Tuesday, March 31, 2015

1 April

Meaning of Karma
Karma is a Sanskrit term that signifies action or deed. Any physical or mental action is karma. Thinking is mental karma. Karma is the sum total of our acts, both in the present life and in the preceding births. 
Karma means not only action, but also the result of an action. The consequence of an action is really not a separate thing. It is a part of the action and cannot be divided from it. The law of karma means the law of causation. Wherever there is a cause, there an effect must be produced. A seed is a cause for the tree, which is the effect. The tree produces seeds and becomes the cause for the seeds. The cause is found in the effect and the effect is found in the cause. The effect is similar to the cause. This is the universal chain of cause and effect which has no end.
No link in the chain is unnecessary. This world runs on this fundamental and vital law. This law is inexorable and immutable. This grand law operates everywhere in the physical and mental planes. No phenomenon can escape from the operation of this mighty law and all other laws of nature are subordinate to this fundamental law.
No event can occur without having a positive, definite cause at the back of it. The breaking out of a war, the rise of a comet, the occurrence of an earthquake or a volcanic eruption, the outbreak of an epidemic, thunder, lightning, floods, diseases of the body, fortune, misfortune, all have their definite causes behind them.
The grand law of causation includes the law of action and reaction, the law of compensation and the law of retribution. All these laws come under one general, all-embracing heading, namely, the doctrine of karma.
If there is an action, there must be a reaction. The reaction will be of equal force and of similar nature. Every thought, desire, imagination and sentiment causes reaction. Virtue brings its own reward; vice brings its own punishment. This is the working of the law of reaction. God neither punishes the wicked nor rewards the virtuous. It is their own karmas that bring reward and punishment. It is the law of action and reaction that brings the fruits. No one is blamed.
The law operates everywhere with unceasing precision and scientific accuracy. The law of action and reaction operates both in the physical and mental planes.

Monday, March 30, 2015

31 March

Threefold Karma
Man is threefold in his nature. He consists of desire or feeling, knowing and willing. These three fashion his karma. He knows objects like chair, tree, etc. He feels joy and sorrow. He wills - to do this, or not to do that.
Behind the action, there are desire and thought. A desire for an object arises in the mind and then you think of ways and means to obtain it. Then you exert to possess it. Desire, thought and action always go together in this process. They are the three threads, as it were, that are twisted into the cord of karma.
Desire produces karma. You work and exert to acquire the objects of your desire. Karma produces its fruits as pain or pleasure. You will have to take birth after birth to reap the fruits of your karmas. This is the law of karma.
Karma is of three kinds, namely, the accumulated works, the works that fructify and the current works. The accumulated karmas have accrued to you from the past. Part of it is seen in the character of man, in his tendencies and aptitudes, capacities, inclinations and desires.
The fructifying karma is that portion of the past karma which is responsible for the present body. It is ripe for reaping and cannot be avoided or changed. It is only exhausted by being experienced. You pay past debts. The karma of current works is that karma which is now being made for the future.
In Vedantic literature, there is a beautiful analogy. The archer has already released an arrow; it has left his hands. He cannot recall it. He is about to shoot another arrow. The bundle of arrows in the quiver on his back is the accumulated work. The arrow he has shot is fructifying work, and the arrow which he is about to shoot from his bow is current work. Of these, he has perfect control over the accumulated and the current works, but he must surely work out his fructifying works. The past which has begun to take effect he has to experience. Fructifying karma cannot be prevented even by the Lord.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

30 March

Nature's Laws
The law of compensation operates everywhere in nature's phenomena. The seed breaks and a large tree arises from the seed. There is no loss in the breaking of the seed. Fuel burns. Fuel is destroyed. But there is heat, in accordance with the law of compensation. Many articles are cooked in the fire on account of the heat.
The law of compensation operates in the mental plane also. It keeps up the balance and establishes peace, concord, equilibrium, harmony and justice in nature. Think deeply, cogitate and reflect. You will see that this law of compensation is operating everywhere in the phenomena of nature. It is inexorable and immutable. No one can defy this relentless and irresistible law. If you do an evil act, you will reap a bad fruit in compensation.
If you take an individual life as an isolated event which begins with birth of the physical body and terminates with its death you cannot find any correct explanation or solution for the affairs of life. You will be groping in darkness and despair. Your present life is nothing, when compared with the whole soul-life. It is momentary - a mere fragment. If you want to find the cause or antecedent for anything, you will have to go deep into the affairs of the eternal soul-life. Then alone there will be perfect balance of cause and effect, antecedent and consequence. Life does not end with the disintegration of this physical body alone. There is reincarnation. There had been countless previous lives also. You will have to take into consideration the widest view of the life of the soul. Then you will find a perfect, satisfactory solution for all the intricate and complicated affairs of life. 
Every wrong action or crime brings its own punishment in accordance with the law of retribution. The law of causation, the law of action and reaction, the law of compensation and the law of retribution - all operate together. He who hurts another man, hurts himself first.
Remember that God is neither partial nor unjust. Remember that God is not responsible for the wealth of one man or the poverty of another. You suffer on account of your own wicked actions. There is nothing chaotic or capricious in this world. Things do not happen in this universe by accident or chance in a disorderly manner. They happen in regular succession and events follow each other in a regular order. There is a kind of definite connection between what is being done now by you and what will happen in the future. Sow always the seeds which will bring pleasant fruits and which will make you happy herein and hereafter.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

29 March

Understand Nature
Every man should have a comprehensive understanding of nature's laws, and their operations. Then he can pull on in this world smoothly and happily. He can utilise the helping forces to serve his ends in the best possible manner. He can neutralise the hostile or antagonistic currents. Just as the fish swims against the current, so also he will be able to go against the hostile currents by adjusting himself properly and safeguarding himself through suitable precautionary methods. Otherwise he becomes a slave. He is tossed about hither and thither helplessly by various currents. Various hostile forces drag him in different corners. He drifts like a wooden plank in a river. He is always very miserable and unhappy although he is wealthy and possesses everything that the world can offer.
The captain of a steamer who has a mariner's compass, who has knowledge of the sea, the routes and the oceanic currents can sail smoothly. Otherwise his steamer will drift here and there helplessly and be wrecked by being dashed against some icebergs or rocks. Likewise, a wise sailor in the ocean of this life, who has a detailed knowledge of the laws of karma and nature can sail smoothly and reach the goal of life positively. Understanding the laws of nature, you can mould or shape your character in any way you like. "As a man thinketh so he becometh", is one of the great laws of nature. Think you are pure; pure you will become. Think you are noble; noble you will become. Think you are a human being; human you will become. Think you are Brahman; Brahman you will become.
He who spreads happiness will always get such favourable circumstances as can bring him happiness. He who spreads pain to others will, doubtless, get such unfavourable circumstances, according to the law of nature, as can bring him misery and pain. Therefore man creates his own character and circumstances. Bad character can be transmuted into good character by means of good thoughts, and unfavourable circumstances can be changed into favourable circumstances by doing good actions. O Ram! You must understand the laws of nature and become wise and happy.

