Teaching 1: Yoga of India
Teaching 2: Scale of Christian Perfection
Teaching 3: Three Ascetic Rules
Teaching 4: The Spiritual Director
Teaching 5: Retirement
Teaching 6: Psychic Confusions
Teaching 7: Prayer
Teaching 8: Meditation
Teaching 9: Methodized Meditations
Teaching 10: Concentration
Entry to Silence
Exercises of Concentration
Teaching 13: Contemplation
Teaching 14: Mystical Death
Teaching 16: Mystical Steps Synthesized
Teaching 1: Yoga of India
Indian peoples have been driven to practice Mysticism from the beginning of their civilization.
From early disciples of Great Initiates of the new race to mysterious dwellers in the Himalayas, numberless men have devoted their lives to study and practice Divine and ecstatic things, leaving for posterity examples, writings and documents as the foundation of every ascetic school until our days.
If you want to synthesize the ecstatic method of India to be one with God, eight fundamental bases should be known, i. e. Yagangas used by Indians of all times.
1. Yama: Change of life, detachment from the world, indifference or renunciation to any recreation of senses, and purification of customs.
2. Niyama: Inner purification of senses and mind; right intention and lack of concern for material goods. Fast, mortification and study of holy writings.
3. Asana: Fit posture for meditation, how to place arms and cross legs; genuflections.
4. Pranayama: Breath control, vital breath regularization. This exercise is divided into three parts: a) Puraka, breath-in; b) Rechaka, breath regularization; c) Kumbhaka: breath retention.
5. Pratyahara: Sensory abstraction, sensation control, desire removal.
6. Dharana: Constant and intense concentration on an object until one knows its tiniest parts; to leave aside from the mind any strange idea to that object.
7. Dhyana: Contemplative concentration on an object by so intense attraction that this object is absorbed.
8. Samadhi: Ecstasy or achievement of Union with God. It is Union of the disciple with God and the highest grade in Yoga. The soul achieves by ecstatic contemplation the Highest Consciousness and becomes the Whole.
The last three exercises, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi, are named Samyama as a whole.
If these bases are indispensable in every school of India, each school has paid more particular attention to one of these eight points, which was considered the most important in the exercise for meditation.
But I would dare to say this: no exercise can be achieved separately because are so closely interlinked that in one way or another they lead to the only goal that is Yoga.
The continuous exercise on these eight points has brought about many Mystical Paths, or Marga:
1. Karma Yoga or Karma Marga: Mystical road in search for God through action, particularly through charitable deeds and religious works. The soul attains Divine Union through action, through detached action.
2. Bhakti Yoga: Mystical road through loving devotion; soul entirely surrendered with infinite love.
3. Hatha Yoga: Mystical method of physical purification, bodily cleaning, control of external and internal organs; and handling of prana.
4. Tantra Yoga: Mystical road through sex drive control and magical powers control.
5. Laya Yoga: Mystical road through constant attention to the inner sound, or Nada, which is perceived by closing the ears.
6. Chakra Yoga: Mystical road through meditation on inner centers of force.
7. Mantra Yoga; Mystical road through repetition of sacred words, or through mental recitation of certain formulas with attentive meditation on the meaning of these formulas.
8. Raja Yoga: Mere mental and speculative mystical road; method of thought regularization and concentration. The disciple develops his mental powers as a whole by controlling his mind.
9. Jñana Yoga: Mystical road through knowledge, study of science, and search for wisdom.
These different Asceticism methods have fostered mystical literature, and those who have experienced these sublime states of prayer, many times could not resist conveying their impressions to posterity; this is why there are incomparable texts and wonderful books of different schools in the world.
The oldest ascetic text is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutrani, which with a reduced number of aphorisms describes different forms of mystical evolution of a Being toward God.
Next we find the Bhagavad Gita; this book describes how Krishna, Divine Incarnation, leads Arjuna through all stages toward Samadhi.
The Nirupana Chakra describes how to achieve the Supreme Power by developing Chakras.
The Shivagama, Shiva’s teachings, is an ancient work that cannot be found today; there are only fragments of it, which been taken from ancient texts; it describes the Union with God by controlling tattvas.
The Hatha Yoga Pradhipika and the Zivashamita describe how to achieve physical power leading to spiritual power.
So, according to their schools and methods, India and its sages and ascetics, sannyasin, brahmacharin and pandits are looking for conquering God and unifying the human principle and the Universal Principle.
Teaching 2: Scale of Christian Perfection
It is very important to know Christian Mysticism and be able to see how the West practices in its own way and with its own names, every ascetic exercise to reach the Divine Union.
As early as in Patristic Christian times, Eastern monks practiced different methodical exercises to reach high grades of spirituality.
Scattered in the wild and in oases of Egypt, the cenobites who dwelled on the convent of Sheeba Sea, carved in the rock of a high, inaccessible mountain beyond the Jordan, were witnesses of admirable exemplars of sanctity. It is of interest to read it in Saint Hilary’s Life, written by Saint Jerome, and in Saint Anthony Abbot’s biography, written by Saint Athanasius.
In 649, Saint Climacus, superior of monks in Mount Sinai, wrote a treatise on mysticism, called “Stair to Paradise” (Scala Paradisi) in which the soul attains ecstasy and Union with God through nine grades of inner and methodical development.
But it was Dionysius the Areopagite, around 500, that wrote famous texts on Mystical Asceticism, which are studied even today, particularly “De Divinis Nominibus” (“Divine Names”), “De Ecclesiastica Hierarchia” (“Ecclesiastic Hierarchy”) and “De Mystica Theologia” (“Mystical Theology”).
In the West, Casianus (360-435) sums up in “Compendium of Cenobites’ Rules” (“Instituta Cenobiorum Collationes”) the monkish asceticism in first four centuries as a whole, and gives a true mystical orientation to his readers; and Saint Benedict (d. 543) makes ascetic life easier with his famous rule and fosters it in his monasteries.
But a new mysticism emerges in Middle Ages, a great era of pair of opposites, with faith bordering on madness, deepest atheism, and sanctity and crime; it is the time of the true Christian Mysticism amid greatest miseries and black superstition, which culminates in most fervent charity and most perfect sanctity.
This movement emerged from few men and comprised thousands of beings after few years, and Christian religion –entirely identified with rites and hierarchical pomp– was renewed in spirit. This culminating movement, a Mystical Asceticism of work and prayer, takes monks out of their cloisters and transforms them into saints through the path that becomes a synthesis of the whole Christian Asceticism: apostolate and prayer, love for God and love for our neighbors.
Saint Dominic of Guzman (1170-1221) and Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) are prominent promoters of this new spiritual life.
Here is the motto of the Dominican school devoted to contemplation and work: “Contemplari et contemplata aliis tradere” (Contemplate and bring others to contemplation).
Numberless successive great ecstatic beings emerged from this rigorous and fecund school: Albertus Magnus (1206-1280) and his comments on Dionysius the Areopagite’s books; Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicus Doctor (1225-1274), who wrote extensively on Asceticism and reached the loftiest contemplation; Saint Catherine of Siena (1345-1380), transfigured during his lifetime by stigmata and love of Christ; and Blessed Enrico Suso (d. 1365) who left numerous writings on his mystical experiences.
The Franciscan School, which is both poetic and speculative, leads the soul to the summit of perfection by practice of virtues, particularly poverty, and by love for Crucified Jesus.
Here are the luminaries of this School: Saint Bonaventure (1221-1274) and his multiple ascetic and mystical treatises; Blessed Angela of Foligno (d. 1309) and his book on “Visions and warnings”; Saint Margarita of Cortona (1247-1297), who from a public sinner becomes a soul that through all Ascetic Paths reaches the Spiritual Wedding or Divine Ecstasy; Iacopone of Todi (d. 1306), a mystical poet who reaches Crucified Jesus by Sorrowful Mary’s Contemplation; and Saint Catherine of Bologna (1413-1463) who still keeps on her mummified face the mystical kiss of Christ.
Other renowned mystics assisted and helped the Dominican and Franciscan Mysticism, particularly the Flemish School, founded by Blessed John Ruysbroesk (1293-1381), author of “Mirror of Salvation” and “Galas of Spiritual Weddings”, and Thomas a Kempis (1379-1471), author of “Imitation of Christ”.
But Luther’s Reformation in the fourteenth century brings a Counter Reformation to Catholic Christendom, and new types of Mystics join to those already in existence.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the colossus in the Counter Reformation, by means of his Spiritual Exercises teaches the mystical path through individual shaped by Christ’s Will.
