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The Ascent to Moksha
by Swami Krishnananda

Discourse 15: Evolving of Personality Through the Practice of Meditation

Yesterday I was trying to give a concise analysis of the way in which our personality gets involved in a rift within itself without our actually knowing it in conscious experience. While we manage to get on with this psychophysical gulf which we have created within ourselves in our practical life, it becomes a serious problem when we enter into spiritual meditation. There are many problems in our life with which we can get on to some extent, but when they get concentrated, they become formidable. We do not wrack our brains over small difficulties in life, though they are there as hard as life itself. But when they get focused into a point of attention, they become serious encounters, and without resolving the conflict which they pose before us, we would not be able to move forward.

Inasmuch as we have various interests in our lives, we are able to forget some of our difficulties. God has somehow blessed us, perhaps, with diverse interests. It is not that we have only one interest in one object of a particular type continuously throughout our existence here. We can shift our interest from one centre to another, and it is the nature of the mind to seek satisfaction in such shifting of centres of its enjoyment.

Now, on account of there being a chance of continuous adjustment of the mind with various centres of satisfaction, there is also a possibility of forgetting many of our worries. Just as a child stops crying for a moment when it is given a toy to play with or when it is provided with some other diversion, we have various diversions in life. We can go to a film, we can to a club, we can have a drink, we can have a good lunch, we can go on a picnic, we can go on a long tour, or we can go to bed and have a long sleep if we are too much fatigued or agonised in our hearts. Thus, we are trying to get on in life somehow or other, pull through it, though there are hard-pinching facts at the bottom of our existence itself.

Now, this fundamental problem of an insoluble difficulty in life is created by an invisible factor working within our own selves, to which we have closed our eyes forever, as it were, and we want to close our eyes to it inasmuch as it is insoluble. When a problem is too hard to solve, it is better to forget it. This is the attitude which we have been entertaining with regard to many of our difficulties in life when they go beyond our control. We close our eyes or try ways and means of brushing it aside completely from our memory, and think of it only when it actually comes in front of us and attacks us or threatens us. But forgetting a problem is not a healthy attitude because problems will never leave us just because we forget them. That would be the analogy of the cat which closes its eyes and drinks milk, thinking that nobody will observe it. The difficulties are illnesses or diseases of our personality, and a disease cannot be cured merely by forgetting it or ignoring its existence. Rather, it gets accentuated and becomes more risky when it is ignored.

Our psychological context is a great problem in our life which comes into high relief when we sit for meditation on the spiritual way of life. As we observed yesterday, the attitude that is spiritual is a wholesome, comprehensive and all-inclusive attitude. Thus, it takes into consideration whatever is without and whatever is within. There is no chance of ignoring or forgetting any factor there. That which is comprehensive includes every existent factor, whether it is desirable or otherwise. While in the ordinary life of the world we can afford to forget or ignore certain factors though they are existent, in the spiritual field we cannot ignore any factor because we should not be tired of bringing back to our memory again and again the truth that spirituality is not one of the ways of life that we are adopting but it is the comprehensive attitude to life. This is a very important essentiality of the spiritual attitude to things which is likely to be missed in our enthusiasm of life.

The attitude that is spiritual, inasmuch as it is comprehensive, is inclusive of every existent factor, psychological as well as physical. Hence, questions that are especially psychological cannot be ignored. Now, the rift or the chasm to which I made reference yesterday in our personality is a psychophysical chasm. It is the impossibility on our part to bring about a harmony between our mind and our body, or the principle of thought with the principle of objectivity. The object ever remains as a target of thought, an objective which the mind wishes to assimilate into its existence, which factor is demonstrated daily by the attraction of objects over the mind and the impossibility of the mind to rest contented within itself without coming in contact with objects. The mind, somehow or other, unwittingly convinces itself into the belief that objects are realities and, therefore, it has to pursue objects.

The hectic activity of the mind to run after the things of sense is explicable on the ground of the inner belief within us that objects are real and, therefore, we have to be after them because nothing can satisfy us more than the possession of reality. If reality is the highest of possessions and the greatest benefit we can acquire, and if reality is to be identified with the objects of sense, naturally our satisfactions are identical with sensory indulgences. The mind has somehow or other duped itself into the belief that objects are realities and to pursue reality is the highest objective in life, and therefore, sensory indulgence is the greatest conceivable satisfaction.

