Perennialist Meditation

Author Contemplation I Meditation I Contemplation II Meditation II Higher Self Platonic Meditation

   The development of the unique operation 1 constituting Perennialist meditation originated with Hermes and was adapted, practiced, and taught by such Perennialist teachers as Plato, Jesus, Iamblicus, Boethius, and Rumi.

      As with all concepts and processes, "meditation" has been debased by imposters into nothing but pop psychology, meditation gimmicks, and mental reflection, as in this simplistic definition:

    "Meditation is the process of turning consciousness upon itself to develop attentional control of the processes and contents of consciousness." 2

      In this essay, we'll explicate and illustrate Perennialist meditation. There are a number of primary prerequisites for genuine meditation:

  1. One must be involved in serious study of the Perennial Tradition. This involves a person approaching life in the same frame of mind as Plato, conceiving that the end for which humans were created is to achieve communion with Higher Powers in the celestial domain, through "the light and spirit of the Divine, the wings of the soul. That ought to be the aim of all humans in acquiring knowledge."

  1. A person must have achieved the ability to receive inspiration.

  2. An individual must have attained this realization:

    "Loving, personal Higher Beings are doing everything they can to help me realize unity with the One. Life is their providing the experiences I need to learn lessons essential to my spiritual progress."

      Perennial meditation is communion--dialectical interchange--with Higher Powers in the celestial domain, through the light and spirit of the Divine, the wings of the soul. Plato provides several different descriptions of and exercises in Higher Meditation.

"A philosophical person--a lover of wisdom--indulges his appetites neither too much nor too little, but just enough to lay them to sleep and prevent them from interfering with higher activities. He collects himself in meditation to pursue spiritual investigations, seeking and discovering unrealized realities of the past, present, and future. Through identifying with his Higher Self in meditation he avoids being the victim of fantastic and uncivilized vagaries and most effectively attains Truth."
Plato, Commonwealth 9, 571d 3

      Meditation, Plato tells us, requires preparation: paying just the right amount of attention to one's physical appetites so they don't interfere with spiritual contemplation. We then must collect ourselves--focusing and stilling our voluntary and involuntary physical and mental elements: thoughts, dreams, emotions, and bodily sensations.

      As in all forms of dialectical interchange, we engage in spiritual investigations to discover realities as yet unrealized 4 --from the past, present, and future. In Perennial meditation we become aware of something that already exists--like a beam of light revealing realities present but unknown before they are illuminated.

      Through identifying with our Higher Self in meditation, we avoid being the victim of mental and physical vagaries.

"The soul then reasons in the most beautiful manner, when it is disturbed by nothing belonging to the body, neither by hearing, nor sight, nor pain, nor any pleasure, but subsists in the most eminent degree, itself by itself, bidding farewell to the body, and, as much as possible neither communicating nor being in contact with it, extends itself towards real being."
Plato, Phaedo

      Identification--union--with our Higher Self leads us to the attainment of Truth.

"There exists a faculty in the human mind which is immeasurably superior to all those which are grafted or engendered in us. By it we can attain to union with superior intelligences, finding ourselves raised above the scenes of this earthly life, and partaking of the higher existence and superhuman powers of the inhabitants of the celestial spheres."

Iamblicus, The Egyptian Mysteries

      As we develop mastery of Perennialist meditation, our communion with Higher Realities results in inspired knowledge which guides and enriches our contemplation:

  • "Just as you receive inspired knowledge when you write, you can receive inspired knowledge during meditational interchange."

  • "As you're able to receive inspired knowledge when writing, without understanding how this occurs, so you receive inspired knowledge in meditation without knowing how it happens."

  • "You should experiment with different elements--thoughts, feelings, actions, occurrences--to see what ensues--just as you experiment with different coding and then see what appears on an HTML document."

     Through Perennialist meditation you awaken a faculty in your consciousness which is immeasurably superior to any you were formerly aware of. As you awaken this faculty you are attaining union with your Higher Consciousness, raising yourself above the scenes of this earthly life and partaking of the higher existence and supersensible powers of the celestial sphere.

"By this faculty we find ourselves liberated finally from the dominion of destiny, and we become, as it were, the arbiters of our own fates.  For, when the most excellent parts in us find themselves filled with energy; and when our soul is lifted up towards essences higher than science, it can separate itself from the conditions which hold it in the bondage of every-day life; it exchanges its ordinary existence for another one, it renounces the conventional habits which belong to the external order of things, to give itself up to and mix itself with another order of things which reigns in that most elevated state of being."

Iamblicus, The Egyptian Mysteries

      Part of our preparation for Perennialist meditation is to develop themes for contemplation.

"Unless you make yourself equal to God, you cannot understand God: for the like is not intelligible save to the like.

Make yourself grow to a greatness beyond measure, by a bound free yourself from the body; raise yourself above all time, become Eternity; then you will understand God.

Believe that nothing is impossible for you, think yourself immortal and capable of understanding all, all arts, all sciences, the nature of every living being.

Mount higher than the highest height; descend lower than the lowest depth.

Draw into yourself all sensations of everything created, fire and water, dry and moist, imagining that you are everywhere, on earth, in the sea, in the sky, that you are not yet born, in the maternal womb, adolescent, old, dead, beyond death.

If you embrace in your thought all things at once, times, places, substances, qualities, quantities, you may understand God."

Hermes, Asclepius

A Brand New Most Serious
Form of Meditation

      Plato made it clear that the ultimate attainment of unitive consciousness is possible only through muesis (literally, "closing of the eyes"): turning away from external sense-data and discovering truth through an introspective process of contemplation and meditation.

Additional Themes for Contemplation

The mind thinking of the soul
Focusing on a single theme until we achieve full awareness and realization
Budhist meditation
Developing contemplation themes
Advanced meditation
The cessation of thought
Expanding awareness

"The earth seems to rest in silent meditation."

The Upanishads


1 Operation: A performance involving the practical application of wisdom and power

2 M. A. West (ed.), The Psychology of Meditation

3 This is my own translation of Plato's original statement in Greek.

4 Realize: make real or concrete; give reality to; be fully aware or cognizant of

"The integral Knowledge is something that is already there in integral Reality: it is not a new or still non-existing thing that has to be created, acquired, learned, invented or built up by the mind; it must rather be discovered or uncovered, it is a Truth that is self-revealed to a spiritual endeavour: for it is there veiled in our deeper and greater self; it is the very stuff of our own spiritual consciousness, and it is by awaking to it even in our surface self that we have to possess it."
Aurobindo, The Life Divine