"Right meditation requires concentrated one-pointedness at all times and regular periods of intense absorption in exalted states of consciousness." — The Aquarian Almanac

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November 28, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: Right Meditation

” Hear the voice of the Bard!

Who Present, Past and Future sees,

Whose ears have heard

The Holy Word

That walked among the ancient trees.”

– William Blake

November 29, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: Right Meditation

” Verily, from meditation arises wisdom; without meditation wisdom wanes. Knowing these two paths of progress and decline, let a man so conduct himself that his wisdom may increase.”

— Buddha

November 30, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: Right Meditation

” During meditation, keep in mind

Unobstructed as space;

After meditation, regard the flow of events

As a rainbow.”

— The VIIth Dalai Lama

“Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.”

— Mark Twain

S.D.i.281

"All are entitled to the grateful reverence of Humanity, however, and man ought to be ever striving to help the divine evolution of Ideas, by becoming to the best of his ability a co-worker with nature in the cyclic task. The ever unknowable and incognizable Karana alone, the Causeless Cause of all causes, should have its shrine and altar on the holy and ever untrodden ground of our heart—invisible, intangible, unmentioned, save through "the still small voice" of our spiritual consciousness. Those who worship before it, ought to do so in the silence and the sanctified solitude of their Souls *; making their spirit the sole mediator between them and the Universal Spirit, their good actions the only priests, and their sinful intentions the only visible and objective sacrificial victims to the Presence."
--------

 "When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are . . . but enter into thine inner chamber and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret." Matt. vi.). Our Father is within us "in Secret," our 7th principle, in the "inner chamber" of our Soul perception. "The Kingdom of Heaven" and of God "is within us" says Jesus, not outside. Why are Christians so absolutely blind to the self-evident meaning of the words of wisdom they delight in mechanically repeating?

December 1, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: Right Meditation

” Perfection in meditation comes from persevering devotion to the Supreme Soul.”

— Patanjali

What would wrong meditation be?

Maybe allowing oneself to remain passive.
I think of Mr. Judge's mantra
"Hit the Mark, o Friend, And that Mark is the Indestructible The Highest Spiritual Life We are at any time capable of."

Do not meditate on the temporary but on the Eternal.

Passivity leads to unchosen psychic influences.  Nature abhors a vacuum.  The SD and theosophical literature is strong on this point.

"Passivity leads to unchosen psychic influences.  Nature abhors a vacuum.  The SD and theosophical literature is strong on this point."

Passivity in meditation is a mental vacuum where the active will is absent, which could open one to negative influences.   In this passive state the lower mind continues to be busy and uncontrolled, which does not meet the basic requirement of "true" meditation.  Coming out from a passive meditation is like waking up from an ordinary sleep where student is no more wiser than before.

Well if focusing the attention of the mind for any significant length of time might qualify as meditation at some level then..  wrong meditation might have to do with meditating on the wrong thing: money, sex, power, position, the errors or short-comings of others etc. etc.  It seems to me that modern life and perhaps for most of us, the days are full of wrong meditation on one thing or another. Perhaps this is why the Buddha put such an emphasis on heedfulness or mindfulness.  We need to keep pushing the mind back to healthy themes and universal perspectives.

And perhaps this is the fundamental difference between meditation and contemplation. The former designed to bring one to a state of peaceful, graceful, receptivity... the latter to shed light on the darker aspects of the mind and psyche for healing. 

I have not been able to see the importance of drawing this distinction too sharply. In the end we are talking about mental posture and in a given session of time we might be both correcting the posture, posing a question, basking in an idea and receiving a vibration or a thought.  I think the connection between the two is more helpful and interesting than the distinction if you see what I mean.  Both contemplation and meditation are in short supply in our culture I would say however we define them.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on December 2, 2015 at 12:19pm

December 2, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: Right Meditation

“Secrecy in the power of meditation and the key to initiation.”

— Count Cagliostro

“By setting a particular time for meditation a habit is formed, and as the time comes round the mind will, after a while, become trained, to that meditation at that particular time will become natural.”

— W.Q. Judge

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 2, 2015 at 8:23pm

Here is one of my favorite passages in Theosophical literature concerning meditation.  See what you think?

"Meditation is a fiery brooding on that majestical Self.  We imagine ourselves into Its vastness.  We conceive ourselves as mirroring Its infinitude, as moving in all things, as living in all beings, in earth, water, air, fire, aether.   We try to know as It knows, to live as it lives, to be compassionate as It is compassionate.  We equal ourselves to It that we may understand It and become It."

