Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation homepage > Notebooks of Paul Brunton > Perspectives > Chapter 4: Elementary Meditation

Elementary Meditation

The truth needed for immediate and provisional use may be learned from books and teachers but the truth of the ultimate revelation can be learned only from and within oneself by meditation.

Meditation is not to be regarded as an end in itself but as one of the instruments wherewith the true end is to be attained.

Among the values of meditation is that it carries consciousness down to a deeper level, thus letting a man live from his centre, not his surface alone. The result is that the physical sense-reactions do not dominate his outlook wholly, as they do an animal's. Mind begins to rule them. This leads more and more to self-control, self-knowledge, and self-pacification.

It is a principle of philosophy that what you can know is limited by what you are. A deep man may know a deep truth but a shallow man, never. This indeed is one of its reasons for taking up the practice of meditation.

Meditation is merely a form of simple practice most Western people are too unfamiliar with to understand. What could be simpler than saying this: if you will look into your heart and mind, deep enough and long enough to penetrate beneath the tumult of desires that daily distract your attention, you may then discover peace.

It is a means of severing attention from its ever-changing objects, and then enabling the freed mental force to study its own source.

When the mind is distracted by its surroundings, it is prevented from perceiving itself. This is easy to understand. When it is distracted by the body, it is also prevented from gaining such perception. This is harder but still possible to understand. But when the mind is distracted from attending to itself by its own thoughts, this is the hardest of all its situations to understand.

The true state of meditation is reached when there is awareness of awareness, without the intrusion of any thoughts whatever. But this condition is not the ultimate. Beyond it lies the stage where all awareness vanishes without the total loss of consciousness that this normally brings.

The meditation has been successfully accomplished when all thoughts have come to an end, and when the presence of Divinity is felt within this emptiness.

Philosophy does not teach people to make their minds a blank, does not say empty out all thoughts, be inert and passive. It teaches the reduction of all thinking activity to a single seed-thought, and that one is to be either interrogative like "What Am I?" or affirmative like "The godlike is with me." It is true that the opening-up of Overself-consciousness will, in the first delicate experience, mean the closing-down of the last thoughts, the uttermost stillness of mind. But that stage will pass. It will repeat itself again whenever one plunges into the deepest trance, the raptest meditative absorption. And it must then come of itself, induced by the higher self's grace, not by the lower self's force. Otherwise, mere mental blankness is a risky condition to be avoided by prudent seekers. It involves the risk of mediumship and of being possessed.

Meditation in one sense is an effort. It seeks first to approach, by actively cutting a way through the jungle of irrelevant thoughts, and second to enter, by passively yielding to its outraying influence, the very core of oneself, the very centre of one's psyche, which is indeed the divine spirit. In the first stage, a resolute will is required to overcome and banish the eager intruders who would destroy his chances of success. In the second stage, the exercise of will would itself be just as destructive, for an opposite attitude is then called for--total surrender of the ego.

The mere making one's mind a blank, the mere stopping of thoughts for a few minutes, is not by itself, unaccompanied by the other endeavours of the fourfold quest, sufficient to bestow any mystical state. A high official of a mystical order who practised this mental blackout of several years standing, confessed privately that he has not had any higher consciousness as a result. The general effort in meditation should not be to make the mind a blank but to make it concentrated, poised, and still. If blankness supervenes sometimes, as it may, it should do so of its own accord, not as a result of our striving. But then this would mean the cessation of thinking, which is a very advanced stage at which few arrive. A positive attempt to induce blankness might induce the wrong kind, which is negative and mediumistic and has nothing spiritual about it. If, however, it comes by itself as a by-product of correct meditation, then it will not be mere emptiness but rather an utter serenity which is satisfied with itself and regards thoughts as a lower disturbance.

The novice must be warned that certain ways of practising concentration, such as visualizing diagrams or repeating declarations, as well as emptying the mind to seek guidance, must not be confused with the true way of meditation. This has no other object than to surrender the ego to the Overself and uses no other method than prayerful aspiration, loving devotion, and mental quiet.

