Meditation and Education
by Chariji, April 28, 1990, Jaipur, India.
Of course, you are all still children studying in schools and colleges. So, before we start answering your questions, I think I should tell you something about the role of meditation in preparing you for your education and for your future life. Generally, education should mean something that we have forgotten in this country. Nowadays education only means preparing yourself for a job, and people want to do something which will give them the maximum money for comfort, for good standard of living. But education really means to draw out of you your best in terms of your potentials, best in the physical way, i.e., to prepare you to be fit citizens who can serve society, serve your brothers and sisters, to draw out of you your mental and intellectual potential, not to cram facts into your heads. That is the unfortunate consequence of the material civilisation to which we have succumbed.
Really speaking, according to the Vedas, all knowledge is already in us. The only thing, it is covered by what they call ignorance, and they use the famous example of a mirror which is overlaid with dust. You clean away the dust and everything is clear. So, education is really the process of removing the ignorance that is covering our inner knowledge, which is absolute, which is perfect, which is eternal, which is supreme. We don't really have to learn anything.
Very often people ask, "How is it that saints and the great Masters of this world appear to know everything? You ask them any question, they have the answer."
They are supposed to be the Masters of the past, the present, and the future. The Sanskrit word is trikalajnani. How is it possible? If you study the lives of all the ancients, the rishis, the saints, even up to Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramaharnsa, few of them were really educated in the sense that they went to school. They had no degrees, but yet they were knowledgeable to the absolute extent that they knew everything. They could see. They did not learn and remember and speak. They could see as if everything is in front of them.
Now, this ability is created by meditation, because by meditation we learn to put our mind on one object. Meditation really means to think constantly, continuously of one subject. It has no other meaning. And whatever you think of, that is the object of your meditation, and all the ancient systems, modern systems of spirituality, of occultism all over the world, they say the same thing. You will become that upon which you meditate. This is an old law: as you meditate, so you become. That upon which you meditate, that you become.
Now when we are students, we are supposed to think continuously about our education. If this is done properly, naturally you become well educated because your mind is going on that same thing, again and again and again. In spirituality, all that we do is to change the subject. Put divinity in place of material life and when you meditate on God, you should become God. Anyway, that will come later.
But, as students, what concerns you all is, what has meditation to do with education per se. Now when we learn how to meditate properly by putting our mind on one object continuously, we become capable of concentration. So concentration is a result of meditation. There is an unfortunate misunderstanding, even in our yogic literature, that we have to concentrate: concentrate on God. God is not an object. How can we concentrate on God? He has no physical form. He has no qualities. Therefore most people fail.
Even the great aspirants, young fellows, students who have gone to the jungle, they come back after ten years and say, "All a waste of time."
Many people have been disillusioned by meditation, by these systems of yogic practice, not because the systems are wrong or incorrect, but because the way of doing it has been wrongly taught. They have been told to concentrate, when concentration is the end result of meditation.
So, when we learn to meditate and we meditate continuously, we use the mind itself to purify itself and to apply it on any chosen object. When we become capable of doing this by prolonged meditation - 1 don't mean by prolonged meditation, twenty-four hours at a stretch, but daily for a stipulated time - then on any object on which you put your mind its inner truth of its existence, of its being, is instantly revealed.
Therefore the ancient and the modern gurus, the great avatars, the Purushas, the Mahapurushas, they have all said, "Concentration is the instrument for revelation."
So it is very easy, when you think of it that way, how these great seers, as we call them, the drishtas, how could they see, because they thought of something and they applied their mind to it totally and everything about it was revealed. Whether it is in the future or the past, it did not matter. So, when you look at a person, everything about that person is revealed. When they look at an object, everything is revealed. Now, in this way, if you are able to spare, say, half an hour in the morning, half an hour in the evening for the practice, for the system of meditation, you are really training your mind to be able to meditate, then subsequently to concentrate to become a capable instrument for revelation.
