The Essence of Meditation

Essence of Meditation

(Originally published in aspIRe Magazine Issue 16)

Why should meditation be part of our lives?

Each of us is a sponge of sensory enjoyment. Our common thoughts are centred on the animal propensities of eating, sleeping, mating and defense. But, what makes us fundamentally different from animals is a fifth faculty: intelligence.

We have the ability to ask questions about the truth of our existence. We ask questions like “Who am I?”, “What is my purpose in life?”, “Why am I suffering?” and “How can I get out of this suffering?”. This intelligence is what enables us to meditate – to contemplate on the needs of the soul. The soul is perfect by nature but we all live in a temporary body that is basically flawed and so we tend to look for perfection. And, we can achieve perfection through the practice of meditation.

Meditation is synonymous with prayer. It connects the soul to the spiritual world, the realm of the Supreme Person. Through this disciplined practice, we get to the point where we constantly think of the Supreme Person. We find ourselves perpetually immersed in that frame of consciousness.

Mantra comes from the Sanskrit word Mana (mind) and the suffix -tra (instrument of thought). Mantras are spiritual sound vibrations. The basic meditation mantra Omkara (ॐ) is the sound representation of the Supreme Person. It is transcendental. It liberates mankind and all living entities from material sound vibrations. It purifies the soul of sinful, karmic activities that bind the soul in the repeated cycle of birth, disease, old age and death.

Meditation is also a process to develop real love – love for the Supreme Person that translates into love for humanity and all living beings. Love is the very essence of the soul, just like the wetness of water and the heat of fire. Love is inseparable from the soul. When love comes in contact with the modes of nature – ignorance, passion and goodness, it turns into lust. It becomes contaminated with worldly desires. It becomes the perversion of love. Material gratification does not satisfy love. When the soul is hungry and thirsty, we feed it by going inside ourselves and meditating.

The side benefit of meditation is to experience peace and tranquillity and to achieve the states of Atmarama (self-satisfaction) and Dhira (being sober). Being sober means not easily intoxicated or agitated. When we are spiritually sober, we are able to control the demands of our mind and the urges of our tongue, belly and genitals. It’s only when we’re sober that we become truly happy.

Meditation cleanses our hearts and makes us see the absolute truth more clearly. The ultimate goal of meditation is self-realisation. It means understanding that ‘I am a spirit soul in essence and I’m an eternal servant of the Supreme Person. I am not God. My eternal dharma (duty) is loving, devotional service to the Supreme Person.”


Many of you have seen me carry around my Japa beads. Over the years, I have received numerous curious questions that I have only been very happy to answer. To those of you who have been asking me questions on the process of meditation, I have created a page on SoundCloud where I have uploaded some recordings of myself chanting mantras and bhajans. In the near future, I plan to also upload new tracks of my family and friends chanting. Thank you for letting me share with you what I’ve learnt from my Guru during my early life in the Ashram. I hope you all enjoy and take these Holy Names with you and chant always… Haribol! 


READ ALSOTaking Care of the Material Body and the Person Inside

Happy International Day of Yoga!



Namaste! Happy International Day of Yoga!

Yoga today is practiced by more than 2.4 billion people and everyone in the world has heard of the word ‘Yoga’ one way or another. Yoga means ‘to unite’ or ‘to reconnect with our true self and the Supreme Self’. Yoga is the goal of every living soul whether they realise it or not, because everyone seeks union, immortality, peace, love and freedom from pain and suffering, all of which can only be attained through the practice of Yoga.

In yoga, one begins to understand the difference between two distinct energies, matter and spirit. The real self separate from the physical body.

Again, Happy Yoga Day, and may all of you find your Yoga.


June 21 was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly on 11 December 2014. (Wikipedia)

Yoga: More Than Just an Hour at the Gym

I am heartened and happy to see that the practice of Yoga has seemingly spread throughout the world. Yoga, in its many forms, is something that I have practiced every day for many, many years, and to know that this quest for enlightenment is being shared by millions of people around the world is a reassuring thought to me.

But I also worry that people don’t realise that going to the gym and ‘doing Yoga’ is not what it’s all about. I find it amusing when people say, “Oh, I’ve just come from yoga.” I think to myself if they realise that what they’re really stating is that they’ve just come from a union with The Supreme Person.

Yoga is almost ageless in its origins. It is a quest for enlightenment and ultimately it is the quest for union with The Supreme Person. Without this quest and purpose, Yoga is no longer Yoga, but rather an exercise routine. Since its introduction to the modern, mainstream world, Yoga has been associated more with ‘Yoga mats’, gymnastic exercise and the fitness of body, more than it has been associated with its true purpose. What many have not realised is that Yoga does not start and end with specific movements of the body and a peacefulness of the mind – that is Hatha Yoga, made up of asanas, or poses. Yoga certainly does include these aspects, but its purpose – as opposed to its action – is much harder to achieve and practice, yet it is the core definition of Yoga.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means ‘union with The Supreme Person’. The closest English word to Yoga is ‘yoke’, such as when you ‘yoke’ two animals together. When you yoke them, you are uniting them. The very nature of that union is not merging, but two distinct entities uniting together as one. Yoga follows this same meaning; it is when two individuals – the practitioner and The Supreme Person – come together in love and in purpose. So, the real meaning of Yoga is union with The Supreme Person, and the very nature of that union refers to a loving devotion and service, called bhakti. This is why true Yogis (those who study Yoga) and true Yoga masters understand that Yoga is a means to an end, but the end as well – it is achieving union with The Supreme Person through the practice of devotion and union with that Supreme Person; through bhakti.

It may come as a surprise to some to know that Yoga can be performed without a defined choreography of physical movement; many forms of Yoga are actually quite far removed from the common association of yoga mats, stretching and breathing that today is commercially synonymous with the modern concept of Yoga (Hatha Yoga). Just one example of this is Jnana Yoga. Jnana in Sanskrit means ‘the path of knowledge’. It is the system of understanding The Supreme Person through the research of scriptures, the understanding of knowledge and the process of learning. The purpose is the same as with any other form of Yoga: to unite with The Supreme Person. However, the way in which this is done is through acquiring knowledge, as opposed to the more commercial notion of Yoga and Yoga mats.

The true beauty of Yoga is that it doesn’t matter if a practitioner realises the depth of meaning, purpose, or desired destination of practicing Yoga. Regardless of whether people realise it or not, even if they are just going to a few Yoga classes a week in an effort to be more ‘fit and healthy’, they won’t be able to help but to start realising that they have to practice mercy, that they have to be clean with their body, mind and soul. They will often drift towards vegetarianism. If they practice even the elementary levels of Yoga properly, it is leading them to the quest of a union with The Supreme Person.

So, even when people are exposed to the preliminary, commercial Yoga, they will reap the benefits. But they should not think, “This is all there is to Yoga”. Just like an ocean, Yoga is almost limitless and it can be almost impossible to understand its depth. But just as we can have a good idea of the ocean and what it is by analysing a drop of it, so too can we peak into the ‘bigger picture’ of Yoga by practicing even the basics.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group