A. Introductory Remarks
The present widespread interest in the subject of Meditation is an evidence of a world need which requires clear understanding. Where we find a popular trend in any direction, which is one-pointed and steady, it may be safe to assume that out of it will emerge that which the human race needs in its onward march.
That meditation is regarded by those who define it loosely as a "mode of prayer" is, unfortunately, true. But it can be demonstrated that in the right understanding of the meditation process and in its right adaptation to the need of our modern civilisation will be found the solution of the present educational impasse and the method whereby the fact of the soul may be ascertained – that living something which we call the "Soul" for lack of a better term.
Down the ages there has been a steady progression of the evolving human consciousness, and a steady growth of awareness of nature, of the world in which we live, and an increasing grasp of the Whole, until now the entire world is knit together through the radio, the telephone and television. Humanity is omnipresent, and the mind is the main factor in the bringing about of this apparent miracle.
"We have arrived at an understanding of the laws which govern the natural world, and some of those which govern the psychical. The laws of the spiritual realm, so-called, remain to be scientifically discovered and utilized. A few have known these laws and spoken to humanity about them.... Among these few who stand out as the eminent Knowers, are the Buddha, the Christ, Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, Meister Eckhart, Jacob Boehme, Spinoza – the list is long.
"We are now beginning to ask the pertinent question: Is it not possible that many thousands now are at the point where they can co-ordinate the brain, the mind and the soul, and so pass through the portal of mental awareness into the realm of light, of intuitive perception, and the world of causes? The Knowers say that we can, and they tell us of the way."
(From Intellect to Intuition, pp. 180-81)
B. Some Pertinent Questions
What are the objectives of meditation?
The purpose of meditation is soul contact and, ultimately, union with the soul; its whole object is to enable one to become in outer manifestation what one is in inner reality. Through the practice of meditation one is enabled to identify with the soul aspect and not simply the lower characteristics of the personality.
Through meditation,...the powers of the soul are unfolded. Each sheath or vehicle through which the soul expresses itself (on physical, emotional and mental levels) carries latent within itself certain inherent potencies, but the soul, which is the source of them all, has them in their purest and most sublimated form....
The soul powers unfold normally and naturally. This they do, not because they are desired and consciously developed, but because as the inner God assumes control and dominates His bodies, His powers become apparent upon the physical plane and soul potentialities will then demonstrate forth as known realities....
...The testimony of the mystics and initiates of all the ages can be brought in corroboration of them. The fact that others have achieved may encourage and interest us but it does no more unless we ourselves take some definite action; for this process for the unfolding of the reasoning consciousness must be self- applied and self-initiated.
This involves the development of the mind as a synthesised, or common sense, and governs its use in relation to the world of the earthly life, of the emotions and of thought. It involves also its orientation at will to the world of the soul, and its capacity to act as an intermediary between the soul and the physical brain.
The first relation is developed and fostered through sound methods of exoteric education and of training; the second is made possible through meditation, a higher form of the educational process.
( From Intellect to Intuition, pp. 83-87)
Can anyone, who has the desire, profit by and master the technique of meditation?
...It should be remembered, at the outset, that the very urge itself to meditate can be taken as indicating the call of the soul to the Path of Knowledge. No one should be deterred because of a seeming lack of the needed qualifications. Most of us are bigger and wiser, and better equipped than we realise. We can all begin to concentrate at once if we so choose.
We possess a great deal of knowledge, mental power, and capacities, which have never been drawn forth from the realm of the subconscious into objective usefulness; anyone who has watched the effect of Meditation upon the beginner will substantiate this statement....
The results of the first step in the Meditation discipline, i.e., of Concentration, are often amazing. People "find" themselves; they discover hidden capacities and an understanding never used before; they develop an awareness, even of the phenomenal world, which is, to them, miraculous; they suddenly register the fact of the mind, and that they can use it, and the distinction between the knower and the instrument of knowledge becomes steadily and revealingly apparent.
At the same time there is also registered a sense of loss. The old dreamy states of bliss and peace, with which the mystic prayer and meditation had dowered them, disappear; and, temporarily, they experience a sense of aridity, of lack and of an emptiness which is frequently most distressing. This is due to the fact that the focus of attention is away from the things of the senses, no matter how beautiful.
The things that the mind knows and can record are not yet registered, nor is the feeling apparatus making its familiar impacts upon the consciousness. It is a period of transition, and must be supported until such time as the new world begins to make its impress upon the aspirant. This is one reason why persistence and perseverance must play their part, particularly in the early stages of the meditation process.
One of the first effects of the meditation work is usually an increased efficiency in the daily life, whether lived in the home, the office, or in any field of human endeavour. Mental application to the business of living is in itself a concentration exercise and brings notable results. Whether we achieve final illumination or not through the practice of concentration and meditation, we will nevertheless have gained much, and greatly enriched our life; our usefulness and power will be enormously increased and our sphere of influence widened.
