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From Intellect to Intuition - Chapter Five - Stages in Meditation
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."
- Pfeiffer, Franz, Meister Eckhart, pages 196-197.

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 wavering 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"When withdrawn from traditional teaching, thy soul shall stand steadfast, firm in soul vision, then thou shalt gain union with the soul."
- Bhagavad Gita, VI, 34-35, II, 52-53.

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 center 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 many 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, non-physical 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."
- Morgan, C. Lloyd, Emergent Evolution, page 37.

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 reading 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 [103] recorded 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.

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