Paul Mason shared some of his recent work with me recently. He generously gave me permission to post it on TMFB.
This not an endorsement. But Paul's an interesting thinker.
I always give him a listen.
From the many references in Guru Dev's discourses it is clear that he advocated several practices including puja, bhajan, pranayama, japaand dhyana.
Here are a couple of further quotes from Guru Dev:-
'The method to join the mind to Paramatma is japa of Bhagwan’s mantra, and dhyaana (contemplation / meditation) of swaroop (true nature of the Supreme Being).
" tajjapastadartha bhaavanam "
[Patanjali's Yoga-Darshanam 1:28]
[tat = that, japa = repetition, astadartha = that purpose, bhaavanam = contemplation]
‘The purpose of that japa (repetition of mantra) is contemplation.'
Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti, Surya, Ganesha are actually all forms of Bhagwan. Do japa of the names of any of these too and do dhyaana(contemplation / meditation) of the swaroop (true nature)of that fit mantra - right here is the method of Bhagwan’s bhajan (worship).
If you will do only japa then the mind will flit here and there. By doing dhyaana (contemplation / meditation) the mind is bound. Therefore, you should set in motion both japa and dhyaana together.'
- from 'Amrit Kana', Part 8
'At daybreak and in the day do that puja (ritual worship), japa and dhyaana (meditation) etc. which is appropriate, but at night you should certainly do 10-15 minutes of japa (repetition) of the ishta mantra and dhyaana of the ishta murti (desired form) before sleeping. Rapid advancement occurs by this upasana (sitting near / devout meditation).
In darkness (nightime) you should sit with eyes closed and do japa of the mantra, and in the same way with eyes closed you should do dhyaana of the ishta with the mind. Not on their whole body, you should look on the foot or on the mouth area of the head, seeing our favourite ishta full of compassion, looking infused with tenderness. The vision of the ishta becomes one’s own desire. You should not envisage the eye of the ishta to be closed. This manner of having seen the vision of the infusion of tenderness, doing dhyaana of the ishta in the heart, you should remain doing japa of the ishta mantra. From this, the image of theishta will grow and provided that the mind gets strengthened and held with the ishta then in the end it will stay in this condition. You will be going across the ocean of samsara (worldliness) on the strength of this.
- 'Shri Shankaracharya Upadeshamrit', 88 of 108 Discourses of Guru Dev
Now when Maharishi taught meditation he also chose the mantra of the god, but soon he became aware he was teaching non-Hindus too. So, he taught the mantras but fell silent on the topic of the ishta, hoping that people would be able to focus on the unmanifest aspect. However Guru Dev warned that this was not possible, saying:-
'That person who meditates on the formless, in that connection we ask how did you meditate on nirakara? If you are to make contemplation then you will continue the vritti, but how can you make a meditation of the nirakara (formless)? You cannot make meditation of nirakara. If anyone says that they meditate on nirakara then it is like stating that there is a son of a childless woman is going in a marriage procession. There is not really a son of a barren woman, then of what kind is the marriage procession? When there is not any mark or form of the nirakara then how is meditation of it made? You should have some basis to consolidate the vritti (fluctuations of the mind). That which is the basis, that really will be sakara (having form). '
- 'Shri Shankaracharya Upadeshamrit', 48 of 108 Discourses of Guru Dev
There is a method that reconciles the situation and that is a method that neither uses japa nor dhyana, an ancient system called raja yoga or 'royal yoga'.
'There were quite a good many disciples there, people doing practises of yoga, and hatha yoga, and raja yoga, and mantra yoga, so many people, disciples, engaged in their own practices.'
- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, speaking on July 27th 1961 in California, USA
Swami Sivananda Saraswati tells us about Raja Yoga:-
'Raja Yoga is the king of Yogas. It concerns directly with the mind. In this Yoga there is no struggling with Prana or physical body. There are no Hatha Yogic Kriyas. The Yogi seats at ease, watches his mind and silences the bubbling thoughts. He stills the mind, restraints the thought-waves and enters into the thoughtless state or Asamprajnata Samadhi, Hence the name Raja Yoga.'
'ASAMPRAJNATA: Highest superconscious state where the mind is completely annihilated and Reality experienced.'