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"The scientific method — apart from a narrowly agnostic and pragmatist point of view — is therefore by itself incomplete and insufficient: it demands in order to make contact with reality the complement of some metaphysic or other."

Joseph Maréchal, S.J.


THE present widespread interest in the subject of Meditation is an evidence of a world need which requires clear understanding. Where we find a popular trend in any particular direction, which is one-pointed and steady, it may be safe to assume that out of it will emerge that which the race needs in its onward march. That meditation is regarded, by those who define loosely, as a "mode of prayer" is, unfortunately, true. But it can be demonstrated that in the right understanding of the meditation process and in its right adaptation to the needs of our modern civilization will be found the solution of the present educational impasse and the method whereby the fact of the soul may be ascertained — that living something which we call the "Soul" for lack of a better term.

The purpose of this book is to deal with the nature and true significance of meditation, and with its use on a large scale in the West. It is suggested that it may eventually supplant the present methods of memory training, and prove a potent factor in modern educational procedure. It is a subject that has engrossed the attention of thinkers in the East [4] and in the West for thousands of years, and this uniformity of interest is in itself of importance. The next developments which will carry the race forward along the path of its unfolding consciousness must surely lie in the direction of synthesis. The growth of human knowledge must be brought about by the fusion of the Eastern and the Western techniques of mental training. This has already proceeded apace and thinkers in both hemispheres are realizing that this fusion is leading towards some most significant realization. Edward Carpenter says that:

"We seem to be arriving at a time when, with the circling of our knowledge of the globe, a great synthesis of all human quite naturally and inevitably taking place.... Out of this meeting of elements is already arising the dim outline of a philosophy which must surely dominate human thought for a long period." {i}1

Herein lies the glory and hope of the race and the outstanding triumph of science. We are now one people. The heritage of any race lies open to another; the best thought of the centuries is available for all; and ancient techniques and modern methods must meet and interchange. Each will have to modify its mode of presentation and each will have to make an effort to understand the underlying spirit which has produced a peculiar phraseology and imagery, but when these concessions are made, a structure of truth will be found to emerge which will embody the spirit of the New Age. Modern thinkers are realizing this and Dr. Overstreet points out that:


"Eastern philosophy, one suspects, has had small effect upon western thought chiefly because of its manner. But there is every reason to believe that as the influence of western thinking — particularly its experimental hard-headedness — is felt in the East, a new philosophic manner will be adopted, and the profound spirituality of eastern thought will be expressed in ways more acceptable to the western mind." [ii]2

Both schools have hitherto tended to antagonize each other, yet the quest for truth has been one; the interest in that which is, and that which can be, is not confined to either group; and the factors with which each has had to work have been the same. Though the mind of the eastern thinker may run to creative imagery and that of the western worker to creative scientific achievement, yet the world into which they enter is curiously the same; the instrument of thought which they employ is called the "mind" in the West and "mind-stuff" (chitta) in the East; both use the language of symbology to express their conclusions and both reach the point where words prove futile to embody the intuited possibilities.

Dr. Jung, one of the people who is seeking to bring these hitherto discordant elements together, touches on this in the following extract from his Commentary on an ancient Chinese writing. He says

"Western consciousness is by no means consciousness in general, but rather a historically conditioned, and geographically limited, factor, representative of only one part of humanity. The widening of our own consciousness ought [6] not to proceed at the expense of other kinds of consciousness, but ought to take place through the development of those elements of our psyche which are analogous to those of a foreign psyche, just as the East cannot do without our technique, science and industry. The European invasion of the East was a deed of violence on a great scale, and it has left us the duty — noblesse oblige — of understanding the mind of the East. This is perhaps more necessary than we realize at present." [iii]3

Dr. Hocking of Harvard also brings us the same idea when he says:

"There seems reason to hope for a better physical future of the race by the aid of a sound mental hygiene. After the era of the charlatans has gone by, and to some extent by their aid, there appears a possibility of steadily enlarging self-mastery, as the spiritual sense of such discipline as the Yoga joins with the sober elements of Western psychology and a sane system of ethics. No one of these is worth much without the others." [iv] 4

