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Meditation – Part 3
by Swami Krishnananda

About meditation... It was occupying my mind continuously. Who is meditating? And on what are we meditating? The reason for meditating on anything is to make that thing one's own. That thing on which we are meditating should be under our possession. There is no use meditating on anything over which we have no control. We have no control over anything in the world because all things are outside us. Everyone is outside everyone else. Everything is external; nothing is inside us.

Yoga meditation is supposed to be a method to rectify this uncontrollable existence of thinking in the world. It is a union with what you are meditating upon. How can union be possible if that thing is totally outside you? There is someone sitting here. How can I be in union with him? Is it possible? If I am able to unite myself with him, I myself will become him; I will not be Swami Krishnananda any more. The reason why such a union is necessary is that everyone is incomplete. The belief is that when there is union on the thing on which we are meditating, the incompleteness vanishes and the gap caused by that incompleteness is filled in by that thing on which we are meditating—it completes our being. The being of our own self which is incomplete is filled in and made complete by the being of that on which we are meditating.

This question is deeply studied in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which is a master technique of yoga practice. Does it mean that meditation is thinking some object? Everybody is meditating. The mind is thinking something, but that something is outside the mind. Already it has been pointed out that anything that is outside will be of no use at all. The mind thinks that which is not within itself; it is outside. It is trying to possess what is not in itself. It is trying to possess what is outside itself. The thing that makes it outside will prevent it from getting united with oneself. There is what is called space, which distinguishes me from others. There is a big gap of space. As long as space exists, one thing cannot be another thing. The very meaning of space is 'creates distance'. Everywhere it creates distance. It separates one thing from another thing.

In the Upanishads, we are told that when creation took place the first thing that manifested itself was space. There was a distorting, scattering, externalising activity that took place through everything—pell-mell, here, there, in all places; that is creation. It is like breaking up a family. Family members are united. Whatever is the number of family members, they very lovingly live together in unison. Then some catastrophe takes place, and each member is thrown to distant places so that one member cannot even see any other. This is what has happened in creation. We are not competent to ask why this has happened, because we are the product of this happening. A product or an effect cannot question the cause of which it is a product. It is like trying to climb on one's own shoulders, or like seeing through one's back.

Therefore the great yogi, Patanjali, says one cannot achieve anything by meditating in the sense of thinking some object outside. In one majestic sutra he explains the whole situation. Patanjali does not write volumes of books; he writes ten words. In these ten words, the whole thing is said: bahir-akalpitā vṛttiḥ mahā-videhā tataḥ prakāśa-āvaraṇa-kṣayaḥ (Y.S. 3.43). This is a sutra which nobody studies. People think of yama, niyama, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, and all that, but they do not know what is this meditation.

What are you doing when you are meditating? You may do pranayama, asana, and hatha yoga, do whatever it is, but the final purpose is meditation. What do you do? Don't say, “I am thinking God.” If God is an outside object, you cannot possess him. The whole trouble about life is outsideness. I can never become a real friend of someone if he is an outside object. To consider anything as outside oneself is a kind of insult. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says, sarvaṁ tam parādād yo'nyatrātmano sarvaṁ veda: Everything will desert you and run away from you if you consider anything as outside you. If you consider someone as outside you, he will run away from you; he will never look at you afterwards. Everything will run away from you. “Oh, he is considering me as an object. I will never go to this person in future. I will run away.” There is nothing so bad in the world as to be regarded as an object of somebody. 'Object' means you are considering it as a servant, a menial whom you have to use for your personal purpose. Who will tolerate that kind of attitude?

The things in the world are not inanimate, dead things. They have intelligence. Even a stone will vibrate and react according to your wish. The outsideness of a thing is a kind of insult to that thing. Everything will run away; everything will desert you. Even this body will desert you one day, let alone family and wealth, and all this. You are thinking even this body is a kind of object, because you can see it with the sense organs. Anything that can be seen with the sense organs is an object. The body also is an object only. It also cannot stand; it will be rejected by the Atman.

So what does Patanjali say? There are two kinds of mental function. They are called kalpita vritti and akalpita vritti. Kalpita vritti means imagining something as existing. Imagination also is a function of the mind. There is a vritti, a mode of thought, which acts like a mould into which it tries to cast the form of the object. This is why there is desire for objects. When an object is desired, it is not possessed. The mind foolishly converts itself into a mould into which the shape of the object is cast. So the mind thinks the shape of the object, and when it thinks the shape of the object, it foolishly thinks that the object is possessed. The object cannot be possessed, because it is outside. Every desire will be defeated; there will be frustration. Nobody has gained anything in the world by desiring a thing. Even if it is sitting on your head, it is not your property. That which is on your head is not your property because it is outside; you can shake it off, and it will fall down. Even if you hold some valuable thing tightly in your hand, it is not your possession because it is outside. You can open your hand and it falls. If the object is inseparable from your very being, it will not go.

