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Books > Yoga > The Art of Mediation (A talk delivered at 'Olcott', Wheaton, Illinois, in the summer of 1935)
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The Art of Mediation (A talk delivered at 'Olcott', Wheaton, Illinois, in the summer of 1935)
The Art of Mediation (A talk delivered at 'Olcott', Wheaton, Illinois, in the summer of 1935)
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From the Book:

PEOPLE are apt to think that meditation to be successful must be accompanied by some astral phenomenon-seeing forms, colours, hearing sounds, bells, and so forth. Even some purely physical sensations-a shiver along the spine, a tingling in the finger tips-those examples have come to me, and they are hailed with delight and proclaimed on the housetops, to the dismay of those who have had no such experiences, and therefore consider their own meditations as failures.

Surely, such trivial and often foolish manifestations do not constitute a successful meditation. They are rather an obstacle, because they draw the attention away from the inner realities. It is better to see and hear nothing on the psychic planes, so that the consciousness, wholly turned inwards, may reach communion with the Divine and gradually unify the personal self with the Ego consciousness.

Those who say they can see no results are sometimes more successful than they imagine, for those near and dear to them seem them grow in patient understanding, in greater peace; and that is a proof that the intuitional principle, the buddhi, as we say in Theosophy, is being slowly released in meditation and is filtering down into the brain consciousness.

Let us now consider a few of the requirements for successful meditation. The first is that we shall be thoroughly convinced of the creative power of thoughts. Unless we have the conviction that we are actually doing something, meditation will be a mere form. We profess to believe in the power of thought, we speak about it, we teach it, but the way we forget all about it when difficulties confront us and indulge in depressing or destructive thoughts, in worries great and small, shows that it is mere lip-belief. It reminds me of the people who go the church, or the temple, and so on, as a matter of course, singing hymns or repeating prayers, and then go back home to their ordinary and usual lives, forgetting all about it.

I have often wished we could see the astral and mental creatures we send out into the world. But it is perhaps merciful that we do not, for the sense of our responsibility might crush us.

So in order to meditate successfully, we must be convinced that it is a powerful creative act-not a mere dreaming and 'feeling good'.

Then we must have a certain amount of concentration, which is a most difficult thing for us. Our life passes so hurriedly from one thing to another, that we are practically living all the time in the past, present and future. In the past, vaguely remembering what we should have done and did not do or did imperfectly; in the present, with only part of our attention focused upon what we are dong; in the future, already dreaming of what we shall do next. Of course, certain professional and technical occupations command more attention and more concentration; but on the whole, our attention is very seldom undivided. Take, for instance, the reading of the daily newspaper. We take in the headlines about murders and kidnappings, but how many of us could give a complete and intelligent account of the trend of events in their own country and elsewhere!

We would develop the concentration required for a successful meditation if we had the courage to concentrate upon everything we do, upon every chore however uninteresting; in short, if we lived intensely and fully in the present as J. Krishnamurti advises. But it is so much easier to let the mind drift and flit about like a butterfly.

Meditation is an individual matter, and each must find what suits him best. But general methods and instruction have been given from time to time, and we might perhaps consider some of those methods.

Let us suppose the time has come for our daily meditation. I take it for granted that each one of you realizes the importance of meditating daily, at the same hour, in the same place, if possible, so as to take advantage of the rhythm set up by such regularity.

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The Art of Mediation (A talk delivered at 'Olcott', Wheaton, Illinois, in the summer of 1935)

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2003
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English
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From the Book:

PEOPLE are apt to think that meditation to be successful must be accompanied by some astral phenomenon-seeing forms, colours, hearing sounds, bells, and so forth. Even some purely physical sensations-a shiver along the spine, a tingling in the finger tips-those examples have come to me, and they are hailed with delight and proclaimed on the housetops, to the dismay of those who have had no such experiences, and therefore consider their own meditations as failures.

Surely, such trivial and often foolish manifestations do not constitute a successful meditation. They are rather an obstacle, because they draw the attention away from the inner realities. It is better to see and hear nothing on the psychic planes, so that the consciousness, wholly turned inwards, may reach communion with the Divine and gradually unify the personal self with the Ego consciousness.

Those who say they can see no results are sometimes more successful than they imagine, for those near and dear to them seem them grow in patient understanding, in greater peace; and that is a proof that the intuitional principle, the buddhi, as we say in Theosophy, is being slowly released in meditation and is filtering down into the brain consciousness.

Let us now consider a few of the requirements for successful meditation. The first is that we shall be thoroughly convinced of the creative power of thoughts. Unless we have the conviction that we are actually doing something, meditation will be a mere form. We profess to believe in the power of thought, we speak about it, we teach it, but the way we forget all about it when difficulties confront us and indulge in depressing or destructive thoughts, in worries great and small, shows that it is mere lip-belief. It reminds me of the people who go the church, or the temple, and so on, as a matter of course, singing hymns or repeating prayers, and then go back home to their ordinary and usual lives, forgetting all about it.

I have often wished we could see the astral and mental creatures we send out into the world. But it is perhaps merciful that we do not, for the sense of our responsibility might crush us.

So in order to meditate successfully, we must be convinced that it is a powerful creative act-not a mere dreaming and 'feeling good'.

Then we must have a certain amount of concentration, which is a most difficult thing for us. Our life passes so hurriedly from one thing to another, that we are practically living all the time in the past, present and future. In the past, vaguely remembering what we should have done and did not do or did imperfectly; in the present, with only part of our attention focused upon what we are dong; in the future, already dreaming of what we shall do next. Of course, certain professional and technical occupations command more attention and more concentration; but on the whole, our attention is very seldom undivided. Take, for instance, the reading of the daily newspaper. We take in the headlines about murders and kidnappings, but how many of us could give a complete and intelligent account of the trend of events in their own country and elsewhere!

We would develop the concentration required for a successful meditation if we had the courage to concentrate upon everything we do, upon every chore however uninteresting; in short, if we lived intensely and fully in the present as J. Krishnamurti advises. But it is so much easier to let the mind drift and flit about like a butterfly.

Meditation is an individual matter, and each must find what suits him best. But general methods and instruction have been given from time to time, and we might perhaps consider some of those methods.

Let us suppose the time has come for our daily meditation. I take it for granted that each one of you realizes the importance of meditating daily, at the same hour, in the same place, if possible, so as to take advantage of the rhythm set up by such regularity.

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