Those who have studied in both schools tell us that the mystical imagery of the East (and also of our Western mystical exponents) is only a veil behind which those gifted with intuitive perception have always been able to penetrate. The science of the West, with its emphasis upon the nature of the form, has also led us into the realm of the intuition and it would seem as if the two ways could blend and that it should be possible for each — discarding the non-essentials — to arrive at a basis of understanding. [7] Thus they work out a new approach to the central mystery of man founded on old and demonstrated truths. Dr. Jung again takes this up as follows:

"Science is the best tool of the Western mind and with it more doors can be opened than with bare hands. Thus it is part and parcel of our understanding and only clouds our insight when it lays claim to being the one and only way of comprehending. But it is the East that has taught us another, wider, more profound, and a higher understanding, that is, understanding through life. We know this way only vaguely, as a mere shadowy sentiment culled from religious terminology, and therefore we gladly dispose of Eastern 'wisdom' in quotation marks, and push it away into the obscure territory of faith and superstition. But in this way Eastern 'realism' is completely misunderstood. It does not consist of sentimental, exaggeratedly mystical, intuitions bordering on the pathological and emanating from ascetic recluses and cranks; the wisdom of the East is based on practical knowledge...which we have not the slightest justification for undervaluing." [v]5

It is in the training of the mind that the crux of the situation lies. The human mind is apparently an instrument which we are able to use in two directions. One direction is outward. The mind, in this mode of functioning, registers our contacts with the physical and mental worlds in which we live, and recognizes emotional and sensory conditions. It is the recorder and correlator of our sensations, of our reactions, and of all that is conveyed to it via the five senses and the brain. This is a field of knowledge [8] that has been extensively studied, and much headway has been made by psychologists in understanding the processes of mentation. "Thinking," Dr. Jung tells us, "is one of the four basic psychological functions. It is that psychological function which, in accordance with its own laws, brings given presentations into conceptual connection. It is an apperceptive activity — both active and passive. Active thinking is an act of the will; passive thinking is an occurrence." [vi]6

As we shall see later, it is the thought apparatus which is involved in Meditation and which must be trained to add to this first function of the mind an ability to turn in another direction, and to register with equal facility the inner or intangible world. This ability to re-orient itself will enable the mind to register the world of subjective realities, of intuitive perception and of abstract ideas. This is the high heritage of the mystic, but seems as yet not to be within the grasp of the average man.

The problem facing the human family today in the realms both of science and of religion results from the fact that the follower of both schools finds he is standing at the portal of a metaphysical world. A cycle of development has come to an end. Man, as a thinking, feeling entity, seems now to have arrived at a fair measure of understanding the instrument with which he has to work. He is asking himself: What use is he to make of it? Where is the mind, [9] which he is slowly learning to master, going to lead him?

What does the future hold for man? Something, we feel, of greater beauty and certainty than anything we have hitherto known. Perhaps it will be a universal arrival at that knowledge which the individual mystic has had. Our ears are deafened by the din of our modern civilization and yet at times we catch those overtones which testify to a world which is immaterial. Our eyes are blinded by the fog and the smoke of our immediate foreground, yet there do come flashes of clear vision which reveal a subtler state of being, and which lift the fog, letting in "the glory which never was on sea or land." Dr. Bennett of Yale expresses these ideas in very beautiful terms. He says:

"A film falls from the eyes and the world appears in a new light. Things are no longer ordinary. There comes the certainty that this is the real world whose true character human blindness has until now concealed.

Not where the wheeling systems darken
And our benumbed conceiving soars; —
The drift of pinions, would we harken,
Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.
The angels keep their ancient places;
Turn but a stone and start a wing!
'Tis ye, 'tis your estrangèd faces
That miss the many-splendoured thing.

"The experience is at first tantalizing, alluring. There is a rumor of a new world and the spirit is eager for the voyage upon strange seas. The familiar world must be left behind. The great adventure of religion begins....

[10] "There must somewhere be a point of certainty. A growing universe may provide for open futures, but whoso declares that the universe is growing states an unalterable fact about its structure, which fact is the eternal guarantee of the possibility and validity of experiment....

