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Subtle Body Relaxation as a form of Dhyana


Recommending dhyāna as a means of attaining the spiritual goal, Sage Patañjali says, यथाभिमत-ध्यानाद्वा / (1.39) yathābhimata-dhyānādvā / – by concentrating or meditating on what is revered, one can attain the serenity of mind. The dhyāna is the last of the alternatives, the sage gives for a yoga practitioner but it seems to be the best since it gives the latter complete freedom from all shackles.

Dhyāna (Meditation)

It is a matter of common experience that the focusing of the mind is needed for every work, small or big. Even while taking a cup of coffee, if the mind is not applied in the act, one may spill it all over the place. An active effort is needed to focus the mind on any act. For meditation too, focusing on the mind is also needed. But the difference is, while an active effort is needed for focusing the mind in other acts, in meditation it occurs naturally. This is the essence of dhyāna.

The Sanskrit word dhyāna, like dharma, is difficult to be translated into other languages. In English, it is translated as “concentration” and “meditation,” but there is a difference between the two terms. Dhyāna is more on the spiritual side than “concentration.”

Concentration is necessary even for non-spiritual acts like drinking a cup of coffee. While concentration is necessary for dhyāna, it is much more than that. In concentration, there is a conscious effort to pull back the mind from its wavering nature and focus on a particular act. But in dhyāna, the control of the mind takes place quite naturally and spontaneously for a yogin without any extra effort, much like the fragrance inherently exuding from the flowers.

It is an extended form of concentration. Dhyāna is a continuous stream of concentration, wherein one forgets about one’s own body and its activities. It is transcending the worldly experiences and human tendencies and everything related to it. We see this description played out in the Dhyānabindu Upaniṣad (5-6), where it states:

“One who is of a firm mind and without the delusion (of sensual pleasures) and ever resting in Brahman, should see like the string (in a rosary of beads) all creatures (as existing) in ātman like odor in flowers, ghee in milk, oil in sesame seeds, and gold in quartz.”

According to the Vedic seers in the Chāndogya Upanishad, the entire body of nature is in a natural state of meditation. Moreover, it can act as kind of a conduit for higher knowledge. “Whatever great thing is known to men is known through meditation … the whole earth, middle space, the heaven, waters, and even mountains are engaged in Dhyāna.”39 Voltaire, the great French Enlightenment philosopher, recognized something of the same when he writes:

“Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.”

Besides the purely spiritual benefits derived from meditation, a somewhat neglected view of it as an aid to building inter-relationships is also recognized in the Vedic tradition. A Guru advised his disciple to practice meditation. After a couple of days, the Guru asked the disciple how he felt. The disciple said that he got bored being alone. The Guru said

“In meditation, you are not alone. You are in the company of your own self. If you are bored with your own self, how can you be interesting for others? If you cannot maintain a good relationship with your own self, how can you maintain it with others? On the other hand, if your relationship with your own self is strong, you can handle any situation, any person and any relationship quite well. Meditation helps you to maintain a good relationship with your own self which is the basis of all other relationships.”

Yogic seers recognized that man cannot live in isolation. We are born to our parents. The relationship starts there. Then there are brothers and sisters, other relatives, and also friends. When a person gets married new relationships occur. The children expect the parents to provide them food, clothing, education, etc. The parents hope that their children will live up to their expectations and protect them in their old age.

When any hopes are shattered, relationships may also break. In order to maintain good relationships, we must ensure that we provide positive influences on those related to us. Meditation helps one to acquire that positive influence by helping us to balance our emotional well-being through the acquisition of higher awareness of our actions and reinforcing optimism and the spirit of determination to more effectively deal with issues that may confront us.
At the initial level, in order to meditate, we need something to hold on to.

We may meditate on the form of a favorite deity, the qualities of the deity, or a symbol. Another one of the ways is to concentrate upon one’s own breath, the prāṇa. The practice of prāṇāyāma leads to concentration. When it is perfected, it naturally resolves itself in dhyāna.

Dhyāna is extolled in the scriptures as one of the highest forms of spiritual practice. The Bhagavad Gītā says,

श्रेयो हि ज्ञानमभ्यासाज्ज्ञानाद्ध्यानं विशिष्यते / (BG, 12.12)

śreyo hi jñānaṁ abhyāsat, jñānād dhyānaṁ viśiṣyate /

“Knowledge is better than practice. Dhyāna is superior to knowledge.” The Garuḍa-Purāṇa (222.l0) states: “Meditation is the highest virtue. Meditation is the foremost austerity. Meditation is the greatest purity. Therefore be fond of meditation.” So we see here that mediation is also more than concentrated awareness. The Chāndogya Upaniṣad (7.6.1) flatly informs us of this when it states that meditation is more than thought (citta) itself.

The Dhyānabindu Upaniṣad On Meditation

The Dhyānabindu Upaniṣad, as its name itself suggests, makes significant references to the concept of dhyāna. It recommends dhyāna-yoga as it helps one to get rid of the sins (verse no. 1). The human body is important since, without the body and the mind, one cannot think of higher realms of life. Human beings are dependent on their body and the mind, just as the extraction of the oil depends on the oil seeds or the fragrance depends on the flower (verse no. 7).

The higher the quality of the seeds, the higher will be the output of the oil. Similarly, if the body and the mind are maintained well, it will help one to seek the higher truths of life. The tree has parts but the shadow has none. Likewise the all pervading Ātman appears to have parts if viewed from one perspective and without parts if viewed from another angle (verse no. 8).

One desirous of attaining emancipation should meditate on the mystic syllable “OM” (verse no. 9). All the gods are well represented in “OM” and therefore, a meditation on it will reach the respective gods (verses 9-10). What is the method for meditation here? One should contemplate upon “Oṁkāra” as God resembling an unshaken light, as of the size of a thumb, and as motionless in the middle of the pericarp of the lotus of the heart (verse no. 19).

Fire is produced by churning a log of wood on a wooden plank. Likewise, God can be realized by the process of dhyāna, where the soul serves as the wooden plank and the praṇava (OM) as the log of wood (verse no. 22). The manas (mind) which is the author of the actions (viz.,) creation, preservation and destruction of the three worlds, is (then) absorbed (in the supreme One). That is the highest state of Viṣṇu (verse no. 25).

The Upanishad continues by describing the lotus of the heart, this center of recommended attention. It has eight petals and thirty-two filaments. The sun is in its midst; the moon is in the middle of the sun (verse no. 26). Agni (the god of fire) is in the middle of the moon; the spiritual light is in the middle of Agni. The seat of spirituality is in the midst of the spiritual light (verse no. 27). One should meditate upon the stainless Lord Vāsudeva (Viṣṇu) as being seated upon the centre of spiritual seat, as having Śrīvatsa (black mark) and Kaustubha (garland of gems) on his chest, adorned with gems and pearls resembling pure crystal in luster and crores of moons in brightness (verses 28-29).

Then, one should meditate with inspiration (of breath) upon Mahāviṣṇu as resembling the Atasī flower and as staying in the seat of the navel with four hands; then with restraint of breath, he should meditate in the heart upon Brahma, the grandfather as being on the lotus with the gaura (pale-red) the colour of gems and having four faces (verses 30-31).

Then through expiration, he should meditate upon the three-eyed Śiva between the two eyebrows shining like the pure crystal, being stainless, destroying all sins, seated in something like a lotus facing downward with its flower (or face) below and the stalk above; or like the flower of a plantain tree, being of the form of all the Vedas, containing one hundred petals and one hundred leaves with the pericarp full-expanded (verses 32-34 a).

There one should meditate upon the sun, the moon, and Agni, one above another. And now, passing above and through the lotus (which has the brightness of the sun, moon, and Agni, and taking its Hrīm Bīja letter), one leads his Ātman firmly (verses 34b – 35). Just as a man would draw up (with his mouth) the water through the (pores of the) lotus-stalk, so the yogin treading the path of yoga should draw up the breath (verse 38).

The breath should be drawn into the middle of the eyebrows in the forehead which (at the root of the nose) is the seat of the immortal nectar. That is the great place of Brahman (verse 40). Postures (āsana), restraint of breath (prāṇāyāma), the subjugation of the senses (pratyāhāra), dhāraṇa, dhyāna, and samādhi are the six parts of Yoga (41).

The jīva (soul of a living organism) comes out with the letter “Ha” (inhaling) and gets in again with the letter “Sa” (exhaling). Thus, the jīva always utters the mantra Haṁsa, Haṁsa. The Jīva always utters the mantra twenty-one thousand and six hundred times in one day and night. This is called ajapā gāyatrī and is ever the bestower of Nirvāṇa to the yogins (verses 61b-63). Through its very thought, man is freed from sins. Neither in the past nor in the future is there a science equal to this, a japa equal to this, or a meritorious action equal to this.

The Upaniṣad continues to recount the process: Parameśvarī (viz., Kuṇḍalinī Śakti) sleeps shutting with her mouth that door which leads to the decayless Brahman (verses 64-66a). Being aroused by the contact of Agni with manas and prāṇa, she takes the form of a needle and pierces up through suṣumnā. The yogin should open with great effort this door which is shut. Then he will pierce the door to salvation by means of Kuṇḍalini (verses 66b-68).

Folding firmly the fingers of the hands, assuming firmly the Padma posture, placing the chin firmly on the chest and fixing the mind in dhyāna, one should frequently raise up the apāna, fill up with air, and then leave the prāṇa. Then the wise man gets matchless wisdom through (this) śakti (verse 69). That yogin who, assuming Padma posture, worships (i.e., controls) Vāyu at the door of the nāḍis, and then performs restraint of breath, is released without a doubt (verse 70).

