Making 8 hours a day in concentration
From time immemorial there are two main practises followed for God realization. One is known as Neti Marg – normally known as Sanyas Marg or the path of renunciation. This is a very ancient path of God realization and there have been many great Sanyasis in our country who have from time to time saved our country and our religion. Neti Marg is the shorter method and takes lesser time for attaining the desired objective. It is shorter because the person practicing this method has only one goal in view to be attained in his life, for he has already renounced his home, his family and children, his riches – may be the entire wordly possessions and all his energies are available to work in the direction of the spiritual attainments. If such an aspirant practises with all sincerity and devotion, there is no reason why he should not attain the desired objective in the shortest possible time.
By this statement that this is the shorter method, one should not plunge into it without considering all the pros and cons. There are many difficulties and pitfalls in this path. Physically renouncing the home and the hearth is much easier than doing it mentally. True Sanyas does not come unless the mind has completely reconciled with the new situation and accepted it completely; but this takes years to achieve such a state of mind after great persistence and enduring practice.
A beautiful experience has been narrated in this regard by Satgurudev Param Pujya Yashpal Ji – “Once on the way to Moradabad from Jabalpur at Prayag Railway Station, I saw a great rush of persons at the platform. The Kumbh Mela had just been over and a large number of persons had gathered at the platform to see off a Mahatma known as Avadhoot. As soon as the train steamed in at the Prayag station, there was a great noise, there were cries of ‘Jai Jai Kar’ for Mahatma and a great many people were garlanding him. Per chance, by His grace, the Mahatma entered the same bogie in which I was traveling and took his seat just in front of me. When the train had left the station and gained speed, both of us began to converse. During the conversation I asked him a question “When did you take to Sanayas?” He replied, “fifteen years ago.” The second question that I asked was, “Are you a Brahmchari from childhood or a grihasthi (a married man)?” He replied that he has been a grihasthi and had a wife and two children. The conversation continued and I told him that I would like to ask him another question provided he promised to pardon and forgive me as my question would be bit embarrassing one. I would not like to injure his feelings. I would not like to injure the feelings of even a most ordinary human being what to say about him who is a saintly man. The Mahatma was silent and went into meditation (Dhyan). After some time, he asked me that why I did not ask him what I wanted to ask. I again repeated my request that I would not put that question unless he promised that he would not get angry with me and would forgive me. He said “Ask the question. I promise I shall not be angry to your question and my Ashirbad shall ever be with you”. After this assurance I put up the third question, “Respected Sir, do you still remember your wife and children?” The Mahatma paused and went into deep meditation (Dhyan). After about 10 minutes, he opened his eyes and said, “Bachcha (My child), it is true that I still do remember my wife and children and when I pass through the place to which I belong, this recollection becomes more fresh. This is my wife, these are my children and this is my house. The children have grown up by now and have taken up the household responsibilities in the right earnest.” I touched his feet. He was really a great Mahatma, as only a great soul and for that matter a true Sanyasi could only tell the truth, however, unpalatable it might be.
After taking to the sanyas the ashram changes. The Sanyasi has his own duties and responsibilities, Its rules & regulations, Yam and Niyams. He has no wife, no children, no house, no land or business. He has to renounce them all. It is easy to renounce them physically but most difficult to renounce them mentally. It takes a lot of time and persuasion to adjure them from the mind root.
Secondly, the ego of sacrifice is even greater than passion. Very often, it is seen that the Grihasthas when perturbed by the troubles and tribulations of the Grihastha life, at times go to the Sanyasis and tell them of their mental agony, their being unable to have any peace and tranquilities and humbly request them to suggest a way to get out of these. The Sanyasis do tell the way – they suggest that they should remember the Almighty, concentrate upon Him for solace and peace. The Grihasthis do try but are not successful and neither get concentration nor peace of mind. On such repeated questions and queries the Sanyasis get annoyed and retort, “You are grihasthis, insects of the gutters, the path of meditation and concentration is not for you, but for us – the Sanyasis who have renounced everything.” Generally, there is a lurking feeling in their minds that they are separate from the general run of the people and somewhat a better specie, pure and holy. There is a subtle ego in them and where there is ego, there is no God.
