Theosophy ~ H.P. Blavatsky’s “Diagram Of Meditation”


Not long before she died H.P.B. dictated to a Mr Sturdy, one of the members of her Inner Group, the material for what has now become known as her Meditation Diagram.  This has been reproduced in The Theosophist before but perhaps a repetition of its inclusion as part of this article is justified.

This Diagram if used intently and persistently can yield some very significant results, the chief of which is the reorientation of attention from the personal to the impersonal self, even to the liberation of consciousness from the limitations of personal mind thinking and from the identification of consciousness with the personality.

Geoffrey Farthing (1909-2004), prominent English Theosophist and founder of the Blavatsky Trust – One of his books is “Deity, Cosmos & Man – An Outline of Esoteric Science,” a clear explanatory introduction to the teachings of Theosophy.
Geoffrey Farthing (1909-2004), prominent English Theosophist and founder of the Blavatsky Trust – One of his books is “Deity, Cosmos & Man – An Outline of Esoteric Science,” a clear explanatory introduction to the teachings of Theosophy.

The Diagram of Meditation is really in two parts.

(1) To start, H.P.B. says, ‘First conceive of UNITY by Expansion in Space and infinite in Time (either with or without self-identification)’. Here again we have a technique which is ‘consciousness-raising’ in itself. It relates us to the cosmic ‘whole’ and lifts our attention out of the realms of limitation. If we imagine ourselves ‘.. in Space and infinite in Time’, we cease to be in relation with anything we normally know or can conceive of. Space here does not relate to physical 3-D extension but to subjective space, that space ‘we’ (as a unit of bare subjectivity) are in when we close our eyes. Normally we fill it with mind images and thought symbols, but in this instruction we are to think of Unity, in the abstract, by expansion in space. This removes our attention, from the familiar to the ‘boundless’. It is a way of helping us realize the ‘inner divine man’ as the point of reference for all experience and mental activity. In this exercise that point of consciousness becomes our inner Self, our real single Self as opposed to the multitude of ‘selves’ which make up our personality.

We are then told to ‘meditate logically and consistently on this (Unity, etc.) in reference to states of consciousness’. Normally these are the four: waking, dreaming, deep sleep and the transcendental state of Turiya. This exercise must be done to be appreciated. There is much information on the states in Subba Rao’s Esoteric Writings, pp 133 (fn), and 311 (an interesting explanation).

All that he says can be summarised as follows, the four states are:-
1) Jagrat – the normal Waking State
2) Swapna – Dreaming
3) Sushupti – Dreamless Sleep
4) Turiya – Transcendental Conscious Union with one’s Ego.

The Vedanta Philosophy teaches as much as Occult Philosophy that our Monad during its life on earth as a Triad (7th, 6th and 5th principles) has, besides the condition of pure intelligence, three conditions, namely waking, dreaming and sushupti – a state of dreamless sleep – from the standpoint of terrestrial conceptions; of real, actual, soul life – from the occult standpoint, while man is either dreamlessly profoundly asleep or in a trance state, the Triad (spirit, soul, mind) enters into perfect union with the para-atma, the supreme universal soul. The Turiya state is a kamaless one and cannot be obtained by the Yogi unless the Higher Triad is separated from the Lower Quaternary (see S.D.III, 540). The higher spiritual consciousness is described in C.W.XII, 711.

(2) The second part of the Diagram of Meditation consists of important aids prefaced by ‘Then the normal state of our consciousness must be moulded by:-’. Then there are two headings: ‘Acquisitions’ and ‘Deprivations’ summarised briefly in what follows. Under ‘Acquisitions’ there are three main elements: i) ‘Perpetual presence in imagination in all space and time’; ii) Continued attempt at attitude of mind to all existing things, which is neither love, hate nor indifference’; iii) ‘The perception in all embodied beings of limitation only’. For meditation purposes these are extended and illustrated. Time spent in meditation on the ‘Acquisitions’ establishes a point of view (centre of awareness) which becomes distinct from whatever one is thinking about. The content of our thought becomes objective to us, as subject, the point of awareness. These Acquisitions, she says, are completed by the thought ‘I am all Space and Time.’

In the middle leg of Acquisitions, H.P.B. refers to the six virtues set out in verses 207 to 213 of The Voice of the Silence. For would-be meditators there is no better material for contemplation than that little book. In the Preface to it H.P.B. explains that the treatises she selected for translation from the original, ‘will best suit the few real mystics in the Theosophical Society, and (which) are sure to answer their needs’. Much of what she says about the practice of meditation she prefaces with the necessity for high morality and purity, the theme of much of the book.

