Navigate the Chapters of this Book




"Union is achieved through the subjugation of the psychic nature, and the restraint of the mind-stuff. When this has been accomplished, the Yogi knows himself as he is in reality."



ASSUMING the correctness of the theories outlined in the preceding chapters, it might be of value if we were to state clearly toward what definite goal the educated man aims as he enters on the way of meditation, and in what way meditation differs from what the Christian calls prayer. Clear thinking on both these points is essential if we want to make practical progress, for the task ahead of the investigator is an arduous one; he will need more than a passing enthusiasm and a temporary endeavor if he is to master this science and become proficient in its technique. Let us consider the last point first, and contrast the two methods of prayer and of meditation. Prayer can perhaps be best expressed by certain lines, by J. Montgomery, well known to all of us.

Prayer is the soul's sincere desire
Uttered or unexpressed,
The motion of a hidden fire,
That trembles in the breast.

The thought held is that of desire, and of request; and the source of the desire is the heart. But it must be borne in mind that the heart's desire may be either for the acquisition of those possessions [66] which the personality desires, or for those heavenly and transcendental possessions which the soul craves. Whichever it may be, the basic idea is demanding what is wanted, and the anticipation factor enters in; also something is eventually acquired, should the faith of the petitioner be sufficiently strong.

Meditation differs from prayer in that it is primarily an orientation of the mind, which orientation brings about realizations and recognitions which become formulated knowledge. Much confusion exists in the minds of many on this distinction and Bianco of Siena was really speaking of meditation when he said: "What is prayer but upward turning of the mind to God direct."

The masses of the people, polarized in their desire nature, and being predominantly of a mystical tendency, ask for what they need; they wrestle in prayer for the acquiring of longed-for virtues; they beg a listening Deity to assuage their troubles; they intercede for those near and dear to them; they importune high Heaven for those possessions — material or spiritual — which they feel essential to their happiness. They aspire and long for qualities, for circumstances and for those conditioning factors which will make their lives easier, or release them for what they believe will be freedom to be of greater usefulness; they agonize in prayer for relief from illness and disease, and seek to make God answer their request for revelation. But it is asking, demanding and expecting which are the main characteristics of [67] prayer, with desire dominant, and the heart involved. It is the emotional nature and the feeling part of man which seeks after that which is needed, and the range of needs is wide and real. It is the heart approach.

Four degrees of prayer might be recognized:

1. Prayer for material benefits, and for help.

2. Prayer for virtues and for graces of character.

3. Prayer for others, intercessory prayer.

4. Prayer for illumination and for divine realization.

It will be seen from a study of these four types of prayer that all have their roots in the desire nature, and that the fourth brings the aspirant to the point where prayer can end and meditation begin. Seneca must have realized this when he said: "No prayer is needed, except to ask for a good state of mind, for health (wholeness) of soul."

Meditation carries the work forward into the mental realm; desire gives place to the practical work of preparation for divine knowledge and the man who started his long career and life experience with desire as the basic quality and who reached the stage of adoration of the dimly seen divine Reality, passes now out of the mystical world into that of the intellect, of reason, and eventual realization. Prayer, plus disciplined unselfishness, produces the Mystic. Meditation, plus organized disciplined service, produces the Knower. The mystic, as we have earlier seen, senses divine realities, contacts (from the heights of his aspiration) the mystical vision, [68] and longs ceaselessly for the constant repetition of the ecstatic state to which his prayer, adoration and worship have raised him. He is usually quite unable to repeat this initiation at will. Père Poulain in Des Grâces d'Oraison holds that no state is mystical unless the seer is unable to produce it himself. In meditation, the reverse is the case, and through knowledge and understanding, the illuminated man is able to enter at will into the kingdom of the soul, and to participate intelligently in its life and states of consciousness. One method involves the emotional nature and is based on belief in a God who can give. The other involves the mental nature and is based on belief in the divinity of man himself, though it does it negate the mystical premises of the other group.