-William Russell or A.E.  The Candle of Vision page 27

Permalink Reply by Laura on December 4, 2015 at 3:51am
What should be the outcome of our meditation?
Permalink Reply by Ryan Hauck on December 4, 2015 at 4:56am

IMHO, there can be no outcome held in my in meditation, simply because through this practice we are releasing all thoughts, idea's, and bringing the mind to a stand still, so that the light of Truth may shine in our awareness. 

I can remember in the early days of my meditation practice, I always held an intention or outcome in mind and I always found there to be incessant activity in my mind. Always concerned with doing it "Right" or "Wrong".

There is a perfect Reality, here and now, and to perceive it one must be truly still and receptive to its presence. 

"Be Still and Know..." 

AUM 

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 4, 2015 at 10:50am

The stillness is not a passivity, that is where the mistake lies and danger lurks.  The stillness comes from an undeviating focus.  AE describes it well in the quote above.  We are not shutting down the mind per say.  The lower mind must be stilled of course so that higher mind can take precedence. The lower mind wants to leap from topic to topic, desire to desire, personal concern to personal concern.  It cannot be made steady without training and practice. Making your mind go blank is akin to sleep.  That is not meditation and you cannot really do it even if you tried.

If we center the mind on an idea like "perfect Reality" or something high like that we are bound to be drawn  towards it, or perhaps to whatever our conception of that idea might be.  That is why we need philosophy and insight to be conjoined with meditation.  The richer the conception the deeper the meditation at least potentially.

Permalink Reply by Ryan Hauck on December 4, 2015 at 11:15am

What I meant was that there is a perfect reality which does not require our participation to be. Therefore meditation becomes the practice of withdrawing all mental participation with the moment, so that this perfection may dawn in our awareness.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 7, 2015 at 7:44pm

"Withdrawing all mental participation with the moment" is a very interesting expression.  The New Agers are always preaching "living in the moment". But this expression you give here seems to point to the capacity of a human being to withdraw the mind from their present conditions and place it on an object of choice.

Permalink Reply by Ryan Hauck on December 8, 2015 at 5:13am

Not exactly.

If we are still we will notice that the mind is continually projecting meaning onto what we are observing, or thinking. Withdrawing from this mental activity allows us to bear witness to the present moment as it is. 

This would be the key to Vedanta or self inquiry. 

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on December 9, 2015 at 8:48am

Does one leap to seeing things as they are?  Or like the rest of growth in nature is not this capacity produced incrementally and through training and practice?

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 4, 2015 at 9:46am

To draw our lives closer to our Higher Self.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on December 5, 2015 at 5:48pm
"What should be the outcome of our meditation?"
Hi Laura:
 
What a great question.  It makes me pause and think.  I believe, every school has different views on this since they have different goals but they all one thing in common i.e., the emphasis on the restraint of the lower mind.  
 
The VOS makes a strong statement on the importance of meditation when the first instruction on the first page to the students is -
 
"He who would hear the voice of Nada, "the Soundless Sound" and comprehend it, he has to learn the nature of Dharana
 
Having become indifferent to objects of perception, the pupil must seek out the rajah of the senses, the Thought-Producer, he who awakes illusion. 
 
The Mind is the Slayer of the Real.  Let the Disciple slay the Slayer."
 
The above instruction tells us the outcome of meditation, which is, the awakening from illusion.  Of course, the process is very gradual.  The persistent practice can help the students to acquire the skill to control the times of distractions and bring the mental vehicle into quiescence in hopes to be able to penetrate deeper into the Real. 
 
There is one very powerful passage on this topic in ML, pg 343,  which gives us a glimpse of the attainment by very advanced souls in Samadhi (or contemplation).
 
"the divine Self perceived or seen by Self" the Atman or seventh principle ridded of its Mayavic distinction from its Universal Source - which becomes the object of perception from its Universal Source - which becomes the object of perception for, and by the individuality centered in Buddhi, the sixth principle, - something that happens only in the highest state of Samadhi. 
 
 
Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on December 4, 2015 at 10:26am

December 4, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: Right Meditation

“Man’s unhappiness comes of his greatness; it is because there is an Infinite in him, which with all his cunning he cannot quite bury under the Finite.” — Thomas Carlyle

“Perform n miracles for me,

But justify Thy laws to me

Which, as the years pass by me,

All soundlessly unfold.”

