Preparation for Meditation
by Swami Krishnananda

People think that any kind of social welfare work—building bridges and digging roads and planting trees—are all karma yoga. Nothing of the kind—they are all charitable works. They have great value, virtue. You may even go to the heaven of Indra due to this great sacrifice you have made for the welfare of the public. But you have done this wonderful work of philanthropy in a field which is not your property, and you have already stood behind the action as a doer thereof. The action did not emanate from your existence. It emanated by the force generated by your hands and feet.

It is difficult to understand how you can be present in an action. I can only explain this by an analogy. The waves of the ocean dash with great velocity, one over the other. You can call it an action of the ocean. But the waves are the ocean. The waves are not moving in another, outside field, external to the ocean. The whole activity of the waves and ripples, etc. is within the very existence of the ocean itself. So existence is action—which is something difficult to hear and understand. Can existence itself be action? The sun is shining. You cannot say the sun is inactive. But the sun does not work with hands and feet, with limbs, instruments, spade and shovel and all that. The very existence of the sun is the greatest activity taking place in the world. Such tremendous activity is taking place in the very body of the sun that the earth cannot live without that activity. We will simply shiver and perish if the sun is not active. We simply glibly say, “What is there! The sun is shining.” It is not merely that the sun shines. He is entering into the very fiber of creation as the very soul thereof. The Veda says, “Surya atma jagatas tasthushascha.” Surya Bhagavan is not standing high above, 93 million miles away. He is the soul of the entire creation. The presence of the sun can be felt by even the tiniest atom, though you may wrongly imagine that there is a distance between the two. There is no such distance.

If your extended self in its larger dimension can become the field of activity, it is karma yoga. What does it mean? You are now five and a half feet tall, six feet tall, two and a half feet wide; this is your dimension. Now, can you widen your consciousness to the area of your performance? If you are working in a whole district or a whole state or an entire country, let your consciousness spread itself like the waters of the flood or the surging of the ocean entering into the body of the earth. Feel that you are melting yourself and flooding the whole ground, and on that ground on which your consciousness is shining as the pure existence, is the field of action. And, who is doing the action? That itself is doing the action—that consciousness—because the field of action itself has become consciousness. You yourself are moving within yourself.

The mind cannot understand these things, as our sense organs are empirically bound and we have a hard core of personality which does not want to even hear these things. It says, “You close your mouth. Don’t talk. You are doing very good work.” However, this was the main theme of my first session. Anything that you do, can liberate you. No action can bind you. Otherwise, why do you call it karma yoga? It liberates you because you yourself are moving within yourself.

Then I mentioned to you certain psychological aspects of yoga—the general perceptions and the abnormal perceptions—how we come to know that there are things outside by an externalisation of consciousness from the sense organs and how we get emotionally stirred up and then find ourselves bound in a mysterious way, the meaning of which we cannot understand. Now I won’t go further along these lines because I am coming here for one day a week. I want to go directly to the subject which is going to free you from turmoil—namely, the direct action of meditation.

All success in life, whatever it be, is a result of the concentration of consciousness. To repeat what I said, if activity is outside consciousness, it cannot yield any fruit. People cry, “So much I have done. No one is grateful to me. I quit this world without even a ‘thanks’ from people.” Why should they thank you when you have not done anything? You have only moved your fingers and spread the instruments of action outside, and you stood apart from what you did. Therefore, a person who stands apart from what they have done cannot reap the benefits of that action.

Meditation is also an activity of consciousness. You may think that meditation means intensely being conscious of some object. By ‘object’ you mean something that is standing in front of you, looking outside you, standing or sitting, etc. You cannot be benefitted by anything that is standing outside you. It is like a lot of money that is in the Reserve Bank of India. It is there, but what does it matter to you? You are not going to get anything out of it. Even if you are the Governor of the Reserve Bank, you cannot touch that money. You are sitting on it, but it is not yours.

Likewise is this great object of meditation. It will enamor you, enchant you, “So much treasure is there in front of me.” But that treasure will elude your grasp because it is not under your control. You cannot control anything in this world, because it exists in its own capacity, as you exist. You are existing as an individual; the object is also existing as an individual. How can it become a part of yourself? Can you become a part of myself, or myself become a part of yourself? We are independent totally, and I can go this way and you can go that way. The object will say that. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, in a great passage of Sage Yagnavalkya, says “Sarvam tam paradat yah anyatra atmanah sarvam veda.” Everything will run away from you if you consider that thing as totally outside you. Objects fear you because they feel you are going to convert them into servants for your personal satisfaction. You want to make the object a slave so that you may possess it and eat it. No servant will tolerate this attitude of a boss. Even a servant in your kitchen would not like to be called a satellite. He is an independent person and he has his own soul. He has his own izzat (self-respect) and prestige. If you touch the prestige of even a servant, he will revolt against you.

Now, every object has an izzat. It cannot become your property. It is a means, according to your idea about it. You want to utilize the object for some purpose which is external to the object. There cannot be a worse attitude that you can develop towards anything. Can I use you as an instrument for some purpose which is mine and then simply ignore you afterwards? No! The object has eyes to see. Every particle of the universe has eyes everywhere. All eyes—everywhere eyes! They can see what you are thinking. Philosophers tell us there is something called prehension, apart from apprehension. Even a snake can know what you are thinking about it. You may think that it is a stupid thing. No. Even a tree can know what you are thinking about it. Suppose you say that tomorrow you will cut the tree. It will know you have thought thus. It will vibrate when you go near it. Jagadish Chandra Bose has done great research in the field of plants and discovered there is life even in a leaf, and they understand as anybody understands—better than a human being understands. Even a dog and a cat have better sense sometimes than a human being, because they have less egoism. Human beings have greater egoism.

So, the utilitarian attitude that we are developing towards the object of meditation will be resented by it; it will escape your notice, and nothing will come to you. What will come to you? Yourself will come to you. You will take yourself when you go. That so-called thing which you regarded as an object, if it can become part of your own self, then it will come with you. Everything is finally considered as an end in itself; nothing is a means in this world. As I mentioned to you, everything is subsistent and existent. It is Pure Being. Therefore, being as such cannot become an instrument of some other being. There cannot be two beings. Being is one only. If you want to abolish the distance between yourself and another thing, the being in you has to merge in the being that is inside, potentially, in the so-called externalized object. It is the name and the formation of the object which distinguishes itself from the name and the formation of your personality. One wave is different from another wave in the ocean. You can count them. But at the root, there is the existence of all the waves which controls the movement of everything. The existence is common to all the waves.

So there is existence pervading, fundamentally, behind every subject and every object, so that we may say basically the distinction between subject and object is redundant and unwarranted. This is why you like to have a thing, and yet you cannot have it. The wanting a thing is due to the basic connection that exists between the two existences. Therefore, frantically you run after something: “I want it.” But you cannot get it because of the separation of the name and form of the object from your name and form. So, all desires become frustrations in this world. Provided you are able to know that what you are expecting from the object is its existence, not the name and form, then it will melt into the very form of itself and enter into you.

When you meditate on the object—actually, you should not use the word ‘object’; it is a misnomer. It is an ideal before you. When you contemplate an ideal which you wrongly call an object of meditation, you have to see that it is not standing outside you. That which has been absorbed into yourself can give you strength, like the diet or food that you eat. The diet has to get absorbed into the very bloodstream of your personality; then you feel energy. Suppose the food goes out as it went in. It will not help you, and it will not give you any strength.

To mention to you, I may say that you have not only to think that ideal, you have to actually bathe yourself in that ideal. The whole object—ideal—that is before you as your concentration point, should get liquefied, as it were, and pour itself on you. Patanjali, in one of his sutras, uses the word ‘dharma-megha’, the raincloud of righteousness or virtue. At one point the raincloud will shower on you the waters of nectar of which the object, so-called, is constituted. If the objects were not made of nectar, you would not love them. And, where is the nectar? It is the very honey which constitutes the very form of that object, just as you love your own self because you are the honey or the self inside you. Why do you love your own self as the best of all things? There is nobody like you; you think you are the best of things. You must survive under any circumstance. Why? Because the most beloved thing is inside you. That most beloved is over there also. So let that beloved become one with this beloved. Not as two partners, but nectarine communion of two tanks of water, as it were, where you do not know which flows into another one. This analogy is also given in Patanjali. Meditation is the flow of consciousness towards the object and the reverse process of the flow of the consciousness of the object into you, like the movement of water of two tanks on an equal level. They will move this way, that way. You will not know which is moving in what direction. Then you will not know whether the object is meditating on you or you are meditating upon it.  It wants you as much as you want it. Why is it so? Because, it is also a self, like you. You have forgotten that it has a root of potential selfhood, and you have wrongly considered it as a utilitarian instrument. Nothing of the kind. Just as you would not like to be used as an instrument of somebody, the object will not like it. It will resent your grasp. It will run away. Nobody can get anything in this world—money, name, property, land, whatever it is—everything will be a bereavement because you consider it as something outside. We go like beggars, as we came. Poor we are as we are born, poor we will be when we go ; and rich we appear in the middle. No, this should not be the case. Rich you are as you come, rich as you go, and rich you be—rich with the potentiality of perfection.

So, you must be very clear about what you want when you are starting meditation. You want utter infinitude of perfection, this is what you want. The endless, infinite expanse is what you are wanting. You are struggling inside with the so-called finitude of your existence. “How poor I am, a little being, unwanted by people. There are so many others. Am I one of them? What is the use of this existence?” There is a desire inside to control everybody else and make them your own, so that wrongly you imagine that by exercising authority on others, they become you. No. They cannot become you. They will only socially cooperate with you, but they can socially separate themselves from you also.

The necessity to understand the connection between yourself and what you want is very important. Finite things cannot satisfy you. A little blessing is not sufficient. You want large blessing, endless blessing, unending blessing. Even if you have the whole earth under your control, you will want the skies and the stars. What is the good of this little earth? Perishable is this world; perishable is this body. All this possession, all that you have or thought you obtained, will go one day. You want imperishability, not merely infinitude. Infinitude is the negation of spatial distance, and perpetual existence is the negation of the time process which limits everybody to some period of time. Nobody wants to live merely for a period of time. It must be long. “Why should I perish? I want to continue. But continue not like a little worm, but like an expanded being.” So you want to continue endlessly, defying the controlling power of the time process, but at the same time you do not want to continue like a little creeper located only in one place, but like an expanded being. Infinitude and eternity collapse together in the aspiration for the Almighty God, the Supreme Being. That which you call the Absolute, Brahman, Consciousness—whatever it is—is the blend of eternity and infinity. Spaceless infinitude and timeless persistence, this is God’s nature. This is what you are asking for.

These little things on which you are meditating or concentrating upon in meditation are representations of this infinitude. Every finite is a potential infinite because the whole ocean is behind every wave, as I mentioned to you. Let there be millions and millions of little ripples, but the infinite ocean is at the back. So is the case… You can concentrate on anything in this world. You can concentrate on any wave; it is equal to concentrating on the whole ocean itself. If you have touched the waters on the shore of Bombay, you have touched the waters on the shore of New York at the same time. They are not different. They are one body only. Likewise, if you touch the body of a particular object, you have touched the whole cosmos, just as when you touch a little toe of your body you have touched the whole body. The entire body will know that you have touched a little finger or a toe. The whole universe is one big body, an organism, a living being by itself, in which you are also included. So it is all vibration of life everywhere taking place. Dead matter never exists. So you are not thinking that you are meditating on an idol, a murti, a photograph, a diagram; don’t think like that. They are all geometrical patterns—name-form complexes—of a basic, ubiquitous, perpetual vibration of the center of the cosmos. Even the littlest of things is the body of that Universal Being. There is a science called Rasayana-sastra where they convert matter into a powerful potential remedy by rubbing it, pounding it, making it fine, fine, fine. The idea is, the cosmic dust that was prior to the Big Bang is present even now in the little sand particles on the banks of rivers.

Oh, it is a great wonder to hear all these things! The whole world is made up of that so-called cosmic dust. Actually, it is not dust. We have no word to explain, so the scientists call it dust. It is a vibratory quantum of center which they say, expanded itself  in a most mysterious way into the space-time world that we see. But who expanded itself? That which existed prior to this so-called creative action of the Big Bang—I am mentioning in modern language—that exists even after that, so that even here it is. That which was prior to the occurrence of the Big Bang is here under your nose, and your nose is made up of that. So, you are made of cosmic stuff. “Oh wonder! I am made of cosmic stuff. I thought that I am a little baby of this mother and that father. Nothing of the kind. All these mothers and fathers are all made of the same cosmic dust.” If you pound yourself, you will find that center coming out. And the modern discovery is fantastic. Even now we are in the same place where we were prior to the Big Bang. “Oh, what is this!” you will tell me. “Millions and millions of light years of life has passed away and you are saying even now we are in the same place where we were earlier!” Because, there is no distance for this cosmic action. Can you imagine that you are transported to that place? The distance-less operation defies your feeling of a long, long passage of time that has elapsed after that activity until now.

Remember what I said. Even just now you are living in the very same point where you were before this Big Bang took place. This is the eternity that is parading in you; and this is also the infinity that is pervading. The whole thing is inside. Everything is everywhere. What a wonder! You are a wonderful person. Don’t think you are a foolish individual, niggard and unwanted—nothing of the kind. The whole universe wants you because it is inside you and the whole universal ocean of potential existence prior to this creation of the universe is throbbing in your heart, through every cell of yours, through your bloodstream and every vein. Why do you think you are a little body? This ignorance—avidya, as it is called—must be removed. Assert yourself. “The whole potential of what I want to achieve is here. It is just now and it is here. It is here and now—not tomorrow and not somewhere else.” If this conviction is in you, the object that you are thinking of in your meditation will melt into liquid and melt into your bosom. Oh, you will be inundated! “What I want has not only come near me, it has become me. It has entered into my pores.” You dance in ecstasy. Mystics dance in ecstasy because the whole thing is inside them. They are not crazy people. What they wanted, as if it is external, has melted down into the liquid of nectar of self-possession. They cannot contain this. All the saints and mystics, such as Mirabhai, Tukaram, started dancing. Do you think they were crazy people? Nothing of the kind. The whole cosmos was vibrating inside them. Who can contain it? Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to say, “You know the example of when the Absolute enters you? What happens? It is like a mad elephant entering a little thatched hut.” The thatched hut will be broken into pieces. It won’t exist afterwards. When the Absolute enters you, you don’t know what happens. That is why you are dancing in ecstasy at that time.

So is the case with everyone who is able to imbibe within themselves the potential cosmic stuff appearing as a little, tiny object, a kind of murthi, a lingam, a pattern, something that you are worshipping in your temple, in your puja room. No, they are not in the puja room, they are not in the temple; they are everywhere. The everywhereness of the object is the only cue for you to attain success in your meditation. But you have doubts: “No….” There is no opponent in this world except doubt. The conviction, “Ask and it shall be given,” is the great saint’s saying. Ask and it shall be given. But your soul must ask, not your tongue and lip. When that which is everywhere is speaking inside you—“I want”—then that which is everywhere must come to you. And now it must come, not tomorrow. God does not take time to come to you. Big officials take time to come to you because they say, “Come tomorrow or the day after.” There is no tomorrow; it is immediate—just now; eternal action. That is the capacity of even a little object of meditation which you think is a tiny thing. “What is there? So many years I am meditating. Nothing comes out (of it).” How can something come out when you are basically cutting the ground under your feet by imagining that it is a utilitarian object and it has no connection with you, it is only an instrument. There are no instruments in this world. All are wonderful. Ascaryavat pasyati kascit enam, ascaryavad vadati tathaiva canyah. Ascarayam: the Upanishads and the Bhagavadgita calls this an ascarayam, a wonder. You cannot call it by any other name. This object is a wonder, you are a wonder, and the way that you want it is also a wonder, one who can tell you this is a wonder, and the person who can receive it is a wonder. Everything is a wonder! All is a wonder! The whole world is a wonder of the beauty of God! You say the world is also made up of thorns—mosquitoes and snakes. Don’t say that. These are all something else masquerading in that form. The devil becomes the angel in one second if it wants, provided the externality, which is the only devil, is abolished and it is melted down into universality.

This is a little foundational preparation of your mind that is necessary before you sit for meditation. You will find that in the very beginning itself you feel happy. Happiness is the touchstone of success in meditation. If you say you are aching here and there, that it is boring and go on looking at the watch to see how much time has passed, “It is half an hour, one hour, let the meditation go; let me go for a walk,” this will not work.

