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Meditation and Ashram Life
by Swami Krishnananda

(Spoken to the residents of the Sivananda Ashram on November 29th, 1972)

Yesterday, as a kind of introductory arrangement of thought for the purpose of meditation, we saw how important and essential is a conscious assumption of humility is in one's spiritual life, how one has to be comparatively free from nervous and mental tensions before one actually engages oneself in meditation, and how also it is equally important to have a clarity of concept of the object of meditation. When these three conditions are fulfilled in an appreciable extent, we may be said to be prepared for the glorious spiritual task we know as meditation. This is the first stage.

Now, it is high time we should think that we have to take meditation as what it really is, and not take it merely as a kind of diversion or a joke. We hear this word ‘meditation' uttered many times, announced and proclaimed and published in so many places that we are likely to miss its significance and lose importance, to the disadvantage of our own self and to the loss and discredit of the very people who advertise and proclaim about it. Unfortunate is this state of affairs.

We do not profess to be spiritual seekers or sadhakas, but we humbly aspire to be such. This, I believe, is the longing of every one of us in this Ashram. Because of the many shortcomings of our nature we cannot say confidently that we are real sadhakas, but we cannot deny that we humbly aspire to be one. Therefore, we would like to know what spiritual life is, what efforts we have to make in an honest practice of a spiritual life in pursuance of the great hopes and messages of Revered Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, whose name we can never forget, whose salt we eat, whose glory we enjoy, and in whose sunshine we are bathed continually, within and without. Thus, it would be proper, befitting and obligatory on the part of those who have taken him as their Master to glorify his name by practising his ideals and living the life he would expect us to live.

Now, in the second stage of our practice of spiritual life, which follows the first stage I mentioned previously, it is for us to remember why we have come here. There are four or five types of people who come to the ashram. Everyone does not come with the same purpose or intention. Some people come merely out of curiosity, others come due to the harassment of the world, others come for knowledge, learning, scholarship and academic acumen, and still others seek employment, a job and a way of living. There are very few who seek the soul within themselves, and I am particularly speaking today in the context of such people, not the other four categories. Those who have come to seek their soul because they have lost it are few, it is to these people that meditation is addressed, and to whom it is applicable. It is not applicable to others.

Meditation is the activity of the soul, not a function of the mind, and so we can realise how important it is to our personal life. Meditation is not intellect, ratiocinating or investigating. It is not emotion or loving. It is not the will concentrating. It is not any aspect of the psychological organ that is active in meditation. True meditation is the spiritual spark igniting itself within us and struggling to break the cage in which it is locked up. It wants to assert its true nature and the moment this happens, it assumes a strength like that of Hanuman. Hanuman never knew his strength. We are all like small Hanumans, looking foolish without any power, any strength. He was a humble servant of King Sugriva, a very poor soul, just doing whatever he was asked to do by the king. But then Jambavan told him, “My dear friend, do you know that you are the son of Vayu, that you are blessed by Brahma, Indra, Varuna, Mitra and all the Devas, that you are the immortal son of Anjana Devi? Do you know your power? Do you know that you can lift mountains and soar to the skies?” The moment this was told, Hanuman said, “Oh, yes, yes! Now I remember. I thought I am only a small servant of Sugriva. Now see what I do.” And then you know what happened. I need not go into detail, as Valmiki tells us all that.

We are all in the same condition. This story of Hanuman is only another epic narration of the condition of the human soul. We all appear to be foolish persons, but really we are not foolish. There is a tremendous energy within us which we have come here to realise, manifest and experience. We have not come here to take tea, milk and fruit. We had plenty of that at home, and we have not come here to the Ashram only to get the same thing. It would be foolish to think that we are once again in the same rut. We have come to this Ashram for a purpose which is superior to physical longings and material comforts, and it is essential to underline this purpose because we are often likely to miss the aim. In the beginning we are conscious of the aim and are very fiery, but later on we become lukewarm, and then we become completely cold. All our energy and the fire goes and we look like small Hanumans once again, losing all our strength.

