RYS 200, 300, 500 in Rishikesh
I step outside. The palm trees are gently swaying in the light breeze. The flowers are bursting with the sweet, heavy fragrance of the south. Birds are chatting to each other in the lush, green bushes and rays of sun are warming my skin as my bare feet enjoy the touch of the cool stone paving beneath them. The world is doing fine... no, it's doing better than excellent! Another day in paradise has come for us to enjoy here at the ashram, where only the sound of mantra chanting is penetrating the peaceful silence.
Never before in my life has it been as obvious as in this exact moment: unless you happen to be in a war zone, or about to get raped, robbed or killed... hell is only in your own mind and you're responsible for being enslaved to it. You can option out, see it for what it is... but mind you it's difficult! But really... each moment you can open your eyes and see what is really going on around you. You can pay attention to the sky, the sun, the leaves, the animals, the smiles and the fact that you're walking upright and breathing (a miracle in itself!)... because being human is, quite frankly, totally awesome! Who cares about divinity when humanity is this great?! Heaven can wait... or no, actually heaven is right here.
The whole existence is having a fabulous time most of the time, but because we are unable to keep our mind in check, we are kicked back and forth like a soccer ball between past pains and future anxieties. I'm starting to think we are actually addicted to our own suffering... that we're all unconscious masochists who thrive in pain, because that's the most intense feeling we've experienced. Our joy is never as intense as our anger, our love never as intense as our hate, our pleasure never as intense as our pain. So there's a part of us that doesn't want to give that intensity up... because really; what sane person with even a little intelligence would otherwise keep doing that?! No...it is clearly a sign of insanity.
What about our emotions then? Can they be trusted? Intuition: yes. Emotion: no. The way I see it, thoughts are the horses and emotions the wagon, which is bound to follow wherever our thought go. No questions asked; we think and our emotions instantly, obediently follows. As soon as we think a thought, we get an emotional response. You think of someone you dislike and you have an unpleasant sensation. You think about a person whom you like and joy fills you. The mind is holding the master's whip.
My experience of meditation is just the blissful nothingness which fills my entire being. It's not joy, it's not ecstasy... it's just that soothing serenity, safe and dark as a mother's womb, embracing me. I remember when I was a child and loved being in the water. My mum used to say I was like fish, spending more time underneath the surface than above once I got in. I used to inhale deeply and then dive down to the sandy bottom, flip around and just lie still... looking up at the sun making patterns on the lake's surface and rest in the tranquility down there, no thoughts and no emotions.
But is it possible to sit in no-thought-meditation 24/7? Not really, unless you have withdrawn to a cave and created a universe of your own...because we are clearly in constant exchange with everything around us - that is part of being human! After three weeks at the ashram, I have had much time to observe my thoughts and their emotional response. Coming back to India after 7 months obviously made my mind jump around like a squirrel on cocaine; back and forth between different memories and frustrating enough, pulling the whole scale of emotions after them. But with meditation, kriya and asanas it has become more and more obvious than hell is in the mind, not in the actual reality. My mind has been calling the shots for way to long... one hell of a mind... but I've called her bluff and God knows it's not one day too soon! Without managing the mind, we cannot be happy... I truly believe that. Taking over the whip from the mind unwilling to give it up will be a tough struggle, but there's no other way. It is part of our spiritual evolution, our human bliss is depending upon it! So... with the realization that this moment is awesome to its nature and that hell is only a construction of the mind, I step into the light... and here, I shall remain... in victory! ;)