by Swami Krishnananda
The object of meditation is not just one among the many objects of the world; it is rather the 'only' object before us. Only when the object is considered as 'all-in-all', capable of bestowing upon us everything that we need, can it satisfy us fully. A partial truth is no reliable truth. A partial object is not a complete object; a one-fourth human being is not a human being. We do not want 'something' in the world; our basic longing is to have everything. Even if 25 percent of the things in the world are to become our possessions, the 75 percent which has gone out of our control will harass us and cause anguish in our mind: "Why should I not have the other 75 percent also?" If you are the king of the whole earth, you would like to conquer even the skies: "Why should the skies be there without my concern? I shall control even the stars." Such is desire.
The objective, therefore, is not some particular thing – it is everything. Since the chosen object in meditation, somehow, appears to be one among the many possibilities of a similar choice, the mind may hesitate to concentrate even on that object: "Why do you want me to think of this particular thing when I can have other things also which are equally good, perhaps more satisfying? Why should I drudge in an office with a given amount of salary when it is also possible for me to have a higher salary in another office?" The mind will force this question of why this so-called thing is your concern in meditation: "Is there nothing else in the world except this? What do you say?" asks the mind.
Here is the difficulty which is a psychological problem based on a philosophical profundity. It is not possible to concentrate on all things at once. We do not know how many things there are in this world. How will anyone mentally count these objects and bring them all together into a heap so that one may focus one's attention on them? Even if we are able to conceive the total of all the objects in the world, we would be omitting certain things unknowingly. It is impossible for one to be omniscient, and even the total of the world will exclude something which is outside the world.
Then what should be our attitude towards the object of meditation? How are we going to choose the object? There are two answers to this question. Philosophically, scientifically, rationally, anything is as good as anything else in the world. If one can visualise the object in the light of the discussions we had for the last two days, nothing would look unimportant, and nothing more important than the other. It is so because every part of the world is connected integrally to every other part forming a living whole. The little brick which goes to make your house is internally connected in an unknown manner with the stars in the heavens. Only an advanced investigation will be able to appreciate this truth of how a tinsel on earth can be regarded as having a relationship with a luminary in the heavens.
If all things cannot be conceived simultaneously in their internal relations, one can choose as the object what one likes best, loves most, what delights one's heart at the very sight of it. Now, what is it that can delight your heart? Here you will not be able to give an answer to your own self. You will be finding yourself in a position similar to the fox in Aesop's Fables which knew a hundred tricks to escape from the hounds of a hunter, but when the actual difficulty arose, it did not know which trick to choose as the best, and the hounds fell on it. Such a situation should not arise. Is there anything in your life which will delight your heart wholly, entirely, always? Someone may say: "My only child delights me – the only son which I have got after a lot of tapasya, prayer, and blessings from mahatmas. I think of it day in and day out, the little child with which God has blessed me. The sight of the child delights my heart. This is my heart's love." But can anyone love anything equally under every circumstance in life?
There are five kinds of love, which are described in detail in the Bhakti Shastras, scriptures on divine devotion. One kind of love is the love that a parent has for a child. The father or mother clings to the child, especially if the child is a single one, an only son. The parents go on brooding over the little child. Parental affection for children is one kind of love which can be seen everywhere in every family, so forcefully operating. Another kind of love is one's affection for one's parents. You love your father and mother in a manner different from the love you have for the child. Though both are loves, they are manifest in a different way. Your love for the parent is qualitatively and in texture different from your love for a child. Love for the parent involves affection together with respect and adoration, apart from what causes clinging to one's children.
There is a third kind of love which a friend has for the friend. Chums, alter-egos, always sitting together, dining together, speaking, working, going for a walk together, cannot separate themselves. They are thick doubles in every sense of the word. The friend has an inseparable love for the other as friend: the two are equals. The love that one has for one's own equal distinguishes itself from other forms of affection in a marked way. There is a fourth kind of love which a servant has for his master. There are obedient, very reliable servants, even in this world of corruption, who love their master till his death. I have seen one such servant of a judiciary in a high court. Even till the death of that judge years after retirement, that servant was with him, serving him in the same way as earlier. It was not the judge he was loving, he loved the person: "He might have been a judge; now he is a retired somebody. It does not matter. I love him. He is my master, teacher, protector, superior. I love him." The love that one has for one's superior, call him your master or guru, is a love which differs from the other types mentioned before.
There is, then, another kind of love which a wife has for the husband and the husband has for the wife. This phenomenon is considered as the apex of all loves. This love is totally different in characteristic, intensity and significance from all the other types of love in a variety of ways.
These are the five bhavas or feelings of emotional ardour towards an object, to which we feel attached strongly. The loves cannot leave us until our skin itself goes and the bone breaks. Even if we are to think of the Almighty Lord Himself as our great object of devotion and love, we will not be able to think of Him in any other manner than in terms of one of these emotions, these feelings.