Thirdly in most cases persons, when exasperated of the difficulties of the life, the will to renounce rises abruptly to such a pitch that they renounce the world in a huff and take to Sanyas. After taking to Sanyas, their life style changes. Sanyas has its own code of ethic, strict practice of brahmcharya, yamas, niyams, pranayam, tapasya and so on. Many renunciates are unable to cope with them. However, those who act upon those forcibly keep control over the indriyas and after years of practice attain certain Ridhies and Sidhies (Psychic powers); they think they have achieved something great and come back to the world to serve the humanity. Passion (Kam); anger (Krodh); greed (Lobh); attachment (Mod); ego (Ahankar) become dormant in them due to the force of practice but are not completely eliminated. They seem to think that they have got control over these enemies but really it is not so. When they come to the world and come into contact with the things of the world, we see them falling from their high pedestal. We hear that such and such Mahatma, who had been a famous Sanyasi, has gone to America or elsewhere and has married and is again drenched into worldly affairs.
The reason is this, unless one has had realization and a glimpse of the Almighty one cannot get over the passion, anger, greed attachment and ego. For those who have a glimpse of Lord it is a different matter. They are able to have control over them. Such Sanyasis not only merge in Him but do real service to the entire humanity of the world.
This practice of negation (Neti) thus, in most cases is just like the practice of dumbles. As long as the springs are kept pressed by physical force, they are under our control and once there is slight laxity there is always a danger of them rebounding with equal and opposite force and hurting us.
These are some of the obvious difficulties, which are to be carefully considered before embarking upon this path – more especially by the married ones who have entered the Grihastha life. They should not even think of Sanyas. It is only the rare ones – one or two in crores, who have got enlightenment like Gautam Buddha. A great majority of them say all of them, leaving a few exceptions who renounce the world fail in this venture. They remain neither of this world nor of the other. They mostly lose both. There are many such cases of utter failure and frustration. They have left their hearth and homes and are not even at peace in the other ashram i.e. Sanyas. For those who are Bal-Brahmcharis and have leaning towards spirituality from their very birth, it is a separate matter. For them it is the shortest and the surest method for self realization and to attain God-hood. Such a one will not only merge himself unto Him but will also be a source of illumination to the world at large.
Normally there is a feeling in us – Grihasthas, that there is no way of achieving spirituality for us. Some feel that we should work upto 55 or 58 years of age and when we retire, then and then only we should take to spiritual practices. However, a politician and a businessman never retires unless he becomes invalid and unavailable to move from the bed. This is one of the greatest blunders which a person commits. After we have retired it is somewhat impossible to take His name in the real sense of the term. The habits become so rigid and mechanical, that it is not possible to change them. The body also becomes weak and one is unable to sit for or for any length of time. The notion that we will have enough time for our puja, japa or concentration and meditation after we retire, is a wishful thinking and never to be fulfilled. Whatever has to be done, has to be done here and now. It cannot be postponed for tomorrow.
The Grihastha way of attaining spirituality is also a very old and very sure one. We seem to have forgotten it. We have heard the name of Raja Janak, He is known as ‘Videh’ – a Jivan Mukta’ par excellence. What a great Mahatma and a Brahmgyani he was! The Rishis and Maharshis of the time used to send their disciples to him for test. If Raja Janak – with all duties and responsibilities of the state could reach such a high state of spirituality, then why not we. We have very little responsibilities compared to him. So the Grihastha way of attaining the highest state of spirituality is also a very old one. From the times immemorial and is called Iti Marg – the path of addition and not of subtraction or renunciation. We add something to our life and not subtract. We add the name of the Lord in our normal daily routine. The name of Lord is such a jyoty (light) that if it is taken in the right earnest, the darkness vanishes. Where there is light there is no darkness. Maharshi Balmiki by taking the name of the Lord even in the reverse order i.e. mara-mara for Rama, Rama became a great Maharshi who could foresee events far ahead. He wrote the Ramayana in all its details much earlier and actual events took place later. He was such a great Rishi – a Drashta. What was he, previously a cruel robber who used to loot the pilgrims on the way and not only looted but beheaded them to render the loot sacrificial? What a change in him after he started taking the name of the Lord even though in reverse order! The name of the Lord is thus such a light, effulgence that if taken in right earnest with all sincerity and devotion, it expels all the darkness in our lives and changes its course completely. In this path nothing is to be abandoned or abjured from the normal truthful grihastha life, only Satgurus, had to fact lot of troubles tribulations for achieving self realization and reach the “Jiwan Mukta State”. It was a difficult life they led and faced enormous and insurmountable difficulties. They not only realized Him but also left some formulae for achieving Jiwan Mukta state for us. Our object is of attaining the ‘Jiwan Mukta’ way of life. Whether we are Sanyasis or Grihasthas, this is our ideal. We may achieve it by the path of knowledge (GYAN YOG), the path of concentration and meditation (DHYAN YOG), the path of action (KARM YOG) or the path of renunciation (SANKHYA YOG). However, a person who has achieved Jiwan-Mukta state possesses two distinct qualities.
