Monday, 27 June 2022
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In Meditation Essentials 05: The Path to Meditation, the Instructor states that

In the ninth stage, concentration is 100% focused, sharp, unwavering. That is what's traditionally called “one-pointed mind.” That is Dharana, concentration.

From this stage there is much more, which is represented in a poetic way by the three monks at the top. They represent additional concentration phases that you can develop (absorptions, jhanas, etc). They are useful, they have a place, they will inevitably be experienced by any serious practitioner, but they are not the goal. Our goal is not to be entranced by subtle states of concentration. Our goal is to liberate the mind from afflictions.


He then continues,

To liberate the consciousness from suffering, we only need sufficient concentration to not forget what we are doing in meditation, especially when facing difficult or painful impressions.

We need to transform radically, effectively, deeply. For that, we need concentration developed at least to the point where we can sit to meditate for whatever period of time we need to meditate and not forget that we are meditating. That amount of concentration is sufficient to do some good work on yourself. When you sit meditate, you might notice thoughts, emotions, sensations; yu might have some difficulty, but you never forget what you are doing; you do not become distracted. At that point, you can shift gears and develop your imagination.


Is Dharana, or 100% concentration, is the minimum level of concentration that you should possess before you can "shift gears and develop your imagination"? Or is it a lower level? It seems a little strange for the instructor to say that you *only* need Dharana as though achieving this was not extremely difficult. Nonetheless, I have been working on this assumption for some time and only recently have considered doing imagination practises with a level of concentration less than Dharana. This was on the basis of another instructor's advice (I can't recall the lecture but I recall it was the Instructor who did the Teleios Gnosis lecture) that by doing imagination practises, even with imperfect concentration, you are developing concentration as well as imagination, killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.

I am wondering if this apparent inconsistency points to a difference of view between these two instructors, with the Meditation Essentials instructor advising a sequential or 'diachronic' approach and the Teleos Gnosis one promoting a simultaneous or 'synchronic' approach?
4 months ago
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#27717
Accepted Answer
Traditionally, the 4th degree of meditative concentration establishes continuity of remembrance. We don’t forget the object of our concentration. This is where real imagination can begin to acquire some consistency and clarity. The lecture referenced below also corroborates the Meditation Essentials course and Teleios Gnosis.

What the latter instructor indicated is how with intermediate stages of concentration, one can begin to develop imagination and deeper stages of serenity simultaneously. However, one needs to be established in enough concentration to never forget oneself.

For thirty years I sought God. But when I looked carefully I found that in reality God was the seeker and I the sought. -Bayazid al-Bastami

4 months ago
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#27717
Accepted Answer
Traditionally, the 4th degree of meditative concentration establishes continuity of remembrance. We don’t forget the object of our concentration. This is where real imagination can begin to acquire some consistency and clarity. The lecture referenced below also corroborates the Meditation Essentials course and Teleios Gnosis.

What the latter instructor indicated is how with intermediate stages of concentration, one can begin to develop imagination and deeper stages of serenity simultaneously. However, one needs to be established in enough concentration to never forget oneself.

For thirty years I sought God. But when I looked carefully I found that in reality God was the seeker and I the sought. -Bayazid al-Bastami

4 months ago
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#27736
Thanks for your reply. I guess my issue is that "continuity of remembrance" seems like an incredibly high bar to meet. I don't say this out of defeatism. If anything it is the opposite - I am concerned that I am, or rather my ego is, using the high bar set by the Meditation Essentials instructor as a rationalization for not working on the death of the ego, the logic being that if I attempted to work on eliminating the ego in my current state of imperfect concentration I would just slip into fantasy and probably end up strengthening the very ego that I attempt to eliminate.

Also, since posing my question I have had the opportunity to reflect on the problem further and I would like to hear your thoughts on my conclusion if you have any:

There is an alternative to doing concentration-imagination-meditation as a linear, logical, sequential, three-stage process. The alternative is a kind of provisional path which you might call the devotional path. This involves doing practises which require a degree of concentration, imagination and meditation but are not 'pure' but done in a kind of messy way that is almost manic in nature. The introductory practise - vocalised prayer and mantra - is analogous to concentration; the intermediate form - silent prayer and mantra - is close to imagination (since you are imagining the sounds in your mind) and the advanced form - e.g. imagining the ego, the Being/Divine mother in anthropomorphic forms - can be likened to meditation, with the crucial difference that you are proactively conjuring the images rather than meticulously constructing scenes from your life and allowing them to emerge on their own.

Obviously, this path has lots of risks, but the reason why someone might prefer to do the devotional path instead of the "pure" concentration-imagination-meditation path is because it is more emotional in nature than the pure path which is more mental. I feel like the average person lacks the requisite mental energy to do the pure path because the pressures of day-to-day living saps the mental energy and renders them spiritually impotent. Modern life is so much about completing mental tasks, which means it is emotionally unfulfilling, hence the phenomenon of people getting home mentally drained and spending the whole evening binge-watching television etc. to basically drain the cyst of all their unused emotional energy.

So for a person who finds himself trapped in a day-to-day life which requires that he deplete himself mentally and be left with an uncomfortably full tank of emotional energy at the end of the day, perhaps the ersatz devotional path is the only option (at least provisionally, until such a time that he is able to make the necessary adjustments to his lifestyle (becoming more minimalistic and taking on less responsibility?) that leaves him with sufficient mental energy to do the proper path.
3 months ago
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#27842
Since we have three brains, it is necessary to develop them all in balance and not in isolation. This is the Gnostic path, which transcends the ways of the fakir, monk, and yogi.

For thirty years I sought God. But when I looked carefully I found that in reality God was the seeker and I the sought. -Bayazid al-Bastami

Almustafa selected the reply #27717 as the answer for this post — 3 months ago
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