It will be found, however, that the words mystic and mystical are very loosely used and cover not only the pure mystic, with his visions and sensory reactions, but also those who are transiting into the realm of pure knowledge and of certainty. They cover those states which are unexpected and intangible, being based on pure aspiration and devotion, and also those which are the outcome of an ordered intelligent approach to Reality, and which are susceptible of repetition under the laws which the knower has learnt. Bertrand Russell deals with these two groups in a most interesting way, though he uses the one term Mystic in both relations. His words form a most fascinating prelude to our theme.


"Mystical philosophy, in all ages and in all parts of the world, is characterized by certain beliefs which are illustrated by the doctrines we have been considering.

"There is, first, the belief in insight as against discursive analytic knowledge; the belief in a way of wisdom, sudden, penetrating, coercive, which is contrasted with the slow and fallible study of outward appearance by a science relying wholly upon the senses....

"The mystic insight begins with the sense of a mystery unveiled, of a hidden wisdom now suddenly become certain beyond the possibility of a doubt. The sense of certainty and revelation comes earlier than any definite belief. The definite beliefs at which mystics arrive are the result of reflection upon the inarticulate experience gained in the moment of insight....

"The first and most direct outcome of the moment of illumination is belief in the possibility of a way of knowledge which may be called revelation or insight or intuition, as contrasted with sense, reason and analysis, which are regarded as blind guides leading to the morass of illusion. Closely connected with this belief is the conception of a Reality behind the world of appearance and utterly different from it. This Reality is regarded with an admiration often amounting to worship; it is felt to be always and everywhere close at hand, thinly veiled by the shows of sense, ready, for the receptive mind, to shine in its glory even through the apparent folly and wickedness of Man. The poet, the artist, and the lover are seekers after that glory: the haunting beauty that they pursue is the faint reflection of its sun. But the mystic lives in the full light of the vision: what others dimly seek he knows, with a knowledge beside which all other knowledge is ignorance.

"The second characteristic of mysticism is its belief in unity, and its refusal to admit opposition or division anywhere....

"A third mark of almost all mystical metaphysics is the [70] denial of the reality of Time. This is an outcome of the denial of division; if all is one, the distinction of past and future must be illusory....

"The last of the doctrines of mysticism which we have to consider is its belief that all evil is mere appearance, an illusion produced by the divisions and oppositions of the analytic intellect. Mysticism does not maintain that such things as cruelty, for example, are good, but it denies that they are real: they belong to that lower world of phantoms from which we are to be liberated by the insight of the vision...." [xxxvi]1

But the mystical way is a preparation for the way of knowledge and where the mystic stops in adoration of the vision and in yearning after the Beloved, the seeker after true knowledge takes up the task and carries the work forward. Dr. Bennett of Yale says, at the close of his book on Mysticism, "The mystic at the end of his preparation is simply waiting for an apparition and an event which he is careful not to define too particularly; he is waiting, too, with the full consciousness that his own effort has now carried him as far as it can go and that it needs to be completed by some touch from without." [xxxvii]2 This thought confines the whole idea within the realm of sensuous perception, but there is something more. There is direct knowledge. There is an understanding of the laws governing this new realm of being. There is submission to a new procedure and to those steps and passwords which lead to the door and procure its opening. It is here that meditation plays its part [71] and the mind steps in to fulfil its new function of revelation. Through meditation, the union for which the mystic yearns, and which he senses, and of which he has brief and fleeting experience, becomes definite and is known past all controversy, being recoverable at will. Father Joseph Maréchal in his notable book points out that:

"...the symbol vanishes, imagery fades, space disappears, multiplicity is reduced, reasoning is silent, the feeling of extension gathers itself together and then breaks down; intellectual activity is entirely concentrated in its intensity; it seizes without intermediary, with the sovereign certitude of intuition, Being, God....

"The human mind, then, is a faculty in quest of its intuition — that is to say of assimilation of Being, Being pure and simple, sovereignly one, without restriction, without distinction of essence and existence, of possible and real." (Italics by A. A. B.) [xxxviii] 3

To take the Mind and bend it to its new task as a revealer of the divine is now the objective of the convinced mystic. To do this with success and with happiness, he will need a clear vision of his goal and a lucid understanding of the results eventually to be demonstrated. He will need a keen formulation of the assets with which he approaches his endeavor, and an equally keen appreciation of his lacks and defects. A view, as balanced as may be, of himself and of his circumstances, should be gained. Paralleling this, however, there should be also an equally balanced view of the goal and an understanding of [72] the wonder of the realizations and gifts which will be his, when his interest has been transferred from the things that now engross his attention, and his emotions, to the more esoteric values and standards.

