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'''Related topics:''' [[Mental Education]] | [[Meditation]] | [[Yogic Concentration]] | [[Difference between Concentration and Meditation]] | [[Thinking with ideas]] | [[Knowledge by idenitity]]
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Read more about '''[[Concentration Compilation|Concentration]]''' from the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
 
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== What is Concentration ==
  
[[File:Concentration.png|1000px]]
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Concentration means gathering of all the scattered movements of consciousness into a single point, place, object, thought, idea, condition, state or movement. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/03/appendix-to-questions-and-answers-1929#p9</ref> <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/04/23-december-1950#p7</ref> <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/29/concentration-and-meditation#p3 </ref>
  
=Watach a 2-minute video=
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Concentration is an active state. One may concentrate mentally, one may concentrate vitally, psychically, physically, and one may concentrate integrally. Concentration or the capacity to gather oneself at one point is more difficult than meditation. One may gather together one portion of one's being or consciousness or one may gather together the whole of one's consciousness or even fragments of it, that is, the concentration may be partial, total or integral, and in each case the result will be different. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/04/25-december-1950#p12</ref>
  
This video clip is from Peter Brook's Mahabharata.
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Concentration is not only an intellectual thing, it may be found in all the activities of the being, including bodily activities. The control over the nerves should be such as would allow one a complete concentration on what one is doing and, through the very intensity of one's concentration, one acquires an immediate response to external touches. To attain this concentration one needs a conscious control of the energies. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/04/23-december-1950#p1 </ref>
Time: 38.40s to 40.43s
 
The full movie can be found here:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhqkRGISQr8&t=1458s
 
  
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== Why Concentration is Important?==
  
[[File:MahabharataConcentration.jpg]]
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Without concentration one cannot achieve anything. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/12/study#p71</ref>
  
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There is nothing in the human or even in the superhuman field, to which the power of concentration is not the key. One can be the best athlete, one can be the best student, one can be an artistic, literary or scientific genius, one can be the greatest saint with that faculty. And everyone has in himself a tiny little beginning of it—it is given to everybody, but people do not cultivate it.<ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/09/23-july-1958#p18 </ref>
  
=What is Concentration?=
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The ability of concentration is one of the greatest powers of the human mentality. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/21/the-divine-and-the-undivine#p16</ref> Whatever one may want to do in life, one thing is absolutely indispensable and at the basis of everything, the capacity of concentrating the attention. If one is able to gather together the rays of attention and consciousness on one point and can maintain this concentration with a persistent will, nothing can resist it—whatever it may be, from the most material physical development to the highest spiritual one.  <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/09/23-july-1958#p15</ref>
  
Concentration means fixing the consciousness in one place or on one object and in a single condition.
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Concentration is necessary to gather the whole will and mind from the natural distractions. Left to themselves, they follow the normal dispersive movement of thoughts running after many-branching desires led away by outward sensory contacts. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/23/the-higher-and-the-lower-knowledge#p7</ref>
<ref>Sri Aurobindo. cwsa/29/concentration-and-meditation</ref>
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The mind is a thing that dwells in diffusion, in succession; it can only concentrate on one thing at a time and when not concentrated runs from one thing to another very much at random. Therefore it has to concentrate on a single idea, a single subject of meditation, a single object of contemplation, a single object of will in order to possess or master it, and this it must do to at least the temporary exclusion of all others. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/23/concentration#p7</ref>
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In concentration proper there is not a series of thoughts, but the mind is silently fixed on one object, name, idea, place etc.
 
<ref>Sri Aurobindo. (2015). The Synthetic Method of the Integral Yoga. In Letters on yoga II. Retrieved from http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/29/concentration-and-meditation</ref>
 
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Not thinking at all is not easy; but if one wants a perfect concentration it is essential that there are no thoughts any more.
 
<ref>The Mother. cwm/07/24-august-1955</ref>
 
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It is to bring back all the scattered threads of consciousness to a single point, a single idea. <ref>The Mother. (1972). Questions and answers, 1950-1951. In Collected Works of the Mother Volume 4 (p. 5).</ref>
 
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Concentration, for our Yoga, means when the consciousness is fixed in a particular state (e.g. peace) or movement (e.g. aspiration, will, coming into contact with the Mother, taking the Mother’s name); <ref>Sri Aurobindo. (2015). The Synthetic Method of the Integral Yoga. In Letters on yoga II.</ref> (See '''[[Yogic Concentration]]''')
 
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Concentration is a state one must be in continually, whatever the outer activity.<ref>The Mother. (1979). Letters to a Young Sadhak VI (1933-1949). In Collected works of the Mother Volume 16. Retrieved from http://incarnateword.in/cwm/16/letters-to-a-young-sadhak-vi</ref>
 
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=Why Should One Learn to Concentrate?=
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== How to Cultivate Concentration? ==
  
...whatever you may want to do in life, one thing is absolutely indispensable and at the basis of everything, the capacity of concentrating the attention. If you are able to gather together the rays of attention and consciousness on one point and can maintain this concentration with a persistent will, nothing can resist it —whatever it may be, from the most material physical development to the highest spiritual one.
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The faculty of concentrated attention can be developed scientifically by a methodical training the same way as an athlete develops methodically his muscles. The power of concentration can be developed in such a way that concentration is obtained at will and on whatever subject or activity is chosen. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/12/concentration-and-dispersion#p5 </ref>
  
There is no spiritual obstacle which can resist a penetrating power of concentration. For instance, the discovery of the psychic being, union with the inner Divine, opening to the higher spheres, all can be obtained by an intense and obstinate power of concentration —but one must learn how to do it.
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When one has a problem and one is looking for a solution, if it does not come, it is because of a kind of haziness in the brain, something cloudy, like a fog somewhere. Concentration consists precisely in removing the cloud. One can gather together all the elements of one's intelligence and fix them on one point, and then do not even try actively to find the thing. All that one should do is to concentrate in such a way as to see only the problem—but seeing not only its surface, seeing it in its depth, what it conceals. If one is able to gather together one's all mental energies, bringing them to a point which is fixed on the enunciation of the problem, and stay there, fixed, as though, to drill a hole in the wall, all of a sudden it will come. And this is the only way. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/05/24-june-1953#p51 </ref>
  
There is nothing in the human or even in the superhuman field, to which the power of concentration is not the key.
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While engaging in work, one must become what one is doing and not remain a small person looking at himself doing it; for if one looks at oneself acting, one is still in complicity with the ego. It is through concentrated attention that one can do things quickly and one does them much better. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/04/26-april-1951#p33 </ref>
  
You can be the best athlete, you can be the best student, you can be an artistic, literary or scientific genius, you can be the greatest saint with that faculty. And everyone has in himself a tiny little beginning of it —it is given to everybody, but people do not cultivate it.
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When one wants to realise something, one makes quite spontaneously the necessary effort; this concentrates one's energies on the thing to be realised and that gives a meaning to one's life. This compels one to a sort of organisation of oneself, a sort of concentration of one's energies because it is this that one wishes to do and not fifty other things which contradict it. And it is in this concentration, this intensity of the will, that lies the origin of joy. This gives the power to receive energies in exchange for those spent. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/04/13-january-1951#p15</ref>
<ref>The Mother. (1998). Questions and Answers 1957-1958, Vol. 9 (pp. 360-361).</ref>
 
  
Those who can attain perfect attention succeed in everything they undertake; they will always make a rapid progress.<ref>The Mother. (1972). Questions and answers, 1950-1951. In Collected Works of the Mother Volume 4 (p. 5).</ref>
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== Concentration in Integral Yoga ==
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It is well known that the value of a man is in proportion to his capacity of concentrated attention; the greater the concentration the more exceptional is the result, to the extent that a perfect and unfailing concentrated attention sets the stamp of genius on what is produced. <ref>The Mother. (1949). Concentration and Dispersion. In On Education (Collected Works of the Mother Volume 12). Retrieved from http://incarnateword.in/cwm/12/concentration-and-dispersion</ref>
 
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The movement that stores up and concentrates is no less needed than the movement that spreads and diffuses.
 
  
''13 April 1935''
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Concentration does not mean meditation; on the contrary, concentration is a state one must be in continuously, whatever the outer activity. It means that all the energy, all the will, all the aspiration must be turned only towards the Divine and His integral realisation in our consciousness. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/16/letters-to-a-young-sadhak-vi#p2 </ref>
<ref>The Mother. cwm/14/concentration</ref>
 
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Concentration does not aim for any effect, but is simple and persistent.
 
  
Concentration on a precise goal is helpful to development.
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Yogic concentration is an extension and intensification of the normal power of concentration to realise the object of yoga which is the integral union with the Divine. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/29/concentration-and-meditation#p45</ref> Concentration is indeed the first condition of any Yoga, but it is an all-receiving concentration that is the very nature of the integral Yoga. A wide massive opening, a harmonised concentration of the whole being in all its parts and through all its powers upon the Divine is the larger action of this Yoga without which it cannot achieve its purpose. This wide and concentrated totality is the essential character of the Sadhana. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/23/self-consecration#p15</ref>
  
The more we concentrate on the goal, the more it blossoms forth and becomes precise.
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An all-receiving concentration which is open to all that exists; it is a concentration which does not oppose anything. It is a concentration which is open. It means that one must not reject certain things from himself and practise an exclusive concentration on a particular point while neglecting all the others. All the possibilities should be admitted and pursued. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/07/28-december-1955#p1 </ref>
  
The Yogi knows by his capacity for a containing or dynamic identity with things and persons and forces.
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Concentration in the heart is one method, concentration in the head (or above) is another; both are included in this Yoga and one has to do whichever one finds easiest and most natural. The object of the concentration in the heart is to open the centre there (heart-lotus), to feel the presence of the Divine Mother in the heart and to become aware of one's soul or psychic being which is a portion of the Divine. The object of the concentration in the head is to rise to the Divine Consciousness and bring down the Light of the Mother or her Force or Ananda into all the centres. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/29/mantra-and-japa#p17 </ref>
  
''11 April 1935''
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There must be a large, many-sided yet single concentration of the thought on the idea, the perception, the vision, the awakening touch, the soul's realisation of the one Divine. There must be a flaming concentration of the heart on the seeking of the All and Eternal and, when once we have found him, a deep plunging and immersion in the possession and ecstasy of the All-Beautiful. There must be a strong and immovable concentration of the will on the attainment and fulfillment of all that the Divine is and a free and plastic opening of it to all that he intends to manifest in us. This is the triple way of the Yoga. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/23/self-consecration#p18</ref>
<ref>The Mother. cwm/14/concentration</ref>
 
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Nothing is impossible for one who is attentive.
 
  
It is said that the faculty of concentrated attention is at the source of all successful activity. Indeed the capacity and value of a man can be measured by his capacity of concentrated attention.
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'''Content curated by Manoj Pavitran and Divyanshi Chugh'''
<ref>The Mother. cwm/14/concentration</ref>
 
  
==Three Powers of Concentration==
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Concentration has three powers...
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Read more about '''[[Concentration Compilation|Concentration]]''' from the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.  
* By concentration on anything whatsoever we are able to know that thing, to make it deliver up its concealed secrets; we must use this power to know not things, but the one Thing-in-itself.
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* By concentration again the whole will can be gathered up for the acquisition of that which is still ungrasped, still beyond us; this power, if it is sufficiently trained, sufficiently single-minded, sufficiently sincere, sure of itself, faithful to itself alone, absolute in faith, we can use for the acquisition of any object whatsoever; but we ought to use it not for the acquisition of the many objects which the world offers to us, but to grasp spiritually that one object worthy of pursuit which is also the one subject worthy of knowledge.
 
* By concentration of our whole being on one status of itself, we can become whatever we choose; we can become, for instance, even if we were before a mass of weaknesses and fear, a mass instead of strength and courage, or we can become all a great purity, holiness and peace or a single universal soul of Love; but we ought, it is said, to use this power to become not even these things, high as they may be in comparison with what we now are, but rather to become that which is above all things and free from all action and attributes, the pure and absolute Being. All else, all other concentration can only be valuable for preparation, for previous steps, for a gradual training of the dissolute and self-dissipating thought, will and being towards their grand and unique object. <ref>Sri Aurobindo. sabcl/20/concentration</ref>
 
 
 
=How to Develop Concentration=
 
 
 
...you should concentrate on what you want to develop, not on what you want to destroy.<ref>The Mother. cwm/17/23-june-1935</ref>
 
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To solve a problem, to learn a lesson, a lot of concentration and attention is needed, everyone knows that—an intellectual attention and concentration. But concentration is not only an intellectual thing, it may be found in all the activities of the being, including bodily activities. The control over the nerves should be such as would allow you a complete concentration on what you are doing and, through the very intensity of your concentration, you acquire an immediate response to external touches. To attain this concentration you need a conscious control of the '''[[Energy|energies]]'''.
 
<ref>The Mother. cwm/04/23-december-1950</ref>
 
 
 
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Concentration is a more active state. You may concentrate mentally, you may concentrate vitally, psychically, physically, and you may concentrate integrally. Concentration or the capacity to gather oneself at one point is more difficult than meditation. You may gather together one portion of your being or consciousness or you may gather together the whole of your consciousness or even fragments of it, that is, the concentration may be partial, total or integral, and in each case the result will be different.
 
 
 
If you have the capacity to concentrate, your meditation will be more interesting and easier. But one can meditate without concentrating. Many follow a chain of ideas in their meditation—it is meditation, not concentration.
 
<ref>The Mother. cwm/04/25-december-1950</ref>
 
 
 
And this kind of concentration can be developed exactly like the muscles; one may follow different systems, different methods of training. Today we know that the most pitiful weakling, for example, can with discipline become as strong as anyone else. One should not have a will which flickers out like a candle.
 
 
 
The will, concentration must be cultivated; it is a question of method, of regular exercise. If you will, you can.
 
<ref>The Mother. (1972). Questions and answers, 1950-1951. In Collected Works of the Mother Volume 4 (p. 5).</ref>
 
 
 
Through regular, persevering, obstinate, unflagging exercise —I mean exercise of concentration and will.
 
<ref>The Mother. (1972). On Education. In Collected works of the Mother Volume 12 (p. 398). Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram.</ref>
 
 
 
In order to obtain this concentration, it is generally recommended to reduce one’s activities, to make a choice and confine oneself to this choice alone, so as not to disperse one’s energy and attention. For the normal man, this method is good, sometimes even indispensable. But one can imagine something better.
 
<ref>The Mother. cwm/14/concentration</ref>
 
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''Sweet Mother, when you say, “Concentrate in the heart”, does it mean concentrate with the mind?''
 
 
 
The consciousness, not the mind, the '''[[Consciousness|consciousness]]'''!
 
 
 
I don’t say think in the heart, I say concentrate, concentrate the energy, concentrate the consciousness, concentrate the aspiration, concentrate the will. ''Concentrate''. One can have an extremely intense concentration without a single thought, and in fact it is usually much more intense when one doesn’t think.
 
<ref>The Mother. cwm/07/27-july-1955</ref>
 
 
 
==Practicing Meditation on a Sentence==
 
 
 
''Mother, in the Friday Classes, you often read a sentence1 to us and ask us to meditate on it. But how should we meditate on a sentence? That is, should we think, meditate on the idea or… what should we do?''
 
 
 
Meditate on a sentence?
 
 
 
''Yes.''
 
 
 
Obviously on what it means.
 
 
 
''That is, we must think…''
 
 
 
Yes. Then?
 
 
 
''Because that, Mother, becomes a mental function or what?''
 
 
 
The sentence is already a mental formation; the mental formation is made. The sentence is the expression of the mental formation. So when you meditate on a sentence, there are two methods. There is an active, ordinary external method of reflecting and trying to understand what these words mean, understand intellectually what the sentence means exactly—that is active meditation. You concentrate on these few words and take the thought they express and try, through reasoning, deduction, analysis, to understand what it means.
 
 
 
There is another method, more direct and deep; it is to take this mental formation, this combination of words with the thought they represent, and to gather all your energy of attention on it, compelling yourself to concentrate all your strength on that formation. For instance, instead of concentrating all your energies on something you see physically, you take that thought and concentrate all your energies on that thought—in the mind, of course.
 
