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Why does meditation not succeed?
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
23 min
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Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, while meditating I feel silence and joy for some time, but after that, I’m not able to continue it and start feeling uneasy and want to come out of the meditation soon. Why does this happen, and does it mean that I’m not reaching the meditative state?

Acharya Prashant (AP): What are you doing (addressing the questioner), and why are you trying to do that? You try several things in life for the sake of peace, don’t you? You have said while meditating you feel silence and joy for some time, which means silence and joy are your objectives. With these same objectives, you do many other things, and is the result not the same usually? Always?

You get into something, you pursue it and then you lose the motivation, then you come out of it. One visits a new place, the place seems attractive two days, four days, one week, one month, one year, the place loses its charm. You must have discarded, kept away, or donated old clothes. How did it feel when you were buying those same clothes? There was an attraction, a hope. There was a glimmer in the eye; you were looking forward to wearing new clothes. Then came a moment when you just put them aside, that’s the nature of all human activity. That’s the nature of everything in life. That’s the world, it does not last. Nothing here lasts; everything here is within the confines of time. The clock is continuously ticking.

So, you eat, and then a point comes when you leave the table. You play and then a point comes when you leave the field. You are born, a point comes when you leave the sense of being alive. Is there anything that has ever beaten time? So, you eat, you leave the table; you mate, you leave the bed; you meditate and then you leave the mat. Why are you worried? What were you thinking? What were you hoping?

You aren’t doing anything wrong, you are just in the domain where only this happens and only this can happen. If you hope for something else, then you do not understand where you are. It’s like tossing a ball up and then finding it come back to you and wondering, "What did I do wrong?" You didn’t do a thing wrong. You very rightly tossed it up, but you tossed it up within the field of gravitation, and within that field of gravitation, whatever goes up, comes down. So, why are you so worried? You can toss a piece of stone up, it’ll come down; you can toss a diamond up, it will come down; you can toss a copy of the greatest scripture up, it will come down. A piece of cloth comes down, you toss a man up, even the man will come down. If an entire mountain could go up, the mountain too would come down; it’s not a matter of form, size, colour.

Within the field of the world, all things are Prakriti , all things follow certain laws. Within the field of activity, whatever you will do will have but this consequence.

Sooner than later you will have to stop the activity because there was a point when you initiated the activity.

If meditation for you is something that can start at some point, it is going to end at some point. It is no wonder that it ends, but it is a great wonder that you hope that it will never end.

Why will it never end? Was it birth-less for you? Then how would it be deathless? Did it never start for you? Then how is it not going to ever end? You do not find it painful when you start your meditation at 7 a.m. Nobody ever complained to me about that. “Why does my meditation start at 7 a.m.?” But, you find it very painful when your meditation ends at 8 a.m. If it’s going to start at 7, it’s going to end at 8; is that not very straightforward? About 8 a.m. you are not only worried but actually sad. “Why do I come out of my great meditative state?” How did you enter your great meditative state? And if you can enter it, you’ll have to come out of it.

Is there anything that you have entered and never come out of?

Anything? Here is Vishal (audience member), and he got into this kurta and if he doesn’t come out of it, none of us would want to go near him. Sooner than later he will have to come out of it, and then there will come a point when he’ll have to come out of this body as well. There is this room, we all got into it; anybody here who would never come out? So, enjoy as long as you are here, that’s all. Everything is going to end. Everything starts just to end.

What’s troubling you? Oh, probably you (addressing the questioner) thought you could enter into That which would never end. No, that won’t happen. You cannot enter into That that would never end. If that is the expectation, you would be disappointed. One cannot enter That. I know teachers, scholars, gurus, gyanis , have all spoken that language, “Come enter the Truth. Come move into God.” Let me say with all humility and with no pretension of righteousness, that all that is nonsense.

You can never, never move into Truth.

All movement is in the field of consciousness, all movement is in the field of Prakriti - you get in, you get out; you get in, you get out.

God is not Prakriti, God is not consciousness.

In the Truth there is no movement; in the Truth, there is no door to enter and there is no exit either. Nobody enters the Truth ever, nobody attains the Truth ever, nobody got anything in a spiritual pursuit ever. You’re trying to look for vacuum in the field of gravitation, how will you find it? You can find all things in the domain of things, right? You can find all things in the domain of things, but if your expectation is to find the great-great nothing, then you are searching at the wrong place, in the wrong domain. Nothing but frustration is what you’d get. That’s one big rubric we all need. A big neon signboard flashing all the time and it must read - ”You will not get it here.”