None of the elementary methods of yoga such as breath control and mantram lead to a permanent control of the mind, but they prepare the way and make it easier to take up those practices which do lead to such a result.

If in meditation he goes down sufficiently far through the levels of consciousness, he will come to a depth where the phenomenal world disappears from consciousness, where time, thoughts, and place cease to exist, where the personal self dissolves and seems no more. If there is no disturbance caused by violent intrusion from the physical world, this phase of complete inner thought-free stillness may continue for a long period; but in the end Nature reclaims the meditator and brings him back to this world. It is only an experience, with the transiency of all experiences. But it will make its contribution to the final State, which is permanent establishment in the innermost being, whether in the depth of silent meditation or in the midst of worldly turmoil and activity.

He needs to remember the difference between a method and a goal: the one is not the same as the other. Both meditation and asceticism are trainings but they are not the final goals set up for human beings.

It would be a serious error to believe that he is to continue with any particular exercise or chosen theme, with any special declaration or analysis or question, no matter what happens in the course of a session. On the contrary; if at any moment he feels the onset of deeper feelings, or stronger aspirations, or notable peace, he ought to stop the exercise or abandon the method and give himself up entirely to the interior visitant. He ought to have no hesitation and no fear in considering himself free to do so.

The only way to learn what meditation means is to practise and keep on practising. This involves daily withdrawal from the round of routine and activity, of about three-quarters of an hour if possible, and the practice of some exercise regularly. The form which such an exercise should take depends partly upon your own preference. It may be any of the set formal exercises in books published, or it may be a subject taken from a sentence in some inspired writing whose truth has struck the mind forcibly; it may be a quality of character whose need in us has made itself felt urgently, or it may be a purely devotional aspiration to commune with the higher self. Whatever it is, the personal appeal should be sufficient to arouse interest and hold attention. This being the case, we may keep on turning over the theme continually in our thoughts. When this has been adequately done, the first stage (concentration proper) is completed. Unfortunately most of this period is usually spent in getting rid of extraneous ideas and distracting memories, so that little time is left for getting down to the actual concentration itself! The cure is repeated practice. In the next stage, there is a willed effort to shut out the world of the five senses, its impressions and images, whilst still retaining the line of meditative thinking. Here we seek to deepen, maintain, and prolong the concentrative attitude, and to forget the outside environment at the same time. The multiplicity of sensations--seeing, hearing, etc.--usually keeps us from attending to the inner self, and in this stage you have to train yourself to correct this by deliberately abstracting attention from the senses. We will feel in the early part of this stage as though we were beating against an invisible door, on the other side of which there is the mysterious goal of your aspiration.

During this brief period he is to undertake a strange task--to separate himself from the petty and the passional, from the affairs of his personal career and family relationship, and to seek to unite himself with the grand truths, the impersonal principles of spiritual being.

He should fully understand and accept the importance of being punctual in keeping his unwritten appointment when the meditation hour comes round. If he is careful to honour his word in social or professional engagements, he ought to be at least not less careful in honouring it in spiritual engagements. Only when he comes reverently to regard the Overself as being the unseen and silent other party with whom he is to sit, only when he comes to regard failure to be present at the prearranged time as a serious matter is the practice of these exercises likely to bear any of the fruits of success. It is a curious experience, and one which happens too often to be meaningless, that some obstacle or other will arise to block the discharge of this sacred engagement, or some attractive alternative will present itself to tempt him from it. The ego will resent this disturbance of its wonted habits and resist this endeavour to penetrate its foundations. He must resist this resistance. He must accept no excuse from himself. The decision to sit down for meditation at a stated time is one from which he is not to withdraw weakly, no matter what pressure falls upon him from outside or arises from inside. It may require all his firmness to get away from other people to find the needed solitude or to stop whatever he is doing to fulfil this promise to himself, but in the end it will be worthwhile.

