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Distractions and a Monkey

I would like to continue on the series of interesting sections of the books I have translated for Professor DeRose. This is from a book called Meditation and this is a very interesting section talking about why it is important to learn to meditate and what it can do for you. 

The mind is a mechanism fuelled by distraction

The mind feeds on variety. It demands fun, distraction, diversion, and digression. This is why novelty sells. This is also why, when we are studying or working for a long time, our mind demands a break so it can be distracted by something. And if we do give it this break, the mind will function much better once it returns to the activity that it had focused on.

The technique of meditation consists in maintaining the mind concentrated on a single object, depriving it of variety, novelty, fun. With this, its fuel will gradually become scarce. In a given moment the mind will stop. This is what we wanted: chitta vritti nirôdhah. As the mental level becomes unavailable, even for a moment, consciousness uses a subtler channel: the intuitional.

Rámakrishna and the monkey

Rámakrishna was a wise Hindu sage of the tantric lineage (White Tantra, dry path). He lived in India between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. His cultural contribution to the world was so significant that, in 1974, on the date of his birthday, the 18th of February, Brazil’s biggest newspaper published a full page article covering his life.

Rámakrishna used to compare the human mind to a restless monkey, that had drunk alcohol, that was stung by a scorpion and, to top it off, had been set on fire!

If we are going to attain success, we first must put out the fire (pratyáhára); then, cure the scorpion’s venom (dháraná). Next, we need to remove the alcohol (dhyána); and, finally, remove the monkey itself (samádhi). The removal of the monkey corresponds to the removal of our animal aspect. The act of entering into samádhi, is to remove the animal, it is to transcend the human condition and to climb to a higher evolutionary level.