by Robert Wilkinson
Let's get metaphysical! Today we explore how the evolving mind learns to go beyond its natural limitations.
I last gave this to you over 3 years ago, so it seemed like a good time to reintroduce some of the basic differences in concentration, meditation, and contemplation. To know one’s mental state is to be able to know how to move beyond it, and use each level of awareness for maximum good.
This is an extensive rewrite that fleshes out the concepts in the 2010 article. As noted in the original, this can only be an introduction, since each of these topics is a vast area of exploration and practice. Any thorough examination would require a book on each and all three together.
Today we’ll begin to explore the process and provide some tips on how to become more effective in applying these in whatever life direction you want to explore. Training the mind to focus is all-important if we would translate our realizations into a living practice.
It is in the nature of the mind to be distractible. That's because the mind is bi-hemispheric, and uses a "sequence and selection" process as it drifts through the proverbial ten thousand things. While this leads us to interesting perspectives and realizations, it also tends to scatter our mind's ability to get and stay focused on any one or two things for the length of time it takes for us to become skilled in mastering the objects of that focus.
The mind therefore could be described as duality functioning through curiosity. However, as the Heart is the Seat of Knowledge, our minds can never truly know much of anything except a string of perceptions. The mind continually seeks knowledge but never finds it. That, and the mind’s inherent negativity, often create problems as we find our way from the unreal to the real.
Due to its ceaseless wanderings, our mind's natural weaknesses of indecision and distractibility come up from time to time since an untrained mind easily loses its bearings. These must be antidoted if we would find the focus to develop our Higher Self, however we define that throughout our lives.
So how to do antidote the distractibility and indecisiveness of our mind? By seeing how to use its natural functions and strengths in a more effective manner. In realizing and applying a clear vision leading to a pattern to growth, we override the drifting and lack of focus tendencies that are the mind's weaknesses.
The mind has as one of its strengths the ability to order perceptions through the "compare and contrast" function. This is valuable in teaching us critical thinking skills, and therefore develop the Divine 3rd Ray energies of "Intelligence in Action." When we master referencing the 3rd Ray energies, then we can see how to order, how to further, how to know, and how to see a way beyond the frictions born of duality.
In applying our mental strengths, we must first learn the art and science of Concentration. This allows the mind to practice being "one-pointed" so we can go deeper into the meaning of things. Concentration is necessary to order the mind in its explorations so that it can prioritize what it wants to examine.
It has been said that our Higher Consciousness first must train our mind to concentrate before it can truly meditate, and that meditation must be developed before we can contemplate the greater meaning and purpose around any manifestation, in personal, interpersonal, and transpersonal realms. This process of learning first Concentration, then Meditation, and finally Contemplation results in the mastery of the mind, and allows us to see all things in a larger perspective.
There are many techniques to learn to concentrate. Try any and all of them to see which techniques work best for you. And of course, what works at one time may or may not work at another time, depending on the push and pull of the subconscious mind and how it’s influencing our conscious mind.
That’s why we will be somewhat distracted if our subconsciousness is more attentive to its imagery than what our conscious mind is trying to focus on. Getting a firm hold on the conscious mind is one of the “disciplines of self-realization” we must master if we are to figure out how to hold a focus for any length of time.
While I had learned something about concentration through my years learning various things in school, I really accelerated my ability to concentrate when I focused my mind through reading Spiritual, Metaphysical, and Astrological works. Because I was motivated by these things, it helped me shut out the various distracting ideas and feelings of my personality. Basically, I cared more for higher realizations than I did the usual mental and emotional patterns of my everyday life.
That’s when I realized occasionally my mind would be in a tug of war with itself, wanting to think about almost anything other than what I was reading! Despite the distractibility of my mind, I kept bringing it back by repeatedly focusing on whatever I was exploring so that I could understand what was being said or written. Even if I had to read something 10 times, I’d return to the subject if I couldn’t sum up, to myself in terms of a basic understanding, what I had read.
Over time I saw how I got distracted, or allowed my mind to wander unnecessarily. When I noticed how I had gotten distracted, I’d keep returning to the subject matter, and re-read whatever I needed to in order to make that which I learned more ingrained in my mind’s patterns.
On a related note, I also learned that it’s better to concentrate on mastering a few points than try to race across a wide variety of subjects. While that’s also a valid approach to learning a lot, both superficially and quickly, it’s not a great way to approach depth learning, which requires more earnest attention.
I found that it is very useful to try to relax into whatever you are doing or learning while ignoring the random white noise in my environment. Focus on exactly what you're reading, how it relates to what you've read, and imagine understanding the bigger picture conveyed beyond the words.
Another extraordinarily valuable exercise to focus our mind is learning to listen to the words we are speaking. That way we are able to evaluate whether we are saying what we want to say and using the right words, or whether we’re unfocused, unclear, or just filling the air with sounds.
As we concentrate on what we're saying and why we're saying it, we'll become clearer about what we truly want to say and what we truly should NOT be saying! Monitoring one’s speech certainly helps us clear out unhelpful affirmations, since when we catch ourselves saying counterproductive things, we get very clear about what we don’t want to see made manifest!
As we develop the strengths of our mind and learn to apply them toward exploring whatever we want to know, then the ability to meditate on that knowing becomes easier. In a form of “one-pointed” meditation, we focus specifically on one thing and one thing only. We clear out everything that relates to anything else, and refuse to grasp at ideas unrelated to that one thing.
That allows us to hold a specific focus while allowing other levels of our awareness also to attune to that focus. Then our lower mind becomes a gatekeeper and vehicle for higher awareness of related foci to arise from pure consciousness.
When we learn how to point our mind so it can reference meditating on a thing, then we begin to receive impressions from many subtle levels about the relatedness of the perceptions, assumptions, and interpretations of our lower mind. This helps us detach from the lower mind’s restlessness dominating our thinking, and cultivates our ability to focus our mind on receiving impressions related to what we are exploring.
As we meditate on various things without being distracted by dense mental constructs and attachments to perceptions, the ability to contemplate how any given thing is related to a larger field of knowing develops over time. It is almost as though concentration requires attachment to focus, meditation requires a detachment from focus on forms and allowing awareness beyond forms to arise, and contemplation uses meditation to integrate the form with no-form, or the limited form with the limitless field in which all forms arise and dissipate.
I have heard some assert that Meditation is somehow greater than or the same as Contemplation. This confuses the nature of how these two are related. They are different tools, useful for different purposes at different points in how we regard whatever perception or knowledge we wish to explore.
The sequence of Concentration, Meditation, and Contemplation can be seen as a form of attachment, followed by detachment, developing into pure knowing without the mind's weaknesses distorting that knowing. First we attach our focus to a thing or process, then we learn to detach from the mind's specific focus while not losing the general focus, this ultimately developing into a knowing without having to think or not think.
As a general rule, Meditation begins with a focus that excludes the perceptual mind's distractibility. Contemplation can only have a non-specific focus so that the awareness of how everything is related to everything else naturally arises. We cannot truly contemplate a thing without there being an element of meditation present.
Both Meditation and Contemplation are beyond the lower mind's scattering tendencies, though most meditational techniques focus on not attaching to the lower mind's distractions. As we learn to still the chatter of random perceptions that draw us away from the focus on concentration, then we can more easily detach from that chatter into an awareness of the interrelationships between the object or process we originally focused on and other phenomenon in the larger field of relatedness.
While some of this is very abstract, all of it will become clearer when you revisit this material and try to apply its precepts in your life however you feel is appropriate. With practice over time, you will find yourself more easily concentrating on whatever you want to, and find meditational paths that work for you. As you develop skill in these, you will acquire and master the power to contemplate the Light/Life in all things, and see/know how all things are related within the larger Dharma of your Lovingly Wise Intelligent Consciousness.
Copyright © 2010, 2013 Robert Wilkinson