Secret of Raja Yoga
by Swami Sivananda
ORDER IN YAMA AND NIYAMA
There is a deliberate order in the five parts or limbs of yama (self-control). Ahimsa (non-violence) comes first, because man must remove his brutal nature first. He must become non-violent; he must develop cosmic love. Only then does he become fit for the practice of yoga. Then comes satyam or truthfulness. Because the whole phenomenon of maya (illusion) is asat or unreal, the aspirant should be aware of this fact. He should ever remember the truth or Brahman. Then comes asteya or non-stealing. Because he must develop moral consciousness, he must know right from wrong, righteousness from unrighteousness; and he must know that all are one. Brahmacarya is a divine attribute.
The aspirant is now becoming a superman by the practice of brahmacarya or celibacy. The fifth is aparigraha. The yogic student is free now from desires, cravings, unnecessary wants, luxuries, desire to possess and enjoy. He has a very expanded heart.
Yama is "taking of vow". Niyama is "religious observance". Yama is not a policy or company manners or courtesy, it is sticking to ideals and principles; it is development of divine traits that will transform human nature into divine nature; it annihilates desires, cravings, evil qualities; it eradicates brutal instinct and brutal nature; it removes harshness, violence, cruelty and covetousness; it fills the heart with cosmic love, kindness, mercy, goodness, purity and divine light. It is the foundation of divine life or yoga, on which the super-structure of samadhi is built. It is the corner-stone of yoga, on which the edifice of superconsciousness is built.
Niyama is canon or religious observance. It consists of five limbs; namely, puca, santosa, tapas, svadhyaya and Isvara pranidhana. Sauca is purity, internal and external. Santosa is contentment. Tapas is austerity or control of senses or meditation. Svadhyaya is study of scriptures. It means also chanting of mantra (name of God) or enquiry. Isvara pranidhana is self-surrender to the Lord. It is consecration of one's work as an offering to the Lord.
There is an intimate relation between yama and niyama. Niyama safeguards yama. If one has internal purity one can get established in brahmacarya. If you have contentment, you will not steal or hurt others or tell lies. It will be easy for you to practise aparigraha.
BLESSING OF AHIMSA
Ahimsa (non-violence) is one of the foremost vows of good life. It is a supreme duty of man-ahimsa paramo dharmah-thus scripture declares. In the regeneration and divinisation of man, the first step is to eliminate the beastly nature. The predominant trait in beasts is cruelty; therefore wise sages prescribed ahimsa. This is a most effective master-method to counteract and eradicate completely the brutal, cruel nature in man.
O earnest aspirant: Ponder the great significance, and immense importance, value and blessings of ahimsa and start its practice now-this moment.
Ahimsa is not merely non-killing as some think. Ahimsa is perfect harmlessness and positive love also. It is to abstain even from the slightest thought of harm to any living creature-mentally, verbally, or by deed. There is no excuse nor exception to the above rule. Harsh words to beggars, servants or inferiors is himsa (cruelty). To fail to relieve pain or trouble in another is negative himsa. To approve of another's harsh actions is against ahimsa. Avoid strictly all forms of harshness, direct or indirect, positive or negative, immediate or delayed. Practise ahimsa in its purest form, O Saumya'. and become divine. Ahimsa and divinity are one.
Ahimsa is a weapon of the strong. It cannot be practised by weaklings. Ahimsa is supreme love. He who embraces ahimsa embraces all, loves all. To begin with, stop all physical violence, stop speaking vulgar and harsh words. Then attack the mind directly. There will be inner agitation. You may think of doing violence. Check this thought-wave through prayer, worship, meditation, enquiry, pranayama (yoga breathing), satvic (pure) food, and study of sacred books. Generate again and again currents of love by cultivating the feeling that 'everything is the self' (atma-bhava), or 'everything is the Lord' (Narayana-bhava).
You will fail one hundred times, but it does not matter. Stand up again. Make fresh resolves and stick to them tenaciously. March on boldly with steady steps, O knower of thyself: Never despair. Study the lives of the apostles of non-violence-Lord Buddha, Lord Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi and others, again and again. Keep their mental picture and ideals before your mind's eye and draw inspiration from them. Carefully watch your conduct, thought and speech and deeds daily and you will grow steadily in the practice of non-violence.
AHIMSA IS SUPREME VIRTUE
That work which gives elevation, joy and peace to the mind, is right. That which brings depression, pain and restlessness to the mind is wrong. This is an easy way to find out what is right and what is wrong.
Selfishness clouds understanding. Therefore if a man has got even a tinge of selfishness, he cannot detect what is right and what is wrong. A very pure, subtle, sharp intellect is needed for this purpose.
The Gita describes the nature of satva (purity), rajas (dynamism) and tamas (inertia in relation to reason) in chapter eighteen. It says: "That which knoweth energy and abstinence, what ought to be done and what ought not to be done, fear and fearlessness, bondage and liberation-that reason is pure, O Partha. That by which one understandeth right from wrong and also what ought to be done, and what ought not to be done-that reason, O Partha, is passionate. That which, enwrapped in darkness, thinketh wrong to be right, and which seeth all things subverted-that reason, O Partha, is of darkness."
Various other definitions are given by wise men to help the students in the path of righteousness. In the Bible it is said "Do unto others as you would be done by."
This is a very good maxim. The whole gist of right conduct is here. If one practises this very carefully, he will not commit any wrong action.
"Ahimsa paramo dharmah". Ahimsa is non-injuring in thought and word and deed. "This is the highest of all virtues." If one is well established in ahimsa of thought and word and deed, one can never do any wrong action.
Ahimsa comes first in the practice of yama or self-restraint. To give pleasure to others is right. To spread misery and pain, is wrong. One can follow this in one's daily conduct towards others and can evolve in one's spiritual path.
Do not perform any act that brings you shame or fear. You will be quite safe if you follow this rule. Stick to any rule that appeals to your reason and conscience and follow it with faith and attention. You will soon evolve and reach the abode of eternal happiness.
WHAT IS SATYAM?
God is truth. He can be realised only by speaking truth and observing truth in thought, word and deed. Truthfulness, equal vision, self-control, absence of envious emulation, forgiveness, modesty, endurance, absence of jealousy, charity, thoughtfulness, disinterested philanthropy, self-possession and unceasing and compassionate harmlessness are the thirteen forms of truth. Your thoughts should agree with your words and your words should agree with your actions. To think of one thing, say another and do a third is horrible-it is nothing but crookedness. By telling lies you pollute your conscience and infect your sub-conscious mind. The habit of telling lies will be carried on to your next birth and you will suffer in birth after birth. Have you ever thought of this?
If you are established in truth, all other virtues will cling to you. Penetrate more deeply into the kingdom of truth. Sacrifice your all for the truth. Die for the truth. Speak the truth. Truth is life and power. Truth is existence. Truth is knowledge. Truth is bliss. Truth is silence. Truth is peace. Truth is light. Truth is love. Live to realise the truth.
Truth is the law of life. Truth means the strength of will to abide by positive principles-a sense of justice, an unbiased mind and recognition of its subtle essence in all life. Truth is like a ladder leading to heaven, or a boat enabling one to cross the ocean of misery. Speak the truth, but let it not be unpleasant and speak not of any pleasing falsehood-this is eternal religion.
Fire burns everything; it is true to its nature. Water flows from a higher level; the seed sprouts and becomes a tree; the scorpion stings; these are all true to their nature. This is satyam. But man violates truth; he is ungrateful. He is not true to his essential nature. Wife poisons the husband; sons are not filial towards their fathers; sons murder their parents; this is not truth. To manifest one's essential divine nature, to manifest divine virtues is satyam or truth. To be true to one's own self is satyam.
A truthful man is free from worry and anxiety, he has a calm mind. He is respected by society. If you speak the truth for twelve years you will get vak-siddhi-then whatever you speak will come to pass. There will be great power in your speech-you will be able to influence thousands.
Asteya is non-stealing. This is one of the five limbs of yama (self-restraint). This is also another form of self-restraint. Why does a man steal? He wants something. When he cannot get it by legitimate ways of earning, he begins to steal things. Desire (trsna) or want is the root cause for stealing. This is a deep-rooted, evil trait in man.
Control desires or (trsnas) and cravings. Reduce your wants. Reflect and do vicara. Think of the evil result of stealing, namely, killing of conscience, dishonour, pin-pricks, guilty conscience, unfitness for yoga, bad name in society, punishment through the law of karma and penal code. Think of the advantages of non-theft (asteya)-honour, clean conscience, reward in heaven, fitness for the practice of yoga. You will at once stop this stealing habit.
Man removes a thing secretly without the knowledge of the owner; he does not like that his act may be known by others. This is stealing. Taking blotting paper, pins, paper, pencil, etc., from the office is stealing. Hoarding money too much is stealing. Eating too much or gluttony is stealing. Ever thinking of objects by increasing the wants is also stealing in a comprehensive sense. Keeping more things than are actually necessary is also stealing. A yogic student must be free from all these forms of theft. He must have a very clean mind-like the pure white cloth or crystal. Then alone atman (self) will shine in his heart.
Man is not very careful and conscientious. His mind brings up very clever arguments. Some secretly take away some old journals which contain some pictures or useful matter and say: "This is nothing. It is only an old copy. It will go into the hands of a shop-keeper for packing." But the thing is, he has removed it without the knowledge of the librarian, so it is theft.
Even a sensitive mind becomes blunt gradually by continuous stealing, by jumping from stealing small things to big articles. Even a little dirt, a little theft affects the mind of a yogic student seriously. He will have to be very careful and vigilant. He must keep the mind as clean as a polished mirror. He must avoid even very little thefts in any form. Then alone will he have success in yoga.
