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Frequently Asked Questions

Importance of the Heart

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This is yoga of the mind, but the attention seems to be more towards the heart than the mind?

You are right. The reason is that the samskaras we referred to earlier are deposited in a subtle form in the region of the heart. Our Master says that the heart is the field of action of the mind. If the heart is impure, the mind is impure. If the heart is purified of grossness created by samskaras, the mind becomes pure, subtle, crystal-clear and at one with the Divine deriving all power from the Divine in the heart.

So the Master and his preceptors pay attention to the heart and clean the accumulated samskaras. The result of this cleaning is felt in the condition of the mind.

What about meditation on other centres?

Master says that meditation on the point between the eyebrows awakens power (shakti ) which is not required for spiritual advancement. Similarly, meditation on the tip of the nose might awaken siddhis (powers) like clairvoyance, etc., which also would distract a spiritual aspirant from the real goal.

All religions and mystic traditions say that God resides in the human heart. Therefore, He can be experienced only in the heart. Further, the quality of love is always associated with the heart. So this meditation awakens our latent love for the Divine and speeds us towards the goal. Ultimately, love alone wins Him over.

We should do well to understand that Sahaj Marg sadhana is not merely a dry and mechanical routine but one that creates love for the Divine. We meditate on the heart (the divine core of our being), live in the heart and act through the heart. This brings about perfect attunement of our human aspect with the divine base of our existence.

Our Masters have stated several other reasons for meditation on the heart:

  1. The heart is where human existence begins and ends; where life throbs and takes leave of the body at the moment of death.
  2. A human being's nature derives from the heart. One may be `good-hearted' or `evil-hearted'. If his nature needs change or transformation, the heart should be the focus of attention.
  3. At the biological level, the heart purifies blood and pumps it to all parts of the body. So purification of the heart through yoga will have an effect of refinement of the entire physical system. According to our Master, cleaning of the heart also has a purifying effect on other chakras (points) situated below and above the heart in the human body.

Miscellaneous Questions on Meditation

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Is there any advice regarding diet?

Master says that vegetarian diet is best suited for spiritual sadhana. Meat, fish and eggs tend to create grossness or heaviness in our physical and mental system and, therefore, persons who are habituated to them are advised to avoid them. However, this need not deter spiritual aspirants from starting the sadhana. With regular practice of sadhana, they will be able to get rid of such attachments in a natural and relaxed way without forcing the mind, which would be against nature.

Liquor, according to our Master, creates a very gross form of intoxication in us whereas we are trying to attain an extremely subtle divine intoxication through spiritual sadhana. So, a serious abhyasi should free himself from such attachments with an effort of the will coupled with earnest prayers to the divine Master to strengthen his will.

Is there any requirement of celibacy (brahmacharya) for an abhyasi?

Married abhyasis are expected to live naturally. Through regular practice of this sadhana, all faculties and functions will be normalized and brought to a state of moderation and balance in all aspects of life.

Unmarried abhyasis, however, should note that immorality in any form will affect their spiritual progress and so purity of thought and action in this regard should be maintained at all times.

Can I meditate when I am sick?

Master says that if you are so ill that you cannot sit up to meditate, then you need not meditate.

How do I meditate while I am travelling?

You can simply close your eyes and meditate normally while travelling in a bus, train or plane. Also, the Mission publishes a list of preceptors and ashrams around the world. You may carry a copy with you on your travels so that you can keep in touch with them and get together with local preceptors to take individual sittings and attend satsangh at such places.

Supposing I am on night shift duty, how can I meditate early in the morning?

You may fix a convenient time during the day to meditate. This also applies to women who are too busy with household chores to meditate in the morning.

Thus, you will see that there are no rigid rules regarding the peripheral aspects of sadhana. The important thing is regularity in meditation. Place and time should not be a constraint.

If I have time on my hand, can I meditate more than once in a day?

Yes. What is prescribed by Master is only the minimum. You may do more than that. But Master says that at any one time the duration of meditation should not exceed one hour. A gap of 10 to 15 minutes is advised before you meditate again.

Can I go back to sleep immediately after meditation?

It is generally not advised to sleep immediately after meditation. My Master says that sleep is a gross state and has the effect of neutralizing the condition of subtlety obtained through meditation. In case you meditate too early in the morning and go to bed again, you should meditate again after getting up.

After starting Sahaj Marg sadhana, can I continue with my old religious or spiritual practices?

Master says that there is no need. When you internalize worship through meditation, other forms of worship are unnecessary and must be given up. Besides, if you want to assess the efficacy of this system of sadhana you will have to practice it exclusively for at least three months without mixing it with other practices.

Cleaning in the Evening

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What is meant by cleaning?

As mentioned before, we need the intervention of Master or his preceptor to get rid of old samskaras which are nothing but mental impressions solidified into tendencies. But it becomes the responsibility of the abhyasi to prevent formation of new samskaras by practicing the cleaning method prescribed by Master. Though this self-cleaning every evening, an abhyasi will be able to remove the impressions formed in his heart during the day as a result of his interaction with the environment through his mind and senses.

What time should I do the cleaning?

After the day's work is over, when you go home, you may refresh and relax yourself and sit for cleaning. It is best done when you are mentally alert and not sleepy.

How long should I do the cleaning?

Half-an-hour is the prescribed time.

What is the prescribed posture?

Just sit for meditation, in a comfortable sitting posture.

What is the difference between meditation and cleaning?

It is simple. In meditation we do not do anything with our mind. There we assume an attitude of inviting divine grace into our hearts and then wait.

In cleaning, we apply the power of our own will to remove the impurities in our heart. This is an active process, not passive like meditation.

What is the method of cleaning?

Close your eyes and start with the thought (no need to go on repeating it) that all impressions, impurities, grossness, darkness, etc., are leaving from behind your back in the form of smoke or vapour. Mentally assume that the sacred current of the Divine is entering your heart from the Master's heart into the vacuum created by the exit of impurities and grossness. After doing this for half-an-hour, you should feel mental lightness which is the proof of cleaning.

Am I supposed to see the impurities leaving me during cleaning?

No. We are not expected to try to see them. Master says we should not get involved with or meditate over them but mentally brush them off.

Should I recall or review all the happenings of the day and then throw them out during the cleaning process?

Master cautions us not to do it because such recalling or reviewing only serves to strengthen those impressions which we want to get rid of. He says that paying attention to grossness will only result in solidifying it.

Suppose I miss the cleaning routine in the evening, what should I do?

It can be done in bed before the night prayer-meditation. If that too is not possible, then you should do cleaning for ten to fifteen minutes the next morning before you start your meditation.

Prayer-Meditation at Bedtime

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What is a prayer?

Prayer is a petition addressed to Lord God, the divine Master in your heart.

What is the purpose of prayer?

According to Babuji, prayer is begging and meditation is having. Normally, people use prayer for begging material favours from God. But the prayer prescribed by Babuji does not beg, it only reaffirms the spiritual seeker's complete dependence on the Divine Master for his progress towards the goal of realising Him. Therefore, it is the highest kind of prayer which does not beg for any favour but enables one to surrender oneself to the Divine.

What is the Sahaj Marg prayer?

It is as follows:

O Master! Thou art the real goal of human life;
We are yet but slaves of wishes
Putting bar to our advancement.
Thou art the only God and power
To bring us up to that stage.

When and how should I say this prayer?

It is to be said once mentally before commencing your morning meditation. Then again, it is to be said before retiring. However, it should not be mechanically said and forgotten. It should be mentally repeated twice or thrice with the heart full of devotion, assuming a supplicant attitude. Then we should try to meditate (think deeply) over the meaning of the prayer and get lost in it before we go to sleep. Therefore, this is called prayer-meditation, to be done for about 10 minutes.

This is a very special prayer evolved by Babuji Maharaj in a super-conscious state and according to him, it is packed with spiritual power and efficacy. To draw full advantage from it, the prayer should be offered with deep insight into its meaning. Let us examine the meaning of the prayer in parts:

"O Master"

The Divine in our hearts is the real Master, not our desires and attachments, official superiors, wives, husbands and friends, not even the gods with names, forms and attributes. The subtlest One who resides in our hearts is our Master. One who realises His supremacy in all aspects of life -- physical, mental, material and spiritual -- is truly poised for speedy spiritual advancement.

The mode of the address "O Master", also indicates the supplicant attitude is sure to create a vacuum in our hearts that will automatically attract the flow of divine grace into us.

"Thou art the real goal of human life."

