Live Youthfully Now
Russell A. Kemp
Meditation and Eternal Values
The word meditation speaks of a practice that is at once an art, a science, and an instant education. There is a spiritual tradition that in ancient times, when life was more simple, less complicated, and less hurried than it is for most of us today, meditation was practiced on a wide scale by young and old, rich and poor, learned and unlearned alike. Since the people had few books, or none, and the repositories of knowledge gained in the past were in men’s memory, communicated verbally to one another, naturally people were accustomed to the idea of knowledge being contained and stored in the mind, not in books or written words.
Since mind was man’s own possession, he quite properly felt that the knowledge he needed was already in his own mind, and it required only the practice of certain modes of mind action, known as meditation, to uncover or bring forward the desired knowledge and make it consciously his. This accounts in part for the widespread use of meditation in ancient times.
Today, deluged as we are by printed words, bombarded by visual stimuli through television and movies, deafened by the barrage of radio programs, dulled by the monotonously soothing background music so common in the commercial world, we are too busy coping (or trying to cope) with the responses of our senses to do much more than merely react to them. We are kept so busy in thus reacting to the demands made upon our mind by the overstimulated activity of our senses that pure thought, mental activity for the sake and pleasure of mental activity, is almost impossible. We consider ourself fortunate if we can sit down quietly and read a book once in a while.
But even here, we are depending on our visual sense for the stimulation of mental activity. We are not pleasantly and profitably engaged in mental activity which is concerned only with mental activity itself, with thinking suggested by thinking, with the necessary flow of ideas resulting from the impinging of other ideas upon our mind. No, we are following a prescribed pattern of thought coming to us from outside of ourself, and incited in the first place by the stimulation of our eyeballs and optic nerves. This is not to say that the reading of books should be discontinued.
But meditation, pleasant and profitable mental activity originating in self-chosen mental activity and the free play of interaction of idea and attention to those ideas, is even more necessary and beneficial to the mind than the best reading matter can be. We must revive the lost art of meditation. The knowledge of it still exists in the great racial subconscious which is available to us all. We can, by wisely directed and skillful persistence, recover from this great and arcane storehouse of secrets, known as the racial supermind, the knowledge of how to meditate effectively, fruitfully, and happily. And we shall thereby regain much of what we have lost from our own soul. To begin, an attitude such as this is helpful:
praise God for showing me how to meditate effectively, fruitfully, and happily.
How shall we meditate? And upon what subject will our mind be centered during this time? The subject we choose to meditate upon is of the first order of importance, not the way in which we do it. The way in which we shall meditate, the techniques (if there are any generally agreed upon), will be given to us in proportion as we choose subjects for meditation that are in keeping with what we are seeking to contact.
What we are seeking to contact by this use of our mind is the vast, serene, imperturbable Source of everything that has form. It is called by some the Oversoul. Emerson wrote eloquently of the Oversoul because in long periods of silent meditation upon certain eternal verities he had touched the great impersonal Mind, or soul of the universe, and he was moved to tell of its marked contrast to the feverish, scheming human intellect, which is the only form of intelligence known to many of us. A helpful affirmation would be:
Divine wisdom guides me in my choice of an object for meditation.
We gain a valuable clue to the correct practice of meditation. We must choose for our object of meditation something that is eternally true. True, that is, in the majestic higher sense or that word, which really means “sustaining an exact perpendicular to its source.” That which is true, in the case of a physical thing or structure standing upright on the earth’s surface, must have its center of gravity in exact perpendicular to its source of equilibrium.
In building a house, for instance, the building site must first be made level, and the foundation also must be level, at right angles to the walls it is to support. Everything must be “trued” in its “right” angle to the gravitational force. Otherwise the ceaseless tug of gravitational force will in time pull it down to earth. But if the foundation of the structure is level, and the uprights are truly upright, their right relation to their center of gravity then becomes an anchoring or sustaining force. Such were the principles worked out by ancient builders, who intuitively knew what “true” meant, in building a house or a temple.
But how shall we know what is true in choosing a subject for meditation? Why not choose the word true itself as a subject? Before attempting to meditate on this (or any subject) we must bring our mind into what might be called the meditative state. So let us proceed with the necessary steps in our mental preparation before we consider the word true any further. We shall return to it as soon as we have established the mood of meditation. Now for the first step in preparation.
We know that meditation is a certain kind of thought. It is calm thought, unhurried thought. Its object is to feel toward, to extend mental fingers toward, the soul of things. And the soul of things is infinitely unhurried, absolutely serene. It has to be.