All this meditation business is a big hoax. “Enter into joy, enter into silence, feel peaceful”. Of course, you will feel peaceful, feelings can be manipulated. The AC of my car is not functioning and my driver ran away. I drove to this place, then I rushed up the stairs. And it’s hot; it’s the month of May in India. Now here, the AC is there, the fan is there, and I’m sitting comfortably. I’m no more a driver now; I’m Acharya Ji, and I’m feeling peaceful. That’s how superficial feelings are.

That’s one big industry – ‘feelings’ - one big myth - ‘the value of feelings’. Anybody can change your feelings. See how peacefully you are sitting here and how meditative you are. All your feelings would change, if there is a power cut or if the fan drops on your head. It is not Godliness that is making you feel peaceful, it is sheer comfort to the body and mind; and even if no physical calamity happens, just one unsettling piece of news is enough to change your feelings right now, is it not? What will happen to all your meditation then, when all of you are looking so meditative right now? Acharya Ji is pouring forth on Vivekachudamani and see how meditatively the listeners are sipping it, and somebody comes and says, “You know, your cat is missing.” And then joy and silence and peace…

Is that what you want? To feel good? You can be made to feel good. There are millions and billions who want to feel good and who are acting to make others feel good. It does not take much to make someone feel good - some good food, some lotion on the ego, a pep talk, a motivational juice, some money, or at least a promise of money. Ah! Sex, or if you are of the religious bent, then some bhajan kirtan, you’ll feel good.

They come and go, these feelings; and if you are meditating to feel good, then you are just deceiving yourself; deceiving yourself only if you want something eternal, only if you want something that lasts. If you just want a bit of titillation, entertainment for some time, then you are not deceiving yourself, then your meditation can very easily give you joy and silence.

Various people look towards various objects for pleasure. Diverse minds, diverse objects. One can find the so-called silence object pleasurable; one can find the so-called peace object pleasurable, especially if silence and peace have been greatly advertised, especially if one knows what silence and peace are because the images of silence and peace have been supplied in advance. One can find them highly pleasurable and ‘respectable’; it’s a noble pursuit – ‘meditation’, is it not? After all, one is not chasing money, one is not doing any of those immoral things, one is not indulging in ostensible violence; one is just sitting down calmly and meditating. It’s very easy to make oneself feel good.

Before meditation, you were what you were, after meditation and during meditation, you still are what you are, but feeling good.

Before meditation if you are stupid, you’re just stupid; during meditation, you are peacefully stupid.

I don’t deny the fact of peace; you have that peace, that peace which is advertised, that peace that can be known through facial expressions, that peace which is more material than material. You can tell a peaceful person, don’t you? Can’t you? “See he is peaceful.” Why? “He is not fidgeting much, his face is not carrying emotional expression”, so you start calling him peaceful. One can be very peaceful, and stupidly so.

What am I saying? I’m saying that the center does not change. If the center is stupid, the center remains stupid, and on that stupid center, one wears a veneer of peace. So, one is now stupidly peaceful, the stupidity hasn’t gone away anywhere. If the center is violent, it’s remaining violent, and on that violent center, one is now wearing a coat of peace and joy and silence, all those things that you are talking of here in the question. So, one remains violently peaceful.

So, before meditation, one was just violent, and during meditation one is violently peaceful. The peace is there, but that does nothing to the center; it comes and goes, the center remains. Ah! Even the center is not eternal. It is not eternal because it is possible to dissolve that center, but the center still has great longevity. At least, it is much more permanent than these episodes of peace. Peace is so easy to dislodge, is it not? The violent center, the stupid center, is not easy to dislodge or dissolve, it remains. Proceeding from that center one can continue to meditate till eternity, nothing will change.

Ashtavakra is talking to Janak, in the very first chapter he tells him, “Dude, you are already good, your only problem is that you meditate.” That’s Ashtavakra for you. Very clearly he says, “Your only problem is that you are practicing meditation.” ‘*Samadhi ka abhyas*’. “Stop that and everything is alright with you.” What does it mean when it is said that ‘everything is alright with you’? What it means is that things are as they are, mind is as it is, body is as it is.

Liberation is a disease of the mind because by seeking Liberation the mind is wanting something that it is not given to want, that it is not supposed to want. It is arrogance. The mind is trying to go beyond its mandate, beyond its brief. That which is supposed to remain in time is trying to act as the one who is timeless. What else is ego? You’re trying to experience the Truth, go into that statement. You’re trying to feel peaceful, go into this statement. What is the mind trying here when you say ‘I want to experience the Truth’ or ‘I want to feel peace’? What is the mind trying? That which must remain in limits, in time, is trying to put its hands on eternity, the limitless, the timeless, this is ego. And the center is not being dislodged, mind you. The mind is not saying that "I’m prepared to go away", the mind is saying, “I must be there.” What is the proof that the mind does not want to go away? The proof is that the mind is insisting on experience. If the mind goes away, who will be the experiencer? So, the mind is saying, “I want to remain, I want to experience, I want to remain as the experiencer, and I also want the Truth and peace and I want to taste them. I want to taste them.” This is horrible. It’s like trying to gate crash into heaven.

God has laid down certain conditions, certain qualifications. There are some restrictions on entry, and the ego is saying, “I will get there without fulfilling the entry requirements. I’ll gate crash.” God is saying, “You want to come to me you will have to perish. Perish and come.” And the meditator is saying, “I will remain, and I’ll barge into the God land, and I will then experience the Truth. I’ll then experience peace and fulfillment.” It’s almost like trying to rape. Do you sense the same instinct? “I want to experience that which is forbidden. I want to get into the proscribed territory.” It’s nothing but Adam defying God and deciding to taste the apple. “I will get there and I’ll get there on my own terms.”

Meditation is like a back door entry into the land of God. It’s like flying without a visa. “I will get there without fulfilling the entry requirements.” The entry requirement is simple - your life must be Godly - that’s the entry requirement. 24 hours you have to be the one who bothers for nothing but the One. That is to you, too tough a requirement to handle. You say, “That kind of price I don’t want to pay.” So, what is the device you come up with? Meditation.

You say, “Fine, half an hour every day if I sit down on a yoga mat in an air-conditioned room and close my eyes and do various kinds of antics, that’s not a bad deal at all. God is demanding too high a price. He’s saying, I can’t be myself any point in the day. He’s saying that the personal must totally evaporate. He’s saying I must be like a slave, like a machine. Don’t want to agree to that. I love God, it’s just that I love myself more. I’m not a God hater, it is just that self-love is too hard to resist. And from There the commandment is - 'Be mine all the time.' All the time? Who has that much time? One is here for 60 years, 80 years; if I’m yours all the time, then who will experience all these pleasures? God is alright, but there are other beautiful things as well. Nobody denies that God is good, but is God the only one who is good? No.” That kind of absolute respect we don’t want to offer.

“You are good, but then there are, you know, others as well. And especially at times when your goodness is not very visible, then others come up as even more tempting.” God is good, but He does not always appear to be good; and in those times there are so many others who just pop up, “Hey! Hi.” "And the bugger up there is saying, 'Be mine all the time.' Not done. And if you want me to be yours all the time, would you offer a reciprocal arrangement? Would you send me proof that you too are mine all the time?” There has to be some parity, after all; and the fellow says, “Forget parity, I don’t belong to anybody, but you have to belong to me.” This one down here is an intellectual, a liberal, a believer in equality, and he says, “This is not done, I can think of… I can ‘think’ of belonging to you, but then you have to convince me that you too belong solely to me. * *

No reply comes from There. And then the decision is straightforward - “If you have your own sweet will to live by, I too have my own personal priorities. It’s not that I’ll expel you from my world, 7 AM to 7:30 a.m. every day will belong to you. But then the world is full of so many other delicacies, I must honour them. There are colours and balloons and men and women and money and crackers and… there’s so much. And God, it’s your creation; it’s got to be as beautiful as you are, how can I deny it? Disrespecting your creation would be disrespect towards you. After all, was it not you who sent all these to me?”

So, it’s 11 a.m. right now and it’s all about balloons and crackers; where is your meditation at 11 a.m.? (addressing the questioner) And;

If meditation is so ultimately important to you, why don’t you meditate 24 hours?