Is there anything in the world which is inseparable from us? Everything is separable, everything is chaos, and there is a foolish hunting for those things which cannot become our property. We can get nothing in this world. Every item leaves us, and then we have to go weeping one day—the whole thing is gone. This is because space cuts off one thing from another thing. Great thinkers and philosophers in the West have, in their desperate mood, concluded that reality cannot be contacted by the mind, because the mind thinks of that which is outside it, and reality is all-pervading—therefore the mind cannot contact it.

The mould into which the form of the object is cast does not assure possession of that object. Some think, “So much money is there somewhere; large heaps of currency notes are there. So many millions of dollars and rupees, mountain-like they are heaped up in front of me.” Go on thinking; the mind will take the shape of that heap of currency notes and you yourself will become the currency notes, as it were. But you will never get it. That is called kalpita vritti—imaginary thinking. Though there is a satisfaction even in this, it is a foolish satisfaction. You bathe yourself every day with liquid cash, but it will still not become yours. The water which you pour on your body while bathing does not become your property; it goes out afterwards. So you may pour the most costly things in the world on your body, but they will not be yours. People put on gold chain, gold ring, and they think they are becoming very beautiful. They are not becoming beautiful; they are the same old people even with the ornaments. The gold chain can go, the earring can go, the anklet can go—everything goes, and afterwards what has happened? The anklet, or ring, or gold chain has not become part of your body. This is imagination which gives a false satisfaction of having possessed the gold chain. A gold chain is on the neck, and a person is very happy. “See, I have a gold chain.” You don't have the chain; it is outside only. The chain does not become your property merely because it is hanging on the neck—nothing of the kind.

All these things are called imaginations. All our joys and satisfactions in life are only imaginations, and imagination seems to be working and bringing some joy wrongly, because the mould takes the shape of that object. It is the shape cast into the mould of this mind that makes one feel that we have got the object. But the object is far away; only the shape of it has been cast into the mould. Here is the mistake in thinking any object.

But there is another vritti of the mind, called akalpita vritti—not imagining that something is there; it is you yourself. Can anybody think with a stretch of imagination that what is thought by the mind is yourself only? This is a new kind of thinking. Who on earth can do this kind of thought, meditation? Everything that is outside you will run away from you; it is already mentioned—sarvam tam paradad yo'anyatratmana sarvam veda. But that which is yourself will not run away. That which is yourself is the Self—call it Atman, whatever it is. If something can become yourself, it will not run away from you. But if it is there as an object of seeing, perceiving, contacting through the senses, it will run away because it is outside. Nobody likes to hear that the person is outside that person. Nobody likes to be discarded; it is a very hopeless thing, and nobody, even a dog, would like to be discarded. Even a tree will not tolerate it. It will vibrate. It can find out your feelings.

So, bahir-akalpitā vṛttiḥ mahā-videhā tataḥ prakāśa-āvaraṇa-kṣayaḥ. We are spiritual seekers. We are not here to play jokes with yoga meditation. We are not here to merely live in a fool's paradise, as they call it, that everything is getting on: “I am doing so much japa, and taking bath many times. I ring the bell, and read that book.” All these are part of kalpita vritti. The japa has not entered you; the book is outside you; the bell is also outside; the arti is outside; the god whom you are worshipping is also outside only—but it looks as if something is happening to you. You are very happy because the image of that object—whether the bell, arti, book, scripture, whatever it is—is cast into the mould of that mind which foolishly thinks it has possessed it. Neither have you possessed the book, nor the bell, nor the arti, nor even the deity—everything is outside you only. But you have an idea, an imagination that “it has come into me”. It is like kshya. The kshya or the reflection, as it were, of the object is cast into the mould of the mind and is made to think that it is okay. Such as in cinema only kshya is seen there, but it looks like a solid object, three-dimensional. People are moving about and talking to you. There is nobody talking; it is only a flat screen and a flat shadow falling on it.

In the same way, a rather flat reflection of things outside—even if it is a religious thought, it makes no difference—again it is a kshya only; it will not bring satisfaction. That's why people who have done so much japa, so much tapasya and all that—they are unsatisfied people, miserable. They go here, there, from place to place. When everything fails—japa has failed, meditation has failed, nobody wants to talk to you, you have lived 50-60 years of life with this kind of routine, nothing happens—then the neglect which has been shown to the true self inside reacts and revolts and creates a situation of imaginary importance by moving about, propagating, doing propaganda of one's own self, making friends and groups and communities of one's own self, and having thousands disciples. When you walk on the road, a thousand disciples will follow you. One thousand disciples are following you—how great you are! But the thousand disciples are outside you. You are a simple, petty nothing even if one thousand are behind you. When everything goes—japa doesn't work, nothing works—you create disciples and then go all over the world, travelling in jet planes and all that. Oh, a great man has come! He is only a petty man; nothing is there except people who can desert him at any moment.

