Saturday, March 7, 2015
Raja Yoga, Message 14
"Dharana or concentration is the fixing of the mind on one place (object or idea)." (III-l)
"At other times (when there is no concentration), the seer has identification with the modifications of the mind." (I-4)
Mind is compared to quicksilver, because its rays are scattered over various objects. It is compared to a monkey, because it jumps from one object to another object. It is compared to a rutting furious elephant because of its passionate impetuosity. It is known by the name 'Great Bird' because it jumps from one object to another just as a bird jumps from one twig to another, from one tree to another.
Some western psychologists hold: "The mind that wanders aimlessly can be made to move in a small limited circle only, by the practice of concentration. It cannot be fixed on one point only. If it is fixed on one point only then inhibition of the mind will take place. There is death for the mind. Nothing can be achieved when there is inhibition of the mind. So there is no use of inhibiting the mind." This is not right. Complete control of the mind can be attained when all the thought-waves are thoroughly extirpated. The yogi works wonders by his one-pointedness of mind. He knows the hidden treasures of the soul with the help of the mighty all-penetrating searchlight generated by one-pointedness of mind. After one-pointedness is attained you have to achieve full restraint. In this stage all modifications subside completely. The mind becomes quite blank. Then the yogi destroys the blank mind also, by identifying himself with the Supreme Purusha or Soul or Being from whom the mind borrows its light. Then he obtains omniscience and final emancipation. These are matters that are unknown to our western psychologists. Hence, they grope in darkness. They have no idea of the Purusha who witnesses the activities of the mind.
Man is a complex social animal. He is a biological organism and so he is definitely characterised by the possession of certain physiological functions such as circulation of blood, digestion, respiration, excretion, etc. He is also definitely characterised by the possession of certain psychological functions, such as thinking, perception, memory, imagination, etc. He sees, thinks, tastes, smells and feels. Philosophically speaking, he is the image of God — nay he is God himself. He lost his divine glory by tasting the fruit of the forbidden tree. He can regain his lost divinity by mental discipline and the practice of concentration.
In all of man's struggles and attempts at achieving any desired end there is in reality no necessity at all for him to go in quest of external forces to aid him. Man contains within himself vast resources of inherent power lying untapped or else only partially made use of.
It is because he has allowed his faculties to get scattered on a hundred different things that he fails to achieve anything great, despite his inherent possibilities. If he intelligently regulates and applies them, quick and concrete results will accrue.
To learn to rationally and effectively use the existing forces, man could not wait for any striking new methods to be invented to guide him. Since the dawn of creation nature herself abounds in instinctive examples and lessons to aid man in every walk of life. Observation will tell us that every force in nature, when allowed to flow loosely over a wide area, moves slowly and with comparatively less power than it would do if gathered together in one mass and directed through a single restricted outlet.
This gathering together and bringing to bear of a force at a given point on any object, idea or action, forms the process of concentration. The concentrated application of a force makes for maximum results in minimum time and with minimum effort.
Examples of the power generated by a concentration of force are cited: (1) The sluggish and leisurely flow of a river, dammed and accumulated, rushes out with an amazing force through the sluice. (2) The phenomenon of ton-loads of cargo in heavy wagons being hauled or propelled by the power of steam, concentrated in the boiler of the engine. Also, the clattering and displacement of the covering lid of a cauldron when the latter commences to boil very much is a most common domestic sight. (3) The normally warm sunrays become suddenly so hot as to burn up objects when centralised and brought into focus through a lens. (4) The simplest and commonest action, where one unconsciously uses this principle, is noticed when a man wishing to hail another a good distance away automatically cups his palms and shouts through them.
The mind is like an unchained monkey. It has the power of attending to only one object at a time, although it is able to pass from one object to another with tremendous speed. The mind is ever restless. This is due to the force of rajas and passion. Concentration is necessary for success in material affairs. A man with an appreciable degree of concentration has more earning capacity and turns out more work in less time. Need I say that the yoga student will be amply rewarded for his effort in concentration?
