Can you please speak on discipline and meditation?
Niten, it is a very strange question because every day, morning and evening, I am speaking on discipline and meditation. If anybody reads your question, he will think that for the first time I have to speak on discipline and meditation! Where have you been for so long?
You remind me of two old friends; they meet on a street in Leningrad…
“How is life treating you,” asks one.
“Just great,” replies the other.
The first one looks at him dubiously and says, “Have you been reading the papers?”
“Of course,” replies the other, “how else would I know!”
People know about their own lives by reading newspapers, and I have been telling you every day about meditation and nothing else, and you are asking…!
A little old Jewish lady sits down on a plane next to a big Norwegian. She keeps staring and staring at him. Finally she turns to him and says, “Pardon me, are you Jewish?”
“No,” he replies. A few minutes go by and she looks at him again and says, “You can tell me — you are Jewish, aren’t you?”
He answers, “Definitely not.”
She keeps studying him, and says again, “I can tell you are Jewish!”
In order to get her to stop annoying him, the gentleman says, “Okay, I am Jewish.”
She looks at him and shakes her head back and forth and says, “Really, you don’t look it!”
I am wondering from where to begin! Niten, meditation is the only contribution the East has made to humanity. The West has made many contributions, thousands of scientific inventions, immense progress in medicine, unbelievable discoveries in all the dimensions in life. But still, a single contribution of the East is far more valuable than all the contributions of the West.
The West has become rich; it has all the technology to be rich. The East has become poor, immensely poor, because it has not looked for anything else except for one thing, and that is one’s own inner being. Its richness is something which cannot be seen, but it has known the highest peaks of bliss, the greatest depths of silence. It has known the eternity of life; it has known the most beautiful flowering of love, compassion, joy. Its whole genius has been devoted to a single search — you can call it ecstasy.
Meditation is only a technique to reach to the ecstatic state, to the state of divine intoxication. It is a simple technique, but the mind makes it very complex. Mind has to make it very complex and difficult, because both cannot exist together. Meditation is the death of the mind.
Naturally, mind resists every effort for meditation. And if you go on without listening to the mind… It is clever and cunning enough to give you false directions and call them meditation.
Just today I was informed about one of the people who has been for many years a disciple of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He is now here meditating, but he continues his master Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s meditation too.
What Maharishi Mahesh Yogi calls transcendental meditation is neither transcendental nor meditation. It is a mind trick. Just one thing is missing in it — I have been telling you about the monkey — and the person who is here should remember it! Transcendental meditation works only if you don’t remember the monkey. So from tomorrow morning, be careful! The slightest remembrance of the monkey and transcendental meditation is meaningless.
In fact, after eighteen years being with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and doing his transcendental meditation, what is the need to come here? But mind is so cunning that he is consoling himself that perhaps it is his master, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who has sent him here. But why should he send you here? I don’t consider that he knows anything at all about meditation. What Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is teaching in the name of meditation has been known for centuries in the East by almost everybody that it is a psychological trick. It is not harmful. On the contrary, it can give you a little rest; it can give you a good feeling as if you have taken a shower. But it is not meditation, because it cannot take you beyond the mind.
Any effort made by the mind cannot take you beyond the mind. This is a very fundamental rule to remember. The so-called transcendental meditation is just an example. There are many of the same kind prevalent all over the East, but they don’t bring enlightenment. They don’t bring awakened consciousness and that is the only criterion to decide whether they are right or not. A tree is known by its fruits, and a technique is known by what it achieves.
Transcendental meditation is representative of all the meditations which mind has suggested to you; it is a cunning way to take you astray. Mind remains safe, not only safe, but becomes stronger. All these techniques are of concentration. You concentrate on some word, holy word — the name of God, or any mantra — and you repeat it as fast as you can, just inside your mind. The faster you can do it the better; the speed helps two things. The mantra or the name of God — even your own name will do; it has nothing to do with God — any meaningless word will do because the technique depends on something else. It depends on fast repetition, so fast that there are no gaps left in between. Because there are no gaps, thoughts cannot arise; thoughts need a little space.
