Our consciousness is cluttered with all kinds of things all the time, because that is what we want. How can we have the reflection of Divine Reality in our consciousness? All these things cluttering our consciousness have to be wiped off. Then only will it become possible for Divine Reality, the highest Reality, to be reflected there. That is the thought at the back of progress in meditation. Whether you like it or not, there is no help for it.
You will find in every religion that whenever a person is instructed to practise meditation so that he can have higher and higher spiritual experience, it is always presupposed that he will give up his preoccupation with the outside. There is a wonderful verse in one of the Upanishads in which it is said, parahci khani vyatmat svayambkus-tasmat paran pasyati nantaratman T)\e Lord has so created the senses that they always look outward and never look within; therefore they perceive the outside things but not the Self within. Kascid dhlrah pratyag-atmanam aiksad avrtta-caksur amrtatvam icchan4 But a steady-minded person, a wise person, perceives this inmost Self; desiring immortality, he turns his sight inward. You see, we are all looking out; therefore, what is within we don’t see. But if we want to see what is within ourselves, then our vision must be turned within. That is where people find the greatest difficulty.
However, when you have succeeded in turning your vision within, your mind becomes serene. And although this process is partly mechanical, in the sense that for a long time you practise certain things every day, really speaking, it is so subtle that it cannot be forced by any mechanical skill. It has to come to you; therefore some say that without the grace of God you cannot realize that state. Almost all religions have emphasized the grace of God. Almost not all. Buddhism, for example, doesn’t believe in God or any such thing. Buddhists are very commonsensical; they say, You practise like this, you will get this result. But Buddha led his followers through hard ethical and moral disciplines in the beginning, and later they had to practise renunciation to attain to this state of contemplativeness.
I should tell you here that if you ever turn your mind inwards, you perceive such wonderful things that you would not like to look outwards at all. It is said that if anyone has caught a glimpse of what is within, he will never again seek anything in the outside. That’s a fact. Even if, because of your previous habits, you are inclined to look outwards, you find all the joy has gone from these outside things. You go through the habit of looking out and becoming restless, but there is no joy, no glamour left in the outside world, nothing left. And very soon you come back to your inner quest, and you make further and further effort. Once you have caught a glimpse of what is within, it will never be destroyed. You make more and more progress. Whether you do it uninterruptedly or interruptedly doesn’t matter. Sometimes, if you have bad tendencies, they will force you back to old habits, but you will find them so painful that very soon you will make another effort to go within, until all obstructions have been removed. Most wonderful reality! What would you find outside? There is nothing here nothing!