For the last two days we have been analysing the circumstances of life, both subjectively in the case of ourselves, and objectively in the case of the world, through the faculty of understanding. We exercised concentration of reason in trying to find out where we are actually placed in this world. But there is another faculty in us which is the feeling. Sometimes the feeling can overpower the understanding and speak in a language totally different from the language of logic which the understanding employs. Though the understanding tells you that you are of this kind and the world is of that kind and you are not as you are appearing to be on the surface, the world is also quite different from what it appears to be, the feeling will say that things are exactly as it sees them. One can tell a father or a mother that their child is not really their child: It has taken many births; it had many parents and it is passing through many incarnations; they are a caretaker of this child for the time being only and should not be attached to it as if they are the possessor of it; it had many parents in the past and it will have many parents in the future also, so this is not their child. If you say so, the reason of the parent may understand what you say, but the feeling will say, "It is my child only. Do not talk to me in any other style. Whatever you may say through your rationality and your scientific outlook, I do understand well; nevertheless, my feeling says it is my child, I love it as mine own."
Whose is this land? Whose is this house? Are you going to live in this house for all time to come? Tomorrow you may pass away. Why do you cling to this building, land and property as if you are going to be there using it for all time? Tomorrow you may quit this world. "Yes, I understand, but my feeling says it is my house; I shall not leave it. This is my property, I shall enjoy it."
The feeling does not always agree with the understanding. There is a clash in our personality between understanding and feeling, reason and emotion. When we gird up our loins very sincerely and honestly for the purpose of resorting to spiritual meditation, we should see that this conflict between understanding and feeling is not there. We must develop an integrated outlook of things. The object of meditation should satisfy us emotionally through our feeling on the one hand, and on the other hand it should also be known carefully as to what it is made of structurally, threadbare.
When you resort to the object of meditation, you must also know what it is that you are thinking of. Sometimes a sense object may delight you very much and you may say that it is the best object and you would meditate on it. You may ask me, "What is the harm in meditating on a sense object, as you have already told us that the object should satisfy us and I think that my particular object of this particular sense is satisfying me. What is the difficulty? I shall concentrate my mind wholly on this object which satisfies my sense organs."
Yes; in one way you are right. Take to that particular type of concentration because it satisfies you. But I did not say that the quality of the object of meditation is merely one of satisfying. It should also be the 'only' object you can think of and there is nothing else. Here is a condition which you will not be able to fulfil easily.
Can a person love any object forever, throughout one's life? "I have taken this as my object of affection. Will I go on clinging to it until my death without changing my concentration on that?" No one can make a promise in this manner. For some reason or other, one day you will get disgusted with this so-called affectionate object. Everyone knows what the reason is for such an eventuality. The son can abandon the father; the father can abandon the son. The husband can reject the wife. Anything is possible. Under conditions only do you love things; unconditionally you cannot love anything.
Sensory pleasure is conditioned by various factors but the object of meditation should satisfy you unconditionally, not with an 'if so', 'but', and 'whereas'. Such clauses should not be introduced when you take to concentration on the object of meditation as a wholesome lifelong security and delight. The object of meditation is not only entirely satisfying to the feeling and emotions, but it is also not one which can cause a shifting of your attention to something else. The chosen object is everything, for ever and ever.
Both these conditions are difficult to fulfil. Your dearest friend cannot be your dearest friend for all times. You cannot give a guarantee that you shall be with him always. No relationship is permanent in this world, not even the closest relationship of husband and wife. There are no permanent relations anywhere. Things can separate themselves for any reason. If that is the case, which sense object can you choose for the purpose of meditation? There is a danger in choosing a sense object as the ideal for meditation because it will compel you to shift your attention to something else afterwards when you get fed up with it due to excessive intimacy, overindulgence and the non-utility of the object after a while. We cannot even eat the same type of meal every day. We would like a variety even in our food. What if every day one eats the same food? One will want a little change. We would like to have another object. People go for different things, because no object can be a 'total' object. But it is necessary for every seeker of truth and student of Yoga to convince himself that the object of meditation is a 'total' object, not just 'one of the objects' in the world. Otherwise, the mind will jump from one thing to another thing. Why should it not, because it knows that there are other things also?
How is it possible to regard one object as all things? Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita's eighteenth chapter mentions that there are three kinds of appreciation, three kinds of knowledge or understanding. That perception which makes one cling to one finite thing only as if it is the sole object of love is the worst kind of appreciation. It is the least knowledge that one can have of anything. But there is a higher kind of understanding where one is able to appreciate the relationship of one thing with another thing, organically. It is not that I am sorry only if my child is sick; I will have a concern also if my neighbour's child is ill. I would not like anybody to suffer. It is not that my people alone should not suffer; nobody should suffer, since all are equally human. There is a concatenation of things. Humanity is one mass of concentration. Our concern is not only for our little family, not even for our little state or our nation. The whole mankind is one family. We are members of the family of all of humanity, the world itself. This is so because everything is connected to everything else in the creational process of God, in the same way as every limb of the body is connected to every other limb of the body.