STEPS TO CELIBACY
There are four processes in the practice of brahmacarya (celibacy). First control the sex impulse and sex vasana (habit) through dama (control of senses) and pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), then practise conservation of sex energy. Shut all holes through which energy leaks; then divert the conserved energy into the proper spiritual channels through japa (repetition of God's name), kirtan (chanting), selfless service, pranayama (yoga breathing) and study, vigilance, self-analysis, introspection and vicara (enquiry). Then have conversion or sublimation of the sex-energy. Let it be converted into ojas (spiritual energy) or brahma-tejas (Brahmic radiance) through constant meditation (brahmacintana) and Lord's grace.
A vedantin diverts his mind through asserting, "I am all-purity. I am sexless atman (self). Om. Om. Om." A bhakta (devotee) diverts his mind through japa, kirtan, service of guru (preceptor), service in temple, study of Bhagavatam, Ramayana, etc. A Karma (active) Yogi diverts his mind. He is ever occupied in some kind of useful service or other. A Hatha Yogi converts the sex-energy through kriya yoga and dharana (concentration) and pratipaksa bhavana (meditation on the opposite) method.
In common parlance brahmacarya is single life. In yogic parlance it is restraint of, not only sex-indriya (sense), but all senses. All senses contribute their own share to sexual excitement, sexual urge. The sight raises impure thoughts. Food strengthens the sex indriya, as tongue and genitals are born from the same source. Hearing of love, talks, touch, smell-all excite passion. Therefore all senses must be controlled. Repression or suppression of sex-energy will not help much in the practice of brahmacarya. What is wanted is sublimation. Sex-energy must be entirely converted into ojas sakti or spiritual force. In transformation the gross form assumes a subtle form. The gross semen becomes a subtle force; this is also not enough. Sublimation only gives full protection.
Lustful gazing at women, talking on love matters and about women, gluttony, too much sleep, shaking of body and aimless wandering, a desire to be in the company of women, are all forms of lust. Abandon all these. Practise purity in thought, word and deed and get established in Satchidananda svarupa (essential nature as Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Absolute).
BENEFITS OF NON-COVETOUSNESS
Aparigraha is the fifth limb of yama (self-restraint). Parigraha is covetousness or greed, to possess and enjoy objects of the senses. Aparigraha is the opposite of parigraha. This is non-covetousness or non-acceptance of gifts; it is the absence of craving to possess and enjoy sensual objects. It is a mental state (bhava), wherein the sensual craving is dead. Parigraha leads to anxiety to preserve, to fear of loss, to sorrow in loss, to hatred, anger, untruthfulness, stealing, etc. Aparigraha puts an end to all these defects and bestows peace, contentment and satisfaction.
Aparigraha is indeed an aid to the practice of ahimsa (non-violence), satyam (truth), asteyam (non-stealing). When the craving is not satisfied you become angry, you hate the man who stands in your way of attaining and possessing things. You harm him in different ways; you speak untruth; you begin to steal things. The mind is ever in a state of agitation, restlessness, dissatisfaction and discontentment. Aparigraha removes all these defects. Mithya drsti (the seeing of falsehood in objects), dosa drsti (the seeing of defects in them), vairagya (dispassion), discrimination, dama (control of the senses) and pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses) are aids to the practice of aparigraha. Aparigraha is the common foundation for all yogas, just as dhyana (meditation) is the common meeting point of all yogas. It is a virtue to be practised not only by aspirants but by all persons of the world.
e who has no faith in the grace of the Lord and in the utterance of Lord Krishna in the Gita, "I ensure the welfare of the devotees who constantly think of me", will not practise aparigraha. The practice of aparigraha has wonderful benefits. It removes at one stroke, fear, attachment, disappointment, anxiety, agitation, restlessness, hatred, jealousy, anger, lust, greed, cares, worries, despair, and depression. Therefore practise aparigraha and become a dynamic yogi.
PURITY AND CONTENTMENT
Sauca is internal and external purity. External purity generates pure thoughts. Practice of sauca brings disgust for one's own body and the body of others also. You will soon give up mamata (mineness of body). Take a bath in the early morning and wear simple, clean cloth. You will get the meditative mood quickly. Sauca helps to maintain brahmacarya. The practice of celibacy, kindness, love, mercy, patience, japa (repetition of God's name) and meditation will purify the heart and eradicate jealousy, cruelty, hatred, anger and lust. This is internal sauca.
This is the first anga or limb of niyama (discipline). Niyama and yama (self-restraint) are interdependent. Niyama strengthens and safeguards yama. Removal of lust, anger, hatred, jealousy etc., constitutes internal purity. Internal purity is more important than external purity. Internal purity makes the mind one-pointed; it bestows serenity, cheerfulness, joy, strength, harmony, poise and happiness; it instils love, patience and magnanimity. Therefore develop internal purity through diligent and vigilant effort.
Contentment (santosa) cuts at the root of all desires. It gives success in the practice of yama. It gives peace, one-pointedness of mind, serenity and eternal satisfaction. Divine light will descend in a contented mind alone. A contented man is satisfied with his lot, he is happy in whatever condition he is placed, he does not crave for things he has not got. Contentment is a mystic stream of joy that cools the three fires of samsara and joins the ocean of immortal bliss.
Contentment-this is a most vital subject. You all know the maxim: "A contented mind is a continual feast". The mind is always restless on account of greed. Greed is a kind of internal fire that consumes a man slowly. Contentment is a powerful antidote for the poison of greed. There are four sentinels who guard the domain of moksa (liberation). They are: santi, santosa, satsanga and vicara (peace, contentment, company of the holy and enquiry). If you can approach any of these sentinels, you can get hold of the other three. If you get hold of santosa (contentment) you can easily see the other three following you.
SUPREME PEACE IS YOUR GOAL
Every man in the world is restless and is striving after something. What it is he does not know. In the accomplishment of ambitious projects he seeks the rest that he feels he is in need of-but he finds that worldly greatness, when secured, is a snare and a delusion. He does not find any real happiness or peace in it. He gets degrees, titles, honours, power, name, and fame. He marries, he begets children, he gets all he had supposed would give him happiness. But he finds no rest. Pious men, saints, sages declare that this restlessness of every man, this state of discontent, dissatisfaction and uncomfortableness, of being ill at ease with himself and his surroundings, is solely due to the loss of the companionship of the partner of his soul, God.
Peace is absolute serenity and tranquility, wherein all the mental modifications, thoughts, imagination, whims, fancies, moods, impulses and emotions, instincts etc., cease entirely and the individual soul rests in his own native, pristine glory, in an unruffled state. It is not, of course, the temporary condition of mental quietude which worldly people speak of in common parlance, when they retire for a short time to a solitary bungalow in a forest for a short rest. Peace is the fourth state of superconsciousness. It is the realm of supreme bliss, eternal life and eternal sunshine, where cares, worries, anxieties and fears which torment the soul here, dare not enter; where all distinctions of caste, creed and colour vanish altogether in the one embrace of the divine love and where desires and cravings find their full satiety.
Peace is within. Search for it in the chambers of your heart through one-pointed concentration and meditation. If you do not find peace there, you will not find it anywhere else. Remember, dear friends, that the goal of life is attainment of peace and not the achievement of power, fame and wealth.
Desire is the greatest enemy of peace. There is no peace for him who has no concentration. There can be no happiness for the unpeaceful. In that supreme peace all pains, all sorrows, miseries, tribulations vanish forever.
The peace of the eternal lies near those who know themselves, who are disjoined from desire and passion, subdued in nature and of subdued thoughts. The man who is endowed with supreme faith and who has mastery over his senses, quickly gets supreme peace.
That which purifies the impure mind is tapas. That which regenerates the lower animal nature and generates divine nature is tapas. That which cleanses the mind and destroys lust, anger, greed etc., is tapas. That which destroys tamas (dullness) and rajas (impurity) and increases satva (purity) is tapas. That which steadies the mind and fixes it on the eternal is tapas. That which arrests the outgoing tendencies, destroys vasana (habits), egoism, raga-dvesa (likes and dislikes) and generates dispassion, discrimination and meditation is tapas.
This is the third limb of niyama (discipline) in Raja Yoga. It is one of the three items of kriya (dynamic) yoga. Tapas means austerity or practice of penance. The man of tapas is brilliant like a blazing fire. Tapas means restraint of the senses and meditation. Also tapas leads to control of mind. Standing on one leg, raising one hand up for a long time is also tapas, but this is tamasic (dull) tapas of an ignorant man. Pancagni tapas is sitting in the midst of four fires in the hot sun, having the hot sun as the fifth fire. Vairagis practise this very often. Desire moves the senses; desire can be controlled only if the senses are curbed. Tapas annihilates desires. Annihilate tapas Abhimana (pride of austerity). The unintelligent tapasvin (ascetic) is always irritable, hot-tempered and proud. Practise intelligent tapas.
Mental tapas is more powerful than physical tapas. He who bears heat and cold does physical tapas. He increases his power of endurance, but he may not be able to bear insult. He will be easily upset by a harsh or unkind word. He may take revenge and do tit-for-tat. He has no control over the mind. He has disciplined only the physical body. To keep a balanced mind in all conditions of life, to bear insult, injury and persecutions, to be ever serene, contented and peaceful, to be cheerful in adverse conditions, to have fortitude in meeting danger, to have presence of mind and forbearance, are all forms of mental tapas.
"The men who perform severe austerities, unenjoined by the scriptures, wedded to vanity and egoism, impelled by the force of their desire and passion, unintelligent, tormenting the aggregated elements forming the body and Me also, seated in the inner body, know these to be demoniacal in their resolves". (Gita. Chapter XVII.)
IMPORTANCE OF MOUNA
The organ of speech is a very great distracter of the mind. Too much talking indicates that the man is rajasic (restless). Talking makes the mind outgoing. Mouna (vow of silence) is almost death for the worldly man. It is a great blessing for the spiritual aspirant.
A worldly man always wants company and talk. This is his nature. Energy is wasted in this idle gossiping. Conserve this energy by mouna and utilise it for the contemplation of the divine. If you observe mouna for two months you will realise its advantages. Then you yourself will not leave the practice. If the organ of speech is checked then the eyes and ears come under control quite easily.
