Some people say, “Theosophy doesn’t teach meditation and doesn’t explain how to do it; it’s all just theory and metaphysics and nothing practical!” Occasionally even leading Theosophists repeat such statements but the fact is they are entirely untrue.
One of the Mahatmas or Masters of Wisdom behind the founding of the Theosophical Movement at the end of the 19th century wrote:
“Theosophy should not represent merely a collection of moral verities, a bundle of metaphysical ethics, epitomized in theoretical dissertations. Theosophy must be made practical.” (“Some Words on Daily Life”)
As has been shown in many other articles on this site, it is extremely practical and constantly calls upon those who study it to put into practice and physical action the principles of compassion, unselfishness, altruism, and service. Anyone who has seriously studied the vast and extensive writings of H. P. Blavatsky in conjunction with those of William Q. Judge (HPB’s closest colleague, co-founder, and fellow Teacher of the Esoteric Philosophy) knows that this is so.
Robert Crosbie, the founder of the United Lodge of Theosophists, was a devoted pupil of HPB and WQJ and in an article in the January 1916 “Theosophy” magazine he said:
“The recognition of H. P. B. as the accredited Agent and Messenger of Masters, carries with it her estimation of William Q. Judge, her colleague from first to last. A study of the writings of both will show their full accord and complementary nature. H. P. B. presented the philosophy as a whole; William Q. Judge exemplified its practical use in daily life; his writings for the most part are devoted to that purpose, hence their incalculable value. Therefore we have taken upon ourselves the task of rescuing from the obscurity with which theosophical schisms have covered them, his name, nature, mission, work and intimate relation with the founding and progress of the Theosophical Movement.”
But what about the actual practice of meditation itself? Does Theosophy promote it and explain how to do it?
It undeniably does promote and recommend it and, as will be seen below, provides a lot of suggestions and guidance concerning it.
It is true that Theosophy does not provide its students with step-by-step practical instructions such as “#1: do this, #2: then do this, #3: then do this other thing, etc.” But this is because real and lasting progress can only be made when the practical steps taken by an individual arise naturally from within themselves in response to the theory they have learned. “Self-induced and self-devised efforts” is the expression used in the Third Fundamental Proposition of “The Secret Doctrine” when speaking about how human evolution goes forward. Another factor is that everyone is different and unique in their own way. It is certain that any spiritually-inclined person with a normal degree of intelligence and perception can read what follows and devise for themselves some suitable and helpful meditation exercises and practices. Humanity is now beyond the point of having to be spoon-fed everything like children; we must take responsibility for ourselves.
Some people have heard of something known as the “Blavatsky Meditation Diagram” or “HPB Meditation Diagram.” This is not included in this article, nor published elsewhere on this site, due to the fact that there is some serious question as to the authenticity and reliability of the diagram. The doubt does not relate to its content and concepts – which seem clear, good, safe, and in line with her teachings – but rather as to whether or not she actually taught this, or at least in the form expressed in the Diagram.
No-one had ever heard or known of the “Blavatsky Meditation Diagram” until around 1940, when a man named E. T. Sturdy drew it up and sent it to Christmas Humphreys (a Theosophist who founded the London Buddhist Society) saying that towards the end of HPB’s life she had answered Sturdy’s questions about meditation by presenting these things. One year is often sufficient to dim our recollections and in this case approximately 50 years had passed between HPB apparently sharing these things with Sturdy and him drawing up the Diagram! It’s probably for this reason that hardly any Theosophists or Theosophical groups promote or present it, as they can’t vouch for its accuracy and legitimacy in regard to being what HPB actually taught and recommended.
As there are other articles on this site explaining why Theosophy discourages practices (some of which can be related to meditation) such as pranayama, attempting to do things to the chakras, trying to arouse the Kundalini, and sexual tantra, these will not be gone into here but anyone interested can learn more by clicking on the links.
Guided meditations and group meditations are very popular nowadays but most serious students associated with the United Lodge of Theosophists view such practices as undesirable – guided meditation because real progress in meditation has to be made by oneself, plus some guided meditations verge on hypnosis and putting the meditator in a psychically passive state, which from the occult perspective can be quite harmful; and group meditation because of the possibility of “psychic contagion” through the mingling together of different auras and elementals into one collective “entity,” however temporary.
Robert Crosbie’s view of group meditation was partly expressed in one of his letters published posthumously in “The Friendly Philosopher”:
“People sometimes say they find a kind of “coldness” at a Theosophical meeting, where principles of philosophy and their application to the affairs of daily life are discussed; they find more “devotion” at the meetings of the various sects or cults, or even at other types of meetings called “theosophical.” It would be interesting to know what such people understand by “devotion.” They often doubtless refer to those types of meetings where there is “meditation,” a sort of prayer-meeting where psycho-religio emotions are aroused. The Teachers of Theosophy say, “The first test of true discipleship is devotion to the interests of another.” So there are different kinds of “devotion,” some of them to the personality. The real meditation is not that.” (p. 118-119)
As will now be seen from the quotes assembled together from H. P. Blavatsky, William Q. Judge, Robert Crosbie, B. P. Wadia, and Damodar K. Mavalankar – all of them reliably in line with the authentic teachings of HPB and of her Teachers – Theosophical Meditation is a pure, safe, harmless, noble, uplifting, and spiritually edifying practice, which anyone and everyone is welcome and invited to pursue. It may not be “exciting” for the lower self but it is proven, reliable, and timeless.
Something more important, however, is the endeavour to live one’s daily life in as conscious and concentrated a way as possible. This is ultimately of greater lasting value than sitting down and meditating and is possible for everyone, including those who may have certain health issues which make meditation uncomfortable or impossible. Even a little amount of success in living life consciously (see Living Consciously) makes the practice of meditation easier and more fruitful.
