Om Aha Mani Foundation



Put a piece of iron-rod in the blazing furnace. It becomes as fire. Remove it. It loses its red color. If you want to keep it always red, you must always keep it in the fire. So also, if you want to keep the mind charged with the fire of Brahmic wisdom, you must keep it always in contact with the Brahmic fire of knowledge through constant and intense meditation. You must keep up an unceasing flow of the Brahmic consciousness. If you can meditate for half an hour, you will be able to engage yourself with peace and spiritual strength. Such is the beneficial result of Meditation. As you have to move with different minds of peculiar nature in your daily life, get the strength and peace from meditation. Then you will have no trouble or worry.

- Swami Sivananda: Practice of Yoga.


Meditation does not come easily. A beautiful tree grows slowly. One must wait for the blossom, the ripening of the fruit and the ultimate taste. The blossom of meditation is an inexpressible peace that permeates the entire being. Its fruit is the bliss of the superconscious state, and is indescribable because one becomes It. It leaves no one to say anything about It. Wherever one may wander, from the lowest to the most exalted of places, the mind is nowhere truely satisfied except within, when it withdraws from the world and touches the inner silence.



We rush about in search of unknown experience, but every place in the world is the same. The only place where a difference can really be found is in the mind, which accompanies us wherever we go. Only after years of continually withdrawing the mind from the external world may one attain a glimpse of ineffable peace. There is no easy way to reach it. It cannot be attained in ten easy lessons as is so often expected in the "quick fix" mindstate of the West today.

Many Western scientists do not fully understand the theory of mind over matter. Too often they equate control of the mind with mental institutions, drugs, and bio-feedback techniques. They do not realize that the soul stands above both mind and body, which it uses for its expression and evolution. Until the power of the soul over all animate and inanimate objects is understood, there will be more and more confusion in the scientific world. Both body and mind have to adapt and adjust to new environmental situations as well as new levels of awareness in order for man to evolve and achieve his final freedom.

In the Western tradition, behavior of the body is often related only to the accepted laws of physical nature. Such experiences as astral projection, seeing without eyes, hearing without ears, communicating telepathically, or bending a spoon with thought waves are commonly considered to be beyond the pale of rational acceptability. However, for the meditator who practices intunement with his intuitive faculties, these natural phenomena are occasionally experienced and are more easily accepted. They are no more miraculous than the projection of sight and sound to distant places by means of radio waves. Voluntary control over the heart and what are regarded as involuntary functions as well as extrasensory perception, astral travel, the astral body and its nadis, prana and kundalini are commonly accepted facts of life in the Eastern way of living and thinking.

The mind is a hard taskmaster if one succumbs to its control. It insists that we jump when it says jump, that we eat when it says eat. If it wants a cigarette, it cons us into going out for one, however inconvenient it may be. Its desires are insatiable, and one fulfilled desire can spawn a hundred more.

There was once a monk who retired to a cave in the Himalayas. He had only two possessions - the loincloth that he was wearing and an extra one. Returning one day from a distant village where he had gone to beg food, he found that the spare loincloth bad been chewed up by a rat. He bought another cloth and the same thing happened. So he bought a cat to get rid of the rat. The cat disposed of the rat, but it had to have milk. It is difficult to buy milk in an Indian village, and as daily expeditions for it would have been too time-consuming, the monk bought a cow. It is also difficult to feed and milk a cow, look after its needs, tend to a cat and pursue intensive spiritual practice. Needing help, the renunciate got married, and everything that he had renounced came back to him.

One must always be wary. One desire can multiply and destroy the best intentions. The secret of conquering the tyranny of the mind is not to play the game. By continuously controlling the Thought waves, or by observing but not identifying with them, one can reduce and eventually stop them. When the thought waves are stilled during meditation, the true Self is revealed, and one experiences Cosmic Consciousness. The realization of the Oneness of all existence, manifested and unmanifested, is the goal of human life. Unity already exists. It is one's true nature but has been forgotten through ignorance. Removal of the veil of ignorance, the idea that we are confined within body and mind, is the chief aim of any spiritual practice. If a pot containing a lamp is broken in a dark room, the darkness is instantly dispelled, and the entire room is illuminated. If identification with body and mind is broken through constant meditation on the Self, ignorance is destroyed, and the supreme light of Atman is seen everywhere.

