Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Blessed spiritual friends, this evening I have a very nice topic for you and the topic is meditation. Meditation for what? The question comes in our minds. There are those people who feel and they have been proclaiming that meditation is a way to self realization and for fusion of individual awareness with the highest awareness. But in my humble opinion I feel that this aim for meditation is to high and I think that this is an outcome of the psychological error in human minds.

Meditation is for self-realization, but I think very few people can teach, and very few people can learn, and much less can practice. Until the mind is sound and healthy, the subliminal inhibitions, the errors of personality are completely remedied, it is not at all advisable for one to take to the practices for the expansion of Cosmic Consciousness. Otherwise it tends to what I should call self hypnotism.

When I discuss this evening about Yoga it is in relation to individual welfare, the human welfare. I do not know anything about the Divine Awareness nor do I care for it and if at all I do, not at least in your midst. The spiritual awareness may be the sumum bonum of life but it is too early for us to think because we are not keeping healthy, our minds are ill, we are suffering from chronic illness and not only the physical diseases but also the mental.

There are people in our unfortunate world who are suffering from physical maladies but at the same time there are people in our so called fortunate world, our so called prosperous and advanced world, who are also suffering from chronic mental illness about which they are as ignorant as the people of the poor countries are. We are not aware what are the psychological errors, what are the deep rooted tensions and afflictions which are guiding our destiny and which are guiding what we call human behaviour.

The individual affliction, the tortures and the pains, the subliminal pains that are in our life, are guiding the destiny of the world. The restlessness throughout the world is an outcome of the sickness in man's mind. In order to cure this sickness there should be some way. In order to develop a healthy environment in the society and community and family and also in the mind of the individual, there should be some method.

Religions have failed, the economic programs have also failed, to give peace to mankind and to solve the problems of the individual, the community and the society because the problem starts with the individual and the problems can be dissolved with the individual. Individual is the nucleus of most of the problems that are before us. It is with this background that I have for you meditation.

In case you agree that meditation is a science of mind and not a science of God. If you agree that meditation is a system for the reorientation of human personality as a whole and not a meta physics. And if you agree that meditation is a system through which we can root out the individual plan, the unseen afflictions, the tensions that are around us, in muscular body, mental body and emotional body, then let us go ahead with the subject.

You know very well that our behaviour, our thinking, our action and our reactions are guided by the soul, by the consciousness. And this consciousness is not pure, it works in association with the atmosphere, environment, conditions and so on, as a result on top of that, tensions pile up in the different spheres of our personality and we do not know and as a result of that we suffer from insomnia, inhibitions, juvenile delinquencies, sexual anarchies, hatred, restlessness, anxiety, worry and what not, even amidst the sexes, on account of coronary thrombosis. And then we look for tranquillity and then we look for peace but the peace does not come from outside and the tranquillity cannot be introduced, it is unfoldment but we do not know the real unfoldment.

Meditation is a system by which we are able to get rid of the tensions and at the same time we are able to analyse the deep rooted psychological error by different processes. I am so sorry to tell you, after surveying the movement of meditation throughout the world, that people do not know what meditation is for the human life. People think that the concentration of mind on a particular point is meditation, it is not. People feel that to develop the awareness inward is meditation, it is not that.

Classically and scientifically meditation is classified into two parts, and meditation has got everything to do with consciousness, the consciousness that is empirical and the consciousness that is internal, the consciousness that perceives the world and the consciousness that is unable to perceive world. This consciousness in man is the subject of meditation. And if the meditation is to be achieved, the first process in meditation is relaxation and remember the word, meditation begins with relaxation. It is not the relaxation which we think that to lie down quietly, close your eyes and feel that you are becoming lighter and happier and so on, not this method of auto-suggestions, this is the hypnotic method. Find out the method of Yoga and that is called relaxation.

In Yoga a process of withdrawal is the process of relaxation. What Patanjali calls Pratyahara or withdrawal of external consciousness or an act of withdrawal of external consciousness or an act of disassociation of your consciousness from the objects outside, that is relaxation, but then this relaxation can not be complete unless you have the relaxation in the system.

Now let us discuss, before you proceed with the topic relaxation, 'what to you mean by tensions?' They are physical and they are mental and at the same time they are emotional. Faulty secretions in the endocrinal system can cause tensions, not necessarily the psychological problems of your society and family, not necessarily the economic pressure, not necessarily the emotional adjustment in your family, there can be nervous disorders, there can be problems in your body on account of faulty endocrinal systems and those faulty endocrinal secretions caused by faulty living, faulty breathing and so on. And therefore in the scheme of Yoga first comes Asanas and Pranayama. In order to get rid of the muscular, the physical tension, to eliminate the toxins from your body and at the same time to neutralize the faulty secretions that take place, for instance hypothyroid or hyperthyroid, or over-secretion of the pituitary or deficiency in the pancreatic gland, all these mean a great influence on our behaviour, on our thinking.

As such this muscular tension which causes a lot of trouble and which bars the experience of peace in our day to day life can be greatly solved by the practice of Asanas and Pranayama and Hatha Yoga. Here again people think that Asanas, and Pranayama, the yogic exercises, are just exercises. They are not exercises and they should not be practiced as exercises and they should be practiced with great care. The scientific investigations that have been carried out in different parts of the world, in Russia, in Poland, in India, in France and also in Germany, have proved that during the practice of Asanas the whole endocrinal system is greatly influenced and as a result of that the toxins are eliminated, the energy blocks are made clear and so the practice of Asanas and pranayama removes muscular tensions.

Then we go on to mental tensions and these mental tensions are the greatest tensions which we have to take into consideration. Over thinking, wrong thinking and vicious thinking which we have got to do in our day to day life, causes these mental tensions and therefore, for these mental tensions, is the practice of relaxation in which we withdraw our consciousness. And when the withdrawal of consciousness takes place, when the negation of consciousness has taken place, then starts next what we call, expansion of consciousness. So the whole thing is divided into two, negation and expansion.

In the process of negation, you have different techniques. There are those techniques which withdraw or which calm down the tensions created by internal functional deficiencies and all that is done during the practice of relaxation. So in these practices of relaxation we have some of the most important techniques and those techniques should be practiced in a way about which we shall have the classes from tomorrow on and I will just introduce how the meditation has to be practiced. When we practice meditation or when we start the practice of relaxation, first of all we must have a method and we must have a technique.

Every technique is not useful for everybody but at the same time there are practices which can be taken up without any difficulty, without any risk. Easiest one is what we know as Ajapa Japa, spontaneous awareness, and in this spontaneous awareness you concentrate on the breath and when you concentrate on the breath you try to formulate an ascending process, then the consciousness is diminished, the area of experience is eliminated, the consciousness functions in a limited area and thereafter you start with a symbol. You have an image, you have a centre and you try to develop a clear cut psychic, internal, non-sensuous and mental awareness of that symbol and that symbol must become clear to you. You should be able to see it consciously because it is necessary in order to effect a complete relaxation to be able to see your unconscious, it is not enough if you are able to visualize your subconscious mind.

Yoga believes in meditation, as a science, that you should be able to see your conscious mind, you should be able to see your subconscious mind and you should be able to see your unconscious mind, which is very difficult and the moment the experience, the moment the perception, of unconscious personality takes place, complete relaxation comes to man and therefore you will find there are moments in an individuals life that during deep sleep he becomes aware of unconscious and after that he feels that he was completely relaxed.

So in the technique of Yoga it is believed that when the consciousness is detached from consciousness, from subconscious and also from unconscious and when your individual awareness functions independent of these three dimensions of consciousness, relaxation takes place and meditation begins. Meditation can never begin before relaxation and the greatest thing and the most difficult thing is relaxation. You may think that meditation is difficult, no it is not. Meditation is accomplished spontaneously. Meditation comes to you and it does not take time, but in order to develop meditation it is necessary that the whole process of relaxation has got to be gone through.

In Yoga they call it Pratyahara and Dharana. Pratyahara means withdrawal of consciousness and Dharana means conception of consciousness in a particular way. You see your consciousness, you see your awareness but it is internal perception. It may be a round stone, it may be a triangle. It may be a triangle, it may be a flower, it may be anything but you should be able to see and that which you see inside is not imagination, that which you see inside is a form of your consciousness. If you see a flower inside you see your own consciousness in the pattern of a flower. If you see a triangle, you do not see a triangle as in imagination, it is your consciousness which you perceive in the from of a triangle and the triangle which you see inside is made up of your consciousness through which you are understanding me, it is the same consciousness through which I am able to speak to you something on Yoga. And it is the same consciousness through which you know right. It is the same consciousness through your intelligence or intellect functions. It is the same consciousness which manifests in the day life in the from of memory principle and it is the same consciousness through which you understand hatred and through which you understand love.

The same consciousness which functions in the world and is not imagination and which is not a hypothesis but it is a force which is awareness or an instrument of knowledge or a medium of understanding, or the substratum of perception. It is that consciousness that is withdrawn from the objects, which is withdrawn from intellectual knowledge, which is withdrawn from experience and memory of the past, and which is withdrawn from right knowledge and wrong knowledge, and when it has been disassociated from different bases of the perception but when at the same time it becomes clear to you in the from of a triangle in the form of a flower, or in the form of a stone, or in the form of a light, or in the from of an animal, then it means that you are seeing your own consciousness and this is the fundamental secret about Yoga.

Meditation therefore, is the process in which you see your own consciousness, consciousness sees itself through self without any intervening medium and without any support and without any agency. And to repeat it again. In Meditation you undergo a process not of self analysis but of self perception. It is here that meditation overcomes the psychoanalysis of the modern psychology. You not only analyse yourself, you see yourself.

And now how do you see? You see in the form of a triangle, you try to see yourself in the form of a triangle. And when you try to see yourself in the form of a triangle, the triangle vanishes, it disappears and it is replaced by the images of your psychological personality. Images come up in hundred and thousands, like the film reel, you see not the real pictures, you see not what you have experienced. Perhaps you don't even see the people you know in this life. You will see those images which represent your consciousness. You will see those images which represent your instincts. You will see those images which have been causing trouble in your life and you will see those images which have been the various basis of tension in your life and you will see those images which represent the cause of hatred, the cause of insomnia, the cause of anxiety and the cause of all sorts of psychosomatic troubles. Then you again try to bring back the triangle, it goes off. Again it is replaced by deeper psychological images because in the subconscious mind also there are depths and layers and you will have to realize those subconscious layers, one after the other, and there is a moment in meditation when you'll see the visions, good and bad both. And unfortunately in the absence of this knowledge, you take them to be what you call astral traveling and as if it were objective traveling. You will think that ghosts have come or you will think that an angel has come. Nothing has come from outside everything has emerged from within and everything has exploded from inside. Nothing comes from outside, your consciousness is everything.

There is nothing beyond your consciousness and anything that you see in the deeper states of meditation is a manifestation of your personality, is a manifestation of different, complicated, unseen, unknown, invisible layers of your personality that perhaps you will never know through any method of psychoanalysis. You could see the experiences of your life when you were a child and which you have forgotten and which are insignificant but which were causing trouble. This comes up in the form of an explosion, in the form of evil pictures, in the form of divine expressions.

So these are the subliminal images, these are the Samskaras as they call then in Yoga, the past impressions. They come up, they exhaust themselves, one after the other, but it is possible only if you try to bring about a concentration or a consolidation or a crystallization of your consciousness.

It is therefore in meditation when you concentrate on the breath, natural breath, you not only concentrate on the natural breath but you try to find out a psychic passage for the natural breath. Breath is breath, you know it is something physical but the idea that I am breathing is not physical, it is psychic. When I breathe, it is physical. The breath goes to the lungs and supplies oxygen, purifies the blood. Well it is a scientific fact but when you know that I am breathing that is not physical that is psychic. And when you think I am breathing, I am breathing, you create a psychic idea and this psychic idea is the gateway to meditation, it is the gateway to relaxation, it is the gateway to concentration or rather it is the gateway to psychoanalysis. Then you create a passage.

In Yoga there are hundreds of passages, but I have got to introduce only two of them. One passage is in between the navel and the throat for the beginners and the second passage is the vertebral column, the spinal cord. The idea I am breathing, the consciousness I am breathing, should be felt in one of these two passages. Either you have to feel I am breathing in the frontal passage or you have to feel it in the spinal cord. If you feel it in the spinal cord it is much better because concentration on the spinal cord takes you to the unconscious direct.

I am not talking about the frightening Kundalini Yoga, please remember, and I also do not believe that Kundalini Yoga is so frightening, because as a student of psychology and as a student of Yoga I believe Kundalini Yoga is a way to go to the unconscious and I know that gate into unconsciousness is the way of perfect peace and complete power. So I do not prohibit people from practicing Kundalini Yoga but I don't mean that Kundalini Yoga in which you break your body or in which you break your bones, no, you take your consciousness to the spinal cord, right from the bottom and up to the top in the form of 'I am breathing in and I am breathing out'.

