by Swami Krishnananda
It is important to understand the art of meditation on God. Loving God is actually a great meditation on God. Your heart concentrates itself on the Supreme Being. You make yourself en rapport with this mighty existence. How will you succeed in doing this great sacrifice of meditation on God?
Ordinarily, in every human being, the consciousness, which is the nature of the soul, gets diverted to the sense organs. Even when we close our eyes and plug our ears, the senses operate. A sense is not the physical eardrum or the retina of the eye; it is a sensation that is perpetually taking place in us. The manner in which the mind operates will indicate to what extent the sensations are active. Close your eyes and then start thinking. You will think only in terms of the memory that you retain of the objects of sense. So even if the eyes are closed, sensory activity need not cease. The sense organs are not the culprits. They are only the vehicles through which consciousness emerges in terms of the objects outside. This habit of the mind, or consciousness, to think always in terms of what is outside us has to be checked. This is what is known as self-restraint or sense-control. You cannot think God correctly unless your senses are controlled.
When Sri Krishna, as we have it in the Mahabharata, proposed to go on a peace mission to the court of the Kauravas, Dhritarashtra, the blind king, hearing the news of the coming of this great person, summoned his minister Sanjaya and asked, "What kind of person is coming? Can I behold him?" The minister Sanjaya, the wisest of people at that time, remarked: "You cannot see him unless you are a kritatma. An akritatma cannot behold this great person that is coming to the court of Your Highness." What is kritatma, and what is akritatma? Kritatmata is to be blessed in a spiritual sense to be able to restrain the operation of the sense organs. Such a person can behold Sri Krishna, who is the master of self-restraint.
This is a symbolic statement indicating that the vision of God is the cessation of sensory activity. God is the soul of the universe and, therefore, only your soul can contact that universal Soul. The senses, the mind and the operations of the psyche normally cannot hope to contact God. There is no such thing as contacting God, really speaking, because contact implies the coming together of two elements. The soul of the human being actually is the replica of the Soul of the universe. It is a miniature presentation of the universal existence which is the paramatman, as it is called – Supreme Soul. So only a soul can behold the Soul. The effort that you have to exercise in this regard is something to be deeply considered. You cannot desire God when you desire something else. The desire for another thing different from the supreme existence of God is a diversion of interest. The diversion of the mind to something which is other than the great objective of your meditation – such a devotion is called vyabhicharini bhakti. It is a dishonest way of looking at God and trying to deceive Him, as it were, by making it appear that you are concerned with Him while you are really concerned with the objects of the world.
Why are the senses so strong? Why has it become so difficult for us to restrain them? What is the matter? When a clarified understanding suggests to you that the inclusion of God's being in your own person is going to give you whatever you want – superabundance of everything that you can conceive is in the very being of the great Almighty Lord – knowing this, why should the senses move here and there? The reason, apparently, is the search for as much joy as possible. Is there no joy in union with God? The power of the sense organs, which find joy only in outward objects, influences the mind to such an extent that when you think, you think with joy only of that which is outside you. It is not easy to control the sense organs. The secret of their success, the source of their power, is in the attachment that consciousness has with this body. Though omnipresence is the nature of reality, location is the nature of this body. The body is in one place only and, therefore, it wants only one thing – connected with each sense organ.
You have to learn the art of meditation, first of all. Many of you must be practising meditation. And each one of you should honestly feel for yourself how far you have succeeded in pouring your entire personality into the consciousness of God's existence. Meditation is not a routine. It is not a mechanical performance of religiosity. Meditation is not an activity in the ordinary sense of the term. You are not 'doing' something in meditation. Your being wells up into a heightened form of performance. You do not know whether you have got a soul at all. How many of you think that there is a soul? You think it is just 'me', this physical body, and, with some concession, it is this mind, this reason, this intellect – the psychological operation. Have you got a soul? Actually, you do not have a soul, you are the soul! So do not say "the soul in me", and so on. If the soul, which you are, is in you, then what are you? Are you something other than the soul? Remove this idea from your mind, first of all. You do not have a soul inside you, as if you are outside the soul. You are, yourself, the soul.
But, what is the soul? It is consciousness. Where is consciousness? It cannot be tied down to the little barrier of the physical body. Consciousness cannot have a limitation. The very consciousness of the limitation of consciousness implies that it is everywhere. You must be a little bit logical in this context. Deep thinking and analysis is necessary. If consciousness cannot be limited, it cannot be only inside your body. You have to work like a schoolmaster, like a teacher who goes on repeating the same thing again and again to the children, the students, so that what he says enters their minds. Repeat it again and again. This repetition of the formula of the soul's actual union with God is sometimes known as japa sadhana.
You know what is japa. You take a name, conceive a formula – a kind of expression describing the nature of God. You call it a mantra because it is holy. Repeat it again and again: "Almighty Lord, I seek You! Almighty Lord, I seek You! Almighty Lord, I seek You! I seek You only! I want You only! Thou art everywhere! I seek You, That which is everywhere! May my heart melt in the Ocean of Your Being!" Go on telling this to yourself. I am not giving you a mantra here, but a formula to think. You can think and recite the formula of God's existence in any manner whatsoever, in any language, because language is only an expression of feeling, of your intention. Loudly call the Name of God. Let it be That. Your senses will be hushed completely by the sound that you make in calling the Name of God. The noise of the senses, of course, is very intense. They clamour; they cry. They create a big hullabaloo. They will not allow you to think, even. "I want this! You give this to me! I am not satisfied!" say the sense organs.
While there are many ways of compelling the senses to come down to the level of the soul's action and being, one of the ways I am suggesting is loudly calling the Name of God. Nothing can succeed like this method, because you yourself are hearing what you are speaking. When you hear, your mind hears. And when you repeat this kind of calling, the soul will feel what the mind has been thinking. It is not merely muttering something that is called japa. It is a serious activity you are engaging yourself in. "I have to do one thousand malas today," people say. They are thinking more about the number of malas than the quality of thought. You can have a thousand malas, it is all right, but a thousand times you must be intensely thinking only this thing. Do not think of the beads, the fingers, and the time that you have taken for the japa. Remove this idea of time. "I have to finish it in three hours." Why should you finish it in three hours? Why are you limiting your aspiration to the time? A few minutes of internal surge of love and concentration on God's perfection is a greater japa than merely rolling the beads for a long time with a wandering mind and unsatisfied sensory calls.
All this is difficult. So, what you do in the beginning is to have a model of the presence of God, which may be in the form of a diagram that you can draw of the cosmic existence – a yantra or a mandala, as it is usually known – or even a picture of what you conceive God to be. You cannot conceive of God, of course. You cannot take His portrait; it is not possible. But you can imagine an extensive dimension of Being, including everything that is in creation. This kind of concept is adumbrated beautifully in the description of the cosmic form of God – Visvarupa darshana – as we have in the Purusha Sukta of the Veda and the eleventh chapter of the Bhagavadgita. It does not mean that God has arms, legs, feet, eyes, etc. But you cannot think of Him in any other manner. The idea behind this portrait, this picture of the omnipotence of God through the Visvarupa darshana, is to compel the sense organs and the mind not to think anything other than one thing. Various methods have to be employed.
I mentioned to you japa sadhana, loudly chanting the Name of God – calling Him from the bottom of your heart as if you are dying for Him. You must really want Him. This is very important. "I do not know whether it is possible in this life, or not. Anyway, I have not succeeded in having any vision of God up to this time. Twenty-five years of meditation have been for no purpose. I do not know. I have pain in the legs. There are many difficulties in this life. I have so many commitments. I have a family. I have to work hard." These thoughts will come as vicious angels telling you that you are not meant for this. This is a predicament that you may have to face, but is something which great saints and sages have also faced.
