by Swami Krishnananda
Dawn: Swamiji, how can I know the Self through my meditation?
SWAMIJI: You are in the state of meditation for the purpose of knowing the Self. Now, what is this Self? You may say that you are sitting there and talking to me; this is the Self, but it is not the Self. The physical body cannot be considered as your real Self, because even when you are fast asleep and not conscious of the body, still you are existing. So, if you can exist even without the consciousness of a body, it follows from that experience that you can exist without the body. That means you are not the body.
This analysis may enable you not to get attached too much to these bodily comforts, physical associations, social engagements, etc. Social, political, material, physical engagements are all connected with this body; if you are really not the physical body, but something more than that, all this drama of life loses its significance. You belong to another world altogether, above and transcendent to the physical world.
What is the condition in which you existed in the state of sleep? You may say that you knew nothing. Maybe, but how did you know that you knew nothing in the state of deep sleep? It is a contradiction in statement. To say that you knew that you did not know does not make much sense. "I know that I did not know anything in the state of deep sleep," is a sentence which has no sense, but yet we make this statement always. This implies that you had a consciousness, but it was covered by some peculiar veil.
You may ask me what this veil is made of, and why it is harassing and covering you like that. This veil is constituted of desires. Every human being has desires. Fulfilled desires produce impressions, and they act like a cloud on consciousness. Unfulfilled desires are still worse. If you know something of psychology, you will know that the mind has various strata – the conscious, subconscious and unconscious level, etc. The unconscious level also is a kind of mental level only. These are all forms taken by unfulfilled desires. This is the reason why you are not really conscious of your existence in the state of deep sleep, and you are only inferring afterwards that you slept, though you did know what it was all about.
With this analysis, you concentrate on the consciousness of your being, minus association with the body. You deeply concentrate, with the concept that you are consciousness; you are not the body, and nothing connected with the body also – just pure consciousness, intelligence, resplendent light.
Consciousness cannot be limited to any particular place, because if consciousness is to be limited, you must be aware that it is limited. In order that consciousness may be aware that it is limited, it should exceed the limit. Otherwise, you can't know that it is limited. Now, this second inference shows that your consciousness is unlimited. It is an astounding conclusion that you are arriving at, that perhaps your essential Self is all-pervading. You are not an ordinary human being.
Of course, this is a brief introduction that I am giving to you on a large subject; for the days you are here, keep in mind that you are consciousness pervading all things, universal in its nature, not this mortal body. You are the immortal self, immortal consciousness. Go on asserting this again and again. Then, you will find, because of the fact of your consciousness being universal, everything will be connected with you, and nothing is excluded from you. Then, all your desires will subside, and some better things will take place; what they are, you will know yourself.
Dawn: But Swamiji, I am having trouble with concentration. My mind is always wandering.
SWAMIJI: At that time you must chant a formula – any formula you like. In India, people chant a formula called a mantra. If you don't have a mantra, you can chant anything; in regard to whatever you want, you make a formula. In Christian theology, Jesus' name is taken. Loudly they chant it, so that the mind may concentrate. In India, they take the name of Rama, Krishna or any other god, or they chant Om several times. Some mantra or formula or name of God is resorted to, and chanted loudly in the beginning, until the mind comes back to a point of concentration; when it is concentrated, you may not chant the mantra loudly; slowly mutter the name. The best way of controlling the mind is reciting a formula – Om, or any other mantra you like. Some audible sound must be there.
Otherwise, if that practice is not possible, you gaze on some picture, statue, form, etc., which is projected outside, which you like best, and which you consider as the suitable object for concentration. Keep a picture, and go on looking at it, and close the eyes. When the mind wanders, again open the eyes and go on looking at it. When you look at the object, the mind will not wander here and there, because where the eyes are, there the mind also is. After some time, when you are successful in concentrating on the thing in front, close the eyes and mentally, conceptually, feel the presence of that object. Again when the mind wanders, open the eyes and look at it. This is another method.
Chanting a mantra is one method, and concentrating with open eyes on a portrait or picture or some symbol is another method. If that is also not possible, at least study a scripture, read a holy book. Go on reading it again and again, until the mind gets absorbed into that thought. If nothing is possible, chant Om for fifteen or twenty minutes at one time. It must be done every day, and after one or two months you will find the mind coming down.