If the source, the realm of cause, was hurried, it would be lacking in efficiency, because it was lacking in the time necessary to do properly that which was to be done. This is unthinkable – that an infinite Source, being infinite, could also be finite, that is, limited or lacking in some way. The two are mutually contradictory. The Infinite cannot lack anything. It cannot lack time, therefore it cannot be hurried.
Thus he who would contact the Infinite must first clear from his mind the sense of hurry, rush, fear, impatience, and lack which so plagues the human intellect. Let us make an affirmation for this purpose:
clear from my mind all sense of hurry, rush, fear, impatience, or lack.
In other words, the first thing to do in meditation is to assume the mood of meditation: I now assume the mood of meditation, which is peace, calmness, serenity.
How do we assume this mood? We choose to assume it, because we have the power to do so:
turn my thoughts to the idea of being calm, of being serene, of being at peace. I mentally feel for peace.
We can feel for peace mentally. Each of us has known what it means to be at peace in our own mind. We think of this memory, choosing quietly, serenely to be at peace: I choose quietly, serenely, to be at peace.
We make no effort. If our feelings are upset, in a turmoil, if we are tense from effort or anxiety, no matter. In fact, this sometimes makes it all the easier to choose peace. The mind can make an about face, a reverse, very easily. It can swing abruptly from tumult to peace, if the idea is calmly and persistently held before it of suddenly being at peace.
So we choose peace, but not in a belligerent attitude toward our enemies, the thoughts that are opposing it. They have no choice but to be as they are, because we gave them their character when we indulged ourself in thinking them. Why should we fight them? Why should we resist or resent them? They are only mistaken consequences of our own thought power. We turn from them and choose calmly to create the mood of peace, the mood of meditation. How delightful it is even to trv to think of peace, of being serenely one with the higher world!
This is what peace is. It is being one with the higher world, the world which rules which is always calm because it is always in command. Why should it not be calm? Can anything external to it challenge its authority? Can you imagine any power which would upset or prevent the majestic order of the stars in their comings and goings?
Well, then, neither can you imagine any power in the feverish, hurried, impatient little intellect to dethrone the majestic peace of the higher world in you. Yes, there is a higher world in you. If there were not, there would be no you, because there would be no center to sustain you in right relation to your cosmic source. Let us sum up what we have said here, in affirmative form:
I choose quietly, serenely, to be at peace.
I turn from any sense of contention and choose calmly to create the mood of peace, the mood of meditation.
How delightful it is to think of being at peace, of being serenely at one with the higher world, the soul of things!
Choosing to enter the timeless mood of meditation, in a calm, unhurried way, we find to our delight that this makes it easy for us to be at peace. The calmer and more quiet we can be, the sooner we shall feel in touch with the higher world within ourselt, which is ever beneficent toward its offspring, conscious man. Let us realize that we have done this:
I am one in thought with the higher world which rules, which is always calm.
Nothing can disturb the majestic peace of the higher world in me.
I choose to enter the timeless world of meditation in a calm, unhurried way. This makes it easy for me to be at peace.
Having become calm, having slowed down, breathing more slowly and easily, forgetting all sense of effort, we ask our conscious mind to cooperate with us in meditating on the word true. Both the conscious and subconscious mind are always eager to cooperate with us, if we only treat them gently and reassuringly. They like games. They like fun. They will undertake almost any task we ask of them and do it perfectly, if we present it to them as a game, as fun, as something to enjoy which also benefits us.
For this reason, no one should ever strain at meditation, or force himself gloomily and tragically to “concentrate.” The conscious and subconscious minds are not slaves. They do not like being coerced. They like being asked, persuaded, enticed even, into doing what you want them to do, in a spirit of fun.
Gently ask your conscious mind to cooperate with you in this splendid game of meditating on the word true. Tell it that there is a prize for meditating in this way. It will like the prize. It likes to win things just as much as you do.
So together you and your conscious mind are going to win the prize of knowing what this great secret is that lies hidden in the word true. Quietly think about it together. If you like, think about its primary meaning of sustaining an exact perpendicular to its source. Think of how much easier it is for you to walk upright than with your body stooped or bent over. You see, your body knows this secret or being true, in the sense of being upright.
As soon as your conscious mind seems to lose interest in the word, ask your subconscious mind to help you, and take up the game of meditation on the word true. Perhaps we get the idea: “That is true which not only maintains an exact perpendicular to its source, but rightly represents its source.”
For instance, if we were looking at a red rose, and we said, “I am looking at a white rose,” that statement would not be true, because the source of the statement was our looking at the red rose, and the statement did not rightly represent its source. It misrepresented it. It was an untrue statement.
A man who lies makes a statement which he knows misrepresents what is true. So in the particular degree to which he is lying, he is putting himself out of “true” with the real state of things. Therefore he is bound to suffer for it in some way. We are sure to lose respect for him if we find him in a lie. Why is this? Because of our inherent respect for what is true. To be true, to tell the truth, is of such tremendous importance because a lie instantly reveals a lack of some kind in us. We speak of a lie as a falsehood. The word false comes from a word meaning “to deceive.” And to deceive inherently carries the meaning of “to take from.” The one who lies to you or deceives you takes from you your right to know the truth.
So the liar is a thief, is he not? This is what makes lying so repugnant to us and robs the liar of our respect. He is a thief. And stealing violates the great sovereign law of the universe, the law of balance, or compensation, about which Emerson wrote so force-fully.
See what just a little meditation on the word true has revealed! To be sure, we started out with the basic idea that “true” meant sustaining a perpendicular or upright relationship with one’s source. And the word right originally meant straight, not crooked. Upright means honest. The liar is not honest. He is not properly representing his source. “Up” primarily represents a direction away from the center of gravity — that is, away from the earth. To be upright means to sustain a perpendicular with the source or center of gravity. And the upright man is one who is in balance or in equilibrium with this areat law of balance or compensation. He does not knowingly lie or cheat or steal in any way, because that would be untrue to his source, to his nature.
Perhaps the ancients meditated much on this word true, or on similar words, and thus established the fundamental concepts of truth, honesty, and justice which are all that hold the house of civilization together. Who can build a house on a foundation that is not true? A certain great nation boasted that it would build a civilization that would last a thousand years on a foundation of big lies, injustice, hate, and violation of all moral codes. Instead of lasting a thousand years, it lasted barely twelve years! The savage, unending warfare of universal forces against all that is not true pulled it down in ruins, and its founders with it.
Whatever is not true enters into a losing conflict with all the powerful, unremitting, ceaseless forces that automatically set out to correct or destroy anything not in right relation to its source.
So meditation on the word true has brought us face to face with such eternal values as honesty, up-rightness, honor, and justice. It has also educated us, if we were not familiar with the great values connected with such abstractions as honesty or truth. We acted scientifically because we proceeded in our mental quest for meaning along exact principles. That is, we followed the principle of beginning our meditation by assuming the mood of meditation, and then we followed the rule or principle of asking the cooperation of our conscious and subconscious minds, instead of trying to force them into action.
But the element of art also entered in. The root of “art,” ar, meaning to join, also implies the use of skill and power to produce a desired end. So art originally was the skill and power to produce a desired end; it meant the use of the human arms with skill. Nowadays art is defined as knowledge made efficient by skill.
We gained knowledge of the word true by enlisting the thinking skill of the conscious and subconscious minds. This made our meditation an art.
Now we have illustrated meditation as a process and a technique which can be followed and mastered by anybody who is willing to make the effort, and will devote the necessary time for this purpose. However, it should also be stressed that one must assume the harmonious, peaceful frame of mind necessary for meditation, to meditate on things that are true, or harmonious with truth.
One does not waste his time and energy thinking of deceit, loss, or personal matters in this kind of meditation. He chooses for his subject words connected with eternal values. Words such as love, wisdom, beauty, peace, light, are tremendous subjects for meditation. They induce harmonious thoughts.
Harmony, says Joseph Shipley in his “Dictionary of Word Origins,” was originally a term not in music, but in carpentry. It meant “to fit together.” He says that both the Greeks and the Indians have a carpenter god. In Christianity, Jesus, the Son of God, was a carpenter. In the beginning, wood was the primary life stuff, of which all things are made. “So it is no historical accident, but a mythical necessity, that the God be referred to as a carpenter.”
Harmony usually suggests a pleasing concord of sounds, or of proportions, or of colors. And concord suggests agreement. So harmonious thoughts are thoughts in agreement with the truth or reality of our being. Thoughts which do not clash or conflict with Truth, or with eternal things, are harmonious thoughts.
