MANY AND VARIED are the forms of meditation. One form is
that in which Brahman is likened to a boundless ocean, and
the jiva to a fish, swimming happily about, feeling the soothing, living presence everywhere. In another form the body is
regarded as a vessel, and the mind as water pure as crystal
upon which is reflected the sun of Satchidananda Existence,
Knowledge and Bliss. Yet again Brahman may be meditated
upon as the limitless ocean, and the jiva as a vessel submerged in it, the water of Brahman within and without
everywhere. Again one may think of oneself as a bird soaring blissfully through the sky of Satchidananda. These and
many other forms are known to the followers of the path of
God is with form and without form. God in His absolute,
formless aspect is meditated upon by the followers of the
path of knowledge; but the devotee holds on to the name
and form of God, and meditates upon Him with form.
Various are the names and forms of God, which are but different aspects of the one Reality.
The guru and the Avataras are also forms of God, and the
devotee takes one form and meditates upon that as his
Chosen Ideal. While absorbed in meditation the devotee may
have visions of the different forms of God. These must be
regarded as but different aspects of the one Chosen Ideal.
Forms are many, but the Reality is one. To emphasize this
truth Sri Ramakrishna would give the simile of the cha-
meleon which changes its color, yet remains the same. Thus
by devotion to the Chosen Ideal the devotee soon realizes
that God assumes many forms, and yet is also formless.
The devotee meditates on the Holy Name and form of
God, and the follower of the path of knowledge meditates
on the relation and identity of jiva with Brahman. But
whichever path is followed, the one and the same state of
spiritual consciousness is attained by each. When, by meditating on name and form one attains a depth in meditation, both name and form vanish; when, by meditating on the relation of the jiva and Brahman one attains a depth in meditation, relation also vanishes. There remains in both a spiritual current which words cannot describe.
Sri Ramakrishna once said that in the depths of meditation
there arises the consciousness of the impartite, the indivisible
Reality. Body is forgotten, mind ceases to function there
remains pure Consciousness.
There is a difference between ecstasy and samadhi. In
ecstasy the aspirant experiences bliss, he sees the play of the
Divine; in samadhi the aspirant becomes blissful. The experiencer, the experience, and the experienced become one.
To see the light in vision during meditation is not enough,
though it is true that such a vision or any other vision serves
to strengthen the faith, and encourage the aspirant to go
deeper and deeper. Only when the physical consciousness is
gone, when the heart becomes pure, can one really know
that there is a deeper and vaster realm beyond the realm of
The knowledge of the existence of this realm cannot be
grasped by the human mind, nor can words define it. The
grace of the Guru alone can open the gates to that blissful
realm. One day while massaging the head of Sri Ramakrishna
the door to that realm suddenly opened before me. What I
saw, the eyes could not hold, what I tasted the tongue could
not express. It was a definite experience beyond all expression.
If you would know and enter into that kingdom, let the
tongue tirelessly chant the name of God, let the heart and
mind become absorbed in His meditation. Sooner or later,
through His grace, you will surely know and enter into that
Be absorbed in meditation. Be absorbed so that the world
becomes annihilated, and only you exist, you and your Beloved shining in your heart. As one becomes established in
the meditative life there comes a control over the mind.
Then alone can one know his own mind, how and in what
devious ways it works. He becomes immediately aware of
any tricks the mind would try to play. The old habits of
hatred, jealousy, and all the passions will no longer have the
power to raise any wave in the mind. They will gradually
recede, and eventually disappear.
Many changes come in one who lives the contemplative
life. The character becomes transformed, the body also
changes, the voice becomes sweet; he breathes differently. A
truly meditative man can be recognized by his movements,
his face, his eyes. He has wonderful poise, his mind is tranquil. With eyes opened or with eyes closed, engaged in whatever occupation, he meditates constantly and continuously.
The current of thought flows unceasingly toward his Beloved. Just as a person suffering from acute toothache is
constantly reminded of it, so is the aspirant constantly aware
of the living Presence.
Do not sleep the sleep of ignorance. Keep yourself constantly awake by the practice of spiritual disciplines. Without spiritual practice life is meaningless, the truth of God
remains unknown. People quarrel over theories and dogmas
of religion, but those who devote their lives to the attainment of the bliss of God, and know the Reality, have no
quarrel with other faiths, nor do they antagonize them, for
they speak the same tongue.