It is the Venerable Father de La Colombiere (d. 1682), spiritual director of Marguerite Marie Alacoque (1647-1690), who urged by her promotes Jesus’ Heart devotion and unification of will and feelings with Jesus’ will and feelings.
But from the Carmelite School, founded by Saint Therese of Jesus (1515-1582), the Mystical School of pure contemplation emerges and tends to lead the soul from Christ’s Human Nature to Absolute Divinity.
Saint John of the Cross (1542-1591), disciple of Saint Therese, perfects even more this contemplation by considering that the only result of contemplation is a total disappearance of the human personality in the Divine Immensity.
Miguel de Molinos, a Spanish priest (seventeenth century), in his “Spiritual Guide” even suggests to annihilate the Being, and Fenelon (1651-1715) disseminates similar mysticism called “Quietism”. But mysticism of this kind is condemned by the Church.
Saint Francis of Sales’ Mysticism (1567-1622) is entirely humanistic; a serene consciousness always in God; one can reach sanctity in every stage of life.
The French school (seventeenth century), founded by Cardinal de Berulle, puts Mystical Asceticism at the disposal of the dogmatic Church; every spiritual and psychic force acquired by the soul through asceticism should be poured on the Church for good of the souls and the bliss for the Divine Union should be delayed until the time of Death in the hereafter.
Numberless mystics of the oratory in France became extremely helpful to the Church, like Saint Vincent of Paul (1576-1660), founder of the Sisters of Charity; Father Olier (1608-1657), founder of Saint Sulspice’s Society; and S. J. Edes (1601-1680), founder of Jesus’ and Mary’s Congregation, who disseminated devotions to Jesus’ and Mary’s Holy Hearts..
Christian Mysticism sums up and establishes Christian Mysticism on three fundamental points: Purgation, Enlightenment and Union.
Purgative Way is for beginners in meditation, and necessary to purify the soul and remove its stains. It is an indispensable exercise to overcome difficulties in beginners and lack of experience in practice.
A soul cannot be purified without penitence, which purifies past faults and enables to resist future temptations, cleans and invigorates the physical body by means of fast, calms down emotions and overcomes temptations through devote practices, sense mortification, and alms and good works, and appeases the mind by controlling passions and leaving aside worldly pleasures; this exercise also strengthens three mental powers: memory, understanding and will.
Illuminative Way: puts the disciple in a position of remaining quite affectively concentrated on divine matters for a while. Primordial exercises are positive practice of all Christian virtues and Imitation of Christ’s Humane Nature. In the Purgative Way, the disciple would reflect during his meditation, but now he leaves this reflection aside because his soul is his recreation now. His Union with God becomes intimate and usual, stimulated by fervor and piety, and he achieves the full love by establishing the fruit of his experience in faith, hope and charity.
This meditation is also dangerous; the one who has tasted spiritual goods of meditation but is unable to get them, strives for possessing them again and if this is impossible, feels that is wasting time and stops the practice of meditation.
Unitive Way is intimate and ecstatic Union with God. According to this saying, “Ambulare cum Deo intus”, Simple Union is persistent and loving contemplation of God willingly extended during a more or less long while, which finally becomes continuous, even without intervention of the will. Its effects are a growing intimate sanctification of the soul, an extraordinary understanding of Holy Spirit’s gifts and an ineffable love for Divine things.
There are different grades of Divine Union in Christian Mysticism.
Simplicity Prayer is a state of the soul whose unique content is to see one self and be aware of the presence of God.
Next, Infuse Contemplation is an intellectual vision derived from God, along with a clear understanding and love for Divine things.
Next, Quietness Prayer is sometimes dry and sorrowful, and sometimes sweet and pleasant; here the soul, whether sorrowful or happy, remains suspended between heaven and earth; neither the lightest breeze nor the softest twinkling disturbs the spiritual quietness.
Through Full Union the soul gradually becomes God and eventually remains not only with the will but also absorbed with all soul powers, when is in the Divine presence.
Next, Ecstatic Union, called Spiritual Weddings; senses are in suspense and mind is entirely absorbed by God until it reaches immobility; if the mind wanted to escape from there it would be impossible.
Ecstatic Union has three different particular traits: Simple Ecstasy, that is, the soul faint in the Divine arms; Rapture, that is, impetuosity and violence stirring in an irresistible way; and Flight of the Spirit, that is, the feeling of divine understanding is so great that apparently wants to remove the soul from the body.
Finally, the loftiest state of Christian Ecstasy is the Transforming Union or Spiritual Wedding, that is, a total intimacy, quiet and indissolubility with God. Here are the effects of these Ecstasies: higher sanctity of life, perfect detachment from creatures, immense sorrow for sins committed, frequent vision of Jesus’ human nature and terrestrial living that is entirely Heavenly and Divine.
Here several psychic phenomena occur: frequent bodily, imaginative and mental visions, and frequent Divine touches, followed by a sudden and infuse understanding of things that apparently are inexplicable.
The elevation is so high in certain people that they feel and have upward ecstasy or physical levitation, which is called ecstatic flight or ecstatic journey; they walk quickly and do not touch the ground, like Saint Joseph of Cupertino who flew, carried a heavy cross and put it in a proper place; and sometimes, they walk over the water, in the ascetic exercise called “Transfretatio”.
These beings can emit luminous and odorous effluvia, practice long abstinence and their imitation of Christ is so intense that even have stigmata in their bodies.
Christian Mysticism does not dispose of low forms of Meditation and can bring obsession, a temptation more violent and persistent that ordinary temptations, and possession, a continuous presence of the spirit of evil in the body of the practitioner.
Teaching 3: Three Ascetic Rules
Mystical Asceticism means the process by which the soul strives or is driven by its ancestral destiny to realize God.
“Asceticism” refers in particular to the controlled exercise or effort, while “Mysticism” refers to the act of joining partially or totally the soul with God.
This Mystical Union, which transforms man into God, should not be imagined like a line traced forward, for nothing follows a straight line in the created Universe, but one should imagine it like an oscillating luminosity led toward certain center.
Dualists, creationists and animists were those who more strenuously fought for getting this Mystical Union; the very concept of their doctrine demands this because they make a total difference between spirit and matter. This concept brings to souls an intense eagerness for soaring from matter to spirit. So, among dualistic philosophers there were great speculative mystics who achieved the Union with God.
But the absolutists, monists and pantheists were not exempt of having great mystics for this reason, but always in a sense that was more passive than speculative.
But this trend to achieve the intuitive sense of the spirit manifests in all human beings, and even more among those who reached certain point in the Path of Evolution.
All great beings reached a perfect Union with God at moments of great elevation, whether by strenuous and intense work or by total surrender of their powers. But there are people who want to experience this ecstasy not only at certain moments but also to produce it at will by means of discipline and exercise.
Since immemorial times there were men devoted to Mystical Asceticism during their whole life. After you compare every school and sum up every teaching got by continuous practice, experience and studies, you can see how the gist of all these texts and philosophies lies on three rules, namely:
1) Method of Life;
2) Continuous Effort; and
3) Mind Control.
The Method of Life is a cell reorganization of the physical body, which prepares matter for its ascent. The physical body as a whole should remove toxins produced by bad habits and take new and fit substances by which spiritual vibrations can freely reach cerebral centers of the practitioner.
So, through the Method of Life, one removes obstacles, particularly bodily diseases, morbid habits of the subconscious, nervous weakness, exhaustion of organic energy, and muscular tremor in those who are not accustomed to high vibrations.
Continuous Effort means to be indispensably and continuously devoted to achieve the object.
Mental sloth acquired when one does not bring mental centers into action is overcome by devoting continuously to the exercise of prayer. Pressed efforts of the will, the mind moves negative waves and images away, and traces new cerebral grooves by habituating thought to concentrate on divine matters.
Ordinary emotions move to the brain by means of Continuous Effort and on the light of analysis lose their basic value; then you check emotionality and transform imaginative mental forms into ideals or into unique images by helping the exercise of meditation instead of damaging or distracting it.
So the practitioner achieves Mind Control. Mind surpasses the mental surge and controls it; so it can reflect on itself the Divine image and feel the ecstasy of God’s Presence.
As soon as one gets Mind Control, the latter guides the soul toward God and ecstasy in two ways: by speculation or by relaxation, by active prayer or by passive prayer.
Speculation fixes the mind in a continuous way on only one object and eventually the mind gets into oneself, becomes oneself and then the soul can penetrate depths of the Divine Essence by following that path.
Relaxation removes continuously any thought and eventually and slowly the soul, which is entirely empty, has only one thought: the Divine Realization.