The Bhagavad Gītā On Meditation

The Bhagavad Gītā makes significant references to dhyāna, many of which have been quoted already. The sixth chapter of the Gītā is particularly devoted to dhyāna yoga. In the Gita, and in other Hindu and Buddhist yogic sources, kāma (desire, wishes for pleasure) and krodha (anger) are the two most dangerous enemies of man. Being internal enemies they cause more havoc than the external ones. Both of them are born out of thoughts. The Buddhist Dammapada (1.3) says,

“I have been insulted, I have been hurt, I have been robbed – misery and anger are caused by such thoughts. Anger does not exist in those who do not harbor such thoughts.”

When we nourish hatred in our minds, negative thoughts arise and they do more damage than the person or the thing that we hate. There is a saying “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping that the other person dies.”

Hence, Jagadguru Sri Kripaluji Maharaj advises mama ko māno śhatru usakī sunahu jani kachhu pyāre (Sadhan Bhakti Tattva).

“Dear spiritual aspirant, look on your uncontrolled mind as your enemy. Do not come under its sway.”

It is, therefore, imperative that the mind is controlled. The best way to control the mind is to consistently engage in dhyāna or meditation. What kind of meditation and what should be the object of meditation? The present aphorism gives a guideline. It can be any spiritually uplifting or elevating object or person desired by the aspirant. Meditation on one’s own iṣṭadevatā or favorite god is the easiest way.

बन्धुरात्मात्मनस्तस्य येनात्मैवात्मना जितः /
अनात्मनस्तु शत्रुत्वे वर्तेतात्मैव शत्रुवत् // (६.६)

bandhur ātmātmanas tasya yenātmaivātmanā jitaḥ /
anātmanas tu śatrutve vartetātmaiva śatruvat // (BG, 6.6)

“For those who have conquered the mind, it is their friend. For those who have failed to do so, the mind works like an enemy.”

जितात्मनः प्रशान्तस्य परमात्मा समाहितः /
शीतोष्णसुखदुःखेषु तथा मानापमानयोः // (६.७)

jitātmanaḥ praśāntasya paramātmā samāhitaḥ /
śitoṣṇasukhaduḥkheṣu tathā mānāpamānayoḥ // (BG, 6.7)

“The Yogis who have conquered the mind rise above dualities of cold and heat, joy and sorrow, honour and dishonour. Such Yogis remain peaceful and steadfast in their devotion to God.”

ज्ञानविज्ञानतृप्तात्मा कूटस्थो विजितेन्द्रियः /
युक्त इत्युच्यते योगी समलोष्टनकाञ्चनः // (६.८)

jñāna-vijñāna-tṛptātmā kūṭa-stho vijitendriyaḥ /
yukta ityucyate yogī sama-losṭana-kāñcanaḥ // (BG. 6.8)

“The yogins who are satisfied by knowledge and discrimination, and have conquered their senses, remain undisturbed in all circumstances. They see everything – dirt, stones, and gold – as the same.”

सङ्कल्पप्रभवान्कामांस्त्यक्त्वा सर्वानशेषतः /
मनसैवेन्द्रियग्रामं विनियस्य समन्ततः // (६.२४)

saṅkalpa-prabhavān kāmāṁs tyaktvā sarvān aśeṣataḥ /
manasaivendriya-grāmaṁ viniyamya samantataḥ // (BG, 6.24)

“Completely renouncing all desires arising from the thoughts of the world, one should restrain the senses from all sides with the mind.”

यतो यतो निश्चरति मनश्चञ्चलमस्थिरम् /
ततस्ततो नियम्यैतदात्मन्येव वशं नयेत् // (६.२६)

yato yato niścarati manaś cañcalam asthiram /
tatas tato niyamyaitatad ātmanyeva vaśaṁ nayet // (BG, 6.26)

“Whenever and whenever the restless and unsteady mind wanders, one should bring it back and continually focus it on God.”

युञ्जन्नेवं सदात्मानं योगी विगतकल्मषः /
सुखेन ब्रह्मसंस्पर्शमत्यन्तं सुखमश्नुते // (६.२८)

yuñjann evaṁ sadātmānaṁ yogī vigata-kalmaṣaḥ /
sukhena brahma-saṁsparśam atyantaṁ sukham aśnute //
(BG, 6.28)

“The self-controlled yogi, thus uniting the self with God, becomes free from material contamination, and being in constant touch with the Supreme, achieves the highest state of perfect happiness.”

सर्वभूतस्थितं यो मां भजत्येकत्वमास्थितः /
सर्वथा वर्तमानोऽपि स योगी मयि वर्तते // ६.३१

sarva-bhūta-sthitaṁ yo māṁ bhajatyekatvam āsthitaḥ /
sarvathā vartamāno’pi sa yogī mayi vartate // (BG, 6.31)

“The yogi who is established in union with God and worships him as the Supreme Soul residing in all beings, dwells only in God, though engaged in all kinds of activities.”

Swami Mukundanandaji gives an excellent account of the dhyāna yoga in his commentary on the Bhagavad Gītā. In 6.12 & 13, the Lord gives some instructions for meditation. One must hold the body, neck, and head firmly in a straight line and gaze at the tip of the nose, without allowing the eyes to wander. The Brahmasūtra says āsīnaḥ saṁbhavāt(4.1.7)

“To do meditation, seat yourself properly”; acalatvam cāpekṣya (4.1.9) ”Ensure that you sit erect and still”; dhyānācca (4.1.8) “Seated in this manner, focus the mind in the meditation.” Sage Patañjali also says (2.46) sthira sukhamāsīnam “To practice meditation sit still in any posture that you are comfortable in.

” Yoga texts prescribe postures like padmāsana for meditation. The process of meditation becomes easier if the mind is fixed on God. To fix the mind on God one can chant his names, forms, virtues and the like. Śrī Tulsidas says in his Rāmāyaṇa:
Brahma rām teṅ nāma bara, bara dāyaka bara dāni

“God’s name is bigger than God himself, in terms of its utility to the souls.” Taking the name is a very convenient way of remembering God, since it can be taken anywhere and everywhere – while walking, talking, sitting, eating, etc.

Meditation requires a dual process of removing the mind from the world and fixing it on God. Thoughts of worldly things, people, events, etc. come to the mind when it is attached to the world. Hence in meditation, one must be conscious of three steps – (i) With the intellect’s power of discrimination, we must decide that the world is not our goal.

Hence we must forcefully remove the mind from the world. (ii) With the same power of discrimination, we must decide that God is our goal. Thus we must focus the mind on God. (iii) In spite of the best efforts, the mind may still run after the world. The aspirant should not get disheartened at this. He should go on repeating steps (i) and (ii). In the course of time, it will become easier to meditate on God. The Nārada Bhakti Sūtra (55) says:

tat prāpya tadeva ālokayati, tadeva ṣṛṇoti, tadeva bhāṣayati,tadeva cintayati

“The consciousness of the devotee whose mind is united in love with God is always absorbed in him. Such a devotee always sees him, hears him, speaks of him, and thinks of him.”

Great Personalities – on meditation

“The flowering of love is meditation,” taught Jiddu Krishnamurthi, who was one of the influential philosophers of the 20th century. When the mind is perturbed by anger and hatred, no meditation can be done. It has to be filled with love, preferably the love of God, which can lay a strong platform for meditation. The essence of meditation lies in silence, not simply external, but internal silence which is more important and more difficult to achieve.

When the mind is filled with thoughts of the world, hatred, vengeance, malice, and ill will, there is a hell of noise inside. When the mind is calm, there is silence and peace. The man seems to be slowly forgetting the art of enjoying the silence.

Jean Arp, a 20th-century thinker wrote, “Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation.”

There are many ways to approach meditation. We saw that concentrating on the form or qualities of God is an easier path of meditation. There are also people who choose the difficult path, of concentrating on the formless Supreme Being.

The Mādhyamika school of Buddhists take an even more extreme stance (not holding to a belief in a divine being) and teach one form of meditation concentrating on “emptiness” of all things. We see one perceived outcome of this view in a statement by Australian actor and film producer Hugh Jackman (b. 1968):

“Meditation is all about the pursuit of nothingness. It’s like the ultimate rest. It’s better than the best sleep you’ve ever had. It’s a quieting of the mind. It sharpens everything, especially your appreciation of your surroundings. It keeps life fresh.”

Swami Sivananda, from a Hindu perspective, shares another outcome of meditation: “Meditation is painful in the beginning but it bestows immortal Bliss and supreme joy in the end.” The product found is expressed in the words of Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007).

Sri Chinmoy, an Indian who settled in the West and preached a spiritual philosophy and the art of meditation, taught: “If we know the divine art of concentration, if we know the divine art of meditation, if we know the divine art of contemplation, easily and consciously we can unite the inner world and the outer world.”

Thanks to the various schools of yoga that have spread to the West, there is a lot of awareness in the world today about meditation. We may be surprised to see thought-provoking statements coming from people of all walks of life who have experienced meditation in some form or other. Gillian Anderson (b. 1968), an American actress stated:

“I mean the whole thing about meditation and yoga is about connecting to the higher part of yourself, and then seeing that every living thing is connected in some way.”

Mike Love (b. 1941), an American musician rightly notes that “During meditation, your metabolism and your breath rate go down to a level of rest, twice that of deep sleep.” Shirley MacLaine (b.1934), a famous American actress and New Age advocate said, “Well when you’re relaxed, your mind takes you to the whole reality. There’s no such thing as the time when you’re really relaxed. That’s why meditation works.”

