Sri Ramakrishna on Meditation
The purpose of meditation is to know God. By meditating on God's holy name, which has great power, the mind is purified, ignorance is destroyed and one sees God.
The mind can be compared to a mad elephant which must be controlled through meditation. The mind is like a candle flame which is much disturbed by the wind of worldliness.
Many people who perform sadhana make little progress because they do not long for God. Restlessness to realize the Divine Being makes all the difference.
Meditate on the form of God which most appeals to your mind (meditating on the formless God is possible but is extremely difficult). "The heart is a splendid place in which to meditate," but you may focus your attention anywhere, since "every place is filled with God-Consciousness." It is also useful to introspect and ask who it is that is meditating, and upon whom.
Meditation is best practiced in the early hours of the morning and at dawn; one should also meditate daily after dusk.
Actually, what Sri Ramakrishna terms "meditation" is uncommon. We use this term, but most of us are only practicing concentration, the preliminary to meditation. At the beginning stages, objects of the senses will appear in the mind. In deep meditation these objects will no longer be bothersome. The signs that concentration has deepened into meditation include: birds will sit on your head, thinking you are inert; the mind becomes "like a continuous flow of oil, absorbed only in God"; and in deep meditation, one is so single-minded that he sees and hears nothing, and isn't even conscious of touch: the sense organs do not function and the mind doesn't look outward.
Finally, Sri Ramakrishna emphasizes again and again that without faith, nothing can be achieved by meditation, japa and so forth:
"As is a man's meditation, so is his feeling of love;
As is a man's feeling of love, so is his gain;
And faith is the root of all."
· "He is born in vain who, having attained the human birth, so difficult to get, does not attempt to realize God in this very life."
· "Repeat God’s name and sing His glories, and keep holy company; and now and then visit God’s devotees and holy men. The mind cannot dwell on God if it is immersed day and night in worldliness, in worldly duties and responsibilities. It is most necessary to go into solitude now and then and think of God."
· "You should always discriminate between the real and the unreal. God alone is real, the Eternal substance: All else is unreal, that is, impermanent. By discriminating thus, one should shake off impermanent objects from the mind.,"
· "The point is to love God even as the mother loves her child, the chaste wife her husband, and the worldly man his wealth. Add together these three forces of love, these three powers of attraction, and give it all to God. Then you will certainly see Him."
· "We cannot have the vision of God as long as one has these three - shame, hatred, and fear."
· "A man must work. Only then can He see God. One cannot develop love of God or obtain His vision without work. Work means meditation, prayer, affirmation and the like. The chanting of God’s name and glories is work too. You may also include charity, sacrifice, and so on."
· "God cannot be realized if there is the slightest attachment to the things of the world. A thread cannot pass through the eye of a needle if the tiniest fiber sticks out."
· "Do not let worldly thoughts and anxieties disturb your mind. Do everything in the proper time, and let your mind be always fixed on God."
· "You should remember that the heart of the devotee is the abode of God. He dwells, no doubt, in all beings, but He especially manifests Himself in the heart of the devotee. The heart of the devotee is the drawing room of God."
· "Do all your duties, but keep your mind on God. Live with all - with wife and children, father and mother and serve them. Treat them as if they were very dear to you, but know in your heart of hearts they do not belong to you."
· "He who has surrendered his mind, heart, and soul to God is a sadru (spiritual seeker). He who has given up lust and gold is a sadru. He looks upon women as his mother and accordingly worships them. A sadhu always thinks of God and serves all, knowing that God is in everything."