On Meditation and Discipline
Pavitra (from the Sanskrit word for ‘pure’, a.k.a. Philippe Barbier Saint-Hilaire) was one of the very early disciples of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother and he spent his last forty-four years in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. In this little booklet named “On Meditation and Discipline“, Pavitra has distilled the vast field of yogic practice and discipline into a compact digest that is accessible to everyone and it is free of any rigid dogma in the same way that Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga was without any dogma. This brief, well written “start here” guide is a perfect fit for those seeking a greater meaning in their life and are leaving no stone unturned in their seeking. In clear, simple terms Pavitra lays out three methods for gaining control of our ever-active minds during meditation. He then lays out three elemental movements of a discipline which are necessary to transform spiritual experience into spiritual realization using Sri Aurobindo’s own succinct words. Thirdly, he describes the three realizations which are the very “goals” of the meditation and discipline. The icing on this little gem is a short poem by Sri Aurobindo, The Miracle of Birth.
Print Length: 13 pages
Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Contributor: Blindshiva, Krishna
- On Meditation
- On Discipline
- The Miracle of Birth
On Meditation and Discipline
Select a quiet and secluded place where you will feel secure and undisturbed for at least three quarters of an hour to one hour.
Sit in a chair or an arm chair with the back resting or, if you prefer, cross-legged on a cushion or a carpet. A straight body is preferable but without strain. In fact posture is of little importance. What is important is to feel at ease so that the body can be rapidly forgotten. Recumbent position is not advisable, except in case of illness or incapacity, as it induces sleep.
Always begin the meditation by an inner call or a prayer, an aspiration towards the Divine.
a) A first method consists in watching the thoughts as they swarm about in the mind. Your mind is like a public place across which thoughts move in and out. A few attract your attention and remain a longer time. Observe their play without identifying yourself with any of them. You will become aware that your consciousness – that is your mental self – stands apart like a “Silent Witness” separate from the movements of the mental nature in you. On one side this “Witness Consciousness”, on the other the mental nature in you.
Because you refuse to identify yourself with the thoughts, their motion and insistence gradually weaken. The waves of the mental nature subside and after a time you enter into a state called “quietude” or “quiet mind”. Thoughts still occur but they are subdued and do not disturb inner perceptions.
b) Another method of mental control consists in creating a void in your mind. It is quicker and more radical than the first but also more difficult. You have to banish altogether all thoughts from the mind. As soon as one comes in, push it out or discard it right away, before it has time to settle down. Not only should all reasonings be excluded in this way but all memories and associations too. Your mind enters gradually into the peace of “quietude”.
You should know that such an attempt to forcefully control the mind results at times in an apparent increase or the mental chaotic condition. Don’t be disturbed but persevere.
It is possible to bring the mind to a state of complete “silence”. But it is very arduous task and after all it is not indispensable, at least in Sri Aurobindo’s “integral Yoga”, which does not aim at leaving the body in trance, but at reaching the same experiences in a perfectly conscious and wakeful state.
c) Mental control can also be brought about by concentration, that is the fixing of the mind on a single object so strongly that the mind unites, so to say, with the object. From this identification knowledge about the object arises in the mind. The best object of concentration, the most worthy of knowledge, is surely the Divine, the Supreme. It matters little whether it is the Impersonal or the Personal God or, subjectively, the One Self. An Idea that will help you is “God in all, all in God and all as God”. When the mind wanders away. you have to bring it back to its object quietly but persistently. Here also you dissociate yourself in a way from your mind.
You may also use a word, a significant sentence, a prayer, the silent repetition of which will quieten the most mechanical part of your mind. Such a repetition (the name of the Beloved) is frequently resorted to by those who feel a devotion for the Divine.