The ultimate aim of meditation is liberation.

It is not a hard mind, it is a strong mind. Something hard breaks easily. Something strong is resilient and can take a great many blows without being destroyed, without being bent, without losing its shape and without breaking. The ultimate aim of meditation is what we call moksha, or liberation, total freedom, swadantrya, total self dependence, kaivalya, aloneness, uniqueness, nirvana, blowing out of the externals, setting to light an inner illumination.

And when the ancient meditators performed any rituals of worship, the first thing they did was to kindle a light and shout in unison, light, light, light. And they savoured the taste of the experience of this light and called it honey, sweet. If you read some of the ancient chants from the Vedas words like these appear over and over, so sweet, so sweet, so sweet, so beautiful. They thought of the fire as light, they thought of the sun as light because their minds were filled with an illumination of the kind that is not seen on earth. And they thought of liberation, freedom from all darkness, freedom from all delusion, when there is neither pride nor confusion, where all pollution arising from attachment vanishes; they walked in that illumination, they walked in that light, and wherever they walked if there was darkness, there was suddenly light.

Become a luminous, self-shining personality.

To find that kind of a luminous self-shining, resplendent, splendorous personality and beyond the personality, the trans-personal being, is the aim of meditation. But as I have said earlier, there has to be in your mind a desire, a will to search for this luminosity, to believe that such a light exists, that is so honeyed, so sweet, that when you have that light, the lights of television screens, cinema screens are nothing, that no snow, no storm, no rain, no sun can prevent you from reaching out for it, going for it, searching for it, finding it. There has to be this natural will to grow, to desire, to want, “yes, I’m not sitting here just listening to somebody’s words about this light, I would like to taste, I would like to see this sweet light, this luminousness, so that wherever I walk, I walk as a luminous being with no darkness in me, no doubts left in me, nothing left to conquer. And unless you have set that goal of personal spiritual growth for yourself, your meditation will not prosper.

A person who has set herself or himself such a goal, looks for a company where he can share that goal, looks for those of like mind, goes to what we call a satsanga, a company of the like-minded, kindred souls who are going for reality, who are searching for reality. When he sits down in the company of others, he has no other thing to talk about but this luminous light. He sits, she sits down in that company and talks about the beauty of God and what would it be like to be so liberated. “Don’t you think so?  What are your views on it?  Have you come ever close enough to say that you have experienced a minute or two, or half a minute, or a few seconds of such luminosity?  Tell me of you.”  He’s reluctant to talk of his own light but he’s anxious to hear of other’s light.

A person who has set themselves the goal of spiritual liberation has conquered six enemies.

He has conquered six enemies, Parishadvarga, a gang of six enemies:  strong passion, strong anger, greed and possessiveness, a confusion of the mind, jealousy, and frenzy of any emotion, so that one mark of a man of spirituality is the stillness of emotions. One mark of a great man of spirituality is evenness of character and temperament. Such a person’s eating, his playing, are all in harmony. His movements of the body are harmonious, do not exhibit jagged edges of the mind. His waking and sleeping are all controlled. He is neither an insomniac nor oversleeping, neither a glutton, nor fasting every day, a person of even character who has evened out the jagged edges of emotion so that in his life you do not find all the commotion you see in others. When we pray to God, “God make me an instrument of your peace,” it means then, that in us there should walk this luminous peace, wherever we walk. Wherever we are, let us observe ourselves and calm down.  You say, “I cannot calm down, I would like to, I try to, but I do not succeed.”  And my answer is, that you do not try. It is possible for you, that as soon as the jagged edges of emotions start cutting through your heart, as soon as you realize you are carrying a burden, immediately for you to cease carrying that burden. It is possible immediately for you to switch your mind to something different. It is possible for you, immediately, to shift your attention, to switch your emotion.

