From the newsletter, Sufis Speak
“Meditation is just thinking isn’t it? So why the long word?” This is a frequent remark. Meditation is a certain type of thinking. And this is just the beginning.
When you read a book, or skip through it, or when you listen to a lecture, this is not meditation. When you take out of a book or a lecture a thought or two, play with them in your mind, turn them around, look at them from all sides and try to build them into your mind as part of your mind, that is meditation. If you are planning a building or a trip, and particularly if you are not writing things down, but keep the entire picture in your mind while you work on it, that is meditation. When you repeat a well-known prayer without much thought, that is not meditation. Feeling is always a principal part of effective meditation. Actually there is no thought without feeling behind it. There is no life without feeling behind it, and no meditation.
A typical example is the morning prayer some people use. Addressing the Creative Force field that creates and maintains the world, you pray, “Through the rays of the sun, through the waves of the air, through the all-pervading life in space — purify and revivify me…” If, while saying this, you ,just see a moderately warm ball the size of the sun as you see it from here, you really don’t “meditate”. But if your own creative force rushes into the center of the sun and helps create a huge flaming body, so hot it nearly burns you (though in the non-physical force field heat does not really burn you, but your vivid imagination, sustained by physical experience may make you feel slightly burned) — then you know you are meditating and so effectively that may stretch your consciousness beyond what we have usually called mind. Another sign is that if you meditate on or deeply think about a person who interests you, you may suddenly discover in your mind a concept of this person entirely different from what you have had. What is this? It may be the concept that person has of himself. You may have entered his mind. And it is at first a deflating experience for it shows you what a fool you have been before, thinking that what you thought or felt was reality, and the only one.
This concept that a person has of himself. and which you may share, through meditation, is still. not all there is. Behind and in a sense inside that person is a force field that science is rediscovering today, a non-physical and autonomous system that created and now maintains him, and through meditation you may even be able to reach some of that and be very helpful to your friend, though it is doubtful he will at first accept your “help” and you better be careful and try and test again and again before you maybe relatively sure you have a good thing.
Eventually, through meditation, you may be able to transcend what we have so far termed “mind” and this is the meaning of “transcendental meditation”. Today science realizes that there is a “non-physical” force field, but this non-physical reality is again divided into numberless stages of fineness. It isn’t really a matter of physical or non-physical. All of life is a vast system of force fields of finer and finer structure. “Non-physical” simply means that most people cannot observe this part of the system with their eyes or physical instruments. However, more and more electronic instruments can observe more and more “non-physical” systems. Through meditation some have penetrated deeper into these worlds than any instrument so far devised.
Meditation may develop to be not only cognitive but creative. What is at first imagination may be turned into reality or into non-physical or even physical systems. Was this the way the whole world was once created and is being maintained? Find out! Practice meditation until you know!
Meditation ought to be the very foundation of education, rather than the present copying of past follies. The ancient Yoga schools feel that this education should start at age 8 to have a chance of success. The perhaps equally ancient sufis claim you should start before you are born. Future civilizations may do so, with results we can hardly imagine. Meanwhile you may begin any time and, and if persistent, go far.
Harvard, MIT, Yale and our huge mega-universities in New York and California, the Humanistic Psychiatrists and other large organizations are today investigating deeply the methods, problems and possible results of meditation, or mind-heart training. This does not exclude individual efforts. On the contrary, the latter may be as important or more important. A few individuals have gone far beyond the institutional methods and results so far offered and all the latter are really due to outstanding individual performances that have been registered and catalogued by the large institutions. If a person prefers to go along this path without any institutional contact he is in good company and should proceed.