I know a person who has been to a number of yoga societies. Each one of them promised full satisfaction. One said, chant this special mantra given by our guruji and you have nothing further to worry. Another said, lock yourself out from the outside world for couple of hours and your life shall be sublime. Another gave a piece of paper to look at. Yet another required imagining red colour in the mind.
Unfortunately, the poor fellow feels he is not very much better off than when he started doing rounds of different societies. All gurus have different mantras to give ; otherwise, how else would they be able to claim special privileges for their societies. Are all the societies bogus ? Are the methods of meditation recommended by them ineffective ?
To know the answers to these questions, one needs to know what meditation is. Also, what are we looking for by practicing meditation ? The word meditation has been defined in the Oxford dictionary as the action of thinking deeply, usually in silence, especially, for religious purposes, or in order to relax.
‘Dhyan’ is a more accurate description of what the different societies promote, in which the underlying principle is mind-control with or without the help of God. When we chant some mantra, take God’s names or even look at His picture, we are seeking God’s assistance to rein in our troublesome mind.
Unfortunately, most people assume that mind is some kind of device, like an engine of a car, which can be tuned by a mechanical process that shall be good for sometime. But the mind is a vibrant thing that requires constant attention, and controlling it is not a part-time activity, like meditation for fifteen minutes. Lord Krishna has stated in Bhagavad-Geeta, “Bring the mind under control of the self from wherever it goes” (6.26).
Either the societies do not know this fact, or it does not suit their purpose to let their patrons know this. Each one of them, to my knowledge, promises full benefit only on the strength of the meditational practices suggested by them. Little wonder, meditation has become fashionable throughout the world, with millions joining different societies every year. In the US alone, more than fifteen million people practice some kind of meditation.
Meditational practices are not ineffective ; whatever anyone does in the matter of mind-control should help in various degrees, depending upon the efficacy of the system followed. The problem lies in assuming that a session of meditation is good enough to last for the balance of time. For achieving this, one needs to change the way one thinks. Meditational practices are only meant to make one aware of the need of mind-control, besides practically showing that it is not impossible to do.
As regards thinking, one can think negatively or positively. Thinking negatively means anticipating problems before they have arrived. One then suffers what may not ever happen, or is to happen later when in any case it has to be endured. It is indeed stupid to prepone suffering. Negative thinking, therefore, needs to be curbed.
Thinking positively does not mean one should not think of likely problems and their solutions. One would be mad not to meditate on the likely problems one is likely to face, but then such a person looks for solutions and acts on them and just does not go on thinking eternally, being obsessed by them. For the problems those have no solutions, such a person hopes for the best and leaves it at that. A positive thinker always remains hopeful and enjoys such a feeling. A negative thinker, on the other hand, looks for bad news that is a pervert thing to do, very harmful to the self.
Positive thinking comes from superior knowledge and faith in God. Combined with the discipline of the mind that stops one to think negatively, towards which one is naturally inclined, one begins to take full benefit of the meditational practices. And, these are meant to make one smart, rather than a mechanical robot. Meditation, in itself, is not a magic formula.