Six requirements for true liberation

1. Shama: tranquillity

If you want true liberation, there are six requirements. They are called in the Vedanta philosophy shama, dama, uparity, tatiksha, shraddha, vairagya. Shama is quietness, calmness, tranquility of character, not indulging things that agitate, not indulging in emotions or fancies, or fantasies that leave you emotionally exhausted after a frenzy of excitation and agitation. Keep away from those and have shama, which is the same as shanti, tranquility. When you relax your body, you have tranquility of the muscles and nerves, when you relax your mind you have tranquility of the mind and out of that the tranquility of thought and emotion. And you make that your twenty-four hour character by cultivating it mentally, by doing what we call the bhavana, continuous repetition of going into a state of evenness, continually cultivating it by that thoughtfulness, that mindfulness which is the key to your strengthening any particular attributes that you want to develop in yourself.

2. Dama: control

The second prerequisite is known as dama, which means control. You observe yourself and find that you are being drawn to excitations. You are being drawn to agitations. You observe that your desires are getting the better of you. Immediately find the right switches in your luminous mind and switch off the wrong one, switch on the right one. This is known as dama, control. Control over yourself. Getting a good hold of yourself. Keeping your mind on a leash at all times. This does not mean that you become an emotionless automaton. It simply means that you know the switches of your robot, the switches of your machine. What switch to turn on, which to turn off, to what particular end.

3. Uparati: natural turning away

Gradually you come to the third stage known as uparati, a natural turning away. In the second stage you had to impose a regulatory discipline on yourself. In the third stage, uparati, your inclination has changed.  You know I have always talked of this, that I never practice a discipline. Anything feels like a discipline, I just don’t do it. I run like all of you more than a thousand miles away from any discipline. I do absolutely really whatever I feel inclined to do. Whatever I desire to do. I do whatever I enjoy. I do my meditation because I enjoy it. That’s my only pleasure. Over the years, perhaps over the incarnations, through continuous practice of right bhavana I have cultivated certain inclinations by thinking about it over and over. By aspiring for it. By renewing the resolve after each failure. By recognizing the failure and saying, “now that I have failed, I’m not going to sit down, I’m going to weave a fresh thread like a spider whose web breaks, making the web again. One of these days I will wake up on time for my meditation.”  Keep thinking about it. “Oh, I over ate again today. I don’t think I am going to give up. I the spirit of consciousness am definitely much stronger than my taste buds and my stomach. Sooner or later I’m going to use my strength.”  By cultivating this kind of thought and renewed resolve over and over again, you develop the third attribute, the third prerequisite, then it is a natural turning point, you no longer feel inclined towards things that you had to previously control.

4. Titiksha: fortitude

Then you come to the fourth requisite that is known as titiksha. Titiksha means a kind of fortitude, a forbearance, ability to withstand an onslaught, an onslaught of any kind. It may be someone standing at your doorstep and cursing you. There is a story of a great saint, a devote of God who every morning walked to the river outside the village for his morning ablutions and, as we do in India, after taking the morning bath, sitting to meditate and having said the morning prayers, he headed back home. There was one man in the village who didn’t like him, so this man took some water and climbed up and sat at the top of a tree hiding in the leaves, and as the saintly man passed under the tree he took a good big mouthful of water and squirted it on the saint’s body. The saint looked up gave him a smile and went on his way home. It is said about this particular saint that he passed under that tree after his morning bath for 108 days, and for 108 days he received a squirt of the mouthful of water from the man sitting hidden in the leaves of the tree. And each time he looked up and gave him a nice good morning smile, “there you are again, my friend, at it.”  On the 108th day after the 108th squirt on the part of one and the 108th smile on the part of the other, the man came down from the tree and fell at the saint’s feet. This saintly quality is known as titiksha. A gentle fortitude, a strength to keep smiling and keep giving love and remaining unaffected, not out of a hardness, but out of a gentleness. A saintly man who is after liberation in life deals with life and all his relationships and all the people around him as a mother holds a baby, firmly and gently. And each time the baby wets its clothes, the mother smilingly and lovingly changes it. And that is titiksha. There is the story of the cousin of a great acharya named Rama Nuja. Rama Nuja watched him from a distance one day, watched him hold poisonous snake, believe it or not, putting his fingers into the snake’s mouth. The great acharya came to his cousin and said, what are you doing?  By now the man had put the snake down on the ground and the snake was disappearing. “The snake had bitten into something and it had swallowed a piece of gold that was stuck in its mouth. It was choking and gasping for life. Could I just walk away, seeing the poor creature struggling and gasping for life?  I put my finger into the snake’s mouth, removed the gold and put the snake down.”  This is titiksha. It shows itself in many ways. I remember I went to India. Each time it was in summer. After having lived in England, Europe and Minnesota you get used to cold climate. I got to India in middle of summer and it was 110 degrees of heat. My teacher and I were sitting in a car and I was trying to save my temples from the touch of hot wind, hot dry wind. He was sitting in the front seat of the car and he looked back at me and said, “what are you doing?  Have you no titiksha?”   And for the rest of my trip in India I did not worry about the heat. To be able to stand in a hot place and not feel it burning. To be in a cold place and not feel it cold. Sanskrit. Alike in heat and cold, alike in pain and pleasure, alike in honor and dishonor. That quality is known as titiksha. And there are times when a great teacher creates dishonorable conditions for his disciples, creates insulting conditions in his disciples and sees the disciples come through it unaffected. Sometimes a great yogi even creates dishonorable conditions for himself, such great dishonorable conditions he would create for himself that you wouldn’t believe it and comes through it unhindered and untouched because it is said in the scriptures, “love dishonor like a drink of immortality, shun honor like a cup of poison and thank your enemies who give you the drink of immortality, be suspicious of the friends who give you the cup of poison called honor. All of these attitudes are included in titiksha, the fourth requirement.

