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From Intellect to Intuition - Chapter Six - Stages in Meditation
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'."
- Bennett, Charles A., A Philosophical Study of Mysticism, page 62.

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."
- The Vishnu Purana, VI, 7, 90.

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 focused 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.

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