— Rainer Maria Rilke

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Laura on December 7, 2015 at 4:56am
Awakening from illusion! Brings to mind Krishna calling Arjuna "fortunes favored soldier". We, as Arjuna, are aware, but we still have to fight!" It seems we still have habits and.thoughts contrary to the Goal that must be torn out by the roots. Meditation makes us aware of where the.obstacles are.
Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on December 7, 2015 at 7:48pm

Yes if we cannot establish some critical distance from the personality we will never be able to determine the blockages that prevent the light from streaming through the vestures.  We do a ton of editing to avoid really looking at the shadow self.  The personality resists evaluation.  One teacher said that the personality or the lower desire mind lets say tends to either want to be the best or the worst when in reality it is mediocre.

Permalink Reply by james E Orchard on December 9, 2015 at 12:12am

Meditation for most starts as a dreamy ‘mystical’ meditation often having astral flashes etc..

As time/lifetimes pass we normally progress to better and more focused types of meditation taught by different spiritual groups or traditions like Buddhism, which normally have different levels within their own structure. Mindfulness, or the ability to control the mind at all times is the desired goal for most advanced schools of meditation although their methods may vary

All this coupled with right thought, right speech, right action, eventually  helps builds the antahkarana which is need to access what is often called the Higher Self.

Those who move to the Occultist/ Yoga path discover that it is the correct training and use of the mind that allows them to see the meaning behind  symbols, and understands what is described in preface of VOS that symbols speak all languages.

VOS Quote; The easiest way however, is that which allows the reader to use no special, or any language he likes, as the signs and symbols were, like the Arabian numerals or figures, common and international property among initiated mystics and their followers.

All forms of life consist of three levels, (1) the outer physical form which is a symbols of (2) an inner ‘spiritual idea’ which can eventually be understood through meditation. Beyond this idea is  (3) the Spiritual meaning or purpose which I suggest may be known only to the higher Initiates.

To explain a little further exoterically we have Spirit, Soul, Body, which HPB states esoterically is known  as Electric fire, Solar fire, Fire by friction, which  are three separate evolutions and relate to the previous three levels of symbols mentioned.

The quote below gives a brief idea of what I am trying to get across with right discrimination in meditation separating the unreal from the real, or nature and its cause.

This is also known as Contemplation, when one goes beyond the subject of the meditation and touches the truth behind it, or its cause.

At this stage one is unaware of separateness or the personal self, this is contemplation or Samadhi.

 Knowing this the Blessed One uttered this solemn utterance:

“When the real nature of things becomes clear to the meditating Bhikshu, then all his doubts fade away since he has learned what is that nature and what its cause. From ignorance spring all the evils. From knowledge comes the cessation of this mass of misery, and then the meditating Brahmana stands dispelling the hosts of Mara like the sun that illuminates the sky.”

Meditation here means the superhuman (not supernatural) qualities, or arhatship in its highest of spiritual powers....  ML 88

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on December 7, 2015 at 10:08pm

December 6, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: The Fourth Ashrama: Selfless Service

” He who sees Me everywhere and sees all in Me, to him I am never lost, nor is he lost to Me.”

— Shri Krishna

” Inflame your sense of service and then serve everything that comes to your eye, realizing that they are mere forms of Mine.”

— Dnyaneshvar

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on December 7, 2015 at 10:10pm

December 7, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: The Fourth Ashrama: Selfless Service

” In the turbid waters of painful existence

Innumberable beings cry out and groan.

If, hearing them, your spine does not shiver,

Your heart cannot be considered human.”

— The VIIth Dalai Lama

Permalink Reply by Peter on December 9, 2015 at 5:02am

As we are looking at the Noble Eightfold Path taught by the Buddha, the following might be useful.  In general terms all the teachings of the Buddha are said to fall into three main categories.

Ethical Conduct (sila)
Mental Discipline (samadhi)
Wisdom (Panna)

These are reflected in the Eightfold Path as follows:

Wisdom                 Right Understanding
                             Right Thought
Ethical Conduct     Right Speech
                             Right Action
                             Right Livelihood
Mental Discipline   Right Effort
                             Right Mindfulness
                             Right Concentration

It might seem odd that Wisdom, the very thing we are striving for comes first.  The idea here is that Right Understanding and Right Thought needs to inform and provide the basis for the development of Ethical Conduct and Mental Discipline.   The Path is not linear, hence Wisdom develops (hopefully) as the aspirant practices the other aspects of the Path and this in turns informs practice & so on until Enlightenment or Liberation is achieved.