THE VALUE OF DAILY MEDITATION
“Meditation is silent and unuttered prayer, or, as Plato expressed it, “the ardent turning of the soul toward the divine; not to ask any particular good (as in the common meaning of prayer), but for good itself – for the universal Supreme Good” of which we are a part on earth, and out of the essence of which we have all emerged.” (H. P. Blavatsky, “The Key to Theosophy” p. 10)
“While we are endeavoring to understand and practice altruism, and while spreading broadcast the doctrines given out by the Adepts respecting man, his status, future fate, and right way of living, each theosophist can devote some of his time to daily meditation and concentration, and all of his time to extirpating his faults and vices; when he has made some progress in this, the good karma he may have acquired by working for the cause of Humanity, which is the same as Universal Brotherhood, will help him to get ready to begin occult practices.” (William Q. Judge, “The Stream of Thought and Queries” article)
“By setting apart a particular time for meditation, a habit is formed, and, as the time comes round, the mind will after a while become trained, so that meditation at the particular time will become natural. Hence, it will be well for you to keep to the same hour as far as possible.” (WQJ, “Letters That Have Helped Me” p. 121)
“Now then, you want more light, and this is what you must do. You will have to “give up” something. To wit: have yourself called half an hour earlier than is usual and devote it before breakfast to silent meditation, in which brood upon all great and high ideas. Half an hour! Surely, that you can spare. And don’t eat first. If you can take another half before you go to bed, and without any preliminaries of undressing or making things agreeable or more comfortable, meditate again. Now don’t fail me in this. This is much to give up, but give it up, recollecting that you are not to make all those preparations so often indulged in by people. . . . “The best and most important teacher is one’s seventh principle centered in the sixth. The more you divest yourself of the illusionary sense of personal isolation, and the more you are devoted to the service of others, the more Maya disappears and the nearer you approach to Divinity.” Good-bye, then, and may you find that peace which comes from the Self.” (WQJ, “Letters That Have Helped Me” p. 96)
“In his hours of silent meditation the student will find that there is one space of silence within him where he can find refuge from thoughts and desires, from the turmoil of the senses and the delusions of the mind. By sinking his consciousness deep into his heart he can reach this place – at first only when he is alone in silence and darkness. But when the need for the silence has grown great enough, he will turn to seek it even in the midst of the struggle with self, and he will find it. Only he must not let go of his outer self, or his body; he must learn to retire into this citadel when the battle grows fierce, but to do so without losing sight of the battle; without allowing himself to fancy that by so doing he has won the victory. That victory is won only when all is silence without as within the inner citadel. Fighting thus, from within that silence, the student will find that he has solved the first great paradox.” (HPB, “The Great Paradox” article)
“The true student has ever been a recluse, a man of silence and meditation.” (HPB, “What are the Theosophists?” article)
“All Probationers [Note: This refers to probationary aspirants for chelaship but can be equally applied by all.] are called upon to examine themselves by the light of their own Inner Ego and with the help of the divine virtues – the paramitas. Ordinarily, virtues are considered to be attributes of the heart; we do not usually speak of mind-feelings; integration or yoga-union between mind and heart demands that the mind become virtuous. We have to learn to think of virtues and to use our reason and our intelligence, our discrimination and our discernment, in practising the paramitas, with which deals the third fragment of our textbook, called “The Seven Portals.” It is from the point of view of the relation between mind and morals that we want to examine the golden Keys.” (B. P. Wadia, “Studies in The Voice of the Silence” p. 16)
“Meditation, abstinence in all, the observation of moral duties, gentle thoughts, good deeds and kind words, as good will to all and entire oblivion of Self, are the most efficacious means of obtaining knowledge and preparing for the reception of higher wisdom.” (HPB, quoting from a Trans-Himalayan esoteric source in the “Practical Occultism” article)
“Neither by the eyes, nor by spirit, nor by the sensuous organs, nor by austerity, nor by sacrifices, can we see Brahma. Only the pure, by the light of wisdom and meditation, can see the pure Deity.” (“Gems from the East,” precepts and axioms compiled by HPB)
THE UNCHANGING WITNESS/PERCEIVER/OBSERVER/SPECTATOR OF ALL CHANGES
“The substratum, or support, for the whole Cosmos, is the presiding spirit, and all the various changes in life, whether of a material nature or solely in mental states, are cognizable because the presiding spirit within is not modifiable. Were it otherwise, then we would have no memory, for with each passing event, we, becoming merged in it, could not remember anything, that is, we would see no changes. There must therefore be something eternally persisting, which is the witness and perceiver of every passing change, itself unchangeable. All objects, and all states of what western philosophers call Mind, are modifications, for in order to be seen or known by us, there must be some change, either partial or total, from a precedent state. The perceiver of these changes is the inner man . . .
“This leads us to the conviction that there must be a universal presiding spirit, the producer as well as the spectator, of all this collection of animate and inanimate things. . . . the immortal part of each man — the Krishna who talks to Arjuna . . . being in essence unmodified, it has the capacity to perceive all the changes going on around the body.
“This Self must be recognized as being within, pondered over, and as much as possible understood, if we are to gain any true knowledge.” (WQJ, “Notes on the Bhagavad Gita” p. 23-24)
“The modifications of the mind are always known to the presiding spirit, because it is not subject to modification.”
“Hence, through all the changes to which the mind and soul are subject, the spiritual soul, Ishwara, remains unmoved, “the witness and spectator.”” (Patanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms, Book IV, Aphorism 17, with comment by William Q. Judge)
“The meditation spoken of as necessary to the highest attainment is sometimes called “a lifetime’s meditation”; it means that the immortality of man has first to be assumed, and then rigidly adhered to as the basis for every thought and action, for it is only in this way that a realization of immortality can be obtained by embodied beings. As it is from the Spirit in Man that all law and power proceeds, each human being creates his own limitations on every plane of being; he can transcend those limitations only by reverting to and maintaining his immortality, as the observer and experiencer of all the passing changes, himself unchanged and unchanging.” (Robert Crosbie, “Notes on the Bhagavad Gita” p. 148-149)
“We know that we are not our bodies, for they constantly change, while we remain the same identity through all the changes. We are not our “minds,” for we change them whenever we find occasion to do so; if we were our minds we could not change them, and further, it is apparent that “change” cannot see “change;” only that which is permanent can see change. That permanency is the Real, the immortal Man, or, as the “Voice of the Silence” states it, “the Man that was, that is, and will be, for whom the hour shall never strike.” Each is the Self, the Perceiver; non-being, yet the cause and sustainer of being; as the Gita states it in this chapter, “thou art the Knower and that which is to be known; “thou art the final supreme receptacle of this universe” – the garnerer of all experience when this universe is dissolved. At the end of the Great Cycle, which includes all minor cycles, all beings return to the primordial state, plus the experience gained. The next great stream of evolution will proceed on the basis of the acquired knowledge of all beings concerned.” (RC, “Notes on the Bhagavad Gita” p. 175-176)
“That in us which is itself unchanging is the only real. Nothing is real that changes. It is only the real that perceives change. Change cannot see change. Only that which is constant perceives change; only the permanent can perceive impermanence. However dimly we may perceive it, there is that in us which is eternal and changeless. This unchanging, constant, and immortal something in us is not absent from any particle or any being whatever. There is only one Life in the world to which we, as well as all other beings, pertain. We all proceeded from the same one Source – not many – and we are proceeding on the same path to the same great goal. The ancients said that the Divine Self is in all beings, but in all it does not shine forth. The real is within, and may be realized by any human being in himself. Everyone needs that realization that he may shine forth and express the God within, which all beings but partially express.” (RC, “What Reincarnates?” article)
“And we may consider this: change cannot see change. Only that which is permanent can see change. So there is that in us which is permanent, which is Real, which is of the highest, which is a ray from and one with the Supreme, the universal Principle or Power, the creator, the sustainer, the regenerator of all that was, is, or ever shall be. We have to realize That – each one for himself – first by recognizing that IT IS, omnipresent, eternal, boundless and immutable; second, by divesting ourselves of those things we thought It to be: that It is this body, this mind, these circumstances. All these are changing things, things seen; but that which is the Real, the Supreme, our very Self and the Self of all things, is not subject to change; It is changeless; It cannot be seen, for It is the Perceiver.” (RC, “The Recognition of Law” article)
MEDITATE ON THE HIGHER SELF INSTEAD OF THE CHAKRAS AND THIRD EYE
“I advise you to discontinue concentration on the vital centres [i.e. the chakras], which again may prove dangerous unless under the guidance of a teacher. You have learnt, to a certain degree, the power of concentration, and the greatest help will now come to you from concentration upon the Higher Self, and aspiration toward the Higher Self. Also, if you will take some subject or sentence from the Bhagavad Gita, and concentrate your mind upon that and meditate upon it, you will find much good result from it, and there is no danger in such concentration.” (WQJ, “Letters That Have Helped Me” p. 115)
“You cannot develop the third eye. It is too difficult, and until you have cleared up a good deal more on philosophy it would be useless, and a useless sacrifice is a crime of folly. But here is advice given by many Adepts: every day and as often as you can, and on going to sleep and as you wake, think, think, think, on the truth that you are not body, brain, or astral man, but that you are THAT, and “THAT” is the Supreme Soul. For by this practice you will gradually kill the false notion which lurks inside that the false is the true, and the true is the false. By persistence in this, by submitting your daily thoughts each night to the judgment of your Higher Self, you will at last gain light.” (WQJ, “Letters That Have Helped Me” p. 116)
BECOMING MENTALLY VACANT OR STARING AT A PHYSICAL OBJECT IS NOT REAL MEDITATION
“Duty and the final imperative – the “what ought I to do” – comes in here and becomes a part of the process. The actions to be performed are not any and every one. We are not to go on heedlessly and indiscriminately doing everything that is suggested. We must discover what actions ought to be performed by us and do them for that reason and not because of some result we expect to follow. . . . By pursuing this practice true meditation is begun and will soon become permanent. For one who watches his thoughts and acts, so as to perform those that ought to be done, will acquire a concentration in time which will increase the power of real meditation. It is not meditation to stare at a spot on the wall for a fixed period, or to remain for another space of time in a perfectly vacuous mental state which soon runs into sleep. All those things are merely forms which in the end will do no lasting good. But many students have run after these follies, ignoring the true way. The truth is that the right method is not easy; it requires thought and mental effort, with persistency and faith. Staring at spots and such miscalled occult practices are very easy in comparison with the former.” (WQJ, “Notes on the Bhagavad Gita” p. 128-129)
MEDITATION ON THE HIGHER SELF – ATMAN, THE ONE UNIVERSAL SPIRIT
“This is the Self. Not the mere body or the faculties of the brain, but the Highest Self. And that must be meditated on, or worshipped, with a constant meditation.” (WQJ, “What is the Udgitha?” article)
“The Self is one and all-powerful, but it must happen to the seeker from time to time that he or she shall feel the strangeness of new conditions; this is not a cause for fear. If the mind is kept intent on the Self and not diverted from it, and comes to see the Self in all things, no matter what, then fear should pass away in time. I would therefore advise you to study and meditate over the Bhagavad Gita, which is a book that has done me more good than all others in the whole range of books, and is the one that can be studied all the time. This will do more good than anything – if the great teachings are silently assimilated and put into action, for it goes to the very root of things and gives the true philosophy of life. If you try to put into practice what in your inner life you hold to be right, you will be more ready to receive helpful thoughts and the inner life will grow more real. I hope with you that your home may become a strong centre of work for Theosophy.” (WQJ, “Letters That Have Helped Me” p. 106)