Can you realise the enormity of the benefit that you will get, when your mind is so trained, that instantly you apply it? You take a history book, and you open it, and everything you read is instantly revealed. You don't have to memorise. When was Akbar born? When did the Mughal dynasty come to an end? All this is only cramming facts. It is said that Swami Vivekananda, one of our greatest personalities, would put a book under his pillow and go to sleep. He did not even open it, and in the morning he knew everything about the book. If you ask him what is on page 216 in paragraph two, he could recite the whole paragraph, not because he opened it and memorised it but because his mind applied, photographed, and everything was stored here, like a computer stores information.
So, what is the relevance of meditation? This is the relevance of meditation. Now we are struggling with our merely human mind - some of which is stupid, some of which is very sensible, something is under our control, something is rebelling. You know, as students, sometimes you are not able to study, you sit down on the table with your book open with all your best intentions, but you are not able to study, or a friend comes and calls you and you are not able to resist the call of the friend, or your mother switches on the television and that is pulling you there, or you smell something, chaat masala, and there goes your thought into the kitchen. Not because they are tempting us but because our mind is not in our control.
Meditation trains us to become the master of our minds. It must obey what I say; not I obey my mind. That is why most children, most youths, especially between the age of say twelve and eighteen, nineteen, twenty - very troublesome age - some of you must have experienced the problem of 'growing up', as we say, because you have no control over your mind. It is being buffeted about like leaves in the wind.
Then you say, "Mummy, I can't help it, what can I do?" and sometimes you weep, sometimes you go to your father.
If you are a daughter, he is very nice. If you are a son, he may give you a couple of nice affectionate taps on your head, but what is the result? Loving will not produce education. Education must be produced only by application: application of the mind, and the mind must be able to concentrate, and that concentration can only be developed by meditation. There is no second way.
So, this is the relevance of meditation through the educational process. I would go to the extent of saying that without meditation your educational process is incomplete. It is like building a house without a foundation. Therefore you find today misfits in every sphere of life: so-called educated people who don't know their subject; engineering graduates who construct a bridge which is collapsing even before it is completed; houses not even in vertical, rooms badly designed, switches not accessible, electrical circuits faulty. They are educated people but they are not able to apply their education. You have to learn to apply the mind to become educated; you have to learn to apply education to use education, like the difference between science and technology. Science is pure, technology is application of that science to produce things, to utilise things.
Now, how is all this possible? I would stress this point, that without meditation your whole educational edifice is built on something like sand. Therefore, we have degrees but no knowledge. Today our country, I am unfortunately compelled to say this, is full of degree holders, even PhDs in science and mathematics, and this, that, and the other, who know exactly what they have studied from their books and nothing more, because they have studied only what they had to study to get their degree. Passing has become our main consideration, not education; and passing - not just passing, but if possible with a good rank so that we can study higher, become a doctor, become an engineer. Why? We can make a lot of money.
So to keep our educational system pure, education must mean education and nothing else. Like food, the moment you put colour in it and this, that in it, that food is useless. Food must be simple, tasty, nourishing. Why should it be colourful and beautiful to look at? So, we have made our educational process something like a commercial enterprise. Now, when we go back to meditation, there are two benefits. One, as I said, we train the mind to be able to apply itself on any object that you choose and therefore revelation becomes available to you, which means in an instant total grasp of the subject, not page by page, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter, not at all. It becomes a total thing, like when you illuminate a place, everything you see before you is illuminated. It is not illuminated piecemeal. You may see it piecemeal, but the whole thing is illuminated. When the sun rises in the morning, everything is illuminated at once.
So, meditation gives this power of instant and total illumination to the mind on anything that it may be applied. Secondly, because it is a process of training yourself to master yourself, I would suggest that material ambitions sort of take second place. They don't become the primary object of your existence or your education, but they take second place. And you get the confidence that if I can master myself, I can master anything else. If I am educated in the real sense, not just with facts but with knowledge of a subject, I must be able to do the work that anybody gives to me. If I do the work in the right way, it is done in the right way and it must be fruitful. If it is fruitful, the work itself is my reward. Not the money that I am going to earn. After all, today even barber shops flourish; panwalahs flourish. I am told there are panwalahs who make a thousand rupees a day and, as the businessman of our country say, they don't even pay tax - thirty thousand rupees a month without paying income tax. But they are not educated. ... Education must give us culture. Education gives culture because we look to the inner values of things, not to the superficial dresses and tikas that we put on our shoulders and our foreheads.