 
 
And then, if you are able to concentrate the thought sufficiently and stop it from vacillating, you pass quite naturally from the thought expressed by the words to the idea which is behind and which could be expressed in other words, other forms. The characteristic of the idea is the power to clothe itself in many different thoughts. And when you have achieved this, you have already gone much deeper than by merely understanding the words. Naturally, if you continue to concentrate and know how to do it, you can pass from the idea to the luminous force that is behind. Then you enter a much vaster and deeper domain. But that asks for some training. But still, that is the very principle of meditation.
 
 
 
If you are able to go deep enough, you find the Principle and the Force behind the idea, and that gives you the power of realisation. This is how those who take meditation as a means of spiritual development are able to unite with the Principle which is behind things and obtain the power to act on these things from above.
 
 
 
But even without going so far—that implies a rather hard discipline, doesn’t it, a long-standing habit—you can pass quite easily from the thought to the idea, and that gives you a light and an understanding in the mind which enables you, in your turn, to express the idea in any form. An idea can be expressed in many different forms, in many different thoughts, just as when you come down to a more material level, a thought can be expressed through many different words. Going downwards, towards expression, that is, spoken or written expression, there are many different words and different formulas which may serve to express a thought, but this thought is only one of the forms of thought which can express the idea, the idea behind, and this idea itself, if it is followed deeply, has behind it a principle of spiritual knowledge and power which can then spread and act on the manifestation.
 
 
 
When you have a thought you look for words, don’t you, and then you try to arrange these words to express your thought; you can use many words to express a thought, you tell yourself, “No, look, if I put this word instead of that, it would express what I am thinking much better.” That is what you learn when you are taught style, how to write.
 
 
 
But when I give you a written sentence which has the power to express a thought and tell you to concentrate on it, then, through this thought-form you can go back to the idea behind, which can be expressed in many different thoughts. It is like a great hierarchy: there is a Principle right at the top, which itself is not the only one, for you can go still higher up; but this Principle can be expressed in ideas, and these ideas can be expressed in a great number of thoughts and this great number of thoughts can make use of many languages and an even greater number of words.
 
 
 
When I give you a thought it is simply to help you to concentrate…. There are schools which put an object in front of you, a flower or a stone, or any object, and then you sit around it and concentrate on it and your eyes go like this (Mother squints) until you become the object. That too is a method of concentration. By gazing steadily like that, without moving, you finally pass into the thing you are gazing at. But you must not begin to gaze at all kinds of things: only gaze steadily at that. That gives you a look… it makes you squint.
 
 
 
All this is to learn concentration, that’s all.
 
 
 
Sometimes one of these sentences expresses a very deep truth. It is one of those happy sentences which are very expressive. So that helps you to find the truth that is behind.
 
<Ref>The Mother. (1972). Questions and Answers 1957-1958. In Collected works of the Mother(pp. 381-383). Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram.</ref>
 
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==Concentration on an Idea==
 
 
 
If one concentrates on a thought or a word, one has to dwell on the essential idea contained in the word with the aspiration to feel the thing which it expresses.<ref>Sri Aurobindo. cwsa/29/concentration-and-meditation</ref>
 
 
 
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Now, there is the form of meditation which consists in a concentration on an idea and concentrating one’s attention upon it to the extent that that alone exists; then this is the equivalent of a concentration, but instead of being total it is only mental.
 
<ref>The Mother. cwm/07/24-august-1955</ref>
 
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See also: '''[[Thinking with ideas]]'''
 
 
 
==Concentrated [[Meditation]]==
 
 
 
The first step in concentration must be always to accustom the discursive mind to a settled unwavering pursuit of a single course of connected thought on a single subject and this it must do undistracted by all lures and alien calls on its attention. Such concentration is common enough in our ordinary life, but it becomes more difficult when we have to do it inwardly without any outward object or action on which to keep the mind; yet this inward concentration is what the seeker of knowledge must effect.
 
 
 
Nor must it be merely the consecutive thought of the intellectual thinker, whose only object is to conceive and intellectually link together his conceptions. It is not, except perhaps at first, a process of reasoning that is wanted so much as a dwelling so far as possible on the fruitful essence of the idea which by the insistence of the soul’s will upon it must yield up all the facets of its truth.
 
 
 
Thus if it be the divine Love that is the subject of concentration, it is on the essence of the idea of God as Love that the mind should concentrate in such a way that the various manifestation of the divine Love should arise luminously, not only to the thought, but in the heart and being and vision of the Sadhaka.
 
 
 
The thought may come first and the experience afterwards, but equally the experience may come first and the knowledge arise out of the experience.
 
 
 
Afterwards the thing attained has to be dwelt on and more and more held till it becomes a constant experience and finally the Dharma or law of the being.
 
 
 
This is the process of concentrated [[meditation]];
 
<ref>Sri Aurobindo. sabcl/20/concentration</ref>
 
 
 
==Concentration using Objects==
 
There are schools which put an object in front of you, a flower or a stone, or any object, and then you sit around it and concentrate on it and your eyes go like this (Mother squints) until you become the object. That too is a method of concentration. By gazing steadily like that, without moving, you finally pass into the thing you are gazing at. But you must not begin to gaze at all kinds of things: only gaze steadily at that. That gives you a look... it makes you squint.
 
