It is the hearing of truth coupled with the practice of meditation that really moves mountains in the realm of spiritual consciousness. This is because meditation allows truth to sink in and gain a firm foothold in our psyche, which, in turn, imprints that truth upon and illuminates our consciousness.
But the fact that there are many different schools and approaches to meditation can be confusing and even a little daunting. For this reason we advocate a simple streamlined approach, one largely void of prescribed techniques, methodologies, and the use of props—an approach we call universal meditation.
Meditation is like physical exercise, in that any amount we do is more beneficial than nothing. If we do not have a lot of time, even ten minutes a day can affect our state of consciousness for the better. In fact, ten minutes of truly focused meditation will do more for us than three hours of distracted thinking. For many people, however, the prospect of “getting into” meditation feels burdensome. This is because they associate it with the long grueling hours of an inordinately disciplined approach and are repelled not only by the time aspect involved but also by the idea that it just seems too hard. But the practice of universal meditation is different. We say, “Do whatever you can, whenever you can, and enjoy not only the benefits but the process as well.”
All of the spiritual masters recognized the value of practicing some form of meditation and encouraged their disciples accordingly. Meanwhile, the New Testament, while not referring directly to Jesus’ views on this matter, clearly infers his advocating of it. How can we be certain of this? Because as a powerful embodiment of the Christ Spirit, Jesus not only inculcated the need for men to gain dominion over their inner world; he demonstrated that dominion in all his own deeds. In other words, Jesus effectually showed us what a human being can do when his or her spiritual consciousness becomes thoroughly leavened with truth and light—a leavening that can only happen through gaining total dominion over one’s own inner workings. And how do we gain that dominion? One way is through the practice of meditation. Jesus also referred to these matters parabolically, such as is found in his parable about a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his subjects and then urged them to come and partake with him in his rich bounty. But not only were most of his subjects too busy and preoccupied with the things of the world to attend, they simply did not value the king’s offering. One man, however, who did show up was also an affront to the king but for a different reason. This man had accepted the king’s invitation, but something else about him was not right and rendered him unworthy. This was his lack of spiritual consciousness development—referred to in the parable by the observation that he was not dressed in wedding clothes. To paraphrase: this man had not done the work of gaining dominion over his own psyche that is a prerequisite for coming into the presence of the king (a symbol of God)—a work that is greatly facilitated by the practice of meditation. (Matthew 22:1-14).
It was through Jesus’ deeds, however, many of which were intended to be living parables, that he most poignantly stressed the need for a spiritual seeker to achieve self- dominion and inner wholeness. In many instances he plainly demonstrated his authority over the human mind’s wayward tendencies. This is what his casting out of demons was all about. And one time, to the utter astonishment of his closest disciples, he even commanded the wind and stormy waves of the sea to be still. Immediately, the wind died down, the surface of the water became as smooth as glass, and all was completely calm. As a parable, this particular deed speaks myriads about the capabilities of the Christ—that it, which is another way of referring to our highest state of spiritual consciousness, can exercise complete dominion over every aspect of life on the earthly plane, including the human mind. The storm on the water represents our unbridled thoughts and emotions; the command to “be still” represents the goal of meditation, and the instant calming of the waters represents the dependable result of our practice. (Mark 4:37-39).
In universal meditation there are only two non-negotiable requirements. One is the need to sit still and cease from all other doing and involvement—to give yourself over wholehearted in the present tense to this one activity only. The other requirement is finding a quiet place where you will be able to hear your own thoughts. These are basic and sensible requirements. For, trying to meditate while performing some other task simply does not work very well. And having to filter out imposing sounds and noises can quickly lead to distraction and frustration.
It is also helpful to designate and hold to a specific amount of time for any given session, even if it is only ten minutes. You can, of course, extend that time period, if you choose to, but try not to cut it short. The reason for this is that meditation is foremost about exercising dominion over our conditioned thoughts and emotions. When we make a conscious commitment to a certain length of time and hold to it no matter how we are feeling on any given day we are sending a message to our conditioned mental persona that we mean business. Whereas, if that persona senses a lack of commitment and a weakness in our resolve, it will make sport of us.
The goal of all meditation practice is the same. It is the development and subsequent strengthening of our own watchful presence. This is how meditation differs from mere thinking. When we think, we tend to be unconscious of where our thoughts are coming from or what their purpose is, if any. We just let them come down the chute haphazardly and somewhat indulgently. But the disciplinary aspect involved in meditation is that we progressively develop an awareness of the part of ourselves that we might call our higher Self and then learn to shine the light of that awareness in upon both our thoughts and our emotions, thereby calling them into account. To put it another way, we remove our identification from all our familiar ingrained patterns of thinking and emoting and focus it instead on our higher conscious awareness. This enables us to observe our inner workings, which then imparts to us a new perspective—a sense of detachment and distance. This makes it possible for us to transcend our normal mundane consciousness—a dynamic that is especially beneficial when we are dealing with some of life’s difficult problems and entanglements. Thus this one simple discipline of shifting and redefining our sense of self can have a great liberating effect upon our psyche.
