1.01. Most people probably think that Yoga and ‘transcendental meditation’ have little or nothing to do with Christianity. But this is not at all true, for meditational procedures are part of the Christian way of life as they are part of the procedures of every seriously taken religion. The apparent differences between the methods of Hindu Yoga and those of other religions are really differences only of terms, differences of the words used in the various languages native to the various religions.
1.02. The word ‘Yoga’ is a Sanskrit word, Sanskrit being the language used by the priests of the ancient Hindu religion.’Yoga’ is from a root word meaning, "to join". We have the same idea in our English language in the word ‘yoke’, which also means, “to join”, The ‘LIG’ in the word ‘ligature’ and ‘religion’ had originally the same meaning, ‘Yoga’ meant a method of joining the soul of man back to the power that created the universe. ‘Religion’ has the same meaning. It would be quite correct to translate the word ‘Yoga’ as ‘religion’, or as ‘yoking’ man's soul back to God. We are not to think that because a word belongs to a language which is foreign to us that the word's meaning will also be foreign to us. ‘Yoga’ and ‘religion’ mean essentially the same thing, a procedure whereby human beings can regain their original relation with their Creator, the Supreme Creative Powers of the Universe. Let us look at the meditational procedures and techniques whereby this reunion is gained, first in outline, then more fully.
1.03. In every meditational procedure there are distinct steps to be taken. Firstly we must make a decision to meditate. Then we must withdraw our attention from the external things of the world, which would otherwise distract us. Then we must concentrate our attention inside our mind and place it upon some subject which we find to be interesting to us. Next we must think through all our ideas we have about this subject, recall our experiences related to it, mentally examine these experiences analyse them into their parts and define the nature of each part, and state to ourselves the way all these parts are interrelated. When we have finished this defining of the parts of the chosen subject,' and have noted the ways in which those parts are fitted together and act on each other, then we can pass on to the next stage of the process, the very important stage of holding together in our mind the meaning of all our procedure.
1.04. Let us go through this process again and see how many parts it has. Firstly, we decide to meditate. Secondly we withdraw our attention from the things of the external world. Thirdly we concentrate our mind upon some interesting subject. Fourthly we analyse this subject into all its parts and study these parts and their relations with each other and with the whole of which they are parts. Fifthly we hold the whole analytical process together in an act of comprehension of its meaning.
1.05. Having outlined the meditational procedure in outline, we can now go on to examine each stage more fully.
1.06. The first stage is the decision to meditate. Here we can ask ourselves why we should meditate. What can meditation do for us that we cannot secure without it? To this we answer that meditation can do many things for us that nothing else can do. Chiefly it can bring us back into relation with ourselves. Are we, then, out of relation with ourselves? To answer this question, all we need to do is to tell ourselves truthfully whether we are fully satisfied with our lives as we live them, fully, really fully satisfied, in every way. If we can truthfully answer, '”Yes,” to this question, then meditation has nothing to offer us. Let us assume that we cannot answer this question with an unqualified, “Yes.” Then we can continue our examination of meditation and what it can do for us.
1.07. When we look around us, in the home, in the streets, in shops, at work and elsewhere, we do not see everywhere smiling, radiantly, happy faces; we do not see evidences of deep personal contentment; we do not see the signs of mutual helpfulness and joy, that would make us believe that we have no problems to solve.
1.08. Rather we see almost everywhere signs of stress and strain, indicators of worry, anxiety, the marks of unsolved problems, the evidences of isolation of human beings from each other and from ourselves. The experts in various fields the philosophers, the psychologists, the sociologists and others, all offer their various explanations of this isolation of human beings from each other and from themselves, the isolation of the parts or inner functions of the individual from each other, inside each individual.
1.09. But when all these explanations have been examined, the facts remain, and the problem remains of what to do to heal the breach between man and man and part and part within each man. And here meditation comes into its own. Here meditation shows its true strength and purpose, for it can heal this breach, it can show us inside ourselves how to bring our parts together, how to bring them into harmonious interrelation, how to restore our lost wholeness to us.