That which you want is just here in your hand, if this conviction is there. It is conviction—mumukshutva as they call it—that is what is going to become the success. If you want a thing, it must come. The whole thing is that. All the qualifications are secondary. There is only one qualification: you want it. “I want it and a hundred percent I want it, and it must come.” Why should it not come? If you assert it, the whole world has to arrange itself, align itself in such a way that it must come at your feet. In the Chhandogya Upanishad, in the Eighth Chapter, there are beautiful passages. When the soul attains this expanded mood, whatever you think (desire) appears there, whatever it is. The past, present and future will melt into the present and come to you. You should not say, “This is not possible for me. I am a poor man.” No. You are not a poor man; you are a very valuable person. You are the child of immortality. Amrutasya putra, says the Upanishad. You are the son of the eternal nectar—amrutasya putra. This is what the Upanishad calls you. It does not call you the poor son of a poor father. No. The eternal father is represented in your eternal form, in the object of meditation, in the very process of your action. Even by hearing this you must be immensely happy.

Certain steps have to be taken. You must have some time to sit. When you are about to sit for meditation, other engagements must be set aside. Suppose you say, “I have to catch a train after half an hour”—then you should not do meditation at that time. Okay, you go, finish your work, and then do it. “Till tomorrow I have no work.” Then the mind will say, “Okay, let me sit.” “At least for another six hours I have no work.” “Okay, alright,” it will agree. But if immediately you have an assignment, then you should not sit for meditation. Your health is okay and you have no ache in the body, you are satisfied for the time being, you have taken your bath, you feel fresh, the sun is rising in the east, you are facing it seated in a fixed posture, you are taking a deep breath and the energy of the sun through the air that pervades, is entering into your nostrils. You breathe, expanding your chest, your lungs get expanded and fresh air enters into you. Do a little bit of breathing. I am not telling you to do any kind of complicated pranayama; a little deep inhalation, with an expanded body. Throw your arms wide. Hold the breath for a second. Do it 25 to 30 times. Energy will enter into you. Then close your eyes and do this technique that I have just now explained to you and see how long you can go on thinking like this. After a few minutes if you that find it is tiring—the mind is not catching—stop the meditation. Inhale and exhale, then again start the same meditation. After ten or fifteen minutes if you are again tired, get up, walk around, then again sit for meditation. If you feel drowsy go inside the bathroom and splash your face with cold water and then you will be refreshed. Sit again.

Go on persisting, persisting, persisting, persisting—like the story of Robert Bruce. He was a Scottish soldier who was defeated so many times in war. He was disappointed. He was sitting under a tree, thinking: “What is the good of all this battle? Every time I am defeated.” You may have heard the poem about ‘Robert the Bruce’. He was disappointed and he saw a spider trying to climb up. It went up a little and fell down. It went up and again fell down. So many times it tried—a little, little—and again it fell down. Finally it touched the point (it was trying to reach). “Oh, this is a lesson for me,” he said. “I have failed as many times as this spider has failed.” He got up with great conviction—“I shall win”—and he won victory. Thus the mind has to be drawn little by little, little by little, like the work done by the intelligent wife of the husband who was in the Tower of London, or some tower. He was imprisoned in a tower and she wanted him to be released but the authorities would not release him; they might even execute him. So, he was far above looking down at her, and she was looking up at him. What to do? She thought: “What to do, what to do.” Very intelligent lady she was. She thought of some method. What she did was, she caught hold of a beetle that was crawling. It had two tentacles. She smeared honey on the end of these tentacles, and it started moving because of the smell of honey. It wanted to lick it but could not because the tentacles were projected outside. So it was moving further, further, further. To the tail of that little beetle she tied a very fine silken thread, the weight of which the beetle could not feel. She let it loose on the wall of the tower. It was going up, little by little, because it wanted the honey. It kept going up, and reached the top. She told her husband to catch hold of that silken thread. Then she tied a thin white thread, the kind that is used in offices, and he pulled it up. Then (to this thread) she tied a little cord, and then (next) a rope. “Get down,” she said, and he simple came down from there. He succeeded. This is an interesting thing—how intelligent this lady was to bring that man down.

