The Western Tradition
Momentum For The Future
Human consciousness does not remain the same, century after century. It evolves. And as it evolves, civilization, society, the sciences, and human culture change, too. They become more powerful, more enlightened.
The spiritual customs and practices of humanity are meant to evolve as well. In the West, we are in a formative stage. The growth which has occurred in civilization in the last five hundred years has been rapid and most encouraging. There are excellent signs that we are leaving the Dark Age of ignorance behind.
Our science is flourishing. The arts have made spectacular contributions. But above all, more and more individuals are training their minds and nurturing their God-given intelligence. There is an enormous momentum for future development, if we can tap it and harness it wisely.
But if we are going to tap this momentum for the future, we must add a rich esoteric tradition to the exoteric accomplishments we have already made. This cannot be done just by shopping among the existing esoteric traditions of the world, and taking the one which most appeals to us. We must develop our own tradition for spiritual growth and enlightenment. It must be a tradition which is suited for our culture, our time, and our needs.
Most of all, we must develop a tradition which will lead us into the future, not trap us in reliving the past.
To be meaningful, however, a tradition cannot be developed on the wishes and whims of those with the loudest voices. It must be based on intelligent discernment of the archetypal patterns which oversee and inspire the evolution of consciousness in our culture. We must strive to serve the same goals that the spiritual forces in the West are striving to serve.
These goals, the goals of the Western spiritual tradition, can be briefly stated as the following:
1. To make the God within our primary source of enlightenment, growth, and creativity. The God within, of course, is the Higher Self, the soul, the spirit. The label makes little difference. What is important is recognizing that the central source of life and all enlightened activity dwells within us, and can become our partner in living, if we are willing to be its partner in living.
There is no higher priority in the Western tradition than recognizing the Higher Self, the God within, as the gateway to all growth, enlightenment, and creative expression.
Finding this gateway should be the initial focus of all meditative work. Cultivating a stronger access to it should always remain our continuing theme. Intelligent humanity is now capable of making this connection – and benefiting from it.
2. To link the personality with the Higher Self, thereby producing a spiritualized individuality capable of responding to the forces and qualities of spirit. It is not acceptable any longer to abandon the personality and simply love God. We must recognize our responsibility to train and prepare the personality so it is capable of acting as a representative of God, not just a worshipper.
This means we must live as a personality dominated by spirit, liberated from the fads and illusions of mass consciousness. We must also see it as our duty to achieve and maintain an illumined mind and purified emotions.
3. To ground the life of spirit through the enlightened activities of the personality on the physical plane. It is no longer practical for spiritual aspirants to “escape to heaven.”
It is time, instead, to learn to bring heaven to earth and integrate the divine qualities of wisdom, love, and power into our daily self- expression. Even our meditations are to become active and practical. Meditation is to be seen as a tool for facilitating the integration of the higher and the lower, not an end in itself.
4. To learn and use the skills of devotion, understanding, and obedience to link the personality with all three of the major aspects of divine life: love, wisdom, and will.
In the past, most spiritual traditions have stressed training the personality to be responsive to one of the major aspects of divine life, ignoring the others.
Some taught devotion to divine love but ignored understanding and obedience. Others taught understanding of divine wisdom, but ignored the need for love and will. In the Western tradition, all three approaches to the life of God must be balanced.
5. To purify and illumine all aspects of the personality so they become agents of spiritual force.
When the emphasis of a spiritual tradition shifts from passively adoring God to actively participating in the life and work of God, greater emphasis must be put on our personality. We need to work to purify and prepare the subtle vehicles of the personality to carry and transmit spiritual force without major distortion. The purpose of this purification is not just to make us “feel good,” but rather to increase our effectiveness in translating the life of God into a constructive self- expression.
6. To cultivate the spiritual intuition, by linking an illumined mind with the wisdom of the soul.
One sign that a spiritual tradition has lost its momentum is the appearance of rigid dogma which dictates how people should think, feel, and act toward God. One of the basic tenets and goals of the Western tradition is that each individual must learn to discern truth and wisdom for themselves. This can be achieved by learning to directly contact the divine archetypes and ideals of life through the Higher Self. The objective it to develop our spiritual intuition and an illumined mind.
The spiritual intuition bears no resemblance at all to the psychic abilities of the personality. It is the sword of truth that cuts us free from materialistic blindness, self-deception, illusions, and dogma.
7. To nurture a constant awareness of the underlying goodwill and unity in the divine presence.
This constant awareness is something more than just a belief or a hope. It is an ongoing realization of the fact that we all have our spiritual roots in the one life of God -the One in Whom we live and move and have our being. The ability to commune with the presence of God, through our dealings with all others, is a key factor in establishing the kingdom of heaven on earth.
