INVISIBLE REPERCUSSION IN LIFE
One of the great sources of vitality in the work lies in the emphasis on the variant potentialities of the greater whole or the social scheme of all reality. A student is never permitted to forget for long a key fact that all things are related to all other things in activity, substance and form. This is a difficulty for new aspirants because at first the work will seem to be scattered, and to center attention on things that have no simple or possible importance in association with each other, but all this is training in the recognition of those innumerable rushing torrents of tendencies in every direction of potentialities by which the destiny of self is shaped to the desire of the self for itself and not merely to the automatically perpetuated or accidental situation of the self in the great social composite.
The invisible repercussion that often largely shapes the fate of that individual who has not taken spiritual control of his own being is admirably illustrated by an editorial in one of the papers in New York City of a trying summer entitled the Anatomy of the Hot Spell and starting rather strikingly, "It may sound strange to say that half a hundred people in New York City have just been killed by a hurricane in Florida, yet that is literal truth. A glance at the weather maps, of the last few days, makes it clear that the disturbance in the south Atlantic was directly responsible for the hot wave hereabouts, and the fifty or more deaths traced to the heat." The technical details following are of no interest now but the principle is of the greatest importance because in launching our consciously-directed destiny on some way of going we may choose we must be very certain that there is not a repercussion from unanticipated influences to spoil our endeavor.
As the aspirant makes a new choice he takes care that his new undertaking will not collide with some other interest, for all things old and new are related.
DESTINY IS TIMELESS
Another great source of vitality in the work is found in our disinclination to hurry and disturb processes that once have gained some measure of shooting the rapids on some rushing torrent of tendency. The static or stagnant is never tolerated in any phase of our efforts together since the active and dynamic is regarded as interesting rather than as good or as bad and on the whole we encourage things to reveal the end of the momentum in them before judgment. If really there is one lesson we can learn from history in general and from what measure of experience our intensified classes have provided us in particular, it is that destiny is timeless and that whatever seems barren is in truth pregnant and only awaiting the appointed time. We strain to launch what we launch with the greatest participation in its potentialities and to do the best we can in everything we do. Our wish is not only to give to natural forces or to the great social whole itself the task of administering our self-chosen destinies but to give as far as possible to all things the chance to reveal their own destinies and thus prepare to co-operate with society on its own account and to help our own end goals in a larger dimension through a better social sense.
These particular comments were occasioned by a good book on the work of one of the greatest if still one of the most obscure of all scientists of major rank, Gregor Mendel. Here was a factor being brought to pregnant significance by the social scheme, but there was a lack of realization of the importance of what the man was doing and as a result the greatest advance in biological knowledge was made when an earnest world of biologists was engrossed in a fight with religion and knew nothing of it. Meanwhile the contribution was by a churchman.
All undertakings have value, and as long as their momentum lasts should be pursued. At the proper time their destiny will be fulfilled.
THE VITALITY IN DETACHMENT
In order to permit the new to germinate, and thus to enable our destiny to be a controlled destiny, we must culture a vitality that prevails in detachment. To the vitality born in a detachment the work gives almost primary attention. Most vitality, whether of a group or an individual, is a borrowed vitality and so a price of whatever may be gained from it is a definite bondage to its source. Thus in life we often fall down and worship the Satan of anything we desire and gain that thing by doing so. The man who would have great wealth is able to achieve it if he will make the wealth his god and give real prime concern to it by sleeping and eating only to serve it, straining and striving toward its welfare and working or playing only in a glory of its possession or lust for its possession. We give vitality to an interest in which we can lose ourselves whole-souledly, and the losing of self in a thing is an effective and sure technique for its gaining. But this is not spiritual. It is playing traitor to the real self.
Individuality per se is new in each environment in which it makes itself known and there is new because detached in terms of an enslavement to things for their possession. Things of themselves are of no value except in the significance of their reality, which significance in effect is the detachment of them from their superficial real state for the support of which all relationships are bondage. Things after all exist to serve their possessor, not the reverse, and yet the whole modern world exhibits a society in which the average person is a hopeless slave to things. Detachment is the way to satisfaction that is eternal because a satisfaction in spirit rather than ephemeral fact or transient circumstance. Detachment is a higher reality.
The aspirant puts no value in things, but only in the significance of things, and thus frees himself to appreciate them in spirit rather than in fact.
DETACHMENT AS A HIGHER REALITY
There is vitality in detachment, not from the fact of an essential separation from things but in an actuality of that existence apart from things, which is signature of existence per se. Life that is bondage is shown by its dependence on things and any degree or sort of separation from them would be annihilation. But when it becomes a practical achievement for a seeker to separate himself from things and yet continue to be in the warmth of his own personality, there then is the beginning of freedom in this individual life. It is this that is meant by Jesus in his demand that all things be surrendered as the way to follow him or to be free or to be saved. We cannot surrender what we need for the sustainment of existence and therefore we do not begin to free ourselves by destroying our sustainment. Instead, we love it and exalt it and extricate ourselves from any dependence by a new idea of it and our relationship with the spiritual instead of literal fact. Detachment is a higher reality not marked by physical separation.
