The Stage of Contemplation
From Intellect to Intuition
By Alice A. Bailey
We are entering a realm of realization now which is much handicapped by two things: the use of words, which only serve to limit and distort, and the writings of the mystics themselves which - while they are full of wonder and of truth - are colored by the symbolism of their race and age, and by the  quality of feeling and emotion. The mystics, as a general rule, drift to and fro between moments of high illumination or of vision, and "the misty flats" of intense feeling and longing. They are either undergoing the joy and ecstasy of realization that lasts but a fleeting moment, or the agony of desire for the continuation of the experience. There seems (in the majority of cases) no sense of security or certainty of repetition, and only a longing for the attainment of such a state of holiness that the condition could be continuously present. In the ancient technique and the orderly meditation with which the East has lately dowered us, it seems possible that through knowledge of the way and through understanding of the process, the mystical experience may itself be transcended, and knowledge of divine things, and identification with the indwelling Deity may be brought about at will. The race now has the necessary mental equipment and can add to the way of the mystic that of the conscious intellect.
But between the stage of prolonged concentration, which we call meditation, and that of contemplation, which is of an entirely different category, there comes a transition period, which the Oriental student calls "meditation without seed," or, "without an object." It is not contemplation. It is not a process of thought. That is past, while the later stage is not yet achieved. It is a period of mind steadiness, and of waiting. Fr. Nouet describes this perhaps as well as anyone in the following words:
"When the man of prayer has made considerable progress in meditation, he passes insensibly to affective prayer, which, being between meditation and contemplation, as the dawn is between the night and the day, possesses something both of the one and of the other. In its beginnings it contains more of meditation, because it still makes use of reasoning; ...because having acquired much light by the prolonged use of considerations and reasonings, it enters at once into its subject, and sees all its developments without much difficulty... Hence it follows as it perfects itself it discards reasoning..." - Nouet, Fr., Conduite de l'Homme d'Oraison, Book IV, ch. 1.
The versatility of the rapidly moving and sensitively responsive mental substance can be brought, we have seen, into a stabilized condition, through prolonged meditation. This brings about a state of mind which renders the thinker unresponsive to vibrations and contacts coming from the outer phenomenal world and from the world of the emotions, and so renders passive the sensory apparatus, the brain and that vast interlocking network which we call the nervous system. The world in which man usually functions is shut off, yet he preserves at the same time an intense mental attention and a one-pointed orientation to the new world in which that which we call the soul lives and moves. The true student of meditation learns to be wide awake mentally, and potently aware of phenomena, vibration and states of being. He is positive, active and self-reliant, and the brain and the focused mind are closely coordinated. He is no impractical dreamer, yet the world of practical and physical affairs is temporarily negated.
If the student is not naturally of the positive mental type, some serious, persistent, intellectual training (designed to create mental alertness and polarization) should be taken up along with the practice of meditation, otherwise the process will degenerate into an emotional revery, or a negative blankness. Both conditions carry with them their own dangers, and, if prolonged, will tend to make a man an impractical person, impotent and inefficient, in daily affairs. His life will become less and less useful to himself or to others. He will find himself dwelling more and more in uncontrolled irrational fancies, and emotional fluctuations. In such a soil the seeds of egoism easily sprout, and psychism flourishes.
The mind, therefore, positive, alert and well-controlled, is carried forward on the wings of thought and then held steady at the highest attainable point. A condition is then brought about in the mind which is analogous to one which has already taken place in the brain. It is held in a waiting attitude, whilst the consciousness of the thinker shifts into a new state of awareness and he becomes identified with the true inner and spiritual man. What is technically called the "perceiving consciousness" waits.