To realize unity, the idea of diversity must be given up. The that each person is all-pervading and all-powerful must constantly be nourished. In unity there is neither desire nor emotional attractions and repulsions; there is only steady, persistant, calm, eternal bliss. Spiritual liberation means attainment of this state of unity.

The desire for liberation in itself is meaningless because infinite freedom already exists as man's real essence. There can be no desire to gain that which is one's very nature. All desire for progeny, wealth and happiness in this world or in the next, and even the illusory desire for liberation itself, must eventually be abandonqi whether in the present or in a future lifetime. By pure and disinterested will, all actions should be guided toward the goal. Therefore, the fruits of meditation should not be pursued impatiently. It take many months before the mind is sufficiently ripened and purified to make any visible progress. The constant attempt to feel that you are the All can and ought to be practiced in the midst of intense activity. Let the mind and body work, but feel that you are above them as their controlling witness. Do not identify with them. If the senses are under full control, perfect peace and solitude can be found even in the noisiest and most crowded places of a large city. If the senses are turbulent and you have not sufficient power to withdraw them, there will be no peace of mind even in a solitary cave in the Himalayas.

In the beginning one must consciously sit and meditate to expenence the feeling of unity. The steadiness of posture and mind makes the effort comparatively easy. In the midst of activity, it is more difficult. The practice, however, must be kept up at all times. Otherwise, progress is slow. A few hours spent meditating on identification with the All, while identifying with body and mind for the rest of the day does not bring about rapid or substantial progress.



Meditation is an experience that cannot be described, just as colors cannot be described to a blind man. All ordinary experiences are limited by time, space, and the law of cause and effect. Normal awareness and understanding do not transcend these bounds. Finite experience cannot be transcendental, for it is measured in terms of past, present and future. These concepts of time are illusory, for they have no permanence. Immeasurably small and fleeting, the present cannot be grasped. Both past and future are non-existent in the present, and therefore are unreal. We live in iuusion.

The meditative state transcends all such limitations. In it there is neither past nor future, but only the consciousness of I AM in the eternal NOW. This consciousness is only possible when all of the mental waves are stilled and there is no mind. The closest analogous state is deep sleep, in which there is neither time, space nor causation. Meditation, however, differs from deep sleep, which embraces an experience of the void. It is, rather, a state of intense, pure awareness, and it works profound changes in the psyche. For the same reasons, and because it operates on the super- conscious rather than the subconscious level, it is not to be confused with a hypnotic state.

Meditation is the source of real rest. True deep sleep is a rare occurrence. Even during dreams the mind remains active although working subtly. Hence, there is little true rest during sleep. It is secured in meditation when the mind is fully concentrated, far away from objects and near the Atman, the Self. It is a lasting, spiritual, blissful rest, which must be experienced. Once it can be achieved in meditation, the time normally devoted to sleep can gradually be reduced to as little as three or four hours.

On the purely physical level, meditation helps to prolong the body's anabolic process of growth and repair and to reduce the catabolic, decaying process. Ordinarily the anabolic process predominates until the age of eighteen. Between eighteen and thirty-five the catabolic process sets in. Meditation significantly reduces this decline because of the innate receptivity of body cells to its benign vibrations.

Only recently have scientists become aware of the relationship between mind and cells. A few years ago they reacted with extreme skepticism to yogic demonstrations of mental control over such supposedly involuntary functions as heart beat, respiration and circulation. They believed the autonomic nervous system to be independent of any conscious mental process. Biofeedback techniques, however, now prove that most bodily functions can be controlled by concentration.

Modern research substantiates the fact that the mind can control the activity of a single cell, as well as groups of cells. Each of the body cells is governed by instinctive, subconscious mind. Each has both individual and collective consciousness. When thoughts and desires pour into the body, the cells are activated, and the body always obeys the group demand.

Meditation is a powerful tonic. During meditation there is generally a tremendous acceleration of energy to the individual cells. Just as negative thoughts can pollute them, positive thoughts rejuvenate them and retard decay. Penetrating all of the cells, the vibrations can prevent and cure diseases. Meditation is also a powerful mental and nervine tonic. The soothing waves that arise exercise a favorable effect on mind and nerves, resulting in a prolonged, positive state of mind. Thus the interior world takes direction from the mind and promotes physical health, mental acuity and tranquility.

