A classic on meditation (Book Review)

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Title: A Million Thoughts; Author: Om Swami; Publisher: Jaico; Pages: 334; Price: Rs 350.

There are many books, indeed good books, on meditation. But this one stands out.

The author, Om Swami, is no run-of-the-mill holy man. Before his renunciation, this MBA product from Sydney ran a multi-million dollar company. It was then he decided to embrace saffron robes.

At the peak of his own practice, Om Swami meditated for some 20 hours daily — for months. It was exhausting but rewarding. In the various places he meditated, he realised the truth — once you get used to staying quiet for long periods, you will experience certain quietude of the mind.

Rats posed the biggest challenge when he meditated in the Himalayas for months. Then there were spiders. In the slightly warmer places, snakes and wild lizards plagued him. And scorpions were aplenty in hot areas. But not one wild animal ever harmed him, not even once.

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“This is ultimately what meditation is about — experiencing and living in divine union.”

And in simple, lucid language, Om Swami comes out with a profoundly useful work on meditation — a guide to those who want to meditate and one that can help the already meditating to perfect themselves.

Meditation is going home. But the meditation Om Swami — who has an ashram in Himachal Pradesh — talks about is not just a feel-good five-minute exercise. It is about hopping out of negativity and calming the tides of emotions in one’s life.

And the only way to meditate is to meditate right. That’s what Om Swami teaches elaborately in the book — the how.

The mystic, however, makes it clear that meditation is not about gaining anything. It is not a solution to all your problems. Meditation never was and never will be a substitute for virtuous conduct. And just sitting still is not meditation — crocodiles do it better.

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Ultimately, meditation is silence and presence of the mind. “When your mind is at once silent and present, you are deep in meditation.”

This is indeed a book to treasure — as far as meditation goes.

(M R Narayan Swamy can be contacted at [email protected])



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