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Natural meditation

By - Jan 10, 2012 - Category Conceptbox - Print Print - Version française

Natural Meditation

In brief: natural meditation is the approach that consists in attempting, here and now, to feel the benevolent presence of the divine and to behave in conformity with the dignity induced by that sensation.

Anyone who has ever been in love has had that experience when thinking about the person they love: the sensation of the presence of the beloved can fill up your mental space to such an extent that it will accompany you at every moment and in every situation. When you are in love, this presence settles within you automatically and effortlessly. It can even be reflected around you in the smallest events. If you are not in love, you can still stir up a similar experience by directing your thought toward someone and attempting to develop positive feelings toward them and thereby experience the “presence” of this person. Such experiences are internal and multiform, and can be more or less intense depending in particular on how much attention we pay to them.

Feeling the divine presence is a similar experience. In fact, it is even more real than that of human love, inasmuch as He is really present in every being and every thing, beyond metaphor. It is because we are presently unaware of our true nature—of the divine part in us—that we are cut off from such a perception. As soon as we turn our attention toward Him, the natural link that connects us to Him is activated and we are led, more or less quickly, to become aware of His presence (“Knock and it shall be opened unto you!”).

But how exactly do you turn your attention toward Him? It requires a small mental effort. The first thing to do is to try to visualise Him—within you, around you and beside you. Everyone can do this using the means provided by their religion, points of reference or personal creativity… In any case, in order to focus your thoughts on an “object” that is not perceptible to your senses, you need something to fix upon.

So, it is a matter of striving to feel the presence of the divine. But to what end? First, because such a realisation leads to greater vigilance as regards the nature and the quality of the choices, acts and thoughts we implement in our life. Once we know and feel that the divine regard is following us, preceding us and passing through us; once we have gotten over the hurdle of the unease that such a realisation may cause (shame, embarrassment, disbelief, rejection, etc.), then the feeling of our own dignity impresses itself upon us. When we train ourselves to experience His presence, we no longer allow ourselves to do just any old thing; we no longer act in just any old way. In addition, the anxiety brought along by the solitude that sometimes overcomes us at certain critical moments in our life vanishes for good, giving way to a feeling of confidence and security.

At an even more fundamental level, this attention to the divine, and consequently to one’s true self, constitutes the very basis of the process of spiritual perfection. To achieve perfection, the self must acquire virtues by practicing the correct divine principles, particularly ethical ones. When attention to the divine presence settles within us, it builds up not only our sense of dignity, but also the motivation we need in order to practice these principles on a regular basis. It furthermore allows us to receive the energy needed to build up virtues, which constitute the true “building materials” of the self.

Acting as though the divine was right here, present within us, in our thoughts and outside of us, in our surroundings, all at once: this is what attention to the divine presence is about. But it is important to clarify the nature of this feeling: the true divine does not impose a burdensome or prying presence upon us; it is not here to judge us. True, it does involve a demanding presence, but one that is fundamentally benevolent and respectful of our autonomy, watching over our spiritual health overall, inspiring actions that are right or good in the course of our choices and thoughts.

How do we maintain and entertain such attention? How do we “settle down” within us this sensation of divine presence? Centuries of religious legacies regarding devotional practices have attempted to answer that question. But with such profusion of techniques and methods, we might get lost and miss what is essential. For example, is it really necessary to withdraw from society and to live in constant prayer, as a monk or a hermit? No. There is no need for a special time or place, or any particular ritual. Let’s go back to the analogy of being in love. Whenever we seek to become closer to someone to whom we are attracted, we instinctively adopt a behaviour that is agreeable to them. The same holds true in the relationship with the divine. If we wish to draw closer to the divine in order to feel and to “settle” His presence within us, all we need to do is to implement choices, a behaviour and thoughts that are agreeable to Him, that are in line with His satisfaction. Now, it is important to understand that what is agreeable to the divine is no different than what goes toward our real benefit, that is, what contributes to the process of perfection of our own self. This all takes place right here and right now, and beyond any particular ritual: whether at home, at work or in society, it is a matter of being attentive to ethics, fulfilling our duties, respecting our own dignity, making ourselves available to help others, and so on.

Seeking the sensation of divine presence therefore increases the dignity of our behaviour. In turn, our behaviour, bearing more dignity, draws us closer to the divine and reinforces the sensation of His presence within us. It’s a virtuous circle!

That said, prayer can play an important role in the process: it can be a catalyst. For what is, in fact, the very essence of prayer, whatever its content, intention, or even the language in which it is proffered? It is, precisely, to turn your attention to the divine. When you pray with sincerity, your thought turns toward Him and, just like a flower that has turned toward the sun, your self absorbs the divine light it needs in order to grow. The fundamental goal behind the daily prayers prescribed by the prophets of the various religions—beyond any petition for forgiveness, protection or blessing such prayers may express—is to increasingly settle within you the sensation of the divine presence and to learn to seek His satisfaction.

What natural meditation refers to in the thought of Ostad Elahi is this twofold virtuous approach. “Meditation” because it invites to a personal and well-thought-out attention, and “natural” because it corresponds to the true needs of our self—those needs that are in keeping with its nature—and because it finds its place in ordinary life, weaving a special attention into our most mundane activities. The universality, accessibility and effectiveness of natural meditation thus introduce a real revolution in the conception of human beings’ relationship to the divine, to themselves and to others.


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17 comments

  1. A. Jan 11, 2012 7:16 pm 1

    “Seeking the sensation of divine presence therefore increases the dignity of our behavior.”

    In my experience another effect of the sensation of divine presence is to calm anxieties or fears of all sorts. For example 2 years ago I was overtaken by the fear of losing my job and not having anymore money. I tried to autosuggest myself saying that if one is honest, then one has the right to earn a living but that did not calm my anxiety. Since I was quite distraught by this negative feeling, I really prayed the Source intensively asking for help to fight against this manifestation of the imperious self. After sometime, I was overtaken by the intense feeling of His presence, as if He was standing right next to me. The change in my field of perception was amazing and drastic. I suddenly went from a perception of anguish, where the future looked bleak and depressed, to a feeling of joy where I felt that even if hell broke loose until the end of my life, I could not give a heck because He was right next to me. I still remember it to this day.

  2. Naz Jan 11, 2012 9:29 pm 2

    Thank you so much for such a great article! All these years I knew that I have to visualize the divine as much as I can and feel God’s presence in my daily life but the example of being in love with someone and acting according to what he/she likes clarifies the whole concept and I know what exactly it means!!
    Whenever I really paid attention to him I felt the confidence and the best support on my side! It really works!

  3. Jimmy Jan 12, 2012 3:50 pm 3

    This article distilled the somewhat abstract (to physical senses), but infinitely important concept of natural meditation and feeling the divine presence, down to a wonderful analogy of “being in love with someone.” It then further goes on to provide a clear means for setting out to practice natural meditation through prayer. It amazes me how how much I choose to neglect such a valuable tool (prayer), especially considering how it draws us closer to the Divine Source with tangible effects on our confidence, mental health, happiness, and outlook on life.

  4. R. Jan 12, 2012 7:22 pm 4

    I lost the closest person to me last year and had to live alone since. This state of solitude has been driving me nuts. The article was like a wake up call. Now I look at the whole being lonely thing and having no one waiting for me at home from a whole different perspective. It is actually a chance for me to reconnect with Him and start feeling the sensation of the divine presence. I feel like I should use every minute of everyday, whether I’m alone or not, to impress Him by being a good person, fulfilling my duties, and learning about ethics instead of just wasting my time in front of the TV for example, unaware of His presence. It does start to settle in you once you try a little to pay attention to the divine presence. I can’t believe how effective it is. It is like all of a sudden someone who is really kind and protective is with you all the time and you don’t even need to worry that he is ever gonna leave. He is here with me and will never leave me alone. I guess it is a good idea to review this article every now and then in order to remember and benefit from its amazing message.

  5. Michael Jan 12, 2012 11:09 pm 5

    What if one feels the divine presence, yet chooses to infringe upon the rights of something( i.e. one’s body)?

  6. Johnny Jan 13, 2012 7:55 am 6

    @Michael: Thank you for a very interesting question – I often struggle with this concept, because despite trying to focus on the divine presence, there are countless times each day when I don’t act in accordance with His satisfaction.

    A key point mentioned at the opening of this article is that natural meditation consists in attempting not only to feel the benevolent presence of the divine, but also “to behave in conformity with the dignity induced by that sensation.” Indeed, the development of our true Self is dependent upon the practice of correct divine and ethical principles, as described by Dr Elahi in his lecture on “Self-knowledge and Perfection”.

