Everyone meditates on something – the surfer meditates on waves, a mother meditates on her children, an executive meditates on money, a musician meditates on music. Some meditators try to meditate away all thoughts to reach a state of blank mind. But what is the deepest meaning of meditation? How do you develop a truly spiritual consciousness? Learn more in this enlightening class by Jagad Guru.
The Deeper Meaning of Meditation
Jagad Guru: Okay, when you hear the word ‘meditation’ what do you think? What comes to your mind? What comes to your mind?
Man in the Audience: Meditating to try to become calm, trying to relax from the pressures of the world. People trying to kind of get free from stress.
Jagad Guru: Yeah you’re right. What about you?
Woman in the Audience: To become peaceful and control my mind.
Jagad Guru: Okay, how about sitting with your eyes closed falling asleep? (laughter) How about that? Isn’t that the most… most people when they think of meditation they think of sitting down, right? I mean, most people don’t think of meditating standing up. What do you think? Sitting down is part of it, right? Okay, so sitting down is meditation, and what else is meditation? Your eyes have got to be closed, okay. So if you’re sitting down and your eyes are closed, you’re meditating. (laughter) If you’re not snoring, okay. So we’ll be talking about meditation. So this is what we’ll be dealing with today, okay?
Everybody meditates, okay? EVERYBODY meditates on something, okay? A mother may be meditating on her children, “Where’s Johnny? He’s not home yet. It’s five o’clock. Where’s Johnny? He’s not home yet. It’s five o’clock.” She’s meditating on her kid. Okay? A dog meditates on cats, (laughter) okay? Everybody’s meditating. The surfer meditates on waves, okay?
Meditation really means, while I’m at it (laughs), is most businessmen meditate on money, okay, and politicians meditate on power, okay? Meditation means what your mind is on, what your attention is on, what your consciousness is focused upon. That’s what you’re meditating on, that’s what meditation is, okay? This is the real meaning of meditation. So meditation is neutral in a sense; you can meditate on one thing or another. But meditation is not necessarily spiritual. But when we speak of meditation, spiritual meditation, meditation in the spiritual sense, we’re meaning something specific. Now, like we’re saying, many people think meditation means sitting down with your legs crossed and your eyes closed, alright? That’s what most people think spiritual meditation means, okay? But in fact it doesn’t mean that either. That’s not spiritual meditation.
There’s a cartoon I once saw. A guy was, a Buddhist monk guy was sitting there in his orange robes and his bald head. Sitting there meditating. Everybody thought he was meditating but there’s a little, you know those kind of pictures they have above the head, cloud-type thing? What he’s thinking, yeah? A thought bubble – beautiful woman. What’s he meditating on? So it may appear to others, “Oh, he’s meditating.” But he may be meditating on any nonsense, alright? He may be meditating on money. He may be meditating on a beautiful woman, okay? Some people think meditation means simply sitting with your eyes closed but not falling asleep, or almost falling asleep but not falling asleep. Struggling not to fall asleep. That’s meditation. You sit there for twenty minutes with your eyes closed struggling to sit down with your eyes closed and not fall asleep, okay? All you’re meditating on is sleep. You’re meditating on how not to fall asleep, or you may be meditating upon how your legs are sore or whatever. But just sitting quietly for twenty minutes or thirty minutes, that’s not meditation.