"Man is a bridge. Even the superman, once we perceive that he is only the symbol of the strenuous ideal, turns out to be a bridge too. Our only assurance is that the gates of the future are always open." [vii]7

Perhaps the problem consists in this: that the gates of the future seem to open upon an immaterial world, and upon a realm that is intangible, metaphysical, supersensuous. We have well-nigh exhausted the resources of the material world, but we have not yet learned to function in a non-material one. We even deny its existence at times. We face the inevitable experience, which we call death, and yet take no rational steps to ascertain whether there really is a life beyond. The progress of evolution has produced a wonderful race, equipped with a sensitive response apparatus and a reasoning mind. We possess the rudiments of a sense which we call the intuition and, with this equipment, we stand before the gates of the future and ask the question: "To what purpose shall we put this composite, complex mechanism which we call a human being?" Have we reached our full development? Are there shades of meaning to life which have hitherto escaped our attention, and have they escaped our attention because we have latent powers and capacities as yet [11] unrealized? Is it possible that we are blind to a vast world of life and of beauty, with its own appropriate laws and phenomena? Mystics, seers and thinkers of all ages and in both hemispheres have said such a world exists.

With this equipment, which we might call the personality, man stands with the past behind him, in a present that is full of chaos, and before a future into which he cannot look. He cannot stand still. He must go forward, and the vast educational, scientific, philosophic and religious organizations are all doing their utmost to tell him which way to go and to present to him a solution of his problem.

That which is static and crystallized eventually falls to pieces and, where there is arrested growth, abnormalities will occur and retrogression be found. Someone has said that the danger which we must avoid is that of a "disintegrating personality." If humanity is not potential, if man has reached his zenith and can go no further, then he should recognize this fact and make his decline and fall as easy and as beautiful as possible. It is encouraging to note how in 1850 the dim outlines of that portal into the New Age were vaguely seen and how much concern thinkers then evinced that man should not fail to learn his lesson and go forward. Read the words of Carlyle and note how appropriate they are to the present time.

"In the days that are passing over us, even fools are arrested to ask the meaning of them; few of the generations of men have seen more impressive days. Days of endless [12] calamity, disruption, dislocation, confusion worse confounded....It is not a small hope that will suffice us, the ruin being clearly...universal. There must be a new world if there is to be a world at all. That human beings in Europe can ever return to the old sorry routine, and proceed with any steadiness or continuance therein, — this small hope is not now a tenable one. These days of universal death must be days of universal rebirth, if the ruin is not to be total and final. It is a time to make the dullest man consider whence he came and whither he is bound." [viii]8

Looking back over the seventy or more years that have elapsed since Carlyle wrote these words, we know that mankind did not fail to go forward. The electrical age was inaugurated and the wonders of the scientific achievements of our time are known by us all. With optimism, therefore, in a time of fresh crisis, we can go forward with true courage, for the portals into the New Age are far more clearly seen. Perhaps it is true also that man is only now attaining his majority and is about to enter upon his inheritance and to discover within himself powers and capacities, faculties and tendencies which are the guarantee of a vital and useful manhood, and of eternal existence. We are completing the stage wherein the emphasis has been laid upon the mechanism, upon the sum-total of cells, which constitute the body and the brain, with their automatic reaction to pleasure, to pain and to thought. We know much about Man, the machine. The mechanistic school of psychologists have placed us deeply in their debt [13] with their discoveries about the apparatus whereby a human being comes into contact with his environment. But there are men among us, men who are not mere machines. We have the right to measure our ultimate capacities and our potential greatness by the achievements of the best among us; these great ones are not "freak" products of divine caprice or of blind evolutionary urge, but are themselves the guarantee of the ultimate achievement of the whole.

Irving Babbitt remarks, that there is a something in man's nature "that sets him apart simply as man, from other animals, and that something Cicero defines as a 'sense of order and decorum and measure in deeds and words'." [ix]9 Babbitt adds (and this is the point to note) that "the world would have been a better place if more persons had made sure they were human before setting out to be superhuman." [x]10 There is, perhaps, an intermediate stage wherein we function as men, sustain our human relations, and discharge our just obligations, thus fulfilling our temporary destiny. The question arises here as to whether such a stage is even yet generally possible when we remember that there are millions of illiterate persons on our planet at this time!