...Anyone who is not purely emotional, who has a fair education, and who is willing to work with perseverance, can approach the study of meditation with good courage. One can begin to organize one's life so that the first steps can be taken on the path towards illumination, and this organization is one of the most difficult of steps. It is well to remember that all initial steps are hard, for the habits and rhythms of many years have to be offset. But once these have been taken and mastered, the work becomes easier.
To sum up, therefore,...the answer to our question is as follows:
First: We accept the hypothesis that there is a soul, and that that soul can be cognised by the person who can train and control the mind.
Second: Upon the basis of this hypothesis, we begin to co-ordinate the three aspects of the lower nature, and to unify mind, emotion and physical body into an organised and comprehended Whole. This we do through the practice of concentration.
Third: As concentration merges into meditation (which is the act of prolonged concentration) the imposition of the will of the soul, upon the mind, begins to be felt. Little by little the soul, the mind and the brain are swept into a close rapport. First, the mind controls the brain and the emotional nature. Then the soul controls the mind. The first is brought about through concentration. The second through meditation.
Out of this sequence of activities, the interested investigator will awaken to the realization that there is a real work to be done and that the primary qualification needed is perseverance....The organization of the thought life at all times everywhere, and, secondly, the practice of concentration, regularly, every day, at some set time, if possible, make for the one-pointed attitude, and these two together spell success.
(Ibid., pp. 199-206)
Is it necessary to withdraw into the solitudes to evoke the soul?
Most of us live in the midst of conditions in which complete peace and quiet are utterly impossible; and the solution in today's world lies in a right understanding of our problem and of the privilege which is ours in demonstrating a newer aspect of an old truth.
We belong, in the West, to a younger race. In the old, old East, the few adventurous pioneers sought seclusion and ascertained for us the opportunities, and safeguarded for us the rules. They held in safety for us the technique until such time as the masses of people were ready for a move forward in their numbers, and not in their ones and twos.
That time has now come. In the stress...of modern living...men and women everywhere can and do find the centre of peace within themselves, and they can and do enter into that state of silent positive concentration which enables them to reach the same goal, and attain the same knowledge, and enter into the same Light to which the great Individuals of the race have borne witness.
The secluded point to which one withdraws, is found to lie within oneself; the silent place in which the life of the soul is contacted is that point within the head where soul and body meet....Those who can train themselves to be sufficiently one-pointed can withdraw their thoughts at any time and in any place to a centre within themselves, and in this centre within the head the great work of at-one-ment is carried forward. ( Ibid., pp. 208-10)
True concentration grows out of a concentrated, thought-governed life, and the first step for aspirants is to begin to organise their daily life, regulate their activities, and become focused and one-pointed in their manner of living. This is possible to all who care enough to make the needed effort and who can carry it forward with perseverance....
When we can organise and re-arrange our lives, leaving out the non-essential activities, we prove our mettle and the strength of our desire. ...Therefore, no neglect of duty is possible to the one-pointed person. Duties to family and friends and to one's business or profession will be more perfectly and efficiently performed....
C. The Mechanics of the Meditation Process
The hypothesis upon which the theories here outlined are based might be expressed in the following propositions:
One: The centre of energy through which the soul works is the upper brain. During meditation, if effective, energy from the soul pours into the brain, and has a definite effect upon the nervous system. If, however, the mind is not controlled and the emotional nature dominates (as in the case of the pure mystic) the effect makes itself felt primarily in the feeling apparatus, the emotional states of being.
When the mind is the dominant factor, then the thought apparatus, in the higher brain, is swung into an organised activity. The one who meditates acquires a new capacity to think clearly, synthetically and potently....
Two: In the region of the pituitary body, we have the seat of the lower faculties, when co-ordinated in the higher type of human being. Here they are co-ordinated and synthesised, and as we have been told by certain reputable schools of psychologists and endocrinologists here are to be found the emotions and the more concrete aspects of the mind (growing out of racial habits and inherited instincts, and, hence, calling for no exercise of the creative or higher mind)....
Three: When the personality the sum-total of physical, emotional and mental states is of a high order, then the pituitary body functions with increased efficiency, and the vibration of the centre of energy in its neighbourhood becomes very powerful. It should be noted that according to this theory, when the personality is of a low order, when the reactions are mainly instinctual and the mind is practically non- functioning, then the centre of energy is in the neighbourhood of the solar plexus, and the man is more animal in nature.
Four: The centre in the region of the pineal gland, and the higher brain, are brought into activity through learning to focus the attentive consciousness in the head....
