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The Art of Meditation

by Imre Vallyon

The way the Cosmos is made up and the way we are made up determine the design of the whole Spiritual Path, which is actually based on how the Cosmos functions and how we function in the Cosmos. That is the reason why the Spiritual Path is so difficult. If an easier process could have been arranged, I am sure the Teachers would have invented it by now. But as it is, we have to struggle on in this very clumsy way. I have always thought that Yoga, the so-called Spiritual Path, is a clumsy way of doing things. But we do it because, unfortunately, no better device has been invented—or the possibility of inventing a better device has not yet arisen. And that is because, to be able to invent something better, you would have to radically alter the way we function as embodied entities in the Cosmos.

As embodied entities we have to rely on the breath energy. But from the instant that we are born and start breathing we are on the path of no hope and no return, because it is the actual breathing mechanism itself which is the problem. If we were constituted in a different way and did not have to use our breathing mechanism, the Spiritual Path would be radically easier. The problem, therefore, is that our breath current (Prå≈a), by necessity, cuts us off from reality (or limits our consciousness) because of the way the breath energy has to be transformed in the physical body itself.

When we are in the Astral World, that is, when we are sleeping or in a state of trance or when we are out of our physical body after we die or before we are born, we breath in a different way. We do not breathe through a specialized breathing mechanism such as the physical breathing mechanism, but through the whole astral body. In other words, the astral life-force sweeps through us like the ocean passes through a fish as it breathes in and out. In the Astral World, therefore, because we breathe through our whole mechanism, reality for us is a hundred times greater than what we perceive here, where we use our physical breathing process. In our mind body we also breathe through the whole mental body, but the breath current is even deeper and more internal. And in our Soul-Nature it is as if we are not even breathing at all, but simply absorbing the Universal Life around us and releasing it in a very spontaneous, natural way.

Accordingly, the most limited mechanism is the physical body, with its specialized breathing mechanism. It is so limited in fact that we cannot even experience all of the physical world, only its three lower subplanes, while the other four subplanes, which constitute the larger portion of the physical world, are invisible to us (as is Prå≈a, the energetic life essence that permeates the Physical Plane). It is no wonder, therefore, that we cannot receive the Universal Light directly through our whole mechanism, merge into it, and experience the Ocean of Energy that is around us.

By nature we have to breath. Pråk®t?, Mother Nature, demands that we breath. There is no escape from that fact. So the problem confronting the Sages was to find ways to neutralize Prå≈a, the breath current (without dying, of course), and recapture what was lost through the act of physical birth. They therefore invented Hatha Yoga and its Prånåyåma breathing techniques, as well as mantra÷ and mandala÷—techniques of directly working on the breath current, aimed at neutralizing it. Once the physical breath is neutralized, we can connect to the astral breath current, then the mental breath current, and finally the Soul’s breath current. (The latter is called the “long current” or “long breath” because each lifetime is one breath; that is, when the Soul comes into incarnation, it breathes out, and when it returns to its Soul-Nature, it breathes in. What we call a human life, therefore, is simply one breath movement of the Soul.)

All the many meditation techniques that I have given out (and will give out) are based on the simple idea of modifying the breath current in a very natural way so that you can transcend your physical breathing process and become aware of your internal breathing. Success in meditation can therefore be measured by a single factor: how much your breath current has naturally decreased. The human breath current has a normal speed. In meditation you have to make your breath current abnormal, but you have to slow it down, not speed it up. The best way that the Sages discovered to do this is by focusing your attention on one thing to the exclusion of everything else. If you see a beautiful sunrise or something enchanting and you get absorbed into it, your breath current immediately stops. Naturally. And sometimes a fright is enough to concentrate your attention to such a degree that your breath stops. Again, naturally. So if you focus your attention in a spontaneous, natural way, your breath current will decrease and stop. At that moment Enlightenment becomes possible; at that moment your consciousness can be transferred to the higher reality.

So the secret to meditation is to neutralize your breath current in an innocent, simple way, slowing it down to such a point that your breathing stops. And then you will find that there is an inner breathing inside you, and you will begin to feel that inner breath current. Then you can attain Samådhi, or what the Yog?÷ call Tur?ya Påda, the Fourth State of Consciousness. The first three states of consciousness—the wakeful consciousness, the dreaming consciousness, and the dreamless sleep consciousness—all depend on the breath current. Tur?ya Påda does not depend on the outer breath; it is the state of Samådhi, the state of ecstasy or mystic trance. And the meditation process will slow your breath down to the point where you can break through into Samådhi naturally, just the way you slip out of your body when you go to sleep.

