Meditation is not so much a process of stilling the mind as of perceiving realities that exist beyond the mind. There is an inner world that can be perceived only when the attention has been turned away from material involvement and redirected toward the divine source within. “Listening” entails much more than listening with the ears. It means, among other things, the stillness of expectation, and complete mental absorption in whatever inspirations come. It means receiving as opposed to generating uplifting thoughts with the mind.
Thus, “listening” clarifies a misconception people frequently have who imagine that yoga teaches self-effort, but scorns the need for divine grace. Divine grace is forever impersonal. It is not, like the human will, dependent on personal choices or inclinations. It has no favorites. Like the sunlight, it shines impartially everywhere. What keeps sunlight from arriving equally everywhere is the presence of obstructions: clouds, buildings, the curtains covering a window. What keeps grace from reaching us is obstructions in our consciousness.
We may not be able to do much about obstructions to grace that are put there by Nature or by other people — illness, for example, or negative thought forms — but we can draw back the curtains that cover the windows of our minds. These obstructions are our mental restlessness and worldly desires.
This, then, is the benefit of practice: It draws back our mental curtains; it helps us to listen more intently to the divine call within. It is like turning the chalice of thought and feeling right-side up, that the wine of grace may fill it. If, instead, the chalice is turned upside down, grace, which (unlike the sunlight) is superconscious, will simply be withheld. Why should it spill uselessly to the floor?
Thank you, veareflejos: