(please see previous article, ABC’s of meditation, ch4, part 2.)
WHAT IS GOD
As I have mentioned previously, the Supreme or God can be whatever He, She or It is to you. Every religion and spiritual tradition see the Supreme in its own unique way and that is because the Supreme is not limited by our human conceptions. The Supreme is whatever you need Him or Her or It to be, whether it is personal, or in some traditions, impersonal. For example, ‘God’ could be Light, Truth or Energy. Try this exercise.
MEDITATION ON THE SUPREME
Sit quietly and breathe peacefully. Try to concentrate on your spiritual heart. From the depths of your heart ask the question: What is the Supreme? or What is God? Don’t immediately allow any preconceived ideas or notions of what you have been told. Allow your inner self which is in communication with the Supreme to tell you. Listen to your heart and hear what answer comes. Whatever you hear will be the right answer for you.
When I was young, I was sure I didn’t believe in God. To my intellectual mind God was a crutch for weak people who couldn’t rely on themselves. I was very existential. Then one day I heard that my grandfather was dying. Of course, my poor mother was very upset, and I found her in the basement all by herself crying. It was hard for me to see my mother cry, and consequently I found myself doing the strangest thing. I started to pray. “Please God, don’t let my grandfather die; my mother will be so sad.” This was such a spontaneous action; it happened before I even knew I was doing it. I said to myself, “What the heck am I doing? I don’t believe in God.”
Well, my grandfather did die, and I hope it wasn’t because I reneged on my prayer. The point is that calling upon God or the Supreme is so natural and spontaneous when we desperately need an all-pervading force to make sense out of our lives. And just to reiterate the power of the mind, I went right back to not believing in God again, until I seriously began to feel an emptiness in my life at age 19. Nothing external made sense to me anymore. People were inconsistent, full of emotional problems and full of ego as far as I could see. Even my best friends and all the things I thought brought happiness – money, relationships, good food, drugs, alcohol, family – none of those things completely satisfied me. There was always a degree of satisfaction, but it was fleeting- nothing lasted, and there was very little to count on.
When I turned to books on eastern thought, I read about people who studied meditation and about the concept of a Universal Being. This Being could be defined in many ways – it was not just the old man with a beard shooting down arrows and judgments. I immediately felt an affinity with this philosophy. When I met Sri Chinmoy, and he referred to the Supreme, a genderless, all-pervading, all-loving and unconditional Creator who put something of Him-or-Her-self into everyone, I could identify with that. When I began to meditate, it had nothing to do with the Supreme, but after some time I inwardly realized that my own highest self was none other than a part of the Supreme. I saw that I, too, could embody the attributes of the Supreme.
The more I meditated, the more I realized that perfection was what the True Goal was and that if I kept it up, I could eventually reach this perfection, and then I would be eternally happy and peaceful. It is a lofty goal and an ultimate reality for one who dedicated one’s life to meditation, but it is not impossible. One gets faint glimmers of this perfection in meditation. One sees and feels, even if it is only for one second, that all can be perfect, that all is really love and peace, but we just don’t allow ourselves to partake of it. Once you have had even a flash of that Universal Love and Oneness, there is no turning back. You want and need to find it again in your meditation and you will if you are regular and constant.
MEDITATING ON NATURE
Have you ever climbed a mountain and looked down at the incredible panorama, breathed in the pure, fresh air and felt ‘on top of the world’? Have you ever sat on the water’s edge at sunrise or sunset and felt the immense power of nature’s beauty? Maybe you’ve had your own spiritual experiences in nature. Its pristine purity reminds us of the beginning of creation, before humanity cluttered it up with cities and noise. In nature you can be alone with your Self, without outer obstructions to your peace. Ultimately your peace is within, and you can find it anywhere, but until that time it is helpful to remind yourself outwardly that peace can be felt.
Many of history’s greatest writers and poets have had their most profound experiences while meditating and writing about nature. Some of the greatest mystics had profound experiences sitting at the foot of a tree. The Buddha, for instance, had his Enlightenment experience while sitting under the Bodhi tree.
Next time you have the opportunity to be in nature, or if you live in natural surroundings, take the time to meditate on something that inspires you. For example, if you want to experience height, meditate on or on top of a mountain. If you feel the need for expansiveness, meditate on the sky. In each case try to become one with the object of your meditation. Identify with its main qualities and then try to feel the same quality inside yourself.
The very fact that you are inspired by an aspect of nature and that you can identify with it, proves that those very qualities do exist within you. Once you have identified with the quality, feel it grow and encompass your being until there is no difference between you and the mountain or sky. These qualities that you have brought forward from within yourself will stay with you throughout the day and will be there for you to call upon when you feel the need.
In the next chapter I’d like to introduce you to what Sri Chinmoy calls the ABC’s of meditation. These are some helpful hints that will enhance your meditation. Now that you have quite a few exercises and techniques under your belt, it’s important to know how to utilize them. Study the ABC’s carefully – you’ll find that they’re tremendous aids in meditating, concentrating and in your life in general.