The various avenues of sense perception are brought into a quiescent condition. The consciousness of the real man no longer surges outwards along its five avenues of contact. The five senses are dominated by the sixth sense, the mind, and all the consciousness and the perceptive faculty of the aspirant is synthesised in the head, and turns inward and upward. The psychic nature is thereby subjugated and the mental plane becomes the field of man's activity. This withdrawal or abstracting process proceeds in stages:
1. The withdrawal of the physical consciousness, or perception through hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell. These modes of perception become temporarily dormant, and the perception becomes simply mental and the brain consciousness is all that is active on the physical plane.
2. The withdrawal of the consciousness into the region of the pineal gland, so that the point of realisation is centralised in the region between the middle of the forehead and the pineal gland.
Five: When this has been done, and the aspirant is acquiring the ability so to focus in the head, the result of this process of abstraction is as follows: The five senses are being steadily synthesised by the sixth sense, the mind. This is the co-ordinating factor. Later it is realised that the soul has an analogous function. The three-fold personality is thus brought into a direct line of communication with the soul, and...in time the one who meditates becomes unconscious of the limitations of the body nature, and the brain can be directly impressed by the soul, via the mind. The brain consciousness is held in a positive waiting condition with all its reactions to the phenomenal world utterly, though temporarily, inhibited.
Sixth: The high grade intellectual personality, with its focus of attention in the region of the pituitary body, begins to vibrate in unison with the higher centre in the region of the pineal gland. Then a magnetic field is set up between the positive soul aspect and the waiting personality which is rendered receptive by the process of focused attention. Then the light, we are told, breaks forth, and we have the illumined human being, and the appearance of the phenomenal light in the head.
All this is the result of a disciplined life, and the focusing of the consciousness in the head. This is, in its turn, brought about through the attempt to be concentrated in the daily life, and also through definite concentration exercises. These are followed by the effort to meditate, and later–much later–the power to contemplate makes itself felt.
This is a brief summation of the mechanics of the process, and is necessarily terse and incomplete. The ideas have to be accepted tentatively, however, before there can be an intelligent approach to the meditation work....
Having formulated our hypothesis and accepted it temporarily we proceed with the work, until it proves false, or until our attention is no longer engaged. An hypothesis is not necessarily false because it fails to prove itself in the time we deem proper. People frequently give up their pursuit in this field of knowledge because they lack the needed perseverance, or their interest becomes engaged elsewhere.
However, we are determined to go forward with our investigation and give the ancient techniques and formulas time to prove themselves. We proceed, therefore, to comply with the first requirements and endeavour to bring to bear upon life a more concentrated attitude of mind, and to practice daily meditation and concentration.
If we are beginners, or are possessed of an unorganised mind, fluidic, versatile and unstable, we start in to practice concentration. If we are trained intellectuals, or have the focused attentiveness that business training confers, we need only to reorient the mind to a new field of awareness and begin truly to meditate. It is easy to teach meditation to the interested business executive.
(From Intellect to Intuition, pp. 211-16)
D. Some Preliminary Suggestions
It is advisable to set apart a certain time each day for this particular work. At the beginning fifteen minutes is ample time. Let us be truthful with ourselves, and recognise things for what they are. The plea, "I have no time," is an utterly futile one, and indicates simply lack of interest. May it not be truly said, if anyone claims not to be able to find fifteen minutes out of the one thousand four hundred and forty minutes which constitute a day, that they are not particularly interested?
First of all, we shall endeavour to find time early in the morning for our meditation work. The reason for this is, that after we have participated in the happenings of the day and in the general give and take of life, the mind is in a state of violent vibration; this is not the case if the meditation is performed first thing in the morning. Then it is relatively quiet, and the mind can be more rapidly attuned to the higher states of consciousness.
Again, if we start the day with the focusing of our attention on spiritual things and on the affairs of the soul, we shall live the day in a different manner. If this becomes a habit, we shall soon find our reactions to the affairs of life changing and that we are beginning to think the thoughts that the soul thinks. It then becomes the process of the working of a law, for "as a man thinks so is he".
Finding a Place for Meditation
Next, we shall endeavour to find a place that is really quiet and free from intrusion. This does not mean quiet in the sense of freedom from noise, for the world is full of sounds; but free from personal approach and the calls of other people.
Aspirants to meditation sometimes talk much about the opposition they meet from their family and friends. In the majority of cases it is their own fault. People talk too much. It is nobody's business what we do with fifteen minutes of our time every morning, and there is no need to talk about it to our households, or to enjoin upon them that they must be quiet because we want to meditate.
If it is impossible to get a moment for morning meditation because of family commitments, let us find some time for it later on in the day. There is always a way to be found out of a difficulty, if we want a thing badly enough and a way that involves no omission of duty or of obligation. As a last resort, it is always possible to rise fifteen minutes earlier every morning.
