The ancient Yoga Shastras (spiritual sciences of Divine communion) of Bharat have indicated different methods of Self-realisation. The awakening of the sleeping Kundalini Shakti is one of them. The Kundalini Shakti (dormant spiritual energy in man) is aroused by the process of breath control and is gradually led up to the top where it merges with the Sahasraara Chakra (the thousand-petalled lotus seated in the brain).
Concentration – Contemplation – Meditation
The vital force that is in man is also known as consciousness. To merge this consciousness in the Universal Consciousness has been described as ‘Liberation’ in Vedanta (the concluding essence of Vedas). Today various types of meditation are being promoted in India and outside. Many persons wrongly equate Dhyana (meditation) with Ekaagrata (concentration). There is no relationship between the two. Concentration is a routine everyday phenomenon in life in any form of human activity – reading, walking or eating. Where is the need to waste one’s time on achieving something which comes naturally? What we should find out is how this concentration comes about.
Here is a book in one’s hand. We see this book with our eyes. The moment we see it, we are able to read the letters. As soon as the letters are read, the intellect tries to understand the meaning and ruminate on it in the memory. The hand holding the book is a limb of the body. The eyes that see it are a sense organ. The intellect that understands and the memory that retains are equally sense organs. It is the coordinated action of all the organs that enables us to examine any subject. Concentration thus takes place at the lower level of the sense organs.
Meditation is a process that takes place beyond the senses. Between the concentration at the sensory level and meditation that is above the senses there is a border line where Chintana (contemplation) takes place. Contemplation is the second half of Chit (intelligence), whose other function is discrimination between right and wrong.
An illustration will make this clear. There is a rose plant with branches, leaves, flowers and thorns. Locating the place where there is a flower calls for concentration. At this stage, we are concerned only with locating the flower. But, the flower has to be plucked without touching the thorns. Love is the flower. Lust is the thorn. There is no rose without a thorn. How to get at the flower of Love without touching the thorn of lust is the problem. This is where contemplation is needed. Having plucked the flower, how shall we use it? By offering it to the Divine.
Meditation means offering the flower of Love to the Divine. In the rose plant of our body, there is the rose of pure and sacred Love emitting the fragrance of good qualities. Below the rose, however, there are thorns in the form of sensual desires. The purpose of meditation is to separate the rose of selfless Love from the senses and offer it to the Lord.
Dhyana (meditation) has been accorded a pre-eminent place in Bharat from ancient times. Nowadays people sit for meditation, considering it as a kind of pill that is taken when one has a headache or some other pain. Meditation is not such a simple affair. In the hoary past, sages like Sanatkumara, Narada and Tumburu engaged themselves in meditation as a means of awakening the Kundalini Shakti and leading it up to the Sahasraara Chakra. Now, meditation should be practised as a means of cultivating pure, selfless love, renouncing all attachments to worldly things.
Even in sitting for meditation, certain rules have to be observed. The first requisite is to sit in the Padmasana – lotus posture. While seated in this Asana (posture), care must be taken to keep the spine straight and steady, without bending this way or that. Some persons bend their necks during meditation. This is very harmful, as the arresting of the rising Kundalini Shakti at the throat, where some subtle Naadis (arteries) operate, may endanger the entire physical system. Many have suffered mental derangement on account of misdirection of the Kundalini Shakti. During meditation one should not bend backwards. That is also harmful. The cloth one wears during meditation should be tied loosely so that there is no pressure on the waist. The eyes have to be concentrated on the tip of the nose. If the eyes are open, they are likely to turn in different directions and one's attention is likely to get distracted. The eyes should be half open. If they are fully closed, one may be overcome by sleep.
Before sitting for meditation, the mind should be freed from bad thoughts and filled with sacred thoughts. This calls for control over all the sense organs. The ears should be trained to listen only to matters relating to the Divine and to eschew evil gossip. The eyes should be told to see God. The mind should be restrained from restlessness by making it concentrate on the breathing process and relating inhalation and exhalation to the repetition of the Mantra, ‘So-Ham’, ‘So-Ham’ (“I am He”). By this process, the life-breath is controlled. This reveals the great power of Yoga. There is no need to undertake a separate exercise for awakening the Kundalini Shakti. The process of breath control itself will achieve this purpose.
Source: True Meditation, Discourse 5, My Dear Students Volume 2, Divine Discourse at Sri Sathya Sai Hostel on March 11, 1984