Once, in ancient India, a wise lad named Śvetaketu, put a question to his father many centuries ago. “Father, everyone is looking for happiness. But what is meant by happiness?”

His father replied, “One of the signs of happiness, son, is that a person who has it becomes selflessly active. A person who does not find happiness is motivated by actions based on personal desires. His mind is cramped, his will is weak. What is vast and infinite brings happiness. There is no true joy in what is small or finite. I can tell you that the Infinite alone is happiness; but you must only strive to understand this Infinite, my son.”

“I want to understand it, Father,” said Śvetaketu.
“Good,” said his father. “Then you must listen carefully to what I say and think deeply about it: “When a person sees that nothing and no one is separate from him, that he is one with all the people, animals, and objects in the universe, when a person sees and hears and knows nothing else — that is the Infinite.

“But, if one sees or feels some other thing, obstructing him, separating him, then that is finite. He has not yet found the Infinite. The Infinite never passes away; it lasts forever, but what is finite will pass away.” (ref: Chhāndogya Upaniṣad)

The concepts of abhyāsa and vairāgya

It is a matter of common experience that constant practice is required to attain proficiency in any field. Constant and consistent practice helps in getting rid of and avoiding the obstacles to yoga that we have discussed in the two previous aphorisms. In sūtra 1.2, we have seen that for yoga, cittavṛttinirodha is necessary which comes by abhyāsa and vairāgya as explained in Yogasūtra 1.12. Faith and strong will which go with practice are mentioned in 1.20. Intense urge (tīvrasaṁvega) is referred to in 1.21.

Apart from all these what is important for overcoming obstacles and reaching higher levels in the spiritual endeavor is the divine will which is implied in 1.23. The repetition of abhyāsa here is meant to emphasize its importance. The importance of Japa is brought out in 1.28. The overall picture is that yoga expects and infuses a moral order in human life. Wayward life leads to ruin and regret only.

The Bhagavad Gītā stanza (6. 35) that stresses on the importance of ābhyāsa and vairāgya. The greatest of yogins are those who concentrate on God (Bhagavad Gītā, 12.2). Among those who meditate on God, there are two classes – those who meditate on God with form and those who concentrate on God without form. The struggle is greater on the part of those who concentrate on the formless God. On the other hand, those who meditate on God with form enjoy communion with God but also induce others around them to enjoy that bliss.

Thousands of people followed Meera Bhai when she sang the glory of God joyfully. If one is not able to focus on God, with the form or without form, what should be done? The Lord himself suggests a way out. He says “Take to abhyāsa yoga, that is practicing to perfection.”

अथ चित्तं समाधातुं न शक्नोषि मयि स्थिरम् /
अभ्यासयोगेन ततो मामिच्छाप्तुं धनञ्जय // १२. ९

atha cittaṁ samādhātuṁ na śaknoṣi mayi sthiram /
abhyāsa-yogena tato mām icchāptuṁ dhanañjaya //
(Bhagavad Gītā, 12.9).

“If now you are unable to focus your mind on Me, then seek to reach Me, by the practice of repetition.”
There are several ways of abhyāsa yoga. One can practice the repetition of God’s names, read the stories dedicated to that God, or one can sing the glories of God. If none of these is possible, then one can involve himself in the acts dedicated to God.

One can do service in the temple of the Lord, maintain His nandavana (garden), or one can serve the devotees of God. If none of these is possible, then a devotee may surrender himself totally unto God.

A violinist played a song to his audience. At the end of the song, they clapped and called “once more!” The violinist was very happy to play the song again. At the end of the song the audience again clamored for “once more” and the violinist also obliged them. Thus he had to repeat the same song five or six times on demand from the audience.

Still, the audience was not satisfied and they asked him to repeat it. The violinist then spoke to the audience, “I am happy that you enjoyed this song. But let me proceed to the next song.” One of the audience stood up and said, “We will not allow you to proceed to the next one unless you practice this particular song and play it perfectly.”

The Lord said, “If you are not able to practice abhyāsa yoga, then engage yourself in the actions dedicated to Me.” What are the actions dedicated to God that we may perform? The Lord Himself answers:

अनाश्रितः कर्मफलं कार्यं कर्म करोति यः
स संन्यासी च योगी च न निरग्निर्न चाक्रियः

anāśritaḥ karma-phalaṁ kāryaṁ karma karoti yaḥ /
sa saṁnyāsī ca yogī ca na niragnir na cākriyaḥ // (Ibid, 6.1)

“He who performs works that ought to be done without seeking their fruits – he is a saṁnyāsin and yogin, and not he who does not maintain the sacred fires and performs no duties.”

It is not important as to what the duty or action is; what is important is – how one does it. All actions belong to God. One may be performing pūjā in a temple; another may be burning the dead bodies in a cremation ground. Both are equal to God if the persons concerned dedicate their work to God. Swami Vivekananda would say, “Even if you are a butcher, you must be the best butcher in the world. You can achieve it by dedicating your act to God.”

How can we dedicate a work to God? It is by surrendering the fruits of the work to God himself, and by not aspiring for the results for oneself. Work alone remains in our hands. We must do it to perfection. The success or failure does not belong to us. They are determined by God’s will. Therefore, one should be detached not only from the works but also from their results. In fact, one should set aside all kinds of attachments to worldly things. This is called saṁnyāsa. The Lord says:

यं संन्यासमिति प्राहुर्योगं तं विद्धि पाण्डव /
न ह्यसंन्यस्तसंकल्पो योगी भवति कश्चन // ६.२

yaṁ saṁnyāsamiti prāhur yogaṁ taṁ viddhi pāṇḍava /
na hyasaṁnyasta-saṁkalpo yogī bhavati kaścana //
(Bhagavad Gītā, 6.2)

 

“That which is called saṁnyāsa, know that to be yoga. No person who is not determined to leave off attachments can become a yogi.”

Similarly, in the Bhagavad Gītā, the Lord says (4.19), “He whose every undertaking is free from desire and delusive identification of body with the self, whose actions are burnt up in the fire of knowledge – him the wise declare as a sage.”

A saṁnyāsin is free from sin and he is a true yogin. There is no saṁnyāsa without yoga and there is no yoga without saṁnyāsa; both go hand in hand. But under the garb of saṁnyāsa one cannot relinquish one’s own duties. The primary job of a saṁnyāsin is to turn the world, which is steeped in materialism, towards spirituality. It is in this spirit that it is said in the previous stanza (6.1), “one who does not perform his duties cannot be a saṁnyāsin.”

आरुरुक्षोर्मुनेर्योगं कर्म कारणमुच्यते /
योगारूढस्य तस्यैव शमः कारणमुच्यते

ārurukṣor muner yogaṁ karma kāraṇam ucyate /
yogārūḍhasya tasyaiva śamaḥ kāraṇam ucyate // (Ibid, 6.3)

“Action is said to be the means for the sage who seeks to climb the heights of yoga; but when he has climbed the heights of yoga, tranquility is said to be the means.”
A true yogin does not give up his actions. The actions themselves fall from him at the ripe stage. The pumpkin gets detached, of its own accord, from the creeper which does not hold it back. A yogin, though devoted to jñāna or bhakti is still a karma yogin.

By karma yoga alone one succeeds in other yogas without the risk of a fall. Karma yoga is said to be the means for an aspirant for release who “seeks to climb the heights of yoga,” that is, the vision of the self. Once he has reached the heights of yoga, tranquility is the means for realization. He would then attain freedom from actions. Without reaching that stage, if a person were to try totally renouncing one’s actions, one will only fall from grace.

That is why constant practice is recommended in the present aphorism.

यदा हि नेन्द्रियार्थेषु न कर्मस्वनुषज्जते /
सर्वसंकल्पसंन्यासी योगारूढस्तदोच्यते // ६.४

yadā hi nendriyārtheṣu na karmasv-anuṣajyate /
sarva-saṁkalpa-saṁnyāsī yogārūḍhas tadocyate // (Ibid, 6.4)

“For, when one loses attachment for the things of senses and to actions, then has he abandoned all desires and is said to have climbed the heights of Yoga.”

Any spiritual practice is to be accompanied by detachment from worldly desires. Detachment from worldly desires can be achieved by withdrawing the sense organs from the sense objects and abandoning all desires. Abandoning the desires or attachments is not easy and hence the practice of Karma yoga is necessary, that is, doing the works without attaching oneself to the results of the deeds. But the results of deeds cannot go without affecting the performer.

They cannot simply hang in the air. Where can they go? They can be directed to God. Thereby the results also get an ‘end up’ and we also get relieved from their effects. Thus Karma Yoga has to have roots in Bhakti yoga.

Thus all the three Yogas, Karma, Jñāna and Bhakti are not watered tight compartments exclusive of one another. All three are supplementary and complementary to one another. For success in one, the other two are also necessary.

तत्रैकाग्रं मनः कृत्वा स्थिरमासन्नमात्मनः /
उपविश्यासने युञ्ज्याद्योगमात्मविशुद्धये // ६.१२

tatraikāgraṁ manaḥ kṛtvā sthiramāsannamātmanaḥ /
upaviśyāsane yuñjyādyogamātmaviśuddhaye // (Ibid. 6.12)

“There, sitting on the seat, with the mind concentrated and holding the mind and senses in check, he should practice yoga for the purification of the self.”