(From Intellect to Intuition, pp. 216-18)
E. The Practice of Meditation
Having found the time and the place, we shall sit down in a comfortable chair and begin to meditate. The question then arises: How shall we sit? Is the cross-legged attitude the best, or shall we kneel, or sit, or stand? The easiest and most normal position is the best always.
The cross-legged attitude has been, and still is, much used in the Orient, and many books have been written on the subject. Some of the postures have relation to the nervous body and that inner structure of fine nerves, called by the Hindus, the nadis, which underlie the nervous system as recognised in the West.
The trouble with such postures is that they can lead to two rather undesirable reactions; they lead a person to concentrate the mind upon the mechanics of the process and not upon the goal; and, secondly, they frequently lead to a delightful sense of superiority, that has its basis in our attempt to do something that the majority is not doing, and which sets us apart as potential knowers. We become engrossed with the form side of meditation; we are occupied with the Not-self instead of with the Self.
So let us choose that posture that enables us, the most easily, to forget that we have a physical body. This is probably for the Westerner the sitting attitude; the main requirements are that we should sit erect, with the spine in a straight line; that we should sit relaxed (without slumping) so that there is no tenseness anywhere in the body, and that we should drop the chin somewhat, so as to release any tension in the back of the neck. Meditation is an interior act, and can only be performed successfully when the body is relaxed, rightly poised and then forgotten.
Having attained to physical comfort, relaxation, and having withdrawn ourselves from the body consciousness, we next note our breathing and ascertain whether it is quiet, even and rhythmic.
A note of warning should be sounded here as to the practice of breathing exercises, except by those who have first given years to right meditation and to purification of the body nature. In the ancient teachings of the East, the control of the breath was only permitted after the first three "means to union", as they are called, had been somewhat wrought out in the life, and then only under proper instruction.
The practice of breathing exercises has nothing whatever to do with spiritual development. It has much to do with psychical development, and its practice leads to much difficulty and danger. It is only here and there that, in the ancient days, the teachers picked a person for this form of tuition, and it was added to a training which had produced a certain measure of soul contact, so that the soul could guide the energies evoked by the breath for the furtherance of its objectives and for world service.
Therefore, we will do no more than see that our breathing is quiet and regular, and will then withdraw our thoughts from the body altogether and begin the work of concentration.
Visualisation and the Creative Use of the Imagination
The next step in the practice of meditation is the use of the imagination; we picture to ourselves the threefold lower man, aligned or in direct communication with the soul. There are many ways in which this can be done. We call it work in visualisation. It would seem that visualisation, imagination and will are three very potent factors in all creative processes. They are the subjective causes for many of our objective effects.
At the beginning, visualisation is mostly a matter of experimental faith. We know that through the reasoning process, we have arrived at an understanding that, within and beyond all manifested objects, there lies an Ideal Object or Ideal Pattern, which is seeking to become manifest upon the physical plane. The practice of visualisation, imagination and the use of the will are activities that are calculated to hasten the manifestation of this Ideal.
When we visualise, we use our highest conception of what that Ideal might be, clothed in some sort of material, usually mental, because we are not yet in a position to be able to conceive of higher forms or types of substance with which to envelop our Images.
When we make a mental picture, the mental substance of our mind sets up a certain rate of vibration, which attracts to itself a corresponding grade of mental substance, in which the mind is immersed. It is the will which holds this image steady and which gives it life. This process goes on, whether we are, as yet, able to see it with the mental eye or not. It does not matter that we are not able to see it, as the creative work is going on just the same. Perhaps at some time we shall be able to follow and consciously perform that whole process.
In connection with this work, at the stage of the beginner, some people picture the three bodies (the three aspects of the form nature) as being linked with a radiant body of light, or they visualise three centres of vibrating energy receiving stimulation from a higher and more powerful centre; others imagine the soul as a triangle of force to which is linked the triangle of the lower nature linked by the "silver cord" mentioned in the Christian Bible, the sutratma or thread soul of the Eastern Scriptures, the "life-line" of other schools of thought. Still others prefer to preserve the thought of a unified personality, linked to and hiding within itself the indwelling Divinity, Christ in us, the hope of glory.
It is relatively immaterial what imagery we choose, provided that we start with the basic idea of the Self seeking to contact and use the Not-self, its instrument in the worlds of human expression, and vice versa, with the thought of that Not-self being impelled to turn itself towards its source of being. When this has been done we can continue with our meditation work. The physical body and the desire nature, in their turn, sink below the level of consciousness, we become centred in the mind and seek to bend it to our will.
It is just here that we find our problem confronting us. The mind refuses to mould itself into the thoughts we choose to think, and rushes all over the world in its usual quest for material. We think of what we are going to do that day, instead of thinking upon our "seed-thought", we remember some one we must manage to see, or some line of action which calls for attention; we begin to think of some one we love, and immediately we drop back into the world of the emotions and have all our work to do over again.