1.10. True religion is the art of bringing all our separated parts back into relation with each other, the art of bringing us back into relation with other human beings, and with the Supreme Being who is our Creator. Here I have to put the most important fact last on purpose. The Great Teacher (or “Guru” as the Hindus would say) Jesus Christ, taught that we cannot bring our isolated parts together, nor heal the breach between man and man, unless we do the Will of our Creator, who is the Supreme Reality, the Infinite Power that has created and now sustains, and will develop the universe till it fulfills in all its parts, and functions His Great Purpose.
1.11. Having found a sufficiently good reason to want to meditate, we then withdraw our attention from all the things and happenings of the external world, all the things that tend to stimulate us into relation with them, all the things that tend to ‘draw us out’ into the world of physical pleasures and pains. We must note that not only pleasurable things catch our attention, but painful ones also, because we are afraid of them, on guard against them, and therefore tend to focus our attention on them; and as most of the painful things that have happened to us have come to us from the outside world, so we tend in our ‘on-guardedness’ to ‘keep an eye on’ that same outside world.
1.12. But as long as our attention is fixed on the things of the outside world, we cannot meditate efficiently on the inner processes of our being. Christ the Great Guru, the Supreme Teacher, told us that we are not to look outside ourselves for the Kingdom of Heaven, the Realm of True Bliss; but inside. People seek the Kingdom of Heaven in the outside world, saying, “Here it is!” “There it is!” But, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within.” True Being, Real Happiness, cannot be in the outside world, for it is not a material thing. It can be only in the inside world, where the soul lives in the most intimate relationship with the Spirit of its Creator. The essential juice of a fruit is inside its skin, not outside. All the most important secret essences of things are hidden in their inner-most centres. Nuclear power was hidden inside the atom, not outside it. God, the All-Wise One, has not exposed to the superficial gaze of externalised observers the real secrets of His Eternal Power.
1.13. After we have realised the need for withdrawal of our attention from the pleasures and pains of the external world we can then turn our consciousness inward to pass into the next stage, that of concentration.
1.14. Concentration here means, “With one centre.” Ordinarily our mental processes do not take place around a deliberately set up centre. Rather they tend to rotate momentarily around a number of different and not clearly related ideas and feeling states. This is why the thinking process of most people is not very productive of inner harmony, for unless ideas are clearly defined and their relationships and inter-functions are clearly seen, they cannot be harmonised with each other. And without inner harmony of ideas and their related feelings it is impossible to attain true peace of mind.
1.15. To concentrate, the mind must set up in it some single idea, of such a kind that to it we can refer every other idea that we have. Such an idea gives us the power of unifying our mind, and so of bringing it to peace and harmony.
1.16..The central idea that we place in our mind has a similar function to the hub in the centre of a wheel, for as the hub holds the inner ends of the wheel's spokes, their other ends going into the outer rim, so our central idea holds the inner ends of all its derivative ideas, the other ends of which go outwards towards application in our physical body and so to the outer material world.
1.17. By setting up a good and true idea in the centre of the mind, we are enabled to bring all other ideas into right relation, and so into harmony. What is the best idea for us to set up? It is the idea that God is Good, or that God is True, or that God is Love. All these mean essentially the same thing, as we shall see when we consider the meditational process itself.
1.18. How does our central idea bring other ideas into relation with it? To understand this we must recognise that ideas are forms of energy, and that these energy forms are interrelated in such a way in their very essence, that if we do not place them together in the way proper to them, then they will fail to fit together, will strive against each other, and in their conflict will introduce disharmony into our mind and feelings, and through these into our whole being.
1.19. It is clear that the idea that we set up as central to our mind must be a true one, because if it is not, then all the other ideas which attach themselves to it will either also be untrue, or if true, then at war with the central idea.
1.20. Let us then set up in our mind the very good idea that we have chosen, the idea that God is Good and True, that He is Love. Then we can go on to the next stage, that of meditation proper, which we shall examine next month.