The Yogasūtra, I.32, advocates constant practice for a spiritual aspirant. The Gītā explains how one should practice yoga. The yogin should constantly fix his mind on yoga, remaining in a solitary place all alone, controlling his thoughts, and keeping the mind free from desire and sense of possession (6.10). Having established himself in a clean spot, on a firm seat which is neither too high nor too low and covering it with Kuśa grass, deer-skin, and a piece of cloth in that order (6.11). The Gītā does not leave anything for chance or doubt.

It explains every idea of exhaustively. A clean place is necessary since an aspirant should not be bothered by fouls smell and the like, at least initially. The seat must be firmly placed. If it is shaky, it will upset one’s concentration. If it is too high, the meditator will be worried about falling from there. If it is too low, it may be too physically uncomfortable.

The seat should be covered with a special type of grass, deerskin, and cloth, in that order, primarily meant to provide temperature insulation from the ground below, similar to yoga mats today. Thus the yogin starts his practice for the purification of the self, that is, for attaining Ultimate Liberation.
The Bhagavad Gītā continues by giving other practical guidelines for a yogin:

नात्यश्नतस्तु योगोऽस्ति न चैकान्तमनश्नतः/
न चातिस्वप्नशीलस्य जाग्रतो नैव चार्जुन // ६.१६

nātyaśnatastu yogo’sti na caikāntam anaśnataḥ /
na cāti-svapna-śīlasya jāgrato naiva chārjuna // (BG, 6.16)

“Yoga is not for him who over-eats, nor for him who fasts excessively; nor for him who sleeps too much, nor for him who stays awake too long.”

युक्ताहारविहारस्य युक्तचेष्टस्य कर्मसु /
युक्तस्वप्नावबोधस्य योगो भवति दुःखहा // ६.१७

yuktāhāra-vihārasya yukta-ceṣṭasya karmasu /
yukta-svapnāvabodhasya yogo bhavati duḥkhahā // (Ibid, 6.17)

“Yoga becomes the destroyer of sorrows to him who is temperate in food and recreation, who is temperate in actions, who is temperate in sleep and wakefulness.”

यदा विनियतं चित्तमात्मन्येवावतिष्ठते /
निःस्पृहः सर्वकामेभ्यो युक्त इत्युच्यते तदा // ६.१८

yadā viniyataṁ cittam ātmanyevāvatiṣṭhate /
niḥspṛhaḥ sarva-kāmebhyo yukta ityucyate tadā // (Ibid, 6.18)

“When the subdued mind rests on self alone, then, free of all yearning for objects of desire, one is said to be fit for Yoga.”

Yoga consists of controlling the mind, but the mind has to be given an object or a concept to rest on. It cannot be entered into nothingness. As external things are disturbing sources for yoga, the mind is withdrawn from all of them and is directed inwards, to the self.

The self is different from the body which is perishable by nature. The self is different from the mind which is full of desires for this or that. When a person is free from desires and worldly pleasures, he is fit for yoga.

यथा दीपो निवातस्थो नेङ्गते सोपमा स्मृता /
योगिनो यतचित्तस्य युञ्जते योगमात्मनः // ६.१९

yathā dīpo nivātastho neṅgate sopamā smṛtā /
yogino yatacittassya yuñjate yogamātmanaḥ //
(Bhagavad Gītā, 6.19)

“A lamp does not flicker in a windless place – this is the simile employed for the subdued mind of a yogin who practices yoga.”

In a windless place, the lamp does not flicker. It does not move; it remains steady. It reveals itself and the objects around. This is the nature of the self of a yogin who has subdued his mind and who has subdued all other kinds of mental activity. He practices yoga by concentrating simply on the self.

In other words, the self remains with its steadily illuminating light of knowledge because all other activities of the mind have ceased.

यत्रोपरमते चित्तं निरुद्धं योगसेवया /
यत्र चैवात्मनात्मानं पश्यन्नात्मनि तुष्यति // ६.२०

yatroparamate cittaṁ niruddhaṁ yoga-sevayā /
yatra caivātmanātmānaṁ paśyann ātmani tuṣyati // (Ibid, 6.20)

“Where the mind, controlled by the practice of yoga, rests and where seeing the self by the self one is delighted by the self only.”

A yogin delights in the self. This joy is unlimited since the self is unlimited. All other joys come with at least two defects – they become uninteresting after some time and they do not last forever. For example, a person who is very fond of his car becomes miserable if the car gets destroyed or is stolen. The joy in the self is unlimited and everlasting.

सुखमात्यन्तिकं यत्तद् बुद्धिग्राह्यमतीन्द्रियम् /
वेत्ति यत्र न चैवायं स्थितश्चलति तत्त्वतः // ६.२१

sukham ātyantikaṁ yat tad buddhi-grāhyam-atīndriyam /
vetti yatra na caivāyaṁ sthitaś calati tattvataḥ // (Ibid, 6.21)

“Where one knows that infinite happiness which can be grasped by the intellect but is beyond the grasp of the senses, wherein established one swerves not from that condition.”

A child may be fond of a toy teddy bear. Once it gets a new toy car, it throws away the teddy bear and takes the car. This is the nature of the joy derived from all the worldly objects. A yogi does not care for them. He derives infinite happiness from the self withdrawing himself from worldly objects which give only momentary joy.

One who enjoys the sweet Rasagollas will not care for peanuts. Likewise, the yogin who is steeped in the joy of the self will not care for worldly pleasures.

यं लब्ध्वा चापरं लाभं मन्यते नाधिकं ततः /
यस्मिन्स्थितो न दुःखेन गुरुणापि विचाल्यते // ६.२२

yaṁ labdhvā cāparaṁ lābhaṁ manyate nādhikaṁ tataḥ /
yasminsthito na duḥkhena guruṇāpi vicālyate //
(Bhagavad Gītā, 6.22)

“Which, having gained, one holds there is no greater gain beyond it; wherein established, one is not moved even by the heaviest sorrow.”

तं विद्याद् दुःखसंयोगवियोगं योगसंज्ञितम् /
स निश्चयेन योक्तव्यो योगोऽनिर्विण्णचेतसा // ६.२३

taṁ vidyād duḥkha-saṁyoga-viyogaṁ yogasaṁjñitam /
sa niścayena yoktavyo yogo’nirviṇṇa-cetasā // (Ibid, 6.23)

“Know this deliverance from association with misery to be Yoga; this Yoga must be practiced with determination and with a mind free from despondency.”

Bhakta Meera experienced many miseries in her personal life. She lost her child; she also lost her husband. Her own kith and kin disowned her as she sang and danced in public places, much against the tradition of the family. She was forced to drink poison.

But none of these worldly miseries bothered her as she was filled with the divine joy of singing the glory of Lord Kṛṣṇa. A yogin is truly free from worldly bondages and the grief arising out of them.

Concentrating On A Single Principle

It is always difficult to hold on to a single principle. The mind is wavering by nature; it wonders whether the other side of the fence is greener. In the present-day job market, especially in the field of software, one is not supposed to hold on to a company post for more than two years. He must jump from one post to another; from one company to another. If a person sticks to the same company for more than 3 years then he supposed to be “rotting.”

These are all the results of the unsteady mind. One can never get satisfaction from such things. A yogin, on the other hand, chooses the path that is best suited to his bent of mind and sticks to it.
A man digging a well will hit the water table if he digs in one and the same spot, let us say, for 30 feet. Another man digging 5 feet each in six places would have dug the same 30 feet in all but he will not get water in any of the places that he has dug.

Hence, wholehearted effort in a single endeavor is always better than meandering among many ideas. Swami Vivekananda says: “Take up one idea; make that one idea your life. Think of it, the dream of it, and live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that idea and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success; that is how great spiritual giants are produced.”

Gandhiji was a firm follower of “satyagraha.” Once in a press conference, he was parried with many questions – whether satyagraha can bring political freedom to India, whether it would lead to economic freedom, whether it would change the world order, and so on. When his turn came to reply, Gandhiji said calmly, “I believe in changing the world by taking one step at a time.”
Hinduism is a complex religion. In terms of theology, it has many sub-sects and may be described as polytheistic, pantheistic, monotheistic, or monistic.

As a result, there are a great number of different temples dedicated to the great variety of different gods. During the examination season, all the temples draw large crowds. Anxious parents and their wards do not want to take any chance. They offer worship at all the temples. They worship Ganeśa since he is the destroyer of obstacles; they break coconuts in his presence. Then they worship at the Śiva temple since he is the bringer of auspiciousness.

On seeing a Kṛṣṇa temple in the next corner they enter and offer prayers. Oh, next comes an Anjaneya temple. Let me worship him also lest he should become angry. That is how it sometimes goes on. But the scriptures suggest that one should keep one “iṣṭa devatā” and worship that deity steadfastly. What is the use of changing gods every five minutes?

It is like digging for a well at five places, but not with enough depth at any place. In yoga also, one can concentrate on God; but it should be one particular God and the fullest concentration should be bestowed on that particular God. The Lord says:

प्रशान्तात्मा विगतभीर्ब्रह्मचारिव्रते स्थितः /
मनः संयम्य मच्चित्तो युक्त आसीत मत्परः //६.१४

praśāntātmā vigata-bhīr-brahmacāri-vrate sthitaḥ /
manaḥ saṁyamya mac-citto yukta āsīta mat-paraḥ // (Bhagavad Gītā, 6.14)

“Serene and fearless, firm in the vow of celibacy, holding the mind in check and fixing the thought on me, he should sit in yoga, intent on me.”

