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The Mystic's Life Lesson #3
To become enlightened you will very likely need to develop transcendental consciousness. With the skills of transcendental consciousness, youll find it relatively easy to move into an ongoing state of spiritual realization.
Transcendental consciousness is fun to practice and it bestows several of the most rewarding gifts youll ever receive. While a few aspirants on the path are able to access their higher consciousness without the specific techniques of transcendental consciousness, most people who ultimately abide in higher consciousness have mastered the three stages of beloved "T.C.":
Concentration is the ability to center your mind on whatever youd like to think about. Contemplation is the ability to direct your consciousness to explore any chosen object or idea in profound depth. Continuation is a peak state of higher consciousness in its own right. Eastern mystics call this wondrous revelation samadhi; which means "the thing itself, pure Spirit." Continuation enables you to move beyond concentration and contemplation into glorious uninterrupted periods of absorption in the awareness of the Infinite Spirit. You directly behold Spirit within you, within all people and within all things.
Transcendental consciousness bestows peace and makes your mind work better all day long. It enables you to easily direct your awareness to life improvement at will. It helps you sense the underlying beauty and purpose of life.
Removing the Veils
By means of transcendental consciousness you can make your mind, emotions, and ego-sense subtle enough to experience your higher consciousness and your true nature. In transcendental consciousness you become able to concentrate your mind at progressively higher levels. You will find that your consciousness seems to have many veils. These veils distort your perceptions of life. Through transcendental consciousness you are able to remove one veil, then another, then another, then another, until your perception of life and reality is perfectly clear and ever so enthralling. You will likely come to the conclusion that in normal mental, emotional, and egoic consciousness you are misperceiving everything. That is, compared to the perspectives of your higher consciousness, your regular view of life is very partial, limited, and often distorted.
Another way of considering transcendental consciousness is that you have habitually directed your awareness outward to be particularly aware of the physical universe and in order to do this you have used the grossest, or densest, level of your psyche. You have needed to use numerous veils in order to maintain the awareness that the physical world alone is real. Ignoring higher consciousness, spirit, and the conscious energy which maintain the universe, you have lost out on many invaluable perspectives, opportunities, and an all-important sense of wholeness of unity and harmony in your life and world.
Those who have mastered the subject of transcendental consciousness liken its development to the progressive freeing of the individual from the prison of delusion or misconception. That is, as you remove the veils through which you are perceiving your world, one by one, you will find that you are increasingly aware of a more subtle identity. You are also aware of awesome calmness, ecstasy, and insight as you unveil your true self. Through transcendental consciousness, a state of liberation or perfect freedom, truth, and majestic well being results.
Objects of Meditation
As you remove the veils of your consciousness and approach your true identity, you find that you can meditate on more and more subtle objects. Your initial practice of transcendental consciousness will likely be on a physical object which you gaze at with your calm eyes. Then, when you have perfected this ability to be perfectly aware of a physical object, you will be able to select an object a point of concentration and meditation within you. For example, it may be a light you behold in your forehead, or the movement of energy which you feel in your chest. This inner object (the light or the feeling) becomes more developed as you focus your mind more perfectly.
So, you will normally begin your development by concentrating on a gross external object and then on more refined and subtle inner objects. You proceed toward focusing on aspects of higher consciousness itself peace or wisdom, for example and beyond. With practice you can concentrate on the source of higher consciousness.
To experience transcendental consciousness one must understand, and achieve, its three main levels.
Concentration means "with centeredness." You will find that all three steps in the development of transcendental consciousness involve focusing your awareness well and being able to poise your mind on the object of your meditation whether that object is a gross physical object or a very subtle interior one.
Consideration of transcendental consciousness begins with an awareness of the content of your mind. Notice, as you watch your mind, how many thoughts and feelings flood through it related thoughts and feelings, unrelated thoughts and feelings, images based on what your senses are telling you about the world or what they told you about the world yesterday or ten years ago. Memories and feelings flood up from the subconscious basement where you store the events of your life. Plans about the future also are part of your mental content happy plans and views, as well as dreads.
