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Vedantic Meditation

by Swami Sivananda

Section I

Withdrawal From Multiplicity

Self-restraint is the opposite of self-expression. The latter tends towards Pravritti or life in the variegated Samsara, and the former leads to the Highest Integration through Nivritti or stepping back to Truth. The creative diversifying power is turned in and sublimated into the spiritual splendour. The withdrawal from multiplicity and centring oneself in Unity is effected through self-restraint which is the austere transformation of the creative objective force into the conscious Power that causes the blossoming of the sense of individual finitude into the expanse of objectless consciousness. Variety is the meaning of manifestation. Every individual force is a copy of the limitless creative force and the natural tendency of this energy is to move towards the creation of multiplicity. This is the reason why the control of the action of creativity is found to be difficult in the case of those who are tied to individual physicality. An individual finds it hard to properly direct the cosmic habit unless he takes recourse to process of Spiritual Realisation. A spiritual Sadhaka goes to the source of this objectified energy and compel the force to diffuse itself in the serene Ground-Noumenon. A person who has let loose the flow of the creative force gets entangled in the process of multiple-creation and ever remains away from the knowledge of the Non-Dual Truth of his Eternal Self. This is the root background of the universal ethics that self-control is imperative to a seeker after the Absolute Reality.

Those who have discriminatively grasped the spiritual character of human life refrain from the instinctive practice of self-multiplication and devote themselves to the glorious task of directing the potential energy to conscious contemplation on the Spiritual Ideal through the triple transformation of the active emotional and intellectual aspects of the general human nature. Such integrated persons possess a mighty power of understanding, analysis and meditation. The Chhandogya Upanishad says that when purity and Sattva are increased, there is a generation of immense memory which paves the way to the shattering open of the knot of self. The most intricate technic of the art of Self-realisation is mastered by the genius of an austere who has learnt to expand his formative lower into the plenitude of limitless life. Such austere spiritual beings flow with the lustrous spiritual strength which handles with ease even the most formidable of the diversifying forces of nature. Fear is unknown to them and their divinised energy is centred in the Self to be utilised in transcending the realm of the ego-sense. They establish themselves in the unbroken vow of leaping over phenomenon into the heart of Existence. Such is the glory of self-restraint!

The control of the objective instincts is the preparation for world-renunciation in the quest of the Ultimate Essence. An abandonment of earthly nature effected by a distaste for particularities is what marks the character of a true austere Sadhaka. He should not enter the household, for, his path leads to Unity and not to the creative social activity. Alone and unfriended should he carry on the duty of Self-integration through unceasing selflessness and remembrance of the Divine Ideal. Selfless service polishes the self and rubs the ego and thus renders the person fit for the higher life of Dhyana and Brahma-Chintana. A cutting off from acquaintance with relatives is necessary, for, Nivritti-Marga does not allow of any transient connections.

Fitness for Wisdom

One who is fit for receiving Wisdom of the Self shall receive it 'in due time.' Self-effort and passage of time work simultaneously and one cannot be distinguished from the other, for Providence and Personal exertion cannot be separated as they both work simultaneously and are interdependent. Rather, these are only two names for one and the same force of action.

Sri Sankaracharya had already exhorted that one has to undergo the disciplinary stages of Viveka, Vairagya, Sama, Dama, Uparati, Titiksha, Sraddha, Samadhana, and Mumukshutva before getting initiated into the mystery of Existence. One should not be initiated into the Truth of the Absolute unless he is found well developed in all these qualities. Nowadays generally we find that aspirants do not have a strong desire for Liberation. They may have a ray of Viveka and Vairagya of a mild variety. But it is very difficult to find an aspirant who cares for nothing but final Emancipation, who treats the whole world and its contents as mere straw, who meditates incessantly upon how to attain Salvation from embodied existence. It is not easy to understand the meaning of Liberation. How can it be possible for raw men of the world to realise the nullity of earthly existence and of worldly activities? Even advanced aspirants sometimes have got a strong desire for doing something wonderful in this world, something which none has done before. Such people cannot have a real desire for liberation. And such people are unfit for receiving Brahma Vidya. It is only the Uttama-Adhikari, the best qualified, who cares for nothing, who is totally indifferent to the ways of the world, who is ever silent and serene due to the dawn of proper knowledge, who is ever the same among the diverse men of the world, who is undisturbed by the distracted activity of the world, who is calm and peaceful, who has withdrawn himself from the bustle of life, who cares not for either death or life, who is unmindful of what is happening in the world, who is careless towards either this or that, that is really fit to receive the Ultimate wisdom of the Absolute! Even if there is the slightest desire lurking inside other than for the Realisation of the Absolute, that man will not be able to comprehend the true import of the Vedantic instructions by the Spiritual Teacher (Preceptor). He will have thousand doubts and distractions in the mind which will entirely pull him down from Vedantic Meditation. A person should desire for nothing else, than the Realisation of Brahman. There should be no other thought throughout the day than of the way of attaining Self-realisation. Every thought, every speech, every action, nay, every breath of the person should illustrate the method of realising the Absolute. Such a person is fit to receive Vedantic Wisdom.