We have touched upon the point that meditation is a process whereby the mind is reoriented to Reality, and, rightly used, can lead a man into another kingdom in nature, into another state of consciousness and Being and into another dimension. The goal of achievement has shifted into higher realms of thought and realization. What are the definite results of this reorientation?

It might be stated first of all that meditation is the science which enables us to arrive at direct experience of God. That in which we live and move and have our being is no longer the object of aspiration, or a symbol to us of a divine possibility. We know God as the Eternal Cause and the source of all that is, including ourselves. We recognize the Whole. We become one with God by becoming one with our own immortal soul, and when that tremendous event takes place we find that the consciousness of the individual soul is the consciousness of the whole, and that separativeness and division, distinctions and the concepts of me and thee, of God and a child of God, have faded away in the knowledge and realization of unity. Dualism has given place to unity. This is the Way of Union. The integrated Personality has been transcended through an ordered process of soul unfoldment, and a conscious at-one-ment has been brought about between the lower or personal self [73] and the higher or divine self. This duality has to be first realized and then transcended before the Real self becomes, in the consciousness of the man, the Supreme Self. It has been said that the two parts of man have had for long ages nothing in common; these two parts are the spiritual soul and the form nature, but they are joined eternally (and here lies the solution of man's problem) by the mind principle. In an ancient book of the Hindus, The Bhagavad Gita, these significant words are found:

"Self is the friend of self for him in whom the self is conquered by the Self; but to him who is far from the Self his own self is hostile like an enemy". [xxxix]4

and St. Paul says practically the same thing in his desperate cry:

"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not....For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me (the real Self) from the body of this death?" [xl]5

This real self is God — God the triumphant, God the Creator, God the Saviour of man. It is, in the words of St. Paul, "Christ in us, the hope of glory." This becomes a fact in our consciousness and not simply a much hoped for theory.


Meditation causes our beliefs to change into ascertained facts, and our theories into proven experience. The statement of St. Paul's remains only a concept and a possibility until, through meditation, the Christ life is evoked and becomes the dominating factor in daily life. We speak of ourselves as divine and as sons of God. We know of those who have demonstrated their divinity to the world, and who stand in the forefront of human achievement, testifying to faculties beyond our scope of accomplishment. We are conscious, within ourselves, of strivings which drive us on towards knowledge, and of interior promptings, which have forced humanity up the ladder of evolution to its present status of what we call educated human beings. A divine urge has driven us forward from the stage of the cave dweller to our modern civilized condition. Above all, we are aware of those who possess, or claim to possess, a vision of heavenly things which we long to share, and who testify to a direct way into the centre of divine Reality which they ask us also to follow. We are told that it is possible to have direct experience, and the keynote of our modern times can be summed up in the words "From authority to experience." How can we know? How have this direct experience, free from the intrusion of any intermediary? The answer comes that there is a method which has been followed by countless thousands and a scientific process which has been formulated and followed by thinkers of all periods, and by means of which they become knowers.


The educational process has perhaps done its main theorizing in preparing the mind to undertake the work of meditation. It has taught us that we possess such an apparatus and has presented to us some of its ways of use. The psychologists have told us much about our mental reactions, and our instinctual habits. Now man must possess himself consciously of his instrument and pass out of the initial stages of the educational process into that classroom and interior laboratory where it is possible to ascertain God for himself as the objective of all education. Who was it said that the world is not a prison house but a spiritual kindergarten, where millions of bewildered children are trying to spell God? The mind sends us hither and thither in the work of spelling out truth until the day dawns when, exhausted, we retire within ourselves and meditate and then find God. As Dr. Overstreet says: "All our enduring quest then gets its explanation and its significance. It is the God operative within ourselves. As, then, we discover the more enduring values, or as we create them, we enact God in our own lives." [xli]6

