Meditation, as described in this chapter, is an essential practice in any spiritual journey. Listening and reading scriptures comprises “shravanam”, resolving doubts is “mananam”, and establishing oneself in the knowledge of the eternal essence is “nidhidhyaasana” or internalization. Meditation is the means to internalizing knowledge of the eternal essence.
Shri Krishna gives an exhaustive coverage of meditation in this chapter. The key point for us is to understand the vision of a meditator. The meditator views all objects, people and situations with equanimity. He does not see them as different than himself. In other words, he “sees his self in all beings, and all beings in his self”. He can see his self as brahman, the formless aspect of the eternal essence, or as Ishvara, the form-oriented aspect.
In preparing for meditation, Shri Krishna urges us to first renounce selfish desires through karma yoga. Unless the mind is purified of selfish desires for the most past, it will not be able to meditate properly. It is only through the intellect, our higher self, that can control the mind, our lower self. Furthermore, we should lead a moderate lifestyle, in other word not go overboard in eating, sleeping and indulging in sense objects. The end result of all this preparation is a gradual withdrawal or “uparati” from the outside world, leading to the mind settling in the eternal essence, conveyed by the message “the self settling into the self”.
Next, Shri Krishna covers the technique of meditation. He advises us to select a place that is quiet, clean and pure. He also suggests using a seat that is well insulated, on which we are advised to sit with our eyes focused on one spot, and with our spine held erect. Shri Krishna further instructs us to focus our attention on one thought, and try not to let the mind waver, just like an unwavering candle flame. The object of meditation should be something that we hold as supreme and dear. It could be am image of a deity or of the guru. The untrained mind will always try to wander in different directions, but we should use the power of our intellect, our higher self, to bring the mind back to one thought.
Finally, Shri Krishna praises the meditator by elevating his status higher than any other kind of seeker. He says that the meditator attains supreme joy, peace and bliss. He is always protected against the heaviest of sorrows because he resides in Ishvara. Even if the ultimate goal of meditation is not realized in this birth, the effort put forth will be carried over into the next birth. But the most supreme meditator is one who is Ishvara’s devotee. Who is Ishvara in reality? That is covered in the next six chapters.