Meditation – this is a verse from the error-destroying pen of Shri Shankaracharya:
“I have neither a beginning nor an end. I have neither a beginning nor an end. I am Consciousness transcending time and place. Therefore I am ever free, never, never in bondage. By nature I am pure, taintless. Such am I” .
I have neither beginning nor end because both relate to time and space. Such am I. There is not the least doubt about it. OM.
Now a few practical hints. Unless absolutely necessary, avoid associationship with people totally given to sansara, those people whose world consists only of what they touch, taste, see, feel or even what they think, those people whose world is all this; avoid them. Why not do good to them? This is like the saying of some silly girl who cannot control her feelings and falls in love with a Titan and thinks she can reduce him to a pigmy. She will be obliterated. She will not bring him to Yoga but she herself will be dragged to the public house. Do not be too philanthropic: first do good to yourself. There is an Arabic saying, it is to a very benevolent man : “If both our beards are on fire, which will you put out first?” So the best thing is, with no hate, to avoid the people.
Shri Rama Tirtha has said with very great force, when people said to him that he was leaving his family, his father unprovided for , was it not selfishness? , he quoted “Brihadaranyaka Upanishad” (4.3.22):
“There the father becomes no father, the mother no mother, the child no child”.
And that is so. The painter Lely has said that he never liked to look at a bad picture even for a moment. He said that, if he looked at a bad picture and then sat down to paint, some impression of the picture was retained by the brush and he was not able to paint so well. So if we associate entirely with a Sansarin, we will not be able to meditate well because the mind will have acquired a taint.
What are we to do? Swami Vidyaranya says in the seventh chapter of “Panchadasi” (7.106.):
“Meditate on That (Brahman) , speak about That, to each other talk about That in order to enlighten them.”
The wise call this Brahmabhyasa. Therefore we should be engaged in it.
Change and transform the mind. First, it is to be changed, which means to be educated in what is true and highest and to change its values from the world of profit and loss, fear and anxiety, into the realm of beauty and truth. Then transform the mind, which means that the mind should give rise to the vrittis of sattva and finally to the vritti “Aham Brahmasmi”.
Whenever you have a difficulty with your mind, two things should be done
(1) svadhyaya, study of the holy Gita and
(2) pray, pray, to the Lord, for more and more light.
Never for a moment think ” I am so insignificant, how can I pray to the Lord of the universe?” Never think that for a moment. You are praying to Him who, while playing with the queen, heard a message that a poor Brahmin in rags with lacerated feet was at the door and wanted to see the Emperor, saying: “My name is Sudama”. As soon as He heard it, without waiting for an attendant or his crown or shoes, He rushed to the door, embraced him and said: “O friend, why did you not remember Me sooner?” To Him you are praying, not to anybody above the world, and callous and indifferent to the conditions of the world. Now I give you the gist of a short work by Gide. A crafty man wanted to become conspicuous and get pleasure and power.
He announced he was a prophet, that he was once a Prince and had renounced all. Some people believed, particularly women. He was well-treated and obtained money. He came to a place where there was a desert and said to the people of the desert: “Come! I will lead you to a lake in the midst of fruit trees. But what you possess is too heavy for you to carry; I will take care of it.” People said that this prophet who was once a Prince would not deceive them. They started. Gide gives him the name Al-Hajj, which means “one who has been to Mecca”. All these people thrived on their faith in him. He took them a few days, deprived them of everything and brought them to a river. It was full of mud and crocodiles and disease germs. There was no water worth the name and for this he had brought them from the desert! They went back and lost faith him. They started their search in the desert itself and found an oasis.
The story is an allegory. We are in search of an oasis, a place of rest and happiness and love in our personality. You must not be led by an Al-Hajj ! There are two of him: one is your instinct which says: “Come to the Burma Road and there you will meet a Mahatma”, and the other is the false prophets. Any prophet who says that God or the place of eternal rest and peace is somewhere outside you, is not a true prophet. The true prophet shows you the way in yourself and you will discover this oasis in some corner of the mind, this oasis where you can find rest, love and fearlessness. Most of the poems of Shri Rama Tirtha are devoted to a description of this realm; I do not think even Shams-i-Tabriz or the Avadhut have written in more evident terms about their own experience.
The practical application is – go to the Gita Chapter 13verses 7 to 11. There you will find a list of virtues. Take one or two every day and meditate on it. Never mind what others say or think. “O Narayana. take the broom of wisdom and clear thine own heart: do not mind what the world does” .
In this way, parting from Al-Hajj, you will be able to find the oasis in your own heart. Drink the nectar of the holy commentaries if you can. There are thousands of great Paramahansas and Masters who find such delight in the commentaries; even in translation, drink the nectar and give devotion to God.
Many of you have been most kind to me and in my heart I know I hardly deserve it. Please accept my most grateful thanks and also forgive me if I have ever given you an offence or hurt your feelings or inflicted thoughts on you. We are here to expound the philosophy of Shri Bhagavadpada and his commentaries. Therefore anybody here or hereafter who says “this is my opinion”, tell him “we don’t want it”. Opinions are changeable as weathercocks but we want a vision which never changes. Plato stresses the difference between opinions and an intuitive vision.