Now, the body is used as a kind of instrument, a handmaid, in the satisfaction of the senses. The body has been a very useful instrument in the pursuit of the mind through the senses in terms of objects. Though we are educated in human psychology and know that the mind is more important than matter, it has always remained as a kind of theoretical or academic acceptance. The mind has always remained subservient to the operation of material forces. We are controlled by economic and material forces today on account of the subservience of psychological factors to material forces. We always think in terms of politics, economics and sociology. We have no other way of thinking, forgetting the fact that there are realities within us subtler than what we can think in terms of society, money or governmental administration.

The aspirations of the human mind are superphysical. We are not to be satisfied with material economy or objective indulgence of any kind. Even if a person is possessed of all material wealth, he is not going to be satisfied. A verse in the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata says that all the wealth, all the gold, all the cattle, all the grain that is available in the world cannot satisfy one person in the world; such is the desire of man. If we are possessed of the kingdom of the whole world, we will not be satisfied. Why? Because matter cannot satisfy spirit. Spirit is superior to matter, and the mind is a replica of the spiritual aspirations within us. It is a representation of the infinitude that is within us. The mind operates within the bodily limitation, no doubt, and yet it reflects within itself an infinitude of aspiration. That is why the mind of man can never be satisfied, whatever be the possession, whatever be the wealth and whatever be the status that one occupies in human society.

We are, therefore, under a misplacement of values, and this is what generally goes by the name of suffering through samsara, an inexplicable difficulty in which we have entangled ourselves, a difficulty from which we want to extricate ourselves, a difficulty which sits upon our heads until the end of our life. This is samsara. But this suffering of samsara has come upon us merely because of the preponderance of the material attitude over the psychological and the spiritual attitude. This is a fact and a point and a theme which I tried to dilate upon yesterday.

Today I shall try to go a little further into the question of the meditational problem of the spiritual seeker that arises on account of this psychological, or rather, psychophysical rift in one's personality, which has to be harmonised and made whole. We have to be complete personalities rather than personalities with a schism or a rift, though it lies within unconsciously. Unconscious problems are problems nevertheless.

We have, as I mentioned, various levels of our personality, and we are not exhausted by physical experiences. The conscious experiences of physical life are not the entirety of our personality. We have deeper essences within us which begin to speak at different times of our life. When we are frustrated, when we are deprived of all we possess and we are thrown into the winds, the deeper personality within us begins to speak in a deeper language altogether, while when we are well-off and on velvet and we think the world is all milk and honey, we speak in a different language only on the conscious level. The bottom of our personality wells up into the surface when we are frustrated deeply and shaken from the very roots of our being. It can happen when the forces of the world become unfriendly towards us.

The social security and satisfaction that we are enjoying in the physical level of our being is on account of a tentative or a temporary thrust that people lay upon us and the apparent uniformity of conscious experience among human beings. But subconsciously human beings are not uniform. That is why really one cannot be a friend of another person in the world. Though consciously we seem to be friends, subconsciously we cannot be. So there is a possibility of breaking of friendship, though the conscious level promises all types of uniformity and stability among people. We have a subconscious difference, though a conscious uniformity. While on conscious levels we appear to be very friendly, amiable and very satisfying among ourselves, subconsciously we keep within ourselves a knife, as it were, which can cut the thread of friendship any moment of our life. History is a lesson to us, and it tells us how humanity has been duped by this false satisfaction that it seeks from human uniformity that it observes only on the conscious level.

Now, in spiritual meditations, the subconscious mind is brought to the surface. What we really are within ourselves comes up. The devil, the tiger, the snake, the scorpion, everything that is within us comes up to the surface. We have characteristics of all these animals. We are sometimes like tigers, sometimes like snakes, sometimes like jackals, because these traits that we have overstepped through the process of evolution somehow manage to retain a little tinge of themselves, and become materialised into experience when proper circumstances are provided.

