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CHAPTER SIX - STAGES IN MEDITATION

CHAPTER SIX

STAGES IN MEDITATION (Continued)

Milarepa was one who eventually rid himself of the Two-Fold Shadow and soared into Spiritual Space, till he attained the Goal wherein all doctrines merge in at-one-ment....Having all his ideas and concepts merged with the Primal Cause (he) had eliminated the Illusion of Duality.

RECHUNG (from the Tibetan)

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WE HAVE carried our meditation work forward along what might be termed secular lines, for the use of the mind has been involved, and though the subject of the meditation process has presumably been religious, yet the same results can be equally well reached with a purely worldly theme as the "object" or "seed thought." The educating of the mind to hold itself attentively upon a chosen idea has been the aim. We have, therefore, been dealing with what might legitimately be called a part of the educational process.

It is at this point that the divergence of our eastern and western methods becomes apparent. One school teaches its students to gain control of the instrument of thought before anything else is done, to discover the existence of this instrument through primary failure in control, and then, through concentration and meditation, to achieve facility in forcing the mind to be one-pointed in any direction. The other school posits the possession of something that is called the mind, and proceeds then to fill it with information, and to train the memory aspect to be retentive, and the content of that memory to be easily available to the student. From this stage a [120] relatively few in number pass on to a real use of the mind through a profound interest in some science or some way of living, but the majority never attain mind control. Educational methods as we now have them do not teach their students this preliminary technique, and, hence, the wide confusion as to the nature of the mind and as to the distinction between the mind and the brain.

If the brain and the brain cells are all that there is, then the position of the materialistic thinker, that thought is entirely dependent upon the quality of the brain cells, is logical and correct. The part that the brain plays in the process is ably put for us in Ludwig Fischer's book, The Structure of Thought:

"The perfection of processes of apprehension depends in the main on the structure and functioning of a certain organ which receives and connects the different impressions of the senses, and which, further, partly retains the traces of previous impressions and allows them indirectly to enter into action. This organ is the brain with its ramifications and subsidiary organs. The perfection of the structure and of the functioning of this organ determines the perfection with which we can succeed in a deliberate attempt at producing a representation of the complex of the Whole, using the specific forms of sensual perception which are at our command....

"The brain allows us to have an intuition and an intellectual apprehension of the world in its complexity. The manner in which this is brought about depends on the exceedingly complicated internal structure of this organ, and on its reciprocal relation to the other parts of the Whole, a relation which has many gradations." [lxvii] 1

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If perception and sensuous apprehension, with their consequent rationalizings and the institution of a subsequent mental process, have their source in the brain, then Dr. Sellars is right in his book, Evolutionary Naturalism, when he says that mind can be regarded as a "physical category" and that "we should mean by it the nervous processes which find expression in intelligent conduct." [lxviii] 2

But this idea fails to satisfy the majority of thinkers and most of them — belonging to other schools than the purely materialistic — posit something more than matter, and regard the mind as distinct from the brain; they hold the hypothesis that it is a subjective substantial reality, which can use the brain as its terminal of expression and which it can impress in order to express those concepts and intuitions which a man can consciously utilize. What we are are considering is in no wise a supernormal faculty, or the possession of a specialized instrument by a gifted few; the mind should be used by all educated people, and at the close of the educational process (carried on in the formative years) a man should be in possession of a faculty that he understands and uses at will. Dr. McDougall points out in Psychology, the Science of Behavior that our mental activity (which is usually unconscious) can be either subnormal, normal or supernormal. [lxix3] In the first case, you will have the idiot or the feeble-minded; in the second, you will have the intelligent average citizen [122] whose mind is a theatre or rather a cinematograph, registering anything that happens to come along; and, finally, we shall discover those rare souls whose consciousness is illuminated and whose minds record that which is hidden to the majority. With this last class we have as yet nothing to do. They are the product of the final stages of the meditation work, — contemplation and illumination. Concentration and meditation have definite reference to the many and to the normal.