Our current study study topic of Right Meditation is normally translated as Right Mindfulness in Buddhism.  The term ‘meditation’ is a very general one and could be used as an umbrella term for both Right Mindfulness (sama sati)  and Right Concentration (sama samadhi).  During the meditation session itself it could be said to embrace all three aspects of Mental Discipline, as shown above.  Some of the members comments so far most likely refer more to the next step of the Path, Right Concentration.  Below is an extract from the suttas (sutras), illustrating the difference between these two aspects of the Eightfold Path as explained by the Buddha:

“And what, monks, is right mindfulness? Here, monks, a monk dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed longing and dejection in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed longing and dejection in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating mind in mind, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed longing and dejection in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed longing and dejection in regard to the world. This is called right mindfulness.

“And what, monks, is right concentration?  Here, monks, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a monk enters into and dwells in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by thought and examination, with rapture and happiness born of seclusion. With the subsiding of thought and examination, he enters into and dwells in the second jhāna, which has internal confidence and unification of mind, is without thought and examination and has rapture and happiness born of concentration.  With the fading away as well of rapture, he dwells equanimous and, mindful and clearly comprehending, he experiences happiness with the body; he enters and dwells in the third jhāna of which the noble ones declare: ‘He is equanimous, mindful, one who dwells happily.’ With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and dejection, he enters and dwells in the fourth jhāna which is neither painful nor pleasant and includes the purification of mindfulness by equanimity. This is called right concentration.”

(Samyuta Nikaya 45::8; V 8 0 10)

Permalink Reply by Peter on December 10, 2015 at 4:31am

We shouldn’t take the Buddha’s description of ‘Right Concentration’ i.e. achieving the four stages of jnana (meditative absorptions, samadhi), as his last word on the subject.  By his own account he describes how he had already mastered these four jnanas as a Bodhisattva, yet still had not achieved the final enlightenment  which he sought.  The Buddha describes a further step which led to his realisation. This consisted of three stages of ‘true knowledge’ attained during his night under the Bodhi Tree.  Having easily passed through the four jnanas (absorptions), and when his mind was “concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability,” he directed his mind to:

- the direct knowledge of all his past lives of which there were hundreds of thousands accompanied by the coming into being and dissolutions of worlds. 

 the direct knowledge of the passing away and rebirth of beings. With the aid of  “the divine eye” he directly saw the unfolding of the law of cause and effect (Karma) as a result of the actions of sentient beings, which led each one to be born in different circumstances and states.

- the direct knowledge of the causes of suffering and the destruction of those causes,which knowledge along with the destruction of taints led to his final liberation.

(Mahāsaccaka Sutta)

In another sutta, we find the Buddha describing further states of absorption, the ‘formless’ or immaterial jnanas.   Having mastered the first four (material) jnanas, and having realised that the skandhas are impermanent and devoid of ’self’, he says the aspirant should turn his/her “…mind away from those states and direct it towards the deathless element..”  The next stages include:

- transcending the perception of forms . . a monk enters upon and dwells in the base of the infinity of space.’

- transcending the base of the infinity of space . .  a monk enters upon and dwells in the infinity of consciousness.’

- transcending the base of the infinity of consciousness . . a monk enters upon and dwells in the base of nothingness.

(Mahāmālunkya Sutta)

Elsewhere we find an eighth jnana, transcending the seventh above - the base of ’neither perception nor non perception.’

In the Mahayana schools, we find other approaches to meditation.  However, overall, we see that meditation taught as an aspect of the Eight Fold Path involves a systematic approach built upon Understanding and Moral Conduct. Together, these three are the underlying structure of the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path, itself, needs to be understood as part of the Four Noble Truths, of which it is the Fourth.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on December 12, 2015 at 1:40pm

Peter,

This is very good information about the four stages of jnana in Buddhism.  Below is a passage about the Buddha from the Mahatma Letters, page 59.

" Knowing this the blessed one uttered this solemn utterance.  When the real nature of things becomes clear to the meditating Bikshu, then all his doubts fade away since he has learned what is that nature and what its cause.  From ignorance springs all the evils.  From knowledge comes the cessation of this mass of misery,  and then the meditating Brahmana stands dispelling the hosts of Mara like the sun that illuminates the sky."

Meditation here means the superhuman (not supernatural) qualities or arhatship in its highest of spiritual powers."


 

Permalink Reply by Peter on December 13, 2015 at 9:45am

Thanks, Barbara - good to know it may prove useful.  BTW - apologies for my misleading spelling, chana (as in meditative absorption or samadhi) is spelt with an 'h', not an 'n'.

Permalink Reply by Peter on December 15, 2015 at 1:52am

If only the automatic spelling corrector would let me spell words my own way!  The above should say:  

"..jhana (as in meditative absorption samadhi) is spelt with an 'h' not an 'n'.