युञ्जन्नेवं सदात्मानं योगी नियतमानसः /
शान्तिं निर्वाणपरमां मत्संस्थानमधिगच्छति // ६.१५

yuñjann evaṁ sadātmānaṁ yogī niyata-mānasaḥ /
śāntiṁ nirvāṇa-paramāṁ mat-saṁsthānam adhigacchati //
(Ibid, 6.15)

“Ever applying his mind in this way, the yogin of controlled mind, attains a supreme peace (nirvāṇa) which is the summit of beatitude and which abides in me.”

ये तु सर्वाणि कर्माणि मयि संन्यस्य मत्पराः /
अनन्येनैव योगेन मां ध्यायन्त उपासते // १२. ६

ye tu sarvāṇi karmāṇi mayi saṁnyasya mat-parāḥ /
ananyenaiva yogena māṁ dhyāyanta upāsate //
(Bhagavad Gītā, 12.6)

“For, those who dedicate all actions to me, hold me as their supreme goal, intent on me, and worship me, meditating on me, with exclusive devotion,”

तेषामहं समुद्धर्ता मृत्युसंसारसागरात् /
भवामि न चिरात्पार्थ मय्यावेशितचेतसाम् // १२.७

teṣām ahaṁ samuddhartā mṛtyu-saṁsāra-sāgarāt /
bhavāmi na cirāt pārtha mayy āveśita-cetasām // (Ibid, 12.7)

“I swiftly deliver them from the ocean of birth and death, for their consciousness is united with me.”

मय्येव मन आधत्स्व मयि बुद्धिं निवेशय /
निवसिष्यसि मय्येव अत ऊर्ध्वं न संशयः // १२. ८

mayy eva mana ādhatsva mayi buddhiṁ niveśaya /
nivasiṣyasi mayyeva ata ūrdhvaṁ na saṁśayaḥ // (Ibid, 12.8)

“Focus your mind on me alone; and let your intellect enter into me. Then you will live in me alone; there is no doubt.”

Let us now turn to some thoughts on the power of concentration expressed by leading personalities in different fields. Sri Ramana Maharishi said, “The degree of freedom from unwanted thoughts and the degree of concentration on a single thought are the measures to gauge spiritual progress.” How can one increase one’s power of concentration?

One must choose a challenging task and proceed towards accomplishing it. One will find that the task demands the utmost concentration. Once the first job is finished one must take up the second one which again will demand a high level of concentration. After completing the second one the third one should be handled. At each challenging task, the power of concentration required will be high; thus it will become a practice.

Brendon Burchard said, “To inspire a singularity of focus, a challenge must be important to you and it must be something you feel you should do now in this moment. If it’s trivial or not time-bound, you won’t engage. So in selecting your next challenge in life, choose one that is meaningful and will demand your complete concentration.” As Arnold Palmer said, “The secret of concentration is the secret of self-discovery.

You reach inside yourself to discover your personal resources, and what it takes to match them to the challenge. Concentration comes out of a combination of confidence and hunger.” Summing the keys to success, Pat Riley, a former NBA coach remarked, “There can only be one state of mind as you approach any profound test; total concentration, a spirit of togetherness, and strength.”

While referring to the concentration on a single principle we made a mention of the concept of iṣṭa devatā, one’s own favorite deity. There arises a question here. Can one change one’s iṣṭa devatā? For example, can a worshipper of Śrī Rāma switch to Śrī Kṛṣṇa? Swami Mukundanandaji32 answers this point.

If Rāma and Kṛṣṇa were different personalities, there would be scope for concern. But when they are the same Supreme All-powerful Lord, then there is no ground for fear. The fear of changing the iṣṭa devatas exists only in the mind. Swamiji’s answer implies that spirituality does not exist in choosing the single principle of concentration alone. It depends on how well one meditates on the principle of the deity.

The mental states

The mental states are modifications of the mind. They are not permanent; they are transitory; they come and go; they keep changing. Whatever comes and goes is always a source of misery, as for example, money. That is why Sage Patañjali has recommended cittavṛttinirodha.

When the mind is controlled, the mental modifications also cease to exist and consequently pleasure and pain disappear, leading to perfect peace. The Bhagavad Gītā says:

आपूर्यमाणमचलप्रतिष्ठं समुद्रमापः प्रविशन्ति यद्वत् /
तद्वत् कामा यं प्रविशन्ति सर्वे स शान्तिमाप्नोति न कामकामी //

āpūryamāṇaṁ-acala-pratiṣṭhaṁ
samudram-āpaḥ praviśanti yadvat
tadvat kāmā yaṁ praviśanti sarve
sa śāntim-āpnoti na kāma-kāmī
(Bhagavad Gītā 2. 70)

“He into whom all desires enter as the waters enter the full and undisturbed sea, attains to peace, and not he who longs for the objects of desire”.  If the mind is filled with thoughts on God, there will be no space for the desires to enter the mind and hence they will get dropped automatically. What is it that prevents us from getting God realization?

The reason is we are controlled by our mind and thoughts which are material. When travelling into space, astronauts must wear a protective space suit. One cannot go into outer space in the clothes that one normally wears on earth. Likewise for realizing God we have to clear the mind of normal worldly thoughts and dress it with divine thoughts. The scriptures and the words of the saints help us to realize the Ultimate Truth.

A question may be raised here. If a person, by himself, does not know that God is within himself, and everywhere for that matter, how can he realize it being told by another person like a saint? This point can be explained with the help of a story. Ten villagers went to take bath in the river. After a bath, they came out of the river. They wanted to check whether all ten had come out.

The first fellow counted and found that there were only nine. Another fellow counted and he too got the number as nine. They thought one of them must have got drowned in the river, and they began crying because of their loss. The village teacher came there and enquired about their misery. They told him about what had happened. He asked one of them to count again. He counted the nine and stopped. The teacher turned to him and said “You are the tenth man.”

Each one of them had counted the others but had forgotten to add one’s own self. After being told by the teacher they arrived at the correct knowledge of the situation. Likewise, although God is within us, we do not realize it; but when a Saint reminds us of it, we will comprehend the right knowledge that illuminates the issue.

The first step in the realization process is to remove the blocks in the form of mental impressions characterized by various desires. There are five kinds of interfering thoughts which are set forth in this aphorism. The first of them is valid knowledge. One may ask – Why does valid knowledge itself not lead to God-realization? The answer is – what we refer to here as valid knowledge is only that which helps us to know things as they are with reference to material knowledge.

For God’s realization also, valid knowledge is necessary, but it is a different kind, not connected with material things of the world. Even to know the material things, valid knowledge of worldly level is necessary; otherwise one will mistake a rope for a snake, to use Śrī Śaṅkarācārya’s classic example.

As for the five kinds of mental states, we get ourselves involved in them and ultimately suffer. A Yogin, being born as a human being, will also have them, but he will look at them or deal with them without any sense of attachment. He will just be a witness to them. They will not bother him. He will remain unperturbed.

The five mental states are not bad in themselves; but we taint them with ignorance, egoism, attachments, aversions, and fears. In a drama a good looking person may cover himself with the mask of a demon; his appearance will be terrifying. His own child will not be able to recognize him. After the show is over, he will remove the mask and the child will come and embrace the father. Likewise, we have to remove the mask of attachment and similar desires from the five mental states. They will then attain purity, stability, calmness, and peace.

They will become divine. With their help God realization becomes possible. For God realization also, the five mental states are necessary, but they have to be unmasked and recovered with divinity. One of the ways of unmasking the five mental states is to learn to distance oneself from the sense objects and just wink at them as a witness. Yogic meditation helps us to adopt the role of a witness and remain unaffected by the various attachments that we are going to learn in the succeeding aphorisms. One simple technique will be useful from the beginning.

Whenever attachments, anger, jealousy, and similar negativities raise their heads, we should remind ourselves that the mental states are masked and that the anger and various other unbridled emotions are not natural to us. They will have to be put down with a firm resolve. Through this process, we will be able to control our actions, speech, and thoughts.

Witness Consciousness

Let us see a little more of the self-acting as the witness in the role of witness consciousness. We know that there are six systems of Indian Philosophy. One of them is Sāṁkhya. Among the six systems, Sāṁkhya and Yoga are closely related to each other.

In fact, they are spoken of as one single composite unit. According to Sāṁkhya, the highest principle is called pure consciousness. It can be realized by pure souls through deep meditation. The pure conscious principle is eternal. In a deep state of meditation, the external world gets lost and the mind stops.

The pure consciousness alone exists. It is the witness. Beyond the witness of consciousness, nothing else exists except consciousness, which is infinite. It is universal. It is the “knower,” witnessing all objects known in a dispassionate manner. It is the Self; it is the Puruṣa.

It is conscious and hence it can witness everything. On the other hand, prakṛti, or material nature, is unconscious, both in its manifest form and the unmanifest form. In the unmanifest form it is the primordial nature. In the manifest form it is the mind, intellect, ego, the five subtle senses, the five subtle elements and the ten gross elements.

In the deep consciousness stage, the mind and the senses are submerged in the soul and all differences vanish. A state of neutrality is achieved. When we are neutral to everything, we are also peaceful. The individual ego is responsible for all created differences that one experiences. Egoism along with desires, anger, and similar traits, creates all kinds of problems.

In a neutral state, such difficulties do not arise. Even pleasure and pain do not bother us anymore. The main problem with us is that we are not aware of our own selves and consequently we are not trying to reach the witness consciousness stage. Let us see an example. Let us suppose that we see a thief snatching a bag from an unwary passer-by and running away. Some of us run behind him, catch hold of him, and hand him over to the police. After a week we are called for an inquiry. The Police ask – “Is he the thief who snatched away the bag?” We say – “Yes.”