So the first thing we have to note in our diary is, when did I come to this Ashram? Why did I come? What made me come here? What was the intention with which I came? And have I fulfilled that intention? If not, what was the obstacle? Who is the obstructer? Was it myself, or somebody else? If somebody else is the problem, what is the way of getting out of it? Should we not investigate and ratiocinate in this way? We have to do vichara, and then see that we do not miss the aim for which we have come. Otherwise, we can go back home. Why should we stay in the Ashram? It is a serious offense against life itself to simply vegetate. Vegetate means simply exist like a tree. Either we live in a home or we live in an ashram. We do not like home because it is materialistic and engrossed in sheer economic calculations, only manipulations of money, name, power and attachment. We realise that it is all hopeless. There is a purpose above these little cravings of the human flesh, so we came to Sivananda Ashram. But what have we done after coming? Nothing has happened. Now, why is it? This is a crime on our part against our own selves because we are harming our own selves in the worst manner possible with this attitude of negligence to the Self, or the soul. The crime against the soul is the greatest of crimes. The crime against man is pardonable, but we cannot be pardoned for the crime against the soul because that is the real sin. The real sin is the offense against the soul and this, if committed by any error on our part, shall doom us.

So it is high time, the right time, for every one of us to open our eyes and awaken ourselves to the true status of our life in this world. Are we birds of the Ashram? We are confined to four walls. What is our objective? Do we belong to the Ashram, or does the Ashram belong to us? Are we inside the Ashram, or is the Ashram inside our heads? Psychological complexes and tensions may prevent us from knowing the true state of affairs in which we are. The worst of perils and greatest of calamities that we can fall into is the forgetfulness of our purpose. If we go to some country as an ambassador representing our government and forget the purpose for which we have come, we cease to be an ambassador. We cease to have any kind of relationship with the government that has sent us.

So we have not come here to make a home. No one has come for that purpose, because we had a home. Has a person who had a comfortable home and enough to eat left it and come here for settling down in another homestead and chattel? Nothing of the kind. So we have to be doubly and triply cautious that we do not enter into the very same perilous path we have tried to avoid in our earlier days before we actually find our spiritual objective.

A few days back I mentioned that although we have left our father, mother, husband, wife, children, we might not have had the time to realise as to what exactly these items mean in our life. They are not persons. Fields, money, relations, family members do not mean persons and things. They are only certain emotional attitudes. These are the bondages of the soul. Our father and mother are not bondages, because they are only human beings like anybody else. We see human beings here also, so what difference is there between them and these? The difference is the emotional attitude. The bondage is not the person called the father and the mother; the bondage is the emotional attitude towards that person. So we are the same family man if we have left those people but retained the emotional attitude within even in the cloister within the four walls of the Ashram. Then coming here has made no difference, and spiritually we are a failure. In such cases it is better to go home; there is no use living in the Ashram, because home is a mental atmosphere and not a brick-built, four-walled construction.

Stone walls do not a prison make. A prison is not a four-walled building; a prison is a situation. A prison is also a kind of building like any other building, so what is the difference between a prison and a temple? The difference is the situation, the circumstance, the mental condition. Then what is the difference between an ashram and a house? The distinction is not that an ashram is made of gold and a house is made of bricks. They are made up of the very same bricks and mortar. The difference is the mental circumstance, the situation, the psychological condition in which we are living. If the psychological condition is the same as it was in the house, then even if we call it an ashram, what is the good of it?