So we re-collect our thoughts and start afresh with much success for half a minute, and then we remember some appointment we have made, or some piece of business which someone is doing for us, and again we are back in the world of mental reactions, and our chosen line of thought is forgotten. Again we re-collect our scattered ideas and recommence our labour of reducing the wayward mind to submission. But with practice we eventually become able to hold a mental one-pointedness with some degree of effectiveness.
How is this condition achieved? By following a form or outline in our meditation work which automatically sets a ring-pass-not around the mind, and which says to the mind, "thus far shalt thou go, and no farther." We deliberately and with intelligent intent set the limits of our mental activity in such a form that we are forced to recognise when we stray beyond those limits. We know then that we must retire again within the sheltering wall we have defined for ourselves.
The sincere enquirer will find set out below a meditation form to help develop concentration:
(From Intellect to Intuition, pp. 118-27)
F. Meditation Technique
- The attainment of physical comfort and control.
- The breathing is noted as rhythmic and regular.
- Visualisation of the threefold lower self (physical, emotional and mental) as
- In contact with the soul.
- As a channel for soul energy, through the medium of the mind, direct to the brain. From thence the physical mechanism can be controlled.
"There is a peace that passeth understanding: it abides in the hearts of those who live in the Eternal. There is a power that maketh all things new; it lives and moves in those who know the Self as one."
This is definitely a beginner's meditation. It has several focal points in it where a re-collection process and a re-focusing method is employed.
( Ibid., pp. 228-29)
This following of a form in meditation is necessary usually for several years, unless one has had previous practice, and usually even those who have arrived at the stage of contemplation test them- selves out quite often by the use of a form in order to make sure that they are not dropping back into a negative emotional quiescent state.
( Ibid., pp. 227)
There are many other meditation outlines which can bring about the same results, and many more that are for advanced workers. There are meditation outlines which are drawn up to produce certain specific results in particular people, but it is obvious that they cannot be included in such a booklet as this. A safe and general meditation form is all that is possible.
In all of them, however, the primary thing to bear in mind is that the mind must be kept actively occupied with ideas and not with the effort to be concentrated. Behind every word spoken, and every stage followed there must be the will to understand and a mental activity of a one-pointed nature.
In the sixth stage where the effort is made to meditate definitely upon a form of words, veiling a truth, there should be nothing automatic in the process. It is quite easy to induce in oneself an hypnotic condition by the rhythmic repetition of certain words. We are told that Tennyson induced in himself a heightened state of consciousness by the repetition of his own name. This is not our object. The trance or automatic condition is dangerous.
The safe way is that of an intense mental activity, confined within the field of ideas opened up by any particular "seed-thought" or object in meditation. This activity excludes all extraneous thoughts, except those which the words under consideration arouse.
For the puzzled beginner, who is discouraged by the inability to think in this way, Alice A. Bailey has the following suggestion: "Imagine you have to give a lecture upon these words to an audience. Picture yourself as formulating the notes upon which you will later speak. Carry your mind on from stage to stage and you will find that five minutes will have gone by without your attention wavering, so great will have been your interest."
The sequential method suggested above is a safe way for the beginner. There are others that will occur to the mind of the intelligent student. Whole worlds of thought are open over which the mind can range at will (note those words) provided they have a bearing upon the seed-thought and have a definite relation to the chosen idea upon which we seek to concentrate. It is obvious that each person will follow the bent of his own mind artistic, scientific or philosophical and for them that will be the line of least resistance.
G. The Raja Yoga Method of Meditation
(Preliminary suggestions for those who wish to explore beyond the beginners' stage.)
Patanjali was a compiler of teaching which, up to the time of his advent, had been given orally for many centuries. He was the first to reduce the teaching to writing for the use of students and hence he is regarded as the founder of the Raja Yoga School.
The date of the birth of Patanjali is unknown and there is a good deal of controversy upon this matter. Most of the occidental authorities ascribe a date between the years 820 B.C. to 300 B.C., though one or two place him after Christ. The Hindu authorities themselves, however, who may be supposed to know something about the matter, ascribe a very much earlier date, even as far back as 10,000 B.C....
The Yoga Sutras are the basic teaching of the Trans-Himalayan School to which many of the Masters of the Wisdom belong, and many students hold that the Essenes and other schools of mystical training and thought, closely connected with the founder of Christianity and the early Christians, are based upon the same system and that their teachers were trained in the great Trans-Himalayan School.
(The Light of the Soul, p. xiii)
The first step towards this unfoldment is concentration, or the ability to hold the mind steadily and unwaveringly upon that which the aspirant chooses. This first step is one of the most difficult stages in the meditation process and involves constant unremitting ability to keep bringing the mind back to that "object" upon which the aspirant has chosen to concentrate. The stages in concentration are themselves well marked and can be stated as follows:
- The choice of some "object" upon which to concentrate.