How do we recognize and establish our higher Self? We recognize it by the very act of watching. Formerly, when our identity was bound up with our conditioned thoughts and emotions, we did not stand back and watch them. Rather we were carried away with and controlled by them. There was no distance between them and us. But in meditation we listen and watch. Then as we are thusly engaged, at some point it dawns on us that there is a transcendent inner aspect of our being calmly taking in our life’s drama without being sucked into it and getting lost in the fray. And the more familiar we become with this higher transcendent Self, the more established and easily accessible it becomes. When that happens, our task is simply to continue to strengthen our identification with it and learn more about it. We might ask ourselves, “Who is this watchful presence? Where did it come from? What is its nature and makeup, etc.?” Questions such as these unlock the door to true self-discovery.
Every human being possesses this faculty of a higher watchful Self. But unless we actually practice bringing it forth into awareness we tend to ignore it and forget that it is there. Conversely, the more we practice its presence, the more pronounced and vital it becomes. This then is the purpose of meditation. And the fact that everyone is capable of doing this makes it a universal practice.
Of course, all of this takes time and a little work. Recognizing our higher Self can happen relatively quickly and effortlessly, but getting familiar with this formerly neglected part of our inner makeup usually takes time and persistence. Motivation for this effort is rarely lacking, however, as it does not take long before we begin to experience some of its wondrous liberating effects upon our psyche. Eventually, we discover this amazing truth: it is this process of getting to know our higher watchful Self that leads to the overcoming of all life’s difficulties and ultimately results in the enlightenment of consciousness.
How can this be? Because, in truth, our higher Self is not just another aspect of our human makeup; it is an aspect of the divine life planted in us. This means that coming to know this part of ourselves is tantamount to coming to know God. And the more we come to identify with this divine implanted essence, the more we are set free from the limited conditioned human sense of perception. We lay hold of that which Jesus called eternal life. So you can see how valuable meditation can be, how it is really more than just a way to improve our mental functions or become more relaxed. It can be the vehicle that literally takes us into the heavenly plane of consciousness and ultimately ushers in the New Age.
The practice of meditation enables us to delineate the workings of our complex human psyche. This delineation, in turn, lends to us a sense of expanded perspective and self-control. Formerly, when we were at the mercy of our own conditioned thoughts and emotions, these inundated us with their troubling discordant energy. They also tended to click us into a reactive mode, which often resulted in the making of poor choices and difficult circumstances. So it is not overstating the matter to say that without meditation happiness and satisfaction in our lives will be elusive and fleeting at best.
But through the practice of meditation we are, little by little, empowered to make right choices and change our lives for the better. We begin by simply observing our inner workings, but soon we move on to being able to interact with them. The Bible calls this the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). Any inner processes that we judge to be unworthy and unrepresentative of our higher Self, we then have the power to highlight and press “delete.”
Our higher Self is, in truth, our authoritative Self. It is the one that should have been in authority all along. But that role was usurped by our conditioned egoic self. Now we have the power to not only change our former self’s behavioral patterns and still its storms; we can literally make it disappear altogether, if we want to. Instead of it calling all the shots in our life and making us wallow in its turbulent and discordant energies, we now can decide its fate. Thus our fortunes are reversed.
As we gain dominion over our inner world through the help of universal meditation, our life will undoubtedly change dramatically. We have already seen how our values are revamped. But now our behavior is also sure to undergo change, as if we were no longer the same person. The letting go of situations and involvements that once were a source of uncleanness and upheaval to us will be reasonable and forthcoming. We will not need to force anything. Upsetting emotional entanglements that we once felt powerless to extricate ourselves from will naturally fall by the wayside. Sinful and sensually indulgent behaviors with their corresponding guilt will turn sour. Addictive patterns will be broken asunder. Relationships with others will deepen and become more fulfilling. And your own sense of happiness and well-being will be irrepressible.
Then as the ultimate outgrowth of this life change, you will begin to notice growth and expansion in your state of consciousness—greater light, awareness, and power. And from this new perspective you will look back at your former dark and restricted state of consciousness and wonder how you endured it as long as you did.
As this new consciousness dawns in the hearts of individuals, our world will also begin to change. Violence, hatred, war, bigotry, and oppression will gradually give way to peace, tolerance, temperance, and love. Treating another human being as anything less than a brother or sister will be a forgotten mindset. Indeed we will all adopt and live by the biblical injunction to love one another as we love ourselves. We will no longer covet what our neighbor has or try to control or manipulate him. Why not? Because we will each learn to get what we need directly from the source of life Itself—that which we call God. When this universal Christ Spirit dawns in the hearts of a multitude of people living on the earth, the New Age of peace and goodwill among men will have arrived.