Conversations from the Edge – What Authors and Teachers Say in Private, Part Four

Catching Up With a Friend and Mentor

From 25 April 2020

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with a friend of mine. We normally chat about once a year, but the sudden and unexpected passing of his wife of over fifty years just prior to the Coronavirus confinements gave reasons to call in a more timely manner. David and I first met when he was a regional grand lodge office for the Rosicrucian Order (AMORC). This organization was one I had a familial relationship to as my great-uncle Edward Tischler was an active member since 1927. I joined just before entering college at the age of seventeen and would eventually become a volunteer in the same role that David had when we met. He on the other had would go on to serve as treasurer of the organization during one of its most challenging episodes in its, at that time, 75 year history.

David Burnet was a highly sought after presenter and I had him to thank for encouraging me to become a seminar instructor, as well as learn more about hypnosis (something my great-uncle was skilled in) and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) in particular. This was a body of knowledge that would come to serve me well across the years. During our recent talk I asked, “What was your experience with manifestation using the various visualization practices?”

He paused for a bit and replied, “I found that if I was paying attention I usually got some direction for action in two hours for regular matters, and situations would be resolved in about two or three days or I’d get direction for larger matters like a new business, career, or a place to live. If I was not paying attention or not ready for it and some life changes need to be made, then it was about 18 months.”

Continuing after a clear contemplative exhale, “I kept a careful list of everything I meditated or prayed for on index cards. The date of request on the top left and date of fulfillment on the right. Information on what was being requested and for whom would be on the card. Having these made it very easy to check and being written in my own hand made it easy to remember the conditions around which the efforts were being made. Since many of the cards were for other people, it also gave me insight into the process of trying to assist people – even when they say they want it – through metaphysical means.”

“What I found for myself is that when I was congruent in what I was after, success was rapid and almost without effort. I needed to be concentrating on the goal at hand, and not being afraid or concerned about what I needed to do next. Everything I had mentally, emotionally, and physically had to be focused on my desired goal without fear of failure or other concerns.”

In concentration, a key idea is concurrency. For concentration to work well, we are best off when we are congruent. It too often took me one to two years to become congruent about major matters such as a new place to live or a new career or business. I think that was because I liked the one I had, and I wanted to make an improvement. When I finally became congruent, clues or hints about how to achieve what I was asking for or concentrating on were generally received within two days. I suspect that people who commonly take 18 months or so to get wanted results may be not entirely congruent, yet – and that longer time period included a process of becoming more congruent and single minded. At least it was that way for me.”

After a moment, where it appeared he might be done, Dave said, “Oh yeh, one more thing!” followed by a knowing giggle. “Keeping track also let me know when my goals were achieved. Often we ask for something, we get, and we don’t even remember that it was something we asked for. This seems to be more common that one might think. So writing down your goals and requests from the cosmic, or whatever, helps us know that we tend to be more successful than we recognize.”

“The time frame of eighteen months for results is probably right. Many things we concentrate on and ask for are things new to us. Which increases the likelihood we are not yet congruent and single minded in our concentration. When already single minded, results are often quick. And results are not always rapid full manifestation. If I want a better house, congruently, it may take a few days to see it. A few days to make arrangements. A week or two to arrange to move. Maybe a month until manifestation. But the clue to the right place seems to show up in a couple of days. Asking about how much something will cost calls for a cost benefit examination on getting it and not getting it. And being concerned of the cost beyond can it be afforded is an indication, I suspect, of a lack of congruency. Certainly a lack of being fully committed

His comments struck a cord because in an essay I wrote, How Long Does It Take?,

Wherein I recounted that it has been stated to me by both Jean Dubuis, and Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki that it can take up to eighteen months for an esoteric process to work itself through. However, that was the key, an esoteric process, or one which was either aimed at or required personal integration of some kind for its realization. The cosmic, so to speak, can only work with what we bring to it. The more we can do, the more we can become, and the more we can realize.

Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity within by controlling nature: external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy – by one, or more, or all of these – and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.” – Swami Vivikenanda, Raja Yoga

The familiar question “So, how long does it take before I see results?” is often heard in an esoteric lodge or group, after explaining an esoteric technique to a new comer to the Work. By asking “How long does it take?” the student reveals several things that are endemic to modern esotericism.

Concentration is one of the key fundamentals to success, visualization and meditation are the other two. But concentration is not just a mental faculty, it is also an attitude, an approach to one’s inner life. If we spend all our time looking for the ‘right system’ or combination of techniques that will give us the experience we are seeking then more often than not we defeat ourselves. Pick a system and set of daily practices and stick to them! Good solid basics give more results than the most complex of magical endeavors. Keep it simple and direct, like the flight of an arrow, and then you will hit your mark.

In truth, all great spiritual masters were iconoclastic to some degree, even if their character and history is rewritten after their passing to make them more marketable to a wider audience. Therefore, it is within our right to undertake some degree of spiritual experimentation and idiosyncratic syncretism. However, this can only effectively be done when we have a strong and solid base to build upon. That base can only be achieved by practicing within a traditional system for as we have seen, for a minimum of five to ten years, and often with the guidance of one or more qualified teachers.

However, this still requires a concentration of mind at the time and moment we are working. We must focus our mind on the task at hand, and for many, this skill can take time to develop. Concentration is so foundational that we readily see it mentioned by various authorities on yoga more so than meditation. Concentration is part of the foundation that leads to meditation, but meditation without concentration is day dreaming. Once learned so that it can be applied easily, concentration as a mental force opens all the doors to all the realms we wish to enter.

Concentration is described as being the ‘master key’ with which we can solve all our problems in life: psychological first, and from that, physical and material as well. It is concentration of all of our intellectual resources and abilities – slowly at first if needed – on the problem or situation before us that when maintained allows breakthroughs in realization. By proceeding slowly we build the image or idea in our mind organically and are absorbed into it without force or stressed effort. Just as a child carefully places one block on top of another carrying nothing for the time it takes to make a tower, so we must slowly and with absorption in the moment allow our mind to focus on the task at hand. When this done, organically and without concern for ‘technique’ or ‘method’ we will find ourselves in a state of deep concentration regardless of our external circumstances. Instead of rushing from task to task because we feel we do not have enough time, focus and do each task well. Concentrate on what you are doing and it will then be done well, and in less time than if rushed or impatient. As the old Russian saying goes, “Measure twice, cut once.” Like any new physical or mental practice we wish to form into a healthy habit, concentrating on what we are doing takes practice. In the beginning we will be exhausted, but in time, we will increase our ability and endurance.

In Powers Within: Selections from the Works of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Compiled with an Introduction by A.S. Dalai we read that through concentration we can accomplish our desired goals in three days, three hours, or even three minutes when our mind is focused.

Essentially, from the general point of view, particularly, from the intellectual viewpoint, the most important thing is the capacity of attention and concentration, it is that which one must work at and develop. From the point of view of acting (physical actions), it is the will: you must work and build up an unshakable will. From the intellectual point of view, you must work and build up the power of concentration which nothing can shake. If you have both, concentration and will, you will be a genius and nothing can resist you.” (p.41)

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