The Skills We Need to Meditate
Many people, unfortunately, believe that just making contact with our Higher Self is the entire purpose and work of meditation. Once this basic contact is achieved, they then “rest” in a state of identification with our Higher Self, in the expectation that our Higher Self will take care of everything else. It will automatically enlighten them, heal imperfections, and lift them up into heaven.
This kind of belief, however, is no more reasonable than the expectation that we can enroll in a course of study at the university and the university will do all the work for us, as long as we believe in its capacity to do so. No one has yet earned a college degree through “effortless effort.”
The university does not take our exams for us; it expects us to demonstrate our competence.
The university does not study for us; it expects us to apply our self to the learning process with self-discipline and intelligence, mastering the subjects required for our degree. Nor is this an issue of faith and devotion.
No one can expect to become an engineer by believing that his professors are wise and competent.
Nor can we expect to become a mathematician by worshipping the principles of mathematics, or expect to become a psychologist by sitting at the feet of a learned professor and adoring his insights.
The mastery of these studies requires hard work, applied intelligence, and growth.
The same is true in meditation. No one has yet achieved enlightenment solely by sitting back and expecting our Higher Self to do all the work.
Meditation is a time for conscious interaction with our Higher Self, enabling our personality to partake of our Higher Self’s wisdom, power, and love.
We do not become wise simply by adoring the mind of God, nor compassionate simply by believing that God loves us.
We do not even become strong simply by surrendering to the will of God.
We earn our degrees in spiritual mastery in much the same way that the college student earns theirs, through hard work, applied intelligence, and growth.
Meditation is a process which supports and augments such sincere effort.
The philosophy of the Western tradition of Active Meditation can be encapsulated in three major principles. It is useful to understand these principles and keep them in mind as we enroll ourselves in the university of our Higher Self:
- There is enormous power in our Higher Self to heal and enrich our personality and body.
- Our personality can learn how to tap this enriching power of our Higher Self through intelligent cooperation.
- Intelligent cooperation becomes possible as our personality models itself after the design, intelligence, attitude, and activity of our Higher Self.
When meditative work is based on these three principles, it becomes genuinely integrative, tapping the life of our Higher Self and focusing it into the fabric of our personality, for enlightened change and self- expression.
Because our Higher Self is more wise and powerful than our personality, and is designed to have authority over the growth and self- expression of our personality, it makes sense to cooperate intelligently with it.
It makes sense to learn as much as we can about our Higher Self and find ways to focus its power, wisdom, and love into our own self- expression.
The Greater And The Lesser
To cooperate with our Higher Self, we must be willing to confront the problems and responsibilities of our own life. We must be willing to develop new skills as needed and learn to work with the love, power, and wisdom of our Higher Self.
Our challenge in this regard is much like the work of a graduate student at the university, who is assigned a specific project or independent line of study to complete.
Once the assignment is made, graduate students are basically left on their own; they can consult the professor but are expected to develop their own method of approaching, understanding, and resolving the problem. In a very real sense, they must be both teacher and student, inasmuch as they must act on the best of their ideas and plans and discard the lesser ones. They must learn to take themselves beyond their current abilities. As they do, creativity is stimulated, their initiative is evoked, and they learn far more than if the professor were instructing them in the conventional manner.
Those who cooperate with our Higher Self come to appreciate this analogy. We do not cooperate intelligently by becoming passively dependent on our Higher Self, believing that it is magically working behind the scenes to remove all hardship from our life.
We cooperate by striving to integrate the power of our Higher Self into the potential of our personality, thereby growing into new abilities, wisdom, and activities. We cooperate by striving to become an apprentice to the master of life, our Higher Self, and by working to harness the best within us while transforming our weaknesses, flaws, and deficiencies.
Since meditation is designed to promote integration, it is essential that Western meditators comprehend that they, too, are supposed to serve as both teacher and student as they strive toward their goals.
To make Active Meditation work, they will have to define the ideals they will pursue, assign themselves projects in which they can learn about our Higher Self, and monitor and discipline their efforts to become a more intelligent apprentice. Indeed, they will have to be more than teachers and students; they will have to be healers and patients, parents and children as well. This is the heart of effective integration.