5. Shraddha: humble faith

The fifth requirement is shraddha . Shraddha is a humble faith, a faith that makes you want to bow down, to hold on to your truths. After repeated failures you may have found a little glimpse of light. To maintain that glimpse, even when there is reason to doubt is shraddha. Not a blind faith, but a faith born of your personal experience. Born of what you have received, what you have found which gives you humility, which gives you modesty, which makes you want to be small and makes you never want to be big.

6. Vairagya: turning away from the desires and pleasures of the world

And the sixth stage is vairagya. Vairagya is finally turning away from the desires and pleasures of the world. This vairagya can be of two kinds, a temporary vairagya: because you do not have a girlfriend you want to be a celibate; because you are not finding a husband you come to panditji and say, give me vows; because you cannot make money you say self-imposed poverty is the greatest virtue. There is a kind of dispassion, vairagya, in India that we call the cemetery dispassion. You walk with a beloved one to the cemetery and you say, “what is this world ultimately?  All of us have to go this way, better that we spend some time searching for God, gathering the treasures of heaven. From today I’m going to go to church every day; I’m going to go to confession every day; I’m going to meditate every day; I’ll take flowers to the temple every day.” You say something or other like this. I used to, in my teens, go to a cremation ground to meditate and watch the corpses burning. In India we cremate. The Hindus cremate. The Muslims and Christians of course bury. These cremation grounds are ideal places for meditation. The whole attachment to the body goes. You no longer think of yourself as beautiful youth or this or that.

There is a story of a great 16th century sage in India named Kabir. One day someone came to meet Kabir and so he came to his home. The people there told him that he had gone to a funeral procession. There will be so many people at the funeral procession, how will I know who he is?  He carries a feather on his hat. The story is a sort of a parable, not necessarily historical. So he went to the funeral procession because he had really urgent business with Kabir. When he got there he was amazed to see that everybody had a feather on his hat. He was confused, did not know who was Kabir the saint. But as the people started walking away from the funeral procession he saw that as people turned away, in a few steps their feather disappeared. But that was miraculous. He saw another person who walked about ten steps and his feather disappeared. As he walked behind the crowd of people who were leaving after the funeral procession, he saw somebody’s feather disappear after ten yards, somebody’s feather disappear after twenty yards. Some saintly souls kept the feather going for half a mile. Naturally the person whose feather remained intact was going to be Kabir. So a person who has vairagya carries this feather in his hat, this great quality of dispassion, disinterest in things of the world, what is going on and what quarrel is none of his business except out of compassion to remove that quarrel. When things of the world no longer interest him, then he has the permanent vairagya, freedom from the colours of the world that have been colouring his mind so.

When these six attributes have been internalized into the personality then a person is ready to become one with Brahman. So you should start out your meditative philosophy and see what sort of a personality you are looking for yourself, what sort of a company you are looking for yourself, what you are aspiring for.