Now the idea 'I am breathing in and I am breathing out' should create an ascending and descending order in your passage. If you breath in, you must feel that you are ascending and if you breath out, you must feel that you are descending.

Who is ascending and who is descending? Find out. Consciousness is ascending and consciousness is descending. But then why do you synchronize it with the breath? The point is, when you synchronize it with the breath, first of all it becomes possible, it becomes easier to feel the ascending and descending order but at the same time it you breathe in and breath out you create more oxygen in the system and as a result of that relaxation is taking place. You exhale carbon and you accelerate metabolism in the system and when you accelerate metabolism in the system by creating oxygen by oxygenation, then also the relaxation is accelerated.

And therefore in this Ajapa Japa, when you are breathing in and breathing out, it becomes necessary that you should be aware of the fact that you are breathing in and breathing out by the process of counting. So that you do not fall into deeper unconsciousness, so that your consciousness does not suspend, because sometimes it happens in meditation when concentration takes place.

Now the purpose of Yoga is not to become unconscious, the purpose of meditation is not to become unconscious and if you are trying to become unconscious in meditation, you are not doing the right Yoga. The purpose of meditation is to develop awareness when there is absolute unconsciousness. I am not talking about Samadhi, I am not talking about cosmic awareness, I am not talking about divine experiences, please do not confuse it. I talk that Yoga or meditation is a system, a process, a method by which you can see your own unconsciousness.

At night you go to bed to sleep, you become unconsciousness. You go to unconscious every night but you do not see it, you do not experience it. And therefore what happens, partial relaxation takes place. Complete relaxation does not take place. Here in Yoga they have developed a method by which you go into the unconscious and you can see the unconscious, you can investigate your unconscious, you can visualize your unconscious and you can come back. So that when you comeback, you can come back with energy. You will come back with power, you will come back with power, you will come back with confidence and absolute equilibrium. This if the bases of Yoga.

Now, this process of inhalation and exhalation, this process of ascending and descending consciousness in the spinal cord or in the frontal passage is not meditation. It is an act of negation of consciousness, it is an act of withdraw of empirical, external, objective consciousness but there is a moment in meditation when the consciousness comes to one point, the circle is reduced to one point and it is that moment that you have to stop relaxation. A student of Yoga should know how far he should continue relaxation. If you continue your relaxation further, you will enter into unconsciousness, and you will never become aware and that is the death of Yoga and that is the death of a Yogi. You must know the point where you have to stop the process of negative of consciousness and it is for that reason every student of meditation must have a symbol for himself. He can have a small green leaf, a flower, a star or a triangle, or a human figure, anything for the matter of that but he must have it. There is no use of having an abstract idea. I have practiced it for years and years together and they call it abstract meditation and concrete meditation. Abstract meditation leads one to unconscious and concrete meditation leads one to unconscious with consciousness.

And what is the proof that you have been able to perceive unconscious, what are the symptoms, what is the indication that you have visualized your subconscious, what is the indication that you have visualized your unconscious? And I am not talking about super conscious because it is not my subject and I am not going to go beyond unconscious, this is not my subject and I believe you will not expect this super conscious subject from me at least this night. When you are able to see, when you are able to visualize, the object of your meditation as clearly as you see me and you see your brethren everyday, you have seen your unconscious and you will come back. It is not conscious dream, it is not at all a conscious dream, if the dream is a conscious dream, if you see figures moving, if you see a rose flower but at the same time you are not aware that you are seeing a rose flower, then it is subconscious.

And the indication of the manifestation of subconscious personality is, you see, psychic vision, one after the other, good and bad both. But when you go into unconscious all the visions stop. No angels come and no hosts come. You do not see heaven and you do not see hell. You see only that particular object upon which you are trying to crystallize in your consciousness. You will see the lotus flower or you will see the elephant or you will see the serpent or you will see the flame of fire. That is all because that was your object of meditation. But then when you see internally the object of your meditation, it is so clear, it is so true that sometimes when you come out there is a doubt whether this is true or whether that is the truth. And when unconscious is perceived the distinction between conscious experience and the distinction between unconscious experience is dissolved.