Watch your mental content. You will likely find, as most do that the mind is very turbulent and is messier than any child's room. This observation of the mind is called conscious "mind drift," and is a wonderful way to know what is going on inside you. By watching your mind drift for a few minutes each week you can know what you dominantly feel about life and yourself. You can be clearly aware of your fears as well as your hopes.
You will notice your mind is particularly turbulent unless you are aware of your character flaws. Whenever you try to concentrate your mind drift gets worse unless you face and deal with your flaws faithfully.
Consider, too, that since you live in your mind drift, all the activities of your life are conducted in spite of or because of the turbulent flow of images and feelings that pour through your mind.
In a nutshell, the process of transcendental consciousness is one of guiding the content of your mind to become easily focused on one thing and then that one object of focus is made progressively more subtle.
Watching your mind in your normal waking consciousness you will likely find that numerous components make up the present content of your mind. For example:
. . . . . . . . . . My son . . . . . . . . . . . . The rose . . . . . . .
Focus on One Object
Now, in concentration you choose to patiently focus your mind until your mental content is only one object. That is, other objects are told not to interfere or enter your mental content for the period of your meditation. Of course, as your meditation becomes more subtle, you will be able to meditate in a much more discerning manner on much more refined objects inner light, energy centers, and visions, for example. You will even become able to meditate without the need of an object; your mind will be perfectly focused and responsive without having to have an object. But, to develop the essential skills which enable you to have loftier meditations later, start with a simple object that is easy to view with eyes open, and easy to hold in the mind when you close your eyes. The object needs to have a unified look too many features, or lines, encourage the mind to wander rather than focus.
Let's say, for example, that you choose to practice concentration on an apple which you set on the desk before you. The goal of a beginner in this practice is to hold the mind to the territory of "apple" thoughts. Your mind is allowed to wander or think about aspects of the apple but is not to stray into any mental content which is not directly related to the apple before you. At this beginning stage of the practice you are free to mentally reinforce what you are doing by chanting the words, "apple, apple, apple," or by reasoning about the apple, thinking of its kind and quality and freshness, for example.
Now your mind content may look something like this:
. . Apple, apple . . . McIntosh . . . . . . . apple tree . . . . . .
You will succeed with practice and that's all it takes patient, kind practice. You need to be kind to yourself because getting frustrated or angry adds more turbulence and further disturbs your mental content.
Probably you will notice you cannot concentrate very well unless you are aware of your character flaws and are striving to do something about them. Often, when you try to concentrate, your character "shortcomings" will float or flash into your mind, unless you have the peace which comes with the effort to be a better person: a kinder, more constructive, efficient, responsible human being.
You begin usually after a few days to relax more and give more undivided attention to your fledgling attempts at transcendental consciousness. Now your mental content looks more like this:
. . . . apple, apple. . . . . . . desk . . . . . . . . .apple, apple
With practice, you find it is not too difficult to choose the content of your mind. That is to say, you find you can borrow your own mind at times, borrow it from oblivion and wild turbulence, to do something constructive and pleasant with it. This practice alone greatly reduces the "worry time" that most people clock into their lives.
Your Mind Becomes Your Ally
You will notice as you do this practice that your feelings are quite important. A pleasant feeling about the apple and the practice, as well as about yourself, enables a more cordial and constant concentration. On the other hand, if your feelings want to play elsewhere with yearnings or frustrations of days gone by, your mental content becomes less steady and more chaotic.
Also, you find it's important to sit in a manner that is alert, upright, but not tense.
Soon how soon, depending on your patience in working with your mind's contents, as well as how much mental discipline you have developed throughout your life you will be able to hold the apple, or any simple object, clearly in your concentration. Other items and concepts won't push their way like terrorists into your awareness.
At this point you will greatly enjoy the practice of concentration and feel your "effort" was all worthwhile, despite appearances to the contrary at earlier stages. You will also feel fifty to one hundred percent more alive each day now that your mind is learning to become your ally rather than your sabotaging foe.
Going Beyond Words
You now move forward to the next level of concentration which is the ability to hold your mental content on one object without having to mentally chant, reason, or use any verbalization to maintain the object in your clear and focused mind. This stage is indeed wonderful.
It should be mentioned here that your mind has a faculty something like the clutch in a car. Whenever you move from one level of concentration, contemplation, or samadhi to the next level above it, you will likely experience a changeover. For example, if you chanted the word "apple," and reasoned about the apple as you strove to hold your mind constantly on the apple, you likely experienced a moment when your mind went blank. In essence, you moved from "verbalizing concentration" to concentration without the need for verbalizing or reasoning; you passed through a brief period of "contentless" meditation. This temporary blankness is an activity of your higher self which switches your mind from verbal meditation to nonverbal meditation. Somehow your higher self clears the way for higher levels of meditation by freeing the mind of all content.
You will find "contentlessness" somewhat like being in a plane in partly cloudy skies. As you proceed through the sky you enjoy the beauty of the landscape and the way the sun reflects off the gorgeous clouds. Then suddenly your plane is inside a cloud. For a brief time you cannot see the landscape below or any other clouds. The beautiful view is "suspended" as you pass through the cloud. When you come out of the cloud, you once again behold the beautiful landscape and can see a great distance before you.
But, in transcendental consciousness, you come out of the contentless "cloud experience" into a new dimension of awareness, not a resumption of the old perceptions. The new vista is markedly different and more glorious.
You will probably find that brief periods of contentless concentration occur, not only now at this beginning stage but every time you are about to move into a higher stage of transcendental consciousness. But bear in mind, because it's very essential, this brief time of contentless meditation is not a time to be mentally passive. You maintain full alertness. You are about to enter into a higher state of awareness and will need to be even more aware, more subtly aware, if you are to experience and achieve the next level. One vital rule of not only concentration but all forms of meditation is never be passive, never merely relax and take potluck, because then not only will your subconscious have free play to suggest whatever it wants to your mind, but also the astral or psychic world can easily invade and confuse your transcendental practices. Even for contentless meditation you must be very alert; only enjoy that a transformation is taking place in your mental content.
In time you will be able to meditate without the need of an object! Your mind will be perfectly focused and responsive without outer or inner objects.
As you develop in your concentration and the content of your mind becomes one-pointed, you are ready to move to the second stage of transcendental consciousness. However, keep in mind that with practice you will be concentrating on progressively more subtle inner objects: light in the forehead, love in the heart area, for example, rather than apples.
When the object of concentration shines in the mind without interruption you are, in the opinion of many masters, in a state of contemplation. For example, your mind is easily aware of the apple; no other thoughts intrude or interrupt your perfect flow of consciousness as it steadily holds the awareness of the apple. The apple, the meditation object, shines and abides in your mind. You are aware that you are contemplating the apple and nothing intrudes or distracts you from the very pleasant, near-exhilarating perfect use of your mind. Your mind is not rebelling, fighting, or resisting. It is serenely and very cooperatively maintaining the content which you have chosen.
Now the content of your mind looks like this:
Apple . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
In time, as you are consolidated in this lovely experience, your higher consciousness will enable your acceleration to a higher level of contemplation. Likely it will do this by first releasing the apple and you will abide in a contentless state for a few seconds or a few minutes. If you maintain your alertness you may suddenly experience a universal or extremely vast perspective of the apple of its meaning, of its essence. Often perfect concentration on a specific object goes on to become, when the contemplation is also perfect, a realization of universal aspects or attributes within the object of meditation in this case, the life or essence of the apple. Your mind simply becomes more subtle, vastly more aware, and specific objects are seen in their universal aspects.
