The mind is like an ocean. Thoughts are like waves arising therefrom. Your duty is to calm down these thoughts by japa, concentration and meditation on your Ishtam. Concentration will lead you to meditation where there is only one thought of Ishtam. Faith, self-control, awareness, intense practice, surrender and absence of experienced sensations of all types enhance the success in concentration.
It is essential that the meditational object (dhyeya) is one, constant and lovely. You should remember it well that you really believe in the divinity of your Ishtam.
No thought should interfere with rupa sadhana and nama sadhana. The entire attention is to be concentrated on japa and dhyana. When this is practised unceasingly, then the real steadiness comes. You should neither lose courage, nor should you be unpunctual.
Attraction towards painful and pleasuresome experiences should be abandoned in toto. Every work is to be done by the body, indriyas and the routine mental mechanism. Every perception is to be limited to indriyas and manas alone. When one dissolves one's atma from the mind and indriyas, he attains real vairagya. Vairagya is not physical inactivity, nor is it absent-mindedness. It is just a topsy-turvy change in one's own attitude towards repulsive and attractive experiences and their bases. Just remain a witness. Then see, work and think.
Normal duties need neither be minimized nor stopped. They do not come in the picture at all. When the atma is separated, then actions and mental workings do not bind the sadhaka. When the sadhaka brings in the bhava of instrumentality, his mind is not at all affected. It is for him and at his will and pleasure that the sadhaka should consider himself working, thinking and seeing. Thus he will be able to maintain himself even while working, thinking and seeing. Thus he will be able to maintain normal interest, intelligence and efficiency. What one needs in cultivating vairagya is to consider oneself working at his orders and remain ever balanced in thought, word and actions.
This type of vairagya is essential in order to strengthen the powers of sadhana. This is the only way for a man to work for his spiritual enlightenment.
Physical illness, slavery to the senses and mental disturbances form the first obstacle.
Losing interest in sadhana is the second obstacle.
Carelessness and hurry-burry in sadhana is the third obstacle.
Heaviness in body and mind due to sleep and lethargy is the fourth obstacle.
Attraction towards and awareness of enjoyments and sense experiences form the fifth obstacle.
Considering one's own method of sadhana as improper is the sixth obstacle.
Unattainment of even elementary progress after a long term of sadhana is the seventh obstacle.
Instability of mind in any stage of sadhana is the eighth obstacle.
Apart from these few obstacles, there are those factors which one should know as impediments, disturbing the peace and bliss of one's mind. The greatest among the obstacles is to consider one's present condition as unfavourable, one's own progress as doubtful, one's own sadhana as defective, one's own life as hellish, and one's own normal avocation as opposed to his spiritual progress.
One should really realize that his meditational object is not merely a photograph, but a platform for the descent of the divine. He should understand throughout everything that the more he concentrates on the picture, the clearer his Ishtam will become. Let it become a truth of his mind that his Ishtam is everywhere, even though he is encased in a body for the favour of his bhaktas. The first and the last truth is that he should constantly be aware of this fact; that there is every truth in this saying: "He will appear before thee in flesh and blood, reveal unto thee jnana and converse with thee."
When all vrittis pertaining to external experiences have subsided, and when one single vritti is prevailing throughout everything, then the sadhaka attains the pure stage of meditation. And when this stage of single vritti alone continues, and when no other thought or vritti is felt in the least, then one is said to have attained samprajnata samadhi. When the entire consciousness of the sadhaka is transformed into the form of the Ishtam to the extent that he is seen as clearly as anything, the ever-glowing darshan is known as samprajnata samadhi.
In the first stage, the form is seen as you see the picture. It means that you are still conscious of the external world. As soon as the awareness becomes single, and the feeling of love reaches its highest stage, and no other than the beloved is remembered, then the Ishtam, the immortal form of Ishtam, manifests before you as truly as you would like him to be. In fact, all this takes place in the state of wholesale merger and non-dual awareness. The form is the same whom you know, but so far you have not seen him on account of sensual and mental limitations. Now that you have reached that stage where your atma has become all-pervading because of the absence of sensual and mental limitations, you are able to see him.
As soon as the form is apprehended, he enters in the form. He is in front of you in that familiar swarupa you meditated upon. He is conscious, yet he sits or stands quietly. You keep on looking at him and he at you. This takes time. When you have looked at him for some time, emotions bubble forth, tears flow and mechanically you fall down at his feet.
The sadhaka should see that form continuously for not less than seven days. On the following day of manifestation also he should sit for meditation as usual. But instead of meditating on the photo, he should bring into his mind the scene of manifestation and thus awaken his awareness. This process should be continued so long as the deity doesn't come to you at any place instantaneously. If you are able to see him at any time you will, then you should start conversing with him, and praying unto him. You can also repeat the mantra along with him.
No sooner will you sit for meditation at this stage than you see him in his usual posture in front of you. You look at him and he at you. Suddenly you break into emotions and bow down at his feet. He blesses and disappears. Now you come down to physical consciousness and faintly remember the experience as if it were a distant dream. Joy and ananda become boundless. Mind becomes calm, quiet and serene. The power of magnetism grows intense. The voice grows sweet. Your prayers are fulfilled and your questions answered. Beware that you do not exploit this achievement for personal and petty ends.
And there comes a stage where the lower self is completely transformed and the mental screens (fluctuations) are torn. Pure atma bhava dawns. The sadhaka becomes a siddha – master of his mind, senses and body. Knowledge emerges spontaneously. Revelation after revelation. He becomes powerful, full of wisdom, a kalpa vriksha, and a fit receptacle for Brahma anubhava, which is his final goal.