In the real sense, meditation means to withdraw the mind from the objects of the five senses and also from the internal commotion of ambitions, pride, egoity, etc., and to focus it on itself.
The words are said to have a great force, but the meaning has a greater force even than the words. Words are the stirs that are created in the akasha by the action of the pranika forces called our speech. Prana, acting on the akasha, creates the universe throughout its evolutionary process. But the meaning is more subtle than the words; it goes deeper than akasha. And when the mind is focussed on the meaning of the words which are exalted, we pierce into the most subtle layers of both prana and akasha and uncover the light of pure Consciousness. This is one of the secrets of meditation. The meditation which is given now is of this class; it is educative, its object is to bring our supreme duty- before us and our supreme duty, as you know, is to establish our identity (which is already there) through knowledge-devotion with the all-pervasive Lord. It is educative and it is meant that we should try to work upon it.
In Yoga the senses do not help us; the objects of the senses do not help us; the mind helps us only when it is purified, that is, when the desires are expelled and the light of consciousness becomes most dear to us. What is our duty shown in this meditation? Just as a lion swimming through a river goes straight in spite of the speed of the current, so the mind must go straight in spite of the commotion with which it may be beset.
Some thoughts from Shri Vidyaranya :. “The jnani, he who has realised the spiritual truth, is subject to the fruit of karma willingly, while the ignorant is so unwillingly.”
This sentence is important and a deep meaning is hidden in it. Take the instance when King Dasharatha pronounced the sentence of exile on Shri Rama for fourteen years. He accepted it willingly. When such a thing happens to a man who has not known the spiritual truth, he grumbles, finds means to evade it, finds excuses for not carrying it out. That applies to every kind of karma. “Willingly” means he knows it is temporary, unreal, that in his case it will not leave the effect which is called vasana or sanskara to create further bondage for him.
The jivanmukta can be found in worldly pursuits, it is wrong to think he shuns them and likes only solitude. No. He may be found in worldly pursuits even to the extent of being a Ruler. The highest worldly pursuit is effected by a King, a Ruler. A jivanmukta can be a Ruler also; Janaka is an instance. Therefore, the jivanmukta is not subject to vikshepa; his mind is serene, it exists only in a very attenuated causal form, and whatever comes to him to be discharged by him, he does it whether it be in solitude or in society.
Who has ajnana? Brahman? No. Atman? No. Chida-bhasa, which means the semblance of the perfect Consciousness cast in buddhi.
The whole sansara is happening not to Brahman nor to Atman but to chidabhasa. The stages are as follows:
(1) Ajnana. First of all chidabhasa passes through ignorance.
Ajnana gives rise to
(2) Avriti, false notion. “I am the body, I am the mind; This is my husband, wife, property; this belongs to me.”
This leads to
(3) Vikshepa, agitation in the gross and subtle bodies. By means of false notion, his gross body and subtle body, mind, are put into a state of agitation.
This is followed by
(4) Paroksha jnana. That fortunate chidabhasa which has done a great deal of benevolence, either in this or in the past incarnations, has done upasana, has practised tapas, for that chidabhasa follows the indirect knowledge. “Brahman sattyam jagan mithya”; theoretically he knows it is correct, that there is no doubt.
It is followed by
(5) Aparoksha jnana or direct knowledge.
This is followed by
(6) Moksha. The last is the state of jivanmukti. The last is the state of knowledge, and all the others are ignorance. The mind cannot be perfect, the eyes cannot be perfect, the egoity cannot be perfect, but the illumination can be perfect.