But the relaxation method cannot be achieved without effort. Certain mystics put the beginner on this road, which is too much dangerous and inadvisable. Some people enter quite easily this path by an ancestral inclination, but even in the beginning they have to be forced to follow the ordinary path.
The man should not forget that he is man and that, if the soul has divine possibilities, he never has to reject his high mission entrusted: simply, to be a man.
One should always humbly pray the Masters to guide the soul through the Right Path.
“Oh you thousands and thousands of men who fought and strove in one way or another, on one earth or another, on one creed or another to achieve the Union of the Soul with God, and taught this teaching to men: Patañjali in India, Priests in Egypt, Christian Climacus and Casianus, Ramakrishna and Emerson in these times, unknown Children of the Mother, all of you are called today to write on your minds and hearts, only in ten words, the eternal rules of this great doctrine: Through Body Control, by Continuous Effort and by concentrating the Mind on the Spirit, the Soul joins to God in Mystical Wedding.”
Teaching 4: The Spiritual Director
On the Ascetic Road, particularly during the first times, a Spiritual Director must guide the soul through his proper path to reach the Mystical Union of the soul with God.
Undeniably there are extraordinary souls who count on an especial direction, whether from their ancestral subconscious or, as in some rare cases, directly from Masters who lead the mystical movement from the astral world.
Numa Pompilius in Rome, a Pythagorean king, was led by the Nymph Egeria, linked by spiritual love; and he never gave any law for his people without previous counsel of his beloved ethereal being.
Saint Catherine of Genoa never could have any Director. As soon as she tried to be under certain especial direction, something extraordinary occurred in her life and she had to leave this guide aside. But meanwhile, the very Master Jesus appeared daily to her and enlightened and led her continuously.
Even Helen Petrovna Blavatsky could not count on any spiritual guide on Earth, for the Masters were in direct communication with her and imparted their orders. This woman, who was so eccentric and obstinate against society orders, was entirely humble and meek before the will of those who guided her in the road from the hereafter.
So, if there are unusual souls led directly from above, most mystics with no visible guide, particularly the beginners, show a pitiful state in their ascent, if it may be called so. In fact, the majority of them wander from one place to another, from one exercise to another, and from one disappointment to another, and eventually they feel so confused and enmeshed in their thoughts that waste as much time to unlearn what they learnt as the time they spent to learn it.
And even these people cannot be a quite ductile matter in good hands because their souls are like a cloth scribbled and tainted with wrong concepts and prejudices that are apparently almost indelible.
So the greatest bliss and the safest hope are to find a Spiritual Director to achieve the Divine Union.
Of course, this is a quite sensible matter; those words of Saint Therese of Jesus addressed to her nuns never shall be sufficiently praised: “Seek a pious man of letters as your Spiritual Director”.
The mission of leading the souls toward perfection is the worthiest mission on Earth; but this demands a particular vocation and to love the souls intensely. Just as an explorer wants to travel, a lavish man wants to spend money, a researcher only sees his own books and a mother only looks at her children, so the Spiritual Director only lives to conquer souls, to kindle the divine fire in them and to make this fire continuously burn.
Dom Bosco exclaimed: “I am thirsty of souls”, and Ramakrishna wept and sighed, claiming from the roof of his house: “Souls destined to me, come!”.
So, the Spiritual Director must have irresistible love for the souls, spontaneous and sympathetic communication to attract all of them treated by him, and application to the study keeping them united in the practice of prayer. Also he has to be adorned by all general virtues, but these virtues should not excel one another.
This spontaneous sympathy was the characteristic gift in Saint Francis of Sales, a great director of souls. A lady told about him when he left Paris: “Oh thief! He leaves and takes our hearts with him!”.
The one whose vision is one-sided sees only one aspect of the ascetic life and only practices certain virtues; he cannot be a good Spiritual Director because he should not be one flower but a bouquet containing different perfumed flowers.
Also he must be very tactful and not extremely sweet in order to overcome and lead the souls to their destination; he must have courtesy and diplomacy but with discipline, timely severity and careful contact with the soul entrusted to him. These gifts should accompany always the Spiritual Director like a man and his shadow.
Ignatius of Loyola would lend money to Francis Xavier when the latter would gamble away in order to become his friend and conquer his soul, such as he did later.
For a while Ramakrishna would often look for Vivekananda, but later he would throw him out without compassion.
Monsignor Berulle instructed Madame Acarie to attend to balls with her husband, be properly dressed and low-necked, as usual in those times, and dance and be attentive with everybody according to their rank and position, but she was bound to wear cilice under her gown.
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky’s mood was surprisingly variable with Colonel Olcott, and passed almost suddenly from a quite fine courtesy to crudest severity in order to foster endurance in this brave man.
A characteristic gift in a good Spiritual Director is his discernment to know those people entrusted to him by different superiors, and when these persons are subject to him, he counts on an indisputable steadiness and authority to lead them through the most proper path; and particularly at difficult and crucial times he must have extraordinary power to tell: “Your destiny is such or such”.
Also he must have a personal realization of external and external practices on Mystical Asceticism: books, knowledge and references must be for him only a help.
Sometimes he loves so much the soul of his disciple that partially knows and experiences the way and works that this disciple has to experience.
The integral idea of a Spiritual Director’s work in a soul has to survive from the beginning to the end, without any variation, in such a way that the disciple is not subject to the mission of the Spiritual Director and the latter is not carried away by the characteristic mission of the disciple.
Once the Spiritual Director is chosen, the spiritual direction cannot be changed, there are intertwined currents between master and disciple that go beyond life, and just as the Director shoulders the ignorance of his disciple, so the latter assumes the responsibility for the material living of the former.
In certain cases direction can be changed but this advice ever comes from the very Director or is determined by an extraordinary event.
Affective relationships between Spiritual Director and disciple have to be extraordinarily pure; there must be mutual respect and absence of any excessive familiarity between them. The Director constantly sees the shining light of the spirit behind the shell of the disciple’s body. That is why he does not stagnate in the direction of the soul and, without any haste to pass his disciple from one state to another, raises him little by little, as he discovers the divine action within, remembering always the divine sentence: “Souls should be rather driven than dragged. The more you touch a rose the more quickly it withers”.
If there are mystics of different kinds, a good Spiritual Guide is indispensable in every case.
There are three kinds of mystics: lonely, orderly and “weathercocks”.
Lonely mystics are men who abandoned the world, but live under the guide of a Spiritual Director and follow and respect him in everything.
Orderly mystics are men who besides their Spiritual Director whom they follow blindly, live with him at the same house and in the same monastery.
“Weathercocks” do not count on certain guide or Spiritual Guide, and are carried away by their instinct or by something that in their view is Divine inspiration.
Lonely mystics strictly obey their Spiritual Director, entirely surrendered to his will as to method of the exercise and internal discipline. Their faith is based on total indispensable trust in him for their realization.
When Saul falls to the earth by a light from heaven as he comes near Damascus, he asks, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”. And the Lord replies, “Go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do”. The Highest Spirit refuses to lead him from the beginning, but sends him to Ananias so that the experience of man may cooperate with the Divine Grace.
Orderly mystics, who live in community with the Spiritual Director, mainly prevail among Eastern people. A Hindu chela ought to live along with his Guru and has to follow him blindly. A blind obedience cleans a mind from any past prejudice and put the individual being in tune with Guru’s forces, making him fit for reach highest psychic and spiritual successes.
Indian chelas even meditate on the physical form of their Master and during their meditation imagine their Master being seated on the little heart chakra until their identification with him.
“Weathercocks”, who do not count on Spiritual Director, even may perish when they start a road that is unknown and full of dangers.
Teaching 5: Retirement
Spiritual Retirement or entire detachment from the world during a year is indispensable to a proper development of ascetic exercises.
When a disciple is sufficiently advanced in concentration, he can abstract his mind whether in the most silent cavern or in the most boisterous metropolis, but as disciplinary postulate has to seek his periodical detachment from the world.
Just as office workers anxiously expect the weekend to go out of the city, to go to the country, to get some fresh air and freely live in contact with Nature to invigorate the physical body, so mind needs its rest and change of environment to be pervaded by magnetism and to renew its vigor.
You can do different Spiritual Retirements during the year.
One annual 8-15 day Retirement.
One quarterly 1-2 day Retirement.
One monthly 1-day Retirement
The annual Retirement must be extremely detached and rigorous. Seek a silent place, far from noises and usual point of residence, and try to leave entirely any worry aside. Think that you broke with the world and are without job, family, friends and responsibilities. Try no to talk at all about things referred to your private life and that no strange thought disturbs your mind. Since this annual Retirement is made in common with other companions, obey entirely the person that leads the Retirement and the established timetable.
