Swami Medhasananda's discourse | Manila

The Mind and its Control | Posted : May 8, 2004

Let the speaker and the listeners, the teacher and the students be together, let them be nourished by the teachings, let them have good feelings among themselves, peace, peace, peace.

Good afternoon,

Dear friends, this is my third visit to Manila, which has been made possible by the special arrangements made by the Colombo brothers and their devoted staff, and I am extremely thankful to them for inviting me to Manila and give me a chance to have my talks with you.

I wonder if for some of you this is the first occasion to listen to this type of talks, spiritual talks. In the neighboring room, there is a regular session of it; but the yoga, which I am going to talk about today in connection with our topic is spiritual yoga. People generally understand by "yoga" the physical aspect, the body aspect, but in India, where yoga originated, we actually mean the spiritual aspect. Yoga in modern world is very popular, but that is only the physical part but what is more important and vital is the spiritualaspect of yoga.

The topic of today, as you already know, is "The mind and its control". There is no doubt that we have a mind and that that mind is our constant companion. Sometimes we may feel that we should be dispensed with our mind, that we want to be away from our mind but we can't do it. Even we go to a forest mind goes with us, even we go to a cave mind goes with us, so it's a constant companion, our eternal companion. It is the main propeller of our life, it gives our life a direction. Then it's also a very important instrument, apparatus, which we can use for success in our life, in every field of our life, in every aspect of our life, physical aspect, intellectual aspect, moral aspect, spiritual aspect.

You know, a student can prepare his studies very well if he can study with concentration. What after all is concentration? It is the concentration of mind. So it makes a big difference if one has concentration and one has no concentration. In the field of culture, in the field of sport, everywhere mind plays a most important part. A person, a player, a performer who has great concentration and who has great motivation, he can surely be successful in his own field, in his own performance and studies; so that is why I say mind a very important apparatus, instrument, which brings success in our life.

So you see, as I said, we have a mind that is our constant companion, it gives direction in our life, it helps us to bring success in our life. But at the same time, from our experience we know that mind can play sometimes a very negative role, as it can be our best friend at the same it may be our worst enemy. The mind may be our worst enemy; why? In the Bhagavad Gita, there is a beautiful verse which says, "We become our best friend and we become our worst enemy".

A controlled mind is our best friend and an uncontrolled mind is our worst enemy. And as I said, even if we want to be away from our mind, we cannot. Think of an enemy who is constantly with you and whom you cannot leave. If there is a certain person who is our enemy, we can just move away from him by leaving, but a person who is living inside you, how can we avoid him? He is a constant companion. So you understand then how important role mind plays and it's our choice, it's your choice, whether mind will be a friend, best friend, or mind will be a worst enemy. So you understand the importance of this theme, of today's discussion. Control of mind. As I said controlled mind is our best friend and uncontrolled mind is our worst enemy.

Now, what is mind? Everyone know that we have a mind, but what is mind? Have we all studied our own mind? We are busy to study other people, we are busy to see what other people are doing, busy to study other person's mind or some other mind. What is that mind? According to Indian philosophy, mind is matter, it's an important thing, mind is not something conscious, basically conscious, but it is matter, which is so subtle that we cannot see, and we cannot seek the help of a very sophisticated apparatus either, so it is so subtle that it cannot be seen. At the same time, it does not die, it continues to live. Even when the body dies, this physical body dies and it's destroyed, the mind does not die, it's not destroyed, it simply continues its journey. Along with the soul, according to Hindu philosophy, the mind also, takes up another body, lives in another body and in that way it just continues and continues.

So if I ask someone of you, "Well, what's your age?" then you should ask, "You mean age of what? Age of my body? Age of my mind? Or age of my soul?" You see, you can answer this question in three ways. So, physically speaking, some of us are ten years old, some twenty, some thirty, some fifty, some sixty, but that's not our mental age; maybe five thousand years, ten thousand years, unbelievable but it's true. Spiritually speaking it cannot have any age because it is Infinity. Infinity cannot have any age. It's not conditioned by time, conditioned by space. What I wanted to say, that even if the body dies, even if the body is destroyed, mind does not die, mind continues.

We inherit our mind, with all its samskharas, from the previous births. This is a very interesting concept. According to Indian philosophy, samskhara is translated as impression, but actually we do not get the idea from the word impression what samskhara really means. Samskhara is an impression, which is on our mind due to the constant thinking of a particular thought or due to doing some particular work. When we think a thought repeatedly, when we do a particular work, good or bad, thinking good or bad, then it leaves an impression deep mark on our mind, that is what is called samskhara.