The spiritual act of meditation is the bringing out of the entire personality of a person. We are not to be satisfied merely with our conscious experiences. For example, we are likely to think that we have no desires of an undesirable type at the present moment. At this particular hour of the day, people are seated within this hall listening to a discourse in a particular mood or attention of mind, and you are likely to think that you are quite normal in your behaviour and everything is well with you. There are no objectionable desires or antisocial traits in your mind. Perhaps it is true when you consciously judge yourself at this present moment. But antisocial traits can be worked up into your conscious life if the circumstances around you change.

When the conditions that determine your mental operation change, they can bring out of your personality traits which are hidden in the lower levels, being suppressed, for obvious reasons, in conscious social life. We have antisocial characters within us. Every one of us has these characteristics, and we supress these characteristics because of laws that operate in life. If the laws are not to be, there will be only the law of the jungle prevailing in the world. There is a mutual agreement of people which restricts our experiences and operations in external life, and therefore, the undesirable traits which are of an antisocial or unsocial nature are pressed down into the subconscious levels, not for sublimation or destruction, but merely for the reason that they cannot germinate under the given circumstances at the present moment. In meditation they are consciously brought out.

In psychoanalytic therapy, a process which medical people employ, there is a set of operations done upon the patient to bring out the unconscious traits and hidden impulses which have caused a rift in the social and personal life of the individual. There are mental diseases of various kinds, for which people are taken to psychotherapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, etc. This rift in their personality has been the cause of their illness. The rift is nothing but the conflict between the suppressed traits and the conscious behaviour of the personality. When the conscious behaviour is more powerful than the suppressed traits, we look sane and perfectly normal. We are not mental cases because the conscious activity of our mind is more powerful than the hidden or the suppressed traits – not that they are not there, but they are weaker. But when the suppressed traits are stronger than the conscious activity of the mind, one becomes insane, a maniac. That is what is called a mental case. The conscious activities are weaker than the suppressed instincts. If the conscious activity is stronger than the suppressed one, then of course we get on in life somehow or other.

Now, the psychoanalyst therapy is a very interesting technique which is also employed by spiritual seekers in another manner altogether, which amounts to a very tactful bringing out of the hidden impulses into conscious life by processes such as free association, dream analysis, and concentration of mind on a given subject. There are many other methods also. You are asked to go on repeating certain items that come to your mind suddenly, without thinking. Continuously let me hear what you go on uttering – mountain, tree, river, stars, sun, moon, food, the diet, roti, chapatti, whatever it is. You go on saying whatever comes to your mind. If you continuously go on uttering whatever comes to your mind for half an hour, some sort of a reading of your mind can be made because these words that you utter are the utterances of your mind. They are impulses expressing themselves in the form of ideas. If you were given time to think, you would not utter objectionable terms or express ideas which will not be tolerated by people, so you are not given time to think. You have to utter words quickly, rapidly, so that you lose control over your rational powers, and the emotions push the impulses that are within into conscious levels.

Dream analysis is another method of studying personality. The objects that we see and the experiences we undergo in dream give a sort of indication of what impulses we have hidden within us, and dream projects our desires in symbolic terms. The mind has got defence mechanisms and methods of manifesting its desires in a very subtle, unobjectionable manner. Objectionable desires can be expressed in an unobjectionable manner. For example, in court people argue false cases in a legal manner, giving them a tinge of rationality. This is called rationalisation, a logical presentation of forbidden traits within the mind in an acceptable manner. This method is employed both in waking life and in dream.

We employ symbols of sensory satisfaction both in waking and in dream. We see a snake in dream, which is a desire expressing itself in concrete form, indicating that we have a hidden impulse. Or we fly in the air, or drown in the ocean. These are symbolic of hidden impulses which can come up when they are pressed too hard. When they are given a free scope of expression within a limited circle, we do not see their activity or the way in which they work. But when we control them vehemently or drive them hard into corners, then they take revenge and come up into the conscious level either as a revolting activity, a revolutionary attitude socially or personally; or if this attitude cannot be manifest for some reason or the other, it becomes a craze or a mania.

