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CHAPTER EIGHT - THE UNIVERSALITY OF MEDITATION

CHAPTER EIGHT

THE UNIVERSALITY OF MEDITATION

"To every man there openeth
A Way, and Ways, and a Way.
And the High Soul climbs the High Way
And the Low Soul gropes the Low;
And in between, on the misty flats,
The rest drift to and fro.
But to every man there openeth
A High Way and a Low,
And every man decideth
The Way his Soul should go."

JOHN OXENHAM

[177]

WE HAVE outlined the method through which the mystic can become the conscious knower, and have defined the sequence of the development which eventually brings about illumination of the physical brain, and the living of an inspired life upon earth. We started with the man who, having exhausted the resources and the satisfactions of physical living and facing the inevitability of a great transition to another dimension of living, seeks the way to knowledge and certainty. He discovers — when he investigates with impartiality — that there have been at all times those who knew, those who had penetrated to the heart of the mystery of being, and who have returned carrying the assurance of the immortality of the soul, and of the reality of the Kingdom of God. They speak, likewise, of a method by means of which they have arrived at this apprehension of divine Truth, and of a technique which has made possible their transition out of the fourth into the fifth kingdom in nature.

We found that these illuminated men, right down the ages, testify to the same truth, and that they claim for this universal method that it brings them certain results that might be enumerated as follows:

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First: They achieve direct experience of divine realities, of transcendental truths and of the supernatural world. These appear, when contacted, to be as much a natural process and as vitally a part of the evolutionary development as are any of the processes to which the sciences of biology, of physics or of chemistry bear witness. Just as these three great sciences are occult to, and practically unattainable by, the average grade school student, so the higher metaphysics is occult and unattainable, even to the academician who lacks the needed open-mindness, the definite training and the equipment.

Second: Another development is the unveiling of the Self. Through the mental and spiritual education which advanced meditation practices confer, the problem of the psychologists as to the nature of the Self, the soul, the psyche, is solved, and the word can be resolved back into its original meaning — Psyche, the name of the soul. The process has been that of a gradual unveiling, and of a sequential approach nearer and nearer to the soul. The psyche emerges in its true being.

Back of matter, there can be found an immanent and potent factor which is responsible for the coherence of the form nature, and which constitutes the acting personality in the physical world. This can be regarded as the life aspect, and scholars are wrestling all the time with the problem of life, trying to arrive at its origin and its cause. More deeply seated still can be found the feeling, suffering, experiencing emotional aspect of the Self, working [179] through the nervous system and the brain, and governing most potently all activities in the world of human affairs. It feels pleasure and pain; it is engrossed with moods and emotional reactions to life, and with worries and desires of all kinds. This is the usual personal life for most of us, for we feel more than we think at this stage of human development. The reason for this is told us with clarity by Patanjali as follows:

"The sense of personality is due to the identification of the knower with the instruments of knowledge....The illusion that the Perceiver and that which is perceived are one and the same is the cause of the pain-producing effects which must be warded off." [cxiii] 1

We are told by him in another place that life experience and the process of physical plane living and feeling come from "the inability of the soul to distinguish between the personal self and the spirit. The objective forms exist for the use and experience of the spiritual man. By meditation upon this, arises the intuitive perception of the spiritual nature." [cxiv] 2

Through this vital experience and through the process of sensory desire and subsequent awareness, the man exhausts that aspect of his nature and penetrates deeper until he arrives at a third factor, the mind. At this point of investigation man now stands, and the close consideration of the mental processes and the study of mind reactions, their causes and objectives, are engrossing the attention [180] of psychologists everywhere. Amongst them are many schools of thought, holding widely opposing views, but that a something called the mind exists, and that it is increasingly influencing the race, is now universally recognized.

Whither do we go from this point? It has been a steady progression down the ages of the evolving human consciousness, and a steady growth of awareness of nature, of the world in which men live, and an increasing grasp of the Whole, until now the entire world is knit together through the radio, the telegraph and television. Man 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 them and spoken to humanity about them, but they are only utilized by the pioneering spirits of our race. 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 hundreds 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? From the standpoint of the mental world into which we have now penetrated, [181] leaving behind us the veils of the physical body and the psychical nature, may we not be able now to pass on to our next evolutionary development? Having arrived at some understanding of the nature of humanity and the mind, can we not begin to grasp the nature of the intuition and to function in another kingdom in nature with as much realization and facility as we function as men? The Knowers say that we can, and they tell us of the way.

Third: In the language of some of the pioneers into the spiritual realm, the third result of meditation is that we find God. It is relatively unimportant what we mean in detail by that little word of three letters. It is but a symbol of Reality. Every world religion posits a Life that is immanent in form, and a Cause that has brought all things into being. Every human being is conscious within himself of the dim struggles (becoming more fierce as the intellect develops) to know, to understand, and answer the questions of Why and Wherefore. The majority of men, no matter what their theology, when they stand before the portal of death, assert their belief in the Father of Beings and accept the implications of that Fatherhood. Let us regard God as that "High and Unknown Purpose" which can be recognized as the sum-total of all forms which express the Life, of all states of consciousness, and as the Life itself; let us regard Deity as that in which we live and move and have our being, and which is working out through every form in nature (including the human form), His own inclusive and [182]

synthetic Plan. The Knowers tell us that when they have arrived, through a method at a Way, and through the following of that Way have entered into a new state of being, the Divine Purpose and Plan stands revealed to them. They can enter into active participation with it, and become conscious and intelligent workers on the side of evolution. They know what is happening, for they have seen the blue prints.

Fourth: In the words of all schools of mystics in both hemispheres, these results are summed up in the words: Union with God, or At-one-ment with Divinity. God and man are at-one. The Self and Not-Self are unified. Tauler expresses it thus:

"In this union...the man does not attain to God by images or meditations, nor by a higher mental effort, nor as a taste or a light. But it is truly Himself that he receives inwardly, and in a manner that greatly surpasses all the savour, all the light of created beings, all reason, all measure, all intelligence." [cxv]3

All other factors below the spiritual reality are but ways to the centre, and must be entirely superseded in the contemplative state wherein the man slips out of the form consciousness into that of the spiritual reality, the soul. This, being a conscious indivisible part of the Universal Soul (paradoxical as those words may be), is devoid of all sense of separateness; hence the union with God is a realization of a fact in nature which has always been. The [183] soul consciously knows itself to be one with God. With this idea in our minds and with an understanding of the part that intellection has played, the words of St. Paul take on a new clarity, when he says: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God."

The results of this realized union (realized when in the contemplative state) is illumination of the mind and of the brain, provided that they have both been held positively steady and in a waiting condition. The illumination, when it has become frequent and, finally, when it can be drawn upon at will, produces eventually the life of inspiration.

If these stages are grasped and mastered and if the intelligent man or woman can be found willing to submit to the outlined technique, we shall have many coming forth as demonstrators of this divine science. The words that I used in my book, The Soul and Its Mechanism, will be found true that "there will emerge a new race, with new capacities, new ideals, new concepts about God and matter, about life and Spirit. Through that race and through the humanity of the future there will be seen not only a mechanism and a structure, but a soul, an entity, who, using the mechanism, will manifest its own nature, which is love, wisdom and intelligence." [cxvi] 4

It is interesting here to note the uniformity of the teaching of all religions and races as to the technique of entrance into the kingdom of the soul. At a [184] certain point on the path of evolution, it would appear as if all ways converge and all pilgrims arrive at the same identical position on the Way. From this point of junction, they travel the same way, and employ the same methods, and use a curiously similar phraseology. That the time has come when this should be definitely realized becomes apparent when we note the wide study of comparative religion, and the interplay between the races. These two factors are steadily breaking down the old barriers, and demonstrating the oneness of the human soul.

Speaking generally, this Way is almost universally divided into three main divisions, which are to be seen, for instance, in the three great religions, the Christian, the Buddhist and the Hindu faiths. In the Christian church, we speak of the Path of Probation, the Path of Holiness, and the Path of Illumination. Dr. Evans-Wentz of Oxford, in his introduction to Tibet's Great Yogi, Milarepa, quotes a Hindu teacher in the following terms:

"The three chief Tibetan schools, to my mind, mark three stages on the Path of Illumination or spiritual progress. In the first, the devotee is subject to injunctions and prohibitions...i.e., 'bound by the ordinances'. In the second, he adheres to traditional ways...wherein the ordinary restrictions are to a certain extent relaxed, although the devotee is not yet altogether free. In the third, the Adi-Yoga, when through yoga practices the Light is seen, there are no longer any restrictions; for the state of Buddha...has been attained. These three stages correspond, roughly speaking, with what the Tantras mean by [185] the...State of the Animal-Man...State of the Hero, and State of the Divine or Enlightened." [cxvii]5

