‘It is in silence that the soul speaks.’
Men have always realized the mystery of silence; they have ever been haunted by the feeling that silence and stillness are full of potent and vital Something that is lost during activity and noise. ‘Speech is silver but Silence is Golden’, said the poet.
As we gain in experience we will be able to observe that one of the hallmarks of men great in spiritual qualities is that they are calm, still, and sparing of speech, although extremely vital. If you meet a man or woman of this type keep near to them. You will learn much from them, even without words.
The Science of Meditation has been used throughout the ages as the means by which a man can link his brain, mind and soul together, and connect them consciously with the Universal Intelligence – or the Mind and Motives of the Creator of this Solar System.
By means of Meditation man learns to concentrate and project his attention straight through the physical plane to the Fourth Dimension, then later to further dimensions. He endeavours to bring that which he learns through into the physical world, translated into physical language, and interpreted into his own brain as best he can. In the realms which he may reach, language, colour and form have quite different expressions to those with which we are familiar. He is getting to the heart of things, the underlying causes, the primordial truths which eventually give their faint distorted reflection as physical color, sound and form.
He learns much that cannot be expressed in words or even in ‘physical’ thought. His brain must be gradually trained to encompass these unfamiliar aspects of life. Often this is well-nigh impossible, and, instead, the knowledge is absorbed and held by his ‘super-conscious’ mind. It feeds strength and stability into his character without his being conscious of the process at all. The result of this union with Divine Intelligence is that man can now work in accordance with the Plan; he is spared the tragedy of wasting his efforts in the wrong direction. That which he does and the influence which he spreads will be for the good of humanity – it will be a definite building up for future progress. The innate knowledge which he has thus acquired he may express in the creation of music, art, literature, a new ‘religion’, new economic or social developments, or else in an example of fine personal living.
He no longer needs to have faith in the existence of ultimate and divine realities. He knows. He has put himself in touch and in tune with them, and henceforth can bask inwardly in the radiance and joy of his knowledge. He can mentally look down upon the conflicting processes of the world’s development, including his own little suffering, much as one would study a fascinating Chinese puzzle. With one part of him he suffers and experiences, while at the same time with the other part he enjoys, comments and learns.
To many people the attainment of such a state of knowledge and power has been all-important. They have given up their lives to it. Such people are the Yogis, Disciples, Buddhas, and those of their kind in all countries.
There is a fundamental difference between Eastern and Western peoples.
Those of the East draw everything inward to themselves and hold it, and are comparatively inactive although they learn much – intraverts.
Those of the West are full of action and energy, but give little time to studying themselves and acquiring deep knowledge before they act – extraverts.
So in the East we find inspired inaction resulting in stagnation.
And in the West we find uninspired action resulting in chaos.
When universal love, neighbourliness and brotherhood eventually spread across the world, East and West will learn from each other and pool their attributes. The result will be Inspired Activity. We have already seen the earliest beginnings of this amalgamation around us. While Westerners are busy improving living conditions in the East, oriental teachers of philosophy and spiritual laws are gaining a considerable hearing in the West.
The ideal towards which we have to work is therefore Meditation followed by Action.
Let us now consider the actual process of Meditation and its several phases.
Imagine a great orchestra playing a powerful symphony. In the orchestra is one delicate muted violin, which we cannot hear although it plays all the time. The louder vibrations swamp its sound. If the louder instruments be stopped one by one the violin will still not be heard. Finally when they have all ceased we can suddenly hear it playing faintly. Our ears gradually accustom themselves to it until it appears to be making a volume of clear sound.
This is a good simile of the process of meditation. The human being is like an orchestra of varying vibrations. The louder, coarser vibrations are those of the atoms of body and brain. The finer are those of the emotions and thoughts. The muted violin represents the soul’s message trying to filter through. To hear the soul’s message all the rest of the orchestra must be silenced.
