Category Archives: Meditation

Meditation Begins After the Mind is Silent

Meditation today has become a tool, a technique. People talk about meditation as a way of controlling their mind, or calming their mind. There are hundreds of techniques that masquerade as meditation techniques. And there are dozens of teachers teaching meditation and several hundred books on the subject.

Is the goal of meditation really to achieve a silent mind?

It is possible some people might experience a stillness in their mind during meditation as thoughts die down. This is what they assume to be the fruits of meditation. But can they carry that stillness through the day? It is difficult. The daily life once again creates disturbances in the mind, stokes the fires of thought and the mind is once more in chaos. So the person thinks he must deepen his meditation practice and meditate harder, put more effort in his meditation, resolve more strongly to silence the mind, and so on. Then there are those people who cannot achieve any form of stillness of mind during their meditation and they think meditation is useless or they are useless.

In all this merry go round, somewhere the essence of meditation has been lost.

For a moment, let’s keep the word meditation aside and look at life in a simple way. If your mind is agitated due to some reason, will you be able to sit quietly for some time? It would be difficult. Thoughts would come and go and suddenly you will find yourself acting on some thought or saying something or thinking even more. Your mind is not silent. This is the normal life. We go through our day from one thought to another, from one action to another, fueled by inner thoughts or external stimulus of what you see, what others say to you, what they want you to do, and so on.

Now supposing, it is early morning or late evening or a time where you are not disturbed and you are all alone. And you are not doing anything special. How long will you be able to sit like that without your mind wandering all over the universe? It is certain that suddenly you will find yourself doing something. Most people don’t like that aloneness with their own minds and want to keep their mind occupied – for instance watching television or watching movies or doing some hobby work.

Is your mind really silent during these activities? No, it is not. It is merely guided by the flow of images and sounds so it does not have to be on its own. The television soap or the movie is telling a story and your mind is following that. If you are working on your hobby, your mind is working on a goal and therefore is seemingly silent.

But as soon as that external support is over, the mind is active once more and starts to wander and feel agitated. This is the normal human state and nothing to worry about. But some people’s minds are too troubled by old memories or habitual emotions that their mind wants to do something about it – to put an end to their suffering.

This is where, the mind starts to believe that meditation will help silence their mind. But this is a big mistake.

Meditation just becomes one of the ways to keep the mind occupied, like TV or movies. The mind wants to struggle with itself and quieten itself. So it goes around like a dog trying to catch its own tail. So for some time, the mind becomes still but as soon as the meditation session is over, its back to the normal monkey mind once again. It’s like you had put a monkey in a suitcase for 20 min and now opened the suitcase. The monkey would go crazy as soon as it is out of the suitcase. Sometimes, the monkey falls asleep in the suitcase but wakes up after some time.

The point is, so long as you have a monkey, there is no meditation.

There is meditation only when there is no monkey mind. This is the meditation after the mind is silent. This is the real meditation. It is sitting quietly doing nothing.

Dogen, before he became enlightened, had a doubt as to why masters even after attaining enlightenment still practiced sitting meditation. He was totally confused and it because a big koan for him. If meditation is to attain enlightenment, then why meditate after you have attained it? And then he cracked the koan and became enlightened.

So if you can understand this point, you will have a completely different view of meditation. True meditation can happen only after you have a silent mind. It will be difficult to accept this view because the mind then has no recourse to silencing itself (keeping itself occupied in other words) but to face the monkey within.

All efforts to silence the mind, including so called meditation are simply the work of the monkey mind. So now how will you attain a silent mind? I will leave you with that question. Best wishes.

May you realize your enlightenment.

The Five Questions of a Sincere Seeker


A sincere seeker of truth is someone who is actively seeking for the truth. A sincere seeker is someone for whom discovering the truth is a very important and central goal of his life. So a sincere seeker will search for the truth in books, in gurus, in meditation and in conversation with others. A sincere seeker is serious about his search because he knows that the truth will give him the meaning of his life. This is not to say that a sincere seeker’s life has problems and therefore he is seeking the truth. That may be the case. But what I am saying is that a sincere seeker realizes that life must have something more to offer than the routine struggle for survival and he is seeking for that something beyond the ordinary.

Many people have written about this subject and a sincere seeker would do well to read all such literature. However, reading must be done with an open mind and not with a biased mind. This is an important point because any sort of bias – religious or personal – distorts the truth.

Many gurus speak on the subject of truth and today an unlimited amount of videos and audios are available on the Internet that the sincere seeker can access. But the very fact that so much material is available makes the task even more difficult because now the seeker has to literally search for the proverbial needle in the haystack. This cannot be a practical approach since it would take many lifetimes to read, hear and watch all the material on the Internet.