What was the color of the shirt he was wearing?” “Red.” “What was the name of the watch that he was wearing?” We say – “We did not notice that. We were in a hurry to catch him and hand him over to you.” The police may subject one of the witnesses to hypnosis. In the hypnotized stage, the witness not only remembers the name of the watch but also several other minute things. The fact is that though we see many things we do not cognize them. They are registered in our subconscious mind, but we are not able to bring them to the surface level of the mind.

Such incidents prove that we are capable of going back not only to the subconscious level but also to the Pure Conscious stage, the all-knowing stage. This can be achieved by yogic meditation. Yogic meditation is not easy, by any means. But it can be achieved by constant practice and by renouncing worldly desires. The mind should be free from thoughts. This is the most difficult task because the human mind gets restless when one sits for meditation.

A man went to a monk who was living in the jungle and asked him how to meditate. The monk said, “Just don’t think of anything.” The man said, “It’s easy” and got up and left. The monk yelled, “One more thing. Just don’t think of the monkey.” The man went home and started meditation. The thought about the monkey came in his mind. “The monk said, “don’t think about a monkey” and I won’t think about a monkey.”

But the thought of the monkey started chasing him everywhere and he lost his peace of mind. We carry a mind which always keeps a memory of those things which are not good for us.
Man is constantly perturbed by feelings – feelings of enjoyment and misery. If the feelings are watched without attachment, then the mind will not get involved in feelings because the mind enjoys sensation when there is attachment.

We may think “I am simply watching the sensation,” but internally we are enjoying the sensation. That kind of attachment through the mind also has to be stopped. The mythological texts describe Kṛṣṇa’s dalliance with the gopikā girls. Rādhā was his favorite. Later he married Rukmiṇī and Satyabhāmā. Once there was a contest as to who was the best celibate in the world.

People quoted the names of some sages and saints who had eschewed contacts with women all through their life. But Sage Vyāsa announced that Kṛṣṇa is the best celibate in the world. All the people were surprised. Then the sage explained that though at the physical level Kṛṣṇa was a married man, he was a bachelor by the mind.

Attachment or non-attachment depends on the mind and not physical activity. One need not go to the forest or any secluded place for practicing meditation; one does not have to lock oneself in a room to achieve the benefits of meditation. One can attend to all his normal duties and activities and still practice non-attachment by the mind.

The idea is brought out in one of Sri Ramakrishna’s parables. Once there were two friends. One of them was regularly going to the temples and following the rituals steadfastly. The other one was leading a wayward life. Once they were planning for a holiday. The first one said that they may go to the temple and listen to the discourses.

The other suggested that they may go to the red light area. They could not arrive at a common plan and so they decided to go the respective areas of their liking. The first one went to the temple, but his mind was not involved in the discourse. He was thinking about the other man. How he will be enjoying himself? How will those women be? Will they be beautiful?

My friend is so fortunate since he is leading a carefree life. I am bound by all these traditions and customs. That is how his thoughts went on. The other man was enjoying the company of women, physically. But his mind was not involved in it. He was thinking – How fortunate my friend is! He must be engrossed in the discourse. What beautiful stories are narrated in the discourse?

How great is Rāma? He sacrificed the kingdom for the sake of his father’s promise. I have wasted my life like this. I know now at least that in my next birth, I must become spiritual. Their lives went on like this. After some years, they both died. The second fellow was allotted a place in heaven, but the first fellow found himself in hell. He protested by saying that his friend who led an immoral life has been accorded a special status, whereas he who was spiritually oriented was subject to torments.

The gods asked him to look below and find out what was happening on the earth. The body of the first man was decorated with flowers and garlands and was taken to the cremation ground with all honors. People who followed the body were praising him for his spiritual activities while that of the second man was thrown away in the forest. Wolves and jackals were eating his body.

The gods said, “See, your goodness extended to your relationship with the physical body. Now you can see the results of your misplaced efforts. But you were corrupt in the mind and now have earned some reward in hell. Your friend was polluted physically and so his body received treatment fit for it in the world. But mentally he was elevated and hence his position in heaven.”

Śrī Śaṅkarācārya, in his work called Jīvanmuktānanda Laharī brings forth the efficacy of witness consciousness very beautifully.

पुरे पौरान् पश्यन् नरयुवतिनामाकृतिमयान्
सुवेषान् स्वर्णालङ्करणकलितांश्चित्रसदृशान् /
स्वयं साक्षाद्द्रष्टेत्यपि च कलयंस्तैः सह रमन्
मुनिर्न व्यामोहं भजति गुरुदीक्षाक्षततमाः //

pure paurān paśyan narayuvatināmākṛtimayān
suveṣān svarṇālaṅkaraṇakalitāṁścitrasadṛśān
svayaṁsākṣāddraṣṭetyapi ca kalayaṁstaiḥ saha raman
munirna vyāmohaṁ bhajati gurudīkṣākṣatatamāḥ
(verse 1)

“Seeing the people of the city, men and young women of different forms clad in attractive dress and decked with ornaments of gold, beautiful as paintings, the sage joyously interacts with them – yet he never gets deluded, blessed with the grace of his master, for in his heart is the knowledge that he is the witness, the watcher of them all, and of himself.”

कदाचित् प्रासादे क्वचिदपि च सौधे च धवले
कदा काले शैले क्वचिदपि च कूलेषु सरिताम् /
कुटीरे दान्तानां मुनिजनवराणामपि वसन्
मुनिर्न व्यामोहं भजति गुरुदीक्षाक्षततमाः //

kadācit prāsāde kvacidapi ca saudhe ca dhavale
kadā kāle śaile kvacidapi ca kūleṣu saritāṁ
kuṭīre dāntānāṁ munijanavarāṇāmapi vasan
munir na vyāmohaṁ bhajati gurudīkṣākṣatatamāḥ
(verse 3)

“Living at times in mighty palaces and at others in pearly mansions; at times on mountaintops and at others on the banks of rivers, and again in the huts of great hermits, the sage never gets deluded, blessed with the grace of his master – for in his heart is the knowledge that he is the witness, the watcher of them all, and of himself.”

Sage Vālmīki and Sage Vyāsa wrote the two great epics the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata respectively. They also appear as characters in them. How was it possible for them to write the epics without any personal element in them? They could do it because they stood as witness to the happenings in an unattached manner.

Thomas Jordan in his unpublished paper on self-awareness, meta-awareness, and the witness self6, has discussed the issue of witness consciousness at length. An edited version of Jordan’s discussion that follows will help one to understand this concept.

Developing Awareness Of Ego Processes

The dimension of self-awareness focuses on the development of awareness of what is going on in one’s own interior. A highly developed self-awareness can lead to the emergence and consolidation of a witnessing self that is not entangled in the contents of awareness. Meta-awareness is a concept that points to the possibility of taking awareness itself as an object of attention.

This means that at a particular stage, certain types of ego processes are in the driving seat of the person’s consciousness without that person being aware of the nature of these processes. He or she is therefore not in a position to review, re-evaluate, and change the very logic which is running the whole psyche.

By becoming conscious of certain aspects of what is going on inside – taking them as objects – these processes become available for reflection and a conscious relationship. Self-awareness here means awareness of the behavioral habits, emotions, desires, thoughts, and images that tumble through our being. Instead of being possessed by one’s habitual behavioral patterns, emotions, desires, and thoughts, a sophisticated level of self-awareness means that there is a locus of witnessing in consciousness that can turn the behaviors, emotions, desires, and thoughts into objects of attention.

Before the emergence of a meta-aware position, the attention is fully absorbed by the continuous stream of the contents of consciousness. The five senses, the body, and the mind produce percepts, emotions, and thoughts. These evoke swift processes of evaluation by the feeling function and the mind, which in turn elicit judgments, feelings, desires, and action impulses. The attention is so bound up with these processes that all that is perceived is the result of the processes. There is no free attention available for reflecting on the processes themselves, and therefore no possibility to actively relate to what is happening.

The self is lost in the ego processes, and cannot take a perspective on them. It may be helpful to think of this predicament as a situation where one is simply so occupied with experiencing that one doesn’t get the idea to ask such questions as Why do I feel this way now? Do I want to feel like this? What made me draw that conclusion? Do I want to react in this way?

The development of self-awareness can be conceived as a stage-like process. The first phase is to notice that emotional, volitional, and cognitive processes are going on in one’s consciousness. By patient and careful attention to these processes, one starts to develop an increasingly distinct and differentiated perception of the characteristics of the contents of awareness, and of the processes involved. Parallel to the development of skill and steadiness in observing these intra-subjective experiences, the witness self is strengthened.

The witness self is essentially attention that is not embedded in the contents of awareness, but free from the pressing forces of emotions, desires, impulses, and mental interpretations. When this witness self has been established and has acquired some firmness, the process of disembedding from emotions, desires, and thoughts can start in earnest.

The second phase of the development of self-awareness is when there is a witness self that can start to relate actively to the coming and going of emotions, desires, and thoughts. This is a self that can recognize that a certain emotion has been evoked, but is free to make decisions about what to do with the emotion. Should the impulses that the emotion triggers be given free rein? Is the emotion an archaic reaction that one better let go when it has run out of steam? Is it a subtle and desirable emotion that should be given attention and nurturance?

The third phase is entered when the self-sense stably relocates from embeddedness in the ego processes to the witness self-position. This is possible through a strong ability to relate to the contents of awareness without being had by them, i.e. well-developed non-attachment. Does the self-awareness has used in the practical world? Yes, it can be helpful in solving many workplace problems.

