The divine force within you is very active, but you are sleeping; you are not aware of that truth. Meditation makes you aware of all the forces, and then you must understand the purpose of life and make a choice. You know, when a newcomer arrives at our monastery, we give him six months to see whether or not he can stand the teachings. There are glaciers floating in the river, and the teacher tells the student to go for a swim. The student says, “Sir, it is very cold!” “Doesn’t matter,” replies the teacher.
If the student is determined, he plunges into the icy water. It is not harmful because the teacher says it isn’t. When he gets out, they immediately wrap him in a blanket. This is very healthy, but the student is frozen and thinks he doesn’t want to go back to the monastery. At other times, the teacher will dip a sheet into the icy water and wrap it around the student. This is a test. In 10 minutes the sheet must be dry. This is a simple thing, generating heat from within. You can see this when you practice bhastrika (bellows breathing) with breath retention. Some students will ask to go out from the ashram for a little while, but the teacher knows this means they are planning to leave forever.
You should do meditation systematically, without expecting to see dramatic results overnight. Most students are too impatient. In meditation, the first qualification is not a university degree or swamihood; the first requisite is simply patience. It’s like waiting on the bank of a river, gazing toward the waves which are going toward the ocean. You are standing on the bank of the stream of life, just standing there watching, not identifying yourself with the stream. Learn to watch the process going on within you. If a thought, emotion, or desire comes, you should learn to simply observe it. Patanjali says, “After having control over your mind and its modifications, you become established in your essential nature” (Yoga Sutra 1:2–1:3). Your real nature is that of a seer, but you constantly identify yourself with the objects of the world, which are subject to change, death, and decay. That is why you suffer.
How can you know your true nature? By drawing your attention inward and slowly going to that fountain from which awareness is flowing on different levels. Meditation does not make you passive or cripple your daily life. Rather, it helps you in attaining emotional maturity. You are complex, yet you know only a very small part of yourself. Meditation makes you aware of the totality of your mind and being. Do you know that if you have a strong desire while you are meditating, that desire becomes very powerful. This is why you are told not to desire anything when you meditate, because it might conceivably be fulfilled.
My master always used to say to me, “Meditation never makes you alone, but makes you one in all. You are never alone because you have a friend with you all the time, with whom you are constantly conversing. This is your greatest friend, who is never selfish, who is always giving. You have unfulfilled desires, many frustrations. All of these will be washed off when you meet that one who fulfills everyone’s desires. What do I need if I have Thee?”
Source: Awareness of the Reality Within lectures (Honesdale, 1975)