1. In all 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, inherent power, lying untapped or else only partially made use of.
2. 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 potentialities. If he intelligently regulates and applies them, quick and concrete results will accrue.
3. To learn to rationally and effectively use the existing forces, man need not wait for any striking new methods, etc., to be invented, to guide him. Since the dawn of creation, nature herself abounds in instructive examples and lessons to aid man in every walk of his 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.
4. This gathering together of the scattered rays and bringing this force to bear upon a given point,-any object, idea or action – forms the process.
5. As examples of the power generated by a concentration of force are cited (1) the sluggish and leisurely flow of a river, damned 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, (3) the most common domestic sight, the clattering and displacement of the covering lid of a cauldron when the latter commences to boil very much, (4) the normally warm sun-rays become suddenly so hot as to burn up objects when centralised and brought into focus through the lens. And the simple and commonest of 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.
6. 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. A like concentration is displayed by the skilled Swiss workmen that fashion the delicate parts of watches and other scientific instruments.Thus in every art and science.
7. This is specially so in the spiritual line where the aspirant has to deal with forces internal. The powers of the mind are always scattered and resist attempts at concentration. This oscillatory tendency is an innate characteristic of the mind-stuff. Of the various methods employed to curtail and arrest this tossing of the mind, those using the medium of sound and sight, stand prominent, because these two have a peculiar knack of catching the attention of and stilling the mind. It is seen how a hypnotist gently subdues the mind of the ’subject’ by making the latter gaze steadily into his (the hypnotist’s) eyes and listen to the monotonous repetition of his steady, deliberate suggestions. We have still another clue to this when we note the mother gently croons the little child into slumber. Also the school masters sharp, ”Now then, boys look here,” whenever he desires them to pay special attention to what he is saying, is significant. He feels that by getting them to fix their gaze on him, he will draw the attention of their minds as well to his teaching.
Therefore in the course of spiritual discipline too, the methods of developing concentration take the form of gazing steadily at a dot, or at the symbol of the Pranava, or the Mantra or the figure of the favourite chosen deity. With some others it is done by the audible repetition of the Mantra or the Lord’s name, or OM, or some select Kirtan tunes with regular rhythm and intonation. By these means the mind gradually gets indrawn and focussed. As this state deepens, the person slowly loses awareness of his surroundings. The concentration, when continued, leads to the state of Dhyana or meditation, when the practitioner tends to forget even that physical frame. Meditation, when persisted in and perfected, brings about the experience of superconsciousness or Samadhi, the ultimate state of Self-awareness or Realisation.
Excerpts from “Concentration and Meditation” by Sri Swami Sivananda