PART TWO: THE PRACTICES
Guru Maharaj Ji has defined meditation as "perfect concentration on a perfect thing." "Revealed" at an initiation ceremony, called a "Knowledge session," 1 this "perfect thing" is known as "Knowledge of God," or simply "Knowledge." "Knowledge" is said to dwell within everyone, but the touch of a "Perfect Master" or one of his loyal "initiators" 2 is needed to awaken one to its presence within. Once one has been thus awakened through "receiving Knowledge" one "realizes" it through meditation upon its four manifestations:
1) "Divine Light," an inner light;
2) "music," an inner sound;
3) "nectar," an inner taste, and
4) "Holy Name" or "the Word," an inner sensation or "vibration" relating to the breath.
"Formal" meditation practice involves concentration upon one of these four things. Premies typically meditate "formally" for an hour upon arising and an hour before retiring, concentrating one by one on "light," "music," and "Holy Name" (in any order), while sustaining "nectar" practice through the whole session. 3 The techniques do not involve visualization, imagination, imaging, chanting, or any form of mantra, sound, or syllable repteated orally or silently. Thus one does not "imagine" or "visualize" the "light" or the "music;" rather one concentrates upon the light one sees or the sound one hears until it becomes subtler and finally reveals the ineffable "Knowledge" as its essence.
Premies learn concentration through their own practice. After the "Knowledge session" they may request "Knowledge reviews" or interviews with "initiators," but each must discover himself how to use his own mind's tendencies to promote concentration.
* * * * *
An analysis of concentration reveals two overlapping phases - active and passive - experienced but not explicitly labeled by premies. Passive concentration is the goal, the state in which one makes little active effort because the "music," "light," or "Holy Name" attracts and compels, drawing one's attention despite oneself. But usually one arrives at passive concentration only after considerable struggle. This struggle entails active concentration, the conscious effort of switching the attention again and again away from distractions to the object of concentration.
Remembering to Meditate
Even veteran meditators will sometimes find that they have sat for a whole hour without even once trying to focus their attention on the "music," "light," or "Holy Name"/breath. They just forgot about it and daydreamed, worried, or snoozed. How, then, does one remember to concentrate the attention? And how does one remember again and again and again to concentrate each time the attention wanders?
Remembering to concentrate involves noticing that one is not concentrating. The initial forgetting of concentration goes unnoticed. Beyond one's choosing or control some passing thought or feeling attracts the attention. A related thought then attracts it further and
leads to another and another, in a chain of associations which perhaps halfway through is broken by a different thought followed by its own chain of associations. These other shifts of the attention also go unnoticed. One has lost track of the play of attention, the way it moves, how it is pulled from one thing to another, and what pulls it.
Losing awareness of the play of attention, one then loses awareness of the faculty of attention itself. The attention and its object merge. One no longer understands that one's attention is focusing on a certain thought or mental sensation; one merely perceives that thought or sensation. And one sees that thought not as a discrete entity - a thought as a thought with a certain content - but one becomes absorbed in its content. One accepts and believes what it says, and one reacts to it. If a thought or mental sensation is disagreeable or offensive, one begins to feel gloom or else one produces counter-thoughts, arguing against it. If a thought categorizes or labels some perception or memory, one accepts and agrees with that categorization. If a thought commands, one obeys. it. If a thought seems to be prefaced with the notion of "I," or the feeling of oneself, then one identifies with it and feels that he is that thought.
A Mission artist once related to me a dream which, by analogy, illustrates this process of losing concentration. He dreamed he was watching a splendidly inspiring scene, like the fairyland landscapes he often paints. A road ran crosswise between him and the scene. Lots of little vehicles - outlandish and comical vehicles like tomatoes and cucumbers with little arms and legs - whizzed back and forth along that road. As long as he watched that splendid landscape the vehicles on the road didn't particularly distract him. But the moment he really
looked at one of the little vehicles he suddenly found himself dragged along the road with it and lost sight of that beautiful scene.
To begin concentration again one has to recognize, clearly and even startlingly, that the attention has strayed and that one is not directing it. One must notice the unbroken absorption of attention into thought-chains, even as they shift from subject to subject, from sensation to sensation, from reaction to reaction. Only awareness of this process allows one to break it and regain control of the attention.
But what brings this moment of recognition? Perhaps a door bangs, or one's back suddenly itches, or one remembers about a disturbing appointment or simply that one is not meditating. The shock interrupts the daydreams or mental wanderings long enough for one to remember what one was about. Suddenly one can see thoughts as thoughts. No matter how intense and beguiling, they appear now separate from oneself, one sees that they appear, disappear and change much like physical sensations. In the analogy of the artist's dream, one sees that the vehicles that have dragged one down the road are, in essence, only vehicles, no matter how outlandish and amazing they seem and no matter how entangled one has become in their traffic. Recognition of thought as thought breaks absorption of the attention in much the same way that a dreamer who recognizes that he is dreaming generally wakes up. Like a movie-goer clutching for dear life onto his popcorn bucket during the scariest moment of suspense who suddenly realizes he can eat the popcorn and disregard the screen if he wants, one realizes that one can drop a thought or thought-chain completely, or "let it go" as the members say, and concentrate entirely on the "music" again.
This first inkling is like an awakening, an awakening 4 from acceptance of absorption in thought as one's only possible mental reality. Yet this is only an awakening from, not an awakening to. One has not yet felt the meditative state at this point, one has merely perceived the possibility of perceptions outside of ordinary thought.
Many of the guru's stories deal with awakening from one's limited conception of reality, like the story he told about two frogs:
There were two frogs, one frog was from the ocean and one frog was from this small well…this ocean frog was the guest for one night at this well frog's house. And so they both jumped into the well, and just started talking about many, many things, and this frog from the well said, "How big is the ocean?" And the other said, "Very big." So this frog from the well took a small circle and said, "Is it this big?" He said, "No, very big." He took a bit more circle and said, "This big?" "Very big." So he took a bigger diameter circle and said, "This big?" He said, "Very, very big." He took a bit more circle and said, "This big?" "Very big." So he finally went to the edge of the well and said, "This big?" The other said, "Still bigger than that." So he said, "Come on, not bigger than that, my well is the biggest thing, this is it, this is the ultimate." ("And It Is Divine," 1/73:45)
This moment of awakening from absorption in thought seems like magic, a gift; one doesn't understand how it came, and one didn't make it come. However, practice in concentration seems to make moments of awakening from come more readily. One can recognize thoughts and mental sensations more quickly by learning about their variety, qualities and habits, just as one can learn more about the qualities of any new and strange terrain.
One can, for example, perceive some thoughts as thoughts because they seem to affect the body as they come: they might be felt as little darts of energy, tensing here, tightening there, or passing through one's limbs like little arrows. In the same way that anger
tightens the stomach and sorrow chokes the throat, one comes to recognize the far subtler physical effects of even unremarkable and nonchalant thoughts. Sometimes watching one's body for thought-sensations seems easier than watching one's mind for thoughts. One might recognize a certain "bursting" quality as a thought appears suddenly in the mind/body, startling the apparent equilibrium.
Some ways of recognizing thought as thought are more mental. Sometimes one thought follows upon another in a non-sequitor so incongruous it startles, or the simple factual "wrongness" of what a thought "says" stands out recognizably. Or perhaps a fantasy comes to the end of the story with a certain jolt, like the end of a movie. Sometimes the sensation of thought coming packaged in words gives it away. Just by catching the fact that actual words or a voice-like thing is coming into one's consciousness out of nowhere, apropos of nothing, or perhaps in response to the previous mental sensation, one can distinguish the thought as a thought without letting one's attention become absorbed. Sometimes a certain word associated with a thought gives it away; just the sensation of "you" or "I" prefacing a thought appears like a red flag saying "this is a mere thought." And suddenly, instead of identifying with it, one can let it go. Strong emotion with a thought can have a similar "red flag" effect; the image of one's boss brings fear, or the image of a loved one desire, and the sudden, compelling impact of fear or desire awakens one to the awareness of thought as thought. Other times one becomes aware of the process of creating one's own thoughts, as when a vague mental sensation or perception becomes articulated a split-second later as an intelligible thought. The slight effort of will expended to create that thought alerts one to its nature.
The ability to "see" the "thoughtness" of a thought instead of identifying with its contents increases with practice. Yet practice also reveals that mental activity is far more complex and subtle than one first supposed. Less articulate thoughts, for example, emerge as vague feelings or moods - unease, fear, depression, agitation, pleasure, elation - which entrap one's identity, making one think 'I am anxious, upset, elated.' No verbalization strikes the attention, no single distinct thought flashes into consciousness or stands out incongruously and easily recognized. The thoughts and mental sensations of "moods" are so tightly interconnected and compacted that one has to deepen concentration, like taking a magnifying glass, to see a mood dissolve into its discrete components, thoughts distinguishable from one another, swirling together in dull clouds. One hardly thinks to do this with habitual moods, especialy those habitual moods 5 on which one tends to depend.
Subtler still than habitual moods one senses habitual mind-sets, patterns of mental activity taken so for granted that the possibility of alternative patterns never occurs to one. As with habitual physical posture, one recognizes a mind-set only when it becomes uncomfortable, and discomfort usually appears only with new activity. The new activity of meditative practice can slow the mental stream or give one a new angle of vision which can show up a habitual mind-set as inadequate or inaccurate. But for this recognition to last it must be clear and strong; one slips back into habitual mental postures as easily as the body lapses back into a habitual slouch.