In the East, and by many in the West, the mind is regarded as separate and distinct from the brain. Dr. C. Lloyd Morgan in Emergent Evolution quotes Descartes as saying that "there are indeed (1) corporeal substance (res extensa), and (2) mental or thinking substance (res cogitans); but they need for their being the concurrence of God....Apart from this common dependence on God neither is dependent on the other." [lxx]4 He sums up his own point of view in another book, Life, Mind, and Spirit, as follows:

"Spirit is nowise separable from life and mind, nor they from it. What is given for reflective contemplation is a world-plan of natural events. I hold that this world-plan is a manifestation of Divine Purpose....We too are manifestations of Spirit which is 'revealed' within us. Each of us is a life, a mind, and Spirit — an instance of life as one expression of the world-plan, of mind as a different expression of that world-plan, of Spirit in so far as the Substance of that world-plan is revealed within us....This revelation is only partial since each of us is only an individual [123] instance of that which in full manifestation is universal." [lxxi] 5

God reveals His purpose through the activity of the form. He does the same through the activity of the mind which impresses in its turn the brain, attuned to receptivity. Later again, the mind becomes responsive to an illumination, emanating from the Spirit aspect, and this we will shortly consider. This approaches very close to the Oriental position which infers a "mind-stuff" which is thrown into activity from the outer world of human affairs by the agency of the senses, by the emotions and by other minds. This intense activity of the mind-stuff has to be definitely offset through concentration and meditation if the mind is to be brought into a condition wherein it can be refocussed and reoriented to another field of perception and another range of ideas. For the esotericists, therefore, the objective of the meditation (carried forward into its later stages) is that the mind should cease to register any form activity whatsoever, no matter of how high an order, but should begin to register impressions emanating from that steadily manifesting Factor which we call (for lack of a better term) the Mind of God, the Universal Mind. This mind is distinguished by a sense of Wholeness, and of synthesis.

The entire history of evolving humanity might be considered from the angle of this Plan concept, and the focus of interest might be noted to be that of a growing consciousness in man of a Universe which [124] is a revelation of a Life and of Deity, and in which mankind plays its part in the greater Whole. Ludwig Fischer calls our attention to the fact that all our faculties "are founded on the mysterious and unconscious something which dominates the whole of our intellectual life," and points out the necessity for what he calls the non-rational element in the answers which we give to the complex questions of every day. His conclusions as to the basic situation which man has to face in connection with thought and our progress into higher and non-rational realms are true and forceful. He says:

"One way of advancing only is possible. The way is led by the intuition of minds of a more than average instinctive sensitiveness; analytical reason follows, consolidating the position and making practicable the road for the rest of mankind. The advance into the unknown begins with a hypothesis, and a hypothesis is nothing but a more or less non-rational structure, obtained intuitively. Once it has been set up, it is compared in all its implications with experience, so that, if possible, the hypothesis can be tested and rationalized." [lxxii 6]

We have reached the stage in our study of the process of mind control when are must proceed upon hypothesis. Yet, primarily, it will be hypothesis only to the materially-minded, for the conclusions reached and the realm of knowledge entered are recorded as truth and proven fact by many thousands down the ages.

We have outlined a method, old and tried, whereby it is claimed the mind can be grasped and used at [125] will, and we have pointed out a way in which the factors which have hitherto engrossed its attention can be negated and a new field of awareness become possible. Before carrying the instructions forward, it might be of value if we defined the hypothesis upon which we will now proceed. It might be expressed as follows:

There is a kingdom of the soul, called often the kingdom of God, which is in reality another kingdom in nature, a fifth kingdom. Entry into that kingdom is as much a natural process as has been the transit of the evolving life from any kingdom in nature to another in the process of evolution. When the senses, and all that they convey, are focussed into that "common-sense," which was the name that mystics such as Meister Eckhart gave to the mind, they enrich that mind and open up to it many states of awareness. When these activities can be negated and the rich and sensitive mind can be refocussed in its turn, it becomes a sensitive apparatus (a sixth sense, if you like) which registers "the things of the kingdom of God" and opens up, to the man in deep meditation, states of consciousness and ranges of knowledge which have hitherto been sealed to him but which are just as much a part of the Whole and of the world content as any other field of investigation. This is our hypothesis and upon it we will proceed. Instinctual awareness has given place in man to intellectual knowledge. Is it not possible that this intellectual perception may, in its turn, be transcended and superseded by intuitional awareness?

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Certain propositions seem necessary at this point in our argument and may be of value in elucidating the theme of this book: They are three in number.

First: In the long evolutionary process which has led man from the animal stage to that of the human being, we find that we have now arrived at the phase in which he is self conscious, or self-referring. He stands at the centre of his own world, and the universe revolves around him. All that occurs has reference to him and to his affairs, and to the effect of life and circumstance upon him as the important factor.

Second: As man grows in knowledge and in intellectual awareness, the brain and the mind become coordinated. The former becomes simply the tool or instrument of the trained instincts and of the controlled mind. This mind draws on what has been called "the content of the subconscious," on the active memory, and on the environment, for what is needed to carry forward the process of living in an exigent world. Man becomes an efficient and useful human being, and takes his place as a conscious cell in the body of humanity. He is beginning to get some realization of group relations. But more remains.

Third: From the earliest stage of human existence up to that of the high grade co-ordinated functioning man, there has always been present a consciousness of something Other, of a factor lying beyond known human experience, of a goal or quest, of a Deity. This subtle and indefinable awareness [127] emerges inevitably and keeps man pushing forward, and seeking for that which neither the mind (as he knows it) nor his circumstances and environment seem able to give. This can be called the search for certainty, an endeavor after the mystic experience, or the religious impulse. But no matter by what name we call it, it is unfailingly present.

These three propositions roughly outline the way that man, in his consciousness, has travelled. They portray the condition in which we find a vast number of human beings at this time — efficient, intellectual, well-informed, responsible, but at the same time, dissatisfied. They look with questioning into the future or face the inevitability of death; they are anxious to go forward into a wider consciousness and into a certainty as to spiritual things and as to the ultimate Reality. This urge to a wider understanding and knowledge is being demonstrated on a large scale at this time, and the sequence of the evolutionary growth, already established, is apparently persisting and must do so if another kingdom or state of consciousness is to be added to those already achieved.

It is at this point that all the great world religions offer to man a way of knowledge and a process of unfoldment which can and does hasten the work of development. Dr. Otto in The Idea of the Holy says that man "must be guided and led on by consideration and discussion of the matter through the ways of his own mind, until he reach the point at which [128] the 'numinous' in him perforce begins to stir, to start into life and into consciousness." [lxxiii] 7

The word "numinous," we are told, comes from the Latin numen, meaning supernatural divine power. It stands for "the specific non-rational religious apprehension and its object, at all its levels, from the first dim stirrings where religion can hardly yet be said to exist to the most exalted forms of spiritual experience." [lxxiv] 8

His translator, Dr. Harvey, Professor of Philosophy at Armstrong College, adds that there develops in man a "growing awareness of an object, deity...a response, so to speak, to the impact upon the human mind of 'the divine', as it reveals itself whether obscurely or clearly. The primary fact is the confrontation of the human mind with a Something, whose character is only gradually learned, but which is from the first felt as a transcendent presence, 'the beyond', even where it is also felt as 'the within' man." [lxxv] 9

Through attention to life purpose, through concentration on life work, through keen interest in the sciences which engage the attention of our best minds, and through meditation, as practised by a few in the religious field, many have arrived at a point where two things happen: the idea of the holy, of Being and of relationship to that Being enter in as dominating factors in the life. Secondly, the mind [129] begins to demonstrate a new activity. Instead of registering and storing up in memory the contacts which the senses have communicated, and absorbing that information which is the common heritage of the day through books and the spoken word, it reorients itself to new knowledge and begins to tap new sources of information. Instinct and intellect have done their work; now the intuition begins to play its part.

It is to this point that the meditation work we have been considering has brought us and for which the education of the memory and the cataloguing of world knowledge has prepared us. They have had their day. For many thousands, therefore, a new endeavor is in order. Is it perhaps possible that for those souls now being born into world experience, the old education with its memory training, its books and lectures and its appropriation of so-called facts has become insufficient? For them we must either formulate a new method, or modify the present technique and so find time for the process of mind reorientation which will enable a man to be aware of more fields of knowledge than he now contacts. Thus we shall demonstrate the truth of the words of Mr. Chaplin in his valuable little book The Soul, that "...it is through Soul that bodily processes attain their significance." [lxxvi] 10

The conquest of the kingdom of the soul looms before man. The day when the word Psychology will return to its original meaning is at hand. Education [130] will then have two functions. It will fit man to handle his worldly contacts with the greatest efficiency and use intelligently that apparatus which the Behaviorists have done so much to explain, and it will also initiate him into the realm to which the mystics have always testified and to which the mind — rightly used — holds the key.

