Spiritual Message for the Day – Physical Obstacles in Meditation by Sri Swami Sivananda

Baba Times Digest© | 17 May 2014 20:26 EST | New York Edition

Physical Obstacles in Meditation - II

Divine Life Society Publication: - Meditation by Sri Swami Sivananda

(Click here to read Obstacles in Meditation-An Introduction)

1. Aimless Wandering

Sadhana suffers if one wanders constantly. Those who want to do rigorous Tapas and Sadhana must stay in one place. Too much walking produces weakness and fatigue.

2. Cessation of Sadhana

If the aspirant stops his Sadhana, his mind will be Satan's workshop. Be sincere and regular in your daily routine, Tapas and meditation. The Sadhana will take care of itself.

Mind your own daily business. The fruit will come by itself. Be careful in the selection of your companions. Undesirable persons easily shake your faith and belief. Have full faith in your spiritual preceptor and the Sadhana which you are pursuing. Never allow your own convictions to be changed. Continue your Sadhana with zeal and enthusiasm. You will have quick spiritual progress and you will ascend the spiritual ladder step by step and reach the goal ultimately.

3. Deha-Adhyasa

Do not think much of the body, bread, clothing, etc. Think more of God or Atman.

4. Diseases

This body is an instrument for attaining God-realization. If you do not possess good health, you cannot do any rigorous Yoga-practice and meditation. Just as clouds screen and obstruct the sun, so also the cloud of sickness stands in your way. Even then you must not leave the practice of Japa, concentration and meditation. These small clouds of sickness will pass off soon. Just as you do not leave your food even for a day, so also you should not leave your spiritual practice even for a day.

5. Discussing Too Much

Much energy is wasted in useless discussions. Intellect is a help if it is used in the right direction of Atmic Vichara. Intellect takes the aspirant to the threshold of intuition. Intuition is direct perception of Truth.

Give up arguing. Become silent. Look within. All doubts will be cleared. You will get a flash of divine knowledge. Think and talk of God alone.

6. Environments

Uncongenial atmosphere, unfavorable environments and obstacles will help you only in carrying on the struggle more vigorously and diligently. You will evolve quickly and develop strong will-power and great power of endurance.

7. Evil Company

A man is known by the company he keeps. Just as a nursery is to be well-fenced in the beginning for protection against cows, etc., so also a neophyte should protect himself very carefully from foreign evil influences. Otherwise he is ruined totally. The company of those who speak lies, who commit adultery, theft, cheating, double-dealing, who are greedy, who indulge in idle talks, backbiting, tale-bearing, who have no faith in God and in the scriptures, etc., should be strictly avoided.

Reading of newspapers kindles worldly Samskaras, causes sensational excitement in the mind, makes the mind outgoing, produces an impression that the world is a solid reality and makes one forget the Truth that lies underneath these names and forms.

8. Fault-Finding

How can the aspirant think of God when his mind is ever engaged in finding the faults of others? Improve, reform, purify yourself first. Wash the impurities of your own mind. He who applies himself diligently to his spiritual practices cannot find even a single second to look into the affairs of others. If the fault-finding nature dies, there will be no occasion for criticizing others. Time is most precious. Every second must be utilized in Divine Contemplation. Let the world have its own ways. Mind your own affairs. That man who does not interfere with others is the most peaceful man in the world.

9. Habit of Self-Justification

Self-assertion, self-sufficiency, obstinacy, dissimulating, speaking falsehood are the constant retinues or attendants of self-justification. He will always try his level best to justify himself in various ways. He will not hesitate to tell several lies to support his false statements. The aspirant should always admit his faults, mistakes, weaknesses, etc., then and there. Then only he can improve quickly.

10. Impulses

Impulses disturb meditation. All obscure subconscious impulses should be controlled by the intellect and the will. Bodily-impulse and ambition are two great disturbing factors in meditation. They should be extirpated (rooted out) by great efforts, Vichara, Viveka (power of discrimination between Atman and Anatman, Self and non-Self) and Sivoham-Bhavana.

11. Impure and Immoderate Food

"In pure food there is a pure nature, in a pure nature there is firm fixation of memory, in a firm memory there is release from all knots (of the heart)."

Mind is formed out of the subtlest portion of food. If the food is impure, the mind also becomes impure. Aspirants should not overload the stomach. The night meals should be very light for Sadhakas.

12. Irregularity in Sadhana

Just as a man is regular in taking his food, so also he must be strictly regular in his Sadhana. He must get up punctually at 3.30 or 4 a.m. and start his Japa and meditation. One can get the meditative mood quite easily without effort if he does his Sadhana in fixed hours, both morning and night. Meals should be taken at regular hours. One should go to sleep at fixed time and get up at fixed time. See how the sun is very regular in its rising and daily work!

13. Tremor

At times there is tremor of the body during meditation. This is due to the Prana being taken up to the brain in the process of meditation. Do not be afraid. Do not stop the meditation. Plod on and persevere. Be cheerful. Help is from within, from the Antaryamin, from the Atman. During meditation, some people draw inspiration and compose beautiful poems. Record them, if you get this poetic inspiration.

14. Lack of Brahmacharya

No spiritual progress is possible without the practice of celibacy. Those who are very eager to have God-realization should observe unbroken celibacy strictly. This body is meant for God-realization. It must be well utilized for higher, spiritual purpose.

15. Ojas

Ojas is spiritual energy that is stored up in the brain, by sublime thoughts, meditation, Japa, worship and Pranayama. This energy can be utilized for divine contemplation and spiritual pursuits. A Yogi always directs his attention to the accumulation of this divine energy by unbroken chastity.

16. Lack of Yama and Niyama

You are not able to enter into Samadhi because you are not able to practise meditation. You are not able to do profound meditation because you are not able to fix the mind steadily or concentrate. You are not able to concentrate properly because you are not able to practise Pratyahara or the withdrawal of the senses from the objects thoroughly. You are not able to practise Pratyahara thoroughly because you have not obtained mastery over Asana and Pranayama and you are established in Yama and Niyama, which are the foundation of Yoga.

17. Lingual Diarrhea

Too much talking is one of the bad habits which lessen the spiritual power. The energy that is spent in talking must be conserved and utilized for divine contemplation. The Vak-Indriya distracts the mind considerably. Practise Mouna daily for two hours and especially during meals. On Sundays observe full Mouna for 24 hours. Do a lot of Japa and meditation during Mouna. Too much talking is Rajasic nature. Great peace comes by observance of Mouna.

18. Need for a Preceptor

The knowledge of the Self is revealed through Parampara and handed down from Guru to the disciple in succession. Single-minded devotion to Guru, ideal, one kind of Sadhana and whole-hearted application are indispensable requisites for God-realization.

19. Overeating, etc.

Overloading the stomach, work that produces fatigue or overwork, too much talking, taking heavy food at night, too much mixing with people, are obstacles in the path of Yoga.

20. Poor Health

God-realization is not possible without Sadhana or spiritual practice. Spiritual practice is not possible without good health. The aspirant should try his level best to keep good health always by regular exercise, Asana, Pranayama, moderation in diet, walking, running in open air, regularity in his work, meals, sleep, etc. He should avoid drugging as much as possible. He must take recourse to nature-cure such as fresh air, wholesome food, cold bath and dietetic adjustment. He should always keep a cheerful attitude of mind under all conditions of life. Cheerfulness is a powerful mental tonic. There is intimate connection between body and mind. If one is cheerful, the body is also healthy.

Take medicine. Do Purushartha. Leave the results to Prarabdha. This is Wisdom. Vedanta says, "Have no attachment for this body. But keep it clean, strong and healthy for constant, rigid Sadhana. This body is a boat to cross to the other shore of immortality. It is a horse to take you to the destination. Feed the horse well; but give up 'mineness'."

21. So-called Friends

The so-called friends are your real enemies. Your real friend in need who attends on you sincerely is God, the Indweller of your heart. This world is full of avarice, hypocrisy, double-dealing, flattery, untruth, cheating and selfishness. Be careful. Friends come to have idle talk with you and to waste your time. They will say, "Friend, earn money as much as possible. Live comfortably now. Eat, drink, be merry. Enjoy now. Give up all Sadhana and meditation. You are wasting your time." Cut off all connections ruthlessly. Hide yourself away. Live alone at all times. Trust in that Immortal friend only who dwells in your heart. Then alone you are perfectly safe. He will give you whatever you want.

22. Social Nature

Social nature is good for doing Karma Yoga. But it is extremely bad for practising Dhyana Yoga. It drags you out. It makes your mind restless. It invites many friends who disturb you in a variety of ways.

23. Tandri-Alasya-Nidra

Tandri is half-sleepy state. Alasya is laziness. Nidra is sleep. Laya also means sleep. Alasya and Tandri are the precursors of sleep. These three are great obstacles in the path of realization. Sleep is a powerful force of Maya. It is Nidra-Sakti.

Sleep is the greatest obstacle as it is very powerful. It takes time and demands great strength of will to tear this old habit. Arjuna is called Gudakesa or conqueror of sleep. Lakshmana also had conquered sleep. Sleep is a psychological phenomenon. Brain needs rest at least for a short time. Otherwise man feels drowsy and tired. He can neither work nor meditate. Even Yogins and Jnanins sleep for two or three hours. The sleep of a Jnani is different from the sleep of a worldly man. In a Jnani the powerful Samskaras of Brahma-Abhyasa are there. It is something akin to Brahma-Nishtha. One should be careful in reducing his sleep.

When meditation becomes habitual, when the habit of getting up at 4 a.m. is well established, when you take light food at night, sleep will not trouble you at all during meditation. When sleep tries to overpower you, repeat the Mantra loudly for some time. Sit in Vajrasana.

During meditation, sleep overpowers the aspirant. If one is really meditating, his body will be light and his mind will be cheerful. If he is sleeping, the body will be heavy, the mind will be dull and the eye-lids will be heavy.

24. Vulgar Pleasures

Scents, soft beds, novel reading, dramas, theatres, cinemas, vulgar music, dancing, flowers, company of women, Rajasic diet, all these excite passions and cause disturbance of the mind. Too much salt, too many chillies, too many sweets cause intense thirst and disturb meditation. Too much talking, too much walking, too much working and too much mixing disturb the mind in meditation.

25. Wealth

Artha (wealth) is really Anartha (evil). To earn wealth is painful. To protect the wealth is still more painful. You cannot earn and amass wealth without doing great sins. Wealth brings much anxiety. Therefore, shun wealth.

(To be continued ..)

Excerpts from:

Physical Obstacles in Meditation - Meditation by Sri Swami Sivananda

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