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Understanding true meditation

Editor

I read with interest the special article, “The Ideal Response to the Phulwama Terror Attack” (ST Feb 19, 2019) and its references to “Transcendental Meditation” (TM). The sentence that caught my eye was the following:

“At one time, meditation was considered “mystical.” Now, doctors routinely prescribe it, because research shows Transcendental Meditation reduces stress and improves health.”

It saddens me to see the same commercialization of Yoga, reduced by a corporeal western society  to a set of stretching exercises, now applied to meditation. It saddens me that the authors use research (instead of wisdom) to arrogate science above the superior truth of mysticism – that they use the term “mystical” with such screeching cynicism. Like Yoga, meditation too has been reified to that which the shallow modern soul can digest – something easy, light, not requiring the arduous labor of true belief and devotion to God, bypassing ethical discipline, perfect chastity, etc.

This begs the question, what really is meditation and should it ever be divorced from God consciousness? Is it simply quietening the breath and stilling the mind? If this is all it is, why pay homage to the image of Swami Vivekananda absorbed in meditation, with little to no consciousness of the external world or his body? Why pay homage to images of the Buddha with his eyes turned inward in deep introspection? Why pay homage to the transcendental experiences of Sri Ramakrishna after years of the deepest meditation through which He communed with the form of the Great Goddess he worshipped? Why flock from all over the world to pay homage to Ramana Maharshi?

TM, it seems to me, dilutes and cheapens the very meaning of the word “transcendental” as experienced by savants east and west. Plato, the great mystic, would have turned in his grave to hear “transcendental” being used in TM.

Real meditation is impossible for most human beings – until they have practiced strict chastity for many years alongside other ethical perfections. Real meditation is dangerous without a proper Guru, because it heightens the lingering impurities of the meditating mind – iniquities that the Guru removes. Real meditation comes after ardent love for God and earnest importunities to the Divine to reveal Itself in the meditating mind. Unlike TM, real meditation demands perfect chastity (many years of unbroken continence). Unlike TM, real meditation comes with profound expiatory powers, transforming forever our minds and bodies.

It saddens me to see India, the hearth and origin of sophisticated forms of meditation, receive TM through postcolonialism and blind westernization – instead of turning to that which keeps India alive, despite modernity – namely the transcendental experiences of our humble silent monks and nuns who receive a vision of God everyday when they meditate.

I asked one such senior monk if meditation is that easy. His reply confirmed my own hunches: “No! Meditation is very difficult.”

Please, let us not cheapen true meditation or direct life-giving mystical communion with the Divine, or the real meaning of “transcendental” as used by Plotinus and the European Platonists –  with TM!

Yours, etc.,

Deepa Majumdar

Via email

 

Laitumkhrah’s fall from grace

Editor,

This is to bring to your kind attention that the footpaths on both sides of the Don Bosco road Laitumkhrah especially from Don Bosco Square to Police Point and also from Don Bosco Square to Dhankheti Point are badly constructed and are now in dilapidated condition. These are footpaths used mainly by school and college going students and also by the general public at large. I have often noticed many school going children and elderly persons fall off the footpaths as they find difficulty in negotiating the potholes in the dilapidated portions along the paths. Moreover, all along this stretch the footpaths are not covered with tiles as was done in the other footpaths of Shillong. In this connection I wish to draw the attention of the PWD, Central Division, Shillong, to attend to these footpaths immediately so that the pedestrians in general and the school going children and the elderly persons in particular will find it easy to walk along the footpaths.

I also wish to draw the attention of the Laitumkhrah Durbar Shnong to the invasion of the hawkers all along the footpaths and streets of Laitumkhrah locality. The pedestrians and vehicles alike find it very difficult to negotiate the footpaths because of these hawkers. The Durbar Shnong in its wisdom can lessen this menace by putting in place proper arrangements and regulations. Laitumkhrah today looks most disorderly and suffocating with all the street hawkers around. Is it too much for the Durbar Shnong of Laitumkhrah to take up the responsibility of ensuring that the Laitumkhrah streets and footpaths are freed of hawkers and properly lighted at night as many portions of this locality are without street lights. The dark night a place dangerous as it encourages anti-social elements to thrive.

Yours etc.,

Philip Marwein,

Via-email.

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