Body Mind Soul
Right Alignment through Meditation1
The goal of meditation is the ability to contact the divine inner self, and through the contact, to come to a realization of the unity of that self with all selves and the All-Self…not just theoretically, but as a fact in nature.
The Light of the Soul
The above excerpt is from Alice Bailey’s commentary on The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali called The Light of the Soul—a bridging book to help people new to the Path contact the inner light and develop the powers of the intuition and higher mind. It is based on the premise that as conscious thinkers—made in the image of God—we are endowed with the capacity to think and co-create with ‘the divine Thinker’ in Whom we live, move and have our being—through the power of thought. We are living beings bequeathed with a spark of mind by our Creator—a spark of that great mental fire, which is the animating principle of every human being.
Through the power of mind we are capable of tapping the wellspring of divine wisdom and developing the powers of the soul. We achieve this through a meditation process that synchronizes, over time, the meditation of the lower self with the higher.
The Ageless Wisdom tells us that symbolically (and literally) the soul on its own plane “is in deep meditation during the whole cycle of physical incarnation.”2 It sits in “meditation deep” envisioning a high purpose expressive of some aspect of the divine Plan, which it perceives on soul levels, and with which it intends to cooperate as the soul incarnate in form awakens to its true Self. The meditating soul transmits rhythmic streams of energy (incorporating divine ideas or elements of the Plan) to its reflection in the lower worlds, hoping to elicit a response from its instrument on earth. Its intention is to communicate these ideas to the personal self—to inspire the soul in incarnation to active service in the world.
After many cycles of incarnation, and numerous failed attempts at making contact, the individual in the world of form, the incarnating self—by now acquainted with the practice of meditation—near the end of the evolutionary journey begins to synchronize its meditative efforts with the higher impulses emanating from the soul on its own level. The soul in form finally begins to respond to the ‘psychic gift waves’ from higher realms. Little by little, soul light enters the dreams, visions and higher meditation experiences of the individual—illuminating the mind of the ‘personality’ in the outer world. As this happens, the higher self is enabled to use the lighted mind to control the personal self as a threefold instrument3—gradually bringing the sometimes rebellious lower nature into alignment with higher spiritual intent. All of this is made possible through the power of meditation.
Meditation of this sort stands in marked contrast to meditation as presented by many psychologists of today, who view it simply as “…a great way to increase…resilience to stress…and calm your nervous system.4 As true as these claims of stress relief through meditation may be, learning to calm the self in this way is only the beginning of what can become a lifelong spiritual practice. Individuals who come to understand and embrace spiritual meditation, in its highest expression, discover a golden key to the light of wisdom, to ultimate freedom, and to conscious spiritual living. For them, meditation can be seen as integral to progress on the path—a means of approach to higher knowledge and the doorway to self-realization and (ultimately) to the group consciousness of true soul identity.
Supporting this idea, Patanjali taught that meditation is the tool by which aspirants to higher truth can penetrate what he calls “the raincloud of knowable things.” Through meditation the seeker comes in touch with ideas emanating from the Divine Thinker—the One in Whom we live, move and have our being. The Tibetan Master, Djwhal Khul, describes it this way:
The aspirant, weary of the eternal round of his own futile and unimportant thoughts, seeks to tap the resources of this "rain cloud" and so precipitate upon the earth some of the thoughts of God. He seeks to work so that he can further the manifestation of the ideas of the Creator. To do this he has to fulfill certain initial requirements [to]…
1. Know the true meaning of meditation [and]
2. Align with facility the soul, the mind and the brain…5
It is to this right alignment of soul, mind, and brain that this article attempts to bring focus. As Patanjali taught, we can learn to transfer consciousness from out of the physical world into subtler realms through right alignment of the different aspects of our nature. This transfer of consciousness is what will, in the end, grant conscious access to the hidden realities of the soul on its own plane.
Patanjali tells us that the transfer of conscious focus proceeds in three stages:
- The shift of instinctual consciousness from the physical body into the head.
- The shift of consciousness out of the head (or brain) into the mind or mental body.
- The shift of consciousness from the mental body to the soul.
The transfer of consciousness through alignment with the higher self can be greatly facilitated, at each stage, through the power of intent. Therefore, as we hold the intent to align with higher consciousness clearly in mind each time that we sit down to meditate, our practice will become increasingly effective and our ability to shift energy upward will grow. Holding this in mind, let us review some of the key elements of right alignment through meditation.
- The goal of meditation is contact with the soul to gain access to higher knowledge.
- Alignment is the technique and soul contact is the objective.
- The wisdom of the true self (direct knowing of higher truth)—gained through meditation—is to be used in service to the greater good.
- It is through the mind (illumined by the light of the soul) that conscious control of the personality vehicles becomes possible.
- It is through the power of mind (through the building power of thought) that consciousness can be gradually shifted upward from a lower to a higher point of focus.
- And finally, as Patanjali teaches, the shift in consciousness occurs in stages.
It is important to realize that the three phases of development are not rigidly separated one from another, but overlap to some degree as they unfold over the course of lifetimes. Nonetheless, for the sake of clarity, we will consider each stage of growth as a discrete rung on the ladder of return—presenting each one in sequence.
For the first stage (the shift of instinctual consciousness into the head) meditators learn to concentrate attention in the ajna center (the chakra between the
eyebrows).6 It is from here that we learn to direct the forces of the body, and it is from this point of focus that we practice withdrawing force from the lower energy centers (chakras) to the higher ones. Through the power of thought, using visualization and the faculty of the creative imagination (with much practice), the transfer of consciousness from the lower to the higher is eventually attained.