Life becomes a failure, and sometimes it can become a double and triple failure when we go against the laws of nature. We may be losers with compound interest, not merely with simple interest. So we should not joke or play with nature, much less with God and His laws, and we should also not joke with our own soul. To joke with one's soul is to be a hypocrite. If you tell the soul that you are a seeking aspirant but you are a householder in your mind, this is hypocritical attitude towards the soul, and the soul will punish you for that. There are three things which we cannot deceive: God, nature, and the soul. We may deceive anybody else. The soul cannot be deceived, nature cannot be deceived, God cannot be deceived, and these are the only three realities existing. There is no other reality, unfortunately for us. As the Manusmriti tells us very poignantly, the very earth that we stand upon will bear witness to what we have done when the day for it comes. It is frightening to read it. Manu says in his passage that the very earth on which you are standing will bear witness to what you have done. Therefore, do not think that you have hidden facts from nature. The very sun, moon and stars will bear witness to what you have done. Do not say that you have done it silently without the knowledge of other people. The very trees will speak one day. The very leaves that smile before you will speak out what you have done and what you have thought. You cannot hide things. Nature is God speaking, smiling and frowning before us. Let us not forget that we are in a very serious atmosphere, and it is to realise this seriousness that we have come to the Ashram.

That God has blessed us with the amenities of life and the needs of physical existence should not be taken as an indication of success in our life because success is made of a different stuff altogether. Social status and recognition and material prosperity are not the symptoms of success, because Ravana and Hiranyakashipu also had these things. They were also well-known known persons in all the three worlds, and they had money to burn, but do we call them successful people? So let us not fall into the trap of social recognition and name, fame, power, authority or material well-being in any manner whatsoever.

If we have a good room and a good blanket, it does not mean that we have led a successful life, because success is the soul's adventure and victory over its passions and its tensions. This is very important to remember. Success is not a woollen sweater, blankets, hot tea, milk and fruit. That is not success. Though it is there by God's grace, it cannot be taken as an indication of success. On the other hand, it may be an indication of our fall. Unfortunately, it can be a reverse of what we are thinking in our mind. The lower we fall, the better we may look in the eyes of people. So the measure of success in our spiritual life is to be known by another kind of yardstick altogether: by being honest to God and honest to our own selves.

The point is that we have to contemplate the purpose for which we have come here. Let us not miss that purpose. Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj was fond of a story about Darius of Persia. Darius was a minister who became king later on, but he began life as a shepherd. In Persian and Middle East regions, a shepherd's clothes were usually tattered, dirty and torn due to poverty and so on. Some good luck struck Darius, due to which he became a minister of the king of Persia, and he was such an able administrator that he became a favourite of the king. The king was fond of him and consulted him on even the smallest of matters. The king had no confidence in any other person and always consulted Darius.

The other courtiers did not like this. They said, “Look at this, one person being pampered so much and enjoying so much favouritism. This man must be put down.” The courtiers hatched a plan. It so happened that whenever this minister went on an errand for his duties, he used to ride a camel. In Persia camels were used for riding. Whenever Darius went, he used to carry a small box which was tied behind him. Nobody knew what this box contained. Every day he carried this box.

The courtiers found out and thought he was a thief: “The king thinks that Darius is a very wonderful man. What is this he is carrying every day?” They went to the king and said, “My Lord, Your Highness, you are thoroughly mistaken. This fellow is a rogue. He has come to deceive you.”

“Why? What do you mean?” asked the king.

“We will tell you. Have you observed that every day he carries a trunk with him? Wherever he goes, there is a trunk behind him. What is it that he's carrying? Such a secret thing he is carrying; nobody can open it, and he doesn't show it to anybody. He carries the most valuable treasures of your kingdom, and he doesn't want to leave it at home so that others may come and investigate. So whenever he goes, he takes that box with him. Ask him to bring the box and let him open it in your presence. You will see the truth of it.”

The king was shocked. “Darius is like this? I never thought so. It cannot be. Oh, I can't believe it.”

Then the courtiers brought the king and said, “See. This is the trunk on the camel's back.”

The king did not believe his eyes. Anyhow, when ten people say a thing we cannot simply refuse or deny it. The king called the minister and said, “My dear friend, can you just show me what is inside the box?”