So, meditation confers on us a total integrated blessing by making us educated in the true inner sense, educated to values and not to facts, educated to our inner needs, not to apparently social needs, that I must be better than my peers, I must earn more money than my younger brother, not things like that, but to the true values of existence. In this way, meditation is the foundation not merely for education but for our existence.
So having said this, now I am sure you have questions to ask. I am prepared to answer whatever I can. You will excuse me if I have no answer for some questions. Thank you.
Q: Generally meditation is something linked with the people who practice in older age. How can it help us achieve at our age?
A: You have just heard my talk. I have clearly stated that it is the foundation for education itself. So obviously it must begin when we are young. Now unfortunately in our country, there is this funny idea that human beings should get on with their living and have their fun, exhaust themselves physically, mentally, morally, and then when they have nothing else to do, then come to meditation. God is generally the subject of our desperate need, not of our love. Even though in India we always say, God is love. But we think when nothing else is available, then we should go to God, therefore old people go to God. But generally what the great Masters have said is, "If you come to meditation when you are too old, then you have no longer the ability to control or regulate your mind. It's like an old man of ninety-two wanting to walk. He cannot walk.
So everything that is worth doing is worth doing when we are young, including meditation. Actually, according to the ancient Indian system of shastras and our spiritual way of life, the initiatory process must start at what they call garbhaashtaka, which means the eighth year from the day of conception. That is, assuming one year passes in your mother's womb, when you are seven, initiation must be given, and from that time your meditation and spiritual life must begin.
But as I said, material life has taken over, and they say, "No, no, let us make our money. Let us build our houses. Let us have our tamasha."
Then when we are too old for everything else, then we take up meditation, which is wrong.
Q: I am thinking of a career in sport. I would like to know how meditation will help?
A: Have you heard of Arjuna? A great warrior. Nowadays you are seeing the Mahabharata, everybody is familiar. It is said that when Draupadi's swayamwara. [Translation: process of choosing a husband] was to take place, these Pandavas went in the guise of Brahmins. All the shishyas of Drona were there, the great archers, but it was Arjuna who not only won the archery contest but won Draupadi for the Pandava brothers, too. Because, through spiritual practice, he was a disciple of Lord Krishna. As you know, he was a friend of Lord Krishna and a disciple of Lord Krishna through the spiritual training under the Master Drona, who was not merely a master of archery, he was a Guru, an acharya, you see. They were taught to meditate, to concentrate, aim and fire.
So this test had this wheel, and a parrot on top of it, and the wheel was rotating, and there was a pond below and you had to look into the pond, look at the reflection and shoot.
When Arjuna was victorious, Drona asked each one, "Why did you fail and what happened?"
One said, "I saw the wheel."
Another said, "I saw the space through the spokes."
The third one said, "I saw the parrot."
Only Arjuna said, "I saw the eye of the parrot reflected in the pool and I shot."
So, you see, if you can be a successful warrior and an archer, why can't you be a successful sportsman? After all, in sports, there are two things that are necessary, sportsmanship, and the ability to concentrate on what you are doing. Sportsmanship is an attitude of the heart, that in sports, there is both victory and loss, and the famous dictum, that we play not to win but for the sake of the game. This generosity or the acceptance, the humility to accept that failure is an ever-present possibility, and therefore we play only for the game, not to be victorious. And victory goes to the one who can concentrate. Both these abilities are developed by meditation. Anybody else? Yes please?
Q: We are confused about our career in future. How can it help us in that?
A: The future is evolving out of the past, isn't it? Tomorrow cannot come without today. If today suddenly this world should be destroyed, God forbid, there won't be any tomorrow. So the foundation for tomorrow is today. But we must go one step backwards and realise that the foundation for today existed yesterday. So in what I did yesterday lies the success or the fruitfulness of today's life. And in what I shall do today lies the future; justification for my existence, the fruitfulness of my living. So today's existence is what really matters in thinking of the future. Now most students are only thinking of the future and forgetting the today. Therefore they don't study today, they don't meditate today and they don't play today. Three things are very necessary.