Guide to Meditation

Meditation is the centering of the force of thought on the highest conception of the ideal to be attained. Hence meditation starts with a belief in the reality of a dual existence, for, without such a faith in duality, meditation lapses into a state of the faculty of thinking and contemplation becomes impossible. Meditation starts with duality and ends in the Glorious Consciousness of the Unity of Life.

A belief in the degrees of truth and reality in being is necessitated by the fact that the whole universe is a gradual materialisation of the Highest Brahman Itself. A completely transcendent being unconnected with the meditator is impossible to be reached. Truth is immanent too. The object of meditation is very closely connected with the meditator and exists as his very essence and hence the possibility of the realisation of the Infinite. The world is to be made use of as a step in the ladder of ascent to the Glory of Transcendental Spiritual Perfection.

The aspirant is, thus, led to the obvious fact that the existing forces of nature are to be made friends with and utilised as helps in spiritual Meditation. One cannot easily deny the differences existing among the hard earth, the liquid water, the hot fire, the blowing wind and the empty space, so long as one is conscious of his relational individuality. The challenges of weather, the degrees of intelligence in men, the respective demands of the various sheaths of embodied consciousness, exertion, feeling, will, the passions, the joys, the sorrows and ills of life point to the difference that exists in the process of Truth-Manifestation. The Brahman does not manifest itself equally in all things. It manifests greatly in Divine Beings, in Incarnations and in Sages, less in ordinary human beings, lesser still in inanimate beings. A complete knowledge of the scheme and the methods of the working of Nature will accelerate the process of the Realisation of the Brahman-Consciousness through intensified Meditation.

Tops of mountains, sombre cloudy weather and places near vast expanses or water generate and attract atmospheric electricity and, hence, are best suited for Meditation as they add to the energy produced during powerful Meditation. Vast expanse of space also helps Meditation. Cramped places obstruct the consciousness of expanded existence and are not helpful to conscious expansion.

The Uttarakhanda is the region where sages and divinities lived and meditated and is, therefore, the best place suited for Meditation. The sacred Ganga and the Himalayas diffuse the most exalted spiritual currents helpful for Spiritual Meditation. The land above Haridwara (the Gateway to the Land of Hari) extending upto the high Himalayan Peaks is the most blessed land meant for Meditation. Sages Meditated in this region and have left undying spiritual vibrations.

Facing the North or the East is best suited for Meditation. There is a powerful magnetic force in Northern direction. All blessedness is in the Northern direction.
From 12 Midnight to 4 a. m., the time is best suited for Meditation. There is absolute calmness, coolness, peace and an integrating vibration at that time. Darkness makes existence appear as a One Whole Being, whereas light compels one to perceive the multiplicity of the world. Sunlight, or very bright artificial lights like patromax light (gas light) etc., are not good for Meditation, for they distract the mind very much. Dark places are most useful for Meditation. Moonlight also is useful for Meditation.

During Meditation powerful electric current is produced in the body. If, while meditating, the hands and legs are stretched out, the current generated is lost into the air through the tips of fingers and toes. One should lock the fingers or be touching the knees and sit in Padma, Siddha, Sukha or Svastika Asana, so that the current may be circulating in the body itself.

The earth has got the power of absorbing and draining away electric energy. Hence, during Meditation, one should sit on tiger skin or deerskin to avoid this mishap and to generate more energy.

No concentration is possible when the spinal column is bent because, thereby the flow of the current of Prana is obstructed. Hence one should sit erect for Meditation.
One should have either enlightened intelligence or tenacious faith. If both of these are lacking in a person, he cannot gain concentration on the Reality.

Except in very rare cases, no Meditation on the Reality is possible without first deriving help from the direct company of an advanced spiritual personage. The exact technic of attuning the self with the Infinite cannot be known except through the company of an experienced saint or sage. Study of books may stimulate activity but the strength to fight with evil comes only through association with men of wisdom.

The most dreadful enemies of Meditation are Lust and Anger. These two shall destroy at one fit even very vast energy accumulated through long practice. Hence one should be extremely circumspect about these two negative forces.

