A few hints on meditation. The texts of meditation are ideas, not thoughts, because thoughts arise spontaneously and are not governed by any visible law. Ideas are set and fixed, and they are like seeds planted in the mind. When we meditate, we take an idea, and it has a two-fold benefit:
(1) it comes from a source which is enlightened, and its meaning is very exalting,
(2) it has he blessing of the enlightened source. And it may be added that certain meditations are selected for us, to be undertaken by us.
Then, meditation is an idea and it is to be planted deep, the mind is a field in which you can plant ideas, and therefore the meditation, which is an idea, is to be planted in the mind and held n the mind. The process is twofold. First, to make room for the idea by suppressing desires. Our mind is very often choked with desires; to “make room” means to suppress the desires by telling the mind that they are useless, that their conception does not lead to any real good. Then secondly, to exercise the power of the will to plant the idea and to hold it there. To hold it, it is helpful to use a key-word, into which all meditation condenses. Take “OM”. Every meditation begins and ends with OM.
A meditation is chosen, for example the Holy Gayatri.
OM bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
OM tat savitur vareṇyaṁ
bhargo devasya dhīmahi dhiyo
yo naḥ pracodayāt
(OM bhūr O earth bhuvaḥ O air svaḥ O heaven OM dhīmahi may we fix dhiyo our minds tat upon that varenyaṁ excellent bhargo glorious form devasya of the God savitur Savitri yo who pracodayāt may he impel naḥ us.)
OM. The whole cosmos, within and without, is a phenomenal expression of the one great reality, imperishable truth and bliss. That ever-luminous being is the dispeller of darkness within and without. He is the one Lord of all. Let us meditate on Him and incline our heart and soul, our emotions and intellect towards Him. OM.
All that is highest and conducive to spiritual happiness is contained in this meditation. In the Holy Gayatri the key-word according to Swami Vidyaranya is Savitur meaning “the illuminator”. “O Thou who art the illuminator, without Thee everything in this world is dark, limited, full of suffering; therefore it becomes effulgent only when Thy illumination falls upon it.” Take this key-word. Think that it is written on the heart or between the eyebrows, and that you are reading it. If any other thought arises, say to it “Savitur”, that it is not self-effulgent. No thought is self- effulgent. The light comes not from the mind but from the power behind the mind. So if in the meantime any thought arises, banish it by saying the key-word Savitur . There is a way of meditation on “OM” given by Shri Sureshvara Acharya and Sadhu Nischal Das. The meaning of OM is elaborated in the “Mandukya Upanishad”.
Let us remember that the study of the holy classics has a definite purpose and end. It is that we may become masters of our destiny. Destiny is the force generated by the accumulated actions of the past. Life is partly free and partly bound. We are bound by our past karma but we have the power to alter it and guide our life towards the right path. The purpose of the holy knowledge is to help us to be the masters of ourselves by revealing the true nature of the Self. You cannot be master of a thing unless you know it. This study is not just for intellectual benefit but that our mind should be in a fit condition to receive the truth; and we should study to render it fit both to receive the truth and to meditate on the truth. Pure consciousness alone does not produce knowledge of the outside world; it is made possible by consciousness encased in the vritti, or modification of the mind. Unaided by consciousness, vritti is dark. All the time, vrittis are arising in our mind governed by the karma of the past. Whole life, all day, we have to live like students and suppress those vrittis which are not useful. We should live in such a way that we may deserve the grace of God and, by suppressing the vrittis which are impediments to samadhi and by encouraging others which help us to attain samadhi, when eventually the great vritti “I am Brahman” arises, a great change takes place in the antahkarana. We have to help the rise of this supreme vritti.
The first stanza of “Vichara Sagara” is in the form of a benediction, in the form of a prayer, and also a statement of truth. In the holy Yoga, to begin our day by meditation on a statement of truth – this is considered a benediction. “That which is bliss eternal, light, and all-pervasive, on which subsist names and forms, which is not perceived by the mind but by whose power the mind perceives, I am that pure and infinite Being.”