My Master, my Guruji used to tell me, "We should play as if we are working, and we should work as if we are playing."
You know, there is another statement from another famous philosopher, who says, "Drink solids and eat liquids."
That is, there should be an opposition, or a tendency to look at things from an opposite perspective. If you are too serious about serious things, as the English proverb goes, you may miss the wood for the trees. So, if you do correctly what you are to do correctly, the future is already taken care of. And to do correctly what you have to do correctly, you must be able to control your mind, regulate your mind and make it an instrument capable of revelation. And this we achieve through meditation. So, this is the relevance of meditation, even to the future and even to your career. Thank you. Yes?
Q: Sir, I am trying to learn meditation by reading books.
A: You are trying to learn meditation by reading books? Well yes, because nowadays the world is full of books which are trying to teach you how to do things. This is putting the cart before the horse, as we say. Can you learn to swim by reading a book? Can you learn to cook by reading a book? You can read a book but you have to side-by-side cook also. Similarly, here you are allowed to read a book but side-by-side meditate also. Now you cannot do both things at once. See, most of the ladies or girls who have tried to cook with a book in their hands have either burnt their fingers or burnt the thing that they are cooking or burnt the book also! So you read first, then you cook. Taste it, if it is wrong, see what mistake you made and refer to the book. Then start all over again. And when you are perfect, you close the book and put it away. So the book is only to help you to begin something, not to complete something.
So similarly, books on meditation can tell you what meditation is. For instance, when I speak to you, you can think of me as a ‘speaking book.' You don't have to turn the pages; I am doing it for you! Isn't it?
I don't say, "Page one, page two, page three, paragraph one..." like that.
I tell you meditation is the ability to think of something continuously. Do it, sit down, close your eyes and try to think of one thing continuously. See if you are able to do it. If you are able to do it, you have already started meditation.
So the need for books is only to introduce us to do something, but most people, I find, have libraries – how to be a good carpenter, how to be a good musician, how to repair electrical appliances - they are never even opened. So yoga says learn by doing. Because by doing you have taken the first step necessary, that is, to start doing something. It's like walking. If I am sitting in my chair and thinking of walking and reading books on how to walk well, at what rate I should walk, what should be my pulse rate, then I can never walk. I am sitting in my chair. Half an hour is gone. But if I get out and start walking the process is already begun. So it is better to do things and learn things because you are gaining two things by doing: you are learning how to do it and you are getting the experience of doing. In books perhaps you only learn how to do things without ever doing it, therefore when you start doing it, you feel. Right?
Next? Yes, please.
Q: I want to learn more about concentration.
A: Concentration. Ah! What is there to know more? Concentration is - for instance, we prepare coffee, we have the powder and we pour boiling water over it and all the essence is taken out of it, which you call the decoction. The rest is rubbish; you throw it away, like sawdust.
Concentration in one sense is the ability to take the essence of anything that you wish to know. Now, you are a human being. You go to a Master, a spiritual Master. He doesn't want to know your height and the colour of your eyes, and how beautifully you can smile. Your passport needs these things. When you apply for a passport, they need your age, date of birth, parentage, all these things, colour of the hair, distinguishing marks. But for the saint it is your inner essence that he wants. Now this inner essence cannot be known by looking at the outer characteristics. They may be beautiful, they may be ugly, it doesn't matter. You cannot know bread by looking at bread; you have to eat it. So to know the essence of physical things, human beings and of the cosmic phenomena, the moment you are able to concentrate - now you know when you have a torch light and you concentrate by focusing it, the beam is powerful, it reveals everything within that beam. I told you in the beginning, everything is revealed. It doesn't reveal only the good things and not the bad things.
So when we want to learn to concentrate, we must be prepared to meditate first. Secondly we must be prepared to have the faith and the courage to see what is shown to us, not to be disturbed by it. Not to be attracted by the beauty that we see, not to be repelled by the ugliness that we may see. When you look at a human heart, there may be so many things in it.
Now suppose you say, "Oh, what a dirty person! No, no, I don't want..." you are no longer worthy to be called a person who can concentrate.
So concentration means the instant ability to draw the essence of anything upon which you apply your mind. Right? Next please.
