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CHAPTER FIVE - STAGES IN MEDITATlON

CHAPTER FIVE

STAGES IN MEDITATlON

"What would you do within, O Soul, my Brother?
What would you do within?
Bar door and window that none may see:
That alone we may be
(Alone! face to face
In that flame-lit place!)
When first we begin
To speak one with another."

EVELYN UNDERHILL

[91]

We have studied briefly the objectives which we set before ourselves as we seek to reorient the mind to the soul, and through the union thus effected, enter into communication with a higher world of Being. We are seeking to utilize the equipment with which a long series of life experiments and experience has endowed us, and whether we undertake the work from the standpoint of the mystical devotee or the intellectual aspirant, there are certain basic requirements which must precede any definite exercises. The words of the Rev. R. J. Campbell state succinctly our story and our task. He says:

"For the purpose of realizing the nature of the Self, we have had to come out from our eternal home in God that we might strive and suffer amid the illusions of time and sense. We have to overcome before we can enter into the eternal truth that lies beyond all seeming. In that overcoming we have to master the flesh and magnify the spirit, despise the world to save it, and lose the life to find it."

Now let us consider the situation and the processes to which we must subject ourselves if the goal is ever to be attained. The preliminary requirements need only just be noted, for they are universally recognized and are met in part by every beginner, or [92] he would not be entering upon this particular phase in the age-long pursuit of truth. We are conscious within ourselves of duality, and of a state of warfare between the two aspects of which we are constituted. We are conscious of a profound dissatisfaction with physical life as a whole, and with our inability to grasp and understand the divine Reality which we hope exists. But it remains for us a matter for faith, and we want certainty. The life of the senses does not seem to carry us far enough along the path towards our goal. It is a fluid existence which we lead, being sometimes carried by our high desires to a mountain top of wonder on which we stay just long enough to get a vision of beauty, and then are hurled into the abyss of our daily environment, our animal nature and the chaotic world in which our destiny places us. We sense a certainty which ever eludes us; we strive for a goal which seems outside ourselves and which evades our most frantic efforts; we struggle and fight and anguish to achieve a realization to which the saints have testified and to which the Knowers of the race bear continuous witness. If our will is strong enough and our determination rooted in steadfast and undeterred perseverance, and if the ancient rules and formulas are grasped, we can approach our problem from a new angle and utilize our mental equipment in place of emotional application and feverish desire.

The heart activity has its place, however, and Patanjali in his well known Aphorisms, which have [93] guided the enterprise of hundreds of Knowers, says that:

"The practices which make for union with the soul are first, fiery aspiration, then spiritual reading and, lastly, complete obedience to the Master." [lv]1

The word "aspiration" comes from the Latin "ad"="to", and "spirare"="to breathe, to breathe towards," as Webster puts it. The word "spirit" comes from the same root. Aspiration must precede inspiration. There must be a breathing out from the lower self before there can be a breathing in by the higher aspect. From the standpoint of eastern mysticism, aspiration involves the idea of fire. It denotes a burning desire, and a fiery determination which eventually does three things for the aspirant. It throws a fierce light upon his problems, and constitutes the purificatory furnace into which the lower self has to go in order that all dross may be burned out, and it also destroys all hindrances which might keep him back. This same idea of fire runs through all books on Christian mysticism, and many passages in the Bible of a similar nature will come readily to mind. Willingness to "bear the cross," to "enter the fire," to "die daily," (it matters not what the symbology employed may be), is the characteristic of the true aspirant, and, before we pass on to the way of meditation and place our footsteps in those of the myriads of sons of God who have preceded us, we must gauge the depth and the [94] height and brace ourselves for the arduous climb and the fierce endeavor. We must say with J. C. Earle:

"I pass the vale. I breast the steep.
I bear the cross: the cross bears me.
Light leads me on to light. I weep
For joy at what I hope to see
When, scaled at length the arduous height,
For every painful step I trod,
I traverse worlds on worlds of light
And pierce some deeper depth of God." [lvi]2

