August 14, 2012 § Leave a comment
Gangaji, in her book, “The Diamond in your Pocket”, invites her readers to stop their search and in just Being recognize their true nature as It reveals Itself to Itself. In chapter 20 she outlines what she means by stopping, describing it as allowing thoughts to arise and fall without becoming involved with their story. She states if you make the choice not to follow the endless stream of thoughts the mind will stop and there will remain silence, your true face, God, Existence or Pure Consciousness, whatever tag you prefer to give the Nameless.
In Tibetan yoga there are three processes that parallel Gangaji’s description of stopping. The first follows the initial attempts of the yogin to stop all thinking. When he realizes his attempts have only produced more thoughts he reaches the first stage of mental quiescence, described in W.Y. Evans-Wentz’s “Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines” as the yogin looking on mentally unperturbed as if he were on the bank of a river watching the on-going thoughts flow by.
The second process is one wherein the yogin makes no attempts to stop thoughts but remains indifferent to whatever form or shape they become. In spite of the apparent need to let thoughts arise and fall as they will there is still an active effort in this phase to monitor thoughts. Specifically, the yogin does not allow his thoughts to dwell on specific pleasures or pains and when it appears this is happening he will make an effort to move past these fixations.
As the practice of letting thoughts arise and fall continues there comes a point when they cease to arise and the mind achieves a state of passive tranquility and one-pointedness. As this state is prolonged through progressive mediation the Middle State of Quiescence is achieved which is described as a calm flowing river.
The third process begins with altering between the first two, at times making the effort to stop thoughts, at other times allowing them to arise and fall with indifference. It then moves on to undistracted awareness and then is described as leaving the mind like a little child who looks on with intense mental alertness at the frescos on a temple wall. The “frescos” are ecstatic states where visions arise that the yogin is directed not to hold onto or inhibit. He is merely to look on as a child would at frescos, with intense interest but no attachment. Evans-Wentz compares this level of meditation to the western mystics state of Illumination. But Illumination is only the half-way point of the mystic path which ends in the union of the higher and lower states of consciousness in active daily life.
It’s clear that in Tibetan yoga there are various levels of “stopping”, or just watching thoughts flow without becoming attracted or repelled, that Gangaji could be referring to in her writings. At any one of these points a state of quiescence, each deeper than the preceding, can arise. The meditator needs to be cautioned, however, not to let the first stop on the Path be his or her last. There are deeper levels of realization and not going onward may result in the loss of the first glimpses of true Quiescence.
Having pointed out the need not to stop on the path it nevertheless needs pointing out that there is an essential truth to Gangaji’s directive to stop the search for enlightenment. But it must be understood in the context that to “stop” means to cease trying to objectify or conceptualize your true nature. There is no thought that can contain that which comprehends all thought, so it is pointless to try and find one. Your true nature cannot be conceptualized, only Realized. And the way to do that is to set the stage for the Realization by a meditation that culminates in giving up everything, even the meditation, and just coming to a stop.