So whatever we thought in our previous life, good or bad, whatever we are, however we acted, good or bad, there is a very subtle impression of those things, good and bad, on our mind and we inherit that. In this life, that samskhara determines whether we are good persons or bad persons. There cannot be absolute good or absolute bad. A person whose thoughts and deeds percentage-wise are more good, then we say is a good person. Or just the opposite, percentage-wise is more bad, then we say is a bad person.

But at the same time we should know this wonderful proverb in English, "Every saint had a past and every sinner has a future". Wonderful, profound statement, that even a saint did many mistakes in his previous life, he had a life of struggle, so he had a past. And every sinner has a future so he can now also be transformed. So the way we are now, whether good or bad, is mostly determined by our samskhara, what we thought repeatedly before, good or bad, what deeds we have done before, good or bad. Now at the same time it's not that we are helpless victim to this type of samskhara, no. If we are product of our good and bad deeds, then from the same logic follows that what we shall be in our future depends on what we do now, what we think now. So our present, our present thoughts and present deeds, will also determine what we will become in our future.

So now you see, as I said, mind inherits the samskharas from our life, previous life. Then how is it created? How is this mind created? That's also another interesting thing. Again, according to Indian philosophy, there are five elements, which make this universe. The Lord created this universe out of five elements. What are those five elements? The first is the ether element, is called akasa. Then the next element is air. Then the third is fire. The fourth one is water and the fifth one is earth. So I repeat, ether element, air element, fire element, water element and earth element.

Now all these elements have three qualities. The first quality is sattva quality; the second is rajas, the third one is tamas. What is this sattva quality? Sattva quality is the quality that reveals, that is poised, calm, quiet, balanced, gives peace. And what is rajas? It is what activates, dynamic, makes us so restless, energetic all the time, so is called rajas. And the third one is tamas, the principle of inertia, indolence, laziness, darkness, it destroys, So the sattva quality reveals and elevates us; the rajas quality makes us restless, does not give us peace; the tamas quality makes us inert, indolent, destroys us.

Now the manas is created out of the sattvic nature of these five elements. It's interesting. I just mentioned five elements. So the sattva quality of all these five elements makes this mind, with the result that mind reveals.

As I said, mind is basically matter, not consciousness, but is appears to be conscious; how is it? Though mind is matter it appears to be conscious, very much conscious. It thinks, it wills, it feels, it imagines, it wearies, it plans, it broods, so it's just like conscious, something conscious, why? How?

According to Indian philosophy there is only one thing that is conscious; that is Atman, Self; so it is the Self, the Spirit, the Atman, which is really conscious. Now, this mind appears to be conscious, acts as something conscious by borrowing consciousness from the Atman, from the Self, the Spirit. We can get a very good example in the physical world, in nature. Has moon any light? What do you say? Has moon any light on its own? Please give the answer. I repeat. Is the question clear to you? Has moon any light on its own? Yes or no? But we say very much moonlight. The poets composed so many poems on moonlight.

And we see things into the moonlight. Then where does that light come from? The sun. It's a reflected light, it's a borrowed light, but we say moonlight. In the same sense, in the same way, the mind borrows its consciousness, though it's matter, it borrows its consciousness from the Atman, from the Self, from the Spirit.

So that is another thing we must keep in our mind, store in our mind. Then the real problem starts when you start the study of the mind; the nature of the mind is continuously fluctuating, oscillating and bubbling and moving restless, restless like a monkey. So it has been nicely said, monkey mind, mind has been compared with monkey, jumping all the time, have you seen, have you seen… are there any children here? Oh, there, yes, have you seen monkey, have you seen monkey, have you seen? Have you studied what the monkey is doing all the time? Always? Always moving, jumping. So you see in us there is also a living monkey and that monkey is the mind. Constantly restless.

Then again we see that there are many negative things in our mind, dirty things. According to Hindu philosophy there are six dirty things in our mind. That is lust, anger, greed, delusion, vanity, jealousy and also hatred and all these things are there. And mind with all these dirty things cannot be really controlled, so what we should do? We should try to clean this mind. We should try to control this mind.