We start with an emotional realization of our goal and from then pass on, through the fire of discipline, to the heights of intellectual certainty. This is beautifully pictured for us in the Bible in the story of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego. We read that they were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace, yet the result of that apparent tragedy was the releasing in their midst of the form of a fourth identity, whose appearance was like unto that of the Son of God. These three friends are symbols of the threefold lower man. The name Meschach means "agile," a faculty of the discriminative mind, the mental body. Shadrach means "rejoicing in the Way" and describes the transmutation of the emotional body, and the turning of the desire towards the Way: Abednego means "a servant of the Sun," and thus emphasizes the fact that the sole function of the physical body is to be the servant of the Son [95] (Sun), of the ego or soul (see Daniel III, 23-24). There is no escaping the fiery furnace, but the reward is commensurate with the trial.

The significance of the second requirement, spiritual reading, must also be grasped. The word, to "read," is very obscure in its origin, and philologists seem to think that two words are responsible. One is the Latin word "reri," to think, and the other the Sanskrit word "radh," to be successful. Perhaps both ideas are permissible, for it is certainly true that the man who can think the most successfully, and who can control and utilize his apparatus of thought, is the man who can the most easily master the technique of meditation.

Prayer is possible to all. Meditation is only possible to the mentally polarized man, and this is a point which needs emphasis and which frequently meets with opposition when stated. All men who are willing to subject themselves to discipline and transmute emotion into spiritual devotion can be saints, and many do so subject themselves. But all men cannot yet be knowers, for it involves all that the saint has achieved, plus the use of the intellect and the power to think through to knowledge and understanding. The man who is successful is the man who can think, and who can utilize the sixth sense, the mind, to produce certain specific results. Other suggested origins have to do with words denoting the taking of counsel or of advice, so that three basic ideas are brought out: — the attainment of success through the agency of the mind, the achievement of [96] perfection, the taking of counsel, and the utilization of all channels of information in order to gain knowledge.

This is fundamentally the meaning of Patanjali when he uses the expression translated "spiritual reading." It really signifies reading with the eyes of the soul, with the inner vision alert to find out that which is sought. It is realized that all forms are only symbols of an inner or spiritual reality, and spiritual reading involves the development of the faculty of "reading" or seeing the life aspect which the outer form veils and hides. This will be found to apply equally to a human form as to any other form in nature; all forms veil a divine thought, idea, or truth and are the tangible manifestation of a divine concept. When a man knows this he begins to read spiritually, to see below the surface and so contact the idea which gave birth to the form. Gradually, as he gains practice in doing this, he arrives at a knowledge of Truth and is no longer taken in by the illusory aspects of the form. This, in its most practical application, will lead a man for instance, to negate the form aspect which his fellowman may assume, and deal with him on the basis of the hidden divine reality. This is no easy thing to do, but it is possible through training in spiritual reading.

The third requirement is obedience to the Master. This is no servile attention to the commands of some supposed hidden Teacher, or Master, functioning mysteriously behind the scenes, as so many [97] schools of esotericism claim. It is much simpler than that. The real Master, claiming our attention and subsequent obedience, is the Master in the Heart, the soul, the indwelling Christ. This Master first makes His presence felt through the "still small voice" of conscience, prompting us to higher and more unselfish living, and sounding a quick note of warning when there is deviation from the strict path of rectitude. Later this comes to be known as the Voice of the Silence, that word that comes from the "Word incarnate," which is ourselves. Each of us is a Word made flesh. Later still, we call it the awakened intuition. The student of meditation learns to distinguish accurately between these three. This requirement, therefore, calls for that implicit obedience which the aspirant renders promptly to the highest impulse which he can register at all times and at any cost. When this obedience is forthcoming it calls forth from the soul a downpouring of light and knowledge, and Christ points this out in the words: "If any man shall do his will, he shall know..." (John 7, 17).

These three factors — obedience, a search for truth in every form, and a fiery longing for liberation — are the three parts of the stage of aspiration and must precede that of meditation. They need not be expressed in their fullness and completeness, but must be incorporated in the life as working rules of conduct. They lead to detachment, a quality which is emphasized both in the East and in the West. This is the freeing of the soul from the thralldom of the [98] form life, and the subordination of the personality to the higher impulses. Dr. Maréchal expresses the Christian intention along these lines as follows:

"This 'detachment from self', what does it mean?