Thus the quality of one's recognition of "thoughtness" is important. Often when a dreamer realizes he is dreaming, he only half wakes and soon sinks back into another dream. When one recognizes
that he has been absorbed in thought and concentrates for a moment, the momentum or pull of the thoughts reabsorbs him almost instantly. Thus "awakening from" must occur again and again and again, as the following account, which I wrote after a few minutes' meditation, shows:
I am caught in a tumult of revenge and jealousy inspired by a certain enemy. For awhile, meditation is entirely forgotten, and when I hesitate, wanting to get in a few more imaginary jabs at my enemy, only in the back of my mind am I vaguely remembering about meditation. When I finally do focus on the "music," almost instantly my enemy screams his insult at me, I am screaming back, and the battle begins again. A few moments later I focus again and at once another scream, another wild argument. The scene absorbs me. I participate. I generate thoughts myself. I take imaginary actions. When I switch attention to the "music" again for another fraction of a second, the thought "I'll fix him" interrupts, with a vivid plan for my revenge, his humiliation. A feeling of hateful gladness wells up within me. I love it and I believe it.
When I stop and catch another glimpse of "music" my anger wells up again and I insult my enemy loudly. But this time somehow I notice the thought, how it came, how it pulled on the emotion, how it darted so quickly into my awareness. I switch my attention back to the "music." Another thought comes: deep self-pity, how he has damaged my fragile self-image. And again I notice the quality of thought, how it grabbed me, how it appeared and quite suddenly commanded my attention, beyond my control. I do not fall immediately back into thought, but watch with interest how the thought-chain unfolds. Self-pity leads to an uncomfortable dwelling on my faults; then to my pet fears. I notice and feel the tug as this thought-chain tries to involve me, but somehow I can watch as well as feel it.
As rapidly as it came that thought-chain disappears, only to be replaced by another: "Wow, I'm beginning to get detached from my thoughts." A little burst of pride follows, with fantasies of long and fruitful meditations, enabling me to rise in the hierarchy of other meditators. This time I lose my attention into the fantasy. But then I remember to switch my attention to the "music," feeling a touch of sheepishness. The sheepishness in turn starts off another chain, leading to fantasies of failure and hopelessness. But I recognize the sheepishness as another thought-feeling, let it disappear, and keep my attention on the "music," this time a little longer. Another kind of thought interrupts, suggesting a feeling of "Gee, this is nice, meditation is so pleasant. I am beginning to feel more calm. Gee, more
people ought to know about this meditation because it's so wonderful. I wish the Mission would think of more clever ways to advertise. But look who's running the Mission, people like that turd 'X'! What do you expect?" And I am back into hating my enemy again. Then the fact that my thoughts have gone full circle back to him again startles and amuses me. I remark to myself about the ingenuity of thought, and while in the process of thus remarking I notice that this too is a thought, with the same insistent, cocksure quality of the other thoughts which have absorbed my attention. (DuPertuis: personal notes)
Despite heroic efforts, one falls back into thought again and again and again. Premies come to see this tenacious power of mental habit as a force, almost an entity with a will of its own with which they must struggle in meditation:
And meanwhile all the time on the sides of what you're seeing and doing the mind's saying 'oh I want this or take a look at that'or you know, it's always taking you and dragging you into something other than what you could be. (DuPertuis; interview notes)
The "mind" limits awareness:
See the mind is imperfect the mind is limited, the mind is like looking down a tube, like you can see some parts of the world, but the other parts will completely pass you by … (DuPertuis; satsang notes)
The "mind" is like the road in the premie artist's dream, the place where the little vehicles whiz to and fro; when one is caught on that road one has no awareness of the beautiful scene beyond it.
The "mind" is not seen as thoughts and responses, but as the maker of the thoughts and responses. Sometimes it is conceived as the faculty which judges, labels, and classifies, other times as the "I," or "ego," or the thing which makes one think in terms of "I." The Guru has called the "mind" an "absence" - not one's "brain" and not one's "memory." Sometimes he playfully refers to it as "Mr. Mind."
Premies say the "mind" traps one in "sleep," "darkness," "craziness," "unconsciousness." It plots and plans, deceives and tricks:
I would wake up in the night thinking myself to be in the city I had last left behind. Remembering the bathroom to be where the closet was, I would search at length in the dark to find the toilet in it. Reality was not what my mind thought it to be and neither was time … I was forced against my will to realize that my mind did not, and never would, have the answers for me; that it was not always to be believed … (Cameron, interviews)
Sometimes the "mind" becomes devilish and perverse. Dangerous and insidious, it "takes" a person, as in this account from a premie who had stopped meditating for awhile:
I got to the point where I'd be walking down the street and my mind would be saying, running like this tape, 'Listen you, I'm in control here, and don't you ever think you can get away from me again because I'm your master, and I'm the one who runs your life, and I'm the only thing you have, and I'm it, that's all there really is.' It was really saying those words. It was really scary because I thought I was flipping out, that I was having hallucinations hearing this voice telling me all this stuff. But it was really showing me that the mind really is some sort of entity and it's really crazy. I'd never experienced my mind like that before receiving Knowledge, never like that, never something that was within me. (DuPertuis, interview notes)
The "mind" is seen as the perpetrator of one's incessant internal chattering, and to "be in one's mind" or "listen to one's mind" or "follow one's mind" means to take this stream of inner chatter seriously and to see it as logical and rational even when it contradicts itself:
Can you imagine somebody walking down the street just talking to himself, non-stop? We'd call him crazy. We'd want to lock him up. But each one of us is talking to ourself as fast as we can, all the time. Only we just don't let it out of our mouths. (DuPertuis; satsang notes.)
A person "in his mind" will believe that the "mind's" thoughts are his own, that the "I" it speaks of refers to himself, and that whatever it says is unquestionably right. Such a person, say the premies, is "lost"
in his "mind," lost because he can perceive nothing except what the "mind" tells him and has access to no other means of perception. He is lost because what the "mind" can imagine, conceive, perceive, remember or fantasize has become his reality, and "mind" defends that reality as everything.
To awaken from the "mind" is to recognize that one is different from one's "mind." One has a "mind," but one can ignore or laugh at its thoughts as easily as one might ignore the ravings of a senile old grandfather at a family dinner. Further, awakening from the "mind" is knowing that one can control it, stop its chatter whenever one wants, and use it to figure out useful things when necessary, but only when necessary. The Guru illustrated the proper use of the "mind" with a story about a poor man who wanted a genie. A saint managed to procure one for him, but left him with the warning that if the genie were not constantly occupied it would immediately devour him. The poor man saw no problem in this, for he could think of endless ways to occupy the genie. First he asked for a scrumptuous meal, and in a twinkling a fabulous dinner on gold plates was spread before him. But before the man could even take one bite, the genie was glowering before him saying, "Another task, Master, or I will eat you up." Quickly the man requested a mansion and took a bite of his meal. But while he was still chewing, the genie was back demanding another task. The man quickly demanded stables, fine horses, gilded clothes, servants, a full treasury, but the genie fulfilled these wishes so quickly that the man hardly had time to think of another request, let alone take another bite of food. When finally the man could think of nothing more and the genie was about to grab and devour him, the saint happened by. Hardly able to restrain his laughter, the saint told the genie to get
a very tall pole and to climb up and down it again and again until he was needed for another task. n this tale the genie is the "mind," useful for many things, but liable to "eat one up" with its activities, demands and anxieties if one can't control it and set it aside at will. And the pole is true meditation, which tames the mind.
Choosing to Meditate
One initiator from India had a favorite metaphor:
If a baby is hungry and you just feed him dry bread and more dry bread and when he cries you just offer him dry bread again, then the baby has to eat it. The baby has no choice. But if you offer him dry bread in one hand and candy in the other then the baby can choose which one he wants to eat. The baby has a choice. (Satsang notes)
"Dry bread" is the ordinary thought-process of the "mind;" "candy" is meditation. Only when one has recognized the "mind," or thoughts as thoughts, can one choose between meditation and further unfocused "thoughts." Given that one sits down specifically to meditate,that meditation is the foundation of all premie spiritual practice, and that most premies who meditate regularly are intensely committed, it seems that the moment one recognizes "mind" one would always instantly choose to meditate. Why then, after recognizing "mind," does one so often choose to go back "into" it again?
One continues to remain in one's "mind" simply because its activity fascinates. A fantasy is all too intriguing, a daydream too pleasant to just drop in the middle. Or one might be busy making plans, puzzling out problems, even writing poetry in one's head. Or thoughts about problems of ill health, the economy, nuclear war, seem to demand one's attention as necessary for their solution. And then the strongest emotions, like anger and fear, practically compel one to keep
noticing them; they have a sort of momentum, an intense vitality compared to which the notion of meditation seems supremely boring. After one attempt at meditation I wrote,
So I kept thinking about it more and more, getting angrier and angrier. My anger was all-consuming, and the notion that I ought to meditate, which occurred to me periodically, seemed like a nice little moral maxim which was shallow and meaningless compared to the intensity of my anger. (personal notes)
For many a premie the most enticing "thoughts" of all, and the hardest to recognize as "just my mind," are daydreams about GMJ. One imagines the rewards of long and diligent service, an invitation to his residence, an intimate interview, long, soulful looks, unspeakably subtle teachings, wild new realms of awareness and love. Positive thoughts of GMJ's beauty and wisdom are not only enticing; they are also socially acceptable among premies. A criticism of GMJ will quickly elicit a retort from others that you are "in your mind," but a positive comment will bring nods of agreement. Yet positive thoughts about GMJ during meditation are still "mind," just like any other thoughts; they not only prevent meditative experience, but they lead to other more seamy thoughts, as GMJ frequently notes in his "satsangs." In one particularly funny "satsang," GMJ pictured the "mind" as approaching an innocent, diligent premie, and saying, "Jai Sat chit anand, Premie Ji!" The premie, responding automatically to the premie greeting of "Jai sat chit anand," begins to listen. The "mind" continues, "Isn't GMJ beautiful, and isn't Durga Ji beautiful, and aren't all the premies beautiful." To which the premie agrees. And the "mind" continues,"and you're such a good premie, doing so much satsang, service and meditation" - and again the premie agrees - "but you need a break, just a little vacation, just a few months, a few years off in the Caribbean somewhere." Because the premie listened at first, he agrees, and now he is lost.
Choosing to meditate requires motivation. Sometimes one makes a little deal with oneself: "OK, I'll just think about my boyfriend for another ten minutes, and then at 10:30 I'll forget it and I'll really start to meditate. That'll give me a full half hour of meditation, and that's enough time to get into it." When 10:30 comes one glances at one's watch, heaves a sigh, and begins meditation in earnest. Some premier motivate themselves by simply feeling they "ought" to meditate, for meditation is one of GMJ's foremost commands, and it is their duty to obey him. Others find motivation in fear; either they imagine that refusal to meditate will bring dire consequences - and premie rumor as well as GMJ's satsangs give ample reasons for such fears - or else they simply remember how "scattered" they feel and how badly things go when they don't meditate. Others let inspiration motivate them. They dream of wonderful meditations or remember somebody's account of a good meditation or half-remember some past experience of their own. To be effective, one's motivation must be strongly felt at that very moment, stronger than the tendency to slide from one thought to another, stronger than one's desire to daydream, to sleep, to worry, or to get up and do something else.
Moment to moment the cycle repeats itself: recognizing "mind," remembering to meditate, choosing to meditate, focusing attention in meditation, and then letting the attention wander until one remembers once more. So one must choose again and again to meditate, and in order to choose to meditate again and again one must be motivated again and again, one must somehow sustain a virtually constant motivation. GMJ's wife Durga Ji once related an allegory about the boat of Knowledge whose captain is GMJ, which concluded, "and you have the choice, every second, to
stay in the boat or jump out of the boat." Motivation, then, is sustained by rechoosing to meditate every moment.
Once one chooses to meditate, one begins to "make effort" in meditation. But there are two kinds of effort: "wrong effort," which doesn't work, and "right effort," which does. "Wrong effort" is struggle, will power, trying too hard; "right effort" is discrimination, "letting go," "surrender." It is as if the "mind" is a big, heavy ball, GMJ has said: "wrong effort" is trying very very hard to heave it away from you, and "right effort" is just leaving it and walking away.
One version of "wrong effort" entails willful, determined forcing of the attention onto the "music." 6 One grits one's teeth so to speak, steels oneself and "stares" at the "music" tensely, trying to get into it somehow, all the while turning one's head away from potential thoughts and trying to hold them at arm's length. When the attention wanders, one grimly musters up still more determination and starts again, pitifully clutching at the "music."
Such avid determination to force it usually brings frustration, for meditation requires tremendous patience. With frustration one might lapse into a fear of failure or perhaps pep-talk oneself into a sneering over-confidence. The ensuing self-pity or self-congratulation usually overwhelms the attention once and for all. And even if determination does not bring frustration, determination itself is already a mental posture, which catches one up into the idea that one ought to control the attention, that one ought to struggle. With the attention already intensely focused in the thought-posture of determination and will power one can hardly switch it to the "music," which lies outside
of all such postures.
"Fighting the mind" is another version of "wrong effort" in which one assaults the thoughts directly and tries to force them to disappear or slow down. Like the mythical Hydra which grew two heads when one was cut off, the "mind" reacts to these attempts by producing even more thoughts. Sometimes "fighting the mind" comes when one is sickened and disgusted by the "mind's" tireless chatter, endless preoccupations with self, constant agitation and anxiety, grandiose schemes which fascinate and then vanish into thin air, and the shackled, suffocating feeling of "being trapped in the mind." Hatred of the "mind" and the desire to get rid of it overcomes all one's patience and one tries all the harder to repress the thoughts, push them away, not look at them, ignore them. But the hate itself and the desire to get rid of "mind" are already "mind."
Alternatively one tries to manipulate away unruly thoughts. One argues against negative thoughts, for example, trying to convince oneself that one's case could be differently conceived. One dreams up strategies of self-improvement and fearfully barricades against further disturbing thoughts by ferreting out reasons for self-congratulation. Forgetting that one had intended to abandon thought altogether and enter meditation, one tries to think positive thoughts and create a pleasant mood.
Commonly called "positive thinking," this strategy is criticized by premies, among them Timothy Gallwey whose best-seller The Inner Game of Tennis suggests that one approach tennis with meditative quieting of the mind and non-judgemental awareness:
Before finishing with the subject of the judgemental mind, something needs to be said about "positive thinking." The "bad" effects of
negative thinking are frequently discussed these days. Books and articles advise readers to replace negative thinking with positive thinking. People are advised to stop telling themselves they are ugly, uncoordinated, unhappy, or whatever, and to repeat to themselves that they are attractive, well coordinated and happy. The substituting of a kind of "positive hypnotism" for a previous habit of "negative hypnotism" may appear at least to have short-range benefits, but I have always found that the honeymoon ends all to soon. (1974, p. 42)
Gallwey goes on to quote a student who discovers, "Compliments are criticisms in disguise! Both are used to manipulate behavior, and compliments are just more socially acceptable!" (1974, p. 42) The argument applies equally well to a tennis instructor complimenting his student and to compliments one's own "mind" directs to one's self. He concludes,
Clearly, positive and negative evaluations are relative to each other. It is impossible to judge one event as positive without seeing other events as not positive or as negative. There is no way to stop just the negative side of the judgmental process. (1974, p. 44)
"Positive thinking" is such an anathema to premie views that a small cluster of premies who became involved in 1974 in a positive-thinking practice called "Science of Mind" were seen as virtually heretical. They preached that "positive thinking" is the key to meditation and that one must repeat "positive affirmations," such as " I can do anything," or "I am God." In the orthodox premie view, affirmations make one merge completely into a thought created by "mind." In such a state one has no hope of ignoring the "mind" and transcending it in meditation. Further, an affirmation such as "I am God" makes actually merging with God/GMJ, who is beyond all thought, impossible. In fact, one begins to feel less need for GMJ and less inclination to obey him. And this is what actually happened. The leading proponent of this view began to conduct his own well-attended evening "satsangs," outside of
DLM's authority. Soon he was attracting premies from the Denver DLM headquarters and robbing official "satsang" of newcomers. For a few months the headquarters lunchroom echoed with intense discussions of "mind" and "thought," "positive thinking" vs meditation. When this heresy clearly began to gain independence from GMJ and the Mission in organizational as well as spiritual matters, GMJ squelched it. (But a new heresy emerged a year or two later comprised of many of the same people preaching yet another alternative to premie meditation.)
* * * * *
What, then, is "right effort," the effort of "discrimination," "letting go," and "surrender"? Premies see "discrimination" as a keenness of inner perception which suddenly notices, and notices over and over, moment by moment, that one is about to be lost in thought. As thought becomes more subtle one senses more thoughts per unit of time and time may seem to slow down, but "discrimination" must increase vigilance and precision even through slowed time. "Discrimination" also implies non-judgment of thought, the ability to see every thought, no matter how endearing and pleasant or violent and horrible, in precisely the same way, as a thought which should be allowed to appear and pass without undue attention.
Allowing thoughts to appear and pass is called "letting go" of thought. With every thought one does nothing; one does not accept it, resist it, push it away, judge it, agree with it, or admire it. One lets it go of its own accord withoutforcing it to disappear. One does not try to alter it, contradict it, or react to it in any way. One sees it as powerless and false - a meaningless, unreal idea screaming alone in the void which merits no attention, no effort of any kind. One lets
it pass through one's field of vision, but that is all. It comes and it goes, and one pays it neither attention nor non-attention.
Even the "right effort" of "discrimination" and "letting go" may not make thoughts disappear or even slow down for a long time. But sometimes the practice of "right effort" builds patience enough to continue until one finally reaches the point of not caring whether or not thought slows down, not caring about one's experience with the "music," not caring at all about the outcome of the meditation, but yet caring in another way, caring in the way of vigilance and dispassionate focus. This not caring is what premies call "surrender."
This not-caring "surrender" can work effectively to calm the mind rapidly and bring one ever more deeply into concentration on the "music." In turn, that deep concentration further facilitates the "right effort" of "surrender." But how does one start this virtuous circle in motion? Where does one muster up the patience, the "discrimination," the "letting go," the detachment, the razor-sharp clarity? How does one extricate oneself from the passionate chaotic struggle of "wrong effort?" How does one "surrender" and not care?
Surrender and Begging7
A premie sitting in meditation "fighting the mind" and feeling more frustrated and hopeless by the minute does not just calmly decide to "surrender." Like a defeated army he is driven to it. He has no choice. He "surrenders" when he can't try any more, when all his trying goes nowhere, when he begins to forget how to try. He gives up, he abandons everything, even his effort, his confidence that he can do it, even his desire to meditate. This "surrender" is a passionate act whose only intention is desperation. As one initiator described it,
It's like you're swimming, and you're pretty far out from the shore, and you realize you're in trouble. You start swimming desperately and put all you've got into it, and you still aren't getting anywhere, you're getting further from the shore, you're struggling, you're getting tired, you're really in trouble. And then you remember that lifeguard you saw on the shore, and you can barely see him, but you just reach up and scream HELP! (satsang notes, 1978)
A person cannot make himself "surrender," but then again he can't prevent it. "Surrender" comes spontaneously. Very often he doesn't even want it, because he wants so to meditate, to quiet the mind, to make effort, to try. "Surrender" comes as a surprise, even a shock. Without trying to, suddenly he stops, or is stopped. He stops everything. Then, in surprise, he looks up at a new landscape. Everything has changed. The game is different, the task is different, the whole point of everything has changed. In that moment he can finally notice the "music" as it is, and meditation begins.
"Surrender" is very often mixed with begging. At the moment of "surrender" one's whole intention switches. One no longer cares about meditation, "music," concentration, or anything; instead one simply, spontaneously, passionately, humbly begins to beg. One latches onto begging, like a lifesaver. Begging knows where it aims, and premies will say that its aim is GMJ. But the truest begging does not imagine GMJ the person sitting on his throne, nor does it address him in spoken or imagined words. Begging comes from a point so inward that it hardly feels like part of oneself. Begging points uncompromisingly toward its purpose, not at some self-created image but rather into a void, into the universe, into one's own deepest depths. One begs to the "inner guru," to a felt reality, to an essence, to a terrible liveness which one does not dare name. Begging comes from a sense of wholeness and of nothingness crying out for a sense of wholeness, and in its
aim it is complete. For in the end the thing one begs to and the thing one begs for are one and the same.
The deepest most effective begging arises from the feeling that this is one's last hope. A life-and-death plea that knows no shame, it clings urgently to the final shred of possibility. The power of begging sucks up all one's angers and frustrations, one's desires and pretentions, one's failures and one's fears. One sacrifices everything into it; nothing can be held back, for in a flash every thing of oneself seems irrelevant, trivial, or a tiresome obstruction. Thus one also pours into begging one's worn-out wishes for peace, deep meditations and spiritual accomplishment. With this pouring the passion of begging grows still stronger. But finally the violent intensity of feeling which begging gathers to itself begins to subside, and one feels as if one has given one's sorrows and longings, angers and frustrations, until they have finally gone. Yet if begging disappears with them it loses its purpose and turns out to have been a mere temper tantrum which dissipated with no direction.
After the emotions have spent themselves, begging must refuel from more fundamental longings, from a more steadfast desire almost like an elemental sense of knowing. GMJ once said,
You have to pursue that one thing without reservations, without why you should have it; without any desire, any anxiety, any curiosity, you have to pursue it as it goes, as it flows, you have to become a part of it. (Satsang given 7/29/77 in Miami)
In one's desperate call into the vast emptiness of one's inner universe, in one's sacrifice of everything one has known, one wants nothing that one has, nothing that one can imagine or even hope for. And yet something in that begging knows just what it wants. Stronger than one's ordinary will, that something generates its own energy and pinpoints its
own focus toward the hope of finding in the furthest depths of inner emptiness a spark of life or of reality. This most fundamental begging becomes intensely sincere, neither pious and solemn nor excited and melodramatic. And it never wavers from its direction.
When this happens, begging finally becomes "discrimination," because the vitality and immediacy of begging shows up ordinary thoughts and emotions as non-immediate, ephemeral, and even boring and irrelevant. By sucking all distraction into itself begging rivets the attention. A random thought now seems so tiresome and lifeless that it has no power to attract; one would almost laugh at it if one could waste the energy. Attention has now become passive, effortlessly attracted by begging. One need no longer - indeed one can no longer - consider or resist; one simply gives the attention and oneself entirely into the rushing flow of begging.
This sincerely steady begging becomes one's motivation in meditation. Each time one must choose again to focus attention in meditation, begging provides an unflinching purpose for that choice. Begging sets and in some sense is the goal, and meditation provides the means toward or the realization of that goal.
Yet in another sense begging achieves its steadiness through meditation. Its point of focus comes to merge with the point of focus in the "music" (or "light" or "Holy Name"). And as one begs to that "music" one concentrates intensely. Thus, as begging generates discrimination and motivation and as its focus becomes the meditative focus, begging and meditation become one.
* * * * *
"Surrender" and begging interrelate. One surrenders one's
mistakenly "wrong effort" and begins to beg. Or one begs to be able to "surrender," maybe even to be able to beg more sincerely. Sometimes "surrender" and begging are even considered the same thing for, beyond the technical aim of meditation, they both achieve one's aim. Neither "surrender" nor begging can be deliberately planned, chosen at a certain moment. One can only hope or beg for them, and when they appear they bring one into the awareness which one wants.
GMJ once spelled out the relationship between desire, begging and "surrender." Ordinary desire doesn't work; it turns out to be "wrong effort;"
And it's not the desire to meditate constantly that is going to bring you constant meditation. You see it just doesn't work that way. You have to be away from that desire - as I said, you cannot desire! You don't just go around desiring things.
One must turn instead to begging:
You go beyond desire and you have a real thirst, you have a real cry. But begging is not desire, it does not choose a limited and specific claim. To beg one has to surrender one's desire:
How do you desire by not desiring to be able to get what you want? Well when it gets that tricky the only thing, the only solution there is, the only solution I guess I apply and I guess you have to go through, is to surrender. Let go. Don't try and pull the stunt, because it's just hard and impossible to do. (Satsang given 7/29/77 in Miami Beach)
Summarizing his thought on "right effort," GMJ said another time, "Your effort has to be: sit back and relax and watch what happens." ("Divine Times," 4-5/78, p. 11)
Guru Maharaj Ji is fond of relating the story of King Janaka,
who once dreamed that his kingdom had been conquered, reducing him to a beggar who manages to cook a handful of grain only to have wild bulls trample it into the mud. Weeping, he wakes to find himself lounging in his royal golden bed, asking himself,
"What is true? Is the thing I was seeing in the dream true or is what I am seeing here true? Which is a dream? Is this a dream or was that a dream? Which is real?"
After much confusion, finally he finds Ashtavakr, the "Perfect Master" of his time appearing as a crippled boy, who explains to him,
"Oh Raja, what you saw in the dream was false, was not true, but what you are seeing now is also false, this is also not true. What you saw in the dream was a dream and what you are seeing now is a dream, too. … What you are seeing now is all a dream because this will finish one day. But what is the one thing? That is within us. That is what all the sages have been teaching you." ("And It Is Divine," 2/73, p. 47)
The entire effort of active concentration - redirecting attention again and again back to the "music," seeing thoughts as thoughts, awakening from "mind," choosing to meditate, "wrong effort," and finally the "right effort" of begging or "surrender" - all this yields not a moment of meditation. One has seen what meditation is not, but one has yet to see what it is. Practice which goes only this far feels "dry," mechanical and unsatisfying to premies; they probably would not meditate if this were all. Begging and "surrender" may lapse if the "experience" of meditation does not arise. For premies want more than just awakening from the bad dream of ordinary existence; they have to awaken to a new reality.
For the most part awakening to the meditative "experience" follows the efforts of concentration, begging, "surrender," and "right effort." But not always. One can awaken to the "experience" even before one starts trying to concentrate:
I got home really late from work, and I was super tired, I hardly knew what was happening. Then when I sat down to meditate I just closed my eyes and there he (GMJ) was. (notes)
One can awaken to the "experience" even when one's mind is furthest from meditation:
I was really down, just completely bummed out, and I went on this long, long walk. I hardly cared where I was going, I was just completely off the wall, out of it. And then suddenly I was doing the Nectar, and I'd never experienced Nectar before. It was this amazing taste, this electricity, and I looked around and felt like I was on acid. I ran home as quick as I could and just meditated for a long time. (satsang notes)
The intention, the effort, the begging - all these seem not to influence the exact moment of awakening to. For awakening to comes independently of one's efforts. A premie once compared awakening to meditation with falling asleep. "You don't know how to fall asleep," he said. "You don't notice the moment, you can't make it happen, but you just sit there and meditate, and pretty soon you just fall into superconsciousness. You suddenly come into that superconscious state, and it just happens."
In many cases, "surrender" is awakening to. 8 For awakening to is the first moment of new awareness, a sudden fresh angle of perception. It takes one by surprise. Awakening to resembles the moment a steady crescendo of sound which started inaudibly suddenly breaks into awareness. But it is more than a simple switch of attention from thoughts to the "music" or "light," which one accomplishes over and over while trying to concentrate. Rather, the "music" steals the attention until one cannot help but listen more and carefully; it fascinates and comes alive. Sometimes one awakens to "experience" when, after much effort to concentrate, one spontaneously drops the effort and lets the attention wander a few moments. Then, just as spontaneously, one awakens to the "music," and it begins to attract. The spontaneous
letting go of meditative effort is a "surrender" and, like all "surrenders," unplanned and unpredictable.
An initiator once distinguished the effort of active concentration from the spontaneous, passive concentration of meditation:
What's this thing of concentration? Sometimes I sit there and say I'm going to do it, I'm going to concentrate and I sit and try to concentrate. But that's not it. Then I just sit there and follow the technique, do what GMJ said to do, and then I begin to feel the experience coming, and then I'm concentrated. Automatically I get concentrated. When Maharaj Ji is there, do you have to try to concentrate? (satsang notes)
When the object of meditation comes alive the effort required to concentrate is more like the effort of nudging a large piece of driftwood into the center of a moving stream rather than the effort of dragging that driftwood over rough ground hoping somehow to be going in the same direction as the stream. One can now use one's effort to propel the attention more deeply into the "experience." For the "experience" lures one on and on. A premie poet once rendered the "music" "experience" something like this:
You're in an Arab market, donkeys bray everywhere, men hawk their wares, women haggle over prices, a pile of pots crashes to the ground, horns honk. And then, in the midst of that wild bedlam you hear a lonely flute which you didn't even hear at first. As you listen the other sounds fade and you find yourself in a section of the market where thousands of men in long robes are playing flutes. The melodies weave in and around one another, crying and laughing. After awhile as you listen more closely the sweetest and purest of the melodies begins to stand out and compel you. You follow it until you can no longer hear the other melodies and you reach a part of the market where thousands of birds are singing that same sweetest melody. Then you notice that they all sing it differently, some more throaty, some chirping, some more sweetly, and then as you listen you begin to hear just one bird whose melody is so sweet it reminds you of beautiful bells, and you follow the song of that bird until you reach a part of the market where thousands of bells are ringing … (satsang notes)
Awakening to is always a surprise; not only is it unanticipated at that moment, but the new mode of perception seems novel. Though one
may have been in meditation many times, each time seems like the first time again. Of course one recognizes the state, and that the switch to it has occurred, but one of the state's characteristics is a freshness from moment to moment. One enjoys it. And one enjoys it because one loves it. The "music," "light," or "Holy Name" inspires love. In The Inner Game of Tennis Gallwey uses this principle to instruct in the art of concentration:
As silly as it may sound, one of the most practical ways to increase concentration on the ball is to learn to love it! Get to know the tennis ball; appreciate its qualities …
Concentration is not staring hard at something. It is not trying to concentrate; it is not thinking hard about something. Concentration is fascination of mind. When there is love present, the mind is drawn irresistably toward the object of love. It is effortless and relaxed, not tense and purposeful. (1974, p. 92)
With meditation, the object of concentration is not an inert thing like a tennis ball which one must learn to love; it is alive and lures one, it seems, into infinity:
When I meditate I feel like I've found that place to start in infinity and that I could keep going, and I don't even have to stop. All you need to do is practice the meditation that Maharaj Ji shows you and through that practice you eventually come in contact with infinity, with Love, with what I call God. (interview notes)
The Meditation "Experience"
The "light," the "music," and the "nectar" all yield perceptual experiences but underlying all of them, and "Holy Name" as well, one feels what premies call "energy," or "vibration." One feels hyper-alert, jumpingly alive. The body senses a hyper-stillness, or a caress, or darting sensations of energy, or generalized tingling:
Meditation is like floating, it's like being lifted up and elevated, you're just light; you're tingling and you just feel like you're being carried away and dissolved into the universe.