You know in India there are two great epics, one is Ramayana and the other is Mahabharata, In these epics, religion was presented to the people in the form of a story. Religion is like medicine, bitter, so what do we do for taking the medicine in a comfortable way? Some sugar coating, there is a coating of sugar on that bitter medicine, which is then called sugarcoated medicine. That way we feel comfortable, we don't feel so bad about taking that medicine. In the same way the Indian religious leaders, thought that people are generally allergenic to religious discourses, but if the same spiritual values are presented in the form of a story, people will like them. So in the Mahabharata and Ramayana, these two great epics, the great spiritual values, moral values, family values, have been presented in the form of a story.

Now in the Mahabharata some profound questions have been asked and have been answered. One question is "What is the fastest thing in this universe?" Fastest, velocity. What is the fastest, scientifically? Velocity of light? But Mahabharata has a different answer; well, I shall tell you later on. Then, another question, I tell you, before that let me just mention here, you have seen the grasses, isn't it? Grass. Can you really count how many grasses are there on this earth? Can you count? Is it possible to count? Simply innumerable, innumerable. Now there is another question in the Mahabharata. What is more numerous than the grass?

These are the two questions I put, the first question is "What is the fastest thing?" The number two is "What is more numerous than the grasses?" Well, now please answer. The first one, "What is the fastest thing in this universe?" Light? Scientifically. But Mahabharata's answer is: mind. Even it is faster than the light. This moment it is here, the next moment it has gone to USA, or say to India. This moment it is here, the next moment it has gone to your residence. This moment you are in the present, the next moment you have gone to your childhood days. Can light move so fast like the mind? It cannot.

Then the next question, "What is more numerous than the grasses?" Can you tell? The thoughts. Thoughts, continuously bubbling. Now if you just try to count how many thoughts you had till now, even if you are thirty years or forty years, can you really count? Even in twenty-four hours, in a day, leave aside the other years you spent. Even in a day, consider a particular day, can you count how many thoughts you had in that particular day? Can you? Even in the sleep there isn't respite. Even in the sleep the mind is bubbling. How? You see the dream, what else it is? It is the mind, which is bubbling. It is mind, which is reacting, working. These are also different thoughts rising in your mind. That's what a dream is after all.

So that is the picture of the mind. That's the condition of the mind, restless, weak, unsteady, impure, unstable. Why unsteady and unstable? This moment you seem so elevated. Your mind is thinking so wonderful thoughts. Next moment it's so low, you wonder why mind is thinking such a base thought such a raw thought.

You see mind fluctuates, this moment very high, next moment very low. Which is unsteady, weak mind. Why weak? You tell your mind "Mind do this." "Mind think this." It's not going to obey. It's a very disobedient servant. After all it is our servant. We are the lord, mind is our servant. "Mind think this", it will refuse to think. "Mind don't think this", it will think. Is it not your experience? Does it not happen in your case? How many times you want your mind not to think a particular thought? Mind simply refuses. How many times you want your mind, "Mind think this". "Mind pray". "Go to a church and pray intensely". Mind does not pray, makes some plans, what to do just after returning from the church, or mother will think what she will cook, or the office girl will think what's their next plan. All this in the church. But it's expected that it should not think that. It should think of God only, isn't it? But mind refuses. Refuses to think, both good and bad.

So you see mind is very weak, unstable and also, as I said, impure. It thinks thoughts of violence; it thinks thoughts of vanity; it thinks thoughts of greed, pride and all these things. So you see, mind is not that clean. Why such has been the condition of mind? See, you may wonder, why? The main reason for such a low condition of mind, is this: we have so many desires. It is the desire, it's like the wind which raises waves in the calm water of our mind, really. In the calm water of our heart, it's the desire, which raises the waves. Desires are like the winds, strong winds. So there are continuous waves, means there are continuous desires.

How many desires we have, small, big, good, bad. We are full of desires. So it is said that desire is at the root of this state of mind and unless we take care of that we cannot control our mind, we cannot steer our mind, we cannot make our mind calm and quiet. Why there is such desire? Obviously most of these desires are desires for enjoyment. Everyone wants to have enjoyment, happiness, something sensational, all the time. Food, dress, music, relationship, traveling, car, entertainments, theater, cinema, TV, all the time to enjoy, enjoy life.

Now, according to Indian philosophy, why do you want to find joy outside? Sensual joy. There is a wonderful Sanskrit word literally translated as "ignorance". This is not secular ignorance. You don't know physics you don't know chemistry. You have not studied in the school or college or university. You don't know reading, writing and arithmetic, well that's one type of secular ignorance. But this ignorance is more vital. A man may be academically very brilliant, but spiritually he may be ignorant. He may be spiritually illiterate. We may be very much literate and educated in other sense, in secular sense, in material sense, in physical sense, but the same person can be extremely illiterate spiritually.

So we can say spiritually illiterate. So that ignorance, which we just mentioned here, is spiritual ignorance. What is that spiritual ignorance? Spiritual ignorance is this: that we do not know our real source, that we do not know our Spirit, we do not know our Self, we are not aware of our Self, we are not aware of our Spirit. We do not really know that the source of joy, the source of eternal joy, the source of abiding joy, is not outside, it's inside. The gold mine is not outside somewhere, the gold mine is inside us.

So when we are suffering from that ignorance, we search for joy outside, we go here and there, we pursue this thing and that thing. Then towards the end of the life, we feel, we understand "all this life I was just wondering, taking, being cheated, being deluded by the mirage", you know the mirage? Mirage, because of the reflection of the sunlight on the earth, sand, there is an appearance of mirage, which shows a beautiful pond, wonderful water, which are actually not there. The whole life we spend just like that, wondering in the desert and being deluded by mirage. It was all a vain pursuit, it was all a vain search for happiness outside but real happiness, real joy is inside. The real mine of happiness and joy is inside

When we don't know, that what is called spiritual ignorance. So at the root of all these desires for enjoyment is spiritual ignorance. That's the root cause. Then again, as I said, why does the present mind have so few good and so many bad impressions? It shows that in our previous birth, we thought quite a few bad thoughts, we did quite a few bad deeds, so that's why our impressions, samskharas, are not that good. But there are some exceptional people who are born with good samskharas. They are born with good tendencies. They are born with holy, spiritual samskharas.

So that is the condition of our mind, so let us be aware of that, that this is our present picture, that we are now born with quite a few bad impressions, bad samskharas. Of course there are good also, then again, when we try to control our mind, as I just gave you the example, we want our mind to think good thoughts, positive thoughts, it refuses. If we want our mind not to think negative thoughts it refuses, why? If we try to control our mind it refuses, why? Because for many lives we simply gave it license, we simply allowed it to think whatever it liked. Now, the moment you try to control it, it refuses.

The servant doesn't obey finally and even if the master wants to control the servant, the servant doesn't listen, refuses to obey, a disobedient servant. Don't think the servant becomes a disobedient servant overnight, no, it is you who allowed the servant to become so. So it became so. If someone has to be made responsible for that, it is you who have to be made responsible, not the servant. Servant himself is not responsible. Also, it is the master, it's we, not our mind, who is responsible for that. The mind refuses to be controlled because we didn't allow it, we didn't want to control it, so it does not want to be controlled. It refuses to be controlled. It loves freedom.

So mind is very important, a controlled mind is very important for our success in live, for our peace, for our spiritual life, for our work, for our success in work. A controlled mind is like our best friend but we know how difficult it is to turn a living companion into a good friend, to transform an evil companion into a good friend, best friend. It's not a matter of joke. It's an uphill task. But we must accept the challenge, we must have faith in ourselves that we can do it.

Swami Vivekananda founded an organization, which I represent. He said, "You may believe in millions and millions of gods your country has and also the millions and then millions of gods the foreigners imported in your country but if you don't have faith in yourself, there is no salvation for you." How wonderfully put! That means, faith in ourselves is very important, even for the realization of God. Only prayer will not do. We must have faith in ourselves that we can do it; yes, it's an uphill task, it's very challenging to control the mind, to control the monkey mind, but we will accept the challenge

We are so much concerned over the health of our body, but what about the health of mind? Is it a desirable thing to have a sick mind in a healthy body? Is it a perfect health wherein you have a sick mind in a healthy body? Now the thing is this, you can have a perfect health only if you have a healthy mind in a healthy body, that's the perfect health. Otherwise I say you can do any amount of yoga but if the mind is not steady, if the mind is weak, if the mind is sick, if the mind is unstable, you are not going to enjoy real happiness. You are not really going to enjoy the happiness of the good health. That's very important.

But the problem of this modern civilization is that there is so much emphasis on body, only the physical side; think every day how much time, how much money, how much energy, how much care you do, you spend for just taking care of the body. Think of the preparation of food, healthy food, natural, organic food. Then we do yoga, we do exercise, as some people do, then we take bath, clean the body, how many times we wash, wash our faces, then how many other toilet exercises are there, what for? All for body.

What about the mind? What about the health of mind? No? Not at all? And don't take for granted that mind will be healthy in a natural way. It can't be. If the physical health cannot be maintained in a natural way, so how do we expect, why do we expect that mind also will be healthy, mind will take care of itself in a natural way? No, it can't be, especially when this is the condition of our mind. The condition of our mind is like that, weak, not clean, unstable, not steady, uncontrolled; this is its condition. You know that, but what are you doing about it? What are you going to think, to make the mind straight? What are you doing?

Look at it. Look inside. Think about it. Analyze it, do the introspection, self-introspection, self-analysis. You will be surprised, shocked to see that we have not allotted even five minutes time, we have not allotted in our daily schedule even five minutes time for the health of the mind. So how can we expect that we get peace? How can we expect that we'll have calmness? How can we expect that there will be no stress, no strain?

People complain so much of stress and strain, go to the psychiatrists, take a lot of medicines, and then listen to so many records of healing music; still they cannot sleep and take a lot of drugs, isn't it? That's the situation, insomnia, broken families, children that don't listen to the parents, disobedient, why? The basic reason is this: neither the parents, nor the children, nor the teachers understand the importance of this. That is the tragedy of this age. That's simply the tragedy. Neither the teachers, nor the parents understand that this is very vital for themselves and for their students, for their children. So naturally there is always one-sided development, one-sided emphasis. Physical side, no mind, no spirit. So that has to be done. If we want a harmonious health, if we want a balanced health, perfect health, we must think about that.

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On the future we also have no control. Who knows next day we'll live or not? Is there any guarantee? Are you sure? No, we are not sure. So we can really live this moment. This moment is in our possession. This moment actually we can hold. And to this moment, if we pass this moment well, a wonderful past will be created and a beautiful prospective future will be there. Because after all every past and every future is sum total of each second, each present moment. That's why this wonderful teaching the Zen master said, whatever I do, I do with all my full concentration. So if we live that way, whatever we do, we do with perfect concentration. This has two effects, first of all we can avoid other thoughts, we can prevent wearing and brooding and at the same time, what we have been doing will be done in a very perfect way because we give full concentration to that.

Now suppose that in some leisure moment or when we are doing something, for example traveling by train, going by car, just walking, that time many thoughts may crowd in our mind. Then it's better to have some positive thoughts in our mind, for us to think. Those who are devotees of God can chant the name of the Lord during that time. You see, in Hindu tradition this is called japam, to repeat the name of the Lord again and again. This is present in every religious tradition. In Islam tradition there is "Allah, Allah, Allah," in Hindu tradition there's "Siva, Siva, Siva…", in Buddhism there is "…" so the same in Christian tradition, as you believe in Jesus Christ, "Ave Maria, Ave Maria," "Jesus have mercy on me, Jesus have mercy on me".

So in that way, during this leisure times, if we can repeat in our mind the name of God, that's tremendously helpful. It can on one hand prevent the negative thoughts and on the other hand it can purify our mind; because the Lord's name is pure. Lord is pure. So it works in both ways, first of all it prevents the negative thoughts, damaging thoughts, bad thoughts, weakening thoughts, unhealthy thoughts. This because mind wants always something and it cannot remain lazy, it always wants to think some thoughts. If we don't give it positive thoughts, it will think negative thoughts, very naturally. So we must supply, constantly supply, positive thoughts. One way to supply the positive thoughts is by repeating the God's name. These are all examples I give you.

Then there is the management of desires; see this is another important thing, management of desire; I told you before that at the root of many of our troubles is a desire. So many desires we have. So there must be management of desire. Well there are two types of desires. One type is the desire for self-development, a desire for spiritual realization, a desire for moral development; that's also a desire but that's a higher type of desire. But then there is a lower type of desire, which drags us to enjoyment.

So as far as possible we should encourage, we should develop, we should try to fulfil, we should try to satisfy the higher type of desires and we should try to restrict ourselves, restrain ourselves from enjoying the lower type of desires. Enjoy, yes, first of all, we have a tendency to enjoy. It is advised that you enjoy but enjoy with restraint, enjoy discrimination; so first start with that, enjoy discrimination, anything, food, or whatever, cinema, anything, enjoy discrimination, what is good and what is bad. We are so much sensitive, careful about our food, what we take, but the food that we are taking through our eyes, the food that we are taking through our ears, what's about that? A bad book, a bad film, that's bad food, so to say, for our mind.

