What great power maintains your life? Your breath? Your heartbeat?
Mystics make this quest and delight in the great Ascent.
They discover the Infinite Spirit.
And, you are invited.
Greetings, dear friend.
How is your mystic sight developing? Is your practice of the Mystic Gaze bestowing the harmony of eye and mind to you?
Are your eyes seeing more clearly and deeply into everyone and everything you look upon.
People miss so much beauty and wisdom with their normal “jittery vision.”
Have you established a calm gaze which can see much more? As you continue practicing the Mystic Gaze, you will develop the serene, loving eyes of a mystic.
Now, welcome to the Third Mystery — The Ascent!
Something created you. Something has shaped this universe and enlivened all living beings. Some Consciousness and Power beyond your understanding maintains your breath, heartbeat, your ability to see, feel, and think. Don’t you agree?
Mystics look with wonder at their lives. They appreciate the glory of their being. They ponder the incredible Consciousness which has fashioned the earth and their own bodies. What Wisdom and Energy have so created and indwelled matter as to enable us to see and hear, speak and comprehend, love and give birth? The slightest act of a human being — the raising of a hand, or the turning toward a sound — is a declaration that a higher consciousness (far beyond our normal intellect) is in operation.
Call this creating, sustaining Power of the universe and of your own self what you like: God, Lord, Yahweh, Allah, the Unnameable. When mystics from the different paths and faiths of the world come together, they revere one another’s paths and — in fellowship — call the creating, sustaining consciousness the Infinite Spirit or, simply, the Infinite.
The mystic, noticing the marvels of life and of his, her, own being, seeks to understand and more deeply relate to the Infinite Being. The conscious relationship between the created one — the person — and the Infinite One — the Creator — is the greatest delight of the mystic. Looking at a beautiful garden, the mystic seeks to know the gardener. Looking at the wonders of human life, the mystic seeks the magnificent giver of life. This search for acquaintance and relationship with the Infinite Spirit is called the Ascent.
However, the quest and Ascent is also undertaken by those in sorrow and confusion who desperately seek to know, from their own Creator, the meaning and purpose of life — to come to peace, if possible, about their pain and perplexity.
The Ascent is a redirection of intent and consciousness: from matter toward Spirit and from your own body toward its essence.
Mystics start the Ascent within themselves. They reflect, “Something great and powerful beyond my understanding has created me. It sustains me as well — moving as life within every part of me, especially empowering my breath, heartbeat, digestion, thought, emotion, sense-functioning, and the nourishment of every cell. How may I become directly and personally aware of this Life-Giver? And of this Universe-Creator?”
Mystics conclude that since they are created beings they can trace their way back from the material world — and their own physical bodies — to the Source of their miraculous existence.
The Fairest Thing
The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.
—Albert Einstein, THE WORLD AS I SEE IT (1934), Tr. Alan Harris
Mystics who have successfully made the Ascent before us and have come back to share their experiences with us say the quest reveals the Infinite Spirit, that all matter and living beings are manifestations of an experienceable, partially knowable, deeply lovable Essence. They report their lives, hearts, and minds are transformed by their meetings and subsequent relationships with the Infinite Spirit.
While senior mystics’ revelations and descriptions are encouraging to new candidates, their reports are only words and concepts to mystical beginners (neophytes). We must, each of us, make the Ascent and experience the Infinite Beloved One ourselves. We need to be enlightened and changed, too. We need to meet the Creator of our own beings.
The ways of Ascent are many: prayer, contemplation, acts of love and service, study, rituals, religious observances, and even spiritual psychotherapy. But the most common way of Ascent for mystics is:
Meditation is the centering of one’s awareness on Spirit. The word meditation comes from the Latin word meditari which means to center in your True Self, your soul, or spiritual nature. In meditation you raise your awareness from your physical self (matter) toward its source, its essence (Spirit).
What is Spirit?
Let’s define Spirit:
Spirit is also defined as:
Synonyms of Spirit are: life, mind, consciousness, essence.
Spirit is your essence, the life, energy, and consciousness dwelling within your physical body.
Meditation on Spirit
We begin meditation on the Infinite by focusing our awareness on Spirit, the life essence within us. How can we do something so seemingly abstract? It’s easy. Spirit empowers your breath night and day. By meditating on the life principle which enables you to breathe and have any life at all, you can gradually awaken to a mystical awareness of Spirit.
In the Fourth Mystery I’ll show you a remarkable way to meditate on your life force by focusing on the breath in unique ways.
For now you can prepare for your ascent into essence and Spirit by: witnessing the gift of breath.
Technique: Witnessing the Gift of Breath
Practicing this technique is simple but it can become sublime.
Caution: If you have physical or mental health problems, seek your doctor or therapist’s advice before practicing meditation.
Next, sit comfortably with an empty stomach (or meditate just an hour or so before meals). Relax consciously from head to toe.
Inhale slowly and fill your lungs.
Now exhale quickly and throw your breath out through your nostrils.
Now put your mind at the rims of your nostrils and watch the breath come in and go out. Witness the breath as if you are watching someone else breathe. Let the breath come and go as, and whenever, it pleases. Don’t interfere or force it to move — you are witnessing a miracle of life in your breath.
Furthermore, when the breath by its own power comes into your nostrils, mentally and emotionally appreciate it by mentally saying the word “Life.” And when the breath by its own power passes out of your nostrils, mentally and emotionally appreciate the beauty of breath by mentally saying the word “Life” again.
In Witnessing the Gift of Breath you can begin to sense the life force and spiritual essence which operates and sustains your breath — and your life.
After ten to twelve minutes of this simple meditation you will likely feel calmer and more alive. You may even sense the higher power which flows through you as life itself.
Conclude your meditation by inhaling deeply and stretching luxuriously — like cats do after a nap.
Please don’t do this technique while driving a car, using power equipment, or working on a scaffold. You could hurt others or yourself. In meditation you raise your consciousness from the physical realm to a higher level. Always come back down to the physical world by stretching your body and applying your mind to the people and things around you. You’ll see them more clearly and love them more fully as a result of your meditations. Of course, if you are alone and can enjoy a private quiet time, feel free to abide in a period of contemplation before you bring your full awareness back to the physical realm.
Have fun! You are ascending.
Next time, we’ll consider the first level of the highly effective Meditation on the Life Principle.
I look at my life
And my breath
The Life Force
The life force is vigorous. The delight that accompanies it counter-balances all the hardships that confront men. It makes life worth living.
—W. Somerset Maugham, THE SUMMING UP (1938)
Welcome to our Key Points and Contemplation of the Third Mystery — The Ascent.
This time we’ll further develop the meditation practice we started last time — a basic meditation on the Life Principle and Life Essence, by witnessing the breath.
Much to ponder. Many possibilities.
We continue to explore the marvels of meditation. Your practice of “Witnessing the Breath” over the past week develops beautifully into the first level of an important form of meditation.
Please remember what meditation means: centering in your True Self.
Cautions For All Forms of Meditation
While this is a simple, informal meditation we may as well review the cautions for all forms of meditation:
Please observe these cautions. They will make your meditations deeper and easier.
Let’s begin. Let the joy and wonder increase.
How to Begin Most Forms of Meditation
Now we are ready for the technique.
Basic Meditation on
The Life Principle and Life Essence
When you have completed five, six, or seven deep breaths place your attention on your breath where it touches — and moves past — the center of your upper lip. (Touch the center of your upper lip briefly with your finger if this helps you to direct your mind to this spot.)
Feel and mentally notice the breath as it flows in and out on the middle of your upper lip. Mentally watch the breath come in and go out. Enjoy this centering and the serenity it brings.
If you have no choice but to breathe through your mouth, place your awareness on the insides of your lips and appreciate the flows of your breath from there. It is easy to feel and notice the movements of the breath from the inner lips.
As you become more peaceful your breath may become softer and slower. This is normal and a very good sign that your awareness is ascending to the life force which causes the breath to move. You will feel very refreshed. Enjoy realizing more fully the gift of breath!
That’s all you need to do. Isn’t it wonderful?
Enjoy this centering and the peace it brings for several minutes (ten to fifteen minutes if you like.)
To Conclude Your Meditation
Feel free to sit comfortably in the afterglow of the meditation. You will likely feel an increasing sense of well being. Your mind will be clearer and sharper, considerably less troubled and turbulent. Your emotions will become more positive, loving, joyous, and calm.
However, you may be spacey. In meditating well you have lifted your level of awareness from the physical plane toward the Infinite. Now, in order to function well back here in the physical world and bring the fine fruits of meditation back into your daily life and world, you need to thoroughly bring your mind, emotions, energy, and attention back to this plane of consciousness.
Returning and Grounding
To return from meditation and resume the joys and duties of life on earth: Inhale deeply as you tense and stretch your whole body. Hold it. Now exhale as you relax your whole body — i.e., inhale, stretch and tense up. Then exhale as you relax. As I said last time, be like a cat after a nap: stretch luxuriously.
Repeat this routine (inhale as you tense up; exhale as you relax) three to six times until you feel renewed, refreshed, able and ready to engage life at your very best.
Meditate once or twice a day if you enjoy it. Find a little window of time in the morning or evening — 10 to 15 minutes will be enough — and let meditation bestow the prizes of life upon you.
We’ll share the next phase of this Basic Meditation on the Life Principle next time (in the fourth Mystery).
Have fun. Enjoy the view!
From my body to its essence, from matter toward Spirit, I turn and ascend.
Do you have any questions about the Third Mystery?
You’re right to wonder about this. It’s human nature to want to control whatever we give our attention. But, in order to sense the life essence, the power which moves our breath, we must let the breath come and go as it wishes, as it is moved by the life force.
We breathe automatically 24 hours each day. A higher power keeps our breath moving and maintains our life for many years. As new mystics, we are seeking to appreciate and familiarize ourselves with the life force and life essence which constantly operates within each of us. Let the life force reveal itself to you through the Mystic Breath.
That’s the point. Spirit, life force, essence — whatever you may wish to call it — is evident in all of us as life, breath, speech, and movement. Particularly, the life force is evident in us as breath and heartbeat.
I know our scientific instruments can’t detect this subtle essence of Spirit yet, but you can develop your mystical faculties and experience Spirit directly in convincing and delightful ways. The Mystic Breath is a powerful way to begin understanding and realizing Spirit.
Usually, there is a pause after you inhale — and after you exhale, as well. But, whatever your breath does, and whenever it moves, you observe this calmly and appreciatively. After the breath starts to move in or out, you mentally say the word “life.”
Enjoy the Mystic Breath both ways: sometimes with eyes open, sometimes with eyes closed. However, I recommend you keep your eyes open for at least the first five minutes of this technique because your mind will tend to wander less when your eyes are comfortably open. And, it’s fine to keep your eyes open throughout the practice if you are comfortable. Feel free to blink as often as is necessary.
The determining factor is your individuality. If your mind is pleasantly calm and peaceful when you meditate on the life force with your eyes closed, go ahead and close them after five minutes or so. If you find “eyes open” meditation more comfortable throughout the practice, enjoy this approach.
The tingling probably means you are good at concentrating. You are aware of the play of energy, of the life force, in your life.
I need to know where your mind goes when you lose breath awareness. Your mind may simply be wandering away; or your breath is perhaps becoming so peaceful and shallow that it seems to disappear — which is an indication of a deep meditation.
We begin meditation on the Infinite by focusing our awareness on Spirit, the life essence within us.
How can we do something so seemingly abstract? It’s easy. Spirit empowers your breath night and day.
Let the life force reveal itself to you. Sense the higher power which flows through you.
You’ll feel more alive.
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This commitment is solely between you and your inner self.
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