Mouna develops will power. It checks the impulse of speech. It is a great help in the observance of truth and the control of anger. Emotions are also controlled and irritability vanishes. A mouni (one who observes mouna) uses measured words and his speech is very impressive. A mouni first thinks whether his speech will wound the feelings of others, what sort of impression it will make on the minds of others, and so on. He is careful in his speech. He is thoughtful and considerate. He weighs each word before it comes out of his mouth. He can stay for a long time in seclusion. Practise. Feel the joy and peace of silence for yourself.
If you wish to observe mouna, you should keep yourself perfectly occupied in japa (repetition of God's name), meditation and mantra-writing. Do not mix with others. Do not come out of your room frequently. The energy used for speech should be sublimated into spiritual energy. It should be utilised for meditation. Then only you will enjoy serenity, calmness, peace and inner spiritual strength.
During mouna introspect. Watch the thoughts. Then you will come to understand the ways of the mind and its workings. You can notice how the mind runs from one object to another in a moment's time. You will derive immense benefit from the practice of mouna. Real mouna is silence of the mind. Physical mouna eventually leads to silence of the mind.
Mouna of the mind is far superior to the mouna of speech. Mouna should come by itself. It must be natural. Forced mouna is only wrestling with the mind. It is an effort. If you live in truth, then mouna will come by itself, and there will be absolute peace.
STUDY THE SCRIPTURES
Svadhyaya is study of scriptures and books written by realised sages. It is one of the limbs of niyama (discipline) in Raja Yoga. Svadhyaya is also enquiry of the nature of atman (self), or, "Who am I?" It is recitation of mantras (sacred formulas) also. Svadhyaya is indirect satsanga, when you cannot get positive satsanga of mahatmas (company of holy ones). Svadhyaya clears doubts, it strengthens the flickering faith, it induces strong yearning for liberation or aspiration, it gives encouragement and illumination, it places before you a list of saints who trod the path, encountered and removed difficulties, and thus cheers you up with hope and vigour. It fills the mind with satva (purity). It inspires and elevates the mind. It helps concentration and meditation. It cuts new satvic (pure) grooves and makes the mind run in these new grooves.
Svadhyaya is daily study of religious scriptures. It is daily parayana (study) of sacred books. It is the fourth anga (limb) of Raja Yoga niyama. It inspires and elevates the mind to high spiritual altitude. It clears doubts. It weeds out unholy ideas and cuts new spiritual grooves for the mind to move along. It reduces wandering of the mind (viksepa). It helps concentration. It forms a kind of lower (savikalpa) samadhi (superconsciousness). It serves the purpose of spiritual pasture for the mind to graze upon. When you study the sacred books, you are in tune with the authors who are realised souls; you draw inspiration and become ecstatic.
Japa is the best of all spiritual practices in this modern age. It is the easiest too. Divine name alone will give you all success and bestow the highest spiritual attainments on you. The seeker after truth realises the highest goal of japa or recitation of the Lord's name alone. Have faith in the saving grace of God and in the power of the Lord's name. Repetition of the Lord's name is a sure medicine for the disease of birth and death.
Japa of a mantra can bring the practitioner the realisation of his highest goal, even though he has no knowledge of its meaning. There is an indescribable power in the name of God (the mantra). If you repeat it with concentration on it's meaning you will attain God-realisation quickly.
JAPA IS IMPORTANT
Japa is an important anga (limb) of yoga. In the Gita you will find: "Yajnanam japa yajnosmi-among yajnas (religious practice) I am japa yajna". In kali yuga (dark age) the practice of japa alone can give eternal peace, bliss and immortality. Japa ultimately results in samadhi (communion with the Lord). Japa must become habitual and must be attended with satvic (divine) bhava (feeling), purity, love and faith. There is no yoga greater than Japa Yoga. It can give you all siddhis (powers), whatever you want, bhakti (devotion) and mukti (freedom).
Japa is the repetition of the mantra (mystic formula). Dhyana is meditation on the form of the Lord and His attributes. This is the difference between japa and dhyana: there is meditation or dhyana with japa (japa-sahita): there is meditation or dhyana without japa (japa-rahita). In the beginning you should combine dhyana with japa. As you advance the japa drops away by itself-meditation alone remains. At an advanced stage you can practise concentration separately. You can do whatever you like best in this respect. Om is both saguna and nirguna (manifested and unmanifested) Brahman. If you are a devotee of Rama you can repeat Om Rama for the manifestation of the manifested Brahman.
The name (nama) and the object (rupa), signified by the name, are inseparable. Whenever you think of the name of your son, his figure stands before your mental eye-and vice versa. Even so, when you do japa of Rama Rama or Krishna Krishna, the picture of Rama or Krishna will come before your mind. Therefore japa and dhyana go together. They are inseparable.
Whilst you are doing japa of any mantra, think that you are really praying to your Ista Devata (chosen, beloved divinity). Think that your Ista Devata is really listening to you, that He is looking at you with merciful or graceful eyes and that, with open hands, He is giving you full abhaya dana (asking you to be free from all fears whatsoever) with a view to giving you your desired objects. Entertain this bhava.
Do the japa with feeling. Know the meaning of the mantra. Feel the Lord's presence in everything, everywhere. Draw closer to Him when you repeat His name. Think He is shining in the chambers of your heart. Think that He is witnessing the repetition of the mantra, just as He is the witness of your every action.
INSTRUCTION IN JAPA
Make the divine name the sheet-anchor and prop of your life. If you take to the recitation of the divine name, all inauspiciousness will certainly vanish. Om Tat Sat is the most excellent of mantras (mystic formula). One becomes a siddha (perfect being) by japa of this mantra, Om Tat Sat. By repetition of this mantra, Om Tat Sat one becomes the conqueror of death. Practice of the divine names and sincere prayer to the Lord, are the greatest purifiers of the heart and of human nature.
After selecting a suitable mantra, stick to it. Frequent change of mantra is not desirable. All mantras mean and signify the same thing-the supreme truth, the one eternal, infinite, almighty being. Ever remember the Lord. His divine name is the greatest treasure in this life. His name has got indescribable power. It bestows blessings upon all those who have faith.
Remembrance of the Lord is auspiciousness and forgetfulness of the Lord is inauspiciousness. Reciting the names of the Lord at bedtime is a good practice. Sing the Lord's names. Dance in ecstasy. Be regular in your sadhana (spiritual practice). Realise the self in this very birth.
Japa is of three kinds: manasic (mental), upamsu (humming) and vaikhari (audible) japa. Mental japa is more powerful than audible japa.
Get up at 4 a.m. and do japa for two hours. This is the most favourable time for japa and for meditation. If you cannot take a bath, wash your hands, face, feet before sitting for japa. Face north when sitting as this enhances the efficacy of the japa. Sit on a kusa (grass) seat or deer skin or rug, with a white cloth spread over it. This conserves body electricity. Recite some prayers before starting japa. Have a steady pose. Be able to sit on padma, siddhas or sukha asana for three hours at a stretch.
Repetition of the mantra removes the dirt of the mind things such as lust, anger and greed. The mind from which the impurities have been removed, acquires the capacity to reflect the highest spiritual truth.
Never do japa (repetition of God's name) in a hurried manner. Do it slowly with one-pointedness of mind and single-minded devotion. Pronounce the mantra distinctly and without mistakes. Do not repeat it too quickly or too slowly.
Do not use the index finger while telling the beads. Use the thumb, the middle and the ring fingers. When the counting of one mill is over, revert the mill and come back again. Cross not the meru (the "top" bead in the rosary). Whilst doing japa, cover your hand with a towel.
Be vigilant. Keep an alert attention during japa. When sleep tries to overpower you, stand up and do japa. Resolve to finish a certain minimum number of malas before leaving your seat.
The mala (rosary) is a whip to goad the mind towards God. Sometimes do japa without a mala; just go by the clock. Along with the japa, practise meditation. Gradually japa will drop and meditation alone will continue.
Have four sittings for japa each day. These should be in the early morning, at noon, in the evening and at night. Regularity in japa sadhana (practice) is most essential. Sit in the same place, at the same time, always.
Japa must become a habit. Even in dream you must be doing japa. Japa Yoga is the easiest, quickest, safest, surest and cheapest way for attaining God-realisation. Glory to the Lord! Glory, glory to his name.
Hold fast to the Lord. Love Him. Embrace Him. Do not worry over trifles. Do japa constantly. Recite the name constantly. The name of the Lord alone is bound to achieve what nothing else can achieve in the kali yuga (iron age). Wash the mind with the water of the Lord's name. Cleanse it of desire, jealousy, pride, hatred, etc. Sing the name again and again. You will reach the other shore of fearlessness and immortality.
Surrender is Ishvarapranidhana-the devotee consecrates all his works and their fruits to the Lord. The devotee has no will of his own. He says unto the Lord, "I am thine. All is thine. Thy will be done. I am an instrument in thy hands." In surrendering one's will to the Lord, his will becomes one with the cosmic will. He becomes one with the Lord. There is no loss in surrendering one's will to the Lord.
Self-surrender is complete surrender of the self to God. Self-surrender makes the devotee feel the reality of divine grace and the Lord's readiness to bestow help on him at all times. The divine influence streams into his being and moulds it to make it a fit medium for divine realisation and divine instrumentality.
Surrender and grace are interrelated. Surrender draws down grace and grace makes surrender complete. Surrender starts the purification of the heart and grace completes it. Without grace complete unification is not possible. Grace divinises your being in order that the constant inflow and inspiration can be received and retained. It is through divine grace alone that one's whole being is galvanised and rejuvenated.
The self-arrogating little ego persists and resists again and again. It clings leech-like to old habits, cravings and desires. It wages guerilla war; it resists surrender. It demands certain objects for its secret gratification. The whole being should be surrendered. That is the reason why Lord Krishna says: "tameva saranam gaccha sarvabhavena bharata, (flee unto Him for shelter with all thy being, O Bharata)". The citta, the ego, the mind, the intellect and the soul, should all be placed at the feet of the Lord. Mira did this and so obtained the grace of Lord Krishna and became one with him.
The vulgar, stiff, obstinate ego is harder than diamond, reinforced concrete or steel. It is very difficult to melt it. Constant vigilance and ceaseless effort are necessary to slay this dire enemy of peace and wisdom. It keeps subtle desires for its own silent appeasement. Introspect. Find out the subtle desires that lurk in the corners of your heart, through the search-light of concentration and discrimination. Kill them through regular, silent meditation.
SELF-SURRENDER-TRUE AND FALSE
Self-surrender is a safe and sure means of God-realisation. Surrender yourself and all your belongings to the feet of the supreme. Live a life of godliness. Think that nothing is yours and that everything belongs to God-this is surrender to God. Give the power of attorney to God; let him do whatever he wants. You will have no worry and no anxiety. You will be peaceful.
Surrender contains intense love and faith. It must be complete-the entire being must be surrendered to the Lord-mind, intellect, citta and egoism. Desire and egoism are the two great obstacles to self-surrender.
If the mind says: "I am thine O Lord"; if the ego says "I must become a High Court Judge"; if the intellect says: "I am a great devotee"; if the citta says: "I must attain siddhis"; this will not constitute perfect, unreserved surrender. This is only cheating the Lord, the inner ruler and witness.
After surrendering to the Lord you should not grumble, fret and fume when any trouble comes. You should not complain to the Lord: "O Lord, you have no eyes. You have no compassion." If you complain, then there is no meaning in your surrender.
Through surrender the devotee immerses himself into the eternal essence. You can endear yourself to the Lord only by self-surrender. The more the surrender the more the grace.
In difficulties and struggles, God will give you the strength and inner peace to bear them-this is his grace. Constant remembrance of the Lord; constant recitation of His name will fill your heart with satva (purity) and immense strength and peace to face the most trying conditions with perfect calmness and serenity.
Have perfect trust in God. Surrender to Him. Place yourself in his loving care-do this with your whole heart and mind, with perfect confidence and faith. Worry not about your future, about money, about your health-He will take care of you. You will have plenty; you will have immense strength and wonderful health.
YOGA OF SELF-SURRENDER
Repeat this formula very often and with intense faith: "The Lord is my strength, my support and my stay." Thus you will derive strength, power and peace.
God knows what is best for you and He does what is best for you. His ways are mysterious-know His ways and become wise.
Slay egoism and desire, they are the enemies, the obstacles of self-surrender. You may accuse God and say: "He is not just; He is cruel. Vicious persons are thriving I am virtuous and yet I suffer. There is no God." Later on you will realise that He has done the best thing for you.
Do not pray to the Lord for the removal of sufferings. Pray to Him to grant you power of endurance and patience to bear all calamities.
A devotee remains unaffected by adversities, trials and tribulations. He knows and feels s that they are all karmic purgations and are the real messengers of God. He welcomes them calmly.
A devotee alone gets troubles and adversities; because this is his last birth many karmas have to be worked out and he must be united with the Lord in this very birth.
God gives immense strength and patience to His devotee to bear troubles and calamities. The devotee is ever calm and cheerful-he is not affected by them as his mind ever dwells in the contemplation of the Lord. He is not body-conscious.
Murmer not. Grumble not. Even a leaf cannot fall without the will of God. What is destined to take place as willed by God, takes place. Face the difficulties, the battle of life with a smile. Become a brave soldier. Difficulties come to intensify your faith, to strengthen your will and power of endurance and to turn your mind more and more towards God.
Pain is the great eye-opener. It is your silent teacher. It will make you remember God. Kunti prayed "O Lord Krishna, give me pain always so that I may ever remember you." The more troubles and adversities you get, the stronger and firmer will be your faith in God. They will mould you into a divine being. Welcome them.
Seek God's grace through self-surrender and He will show you the way. Transient are all mundane things! Evanescent are all earthly forms! Seek the immortal and attain bliss eternal.
DEVELOP THE BODY TOO
Physical culture or development of the body is as important as the development of the mind, will or memory. If the body is not kept strong and healthy, vigorous and active, no culture is possible. All cultures depend on a sound body. There is a wise saying: "A sound mind in a sound body." The body is the-temple of God. It should be kept scrupulously clean by daily bath, a good scrub with a clean towel -this opens the pores which may have been clogged by sweat and sebum.
There are different types of physical culture. Select one according to your needs, taste, temperament and capacity. A man in poor health should take long brisk walks, morning and evening. Always walk alone; then you feel the presence of the almighty everywhere and you can be in perfect harmony with nature. Morning walks are pleasant. The cool breeze is refreshing and the fragrance of the flowers is invigorating. Finish the walk before sunrise. The walking itself should be brisk; you should have good perspiration. Only then it is exercise. Walk at least three or four miles a day. Do pranayama whilst walking. Inhale for six steps, retain for six steps and then exhale for six steps. This is good practice.
Be strictly regular in the performance of the exercises-this is essential for rapid progress. Those doing vigorous exercise should take substantial, nutritious food-otherwise their muscles will waste. They should take plenty of ghee (clarified butter), milk, butter, nuts etc. Those who practise the head-stand should take a light meal about ten minutes after they have finished the asanas. Weigh your body once a month and keep a record. Do exercise both morning and evening. Then rest for half an hour before taking your bath.
Observe brahmacarya (celibacy) as much as you can. If you remain a strict celibate you will attain astonishing results. What is there in a woman? What is there in repeating the same old act again and again which is so disgraceful? Are you not ashamed of all that? Do you not realise that it is all the play of dvidya (ignorance) and false moha (delusion)? Strengthen the body and then do spiritual sadhana (practice). You will enjoy real bliss. I beseech you-learn to be wise-at least from now on.
Treat this body as your servant and instrument. You are distinct from this physical body which is only made up of the five elements and is subject to decay and death. You are in essence the reality, the all-pervading, imperishable atman (self). Identification with the body is the root-cause for bondage, for human misery and suffering. Do not become the slave of the body.
MENTAL HEALTH IS VITAL
Good health is the prerequisite for spiritual pursuits. The practice of yoga asanas for even fifteen minutes a day will help to keep good health. Become quite fit and you will be hale and hearty. Without good health you cannot wage war against the turbulent senses and the boisterous mind.
Body, mind and spirit constitute man. There is an intimate relation between body and mind. The body is the mould prepared by the mind, for its own enjoyment. Spirit is the substratum for the body and the mind. Mental health is even more vital than physical health. The spring of loveliness flows from health.
Every joy that enlivens your heart comes from health. Lack of cheerfulness contributes to physical ill-health. If one is always cheerful and entertains good and divine thoughts, he will not suffer from any disease. He will have perfect health at all times.
Allow your body to respond freely to the action of natural agents. Put yourself in tune with the source of all health, power and strength. The cosmic force for well-being will then in-fill you. This is the ultimate factor behind all therapeutics. This is the secret to bear in mind. Use it for the background for the treatment of your ills, both bodily and mental.
With your being harmonised with the all-pervading cosmic being, you will cross the ocean of worldly existence by vigorous spiritual sadhana (practice). And, through His abundant grace and blessing, may you attain health and long life.
In one's endeavour to utilise one's power in the quest of truth, the health of the body is of great importance. Man always talks of good health but does little or nothing about it. You must have a body that is fit, strong and healthy-then alone you will have a mind that can work to the full capacity.
Health and strength can be yours with a little positive thinking, careful regulation of personal habits, observance of nature's laws and daily meditation. The source of all health and healing is thy self. The power to overcome all conditions lies in you. Persistently assert your ever perfect spiritual nature. Feel thyself to be an ocean of perfect health, strength and vigour. Allow the mind to dwell on this continuously.
Health is wealth. Good health is a valuable asset for one and all. It can be achieved by the practice of yoga asanas, which control the emotions and produce mental peace. It also distributes prana evenly throughout the body and different systems. It helps in maintaining the healthy functioning of the internal organs. It gives internal massage to the various abdominal organs.
Physical exercises draw the prana out but asanas send the prana in. The practice of asanas cures many diseases and it awakens the kundalini shakti. These are the chief advantages of the yogic system of exercises advantages which none of the other systems have.
Practise a few asanas daily-at least for fifteen minutes. Soon you will possess wonderful health. Be regular in your practice-this is of paramount importance.
Asanas should be done on an empty stomach in the morning or at least three hours after food. Morning is the best time to do the asanas. Do not wear your spectacles whilst doing them. Wear a langotee and a singlet if necessary.
Be moderate in your diet. Practise brahmacarya (celibacy). Begin with a minimum time and gradually increase it. Answer the calls of nature before you begin doing the asanas.
The endocrine glands play an important part in the economy of nature. The practice of sarvangasana keeps the thyroid healthy and this means a healthy functioning of all the organs and systems in the body.
The diaphragm, the muscular partition between the chest and the abdomen, is also developed by certain exercises such as-dhanurasana, mayurasana, and pascimottgnasana. The movement of the diaphragm massages the abdominal viscera and organs. There will be daily evacuation of the bowels in the morning. Constipation, dyspepsia and a host of other ailments of the stomach and intestines will disappear.
Four asanas are prescribed for the purposes of japa (repetition of God's name) and meditation. They are padma, siddha, svastika and sukha. Be able to sit in any of these for three hours without shaking. Then only you will be able to control the breath and do meditation. If you can be steady in the posture for even an hour you will acquire a one-pointed mind and feel infinite peace.
BENEFITS OF YOGA ASANAS
The practice of Asanas develops the body and the practitioner himself is kept agile and nimble. He has an elastic spine and a supple body. He has a keen and vigorous appetite. Any trouble is removed at its starting point by the practice of Asanas.
The three important organs, that is the heart, the lungs, and the brain and cerebro-spinal system, are kept in a healthy condition. The vital forces are preserved and increased. The circulation of the blood in the arteries and veins is kept in proper order by the practice of Asanas. There is no stagnation of the blood in any part of the body.
The practitioner of asanas always laughs heartily and radiates joy, strength and vigour wherever he moves. He always gets success in all his attempts. He looks very young even at the age of sixty. He is endowed with a peculiar glow in his face and eyes. He possesses a peculiar charm in his smile.
By practising the asanas regularly, men and women will acquire a figure which will enhance their beauty, and a suppleness which gives charm and elegance to every movement.
Health is thy birthright-not disease. Strength is thy heritage but not weakness; efficiency but not inefficiency; courage but not fear; bliss but not sorrow; peace but not restlessness; knowledge but not ignorance; immortality but not mortality.
This body is the moving temple of God. It is an instrument for crossing the ocean of samsara or the round of birth and death. It is the instrument for attaining the supreme abode of immortality, eternal bliss and perennial joy. It is a horse that can take you to the destination, the goal of life. Therefore it must be kept healthy and strong.
Proper training and care of the body, on an intelligent basis, is necessary. There should be harmonious development of all the muscles of the body, organs, nerves and frame.
SEE THE RESULTS
For those who have poorly developed chests, respiratory exercises are necessary. For those who have excess fat in the abdomen, abdominal exercises are essential. Exercises that are best calculated to improve the function of vital inner organs of the body and tone them up to counteract the tendency towards disease, are also indispensable.
The lungs can be developed through the practice of deep breathing exercises. By pranayama (yoga breathing), the apices of the lungs will get a proper supply of oxygen. There will be an improvement in the quality and the quantity of the blood. All the tissues and cells will be nourished with pure blood and lymph. The process of metabolism will be carried out in an efficient manner.
If the joints move freely, the ligaments and the surrounding tissues will be in a proper, healthy condition. Free movement of the spine will prevent stiffening and contraction of the spine. Ossification and degeneration of the bones of the spinal column (merudanda) will also be checked. A thickened and immovable joint gives a great deal of discomfort and uneasiness.
By the practice of asanas free movement is given to the elbow, wrist, ankle, shoulder and spinal joints. Muscles of the cervical, dorsal and lumbar regions are stretched and relaxed. There is dorsal and lumbar lifting and the body is kept in a fit condition.
Asanas are the system of yogic exercises of the Indian rsis (sages) of yore, based on exact principles. These are adapted for both men and women, for people of the East and West. You can keep up meditation while performing the asanas. This is accompanied by pranayama or regulation of the breath.
These exercises are preventative and curative. Some of them twist the body forwards and backwards. Others help the lateral movement of the spine. Thus the body as a whole is developed, toned and strengthened. The whole course can be finished in fifteen minutes. Within this short period you can realise the maximum benefit. This system is simple, exact, efficacious, economical of time and capable of being self-practised.
PRANA AND PRANAYAMA
Breath is external manifestation of prana, the vital force. Breath, like electricity, is gross prana. Breath is sthula (gross) and prana is suksma (subtle). By exercising control over this breathing you can control the subtle prana inside. Control of prana means control of mind. Mind cannot operate without the help of prana.
The vibrations of prana produce thought in the mind. It is prana that moves the mind. It is prana that sets the mind in motion. It is the suksma prana or psychic prana that is intimately connected with the mind.
Breath represents the important flywheel of an engine. Just as other wheels stop when the driver stops the flywheel, all other organs stop working when the yogi stops the breath. If you can control the flywheel you can easily control the other wheels.
Likewise, if you can control the breath, the external breath, then you can easily control the inner vital force, the prana. The process by which the prana is controlled, by the regulation of external breath, is termed pranayama.
Just as the goldsmith removes the impurities from gold, by heating it in the hot furnace and by strongly blowing the blow-pipe, so also the yogic method removes the impurities of the body and the indriyas (senses), by blowing the lungs-that is, by practising pranayama.
The chief aim of pranayama is to unite the prana with the apana and to take the united pranapana slowly towards the head. The effects, or fruit, of pranayama is the awakening of the sleeping kundalini.
"He who knows prana knows the veda," is the important declaration of the srutis. In the Vedanta Sutras you will find: "For the same reason, breath is Brahman." Prana is the sum total of all energy that is manifest in the universe. It is the sum total of all the forces in nature.
Prana is the sum total of all latent forces and powers which are hidden in men and which lie everywhere around us. Heat, light, electricity and magnetism are all manifestations of prana. All forces, all powers, and prana, spring from the fountain or common source-the atman.
Prana is expended by thinking, willing, acting, moving, talking, writing, etc. A healthy and strong man has an abundance of prana, nerve force, vitality. Prana is supplied in water, in food, in air and in solar energy. Excess prana is stored in the brain and nerve centres. Seminal energy, when sublimated or transformed, supplies an abundance of prana to the system. It is stored in the brain in the form of 'ojas'.
The yogi stores abundant prana by regular practice of pranayama. The yogi who has stored up a large supply of prana radiates strength and vitality. Those who come in close contact with him imbibe prana from him and get strength, vigour, vitality and exhilaration of spirits. Just as water flows from one vessel to another, prana flows, like a steady current, from a developed yogi to a weaker person. This may actually be seen by one who has developed his inner, psychic vision.
Breath is the external manifestation of gross prana. Correct habits of breathing must be established by the regular practice of pranayama. If you can control prana, you can completely control all the forces of the universe, mental and physical. The yogi can also control the omnipresent, manifesting power out of which all energies take their origin. He can control magnetism, electricity, gravitation, cohesion, nerve-currents, vital forces or thought vibrations. In fact he can control the total forces of the universe, both physical and mental.
A yogi can withdraw prana from any area. That area then becomes numb; it becomes impervious to heat and cold. He can send prana also to any area, and make it oversensitive. He can send prana to the eyes and see distant objects. He can send prana to the nose and can experience divya gandha (supernatural scent). He can send prana to the tongue and can experience supersensuous taste.
There is great significance in the order of the angas (limbs) of Raja Yoga. Practice of asana (posture) controls rajas (restlessness). Brahmacarya (celibacy) purifies the prana. Pranayama purifies the nadis (astral tubes). Pranayama it steadies the mind and makes it fit for concentration . It removes rajas and tamas (dullness) The practice of yama (self-restraint), niyama (discipline), asana and pranayama are all auxiliaries in the practice of concentration. Pranayama reduces the velocity of the mind. It makes it run and smaller and smaller circles.
Kundalini Sakti is the coiled up, dormant, cosmic power that underlies all organic and inorganic matter. It is the primordial energy that lies at the basal centre (muladhara cakra) in a dormant, potential state. Kundalini Yoga treats of kundalini sakti, the seven cakras (centres of spiritual energy), and the arousing of this sleeping kundalini.
Nadis are astral tubes that carry pranic currents. They cannot be seen with the naked eye. They are not the ordinary nerves, arteries and veins. There are 72,000 nadis. Three are important. They are the ida, the pingala, and the susumna. Susumna is the most important because kundalini passes through this nadi only.
The first step in kundalini yoga is the purification of the nadis. When susumna is pure, then only will the kundalini pass through it. Kundalini is awakened by pranayama, asana and mudras by hatha yogins; through concentration by raja yogins; through devotion and perfect self-surrender by devotees; through analytical will by the jnanis; by japa (repetition) of mantra (God's name) and the grace of the guru (preceptor).
That aspirant who has firm faith in the scriptures, who is courageous, devotional, humble, generously merciful., pure and dispassionate, can easily awaken the kundalini and attain success in samadhi (superconsciousness). He should also be equipped with right conduct and self-restraint. He should constantly engage himself in the service of his guru and he should be free from lust, anger, delusion, greed and vanity.
When kundalini is taken to the sahasrara (the crown of the head), when she is united with Lord Siva, perfect samadhi (the superconscious, blissful state) ensues. Now the yogi drinks the nectar of immortality. May mother kundalini guide you all in your yogic practices! May her blessings be upon you all!
WHAT IS THIS WORLD?
This world is a mass of energy or electrons,
This is the view of scientists.
This world is all sakti,
This is the view of the saktas.
The essence of the world is Brahman, the absolute, This is the view of vedantins.
-Thus sayeth Sivananda
DEVELOP YOUR SIGHT
Whenever you meet a person, look at his figure carefully from top to bottom. Mentally note his peculiar features-the condition of his eyes, eyebrows, teeth, arms etc., the sort of dress he is wearing, what kind of cap he wears, whether he has a moustache or not. Notice his behaviour, his looks, his gait, whether he seems to be kind-hearted or cruel, whether he is intelligent or dull, polite or impolite, his colour, etc.
Many people cannot give a clear description of the faces of their own friends, their own parents! The obvious reason is that they have not developed the power of memory. Enter your friend's room; notice carefully all the things you see there. Then close your eyes and reflect. Come out of the room and note mentally all the things which the room contains, in order. Then re-enter the room and verify what you noticed. Practise this for some months-you will develop a wonderful power of sight.
Memory culture is very, very important. It brings success in God-realisation as well. A forgetful man always fails in his endeavours-he commits serious mistakes again and again. A man with a strong and retentive memory gets sanguine success in all his ventures and undertakings. He who has memory can conduct his business affairs very successfully. A student who has a retentive memory will get success in all his examinations. Intelligence is only one-tenth of memory.
The Sanskrit term for memory is smrti. Smarana is remembering. This is the function of the sub-conscious mind or citta. The samskaras (habits) of thinking and acting are deeply impressed in the citta, which is like the sensitive plate of a camera. All impressions are indelibly recorded there. Whenever you attempt to remember past events or things, they come to the surface of the mind through the trap-door. They come out in the form of big waves of thought or as mental images.
He who dwells in the sub-conscious mind (citta) and in memory, he who is within this memory, whom the citta and the memory do not know, whose body is the memory (and sub-conscious mind), who rules the memory and citta from within, he is thy self, the inner ruler, Immortal Atman, Antaryami, Amritam. My silent adorations and prostrations to this Anner Ruler!