“Arouse, arouse in you the meaning of “Thou art That.” Thou art the Self. This is the thing to think of in meditation, and if you believe it, then tell others the same. You have read it before, but now try to realize it more and more each day, and you will have the light you want.” (WQJ, “Letters That Have Helped Me” p. 126)
“It is true that too often when we begin to meditate on some elevating thought, dark thoughts come in, and this is not easy to overcome; but if we remember that the very essence of our being, the inmost sanctuary of the Soul, is divine, we can enter into it and shut out the evil. The tendency of the mind is to wander from subject to subject, and so we should try to follow the advice of the Bhagavad Gita: “To whatsoever object the inconstant mind goeth out, he should subdue it, bring it back and place it upon the Spirit.” “There is no purifier in this world to be compared to spiritual knowledge, and he who is perfected in devotion findeth Spiritual knowledge springing up spontaneously in himself in the progress of time.”” (WQJ, “Letters That Have Helped Me” p. 175)
“But let me again insist upon your trying to realize in your selves that you are a part of the All. That is the constant subject of meditation, and will bring the best and most rapid progress.” (WQJ, “Letters That Have Helped Me” p. 200)
“This chapter [i.e. Chapter 7 of the Bhagavad Gita] is devoted to the question of that spiritual discernment by means of which the Supreme Spirit can be discerned in all things, and the absence of which causes a delusion constantly recurring, the producer of sorrow. Krishna says that this sort of knowledge leaves nothing else to be known, but that to attain it the heart – that is, every part of the nature – must be fixed on the Spirit, meditation has to be constant, and the Spirit made the refuge or abiding-place. He then goes on to show that to have attained to such a height is to be a Mahatma.” (WQJ, “Notes on the Bhagavad Gita” p. 132)
“There is no doubt but that by an earnest aspiration one arouses all the hidden inner foes, but then determined effort will destroy them. It is wise to always remember that “Ishwara” the Spirit that is common to all dwells inside of us and if that be so, our sincere belief in and reliance upon It will gradually awaken us to the consciousness that we are that spirit itself and not the miserable creatures which walk on this earth bearing our names. Hence I would ever reflect on the spiritual unity of all beings, continually saying to myself that I am actually that spirit. Our difficulties are always due to the personality which is unwilling to give itself up to the great idea that it has no real existence except in the one Spirit.” (WQJ, October 1890 letter to Helen Winsor)
“Real Concentration is in fact Union with the Divine. We are to understand that we are each the Divine. There is no separateness but the one Spirit is in each reflected in each person. This truth, expressed by the ancients as “Thou art that spirit” is to be well understood and felt before concentration can become possible. Ordinary concentration of attention is merely an outward show but of course necessary also in the real concentration. Now having deeply thought over this you should study such a book as Patanjali’s yoga Philosophy, which is the philosophy of concentration and in which you should find much light on this topic. The true source for concentration is selflessness, for as long as we feel the shackles of the personal self, so long is concentration hindered in various ways. I think in the above is what you need if you will study it out for it needs much thought.” (WQJ, January 1891 letter to Baber Pathorne)
“. . . thou hast to live and breathe in all, as all that thou perceivest breathes in thee; to feel thyself abiding in all things, all things in SELF.
“Thou shalt not let thy senses make a playground of thy mind.
“Thou shalt not separate thy being from BEING, and the rest, but merge the Ocean in the drop, the drop within the Ocean.
“So shalt thou be in full accord with all that lives; bear love to men as though they were thy brother-pupils, disciples of one Teacher, the sons of one sweet mother.” (“The Voice of the Silence” original edition, p. 49, translated by HPB from the Book of the Golden Precepts)
EXAMPLE OF A MEDITATION
“I had to find some means of reaching further, and struck on this, which is as old as old age.
“I am not separate from anything. “I am that which is.” That is, I am Brahma, and Brahma is everything. But being in an illusionary world, I am surrounded by certain appearances that seem to make me separate. So I will proceed to mentally state and accept that I am all these illusions. I am my friends, – and then I went to them in general and in particular. I am my enemies; then I felt them all. I am the poor and the wicked; I am the ignorant. Those moments of intellectual gloom are the moments when I am influenced by those ignorant ones who are myself. All this in my nation. But there are many nations, and to those I go in mind; I feel and I am them all, with what they hold of superstition or of wisdom or evil. All, all is myself. Unwisely, I was then about to stop, but the whole is Brahma, so I went to the Devas and Asuras; the elemental world, that too is myself. After pursuing this course a while, I found it easier to return to a contemplation of all men as myself. It is a good method and ought to be pursued, for it is a step toward getting into contemplation of the All. . . . shall I not take heart, even when a dear friend deserts me and stabs me deep, when I know that he is myself?” (WQJ, “Letters That Have Helped Me” p. 6-7)
NOTE: In this passage, Mr Judge is not referring to Brahmā, which is written with an accent over the last “a” and pronounced “Brahmaa,” for Brahmā is an aspect of the Logos, and in Theosophy we are never enjoined to view ourselves as Brahmā but rather as Brahman, the supreme Absolute Infinite Impersonal Divine Principle, also termed Parabrahm. In WQJ and HPB’s time, “Brahman” was often just written as “Brahma” (without the “n”) or as “Brahma (neuter).” As this can admittedly be somewhat confusing, this term is almost always written nowadays simply as Brahman. For clarification about the usage of such terms in Theosophical literature, please see the article Parabrahm, Brahman, and Brahma – Why The Confusion?
MEDITATION ON THE MASTERS AS IDEALS AND FACTS
“Fix your thoughts again on Those Elder Brothers, work for Them, serve Them, and They will help through the right appropriate means and no other. To meditate on the Higher Self is difficult. Seek, then, the bridge – the Masters.” (WQJ, “Letters That Have Helped Me” p. 112)
“I would not have you look on me in the light of a spiritual Guru. Think of me as kindly as you will, but do not place me on any pedestal; let me be a pilot who will be most glad to help with any charts and guidance. In reality the Masters are Those to whom we should turn our thoughts in meditation. They are the “bridge,” as W. Q. J. says in one of the “Letters.”” (RC, “The Friendly Philosopher” p. 6)
“You speak of a surer sense of truth than any manner of reasoning. This is the action of Buddhi – direct cognition – the goal to which all right philosophy and life leads. In our sincere efforts we at times may have flashes from that seat of consciousness. The great result would be to have the continuous co-operation of Manas and Buddhi – higher mind and spiritual knowledge; to work as the god-man, perfect in all his parts, instead of the present sectional operation which obtains.