In the preceding chapter the method was dealt with through which a man could begin to be master of his instrument, the mind, and learn so to focus his thought upon a chosen theme or idea that he could close out all outer concepts and shut the door entirely on the phenomenal world. We shall consider the manner how he could carry his focussed thought higher and higher (to use the language of the mystic) until mind itself failed, and he found himself on a peak of thought from which a new world could be visioned. In the meditation process up to this stage there has been an intense activity, and no condition of quiescence, of negativity, or of passive receptivity. The physical body has been forgotten and the brain held in a state of positive receptiveness, ready to be swept into action by the mind when it again turns its attention downwards. We must remember that in using all such words as "upwards" and "downwards," "higher" and "lower," we are talking symbolically. One of the first things a mystic learns is that dimensions do not exist in consciousness, and that the "within" and "without," the "higher" and the "lower" are only figures of [131] speech, by which certain ideas are conveyed as to realized conditions of awareness.

The point that we now have reached brings us to the verge of the transcendental. We proceed upon hypothesis. The tangible and the objective are temporarily forgotten and no longer engross the attention, nor is any form of sensation the aim. All manner of feeling must be, for the time, shut off. Petty annoyances and the like, along with sorrow, will be forgotten, and likewise joy, for we are not seeking the "consolations of religion." The attention is focussed in the mind and the only reactions recorded are mental. Thought has dominated the consciousness during the stage of "meditation with seed" or with an object, but now even this has to go. As one mystical writer puts it: "How shall I put mind out of mind?" For as my objective is neither sensation nor feeling, neither is it thought. Here lies the greatest obstacle to the intuition and the state of illumination. No longer is the attempt to hold anything in the mind to be prolonged, nor is there anything to be thought out. Ratiocination must be left aside, and the exercise of a higher and hitherto probably unused faculty must take its place. The seed thought has attracted our attention, and awakened our interest, and this has sustained itself into the phase of concentration. This again prolongs itself into contemplation, and the result of the latter is illumination. Here we have a brief summation of the entire process — Attraction, Interest, [132] Concentrated Attention and prolonged one-pointed Reflection or Meditation.

What have been the results of the meditation process up to this point? They might be enumerated as follows :

1. The reorganizing of the mind and its reorientation.

2. The centering of a man's attention in the world of thought, instead of on the world of feeling, and hence the withdrawal of the focus of attraction from the senses.

3. The development of a faculty of instantaneous concentration as a preliminary to meditation, and the capacity to focus the mind unswervingly upon any chosen subject. Evelyn Underhill defines this faculty as follows:

"The act of perfect concentration, the passionate focussing of the self upon the one point, when it is applied in 'the unity of the spirit and the bonds of love' to real and transcendental things, constitutes in the technical language of mysticism the state of meditation or recollection, and...is the necessary prelude of pure contemplation." [lxxvii] 11

III. The Stage of Contemplation

We are entering a realm of realization now which is much handicapped by two things: the use of words, which only serve to limit and distort, and the writings of the mystics themselves which — while they are full of wonder and of truth — are colored by the symbolism of their race and age, and by the [133] quality of feeling and emotion. The mystics, as a general rule, drift to and fro between moments of high illumination or of vision, and "the misty flats" of intense feeling and longing. They are either undergoing the joy and ecstasy of realization that lasts but a fleeting moment, or the agony of desire for the continuation of the experience. There seems (in the majority of cases) no sense of security or certainty of repetition, and only a longing for the attainment of such a state of holiness that the condition could be continuously present. In the ancient technique and the orderly meditation with which the East has lately dowered us, it seems possible that through knowledge of the way and through understanding of the process, the mystical experience may itself be transcended, and knowledge of divine things, and identification with the indwelling Deity may be brought about at will. The race now has the necessary mental equipment and can add to the way of the mystic that of the conscious intellect.

