Meditation on Objects

What have I here? A pebble from a beach in Cyprus, now used as a paperweight. Let me meditate on this. First I shall observe it very carefully, noting its size, shape, color, texture, heaviness, markings, etc. Next I shall close my eyes and concentrate upon it. Now I will use the Four Roads of Thought again, with a new motive — to realize as fully as possible the object in whole and parts, its qualities and its actions.

When I have done my best at this I shall know that pebble better than before — both it and its relation to other things. The fullness of meditation on the form and color of this object will lead to a realization of beauty more than I knew before. If this does not come from the whole, it will come from meditation on a part of it. [Perfect meditation will be on the whole thing, but if in the course of a meditation we feel we want to continue it only on a part, we can reduce the field of concentration to that part, whereupon that part becomes the object of meditation. Thus, if I am meditating on an elephant, and I find I become especially interested in its strength only, I can reduce the field from elephant (which now becomes a background) to the aspects or examples of strength which it presents.] Meditation on its substance and weight and stillness will lead to a new realization of what being is. Another line of meditation will lead me to feel what it would be like to have one’s consciousness in the stone. I must merge myself in it and feel the “stoneness” of it. What is that life experiencing? What “stillness” is it feeling, learning and enjoying?

If my object was a living thing — the cat, again — I should have much more scope for meditation. After following all the Roads, I would come to the question of the feelings of the cat in many different situations. And again, I would merge myself in the cat mind, and bathe, as it were, in its consciousness and experience. Already I have tasted its sensitiveness, its beauty, and its being in poise and in motion, and now, entering its consciousness I shall know it by the road of love, a feeling of its feelings which I cannot have without being attentive to its outlook. In order to learn skill in action, how to touch things, how to walk with touch and balance, and many other such things, I will do well to meditate upon the cat. Every animal has something very valuable for us.

In both cases — the stone and the animal — my thought, feelings and body will all be improved by meditation.


Exercise 16.

Consider again the diagram and arrow-words on page 17. Recall how you made a larger diagram or chart for yourself, with perhaps fifty or more arrow-words about the cat or other chosen object. In that practice of concentration, every time that you thought of something directly (not meditatively) concerned with the cat you wrote it down as an arrow-word. You did not then allow yourself to think about this arrow-word, but dropped it from mind and slid back along the arrow to the central thought, the cat.

Now get out your old sheet of paper containing your diagram with all its arrow-words, or make a new one. Do not be in a hurry; it will not be a waste of time to make a new one, if necessary. Using this diagram or chart, look at arrow-word number I, which may be “milk” (for example), and return (sliding, not jumping) to the cat, bringing the milk with you. Now you will spend a little time looking at the cat and the milk together as a unitary mental picture, thinking all you can about their relationship, when this flow of thought (in which you do not allow yourself to think about milk except with the intention of its relation to the cat — for that would be starting a new chart with milk in the center) is finished, and you feel that nothing more is coming up in mind on the subject of this relationship, you turn to your arrow-word number 2 and treat in it the same way, and so on with all your arrow-words.

This is meditation on the cat, and as a result of it you will have enormously enriched your idea (and future experience) of cats, and will have co-ordinated many disorderly and disconnected pieces of knowledge lying scattered about in your mind, and you will have increased your power and ease of thinking, so that in future your fountain of thought on any subject will play more readily and fully than before. You will probably also have received some new thoughts coming intuitively, as it were, for in all thinking there is a little touch (or more) of your original power, of which every consciousness has a share. But it must be said that this intuition belongs to the contemplation (into which one may slip involuntarily now and then during the practice) rather than to the thinking or meditation.

Practice this method with several material objects, and with living objects — such as animals. Practice first with paper and diagram, and afterwards in the mind only without a chart, according to desire.