Meditation is the journey from movement to stillness, from sound to silence

Meditation is the journey from movement to stillness, from sound to silence. The need to meditate is present in every human being because it is a natural tendency of human life to look for a joy that doesn’t diminish, a love that doesn’t distort or turn into negative emotions.
Is meditation foreign to you? Absolutely not. This is because you have been in meditation for a couple of months before your birth. You were in your mother’s womb doing nothing. You didn’t even have to chew your food — it was fed directly into your belly and you were there happily floating in the fluid, turning and kicking, sometimes here and something there, but most of the time happily floating there. That is meditation or absolute comfort. You did nothing, everything was done for you. So there is a natural tendency in every human being, in every soul, to crave for that state when you are in absolute comfort. And getting back to that state which you have had a taste of, just before entering the hustle-bustle of this world is very natural because in this universe everything is cyclic, everything wants to go back to its source. When the autumn season comes, the leaves fall and go back to the soil and nature has its own way to recycle them.
The natural tendency to recycle all that we have collected in day to day life as impressions, getting rid of them and getting back to the original state that we were in when we came on this planet is what meditation is. Becoming fresh and alive again is what mediation is. Getting back to that serenity which is your original nature is meditation. Absolute joy and happiness is meditation. Pleasure minus excitement is meditation. A thrill without anxiety is meditation. A love without hatred or any of its opposite values is meditation.
Meditation is food for the soul. When you are hungry, spontaneously you go to eat something. If you are thirsty, you want to drink some water. In the same way, the soul yearns for meditation and this tendency is in everyone. That is why I say, there is not a single individual on this planet who is not a seeker. It’s just that they don’t recognize it. The problem is that we try to look for that food where it is not available. It is like going to a grocery shop when you want to fill gas in your car. You keep going round and round the grocery store saying, “I want gas for my car.” It won’t work, because you need to go to the petrol station. So, that right direction needs to be found. Meditation happens in transition. Actually meditation happens, you can’t do it. You can only create a congenial atmosphere for it to happen.
Meditation is uplifting the energy and mind and spreading it out. Whenever you have been happy, that happiness has been associated with a sense of expansion. And whenever you have felt miserable, that has been associated with a sense of shrinking or contraction. There is something in you that expands when you are happy and contracts when you are unhappy. But we never pay attention to what is contracting and expanding. We only keep our attention outside. We have not paid attention to the reason. 
One of the sages of the past, Gaudapadacharya, said, “There is something in you that is expanding that is worth knowing.” Even a glimpse of this consciousness, this energy inside you can make the smile on your face so strong that nothing whatsoever can take it away from you. Nobody can make you miserable; nobody can take away the joy from your life. Life assumes another dimension suddenly — just a glimpse of this, an idea about that something inside us that is expanding. You don’t have to leave things here and go. Just being amidst all the noise and still recognizing that beauty, that thing that’s so beautiful, so wonderful, so fascinating, right here and now is meditation. The peak, the most supreme type of prayer is meditation. All powers are hidden within the Self and everything will manifest when you connect to your consciousness.

I do not follow Hinduism so I cannot understand and appreciate the rituals. Can I still grow in AOL?

Definitely! You know, some of the rituals are very ancient. On Monday all the ashrams do the pooja, you simply sit with your eyes closed, in deep meditation. You feel the vibrations of the sound - that is all that needs to be done. 

Actually Hinduism is not a religion at all; it is just a way of life, the ancient way of life. Like yoga is part of it, pranayama is part of it, meditation, chanting - these are all to enhance the life-force, life-energy and it is universal in its spirit. So you can follow your religion, no problem. You can be a Christian, you can be a Muslim, you can be Jewish or Parsi. Doesn’t matter whatever religion you follow. 

Religion consists of the rituals that are associated with your birth, your wedding, your cremation or that which people do after you are gone. But spiritual practices are different, they are there to enliven the consciousness. That is so vital. It is important that people of the world, everywhere, become spiritual and grow spiritually and honor all the religions. You honor Christianity, honor Islam, honor Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Hindisum, honor everyone. And take good things, if there are good practices anywhere, that we should take into our life.

In the past lots of people have done seva but the world has not changed. Why should I waste time doing seva?

Neva (service) is something that is needed by other people. 

Suppose you are carrying a weight, heavy luggage, and you cannot carry anymore, then you look here and there, you want someone to help you, don’t you? See, we are all interdependent. Everybody needs some help from somebody and doing that help without expecting anything in return is siva.

Without seva nothing can happen on this planet, isn’t it? By seva, don’t think you are changing the world. Seva you do, because you can’t but do it. It’s in your nature. If you are good, if you are loving, if you are happy, you can’t but do seva. And when you are unhappy, if you do seva, you become happy.