Sometimes one feels the body more intensely than usual, balanced, relaxed,
healthy, feeling every cell alive. Other times one forgets about the body in the depths of concentration and directly senses only the "vibration."
In the mind this "vibration" sensation creates a pinpoint of concentration; everything is drawn specifically to one point. There the "vibration" originates, and that point opens and draws one in until one feels a supreme state of freedom, like seeing forever:
Experience tingling, happiness throughout body and soul, feel lightness, absolutely everything right …
… the valley of astonishment (Crozier, 1974)
Though felt during all the techniques, this "vibration" is the central experience of the breath or "Holy Name" technique. "Holy Name" can be soothing, peaceful and still:
He touches me in this stillness.
His Name carves
A steady path within me,
And I am His
In this gentle breath. 9
And yet this stillness does not lull one to sleep; it fascinates. It inspires a sense of knowing beyond images or words or understandings,
He sat for many hours in stillness … He realized that the quietness that he found inside was what he had been looking for and that in such quietness he could at last be one with Truth. 10
In this "knowing" one has finally come home to a sure place to rest at last, which one sees as the inner center of one's self. There everything comes into balance, and on some basic level oneself and everything in one's world is finally O.K. The mind is empty, but the "vibration" fills that emptiness and seems to pervade one's whole being until one feels utterly in tune with it.
Sometimes this "vibration" of "Holy Name" becomes extraordinarily intense - as one premie said, "like an atom bomb." It overwhelms, as a premie song-writer expressed it, "in wave after wave of wonder."
One feels surrendered to a powerful force far beyond one's own control:
I sat down to meditate and what happened to me was that my breathing got more rapid, and I just got taken into … It was the breathing, overtook me - I don't even know what it was I haven't experienced it since. The whole experience just completely washed - filled me completely. It was such a powerful experience, it was so intense. I just didn't know what was happening to me, I felt I was going into a - I just don't know - and after about two and a half hours it just completely washed and just took my whole being completely and I came out of it …" (Interview notes)
Another premie reported that when his roommate meditated the "vibration" made him stand up and sort of dance or jerk around the room like a puppet on strings.11
The "nectar" technique yields a certain taste along with a vibrational sensation:
Suddenly at the tip of my tongue I felt a sweet yet electric sensation which spread throughout my body as an intense feeling of joy and well-being. It was as if I had been transported into a new realm of consciousness where deep happiness reverberated at all times. (interview notes)
More even than "Holy Name," premies feel the effect of "nectar" throughout the whole body, bringing energy and increasing vitality.
The "music" is known to calm the nerves and quiet the emotions. One can be drawn into a subtle world of sound which seems to surround, enfold, and stimulate:
The "music of the spheres" or "sound of sounds" appears in all scriptures … The sounds devotees report hearing range from water sounds - similar to, but richer and more varied than, those heard in a seashell or conch - to crickets in the grass on a summer night to stringed instruments and choirs. (Messer, 1976, p.54)
Others hear flutes, or "angels singing."
The sensation of "music" is more than just an inner perception of "hearing." The body, especially the head, "feels" the "music" to varying degrees. When one concentrates intently on the "music," one feels as if one's entire being resonates in harmony with it. It
inspires a sense of joy:
And the music resounding
Deep in the well of my soul
Is enough to fill the universe
Like "Holy Name," the "music" draws the attention into it, until one feels immersed; the "music" is everywhere, creating its own world.
Though premies practice the "music" technique only during "formal" meditation they sometimes begin to hear it during evening "satsang," in nature, or in any quiet moment. Such an experience brings them quickly into the meditative state. The "music" suggests stillness, and stillness suggests the "music." Premies have also reported hearing "music" when they sit listening to streams: "wild, operatic voices, a whole chorus arose from the bubbling sound of flowing water." (personal notes)
"Music" seems to comfort, to reassure, to enliven, to refresh. "Light" may prove a challenge; one can see more or less of it, one can worry about not seeing it, one can be afraid to see it, one can be seeing it and then experience a thought which will make it disappear instantly. But "music" poses no test. With half one's attention one can begin to hear it and gradually let it draw one into its increasing richness.
The "light" yields the most dramatic experience, sometimes combined with visions. Even premies who never see light still find that the technique gathers and intensifies their concentration. Some see just a pinpoint, "the size of a seed," and others, psychedelic visions of light and color. n an account of my initiation I described a "light" experience:
I was nervous and bewildered, but when [the Mahatma] came to me and
touched me I was as if suddenly sucked into another realm. It was as if a surprise happens, and one is expecting something ordinary, so one is forced to stop, and gasp, and exclaim, "Oh!" I saw swirling patterns of black and white, like a zebra's skin constantly turning and interweaving about itself. Very bright. Then colors, then a bright, bright ring of fire. Then the sun, burning radiantly. Then he went away from me, the sun began to fade, and soon there was nothing left but stars twinkling. It was a complete surprise. (personal notes)
Collier recounts quite a different sort of experience:
I was sitting in the woods meditating. My eyes were closed, and in front of them I saw only a luminous haze of slowly swirling golden light. … Then something touched me. Slowly, I opened my eyes. A chickadee was sitting on my shoulder with its tiny, delicate legs holding the hem of my sleeve ever so lightly. I looked deep into its eyes and it began to sing. (1978, pp. 119-120)
The most dramatic report of "light" meditation I heard from a premie who -lad not been practicing the specific "light" technique for a long time. An initiator scolded her mildly and told her to go home and practice it for an hour. When she did,
My whole head, my whole body, the whole universe became light. Bright, blinding light. Opening my eyes made no difference. Still all I could see everywhere was that brilliant, radiant white light. I couldn't see anything in the room. 'Blinded by the light!' I thought, and I wondered what my husband would do with me. (satsang notes)
Many premies see visions in the light, especially of Guru Maharaj Ji:
I wanted so much to see Maharaj Ji, to be with him. So no matter what I experienced, no matter what I saw I just kept going. I was seeing this incredible light, like ordinarily would have blown me away, but I just sort of ignored it, I didn't really even care, I just wanted him. So I just went on and on, sort of through the light until finally I saw his face. (satsang notes)
Or, as a premie poet rendered it:
in the space that arises
when eyes are closed,
i have seen love's face
peering from behind roses
- Charles Cameron
Yet not all premie visions are of the Guru:
I had an incredibly beautiful light vision, perhaps because I had
asked Christ to show me if this Knowledge was really against Him. Jesus had been the only one in my life that had given me strength. n this vision during the light meditation, Jesus came to me. I saw a beautiful cosmos and in the middle of that center there was a rose and in the middle of that, a crucifix made of really white pure light. In the middle of that there was a tiny black spot that formed into Pegasus. Its wings started flying. Pegasus is the symbol of Jesus Christ, so I knew it was all right. (Cameron, interview notes)
An Indian Initiator related this vision:
With His Grace, I saw Maharaj Ji and Durga Mata Ji (his wife) in meditation. And in between them, Shri Maharaj Ji (Maharaj Ji's father) … And Jesus Christ also - in the sky! In the sky! And this is reality, this is reality to me. (interview notes)
Perhaps even more than visionary experiences, the sensation of "merging," of losing one's self completely typifies the deepest meditation "experiences." Once I was talking casually with a premie friend about meditation and he asked, "haven't you ever merged?" and went on to tell me about the "music" waking him in the middle of the night and "dissolving" him. According to another premie,
All of a sudden you just merge with everything that is and you realize that you're just a part of it, that there is that power, that energy that sustains the entire universe and it sustains yourself and it sustains me and in the experience of that, in the power of it, in the beauty of it it's just a very uplifting very enlightening a very freeing experience and a humbling experience because it's so vast, it's so overpowering, yet it just feels so so beautiful because you're merging, you're completely connected to the entire creation and in that realization you experience freedom, you experience joy, you experience the infinite. (O'Brien, interview notes)
Premies sometimes call this state "Samadhi," a Sanskrit term for the deepest meditative state, but they use the term loosely: "I go into this deep, deep place. Everything is still; I'm completely at peace. It's Samadhi, I guess." (satsang notes) Lacking a precise vocabulary for exact discussion and categorization of meditation experiences, premies rely on graphic descriptions of visions, drug culture words like "rush," "zap," "stoned," "blown out," and superlatives, of
which "Samadhi" is one. Yet the term "Samadhi" has a certain mystique, applied sometimes to bizarre states of consciousness, especially in rumor. One fanatically devoted Indian Mahatma, for example, was said to have greeted Guru Maharaj Ji once at an airport, prostrated at his feet, and gone instantly into "Samadhi." "He was stiff as a board," I was told. "They had to carry him away like that." Another premie was rumored to have sued a hospital for injecting some powerful drug to arouse him from an inert state he later called "Samadhi." And GMJ himself is said to sit in a chair in a special room of his Malibu residence looking out over the Pacific "for days and days" without leaving the room, without moving.