Every individual possesses inherent potentialities and capacities. From past reincarnations he brings to this life a storehouse of power and knowledge. During meditation these unsuspected faculties emerge. New changes also take place in the brain and nervous system as new currents, channels, vibrations and cells are formed. In addition to new sensations and feelings, one acquires new modes of thinking, a new view of the universe, and the vision of unity. Negative tendencies vanish, and the mind becomes steady. One enjoys perfect harmony, undisturbed happiness and abiding peace.

With meditation comes freedom from fear of death. Most people think that death is the end of existence, but, in fact, death means only the extinction of the present name and form. The greater the identification with name and form, the greater the fear.

The practice of meditation induces detachment from name and form. It makes one aware of the ever-changing nature of the body and of all phenomenal existence. In recognizing the ephemerality of it all, one realizes the impossibility of holding on to anything, including one's cumbersome ego-identity. When this need to grasp disappears, when the fear of losing what one never has really possessed vanishes, immortality is within reach.

One who meditates regularly develops a magnetic and dynamic personality. Those who come into contact with him are influenced by his cheerfulness, powerful speech, lustrous eyes, healthy body and inexhaustable energy. Just as a grain of salt dropped into a basin of water dissolves and is distributed throughout the water, so the spiritual aura of the meditator infiltrates the minds of others. People draw joy, peace and strength from him. They are inspired by his words, and their minds are elevated by mere contact with him. The advanced yogi who meditates in a solitary cave in the Himalayas can help the world more than can somebody preaching fine words from a platform. Even as sound vibrations travel in space, so the indestructible spiritual vibrations of a meditator travel an infinite distance, bringing peace and strength to thousands.



To achieve the meditative state takes time, for the mind is like a wild horse resisting all attempts at control. Discipline, order and specific techniques, as well as perseverance, are necessary to insure progress. At first the mind will resort to tricks, dodges and rebellion, making prokress slow and difficult. One should therefore have an understanding of its workings. As part of the progress of self-inquiry and control, preliminary practise can be done on the subconscious level.

One means of counteracting thc many tricks of the mind is by training the subconscious mind, potentially one's most obedient servant. This wonderful power can be utilized by everybody if the effort is only made. Because it cannot reason, it awaits training by command. Trust is the most important factor in developing it. indeed, any doubts about the power of the subconscious mind will impede its effectiveness. This inherent power, which can be destroyed and polluted by drugs and alcohol, has generally gone unrecognized as a practical tool. Swami Sivananda realized its latent possibilities, and wrote in his book Concentration and Meditation:

"The subconscious mind never rests. Even during sleep it is sifting, analyzing and comparing information, and carrying out commands. A great deal of the subconscious mind is bundles of submerged experiences, which can be drawn up to the surface of the conscious mind by means of concentration. it is the repository of memories, not only of this life but also of past lives. All that you have inherited, all that you have seen, heard, enjoyed, tasted, read or known in this life and past lives is hidden in it. By mastering the technique of commanding the subconscious mind, all of this knowledge can be tapped and extracted.

When you are unable to solve a problem, whether personal, philosophical or scientific, tell your subconscious to do it for you. Approached with full trust and confidence it will provide the right answer. The command must be couched in very clear, explicit terms, with no ambiguity. if the solution is not elicited after a night's sleep, repeat the command at the same time each day, until the response is forthcoming.

As well as a source of knowledge, the subconscious mind can be a faithful servant. it can be trained to awaken you at a particular hour. it needs only a positive suggestion or clear command before you go to sleep. As a preliminary exercise, give it one of these simple tasks. By making further use of its potentialities, pressure will be taken off the conscious mind, which will then be freed of some of its customary clutter."

The practice of concentration and constant vigilance help to prepare and discipline the conscious mind for meditation. There are two basic modes of meditation - saguna meaning with qualities or concrete, and Nirguna, without qualities or abstract. Meditation on a picture or other external object is concrete. Meditation on an idea or concept, such as love or beauty, is abstract. Because it is easier to hold the mind to a concrete image than to an abstract idea, saguna meditation must be practiced for a long time before the mind is ready to handle an abstraction. There is no problem in visualizing a rose and considering its various aspects - its color, aroma, thorns, various uses, etc. The mind moves in a specific orbit. But to meditate on Divine Intelligence?

