Why meditate and how?

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2. The second fundamental principle of yoga tells us that knowledge is the result of a modification in our consciousness. To know an object, the mind takes the shape of that object. This modification of the mind is called vritti in Sanskrit. 

Knowledge is the relation between the individual self and the object. The pure atman—the Self—cannot know an object. The mind must intervene between the Self and the object—in other words by taking the form of the object. Knowledge results when the atman’s light falls on this modified mind or vritti

There are different types of vrittis. For example, when we observe a tree, the mind goes to it and takes its shape. It is thanks to this process that we know the tree. If you close your eyes, the mind reproduces the image of the tree, and it is from this image that you remember the tree. It is also for this reason that what we call life, or existence, is in fact the result of worlds living within worlds. In the same way, the physical exterior of a tree is a universe unto itself, whereas there also exist subtle interior worlds. When the mind is projected towards an interior world, we are led to know them all. All of these modifications belong to the mind and to it alone, and are called vrittis.

There can be no knowledge without the vrittis. In deep sleep, the mind produces no vrittisand, when we wake up, we say “I knew nothing”. However, even during deep sleep, a special type of vritti exists. This sleep is a state dominated by tamasand is called nidra vritti. It is only when the mind is in a state of super-consciousness—the nirvikalpa samadhi—that it is absorbed in the Self and that only atman exists. This is the state of pure existence. Any sense of emotion or of spiritual vision is in fact a modification of the mind. 

In that case, what is right knowledge in fact? It is called prama in Sanskrit, while false knowledge is called bhrama. A wave of thoughts that creates right knowledge is called pramanaand one which creates erroneous knowledge is called viparaya. Attachment, hate, fear, and other emotions are all caused by mistaken knowledge. 

You might say that abstract ideas like goodness, beauty, the infinite, and so on are modifications of the mind. It’s true! Abstract ideas like pure energy, luminosity, and others, do not contain an object. Nevertheless, they are not harmful and instead provide a practical demonstration of our remarks. The wave of thoughts that creates this abstract knowledge is called vikalpa. Once you ready yourself to meditate and try to visualise a god, your consciousness is not “true” because, in reality, you do not see your god. At the same time, it is not false either, because your imagination has not gone somewhere that does not exist. Every time that you meditate, remember what you previously imagined! As your meditation becomes more intense over time, your imagination will transform itself into right knowledge, with a direct vision of your Divinity. 

This right knowledge of the Reality that exists beyond the senses is the goal of meditation.