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good and bad meditation

Dec 11, 1993 01:34 PM
by eldon

When we go to a bookstore or library to read about meditation, we find
that it is a rich, diverse field of study. Much thought has been given
to the subject, especially by eastern religions like Buddhism. There
is a varied assortment of techniques that we could practice.

There are also mysteries of the mind, of the operation of Manas, that
we may have not been aware of. Certain meditative approaches can help
bring them out, and we need to be careful of what we may undertake.

One mystery concerns the other ways that thought may happen. Consider
our typical form of thought. It corresponds to the sense of hearing.
What we know in the mind, what has surfaced at the moment to the
surface of the mind is *heard* in a mental narration.

There may also be other aspects of knowing, that correspond to the
sense of sight, where an entire field of vision is taken in at a
single glance.

For now, we'd probably best leave these other aspects of the mind
as mysteries, and consider these various meditative practices that we
find offered us, in order to decide which, if any, it would be good
to adopt. We should concentrate on the question of telling the good
techniques from the bad.

Of the meditative practices that we may find offered us, it would be
possible to live a constructive, spiritual life by following one of
them, one of the good ones. But we need certain keys provided by
Theosophy to distinguish the helpful from the hurtful.

In examining an approach to meditation, we need to ask ourselves a
number of questions. We need to examine what is taught, and the affects
on the practitioners.

Does the technique teach an escape or release from the world, or does
it help us to be infilled with the spirit? Are we trained in the path
of the solitary one, the Pratyeka Buddha, the path of personal
liberation, or the path of the Bodhisattva, the path of Compassion?

This difference would show up in the contents of what we are taught
to meditate on, as well as the approach. Meditating with the eyes
half-opened, like in Zen, helps, for instance, with staying here in
the world, with become infilled with the spirit, rather than an escape.

Are we taught to seek after powers, to gain personal powers, or are
we trained in the higher faculties? Do we seek clairvoyance, or seek
wisdom? Do we seek changes to the personality or seek an experience
of a higher consciousness?

Are we training to control nature and others, or training in self
control? Do we seek to control other people, to shape their lives, or
do we seek to redirect and refocus our own life? Do we strive to draw
money and recognition to ourselves, to make others do or be what we'd
want them to, or do we dwell deeply in unselfishness, in generosity,
in respect of the rights of others to direct their own lives?

Do we experience impatience, expectation, and alternate between
dissatisification and pleasure, or do we sink deeply into peace,
bliss, insight, and harmony with life?

Do things in our outer life start going the way we'd have them, with
the consequent regret that comes from not really knowing what we've
gotten ourselves into. Or, on the other hand, do things come to us
out of a sense of mystery, where they appear in an almost coincidental,
but magical sort of way?

Is our experience one of unreality, at times, with moments of doubt,
disbelief, of gnawing uncertainity? Or are their flashes of sweeping
inspiration, of certainity, of grandeur, of *knowing* life to be
rooted in a higher reality?

Are there opportunities arising in our lives, opportunities for
personality advancement, sometimes at the expense of others? Or do
we find futher opportunities for selfless work, for acts of
self-forgetfulness, of doing good without self-awareness that we are
doing so, of sacrifice without sense of personal loss?

And finally, do the theosophical Teachings grow more meaningless,
arbitrary, becoming a confusing jumble of words that are difficult
to make sense of. Or do they become richer, more magical, a vaster
source of learning and insight?

There are various things that we can look for in considering a
meditative technique. We must choose one that is good for us, one
carefully picked to aid our progress and assist us in becoming agents
of good in the world, rather than one that would set us back, and
burden us with the karma of causing injury to ourselves and others.

Even, though, if we do not pick out a meditative technique, even if
we do not choose to meditate, we are really already doing so. For the
contemplation of the Teachings, their study, is a higher activity, a
high form of mediation in itself.

With no goal in mind, no sense of personality, no picturing of
concrete activites, we just dwell in the sacred philosophy, we dwell
in the brilliant, the luminious, the divine side of life. We visit
a deep part of our natures, as we dive into the study of Theosophy,
and undertake a most grand meditation!

It is a high form of meditation to dwell in the Mystery Teachings and
live for a moment in that part of our nature that corresponds to them.
That part of us perceives life without directly acting in the personal
world, and is truly the realm of the gods!

Our study is not just a high form of thinking, not just the practice
of a high form of knowing about things, but is truly a spiritual
practice. We have something special, and we should treat our treasure
with the highest respect. When we open some of our great books, when
we visit the lofty realms of life in our thought, we should go with
reverence, with deep regard, with a sense of the sacred. For we are
visiting the realm of the gods, as a guest, and even a trace of the
profane, of the selfish or ignoble, would blind us to the beauty that
we behold!

                          Eldon Tucker (

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