“You may remember that in The Voice of the Silence there are two doctrines mentioned. The Doctrine of the Eye is that of the brain consciousness, composed largely of external impressions. The Doctrine of the Heart is of the spiritual consciousness of the Ego – not perceived by the brain consciousness until right thought, and right action which sooner or later follows it, attune certain centers in the brain in accord with the spiritual vibration. It might be well to read The Voice over and meditate on its sayings. You have had much of the intellectual side; there should be as much of the devotional; for what is desirable is the awakening of the spiritual consciousness, the intuition – Buddhi – and this cannot be done unless the thoughts are turned that way with power and purpose. You may, if you will, set apart a certain half-hour, just before retiring and after arising – as soon as possible after – and before eating. Concentrate the mind upon the Masters as ideals and facts – living, active, beneficent Beings working in and on the plane of causes. Meditate upon this exclusively, and try to reach up to Them in thought. If you find the mind has strayed, bring it back again to the subject of meditation. The mind will stray more or less, at first, and perhaps for a long time to come, but do not be discouraged at the apparent results if unsatisfactory to your mind. The real results may not at once be apparent, but the work is not lost, even though not seen. It is more than likely that the work in this direction will be perceived by others rather than yourselves. Never mind the past, for you are at the entrance of a new world to you as persons. You have set your feet on the path that leads to real knowledge.
“Do not try to open up conscious communication with beings on other planes. It is not the time and danger lies that way, because of the power of creating one’s own images, and because of the power and disposition of the dark forces to simulate beings of Light, and render futile your efforts to reach the goal. When the materials are ready the Architect will appear, but seek him not; seek only to be ready. Do the best you can from day to day, fearing nothing, doubting nothing, putting your whole trust in the Great Law, and all will be well. With the right attitude knowledge will come.” (RC, “The Friendly Philosopher” p. 13-14)
“Meditation as used by us, is what is called in Sanscrit Dhyana, i.e., want of motion, and one-pointedness. The main point is to free the mind from the power of the senses, and to raise a current of thought to the exclusion of all others. “Realization comes from dwelling on the thing to be realized.” W. Q. J. says, “To meditate on the Higher Self is difficult; seek then, the Bridge, the Masters. The patient dwelling of the mind on a single thought results in the gaining of wisdom, and it is thus that the true Occultist is developed. Aspiration toward the Higher Self should form part of the daily meditation; the rising toward the higher planes of our being, which cannot be found unless they are sought. Earnest and reverent desire for Master’s guidance and enlightenment will begin the attunement of the nature to the harmony to which it must one day respond. Concentration on a single point in the Teaching is a road to the philosophy; self-examination, a road to knowledge of oneself. To put oneself in the place of another, to realize his difficulties, and thus be able to help him, is that faculty – which when extended makes it possible for the Adept to understand the nature of the stone or other form of consciousness.” Meditation is a good beneficent practice leading to a great end. It is also a great destroyer of the personal idea.” (RC, “The Friendly Philosopher” p. 93)
MEDITATION ON THE SUN
“Our own sun is, then, for us the symbol of the true one he reflects, and by meditating on “the most excellent light of the true sun” we can gain help in our struggle to assist humanity. Our physical sun is for physics, not metaphysics, while that true one shines down within us. The orb of day guards and sustains the animal economy; the true sun shines into us through its medium within our nature. We should then direct our thought to that true sun and prepare the ground within for its influence, just as we do the ground without for the vivifying rays of the King of Day.” (WQJ, “Our Sun and the True Sun” article)
“Student. – Can you mention some of the relations in which the sun stands to us and nature in respect to Occultism?
“Sage. – It has many such, and all important. But I would draw your attention first to the greater and more comprehensive. The sun is the center of our solar system. The life-energies of that system come to it through the sun, which is a focus or reflector for the spot in space where the real center is. And not only comes mere life through that focus, but also much more that is spiritual in its essence. The sun should therefore not only be looked at with the eye but thought of by the mind. It represents to the world what the Higher Self is to the man. It is the soul-center of the world with its six companions, as the Higher Self is the center for the six principles of man. So it supplies to those six principles of the man many spiritual essences and powers. He should for that reason think of it and not confine himself to gazing at it. So far as it acts materially in light, heat, and gravity, it will go on of itself, but man as a free agent must think upon it in order to gain what benefit can come only from his voluntary action in thought.
“Student. – Will you refer to some minor one?
“Sage. – Well, we sit in the sun for heat and possible chemical effects. But if at the same time that we do this we also think on it as the sun in the sky and of its possible essential nature, we thereby draw from it some of its energy not otherwise touched. This can also be done on a dark day when clouds obscure the sky, and some of the benefit thus be obtained. Natural mystics, learned and ignorant, have discovered this for themselves here and there, and have often adopted the practice. But it depends, as you see, upon the mind.” (WQJ, “Mental Discipline” in the “Conversations on Occultism” series of articles)
MEDITATION ON THE SACRED WORD “OM” OR “AUM”
“Meditation on tone, as expressed in this Sanskrit word OM, will lead us to a knowledge of the secret Doctrine. . . . With us OM has a signification. It represents the constant undercurrent of meditation, which ought to be carried on by every man, even while engaged in the necessary duties of this life.” (WQJ, “AUM!” article)
“The word Om or Aum is at once an invocation of the highest within, a benediction, an affirmation, and a promise; its proper use is said to lead to a realization of the Self within. The Aum contains within itself all the aspects and implies the Universe controlled by the Supreme Spirit. It represents the constant current of meditation which ought to be carried on by every man, even while engaged in the necessary duties of life. There is for every conditioned being a target at which the aim is constantly directed; in the Mundaka Upanishad there is the following, “Om is the bow, the Self is the arrow, Brahman is called its aim. It is to be hit by a man who is not thoughtless; and then as the arrow becomes one with the target, he will become one with Brahman. Know him alone as the Self, and leave off other words. He is the bridge of the Immortal. Meditate on the Self as Om.”” (RC, “Notes on the Bhagavad Gita” p. 224-225)
LIGHTS, PICTURES, SOUNDS, COLOURS, AND SENSATIONS