    In practical terms, upon the occasions where I might feel the divine presence but do not act appropriately, this isn’t natural meditation in its true sense, because I have allowed my imperious self to corrupt or prevent the process of correctly translating that feeling into a respective action. Alternatively, my ‘attention’ might have been either insincere or lacking in the first place, perhaps because it was of a mercantile nature or motivated by self-interest at that moment.

    We can also consider the example of mystics who completely withdraw from society or constantly practise asceticism for the sake of divine contemplation. Whilst they may feel His presence intensely, it is an inefficient method of developing virtues in this day and age. An article elsewhere on this website, entitled “The three aspects of practicing”, explains that our spiritual development is also based upon struggling against the imperious self and helping others.

    This is a process which requires both perseverance and diligence, so I am very grateful to everyone who has described their experiences on this discussion board, for they serve as wonderful reminders of His benevolence and presence, and extremely inspiring and motivating examples of practising natural meditation.

  7. wire Jan 16, 2012 3:36 pm 7

    I had made a practical for myself a while ago to remember God’s presence at least 5 times a day. I had thought that I was successful, because indeed, there were moments when I was working or out with friends or even alone at home that I imagined God right there with me, and it would give me a sense of warmth and security. Having read this article, I wonder how much this impacted my daily life in terms of its choices, thoughts, and actions? Did I just remember Him get a boost of metacausal energy, and just move on, or did I modify my behavior to be more aligned with His presence? Thank you for this article.

    PS: What is the meaning of the picture embedded in the article?

  8. Johnny Jan 17, 2012 5:11 am 8

    @wire: The fact that you set yourself a practical and persevered in carrying it out, amidst your daily activities, is an excellent demonstration of modifying one’s behaviour in the context of society! In this world where it’s so easy to feel alone or excessively preoccupied with material anxieties, auto-suggestion and reminding ourselves of His presence is, in itself, a struggle against the imperious self. Furthermore, we shouldn’t confuse ideals with our best efforts – the cultivation of any virtue towards perfection requires sustained practice, initially in the form of trial and error!

    Receiving ‘a boost of metacausal energy’ is, from what I understand, an entirely reasonable and legitimate spiritual desire – it enables the soul to overcome the imperious self and develop virtues. When I give the example that my ‘attention’ is motivated by self-interest or insincere at times, this refers to those occasions when I am purely seeking some causal (material) benefit from God, unfortunately with little or no regard at that moment to the impact it has upon my spiritual development or His satisfaction.

    Conversely, sincerity in seeking His presence cultivates within us the concept of a “virtuous circle”, as explained in the article – and verified by those who have very kindly shared their experiences on this forum. Divine light emanates from its Source like gravity, and the closer we draw to it, the more we are able to benefit from its effects, such as developing our reason and will-power in a balanced way to respect rights, fulfil our duties, help others, and so on…

  9. wire Jan 19, 2012 3:58 am 9

    @Johnny

    Thank you for a great response. This is very helpful.

  10. Eileen Jan 19, 2012 8:24 am 10

    This article is so helpful. Before I do something, try to remember the Source and ask for God’s satisfaction. However, I don’t feel like I am progressing. This article clarifies and describes how we should practice Natural Meditation, and that we can link ourselves to Him.

    Thanks to all who posted this article!

  11. wire Jan 21, 2012 4:26 pm 11

    How do we know whether we are progressing? How do we know that we have God’s satisfaction when we do something?

  12. k Jan 22, 2012 6:59 pm 12

    Dear wire
    The answer to your first question is in Spirituality is a Science, p. 32.

  13. Eileen Jan 23, 2012 8:05 am 13

    @Wire: Speaking for myself, there are certain aspects of my Imperious Self that are obvious to me that I need to work on, and I am not doing that, so I have a lot of anxiety (which is probably good in my case) and, therefore, I do not have a positive feeling about myself. Hence, I feel that God is not satisfied with me, and I feel that I am not progressing. In a sense maybe I am, like when Thomas Edison failed 900 or 1,000 times in attempting to make an electric light bulb, he said something to the effect that now he knows, e.g. a thousand ways NOT to make an electric light bulb.

    When I do something with the intention for God’s satisfaction, and actually struggle against my Imperious Self, and I feel I have somehow succeeded in that instance, then I get a positive feeling (in my conscience?). Again, I may be mistaken, but that is just an example of how I perceive my inner feelings about progressing or not progressing and God’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction with me.