Other people, they may think meditation means sitting quietly with your eyes closed and having your mind blank, okay? Nothing in your mind, and of course there’s no such thing. As soon as you think there’s nothing in your mind then that nothing also must have substance. Nothing? You’re going to think of nothing? How do you think of nothing? “Oh, I almost had it!” (laughter) “I’m thinking of nothing!” Then the thought, “I’m thinking of nothing,” came in and ruined the whole bit, ruined the whole thing. Thinking of nothing. (laughs) Everybody always has their consciousness on something. Material or spiritual, the consciousness is always on something. Some people, they will try to make it so that their mind is free from all worldly thoughts. This is good. This is getting close to real meditation. But how? They try to make it so that by some method or other they make their mind devoid of all thoughts of material: material forms, names, questions, problems, concerns. But they have nothing else to put their mind on. So all they can do is struggle to try to push things out of their mind or to sit and wait and hope they’ll all leave. Sooner or later if they just keep on saying this mantra over and over again, that all these things will eventually fly away. They’re looking for void. They’re looking for zero. The highest stage of meditation they can conceive of is a condition of consciousness where there’s nothing in their mind at all. It’s just an absolute blank, okay? I know some people who are pretty blank in consciousness (laughs) but that’s not necessarily spiritual.
What is real meditation? Real meditation, real spiritual meditation, meditation in a spiritual sense is meditation upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead; keeping one’s consciousness fixed upon God. Now the impersonalist – one who denies the Personality of Godhead, he denies the transcendental spiritual form of God – this impersonalist struggles to keep his mind on God, but God is void so all he can do is try to imagine what God is, and the only thing he can imagine is whatever would be left if everything in the world was taken away. Zero, void, a blank. He starts to conceive of God as simply a blank. Okay? He can’t put his mind or his consciousness on God.
Meditation is upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead. God is a person and you can keep your consciousness upon Him – upon His beauty, upon his power, upon His glory, upon His words, upon His pastimes, upon His transcendental form, upon His names. This is meditation. Meditation means to be remembering God in a favorable way. Not remembering God as an atheist remembers God. An atheist always remembers God, too. “There is no God. There is no God. It’s causing so much trouble, this God. God!” He is also always remembering God but not in a favorable way.
Real meditation means to be remembering God in a favorable way. If a person wants to meditate upon God, then they should realize that it’s not necessarily something that a person can do just by sitting down with their eyes closed. There is nothing wrong with sitting down with your eyes closed, sitting down quietly with your eyes closed. You may get a little relaxed. And you may even relieve your tension but that’s… there’s nothing wrong with that and that may assist you in helping you put your mind on God. But that is not actually necessary for meditation. Meditation means loving remembrance of God, remembrance of God.
When you speak about remembering God, you’re also speaking about remembering your relationship with God, and your function, your duty in connection with God, okay? Who are you? Who is God? What is your relationship? The relationship is one of service, loving service. If you know who you are, part and parcel of God, spirit soul, spirit, not matter, if you know that you are the eternal spirit soul, only temporarily in this material body, if you have this spiritual understanding, if you have this, and you understand that you are a part and parcel of God and you are acting on this fact by rendering loving service to God in this life, in this world, trying to serve Him, trying to please Him then your life will be a life of meditation upon God.
Just like, for example, sometimes a family man – he works hard all day at the office you know. Maybe he’s working six, seven o’clock at night hassling over all these papers and everything, you know. “Ohh,” he wants to go. And he looks over at this picture of his wife and kids sitting on the desk. And he remembers why he’s going through all this trouble, why he’s going through all this sacrifice. He looks at the picture of his wife and kids and he gets motivation to continue on with what he’s doing, okay. This shows how a person’s life’s activity and his meditation is connected.
If God is the person Who you’re serving, if God is the most important person in your life, so that your entire life’s activities are centered around Him, focused around Him, okay, just like the example of this man whose life was centered around serving his family, in the same way, if your life is centered around serving God, pleasing God, then in the same way that the family man remembers his family, you will remember God. It’s the same principle. But because the object of meditation is God, this is what makes it different.
You can take the same principle and apply it to God and your whole life will become a life of meditation upon God. If you dovetail your life with God’s will, you dovetail your will with God’s will, then you’re always going to be thinking of Him. It’s automatic.