When the eyes and the ears are shut, the whole world is shut out from one's experience. Sound and Colour constitute the whole universe. When they are not, nothing is.
Indifference to external happenings is the greatest treasure of the Meditator. He should not worry whether the world goes on happily or is otherwise.
The Meditator should consider his individual personality as a mere insignificant nothing. He should be ever contemplating on the Infinite Fullness.
Desire for nothing but the Infinite alone. This is the greatest of all instructions.

Section II


Ekam Sad Viprah Bahudha Vadanti. Truth is One: Sages call it variously. As this Truth is Anirvachaniya, as it is beyond the reach of the senses and mind, it is capable of direct realisation through Aparoksha-anubhuti only. When this transcendental experience is attempted to be described in words: when the Infinite is attempted to be brought within the comprehension of the finite mind or intellect; when the Indescribable is attempted to be described in words, only a ray or rather a shadow of the Real is conveyed. Various have been the methods of approach of the Seers, and, therefore, though the perception of Reality has been the same in all cases. the nearest approach to Reality (which alone they have been able to) encompassed in words has been different.

Yet, the Vedic Seers have, one and all declared in the most unambiguous terms the Universality of Truth. Sarvam Hyetat Brahma, All this is Brahman (Mandukya Upanishad). Sarvam Khalu Idam Brahma, All this is indeed Brahman (Chhandogya Upanishad). Throughout the Upanishads the one distinct note that rings is that of unity. The entire Universe from Brahma down to a blade of grass, as also the apparently lifeless immobile inanimate objects is pervaded, guided and supported by Consciousness; Consciousness is their basis; this Consciousness is Brahman (Aitareyopanishad).

Sage Uddalaka, while instructing his son Svetaketu on That 'knowing which all else becomes known', also points out the same Truth: That which is the subtle essence of everything, That is the Reality, the Atman; Thou art That (Chhandogya Upanishad). The Mandukya Upanishad rejoins: Ayam Atma Brahma, This Atman is Brahman.
Using a different terminology, the first Mantra of Isavasya Upanishad, asserts Isavasyam Idam Sarvam, All this is enveloped by the Lord. Again, Eko Devah Sarvabhuteshu Gudhah; Sarvavyapi Sarva Bhutantaratma, God is One; He is hidden in all beings. He pervades all. He is the Inner Atman of all beings (Svetasvatara Upanishad).

Wherever we turn in the Sacred Books of India, we are confronted with this one Truth. All this is strung in Me as the thread-beads on a thread and the same thread tied into knots acting as the beads, and the same thread holding the knots together, and appearing at first sight to be different from the beads (Gita VII. 7), says Lord Krishna to Arjuna in the course of His Immortal Song. Again, after describing His Divine Vibhutis, the Lord sums up the idea in a few words: But, of what avail is a knowledge of all these details to thee? I support (pervade as essence) the whole Universe with one part of My Real Being (X. 42). That which is the seed (inner essence) of all beings is Myself (X. 39). When Arjuna has the beatific Vision of the Lord, he, too, describes Him as pervading everything (XI. 20). The Lord characterises a Yogayukta as one who sees all beings in the Self, and the Self in all beings (VI. 29). I do not perish (cease to exist) for one who sees Me everywhere, and sees everything in Me; nor does he perish for Me (VI. 30). Similarly, he is a Mahatma who sees everything as Vasudeva (VII. 19).

Truth is One. Unity is life. Diversity or the perception of many diversified beings here is falsehood. It leads to disharmony, dissension and ruin.
If this Unity or Truth is the reality of our being, why then do we not realise It? It is, says the Lord in the Gita, on account of the Supreme One being veiled by His own Yogamaya (VII. 25). The deluded, whose wisdom has been taken away by this Maya, who have thus embraced the demoniac nature of ignorance, do not, therefore, adore Him (VII. 15). This Maya is characterised by Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, which are the forces that sustain the world. Like Brahman Maya, too, is Anirvachaniya, indescribable. Suffice it to say that She (Maya) has Avarana Sakti (veiling power) which prevents a perception of Truth and Vikshepa Sakti (projecting power) which is the cause of this universe, and the individual ego. It is this little ego, the 'I' which identifies the Jiva with the five Kosas: identifying his Self with the body, man thinks that he is distinct personality, and gets attached to his son, wife, wealth, property, etc.; identifying with the Pranamaya Kosa, he thinks I am hungry, etc.; identifying with the Manomaya Kosa he regards himself as a thinker and thinks I am angry. etc.; identifying with the Vijnanamaya Kosa, he thinks I am happy. These distinctions are foreign to the Atman which is All-pervading Pure Sat-Chid-Ananda. The Jiva is deluded into the perception of the multiple on account of this separatist tendency of the ego which builds its own prison-house and distinguishes itself from its own reflections in other species of creation, which divide, particularise and multiply the One into the many. This is the cause of all the misery, bondage and endless suffering. One who transcends this Maya enjoys the Bliss of the realisation of the Sat-Chid-Ananda Atman, that Bhuma which is the only happiness (Chhandogya Upanishad).

