(a) What Is Meditation
1. Meditation is the flow of continuous thought on one thing or God or Atman. Meditation is the keeping up of one idea of God alone always like the continuous flow of oil (Taila-dharavat). Yogins call this ‘Dhyana.’ Jnanins term this ‘Nididhyasana.’ Bhaktas style this ‘Bhajan.’ Concentration is fixing the mind on a point or object, either internal (in the body) or external (on any outside object or image). Meditation follows concentration. In Dhyana all worldly thoughts are shut out from the mind. The mind is filled or saturated with Divine thoughts, with the Divine Glory, the Divine Presence.
2. Have a separate meditation-room under lock and key. Do not allow anybody to enter the room. Keep it holy. Burn incense in the morning and evening. Keep a photo of Lord Krishna, Siva, Rama, Devi or your Ishta Devata or Guru. Place your Asana (seat) in front of the picture. Keep some books also such as the Gita, the Ramayana and other scriptures. When you repeat the Mantra or the Name of the Lord, the powerful vibrations will be lodged in the ether of the room. In six months’ time you will feel peace and purity in the atmosphere of the room. Whenever your mind is disturbed by worldly influence, sit in the room and repeat the Name of the Lord for half an hour; then you will find an entire change in the mind immediately. Practise and feel the soothing spiritual influence yourself. Nothing is like spiritual Sadhana. You will find a local Mussoorie, Himalayas, in your own house.
3. Solitude and intense meditation are two important requisites for Self-realisation. The banks of the Ganga or the Narmada, Himalayan scenery, lovely flower-garden, sacred temple—these are the places which elevate the mind in concentration and meditation. Have recourse to them.
4. A solitary place, spiritual vibratory conditions as at Uttarkasi, Rishikesh, Badri Narayan, a cool place and temperate climate—these conditions are indispensably requisite for concentration of mind. Just as the salt melts in water, the Sattvic mind melts in silence during meditation in Brahman, its Adhishthana (substratum).
5. Get up at 4 in the morning in Brahmamuhurta. It is very favourable for spiritual contemplation and to start worship of God. In the early morning the mind is calm pure and quite refreshed after slumber. The mind is like a blank sheet of paper and comparatively free from worldly Samskaras (mental impressions). It can be moulded very easily at this time. The atmosphere also is charged with more Sattva at this particular time. Wash your hands, feet and face with cold water if you find it difficult to take a bath. This will suffice.
6. Always choose that part of the day or night when your mind is clear and when you are least likely to be disturbed. You can have a sitting just before retiring to bed. The mind will be calm at this time.
7. You can have good meditation on Sundays because this is a holiday, and the mind is free. Do vigorous meditation on Sundays. You can have good meditation when you live on milk and fruits alone or when you fast. Use your commonsense always and try to bring out good result in meditation.
(d) Where to Concentrate
8. Concentrate gently either on the lotus of the heart (Anahata Chakra) or at the space between the two eyebrows (Trikuti). Close your eyes.
9. The seat of mind is Ajna Chakra at Trikuti. The mind can be easily controlled if you concentrate on Trikuti. Bhaktas should concentrate on the heart. Yogins and Vedantins should concentrate at Ajna Chakra.
10. Crown of the head (Sahasrara) is another seat for concentration. Some Vedantins concentrate here. Some Yogins concentrate at the tip of the nose (Nasikagra Drishti). Stick to one centre in concentration. Cling to it tenaciously. If you concentrate on heart, stick to it. Never change it. Guru will select the centre for concentration, if you are a student of faith. If you are a man of self-reliance, you can select it for yourself.
(e) Yogic Diet
11. Take Mitahara, Sattvic diet. Overloading the stomach with rice, vegetables, Dhal and bread brings sleep and interferes with Sadhana. A glutton or a sensualist, a dullard or a lazy man cannot practice meditation. A diet on milk renders the body very, very light. You can sit on one Asana for hours together with ease and comfort. If you feel weak, you can take for a day or two a little rice and milk or barley and milk or any light diet. Those who are in the field of service and who do platform lectures and other intense spiritual propagandic activities need solid, substantial food.