The benefits of reading and hearing from others cannot be discounted in any way. However, a sincere seeker must realize that the real work is inner work. In ancient times when there was not so much reading to be done, the seekers would only approach the task through the means of direct practice. And direct practice is even now the only way to self-realization. Mere reading and listening to Gyan will not help in any way.

I am recommending the following five questions that a sincere seeker of truth must ask of himself during his search.


This is a central question that appears again and again in most spiritual advices given by teachers across time and space. And no doubt it is the most important question to answer. However, note that the answer is not going to be in words because the answer is an experience or a direct realization of who you are. Later you might put it into words to convey it to another but those words will not transfer the realization to another. This has been the chief hurdle in the relationship between teacher and student.

So how do you ask this question? Who am I? What answer do you get? Probably you will say you are your name. And that is a good place to begin to discover who you are not. You could have any name but your parents gave you that specific name and now you think you are that. Then you might say you are your body and your mind. But please realize that the body is made of what you eat and the mind is made of what you sense (see, hear, smell, feel) and remember. Both body and mind will return to dust when you die. So is that it? If death really ended everything then there is no requirement for the spiritual search and no point in asking the question who am I. But if you simply think you are the immortal soul that keeps changing clothes in every birth, then you are no closer to answering the question than saying I am my name. Saying something and experiencing something are two different things. Saying something does not change your life. Anybody can say – I am the soul. But does it change his life? No. So remember that the experience of who you really are is important because that has the ability to change your life, your viewpoint and your experience. Remember also that going in search of the soul is another futile effort because you do not know what it is. How can you search for something you know nothing about. So there are very many complications in this question and a sincere seeker must be aware of them and not fall into their trap.

So a good way to answer this question is not to answer it but keep the question in mind as you go about your daily life. Do not answer but strengthen the question. Translate the question into the activities you are doing. Who am I? Who is walking? Who is speaking? Who is reading? Who is thinking? If you do like this for a long time, the answer might dawn on you suddenly. You will know for yourself.

Who am I is a very powerful and effective question. Teachers such as Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj have taught their students using only this question as the instrument.

Who am I is the key question but it can also be approached in a gentle manner by asking four other questions – where am I, what do I really want, why do I want it and how do I get it.


This question is a good starting point for all those sincere seekers who find the who am I question a little daunting. Where am I does not literally ask which city or which house you are in, but refers to the context in which you find yourself. Where am I is about observing the world around you, observing what people around you are doing and what they are busy in. Where am I is a question about what age and time you are living in – what is the economic, political, social and religious environment, what is the prevalent psychology of people in the world.

If you are here, it means you are a part of that environment. You have been brought up in that environment with those beliefs and thoughts. Where am I in a sense is the reflection of the question who am I in the outer world. The whole world is reflected in you and you reflect the whole world. You may not be able to understand this at the moment but by understanding the world, you can get some understanding of yourself. Know as much as possible about the world – the way people live, the way people relate, the way people fight with each other, the way people express love, and the way people try to search for truth. Learn everything you can. Knowing where you are gives you a big picture perspective on everything and also your search for the truth.

J Krishnamurti in his talks usually pointed out to the things happening in the world. He was trying to tell his audience where they were and how the world reflected their inner mental turbulence. 


The next question is what do you want. And I want to break it into two questions – what do you want and what do you REALLY want? There is a big difference between the two questions. For the first question you could answer that you want money, a good job, a good spouse, a good life in general. Most people do not go deeper into this question because in order to get what they want, they have to spend all their energy. But as a sincere seeker of truth you must ask the question what do I REALLY want. Behind all the wants and needs and desires, what is it that I want ultimately? Is it happiness? Is it peace of mind? Is it supreme bliss? Is it self-realization? Is it truth?

Whatever it is that you really want, you must be able to explore that and make sure that it is something you truly want. When this is reasonably clear in your mind, then your actions will start reflecting your choice. You will start moving away from what you want superficially to what you want deep down. Allow this process to happen.

The Buddha talked about how our desire – what we want – is the root cause of our suffering. 


This question is to be used in conjunction with the question what do I really want. The why do I want question helps to sort out the genuine want from the superficial want. For every answer you give to the question what do I want, you must ask why do you want it. This will take you to deeper levels of your psyche. However, beware of fooling yourself. If you are not honest with the answers to why you want it, you will not be able to go deeper. The why question is like a pickaxe which helps you to dig into the what question. The why question can hurt if you have created layers and layers of pretense about who you are and where you are and what you want. Do not underestimate the why question. It is a very powerful tool and you must develop your skill in using it.

The 5 Why technique was popularized by Toyota Motor Corporation as a means of getting at the root cause of any problem.


When you get the answer to the question of what do I want and why I want it then you can decide on how you can get it. The how is a conscious effort not dependent on vague expectations from the others in your life and God or destiny. A sincere seeker must realize that if one wants something, then one must consciously work on it without any complaints and blame. He should not expect anyone else in the world to support him in his task. He is truly alone in his search. Whatever path he chooses, he must take complete responsibility for choosing it and have no regrets on choosing that. He must accept whatever is the outcome of the path he has chosen without trying to manipulate the results.

From an awakened perspective, the how really does not make sense because the journey is really from the here to the here. How does one get from here to here or from the present to the present? There really is no way because you are already here. The problem is you do not know it and the journey is from ignorance to enlightenment. And it happens in an instant after a long period of effort. Sounds a little contradictory but that’s the way it is.

So the above five questions are powerful instruments in the toolkit of a sincere seeker of truth.

May you realize your true self.





Awareness – The Goal As Well As The Means

If you care to observe the people around you – family, friends, co-workers, shopkeepers, people on the street, people on television, people in the market, and people in general – you would surely have noticed several times that most people are unaware of what they do, what they say or how they behave. That is to say only when you consciously pay attention to how people are going about doing their work. Otherwise, you also are one of them – going about your work, lost in thoughts. This is not to say that you are not doing important things but only to point out the quality of the awareness that goes with the activity.

The problem is common across people of different countries, races, ages and gender. No doubt, there are people who are more aware than the general population but for the majority, limited awareness (almost as if walking in sleep) is the rule.

Consider a spectrum of awareness beginning with the whole universe, only a part of which is perceivable to the human senses. There is a vast portion of the universe which cannot be perceived by humans, even with high tech instruments. Of the perceivable world, people are aware only of a limited fragment which is based on our conditioning. Each person selectively experiences the world. And of that small portion of the world that people selectively experience, people limit their awareness to quick judgments, conclusions, opinions, likes and dislikes.

Spectrum of Awareness

For most people, the real world is external, what is out there, outside of themselves. They believe that they, with their bodies, are living as a separate unit within the external world. At best, they have only a very vague awareness of what goes on inside their bodies and minds. There is a huge stream of thoughts, emotions, instincts and intuitions that are constantly flowing through the mind. And yet, because it is through these thoughts and emotions that humans make sense of the external world, these are almost totally hidden from normal awareness.

Only when the body screams out with tiredness or a headache or stomach ache that we have the opportunity to recognize there is something inside us which we are not aware. Only when there is anger or frustration that we have the opportunity to note that there is something inside us that we are not aware. We only are aware of the external manifestation of those elements when we have to face their consequences, which are usually painful.

All human suffering arises from a lack of awareness. As awareness increases, suffering reduces. This is the law of nature. Despite all the clues and pointers that one must look within, most people find ways to blame the external circumstances or other people for their troubles.

Left to itself, the nature of awareness is to shrink, to focus on only the most important elements. People are anyways conditioned by education and environment to focus on limited goals, limited choices, limited alternatives, and limited outcomes. So people learn very fast what is desirable and what is not, what must be done and what must be ignored. As people practice limiting their awareness, they become experts at it. Therefore, when problems arise, the prescription is to increase awareness – through relaxation, meditation, out of the box thinking, going off on vacation to seek new experiences. All of this temporarily increases awareness and people feel fresh but when they go back to normal life, they stop investing in awareness. They give credit to that nice beach, or the thrill of the speedboat or the soothing music used for relaxation but do not realize the importance of their own awareness in healing themselves.

Awareness is the goal and awareness is the means of achieving that goal.

One must consciously be aware and expand that awareness in order to experience life more fully. Right now, sitting where you are, you can notice how limited your awareness is – limited to the words on the screen of your computer and some sounds that reach your ears. Right now, you can consciously increase your awareness by being more aware.

  • Become aware of your posture
  • Become aware of the contact of your feet with the floor
  • Become aware of your weight on the chair on which you are sitting
  • Become aware of the variety of sounds around you
  • Become aware of the things you can see from the corner of your eyes

Notice that as you become aware, small corrections happen automatically – maybe you shift your posture, become more centered in yourself, relax a little, notice the change in breathing… As you become more and more aware, your experience undergoes a qualitative change, maybe you can notice what mood you are in right now. When you are aware of something, you have the opportunity to act in full knowledge of what you are doing.