During concentration the mind becomes calm, serene and steady. The various rays of the mind are collected and focussed on the object of meditation. There will be tossing of the mind. One idea occupies the mind. The whole energy of the mind is concentrated on that one idea. The senses become still. They do not function. When there is deep concentration, there is no consciousness of the body and surroundings. He who can practise real concentration for half or one hour will have tremendous psychic powers. He will also be very powerful. There is no limit to the power of the human mind. The more concentrated it is, the more power is brought to bear on one point. Man is born to concentrate the mind on God after collecting the mental rays that are dissipated on various objects. That is his important duty. He forgets his duty on account of attachment for family, children, money, power, position, respect, name and fame.
When you study a book with profound interest you do not hear if a man shouts and calls you by your name. You do not see a person when he stands in front of you. You do not smell the sweet fragrance of flowers that are placed on the table by your side. This is concentration or one-pointedness of mind. The mind is fixed firmly on one thing. You must have such a deep concentration when you think of God or the Atman. It is easy to concentrate the mind on a worldly object, because the mind takes interest in it naturally through force of habit. The grooves are already cut in the brain. You will have to train the mind gradually by daily practice of concentration, by fixing it again and again on the image of God, or the Self within. The mind will not move now to external objects, as it experiences immense joy from the practice of concentration.
Concentration is fixing the mind on an external object or an internal point. There can be no concentration without something upon which the mind may rest. A definite purpose, interest and attention will bring success in concentration.
The senses draw you out and perturb your peace of mind. If your mind is restless, you cannot make any progress. When the rays of the mind are collected by practice, the mind becomes concentrated and you get bliss from within. Silence the bubbling thoughts and calm the emotions.
Concentration as Part of Raja Yoga
Dharana is the sixth stage or limb of ashtanga yoga, or raja yoga of Patanjali Maharishi.
Real raja yoga starts from concentration. Concentration in a spiritual sense means the one-pointedness of the mind. It is the fixing of one's mind on the deity of one's choice. Once a Sanskrit scholar approached Kabir and asked him: "O Kabir, what are you doing now?" Kabir replied: "O pandit, I am detaching the mind from worldly objects and attaching it to the lotus feet of the Lord."
A well trained-mind can be fixed at will upon any object, either inside or outside, to the exclusion of all else. For example, once there was a workman who used to manufacture arrows. Once he was very busy at his work. He was so much absorbed in his work that he did not notice even a big party of the Rajah with his retinue passing in front of his shop. Such must be the nature of your concentration when you fix your mind on God. You must have the one idea of God and God alone. No doubt it takes some time to have complete one-pointedness of mind. You will have to struggle very hard to have single-minded concentration. Sri Dattatreya took the above arrow-maker as one of his gurus.
Arjuna had wonderful concentration. He learnt the science of archery from Dronacharya. A dead bird was tied to a post in such a way that its reflection was cast in a basin of water right beneath on the ground. Arjuna saw the reflection of the bird in the basin of water and aimed successfully in hitting the right eye of the actual bird tied to the post above.
This is concentration. To attain concentration you should drive off all useless thoughts of the world. You must be entirely free from all base desires of a worldly nature. You should substitute divine thoughts in their stead. Right conduct, postures, pranayama and abstraction from sensual objects will pave the way to achieving rapid success in concentration. Concentration is required not only in the spiritual path, but also in every walk of life. A man without concentration is a failure in life.
The practice of concentration and the practice of pranayama are interdependent. If you practise pranayama you will get concentration. He who has a steady posture and has purified his nerves and the vital sheath by the constant practice of pranayama will be able to concentrate easily. Natural pranayama follows the practice of concentration.
There are different practices according to different temperaments. For some the practice of pranayama will be easy to start with, for others the practice of concentration will be easy to begin with. Concentration will be intense if you remove all distractions. A true celibate who has preserved his energy will have wonderful concentration.
