Meditation is also known as Astanga yoga, the 8-limbed path of yoga. The eight limbs of Astanga yoga are: yama (self-restraint), niyama (religious observances or canons), asana (posture), pranayama (restraint of breath), pratyahara (control of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (super-conscious state). The traditional teaching is that if we are not secure in any of the first 5, we will be distracted, and not able to concentrate (#6), and thus, not be able to meditate(#7) or attain/experience the super-conscious state (#8). When we are on the path, we may ask or answer questions that deal with any or all of these topics.
The opportunity to share something beneficial about one aspect opens the door to uncovering a truth applicable to all of them. If a seeker asks a question that relates to lets say, controlling the appetite, a teacher may discuss how desires inevitably cause suffering, which is applicable on all of the levels/limbs, and thus be giving 8 "answers" simultaneously. This can be done with a scriptural quote, a parable, a smile, a miracle, or even a joke - in many and any ways.
So, we may come to meditation class and find a "beginner" student asking about something like how to learn to be patient, while another so-called advanced student is asking how to astral travel, and the teacher answers in a way that helps rip the veil of ignorance from both. But on the surface, it may seem that the teacher is having a discussion about a football teams' need for a middle linebacker. The ultimate meditation teacher is within you now and always. The life you are leading is your lesson, and the world you are in is your classroom.
Be a good student. Pay attention. Don't talk in class. Witness your life and the answer you seek will present itself, sometimes in the form of a physical teacher and classroom, sometimes with an intellectual concept, and most commonly with the very common.
There are 4 qualities a student should bring to class.
Just as a child brings their pencils and notebooks to school, be ever prepared for the class that is your life by having these four attributes. To learn more about this, read, go to meditation class, pray, and so on. And perhaps the best thing you can do is to not just talk about it, but actually to meditate.
- The first is being able to discriminate between the eternal and the temporary, the infinite and the finite.
- Secondly, dispassion relative to likes and dislikes.
- Third, Self control in the form of mental, emotional, and physical control from unrighteous actions and the ability to be one-pointed, focused and undistractable.
- The last quality is to have a burning desire to be liberated.
Now, as far as this lesson is concerned, the great Saint, Swami Sivananda, used to say much more and much better by simply saying "Be good, do good", and the not so well know Kir Li Molari would probably say "Words! Words! Words!". But, I hope this has given you something beneficial to meditate on.