In the morning, rise your thought to the Divine Mother and Masters for their orientation during the day toward the noble purpose already established; if the subject is not previously determined, then choose a subject of prayer as your guide during the day; later fulfill your hour of meditation.
Listen very closely at the teaching and lectures, and try to keep in mind the main points to consider them later.
Next go out and in the open invigorate your body with handicrafts, suitable respiratory exercises and baths with natural water of river, sea or cascade.
Then you shall take a long stroll and prevent your mind from thinking anything strange to natural forms that you are observing in the way.
When you are back, you shall study teachings related to your daily meditation until lunch time.
In your breaks you should converse about spiritual or helpful things and avoid excessive laugh, ordinary talk and controversies.
You should keep absolute silence during hours not devoted to strolls.
In the morning, you should raise your thought to the Divine Mother and the Master for their guide, during the day, toward the noble end established and, if this end is not established beforehand, choose a subject about prayer as your guide for the whole day; later do your meditation hour.
After lunch, your long rest shall enable dreams to continue the mental work.
The afternoon shall be more or less divided as the morning: before you retire, in your backward survey, try to recall those more stimulating subjects and words for your devotion and attention all day long, which may be a helpful guide after you finish your Retirement.
The quarterly Retirement shall be performed as the annual Retirement, with little variations.
If the disciple cannot get teachings and lectures, he shall prescribe his own subjects for daily meditation or shall read them on a proper book.
Every person can make his monthly Retirement at home or in the open.
Some people have at home a room particularly devoted to prayer and study; it is a little sanctuary where none enters and whose purity is kept by prayers and holy thoughts. There the disciple can be detached and meditate, read spiritual writings and be encouraged at hard moments.
The timetable for Retirements will be as follows: in the morning, when you get up, one hour for tiding yourselves up: later, thirty minutes of meditation. Do not eat anything until after his exercise, and you will have breakfast only after it. And have thirty minutes for this purpose. At once you shall go to the teaching, which shall last one hour. Manual crafts shall take place when this hour finished.
You should do your best in your works, not intervening in tasks of others, and conversing only about indispensable things.
Later you’ll have thirty minutes for lunch and thirty minutes of recreation.
Later the silence shall be strict, and not only none shall speak during it, but even every one shall remain in his bedroom or proper place avoiding any annoying noise.
In the afternoon, silence shall last two hours. Later you shall study until the refreshment time, which shall last thirty minutes.
Later a lecture shall be given, which shall last thirty minutes. Next, thirty minutes of meditation and later we will make a stroll until the supper time. Make the stroll all together, not moving away or forming groups apart, and converse about spiritual things.
After the stroll, thirty minutes for the supper and thirty minutes of recreation. Later you’ll have thirty minutes of spiritual reading and fifteen minutes of backward examination.
Then the silence shall be strict and doors of the house will be under lock and key.
In the morning of the last day of Retirement, you shall be given an exhortation, and after the time for lunch, the Retirement shall finish enabling the Sons to enjoy among them a healthy relaxation for a while.
The Sons shall entirely perform necessary tasks related to arrangement, cleaning and nutrition, so that no person from outside may disturb them during their days in Retirement.
You should have a wide room for study, and bedrooms properly ventilated.
For those Sons who wish an absolute Retirement for some days or for a season, there must be suitable little houses with one or two rooms, where they can keep themselves entirely away and apart from any contact with the world or men.
Before the Sons start such Retirements, they Sons shall receive food, fire and necessary clothes for this period of time. Some of the Sons shall be in charge of picking up, at certain place near the house, a letter where the man in retirement shall express his most urgent needs, and later of putting there what he needs so that this Son may get it once the messenger has left it.
Such Retirements can be done in the open, by choosing a lonely place and apart, keeping more or less the same timetable of other Retirements.
These Retirements can last several days or even months when the Sons are sent by their Superiors to a particular mission or they travel in pilgrimage.
The Mother’s Sons sometimes love high and snowy mountains though do not disdain their houses in shaded and deserted places. Sometimes they used to be hidden in remote and unknown islands watching over the Holy Grail, but when it is necessary for the sake of souls they use to abide in great cities and active centers. But all of them are continuously sighing for that place that She promised but no human foot has trodden as yet.
Teaching 6: Psychic Confusions
If the soul may start the ascetic path for personal purposes, as it progresses in his practices fatally has to understand that the only reality that it seeks is not the conquest of certain powers but the Divine Union. If a being, after certain mystical experiences, persists in his personal selfishness, is carried away by evil destructive forces and becomes what we may call a black magician.
Forces of the Great Element from the sacrum plexus ascend voluntarily of involuntarily, by Meditation or Concentration, to the brain and reach the Crown Center and facilitate the Divine Union. But in a lost and selfish mystic, these currents are deviated by the personal impulse of the individual, and thrown to lower centers.
If this wrong procedure does not lead to unbalance or despair, brings psychic depravation. A black magician refuses to join his powers to the Eternal Forces, to the Divine Union; he wants to keep them in himself and to use them for his own purposes; therefore, he is like Lucifer, thrown to depths, to the abyss, and forsaken.
By virtue of a force that cannot go out of him, a being that missed his way is harried by horrible and bestial desires, and his urge for physical suffering even becomes self-martyrdom. Self-imposed practices of certain Indian fakirs of low category are well-known; they sleep on iron-pointed beds, remain on improper postures until they atrophy their members, eat portions of ground glass and commit many other mad things.
The astral body is directly influenced as the result of these aberrations.
The individual being is protected by an astral radiation so as the shell covers an egg; this impedes that other emanations to his type may reach him. When his control-wheel is improperly forced by wrong psychic practices, this control-wheel loses its balance and gives free way to any influence. Then strange materialized thoughts, mental larvae and elementary beings of Nature enter this protective circle and finally vampirize and control their victim.
Sometimes this is so serious that the individual being does not act alone but is directed like an automaton by evil entities who have taken possession of his auric circle. According to Christians, these men are possessed by the demon, and according to spiritualists, obsessed by demon, but always it is the same thing: improperly oriented evil forces burst when they do not find the right way and produce a split in the astral aura.
Many times, some defensive forces that remained in the astral body can repel these influences and restore normality and health in the individual being, but other times the balance in these souls can be reestablished only by death.
Teaching 7: Prayer
Apparently, Man and God are two different things, but after man removes the veils of illusion, he realizes God, and then those things are like only one. This is happiness and paradise, and that is why, even being unaware of it, the individual being on earth hankers for spiritual perfection and for meeting God.
Prayer is the means to find God, and elements to reach them are: harmony between feelings of the heart and mental forces.
Prayer is then indispensable for realization; it is the lever on which spiritual life and its success are established; Christ said, “Watch you therefore, and pray always” (“Oportet semper orare”, Luke 21:36).
“Oportet”, it is necessary. Prayer is a need and has to be continuous, persevering until the transformation of every daily act, even the most insignificant, into a Prayer, into a Method of life.
“Semper”, always. One has to strive to pray always. Always we have to be self-controlled so that prayer, never detached from the life of man, may become Continuous Effort.
“Orare”, to pray. Prayer must have a quality, namely, its trend must be always to pray in the most perfect way until it becomes Mind Control. The practice of prayer is in three forms:
1) Operative Prayer;
2) Vocal Prayer; and
3) Mental Prayer.
Operative Prayer: through constant self-discipline at work transforms works into realization by absence of desire and by humble offering to God. The disciple does not hanker for the fruit of the work or for his personal and relative satisfaction, but just tries to please God and achieve His Divine Will.
Vocal Prayer: helps raise thought and purify affections by means of repeated and long vibrations of words. Beyond any dispute, liturgical chants, holy hymns and well-known prayers are valuable.
Mental Prayer: you achieve it by continuous observation of external and internal things until you consider them in such a way that you know their essence.
Mental Prayer is divided into four parts:
3) Contemplation, and
Mental Prayer is active or passive.
It is active by establishing and measuring extremely the will power; and passive by simplifying extremely the state of consciousness.
In Meditation, emotional forces are transferred from the ordinary plane of activity to the desired plane to achieve the Divine Love, reaching the individual being by constant purification, humility and renunciation, self-discipline and great devotion to God.
In Concentration, mental forces are controlled by continuous mental fixation, and then one gets: self-control, self-direction, higher knowledge and clear mental illumination.
Contemplation is the ecstatic state in which the soul of the disciple, which is based only on intuition, finds and joins to the essence of things.
