Q: I have practiced meditation for many years. But, I feel I only achieve a very little progress. I have tried several methods of meditation, but since it seemed to produce no progress, I soon got dissatisfied and changed from one method to another. Is it a must to have a personal guru who can provide me initiation? Can one do meditation without guru but just practice through the guidance of books?
Certainly a person can learn and practice meditation without a “guru” in the present-day sense, though it is good to have the advice of a person with experience in meditation. Nevertheless, the way can be learned even from the written word. It is practice that matters.
It is first necessary to understand what indicates progress in meditation. Because yoga is being peddled like a kind of drugless drug, its salesmen want people to think that visions, revelations, and “kundalini experiences” are the purpose of yoga practice. But as Paramhansa Yogananda said: “The path to the Divine is not a circus.” Progress in meditation manifests as both the deepening and expansion of consciousness, as well as the purification and correction of the mind. Real meditation is basically the cultivation of spirit-consciousness, the knowledge of our true Self.
Without devoting a great deal of time to meditation very little benefit can be obtained. Nor can anything be attained if the practice is not exactly correct.
Furthermore, unless a person observes purity in thought, action, and diet, nothing can be attained in any practice.
The Yoga Life is absolutely necessary for success in yoga. If you have not already done so, I urge you to carefully read How To Be A Yogi, paying special attention to chapter three: The Foundations of Yoga.
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