Where does the illumination take place? By the practice of shravana, manana and nididhyasana, by the constant rubbing out of the ahankara, by the different modes of service, by shama and dama, the buddhi undergoes a change. It becomes more and more subtle. In its subtle state, it is said by Shri Vidyaranya, flashes of light begin to come and go. They are in the form of real knowledge of truth. Take the case of a man who is overtaken by darkness on a night with thick clouds and very great gloom. The lightning flashes for a second and by the flashing he knows the way. “Though I am here again in darkness”, he thinks, “that is the right direction, that is the way.” Similarly, when the buddhi is so attenuated by the constant practice, there takes place many flashes, and these flashes are the prelude to the complete illumination. And when ahankara is either completely rubbed out or the ahankara is given into the hands of God or Guru, then follows the flood of light, and that flood is “I am”, nothing else, “I am”. The true nature of “I” is revealed; true knowledge is revealed. There is no further doubt and in this flood of light all darkness, including the accumulated karma of many incarnations, is removed and, some Acharyas say, “burnt”. But the meaning is “removed”, “known to be unreal”. This is the meaning of “aparoksha”.
Until moksha, one must continue abhyasa. Until this final state is reached, although we may have flashes of light in our purified antahkarana, we must not give up abhyasa. Literally abhyasa means “practice”, but here it is used in the technical sense of the Gita, which says (6.35): “This mind is grasped, conquered by abhyasa.” Patanjali also says the mind is to be conquered by abhyasa and vairagya, and there is a similar passage in the “Brihadaranyaka” . So we must not think, as many think after reading the “Avadhut Gita”, “I have no responsibility”. Such people are vacha-jnani – jnani only in speech and not in experience. Swami Sacchidananda uses this word often of the men who only talk but shirk their duty and responsibility. It is quite all right to do the meditation in the form of ” I am Brahman, I am Brahman.” But before the lifting up of the veil, the final rubbing out of ahankara, we must do our practice, abhyasa.
Shri Vidyaranya says “abhyasa” means study of the holy truth, reflection on the holy truth, and meditation on the holy truth. That is one set of abhyasa. Another set – upasana, observance of the discipline, practice of shama and dama, etc.
Jnana abides in the buddhi, not in the senses. Upasana may be of Nirguna Brahman of Saguna Brahman. Upasana of Saguna Brahman is, in the words of Shri Hanuman: “As far as my body is concerned, O Rama, I am Thy servant; and as a jiva, I am Thy ansha or fragment; in fact, I am what Thou art. This is my fixed understanding. This is the meaning of the word upasana. We must use our body, our five senses in adoration, in teaching others the uses of spiritual peace and adoration; this is Saguna Brahman upasana. Nirguna upasana is ahangraha upasana: “I am Shiva, I am Atman, I am Shiva, Shivoham. ” The whole of the “Avadhut Gita” and the others of that school are to be taken as ahangraha upasana.
First of all God is addressed in the third person, then in the second, and then in the first. He is not realisable exclusively by any of them but there are three modes. In the third person it is “He is the Lord”. In the second person it is “I am Thy servant”. In the first person it is “I am That”. Both Nirguna and Saguna upasana must be continued up to the final illumination.
After that there is no rule. Do it if you like as loka-sangraha, or don’t do it.
There are two kinds of perception: “This is a pot” and then “I have known the pot”. People ask “What is chidabhasa?” The first refers to the chidabhasa and the second refers to Brahman. The same applies to sansara and to every object also. This is a hypothetical statement but, to distinguish chidabhasa from Brahman, this illustration is used by Shri Vidyaranya. The statement “this is a pot” does not imply you have known all about the pot; you may have mistaken something else for it.
In the state of sushupti or swoon or samadhi or trance – all these states are similar in so far as the absence of vritti is concerned. In trance, in lower samadhi, when a man is stunned, one thing is common and that is the absence of vritti. But this absence of vritti refers to chidabhasa only. In the state of Kutastha, Brahman, there is no vritti and therefore that state has to be distinguished from the state of chidabhasa. Chidabhasa and Brahman are not one. Both play their part in the state of ignorance. In the state of ignorance Kutastha is just there like the sun shining, and chidabhasa is the doer and enjoyer. In the state of knowledge the Kutastha reveals the truth, and this revelation means disappearance of chidabhasa.