The Importance of Meditation
by, Michael Turner
(from a satsang given on June 22, 1994, based upon a reading from "The Teachings of Kirpal Singh")
"Whenever the mind has a clear
understanding and is inclined toward God,
then quickly sit down for meditation - do not
wait for tomorrow, do not wait even a few
hours, or his (the mind's) mood will change
and again he will cheat you out of the benefit.
No matter what you are doing, when mind
and soul are one, sit in mediation at once.
Who knows what will happen in the next
minute? Such an ideal mood is rare and
valuable; there should be no delaying to
- Kirpal Singh ("Teachings of Kirpal Singh," p. 83)
When I was going through this chapter on the bus the other day, trying to underline a few key points I wanted to talk about, I was in danger of turning half of the chapter blue with underlines. So I just tried to go back and think of a few things that really resonated for me.
To me, the importance of meditation is twofold. The first point is that it (meditation) begins to saturate you with the Divine Consciousness, at least meditating with the Shabda does. Because the specific purpose of Shabda meditation is to align our consciousness with the flow of Divine Spirit, the ultimate essence of All That Is.
"The Light of Life is in you; indeed you
live by that very Light whether you realize it
or not. Each one of you has had an experience
of that Holy Light. Now you must live in constant
contact with the Holy Light. It is uncreated
and shadowless, eternally the same and peerless."
-Kirpal Singh(Ibid, p. 83)
Any form of mediation can be a good practice. At the very least, meditation helps to quiet the mind, and develop a sense of calm in one's life. Whether it's Shabda meditation, or TM, or any sort of guided visualizations - they're all very useful, as mental techniques, and in terms of calming one. But the key to the Shabd meditation is that, gradually - with the practice - you become more and more saturated in the dye of the Lord, so to speak. It begins to fill you, saturate you, and you become one with It over time.
A tangible side benefit to this is that you gradually cease to create karma. This is because, as you become more and more aligned with the spiritual vibration, you operate more and more as an instrument of expression. And, since pure Spirit of ItSelf is karma-less, you gradually become the same.
"Once you discover this Light and
learn to live by it, your whole existence will be
changed. Love will permeate your very being
and it will burst forth from the very pores of
your body, transmuting all dross into sterling
gold. Love, you must know, is both the means
and the goal of life. Love, Light and Life are
but different facets of the One Divinity.
Try to become a channel for the Divine and the Divinity will then flow through you. This is not something impossible, bit it is the very acme of all human endeavors."
- Kirpal Singh (Ibid, pp. 83-84)
What this means is that you move toward ending your cycle of birth and rebirth on this planet, and within all the universes of duality. As a result of this, you become spiritually free, because you are no longer the effect of duality. You are simply an instrument of expression for Spirit.
Now, even as you cease to create karma, you still have residual karma to work off. But as you become more and more saturated with Spirit, the karma you've accumulated starts working itself off faster. And every day as you do your spiritual exercise or meditation, the Wave of Life will rinse the daily karma off of you, and also help you work though - kind of like this cosmic Rolfing - work through your embedded karmas. Frequently when you get a good massage, you feel good for a half hour, and then you find new aches and pains that come to the surface, because they're more deeply embedded in your bones and muscles.
Likewise, being massaged by Shabda in meditation will gradually bring up old, residual karmas that have been embedded in this life, and even through previous lifetimes, which are debts that have to be paid, benefits which need to be reaped and conditions to be worked out - conditions which have to be brought into balance. This is especially true in terms of how your physical body interacts with your causal body, which is your body of your memories - both spiritually, and in the physical universe. It's also your body of habits.
This is, essentially, what people who are into CODA and other twelve-step groups are angling toward, but they're not sure how to express it - i.e., not being the victim of our habits. Most of our habits are the result of past actions and experiences, which become part of our routine - so much so that we don't even know they're routine. So we learn to get above it and start to see where we're being the effect of old patterns. In the process, we gradually work ourselves out of being the effect, learning instead to be in harmony with the cause - with the initial point of causation in our lives.
This state is what Kirpal refers to as being "above body consciousness." As we unite ourselves with the Spiritual Current, It gradually lifts our inner awareness up - initially above our physical consciousness. People over the last 30 years have become very familiar, overall, with terms like "out-of-body experience," "near-death experience" or "astral projection." This is one aspect of pure, above-body consciousness.