Premies' image of deep meditation does not always imply uncanniness, stiffness, or inordinate spans of time. More usually, it simply implies profound inner peace, as suggested in this premie poem:
lost in something beyond thought
at last, wrapping her cloak
about her as if to guard some rose
she sits, rapt: as if her skin
were thin as rice paper, softly
candle lit from within, she glows. 13
Children and babies often exemplify the image of meditation:
If you are having difficulty learning the ways of meditation, watch a baby at sleep. He is completely relaxed, abandoned to all save the God who holds him in his arms. His face bespeaks the pure calm of one who knows he is loved. His lips are peacefully relaxed. His little nose takes in quiet streams of Holy Prana (breath). His tiny ears are closed to all but the Sweet Harmony which dwells within. And his eyes are serenely closed in blissful contemplation of the inner Divinity. (Cameron, interview notes)
The Significance of Meditation Experience for Premies
Most premies have the "experience" of meditation from time to time, many do daily, and most have had at least one very extraordinary, "mind-blowing," "dynamite," or "trippy" "experience." Many have had
several of these, and some have them frequently. Extraordinary "experiences"reinforce the power and significance of average meditation "experience" and help maintain an ongoing sense of a different level of awareness.
Profound meditation "experience" also has significance for everyday life. One premie reported having an "experience" after which,
I just realized from that point on to only remember Holy Name because I couldn't remember anything else. I wasn't given to experience "mind" for another year and a half. (Interview notes)
One premie who was dying of cancer said for awhile that he used to cry every time he thought of Maharaj Ji or looked at his picture. At one point he longed so much for Maharaj Ji and begged for him so hard in his meditation that Maharaj Ji "materialized:"
I saw him talking to some other people. I saw his head and ear up close, and Maharaj Ji brushed his hair back away from his ear so I could speak into it. I told him all my problems and troubles, and it completely changed my experience and made everything OK, and made me feel that Maharaj Ji knew me. (Satsang notes)
Some premies have a meditation "experience" which reminds them of an experience or way of seeing they had forgotten and reconnects them to a primal feeling of self. One woman said the "light" reminded her of a similar light she used to see when she was a little girl. Her mother had discouraged her from trying to see it, saying she would hurt her eyes. When she persisted her mother sent her to a psychiatrist whom she told about the light and the "other world" of her visionary experience. Caught wanting to support her visionary experiences, which he saw as valid, yet wanting to deny them because to support them would compromise his professional reputation, the psychiatrist killed himself. Whether or not his suicide was prompted by other factors as well, the girl saw it as a confirmation of her "other world" visions but, as she
received no other confirmations, memories of them gradually began to fade. Only upon receiving "Knowledge" did she reenter her "other world," and soon her meditation revitalized her former visions. Premies reconfirmed both this and her childhood experience as "real."
For another woman, an intense meditation on Holy Name reminded her of a childbirth experience:
Somehow during that experience of labor, it was like I was breathed - and it was very deep, like riding on the top of a wave. I wasn't worried, I wasn't scared, I wasn't afraid. I had no experience of resistance. I remember the pain, but I remember that there was something more than that, there was something regular. It was interesting to me, because I hadn't ever had an experience of any such regular power that way. I experienced at once this other power and also this ability to go through it with the breathing. It was reliable. Pain wasn't taken away, but there was a way to experience it that made the pain secondary, completely secondary. This experience was so involving, so consuming, that I couldn't concern myself with these external "realities." It was just a wave, I was being carried, and I went with it, and I saw that it was magnificent, that it was overwhelming, but I wasn't lost, I was just overwhelmed …
… After I received Knowledge, one time this meditation experience was like giving birth, the experience just filled me completely, and I realized that what had borne my son was Holy Name. It had happened through me, but it wasn't me, it was that power …
… A couple of months after I had my son I was just filled with this longing to have another child - and now, looking back I see that it's the desire for that kind of an experience that would make you want to have another baby, or have drugs. It didn't seem practical to get pregnant and have another baby right away, but it was a real longing inside of me, because of the power of that experience. But now I see that it was the longing for that experience of Holy Name - I had thought it was the child, but it was really the longing for the real experience inside my own self of Holy Name manifesting. (Interview notes.)
For some premies "trippy" or "flashy" meditations do not have deep meaning. Shortly after his initiation one man told me that he saw so much "light" he started crying and had to grab hold of the (Indian) Initiator's dhoti to keep from falling over. But later he told me it was no different from a peyote experience he'd had - there were all sorts of colors swirling around and around, but then it was over and
that was that, so what?
Others find that the effects of profound "experiences" wear off after a period of time. For example, many premies have a "high" after initiation which lasts weeks or even months. According to Collier,
After my initiation into Knowledge I found myself in an uncompromised state of bliss that lasted almost eight weeks without pause for a tear or sad thought. Day after day I woke up to discover I was still overjoyed. The smallest things - walking to the Good Day Market with the cold on my face; drinking a cup of hot tea, smelling the steam; or seeing a tiny place where the ice on the street was melting, making beautiful colors as the light came through it - all were rich, precious experiences for me.
The Knowledge was turning out to be everything that it was chalked up to be, and more. For the first time I understood Laotzu's remark, "Those who say don't know, and those who know don't say." There was no way for me to "say" the tremendous feeling of steady-state ecstacy I knew in my heart. It was simply past the reach of words or even understanding. (Collier, 1978, p. 118)
But even this joy eventually subsided.
Some premies report simply that the novelty wears off. One woman unhappy enough to spend most of her time wandering from therapist to therapist once said in "satsang," "I've been in Samadhi many times, but you come out of it. It's more than that." The man who told me about the profound "nectar" experience which made him run home to meditate, and whose friends reported that meditation made him jerk around the room like a puppet on strings, told me that those experiences are wonderful, but after awhile you don't seem to want them so much. "You still have to live your daily life," he said, "and when the meditation experience goes you still have to go work and pay the bills and try to get along with people."
Sometimes a premie will have an experience in meditation which he feels did not come from Guru Maharaj Ji at all:
Really frequently now when I meditate I go into this place where I'm in the bright bright sun and I'm flying over this infinite ocean. But I don't think it's the Light, I don't think it's Holy Name because I'm not meditating on Holy Name when I'm there, and
I'm not feeling Holy Name. I'm just there. (notes)
While at GMJ's ashram in India in 1972 one premie told me that before coming there she used to experience "astral travel," in which she "left her body" and flew around like a free spirit through space anywhere she wanted to go. But when she tried it there at the ashram she ran into a vision of GMJ's mother14 who held her hand up like a policman at an intersection and stopped her so she couldn't get past. Since then, she said, she has stopped "astral traveling," because that experience taught her that GMJ doesn't want her to do it anymore.
The Guru has even occasionally suggested that "mind" can counterfeit meditation experience, and that premies usually can't tell the difference. Hearing this, one initiator became so frightened that he immediately fell at Maharaj Ji's feet and begged and begged to be saved from "mind." Other initiators warn premies to keep concentrating on the meditation technique every moment, no matter what should happen during meditation, no matter what enticing experiences should appear.
Then again, counterfeit or not, sometimes meditation "experience" can be unpleasant:
Sometimes, especially if I wake up in the middle of the night and meditate, it's weird. Just this blank. I can't think; it's unfamiliar. Sort of boring but very powerful. A blank. A second takes a minute. (Personal notes.)
And sometimes meditation "experience" can be scary:
I begged Maharaj Ji to really show it to me, give me that meditation experience, all the way. And he did, and I started to go into it, and I was scared, terrified. I couldn't stop. I didn't want to go into it, it was too intense, and so I just begged him to please please stop, I'll be satisfied with what I get. (satsang notes)
Premie culture fluctuates in its evaluation of "trippy"or powerful, big meditation "experience." The earlier years especially emphasized
it, and the popularity of satsangs reporting such "experience" reemerged from time to time, alternating with periods when such reports seemed almost bad taste or an "ego trip." In more recent years premie "satsang" has tended to recommend a degree of detachment from meditative "experience." One would hear that all "experiences," good or bad, meditative or otherwise, are a gift; Maharaj Ji's "grace" bestows exactly what a person needs at any particular time. So one should neither crave "experience," become discouraged over lack of it, nor pride oneself over attaining it. Steady effort should absorb one's entire concern without undue attention to "experience." Yet still, despite all this, premies maintain that the "experience" is everything. After all it shows one the limitations of "mind" and the new "reality" beyond.
Awakening to the meditation "experience" opens premies to what they call "Guru Maharaj Ji's world." "GMJ's world" sometimes refers to premie culture in general but in relation to meditation it means the new mode of awareness. Sometimes they simply call this awareness "reality:"
This world here seems real enough, but sometimes it just begins to feel shadowy, like it's not quite there. And then I feel Maharaj Ji, and it's another reality. (satsang notes)
And sometimes they call it "another world:"
The world stops
When I look into your eyes
Always takes me by surprise
Feels so familiar
Like I've already been there,
Another world -
No place I'd rather be
Feel your gaze, just melt me
Free me from all my fantasies --
Leaving me here --15
Premies often refer to the "reality" of "Guru Maharaj Ji's world" in spatial terms, as a "place" where one "goes." Often they refer to that "place" as "inside," or, in GMJ's words, "within inside:"
This world is completely inside. It's a whole other world that's not touched by this outer reality. I'm glad it isn't. When you have thoughts, you're not there. (notes)
In contrast, then, the world of thought, of "mind," of "ego," of everyday awareness becomes "illusion," "unreality," or "maya" (a Sanskrit term for "illusion"). Premies see the world of the "mind" as changeable, unreliable, unstable, always relative:
This reality of the world makes sense to us, because we're used to it. But actually it doesn't make sense. I used to work at a mental hospital and it didn't make sense at all, there was no point in anybody doing anything, and they made up these schedules, everybody got up at a certain time, and they had occupational therapy - they had closets full of this useless stuff people made, strings of beads, tile-work. And that's the way the world is, too. Senseless.
Nancy said to me, 'what did you tell that person you talked to on the phone?' And I said, 'what person?' She said she'd handed me the phone to talk to someone, and I didn't remember it at all. In my reality, it didn't happen. Who's to say we all live in the same reality? (Satsang notes)
In meditation, the "reality" of the "mind" disappears in an instant when one awakens to meditation. Coming back to the "mind," premies can sometimes take it with a grain of salt, as if they only half believed it. When thoughts appear one now recognizes them instantly, as I tried to express after one particularly inspiring meditation:
I meditated several hours on a mountaintop, sometimes looking at the view, most of the time meditating with closed eyes. I remember how the thought 'what about dinner?' startled me and made me laugh. What possible meaning could 'dinner' have when the meaning of these mountains had come alive, when I felt I had become a part of them, when my inner stillness felt so vast it included them. And then, trotting along through this vast stillness, this magnificence of inner and outer creation, like cartoon characters in a TV add, came 'What about dinner?' The clutter, the irrelevance of such imposters, when I had fallen into the sea of stillness! (personal notes)
Even a mild awakening to, though it may not slow the stream of
thought appreciably, still enables one to see thoughts clearly enough to identify not with them but with meditation:
I feel confused sometimes when my mind is wandering around, but I never really feel down 'cause I know that's just my mind. There's no reason to be crazy, because that's just illusion. …
… Like, I'm not totally devoted myself, 'cause when you are your mind can be going "yakkie yak" and you're not even hearing it. It's just something you can look at and laugh at, it's something that doesn't really exist. (Downton, 1979, pp. 27-28)
One's center of viewpoint, one's "ego" or sense of "I" has switched. Thoughts continue to rally around the old center, but since one no longer dwells in it the thoughts seem silly and have no relevance. The self they pertained to, which recognized them, has gone. One's new viewpoint seems inside the meditation, fully involved, even a part of it. The "experience" has invaded one's very self. The account of my mountaintop meditation continued:
Then I lost my identity. My awareness became pure human awareness; I was seeing the same thing any human could see, nothing was according to my private individual perspective. Thoughts of my self were only lies trying to induce me back to an unreal world. At one point I remember idly wondering what sort of body I would see sitting there when I opened my eyes. I knew factually I was my self, with my own body, but I also had that pure human awareness where it was possible I would look around and see I was an old Chinese man, or maybe an African kid. (personal notes, 1974)
The "ego" then, the individual perspective of "I" emerges as a supreme example of the "unreality" of "illusion." Going back and forth in and out of meditation, premies get a sense of two realities, one somehow more "real," and inside the other one:
i wear a monk's hood,
prefer the inner
to the outer sight,
awake to the celestial day
within terrestial night;
while the frosted moon stalks
through this world's wood,
my hands are warmed at the sun fire
of my creator's light.16
Whether one sees "reality" or "illusion" depends on one's angle of vision, one's perception, one's identity with "thought" or with meditation. Several of the Guru's analogies have to do with angle of vision or mode of perception. In one story17 a man sees a snake which turns out, on further inspection, to be a rope. n another example GMJ compares being in a maze unable to see over the top to being above the maze looking down, seeing exactly which turns to take. Premies echo this theme in their own words:
I still have friends, I still have a job, all the things that people are doing in this world, but that thing that's so radically different is the attitude toward life, how do you approach it. It's like a caterpillar sees a flower and says, 'oh, I don't even know if I want this thing, man, it's going to take me half a day to climb up that stalk and take a look at that stupid flower, and I don't even know if there's anything there,' and it's like a butterfly just opens up its wings and it's right there. That's just the way that this meditation has transformed me, from a rather yucky caterpillar to perhaps a mediocre butterfly, but at least these days I've been flying. (Cameron, interview notes)
But "illusion" does not easily give way to "reality." Even after they have experienced "Guru Maharaj Ji's world" in meditation many times, still premies are fooled by "illusion." Though they know it is "unreal," still it deludes and threatens because they take it to be "real" and act accordingly. In one satsang a premie tried to explain the nature of "illusion" with an analogy of a faulty compass. If you head true north and your compass says you are heading due north everything is fine. But if you start heading a few degrees off, then the faulty compass changes and starts saying that your few degrees off is still due north. So you don't know you're off. And then you go a few degrees off that and the compass readjusts again, so you still think you're going due north when you're even further from it. And so you keep on getting more and more off until you're going completely the
opposite direction, and your compass still says you're heading due north. The compass is "real," but it is faulty and because you believe it, it is an "illusion."
The essense of the "mind's" "illusion," according to premies, is its belief in its own existence. To the "mind," lack of thought, lack of itself, means completely nothingness, or nonexistence. Therefore it pulls every trick to protect the "illusion" of its existence. The "mind" tries to convince a person that if "mind" should go, "mind" which creates and supports his sense of "I", then he too will go; he will cease to exist. Premies say that is why the "mind" is so hard to recognize, to control, to "get beyond." GMJ explains:
Mind is a very weird thing; mind is a very strong thing, and we have to understand the characteristics of our own mind. … It's like an absence, it doesn't exist, so what do you chase out of in your lives? … Almost one way of looking at is "what is it, can you touch it, can you feel it, can you grab it?"
No, it's there, you can feel the presence of it; you can't touch it and it is haunting you, so how do you get rid of it? (GMJ speaking 9/29/77, Miami)
The "mind" is "illusion" also in the sense that it clouds or obscures one's vision, without one ever knowing that it is doing so, or that another kind of vision is possible. Premies say that the "mind" convinces a person that the clouded vision it allows is clear vision. People take for granted the clouding process because they are used to ordinary mental activity and don't know how to stop it:
We place limitations on ourselves and in doing so we try to place limitations on that life force and we block it and in blocking it we start a whole reasoning logical categorical process that doesn't allow that life energy to flow through us. We tend to relate to our lives through ideas instead of the pure experience of life and letting that take us wherever it will - this is the ability to stay young. (O'Brien, interview notes)
But the meditative awareness makes one aware of the conglomeration of
taken-for-granted mental processes and allows one to see beyond them, in "real" unclouded vision:
This Knowledge, to an adult life, is as ammonia to a grease and nicotine coated glass pane. It cuts through that dulling coat of grime which stifles our awareness, opens the windows to light and meaning for our souls to once again breathe. (O'Brien, interviews)
FORMAL MEDITATION AND DAILY LIFE
When they "receive Knowledge" premies are instructed to meditate "formally" - sitting alone, undisturbed - for an hour in the morning and an hour before going to sleep. The ashrams built this practice into the daily schedule, enforced with varying strictness over the years. Non-ashram premies meditate according to their inclination, work and family life. The majority of the sixty or so premies I shared non-ashram housing with at various times did regularly attempt the two hours of meditation daily; most premies probably meditate at least some of the time. But sitting to meditate regularly does not guarantee serious meditation practice. Many obstacles intervene, the most serious of which are sleep, habit, and self-righteousness.
By far the biggest obstacle to meditation is drowsiness. The ashram schedule generally allowed six to six and one-half hours of sleep per night. A non-ashram resident who works full time and attends "satsang" most evenings probably fares worse. Even if he manages to get home and start to meditate by 10:30 he won't finish his hour before 11:30 and he must rise by 5:30 or 6:00 the next morning to meditate for an hour, have breakfast, and get to work by 8:00. While in the ashram I was plagued by chronic lack of sleep. The then-official premie view, preached often to me by "housefathers" and others in power, stated that meditation causes one to require less sleep than normal, and that sleepiness in meditation merely indicates that one's "mind" is in control. "Don't let 'mind' convince you you're tired," they would tell me over
and over and repeat in "satsang" for all to hear. "Mind is just playing its tricks. Keep on trying and mind will go away and you'll wake up and meditation will be beautiful."
For some premies this is true. "Meditation wakes me up," one premie told me. "It gives me so much energy I can't possibly feel tired." Another said meditation relaxes tension; therefore, since tension causes fatigue, when tension goes so does fatigue. An ashram roommate I had always meditated for half an hour in the afternoon instead of napping, claiming that meditation rested and refreshed her far more than sleep.
Occasionally premies have tried to replace sleep with meditation altogether. For a few months in 1973 the Mission sponsored all-night meditations on Saturday nights. Though nobody was required to participate, many did - some, it seemed, just to see who could stay awake the longest. Sometiems somebody would even bring a squirtgun to prevent others from nodding out. The morning light would inevitably reveal a mass of blankets and bodies sprawled on the meditation room floor, but also two or three people still sitting in meditation. One of these once told me that she had to really struggle for the first few hours, but then she found herself "just sitting in Maharaj Ji's lap. So tranquil, so much love. I just rode, I just coasted, and before I knew it the room got light. I was so surprised." Even since that period some premies frequently meditate most or all of the night. One premie told me he and his roommate meditated all night every other night for nearly a year. Another woman told me that anytime she had a little problem she would simply sit in meditation all night, reestablish her "connection," and feel refreshed and free of problems the next day. An ashram mate
who sat up most of the night, most nights, told me that he just hated not being conscious. "You don't need much sleep," he would say, "your body gets used to it." In a 1975 "Divine Times" article, however, a premie doctor said substitution of meditation for sleep would undermine health; this suggests that the practice was then still common enough to elicit his concern.
