by Swami Krishnananda
It was pointed out that anything can be taken as an ideal for meditation, inasmuch as all things in the world are inseparably related to the world as a whole. Every object in this world may be considered as a kind of knot of universal energy, so that we can untie this knot and release the energy by concentration on that particular spot called the object of meditation, and the knot opens up.
A knot has a peculiar characteristic. What we call egoism, or a sense of ego, is also a psychic knot. It is a concentralisation of idea, consciousness, thought, or whatever we may call it, at a particular chosen spot, conditioned by space as well as by time so that this knot prevents the entry into itself of the larger force that is pervading the whole creation. It becomes self-enclosed; selfishness becomes the rule of its operations. It is just itself, and nothing else can there be in the world. It is not merely a philosophy adopted by egoism, but it strongly believes that nothing anywhere can be equal to it, and it is the principle judging factor of anything and everything. This attitude is a kind of definition of what self-centred means.
I used the word ‘knot’ both in a physical sense and also in a psychic sense. Psychologically, we may call it the consciousness of finitude, ego-sense; and physically, it is any object, including an atom. Even an atom is governed by a principle of egoism. It cannot permit itself to be other than what it is, physically and chemically. The electronic forces that determine the structure of the atom make it what it is and differentiate it from every other atom. If this atom can be broken by bombardment, if the knot can be untied, the littleness of the energy that is there will become the largeness that is at the back of it, and it will look as if the whole ocean, so to speak, is rushing through a conduit pipe. The effect of it is unimaginable. This is what will happen in meditation.
But the process of releasing this energy is important. Though you have understood what I told you, you will not actually be able to put it into practice on account of the habit of the mind to think only in that old fashion to which it has been accustomed right from childhood. You have been told by society, by your own people, by your family, by your community, by your culture, that this is what it is and it cannot be anything else. Children are oftentimes told by parents, “The man next door is our enemy.” The children are told again and again, “The man next door is our enemy. He is not our friend. Don’t go there, to the other compound. This is our land; that is our enemy’s land.” It looks as if it is a very good education that is being given to children—a fine education indeed, of a very fine ethical character. It is told to us by the circumstances of the society of individualities—physically, socially and psychologically—that each one is what one is, and others are different from what one is. This is a wrong psychology which tells us something about what appears on the surface of things. No doubt everything looks different from everything else—but it only looks different; it really is not, because behind the millions of these little concentrated knots of force which are the objects of perception, there is one universal sea gushing forth and wishing to introduce itself into these little knots.
It is said that at every moment, God calls everybody. God calling is another way of the universal force wanting to enter into the finitude of ego-centric centres. The release of this energy, which is in our own selves as individuals as well as in objects outside, is the principal motive of the meditational practice. This, as I have been mentioning to you earlier, has also a philosophical background—namely, the aim of the realisation of a cosmic purpose, which is a universal realisation, called God-realisation in religion and sometimes known as Self-realisation, the attainment of deathlessness or the reaching of infinity and eternity. These are some of the words that are used to explain what that could be which you are aiming at finally through spiritual meditation.
But, your heart has to be there. The meditator is the heart, principally; it is not merely the thoughts. If your feeling, which is a principal function of your heart, is absent during the so-called mental operation of meditation, you have to realise that you are there where your heart is. You are not where your intellect is; this is a wrong notion. Let the intellect be anywhere, even in the atomic structure of the solar orb in the sky; but where is your heart? It may be in your kitchen, in your bank balance, in your family, or in something well known to everybody. But, where is the heart during the time of meditation?
This is a very principal issue which has to be taken into consideration, the clarifying of which is the purpose of the yamas and the niyamas in the sutras of Patanjali or the yoga shastras in general. The heart will have its own reason, which your reason cannot understand. Rationally, everything is established and scientifically proven, and no one can gainsay this truth; but the heart says, “Yes, but I have something to tell.” Let what it is be told. Why are you hiding it? It will say finally, “This is not for me, and I wish that this should be there.” Why does this happen? Because your philosophical clarification has been entirely intellectual—bookish, rather—and it has not been a matter of your feelings. Your feelings have not been convinced, though the intellect has been very well established philosophically. “Why all this effort, finally?” is the question your heart will raise once again. “What for is all this effort? Going to institutions, studying philosophy, rolling beads, reciting mantras—what for? What am I aiming at, finally? Is there nothing better in this world? Is it not possible for me to be more comfortable in this world without doing these things? Are there not other ways?” Your mind will say, “There are, of course, other ways, and I can be very well off by taking an altogether different course than this.”
You will not have these difficulties now because you have been told again and again that this is good for you, and the voice in your heart has been silenced. Because of the pressure of the teaching and the repeated instruction that is being given to you on the worthwhileness of a higher pursuit in life, the little demoniacal voice of the heart, the sensory argument, has been hushed. It will not raise its head as long as you are within the campus of a spiritual institution or in an atmosphere of this nature.
But for how long will you be in this atmosphere? You will be in your office, you will be a clerk, you will be an officer, you will be a typist, you will be a family man, you will be a land holder, your will be a moneylender. Certainly, you will be all this. At that time, what will you think? Will these instructions that I gave you come up for your succour? To obviate these difficulties, it has been told again and again that a little checkup of personality is to be attempted every day, and your daily routine of work and occupation should be integral and also include a little time for consideration of the higher values of life. They are not merely higher; they are the true values of life. That they are the only true values of life, and not merely higher values, is a matter which will take you immense time to accept.