Raja Yoga, Message 17

(The section Benefits of Meditationnow resumes.)
If you can meditate for half an hour daily 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 meditation and you will have no trouble and worry. 
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 quality 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 jasmine pervades the air, so also the yogi's spiritual aura infiltrates into 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. 
Meditation is the only way for attaining immortality and eternal bliss. Those who do not concentrate and meditate are slayers of Atman. They are in fact living corpses and miserable wretches. They are very poor people. They are hopeless misers indeed.
The wise cut asunder the knot of egoism by the sharp sword of constant meditation. Then dawns supreme knowledge of the Self or full inner illumination or Self-realisation. The liberated sage has neither doubts nor delusion. All the bonds of karma are rent asunder. Therefore, be ever engaged in meditation. This is the master-key for opening the realms of eternal bliss. It may be tiring and disgusting in the beginning, because the mind will be running away from the point every now and then. After some practice it will be focussed in the centre. You will be immersed in divine bliss. 
The man who cannot fix his mind in meditation cannot have knowledge of the Self. The unsteady man cannot practise any meditation. He cannot have any intense devotion to knowledge of the Self or any burning longing for liberation or moksha. He who does not practise any meditation cannot possess peace of mind. How can there be happiness for the unpeaceful? 
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 the death of the mind. 
Like attracts like. This is a great law. Entertain good thoughts. Do meditation. You will attract sadhus, yogis and siddhas. You will be benefited by their vibrations. Your new spiritual vibration will attract them! 
Even Indra, who is rolling in abundant wealth, cannot enjoy that bliss which comes to a sage who has a self-centred mind free from desires, who is resting in his own essential nature and who has equal vision for all.
Ignorant people bring a false charge that the sadhus who meditate in caves are selfish. The mahatma who meditates in a solitary cave in the Himalayas helps the world more through his spiritual vibrations than the sadhu who preaches on the platform. When the meditator becomes mindless he pervades and permeates the whole world. Just as sound vibrations travel in the ethereal space, so also the spiritual vibrations of a meditator travel a long distance and bring peace and strength to thousands. 
Learn the science of self-control. Possess a steady mind by constant practice of meditation. Fix your mind upon God. You will have divine life. There will be an inflooding of all divine qualities. All negative tendencies will vanish and all conflicting forces will be reconciled. You will enjoy perfect harmony, undisturbed happiness and abiding peace. 
Great rishis and sages of yore like Yajnavalkya, Uddalaka, etc., acquired the knowledge of the Self — which is a means to secure the highest communion — through intense meditation. 
The attainment of cosmic consciousness is permanent in realised souls. It is like a glimpse in the beginning. Through steady meditation it becomes permanent or natural.
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 practise meditation the supreme splendour and fadeless glories of the Atman will remain hidden from you. Tear the veils that cover the soul by practising regular meditation. By constant meditation rend asunder the five sheaths that screen the Atman, and then attain the final beatitude of life. 
Meditation and Rest 
Fatigue of the senses demands rest. Hence sleep supervenes at night, rhythmically. Motion and rest are rhythmical processes in life. The mind moves about in the avenues of the senses through the force of desires. There is subtle working of the mind in dream also, hence you do not get good rest in sleep. Real rest is secured in meditation, and meditation only. This rest is far superior to the rest that is obtained from sleep. Sound sleep even for half or one hour will suffice for the man who regularly meditates. 
The mind is fully concentrated during meditation. It is far away from objects and very near the Atman. There are no currents during meditation owing to absence of objects. Consequently there is the manifestation of solid, lasting, real spiritual bliss with complete and genuine rest. You must practise meditation, you must feel it yourself. Then you will agree with me. 
You may not enjoy the rest fully in the beginning of the practice, because at the outset there is a good deal of wrestling between the will and innate nature, the old mental tendencies and the new tendencies, old habits and new habits, effort and old conduct. The mind revolts. When the mind is thinned out, when it has reached the thread-like state, you will enjoy good rest in meditation. You can then gradually cut short your sleep to three or four hours. 
Generally, when you have dreamless or deep sound sleep, either you do not remember what you dreamt of, or you fall into absolute unconsciousness which is almost death — a taste of death. But in meditation there is sleep in which you enter into an absolute silence, immortality and peace in all parts of your being, and your consciousness merges into Sat-chid-ananda (existence, knowledge, bliss). You can hardly call it sleep, for there is perfect awareness. In that condition you can remain for a few minutes. It will give you more rest and refreshment than hours of ordinary sleep. You cannot have it by chance. It requires long training. 
Mind and Meditation 
Mind is a power born of the spirit, because it is through mind that God manifests Himself in the differentiated universe of names and forms. Mind is nothing but a bundle of thoughts and habits. Make use of them as an aid in spiritual endeavour. 
There are many terms in the Bhagavad Gita which denote that you will have to give your full mind, entire cent-per-cent, to God. Then only will you have Self-realisation. Even if one ray of mind runs outside it is impossible to attain God-consciousness. 
If you remove the oscillation of the mind you will get one-pointedness of mind, which is a thing unknown to many. Max Muller writes: "One-pointedness of mind is impossible for us (westerners) when our minds are diverted in various directions through newspapers, telegrams, postal communications, etc." It is an indispensable condition in all religious and philosophical speculations, and in meditation. 
In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna prescribes a spiritual practice for removing tossing of the mind: "As often as the wavering and unsteady mind goes forth, so often reining it in, let him bring it under the control of the Self. Abandoning without reserve all desires born of the imagination by the mind, curbing in the aggregate of the senses on every side, little by little let him gain tranquillity by means of reason controlled by steadiness; having made the mind abide in the Self, let him not think of anything." (VI-24,25,26) 
When you begin to sweep a room that was kept closed for six months, various kinds of dirt come out from the corners of the room. Similarly during meditation, under pressure of yoga and through the grace of God, various kinds of impurities float about on the surface of the mind. Bravely remove them, one by one, by suitable methods and counter-virtues, with patience and strenuous efforts. The old vicious habitual desires take revenge when you try to suppress them. Do not be afraid, they lose their strength after some time. You have to tame the mind just as you tame a wild elephant or a tiger. Do not indulge in vicious thoughts which serve as food for the mind. Make the mind self-introspective. Substitute good, virtuous, sublime thoughts. Feed the mind with ennobling aspirations and ideas. Old vicious tendencies will be gradually thinned out and eventually obliterated. 
You must try your level best to keep a serene mind always. Meditation can proceed from a serene mind only. A serene mind is a valuable spiritual asset for you. 
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 and enquiry. The practice of meditation itself is a potent clarifier of the memory. The practice of memory-culture powerfully helps the attainment of meditation. 
Do not wrestle with the mind during meditation. It is a serious mistake. Many neophytes commit this grave error. That is the reason why they soon get easily tired. They get headache and have to get up very often to pass urine during the course of meditation, owing to the irritation set up in the micturition centre in the spinal cord. 
Do not try to drive away the unimportant and irrelevant thoughts. The more you try the more will they return and the more strength will they gain. You will only tax your energy and will. Become indifferent. Fill the mind with divine thoughts. The others will gradually vanish. Build through regular meditation a strong spiritual fortress and a magnetic aura around you which cannot be penetrated even by the worst evil.
Your will should be rendered strong, pure and irresistible by more reflection on the Self, eradication of subtle desires, control of the senses and more inner life. 
In dream also you should begin to gradually exercise control. You should check the mind when it does an evil act. The force of your spiritual practice done in the wakeful state will come to your aid in the dream. This is a sign of your spiritual growth. Watch your dreams carefully. 
What sort of thoughts arise in your mind as soon as you wake up, when you are alone in the room or when you walk in the streets? Are you able to keep up the same state of mind you have during meditation in a closed room when you walk in the street also? Introspect and closely watch your mind. If the mind is perturbed when you walk in the streets you are still weak, you have not advanced in meditation or grown spiritually. Continue the meditation vigorously. (An advanced student will have thoughts of Brahman in his dream.) 
Unless you closely observe the mind you will not find that it is running away. Sometimes you will be imagining that you are meditating, but actually the mind will be either building castles in the air or going into the state of half sleep or deep sleep. 
In a big city there is much bustle and sound at eight p.m. At nine p.m. there is not so much bustle and sound. At ten p.m. it is still reduced; at eleven p.m. it is much less. At one a.m. there is peace everywhere. Even so, in the beginning of yoga practices there are countless thoughts in the mind. There is much agitation and tossing in the mind. Gradually the thought waves subside. In the end all mental modifications are controlled. The yogi enjoys perfect peace. 
When you pass through a market of a big city you will not be able to notice small sounds, but when you sit for common meditation with some of your friends in a quiet room in the morning, you will be able to detect even a little sneezing or coughing. Even so, you are not able to find out the evil thoughts when you are engaged in some work or other, but you are able to detect them when you sit for meditation. Do not be afraid when evil thoughts pass through your mind when you sit for meditation. Do vigorous japa and meditation. They will pass off soon. 
Even if the mind runs outside during your practice, do not bother. Allow it to run. Slowly try to bring it to your centre of concentration. By repeated practice the mind will be finally focussed in your heart; in the Atman, the indweller of your heart, the final goal of life. In the beginning the mind may run out eighty times; within six months it may run seventy times; within a year it may run fifty times; within two years it may run thirty times; within five years it will be completely fixed in the divine consciousness. Then it will not run out at all even if you try your level best to bring it out, like the wandering bull which was in the habit of running to gardens of different landlords for eating grass, but which now eats fresh gram and extract of cotton seeds in its own resting place. 
The Atman is the fountain source of energy. Thinking on the Atman or the source of energy is also a dynamic method for augmenting energy, strength and power. 
Conserve energy by talking little, observing mauna, controlling anger, observing celibacy, practising pranayama and controlling irrelevant and nonsensical thoughts. You will have abundant energy at your disposal by having recourse to the above practices. You can move heaven and earth now. 
Abandon ruthlessly all sensual objects. They are the wombs of pain. Gradually develop balance of mind. Subdue the senses. Annihilate lust, anger and greed. Meditate and behold the imperishable Atman. Rest yourself firmly in the Self. Nothing can hurt you now, you have become invincible. 