Thoughts of eternal verities, in harmony with the true state of things in God’s world, fit in with the unspoken but potent desires of the soul to be fed with its “bread from heaven,” that is, with beautiful ideas from God’s world. In its relationship toward God (that of a child to its parents), the soul depends on the invisible world of God’s kingdom for its sustenance and nourishment, just as an earthly child depends on its parents for food, clothing, and shelter.
If the human child is not properly fed and cared for, its growth rate suffers, and its well-being declines. If the soul of man, the child of the Eternal, is not properly fed with its own form of nourishment, its growth rate lags and its well-being suffers. The soul’s nourishment, as we have mentioned before, is absorbed by it from the higher Self, or “kingdom within,” in the form of true, divine ideas. Man’s soul has a peculiar empathy with these divine ideas; it welcomes them with fervor, as a nursing child takes the bottle. Being a mental-spiritual organism, the soul feeds on mental elements which embody in their primal meaning fundamental functional ideas, ideas that are part of the mental structure of the universe.
In one sense these are more than ideas, they are principles. We have spoken of the principle of up-rightness which governs the right relation of an upright structure, or of a being that walks upright, like man, to the earth’s vital forces which hold it in the form of gravitation. It is instructive to note that the principle of uprightness, which governs such structures as houses or tall buildings on the earth’s surface, and also governs man’s body, can be found in operation as well in the mental and emotional nature of man.
Man must be upright in his dealings with others, or (as we have seen) he begins at once to encounter a corrective tendency, an invisible, nonmechanical force which nevertheless operates with even greater precision than laws of matter. The laws of matter and gravitation contend with a material structure which is out of plumb, that is, out of line with the mechanical principles governing it. In the end, it will topple and fall.
What might be called the moral laws of the universe also contend with those who violate them, and since these laws are timeless and universal in their scope and power, no man or group of men or nation can contend with them for long. Men and women are primarily living souls, who exist as flesh beings by virtue of their connection with an intangible, nonphysical world of spiritual principles, ideas, and intangible essences.
This invisible world has its own laws, far more precise and unerring than any law of matter. These laws require exact obedience to their ruling principles, just as do mechanical laws. The soul of humanity intuitively knows this, and tries to obey its spiritual mandates. But the individual soul is often hampered by the mass ignorance of society, and sometimes wastes much of its energy in conforming outwardly to social customs or group morals which it innately knows to be wrong and destructive, while at the same time it resists inwardly such conformance, and reproaches itself for it.
In general the moral principles which have characterized the great, leading religions of the world are much the same. Not harming oneself, not harming one’s neighbor, honesty, charity, purity of motive, unselfishness, the giving of full value for value received — these are found in the most ancient religions, as in the Decalogue of Moses.
Yet in our own civilization, which boasts of its advancement, violations of such laws are so widespread that lawlessness almost threatens to become the norm, and lawfulness abnormal. Why should stringent laws be needed to curb the greed of corporations who seek to increase their profits through giving short value for what they receive, in the form of deceitful packaging and short weight? If our thesis is correct, that the universe is opposed to stealing in any form, no one can profit by giving less value for the price than he is supposed to give. Again, why do men risk years of imprisonment to rob banks or stores? They do not know that regardless of whether the state punishes them or not, the higher moral law of the universe is sure to do so, in the long run.
There is no time here to go into the operation of cause and effect, known as karmic law, or to explain its precise and unfailing reward or retribution. But karma is not a “heathen idea.” Both Jesus and Paul taught it, although of course Jesus came to show how transgressions of the karmic law could be forgiven by divine grace, if there was true repentance.
The point is, it we want to live effectively we must live not only in harmony with natural laws, but with moral and spiritual law. And, as Marcus Aurelius observed, “The surest path to perfect harmony is to recur to it ever and again.” How? Through meditation on harmonious thoughts. We know the rudiments of meditation: the deliberate choice of the meditative mood or frame of mind, the turning of our mind’s eye from ugliness, discord, or anything unhappy to the calm delight of thinking about eternal values.
The habit of meditativeness, the ability to place the mind in this condition, is easier to master than you think, because the mind and soul love to engage in this form of mental activity. It is like food and drink to them.
So now we are convinced of the value of cultivating and entertaining harmonious thoughts. This actually nourishes the soul, with its own peculiar form of nourishment. And when the soul is wel nourished, the body will be in better health, just as when the body is strong and vigorous we are more optimistic and less inclined to worry about tomorrow. And we have a method of beginning and practicing meditation. But is there any special way to evoke these harmonious thoughts?