8. To recognize that it is our duty and privilege to serve the purpose of the Higher Self, our immortal soul.
Life is not a game which is played in competition with one another. We have been designed to fulfill a certain purpose, and it is both our duty and our privilege to work to fulfill it. This purpose is to integrate divine life into our conscious thoughts, attitudes, and activities, thereby becoming an agent of divine force and a participant in the work of humanity.
9. To become consciously aware of the reality of the Inner Masters, their plan for the evolution of humanity and civilization, and to assist in implementing it.
Masters are the group of enlightened beings which guides and inspires the
development of human civilization and consciousness. They incorporate that
portion of the divine plan which specifically pertains to humanity and
civilization. As part of our effort to cooperate intelligently with the plan of
God, therefore, it is important to learn to participate in the work of the
10. To become consciously aware of the spiritual groups the Higher Self is part of and to learn how we can contribute to the work of these groups.
This is the active mode of fellowship. True fellowship is a reality to the Higher Self, the fabric of its relationship with specific spiritual groups. We can best serve the ideal of fellowship on the personality level by learning to contact the spiritual light of the groups our Higher Self belongs to. Then we can transmit this light it into the world around us through the work we do in meditation and in daily life.
The work of reaching these ten goals is the momentum of the Western tradition.
What The Future Holds
The benefits of the Western tradition are available to any individual who adopts the practices of Active Meditation. This would include using these techniques to achieve a greater contact with the Higher Self and the other goals of spiritual growth. They do not come instantly, nor if we fail to make the effort. But if we are willing to work toward these goals constructively and with dedication, we will gradually attain them.
The same is true for society as a whole. As large numbers of individuals embrace these traditions and work with them, our science, religion, education, arts, and civilization will be enriched. Mass consciousness will be purified, at least to some degree.
Over a long period of time, remarkable changes may well occur. But it must be understood from the outset that there are no miracle cures for society.
It requires hundreds of years to change the patterns of thought and attitudes in society.
Nevertheless, once the work of a new tradition is set in motion, the process of change will pick up momentum, as more and more individuals join the ranks of the enlightened stewards of the divine Plan.
Here are some of the benefits we can look forward to, if the Western tradition is embraced by the intelligent and dedicated people of the world:
- There will be far more cooperation and sharing among communities and nations. Conflicts, when they arise, will be resolved more commonly in the realm of ideas than on the battlefields of prejudice and nationalistic pride or physical confrontations.
- The progressive elements of religion will lead a reformation to replace the worship of a remote and petty god with the worship of the living God of love, Who is a benevolent influence in our daily life and work.
- Governments will be inspired to attend more to the duty of encouraging the growth of civilization and spiritual themes than to meeting the material wants of the members of society. Order and justice will be seen as qualities which must be fostered in a climate of self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and individual responsibility, not in a climate of enforced restriction. The value of the individual and his responsibility will become dominant themes.
- Science will discover that its true work is not to discover the laws of the physical universe, but to reveal the principles which govern all of the planes of form and to participate in implementing the “technology of divine ideas.”
- Psychology will learn to distinguish between consciousness and sensation. This will open the door to recognizing the central reality of the soul in understanding human behavior and activity. It will become more interested in promoting the health of human consciousness through activating the life of the soul.
- Education will begin to see the higher correspondences of the learning process, and come to appreciate that we all dwell in an invisible realm of pure thought which can be tapped by any intelligent person who trains himself or herself to become aware of this subtle presence.
- The arts will be seen more fully as an opportunity to communicate directly with the symbolic and intuitive dimensions of human consciousness. The arts will be less of a personal dumping ground for the idiosyncrasies and hang-ups of the artist, writer, or musician.
There is, of course, no guarantee that any of this will come to pass. Yet it can be stated truthfully that the momentum of the archetypal forces which govern the emerging Western tradition is moving us in these directions. How far we go depends on what we do, individually and collectively. Each of us must play our part. No one has the right to indulge in the smug assumption that society must reform itself first, before we take up our own duty.
The Western tradition and the practice of Active Meditation are both based on the fundamental precept that human individuality is the key to human advancement and productivity.
Society can only grow as the individual members of society recognize their duties and responsibilities to becoming productive citizens of life.
A spiritual tradition can only grow as individuals become responsive to its goals and work to participate in it.
