There are several spiritual practices, doing Yogasan/yogic postures, to doing mantra-jaap/reciting mantras, doing karma-kaand/rituals, to doing Dhyan etc. Every type of practice has its own importance, and throughout all our several lives we adopt one practice after the other, till we reach our objective. Now in the tangible sense all these spiritual practices do only one thing, silence the mind. The purpose of our spiritual life is to be able to consciously control the movement of pran/vital energy in the nadi/energy channel system of the body. This control is linked to the act of breathing. And the act of breathing is linked to the emotional state. And the emotional state depends on the the lens of perception, the mind.
Once you intend that you want to to Experience, there is no going back. This simple Intention releases tiny energies which coalesce to become bigger, you will sense your body getting lighter, brighter, the blockages getting loose, the attachments of the outer world getting fainter, your chakras moving ever faster, your kundalini energy getting active and blasting you out of this construct called Maya/Universe.
The mind is like a whirlwind, happy, sad, now flowing like a river, then flying off to the sky. Every sense organ, taste, smell, sight, touch and sound gives this mind even more objects to run behind. If you think, it is something like a monkey, restless. Observe a monkey in the park and you have your mind, it is so full of purpose but without a focus, sometimes this, sometimes that! Now the trick is to give this mind a focus, something it concentrates on and then force it to concentrate. Something like putting blinkers on a horse so that it can be put to work and productive. Your mind is the ocean of all the astral energies of all your existence, your past/present/future/parallel lives all at once. It also contains the memory of your Higher self, but unless it becomes still, you cannot access. It throws its waves and foam at you, distracting you.
Now what should you concentrate on? Very frankly there is only one thing in the universe, You! You are everything. You are unique, the one, You Are. So concentrate on yourself. But then you are not the flesh-body that you see staring back at you in the mirror. You are more, but right now quite unaware. So you read books written by enlightened Gurus, Teachers, Enlightened Souls, listen to their voices, feel their blessings. You read their experiences and desire the same experience for yourself. But remember you are not your Guru, his experience is his, your’s will be yours. The importance is always to the one who Experiences. You are ‘You’.
This ‘You’ resides within you, ‘behind’ the third eye chakra, this place is called the Kuthastha. (You are the unchangeable supreme essence located at the top Bindu of the Meru hyper dimensional geometry). So you concentrate at the pitch darkness that you see at your third eye. It takes a lot of strength of Will to stare at darkness, doing your practice, hoping that You will be kind to yourself and Show Yourself. This ‘You’ has a name too, it is ‘Om’. So while you are staring at the closed door of the Kutastha, you will keep knocking on it too, calling out to Yourself, by your name. This is the Mantra.
Now who is a Guru? Not everyone wearing a saffron or white dhoti/kurta is a Guru. There are several fakers out there. In this modern world someone with not so clear motives gets a bit of siddhi while doing sadhana, he immediately starts collecting disciples. And then uses the energies of faith that they willingly give over to him. Never give your faith to anyone so easily. Your faith is your energy, be very careful with your faith. For accepting any theory or anyone in spiritual matters, there are 3 criteria,
- This must be detailed in and examined in depth in an accepted authoritative book. (Granth prachiti) eg, the Vignyan Bhairav Tantra, the Bhagwad Gita, the Veds, Devi mahatmya, Upanishads, etc.
- Then this theory must be explained by an accepted authority, a Teacher who has experienced it himself first. (Guru prachiti)
- And this is the most important test, your inner you/Conscience/Antaratma should accept it as being correct. (Atma prachiti) You must examine things for yourself. You are the final judge. Sanatan Dharm ensures freedom. Choose what your intuition/sense understands to be correct, there are consequences both good and bad, so be very careful when you choose this spiritual path and the practice that you will now perform. The choice is ultimately yours alone.
Now concentrating is a very dull task, your mind runs away, dragging it back takes Conscious Will. So now we have to reinforce this will. This requires faith. Your first source of faith is the example of your Guru, or what you read in your accepted Book. You look at your Guru, you want the experience that he is existing in. You read the description of the Paramtattva in the Book and want to experience it for yourself. This faith works like a crutch, you lean on it for support. But once you start experiencing your own stuff, you should leave aside this crutch too. The job of a Guru is to hand-hold till the tipping point, once you start seeing the lightening flashing at your third eye the job of a Guru is over. Now your faith is in your own experience, it is very liberating. The essentials of a spiritual practice are very easy, in fact ridiculously so. It is breath and mantra. If you can be aware of these two things the rest of it will automatically fall into place. You do not have to do anything else at all. Is it really this simple? Yes it is, to read this line it seems quite easy, but you are up against your own Mind! See how strange it actually is.
You take efforts for maintaining your body, looks, house, place in society etc. You work, get tired, earn money to support your family. A smudged lipstick has the potential to ruin your day. You have told your mind, trained it, throughout your innumerable lives that these things are quite important. Now suddenly you turn around and tell the Mind, ‘no no this is not important, leave all this and come away to find the Real Self!’. I guess the Mind would roll its eyes and go rofl! It cannot come out of this training so easily. It fights back. So you too have to fight your Mind. This is the reason all Vedic gods/goddesses have countless weapons depicted in their hands. They give these powers to you, helping you fight your personal Kurukshetra. The 1000th name of Vishnu is, ‘Sarvapraharanayudha’, ‘the one who is equipped in every possible way at every possible time ready to fight’.
So the basic practice everyone has to start with is the Ajapa mantra, Soham or Hamsa. Try to be aware of your breathing pattern throughout the day. Make it a habit, train your mind. Whenever you are not – speaking or eating or doing some thinking work, you should be reciting your mantra in your mind, either Soham or Hamsa, consciously along with your breathing action. This means you do not let your mind wander, you are giving it a focus at all times. If you try to hear to your breathing sound, it sounds like ‘so’ when you inhale and it sounds like ‘hmm’ when you exhale. Thus Vignyan Bhairav Tantra has these 2 Ajapa mantras, ‘So-hum’ or ‘Ham-sa’. (Will put a separate post on these next.) This is the essential spiritual practice, the tiny pebble which initiates everything. As your mind starts entraining itself to this mantra, the Universe will also recognise your Intention and things will come in so beautifully, you will soon get time to do proper Dhyan regularly. And then you know the way to Your own Self.
Your Intention, the power of your Will and your Faith in yourself is the foundation of your spiritual path. Always be confident about yourself. After all you are the Ultimate yourself, the Creator of your Universe.
(Thank you to the kind soul who suggested this topic, I hope reading it triggers something good for you!)