by Charles Feldman (Prana)
On page 55, it says: When one repeats a mantra over and over, the mind also becomes habituated to it. Eventually, one becomes able to say it without the words registering in the conscious mind. . . . It is therefore a highly effective psychological means of removing all thought from the mind.
I have often wondered about the psychological means of one-pointedness leading to God-realization. The above paragraph indicates that when one becomes habituated to the mantra, it becomes automatic, and one can enter into samadhi through losing track of the mundane world altogether.
On page 95, it says: The most difficult thing [in having a conversation with God] is to begin. Rabbi Nachman advises sitting down in the place where you meditate and saying to yourself, "For the next twenty minutes, I will be alone with God." This in itself is significant, since it is like the beginning of a "visit." Even if there is nothing to say, it is a valid experience since you are spending time alone with God, aware of His presence. If you sit long enough, says Rabbi Nachman, you will eventually find something to say.
The above paragraph let me know that I am not alone in often not knowing what to say to God, and that it is possible to develop a relationship, just as you would with a person with whom you at first feel shy.
On page 123, it says: The Zohar explains the existence of evil with a parable. A king once wanted to test his son to see if he would be a worthy heir to the throne. He told his son to keep away from loose women and to remain virtuous. Then he hired a woman to entice his son, instructing her to use all her wiles with him. The Zohar then asks the rhetorical question: Is the woman not also a loyal servant of the king?
This is a good analogy of how both good and evil come from God, because God is everywhere.
On page 142, it says: Think for a moment of the greatest love you ever had in your life. If you have ever been deeply in love, you know that there is a stage where the mind becomes almost obsessed with the one you love. . . . All other pleasures are secondary to the pleasure of being in this person's presence.
It is possible to love God in this manner, and with even greater intensity. There is a level of love at which one constantly yearns and longs for a closeness to God. . . . True love for God can surpass even the greatest passion that can exist between man and woman.
The above two paragraphs made it clear to me that the idea of love for and yearning for God are present across religious lines. The idea that yearning for God is to be sought is not just the philosophy of Sri Ramakrishna alone, but is a natural part most likely of every religion.
Reading Jewish Meditation - A Practical Guide has made me realize that while different religions have different philosophies, mythologies and rituals, they do indeed have an inner core that is common to them all, and we can learn from them all.