You begin your meditation by remembering its spiritual purpose and consequently by putting away all thoughts of your own affairs or of the world's affairs and paying attention only to the single thought of the Overself.

No matter how limited the period available may be, whether five or fifty minutes, approach it with the deliberately induced feeling of complete leisureliness. Bring no attitude of haste into the work, or it will thwart your efforts from the start.

It is not possible to master the art of meditation without acquiring the virtue of patience. One has to learn first how to sit statue-still without fidgeting and without changes; second, how to endure the waiting period when the body's stillness is mocked by the mind's restlessness.

In theory the best time for meditation would be after sleep because the mind is then at its calmest. In practice, it may not be so if dreams have disturbed it, or if a very early start to activity is necessary or unavoidable. Further, there may be individual affinity with particular times, such as sunset or midnight, which render meditation more attractive then.

The aspirant who is really determined, who wants to make rapid progress, must make use of the early hour of morning when dawn greets the earth. Such an hour is to be set aside for meditation upon the Supreme, that ultimately a spiritual dawn may throw its welcome light upon the soul. By this simple initial act, his day is smoothed before he starts. Yet of the few who seek the highest Truth, fewer still are ready to make this sacrifice of their time, or are willing to forego the comfort of bed. Most men are willing to sacrifice some hours of their sleep in order to enjoy the presence of a woman and to satisfy their passion for her; but exceedingly few men are willing to sacrifice some hours of their sleep to enjoy the presence of divinity and to satisfy their passion for God-realization.

But on another plane of being there is a curious and more elevated quality during the meditations practised before the early hours of dawn while it is still dark. This is a period recommended in certain schools of Sufic and Hindu mysticism.

It is a common mistake to believe that because no fruit seems to grow out of the exercise, no feeling and no experience result from it, the time given to it is wasted. This is why so many abandon it after a short or long trial. But how can the ego know that even the simple act of sitting like a beggar at the Overself's door, in resigned humility and patience and perseverance, is an act of faith for which the reward is certain, even though the form of this reward may not be?

To sit down for meditation with the secret expectation, the half-hidden hope, or the fully conscious desire for a dramatic glimpse, a sudden transformation, or a speedy result is to introduce the ego and thus block the way to the egoless plane of the Overself.

For meditation or worship it is a fitting posture to face the east where the sun rises, the west where it sets, or the south where it is strongest. But the north is less desirable, not only because it is sunless but because it is the direction whence come the powers active in the body during sleep.

The body's position is not without its influence upon the beginnings of meditation. All muscles should be relaxed, all limbs at ease, all fingers at rest, and the jaw unclenched. Any physical tenseness hinders the onset of contemplation.

Because of inferior auric magnetism of other persons picked up during the day, the washing of hands and feet and face is prescribed in Islamic religion before prayer and recommended in philosophic mysticism before meditation.

What shall they do with their eyes during meditation? It is best for beginners to shut them entirely and thus avoid distracting sight-impressions from the outer world. For moderately advanced practisers it is better to begin with shut eyes and at an appropriate point sometime later in the meditation, to half-open them, directing the gaze downwards and some feet beyond, and to keep it so until the meditation period is ended. But it is easiest for highly advanced proficients to pass quickly through the earlier positions of shut and half-shut and then, at a time prompted for them by inward guidance to keep their eyes open fully until the practice period is over, or until the guidance reverses itself. These are the general rules governing the three chief degrees.

There are four chief points in the body which may be used to hold the attention of the eyes if the latter are to be kept open or partly open during meditation. They are: first, the navel; second, the tip or the end of the nose; third, the space between the eyebrows, or the root of the nose; and fourth--which is rather a Chinese exercise--on the ground a little in front of the feet, which sights the eyes somewhere between the second and third exercise.

