Stillness is God.
— Paramahansa Yogananda
Peace — Shanti
is a divine quality.
A true yogi, one united to "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding," is like a lovely rose, spreading around him the fragrance of tranquility and harmony.
Everything in the phenomenal world displays activity and changefulness, but tranquility is the nature of God. Man as a soul has within himself that same nature of calmness. When in his consciousness he can level and still the three mental states of upheaval—the waves of sorrow and gladness and the dips of indifference between them—he perceives within himself the placid ocean of spiritual soul-calmness expanding into the boundless sea of tranquility in Spirit. (The Gita XVI:12 - p.963)
and know that I am God.
— Psalm 46:10
Peace of God
After meditative unity with Spirit is permanently established, the devotee attains the superior state of oneness with God plus complete escape from the bindings of material vibrations. He enjoys the dual perception of oneness with God and interactions with matter while his consciousness within remains wholly detached from material vibrations.
Lastly, the devotee realizes the "peace of God, which passeth all understanding," (Philippians 4:7) the ultimate state of blessed tranquility in the vibrationless Absolute.* (The Gita, p.850)
* "The ornament of a servant of God is devotion; the jewel of devotion is consciousness of nonduality.
"The ornament of knowledge is meditation; the decoration of meditation is renunciation; and the pearl of renunciation is pure, unfathomable Shanti.
"The pure and unfathomable Shanti cuts the root of all misery. He who holds Shanti in his heart dwells in a sea of Bliss. All sins that breed suffering, anxiety, and anguish disappear, together with all limitations....
"Know him to be perfect who is most peaceful, who is taintless and free from all personal desires, whose mind vibrates with Shanti."
—Tulsidas, in Indian Mystic Verse
The saints have found that happiness lies in a constant mental state of unruffled peace during all the experiences of earthly dualities. A changeable mind perceives a changeable creation, and is easily disturbed; the unchangeable soul and the unruffled mind, on the other hand, behold, behind the masks of change, the Eternal Spirit. The man whose mind is like an oscillating mirror beholds all creation as distorted into waves of change; but the man who holds his mental mirror steady beholds there naught but the reflections of the Sole Unity—God. Through realization, not mere imagination, he sees that his body and all things are the condensed consciousness of Spirit. The mind, free of artificial excitation, remains centered in its native state of inner peace and soul joy. (The Gita p.205)
The Most Vital Part of Meditation
by Brother Ishtananda (excerpts from a talk at 2004 Convocation)
The most vital part of meditation – the whole crux of the matter in attaining the ultimate goal of God consciousness is stillness. When we are still and knowing God as peace, bliss, and love, then the normal sense thoughts are banished and we are in an interior state of consciousness. To commune with God, we need to go into silence. There is a vital point of meditation that is often misunderstood.
Consider what the desired goal of meditation is:
pure God consciousness —
— God Alone
Ordinarily our consciousness is vibrating with thoughts and emotions, and cannot merge with the calm consciousness of divine consciousness.
Stillness of meditation means being absorbed and feeling God’s presence at the spiritual eye. It is in this stillness that we experience communion with God as peace, as joy, as love.
Brother Anandamoy said, “In stillness there is conscious awareness, a deeply alert state without thoughts.”
Jesus taught: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet (withdraw the mind into the silence within), and when thou hast shut thy door (the door of the senses), pray to thy Father which is in secret (in the inner transcendent divine consciousness); and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly (shall bless you with the ever new Bliss of His Being).” (The Second Coming, p. 495)
Paramahansa Yogananda said, “True prayer is an expression of the soul, an urge from the soul. It is a hunger for God that arises from within, expressing itself to Him ardently, silently.” (The Second Coming, p. 491)
Don’t be discouraged if you can’t yet enter into this state of stillness - it is a very lofty state. But always set aside a portion of your meditation to try to attain this goal of stillness. It will come through the grace of God and Guru. Our job is to make the effort with the techniques. Recognize and appreciate what that stillness is when it comes, and don’t feel you have to move on in your meditation if you attain this state.
by Swami Smaranananda, Board of Directors, YSS India
(excerpts from a talk at 2010 Convocation, August 3, 2010)
Our meditations have 5 stages:
2. Chanting or Reading
3. Meditation Techniques
4. Practice of Stillness
5. Practice of Devotion
Some devotees start with a prayer; practice techniques and then devotion. After meditation techniques, we should sit in stillness. In the stillness you get absorbed and feel the presence of God and Gurus.
Don't skip stillness!
Key to Deeper Meditation REGULARITY and STILLNESS
What did you do in your meditation?
Devotee said, "I was communing with God".
What did you tell God?
"I didn't tell anything to God, I was listening"
Then, what did God tell you?
"He did not tell anything either,
He was also listening"
During communion where neither God nor devotee needs to talk.
I am communing with my Higher Self. It is not talking – that can happen only in stillness. That is why the techniques are to be treated as vehicles when we start meditating. We are aware we are joyful, that is stillness.
