The Seven Elements of Sadhana (Spiritual Practice, Meditation Practice), by Swami Vyasanand Baba

Swami Vyasanand Conducting a Satsang

1. Worthiness of a Seeker: “A serious seeker has to prepare a fertile ground within his or her inner Self. The prerogative of God-realization and attainment of the vision of the Divine only belongs to the atman (inner Self) or consciousness within the body. However, it is not possible to accomplish this while engrossed in the distractions of the mind and the body. It is only possible by freeing us of these distractions while living in the body. To liberate us from the sensory distractions is not an easy task. However, it can be achieved with the grace of the Satguru (true teacher). For this, a practitioner must be determined, morally upright, and follow the instruction of the guru. Without these, it is impossible to obtain the grace of the guru. The practitioner can only diligently perform sadhana (literally, exertion to attain an objective, meditation, spiritual practice), but only the grace of the guru yields success in the endeavor.”

2. The Mantra of an Accomplished Teacher: “Just as high quality seed is the second requirement of success in agriculture, similarly, acquiring a mantra (sacred syllable, sound, word, or phrase that is given my the guru during initiation) from an accomplished teacher is an important component to prepare the practitioner for progress on the spiritual path…

“According to the Saints: ‘Until you receive the auspicious mantra from a propitious Sadguru, you cannot change your life and remove all forms of inauspicious providence.’ Until you receive spiritual teaching from a Sadguru, you will not be able to escape the grip of inauspicious luck and will not attain contentment and peace. Therefore, you should carefully choose a Sadguru and commit yourself to his service. Through learning a path or method for God-realization, following moral conduct and performing sadhana, you should make this human birth fruitful and auspicious. Maharshi Mehi says: ‘Leave all hubris and desire and obtain the mantra from a Sadguru and make progress within — this is the instruction of an accomplished guru’.

3. Without Essential Information No Meditation (Necessary Knowledge Prior to Meditation Practice): “Among the seven requirements for successful farming, the third one is the proper knowledge of farming techniques. Similarly, among the seven phases of meditation practice, the third is: accurate understanding of principles relating to the path of meditation. Just as a farmer who does not have adequate knowledge of all the tools and techniques relating to farming will be at a disadvantage in the success of his agriculture, so also, a practitioner who does not have proper understanding of the principles and practices concerning meditation will have difficulty realizing all the desired benefits. Therefore, a practitioner should seek to understand the essentials and fundamentals before treading the path of meditation.”

“Deep attachment will leave a practitioner incapable of focusing or concentrating during meditation. Can a person deafened by his or her ego hear the inner celestial sounds? How will one who is always looking to be honored be able to honor others? The one who is looking for honor and titles and respect cannot accomplish samadhi. Can one who performs wrongful acts be able to concentrate on the pure image of the Divine? Can one who desires sensory pleasures yearn for God’s love? Can someone who holds animosity for others be able to tread the pure path leading to inner Divine experience? If we are caught in the above traps it will not be possible to have genuine divine experiences. Success comes from perseverance, and to those who are able to avoid the above-mentioned obstacles. Therefore, know the particulars of the inner path from an accomplished guru and then begin the path of meditation, otherwise your efforts will be wasted.”

4. Resolute Practice: “The fourth among the seven requirements of successful farming is ‘hard work.’ It is on the basis that a farmer can achieve success even on barren land and reap the benefits of making land fertile. However, in the absence of hard work even fertile land will not yield the desired crops. A lazy farmer suffers poverty due to the resultant lack of prosperity. In a similar manner, of the seven elements of meditation practice, the fourth requirement is hard work. Without this a practitioner cannot continue for even a single step on the path of meditation. On the path of meditation ardent practice holds the key to success.”

A. Japa: Recitation of Mantra (Sacred name given by the Guru);

B. Manas Dhyana (Mental Focus on the Form of the Deity);

C. Drishti Yoga (The Yoga of Inner Seeing — Inner Light Meditation); and,

D. The Yoga of Sound (Inner Sound Meditation):

“The Formless pervades the form. The realm of light is the manifestation of the form of the macro-cosmos (brahmanda). And the Sound is the Formless macrocosm. The practitioner who becomes accomplished in the light realms begins to experience Divine Sound along with various Divine light experiences. However, after the center of Trikuti (the center of Brahma Jyoti) the light form becomes absorbed in the Sound (that is formless) since the form arises out of Formless. According to the natural law anything that is created must return to its source and be dissolved therein.”

5. Bhakti: Devotion and Love for God: Among the seven essential steps for successful farming, the fifth is complete dedication to the task. Similarly, for the inner journey to attain the Divine, the fifth step is whole-hearted devotion (Bhakti) and commitment to the practice… Sant Kabir says: ‘Without devotion one cannot reach the abode of the (Divine), which is difficult to attain.’”

“Love is that meditation or method that makes the impossible possible. That which is harsh becomes gentle; the enemy becomes friend; the weak become strong; the concealed becomes revealed. Even though it is said that it takes many lifetimes to realize the Divine, if a devotee performs sadhana with true, unwavering devotion, then the Divine will manifest at that moment.”

6. The Merits of Past Lives: “…The sixth essential element for success on the path of meditation is acquired good karmas and merits… Without enough resources, and in spite of having all other agricultural means, a farmer is unable to have a successful crop. Similarly, though having met all other basic requirements to tread the path of meditation, a practitioner without favorable past karmas will not have the desired success on the spiritual path. If we continue to create good karmas, then the course of our life will shift and will lead to spiritual progress. Individuals, even if they do not believe in reincarnation or the karmas of past lives — if they carefully tread their path in this life and devote themselves to performing good actions — their deeds will become a source of future progress, and help them move forward on the inward journey of the soul.”

7. The Will of God: Divine Grace: “No matter how much humans may desire, without the Divine Will (Mauj), the goal is not achieved. Despite one’s worthiness, association with an accomplished guru, knowledge of the path, resolute (meditation) practice, devotion, favorable accumulated karmas, a devotee cannot succeed without the Will of God.”

“To surrender ourselves and live according to the Will of God is not an easy task. Such a mindset is realized in the final stages of meditation practice. This is the climax of meditation. We will have to accomplish the other six stages of sadhana first in order to completely surrender ourselves to the Divine Will. The result: one day, the seventh component of the inner journey of the soul will be realized. To sum up: if a practitioner does not practice these seven stages of the inward journey, then he will not be able to see even the initial signs of the Divine. Therefore, practitioners should follow the seven elements of sadhana as elaborated above according to their individual capacity.”

— Swami Vyasanand, The Inward Journey of the Soul

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