The meditation process is divided into five parts, one part leading sequentially to another. We will take these various stages and study each of them separately, for in their mastery we can trace the steady ascent of the conscious spiritual man out of the realm of feeling into that of knowledge and then of intuitive illumination. These stages might be briefly enumerated as follows:
1. Concentration. This is the act of concentrating the mind, learning to focus it and so use it.
2. Meditation. The prolonged focusing of the attention in any direction and the steady holding of the mind on any desired idea.
3. Contemplation. In activity of the soul, detached from the mind, which is held in a state of quiescence.
4. Illumination. This is the result of the three preceding processes and involves the carrying down into the brain consciousness of the knowledge achieved.
5. Inspiration. The result of illumination, as it demonstrates in the life of service.
These five stages, when followed, lead to union with the soul and direct knowledge of divinity. For the majority of those who take up the study of meditation, the stage which should engross their attention for a long time — practically to the exclusion of the others — is that of concentration, the gaining control of the mental processes. Aspiration is presumably present to some degree or there would be no desire to meditate. It should be pointed out, however, that aspiration avails nothing unless it is endorsed by a strong will, a capacity to endure, and patient persistence.