What Meditation Is
To meditate means, in the preliminary and lower stages, to apply thought-force consciously; to produce harmony, both within and without; to obtain control over the mind and the emotions; and to open up the faculty of intuition or buddhi.
Our individual minds, conditioned by our bodies, are but small fractions of the divine or cosmic Mind, and possess the power of receiving from the cosmic Mind all that they require for their harmonious growth. Meditation, therefore, has a spiritual purpose. The real aim is to acquire a knowledge of truth and of that spiritual illumination which recognises no separateness, which fills the individual with peace and inspiration to bring the same light to others. It leads ultimately to the attainment of complete freedom from limitations, and the realisation of God as one’s own Self or Atman. This God-realisation is the natural state of the self. The normal state of each individual or soul is perfection in God, and this is the goal of all evolution and progress.
Thus, meditation does not create perfection; it allows perfection to disclose itself, by removing the obstacles to its realisation. This is a very important point, which must never be forgotten.
In introducing the science of meditation—for it is a science—the foundations upon which it stands must first be explained. Meditation cannot be isolated from its place in the body of the higher Yoga, and the fundamental principles of Yoga must be grasped if they are to be successfully applied in daily life.
Growth and activity are the chief characteristics of life, both on the physical and the inner plane. The amoeba’s pursuit of nourishment is fundamentally the same urge which causes man to seek truth, although turned to another account and functioning on a far lower level of consciousness. When the life force is directed outwards, it assumes the form of physical activity, but when the same faculty turns inward to its source, then life becomes an emotional, intellectual or spiritual activity. Even the most foolish act has its subtle, mental aspect, and a wise deed may appear foolish, because we live on these two planes of consciousness at once.
As human beings, therefore, we derive our inspiration and our values from the contemplative, introspective aspect of life, and give them a form of expression in the objective world. The correct attitude towards life is that everyone should be subjective for a part of the time. By going deeper and deeper into our own soul, we discover the real values of life, and on the basis of these values, create something tangible in the objective world.
In meditation, we try to go inward to the cause, even to that which is sometimes called the ‘causeless cause’. Just as a river is purer at its source than it is in the middle or at its mouth, so does the process of meditation become purer and purer as we go back towards the spiritual source. Meditation begins when the mind makes a courageous and determined effort to come into contact with the light of Truth latent within itself.