Therefore the work stresses strongly the necessity of an increased rather than lessened association with the circumstances that mark our individual lives, whatever these may be. Distinctions cease to have importance in terms of the world and take on a significance or develop into a reality in terms of the vitality of the new or detached personality. The detachment is not a matter of separation from something tangible, but is separation from bondage to it by a new capacity to derive vitality to a greater degree from an idea than from the sensual contacts by which every nonregenerate man is stimulated to action or brought to a point of realization of his selfhood. Detachment can be gained only by a deepening and broadening of life contacts.
The aspirant does not separate himself from material things but by deriving vitality from the idea of things knows his own identity apart from things.
THE VITALITY IN IDEAS
There are many who come into the group and fail to catch the underlying warmth and spiritual strength of its fellowship because it will seem wholly intellectual or academic on the surface of things. This is due to the fact that the vitality of the work actually is taken from idea and never but incidentally drawn from emotional procedure that would simply confirm a seeker in his own bondage. We do not let him make a transfer of masters and put himself into bondage to us as a group. Many seekers are afraid of ideas, but only because of failure to get acquainted with them as such. Most supposed ideas are sensual images in the mind, and in consequence of this we use a different term for genuine ideas and call them concepts. A concept, or genuine idea per se, is an original focus of being and therefore a center of vitality. Thus a man who has a given concept will act according to it and not primarily in accordance with his conditioning. If suddenly he is brought face to face with what he thinks to be a bear but what actually is a horse perhaps cloaked in darkness he will act according to his experience pattern of bears rather than of horses. The concept gives the key to action and is a real source of vitality and this is so very true that the whole science of New Thought has risen on the possibility of changing the basic order of things by changing the concepts.
It may be objected that there is no literal or actual or tangible vitality in ideas as such, or that they merely release energy or unlock resources. Here we lose ourselves in words. Man's senses and the whole mechanics of muscular stimulation and the like do little more than that, but the question of the source of the energy is not to be answered in terms of mechanism. What are energy and vitality?
The man who lives by concepts rather than by ideas has the power to change his life, for concepts are a focus of being that leads to appropriate action.
ORGANISM VS MECHANISM
A truly great source of vitality in the work is found in the fact that we never lose sight of the real nature of man, remembering always that he is his personality and not his body or its acquired nature and conditioned pattern. We remember besides that personality is an organism or living whole and not a mechanism through which other and greater life such as ego or spirit expresses itself. The reality of what we are personally is basic in our thinking because in this way we are able to conceive of ourselves as alive and as responsible. If there is a greater reality in us than the reality of that which knows, is conscious and holds and responds to ideas, then we are hopelessly a bound or slave part of the evolutionary scheme. We do not deny inner divinity in our make-up but know ourselves as apart from what is to be gained personally as we elect to participate in its potentiality. An organism has basic parts but it cannot be said to be any one such part pre-eminently. A mechanism is something separated in the world or in objective reality from whatever it may be that utilizes it, and it can be conceived of as parts or little mechanisms making up the whole. A true organism cannot be robbed of its completeness, with parts seen as little organisms. Personality or man himself is whole as an organism and it is to this organic wholeness of the real individuality that the group and its materials give a constant and persistent emphasis.
Therefore we cannot repudiate any part of our experience or with safety seek to cancel the reality of any associations we might have with other persons, things or our environment in general. First of all lessons learned in genuine occultism is the need to preserve or strengthen all self-integrity. Man divided against himself is lost.
Man is not a mechanism but an organism or a living whole, and to preserve this self-integrity he accepts all his experience and all his relationships.
PRESERVING SELFHOOD'S INTEGRITY
To help the seeker in avoiding both the divided self and the consequently inevitable loss of selfhood, the work stresses memory in a way quite different from that of conventional life. Memory must be seen by the occultist as more than a mere retention of the pictures of the experience of self and hence more than a passive and unreliable phase of consciousness. Actually memory is a creative faculty and is no different from imagination in its structure and operation. Memory is the term for identifying the simple recall of what has happened and been delivered to a past, whereas imagination is properly of the present and future, but the memory is no less creative than imagination or the dream faculty because whatever is recalled is recreated and may be as far removed from literal facts as imagination. This function that is known as memory is actually the recall of a relationship of self or a facet of experience in the limits of its significance as experience. Thus it follows that self in its own self-sustainment is most certainly to be touched through the memory. Conventional life trains men to remember exactly by reproducing the facts and in this thrusts humanity into bondage to objects as such. Memory, which properly is functioning to the benefit of the self, will recall things in the light of the progression in experience or realization. The effect is a repetition or recovery of the touch or contact with such things. They serve the self rather than the reverse, and the whole substantiation of selfhood is aided by a reordering and re-establishment of the memory content.
The facts of past events are never twisted or perverted. Rather their significance is enlarged and the self achieves a point of view of itself unhampered by the intricacies of present situation.
To preserve his integrity the aspirant uses memory as a creative tool, and frequently reorders the content of his memory in the light of ever-widening implication.
