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CHAPTER NINE - THE PRACTICE OF MEDITATION - Part 2

Verses should be chosen which are positive in their effect. Those that induce a waiting and negative state of mind should be avoided. A certain amount of realization and experience is necessary before such words (so frequently chosen by well-meaning beginners) as "be still, and know that I am God," can be safely carried into the meditation work. The call for too great a quiescence of the untrained personality, and the energy they evoke goes to the stimulation of the psychic nature. Mr. Comfort points this out most beautifully in the same letter.

"I believe that such meditations as 'be still and know I am God,' if strenuously indulged in may prove disastrous. More than one unripe personality has opened within itself receptivity to power which played upon its unfulfillments, arousing secret passions and ambitions beyond his power to cope with. The meditation 'I am God' might therefore, be said to be almost too direct and efficacious until such time as the workman knows exactly what he is about. One cannot play up to the Ego and continue long to act the part before men. The end of that is disease and desperate fatigue and loss of the way while shouting it to others. This is not a matter of getting something to show men. It is a matter of understanding what we are made of as personalities; of sensing the Key to a new potency altogether and of rendering with ardent entirety the whole human nature to the game of reaching and turning that Key. I realize that this paragraph touching the 'I am God' meditation contains a lure as well as a warning. It is quite true that the time must come for all of us when we shall operate from the office of the Ego, instead of from the personality, [232] but a fine integrity of the personality must be established before we can carry the power." [cxxxiv]6

The sequential method suggested above is a safe way for the neophyte. 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. We shall all formulate our own concepts in our own way. But the "Be still" attitude is not for us. We inhibit other mental activities by an intense interest, not by a mental stunning of ourselves into silence, or by the adoption of a method which induces trance or utter thoughtlessness. We are definitely thinking. Any person who is teaching meditation knows how difficult it is to induce the mystic to renounce his quiescent condition (which is the result of an endeavor to make the emotional nature one-pointed) and force him to begin to use his mind. How often one hears the complaint: "I do not like this technique; it is too intellectual and mental and not a bit spiritual." What they really mean is something like this: "I am too lazy to use my mind; I suffer from mental inertia; I much prefer emotional rhapsodies, and the imposition of a peaceful state upon my emotional nature. I feel [233] better. This way involves too much hard work." Why should spirituality be confounded with emotions? Why should not knowledge be just as divine as feeling? Of course, this way does involve hard work, particularly at first. But it can be done, if the initial laziness can be overcome, and those who have achieved know of its supreme value.

In concluding this attempt to indicate the initial work that the aspirant to this way has to undertake, it should be noted that the key to success lies in constant and unremitting practice. Often, in our work with students all over the world, we find the brilliant mind coming out second, because it lacks persevering effort, and the more ordinary mind suddenly breaking through into the realm of ascertained knowledge and leaving its more brilliant brother behind, because it possesses the capacity to keep on going on. Sporadic efforts get the aspirant nowhere; in fact they are definitely harmful, inasmuch as they breed a constant sense of failure. A little consistent and faithful work done every day, over a long period of time, will bring results infinitely greater than enthusiastic but spasmodic efforts. A few minutes of concentration or meditation work done with regularity, will carry the aspirant much farther than hours of effort given three or four times a month. It has been truly said that "meditation to be effective in producing results must not be merely a sporadic effort in which we engage when we feel inclined, but it is a steady unremitting pressure of the will."

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Another point to be remembered is that the last person to appreciate the results of his work is the student himself. The goal he has set himself is so wonderful, that he is more apt to be discouraged than satisfied. The only wise thing to do is to put all thought of eventual results and their phenomenal effects entirely out of the mind definitely, once and for all, and simply follow the ancient rules. This must be done without a constant plucking of oneself up by the roots to see how one is growing. Those around us will know surely and truly what progress we are making by our increased efficiency, self-control, stability and helpfulness. We have found it wise to gauge the growth of a student in the meditation work by the extension of his field of service and by the things his friends say of him, rather than by his own reports about himself. Our work is to go steadily forward, doing the demanded task "without attachment" as the Hindu aspirant calls it.

If success is to be achieved, there must be a genuine and persistent desire, a clear picture of the value of the results, a realization that the goal can be achieved and definite knowledge of the technique of the method. This, with the unremitting pressure of the will is all that is needed, and this is possible for every reader of this book.