How is this state to be attained? by crossing over this Maya through resorting to Him (Gita, VII-14). Constant meditation on the one Reality destroys ignorance; with the destruction of ignorance, the individualistic ego vanishes and a direct perception or realisation of the One is obtained. That is the end, aim and goal of every human being; towards that goal is the entire universe (all the objects both animate and inanimate) moving. Eventually this multiplicity will evolve again into that Unity. Kalena Atmani Vindati (Gita). All that we can do, and ought to do is to hasten that evolution in our individual cases by Yogabhyasa, by constant meditation on that Unity, by realising that Unity and putting that Unity into our everyday life.

Subtle and Most Subtle

Water is more subtle than earth. Earth is only a modification of water. Earth is born of water. Earth gets dissolved in water during Pralaya or dissolution. As water is more subtle than earth, it pervades the earth. If you pour a tumbler of water on the earth it is absorbed by the earth at once.
Fire is more subtle than water. Water is born of fire. When the weather is hot, you get perspiration. Water gets dissolved in the fire during Pralaya. Put some water in a copper vessel over the fire. It becomes very hot in a short time. It boils. If you put your finger in the boiling water, it is burnt. It is not the nature of water to burn your finger. But the fire pervaded the water on account of its subtlety and rendered it hot. It pervaded the earth also. The copper vessel is only a modification of earth. It rendered the vessel also hot.

Air is more subtle than fire. Fire is born of air. Fire gets dissolved in air during Pralaya. Whenever there is movement or motion of air, there is heat. When you start the fire you fan it. The subtle air pervades the fire and causes a big conflagration.

More subtle than air is Akasa (ether). The other four elements are rooted in Akasa. Akasa pervades air, fire, water and earth.
More subtle than Akasa are Time and Mind. More subtle than mind is Parama Atman or the Supreme Soul. Greater (subtler) than the senses is the mind; greater or subtler than the mind is intellect; but what is greater or subtler than the intellect is He or the Supreme.

This Atman or Brahman is the source for all the elements, mind, etc. It is Ati Sukshma (most subtle). It is all-pervading, interpenetrating and indwelling.
Without and within all beings, immovable and also movable; by reason of His subtlety imperceptible: at hand and far away is That.

This Atman is hidden in all beings, but does not shine forth; but the subtle seers of Truth realise the Atman through their subtle and sharp pointed pure intellect.
Atanu Sukshma Prachodayat, May that bodiless, subtle enlighten.

Remove the Colouring of the Mind

In days of yore there were very able dyers in Marwar or Rajaputana. They would give seven colours to the saree or clothes of ladies. After washing the cloth one colour will fade away. Another colour will shine. After some washing a third colour will manifest in the cloth; then a fourth colour and so on. Even so the mind is coloured when it associates with the different objects of the world. When the mind is Sattvic, it has white colour; when it is Rajasic, it is tinged with red colour; when it is Tamasic, it has a black colour.
The mind plays with the five senses of perception and gets experiences in the waking state. The impressions are lodged in the causal body or Karana Sarira. Ajnana or causal body is like a black sheet of cloth. In it are contained the Samskaras of all your previous births.

The mind is ever rotating like a wheel. It receives the different sense impressions through the avenues of the senses.

In the dream state the doors or windows of the senses are shut. The mind remains alone and plays. It is the subject and it is the object. It projects various sorts of objects, like mountains, rivers, gardens, chariots, cars, etc. , from its own body from the material collected during the waking state. It manufactures curious mixtures and marvellous combinations. Sometimes the experiences of the previous births which are lodged in the causal body flash out during the dreaming state.

Remove the colouring of the mind through meditation on Atman. Do not allow the mind to run into the sensual grooves. Fortify yourself by developing the Vijnanamaya Kosa or intellect through Vichara or enquiry of Brahman, reflection and contemplation. The Vijnanamaya Kosa will serve the purpose of a strong fortress. It will not allow the sense impressions to be lodged in the causal body. It will not allow the impressions of the causal body to come out. It will serve a double purpose.
You will be free from dreams through meditation on the Supreme Being or Brahman when the colouring of the mind has been removed.
Brahma Jnanis or Sages have no dreams.

May you all attain the Turiya or the fourth state of eternal bliss which transcends the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep!

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