“Those . . . who worship some particular God – or, if they so prefer, the one ISWAR under some particular name – are too apt to attribute every psychological effect, induced by mental concentration during the hours of religious meditation to their special deity, whereas, in 99 cases out of 100, such effects are due simply to purely psycho-physiological effects. We know a number of mystically-inclined people who see . . . “lights” . . . as soon as they concentrate their thoughts. Spiritualists attribute them to the agency of their departed friends; Buddhists – who have no personal God – to a pre-nirvanic state; Pantheists and Vedantins to Maya – or the illusion of the senses; and Christians – to a foresight of the glories of Paradise. The modern Occultists say that, when not directly due to cerebral action whose normal functions are certainly impeded by such an artificial mode of deep concentration – these lights are glimpses of the Astral Light, or, to use a more scientific expression – of the “Universal Ether” firmly believed in by more than one man of science, . . . Like the pure blue sky closely shrouded by thick vapours on a misty day – is the Astral Light concealed from our physical senses during the hours of our normal, daily life. But when concentrating all our spiritual faculties, we succeed, for the time being, to paralyze their enemy – physical senses, and the inner man becomes, so to say, distinct from the man of matter, then, the action of the ever-living spirit, like a breeze that clears the sky from its obstructing clouds – sweeps away the mist which lies between our normal vision and the Astral Light, and we obtain glimpses into, and of, that Light.” (HPB, “Theosophical Articles and Notes” p. 105)
But remember: “The whole astral world is a mass of illusion; people see into it, and then, through the novelty of the thing and the exclusiveness of the power, they are bewildered into thinking they actually see true things, whereas they have only removed one thin crust of dirt.” (WQJ, “Elementals and Elementaries” in the “Conversations on Occultism” series of articles)
“In regard to the pictures which you see [while meditating], observe them with indifference, relying always on the Higher Self, and looking to it for knowledge and light, pictures or no pictures.” (WQJ, “Letters That Have Helped Me” p. 122)
“The feathery touches which come upon the skin while trying these experiments are said by mediums to be the gentle touches of “the spirits.” But they are not. They are caused by the ethereal fluids from within us making their way out through the skin and thus producing the illusion of a touch. When enough has gone out, then the victim is getting gradually negative [i.e. psychically passive], the future prey for spooks and will-o’-the-wisp images.” (WQJ, “Shall We Teach Clairvoyance?” article)
“In the way of meditation, DON’T GET PASSIVE; danger lies that way. Be active in all things. The giddiness will pass away in time; the change with all its disturbances, mental, and other wise, has doubtless acted upon the nerve-currents and circulatory system. The way to overcome disturbance, of course, is by mental and physical calmness; this should be maintained. Medical assistance should be used for the body at times, because the “mental attitude” brings about changes in the body – for the most part gradually – but which sometimes needs material aid in becoming co-ordinated; so do not despise medical aid should any need arise.” (RC, “The Friendly Philosopher” p. 21-22)
“When a student starts upon the path and begins to see spots of light flash out now and then, or balls of golden fire roll past him, it does not mean that he is beginning to see the real Self – pure spirit. A moment of deepest peace or wonderful revealings given to the student, is not the awful moment when one is about to see his spiritual guide, much less his own soul. Nor are psychical splashes of blue flame, nor visions of things that afterwards come to pass, nor sights of small sections of the astral light with its wonderful photographs of past or future, nor the sudden ringing of distant fairy-like bells, any proof that you are cultivating spirituality. These things, and still more curious things, will occur when you have passed a little distance on the way, but they are only the mere outposts of a new land which is itself wholly material, and only one remove from the plane of gross physical consciousness. The liability to be carried off and intoxicated by these phenomena is to be guarded against. . . . It is certain that any student who devotes himself to these astral happenings will see them increase. But were our whole life devoted to and rewarded by an enormous succession of phenomena, it is also equally certain that the casting off of the body would be the end of all that sort of experience, without our having added really anything to our stock of true knowledge.” (WQJ, “Astral Intoxication” article)
“Do not try to open up conscious communication with beings on other planes. It is not the time and danger lies that way, because of the power of creating one’s own images, and because of the power and disposition of the dark forces to simulate beings of Light, and render futile your efforts to reach the goal.” (RC, “The Friendly Philosopher” p. 14)
DHARANA, DHYANA, SAMADHI
“It is well to pursue some kind of practice, and pursue it either in a fixed place, or in a mental place which cannot be seen, or at night. The fact that what is called Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi may be performed should be known. (See Patanjali’s yoga system.)
“Dharana is selecting a thing, a spot, or an idea, to fix the mind on.
“Dhyana is contemplation of it.
“Samadhi is meditating on it.
“When attempted, they of course are all one act.
“Now, then, take what is called the well of the throat or pit of the throat.
1st. Select it.—Dharana.
2d. Hold the mind on it.—Dhyana.
3d Meditate on it.— Samadhi.
This gives firmness of mind.
“Then select the spot in the head where the Sushumna nerve goes. Never mind the location; call it the top of the head. Then pursue the same course. This will give some insight into spiritual minds. At first it is difficult, but it will grow easy by practice. If done at all, the same hour of each day should be selected, as creating a habit, not only in the body, but also in the mind. Always keep the direction of Krishna in mind, namely, that it is done for the whole body corporate of humanity, and not for one’s self.” (WQJ, “Letters That Have Helped Me” p. 29)
“He who would hear the voice of Nada, “the Soundless Sound,” and comprehend it, he has to learn the nature of Dharana.”
“Dharana, is the intense and perfect concentration of the mind upon some one interior object, accompanied by complete abstraction from everything pertaining to the external Universe, or the world of the senses.” (“The Voice of the Silence” p. 1 and explanatory note by HPB on p. 73, original 1889 edition)
REAL RAJA YOGA IS MENTAL, NOT PHYSICAL
“Raj Yoga encourages no sham, requires no physical postures. It has to deal with the inner man whose sphere lies in the world of thought. To have the highest ideal placed before oneself and strive incessantly to rise up to it, is the only true concentration recognized by Esoteric Philosophy which deals with the inner world of noumena, not the outer shell of phenomena. The first requisite for it is thorough purity of heart. Well might the student of Occultism say, with Zoroaster, that purity of thought, purity of word, and purity of deed, – these are the essentials of one who would rise above the ordinary level and join the “gods.” . . . I, at any rate, am unable to prescribe any specific posture for the kind of incessant contemplation that I recommend. . . .
“Let us now see what kind of contemplation (or meditation) the Elixir of Life recommends for the aspirants after occult knowledge. It says: – “Reasoning from the known to the unknown, meditation must be practised and encouraged.” That is to say, a chela’s meditation should constitute the “reasoning from the known to the unknown.” The “known” is the phenomenal world, cognizable by our five senses. And all that we see in this manifested world are the effects, the causes of which are to be sought after in the noumenal, the unmanifested, the “unknown world:” this is to be accomplished by meditation, i.e., continued attention to the subject. Occultism does not depend upon one method, but employs both the deductive and inductive. The student must first learn the general axioms. For the time being, he will of course have to take them as assumptions, if he prefers to call them so. . . .
