Saturday, April 4, 2015
Raja Yoga, Message 18
(The section ‘Qualifications for Practising Meditation’ now resumes.)
Leading a virtuous life is not by itself sufficient for God-realisation. Constant meditation is absolutely necessary. A good virtuous life only prepares the mind as a fit instrument for concentration and meditation. It is concentration and meditation that eventually lead to Self-realisation.
The student of yoga should not possess wealth as it will drag him to worldly temptations. He can keep a little sum to meet the wants of the body. Economical independence will relieve the mind from anxieties and will enable him to continue the sadhana without interruption.
You must have a pure mind if you want to realise the Self. Unless the mind is set free and casts away all desires, cravings, worries, delusion, pride, lust, attachment, likes and dislikes, it cannot enter into the domain of supreme peace and unalloyed felicity — the immortal abode.
You cannot enjoy peace of mind or practise meditation if there is tossing of the mind. Desires and tossing of the mind co-exist. If you really want to destroy the latter you must destroy all mundane desires and cravings through dispassion and self-surrender to the Lord.
If you apply fire to green wood it will not burn; if you apply fire to a piece of dried wood it will at once catch fire and burn. Even so, those who have not purified their minds will not be able to start the fire of meditation. They will be sleeping or dreaming — building castles in the air — when they sit for meditation. But those who have removed the impurities of their minds by japa, service, charity, pranayama, etc., will enter into deep meditation as soon as they sit for meditation. The pure ripe mind will at once burn with the fire of meditation.
Mind is compared to a garden. Just as you can cultivate good flowers and fruits in a garden by ploughing and manuring the land, by removing the weeds and thorns and by watering the plants and trees, so also you can cultivate the flower of devotion in the garden of your mind by removing the impurities of the mind (such as lust, anger, greed, delusion, pride, etc.) and watering it with divine thoughts. Weeds and thorns grow in the rainy season and disappear in summer, but their seeds remain underneath the ground. As soon as there is a shower the seeds again germinate and sprout. Even so, the modifications of the mind manifest on the surface of the conscious mind, then disappear and assume a subtle seed-state in the form of samskaras or impressions. The samskaras again come to the surface of the mind either through internal or external stimuli. When the garden is clean, when there are no weeds and thorns, you can get good fruits. So also, when the mind is pure, when it is free from lust, anger, etc. you can have the fruit of good deep meditation. Therefore cleanse the mind of its impurities first. Then the current of meditation will flow by itself.
If you want to keep a garden always clean, you will have to remove not only the weeds and thorns and other small plants, but also the seeds that lie underneath the ground, which again and again germinate during the rainy season. Even so, you will have to destroy not only the big waves or modifications of the mind but also the impressions or tendencies which are the seeds for births and deaths and which generate the thoughts again and again, if you want to enter into samadhi and attain liberation or perfect freedom.
The aspirant who wants to attain samadhi should have patience like that of the bird Tittibha, which tried to empty the ocean with its beak. Once he makes a firm resolve, gods will come to his help in the same way that Garuda came to the help of Tittibha. Help invariably comes from all beings in a righteous act. Even the monkeys and squirrels helped Rama to rescue Sita. He who is endowed with self-control, courage, prowess, fortitude, patience, perseverance, strength and skill can achieve anything. You should never give up your attempt even if you face insurmountable difficulties.
The following are indispensable if you want to practise vigorous meditation and attain samadhi or Self-realisation quickly.
1. There must be mauna and solitude in a cool place.
2. There must be capacity for spiritual practice.
3. There must be good, pure, substantial, light, nutritious food.
4. There must be a good spiritual teacher to guide you.
5. There must be good books for study.
6. There must be burning dispassion, longing for liberation and strong discrimination in you.
7. You must have a sharp, subtle, calm and one-pointed intellect to understand the reality of Brahman. Then, and then only, is realisation possible.