<Ref>The Mother. (1972). Questions and Answers 1957-1958. In Collected works of the Mother(pp. 381-383). Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram.</ref>
 
 
 
==Concentration on a Photo==
 
'''''Sweet Mother, when we concentrate on one of your photos—there are many photos, each one with a different expression—does it make a difference for us, the one on which we concentrate?'''''
 
 
 
If you do it purposely, yes, of course. If you choose this photo for a particular reason or that other one for another reason, surely. It has an effect. It is as though you were choosing to concentrate on one aspect of the Mother rather than another; for example, if you choose to concentrate on Mahakali or Mahalakshmi or on Maheshwari, the results will be different. That part of you which answers to these qualities will awaken and become receptive. So, it is the same thing. But somebody who has only one photo, whichever it may be, and concentrates, without choosing this one or that, because he has only one, then it is of no importance which one it is. For the fact of concentrating on the photograph puts one in contact with the Force, and that is what is necessary in the case of everyone who responds automatically.
 
 
 
It is only when the person who concentrates puts a special will, with a special relation, into his concentration that it has an effect. Otherwise the relation is more general, and it is always the expression of the need or the aspiration of the person who concentrates. If he is absolutely neutral, if he does not choose, does not aspire for any particular thing, if he comes like this, like a white page and absolutely neutral, then it is the forces and aspects he needs which will answer to the concentration and perhaps even the person himself will not know what particular things he needs, because very few people are conscious of themselves. They live in a vague feeling, they have a vague aspiration and it is almost unseizable; it is not something organised, coordinated and willed, with a clear vision, for example, of the difficulties one wants to overcome or the capacities one wants to acquire; this, usually, is already the result of a fairly advanced discipline. One must have reflected much, observed much, studied much in order to be able to know exactly what he needs. Otherwise it is something hazy, this impression: one tries to catch it and it escapes… Isn’t that so?
 
<ref>The Mother. cwm/07/24-august-1955</ref>
 
 
 
=Total Concentration=
 
Total concentration implies a concentration also of all the movements of the vital and physical. The method of gazing at a point is a very well-known one. So it is even physical, you see, one’s eyes are fixed on this point, and one does not move any more… nothing more… one sees nothing, doesn’t move his sight from that point, and the result usually is that one ends up by becoming that point. And I knew someone who used to say that one had to pass beyond the point, become this point, to the extent of passing to the other side, crossing the point, and that then one opened to higher regions. But it is true that if one succeeds in concentrating totally on a point, there is a moment when the identification is absolute, and there is no more any separation between the one who is concentrating and the thing upon which he is concentrated. There is a complete identification. One can’t distinguish between himself and the point. This is a total concentration, while meditation is a particular concentration of the thought, a partial one.
 
<ref>The Mother. cwm/07/24-august-1955</ref>
 
 
 
=Concentration Opens Oneself to the Universal Energy=
 
 
 
''Is it possible to distinguish the moment when one attains perfect concentration from the moment when, starting from this concentration, one opens oneself to the universal '''[[Energy]]?'''
 
 
 
Yes. You concentrate on something or simply you gather yourself together as much as is possible for you and when you attain a kind of perfection in concentration, if you can sustain this perfection for a sufficiently long time, then a door opens and you pass beyond the limit of your ordinary consciousness—you enter into a deeper and higher knowledge. Or you go within. Then you may experience a kind of dazzling light, an inner wonder, a beatitude, a complete knowledge, a total silence. There are, of course, many possibilities but the phenomenon is always the same.
 
 
 
To have this experience all depends upon your capacity to maintain your concentration sufficiently long at its highest point of perfection.
 
 
 
''To have this experience is it necessary to concentrate every time?''
 
 
 
In the beginning, yes, for you have not the capacity to keep what you have acquired, to maintain your concentration at its maximum—you slip back and lose even the memory of the experience you have had. But if you once follow a path, it is easier to follow the same path a second time and so on. The second concentration is therefore easier than the first one. You must persevere in your concentration till you come to the point when you no longer lose the inner contact.
 
 
 
From that time onward you must remain in this inner and higher consciousness from where you can do everything. You see your body and the material world and you know what is to be done and how to do it.
 
 
 
That is the first aim of concentration, but naturally not the last.
 
 
 
To attain that concentration much effort is necessary; an immediate or even a quick result is rarely possible. But if the inner door has once been opened, you may be sure that it will open again if you know how to persevere.
 
 
 
As long as the door has not been opened, you may doubt your capacity, but once opened, no more doubt is possible, if you go on willing and aspiring.
 
 
 
This experience has a considerable value.
 
<ref>The Mother. cwm/04/25-december-1950</ref>
 
 
 
==Concentration and Dispersion==
 
 
 
''Bulletin of April 1949 written by The Mother for Sri Aurobindo Ashram Department of Physical Education''
 
 
 
In sporting activities those who want to be successful choose a certain line or subject which appeals more to the and suits their nature; they concentrate on their choice and take great care not to disperse their energies in different directions. As in life a man chooses his career and concentrates all his attention upon it, so the sportsman chooses a special activity and concentrates all his efforts to achieve as much perfection as he can in this line. This perfection comes usually by a building up of spontaneous reflex which is the result of constant repetition of the same movements. But this spontaneous reflex can be, with advantage, replaced by the faculty of concentrated attention. This faculty of concentration belongs not only to the intellectual but to all activities and is obtained by the conscious control of the energies.
 
