BODY-PERCEPTION---THE ART OF AWAKENING ENERGY WITHIN
The awakening of energy is the goal, the body the means thereof.
Can a boatman cross to the other shore without the boat?
Observe the body fully! is the simple exhortation.
Turn the mind inwards, let it not turn outwards again!
With attention duly centred on every part with deliberation,
There is constant experiencing of sensation without any obstruction.
Without inner cleanliness the goal is never reached;
Extraversive consciousness can never fruitful be!
Of that which has a goodly exterior, observe the inward nature!
Transcend like and dislike, to see yourselves as you are!
Q. A sadhak's goal is to come to know himself, to achieve inner bliss. In order to find one's soul one has to discipline oneself. How far can body-perception be helpful in the fulfillment of this objective? Is it possible to experience spiritual power through the body?
Ans. In the practice of sadhana, the body's role is great. Just as it is impossible to reach the upper storey without ascending the staircase, similarly without first disciplining the body, self-realisation is not possible. It may be argued that if one can get a lift, why bother about the staircase? One may straightway jump into self-realisation. But then to how many people is the lift available? Even if the lift is available, electricity may fail and one may find oneself tucked up, in a void. Similarly, the straight and instant path to self-realisation is rarely available. And even then, if some impediment offers itself, who is going to rescue one? Bahubali wanted self-realisation right away. His sadhana was also remarkable. Yet such a hurdle came his way that, though near the goal, he could not attain it. The sadhavis Brahmi and Sundri offered him an insight. Thereupon, Bahubali understood the cause of impediment. He corrected himself and the obstacle was removed. Every particle of his being was aglow with Enlightenment. But then all cannot be Bahubali nor is the help of Brahrni and Sundri available to all, nor can all jump straight into self-realisation. Therefore, a sadhak should move forward along the prescribed route supported by the prescribed technique.
One comes across many strange notions about the body. According to these, the body is unholy, a factor of defilement: it is devoid of any essential element and is, therefore, renounceable. But this is an exclusive prejudice. The fact is that the body is only a medium. It can be used both rightly and wrongly. Lord Mahavir compares the body to a boat:
The body is like a boat. The soul is the boatman.
Life is like an ocean. The great objective is liberation.
Those desiring liberation can cross the ocean
with the help of the boat.
Just as a boat made of logs proves useful in crossing over the ocean, simiarly, the aid of the body-boat is necessary for crossing over the ocean of life. The basis of all kinds of sadhana is the body. The question is how to utilize it? He who knows the art of utilizing the body can make it yield its special energy which he can then use for liberation.
Q. What do you mean by the art of utilization? If a man has energy, he can utilize it. But if energy is lacking then however accomplished a man may be he has nothing to work on. Will you kindly elaborate on it a little?
Ans. This is best illustrated by a story. A merchant used to visit many countries in connection with his business. Once he found himself in a country where there were no milk animals like cows or buffaloes. So the next time he visited the country, he took with him a cow. In order to win the king's favour he usually sent him gifts. Besides valuable objects, among his gifts were milk, curd, butter, milk-preparations like rabri and khoya, and other delicacies. The king found these eatables to be very delicious. The businessman was a clever guy. Through his gifts, he secured for himself many concessions and his business flourished. After a few months, he set about returning to his own country. The king did not like the idea of his leaving for home. Where would he get those delicious milk products after the man's departure? The king even indirectly hinted at it on the occasion of' the merchant's last visit. In the hope of future gain, the merchant presented the cow to the king and told him that all the delicacies he had brought him earlier came from that animal.
The merchant departed. The king asked some of his men to look after the cow and he directed them to bring to him immediately whatever that animal might yield. As per the king's command, the king's servants, carrying gold and silver vessels, stood beside the cow. After some time, the cow urinated. One servant advanced with the silver vessel in his hand and collected the urine and went straight to the king. The king looked at the yellow liquid in the vessel and observed, "The merchant always brought white things. May be this is something special." Saying so, he filled a small bowel and raised it to his lips. He had hardly drunk two draughts of that foul smelling saltish liquor, when he began to fret and fume. Before he could say anything, another page brought him cowdung on a golden platter. The king said to himself, "May be this fresh substance is o.k. and he put a spoonful of it in his mouth. He felt so nauseated as to immediately spit it out. Even a lot of gargling with fresh water failed to remove altogether the astringence of the tongue.
The king was beside himself with anger. He commanded his men to arrest the merchant and present him in the court immediately. How dare he make fun of the king! What a fraudulent person! The king's men sent in search of the merchant caught him while he was still in the king's territory, and brought him to the court. For once the merchant was nonplussed. But when he came to know the real situation, he could not help being mentally amused at the ignorance of the king and his workers. The severe glance and bitter words of the king did not disturb his equanimity. With great humility, he said, "O king I couldn't deceive you even in a dream. Still my fault has been that I did not acquaint you with the technique of milking." By this time, the king's anger was all spent. His curiosity was aroused. The merchant explained at length everything from providing the cow with feed and water to the technique of milking and preparing various milk products. Thereafter the servants of the king looked after the cow well.
This is only a tale. We need not go into how true it is. But the moral is clear. It is not given to every man to have an understanding of the available energy and to utilize it. The river of energy flows on and a man does not know how to exploit it. Body-perception is the means of realising the power of the soul. He who succeeds in tapping and exploiting this inexhaustible source, makes great progress in the field of sadhana. Let the sadhak of preksha meditation collect energy and utilize it to achieve his goal. For this it is necessary for him to understand very well the process of energy-collection. One who does not know how to tap this energy, cannot come by it.
Q. Kindly tell us in simple and clear words what the process of body-perception is?
Ans. The first and foremost thing is the withdrawal of the mind---to withdraw it from the external phenomena and turn it inwards, and to ensure through regular practice that during the meditation session, it does not once again turn outwards. After this preliminary starts body-perception proper. From the toe to the top of the head, or from the top, of the head to the toe, attention should be focussed on every part of the body, and all the sensations, vibrations, all the changes and movement going on in the body should be observed. The inner sensations should be observed more closely. Observation here means experiencing feeling out. The eyes should remain closed. Just as an injection is given and the medicine diffused deep inside the body, similarly, in feeling out the sensations within, in observing them dispassionately without attachment or aversion, the mind becomes introversive, and inner purification ensues.
Q. Does detaching the mind, turning it inwards, gradually lead to greater concentration in meditation or does the sadhak also have some unique experience?
Ans. The direct experiencing that takes place in moments of introversion, is not possible in a state of extraversion. Generally, a man cannot even imagine the great world of joy, the innumerable felicities within, because our acquaintance is limited merely to the outer world and its pleasant sensations. We do not know the inner world at all. The cause of this non-acquaintance with the inner world is the waves of attachment and aversion inundating our life. Until these settle down, there can be no inner experiencing. Acharya Pujyapad says: "A sadhak whose mind is not ruffled by the waves of attachment and aversion can perceive the soul which is invisible to others".
Our consciousness is like a tranquil pond. If a small stone is thrown into a pond, it becomes rippled. Similarly our mind, affected by the waves of attachment and aversion, becomes wavering and unsteady. To maintain its tranquillity, the mind must turn inwards.
If we look at it from the physiological point of view, our body is a big factory. The outermost part of the body is the skin. While practising body-perception, one first gets hold of the vibrations on the surface. The vital current of meditation flows along the skin. The stirrings or electrical vibrations of the life-force felt all along the skin are because of it. After one has grasped those stirrings and vibrations, it becomes natural to experience at a deeper level the vibrations and sensations beneath the skin. To perceive these at a deeper and still deeper level---this constant experiencing is body-perceptioin.