12. Asana steadies the body; Bandhas and Mudras make the mind firm; Pranayama makes the body light; Nadi-suddhi produces steadiness of the mind. Having acquired these qualifications you will have to fix the mind on Brahman. Then only meditation will go on steadily with ease and happiness. For meditation, concentration and Japa, Padmasana or Siddhasana is prescribed. For general health and keeping up of Brahmacharya, Sirshasana, Sarvangasana, Matsyasana, Paschimottanasana are good. A short description of these Asanas and the benefits that are derived by the practice of them are given in Chapter VIII of this book.
2. Benefits of Meditation
1. This world is full of miseries and sufferings. If you want to get rid of the pains and afflictions of this Samsara, you must practice meditation. Meditation is the pathway to Divinity. It is the royal road to the Kingdom of Brahman. It is a mysterious ladder which reaches from earth to heaven (Vaikuntha or Kailasa or Brahman) from error to truth, from darkness to light, from pain to Bliss, from restlessness to abiding Peace, from ignorance to Knowledge, from mortality to Immortality. Meditation leads to knowledge of the Self which brings about the eternal peace, supreme Bliss. Meditation prepares you for the integral experience or direct intuitive knowledge.
2. Truth is Brahman. Truth is Atman. Truth is quite pure and simple You cannot realise the Truth without reflection and meditation. Be silent, Know thyself. Know That. Melt the mind in That.
3. Without the help of meditation you cannot attain knowledge of the Self. Without its aid you cannot grow into the Divine state. Without it you cannot liberate yourself from the trammels of the mind and attain Immortality. If you do not practice meditation, the supreme splendour and faceless glories of Atman will remain hidden from you. Tear the veils that cover the soul by practicing regular meditation. Rend asunder the five sheaths that screen the Atman by constant meditation and then attain the final beatitude of life.
4. The fire of meditation annihilates all foulness due to vice. Then suddenly comes knowledge or Divine Wisdom which directly leads to Mukti or final emancipation.
5. There are many valuable trainings of the mind which are essential to mental culture, for instance, the training of the memory, the cultivation of reflection, discrimination, Vichara or enquiry of ‘Who am I?’ The practice of meditation itself is a potent clarifier of memory. The practice of memory-culture powerfully helps the attainment of meditation.
6. Meditation is a powerful tonic. It is a mental and nervine tonic as well. The holy vibrations penetrate all the cells of the body and cure the diseases of the body. Those who meditate save doctor’s bills. The powerful, soothing waves that arise during meditation exercise a benign influence on the mind, nerves, organs and cells of the body. The Divine energy freely flows like Taila-dhara (flow of oil from one vessel to another) from the feet of the Lord to the different systems of the Sadhaka (aspirant).
7. If you can meditate for half an hour, you will be able to engage yourself with peace and spiritual strength in the battle of life for one week through the force of this meditation. Such is the beneficial result of meditation. As you have to move with different minds of peculiar natures in your daily life, get the strength and peace from the meditation and you will have no trouble and worry then.
8. A Yogi who meditates regularly has a magnetic and charming personality. Those who come in contact with him are much influenced by his sweet voice, powerful speech, lustrous eyes, brilliant complexion, strong healthy body, good behaviour, virtuous qualities and Divine nature. Just as a grain of salt dropped in a basin of water dissolves and becomes distributed throughout the whole water, just as sweet fragrance of jessamine pervades the air, so also his spiritual aura becomes infiltrated to the minds of others. People draw joy, peace and strength from him. They are inspired by his speech and get elevation of mind by mere contact with him.
3. Kinds of Meditation
1. There are different kinds of meditation. A particular kind is best suited for a particular mind. The kind of meditation varies according to taste, temperament, capacity and type of mind of the individual. A devotee meditates on his tutelary deity or Ishta Devata. A Raja Yogi meditates on the special Purusha or Isvara who is not touched by the afflictions, desires and Karmas. A Hatha Yogi meditates on the Chakras and their presiding deities. A Jnani meditates on his own Self or Atman. You will have to find out yourself the kind of meditation that is suitable for you. If you are not able to do this, you will have to consult a teacher or preceptor who has attained Self-realisation. He will be able to know the nature of your mind and the correct method of meditation for you.
