are trying to burst out, they are bound to take the line of least resistance; and their actual passage will largely be dependent upon the nature of the surroundings with which they are confronted. The difference between the volcanic forces and the spiritual urge is that the former are unconscious, while the latter is a conscious phenomenon. So intelligence plays an important part in the course of meditation; and it is this intelligence which is kindled by the Master when He gives the aspirant a few simple suggestions about what he has to do or expect in his meditations.
Meditation has often been misunderstood as being a mechanical process of forcing the mind upon some idea or object. Most people naturally have an aversion to meditation, because they experience great difficulty in their attempts to coerce the mind in a particular direction, or pin it down to one particular thing. Any purely mechanical handling of the mind is not only irksome but is ultimately bound to be unsuccessful.
The first principle which the aspirants therefore have to remember is that the mind can be controlled and directed in meditation only according to the laws inherent in the make-up of the mind itself, and not by means of the application of any mechanical or semi-mechanical force.
Many persons who do not technically "meditate" are often found to be deeply and intensely engrossed in systematic and clear thinking about some practical problem or theoretical subject; and their mental process is, in a sense, very much like meditation, as the mind is engrossed in intense thinking about a particular subject-matter to the exclusion of irrelevant things. Meditation is often easy and spontaneous in such mental processes, because the mind is dwelling upon an object in which it is interested and which it increasingly understands. But the spiritual tragedy about ordinary trains of thought is that they are not directed towards things that really matter. On the other hand, the object of meditation always has to be carefully selected, and must be spiritually important; it has to be some divine person or object, or some spiritually significant theme or truth. But, in order to attain success in meditation, the mind must not only be interested in the divine subjects or truths, but must also begin by trying to understand and appreciate them. Such intelligent meditation is a natural process of the mind; and, since it avoids the monotonous rigidity and regularity of mechanical meditation, it becomes not only spontaneous and inspiring, but easy and successful.
Meditation should be distinguished from concentration. Meditation is