Is the world suffering because Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, despite God telling them not to?

That too, it was the fruit of knowledge or wisdom, something like that. That was the wisdom, that they did not listen to. 

You know, suffering is because we don’t honor wisdom. Suffering in the world is because of lack of wisdom. If there is wisdom, there is no suffering. Life is bliss. Don’t put this sankalp (intention) in your mind that life is all suffering. As you sow, so shall you reap. If you sow, you think life is all suffering, then that’s what you are going to get back.

We should understand the science of our consciousness, of our mind. Unfortunately, many people did not know this and they started putting this sort of principle into the mind that everything is suffering and I need suffering.You have to suffer in order to get salvation but this is not the correct understanding of reality. That is why there are so many different opinions. 

Though there is one Jesus Christ, today there are 72 different sects of Christianity - each claiming they are the real one. You know why? Because of wrong interpretation, nothing matched. We say God is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, and then you say Satan. If God is everywhere, omnipotent, all powerful, how could Satan be there? Do you see what I am saying?

The theologians are struggling to find an answer for this. They want to put Satan somewhere but they can’t, and if you put him, then you have to denounce the omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience of God. If god knew everything before, why wouldn’t he prevent it? 

These are the questions for which theologians have been hunting answers for a long time and the answers can be found in the Vedanta. That is why the Catholic Priest who came to India, he studied the Vedanta and he said, ‘Now I can understand the whole thing better.’ He was struggling and struggling to put together the pieces of the puzzle, it didn’t make any sense. So many scholars came and they practiced yoga, meditation, learned Vedanta and then understood that this is a different understanding, different insight into truth and reality.

How do you tackle a person with double standards?

With compassion.

You know, double standards are because they don’t know the wealth that they are carrying in themselves. 

Each one of us is a treasure house of wealth. Deep inside, you have the divinity, the light, the peace, the joy, the love that you are seeking. And when you are not in touch with that, you are trying to grab this little bit here, grab something from there. For what? Because you don’t realize that there is a great power deep within us.

So, with such people you simply have to have compassion. By having double standards they are harming themselves.

Letting go of one's commitment

See, if your commitment is going to create problem and bring sorrow to many, then you should drop the commitment. Like a youth told me once, 'I have promised the commander of Lashkar that I will give my life to this organization, I will bring the word of God to anybody and do anything possible to spread this principle.' But when he became peaceful he realized that this is not the correct commitment he gave or he took. 'I don’t want to be involved in violence anymore. But what to do? I have promised on this holy book. What do you do?'

I said, 'No, let go of the commitment because you made the commitment in ignorance.' So there is no point in honouring that commitment which you took in ignorance to engage in violence. Yes, If there is some other commitment you took being so foolish, which doesn’t create such harm to anybody, then you keep it. You weigh the pros and cons and then you follow.

Another person says, 'Yes, I am committed in a marriage and now I have children, but that is an old commitment, I don’t want to do anything now.' You have two kids and now you say, 'I don’t want any commitment, I want to get out of it', then there is no way. Your commitment now is to take care of the children. You can’t run away from that. 

Many people, after being married, after having kids, then they regret, oh I should have been single. I took a wrong commitment. You have no way now, you have to continue. But if you have taken a commitment I will be single and suddenly you change your mind, you want to get married, it is okay because dropping that commitment of yours, you are not harming anybody. So you have to think on those things. Weigh the pros and cons of a commitment.

Balancing personal life with professional life

Do you know how to ride a bicycle? How do you balance? Exactly!

Don’t neglect your profession and don’t neglect taking time for yourself. See, you say the world does not change. Have you noticed if you are changing or you are not changing? You are changing, right?

Just imagine the teachers who taught you the basic course. Suppose if they think,' In the world nobody is changing why should I teach?' If they had not taught anything to you, no pranayama, no meditation, no Sudarshan Kriya, what would have happened? Can you look back and see, before you took the basic course what was the state of your mind and where you are today? Do you notice that? How many of you find a change? See, so many of you changed because somebody did something, isn’t it? Someone took the time off for six days, two hours each day sat with you, took all your questions, taught you something, corrected you, so there is a shift.

Change is happening in the world constantly. If you become a catalyst to that, that’s your good luck because being a catalyst for change brings happiness within you.

The soul is already present and yet, in a sense unattained. How can this impression be erased?

When the mind is outwardly focused, it cannot recognize the soul. It is not aware of its own existence. For instance, when we are looking around at others, we lose awareness of our own body. We are not aware that we are breathing when we are looking outside. Like when you sit in the cinema theatre, all you can see is what is happening on the screen. You have no idea where you are, whether you are tired or your body is healthy. In sleep we forget all our pains and sorrows. 