SELF-UNIFICATION IN MEMORY
At any present moment the self, to gain perspective on a situation, must separate itself into a complex of conditioned patterns or vehicles or natures and thus make its judgment by an interaction of idea and impulse, emotion and experience-tendency or the like. Hence it happens that when life lies wholly in the present the individual is led progressively into bondage to things because they serve to stir up his habit grooves, awaken his desires or sense-impulse, substantiate a thought or yield reality to an idea. The present moment is the field of conscious being or existence, but in this present man finds himself in a center of self and surrendered by time to a space bondage that is the root of all experience but that holds a selfhood to its experience irrevocably. Escape from the locking of self to its present is found not in the denial of present reality in a mode of negation but in real substantiation of the present reality through an expansion of personal enhancements of the future or past or both.
The most usual method is an enhancement of the future or a culture of ideals and expectations, with the optimistic outlook that puts the things of the present into perspective as symbols of what the future promises and has delivered or rejected in whole or part. This method however merely raises the level of the bondage. Man is limited by his capacity for visualization. There is then no direct co-operation with race experience and ordering of the individual by society or even shaping of experience by superior patterns of human ideal. A reference to the past is to things that have been modified not only by self but by the situations in which other-self operates. Memory is a realization of self as self has unified itself in a social ordering.
Memory provides a better key to self-unification than expectation, for whereas expectation is individual memory deals with the social self.
MEMORY IS REINCARNATION
Memory becomes the most important element in occult work once the seeker has begun to gain any real control over himself. The recollection of things is not only the certification of experience and the convenient means of escape from the predicament of any present instant of experience but is the realization of things as primarily real in the wholeness or eternality of selfhood. Plato attributes knowing in general to recollection and this is the basis of an occult doctrine of survival of personality through reincarnation or the idea that soul returns here for life after life and that personality is a remembrance of past lives in the form of patterns of selfhood. Seekers are often led in consequence to attempt the recollection of their previous lives on the earth and the effort constitutes a means for the development of memory to its real powers because it demands making real the self that is unreal to the present moment but that builds both the present and a remembered past into a wholeness of eternal selfhood.
Human culture as language, tradition and all history has its beginnings in a process of this sort because it is as men are able to live into whatever has gone before that they gain the power for any living through that which confronts them at any special moment of conscious life. In seeking to remember former lives the occultist makes other and much greater demands on himself because there are no obscure identities of the past that have survived into the present, unless the obscurity of the past is lifted to significance by the light it throws on present identity. Hence an effort of substantiating past identity of surviving worth and vitality in a present selfhood cannot but bring out unsuspected aspects of immortality in the present selfhood.
By pursuing a more remote memory the aspirant enhances his perspective on immortality and is better ready for present confrontations.
MEMORY IS IMMORTALITY
Success in remembering a past life is a success in finding such a past life immortal or a success in living a life now that a future age will be compelled to remember is a success in endowing life with immortality. Perhaps the greatest single source of vitality for the group as a whole is the demand that the students live significantly or make each and every day of their lives so that at least some one feature of that day will be remembered by the race itself. Memory is immortality because memory is the survival of elements of being in the fixed reference of significance. A rock is immortal in one sense but a rock as such has no memory and as such takes no place in memory. A rock that achieves significance both is remembered and remembers, thus if anyone objects that material rocks cannot remember it is because of a lack of fluid understanding of words and ideas. Memory not only is the delivery to a mind of a familiar image but is the stimulation that a habit-pattern exhibits in a muscle or the performance that will follow training in animals or the like. In a rock made significant this is the familiar features of the rock or the inscription on it or whatever takes its place in the racial memory or enduring scheme of things as it loses itself in a symbolical significance it inspires.
The way to living a life that will compel memory of this eternal or immortal sort is the development of elements of immortality in the recollection of even the most trivial event of the past and the refusal to permit anything that ever has disclosed even a shred of experience in the eternity-groping of selfhood to slip away from any immediate orientation it may be contributing to the present moments that may help the self become immortal in its own integrity.
To live memorably is the goal of the aspirant, and he learns to recollect and store the elements of immortality from even the most fragmentary of his experiences.
EXPECTATION IS IMMORTALITY
The source of vitality in the work that is overlooked by many of the students is the avoidance not only of the infinite regress but of the infinite ingress, or that stagnation that places the salvation of the selfhood in some definite objective constant. And so the affirming of the power of memory that has characterized the letters of the preceding weeks is a proper emphasis only until the seeker takes a dying grasp of his link with the past and lives only in his past lives and becomes too introspective to be of any immediate use in his existing environment. The emphasis on memory was justified because we are prone to sacrifice the past and thus seek to forget everything but the things of recurring gratification, but with such emphasis must go some equivalent emphasis on the future. Thus it may be both rewarding and necessary to consider the power of expectation. This is a common emphasis in the New Thought field where for one who lives in his past an even dozen or more dwell vaporously in the vagaries of hope.
