Meditation and Spiritual Life by Swami YatishwaranandaMeditation and Spiritual Life by Swami Yatishwarananda

Meditation and Spiritual Life


Includes practical hints and “secrets” on meditation. The most complete book we have on the subject. Covers all aspects of spiritual life, including a chapter on the reactions to spiritual practice. An uncompromising approach.

Our readers should keep in mind that this book, as with all spiritual books, contains teachings given to certain people at a certain time in a certain place. The teaching may not apply to you.

Table of Contents

Part I: The Spiritual Ideal

1.    The Spiritual Quest
Spiritual conversion – Spiritual aspiration is a rare blessing – No lasting satisfaction in the world – Strive for the Highest  –  The test of Truth – The power of reality – Divine discontent – Example of saints  –  Being early in life
2.    The Ideal of Superconscious Experience
Why do we need spiritual experience? Perception: direct and indirect  –  Inadequacy of book knowledge  –  States of superconscious realization  –  Ignorance and its conquest  –  The path of mystics – Karma-yoga  –  Raja-yoga  –  Bhakti-yoga  –  Jnana-yoga  –  The goal of Yoga
3.    The Soul And Its Destiny
The problem of problems  –  The biological explanation  –  The Hindu conception of immortality  –  The Law of Karma in Indian thought  –  Pre-existence and reincarnation of the soul in western thought  –  Great teachers had knowledge of past lives  –  Testimony from the lives of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda  –  We are all immortal but do not know it
4.    Different Conceptions About God
The search for the Absolute  –  Place of Personal God in the spiritual life  –  Changes in the conception of God in ancient India  –  Personal and impersonal aspects of the Divine  –  From gods to the Godhead  –  Worship of God as the Mother  –  The Hindu concept of Incarnation  –  Plea for religious toleration and harmony
5.    Worldly Duties And Spiritual Life
What is duty?  –  Duty and selfishness  –  Several faces of the ego  –  The concept of duty in Hinduism: Varnasrama Dharma  –  Duties of the householder  –  Man’s duty to himself  –  Duty and attachment  –  Conflict of duties  –  Work must have a higher goal  –  Helping others spiritually
6.    Conditions of Spiritual Life
Faith in the ideal  –  Separating the essentials of religion from the non-essentials  –  Self-effort  –  Change of an attitude towards the world  –  Right attitude towards God and grace  –  Change of attitude towards ourselves