Dive deep into the heart by withdrawing the mind from sensual objects. Kill this illusory little T and know 'I am He' (soham). Just as the drop of water loses its name and form and joins the sea, so also the jiva himself merges in the Supreme Soul and loses his own name and form.  
The sight of a beautiful form gives pleasure to the mind. After all, mind wants pleasure. If, by the practice of meditation, the mind is trained to enjoy or taste the bliss of formless Brahman or the Self who is seated in the hearts of all, it will not run to beautiful forms outside. 
The mind-wandering will gradually cease through regular meditation. Meditation will remove irritability also and considerably augment peace of mind. 
You should know the ways and habits of the mind through daily introspection, self-analysis or self-examination. You should have knowledge of the laws of the mind. Then it will be easy for you to check mind-wandering. When you sit for meditation, when you deliberately attempt to forget the worldly objects, all sorts of worldly thoughts, irrelevant and nonsensical thoughts will crop up in your mind and disturb your meditation. You will be quite astonished. Old thoughts which you entertained several years ago, old memories of past enjoyments, will bubble up and force the mind to wander in all directions. You will find that the trap-door of the vast magazine of thoughts and memories within the subconscious mind is opened, the lid of the store-house of thoughts within is lifted up and the thoughts gush out in a continuous stream. The more you attempt to still them the more they will bubble up with redoubled force and strength. 
Be not discouraged. Never despair. Through regular and constant meditation you can purify the subconscious mind and control all thoughts and memories. The fire of meditation will burn all thoughts. Meditation is a potent antidote to annihilate poisonous worldly thoughts. Be assured of this. 
During introspection you can clearly observe the shiftings of the mind from one line of thought to another. Herein lies a chance for you to mould the mind properly and direct the thoughts and the mental energy into divine channels. You can re-arrange the thoughts and make new associations on a new pure basis. You can throw out useless worldly thoughts just as you remove the weeds and throw them out. Just as you grow jasmine, roses, lilies and temple flowers in your garden, you should cultivate the flowers of peaceful thoughts of love, mercy, kindness, purity, etc. in the vast garden of your mind. Through introspection you will have to water this garden of the mind with meditation and sublime thinking and remove the weeds of vain, useless discordant thoughts. 
A goldsmith converts thirteen carat gold into pure fifteen carat gold by adding acids and burning it several times in the crucible. Even so will you have to purify your sensuous mind through concentration, reflection on the words of the spiritual preceptor and the sentences of the Upanishads, japa or silent repetition of the name of the Lord, and meditation. 
This is very patient work. This is a stupendous task indeed, but for a yogi of self-determination who has the grace of the Lord and iron will, it is nothing. The practice must be constant. Then only can one attain Self-realisation surely and quickly. He who practises meditation by fits and starts for a few minutes daily will not be able to achieve any tangible results in yoga. 
Meditation on the immortal Self will act like dynamite and blow up all thoughts and memories in the subconscious mind. If the thoughts trouble you much, do not suppress them by force. Be a silent witness. They will subside gradually. Then try to root them out through regular silent meditation. 
Positive overpowers negative. A positive thought drives off a negative one. Courage drives off fear, love destroys hatred, unity annihilates separateness, magnanimity destroys petty-mindedness (jealousy) and generosity drives away miserliness and greed. Keep yourself always positive and you will have wonderful meditation. When you see the flowers in a mango tree you know pretty well that you will get the mangoes soon. Even so, if you have peace in your mind, be sure that you will get good meditation and the fruit of illumination soon. 
All objects seen are nothing but mind only, in form and substance. Mind creates and it destroys. A highly developed mind influences lower minds. Telepathy, mind reading, hypnotism, mesmerism, distant healing and so many allied powers bear testimony to this fact. Mind is undoubtedly the greatest power on earth, and control of that mind bestows all powers. 
For meditation you want a properly trained instrument (mind). It should be calm, clear, pure, subtle, sharp, steady and one-pointed. Brahman is pure and subtle and you need a pure and subtle mind to approach Brahman. 
The pose or asana is really mental. If the mind is wandering you cannot have a steady body or a steady physical pose. When the mind is steady or fixed in Brahman, steadiness of the body automatically follows. 
All actions, whether internal or external, can be done only when the mind is united with the organs. Thought is the real action. If you have control over the mind by steady practice, if you can regulate your emotions and moods, you will not do foolish and wrong actions. Meditation will help a lot in checking various emotions and impulses. 
As the first thought is the thought 'I', and as this thought 'I' is at the base of all other thoughts, egoism is the seed for the mind. Mind exists on account of 'I'. 'I' exists on account of mind. 'I' is only an idea in the mind. 'Mind' and 'I' are identical. If 'I' vanishes mind will also vanish, and if mind vanishes 'I' will vanish. Destroy mind through knowledge of Brahman. Destroy the 'I' through the feeling of 'I am Brahman', through constant and intense meditation. When mind vanishes or thoughts cease, name and form will cease to exist and the goal is reached. 
The aspirant is very enthusiastic in his sadhana in the beginning. He is full of zeal. He takes a great deal of interest. He expects to get some results or siddhis. When he does not get these results he gets discouraged, loses interest in his practice and slackens his efforts or gives up his sadhana completely. He loses his faith in the efficacy of the sadhana. Sometimes the mind gets disgusted with one particular kind of sadhana and it wants some new kind of sadhana. Just as mind wants some variety in food and other things, so also it wants variety in the mode of sadhana also. It rebels against monotonous practice. The aspirant should know how to coax the mind on such occasions and to extract work from it by a little relaxation of mind. The cessation of sadhana is a grave mistake. Spiritual practices should never be given up under any circumstances. Evil thoughts will be ever waiting to enter the gates of the mental factory. If the aspirant stops his sadhana his mind will be like the devil's workshop. Do not expect anything. Be sincere and regular in your daily routine, tapas and meditation. The sadhana will take care of itself. 
The mind is directly or indirectly attached to some pleasing or favourite ideas. If you are enjoying the picturesque scenery in Kashmir your mind will be suddenly upset by shock if you receive a telegram which brings the unhappy tidings of the untimely demise of your only son. The scenery will no longer interest you, it will have lost its charm for you. There is rejection of attention, there is depression. It is concentration and attention that gives you pleasure in sight-seeing. 
When you climb the ladder of yoga and when you walk in the spiritual path, do not look back, do not remember your past experiences; kill all memory of your past experiences. Build up your mental feeling of 'I am Brahman' strongly. Strengthen it. Generate again and again the thought that Brahman alone exists. Keep it steady by regular and constant meditation. A single thought of your past experience will give a new lease of life to that thought-image or memory picture, rejuvenate and strengthen it and pull you down. It will be difficult for you to climb up again. 
Be concerned with the present only. Do not look back upon the past, or to the future. Then alone will you be happy, free from cares, worries and anxieties. You will have a long life. Your past days of childhood and schooling are all a dream when you are forty. The whole of life is a long dream. The past is a dream to you now. The future also will be the same hereafter. You will have to deal with the present only. You will have to cut down the two wings of the mind-bird, the two wings representing the past and the future. But it will flutter about, as there is the present. Keep away all external impressions. Silence the mind. Restrain the modifications of the mind. Concentrate. Overcome the multiplicity of ideas that result from impressions. Destroy the sankalpas through strenuous efforts. Exercise enquiry and discrimination. Meditate ceaselessly upon that satchidananda Brahman and attain that supreme immaculate seat. 
Give now good food for the mind — some sublime thoughts of the Bhagavad Gita, Avadhuta Gita, or the meaning of OM* — to reflect upon. After some time the luring present also will vanish. The mind will become perfectly serene and tranquil. The highest knowledge of the Self will dawn in your pure mind. You will rest in Brahman, the source, support, basis and background of everything. You will be established in the knowledge of the Self (sat-chit-ananda). May you prosper gloriously! May you live drowned in Brahman, the ocean of bliss, in an illumined state!
* See chapter on OM 
O beloved Ram, you are within a strong spiritual fortress now. No temptation can influence you. You are absolutely safe. You can do vigorous sadhana now without fear. You have a strong spiritual prop to lean upon. Become a brave soldier. Kill your foe, the mind, ruthlessly. Wear the spiritual laurels of peace, equal vision, contentment. Your face is already shining with Brahmic bliss. The all-merciful Lord has given you all sorts of comforts, good health and a guru to guide you. What more do you want? Grow, evolve, realise the Truth and proclaim it everywhere. 
Qualifications for Practising Meditation   Before saturating the mind with 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 this triplet always — assimilation, saturation, realisation. 
Your will should be rendered strong, pure and irresistible by more remembrance of God, eradication of desires, control of the senses and more intense inner life. You must utilise every second on Sundays and holidays to your best spiritual advantage. 
If you have tasted rasagulla (a Bengal sweetmeat) for a month, mental adhesion to rasagulla comes in the mind. If you are in the company of sannyasins (monks), if you read books on yoga, vedanta, etc., a similar mental adhesion takes place in the mind for attaining God-consciousness. Mere mental adhesion, though, will not help you much. Burning dispassion (vairagya), a burning desire for liberation (mumukshutva), capacity for spiritual practice, intense and constant application and deep meditation are needed. Then only Self-knowledge is possible. 
Energy is wasted in useless thinking. Conserve mental energy by driving out useless, obnoxious thoughts. Then you will improve in your meditation. 
Just as water when it leaks into rat-holes instead of running into the proper channels in agricultural fields, becomes wasted and does not help the growth of plants, fruit-bearing trees, grains, etc., so also the efforts of an aspirant in meditation become a wastage if he has not the virtue of dispassion. He gets no progress in meditation. 
Semen or vital force tones the nerves and brain and energises the system. He who has preserved his vital force by the vow of celibacy and sublimated it into ojas shakti (spiritual energy) can practise steady meditation for a long period. Only he can ascend the ladder of yoga. Without brahmacharya no iota of spiritual progress is possible. Brahmacharya is the very foundation on which the superstructure of meditation and samadhi can be built up. Many people waste this vital energy — a great spiritual treasure indeed — when they become blind and lose their power of reason under excitement. Pitiable indeed is their lot! They cannot make any substantial progress in yoga. 
You will be able to enter into deep meditation only if you lead a moral life. When you have led a moral life you may try further to build up discrimination and the other steps in your mind. You can cultivate mind in concentration and can finally devote yourself to meditation. The more you lead the moral life, the more you meditate, the greater likelihood will there be for you to enter into nirvikalpa samadhi, which alone can liberate you from the round of births and deaths and confer on you eternal bliss and immortality. 
NOTE: The secton ‘Qualifications for Practising Meditation’ will resume next Saturday.

