Traditional Paths of Yoga Use Exclusive Concentration To Overcome Psychological Complexity

The difficulties inherent in any attempt to consciously move from the normal human psychology and standpoint to the divine standpoint, makes it understandable that the practitioner will attempt to find ways to simplify the process and thereby speed up and increase the likelihood of success of the endeavor. This provides, in fact, the primary justification for the ascetic paths which take such an approach to the extreme lengths of abandonment of virtually every activity or focus for human life that could distract from the spiritual concentration.

Each of the primary paths of Yoga seizes on one or another of the major levers of human activity and, through an exclusive concentration, reduces the complex of diverse drives and movements that otherwise would have to be untangled and resolved for an integral transformation process such as that set forth as the goal of the integral Yoga.

Sri Aurobindo describes the methods of the traditional paths in this regard: “One or another of the principal psychological forces in us is selected as our single means for attaining to the Divine; the rest is quieted into inertia or left to starve in its smallness. The Bhakta, seizing on the emotional forces of the being, the intense activities of the heart, abides concentrated in the love of God, gathered up as into a single one-pointed tongue of fire; he is indifferent to the activities of thought, throws behind him the importunities of the reason, cares nothing for the mind’s thirst for knowledge. All the knowledge he needs is his faith and the inspirations that well up from a heart in communion with the Divine.”

Similarly, “The man of Knowledge, self-confined by a deliberate choice to the force and activities of discriminative thought, finds release in the mind’s inward-drawn endeavour. He concentrates on the idea of the self, succeeds by a subtle inner discernment in distinguishing its silent presence amid the veiling activities of Nature, and through the perceptive idea arrives at the concrete spiritual experience. He is indifferent to the play of the emotions, deaf to the hunger-call of passion, closed to the activities of Life,–the more blessed he, the sooner they fall away from him and leave him free, still and mute, the eternal non-doer. The body is his stumbling-block, the vital functions are his enemies; if their demands can be reduced to a minimum, that is his great good fortune.”

There is a similar process in the action of Karma Yoga as well, in this case based on an entire focus on dedicated action without regard to other aspects of the being. The same type of concentrated focus may be found in the Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga or other specific paths that rely on one or another of the primary aspects of the human instrument.

“The problem is solved by the excision of all but the one central difficulty which pursues the only chosen motive-force; into the midst of the dividing calls of our nature the principle of an exclusive concentration comes sovereignly to our rescue.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 2, Self Consecration, pp. 70-71