[Editor’s note: Though we don’t agree with the assertion that meditation with eyes closed is wrong, we feel the article should be published to give the author’s view a chance to be heard.]

Today everyone is of the opinion that penance or meditation means something that is done by sitting at a place with our eyes closed and imagining some forms or chanting some auspicious names or mantras of the Lord or closing our eyes and observing our breath. But these were not penance. The above said techniques at the max will allow one to attain a state or give spiritual maturity to do penance and that’s it. Worse, if someone does meditation with the closed eyes then he will be trapped in illusion or maya.

The first step for everyone to understand is that meditation or penance should never be done with closed eyes. Penance is the one which should be done with our eyes open.

If one does any spiritual practice with his eyes closed then only maya or illusion will be working there. That is why our saint Vallalar has asked us to be “awake”. In Tamil awake is called as “villithiru” which implies two things. One is having our eyes opened and other is being aware. Penance has to be done with awareness and also with our eyes open. Eyes can be fully opened or half-opened but never closed.

Among us we have a strong opinion that when our eyes are opened we will see the outside world but when we close our eyes and do meditation we see the supreme Lord within us. Thinking that opening of our eyes as the external eye and closing of our eye is the internal eye is the biggest ignorance that we have imagined ourselves. It is again an illusion thinking that when we close our eye there is calmness which will lead us inside.

Think this way, closing of our eyes is darkness and opening of our eyes is light. Telling in another way, closing of our eyes is like new moon day and opening of our eyes is like full moon. In order to indicate this only it is recommended in our country to visit holy place and holy mountains during full moon day. In India we find so many people going around holy mountains and also jeeva samadhis of saints during full moon day.

When we close our mind and imagine something then it is possible to see any forms that we visualize. This is again illusion and not true divine experience. Any vision that is got with open eyes when we are fully awake and alert is the true divine experience.

When one person dies we call that the person has closed his eyes. Even in this world to do any work we need to open our eyes, and this is true even in our spiritual practice.

It is also said during the auspicious day of Shiva Rathiri (auspicious night of Lord Siva) if one does not sleep or keep his eyes opened and worship the lord then he will attain the abode of the Lord. This is to emphasis the importance of being awake and keeping of our eyes opened for any spiritual practice. Our saints have conveyed this information through the way of devotion.

In Bhagavad Gita also Lord Krishna recommends one to do penance with eyes opened. The great saint Thirumoolar in his works says, “Blind person leading blind men will fall together in the pit of death.” Here he clearly talks about a person who teaches people an incorrect way of doing meditation (doing meditation with closed eyes) and the followers of that person finally dying instead of overcoming death.

Now it has been seen that penance must be done with open eyes. Now let us see how to do penance. Here also the great saint Thiurmoolar in his works Thiru Manthiram writes:

“Breaking through the lamp and lighting the light in the lamp,
Raising/simulating the light inside the lamp,
And who realizes about the light within the lamp, for them
Union with the Lotus feet of the Lord of the light of the lamp will be possible.” – Thiru Mantiram, Song 2186

These are the great words which clearly explain how one should do penance and what is the role of guru in it. The light that was lit was done by a satguru. Let us see the meaning of the above great song.

What is meant by breaking through the lamp and lighting the light in the lamp? To understand this let us see what the lamp denotes. In the human body the eyes are the lamp. Remember the great words in the Bible by Jesus, “Eyes were the lamp of one body”.

Lighting the light of the lamp indicates – at present we do not have the capability to look inside us, so one has to lit the divine light of the lamp to look inside us. How do you light a lamp? Through another lamp that is already lit. So a qualified satguru by the process of deekshai will light the light of the lamp by the divine light in his eyes. This is the first step. So in order for one to do penance the divine light in our eyes has to be lit meaning we should be initiated to look in.

Why it has been told that before lighting the lamp it has to be broken? It is not that there is no divine light in our eyes now, it is there but it never acts, meaning this light is hidden by one’s karma. Everyone’s divinity that is present in one’s eyes is hidden by the karma that one has been born with. So in order to initiate this divine light or make this divine light to act, the guru has to break this layer of karma that is covering one’s divine light in the eyes. Breaking also indicates the eyes have to be kept opened. Only when our eyes were open can the Guru’s divine light from his eyes lighten our lamp (eyes). By breaking through the barrier of karma and initiating the divinity within us, Guru is making us to be born again.

This is what is conveyed in the Bible as “One who is not born again will not reach the kingdom of the lord”. Saint Agastiyar also tells that one should know the way to be born again, indicating this. A person who is born again by guru through deekshai is called duvichan in Sanskrit.

Raising/simulating the light inside the lamp – the second line tells how one has to do penance, the purpose of penance is to simulate or increase the effulgence of this divine light in our eyes by constantly keeping our mind on this.

How to keep our mind on this divine light? When one is initiated by a guru, the guru lightens the divine light of our eyes, when this divine light is lightened one gets divine consciousness in one’s eye (a sort of burning sensation or feeling inside the eyes). The sadhaka or the disciple now just has to concentrate on this consciousness and do nothing. When the divine light is simulated or increased by constantly fixing our mind on it the 7 layers of karma that are hiding our divinity will melt and one gets to see his soul called anma darshan. So with our eyes open and keeping our mind on the divine consciousness in our eye that is received through or initiated by a guru is the correct way of doing penance.

Now the third and fourth line explains what happens when one does this penance. Who realizes about the light within the lamp, for them union with the lotus feet of the Lord of the light of the lamp will be possible – when the divine light increases and melts our karmas we get self realization and gnana after which we can unite with the Lord of the divine light, which is called the Lord’s holy feet. So for the 3rd and 4th step to occur, which is getting gnana/divine wisdom and reaching the Lord, the 1st and 2nd step has to be done.

So one can do penance only after a satguru has initiated him. This process is what is told by Yovan in the Bible as “I am initiating you with the holy water but the one who is more powerful than me will come and he will give initiation with the fire and the holy spirit”. Here fire and holy spirit means initiation through satguru’s divine light of his eyes.

Now the question comes, is it not possible to do penance without a guru? The answer is no. It may be possible for some person with extreme devotion like that of Kannapa Nayanar, but for others without guru we can not have self realization or attain the Lord. This divine light of our eyes is called as the holy feet of the Lord and by various code words like 8 and 2 (Right and left Eye), sun and moon, Siva and Sakthi and mei porul or thiruvadi or padaka.

By Penance we should know and realize about the divine light of our eyes and this divine light lights our wisdom and knowledge. So to lighten or see the light we should open our eyes. Do penance with eyes open. Penance in short is the art of doing nothing and just being there. Doing nothing and just being there is keeping our mind always on the divine light of our eyes and never flowing with the thoughts.

Now the important question is can any one be initiated and do penance? Yes, any human being can be initiated and do penance but the person hence forth should live a noble and virtuous life and never do the five great sins which are stealing, lying, alcoholism or using any drugs, killing which includes eating non-vegetarian food and illicit desire or lust. Only a pure soul with penance and love can reach the Supreme Lord.

wishes and regards,