This is one thing: that you go on repeating a word faster and faster, and as you go on doing it for years, you really become an expert. So one thing it does is that it does not give a chance for any idea to enter into your mind. The second, more fundamental thing it does is that it creates tremendous boredom. Obviously, anything continuously repeated is going to create boredom, and boredom is the basis of auto-hypnosis.
When you become bored, you start falling into a sleep, which is not exactly sleep because it is deliberately created; hence it has a different name — hypnosis. Hypnosis means sleep, with a difference, that it is deliberate.
Sleep comes naturally — on its own, spontaneously. Hypnosis is deliberate sleep — you create a situation in which it is bound to happen. This deliberate sleep is immensely healthy, and even ten or fifteen minutes in a hypnotic state gives you a good relaxation which hours of ordinary sleep cannot give. And when you come out of it, you will feel very fresh.
I absolutely agree that if you are doing it only for this purpose — relaxation, a freshness comes, but it never takes you beyond the mind. How can it take you beyond the mind, because mind itself is repeating? By repetition, it does not need to think; repetition itself becomes a substitute for thoughts. And by repetition it falls into a deep sleep — dreamless sleep, which gives you immense freshness, rejuvenation.
Naturally, you can be deceived that this is meditation — you can go on doing it your whole life. It is healthy, it is good, it is nourishing, but it is not meditation.
Meditation starts by being separate from the mind, by being a witness. That is the only way of separating yourself from anything. If you are looking at the light, naturally one thing is certain, you are not the light; you are the one who is looking at it. If you are watching the flowers, one thing is certain, you are not the flower, you are the watcher. Watching is the key of meditation:
Watch your mind.
Don’t do anything — no repetition of mantra, no repetition of the name of God — just watch whatever the mind is doing. Don’t disturb it, don’t prevent it, don’t repress it; don’t do anything at all on your part. You just be a watcher, and the miracle of watching is meditation. As you watch, slowly, slowly mind becomes empty of thoughts; but you are not falling asleep, you are becoming more alert, more aware.
As the mind becomes completely empty, your whole energy becomes a flame of awakening. This flame is the result of meditation. So you can say meditation is another name of watching, witnessing, observing — without any judgment, without any evaluation. Just by watching, you immediately get out of the mind.
The watcher is never part of the mind and as the watcher becomes more and more rooted and strong, the distance between the watcher and the mind goes on becoming longer and longer. Soon the mind is so far away that you can hardly feel that it exists… just an echo in faraway valleys. And ultimately, even those echoes disappear. This disappearance of the mind is without your effort, without your using any force against the mind — just letting it die its own death.
Once mind is absolutely silent, absolutely gone, you cannot find it anywhere. You become for the first time aware of yourself because the same energy that was involved in the mind, finding no mind, turns upon itself. Remember: energy is a constant movement.
We say things are objects, and perhaps you have never thought why we call things objects. They are objects because they hinder your energy, your consciousness. They object; they are obstacles. But when there is no object, all thoughts, emotions, moods, everything, has disappeared. You are in utter silence, in nothingness — rather in no-thingness; the whole energy starts turning upon itself. This returning energy to the source brings immense delight.
Just the other day, I quoted William Blake, “energy is delight.” That man, although he is not a mystic, must have found some glimpse of meditation. When meditation comes back to its own source, it explodes in immense delight.
This delight in its ultimate state is enlightenment.
Anything that helps you to go through this process of meditation is discipline: perhaps taking a good bath, being clean and cool; sitting in a relaxed posture with eyes closed, neither hungry nor overloaded; sitting in a posture which is most relaxing… having a look at the whole body, every part and whether there is any tension. If there is any tension, then change the posture and bring the body into a relaxed state.
