Many Hindus, both young and old, have been asking me recently very deep and sincere questions about meditation. They have all visited many temples, turned inward and had the desire to dive deeper into themselves through this contemplative art, to internalize their worship after performing external worship. Years ago, in 1970, seekers were asking me the same questions. In response, I delivered and later published in a small book an inspired talk called "Beginning to Meditate." We are pleased to share it with you now in "Publisher's Desk," two-and-a-half decades later. Below is the first half of that popular dissertation. We will continue it next month. I'll be in India then in many cities with large groups and small, attending conferences and conducting meditations. The schedule of the holy yatra is on my Internet home page. []

There are two forces that we become conscious of when we begin to meditate: the odic force and the actinic force. Actinic force is pure life energy emanating from the central source of life itself. Odic force is magnetism that emanates out from our physical body, attracts and merges with the magnetism of other people. The odic force is what cities are made of, homes are made of. The actinic force, flowing through the physical body, out through the cells and through the skin, eventually becomes odic force.

As soon as we begin to meditate, we become conscious of these two forces and must be aware of how to deal with them. The odic forces are warm, sticky. The actinic forces are inspirational, clean, pure, cool. We seek in meditation the actinic force. When we begin to meditate, we have to transmute the energies of the physical body from odic to the atinic.

By sitting up straight with the spine erect, the energies of the physical body, which are called idain Sanskrit, are transmuted. The spine erect, the head balanced at the top of the spine, brings one into a positive mood. In a position such as this we cannot become worried, fretful or depressed or sleepy during our meditation.

Slumping the shoulders forward short-circuits the actinic forces that flow through the spine and out through the nerve system. In a position such as this it is easy to become depressed, to have mental arguments with oneself or another, or to experience unhappiness. With the spine erect and head balanced at the top of the spine, we are positive–dynamic. Thoughts race through the mind substance, and we are aware of many, many thoughts. Therefore, the next step is to transmute the energies from the intellectual area of the mind so we must move our awareness into an area of the mind which does not think but conceives, looks at the thinking area of the mind detached.

Pingalais the force of the intellectual area of the mind. This force is controlled and transmuted through the power of a regulated breath. Pranayamais a method of breathing: nine counts as we exhale, holding one; nine counts as we inhale, holding one count. Pranayama.Be very sure to breathe the same number of counts out as in, or that the breath is regulated to the same distance out as the same distance in. This will quickly allow you to become aware of an area of the mind that does not think but is intensely alive, peaceful, blissful, conceives the totality of a concept rather than thinking out the various parts. This perceptive area of the mind is where the actinic forces are most vibrant. The power of the spine, simshumbese,is felt dynamically, and we are then ready to begin meditation.

Meditate on awareness as an individual entity flowing through all areas of the mind, as the free citizen of the world travels through each country, each city, not attaching himself anywhere.

In meditation, awareness must be loosened and made free to move vibrantly and buoyantly into the inner depths where peace and bliss remain undisturbed for centuries; or out into the odic force fields of the material world where man is in conflict with his brother; or into the internal depths of the subconscious mind. Meditate, therefore, on awareness traveling freely through all areas of the mind. The dynamic willpower of the meditator in his ability to control his awareness as it flows into its inner depths eventually brings him to a state of bliss, where awareness is simply aware of itself, kaef.This would be the next area to move into in a meditation. Simply sit in kaef, being totally aware that one is aware. New energies will flood the body, flowing out through the nerve system, out into the exterior world. The nature then becomes refined in meditating in this way.

A powerful meditation will fill and thrill you with an abundance of actinic energy to be used creatively in the external world during the activities of daily life. So, until next month sit quietly, for a few minutes each day with the nicest person you know, yourself, and go in and in.