But most premies don't meditate all night and many spend their meditation time fighting with sleep. Anecdotes about "nodding out" and snoring in the meditation room are frequently heard in "satsang." In my years of living with premies hardly a meditation hour passed without at least one person relaxing against the wall to snooze, curling up on the floor, or slumping over and starting to snore. To prevent drowsiness many premies drink coffee before meditation. Others readjust their schedules by skipping "satsang" or taking flexible jobs to allow meditation as well as sufficient sleep. Most most will not or cannot do this and sleep, for most, continually challenges meditation. "Satsang, service, meditation and sleep" was the theme of one initiator's satsang, and essentially he offered no solution.
Rote habit can also impede meditation. One can fairly easily learn to sit comfortably for an hour twice a day, especially if everybody else is doing it, and never even try to meditate. One need only adopt the attitude of a commuter on his long daily bus ride. A mild self-congratulatory attitude can even render the experience pleasurable. Premie culture accustoms one to waiting: premies are chronically late; events never begin on time (premies even speak of "premie time"); and festivals inevitably entail long long lines for food, transportation, seats, restrooms. Waiting for the end of the meditation hour twice
daily fits comfortably into the general pattern.
Finally, self-righteousness hinders meditation. Some premies feel guilty if they stay up late at night talking or reading until they are too sleepy to meditate, or if they sleep through the morning meditation hour. They see meditation as a virtuous act or moral obligation whose opposite, "spacing out," damages one's reputation. Playing "holier than thou" with one another, they refuse an invitation to go out for coffee, with a slight put-down, "No, I'm going to meditate." And all through the meditation hour this type of premie notices who sleeps, who leaves early, who never appears at all. This concern, coupled with self-praise, renders meditative effort difficult.
* * * * *
Despite the continual impediments of sleep, habit and conformity, and self-righteousness, premies perservere in "formal" meditation. Except for those who find meditation to be only an irritating ritual to be avoided as much as possible, each premie finds a viable stance. Even those who find meditation intolerably uncomfortable and boring find they can continue to meditate if they cling to it with a stubborn sense of duty. More than duty, some see meditation as sacrifice, an offering to the Guru. They practice in the spirit of giving him their time, attention, preoccupations, fantasies, giving him their "mind." The sacrifice can become an unloading or unburdening of sorrows which leaves one feeling lighter and clearer. Sacrifice can also be hard, compelling one premie to lament, "Oh Maharaj Ji, why do you make me do this?" Either way, one aims not at that light, clear feeling and not at groveling lament, but simply to please GMJ, to communicate with him, to give him one's all', to express one's devotion.
Some premies see meditation primarily as a discipline. Like those who think that to crave or value meditative "experience" too much will somehow lead one astray, they conceive of meditation as one portion of a continual effort to carry out the Guru's instructions:
We went on this ashram retreat, and the initiator gave satsang the first night and said, "We're here to practice. We're just going to practice satsang, service, and meditation because through this practice, through doing what Maharaj Ji says, then he can give us his grace." So I began just to look at everything as practice.
I'm practicing this meditation, and it doesn't matter what I get out of it, the grace will be there. (Satsang notes)
The "grace" they conceive not only as a pleasurable meditation "experience," but also as a whole trend, a turn in one's life, a feeling of one-pointed purpose, of meaning, of the Guru's presence. Individual meditations are small segments of a smooth, integrated, ongoing effort which culminates in the "grace" of a life of devotion.
Duty, sacrifice, and discipline are attitudes which compel one to meditate. But some premies need no such attitude because they come to depend on meditation. Without it they become tense, irritable, depressed, or confused, and perhaps they can't sleep because the "mind" is too active. Some find they can't concentrate because distractions affect them more than usual or because moods become more intense. Premies who become miserable without daily immersions in the meditative state explain that meditation not only wakes you up to clearer perceptions of yourself, the world, other people, but also centers and calms you so you can tolerate those perceptions with equanimity. But when you don't meditate you lose the equanimity without losing the new perceptions, so you "see too much" in yourself and the world and it overwhelms you. To tolerate your new perceptions you must meditate, but further meditation deepens those perceptions still further, so you must
meditate still more, and on and on. Meditation thus catches you, and you cannot do without it.
"Formal" meditation is said to affect one's attempt to remain in meditation during daily activities. You cannot hope to meditate during the day unless you have really "focused" during the morning meditation, many premies feel. And you cannot focus in morning meditation unless you meditate the night before, because the residue of the previous day's activities, intensified by restless dreams, vastly increases the difficulty of morning meditation. Missing "formal meditation" may not make some premies tense or irritable, but they still depend on it to reinforce a vivid sense of the presence and "reality" of "Guru Maharaj Ji's world." Without this they feel existentially disoriented without knowing why:
Sea of illusion
I'm lost in confusion
If I forget Your Name
I fall back in the game.18
Meditation, or Maharaj Ji via meditation, "saves" them, "wakes them up." When they break out of everyday "illusion" into "Maharaj Ji's world," they are horrified that they had been "asleep" and forgotten about it. But regular meditation wakes them into that reality often enough to make it the primary reality toward which they orient their lives:
Down in the city
Amidst the roar
An old city man smiled
"what we living for"
And beneath a cherry tree
He takes his hat
And then he takes his breath
And he turns his head
And he looks around
As if to hear a distant sound.19
These premies meditate in order to be aware of that "distant sound," and
to live for it.
Finally, some premies meditate not out of sacrifice and discipline, nor even dependence, but out of the extreme pleasure it yields, and an intense feeling of love with or for their Guru. They look forward to meditation; they long for it because for them it feels like home, the whole point of the day: "Then I can just go sit down, close my
eyes, shut the world out, and be with my Lord." Meditation means meditation on Guru Maharaj Ji, and GMJ means the "experience" of love and devotion:
Meditating on your love,
Nowhere else I need to go
Meditating on your love
Nothing else I need to know
Just to let this feeling flow
From me to you -
From you to me,
No approach to meditation is foolproof. Again and again premies must face the fact that they cannot fully control meditation or their motivation to meditate, their sense of purpose, their ability to concentrate and stay attentive, their experience, or their feeling of being in touch with their Guru. Despite the most heroic efforts all these things come and go, and sometimes one undergoes wild swings from ordinary, everyday "reality" to the "reality" of "GMJ's world." If suddenly meditation yields no peace, no love, no pleasure, no sense of the Guru's touch, and if one had depended on these, what then? What happens when "mind gets you?" GMJ has suggested that a premie can seriously devote himself to "satsang, service, and meditation" for ten years, and then in a tenth of a second let "mind" come into his awareness and engulf him for good. The truth of these warnings is confirmed by the numbers of premies who continually drift away from the Mission. So premies
stand forever in danger of being "swallowed up" by "illusion." In the face of this danger they supplement "formal meditation" with other practices.
NOTES TO CHAPTER III
1) By 1982 or 1983 attempts were made to drop the name and refer to the ceremony merely as the "initiation."
2) Before 1975 "initiators" were referred to as "Mahatmas," which means "great souls."
3) Sometimes referred to in the early 1970's as "raja yoga" ("royal yoga" or "mental yoga") by GMJ, these sorts of techniques are fairly common in contemporary Hindu sects, especially the Sant Mat tradition, from which GMJ's lineage derived. (Lane, 1981) For a description of some similar techniques, see Reiker (1971).
4) "Awakening" is a commonly used and even hackneyed spiritual metaphor. But my inspiration for using it came from Matza's (1969) phenomenology of marijuana intoxication. (Perhaps he was inspired by Schutz or Kirkegaard.) "Awakening from" and "awakening to" seems to be a crucial distinction perhaps not necessary in the case of marijuana because marijuana intoxication is less subtle than meditation.
5) Walsh (1977, 1978) describes these same "moods." He suggests that emotions actually are nothing but tightly entwined thoughts, which one can distinguish when one looks carefully enough. He was practising "Vipassana" meditation, which involves nothing but a continual observation of the flow of thought. One does not desire to view a beautiful scene, as in the artist's analogy, but one just continually watches the vehicles on the road, realizing that they are merely vehicles on the road, and never getting swept away by them. Thus his meditation involves a similar "awakening from," but not the "awakening to" of DLM or other meditations which aim at a particular state; in fact, an "awakening to" experience in Vipassana is observed as just one more vehicle passing along the road.
6) In this discussion, "music" will be used as the example; premies meditate on the "light" and the "Holy Name" in a similar manner.
7) In this discussion I have deliberately used the word "beg" instead of "pray" - though premies use both interchangeably - because "beg" connotes more adequately the urgency and desperation involved, and "pray" can connote repeated formulas, piety, solemnity, boring and empty ritual, hypocricy, ineffectiveness. Premies have only one ritual prayer, a devotional song calles "Arati," translated from Sanskrit and said to have been written by a Swami Brahmananda. They sing it after "satsang" and upon arising, at least in the ashrams during their more pious phases. One time premies began saying another prayer together after evening "satsang," but GMJ stopped the practice. Unlike formal prayer, premie "begging" can hardly be called a practice; one falls into it, or resorts to it, in the course of other types of practice.
8) Kurt Wolff's (1962) notion of surrender is very similar to premies', though it is not defined religiously.
9) Poem by a premie from Phoenix, Arizona: excerpt.
10) From a short story by a premie from Phoenix, Arizona.
11) Followers of Baba Muktananda and other Hindu gurus have told me similar stories, though such jerkings strong enough to move the body like that are extremely rare among premies. Muktananda followers call the energy "shakti" and various jerkings and spasmodic movements in meditation are called "kriyas." Muktananda followers report them very frequently and take them for granted.
12) From a poem by Alan Thomas.
13) From a poem by Charles Cameron.
14) This was before the infamous split between Maharaj Ji and his mother.
15) From a popular premie-authored song, "Meditating on Your Love," played often by premie bands at festivals.
16) Poem by Charles Cameron.
17) This is a stock story in many Hindu and yogic writings.
18) From a song by Annie Bishop.
19) From a song by Mitch.
20) From the premie song, "Meditating on Your Love."