The first most important quality is constant remembrance of the Almighty. There should be continuous and uninterrupted remembrance of the Lord while walking, eating, and sleeping or doing any other work. His presence should be felt while doing any work, performing any duty. Our heart should melt in His remembrance like ice all 24 hours of the day.
Secondly, all our actions should be Nishkam Karma i.e. without any attachment and desire for rewards. By this, the ego gets sublimated and there is elimination of ‘I’. There are two main qualities of a ‘Jiwan Mukta’ who is steadfast and of stable mind.
Now we have to see how, while living in the world, performing all the duties and facing all the responsibilities of Grihastha life according to the dictates of ‘Shastra’ we can remain in 24 hours continuous remembrance of the Lord and secondly, attain Nishkam Karma Avastha i.e. all our actions are without any desire for the fruits thereof. Our Satgurus, who attained the Jiwan Mukta Awastha in their lifetime, have left some formulae or the methods for its attainment. If we adopt them, our path becomes very easy.
Every individual leaves some formulae for his family, his successors whether he is a businessmen, a doctor, an engineer and the like, so that his children may not encounter much difficulty to achieve success in their lives. If one is a doctor and his son is also a doctor, he leaves the secrets of the trade to his son so that he may not face any difficulty in running his clinic. A businessman leaves the secrets of his business with his son who remains ever successful. Similar is the case with an engineer or any other professional. In the same way the saints and sages of the order have left us some guidelines so that we could achieve 24 hours dhyan (concentration and meditation) and nishkam karma (true detachment). These guidelines are placed before you.
Our Satgurus have divided the whole practice into three steps and also divided the day into three parts of 8 hours each. By completing the practice of the FIRST STEP, one will have 8 hours remembrance of the Lord by SECOND STEP 16 hours and by the THIRD STEP for all 24 hours of the day and would have also attained the state of “Nishkam Karma”.
Now the FIRST STEP of practice is placed by adopting which one will have remembrance of the Lord for 8 hours in a day.
All the saints and the sages of the world, scriptures of all the religions have said that God is extremely kind to us to have granted us human life (MANUSHYA YONI). This is His great benediction to us. The human life is the only life, where we have discrimination (VIVEK) and freedom of action to take us to the reality. The other 84 lakh yonis (species) are bhog yonis that live out their existence only in the physical sense without any motivating rationale. God has given us the opportunity and we should utilize it to our best possible advantages for achieving Him.
It is said;
“It is our great fortune that we have got this human birth. All the Shastras say that even Gods get it with great difficulty. The human body is the gate of achieving salvation and a means of spiritual realization. If having got this body a man does not try to achieve Him, it is only he, who is to blame.”
Such a human body, which we are very lucky to have and for which even the Gods aspire, because this is the only yoni which is the field for practice and is the gate of salvation. God has given us the power of discrimination and the freedom for action. If we will, and practice, we can attain Him. All the Saints and sages, of whatever creed or religion, have praised this human form.
Kabir has said, “O’Kabir! Devote unto Him and leave all the craving for vishay-vasana (sensual pleasures) as it is very difficult to have the convenience and facility of a human birth.”
Saint Brijmohan Lal Ji (Dada Guru) used to say, “O’indulgent in vishay-vasana (sensual pleasures)! You are wasting your life. This human form cannot be had every time. O’ Garib’ (the pen name of my Gurudeva) – therefore, love Him, devote unto Him.”
