You may have heard that the best way to overcome a bad habit is simply to replace it with a better one. That works spiritually as well, in that we can learn to replace ego identification with awareness of our Self as Soul. To do that effectively, however, ones needs experiential proof of our spiritual reality, lest otherwise it be mere wishful thinking or mental affirmation.
One of the most effective ways to tune in and experience our Self is through meditation. In meditation, we discard the outer stimulus of the world and the bad habit of identification with matter and our earth bound form. Instead, we replace it with experiences of our True Self, thus establishing the good habit of identification with our spiritual nature.
Mind you, it’s not that having an earthly form is bad. The human body is the sanctuary and home of our soul during it’s sojourn in the physical world. In that sense, the body is a sacred and wonderful gift. No, it’s not the body that’s the problem, it’s our false identification with the body and our forgetfulness of the Self that resides within.
Did you ever hear about St. Francis of Assisi calling his body Brother Donkey? He understood. His body was simply a vehicle to transfer his soul from hither and yon, and to provide it earthly experiences that were not available on Spirit side.
For a moment let’s discuss the difference between concentration and meditation. Yogananda has said that concentration is one pointed attention on anything, and he described meditation as concentration on an aspect of Spirit. Additionally, in Patanjali’s eight fold path, we see that there are various levels of concentration, from simple attention to complete absorption.
One of the most powerful forms of meditation is simply to meditate on the breath, or the use of mantra. I might add, too, that concentrating on Infinity is very helpful. One way to do that is to meditate with eyes open on the horizon, or a starry night, or a vast distance.
Yogananda has also stated that there are eight aspects of Spirit that can be experienced and meditated upon. These are Light, Sound, Peace, Calmness, Love, Joy, Wisdom and Power. In another blog, I’ll offer specific meditation techniques to find attunement to each of these eight aspects.
Below you’ll find Yogananda’s thoughts on the eight aspects of God, as recorded by Swami Kriyananda and published in The Essence of Self-Realization.
“There are eight aspects in which God can be experienced: as Light, Sound, Peace, Calmness, Love, Joy, Wisdom, and Power.
“To experience Him as Light during meditation brings calmness to the mind, purifying it and giving it clarity. The more deeply one contemplates the inner light, the more one perceives all things as made of that light.
“To experience God as Sound is to commune with the Holy Ghost, or Aum, the Cosmic Vibration. When you are immersed in Aum, nothing can touch you. Aum raises the mind above the delusions of human existence, into the pure skies of divine consciousness.
“Peace is an early meditative experience. Peace, like a weightless waterfall, cleanses the mind of all anxiety and care, bestowing heavenly relief.
“Calmness is another divine experience. This aspect of God is more dynamic and more powerful than that of Peace. Calmness gives the devotee power to overcome all the obstacles in his life. Even in human affairs, the person who can remain calm under all circumstances is invincible.
“Love is another aspect of God—not personal love, but Love in nite. Those who live in ego-consciousness think of impersonal love as cold and abstract. But divine love is all-absorbing, and in nitely comforting. It is impersonal only in the sense that it is utterly untainted by sel sh desire. The unity one nds in divine love is possible only to the soul. It cannot be experienced by the ego.
“Joy is another aspect of God. Divine joy is like millions of earthly joys crushed into one. The quest for human happiness is like looking around for a candle while sitting out of doors in the sun. Divine joy surrounds us eternally, yet people look to mere things for their happiness. Mostly, all they nd is relief from emotional or physical pain. But divine joy is the blazing Reality. Before it, earthly joys are but shadows.
“Wisdom is intuitive insight, not intellectual understanding. The difference between human and divine wisdom is that the human mind comes at things indirectly, from without. The scientist, for example, investigates the atom objectively. But the yogi becomes the atom. Divine perception is always from within. From within alone can a thing be understood in its true essence.
“Power, finally, is that aspect of God which creates and runs the universe. Imagine what power it took to bring the galaxies into existence! Masters manifest some of that power in their lives. The expression, ‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,’ describes only one side of Jesus’ nature. The other side was revealed in the power with which he drove the moneychangers from the temple. Just think what magnetism it took to combat single-handedly all those men, entrenched as they were in habits and desires that had been sanctioned by ancient custom!
“People are often appalled by the power they see expressed in the lives of saints. But remember, you will never nd God until you are very strong in yourself. Power may exercise less appeal on your mind than other aspects of God, but it is important to realize that divine power, too, is a part of your divine nature.
“Whatever aspect of God you experience in meditation, never keep it contained in the little chalice of your consciousness, but try always to expand that experience to infinity.”