2. The mind assumes the form of the object it cognises. Then only perception is possible. A Bhakta constantly meditates on the form of his tutelary deity. The mind always takes the form of the deity. When he is established in his meditation, when he attains the stage of Para-Bhakti or supreme devotion he sees his Ishta Devata only everywhere. The names and forms vanish. A devotee of Lord Krishna sees Lord Krishna only everywhere and experiences the state described in the Gita: “Vasudevah sarvam iti—Everything is Vasudeva (Krishna) only.” A Jnani or a Vedantin sees his own Self or Atman everywhere. The world of names and forms vanishes from his view. He experiences the utterances of the seers of the Upanishads: “Sarvam khalvidam Brahma—All indeed is Brahman.”
3. Meditation is of two main kinds, viz., Saguna (concrete) meditation and Nirguna (abstract) meditation. In concrete meditation the Yogic student concentrates on the form of the Lord Krishna, Rama, Siva, Hari, Gayatri or Sri Devi. In abstract meditation he concentrates the whole energy of the mind on one idea of God or Atman and avoids comparisons of memories and all other ideas. The one idea fills the whole mind.
4. When you see the concrete figure of Lord Krishna with open eyes and meditate, it is the concrete form of meditation. When you reflect over the image of Lord Krishna by closing your eyes, it is also concrete form of meditation but it is more abstract. When you meditate on the infinite abstract light it is still more abstract meditation. The former two types belong to Saguna form of meditation, the latter to Nirguna form. Even in Nirguna meditation there is a concrete form in the beginning for fixing the mind. Later on this form vanishes and meditator and meditated become one. Meditation proceeds from the mind.
5. Saguna meditation is meditation on a Murty or form of the Lord. This is a concrete form of meditation for people of devotional temperament. This is meditation with Gunas or attributes of God. Repeat the Name of the Lord or pure Om. Think of His attributes Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, etc. Your mind will be filled with purity. Enthrone the Lord in the lotus of your heart amidst a blazing light. Mentally think of His feet, legs, chest, head, hands and the ornaments and dress and again come to His feet. Again and again repeat this process.
6. This is one kind of meditation for beginners. Sit on Padmasana in a solitary room. Close your eyes. Meditate on the effulgence in the sun, splendour in the moon, glory in the stars, beauty in the sky.
7. Meditate on the magnanimity of the ocean, its infinite nature. Compare the ocean with the Infinite Brahman, the waves, foams and blocks of ice to the various names and forms. Identify yourself with the ocean. Become silent. Expand. Expand.
8. This is another kind of meditation. Meditate on the Himalayas. Imagine that the River Ganga takes its origin from the icy region of Gangotri, near Uttarkasi, flows through Rishikesh, Benares and enters the Ganga Sagar in the Bay of Bengal. Himalayas, Ganga and the sea, these three thoughts only should occupy the mind. First take your mind to icy Gangotri, then along the Ganga and finally to the sea. Then again take it to the icy Gangotri. Rotate the mind in this manner for 15 minutes.
9. Imagine that there is a fine garden with lovely flowers. In one corner there are Jessamine flowers. In another corner there are beautiful cabbage roses. In the third corner there is the ‘lady of the night.’ In the fourth corner there are Champak flowers. First meditate on Jessamine. Then take the mind to the rose, then to the ‘lady of the night’ and finally to the Champak. Again rotate the mind as above. Do this again and again for 15 minutes. Gross meditation like this will prepare the mind to finer abstract meditation on subtle ideas.
10. Have the figure Om in front of you. Concentrate on this. Do Trataka also with eyes (steady gazing without winking till tears flow profusely). This is both Saguna and Nirguna meditation (with and without attributes). Keep a picture of Om in your meditation room. You can do Puja for this symbol of Brahman. Burn incense, etc., and offer flowers. This suits the modern educated persons.