Gurus have been deserted and condemned by disciples for a little thing which they cannot accommodate with them. They pooh-pooh, criticise and denigrate the Guru, because they want the Guru to behave in a manner which is according to their instinct. Otherwise, how long will this Guru cater to the instincts of the disciples? A little thing and “Oh, the Guru is harassing me.” One man came and told me this. Every day he comes and sits here. He went to a Guru. What is the good of going there? I asked him, “What is the trouble?” “I don't want to be harassed,” he said. I said, “Who is harassing you?” “Oh, the Guru is harassing.” “What kind of thought do you have about the Guru? Why does he harass you?” Some kink in the head of this man, some way of thinking that he has got would not tally with that Guru. The disciple is supposed to think like the Guru, but now they want the Guru to think like the disciple. Otherwise the Guru is condemned and is nothing everywhere. Hopeless number one! You reject the man completely and won't talk to the Guru afterwards.

This is the tragedy of spiritual seekers. Meditation has gone, japa has gone, purushcharana—the whole thing, throw dirt on it—then you become a very important pontiff. Your name will come in the papers that you are doing such a miracle, you have opened hospitals. When everything fails they start hospitals and schools and all that, everywhere. So many schools and colleges he has opened, and so many hospitals, so much food he gives to poor people. This is also a tragedy of life—we started with something and ended with something else; somewhere going, everybody laughing. Shakespeare writes in one place that gods are laughing at human beings. Gods play with human beings as children play with flies. Such is our status—a total misconception. We don't like anything. Why can't we like anything? Because everything is outside—it wants to run away from us. The Guru will run away and the disciple will run away. Money will run away. Everything will go away and nothing will be there—an empty shell. Only space will be there, which God created first. What remains finally is only empty space—the whole substance has gone.

So, to come to the point of meditation according to Patanjali: this tragedy will not take place if you honestly feel the being of that thing as your being only. You can take any object for your meditation—it will speak. There was one yogi. He is not alive. And Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky whose name you must have heard—a Russian leader and a founder of the Theosophical Society—had this identifying power. If you go on thinking the table, it will lift up. If there is a flower, it will move because you have become the flower. You cannot lift anything unless it is you. You cannot lift even the leg of an elephant—one leg—but the elephant lifts itself completely. Can anybody lift an elephant? But how is it lifting itself and walking? It can do so because it is itself. But for you, the elephant is outside, you so it cannot come under your control. Lord Krishna lifted the mountain. He did not lift any mountain; he lifted his own hand, that's all. He was one with all things. The mountain was himself only, so when he lifted the mountain he was lifting his own hand. What is the difficulty in lifting his hand? The elephant also can lift its limb. But if the mountain is outside him, then nothing can be done.

The whole world will come to you, provided you are the whole world. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says, yasyānuvittaḥ pratibuddha ātmāsmin saṁdehye gahane praviṣṭaḥ, sa viśva-kṛt, sa hi sarvasya kartā, tasya lokaḥ sa u loka eva (B.U. 4.4.13): This world becomes not only yours, you become the universe. Birth and death, the tragedy of transmigration, coming and going, is caused by the spatial isolation of ourselves from the universal existence. Creation has damaged us completely, and cast us out as a spatial object. We are suffering; we are really suffering. Everybody is suffering. From Indra, devatas, down to ants and insects—everybody is suffering. Misery is the name of life because everybody is cast off by the spatial, externalising process. Creation has to recreate integration now; evolution has to become involution. You withdraw yourself back to the original source, from being an effect of a cause. You become the very thing from where you have come. You have come from the physical elements—from earth, you become the very earth itself; you become the very water itself; you become fire itself; you become air itself; you become space itself. You become space, time and causation yourself. You become death itself. Mṛtyur yasyopasecanaṁ (K.U. 1.1.25). It is mentioned in a humorous way in the Katha Upanishad that the Great Being uses mrityu (death) as achar (condiment) for its diet. Who can eat mrityu? But you yourself are mrytu, so why are you afraid of it? If mrityu is outside, you are afraid of it. A transformation taking place inside your own self is mrityu. “Nothing is outside me; all things are myself only.” This is called akalpita vritti, where the consciousness or the thought identifies itself with the very object and the object becomes the thought, the thought becomes the object. You and I are one.

Then your face will shine. Everybody will know that here is a special person. Namaskar—they will do namaskar. Even without knowing who you are they will do namaskar. There is something resplendent in your face. It is told in the Chhandogya Upanishad that there was a disciple called Upakosala. His teacher did not pay much attention to him; he went away on a journey. But he was such a great tapasvin that gods took pity on him. The divinities came and taught him the secret of the universe. His face started shining. When he came back home the Guru had returned from his journey. “How is it, Upakosala, that your face is shining today? Who taught you?” “Someone who is not a human being,” he said. Gods took the shape of a bird, a bull, etc., and taught him the whole truth of the universe. Gods will help you even now. The Yoga Vasishtha says that all the quarters of heaven are ready to serve you. All the quarters of space will bend before you. All the gods superintending over the quarters of the whole creation will bend before you. Meditate that you are the All.

