Meditation is defined by H. P. Blavatsky as a practice to attain "a state of abstraction which carries the ascetic practising it far above this plane of sensuous perception and out of the world of matter."
In the Theosophical tradition, the process of meditation is generally seen as threefold. J. I. Wedgwood wrote:
Meditation is often divided into three stages: Concentration, Meditation, Contemplation. It may be still further subdivided, but it is unnecessary to do so here; on the other hand the beginner should bear in mind that meditation is a science of a life-time, so that he must not expect to attain to the stage of pure contemplation in his earlier efforts.
The Theosophical practice of meditation
...has as its object spiritual, mental and ethical development, and the control of the mind and feelings. It does not aim at developing psychic faculties "from below upwards."
Theosophical meditations are not subject to the dangers that exist when a person is trying to set in motion psychic energies for which they may not be prepare or know the right method. For this reason, the aspirant does not have to be under the careful watch and guidance of a guru, which often generates dependence. As Blavatsky wrote:
Any virtuous man can reach by Naljor-ngonsum ("meditation by self perception") the intuitive comprehension of the four truths, without either belonging to a monastic order or having been initiated.
The acquisition of concentration is necessary for the aspirant who wished to grow in the occult life. Blavatsky wrote to the members of her Esoteric Section:
For instruction in Practical Occultism it is necessary to have acquired power of concentration, and then to receive certain definite directions. The latter would be of little use to a student who has not already attained the power of concentrating his Mind and Will. This power should be cultivated and trained in the Lower Degrees, and it is to this end that the Rule ordering daily meditation was laid down. There is no other way of attaining the power of concentration, and without this power, largely developed, no progress can be made in Practical Occultism, no beginning even of it being possible.
Concentration is not easy for many reasons. One of the unacknowledged obstacles for meditation is the action of the elementals:
In dreams, and also whenever we calmly sit for any sort of meditation, one of the first things to happen is that the Elementals begin to present to our inner eyes pictures of all sorts, and the kind of picture presented will be the result of the prior thoughts and also of the state we are in both mentally and physically. For if we are disturbed or harassed in any way in thought, the pictures will be more and more confused in fact, though sometimes having no appearance on the surface of being in confusion.
Although watching the breathing is a popular technique to generate some level of mental stillness, and may be good as a preliminary practice, Blavatsky regarded it as insufficient to bring our consciousness to the higher nature:
An affected detestation of the world, and the tedious and useless practice of the counting of inhalations and exhalations as a means to produce absolute tranquillity of mind or meditation, have brought this school [the Yogacharya of Aryasanga] within the region of Hatha-Yoga and have made it heir to the Brahmanical tīrthika [non-Buddhist].
One technique she recommended is the meditation in the heart:
And so with regard to concentration the Blessed MASTER Koot Hoomi ... writes:
- Your best method is to concentrate on the Master as a Living Man within you. Make His image in your heart, and a focus of concentration, so as to lose all sense of bodily existence in the one thought.
So again He says:
- The great difficulty to be overcome is the registration of the knowledge of the Higher Self on the physical plane. To accomplish this, the physical Brain must be made an entire blank to all but the Higher Consciousness.
When the Brain is thus rendered a blank, an impression from the Heart may reach it and be retained; and this is what is spoken of on p. 618, with regard to the Chela, who is able to hold only parts of the knowledge gained. The above-quoted letter says:
- In acquiring the power of concentration the first step is one of blankness. Then follows by degrees consciousness, and finally the passage between the two states becomes so rapid and easy as to be almost unnoticed.
Blavatsky answered the question "Is the practice of concentration beneficent?" as follows:
Genuine concentration and meditation, conscious and cautious, upon one's lower self in the light of the inner divine man and the Paramitas, is an excellent thing. But "to sit for Yoga" with only a superficial and often distorted knowledge of the real practice, is almost invariably fatal; for ten to one the student will either develop mediumistic powers himself or lose time and get disgusted both with practice and theory.
The higher states of consciousness cannot be attained through personal effort:
The Riddhi Pâda, lit., the four “Steps to Riddhi”, are the four modes of controlling and finally of annihilating desire, memory, and finally meditation itself--so far as these are connected with any effort of the physical brain--meditation then becomes absolutely spiritual.
Real ecstasy was defined by Plotinus as "the liberation of the mind from its finite consciousness, becoming one and identified with the infinite." This is the highest condition, says Prof. Wilder, but not one of permanent duration, and it is reached only by the very very few. It is, indeed, identical with that state which is known in India as Samadhi. The latter is practised by the Yogis, who facilitate it physically by the greatest abstinence in food and drink, and mentally by an incessant endeavour to purify and elevate the mind. Meditation is silent and unuttered prayer, or, as Plato expressed it, "the ardent turning of the soul toward the divine; not to ask any particular good (as in the common meaning of prayer), but for good itself -- for the universal Supreme Good" of which we are a part on earth, and out of the essence of which we have all emerged. Therefore, adds Plato, "remain silent in the presence of the divine ones, till they remove the clouds from thy eyes and enable thee to see by the light which issues from themselves, not what appears as good to thee, but what is intrinsically good."
- Meditation at Theosophy World.
- Samadhi at Theosophy World.
- Why Meditate? by K. Arunachalam
- Meditation Is Not What You Think by Ed Abdill
- HPB's Diagram of Meditation by Mary Anderson
- H.P.B. on Meditation & Yoga by Geoffrey Farthing
- Culture of Concentration, Part I and Part II by William Q. Judge
- Meditation, Concentration, Will by William Q. Judge
- Contemplation by Damodar K. Mavalankar
- The Theosophical Path of Meditation by Pablo D. Sender
- Meditation by Hugh Shearman
- Some Thoughts on Meditation by Hugh Shearman
- Some Interesting Aspects of Meditation by I. K. Taimni
- The Placid Lake of the Mind by Helen Zahara
- The Art of Meditation by The Theosophical Society in Australia
- Meditation for Beginners by J.I. Wedgwood
- Meditation: A Way of Knowing by Dorothy Abbenhouse
- How to Meditate - Part 1 and Part 2 by Dorothy Abbenhouse
- The Basis of Meditation by Radha Burnier
- The Meditative Path by John Cianciosi
- Meditation by Clara Codd
- The Wings of the Soul by Clara Codd
- The Science of Meditation by Geoffrey Hodson
- Guided Group Meditation by Geoffrey Hodson
- A Yoga of Light Meditation by Geoffrey Hodson
- Meditation as Part of Life by Dora Kunz
- Meditation - Part 1 and Part 2 by Rohit Mehta
- The Science of Meditation - Part 1 and Part 2 by Rohit Mehta
- Meditation: A Way of Life by Seetha Neelakanta
- How to Meditate by Theosopical Society in America
- Talks on Meditation Part 1: The Higher and Lower Mind, Part 2: Awareness and Non-Attachment , Part 3: Intuition, and Part 4: The Benefits of Meditation by Vic. Hao Chin
- Guided Meditation by Vic. Hao Chin
- Meditation. Theory and Practice - Part 1 and Part 2 by Maria Parisen
- Meditation. Part 1: Definition and Foundations and Part 2: The Process of Meditation by Pablo Sender
- Meditation and the Higher Consciousness by Pablo Sender
- Dzyan Theosophy: The Theosophical Path of Meditation
- Bibliography on Meditation from the Henry S. Olcott Memorial Library.
- Articles on Theosophical Meditation at KatinkaHesselink.net
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 101.
- J. I. Wedgwood, Meditation for Beginners
- J. I. Wedgwood, Meditation for Beginners
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XIV (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1995), 438.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 702-703.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 693.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XIV (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1995), 434.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 696.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1982), 603.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 324.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy, (London: Theosophical Publishing House, 1987), 10-11.