Case Paul Foster - The Early Writings Volume 2 Esoteric Secrets of Meditation and Magic

Author : Case Paul Foster
Title : The Early Writings Volume 2 Esoteric Secrets of Meditation and Magic
Year : 1924

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Practice of Concentration. "Be well grounded in theory before you attempt to practice" is an alchemical maxim, and since our work in this Section is really a phase of alchemy, we shall do well to heed the admonition. Since the revival of interest in the Ageless Wisdom hundreds of books about concentration have been published, but it is surprising how vague many of them seem to be concerning a matter which is surely of great importance -just what concentration is, and what force it seeks to control. Our first care shall be to get this clear. We shall begin with some specific examples, rather than with definitions, because we believe this method will make it easier for you to see the principle at work in the various instances. Up in the Catskills a little stream flows down the mountain side. A child could wade from bank to bank without any difficulty. Here in New York the water from that same stream and others like it rushes from the nozzle of a firehouse with enough force to knock a man down. A chemist puts a solution in a retort and boils it. Thus he makes the solution stronger, and calls it a concentrated extract. In much the same way metals are said to be concentrated from ore. The ore is put into crucibles, heat is applied, and the pwe metal is separated from the dross. A general brings up battalion after battalion from various parts of his army and masses their strength against a single sector of the enemy's line. The newspapers tell us that he has concentrated his forces at that point. In each of the foregoing instances something has been made stronger or purer by massing its component parts in a smaller area than they occupied before. The soldiers are brought closer together. The metal scattered through the ore is fused into a single ingot. The chemist's work of distillation crowds the molecules of his solution in close formation. The water pouring from the firehouse combines the forces of several little streams. Concentration, then, may be defined as the packing together of units of force. This definition includes all the examples we have given, because the units, whether they be metals, molecules, drops of water or soldiers, are all built up from the One Power which you studied in the first lesson of Section A. Every kind of concentration on the physical plane is a condensation of the force of electrons, a packing together of units of electro-magnetic force. When this fact is taken into consideration, it becomes evident that some so-called definitions of concentration must be incorrect. It is impossible to "concentrate attention," because attention is only a name for one of the mind's ways of acting - the way, in fact, whereby we affect the particular kind of energy mass-formation which we are now beginning to study. The act of attention is the means which enables us to concentrate, but that act is not what we should regard as the subject of the operation, any more than a chemist's crucible or retort is the thing worked upon in the examples mentioned above. That we misuse language when we speak of concentrating ow minds may not be so apparent, for it is true that our practice enables us to intensify the strength of what William James used to call "mind-stuff." Yet we prefer not to run counter to accepted use of terms unless that use can be shown to be wholly wrong, and this cannot be said of the modem psychological use of the word "mirtd." Modem psychologists do not think of that word as denoting a substance, nor do they regard mind as a special kind of energy. For them "mind" means the sum-total of the conscious states of an individual, and this is not what we shall be occupied with in our practice. Yet there is no particular difliculty in finding out just what it is that we shall learn to concentmte. We have seen that all physical substances are modes of One Thing. So, too, are all other substances, or if you prefer, forces. The One Thing is the Astral Light of Eliphas Levi, the Prana of the Hinclus, the Ruach of the Qabalists. Swami Vivekananda, you remember, says that Prana is the energy manifested in all modes of force, from thought-force down to the lowest physical activities. When Qabalists say that the Rauch in man includes the powers of all the Sephiroth from Chesed to Yesod, they also identi6 Ruach with the force which takes form as thought. Some Qabalists attribute to the six Sephiroth just mentioined the following states of mind: CHESED : Memory GEBURAH : The Personal "Will" TIPHARETH : Imagination NETZACH : Desire HOD : Reason YESOD : The Subconscious Thus Ruach is the Qabalistic designation for that in us which takes form as thought, for the specific activities of the One Thing which are classified as mental states. Ruach is thus the Hebrew equivalent of the Sanskrit term Chitta, which is variously translated as "the thinking principle," "mind-stuff,It or "the psychic nature." The reason for comparing Ruach with Chitta thus early in our study is that one of the best text-books on the practice of concentration is a Hindu work, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Here are three translations of the second sentence in that book: a. Concentration is the hindering of the modifications of the thinking principle. b. Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff (Chitta) from taking various forms (Vrittis). c. Union, spiritual consciousness, is gained through control of the versatile psychic nature. The first version is from an old edition of the Sutras, now out of print, published in Bombay by the Theosophical Society. The second is that of the Swami Vivekananda. The third is that of Charles Johnston, whose translation of Patanjali we prefer to either of the others. In this particular instance, however, "control" seems to be a weaker verb than "hindering" or "restraint," because it does not make quite so evident the fact that the thinking principle is governed by right use of the principle of limitation, by checking and circumscribing its activity. ...

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