In the East it has been found, and found rightly, that the lotus posture — the way you must have seen the statues of Buddha; that is called the lotus posture… It has been a discovery of thousands of years that that is the most relaxed state of the body. But for Westerners who are not accustomed to sitting on the ground, the lotus posture is a nightmare! So avoid it, because it takes almost six months to learn the lotus posture; it is not necessary.
If you are accustomed to sitting on a chair, you can find a way, a posture, a chair made in a certain way that helps your body to relax all its tensions. It does not matter whether you are sitting in the chair or in the lotus posture or lying down on the bed. Sitting is preferable because it will prevent you from falling asleep.
The lotus posture was chosen for many reasons. If one can manage it without torturing himself, then it is the best, but it is not a necessity. It is certainly the best situation in which you can enter into watchfulness. The legs are crossed, the hands are crossed, the spine is straight; it gives many significant supports to being watchful. First, in this position, gravitation has the least effect on the body because your spine is straight. So the gravitation can effect a very small portion. When you are lying down, gravitation effects your whole body. That’s why for sleeping, lying down is the best posture. Gravitation pulls the whole body, and because of its pull, the body loses all tensions. Secondly, when you are lying down, if the purpose is to sleep then you should use a pillow because the less blood reaches to your mind, the less the mind will be active. The less blood reaches to the mind, the more possibility to fall asleep.
A lotus posture is a great combination. It has the least effect of gravitation, and because the spine is straight a lesser amount of blood reaches to the mind, so mind cannot function. In that posture you cannot fall asleep easily. And if you have learned the posture from your very birth, it becomes so natural. The crossing of the legs, the crossing of the hands have a significance. Your body energy moves in a circle; the circle is not broken anywhere in a lotus posture. Both your hands… one hand gives the energy to the other hand; your one foot gives energy to the other foot — and the energy goes on moving in a circle. You become a circle of your bio-energy.
Many things are of much help. Your energy is not being released so you don’t get tired. Your blood is reaching in a lesser amount so the mind does not function too much. You are sitting in such a position — your legs are locked, your hands are locked and your spine is straight — sleep is difficult. These are just supports; they are not essential.
It is not that one who cannot sit in a lotus posture cannot meditate, meditation will be a little difficult but the lotus posture is only helpful, not absolutely needed. And for the people from colder countries where sitting on the ground is not possible — their bodies for centuries; their parents and their parents’ parents from Adam and Eve… Have you seen any picture of Adam and Eve sitting in a lotus posture? In fact, it would have been very good for them, because sitting in lotus posture they could sit naked and yet nobody would have been very much aware of their nakedness. That’s how the Jaina monks sit, always in lotus posture. You cannot see their genitals. Their legs are crossed, their hands are crossed; this functions almost as a protection for their nakedness.
But if for centuries people have never sat, then it will unnecessarily create trouble; your body structure has taken a certain mode. It is better to follow the body and its wisdom: use a chair. The whole thing is you should be comfortable so that the body does not draw your attention. That’s why tension has to be avoided, because if you have a headache then it will be difficult to meditate. Again and again, your attention will go to the headache. If your leg is hurting, or if there is any slight tension anywhere in the body, it immediately alarms you. It is natural and it is part of the body’s wisdom.
If it does not alarm you then there is danger: a snake may be biting you, and you may go on sitting; your clothes may catch fire, your body may be burning, and you may not be aware of it. So the body immediately alarms wherever there is any trouble. That’s the reason to create a relaxed position in which the body need not alarm you, because every alarm will be a disturbance in your meditation.
So the first thing of discipline is a relaxed body and closed eyes, because if you have open eyes, then so many things are moving around, they can be a disturbance. It is perfectly right for the beginners to use a blindfold, so that you are completely inside, because it is your eyes, your senses that take you outside. Eyes take eighty percent of all your outgoing contact — eighty percent is through the eyes, so close the eyes.
