To gain knowledge of concentration requires not only study,
but balance also. Before touching this subject I would first
like to explain what motive we have behind concentration. There
are two aspects of life: the audible life and the silent life.
By audible life I mean all experiences, all sensations that
we experience through our five senses. This is distinct from
the life which I would call the silent life. And when one asks
what benefit one derives from getting in touch with the silent
life, the answer is that the benefit is as abstract as the silent
life itself. The life of sensation is clear; its benefit is
clear; and yet as limited, as is the life of sensation, so limited
is its benefit. That is why in the end we find all our experiences
of little value. Their importance lasts as long as we experience
them. But after that the importance of the life of sensation
The value of silent life is independent. We are inclined
to attach a value to something which concerns our outer life.
The silent life does not give us a special benefit but a general
benefit. In other words, if there is a minor wound on the body
an external application of a certain medicament can cure it.
But there are other medicines which can cure the general condition,
and this is more satisfactory than the external cure, though
it is less spectacular.
One cannot say exactly what profit is gained by concentration,
but in reality every kind of profit is to be attained through
concentration, in all directions. There are two kinds of concentration:
automatic concentration and intentional concentration. Automatic
concentration is found in many people who do not know that they
concentrate and yet they do. They concentrate automatically,
some to their disadvantage, some to their advantage. Those who
concentrate to their advantage are the ones whose mind is fixed
on their business, on their art, on any occupation they have.
They are the ones who because of their concentration can work
more successfully. Be it a composer, a writer, or a musician,
according to his power of concentration so will be his success.
I once had the pleasure of hearing Paderewski in his
own house. He began to play gently on his piano. Every note
took him into a deeper and deeper ocean of music. Any meditative
person could see clearly that he was so concentrated in what
he did that he knew not where he was. The works of great composers,
which will always live, which win the hearts of men, whence
do they come? – From concentration. So it is with a poet, so
it is with an artist. It is concentration which brings color,
and line, which makes the picture. Naturally, whether it is
an artist or a writer, a musician or a poet, or somebody who
is in business or industry, in the absence of concentration
he can never succeed.
Sometimes concentration works to a disadvantage. There are
some people who always think that they are unlucky, that everything
they do will go wrong, who think that everybody dislikes them,
that everybody hates them. Then some begin to think that they
are unable to do anything, that they are incapable, useless.
Others out of self-pity think that they are ill. In that way
even if they are not ill they create illness. Some by concentration
cherish illness, always think of it. No physician could be successful
with them. An old physician once said, 'There are many diseases,
but there are many more patients.' Once a person has become
a patient through concentration, he is difficult to cure. And
there are many such cases of automatic concentration to the
disadvantage of man.
Thinkers, philosophers, and meditative people teach intentional
concentration. The whole of mysticism, of esotericism, is based
upon the idea of concentration. This mystical concentration
can be divided into four different grades. The first is concentration,
the next contemplation, the third meditation, the forth realization.
The definition of the first grade is the fixing of one's
thought upon one object. One should not concentrate upon just
any object that comes along, for what one concentrates upon
has an effect upon one. When one concentrates on a dead object
it has the effect of deadening the soul. When one concentrates
on a living object it naturally has a living effect. The secret
of the teachings of all prophets and mystics is to be found
This concentration is achieved in three different ways. The
first way is by action. One makes a certain movement or performs
an action which helps the mind to concentrate on a certain
object. Another way is with the help of words. By the repetition
of certain words one learns to think automatically of a certain
object. The third way is with the help of memory. Memory is
like a builder's yard. From this the builder takes anything
he likes: tiles, pillars, bricks, whatever he wants. The man
who concentrates in this way does the same as children who have
bricks to build toy houses with. He collects things in his memory
and with them he composes objects in order to concentrate on
what he wishes.
As to contemplation, it is only when a person is advanced
enough that he can contemplate. Because contemplation is not
on an object, it is on an idea. No doubt a man can think that
he is ready to do anything, and that after concentration he
can contemplate; but the nature of the mind is such that it
slips out of one's hands the moment one tries to hold it. Therefore
before one really starts to think the mind has already thrown
off the object of concentration like a restive horse. Mind is
not always so unruly; it proves to be unruly when it wants to
rule itself. It is like the body: one may feel restful sitting
naturally, but as soon as one keeps quite still for five minutes,
the body begins to feel restless. And it is still more difficult
to make the mind obey. Mystics therefore find a rope to tie
the mind in a certain place where it cannot move. What is that
rope? That rope is breath. It is by that rope that they bind
the mind and make it stand where they wish it to stand. It is
like the bird which uses its saliva to make its nest. So it
is with the mystic who out of breath creates atmosphere, creates
light and magnetism in which to live.
One characteristic of the mind is that it is like a gramophone
record: whatever is impressed upon it, it is able to reproduce.
And another characteristic of the mind is that it does not only
reproduce something, but it creates what is impressed upon it.
If ugliness is recorded, it will produce disagreement, disharmony.
The learning of concentration clears the record, makes it produce
what we like, not what comes automatically. In this world one
is so open to impressions. One goes about with eyes and ears
open, but it is not only the eyes, not only the ears that are
open. The lips are open to give out what the eyes and ears take
in. That is the dangerous part.
The third part of concentration is meditation. In this grade
one becomes communicative. One communicates with the silent
life, and naturally a communication opens up with the outer
life also. It is then that a man begins to realize that both
the outer and the inner life, everything in fact, is communicative.
Then a man begins to learn what can never be learnt by study
or from books, that the silent life is the greatest teacher
and knows all things. It does not only teach, but gives that
peace, that joy, that power and harmony which make life beautiful.
No one can claim to be meditative. For a meditative person
need not to say it with the lips. His atmosphere says so, and
it is the atmosphere alone that can say whether it is true or
false. Once I asked my spiritual teacher what was the sign of
knowing God. He said, 'Not those who call out the Name of God,
but those whose silence says it.' Many go about looking, searching
for something worthwhile, something wonderful, but there is
nothing more wonderful than the soul of man.
Realization is the result of the three other grades. In the
third kind of experience man pursued meditation; but in this,
meditation pursues man. In other words, it is no longer the
singer who sings the song, but the song sings the singer. This
fourth grade is a kind of expansion of consciousness; it is
the unfoldment of the soul; it is diving deep within oneself;
it is communicating with each atom of life existing in the whole
world; it is realizing the real 'I', in which is the fulfillment
of life's purpose.