Meditation results in realization of God
THIS IS A COLLECTED LIST OF INTERVIEWS AND TALKS BY THE SRINGERI ACHARYALS ON VARIOUS RELIGIOUS TOPICS DURING THE 1990’S. THEY WERE PUBLISHED IN “THE HINDU” NEWSPAPER.
The paths of Karma, Jnana and Bhakti have been explained in the scriptures for attaining Self-realisation. The method of Upasana (Dhyana) is treated under Bhakti yoga, wherein, the way to train the mind to concentrate on God is elaborated. The paths of Jnana and Upasana focus on the mind but they are different. The mind is the basis of all knowledge and it operates at the empirical level which involves subject-object duality. This is involved in the process of gaining any form of knowledge.
The method of gaining the knowledge of the Self (Atman) on the other hand involves transcending the level of duality which is the natural state of the mind. The process by which the mind can be trained to intuit the nature of the Self through meditation is known variously as Dhyana, Yoga and Upasana.
The natural tendency of the mind is to relate with the objective world and hence it is only by conscious control and rigorous practice that it is possible to develop concentration. The first step involves controlling the mind without letting it get distracted by thoughts. This can be achieved by regular practice, since the mind by virtue of habit will over a period of time develop concentration.
To overcome distractions while practicing dhyana it is helpful to concentrate on one thought or form of God. Yoga is the last stage in dhyana when the mind attains union (Samadhi) with the object of meditation. The techniques involved in this method are elaborated in the Yoga sutras of Patanjali.
There are certain pre-requisites for adopting the path of Yoga as in the case of any other spiritual path, like practising Ahimsa (non-injury), Satya (truth), Asteya (abstaining from possessing whatever does not belong to one even in thought) Brahmacharya (celibacy) and Aparigraha (non-possession of anything beyond one's requirement) which purify the mind.
One may wonder whether it is not possible to pursue dhyana without these, but one must bear in mind that whatever has been prescribed in the scriptures have been tested for their practical effect. While practicing meditation one should select a secluded place where there will not be disturbance. On the occasion of the birth anniversary of Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha Swami, the 35th pontiff of the Sringeri Math, the insights given by the Swami on dhyana from his personal experience, were shared by his devotees. The result of practicing dhyana was summed up by the Swami in the words of the Lord in the Bhagavad Gita.