Take up memory culture. Take to any exercise that suits you best and put it into daily practice. Keep a daily record this is very important. Mere skipping over the pages will not do. You will not be benefited. If you really want rapid improvement, if you want to become a real man, put the lessons into practice and take down notes. You can watch your progress and correct your mistakes.
Learn the art of extracting work from the subconscious mind. If you want to remember a forgotten passage, give a definite message to the sub-conscious mind just before you retire to bed. Talk to the sub-conscious mind, just as you would talk to a friend. Give the order in clear terms. The following morning it will place the words before you. If this fails wait with a calm mind till the answer comes from the sub-conscious mind itself.
After you are well up in memory culture, you can take up will culture. Success in memory culture will give you a great impetus in will culture. You will rejoice now. You will train every nerve in the practice of will culture. You have started the current and it will keep up your zeal and enthusiasm.
Practise the assertions boldly and calmly. Fully understand the meaning of every assertion. Try to feel it. This feeling will slowly manifest. Do not be discouraged. You will have to fight your old enemies, the old samskaras. Try to develop patience, attention, power of endurance, balance of mind, presence of mind and so on.
Pay great attention to this; you will derive great benefit from it. Will is dynamic soul-force. If rendered pure and irresistible, it can work wonders, There is nothing you cannot achieve with a strong will, The majority of persons have no consciousness of will or mind or intellect, though they talk much of 'will' and 'mind'.
The will has become impure and weak through vasanas (desires). When a desire is controlled it becomes changed into will. Sexual energy, muscular energy, anger, etc., are all transmuted into will-force when they are controlled. The fewer the desires, the stronger the will.
The force of brahmacarya is at the back of will. No will culture is possible without brahmacarya. Will is another name for the force of celibacy. Satsankalpa is the pure willing of jnanis. They can do anything through satsankalpa.
DEVELOP WILL POWER
Attention, power of endurance, overcoming aversion, dislikes and irritations, fortitude in suffering, tapas, fasting, patience, command of temper, forbearance, clemency mental power of endurance, firmness in meeting danger, power of resistance in attack, keeping up daily diary-all the pave a long way towards developing the will. You should patiently hear the words of others even though they are not interesting and charming. You should not fret and fume. Patient hearing develops will and wins the hearts of other Do actions or tasks that are uninteresting-this also develops will power. The actions that are uninteresting will become interesting after some time.
Never complain against bad environments. Create your own mental world wherever you remain, wherever you go. The mind deludes you, at every moment, at every step. Try to overcome the obstacles and difficulties by suitable means Do not try to run from bad, unfavourable environments. Go has placed you there to make you grow quickly.
Man must learn to separate himself from the vehicles in which he thinks, feels, acts, desires. He must know them to be part of the not-self, as material, external to life Thus the energy that went out to objects of lower desires becomes a higher desire, guided by the mind, and is then prepared to be transmuted into will.
As the lower mind merges into the higher will and into that which is wisdom, the aspect of pure will emerges as the power of the spirit, self-determined, self-ruled, in perfect harmony with the supreme will and therefore free. Then only, all the bonds are broken and the spirit is unconstrained by anything outside itself. Then and then al can the will be said to be free.
If a calamity occurs, your mind should not be upset. Keep the mind cool and calm. Have presence of mind. Do not cry over spilt milk-it has come to pass, so face it with a cheerful countenance. Make the best of things. "What cannot be cured must be endured." Keep an unruffled mind. Do not be carried away by undue sentiments and bubbling emotions. Control the mind. Reflect how. the calamity has come about.
There is always scope for suitable, effective, easy methods to tide over the crisis. Allow the turban to pass off when your head is on the point of being knocked down. This is sagacity. This is prudence. This is wisdom. Develop foresight, wisdom-many obstacles and calamities will be obviated. Do not brood over failures, defects, mistakes. This will weaken your will power. Let the defects remain there. They will be removed quickly when the will grows and when the will becomes purer and purer, stronger and stronger.
WITHDRAW THE MIND
Pratyahara is abstraction or withdrawal of the senses. From it starts the real inner spiritual life and the external world is shut out. Yama, niyama, asana, pranayama all prepare the aspirant for the practice of pratyahara. The mind is rendered calm by the practice of brahmacarya (celibacy) and aparigraha (non-covetousness). Asana and pranayama squeeze out the rajas (restlessness). Pranayama checks the out-going tendencies of the mind. Now the mind can easily be detached.
Pratyahara gives inner spiritual strength and great peace of mind. It develops will power and removes all sorts of distractions. An unsteady asana (posture), too much talking, too much mixing, too much work, too much food, too much walking, too much of activity (vyavahara) and poking one's nose into the affairs of others, all produce much distraction of the mind and stand in the way of the practice of pratyahara.
When you mix with people, again and again, fix the mind on your laksya (point of concentration). Rest in your background of thought-whether saguna (form) or abstract vedantic image. This serves as a strong fortress to protect you from the onslaught of worldly thoughts.
Keep a steady pose, be regular in the practice of pranayama, cultivate vairagya (dispassion), vicara (enquiry) and viveka (wisdom). Always look at the defects of a sensual life. Develop serenity, contentment, patience. Be persevering, tenacious and ever-vigilant. Pray to the Lord. Sing. Do japa (repetition of God's name). Obtain divine grace. Observe mouna (silence), moderation in diet and seclusion. Practise celibacy. Stick to resolves. Live in seclusion. Be bold. Be pure. Be wise. Have satsanga (holy company). Give up evil company. Then you will have success in pratyahara.
Concentration is the direct method to get success in pratyahara. Sit in a quiet room and withdraw the senses. Have a spiritual background of thought and the mind will rest in this when released from work. Japa is another method. Divide the mind. Fix one portion on God and let the other portion work. Sightless gaze is also another aid. Feel that this world is the manifestation of the Lord. Understand that lasting happiness can only be had in the atman within.
It is difficult to say where pratyahara ends and concentration begins. Concentration for twenty seconds makes one meditation and twenty such meditations make one samadhi (superconscious state). But this is only for beginners.
YOUR FOREMOST DUTY-CONCENTRATION
Sri Shankara writes that a man's duty consists in the control of the senses and the concentration of the mind. As long as one's thoughts are not thoroughly destroyed, through persistent practice, a man should ever be concentrating his mind on one truth at a time. Through such unremitting practice, one-pointedness will accrue and instantly all the hosts of thoughts will vanish. Concentration is opposed to sensuous desires, bliss to flurry and worry, sustained thinking to perplexity, applied thinking to sloth and torpor and rapture to ill-will.
You are born to concentrate the mind on God after collecting the mental rays that are dissipated on various objects. This is your foremost duty, but you forget it on account of delusion for family, money, power, position, name and fame. Concentration of the mind on God after purification can give you real happiness and knowledge. You are born for this purpose only. Fix the mind on atman, the all-pervading. pure intelligence and self-luminous effulgence. Stand firm in Brahman, then you will become established in Brahman.
Attention plays a great part in concentration. It is the basis of will. The force with which anything strikes the mind is generally in proportion to the degree of attention bestowed on it. Attention on any object may be either subjective (internal) or objective (external). Practise concentrating your attention on unpleasant tasks, upon uninteresting objects and ideas. Then many mental weaknesses will vanish and the mind will become stronger and stronger.
Do a thing that the mind does not want to do. Do not do a thing that the mind wants to do. Don't fulfill your desires; don't hope; don't expect. Destroy vicious desires through virtuous desires and then destroy the virtuous desires also, through one strong desire for liberation. Practice of pranayama destroys rajas (activity ) and tamas (dullness) and makes the mind steady and one-pointed.
THE PRACTICE OF CONCENTRATION
Fix the mind on some object, within the body or without. Keep it there, steadily, for some time. This is concentration. Practise this daily.
Ethical perfection is a matter of paramount importance. You can concentrate internally on any of the seven centres of spiritual energy. A man who is filled with passion and fantastic desires, can hardly concentrate at all, even for a second. His mind jumps around like a monkey.
Sit in the lotus pose. Gaze gently at the tip of the nose. Practise this for one minute in the beginning, gradually increasing it to half an hour. This steadies the mind and develops the power of concentration. Keep this up even as you walk about.
Or, sit in the lotus pose, fixing the mind between the eyebrows. Do this gently for half a minute. Gradually increase to half an hour or more. This removes tossing of the mind and develops concentration. Select either of these methods.
If you want to increase your power of concentration, you will have to reduce your worldly activities. You will have to observe the vow of silence every day for two hours or more.
When the mind runs from an object, bring it back again and again. When concentration is deep and intense, the senses cannot operate. He who practises concentration for three hours a day will have tremendous psychic power and will power.
You should steadily direct your gaze towards the tip of the nose (nasikagra drsti) and keep the mind fixed on the self only. In chapter five, verse 25 of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says: "Having made the mind abide in the self, let him not think of anything." Another gaze is gazing between the eyebrows. Do not strain the eyes; practise gently.
When you practise concentration on the end of the nose, you will experience various sorts of fragrance. When you concentrate on the ajna cakra (eyebrow centre), you will experience divya jyoti (divine light). This will give you encouragement. It will push you up the spiritual path and convince you of the existence of transcendental things. Do not stop your sadhana (practice) now.
THE FRUITS OF CONCENTRATION
Now hear about the fruits that one gains from this practice. Supreme joy is for the yogi whose mind is peaceful, whose passionate nature is calmed, who is sinless and of the nature of the eternal.
When one advances in the practice of concentration, when one takes a real interest in it and when one has realised some benefits, then he cannot leave the practice. Concentration brings supreme joy, spiritual inner strength, unalloyed felicity and infinite, eternal peace. It brings profound knowledge and deep inner sight, intuition and communion with God.
The vital point in concentration is to bring the mind to the same point or object, again and again, by limiting its movements. Limit it to a small circle to begin with-that is the main aim. A time will come when the mind will stick to one point alone. This is the fruit of protracted sadhana (practice). Now your joy will be indescribable.
