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The Accurate Method of Meditation Practice

Translation of a satsangha in Kyoto, Japan. 
January 17, 2004

Q: Please explain to me how to practice meditation.

Master: First, practice concentration. To do this, bring your mind to a particular place in the body, to a particular theme or idea, and then concentrate upon it. Other than this, all other thoughts in your mind and any distractions are obstacles to meditation. To avoid the obstacles it’s important to grow accustomed to sitting in a meditation pose. The purpose is to sit with the back straight. If you can sit with the back straight, the breath naturally becomes more calm and deep, simultaneously affecting the mind, which also becomes more calm. Preparation of the body and the breath is a basic part of meditation. Next is the actual practice of mental concentration.

The mind’s nature is active, so bind the mind to the area around the center of the chest or between the eyebrows. As you familiarize yourself with this, concentrate on more abstract ideas while maintaining your mental focus on either one of these spots. This is the endeavor to find your True Self, the original purpose of Yoga.

We use "I," the first person pronoun, unconsciously all the time. If you are asked, "Who are you?," what do you answer? "I am so and so, I do this profession, I am a man, I am a woman," and so on. All of these are merely conditions, they are not "I." "Man" or "woman" only denotes physiological difference; it’s the same first person pronoun. Children, adults, having any kind of profession, and again, when changes occur due to illness or aging—these are simply changes in physical and/or mental phenomena conditioned by environments and circumstances. When conditions change for others, or when you change your job, you may identify yourself differently. Isn’t that strange. How can the "I" change when the "I" is unchanging. In meditation, apply the self-inquiry of ‘Who am I?." Apply concentration to the teachings of Truth. Through this you will see within yourself the response that acknowledges the Truth is the teachings which are unshakeable.

Q: Once when I was sick, I experienced the fear of death although I feel the truth in the teaching, "This world is the joyful play of the Supreme One" [P176 Lila UGY]. How can I understand this fully?

Master: Well, the mind cannot comprehend more than the knowledge it has gained through experience.

There aren’t many schools or places where the teachings of Truth are taught, and it seems that even religions have forgotten the Truth these days; so in the present situation there aren’t many opportunities to receive the knowledge of the teachings in spite of there being those who wish to touch it. Nevertheless, the Truth exists within all. When one touches the Truth, it strikes a resonant, intuitive chord within. More than all else, the mind must want to escape from the reality of death, aging, sickness, and all other sufferings of the world that is full of contradictions, and want to become free. The mind will come to realize gradually that the key to liberation is not in material fulfillment but beyond. This method of practice is called Yoga.

Prepare the body and the breath with asana, and furthermore, study the sacred scriptures or see or hear the words of Truth. Repeat them and reflect on them over and over again, focusing on them. This will become the meditation. In this way, meditation is to endeavor to unequivocally experience the Truth. Those who’ve seen the Truth are rare, however, there are saints and sages from the past and in the present who impart the words of Truth. To take such words is the fastest way you can head towards liberation with the utmost confidence. Deeply bear in your mind the words of Truth, and earnestly and sincerely concentrate upon it. That is meditation.

Q: I feel the physical effects of meditation but not the mental change.

Master: Is there a consciousness in you that sees or knows objectively what you’re thinking or feeling now?

Q: …I haven’t experienced it yet.

Master: Impossible, it must be. Knowing what your mind is thinking and

Q: …I see…seeing objectively what I’m thinking now.

Master: Yes. It’s impossible for the mind to simultaneously see the mind: something else must see the mind. However, the consciousness that sees the mind cannot be easily detected because the mind acts as if it is the subject. The fact is, this consciousness is the subject and the mind is the object. The consciousness that sees or knows does not think or do anything, it simply sees or knows. What is meant by this is that consciousness makes no distinctions. However, just as light radiates, illumines, and clearly makes visible what is there, like so, consciousness can be compared to light. The fluctuations of various scenarios are the nature of the mind, changing according to changing conditions. But consciousness—the light—doesn’t change. It radiates an unchangeable light, and sees or knows the mind that is projected. Death and all other sufferings are activities occurring in the mind. As long as one identifies oneself with the mind, the fear of death is truly paramount. Therefore, one must firmly understand what death is, what true consciousness beyond the mind is, by reading sacred scriptures or hearing the words of Truth. Intellectual understanding is powerless. Understanding must come through experience from the depths of your mind. In this lies the necessity of meditation, or rather I should say, inevitably your mind will be absorbed into meditation. Worries and sufferings are presented yet they can become opportunities for conquest and transcendence.

Yoga contains truths that have been devotedly investigated and proven for thousands of years. It is universal. It doesn’t belong to any one religion or sect, and it is not just particular to India. It contains that which any human in any era can actually verify within oneself whether one believes in any religion or not. It is a tangible practicality. The Truth is within everyone and if one practices and disciplines oneself for it completely, one will see it.

First, prepare the body with asana, which also means to strengthen the body. After all, the obstacle of the body is weakness. Remove sickness from the body and cultivate a body that is healthy, comfortable and strong. Further, stabilize the breath. The breath is closely related to the emotions, and of course it also links the body and mind. When the emotions are agitated, the breath is unsteady. When the mind is calm, much more prana is taken in; the power derived from greater prana intake stabilizes the breath. You will then be able to maintain calmness regardless of external stimuli to the mind or emotions. A degree of mental stabilization does occur by regulating the body and breath, however, the mind still has its store of impressions from past experiences. If you have a terrifying experience, you can’t clear the impressions away easily. To remove the impressions, simply maintaining a steady mind is too yielding because the impressions may still flare up. Conquer the fear. How. Truth will eventually conquer the fear. Fear, which is created by the mind, will diminish by the Truth. Solidly learn the Truth, reflect upon it, and then meditate.

Q: How can I be conscious of the consciousness that doesn’t change?

Master: The projected mind continuously moves without cessation. Furthermore, there is an ego within the mind, like a sense of individuality, and the mind doesn’t want to resign this sense of independence.

As long as the mind acts, it identifies itself as the central figure: I am doing this and that, I want this, this is my opinion. And throughout, the mind conjures additional ideas. The mind can only stand by depending upon ideas. The mind cannot depend upon impenetrable darkness or what lies beyond death even though the mind wants to. That’s why the mind experiences fear; it cannot stand alone.

Now, the practice is to end the repetition of the mind’s patterns and to educate the mind gradually. By educating the mind through the application of the Truth, little by little, the mind will come to realize its issues are unnecessary. At the same time, it will come to depend on the Truth more and more.

At the final finish, the mind will still not want to accept that the mind is not the real central figure, so the ego will resist until the very end. Nevertheless, through the deepening of meditation, the ego, understanding its role, surrenders being used by the mind. Then, the Truth, which is real freedom, independence, independent existence, the originally free and free of fear, will increasingly be revealed. This is the experience of Truth and also to know the True Self. This is to know the truth of the word that since ancient times has been called "God."