Friday, March 27, 2015

28 March

The Ladder of Yoga
There are people who have not been able to serve their preceptors, who have not done any selfless service, or any devotional practices, who have not had the heart to treat other children with the affection they show to their own, who may not have had the heart to help others who were in severe distress - and yet, they sit and speak high philosophy. They sit and speak of cosmic love, of cosmic vision and of their own spiritual experiences and realisation (brahma jnana). They repeat the mantra Sivoham Sivoham ("I am Siva") - or the mantra Aham Brahma Asmi ("I am the infinite") - every few minutes. They wish to be in contact with great avataras (incarnations of God) this very second.
Place your foot, step by step, very cautiously, on the different rungs of the ladder of yoga. Ascend very gradually to the summit. Be earnest in your sadhana (practice). Equip yourself with the necessary qualifications. Do not waste your time in search of a preceptor. When you are ready, you will enter the halls of wisdom. And there, waiting on the threshold, you will find your preceptor.
Sage Vasishta says: "I assure you; on the authority of my own intuitional knowledge, as well as that of other illumined souls, that the reality can be realised by man. But one who has known it cannot communicate it to others, for want of means." Even the knowledge acquired by the five senses, which are common to all, cannot be communicated to others. You cannot tell the taste of butter to a man who has never tasted it. Nor can you communicate the idea of colour to a man born blind.
All that a teacher can do is to tell his disciple the method of knowing the truth. All he can do is to tell the disciple of the path that leads to unfoldment of the intuitional faculty.
If you have a burning desire, like Lord Buddha, if you possess patience and forgiveness, and if you have devotion to the preceptor - then you can contact avataras and sages right now, this very second.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

27 March

What is Yoga?
Yoga is the science that teaches us the way, the most effective way, how to remove our defects and weaknesses, and how to attain the state of perfection, freedom and super-conscious blessedness. The state in which there is union with the Absolute.
Yoga enables its students to acquire perfect control over the physical body, the mind and the senses. Yoga shows you the marvellous method of rising from evil to goodness and from goodness to godliness, and then from godliness to divine splendour.
Yoga is a search for truth. It raises a man to spiritual eminence. This form of self-education is called yoga. The yogi observes the law of moderation at all times. He treads the middle path. He does not torture his body, but he does regulate his eating and sleeping. He does regulate his talking and working.
Yoga is your unique heritage. Proceed upon this path gradually and steadily. Nothing can be achieved overnight. But steady practice will certainly bestow great blessings in the long run. Yoga has an unparalleled utility and curative value not yet tapped by modern medical science.
The practice of yoga is not opposed to any religion. It is not opposed to any sacred church. It is purely spiritual and universal in its teachings. It does not contradict anyone's sincere faith.
Yoga does not want you to turn away from life; it demands spiritualization of life. Yoga brings about physical and spiritual development, side by side. And finally, yoga enables the aspirant to attain blissful union with the Supreme Being. When yoga gets ripened, it becomes the super-conscious state. It becomes the state called nirvikalpa samadhi (realisation of the Absolute).
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Apply yourself tenaciously to self-enquiry and meditation. Be vigilant. Be diligent. Kill thoughts and desires of the world, through holy desires. Slay unholy thoughts with holy thoughts. Thus gain victory over your destiny. There is a vast ocean of knowledge within you. Unfold. Become a jivanmukta (a liberated soul). Remember, God helps those who help themselves.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

26 March

Yoga is Eternal Life
Yoga is a perfect and practical system of self-culture. Yoga is an exact science; it aims at the harmonious development of the body, the mind and the soul.
Yoga is the turning away of the senses from the objective universe and concentrating it on the mind within. Yoga is eternal life in the spirit.
Yoga aims at controlling the mind and its modifications. The path of yoga is an inner path, whose gateway is your heart.
Yoga is the discipline of the mind, the senses and the physical body. It helps to control and coordinate the subtle forces within the body.
Yoga brings perfection, peace and everlasting happiness. Yoga helps you in your business and also in your daily life. Through yoga you can have a calm mind and a peaceful sleep.
Through yoga you can also have increased energy, vigour, vitality, longevity and a high standard of health. Yoga transmutes your animal nature into divine nature. It raises you to the pinnacle of divine glory and splendour.
The practice of yoga will help you to control your emotions and passions. It will give you the power to resist temptations and to remove disturbing elements from the mind.
Yoga enables you to keep a balanced mind always. It removes fatigue. It confers on you serenity, calmness, and wonderful concentration. It will enable you to hold communion with the Lord and thus attain Self-realisation.
If you want to attain success in yoga you will have to abandon all worldly enjoyments. You will have to practise tapas, (austerity) and brahmacharya (celibacy).
To curb the mind you have to use intelligent and judicious methods - because, if you use force, the mind becomes more turbulent and mischievous. Those who try to control the mind by force are like those who endeavour to bind a furious elephant with a silken thread.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

25 March

The Supreme Gift
Yoga is the supreme gift of India to the world at large. Yoga does not quarrel with science; it supplements it. Yoga is a methodical way to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature - both physical and psychical.
Yoga is the supreme science of contacting reality. It is perfection in action. It is equanimity of attitude. It is perfect peace. Yoga is union with God.
Yoga is not a thing merely to be heard. Yoga is a thing that has to be assimilated and put into practice in daily life. The practice of yoga enables one to realise unity with the whole world. It is living in tune with God.
Yoga is abiding by the principles of truth and avoiding the path of untruth. Yoga is a science which is meant for the study of the reflective. It is for those who are convinced that the world of the senses has nothing substantial to offer.
Yoga is a process of continuous transformation. The inner perfection of Self-realisation can only come to be revealed by experience. This happens only progressively. The transformation of one's personality is achieved through stages.
As you advance in yoga, the ego is progressively replaced by the spirit. It is through this that the will of God works. By the practice of yoga, the sadhaka (seeker) is freed from the tyranny of the lower mind and he becomes divine. At a later stage the transformation takes the shape of a progressive unfoldment of the spirit.
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A preceptor or guru is indispensable for the practice of yoga. The aspirant should be humble, simple, gentle, refined, tolerant, merciful and kind. You will not have success in yoga if you have desire to get psychic powers. Yoga does not consist of sitting cross-legged for six hours, nor in stopping the heart-beat, nor in getting buried in the ground for a week or a month.

Monday, March 23, 2015

24 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 14
The yogi separates himself from the three gunas (qualities) and attains kaivalya
Notes and Commentary
By increasing the satvic modifications of the mind such as kshama (patience), love, mercy, magnanimity, generosity, truthfulness, celibacy, you can destroy the rajasic and tamasic mental vrittis. Internal fight is ever going on between gunas - satva, rajas and tamas, between good vrittis and evil vrittis.
If satva predominates in the mind, thoughts of God, Brahma-vichara (enquiry into truth) will manifest. The mind will be one-pointed. The meditative mood will come by itself without any exertion. In spiritual neophytes the satvic state of mind will not last for a long time. Rajas and tamas will try to rush in. You will have to be very careful and vigilant. You will have to watch the mind through careful introspection. Your important duty is to increase the satva in the mind. A satvic man will be ever virtuous, God-loving, dispassionate and powerful. A rajasic man will be ever engaged in worldly activities. He wants to lord over people. He has a domineering attitude. He wants powers. He is much attached to wife, children and property. The dross or impurities of the mind - rajas and tamas - should be removed by heating the mind in the fire of vairagya and abhyasa (dispassion and spiritual practices of sadhana). Then alone you will become a dhyana yogi.
Eventually the purusha (soul) realises his own native state of divine glory, isolation or absolute independence (kaivalya). He has completely disconnected himself from the prakrti and its effects. He feels his absolute freedom and attains kaivalya, the highest goal of a raja yogi. All klesha-karmas are destroyed now. The gunas, having fulfilled their objects of enjoyment and evolution, now entirely cease to act. He has simultaneous knowledge now. The past and future are blended into present. Everything is "now". Everything is "here". He has transcended time and space. The sum-total of all knowledge of the three worlds, of all secular sciences is nothing, nothing, compared to the infinite knowledge of a yogi who has attained kaivalya. Glory, glory to such exalted yogis. May their blessings be upon us all!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

23 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 13
Samadhi is of two kinds, samprajnatra and asamprajnatra
Notes and Commentary
Samadhi means super-conscious state, wherein the yogi gets super-sensual experiences. Samadhi is of two kinds viz., samprajnata or sabija or savikalpa and asamprajnata or nirbija or nirvikalpa. In savikalpa samadhi there are triputi (triad) - the knower, knowledge and knowable. There is alambana (support) for the mind to lean upon. The samskaras (tendencies) are not fried. In nirvikalpa, there is neither triputi nor alambana. The samskaras are fried in toto. The nirvikalpa samadhi only can destroy birth and death, and bring in highest knowledge and bliss. Savikalpa samadhis of various kinds - savitarka and nirvitarka, savichara and nirvichara, sa-ananda, and asmita.
When you get full success or perfection (siddhi) in raja yoga by entering into asamprajnata samadhi (nirvikalpa state) all the samskaras and vasanas (conditioning) which bring on rebirths are totally fried up. All vrittis (mental modifications) that arise from the mind-lake - come under restraint. The five afflictions, viz., avidya (ignorance), asmita (egoism), raga-dvesha (love and hatred), and abhinivesha (clinging to life) are destroyed and the bonds of karma are annihilated. Control the mind and the sense, become desireless, develop the power of endurance, contemplate see the Self in the self. Samadhi brings on highest good (nishreyas) and exaltation (abhyudaya). It gives moksha (deliverance from the wheel of births and deaths). The afflictions, egoism, etc., have their root in avidya (ignorance). With the advent of the knowledge of the self, the ignorance vanishes. With the disappearance of the root cause, viz., ignorance, egoism, etc., also disappear.
In the asamprajnata samadhi, all the modifications of the mind are completely restrained. All the residual samskaras also are totally burnt. This is the highest samadhi of raja yoga. This is also known as nirbija samadhi (without seeds) and nirvikalpa samadhi. Dharma-megha in raja yoga means "the cloud of virtue". Just as clouds shower rain, so also this dharma-megha samadhi showers on the yogis omniscience and all sorts of siddhis (powers). Karma is the seed for life state, life period and life experience. Nirbija samadhi will burn all the seeds.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

