THE secret of all success in every under-aking is concentration of all energy and all endeavor upon that aim. Remitted effort, with many irons in the fire sharing attention and strength, is a wasting drain upon time and human energy; and never, unless under rarely fortuitous circumstances, produces more than mediocre results.
This importance of concentration is well understood in its bearing upon the material interests in life; but its real potentiality is not even dreamed of until, in connection with the rhythmic breath, it is used to bring the mind under control; and, through the mind, the body. This system of teaching the overcoming of the lower self, by no means belittling the body or any form of matter but recognizing the power and influence of every atom, proves to us in clarion tones of conviction the personal responsibility of all who are endowed with intelligence for the perfection of that body through right thinking.
It is by controlling these bodies of ours first, with all their passions and emotionsnone of them designed for our undoing but as schools of strength that we build the ladders which carry us to unknown, almost unbelievable heights of intellectual and spiritual power; heights where we know that all lasting, enduring power is indissolubly united with, because proceeding from, the spiritual force; and is fed by rhythmic currents of Tattvic vibrations of so high and subtle a character that they are unaffected by the disturbances on the grosser planes of being. Only spiritually can we know them; and in rare, exalted moments they give us a perception of the Harmony of the Spheres.” The source of strength thus opened to one is inexhaustible. Practice will give every human being access to it, for the reservoir is within every soul.
The effective use of the master-key is by means of concentration. Only thus can we gain so firm a hold upon the key that we can unlock and open the magic realm of power to which it gives access. The practice of the exercises for Pranâyama purifies the body through the impetus it gives to the expulsion of all wastes, and it greatly increases the flow of the most favorable Tattvas, which, speeding rhythmically over the nerves, clear the channels of all jarring and jangling vibrations,those irregular and abnormal atomic vibrations which cause disease. In brief, this exercise through bringing the vital force, Prâna, under control and raising the currents to vastly higher power, more subtle vibrations, prepares the way and the stimulus to gain the power of concentration; for every particle of control over Prâna is control over the mind as well.
Concentration is the bridge which spans the gulf between the visible, physical world and the wonderful invisible one of Nature’s finer forces. It is the first step in consciously exercising the subconscious mind, the immediate vehicle of the soul’s expression. Only by concentration can we quiet the kaleidoscopic flitting of idle thoughts through the conscious mind. Through their train of upheaving emotions, they are constantly beating upon Nature’s harmonious vibrations and throwing them into waves of discord. The moment we arrest, through concentration, the energy-wasting activities of the senses, which furnish much of this mental hash, we bring our minds under control of our souls and give our real selves a chance to live and develop the powers which lie latent in every human being, awaiting only recognition and the stimulus of use or exercise to be evolved.
The need for the silent period of concentration is the need for meditation, that men may learn to know their spiritual selves, and gain the peace and strength which can be found in no other way. The man of meditation is the man of poise who meets life’s perplexities with the confidence drawn from this unfailing source. In the rush and turmoil of life this noblest part of being lies latent when not denied. The progress of the race during centuries has been vastly retarded by the mis-taken attitude towards the soul. It has been treated as a mysterious something, quite apart from practical affairs, which must be ” saved for the future life ; forgetful yea, for the most part ignorant ! that it is ever and always the immanent present which demands the exercise of the soul. By the conquest of self in that exercise and the first enemy is selfishness the soul saves it-self and grows to immortal stature.
It is the exaltation of the physical body as the mundane manifestation of self whose needs, comfort, and pleasure are of paramount importance that has made possible the development of the modern curse Sunday saints who are weekday sinners. The man who knows he is a soul and that every vibration he sends out will return to him, cannot have one set of morals for the first day in the week, and an antagonistic code governing his business dealings and private life. No one can learn the truths of the Tattvic Law without realizing personal responsibility for every thought and act. It is no longer an uncertain belief, or a creed. It is absolute self-knowledge, based upon unvarying natural law. And it fulfills the promise that The Truth shall make him whole.”
The cult of the ” Power of Silence ” arose from the immanent need to save the world from the abyss of materialism into which it has been plunging with its famous seven-leagued-boots of so-called progress. Humanity is just rousing itself to a realization of the depths of degradation to which this mad pursuit of material things as the be-all and end-all of existence is carrying the race. And it is waves of spiritual vibrations, generated by lofty aspirations in the silence, which are thus stirring the public conscience as never before.
From this leaven are rising insistent demands for ethical standards of conduct governing all human relations, and the time has come when these demands can never be silenced till the principle of the universal brotherhood of man passes from theory into vigorous practice, purifying every branch of government Municipal and National and elevating all the activities and relations of life.
This is the real Christ spirit which is to rescue humanity from the present intolerable conditions of sordid grind and vicious selfishness; and it is our privilege and responsibility to aid in thought as well as act in this evolution, of which Horatio Dresser wrote prophetically: ” The law of the Christ is the law of organic perfection, the Christ spirit made social is the supreme triumph of all the powers of evolution.”
Spiritual thought must descend as a balm to cleanse and to heal the wounds of crime. Not the common vulgar crimes of ignorance or of ungovernable passion which education combats; but the far more dangerous ones more heinous in the sight of God, more fatal to the soul ! the deliberate, cold-blooded crimes of Satanically immoral intellects which have sacrificed all human welfare and National prosperity to selfish personal greed and ambition. All human moralities melt away before such aims. But they can neither affect nor withstand the force of the stupendous moral wave circling round our sphere.
It is man himself who must ameliorate the present deplorable conditions; he created them created all wickedness, all crime and misery, through wrong thinking prompting evil doing. There is no wickedness in the lower kingdoms; and through the power of right-thinking man must lift the race from its present state of wretchedness and suffering. He must change conditions. Every human being, no matter how isolated the life, can aid the cause by right thinking. It is the quality of our thinking that through the Tattvas we draw to us makes us what we are, and upon which all our influence depends. Dedicate your daily life to high ideals, and in this training of self-control and self-knowledge your soul will increase in sensitive intuition to all promptings from the creative resources of the Spirit which are infinite.
Horatio Dresser, than whom none has aided more in the cult of spiritual thought, says :
Deep within every human soul there is a dormant intuition which, if it be quickened, will guide us as unerringly as the instinct of the dove, to our home in God ” (Power of Silence). That ” quickening” can be obtained only when we listen for our soul’s commands. This is difficult in the hurly-burly of life till we have made our minds sensitive to the soul’s lightest whisper by wooing it in silent concentration.
Remember that we thus raise the Tattvas to a subtle plane, which means increasing activity,–vastly increased velocity. This higher rate of vibrations increases the power of the soul to manifest its control over the mind, in fact, puts the two en rapport as nothing else can. The strength which the mind thus gains is shared by every nerve and externalized in the increased vigor and vitality of the body. Existence should be made a joy. Only thus can any soul manifest its highest powers. And to this end the daily life as far as it is under personal control, should be ordered with harmony and restraint. Moderation in eating is important and the purer the foods the substances furnished for these marvelous Tattvic activities the better the results.
When there is extreme physical disturbance, more especially congestions of any sort, the practice of the exercises for Prânâyâma the Held-breath — would be better omitted. At such times, alternate breathingon a count of seven for inhalation and nine for exhalation aids wonderfully in restoring poise, calming the mind, and soothing pain. Hold the breath a few seconds before exhalation, and observe a like interval be-fore inhaling the next breath. Repeat six or seven times that is, from twelve to fourteen breaths. According to need, this exercise can be taken frequently every hour or two through the day, and is especially helpful at any moment of excessive fatigue and mental or nervous disturbance. It is the sovereign remedy in all crises of heart weakness.
For pains in the back, the Held-breath exercise affords almost immediate relief, and its continued and regular practice strengthens a weak spine more than anything else I know of. It is well to precede this exercise with several rounds of alternate breathing as given above. Do not confound these exercises with rhythmic breathing (fully described in Chapter XXXI). They are remedial and corrective, designed to restore normal conditions. In the well-poised human being, Nature takes care of the regular alternation of the currents.
Instead of counting numbers during these exercises, and especially during the Held-breath, it is best to think a rhythmic syllable or phrase, a sacred word or lofty sentiment, the repetition of which holds the attention and promotes harmony. There is a deep significance in this which demands more extended consideration than can be given now. By accenting the first word in each group of three or four (according to count), the mind carries the number without difficulty, rhythm is promoted, and another anchorage is formed for the mind. This affirmation, from Mrs. Besant’s Thought Power, is an admirable sentiment for the purpose : The Self is Peace; that Self am I. The Self is Strength, that Self am I.” But any thought or word of deep significance to the student will be effective.
In the practice of the exercises for Prânâyâma and in the period of concentration following it, the eyes should be closed. This inhibits one disturbing sense-activity, and at the same time dis-closes to us a marvelous inner vision, whose development, like that of all the senses, depends upon use. The first aim of concentration is to with-draw all the senses from every external excitant, for this aids powerfully in quieting the mind. Exactly in the measure that we can hold our attention to a given point, do we increase the rate of the Tattvic vibrations, and therefore the force of Prâna.
One of the earliest results of regular and effective practice is the discovery that this internal vision looks upon a marvelous realm of color due to the Tattvas which we are able to recognize by their characteristic forms and colors. As these vibrations mingle, they vary from their simple forms to those of bewildering complexity, forming every conceivable goemetrical line and figure, and the blended colors producing myriad hues and tints. Many movements whirl around a central dot or vortex, which sometimes gives a sensation of great depth or unfathomable space. This hole, as it were, is Akâsha, the first vibration which was thrown into undifferentiated matter by the great Primary Cause, Divine Spirit hence, the beginning of the involution of Spirit into matter. Sometimes this Akâshic depth might be described as colorless a glowing white light again as black in its intensity, really indigo. These are the positive and negative phases; then, as the Yâyu vibrations mingle with the Akâsha, it changes to deepest azure.
Those who have once seen the wonderful play of light and color within realize for ever and aye that there is a realm where there is no night, and a light that penetrates the densest matter the light that never was on sea or land.