Q: I know something about meditation, but we don't have time. What to do?
A: Time. Unfortunately, there is an old saying that anything in this world can be re-created but not time. You can lose health, you can re-create it. You can lose money, you can make it again. Isn't it? You can burn a book, you can write it again. You can spoil the cooking that you are doing but you can make it all over again. But time passed is time lost. Once we understand this, that inevitably, inexorably time is limited to twenty-four hours a day, the second step comes. Then we will understand how to use that time. Isn't it? After all, we cannot create two hours more. Then we will have what we call time consciousness and the ability to guide our life by this concept that time is limited, therefore the most important thing must be done first, the second important thing second, the not important thing not at all.
Now when people say they have no time, it only means they are doing useless things and not doing the things that they have to do. I have found that people who say they have no time are not doing anything at all, because there is another famous statement, "He who is most busy has the most time."
For instance, one man, a senior government officer came to my Master. He also said the same thing that you are saying. You are saying it as a child; he said it as an old man.
He said, "But I have no time."
So my Guruji replied, "It is unfortunate that God created only a day of twenty-four hours. It would have been nicer if he had done it with twenty-six hours." Then he laughed and said, "Even then you would have had no time, because you are not really interested in meditation."
Then another man came. Same question.
So my Master said, "Can you think of somebody more busy than you are?"
He said, "What! What a silly question. There are millions of people who are more busy than me."
Babuji said, "No, no. Tell me one instance."
He said, "The Prime minister of this country is very busy."
Babuji said, "How much more busy?"
He said, "Enormously more busy."
Babuji said, "If he can find all the time to do all that he is doing, being enormously busier than you, how is it you don't find enough time to meditate for half an hour?"
So, time - 1 have also found this in my own experience - the more you do, the more time you seem to have. Because time is utilisation. As one man used to tell me, an hour has sixty minutes, and it has three thousand six hundred seconds. And if you can do one thing in each second, you can do three thousand six hundred things in an hour. Imagine how much you can do in twenty-four hours. But we are wasting our time, looking out of the window with the history book open before us. Suddenly you wake up and find it is two and a half hours gone in daydreaming.
You say, "I have no time, mummy, what can I do? Tomorrow is my test," and you go and weep. What is the use?
We have enough time. We have more time than we need. The secret is to apportion the time to what we have to do.
Q: Can meditation help a drug addict?
A: Can meditation help a drug addict? Well, if you mean can it help you to become a better addict, no! We don't want better addicts. But, meditation can help, only after you have given up the drugs. You see, for meditation, as I said in the beginning, you are using the mind to train itself. If the mind is not in your control, you cannot meditate. So the first thing for a drug addict is to give up drugs. You know, it is like cycling. When you are cycling, if you have to walk you have to get off the bicycle. You cannot walk and bicycle at the same time.
Now the most dangerous thing about drug addiction is it destroys the brain cells. After a particular stage … the brain cells are damaged irreversibly. Then you become incapable of meditation. I won't say unfit because nobody is unfit. But if the brain cells are destroyed beyond the capacity that you can control yourself, use the mind itself to train it, it cannot help any more.
So people who want to help themselves must do it when they are capable of helping themselves. Drugs in this case are a very, very dangerous thing and a very destructive thing. So drugs must be given up first. Once it is given up and you have the natural ability over the mind that any human being has, then you start the process of meditation, you will find everything that is unnecessary is thrown off.
Now normally in yogic practice there is a lot of talk about renunciation and vairagya and all these things that frightens us. Oh, how can I give up... so many things, you see, money, power, girlfriends. Today's life is full of these things. But, what is necessary to life? You know, if you are going to fly, you are allowed only twenty kilograms baggage. Why? Because the plane cannot fly with unlimited weight. And then we find we don't really need twenty kilos. We need eight kilos of baggage and you have enough for a world voyage. So when we are limited by essentials, essential concepts of existence, then we are able to prune away all the unnecessary things. That is itself going towards a revitalisation of existence, by seeking to home in to the essence, forgetting the fripperies. Today in life everything is frippery. You want to buy a suitcase, there is more of ornamentation than suitcase in it; there is more of price. They are praising the handles and the bolts and nuts, but what about the suitcase itself?