Now to make an enriching, important digression: it's important to note that some scholars and adepts believe contemplation instead of concentration should be the term used for the first activity of transcendental consciousness, that concentration follows contemplation.
In their analysis, the average seeker especially in the modern world has a particularly turbulent mind. In many cases, even after many days of practice, it is nearly impossible to concentrate the mind on an apple or an elephant with success. The aspirant should not give up hope but should instead first become familiar with the object by observing it in a friendly way and asking the mental content to become more focused through a contemplative process such as asking oneself, "What do my senses tell me about this apple?"
The aspirant then considers what the eyes, ears, nose, sense of touch and taste reveal to him about the object which he is striving to focus upon one-pointedly.
Another question then follows after the first has been considered fully: "What do my mind and memory tell me about this apple?" Present and past thoughts about the apple are then brought up and duly noted.
Another question is asked: "What do my feelings and emotions tell me about this apple?"
Similar questions are raised until your whole being mentally, emotionally, physically is focused on the apple. In this process the mental content becomes readily gathered and focused on the apple. This process of gathering and reflecting is what several masters and scholars call contemplation.
These masters go on to say that when the mind is so gathered, it most easily holds the meditation object the apple still. And when the object becomes perfectly still in the mind, the one-pointed mind these masters call this one-pointed stage concentration, or mind poise.
So, you see, the differences about the progression of transcendental consciousness are important, thoughtful, and quite helpful. In the first method, based on concentration, one tries to hold the physical form of the apple in the mind. In the second method, based on contemplation, one asks questions about the object, gradually centering and settling the consciousness on the object. You must determine which process is easiest for you. Don't try to do a hard process if you can do an easy one. Either start with concentration as we used it first in this lesson, or start with contemplation, as mentioned here, and get on your way.
Likely you should also be told about one more consideration. The meditation object does not necessarily have to be still. While stillness is generally desirable, some people have a particularly difficult time concentrating on a still object. They find it easier to concentrate on the movement of the breath, or to think of a bird flying through the sky, or a fish swimming through the infinite ocean.
If you have difficulty maintaining your mental content on a still object after two weeks of trying, then you may wish to change your object to a moving one; and the motion of your awareness may enable you to more easily avoid distractions and disruptions of your thought.
Hopefully, mentioning the two views of the first steps of transcendental consciousness, as well as the still or moving object, will help you find the best way for you. Later on, when you have learned transcendental consciousness, you can enjoy the richness of these abilities by focusing on different objects over a period of several years. The beauty and joy of meditation are great rewards, in addition to the practical value of having easy access to your higher consciousness.
During contemplation (that state in which the object of meditation shines in the mind), the object is the one content which stays in the mind easily without interruption, distraction, limitation, or distortion. You are aware you are contemplating and your experience is beautiful. Your mind easily maintains the apple, the meditation object, and has no inclination to wander or halt your contemplation.
What yet remains to occur? After all, your mind is clear and undisturbed. Still, there remains a very definite problem, a big barrier to transcendental consciousness. Can you see what it is? Let's go forward.
In contemplation you are subjectively aware you are meditating. Believe it or not, your sense of self and your emotional nature intrude on your experience of meditation. In fact, your sense of self, with all its limited past experience, stands as a barrier to the direct experience and superconscious perception of the meditation object. You are very limited in what you can know of your meditation object or your higher self. The quality of meditation must go forward if you are to experience your awakening and find yourself enlightened. That forward step is called continuation.
Through very alert and appreciative contemplation, plus a willingness to allow yourself to rise to an even higher plane of perfect mystic awareness, continuation must occur. Continuation reveals the spiritual essence and nature of whatever youre meditating upon. This great breakthrough subsequently enables you to realize the spiritual nature of all persons and things. Eastern mystics call this sublime state of higher consciousness samadhi. Samadhi means "the thing itself Spirit." In samadhi, i.e., continuation, you enjoy minutes of total freedom from limiting egoic and subjective opinions or illusions. Continuation is not a different process from contemplation or concentration. It is a natural, although dumbfounding, improvement in the quality of your alertness, of your attention and attunement.
