Each of us occasionally experiences some emotional upset to which it is difficult to adjust. We become completely vulnerable to our own negative feelings. In addition, many people who have little or no spiritual awareness suffer all the more under emotional stress because they have nowhere to turn to find the comfort and consolation they inwardly desire and seek.
It is our inner consciousness which comes to our aid in times of sorrow, grief, and despondency. It soothes and comforts us, and brings that consolation which gives peace and solace to our troubled hearts and minds. That consolation can come only to those who have developed their inner awareness to some degree. The Inner Self, the Master Within, is always ready to comfort, inspire, and guide us. But we in turn must allow the inner self to express itself in its own way, so that we may meet the problems of the day with deeper insight and understanding, and thus overcome many of life’s obstacles.
A bridge between the outer and inner self
We have to build a bridge between the outer self and the inner self, in order that the power and efficacy of the inner spiritual self can be expressed in our objective consciousness in the form of inspiration and guidance. In times of emotional stress, the inner self will envelop the outer consciousness with feelings of peace and comfort, but only to the degree that the bridge between the outer and inner selves has been developed.
Many people fail to adjust to life’s trying problems because they endeavour to solve their difficulties purely by means of their intellect and reason. They neglect, or ignore, the wisdom of the inner self and as a result, failed to master life’s problems. If they could only realize that the inner self is ever available as a wise companion, they would begin today to cultivate a closer and more intimate association with their inner consciousness. But how do we build this association between the inner and outer selves?
The development of our psychic consciousness is one of the keys to the blending of the outer self with the divine consciousness within. By practicing those exercise which develop our psychic consciousness and the faculty of intuition, we gradually allow the soul force within to express itself in the form of hunches, intuition, and inspiration. Particularly at times when we under great stress, we can turn to the inner self for comfort and guidance. However, we should not make the mistake of believing that the inner self will do our thinking for us. We still must make every effort to solve our daily problems by using our reasoning and thinking powers. Our intuition will act as a form of superior judgment, helping us to avoid mistakes and accidents, and yet giving us the freedom to choose by use of our reasoning.
An important point to consider in this form of development is that when we have fully developed the inner self, we will attain Cosmic Consciousness, or complete awareness of the Cosmic. Therefore we must think in terms of development over a long period of time, possibly many lifetimes. However, the results of development are always in proportion to the effort made. As soon as we begin these psychic exercises, results will begin to be noticed in the form of intuitive insights into our daily problems.
We should also realize that to develop our realization of the Divine Consciousness within us is not merely a matter of practicing certain exercises for psychic unfoldment. It is important that our character and behaviour undergo certain changes and refinements. In a sense, development must be threefold.
First, we should develop our intellectual comprehension, knowledge, and mental acumen. The mind must be developed to its greatest capacity. Second, our psychic consciousness must be gradually unfolded, preferably through exercises, which allow for a balanced unfoldment of all our psychic faculties. And finally, we must regulate our behaviour to conform to the highest good we know, and to evolve our character so that it reflects the dictates or our advancing soul consciousness. Again, we are speaking of development over a long period, but it can be accomplished when we keep in mind the goal to which we aspire.
If we merely read and study without practicing the teachings which are given, then our development will be retarded in many aspects. The most valuable unfoldment of all faculties takes place when we balance the mental, psychic and spiritual parts of our being.
We should therefore establish for ourselves a program of simple exercises which, if performed regularly over a period of time, will bring the greatest benefits to us. We will know that our development is slow but sure, and we will be able to meet all events of the day, no matter how trying, with insight and composure. We will derive much more happiness from life because most of our problems will be easily mastered. We will gain much more insight into the problems plaguing our society, and see solutions that others have failed to see. We will be more endeared to our friends. But in times of trouble and emotional stress, the cosmic powers within us will bring comfort and consolation so we may bear any difficult burden.
The problem of today’s society is that people have nowhere to turn in their difficulties, since they have ignored the promptings of the inner self and rely solely on their own intellectual resources, which are cold comfort in times of sorrow. Nevertheless, the time must come for each individual when he must awaken to the promptings of the inner self and take the first steps along the mystical path. Until that time, we must be ready to offer what assistance we can to those who are searching for a deeper meaning to life. Therefore, the more prepared we are by virtue of our studies, the more valuable will be our service. And that preparation should comprise the threefold aspect of our being.
The art of concentration is, of cause, fundamental to all our exercises, yet is often misunderstood. Briefly defined, concentration is a state in which the objective consciousness is focused on one point, place, or condition. Concentration is not merely focalizing attention. The secret is in allowing the inner self to become completely absorbed in the object one’s concentration, by making four of the sense faculties dormant. It is a passive condition, not an active one.
Another important exercise is visualization, which many members have difficulty achieving. The main problem some members have is that after they are unsuccessful a few times, they give up. The art consists in creating and building a picture on the screen of consciousness so accurately that you see it, feel it, and sense it in every way. Then you pass the image into the Cosmic, dismissing it from your mind. This is the method by which we create the things and conditions we want to establish in our lives, so it is a technique that we should strive to master, for upon it will depend much of our success in life.
Perhaps the most important exercise for bridging the gap between the objective mind and the inner self is meditation. In meditation, we transform our consciousness to a passive and receptive state where the inner self can impress its influence upon our objective faculties. We cannot just still our minds and expect an influx of divine wisdom. We have to raise our consciousness step-by-step to a point where the Divine Consciousness can impinge itself upon our open and receptive mind. It is a sacred process. We have to approach the Cosmic in purity and truth. There must be a sanctity of mind. This is where many failed in their meditations: Having an academic, or analytical approach, they failed to attune their minds to the Comic.
When the need is greatest, and the outer mind is in turmoil, then the Cosmic will often impinge itself upon us, bringing consolation and a feeling of peace even during our deepest sorrow. In a sense, this reveals that while we must be completely passive in meditation, we also must feel a passion or great love for the Cosmic. An empty heart will bring little or no results, but if in our hearts there is a great love for the Cosmic – a love that grows as we become more successful in our meditations – then we will have created a condition which will make us more receptive to the influence of the Cosmic Consciousness residing in each of us. By the regular practice of these simple exercises in concentration, visualization, and meditation, we will know that we are rapidly becoming the masters of lives, and our influence on society will be a valuable contribution in these troubled times.
- Extracted from the article Developing the Inner Self by Robert E. Daniels