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Two Types Of Meditation In Hinduism

Once, Sri Ramakrishna made a revealing statement at Dakshineswar. He said: ‘One can meditate even with eyes open. One can meditate even while talking.’ Similarly, on another occasion he said, closing his eyes: ‘Does God exist only when the eyes are closed, and cease to exist when the eyes are opened? The Lila belongs to Him to whom the Nitya belongs, and the Nitya belongs to Him to whom the Lila belongs.’

These statements open a new vista in the world of meditation. In the first place, Sri Ramakrishna gave a more comprehensive definition than the popular notion of meditation. There are two types of meditation: meditation as a technique and as a normal state of consciousness.

The former is of a copybook type prescribing various steps from withdrawal to the final attainment, from the negative to the positive. At set times of the day and night one has to practise them. The intensity of meditation depends mostly on the factors of the body, the mind, surroundings, the state of the external nature — daybreak and twilight are the most auspicious and conducive moments for meditation when the external and internal natures work in harmony and so on. There are prescribed methods in our scriptures for such meditations. Such a practice is the struggle of the aspirant rather than attainment.

The second type of meditation, namely a state of consciousness, is that which follows the first type of meditation, that is meditation as a technique. Once the aspirant steps into this state of consciousness, the revelation dawns upon one that everything, static and dynamic, is saturated with that One existence in essence. It is not that the aspirant does not see the many, the manifestation of the phenomenal world, but in and through that the aspirant feels the eternal unity of existence. The Upanishads are replete with such statements.

In the second place, the above two statements of Sri Ramakrishna convey the idea of the immanence of God overtly. Seeing God with closed eyes implies essaying to comprehend the transcendent one who is beyond all sense-perceptions. Closed eyes symbolically represent withdrawal of all the sense-organs from the outside world. But after revelation, the same transcendent existence is seen to express itself in all manifested forms like, in Sri Ramakrishna’s words, ‘the material of both the terrace and the staircase leading to it’.

SourcePrabuddha Bharata November 2019 issue page 25 – 26. Excerpt from article titled ‘Leave God to Serve God Swami Kritarthananda.’