Darius immediately sensed what had happened. This had never been uttered by the king up to this time. He said, “Your Highness, it is a wonderful treasure,” and he brought it down and opened it before the courtiers. “Here is the treasure of the kingdom, my friends, for which you have been after me.” Inside were his old, tattered shepherd clothes he had worn once upon a time when he was a boy. He told the king and the courtiers, “This is my real property. This I really am, even today. I am quitting this palace today, Your Highness. Enough of your hospitality for me.” He took the clothes, and left the palace. “I realise this condition of mine, and I have come to that condition, and I am leaving.” He put on those tattered clothes before all people, and left the palace. But then, of course, God blessed him. God would not leave him like that, and he became king afterwards.

Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj was fond of this story, and it was also published in the Divine Life Magazine to show where we stand and what can happen to us. Let no one imagine that he is safe and secure in this world – not you, not me, not anyone else, not even a grandfather. No one can be secure ultimately. Not even a Napoleon was secure, not even a Caesar. No one was secure in this world. Everyone has his day, and it is wisdom on the part of everyone to be ready for the blessings of God that may come in any form we like. But it is essential we should be honest in this attitude of ours.

This again has a special relevance to people in the Ashram who are likely to become misguided by their own minds due to the facilities which are provided to them for their sadhana. The facilities that are provided to sadhakas in this Ashram are for the sadhana that they have to practise. Suppose they have no food to eat and have to go to a kshetra in Rishikesh every day; then half the day is lost only in going and coming. So Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj thought, “This is no good. Let me help them. Let them be here itself and do their sadhana for the whole day.” So you are given food here, and you need not go to a kshetra. But once upon a time, when Swami Sivananda was here, everyone had to go to the kshetra to eat the dry bread, and return and work here. There was no kitchen in the Ashram. The only person who did not go to the kshetra was Swamiji. A disciple used to bring the food for him and heat the roti again, and give it to him. And we have a library. Can you get a book anywhere else? No one will give you a book to read, but you have got everything here, all the best books of the world in philosophy and religion. You need not beg for food, you need not beg for books, you need not beg for clothes, you need not beg for rooms. You live like kings, by God's grace. But this opportunity has to be properly put to use for the purpose for which it was given to you.

Remember the story of the Bible where a master gave some money to two of his servants. One man prospered, another man misused it, and the master came and reprimanded the person who misused it. God has blessed us with comfort so that we may glorify Him and proclaim His greatness to all the world, and remember Him in our souls and hearts. The story of the talents, as it is called in the New Testament, is an indication and a pointer to our own personal lives. God will tell us afterwards, “Foolish man, I gave you all facilities. How did you use it?” When the master came back and asked the servants what they had done with the talents they had been given, one man said, “I buried it in the earth.” So are we going to say that? Another man squandered it, enjoyed it, but the third man put it to proper use.

This parable of Christ is meant for every one of us. What have you done with the facilities that have been provided to you by Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj? So much comfort, unthinkable comfort, you may say, you have got. Are you progressing in spirituality, or are you getting tarnished, rusted and worn out by envy and the surfeit of amenities? The law of karma is inexorable, and cannot be defied. It is like the law of gravitation, and applies to every person. It is not for the poor man only, but also for the rich man. It is for the minister, the king, the emperor, for everybody. Just as the law of gravitation holds good equally for all, so does the law of karma. The law of karma is only another name for the moral law of gravitation. The physical law is called gravitation and the moral law is called karma, but the way in which the law works is the same, and if our existence in this world is not in consonance with the law operating in the world, we shall be taken to task by that law. That is called the nemesis of karma. That is what causes our transmigration, birth and death.

So every day when we get up in the morning we must make a resolution in our minds that we shall accept the least and give the most, as far as possible. It is this that will please God: accept the least and give the most possible. This is the way to salvation. If we accept the most and give the least, nothing can be more blunderous than that. We ask for everything. “I want this, I want that. Give this, give that,” but we give nothing. This is not tolerated by the law of karma, and it is a very dangerous attitude to have. The mills of God grind very, very slowly but very finely. God will not take action immediately. He is always very considerate, very compassionate. If you do one mistake, “All right, let us think. Next time you will be all right.” Another time you make a mistake, “All right, let us see.” The third time you make a mistake He will tell you, “Three times you have made a mistake. Please do not do it.” Then the fourth time you have made a mistake, “I have told you not to make a mistake. Again you have done it.” He will tell it in some other way. If you make the mistake a fifth time, then He'll say, “See, something will happen to you if you don't rectify yourself.” Then He will open His eyes. The sixth time you make the mistake He will send a small pinprick. Not a severe thunderbolt – that He does not send. He is so good. Nobody can be so good as God. The thunderbolt does not come immediately.