“These axioms have sufficiently been laid out [in the original Theosophical literature and teachings] . . . What the student has first to do is to comprehend these axioms and, by employing the deductive method, to proceed from universals to particulars. He has then to reason from the “known to the unknown,” and see if the inductive method of proceeding from particulars to universals supports those axioms. This process forms the primary stage of true contemplation. The student must first grasp the subject intellectually before he can hope to realize his aspirations.
“When this is accomplished, then comes the next stage of meditation which is “the inexpressible yearning of the inner man to ‘go out towards the infinite’.” Before any such yearning can be properly directed, the goal, to which it is to be its aim to run, must be determined by the preliminary stages. The higher stage, in fact, consists in realizing practically what the first steps have placed within one’s comprehension. In short, contemplation, in its true sense, is to recognize the truth of Eliphas Levi’s saying: – “To believe without knowing is weakness; to believe because one knows, is power.”
“Or, in other words, to see that “KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.” Reflection or contemplation . . . teaches the student that to comprehend the noumenal, he must identify himself with Nature. Instead of looking upon himself as an isolated being, he must learn to look upon himself as a part of the INTEGRAL WHOLE. For, in the unmanifested world, it can be clearly perceived that all is controlled by the “Law of Affinity,” the attraction of one to the other. There, all is Infinite Love, understood in its true sense.
“It may now be not out of place to recapitulate what has already been said. The first thing to be done is to study the axioms of Occultism and work upon them by the deductive and the inductive methods, which is real contemplation. To turn this to a useful purpose, what is theoretically comprehended must be practically realized.” (Damodar K. Mavalankar, “Contemplation,” “Theosophical Articles and Notes” p. 43, 45-48)
MEDITATION MUST BE BALANCED WITH STUDY OF SPIRITUAL TRUTHS
“By perfection in study and meditation the Supreme Spirit becomes manifest; study is one eye to behold it, and meditation is the other.” (“Gems from the East,” precepts and axioms compiled by HPB)
EXTRACTS FROM “MEDITATION, CONCENTRATION, WILL” BY WILLIAM Q. JUDGE
“These three, meditation, concentration, will, have engaged the attention of Theosophists perhaps more than any other three subjects. A canvass of opinions would probably show that the majority of our reading and thinking members would rather hear these subjects discussed and read definite directions about them than any others in the entire field. They say they must meditate, they declare a wish for concentration, they would like a powerful will, and they sigh for strict directions, readable by the most foolish theosophist. It is a western cry for a curriculum, a course, a staked path, a line and rule by inches and links. Yet the path has long been outlined and described, so that any one could read the directions whose mind had not been half-ruined by modern false education, and memory rotted by the superficial methods of a superficial literature and a wholly vain modern life.
“Let us divide Meditation into two sorts. First is the meditation practiced at a set time, or an occasional one, whether by design or from physiological idiosyncrasy. Second is the meditation of an entire lifetime, that single thread of intention, intentness, and desire running through the years stretching between the cradle and the grave.
“For the first, in Patanjali’s Aphorisms will be found all needful rules and particularity. If these are studied and not forgotten, then practice must give results. How many of those who reiterate the call for instruction on this head have read that book, only to turn it down and never again consider it? Far too many.
“The mysterious subtle thread of a life meditation is that which is practiced every hour by philosopher, mystic, saint, criminal, artist, artisan, and merchant. It is pursued in respect to that on which the heart is set; it rarely languishes; at times the meditating one greedily running after money, fame, and power looks up briefly and sighs for a better life during a brief interval, but the passing flash of a dollar or a sovereign recalls him to his modern senses, and the old meditation begins again. Since all theosophists are here in the social whirl I refer to, they can every one take these words to themselves as they please. Very certainly, if their life meditation is fixed low down near the ground, the results flowing to them from it will be strong, very lasting, and related to the low level on which they work. Their semi-occasional meditations will give precisely semi-occasional results in the long string of recurring births.
“But then,” says another, “what of concentration? We must have it. We wish it; we lack it.” Is it a piece of goods that you can buy it, do you think, or something that will come to you just for the wishing? Hardly. In the way we divided meditation into two great sorts, so we can divide concentration. One is the use of an already acquired power on a fixed occasion, the other the deep and constant practice of a power that has been made a possession. Concentration is not memory, since the latter is known to act without our concentrating on anything, and we know that centuries ago the old thinkers very justly called memory a phantasy.
“But by reason of a peculiarity of the human mind the associative part of memory is waked up the very instant concentration is attempted. It is this that makes students weary and at last drives them away from the pursuit of concentration. A man sits down to concentrate on the highest idea he can formulate, and like a flash troops of recollections of all sorts of affairs, old thoughts and impressions come before his mind, driving away the great object he first selected, and concentration is at an end. This trouble is only to be corrected by practice, by assiduity, by continuance. No strange and complicated directions are needed. All we have to do is to try and to keep on trying.
“The subject of the Will has not been treated of much in theosophical works, old or new. Patanjali does not go into it at all. It seems to be inferred by him through his aphorisms. Will is universal, and belongs to not only man and animals, but also to every other natural kingdom. The good and bad man alike have will, the child and the aged, the wise and the lunatic. It is therefore a power devoid in itself of moral quality. That quality must be added by man. So the truth must be that will acts according to desire, or, as the older thinkers used to put it, “behind will stands desire.” . . . Will and Desire lie at the doors of Meditation and Concentration. If we desire truth with the same intensity that we had formerly wished for success, money, or gratification, we will speedily acquire meditation and possess concentration.
