Question : What is the difference between meditation [dhyana] and investigation (vichara)? Ramana Maharshi: Both amount to the same. Those unfit for investigation must practise meditation. In meditation the aspirant forgetting himself meditates `I am Brahman' or `I am Siva' and by this method holds on to Brahman or Siva. This will ultimately end with the residual awareness of Brahman or Siva as being. He will then realize that this is pure being, that is, the Self. He who engages in investigation starts by holding on to himself, and by asking himself `Who am I?' the Self becomes clear to him. Mentally imagining oneself to be the supreme reality, which shines as existence-consciousness-bliss, is meditation. Fixing the mind in the Self so that the unreal seed of delusion will die is enquiry. Whoever meditates upon the Self in whatever bhava [mental image] attains it only in that image. Those peaceful ones who remain quiet without any such bhava attain the noble and unqualified state of kaivalya, the formless state of the Self. Question : Meditation is more direct than investigation because the former holds on to the truth whereas the latter sifts the truth from the untruth. Ramana Maharshi : For the beginner meditation on a form is more easy and agreeable. Practice of it leads to self-enquiry which consists in sifting the reality from unreality. What is the use of holding on to truth when you are filled with antagonistic factors? Self-enquiry directly leads to realization by removing the obstacles which make you think that the Self is not already realized. Meditation differs according to the degree of advancement of the seeker. If one is fit for it one might directly hold on to the thinker, and the thinker will then automatically sink into his source, pure consciousness. If one cannot directly hold on to the thinker one must meditate on God and in due course the same individual will have become sufficiently pure to hold on to the thinker and to sink into absolute being. Meditation is possible only if the ego is kept up. There is the ego and the object meditated upon. The method is therefore indirect because the Self is only one. Seeking the ego, that is its source, the ego disappears. What is left over is the Self. This method is the direct one. Source: from David Godman Excellent Book "Be As You are"