The experience in unconscious, I have to tell you once more, the experience in unconscious of the object is as real as the experience of the object in the conscious plane. If you happen to see me in unconscious perhaps you will see me as you see me now. It is only when you withdraw yourself back from unconscious and come down to conscious plane that you will know, 'oh, yes, I saw Swamiji as real as this'. And this particular state of experience is known in Yoga philosophy as Darshan. Darshan means unconscious visualization or perception of the object in all its dimensions.

When your consciousness has become completely free from limitations, when your consciousness has become completely free from sense consciousness, intellectual consciousness and all other modes of empirical consciousness, in this state, the peace is achieved. It is at this moment you become a Yogi. It is at this moment that you say that the tensions, the afflictions, the troubles, the shocks, the after effects, the reactions of day to day life are completely resolved.

So the topic of meditation is not at all difficult. And you will see for yourself when you come from tomorrow to attend the class. The whole thing will be divided into two. First will be the negation and second will be what I call expansion of awareness and in this process will come many experiences, a lot of mental turmoil, the subconscious will come in front of you and all the past memories will be known to you and of course, if you believe in reincarnation you may even go back. Of course it is not possible for all.

And this is how through Yoga and through meditation you go to different rooms of your life and try to clean all of them one by one. Once you have cleaned yourself you should take to the spiritual path, then you should go to a Guru and ask him ‘Give me initiation’ and perhaps at that moment if he touches your forehead or if he touches your head you might get into Samadhi. I do not say that Samadhi is not there, there is a spiritual state also, there is super consciousness well. One can attain Samadhi, one can have higher experiences than this but for that we must qualify ourselves and in order to qualify ourselves we have to practice Yoga.

Yoga is not the end, it is the means and Yoga is a process and it is said in ancient scriptures, an art or a method of purification of the self. By medicines you cure the diseases, by food you purify the body, but by Yoga you purify the body, you purify the mind, mind in all its dimensions, conscious, subconscious and unconscious dimensions. All the three stages of personality, all the three rooms are cleared and then when everything is calm and quite, the samskaras, or as you say in the west, the Karma, has been exhausted, afflictions are no more. Then you should go for the higher spiritual path and not before that.

Although the aim of your life should be to have spiritual realization but you should never seek for that higher spiritual path unless the mental health has been attained and the trammels, the errors, the confusions and the pandemonium in the personality has been completely calmed down. After this preparation, Dhyana, or as they call it Dhyana Yoga or meditation, comes.

Now, coming to the point again, meditation by itself does not help entirely because through meditation you clean your body, you clean your mind, you clean your conscious but again your karmas accumulate impressions. Your emotional personality gets confused again and your method of thinking again becomes erroneous. It is something like cleaning the room and then again putting the dirt in the room. In the same manner you are trying to clear up your personality of the dross, of tensions, of afflictions but at the same time what is happening to the Karmas, on one side you are clearing up the tensions and from the other side the tensions are coming in. On one side you are trying to exhaust you Karma, Samskaras, but from the other side the Samskaras are being introduced and again the same thing. And it is for this purpose that a Yogi who practices meditation must take care of Karma Yoga, must take care of Bhakti Yoga, must take care of Gnani Yoga also. Because it is through Karma Yoga you stop the Samskaras, you stop the effect of Karma going into the deepest cores of your personality. You can stop them and there is an art and the art is in the Bhagavad Gita. Go through it.

Then the practice of Gnani. You have to understand that I am consciousness, the light is in me, I am not this body, I am not the senses. This kind of understanding, right thinking, should be there so that the mind does not get attached to things from time to time, and that again you try to nip Samskaras in the bud by correct thinking. This way the emotional tensions, the tensions born of Karma, the tensions born of wrong thinking, should be stopped, side by side with meditation. And you will find there are hundreds and thousands of people throughout the world who are practicing meditation but who are not happy because they think that meditation itself if going to help them. It does, there is no doubt about it, it is a great thing.

So, when I will be teaching you meditation, the different techniques, please remember that my personal opinion is this, side by side the other method should be practiced for which I will not have time to tell you. You should never think that Swami has come here to teach meditation only. He does not talk of Vedanta, he does not talk of Bhakti, he does not talk of Karma. I completely agree and I understand that these things are very necessary things but because the subject is meditation today, I talk only about meditation. I do not have to talk a lot because I feel that meditation should be practiced.

Hari Om Tat Sat