It's rather like the river lifting boats up off the banks as it rises. You learn to be lifted up with this Wave of Spirit and, on a very tangible basis, we discover that we are not our physical bodies.
This is the most dramatic experience that most people have on an initial level, and the most valuable. Because, even though many or most of us on this planet have some religious background - or even some metaphysical background - and say "Oh well, I'm not my body. There's Heaven after I die. I will exist." - it's hard to really believe this unless we can prove it to ourselves.
"Meditation makes it possible for the
disciple to die while still living in the material
body, before the time comes for him to
actually die. This is the ‘dying daily' referred
to by St. Paul; the ascending each day to the
higher spiritual worlds during the time of
meditation. The soul rises to these worlds
while one is engaged in contemplation in the
same way as it rises to them at the time of
- Sawan Singh ("Discourses on Sant Mat," p. 266)
Until we can prove this to ourselves, that we exist beyond the body - until we learn to die daily, to leave the physical body through the meditation -all talk of the eternality of the self, and eternality of God, is just that - talk. It's just a bunch of words, a bunch of books, a bunch of lectures. And it sounds really good. But you need to prove it to yourself.
"The Masters say, ‘Stop where you
are! Look at your condition!' It is all
through the lack of meditation, and the only
cure is to join the soul back to the Lord."
- Kirpal Singh (Ibid, p. 85)
This is something that working with Shabda will help you with. This is also where having a competent master, who functions both in this physical body as a living physical advisor - as well as an inner spiritual guide who helps out, is useful. In your meditations, when you start working with the Shabda, and working with the living adept, you will learn to be able to go within. You start by doing "simran," which is repeating a holy word (whether it's Hu, or one of the names of God - even chanting "God" will work) mentally, with the "tongue of thought." You do that for a while and you put your attention on your third eye.
Some people start seeing the Inner Light first ("Dhyan"). Other people hear the Sound ("Bhajan") more readily. It all depends upon our individual backgrounds and primary focus of attention. In any case, after a while with steady effort you will start to see the Light within, which is the Light of Spirit. And, if you're working with a competent master, a living adept of the Shabda, that teacher will meet with you in his radiant form in the Tisra Til, or third eye, and guide you into other frames of reality. Leaving your body well-cared for, you will go within, and come back.
"Do your Bhajan and Simran; release
the soul from mind and senses. Bhajan and
Simran are food for the soul - do not give
food to the body without first giving food
to the soul."
- Kirpal Singh (Ibid, p. 86)
"When you sit for your meditation,
firmly banish all cares and anxieties for the
time being at least and start the repetition of
the five Names while holding the attention in
the eye center, with no other thought in your
mind - not even the thought of going up or of
measuring your progress. When you have
done this for some time, it will enable you to
concentrate on your work too."
- Jagat Singh ("Science of the Soul," p. 156)
For some people an initial step in meditation is consciously popping out of their body into a corner of the room, with their teacher in their light body next to them and they objectively see their body sitting there. And the teacher points out, saying, "See. That's your body. Here you are. So you see? It's really okay."
Of course, for a lot of people that sort of experience a little too dramatic to start with at first. The body kind of likes to have out-of-body experiences happen when you're asleep. It's just a little safer for your comfort zone, for your bubble.
Another experience in meditation is called "Dhyan;" which means seeing the Light within. You might start seeing, like on a movie screen, the teacher or other inner forms and landscapes, whether it's sitting by a brook on a mountain side, or walking on a pathway, or being in a village some place, or any number of things. Or even if you're living away from where you were born. You might have this image of your childhood home. These are frequent things that people experience.
Conscious exploration of the inner universes will become something you will be more and more comfortable with as you practice Shabda meditation. It becomes as real as sitting here in this room right now, every bit as tangible. Each individual doing this form of meditation unfolds at their own pace.
I know when I first started studying this, I read about people having fantastic experiences. They would chant "Hu" three times, pop out of the body and go zooming all over the universe. I did the spiritual exercises for quite a while and all I would hear would be a humming in the back of my head and feel this incredible golden warmth envelope me, like basking in this wave of pure love energy. I thought I was doing something wrong. And then I found out later from my teacher that I was doing something very right. Because the most important thing is to learn to be one with the Spiritual Flow.