Meditation follows concentration. Samadhi follows meditation. The state of being liberated while living follows the attainment of nirvikalpa samadhi, which is free from all thoughts of duality. It leads to emancipation from the wheel of birth and death. Therefore, concentration is the first and foremost thing an aspirant should acquire on the spiritual path.
The mind is compared in the Hindu scriptures to a lake or ocean. The thoughts arising from the mind are compared to the waves of the ocean. You can see your reflection clearly on the water of the ocean only when all the waves on the surface subside completely and become still. So also, you can realise the Self, the Light of lights, only when all the thought-waves in the mind-lake are stilled.
Benefits of Concentration
The sum total of the pleasures of the whole world is nothing when compared to the bliss derived through concentration and meditation. Do not give up the practice of concentration at any cost. Plod on. Have patience, perseverance, cheerfulness, tenacity and application. You will eventually succeed. Do not despair.
For a neophyte the practice of concentration is disgusting and tiring in the beginning. He has to cut new grooves in the mind and brain. After some months he will get great interest in concentration. He will enjoy a new kind of happiness, the bliss of concentration. He will become restless if he fails to enjoy this new kind of happiness even for one day. Concentration is the only way to get rid of worldly miseries and tribulations. Your only duty is to practise concentration. You have taken this physical body to practise concentration and through concentration to realise the Self. Charity and the greatest sacrificial ceremonies are nothing when compared with concentration. They are playthings only.
Through dispassion, pratyahara and the practice of concentration the dissipated rays of the wandering mind are slowly collected. Through steady practice it is rendered one-pointed. How happy and strong is that yogi who has a one-pointed mind! He can turn out voluminous work in the twinkling of an eye.
When the rays of the mind are scattered over diverse objects, you get pain. When the rays are gathered and collected by practice, the mind becomes concentrated and you get bliss from within.
When you see your dear friend after six years, the happiness that you get is not from the person but from within yourself. The mind becomes concentrated for the time being and you get happiness from within your own self.
Concentration is the only way to get rid of worldly miseries and tribulations. The practitioner will have very good health and a cheerful mental vision. He can get a penetrative insight. He can do any work with greater efficiency. Concentration purifies and calms the surging emotions, strengthens the current of thought and clarifies the ideas. Purify the mind first through yama and niyama. Concentration without purity is of no use.
When there is faith the mind can easily be concentrated on the subject to be understood and then the understanding quickly follows.
If you read with concentration the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana or the eleventh skandha of Bhagavatam several times, you will get new ideas each time. Through concentration you will get penetrative insight. Subtle esoteric meanings will flash out in the field of mental consciousness. You will understand the inner depths of philosophical significance.
By manipulating the mind you will be able to bring it under your control, make it work as you like and compel it to concentrate its powers as you desire. If you practise concentration for three hours daily you will have tremendous psychic power. You will have a strong will power.
If there is an inflammatory swelling on your back with throbbing pain you do not experience any pain at night when you are asleep. Only when the mind is connected with the diseased part through nerves and thinking do you begin to experience pain. If you can consciously withdraw the mind from the diseased part by concentrating it on God or any other attractive object you will not experience any pain even when you are wide awake. If you have a powerful will and strong power of endurance, then also you will not experience any pain. By constant thinking of any trouble or disease you only augment your pain and suffering. Whenever there is pain in the body, practise concentration on your tutelary deity or study some philosophical books. The pain will vanish.
When there is deep concentration you will experience great joy and spiritual intoxication. You will forget the body and the surroundings. All the prana will be taken up to your head.
Concentrate. Meditate. Develop the powers of deep thinking and concentrated thinking. Many obscure points will be rendered quite clear. You will get answers and solutions from within.
As mind evolves you come into conscious relation with the mental currents of the minds of others, near and distant, living and dead.
You press the button and the light flashes out from the torch in the twinkling of an eye. Even so, the yogi concentrates and presses the button at the chakra — the centre between the two eyebrows — and the divine light flashes out immediately.
