For the religionist, meditation is essential because a nonchalant faith alone is not enough. He who indulges in theological speculation about the soul without having trod the inner way to the actual experience of it for himself is like a man standing outside a restaurant with shuttered windows and purporting to describe the meals being served inside. The religious mode of life is intended to prepare man for and to lead him eventually to the mystical mode, which is a higher rung in his development.
For the moralist, meditation is essential because a code of morals or a creed of ethics is only a preliminary aid to the fulfilment of life's purpose--which is to know ourselves. Our morals will automatically adjust themselves, our credo of ethics will automatically right itself once we have come into spiritual self-enlightenment. The noblest and the highest within us will then be evoked spontaneously. A technique of mind-training is indispensable to true self-knowledge.
Meditation is also essential for the artist. However talented he may be, a man can produce only substitutes for works of genius if he lacks the capacity to achieve self-absorbed states. The cultivation of this habit is a powerful help to the development of inspired moods. This is an age of brilliance. The talent for wit, satire, and sophistication abounds. But the true artist needs to go deeper than that. Art which lacks a spiritual import possesses only a surface value. The sun of inspiration shines upon all alike, but few people are so constituted as to be able to behold it. This is partly because they cannot achieve the requisite psychological condition. The artist who is wrapped up in a semi-trance of creative endeavour hardly notices at the time where he is and hardly remembers his own past life--such is the intensity of his concentration. Thus mental quiet is not to be confused with mental laziness. It is not only a triumph over the one-sidedness of external activity but also a creative quiet. This truth achieves its fullest exemplification in the sphere of art.
For the overworked man of affairs or the tired man of action, meditation is essential because it affords a wonderful relief by creating a little secret place within himself where the sordid world will be less able to hurt him, the events of life less able to depress him. Moreover, he needs meditation not only because an unrestrained external activity is not enough but also because it brings up out of the subconscious stores unexpected ideas which may be what he was consciously seeking previously or provides him with swift intuitions which throw light on perplexing problems. How much did their early morning practice of prefacing the day's work with a half hour of devotional meditation and guidance-seeking help some famous historical figures!
For the idealist who is struggling in a hard and harsh world, short daily periods of meditation will in time become the blessed sanctuary wherein he can keep alive his repressed aspirations.
Finally meditation is essential for every man because without it he lives at too great a radius from his divine centre to understand the best thing which life can offer him. He must reclaim the divine estate of which he is the ignorant owner. O! it is worthwhile to make this sacred incursion and attain, for a time, a nobler and wiser state of himself. By this daily act of returning into himself, he reaffirms his divine dignity and practises true self-respect.
-- Notebooks Category 4: Elementary Meditation > Chapter 1: Preparatory > # 2