Again, we might define meditation as the method whereby a man reaches the glory of the unveiled self by the process of rejecting form after form. Education is not only purveyed in our schools and universities. The greatest school of all is life experience itself, and the lessons we learn are those we bring upon ourselves by identifying ourselves with a succession of forms — forms of pleasure, forms of those [76] we love, forms of desire, forms of knowledge — the list is endless! For what are forms but those substitutes which we create and then set in front of ourselves as objects of worship, or those ideas about happiness and truth which others have created and after which we endlessly run, only to find them fade away into mist before our tired eyes. We seek satisfaction in phenomena of all kinds, only to find them turn to dust and ashes, until we reach that something — intangible yet infinitely real — which gave being to them all. He who sees all forms as symbols of reality is well on the way to touching the unveiled Self. But it takes a mental apprehension and a guided intuition to do this. Did Sir James Jeans have a glimpse of this when he said:

"Phenomena come to us disguised in their frameworks of time and space; they are messages in cipher of which we shall not understand the ultimate significance until we have discovered how to decode them out of their space-time wrappings." [xlii]7

Man is a point of divine light, hidden within a number of enveloping sheaths, as a light is hidden within a lantern. This lantern may be either closed and dark, or open and radiant. It may be either a light shining before men's eyes, or a hidden thing and, therefore, of no use to others. We are assured in that basic text book on meditation, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, of which an English paraphrase and commentary is furnished in my book The Light of the Soul, that through right discipline and meditation [77] "that which obscures the light is gradually removed," and that "when the spiritual intelligence...reflects itself in the mind-stuff then comes awareness of the Self." [xliii]8 At one point in the history of every human being there comes a momentous crisis when the light must be sensed, through a rightly used intelligence, and the Divine inevitably contacted. This Patanjali emphasizes when he says: "The transfer of the consciousness from a lower vehicle into a higher is part of the creative and evolutionary process." [xliv]9 Slowly and gradually the work of direct knowledge becomes possible, and the glory which is hidden behind every form can stand revealed. The secret is to know when that time has come and to seize the moment of opportunity. Meister Eckhart says:

"If the soul were stripped of all her sheaths, God would be discovered all naked to her view and would give himself to her, withholding nothing. As long as the soul has not thrown off all her veils, however thin, she is unable to see God." [xlv]10

Thus, East and West teach the same idea and in the same symbology.

Meditation is, therefore, an ordered process whereby a man finds God. It is a system, well-tried out and much used, which unfailingly reveals the divine. The important words here are "ordered process." There are certain rules to be followed, [78] certain definite steps to be taken, and certain stages of unfoldment to be experienced before a man can garner the fruits of meditation. It is a part of the evolutionary process, as we have seen, and like all else in nature it is slow but sure, and unfailing in its results. There is no disappointment to the man who is willing to obey the rules and work with the system. Meditation calls for self-control in all things, and unless the work of meditating is itself accompanied by the other requirements under the "ordered process" (such as self-control and active service) it will fail in its objective. Fanaticism is not required. This is made clear in the Bhagavad Gita:

"There is no meditation for the man who eats too little or for the man who eats too much, or for him whose habit it is to sleep too much or too little. But for him who is regulated in food, in work; regulated also in sleep and in waking, meditation becomes the destroyer of all suffering." [xlvi]11

Meditation can be regarded rightly as part of the natural process which thus far has carried man forward along the path of evolution from a stage but little removed from the animal to his present position of mental attainment, scientific achievement and divine unrest. Steadily his centre of consciousness has shifted, and steadily his attention has been focussed on an ever widening range of contacts. Man has already passed from the purely animal and physical state of being into that of an intensely emotional and sensory awareness and in this state millions [79] remain at this time. But other millions are progressing beyond this into another and higher field of awareness which we call that of the mind. Still another group, much fewer in number, are passing into a sphere where a universal range of contacts becomes possible. These we call the Knowers of the race. Through all methods employed runs the golden thread of divine purpose, and the way by which the transfer of the human consciousness into that of soul realization and soul awareness is effected is that of meditation.