Such a wonderful opportunity we have got. Our Maharshis have told us that whether we are Grihasthas or Sanyasis, we should devote half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening for Sandhya Vandana – for concentration and meditation. These two timings have been fixed for our Puja, our prayer. In our country 99 percent of the people believe in Him and pray, in whatever manner or form they like. Some pray even for more than half an hour. If we ask them, what benefit they derive by this Puja they will tell a few things and keep mum.” First; it is good to remember His name, we have a temple in our houses, our forefathers used to pray, we pray and our children would also copy us and pray. We are God fearing. What more do you want?” If we ask them what internal benefits they have derived out of this, then there will be very few, who would answer in affirmative or say they have derived some benefit.
Our Satgurus have given us method and if we practice and perform our Puja according to that we shall be greatly benefited internally. This method is universal and can be practiced by any person belonging to any religion or creed. By continuing one’s own practice according to one’s own code or religion, one can also adopt this practice which is given below.
In this world there are generally two types of devotees – Sakar devotees and Nirakar devotees i.e. those who believe in His form are Sakar devotees and those who do not believe in His form and regard Him as formless are Nirakar devotees. These two types of devotees are from the earliest times and are not new. They had rivalries and fights and had their controversies (vad-vivad) as to whether Sakar is better or the formless. Even with this perpetual controversies both type co-exist from times immemorial and both types have achieved God-hood. Our Satgurus have given the method for both.
Practice with form:
Devotees, who are attracted towards form, should first decide the form in which they could place their faith and feeling of God (Isht). It is purely for their conscience to decide which form they would like best, for this no Guru (master) is necessary. Once having decided the “Isht” they should adopt Him and concentrate upon Him alone, they should have unfailing faith, love and devotion unto Him only and never change his form. It should not be like this; today it is Rama, tomorrow it is Krishna or Vishnu and the third day it is Shiva or Mata. They should not change their ‘Ishta’ and often if they do, they will not be able to derive the benefit. The fact is that the objective of Puja is to achieve concentration of the mind and reach the state of thoughtlessness (i.e. complete control of the Chittavrittis; no modification, no ripples etc.). Such a deep concentration can only be achieved when you have one and only one ISHTA.
How to perform Puja:
There should be a proper place duly fixed for daily prayers. Morning prayer should be performed preferably before sunrise. A suitable Asana of Kusha or blanket may be laid to sit. If one is unable to take bath due to conditions of the place or other considerations one should not worry much as it is not necessary but one should wash his face, hands and feet and change his clothes for the prayer. It is always better to have separate and a clean set of clothes for prayer. Some dhoop, agarbatti or other type of incense should be burnt to create a devotional atmosphere. The Sadhak should preferably sit in Sidhasan (relaxed posture) or any other posture suitable that he can conveniently sit at least for half an hour. It is always better to start with a devotional song or hymn so that the mind gets detached from worldly activities. He should imagine that his Ishta in actual person is seated before him.
Firstly one should imagine and see the form of his Ishtdeva appearing before him. Then try to see the Lord with immense love and devotion in the heart till nothing else remains. The Atma or the Self remains watching the mind and tell what one is thinking. If the mind goes astray then again one should divert it with persuasion and love on His living form. One should never fight with mind and strain it. Whatever load he had on his mind, would have vanished and he will feel very light in body and mind – heart and mind filled with Peace and Anand. This method of worship has been given by the Mahatmas and Satgurus of the Order and if one worships in this manner, it will do immense good to him. But this is not all, it is only a beginning. This practice, by and by leads to Sushupti and then to Sahaj Samadhi.
Practice without form:
The other type of persons is those who do not believe in the form of God and are known as Nirakar devotees. For them it is necessary to select His name. Here again it is entirely on their choice to select any name of Lord which is dearest to them. It can be ‘Om’ for the Hindus, ‘Allah’ for the Muslims, ‘Vahe Guru’ for the Sikhs and ‘Christ’ or ‘God’ for the Christians, whatever their Atma likes best and dearest. However, only one name is to be chosen and that should be the most appealing to their heart. The Asan and the posture is the same Sukhasan or posture of Namaj like that of muslims during prayer, then look towards their heart centre and be in a joyful state. They should think that the name they have selected – say ‘Om’ is being heard in every palpitation of the heart. The heart is repeating the name Om or the name they have chosen, not by tongue but by thought. In the beginning there are difficulties and at that time one can have Japa by the mind – Om….Om….Om…Om…. By and by he will reach a stage when he will himself hear clearly that the heart is pronouncing ‘Om’ or the same name which had been chosen. If one is regularly attending the Satsang, a stage will soon come when he will have no other thought except hearing of the name of the Lord with every beat of one’s heart.
