Meditation–Your Only Duty
Sri Swami Sivananda
This article is a chapter from the book Dhyana Yoga.
Time for Meditation
Method of Meditation
Nama Rupam Na Te Na Me
Glory of Meditation
Meditation is your only duty. You must realise the goal of your life: God-Realisation. Then only would your life be fruitful. There are several stages in the path to God-Realisation. Purification, concentration, reflection, meditation, illumination, identification, absorption and salvation. Through service you should purify yourself and then proceed through concentration, meditation, etc.; finally you reach the goal of Salvation.
Time for Meditation
You must do Brahma Vichara in Brahmamuhurtha. You must enquire “Who am I” in Brahmamuhurtha. Meditation performed for an hour in Brahmamuhurtha is equal to meditation performed for six hours during other periods of the day.
If you get up at 4 a.m. you will have time in the early morning for your prayers and meditation. You will charge yourself with Sattva. You will get strength to face the daily battle of life. Morning time is most suitable for meditation. The mind then is not filled with Raga-Dvesha as at other times. You can fill it with Sattva, through meditation, by recitation of Stotras and hymns, or of Slokas like “Ajo Nitya Sasvatoyam Puraano Na Hanyate Hanyamaane Shareere.” You must ever dwell on these thoughts.
It is only for beginners: the instruction to meditate a little. You must meditate much. But you must increase the period gradually. Particularly retired people should meditate more. But, if I at once say, ‘Meditate more’. beginners will be frightened. Therefore, I say Meditate a little’ This is only to tempt people to meditate first of all.
Method of Meditation
The mind is duping you every moment. Therefore, wake up now at least and cultivate this discrimination through enquiry into the nature of the Self, through Satsanga, study and meditation.
Meditate on OM. ‘Tad Japastadarthabhavanam’. OM is Satchidananda. OM is infinity. Om is perfection and freedom. Meditate on these divine attributes of Nirguna Brahman.
Meditate on the nature of the Self. ‘I am Satchidananda—Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute’. Meditate on divine qualities. If you are not able to practise this abstract meditation, then meditate on the Sun, the light, or the all-pervading ether or air. Meditate on the light that is shining in your heart; meditate on those dream pictures that you sometimes get. Meditate on the form of your Guru or Saints. Meditate on anything your mind likes best. Meditate on the form of your father, on his qualities.
Do common meditation for a few minutes. From that common meditation, you will know that real peace and bliss are within. Collect all the rays of your mind—Pratyagatmanam Ishat Avrita Chakshuh—repeat your Ishta Mantra; the mind should not move towards the sense-objects, there is no Vritti; Therefore, you enjoy perfect peace and bliss. Regularly practise such meditation.
Nama Rupam Na Te Na Me
Aham Atma Nirakara Sarvavyapi Svabhavata.
Again and again meditate on these formulae. They will give you strength. Even if you meditate once, it gives you some strength.
You are not the body composed of the five elements. Again and again remember this. Meditate on this. You must find the Atman through reflection and meditation. “Atman knows everything else; and knows itself, too.” That is your real Svaroopa. There is no such object in this world.
Meditate and sing: ‘Sivoham Sivoham Sivoham Soham. Satchidananda Svaroopoham.’
Practise Yoga Asanas and Pranayamas, which will purify the body and mind, remove all diseases and help in concentration and meditation.
You should get up in Brahmamuhurta and meditate. This is the best time for divine contemplation. The mind is calm. It is like a blank sheet of paper. You can mould it in any way you like. The worldly currents of Raga-Dvesha have not entered it at this time.
You can chant Om (long or Deergha Pranava) 10 or 12 times. When you so repeat Om all the Koshas will begin to vibrate harmoniously.
Meditate intensely, ceaselessly. It will be difficult to meditate ceaselessly in the beginning. Practise. You will grow in cheerfulness and joy. Increase the period of meditation. Gradually you will come to meditate ceaselessly, intensely.
Meditate on the abstract qualities like Existence, Knowledge and Bliss Absolute. Keep these thoughts always before your mind. This is the abstract background of thoughts. Or, you can meditate on the form of the Lord: Saguna Upasana. Mentally visualise the picture of the Lord. Now look at His Face, now at His Chakra, now at His Feet. The mind will not run.
The mind must not run out. If you try to find the mind on the Lord dwelling in the chambers of your heart you will be an introvert.
You can meditate on the Jyotis in the heart. You can meditate on the divine objects seen in dreams or visions. You can meditate on the form of a Saint who is free from Raga-Dvesha. ‘Yatha Abhimatha Dhyaanaad vaa.’ Or, meditate on anything you like best. An aspirant once approached his Guru and asked for instruction on meditation.
The Guru asked him to meditate on Lord Rama. The disciple said: I find it very difficult to meditate on Lord Rama.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because I have got inordinate affection for my buffalo.’ Then the Guru said: ‘Then meditate on the picture of a buffalo.’ The disciple sat in deep meditation. One, two, three days passed. The Guru called on the disciple to come out. The disciple said: ‘I am not able to come out. I am myself a buffalo. I cannot pass through the door.’ The Guru found out that the disciple had perfect concentration of mind. He then gave him the form of Lord Vishnu to meditate upon. Then the disciple entered into deep Samadhi.
There are many obstacles on the path. All these obstacles should be got over. Sleep always disturbs the aspirant. Take light food at night; dash cold water on the face when sleep tries to overpower you; stand up, and do Japa standing for some time; practise Bhastrika—these practices will drive off sleepiness during meditation. Chant OM 10 to 12 times. You will be fit for good concentration. You can keep a bright light in your meditation room. You can combine several of these methods; then success is assured. There is another novel method. Tie your tuft of hair to a nail on the wall with the help of a thread. Now meditate. If you feel drowsy, this nail will pull you up.
The moment you sit for meditation all sorts of evil ideas crop up in the mind. You need not be alarmed. You gave them a long rope till now; they have come to fight with you now, because you wish to annihilate them in toto. This is itself a sign of spiritual growth. If you are steady in your Sadhana, all these evil Samskaras will die by themselves. You will be established in meditation and Samadhi.
What are these knots or Granthis? Avidya, Kama and Karma. Original primordial ignorance is Avidya. On account of this ignorance, there arose desire—Kama. In that Pure Absolute, there is no desire. Through desire came action—Karma. Desire is imperfection. You try to seek your happiness in external things. When there is no imperfection, when there is no desire, you will enjoy the bliss of the Atman. If you can destroy these cravings and desires through regular meditation, then you can cut these Granthis in the twinkling of an eye.
You should meditate regularly at a particular hour of the day. Then the meditating mood will come by itself at that hour. Besides, you should keep up the meditative Bhava throughout the day, by gradual extension. Then you will be tranquil, peaceful, happy and balanced. You will be able to turn more work more efficiently.
Glory of Meditation
You have to meditate now. You have given a definite promise when you were in the womb that you will meditate and realise yourself. You have forgotten your promise. If you practise meditation regularly, a little sleep is quite sufficient. Meditation for a few minutes will give you good sleep later on; meditation itself will refresh you greatly. Keep up the current of meditation while at work also.
If the mind runs towards an object and craves for sense-enjoyment, tell it ‘Wait, O Mind! I will give you the bliss of meditation. Please, therefore, O Desire, leave me now.’ You can thus wean your mind away little by little. Once you get real peace and bliss by regular meditation in the early morning, then you will find it impossible to take the mind away from the lotus feet of the Lord, and you will not like to miss a day’s meditation. Meditate now. Meditate a little now and see whether there is such ineffable peace in meditation or not. Close your eyes and meditate on Krishna, Rama, or Jesus, on OM, or your father, or whatever you like.
Chant Om. Taste the bliss of the inner Atman. You should be regular in meditation. Meditate in the early morning; have another sitting after bath; another in the evening; and one more before you go to bed.
If you are poor to have a separate meditation room, set apart one corner of the room you have for meditation.
Every day side by side, along with your duties, practise meditation. This is your foremost duty. This should not be neglected on any account. Get up at 4 a.m. Practise a little bit of meditation; a little of Kirtan; study of the Gita or other sacred scriptures; and introspection.
Spiritualise all your daily activities. This is very important. Meditating for half an hour in the morning and then doing all sorts of evil actions during the rest of the day will not help you; the Samskaras created by the morning meditation will be wiped out during the day. You must keep up the spiritual current throughout the day.
If you are regular in your meditation, all doubts and difficulties will vanish by themselves.