Many do not get the above favourable conditions for spiritual practice. That is the reason why they do not make any spiritual progress. For purposes of meditation everything is to be rendered pure (sattvic). The place of meditation must be pure, the food must be pure, the wearing apparel must be pure, the company must be pure, talking must be pure, the sounds that you hear must be pure, thinking must be pure, study must be pure. Then only is good progress possible, particularly in the case of beginners (neophytes).
This body is an instrument for attaining God-realisation. God-realisation is not possible without spiritual practice. Spiritual practice is not possible without good health. A sickly, dilapidated body stands in the way of practise of discipline. If you do not possess good health you cannot do any rigorous yoga practice and meditation.
Just as clouds screen and obstruct the sun, so also the cloud of sickness stands in your way. Even then you must not leave the practice of japa, concentration and meditation. These small clouds of sickness 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 your spiritual practice even for a day. The mind is ever ready to deceive you and stop you from the practice of meditation. Do not hear the voice of the mind. Hear the sweet voice of the soul.
The aspirant should try his level best to always keep good health by regular exercise, asana, pranayama, walking and running in open air; moderation in diet; regularity in his work, meals, sleep, etc. He should avoid drugs as much as possible. He must take recourse to nature-cure such as fresh air, wholesome food, cold bath and dietetic adjustment. He should always keep a cheerful attitude of mind under all conditions of life. Cheerfulness is a powerful mental tonic. There is intimate connection between body and mind. If one is cheerful the body is also healthy. That is the reason why doctors now prescribe laughing three times daily in the treatment of diseases.
Some foolish aspirants refuse to take medicine when they are ailing seriously. They say; "It is our fate. We should not go against fate. Taking medicine is against the will of God. The body is illusory. It is insentient. If I take medicine, it will increase the body-idea." This is foolish philosophy. Take medicine. Try hard. Leave the results to karma. This is wisdom. These foolish people unnecessarily torture the body, allow the disease to strike deep root and spoil their health. They cannot do any sadhana. They ruin this instrument by a wrong conception of vedanta. Vedanta says: "Have no attachment for this body, but keep it clean, strong and healthy for constant, rigid sadhana. The body is a boat to cross to the other shore of immortality. It is a horse to take you to the destination. Feed the horse well — but give up 'mine-ness'." Tell me friend, which is better? To take a purgative, to take some medicine for a couple of days, to tide over difficulties in a few days and to again start sadhana quickly, or to neglect the disease, not to take any medicine, to allow the disease to assume a grave form, to suffer for a month or two by negligence, to make the disease chronic and incurable and to allow the practice to suffer for a month?
HINTS ON MEDITATION
When you are a neophyte in meditation, start repeating some sublime hymns for ten minutes as soon as you sit for meditation. This will elevate the mind. The mind can be easily withdrawn from worldly objects. Then stop this kind of thinking also and fix the mind on one idea only, by repeated and strenuous efforts. Then meditation will ensue.
You must have a mental image of God or Brahman (concrete or abstract) before you begin to meditate.
When you start a fire you heap up some straw, pieces of paper and thin pieces of wood. The fire gets extinguished. 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 effort. Even so, in the beginning of meditation beginners fall down from meditation into their old grooves. They will have to lift their mind up again and again and fix it on the object of meditation. When meditation becomes very deep and steady they eventually get established in God. Then meditation becomes natural and habitual. Use the blow-pipe of intense dispassion and intense practice to kindle the fire of meditation.
Just as the student creates interest in his study of mathematics or geometry (although it is disgusting in the beginning) by imagining the advantages that he will gain by passing the examination, so also you will have to create interest in meditation by thinking of the incalculable benefits of immortality, supreme peace and infinite bliss that will be derived by its constant practice.
Clarify your ideas again and again. Think clearly. Have deep concentration and right thinking. Introspect in solitude. Purify your thoughts to a considerable degree. Still the thoughts and silence the bubbling mind. Just as in a surgical clinic the assistant surgeon allows only one patient at a time to enter the consultation room or the operation theatre, so also you will have to allow one thought-wave only to rise in the mind and to settle down calmly. Then allow another thought to enter. Drive off all extraneous thoughts that have nothing to do with the subject matter on hand. An efficient control over thoughts through long practice is a great help in meditation.
