Meditation is one of the methods used in many disciplines of God Realisation in some form or the other. Today we take a look at some of the early writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on the subject.
Words of Sri Aurobindo
What exactly is meant by meditation in Yoga? And what should be its objects?
The difficulty our correspondent finds is in an apparent conflict of authorities, as sometimes meditation is recommended in the form of a concentrated succession of thoughts on a single subject, sometimes in the exclusive concentration of the mind on a single image, word or idea, a fixed contemplation rather than meditation. The choice between these two methods and others, for there are others, depends on the object we have in view in Yoga.
The thinking mind is the one instrument we possess at present by which we can arrive at a conscious self-organisation of our internal existence. But in most men thought is a confused drift of ideas, sensations and impressions which arrange themselves as best they can under the stress of a succession of immediate interests and utilities. In accordance with the general method of Nature much is used as waste material and only a small portion selected for definite and abiding formations. And as in physical Nature, so here the whole process is governed by laws which we rather suffer than use or control.
The concentration of thought is used by the Rajayogins to gain freedom and control over the workings of mind, just as the processes of governed respiration and fixed posture are used by the Hathayogins to gain freedom and control over the workings of the body and the vital functions.
By meditation we correct the restless wandering of the mind and train it like an athlete to economise all its energies and fix them on the attainment of some desirable knowledge or self-discipline. This is done normally by men in ordinary life, but Yoga takes this higher working of Nature and carries it to its full possibilities. It takes note of the fact that by fixing the mind luminously on a single object of thought, we awaken a response in general Consciousness which proceeds to satisfy the mind by pouring into it knowledge about that object or even reveals to us its central or its essential truth. We awaken also a response of Power which gives us in various ways an increasing mastery over the workings of that on which we meditate or enables us to create it and make it active in ourselves. Thus by fixing the mind on the idea of Divine Love, we can come to the knowledge of that principle and its workings, put ourselves into communion with it, create it in ourselves and impose its law on the heart and the senses.
In Yoga concentration is used also for another object,— to retire from the waking state, which is a limited and superficial condition of our consciousness, into the depths of our being measured by various states of Samadhi. For this process contemplation of the single object, idea or name is more powerful than the succession of concentrated thoughts. The latter, however, is capable, by bringing us into indirect but waking communion with the deeper states of being, of preparing an integral Samadhi. Its characteristic utility, however, is the luminous activity of formative thought brought under the control of the Purusha by which the rest of the consciousness is governed, filled with higher and wider ideas, changed rapidly into the mould of those ideas and so perfected. Other and greater utilities lie beyond, but they belong to a later stage of self-development.
In the Yoga of Devotion, both processes are equally used to concentrate the whole being or to saturate the whole nature with thoughts of the object of devotion, its forms, its essence, its attributes and the joys of adoration and union. Thought is then made the servant of Love, a preparer of Beatitude. In the Yoga of Knowledge meditation is similarly used for discrimination of the True from the apparent, the Self from its forms, and concentrated contemplation for communion and entry of the individual consciousness into the Brahman.
An integral Yoga would harmonise all these aims. It would have also at its disposal other processes for the utilisation of thought and the mastery of the mind.
CWSA Vol 13: pp. 445 – 447
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Words of the Mother
We must take these ideas one after another and analyse them by appealing to all our common sense, all our reason, our highest sense of equity; we must weigh them in the balance of our acquired knowledge and accumulated experience, and then endeavour to reconcile them with one another, to establish harmony among them. It will often prove very difficult, for we have a regrettable tendency to let the most contradictory ideas dwell side by side in our minds.
We must put all of them in place, bring order into our inner chamber, and we must do this each day just as we tidy the rooms of our house. For I suppose that our mentality deserves at least as much care as our house. But, once again, for this work to be truly effective, we must strive to maintain in ourselves our highest, quietest, most sincere state of mind so as to make it our own.
Let us be transparent so that the light within us may fully illumine the thoughts we want to observe, analyse, classify. Let us be impartial and courageous so as to rise above our own little preferences and petty personal conveniences. Let us look at the thoughts in themselves, for themselves, without bias. And little by little, if we persevere in our work of classification, we shall see order and light take up their abode in our minds. But we should never forget that this order is but confusion compared with the order that we must realise in the future, that this light is but darkness compared with the light that we shall be able to receive after some time.
Life is in perpetual evolution; if we want to have a living mentality, we must progress unceasingly. Moreover, this is only a preliminary work. We are still very far from true thought, which brings us into relation with the infinite source of knowledge.
These are only exercises for training ourselves gradually to an individualising control of our thoughts. For control of the mental activity is indispensable to one who wants to meditate.
…..I shall only say that in order to be genuine, to serve its full purpose, meditation must be disinterested, impersonal in the integral sense of the word.
Here is a description, taken from an old Hindu text, of a typal meditation:
“The great and magnificent King ascended to the chamber of the Great Collection and, stopping at the threshold, exclaimed with intense emotion:
“ ‘Away! Advance no further, thoughts of lust! Away! Advance no further, thoughts of bad will! Away! Advance no further, thoughts of hate!’
“And entering the chamber, he sat upon a seat of gold. Then, having rejected all passion, all feeling contrary to righteousness, he attained the first dhama, a state of well-being and joy arising from solitude, a state of reflection and seeking.
“Setting aside reflection and seeking, he attained the second dhama, a state of well-being and joy arising from serenity, a state void of reflection and seeking, a state of quietude and elevation of mind.
“Ceasing to delight in joy, he remained indifferent, conscious, self-controlled, and attained the third dh¯ama, experiencing the inmost contentment proclaimed by the sages, saying, ‘One who, self-controlled, dwells in indifference, experiences an inner well-being.’
“Setting aside this well-being, rejecting pain, dead to both joy and suffering, he attained the state of most pure and perfect self-mastery and serenity which constitute the fourth dhama.
“Then the great and magnificent King left the chamber of the Great Collection and, entering the golden chamber, sat upon a seat of silver. He beheld the world in a thought of love and his love went forth to the four regions in turn; and then with his heart full of love, with a love growing without end or limit, he enfolded the vast world, in its entirety, to its very ends.
“He beheld the world in a thought of pity and his pity went forth to the four regions in turn; and then with his heart full of pity, with a pity growing without end or limit, he enfolded the vast world, in its entirety, to its very ends.
“He beheld the world in a thought of sympathy and his sympathy went forth to the four regions in turn; and then with his heart full of sympathy, with a sympathy growing without end or limit, he enfolded the vast world, in its entirety, to its very ends.
“He beheld the world in a thought of serenity and his serenity went forth to the four regions in turn; and then with his heart full of serenity, with a serenity growing without end or limit, he enfolded the vast world, in its entirety, to its very ends.”
One who strives in sincere quest for truth, who is ready, if necessary, to sacrifice all he had thought until then to be true, in order to draw ever nearer to the integral truth that can be no other than the progressive knowledge of the whole universe in its infinite progression, enters gradually into relation with great masses of deeper, completer and more luminous thoughts.
After much meditation and contemplation, he comes into direct contact with the great universal current of pure intellectual force, and thenceforth no knowledge can be veiled from him. From that moment serenity—mental peace—is his portion. In all beliefs, in all human knowledge, in all religious teachings, which sometimes appear so contradictory, he perceives the deep truth which nothing can now conceal from his eyes. Even errors and ignorance no longer disturb him, for, as an unknown master says:
“He who walks in the Truth is not troubled by any error, for he knows that error is the first effort of life towards truth.” But to attain this state of perfect serenity is to attain to the summit of thought.
And now allow me, before concluding, to express a wish. I would like us to make the resolution to raise ourselves each day, in all sincerity and goodwill, in an ardent aspiration towards the Sun of Truth, towards the Supreme Light, the source and intellectual life of the universe, so that it may pervade us entirely and illumine with its great brilliance our minds and hearts, all our thoughts and our actions. Then we shall acquire the right and the privilege of following the counsel of the great initiate of the past, who tells us: “With your hearts overflowing with compassion, go forth into this world torn by pain, be instructors, and wherever the darkness of ignorance rules, there light a torch.”
December 15, 1911
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What then is this goal?
It is one with the purpose of man’s life and his mission in the universe.
The goal: “Call him what you will, for to the wise, he is the Possessor of all names.”
The Tao of the Chinese—The Brahman of the Hindus—The Law of the Buddhists—The Good of Hermes—That which cannot be named, according to the ancient Jewish tradition—The God of the Christians—The Allah of the Muslims—The Justice, the Truth of the materialists.
The purpose of man’s life is to become conscious of That. His mission is to manifest It. All religions, all the teachings of all the sages are nothing other than methods to reach this goal. They can be classified into three principal categories.
First method—intellectual: The love of Truth.
By discernment, study, reflection, analysis, control and concentration of the thought, one dispels the illusion of personality, a whirl of atoms in a single substance which is itself nothing but an appearance: a condensation of the ether.
When we say myself what do we speak of? The body? The sensations? The feelings? The thoughts? All this has no stability. The appearance of continuity comes from a rigorous determinism obtaining in each of these realms of the being; and into this determinism there enter as many external as internal agents. Where then is the self, that is to say, something permanent, constant, ever the same? In order to find it, to find this absolute, we must proceed from depth to depth, from relativity to relativity —for all that is in form is relative—until we reach That which is Unthinkable to our reason, Unutterable to our language, but knowable by identification—for we carry That in ourselves, it is the very centre and life of our being.
Second method—the love of God.
Aspiration towards the Divine Essence of all things that we have perceived in a moment of integral illumination.
Then self-consecration to this Divine Essence, to this Eternal Law, integral self-giving, at every moment, in all one’s actions.
Complete surrender: one is now only a docile instrument, a faithful servant before the Supreme Master. The Love is so complete that it causes a detachment from all that is not the Divine Absolute and perfect concentration on Him.
“Besides, it is not impossible to rise higher than that, for love itself is a veil between the lover and the Beloved.”
Third method—the love of humanity.
As a consequence of a clear vision, an intense perception of the immense suffering of humanity, there arises the resolution to consecrate oneself entirely to making this suffering cease.
Self-oblivion in the giving of all one’s thoughts, all one’s energies, all one’s activities to succour others, in however small a degree.
“With your hearts overflowing with compassion, go forth into this world torn by pain, be instructors, and wherever the darkness of ignorance rules, there light a torch.”
CWM Vol 2: pp. 129 – 131
Feb 8, 2015