The process of praying should always be commenced by a period of meditation which clears the mind of the garbage of thought, and makes one ready to receive information from higher planes. To repeat-too many people flap down on their knees and start ordering their God to ‘deliver the goods', then they say that prayer never works. Well, let them try meditation first. Meditation actually has four different parts: l. The first part is that meditational practice which assists in the development of the true personality of the meditator, and if one can meditate and develop one's per sonality then one obtains a happier and more successful life. One becomes happier in the personal aspects of life and one becomes more successful in association with one's fellows, that is, in work. Successful meditation here also increases the mental capacity. 2. The second stage of meditation is that which almost automatically follows from successful completion of the first stage. The second stage of meditation is that which brings the physical body in rapport with the Overself and brings the Overself in rapport with the Manu of the nation. Before one can meditate to this, and higher standards, it is essential that one has a pure and lust-free life. 3. The next stage of meditation is that which gives one all the benefits of stage 1 and stage 2, but which enables one in addition to have full occult understanding. That is, when one reaches the third stage of meditation one is able to comprehend and apperceive. Apperceive, of course, is different from perceive. Apperceive is the mind's perception of itself (all that which enables the Overself to improve its own spiritual condition). 4. Lastly, there is the mystical meditation, so called because it is so far removed from earthly concepts that it is rather beyond the understanding of those who have not succeeded in reaching that stage. The fourth stage of meditation takes us by way of the Silver Cord up to our Overself, and then by way of the Golden Cord of our Overself into the presence of that Great Entity which, for want of a better term down here, we call ‘God'. But the first two stages of meditation are the essential steps and you should concentrate on them first. Before taking up meditation it is essential that there shall be a Discipline because if one is playing with meditation, one is playing with fire. You would not allow a child to play with a barrel of gunpowder and a box of matches, at least you would allow him to do it only once! In the same way, you must exercise great restraint in practicing the higher stages of metaphysics. If you get a little weed of a man who suddenly decides that he wants to gain the muscles of Mr. Atlas, he has to undergo certain exercises, the poor fellow cannot suddenly grab a barbell, etc., and put in twenty-four hours a day at exercises, he would have a breakdown. In the same way it is quite necessary that meditation be regarded as the exercises of the soul, and if you rush into the practice of meditation like an American tourist rushing through the Vatican just to say that he has been there, then you will find that your enthusiasm will wane. You must practice according to a prearranged plan with discipline and much prior preparation because our weedy little man-if he practices too much and lifts too much and exercises too much, he will find that he is so stiff in his muscles that he can hardly move. But you, remember, with meditation, you can become stiff in the mind and that is a horrible state of affairs. So in spite of all this, you want to meditate? You want to really go in for this thing? Well, let's see how you like the next bit; to meditate you must have an absolutely quiet time in your day, and you should make that time in the early morning. This is one of the reasons why priests, etc., meditate before they eat. You should have no food before meditating, and you should not meditate in bed, if you try that you will fall asleep. So-make arrangements to awaken a1i hour earlier than usual, and when your alarm goes off and wakens you, get out of bed, wash and dress, because the process of washing and dressing will awaken you so much that you will not be tempted to crawl back into bed and sleep. If you really want to do this thing seriously you will have one corner of a room as your own Inner Sanctuary. You will have a little shrine which will enable you to fix your attention on that which you are trying to do. So, for those who are truly serious, here is how to proceed: Have a room, even a box-room will do, as a Sanctuary, and keep the door of that room locked when you are not in it. Have a little table in a corner covered with a white cloth. Upon the white cloth have an image of, for example, a Ho Tai the symbol of Good Living (no, you are not worshipping graven images ! Ho Tai is merely a symbol). Have an incense burner and a stick of thick incense which you should light and then blow it out so that it just smolders in pleasant smoke. It will help if you have previously timed the burning of the incense such as, for instance, to the half hour, so that when your incense goes out you cease your meditation. The serious meditator will wear a special meditation robe because the whole idea of the meditation robe is that you are shielding yourself from outside influences. The meditation robe must be very full, with long, loose sleeves, and with a cowl to pull over the head. You