Watch every thought very carefully. Shut out all useless thoughts from the mind. Your life must tally with your meditation. Keep up your meditation during work also. Do not give new strength to evil thoughts by constant thinking of them. Restrain them. Substitute sublime thoughts. Control of thought is absolutely necessary. You should not waste even a single thought.
Do not store needless information in your brain. Learn to unmind the mind. Forget whatever you have learnt, it is useless to you now. Then only can you fill your mind with divine thoughts in meditation. You will gain fresh mental strength now.
Mind your own daily business. The fruit will come by itself. Let me repeat here the words of Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita: ''Your business is with the action (austerity, practice and meditation) only, never with its fruits; so let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor be attached to inaction.'' Your efforts will be crowned with sanguine success by the Lord. It takes a long time for purification of the mind and getting a one-pointed mind. Be cool and patient. Continue your sadhana regularly.
Be careful in the selection of your companions. Undesirable persons easily shake your faith and belief. Have full faith in your spiritual preceptor and the spiritual practice which you are pursuing. Never allow your own convictions to be changed. Continue with zeal and enthusiasm. You will have quick spiritual progress and you will ascend the spiritual ladder step by step and ultimately reach the goal.
Do not plan, do not imagine, do not try to fulfil desires. Be indifferent. Annihilate emotion. Do not be attached to desires. Desires are powerless in the absence of emotions and attachment. They dwindle and die. Find out the causes of disturbing thoughts and remove them one by one. Watch the mind carefully. Dwell in solitude, do not mix. Have patience, enthusiasm and courage. If you find great interest and happiness in meditation and if you are progressing, stop study also for some time. Study also is an object of enjoyment. God is not in books. He can be reached only by constant meditation. Erudition is to gain applause in society. Avoid pedantry.
Sometimes the mind feels tired. Then take complete rest. Do not strain the mind. Go for an evening stroll along the sea-shore, along the banks of Ganges or any other delightful road. Chant OM. Feel OM. Hum OM. Reduce the period of meditation for a couple of days. Use your strong common-sense and listen to the voice from within. Observe the moods of the mind. The two currents of joy and grief are moving in the mind. When you are depressed, go for a good walk. Close the books. Remember that these are all characteristics of superimposition and they do not belong to the thing itself — the Atman. They will pass away quickly.
When you meditate, disregard the substratum awakenings in the mind that arise out of the senses. Avoid carefully the comparisons with all other cross-references and memories of ideas. Concentrate the whole energy of the mind on the one idea of God or Atman Itself without comparison with any other idea. Whenever the mind wanders you should check it. Try to identify yourself with the eternal, immortal, ever-pure Atman that resides in the chambers of your heart. Think and feel always: "I am the ever-pure Atman." This one thought will remove all troubles and fanciful thoughts. The mind wants to delude you. Start this anticurrent of thought. The mind will lurk like a thief.
You can get the meditative mood quite easily without effort if you do your practice at fixed hours, both morning and night. In winter you can have four sittings. You should have the same pose, the same room, the same seat, the same mental attitude and the same hours for meditation. Everybody should have his daily routine and should strictly adhere to it at all costs. Leniency to the mind will upset the whole programme. You should meditate regularly and do spiritual practice untiringly with indefatigable energy, dogged patience, adamantine will and iron determination. Then only sure success is possible.
Meals should be taken at regular hours. One should go to sleep at a fixed time and get up at a fixed time. See how the sun is very regular in its rising and daily work!
A glutton or a sensualist, a dullard or a lazy man cannot practise meditation. He who has controlled the tongue and other organs, who has acumen, who eats, drinks and sleeps in moderation, who has destroyed selfishness, lust, greed and anger, can practise meditation and attain success in samadhi.
What does a passionate man do? He repeats the same old 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 the 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 and the latter attains immortality.
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 will you 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.
Whatever spiritual practice you do — either japa, practice of asana, concrete meditation on a form of the Lord or pranayama — do it systematically and regularly every day. The reward is immense.