The way to call harmonious thoughts into our mind is to think lovingly about them. Think, for instance, how much this word true now means to you. You have grasped through meditation something of its high value and its essential force for good in your life. Would you part with this knowledge of what true means? No, because you love and value the knowledge.
To summon a similar knowledge of any desired eternal value, you proceed in much the same way. You think with appreciation of what a deeper understanding of its meaning will do for you. It will enrich your life. It will certainly change your mentality for the better, since meditation on worthwhile words is an instantaneous education. So there is a rich prize of value and meaning wrapped up in this word you have selected for contemplation. Think lovingly of it. Look lovingly toward it, in the way you look at someone or something you love. Think: I would love to know more of the meaning of this word.
Then ask the cooperation of your conscious and subconscious minds in meditating on it. Immediate results are not always obtained; the mind has its own ways of responding to such efforts. Often in spite of ourself we are exerting pressure, trying to force or coerce the desired unfoldment of meaning into our conscious awareness, instead of happily and lovingly cooperating with the meditative process, letting it deliver.
When we try to coerce or use force, the resulting mental pressure clamps down on the involuntary mental activity that true meditation requires. As a result the delivery of the desired idea or illumination is blocked. Then the subconscious mind will await another time, when the mental tension is off, and a whole train of ideas or feeling will involuntarily occur (perhaps at a most inconvenient time for us; but this is not the fault of the subconscious mind).
It is we ourself who are to blame, because we tried to coerce or force results, instead of lovingly letting them take place. Here is where art has a place in the science of meditation. We learn any art by practice and repeated study. To meditate so as to evoke any desired idea and its meaning into involuntary unfoldment in our mind is indeed an art. We master it by desiring to master it, by learning the letter of it, but even more by obeying the spirit of it.
Remember that in meditation the form is important, the technique is essential, but the spirit in which you seek to use both is vital. Success comes from obeying all three. To blend form, technique, and spirit is indeed a fine art.
You remember that the root meaning of the word art was “to join,” just as harmony means “to fit or blend together.” To join, or to fit or blend together with love your conscious effort and the involuntary or spontaneous activity of the higher mental powers in meditation is an art, with its own forms of required discipline, as any devotee of meditation will tell you. But no other art is more richly rewarding, and in fact, no other form of art is so eternally rewarding as meditation. In silent meditation, we fuse into our own character, and even into our soul, values and riches that will last forever.
Perhaps this is one meaning in Jesus’ great lesson on building one’s house of life upon a rock. There were people in the ancient world who understood this simile perfectly. They were in on the secret of building eternal values into their own character. They knew that character was destiny, and thus man could choose his destiny by choosing his character.
It was the house of consciousness which Jesus urged us to build upon “rock.” Rock is firm, unyielding. It suggests a foundation made of substance powerful in its cohesiveness and extremely resistant to external forces. This is a graphic word picture of one who has built his life upon a consciousness of eternal values. How forcefully such a person resists the pressures of the world to conform, when conformity would violate his convictions! He seems to be immune to fear or flattery or base temptation. Can money buy him, or fame turn his head? Of course not, because he has established a value scale within himself. He weighs and tests and measures every idea or possible experience offered to him with his own permanent scale of values.
He is like an assayer, one who tests ores to determine their true content of precious metal. I once went through an Ontario gold mine and talked to the assayer. I was astonished to discover how many minerals that shine and glitter are not gold. All of our party had pieces of rock picked up on the ore dumps; some of them shone like wedding rings, but were not gold.
The assayer took a piece of rock bigger than a man’s fist, with a tiny yellow speck in it at one end, no larger than the head of a pin. “This,” he said, “is gold.” Then he showed us how this yellow dot of metal, no matter how the light fell on it, was always the same, always reflected the same dull gleam. But our fool’s gold, the glittering pyrites were bright from one angle and dull when viewed from another.
The assayer had of course a value scale or system of tests for determining true gold in his mind. Since my lump of ore was palpably false by these standards, he smilingly told me that it was worthless. We can become equally skillful in the all-important matter of establishing our own value scale. By means of meditation you and I can become as expert in judging and selecting the values by which we shall live as a skilled assayer is in judging ore. Like him, we shall have in our mind, as a standard for making judgments, a scale of values based on exact knowledge of exact principles. And this scale of values will give us unerring insight in the cultivation of the fine art of selecting our life goals.
These life goals (or values, for the terms are practically synonymous) when tested in the crucible of experience can turn out to be either worthless fool’s gold, bringing precious us bitter disappointment, or the precious metal of eternal values.