For the beginners, it is good if they can use earplugs. Close the ears so no noise from the outside disturbs you. It is only for the beginners; all the precautions are for the beginners. And then just watch your mind as if the mind is nothing but a traffic of thoughts or a film — a movie passing on the TV screen. You are just a neutral observer.
This is the discipline. And if this discipline is complete, watching comes very easily, and watching is meditation. Through watchfulness mind disappears, thoughts disappear. And that moment is the most blessed moment: when you are fully awake and there is not a single thought, just a silent sky of your inner being.
This is the moment when energy turns inwards; the turning-in is sudden, abrupt. And as the energy turns inwards, it brings immense delight, orgasmic delight. Suddenly your awareness becomes so rich because the energy is nourishment to your awareness. The energy coming back creates almost a flame of your being. You see all around pure light, silence — utter silence, and an immense centering. You are now at your very center.
At the right moment, when you are exactly centered — the explosion. That explosion, we call enlightenment. This enlightenment brings you all the treasures of the inner world, the whole splendor. It is the only miracle in the world: to know oneself and to be oneself, and to know that one is deathless, one is beyond the body, beyond the mind; one is just pure consciousness.
So the discipline is just a support, the essential thing is witnessing, watching — that is meditation. But in the name of meditation, there are hundreds of so-called teachers who go on exploiting people. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi became well known in the West, because the West was not aware that in the East, even the villagers are doing the so-called transcendental meditation. Everybody chanting, repeating the name of God — it is an enjoyable exercise. I am not against it; it is perfectly good, but don’t call it meditation and don’t call it transcendental. Those are wrong words for it.
It is hypnotic auto-suggestion and nothing more. It will never give you the light that Kabir talks of, “As if thousands of suns have arisen all around.” It will not give you what Rumi calls as if the whole sky is showering flowers, and the whole being is filled with perfume, unearthly, not of this world.”
It will not give you the ecstasy that Patanjali, the founder of Yoga, continuously insists on in his yoga sutras. He says that samadhi, ecstasy is very similar to sleep with only one difference that it is alert. If sleep can be awake, if sleep can be full of awareness, then it is samadhi, it is ecstasy. It will never give you the buddha nature. It gives you ordinary mental rest — physical relaxation; hence, I am not against it.
Whatever Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and other people like him are doing is good, but they are calling something meditation which is not. That’s where they are leading people astray. If they had remained sincere and authentic and told people that this will give you mental health, physical health, a more relaxed life, a more peaceful existence, it was right. But once they started calling it transcendental meditation they have raised a very trivial thing to an ultimate significance which it cannot fulfill. People have been in transcendental meditation for years, and in the East, for thousands of years. But that has not become their self-knowing, and that has not made them Gautam Buddhas.
If you want to understand exactly what meditation is Gautam Buddha is the first man to come to its right, exact definition — that is witnessing. Learn from Gautam Buddha witnessing, and learn from Patanjali the discipline that can be helpful for meditation. This way, yoga and meditation can become a synthesis. Yoga is a discipline, just an outer support — immensely helpful but not absolutely needed. And Gautam Buddha has given to the world the very fundamental and the most essential thing: witnessing as meditation.
Niten, your question will not be solved until you start on the path a little bit; otherwise, you will ask again, “What is meditation?” Just my explaining it to you is not enough; you will have to move on the path.
Hymie and Becky Goldberg are about to take their first flight on an airliner. Hymie spends a while enjoying his comfortable, reclining seat and watching the pretty stewardess walking up and down the aisle. Next he looks out of the window and says excitedly, “Becky, look at those people down there, they look like ants.” Becky leans over, has a look and then says, “They are ants, you idiot… we haven’t left the ground yet!”
Hymie Goldberg was so interested in watching the pretty girls going up and down the aisle, he had completely forgotten that the airplane was still standing — it had not moved! So looking at the ants, he thought they must be people from such a height. That’s why you meditate with closed eyes!
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An excerpt from this question containing the very essence of meditation can be found at This Delight is Meditation.