Conceptualising an object is possible only with the help of our mind. Krishna Himself says (Bhagavad Gita VI.34) that “mind is very unsteady, turbulent, tenacious and powerful therefore I consider it as difficult to control as the wind.” As long we are associated with desires, it is not possible to master the mind. It is incorrect to say that in a secluded place, mind can be controlled. As long as thoughts are associated with the mind, no effective control can be exercised over the mind, irrespective of the surroundings. The best way to control the mind is to get away from the desires, but desire is our habituation and to get away from it is a tumultuous job. Mind cannot remain without thoughts. Even in the thoughtless stage of mind, it remains connected to the highest level of consciousness, in the form of light. But if the mind is trained to concentrate on an object, it forgets other afflictions it receives through sensory organs. To process a thought, sensory organs provide the necessary stimulations to the mind. Perception is not possible without an object as otherwise the mind would start wandering towards the stimulations received from the sensory organs. An effective process of meditation withdraws the mind from sensory stimulations. But at the same time, the mind cannot be made functionless. It needs to be active for its effective functioning. Stilling the mind will be discussed much later in this series. Instead of making the mind to focus on diverse objects, we can train the mind to focus and concentrate on a single object. Concentrating and focusing the mind on a single object is known as meditation.
Logical conclusion to meditation is to realise the formless form of the Divine and stay connected with it. But, this cannot be the beginning of meditation, as the mind needs to be trained and tuned gradually to focus on a formless form. All along, the mind was associated with forms and the transformation to the formless form cannot happen that easily. It is therefore important that the training for meditation be commenced with a conceptualised object. The initial stage of spirituality is associated with rituals. Rituals are surely a necessity to lay a strong foundation for spirituality. Rituals culminate in mantra recitation, popularly known as ‘mantra japa’. During rituals both the body and the mind are active. But in the mantra japa, body is rested and only the mind is active by repeating the mantra for a prescribed number of times. In the initial stages of mantra japa one uses rosary beads, when concentration is more on the beads than on the mantra. At one stage, the mind tells us that the beads are not necessary and we dispense with the rosary beads and start reciting the mantra without counting, concentrating more on the mantra. The effectiveness of the mantra begins only at this point and till now it was only a training period for the mind to get itself familiarized with the mantra. After sometime, mind questions the necessity of the mantra as the mind finds it difficult to concentrate on the mantra as it now becomes engrossed in conceptualising the form associated with the mantra. For every mantra, there is a dhyan verse that describes the form of the deity for whom the mantra is recited. This dhyan verse is very important in visualising the deity. For example, the dhyan verse says that the deity has four arms, Her complexion is crimson, She is sitting on a lotus flower, etc. The purpose of the dhyan verse is to help the practitioner to visualize the deity in the manner described in dhyan verse. Life is infused to this form with the power of mantra. This deity becomes the object of meditation. It is only the ability of the mind that visualises the concerned deity, as the mind does not have previous experience of the deity, as no such form exists in flesh and blood. Now we have to train our mind to concentrate and focus on this conceptualised object. While pursuing the path of spirituality with sincerity and dedication, substantial progress is automatically achieved. If one does not feel the progress, it is a clear indication that he is not following the right path. The progress is to happen from the corporeal plane to the mental plane, where mind takes over from the body.