The techniques of Active Meditation are designed to help us better understand the secret of our individuality and cooperate with the emerging directions of the Western tradition. In practicing them, we should always keep in mind the basic principles upon which Active Meditation is founded:
1. Our Higher Self is the center of all our meditative work, not a guru, or even the oneness of God. Teachers should be seen only as midwives to the birth of enlightened consciousness. And the oneness of God should be seen as the environment in which the Higher Self lives and acts.
2. Our link to spirit lies in the most pure and noble aspects of the personality’s emotions, thoughts, and will.
Mantras, symbols, colors, prayers, and visualizations do not in and of themselves link us with the Higher Self.
They can facilitate the meditative process, but only our devotion, aspiration, trust, understanding, dedication, and intention can link us with spirit.
3. The working relationship between personality and spirit is meant to be creative and dynamic. The love, wisdom, and power of the Higher Self can only enter into our character and self-expression as we work to integrate these qualities with our attitudes, habits, and activities.
4. The ideal relationship between personality and spirit is a creative partnership. The Higher Self provides inspiration, wisdom, and the full resources of divine love. The personality provides the form of outer activity and expression, includes its talents, experience, and interest. Together, they are able to contribute to the spiritualization of the worlds of form. But if they do not serve as partners, neither the Higher Self nor the personality is able to perform this work.
5. The focus of attention in meditation should always be on the quality of consciousness – not the form through which consciousness is being expressed, whether that is a chakra, a mantra, a color, a posture, a guru, a breath, or anything else. Our goal is to enlighten our understanding, enrich our emotions with compassion and goodwill, and mobilize our intention with dignity and skill.
6. All progress is dependent upon our ability to ground our spiritual development in our self-expression. It is not enough just to grow in awareness and to refine our character. We must become a helpful, constructive force in society and civilization.
In striving to fulfill these principles of Active Meditation, it is important to remember a few key points:
- The popularity of a practice is not an indication of its usefulness. In fact, it may be a sign that it appeals to laziness or materialism in mass consciousness.
- Long-standing religious or spiritual traditions are not necessarily the best for present day enlightenment. A new tradition is emerging, which is meant to take us into the future, not the past.
- Feeling good is not an intelligent criterion for evaluating the richness of our meditation.
- Enlightenment has nothing to do with the ability to see light in a meditation. It is the process of dominating our thoughts, feelings, and actions with the light (wisdom) of the Higher Self and its qualities and forces.
The genuine signs that our meditative work is developing according to plan are the changes which occur within us. They are similar to the changes which will occur in society, as the Western tradition emerges, but with an individual focus.
We become more tolerant, patient, and able to remain faithful to the ideals and principles we cherish.
We better understand the meaning and relevance of our work, our relationships, our talents, and the events of life.
We are better prepared to recognize and meet our responsibilities and opportunities.
We become more joyful in the way in which we approach life, especially the difficulties of life.
We become more self-sufficient, self-disciplined, and self-directed in our thinking, planning, and behavior.
We become more productive and useful to the world. We become more aware of our inner talents and beauty and are able to see and respect similar qualities in others.
We are more able to recognize the underlying qualities of goodwill and unity which permeate all of life.
These results are the signs that we not only know God and adore God, but are busy working to participate in the divine plan of God for humanity, which is the real God consciousness.
The Final Word
We have tried to make this book a comprehensive guide to the principles and practices of Active Meditation. Yet in no way do we consider it the final word on meditation. The “final word” of what to do, and not to do, in the practice of Active Meditation should come from one source and none other: Our own Higher Self.
The needs of each of us are unique and individual.
The techniques suggested in this book are meant to provide a structure upon which to build a strong bond with the Higher Self, but it is something each of us must build for ourself.
As we try, we will find that the Higher Self is quite able and willing to assist us. From the very beginning, this will always be our most reliable source of guidance.
Nevertheless, not all voices we hear in our meditations will be the guidance of the Higher Self.
Our own misconceptions, desires, and prejudices are likely to speak quite loudly at times.
So will the traditions, prejudices, and desires of mass consciousness.
We must learn to discriminate between these false voices and the true voice of the Higher Self.
When all else fails, and we are confused about the meaning of what is happening or the value of a specific idea, there are always three things we can rely on:
- Our common sense.
- Our own experiences.
- The invocation of Truth and a renewed dedication to honoring the life of the Higher Self. It is not just understanding which clears up confusion and doubt, but even more importantly, the power of Truth and our constant loyalty to it.
We have written this book out of our own experiences in using meditation as well as teaching it. We have tried to include the kind of practical suggestions we wish had been available years ago when we first began to meditate.
It is offered to you, in the hope that these ideas will help make your own experiments in meditating more successful and more active.