Expectation is not hope however though there may be more than a proper quantity of hope in its chemistry. Expectation is that compelling of events to conformity with the idea that marks mastery in man. Expectation is a sustainment of a purer potentiality than is to be found cultured by the infinite progress of mere existence. It may be futile and helpless in its superficial phases but in the flush of a divine potency inherent in the power to expect this expectation is the active divinity or creative power in man. The individual as only the creature of his contributory circumstances is in no wise creative, but in the constancy of his expectation he dwells on a higher plane and so gains an immortality of the order and grade of this expectation.
Important along with memory as a tool of realization is the creative power of expectation, which when directed toward spiritual eventuations commands events.
THE INFINITE REGRESS
After all the quest of individuality is not for life but for reality, and even life itself will be surrendered for reality. A questing along the lines of an infinite regress is a mark of a failure to grasp reality and so we oppose the infinite regress in any form and demand a reality here and now. The reaching out to the divine by the agency of a hieratic arrangement makes divinity recessive, and we will not have it. If the student must find a spiritual teacher to make an indirect touch with some invisible master who in turn makes contact in more indirect fashion with perhaps a Manu, and in all of this no sureness that God or the ultimate is approached appreciably, reality slips away traitorously. If every student is to be what he is to be in the tomorrows of existence reality again is lost in the never-never lands, and so today always with us and alone with us becomes increasingly and horribly an empty disappointment. If what the student gains is never more than the promise or the symbol of reality, he is caught in an infinite regress of progress that is only drifting and abject surrender. Reality is not sought in the infinite but is lost in the infinite. A divine concept necessarily is made infinite, but the divinity seems so only to whatever lies outside itself. Caught up into the intimacy of the love of God, no man is conscious of infinity. Everything becomes a reality without existence in time or space. It is here and now.
The infinite regress exists not only in man's quests for the ungrasped reality he acknowledges outside himself. It also finds its destructive place in that which he accepts as real but inwardly is apt to distrust. In his fear he pours himself into this, just as the average individual suspecting a lie begs for its constant repetition.
Expectation can never be the hopeful pursuit of an unpossessed reality. Reality is everything here and now, and any further reality will manifest from this base.
THE INFINITE IS FINITE
There is no delusion as damaging to the spiritual growth of the seeker as the idea that infinity is something to be sought, and somehow to be gained. There should be no difficulty in realizing the nature of infinity as an academic exercise of the mind. But it ought to be obvious, and seemingly it is not, that infinity possessed cannot be conscious of itself. Infinity is a concept of finite mind, to get at something that it is not, and finiteness is an essential for realization of infinity even if this seems an inconsistency. God is given the form and nature of man when He is thought to be aware of infinity. Man in seeking infinity gains it but only as a regress or some ingress or progress or other regression from himself. Fear is infinite, just as love is finite. Hate is infinite, as is a lie or a surrender of a soul to the immoral or the base, but divinity is finite and definitely real. Finite means limited and infinite a real lack of delimitation. The utterly unlimited is wholly unknown, but the wholly defined is absolutely known. God was finite to Jesus as his Father. Divinity is finite to the student who knows it through a spiritual bounding or the initiatory limiting of his being. Paul calls himself the slave of an immortal master, and in this bondservantship becomes likewise the real or immortal personality. Reality is finite, never infinitely gained. The quest for the real is really the quest for the finite absolute.
The infinite regress, or uncertain pouring of being into the similitude of the real, is a wastage of self for which there is no excuse. The expectations of life must be more than hope or a leaning on the exterior. The expectation that is real is strengthened in its disappointments because it has escaped an underobjectification.
The infinite can have no reality because it cannot be known. The finite however, and so divinity, can be known and so become absolutely real.
PLAYING THE GAME
One source of vitality in the work that we overlook very often is the deeper training we give each other in playing the game or building to a genuine fellowship. This particular phase of our working together is often overlooked because it remains and must remain an inner or subjective reality. Any outward or surface stressing of the duty owed to a group in which we share consciousness is apt to do much more harm than good for the reason that this appeal is to surface loyalties and therefore almost inevitably is a call to us to surrender or compromise our individuality. No group can prosper if its members or friends are called on to subtract from themselves as a prerequisite or a condition of their relationship with the group. Therefore we often lean over backwards in making no real effort to hold students who feel called to other paths of illumination, but as a result we hold to each other in the more absolute surety of noncompulsion.
Loyalty is a spiritual reality, and it is first of all a loyalty to one's own self. We cannot be loyal to anything when it is at the cost of the surrender of a prior loyalty, and therefore we must respect the individuality of everybody who throws in his lot with such a group as ours. Often I am called on to intervene with a measure of leadership or assumption of authority when the appeal is only a desire for strengthening the notions of one seeker over those of his fellows. Ideas are not to be imposed on the group, but to be contributed, and a sole test of their worth to our common and deeper fellowship is an appeal of some enduring sort. Ideas must have free expression even under superficial conditions that momentarily seem destructive. Sabian power is not in avoiding mistakes but in capitalizing on them.
Loyalty to the self demands adoption of ideas only if they are acceptable to the self, and respect for one's associates assures them the same prerogative.
PERSONALITY AS LEAVEN
None of us like to meet tawdry cheapness but none of us, no matter what our tastes and individual likenesses may be, are caught for long by the tinsel of life. Life at no point is wholly free of a root ugliness and none of us are lovely when found too close to nature or at moments of biological necessity or temperamental poverty, and by this same token life at no point is wholly divorced from the beautiful and none of us but do not warm to charm when we are touched closely or deeply. It is no great pleasure to me to see a class or an individual make some unnecessary detour on the path to truth, but I understand above all else that personality must create its own substance and that whatever is accepted from me over and beyond matters that validate and order the basic experiences of the students is that which the students sooner or later actually will abandon in the process of gaining experience of their own. An occult group cannot exist if it curtails this opportunity for the individual to gain his own essential experience in his own way and own time, and for and by himself.
What the group does for us is to give us opportunity for vicarious experience in realms far greater than those afforded by life in ordinary channels. But does this not open the group to every sort of digression and fruitless by-path exploration? Yes, if there is no real vitality in the group or if the fellowship is of the sort wherein there is the I-won't-play-then spirit. Our purpose in the fellowship of a body such as this is to give and not to get or to gain expression that is a greater experience and a ground for higher growth. Personality is leaven, and in a group of power the ones with the genuine development of personality are those who help the group upward.
Every participant adds the influence of his personality to the fellowship, and the group is lifted by those whose personality is steady in the higher way.
INSPIRATION AS RECTIFICATION
There is a comfortable peace within whenever we are justified in recognizing our understanding and attitude as superior to an opposing and differing point of view, and we have to be careful not to make a vice out of this feeling by bending our principal effort toward a maneuvering of every situation into its production. Whenever there is a justified self-superiority in a spiritual fellowship there is also a decided responsibility or a challenge to leaven the situation and inspire the point of view of others so that our superiority disappears and the fellowship is reconstituted on a higher level. Actually what we term superiority is a visualization of possible service. There is no genuine superiority that wants to continue to be superior since the mere desire to continue in such an actual personal separation from the ones from whom we diverge is itself the substance of a distinct inferiority. When personality is defective it seeks salvation by protecting its individuality in difference. When it is perfect it seeks instead to share with all and to embrace all in its own fullness.
Growth upward and not overlordship downward is the foundation of a true spiritual fellowship and the vitality of our group is largely founded in the fact that we never permit ourselves to overlook this for long. Superiority is not separation but an inspiration such as always straightens or relieves situations that may have gone astray from their genuine objective. We do not have to participate foolishly in useless side issues, but neither do we have to feel superior and reveal the fact of our deficiencies by a childish refusal to play. A personality that is real is forever inspiring, and the more real it is the more definitely does its presence help shape and lift the group.
The higher one's spiritual attainment, the greater is his challenge to share it with others and to inspire them with the joy of participating with him.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE SAINTS
The word saint is objectionable to many minds because it is suggestive of sanctimoniousness, and if there is anything at all of universal detestation it certainly is sanctimoniousness. However, it originally was no more than the name accepted for themselves by aspirants drawn into the primitive church and is equivalent to the label we employ in our seeking when we identify ourselves as Sabian. From the beginning I have been distressed at the use of Sabian as a noun, since I have wanted to be sure on the one hand that we would not fall into a pattern that has characterized every little self-sufficient group, and on the other that we would not lose sight of our major goal and become satisfied with a mere labeling of our efforts. Nonetheless if Sabian is bound to take on a special meaning in human character and so point to an achievement in personality for each member of our work, and thus give the term in a perspective of future years the wealth of deep suggestiveness such as saint came to have, all power to its use among us! Our fellowship takes on spiritual reality as we become able to find in all of us to some extent, and many of us in highest degree, some quality of character that is the result of our effort together and that is akin in spirit to the saintly living of the early church.
Sanctimoniousness is not necessarily insincere, but just as long as it remains an emphasis as it always is on purely outward or surface appearances in character values it eventually is dangerous because destructive to the inner stirring of character. If we grew enamored of our happy situation as Sabian aspirants and forgot what this designation really means in terms of fellowship, it is better that the word be forgotten. To be truly Sabian is to be true to the idea.
The aspirant recognizes in himself and his fellows those qualities of character that have been developed in the enveloping ambiance of the fellowship they share.
THE WAY OF MEDITATION
A source of vitality in the work that had received scant consideration in earliest Sabian materials is the pattern set for meditation and the inner life of the student. It is obvious that we are almost wholly mystical in temperament as a group, but because there is so unbalanced a leaning on the one hand toward an otherworldliness and because on the other so many of our companions have come to us with an acquired technique of spiritual exercises, it certainly has appeared a best of policies to give initial energies to the task of anchoring the occult in day-by-day life on a basis of sane and normal living. When the Ibn Gabirol lessons were used as foundational for the entire work, before the necessity of academic research cancelled the lecture tours, the matter of meditation was covered thoroughly and often. Later, the lessons in Sabian Psychology had covered the basic healing methods and drilled the students again in this matter in greater detail as well as on the pattern more squared to the needs of modern life than that of a medieval or wholly crystallized society from which the older practices came. Mysticism has been in process of a marked rebirth, and this we had not overlooked, but there were matters of greater urgency.