All the criss-cross currents of bodily sensations, thoughts, memories, hopes, desires and emotions must be stilled into complete passivity. Then the brain must be held poised and ready to receive the impress from the mind of that which the latter has been able to translate of the soul’s message.
The soul is the egos intermediary between the world of spirit and the world of matter, the storehouse of the results of experience in both realms, flashes of its knowledge coming to us as ‘Conscience’ or Inspiration. The soul has been likened to a mirror which can reflect the spirit world into the physical, but is usually too clouded over with vibratory disturbances to do so.
‘Now we see through a glass darkly but then face to face’.
Meditation stills the vibratory disturbances of the personality, and the mirror clears. The first stage in meditation is therefore complete bodily relaxation. This cannot be accomplished when the body is in the wrong position. There are one or two postures which have been proved to be suitable. The spine must be erect and well balanced, and the ribs must be free for deep breathing.
The early Egyptians used to sit very upright upon a chair with the eyes gazing straight ahead, the hands palm downwards upon the knees, the elbows well tucked in to throw out the chest, the heels together and the toes apart. They have left many statues represented as meditating in this position. We are told it is the one best suited to the Westerner also.
The Indians meditate mostly sitting cross-legged upon the ground. Those who are skilled and expert use the ‘Lotus’ posture, in which the soles of the feet are turned upwards and the body is locked and balanced in such a manner that should the devotee pass into a trance he cannot fall over.
The Chines also squat, using various postures of the hands and feet to achieve different results.
The Westerner who is making a beginning should adopt the Egyptian pose, and learn completely to relax sitting upright, and balancing the spine, neck and head so carefully that he ceases to be conscious of them.
He must then commence to breathe deeply, silently, evenly and slowly, through the nose, and gradually perfect this process until he can perform it also unconsciously. The slower the breathing the easier the control of the mind – but only that which can be performed without the slightest effort or strain is of any use whatever for his purpose.
By means of these two preliminary steps he has begun the process of stilling the vibrations of first his physical and then his etheric body.
The next and more difficult task is to tackle his emotional and mental equipment. He must drop all feeling, all stress, strain and longing for accomplishment, all anxiety or excitement at the prospect in view. Excitement and emotion are formed of low, heavy and ‘noisy’ vibrations.
There remains now the brain, that bustling little typewriter which ceaselessly taps out the drifting or hurrying crowds of thought-forms which float through it upon the ether. The aspirant must patiently, continuously, and without effort, wipe these thoughts out as with a sponge upon a slate. This process also must be continued until it can be performed unconsciously, a difficult feat which may need months or years of practice. When, however, this has been accomplished the practice of Meditation becomes possible.
In some occult parlance we are told to ‘make the mind a blank’ for Meditation. These words lead to an entire misconception. If the ear is listening very intently for a certain sound, oblivious to all other sounds, we do not think that the hearing is a blank! On the contrary, it is actively at strict attention. So must the mind be, in Meditation, held at strict attention, ready to convey to the typewriter brain its interpretation of the impressions filtered through to it by the fine vibrations of the inner activities – the ‘subtler planes where knowledge is’.
The best times for Meditation are said to be upon awaking and at about 6 p.m. It should be practised either before or several hours after a meal. The room should be dim or dark. The eyes should be facing a plain surface with, if desired, only one symbolical object on which to concentrate, or, if preferred, the eyes may be closed.
We have now described the condition to which the aspirant must learn to bring himself if he hopes to practice Meditation with any success.
The science itself is divided into four successive stages: Concentration, Meditation, Contemplation and Adoration.
Only the first two are possible to any but the adept of full-fledged mystic, nevertheless we will describe them all.
The process of Concentration has already been partly analysed. It consists in getting full control over the personality and then, when the aspirant’s whole make-up is stilled and passive, in concentrating the attention of the brain to one point, keeping it clear, steady and empty of stray thoughts, waiting to receive the information which the mind is collecting.