It is not again the mistake of imagining the shadow of the All—that is kalpita vritti. I told you this sutra of Patanjali is very difficult. You can imagine you are the All, and the All is outside only. You can think, “I am Akbar Balshah,” but you won't become Akbar Balshah by that thinking. The mind should not think the object; it has to become the object. When you feel that the five elements are yourself, you are in savitarka samadhi, as Patanjali calls it. The feeling is that there is a shape of the five elements, and the name also is there of five elements, and you have become the mighty five elements yourself. You are the entire earth, and all water, space, time—everything is yourself only. This is savitarka samadhi. It is not thinking the five elements; you have become the elements themselves. You are the heavy earth itself. When you walk, you will feel that the whole earth is moving—heavy, heavy earth. You will feel heavy, heavy. Hanuman became very heavy, they say. He could break everything. How did he become heavy? He was a great yogi. The whole earth entered into him and he became heavy like the earth. Hanuman broke everything. From where did he get the strength and the weight? He got it because he was one with the five elements. The whole earth was sitting inside, and crushed everything underground. Such was the strength of Hanuman.

That is yoga. Yoga is not simply imagining, “I am doing something. I am a very busy man; I have no time. I am going here and there, going on pilgrimage.” Nothing will work. If you play with life and go on chatting, saying all kinds of stupid things, whatever you like, and eat and sleep, and go here and there, miserable will be your fate finally, and the purpose of your coming here will be a waste. Maya is terrible; it won't allow you. It pulls you back: “Don't go.” The earth pulls you. The gravitational field will pull you down to the earth and will not allow you to go up beyond the gravitational line. For that, uddhared atmanatmanam—the gravitation of the higher self should pull this lower self into itself, and you must cross this gravitational field of the earth and fly in the skies, as it were. That is yoga and meditation. But we are caught up in this body, this person which is raga-dvesha, so the meditation doesn't come.

So, I mentioned to you, briefly, the great hidden meaning of a few words of Patanjali's sutra, bahir-akalpitā vṛttiḥ—transfer yourself to that on which you are meditating; that's all. He's telling only one sentence. Transfer yourself to anything. Even to heaven, even to Brahma-loka you can transfer yourself immediately. You become Brahma-loka yourself, and then see what happens. But don't hesitate. Don't have any suspicion: “Oh, it is not possible. I am not meant for it.” Then you will not be meant for it. “It is possible for me. If Hanuman could achieve that, I can too. If Lord Krishna lifted the mountain, I also will do it. If not today, tomorrow. One day I must do it.” Like Buddha said: “Let the bones break; I will not get up. I will achieve it and go.”

The mind, though it is so tricky, so very treacherous and unreliable, it has also the great force and potentiality to pull you up, because the higher Atman is working inside us also. The purified mind is the higher Atman; the impure mind is the lower Atman. So uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ (BG 6.5): You are your friend. Bandhur ātmātmanas tasya (BG 6.6): Your friend is yourself; nobody else is your friend. What is the meaning of saying “you are your own friend”? The higher being, which is pulling you up, is your friend. The lower being, which will pull you down, is your enemy. So each one has to find out where one is pulled—this way or that way. A little sutra: bahir-akalpitā vṛttiḥ mahā-videhā tataḥ. You become disembodied in your meditation and the worlds, gods, will protect you always. You are not merely the possessor of the world, you are the world. When it's said, “you are the world”, you have become the Visvarupa yourself, and Visvarupa doesn't want any property; He doesn't want anything. He himself is all things. This is samadhi, actually. There are so many stages of samadhi: savitarka, nirvitarka, savichara, nirvicara, sananda samapatti. It is impossible to think that such states are above you. Seven stages of rising until you become the supreme Absolute itself.

Every day you must do this work. Don't waste your time. When you have something to do, do the seva. Afterwards be alone to yourself. Don't talk to any person. Why do you want friends? Who are these friends? What kind of friends? Who is going to help you? Today they say one thing; tomorrow they will condemn you. Today's friend is tomorrow's enemy. This is all no good. You should not hang yourself on anybody. You are your own friend; you are your own enemy. You have come alone; you will go alone. Be careful. Nobody is yours, here. So trust in that Great Being who is always with you. Suhṛdaḿ sarva-bhūtānāḿ jñātvā māḿ śāntim ṛcchati (BG 5.29). “Remember, I am your friend,” Lord Krishna says. “I will come to you.” Trust in it and be at peace.