Just as you take food four times — morning, noon, afternoon and night — so also you will have to meditate four times a day if you want to realise quickly.
If interruption comes in your practice, make up the deficiency in the evening or at night or on the following morning. Rapid progress and great success can be attained if regularity is observed by the practitioner. Even if you do not realise any tangible result in the practice you must plod on with sincerity, earnestness, patience and perseverance. You will get success after some time. There is no doubt of this.
Fill the mind again and again with pure, divine thoughts. New grooves and avenues will be formed now. Just as a gramophone needle cuts a small groove in the plate, pure thinking will cut new healthy grooves in the mind and brain. New impressions will be formed.
The period of meditation should be gradually increased with caution. The meditation should not be by fits and starts. It should be well-regulated and steady. You must always use your commonsense and reason all throughout your practice. You should ascend the summit of yoga gradually, slowly, stage by stage, step by step. You must not give up the practice even for a few days.
Just as you saturate salt or sugar with the water, you will have to saturate the mind with thoughts of God, with sublime soul-awakening spiritual thoughts. Then only will you be always established in the divine consciousness.
If you keep lemon juice or tamarind juice in a golden cup it is not spoiled or tainted, but if you keep it in a brass or copper vessel it is at once spoiled and rendered poisonous. Even so if there are some sensual thoughts in the pure mind of a person who practises constant meditation they will not pollute the mind and induce passionate excitement, but if there are sensual thoughts in persons with impure minds these sensual thoughts will cause excitement in them when they come across sensual objects.
Just as you render turbid water pure by the addition of clearing nut (strychnos potatorum), so also will you have to purify the turbid mind filled with desires and false ideas, by thinking and reflecting on the Absolute. Then only will there be true illumination.
You must not be too hasty in longing for the fruits at once when you take to meditation. A young lady perambulated the asvattha tree (ficus religiosa) one hundred and eight times for getting a baby, and then immediately touched her abdomen to see whether there was a child or not. It is simply foolishness. She will have to wait for some months. Even so, if you will meditate for some time regularly, then the mind will be ripened and eventually you will get Self-realisation. Haste makes waste.
During meditation, note how long you can shut out all worldly thoughts. Watch your mind. If it is for twenty minutes, try to increase the period to thirty minutes, and so on. Fill the mind with thoughts of God again and again.
In meditation do not strain your eyes. Do not strain the brain. Do not struggle or wrestle with the mind. Relax. Gently allow divine thoughts to flow. Steadily think of the object of meditation. Do not voluntarily and violently drive away intruding thoughts. Have sublime pure thoughts. The vicious thoughts will vanish by themselves.
If there is much strain in your meditation, reduce the duration of each sitting for a few days. Do light meditation only. When you have regained the normal tone, again increase the period. Use your common sense throughout your sadhana. I again reiterate this point.
When you go in for seclusion for intense tapas or when you practice intense meditation in a quiet room, do not bother much about your shaving. Let the hairs grow. These mechanical thoughts such as thoughts of shaving, etc., will produce great distraction in your mind, and interfere with the continuity of divine thoughts. Do not think much of the body, bread, clothing, etc. Think more of God or Atman.
If you are a very busy man and if you always lead a travelling life, you need not have a special room and a special time for meditation. Do japa of 'soham' and meditation along with the breath — this is very easy — or associate your mantra also with the breath. Then every movement of breath will become a prayer and meditation. Remember God and feel His presence everywhere. This will suffice.
Why do you close your eyes during meditation? Open your eyes and meditate. You must keep your balance of mind even when you are in the bustle of a city. Then only are you perfect. In the beginning when you are a neophyte you can close your eyes to remove the distraction of mind, as you are very weak. But later on you must meditate with eyes open even during walking. Think strongly that the world is unreal, that there is no world, that there is the Atman only. If you can meditate on the Atman even when the eyes are open, you will be a strong man, you will not be easily disturbed. You can meditate only when the mind is beyond all anxieties.
All vrittis (mental modifications) such as anger, jealousy, hatred, etc., assume subtle forms when you practise japa and meditation and they are thinned out. They should be completely destroyed through samadhi. Then only are you safe. Latent vrittis will be waiting for opportunities to assume a grave and expanded form. You should be ever careful and vigilant.
