”Better you not know, than to know and do nothing.”
After 40+ years of practicing meditation, it is encouraging to see a resurgence of interest in this ancient practice, but some of the comments about the meditation process are perplexing and often humorous. The most humorous comments describe mindfulness meditation practice as being “secular meditation.” These folks don’t realize the term secular meditation is an oxymoron. The definition of a secular person is “a material-minded person who is oriented to worldly things and not to things spiritual or religious.” The irony of this secular terminology is that mindfulness meditation has its origin in Buddhism and Buddhism considers the world to be the “abode of 10,000 things” which causes the mind to endlessly jump from one thing to another preventing it from being in the present moment. Buddhists who practice mindfulness meditation know that to be successful in stilling the mind, they have to withdraw from the world to practice.
Another contradiction is secular people often reject and/or separate themselves from anything to do with religion or spirituality. This is the case of “throwing the baby out with the bath water” because secular-minded people generally are not well versed regarding religion or the nature of the spiritual. The practice of religion is an entirely separate practice from that of meditation; one does not require the other although meditation really enhances the religious experience. On the other hand, successful meditation does require an understanding of working with energy and consciousness, better known as the spiritual nature. Meditation is about engaging, managing and mastering the following energies: the aches, pains, restlessness and agitation of the body; the likes and dislikes, impatience, anxiety and agitation of the emotions; the chattering-mind of the ego, misperceptions, delusions and the ceaseless volatility of the mind.
It is encouraging that people are embracing and practicing meditation; no effort is wasted. There is nothing to be concerned about with regard to practicing meditation because it is no different than holding a hand to a flame; if it gets uncomfortable, simply pull it back. However, when you do begin meditating, do not be deceived by the discomfort or impatience of the body and shorten your meditation; do not be deceived by the pull and desire of the senses to engage the world; and do not let the chattering-mind disturb your meditation. These are the initial challenges to overcome in order to gain control of life’s energies and begin meditating. Remember, there are many different styles of meditation, meaning there are many different “paths up the mountain.” It just depends on what a person hopes to accomplish; meditation goals range from relieving stress to spiritual awakening.
Those who are new to meditation have no idea of what the end result is in a meditation other than what an instructor or student might describe; this is how it begins for everyone. The benefits are hard to describe since they are subjective, like: peace of mind, a new sense of self, the elimination of fears and anxieties, an inner connectedness to life and a subtle feeling that you are loved. When people begin meditating, most of the time they do not have an established goal in mind for themselves. There is an old saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will do.” The primary reasons for writing this paper are to offer some advice on formulating and committing to a goal and establishing a disciplined system of practice that helps one to emulate the light, love and selflessness of Jesus Christ.
As far as a meditation goal – if you are a casual practitioner of a structureless meditation, the experience can be like tripping around in your mind on a merry-go-round. If you are happy with that, no problem; the merry-go-round experience is about all you will gain from the experience. No personal transformation takes place with this method of practice because the individual is aimlessly floating in the semi-conscious state of the numinous. Unstructured meditations can be pleasant, but are ineffective for transforming consciousness. With a defined goal and disciplined practice an individual can make steady progress to higher states of consciousness.
The meditation instructions on this site are transformative and will relieve stress, build self-confidence, subdue the chattering-mind, control bodily impulses, and stabilize the emotions depending on your level of expertise. Aside from achieving these basic benefits, these meditation practices will: eliminate personal fear, anxiety and insecurity bringing stability, courage and calm to the mind and heart; open consciousness to higher levels of understanding and greater awareness of self; connect the personal self to the Holy Trinity so it becomes cognizant to the guidance of the Spirit; and awaken personal consciousness to the spiritual Self. If practiced correctly, consistently and with discipline, one can experience the Kingdom of Heaven within – here and now.
Basic Principles of Meditation
The primary purpose of meditation is to become conscious of consciousness. Becoming conscious that we are conscious is something that “flies under the radar” of most people. We are all conscious, but we have no idea how it is that we are conscious because we really don’t know what consciousness is or where it comes from. These are the initial questions of ontology: what is consciousness, what is being, how is it that we are “wired” to be self-conscious? That last question is the key. We humans are the only self-conscious beings on the planet which simply means that we are able to turn our attention back upon ourselves and reflect on who we are. Essentially, this is meditation. Serious individuals who practice meditation for the purpose of spiritual awakening will become students of ontology – the science of being. Ontology studies consciousness, the vital life of the body, the vital light of the mind and the soul/spirit of the divine-human. This is the highest level of meditation practice because it means rising through and mastering the energies of the physical, psychic and mental in order to become cognizant of the spiritual nature. Spiritual awakening requires years of study as well as dedication, discipline and consistent meditation practice.
The first lesson of meditation is to become aware that consciousness can be focused – this focal point is the “light of attention.” Right now the light of “your attention” is being focused on these words, but in a moment it may be focused on an itch or it may turn to notice someone walking into the room or to daydream. In other words, the point of attention is constantly shifting to whatever sight, sound, activity or bodily sensation is most prominent in the immediate surroundings and sometimes it turns off and becomes unconscious like in sleep. This is the case with just about everyone; their attention is turned outward through their senses and sensual stimulation of the body to the activities of the world. The purpose of meditation is to rein in and consciously connect with the “point of attention” and make it be still so as to focus its attention within, in other words, turning the light of attention back upon our own individual consciousness. Focused self-reflection and intuitive insight are the fruits of meditation.
The next important lesson of meditation is about the orientation of attention. Like the majority of people, individual attention is turned outward to worldly activities and this means “touching the world” with “your point of attention.” Where we touch the world, the world touches our consciousness, in other words, we get some of the world on our consciousness and it has an effect similar to a stain on a piece of cloth. Most people are unaware they are touching the world or that the world is touching and imprinting their consciousness. Consequently, these unaware people are unconcerned, clueless and exercise no discretion about where or how they direct their attention to the world; neither do they care with what impressions the world is imprinting them.
People who meditate are acutely aware of where and how they direct and orient their conscious attention in regard to the world because they have learned through their meditation experience that many of these “stains and impressions” are the source of the pain, anxiety, stress, disappointment and delusion from which they desire to be free. Here’s the next lesson – an important step in meditation is about “purifying” consciousness of “worldly stains.” In meditation, when the attention stabilizes and begins to self-reflect, we become cognizant of how the unfiltered world contaminates consciousness. We gradually recognize the significance of having and maintaining a clear conscience and consciousness.
The world is like a mud puddle which has many different layers of impure and contaminated water in it, from gooey mud and gravel at the bottom to crystal clear water at the top. These layers represent levels of consciousness which people experience in life. People who have not yet awakened are trapped in the world (lower half of the puddle) and are adversely affected by the darkness, desires and negativity of the lower states of consciousness. Remember, we can’t wade through a cesspool without getting some of it on us; the same holds true for the “mud puddle” world. On the physical level, the bottom layers of the mud puddle represent poverty and hunger (lack of), disease, sloth, lust, revenge and survival; emotionally, these levels represent fear, anger, sorrow, violence, despair, envy, depression, gluttony and loneliness; and mentally, they represent darkness, pride, ignorance, deceit, arrogance, manipulation, greed and selfishness. Unfortunately, most humans are stuck in the lower half of the mud puddle. Through meditation, consciousness can awaken and decide to be liberated from the darkness, pain, suffering and delusion of the world; but only with discipline, dedication and a consistent effort. Advanced meditation techniques transform the lower psychic energies into “unpurified” spiritual energy; it also transforms the “unpurified” spiritual energies into pure spiritual light. Remember, this diagram is a two-dimensional representation of a third and fourth dimensional experience.
The physical body, the emotions and the rationalizing mind of the ego-personality are IN the world. The majority of people on the planet are totally lost in the illusion of the world and do not know it; they have no desire to separate themselves from the illusion. People who are in the illusion get very uncomfortable if they are made aware of this fact. They are attached to the things of their world; they are attached to the pleasures, possessions and comforts of their lives. The problem is that in the world where there are pleasures, there is also pain in equal measure. This is the nature of the third-dimensional world in which we live – it is a world of duality: pleasure-pain, like-dislike, love-hate, right-wrong, light-darkness and so on. Next lesson – meditation helps you to withdraw from duality by finding the balance in the middle. Rather than swinging between happy or sad, you establish a “point of equilibrium” in consciousness of contentment and peace.
Many people reading this paper are stuck in the world. For these folks, consciousness has been wide open to the world and has been stained, imprinted and in some cases, contaminated or damaged from all the circumstances, people and events that have crossed their path. This is not a judgment of anyone’s life as we have all been through this maze, but it is an accounting of the memories, marks and blemishes accumulated upon our consciousness. Our attachments to the world exist primarily in the 3 lower levels of the mud puddle below the heart. All of these attachments which hold us to the world are of our own making. They are like tiny invisible strands of light attached to the objects, situations and people who we are interested in. Consequently, people sustain a connection to these things and people by unconsciously directing life energy to these attachments. Next lesson – meditation is about gradually, patiently and methodically severing the unnecessary attachments to the world and drawing this energy and light back into the body and personal self. This level of meditation retrieves our light from the world enhancing our life, awareness and consciousness.
Beginning meditators, carefully consider what you hope to achieve from meditation whether it is peace of mind, self-confidence, self-awareness or all of the above. A carefully thought out goal will help improve the meditation experience so as to be beneficial and meaningful on many different levels. The advanced meditation process touched upon above is for the serious student who wants to awaken spiritually. This endeavor is a change of lifestyle as it requires years of personal work and sacrifice. Meditation is a personal and private experience and it requires a deep commitment; success here is no different than with any other major accomplishment. Self-knowledge is the greatest experience to be gained in this life and there is no better way to attain this awareness than through meditation. Meditation allows one to receive knowledge and inspiration directly from Christ through the Spirit without needing a teacher or guru. If meditation practioners are humble and receptive to Christ through the Spirit, they will become their own teachers.
* The diagram below corresponds to the one above. Note that the 3 lower centers are about the personal self and the upper 3 are expressions of higher consciousness; the heart center is the point of reconciliation for these opposing energies – the sacred and the profane. It is through the lower centers that the ego-personality integrates with the physical body and becomes the body/mind. The ego-personality along with the desires, impulses, cravings and appetites of the “animal” body and body/mind are the primary source of our problems in the world. The endless mind-chatter of the ego is what keeps a person stuck in the activity of the world. Focused meditation stops this mind-chatter and diminishes the influence of the ego and body-mind so our whole being becomes still; thus spiritual awareness and Self-knowledge are present in our meditation experience.
True beauty resides in the very midst of the tower of light,
All else is but the loveliest frill of passing passion and might;
And so I climb inward ever striving to discover the truth,
To repose in the oneness of the clearest ever present dew.
And just as I perceive the glowing portal of the holy shrine,
I’m enveloped in pure sweetness, my spirit melting into shine.
There I set my course on the final summit shining up above,
And receive the wondrous gift of life pouring from the heart of love.