The way of meditation in Sabian realizations is never to be seen as otherworldly. Before meditation as such can be given what proper emphasis it should have, the ideal of separation from the world must be understood in constructive or truly effective fashion. There is a separation from the world for every initiate, but it is a drawing apart from bondage to the world and not a repudiation of the substance of the world. For better or worse we are citizens of this world, but it is our spiritual privilege to carry our citizenship on any level.
The aspirant, with his eyes on the stars, keeps his feet on the ground by linking his spiritual and material worlds through meditation.
MEDITATION AS CITIZENSHIP
The weakness in the average attempt at meditation is because meditation is thought to be a means to an end rather than an end in itself. To meditate for a purpose, whatever that purpose may seem to be, is not to meditate at all. Let me make this clear. There is no danger to the wholeness of self that is greater than an unorganized dissociation of selfhood for the reason that each such dissociation is bound necessarily to result in some attachment of the dissociated part or parts of the being, in conformity to cosmic law that nothing of the nature of consciousness exist in isolation or to itself alone, and attachments that are not regulated by the immediate actuality of self in some fashion are promptly dictated by conditioning factors of environment ever operative when the basic cohesion of individuality is relaxed or repudiated. This is immediate acceptance of further bondage to a life and force exterior to self. The process may be seen in a host of unfortunate souls who have dabbled in the occult, or who have played with the spiritual powers of New Thought. Their lives are pitiful testimony to the gradually increasing incrustation of their expression of soul in a crystallization of their errant notions. They are slowly confirmed in their ideas of persecution at the hands of life and of an increasing misunderstanding at the hands of others. They may feel themselves increasingly tested from on high, but in purest delusion.
There is not and cannot be anything actually ulterior in real spiritual work, and it is doubly unfortunate that the exigency of our vernacular language makes it necessary to express our truly divine realizations in terms of ends. Divinity merely is, and meditation is a functioning momentarily on divine levels in this divine citizenship.
The aspirant dwells in quietness of spirit for a time in meditation, asking nothing, and knows the presence of the divine as revealed to him.
MEDITATION IS REALIZATION
The difficulty underlying an otherworldliness of the medieval mystic, and of every modern occult student who fails to realize the nature of the powers with which he is dabbling, is that it depends on a contrast with a world of everyday and that to substantiate inward reality he has to repudiate the worth of his outer place in the scheme of things. Nothing eternal is built on a negation. The ingredients of immortality are gathered up in the word love, which is without time or space limitations. Immortality does not progress since how otherwise could it be immortality? And likewise there is no location that determines immortality to be such. Meditation is realization of this here-and-now character of the eternal and universal, and there must be an absolute lack of contrast or comparison with anything other than an inner state of utter completeness that is beyond all contrast. Within medieval times the mystics attained to this state of consciousness, but despite their methods and therefore only infrequently. There may be grades of appreciation of the divine, but any sense of such a grade is a cancellation of the meditation by an intrusion of outer contrast.
Meditation does not exclude life or experience. Rather it hallows and sanctifies all outer things. Meditation in nature and form is therefore never an escape from life and its problems but truly an enhancement of every experience and relationship. Meditation must always be remembered to be a reaching out to the consciousness of God, and there cannot be a distinction of meditation and meditation because when in a state of meditation all things other than divinity are lifted into divinity and there found immortally perfect. The testimonial of the world is to unity and in unity there is no division.
Meditation is the immediate realization of the divine presence, and through it all experience as well as all relationships are lifted into its perfection.
MEDITATION IS UNITY IN CONTRAST
Our occult and New Thought work is greatly hampered by a lifting of method as such to a place of essential importance. No one method of meditation has particular advantage over any other, at least as far as actual meditation is the result of the method, for the obvious reason that meditation itself is unifying and in the unity the way is at one with every other way. The poet may prefer to stroll in the autumnal woods, Grandma may cling to her daily reading of the Bible, a New Thought student or a devout Brahmin may intone set phrases or sentiments, and a scientifically-minded occultist may look to a ritual or magical practice for the result, but the result if it is gained is exactly the same in each instance or a realization of divinity that must of necessity be a sense of the unity in and through all. The trouble lies not in the method of procedure for coaxing the desired consciousness into being, but in the attaining to such a state of being instead of erecting a special idea to a state of dominance in the mind.
Meditation is not excluding ideas and sensation from the being but rather is the establishment of a substratum in consciousness that will be apparent under and through every experience. There is a time when the overflow of the heart will call to the self to enjoy the status of self-immolation in eternal unity and such is erroneously understood to be meditation per se, but every form of enjoyment is of an essentially ulterior mood in self, and rather than enjoyment this high touch with source is the recentering of the being in a moment of outer contrast with its environment to make possible the judgment or renewed appreciation of the divine ordering or unity in all things everywhere.
Through meditation the aspirant develops a sense of the underlying divine order and this becomes increasingly more apparent to him as sustaining all of his affairs.
