The First Step In the Process of Concentration

Sri Aurobindo describes three successive steps or stages in the process of concentration. The first one “…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.”

For those who are engaged in deep studies or research, this process, focused on external facts, ideas or phenomena, is one of quite some familiarity. In the modern world, with the advent of distractions such as email, cell phones, texting, mass media, the ability to focus and concentrate without having the thought process interrupted or broken off is much more difficult than in the pre-digital world; nevertheless, the seeker is enjoined not only to be able to do this with external focus, but to be able to accomplish this kind of systematic flow of thought on a single subject internally without a specific fixed object upon which to concentrate. “yet this inward concentration is what the seeker of knowledge must effect.”

Sri Aurobindo also points out that what is sought here is not solely an intellectual exercise or mental training; rather, the thought must be a support and precursor to the actual experience of the object upon which concentration is being focused. “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.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 4, Concentration, pp. 308-309

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