Master repeatedly emphasizes that the goal of our existence should ever be in our view, otherwise we are likely to get distracted by various other lesser goals of this life in the material plane and thus lose our way again.

Here, we assert that He is the real goal, not the wants and attractions of this life. Even the gifts that He bestows on us are not the aim. We want to have Him and Him alone. Of course, in Him we shall certainly have all the needs (not wants) of our earthly existence, too.

As our Master has put it beautifully:

"My Beloved, you are the real goal of my life. What is standing between us are my foolish wishes and desires for your powers, your beauty, your wealth. You alone can give me yourself."

This sentence of the prayer also proclaims our love for the Ultimate. Once we have set our hearts on the object of our love, no other object can distract our attention and pursuit of the real goal.

"We are yet but slaves of wishes putting bar to our advancement."

This is a humble admission before the divine Master of our enslavement to desires and attachments which are the chief cause of our samskaras; that they are barring our advancement towards Him by pulling us back and tripping us up; that, by ourselves, we are totally helpless and unable to take even one step forward.

This is the cry of the helpless and agonized soul whose desperation naturally attracts the attention of the divine Master in the heart. An admission of our inner condition bespeaks humility and artlessness when we seek Divine favour.

"Thou art the only God and power to bring us up to that stage."

Here, the devotee declares complete dependency and makes an act of surrender before the divine Master. One acknowledges that He is the only God and His is the only power that can help one to reach the goal. This shows one's complete and unqualified faith in Him and one's implicit repudiation of all lesser gods and powers which can certainly give some benefits and powers at the material level but cannot take one forward towards God realisation.

Why should prayer be offered at night?

By this practice, we will be able to maintain the link with the Divine in the heart at the sub-conscious level. When we wake up in the morning, the thought of the Divine will again be uppermost in our mind -- which is a most desirable state of mind for any abhyasi.

Constant Remembrance

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By simply practicing meditation, cleaning and prayer, will I automatically attain the goal of life?

These three practices constitute the main frame of our sadhana. What lends it life and a throbbing heart is what is known as constant remembrance, that is, constantly remembering the divine Master.

Why should we remember Him constantly?

Master says that, normally, we remember those people (or objects) whom we love. But here, the divine Master, who is without name, form and attributes but only a subtle presence in our hearts, appears to be a stranger to begin with. Therefore, at first there is no way of loving Him. But, we can develop love for Him by first remembering Him, a reversal of the equation, as our Master calls it. But, he assures us that it brings about the desired result of bringing Him closer and closer to us so that, in due course, our identification with Him is complete.

How do we practice this method?

It is easy. During the day, all through our various activities, personal, domestic, official or social, we have to deliberately bring up the suggestion in the mind that it is the divine Master within who is performing all activities, e.g., thoughts like, "He is bathing, He is eating, He is going to office, He is starting some work, He has completed it, He is relaxing with friends or playing with children, meditating, cleaning, solving problems, undergoing mental disturbances, etc., etc."

How does this method help me in spiritual progress?

As mentioned earlier, this helps to develop love for the divine Master which is essential for spiritual advancement.

Love for Him expels our ego from the field of thoughts and actions. Once the ego is absent, we stop creating new samskaras. When we attain this stage by regular practice of remembrance, it can be said to be the take-off point towards God realisation of self-realisation.

Master also points out that, through this practice, remembrance, which starts at the conscious level, slowly percolates to the sub-conscious levels of the mind. And when this is achieved, our mind becomes divinised and permanently attuned to Him. At that stage, conscious remembrance is not so important as we are always lost in Him.

Our Master's definition of constant remembrance is:

"First, we forget to remember, Then, we remember to remember, And, finally, we remember to forget."

Master and Preceptors

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To whom do the words 'Divine Master' and 'My Master' refer?

Our Master says that the divine Master in our hearts is God Himself and the Master in living human form is His representative. Sahaj Marg believes that without the guidance and active assistance of a living Master of high caliber, attainment of the goal is impossible in this life for most of us. The Master in human form is one who has realised the divine Master in himself through his own dedicated sadhana and devotion to his Master. By virtue of his human-ness, selfless love for humanity and accessibility to all God-seekers, he is able to remove our fears, guilt feelings and diffidence and lead us, step by step, towards the Ultimate goal. Those who cooperate with him by dedicated sadhana and sincere compliance with his instructions will be able to realise the divine Self in their own selves in this very life. This is the promise of Sahaj Marg system.

