When you pursue intense meditation, you experience a profound change in your body, mind, and brain. When you get to each stage in meditation, it takes time to adjust to the new stage. It is similar to moving houses. Even if you were a billionaire when you move from one house to another, it takes time to adjust to the new house – you unpack your boxes, set things up, etc. Similarly, when you get to each stage in meditation, it takes time to adjust to the new stage because each stage brings about something new, something more profound.
As your practice becomes deeper, you automatically feel disconnected from the world, and it is not a temporary disconnection. It is a struggle to fit with the world and its ways. You slow down. You become very effective, but you slow down. You can no longer rush things. Something just dies in you, and it cannot be revived. I am not sure how else to put it. From milk, you have become ghee. You have gone through the churning, you have gone through the heating, and you have become ghee. No process in the world can turn your back into milk. At some point in your journey, you go through irreversible changes. It is like passing through a toll gate. Once you pass through it, you cannot turn back. If you want to get to the same gate, you will have to take a longer route. It is a point of no return.
In the first four stages, you can easily lose. You can go back to zero very easily. But beyond the fourth stage, it starts to sink into your very existence, and then there is no return at all. Kabir said, ‘Oh, I went in search of God, and I lost myself instead. And now the drop has gone into the ocean. Please tell me if there is any way to get the drop back. There is no way! The drop has become the ocean, and it will now remain the ocean.’ Even if the drop evaporates, one cannot say that the drop that comes back as rain is the same. You have become the ocean, and when you become the ocean, everything lives in you without disturbing the ecosystem. Tuna, tiny fish, giant whales, and sharks all live together in the ocean.
Krishna says, ‘Arjun, when you become the ocean, all your desires will go to you, you will experience all your wants and pleasures, but none will move you. They will not be able to shake you because the sea does not move. The sea remains where it is.’ Only such a person that has become the ocean can remain unaffected with pleasures. Everybody else will become attached to the pleasures. They have to have it. When you become the ocean, you are okay having it, and you are okay not having. You are okay having it later. You are okay having it less, or you are okay having it more. You just are okay. It is being in equanimity under all circumstances. That is the goal of meditation.
One can accomplish the same goal through other methods. Devotional service or bhakti is one of the methods. I am sure what Meera experienced or what Chaitanya Mahaprabhu experienced or what even Jesus experienced was not through meditation. Their path was a path of surrender, of complete surrender. That is why when people do Hare Krishna Keertan, they raise their arms, indicating that, ‘I have surrendered. I don’t want to hold on to anything. I don’t want to think about anything. I am too scared, and I am too tired, and I cannot figure it out on my own. I don’t want to.’
‘My life is in your hands. You play me how you like. You knead me how you like. You destroy me if you like; keep me if you like. Do what you like. I don’t want to think about it. I am tired. All my life, I have been trying to figure stuff out, and I have failed. Every time I thought I had it figured out, it wasn’t the truth. Every time I thought this particular thing would make me happy, it did not make me happy. Every time I thought I knew this is exactly what I need, it turned out that it was exactly what I did not need. So, I don’t want to think anymore.
‘Please, you may destroy me, torture me, do what you will, but I am only going to follow you. You are the only thing that matters to me. It doesn’t matter how you keep me, and what you do to me because I have surrendered. I don’t even want your time. I don’t even want your vision, my Lord. I will be happy if I only get to understand you a little and find out what matters to you. I have nothing to offer except my impure heart, which is full of desires and afflictions. I have only one desire that in all lifetimes you keep me close to you. Please, keep me close to your lotus feet. I do not want that in the next life, I again go through 30, 40, 50, 60 years before I figure out that you are the One for me.
‘When I am born, I want to know that you are my refuge and that you are my sanctuary. I do not want to gain this learning when it is already too late or when I am overwhelmed with a sense of guilt that I did this or I did that. From the very beginning, I want this knowledge. I don’t want moksha. I don’t want salvation. I don’t want any beauties or pleasures of this world. I don’t want any happiness. I don’t want to understand meditation. I don’t want to understand anything. The only thing I ask of you is that in every lifetime, O Mother Divine, you should be my mother, and I should be your son. In every lifetime, this is all I want. I want to die with your holy name on my lips. During my last moments, I don’t want to think about what will happen to my belongings, my property, my children, and my wealth. The only thing that matters to me is that I should be immersed in your thought.’
Surrender is a much easier path than meditation. But only the very strong can surrender. Because the weak always cling. The weaker you are, the more you cling to what you have. You don’t want to lose it. If you are strong, you would say, ‘I am happy to lose myself.’ Only the very strong, the very great, the very intelligent, the very graceful, the very divine people can surrender. Otherwise, who would not want to surrender to such a beautiful path! . But in reality, how many can surrender?