So, for a lot of people on an initial basis, there is a sense of gentle upliftment and expansion. Visuals may appear on the inner screen, and/or sounds may be heard within. With practice over time, these experiences will become more clear pronounced as you become more and more comfortable with this altered state of consciousness, this expanded state of consciousness.
As you move into a meditative state more and more, as you work off your karma through these meditations, you achieve three things. The first is self-knowledge, or self- realization. You gradually come to not just believe, but directly, personally know and experience that you are soul.
You are not your physical body; you are not your emotional body; you are not your causal body; you are not your mental body. These are all just forms you wear for expressing yourself in in various frequencies of consciousness. The core identity of each of us is the eternal soul, which is a spark of pure Divine Love.
As you progress further, you come to experience God- knowledge, or God-realization. You are able to, essentially, catch this flow of Spirit back to Its Source. You gradually learn to let go to this River that goes back to the Ocean of Love and Mercy, and you let go and float on it, and it carries you straight home. This is our ultimate goal really, to find out where home is, let Shabda take us there and experience IT - experience the Kingdom of Heaven here and now. This is God-realization.
In the process, you attain what is known as "Jivan Mukti," or spiritual freedom. You are no longer bound to the wheel of incarnation; you are no longer bound to your karmas or existence in any particular universe. You are free. And that's cool!
"The cause of all our distress can be
traced to the fact that we have not been
drenched in the true color of Naam. But if the
soul does not learn to leave the body at will
and has not derived intoxication from being
drenched in the color of Naam, no amount of
speech or action will achieve success on the
spiritual path. Remember this fact, for it is
clear and simple."
- Kirpal Singh (Ibid, p. 85)
I like one of the first things Kirpal Singh says in here, which is, "The minute you're inclined towards meditation, do it." I stress - and all the masters stress - developing a rhythm of meditation in your life. Whether it's in the morning, noon or evening, find a time of day you have control over and make it a habit. Just develop this rhythm every day. For me it's every day at 5:00 a.m., from 5:00 to 5:30. I wake up and sit in meditation. And that taps me into It. Sometimes it's really powerful; sometimes it is apparently nothing. It varies from day to day. But it's important to develop a habit of meditating regardless of what overtly occurs. Doing this will develop a rhythmic inflow of Spirit into your life, and both your inner and outer unfoldment will proceed at a natural pace.
"Regularity and punctuality in
meditation should be adopted by every student
of this science. Keep sitting in mediation, even
if you fail to achieve concentration. This is
the remedy for all your ills. Ceaseless effort
will be crowned with success; if not today, a
few days later."
- Sawan Singh (Ibid, p. 46)
The second step is to learn to make your entire life a
meditation. This means that, throughout your day, besides
the regular meditation you do, whenever you feel a glimmer
of the consciousness hit you in whatever activity you're
involved in, stop what you're doing and take time to place
your attention upon Naam. Stop walking or working or
doing the dishes, and just focus upon this feeling of upliftment
you are experiencing, this expansion. Use the tongue of inner
speech - the tongue of thought - to chant one of the words you
like to use in your meditation to achieve a greater harmony
with It. This helps to make your entire day a meditation,
which also helps to give you a conscious awareness of the
flow of Spirit happening at all times.
I like this line too, right here,
"Simran and Dhyan flood the spirit
with the waters of life. Spirit comes into its
own, rises into its latent Godhood and, like a
tumultuous mountain stream, rushes headlong
into the Ocean of Life which is its perennial
Source, and merges therein losing its separate
- Kirpal Singh (Ibid, p. 84)
That is one of the first things that appealed to me about this path 20 years ago. Looking at it empirically, the thesis is that there is One Source which is beyond mind, which is beyond emotion, which is beyond all duality. There is One Love that is the core of all existence. And out of this core flows an endless stream - eternally coming out - of Sound and Light that is pure love. It flows out from the center to the farthest of all existence, and then flows back to Its Source.
When I was in high school, I was thinking about this, and it just struck me "Of course! If you tap into this Core Stream - and not one of the tributaries, but the main river. It cannot do anything but take you home. That is what It does by Its very nature.