If you have 60 minutes of meditation,
the last 15 minutes must be for
Plan each meditation. (Do not immediately start Om and Kriya.)
If you practice Hong Sau for 10 mins, enjoy the stillness for 2-5 mins.
Practice 2-5 mins of stillness
It is not difficult for me to sit for meditation, but it is difficult for me to get up from meditation.
How to Achieve that State of Stillness?
How to achieve that state of stillness?
Paramahansa Yogananda said, “When the activating power of the mind is stilled by concentration, restlessness ceases and we become absorbed in the transcendental Bliss of the soul.”
Brother Anandamoy once told Brother Ishtananda that there are two concepts of what concentration means. On a sheet of paper he drew a circle to represent the subject of concentration and inside the circle he drew many dots and dashes, which represented all the different thoughts about that subject. This is the common understanding of “concentration” in the West. Then he drew another circle and poked one tiny dot in the center of it. “That,” Brother told him, “is yogic concentration.”
It is one-pointed focus on the object of concentration, holding the mind steady and absorbed in one object only. The yogi holds the mind still on an object, absorbing the essence of the object of concentration. Paramahansa Yogananda said that meditation is concentration used to know God. We have to be able to achieve this one-pointed concentration to truly meditate.
Don’t be discouraged – it’s not always so simple to achieve this state. In the Gita, Arjuna laments, “Verily, the mind is unsteady, tumultuous, powerful, obstinate! O Krishna, I consider the mind as difficult to master as the wind!” (Chapter VI, verse 34) And Krishna answered Arjuna thus: “Undoubtedly the mind is fickle and unruly; but by yoga practice and by dispassion, the mind may nevertheless be controlled.” (verse 35)
Paramahansa Yogananda said, “In the devotee’s silence God’s silence ceases.” (The Second Coming, p. 495)
Perfect Stillness of Body and Mind
(Discourse 61, The Second Coming of Christ by Paramahansa Yogananda)
As a first step toward entering the kingdom of God, the devotee should sit still in the correct meditation posture, with erect spine, and tense and relax the body—for by relaxation the consciousness is released from the muscles. The yogi begins with proper deep breathing, inhaling and tensing the whole body, exhaling and relaxing, several times. With each exhalation all muscular tension and motion should be cast away, until a state of bodily stillness is attained. Then, by concentration techniques, restless motion is removed from the mind.
In perfect stillness of body and mind, the yogi enjoys the ineffable peace of the presence of the soul.
In the body, life is templed; in the mind, light is templed; in the soul, peace is templed. The deeper one goes into the soul the more that peace is felt; that is superconsciousness. When by deeper meditation the devotee expands that awareness of peace and feels his consciousness spreading with it over the universe, that all beings and all creation are swallowed up in that peace, then he is entering into Cosmic Consciousness. He feels that peace everywhere—in the flowers, in every human being, in the atmosphere. He beholds the earth and all worlds floating like bubbles in that ocean of peace.
The inner peace first experienced by the devotee in meditation is his own soul; the vaster peace he feels by going deeper is God. The devotee who experiences unity with everything has established God in the temple of his infinite inner perception.
In the temple of silence, in the temple of peace,
I will meet Thee, I will touch Thee, I will love Thee,
And coax Thee to my altar of peace.
In the temple of samadhi, in the temple of bliss,
I will meet Thee, I will touch Thee, I will love Thee,
And coax Thee to my altar of bliss.
— Cosmic Chants
When restless thoughts have been banished, automatically the mind is made into a sacred temple of peace. God intimates Himself in the temple of silence and then in the temple of peace. The devotee first meets Him as peace flowing out of the mental state in which all thoughts have become transformed into pure intuitive feeling. He touches the Lord with his heart's love and feels Him as joy; his pure love entices God to manifest Himself on the altar of the perception of peace. The advancing devotee feels God not only in meditation, but keeps Him always on the altar of peace in his heart.
In the temple of samadhi, oneness with the peace that is God's first manifestation in meditation, the devotee finds a state of ever new bliss, a joy that never grows stale. Bliss is a much deeper state than peace. As a mute person drinking nectar imbibes but cannot describe the ambrosial flavor, so the rapture of bliss found in the temple of samadhi moves the experiencer to wordless eloquence. That joy alone can satisfy the innate craving of the human heart. In patient, persistent meditation, day after day, year after year, the devotee lovingly demands of his Lord: "Come to me as joy in samadhi-oneness, and remain forever in my heart on the altar of bliss!" When in our hearts, in harmony with the hearts of all who love God in the interior temple of silence and bliss, we rejoice in the joy of our one Beloved, that united joy is a vast altar of God.
