The Inner Workings of the Mind
by Sri Goswami Kriyananda from Advanced Guide to Meditation
I would like to address some frequently asked questions about meditation. The first is, “Can I change the personality of another person by chanting a mantra for them?” I do not think that a person can change anyone else’s personality by chanting for that person. Its purpose is not even to change God’s mind. The purpose of mantra is to transform ourselves so we are more able to help others via example or wisdom. The only thing we can breathe in is that which we already have within our being. We can pass on data and knowledge. We can momentarily help people. We can momentarily inspire people. If they take these gifts and use them, they will unfold. However, no human being can change the destiny of another. We can only be the bringers of their own karma.
The second question is, “Must we attain a meditative state in order to grow spiritually?” The answer is, “Yes, absolutely!” We cannot attain any stage of enlightenment without first attaining a meditative state of consciousness. We must not only attain a state of meditation; we must sustain that state. All books, scriptures and teachers concur on this point. It is much easier to attain a meditative state, as difficult as it might be, than to maintain such a state.
Consider the story of the young student who thought he had studied long enough at an ashram. He thought it was time to leave and get married, so he asked his guru for advice. The guru answered, “Yes, it is very easy to find a woman. It is very easy to get married. However, it is much more difficult to stay married, and it is impossible to stay married unless you are alert, wise and unselfish. These qualities are the result of meditation. Furthermore, you should remember that there are pathways to meditation, including reading, reflection and lecturing compassionately.” If you use this example and replace the word marriage with any other word to which you can relate, you will have the secret to all mysticism.
As difficult as it might be, it is easy to move through life. As difficult as it may be, it is easy to create. However, it is much more difficult to sustain that which you have created, and it is almost impossible to sustain that creation harmoniously.
In truth, the only thing that is easy to do is to destroy that which another person has created because we all have within our astral body many seeds of negative karma. The concept behind meditation and the reason we meditate is to gain deeper insight into Life so that we have greater ability to create and sustain that creation harmoniously. In so doing, we can truly help people, rather than just interfering in their lives.
The next question is, “Can a person attain a state of meditation instantaneously?” Again, the answer is, no. (Although, psychologically, it is wise to leave this possibility open.) For everyone, it takes years of hard, self-directed effort to produce a state of meditation in which the blessings of bliss, wisdom, happiness and insight manifest. This meditative state is called Samadhi. When this state of consciousness is attained, it is attained in a millisecond of time. Once attained, it will never be forgotten. That is one of the marks of a Samadhi state.
It is just like finding real love, something that very few people have ever experienced. Once it is experienced, no matter how long one lives, he will never forget it. The experience of love is what makes gentlemen or gentlewomen out of barbarians, saints out of sinners and sages out of fools.
The key point here lies in our memory tract. I ask you to meditate on the question, “What is the difference between an experience and the memory of that experience?” Have you ever traveled to a large city? If you have, right at this moment think of the city. Were you thinking of that city before I mentioned it? I am sure you were not. The truth is that when you think of one of these places, you are actually there; for it, and you, exist in your memory bank.
In the same way, once you have experienced a millisecond of Samadhi, that which the Samadhi reveals is yours forever. Actually it was already in your consciousness (super-consciously) at that time. However, now that you have experienced it, it will remain in your consciousness consciously.
Have you ever been in a room when the lights went off? Do you remember how difficult it was to keep your eyes open in the room? When our physical eyes are closed, we cannot see anything. However, the “single eye” remains open at all times. When we are single-eyed, we can “see” in the “dark”. The dark is a symbol of non-memory or forgetfulness. The memory of an experience and the experience itself are not mutually exclusive. They might not even be different states of consciousness.
The experience of Samadhi stays with us, no matter what other experiences or states we may be experiencing on the surface of our mind and sometimes at a deeper level.
Copyright © 2014 Goswami Kriyananda