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Darshan with Swami Krishnananda during 1995
by Swami Krishnananda

23. Chanting Om according to Swami Sivananda

(Darshan given on October 8th, 1995.)

A visitor: In various books Swami Sivananda says that Om is a cure-all, a panacea for all disease. What does he really mean by this? Does he mean the chanting of Om?

Swamiji: You may say that, if it is chanted correctly.

Visitor: Long chanting?

Swamiji: You may call it long or short. It produces a vibration which sets right irregularities in the physical system, as well as in the mind. It produces a harmonious vibration in the entire system, so you may say it has a curative value. If you chant it properly, from the naval onwards, it produces a perfect circle, you can say, a circle of vibration around you. Vibration moves out of your personality in a circular manner, like a round circle. It can go on expanding into larger dimensions also, according to the intensity of your feeling in the chant. It is not the word or the sound that is important; it is the vibration that is emanated by the recitation, which is a medium for producing that rhythm. It produces a rhythm, a kind of electrifying resonance, you may say. If you touch a mild live wire, you will feel a kind of overwhelming vibration taking place in the entire system. Here you may say this chant is a kind of live wire, the proper utterance of which will produce a holistic circular vibration, and irregularities cannot be there in a circle. A circle is perfectly round. It is not a rectangle, a triangle, a square, and so on. It does not take that shape. The irregularities which are in our mental way of thinking and in our physical body also get straightened up; they get rounded up, you may say, as when you feel a sensation which is somewhat of the nature of perfection. It is an inclusive force.

But you must know how to chant it. Saying ‘Om, Om, Om, Om' will have no effect. It is not a japa, like ‘Om, Om, Om, Om'. That will not do anything. It must be chanted in the manner that is required, with deep feeling. It must start from the naval itself. When you deeply, resonantly chant it, you will feel a rising from the naval, and then it slowly rises up. You will feel a kind of tremor.

Visitor: If the chanting of Om becomes a sort of meditation, is there any difference between the meditation that is generated by the repetition of one's ishta mantra and this?

Swamiji: The ishta mantra can also generate the same thing because if the mantra is nothing but the name of a deity whom you are conceiving as your great beloved, the idea of that beloved will stimulate your body. It is not the mantra that is causing that, but the idea of that which you are wanting so much in your mind. It is the mind that is causing it, not merely the word. When you think of a thing which you call the best thing in the whole world, can you imagine such a thing? Nothing greater than that exists anywhere. That will produce a thrill. You will not be able to think like that, because you do not know what is the best and what is the greatest in the world. You will be flabbergasted and confused, isn't it? But yet you want the best in the world, the best of everything. You want the best of health, for instance. Everywhere you want the best of things, yet still you cannot conceive what the best is because the mind is so weak that it aspires for things which it cannot understand. Our trouble is that only.

The mind can grasp it if you are trained properly. For instance, the thought of God can simply devastate your feeling in one second.

Visitor: Can the thought of God go deep in the mind?

Swamiji: At that time the mind evaporates, and something comes and takes possession of you. I can only call it devastating, something that will tear your personality if you actually know what God is. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to say the experience of this thought of God is something like a mad elephant entering a thatched hut. If a mad elephant enters a thatched hut, what will happen? It will simply tear the entire thatched hut to pieces. That will happen to you, if you really think of God. The whole body will break. That is why he had so many types of experiences, and he fell sick also. He had physical illness because of this torture that somehow he had to undergo because of the experiences which he had again and again.

The whole difficulty is, you cannot conceive what is the grandest thing in the world. The grandest thing, the most magnificent thing – what is that? If you say there is no such thing, then it is a very poor concept of the world.

Another visitor: What is the role in pranayama in attaining brahma jnana?