One can exhaust the mental energy in wandering down a thousand byways.

Needless to say, beginners should practice concrete meditation. It does not ultimately matter what the object is. Meditation on a dot can lead to the same result as meditation on the Christian Cross, although it might take much longer. In either case the mind exhausts itself by thinking all possible thoughts about the object, or it may keep to one or two ideas about it, and rigidly exclude ali other ideas. What matters is not the object, but the stilling of the mind.

Because of this, however, the task is made easier if the object is neutral, with no emotional or mental connotations that might trigger additional mental waves. A dot on the wall is a preferable object to one's sweetheart, for instance; meditation on the latter would be like opening Pandora's box. Although it creates mental waves, an uplifting spiritual symbol, image or Mantra is beneficial and mandatory for spiritual aspirants. The vibrations of such a symbol do not excite the lower mind, but lift one up to the higher planes of consciousness. In concrete meditation the devotee consid- em himself to be separate from the object of meditation. He wants to experience it, just as one experiences the taste of honey. He holds back from actually merging with the object.

With practice and purification through saguna meditation, the mind becomes well-trained and disciplined. One can then move on to abstract meditation, which is a natural progression from the concrete mode. In fixing on an abstract idea, the mind slowly melts, expands, loses its own consciousness and becomes one with the formless Absolute. Instead of just tasting the honey, the medi- tator merges and becomes the honey itself.

Evolving out of concentration, meditation is a continuous flow of perception or thought, like the flow of water in a river. During concentration one keeps a tight rein on the mind; during meditation the rein is no longer necessary, for the mind stays of its own accord on one single thought wave. For the spiritual aspirant, it is jut keeping up an unceasing flow of God-conscious- ness. Jesus said, "Empty thyself and I shall fill thee." This corresponds to Patanjali's teaching, "Yogas chitta vritti nirodha" (Yoga is the restraint of all mental modifications). This emptying process, in which the modifications are reduced to one, is a trying discipline. Continued intense practice, however, will bring success.

In addition to the practical suggestions outlined for concentration, there are a few other points for the serious Yoga aspirant to bear in mind. The first is the necessity of having a separate area for meditation. A small room kept under lock and key is best. If this is impossible, then the corner of a room can be set apart from the rest of the room with a curtain or screen. It is important that the meditation room be kept separate from other areas and not be used for any other purpose so that the mental vibrations put out in that place will continue to be pure. The front of the room should be decorated with pictures of saints, sages, prophets and world teachers. Incense and candles should be burned in the morning and evening. Do not allow anybody else to enter the room and disturb its vibrations. It should be regarded as a temple of God, and should be entered with reverence. No wordly talk or thoughts should be indulged in. No word that is uttered, thought that is cherished, nor deed that is done is lost. They are reflected on the subtle layers of ether encircling the room, and invariably affect the mind.

Because of the many strains and pitfalls on the yogic path, a guru is essential. If an aspirant meditates upon his gum, even from far away, a connection is established between them. In response to his thoughts the gum radiates power, peace and joy to the student. The stream of spiritual magnetism flows steadily from the preceptor to his disciple, just as oil flows from one vessel to another. The student draws from the teacher in proportion to his degree of faith. When he sincerely meditates on the teacher, the latter actually feels the thought current touching his heart. He who possesses inner astral sight can clearly visualize a thin line of bright light between disciple and teacher, which is caused by the movement of pure thought vibrations.



While meditating, various experiences will manifest from time to time. An aspirant may notice a light appearing in the center of the forehead, or small fiery balls moving about before the mind's eye. Sometimes various anahata (chakra 4) sounds may be heard more clearly. Occasionally beings or objects from the astral world manifest. There may even be brief sensations of bliss. These phenomena are covered in more detail in the chapter on spiritual experiences.

When these extraordinary experiences of meditation occur, one should not be frightened. Nor should the mistake be made that samadhi has been attained simply because some lights and a little rising above body consciousness have been experienced. Do not cling to these visions. Simply accept them for what they are - encouragements to keep the aspirant on the path and to convince him of the existence of superphysical realities.