Part II: Spiritual Practice

(1) Preparations

7.    Walking On The Razor’s Edge
What the Upanisad teaches  –  Need for training to walk on the razor’s edge  –  The ‘Sphinx’ within  –  Try to be cosmo-centric  –  Wanted a minimum of moral qualification  –  Wanted not physical but inner beauty  –  Our defects  –  Modern psychology and morality  –  The Middle Path  –  Power of concentration without purity may prove dangerous  –  Surrender to the Supreme Being
8.    The Guru And Spiritual Guidance
Need for training in the spiritual life  –  Function of the Guru  –  Need for a Guru  –  The power of spiritual initiation  –  The power of the Mantra  –  The Pure mind as Guru  –  Avatara: the greatest teacher  –  The eternal Teacher
9.    Association With The Wise
Need for the holy company  –  Don’t seek the company of fools  –  Save yourself first  –  No need to Condemn others  –  The obstacle of egotism  –  Attitude towards one’s Guru  –  The Guru cult in India  –  Blessing of illumined souls  –  The company of your Chosen Deity
10.    Renunciation And Detachment
Need for renunciation  –  Love and attachment  –  True relatives  –  Hatred is as bad as an attachment  –  Be careful in the beginning  –  True renunciation means love of God  –  False hopes: the story of Pingala  –  The feeling of disgust  –  Example of saints  –  Types of renunciation  –  Inner detachment  –  The tree of Samsara  –  The ax of knowledge
11.    Purity of Mind  –  A Fundamental Need In Spiritual Life
Be wide-awake  –  Purity stressed in all spiritual paths  –  Purity according to Patanjali  –  Pray for purity – Don’t brood over the past  –  Drastic steps necessary  –  Think about the Self  –  Subtle desires  –  Heavier responsibility for a spiritual man  –  avoid temptations  –  Ethical life must lead to spiritual life  –  The True goal
12.    The Problem of Sex In Spiritual Life
The influence of sex on life  –  Celibacy and marriage  –  Duty of householder  –  Warnings to the unmarried  –  Beyond the male-female principle  –  Only a hero can stand the truth  –  Beware of your mind’s deceptions  –  Advice to the unmarried (contd.)  –  The life and message of Sri Ramakrishna  –  Solution at the spiritual plane
13.    Practice of Brahmacarya or Continence (Specific instructions for the celibate)
Necessary of Brahmacarya  –  Wrong notions about continence in the West  –  Testimony of great saints  –  Practice of Brahmacarya: physical aids  –  Sex control at the mental level  –  More practical suggestions for sex control  –  Change of consciousness: the ultimate solution
14.    Strength
physical strength  –  Tests of mental strength: faith and perseverance  –  Ability to make decisions  –  Ability to control even good thoughts  –  Fearlessness  –  Non-violence  –  Destructive aspect of Truth  –  Think of the Atman
15.    Integration of Personality And Inner Poise
Our center of gravity  –  Complexes: the cause of conflicts  –  Meaning of the words ‘personality’  –  The individual and the universe  –  What is the integration of personality?  –  Steps to-wards integration  –  From disintegration to integration  –  Integration of personality in the universal Spirit
16.    Love of God
True love of God  –  Types of devotees  –  The power of divine Love  –  The Godward turn  –  Merge all false istams into the true Ista Devata  –  Don’t be religious fanatics  –  Love for the Personal-Impersonal
17.    Self-Surrender
Divine strength  –  The blessing of uncertainty  –  Egotism: the main cause of suffering  –  Convert suffering into spiritual strength  –  Karma and divine Grace  –  Play of the Divine Mother  –  Be an instrument in the hands of the Divine  –  Some practical suggestions

(ii) Techniques

18.    The Path of Yoga-Vedanta Synthesis
Need for preliminary discipline  –  Have yearning for God  –  The graded path  –  Is a guru essential?  –  How to purity our minds?  –  The eight steps of Yoga  –  Worship of God  –  Japa and meditation  –  Spiritual life is a life of service
19.    Essentials of Meditative Life
The path before us  –  Be spiritually hungry  –  What Brahmananda taught  –  Early stages  –  Don’t complain about the environment  –  Train the body first  –  Moral discipline  –  Cultivate mental harmony  –  Posture (Asana)  –  Pray of all  –  Significance of breathing  –  Spiritualize desires  –  The temple of the Divine  –  How to meditate  –  The Guru is within  –  Self-surrender to the Lord  –  Cultivate a definite attitude  –  One Self in all  –  For one’s own salvation and the world’s welfare
20.    Concentration And Meditation
All concentration is not meditation  –  Need for discipline  –  Need for purification of mind  –  Posture  –  Rhythmic breathing  –  Content of meditation  –  Centre of consciousness  –  The heart as a center –  Where is the heart center?  –  Contact between the soul and God in The heart
21.    Some Practical Hints On Meditative Life
Find rest in meditation  –  Seek solitude within you  –  Follow a definite routine  –  Improve the quality of your meditation  –  Auspicious days  –  Time for meditation  –  Instructions regarding sleep  –  Have a fixed center of consciousness  –  Control of food  –  Posture  –  Rhythmic breathing  –  Need for constant alertness  –  Adjustment with your environment  –  Cultivate a definite attitude towards the Divine  –  Learn to manipulate your own mind  –  Turn to God alone always  –  Need for simplicity  –  First be a true gentleman  –  Learn to be patient  –  Stop complaining  –  Establish harmony: inner and outer
22.    Place of Prayer In Spiritual Life
Prayer: worldly and spiritual  –  Forms of spiritual prayer in Hinduism  –  God the Purifier and Saviour  –  The depths of the devotee’s love for God  –  The all-embracing range of Hindu spiritual experience
23.    Mystic worship
Offer everything to God  –  Upasana or mental worship  –  Worship through symbols  –  Some Hindu religious symbols  –  Spiritual progress through worship  –  The body as a temple of God  –  Japa: the best form of mystic worship  –  Need for a holy Personality  –  Conclusion
24.    The Power of Divine name
The power of words  –  The sacred word Om  –  Logos and Nada Brahman  –  What is a Mantra?  –  The power of Japa  –  Japa in the world religions  –  Japa in Hinduism  –  Some practical suggestions
25.    Formless Meditation
Non-dualism is a far-off goal  –  The One Behind the many  –  Types of formless meditation  –  Impersonal meditation  –  Be absorbed in the Self  –  By thinking of the Atman we become the Atman  –  The double process of worship and analysis
26.    Practice of The Presence of God
Keeping the mind on a higher plane  –  Continuity of practice  –  Inner contact with the Divine  –  Overactivity an obstacle  –  Work and worship  –  Intensity needed  –  Sharing with others  –  Change of attitude towards the world  –  Control of cosmic Energy  –  Opening up the higher centers- Inner control  –  When you get a shock to pass it on to the Divine

Part III:  Spiritual Experience

27    From The Unreal To The Real
Man and Reality  –  The primary awareness of ‘I’  –  The fundamental laws of spiritual life  –  Basis of reasoning  –  The nature of the Seer  –  The inner Light  –  How to awaken intuition?  –  There types of bodies  –  The individual and the Cosmos  –  Nature of the physical world  –  The Real and the apparent  –  Existence and consciousness
28.    Spiritual Transformation
Sudden conversion  –  The cause of inner change  –  Ignorance, the main barrier to change  –  Every man can change  –  Human habits and tendencies  –  The god and the demon in us  –  Masks of the soul  –  Transformation of character: an important test of spiritual change
29.    Reactions To Sadhna
Spiritual life is like an obstacle race  –  Nature of reaction  –  Causes of reactions  –  Connect your consciousness with the divine Consciousness  –  Do not give up your effort  –  The aspirant needs sympathetic treatment  –  Hold on to your higher center of consciousness  –  The pilgrim’s progress  –  How to face spiritual struggles and reactions  –  Different weapons in the struggle
30.    Reality of Spiritual Experience
Modern doubts  –  ‘Sir, have you seen God?’  –  Second-hand knowledge is not enough  –  Touchstones of religion  –  Dream and reality  –  The mystery of psychic phenomena  –  What a true spiritual experience does for you  –  Varieties of spiritual experience
31.    Spiritual Unfoldment
Body, Mind and Spirit  –  The Susumna, the Ida and the Pingala  –  Chakras of Centres of consciousness  –  Don’t play with the serpent  –  Spiritual unfoldment is seldom uniform  –  The best means of the awakening of Kundalini  –  The ascent of Kundalini  –  Spiritual unfoldment chart
Editor’s Note  –  Early stages in spiritual progress  –  The experience of non-duality  –  Vijnana: the integral experience
32.    The Attainment of Real Freedom In This Life
The ideal of spiritual freedom  –  True freedom  –  The bondage of the Gunas  –  Moral freedom: a step to spiritual freedom  –  Attainment of heavenly pleasures is not the goal of life  –  The ideal of Vedanta is the highest freedom  –  True Knowledge: the way to the highest freedom  –  Ego: the builder of the prisonhouse  –  Become free, and the help others
33.    Life In Freedom
Liberation-in-life  –  Marks of a free soul  –  Examples of world Teachers  –  Examples of saints  –  Christian mystics  –  Sufi mystics  –  The disciples of Sri Ramakrishna
34.    Footprints On The Sands of Time
India and Hinduism  –  The Alvars of South India  –  The Saiva saints (Nayanmars) of South India  –  Saints of Maharashtra  –  Saints of North India  –  Saints of Bengal

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