Swamiji: It has no direct connection. Suppose you want to go to Delhi to achieve some purpose, and for that you have to walk on the road from here. Walking is not equal to the achievement of that purpose, but walking helps you in some way, in a preparatory, incidental manner, to achieve the goal. But one thing cannot be identified with the other because there may be a way of achieving that purpose even without walking on the road. Likewise, pranayama may help you in purifying your body and purifying your mind for the purpose of another thing which is called meditation, which is directly connected with brahma jnana. Pranayama, purification, etc., are not directly connected, but they are incidentally connected because they purify your personality; and yet, that is not sufficient to attain brahma jnana. What is required is direct meditation, and inasmuch as there are disturbances caused by factors in the human personality, to remove them you take recourse to pranamaya, tapasya, etc. So there is an introductory effect with pranayama, etc., but that in itself cannot take you to brahma jnana. That is the difference.

If your aim is to reach God, pranayama is good, but it is not sufficient. For that purpose, meditation is necessary. More importance must be given to meditation. It is pre-eminently important. And correct meditation must be done. You should not conduct a wrong meditation, because meditation is the way by which you introduce into your own consciousness the characteristics of what you are wanting, namely, the Absolute.

You must know, first of all, what are the characteristics of the Absolute. Those characteristics have to be implanted in your consciousness by ruminating on those characteristics as long as possible; then those qualities of the Absolute will enter your consciousness, and you will feel a great transformation taking place in your personality. You will feel a nearness to the Ultimate Reality. So you must know the correct procedure of meditation, and the mind should not have any other desires because when you want the total whole you should not run after little titbits. When you run after the parts, the total whole will be missed. Many times the mind finds it very difficult because it has many other occupations which it is unable to reconcile with the aspiration for the total. It is a little defect in the way of thinking. You have to understand how you can harmonise the mental cognition of the varieties of things in the world with the total whole, which is the Absolute. If that harmony can be established, you are well with this world, and you are well with God also. So that technique you must learn, and then you can carry on.

Visitor: In the process, should you definitely turn away from the world to establish…

Swamiji: You see, you have not heard me properly. I did not say that the varieties of the world should be shunned.

Visitor: In the transition period?

Swamiji: Even then. Even in the transition period you must learn the art of harmonising the perception of variety with the total whole. Meditation is nothing but that. It is not shunning anything or renouncing anything. You cannot renounce a thing which is already there. How is it possible to renounce a reality? It is not possible. And if you foolishly try to renounce that which is really there, it will pursue you wherever you go. That is no good. It is like burying a desire which is troubling you from inside. The desire should not be kept inside. It is a reality. A desire that is persisting is a reality, though it is a phantasmagoria, finally speaking. So yoga is not the rejection of anything. It is a process of gradual harmonisation of the lower with the higher, systematically, by degrees. The whole process is positive, and nothing of negativity is there in it. You don't shun anything; you make yourself friendly with everything. You are the friend of even the little atom, and not merely the Absolute, and you have to reconcile the notion of there being varieties of things with your concept of the total whole, which you are aspiring for. This is a very tremendous, herculean task, but you must follow that, and once you have succeeded in thinking like that, you will feel a wonderful, energising experience within yourself. So there is no shunning, no rejecting. You cannot reject any part of the world because it is a part of the Absolute itself. How will you reject it? Do you understand me?

Visitor: Yes.

Another visitor: What is the exact process of meditation?

Swamiji: Have you been practising meditation?

Visitor: Yes.

Swamiji: How are you practising? Tell me the method.

Visitor: They said to think of some light inside the heart.

Swamiji: If you think that concentrating on some light as located in your heart has been benefiting you, and you have no problem with it, then you can carry on with it. Only if you have any trouble with it, then you can ask me the question. If you think it is okay, if you are feeling happy, you go with it.

Another visitor: This meditation we do, is it the final goal of the achievement of success?

Swamiji: It is the final goal.

Visitor: Is it different from Aatma vichara?

Swamiji: It is also meditation only. Aatma vichara is also a meditation process only. Any kind of intense thinking, call it Aatma vichara, call it analysis, scientific examination, metaphysics, or by any name, when you deeply concentrate on something you are doing meditation. So finally, it is meditation only.

Visitor: Can we start with idol worship?

Swamiji: You can start with that.