"First of all, clearly, it is detachment from the lower and sensible Ego — that is, the habitual subordination of the fleshly to the spiritual point of view, the co-ordination of the lower multiplicity under a higher unity.

"Again, it is detachment from the 'vainglorious Ego,' the dispersed and capricious Ego, the plaything of external circumstances, the slave of fluctuating opinion. The continuity of the inner life could not accommodate itself to so fluctuating a unity.

"Above all, it is detachment from the 'proud Ego.' We must have a right understanding of this, for humility is rightly considered as one of the most characteristic notes of Christian asceticism and mysticism." [lvii]3

Here we have the subordination of the physical, emotional, and mental life to the divine project of achieving unity, emphasized, for capriciousness is a quality of the sensory apparatus, and pride that of the mind.

The meditation process is divided into five parts, one part leading sequentially to another. We will take these various stages and study each of them separately, for in their mastery we can trace the steady ascent of the conscious spiritual man out of the realm of feeling into that of knowledge and then of intuitive illumination. These stages might be briefly enumerated as follows: [99]

1. Concentration. This is the act of concentrating the mind, learning to focus it and so use it.

2. Meditation. The prolonged focussing of the attention in any direction and the steady holding of the mind on any desired idea.

3. Contemplation. In activity of the soul, detached from the mind, which is held in a state of quiescence.

4. Illumination. This is the result of the three preceding processes, and involves the carrying down into the brain consciousness of the knowledge achieved.

5. Inspiration. The result of illumination, as it demonstrates in the life of service.

These five stages, when followed, lead to union with the soul and direct knowledge of divinity. For the majority of those who take up the study of meditation, the stage which should engross their attention for a long time — practically to the exclusion of the others — is that of concentration, the gaining control of the mental processes. Aspiration is presumably present to some degree or there would be no desire to meditate. It should be pointed out, however, that aspiration avails nothing unless it is endorsed by a strong will, a capacity to endure, and patient persistence.

I. The Stage of Concentration.

In all schools of advanced or intellectual mysticism, the first and necessary step is the attainment of mind control. Meister Eckhart, writing in the fourteenth century, tells us that!

"St. Paul reminds us that we being planted in the likeness of God may attain to higher and truer vision. For this [100] St. Dionysius says we require three things. The first is, possession of one's mind. The second is, a mind that is free. The third is, a mind that can see. How can we acquire this speculative mind? By a habit of mental concentration." [lviii]4

This is in the strictest conformity with the eastern method, which aims first to put a man in control of his mental apparatus, so that he becomes the one who uses it at will and is not (as is so often the case) the victim of his mind, swayed by thoughts and ideas over which he has no control, and which he cannot eliminate, no matter how strong may be his desire to do so.

The same ideas that Meister Eckhart expressed can also be found in that ancient Indian scripture, the Bhagavad Gita:

"The mind wavers, Krishna, turbulent, impetuous, forceful; I think it is as hard to hold as the wind.

"Without doubt...the wandering mind is hard to hold; but through assiduous practice...it may be held firm.

"When thy soul shall pass beyond the forest of delusion, thou shalt no more regard what shall be taught or what has been taught.

"When withdrawn from traditional teaching, thy soul shall stand steadfast, firm in soul vision, then thou shalt gain union with the soul." [lix]5

The first step, therefore, is mind control. This means the power to make the mind do as you want, to think as you choose, to formulate ideas and sequences of thought under direction. The function of [101] the mind, in the majority of cases, is first of all to receive messages from the outer world, via the five senses, and transmitted by the brain. Hume tells us that the "mind is a kind of theatre, where several perceptions successively make their appearance." It is the seat of the intellectual functions, and a great recording centre for impressions of all kinds, upon which we act, or to which we refuse admission if we do not like them. The mind has a tendency to accept what is presented to it. The ideas of the psychologists and of science as to the nature of the mind are too much to touch upon here. Some regard it as a separate entity; others as a mechanism, of which the brain and the nervous system are integral parts. One school deals with it as "a sort of superior, nonphysical structure...capable of strict scientific study and liable to its own disorders." Some look upon it as a form of the self, with a life of its own; as a defense mechanism built up during the ages; as a response apparatus through which we contact aspects of the Universe otherwise untouchable. To some, it is simply a vague term signifying that by which we register thought or respond to vibrations, such as those incorporated in public opinion and in the books written throughout the ages. To the esotericist, it is simply a word standing for an aspect of man which is responsive in one direction — the outer world of thought and of affairs — but which could be equally responsive in another — the world of subtle energies and of spiritual being. This is the concept we shall hold in our thoughts as we study [102] the technique of meditation. Dr. Lloyd Morgan sums it up for us in such a way that all lesser definitions are included. He says:

"...the word 'mind' may be used in three senses; first, as Mind or Spirit in reference to some Activity, for us God; secondly, as a quality emergent at a high level of evolutionary advance; and thirdly, as a psychical attribute that pervades all natural events in universal correlation." [lx]6

Here we have the idea of the divine purpose, the universal mind, of that human mentality which distinguishes man on the ladder of evolution from the animals, and reference also to that universal psychical consciousness which pervades the animate and the so-called inanimate. It is with mind as a quality emerging at a high level of evolution that we as human beings deal. It is for us a mode or means of contact, receiving information from various sources, and by different means. Through the five senses, information is conveyed, and the man becomes aware of the world of physical phenomena and of psychical life in which he is immersed. Not only that, but the mind registers impressions emanating from other minds, and the thoughts of men (both ancient and modern) are conveyed to him through the medium of leading and the spoken word, through the drama, through pictures and through music. Most of it is simply registered and stored up, finding later expression as memory and anticipation. Moods, emotional reactions, feelings and desires, are also recorded [103] by the mind, whether of a high grade or a low, but with the average person that is all that happens. Very little real thinking follows upon the registering of information, and no clear formulation of thoughts occurs. The clothing of ideas with words which clearly express them is one of the functions of the mind, yet, how few people have ideas or originate really intelligent thoughts! Their minds respond to that which is conveyed to them from the outer world, but have no inherent or self-initiated activities of their own.

Therefore, the process at present controlling in the case of the average man is from the outside world inwards, through the senses, to the brain. The brain then "telegraphs" the information registered to the mind, which, in its turn, records it. That usually closes the incident.

But, in the case of the truly thoughtful, there is more than this. Upon the recording follows an analysis of the incident or the information, its correlation with other incidents, and a study of cause and effect. The "mind-stuff," as the Oriental calls it, is swept into activity, and thought-forms are created and mental images built in connection with the presented idea. Then, if desired, the clear thinking of the man is impressed upon the brain and so a return activity is instituted. But, in the case of the mystic and of the man who is beginning to meditate, something further is discovered. He finds that the mind, when properly governed and disciplined, is capable of wider and deeper responses; that it can become [104] aware of ideas and concepts which emanate from a deeply spiritual realm and which are communicated by the soul. Instead of impressions from the outer daily life recorded on the sensitive receiving-plate of the mind, they may come forth from the kingdoms of the soul and are caused by the activity of a man's own soul, or by other souls with whom his soul may be in touch.

Then the mind enters upon a new and fresh usefulness and its range of contact includes not only the world of men but also the world of souls. Its function is to act as an intermediary between the soul and the brain and to transmit to the brain that of which the man, as a soul, has become aware. This becomes possible when the old mental activities are superseded by the higher, and when the mind can be rendered temporarily insensitive to all outer calls upon its attention. This, however, is not brought about by any methods of rendering the mind passive and receptive, or by any system of "blanking" the mind, or stunning it into negativity, or other forms of self-hypnotism. It is caused by the expulsive force of a new and bigger interest, and by the one-pointed attention of the focussed mental faculties to a new world of phenomena and of force. This system is that of concentration, the first and most arduous step towards the illumination of the life.

The word "concentration" comes from the Latin words "con"="together" and "centrare"="to centre." It means the "bringing together or the [105] drawing to a common centre or focal point;" it connotes the gathering together of our wandering thoughts and ideas, and holding the mind firmly and steadily focussed or centred on the object of our immediate attention, without wavering or distraction. It involves the elimination of all that is foreign or extraneous to the matter under observation. Patanjali defines it thus: "The binding of the perceiving consciousness to a certain region is attention or concentration." [lxi]7

This necessarily involves a distinction between the Thinker, the apparatus of thought, and that which is to be considered by the Thinker. We need, therefore, to distinguish between ourselves, the one who is thinking and that which are use to think with, the mind. Then there comes in the third factor, that which is thought.

