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Darshan with Swami Krishnananda during 1996
by Swami Krishnananda

52. Nine Obstacles in Meditation

(Darshan given on December 21st, 1996)

Swamiji: It is the reaction that the mind is bringing about when you are trying to think in a manner which is not the normal way of thinking. The mind cannot think anything that is all-pervading. It thinks only of this little body: I want this, I will do this, I, I, I, I. You are living only this I, which is the body; now you are trying to think something different which is totally outside and beyond the body, and you are asserting it so much that the body trembles and it says, “No. What are you doing?” In meditation the mind, which wants to be only inside the body, is forced to think something beyond the body, so it is a clash between the higher thought and the lower thought. And the lower thought, which is connected to the body, trembles and creates digestive disorders, pains, fatigue.

Patanjali systematically mentions the troubles. The first is vyadhi, physical illness. You will find: “I cannot eat this. My stomach is going out of order.” When people go to Uttarkasi for meditation, the first thing is, they suffer with tummy upset, diarrhoea, etc. They cannot get medicine there, so they come here.

If you somehow overcome this discomfort of physical illness, then another thing starts. Styana means: “Okay, let it go. Today I will not do meditation. Tomorrow I will do it. I am tired today.” Styana means dullness. The mind becomes a little bit dull, and it cannot go on meditating every day. “Let it go. I have meditated for so many days. Today I will not do it.” This is a trick to stop the meditation.

Then comes samshaya, doubt: “Is this the correct way of thinking, this meditation? Buddha said something, Krishna said something, Yajnavalkya said something. Now, who is telling what? Which way should I follow? Nobody has seen God. Then what am I meditating on? I am meditating on something which nobody has seen, nobody can conceive. Where do I go after I die?” These questions come again and again.

Pramada means giving up the meditation itself: “It is not my concern. Finished! I have done so much; now let it go. It is not possible for me. I will go on pilgrimage; that's all. I am very much tired. God will bless me. I will go on tirth yatra. I will go to Kathmandu and Rameswaram, have a tour and come back. Some change is necessary.” Then meditation is gone. Pramada is this kind of thing.

Alasya means lethargy, sleep: “This is winter, a very uncomfortable time. When summer starts, regular meditation will start. This winter is not suitable. The cold is pinching, biting everywhere.” When summer starts: “It is so hot, horrible. It is not the time. We will see. When the rainy season starts, I will start.” When the rains come: “It is going on pouring, pouring. I can't sit anywhere. When winter starts I will meditate.” Buddha says you go on saying this, and you will never meditate. Seasons come, seasons go, but you do nothing. Many tricks are there.

Avirati. Then suddenly, the whole thing will be upside down. The very thing that you disliked and gave up will come to you with double force. A desire which was small will become very big. You will want even small things. “You have got two pens? I think I'll take one. Can I take it? I would like to have one.” This kind of desire also comes. “You have got two pens, and one I will take, Swamiji. I like it very much.” And sometimes they won't even tell that. They just take it. This is called kleptomania. Kleptomania means stealing silly things – a pencil, a pen, and so on. Even a king's son can be a kleptomaniac. Avirati means wanting the same thing in double and triple form, the very thing which you abandoned. That which you abandoned will come back with three times the force. Then people start building empires and ashrams, and have so many thousands of disciples, flying in airplanes everywhere and become a Mandaleshwar, a Mahamandaleshwar, triple, 108, 1008. Then meditation is finished. It is a kind of gluttony. This name and fame is also a kind of gluttony. You want to swallow everybody and eat everything. You swallow the fame of everybody else also, so that your fame is the greatest.

Then there is bhrantidarshana. You will think that already you have had the vision of God. Something you have felt; it may be a bhranti, but still you will think you had a vision. It is a trick of the mind again.

Then comes alabdhabhumikatva: You cannot fix the mind on the point. It will go on oscillating like this.

Then comes anavasthitatva: Even if you get the point, it will not continue for more than one second.

These are the obstacles. Nine are there. And each one should know where one is standing. Sometimes all the nine will come, but generally they come one after the other. The mind is trying to take all measures to see that you don't succeed, all due to the attachment of the body. All this is due to that. Because you are counteracting attachment to the body, it says, “I will see to it. I will retaliate.”

There must be extreme caution, extreme caution, as if you are walking on a single rope across the river. The rope is shaking, and on the one rope you have to walk. You must be so cautious; otherwise, you will drop into the water. How carefully you go! How carefully circus experts walk on a wire! On one single wire they will go, like this. If the concentration is missing, they will be down. Day and night you have to be meditating. It is not a one-hour meditation. Day and night there should be only this, like a person who has lost a great treasure. Day and night the person will be thinking of that only. He had a large treasure, and he has lost it. He can never forget that he has lost it. Whatever work he may be doing, he will remember, “I have lost so much.”