Taking Mantra as an example, the proper method is simply to announce the mantra in your mind with a clear consciousness and with your total attention. That way the breath current can slow down. Now, there is a misconception about how to use mantra, perpetrated by the Svåmi÷ of India who either have not been initiated into Tantric knowledge or have forgotten that knowledge. The misconception is that you have to repeat your mantra endlessly, morning and night. But continually fulfilling the demands of repeating the mantra just produces activity (Rajas) in your mind. It is a method that they teach to Westerners; but it is counterproductive and one hundred percent wrong.

Saying that the activity of the mind has to be stopped does not mean that there is something wrong with the mind itself. That is not why you want to stop it. It is not a judgement on the mind. You need to stop the activity of the mind because that is the only way you can become aware of levels beyond the mind. It is as simple as that. It is merely a natural fact. The activity of the mind is twofold and ceaseless; it continually radiates out mental waves—V®itti, in Sanskrit—and creates thoughtforms—Rvpa or Sankalpa. So while the mind is ceaselessly acting in this way, you cannot penetrate beyond the mind level into the nature of the causal body, nor into your nature as J?va, the Living Soul within the causal body.

Meditation therefore has to do with the process of reducing mental waves until they automatically become still. In Tantra that is called Unmani or Unmana, meaning “no mind”. This refers to the no-mind condition, the state beyond any mental vibration, which the Buddhists call the state of Nirvå≈a. Other schools of Yoga—Raja Yoga, for example—use the term Citta-V®itti-Nirodha, “stop the activity of the mind”, which refers to suppressing the mental waves forcefully. In such a school you have to be a first-ray person with an immense will that can subjugate everything in your life, including yourself. But the Yog?÷ discovered that for most people that would be considered a difficult path, and is suitable for only a few. Mantra is an easier and more natural way. It leads naturally to Sahaja Dhyåna (spontaneous meditation) and then Sahaja Samådhi (spontaneous ecstasy).

But the basic idea is the same; the mental waves have to be stilled because they are the major block towards Spiritual Realization. Imagine that your mental and astral bodies are a lake, continually in motion. This is what in Yoga is called the subtle body, Svkßma-°ar?ra, or the Kåma-Manas Principle. To a Yog? the subtle body is dual in nature. It is composed of the astral body, Kåma, and the mental body, Manas. Together it is called Kåma-Manas—the subtle body as a compound entity (what in occultism is referred to as the astral-mental body complex). When you repeat the mantra, you put an energy wave over the natural waves of this compound body, which is endlessly moving. As you keep repeating the mantra, it starts to regulate the subtle body according to a definite pattern, imposing a regulated rhythm on it. After you have repeated the mantra for a while, say, ten or twenty minutes, the mantra will start to guide that ceaseless activity into a more regulated pattern.

As you practise meditation more and more every day, the mind will quickly assume the shape of the mantra, because the mantra has its own radiation field and form, as your mind does. In other words, your mind generates images and mental waves, and the mantra also generates an image and a mental wave. So what happens is that the mind will take over the generation of the mantra’s image, which is usually a god or goddess form (Devatå), and the mental wave that corresponds to it. As you continue your practice, the mind will completely take over the image, so you become that image—that god or goddess form—and you become the vibration that the image represents, that is, the Power of Love, the Power of Wisdom, the Power of Joy, the Power of Realization. There are many mantra÷ and they all have their own images and their own forms of energy—and that is what the Science of Mantra is all about.

If a breathing technique is used, the idea is still the same—to slow down the breath and still the mind; not all techniques, however, have that goal. Of the 108 Yogic breathing techniques, in fact, only one has that goal. The rest are used for various objectives, mainly focused on awakening the eight major psychic powers and 108 subsidiary powers. They teach you to walk on water, control the power of fire and other elements, or do all kinds of magical things. But they do not lead you to Self-Realization. For that objective, mental activity has to be neutralized; if you are doing something else, you are not meditating for the goal of Self-Realization. Saying that all Paths are the same and all lead to God is a philosophical idea, but in practice it does not work like that. In practice, there is only one way that you can attain the level of Self-Realization, and that is by neutralizing the currents of the mind. There is no other way.

