Welcome to our circle! We have two analogies today–chariots and mountains. One is active and the other is passive. My purpose is to broaden our perspective on awareness, meditation, yoga, and to cultivate objective curiosity (sakshi bhav/witness). Links to meditation using the allegory of a mountain are posted below.
Imagine yourself riding in a glorious chariot, or a more plebeian horse carriage. One horse gets distracted by the clover grass and veers off to feast, another smells something intriguing and peels away to explore, the third horse is startled by a falling branch, the fourth by gusts of wind, and the fifth is irritated by a boisterous group of people. The carriage starts creaking, swaying as the horses try to scatter and move wildly off the path. What is your experience as a rider?
Then think about the ride when the horses are moving in rhythm, at the same pace, managing the twists and turns, adjusting going uphill and downhill. The ride becomes pleasant, much smoother. If a horse should veer off and the carriage goes off-track, the driver is instantly aware and reins in the horses, bringing the carriage back on the path.
This is the analogy for meditation and its relevance to our lives.
“May we know the Nachiketa fire, which is like a bridge to the followers of the path of action…
Know this Self to be the rider, the body to be the chariot, the intellect to be the charioteer, and the mind to be the reins.
The senses are the horses, and the sense objects are the path on which they run. One who is united with the Self, the senses and the mind, is called the enjoyer.
One who does not have right knowledge or who has an undisciplined mind enjoys having controlled senses, just as a charioteer enjoys driving trained horses.”
Source: part one: chapter three The Pursuit of Power and Freedom: Katha Upanishad with translation and commentary by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
Did other philosophies or cultures use the chariot analogy in a similar way? Next time, we will talk about the chariot in a different context. What was the significance and origin for the title of the wonderful movie “Chariots of Fire”? I do not make any claims to understanding this, or its context, and am simply struck by the wording. Perhaps those of you who are knowledgeable about this will explain it to me.
“And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” The phrase has become a byword for divine energy.
Every time the mind wanders, there has to be awareness that it has wandered from its focal point (breath, mantra, visualization). Again and again, the mind is reined in gently, patiently, lovingly, back to its focal point. In this way the mind is trained to rein in the senses. It is the practice of meditation.
At another level of yoga (and here it is the path of meditation), the awareness is trained to stay on the path of sushumna nadi (roughly said to correspond to the central nervous system in the spinal cord–balancing the ida and pingala nadis (the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems). Sushumna is also considered to be Mount Meru within the body–the stable mountain midst the churning ocean of life. The bridge of fire is this sushumna lighted and awakened by the active divine energy or kundalini shakti that arises and ascends from mooladhara to sahasrar at the crown of the head.
You can do one of two meditations linked below, or both.
Till we meet again…