And if meditation is not important enough to be had 24 hours, why are you asking me a question on meditation as if meditation is important? If meditation is important, why do you get out of it? Why don’t you keep meditating 24 hours? You’ll now say, “You see, one has to, you know, take care of (imitates laugh). There are itches in the body, and you know, let’s talk practical." Why? I thought we were talking spiritual, from where has this practicality leaped in?

If meditation is so very dear to you, why don’t you meditate 24 hours? And if it is not dear to you, then why are you asking a question as if meditation is dear to you? Just accept that it is one of your daily activities; and if it’s one of your daily activities, then it starts and it ends. That’s the domain of this world, that’s what happens to everything in this world, it starts and it ends. Your meditation also starts and ends. If you want something that never ends, just don’t end it. Just don’t end your meditation. It’s you who decides to end the meditation, right? Or is it God? Who decides to get up?

Q: We decide.

AP: You. And now you’re asking, “Why does silence cease? Why is peace interrupted?” Why do you get up? If sitting on that mat is what meditation is all about, why do you ever get up? Either keep sitting on that mat, or never begin with this farce.

That which you call as the practice of meditation is a tool, is a method. It is a short-lived method to bring to you the taste of the beyond. The taste of the beyond comes for free.

There is this fellow, the lady rather, who was selling all kinds of namkeens (Indian Snacks) at IHC (Indian Habitat Centre) 50 kinds of different things she was having, so I went to her shop. I said, “What is that you have?” She immediately offered me one little piece of the namkeen . She said, “Take it,” so I tasted it. She didn’t charge me anything for it, that’s meditation. But, once you have tasted it and liked it, then it is your responsibility to pay for it. That half an hour is free; you are not paying with your life for that half an hour. You haven’t paid the price, you haven’t made any sacrifice; you are comfortably sitting down on the mat.

That little episodic experience is offered for free, but having had that experience, now it is your responsibility to pay up, and now the payment must continue 24 hours. If you keep standing in front of that woman and say, “Now this, now that; now this, now that,” and you’re doing this since one month, what do you think she will give you? A hush, a push, and one tight slap, maybe. She will see through your intentions, she will realize that you are just a professional meditator. You don’t love God; you just want some goody experience for free. You have no intention to pay up.

So, I’m not against that thing that you do for 30 minutes on the mat; that’s good as a beginning, as a trailer. Begin with that, but that must tell you that you can never now part with that.

Having just had a fleeting taste of something beyond you, now it is your responsibility to make that beyondness the center of your life.

The existing center has to be dislodged. Instead, what is it that you’re doing? Every morning you go to that woman, and now it’s a habit and a cunning conspiracy with you. Every morning you go to that woman and she has 50 kinds of boxes and you tell her, “Now this, now this, now this”, and very deceptively you are having your breakfast without paying up. Oh, she is a simple woman; you can probably deceive her for a month, how long will you deceive God? Will He not see through your stupid designs? Will He not realize that this man has no intention of coming to me? All he wants is his 30 minutes of exotic experience. This man has really no intention of coming to me; this man has no intention of sacrificing himself for my sake. What does he want? Daily 30 minutes of exotic experience, and that you can continue to get.

Obviously, you sit down in a particular posture and you insulate yourself from distractions, you ensure that the temperature is nice and your family members know that at this point you are to be spared, and you have kept your phone away and there is some nice aroma as well and you have already taken a bath, so you’re feeling nice. You’ve ensured all the physical requirements are taken care of, all the things that go towards pleasure. All the boxes are ticked. So, obviously, you’ll have a good experience. If that’s what you want, continue with this meditation, otherwise, the practice of meditation should very soon turn into incessant meditativeness. The practice must come to an end and meditativeness must take over the totality of your life.

Every breath, every action, every thought, must now originate from your meditativeness.

One who begins the practice of meditation has succeeded only if a point comes when he starts finding the practice of meditation unnecessary, and he says, “Now this is not needed. Now that which used to come to me in these 30 minutes is more totally, more wholly and more continuously with me all through the day”, then your meditation is real, otherwise you’re just going to the woman and trying to deceive her. You don’t want to pay up and you still want to have some experience; and some experience you definitely get, I’m not denying that. Some experience you get, but how much? One piece of Kaju (cashew), a little bit of this or that, one small modicum of papad; does that satisfy you? This much? If you want the whole thing, then you have to pay up. So, pay up and get the whole thing; and without that wholeness, life is not worth living.

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