Monday Morning Greetings 2021 #41 – Mother Deaf

October 11th, 2021

That was a term my mother used to describe me after asking me for the fifth time in a day if I had done my daily chore of taking out the garbage. What a rascal I was! But besides that obvious fact, I am bringing this up to illustrate a point based on a recent experience and consequent epiphany: just how much a sense experience, especially hearing, requires more than just the senses alone for us to be aware of that experience, and how important it is for a spiritual practitioner to realize this. In that regard, I want to concentrate on elucidating this point in reference to mantra meditation, to show that besides requiring the stimulation of the auditory sense to hear a mantra, just how much one also requires the proper attitude and concentration. Before expanding this point further, let me first share the impetus for writing this article.


I started to listen to readings of the Krishna Book when I lie down to sleep at night. To make sure that I hear clearly, I even use AirPods. I soon, however, fall asleep, only to wake up after some time. Today I was shocked that even though several chapters had been read, I was so deeply asleep that I didn’t have any sense that the recording had been on. A question immediately arose in my mind: although the vibration of the reading was certainly in my ear, did I truly hear those chapters or not? If the answer is no, and it certainly seems the case, it demonstrates that the full awareness of a sense experience requires, in addition to the stimulation of the sense of hearing, the focus of the mind towards the sense that has been stimulated.


This relationship between focus and awareness is an essential point for the foundation of any practice, especially meditation, because without the steady focus on a single object over a prolonged period, one’s awareness of that object does not take place and our meditation, which is based on awareness of the object of meditation, will bear little fruit. That’s why the Yoga Sutras specifically defines the practice of meditation in relation to four characteristics of focus: concentration itself, doing such focus without interruption, maintaining that concentration for a prolonged period, and meditating with an attitude that inspires focus.[1]


The necessity of focusing the mind for sense perception to take place is also precisely why the classic yogic texts on meditation recommend asana to make the body suhka (peaceful) and sthira (steady). When the mind becomes too focused on the body it can’t simultaneously concentrate on the object of meditation.


Gauging the effectiveness of meditation based on absorption is also specifically why bhakti-yoga is deemed in the Bhagavad-gītā as the topmost yoga.[2] Focus on an object is most pronounced when a person has an emotional connection with it, and therefore bhakti-yoga, which is based on the most consummate or absorbing emotion, love or devotion towards God, facilitates the deepest meditation.


Dwelling on these thoughts this week inspired me to put renewed attention to support my meditation in the following ways.


  1. Even more strictly designating a time and place for reading and chanting. If we don’t reserve an exclusive time and place for God, our spiritual activities will be in competition with things that we may superficially be more attracted to.
  2. Complete technological fast from late afternoon to after breakfast. Meditation requires reversing the flow of the consciousness from external objects towards the inner mind. If technology is on, whether we succumb to it or not, the option of using it will always push the flow of the mind outward.
  3. Setting an intention before a devotional practice to remind me to remain focused and to not follow extraneous thoughts. We need to set intentions or vows to help the mind resist the waves of frivolous thoughts.


I was “mother deaf” when I was young, and I now pray to not be “Krishna deaf” when old.



[1] Yoga Sutras 1.13-14

[2] Bhagavad-gītā 6.47


Comments are closed.