Mastering the Essentials

No preparation, no attempt.
No attempt, no progress.
No progress, no perfection.
No perfection, no satisfaction.

When you meditate at home, you should have a comer of your room which is absolutely pure and sanctified- a sacred place which you use only for meditation. There you can make a shrine where you can keep a picture of your spiritual Master, or the Christ, or some other beloved spiritual figure whom you regard as your Master.

Before beginning to meditate, it is helpful if you can take a shower or proper bath. The cleanliness of the body is very helpful for the purification of the consciousness. If you are unable to take a shower or bath before sitting down to meditate, you should at least wash your face. It is also advisable to wear clean and light clothes.

It will also help if you burn incense and keep some fresh flowers on your shrine. When you smell the scent of incense, you get perhaps only an iota of inspiration and purification, but this iota can be added to your inner treasure. There are some people who say that it is not necessary to have flowers in front of you during meditation. They say, "The flower is inside; the thousand-petalled lotus is inside." But the physical flower on your shrine will remind you of the inner flower. Its colour, its fragrance and its pure consciousness will give you inspiration. From inspiration you get aspiration.

It is the same with using candles during meditation. The flame from a candle will not in itself give you aspiration, but when you see the outer flame immediately you feel that the flame of aspiration in your inner being is also climbing high, higher, highest. If someone is on the verge of God-realisation or has actually realised God, then these outer things will have no value. But if you know that your God-realisation is still a far cry, then they will definitely increase your aspiration.

When you are doing your individual daily meditation, try to meditate alone. This does not apply to husband and wife if they have the same spiritual Master; it is all right for them to meditate together. Otherwise, it is not advisable to meditate with others during your daily individual meditation. Collective meditation is also important, but for individual daily meditation it is better to meditate privately at one's own shrine.