Yoga and meditation are synonymous. They are not two different things. Its not like I’ll go do some yoga then I’ll do some meditation. It is how it has become known here in the western world and in much of India because of the influence of western culture.
If I was to say to you the word ‘yoga’ and you bring an image into your mind of someone doing yoga. What would it be? Would it be someone doing some kind of balance pose or something similar to that? Or maybe standing on their head? If you do a Google search for yoga and you go to images, 99.99% of the images will be of someone doing some kind of physical pose.
If you think of meditation, usually the person has their eyes closed and they are seated. Eyes closed is part of meditation right?
If we actually understand what the definition of meditation is and what the definition of yoga is, or should I say what the perfect of yoga is. Yoga asana is part of the whole yoga system. It is known as hatha yoga, but those physical postures are not the perfection of yoga. Learning to do a perfect, balanced headstand is not that you have perfected yoga.
What is the ultimate goal and ultimate perfection of yoga? The end goal and purpose of yoga and meditation are exactly the same. There is a quote from Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita 7.1:
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna said: now hear O Arjuna how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with your mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.”
This is the perfection of yoga to be in full consciousness of the Supreme Soul. The word yoga means connection, union, or to link. In fact, the word yoga also means relationship. We are spirit soul temporarily walking around in these varieties of funny looking bits of meat. Are you aware that this carcass is not you? When we the atma leave the body behind, it is actually just a carcass. If you ever walk into a room where your loved one has died 5 or 6 days ago, you experience immediately how this is not attractive. Previously it was someone who you thought was very pretty, handsome or cute or whatever it may have been. A few hours after the jiva atma has left, it is no longer cute. Is that understandable? It is something you want to get away from. This is because the living being who you were trying to love has left.
To love and to be loved is the nature of each of us. The essence of our very being is love. Not just love as some kind of vague sentiment but the experience of loving and being loved. Love is an experience, it is a relationship. Love is more than a feeling, a sentiment, which comes and goes.
The false, materialistic idea of what love is that it is certain hormones pumping through the brain. That’s what they think love is, chemistry. This is not true. It is inseparable of each one of us – the eternal atma who is part and parcel of the Supreme Soul.
Our whole journey through life is actually a journey to find love. That is the goal of life to find perfect unconditional love. From when we are first born until the day we leave this body behind, every single moment of every single day there is a longing for a loving relationship. There are various kinds of loving relationship – friend, significant other, parents, children. There’s all different types of loving relationships which we are desiring and all have to varying degrees. That is springing from you, the atma, the part and parcel of the Supreme Soul. It has nothing to do with what kind of body you are in – male, female, Chinese, American, young, old. It is directly connected to me the atma who is in this body.
This is the first thing to understand that we are the atma. The basic principle of the living entity is that we have a propensity to love. The question is where is that perfect love to be found? Our whole life is a search to answer that question and satisfy that desire. It is natural to love, it is not unnatural. It is part of me.
There is a great saintly person, Rupa Goswami. He was a disciple of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and comes in our disciplic line about 500 years ago in India and he wrote many amazing spiritual texts. One of which is most amazing is the Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu. This translates to the Nectar of Devotion. I would like to read something from this:
“My dear Lord, as a young man awakens his attachment immediately upon seeing a young girl or as a young girl becomes attracted as soon as she sees a young boy, let me become attached to You.”
This kind of attachment is natural and if you notice none of us had to go to university to study how to be become attracted to someone else. Simply by seeing a young girl, a young boy thinks she’s nice, she’s pretty, she’s cute. And the opposite happens as well. It is naturally there within us to be become attracted to someone.
Rupa Goswami is praying to Krishna in that same natural way, please let my love for You awaken in such a natural, spontaneous way. That when I think of You, when I see You, when I chant Your Holy Name, let me also become spontaneously and naturally attracted to You.
As it is natural for the water to flow from the top of a mountain down to the sea, similarly when our love is awakened for the Supreme, it will naturally flow to Krishna. And if you notice this example of a river is a very good one because the water is naturally seeking to go down to the ocean. Sometimes it may come across a mountain or rocks or a whole bunch of trees, or something like that. But what does the river do? Does it just stop there? It finds some way around the obstacle to keep going and continue down to the ocean. Not matter what it is.
This love that is there within us, the perfect person for that love to flow naturally to is Krishna. When we say Krishna, we mean the Supreme Soul or the Original Cause. The name Krishna means the All Beautiful. This is why we like to chant the maha-mantra and this name Krishna so much because this name for the Supreme actually is the most beautiful name. There is no more beautiful name than Krishna. This name Krishna refers to all of the beauty, unlimited beauty and most beautiful thing that is love. It attracts everyone.
Spiritual life, yoga, meditation means to uncover that river of love, which is already sitting there within your heart. Krishna is the all-love. We will find the all-love that we are looking for in these transcendental names of the Supreme Soul.
In another amazing spiritual text, the Chaitanya Charitamrita, this is said by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:
“Pure love for Krishna is eternally established in the hearts of all living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When one purifies his heart by hearing and chanting about Krishna, that pure love naturally awakens.”
This is the whole of this practice of kirtan. This is the ultimate goal and perfection of meditation, of yoga, and of kirtan. This is the end result.
Regularly we will have people come up afterwards saying “thank you, that was just such a nice evening, but why did I start crying when I was doing the chanting?” There is a reason. We have been wandering through this world for so long. Literally, we cannot trace back how long we have been wandering through this material world. We have forgotten not only who we are, we have forgotten the Supreme Friend. We have forgotten Krishna. We may not know it, but we are looking for Krishna. Everywhere we go, everything we do, every activity we engage in, every bar of chocolate that we buy, we may not know it, but it is Krishna we are looking for.
Coming to hear Krishna’s names again is like a wayfarer who has been lost for years upon years and finally stumbles upon their home. This is why sometimes we feel when we hear these beautiful names that it touches us deep within the very core of our being. Because we are part of Krishna, we need Krishna. We need the Supreme Lovable, All-Love and Krishna is to be found in these beautiful names.
Let us always chant these beautiful names of Krishna. Let us never forget these names of Krishna. Whether we are going through tough times in our life, which we all do and we all will, or whether things are going relatively okay for a short time, let us always remember these beautiful names of Krishna. We can always feel at home, at peace and that love will continue to flow.