The work of spiritual integration can be summed up in this maxim: The greater takes care of the lesser.
The teacher takes care of the student. The healer takes care of the patient.
The parent takes care of the child.
By activating this principle, we set the stage for the integration of our personality. The mature elements of our personality learn to take care of the naive, lazy, ignorant, and selfish parts by replacing them with something more noble. As a result, intelligent cooperation becomes possible, and our personality is healed.
We also set the stage for the integration of the healed personality with our Higher Self. Only the greater power, love, and wisdom of our Higher Self are adequate to provide fully the guidance, strength, and love which our personality needs to complete its tasks with dignity and nobility.
The greater takes care of the lesser.
This is a great truth, but relatively meaningless unless activated.
If we just spend our time in meditation blissing out or pursuing pleasant fantasies, the greater will never be brought into contact with the lesser. No transformation will occur, and the great potential of our Higher Self will remain abstract, unexpressed.
It is the duty of our personality to find its hidden strengths, talents, and capacities – and, having found them, learn to use these strengths, talents, and capacities effectively.
It is unfortunate that this obvious tenet of common sense is so frequently neglected by individuals working on self-improvement, as well as professionals in medicine and psychology. We are not empty slates, waiting to be written on.
Most of us are mixtures of mature and immature elements. We have a capacity for goodwill and tolerance, but also a potential for resentment and intolerance. In some aspects of life, we are skilled; in others, awkward and untrained.
When motivated, we are capable of ambitious work, self-discipline, and thoroughness, but at other times we are lazy, self-indulgent, and careless. In some modes, we are cheerful and confident, but there are also dark portions of our personality which are sad and insecure.
The average person is usually unaware of these contradictions in their character, and could care less. When crisis arises, however, they are swept into the unpleasantness of the problem and their annoyance, anger, frustration, and anxiety about it.
Instead of the greater taking care of the lesser, the lesser aspects of our personality panic and control is lost to them. Such a reaction generally blocks access to the very strengths and capacities which could enable our personality to overcome the crisis and triumph.
The person who takes time in meditation to discover the mature elements within their character, however, will be largely immune to such uncontrolled reactions.
They will be able to:
- Approach the difficulties of life as a problem solver.
- Heal ruffled emotions.
- Discipline frustrations and anxieties.
- Mobilize courage to soothe doubts.
- Maintain a cheerful attitude in the face of adversity.
But the work of meditation must not be limited just to finding the noble and mature elements within our character; we must also learn what to do with them. It is one thing to be in touch with intelligence, goodwill, and courage, and quite another to be able to act wisely, compassionately, and steadfastly.
Until we learn to act in these ways, our noble aspirations will constantly be in jeopardy from the less than noble departments of our personality.
The child within us will want gratification, even while the adult would prefer that the child learn self-sufficiency.
The student within us will want ready-made answers and pat solutions, even while the teacher within us will want the student to learn how to evaluate and solve the problems and questions that must be faced.
The patient within us will want relief of distress, even while the healer within us will want to cure the underlying problem or conflict, not just relieve symptoms.
It is therefore not enough to observe that there are greater and lesser elements within us; we must learn to use the greater to take care of the lesser. Only then does integration become a reality.
We learn this lesson first within the context of our personality, as we focus our meditative efforts to heal its deficiencies and solve its problems. As we become proficient at this level, we also learn to apply the same principle to the greater elements of our Higher Self, using them to take care of the lesser needs of our personality.
Meditation is not a game to be played as a luxury of our leisure time. Its work and goals are noble and enable us to enter the presence of the authority and wisdom within us. It is then that the principle of the greater taking care of the lesser reaches its zenith.
The most significant applications of this principle lie in learning to trust and cooperate with the greatness within us.
The Power of Maturity
The integrative work of the greater taking care of the lesser cannot be effectively approached as a mechanical exercise to be performed by rote. The mature elements within us must be activated, so they embrace the immature elements within us, cleansing and healing them and nurturing their transformation.
