Questioner: All teachers advise to meditate. What is the purpose of meditation?
Maharaj: We know the outer world of sensations and actions, but of our inner world of thoughts and feelings we know very little. The primary purpose of meditation is to become conscious of, and familiar with, our inner life. The ultimate purpose is to reach the source of life and consciousness.
Incidentally, practice of meditation affects deeply our character. We are slaves to what we do not know: of what we know we are masters. Whatever vice or weakness in ourselves we discover, and understand its causes and its workings, we overcome it by the very knowing; the unconscious dissolves when brought into the conscious. The dissolution of the unconscious releases energy; the mind feels adequate and becomes quiet.
Q: What is the use of a quiet mind?
M: When the mind is quiet, we come to know ourselves as the pure witness. We withdraw from the experience and its experiencer and stand apart in pure awareness, which is between and beyond the two. The personality, based on self-identification, on imagining oneself to be something as : ‘I am this, I am that’, continues, but only as a part of the objective world. Its identification with the witness snaps.
Q: As I can make out, I live on many levels and life on each level requires energy. The Self by its very nature delights in everything and its energies flow outwards. Is not the purpose of meditation to dam up the energies on the higher levels, or to push them back and up, so as to enable the higher levels to prosper also?
M: It is not so much the matter of levels as of gunas (qualities). Meditation is a sattvic activity and aims at complete elimination of tamas (inertia) and rajas (motivity). Pure sattva (harmony) is perfect freedom from sloth and restlessness.
Q: How to strengthen and purify the sattva?
M: The sattva is pure and strong always. It is like the sun. It may seem obscured by clouds and dust, but only from the point of view of the perceiver. Deal with the causes of obscuration, not with the sun.
Q: What is the use of sattva?
M: What is the use of truth, goodness, harmony, beauty? They are their own goal. They manifest spontaneously and effortlessly, when things are left to themselves, are not interfered with, not shunned, or wanted, or conceptualized, but just experienced in full awareness. Such awareness itself is sattva. It does not make use of things and people – it fulfills them.
Q: Since I cannot improve sattva, am I to deal with tamas and rajas only? How do I deal with them?
M: By watching their influence in you and on you. Be aware of them in operation, watch their expressions in your thoughts, words and deeds, and gradually their grip on you will lessen and the clear light of sattva will emerge. It is neither a difficult, nor a protracted process; earnestness is the only condition of success.
Nisargadatta Maharaj – I am That