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Hasten Slowly

A. Raghuramaraju (Author) Swami Chinmayananda (Author)

THE CRUELEST periods for a sincere seeker during his spiritual life are the moments before the final experience-Divine. The pathetic anguish felt by him on the path is called ‘the dark night of the soul’. This stage of extreme helplessness complete disappointment, total dejection, and utter despair—though unavoidable—can be minimised if the seeker, on his meditation—flight to the transcendental, is well equipped and fully trained for this supreme, subjective adventure-Divine. It is the unprepared student who falls into unproductive, progress-halting ruts of thoughts and gets torn in the rising storms within him. Throughout our Hindu spiritual literature there are scattered pointers and sign posts’ in order to guide the seekers who thus got stranded on the great path. Silhouetted against the dim light of our enthusiasm, each one of them presents but a vague shape of the pointing ‘hand’ of the post. Every one must pursue the pilgrimage in the direction so confidently shown by the unerring words of the Upanisads: All commentaries and explanations, annotations and discourses are attempts to raise a fluttering candle to the ambiguous crossroad sign left in the scriptures. Recently I have been getting a lot of questions from thousands of our Mission members. May be they have had these apparently personal difficulties for some time—or may be some of them discovered their difficulties only recently, when they realised that the 18-hour-busy Swami was now a 24-hour—free Swami! Whatever the cause, the majority of them are asking valid questions, and some of them, at least, are evidently problems immediately faced by the sadhakas. Instead of addressing each of them separately, I propose to give a few detailed letters for the benefit of study for our ‘study groups’ in the Chinmaya Mission. Without all the preliminary preparations no one should start on a great pilgrimage. If one does so, it is clear that one has no sincerity or sense of urgency to reach the destination. The vehicle must be properly rigged, the fuel filled, the engine well tuned up, and the tools I packed ready before one gets behind the -wheel and drives away. The traveler must have the necessary technical knowledge to spot out troubles and correct them en route. As we travel ahead, we must be alert to read the road-signs and obey implicitly their directions; nay, at places where one is in doubt, it will always be rewarding to slow down, even stop and get out, meet others on the road, enquire, and ascertain whether one is traveling in the right direction. For a true and sincere seeker all these are useful hints, and a successful meditator of today among us is one who faithfully kept to this general plan of action. The final peak of success aimed at by a mind in meditation is its own merger into the great ‘silence’ —into the dynamic Pure Consciousness which is the ‘matrix’ behind all the subtle world of subjective thoughts-and-emotions, and the gross realm of objective things—and-beings. The ‘conscious—thoughts’, in their enlivened vitality, give us the apparent illusion of an individuality, known popularly as the ego (jiva). Mind is the thought-flow in us. The quality, quantity, and direction of the thoughts in an individual determine the type of ‘flow’ in him, and consequently, it alone decides the worth, the beauty, and the effectiveness of his personality as expressed in life. All the psychiatric treatments doled out today are attempts to jerk the thought-flow of the patient into a rhythm. But the alleys cut by the long periods of wrong flow have created disturbing patterns of thought-gush in the subject, and he has an irresistible tendency to dash back into the old familiar stream of thinking and living. A spiritual seeker, to begin with, must therefore learn to initiate new and healthier channels of thought in himself, thereby, on the whole, etching vividly the desired scheme of a spiritually conducive mental behaviour. The direction of thoughts in a mind is determined by the peculiar sub-surface motivating factors found within the emotional profile of each of us. These are called vasanas. When we are conscious of their pull, and when we realise that they are at least some of Them conditioning us and dragging us into in competency and into futile mental and physical dissipations, we call them ‘mental hang-ups’. All of us have many such ‘hook-ups’, and we struggle in vain against them and, ultimately, in our weariness, we come to yield to them. A spiritual seeker must conquer these vasanas in order to master his mind. Without this mastery over the ‘thought-flow’, self expansion and Self-experience are mere hopes, false dreams, empty claims, unprofitable bluffs. The inner and subtler forces are more powerful than the outer and grosser factors ordering our life and our world, and therefore, the {sis advise us to first to learn to conquer, control, and tame the ‘outer equipments of perceptio11’- the sense-organs. And they are, in us, miserable slaves in their own chosen harem of enchanting objects. Remember, it is certainly excusable if the physical sense-organs seek to fulfill themselves in the physical objects; for there is always a natural affinity for matter towards matter. But the individual personality should not get involved in them. So long as we live identified with the sense—organs, and so completely committed to their passions, we can never wean ourselves away from the confusing medley of our riotous sense-appetites for the sense—objects. In fact, the sense-organs cannot function without the mind; and so, by raising the vision of the mind and engaging the mind entertainingly absorbed at a nobler alter of adoration, the sense-organs can be clutched off, and their dash into the fields of sense-objects can be slowed down. Yet, the remedy suggested here is, in fact, not available to the raw seeker because the mind as such cannot be readily lifted to a greater vision unless the motive forces functioning in it are purified and controlled. The force that drives the mind to whip and herd the s ense—organs into the cesspool of sense-objects is the intellect, and its various ‘schemes for happiness’ called desires (raga). Again, these desires gurgling up in the intellect, poisoning the entire personality, are themselves manifestations of the ultimate source of all conditionings, the motivating urges deep in the ‘unconscious’ in man, called the vasanas. This level of our personality is called by the rsis the ‘Causal Body’ because it is the final determining factor that orders the type of mind and intellect, the ‘Subtle Body’, and all behaviour on the physical level, the ‘Gross Body’. The ‘causal’ level of our personality-the unconscious depth-layer of our mind—is indicated in the Upanisadic discussions as nescience or ignorance (avidya). The ‘ignorance’ of the spiritual essence and its infinite glory and perfection in us is the ‘cause’ for our sense of restlessness, loneliness, fear, etc., and therefore the intellect ‘desires’ for, the mind ‘agitates’ with, and the sense-organs ‘indulge’ in the world of sense-objects. The sense—gratifications bring but more and more fatigue at all levels in the sensuous man, and never a deep consoling satisfaction. Dissatisfied, the individual’s intellect plans yet another desire, and the body sweats and toils again to seek and fulfill it- only to discover the same disconcerting sense of emptiness filling his heart, a painful weight of dissatisfaction crushing him in the end! Sooner or later, if intelligent, one realizes that all the wealth acquired, all objects of pleasures procured, all relationships maintained, name and fame gained, work done, achievements accomplished – none of them has any relevance to the inner actual peace and joy lived. The entire life then seems an empty struggle, a futile exertion, a meaningless mission. Thus, the rsis pithily declare that the pangs of life lived by the many are all due to their own spiritual ‘ignorance’ (avidya), consisting of the irresistibly compelling urges to love, to acquire, and to enjoy the world around. The removal of this ‘ignorance’ (avidya) is the goal of meditation. With the knowledge (vidya) of the spiritual centre, the self, this ‘ignorance’ is ended. ‘Seek the Self’ is the silent scream of the highest meditation.

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About the authors

A. Raghuramaraju

A. Raghuramaraju is Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Hyderabad. He has published widely in the areas of social and political philosophy and Indian philosophy. University Grants Commission recently appointed him as Principal Investigator for e-content development for Philosophy for its e-PG Pathshala.

Swami Chinmayananda

Swami Chinmayananda, one of the greatest exponents of Vedanta in modern times, takes us through the thought process necessary to gain control of our inner world. He first shows us the logic behind meditation and then teaches us the specific techniques for applying meditative practice to our daily lives. When meditation becomes a natural part of our day, we find our lives transformed and our minds at peace.

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Bibliographic information

Title Hasten Slowly
Format Softcover
Date published: 31.12.2010
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 9788175971882
length 75p., 8.5 X 5.5cm.