In the Mahabharata there is the story of Lord Krishna speaking to Duryodhana. Krishna never took action suddenly. Always very considerate, friendly words were spoken. “My dear friend, why do you torture these brothers? Why don't you give them their share?”

“No, I will not give them anything,” Duryodhana said.

“Please, for heaven's sake, give them their share. It is not dharma, it is not justice to see your brothers suffering like this,” Krishna said.

“No,” he said. “Nothing doing. You mind your business.”

Then Krishna said, “All right. You need not give their whole share. Will you give them at least a little fraction of their share? Even that will do for them. Can you give only five villages?”

“No, I will not give even that. I shall not give even five villages. Even one village I will not give,” Duryodhana replied. Even that little considerate request was refused. Then of course the tension grew more and more, and we know what God Himself did in His incarnation as Lord Krishna.

When God pounds a man, He will pound him to dust, and nobody can save him afterwards. It is called the simha-neeti of Lord Krishna. Simha-neeti means like a lion. A lion will simply keep quiet. If you throw a stone at it, it will not do anything. It will simply look at it. One stone, two stones, three stones. The lion will not get up like that because you pelt a stone at it, but once it gets up, nobody can save you. Not all the powers can save you when the lion gets up. This is what the lion of Krishna did. It simply kept quiet. But once it got up, it saw things to its end. This is what God will do to every one of us, and He does it through transmigration.

So, as it is said, the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge. If you do not fear God, it means you have no knowledge of what God can do to you. Nobody can be so good as He, and nobody can be so stern as He. He is the most compassionate mother but also, at the same time, a very strict judge. Both of these are combined in God.

Serious is life, and to realise this seriousness we have come to Sivananda Ashram, at the feet of Master Swami Sivananda, who has done everything necessary for us. We cannot find a Guru like Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. Very few are there in this world who are so generous, so vast-hearted, so good, so pardoning and tolerating, and we will not find such freedom as we have in this Ashram anywhere else, in any other institution. This freedom is given to us not that we may misuse it, but that we may not feel hampered, cramped or humiliated in every step of our life.

The freedom that is enjoyed by the inmates of the Ashram is to be used for spiritual progress. If that facility is not made use of, we shall be untrue to Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj and untrue to the grace of God itself, and we have to offer daily prayers from the bottom of our hearts to the Almighty that if we have done any such mistake, may we be pardoned for it: “From tomorrow onwards, I shall be all right. I shall do only the right, and I shall lead an austere life. I shall accept only what is a bare necessity for my life.”

As a matter of fact, we have no right to accept anything more than the bare necessities of life. You cannot keep ten coats and five wristwatches and four transistors in your room. It is criminal. Who asked you to keep it? You do not need all these things. You want two morsels of rice, two pieces of bread, and a cup of milk perhaps. Okay, all right. You may keep two blankets, but why do you keep more than that?

So a decision and a determination has to be made within oneself: “I shall accept the least from the Ashram, from the public, from God Himself.” Do not take the bounties. Even Lord Yama's blessings were rejected by Nachiketas. Though all the three worlds were given as a boon to Nachiketas, he said, “Take it back. I do not want it.” If such things come to us, will we accept them or not? All the three worlds were rejected by that small boy called Nachiketas. And who was Nachiketas? He was only a small sadhaka like us, but he was made of stern stuff. He came to ask for the knowledge of the soul. We also come for that, but are we made of the same stuff as Nachiketas? Can we reject the three worlds if they are offered to us? The purpose for which we have come is the same, but the purpose is not properly put to use on account of miscalculation, torpidity of mind, the preponderance of tamas and rajas, and an over-activity of the sense organs. So let us guard ourselves against it and take to a truly honest life of spiritual aspiration. When this is assured in our life, we will be able to take to the right process of meditation.