MEDITATION AS A DISCIPLINE
The most dangerous of all words in the vocabulary of the superficial dabbler in the occult is probably development, because the seeker after such a development for the sake of the fruits of this developed status of being is wholly ulterior and selfish no matter what degree of service to humanity he might promise himself. This again I must make very clear. In the same way that meditation is meditation, so spiritual service is spiritual service. Every widow's mite is altogether as substantial spiritually and as great a giving as some rich man's endowment of a great cathedral. The spirit and not what serves to convey the spirit is what counts. We may say to ourselves that we would like to do some greater work than that but the thing at hand can be as great if as greatly done, and the entrance of the comparative or contrasting idea is the intrusion of the selfishness of this world no matter how disguised. The Sabian work insists that we are as prepared now for spiritual service as we ever will be, and that the call for service is to dedicate ourselves and give of ourselves as we are.
But someone will object immediately that the whole group as it is separated and graded in neophyte, acolyte and legate sections is a denial of this. Superficially the criticism is just, but actual experience shows the student that the drill and discipline of the work in graded sections is merely and as often stated a scaffolding for the uncertain mind and a life yet held in bondage to the ulterior and competitive notions of the everyday world. The mystic of long ago threw the world aside and thereby destroyed himself. We embrace this world and do so by a translation of worldly ideas into immortal actuality or by meditation, which is a discipline not of us but of the world in us.
In meditation one brings his worldly affairs into the presence and there discovers and treasures the immortal reality of each one.
MEDITATION IS LOVE
Often the question is asked, what is the approved method of meditation in the Sabian discipline? The answer broadly is, whatever method you have built already into the fiber of yourself or whatever method has most successfully given you the experience of reality. And then to this is added a great principle of testing. If your usual way of meditation has served to draw you more closely to life, giving you the deeper understanding or sympathy in everyday relationships among your fellows and making you more vitally a part of the complexes and struggles in which you find yourself a part, you unquestionably in spirit and truth have discovered a true meditation. But if conversely you find your satisfaction only in that invisible and remote reaching of your own consciousness, and progressively feel yourself detached from your fellows, you have fallen into the trap of pure subjective and ulterior self-pandering that leads inevitably to annihilation when not checked. To those to whom all this is too abstract it is helpful to be told that any loss of self in pure appreciation is the commonest form of real meditation even if this does not seem at all spiritual.
But it is far more helpful to realize that meditation is love, and that love is sharing in the reaches of reality. Anyone who without calculation and contemplation of the sure rewards that will be his is impelled by some richness of his heart to contemplate some ill-understood and struggling fellow until he feels the very outflowing of his own appreciation into the emptiness of the other life is achieving the full promise of meditation in the greatest of all human ecstasies. And whoever can thus support and sustain some inanimate cause or need, as in the Sabian monitor work, is meditating in the highest sense.
Meditation leads to a loss of solipsistic self in a spontaneous outflow of self in compassion and understanding to fill the lack of another.
MEDITATION IS INTUITION
For those who protest that meditation is an actual doing of something it is necessary to remark that meditation, like all spiritual actuality, must be accompanied by activity of a tangible sort in order to be known or ever effective but whatever accompanies the meditation is not the meditation. In the Sabian work the student seeking group activity beyond a certain point is given a pack of playing cards and taught how to recognize the accompaniment of Tarot symbols in what flashes of intuition or unconscious meditation he may wish to identify and apply in conscious realms. These cards nevertheless are not truly developing intuition although they are the easiest way to awaken an interest in an intuition that has been present and active all the time in the consciousness of anyone. The difficulty with intuition is not its lack but the difficulty of its correct interpretation. All genuine occult work provides a mechanism for increasing the accompaniments of intuition, and such is not so much a creation as it is an expansion of experience through a practice in substantiating the inner flashes.
Intuition is knowing without agency of knowing and never a knowing by higher agency. Our knowing faculties through the training of modern life are hopelessly conditioned into a bondage to agency per se. We commonly wish to know doubly, that is, tentatively always until we can prove. We are usually unsure in nearly everything. In meditation by contrast we can know with an initial absolute surety and as the way to this we employ meditation at an early stage of our awakening to spiritual things as a means of familiar acquaintance with God and all His most certain works. Consequently we meditate on all holy things or divine goodness and on immortal certainties of selfhood.
Through meditation on the divine the aspirant learns to trust and to interpret his intuition and thus to know directly and immediately and surely.
MEDITATION AND THE INNER LIFE
Immortal certainty is not the end but rather is the fact of meditation. Meditation in the inner life is high dedication in an essential outer expression of the true seeker. Students of occultism speak commonly and glibly of the inner voice they often expect to hear in the course of meditation, and we must understand early that a voice is merely imagery assisting the tangible expression of intuition as an articulation outwardly of meditative consciousness. For the usual or conventionally normal person the idea of an actual voice is a troublesome concept. For the psychic individual, or one in whom the working of the intuition gains its tangible attachment or accompaniment in the brain in the sensations of sense articulation, the voice or picture is the easiest mechanism but only because the senses are conditioned by a universe where inner and outer are usually mediated to each other sensually. The limitations of this condition make it difficult for psychic individuals to achieve dependable accuracy and thus Sabian method encourages the inner or purely mental articulation and prefers mastery of astrology or the Tarot to the much more simple development circle.