- The withdrawing of the mind-consciousness from the periphery of the body, so that the avenues of outer perception and contact (the five senses) are stilled, and the consciousness is no longer outgoing.
- The centring of the consciousness and its steadying within the head at a point midway between the eyebrows.
- The application of the mind, or the paying of close attention to the object chosen for concentration.
- The visualisation of that object, imaginative perception of it and logical reasoning about it.
- The extension of the mental concepts which have been formed from the specific and particular to the general and the universal or cosmic.
- An attempt to arrive at that which lies back of the form considered, or to reach the idea which is responsible for the form.
This process gradually steps up the consciousness and enables the aspirant to arrive at the life side of manifestation instead of the form side. It begins however with the form or "object." Objects upon which to concentrate are of four kinds:
- External objects, such as images of the deity, pictures or forms in nature.
- Internal objects, such as the centres in the etheric body.
- Qualities, such as the various virtues, with the intent to awaken desire for these virtues and thus to build them into the content of the personal life.
- Mental concepts or those ideas which embody the ideals lying back of all animated forms. These may take the form of symbols or of words.
( Ibid., pp. 243-45)
It is the realisation of the necessity for "objects" in concentration that originated the demand for images, sacred sculptures and pictures. All these objects entail the use of the lower concrete mind and this is the necessary preliminary stage. Their use brings the mind into a controlled condition so that the aspirant can make it do whatever he or she chooses.
The four types of objects mentioned above carry the aspirant gradually inwards, enabling the transfer of consciousness to be made from the physical plane into the etheric realm, from thence into the world of desire or of the emotions, and so into the world of mental ideas and concepts.
This process, which is carried on within the brain, brings the entire lower nature into a state of one- pointed coherent attention, leading to a concentration of all the mental faculties. The mind then is no longer scattering, unsteady and outgoing, but is fully "fixed in attention."... This clear, one-pointed, still perception of an object, without any other object or thought entering into one's consciousness is most difficult of achievement, and when it can be done for the space of twelve seconds, true concentration is being achieved....
Meditation is but the extension of concentration and grows out of the facility one achieves in "fixing the mind" at will on any particular object. It falls under the same rules and conditions as concentration and the only distinction between the two is in the time element.
H. The Need for Care in Meditation
Energy Follows Thought
The fundamental law governing all meditation work is the ancient one formulated by the seers in India centuries ago, that "energy follows thought". From the realm of ideas (or of soul knowledge) energy pours through; ...it seeps little by little into the dense minds of men and women, and to it can be traced all the forward movements of the present time, all organization of general welfare and of group betterment; all religious concepts and all outer knowledge of the Causes which produce objectivity....
Every form, whether it be the form of a sewing machine, of a social order or of a solar system, can be posited as the materialisation of the thought of some thinker, or of some group of thinkers. It is a form of creative work...and all the work has been concentrated with energy of some type or another. The student of meditation must, therefore, remember that he is always working with energies, and that these varying energies will have a definite effect upon the form nature.
It will be apparent, therefore, that those who are learning to meditate must endeavour to do two things:
First: They must learn to "bring through" into the mind and then interpret correctly what...has been seen and contacted, and later transmit it correctly and accurately to the attentive and impressionable brain.
Second: They must learn the nature of the energies...contacted and train themselves to utilise them correctly. A practical illustration of this can be given here. We are swept by anger or irritation. Instinctively we begin to shout. Why? Emotional energy has us in its grip. By learning to control the energy of the spoken word we begin to master that particular type of emotional energy.
In these two ideas of right interpretation and right transmission, and of right use of energy, the whole story of the meditation work is summed up. It becomes apparent also what is the problem confronting the student, and why all wise teachers of the technique of meditation urge upon their pupils the need of care and slow procedure.
( From Intellect to Intuition, pp. 240-42)
The Need for Discrimination
...Students have to learn to discriminate between the fields of awareness which may open up before them as they become more sensitive to impression. Let us look for a moment at some of the phenomena of the lower mind which students are so constantly misinterpreting.
They record, for instance, a rapturous encounter with the Christ or with some Great Soul, who appeared to them when meditating, smiled at them, and told them to "be of good cheer. You are making good progress. You are a chosen worker and to you truth shall be revealed," or something similar....What has really happened? Has the student really seen the Christ?
Here we remember the truism that "thoughts are things" and that all thoughts take form.... The power of the creative imagination is only just beginning to be sensed, and it is quite possible to see just what we desire to see, even if it is not there at all. The desire and strenuous effort of the aspirant to make progress opens up the psychic plane, the plane of vain imaginings, of desire and its illusory fulfilments....
