In a nutshell, meditation is intensity of thought and focus. Gurdjieff called this mental intensity the power of one’s “embrace.” But many important observations can be made during meditation when we can take advantage of this greater focus.
Having experienced this process for over thirty-five years I know just where to go—and what would be most valuable to share with my readers. But even as I do so, I will only be scratching the surface.
The first basic thing to notice during meditation is that one’s consciousness starts to change from external or worldly concerns to one’s inner make-up. This first step allows us to witness for ourselves that our ordinary or habitual mind is simply a mask we invented and wear for the sake of living in the world. This everyday form of consciousness is not who we really are.
Thankfully, in our specially arranged safe zone of meditation, we can easily forego this artificial personality and probe our inner world and essence with a degree of security and confidentiality. We can now also notice that our original worldly consciousness was just one dimensional—simply observing information and inputs streaming into our senses. The next and deeper state of consciousness is two-dimensional (because it should still include the first). Here we are observing ourselves observing—as if a higher degree of mental functioning were looking down at a lower mental activity. (Swedenborg calls these distinct minds the external human and the internal human).
We can also simply focus just on this deeper sense of ourselves, again becoming one-dimensional but on a higher cognitive level. Here we find a strange hodgepodge of chatter and commotion. Modern psychology calls this deeper level our subconscious mind. This is the world that our inner desires and compulsions arise from—all trying to get our attention.
In this hodgepodge realm of the subconscious mind I find a heterogeneous mixture of both scandalous and noble proclivities, plus worldly and religious ideas. It is in this world of introspection where we find our greatest freedom and its exercise. Here is where we allow one or another tendency to sway us. Over time, these inner choices become our belief system and give quality to our inner reality (human spirit). However, making the right cosmic choices and value judgments, requires yet another cognitive level of mind—and personal struggle. The reason for the necessity of a third dimension of the human psyche is that even intelligent people can act badly. Only a third kind of awareness can point out this unflattering disparity (and make it stick).
Here we come up against ourselves!
True meditation is more than an act of raising our consciousness and intellect. It is also the discovery of our conscience. This heart-felt influence, or conscience, gives rise to a three-dimensional level of awareness—where we can measure what we know with how we actually behave. Meditation, when taken to its ultimate degree, causes our multitude of thoughts, feelings and choices to make contact with each other. The resulting “friction” forges the metal of one’s soul and causes conscience to grow.
According to both Emanuel Swedenborg and George Gurdjieff, conscience is a gift from God that is secretly implanted into our interior mind from infancy.
It is this third stage of human consciousness and meditation that true religion was designed for. Unfortunately, religion (God’s tenets) has mostly been learned when we are in a one-dimensional frame of mind. Modernity misses this point. This oversight creates automatons and mechanical or “tinny” religiosity.