11. This is abstract meditation on Nirguna Brahman. Repeat Om mentally with Bhava (feeling). Associate the ideas of Sat-chit-ananda, Purity, Perfection, ‘All-joy I am,’ ‘All-bliss I am.’
12. ‘There is no world. There is neither body nor mind. There is only one Chaitanya (pure consciousness). I am that pure consciousness.’ This is Nirguna meditation (without attributes).
13. Meditation on Mahavakyas is tantamount to meditation on Om. You can take up either ‘Aham Brahma Asmi—I am Brahman’ or ‘Tat Tvam Asi—That thou art.’ These are the Mahavakyas or the great sentences of the Upanishads. Meditate on their significance. Deny or negate or throw out the Kosas and identify with the one Essence that lies behind them.
14. Meditate. Purify your mind. Practise concentration in a solitary room. Then squeeze out the Upanishads and the Gita from your brain. Do not depend upon imperfect commentaries. If you are sincere you will understand the real Sankalpa (thoughts) of the Rishis of the Upanishads and Lord Krishna, what they really meant when they uttered those wise Slokas (verses) in scriptures.
15. Unfold the Divinity that is lurking in your heart by concentration and meditation. Do not waste your time. Meditate. Meditate. Do not lose even a single minute. Meditation will remove all the miseries of life. That is the only way. Meditation is the enemy of the mind. It brings about Mano-nasa or the annihilation of the mind.
4. Obstacles in Meditation
1. Laziness (Alasya) and fickleness of mind are two great obstacles in meditation. Light Sattvic diet and the practice of Pranayama will remove laziness. Do not overload the stomach. Walk briskly in your compound hither and thither for half an hour. As soon as you have made a firm resolve, you must carry it out promptly at any cost. You will remove fickleness of mind and develop willpower.
2. Pray. Combat lust and ambition, the two chief obstacles in Yogic practices. Discipline the body, mind and Indriyas. Sit. Abstain from worldly objects. Concentrate. Meditate. Realise.
3. Social nature is good for doing Karma Yoga. But it is extremely bad for practicing Dhyana Yoga. It drags you out. It makes your mind restless. It invites many friends who disturb you in a variety of ways.
4. Rajas and Tamas try to obstruct meditation. The mind that was calm owing to the preponderance of Sattva during the course of meditation begins to tremble and quiver owing to the entry of Rajas in excess. Sankalpas (thoughts) increase in number. Restlessness increases. Thoughts of action manifest. Planning and scheming come in. Take a little rest. Again do Japa. Pray and meditate. Take a little walk.
5. Laya, Vikshepa, Kashaya and Rasasvada are the other four obstacles. Laya is sleepiness. Vikshepa is excessive tossing of mind from one object to another object. This is the excessive monkey-nature of the mind. Kashaya is Goodha Vasana (hidden subtle desires). Rasasvada is the bliss of Savikalpa Samadhi (lower Samadhi). This itself is an obstacle so long as it prevents you from enjoying the Highest Nirvikalpa Bliss. Vichara, discrimination, prayer, Pranayama, further earnestness and struggle in meditation will remove the above four obstacles.
6. Samsaya Bhavana (doubt), Asambhavana (another kind of doubt) and Vipareeta Bhavana (wrong feeling that ‘I am the body’) are three other obstacles. Sravana (hearing of the scriptures) will remove Samsaya Bhavana. Manana (meditation) will remove Asambhavana. Nididhyasana (meditation) and Sakshatkara (realisation) will remove Vipareeta Bhavana.
7. Disease, indifference in the mind, Bhranti, imaginary fear, tendency of the mind to run outside to enjoy objects, drowsiness, falling from a particular elevated state in spiritual Sadhana are some other obstacles. Carefulness, thoughtlessness, increased Vairagya, rest, intense application of Sadhana will obviate these obstacles.
8. Just as clouds screen and obstruct the sun, the cloud of sickness, the cloud of gloom and despair will stand on your way of practice. Even then you must not leave the practice of Japa, concentration and meditation. These small clouds of sickness and despair will pass off soon. Give the suggestion to the mind: ‘Even this will pass away.’ Just as you do not leave your food even for a day, so also you should not leave off your spiritual practice even for a day. The mind is ever ready to deceive you and to stop you from the practice. Do not hear the shrill voice of the mind. Hear the sweet, silent voice of the soul.
9. Never wrestle with the mind. Do not use any violent efforts in concentration. Relax all muscles and nerves. Relax the brain. Gently think of the Lord. Slowly repeat your Guru Mantra with Bhava and meaning. Still the bubbling mind. Silence the thoughts.
10. Make no violent efforts to control the mind, but rather allow it to run along for a while and exhaust its efforts. It will take advantage of the opportunity and will jump around like an unchained monkey first, until it gradually slows down and looks to you for orders. It may take some time to tame down at first, but each time you try, it will come around to you in a short time.
11. If evil thoughts enter the mind do not use your will force in driving them. You will lose your energy only. You will tax your will only. You will fatigue yourself. The greater the efforts you make, the more the evil thoughts will return with redoubled force. They will return more quickly also. The thoughts will become more powerful. Be indifferent. Keep quite. They will pass off soon. Or substitute good counter thoughts (Pratipaksha Bhavana method), or think of the picture of God and the Mantra again and again forcibly or pray.
12. Dash cold water in the face to drive off drowsiness. Stand up for 15 minutes. Or lean upon an improvised swing for 10 minutes and move yourself to and fro. Do 10 or 20 mild Kumbhaka Pranayamas. Do Sirshasana or Mayurasana. Take only milk and fruits at night. By these methods you can combat sleep. Stroll about for 10 minutes. Keep light burning if sleep comes.
13. Very often depression comes in meditation in neophytes owing to the effect of previous Samskaras, influence of astral entities, evil spirits, bad company, cloudy days, bad stomach and loaded bowels. It must be removed quickly by cheerful thoughts, a brisk walk, singing, laughing, prayer, Pranayama, purgative and a dose of carminative mixture.
14. When the bee finds itself that its feet are struck in the honey, it slowly licks its feet several times and then flies away with joy. Even so extricate yourself from the mind’s sticking and clinging to this body and children—owing to Raga and Moha (attachment and attraction) through Vairagya (dispassion) and meditation, and fly away with joy from this cage of flesh and bone to the source, Brahman or Absolute.
15. No more words. Enough of discussions and heated debates. Retire into a solitary room. Close your eyes. Have deep silent meditation. Feel His Presence. Repeat His Name Om with fervour, joy and love. Fill your heart with Prema (love). Destroy the Sankalpas, thoughts, whims, fancies and desires when they arise from the surface of the mind. Withdraw the wandering mind and fix it on the Lord. Now Nishtha, meditation, will become deep and intense. Do not open your eyes. Do not stir from your seat. Merge in Him. Dive deep into the innermost recess of the heart. Plunge into the shining Atman (Soul) within. Drink the nectar of Immortality. Enjoy the silence now. I shall leave you there alone. Nectar’s son! Rejoice. Rejoice. Peace. Peace. Silence. Silence. Glory. Glory!
5. Hints on Meditation
1. What does a passionate man do? He repeats the same ignominious act again and again and fills his stomach as many times as he can. What does an aspirant with burning desire for Self-realisation do? He takes a little milk and repeats the process of meditation again and again whole day and night and enjoys the eternal bliss of the Self. Both are busy in their own way. The former is caught up in the wheel of births and deaths (Samsara Chakra), and the latter attains Immortality.
2. A glutton or a sensualist, a dullard or a lazy man cannot practice meditation. He who has controlled the tongue and other organs, who has an acute acumen, who eats, drinks and sleeps in moderation, who has destroyed selfishness, lust, greed and anger, can practice meditation and attain success in Samadhi.
3. Just as you require food for the body, so also you require food for the soul in the shape of prayers, Japa, Kirtan, meditation, etc. Just as you are agitated when you do not get food in time, so also you will be agitated when you do not pray in the morning and evening at the proper time if you keep up the practice of prayer and Japa for some time. The soul also wants its food at the proper time. The food for the soul is more essential than the food for the body. Therefore do your prayers, Japa and meditation regularly.