Resist the fatal downward pull by the dark, antagonistic forces through regular meditation. Check the aimless wanderings of the mind through clear and orderly thinking. Hear not the false whispers of the lower mind. Turn your inner gaze to the divine centre. Do not be afraid of the severe set-backs that you will encounter on your journey. Be brave. March on boldly till you finally rest in your centre of eternal bliss.
You must daily increase your dispassion, meditation and sattvic virtues such as patience, perseverance, mercy, love, forgiveness, purity, etc. These help meditation. Meditation increases the pure qualities.
Have the one all-pervading feeling of God. Try to keep up the feeling always. Deny the finite body as a mere appearance.
When you put a piece of iron rod in the blazing furnace it becomes red like fire. When you remove it, it loses its red colour. If you want to keep it always red you must always keep it in fire. So also if you want to keep the mind charged with the fire of wisdom you must keep it always in contact or in touch with God through constant and intense meditation. You must keep up an unceasing flow of God-consciousness.
Just as cannabis, indigo, opium or alcohol give you intoxication which lasts for some hours even if you take a small quantity, so also the God-intoxication that you get from regular meditation lasts for some hours if you meditate for half an hour daily. Therefore, be regular in your meditation.
Those who meditate for four or five hours at a stretch can have two meditative poses. Sometimes blood accumulates in some part of the legs or thighs and so gives a little trouble. After two hours change the pose, or stretch the legs at full length and lean against a wall or pillow. Keep the spine erect. This is the most comfortable asana. Or you can join two chairs, sit in one chair and stretch the legs on another chair. This is another contrivance.
Some students like to meditate with open eyes, others with closed eyes, while some others with half-opened eyes. If you meditate with closed eyes, dust or foreign particles will not fall in your eyes. Some students who are troubled by lights and jerks prefer meditation with open eyes. Within a short time sleep overpowers some who meditate with closed eyes. If the eyes are kept open the mind wanders to objects. Use your common sense and adopt that which suits you best. Overcome other obstacles by suitable intelligent methods.
Meditation is possible when the mind is full of peace. The stomach should not be loaded. There is an intimate connection between the mind and the food. A heavy meal is harmful. Take a full meal at eleven a.m. and half a seer of milk at night. The evening meal should be light for those who meditate.
Meditate for two or three 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 on the verandah in the evening. Do not allow the mind to entertain any worldly thought even for a few minutes. This method will keep the mind very very busy and entrap it within a short period. Practise this. 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 fourteen hours at a stretch after some practise. Padmasana is good for householders. Siddhasana is good for sannyasins.
If you wish to attain success in yoga you will have to abandon all worldly enjoyments and practise austerity and celibacy. These will help you in the attainment of concentration and samadhi.
If you are not able to form the image of your chosen deity or fix the mind on it you may try to hear the sound of the mantra repeated by you or think of the letters of the mantra in order. This will stop mind-wandering.
Prana is the overcoat for the mind. The vibration of the subtle psychic prana gives rise to the formation of thought. By pranayama you can improve your meditation by making the mind more steady.
If you place a big mirror in front of a dog and keep some bread in front of it, the dog at once barks at its own reflection in the mirror. It foolishly imagines that there is another dog. Even so, through his mind-mirror man sees his own reflection only in all people, but foolishly imagines, like the dog, that they are all different from him, and he fights on account of hatred and jealousy.
It is the actions of the mind that are truly termed karmas. True liberation results from the disenthronement of the mind. Those who have freed themselves from the fluctuations of their minds have supreme steadfastness in meditation. Should the mind be purged of all its impurities, then it will become very calm and all worldly delusion with its attendant births and deaths will be soon destroyed.
Meditate on the idea: 'There is no world. There is neither body nor the mind. There is only one pure Consciousness. I am that pure Consciousness.' This is nirguna meditation (meditation without attributes).
NOTE: The section ‘Hints on Meditation’ will continue next week.