What is bad food? What is bad food for our mind? As I said, something bad, disadvantageous, bad enjoyment; so we must be careful about choosing what is good food for our mind, what is healthy food for our mind, and those foods come through our senses, senses of hearing, senses of seeing, mostly from these two. So we should be very careful in restraining these senses, so as to avoid the bad aspects. That way we should restrict, we should restrain our senses, and if we restrain our senses, that will help to restrain our mind. That way we can manage our desires….

And then finally purification of our mind. I told that there are some dirty things in our mind; how can we purify it? Well, we can purify our mind through reasoning. Why anger is not good, why greed is not good? We must try to discriminate and we must educate. So through reason, constant reasoning, we can purify our mind. But reasoning alone is not enough, we must make our mind concentrated. The best way to do that, the best way to make our mind pure, the best way to make our mind strong, the best way to make our mind concentrated is to meditate.

What is meditation? Meditation is basically deep thought on a holy subject. Well, we can have a deep thought on some secular subject. A young boy is a fan of a cinema actor and actress; he may deeply think, he may like to think, he may like to think deeply on a cinema actor and a cinema actress of whom he is a fan. Is it meditation? Is it meditation? Well in Japan, when I was giving a discourse regarding meditation, one young person said, well may I meditate on the girl I love? May I meditate on her? Then I said, yes, if your girlfriend is very pure, very pure, then you surely can meditate on your girlfriend. Because the important thing is that in meditation, the object of meditation, or I should say the subject of meditation must be pure. That's what makes the difference between deep thought and meditation.

So in meditation there are two things, first of all, the subject of meditation must be pure, and then there must be deep concentration. So if we achieve deep concentration on a holy subject, then this will make our mind concentrated and at the same time, because we are thinking about God, or some holy subject, this will purify us. It will purify us, it will make us holy. And as a result of this, by making our mind concentrated, by making our mind pure, our mind will be healthy. Our mind will be strong.

Meditation has four parts; we are going to do it, of course we have a special session for that. In our every day life we should allow some time for meditation. The four parts are:

• First of all there should be some time for introspection, what we have done, self-analysis. For some time we should do it.

• Then for some time, we should watch the mind, how and what the mind is thinking. Just look at your mind, divide it into two, you are watching yourself, by yourself. So let your buddhi or your intelligence so to say watch your mind.

• Then number three, contemplate, deeply meditate on God. It may be with form or without form, if with form, you may chose some ideal, some chosen God and Goddess, as an Incarnation of God. For example Jesus or Buddha or Siva or Durga or Rama or Krishna or Sri Ramakrishna, as we prefer; so just meditate on that. Or you may meditate on some holy symbol, like lotus or light or you may just meditate on Consciousness, God without a form, Consciousness, so you may meditate on this.

• And finally you may conclude your meditation with prayer. Prayer for yourself, prayer for all and prayer to God for strength, for purity and for knowledge and for joy.

So these are the four parts of meditation.

So introspection is number one. Number two, let us be aware of ourselves. Number three, let us educate our mind, constant education. Fourth is preventing the mind from wearing, brooding, planning and imagining by living in the "now". This we can do by managing our desires. Then fifth controlling our senses, controlling our mind, and then purification of mind through reasoning and through meditation.

And what is meditation? I said it has four parts, first of all we should allot some time for introspection; secondly, watching our own mind. Thirdly, the meditation, the actual meditation, contemplation and the fourth is the prayer. If we do that, then surely we can have a harmonious self, health of body and health of mind, we can control our mind, we can elevate it to a higher state, we can get real peace, we can get real joy and our whole life will be transformed. Thank you very much.

>>>>…From Q& A session…<<<<<

Basically, you see, all religions are different paths and all Gods and Incarnations of God are manifestations of the same Supreme Spirit, according to Indian philosophy. So at the root of all these different religions there is the same Spirit, same Self, same Atman, same Supreme Reality. So surely there is no harm in whatever subject you choose provided that it's holy. But at the same time, for progressing in meditation, you should better choose a particular tradition, you choose a particular tradition and confine yourself in that. When I say choose a particular tradition, suppose you are Christian, and believe in Christianity, so for your meditation you choose that particular Christian tradition.

But surely, in meditation there are a variety of themes, so to say. For example there may be one meditation of lila, the divine sport. There are many wonderful things that happened in the life of Jesus. Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount, then you can meditate on such themes like that. So many incidents that have happened in the life of Jesus, you can meditate on those incidents. That is called lila… divine sport.

