IS MEDITATION NECESSARY ?
Question : Is Meditation necessary as a spiritual practice?
Sage TGN : The categorical answer to your question is, “No, Meditation is not necessary for the purpose of the Enlightment of Consciousness, although it could serve a very preliminary function of helping to purify the mind”.
Now I shall proceed to explain the answer in some detail, so that the matter which has been agitating seekers for far too long may be settled once and for all.
Meditation is a mental practice, even as puja is physical and japa vocal. Mind, as you know, is only a projection of the life-energy drawing in imprints of deeds through the senses and desires generated by itself. Even while engaged in this continuous process during every minute of your waking hours, Mind is simultaneously reflecting those imprints as thoughts. When you are sleeping, the said reflecting is in the form of dreams.
Novice-meditators know (to their cost!) that when they sit down to meditate, their Mind brings up a hundred thousand worldly thoughts in rapid and restless succession. Exalted souls like Thayumanavar also underwent this misery which had the effect of reducing them to despair in the early stages of their spiritual life. Tiruvalluvar, that precise diagnostician, hit the nail on the head when he said (in Kural No. 337) that people are not sure whether they would be alive at the next moment but their thoughts and desires are many millions in number!
Mind is your sixth sense (the other five being those of touch, sound, sight, taste and smell) and it is the Mind wallowing in the world-process that is in a state of unabated agitation. In reflecting imprints it is taking shape and quality all the time, rendering concentration on any one topic impossible for you. This problem is universal and plagues all age-groups from High School students preparing for their examinations to adults like you who seek to know the purpose of life.
In order to obtain concentration of Mind one has to release its multi-pointed grips on world-objects in the first instance. This preliminary process of withdrawal of the Mind is known in Patanjali-Yoga as pratyahara. It is an arduous process and may take years of practice in the syllabus of hata-yoga. The withdrawn Mind is next coaxed and coerced to settle on one point at will; and this the second stage is called dharana. The object of concentration could be your favourite deity (ishta-devata) or a mantra. This is done since the Mind has not been habituated to be without a thought and so would not know what to do with itself, if it is deprived of its raison d’etre, its pillar and prop.
After the Mind becomes disciplined in dharana, it is placed on its own source, namely the life-energy. This is the beginning of Meditation or dhyana – not Meditation itself in entirety. You would observe that what has been popularised as Transcendental Meditation (TM) is only dharana and not full-fledged dhyana in the correct sense of the term.
As I said, the Mind, formless in its native state, takes the shape and quality of what it settles on. In dhyana, the Mind is focussed on the energy-particles constituting life and so becomes subtle, for that is the characteristic of the basic energy-particle akash which is the first of the five physical division (pancha-boothams). The Mind thus rendered extremely subtle is now able to travel up to and experience the Source and Origin of the life-energy itself which is the Absolute beyond Which and other than Which there is naught else. That is, the Mind becomes co-equal (or samam in Tamil) with Adhi or the Beginning. This is the state of Samadhi which has to be an experience and not mere intellection. It is here that Meditation becomes complete.
In the early stages, fleeting Samadhi would come to be experienced, as indicated by a sense of Bliss (Anandham) that is all-too-brief in duration. In due course it could lead to nirvikalpa Samadhi during which consciousness of world objects would not be present. This again is an interim stage.
Through assiduous application the Bliss can be retained with Awareness for 24 hours of the day. This is sahaja-samadhi which does not interfere with the discharge of your worldly duties and responsibilities. Unfailing Virtue will inform all your activities here.
In my method I am guiding you to an intellectual understanding of this culminating state of Consciousness in the first instance, and then persuading you to apply plus-and-minus corrections to your mode of living so that it may be brought into consonance with the purpose of life which is Liberation sans phrase. You can practise my method without fanfare and unobtrusively wherever you happen to be – whether at home or place of work. Progress will be steady and sure, as sincere and diligent practitioners have discovered for themselves.