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Your Questions Answered
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 24: The Connection Between Body and Mind – The Ishtadevata

Visitor: What is the connection between body and mind?

Swamiji: In a large ocean, in cold countries, the upper part of the ocean becomes solid. It becomes ice. Do you understand what I am saying? The bottom is liquid and the upper part is solid. And, the solid suddenly does not emerge at one particular spot. There is a gradual solidification of the water becoming thicker and thicker, as it goes up, until it becomes very thick and hard on the top; and when you go down it becomes thinner and thinner, until it becomes very thin like water. Now, how do you reach this ice with the water underneath? What is the connection between the two? What is the connection between the ice on the top, and the water at the bottom? Is there a connection, or no connection?

Visitor: No connection.

Swamiji: There is no connection. So, I have answered your question, or you have answered your own question.

Swamiji: So don't talk much now. That is sufficient. Actually, the answer has to come from the questioner himself. The questioner has the answer within him, deeply hidden. Only, it has to be brought out by an analytic method. What do you say? The answer is inside you, and you are unnecessarily putting a question, not being able to bring out the point. The Guru is like a midwife. He brings out what is already there, not creating something new. So, I have brought out something, as a midwife. Anybody else wants to ask anything? Liquefied body is mind – that is all – to give you a brief answer. When body liquefies, it becomes mind; when the mind solidifies, it becomes body. There is no "connection," actually; it is one thing only, appearing as two things. Water and ice are one thing only; they are not two things.

You cannot concentrate on something with a desire for something else. Your mind is the same as your desire. As a cloth is made up of threads, and a cloth is not independent of the threads, the mind is made up of desires, and it is not independent of desires. So, how would you concentrate, except through the mind – which means to say, with your desires only? And, where are your desires? What are the things that you require?

If there is a chaos in the way of your assessment of desires, and if you are not very clear as to what it is that you really need in this world, the mind will not be prepared for meditation or concentration.

You will be able to concentrate your mind only on that which you desire. You cannot concentrate on anything which you do not desire. Or, to put it more plainly, you can concentrate your mind only on that for which you have deep affection from the bottom of your heart. You cannot concentrate on anything for which you have no affection. Some people say, "concentrate on the dot on a wall"; "do trataka"; "concentrate on the flame of a candle"; "concentrate on a rose flower, or a streak of light." All right; these are wonderful methods of concentration. But, is your heart there, really? Is your heart welling up with joy because it is thinking of a dot on the wall? Or, do you consider it as a kind of imposition inflicted upon you by a hard taskmaster? Is Yoga meditation a kind of unpleasant discipline that is imposed upon you by someone? Or, is it a joyful, spontaneous outpouring of your own feeling, because you want it?

These are certain aspects of the background of thought, which you have to keep in mind. How can you love or be affectionate towards a dot on the wall, as you know very well that it has no meaning? But somebody tells you that it is good to concentrate on it, and so you are doing some forced attempt of concentration on that particular thing, which is the dot.

In the Indian tradition, we conceive of or define the object of meditation as ishtadevata. It is a Sanskrit word which means "beloved object," or "beloved God." That which you love most is a god for you. When you love a thing immensely, one hundred percent, it becomes a deity for all practical purposes. It is a god. A god is one, beyond which there is nothing, outside which also there can be nothing. If a mother has one child after expecting it for years together, that child becomes a god for that mother – she is always thinking of it, hugging it, worshipping it as the most dear delight of the soul. Is anything there in this world which you consider as the dear delight of your soul? That is your ishtadevata, your beloved object of meditation.

Each one of you has to choose your beloved object for meditation. That which your mind cannot accept as beloved cannot become an object of attraction; therefore, it cannot become an object of concentration, also. Otherwise, you will go on thinking that you are meditating; for years together you will be humming something and thinking something. After even twenty years of concentration, you will find that you have received nothing, practically, because you have undergone a discipline, like a school-going activity imposed upon you, but your heart was elsewhere.

Our Swami told me that you speak on yama-niyama. Actually, yama-niyama is the analysis of your heart and your feelings. Where is your heart; where is your feeling? What is it that you are attracted to? Tell me, and I will tell you what kind of person you are. You need not tell others what kind of person you are, but you can tell it to yourself. You tell yourself: What kind of person am I? Will you consider yourself as a very important person, perfect person, all right in every way, beloved of the gods? Or, do you find that you are a puny nothing, a nobody in this world? Is it like that?

A seeker of God is the most suited student of Yoga meditation. One who loves God wholeheartedly can also practice concentration wholeheartedly. But he who loves paltry things in this world, the petty little tinsels which look attractive and beautiful and very worthwhile, but forgets what is really valuable in life – such a person cannot concentrate spiritually. A teacher, a guide, is absolutely unavoidable.

The ultimate object of love is that which will give you salvation of soul, that which will free you from mortality and death and make you immortal. That you should consider as the object of your meditation. Who can save you in this world, except that which is not of this world? This world is brittle like a glass. It will vanish like a wisp of wind one day or the other. There is something immortal, which is essential in this cosmos. They call it God Almighty, the Absolute, the Supreme Being. On That you have to concentrate. You can concentrate on the tip of the nose, the point between the eyebrows, or heart, or any part of the body. OK, you can go on with that, but finally, the mind has to be led to that Supreme Being, which alone can be called the ishtadevata, or the object of beloved affection. Nothing else can attract you. Nobody can love you more than how God loves you. And nobody you can love also, more than God. God loves you, and you love God. This is religion, and this is Yoga. And, if this is clear to your mind, the mind will concentrate. Otherwise, it will go jumping here and there because it has not chosen its real object.

The chosen object is the ishtadevata – the most beloved, the most attractive, the most liberating, and the source of security for you. You will find nothing is so secure as God Himself. Everything else is insecure, and finally unreliable. So, Yoga is a religion in the sense that it is love of God, and it is a discipline in the sense that it is concentration of mind. These two go together. Deep concentration by the power of will should get blended with the feeling for God. Religion and Yoga go together, and they become one in the form of an upsurge of your entire personality in the direction of the great Creator of the universe. This is my little message to you. What else can I tell you? God bless you.