One of my teachings that people can find most vexing is my insistence on meditation as a cornerstone of the path. It can seem counter-intuitive to people that are magically minded. Meditation asks you to sit still, magic often asks you to move around and make potent gestures and signs. Meditation asks for silence, magic usually asks for arcane formula and grand invocations. Meditation asks that you treat all visions, messages from gods and spirits, and psychic experience as a distraction to be ignored, and return to the meditation itself. Magically minded people are often built specifically to experience such things, and tend to place great importance upon them. For this reason, my insistence on meditation can be
For example, recently I got an e-mail from a student that simply does not want to meditate and does not see the point:
“I have to say that I find your insistence on meditation frustrating and I really don’t think it has as much to do with magic as you think. The magic I am interested in involves talking with spirits, traveling the astral, and raising and controlling the energies of the body. Meditation seems like a side issue.”
My answer: I think that talking with spirits, astral travelling, and energy work are great. Meditation is getting to know and control your own mind. What part of those things do not involve your mind?
Spirits? Do you think you hear them only audibly with the normal ear?
Astral Travel? Is your mind not essential to this? Is the astral not a realm of mirror-like appearance that can fool and deceive?
Energy Work? There is no system of yoga, chi-gung, or anything else that does not recognize that the subtle winds are linked to mental processes. Literally none.
Setting all this aside, even just normal waking experience of reality itself is only known through the mind. Every day we all perceive reality through a deeply flawed lens. Not only are we a slave to the heuristics that we use to make sense of what we take in, but our mechanistic slavery to what can only be described as the programming we all hold, keeps us from seeing reality-as-such and acting accordingly. If this is the case with normal reality, how more susceptible are we when we start dealing with subtle realms and mystical states?
Meditation is the best way to know the tool that you interact with all experience through. It is the best way to clean that tool and keep it sharp. It is the best way to keep yourself from getting carried away by your own bullshit.
Still though, if we are not just mediators but Sorcerer’s and Sorceresses’s, we need to know how and when to let the visions in, when to listen to the gods, and when to make the potent signs and grand invocations. Another student of the course is doing a lot of meditation and mentioned that she knows she is supposed to ignore the awesome visions, but finds it hard.
The rick here is harmony in your practices. When I and other teachers tell people to ignore visions during meditation, it is mostly because we do not want people to confuse visionary and trance work with meditation. Once you know that, there is no reason that you cannot explore those visions outside of meditation. You can either finish your session and mentally attempt to revisit them or explore the vision right when it happens and make time afterwards for more meditation. The trick is knowing that you are departing the meditation in a mindful way for a purpose, not getting distracted from your meditation by shiny spirit baubles.
While potent and meaningful visions are not meditation itself, they are a sign of progress in meditation. By reducing clinging to old perceptions, surface level mental chatter, and base karmic traces, you are making room for deeper stuff to manifest. In fact, meditation can sometimes be a better way to generate such visions than specifically visionary or shamanic methods, as well as leaving you in a position to deal with them critically.
I will leave my thoughts on self-critique for my next post: The Usefulness of Doubt.