In my last blog I pointed out that decades of unchecked mental chatter have caused our minds to whirl with incredible momentum. Our unchecked thoughts force us to live in a cacophony of wild conjectures, frustrated desires, unmet ambitions, unrequited love and constantly changing likes and dislikes.
You cannot slow down this torrent by a daily meditation practice or going off on occasional retreats. The best these accomplish is to slightly lessen the pace of increase of momentum.
So, what can we do to escape the flagellation of our monkey minds?
I first came across the solution in a memoir by The Pilgrim. And it was confirmed and corroborated by Ramana Maharshi and Annamalai Swami and Nisargadatta Maharaj and many other sages.
And it now makes visceral sense to me.
Nobody knows who The Pilgrim was. He roamed Siberia in the mid nineteenth century and his worldly goods were a knapsack on his back, some dry bread and a copy of the bible. His woolen coat was torn. He had a dislocated shoulder and no doctor to set it right so he lived with the pain.
Despite this, he lived in an exalted spiritual domain that we can only dream of reaching. His memoir was translated in the early twentieth century and straightaway became a spiritual classic. It is available as The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way and there are many translations.
In the very first page of the manuscript the Pilgrim describes the time he heard the injunction to “pray without ceasing” and how it instantly grabbed him. He knew that in this instruction was the answer to his spiritual dilemma. He just didn’t know how to do it.
He asked for help from learned men, priests, abbots of monasteries and anyone who seemed to be on a spiritual path. And one day he got his answer. “Ceaseless interior prayer is a continual yearning of the human spirit towards God. To succeed in this consoling exercise we must pray more often to God to teach us to pray without ceasing. Pray more, and pray more fervently. It is prayer itself which will reveal to you how it can be achieved unceasingly; but it will take some time.”
And in the late twentieth century Annamalai Swami said “Self-inquiry must be done continuously. It doesn’t work if you regard it as a part-time activity. You are immersed in ignorance. You are habituated to it. All your deeply rooted beliefs, all your patterns of behavior reinforce ignorance and strengthen the hold it has over you. This ignorance is so strong, so deeply enmeshed in your psychological structures, it takes a massive effort over a long period of time to break free from it. The habits and beliefs that sustain it have to be challenged again and again.”
And Annamalai Swami adds similar encouragement, “When you have become one with the Self, a great power takes you over and runs your life for you. It looks after your body; it puts you in the right place at the right time; it makes you say the right things to the people you meet. This power takes you over completely.”
So what are you to do?
It is simple, but not easy. It requires effort and perseverance.
Keep up your meditation practice. Go on retreats whenever you can. Recognize that this is necessary but not sufficient. Constantly, constantly, constantly reflect that you are not the body-mind-intellect complex that you mistakenly identify with. You are Pure Spirit manifesting as this complex. Observe the drama that is playing out. Enjoy it thoroughly, but know that it is a drama and you are beyond it.
And eventually you, like the Pilgrim, will reside in the spirit. Don’t give up in despair when the going is arduous. This is a sure path, but not an easy one.
And this is how you dissipate the momentum of the flywheel of your mind.