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Akhandjyoti » Magazine » 2003 » Sept Oct 2003 » The practical aspect of Dhyan Yoga

The practical aspect of Dhyan Yoga

(Translation of the original discourse in Hindi given during a Sadhana camp in 1976)

Original Title: Dhyanayoga Ka Vyavaharik Kriyapaksha

Let us all begin with the collective chanting of the Gayatri Mantra,

"Om Bhur Buvah Swah, Tatsaviturvarenyam Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi, Dhiyo Yonah Prachodayat ||"

Brothers and Sisters,


I am giving you a special training of dhyana (meditation) together with Gayatri upasana. There are two modes of (worship) –– those of the name and the form (of God). There could be no devotional practice without God’s name and form. These two are supposed to be the universal modes of worship. Look at any religion, you will find the use of God’s name and/or form in their modes of worship. Mohammedans recite the name of Allah on tasabiha; Christian Priests chant God’s name with the help of a rosary; the Arya Samajis meditate upon divine form as sunlight; the yogis of Nada Yoga concentrate upon the sublime sounds of the Omnipresent. In any case, the support of meditation (with Divine name or form) is essential for true worship. This is why I stress on you to practice meditation along with the japa of the Gayatri Mantra.

Mental concentration on some gross object – e.g. an idol, or a picture of a deity, is most convenient for the majority of people; because, the human mind, in general, is not so developed that it could be focused for a stretch of time without any visible or perceptible symbol. However, with sincere practice, one begins to realize the presence of God in his inner self and learns to meditate upon it, without any external symbol.

What is the meaning of dhyana yoga? Well, let us try to understand it. As you all might know, our life has two facets. One is the external, which is most familiar to us. The holes in our ears open externally; our eyes also open up externally and keep watching what is happening in the outside world. We can see the things outside but we don’t even get a glimpse of what is there inside us. Is there nothing? No my friends! The real substance, the essence is all inside us. They might be manifested externally but the basic elements of life lie deep within. Where is our life force? It is not outside; it is inside…. And what about the intellect through which we earn wealth and gain respect? That also is not external, but, an internal potential. We don’t see introvertly and often keep wondering why God has befuddled mankind by giving us instruments of perception of the external things and events but no fine-tuned instrument of knowledge of the inner world. We never notice the immense treasure of talents, virtues and divinity, hidden inside our own self. What is easily seen by us is – my child, my material property, my this, my that, and what not! But we can’t see our future; The Omnipresent God and our souls are also far beyond our perception. What to say about the inner world, we can’t even see many components of our own body. We can’t look at out own eyes. Okay, just try to see (without a mirror) how is your nose, how are your eyebrows? How do your eyelids look like? If you can’t even see these gross external parts of the body, how will you see what is inside? When we peep into our inner world and attempt to know it, we perform some kind of dhyana. In fact, dhayana yoga is the best method of seeing inside.

Well, so what should be the focus of dhyana? Who to meditate upon? One’s inner self or the Almighty God? My children! The two are not really different. Enlightened evolution of the inner self is God. Our ultimate spiritual evolution is – shivoaham, sachidanandoaham, tatvamasi, ayamatmabrahm, pragyanambrahm. These five great maxims of Vedanta affirm that the soul, in its absolutely pure form, itself is God. Take the example of coal and diamond. Except for a minor difference in the atomic structure, the two are quite the same. Diamond is thus a refined form of coal. The soul and God are also basically the same except for the fact that the former is expressed within a limited identity (confined to the individual self) whereas the latter is unbounded, infinite. One is manifested in a tiny domain, while the other is gigantic, unlimited…. One is bounded by the thraldoms of maya, while the other is absolutely free. This is the only difference between us and The Divine. This difference is there because of the mist of ignorance covering up the resplendence of our inner self that keeps us cut off from our eternal origin. If we refine and illumine ourselves (by the purifying radiance of virtues and righteous knowledge) we can attain our soul-reality and also God-awareness. This is why (during the dhyana yoga) we meditate upon light; focus our attention upon the inner self, upon the sublime roots of our being and its ultimate goal….