This process of unveiling the Self through the negation of the form-side of life and the eventual inability of the various sheaths to hide it, can be described in terms of transmutation as well as in those of transference of consciousness.

Transmutation is the changing, and re-directing of the energies of the mind, of the emotions and of the physical nature so that they serve to reveal the Self, and not simply to reveal the psychical and body natures.

We are told, for instance, that we have five main instincts, which we share in common with all animals. These, when used with selfish and personal objectives, enhance the body life, strengthen the form or material nature and so serve increasingly to hide the Self, the spiritual man. These must be transmuted into their higher counterparts, for every animal characteristic has its spiritual prototype. The instinct of self-preservation must eventually be superseded by realization of immortality, and [80] "dwelling ever in the Eternal," man will walk the earth and fulfill his destiny. The instinct which causes the lower self to thrust its way forward, and force itself upward, will eventually be transformed into the domination of the higher or spiritual Self. The assertion of the little or lower self will give way to that of the higher Self. Sex, which is an animal instinct powerfully governing all animal forms, will give place to a higher attraction, and will, in its noblest aspects, bring about conscious attraction and union between the soul and its vehicle; whilst the herd instinct will be transmuted into group consciousness. A fifth instinct, namely the urge to inquire and to investigate, which characterizes all minds at a high or a low level, will give place to intuitive perception and understanding, and so the great work will be accomplished and the spiritual man will dominate his creation, the human being, and lift all his attributes and aspects into heaven.

Through meditation, spiritual knowledge grows up within the mind, and from the basis of ordinary knowledge, we steadily expand our understanding of the term, until knowledge merges into wisdom. This is direct knowledge of God by means of the mental faculty, so that we become what we are, and are enabled to manifest our divine nature. Tagore, in one place, defines meditation as "the entering into some great truth until we are possessed by it," and truth and God are synonymous terms. The mind knows two objects, we are told — the outer world through the medium of the five senses and the brain, and the soul [81] and its world through what we might call an introverted use of the mind and its intense focussing upon a new and unusual field of contact. Then "the mind stuff reflecting both the knower (the Self) and the knowable, becomes becomes the instrument of the Self and acts as a unifying agent." [xlvii]12 All things will stand revealed to the man who truly meditates. He will comprehend the hidden things of nature, and the secrets of the life of the spirit. He will also know how he knows.

Thus, meditation brings about union, or at-one-ment.

The Occidental mystic may speak of the At-one-ment, whilst his brother in the Orient may speak of Raja Yoga, or of Union and of liberation, but they mean the same thing. They mean that the mind and the soul (the Christ within us or the Higher Self) function as a unit, as a co-ordinated whole, thus expressing perfectly the will of the indwelling God. René Guénon, in his book Man and His Becoming, makes the following interesting comments on the word "union," which have a place here.

"The realization of this identity is effected by Yoga, that is, the intimate and essential union of being with the Divine Principle, or, if preferred, with the Universal. The proper meaning of this word Yoga is in fact 'union' and nothing else....It should be noted that this realization ought not strictly to be regarded as an 'achievement,' or as 'the production of a non-pre-existent result,' according to Shankarâchârya's expression, for the union in question, although not actually realized in the sense in which we here [82] intend it, exists none the less potentially, or rather virtually; what is involved is merely the effectual attainment by the individual being...of the consciousness of that which truly is from all eternity." [xlviii] 13

Through the ordered stages of the meditation process, a relationship is gradually and steadily established between the soul and its instruments until the time comes when they are literally one. Then the sheaths serve simply to reveal the light of the indwelling Son of God; the physical body is under direct control of the soul, for the illuminated mind transmits (as we shall see later) soul knowledge to the physical brain; the emotional nature is purified and simply reflects the love nature of the soul, as the mind reflects the purposes of God. Thus, the hitherto disorganized and separative aspects of the human being are synthesized and unified and brought into harmonious relation with each other and with the soul, their creator, their source of energy, and their motivating power.

This science of union involves the disciplining of the life, and an experimental system of co-ordination. Its method is that of focussed attention, of mind control, or of meditation, and is a mode of development whereby we effect union with the soul, and become aware of inner states of consciousness. This is summed up for us in the familiar words of Browning:

"Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise

From outward things, whate'er you may believe.