For example, we teach the process of sadhana bhakti or bhakti yoga. Bhakti yoga has several different, not just practices, but several different ways of applying practices, if you like. One of them is that a person… let’s say, well, anyway, one of them is that a person dovetails their tendencies, their abilities, in God’s service. So, for example, a person who’s a businessman, he just has this tendency to do business. He works as a businessman. He can do business but instead of doing his business simply for himself, thinking, “Oh, let me do this business and make a lot of money so that I can enjoy life,” or you know, unlike so many people on Wall Street that simply try to make more money, to make more money, to make more money endlessly just for the power of it, just to feel that they are getting somewhere, that they’re controlling something, this God-conscious person, he engages in business but he only keeps the amount of money, the profit, to keep the business going that’s necessary, and for himself and his family – only enough to make it so that they can live their life. He does not think, “All of this is mine.” He’s feeling that, “I’m doing this for business for God and the profits really belong to Him,” – that this is His business. He doesn’t think of his business, whether it’s a store, or a particular tailor shop, or whatever kind of business it may be, surfboard shop. He’s feeling, “This is not my business. This is God’s. This belongs to God. I am working for Him. This is His store and I’m working here, I’m the manager. Okay? This is His and I’m managing it.” That’s all. And the money that comes in, it’s His. It belongs to Him, okay.
So that means that every time he sees the money he thinks of who owns it, right? Because he’s… it’s now interconnected. Now God is connected with his activities. So when he sees the money he doesn’t see, “Oh big yachts!” and all kinds of new things for sensual enjoyment, okay. When he sees the money, he doesn’t think, “Oh power. Me – more power!” He doesn’t… see, most businessmen they’re like that, you see. Either when they see the money they either experience, in their mind, they start thinking, “Oooh, senses! Oooh, I can enjoy with this. Oh, the profits I can enjoy.” They’re enjoying like this, or, they’re thinking, “Power!” They start feeling, “Oh, I’m getting the power.” But a person who’s God conscious and who feels that this is actually God’s, this is actually God’s business doesn’t have this, doesn’t have this experience.
When he sees the money and he sees there is more money, then he goes, “Oh, this is more money I can offer to the Supreme Lord. This is His. This is a whole other outlet.” When he sees money he thinks of God; he doesn’t think of sense enjoyment and he doesn’t think of his own power. He simply remembers his relationship with God that, “I am God’s servant.” So in this sense, money then becomes a method which helps him remember God. Money which is the root of all evil, money which is so degrading, money – this lowest of all things, which is the god of everyone, the idol worshipped by the people, that, even this thing itself, can become an instigator of God-consciousness for someone who’s dovetailing his whole life around God. This is a process of karma yoga or bhakti yoga.
A person’s whole life can be centered around God. Maybe they’re a mother and they’re raising their children. Maybe they have no talents. They can’t make money. From the very beginning, she can be speaking and singing to her child the names of God.
Meditation means keeping the mind on God. And the process of bhakti yoga is a process of dovetailing or arranging a person’s entire life around, or arranging a person’s entire life in such a way so that they can always be in loving remembrance of God, remembering their eternal identity, their eternal relationship with the Supreme Eternal Person.
The most central method of bhakti yoga, that method which is so simple and sublime and easy, which everyone can apply, from the youngest to the oldest. Everyone, no matter what their work is, or anything, the way they work or anything, it doesn’t matter. Anyone and everyone can hear and repeat, hear and sing, hear and chant the names of God. And by hearing and chanting the beautiful names of God, a person can always be in remembrance of God.
When you hear God’s name, you remember God. You remember His transcendental form. You remember your relationship with Him. You remember His words, you remember His teachings. You remember everything about Him! Okay? So everything is contained there in His names.
So if a person wants to meditate on God, which is real spiritual meditation, if a person wants to really meditate, then they should realize that they can be in meditation all the time if they simply take up the practice of the regular hearing and chanting of God’s holy names. They can chant God’s names while they’re walking, while they’re driving, while they’re sitting with their eyes closed silently. They can be chanting.
Thank you very much.