This is why I place my greatest stress upon meditating on the Shabda. I don't have any real stipulations about diet, or habits or anything else, because I feel that each individual knows what is best for that person at any given time in their life. All you have to do is tap into the return flow of Naam; and It will, by Its very nature, take you Home. Anything that gets in the way of that will eventually drop away - not out of being good or bad, but just because that is what It does. You gain more loft as you go along.0
Sant Kirpal Ji also says,
"Learn how to leave the body at will and transcend into the higher regions. If so, you will benefit in two ways. First, we will know how to leave the body as we have learned to do so daily. And when death comes, there will be no pain and no fear. Secondly, by traveling frequently in the higher regions and returning to the earth at will, the fear of our unknown destination will vanish and we will develop an unwavering conviction that the true life, its mystery will be revealed."
- Kirpal Singh (Ibid, pp. 86-87)
This, in itself, is very liberating. And what's cool is attaining spiritual liberation doesn't mean you're stuck doing the harp routine or something. There's still plenty of room to grow. Spiritual freedom does not imply that you cease learning, that you're suddenly, infallibly hanging out grokking the universe and that's it. There are a myriad of things to learn and understand in this universe.
Once you become a co-worker with God, what that really implies is that you are an instrument for Its expression. But each of us are different instruments. Me, I'm a bass, I'm not a guitar or drum, I'm a bass. That's what I play musically as an expression. Some people are flutes, some people are violins, some people are guitars, some people are drums, some people are pianos. Each individual, as an expression of God, finds their own way of expressing IT in their field of interest. And when you're attaining spiritual freedom, you just have that much greater a spectrum of possibilities; because you're no longer bound to the wheel of karma. You can explore whatever you want to explore and dance in the dance of life to your heart's content.Any questions?
Q. Could you please elucidate on the meaning of a mantra. I started with TM 21 years ago, and went through several mantras and so on, but the importance of it and so on, and this is in refreshing me as well, but also for some of the people that I've met, who say "I'm going to use it and just sit for awhile." And I say, "Oh, what is your mantra, or what do you do?" And they say, "I just meditate on music." And I realized that they aren't really into true meditation; they're more free-flowing.
M. Well, I'm hesitant to say what is "true meditation"
and what isn't. Because people have any number of ways of
chilling out after a long day. I mean, when I was younger
(I'm *so* old now), I had a thing for a long time where I'd
come home from school and put on Pink Floyd, or the Moody
Blues, or Yes - and that was my meditation, you know? And
put on the headphones and just hang out for awhile and let
everything kind of filter away.
But what you're talking about is working with mantras or charged words.
Q. And is it something that one mantra is really good for everybody? Or is it sort of the TM way where they assign you one that's tailored more towards you. And I can appreciate that; but I sort of wanted to know.
M. Well, both work. There are basically, as I see it, two forms of meditation: active and passive. Passive meditation is like sitting back and listening to meditation music or something. You're just kind of letting it do you, and getting a chance to relax and maybe feel somewhat expansive.
The way of Shabda Yoga is an active path, it's an active meditation. And what you are doing is you take a mantra that is given you by your teacher, and that is specifically charged by that teacher, and repeating that mantra to actively harmonize yourself with the essence of life, the Audible Life Stream. There are several universal words which are used.
One example is Om. Om pertains to a sound of Spirit which emanates from the Causal Plane. It is a specific frequency of consciousness. It will take you up as far as the Causal Plane and, for those who want to explore the Causal regions, it's perfect. It will not take you any higher, because that is its source. Just like any road, when it dead-ends, that's where you are. But it will take you as far as it goes.
The universal one that I like to work with, like we used tonight, is the Hu (traditionally pronounced "Hoooooo"). It's been called the "secret name of God," and the "sacred name of God." It's been used by the Sufis for many, many centuries. There's a wonderful piece by Hazrat Inayat Khan several decades ago where he was commenting about the Holy Word, and how in the east the HU is considered one of the holiest of holies. It is the unspoken word. It emanates from the highest regions of pure consciousness. And that is something that anybody can work with, I believe, that will tap them in to this uplifting flow of Spirit, and attain harmony.
There are also, as I said a second ago, specifically charged words that a teacher can give an individual that, based on the teacher's experience and their relationship with a student, they intuit what a good word is for that student to work with. Sometimes that mantra is for life. Sometimes it is for a period of time, that will take that student to a certain phase of consciousness.
The point of any real charged word is to create a linkage between the consciousness of the individual and Spirit. And, basically to open up that inner door and let Spirit flow through.
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