Our Satgurus have given us this method and if we adopt it and act upon it, we will be greatly benefited and achieve concentration of the mind easily and in a short span of time. The practice will lead one to self realization and attain Godhood. One day he will become one with Him and the light will merge in effulgent light.
Our forefathers having visualized our duties and responsibilities as Grihasthis, have devised ways and means by which our working hours are not all disturbed nor interfered with.
The Grihastha Saints have advised that a radical change can be brought about in the method of taking food. Every person takes meals and spends about half an hour during the mid-day meal or the morning meal and almost the same time in the late evening or night while having dinner. This is such a time, when one is not doing any other work of the world and thus is free. One will have to bring about a change in the method of taking food and in fact this was our old method. We have almost become westernized. A few years back we used to take our food in the remembrance of the Lord, while sitting on the floor. However, now it is on the table and chair and our standard has risen by two and half feet. But this does not matter. What matters is that we have adopted blindly the practice of all the worldly discussions on the dining table. We shall have to change in the method of taking food if we wish to lead a spiritual life. And what is this change? It is this – when the meal has been served before you, bow down to the Almighty in gratitude and place the meal at His alter and think that the Lord has filled in with spiritual bliss. Regard the meal as His Prasad (benediction) and take each morsel in His name. Neither any morsel should go into your stomach nor should any watery substance be taken without His remembrance. There is a specialty about the food i.e. in whatever thought it is taken, it produces blood which creates tendencies of the same type in the mind. If we take our meals in His remembrance it will generate tendencies for thinking or remembering the Lord automatically. Bhakti or devotion does not come unless blood changes.
Lord Krishna has given four special aids for the aspirants: Purity of Ahar (regulated diet), purity of Vihar (moderate recreation), Abhyas (spiritual practice) and Vairagya (non-attachment). This is the regulation in diet which we have to practice and master at this stage.
If we take food in His remembrance as His Prasad then the food which is taken will produce blood which will create tendencies for thinking or remembering the Lord automatically. Whenever one is free he will have His remembrance and his mind will not go elsewhere during free time.
Secondly, if one is taking food in His remembrance both the times, this period of half an hour during lunch and half an hour during dinner will change into worship. Remembrance of the Lord and Dhyan unto His feet is Puja.
The third thing on which Satgurus have laid stress is control over the palate. Unless there is control over the taste, the Atma cannot have control over the Indriyas. Now that you are taking every morsel in His remembrance the enjoyment of the tastes of different preparations of the food becomes less and less with repeated practice, you achieve complete control over the palate in a very short time. Mahatma Gandhi has also laid much stress over this in his book ‘Brahmcharya’. Thus, this is the most rational way of getting control over tastes which our forefathers have told us. Many Sadhaks take lot of trouble and face lot of difficulties for achieving control over the taste, some leave salt, others everything sweet. Some take food after mixing everything to make it tasteless. They observe strict and rigid practice; some even take a peculiar type of grass only, after grinding it. Our Satgurus have given us this rational way that if we take food in His remembrance, the control over taste is automatically achieved. Now we have achieved two hours concentration – half an hour Puja in the morning, half an hour Puja in the evening; half an hour at mid-day meal and half an hour at the night meal.