During deep meditation, the aspirant forgets the external world first, and then the body. The idea of time disappears. He hears no sounds and is unaware of his surroundings. The feeling of rising up is a sign of going above body consciousness. In the beginning this feeling will last for only a minute. It is accompanied by a peculiar sensation of bliss. As the meditation deepens, body consciousness is lost. The loss of sensation usually occurs first in the legs, then the spinal column, back, trunk and hands. When this happens, the head feels suspended in air, and mental consciousness reigns supreme.

Should there be a disinclination for work and a desire for meditation only, one should lead a life of complete seclusion, living on a diet of milk and fruits. There will be rapid spiritual progress. When the meditative mood vanishes, work should be taken up again. Thus by gradual practice, the mind will be molded.

In time the awareness of ego gradually vanishes, and reasoning and reflection cease. A higher type of indescribable peace descends. However, it wakes a long time to transcend the body completely, to merge with the object of meditation, or to receive a true spiritual experience. Samadhi, the superconscious state, is the highest goal to be attained through meditation, and is not achieved merely through a little practice. To attain the ultimate state of merging with the Divine, one must also observe celibacy and strict dietary restrictions, have purity of heart and be completely devoted to God.

After prolonged and steady meditation, Cosmic Consciousness is first experienced as a glimpse, and then becomes natural and permanent in realized souls. Therefore, when there is a flash of illumination, do not be frightened. It will be a new experience of intense joy. Do not turn away or give up meditation. It is a glimpse of Truth, a new platform but not the whole experience. Do not stop. Keep ascending until the final goal is reached.

Similarly, different minds are comfortable with different kinds of meditation. As the various techniques and approaches work differently for each person, one should experiment with a variety of methods, and then stay with the one that seems most comfortable.

It cannot be stated too strongly that all of the systems arrive at the same destination, despite differences. Which method is easiest - Raja, Mantra, Kundalini, Jnana or Bhakti Yoga? Each has its own problems and temptations. In Raja Yoga there is the danger of identifying with one's purity, and building up egoism because of pride in one's mental control. In Hatha Yoga one may spend years awakening the kundalini. By the time it happens, a few spiritual powers have manifested, and one may be side-tracked. Despite asserting their identify with Brahman, Jnana Yogis tend to be attached to the intellectual sheath. When a Bhakta Yogi surrenders to the Lord, he will encounter severe tests to see if his surrender is complete. Whatever the means, terminology and tech- niques employed, the basic concepts are the same, and the methods often overlap. There are no sharp lines of definition or fundamentally distinct concepts. All Yogas culminate in the merging with the Absolute.

The state of Cosmic Consciousness is sublime beyond description. The mind is most inadequate to grasp and describe it. It inspires awe, joy, and freedom from pain, sorrow and fear. It bestows enlightenment, and places the experiencer on a new plane of existence. One experiences a sense of universality, an awareness of eternal life. There is not merely a conviction; it is an actual experience of knowledge. Although this knowledge is an inherent natural faculty of man, training and discipline are necessary to awaken it. Because of ignorance, it is non-functioning in the majority of people.

The Absolute can be experienced by all through regular practice of meditation with a pure heart. Abstract reasoning and study of books do not suffice. Direct experience is the source for this higher intuitional knowledge, or divine wisdom. The experience is superconscious and transcendental; senses, mind, emotions and intellect are at perfect rest. It is not an imaginary revery of a visionary dreamer, nor is it a hypnotic trance. It is absolute Truth, cognized through the spiritual eye, the eye of intuition.

The little ego melts, and the differentiating mind vanishes. All barriers, sense of duality, differences, separateness and distinctions disappear. There is no time or space; there is only eternity. The experiencer has the feeling that he has obtained all of his desires and that there is nothing more to be known. He feels perfect awareness of the superconscious plane of knowledge and intuition.

He knows the whole secret of creation.

There is neither darkness nor void; all is light.

Dualities vanish. There is neither subject nor object.

There is neither meditation nor samadhi.

There is neither meditator nor the meditated upon.

There is neither pleasure nor pain.

There is only perfect Peace and Absolute Bliss.

Om Shanti.