Meditation and Action
by Swami Sivananda
That man who meditates in a cave in the Himalayas finds it difficult to work in the world. He cannot meditate in the upstairs of a building that is situated in the heart of a city. That man who works in the world finds it equally difficult to remain in a solitary place. Both have not got a balanced mind. Both are not perfect. Both have a one-sided development. The man who can meditate in a solitary retreat for six months and who can work in the world for another six months whole-heartedly, is an ideal Yogi or a perfect man. He is the ideal Karma Yogi. He is really a strong man. He has integral development. Nothing can upset his mind even when he is placed under any unfavourable conditions and bad environments.
If one has practised Pratyahara or abstraction of the senses he can withdraw his mind, just as the tortoise or snail withdraws its feet underneath its shell. No sound can disturb his mind. The firing of a cannon, the rolling sound of motor-lorries and bullock-carts in the streets cannot make any impression in his mind. He is practically dead to the world, but he is really very busy inside. He can convert a busy city into a big forest. But if a man has no abstraction or concentration he will find a big city in the thick of the forest. Aspirants should watch and test the mind always. They should try to keep this perfect balance. Real meditation gives immense inner strength. If one cannot realise this inner peace and strength, surely there is some error in Sadhana or meditation. Building castles in the air or Manorajya, Tandra and Alasya, sleepy state, brooding, and other negative states of the mind should not be mistaken for Samadhi or meditation. Untrained, inexperienced aspirants always make mistakes and are deluded.
A microscopic minority only are fit for full and deep meditation. The vast majority should combine meditation with action in the beginning. When they really advance in meditation, they can slowly give up action.