Coming to the point—to brass tacks, as they say—when you sit for meditation, you may have to prepare your personality for the task of bombarding the object of meditation for releasing the energy thereof. The preparation is of various kinds, according to the kind of initiation that you have received, the type of instruction to which you are accustomed, the books that you have read, your religion, your faith, your affiliations, etc.
I would suggest, among many other things that are of course quite good, a calm and quiet recitation of Om mantra, as it is called. The word ‘mantra’ may make you think that this is some religious exercise. A mantra may be connected with religion, but this thing which is called Om or Pranava is a super-religious symbol. It does not belong to any particular religion. It is a vibration that you are attempting to produce within yourself, a vibration that is of a more general nature than the intensely selfish vibration that is usually within us. We have the vibrations of attraction and repulsion which are imbedded within us, in our psyche. Though we are not always attracted or repulsed in our nature, there is a propensity within us to attraction and repulsion. A person who is susceptible to anger can be regarded as an angry person, though the anger is not manifest. A person may not be stealing, but if he is capable of doing that, he is a thief. Your capacity to be something is what you are, though you may not be manifesting it at a particular time.
The usual propensity of the individual personality is to confine its vibration to its psychophysical individuality, and not permit the entry of any other vibration. For this purpose it is that a symbolic act of introducing a larger vibration into our own selves is attempted through the recitation of Om. The recitation should be very harmonious, calm, quiet, leisurely, without hurry, without expectation, without any kind of excitement in the mind. Can any one of you chant Om? Chant Om for about fifteen minutes continuously, and let one recitation gradually taper off into the next one, so that these fifteen minutes of recitation of Pranava, of Om, will look like a mass of vibration inundating you, flooding you, arising from you, spreading around you, and becoming larger and larger in its ambit as the chant goes on successively, one after the other.
If a little pebble is thrown into the middle of a large mass of water—a tank or a reservoir—a little ripple is created around that spot where the pebble landed. Then the circle goes on expanding little by little, until it reaches the end of the mass of water. Some such thing takes place or will take place when Pranava is chanted, Om is chanted. The vibration that you generate within yourself is like a little ripple, and its circumference slowly enlarges. Let it expand as far as possible. Try to feel that this mass of energy, which you yourself are—this concentrated knot of force which you are—is gradually being released. The knot is untied. This little attempt on your part to concentrate on your own self by means of this chant of Om becomes a medium of the expansion of this energy into the other centres of a similar nature, so that by your feeling you begin to touch inwardly what is outside you. You yourself become bigger, in one sense.
Now you are very small. You are inside this body; you are just this body. This knot feels that it is only this knot and it is nothing more. “I am just this person, and I am not anything else. When I go, when I walk, I feel this little thing is walking. When I do anything, I feel this little thing is doing something. I am just a little thing.” This feeling of this little personality remains for twenty-four hours a day, and there is no other thought. But actually, it is not a little thing. It is a surface appearance of a larger force, which is hidden inside this little finitude of individuality which is this so-called me.
Therefore, chanting Om in this manner is also a kind of concentration—intense concentration. It is japa and meditation combined. If it is continued for a sufficiently lengthened period of time, it will have a tremendous effect. Even if you do not think anything in the mind, if this recitation goes on continuously, in a sonorous manner, and gradually increases from fifteen minutes to thirty minutes, you will see a difference in yourself. You will feel that your emotions are calmed, your nerves are cooled down, and agitation ceases. You will even feel healthier, better. You will become a different person, as it were, because this chant has effected a kind of psychic acupuncture on you. The knots have been pricked and have been made to release the energy which was otherwise locked up in that particular centre. All ill health, all sorrow, all tension, all agitation is due to the concentration of consciousness on this knot and not permitting the entry of healthier sources of energy that are pervading everywhere. These sense organs are like closed windows that completely block the entry of forces from outside, from nature and creation. Sunlight and fresh air cannot enter the room because you have closed the windows. You are living in a dark little closet and imagining that it is your entire world.
Thus, one method, among many others, is the recitation of Om. And, to repeat, this should be made part of your daily routine. You are all very busy people, no doubt, but let this also be a necessary item in your daily routine. Because of your heavy work in the office, etc., you may sometimes find no time at all. Actually, the length of time is not as important as your feeling inside, the quality of the chant and the intensity of your concentration.
When a person is drowning, there is an intense concentration of thought on something, though it is not a long period of thinking at that time. Because you are drowning, it is an instantaneous thinking of a tremendous concentrated form. When everything has gone and one’s life is at stake, the earth is shaking, a thought arises in the mind. That is an example of intense concentration. When you have lost everything or you have got everything, there is a concentration of the mind.
The tremendous result that is expected to follow should be considered as sufficient reason for the development of the concentration. You are sure that you are not merely going to pass the exam; you are going to stand first in the exam. There are some students who are sure that they will stand first because everything is at their fingertips; they can answer any question. But if you are dubious, and certain things are not clear, you do not know where you stand. Are you clear that you are going to get something, that you are going to achieve it? You must be sure that you will have it in this birth itself. It is not merely a statement; it is an intense possibility. Your feeling is the determining factor of the progress that you make in your meditation. Feelings rule the world; everything else comes afterwards. You can achieve anything by appealing to feelings. One of the sutras of the great Sage Patanjali is tivra samveganam asannah: Quick is the result for those whose heart is ardent in its aspiration. Ardent longing, impossibility to be without it, craving for it, and sinking the mind into this one thought even in the midst of every other occupation—in whatever work you do, your heart knows that it is a means for an achievement that is transcendent.