Concentration in Daily Life
A well-trained mind can be fixed at will upon any object, either inside or outside, to the exclusion of all other thoughts. Everybody possesses some ability to concentrate in some way. A man with an appreciable degree of concentration has more earning capacity and turns out more work in a shorter time. But, for spiritual progress concentration should be developed to a very high degree. In concentration there should be no strain on the brain. You should not fight or wrestle with the mind.
A scientist concentrates his mind and invents many things. Through concentration he opens the layers of the gross mind and penetrates deeply into higher regions of the mind and gets deeper knowledge. He concentrates all the energies of his mind into one focus and throws them out upon the materials he is analysing and so finds out their secrets.
This law is equally applicable to man in all branches of his life's activities. With the utmost concentrated and careful attention the surgeon executes minute operations. The deepest absorption marks the state of the technician, the engineer, architect or the expert painter engaged in drawing the minute details of a plan, chart or sketch, where accuracy is of paramount importance. Similar concentration is displayed by the skilled Swiss workmen who fashion the delicate parts of watches and other scientific instruments. Thus in every art and science. This is specially so in the spiritual line where the aspirant has to deal with forces internal.
Napoleon also had remarkable power of concentration. It is said that he had full control over his thoughts. He could draw one thought from a pigeon hole of his brain, dwell on that single thought as long as he liked and then shove it back into that pigeon hole. He had a peculiar brain with peculiar pigeon-holes!
Fix your mind on the work at hand. Give your complete heart and soul to it, if it be even a small work like peeling off the skin of a plantain fruit or squeezing a lemon. Never do anything haphazardly. Never take your meals in haste. Be calm and patient in all your actions. Never arrive at hasty conclusions. Never do a thing in haste. No work can be done successfully without calmness and concentration. Those who have attained success and become great have all possessed this indispensable virtue.
You must know very well the science of relaxation of the mind. You must be able to eliminate all other thoughts from the mind. You must think of rest only. You should consider yourself as if you were dead. Mentally repeat the names of the Lord and think of the ananda (bliss) aspect of His attributes. You will not have dreams. You will rest in blissful sleep. You will be refreshed very easily. Even if you sleep for two hours you will feel quite refreshed.
If you can always do your work with perfect attention and concentration you will be successful in every attempt. You will never meet with failure. When you sit for prayers and meditation, never think of your office work. When you work in the office never think of the child who is sick or any other household work. When you take bath do not think of games. When you sit for meals do not think of the work that is pending in the office. You must train yourself to attend to the work on hand with perfect one-pointedness. You can easily develop your will-power and memory. Concentration is the master key to open the gates of victory. If an ordinary man takes one hour to do a work, a man of good concentration will accomplish it in half an hour with better efficiency than the former. You will become a mighty man.
He who has learnt to manipulate the mind will get the whole of nature under control.
Find out by serious introspection the various impediments that act as stumbling blocks in your concentration, and remove them with effort, one by one. Do not allow new thoughts and desires to crop up. Nip them in the bud through discrimination, enquiry, concentration and meditation.
Some foolish impatient students take to concentration at once without undergoing, in any manner, any preliminary training in ethics. This is a serious blunder. Ethical perfection is a matter of paramount importance.
Concentration without purity of mind is of no avail. There are some occultists who have concentration, but they do not have good character. That is the reason why they do not make any progress in the spiritual line.
Purify the mind first through the practice of right conduct and then take to the practice of concentration. Even if you do a little practise the effect is there. Nothing is lost. That is the immutable law of nature. You will not be able to detect the little improvement that has come out of a little practise, as you have no subtle and pure intellect. You must develop the virtues of dispassion, patience and perseverance to a maximum degree. You must have an unshakable conviction in the existence of God and in the efficacy of spiritual practices. You must have a strong determination: 'I will realise God right now in this very birth, nay in this very second. I will realise or die.'
