On the path of meditation many seekers find it difficult to know clearly whether they are making any progress or whether they are just suspended on one plane, simply moving in repetitions. Will you please explain in detail about those factors which indicate the meditator’s constant progress?
When meditating, working on yourself, if you wonder whether you are making any progress or not, know well that you are not making any progress – because when progress is made you know it. Why? It is just like when you are ill and you are taking medicine. Won’t you be able to feel whether you are getting healthy or not? If you do not feel it and the question arises whether you are getting well or not, know well that you are not getting well. Well-being is such a clear feeling that when you have it you know it.
But why does this question arise? This question arises for so many reasons. One, you are not really working. You are just deceiving yourself. You are playing tricks with yourself. Then you are less concerned with what you are doing and more concerned with what is happening. If you are really doing it, you can leave the result to the Divine. But our minds are such that we are less concerned with the cause and more concerned with the effect – because of greed.
Greed wants to have everything without doing anything. So the greedy mind goes on moving ahead. Then the greedy mind asks, “What is happening? Is something happening or not?” Be really concerned with what you are doing, and when something happens you will know it. It is going to happen to you. You need not ask anyone.
Another reason for asking this question is that we think that there are going to be some signs, some symbols, some milestones we can reach that show: “I have progressed so much,” that “to this plane or to that plane I have reached so much.” We want to calculate before the ultimate goal is reached. We want to be confident that we are progressing.
But, really, there are no milestones – because there is no fixed road. And everyone is on a different road; we are not on one road. Even if you are following one technique of meditation, you are not on the same road; you cannot be. There is no public path. Every path is individual and personal. So no one’s experiences on the path will be helpful to you; rather, they may be damaging.
Someone may be seeing something on his path. If he says to you that this is the sign of progress you may not meet the same sign on your path. The same trees may not be on your path; the same stones may not be on your path. So do not be a victim of all this nonsense. Only certain inner feelings are relevant. For example, if you are progressing, then certain things will begin to happen spontaneously. One, you will feel more and more contentment.
Really, when meditation is completely fulfilled, one becomes so contented that he forgets to meditate – because meditation is an effort, a discontent. If one day you forget to meditate and you do not feel any addiction, you do not feel any gap, you are as filled as ever, then know it is a good sign. There are many who will do meditation, and then if they are not doing it a strange phenomenon happens to them. If they do it, they do not feel anything. If they do not do it, then they feel the gap. If they do it, nothing happens to them. If they do not do it, then they feel that something is missing.
This is just a habit. Like smoking, like drinking, like anything, this is just a habit. Do not make meditation a habit. Let it be alive! Then discontent will disappear by and by; you will feel contentment. And not only while you are meditating. If something happens only while you are meditating, it is false! It is hypnotic! It does some good, but it is not going to be very deep. It is good only in comparison. If there is nothing happening, no meditation, no blissful moment, do not worry about it. If something is happening, do not cling to it. If meditation is going rightly, deep, you will feel transformed throughout the whole day. A subtle contentment will be present every moment. With whatsoever you are doing, you will feel a cool center inside – contentment.
Of course, there will be results. Anger will be less and less possible. It will go on disappearing. Why? Because anger shows a non-meditative mind – a mind that is not at ease with itself. That is why you get angry with others. Basically, you are angry with yourself. Because you are angry with yourself, you go on getting angry with others.
Have you observed that you get angry only with those people who are very intimate with you? The more the intimacy, the more the anger. Why? The greater the gap between you and the person the less the anger that will be there. You do not get angry with a stranger. You get angry with your wife, with your husband, with your son, with your daughter, with your mother. Why? Why do you get more angry with the persons who are more intimate with you?
The reason is this: you are angry with yourself. The more intimate a person is with you, the more he has become identified with you. You are angry with yourself, so whenever someone is near to you. you can throw your anger upon him. He has become part of you. With meditation you will be more and more happy with yourself – remember, with yourself.
It is a miracle when someone becomes happier with himself. For us, either we are happy with someone or angry with someone. When one becomes happier with oneself, this is really falling in love with oneself. And when you are in love with yourself, it is difficult to be angry. The whole thing becomes absurd. Less and less anger will be there, more and more love, and more compassion. These will be signs – the general signs.