If you decide to meditate on the form of a chair, bring all thoughts connected with that chair together and dwell on these ideas. Do not allow thoughts of other objects to enter your mind. Thought should flow steadily, like oil flowing steadily from one vessel to another. Gradually reduce the number of ideas related to the object of concentration. When all these ideas die, you get the super-conscious state (samadhi).
When this last idea dies out and when there is not even a single idea, the mind becomes blank or void. There is mental vacuity. This is the stage of thoughtlessness referred to by Patanjali in his Raja Yoga philosophy. You must rise above this blank vrtti (thought-form) and identify yourself with the Supreme Purusha or Brahman, the silent witness of the mind who gives power and light to the mind. Then and then alone you will reach the highest goal of life.
Prolonged meditation on the absolute leads to perfection. One of the greatest needs in spiritual life is meditation. Meditate and listen to the voice of God. This will give you strength and power and peace.
THE POWER OF CONCENTRATION
If you focus the rays of the sun through a lens, they can burn cotton or a piece of paper; but the scattered rays cannot do this. If you want to talk to a man at a distance, you make a funnel of your hand and speak; the sound waves are collected at one point and then directed towards the man. He can hear your speech very clearly. When water is converted into steam and the steam is concentrated at a point, the railway engine moves. The steam in the cooking vessels moves the lid and produces a put-put sound. All these are instances of concentrated waves. Even so, if you collect the dissipated rays of the mind and focus them at a point, you will have wonderful concentration. The concentrated mind will serve is a potent search-light to find out the treasures of the soul and attain the supreme wealth of atman, eternal bliss, immortality and perennial joy. Therefore practise concentration and meditation regularly.
Kumbhaka (retention of breath) helps concentration. It checks the velocity of the mind and makes it move in smaller circles and ultimately curbs all its wanderings. Trataka (gazing) is a potent aid to concentration. Fix the mind on the candle flame, or a black dot, or Sivalinga (symbol of Siva), or Saligram (symbol of Vishnu). Brahmacarya (celibacy) helps concentration. Without brahmacarya you cannot have definite progress. Satvic (pure) food is another aid to concentration. Seclusion, mouna (silence), satsanga (holy company), asana (yoga posture), japa (repetition of God's name), practice of yama, niyama, fasting, moderation in diet, non-mixing with persons, little talking, little walking, little exertion, are all aids to concentration.
The mind can be controlled by continuous practice. You must always keep it occupied in divine contemplation. If you slacken your efforts, idle thoughts will at once occur. Continuous practice only can bring the mind under control.
If you wish to attain success in yoga you will have to abandon all worldly enjoyments. You will have to practise brahmacarya and tapas (austerity). These will help you in the attainment of concentration and samadhi (superconsciousness).
Trataka is steady gazing. Write the word Om in black on the wall. Concentrate on it with open eyes till tears come in the eyes. Then close the eyes; visualise the picture of Om. Then open the eyes and again gaze till lachrymation manifests. Gradually increase the period. There are students who can gaze for one hour. Trataka is one of the sad kriyas (six exercises) in hatha yoga. Trataka steadies the wandering mind and removes viksepa (tossing of the mind). Instead of gazing at Om you may gaze at a big black dot on the wall. The walls will present a golden colour during trataka.
You can do trataka on any picture of the Lord, either of Krishna, Rama, or Siva or on Saligram. You can sit on the chair also. Fix the picture on the wall in front of your eyes. Trataka is the alpha-beta of concentration. It is the first exercise for yogic students in concentration.
Trataka with open eyes is followed by visualisation. Visualisation is calling up of a clear mental image of anything.
Practise trataka for one minute on the first day. Then gradually increase the period every week. Do it gently with ease and comfort, as long as you can. Repeat your mantra, during trataka. In some people who have weak capillaries, the eyes may become red. They need not be alarmed unnecessarily. The redness of the eyes will pass quickly.
Practise trataka for six months then you can take up advanced lessons in concentration and meditation. Be regular and systematic in your sadhana (practice). If there is a break make up the deficiency or loss on the next day. Trataka removes many eye diseases and ultimately brings in siddhis (psychic powers).
Place a picture of Lord Jesus in front of you. Sit in your favourite meditative pose. Concentrate gently with open eyes on the picture till tears trickle down the cheeks. Rotate the mind on the cross, on the chest, long hair, beautiful beard, round eyes, and the various other limbs of his body, and fine spiritual aura emanating from his head, and so on. Think of his divine attributes, various phases of his interesting life and the 'miracles' he performed and the various extraordinary powers he possessed. Then close the eyes and try to visualise the picture. Repeat the same process again and again.
DEVELOP YOUR PERCEPTION
Organs deteriorate if you do not use them properly-just as hands and legs are atrophied by disuse and are developed by muscular exercise, etc. There is intimate connection between sight and memory, and between hearing and memory.
He who has acute sight, keen perception, good powers of observation and hearing-he will have a good memory. In the internal astral body there are counterparts of these. They are called astral senses. A yogi hears through astral ears and sees through astral eyes. Thus he can hear sounds from distant lands, he can see objects in distant localities. This is called clairvoyance and clairaudience.
Generally people are very careless. They have no wish to learn higher things and have a fund of knowledge. Keep a watch very close to the ear; hear the sound attentively. On the second day put the watch a little further away. Listen to the tick-tick sound. Every day increase the distance, training yourself to hear the sound. Then plug one ear with the index finger of your hand. Train the ears alternately.
Here is another exercise. Close both ears through yonimudra; try to hear the anahata sounds that emanate from the heart lotus. You will hear ten varieties of sounds, such as: flute, mridanga, veena, conch, bells, thunder, humming of a bee, drum, etc. Allow the organ of hearing (ear) to shift from one sound to another and carefully differentiate the various sounds. Eventually fix the ear on one sound. Try the gross sounds first and then go to the subtle sounds.
There is another exercise. Fix the ears on the Pranava Dhvani (Om sound) that emanates from a river, ocean or wind. It will be heard like 'bhum' or a long 'Om'. Train your ears to hear this sound. Do this exercise at 4 a.m. or at 9 p.m. when the noise of the town has died down.
Keep your ears keen. Differentiate the sounds of various kinds of birds, beasts, children, factories, motor cars, aeroplanes, cycles, shrieks, yells, snores, sobbing, crying, laughing, mocking, joking, etc.
The mind may be there, the instrument may be perfect, but if the mind is not functioning perfectly, you cannot see or hear properly. Perception is possible only when the mind is linked with the external instrument (ear, eye, etc.).
You must have a pure mind if you want to realise the self. Unless the mind is set free, unless the mind casts away all desire, craving, worry, delusion, pride, lust, attachment, likes and dislikes, it cannot enter the domain of supreme peace.
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 too 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 then disappear in summer. But their seeds remain underneath the ground and as soon as there is a shower, the seeds germinate and sprout. Even so, the vrttis (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 become vrttis, either through internal or external stimuli.
If you want to keep the garden clean you will have to remove not only the weeds but also the seeds that lie underneath the ground, which will eventually germinate otherwise. Even so, you have to destroy not only the big waves of the mind, but also the impressions which are the seeds for birth and death, if you want to enter the superconscious state.
Those who have removed the impurities of their minds by japa (repetition of God's name), service, charity, pranayama (yoga breathing), etc., will enter into meditation as soon as they sit for meditation. The pure, ripe mind at once burns with the fire of meditation.
Without the help of meditation you cannot obtain know ledge 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. Tear the veil that covers the soul, by practising regular meditation.
Self-realisation is the aim of life. The means to it are living an ethical life and ceaseless meditation. Spiritual duty is far more important than worldly duty. Live to seek God. Live to serve humanity. Fulfill God's will. You will be blessed. You will be happy.
If you want to get rid of the pains and afflictions of this samsara (worldly life) 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 error to truth, from darkness to light, from pain to bliss, from restlessness to abiding peace, from ignorance to wisdom, from mortality to immortality. Meditation leads to knowledge of the self, to eternal peace, supreme bliss. Meditation prepares you for direct intuitive knowledge.
Truth is Brahman. Truth is self. You cannot realise the truth without reflection and meditation. Be silent. Know thyself. Melt the mind in that. Without meditation you cannot liberate yourself from the trammels of the mind and attain immortality. Tear the veils that cover the soul. Rend asunder the five sheaths that screen the atman (self) by constant meditation. You will find final beatitude.
Meditation is a powerful tonic. The holy vibrations penetrate all the cells of the body and cure all its diseases. The powerful soothing waves that arise during meditation exercise a benign influence over the mind and the nerves. If you meditate for half an hour you will be able to engage yourself with peace and spiritual strength in the daily battle of life, for a week. You do this just through the force of this one meditation.
A yogi who meditates regularly has a magnetic, charming personality. Those who come in contact with him are much influenced by his sweet voice, his powerful speech, his lustrous eyes, his brilliant complexion, his strong healthy body, his good behaviour, his virtuous qualities and divine nature. People draw peace and joy and strength from him.
Close your lips. Shut the doors of the senses. Meditate on atman (self). You will enjoy peace and bliss. The more you grow in aspiration and meditation, the more you grow God-like. For in meditation is the light of the Lord.
Meditate and charge your battery by contact with God. Dive deep in the chambers of your heart through profound and silent meditation, and bring up the pearl of truth.
THE SECRET OF MEDITATION
Meditation is the road to the attainment of salvation (moksa). Meditation kills all pains, suffering the three kinds of tapas (fevers), and the five klesas (sorrows). Meditation gives the vision of unity. Meditation produces a sense of oneness. Meditation is the aeroplane that helps the aspirant to soar high in the realms of eternal bliss and everlasting peace.
Meditation is the mysterious ladder that connects heaven and earth and takes the aspirant to the immortal abode of Brahman. Meditation is the continuous flow of one thought of God or atman, like the continuous flow of oil from one vessel to another.