Awareness cannot be increased mechanically by taking a pill or an injection. It cannot be increased by doing exercises in meditation and yoga. All those have temporary effects. The only way to increase awareness is through a gentle conscious effort which begins with noting that one is not aware in the moment.

Awareness is its own reward. As awareness grows, one realizes that all activities in life, whether it is family or career are not ends in themselves but a stage or platform on which to develop our awareness. Awareness can make every moment in our life seem divine. What else can we desire for?

Renunciation – The Last Step


The most debated topic when it comes to spirituality is renunciation. No wonder, there are many misconceptions about it.

Renunciation, the way it is understood by most people, is the act of leaving home and family life in order to pursue the spiritual life – to live the life of a wandering hermit in search of the ultimate truth. The central question is whether it is necessary to renounce worldly life in order to achieve enlightenment.

Before we enter the debate on the pros and cons of renunciation, we must understand some basics about enlightenment. Enlightenment is the same for all human beings. In fact self-realization is about discovering your true self, beyond the illusory person that you think you are. So the question is about the approach – whether leaving family is going to help you to achieve that.

Let’s pause for a moment and reflect on the situation. We know that we have to be born in a family setting. No human being is born without a mother and a father and if he has grown up to get enlightened, then we can be sure, he or she has spent significant time in the care of the family and society. If there was no family, no society, then there would be no enlightened individuals also.

Society at times or rather at all times is a place full of chaos, where every individual is seeking his self-centered happiness and does not hesitate to harm others and cheat others to get what he wants.  Children are prepared through education to get ready to enter the society and sustain its existence. Customs of marriage and rituals of coming of age are all significant for the sustenance of the society.

One cannot force anyone to exit the society, except as an outcast for breaking some of the agreements of the society. So by default, everyone is condemned to live in the society despite its cruelties. All one can do is to further one’s own goals, hoping one gets through life without serious incidents. The whole desire for enlightenment has no place in this structure. Society does not encourage the seeking for truth. Its existence depends on the illusion of progress and civilization.


When an individual who perceives these illusions promoted by the society, he tries to understand what is going on. He comes across other individuals who talk of a true life, self-realization, etc and he is intrigued. He tries to find answers in the society but quickly comes to the conclusion that nobody knows anything about it.

His mind is boiling with the question and he is not finding any outlet because he has to fulfill the responsibilities of his life. He cannot focus on anything unless he gets an answer and therefore needs time and space to go within to explore. However, life has no mercy. It is unrelenting in its demands for survival and sustenance of the family and societal institutions.

Therefore, the only practical way out for a person is to renounce the family and go off to live alone in search of the truth. This has been happening in India throughout history. All those who had this inner calling have promptly renounced their worldly life and went into the forest. Whether they were successful in their search or not is another question.

The search for one’s true self requires meditation for long periods so if you are sitting and doing nothing while at home, other people will think you are lazy and a shirker. They do not appreciate the inner calling of the person. On the other hand, if you are in the forest, away from the home life, then  there is no one to disturb you in your meditation. You have voluntarily retired from all responsibilities so you can focus singlemindedly on your goal.

The Buddha used to say that going from the home to the homeless life was the fastest way to self-realization. Hundreds and thousands of young men left their homes to join the Buddha’s Sangha. Even today, many people leave their homes and join a spiritual order, whether Buddhism or Christianity or Hinduism.

Point to note is that if a person is leaving home just to avoid the arduous responsibilities, then that is not the right renunciation. It is right renunciation only when the individual’s intention is to realize his true self. Only then is the renunciation a practical choice because there is no other way to live in the society and seek the higher reality.

So the question naturally arises. Is enlightenment impossible without this renunciation of worldly life? It is not impossible. There have been many cases of family people getting enlightened by hearing the teachings of masters.

In fact Gurdjieff actively promoted the fourth way, a way of self-realization while living the ordinary life. He was of the opinion that the situation one finds oneself in in one’s life is the most appropriate situation to start the struggle against sleep in order to awaken.

The truth about awakening is one of conditions. If a man is living in conditions that are conducive to enlightenment, then it will happen whether he is living at home or in the forest. And if the conditions are not suitable, then awakening will give him a slip even if he has renounced worldly life.


So is there a middle way between renouncing and not renouncing? Yes, definitely there is a way for the intelligent person who knows the conditions to be created. These conditions include first and foremost unobstructed time and space for meditation. If a man is able to organize this time wherein he is able to devote time to meditation with the sincere aim of awakening, then he will be in a much better position than a man who has renounced the world and is living troubled with the thought of where to get his next meal in the forest.