The Method in Tibetan Buddhism

In studying the life of Milarepa, the Holy One of Tibet, who lived in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, A.D., we find it claimed for him that he attained union through the method of discipline, meditation and practice, and, ultimately, Illumination. We read as follows:

"He was one, who, having mastered the mystic and occult sciences, had communicated to him...continuously the four blissful states of ecstatic communion....

"He was one, who having attained to omniscience, all-pervading goodwill, and glowing love, together with the acquisition of transcendental powers and virtues, became a self-developed Buddha who towered above all conflicting opinions and arguments of the various sects and creeds....

"He was a being most diligent and persevering in meditation upon the Rare Path....Having acquired full power over the mental states and faculties within, he overcame all dangers from the elements without....

"He was a being perfect in the practice of the four stages of meditation (analysis, reflection, fondness, bliss. These are the four progressive mental states, leading to complete concentration of mind, producing ecstatic illumination)....

"He was a most learned professor in the Science of the Mind, having proved the Mind to be, beyond dispute, the Beginning and End of all visible phenomena, both material and spiritual, the Rays whereof, being allowed to shine unobstructedly, develop themselves, as he knew, into the three-fold [186] manifestation of the Universal Divine Being, through their own free, inherent power." [cxviii] 6

Thus we have the same procedure — mental activity, contemplation, union and illumination.

The Method in Chinese Buddhism

One of the main contributions to the process of enlightenment is an understanding of the way in which the Buddha found the Light. It demonstrates in a most remarkable way the use of the mind to overcome ignorance and its subsequent futility to carry a man on into the world of Light and spiritual being. Dr. Suzuki, Professor of Zen Buddhism at the Buddhist College at Kyoto, tells us about it in the following illuminating paragraphs. He tells us that it was through "supreme perfect knowledge" that the Buddha arrived at the wisdom which changed him from a Bodhisattva into a Buddha. This knowledge is

"...a faculty both intellectual and spiritual, through the operation of which the soul is enabled to break the fetters of intellection. The latter is always dualistic inasmuch as it is cognisant of subject and object, but in the Prajña which is exercised 'in unison with one-thought-viewing' there is no separation between knower and known, these are all viewed in one thought, and enlightenment is the outcome of this....

"Enlightenment we can thus see is an absolute state of mind in which no 'discrimination'...takes place, and it requires a great mental effort to realize this state of viewing [187] all things 'in one thought'. In fact our logical as well as practical consciousness is too given up to analysis and ideation; that is to say, we cut up realities into elements in order to understand them; but when they are put together to make the original whole, its elements stand out too conspicuously defined, and we do not view the whole 'in one thought'. And as it is only when 'one thought' is reached that we have enlightenment, an effort is to be made to go beyond our relative empirical consciousness....The most important fact that lies behind the experience of Enlightenment, therefore, is that the Buddha made the most strenuous attempt to solve the problem of Ignorance and his utmost will-power was brought forth to bear upon a successful issue of the struggle....Enlightenment therefore must involve the will as well as the intellect. It is an act of intuition born of the will....The Buddha attained this end when a new insight came upon him at the end of his ever-circulatory reasoning from decay and death to Ignorance and from Ignorance to decay and death....But he had an indomitable will; he wanted, with the utmost efforts of his will, to get into the very truth of the matter; he knocked and knocked until the doors of Ignorance gave way; and they burst open to a new vista never before presented to his intellectual vision." [cxix]7

Earlier he points out that the attainment of Nirvana is after all essentially the affirmation and realization of Unity. In the same essays we find the words:

"They (Buddhists) finally found out that Enlightenment was not a thing exclusively belonging to the Buddha, but that each one of us could attain it if he got rid of ignorance by abandoning the dualistic conception of life and of the world; they further concluded that Nirvana was not vanishing into a state of absolute non-existence which [188] was an impossibility as long as we had to reckon with the actual facts of life, and that Nirvana in its ultimate signification was an affirmation — an affirmation beyond opposites of all kinds." [cxx]8

The term Prajña used above is very interesting. It is "the presence in every individual of a faculty....This is the principle which makes Enlightenment possible in us as well as in the Buddha. Without Prajña there could be no enlightenment, which is the highest spiritual power in our possession. The intellect...is relative in its activity....The Buddha before his Enlightenment was an ordinary mortal, and we, ordinary mortals, will be Buddhas the moment our mental eyes open in Enlightenment." [cxxi] 9

Thus we have the mind focussed and used to its utmost capacity, and then the cessation of its work. Next comes the use of the will to hold the mind steady in the light, and then — the Vision, Enlightenment, Illumination!

The Method in Hindu Yoga

The Hindus have analyzed the process of mental approach to Reality, and the part the mind should play, more clearly, perhaps, than any other group of thinkers. Shankarâchârya tells us that:

"The Yogi, whose intellect is perfect, contemplates all things as dwelling within himself (in his own 'Self,' without [189] any distinction of outer and inner), and thus, by the eye of Knowledge (Jnána-chaksus, an expression which might be rendered fairly accurately as 'intellectual intuition'), he perceives (or rather conceives, not rationally or discursively, but by a direct awareness and an immediate 'assent') that everything is Atma." [cxxii] 10

The Yogi, or the one who has achieved union (for Yoga is the science of union) knows himself as he is in reality. He finds, when ignorance gives place to transcendental awareness, that he is identified with Brahma, the Eternal Cause, the One and the Alone. He knows himself to be, past all controversy, God — God immanent and God transcendent. The seer goes on to tell us that

"He is 'the supreme Brahma which is eternal, pure, free, alone (in Its absolute perfection), incessantly filled with Beatitude, without duality, (unconditioned) Principle of all existence, knowing (without this Knowledge implying any distinction of subject and object, which would be contrary to 'non-duality'), and without end'.

"He is Brahma, by which all things are illumined (partaking of Its essence according to their degrees of reality), the Light of which causes the sun to shine and all luminous bodies, but which is not made manifest by their light.

"The 'Self' being enlightened by meditation...,then burning with the fire of Knowledge (realizing its essential identity with the Supreme Light), is delivered from all accidents,...and shines in its own splendour like gold which is purified in fire.

"When the sun of spiritual Knowledge arises in the heart's heaven (that is to say at the centre of the being...), it dispels the darkness (of ignorance veiling the [190] single absolute Reality), it pervades all, envelops all, and illumines all." [cxxiii] 11

Father Maréchal tells us that the

"... psychological experience lived by the contemplative passes through the two phases of mental concentration and unconsciousness described by M. Oltramare, according to the Sarvadarsanasangraha: 'It is in two successive phases that the Yogi saps by anticipation the basis of further existences and effaces the impressions that determine the present existence. In the first it is conscious...; thought, then, is exclusively attentive to its proper object, and all the modifications of the thinking principle are suspended in the degree that they depend on exterior things; the fruits it gains under this form are either visible — the cessation of suffering — or invisible — immediate perception of Being which is the object of the meditation....The second period of Yoga is that in which it is unconscious...the thinking organ is resolved into its cause...the feeling of personality is lost; the subject who is meditating, the object on which his thought dwells, the act of meditation itself, make but one thing...." [cxxiv]12

Patanjali, the greatest teacher of the science of Yoga in the world, has summed up the final stages in his fourth Book in the following words:

"The state of isolated unity (withdrawn into the true nature of the Self) is the reward of the man who can discriminate between the mind stuff and the Self, or spiritual man.

"The state of isolated unity becomes possible when the three qualities of matter (the three gunas or potencies of [191] nature) no longer exercise any hold over the Self. The pure spiritual consciousness withdraws into the One.

"When the spiritual intelligence which stands alone and freed from objects, reflects itself in the mind stuff, then comes awareness of the Self....The mind then tends towards...increasing illumination..." [cxxv]13

Here again the same idea. The use of the mind, final withdrawal from the mind consciousness, and the realization of unity. This tends to steady illumination.

The Method of Sufism

The writings of the Sufis are much veiled in imagery and symbolism and have a stronger sense of duality than perhaps any other religious esoteric system, except the Christian mystical writings. But there emerges even from them the same expression of truth and the same basic method. The following excerpts from the oldest Persian Treatise on Sufism will show. It is interesting to note that those writings persist the longest and show the most wide usefulness which come from those who are Knowers, and who can relate their experience of divinity in such a way that they can teach and outline, as well as declare and affirm.

"The first step in unification is the annihilation of separation because separation is the pronouncement that one has become separated from imperfections, while unification is the declaration of a thing's unity....Accordingly, the first step in unification is to deny that God has a partner and to put admixture aside....

[192] "Our principles in unification are five; the removal of phenomenality, and the affirmation of eternity, and departure from familiar haunts, and separation from brethren and forgetfulness of what is known and unknown.

"The removal of phenomenality consists in denying that phenomena have any connection with unification or that they can possibly attain to His holy essence; and the affirmation of eternity consists in being convinced that God always existed...; and departure from familiar haunts means, for the novice, departure from the habitual pleasures of the lower soul and the forms of this world, and for the adept, departure from lofty stations and glorious states and exalted miracles; and separation from brethren means turning away from the society of mankind and turning towards the society of God, since any thought of other than God is a veil and an imperfection, and the more a man's thoughts are associated with other than God the more is he veiled from God, because it is universally agreed that unification is the concentration of thoughts, whereas to be content with other than God is a sign of dispersion of thought...." [cxxvi]14

Again we find these words:

"One of the Shaykhs says: 'Four things are necessary to him who prays: annihilation of the lower soul, loss of the natural powers, purity of the inmost heart, and perfect contemplation.' Annihilation of the lower soul is to be attained only by concentration of thought; loss of the natural powers only by affirmation of the Divine Majesty, which involves the destruction of all that is other than God; purity of the inmost heart only by love; and perfect contemplation only by purity of the inmost heart." [cxxvii] 15

Thus again we have the same truth.

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The Method in Christianity

It is, of course, easy to find many passages which link the way of the Christian Knower with that of his brother in the East. They bear witness to the same efficacy of method and they too use the intellect just as far as it will go and then suspend all effort whilst a new condition of being is instituted and a new state of awareness supervenes. St. Augustine says: "Just as that is ineffable out of which the Son leaps from the Father in the first procession, so there exists some occult thing behind the first procession, intellect and will." Meister Eckhart links himself with the Oriental Knowers in the following words:

"Intellect is the highest power of the soul and therewith the soul grasps the divine good. Free will is the power of relishing the divine good which intellect makes known to it. The spark of the soul is the light of God's reflection, which is always looking back to God. The arcanum of the mind is the sum-total, as it were, of all the divine good and divine gifts in the innermost essence of the soul, which is as a bottomless well of divine goodness.

"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 and all to unity so that the soul may be alone with nothing flowing into her but sheer divinity, flowing here into itself.

"When a man's mind has lost touch with everything, then, and not till then, it comes in touch with God.

"In this inflowing grace there forthwith arises that light of the mind into which God is sending a ray of his unclouded splendour. In this powerful light a mortal is as far [194] above his fellows as a live man is above his shadow on the wall.

"The man of the soul, transcending his angelic mode and guided by the intellect, pierces to the source whence flowed the soul. Intellect itself is left outside with all named things. So the soul is merged into pure unity." [cxxviii]16

Thus, the great schools of intellectual meditation (devoid in the final stages of feeling and emotion) all lead to the same point. From the standpoint of Buddhism, of Hinduism, of Sufism, and of Christianity, there is the same basic goal: Unification with Deity; there is the same transcendence of the senses, the same focussing of the mind at its highest point, the same apparent futility of the mind beyond that point to carry the aspirant to his objective; there is the same entering into the state of contemplation of Reality, the same assimilation into God, and awareness of identity with God, and the same subsequent Illumination.

All sense of separateness has disappeared. Unity with the Universe, realized Identity with the Whole, conscious awareness of the Self and assimilation in full waking consciousness with both interior and exterior Nature — this is the definite goal of the seeker after knowledge.

The self, the not-self, and the relation between the two, are known as one fact, without differentiation. God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Ghost, are realized as working smoothly together as one Identity — the Three in One and the One in [195] Three. This is the objective of all the schools wherein the mystic transcends feeling, and even thought, in the last analysis, and becomes united with the ALL. Individuality, however, remains in consciousness, but it is so identified with the sum-total that all sense of separateness disappears. Naught is left but realized Unity.