Under the heading of ‘Deprivations’ we are instructed to steadily deny reality to: i) Separations and meetings, explained as association with places, times and forms; ii) The distinction, friend and foe; iii) Possessions; iv) Personality; v) Sensation. Each of these is illustrated and explained for meditation purposes, in a very illuminating and meaningful way.

A note summarizes the importance of our reviewing the ‘Deprivations’ in the light of ‘the inner divine man’. Our unit of consciousness (now free in space and time and the conditioning of the personality) is the nearest most of us will be able to get to ‘the inner divine man’ to begin with. The note says, we should cultivate the perpetual imagination – without self delusion – of ‘I am without’; the recognition of their being the source of bondage, ignorance and strife. ‘Deprivation’ is completed by the meditation ‘I am without attributes’.

An immediate difficulty arises when we think about these ‘Deprivations’ and identify ourselves with them. This note helps correct that attitude and see that we ourselves as freed units of consciousness, i.e. our inner divine selves, do not have these attributes. We are ‘deprived’ of them. We, our proper Selves, are never so conditioned, hence the injunction to meditate with the words ‘I am without attributes’. To start with and to realize the truth of this can be somewhat frightening. However, if we succeed, we have entered into a state of real freedom which can never again be lost completely. Yet somehow or other our real identity has not been lost although we then could not say what precisely we were. In other words we now, as ‘inner divine Beings’, have broken the habitual identity in consciousness with our personalities. A note on the Diagram says, ‘There is no risk of self-delusion if the personality is deliberately forgotten’.

Having achieved this initial stage of liberation we have to train our lower selves in the practice of the virtues, and H.P.B. says that now there will be ‘greater ease’ in practising them. Quoting The Voice of the Silence, the virtues (Paramitas) are i) Charity and love immortal; ii) Harmony in word and act; iii) Patience sweet; iv) Indifference to pleasure and pain; v) Dauntless energy; vi) Dhyana, whose golden gate once opened leads the Narjol (a saint or adept) towards the realm of Sat eternal and its ceaseless contemplation; vii) Prajna, the key to which makes of man a god, creating him a Bodhisattva. This is the end result of all meditation and spiritual development.

H.P. BlavatskyIt may be a long time before most of us can achieve, to a significant degree, the sixth and seventh virtues but the first five have some immediate reality for us and the persistent practice of them certainly changes us and our lives greatly to their benefit: then all those with whom we associate, and our environment, benefit accordingly.

There are many references in the classical H.P.B. literature to Hatha Yoga and mostly they are warnings against its practice. For example,

Pranayama … without the previous acquisition of or at least full understanding of the two higher senses, of which there are seven … pertains to the lower yoga [Hatha Yoga]. The Hatha so-called was and still is discountenanced by the Arhats. It is injurious to the health and alone can never develop into Raja Yoga.
[S.D.I, 95 (orig. ed.), 121 (3rd ed.), 157 (4th ed.)]

Again the two highest tattvas were ignored by exoteric yoga philosophy and Hatha Yoga, but these two are the chief factors in Raja Yoga. No spiritual or intellectual phenomena of a high nature can take place without them, they being the Adi tattva (first Logos, corresponding to Atma) and Anupadaka tattva (second Logos, corresponding to Buddhi). The other tattvas mentioned are Akasa (as Ether), Vayu (Air), Tejas (Fire), Apas (Water) and Prithivi (Earth). Note that akasa is Ether and corresponds to mind, Tejas is luminosity in the atmosphere. Another warning, ‘the Hatha Yogi uses powers only on the material plane’, and then there is a dissertation on the use of will power which specifically states that it does not involve the suppression of breath (see S.D.III, 503, C.W.XII, 616).

There is further instruction by H.P.B. to her Inner Group (see end of S.D.III, which is also in ‘The Inner Group Teachings of H.P. Blavatsky’ reconstructed by H.J. Spierenburg), most of it of an advanced and technical nature not touched on here.

~ from Geoffrey Farthing’s article “HPB on Meditation and Yoga” in “The Theosophist,” December 1992 (

* For less complex information about the Raja Yoga of Theosophy and its practical and perpetual application in everyday life, please see the article “The Esoteric Raja Yoga of Theosophy” on this site at

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