For this reason, the nurturing parent who involves himself with warmth and affection in the life of his child makes an especially good model for the work of integration. When the child is filled with fear, the parent rushes to explain, reassure, and soothe. When the child is confused and bewildered, the parent offers advice and guidance. When the child is unhappy, the parent endeavors to set a more cheerful tone.
Meditation is not designed to be a time when we forget our troubles and immaturities by pursuing fantasies of angels and a paternalistic God who will soothe away all our woes.
Rather, it is meant to be a time when we draw the negativity or conflict of a problem or immature element of the child within us into the compassion, strength, and wisdom of the parent within us.
This is not done by just observing that there is a problem and assuming that it will now “drop away,” since we have observed it; it is not done by shouting platitudes that the child is really perfect. Nor is it done by criticizing the weak elements of our personality and feeling sinful and unworthy.
Our personal healing and growth is accomplished by acting as a responsible, loving parent toward the childish aspects of our character.
Our Higher Self has tremendous resources of joy, wisdom, hope, compassion, courage, and peace which it patiently and tenderly radiates into our personality, day after day.
Most people are unaware of this constant expression of support and love, and therefore do not receive the full benefit of it. They do not trust their Higher Self as a loving parent or make any effort to cooperate with it. By these failures, they cheat themselves of much of the richness of life. They remain focused in their childishness and immaturity.
The individual who learns to act with the maturity of the parent within, however, is able to take advantage of these spiritual resources and put them to work to correct immaturity and childishness. We must do more than just play with nice ideas, soothing words, and pretty images, of course; we must actually tap into the force of the spiritual ideals of compassion, wisdom, and power and focus them constructively.
Tapping into the forces of these ideals is accomplished by trusting in our Higher Self and seeking to cooperate with its intent and design. Focusing the forces constructively is accomplished by acting to correct the weaknesses and problems of our personality with goodwill, forgiveness, affection, encouragement, and common sense.
As we activate the parent within us to operate in this way, we gradually establish a relationship which permits:
- The confusion of our personality to be drawn into the intelligence of our Higher Self, where it is cleansed and healed.
- The problems of our personality to be lifted into the wisdom of our Higher Self, where the solution can be discerned.
- The sadness of our personality to be raised into the joy of our Higher Self, renewing our personality with cheerfulness.
- The anger of our personality to be embraced and overwhelmed by the forgiveness of our Higher Self.
- The fears of our personality to be drawn into the strength of our Higher Self, producing the power to be courageous.
- The fatigue of our personality to be lifted into the aura of our Higher Self, leading to revitalization.
- The indifference of our personality to be raised into the compassion of our Higher Self.
- The sickness of our personality to be embraced by the ideals of our Higher Self, creating health.
The ability of the greater life and power of our Higher Self to reach out and heal the weaknesses and deficiencies in our personality is not a lovely fable or promise; it is an established fact.
But the process does require the active cooperation of our personality, the willingness to treat itself as a loving, nurturing parent would treat a fussing child. Until the parent-teacher-healer capacity within our personality is activated, the child is essentially left on its own.
The implication of this idea is quite clear: we must learn to take care of our own needs. We cannot remain the child. We must begin viewing our self primarily as a responsible adult who can parent the child within.
This shift of perspective and purpose can become effective only as we learn to become an agent of the greater life of our Higher Self.
It is for this reason that passive surrender to God and blind faith in our Higher Self just do not make sense. They do nothing to support the parent within. Actually, this passivity is more likely to keep us perpetually in spiritual childhood.
God gives us the wisdom, but we alone can use that wisdom to solve our own problems.
God gives us compassion, but we alone can use that compassion to forgive those who harm or offend us.
God gives us strength, but we alone can use that strength to act with courage.
Our Higher Self has designed our personality to be successful, healthy, and competent, but we must learn how to fulfill this design.
We must become an agent of our Higher Self.
Of course, there will always be some who will fail to see the importance of activating the parent within. They will insist that they can fulfill their spiritual design just by loving God and surrendering to divine will.
It may be helpful to keep in mind, however, that any child can quietly fall into a swimming pool. The ones that do not drown are the ones who learn to swim. By learning to swim, they are doing something more than just believing that their parents will always be there to rescue them if they fall in. They are actually learning to take advantage of the purpose of the swimming pool – and their own arms and legs!
Others will claim that the strength, power, and abilities of our Higher Self can be activated simply by affirming them.
While an attitude of positive expectation is always helpful in any endeavor, it does not make sense to reduce the need for spiritual integration to wishful thinking. Positive affirmations cannot make the child who falls into the pool float or swim across its surface. Neither can we expect our Higher Self to support us unless we first learn to cooperate with it intelligently.
Helping The Child Grow Up
In Active Meditation two major assignments are given to our personality. The first is to identify the genuine needs for growth of the child within; this will become center stage for the work of integration. The second is to activate the qualities and authority of parent within; this will make it possible to focus the greater strength, love, and wisdom of our Higher Self into our personality.
Defining the genuine needs of the child within is a bit tricky. Too often, “needs” are simply confused for our “wishes” and “wants”. These are the childish cravings of our personality. These desires are generally motivated by escapism, hedonism, pettiness, and selfishness. For example, a person who has difficulty establishing fulfilling and healthy relationships will tend to believe that what is needed most are friends and lovers who are more on “the right” wavelength.
What is genuinely needed, however, is something different. The selfishness, capriciousness, and pettiness must be replaced with the greater love, affection, and compassion of our Higher Self, to be followed by learning to express these qualities in dealings with friends and lovers.
In striving to understand “needs,” therefore, we must learn to recognize the distinction between the symptoms of our problems and what is needed to solve them.
If we have been embarrassed, for example, the anxiety or resentment we may be feeling only describes the problem. Our need is for the courage and cheerfulness of our Higher Self, and for using these qualities to dissipate and replace the anger and resentment with new attitudes and habits.
The belief that we “need” to find relief from our anger and resentment by demanding change in our circumstances is erroneous.
In the same way, if we are indecisive about the solution to a complex problem, our confusion only describes the nature of our reaction. Our need is for wisdom, discernment, and the ability to think the problem through. The quest for ready-made answers or “easy solutions” is too simplistic.
In other words, the genuine need of the child within is always for those qualities, strengths, or talents of our Higher Self which, if applied to the difficulty, would help the child grow up.
It is surprising how seldom this simple approach is taken to solving personal problems, but nothing makes better sense. It is the primary way in which the greater takes care of the lesser.
Once our personality has learned to recognize its immaturity, and has decided to do something about it, we then face our second assignment: to activate the parent within and put its maturity and nobility to work applying the appropriate qualities, strengths, and talents of our Higher Self to resolve the problems of the child within.
This is neither an overnight nor a magical process. It requires persistent and disciplined effort over a substantial period of time to effect permanent changes in ongoing habits of anger, self-deprecation, prejudice, selfishness, or pettiness.
To be successful, we must constantly reinforce the authority of the parent within (recognizing that this authority is drawn from the power of our Higher Self) and restrain the natural tendency of the child within to rebel against it. Instead, the child within must be encouraged to trust and cooperate in the changes being made.
Throughout, we must keep in mind that both the child within and the parent within are aspects of our personality.
The child within represents our immature, self-indulgent, and selfish elements.
The parent within is the part of us which is mature, responsible, and willing to make sacrifices in order to grow.
As such, the parent within is the ideal agent to focus the greater love, wisdom, and power of our Higher Self into the immature elements of our personality. Activating the parent within our personality is, therefore, the most efficient way to pursue the work of integration.
It is possible, of course, to make these changes without the use of meditation, but a regular practice of the techniques of Active Meditation is ideally suited to enabling the work of the parent within.
Meditation is designed to improve the relationship between our Higher Self and our personality, so the qualities and strengths of heaven can be brought into full flower on earth. What better way to fulfill this design than by using meditation to bring our own personality to full flower?
The Skills Of Meditation
To use meditation effectively in this way, however, the activities of meditation must be focused. Certain meditative skills must be developed. Little good will be served simply by contacting our Higher Self and then spending thirty minutes adoring God.
The resources of our Higher Self must be tapped, directed into our personality, and used to transform habits, attitudes, methods of thinking, and priorities.
Those portions of our personality which have been torn apart by distress must be lifted up into the love and compassion of our Higher Self, cleansed, renewed, and given new definition.