Now we come to the actual technique of meditation. What will be meditated upon when we sit for meditation? The object of our meditation will be decided by each one's mantra. Whether one has been initiated into a mantra by a Guru, or by the inherent temperamental longing for a particular form or aspect of deity which one may be entertaining in one's own mind, whatever be the concept of God, it makes no difference ultimately. We may be a devotee of Krishna or Siva or Devi or Surya or Christ, or we may be a Zen Buddhist meditator. It is quite all right. There is nothing wrong with these techniques. Every technique is equally good, but what makes it a right activity of the spirit and a chosen method of meditation is that it is a process of self-integration. All methods of meditation are processes of self-integration as opposed to self-dissipation or distraction. The energies of the senses are diverted back from their outward course inwardly towards the soul. That is what is done in meditation. Our energies are diverted from the sense objects towards the soul. I need not explain what the soul is because you all know from your study of the Upanishads and the Bhagavadgita what the soul and the Self ultimately are. To such a mighty being, the soul that we are, the energies are directed in the spiritual activity we call meditation.

What happens when we meditate? It is difficult to explain. Your hair will stand on end if you just imagine what will happen when energies get diverted from sense objects towards the soul within. It is impossible to describe it in words. You will simply get roused into a sense of power from within, within even half an hour sitting for meditation, provided it is done according to the prescribed method or technique.

The energies that are wasted come back to you. You are replenished and given a tremendous tonic, as it were. When you are given a tonic, you feel energised. The energies that are depleted come back to you by some method. All the energy going to sense action is blocked, and turned back towards our self. Then we grow mighty in intellect, in memory, in understanding, in the sense of righteousness, virtue and justice, and even in our concept of the aspiration for God. All these get energised and ignite into a new light and lustre. Actually do this and see, because this is a thing to be done and seen. There is no use merely listening to it or talking about it because you have to eat the food to know what will happen to you when you eat it. By merely listening to a discourse on lunch, you cannot understand what lunch means. Eat it, and then you will know what it is, what difference it makes to you. Such a difference will be made to us when we actually enter into this majesty of the spirit called meditation.

First of all, we are supposed to relax ourselves. Sit in a comfortable posture. This is very important to remember. We use a comfortable posture, not a tense posture, so that we are not conscious of it, sthira sukham asanam (Y.S. 2.46). We are seated in a very easy and comfortable posture, in such a way that we need not bestow thought upon the posture because our thought is to be bestowed on something else. This is precisely the reason why we have to sit in such a comfortable posture. That is one thing.

Then the second thing is to relax one's nerves, one's emotions and one's mind. Meditation is relaxation. Meditation gives us the satisfaction of sleep, and much more. In sleep we are fully relaxed, and that relaxation comes to us in meditation also. We relax ourselves, but this relaxing process should not be another kind of effort on our part. We should not put forth effort to relax ourselves because that would not be relaxation. Relaxation is spontaneity, and not any kind of exertion on our part. Now, what does this mean? We can become relaxed only when we come nearer to our own soul. The more we are away from our soul or Self, the more we are tense, the more we are artificial. The more we move towards our Self, the more we are relaxed. Ātmasaṁsthaṁ manaḥ kṛtvā na kiṁcid api cintayet (B.G. 6.25): Having centred the mind in the Self, do not think anything else, says the Bhagavadgita. Yato yato niścarati manaś cañcalam asthiram, tatas tato niyamyaitad ātmanyeva vaśaṁ nayet (B.G. 6.26): As and when the mind moves outwardly to the object of sense in meditation, at that very moment gradually try to bring it back to the centre from which it has moved out, as a rider on a horse gradually controls the horse by holding its reins.