"Take this vast kingdom of gold and silver," someone whispered into the ears of Jesus Christ who was on a high mountain, in meditation. "Why all this waste of withering your body? You have attained perfection already. Get up," said Mara to Buddha in meditation. When Dhruva of the Srimad Bhagavata fame, a little boy, went into meditation, it is said in the Puranas that he saw his own mother in his presence, just as Buddha saw his wife in his presence while he was meditating. It was not merely imagination – visibly, concretely, the figure of the wife was before him. "My dear Lord, why have you deserted me?" she said. A mother comes: "My dear child, this is not meant for you. Come on." Wherever there is an ardent effort to crush the senses, to divert them back into the mind and melt them in the soul, these obstacles will come like a ravaging tempest. Therefore, you should not try to do intensive forms of tapas when there are some lurking desires. Who does not have a desire for mundane things? If you are earnest in this practice, you must be as clear as a statistics officer, tabulating the desires. Make a list of all these desires that you have in your mind. They may be looking like a million, but they are really not so many. There are some fundamental impulses in you, and you are very well conscious of them. Make a list of them.
Can you fulfil these wishes? Sometimes there are some minor desires. Middling-intense is the form of certain desires. Some desires are very strong. How do you handle these desires? There are desires which can be harmlessly fulfilled. Do not go to extremes. There are harmless desires which are just requirements of the body. They are not luxuries; they are necessities, without which you cannot even survive. You must know what these needs of the physical personality are. Fulfil them in the measure that is necessary, without going to luxurious extremes. Certain desires are strong enough to worry your mind, especially when it is not easy to fulfil them. Some of the desires are beyond the capacity of your physical and mental existence, fulfilling which appears to be almost impossible in this life. They have to be handled only by direct meditation on God.
Remember, there is nothing that God cannot give you. The desires are foolish expressions of an uneducated mind. All that you want in this world, which is just a shadow of the realities of things, you will find in the Reality, in the kingdom of God. All the objects, all the persons, everything that you see in this world are shadows of a reality that is in the heavens. Hence, you are pursuing shadows actually when you are after the objects of sense. No sense contact can satisfy you completely. There is agony following every form of sense indulgence. You cannot be indulging in sense objects throughout your life. The vigour of the body will diminish by dissipation of energy, and later you will find you have got nothing from this mirage of the appearance of objects. It was a dry desert looking like clean water.
Are you sure that God can give you all things? Does not the Bhagavadgita loudly proclaim to us, "Whoever is intent upon Me exclusively, without any external thought, I shall take care of your requirements appropriately, as you would need them." You may doubt, sometimes, whether this is true. Has God ever given you what you need? You will complain, "I have got nothing from God. In spite of my worships, my japas and my prayers at the altar, I am the same miserable man." Do you know why you feel like that? It is because you have not asked God. It is told to us by the great Master, "Ask, and it shall be given." But you are not asking Him. Your mind is elsewhere. Your whole being should rise up into activity in asking from God. God is a whole Being and, therefore, He demands the whole of your being in order that He may respond. Asking is not thinking. It is the soul rising to the surface of intense action – unthinkable, indeed, what this could be. Intensely think that what you want is here with you.
Apart from the spiritual aspect of the certainty of God giving you everything, there is also a psychological side of it. If you intensely think that you want a thing, it shall come to you, but you should be intense and exclusive. One of the suggestions made by psychologists is that if you need a thing, feel that it has already come; that you are in possession of it. As everything is everywhere in this universe, it is not difficult to actually obtain what you need by intense longing for it. You should not think that what you need is somewhere else and it has to gradually come near you. "It has already come, and it is with me, and it is me!" Needless to say, you are identifying yourself with the very thing that you want. If this process can go on for a long time, you will find everything getting materialised. If you want laddu, laddu will come. If you want oranges, oranges will come. It may look very foolish to think like this, but it is a fact. God can give you even a spoon of sugar for your tea. He is not incapable of doing that. There are stories in the lives of saints where these miracles have taken place. You have got doubt in your mind. "This is not possible for me." The devil is always whispering, "This is not for you, it is not possible." "These are all useless talks," it will tell you; and it will go on telling you continuously so that you may not succeed at all in your life. Vigorous concentration and intense longing is necessary. If you cannot think properly along these lines, read stories, anecdotes wherein you will see how God has blessed devotees.