Stage 0 I would say is when you first sit down to meditate. The mind is cluttered with thoughts and impulses initially, distractions appear in the mind once you try to meditate. You feel hungry, perhaps worry that you haven’t turned off a tap somewhere in the house, or that you would be better off doing this at another time. If you persist with focussing on nothing you will reach stage 1.
Stage 1 is when you start to feel a little more relaxed, the mind has calmed a little and there are no immediate pressing thoughts trying to dissuade you from meditating like this. If you continue to meditate you will reach stage 2.
The next stage signals a tangible inner focus, whereas before you were aware of the outside world you now are becoming aware of the inner world. The world outside is now taking second place to an increasingly widening inner world which your mind appears to be filling. Thoughts will be significantly reduced and it is easy not to engage with them or wish to act on them. There is a tangible sense of a decrease in mental activity as you can almost start to count the neurons in the brain firing off with stray thoughts and impulsions which are becoming increasingly dampened down.
This is fittingly described by Molinos:
“By the way of Nothing thou must come to lose thy self in God (which is the last degree of perfection) and happy wilt thou be, if thou canst so lose thy self; then thou wilt get thy self again, and find thy self most certainly. In this same Shop of Nothing, Simplicity is made; interior and infused recollection is possessed, quiet is obtained, and the heart is cleansed from all manner of imperfections.”
The third stage of transcendental meditation would be what I call, approaching the Abyss. What I term the abyss and perhaps more in common with Molinos and less so with Crowley, is the sense that the focus of the mind is now wholly engaged inward and a large empty darkness approaches the mind. A friend of mine I spoke to about meditation said this actually scared him and made him leave off meditation altogether.
“Know then that the streightest, most perfect and secure way of proficients, is the way of darkness: because in them the Lord placed his own Throne; And (Psalm 18.) He made darkness his secret place. By them the supernatural light which God infuses into the Soul, grow and increases. Amidst them wisdom and strong love are begotten, by darkness the soul is annihilated, and the species, which hinder the right view of the divine truth, are consumed. By this means God introduces the Soul by the inward way into the Prayer of Rest, and of perfect contemplation, which so few have the experience of. Finally; by darkness the Lord purgest the senses and sensibility, which hinder the mystical progress…See now if darkness be not to be esteemed and embraced.”
I would hasten to add that here I assume that Molinos is speaking of the literal darkness of the mind in meditation and not in terms of a sort of Luciferian allegory for the forces of darkness.
This darkness seems to move closer to your mind and it is something tangible, not an absence perhaps but more a solid kind of emptiness. It moves closer and starts to fill the mind, like a rapidly incoming tide threatening to wash you, your mind and everything away into nothingness. Allow yourself to move into this darkness or it to move into you until it actually fills your whole mind, again Molinos has already been there and left a fitting description:
“O what infinite room is there in a Soul that is arrived at this divine Solitude! O what inward, what retired, what secret, what spacious, what vast distances are there within a happy Soul that is once come to be truly Solitary! There the Lord converses and communicates himself, inwardly with the Soul: there he fills it with himself, because it is empty; cloaths it with Light, and with his Love, because it is naked; lifts it up, because ‘tis low; and unites it with himself, and transforms it, because it is alone.”
Stage four is breaking through this darkness to the other side and what you thought was nothingness and negation and a total loss of the self turns out to be an infinite boundless space within yourself and total peace. Your mind has now left the physical world altogether and your mind is now operating wholly in, and exploring a higher realm of reality. Here you will feel interesting effects like a spinning around, as if your whole being is turning as if on a merry go round; this I believe is experiencing our electro-magnetic soul and its natural oscillation. You will also have a feeling of moving through this inner realm at great speed, as you explore this inner world which seems to be full of the whole universe and all past and present realities.
Some of these experiences Molinos describes thus:
“The fourth step, which is Illumination, is an infused knowledge, whereby the Soul contemplates sweetly the divine truth, rising still from one clearness to another, from one light to another, from knowledge to knowledge, begin guided by the Spirit Divine. The fifth is a Savoury Pleasure of the divine sweetness, issuing forth from the plentiful and precious fountain of the Holy Ghost. The sixth is a sweet and Admirable tranquillity, arising from the conquest of Fightings within, and frequent Prayer; and this, very, very few have Experience of. Here the abundance of Joy, and Peace is so great, that the soul seems to be in a sweet sleep, solacing and reposing it self in the Divine breast of Love. Many other steps of Contemplation there are, as Extasies, Raptures, Melting, Delinquium’s, Glee, Kisses, Embraces, Exultation, Union, Transformation, Expousing, and Matrimony, which I omit to explain, to give no occasion to Speculation…”
Aside from the inner peace and the exploration of what could be considered an antechamber to the Kingdom of Heaven one takes away many benefits from this kind of meditation into our daily lives in the physical realm. Such practise allows us to control the mind and emotions much better and remain calm and detached from events which would previously have had a negative impact on our mental well-being. We will also take this focus into our dreams which will become much more coherent and less chaotic as we will better be able to navigate and order the inner dreamscape.
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