Meditation, the doorway to higher consciousness
Meditation is any practice whose goal is attaining a state of higher consciousness. It is the process of retraining our awareness to operate not from the conscious or subconscious level, but from the level of the super-conscious. Guru Amar Das warns us about our attachment to material things thus: "The three qualities hold people in attachment to Maya.
The Gurmukh attains the fourth state of higher consciousness." (SGGS p30). To attain this higher level of consciousness, one has to disengage the mind away from mundane interactions and join it to a much higher level of awareness.
When considering awareness, it is clear that man is more aware of his surrounding than animals. Man is conscious of his parents, grand-parents and other relatives while animals in general may not be so conscious about some of the complex relations that they may have. Most animals’ behaviour is driven by their immediate sensory needs while most human behaviour is driven by etiquette and social norms rather than sensory demands. The concept of correctness and fairness has crept in - this can be termed 'consciousness'.
When a hungry animal sees food, it will not wait for its frail parents or grand-parents to eat first before it starts eating; however, with most humans, we would distribute the food so that the frail receive a fair share of the food. This highlights the better consciousness instilled in humans.
But if one does not pay regards to these 'higher' human qualities then the Guru reminds us: "Those who do not serve the Primal Being, and do not reflect upon the Word of the Shabad - do not call them human beings; they are just animals and stupid beasts" (SGGS p1418).
However, consciousness does not stop with material needs; many other things have to taken into consideration - emotional needs, moral support, community welfare, social cohesion, global well-being, etc.
Meditation - a way better awareness
Meditation is a way to improve ones awareness of the world and to become better equipped to play a better, more finely tuned and fairer role in life. The essential attitude for correct meditation is one of listening. To listen clearly one must subdue the level of interference that is exerted on ones mind in our daily life; to still the mind and to listen to the "internal vibrations" of the mind.
Without this internal stillness of the mind, listening clearly is impossible. Its like trying to teach quantum mechanics to someone while there are very loud thunder storms all around - a completely impossible task!
Once a state of tranquillity has been reached and the chaos of everyday turbulence of random thoughts has been subdued from the mind, only then can one listen to the internal vibrations of the mind and soul. In this stillness one can tune into the natural vibration of nature - the need and requirements of the Universe.
In Sikhi, this vibration is referred to as Naam - or even God - Waheguru. So the Sikh masters require the Sikh to recognise this energy of Nature and recognise this within the person's own mind. The Sikh Gurus asks the Sikh to instil the name of the Lord within his/her mind. As Guru Ram Das says: "Listen, O mind: meditate on the Name of the Lord, Har, Har." (SGGS p1337).
Many consider God to be an all-knowing super-conscious Being; others consider God to be indefinable, not a Being at all. One needs to replace the chaos of random uncontrolled thoughts in the mind by only one thought - the remembrance of the Lord's name; the pure love for the Creator. "The minds of those who listen to the Lord's Name are drenched with bliss; I worship their feet continually. (1)" (SGGS p1135).
Once this pure state of tranquility is present in the mind, the realization of the oneness of the universe becomes known. We must learn to listen to the deep voice within our "inner" mind because as Guru Nanak states in Japji sahib, "Within the mind are gems, jewels and rubies, if you listen to the Guru's Teachings, even once" (SGGS p2)
The mind must be kept totally receptive, because we can’t think our way into deep meditation. Nor, indeed, can you think your way to true guidance and inspiration. You can only receive wisdom: you cannot concoct it.
Recognise the truth within
A truth must be perceived in that calm awareness which is super-consciousness. Meditation, then, is not creating answers: It is perceiving them. And this is the secret of true guidance. The stilled mind will be able to start functioning properly and one become more aware of the reality around us.
Most people seldom listen. They 'listen' while thinking, when can I interrupt and what can I say. They’re like an out-of-tune musical instruments. Because they no longer are able to tune into their own essential nature, their inter-actions with life and other people produce only discords. They are deaf to the symphony of sounds in the world around them. They are deaf to other people, for they are more interested in speaking their own minds.
Listening deeply is necessary
They behave as though perpetually campaigning for their own ideas. However, Guru Arjan Dev reminds us that, "Those who listen with their mind and ears to the Lord's meditative remembrance, are blessed with peace at the Lord's Gate, O mortal. ||1||Pause||" (SGGS p200). So if you wish to obtain peace in this life and later, then you need to remove the randomness in the mind and replace it with love for God's name — listen to the wisdom of wiser folks!
To understand what meditation is we must learn to listen to what is, and not keep insisting on what we think it ought to be. We must try to tune in to things as they are. Meditation is the opposite of imposing your will on the world. Try to relinquish, even for just a few minutes, the process of concocting plans and projects for the future. Be more, not less, conscious.
Guru Arjan Dev tells us, that we forget the Lord and indulge in our plans and schemes: "They do not know the One who created them; they think up all sorts of schemes and plans." (SGGS p297). For true connection with the Creator, one has to break this constant loop about our personal schemes and plans that are perpetually going round in our minds.
Be super-tuned, super-concious
Super-consciousness is a state of dynamic awareness. Many people have had glimpses of this state during moments of inner stillness, or during sleep. Meditation is a means of attuning the mind to super-consciousness, and eventually entering that state. All that is needed to reach that level of awareness is to disperse the fog of mental restlessness.
In meditation, by lifting one's eyes upward towards the point between the eyebrows, a point known as the tenth gate, while in a state of deep calmness and relaxation, you will, in time, become fully aware of that highest aspect of your being. As the Guru Granth Sahib informs us, "The Yogi draws the breath upwards, and opens the Tenth Gate" (SGGS p905) and also "In the Tenth Gate, the Primal Lord, the unknowable and infinite dwells; the unseen Lord reveals Himself. ||3||" (SGGS p1033)
The more deeply and consciously receptive you become; the deeper and more satisfying will your meditation be. By receptivity, you will begin to understand your connection with all Life. For we all are but ripples on the great ocean of existence. Our appearance of separateness is an illusion, merely produced by ego-consciousness, and reinforced by our attachment to little preoccupations.
Travel to the centre of your mind
We are far more than the individual life drama we find ourselves in. In our greater reality, we are the ocean of life itself. By receptivity of feeling and sympathy, as well as thought, you will develop intuition, the hallmark of super-consciousness. "Those who speak and listen to the Lord's Name, all find peace. Those who believe in it, obtain the supreme treasure. ||4||4||" (SGGS p798)
Meditation is a state of intense awareness achieved by stilling and concentrating the thought. It is a journey to the centre of our being, a process so perfectly natural that we don’t have to learn how to meditate. Rather, we have to unlearn those habits and attitudes that keep us from experiencing our natural state of expanded awareness.
We simply need to still the restlessness which, like static on a radio, prevents us from hearing clearly our own natural “programme”. Deeper states of meditation come automatically as we peel away the layers of tension and attachments that prevent us from being more aware.