A Million Thoughts is the third book I have read by Om Swami. I have enjoyed this one too like his earlier two book – The Ancient Science of Mantras and From Mind Full to Mindful – Zen wisdom from a Monk’s bowl.
What I enjoy reading about Om Swami is for his simple style of writing. He begins with a story that subtlety conveys the point he wants to make and then he goes on to elaborate his point. He ends with practical notes on what can the reader do to proceed on the path of meditation. Then gives easy steps to follow, pointing out the usual pitfalls and the preparation that one needs to make before achieving any results.
Along the way, Om Swami shares his own experience of meditating in the Himalayas. For the rational modern mind, he quotes numbers liberally. He talks about 18+ hours of meditation in a day and thousands of hours put together over time. In his own way, he makes you aware of the ardent journey it can be, lest you think it is as easy as closing your eyes and sitting in a certain posture.
Love this quote from the book:
The silence of the mind is the outcome of a good meditation and silence of speech is a hallmark of a great meditator.
He begins the book by telling the reader what the meditation is not, and then defining what it is. Then helps you prepare for meditation by focussing on attention, posture, concentration, mindfulness, alertness. He talks about different types of meditation, pointing out the subtle differences between them. He then tells you the challenges that you would meet on the way like stray thoughts, restlessness, dullness, emotions. Before that, he tells you the things that will help you meditate better like truthfulness, gratitude, empathy, humility, and faith.
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The part of ‘A Million Thoughts’ that I enjoyed most is when he talks about:
- Ekagrata or Concentration
- Trataka or concentration
- Shravana or Listening
- Sankalpa or Resolve
- Mauna or Silence
- Ekanta or Solitude
- Tyaga or Letting Go
He gives practical steps to follow these 7 things. If you live in India, none of these would be strangers to you. You have probably seen them sometime somewhere being practice. They help you stabilize your mind slowly and steadily.
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I also liked his idea of keeping a meditation journal. Keeping a journal to keep track of anything helps you progress well and be aware of the gaps in your efforts.
Nine Stages of Bliss
The book ends with a glimpse of the nine stages of the bliss that you will experience on the path of meditation. This is like a carrot that is dangled in front of you as you are about to put down the book. The cherry on top is his own experience of living in a Kuti in the Himalayas with rats and other creepers running all around. A dose of mysticism comes when he tells you that rats never disturbed his bedding or his mandala on paper that he was using for his meditation.
All the heavy-duty stuff on meditation is interspersed with nuggets of wisdom from different scriptures. The zen stories seem to be Om Swami’s favorite and he retells them with a lot of passion.
Om Swami tells you difficult to understand subjects with ease. It is very easy to follow his words. However, you must remember that you have to follow your own path to meditation. It is easy to read about it; makes you feel good. However, to taste the bliss it promises, you must get up early morning, find a quiet corner, sit in solitude and let your mind focus on whatever you choose to focus it on.
Go, Read it.