can get these of thin black silk, or if you find that too expensive, thin black cotton. When the meditation robe is not in use it should be put into a black silk case where it cannot be touched by other clothing. You may think all this is rather theatrical, but it is not you know, it is the best way of getting the desired results, and if you want the desired results you have to work according to the rules. So-wear your meditation robe when you are going to meditate. Now that you have your room, your meditation robe, your Ho Tai, and your incense, go to that room and sit down quietly. It does not matter how you sit, you do not have to sit cross-legged. Sit in any way which is comfortable to you and which prevents you from getting cramps or twinges because in the early stages you cannot meditate if you are in discomfort. When you have sat for a few moments in quiet CONTEMPLATION, you should repeat the prayer: Let me this day, living my life day by day in the manner prescribed, control and direct my imagination. Let me this day, living my life day by day in the manner prescribed, control my desires and my thoughts that I be purified thereby. Let me this day and all days, keep my imagination and my thoughts directed firmly upon the task which has to be accomplished that success may come thereby. I will at all times live my life day by day, controlling imagination and thought. You will have seen that the room is not light, of course, but very well shaded, fairly dark in fact so that everything appears grey rather than black. You will soon find the amount of darkness which suits you best. If you take a glass of cold water and hold that glass between your two hands so that your palms and fingers are around the glass but not overlapping on to the top, you will find that you will be in a suitable position for another exercise. Now slide the fingers of one hand so that they fit in between the spaces of the fingers of the other hand, so that you have as much of your hands and fingers on the glass as you can manage. Sit quietly and take a deep breath. Try those exercises which are mentioned in Wisdom of the Ancients, but take a deep breath and allow the air to be exhaled with a long, long, drawn-out sound. The sound is 'Rrrrrrr Aaaaaaa'. You must do it aloud, you do not have to shout it, you can do it softly although very clearly, and you must treat it seriously because it is a serious practice. Repeat this three times, then sit and watch for several minutes as the odonetic, or magnetized, water focuses the etheric of the body into a cloud around the glass of water. It will condense (the etheric) so that you should easily see the quite heavy haze which will remind you of blue cigarette smoke condensed into a cloud, or if you prefer, remind you of incense smoke condensed into a cloud. When you have done this for a week or two, or perhaps a month or two, depending upon your seriousness, you will be able to see some of your life-force in the water, and when the life-force gets into the water it charges the water just the same as soda water sparkles, but the sparks and sparkles that you will see from your own life-force will be flashes of light, lines, and swirlings of various colors. Do not rush things because you have plenty of time; after all, you do not grow an oak tree overnight, and the more serious you are the more success you will have and the success eventually will turn that glass of water into a miniature universe with sparkles of multi-hued fire darting and swirling within the confines of the glass. You should arrange your meditation into a definite pattern, or timetable. It is a very good idea to have a rosary so that you can keep check on your stages of meditation. You can obtain a Buddhist rosary, or you can make your own rosary of different sizes of beads, but no matter what method you use you should keep to a very rigid timetable. You must meditate in the same room and at the same time and wearing the same meditation robe. Start by selecting one thought or one idea, and sitting quietly before your little altar. Try to eliminate all outside thoughts, center your attention within yourself, and there meditate upon that idea which you have decided upon. As you concentrate you will find that a faint shaking starts within you; that is normal, that faint vibration shows that the meditation system is working. Suggestions: 1. Have as a first meditation the meditation of love. In this you think kind thoughts towards all creatures who live. If enough people think kind thoughts, then eventually some of it will rub off on other people, and if we could get enough people to think kind thoughts instead of vicious thoughts the world would be a very different place. 2. After the first meditation of love, you can concentrate on the second meditation which causes you to think of those in distress. As you think of those in distress you really ‘live' their sorrows and their miseries, and out of your compassion you send thoughts-rays-of understanding and sympathy. 