The history of meditation is as old as the history of civilization in India. Meditation masters like Buddha popularized different aspects of meditation, from time to time. They catered to the spiritual needs of the society based on contemporary circumstances. Society was prosperous when Buddha took birth in India. He and his followers reinfused the power of meditations back into a ritual bound society. The world today recognizes Buddha as the proponent of meditation for the masses.
The Heart Sutra text exlains Buddha’s meditation philosophy in a nutshell. TheVulture’s Peak in Rajagrih, Bihar, India is the birth palce of the Heart Sutra. Buddha explained the philosophy of the great void of the heart or Nirvana on this peak. The idea of Nirvana or void appears to contradict the idea of divinity pervading the universe per Vedic tradition. There is no contradiction however when we look a bit deeper.
A void meditation technique was known from an earlier time. The Vigyan Bhairav text which lists 112 meditations techniques contains a reference to meditating on the Void. This text mentions Void or शून्यं to be the nature of existence everywhere including within one’s own heart. Equanmity can arise when one contemplates of this fact per this verse.The authors of the Vigyan Bhairav text attribute these techniques to a conversation between Parvati and Shiva, A reference to Shiva and Parvati alludes to the timeless nature of these techniques. Shiva is in perpetual meditation until the the time of dissolution per stories from the Purana.
Sri Sri Ravishankar, the contemporay master on meditation, has popularized meditation as the solution for the problem of stress in society. He is able to decode the Vigyan Bhairav text through his keen insight into the approach of ancient meditation masters. I was fortunate to gain a first hand experience of his skills when I recently attended his program in Los Angeles. He spoke about the beauty of the following Sutra and guided us into a profound meditation based on it. His 2018 tours are centered around the wisdom in the Vigyan Bhairav text.
पृष्टशून्यं मूलशून्यं हृच्शून्यं भावयेत्स्थिरम् |
युगपन्निर्विकल्पत्वान्निर्विकल्पोदयस्त्ततः || 45 ||