It is not enough to lull the mind: the heart's feeling must be stimulated and directed in aspiration and devotion, warm and strong toward the Overself, which by reaction, arouses a certain force, the Spirit-Energy, which acts for a short time to prepare him for deeper, more concentrated contemplation.

An aid is bhakti, love. Love is essential to meditation; it is a binding force comprised of devotion and reverence. The aim is to become united. Success in meditation is to become one with the Higher Self (unity). Meditation should be a yearning to come home to one's place in the universe.

He need not get either perturbed or puzzled if, after a certain period of the session has elapsed and a certain depth of concentration reached, there is a momentary disappearance of consciousness. This will be a prologue to, as well as a sign of, entrance into the third state, contemplation. The immediate after-effect of the lapse is somewhat like that which follows deep dreamless sleep. There is a delicious awakening into a mind very quiet, emotions gently stilled, and nerves greatly soothed.

Meditation can be misused. It is then no longer a help toward the spiritual liberation of man but another captivity to keep him from it. It is misused when the object is to gain occult powers. These merely cater to the ego's aggrandizement. It is misused when the object is to become a prophet, teacher, or reformer who will influence or lead people. This merely caters to the ego's spiritual ambition, which is the same force as worldly ambition working on a higher level.

The ego is so taken up with itself that the time of meditation, which ought to be its gradual emptying-out, remains merely another field for its own activity.

It is necessary to warn the beginner in meditation against the mistakes and perils into which he is liable to fall. The greatest mistake is to fail to realize the contributions of the ego to his own mystical experience; the greatest peril is to let himself be overcome by a mediumistic passivity under a belief that it is a mystical passivity.

There are certain persons who belong by birth and temperament to the type of spiritistic medium. Until they have strengthened their higher nature, purified their feelings, and obtained sufficient knowledge, they should avoid meditation. The risk of being used by inferior spirits, even of obsession, is present.

Those whose minds are neurotically or psychotically disordered, will do better to take some treatment first before embarking on a meditation course.

Too much attention is too often put upon the role of meditation itself. It is a necessary practice but it is only a part of the total work to be done. Balance, reverence, knowledge, virtue, and awareness despite or during activities are also parts.

It is necessary to pronounce certain words of caution to the novice in meditation. He is trying to penetrate the unknown parts of his being with a vehicle not only fashioned by himself but also fashioned out of himself. If the material is defective or the method inaccurate, the result will be disappointing and may even be harmful. Moreover, the journey itself is beset with certain risks and dangers for the man whose emotions are undisciplined, whose passions are ungoverned, whose ambition is to exploit other persons, whose critical judgement is poor, and whose knowledge is small. Therefore the traveller must safeguard himself by sufficient preparation and adequate equipment before beginning his journey, by a preliminary discipline to fit his mind and character for the effort.

If he can enter the state of contemplation at any time he wishes to do so, and can sustain it as long as desired, he is said to be an adept in meditation.

The first part of the exercise requires him to banish all thoughts, feelings, images, and energies which do not belong to the subject, prayer, ideal, or problem he chooses as a theme. Nothing else may be allowed to intrude into consciousness or, having intruded by the mind's old restlessness, it is to be blotted out immediately. Such expulsion is always to be accompanied by an exhaling of the breath. Each return of attention to the selected theme is to be accompanied by an inhaling of the breath.

When thoughts are restless and hard to control, there is always something in us which is aware of this restlessness. This knowledge belongs to the hidden "I" which stands as an unruffled witness of all our efforts. We must seek therefore to feel for and identify ourself with it. If we succeed, then the restlessness passes away of itself, and the bubbling thoughts dissolve into undifferentiated Thought.

Exclude all thoughts other than the one which is the point of concentration. If, as is likely, you weaken and permit them to intrude, renew the battle and drive them out by will. Return again and again if necessary to your focus.

It is not enough to seek stillness for the body and mind alone: the attention and intention must be directed at the same time to that Overself which transcends body and mind.