Selected verses of the Bhagavadgita may be taken as themes for meditation. There are slokas or verses in the Bhagavadgita suited to every aspirant. There are different themes for a bhakta or devotee, a jnanin, and a raja yogin. Raja yogins may prefer to study the Sixth Chapter of the Bhagavadgita thoroughly, as the Sixth Chapter is precisely meant for raja yogic techniques of meditation. The Eleventh and Twelfth Chapters are meant for two types of devotees, para and apara. Those who are para bhaktas will be able to enjoy the majesty of the Eleventh Chapter. We are not para bhaktas, we are all small fry, but I am just mentioning the very advanced type of devotion, which is the subject of the Eleventh Chapter. But the minor conditions of bhakti are mentioned in the Twelfth Chapter. Those who are intent upon performing yoga as divine action in the world would be benefitted by the Second and Third Chapters, and the jnanin yogins would be benefitted by the Thirteenth Chapter, and also by many places in the Eighteenth Chapter.

Each one can select one's own group of verses or passages for meditation from the Bhagavadgita, the Upanishads, and from any other favourite scripture. The theme for meditation is the theme for self-control and maintenance of God-awareness. There are two processes in meditation: self-control on one side, and awareness of the presence of God on the other side. They go side by side. It is not that one precedes the other or one succeeds the other. We restrain ourselves, and then maintain a consciousness of God's presence. This is meditation because when God's presence is maintained, the senses have to be restrained automatically; and when the senses are restrained, God-consciousness also becomes easy of entertaining. That is, two things must be done in meditation: the restraint of the senses, and an attempt at maintaining a consciousness of God as you conceive Him according to your own chosen path. Karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga, jnana yoga are the main methods of meditation.

Now, there is something common to all methods of meditation, namely, the psychological technique of self-integration, as I mentioned, which is very important to remember, and it is only this that will give us strength psychologically. All the objects of sense that are outside in the world take our energies. Suggest to yourself, “Now I draw my energy back. I have drawn the energy back. All that I have lost is coming to me now. I take back my energies.” Punar mametu indriyam is a mantra from the Manusmriti: “My indriya shakti, return to me. All the energy that I have lost from my childhood, may all these energies come back to me.” This is not merely a foolish statement but a real suggestion for the growth of energy and the return of power to us. “Whatever energies and powers I have lost through misunderstanding and misconduct on my part, may these energies come back to me.”

Chant Om for a few minutes, and again repeat, “May all these energies return to me.” And chant Om thinking, “The source of energy is God. Irresistible, inexhaustible force of energy is God. How can I lose my energy? It is all there. I have only forgotten it. It has come back to me. I am morally pure, intellectually bright, emotionally stable, psychologically balanced, and spiritually aspiring. I am a humble follower of Master Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Gurudev. May his blessings be upon me. May God have a kind eye upon me. I am a humble child on the path of the spirit. Many mistakes have I committed, many mistakes I am committing even today, and even in the future I may commit the same mistakes on account of blindfolded eyes. God bless me. Gurudev keep an eye upon me.” These prayers should be in our hearts always, and we must be honestly humble. The humility should be genuine, an honest assumption of humility, goodness, purity, and repentance on our part. This is very, very important. Repent for the mistakes you have done in the past, and resolve not to commit them again.

Swamiji Maharaj has told us many other detailed methods in his books such as Sadhana, Sure Ways of Success in Life and God-realisation, Conquest of Mind, Practice of Yoga, which are all to be studied thoroughly. Every sadhaka who is aspiring for meditation and spiritual life should study these books thoroughly. Through these methods we should purify ourselves. Repent for the past, and ask God the Almighty for forgiveness for all these mistakes you have committed. Seek pardon for the mistakes, and make a resolution that in future you will not commit them. “I have done some mistake by ignorance, but in future I will not do it. I take a vow that in future I shall not do it.” This is the greatest remedy for past mistakes: repentance, and not continuing it again. God will bless us.

Thus, we shall hope to be benefitted by our little, humble effort for the real good, sreyas, of the soul that we are, and the soul that everyone is. May my prayer for these humble souls be answered by our compassionate God!