  14. Noel Jan 23, 2012 7:33 pm 14

    In my experience, when I seriously try to remember the Source and intentionally focus on whether what I am doing, however small, is in accordance with God’s satisfaction, I tend to get feedback in my daily life, which indicates to me whether my actions or thoughts were correct or not. This motivates me to keep on trying to do natural meditation more and more throughout the day. I find that this process is very warming and inspiring.

    Thank you for this very thoughtful article!

  15. A. Jan 24, 2012 7:26 pm 15

    I will try to answer wire’s questions

    >How do we know whether we are progressing?
    IN MY EXPERIENCE I CAN TELL THAT I AM PROBABLY PROGRESSING A LITTLE BIT WHEN I GET RID OF CERTAIN BEHAVIOURS, HABITS OR WAYS OF DOING THINGS THAT ARE BELOW THE DIGNITY OF SOMEONE WHO TRIES TO PRACTICE ETHICS FOR GOD’s SATISFACTION

    WHAT IS INTERESTING IN THIS PROCESS IS THAT, WITH TIME, THE MORE BAD HABITS I GET RID OF, THE MORE NEW HABITS/BEHAVIOURS I IDENTIFY THAT SUDDENLY I FIND NOT WORTHY OF SOMEONE PRACTICING TRUE ETHICS (WHEREAS SOMETIME BEFORE THEY SEEMED PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE)

    FOR INSTANCE, RECENTLY I REALIZED THAT I DID NOT PAY ENOUGH ATTENTION TO MY WIFE. SHE WOULD TALK AND AFTER A WHILE I WOULD SHUT OFF MY LISTENING WITH THE EXCUSE THAT SHE TALKED ABOUT MATERIAL SUBJECTS. I EVEN USED TO GET NEGATIVE THOUGHTS ABOUT THE FACT THAT SHE WAS SO FOUSED ON MATERIALITY. THE RESULT WAS THAT EVERY TIME SHE HAD A PROBLEM AND SHE WANTED SOME PSYCHOLOGICAL HELP/SUPPORT, I WAS NOT REALLY THERE TO HELP
    I HAVE NOW TRIED TO CHANGE THAT AND I TRY TO LISTEN TO HER AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

    > How do we know that we have God’s satisfaction when we do something?
    THE ONLY THING THAT I HAVE FOUND TO WORK IS TO CLOSELY PAY ATTENTION TO HIS SIGNS AFTER THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF A DEED. FOR INSTANCE : IF YOU TRY TO HELP SOMEONE AND THE PERSON, INSTEAD OF THANKING YOU, REACTS IN AN UNGRATEFUL WAY WHICH UPSETS YOU, THEN YOU KNOW THAT YOU PROBABLY HAD NOT ACTED FOR GOD’S SATISFACTION TO BEGIN WITH (OTHERWISE THE UNGRATEFUL REACTION WOULD HAVE NOT UPSET YOU)

    ANOTHER VERY PERSONAL WAY THE SOURCE COMMUNICATES WITH ME, IN ORDER TO GUIDE ME AND TO POINT OUT BEHAVIOURS, THOUGHTS THAT ARE NOT ALIGNED WITH HIS WILL, IS THROUGH NUMBERS. OFTEN TIMES, AFTER A CERTAIN DEED OR EVEN CERTAIN THOUGHTS, I OBSERVE CERTAIN NUMBERS (IT COULD BE THE PLATE NUMBER OF A CAR, OR THE TIME ON MY WATCH, OR THE PAGE NUMBER OF A BOOK I HAPPEN TO BE READING..). DEPENDING ON THE NUMBER(S) I WILL GET AN IDEA OF WHETHER MY ACTS/THOUGHTS WERE ALIGNED WITH HIS WILL OR NOT. BUT THIS IS VERY PERSONAL AND THERE IS ALWAYS A DEGREE OF UNCERTAINTY IN THE INTEPRETATION

  16. wire Jan 25, 2012 5:09 am 16

    thanks to all for very inspiring comments….

  17. pb Jan 30, 2012 11:27 pm 17

    Thank you for this article. At this point of time, all I try to do is to become more aware of my ego and when I remember, to ask myself what is the root of this thought? of course some thoughts are easier to change or challenge because I know where it is coming from. Others though, need more reflection. As to considering the presence of the Source, I find this is something I need to exercise as it does not come easy. The only way I can make some kind of meaningful connection is by thinking about my mortality and that I need Him to help me advance towards Him. As to His benevolence, it is hard for me to appreciate, even though I know my mere existence is a chance He has given me to work my way back to Him.

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