While meditation has become widely associated in popular culture with relaxation techniques, meditation in the Hindu tradition is the antithesis of a passive act. True meditation is an intense and concentrated search for the divine Reality within. According to Patanjali—the ancient sage and author of the Yoga Sutras—meditation (dhyana) is "an unbroken flow of thought toward the object of concentration and has been compared to an unbroken, steady stream of oil when poured from one vessel to another."
Long ago in ancient India there lived a king who ruled over the magnificent city of Smritinagar, which in Sanskrit means “the city of memory.” One day the king—an avid and excellent hunter—left his kingdom before dawn to go hunting alone. He rode through his extensive lands and, crossing the borders of his kingdom, entered into a dense forest. As he rode through the forest, a snake suddenly slithered across the path; the horse reared and the king was thrown violently to the ground.
In my everyday life it is not necessary to have a comprehensive knowledge of my internal world. And even if I am interested in it, I have to gather information about it from the external world. Don't I have to study anatomy and physiology in bodies that are not my own? Don't I have to learn the workings of the mind by studying other people's minds? So it seems that I pursue most of the values of my life in the external world.
"Strength, strength is what the Upanishads speak to me from every page," declared Swami Vivekananda. Clearly, the source of "strength" that is taught in the Upanishads is neither the body nor the mind nor the intellect. All of these can be strong but the real strength, the real power, is in the spirit, the center of pure consciousness that every one of us really is. That unitary consciousness is the source of all power, goodness, purity, and strength.