When full Concentration has been established, then Meditation can begin. Meditation consists in studying with great thoroughness one object, subject, quality or force in life. The concentrated one-pointed mind is like a powerful burning-glass or magnet. When tuned in to the particular vibration of any object or quality it can burn right through to the truth of it and draw to itself everything connected with or of that same vibration.
Thus, supposing the aspirant has chosen a violin as the subject of his meditation. He will first concentrate upon the violin, building up in his mind as vivid and complete a picture of the instrument as he is able. Then, holding the picture steadily before his mind’s eye, he will begin to Meditate upon the instrument, endeavouring to learn everything he possibly can about it. He traces its history, the wood and other substances from which it was made, the process of making, the story of its design, its passage through the hands of dealers. Gradually it will be found that facts and information come to light of which the aspirant was hitherto unaware. That is the secret of Meditation – the possibility of actually learning without books, by active mental contact with the information sought.
The aspirant who wishes to learn of love, unselfishness, or the reality of the Divine Spirit, can reach this knowledge through meditating positively but not vaguely upon it.
Meditation can also be used to solve any of life’s problems and difficulties. Simply state the problem in an absolutely dispassionate and impartial way, and wait steadily for the ideas relating to it to be drawn to the mind. A fair solution will almost inevitably arrive.
Meditation has to do with all the outer aspects and expressions of an object or quality – all its physical-plane attributes.
The third stage, Contemplation, has to do with the inner meaning, cause and Law behind any object or quality. In this case the mind ceases its activity and allows the subject of Contemplation to speak, to yield up its secret and reveal the mystery of its truth.
Having fully meditated upon the violin, if the aspirant could pass into the stage of Contemplation the envisaged instrument would disappear, leaving a space. Through that space would play the colours and forces of the subtler planes, those which form the Architype or Celestial pattern from which violins are made. The aspirant would learn the why and wherefore of a violin, its part in the evolutionary process and the actual creative quality of its particular tone. These things would come to him in a form of knowledge not clothed in words, and he would be at a loss how best to register and translate it for his physical use.
The fourth and last stage of this science is Adoration, and of this it is even less easy to speak.
Having learnt both the outer and inner meaning of his subject, the aspirant has reached to the core of it. He discovers the core of it to be the same as the core of himself – both spring from and are a part of the Mind of the Divine Creator. Having pierced through to this glorious and blinding realization, the aspirant can lose himself for a brief spell in the knowledge of that perfect Unity of Love. This is his moment of Adoration.
Through the steady practice of Meditation man can cease to be as a puppet dancing on the end of a string jerked by some unknown hand. He can learn to climb the string with his mind and will and take control of the hand. He can become the friend and associate of the Owner of the hand, and finally gain the freedom of complete identification with Him.
It must always be remembered when trying to describe non-physical states that physical language contains no suitable words or phrases. The unaccustomed brain must be presented with a simile only. When, through study or meditation, the brain has developed and adjusted itself the same truths can be presented in a more advanced manner which would not have been understood before. Therefore it is true to say that there is always much that is superficially incorrect in occult teaching because the neophyte brain must be coaxed along step by step, the pill of truth coated with the sugar of inaccuracy, until it becomes palatable in its purest form. However, books or no books, the truth is always there for those who desire it above all else.
Another type of work for those who wish to push forward is Group Meditation, or the blending of a small group of people to meditate in unselfish brotherhood together.
Inasmuch as this calls for the breaking down of many of the barriers that exist between the nicest of people – barriers of self-consciousness, intolerance, criticism, and egocentricity – it is obviously a very fine practice.
Christ said, ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’ Thus pointing out that unity is strength on spiritual as well as on physical levels.
It may be inquired whether prayers do not suffice instead of Meditation. Prayers are the five-finger exercises, the ABC of spiritual growth. As such they will for ever play their part. But he who is not content to remain spiritually in the nursery will sooner or later require to put himself more individually in touch with the realities
Vera Stanley Alder “The Finding of the Third Eye”