So drugs are taking you to an illusory world. People talk of the reality that is, you know, a drug reality. I am ashamed to see that even great psychologists have talked of the alternate universe of drugs. Nonsense, I say. How can illusion be a reality? If you understand that illusion can never be a reality, then an illusory world can never be a real world. But children have been damaged by being taught wrong things. By saying there is a spiritual value even in illusion, which is like saying dreams are reality. So if I sit down and dream that I am a rich man, in some way there is a reality to my dream? It's crazy!
So, meditation can help only if the drug habit is given up, then by the natural process of evolution you are able to attain the perfection that you are looking for. Next? Yes please.
Q: I feel nervous before exams. How to overcome it?
A: Nervousness is caused by two things: a state of unpreparedness and the consequent fear. If I have to fight you, and you are armed and I am not armed, naturally I am frightened.
So, it follows that if you are prepared, you are not going to be nervous. No preparation - one young lady asked the question of time. If you have used your time properly, and given importance to the important things, automatically you are going to be better prepared than anybody else, better prepared than even your examiners, because you are fully prepared, they are only prepared with a few questions. You see if a student studies well with full application of the mind, he can go beyond his teachers. The whole secret of yoga is that a real student of a real master must go one step ahead of his guru. And it is said that all the gurus from the most ancient times have wept their hearts at not being able to find one student like that. After all, the teacher is only looking through various chapters and trying to find something to ask you. But if you know your subject, you can ask that fellow some question which he will not be able to answer.
I remember once I had to go for an interview and there they asked me several questions, and one question I could not answer.
So the man in the interview board said, "My friend, you have not been able to answer this question."
I said, "Sir, you are all great people, on an interview board. If I ask you one question from your matriculation curriculum will you be able to answer?"
He smiled, but that smile was answer enough! Reverting to what I said in the beginning, they are educating themselves only to attain a position. Having attained the position, the facts are forgotten, because they were never really educated. They only mastered the facts.
So if your aim is to educate yourself, not just to master some facts to answer questions, there will be never any fear. Because now you have only mugged up something. Your main fear is that these questions should come which you have prepared for and not something else! Isn't it? So, if you are meditating, then going back to this rigmarole, and your mind had been prepared and everything has been revealed to you, there can be never any fear. Therefore it is said, meditation produces fearless people. Next?
Q: Is it possible to get rid of some bad habits like...
A: Yes, you see, I have often thought about temptations. This is a question of temptation. You have your books on one side and the cinema on the other side and you go to the cinema.
People say, "He was tempted by the pictures. He was tempted by his friends. He was tempted by drugs. He was tempted by... so many things."
I have often thought, "What is really temptation?"
Now, if a picture is a temptation, anybody who goes to that must be tempted. So the temptation is not in the object. It is in your response to the object.
Now yogic science says, yogic psychology says, we have a set of samskaras within ourselves, which are impressions created by our past thoughts and past actions. And when these are repeated, the impression becomes stronger and stronger. So the more pictures you see, the more pictures you will tend to see. It is like the famous law of Newton, that anything going in a particular direction will continue in that direction until it is stopped. Any object in motion will continue to be in motion until stopped by another force. So to stop you from seeing pictures, another opposing force must have to stop you.
Now an opposing force does not mean your parents or your friends or your teachers. It can be yourself, because yogic science says, "In me there are two selves: my outer superficial ego self and my inner eternal atomic Self which is an amsha of the Divine." That must stop me from doing it. Now to enable that to stop me, I must give predominance to that which is in me which I call the Self. Therefore when we meditate, we are subduing this outer self, sitting quietly, calmly, in repose, and allowing the inner Self to develop to its peak.
Now when I begin to listen to the voice of my inner Self, which we normally call conscience, and now, in control of myself, there is no external authority to say, "Thou shall not do this. Thou shall do this." It is so nonsensical to be told, "Thou shall not, Thou shall not, Thou shall not," for everything.
But when you yourself tell yourself from your inner Self, you just smile and say, "What is so wonderful about a picture? I will study today and better myself."
So in that sense meditation will help you to conquer everything, not only pictures - everything, totally, in the external universe.