22 March

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 12
Dhyana or meditation is the keeping up of the flow of one idea, like the flow of oil
Notes and Commentary
Meditation is of two kinds, viz., concrete and abstract. If you meditate on any picture of concrete object, it is concrete meditation. If you meditate on an abstract idea, on any quality (such as mercy, tolerance), it is abstract meditation. A beginner should practise concrete meditation. For some, abstract meditation is more easy than concrete.
The aspirant can take up the practice of meditation after he is well up in pratyahara (abstraction of senses) and concentration. If the senses are turbulent, if the mind cannot be fixed on one point, no meditation is possible even within hundreds of years. One should go stage by stage, step by step. The mind should be withdrawn again and again to the point when it runs. One should reduce his wants and renounce all sorts of wild, vain desires of the mind. A desireless man only can sit quiet and practise meditation. Satvic (pure) light diet and brahmacharya (celibacy) are the prerequisites for the practice of meditation.
Consciousness is of two kinds, viz., focusing consciousness and marginal consciousness. When you concentrate on trikuti, the space midway between the two eye-brows, your focusing consciousness is on the trikuti. When some flies sit on your left hand during meditation, you drive them with your right hand. When you become conscious of the flies it is called marginal consciousness.
A seed which has remained in fire for a second will not undoubtedly sprout into leaves even though sown in a fertile soil. Even so a mind that does meditation for some time but runs towards sensual objects on account of unsteadiness will not bring in the full fruits of yoga.

