Swami Janakananda on Meditation….as opposed to hypnosis or positive thinking. This is an extract from his magazine called Bindu.
Source ~ http://www.yogameditation.com/Articles/Issues-of-Bindu/Bindu-6/Editorial
Good thoughts - evil thoughts
Are "good" or "positive" thoughts of no use? Yes, if they do not foster guilt, shame or tensions, when trying to suppress the "evil" thoughts, then at least the "good" counter balance the "evil" ones. If we fight the thoughts, we end up getting entangled in them, and they do not let go. In meditation you avoid fighting the thoughts - for example, by looking at them attentively without clinging to them - and eventually you realise that you are not the thoughts. Thus the interest for them is lost and the mind calms down. Of course, this is not done by willpower or with effort, but by the meditation method used. Thoughts are dropped and awareness is maintained with the meditation object. The state is concentrated and deepened.
It does not mean that one should not think good thoughts. Some people send good thoughts in all four directions, and up and down, before they start their meditation, but this belongs to the ritual with which they surround their meditation, and not to the meditation itself. This is the equivalent of religious rituals and meditations where the gods are first called upon to awaken energy and protection, before commencing with the actual meditation. I have nothing to say about this, only that it has my respect. I know that if one meditates on God with no other purpose than love and a desire to do it, then the meditation is irresistible.
However, I prefer the attitude that Lao Tze expresses with these words:
"...when Tao is lost, there is goodness. When goodness is lost, there is kindness. When kindness is lost, there is justice. When justice is lost, there is ritual. Now ritual is the husk of faith and loyalty, the beginning of confusion. Knowledge of the future is only a flowery trapping of Tao. It is the beginning of folly.Therefore the truly great man dwells on what is real and not what is on the surface. On the fruit and not the flower. Therefore accept the one and reject the other..." and he continues: "Give up sainthood, renounce wisdom, and it will be a hundred times better for everyone; give up kindness, renounce morality, and men will rediscover filial piety and love; give up ingenuity, renounce profit, and bandits and thieves will disappear." (Tao Te Ching.)
The depth achieved when nothing other than meditation is sought, is vast and can not at all be compared with "positive thinking" or hypnosis, which are other words for many methods in fashion today. Just as the past thousand years or more have suffered from too much discipline and blind authority, so will the future suffer from a lack of discipline and of not being able to stay with one thing. A great deal of confusion will arise as a result of this, when one forgets oneself and runs from one sensational method to the next - the goal is lost from sight.
Behind the thoughts
….One should not manipulate in meditation, but seek the highest goal, which I can only describe with these modest words: a total letting go - and being.
No doubt it could also be expressed in other ways, religious, philosophical, etc. And not claiming that I have the only definition on coming close to the essence of one's being without strain,I shall again cite Lao Tze, and let him say it in his way:
"Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub; it is the center hole that makes it useful.Shape clay into a vessel; it is the space within that makes it useful.Cut doors and windows for a room; it is the holes which make it useful.Therefore profit comes from what is there; usefulness from what is not there."(Tao Te Ching)
I follow a method in my meditation that safeguards, that it does not turn into ideas, expectations or self hypnosis, but provides a real experience, so the relaxation becomes genuine and consciousness is expanded harmoniously...