Meditation on Sentences

To work through a religious or philosophical book and meditate on the sentences is another frequent practice. It supplements (a) reading and (b) study, on the assumption that the writer is expressing deep thought worthy of the profoundest consideration.

For example, in an old book I read: “Verily, in whom unwisdom is destroyed by the wisdom of the Self, in them wisdom, shining as the sun, reveals the Supreme”. Every word has to be pondered on to find its full meaning and implication. You have to take the sentence to pieces — to the smallest pieces — and put it together again, knowing that the whole is always more than the sum of its parts. It may require a long time, but you must not be impatient. You must not go on to the next verse or passage as long as you can do anything more with the present one, even if it lasts you for days or weeks. You may have to break the whole sentence again and again, to go back to a part and concentrate and meditate on that, and once more build the whole. Your attention will slide along the sentence, illuminating the parts one after another backwards as well as forwards, until the one fact denoted by the whole is a simple unity, fully present with all its variety of parts, qualities and actions.

In meditation on a sentence or a part of it you must not simply say, “Oh, that’s easy, very understandable”, and leave it at that, just as you do not say, “That’s merely a flower”, and pass on. Take the following: “Thy Self is in itself without a body”. In the non-casualness of meditation you are to move into a realization of this, or else the teacher has spoken in vain.

Remember that obviousness is often due to casualness, and that you may be walking over a gold-mine without knowing it. The unobvious sometimes reveals its secrets more easily because it puzzles, and thereby commands attention, as in the following passage from Jacob Boehme: “The unground is an eternal nothing, but makes an eternal beginning as a craving. For the nothing is a craving after something. But as there is nothing that can give anything, accordingly the craving itself is the giving of it, which yet also is a nothing, or merely a desirous seeking. And that is the eternal origin of Magic, which makes within itself, where there is nothing, something out of nothing, and that is itself only, though this craving is also a nothing that is merely a will. It has nothing and there is nothing that can give anything; neither has it any place where it can find or repose itself. The craving is certainly a cause of the will, but without knowledge or understanding of the craving. We recognize, therefore, the eternal will-spirit as God, and the moving life of the craving as Nature”.

Exercise 19.
Take a short sentence and meditate upon it in the manner described above.