Raja Yoga, Message 16

(The section ‘Attention and Interest’ now continues.)
Interest develops attention. It is difficult to fix the mind on an uninteresting object. When a professor is lecturing, when the subject is abstract and metaphysical many people leave the hall quietly because they cannot attend to a subject which is not interesting; but if the same professor sings and tells some interesting and thrilling stories, all people hear him with rapt attention. There is pin-drop silence. Lecturers should know the art of attracting the minds of the hearers. They will have to change the tone to talk with force and emphasis. They will have to watch the audience and see whether they are attentive or not. They will have to change the subject matter for a short while and bring in some nice stories and suitable illustrations. They will have to look at the hearers directly in their eyes. So many things are necessary if one wants to become a successful lecturer, and wants to make the hearers attentive. 
Napoleon, Gladstone, Arjuna and Jnanadeva all had wonderful powers of attention. They could fix their minds on any object. All scientists and occultists possess attention to a remarkable degree. They cultivate it by patient, regular and systematic practice. A judge and surgeon can get positive success in their respective professions only if they are endowed with the power of attention to a high degree. 
When you do any work, plunge yourself in it. Forget yourself. Lose the self. Concentrate upon the work. Shut out all other thoughts. When you do one thing do not think of any other thing. When you study one book do not think of any other book. Fix the mind there steadily like the arrow-maker who had no consciousness of his surroundings. Eminent scientists are so busy and attentive in their experiments and researches in their laboratories that they forget to take food even for days together. Once a scientist was very busy at his work. His wife, who was living in another district, had a serious calamity. She came running up to him in the laboratory, with profuse tears in her eyes. Strange to say, the scientist was not a bit agitated. He was so very attentive to his work that he even forgot that she was his own wife! He said: "Madam! Weep for some more time. Let me make chemical analysis of your tears."
Once some gentleman invited Sir Isaac Newton for dinner. Newton repaired to his host's bungalow and took his seat in the drawing room. The gentleman forgot all about Newton, took his dinner and proceeded to his office. Newton was musing within himself very absorbedly on some important point of science. He did not stir from his seat. He forgot all about his dinner and remained in the same chair like a statue for a long time. The next morning the host saw Newton in the drawing room and then only remembered having invited him for dinner. He felt sorry for his forgetfulness and apologised to Sir Isaac in a meek voice. What wonderful power of attention Sir Isaac Newton had! All geniuses possess this power to an infinite degree. 
When a great misfortune has befallen you, or when you pass in review a certain course of conduct in order to find out the cause of the failure, it may take possession of your mind to such a degree that no effort of the will can make you cease from thinking over it. An article has to be written, a book is in the process of preparation; the work is carried on even if there is loss of sleep and you are unable to tear yourself away from it. The attention which began voluntarily has taken entire hold of the field of consciousness. 
If you possess strong power of attention, anything that the mind receives will be deeply impressed. Only an attentive man can develop his will. A mixture of attention, application and interest can work wonders. There is no doubt of this. A man of ordinary intellect with highly developed attention can turn over more work than a highly intellectual man who has poor attention. 
If you attend to one thing at a time you will get profound knowledge of that subject in its various aspects. The ordinary untrained man of the world generally attends to several things at a time. He allows many things to enter the gates of his mental factory. That is the reason why he has a clouded or turbid mind. There is no clarity of thought. He cannot do the process of analysis and synthesis. He is bewildered. He cannot express his ideas clearly, whereas the disciplined man can attend to a subject exclusively as long as he likes. He extracts full and detailed information about one subject or object and then takes up another. Attention is an important faculty of a yogi. 
Every little act demands concentration and your whole-hearted attention. If you want to pass a thread through the eye of the needle you must remove all fibres that are disjointed. Then you must make it a single fibre and with great care and one-pointed thought, pass the thread into the needle. 
When you climb a mountain, or go down a steep descent, you will have to be very careful, otherwise you will slip and fall into the deep abyss below. When you ride on a bicycle, if you talk to your friend on the road a motor car might dash against you from behind. If you are a bit absent-minded when you walk on the road you will trip against a stone and fall down. A careless barber will cut the nose of his customer. A careless washerman will burn the clothes of his master. A sleepy aspirant will dash his head against the wall or fall down prostrate on the ground. Therefore, you must develop attention. Attention leads to concentration. 
When you take up any work, apply your whole heart, full mind and soul to the work. Do it with perfect concentration. What another can do in six hours, you can turn out within half an hour, smoothly and in a methodical and orderly manner. This is yoga activity. You will be taken as an accomplished yogi. Even when you study, study the subject with perfect concentration. Do not allow the mind to wander. You must shut out all external sounds. Fix the gaze at one point. Do not allow the eyes to wander. When you study one subject do not think of a movie or sweetmeats or a friend. The whole world must be dead to you for the time being. Such must the nature of your concentration. It will come to you after some steady and constant endeavours. 
Be not troubled. Be not discouraged. There will be some delay. Wait coolly and patiently. Rome was not built in a day. It is all a question of time. Do not leave the practice even for a day, even when you are sick. In your failure lies the secret of your success, and in your weakness the secret of your strength. Plod on. Push on. Gird up your loins. Nil desperandum. Be bold. March on courageously. Be cheerful. A brilliant future is awaiting thee. Practise. Feel. Rejoice. Become a yogi or world figure. Be sincere and earnest. Rise up. Awake. Thy light has come. O my dear children of Light and Immortality. It is 3.30 a.m., brahmamuhurta. This is the best time to practise concentration on Atman, memory and will-culture, and to catch hold of the mind. Sit in your favourite meditation posture and do vigorous practice now. May success and divine glory attend on thee. Melt the bubble mind in Brahman, the ocean of knowledge, and enjoy supreme bliss. 
Hatha Yoga Techniques 
Tratak* is one of the cleansing techniques in the light of hatha yoga philosophy. Tratak also plays a very prominent part in raja yoga and jnana yoga. 
* See Volume II: Health and Hatha Yoga 
Tratak is steady gazing. Write the word OM in black ink on the wall. Sit in front of the drawing. Concentrate on it with open eyes till tears come into the eyes. Then close the eyes. Visualise the picture of OM. Then open the eyes and again gaze till tears flow. Gradually increase the period. There are students who can gaze for one hour. Instead of OM you may draw a big black dot on white paper and fix it on the wall. Gaze at this black dot on the paper. The wall will present a golden colour during tratak. 
You can also do tratak on a candle flame, a bright star or the moon, on any picture of the Lord — either Krishna, Rama, Siva or Lord Jesus. 
Practise tratak for one minute on the first day. Gradually increase the period every week. Don't strain the eyes. Do it gently with ease and comfort, as long as you conveniently can. Repeat your mantra, Hari Om, Sri Ram or Gayatri during tratak. In some people who have weak eye capillaries the eyes may become red. They need not be alarmed unnecessarily as the redness of the eyes will pass off quickly. 
Practise tratak for six months. Then you can take up advanced lessons in concentration and meditation. Be regular and systematic in your sadhana. If there is a break, make up the deficiency or loss on the next day. 
Tratak steadies the wandering mind and removes tossing of the mind. It gives tremendous power, removes a host of ophthalmic ailments and brings siddhis. 
Tratak with open eyes is followed by visualisation, which is the calling up of a clear image of anything. Tratak and visualisation help a lot in concentration.
Gaze at the picture of the Lord (your tutelary deity) for a few minutes and then close your eyes. Try to visualise the picture mentally. You will have a well-defined or clear-cut picture of the Lord. When it fades, open your eyes and gaze. Repeat the process five or six times. You will be able to mentally visualise it clearly after some months' practice. 
If you find it difficult to visualise the whole picture, try to visualise any part. Try to produce even a hazy picture. By repeated practice the hazy picture will assume a well-defined, clear-cut form. If you find this difficult, fix the mind on the effulgent light in the heart and take this as the form of the Lord or Devi. 
Do not bother yourself if you are not able to have perfect visualisation of the picture of the Lord with closed eyes. Continue your practice vigorously and regularly. You will succeed. What is wanted is love for the Lord. Cultivate this more and more. Let it flow unceasingly and spontaneously. This is more important than visualisation. 
Nasikagra chakra is fixing the gaze on the tip of the nose. This is also called the nasal gaze. Do not make any violent effort. Gently look at the tip of the nose. Practise for one minute in the beginning. Gradually increase the time to half an hour or more. This practice steadies the mind and develops the power of concentration. Even when you walk you can keep up this practice. 
Bhrumadhya drishti is gazing at the ajna chakra, between the two eyebrows. The seat of the mind is the ajna chakra. The mind can be controlled easily if you concentrate there. In this you should direct the gaze towards the ajna chakra with closed eyes. If you practise it with open eyes it may produce headaches and foreign particles may fall into the eyes. There may be distraction of the mind also. Do not strain the eyes. Practise gently from half a minute to half an hour. There must not be the least violence in this practice. Gradually increase the period. This yoga kriya removes tossing of the mind and develops concentration. 
When you practise concentration at the tip of the nose you will experience various sorts of fragrance. When you concentrate between the eyebrows you will see lights. These are experiences to give you encouragement, to push you up in the spiritual path and convince you of the existence of transcendental or super-physical things. Do not stop your sadhana now. 
You can concentrate also on the heart or anahata chakra. This is the seat of emotion and feeling. A bhakta should concentrate there. He who concentrates on the heart gets great bliss. 
The crown of the head or sahasrara is another centre for concentration. Some vedantins concentrate there. 
Stick to one centre of concentration. Cling to it tenaciously. Never change it. The guru will select a centre of concentration for you if you are a student of faith. If you are a man of self-reliance you can select a centre for yourself.
A hatha yogi tries to concentrate his mind by having his breath controlled through pranayama. Kumbhaka or retention of breath also helps concentration. It checks the velocity of the mind and makes it move in smaller circles and ultimately curbs all its wanderings and thereby renders it fit for concentration.
The raja yogi tries to concentrate his mind by restraining the various modifications of the mind by not allowing the mind to assume various shapes of objects. He does not care for control of breath but his breath becomes necessarily controlled when his mind is concentrated. 
"A continuous flow of perceptions (or thought) is dhyana, meditation." (III-2) 
What is Meditation?
Meditation is the flow of continuous thought of one thing, of God, the Atman. It is the keeping up of one idea of God alone always, like the continuous flow of oil. 
Meditation follows concentration. When persisted in and perfected it brings about the experience of super-consciousness or samadhi, the ultimate state of Self-awareness or realisation. 
That state of the mind wherein there are no thoughts, is meditation. Meditation proceeds from the mind. 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. ''Though men should perform tapas standing on one leg for a period of one thousand years, it will not, in the least, be equal to one-sixteenth part of dhyana yoga (meditation).'' Paingala Upanishad. 
Meditation is the only way to attain salvation. It kills all pains, sufferings and sorrows and destroys all causes of sorrow. It gives the vision of unity and induces a sense of oneness. Meditation is a balloon or a parachute or an aeroplane that helps the aspirant to soar high into the realms of eternal bliss, everlasting peace and undying joy.  