Who are the preceptors, and what should be my relationship with them?

The preceptors are also basically abhyasis (sadhakas). In addition, they have taken up voluntary spiritual work. When one is committed to one's sadhana, is convinced about the efficacy of the system, and is willing to give one's time for taking up spiritual work for Master, he or she can be appointed preceptor by Master. One is then authorised by Master to do the work of yogic transmission and prana on His behalf, and serve spiritual seekers and abhyasis of the Mission. But, a preceptor has to continue his or her own daily sadhana as prescribed for all abhyasis. You should, therefore, treat the preceptor as your brother or sister and pay attention to any instructions regarding the sadhana. You are also welcome to approach Master freely at any time, or to write to him, seeking clarification on spiritual matters. You are advised to restrict your relationship with preceptors to spiritual training only as they are grihasthas (householders) with worldly commitments and cannot be expected to socialize with abhyasis. Treat all preceptors as equal and do not develop any preference or attachment to any of them.

Problems of Worldly Life

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Will Sahaj Marg sadhana improve my physical health?

Our Master says that since in this system mind is purified and regulated progressively, many abhyasis who suffer from physical ailments as a result of mental (psychosomatic) tensions will show considerable improvement. Since we meditate on the heart and remove the grossness in the heart, Master says that it results in toning up of the biological heart also. During meditation, an abhyasi finds the consciousness shifted from the body and senses to the Divine within and this results in easing of pressure on the physical system. The breathing and pulse rate as well as the blood pressure come down perceptibly. This state of complete physical relaxation during meditation conserves physical energy and this state continues even after meditation if an abhyasi is regular in sadhana.

Can physically handicapped or mentally retarded persons be inducted into meditation?

There is no problem if the handicap is only physical. But a mentally retarded person lacks the apparatus -- a normal mind -- for meditation and, unfortunately, cannot do our meditation.

Will all my worldly problems disappear if I practise sadhana regularly?

We should know that the end of sadhana is to realise Him and not to get rid of problems in this life. It is worldly problems that test us and strengthen us and this is very necessary for spiritual progress. But, it is a fact that many problems that used to arise as a result of our egotism and samskaras stop coming up due to the removal of those samskaras. However, Master says that some samskaras are left behind so that some troubles and challenges that are necessary for our spiritual evolution will be permitted to come our way. They should, therefore, be accepted as Divine blessings. Sadhana, therefore, strengthens us to face life's problems in a masterly way and we are not expected to run away from them.

Tips for Progress

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How can a new entrant to Sahaj Marg make quick progress?

I would suggest the following steps:

  1. Be regular in the daily abhyas: meditation, cleaning and prayer-meditation. For your own good give up laziness, mental inertia, and the tendency to postpone; and develop energy and enthusiasm for sadhana.
  2. Take individual sittings and attend group sittings as directed by preceptors.
  3. Read the Ten Maxims of Sahaj Marg again and again and try to practice them in daily life.
  4. Develop constant remembrance as explained above.
  5. Whenever your heart prompts you, arrange to meet Master and spend time in his company. Develop the habit of writing to him regarding your abhyas, progress, spiritual experiences and problems. You can obtain his tour schedule and home address from your preceptor.
  6. Maintain a daily diary and make brief entries every day, regarding your practice, experiences, condition of the mind, changes observed, problems encountered, etc. Read Babuji's autobiography for guidance.
  7. Do not be discouraged by your faults and shortcomings. Babuji advises, "Treat them (the faults) as Master's and proceed with your abhyas." The result will be that you improve from day to day.
  8. Develop internal alertness and watch every thought and action. This will prevent your slipping into error and enable you to consciously correct and improve yourself.
  9. Unnecessary thoughts and irrelevant talk dissipate your energy and distract you from your goal. So try to maintain silence both within and without by linking your mind to the Divine all the time. Our Master says that it is the abhyasi who maintains silence (except when talking is necessary or in the line of duty) who is making progress.
  10. Swami Vivekananda says that the Kingdom of Heaven is not for the faint-hearted. Babuji Maharaj says that in spirituality we should be like lions, proud of performing sadhana under a capable guru, brave against odds and obstacles and confident of attaining the goal. So, negative feelings like fear, doubt, uncertainty and lack of confidence in one's own self should be consciously avoided.