appearance. Meditation involves bringing the subconscious contents of the mind to the forefront of consciousness. Like the conjuror, who summons into existence many strange and unexpected things, the process of meditation invites many absurd and unwanted thoughts. The aspirant must expect and be prepared for all these disturbing thoughts and should exercise inexhaustible patience with the unshakable confidence that all these disturbances will ultimately be overcome.
The last but not the least important condition of attaining success in meditation is adopting the right technique in handling disturbing thoughts and mental influences. It is no use wasting psychic energy by directly trying to combat and repress disturbing thoughts. Any such attempts involve giving them further attention, upon which they feed, and get further strengthened and confirmed in consciousness. The best thing is to ignore them and to turn to the object of meditation as soon as possible, without attaching any undue importance to the disturbing factors. By recognizing the irrelevance and worthlessness of disturbing thoughts and the relative value and importance of the object of meditation, it becomes possible to let the disturbing thoughts die of themselves through sheer neglect, and to make the mind permanently steady in the object of meditation.
The Chief Types of Meditation and Their Relative Value
Meditation is of different types; and the chief types of meditation can be conveniently distinguished from each other on the basis of three distinct principles. The types can be classified either on the basis of the function which they perform in respect of spiritual advancement, or on the basis of that part of personality which is predominantly brought into play during the process of meditation, or on the basis of those items of experience which it tries to understand. Of these three principles, any one can be adopted for the classification of the different types of meditation. The last principle will be used later on when giving a detailed account of the different forms of meditation, because it is most suitable for enumerative purposes. This section will successively make use of the first two principles, because they are helpful in different ways in explaining the relative value of the various forms of meditation.
In the light of the first principle—function—it turns out that meditation has to serve the purpose of associating consciousness with the eternal Truth and also the purpose of dissociating consciousness from the false and unimportant things of the phenomenal world. Thus there arise two types of