(You may now ask) "So Guruji! Is this why you train us to meditate upon the rising sun?". Yes my children! The brilliance of rising sun is a symbol of divine light. You may feel its radiance in your mind during this meditation, or may get a reflection of Goddess Gayatri. It doesn’t matter if instead of sunlight you experience the deity’s image or some divine reflection. That only shows the degree of progress of your dhyana. When I talk of meditation upon light, I don’t mean the physical light as some of you might interpret. Here it means the divine light, or the sublime glow of pure knowledge. It is not the physical illumination; rather it is the radiance of spirituality and true knowledge. We pray "Tamaso Ma Jyotirgamaya" – ‘O’ Lord! Take us from the darkness towards light; here again, we mean from ignorance to knowledge. In spirituality, the word "light" is always used in the context of enlightenment, pure knowledge. (This is what should be understood of it in this discourse).

We were talking of meditating upon the sunlight. So, where should we imagine its presence? In the special kind of dhyana yoga that I have been teaching you this year, I ask you to meditate upon sunlight focussed successively at three points – the navel, the heart and the brain (especially the deeper core inside and above the centre of the forehead). These three regions contain the sublime nuclei of power for our three bodies – the physical, the subtle and the astral body. All these points should be enlightened (in our imagination and inner experience during this practice of dhyana yoga); the brilliance of sunlight should enter all the three bodies. What does it imply? It implies the inherent philosophy and practical aspects of the three principal yogas.

Karma Yoga taught through Dhyana Yoga:

In the first step of this practice of dhyana yoga, you should imagine and try to feel as though the glow of sunlight is being absorbed by your navel. It means that the spark of praña should enter your physical body from the navel and flow in every vein, every artery and every cell…. Why from the navel? Because this is the connecting point of the umbilical cord between the mother and the foetus and is therefore regarded as the energy centre of the body. As the vital elements from your mother’s body, that enabled your healthy birth, used to enter your body from the navel, the light (strength) of God is also induced in it through the same centre. When this light will be infused in your body, your bones, your blood, your flesh, all will shine. By this illumination I mean, it will induce energy, enthusiasm, alacrity, courage, commitment to responsibilities, industriousness, zeal for hard work, motivation for altruist service and love and joy for selfless fulfilment of duties. These qualities will help you accomplish your karma-yoga. The "Karma-Yoga" is the yoga of the body that means, this yoga pertains to the worldly domains of your life and your deeds. One who meditates upon light in the navel region cannot sit idle. He will always be busy in good actions.

There are three streams of yoga – karma-yoga, gyana-yoga and bhakti-yoga. I have asked you to inculcate the practice of all these yogas through the medium of light. Whenever the light of divinity will descend upon a person, it will inspire karma-yoga in his physical being, in his conduct. Then the person will become more duty-bound; work will be ‘worship’ for him. The deeds of worship, service, social welfare and the actions pertaining to transactions of responsibilities, adoption of moral ideals, etc fall under karma-yoga. These teach us that when our body absorbs the light (of praña), we should become hardworking, our every action should be devoted to selfless duty. It conveys that – one who meditates upon light should not be lethargic, lazy or dishonest. One who eats and earns without being sincere to his work is equivalent to a thief in my view. You may find great joy in sitting and relaxing at home – doing just nothing, when your son is grown up and he is earning for the family. But this is a sign of lethargy; slothful luxury is worse than dishonesty. It is the worst abuse of our humanhood. Insincerity to work and sluggishness are the most disgusting blots on the dignity of mankind. You may argue– "but I have worked so many years and now I am getting pension after retirement….". No my child! I, as your guide, will not like you to sit idly and make merriment. Till you are alive (and able to move your body), you must do some work. You may have enough resources for yourself and your family. But, there are others in the society, who have nothing; so you should work to give something to these others. Your children have studied and are well settled. But, there are many youngsters who are not able to go to school. So rise up from your narrow mindedness and lethargy. Try running a night school and teach the children of others.

My friends! When the light, which you meditate upon, will flow in your body as energy and alacrity, you should work like a karma-yogi; apply the best of your efforts and hard work towards transaction of your duties as a good human being, towards noble aims till the last breath. We are all bound by our duties towards the society, nation and religion (ethics); we should bear these responsibilities gracefully. If you adopt this attitude and transmit it into your deeds, I will regard you as a karma-yogi; then I will be happy that you have grasped the true meaning of meditation and have truly learnt to practice the dhyana yoga as I have taught you.

(To be continued in the next issue….)

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