Meditation is the royal road to attain God-head. It is the grand trunk road which takes the aspirant direct to the destination of divine consciousness. It is the mystic ladder which takes the yoga student from earth to heaven, it is the divine ladder that pushes them to the heights of asamprajnata samadhi, it is the step in the staircase of unbounded intelligence to take the aspirant to the highest storey of non-dual meditation and kaivalya mukti (liberation) of a vedantin. Without it no spiritual progress is possible. It is the aerial ropeway that allows the devotee to glide easily to the other shore of samadhi and drink the honey of love and the nectar of immortality.
Every human being has within himself various tremendous powers, potentialities, capacities and latent faculties of which he has no conception. He is a magazine of power and knowledge. As he evolves he unfolds new powers, new faculties, new qualities. He must awaken these dormant powers and faculties by the practice of meditation and yoga. He must develop his will and control his senses and mind. He must purify himself and practise regular meditation. Then only can he become a superman or God-man; then only can he change his environment and influence others; then only can he subdue other minds, conquer internal and external nature and enter into the super-conscious state. 
Just as the light is burning within the hurricane lamp, so also is the divine flame burning from time immemorial in the lamp of your heart. Close your eyes. Merge yourself within the divine flame. Plunge deep into the chambers of your heart. Meditate on this divine flame and become one with the flame of God. 
If the wick within the lamp is small, the light will also be small. If the wick is big, the light also will be powerful. Similarly, if the jiva (individual soul) is pure, if he practises meditation, the manifestation or expression of the Self will be powerful. He will radiate a big light. If he is unregenerate and impure he will be like burnt up charcoal. The bigger the wick, the greater the light. Likewise, the purer the soul, the greater the expression.
Meditation is the only valuable asset for you. Success in yoga is possible only if the aspirant practises profound and constant meditation. To meditate is our foremost duty. It is for that we have taken our birth here. To concentrate, to purify, to meditate and realise our essential divine nature is our foremost duty. Realisation cuts the knots of ignorance, desire and action and gives permanent satisfaction, everlasting peace and eternal bliss. 
What Happens in Meditation? 
During meditation the mind becomes calm, serene and steady. The various rays of the mind are collected and focussed on the object of meditation. There will be no tossing of the mind. One idea alone occupies the mind. The whole energy of the mind is concentrated on that one idea. The senses become still. They do not function. Where there is deep concentration there is no consciousness of the body and surroundings. He who has good concentration can visualise the picture of the Lord very clearly within the twinkling of an eye. 
Do not try to drive away the unimportant thoughts. The more you try the more they will return, the more they will gain strength. You will tax your energy. Fill the mind with divine thoughts. The unimportant thoughts will gradually vanish. 
All mental modifications such as anger, jealousy, hatred, etc., assume subtle forms when you practise meditation. They are thinned out. They should be eradicated in toto through samadhi or blissful union with the Lord. Then only are you quite safe. Latent mental impulses will be waiting for opportunities to assume a grave and expanded form. You should be very careful and vigilant. 
An aspirant says: "I am able to meditate in one posture for three hours. In the end I become senseless but I do not fall on the ground." If there is real meditation you will never become senseless, you will experience perfect awareness. This other is a negative undesirable mental state. You will have to get over this state by keeping up perfect vigilance.
Those who practise meditation will find that they are more sensitive than the people who do not meditate and because of that the strain on the physical body is enormous.
Considerable changes take place in the mind, brain and the nervous system by the practice of meditation. New nerve currents, new vibrations, new avenues, new grooves, new cells, new channels are all formed. The whole mind and nervous system are remodelled. You will develop a new heart, a new mind, new sensations, new feelings, new modes of thinking and a new view of the universe (as God in manifestation). The purifying process leads to a deeper insight into Truth. This is the action of the grace of the Lord upon the soul in meditation. 
When the mind becomes steady in meditation the eyeballs also become steady. A yogi whose mind is calm will have a steady eye. There will be no winking at all. The eyes will be lustrous, red or pure white. 
In the beginning of your practice you may get jerks of the hands, legs, trunk and the whole body. Sometimes the jerk is very terrible. Do not be afraid, do not be troubled. It is nothing, it can do nothing. It is due to sudden muscular contraction from influence of new nerve stimuli, when the prana becomes slow and the outward vibrations make the mind come down from its union with the Lord to the level of physical consciousness. Remember that new nerve currents are formed now owing to the purification of the nadis. The jerks will pass off after some time. At times there is tremor of the body during meditation. This is due to the prana being taken up to the brain from the trunk, etc. in the process of meditation. Do not be afraid. Do not stop the meditation. You will have to pass through all these stages. When you get these you are improving, you are progressing. Plod on and persevere. Be cheerful. Help is from within, from the Inner Ruler. These are all new sensations. Be courageous and bold. Courage is an important qualification and virtue for aspirants. Cultivate this positive quality. 
When your meditation becomes deep you will lose consciousness of the body. You will feel that there is no body. You will experience immense joy. There will be mental consciousness. Some lose sensation in the legs, then in the spinal column, back, the trunk and the hands. When the sensation is lost in these parts it feels that the head is suspended in the air. 
When you practise rigorous meditation, natural retention of breath without inhalation and exhalation will come by itself. When this comes you will enjoy immense peace and you will have one-pointed mind. 
You will feel that will-power is radiating from you. Your consciousness will be deeper now. Thoughts of God will start the spiritual currents in the body. Do not check these currents. (If heat is produced in the head, apply butter, amalaka oil or brahmi oil. Take cold bath three times during summer. Take butter and sugar-candy.) 
When you fix the mind, either on Sri Krishna, Lord Siva or the Atman, even for five minutes, sattva guna is infused into the mind. Subtle desires are thinned out. You feel peace and bliss during the five minutes. You can, with the subtle intellect, compare this bliss from meditation with the transitory sensual pleasures. You will find that this bliss from meditation is a million times superior to sensual pleasures. Meditate and feel this bliss. Then you will know the real value. 
During meditation, when your mind is purer, you will be inspired. The mind will be composing fine poems and solving intricate problems of life. Stamp out these pure thoughts also. This is all dissipation of mental energy. Soar higher and higher in the Atman only. 
Just as salt melts in water, the pure mind during meditation melts in silence in Brahman, its substratum. 
The object of meditation will come before you much quicker if you practise regular meditation. You will feel as if you are covered by the object on which you meditate. It will seem as if the whole space is illumined. Sometimes you will experience the sound of ringing bells. You will feel the inner peace of the soul. 
When your meditation becomes deep, you generally operate through the subtle causal body only. This becomes your normal consciousness. Yogis and bhaktas like Lord Gauranga, Tuka Ram and Tulsidas identified themselves with their causal body and had this as their normal consciousness. A bhakta, too, becomes one with Brahman. He has divine auspiciousness, yet he has a thin ethereal body. He keeps up his individuality. A whirlpool is one with the whole mass of the water. It has a separate existence also. Similar is the case with the bhakta who has a life with his causal body. 
During meditation you will have no idea of time. You will not hear any sounds. You will forget your name and all sorts of relationships with others. You will have no consciousness of your body or surroundings. You will have equanimity of mind. You will not hear any sounds. There will be stoppage of up-going and down-going sensations. The consciousness of egoism will also gradually vanish. You will experience inexplicable joy and indescribable happiness. Gradually, reasoning and reflection also will cease. 
After a short practice of meditation you will feel that the body gets lighter in a short time, say fifteen or thirty minutes, after you have taken your seat. You may be semi-conscious of the body also. There is a great deal of happiness owing to concentration. This happiness resulting from concentration—ananda (bliss) is quite different from sensual pleasures. You must be able to differentiate between these two pleasures through the intuitive mind rendered subtle by constant spiritual practice and meditation. Concentration and meditation have a power to sharpen the intellect. A trained intellect can comprehend subtle, philosophical, abstruse problems beautifully well. A disciplined intellect that can differentiate between the happiness derived from concentration and deep meditation, and the happiness derived from worldly pleasures, will naturally run daily to enjoy this kind of new happiness. Such a mind will loathe sensual pleasures. There will be extreme abhorrence and positive aversion to objects. It is but natural, because this kind of happiness is more lasting, sustained, self-contained and real, as it emanates from the Atman. You can distinctly feel that the mind is moving, that it is leaving its seat in the brain, and that it is trying to go to its original abode. You know that it has left its old groove and is now passing into a new groove.
In the beginning the aspirant remains in a state of bliss for some time. He comes down. By constant practice of incessant meditation he continues to remain in that exalted state forever. Later on the body idea completely vanishes.
A sudden stroke of mystic illumination puts an end to all empirical existence altogether and the very idea or remembrance of such a thing as the world, or the narrow individuality of the spirit in this world, absolutely leaves. 
Benefits of Meditation 
This world is full of miseries and sufferings. If you want to get rid of the pains and afflictions of this worldly existence (samsara), you must practise 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, 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 eternal peace and supreme bliss. Meditation prepares you for the integral experiences of direct intuitive knowledge. 
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. 
The fire of meditation annihilates all foulness due to vice. Then suddenly comes knowledge of divine wisdom which directly leads to liberation or final emancipation.
Regular meditation opens the avenues of intuitional knowledge, makes the mind calm and steady, awakens an ecstatic feeling and brings the yoga student in contact with the source or the supreme Purusha. If there are doubts they are all cleared by themselves when you march on the path of dhyana yoga steadily. You will yourself feel the way to place your footstep in the next rung of the spiritual ladder. A mysterious inner voice will guide you. 
If you wind a watch at night it will run smoothly for twenty-four hours. Even so, if you meditate for one or two hours in the brahmamuhurta (one and a half hours before sunrise) you can work very peacefully throughout the day. Nothing can disturb your mind. The whole system will be charged with spiritual vibrations. 
Many of your doubts will be cleared by themselves during meditation. Some will have to wait for some time for the clearance of some doubts. However much the teacher explains to you, you cannot understand certain things at a certain time. You will have to evolve a little more. When you have evolved, those doubts which tormented you three years ago will become clear now. 
Meditation gives a lot of spiritual strength, peace, new vigour and vitality. It is the best mental tonic. If a meditator gets irritated very often it shows he is not doing good uninterrupted meditation. There is something wrong in his spiritual practices (sadhana). 
Meditation develops strong and pure thoughts. Mental images are clear-cut and well-defined. Good thoughts are well-grounded. Through clarification of ideas, confusion vanishes. 
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 its diseases. 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 from the feet of the Lord to the different systems of the sadhaka (aspirant). Meditation itself is a panacea for all diseases. (If you are seriously ailing you can do japa and light meditation while lying on the bed.) 
NOTE: The section ‘Benefits of Meditation’ will resume next week.