The problems of daily living must be solved. None of this occurs simply by hoping that it will.
It requires the development of specific meditative skills.
Those who are accustomed to passive meditative systems may be skeptical of this premise, but it should be kept in mind that a general needs the officer corps and troops to win a battle. The sales manager needs a sales force to sell products.
Just so, the God within us needs a well-trained, competent, and active personality to parent and guide the day-to-day work of the outer life.
It is perhaps enough for the child within our personality to operate on belief and adoration alone, but the parent within needs effective skills in order to fulfill its duties and honor the intentions of our Higher Self.
The skills of meditation are practical abilities which are meant to be developed by our personality as it seeks to interact with our Higher Self. They enable the work of spiritual integration to proceed much more rapidly than would otherwise be possible.
The skills we will deal with in this book are all can be used to develop meaningful techniques for healing and enlightening our personality and preparing it for greater partnership with our Higher Self.
Let us become acquainted with them.
Nothing much ever happens in a meditation when the person who is meditating simply makes contact with our Higher Self and then waits for it to do something. Our personality is meant to assume responsibility for its behavior and activities and initiate meditative contact.
Meditation is intended to be a very active time, with the meditator choosing themes to focus on, asking questions, pursuing hints and suggestions, attuning to selected qualities or forces of our Higher Self, directing them where they are needed, and so forth. This work can only proceed, however, if the person is able to take charge.
Actually, the skill of taking charge is an ability which embraces a much wider circumference than just meditative work. It describes an ideal approach to living.
Our personality is designed to be alert to what is happening in life and understand it, evaluating what is helpful and what may be harmful. It is expected to:
- do the basic homework of successful living
- get involved in opportunities to learn and grow
- search for the undeveloped potential within
- take risks and experiment with new ideas
- initiate sensible projects.
In Active Meditation, meditators are expected to be directors of the action which unfolds. In this way, they come into closer harmony with their Higher Self, which is the real director of all the action of our life.
Working As A Multidimensional Being In A Multidimensional Universe
We are not just flesh and body. Our being extends through a number of dimensions, not all of them visible. In addition to the space we act in physically, we live in the dimensions of our emotions, the mind, and our Higher Self.
The average person tends to think and act largely in the physical dimension, and believes our personality to be a manifestation of the physical body. In meditation, however, we must work multidimensionally, becoming aware simultaneously of our Higher Self, our thoughts, our feelings, and the expression of these elements in physical activity.
This is not as difficult as it may seem at first. As we walk down the street, we can be aware of our body, the clothes we are wearing, the direction we are heading, and the reason for going there, all at the same time.
Working multi-dimensionally in a meditative state is no more complex. But because not all of these dimensions are visible to us, we must make a concentrated effort to recognize and respond to them.
It is the ability to work multidimensionally, for example, which enables us to understand a person who is trying to cheat us and deal with them more effectively.
We are able to see the many levels of this event simultaneously:
- The words and deeds which have occurred physically.
- The emotional reactions of both of us.
- Their motivations for behaving in this way.
- The consequences of the different ways we might respond to this deceit.
- The values, dignity, compassion, and purpose in living which ought to guide our behavior.
The person who responds to such a circumstance one-dimensionally is likely just to become angry. But if we are able to work multidimensionally, we can respond instead with tolerance, compassion, and wisdom, even while standing firm and not permitting them to cheat us.
Understanding the multidimensional nature of our self and of reality enables us to acknowledge that our thoughts and attitudes do not have to be determined by physical events. They can be guided from other levels in a manner that honors the life of our Higher Self.
One of the great skills of Active Meditation is the ability to work with divine archetypes. Divine archetypes are patterns of perfection which God has created to assist in bringing the life and glory of the heavenly dimensions into manifestation on earth.
These patterns are the design and living force from which all of life has been created – humanity, civilization, nature, and the universe. They serve as the seed and inspiration for all creativity, enlightened self- expression, and growth. The divine archetypes exist at the level of our Higher Self, not our personality, and therefore are not to be confused with Jungian archetypes, which are usually the creations of collective human thought.
