MEDITATION AS LIBERATION
It’s rather amazing that in a time when men have explored the reaches of the planet, walked on the moon, probed the extremities of the solar system, that many scientists now feel that the really mysterious area of man’s universe is the brain.
The human brain, pinkish-grey in colour, with a consistency of porridge, weighs approximately as much as a concise Oxford dictionary. This formidable barrier to scientists consists of some 100,000 million neurons with ten times as many filler cells of 'glia'.
By means of electrochemical reactions between neurons, the brain carries out its work of controlling every aspect of the body, communicating to other people, learning and remembering new and old skills, etc. The speed of reaction of the brain is incredible, sometimes reacting in less than one second to external stimuli such as stepping back to avoid being struck by a car.
Yet the brain is desperately dependent on its senses. A computer can be stopped by a flick of a switch, but the brain countinues processing twenty-four hours per day. In experiments on sensory deprivation, after twenty-four hours deprivation volunteers found themselves hallucinating and unable to accomplish simple tasks. The brain craves for information as the body craves for food. Scientists think that this external addiction to fresh information and experience is the mind’s natural state.
It is within the reach of man to attain a state of permanent peace of mind. Various disciplines assert that it is and such activities as relaxation training, yoga, special diets, psychotherapy, dedication to a community cause, the arts and meditation are among current pursuits of those who seek a complete sense of well being.
What is it that in each of the above-mentioned activities catches public interest today? Why do these pursuits, in particular, those which cut across age, social, racial, and sexual barriers, in nearly every segment of society? The answer is the common element of promise: this way lies the ultimate calm, the peace of mind, a method to still the mind.
People searching for peace, for alternative life styles, be they addicts or intellectuals, living in a continual state of tension or questioning, are particularly susceptible to this promise. While the activities listed are valuable to any person looking for feelings of tranquillity or an alternative life style, they are only useful if applied with determination. Each has a unique power to take the individual out of a state of restlessness and anxiety and lead him to a point where he can control his feelings and their bodily manifestations in a simple, direct and pleasing way. However, each activity has its inherent inadequacies; consider psychotherapy (in its broadest sense). Psychotherapy is a verbal relationship between a professional and client focused on the thoughts, feelings and behaviour of the troubled person. It is essentially two people talking about one person’s problems. The aim of this exchange is to help the client to understand the nature of his problems and to assist him in designing a rewarding and less painful way of life. It is a fact that people do get help from the many forms of psychotherapy, in the sense that they feel better if they are paid attention to, are given a drug (even a placebo), or are afforded a boost in their self esteem by becoming a part of a large movement that presumably has the prestige of science behind it. But at what point this type of help, leads to long term cure is unclear.
According to Rollo May1, a noted American existentialist therapist, an increase in the need for therapy appears in human history whenever there is a breakdown in cultural values. That our times are turbulent is self evident.
Systems of absolute values are giving way to a kind of cultural relativism that disturbs people brought up to believe that blackis always black and white always white. As the behavioural sciences increasingly embrace the relativistic viewpoint and the value system of the physical sciences, they force man to take a new and disturbing look at himself. The more ‘objective’ psychology becomes in its analysis of man, the more it destroys his prior myths and symbols.
There is little doubt that scientific psychology is a major contributor to many of the problems that trouble people today. It seems abundantly clear that we must look to new and perhaps radical ways of conceptualising our problem and seeking remedies for it; At the moment one hope for the future is to be found in meditation. Meditation is more than relaxation training and biogenetics. These two involve admittedly more than exercises, and enable people to get to the source of their anxiety by contacting pockets of tension in the mind and body and releasing them. Similarly hatha yoga, both teaches and demands intense concentration and discipline, as slow motion movements increase blood flows, curb body desires, ease respiration and focus the mind on a rhythmic calm. However, the ultimate concentration wherein the urges of the mind are not merely diverted, but actually stilled, is meditation (Raj Yoga).
Physicists know that man's true nature is energy. Everything that we see exists as energy, vibrating in a particular way. All forms are of the same universal energy that scientists say cannot be created or destroyed. Each is made up of atoms and when an atom is split a clear overwhelming light appears. This light is the pure energy of which everything is made, pure energy before it becomes limited to any one form.
Since we too are composed of atoms, this light must exist within us; in fact it does. By contacting it we touch the essence of our existence, and come to know that the true basis of 'self' is imperishable, continuous. The eternity of life becomes not an intangible concept but a reality, which we have seen, and which we accept in full confidence! The method we use to contact this energy within us is the meditation technique shown to us by Guru Maharaj Ji, called ‘Knowledge.’ The first way that we can experience this energy in meditation is light. Not a symbolic light or feeling of clarity, but an actual light that can be seen beautiful beyond imagination, which soothes away the accumulated tension of body and mind.