But between the stage of prolonged concentration, which we call meditation, and that of contemplation, which is of an entirely different category, there comes a transition period, which the Oriental student calls "meditation without seed," or, "without an object." It is not contemplation. It is not a process of thought. That is past, while the later stage is not yet achieved. It is a period of mind steadiness, and of waiting. Fr. Nouet describes this perhaps as well as anyone in the following words:

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"When the man of prayer has made considerable progress in meditation, he passes insensibly to affective prayer, which, being between meditation and contemplation, as the dawn is between the night and the day, possesses something both of the one and of the other. In its beginnings it contains more of meditation, because it still makes use of reasoning;...because having acquired much light by the prolonged use of considerations and reasonings, it enters at once into its subject, and sees all its developments without much difficulty....Hence it follows as it perfects itself it discards reasonings...." [lxxviii] 12

The versatility of the rapidly moving and sensitively responsive mental substance can be brought, we have seen, into a stabilized condition, through prolonged meditation. This brings about a state of mind which renders the thinker unresponsive to vibrations and contacts coming from the outer phenomenal world and from the world of the emotions, and so renders passive the sensory apparatus, the brain and that vast inter-locking network which we call the nervous system. The world in which man usually functions is shut off, yet he preserves at the same time an intense mental attention and a one-pointed orientation to the new world in which that which we call the soul lives and moves. The true student of meditation learns to be wide awake mentally, and potently aware of phenomena, vibration and states of being. He is positive, active and self-reliant, and the brain and the focussed mind are closely coordinated. He is no impractical dreamer, yet the [135] world of practical and physical affairs is temporarily negated.

If the student is not naturally of the positive mental type, some serious, persistent, intellectual training (designed to create mental alertness and polarization) should be taken up along with the practice of meditation, otherwise the process will degenerate into an emotional revery, or a negative blankness. Both conditions carry with them their own dangers, and, if prolonged, will tend to make a man an impractical person, impotent and inefficient in daily affairs. His life will become less and less useful to himself or to others. He will find himself dwelling more and more in uncontrolled irrational fancies, and emotional fluctuations. In such a soil the seeds of egoism easily sprout, and psychism flourishes.

The mind, therefore, positive, alert and well-controlled, is carried forward on the wings of thought and then held steady at the highest attainable point. A condition is then brought about in the mind which is analogous to one which has already taken place in the brain. It is held in a waiting attitude, whilst the consciousness of the thinker shifts into a new state of awareness and he becomes identified with the true inner and spiritual man. What is technically called the "perceiving consciousness" waits.

These two stages of meditation, one of intense activity and the other of an intense waiting, have been called the Martha and Mary states, and the idea, through this metaphor, becomes somewhat clearer. It is a period of silence whilst something inner [136] transpires, and is perhaps the hardest part of the technique to master. It is so easy to slip back into the intellectual activity which ordinary meditation connotes, for one has not yet learnt to contemplate. Dr. Bennett describes this stage in some comments upon Ruysbroeck. He says:

"Ruysbroeck here distinguishes two marks of 'true' passivity: first, it is 'actively sought,' that is, a certain effort is necessary to maintain it. Second, it differs from any natural or automatic type of relief by the moral preparation which precedes it....This enforced waiting, this self-imposed receptivity, which is the defining mark of the stage of contemplation, is not the end of the mystic's career. It is the end of his efforts, in the sense that he can do no more, but it is destined to give way to the stage of ecstasy when matters are taken out of the hand of the individual and he becomes the vehicle of a power greater than himself. 'Remain steadfastly in thyself until thou art drawn out of thyself without any act of thine'." [lxxix] 13

He speaks later on in the same chapter of the breathless attention, the hard-earned and hard-held waiting for the divine revelation. The ancient sage of India, Patanjali, tells us the same thing, when he says that, when "the mind-stuff becomes absorbed in that which is the Reality (or the idea embodied in the form) and is unaware of separateness or of the personal self," this brings him to the stage of contemplation and he enters into the consciousness of the soul. He discovers that all the time it has been the soul which has lured him on into union with itself. How? Another Hindu teacher tells us that [137] "the soul has the means. Thinking is the means. When thinking has completed its task of release, it has done what it had to do and ceases." [lxxx] 14

In contemplation, a higher agent enters in. It is the Soul that contemplates. The human consciousness ceases its activity and the man becomes what he is in reality — a soul, a fragment of divinity, conscious of its essential oneness with Deity. The Higher Self becomes active, and the lower or personal self is entirely quiescent and still, whilst the true spiritual Entity enters into its own kingdom and registers the contacts that emanate from that spiritual realm of phenomena.

