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How To Realize Self? – Swami Hariharananda Aranya

Swami Hariharananda Aranya answers the perplexing question of how to realize self?

Beginners who find it easier to practice with a God having a figure should imagine a luminous figure of God inside their hearts. As a liberated person is calm in mind and is blissful in face on account of his highest attainment, so should the contemplated holy figure in one’s heart be imagined to be, and it should be contemplated that one is fully associated with that figure.

In repeating the mystic syllable OM, one should think oneself to be within the emblem — calm, restful and felicitous.

Jambukeswarar Temple in Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) district, Tamil Nadu.

When after some practice the mind of the devotee becomes somewhat calm and carefree and he is able to rest in a feeling of godliness, then a transparent white limitless luminous sky should be imagined by him within his heart.

Then knowing that the omnipresent God is pervading that space, the devotee should contemplate that his I-sense, i.e., his whole self, is in the God who is present in his heart.
The next step would be to merge his mind in the mind of the Ishwara residing in the void-like space within his heart and rest in a state of contentment, without any care or thought.
… In other words, one should contemplate that one is completely within the God in one’s heart. When the above process of meditation is mastered the devotee has a sort of blissful feeling in his heart. Then he should recollect that the blissful feeling, arising out of a sense of staying in God, is ‘I’ and he should bring his mind to a state of calmness and blissfulness after the mind of God. If this is practised with ardent devotion, carefully and continuously. The ultimate result of Ishwara-pranidhana, viz. realization of one’s own Self, is achieved.

Source - Swami Hariharananda Aranya, Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali, trans. P N Mukerji (Calcutta: University of Calcutta, 1981),