What We Think That We Become
Sri Swami Brahmananda
This article is a chapter from the book “Pointers on Vedanta”.
The seekers after Truth who want to practise the vidyas (knowledge) should not forget the simple well-known fact that what we think, that we become. So there should be no doubt about the efficacy of meditation given in the Upanishads. The end of concentration of the mind on anything is to become one with that thing. In a high school, the teacher was giving lessons to the students of the 10th class. He noticed that everyday during his period a particular student was not attentive to the lessons taught. The teacher found that the student was thinking deeply of something else. One day, after the class was over, the teacher called that boy and asked him: “What is the matter with you? You are not attending to what I am teaching here. Your mind seems to be elsewhere. I am noticing this for the last so many days.” The boy admitted the fault and said: “O teacher, what you have said is true. I am at fault, but I could not help it. Though I wanted very much to attend to the lessons, I find my mind is going to my dear bull in my house which I love so much.” The teacher reflected for a few minutes and then told the boy: “My dear boy, I will suggest a remedy to you. From this evening, you go to the nearby hill, sit there and think of the bull as long as you like.” The boy, in obedience to his teacher’s advice, started going to the hill every day. He sat there and was thinking of the beloved, beautiful bull. No other thought disturbed his mind, because he had so much love for the bull. This went on for seven days. On the eighth day he felt he had no more to think of the bull and so decided to attend the class. He went and waited outside the class. The teacher who was inside the classroom asked him: “My dear boy, did you do as I instructed?” The boy replied: “Yes, my revered teacher. I did exactly as you advised. I was thinking of my bull alone for seven days. Now I feel that I need not think of it any more.” Then the teacher said: “All right, now come in and take your seat and attend to your lessons.” The boy replied: “O, revered teacher, I am unable to enter the class room, as my horns are too long and the door here is too small to allow me to enter the room.” This is the result of constant concentration on the bull. The boy felt that he was the bull, which was his object of thought earlier. Such is the power of the mind. In the Upanishadic meditation we are asked to meditate on the Self either directly or indirectly with or without the help of symbols.
When our real nature is already divine, we can attain the goal more easily by fixing the mind on the Self with the help of the symbols. The reason for the distraction of the mind and lack of concentration during meditation on God, complained by the neophytes on the spiritual path, is that they have some object or other more dear and lovable than God. The thought of that object which is stronger naturally drives off the weaker thought of God. And they complain of lack of concentration. They must know that God on whom they have to meditate is the dearest and most lovable more dear and more lovable than all the objects that this world and even heavenly worlds can give. Then all distractions will cease and there will be progress in meditation.