From Publishers Weekly
Asserting that meditation leads to direct perception of ultimate reality and samadhi, a "state of blissful superconsciousness," Adiswarananda (Senior Minister of Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York City) surveys the vast topic of meditation in the Yoga and Vedanta traditions within Hinduism. He begins by discussing meditation's characteristics, goals and benefits, then explores various objects of meditation, including a particularly informative chapter on the "most sacred of all sacred words," Om. Next, he examines the mechanics of meditation, such as chakras, posture, eating habits and japa, the practice of repeating a sacred word or phrase. He then turns to the tricky subject of charting one's spiritual progress, discussing mystical benefits of meditation, such as visions and psychic powers. (He does caution readers about the subjective nature of such phenomena, insisting instead on the centrality of reason, orthodox Hindu scriptures and especially the real-world transformation of one's character as gauges of effective meditation practice.) Finally, he rounds out the tome with a discussion of obstacles in meditation and methods of overcoming them. The sheer scope of the book allows Adiswarananda to strike a graceful balance between liberal inclusiveness and conservative exclusiveness: one may choose the meditation method that seems most suitable, but straying from that chosen path undermines one's efforts and is "fraught with danger." Yet his microscopic attention to so many intricacies makes distinguishing between Yoga and Vedanta difficult and prevents the book from being a practical, how-to guide to meditation, limiting its appeal to very serious students.
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Meditation and Its Practices
is an extensive guide to Vedanta meditation, a nondualistic Hindu belief system with four basic principles: divinity of the individual soul, unity of existence, oneness with the Ultimate Reality, and harmony of religions. Under Vedanta philosophy, meditation is the way for the individual to realize his or her oneness with god, or the Ultimate Reality. Swami Adiswarananda, senior minister of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York, explores the scriptural background of Vedanta and gives explicit, practical instructions for practicing meditation in this tradition. Jane TumaCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved