Meditation is a uniquely human ability which enables us to experience spiritual bliss. By directing our consciousness to the Absolute Truth, we become charmed. We fall in love with God. That “fall” leads upward to the strongest, and most spontaneous kind of meditation.
An ancient bhakti-yogi, Narada, tells how his meditation led to ecstatic love:
“After that, under the shadow of a banyan tree in a forest without any human habitation, I began to meditate upon the Supersoul situated within myself, using my intelligence as I learned by hearing from liberated souls.”
“With my mind transformed into transcendental love I began to meditate upon the lotus feet of God. Tears rolled down from my eyes, and immediately Krishna personally appeared on the lotus of my heart… every part of my body then became lucid, absorbed in the ocean of ecstasy.”
Reading about meditating in an uninhabited forest under a banyan tree can be hard to relate to. How can we meditate today in such a different environment? In order to rise above today’s challenging settings and meditate, it can help to leverage the power of attraction.
Attraction is a force of nature. When we’re attracted to the energy of the Absolute Truth without considering its source, the gravity of that attraction brings down an avalanche of material nature which covers our consciousness. This cascade is traced in Bhagavad-gita 2.62-63:
dhyayato vishayan pumsah sangas teshupajayate
sangat sanjayate kamah kamat krodho ‘bhijayate
krodhad bhavati sammohah sammohat smriti-vibhramah
smriti-bhramsad buddhi-naso buddhi-nasat pranasyati
While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.
From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool.
Alternatively, if we become attracted to the Absolute Truth, or God, then instead of falling down, we fall in love and are lifted up. The Absolute Truth has a name, Krishna, which means “The all-attractive one”. Krishna explains how spiritual attraction also begins with contemplation:
vita-raga-bhaya-krodha man-maya mam upasritah
bahavo jnana-tapasa puta mad-bhavam agatah
Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purified by knowledge of Me—and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me.
Attraction then acts as a medium by which meditation becomes charged with bhakti.
Meditation is a common feature in all yoga paths. In karma-yoga, our work is sandwiched between meditation sessions. In jnana-yoga our knowledge is founded on experiencing the Absolute Truth through meditation, and in bhakti-yoga, our love produces constant meditation.
All yogas lead to bhakti, or approaching God through devotion. In brief, the reason there are different yoga paths is to attract souls from different backgrounds, and lead them to bhakti, which is the goal of all meditation. There is a logic unifying all yoga paths as outlined below:
- We souls are influenced by different modes of material nature.
- According to these modes, we experience different types of faith, knowledge and determination.
- The modes of nature produce karma, which in turn determines our environment.
- Other yoga paths are tailored for specific faiths, circumstances and times.
- Bhakti-yoga flows directly from the Absolute Truth to the soul, so it transcends the modes of nature.
- All yoga systems culminate in reviving our innate love of God, or bhakti.
Yoga and meditation aim at transcending the influence of the modes of nature, and realizing our spiritual potential for service to others. In Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna asks Krishna how one transcends the modes of nature, and what happens after that. Krishna replies in 14.26:
mam cha yo ‘vyabhicharena bhakti-yogena sevate
sa gunan samatityaitan brahma-bhuyaya kalpate
One who engages in full devotional service, unfailing in all circumstances, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of the Absolute Truth.
This indicates that bhakti is the means for transcending the modes of nature. The word avyabhicharena, or unfailing, tells us that we need not rely on other yoga paths to do this. In fact we can’t rely on other paths. Bhakti is the only yoga path which transcends the modes.
How do practitioners of other yoga paths arrive at bhakti? The Absolute Truth, or God, personally reciprocates with our efforts in yoga through spiritual revelations. These revelations give transcendental knowledge of the Absolute Truth, the soul, spiritual and material energies:
etam vibhutim yogam cha mama yo vetti tattvatah
so ‘vikalpena yogena yujyate natra samsayah
One who is factually convinced of this opulence and mystic power of Mine engages in unalloyed devotional service; of this there is no doubt.
In the sixth chapter of Bhagavad-gita, Krishna describes the meditational yoga system in detail. In the final verse (47) of that chapter, the word bhajate is used to tell us that bhakti is the system’s ultimate goal:
yoginam api sarvesham mad-gatenantar-atmana
sraddhavan bhajate yo mam sa me yuktatamo matah
And of all yogis, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within, and renders transcendental loving service to Me, is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion.