Preparing one’s self for meditation
In our days the ideas and knowledge of Occultism are becoming popularized and talked about in salons or even coffee-shops. However, there was a time when they used to be coveyed by Masters to attentive disciples who had been ethically and intellectually prepared to grasp them.
In our days meditation and respective practical knowledge are talked about off-handed. Personal views and practices are oftentimes very far from that sacred system, while the conduct of anyone professing to practice it turns out to be absolutely contrary to what meditative technique itself defines.
In our world we witness two categories of tendencies human beings fall under. The first tendency is spiritual; one directing man to universality and wisdom gained through collective experience. The second one, though, is material, focusing on the personal Ego, on temporary and egoistic aspirations having only to do with present. The purpose of successive earth incarnations is for us to learn how to distinguish those two tendencies and ultimately adopt the spiritual one.
To that end, i.e. for the sake of perfecting our being, there are Arhats and Initiates whose teachings and techniques aim at our faster mental and spiritual training. Meditation is a spiritual system, a practice using man himself like an experimental laboratory where his personal elements (physical, psychic and mental) are first distanced from the stimuli of the environment and then turned into spiritual elements through a stable mind and the guidanceof the human soul towards the Divine Self.
Meditation is the peak of becoming detached from senses, the means with which the fully conscious disciple manages to approach his Spiritual Soul. It is the mystic path already trodden by the Redeemed. Their traces on it have become rungs on the ascending ladder of evolution leading our own steps towards Light if we duly take each one at a time.
The course on the spiritual path, perfectly codified by the sage Patanjali and accepted by every true Master, is founded on the transcendent origin of the human soul, on the existence of the personal Ego or personality and on the development of the spiritual nature of the human Monad, its ultimate goal being to return to the Divine Core.
According to Patanjali the mystic process is built upon two solid structures: a) the ethical relationship with others and b) the relationship with our proper selves (Yama and Niyama). Being ethical, being virtuous in practice, is the aroma of wisdom and the expression of spirituality on the physical plane.
Just as personality is expressed in its own way under the influence of ignorance and separativeness owed to personal Ego, likewise individuality or otherwise our spiritual nature has a way of expressing itself which is channeled through the ocean of Universal Love and Wisdom. Virtue is the expression of our spiritual nature. And if our target is to adjust ourselves to our spiritual self, then we ought first to become virtuous.
It also seems that being virtuous or non-virtuous depends on this single choice the human being may make: on whether he is to choose what is good in favor of the whole or in favor of his personal self. In case he chooses the former i.e. to benefit the whole, then and only then does his personality’s spiritualization begin.
Virtues, being the expressions of spiritual soul, become models for him who wishes to approach his true Self. Concepts and actions that ring equity, truth, altruism and service to the fellow human beings, gentle feelings, understanding and humbleness compose the axis around which revolves a spiritual man’s conduct.
On the contrary, when personality is in the lead, Ego expresses itself on the ground of selfishness and shere egoism. In order to gratify his separative Ego, man struggles for self-projection and power over others and, to support the defects of his ignorance, he becomes unjust, a liar, a hypocrite, he becomes vain, greedy, lusty and arrogant.
We could say that whatever keeps a man bound to his senses and hooks human soul to the cycle of reincarnations is opposite to virtue and spirituality. Therefore, distancing ourselves from what nurtures personal Ego’s gratification and separativeness is an additional way for crushing selfish desire, in other words separativeness.
Human consciousness begins differentiating between the Spiritual and the Material when possessing a mind “ready to embrace the Universe”. Communication between the two is done through Antaskarana which, as H.P.B. says, is “the path between the divine and the human Egos” [Collected Writings, vol. XII, p. 633-4] and which cannot be broken as long as there is at least one spiritual element to serve “as joining thread” between the two.
Therefore, before setting out on systematic meditation, a disciple’s first goal is to understand the differences between the Lower and Higher Ego and, when fully comprehended and discriminated, to adjust the lower to the higher by a) observing himself and b) distancing himself from the things that gratify his personal Ego. If he is not well aware of that first and more essential step and has not put it to practice, then true mediation cannot be attained. A situation where personality attempts to approach the transcendent while its subconscious is full of attachments and selfish aspirations can only lead to hardships bound to affect both the psychic and physical body and to keep the aspirant aloof from the spiritual target for as long as karma has predetermined as to such abuse of the sacred method.
An excerpt from a letter of Maha – Cohan [Letters from the Masters, p.478] says: “All of us have to get rid of our own Ego, the illusory apparent self, to recognise our true Self in a transcendental divine life. But if we would not be selfish, we must strive to make other people see that truth, to recognise the reality of that transcendental Self, the Buddha, the Christ or God of every preacher”.
Preparing one’s self for meditation may be done by following a pattern fashioned after the meditative technique but it is mainly practice on a daily basis that counts. The practitioner observes his behaviour and if not in tune with the spiritual model, he notices where it lacks and tries not to repeat it. Obviously, trying to assimilate ourselves with the spiritual model is a very difficult and long-term conquest. Yet, he who has really become aware of the purpose in life never gives up.
“Remember, thou that fightest for man’s liberation, each failure is success, and each sincere attempt wins its reward in time. The holy germs that sprout and grow unseen in the disciple’s soul, their stalks wax strong at each new trial, they bend like reeds but never break, nor can they e’er be lost. But when the hour has struck they blossom forth…” [The Voice of the Silence, p.62]
Patanjali, the recorder of the Yoga Sutras refers to the discipline of the personality in the following manner:
Yama – the discipline, behavioral control – the five abstentions
Niyama – self-observation, development of discipline – the five rules
- Dedication to the Ideal
While he summarizes the science of control of the mind with the following wording:
Yoga that means the union of opposites, can be defined as follows:
“The Yoga is to overcome the functions of intelligent principle (Mind), which leads to ultimate residense of the Representative (Purusha-Spirit) in its true nature.”
The partial overcoming cognitive function during wakefulness (which includes the states of agitation and ignorance) does not lead to the liberation of form … Because such small excess not uproots the seeds of rebirth in the life sufferings and also does not put an end to the impressions ( samskara) produced by Mind functions.