It is well known that the value of a man is in proportion to his capacity of concentrated attention, the greater the concentration the more exceptional is the result, to the extent that a perfect and unfailing concentrated attention sets the stamp of genius on what is produced. There can be genius in sports as in any other human activity.
 
 
 
Shall we then advise a limit to one action in order to achieve perfection in concentration?
 
 
 
The advantages of limitation are well known, but it has also its inconvenience, bringing narrowness and incapacity for any other line than the one chosen. This is contrary to the ideal of a perfectly developed and harmonised human being. How to conciliate these two contrary tendencies?
 
 
 
There seems to be only one solution to the problem. In the same way as an athlete develops methodically his muscles by a scientific and gradual training, the faculty of concentrated attention can be developed scientifically by a methodical training—developed in such a way that concentration is obtained at will and on whatever subject or activity is chosen. Thus the work of preparation instead of being done in the subconscient by a slow and steady repetition of the same movements, is done consciously by a concentration of will and a gathered attention centred on one point or another according to plan and decision. The chief difficulty seems to be to obtain this power of concentration independent from all inner and outer circumstances—difficult perhaps but not impossible for him who is determined and persevering. Moreover, whatever method of development is chosen, determination and perseverance are indispensable to obtain success.
 
 
 
The aim in the training is to develop this power of concentrating the attention at will on whatever subject or activity one chooses from the most spiritual to the most material, without losing anything of the fullness of the power,—for instance, in the physical field, transferring the use of the power from one game to another or one activity to another so as to succeed equally in all.
 
 
 
This extreme attention concentrated on a game or a physical activity like lifting, vaulting, punching, running, etc., focusing all energies on any of these movements which bring about in the body the thrill of an exhilarating joy is the thing which carries with it perfection in execution and success. Generally this happens when the sportsman is especially interested in a game or an activity and its happening escapes all control, decision or will.
 
Yet by a proper training of concentrated attention one can obtain the phenomenon at will, on command, so to say, and the resulting perfection in the execution of any activity follows inevitably.
 
 
 
This is exactly what we want to try in our Department of Physical Education. By this process the result may come more slowly than by the usual method, but the lack of rapidity will surely be compensated by a fullness and richness in the expression.
 
<ref>The Mother. (1949). Concentration and Dispersion. In On Education (Collected Works of the Mother Volume 12). Retrieved from http://incarnateword.in/cwm/12/concentration-and-dispersion</ref>
 
----
 
''23 December 1950''
 
''Mother reads out her article "Concentration and Dispersion" (On Education), then comments on it:''
 
 
 
To solve a problem, to learn a lesson, a lot of concentration and attention is needed, everyone knows that—an intellectual attention and concentration. But concentration is not only an intellectual thing, it may be found in all the activities of the being, including bodily activities. The control over the nerves should be such as would allow you a complete concentration on what you are doing and, through the very intensity of your concentration, you acquire an immediate response to external touches. To attain this concentration you need a conscious control of the energies.
 
 
 
Are you conscious of the energies you receive and those you spend?
 
 
 
One is more or less conscious of the energy one spends, especially when one wastes it too much! It is a question here of the constant exchange between receiving and spending! Before the age of reason, little children receive a lot of energy and they spend it lavishly, without thinking, and this allows them to play for hours together without getting tired. But gradually, as thought develops, one begins to measure and calculate the energy spent—usually this is futile, for unless you have the knowledge of the process of receiving energy, it is better to spend freely what you get than let it stagnate within you.
 
 
 
First, you must become conscious of the receiving of energies, their passing into your being and their expenditure. Next, you must have a sort of higher instinct which tells you whence the most favourable energies come; then you put yourself in contact with them through thought, through stillness or any other process—there are many. You must know what energy you want, whence it comes, of what it is composed. Later comes the control of the energy received. Ninety per cent of men do not absorb enough energy or they take in too much and do not assimilate what they take—as soon as they have had a sufficient dose they immediately throw it out by becoming restless, talking, shouting, You must know how to keep within you the received energy and concentrate it fully on the desired activity and not on anything else. If you can do this, you won’t need to use your will. You need only gather together all the energies received and use them consciously, concentrate with the maximum attention in order to do everything you want.
 
 
 
And you must know how to give a real value to what you want to do—what the higher part of your being wants to do—for to do what one likes to do is not difficult.
 
 
 
What is concentration?
 
 
 
It is to bring back all the scattered threads of consciousness to a single point, a single idea. Those who can attain perfect attention succeed in everything they undertake; they will always make a rapid progress. And this kind of concentration can be developed exactly like the muscles; one may follow different systems, different methods of training. Today we know that the most pitiful weakling, for example, can with discipline become as strong as anyone else. One should not have a will which flickers out like a candle.
 
 
 
The will, concentration must be cultivated; it is a question of method, of regular exercise. If you will, you can.
 
 
 
But the thought “What’s the use?” must not come in to weaken the will. The idea that one is born with a certain character and can do nothing about it is a stupidity.
 
<ref>The Mother. cwm/04/23-december-1950</ref>
 
 
 
=Straining and Concentration=
 
 
 
Straining and concentration are not the same thing. Straining implies an over-eagerness and violence of effort, while concentration is in its nature quiet and steady. If there is restlessness or over-eagerness, then that is not concentration.
 
<ref>Sri Aurobindo. cwsa/29/concentration-and-meditation</ref>
 
----
 
Effort means straining endeavour. There can be an action with a will in it in which there is no strain of effort.
 