He must lock himself in a room for a few minutes every day with the fierce determination to tame this mind which jumps about like a monkey. He must choose a topic and then keep his thoughts rigidly fixed on it. He should concentrate all his attention on it and try first to provoke and then to develop a sequential logical line of thought about it. He must wear down its resistance by unremitting daily practice of this kind.

If the wandering characteristic of all thoughts diverts attention and defeats the effort to meditate, try another way. Question the thoughts themselves, seek out their origin, trace them to their beginning and reduce their number more and more. Find out what particular interest or impulse emotion or desire in the ego causes them to arise and push this cause back nearer to the void. In this way, you tend to separate yourself from the thoughts themselves, refuse to identify with them, and get back nearer to your higher identity.

This work of pushing attention inwards, back to its very source, and the sense of "I-ness" back with it, is to be accompanied by thinking only until the latter can be stopped or itself stops. This work is then continued by a stilled and steady search. When the need of search comes to an end, the searcher vanishes, the "I" becomes pure "Being," has found its source. In these daily or nightly sessions, it is his work to turn away from the diffused attention which is his normal condition to the concentrated attention which is indispensable for progress, and to sustain it.

The state of concentration acquired during a worldly pursuit differs from that acquired during mystical meditation in that the first is usually directed toward outward things and the experience of sense-pleasures, whereas the second is directed toward inward being and rejects sense-pleasures. Thus the two states are at opposite poles--one belonging to the ego-seeking man, and the other to the Overself-seeking man.

Others know the condition in which the yogi is, when they are so absorbed in the story of a book as not to hear when spoken to; when they are so lost in a line of thought that the immediate surroundings are banished; when the imagined is the real; when tranced feeling and held mind alone exist, separated from the physical actuality. But there is this vital difference--that their total absorption usually concerns a personal or a worldly matter, whereas the yogi's concerns That which transcends both.

Stefan Zweig, the Austrian novelist, when still a youth, visited the sculptor Rodin and watched him at work in his Paris studio. He wrote of this visit: "I learned more that afternoon at Meudon than in all my years at school. For ever since then I have known how all human work must be done if it is to be good and worthwhile.

"Nothing has ever so moved me as this realization that a man could so utterly forget time and place and the world. In that hour I grasped the secret of all art and of all earthly achievement--concentration, the rallying of all one's forces for accomplishment of one's task, large or small; capacity to direct one's will, so often dissipated and scattered, upon one thing."

When concentration attains its effective state, the ever-tossing mental waves subside and the emotional perturbations become still. This is the psychological moment when the mystic naturally feels exaltation, peace, and super-earthliness. But it is also the psychological moment when, if he is wise, he should turn away from revelling in personal satisfaction at this achievement and, penetrating yet deeper, strive to understand the inner character of the source whence these feelings arise, strive to understand pure Mind.

The disciplined use of imagination will promote the attainment of ideals through imagination but the wild use of fancy will retard it.

Thinking must stop, but if it stops at the level of the little ego only a psychical experience or a mediumistic possession may result. If, however, it stops at a deeper level after right preparation and sufficient purification, the mind's emptiness may be filled by a realization of identity with the Overself.

Getting intensely absorbed in a true spiritual idea may, if it penetrates to a sufficient depth, put one into communication with the Universal Mind. This in turn enables him to receive, intuitively, what could not be found intellectually.

This habit of persistent daily reflection on the great verities, of thinking about the nature or attributes of the Overself, is a very rewarding one. From being mere intellectual ideas, they begin to take on warmth, life, and power.

The Overself takes his thoughts about it, limited and remote though they are, and guides them closer and closer to its own high level. Such illumined thinking is not the same as ordinary thinking. Its qualitative height and mystical depth are immensely superior. But when his thoughts can go no farther, the Overself's Grace touches and silences them. In that moment he knows.

It may be easy to get the worldly, the practical message of particular experiences, but it is not so easy to get the higher, the spiritual message they contain. This is because we habitually look at them from the ego's standpoint, especially when personal feelings are strongly involved. Truth calls for a transfer of the inner centre of gravity.

In The Wisdom of the Overself there was given a meditation exercise to be practised just before sleep. It consists of a review, undertaken in a particular way, of the previous day's events and thoughts and deeds. Here is a further exercise which is akin in character and yields equally important results but which may be practised either before sleep or at any other time of the day. The student should select episodes, events, or whole periods out of his past experience and personal conduct, and he should review them in the same detached impartial lesson-seeking manner. They may pertain to happenings many years distant or to those of the same week. A particularly valuable part of this exercise is the analytic dissection of moral errors and mistaken conduct with a view to their clearer understanding and future correction. The ego is to be sharply and critically examined throughout these reviews.

Let it not be forgotten, however, that he should remember his faults of character and mistakes of conduct not to moan over them but to get rid of the one and correct the other. For beneath most of his misfortunes lie faults of character and defects of temperament which are largely their hidden causes. Dispassionate observation of other people's present experience, together with impersonal reflection upon his own past experience, provides the best practical wisdom for future guidance. But such wisdom is only of limited value if it ignores the working of karma and the impetus of spiritual evolution; all these different elements must therefore be brought into an integral union.

The exercise here given does not seek, like ordinary yoga, to blot out thoughts as its final aim. Rather does it kindle them into vigorous life as it proceeds through its philosophical reflections and retrospective imaginations. But their character will gradually become unusally impersonal and profound, whilst their truth will become remarkably undistorted by emotional or passional deflections. Even this virtue, however, does not exhaust the advantages of the exercise. For there will also develop an interiorization of awareness which brings the practitioner ever closer to his spiritual self until his entire outlook on life is reorientated in a marvelous manner.

Whatever he has experienced, thought, or done in the years which have been lived through can afford a subject for this kink of meditation - reflectie, analytic, and finally philosophic.

We must get to the very source of those deep-seated karmic, mental, and emotional tendencies if we would attain the Real which they obscure. When this is done a tremendous sense of liberation is experienced, an inner revolution undergone, and then follows the "lighting flash" of insight into the nature of the Real.

Is the experiment too difficult? How can a man stop thinking? I remember now that it is not suggested that one should deliberately stop thinking. No, it is taught, "pursue the enquiry, `What am I' relentlessly." Well, I have pursued it up to this point. I cannot definitely pin down my ego either to the body or the intellect. Then who am I? Beyond body and intellect there is left only--nothing! The thought came to me, "Now pay attention to this nothingness."

Nothing? . . . Nothing? . . . Nothing? . . . I gradually and insensibly slipped into a passive attitude. After that came a sense of deepening calm. Subtly, intangibly, quietness of soul invaded me. It was pleasant, very pleasant, and soothed nerves, mind, and heart. The sense of peace which enveloped me while I sat so quiet gently swelled up into bliss ineffable, into a marvellous serenity. The bliss became so poignantly keen that I forgot to continue thinking. I simply surrendered myself to it as ardently as a woman surrenders herself to the man she loves. What blessedness was not mine! Was it not some condition like this to which Saint Paul referred when he mentioned "the peace which passeth understanding"? The minutes trickled by slowly. A half hour later found my body still motionless, the face still fixed, the eyes still indifferent to, or oblivious of their surroundings. Had I fathomed the mystic depths of my own mind? Impatience might have reared its restless head and completely spoilt the result. I saw how futile it was to attempt always to impose our habitual restlessness in such unfamiliar circumstances.