While we are trying to avoid these psychological illnesses in our day-to-day life by diversions and satisfactions of an innocuous nature, in spiritual life we cannot do it because a spiritual attitude is an attitude of self-control. We cannot have diversions; we cannot go to pictures, we cannot have a drink or a peg, we cannot smoke. We cannot have any kind of permissible social enjoyments when we take to a monastery particularly, or to a meditational attitude as a whole-time aspirant. We impose upon ourselves a deliberate control and a check upon impulses of our personality, giving no chance of diversion or satisfaction; and there lies the danger.

Now, this is precisely what meditation tries to solve as a panacea for mental conflicts. While conflicts can lead to mental illnesses, in meditation these conflicts are sublimated and made to evaporate. We become a whole personality by a healthy introduction of psychological medicine rather than a suppressive attitude, which we have been adopting up to this time for want of a proper method. Meditation may be regarded as a panacea for all the ills of life. It is a medicine not only for personal ills but also for social ills, because social ills are personal ills. They are identical. What is society but humanity put together? Many people put together, many individuals joined, is called society. Therefore, social conflict is individual conflict, social battle is individual battle. Whatever we see outside is inside. So if the within is cured, the outside also is cured. The cure of the human personality is the ultimate aim of spiritual meditation.

But it is not merely a psychological cure that meditation adopts. It is a spiritual cure of the whole personality, a cure of samsara itself. The greatest of illness is samsara; it is not merely psychological conflict, which is only a very meagre form of suffering that we are undergoing compared to the invisible fundamental problem which we call earthly existence, the process of birth and death. The greatest of diseases is the transmigratory process of birth and death. We are subjected to a chain of metempsychosis without having any say in the matter. It is being driven to jail for an indefinite period, and we will never be given the chance of a hearing. Such seems to be the predicament in which we are. And what greater disease can we be infested with?

So while the psychoanalytic attitude of therapy is very interesting and useful, and it is used also in the spiritual processes of meditation, the purpose of meditation is deeper than psychoanalysis. It is deeper because it tries to cure the illness of life itself. And what is the illness of life? It is the subjection of the human soul to birth and death. We are subjected to birth and death because of the identification of consciousness with the process of material forces. The world of matter is subject to change and transformation. Everything in the world is a vicissitude. Everything comes and everything goes. Momentary is the existence of physical objects, and inasmuch as impermanence is the character of everything that is physical, material or earth-earthly, when consciousness is falsely identified with this procession of material forces, it issubjected to this procession. The birth and death of the body is falsely transferred to the experience of consciousness, and it looks as if consciousness itself is passing through birth and death. We are not really subject to birth and death essentially in our being. The soul is immortal, eternal, infinite; such is our consciousness.

But we seem to be undergoing the suffering of life in spite of our being immortal and infinite. The reason is that in the vicissitudes of time and the differentiations of space, the processional activity of material forces get mixed up with the existence of consciousness, and vice versa, which is called anyonya-adhyasa, the mutual superimposition of characters within consciousness and material forces of objects. So when objects come into being and go out of being, when there is birth and death of material configurations of bodies, of objects, the identified consciousness also begins to feel that it is subject to a similar vicissitude of transmigration. The purpose of meditation is to sever this relationship of consciousness from these forces, or rather, to realise the infinitude of consciousness.

When the chaitanya-shakti, or the consciousness within us, gets identified with the changing character of material forces, it undergoes the process of birth and death, as it were, and when this identification is snapped, when consciousness asserts its independence – tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe avasthānam (Yoga Sutras 1.3): when the drashta, or the seer principle within us, the consciousness proper, gets established within itself independent of association with objects outside – it realises its infinitude and eternity. This is the purpose of spiritual meditation: to cure the illness of consciousness in which it has been involved, the illness of birth, death and suffering, which have all been caused by an initial mistake of identification of the subject with the object, which is called avidya or aviveka. Avidya is the absence of the knowledge of infinity and eternity of consciousness; aviveka is the non-discrimination between subject and object. Avidya and aviveka, like twins, get born into experience in a mysterious manner and create in us ahamkara, or personality-consciousness. Avidya and aviveka produce ahamkara in us, which is the assertion of individuality, which is contrary to the nature of our consciousness. Consciousness is eternal and infinite, it has no personality, and so the assertion of a particular bodily personality as an individuality is contrary to the nature of our consciousness. That is the beginning of samsara.