The world of the soul is seen as a reality; the transcendental things are known to be facts in nature; union with Deity is realized as constituting as much a fact in the natural process as is the union between the life of the physical body and that body.

The man's consciousness, therefore, is no longer focussed in that waiting mind, but has slipped over the borderland into the realm of spirit and he becomes literally the soul, functioning in its own realm, perceiving the "things of the Kingdom of God," able to ascertain truth at first hand, and aware in full waking consciousness of its own nature, prerogatives and laws. Whilst the true spiritual man is thus active in his own nature and in his own world, the mind and brain are held steady and positive, oriented to the soul, and according to the facility with [138] which this is done will be the capacity of both to register and record that which the soul is perceiving.

In meditation we endeavor to receive impressions from the inner God, the Higher Self, direct to the physical brain, via the mind. In contemplation a still higher stage is entered upon and we endeavor to receive into the physical brain that which the soul itself perceives as It looks outward upon those new fields of perception.

In the average man, the soul is occupied (as the Perceiver) with the three worlds of human endeavor, and looks out, therefore, upon the physical, emotional and mental states of being. The soul identifies Itself for aeons with the forms through which contact has to be made if those lower states of consciousness are to be known. Later, when a man has gained control of the mind and can offer it to the soul as a transmitting agent, then a vast region of spiritual awareness can unfold itself. The soul itself can then become a transmitting agent, and can pass on, via the mind and from thence to the physical brain, some of the realizations and concepts of the Spirit aspect. Students would do well to remember the words in The Secret Doctrine.

"Matter is the Vehicle for the manifestation of Soul on this plane of existence, and Soul is the Vehicle on a higher plane for the manifestation of Spirit, and these three are a Trinity synthesized by Life, which pervades them all." [lxxxi] 15

This, in the academic language of occultism, is the realization of the mystic. Cardinal Richelieu [139] calls contemplation that state "in which man sees and knows God without using the imagination and without discursive reasoning," and Tauler expresses it thus:

"God desires to dwell in the superior faculties — the memory, the intellect, and the will, and to operate in these after a divine manner. This is His true abode, His field of action; it is there that He finds His likeness. It is there that we must seek Him if we desire to find Him and by the shortest way. Then the spirit is transported high above all the faculties into a void of immense solitude whereof no mortal can adequately speak....When, afterwards, these persons come to themselves again, they find themselves possessed of a distinct knowledge of things, more luminous and more perfect than that of others." [lxxxii] 16

Contemplation has been described, as a psychic gateway, leading from one state of consciousness to another. Jeremy Taylor calls it the "transition from intense meditation to that contemplation which attains to the vision of the wonders of God, as the human soul enters the realm of the divine light.". [lxxxiii] 17 Francois Malaval, who lived and wrote in the 17th century puts it most beautifully. He says:

"This act (contemplation) is also more perfect than reasoning because in reasoning the soul speaks, whilst in this act it enjoys. Reasoning...convinces the soul by its principles, but here the soul is rather illumined than convinced, it sees rather than examines. Reasoning occupies itself in the consideration of a word, a proposition, or a discourse; but this simple sight of God, supposing all [140] reasonings as things passed and known, contemplates its object in God Himself...." [lxxxiv] 18

Through this gateway of vision the man passes and finds himself to be the soul. From the vantage of the soul, he realizes himself to be the Perceiver, who can perceive equally the world of spiritual realities and the world of daily experience; he can look, if he so chooses, in either direction.

The problem is to acquire an equal facility in the work of perception on spiritual levels as we have learned on worldly levels, and one of the important points to remember is that in both cases the triplicity of soul, mind, and brain must play their part, but with a differing orientation and attention. It becomes simply a question of focus. The brain is active in practically a subconscious manner towards the instincts and habits which guide our physical plane life and appetites. Through right education, it learns to be receptive towards impressions emanating from the mind, and instead of being only a sensory register or recorder, it learns to respond to thought impressions. The mind in its turn has an instinctive tendency to record all outer information, but can be trained to be receptive towards the soul, and to register information coming from that higher source. In time we can acquire facility and practice in utilizing either brain or mind actively or passively, and eventually bringing about a perfect interplay between them and finally between the soul, the mind [141] and the brain. We can sum up all that has happened during the three stages we have considered in the words of Patanjali —

"The gradual conquest of the mind's tendency to flit from one object to another (that is, concentration) and the power of one-pointedness (that is, meditation) make the development of contemplation." [lxxxv] 19

and when these three are simultaneously performed we are told that "this threefold power of attention, meditation and contemplation is more interior than all means of growth previous described." It is interesting to note that Malaval in his second Treatise, Dialogue III, makes the same point, linking faith, meditation and contemplation together as a synthetic act. The knowers in both the East and the West think alike.

