Practice of Meditation
Sri Swami Sivananda
This article is from the book God-Realisation.
Meditation is doubtless difficult. It will be very difficult, nay indeed impossible for a beginner to take to subtle meditation all at once. There must be graduated practices and the mind must be rendered very subtle for higher practices of concentration and meditation. Just as the archer first aims at gross things, target, etc., and then takes to subtle points, so also the student of Yoga should do gross concentration to start with and then take to subtle concentration practices. There must be gradual ascent in the successive stages of Yoga. But, Yoga Bhrashtas like Jnana Deva or Sadasiva Brahman of Karur, Trichinopoly, Trilinga Swami and others can at once take to higher stages. Such persons are very, very rare indeed.
The object of meditation in the beginning must be Personal God, the body of Virat, or the four-armed Maha Vishnu, or the flute-bearer Lord Krishna or Rama or any other object. Later on, meditation can be practised on Impersonal God. In Savitarka meditation you will have a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of the objects, their excellence and defects, all the features, present, past and future, and also those near and remote, even those unheard of or unthought of. The whole knowledge of the objects and elements will be revealed to you. The name Sampatti is given to the four experiences collectively, Savitarka, Savichara, Sananda and Asmita. Sasmita Samadhi culminates in Dharmamega Samadhi. Then comes absolute dispassion for him. This brings him Asamprajnata Samadhi.
Why do you read many books? It is of no use. The great book is within your heart. Open the pages of this inexhaustible book, the Source for all knowledge. You will know everything.
What is that knowledge of Brahman or the Source or Self? Close your eyes. Withdraw the senses. Merge deep in the Supreme Soul, the Light of lights, the Sun of suns. Complete knowledge will be revealed to you. You will have direct intuitional knowledge and divine wisdom by direct perception. All doubts will vanish now. All mental torments will disappear. All hot discussions, heated debates will terminate.
Forget the body. Forget the surroundings. Forget friends and relatives. Forgetting these is the highest Sadhana. It helps meditation a great deal. By remembering God you can forget all these things. Merge within by practising deep, silent meditation. Taste the spiritual consciousness by withdrawing the mind from the sensual objects and fixing it on the object of meditation. This will lead you to Samadhi, the highest goal of Yogis.
You will have to note carefully whether you remain stationary in the spiritual path even after many years of meditation or whether you are progressing. Sometimes you may even retrograde or fall downwards also if you are not vigilant and careful, if your Vairagya wanes and if you are slack in meditation. Reaction may set in. Some practise meditation for a period of 15 years and yet they have not made any spiritual progress. Why? This is due to the lack of earnestness, Vairagya, keen longing for liberation and intense constant Sadhana. Just as water leaks out into the rat holes in the agricultural fields, so also energy is wasted in wrong channels through Raga and undercurrent, lurking, subtle desire. Suppressed desires also will manifest and harass you. Unconsciously you will become a victim to those desires.
When you advance in the spiritual practice, it will be very difficult for you to do both meditation and office work at the same time daily because the mind will undergo a double strain. It works in different grooves and channels with different Samskaras during Dhyana. It find it to adjust itself to different kinds of uncongenial activity, as soon as it comes down from a higher plane of sublime thinking. The mind has to move in a diametrically opposite direction. It gropes in the darkness. It gets bewildered, confused and puzzled. You might have noticed how the mind gets puzzled even in ordinary daily affairs of life when you go to a new place in matters of food, bath, rest and answering the calls of nature.
When you again sit for meditation in the evening you will have to struggle hard to wipe out the new worldly Sarnskaras you have gathered during the course of the day, and to get a calm, one-pointed mind again. This struggle, sometimes, brings on headache. The Prana which moves inwards in different grooves and channels during worldly activities becomes very gross during work. During meditation the Prana is taken up to the head. Serve. Love. Meditate. Realise.