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From Intellect to Intuition - Chapter Six - Stages in Meditation
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 focused 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 focused 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 focusing 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."
- Underhill, Evelyn, Mysticism, page 58.

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