So do not think you are achieving much if you are beginning to see light or if you go on seeing beautiful colors. They are good, but do not feel satisfied unless real psychological changes are there: less anger, more love; less cruelty, more compassion.
Unless this happens your seeing lights and colors and hearing sounds are child’s play. They are beautiful, very beautiful; it is good to play with them – but that is not the aim of meditation. They happen on the road, they are just by-products, but do not be concerned.
Many people will come to me and they will say, “Now I am seeing a blue light, so what does this sign mean? How much have I progressed?” A blue light will not do because your anger is giving a red light. Basic psychological changes are meaningful, so do not go for toys. These are toys, spiritual toys, but you can become a paramahansa if you see a blue light!
These things are not the ends. In a relationship, observe what is happening. How are you behaving toward your wife now? Observe it. Is there any change? That change is meaningful. How are you behaving with your servant? Is there any change? That change is significant. And if there is no change, then throw your blue light. It is of no help. You are deceiving and you can go on deceiving. These are easily achieved tricks.
That is why a so-called religious man begins to feel himself religious: because now he is seeing this and that, but he remains the same. He even becomes worse! Your progress must be observed in your relationships. Relationship is the mirror: see your face there. Always remember that relationship is the mirror. If your meditation is going deep, your relationships will become different – totally different! Love will be the basic note of your relationships, not violence. As it is, violence is the basic note. Even if you look at someone, you look in a violent way. But you are accustomed to it.
Meditation for me is not a child’s play. It is a deep transformation. How to know this transformation? It is being reflected every moment in your relationships. Do you try to possess someone? Then you are violent. How can one possess anyone? Are you trying to dominate someone? Then you are violent. How can one dominate anyone? Love cannot dominate, love cannot possess.
So whatsoever you are doing, be aware, observe it, and then go on meditating. Soon you will begin to feel the change. Now there is no possessiveness in relationships. By and by, possessiveness disappears, and when possessiveness is not there relationship has a beauty of its own. When possessiveness is there, everything becomes dirty, ugly, inhuman. But we are such deceivers that we will not look at ourselves in relationships – because there the real face can be seen. So we close our eyes to our relationships and we go on thinking that something is going to be seen inside.
You cannot see anything inside. First you will feel your inner transformation in your outer relationships, and then you will go deep. Then only will you begin to feel something inner. But we have a settled attitude about ourselves. We do not want to look into our relationships at all because then the naked face comes up.
Mulla Nasrudin’s marriage was arranged by his father. It was an arranged marriage, so Mulla had not seen the face of his would-be wife. Then on the wedding day, when the ceremony was over, the wife unveiled her face. She was terribly ugly, and while Mulla was just stunned by the shock she asked, “Now tell me, my love, your commands.” That is a Mohammedan system. The first thing the wife asks is, “Tell me your commands, my love. To whom do I have to remain veiled? To whom am I allowed to show my face?”
Mulla Nasrudin said – rather, groaned – “You can show your face to anyone you like, as long as you do not show it to me! This is a contract.”
We are also in a contract with ourselves. We go on showing our faces to everyone, but never to ourselves. That is a deep contract we have with ourselves – not to feel one’s face. And the way to remain veiled is not to look into your relationships, because relationship is the only mirror. So probe, penetrate into your relationships, and look there to see whether your meditation is progressing or not.
If you feel a growing love, unconditional love, if you feel a compassion without cause, if you feel a deep concern for everyone’s welfare, well-being, your meditation is growing. Then forget all other things. With this observation you will also observe many things in yourself. You will be more silent, less noise within. When there is need you will talk, when there is no need you will be silent. As the case is now, you cannot be silent within. You will feel more at ease, relaxed. Whatsoever you are doing, it will be a relaxed effort; there will be no strain. You will become less and less ambitious.
Ultimately, there will be no ambition. Even the ambition to reach moksha will not be there. When you feel that even the desire to reach moksha has disappeared, you have reached moksha. Now you are free, because desire is the bondage. Even the desire for liberation is bondage. Even the desire to be desireless is bondage.
Whenever the desire for anything disappears, you move into the unknown. The meditation has reached to its end. Then samsara is moksha. Then this very world is liberation. Then this shore is the other shore. But do not go for childish signs. Do not go! They are easy to create. If you think, if you imagine, you can create them.
I do not mean that every feeling of those signs is imagination, but if you think in those terms you can imagine them. If you think that a blue light will happen at a particular stage, you can create it without reaching to that stage. This is very easy; to reach to that stage is very difficult. To create this blue light is very easy. Close your eyes, concentrate on it, and within a few days you will begin to feel it. Then your ego will be strengthened. Now you are “on a spiritual path”. Think of kundalini, and you will begin to feel it in your spine. That is imagination. It is easy, not difficult. But then you are misleading yourself.
I do not say that every experience of that type is imagination, but if you are concerned, it is going to be imagination. Forget it completely. Be concerned with meditation, with your changing relationships, with your silence, with your contentment, with your love. Be concerned with these, and suddenly sometimes, there will be an upsurge of energy into your spine. But do not be concerned with it. Note it down and forget it. Suddenly, you will see a particular light: note it and forget. Suddenly a particular chakra will begin to revolve: note it and forget it. Do not be concerned with it. Your concern is harmful. Remain concerned with contentment, peace, silence, love, compassion, meditation.
These things will go on happening. Then they are real. When you are not concerned and they happen, then they are real. And they show many things, but you need not know what they show because when they happen you know what they are showing. Because the human mind is stupid, if I tell you what they show you will be less concerned with love, silence and compassion. These are very difficult things. It is easy to create a blue light and it is very easy to feel a snake rising in your spine. It is very easy; there is nothing difficult about it.
So, remember, there are two types of inner experience. One type is created by your imagination, another is of happenings. But for happenings, you are not needed; for imagination you are. Do not play with imagination. It is a dangerous game. One can imagine anything, you can imagine anything, but that is not going to help you in any way. And the mind is such that it always tries to find some false substitute, because false substitutes are cheap.
If you have to grow a real rose in your garden, it takes time. It demands patience, effort, and then too nothing is certain. The rose may come, it may not come. It is easy to buy a rose, but then it is not yours. It looks just as if it has come up in your garden, but it has not come up. When you purchase a rose-flower, it has no roots in you: it is just in your hand. It has not been a part of your being. You have never waited for it; you were not patient for it. It is not a child – not your child. You have purchased it. It is there, but like a foreign element in you, not an inner growth.
But there are even more cunning people. They will not purchase a real flower. They will purchase a paper flower, a plastic flower, because it is more permanent. A real flower will fade away. By the evening it will be no more – “So purchase a plastic flower! It is economical, less troublesome, permanent!” But then you are deceiving. Real growth needs time, patience, work. Imaginative growth is imitation. Remember this distinction always.
One thing more: whatsoever you are doing, do not think that results will be coming in the future. If you are doing something real, results are here and now. In inner work, if you have meditated today, results are not going to be tomorrow. If you have meditated today. the perfume of it, howsoever little, will be there. If you are sensitive you can feel it. Whenever something real is done, it affects you here and now.
So do not think that something will happen in the future. If whatsoever you are doing is not changing you now, it is not going to change you at all. Time will not help. Time alone will not help. Time will deepen it, but time alone will not help.
But you may not be sensitive. Whatsoever you are doing, you may not be sensitive. We have become insensitive because in insensitivity there is a certain security. If you do not feel much, you suffer less. The person who feels much suffers much. Because of this, we have tried to make ourselves insensitive. So when something happens so intensely that it is impossible to avoid it, then only do we become aware. Otherwise we go dead, asleep. We move on. That insensitivity will create problems. Then when you meditate, you will not be sensitive to what is happening to you.
So be more sensitive. And you cannot be sensitive in one dimension. Either one is sensitive in all dimensions or one is not sensitive in any. Sensitivity belongs to your total being. So be more sensitive; then every day you will be able to feel what is happening.
For example, you are walking under the sun, feel the rays on your face; be sensitive. A subtle touch is there. They are hitting you. If you can feel them, then you will also feel the inner light when it hits you; otherwise you will not be able to.
When you are lying in a park, feel the grass. Feel the greenness that surrounds you, feel the difference of moisture, feel the odor that comes from the earth. If you cannot feel it, you will not be able to feel when inner things begin to happen. Then you will go on asking whether you are progressing or not.
Start from the outer, because that is easier. And if you cannot feel the outer, you cannot feel the inner. Be more poetic and less businesslike in life. And sometimes it costs nothing to be sensitive. You are taking your bath: have you felt the water? You simply take it as a business routine, and then you are out. Feel it for a few minutes. Just be under the shower and feel the water: feel it flowing on you. It can become a deep experience, because water is life. You are ninety percent water. And if you cannot feel water falling on you, you will not be able to feel the inner tides of your own water.
Life was born in the sea and you have some water within your body with a certain quantity of salt. Go on swimming in the sea and feel the water outside. Soon you will know that you are part of the sea and that the inner part belongs to the sea. Then you can feel that also. And when the moon is there and the ocean is waving in response to it, your body will also wave in response. It waves, but you cannot feel it. So if you cannot feel such gross things, it will be difficult for you to feel such subtle things as meditation.
How can you feel love? Everyone is suffering. I have seen thousands and thousands of people deeply in pain. The suffering is for love. They want to love and they want to be loved, but the problem is that if you ever love them they cannot feel it. They will go on asking, “Do you love me?” So what to do? If you say yes, they won’t believe it because they cannot feel it. If you say no, they feel hurt.
If you cannot feel sun rays, if you cannot feel rains, if you cannot feel grass, if you cannot feel anything that surrounds you – the atmosphere, then you cannot feel deeper things such as love or compassion; it is very difficult. You can feel only anger, violence, sadness, because they are so crude. Subtle is the path that goes inward – and the more subtle your meditation goes, the more subtle will be the feelings. But then you have to be ready.
So meditation is not just a certain thing which you do for one hour and forget. Really, the whole life has to be meditative. Only then will you begin to feel things. And when I say that the whole life is to be meditative, I do not mean to go and close your eyes for twenty-four hours and sit and meditate – no! Wherever you are you can be sensitive and that sensitivity will pay. Then there will be no need to ask, “Am I progressing or not?”
You are like a blind man. You cannot feel the path because you have never felt anything. And the way we are taught, educated, cultivated, is for insensitivity. A child is weeping; the whole house is against him: “Do not weep! Guests are coming.” Guests are very important, and the child weeping is not at all important. Now you are crushing him for his whole life.
He will stop his weeping, but to-stop weeping is a serious affair. It will change the whole metabolism of his body. To stop weeping he will have to be tense; he cannot be relaxed. He has to push something under which is coming up. He will have to change his breathing. Really, he will stop his breathing – because if the breathing moves easily, weeping will move with it. He will pull in his stomach; everything will be disturbed in his body. Then he will not weep, but he cannot laugh either. Then you are crippling him for his whole life.
Everyone is crippled and paralyzed. We live in a paralyzed world. Now there will be continuous suppression. He cannot laugh, he cannot weep, he cannot dance, he cannot jump. Whatsoever his body feels to do, he cannot do. Whenever the body feels to have something, it cannot have it. And then, when you allow him to play, it is not spontaneous. Even his play becomes fake. You say, “Now you can play.” He was not allowed to play when his whole being was ready to play, and now you tell him to play. But now he tries to play, and it is a work.
Ultimately we create a human being who is more or less an automaton. Can you weep? Can you laugh spontaneously? Can you dance spontaneously? Can you love spontaneously? If you cannot, how can you meditate? Can you play? It is difficult!
Everything has become difficult. Man has become insensitive. Bring your sensitivity back again. Reclaim it! Play a little! To be playful is to be religious. Laugh, weep, sing, do something spontaneously with your full heart. Relax your body, relax your breathing, and move as if you are a child again. Then when you meditate, you will not ask, “What is happening to me? Am I progressing or not, or am I moving in a circle?” You will know.
I understand your difficulty. You cannot feel it now because you have lost feeling. Regain feeling – less thought, more feeling. Live more by heart, less by head. Sometimes, live totally in the body; forget about soul, Self, atman. Live totally in the body – because if you cannot even feel your body, you are not going to feel your soul. Remember this. Come back into the body. We are really hanging around the body; we are not in the body. Everyone is afraid to be in the body. Society has created the fear; it is deep-rooted. Go back into your body; move again; be like an innocent animal.
Look at animals jumping, running. Sometimes run and jump like them, then you will come back to your body. Then you will be able to feel your body, the rays of the sun, the rains, and the wind blowing. Only with this capacity of being aware of all things happening around you will you develop the capacity to feel what is happening within.
From The Ultimate Alchemy, V.2, Chapter 18, Q1
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