Divine archetypes serve as reservoirs of divine force. They are aspects of God. Examples of divine archetypes would be the power and pattern to be cheerful, to lead, to organize, and to build.
A person with advanced skills in meditation is able to contact these archetypes directly, at the level of our Higher Self, and focus their force and quality into creative work. They are invoked in three ways:
- by being aware that they exist in actual environment of our Higher Self
- by being devoted to their emerging potential in our life
- by being dedicated to working with their inspiration and power.
Beginners are able to deal with archetypal forces, too, although not directly, by invoking the perfect divine pattern for some aspect of their work or self-expression.
A mother, for example, could invoke the perfect pattern of dignity and courage in helping her child overcome strong fears. By working repeatedly to invoke this perfect pattern, she would gradually become familiar with its nature, its power, and how to express it.
Another kind of pattern of perfection which plays an important role in Active Meditation is the spiritual ideal.
Spiritual ideals are aspects of our own Higher Self which serve as blueprints for our individual self-expression, the ideal way to think, feel, and act in any circumstance of daily life, past, present, or future. Many of these spiritual ideals can be observed in partial states of manifestation in our character, but to be appreciated fully, they must be traced back to their origin, our Higher Self.
The process of using spiritual ideals is similar to using divine archetypes. Having recognized a genuine need in our personality, we invoke the spiritual ideal of our Higher Self which we lack.
If we are angry with a friend, for example, it would be the ideal of understanding and forgiveness. If we are irritated by delays, it would be the ideal of patience.
Once we have linked our attention to the ideal, we would then consider how its force and perfection can be expressed, mentally, emotionally, and physically. In this way, we infuse elements of the greater into the lesser.
A symbol is a visual image, memory, feeling, thought, event, or phrase which represents something in addition to its literal meaning.
The use of symbolism can be an important meditative skill, if we keep in mind several principles:
- The symbol has no value except to the degree that it reveals or represents something more profound. We must not get trapped, therefore, in the appearance of the symbol, but look beyond it, to recognize its life and power, and appreciate its capacity to stabilize and organize various levels of consciousness.
- Some symbols lead us back to our Higher Self, perhaps even to archetypal forces and spiritual ideals. But other symbols represent the forces and contents of the subconscious and unconscious portions of our personality, as well as mass consciousness.
A symbol arising in a meditation (or a dream) must therefore be evaluated carefully, because we would want to deal with a symbol of our Higher Self differently than a symbol of the subconscious.
A symbol of an archetypal force, for example, could be used repeatedly to help us reestablish contact with the power of that archetype. We would want to explore it thoroughly.
A symbol representing a repressed emotion buried in the subconscious would never be used in this fashion, however; it would be used to search out the repressed emotion, so it could be cleansed and replaced by something healthier.
Symbols can also be created by the meditator as needed. In working to establish a new habit pattern, for example, we might find it useful to create an appropriate symbol which will be specifically associated with the new habit. Using symbols in this way helps us organize the subconscious better.
When a spiritual ideal is verbalized, it becomes a seed thought, a succinct phrase, a brief sentence, or a word which embodies a complex set of insights, motivations, thoughts, and qualities. Seed thoughts are activated in the meditative state.
While in contact with our Higher Self, we fix our attention on the seed thought and enrich it with our devotion and our intention to honor it in our self-expression. This action creates something like a “psychological battery” charged with the spiritual force of the ideal we are contemplating.
As we work repeatedly with the seed thought, this battery becomes a reservoir of power in our subconscious, energizing our aspirations, expectations, and intentions to act this ideal way in daily life.
An example of a seed thought would be: “I am the power to forgive.” By holding this seed thought about forgiveness, we gradually build up our faith and determination to be truly forgiving in our relationships with others.
Seed thoughts differ from ordinary types of positive thought and self- hypnosis in that they infuse the subconscious battery with the higher dimensions of spiritual force. This can come only from contact with our Higher Self, and so must be energized in the meditative state.
Ordinary positive thought does not achieve this, despite the confidence of the positive thinker and the fact that the intention is similar.
It is possible to energize a number of seed thoughts in a single meditation, but it is helpful to pause briefly between each one.
