The Light of Reason
Edited by James Allen
Vol. VIII. June 1st, 1906 No. 6
As our article on "The Five Stages in Regeneration" this month deals with meditation, it will be well to supplement it here with a little definite instruction in that direction. As comparatively few have yet reached the point where meditation, in the high spiritual sense which we attach to that condition, can be profitably entered upon, a few words, arranged so as to serve as finger-posts may encourage them to hasten their feet toward that blessed stage in their spiritual journey; while those who have arrived at the beginning of that stage may enter upon it with greater surety.
Reverie is usually confounded with meditation. This is a fatal error which must be avoided. Reverie is a loose dreaming into which a man falls; meditation is a strong, purposeful thinking into which a man rises. Reverie is easy and pleasurable; meditation is at first difficult and irksome. Reverie thrives in indolence and luxury; meditation arises from strenuousness and discipline. Reverie is first alluring, then sinuous, and then sensual. Meditation is first forbidding, then profitable, and then peaceful. Reverie is dangerous; it undermines self-control. Meditation is protective; it establishes self-control.
There are certain signs by which one can know whether he is engaging in reverie or meditation. The indications of reverie are— 1. A desire to avoid exertion; 2. A desire to experience the pleasures of dreaming; 3. An increasing distaste for one’s daily duties; 4. A desire to shirk ones worldly responsibilities; 5. Fear of consequences; 6. A wish to get money with as little effort as possible; 7. Lack of self-control. The indications of meditation are—1. Increase of both physical and mental energy; 2. A painful striving after wisdom; 3. A decrease of irksomeness in the performance of duty; 4. A fixed determination to faithfully fulfill all worldly responsibilities; 5. Freedom from fear; 6. Indifference to riches; 7. Possession of self-control.
There are certain times, places, and conditions in and under which it is impossible to meditate, others wherein it is difficult to meditate, and others whereby meditation is rendered more accessible; and these, which should be known and carefully observed, are as follows:—
Times, Places, and Conditions in which Meditation is Impossible.
- At, or immediately after, meals
- In places of pleasure
- In crowded places
- While walking rapidly
- While lying in bed in the morning
- While smoking
- While lying on a couch or bed for physical or mental relaxation
Times, Places, and Conditions in which Meditation is Difficult
- 1. At night
- In a luxuriously furnished room
- While sitting on a soft, yielding seat
- While wearing gay clothing
- When in company
- When the body is weary
- If the body is given too much food
Times, Places, and Conditions in which it is best to Meditate.
- Very early in the morning
- Immediately before meals
- In solitude
- In the open air or in a plainly furnished room
- While sitting on a hard seat
- When the body is strong and vigorous
- When the body is modestly and plainly clothed
It will be seen by the foregoing instructions that ease, luxury, and indulgence (which induce reverie), render meditation difficult, and when strongly pronounced make it impossible; while strenuousness, discipline, and self-denial (which dispel reverie), make meditation comparatively easy. The body, too, should be neither overfed nor starved; neither in rags nor flauntingly clothed. It should not be tired, but should be at its highest point of energy and strength, as the holding of the mind to a concentrated train of subtle and lofty thought requires a high degree of both physical and mental energy.
The conditions stated are of the utmost importance in the early stages of meditation, and should be carefully noted and duly observed by all who are striving to acquire the practice; and those who faithfully follow the instructions, and who strive and persevere, will not fail to gather in, in due season, the harvest of purity, wisdom, bliss, and peace; and will surely eat of the sweet fruits of holy meditation.
More from James Allen
James Allen was a little-known philosophical writer and poet. He is best recognized for his book, As a Man Thinketh. Allen wrote about complex subjects such as faith, destiny, love, patience, and religion but had the unique ability of explaining these subjects clearly and in a way that is easy to understand. He often wrote about cause and effect, sowing and reaping, as well as overcoming sadness, sorrow, and grief. For more information on the life of James Allen, click here.