Worldly pleasures intensify the desire for enjoying greater pleasures. Hence the mind of worldlings is very restless. There is no satisfaction and mental peace. Mind can never be satisfied, whatever amount of pleasure you may store up for it. The more it enjoys the pleasures the more it wants them. So people are exceedingly troubled and bothered by their own minds. They are tired of their minds. Hence, in order to remove these botherations and troubles the rishis thought it best to deprive the mind of all sensual pleasures.
The more the mind is fixed on God, the more strength you will acquire. More concentration means more energy. Concentration opens the inner chambers of love or the realm of eternity. Concentration is a source of spiritual strength. Concentration is the sole key for opening the chamber of knowledge. When the mind has been concentrated or made extinct it cannot pinch one to seek for further pleasure, all botherations and troubles are removed forever and the person attains real peace.
A Hard Task
There are various kinds of impurities in the mind. It takes a long time for purification of the mind and to get a one-pointed mind. Concentration is a question of practice for several lives, it is the most difficult thing in the world. One should not get dejected after practising for some months or one or two years. You should have patience, adamantine will and untiring persistence. You must be very regular in your practices, otherwise laziness and adverse forces will take you away from your goal.
An impatient man cannot practise concentration. He gets up from his seat within a few seconds, and he gives up the practice within a week or month. Concentration demands asinine patience for it is very disgusting and tiring in the beginning because you have to take the mental current upwards, like taking the Ganges water up to Badrinarayan. Later on it bestows infinite peace and bliss.
A bird tried to empty the ocean with a blade of grass. A doctor who discovered M & B 693 tablets made experiments of combinations 693 times. You must have patience like the bird and the doctor; then alone will you succeed in yoga.
Some medical students leave the medical college soon after joining it, as they find it disgusting to wash the pus in ulcers and dissect the dead bodies. They make a serious blunder. In the beginning it is loathsome. After studying pathology, medicine, operative surgery, morbid anatomy and bacteriology, the course will be very interesting in the final year. Many spiritual aspirants leave off the practice of concentration of mind after some time, as they find it difficult to practise. They make a grave mistake, like the medical students. In the beginning of the practice, when you struggle to get over body-consciousness, it will be disgusting and troublesome. It will be a physical wrestling. The emotions and thoughts (sankalpas) will be abundant. In the third year of practice the mind will be cool, pure and strong. You will derive immense joy.
Collect the rays of the mind. Just as you will have to take back with care your cloth that is fallen on a thorny plant by slowly removing the thorns one by one, so also you will have to collect back with care and exertion the dissipated rays of the mind that have been thrown over the sensual objects for very many years.
Building castles in the air is not concentration. It is wild jumping of the mind in the air. Do not mistake it for concentration or meditation. Check the habit of the mind through introspection and self-analysis.
If you are careless, if you are irregular in concentration, if your dispassion wanes, if you give up the practice for some days on account of laziness, the adverse forces will take you away from the true path of yoga. You will be stranded. It will be difficult for you to rise up again to the original height. Therefore be regular in concentration.
If the aspirant pursues what is not fitting, his progress will be painful and sluggish. He who pursues the right path gets easy progress and quick intuition. He who has no past conditioning or spiritual tendencies of previous births makes painful progress. One who has spiritual tendencies makes easy progress. In one whose nature is actually corrupt and whose controlling faculties are weak, progress is painful and intuition is sluggish, but to one of keen controlling faculties, progress is rapid and intuition is quick. In one overcome by ignorance, intuition is sluggish; in one not so overcome, intuition is rapid.
Those who practise concentration off and on will have a steady mind only occasionally. Sometimes the mind will begin to wander and will be quite unfit for application. You must have a mind that will obey you at all times sincerely, and carry out all your commands in the best possible manner at any time. Steady and systematic practice of raja yoga will make the mind very obedient and faithful. When you concentrate on any object do not wrestle with the mind. Avoid tension anywhere in the body or mind. Think gently of the object in a continuous manner. Do not allow the mind to wander away.