Such a terrible thing is this mind. It will not listen to you whatever you do. “All right, I have heard everything, but…” it will say. This “but” comes in the middle. “I have got so many problems. I have got family, mother is sick, etc.” So many complaints will come. Let them be there but you are going to get everything that you want; and don’t you have the satisfaction that you are going to get what you want? Success is bound to come because the whole of creation is a success of God’s activity. Failure does not exist anywhere. Everything is beautiful. Always see beauty everywhere. Everywhere is beauty, everywhere is perfection, and everywhere grandeur; everywhere the face of God is shining. Sarvatah pani-padam tat sarvato’ksi-siro-mukham sarvatah shrutimal loke sarvam avrtya tishthati. What does the Bhagavadgita say? Sarvatah pani-padam tat. Where is God? How far? Brahmaloka, beyond? No. Sarvatah pani-padam. Everywhere the feet and the arms of God are spread out. Wherever you touch, you will find the finger of God, or the arm of God, or the feet of God. Sarvato’ksi-siro-mukham—everywhere eyes. You are seeing brick walls. No; they are the eyes of God, and heads of God—sahasra shirsa purushah says the Purusha Sukta. Thousands and thousands of heads. Your heads are part of the Universal, of that Purusha. Your head is not somewhere else. These little things like trees and mountains and rivers and what you are—everything—are only heads of that Being. Only you are imagining that they are outside and you are here. This outside-ness is a curse and must be removed from consciousness.

So, feel confident, “What I want is just near at hand.” “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” the great Christ mentioned. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” Ananyas cintayanto mam ye janah paryupasate tesham nityabhiyuktanam yoga-ksemam vahamyaham. This is the scriptural counterpart of this “kingdom of heaven is within you”. How is it possible? The kingdom is so big and you are so little. How is it possible? Yes, it is possible with this conviction. Look at this promise of Bhagavan Sri Krishna as an infinite being saying, “Tune yourself with Me. It is My duty to take care of you.” Oh, wonderful, wonderful!

I will tell you another story. I will not bore you much. There was a poor Brahmin who believed in the value of this sloka. “Everything will be given by God. No problem, no problem, He has promised. When I think of Him, everything will come.” But he was so poor that his wife and children were starving. He used to go and beg for some rice. He went around, and one day he could get nothing. From morning to evening he roamed, but could not get anything. The next day the children were crying, the wife was cursing; they were all dying. “We are perishing today.” But he said, “Anyhow I have trust. The promise is there.” Two days he went about; then three days. He was drying up and he was also collapsing. “Dhut!,” he said. “This promise is faulty. So, God also tells lies.” In those days there was no paper. The scriptures were written on palm leaves; so the Gita was on a palm leaf. He took a nail and struck that sloka tore it. “This sloka is false. I am dying. Everybody is perishing here, and where is this promise?” He went away from there. The story goes that after sometime, in the evening, a young boy brought a huge bag of some commodity and threw it on the veranda of the house where the lady (this poor man’s wife) was inside. “Hey,” he said. “Your husband has sent so many rations here.” “Oh, so much! So many bags! Oh, wonderful! How did he get it?” But the tongue of that boy was bleeding, and blood was dripping. “What has happened to you?” “Your husband is a very angry fellow. Because I was a little late, he tore my tongue,” he said. “What sort of idiot my husband is!” said the lady. When the husband came back she said, “You have got no sense. You tore the tongue of that little boy with whom you sent the ration.”

“No, I have not sent anything. I don’t know anything. What are you talking about?”

“Here it is.”

“Oh,” he cried and wept. He could not control himself. “Oh God, what a sin I have committed by tearing your tongue.” This story is of this ananyas cintayanto mam ye janah paryupasate, tesham nityabhiyuktanam yoga-ksemam vahamy aham. “Ask and it shall be given.” Remember this statement of Christ, what the great master is telling. Do you think they are bluffing you? Ask from the bottom of your heart. The other Soul, the counterpart, will respond immediately. With this conviction, my dear boys, sit for meditation, and let meditation described in this sense, be your be-all and end-all and your ultimate blessings.