But, along with this tendency toward pure humanity and the drift away from the standardization of the human unit, there emerges a group to whom we give the name of mystics. They testify to another world of experience and contacts. They bear witness [14] to a personal realization and to a phenomenal manifestation and satisfaction of which the average man knows nothing. As Dr. Bennett says "the mystics themselves have described their attainment as a seeing into the meaning of the universe, a seeing of how all things belong together. They have found the clue." [xi]11 Down the ages they have come forth and said in unison: there is another kingdom in nature. This kingdom has its own laws, its own phenomena and its own intimate relationships. It is the kingdom of the spirit. We have found it and you too can ascertain its nature. These witnesses fall into two groups; the purely mystical and emotional quester who sees the vision and falls down in an illuminated rapture before the beauty that he has sensed, and secondly, the knowers, who have added to the emotional rapture an intellectual achievement (an orientation of the mind) which enables them to do more than sense and enjoy. They understand; they know, and have become identified with that new world of being towards which the pure mystic reaches. The line of demarcation between these knowers of divine things and those who sense the vision is very slight.

There is, however, a no-man's ground between the two groups on which a great transition takes place. There is an interlude in experience and in development which changes the visionary mystic into the practical knower. There is a process and a technique to which the mystic can subject himself which coordinates him and develops in him a new and subtle [15] apparatus, by means of which he no longer sees the vision of divine reality but knows himself to be that reality itself. It is with this transitional process and with this work of educating the mystic, that the meditation technique has to do. It is this with which we deal in this book.

The problem of leading man into his heritage as a human being is the function of the educators and of the psychologists. They must lead him up to the door of the mystical world. Paradoxical as it may sound, the work of leading him into his spiritual heritage is the work of religion and of science. Dr. Pupin tells us that "science and religion supplement each other, they are the two pillars of the portal through which the human soul enters into the world where divinity resides." [xii]12

Let us give the word "spiritual" a wide connotation! I do not here speak of religious truths; the formulations of the theologians and the churchmen in all the big religious organizations, both Eastern and Western, may, or may not, be true. Let us use the word "spiritual" to signify the world of light and beauty, of order and of purpose, about which the world Scriptures speak, which is the object of the attentive research of the scientists, and into which the pioneers of the human family have always penetrated, returning to tell us of their experiences. Let us regard all manifestations of life as spiritual, and so widen the usual meaning of this word to signify [16] the energies and potencies which lie back of every form in nature and which give to each of them their essential distinguishing characteristics and qualities. For thousands of years all over the planet, the mystics and knowers have borne witness to experiences in subtler worlds where they have been brought into contact with forces and phenomena which are not of this physical world. They speak of meeting with angelic hosts; they refer to the great cloud of witnesses; they commune with the elder brothers of the race who work in other dimensions and who demonstrate powers about which ordinary human beings know nothing; they speak of a light and of a glory; of a direct knowledge of truth and of a world of phenomena which is uniform to the mystics of all races. That much of the testimony can be discarded on the grounds of hallucination may be true; that many of the saints of old were psychopathic cases and neurotics may be equally true; but there still remains a residue of testimony and a sufficient number of reputable witnesses, substantiating this testimony, to force our belief in its verity. These witnesses to the unseen world spoke with words of power and gave forth messages which have moulded the thoughts of men, and directed the lives of millions. They claimed there was a science of spiritual knowledge and a technique of development whereby men could attain to the mystical experience and whereby they could know God.

It is this science which we will study in this book, [17] and this technique which we will seek to unfold. It deals with the right use of the mind, whereby the world of souls reveals itself and that secret door is found and opened which leads from darkness to light, from death to immortality and from the unreal to the Real.

The ultimate solution of our world problem lies in our arrival at this knowledge — a knowledge that is neither eastern nor western, but which is known to both. When we have joined hands with the Orient and when we have united the best thoughts of the East with those of the West, we shall have a synthetic and balanced teaching which will liberate the coming generations. It must begin in the educational field and with the young.

In the West, consciousness has been focused upon the material aspects of living, and all of our mental power has been concentrated upon the control and utilization of material things, the perfecting of physical comforts, and the accumulation of possessions. In the East, where the spiritual realities have been more uniformly held, mental power has been used in concentration and meditation and in deep philosophical and metaphysical study, but the masses of the people, not capable of these activities, have been left in peculiar and strikingly terrible conditions, from the standpoint of physical living. Through the blending of the achievements of the two civilizations (now going on with increasing rapidity) a balance is being struck by means of which the race [18] as a whole will be able to demonstrate its full potency. Both the East and the West are gradually learning to take from each other to mutual advantage, and work in this field is one of the fundamental and necessary things of the present cycle.