Knowledge of reality through the senses is a null result, as well as our capability to understand, since it is conditioned and subject to sensory perception. Hence, not only senses (indriya) are misleading, but also the perceptive information fields related to the mind (manas), being based on sensory perception.
The tendency (vasana) of the mind to depend on sensory information brings to a preconceived, rigid and generally structure perception of the world, that when not integrated and enriched is useless to define the individual identity.
The issue about the nature of personal identity is crucial for meditation. Indovedic psychology identifies human being in its entirety: as well as the universe involves three interacting worlds, being constituted from earth, in-between dimensions and heaven, the incarnated human being has a triple nature: physical, psychic and spiritual. The solid, earthy and physical constitution is the material body that includes a complex structure – the most complex structure known today – called nervous system, but also an apparatus that is more subtle, although of material nature, not definable neither graphically nor spatially, not even temporally: the psychic structure. In the end, there is the inmost nature of man, the first cause of life, his essence and real identity: the spiritual one. According to Vedic wisdom every human being is ontologically “atman”, a spiritual and eternal sparkle. To simplify even further, we can say that man’s identity is split into two different aspects: one is related to the psycho-physical conditions that the individual historically experienced during his different life’s cycles, that is called historical self or false ego, the sum of the psychic contents, defined in sanskrit as “ahamkara”. The other one is real, eternal and immutable, beyond time and space and is the spiritual nature. The basic faculty to reach the meditative dimension is attentiveness, that is not controlled by the nervous system, contrary to what is stated by the extreme positivism embraced by the modern western psychology, but in the first instance is promoted by “atman”, the unifying center that holds and gives an unique and unrepeatable characterization to the personality. The spiritual self makes use just of the physiological and biological part of the so called “human being” and feeds and moves his energies. All the Indian classic tradition schools (sampradaya), all the great Masters lines of disciplic succession, who practiced the Vedic teachings in their daily life, recognize that atman is the fundamental principle.