The world of illusion is full of these thought-forms, constructed by the loving thoughts of people down the ages. The one who meditates, working through the psychic nature (the line of least resistance for the majority) comes in touch with such a thought-form, mistakes it for the real, and imagines it saying all the things he or she wants said....All of us are in danger of being deluded in just this way, when we start to meditate, if the discriminating mind is not on the watch, or if we have a secret longing for spiritual prominence, or suffer from an inferiority complex which must be offset....
The point that every student of meditation should always bear in mind is that all knowledge and instructions are conveyed to the mind and brain by one's own soul; it is the soul that illumines the way. The Teachers and Masters of the race work through souls....Therefore, the prime duty of every aspirant should be the perfect performance of meditation and service and discipline, and not the making of contact with some great Soul. It is less interesting, but preserves one from illusion. If one does this, the higher results will take care of themselves.
Should an apparition appear, therefore, and should such an entity make platitudinous comments, the student will use the same judgment as would be used in business or ordinary life with someone who came and said..."A great work lies in your hands, you are doing well. We see and know, etc., etc." The student would probably laugh and continue with the activity or duty of the moment.
( Ibid., pp. 243-48)
...The first world the aspirant contacts seems usually to be the psychic world, and that is the world of illusion. This world of illusion has its uses, and entering it is a most valuable experience, provided that the rule of love and of non-self-reference is carried there, and that all contacts made are subjected to the discriminating mind and ordinary commonsense.... It is useful to record what is seen and heard and then to forget about it until such time as we have begun to function in the kingdom of the soul; then we will be no longer interested in its recollection.
( Ibid., pp. 253-54)
Another effect of meditation, and a very prevalent one at this time, is the flood of so-called inspirational writings which are coming out, with high claims made for them, everywhere....They emanate from many different interior sources. They are curiously alike; they indicate a lovely aspirational spirit; they say no new thing, but repeat what has often been said before; they are full of statements and phrases which link them up with the writings of the mystics or with the Christian teaching; they may contain prophecies as to future events (usually dire and dreadful, and seldom, if ever, of a happy nature)....
How, it might be pertinently asked, can one distinguish between the truly inspired writings of the true knower, and this mass of literature which is flooding the minds of the public at this time?
...The true inspirational writing will be entirely without self-reference; it will sound a note of love and will be free from hatreds and racial barriers; it will convey definite knowledge and carry a note of authority by its appeal to the intuition; it will respond to the law of correspondences, and fit into the world picture; above all, it will carry the impress of Divine Wisdom and lead the race on a little further....
True servers of the race and those who have contacted the world of the soul, through meditation, have no time for platitudes; ...they are not interested in the good opinion of any person, incarnate or discarnate, and care only for the approval of their own soul, and are vitally interested in the pioneering work of the world. They will do nothing to feed hatred and separativeness or to foster fear....They will fan the flame of love wherever they go; they will teach brotherhood in its true inclusiveness, and not a system which will teach brotherhood to a few and leave the rest outside.
They will recognise all people as sons of God...;they will not regard one race as better than another, though they may recognise the evolutionary plan and the work that each race has to do. They will, in short, occupy themselves by building up the characters of people, and not waste their time in tearing down personalities, and dealing with effects and with results. They work in the world of causes, and enunciate principles. ( Ibid., pp. 248-53)
Problems of Over-stimulation
Students frequently complain of over-stimulation and of such an increased energy that they find themselves unable to cope with it. They tell us that, when attempting to meditate, they have an inclination to weep, or to be unduly restless; they have periods of intense activity wherein they find themselves running hither and thither serving, talking, writing and working....Others complain of pains in the head, of headaches immediately after meditating, or of an uncomfortable vibration in the forehead, or the throat. They also find themselves unable to sleep as well as heretofore.
They are, in fact, over-stimulated....These troubles are the troubles of the beginner in the science of meditation and must be dealt with carefully. Rightly handled, they will soon disappear, but if they are ignored they may lead to serious trouble. The earnest and interested aspirant, at this stage,...is so anxious to master the technique of meditation, that he ignores the rules given...in spite of all the teacher may say or the warnings received.
Instead of adhering to the fifteen minutes formula...the aspirant endeavours to force the pace and does thirty minutes; instead of following the outline, which is so arranged that it takes about fifteen minutes to complete, the effort is made to hold or prolong the concentration as long as possible...forgetting that at this stage of the training the objective is to learn to concentrate, and not to meditate. This results in a nervous breakdown, or a spell of insomnia, and the teacher gets the blame and the science is regarded as dangerous. Yet all the time, the meditator is the one in fault. When some of these primary troubles occur, the meditation work should be temporarily stopped, or slowed down....
In mental types, or in the case of those who have already some facility in "centring the consciousness" in the head, it is the brain cells which become over-stimulated, leading to headaches, to sleeplessness, to a sense of fullness, or to a disturbing vibration between the eyes or at the very top of the head. Sometimes there is a sense of blinding light, like a sudden flash of lightning or of electricity, registered when the eyes are closed, and in the dark equally as in the light.
