Right from the birth of creation, man has been walking on the outer path in total darkness. He has followed this path for he knew no other way. But when every experience came to a dead end, when every joy had its limitations, he came to realise that he should travel inward. Of course, man faced many difficulties and obstructions when he started the inward journey. First of all, he did not know the way, or through which gate to enter. Then, wherever he turned his mind, he found so many doors. Upon entering through any one of them, he discovered fascinating roads, intriguing passageways and beautiful gardens on either side. However, if he stopped to explore these, he could be waylaid for a long time. In fact, this is what happens to many people who practise meditation.
Although meditation might mean un-fluctuating and one-pointed awareness, this is rarely the experience of meditation practitioners. The moment they start concentrating the mind, their energy levels are disturbed and they get involved in watching the changes in the energy patterns. During meditation some people see light or a divine being; they hear heavenly voices or music. These experiences are nothing but the energy patterns that are waking up from time to time in the ocean of consciousness. When you practise meditation, you are opening up the channels of energy.
Matter is the abode of energy and energy is matter in manifestation. Energy can be converted into matter and matter into energy. It is only a point of organisation as to how nature arranges it. At one level of creation it is matter, and at another level it is energy.
Energy is at the root of every form of awareness. What a man thinks can be interpreted as an energy pattern, a form of energy interaction. When you are angry, your anger can be seen as a dissipated form of energy waves. Besides the energy waves and patterns that we already know about, there are unseen realms of energy, waves behind waves, a whole sequence of energy patterns. This means that you can go on travelling through the different dimensions of energy ad infinitum.
So we are students and teachers of meditation, discovering new forms and dimensions of energy. We are not trying to escape from reality. Sometimes it is said of those who meditate, that they just sit in a corner, close their eyes, and forget that there is a practical life outside. But don't let this be said of you. When meditating, close your eyes, but keep track of the awakening of energy. Follow this awakening and don't miss the link of conscious awareness. This awareness has to become constant and consistent. Any imperfection in awareness has to be avoided. It has to be uniform and endless, no branching off, no junctions.
In the science of yoga, meditation is the culmination of all the spiritual efforts of man. You might think that meditation is just an act of devotion, but it is much more than that. Body, mind and spirit are an integral composition, and meditation balances the dimensions of energy on all levels, allowing them to function as one harmonious whole.
The practice of meditation should never be considered only in terms of a psychological or an emotional exercise. In meditation the various energy waves of the body are slowed down and harmonised. This has a natural and powerful effect on the centres of the brain which control all the internal organs.
During meditation we are influencing the pranic energy in mooladhara chakra. Meditation always stimulates the seat of kundalini. Whether you meditate on the eyebrow centre, nose tip, heart or navel centre, the effect is immediately transported to mooladhara chakra, the seat of kundalini. When this centre is awakened in deep meditation, the waves produced actually rebound up into the brain and influence the cerebral fluid. This awakening releases tremendous amounts of energy and generates internal experiences.
Thus, at every stage of meditation, you will experience changing patterns of energy. What do you do when this happens? Many people find it too difficult to appraise and discriminate their way through these experiences. If you do not have a solid base in yoga, then these experiences of awakening energy can be quite disturbing.
The problem for most people is that they are faced with a sudden rise in the energy level, which is the result of an awakening. Energy doesn't have just one level; energy has infinite levels. In the same way, experience does not have just one level. Every experience takes place at a different level of energy, and energy and the experience of it can be amplified. Just as we can amplify electricity, we can amplify the energy produced within the physical body. We can also convert it, dissipate it, or form it into the pattern of a laser beam.
What we want to avoid in our meditation practice is the sudden explosion of energy, and we can do this by progressing gradually through the yoga practices. When you perform the asanas, you hardly notice the awakening of energy. Then you practise mudras, and they have a little more influence on the raising of energy. Next you practise bandhas, and they have more effect. Then, when you practise pranayama, you will find that it has a terrific influence on the awakening of energy. If you have systematically prepared yourself with these techniques, then when you practise pratyahara and see a bright light or a demon, that will not upset your inward journey.