At first, it is recommended that only one seed thought be charged per meditation, until expertise is gained.
Mental Role Playing
In translating a spiritual ideal or divine archetype so that it becomes an active part of our character, we must give it focus and definition.
One of the best ways of accomplishing this is through mental role playing, for example, imagining our self to be a wise and nurturing parent to the child within us, explaining the value of new ways of acting and demonstrating what this entails. Other roles that can be played for the same effect would be the inner teacher or compassionate healer.
Mental role playing can also be most helpful in focusing spiritual force into our subconscious and rehearsing the ideal way in which we should act in a variety of circumstances or conditions. In this way, we give our thoughts and feelings a trial run in handling a new quality or power of our Higher Self.
Genuine blessing occurs as our Higher Self radiates its love and light to nurture an aspect of our personality or its daily life. The meditator can develop skill in blessing by cultivating a reverence for the life of our Higher Self and by trying to think and act as our Higher Self does.
By blending a refined quality of devotion, trust, and dedication to our Higher Self, the meditator invokes its love and light, directing it toward some aspect of our personality’s character or activity, past or present.
The key to mastering this skill is learning to focus the blessing on the potential to grow: to become more tolerant, for greater health, or for society’s potential to resolve its conflicts, and so on.
Because true blessing is an act of spirit, not just a benevolent attitude of our personality, it is one of the safest and most healing activities we can engage in. This is especially important when confronted with challenges that tend to arouse our anger or anxiety.
In addition to accelerating the development of inherent spiritual potential, a blessing has the effect of neutralizing that which opposes and resists the life of our Higher Self. It charges the seeds of nobility within our character, our best plans and goals, our emerging genius, and the strength of our convictions, thus helping them grow. Blessing is an active expression of the greater taking care of the lesser.
The device of imagining our personality to be two people, the parent within and the child within, is an act of personification. It enables us to deal more readily with the concept that there is a mixture of both mature and immature elements in our character. This mental separation enables us to more readily harness the power of the mature elements to take care of the immature parts.
This same device can also be used in many other ways meditatively. Divine archetypes can be personified as muses, graces, or other figures from mythology. Our spiritual ideals can be embodied in a personification of “the saint within.” This kind of personification makes it easier to contact and communicate with abstract forces and qualities, by giving them a concrete focus.
Personification can likewise be used to deal more effectively with problem areas of the subconscious.
If we are rebellious and petulant, these traits could be personified as a spoiled child who is then firmly but lovingly disciplined by our inner, nurturing parent.
Anger could be personified as a hothead who is then taught the lessons of self-restraint, tolerance, and benevolence by the teacher within.
In using personification in this way, however, it is important to keep in mind that we are not just indulging in melodramatic games which will reconcile us to our petulance or anger. The object is to help us grow away from our immaturity and become more adult in our behavior.
The Heart And Substance
These are the basic skills we need in order to meditate effectively. But meditation is not just a collection of skills. It is a program of self- improvement, in which we seek to integrate the power, love, and wisdom of our Higher Self into the life of our personality. In this manner, the personality is transformed and more able to become an agent for the light and love of God.
In Active Meditation, therefore, we use these skills as the basic building blocks for constructing specific techniques which will help our personality grow and achieve the goal of enlightenment: an enlightened consciousness and an enlightened self-expression.
There are seven such techniques, and these will be explored, one at a time, in the coming seven chapters. These techniques are:
- Creating an enlightened self-image, which will help us establish a correct awareness of identity.
- Defining intelligent goals and values, which will give us a proper focus for our self-expression.
- Cleaning the mental household, which will enable our personality to become a more effective partner of our Higher Self.
- Healing the emotions, which will help us develop the right attitudes and perspectives.
- Invoking the wisdom of our Higher Self, which will bring us guidance and enrich our understanding of life.
- Applying the wisdom of our Higher Self to solve problems, enabling us to become more effective in our self-expression.
- Exploring the themes of creative self-discovery, leading to a more enlightened and innovative person.
By no means are these the only ways in which contact with our Higher Self can be used in meditation. But these seven techniques do represent the heart and substance of Active Meditation and its primary goal: spiritual integration.