How Do I Begin
So often they tell me: This philosophy that you explain to us is so appealing. But how do we put it into practice? Where do we start? As you know, we are all busy in this workaday world and do not get the environment or helpful circumstances that you may enjoy in your ashram. You speak of consciousness, change of nature, soul-values and so on. Do you have any kind of daily framework for the practice of this teaching? Others have asanas, japa, chanting, meditations, classes and so on. That helps one to orientate one’s life in the desired direction. Even for a psychological change such as you speak of some kind of external support is necessary, is it not?
The more I see and the more I move with people, I feel the force of this need. I have thought of this time and again and I propose to formulate a broad programme for the daily life of the seeker after Integral Perfection. It is understood that this is only a flexible outline to be filled in and adapted by each individual according to his needs and circumstances.
Though written primarily for seekers of the Integral Yoga, these pages could be helpful to aspirants of all paths.
It is always advisable for the spiritual seeker to get up as early as possible in the morning and thus take advantage of the hour that is specially favourable for spiritual gathering of consciousness. Before dawn, forces in nature have not yet moved into activity and there is in the atmosphere a calm and serenity that promote the same movements in the being of one who is awake and alert at the time. If sleep is strong, you may have a cup of tea or coffee or any warm beverage, or water (hot or cold, with or without honey), and walk a bit. Thereafter should begin your programme of meditation.
Sit erect, whether it be on the floor or on a raised seat. If you use the floor take care to spread a mat or a cloth. Do not sit on bare ground; that sucks your inner electricity away. Take a few deep breaths. Look straight, do not bend your head down. Draw the mind away from its state of dispersal and turn it either inward or upward. There are two main centres of meditation: in the heart region or in the head,—in or about the centre of the eyebrows or above the forehead or at the back of the head. See which is natural for you and follow that direction.
Let us say you start with the heart centre. Conceive of the Divine Presence in the core of the heart. There in the deepest cave of the being, hrid- guha, is the Divine Consciousness. This Consciousness may be experienced as a Light, as a Presence, as a Sweet Magnet, as a fount of Love, as the Immobile Self, the Immortal Being. Aspire to reach that. Use the breath, if you like, as a thread to plunge into your depths, step by step. Thoughts may rush in and distract. Do not pay attention to them. Ignore them. Keep the main part of the mind centred round the object of your pursuit. Go within. Or if that be your natural direction, close the eyes and turn your attention upward. Conceive of a Solid Silence or Peace or a Vastness above the mind. Keep the mind still and open to that Higher Consciousness. Aspire for the descent of that Consciousness. If thoughts interfere, do not get upset, ignore them; they will play on the surface and die away. Only do not participate in them.
If you work on the heart centre, slowly you will feel a kind of pull from within. You will sense a flow of peace, of sweetness, of benevolence from the inner regions of the soul. If you concentrate above the head, you will become conscious of some movement of a flow from above within your head. It will be concrete. In response to your aspiration and call, a movement of Descent starts and you may feel your head heavy. Heaviness—pleasant or unpleasant—is an indication that the influx has started and the process of assimilation has begun. Till the system learns to absorb the influx, there is this kind of physical sensation.
You should choose a place for meditation that is favourable for this ingathering. May be in the open, facing the sky or in your room in front of a picture or Image or Symbol of the Divine, or of the Guru who represents the Divine for you. Such a representation has a power of its own and when trusted and adored, it exerts its influence and functions as the presiding Force over your sitting. You may, if you find that helpful, repeat the Name or Mantra that is meaningful to you. That helps to keep the mind focussed and creates a magnetic field of spiritual vibrations around you. This is specially helpful in the beginning of the exercise. If too many thoughts disturb, open the eyes for a while, but continue to dwell on the object of meditation. After a while the eyes will close by themselves.
You may sit for about half an hour. If the movement continues by itself for longer periods, you have to allot the time to do so. If, during the meditation, you see any lights or figures or images, observe them quietly; do not try to interpret them immediately; do not shut them out. So also with sounds. They are generally signs of the opening of the subtler senses of sight or hearing. Some get to experience such phenomena, some do not. The right attitude in these matters is not to ask for experiences, not to anticipate them. Also not to worry if they do not occur. They do not, in every case. What is really important is the settling of peace, purity, and aspiration.
These periods of meditation are to be treated as pace-setters. You should try and continue the spirit of meditation during other hours. That is to say, you must prolong and keep alive the poise of peace, benevolence, purity that develop during the meditation, for the rest of the day. Do not allow anything to happen during the day that conflicts with the inner state that you experience or glimpse as being possible for you in the meditational session. Movements like anger, agitation, anxiety, total extroversion are clearly to be excised. Room must be given for the spread of the deeper or higher movements that form themselves during meditation.