Life and Meditation

From May I Answer That, Swami Sivananda Saraswati

How are life and meditation intermingled?

There is no man in the world who is not divine by nature. The divinity in man differs only in degree, but not in kind. The so-called atheist has got a ray of divinity in him. No man is devoid of the three gunas, sattwa, rajas and tamas, in varying proportions. Whether one is a sceptic or an atheist or a nihilist or some other, that portion of sattwa that abides in man helps him do some virtuous actions, which result in further actions of like nature, either in this birth or in some future births. While he does actions of rajas and tamas, he also does sattwic actions according to the degree of purity and sattwa in him.

No man in the world be he a robber, a thief, a pirate or some other commits vicious actions alone. Every man commits both virtuous actions and vicious actions in life. That is, he is prone to do mixed actions so long as he is under the grip of Prakriti. When virtuous actions are done, his mind naturally turns towards the divine, however slightly. He experiences a sense of inner joy, though he may not be able to express why. Meditation is essentially the quality of sattwa. When life is made ennobling, the man is sure to think of God.

In this connection, the point worthy of remembrance is that sattwic actions themselves are to be considered as worship or meditation. Meditation need not necessarily mean sitting in a lonely corner or sequestered spot and thinking of Rama, Krishna, Jesus or Mohammed, or pouring forth verbal or mental prayers. Actions that tend to purify the grossness of the individual are to be collectively treated as meditation.

Life is thus meditation coupled with ajnana, ignorance, to an immeasurable degree in the case of an ordinary individual. If meditation is deliberately taken up on the instructions of a guru who ought necessarily to be a more evolved soul, man cannot but perform good and selfless actions with the bhavas of akartritva, non-doership, and abhoktritva, non-enjoyership, to make and feel his life more and more cheerful, more and more enlightening, more and more attractive. In the latter course which is but a deliberate step, man evolves more quickly with the speed of lightning, while in the former course man moves forward with the pace of a snail. Thus, life and meditation are intertwined.