The Essence of Self-Realization by Paramhansa Yogananda
Quotes from Paramhansa Yogananda on Meditation
The soul loves to meditate, for in contact with the Spirit lies its greatest joy. If, then, you experience mental resistance during meditation, remember that reluctance to meditate comes from the ego; it doesn’t belong to the soul.
The devotee who makes the supreme effort is the one who finds God. Not the one who keeps seeking excuses, saying, “Let me find a quiet place; then I’ll meditate.” Procrastinators will never reach God. But if you tell yourself, “Right now I will go deep in meditation!” you can be there in an instant.
When a person is really sleepy, can’t he fall asleep anywhere? So is it with the person who loves God. He can meditate even in a train station or in the market place.
One who wants to be a concert pianist will practice at the piano twelve hours a day. If, instead, his practice consists of pecking halfheartedly at the keys for a few minutes every day, he’ll never become any good as a pianist.
That’s how it is with the search for God. How can you expect to know Him if you only half try?
It is very difficult to reach God. If even a concert pianist must work hard to become successful in his profession, how much more earnestly must the devotee “work” at meditation in order to realize the Infinite!
Here, however, is an encouraging thought: Everyone who makes a sincere effort on the spiritual path will surely reach his goal. You cannot say that of worldly ambition. Not everyone can become a famous pianist, no matter how hard he tries. For in every field there is room at the top for very few. All men, however, can claim their sonship equally with the Heavenly Father.
To meditate a short time with depth is better than to meditate for long hours with the mind running wild.
In the beginning, therefore, don’t force yourself to sit for a long time. Strive for shorter, but deeper, meditations. Then gradually, as you become accustomed to going deep, lengthen the time you sit in meditation.
Don’t feel badly if you find yourself too restless to meditate deeply. Calmness will come in time, if you practice regularly. Just never accept the thought that meditation is not for you. Remember, calmness is your eternal, true nature.
In meditation, try to go beyond thinking. As long as thoughts enter the mind, you are functioning on the conscious level.
When dreaming, you are in subconsciousness; then you are more aware in the astral body.
When your consciousness withdraws still more deeply, into superconsciousness, then you are centered in bliss, in the spine. In that bliss-state you are aware in the causal body, the soul.
A devotee was having difficulty remaining awake during meditation. To him, Yogananda made this suggestion: Squeeze your eyes shut several times, then open them wide and stare straight ahead. Repeat this practice once or twice more. If you do this, sleepiness will cease to bother you.
While meditating, don’t concentrate on the results of meditation. Meditate, rather, to please God. If you seek results, you will be disappointed if they don’t come.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna counsels action without desire for the fruits of action. Meditation, too, should be approached in this spirit.
Meditate without attachment to the fruits of meditation.
A disciple was digging a cesspool at the Master’s desert retreat. He kept on digging all day long, without stopping to see how far he had come. That evening, to his amazement, he found that he had dug a deep hole.
When Paramhansa Yogananda saw what he had accomplished, he said approvingly, That is how the devotee must seek God-continually digging, digging, without looking to see how far he has come. Then one day, suddenly, he will find himself there!
As Lahiri Mahasaya used to tell his disciples, “Banat, banat, ban jai!-doing, doing, at last done!”
“Where motion ceases,” the Master said, “God begins.”
A disciple was having difficulty with his meditations. He asked Sri Yogananda, “Am I not trying hard enough?”
The Master answered, “You are trying too hard. You are using too much will power. It becomes nervous. Just be relaxed and natural.
As long as you try to meditate, you won’t be able to, just as you can’t sleep so long as you will yourself to sleep. Will power should be used gradually. Otherwise, it may become detrimental. That’s why it is better, in the beginning, to emphasize relaxation.”
Do not get excited or impatient in your efforts to find God. Be wholehearted, but not anxious about getting results. Be patient. Move toward your divine goal ever calmly, with tranquillity.
Meditate more and more deeply, until calmness and joy become second nature to you.
To be ecstatic is not difficult. It is thinking that it is difficult that holds you apart from it. Never think of divine joy as distant from you, and it will be with you always.
Paramhansa Yogananda told the monks, “Memorize my poem, Samadhi, and repeat it daily. It will help to awaken within you that lost memory of what you are in reality: sons of Infinity.”
Try to feel, when walking out of doors, that everything around you is part of your own expanded awareness.
Behold the leaves trembling on the trees, and try to feel their movement. Imagine in that movement that God is expressing His thoughts and inspirations.
Watch the meadow grasses as they wave in the wind. Imagine the breeze as God’s breath blowing over the world, inspiring all beings and giving them life.
Listen to the birds singing. Feel that God, through their songs, is trying to reach you with feelings of divine gladness.
Be aware of the sun’s rays on your skin. Think of the heat you feel from the sun as God’s energy. Let it fill your body with vitality and power. Imagine divine energy, through the sunlight, strengthening creatures everywhere on earth.
“Master,” said a disciple, “I am afraid to go breathless in meditation. What can I do to overcome this limitation?”
“What you are facing is a normal obstacle on the path,” replied Yogananda. “’False notion,’ it is called. You are fearing something that, to the soul, is perfectly natural: deep stillness within.
Your mind is like a bird that has been locked in a cage for many years. It fears liberty. Yet, freedom is its birthright.
Someone opens the door to let the bird out. It may hop outside a short distance, but then suddenly it thinks, ‘Oh, this vast world!’ Terrified, it hops hurriedly back into its cage again.
Gradually, then, by repeated sorties, the bird becomes accustomed to being outside its cage. Then at last, one day, it spreads its wings and soars up into the sky, free at last! And why is it free? Quite simply, because it has finally accepted freedom as its natural state.
So it is with the devotee when he first experiences soul-freedom. But remember, as it is natural for the bird to fly up into the sky, so is it natural for the soul to soar in omnipresence.
Just behind the darkness of closed eyes shines the light of God. When you behold that light in meditation, hold onto it with devotional zeal. Feel yourself inside it: That is where God dwells.
If, on the other hand, you behold no light in meditation, then concentrate at the point between the eyebrows, and gaze deeply into the darkness that you see with closed eyes. Try, by your devotion, to penetrate that thick veil.
In time you will surely behold the inner light, for it is ever there, shining in your forehead. Just as all human beings have eyes, so does everyone have this spiritual eye within his forehead. It awaits only his discovery in deep concentration within.
A bent spine is the enemy of realization. In meditation, always hold your spine straight, that the life force may flow through it unobstructed.
Next, hold your attention fixed at the Christ center between the eyebrows. The more deeply you concentrate at that point, the more you will find your ego dissolving in superconsciousness.
As a boy, I used to practice Hong-Sau sometimes for seven hours at a time, until I entered the breathless state of ecstasy.
If you eat your dinner and then run, you won’t be able to enjoy what you’ve eaten; you may only get indigestion. But if you rest afterwards, you will find that this is the best time to enjoy the effects of your meal.
Follow the same practice after finishing Kriya Yoga. Don’t jump up immediately, but sit still for a long time-as long as you can do so comfortably. Pray to God deeply. Practice Bhakti Yoga, or devotion. Or watch the flow of breath in the spine while practicing Hong-Sau. Or listen to the inner sounds with open ears.
A disciple asked, ”How can intuition be developed?“
Yogananda: ”The best way is, every time you meditate, to sit calmly for a long time after doing the techniques. It is during this period that you will be able to deepen your awareness of God’s presence within you. Go ever deeper in your enjoyment of that presence.
“The longer and more deeply you enjoy the peace within, the more quickly will your intuition develop.”