When you sit for meditation, all sorts of worldly thoughts will crop up in your mind; this will disturb the meditation. You will be astonished. Old thoughts, old memories of past enjoyments will bubble up and force the mind to wander in all directions. The trap-door of the vast magazine of thoughts and memories, within the subconscious mind, is opened up and these thoughts gush out in a continuous stream. The more you attempt to still them, the more they will bubble up.
Do not be discouraged. Never despair. Through regular and constant meditation you will purify the sub-conscious mind and thus control the thoughts and memories. The fire of meditation will burn all thoughts. Be sure of this.
Meditation on the immortal self will act like dynamite. It will blow up all thoughts and memories in the sub-conscious mind. If the thoughts trouble you much, do not suppress them by force. Be a silent witness, as in a bioscope. They will subside gradually. Then you must root them out by regular silent meditation.
The practice of meditation must be constant. Then only will one attain self-realisation, quickly and surely. He who practises meditation, by fits and starts, for a few minutes daily, will not be able to achieve any tangible success in yoga.
SELF-EFFORT AND GRACE IN MEDITATION
You need a calm, clear, pure, subtle, steady, sharp one-pointed buddhi (intellect) to understand the reality of Brahman. Only then is realization possible. Only a trained mind which utterly controls the body, can enquire and meditate as long as life remains, never losing sight of the object of its search and never letting it be obscured by any terrestrial temptations.
Energy is wasted in useless idle talk and gossiping, planning and unnecessary worrying. Conserve energy by getting rid of these three defects and utilise it in meditation. Then you can do wonderful meditation. He who says and imagines that he practises deep meditation daily, when he has not removed the evil traits of the mind, deceives himself first and then others. He is a first class hypocrite.
If you strain yourself in meditation and go beyond your capacity, then laziness and inactive nature will supervene. Meditation should come naturally on account of serenity of mind, induced by practice of sama, dama, uparati and pratyahara (control of mind and senses, non-pursuit of pleasure and introversion of attention). Atman (self) is the fountain of energy. Thinking on atman or the source of energy, also is a dynamic method of augmenting energy, strength and power. Divine energy flows freely from the feet of the Lord to the different systems of the aspirant and new nerve currents, new grooves, new cells are formed. The mind and nervous system are remodeled and you will develop a new heart.
Conserve energy by talking little, observing mouna (silence), controlling anger, observing brahmacarya (celibacy), practising pranayama (yoga breathing) and controlling irrelevant and non-essential thoughts. Meditate and behold the imperishable atman. Rest yourself firmly in the self. Nothing can hurt you now. You can become invincible.
In contemplation, you are in spiritual contact with unchanging light; you are cleansed of all impurities. If you have an open heart, devotedly lifted up to God, the light of his purity and love will consume all your short-comings. This purifying process leads to a deeper insight into truth. This is the action of the grace of the Lord upon the soul in meditation. In this inflowing grace there arises that light of the mind into which God is sending the ray of his unclouded splendour.
STAGES IN THAT PRACTICE OF MEDITATION
In the beginning you can meditate twice daily, from 4 to 6 in the morning and 7 to 8 at night. As you advance in your practices, you can increase the duration of each sitting, little by little, using your common sense and discretion, and also have a third sitting either in the morning between 10 and 11 or in the evening between 4 and 5.
In the Yoga Vasishta you will find: "The right course to be adopted by one who is in his novitiate is this: Two parts of the mind must be filled with the objects of enjoyment, one part with philosophy and the remaining part with devotion to the teacher. Having advanced a little, he should fill one part of the mind with the objects of enjoyment. two parts with devotion to the teacher and the remaining one part with getting an insight into the meaning of philosophy. When one has attained proficiency, he should every day fill two parts with meditation and the other two with devoted service to the guru. This will eventually lead you on to meditation for twenty-four hours."
Sitting in your favourite meditative pose and keeping the head and trunk erect, close your eyes and gently concentrate on either the tip of the nose, space between the two eyebrows, the heart lotus or the crown of the head. When once you have selected one centre of concentration, stick to it till the last with leech-like tenacity.
Meditation is of two kinds, namely, saguna (with gunas or qualities) and nirguna (without gunas or qualities). Meditation on Lord Krishna, Lord Siva, Lord Rama or Lord Jesus is saguna meditation. It is meditation with form and attributes. The name of the Lord is also simultaneously repeated. This is the method of the devotees. Meditation on the reality of the self is nirguna meditation. This is the method of the vedantins. Meditation on Om, Soham, Sivoham, Aham Brahma Asmi and Tat Twam Asi is nirguna meditation.
If you want to keep the mind charged with the fire of Brahmic wisdom, you must always keep it in contact with the Brahmic fire of knowledge, through constant and intense meditation.
LISTEN TO THE MYSTIC SOUND
Sit in padma asana or siddha asana. Practise yoni mudra by closing the ears with the thumbs. Hear the internal sound through the right ear. The sound which you will hear will make you deaf to all external sounds. Having overcome all obstacles you will enter the turiya state within fifteen days. In the beginning you may hear many loud sounds. Then try to hear more and more subtle sounds.
The mind having first concentrated itself on any one sound, fixes firmly to that and is absorbed in it. The mind becomes insensible to external impressions and becomes one with the sound. Being indifferent to all objects and having controlled the passions, you should, by continual practice concentrate your mind upon the sound which destroys the mind.
Having abandoned all thoughts and being freed from all actions, you should always concentrate your whole attention on the sound and then the citta (mind) becomes absorbed in it. Just as the bee, drinking the honey alone, does not care for the odour, so the citta, which is always absorbed in sound does not long for sensual objects-it is bound by the sweet nada (sound) and has abandoned its flitting nature.
The serpent citta, through listening to the nada, is entirely absorbed in it and, becoming unconscious of everything, concentrates itself on the sound. The sound serves the purpose of a sharp goad to control the maddened elephant citta, which roves in the pleasure garden of the sensual objects.
The sound proceeding from the Pranava (Om) is Brahman. It is of the nature of effulgence. It is the seat of Vishnu. The mind exists so long as there is sound but, with its cessation, there is that state termed turiya. Being freed from all states and all thoughts, you will remain like one dead. The body is like a log. It does not feel heat or cold, joy or sorrow.
When spiritual sight is fixed-without any object to be seen-when prana (life-force) becomes still-without any effort-when the citta becomes firm-without any support-you become Brahman. When manas (mind) is destroyed, when virtues and sins are burned away, you shine as the effulgent, immaculate, eternal, stainless Brahman.
EXERCISES IN MEDITATION
Keep a picture of Lord Krishna with a flute in his hands. Sit in your meditative pose and gently concentrate on this picture until you shed tears. Think of his feet, adorned with anklets. Think of his yellow silken garment. Think of the ornaments around his neck. Think of the long garland of beautiful flowers of various colours. Think of his earrings and the crown set with precious jewels he wears on his head. Think of the long dark hair, the sparkling eyes and the tilaka (mark) on the forehead. Think of the magnetic aura around his head. Think of his arms and hands, adorned with armlets and bracelets. Think of the flute, ready in his hands, waiting for him to play it. Then close your eyes and visualise this picture mentally. Repeat this process again and again.
This is one kind of meditation and is suitable for beginners. Sit in padmasana in your meditation room. Close the eyes. Meditate on the effulgence in the sun, or the splendour in the moon, or the glory of the stars.
There is a living universal power that underlies all these names and forms. Meditate on this power, which is formless. This will terminate in the realisation of the absolute, nirguna (attributeless), nirakara (formless) consciousness eventually.
Sit in your meditative pose. Close your eyes. Imagine that there is a supreme, infinite effulgence hidden behind all these names and forms, tantamount to the effulgence of millions of suns put together. This is also a form of nirguna meditation.
Concentrate and meditate on the expansive blue sky. By the previous methods of concentration the mind will cease thinking of finite forms. It will slowly begin to melt in the ocean of peace as it is deprived of its contents. Thus the mind will become subtler and subtler.
Concentrate on the picture of Om in front of you, Do this with open eyes until the tears flow profusely. Associate the ideas of eternity, infinity, immortality, etc., with Om.
The humming of bees, the sweet notes of the nightingale and all other sounds emanate from Om only. Om is the essence of all the vedas (scriptures).
IMPORTANCE OF OM
Brahman is the highest of all. Om is his name. Om is also your real name. It covers the threefold experiences of man. From Om this sense world has been projected. The world exists in Om and dissolves in Om.
Om is the greatest of all mantras (mystic formula). Om bestows direct liberation. All mantras begin with Om. Om is the life, the soul, of all mantras. Every Upanishad begins with Om. Oblations that are offered to the various gods are all preceded by Om.
All languages, all sounds, come out of Om. The essence of the four vedas is Om. AUM covers the whole range of sound vibrations. A starts from the root of the tongue, U proceeds from the middle and M comes from the end, by closing the lips.
Om is the source of all religions and scriptures. This sacred monosyllable is the means of liberation from the bonds of matter. It leads one, stage by stage, to the highest bliss. It is fit for the lowest as well as for the highest and most advanced intellect. It is fit for the Brahmachari (celibatestudent) as well as the sanyasin (monk). It is fit for any condition.
Om is your birthright. It is the common heritage of all. It is the word of power. It fills the devotee with spiritual strength, vigour and energy when chanted with harmony and rhythm. It brings inspiration and intuition.
It elevates the mind. It is a spiritual food and tonic. It is full of divine potency. Live in Om. Meditate on Om. Inhale Om. Exhale Om. Rest peacefully in Om. Take shelter in Om. May that Om guide you.
Om stands for all phenomenal worlds. From Om this sense universe has been projected. Om has been formed by adding the letters AUM; A represents the physical world; U represents the mental and the astral planes, the world of spirits, all heavens; and M represents the deep sleep state and, even in the waking state, all that is unknown, beyond reach of the intellect. Om therefore represents all. It is the basis of your life, thought and intelligence. All words that denote objects are centred in Om-hence the whole world has come from Om, rests in Om and dissolves in Om.