Students would do well at the very beginning of their meditation work to learn to make these basic differentiations, and to cultivate the habit every day of making these distinctions. They must distinguish always between:

1. The Thinker, the true Self, or the Soul.

2. The mind, or the apparatus which the Thinker seeks to use.

3. The process of thought, or the work of the Thinker as he impresses upon the mind (when in a state of equilibrium) that which he thinks.

4. The brain, which is in its turn impressed by the mind, acting as the agent for the Thinker, in order to convey impressions and information.

[106]

Concentration is, therefore, the power to focus the consciousness on a given subject and to hold it there as long as desired; it is the method of accurate perception, and the power to visualize correctly, being the quality which enables the Thinker to perceive and know the field of perception. Another word for concentration is attention, that is, one-pointed attention. It is interesting to note what Father Maréchal says in this connection. He points out that "attention is a direct path to full perception, to hallucination, or, more generally, to belief....It brings about an at least momentary unification of the mind by the predominance of one mental group....But this 'mental unity,' realized to some degree in the phenomenon of attention, is also the sole subjective condition which, we have seen, accompanies always the true or false perception of the real." [lxii] 8

The question may be asked, what is the easiest way to teach oneself to concentrate? One might reply, in the words of the French proverb: "Le meilleur moyen de déplacer est de remplacer;" — "the best way to eliminate is to substitute," and one way that may be employed is to utilize what has been called the "expulsive power of a new affection." To be profoundly interested in some new and intriguing subject, and to have one's attention focussed on some fresh and dynamic matter will automatically tend to make the mind one-pointed.

[107]

A second answer might be given: Be concentrated in all that you do all day every day. Concentration will be rapidly developed if we cultivate the habit of accuracy in all the affairs of life. Accurate speech should necessitate accurate attention to that which is said, read or heard, and this would necessarily involve concentration and so develop it. True meditation is after all an attitude of mind and will grow out of an attitude of concentration.

The objective, therefore, of all our endeavor is to train the mind so as to make it our servant and not our master, and to cultivate the power of concentration preparatory to true meditation work. The earnest student, therefore, will carry this close attention into the affairs of everyday life and will thereby learn to regulate his mind as an apparatus for his thought.

Let me emphasize here the necessity of a constantly concentrated attitude to life. The secret of success can be expressed in the simple words: Pay attention. In talking to people, in reading a book, in writing a letter, let us steadily focus our thought on what we are doing and so gradually develop the capacity to concentrate.

To this cultivated attitude there must be added definite concentration exercises, carried forward each day, with perseverance. This involves the fixing of the mind upon a particular object, or a chosen topic for thought. To this succeeds a process of steadily and quietly learning to abstract the consciousness [108] from the outer world and exoteric conditions and focus it at will on any subject.

The regular unremitting work of daily concentration gradually overcomes the difficulty of control and brings about results which might be enumerated as follows:

1. The reorganization of the mind.

2. The polarizing of the man in his mental, instead of his emotional vehicle.

3. The withdrawal of the man's attention from the sense perceptions and his learning to centre himself in the brain. Most people, like the animals, use the solar plexus.

