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From Intellect to Intuition - Chapter Nine - The Practice of Meditation
CHAPTER NINE

The Practice of Meditation

"It is to be noticed that the Doctrine of this Book instructs not all sorts of Persons, but those only who keep the Senses and Passions well mortified, who have already advanced and made progress in Prayer, and are called by God to the Inward Way, wherein He encourages and guides them, freeing them from the obstacles which hinder their course to perfect Contemplation."

Michael de Molinos, The Spiritual Guide

Up to this point our discussion has been academic and comparative, discursive and indicatory. The Way that many have trodden has been pointed out, and the Path to Illumination has been considered. Now it behooves us to apply ourselves to an understanding of the practical work that we ourselves can do. Otherwise the entire objective of our study of meditation will be lost, and we shall only have increased our responsibility, without having made any real advance upon the Way.

Two pertinent questions immediately arise and should receive attention.

  • First: Can anyone, who has the desire, profit by and master the technique of Meditation?
  • Second: The Knowers of the East gained Illumination by retiring from the world into seclusion and silence. Owing to conditions of life in our Occidental civilization, this is not possible. Can there be hope of success without this disappearance into the solitudes of the world, into the forests and jungles, and into monastic seclusion?

Let us take each question and deal with it. These two questions must be disposed of and answered before we can go on to outline meditation work and indicate the method which it is advisable to follow. [200]

In replying to the first question, as to the general suitability of all aspirants for this arduous work, it should be remembered, at the outset, that the very urge itself to do so can be taken as indicating the call of the soul to the Path of Knowledge. No one should be deterred if he discovers that he lacks in certain essentials the needed qualifications. Most of us are bigger and wiser, and better equipped than we realize. We can all begin to concentrate at once if we choose. We possess a great deal of knowledge, mental power, and capacities, which have never been drawn forth from the realm of the subconscious into objective usefulness; anyone who has watched the effect of Meditation upon the beginner will substantiate this statement - often to the mental bewilderment of the beginner, who does not know what to do with his discoveries. The results of the first step in the Meditation discipline, i.e., of Concentration, are often amazing. People "find" themselves; they discover hidden capacities and an understanding never used before; they develop an awareness, even of the phenomenal world, which is, to them, miraculous; they suddenly register the fact of the mind, and that they can use it, and the distinction between the knower and the instrument of knowledge becomes steadily and revealingly apparent. At the same time there is also registered a sense of loss. The old dreamy states of bliss and peace, with which the mystic prayer and meditation had dowered them, disappear; and, temporarily, they experience a sense of aridity, of lack and of an [201] emptiness which is frequently most distressing. This is due to the fact that the focus of attention is away from the things of the senses, no matter how beautiful. The things that the mind knows and can record are not yet registered, nor is the feeling apparatus making its familiar impacts upon the consciousness. It is a period of transition, and must be supported until such time as the new world begins to make its impress upon the aspirant. This is one reason why persistence and perseverance must play their part, particularly in the early stages of the meditation process.

One of the first effects of the meditation work is usually an increased efficiency in the daily life, whether lived in the home, the office, or in any field of human endeavor. Mental application to the business of living is in itself a concentration exercise and brings notable results. Whether a man achieves final illumination or not through the practice of concentration and meditation, he will nevertheless have gained much, and greatly enriched his life; his usefulness and power will be enormously increased and his sphere of influence widened.

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