As you maintain your contemplation and the object easily shines in your mind, free of interruption or distortion, continuation begins. There will be a magnificent change in your meditative process. You cannot make this change happen. The ego, as long as it's active, defies and thwarts continuation. All you can do is cooperate and allow your alertness and attention to increase without straining straining will frustrate the process too.
Also, if you try to reason your way into continuation you will discover you are inhibiting and preventing the process from occurring.
After continuation you will ecstatically return to awareness of yourself and the world around you. But you will remember what you realized in your heavenly visit with Spirit. Youll live your life much enriched by your special wisdom and expanded heart.
Some people fool themselves in thinking that their vivid fantasies or reveries are periods of mystic continuation, so its helpful to keep the following description of continuation (or samadhi) in mind.
What happens is this: In continuation the object of meditation, the person who is meditating, and the act of meditation become one. In the state of continuation you temporarily suspend your sense of separateness from the object of meditation. You merge with it and know it deeply and intimately. You also lose consciousness that you are meditating because of your total awareness of the object.
A Magnificent Unity
In continuation you are experiencing the faculty of geniuses who become totally absorbed in what theyre doing, completely forgetting themselves or any considerations of technique or their appearance: they are rapt, engaged completely and totally in their music, art, or inventiveness. They bring to humanity the wealth of higher consciousness, the inspired answers, solutions, and inventions from superconscious realms.
You will experience the greatest thrill of your life excepting possibly the exalted moods of relationship mentioned in our YogaWorld website. The thrill is indescribable. It is pure being, free of false, egoic opinion and egocentricity. Continuation is total apprehension of the object meditated upon, which in most cases, as you can assume, will not be an apple.
This indescribably blissful period of freedom from the tyranny of the ego and the mind, while experiencing the pure source of consciousness itself, is life-giving and ever so regenerative. You sense in samadhi the possibilities of life which are available to every human being when the barriers of mental, emotional, and egoic chaos are temporarily suspended.
Various analogies are used to describe continuation. None of them are adequate. However, as Ernest Wood, author and teacher of higher consciousness observed, samadhi is like that point at which separate notes become music. It is similar to the point at which two separate gases oxygen and hydrogen are fused together and an entirely new and different substance, which is the product of hydrogen and oxygen, suddenly comes into being as water.
In continuation, ignorance and loneliness are suddenly let go. A grand sense of well being and of one's true nature are finally discovered! Truly the notes of one's life, the separate thoughts and actions, all the events, major and minor, suddenly merge into a meaning and purpose undreamed of! A significance, a unity of all the loose ends occurs.
St. Thomas Aquinas, considered the greatest intellectual theologian of his time, spent most of his life writing a vast treatise on God and the universe. Then, at a mass in Naples in 1273 A.D., he actually experienced a vision and a great samadhi. Later, he said, "I cannot go on . . . all that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me." 1 At last he was seeing from his true nature. His writing had greatly missed expression of the reality he now beheld. The "notes" of his life had become music.
The Main Focus
These threefold steps concentration, contemplation, and continuation comprise the necessary faculty of the mind for your discovery of higher consciousness. After developing these three aptitudes, you will find that ignored levels of awareness within yourself become revealed. Very likely the focus of your meditation will become your soul, your inner self. You will make your inner self, or a symbol of that inner self, your meditation object. In becoming skilled at moving through the levels from concentration through contemplation and into continuation you will find that you can realize your soul!
You will know your true nature, and (through continuation) have a direct, unburdened, and clear experience of your Creator. You will see the essential consciousness and energy the spirit of this universe. Through a series of continuations on progressively subtle objects, you will one day realize your true nature and stand free from the bondage to ignorance and ego. As one master says, "When you have transcendental consciousness, you realize you have everything."
It's up to you!
May you quickly progress toward your delightful fulfillment.
1 New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Volume 14, pages 108-109