The third sub-step is as follows: Every person goes to bed daily and some sleep for 8 hours, others for 6 hours and a few for 4 hours. However, taking the average period of sleep to 6 hours, we can safely say that a person spends 6 hours of sleep, if not more. Our Satgurus have advised that we should spend some 20 minutes to His remembrance before going to sleep. Only twenty minutes and this would bring a regulation in our sleep. Lord Krishna has laid much stress on the regulation of the methodology of sleep. How can this be achieved. Our Satgurus have advised that when all the work of the day are over and one is alone on one’s bed, before actually going to sleep, one must sit on one’s bed – there being no need of any special asan (posture), spend a few minutes in self-introspection. Ask your conscience, Atma if you have done any good acts, kindness, good deeds and rendered help to others through which their Atma has been happy, dedicate them all to the feet of the Almighty saying that they were all due to His kindness: ‘O’ Lord you created circumstances otherwise nothing could have been possible for me”. Ask your conscience – your conscience is the best guide. No outside guide is required. If your conscience says there are short-comings such as; lies, deceit, passion, anger, greed, ego etc. If any such acts come to your light you should repent for them. The best method for repentance is: We should take hold of the smallest shortcoming and not the bigger ones. There are some minor habits, such as someone indulges in gossips and cutting jokes etc and while doing so tell lies unnecessarily without any gain whatsoever. Why one should indulge in these? If your Atma feels so, select the smallest weakness of yours and pray to God to give you strength enough so that you may not repeat the same. Promise before Him not to repeat it from the next day and if the promise is kept up your will power will increase with such event. And by and by you will gain much will power so that you will win over even those weaknesses which you thought that they would never leave you. The condition is that whatever you have promised before God that should be kept up without fail. In case the promise given before God is not kept up, the will-power will deteriorate. It is better not to promise anything rather than not keeping it up. Whatever you promise before God keep it up, your will power will go on gathering strength after strength. And in a very short time you shall be well on the path of spirituality making strides after strides. After Self-introspection, put your heart and mind with utmost devotion to the Lord (your Isht). Repeat the practice of concentration (Dhyan) and when your mind gets completely fixed unto His feet, go to sleep. This is the practice which, if observed faithfully and earnestly, will greatly benefit us.
Firstly for those brothers and sisters who get uncalled for dreams and get frightened, such dreams will cease and they will start getting sound sleep. Secondly, when this practice increases, the dream will change qualitatively. You will start getting beautiful dreams. You may have vision (darshan) of your Gurudeva. You are in Puja and sitting in concentration and meditation (dhyan), you are along with your Gurudeva and receiving instructions from Him. At times, you may see that you are in the temple of your Isht and worshipping Him. Thirdly, the Sadhak will find dreams changing into reality. As and when the Sadhak progresses in this practice he will have beautiful experiences. He may see dazzling light of a great lightening, lights of different colors and sometime feels that his whole body got electrified and so on so forth. When such Sadhak (devotee) abruptly gets up having such an experience find that his whole body is electrified. He is wonder-struck at this phenomenon. These experiences are different according to different tastes and attitudes.
Finally when this practice further matures the Sadhak when gets up finds the name of the Almighty coming automatically on his lips and on diverting his attention internally would feel to be in a very good state of concentration and meditation (Chintan). He will find himself in a better state than the one in which he had gone to sleep. Those who are good Sadhaks (devotees) and whose Agya Chakra is activised would see that if they were having vibrations at Agya Chakra at the time of sleep, the vibrations have increased considerably or even gone to higher charka when they get up in the morning. The Atma of the Sadhak would say that he was in concentration and meditation throughout the sleep, although his body has completely relaxed. Thus, these 6 hours of sleep change into six hours of concentration and meditation (Chintan).
What is the reason? There is a peculiar phenomenon with the mind that it remains engrossed in the same deep thought in which one has gone to sleep during the entire period of rest. We are Grihasthis and sometimes we are in a serious plight. We seriously think of the same problem before going to bed or sleep in the same thought. You might have observed that if the child gets asleep while sucking the breast of his mother, he repeats the same sound of chap-chap every now and then while sleeping. The mind has a peculiar faculty that is remains engrossed in the same type of deep thought(s) in which he has gone to sleep. If you sleep in deep concentration at the feet of the Almighty, your mind will remain engrossed in the same and your hours of sleep will change into hours of concentration.
This is thus, the regulation of the rest period (Vihar ki Shudhi) on which Lord Krishna has laid great stress. Sadhak’s bed is thus the true field of the ‘Sadhana’ where he gets real accomplishment and spiritual progress. These are some of the most important tips which our Satgurus have given for practical achievement. We have thus achieved half an hour concentration in the morning puja, half an hour in the evening puja; half an hour concentration during lunch, half an hour during dinner and six hours concentration during sleep. This way, one can achieve eight hours concentration unto the feet of the Lord out of twenty four hours of the day. Every individual, however busy, can achieve this without causing interference even of a split of second in his worldly duties or workings. This is the FIRST STEP towards achieving spirituality.
“Parmatma Too Hi Hai Teri Iccha Purna Ho! – ‘O’ Lord! Let Thy Will be Fulfilled”