4. The development of a faculty of instantaneous concentration as a preliminary to meditation.

5. The capacity to focus the attention unswervingly upon any chosen seed thought.

II. The Stage of Meditation.

Patanjali defines concentration as the holding of the perceiving consciousness in a certain region and meditation as the prolonged holding of the perceiving consciousness in a certain region. This implies only a difference in the time factor and would seem to make of both stages an achievement of control. Through the practice of concentration sufficient control should be achieved, so that the student is not bothered by the necessity of repeatedly recollecting his thought. Therefore, an act of prolonged concentration gives opportunity for the mind to act upon whatever object lies within the ring-pass-not of the region chosen. The choosing of a word or a phrase as the subject of the meditation establishes this ring-pass-not [109] and if the meditation is well conducted the mind never leaves its consideration of the object so chosen. The mind remains focussed and is continuously active during the entire meditation period. Moreover, the mind is not allowed to do as it pleases with the object, or seed thought. In concentration there should be a consciousness in the meditator all the time that he is using his mind. In meditation this consciousness of the mind being used is lost, but there can be no day-dreaming and no following of chance ideas which emerge in relation to the object of thought. The seed thought has been chosen for a purpose, — either for its effect on the meditator or for its effect in service upon some other person or in relation to some spiritual work, or in some phase of the search for wisdom. If the process is successful, there is evoked little or no reaction in the meditator, either of pleasure or absence of pleasure. Emotional reactions are transcended and the mind is, therefore, left free to act in its own right. The result is a clarity of thought never before achieved, because the mind in ordinary activity is always associated with and affected by desire of some sort. In this state of consciousness desire is transcended, just as later in the stage of contemplation, thought is transcended. When the mind is stunned into inaction by inhibition or persistent repetitions, it cannot be transcended in contemplation, nor used in meditation. To practice making the mind blank, is not only foolish, but actually dangerous.

[110]

In The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali we find these words:

"The gradual conquest of the mind's tendency to flit from one object to another and the power of one-pointedness make the development of contemplation." [lxiii]9

Meditation is the result of experience. It is the instantaneous attainment of an attitude of mind as a consequence of long practice. In the Bhagavad Gita we find it is stated that in all action the five following factors are involved:

"1. The material instrument.......... the brain

2. The doe....................................... the Self

3. The organ................................... the mind

4. The impulse............................... energy

5. Destiny....................................... Karma" [lxiv]10

Meditation is activity of a very intense kind and it will be found that all these five factors are involved. The material instrument which we have to use in meditation is the physical brain. Many people think that they must transcend the brain, reach some tremendous altitude and stay upon some pinnacle of thought until something transcendent happens, and they can then say they know God. What is really needed is that we should get control of the mind and of the brain processes, so that the brain becomes a sensitive receiver of the thoughts and desires of the soul, the Higher Self, as He transmits them through the medium of the mind. The mind is regarded as in [111] the nature of a sixth sense, and the brain as a receiving plate. We are already utilizing the five senses as avenues of perception, and they telegraph constant information to the brain. Through their medium, information as to five vast fields of knowledge, or of five ranges of vibrations, is made available to man. It is intended that the mind should serve a similar purpose. This is summarized for us by Meister Eckhart, and embodies the position of all the mystics in both hemispheres:

"First, see that thy outward senses are properly controlled....Now turn to the inward senses or noble powers of the soul, lower and higher. Take the lower powers first. These are intermediate between the higher powers and the outward senses. They are excited by the outward senses; what the eye sees, what the ear hears, they offer forthwith to desire. This offers it again, in the ordinary course, to the second power, called judgment, which considers it and once more passes it on to the third power, reckoning or reason....

"A man, moreover, must have a mind at ease...the body should be rested from bodily labor, not only of the hands but of the tongue as well and all five senses. The soul keeps clear best in the quiet, but in jaded body is oft overpowered by inertia. Then by strenuous effort we travail in divine love for intellectual vision, till, clearing a way through recollected senses, we rise past our own mind to the wonderful wisdom of God....Man rising to the summit of his mind is exalted God." [lxv] 11

Through the agency of the mind as a directed instrument, the soul can manipulate the impulses or thought currents. These forces pour into the field of [112] experience of the Thinker and he must learn to direct them consciously and to work with them, so as to produce the desired result.

The fifth factor reminds us that a certain stage of evolutionary development must be reached before true meditation becomes possible; certain work must be done and certain refinements in our instrument made, before a man can safely and wisely meditate. All men are not equipped to meditate with hope of complete success. This need in no way discourage any student. A beginning can always be made and a sound foundation laid. The control of the mental processes can be begun, and brought to a high point of achievement, making it possible for the soul to have an apparatus of thought ready to its use. Reacting to the three parts of the meditation, but reacting in a unified manner the physical or form nature has been studied, the quality animating it and the motive or cause of the manifestation of the form has been considered. At the same time there has been an ever deeper concentration, and a more intense meditation. The attention has sunk inward increasingly, and outer things have been steadily negated; this has not been accomplished through a passive attitude, but through one of a most keen and vital interest. The meditation has been positive in its method and has not led to a negative or trance condition. The mind has been busy all the time, but busy in one direction.

