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When we meditate, we must embody the ideals we meditate on and make them a living reality – here.
By Roberto Assagioli, original English title: Meditation. July 14, 1931, Lesson XX Year IV, Original Italian title: La Meditazione. From the Assagioli Archive in Florence. Doc. #10815. Translated with Notes by Jan Kuniholm
After the extensive theoretical and practical preparation we have made during this course, we are now in a position to understand well what meditation is and to do it satisfactorily. Let us first see what meditation is not.
Some people believe that meditation means mentally examining a given problem, reasoning about it, drawing purely rational and philosophical conclusions from it. — Now this is not so: this is reflection, not meditation.
Meditation also makes use of reflection, but that is not all there is to it; and much less is meditation a rêverie, a passive rêverie, without order and without restraint. It is instead an ordered, disciplined inner activity, consciously aimed at an end.
All the inner faculties operate in meditation. — This will become clear by examining a complete meditation exercise.
1 – MEMORY
The first psychic faculty that operates in meditation is memory. It is necessary to recall the theme, the subject matter, so to speak, of meditation and the various elements and points to be considered, —
2 – THINKING — REFLECTION
Intellectual activity follows. — It is necessary to think, to reflect on the chosen theme, to develop it, to deepen it, thus evoking new ideas and new reasons.
This constitutes the first part of meditation, but the most vital and central part of it has not yet been done. — Exact ideas and thoughts, as such, do not have the dynamic power, the propulsive and arousing force necessary for the purpose of meditation to be implemented or fully realized. — Thoughts must become concrete, alive, warm, active; and therefore they must clothe themselves in images, incarnate themselves, so to speak. — Here, therefore, another faculty comes into play:
3 – IMAGINATION
There is no need for me to insist on demonstrating the power of imagination: we have often spoken of it. — Suffice it to recall that it is actually the imagination that arouses and causes the subconscious, this enormous reservoir of energies, to act. —
Imagination makes you sick and imagination makes you well. Imagination arouses feelings and emotions.
You see now why we insisted in the first part of our course on exercises for evoking images, on experiments in visualization. This is about learning to master, to discipline, and to direct the imagination; to become capable of evoking the images we desire, which are useful for our purposes: to evoke them vividly, clearly, intensely, and to hold them for a long time before our inner eye so that they can operate most effectively in us, shaping and directing the subconscious, evoking the desired feelings.
Those images become living forces, almost entities with an autonomous life, and they recur spontaneously: almost imposing themselves. Therefore be cautious about playing with the imagination.
4 – FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS
This is the next stage: the awakening, the arousing of feelings.
What must take place in us is what the Psalmist says so well (Psalm 39 v.3):
“My heart was warmed within me as I meditated, a fire was kindled.”
(Love — its miracles)
Only thus is there full participation of the personality; only thus is the propulsive force that leads to action aroused. But it is precisely here that there is the greatest danger, the greatest pitfall that can make the meditative work done so far futile.
There is danger of allowing that force of feeling to dissipate — of letting it evaporate and disperse, so to speak. There is the temptation to be pleased and delighted by the lofty and comforting feelings aroused by thought and imagination, to be blissful in them and almost to allow oneself to live in that ideal world without proceeding to action, without caring about embodying those ideals and to making them a living reality, here.
This produces a dualism, a harmful dissociation of the personality; an escape from life, an inability to act; and nervous and psychic disorders can also result. (See James: On Some of Life’s Ideals, p. 154). 
Those who belong to certain psychological types are more easily prone to this error, and must especially guard against it.
- the emotional- sentimental type
- the imaginative type (the so-called “artistic temperaments”)
- the introverted types — those who by their nature are turned inward, and shun action: they are often brooders over ideas, or hypercritical or abulic.
We must therefore be careful not to stop at this stage, but to move on to the next, that of the
5 – DESIRES AND ASPIRATIONS
The natural effect of feelings is to arouse desires and aspirations, which have a sharper dynamic character. —
Without vivid desires, without intense aspirations, one does not overcome obstacles or the trials that more or less always stand in the way of action, of implementation.
But even desires and aspirations are insufficient. Even their propulsive force can be dissipated sterilely or exhausted too soon. —
They can remain in the state of intention.
They must be transformed into:
6 – IMPULSES AND FIRM INTENTIONS TO ACT
The impulse to act, when it is recognized as good and expedient, should be allowed to unfold freely — but the impulse generally runs out in a single act or a few acts. — Instead, it is often necessary to create a constant attitude, a continuous inner disposition to act and to persevere in action, until the goal, often arduous and distant, is reached.
Here another and higher faculty manifests itself:
7 – THE WILL
It can be said that in a sense the will was already operating; it precedes and stands behind the whole meditative process. — In fact, it is our will that decides to meditate, that chooses the topic of meditation, that maintains the discipline of mind, imagination and feelings, that makes all the stages of meditation unfold neatly. – (See Colozza, 55,56).
But here at the end the will goes into action in a new, more direct and specific way while implementing the goal and purpose of meditation. It is a means used by the will to enlighten, arouse, empower and implement itself.
Actually in meditation, by virtue of the dynamic power of the will, a consensus, a cooperation or convergence, a unification of all our faculties is achieved — a temporary psychosynthesis is produced.
N.B. ACTION should be understood in a broad sense (see Colozza, p. 280,281)
I – Word
Psalm: “My heart was warmed within me, while I meditated a fire was kindled; then my tongue spoke.” Fiery living words. (Psalm 39 v.3)
Mark down in writing what you realize in meditation.
- It prevents one from being lost
- Strengthens, reaffirms
- Serves for others.
3-Actions of all kinds
In conclusion: well-done meditation elicits fruitful and creative actions; and the highest and most effective means of modifying external reality, of acting beneficially toward others to transform ourselves.
 In the Revised Standard Version (RSV) in English, this verse reads: “my heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned;” —Tr.
 I have been unable to trace the reference to “Peck.” —Tr.
 James, William. On Some of Life’s Ideals. New York, Henry Holt and Co. 1912.
 Abulic: abnormal lack of ability to act or to make decisions that is characteristic of certain psychotic and neurotic conditions. —Tr.
 Giovanni Antonio Colozza (1857-1943) was an Italian teacher and professor. Among his many publications are Meditation, and The Imagination in Science. It is not clear to which work Assagioli refers here, but there is a reference to his Meditation in the Archives.—Tr.