Then there will be meditation on the utterances, utterances of those divine Incarnations, for example you can readily meditate on the Sermon on the Mount itself or some words of Jesus, some of the teachings of Jesus. You can meditate on that. Of course here the meditation means you try to understand the deeper meaning. You try to understand the deeper meaning of a particular teaching of Jesus through meditation. So this can very well be a theme of meditation, what Jesus said. That is called vanidya message, meditation on a message.

Then rupa… Rupa… means form, you can meditate on the form of Jesus. Meditation on the form of Jesus, all in the Christian tradition. You choose, it may be on a particular incident of Jesus' life, it may be a particular utterance of Jesus, or it may be on Jesus himself. But if in the morning you meditate on Jesus, in the afternoon you meditate on say a Hindu God and if the next day you meditate on Buddha, this will not be really helpful for concentration. So it's better that you confine yourself to a particular tradition, but at the same time you must have respect for other religions, you must have this idea that after all the Supreme Reality is at the back of all the religions in the world. This must be there. But for the progress it's better to confine yourself to a particular theme.

Then again in Hindu tradition there are so many Gods and Goddesses, so if you are a Hindu it is recommended that you confine yourself in the Hindu tradition. But this morning you meditate on Rama, next morning you meditate on Krishna and the third day you meditate on Siva and forth day on Durga, that will not do. If you choose Siva, then try to meditate on that, meditate on Him. Because after all it's a question of concentration, and if you constantly change your theme it hampers your concentration.

As I have just mentioned, meditation is very important for our health of mind and also for our spiritual development. Now some basic things I should try to tell you. This meditation once you start with it, if you want to get its benefit, should be practiced every day. If you want to get the benefits it should be practiced every day, just like food. And the time should be fixed, as far as possible. The best time is in the morning and in the evening. And if the evening is not possible, then a little later.

Now in the morning, when there is junction, a meeting point between the day and the night, that's when the nature is considered calm and quiet and our body is basically a product of nature also tends to become calm and quiet. Not only that, but after the whole night's rest, the mind and the body are fresh so to say. Then again, meditation should not be practiced when you feel too sleepy or your stomach is empty or your stomach is too full. That time meditation should not be practiced. When body is too empty, too full or you are very much tired better not to practice meditation.

And for a good meditation one should lead life in a balanced way. In the Bhaghavad Gita it is said, "One who works too much, who sleeps too much, who enjoys, indulges too much in the sense enjoyments, for such a person meditation is not possible." One should have a balanced lifestyle. Balanced food habit, balance enjoyment, balanced work, balanced rest. But I know for some people this balancing is not that easy but what I say as far as possible we should try to do so that we can have a good effect of meditation, we can experience that. Number three, as I said, you do meditation one day and then skip two or three days, that won't help. That won't do.

Then again, during meditation the body should be fixed. The spine, the neck and the head should be on a straight line. You see, when you think something deeply, especially higher thoughts, then there is a flow in energy in our spine. Flow in energy, from downward to upward. Now, if your spine is not straight, crooked, then there is a difficulty, there is an obstruction in the flow of energy. That's not good for the body also. So for an easy flow of that energy, from downward to upward the spine should be straight. The spine, neck and head should be straight. There's one thing.

Then again, for that time, the body should not be moved. It is itself a great training, to remain for some time without moving any part of our body. When the body becomes calm, then that helps to make the mind also calm. So to make the mind calm it is necessary to keep the body very still. Because we cannot easily control the mind, so from the body we can slowly try to control the mind also.

Then again, prayer is also an important part of meditation. In our guided meditation, there is a prayer for all. Generally we pray for ourselves, pray for our family at best, rarely we pray for other people. But in spiritual practice, in meditation, there must be time for prayer for other people. First of all, it makes our heart wide, it makes us unselfish and at the same time, you know, every action has got its equal and opposite reaction. Whatever current of thought you send, finally it returns to you with a double force. If we think of violence, if we think of hatred, finally we become the victims of that, you must remember it. It finally bounces back to us, returns to us. So if we pray for other people, if we send currents of love outside that finally returns to us with a greater force. So it's for us that also we should try to pray for others. We should send the current of prayer for others, send forth the current of love. So that is why we put great emphasis on the prayer for other people, prayer for the humanity. Let everyone be happy, let everyone be perfect, let everyone be peaceful. That's a wonderful prayer that we should do

Then again, let's talk about the subject of meditation. Here's a deep thing. The subjects of meditation can be many, as I just discussed before. There may be many subjects of meditation, many Gods, Goddesses. But for this type of guided meditation session, generally we meditate on Consciousness, meditation on Consciousness. And as I explained to you, the Gods and Goddesses, at the back of them the same Consciousness is there. But when we say think of, meditate on Consciousness in our instruction, if you feel you can meditate on the chosen Deity, on Jesus or Mary or on Gods and Goddesses, whatever you like, that's your option. So with this I start, not to delay, so just try to follow what I say.

First relax, sit in a relaxed way. Then please sit with your spine, as I just mentioned, your neck and your head straight, but don't be stiff. Comfortable but straight. Sit in that way and don't move any part of your body. Now please close your eyes, close your eyes. Now slowly withdraw yourself from everything outside. Withdraw yourself from everything outside.

Now get ready for the breathing practice. This breathing practice also helps to make the mind calm and quiet. This is a simple pranayama; when you breathe in, think that you are inhaling purity, compassion, strength, and when you are exhaling you are throwing out impurity and imperfection. Now slowly, I should say, three times we should breathe in and breathe out. Slowly and deeply we should breathe in and breathe out. Now I just start, breathe iiiiiiiin, breathe oooooout, breathe iiiiiiiin, breathe oooooout, breathe iiiiiiiin, breathe oooooout.

Now I recite a Vedic mantra, Vedic prayer, try to feel the holy vibration of that… … Om, Shanthi, Shanthi, Shanthi…Hari Om. Peace, peace, peace.

Now let us chant the holy Om a few times. Om is a syllable made of three letters, o, u, m. These three letters are at the root of all sounds we hear. These three letters are at the root of all words we speak. It starts from out throat "o", then rolls in our mouth "u", and finally ends in closing our lips "m". So this o, u, m make Om. This Om is the symbol of God, it's the symbol of the universe, it is very very holy. The chanting of Om purifies our mind, spiritualizes our entity, so let us first chant Om, I am chanting later you follow. I just chant first, Ooooooom, now please follow Oooooom. Oooooom, it should be prolonged, Ooooooooom, Ooooooooom, Ooooooom,

Now we feel we are calm, quiet, restful and peaceful, feel that we have love for everyone in the world, send out this kind of love in every direction, to the right, left, front and back. Now pray silently, let everyone be peaceful…..… let everyone be joyful…….. let everyone be perfect……… Now let us offer our salutations to the Gods and Prophets of all religions. Let us offer our salutations to the Supreme Spirit, the God, that is living in our heart, He is Existence, He is Knowledge and He is Bliss Absolute.

May the Divine Presence in us, soothe our nerves, calm our mind and quiet our heart. May the Divine Presence in our heart, soothe our nerves, calm our mind and quiet our heart

May He guide our understanding and show us the right way.

May He enlighten our consciousness.

Now think, my soul is united with that Supreme Soul, God. My soul is united with the Supreme Soul, God

I am not body, I am Consciousness. I am eternal. I am infinite. I have neither birth nor death. I am eternal. I am pure, perfect and blissful. I am pure, perfect and blissful.

Now turn your mind, turn your consciousness to the Supreme Spirit or any form of Personal God or any Incarnation of God like Buddha and Jesus Christ and meditate.

Turn your consciousness to any form of God or Incarnation of God and meditate, meditate.

We absorb in the thought of God. We absorb in the meditation of God.

Now our spirit, my spirit and the God spirit has become one and the spirit of God is pervading, pervading everyone and everything and on me, the sky, the heart, the universe.

The spirit of God is pervading everything, everyone and on me.

Peace, peace, peace
Peace be within and without, peace everywhere.

Peace be on the heart and the universe.

Once more chant Om and feel the holy vibration of it. Chant Om slowly and deeply.

Oooooooom. Oooooooom, Ooooooooom.

Now please relax and slowly open your eyes. Now finally we chant the concluding prayer.

So first I read the Sanskrit then we read the English together.

Oh Lord, lead me from unreal to Real,
Lead me from darkness to Light,
Lead me from death to Immortality;

Let everyone feel happy,
Let everyone be full of health and vigor,
Let everyone see what is auspicious,
Let none have suffering;

Let blessings befall everyone,
Let everyone enjoy peace,
Let everyone become perfect,
Let auspiciousness be to everyone;

Om, Shanthi, Shanthi, Shanthi,
Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.

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