Within the human body is a built-in receptor for this divine light of creation. It is the pineal gland, a small organ deep within the brain which resembles a tiny ‘third eye’. Only recently did modern scientists2 dare to speculate upon the functions of this gland and now they say: 1) the stimulated pineal causes energy to flow through the entire body so that we can experience higher levels of consciousness, 2) it causes a maturation of the central nervous system and conceptual processes, lending grace and precision to our movements and allowing us to think more clearly on an abstract level, 3) it allows for the discharge of all drives, that is, it releases us from the domination of hunger, fear, thirst, lust, anger, and pride.
Mounting evidence suggests that all highly developed bodily controls (within the endocrine system) have one master in the brain: the pineal gland. In its position as head of the endocrine system the pineal gland may control our daily health and bodily growth. Beyond that it is implicated with our conception of reality, because the pineal is the only gland which secretes its hormones directly into the brain and cerebro-spinal. fluid. Thus it affects that chemical make-up of the brain which influences our emotions and awareness. What ‘continues to mystify the vast majority of scientists is how a light sensitive organ can be stimulated when it is so far from any external source of light.
Good food, sunshine and plenty of sleep all contribute to health by providing nourishment for the body but meditation changes an infinite source of light energy into chemical hormones which benefit the entire organism. Some followers of Guru Maharaj Ji report that they need less food and sleep when they meditate constantly. Work by Garcia-Swain5 records profound changes in pulse rate, respiration and blood pressure in those meditating on Guru Maharaj Ji’s Knowledge (see illustration). The ability of the meditation to harness energy and to convert it into a form which is accessible to all human beings remains unmatched by any technological invention or therapy.
Various meditation societies have reported successes in their membership in overcoming drug dependence. Unpublished studies of Transcendental Meditation4 for example, indicate success with both drug users and alcoholics.
Meditation on the Knowledge of Guru Maharaj ii (which is based on an internal experience rather than an external mantra like Transcendental Meditation) can be a permanent alternative to the drug experience. It provides the actual inner experience which the drug’ user has’ found in a temporary and dangerous way. The ‘peace which cannot be described’, the ‘high’, or the bliss of the ‘nod’. Such an experience frees the individual from self concern and inspires him to become socially productive and capable of helping others. Furthermore, his experience of this meditation continuously grows with practice, indicating that he will move further and further away from the possibility of falling back into the use of drugs.
People who have received Knowledge have described virtual transformations of their existence, the Knowledge being a solution to their psychological and spiritual problems, transcending drug experiences.
A preliminary drug survey conducted by Shn Hans Humanitarian Services, Melbourne5, of 181 people who had received Guru Maharaj Ji’s techniques of internal meditation, evidenced the following changes in habits of drug use. The sample consisted primarily of people between the ages of 15 and 29, of these, ninety-nine per cent had been practising Knowledge for less than six months, none for more than twenty-two months.
Marijuana: eighty-five per cent of respondents indicated use of marijuana before affiliation and after receiving Knowledge sixteen per cent.
Hallucinogens: Before hearing about Guru Maharaj Ji, thirty-one per cent used hallucinogenics at least once a month, on affiliation thirteen per cent, and after receiving Knowledge six per cent.
Stimulants: twenty-four per cent of respondents used stimulants at least once per month, as compared to one per cent on affiliation. One respondent used stimulants after taking Knowledge. On following up questioning of this respondent it was found he was no longer using stimulants.
Opiates: nineteen per cent indicated use of opiates at least once per month before hearing about Guru Maharaj Ji – on affiliation with Divine Light Mission two per cent; one respondent used opiates five times per month after receiving Knowledge. Of heavy users employing opiates more than twenty times per month, eight indicated such use before meditation and two people reported doing so after.
Respondents were asked to what extent drugs and drug use had influenced their lives before meditation. Of those who answered very much and quite a lot, sixty-eight per cent responded that Knowledge had either completely or significantly altered the role of drugs in their lives.
1. R. May et al, Existential Psychology (New York, 1969).
2. J. Horton, E. Hanzelik, R. Peters, P. Shapiro, Drug Rehabilitation Programme–Treatise (Shri Hans Medical Services, 2039 Broadway, New York, N.Y.).
3. Personal correspondence, Susan Garcia-Swain, Department of Physiology, Baylor University, Waco, Texas.
4. Senate Committee on Crime, Narcotics Research, Rehabilitation and Treatment Hearings (Washington D.C.: U.S. House of Representatives Serial No. 92–i, June 2, 3, 4, and 23, 1971).
5. Drug Survey (Shri Hans Humanitarian Services, 322 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 3065).