Swamiji, how do I teach myself to concentrate?
The first step is remembering. Whatever you choose as the Goal, go on remembering that. Remembrance will create longing, and the more you remember your Goal the more you develop concentration. Every time you forget just come back to it. When your mind is continuously on your Goal that is concentration. This takes practice.
How do I learn to do this while I am doing other activities?
First you have to sit daily in meditation; then do your activities. The time will come when you will be able to balance your outer world with inner calm. Meditation is like a rehearsal before engaging in outer activities. You have to first rehearse within you, focus your mind on your Goal, then retain your focus while doing activities. You will fail at first but keep doing it.
What can we do to open our hearts more?
Call upon God, pray in the night, in the silent hours. In loneliness and silence love grows, not in crowds. Remember God, read the words of masters and Prophets, attend Satsang, meditate, do your duties selflessly, and avoid unnecessary relationships and gossip. If you cannot remember God well within your heart, keep an image and sit in silence with that. Love is silent and pacifying.
Sing the glory of God—that also invokes love—realizing His glory, wherever you may be. Feeling oneness with nature, rivers, mountains, trees, people, animals, birds, oceans, weather, sunshine, starry nights, moonlit nights, clouds and lightning—it is all the glory of God. And above all—I’m quoting Kabir here—the shortest, safest and surest way of invoking God’s love is to keep company with lovers of God.
In some of the reading I have done I understand that meditation is not something separate in one’s life but is practiced continuously. Would you elaborate on that?
That is the goal: what we call incessant prayer. Then meditation becomes part and parcel of your life, but this needs practice on and on, as much as you can, until it becomes incessant prayer, incessant meditation. First make your mind habituated by sitting twice, thrice, or even four times a day for any length of time you comfortably can. This should not be done by mechanically forcing yourself, because if you meditate too much in the beginning or middle stages, often you become so fatigued that you may give up meditation. You have to slowly and steadily grow into meditation until you come to twenty-four hours, which of course is a very blessed state.
Go slow and steady with sustained practice. Ultimately meditation becomes incessant, breath-by-breath as we call it. In each breath there should be the name of God. Some yogis achieve this state, so much so that when they go to sleep their inner being goes on repeating the Name. But we have to start slowly and steadily in order to make the nervous system not react but take this in properly. That is why we stress moderation, so that you grow with sustained effort without adverse effects. Patience is required. Then you will be successful.
Can we integrate love of God and meditation?
Yes, of course. Through deep meditation your love of God will grow. Put it another way: if you love your God intensely you will automatically be in meditation. Love of God, the path of devotion, is the same as deep meditation. These paths are all interconnected. Those who are accepted by God are those who love God with all their heart and mind and might. They achieve the purpose of life. To keep the focus on the purpose of life means no compromise. Sages have compassion for those who still want to play. They say, “You want to play, so play. But that is not the purpose of life.” The purpose of life is immortality, the Self that never dies. This can be achieved through deep meditation, through intense love of God or Guru, through becoming egoless.
When you become Enlightened, awakened, that is the life. It has been called Sat Chit Ananda—absolute Existence, Consciousness, Bliss. If you are fully conscious you are awakened and blissful. Intense practice, intense love and intense meditation take you to that higher stage. Once you have reached this you will relax; you will not try to change the conditions around you. In all three ways it is contentment and that leads to relaxation. And true relaxation leads to a rise of consciousness. Life’s purpose is not achieved through work; it is achieved through your own Self. The self-expression of the soul is achieved through intense love of God, intense love of Guru.
Is witnessing the same state as being here now?
If you are in the here and now you do not need witnessing. You have achieved Consciousness. Witnessing is still an unconscious state of mind. Why? The mind has the capacity to divide into various departments and one part of that can be witnessing. This is still dualism. You witness whatever it is in the mind, whether it is sad or pleasant. When you are awakened there is nothing to witness. You are conscious being. To arrive at this non-dualistic absolute awareness, witnessing helps as an exercise. Whom are you witnessing? Yourself. You witness your relationships, your aspirations, your happiness and sorrow, losses and gains, in other words: the world in which you are involved and identified. Witnessing helps you to come out of that involvement, to detach yourself.
What happens is that when you are practicing to be a witness of your mind, by habit alone you will go on slipping back into involvement. When you succeed relatively well in not being dragged back into involvement—attachment, enjoying or suffering— that is the threshold of realizing the joy of liberation. It is not full liberation but once you taste that joy even a little, you will know, “That’s what I want.” You will surmise what joy would be if you were totally free from anything mental: that is actual Liberation.
What is the link that a mantra makes between Master and disciple?
When a Master initiates a disciple the link is already made. Mantra is a sound, a medium or instrument through which a Master hears and receives from the disciple, a communication. The Master knows how a disciple repeats the mantra not only technically but also devotionally. A Satguru, not any guru, knows when a disciple is calling or repeating the mantra. On the astral plane the Satguru is mentally linked to the disciple.
A mantra is one way of linking and meditation is another way.
© 2014 by Truth Consciousness. Excerpted from the Satsangs: Concentration (P-17), You and Your God (Q-5), Reasons for Spiritual Practices (P-3), Relaxation and Deep Meditation (P-49), Witnessing and True Judgment (P-51), and Spiritual Practices in Our Life (P-52). For further information on the audio Satsangs of Swami Amar Jyoti, visit truthconsciousness.org.