Finally, there comes the stage which is called [113] bliss, or identification. The consciousness is no longer focussed in the intellect but becomes identified with the object of the meditation work. This we will consider later.

We have, therefore, the four stages briefly summarized as follows and constituting what is called "meditation with seed:"

1. Meditation on the nature of a particular form.

2. Meditation upon the quality of a particular form.

3. Meditation upon the purpose of a particular form.

4. Meditation upon the life animating a particular form.

All forms are symbols of an indwelling life, and it is through meditation with seed that we arrive at the life aspect.

In A Treatise on Cosmic Fire the following words occur:

"The wise student regards all forms of expression as in the nature of symbols. A symbol has three interpretations; it is itself the expression of an idea, and that idea has behind it, in its turn, a purpose or impulse inconceivable as yet. The three interpretations of a symbol might be dealt with as follows:

"1. The exoteric interpretation of a symbol is based largely upon its objective utility, and upon the nature of the form. That which is exoteric and substantial serves two purposes:

[114]

"a. To give some faint indications as to the idea and concept. This links the symbol...with the mental plane, but does not release it from the three worlds of human appreciation.

"b. To limit and confine and imprison the idea and so adapt it to the point in evolution which the man has reached. The true nature of the latent idea is ever more potent and complete than the form or symbol through which it seeks expression. Matter is a symbol of a central energy. Forms of all kinds in all the kingdoms of nature, and the manifested sheaths in their widest connotation and totality are but symbols of life — what that Life itself may be remains as yet a mystery.

"2. The subjective interpretation or meaning is the one which reveals the idea lying behind the objective manifestation. This idea, incorporeal in itself, becomes a concretion on the plane of objectivity....These ideas become apparent to the student after he has entered into Meditation, just as the exoteric form of the symbol is all that is seen by the man who is just beginning. As soon as a man begins consciously to use his mental apparatus and has made even a small contact with his soul three things occur:

"a. He reaches out beyond the form and seeks to account for it.

"b. He arrives in time at the soul which the [115] form veils, and this he does through the understanding of his own soul.

"c. He begins then to formulate ideas and to create and make manifest that soul-energy or substance which he finds he can manipulate.

"To train people to work in mental matter is to train them to create; to teach people to know the nature of the soul is to put them in conscious touch with the subjective side of manifestation and to put into their hands the power to work with soul-energy; to enable people to unfold the potencies of the soul aspect is to put them en rapport with the forces and energies hidden in all the kingdoms of Nature.

"A man can then — as his soul contact and his subjective perception is strengthened and developed — become a conscious creator, co-operating with the plans of evolution and of God. As he passes through the different stages, his ability so to work and his capacity to get at the thought lying behind all symbols and forms increases. He is no longer taken in by the appearance but knows it as the illusory form which is veiling, imprisoning and confining some thought.

"3. The spiritual meaning is that which lies behind the subjective sense and which is veiled by the idea or thought just as the idea is veiled by the form it assumes when in exoteric manifestation. This can be regarded as the purpose which prompted the idea and led to its emanation into the world of forms. It is the central [116] dynamic energy which is responsible for the subjective activity...." [lxvi] 12

It is this process of arriving at the reality behind each and every form which is the result of meditation with seed. It involves the realization of these three aspects of the divine Life. This is why students are advised to take some specific words or a verse from some sacred book for their meditation so as to train them in their power to get behind the form of the words and so to arrive at the true meaning.

We have penetrated into the world of causes; we have to seek to apprehend the Plan as it exists in the mind of God and as it expresses itself through the love, emanating from the Heart of God. Is it possible for human minds to reach any further than the love and will of God? Right at this point, Divinity is contacted. The mind ceases to function, and the true student of meditation slips into a state of conscious identification with that spiritual reality we call the indwelling Christ, the divine Soul. Man, at this point, enters into God.