Uses Of Self-Awareness

1. Perceiving

Problems arise since we are not able to perceive things in the proper perspective. We make a superficial observation of many things. We miss out on many important points. We unconsciously introduce our personal element into events and therefore only get a distorted picture of the situation. If we can observe things from the witness self-level, we will be able to view things impartially and arrive at solutions.

2. Emotions and moods

When strong emotions arise in the organism, they fill out the person’s field of awareness and completely dominate the experience, which among other things means that they take control over the person’s will. Persons who are subject to their emotions and moods easily become captives of negative affective states, such as bitterness, low self-esteem, hate, depression, inferiority feelings, deprivation, or resignation. By making the emotions an object of awareness, they can have a better balanced approach in life.

3. Thinking

Many meditation methods aim at differentiation from any kind of thinking or imaging in order to experience consciousness in its pure form, i.e., consciousness without any content.

4. Feeling

The feeling is a process that is close to the emotions. Brain research has shown that value judgments are made in the limbic system, at first independently of cognitive evaluations. When the senses pick up new information, this percept is run through the feeling function and is assigned a subjective value (in terms of good or bad). When somebody is upset about something, we only feel that he is upset; we do not sympathize with him for being upset. Meditation helps one to rise above subjective feelings and be more objective in respecting the feelings of others.

5. Desiring

The behavior of human beings is to a considerable extent goal-directed, i.e., it involves desires, wishes, motives, and intentions. A person who is subject to the desires and wishes that emerge in oneself does not notice that this happens; one just takes them for granted as what one wants, and acts in order to gratify them as far as possible. The real challenge is not being aware of what one wants, but of developing a certain measure of non-attachment to desires. In the first phase of self-awareness in relation to desiring, one develops the ability to notice and articulate the desires and wishes. This enables the person to “own” her own desires, i.e. taking responsibility for having them rather than just acting them out. In the subsequent phases, a fully emerged witness self remains stable and unperturbed in relation to the desires and wishes that come and go in one’s being. The self is not driven by desires but can choose what desires to act on and what desires to let go.

6. Behavioral reflexes

A very large share of our behavior in everyday life is directed by “automated” reactions and habitual behavioral patterns. Behavioral reflections can be controlled through the witness self, and one will be in a position to choose actions intentionally instead of acting on the spur of the moment and get entangled.

7. Meta-awareness

When a person has developed an awareness of the ego processed in-depth, the self can witness the ego processes without being immersed in the ongoing flow of experience. This frees attention for being completely absorbed by the contents of awareness and opens the way for experiencing the nature of awareness itself, apart from all contents. This experience is here called meta-awareness, awareness of awareness.

A number of points expressed by Thomas Jordan can be practically experienced as demonstrated by Jagadguru Kripaluji in his theory of Subtle-body relaxation.

Jagadguru Kriplauji Maharaj’s Yoga Technique Of Subtle Body Relaxation And Witness Consciousness Development

Today’s man has given himself to many mind-related ailments like stress, anxiety, tension, and depression. Even if one does not have a clinical diagnosis for any of these, it is common to say that one is under stress or tension. People often think about home at the office and about the office at home with the result that there is virtually no relaxation for the mind.

For the sake of relaxation, they watch TV and become even more stressed on seeing their favorite characters suffer in the mega serial. Just as the body needs relaxation, the mind also needs relaxation, and if we ignore it we invite our own diseases. Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj has propounded his own system of the Subtle Body Relaxation technique that is found to be very effective from the point of those who have practiced it.

Subtle Body Relaxation is a powerful mind management technique. It not only provides ultimate relaxation to the gross and subtle bodies but also revitalizes them. Since the mind is applied to the divine realm in this system, it gets purified by meditation on god. From the physical point of view, it brings in all the benefits of the Yogāsanas.

From the spiritual point of view, it brings about true yoga, that is, communion with God. This technique is practiced in three stages. In the first stage, one has to lie down in the Śavāsana posture, without moving any part of the body. In the second stage, the emotional content within one own self is developed. One takes a firm resolution that he/she has an emotional meeting with God in the manner of one’s own choice. In the third stage one takes the subtle body to the realm of divinity. What is meant by the subtle body? We clearly understand what the gross body is. It is the physical body consisting of a head, arms, and legs, etc.

However, what happens in a dream? Our physical hands and legs are at rest. Yet we drive a car, we eat, and we move from place to place effortlessly. How is this being accomplished? It is through our subtle body that these actions are taking place.

Primarily, it is the mind. So, subtle body relaxation is more or less mind relaxation, though the practitioners feel that it is much more than that. The mind has abundant power, but in agitation, stress, or tension, it wastes all its power, by fighting within itself. When a person fights physically, his energy dwindles and he becomes tired and weak. So also the mind becomes weak by fighting inside caused by agitations. When physically weak, one cannot do much work.

Likewise, when the mind is weak, it cannot be productive, innovative, or creative. It becomes more or less blank. When the mind becomes blank, the external limbs also become inactive. The eyes may be open but one will not be able to see. The ears will be open but one will not be able to hear. Therefore the root cause, that is, the mental agitation must be rooted out.

But it is more easily said than done. All the attempts to tame the mind only result in draining it further. It is here that Yoga comes to our rescue. Yoga teaches us that there are different levels of the mind. At the surface, it is turbulent, agitating, wavering, doubting, indecisive, and unsteady. When our awareness is confined to this level, we get exhausted. We cannot do anything creative or useful. At the surface, the ocean has waves, ripples, whirlpools, and so on. When we go deep beneath the surface, it is calm. There is life, there is creation, there are pearls.

Likewise, if we go deep into our mind, past the agitating surface, we can explore an abundance of new things. We can also obtain inner peace which will transmit energy and power to the entire body. At the same time, the surface level mind cannot be totally dispensed with. It has its own uses as well., the primary one, to take care of one’s safety and security needs. It is always on the lookout for danger. It is always projecting how to meet the need for food and comfort. Its nature is to scan for threats and opportunities. It takes decisions based on likes and dislikes.

It organizes the information and processes them. It can manipulate the data, but it is not sharp enough to come up with new ideas. It is basically self-centered and fear-based. Another name for this surface mind is the ego. In Indian terminology, it is ahaṁkāra. Strengthening the ego is also good in a way since it takes care of the needs and desires at the worldly level.

From the spiritual point of view, the surface mind or ego is termed as a false self since it fragments reality into pieces, dividing the world into categories like me, mine, and the other. The ego is preventing us from going beyond the material world. Since it is always engrossed in thoughts about safety and survival, it lacks the capacity to remain calm and enjoy inner peace and tranquility. Hence philosophical texts recommend the subjugation of the ego.

Unlike the other yoga traditions, Kripaluji Yog views the egocentric self as natural and beneficial. It is the ego that gives us an identity. Do not confront it, rather develop it towards the positive side. The nature of the egocentric mind is to pursue the first available opportunity and seek comfort. If we allow it to do that, our identity shrinks and stagnates. Ignore it, our identity itself will be lost. Hence the Kripaluji Yoga suggests an alternate solution.

In Kripaluji Yoga, the goal is not to kill the ego-self, but rather to create the conditions that allow us to grow beyond it. To do this we must learn to dive below the surface level mind and awaken the intuitive mind or the buddhi. Unlike the egocentric mind, the buddhi is free from the distractions of the senses and is steady. It reflects the brilliance of the pure awareness from which it was formed. The buddhi is contemplative by nature and can penetrate into the essence of things, realizing their true. Rather than fragmenting reality into pieces, the buddhi is always integrating the disparate parts into wholeness.

Innately creative, the buddhi is the source of insight and generates entirely new ideas. When the apple fell, the egocentric mind would have thought of picking it and eating. But the intuitive mind of Isaac Newton dove deep into the process and came up with the theory of gravitation. He had not switched off the surface level mind. Had he done that he would not have even observed the apple falling? Hence both are necessary. Where the surface mind stops, the intuitive mind takes up the thread and proceeds further. The surface mind should hand over the baton to the intuitive mind which continues to run and reach the goal.

The intuitive mind provides the necessary counterbalance to the self-centeredness of the ego. It is not enough if the intuitive mind appears in flashes on and off. It must be allowed to flow continuously. Since it has crossed the narrow limits of self-centeredness, it is bound to benefit the entire humanity. That is where the works of great sages of the past, the poets, artists, and scientists differ from those of ordinary men.

Everyone cannot become a poet or scientist. But it is possible for everyone to rise above the worrying surface level mind and mitigate one’s own problems of stress and tension. Now let us come back to the first stage of the subtle body relaxation.

Stage 1 – Preparation

Lie down in the śavāsana posture, keeping your hands on the ground with the palms facing upward, towards the sky. A gap of one foot should be maintained between the feet. Keep your eyes closed, preferably covered with a kerchief or a piece of cloth. This is to avoid disturbing factors like light, insects, etc., from upsetting your concentration. Keep all the limbs in a comfortable position so that you will not need to adjust them later due to any discomfort or pain. Stop all movements of the body. Breathing should be normal and rhythmic.

Relax each part of the body. After a while develop the feeling that your body is becoming heavier. Imagine that by the weight of your body you are slowly sinking into the ground. After a brief period, develop the opposite sensation. Feel that your body is becoming light. It is slowly becoming weightless and feels that you are floating in the air on account of weightlessness. Enjoy the feeling for a while. Now leave your body on the ground as you continue to float, say one foot above your own body. Observe it remaining calm in the śavāsana posture.