Now the ultimate use of a mental image, whether of God or guru, is only to help him do without it altogether in the end. For the ultimate aim of a true seeker must always be to become aware of God for himself, to perceive the Real with his own insight, and to understand the truth with his own intelligence. Therefore when he has reached this stage of meditation, when he is able easily to enter into rapport with the presence of the Guide or guru, it has accomplished its work and he must take the next step, which is to let go this presence, or the image which carries this presence, altogether. If he clings unduly to it, he will defeat the very purpose of his practice. The Overself will, of its own accord, eventually complete the work, if he does not so resist, by banishing the image and the presence and itself stepping into the framework of his consciousness. He will then know it as his own very soul, his true self, his sacred centre. He will then feel God within his own being as the pure essence of that being. Any other feeling of any other individual would be sacrilege.

If he trains himself until he can see with the mind's eye a picture exactly like the one he saw with his physical eyes printed or drawn on paper, he will have achieved the object of this (visualization) exercise.

The practice of mantram yoga is well known throughout India as a method of suppressing the wandering tendencies of the mind. A mantram, usually given by a guru or adapted by oneself from a book, is a word or a phrase or even a whole sentence which the practitioner chants to himself or whispers or even mentally utters again and again. Some Sanskrit mantrams are quite meaningless sounds, whereas others are full of metaphysical or religious meaning. Which one is used does not matter from the point of view of acquiring concentration, but it does matter from the point of view of developing any particular quality of character or devotional homage which the mantram symbolizes. This mental or vocal repetition is to be done periodically and faithfully.

A mantram becomes most worthwhile when it is heard deep deep down in the practiser's being. It will then produce the effect of profound inner absorption.

The first revelation of the divine world is sound. Before beholding it, one hears it with an inner ear. The name of God has not only the power of easily washing away all sin, but can even untie the knot of the heart and waken love of God. To be severed from God is the only real sin.

Practising mantram consists of repeating a selected word over and over, soaking oneself in it. There are three stages: (a) chanting the word out loud; (b) whispering it; (c) repeating it mentally. Then, when repetition ceases, all thoughts cease. Through this constant concentration, the mantram becomes a backdrop to one's daily life. Just as one can hum a tune while attending to other affairs, so the mantram becomes an ever present accompaniment. When one turns full attention onto it and concentrates fully upon it and then stops--all thoughts stop. This is the purpose of the mantram. This result may take weeks or months.

The Spiritual Symbols are given to pupils who are highly intellectual, professional, or active-minded as a means of (1) allaying mental restlessness; and (2) constructively working on the inner bodies, since these forms are in correspondence with the actual construction of (a) an atom, and (b) the universe.

It is easier to meditate on Reality through a symbol than directly.

Concentrate on each symbol for seven minutes. (1) Think of a cross in a light blue colour, as pertaining to the crucifixion of the physical or bodily nature. Regular concentration may lead to a psychological change. (2) Picture a triangle of golden colour as representative of harmony and intellectual balance. (3) Picture a five-pointed Star of silver colour, as a symbol of the perfect man.

A flower is as good an object to concentrate on as any other. Indeed it is better, for he may also try to make his own heart one with the flower's heart.

The use of short statements, often strangely worded, made by a master to a disciple as a means of getting the flash of enlightenment flourished in China during the Tang dynasty. It was taken up later by the Japanese, among whom the method's original name "kong-an" changed slightly to "ko-an." Despite extravagant claims made for it, the successful practiser got a glimpse only, not a permanent and full result. It is not the same as, and not to be confused with, the method of meditating upon affirmations, pithy condensed truth-statements (called Mahavakyas in India) since these openly possess a meaning whereas koans are often illogical and always puzzling.

To hold any idea in the mind during meditation, and to hold it with faith, sympathy, and pleasure, is to make it a part of oneself. If care is taken that these ideas shall be positive, constructive, and elevating, then the profits of meditation will show themselves in the character and the personality.

The restless, ever-active intellect may turn its overactivity to good account by turning to this practice. When that is done, the very quality which seemed such a formidable antagonist on the quest becomes a formidable ally. If instead of constantly thinking of his personal affairs, the man will constantly think of his mantra or his master or of God's infinitude and eternity, the trick is done.

If a thought enters his mind or a desire stirs his feelings of which he is ashamed but too weak to resist, let him repeat at once an appropriate declaration, or his familiar habitual one, or any pertinent word, and go on repeating it until mind or feelings are again clear.

The effectiveness of a Declaration depends also upon its being repeated with a whole mind and an undivided heart, with confidence in its power and sincere desire to rise up.

A friend told me some years ago of an interesting and useful method of using these Declarations which had been taught her by a celebrated holy man and mystic in her country, when he gave her the "Prayer of Jesus." This is a Declaration which was widely used several hundred years ago in the old Byzantine monasteries and even now is used to a lesser extent in Balkan and Slavonic monastic circles in exactly the same way as in India. The method is to reduce the number of words used until it is brought down to a single one. This reduction is achieved, of course, quite slowly and during a period covering several months. In this particular instance, there are seven words in the Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me." They are all used for the first few weeks, then the word "Christ" is omitted for the next few weeks. The phrase is again shortened by detaching from it, after a further period has elapsed, the word "Lord." Then "have" is taken out and so on until only one word is left. The Declaration as finally and permanently used is "Jesus-Jesus-Jesus-Jesus." This method can be applied to almost any Declaration. The selected last word should be a name, if addressed to God or to a Spiritual Leader, or, if that is not part of it, a desired quality.



  1. "I am becoming as free from undesirable traits in my everyday self as I already am in the Overself."
  2. "In my real being I am strong, happy, and serene."
  3. "I am the master of thought, feeling, and body."
  4. "Infinite Power, sustain me! Infinite Wisdom, enlighten me. Infinite Love, ennoble me."
  5. "My Words are truthful and powerful expressions."
  6. "I see myself moving toward the mastery of self."
  7. "May I co-operate more and more with the Overself. May I do its will intelligently and obediently."
  8. "I co-operate joyously with the higher purpose of my life."
  9. "O! Infinite strength within me."
  10. "O! Indwelling Light, guide me to the wise solution of my problem."
  11. "I am Infinite Peace!"
  12. "I am one with the undying Overself."
  13. "Every part of my body is in perfect health; every organ of it in perfect function."
  14. "In my real self life is eternal, wisdom is infinite, beauty is imperishable, and power is inexhaustible. My form alone is human for my essence is divine."
  15. "I am a centre of life in the Divine Life, of intelligence in the Divine Intelligence."
  16. "In every situation I keep calm and seek out the Intuitive that it may lead me."
  17. "I look beyond the troubles of the moment into the eternal repose of the Overself."
  18. "My strength is in obedience to the Overself."
  19. "O Infinite and impersonal Bliss!"
  20. "I am happy in the Overself's blissful calm."
  21. "God is ever smiling on Me."
  22. "God is smiling on me."
  23. "The Peace of God."
  24. "I dwell in the Overself's calm."
  25. "I smile with the Overself's bliss."
  26. "I dwell in Infinite peace."
  27. "I am a radiant and revivified being. I express in the world what I feel in my being."(4-6.112)

What is newer than a new dawning day? What a chance it offers for the renewing of life too! And how better to do this than to take a positive affirmative Declaration like, "I Am Infinite Peace!" as the first morning thought, and to hold it, and hold on to it, for those first few minutes which set the day's keynote? Then, whatever matters there will be to attend, or pressing weighty duties to be fulfilled, we shall carry our peace into the midst of them.

Never introduce any particular problem or personal matter for prayer or for consideration until after you have gained the peak of the meditation, rested there for a while, and are ready to descend into the deserted world again.

When his last thought at night and first thought in the morning refers to the Overself, he may appraise his progress as excellent.

In the earlier periods of his development, the higher self will become accessible to him under the form of some mental image registering on his human senses. In the later periods, however, it will be discerned as it is in itself and consequently as pure Being without any form whatever.

The Notebooks are copyright © 1984-1989, The Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation.