Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

“Uddhava said: “Now please tell me, o Lord with lotus-like eyes the process of meditation, indicated in the following verses. As to how and as to what a seeker of liberation should contemplate on You?”[1]

So far it was dedication, devotion glorified; now Uddhava inquires about meditation. But I think meditation is very dry compared to dedication, so I don’t want to waste your time on meditation. But shall we go on?

“The glorious Lord replied: “Seated on a seat of moderate height, neither very high nor very low, with a body erect in a comfortable posture, placing both his hands with palms upwards, steadily gazing on the tip of his nose, and having fully controlled all his senses, one should cleanse the passages of the life breath by the process of breath control – that is puraka (slow inhalation), kumbaka (retention of the breath) and rechaka (slow exhalation) and should slowly practice this course in the reverse order.”[2]

So what is this? This is the cross-legged meditation posture and breath control. And if you see, for example, Zen practitioners, they are doing this; nicely they are keeping the hands like this, meditating. But, you know, in meditation, especially if you are not trained enough, sometimes the body gives some signal: “Ah, you are so peaceful, you are very close to sleeping…” and sometimes these guys, the Zen practitioners, fall asleep. They sit in rows in their meditation room, but the master does not fall asleep. He is walking up and down and checking out who is sleeping. And he has a big rod. Whenever you are going deep down in your meditation……

But why it is happening? Because actually you are practicing nicely. Sleep is a different state of consciousness compared to the awake state. So if you start to practice some kind of meditation and you go to a different level of consciousness your consciousness will change. And strange enough, psychology has identified how many different levels? There are four waves that you can measure, how the amplitudes are different. And strange enough the Vedas also describe four stages of consciousness – awake, sleeping with dreams, deep sleep without dreams and the fourth phase. Very good parallels between scientific research and ancient yoga wisdom. Different stages of consciousness. Therefore if we practice, the bodily functions and the mind functions will change, no doubt. But if you are not really controlling the situation you might fall asleep; if you control you will not fall asleep, but you will come to a more awake consciousness but spiritually.

[1] “Shrimad Bhagavatam” 11.14.31

[2] “Shrimad Bhagavatam” 11.14.32-33

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