Union: is the moment when the soul of the disciple joins closely to the Divine Soul, by losing every communication with lower –sensory or rational– planes.
Teaching 8: Meditation
Meditation refers to sensitive aspects of the soul.
Meditation is an imaginative discourse; it is useful because brings into play all mental forces of the individual being by guiding them toward the achievement of the sensation wished.
Meditation is divided into two parts: purgative and loving. The first is fit for beginning the exercise; and the second avoids fatigue in the beginner and promotes perseverance on the path. Purgative meditation shows entirely soul wounds and their horror and stink, but you should not permit your soul to be despondent; loving Meditation liberates you from this evil.
Here are the main methods for exercises of Meditation: Meditation read, Meditation dialogued, sensitive Meditation and affective Meditation.
Purgative or loving meditation can be active or passive.
The individual being should not remove passions by killing them or trying to ban them when they emerge in his life because this way he only gets rebelliousness and apparent submission, since later passions come again more powerful and stronger into being at any moment. But you can overcome or transform them definitely by leading them and making a true transmutation of emotional values.
Meditation is not the purpose of Mystical Asceticism but just an exercise for beginners. Once certain scrupulous souls start this exercise, they refuse to leave it aside, but this danger should be avoided. Meditation is a useful and indispensable exercise in the beginning, but later a burden to discard. The exercise of Meditation occupies a site in the lake of mind and in this way displaces the spiritual waters; but some day one has to dispose of it so that these waters may entirely fill the lake of our mind
Many mystics say that Saint Ignatius of Loyola imposed on his disciples the exercise of Meditation, but if we stated this, then we would be seriously unjust with this enlightened contemplative being. The Book on Spiritual Exercises, where the Saint describes with so many details different exercises of Meditation, are only for beginners; something that, in his view, has to be done only once in our lifetime, in the beginning of the Spiritual Path. He does not prescribe to Jesuits, by means of his rules, any method of determined Meditation, which only later would be introduced in his Society. Ignatius encouraged and urged souls to the exercise of Meditation when they would begin the Spiritual Path.
The exercise of Meditation is greatly useful and, as soon a soul manifests spiritual trends, he must be guided to its practice, though those souls that begin, particularly young people, have to be pushed more than the rest. Necessarily one must not forget that, if the soul is called to the Ascetic Path, his wish for finding it is enough in order to be partially on it. If a soul leaves the exercise of Meditation, this soul is tied to the Mystical Path, and sooner or later has to return to it.
Meditation is an exercise whose practice by every soul cannot be predicted. Certain souls start but are not sincere, or determined or faithful day by day to the exercise; of course, these souls have to practice it longer. But other souls are more determined and should not be delayed too much time on the exercise.
Meditation is ever greatly useful. Certain souls, even after they climbed great ascetic and mystical states in times of tremendous spiritual dryness, must return to the exercise to take some advantage in the hour of Mental Prayer.
The habit of Meditation, particularly among beginners, requires certain method. This method must be followed with constancy and tenacity, persevering on it all the necessary time, according to the opinion of the Spiritual Director.
If there are many didactic methods of Meditation, one should make up his mind for a clear and simple method; the affective method is very advisable.
Preparation is fundamental and basic before Meditation. It is to choose beforehand the proper subject to develop during Meditation; this subject must be prepared because otherwise all the time destined to the exercise can be wasted when one tries to find it. This is called remote preparation.
Affective Meditation is divided into five parts:
4) Purposes; and
Not all souls can be given the same method as exercise of Meditation. Those people with little imagination need to stop considerably on the imaginative picture; they can divide the time of Meditation into three parts: preparation, imaginative picture and subsequent effects.
Those people with vivid imagination must reduce the duration of the picture as much as possible. Certain beings do not memorize sufficiently; in order to develop it, they should stop now and then to make a mental sketch of the object of their meditation; as it were, they are intercalating short imaginative pictures.
Your spiritual progress can be easier by making use of a spiritual book that should be read slowly and, after a pause, considered sentence by sentence. It is useful to take an object, like a flower or a pious image, observing every one of its parts with care and without haste until you find something that excites the observation. Sensitive persons, with vivid imagination and good memory, get a lot from these meditative observations: easily they weep before a sorrowful scene, enjoy a beautiful image and also feel anger or hatred before a sinful or ugly image.
Insensible people, those who are slow to feel the effects of their observations and considerations, should apply to colloquial Meditation. They should put themselves in the presence of God, of the Divine Mother or of the Holy Masters, and should to talk to them, entrusting them their secrets and imagining that they listen to their answers.
Sensitive Meditation is very necessary for some souls; the individual being takes his senses, invigorates them and guides them toward his own spiritual advantage. For instance, if you want to meditate on a rose, stare at it until your eyes are filled with beauty; smell is fragrance, try to feel its freshness in your mouth, imagine that you touch its silky petals and listen to the one-day poem that just a rose knows how to recite.
In his meditation on the hell, Saint Ignatius of Loyola says to his disciples they must try to see the frightening contortions of bodies that are burning there, to hear the screams of the damned, to feel the rotten smell of sulfur and to imagine how the fire is scorching their hands.
Preparation must be short, like an aspiration, a prayer or a change between the usual life and life at that moment.
The imaginative picture is extremely important. It has to be vivid, concise, clear and ineffaceable, but short. Imagination must be controlled when it soars very easily. The imaginative picture should not last more than seven minutes when the duration of the exercise is thirty minutes. If the picture is clearly presented, the will gradually shall be attached to it, naturally giving it live and feelings. The latter shall produce effects and sensations, whether of sorrow, or love, or purgation or elevation. To use them in due way, they must not be simply objective and fleeting, but must leave behind them something effective, something like a fountain where the soul may go all day long.
But in sensitive Meditation, excessive sensibility is not preferable, for sensibility is like waters of the ocean stirred by a storm: the higher are the crests of waves, the deeper are these crests. So the higher is the sensibility of the disciple, the stronger shall be his contrary temptation all day long.
Your purposes must not be too many or impossible to achieve.
Consequences shall be watched over and self-controlled all day long.
You should meditate at a tranquil place without any eventual disturbance. You should choose the same determined hour for all days. So, the subconscious converts the exercise into a habit; preferably, the time of meditation has to be before lunch, or even better, before the beginning of morning activities.
The posture must be neither very comfortable nor too much uncomfortable. Comfortable or very uncomfortable positions are for far-reaching contemplative persons. In a seated posture, body must be straight, forehead raised, waist loose, hands united not tightening the fingertips, and arms relaxed up to the elbows.
The exercise of Meditation can be active or passive.
It is active when the soul needs a great effort to achieve sensations; then it must make use of several discursive methods whose pictures are various and colorful. Many words attend to the mind of the practitioner, and the more fecund is the discourse, the more important are the effects of the active Meditation.
Passive Meditation responds to causes that are neither physical nor moral; the practitioner feels a growing boredom before repeated pictures and many discourses and words. This Meditation is slow and, almost inadvertently, the practitioner makes a halt before every word, and fewer words give more advantage.
By means of the active exercise, a soul was meditating on vanities of the world and, suddenly, apparently he saw the world like a wider and wider gap, and thanks to this void this soul hated all useless and vain words; this was an internal warning in the sense that the soul had to pass from active Meditation to passive Meditation.
Then, in due time it is necessary to change the exercise.
Gradually, words must be less and less; instead of seeking sentences to enrich the discourse, you should try to eliminate any useless and vain word. You should try to make only one image and nothing more than one in the picture. Sometimes one word is enough to fill the whole f Meditation.
Teaching 9: Methodized Meditations
This method will be particularly useful for beginners when they enter the way of Meditation, and will facilitate extraordinarily this exercise.
Subject: The Black Lady.
The practice of this Meditation leads the soul to consider its wrongs and faults, and to abhor them; every perverse act committed by the practitioner becomes a living picture that causes him to suffer and purge his evils. So, if the effect has to be more tangible, you should meditate by remembering certain events, moments and places. Also it is very useful to consider those diseases, financial troubles, humiliations and disappointments suffered as the result of past vices. A Meditation of this kind is generally practiced for one or two weeks.
Louise La Valliere, favorite of Louis XIV of France, replaced in the royal favor by Madame Montespan, retired into the convent of Barefooted Carmelites in Paris, and there she spent the rest of her lifetime, which ended in 1710, in penitence and prayer. She was very old and in her view she believed that her past was forgotten for ever, but one day, crossing the yard of the convent, she saw how a young novice, reclined on the fountain, was drinking water with the hollow of the hand. By this picture Louise recalled like suddenly her former youth and beauty when she would drink water from the fountains, in the park of Versailles, from the hollow of the loving prince’s hand. This image and those events and places that she considered forgotten for ever brought to the old Carmelite a new and living abhorrence of her past life. Terrified, hidden in her cell, she died three days later, refusing all the time to drink just a sip of water as a new atonement of this revived past.