3. In the third meditation you think of the happiness of others, you rejoice that at last they have attained the prosperity and all that for which they long. You think of these things, and you project to the outside world thoughts of joy. 4. The fourth meditation is the meditation of evil. In this you allow your mind to meditate upon sin and illness. You think how narrow is the margin between sanity and insanity, health, and sickness. You think how brief is the pleasure of the moment, and how all-encompassing the evil of giving in to the pleasure of the moment. Then you think of the sorrow which can be caused by pandering to evil. 5. The fifth meditation is that in which we attain serenity and tranquillity. In the meditation of serenity you rise above the mundane plane, you rise above feelings of hate, you soar above even feelings of earthly love because earthly love is a very poor substitute for the real thing. In the meditation of serenity you are no longer bothered by oppression nor do you fear, nor do you want wealth for its own sake but only for the good which you can bring to others with it. In the meditation of serenity you can regard your own future with tranquillity knowing that you at all times are going to do your best and live your life according to your own stage of evolution. Those who have attained to such a state are well on the way of evolution, and those who are can place reliance upon their knowledge and upon their inner knowledge to free them from the wheel of birth and death. You may wonder what comes after meditation. Well, trance comes after. We have to use the word 'trance' for want of a better term. Actually trance is a state of meditation in which the real ‘you' goes out and leaves the body as one would part from and leave a car. Now, as we all know frequently to our cost, if one has a parked car one sometimes gets that car stolen by car thieves. In the same way, if people meditate deeply enough to enter what we must term the trance state without clearing their mind of lusts, etc., then they invite ‘stealing' by other entities. The trance state is a highly dangerous state unless one first practices under capable supervision. There are various forms of elementals and discarnate entities who are always prowling about to see how much mischief they can do, and if they can do a lot of mischief by taking over a person's body, then they are very happy to have some fun just as teenagers will sometimes steal a car to go racing round the roads; no doubt the teenagers fully intend to return the car unharmed, but frequently the car is harmed. And so when a body is taken over frequently it is harmed. Let me repeat that if your thoughts are pure, if your intentions are pure, and if you are without fear, then you cannot be invaded, obsessed, or taken over, there is nothing to fear except fear itself. Let me repeat that; if you be not afraid you radiate an aura which protects your body much the same as a burglar alarm can protect a house, and if your thoughts are pure and you have no lusts, then when the lust of taking over a body tingles your consciousness you immediately look down the Silver Cord and see what it is, just the same as a farmer keeps a watch on his orchard to protect his apples! You cannot be obsessed or taken over or invaded unless you are afraid. But if you are afraid of such things-well, for your own peace of mind and for your own peace of body do not play with the deep trance stage of meditation. I am greatly opposed to hypnotism except with the very greatest of safeguards, for if you are put into a hypnotic trance by an inexperienced person he can have an awful lot of fears wondering if you will be all right, wondering if he can get you out of the trance, etc. The hypnotic trance is a passive trance, it is a trance which is caused by a series of powerful sugestions strengthened by a person's belief that he or she can be hypnotized. Actually, when a person is hypnotized conditions are much the same as when a person goes cross-eyed because the etheric double is thrown slightly out of synchronization which means that the physical and the etheric bodies are no longer in complete coincidence with each other. If you get a bad hypnotist he can do a tremendous amount of damage, he can harm you for years. After all, you would not go to a surgeon who had just learned his surgical technique by taking a correspondence course, you want a person who can operate surely and competently. So-for the sake of your health and your sanity, do not allow amateurs to meddle about with you. If you want for some reason, or you have for some reason, to be hypnotized, then get in touch with some medical association in your own area and they will be able to tell you of some ethical medical hypnotist who has been trained under carefully supervised conditions. You may think that I am overstressing the dangers, but-oh! You should see some of the letters that I receive about harm which has been caused by inept, criminally careless dabblers in hypnotism. Remember that when you are hypnotized your soul is pushed out of coincidence with the centers of your consciousness. In the case of mediums, they are often people who get into a dreamy state of trance, a dreamy state of hypnosis, for consciously or unconsciously they lightly hypnotize themselves so that they are hyper-suggestible, and in such a case they can be used as a telephone by people on the other side of life. But remember what we have said, what we have learned together about discarnate entities. The really good people who have passed over are too busy to fool around giving messages at seances. Under certain conditions, of course, one can have a very skilled and conscientious person who can go into this trance in the physical and still remain alert in the astral, and