Joseph J. Weed
Much has been written and said about meditation, but in spite of the vast amount of information available, a great many students and esotericists actually have very little practical knowledge of it. This, therefore, seems a subject which it will profit us to examine and make the center of our discussion today.
In the teaching there are many hints and suggestions on proper meditation. All of you remember that we are told to sit quietly and relax, preferably in a darkened or dimly lighted room. Our chair or seat should be comfortable but at the same time enable us to sit in an upright position. It is important that the spine be straight, not curved or bent, and that the head be held erect, not hanging forward, or falling back, or tipped to one side. We should strive to find a quiet place where we can have privacy. This is to enable us to concentrate.
To the inexperienced student, concentration is extremely difficult. The slightest movement or sound provides distraction, which is usually sufficient to break his train of thought and send his mind wandering up blind alleys of recollection. When this occurs he should not be discouraged but should bring his attention back to the central idea again and again, until eventually he finds he can hold it there without deviation for three or four minutes. This is good concentration.
As he develops his ability to concentrate, the student will find that he can effectively shut out many minor distractions. This will make it possible for him to meditate successfully under circumstances far from private, as for example while traveling as a passenger in a plane or train, or even an automobile. But, at first he must try to find a place as quiet and private as possible, dim the lights and sit upright in a chair with feet separated and hands resting in the lap. When meditating in a group the hands should be unclasped resting palms down upon the knees, but when meditating alone they may sometimes be clasped according to the instructions given in the monograph under study.
At first our meditation exercise is but little more than this – an exercise. We practice concentration upon an object, a person or an idea. In order to aid us in our concentration we try to visualize, to see in our mind's eye, the object, person or thought under study. Eventually we achieve a fair degree of success and we are then ready for the next step. It is not necessary to go into detail on these preliminary steps because they are given many times in the exercise instructions and I am certain that everyone is familiar with them.
When we have learned to concentrate we are then taught practical aspiration. We are told to "turn our gaze upwards from the things around us to the blue heavens above." This is a technique for lifting the consciousness and raising the vibratory rate. Aspiration should permeate and flavor all of our esoteric work. It is a yearning of the heart for the higher things of life – reaching upward into the spiritual world. This tends to provide us with the opportunity to achieve these yearned for objectives. Sometimes the roadway to these objectives turns out to be not quite so pleasant as we would like it to be, and we are apt to think then that we have made a mistake. But remember, the Master has referred to these tests and trials as the "divine obstacles" which when met and overcome enable the striving one to reach ever greater heights.
There are also certain traps, certain pitfalls which are encountered in our aspirational progress. One of these is sentiment. It is so easy to become sentimental, and so impractical. Avoid sentimentality. This will usually take the form of attachment to persons, places or things, a desire for the old rather than the new. Karmic connections are not referred to here. The obligations one has to wife or parent or employer or friend must be recognized and fulfilled. Sentimentality is not involved here – or should not be. But, when one refuses to move to a new home because he "likes the old place", he is being sentimental. When one keeps a tool long after it has outlived its usefulness, he is being sentimental. Aspiration stirs the heart energy and this can lead one into sentimentality if one is not aware. For the heart is kind and when one desires to be kind, one is sometimes misled into being sentimental and foolish.
There are other pitfalls which face the aspiring one, but they are far too numerous to detail here. A major trap, which deserves mention, is a tendency to assume responsibility for anothers moral conduct. This is a serious mistake and leads to fanaticism. The so-called "bleeding hearts" and "do-gooders" are mild manifestations of this same trend.
The way of aspiration is long and sometimes it has many turnings. But eventually the earnest student reach a point in his development where a shift in emphasis from aspiration to will is necessary. The time has then arrived for him to be more positive in his method of advancing toward the goal of his aspiration. This amounts to a new deal. It does not mean aspiration is abandoned. Far from it. But it does mean that the purpose of the aspiration and the process of aspiration, has been essentially fulfilled. From the very beginning of his conscious striving on the Path, aspiration has nourished the student's will, teaching it the way and developing its form. Now the developed will is ready to do the work for which it has been trained and so the emotional process of aspiration recedes into the background as the mental processes under the guidance of the will take over.
It is at this point that we in effect say to ourselves that we have decided to live as spiritual beings. This marks the end of sentiment. We now consciously assume the responsibilities of the Path and assert ourselves ready to take on the burdens of an adult human being. This is a spiritual "coming of age" at which point we should look upon the attractions of the material world as the toys of our childhood which are from now onward to be used for constructive purposes only. In addition, we must now bring our minds into play and our wills to bear upon the problems of the day.
True, we have done this in the past, sometimes with great success, but always with a personal, an exclusive end in view. Now we must view world problems and national events in the light of the common good as our intuition presents it to us and strive toward the solutions to these problems which will bring them into line with the "plan of God" as far as we can know it.
This step involves a change in our meditation, a basic change. Hitherto, much of our meditation has been passive, now all of it must be positive, active. True, in group meditation and in the early stages of personal meditation, we are told to "sit passive and relaxed and allow thoughts and ideas to enter your mind". In the early stages of personal meditation, this instruction is given as the best technique available to the student at that stage of his development; in group meditation it is designed to promote attunement, an opening of the consciousness so that there may be a flow and interplay between the psychic bodies and minds of the various members of the group. This change in meditation form from aspiration to willful control, from negative to positive attitude, is serious and must not be undertaken lightly. This is a moment of dedication and sacrifice which when accepted and decision made, can lead on to initiation. For as we make this decision and perform this conscious act of the will, we come into the company of the will, of those who hold the Plan of God inviolate, and we shall never again be alone.
What is the significance of this decision, of this step ? It means, first, that we must strive for complete and utter impersonality. This is difficult to attain because it involve true forgetfulness of self. Properly achieved, one's own problems fade into insignificance. The troubles are still there, but they are no longer important. And the second significance is that we may now begin to meditate intuitively. As we turn the force of our meditation and the full power of our will toward an unselfish objective, toward a goal for the common good, a door in our consciousness opens and the light of the intuition pours through it. Thus, the striving one is guided to ever more fruitful and effective rneditative techniques, which will lead him into a higher state of consciousness, into Cosmic Consciousness.
We are all familiar with the use of the will. We use our wills every day, usually under the urging of desire. For it is true that in most of us the will is but the tool of desire. We see people all around us who sacrifice themselves for objectives greater than themselves. This is will in action, but, unfortunately the objects of these sacrifices, these unusual demonstrations of will power and will control, are nearly always tinged with selfishness. Even the most unselfish and most altruistic of persons usually wants to look good in the eyes of his fellowman, and hence colors his sacrifice with a personal tinge. These personal infections must be recognized and eliminated before our meditations will fully achieve the results we seek and hope for.
It can be done. Partial success will come early, but full success is not easy, and there will be many slide backs into old ways; but it can be done, and will be done. The serious student must achieve eventually an immense, nonexclusive and utterly impersonal point of view if he would have success with his meditations. From that point of view all relationships become perceptible in their true nature. Material things, and especially time become quite incidental as deeper understanding comes. This is true intuition.
So we see that meditation is at first an exercise in concentration, then it becomes aspiration with both passive and active periods, and finally it becomes entirely active and represents a dynamic effort of will.
When we first start to meditate we may take hours with no discernible results, but when we reach the positive will stage, a powerful and effective meditation may be achieved in three or four minutes.
These are the stages of meditative growth. That each one of you may successfully attain all of them is my most earnest prayer for you.
Joseph J. Weed
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A Rosicrucian Speaks
Joseph J. Weed
Copyright, The Chatsworth Press
Last Modified: January 19, 2014