According to many esoteric teachings, the purpose of meditation is not to relax, to relieve stress, lower blood pressure or reduce anger. These are the side-effects of meditation. The purpose of meditation is to become aware of and connected with our Higher Self, with Divine Consciousness.
The Theosophical Society doesn’t provide its students with step-by-step meditation instructions. Perhaps this is because, in the Third Fundamental Proposition of The Secret Doctrine, the expression “Self-induced and self-devised efforts” is used when speaking about how human evolution goes forward. Also, HPB was totally against ritual and ceremonies and creating a specific meditation would probably be construed as the only one Theosophists should do, which would then make it dogmatic, and it would eventually become like a ritual.
Meditation is often divided into three stages: Concentration Meditation Contemplation
Most of us will spend our entire life working on the first stage. Exercises include concentrating on your breath, focusing on the flame of a candle or staring at a crystal. As we try any of these exercises, we find that concentrating on one particular item or function for any length of time is next to impossible. However, we should not get discouraged. Meditation is a science of a lifetime. For most, it will take what seems like forever to quiet our ‘monkey mind’ and be able to remain focused on one thing (breath, flame, crystal) for more than a few seconds. With practice, however, we find that bit by bit we can hold our mind still, and that should be very encouraging. We have all heard the expression “slow and steady wins the race.” While this is not a race, we need to acknowledge that this is a slow process, and we should not be discouraged and give up. Concentration is the ability to keep the mind one-pointed, to keep our mind wandering less.
The second stage, Meditation, is when one can remain focused on one thought, one deity, one ideal for an extended period of time without the ‘monkey mind’ interrupting.
Contemplation is the highest form of meditation, where one is one with the All.
“Neither by the eyes, nor by spirit, nor by the sensuous organs, nor by austerity, nor by sacrifices, can we see Brahma. Only the pure, by the light of wisdom and meditation, can see the pure Deity.”
(“Gems from the East,” precepts and axioms compiled by HPB)
Lyn Trotman has been a member of the Theosophical Society in America for 29 years. She is currently the President of the New York Theosophical Society and manager of the Society's Quest Bookshop in NYC.