Contemplation has been also defined by Evelyn Underhill in her most useful book, Mysticism, as the "lull between two activities." During this lull a new method of knowing and of being is instituted. This is perhaps one of the simplest and the most practical ways of understanding contemplation. It is the interlude wherein the soul is active. This soul activity is preceded by what we might call an upward activity. The physical brain has been quieted and held steady; the feeling or sensory apparatus has also been stilled and is no longer permitted to register information from its usual field of awareness; the mind has been focussed and held actively passive in the light which streams from the kingdom of the [142] soul. We refuse the passage of any information from the world of ordinary phenomena. This has been brought about through right concentration and meditation. This achieved, there ensues the interlude wherein the man knows himself to be a soul, dwelling in the eternal and freed from the limitations of form. This interlude is necessarily brief at first but as progress in control develops, it lengthens. The key to the whole process is the sustained concentration and attention of the mind "whilst the soul, the spiritual man, the perceiving being, contemplates."

In a former book I have dealt more fully with this use of the mind as the instrument of the soul, and will repeat one paragraph here:

"It should be made clear, however, that the perceiver on his own plane has always been aware of that which is now recognized. The difference lies in the fact that the instrument, the mind, is now in a state of control. It is, therefore, possible for the thinker to impress the brain, via the controlled mind, with that which is perceived. Man on the physical plane simultaneously also perceives, and true meditation and contemplation for the first time become possible. At first this will only be for a brief second. A flash of intuitive perception, a moment of vision and of illumination and all has gone. The mind begins again to modify itself and is thrown into activity, the vision is lost sight of, the high moment has passed, and the door into the soul realm seems suddenly to shut. But assurance has been gained; a glimpse of reality has been registered on the brain and the guarantee of future achievement is recognized." [lxxxvi] 20

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The second activity concerns itself with a dual work carried on by the mind. Having been held steady in the light, it now records and registers the ideas, impressions and concepts imparted to it by the contemplating soul, formulating them into phrases and sentences, building them into thought forms and constructing clear mental images. It is for this that the need of a good mental apparatus will become apparent. A trained mind and a well-stocked memory and a carefully cultured mentality will greatly facilitate the work of the soul in gaining a right record and an accurate registering of its knowledge. Then, following upon this mental activity, will ensue a process of transmitting the gained information to the waiting quiescent brain.

When the soul has learned to handle its instrument, through the medium of the mind and the brain, direct contact and interplay between the two becomes increasingly possible and steady, so that a man at will can focus his mind upon earthly affairs and be an efficient member of society, or upon heavenly things and function in his true being as a son of God. When this is the case, the soul utilizes the mind as a transmitting agent and the physical brain is trained to be responsive to that which is transmitted. The true son of God can live in two worlds at once; He is a citizen of the world and of the Kingdom of God. I cannot do better than close this chapter with some words of Evelyn Underhill:

"The full spiritual consciousness of the true mystic is developed not in one but in two apparently opposite but [144] really complementary directions....On the one hand he is intensely aware of, and knows himself to be at one with that active world of becoming....Hence though he has broken forever with the bondage of the senses, he perceives in every manifestation of life a sacramental meaning; a loveliness, a wonder, a heightened significance which is hidden from other men....On the other hand, the full mystic consciousness also attains to what is, I think, its really characteristic quality. It develops the power of apprehending the Absolute, Pure Being, the utterly Transcendent....This all-round expansion of consciousness, with its dual power of knowing by communion the temporal and eternal, immanent and transcendent aspects of reality...is the peculiar mark, the ultimo sigillo of the great mystic...." [lxxxvii] 21

The results of this dual activity and facility of interplay we will consider next. The intuition begins to function; illumination is experienced, and the life of inspiration, with its many special characteristics must be studied, and this we will attempt in our next chapter.