Similarly when the mind is outwardly directed, it forgets itself and loses awareness (remembrance) of itself. We tend to get absorbed in the scenery and forget about the Self.

Now when we sit down with our eyes closed, unable to see what is happening outside, and bring our attention to our self, our breath, then we become aware of the body. Do you know why the body hurts? Your body wants to draw your attention towards itself. When the head hurts, the most beautiful scenery is not appealing. The mind is drawn to the pain in the head or the leg. So pain has the ability to involuntarily pull the attention of the mind to the body. When we consciously bring our attention to the body, it is yoga nidra or meditation.

Similarly, when the mind is entangled in the body, then there is no awareness of the soul. You have all experienced in meditation, awareness shifts from the body to thoughts, and finally when it is more inwardly drawn, there is awareness only of ‘I Am’, not 'where' or 'who' I am.

From this I Am-ness to ‘Everything Is’ – is God. A step deeper in meditation lies this awareness that everything ‘Is’ – these trees, mountains, river, this body, are no different from one another. I am not anything special - just the awareness of existence. So it is outward focus that leads to forgetfulness. It is not as though the head did not exist before the headache, it did.

Similarly, to experience the soul one has to empty the mind of all impressions. This awareness is lost in the tendencies of the mind. That is why it is recommended in the Vedas to repeatedly practice meditation or erasure of all mental impressions. Just as we alternate between waking and sleeping, repeatedly erasing mental impressions through meditation establishes us in our Self. Those who sleep soundly are alert when awake. In a similar fashion, meditation helps maintain alertness in the waking state.

We feel inspired to work only when we find that something is not right; this is not right or that has not been done correctly. When we are involved in activity, we should feel that which is not okay and needs to be corrected. But when we are in meditation, we should feel that everything is fine.

A fool does the reverse. When he sits with his eyes closed, he focuses on all that is not right. In activity, he accepts and overlooks everything, the corruption, the inefficiency. Such a person is useful neither to the world nor to himself. That is why Lord Krishna has said in the Bhagwad Gita that knowing when to act and when not to act is the sign of satvikta.

So in meditation relax with the thought that all is well. Anyway, for how long can you fix this world, sixty, seventy years? This world has been in existence since ages and will continue to exist. What will you do if a demon is born a couple of hundred years from now? Know that God is taking care of this world. With this thought one should sit in meditation, then samadhi will happen, and bliss will arise. Once bliss is awakened, you cannot continue sitting in samadhi like a stone. Since you have taken this human birth you have to engage in activity. When in activity, recognizing all that is not right awakens enthusiasm within us.

This entire world is God. Serving this divine world is itself pooja. That is why it is said that this entire world is made up of rhythmic vibrations and from these vibrations amrit (ambrosia) is produced. And what do we do in Sudarshan Kriya? Through the rhythmic breath we become aware of the rhythm of the soul (self). It is only through these vibrations that bliss can be awakened. If you speak to modern scientists, they will admit that this world is nothing but vibrations.

Is there a need to be aggressive?

To do something good if you need to be aggressive, you can show some aggression; but you know when you are meditating you don’t need to do that at all. You know, you don’t need to be aggressive, things will happen. 

People will say everything; if you are aggressive someone will say you are too aggressive. Somebody will say something so don’t go by everyone’s opinion. You see what you want to do.

During sadhana, do we connect with the soul or with God?

Are they separate or one? Are waves and the ocean separate or one? The wave is soul and the ocean is God. When there is ‘I’consciousness, it is the soul, and when the ‘I’ness is at rest, it is God. So no one has ever gone or can go outside of God.

Now look, can you live without oxygen? But sometimes, when it is extremely hot, you feel suffocated even though air is there. When you sit under the fan you can feel the air.

Similarly, satsang and meditation are like the fan. If you sit with the fan, you will feel the breeze. This is known as being in the ‘presence’ (sanidhya). It is not that the ‘presence’ is not there, it is there but we begin to experience it, as we feel the breeze when we sit near the fan. Similarly in sadhana, we begin to experience what is God. We experience Love.

Attaining self control

Self-control can be attained by your will. Once you say, I am not going to do this thing, I am not going to eat too much for the next three days, or I am not going to indulge in this thing for the next seven days, done.

First, self-determination; second, fear, ‘Oh may be if I indulge too much I may have a problem’. Or someone tells you, if you don’t indulge in it for one month you are going to get a lottery. Then you will say, ‘No, come what may, I will not indulge.’

So to get rid of bad habits, there are three ways. One is greed; if someone tells you that you will win a lottery if you do not indulge in this bad habit, you will not do it. Second is fear; if someone tells you that your lungs will collapse and you will die within two days if you smoke, then no one will touch a cigarette. Third is Love. I don’t know of a fourth way. Tell me if you know.