<ref>Sri Aurobindo. cwsa/29/concentration-and-meditation</ref>
 
 
 
=Inertia & Tiredness in Concentration=
 
 
It is not a fact that when there is obscurity or inertia, one cannot concentrate or meditate. If one has in the inner being the steady will to do it, it can be done.
 
<ref>Sri Aurobindo. cwsa/29/concentration-and-meditation</ref>
 
----
 
If the mind gets tired, naturally it is difficult to concentrate—unless you have become separated from the mind.
 
<ref>Sri Aurobindo. cwsa/29/concentration-and-meditation</ref>
 
----
 
Concentration is very helpful and necessary—the more one concentrates (of course in the limits of the body’s capacity without straining it), the more the force of the Yoga grows. But you must be prepared for the meditation being sometimes not successful and not get upset by it—for that variability of the meditations happens to everybody. There are different causes for it. But it is mostly something physical that interferes, either the need of the body to take time to assimilate what has come or been done or sometimes inertia or dullness due to causes such as those you mention or others. The best thing is to remain quiet and not get nervous or dejected—till the force acts again.
 
<ref>Sri Aurobindo. cwsa/29/concentration-and-meditation</ref>
 
 
 
=Obstacles to Develop Concentration=
 
 
 
But the thought “What’s the use?” must not come in to weaken the will. The idea that one is born with a certain character and can do nothing about it is a stupidity.
 
<ref>The Mother. (1972). Questions and answers, 1950-1951. In Collected Works of the Mother Volume 4 (p. 5).</ref>
 
 
 
The mind is always in activity, but we do not observe fully what it is doing, but allow ourselves to be carried away in the stream of continual thinking. When we try to concentrate, this stream of self-moved mechanical thinking becomes prominent to our observation. It is the first normal obstacle (the other is sleep during meditation) to the effort towards Yoga.
 
<ref>Sri Aurobindo. cwsa/29/concentration-and-meditation</ref>
 
 
 
==Purity and Concentration==
 
 
 
Along with purity and as a help to bring it about, concentration. Purity and concentration are indeed two aspects, feminine and masculine, passive and active, of the same status of being; purity is the condition in which concentration becomes entire, rightly effective, omnipotent; by concentration purity does its works and without it would only lead to a state of peaceful quiescence and eternal repose. Their opposites are also closely connected; for we have seen that impurity is a confusion of Dharmas, a lax, mixed and mutually entangled action of the different parts of the being; and this confusion proceeds from an absence of right concentration of its knowledge on its energies in the embodied Soul. The fault of our nature is first an inert subjection to the impacts of things1 as they come in upon the mind pell-mell without order or control and then a haphazard imperfect concentration managed fitfully, irregularly with a more or less chance emphasis on this or on that object according as they happen to interest, not the higher soul or the judging and discerning intellect, but the restless, leaping, fickle, easily tired, easily distracted lower mind which is the chief enemy of our progress. In such a condition purity, the right working of the functions, the clear, unstained and luminous order of the being is an impossibility; the various workings, given over to the chances of the environment and external influences, must necessarily run into each other and clog, divert, distract, pervert. Equally, without purity the complete, equal, flexible concentration of the being in right thought, right will, right feeling or secure status of spiritual experience is not possible. Therefore the two must proceed together, each helping the victory of the other, until we arrive at that eternal calm from which may proceed some partial image in the human being of the eternal, omnipotent and omniscient activity.
 
<ref>Sri Aurobindo. sabcl/20/concentration</ref>
 
 
 
=Concentration and Contemplation=
 
 
 
'''Is there a relation, Sweet Mother, between concentration and contemplation?'''
 
 
 
There can always be a relation between everything, but usually one means by contemplation a kind of opening upwards. It is rather a state of passive opening upwards. It is a fairly passive form of aspiration. One makes this movement rather like something opening, opening in an aspiration; but if the contemplation is sufficiently total, it becomes a concentration. Yet it is not necessarily a concentration.
 
<ref>The Mother. cwm/07/24-august-1955</ref>
 
 
 
=Concentration before sleeping=
 
''8 October 1961''
 
 
 
'''Sweet Mother,'''
 
 
 
'''I have noticed one thing: When I sit for a few minutes and make an effort to concentrate before going to sleep, the next day I wake up quite early and am quite fresh. I concentrate on the tiny luminous tip of an incense-stick. But how is it that I wake up early because of that? There is no relation between these two things!'''
 
 
 
On the contrary, there is a very concrete relation. When you concentrate before sleeping, then in your sleep you remain in contact with the Divine force; but when you fall heavily to sleep without any preliminary concentration, you sink into the inconscient and the sleep is more tiring than restful, and it is difficult to come out of this sluggishness.
 
<ref>The Mother. cwm/16/8-october-1961</ref>
 
 
 
=Concentration in work=
 
''4 July 1961''
 
 
 
'''Sweet Mother,'''
 
 
 
'''Here our activities are so varied that it is difficult to stick to one thing till the end. Perhaps that is why we are not able to go beyond a mediocre average. Or is it because of our lack of solid concentration?'''
 
 
 
The cause of mediocre work is neither the variety nor the number of activities, but the lack of power of concentration.
 
 
 
One must learn to concentrate and do all that one does with full concentration.
 