By whose power does the mind acquire the faculty of perception? We cannot think of eternal bliss in this world. The mind likes a new thing, but interest in any object wears off when we get used to it; it loses its charms. This is true of all objects in the world, for nothing in the world is nitva sukha (eternally blissful). But here it says: “there is something which is eternal bliss.” “Light” too. Man naturally desires light, spiritual as well as physical. Aristotle says: “Man delights in exercising his faculty of knowledge. He wants to know.” Here it is said that it is not only bliss but light, and also that it is vibhu (all pervasive).
(1) It is available everywhere. If you want to see roses, you must go to a rose-garden; they are not all-pervasive.
(2) In order to be real, actual, a thing must be free from all limitation, all upadhis; then only is it vibhu, all-pervasive.
The world, when viewed without consideration, seems to be a conglomeration of names and forms. Is there anything behind names and forms? Name denotes the named; form denotes the formed. In this whole world, what is that on which the names and forms subsist? It is: “That which is bliss (sukha), light, all- pervasive, and namarupa adhara (the support of all names and forms) ” that is to say, the support of the universe which is nothing but names and forms. “It is not perceivable by the intellect.”
The intellect claims to be able to know about everything, but it cannot know That which enlightens the intellect. The intellect functions in the realm of multiplicity. It is inherent in the nature of the intellect that it functions in the realm of multiplicity. But that Reality is One and above multiplicity; therefore it is beyond the power of the intellect to know It. Is this the same as the philosophy of Herbert Spencer which postulates an unknown and unknowable, and a known and knowable? No! It looks unknown but it is more than known because, animated by It, the intellect functions. That beyond which the intellect cannot go is the Reality, and “That I am.” The eye cannot see itself; fingers cannot hold themselves.
Such is the Reality which supports names and forms; therefore we should give up all attempts to try to know It by the intellect. A cow will graze only on grass and not on the pebbly shore of the sea; flame rises upward, water runs downward; these are inherent tendencies. The intellect is an evolute of inert matter; its purpose is synthetic and analytic, and presupposes multiplicity. It cannot know the Knower. That is more than known and more than knowable. It is not knowable by the mind in its present state, but by the mind in samadhi. What is That? “That I am, pure (that is, unmixed with anything else), apara (beyond which you cannot go). I am that pure and infinite Being, which is bliss eternal, light, all-pervasive, the support of all names and forms, which the mind cannot know but by whose power the mind functions.”
The second verse is for meditation:
“My nature is comparable to a shoreless sea, and the waves rising in it are the Lord Creator (Brahma), Vishnu, and the Lord Destroyer (Shiva), also the sun and moon and the gods Varuna, Yama, Shakti, Kuvera and Shri Ganesha.”
The whole philosophy is revolutionary and goes beyond what you consider God in the ordinary way. Ishvara is a product of Maya in Consciousness, a supreme phenomenon in the ocean of Consciousness. The “shoreless sea” is the sea of Consciousness and, as the sea produces waves and so forth, my nature produce waves as the Father in Heaven, the Three of the Holy Trinity, God the Creator, the God of all wealth, and the other deities. The absolute Consciousness, the Self of man, is like an ocean and all that is, all that can be comprehended and apprehended, is phenomenal, arising and subsisting in my nature. This nature is to be realized by means of meditation and yogic living, and when it Ls realized, you will understand that even the determinate God also is your creation. It is the boldest expression that can possibly be made. Even the personal God is the creation of this infinite Consciousness which is of the nature of the Self of man, and there is nothing beyond It. Therefore the yogi must detach his mind from all else and try to understand and realize his own nature, by realizing which he will realize that he is the Lord even of God Himself. All the deities of nature, in any form, are the creations arising from the waves of Maya, having their existence, phenomenally and not really, in man’s own nature.