so can in effect supervise the type of person who is giving messages to the group of sitters below. This is a very useful tool when one is doing detailed research, but it is utterly essential to make sure that the seance be not interrupted by noise or by the unexpected entry of other people. There is a very special form of occult trance, the Adept calls it 'temple sleep', and this is an absolutely different type of trance from any of those previously mentioned because the Initiate who has studied all this under temple conditions knows what he is doing, and he can throw himself deliberately into the trance state just the same as a person can throw himself into a car and drive off, he is under his own control and cannot be obsessed by others. But, of course, this depends upon having years of practice, and until a person has had the necessary experience he should always be under the most careful supervision of a person who has had such experience. The average person playing about with trance states has a very useful protective system; you try playing about with a trance, and if you are a normal decent person you will find that you fall asleep! That prevents you from being invaded by discarnate entities. But even here there are two grave danger spots, for example: You are awake, even though in a trance state, but then you fall asleep. Now at the instant when you are between awake/asleep you are vulnerable to obsession just the same as you are vulnerable to obsession when (under these conditions) you have gone to sleep and now awaken. Please note that this only refers to when people are playing about with hypnotism or trances, and there is no danger whatever in the awake/asleep and asleep/awake of ordinary day and night living. It follows from all this that you would not be very wise to meddle with trance states unless you are carefully supervised, doesn't it ? In certain temples the person being trained is supervised by two senior lamas who are able to keep contact with whatever the acolyte is thinking, and by their gentle but firm guidance the acolyte is prevented from doing any harm to himself or having caused any harm to anyone else. When the acolyte can pass certain tests, then he is permitted to go into deep trances by himself and usually one of the first things he will do is to go into a very deep trance, what we term the 'trance of vision'. This is a deep trance indeed, and the Initiate will be completely immobile, he might appear to be utterly rigid, even with hard flesh. In this particular state he is still within his body, but is very much like a man on top of a high tower who has a high-powered telescope which enables him to see very clearly and greatly magnified. The man with the telescope can turn in any direction, and can see what is going on with startling clarity. One does not get out of the body in the trance of vision, instead you have to wait and practice the trance of projection before you can get out, and in this case the body is limp and flaccid, and is in a cataleptic condition with all consciousness being withdrawn and the body remaining, as it were, under the supervision of the caretaker. Breathing goes on at a very much reduced rate, and the heart-beat is reduced and life just flows very leisurely indeed. First of all, when you get in these trances you will wonder if what you are seeing is imagination, but with practice you will know, that which is real and will easily detect that which is merely a thought projection from some other entity, whether incarnate or discarnate. To give you an illustration; you are somewhere, anywhere you like, sitting at peace and doing deep trance meditation. If you let your consciousness wander willy-nilly without having much control of it you might find yourself near a person who has had too much to drink, and you may be horrified to see all manner of queer animals wriggling around him. Yes, those striped elephants really do exist in thought form! Worse than that, though, supposing you allow yourself to just wander and you find yourself near a very, very bad-tempered man with murder in his heart; if he is thinking of murder, then you, you poor sufferer, will see the actual scenes as if they were reality instead of just thought, and you may come back to your body with such a jerk that you will get a headache for the next twenty-four hours thinking that you have witnessed a murder or worse! The initiated metaphysician can easily recognize that which is real and that which is imaginary, but it is again advised that unless you have some real reason for deep trance, you leave it alone. If you will not heed that advice, well heed this; if in a deep trance or in the astral you find horrible entities making faces at you or worse, then you merely have to think strong thoughts at them that you are not afraid, and if you do that you will find that these people disappear. They can only feed on fear, and if you are not afraid they are actually repelled. In sincere friendship I advise you not to allow yourself to be hypnotized except by a competent medical person, and I advise you not to undergo trance except under qualified supervision. The ordinary meditation is perfectly safe, no harm at all can come to you because you are in full possession of all your faculties. So-meditate and enjoy it immensely. Avoid hypnotism and deep trance because they will not further your development one iota.