For the second stage of the meditation work (transferring consciousness from the head or brain into the mind), the practice of visualization shifts to subtler levels and the student learns to align the three bodies: physical, astral (i.e., emotional) and mental—working with the power of thought. The meditator’s point of focus, or intention, shifts from the physical ajna center7 to mental levels.8 From this point on, the disciple9 in training begins to work consciously on the level of the mind, anchoring the consciousness there to build ‘thoughtforms’ out of mental substance. He or she learns to envision ‘the ideal form’—the aligned and integrated physical-astral-mental instrument of the soul. Once again the work proceeds through the power of the thought.
Having achieved a degree of success in shifting/transferring the forces of the lower energy centers to the energy centers above the diaphragm (Stage I), and having developed an integrated threefold instrument for the soul through the power of the illumined mind (Stage II), the student of meditation enters the third stage of the process and begins to build ‘the rainbow bridge’ or bridge of light between the mind and the soul.10 The Sanskrit name for this ‘soul thread of light’ is the antahkarana (derived from antah or ‘inner’ and karana, or ‘instrument’).11 It is called the rainbow bridge because it is constituted of all the colors of the seven rays, composed of seven strands of energy, or seven streams of force.12
As should be evident to the reader the goals of spiritual meditation are not achieved in a single lifetime. Many lifetimes of practice are needed to shift focus consciously into the head, to shift awareness into the mind and achieve mental polarization, and finally to build the lighted path between personality-mind and the soul on its own level. It takes long and steady practice to develop the building powers of an illumined meditator, and to consciously align the thoughts of the personal self with the divine thinker within.
This building process is a key function of meditation through right alignment—called in the wisdom teachings creative meditation. It involves the use of the creative power of mind to think through into existence that which the soul intends to become. Deepak Chopra has said: “Everything that happens in the universe begins with intention.” The wisdom teachings tell us that it is through right alignment with the heartfelt intention of the true Self that the purposes of the soul can eventually come to inspire our individual creative meditations and bring soul energies into living expression in the world.
As we sit down to meditate…close our eyes…calm the body and focus gently in the head, we might do well to remember the power of higher spiritual intention—affirming inwardly that our intent is to make soul contact, to align with our true nature, and to build the inner bridge of light. If we begin in this way, and sustain this heartfelt intent in each of our meditations, progress on the Way is guaranteed. In the end—whether in this lifetime or in a future existence—the shift in consciousness from outer persona to soul, which the soul has long envisioned, will definitely occur.
It is useful to begin with the technique of acting ‘as if’ we were already in contact with the soul. As the Tibetan Master assures us, “In the early stages [of meditation]…the instrument used is the creative imagination.” By acting as if we are capable of creating through the power of thought, we gradually lay the groundwork for conscious contact with the higher Self.
In due course, “…when the as if imaginative consciousness is no longer useful…” we will become “consciously aware” of that which we have—“with hope and spiritual expectancy sought to create.” We will discover the bridge of light “as an existent fact…[and know] past all controversy that ‘faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’"13
We will be linked via a living bridge of light to the guiding presence within—empowered to live under the direct guidance and inspiration of the true self—“the soul [which] looks out upon its own world, sees the vision of things as they are, contacts reality and 'knows God.'"14
2 A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, Alice A. Bailey, p. 998.
3 The personality living in the world is threefold in nature, consisiting of the physical-etheric, astral (or emotional), and mental bodies.
5 A Treatise on White Magic, p. 456.
7 Focus in the ajna, in actuality, involves concentrating attention in a center in the subtle etheric body. In the Ageless Wisdom the ajna is one of seven energy centers which comprise the vital or etheric vehicle. This etheric form is considered to be ‘the true physical form’—underlying and interpenetrating the dense physical structure. The ajna is the directing center for energy manipulation and a key point of focus for personality integration.
8 The meditator learns through practice to maintain focus in the ajna center, but, at the same time, shifts attention inward and upward into the subtle realm of the mind and eventually the soul.
9 Disciples are individuals living under the conscious control of the soul. They are on the Path of Return to Spirit, seeking to achieve illumination, unfold the love nature, and build a sensitive response to the Inner Guides of the Race within the spiritual Hierarchy. Their intent is to serve the greater good in cooperation with the Divine Plan. Increasingly they sense reality through the intuition (or direct knowing of the true Self).
10 To be specific, a bridge in consciousness is constructed from the concrete mind to the causal body (the dwelling place of the soul) on higher levels of the mind.
11 Because sound and listening in the silence play such an important part in meditation work, ‘karana’ is sometimes translated as ‘ear’—rendering antahkarana then as: ’inner ear’or even ‘etheric ear.’ It is said that, to those who are sensitive enough, "the colours of …[the] rays are heard vibrating.” See The Rays and the Initiations, Alice A. Bailey, p. 505.
12 This bridge of light is imbued with the energies of each of the seven rays—the primary building forces of the universe. It is built over lifetimes by the incarnating soul. The soul manifests through many personalities during a long cycle of incarnations—expressing soul life on each of the seven rays many times, imbuing the connecting bridge to the soul with all the ray forces—over time.
13 The Rays and the Initiations, Alice A. Bailey, pp. 443-44.
14 The Light of the Soul, Alice A. Bailey, p. 213.