<ref>The Mother. cwm/16/4-july-1961</ref>
 
 
 
 
 
'''Content curated by Manoj Pavitran and Divyanshi Chugh'''
 
  
=References=
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==References==

Latest revision as of 23:58, 18 January 2019

Read more about Concentration from the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

What is Concentration

Concentration means gathering of all the scattered movements of consciousness into a single point, place, object, thought, idea, condition, state or movement. [1] [2] [3]

Concentration is an active state. One may concentrate mentally, one may concentrate vitally, psychically, physically, and one may concentrate integrally. Concentration or the capacity to gather oneself at one point is more difficult than meditation. One may gather together one portion of one's being or consciousness or one may gather together the whole of one's consciousness or even fragments of it, that is, the concentration may be partial, total or integral, and in each case the result will be different. [4]

Concentration is not only an intellectual thing, it may be found in all the activities of the being, including bodily activities. The control over the nerves should be such as would allow one a complete concentration on what one is doing and, through the very intensity of one's concentration, one acquires an immediate response to external touches. To attain this concentration one needs a conscious control of the energies. [5]

Why Concentration is Important?

Without concentration one cannot achieve anything. [6]

There is nothing in the human or even in the superhuman field, to which the power of concentration is not the key. One can be the best athlete, one can be the best student, one can be an artistic, literary or scientific genius, one can be the greatest saint with that faculty. And everyone has in himself a tiny little beginning of it—it is given to everybody, but people do not cultivate it.[7]

The ability of concentration is one of the greatest powers of the human mentality. [8] Whatever one may want to do in life, one thing is absolutely indispensable and at the basis of everything, the capacity of concentrating the attention. If one is able to gather together the rays of attention and consciousness on one point and can maintain this concentration with a persistent will, nothing can resist it—whatever it may be, from the most material physical development to the highest spiritual one. [9]

Concentration is necessary to gather the whole will and mind from the natural distractions. Left to themselves, they follow the normal dispersive movement of thoughts running after many-branching desires led away by outward sensory contacts. [10] The mind is a thing that dwells in diffusion, in succession; it can only concentrate on one thing at a time and when not concentrated runs from one thing to another very much at random. Therefore it has to concentrate on a single idea, a single subject of meditation, a single object of contemplation, a single object of will in order to possess or master it, and this it must do to at least the temporary exclusion of all others. [11]

How to Cultivate Concentration?

The faculty of concentrated attention can be developed scientifically by a methodical training the same way as an athlete develops methodically his muscles. The power of concentration can be developed in such a way that concentration is obtained at will and on whatever subject or activity is chosen. [12]

When one has a problem and one is looking for a solution, if it does not come, it is because of a kind of haziness in the brain, something cloudy, like a fog somewhere. Concentration consists precisely in removing the cloud. One can gather together all the elements of one's intelligence and fix them on one point, and then do not even try actively to find the thing. All that one should do is to concentrate in such a way as to see only the problem—but seeing not only its surface, seeing it in its depth, what it conceals. If one is able to gather together one's all mental energies, bringing them to a point which is fixed on the enunciation of the problem, and stay there, fixed, as though, to drill a hole in the wall, all of a sudden it will come. And this is the only way. [13]

While engaging in work, one must become what one is doing and not remain a small person looking at himself doing it; for if one looks at oneself acting, one is still in complicity with the ego. It is through concentrated attention that one can do things quickly and one does them much better. [14]

When one wants to realise something, one makes quite spontaneously the necessary effort; this concentrates one's energies on the thing to be realised and that gives a meaning to one's life. This compels one to a sort of organisation of oneself, a sort of concentration of one's energies because it is this that one wishes to do and not fifty other things which contradict it. And it is in this concentration, this intensity of the will, that lies the origin of joy. This gives the power to receive energies in exchange for those spent. [15]

Concentration in Integral Yoga

Concentration does not mean meditation; on the contrary, concentration is a state one must be in continuously, whatever the outer activity. It means that all the energy, all the will, all the aspiration must be turned only towards the Divine and His integral realisation in our consciousness. [16]

Yogic concentration is an extension and intensification of the normal power of concentration to realise the object of yoga which is the integral union with the Divine. [17] Concentration is indeed the first condition of any Yoga, but it is an all-receiving concentration that is the very nature of the integral Yoga. A wide massive opening, a harmonised concentration of the whole being in all its parts and through all its powers upon the Divine is the larger action of this Yoga without which it cannot achieve its purpose. This wide and concentrated totality is the essential character of the Sadhana. [18]

An all-receiving concentration which is open to all that exists; it is a concentration which does not oppose anything. It is a concentration which is open. It means that one must not reject certain things from himself and practise an exclusive concentration on a particular point while neglecting all the others. All the possibilities should be admitted and pursued. [19]

Concentration in the heart is one method, concentration in the head (or above) is another; both are included in this Yoga and one has to do whichever one finds easiest and most natural. The object of the concentration in the heart is to open the centre there (heart-lotus), to feel the presence of the Divine Mother in the heart and to become aware of one's soul or psychic being which is a portion of the Divine. The object of the concentration in the head is to rise to the Divine Consciousness and bring down the Light of the Mother or her Force or Ananda into all the centres. [20]

There must be a large, many-sided yet single concentration of the thought on the idea, the perception, the vision, the awakening touch, the soul's realisation of the one Divine. There must be a flaming concentration of the heart on the seeking of the All and Eternal and, when once we have found him, a deep plunging and immersion in the possession and ecstasy of the All-Beautiful. There must be a strong and immovable concentration of the will on the attainment and fulfillment of all that the Divine is and a free and plastic opening of it to all that he intends to manifest in us. This is the triple way of the Yoga. [21]

Content curated by Manoj Pavitran and Divyanshi Chugh

Read more about Concentration from the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

References