It is incumbent on man as a soul to practice that inner silence; to find God now. In the use of the senses amid the exigencies of daily life, the devotee holds to the consciousness: "I am sitting on the peace throne of inner silence." In the midst of activity, he remains inwardly recollected: "I am the god of silence sitting on the throne of each action." His equanimity is upset by no unruly feelings: "I am the prince of silence sitting on the throne of poise." His inner Self, at one with eternity, in life and in death rejoices: "I am the king of immortality reigning on the throne of silence. Destruction of the body, delusion's insults to the soul, impositions of restlessness, trials of life—these are but dramas I am acting in and watching as divine entertainment. I may play for a little while; but always, from the inner refuge of my silence, I behold the unfolding script of life with the calm Joy of immortality." If through practice of meditation one keeps knocking on the doors of silence. God will respond: "Come in. I whispered to you through all guises of nature; and now I say to you, I am Joy—the living Fountain of Joy. Bathe in My waters—wash away your habits, cleanse yourself of fears. I dreamed a beautiful dream for you; but. My child, you made of it a nightmare." God wants His children to be no longer prodigal sons, but to play their roles in life as immortals, that when they leave the stage of this earth they can say, "Father, that was a nice entertainment, but now I am ready to come Home." (p.1184-1186)
is the altar of Spirit.
There is no limit of the deepening of stillness.
— Sri Daya Mata
by Brother Bhaktananda (excerpts from Love Makes Us One With God)
Most important is in the inner stillness of meditation, in the seclusion of the heart and soul. Master often told us,
"After you practice the techniques,
sit a long time in the stillness."
Stillness means just being absorbed in feeling God's presence at the spiritual eye.
No thinking !
No chanting !
No praying !
It is in that stillness that we really have communion with God, as peace, joy, and love.
As the Bible says,
"Be still, and know that I am God."
Of course, as you try to remain in the stillness, thoughts will come in and bother you; but you must brush them aside and maintain perfect inner quiet as long as you can. But as it becomes more difficult to control restless thoughts, that is the time, Master told us, to practice devotion. That is the time to make love to God: Tell Him how much you love Him, how much you want Him, how much you are seeking Him. Pour out your heart to Him, Master said, just as you would to a friend, or to your mother, or other loved one.
Repeating a short devotional thought is sometimes easier than just talking to God:
"I love Thee, Lord; I love Thee, Lord"; or,
"Thou and I are one"; or,
"God, Christ, Gurus"; or,
"Fill me with Thy love."
Repeat the thought over and over again, deepening your concentration and love with each repetition. It can be your own thought, or one from Master's writings, whatever deepens your feeling for God. That is how to end your meditation—with devotion.
"You need not go to heaven to see God;
nor need you speak loud, as if God were far away;
nor need you cry for wings like a dove to fly to Him.
Only be in silence, and you will come upon God within yourself."
—Saint Teresa of Avila
Stillness is the First Proof of God's Presence
by Sri Daya Mata
As Guruji used to tell us, peace is the first proof of God's presence. When we were with Master, he taught us to work toward this state of inner stillness by practicing, with ever-increasing attention, Self-Realization meditation techniques. And he often used this illustration: After one milks a cow, filling the pail to the brim, if he then carries it carelessly, spilling all the contents on the way to the house, there was no point in collecting the milk, because it has all been wasted. The same is true about meditation: After achieving stillness within, it is important to very carefully, watchfully carry that pail of peace with us throughout the entire day, drinking deeply from it, so that we can benefit from what we achieved in meditation.
God put us here on earth in the midst of endless trials, heartaches, and burdens; with very few joys, and with pleasures that are so short-lasting. This is a world of delusion He has created. But He also gave us a means of escape, a way to remember that we are individualized reflections of His Being. That means of escape lies in the stillness which all of us have within us, but which very few know anything about.
(from Harmonizing Spirituality with Outer Achievements)
Durga Mata Experiencing the Divine Presence
Durga Mata and other disciples were privileged to accompany the Guru on occasional outings to wilderness areas for chanting and deep meditation. She often described one such occasion when meeting with devotees for chanting and meditation:
I remember once when Master went to Palm Canyon, in the desert near Palm Springs, with a group of devotees. We went down into that canyon and meditated; and Master went into a very deep samadhi.
I wasn't near him; I was meditating on a rock alone. After some time, he called us all together to return to the housecar. As he walked along the path through the canyon, I was close behind him. Suddenly I felt a tremendous stillness emanating from him. It wasn't from within me; it was coming from him. I was close enough to be in the aura of his vibrations. Immediately it lifted me into a state of deep, transcendent stillness.
I continued walking, and was conscious of everything around me—seeing the stones in the path that I had to step over—and yet I wasn't feeling my body at all. There was only this feeling of omnipresent stillness; I was not conscious that I was in the body at all. Then Master turned around to me and said: "Pick up some wood." We had to make a fire. I got my load of wood and walked with my load of wood—but didn't lose one single bit of that bliss-filled stillness. My mind was calm and still—there was no ripple of restlessness or thought, and yet I could see and feel everything. When we reached the housecar, I put down the wood I was carrying, and then he turned to me and said:
"Stillness is God."