Meditation: an introduction
Why do we meditate? We meditate precisely because we need something. And what is that something? That something is the conscious feeling of our oneness with the Supreme. This need must be spontaneous, genuine and soulful.
Let me start with the ABC's of meditation. The best way to meditate is to sit cross-legged on a small cushion or rug. The spine and the neck must be kept erect. If it is not possible for some of you to sit that way, then please try, if you are sitting on a chair, to sit with your entire back straight and erect.
If you want to meditate at home, please try to keep a sacred place, a corner of your room, absolutely pure and sanctified. And please wear clean and light clothes. In order to have the utmost purity, it is extremely helpful to bathe before meditation, but if you are unable to take a bath or shower before sitting down to meditate, you should at least wash your face and your feet. If possible, please burn incense at the time of your meditation, and place one flower, any flower, in front of you.
When you are meditating at home, if it is possible, please meditate all alone. This rule does not apply to husband and wife if they have the same spiritual Master; they can meditate together. Also close spiritual friends who understand each other thoroughly in their inner lives can meditate together. Otherwise it is not advisable to meditate with others. In our Centre, however, the disciples should and do meditate collectively, since collective meditation is of paramount importance also. But for individual daily meditation, I feel it is better if one meditates in one's own room, privately, even in secret.
It is helpful during your meditation to have in front of you a picture of the Christ or some other spiritually beloved figure whom you regard as your Master. Those who are my disciples will have a picture of me taken when I was in my own highest Consciousness. There I am absolutely One with my Inner Pilot. I tell my disciple, when they meditate on the picture, "Either you enter into me or allow me to enter into you. Then I shall meditate on your behalf."
Sometimes people ask me what they should do if they are restless and don't have a good meditation. If any of you find it difficult to meditate on a particular day, then do not try to force yourself. If you are my disciple, just look at my picture — at my eyes, or my forehead, or even at my nose. Just look. If you belong to someone else, or if you have no Guru, but you do have a picture of a peaceful scene to concentrate on, please concentrate on that and do not try to force yourself to meditate. Then, when you get up for your daily work, do not feel miserable that you could not meditate. If you feel that your Inner Being is displeased with you or if you are displeased with yourself, then you are making a great mistake. If you cannot meditate on a particular day, try to give the responsibility for this to me, if you are my disciple, or to the Supreme. If you feel sorry or despondent, the progress that you made yesterday or the day before will be nullified.
In order to meditate properly, purity is of utmost importance. How can we be pure? To try to control our senses and conquer our passions cannot bring us the purity we want and need. The hungry lion that lives in our senses and the hungry tiger that lives in our passions will not leave us by the mere repetition of the thought, "I shall control my senses and conquer my passions." This approach is of no avail.
What we must do is to fix our mind on God. To our utter amazement, our lion and tiger, now tamed, will leave us of their own accord when they see that we have become too poor to feed them. But, as a matter of face, we don't become poor in the least. On the contrary, we become infinitely stronger and richer, for God's Will energies our body, mind and heart. To fix our body, mind and heart on the Divine is the right approach. The closer we are to the Light, the further we are from the Darkness.
Purity does not come all at once. It takes time. We must dive deep and lose ourselves with implicit faith in contemplation on God. We need not go to purity. Purity will come to us. And purity does not come alone. It brings an everlasting joy with it. This divine joy is the sole purpose of our life. God reveals Himself fully and manifests Himself unreservedly only when we have this inner joy.
The world gives us desires. God gives us prayers. The world gives us bondage. God gives us freedom: freedom from limitation, freedom from ignorance.
We are the player. We can play either football or cricket. We have a free choice. Similarly, it is we who can choose to play with either purity or impurity. The player is the master of the game and not vice versa.
Let nothing perturb us. Let our body's impurity remind us of our heart's spontaneous purity. Let our outer finite thoughts remind us of our inner infinite Will. Let our mind's teeming imperfections remind us of our soul's limitless Perfection.
The present-day world is full of impurity. It seems that purity is a currency from another world. It is hard to obtain this purity, but once we get it, peace is ours, success is ours.
Let us face the world. Let us take life as it comes. Our Inner Pilot is constantly vigilant. The undercurrents of our inner and spiritual life will always flow on unnoticed, unobstructed, unafraid.
God may be unknown but He is not unknowable. Our prayers and meditation lead us to that unknown. Freedom we cry for. But strangely enough, we are not aware of the fact that we already have within us immense freedom. Look! Without any difficulty we can forget God. We can ignore Him and we can even deny Him. But God's Compassion says, "My children, no matter what you do or say, My Heart shall never abandon you. I want you. I need you."
The mother holds the hand of the child. But it is the child who has to walk, and he does so. Neither the one who is dragged nor the one who drags can be happy. Likewise God says, "My divine children, in your inner life, I give you inspiration. It is you who have to aspire with the purest heart to reach the Golden Beyond."