“If we do all our acts, small and great, every moment, for the sake of the whole human race, as representing the Supreme Self, then every cell and fibre of the body and inner man will be turned in one direction, resulting in perfect concentration. This is expressed in the New Testament in the statement that if the eye is single the whole body will be full of light, and in the Bhagavad Gita it is still more clearly and comprehensively given through the different chapters. In one it is beautifully put as the lighting up in us of the Supreme One, who then becomes visible. Let us meditate on that which is in us as the Highest Self, concentrate upon it, and will to work for it as dwelling in every human heart.” (bold added for emphasis)
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE YOGA APHORISMS OR SUTRAS OF PATANJALI
The following are just a very few excerpts from the first of the four “books” or sections of this book, quoted from the William Q. Judge rendition published by Theosophy Company. For the ancient Indian sage Patanjali, real Yoga was mental Yoga, the science of concentrated meditation, also known as Raja Yoga. Aphorism 2 (the first quoted below) and the explanatory comment upon it are extremely important and summarise the core practice briefly, simply, and clearly.
2. Concentration, or Yoga, is the hindering of the modifications of the thinking principle.
WQJ: . . . So “concentration” is equivalent to the correction of a tendency to diffuseness, and to the obtaining of what the Hindus call “one-pointedness,” or the power to apply the mind, at any moment, to the consideration of a single point of thought, to the exclusion of all else. Upon this Aphorism the method of the system hinges. . . .
5. The modifications of the mind are of five kinds, and they are either painful or not painful;
6. They are, Correct Cognition, Misconception, Fancy, Sleep, and Memory.
12. The hindering of the modifications of the mind already referred to, is to be effected by means of Exercise and Dispassion.
13. Exercise is the uninterrupted, or repeated, effort that the mind shall remain in its unmoved state.
14. This exercise is a firm position observed out of regard for the end in view, and perseveringly adhered to for a long time without intermission.
WQJ: The student must not conclude from this that he can never acquire concentration unless he devotes every moment of his life to it, for the words “without intermission” apply but to the length of time that has been set apart for the practice.
15. Dispassion is the having overcomes one’s desires.
WQJ: That is – the attainment of a state of being in which the consciousness is unaffected by passions, desires, and ambitions, which aid in causing modifications of the mind.
30. The obstacles in the way of him who desires to attain concentration are Sickness, Languor, Doubt, Carelessness, Laziness, Addiction to objects of sense, Erroneous Perception, Failure to attain any stage of abstraction, and Instability in any state when attained.
31. These obstacles are accompanied by grief, distress, trembling, and sighing.
32. For the prevention of these, one truth should be dwelt upon.
WQJ: Any accepted truth which one approves, is here meant.
33. Through the practicing of Benevolence, Tenderness, Complacency, and Disregard for objects of happiness, grief, virtue, and vice, the mind becomes purified.
34. Distractions may be combatted by a regulated control or management of the breath in inspiration, retention, and exhalation.
35. A means of procurement of steadiness of the mind may be found in an immediate sensuous cognition;
36. Or, an immediate cognition of a spiritual subject being produced, this may also serve to the same end;
37. Or, the thought taking as its object some one devoid of passion – as, for instance, an ideally pure character – may find what will serve as a means;
38. Or, by dwelling on knowledge that presents itself in a dream, steadiness of mind may be procured;
39. Or, it may be effected by pondering upon anything that one approves.
40. The student whose mind is thus steadied obtains a mastery which extends from the Atomic to the Infinite.
41. The mind that has been so trained that the ordinary modifications of its action are not present, but only those which occur upon the conscious taking up of an object for contemplation, is changed into the likeness of that which is pondered upon, and enters into full comprehension of the being thereof.
From the Preface: “This edition of Patanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms is not put forth as a new translation, nor as a literal rendering into English of the original. . . . It may be said by some captious critics that liberties have been taken with the text, and if this were emitted as a textual translation the charge would be true. Instead of this being a translation, it is offered as an interpretation, as the thought of Patanjali clothed in our language. No liberties have been taken with the system of the great Sage, but the endeavor has been faithfully to interpret it to Western minds unfamiliar with the Hindu modes of expression, and equally unaccustomed to their philosophy and logic.” “THIS BOOK IS LAID UPON THE ALTAR OF MASTERS’ CAUSE, AND IS DEDICATED TO THEIR SERVANT H. P. BLAVATSKY.”
~ * ~
Helpful and beneficial meditation practices are of course to be found in many different traditions, religions, and philosophies. A few of them complement well that which has been shared above. The above, if practised seriously and consistently, will be found more than sufficient though, leaving it unnecessary to try to also engage in various Buddhist, Hindu, and other meditation systems. What Theosophy provides is particularly designed and suited for the Western world, unacquainted as it is with occult practices. In “Letters That Have Helped Me” p. 73-75, Mr Judge explains:
“It is not the desire of the Brotherhood that those members of the Theosophical movement who have, under their rights, taken up a belief in the messengers and the message should become pilgrims to India. To arouse that thought was not the work nor the wish of H.P.B. Nor is it the desire of the Lodge to have members think that Eastern methods are to be followed, Eastern habits adopted, or the present East made the model or the goal. The West has its own work and its duty, its own life and development. Those it should perform, aspire to and follow, and not try to run to other fields where the duties of other men are to be performed. . . . The new era of Western Occultism definitely began in 1875 with the efforts of that noble woman who abandoned the body of that day not long ago. This does not mean that the Western Occultism is to be something wholly different from and opposed to what so many know, or think they know, as Eastern Occultism. . . . It has, as its mission, largely entrusted to the hands of the Theosophical Society, to furnish to the West that which it can never get from the East; to push forward and raise high on the circular path of evolution now rolling West, the light that lighteth every man who cometh into the world – the light of the true Self, who is the one true Master for every human being; all other Masters are but servants of that true One; in it all real Lodges have their union.”
~ BlavatskyTheosophy.com ~
FOR THE COMPLETE LIST OF OVER 300 ARTICLES ON ALL ASPECTS OF THEOSOPHY AND THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, PLEASE CLICK HERE. THE BOOKS FROM WHICH THE ABOVE PASSAGES ARE QUOTED ARE AVAILABLE FROM THE UNITED LODGE OF THEOSOPHISTS AND LISTED HERE. YOU CAN ALSO JOIN THE “ORIGINAL THEOSOPHY” FACEBOOK GROUP BY CLICKING HERE AND FOLLOWING THE RELEVANT STEPS.