Hence, avidya and aviveka lead to the false affirmation of personality, ahamkara, which leads to raga and dvesha, likes and dislikes. Because we are one thing and others are another thing, we develop likes and dislikes towards other people and other things in the world. Raga and dvesha, or likes and dislikes, cannot be avoided as long as there is personality affirmation. They are the children born to ahamkara. From ahamkara come raga and dvesha. Due to raga and dvesha, or likes and dislikes, we get involved in selfish activity for the fulfilment of raga and the avoidance of the objects of dvesha. We are busy in our life, in our selfish attitude, for amassing wealth and for many other reasons. We sink ourselves in selfish work for the sake of fulfilling our desires to pamper the psychological attitudes of raga and dvesha. Karma, which is binding, becomes our engagement when raga and dvesha are the strings that control our activities.

This binding karma produces birth and death. Janma, jara, dukha – all these are the outcomes of selfish activity. Karma produces a momentum of power which pushes us further in the chain of transmigration. Karma produces an effect which gets lodged in our psychological nature like a cloud covering the sun, and the luminosity of our Atman is completely overshadowed by this mist or cloud of the impressions produced by selfish activities, which are the outcome of raga and dvesha, which assertion have come from ahamkara, which has come from aviveka, which is the product of avidya. So everything ultimately is rooted in absence of understanding, absence of knowledge, a misconception and a total erroneous attitude to things in general. Meditation sets right all these errors by putting the things in the proper places while they are now pell-mell, scattered everywhere, anything existing anywhere.

The meditation that is spiritual particularly is the setting in proper order of the forces of the world and the forces within our personality, which ultimately mean one and the same thing. The control of the mind is the control of the world. Mano-jaya is jagat-jaya. If you are a master of yourself, you are a master of everything else also because everything else is constituted of the very same substance as you are. So the technique of meditation sets right the personality of the individual primarily and, as a consequence, becomes a remedy for the chaos that one experiences in the cosmos and in the universe as a whole.

The chaos that is the personality has to be set right first, and then it becomes an avenue for entry into the wider forces operating in the world. The chaos in the personality, as I mentioned, is the dichotomy between mind and body, spirit and matter, which is called aviveka or avidya. This has to be removed by meditation. How this can be done is the question of who will bell the cat. This is the crucial point in spiritual practice. All this is the background and the introductory preparation for taking action finally at a given point. Now, what is this point on which we have to concentrate? This is the object of meditation.

Here we have to be very cautious because the choice of the object of meditation is also simultaneously the choice of the method of meditation, just as the choice of the destination which we have to reach is also the choice of the road that we have to pursue in that direction. If we want to go to Delhi, we know which is the way to Delhi. So the road is already fixed because the destination is fixed. Likewise, a choice of the object of meditation is to be taken, is to be done very carefully, suited to the temperament of the particular spiritual seeker. The goal is one, but we move from different directions.

To give the same example, if you want to go to Delhi from Rishikesh, you have to pursue one path. But if you want to go to Delhi from Amritsar, you have to pursue another road altogether. If it is from Bombay, the goal is same, but the roads to Delhi are different because they all come from different directions.

So the goal is same; the Absolute is the goal, but the paths are variegated on account of the various temperaments of the individual. The temperaments of individuals vary on account of the various psychological structures of the mind. Every mind is psychologically, structurally, different from the other. Everyone has a house to live in, to give one instance, but the pattern of the house of one person is not the same as the pattern of the house of another person. The pattern is different, though everyone has a house to live in. Likewise, the pattern or the methodology of the working of the mind is different in different individuals on account of various factors that have come through various aims, through different lives.

The temperaments which vary from individual to individual are nothing but the structural or patternal differences of individuals. These are the determining factors of the object of meditation, and also the method of meditation. So here comes the question of initiation again. Why do you go to a Guru or a Master? Because you cannot know what is your temperament. Sometimes you are likely to mistake your temperament for one thing while you are really another thing. You may say, “I have no emotion,” while you may be full of emotions. You do not know whether you are a rational type, a volitional type, an emotional type, an active type, or a type which is filled with conflict. All these can be observed by a dispassionate mind.

Our minds are not dispassionate. They are full of prejudices, and therefore, we cannot make a very dispassionate or impersonal judgement of our own self. That is why we go to Masters or Gurus. The Guru, or spiritual teacher, is an impersonal being who has no desires of any kind, who has an equal attitude towards people and, therefore, judges people properly. We cannot judge our own friends or enemies because we have a hatred for enemies and a love for friends. So love and hatred prejudice our judgment of persons, whereas a Guru has no love and hatred; he has no friends or enemies, so his judgment will be a correct judgment of the mind of a person. Hence it is that we are asked to approach a spiritual adept, and generally, if the adept that we have chosen, by God's grace, is well established in spiritual practice, he will be able to select a proper target for our meditation, and also program for us a daily routine of spiritual practice in accordance with our predilections, prepossessions and intellectual capacities.

Many factors come into play when we try to decide the object of meditation and the method of concentrating the mind. It all depends upon various factors such as the family in which we are born, the social circumstances in which we have been brought up, the kind of education which we have undergone and, above all, the samskaras with which we are born into this world. All these contribute to the decision of the factor of meditation in respect of the object as well as the technique.

So we come again to the point that a Guru is essential and initiation is imperative. While the initiation is given, the disciple or the student is supposed to be instructed in everything concerned with meditation. It is not just a five-minute affair. It is a detailed study of the student's personality, a continuous observance of his behaviour, and a personal care which the Guru takes of the disciple for a long time until the disciple is able to stand on his own legs and take care of himself on the spiritual path.

The impulses that are within our minds are mostly responsible for our difficulties in meditation. Every person has some difficulty or the other when he sits for meditation, and these difficulties vary from person to person. They vary because of the variegated types of impulses hidden within. Some may be obsessed with vasanas of kama, others may have vasanas of krodha, a third may have vasana of lobha, and so on. Or there may be a feeling of self-importance, which does not leave the individual even in deep moments of concentration of mind.

We cannot know what obstacles we will have to face in meditation because we do not know what impulses are hidden within us. The objective experiences in meditation are the outward manifestations of the subjective impulses. So whatever the impulse within is, that is the sort of experience that we have in meditation. Many people mistake experiences which are caused by impulses for spiritual experiences or God vision. They say they see lights, colour, hear sounds; they say that is God speaking or God is coming near. God will not come so quickly. Though He will definitely come, He does not come so early and so easily. So visions and sounds should not be mistaken for God vision or philosophical or spiritual experiences. They are mostly outward manifestations symbolically presented in space and time of impulses that are within us because one of the tests of experience is the consequence that it produces, the reactions that are set up by these experiences, and the feelings generated within us after we have these experiences.

When you have a vision of sound, colour, etc., what is the feeling generated within you? If it is one of fright, doubt, suspicion, confusion, etc., you cannot mistake it for a spiritual experience because spiritual experience is like waking into reality, getting up from sleep or rising from dream. When you wake up, you do not have doubts in your mind. You do not ask questions, “Am I awake, am I asleep, or am I in a state of dream? Am I a human being or am I a cat, am I an animal?” You never ask these questions because everything is clear when you wake up. So in spiritual experience everything is clarified. If you have doubts, you can take for granted it is not a spiritual experience. You do not go and compare your experience with somebody else. “Yesterday I heard the sound of a bell. Is God ringing the bell or is it something else?” They are the workings of the pranas. Sounds and colours especially are the pressure exerted on the prana by the concentration of mind. If you press your eyes hard, you will begin to see some colours. You can see it now itself. Press your eyes hard. Varieties of picturesque scenes can be seen in front of you. The same thing happens in meditation. While here you are pressing the eyes with the palm of your hand, in meditation you are pressing with the force of will but the effect is the same. Because of the power of will exerting a pressure on the prana, you begin to see colours, and you may even hear sounds due to the movement of prana. They are not the spirit manifesting itself. That is very far off. These are unavoidable experiences, but not to be mistaken for spiritual realisation.

We have to live the life of saints so that we may gain some idea of what we may have to expect in our spiritual life, especially the lives of those saints whose records are available to us, like the life of Buddha or the life of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the life of the great saint of Maharashtra which we read in Bhakta Vijaya, and the lives of those mystic saints of the south called Alwars and Nayanmars, and many other such mystic adepts who passed through inhuman sufferings for the sake of God. All this suffering is for the sake of God because when we ask for the transcendent reality, all that is phenomenal has to be shed. The sufferings that we undergo in our spiritual life are the processes by which we shed phenomenal contact with the objects of sense. It is like scraping our skin, as it were, and we start feeling pain because we are scraped.

Every detachment is a pain to the soul. We have been accustomed to think that attachment is pleasure and, therefore, non-attachment appears to be pain. The march of the soul to Godhead is the march from one stage of non-attachment to a higher stage of non-attachment. We rise from the lower detachment to the higher detachment. The higher we go, the more we are detached from contact with things, and so we begin to feel a sort of restlessness, as if things are being lost. All the desires of the mind are curbed; they are denied their satisfaction. The desires are of umpteen kinds. There are desires of the eyes to see beauty, there are desires of the ears to hear melodious sounds, there are desires of the tongue to taste delicious dishes, desires of the nose to smell fragrance, the desires of the skin to touch soft things, and above all, the desire of the ego to gain self-recognition. These will come like devils with cudgels in their hands. Buddha had experiences of this kind. Read the life of Buddha, a most picturesque life. Mara came and attacked him from various sides. Christ was tempted by Satan: “All this universe is yours. Why are you undergoing these austerities?” Many such temptations will come; and many people will yield to the temptations, mistaking these temptations for holy utterances of the spirit and harmless experiences that come on the way. Here God helps, Guru helps.

Thus, experiences in meditation are of various kinds, and mostly they are phenomenal appearances of the subjective impulses. When the impulses completely come out to the surface and get exhausted totally, that will be like a sick man attaining health. The appetite will grow, the mind will think more clearly, and the whole world will look beautiful. This is what a healthy man sees. A sick man curses the world, he has no taste for anything, he cannot sleep, and he cannot utter a sweet word because he is agitated, annoyed and agonised within. But a healthy person sees beauty, perfection, amiableness, and health spread around himself.

Likewise, when the spirit begins to manifest itself, when the psychological disease-producing toxins of impulses are thrown out by sublimating them through the process of meditation, we gain a spiritual health which is impossible to explain verbally. That is the stage of ecstasy. You might have heard of spiritual ecstasy and transportation of the spirit people experience in meditation. These transportations and raptures and ecstasies are the rise of the sun of the spirit in the firmament of our personality. When the sun rises, the whole darkness is dispelled; the mist melts and everything is seen clearly, and we wake up into a new kind of activity. That is beauty. That is the kind of thing we will begin to see when the spirit manifests itself and the disease-producing toxins of impulses are removed.

We are now sick. We are not healthy, spiritually speaking. We are all spiritual bankrupts and spiritual patients full of illnesses of the mind. Many kinds of maladies are within us, in all the layers of the personality. The illness is not only in the physical body, it is in the pranas, in the senses, in the mind, in the intellect, everywhere. In all the five koshas we are sick. And these five koshas have to be straightened. They are to be made healthy, and when these five sheaths encasing the soul get polished of the dross of tamas and rajas and become sattvic, even this very personality will reflect the radiance of God. That is the saint. Like a glass pane reflecting light, the personality of the individual will begin to reflect the radiance of the spirit. That is what is called a siddha, mahapurusha, avatara, saint or sage. Even while living in this world, the personality will radiate the light of God because of the sattvic character which is manifest through the five koshas rather than the rajasic and tamasic character that is now at present. This is what you will experience when you advance in meditation. You will begin to see a veiled light and an uncanny satisfaction and delight, which will be its own explanation, its own proof. It needs no explanation, and it does not call for any proof or demonstration of it.

Such is the grand technique of meditation, and towards this grand end we move.