The one breathing technique designed to slow down the breath naturally is known on the outer level as watching your breath and on the esoteric level as the Høng-Soh/Sø-Hang technique, the so-called Breath Mantra.

The popular version of this technique is practised by monks in Buddhist countries, who learned it from the Hindu Yog?÷ a long time ago. In its simplest form the technique consists of quietly watching your breath, without mind control or thinking. A much better version, however, uses the Høng-Soh/Sø-Hang Breath Mantra, which is a specific sound frequency that is actually the sound of the breath itself. The technique is practised in the same way, just watching your breath and repeating the mantra as the breath goes in and out—again, without mental commentary or interference—until the breath current changes by itself. In the beginning your breath current may be in any of various conditions. But after a while it will become more regulated because the mantra will begin to shape it, and the breath current will become increasingly subtle as the mantra moves toward its source in the Causal World. In its wake your breath current will ascend from the first level, the physical breath, to the second level, the astral breath, to the third level, the mental breath, and then to the fourth level, where it will stop and you will be in a natural state of stillness, or Samådhi.

When you use a yantra or a Kabbalistic diagram or the Tarot Keys or other mandala (be it Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim—whatever, as long as it is a ‘correct’ symbol, one that is in tune with the original idea of that particular symbol), the meditation technique is exactly the same, except that rather than using an internal sound you use an external symbol. This means that you must first look at it outwardly, because you have to establish the image in your brain consciousness before you take it inside. So you contemplate the symbol and allow the mind to be stilled as the image gets transferred to the brain cells, which are then altered according to the nature of the symbol. Some people say that the image should be focused in the Third-Eye Cakra or the Crown Cakra, but the location is not important. What is important is that you contemplate it without trying to analyse it or manipulate it in any way. If you can do that, after a while the inner mind will begin to vibrate according to the quality of that symbol, and the waves of the mind will shape themselves according to that quality.

It is not easy to neutralize the activity of the mind because of how the mind is constituted, as I mentioned previously. The mind is full of Rajas, which is one of the three qualities (Tamas, Sattva, Rajas) produced by °akti. The tamasic energy of °akti works through the physical body, the rajasic energy through the astral and mental bodies, and the sattvic energy through the causal body. So °akti, the great Nature-Principle, has made the astral and mental bodies vibrant and super-active, and that is why it is so difficult to meditate, because in a sense you are working against Nature. When you start to meditate, therefore, you have to overcome the tamasic nature of your body, the rajasic nature of your astral and mental bodies, and later on, when you are conscious as a Living Soul, the sattvic nature of the Living Soul.

In the beginning stage, however, you must neutralize the activity of the astral and mental bodies. That is why we use mantra÷, mandala÷, yantra÷, and breathing techniques that all have one purpose: to still the activity of the mind. Once the mind stops producing thoughts and waves and enters a state of stillness, then you will be in the state of Unmani—like a lake when the wind is still and nothing is moving on the surface of the water. In that natural stillness will arise an insight (Vidyå) into your own true nature as a Living Soul, existing above your mind, outside your personality construct, in a disembodied, eternal condition (relatively eternal, that is, because this is not the Eternity of the Spirit).

To know yourself as a Living Soul is only the beginning stage of meditation and takes the longest time to reach. After that the progress is much more rapid. This can be likened to the rocket used to send a capsule into space, with its different booster stages. The first stage of meditation, to neutralize your breath current and mental waves, is like the first stage of the rocket and requires a lot of hard work and energy; it is the toughest part of the process. But once you have managed to still your mind in a natural way and become aware of yourself as a Living Soul (the second stage of the rocket), you will find that everything flows easily and you will be able to function with relative ease. After the second stage becomes natural, the third stage can also begin in a natural manner, and then you can perceive yourself as the Fiery Spirit, Åtman, the pure realization of who you really are.

Knowing what the goal is, therefore, you should know that not every method will take you there. A lot of people have the idea that all meditation is the same and leads to the same goal. That is incorrect; the practice must correspond to the goal. Since our goal is the attainment of Self-Realization, our techniques are based on slowing down the mental activity and, in a natural way, reaching the condition of the Living Soul. In this condition you will be able to see the Light of Åtman shining inside you, and you will be aware that It is you and at the same time not you, because at that stage that Light will appear to be coming into you from somewhere else; so there is a distinction between you and It. When you go beyond the Soul-Conscious level to Åtmå-Vidyå, however, the Light of Åtman and you are just one thing, and It shines throughout all of Creation like a Universal Light, which you realize is your true nature.

When you follow this path, the True Path, you are not interested in accumulating wealth, getting healed, overcoming people, or building world empires. So it might appear that you are not gaining anything in the beginning, while others are getting rich or having a good time. But if you follow it through you will realize that the real benefits come later, after you have gone through the first stage and are approaching the second and third stages. (The first stage seems to be the least useful but it is the most essential.) So when you meditate, remember the grand purpose behind it: to still your mental and astral body functions in a natural way, and allow your Self to shine spontaneously.

Mother Nature gave us a super-active mind that is continually in motion day and night (the mind is working non-stop even when we are asleep!) from the time we are born until the time we die—even before we are born and after we die. True meditation begins when you cease producing mental forms and mental waves. So if your mind is active, you should allow it to calm down first before starting to meditate. Then introduce the tool—the mantra, yantra or mandala, or breathing technique—to further reduce the activity of the mind and the breath. Shut out everything else, but in a natural, enjoyable way. If you can enjoy meditation, then it will be easier for your mind to disengage, because you will automatically put yourself into a trance (Samådhi). Everything that you enjoy is easy to do. Those of you who have children may have observed a very strange phenomenon. Children always have energy to play, but when you ask them to wash the dishes or do some other work, they always seem to be very tired. The lesson to be learned here is that when you enjoy something, energy flows in a spontaneous way, and when you do not enjoy an activity, resistance builds up inside your system.

If you are a wise meditator, therefore, you will enjoy meditation. Then you will find that everything will begin to flow in a natural way and your inner enjoyment (Ånanda) will increase, and you will begin to be happy. Can you imagine that? You will actually be happy meditating. It will give you such happiness inside that you will want to meditate to perpetuate that happiness. And in that enjoyable process, you will find that the natural events that should take place in meditation will take place automatically. In that moment of enjoyment, your breathing will stop automatically, your mind will stop automatically, and you will glide into Samådhi—automatically.

Enlightenment cannot be forced. I use a natural path, a way that the average person in the world can practise safely. If you are an emotional type of person, you will not find meditation difficult. You will want to unite with the higher reality—to touch, taste, and feel it—so your devotion will give you the desire to meditate. If you are a mental person, you should understand the meditation process and why you are doing it, and then you also will find it enjoyable. Regardless of the type you are, however, meditation will give you a great opportunity to put yourself on a higher wave of Reality. Through the understanding you gain from meditation you will know that there is an infinite benefit waiting for you—as Jesus said, “a treasure hidden in the ground”—and that you have to dig up that treasure from the ground of your Inner Being, because you know its infinite value. w

Excerpted from The Art of Meditation by Imre Vallyon. Copyright 2007 by I.G. Vallyon. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher.


Permission to post this excerpt online is granted to Wisdom Magazine by the publisher, Sounding-Light Publishing Ltd.

Born in 1940 in Budapest, Hungary, Imre emigrated to New Zealand as a refugee at the age of sixteen. Since 1980 he has dedicated his life to teaching the Wisdom Science through his extensive writings and through workshops and retreats conducted around the world. In 1982 he established the Foundation for Higher Learning, an international Spiritual School designed to provide people with the opportunity to practise spiritual awakening in a group environment, with the ultimate goal of self-realization and planetary transformation.

Imre’s extraordinary knowledge of human spirituality is derived not from scholastic research, but issues forth from his own Interior Realization. He spans the full spectrum of human experience: reaching through time, illuminating the great Spiritual Teachings and Sacred Languages of our planetary history while pointing the way to the future.

The Art of Meditation can be purchased from the Sounding-Light Publishing Web site, www.soundinglight.com, and from major online retailers including Amazon, Tower Records, Barnes & Noble and Buy.com, or through your local bookstore.

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