Friday, March 20, 2009
Disciple asked, "What is the real nature of meditation, sir?"
Swami Vivekananda: Meditation is the focusing of the mind on some object. If the mind acquires concentration on one object, it can be so concentrated on any object whatsoever.
Disciple: Mention is made in the scriptures of two kinds of meditation ” one having some object and the other objectless. What is meant by all that, and which of the two is the higher one?
Swami Vivekananda: First, the practice of meditation has to proceed with some one object before the mind. Once I used to concentrate my mind on some black point. Ultimately, during those days, I could not see the point any more, nor notice that the point was before me at all â€” the mind used to be no more ” no wave of functioning would rise, as if it were all an ocean without any breath of air. In that state I used to experience glimpses of supersensuous truth. So I think, the practice of meditation even with some trifling external object leads to mental concentration. But it is true that the mind very easily attains calmness when one practices meditation with anything on which one's mind is most apt to settle down. This is the reason why we have in this country so much worship of the images of gods and goddesses. And what wonderful art developed from such worship! But no more of that now. The fact, however, is that the objects of meditation can never be the same in the case of all men. People have proclaimed and preached to others only those external objects to which they held on to become perfected in meditation. Oblivious of the fact, later on, that these objects are aids to the attainment of perfect mental calmness, men have extolled them beyond everything else. They have wholly concerned themselves with the means, getting comparatively unmindful of the end. The real aim is to make the mind functionless, but this cannot be got at unless one becomes absorbed in some object.
Disciple: But if the mind becomes completely engrossed and identified with some object, how can it give us the consciousness of Brahman?
Swami Vivekananda: Yes, though the mind at first assumes the form of the object, yet later on the consciousness of that object vanishes. Then only the experience of pure "isness" remains.
Disciple: Well, sir, how is it that desires rise even after mental concentration is acquired?
Swami Vivekananda: Those are the outcome of previous SamskÃ¢ras (deep-rooted impressions or tendencies). When Buddha was on the point of merging in Samadhi (superconsciousness ), MÃ¢ra made his appearance. There was really no Mara extraneous to the mind; it was only the external reflection of the mind's previous Samskaras.
Disciple: But one hears of various fearful experiences prior to the attainment of perfection. Are they all mental projections?
Swami Vivekananda: What else but that? The aspiring soul, of course, does not make out at that time that all these are external manifestations of his own mind. But all the same, there is nothing outside of it. Even what you see as this world does not exist outside. It is all a mental projection. When the mind becomes functionless, it reflects the Brahman-consciousne ss. Then the vision of all spheres of existence may supervene, " ” Whatsoever sphere one may call up in mind" (Mundaka, III. i. 10). Whatsoever is resolved on becomes realised at once. He who, even on attaining this state of unfalsified self-determination, preserves his watchfulness and is free from the bondage of desire, verily attains to the knowledge of Brahman. But he who loses his balance after reaching this state gets the manifold powers, but falls off from the Supreme goal.
So saying, Swamiji began to repeat "Shiva, Shiva", and then continued: There is no way, none whatsoever, to the solution of the profound mystery of this life except through renunciation. Renunciation, renunciation and renunciation ” let this be the one motto of your lives. ” For men, all things on earth are infected with fear, Vairagya (renunciation) alone constitutes fearlessness" (Vairagya-Shatakam) .
-(Translated from the diary of a disciple ” Sharatchandra Chakravarty.)