True renunciation is the renunciation of the idea of ‘I’. This can be done anywhere. The only problem of living in the society is that others remind you of being you all too often for you to practice the inner renunciation of ‘I’. However, for a person who is able to maintain self-awareness in all his worldly interactions, he will not be troubled. Within his mind, he has renounced while he is still performing ‘self’-less actions in the world outside.

If at some time, the awakened person wants to really change his way of life and live away from society, then the outer renunciation is only a formality. True renunciation has already happened when the person stopped identifying himself with his body and mind.

Therefore, it can be said that renunciation is the last obvious step rather than the first courageous step.








Meditation is said to be turning inwards or looking within.

Inside and outside are concepts. By saying “look within”, one creates confusion because where is inside? It is assumed that inside means the mind. Is the mind really inside? Inside what – the body or the brain?

‘Look within’ makes one look inside the brain and gives rise to the notion of a boundary between the inner and the outer… roughly at the skin. Therefore if you try to look within, you will get lost.

Instead, do away with the notions of inner and outer, inside and outside. Meditation then is the observation of the process of observation or the instrument of observation… which is neither in nor out.

The Shocking Realization


It is natural to consider – I am Y. I can do this and I can say this. I have independent will to do what I wish. I can listen. I can think.

It is also natural that I get angry, I get depressed, I like something and I don’t like someone. I have my habits, my assumptions, my judgments, and my way of thinking.

Further, I also believe that I can change whenever I want to. I don’t change simply because I don’t think it is necessary. There might be some aspects of my personality that hurt others or hinder me to attain my best.

However, when things don’t turn out the way I want, I blame others and I blame circumstances. I project all sorts of intentions on other people but do not realize it at that moment.

Now what I am going to explain is the most shocking realization on the path to realization. Every person who has walked on this path faces this hurdle. Only if he accepts this and see the truth of this can he move ahead on the path.

This realization is that – I am not in control!!

I have no control on what I do, what I say, what I think… none at all. Things are happening of their own accord without any one controlling them. In other words, one thing happens because of all the other things. There is no way that one thing would not have happened in any other way keeping all other things the same.

Everything depends on everything else. There is no individual will.

When I see this in myself first, I don’t believe it. But there is no doubt since I am seeing it directly. And when I extend the same observation to other people around me, I am overwhelmed by the danger of the situation.

I cannot expect someone else to simply believe this fact. You gotta see it for yourself. Watch each action of yours – what you do and what you think. If you see carefully, you will observe an infinite chain of events but no original will.

Let’s say you lift your hand to your face. Why did you do it? In most cases, you won’t be able to answer that because we are always making movements of our hands, fingers and body as a reaction to the entire stimulus of the external world on our senses. But if you are observing, you will see that there was a thought to lift the hand and before the thought there was some itching sensation on your face which you want to do away with so you raise your hand. But where did the itching come from?
That is not in your control.

You might develop great theories and plans and think you have done something. But go over it slowly and find out the time when you decided to do that and ask yourself whether you decided independently or as a reaction to something that came to your mind.

All our actions and thoughts are completely involuntary. Nobody can do a thing about it. Our life might seem haphazard but everything happens as a reaction like a spring being released. This realization needs to be deepened before you can come to full realization of the nature of reality and your life.

What is the Purpose of Life?

So that’s the main question. Is it not? It is easy to say that you must discover your purpose in life or that different people have their own purposes. But I am not asking this question in the superficial sense. And if you have reflected for some time on this, you would have found that superficial answers do not really answer the question deeply.

Just to explain a little more. Is the purpose of my life to become somebody – a celebrity, a CEO, a wealthy person, a father, a grandfather, a good human being? Does my purpose lie in fulfilling all my responsibilities as a son, a husband, an employee, a citizen? Is my purpose gathering knowledge, learning how to do things, earning money, helping others?

All of that! We are doing all of that all our life? Is that all and then we simply die and hope that others will remember us for ever for the sons and daughters we leave behind, the houses and companies we have built. I don’t know about you but to me, none of these things seem to have any meaning. It seems to me that I engage in all these activities only because I don’t really know what I am supposed to do. So I just do what I have been educated in and what I see others doing.

The only way I can answer the question so that the question does not remain is to investigate where the question comes from and not by looking for an answer. The question is formed by the words – What, is, the, purpose, of, Life? Each word in itself has no meaning; neither does each alphabet of the word. Isn’t it true that I have composed the question simply because I can do so or have heard it or read it and then go about searching for the answer?

My mind and your mind have been trained to find answers to questions. Whenever a question is asked we are supposed to find an answer or else we will fail the exam. But can you drop the question altogether? If you can do that in reality, you might come across something which you never expected and come face to face with life in its naked form.