Subject: The Abyss.
A repented soul loses its old personality so much attached to human vanities; then her adored material idol falls to its feet torn to pieces. Sadness, affliction, desolation and the time wasted in vain make her feel alone, very alone and like a strange soul in contact with old habits and costumes, and this desolation moves it further and further away from the old things. This exercise should be practiced on a dark and isolated room, without pleasant things on sight. Also, strolls, talks and entertainment should be avoided during this time.
In spite of being a friar and priest, Luther was not fully sure of being on the path to eternal salvation. An infinite sadness pervaded his soul in hours of prayer, his physical forces were quickly lesser and lesser, he disappeared more and more and finally even did not went out of his cell. But in that desolating loneliness, he undid his old personality that trusted more in dogmas and ceremonies than in true devotion. He understood that just a repented and desolated heart, which knows how to look at the heaven from the abyss of life and to trust in God, was able to come gradually close to Him.
Subject: The two Ways.
Now the practitioner finds pleasure in devoting his senses to spiritual things while he moves his senses away from material things. He is like a wayfarer who is tired and from a distance looks at the goal that he wants to reach and, as he comes near, becomes more and more detached from memories and habits to which he was so much tied. In this exercise you should take considerable time, one month or two. During it, the practitioner has to do long lonely strolls, to read exemplary biographies and to visit temples and holy places.
Mejnour refused to talk to Glyndon about his initiation desires; in the beginning, since the arrival of the Englishman to the lonely castle among mountains, the initiate wanted gradually to habituate the disciple to loneliness and to be detached from his past and his habits. He just permitted the company of the disciple during his long excursions, and that Nature should awake in him the sense of life and of his future spiritual vocation.
Subject: The Standard
The soul has purged its past and now turns to loving exercises during this Meditation; since the soul has been called to the spiritual life, he chooses its particular vocation within. For the soul, material things are unimportant and its only concern is to fulfill its spiritual vocation and the will of the Divine Mother. For two to three months the soul must be devoted to this exercise, detached from everything and from all; during this period, some persons remain entirely hidden from the world.
Henri Dunant (b. Geneva, past century) after his stay for business in Solferino, 1859, before the sight of horrors, riots and suffering of the wounded, was unable to live in peace and desisted from business. Then this banker, forgetting his personal and financial concerns, remains absorbed, like in a dream; his only vocation is written with fiery letters in his soul. It is a dream, a vision, an obsession, an intense eagerness for making the suffering more bearable in those wounded of war and for leading all the world, friends and enemies, to respect the wounded, and this way he became the founder of the International Red Cross.
Subject: The Temple of Gold.
The internal sensitive effects continuously comfort the soul. During this exercise, love is so intense that the soul strives to communicate its happiness to all the humanity; it is as if it were returning transformed to the world. Contemplation of Nature, beauty of human ideals and efforts of the souls to reach God fill it with intense rejoice. The soul beautifies all that is material by means of the material force, and even finds consolation in work, help and good done to the neighbor. This exercise takes several months.
Chaitanya (b. 1485, d. 1553), the great lover of Krishna, feels the flames of the Divine Love and cannot stop. He goes out of this loneliness and runs to preach the Divine Love through the roads of Bengal. He sings, shouts, proclaims and invites all to the feast of the Loved One.
Subject: The Veil of Ahehia.
The soul is flooded by torrents of pleasure, and the chest is filled in Meditation and even out of it with an unknown supreme love; past struggles and the time of trial seem derisory.
Casianus, father of the Western monks, states, says the true prayer is immense love for God for the sake of Him, not expecting any reward and with concern for struggles, suffering or events that the disciple may undergo. All these things are insignificant for him and totally unimportant in comparison with the Divine Love.
Subject: Resurrection of Hes.
The soul reaches during this exercise a total communication of its sensibility with the Divine sensibility.
Marguerite Marie Alacoque was visited in a vision by Jesus who asked her heart. When Marguerite did so, He put it into His Holy heart, and she saw how her own heart was consumed in the flames of the Divine Love. Later Jesus returned it purified and like a burning flame, and this way the Divine Union remained sealed between the two.
Teaching 10: Concentration
Concentration is an exclusive gift of the mind, a mechanical thought power to sustain and fix closely an idea. This gift has not anything to do with kindness of the heart or spiritual aspirations of the soul.
But this exercise is very useful because as a stage to achieve the realization and a piece of the great fulcrum that has to move the will in order to reach the divine consciousness.
Man is determined and limited by his mental vortices, which continuously emerge from the brain like circular whirlpools that acquire color, expression, form and materialization according to the power that sustains them
As man emits his mental forces, he remains subject to them, whether produced by his subconscious mind or by his rational mind, or also by those thoughts made by other brains, which affect him directly or indirectly.
Concentration controls these vortices, for it removes from the mind any thought, image or understanding, except one already determined. Concentration is the gift of only one image, of only one desire and of only one will. Some people stated that this exercise is not indispensable, but this can be applied only to a person whose mind is already controlled and appeased.
When the aspirant, skilled in the exercise of Meditation, has explored the internal ways of affection and sensibility, and deliberately excluded any non-volitive emotion, he passes to the exercise of Meditation. But he needs to hold on and suffer in order to pass from one exercise to another.
A light boredom enters the heart of the disciple when his mind starts to know itself driven by a sensible meditation; gradually soft pleasures and sweet talks lose their power. Then he dislikes meditation and his only wish is to remain there calm and in peace.
The test of Concentration includes understanding; it is an exclusive function of memory and understanding, which fight a will that is pure and void of all. A continuous heedlessness torments the disciple in his hours of absorption; dryness and doubt become the bitter bread of every day and as profound anguish bother him, while he believes that his time is wasted and his good is lost. Here it is necessary a strong and determined action of the Spiritual Guide so that the disciple may enter with resolution the field of Concentration.
As soon as he enters this vast field of mental action, he needs to learn all methods and difficulties, and the way to determine the thought steadiness.
The disciple considers, observes and fixes thought images during the exercise of Meditation, but Concentration admits only one image; subject and object are the only existent; everything disappears, everything loses interest, and the mind expresses the vortex of the only image.
But before the disciple reaches this, he needs numberless exercises, of course, all of them indicated by the Spiritual Guide. It is advisable methods of postures, methods of vocalization, of repetition, of comforting words and many other external exercises, which habituate body and mind to concentrate on only one point. In the beginning, the disciple suffers not only for the good lost, but also feels worse by physical pains, for the renewal of organs coincides with the renewal of ideas and needs of the aspirant.
Painfully and gradually, the physical body responds to the fervent eagerness and call of current demands. In this time one undergoes physical pains, blood congestion, abnormal appetite and digestive and sexual disorders. A person that knows how to endure and overcome all these troubles can take for sure that he shall go on forward.
Ductless glands gradually secrete new forces, ganglia become stronger, plexuses are activated by new positive vibrations and blood vessels acquire normality through a passive relaxation; it is as if invisible workers re-filled old roads to open other new roads wider and more adaptable, and it is these physiological changes that cause so much suffering during this trial.
When the disciple underwent and overcame these first steps in Concentration, then, being better prepared physically, starts sustaining his mind fixed on only one object.
Instead of Concentration on voices and external forms, Concentration is made on internal parts of being; certain Spiritual Directors advise preferably Concentration on the heart, other on lungs, other on the solar plexus, and so on.
Later the exercise is made on an abstract image, namely: Will, Faith, Patience, et cetera, until the disciple is able to concentrate on a point and his mind remains suspended there for a time more or less long. He has to learn how to be like a beam of light on the tip of a pin.
Entry to Silence
By Concentration your mental matter does not acquire any form, but adopts only one form.
Concentration is made in two ways: one is objective and other subjective. One, as expression of the will, acts on a sense or determined form; other, as state of abstract mental consciousness, is over all senses.
The objects of Concentration are: 1) Elimination any internal and external obstruction; 2) Constant practice of certain exercises; and 3) Accumulation of energy.
First you practice objective Concentration, with direct results, as expression of the will.
By removing internal and external obstructions, you purify the body, transform blood and tissues, tune nerves and blood vessels, and bring a more harmonious contact between physical body and astral body.
A constant practice of certain exercises develops psychic powers.
The accumulation of energy preserves all this power in the deposit of centers and plexuses to be used by the disciple in due time.
There are different exercises for Psychical powers produced by objective Concentration.
For certain Masters, these powers are produced by illuminative Concentration, but others feel that they are the most valuable end in the path of Prayer; but psychic powers should be only a stage, which in no way indicates the state of Divine Union. As the disciple progresses on the way of Concentration, he shall see the prodigious effects of these exercises.
The disciple has learnt during the time of Concentration, for instance, how to look closely at the sea and to love it; but in Concentration he learns how to throw his mental force to the sea, making it produce a surge that gradually is greater and stronger.
Concentration is not the idea in itself, but the force of the idea. When Concentration is objective, it charges the central image on which is fixed with a continuous power that makes it resistant, vast and living. If central images are diverse, then they collide, by contrast, waging a cruel war among them. When the mental image is only one, then becomes powerful and vast, becomes the very subject and Concentration becomes subjective.
The only one will of man has no power any more, and the Divine consciousness acts supreme in the soul. Then he is not the reflector of the centre-image, but the very center; he is the very image.
God has devised the universe; he saw that the universe was good and loved it; so he made himself center of his creative image and remained a prisoner in it; a Divine prisoner who will be unable to liberate himself while only one atom of force that has animated his idea remains in the cosmos.
All beings possess the gift of Concentration, but make use of it as if they were animated by the continuous illusion of desire, constantly giving live and force to diverse and various mental images; the latter fight among them for the power that they were given, spend the energy of man and impede him a true concentration.
But when the mind has only one fixed idea, an integral idea, and this idea is the center and end of being, concentration is good and perfect.
The mystical passage from objective Concentration to subjective Meditation is called Entry to Silence.
Teaching 12: Exercises of Concentration
First exercise: During hours of the morning, on an isolated and calm place, the student should be seated, straight his body and his head, and the hands relaxed on his knees; slowly he shall vocalize some holy formula or a constructive words that he prefers, imagining a golden yellow color all around him. Being very calm, he shall concentrate his mind as potently as possible on the sole of his feet as long as he can, breathing rhythmically. Also he can concentrate on the tip of his nose: after a prudential time he shall remain tranquil, his eyes half-closed and trying not to think about anything.
Second exercise: Standing, his hands on the back of the neck and his left foot on the level of the right knee, he shall concentrate his thought on the navel, staring at this area of the body. Also, in the same posture, he may concentrate on his lips, or may remain for a long while with the tip of his tongue fixed on the palate. Also, being seated, his hands on the knees and his eyes closed, he may try to see a cascade and to utter words of courage, endurance and strength.
Third exercise: This practice is at dawn. His trunk uncovered, looking at the sunrise and trying neither to deviate his sight, or blinking, or being carried away by drowsiness, the disciple shall remain in this position and, after a quarter of hour, he shall lower his sight, staring at the pit of his stomach, and shall forcefully breath by the left nasal cavity. Another exercise like this is to close the eyes, with his back to the sun, imagining that he sees a red horizon, and to remain with his thought fixed on this idea.
Fourth exercise: At sunset, comfortably seated on an isolated and calm place, if possible in a temple, or under a pine, an oak, a fir or a tala-tree; his hands the one upon the other and softly upon his knees, his eyes half-open, the trunk straight and his head lightly inclined forward, the disciple shall try to see, in his imagination, the face of the Divinity, uttering very slowly His Divine Name. This exercise has to be repeated many times until he is able to see the desired image without any effort. Also he can imagine, instead of the Divinity’s face, a while circle, like a Holy Host, staring at It until the Divine Image appears on It.
Fifth exercise: Standing and looking at the East, the practitioner shall extend his arms in cross several times, uttering every time the Divine Name; later he shall do seventy-seven genuflections, revering the Divine Name the same number of times; then, being seated on a comfortable posture, his legs crossed, his elbows on the level of the hip, his hands like a cup with thumbs and forefingers united, breathing deeply, he shall imagine before him, on a white board, the Name of God, written in golden letters, and shall read it continuously. Another exercise is to plug the ears with our thumbs, the eyes with our forefingers, the nasal cavities with our middle fingers and keeping our little fingers upon the mouth, retaining our breath as long as we can and trying to hear the Great Name within.
Teaching 13: Contemplation
Contemplation is the definitive step of the soul from Asceticism to Mysticism.
It is called Secret Science of God and Divine Gift because at this point of spiritual development, the soul is directly enlightened by the Masters; that is why some believe and state that it is a gift, a grace of certain privileged souls, but not of all, and even the most advanced souls cannot intend to reach it. This is totally wrong; all souls are called to the path of Contemplation, but they must constantly strive and fight for reaching this state, because Contemplation is the invariable result of a constant practice of exercises of Meditation and Concentration, and of virtues referred to Spiritual Development.
Continuous prayer, practice of virtues and self-control determined by the Inner Life are ascetic efforts that prepare the soul to get finally the mystic gift of Contemplation.
Since Contemplation liberates a being from the bonds of separateness, it leads him by a loving knowledge of the Divine Presence to be inhabited by It in such a way that everything remains transformed. The soul comes back to the Essential Unity, to the Cosmic Consciousness by means of will effort and wider self-knowledge.
This state is not fully achieved only in a moment. Sometimes, during the hours of exercises, or also during the day, the soul is as if in a rapture, suspended, totally in God, possessing a great Love and receiving lights of extraordinary knowledge. This is not only fleeting and also sometimes at longer intervals. But in spite of it, you should not abandon the exercises or believe that the purpose has been achieved; the souls take a long time to reach a perfect Contemplation. But these short raptures impress so much the individual that generally his Meditation consists exclusively in thinking again about those blissful moments. Every exercise, however lofty it may be, does not leave in the soul a true inner satisfaction. Sometimes even the astral visions disturb him because he would desire just to stay there calm and only with God.
Therefore, the state of Contemplation, however little it may be, grants a strange love of virtues; the individual practices them in such spontaneous way that for him it becomes easy and as if it were his second nature. It is as if the Divinity guided the soul and made this soul doing always the best.
But most times, after a prudential time, the soul remains definitively conquered, and prayer becomes pure Contemplation. Inadvertently, even out of the time for the exercise, the soul remains absorbed in God and when does not feel a clear bliss, then desolated because it is separated from the Supreme God, this also unites the soul with Him by the great sorrow and torment experienced.
For the souls that begin the spiritual path, apparently this is very hard to reach, but it is totally otherwise. Once they surrender sincerely to God and begin finding delight in spiritual things and prayer, they shall see that this is the only good and the only aspiration at which they can aim: to find God and to transform the soul into a Temple to be inhabited by the Divine.
Teaching 14: Mystical Death
Contemplation can be Shadowy or Illuminative. In fact, these divisions are arbitrary because these two states cannot be accurately determined. The soul becomes rather contemplative and remains absorbed by this holy exercise for a longer and longer time.
All perfect souls are called to Contemplation and progress in it as the go forward in their practice of virtues. Casianus says that every soul goes up during Prayer according to his purity. This inner purity moves the soul more and more away from external, worldly things, making her desire its intimate absorption and depriving the heart of any affection and the mind of any image. The lower nature remains entirely exposed; the individual recognizes the true nature of his former ties that now are totally weakened.
So, Shadowy Contemplation is the state by which the soul little by little surrenders totally to God.
In the beginning, the disciple does not remain in this state for long, and rather by fear of his human nature subconsciously refuses to remain much time in it.
The heart remains void when it feels detachment or intense dispassion.
It is called Dark Contemplation because is like true death, a deep and shadowy night, in which the soul feels alone and far from everybody. Since these high flights are not usual form the soul, it stops there, on the threshold of the infinite light, blinded by this radiance, which is shadow for the soul. Saint Dionysius the Areopagite calls it “Beam of Darkness”.
Once an advanced disciple asked his Master what exercise to adopt to achieve the void of mind that would make him fit for Contemplation. The old man replied, “Continuously think about the shroud that you shall take to your grave”.
Now mental faculties are unable to reason, and since just the pure and plain will remains there in the presence of God, the soul feels pervaded by an immense holy fear.
As the mind, clean of any thought and far from any image, experiences in an unknown darkness the fluttering of the Eternal sigh, it moves back in fright and sticks to separateness. Images reflected by the personal consciousness on the illusory screen of the individual life refuse to lose their throne and the very will quivers because naked and alone it has to travel through the path of the Absolute One.
As some people believe, this state is not only a grace granted by the Divine Consciousness that acts on the soul and brings it from the bosom of the Eternity, but also the conscious effort of the will attaining the Divine Consciousness by its own means.
But gradually the soul gets used to the Divine Presence, and Mystical Death is followed by Resurrection, and after Shadowy Contemplation there is Illuminative Contemplation.
The superior Mind that was allegorically immobile while reason and instinct prevailed manifests now by amplifying everything.
The soul is more and more blissful before the Divinity and prayer becomes more and more passive. Senses are retained and as if suspended and, by a strenuous habit, the instinctive mind with its sensations and the rational mind with these appeased vibrations enjoy by participating directly in the Divine Presence. If lower powers can participate in the effects of this illumination, they can never explain it.
This self-recognition adorns the individual being with a supra-sensitive capacity and with an extraordinary knowledge, called “Infuse Science”.
You should not believe that Illuminative Contemplation, which belongs to the Superior Mind, is the very Light; this Light is exclusively of the Spirit and of the Divine Union. But it is so close to it as if it were this Light, for Illuminative Contemplation is the bridge between soul and spirit, and leads to the Mystical Wedding.
As an example, Contemplation is a deep, wide and immense abyss of light, where no reflection of any kind can reach: it is endless and, by absorbing the soul, hides it in its luminosity, pervades it and leaves to it the great secret of knowledge and love.
When the soul, for a more or less long time, does not experience these sublime states, suffers vividly and its only desire is to feel them again and to remain there, peaceably and immutably, entirely united with God.
Those who reach this point really refuse to communicate these states to others. Since they recognize, not by pride but by logical intuition, their superiority over others, they know that none shall be able to understand them; so the souls that possess these gifts are little known, for they keep their secrets and reserve them to their Spiritual Director.
Here the secret and discretion recommended by the philosophical Schools to their disciples are totally understood. The soul keeps silence not by any imposed silence but because a internal trend transmit the great truth: the root can bear fruit when remains hidden in earth. If you leave a flask of perfume opened, its fragrance evaporates.
The soul must be able to understand the value of loneliness and faithfully to keep its sweet secret; it has to remain entirely hidden in its internal Temple with the Lonely Eternal loving One: God, who only communicates with souls that are pure and alone.
Teaching 15: The Union
The soul becomes God in the Union. The soul remains as if deified; very subtle veils around the Superior Mind, which are the loftiest part of a being, disappear temporarily during the act of Supreme Realization, as if the Spirit absorbed and transformed entirely the soul.
Of course, this Union, this direct Contact with the Cosmic Spirit is instantaneous; if the individual being persisted in this Divine state, the body and supra-physical forms around him would be discarded in myriads of atoms that would return to the great universal deposit.
When the ocean of Eternal Light suddenly enters the soul, it penetrates into the most hidden corners of the latter; the lamp disappears and just the flame remains. Everything is illuminated, even the most unknown parts where experiences of a being are kept along with its reserves of possibilities; everything, absolutely everything remains exposed and everything disappears in the Divine Light.
But the Divine Union has also several particular traits. Even if it is arbitrary to divide the Union into parts, because it has no parts, the student can understand it if we divide it. The Union can be divided into four parts:
1) Passive Union of isolation;
2) Active Union of isolation;
3) Essential passive Union; and
4) Essential passive Union in activity.
Union of isolation is as if the soul gradually had got used to the Divine contact. The Spirit of the Beloved One visits his fiancée and marries her in a lofty engagement.
The disciple has admirable experiences before or a little before this great Realization comes to be true. He is like the one who neither enjoys, feels, or knows, and is detached, despite his will, from every worldly thing. His soul is like a fixed star, like an endless age, like a prisoner at large. His heart has sudden movements, he quivers from head to foot and it is as if he stopped living at any moment, but suddenly the powers leave any activity, the soul has not any knowledge, except its certainty of being united with God, and remains a prisoner of the Divine Love. This Union of isolation, which is an absolutely passive state, does not last long; sometimes, one or two hours at most.
Back the disciple in his ordinary state, he passes to the second state of Union: the active Union of isolation. He cannot remove the sweet memory from his mind; his soul certainly believes to have achieved the Union with God and this sweet certainty is continuously with him day and night, and never disappears from his sight.
The third state of Essential passive Union is the Spiritual Wedding of the soul with God. In this union, the Divine Flame burns in such a way all external things that the individual being remains as if it were dead to the world; only the Root of the existence remains. In this Divine Union, many disciples remain several days as if they were dead; they have crossed over the great shore of life and are united with the Eternity. The body is like an uninhabited house suspended on the air and without support; the disciples is tied to the Spirit only by the golden thread of the seed of the existence.
In this Union there is neither a form nor a seed tying to the cause-and-effect law; all the oil is on the surface of the water.
There the Universe is extinguished; the space does not exist either. Ideas are nothing but floating shadows over the deep and dark profile of the absorbing Spirit. What is there the weak consciousness of the Ego? It is only the thread of the existence, which has been broken by the Eternity.
The soul enters the Essential passive Union in activity after being conscious again. Now it is not the soul that lives, but God lives in the soul. For a while he was free of the bonds of flesh and it cannot be again what it was. Even its physical cover is transformed into God: it is as if deified. The soul has seen for a moment the Arcane of God, the Impersonal Light and now understands that all existing things are vain and illusory.
For the soul there is not duality, and infinite space and finite space are nothing more than only one thing. Only the Eternal One exists over the word, over the mind and beyond everything.
The soul opens again the doors to life, but just to expect the day when it shall be definitively liberated, but shall stand the exile to help those who still did not reach that point.
Teaching 16: Mystical Steps Synthesized
Every rule aiming at achieving the Divine Union has its exception.
Certain souls never knew Meditation and others ignored Concentration but reached a perfect Union with God. Any indiscriminate imposition of these rules on everybody is to ignore that every soul is a separate world and needs its own rules and an especial development to reach the goal.
When one wants to impose certain rules, these rules are good for some souls, but counteracting for others. It is necessary much ductility, much discrimination and much discretion to find the torch and kindle the fire of mystical life in the soul.
But most times the disciple needs to practice all exercises to be prepared for the Divine Union.
Concern, attention and, in short, Discursive Meditation enable the thought for certain image; but the mind oscillation that Discursive Meditation produces disappears as soon as the discourse finishes.
This absence is replaced by affective Meditation, and by loving the image produced, time and again is fixed on this image. Here many little mental oscillations take place, but there is not capacity for Realization with those vortices that the thought usually emits.
The mental wave has to become more and more intense and constant until its repercussion on the whole universal environment.
So, one passes from affective Meditation to Concentration on the image devised. Concentration fixes the mind on this image and charges the mental wave with the cosmic substance by which it gets accustomed to sustain itself. Even so, as soon as Concentration ends, its effects disappear, but by repeated concentration time and again, the mental vortex becomes so vast and sustained that looks at the forged image with all its parts, all its forms and all its measures, and the known image is carried away by the vortex.
In short: the object becomes subject.
It is then when the mind cannot leave what has conquered, because it is there, ever present and ever alive, in a permanent state of Union.
But also those who follow the above-described process must not be tied to the rule that has led them until the end of the Path.
As potential experience always forges a future of happiness, likewise practical experience is a stumbling-block on the road to progress.
Many souls practiced all rules of Meditation, Concentration and Contemplation, received enormous benefits and enjoyed the Ecstasy of the Divine Love, but their regulatory predisposition to Union became a habit and, sometimes, is cause of delay and of an impenetrable rampart preventing them from passing to the knowledge of Mysticism and from establishing a definitive point of permanent Union.
A truly wise soul is ever free; it takes and gives, and makes use and throws away, even in regard to greatest rules of inner life.
It is difficult to determine the opportune moment when crutches can be thrown away, and to know when those means that we used can be replaced by our effort of will-consciousness.
One has to enter the ocean of life entirely nude; none shall be able to enter the Sancta Sanctorum not disposing before of his experiences, even of his holiest and more solemn experiences.
Everything, absolutely everything, even the most perfect Master is only a fellow traveler on the Mystical path, and has to be left behind when the illuminating light becomes an impediment and blocks the other Light emerged at the back of Him: the Eternal Light.
Teaching 1: Yoga of India
Teaching 2: Scale of Christian Perfection
Teaching 3: Three Ascetic Rules
Teaching 4: The Spiritual Director
Teaching 5: Retirement
Teaching 6: Psychic Confusions
Teaching 7: Prayer
Teaching 8: Meditation
Teaching 9: Methodized Meditations
Teaching 10: Concentration
Entry to Silence
Teaching 12: Exercises of Concentration
Teaching 13: Contemplation
Teaching 14: Mystical Death
Teaching 16: Mystical Steps Synthesized