Sometimes we teach meditation for the attainment of tranquillity and peace of mind, or to calm down an excited nervous system. But in fact, what we are really teaching is not meditation at all, it is pratyahara. The raja yoga of Patanjali explains this very well. When the brain is isolated, that is pratyahara. Pratyahara is a very important aspect in dhyana yoga.
In the state of pratyahara, the first thing that you do is dissociate the sensory impulses which feed the mind and form the vrittis. When you concentrate on a form, repeat a mantra, or practise a certain technique of pranayama, you are actually trying to establish the state of pratyahara.
If your practices succeed, then you are able to isolate the consciousness from perception, and this is the first step in meditation. To merely avoid external stimuli is not sufficient, the senses must be withdrawn before the mind can develop the ability to concentrate. One-pointedness can only come when pratyahara has been mastered. There are no shortcuts.
In the state of pratyahara, when you dissociate your consciousness from the sensory channels and impulses, you are conserving a great deal of energy, and this energy may manifest itself in the form of patterns or visions. Many people misunderstand these energy patterns and talk enthusiastically about psychic occurrences. They miss the purpose of meditation and wander right off the path. One has to establish his goal and fix his point of concentration and his symbol. Then he must maintain constant and unbroken awareness of the symbol, totally ignoring any other experience.
Now we have to find a connection between the various practices of yoga. In fact, we should not say yoga or meditation, we should say that yoga is meditation and meditation is yoga. After all, what does the word yoga mean? Fusion, merging, union; that's yoga. What is meditation? Total cessation of the individual mind and total awareness of the universal mind, that is dhyana.
If you read the texts on yoga very carefully, you will see that there are no different yogas. Yoga is one; I am one. Even though I have ten fingers, two hands, two feet, one nose and two eyes, I am one. In the same way, yoga is one compact science. Do not misinform your students. Do not say to one person: 'You are more active so you should do karma yoga', or to another, 'You are more emotional so you should practise bhakti yoga'. All these forms of yoga are integrated; they supplement each other. Bhakti yoga adjusts the emotions, karma yoga purifies the mind, hatha yoga harmonises ida and pingala nadis, gyana yoga develops your awareness, and kundalini yoga gives a kick to kundalini.
Many people believe that gyana yoga has something to do with the intelligence. In practice this is not true; gyana yoga is used to develop awareness. What is awareness? I am speaking to you and I know that I am speaking. But if a dog barks, it does not know that it is barking. Knowledge of one's actions in relation to time and space and object is gyana. Intellectual acrobatics is not gyana. Your existence in relation to the whole universe, in relation to time and space and object, that is gyana. You can be a gyana yogi without reading any books at all.
Karma yoga, bhakti yoga, hatha yoga and all other yogas are part of one compact system, but raja yoga is the nucleus and summon bonum of all yogas. When you have purified your consciousness, adjusted your emotions, and harmonised the different nadi systems, then you sit for meditation. Sitting in siddhasana or padmasana, close your eyes and fix your mind on one point. You will have no difficulty, no obstacle. The point will be in the middle of your consciousness all the time.
This point, this bindu is very important. It is atman. We have created a hypothetical symbol in our minds, but bindu is the structure of the nucleus and has the whole of creation in its bosom. The total creation of the past, present and future is a manifestation that is latent in bindu. That is the nucleus.
Do you understand what the nucleus is? Around the nucleus is the structure of the universal mind. The universal mind has two poles- a positive pole and a negative pole, and they are known respectively as time and space. These two poles come together and meet at the middle. The moment that they meet in the nucleus, there is an explosion of creation. The bindu splits itself into thousands and millions and trillions of bindus and every bindu is absolute in itself.
Although the bindu explodes into millions of fragments, every bindu is potentially absolute. That is why there is this mantra in the Upanishads:
"This is absolute, that is absolute From absolute, the absolute has come When absolute is taken from the absolute Still the absolute remains."
Absolute never changes, so through meditation you can go to the bindu and experience this for yourself. But you have to travel through the mind. You have to enter the universal mind to get to the nucleus. There you are with the creator; you create with the creator, and then you become a co-creator.