A TIME OF DEPARTING
From Chapter One - The Invisible Denomination
What Exactly is Meditation?
The meditation most of us are familiar with involves a deep, continuous thinking about something. But New Age meditation does just the opposite. It involves ridding oneself of all thoughts in order to still the mind by putting it in the equivalent of pause or neutral. A comparison would be that of turning a fast-moving stream into a still pond. When meditation is employed by damming the free flow of thinking, it holds back active thought and causes a shift in consciousness. This condition is not to be confused with daydreaming, where the mind dwells on a subject. New Age meditation works as a holding mechanism until the mind becomes thoughtless, empty and silent.
The two most common methods used to induce this thoughtless state are breathing exercises, where attention is focused on the breath, and a mantra, which is a repeated word or phrase. The basic process is to focus and maintain concentration without thinking about what you are focusing on. Repetition on the focused object is what triggers the blank mind.
Since mantras are central to New Age meditation, it is important to understand a proper definition of the word. The translation from Sanskrit is man, meaning to think, and tra, meaning to be liberated from.14 Thus, the word literally means to escape from thought. By repeating the mantra, either out loud or silently, the word or phrase begins to lose any meaning it once had. The conscious thinking process is gradually tuned out until an altered state of consciousness is achieved.
But this silence is not the final objective; its attainment is only a means to an end. What that end entails was aptly described by English artist Vanora Goodhart after she embarked on the practice of zen meditation. She recounted:
[A] light began seeping through my closed eyelids, bright and gentle at first, but growing more and more intense there was a great power and strength in this Light I felt I was being drawn upwards and in a great and wonderful rush of power that rose eventually to a crescendo and bathed me through and through with glorious burning, embracing Light.15
Such dynamic experiences as these are what New Age mysticism is really all about - not just believing in some doctrine or a faith that is supported by some creed but rather a close personal contact with a powerful Presence. The renowned occultist Dion Fortune acknowledged: "shifting the consciousness is the key to all occult training."16 In other words, meditation is the gateway to the light Goodhart experienced.
15. Louann Stah., A Most Surprising Song, Unity Books, Unity Village, Missouri, 1992, pp.147-148
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A Time of Departing