Meditation with an objectby Patanjali
17 Meditation with an object follows these stages:
- exterior examining
- interior judicial action
- realization of individual being.
In the practice of meditation, a beginning may be made by fixing the attention upon some external object, such as a sacred image or picture, or a part of a book of devotion. In the second stage, one passes from the outer object to an inner pondering upon its lessons. The third stage is the inspiration, the heightening of the spiritual will, which results from this pondering. The fourth stage is the realization of one’s spiritual being, as enkindled by this meditation.
- After the exercise of the will has stilled the psychic activities, meditation rests only on the fruit of former meditations.
In virtue of continued practice and effort, the need of an external object on which to rest the meditation is outgrown. An interior state of spiritual consciousness is reached, which is called “the cloud of things knowable” (Book IV, 29).
- Subjective consciousness arising from a natural cause is possessed by those who have laid aside their bodies and been absorbed into subjective nature.
Those who have died, entered the paradise between births, are in a condition resembling meditation without an external object. But in the fullness of time, the seeds of desire in them will spring up, and they will be born again into this world.
- For the others, there is spiritual consciousness, led up to by faith, valour, right mindfulness, one-pointedness, perception.
It is well to keep in mind these steps on the path to illumination: faith, valour, right mindfulness, one-pointedness, perception. Not one can be dispensed with; all must be won. First faith; and then from faith, valour; from valour, right mindfulness; from right mindfulness, a one-pointed aspiration toward the soul; from this, perception; and finally, full vision as the soul.
- Spiritual consciousness is nearest to those of keen, intense will.
The image used is the swift impetus of the torrent; the kingdom must be taken by force. Firm will comes only through effort; effort is inspired by faith. The great secret is this: it is not enough to have intuitions; we must act on them; we must live them.
- The will may be weak, or of middle strength, or intense.
Therefore there is a spiritual consciousness higher than this. For those of weak will, there is this counsel: to be faithful in obedience, to live the life, and thus to strengthen the will to more perfect obedience. The will is not ours, but God’s, and we come into it only through obedience. As we enter into the spirit of God, we are permitted to share the power of God.
Higher than the three stages of the way is the goal, the end of the way.