Question: Can meditation help you on the bhakti marga? From my understanding and experience of meditation I feel it helps you to be calmer; to heal your chakras and hence protect the body from disease; to be more aware of your thoughts since your thoughts create your future; and to let go of the past pains and be present in this moment. However, the focus is all on you, your sense of self and your desires and wants. Where is serving Krsna in the whole experience if the focus is on you? Is it truly challenging the ego in the right way? During meditation, you are calm, relaxed and positive. As soon as you step out of it, you struggle to be calm and quickly revert to anger and frustration. Why are the emotions of peace and calm not sustained when we are not meditating and are engaged with the world?
In Sri Guru Darsanam (p. 162), Maharaj says, “In bhakti there is no question of giving up ego, on this path one has a complete ego. On other paths you are told to give up the ego. The path of bhakti is the path where you identify yourself with your real ego and act from that. This is the path of complete ego.” How to understand this?
Answer: Meditation can have these benefits you have mentioned and you say you understand and have experienced. In order to truly serve Krishna, one has to still the mind so you are not a slave to your mind’s likes and dislikes any longer. When you are meditating, you are not engaging with other people or in situations that can trigger your mind to become emotionally unstable, so it is easier to feel peaceful. But, if you stay with your mind long enough and watch it carefully enough, you will come to realize that the anger and frustration you have mentioned have nothing to do with other people or situations. In fact, these feelings are buried inside of you, and they surface during meditation as well as in life. Perhaps you have not experienced this? It might be because of the way you are meditating. There are a zillion types of meditation. Japa is also a type of meditation but you have to learn it, just as you have to learn any other type of meditation. In japa meditation, the saṁskāras surface and anger, frustration, and other painful unprocessed feelings dance across your mind, inviting you to embrace them and process them. It is only when you become aware of what is lying dormant inside of your citta, and you process those feelings, that you become free from these dormant feelings. Only then you can serve Krishna/Guru purely from your heart.
To give up your ego means to surrender your material ego, because of which you think that you are separate from Krishna/Guru. To identify with your real ego means to surrender to Krishna/Guru by understanding that you belong to Them: “I am your servant. And Your pleasure is my only pleasure. My life is dedicated to serve You.”
It is not possible to do this without knowing your mind and material ego very well so you can take control of it and ultimately transcend it. The ego cannot be given up. It has to be engaged in the service of Krishna. Even if we assume that the ego can be given up, the question arises who will give it up. You will need another ego to give up the present ego, and then to give up that ego you will still need another ego because no action can be performed without ego. In this way you will remain busy all your life trying to give up ego and still not be successful. So the simple solution is to use the ego in the service of that person to whom it really belongs, i.e., Krishna.
In essence, meditation can be helpful in bhakti only if you understand bhakti properly. Furthermore, if you have learned the process of bhakti there is no need of separate meditation on the path of bhakti.
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