There is an inmost centre in us all,
Where truth abides in fulness; and around
Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in,
...and to know
Rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendor may escape,
Than in effecting entry for a light
Supposed to be without." [xlix] 14

The whole object of the science of meditation is, therefore, to enable man to become in outer manifestation what he is in inner reality, and to make him identify himself with his soul aspect and not simply his lower characteristics. It is a quick process for the unfolding of the reasoning consciousness, but in this instance must be self-applied and self-initiated. Through meditation, the mind is used as an instrument for observing the eternal states, and becomes in time an instrument for illumination, and through it the soul or Self transmits knowledge to the physical brain.

Finally, meditation brings about illumination. Meister Eckhart in his book of Sermons, written in the fourteenth century, says:

"Three kinds of men see God. The first see him in faith; they know no more of Him than they can make out through a partition. The second behold God in the light of grace but only as the answer to their longings, as giving them sweetness, devotion, inwardness and other such-like things....The third see him in the divine light." [l]15


It is this light that the process of meditation reveals and with which we learn to work.

The heart of the world is light and in that light shall we see God. In that light we find ourselves. In that light all things are revealed. Patanjali tells us that "when the means to union have been steadily practised and when impurity has been overcome, enlightenment takes place, leading up to full illumination." "The mind then tends towards increasing illumination as to the true nature of the Self." [li]16

As a result of meditation comes the shining forth of the light. This "illumination is gradual and is developed stage by stage." [lii]17

This we shall take up in greater detail later on.

Through meditation, as a consequence of all the preceding factors, the powers of the soul are unfolded. Each vehicle through which the soul expresses itself 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 physical eye, for instance, is the organ of physical vision. Clairvoyance is the same potency demonstrating in what is regarded as the psychical world — the world of illusion, of feeling and of emotion. But in the soul, this same power shows forth as pure perception, and infallible spiritual vision. The higher correspondences of the lower physical and psychical powers are brought [85] into functioning activity through meditation, and so supersede their lower expressions.

These 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 potentialities will then demonstrate forth as known realities.

The true mystic does not concern himself with the powers and faculties, but only with the Possessor of those powers. He concentrates upon the Self, and not upon the potencies of that Self. As he merges himself more and more in the Reality who is himself, the powers of the soul will begin to demonstrate normally, safely and usefully. The process is summed up for us by Meister Eckhart in these words:

"The soul's lower powers should be ordered to her higher and her higher ones to God; her outward senses to her inward, and her inward ones to reason; thought to intuition and intuition to the will and all to unity...." [liii]18

The words of Dr. Charles Whitby, the translator of Rene Guenon's book, Man and His Becoming, are pertinent to this chapter on the objectives of the meditation process. He refers to the

"... overwhelming testimony to the mutually-confirmatory agreement, on all essential points, of the Western, Hindu, Moslem and Far-Eastern esoteric traditions. The Truth we so rashly term unattainable awaits us there in [86] unchanged and changeless majesty, veiled indeed from hasty and scornful eyes but ever increasingly apparent to earnest unbiased seekers. According to Plotinus, the act of contemplation which essentially constitutes the life of every individual and that of mankind as a whole, ascends gradually and by a natural and inevitable progression from Nature to Soul, from Soul to pure Intellect, from Intellect to the supreme 'One'. If this be so, the present preoccupation with psychic or quasi-psychic matters of the more advanced representative of Western thought and science, may or rather must sooner or later be succeeded by an equally serious attention to matters of higher and even of highest import." [liv]19

Thus it will be seen that the claims made for meditation are very high, and the weight of 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 does no more unless we ourselves take some definite action. That there is a technique and a science of union, based on the right handling of the mental body and its correct use may be profoundly true, but this knowledge serves no purpose unless each educated thinker faces the issue. He must decide upon the values involved and set himself to demonstrate the fact of the mind, its relation in the two directions (to the soul on the one hand and to the outer environment on the other) and finally his ability to use that mind at will as he may choose. This involves the development of the mind as a synthesized, or common sense, and governs its use [87] 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.