The Sabian aspirant is asked to lead the meditative life but not a detached or otherworldly one. His training is never into a development of intuition but into a recognition and accurate rendering of the intuition and therefore is first an encouragement to his plunging into human affairs, secondly the refinement of whatever talent may be possessed and thirdly the demand for a living interest in the whole panorama of a living and moving world through books and reports and an appreciable direct participation in events. His meditation is within the core of life and his intuition has channel in his accomplishment.
The accurate interpretation of intuition is never an end in itself but a sure vehicle for taking a more vital part in the living world of which the seeker is a member.
MEDITATION IS ORIENTATION
No matter how remote the known reality may be, whether a divine intuition in which there truly has been touch with God or a new flash of better perspective on some detail of worldly affairs, we will know through utilizing the stuff of real experience because it is only from our experience that we are conscious at all. Meditation is consequently not any sort of an escape from our ordinary knowing, but has to be rather a manipulation of the substance of our knowing so that we may know more surely. In this discussion we have seen that accuracy, surety and certainty are the desired results of meditation and not any adding to the range of speculation or to the horizon of the unknown or the baffling. Meditation is orientation or an ordering of knowing or a patterning of realization, and in whatever process adopted there has to be a constancy of return to the eternal core of selfhood.
The bondage of selfhood is not in the fact of bondage or in the inflexibility of relationships to outer life, but in some failure of the average individual to take advantage of his bondage. This is almost the cardinal principle of the Sabian work. We struggle and discipline ourselves in order to master environment and so do not seek to escape the necessity here in order to face it on a higher level and with less foundation. We realize that self never can escape self and that mastery, development and initiation begin with self. We put all present bondage to advantage in order to be fit to utilize the bondage that lies beyond and accompanies our progress. We know that struggle of this sort has to lead but once to victory to establish us as master of whatever predicament we may vitalize. Meditation therefore is not a way out but instead a way in. Grasping this we mount to mastery.
Through meditation the aspirant dwells at a higher level of understanding and he lifts all external bondage to be resolved at this higher level.
MEDITATION IS NOT REPRESSION
One great difficulty with our practice of meditation, by and large, is our persistence in conceiving ourselves under the necessity of being receptive to some superior actuation. The question immediately suggested is, receptivity to what? Since our knowing is of our experience it is what must speak to us through such experience and the part of wisdom for us is to utilize a higher within us as an agent of receptivity. But the highest component of man's make-up cannot be other than his will as of the very core of his inner urge or his individuality as such and at once the new question rises, how can the will of man be receptive or negative? Receptivity of will is not precisely negative but often is and truly should be most of the time what may well be labeled co-operative. God is known to man through the divine will and meditation properly is the process for bringing the human and individual will into rapport with God's active purpose.
Nobody will quarrel with this statement of the matter in any appreciable way, but all too many will assert that man's will cannot merge with God's will except by a surrender or in other words by a ceasing of the will to be will as the means supposed to facilitate the perfection of touch with the divine. Every effort at self-expression will be stifled by those who hold this point of view. Little wonder, after all, that meditation of this sort proves to be but a vicious undermining of the whole stability of the character. Meditation is not repression and is a broadening rather than narrowing of the being or a cohering of selfhood rather than a diffusion of self-realization. We learn to meditate as we learn to appreciate and strengthen our will.
Through dwelling in the divine the aspirant becomes aware of a cohering of the self and a strengthening of will until he knows that his will and God's will are one.
MEDITATION FOR SERVICE
From the letter on meditation as a discipline we may get a thought with which to round out the present consideration of meditation, for it may not yet be wholly clear to us that meditation is justifiable. If we are called on merely to give ourselves completely in any way that lies easily at hand and if the widow's mite has spiritual rank with the donor of a cathedral, we might conclude that it would be best for us to continue giving utterly with an abandon of that giving. What makes this impossible would seem, if it were not so very serious, rather flippant and humorous. The law that defeats the continued effort of simple sort is the law of monotony. Stagnation is the result of simple dogged persistence, and to the one persisting it is drudgery of the worst sort in time. What at first is a real giving at the end is mere response to conditioned impulse, or habit in which there rests no longer the slightest particle of the will or the genuine self.
To be alive is to grow. To grow is to be in a position in which yesterday's utterness of self is not quite today's trial, and it means that we are to struggle not only to give utterly but to learn what will extend us to this utter extent, and by what subordinate work of spirit through self we bring self to new and fresh points of whole-souled outpouring. Meditation is the self as taskmaster of this self and in this our meditation becomes a divine practice because God after all is divinity known to us in terms of an utter expenditure. We are to meditate not for the sake of the sweet repose of the spirit that we may gain inwardly through the process, but for the sake of that quickening by which we are led from spiritual service to greater efforts at spiritual service or more absolute utterness of living manifestation.
The overriding purpose of meditation is a quickening of self to do more and more in spiritual service in an ever-expanding effectiveness of association.