This volume is intended to dispel the cloud of confusion
that has accumulated around the subject of meditation. Those
who are looking for secret short-cuts, novel innovations, exciting
new trends and fads in the area of self-development may be
disappointed. The methods presented here stem from the classic
four paths of Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti
Yoga. These are given in their uncorrupted form, yet with consideration for the Western mind and scientific tradition.
Meditation is a universal tradition which traces its origin
thousands of years before the advent of today’s civilization. The
science of meditation has survived uninterrupted and exhaustive testing as it has passed from generation to generation. It has
endured in its original form because the outstanding and fundamental appeals of Yoga have been Tolerance, Universality,
and Simplicity. Within its simple framework are contained the
principal teachings and approaches which make up the sub-
stance of all known philosophies, religions, and disciplines. If
one understands the four paths to meditation, it is possible to
unravel the trappings and mysterious elements of any religious
or philosophical system.
The shelves of bookstores are overloaded with numerous
"new developments" and streamlined approaches to meditation.
But many are by the blind leading the blind, with little or ‘no
experience to back the methods they tout. There are one-sided
fanatics, Mantra hucksters, and outright charlatans. Some promise rapid development of psychic powers. Others are modern
spiritual propagandists and con-men. Even the Madison Avenue
contingent is well represented. There are only a handful of self-
less Masters teaching true spiritual disciplines of meditation.
Real meditation is liberation from the clutches of the senses
and lower mind. By definition it is transcendental, the word not
being used as an advertising slogan, but to convey the beauty
of meditation, in which all fears, desires, longings and negative
emotions are transcended. The meditator reaches the super-
conscious state in which he or she is able to identify with the
all-blissful Self. In this transcendental state there is no awareness
of body, mind, or duality, and the knower becomes one with the
knowledge and the known.
There is no need for mystery or secrecy about Mantras or
any other accessory to meditation. There are no spiritual injunctions against discussing one’s Mantra. A Mantra is a mystical
energy encased in a sound structure. Its vibrations directly affect
the chakras, or energy centers of the body. It steadies the mind
and leads to the stillness of meditation. Those Mantras which
are suitable for meditation are included in this book.
Many concoctions of syllables which are currently being
peddled in the West as Mantras are obviously bogus. These
"Mantras" can lead to deep relaxation but nothing more. So can
the repetition of any word or meaningless phrase. One can even
slow the pulse and breathing as well as lower the blood pressure
by sitting still and concentrating on a ticking clock or dripping
Life in the West has become computerized, compartmentalized and oriented towards instant results. But the tradition
from which the four yogic paths stem is a holistic one. In this
system science, religion, philosophy, psychology, and health are
all integrated. In the same way, the various classical meditation
techniques that have been in use over the ages are based on solid
discipline and regular practice. Proper breathing, proper exercise,
proper relaxation, proper diet, and positive thinking are the
necessary groundwork for successful meditation. These are
covered to some extent in the first chapters, although for a
comprehensive view of these and other aspects of Hatha and
Raja Yoga, you may want to refer to my previous book, The
Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga.
If this book clarifies the methods and aim of meditation,
it will have served its purpose. The spiritual quest is a thorny
path that ultimately must be walked alone. My own path has
been blessed by the firm, compassionate, and boundless wisdom
of my master, India’s late great saint and sage, H. H. Sri Swami
Sivananda Maharaj. If, through me as his instrument, the echo
of his words and insight can guide the footsteps of seekers in
the Western world, I shall have achieved my earthly purpose.
Finally, I wish to gratefully acknowledge the following
people whose contributions helped to make this book possible:
Dr. Fritjof Capra, for permission to reprint excerpts from his
speech "The Yoga of Physics" and the photomontage of dancing
Siva in particle tracks taken from his ‘book The Tao of Physics;
Nicholas and June Regush, for permission to reprint from their
book Mind Search; Silamata Karuna, for her extensive research
and editorial expertise; Silvio Paladini, for the Kundalini Chakra
illustrations; and the many disciples and students of the
Sivananda Yoga mission for invaluable aid in artwork, editing,
proofreading, and typing.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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