4. When you are a neophyte in meditation, start repeating some sublime Slokas, Stotras (hymns) for ten minutes as soon as you sit for meditation. This will elevate the mind. The mind can be easily withdrawn from the worldly objects. Then stop this kind of thinking also and fix the mind on one idea only by repeated and strenuous efforts. Then Nishtha will ensue.
5. You must have a mental image of God or Brahman (concrete or abstract) before you begin to meditate.
6. When you start a fire you heap up some straw, piece of paper, thin piece of wood. The fire gets extinguished quickly. You blow it again several times through the mouth or the blow-pipe. After some time it becomes a small conflagration. You can hardly extinguish it now even with great efforts. Even so, in the beginning of meditation, the neophytes fall down from meditation into their old grooves. They will have to lift up their mind again and again and fix it on the Lakshya. When meditation becomes very deep and steady, they get established in God eventually. Then the meditation becomes Sahaja (natural). It becomes habitual. Use the blow-pipe of Teevra Vairagya and intense meditation to kindle the fire of meditation.
7. You will have to note very carefully whether you remain stationary in the spiritual path even after many years of spiritual practice or whether you are progressing. Sometimes you may go downwards also if you are not vigilant and careful, if your Vairagya wanes and if you are slack in your meditation. Reaction may set in. Some practise meditation for a period of 15 years and yet they have not made any real progress at all. Why? This is due to lack of earnestness, Vairagya, keen longing for liberation and intense, constant Sadhana (spiritual practice).
8. During meditation when your mind is more Sattvic you will be inspired. The mind will be composing fine poems and solving some problems of life. Stamp out these Sattvic Vrittis also. This is all dissipation of mental energy. Soar higher and higher to Atman only.
9. You will get the full Ananda of the Divine Glory only when you dive deep, when you merge deep into silent meditation. When you are on the borderland of Divinity or God, when you are at the gate or threshold of God, when you are in the outskirts, you will not get the maximum peace and bliss.
10. Before saturating the mind with the thoughts of Brahman you will have to assimilate the Divine ideas first. Assimilation first and then saturation. Then comes realisation at once without a moment’s delay. Remember the triplet always: ‘Assimilation—Saturation—Realisation.’
11. There is always a complaint amongst the aspirants: “I am meditating for the last 12 years. I have not made any improvement. I have no realization.” Why is it so? What is the reason? They have not plunged themselves in deep meditation, into the innermost recesses of the hearts. They have not properly assimilated and saturated the mind with the thoughts of God. They have not done regular systematic Sadhana. They have not disciplined the Indriyas perfectly. They have not collected all the outgoing rays of the mind. They have not made the self-determination: “I will realise this very second.” They have not given the entire cent per cent of their mind towards God. They have not kept an unceasing flow of Divine Consciousness.
12. Meditate for 2 or 3 hours. If you get tired, take rest for half an hour. Take a cup of milk and then again sit for meditation. Repeat the process of meditation again and again. You can have a stroll in the verandah in the evening. You need not go for a walk when you are meditating seriously. Do not allow the mind to have any worldly thought even for a few minutes. The above method will keep the mind very, very busy and entrap it within a short period. Practise this and you can enter into Samadhi within forty days. Householders can convert a room into a forest and can achieve this end at their very threshold. You will be able to sit continuously even for 14 hours at a stretch after some time.
13. You will have to pass through six stages of meditation and finally you will enter into perfect Nirvikalpa Samadhi or superconscious state. Form-perception and reflex-perception will totally vanish. There is neither meditation nor meditated now. The meditator and the meditated have become one. You will attain now the highest knowledge, eternal and supreme peace. This is the goal of life. This is the aim of existence. This is the final beatitude of life. You are an established sage or illumined Jivanmukta now. You are liberated while living. Hence you are called a Jivanmukta. You are absolutely free from pain, sorrow, fear, doubt and delusion. You have become identical with Brahman. The bubble has become the ocean. The river has joined the ocean and has become the ocean. All differences and distinctions will totally vanish. You will experience: “I am the Immortal Self. All indeed is Brahman. There is nothing but Brahman.”