When this is the case, the meditation period should be reduced from fifteen minutes to five, or meditation should be practised on alternate days, until such time as the brain cells have adjusted themselves to the new rhythm and the increased stimulation. There is no need for anxiety, if wise judgment is used....
In emotional types, the trouble is first sensed in the region of the solar plexus. The student is prone to irritation and to anxiety and worry; also, particularly in the case of women, there may be found a disposition to cry easily. Sometimes there is a tendency to nausea, for there is a close relation between the emotional nature and the stomach, as is evidenced by frequency of vomiting in moments of shock, or fright, or intense emotion. The same rules apply as in the first set of cases: common-sense and a careful and slower use of the meditation process.
Another result of over-stimulation might be mentioned. People find themselves becoming over- sensitive. The senses work overtime and all their reactions are more acute. They "take on" the conditions, physical or psychic, of those with whom they live; they find themselves "wide open" to the thoughts and moods of other people.
The cure for this is not to lessen the meditation periods these should be continued as per schedule, but to become more mentally interested in life, in the thought world, in some subject which will tend to develop the mental capacity....Focused attention to life and its problems, and some potent mental occupation will effect a cure....A rounded out development is needed always, and a trained mind should accompany growth in the spiritual life. ( Ibid., pp. 254-57)
...So many people, and particularly men, find that the animal nature requires attention when they begin to meditate. They discover within themselves uncontrolled desires, plus physiological effects which cause them acute trouble and discouragement. A person may have a high aspiration and a strong urge towards spiritual living and yet have aspects of the nature still uncontrolled.
The energy that pours in during meditation pours down through the mechanism and stimulates the entire sex apparatus. The weak point is always discovered and stimulated. The cure for this situation can be summed up in the words: control of the thought life and transmutation....
The eastern teaching tells us that energy, usually directed to the functioning of the sex life, has to be raised and carried to the head and throat, particularly the latter, as it is, we are told, the centre of creative work. To put it in western terms, this means that we learn to transmute the energy utilised in the procreative process or in sex thoughts and use it in the work of creative writing, in artistic endeavour, or in some expression of group activity....
Transmutation is not surely the death of an activity or a cessation of functioning on any level of consciousness for the sake of a higher. It is the right utilisation of the various aspects of energy wherever the Self feels they should be used for the furthering of the ends of evolution, and the helping of the Plan....
The aspirant to the life of the spirit conforms not only to the laws of the spiritual kingdom but to the legalised customs of the age and time. The physical every-day life is, therefore, regularised so that others recognise the morality, the uprightness and the correctness of the aspirant's presentation to the world. A home that is based upon a true and happy relation between a man and a woman, upon mutual trust, co- operation and understanding, and in which the principles of spiritual living are emphasised, is one of the finest aids that can be given to the world at this time. ( Ibid., pp. 259-61)
Meditation upon the Centres.
It might be well also...to refer to the dangers to which many are liable if they respond to the appeal of teachers for pupils to "sit for development". They are then taught to meditate upon some centre of energy, usually the solar plexus, sometimes the heart, curiously enough never the head.
Meditating upon a centre is based upon the law that energy follows thought, and leads to the direct stimulation of that centre and the resultant demonstration of the particular characteristics for which these focal points scattered throughout the human body are responsible. As the majority of people function primarily through the collected energies that lie below the diaphragm (the sex energies and the emotional energies) their stimulation is most dangerous.
In view of this, why take risks?...Why not learn to function as the spiritual man from that point, so quaintly described by the Oriental writers, as "the throne between the eyebrows", and from that high place control all aspects of the lower nature, and guide the daily life in the ways of God. ( Ibid., pp. 261-62)
The Need for Common Sense
The dangers of meditation are largely the dangers of our virtues, and therein lies much of the difficulty. They are largely the dangers of a fine mental concept that runs ahead of the capacity of the lower vehicles, especially of the dense physical...the absolute necessity is for the occult student to have a virile common sense for one of his basic qualities, coupled with a happy sense of proportion that leads to due caution and an approximation of the necessary method to the immediate need. To one therefore who undertakes wholeheartedly the process of occult meditation:
- Know thyself.
- Proceed slowly and with caution.
- Study effects.
- Cultivate the realisation that eternity is long and that that which is slowly built up endures forever.
- Aim at regularity.
- Realise always that the true spiritual effects are to be seen in the exoteric life of service.
- Remember likewise that psychic phenomena are no indication of a successful following of meditation.
The world will see the effects and be a better judge than the student himself. Above all, the Master will know, for the results on causal levels will be apparent to Him long before the man himself is conscious of any progress.
( Letters on Occult Meditation, pp. 93-94)