Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Meditation
Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced are being used here solely
because we are all familiar with this language. There is no
intent here to categorize, classify, or label people by the use
of these terms. Rather, it should allow you to easily see the
universal process of meditation more clearly. You might also
find it useful in observing your progress. The six subcategories
below are very broad, applying to virtually any system of
meditation. This outline attempts to capture the entire process
of meditation, from beginning to the height of enlightenment. By
understanding this general process, it is much easier to learn
and do the practices themselves.
the Beginning stages of practice, you think that you are
meditating, while you are actually still learning methods. This
is a pleasant time of learning, as benefits start to come from
the Intermediate stages, you have a pretty good grasp of the
process of meditation. The practices already learned are being
improved upon, and new practices are being integrated with them.
the Advanced stages, you have a solid foundation in
understanding the process of meditation, as well as practicing
meditation. You now explore and transcend the subtler aspects of
your inner world.
Meditation in Action
Stabilizing and Refining
Exploring and Purifying
the Unconscious Mind
practicing meditation requires having a well balanced lifestyle
and a basic degree of self awareness, as can be cultivated in
daily life. In this foundation stage, you cultivate practices
and attitudes such as non-harming, lovingness, compassion, and
acceptance. Primitive urges for food, sleep, sex, and
self-preservation are seen and wisely regulated. Balanced lifestyle and
meditation in action brings stability of
this important phase, determination is developed to stay with
the practices, gently learning and growing. It is a time for
gaining proficiency in the methods already learned. New methods
or alterations of existing methods are learned and integrated
into the practices. You are beginning to get a feel for the
nature of the whole process of meditation, and how to integrate
other practices such as contemplation, prayer, and mantra.
you are ready to explore the normally unexamined inner world.
The deep unconscious that might have previously been avoided is
now invited to come forward for introspection. Principles such
as the four functions of mind (manas, chitta, ahamkara, and
buddhi) are seen quite clearly. The inner process speeds up as
more and more of the deep impressions driving karma are seen,
examined, and weakened in the depths of meditation.
Practice of Meditation
Training and Calming
the Conscious Mind
Going Through and
Beyond the Mind
upon that solid foundation, you can more easily learn the actual
practices of meditation, while these first two stages are
somewhat done together. You establish a regular time and place
for meditation each day, develop your sitting posture, and learn
to work with and train the senses, body, breath, and mind.
Individual techniques are learned and repeated over and over,
coordinating them systematically.
you can easily calm the conscious mind. The
days of the "noisy" mind are behind you. You can easily regulate your breath, balance the energies,
and find peace of mind. The process of meditation is clear, as
you spend your time practicing rather than learning methods. Many people stop here, as if this calmness is the goal of
meditation. Actually, it is the prerequisite for true
meditation leading to subtler direct experience.
accepting the unconscious material, you leave behind memories,
pictures, and words. You examine and explore the
inner instruments themselves, such as the subtle energies and
elements, which are the very building blocks of ourselves as
individuals. Gradually, you move past even these, traveling into
and through even the subtlest channel of light and sound, to the
absolute reality of who you really are as pure being or