Their mind comes into play. It starts calculating and doing all kinds of analysis- ‘What if I do this or that? What if this happens or that happens?’ All of this analysis leads to all sorts of confusion. If you have confusion, it is like you have a curtain that you cannot see through. So, the path of surrender is the same as the path of meditation. In meditation, you are like a monkey. You have to cling to the mother. If you hold on to the mother tight, you won’t fall, and she will take you along wherever she is going. The path of surrender is loving like a kitten. The kitten says, ‘I am lying down, and the mother will take me. I am not afraid that she uses the same sharp teeth to pick me up that she also uses to devour and gorge on her prey. I know that I will not be hurt.’ That is Bhakti. Meditation is like being the monkey, and surrender is like being the kitten. Somebody with a restlessness of the mind may want to be the monkey. It will take a lot for them to become a kitten. But a kitten lives without burden. A monkey-mind is always talking to somebody, with somebody, with God, to God, with their loved ones or with people they hate. It is always restless.
Only the one who is aware can be slow. The one who is not aware is always in a rush. Patience is a virtue that only a rare few have. The more mindful you are, the more patient you become. You let Nature run its course, as Nature is operating at a different scale. When you do that, you will not be disappointed. If you have infinite patience, you can have instant results. If you believe in Nature or GOD and have expressed your desire, then just sit back and relax. It will materialize. If you are not patient after you have expressed your desire, and you want it now, a million hurdles will come. In such a case, even after your desire is fulfilled, you may not feel fulfilled. Often our conscious mind wants to fight with Nature. That is not possible. One has no chance whatsoever against Nature. It is much better to be in a mode of acceptance and say, ‘Some power helps a rose or a lotus unfold. The same power is also helping my life unfold. Why do I want to rush and crush the flower of my life? Just as I can observe the rose, the lotus, unfold, why don’t I just observe what is happening to my life?’ This attitude comes with either surrender or mindfulness.
Meditation is not the only way. But, you cannot forcefully or artificially surrender. Either you do, or you don’t. Sometimes you do it over time. Sometimes your heart is won over time. It is not love at first sight because chances are that if it is love at first sight, you will come crashing down very soon. When you feel a certain way over a period of time, that bond is likely to last a lot longer than merely that first feeling of, ‘Yes, this is the person.’ So, surrender cannot be falsified nor can any other emotion.
There are many types of Samadhi. There is a certain bliss you experience even while attending discourses, for example, or in bhajan. It is called Satsang. But sometimes, you want to go beyond Satsang. You don’t want to be dependent on a Guru or a path to feel peace, bliss, and happiness. Meditation is a path of turning completely inwards so that you realize the ocean that you are-not intellectually, but experientially, empirically. It is one of the paths, not the only path.
Is initiation necessary in meditation? No. Is initiation necessary in sadhana? No. Nothing is necessary. It is only that the right guidance can help you get there faster. Think about art. Every artist will paint differently. Even if you have a teacher, it does not mean that you will paint like the teacher. The teacher will tell you the basic techniques, and then it is all your expression. You develop your style. Similarly, in sadhana or meditation, you don’t replicate or imitate your guide, your master or your Guru. You learn the basics, and then you start experimenting. You see what works for you, what doesn’t and the pitfalls that come your way.
So, it is just guidance. Another name for guidance is initiation. If you want to attend a lecture at a University, you have to enroll in that University. When you enroll, the professor knows that there is a commitment here. This student has enrolled, so this student is serious. If you do not enroll, they do not know if you are serious or if you are just visiting the town and just happened to sit in the classroom for a day.
We study about 15 years on average before we get a bachelor’s degree, and even then, there is no guarantee of a job. But with meditation, because it is so easy to commercialize it and feed on people’s vulnerabilities, people think that ‘I am going to start today, and in six months, I am going to excel.’ It takes such a long time to get things that are so mundane in life. For example, to build a house of bricks with no life in it, one may have to work 20 years before one can afford it. With sadhana we intend to annihilate tendencies of the mind that have been carried for millions of years, and we expect to do it in an instant. There is no such method. That is why patience, persistence, and practice are important, and then, it is impossible that you do not progress. At every step of the way, you will gain something.
This post is transcribed from the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VSBqGc3Jq0
Himalayan mystic and best-selling author Om Swami has transformed thousands of lives sharing his insights, his experiments and experiences with anyone who is on the path of personal fulfilment, happiness and discovery. Today he spearheads a movement in the form of Black Lotus, a mobile app designed to raise the Kindfulness Quotient in the world through Kindness and Mindfulness.