This volume is intended to dispel the cloud of confusionthat has accumulated around the subject of meditation. Thosewho are looking for secret short-cuts, novel innovations, excitingnew trends and fads in the area of self-development may bedisappointed. The methods presented here stem from the classicfour paths of Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and BhaktiYoga. These are given in their uncorrupted form, yet with consideration for the Western mind and scientific tradition.
Meditation is a universal tradition which traces its originthousands of years before the advent of today’s civilization. Thescience of meditation has survived uninterrupted and exhaustive testing as it has passed from generation to generation. It hasendured in its original form because the outstanding and fundamental appeals of Yoga have been Tolerance, Universality,and Simplicity. Within its simple framework are contained theprincipal teachings and approaches which make up the sub-stance of all known philosophies, religions, and disciplines. Ifone understands the four paths to meditation, it is possible tounravel the trappings and mysterious elements of any religiousor philosophical system.
The shelves of bookstores are overloaded with numerous''new developments'' and streamlined approaches to meditation.But many are by the blind leading the blind, with little or ‘noexperience to back the methods they tout. There are one-sidedfanatics, Mantra hucksters, and outright charlatans. Some promise rapid development of psychic powers. Others are modernspiritual propagandists and con-men. Even the Madison Avenuecontingent is well represented. There are only a handful of self-less Masters teaching true spiritual disciplines of meditation.
Real meditation is liberation from the clutches of the sensesand lower mind. By definition it is transcendental, the word notbeing used as an advertising slogan, but to convey the beautyof meditation, in which all fears, desires, longings and negativeemotions are transcended. The meditator reaches the super-conscious state in which he or she is able to identify with theall-blissful Self. In this transcendental state there is no awarenessof body, mind, or duality, and the knower becomes one with theknowledge and the known.
There is no need for mystery or secrecy about Mantras orany other accessory to meditation. There are no spiritual injunctions against discussing one’s Mantra. A Mantra is a mysticalenergy encased in a sound structure. Its vibrations directly affectthe chakras, or energy centers of the body. It steadies the mindand leads to the stillness of meditation. Those Mantras whichare suitable for meditation are included in this book.
Many concoctions of syllables which are currently beingpeddled in the West as Mantras are obviously bogus. These''Mantras'' can lead to deep relaxation but nothing more. So canthe repetition of any word or meaningless phrase. One can evenslow the pulse and breathing as well as lower the blood pressureby sitting still and concentrating on a ticking clock or drippingwater tap.
Life in the West has become computerized, compartmentalized and oriented towards instant results. But the traditionfrom which the four yogic paths stem is a holistic one. In thissystem science, religion, philosophy, psychology, and health areall integrated. In the same way, the various classical meditationtechniques that have been in use over the ages are based on soliddiscipline and regular practice. Proper breathing, proper exercise,proper relaxation, proper diet, and positive thinking are thenecessary groundwork for successful meditation. These arecovered to some extent in the first chapters, although for acomprehensive view of these and other aspects of Hatha andRaja Yoga, you may want to refer to my previous book, TheComplete Illustrated Book of Yoga.
If this book clarifies the methods and aim of meditation,it will have served its purpose. The spiritual quest is a thornypath that ultimately must be walked alone. My own path hasbeen blessed by the firm, compassionate, and boundless wisdomof my master, India’s late great saint and sage, H. H. Sri SwamiSivananda Maharaj. If, through me as his instrument, the echoof his words and insight can guide the footsteps of seekers inthe Western world, I shall have achieved my earthly purpose.
Finally, I wish to gratefully acknowledge the followingpeople whose contributions helped to make this book possible:Dr. Fritjof Capra, for permission to reprint excerpts from hisspeech ''The Yoga of Physics'' and the photomontage of dancingSiva in particle tracks taken from his ‘book The Tao of Physics;Nicholas and June Regush, for permission to reprint from theirbook Mind Search; Silamata Karuna, for her extensive researchand editorial expertise; Silvio Paladini, for the Kundalini Chakraillustrations; and the many disciples and students of theSivananda Yoga mission for invaluable aid in artwork, editing,proofreading, and typing.
**Contents and Sample Pages**