Look at each limb of your body. Imagine that your body lying on the ground has become transparent. Look within your body. See the functioning of your heart, look at the lungs breathing in and out, and look at your muscles expanding and contracting. Your body is in perfect health. It is glowing with positive energy. You are rejuvenated both physically as well as spiritually.

Stage 2 – Meditation

i. Face to face with God

In the second stage of subtle body relaxation, you take a firm resolve that you would like to meet your favorite god today. Pray to your spiritual master for his grace, to enable you to fulfill this resolution. Also, resolve strongly that you will stay attentive and not fall asleep. Imagine that you are leaving your physical body on earth and beginning to fly with your subtle body. You are passing through the clouds and you see that the mountains and rivers on the earth are becoming smaller and smaller. You are now enjoying the silence of vast space.

Now you have entered into the abode of Kṛṣṇa. You hear sweet notes emanating from his flute. Before long, you see him standing under the Kadamba tree in his garden. Oh, what a sight! His bluish color, his divine form, his crown of peacock feathers, his garment, his garlands – everything is so enchanting. He is looking at you with a captivating smile.

Fall at his feet and hold them. Request him by saying, “Oh Lord, I am part and parcel of your own self. Your service is my only goal. Please have mercy on me and grace me so that I will have the chance of looking at you all the time and derive supreme joy.”

Kṛṣṇa lifts you up and holds you in his arms. You embrace him. You feel as though all your burdens have gone. Kṛṣṇa consoles you by saying “Do not worry, my child. Leave all your problems to me and surrender unto me. Increase your devotion to me.” So saying Kṛṣṇa permits you to leave. You come back and enter your physical body.

ii. Welcoming God to your home

Today you shall extend an invitation to Kṛṣṇa and request him to grace your home. You leave your physical body here and go home with your subtle body. You make arrangements for welcoming the Lord. You clean the entire house and decorate it with flowers and festoons. All the members of the family are busy arranging things in the best possible manner.

People are singing the glory of the Lord. Suddenly a bright light appears. As the light fades you are able to see Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa appearing in their beautiful form. Everybody shouts the name of RādhāKṛṣṇa in ecstasy. You welcome them wholeheartedly and offer them seats. You wash their feet chanting their names. The water that flows from their feet is collected.

You sprinkle that water on all the members of the family. You give Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa a mixture of milk and honey to drink. You give them water to drink. You present them with new garments that you have purchased. You adorn them with ornaments and flower garlands. You sprinkle scents on them. You apply sandal paste on their forehead and also apply kumkum. You sprinkle akṣatā and flowers on them chanting their names. You sing their glory. One of the family members is fanning them. You perform ārti, chanting the mantra, or reciting a song suited for the ārti. Then you offer food for the Lord and his consort.

They are served with a variety of dishes that have been prepared with love. After they have finished eating, you offer them betel leaves and nuts. After some time, you offer them glasses of water to drink. They bless you with their sweet words and take leave. All of you go up to the road and see them off. Again there is a flash of light and in a moment they disappear.

iii. Visiting Brindavan

Leaving your physical body on the floor, you go home with your subtle body and pack your box with clothes and things meant for daily use. You make a telephone call to your travel agent and he books a ticket. You go to the railway station and board the train. During the journey, you are thinking about your visit to Brindāvan. You get down at Mathurā station, engage an autorickshaw, and proceed to Brindāvan. You reach the banks of the river Yamunā. You see there Kṛṣṇa playing with his friends.

Oh, lo, there appears from the river the terrible 5 hooded serpent. All the cowherd are terrified. They seek Kṛṣṇa’s help. Kṛṣṇa jumps on the serpent and dances on it. Then the fight ensues. After a terrible fight, Kṛṣṇa kills the serpent. Nobody can believe it. Such a young boy killed the huge serpent. That is his divine power. Yaśodā and Nandabāla arrive on the scene. They embrace their child and ensure that he is not hurt. They take him home.

After some time you move to another part of the river bank. The gopikā ladies are dancing and singing the name of Kṛṣṇa. They are all worried since he is delaying. Suddenly the Lord arrives and the gopikā ladies are overjoyed. With Kṛṣṇa in the middle, the girls surround him and dance. When Kṛṣṇa dances with one particular girl, others become jealous of her.

So Kṛṣṇa manifests himself into several Kṛṣṇas, like many girls, so many Kṛṣṇas. They all dance and rejoice. You have witnessed the wonderful Rāsa Līlā. After completing your Brindāvan visit, you come back to your physical body.

Step 3 – Conclusion

Your meditation session is over now and you have to come back to your normal state. Slowly bring back your consciousness and also a movement to your limbs. Move or bend each part of your body. Lock the fingers in your hand and place them above your head. Then stretch your arms above your head, keeping your fingers interlocked. Now turn sideways and sit up slowly. Rub your palms and place them on your eyes. Open your eyes slowly with a few blinks.

What we have tried in this exercise is to awaken our witness consciousness. When the mind is steady by focusing only on divine thoughts and impressions, we can see a little truth and growth. This technique allows the mind to remain an objective witness without the disturbance of other misdirecting thoughts. One can realize the potential of the witness if one can maintain a wakeful attitude. We have witnessed what is happening within our bodies without passing any remarks.

As we practice this exercise, we will be able to awaken the witness consciousness and clearly observe what is happening without reactivity or judgment. Witness consciousness takes us closer to truth and reality. The consistent practice of witness consciousness will lengthen your attention span and develop your powers of concentration.

We see that the world is full of dualities, for example, day and night, space and time, and so on. In our personal life also, we are confronted by dualities like pleasure and pain, love and hate, etc. But we want one of the sets only and try to avoid the other. We want pleasure but not pain. In spending all our energy in avoiding pain, we fail to enjoy even the pleasure that comes our way.

We always feel miserable. What is the way out? Modern science has proved that space and time, the building blocks of the universe, are not separate entities, but rather smoothly linked parts of a large whole. Yoga also teaches that the pairs of opposites are inter-related parts of an indivisible whole, two sides of the same stick. Witness consciousness is a practical way to integrate these opposites and harness the energy of wholeness.

By neutralizing the dualistic forces of rāga and dveṣa, attraction and aversion, it allows one to rest in a non-reactive awareness able to sense the unity underlying diversity. Intimate with whatever is arising, free of any compulsive need to change it, you are able to see reality clearly and embrace both sides of life.

The internal freedom of witness consciousness allows you to act in a purposeful way in the external world also. You will be able to take decisions without fear or favor, without being touched by your own likes and dislikes, in an impartial way. Instead of waging a battle, to have pleasure without pain, you are able to feel more at ease with both pleasure and pain and treat them alike.

We have undertaken a visit to Kṛṣṇa’s abode and had a glimpse of him. We were one with him. This is a way of a living a relationship with the spirit. It is a state of non-duality. The state of non-duality can be achieved by two ways. The first is the way of negation, the netivāda. You keep saying, I am not the tree, I am not the cow, I am not the body or its feelings, I am not the mind or its thoughts, I am not any of the things of the Universe.

What remains if you negate everything? Only the Spirit. I am the spirit, the Absolute. But by negating everything, we are treating the entire spectrum of life as illusory; and we may tend to withdraw from the tasks, responsibilities and challenges of every day life.

The second path is a way of affirmation. Instead of saying neti, neti, we say asmiasmi. We say the world is spirit, this body is spirit, all these people around me is the spirit. This is the path recommended by Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj.

You do not have to strain yourselves to achieve this kind of non-duality. You are born divine; the divine energy is manifested in you. You simply have to realize that potential. Once you do that, your entire personality glows with divinity. For this, you need some practice and that is what the Kripalu Yoga has shown.

Closing remarks

We discussed two important issues relating to the mind – (i) witness consciousness, and (ii) the usefulness of self-awareness. We may now see some observations by scholars and thinkers on these two points.

Jiddu Krishnamurti says “Awareness is observation without choice, condemnation, or justification. Awareness is a silent observation from which there arises understanding without the enjoyer and the experience. In this awareness, which is passive, the problem or the cause is given an opportunity to unfold itself and so give its full significance. In awareness, there is no end in view to be gained, and there is no becoming, the ‘me’ and the ‘mine’ not being given the continuity.”

According to Osho, awareness is consciousness without thinking. Let us see his own explanation. “Consciousness without thinking: that’s what awareness is. Being alert and with no thought. Try it! whenever you see thinking to gather, disperse it! Pull yourself out of it! Look at the trees with no screens of thinking between you and the trees.

Listen to the chirping of the birds with no chirping of the mind inside. Look at the sun rising and feel that inside you also a sun of consciousness is rising… but don’t think about it, don’t assert, don’t state, don’t say. Simply be. And, by and by, you will start feeling glimpses of awareness, sudden glimpses of awareness — as if a fresh breeze has entered into your room which was getting stale and dead; as if a ray of light has entered into the dark night of your soul; as if, suddenly, life has called you back.”

He says again, “If there is pain, use it as an awareness, as meditation, as a sharpening of the soul. And when pleasure is there, use it as a droning, as a forgetfulness. Both are ways to reach God. One is to remember yourself totally, and one is to forget yourself totally.”

Swami Sivananda says, “Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in eternal awareness or pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.” Similarly, Ramana Maharshi says “You are awareness. Awareness is another name for you. Since you are awareness there is no need to attain or cultivate it.

All that you have to do is to give up being aware of other things, that is, of the not-Self. If one gives up being aware of them then pure awareness alone remains, and that is the Self.”

(This paper was presented by Dr. S.Ramaratnam at Indic Yoga conference)


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