The Second Step in the Process of Concentration

There is a state of awareness, sometimes referred to as ‘the zone’, in which the thought process stops but the innate knowledge and precise awareness continues and acts more perfectly than the halting flow of the rational intellect can accomplish.  The second step to which Sri Aurobindo refers has similarity to this state of awareness.  He describes it as “…the fixing of the whole mind in concentration on the essence of the idea only, so as to reach not the thought-knowledge or the psychological experience of the subject, but the very essence of the thing behind the idea.  In this process thought ceases and passes into the absorbed or ecstatic contemplation of the object or by a merging into it in an inner Samadhi.”  The seeker becomes one with the object and knows, by the form of “knowledge by identity” what the object is, and its deepest sense or meaning.  There is no rational process of sequential thinking or mental knowing that takes place in this form of concentration.

The experience is so intense that it generally occurs only in a state of deep contemplation disassociated from the actions, forces, impulses or impressions of the outer world and is one which has led many seekers to the mountain cave, the forest, or the desert, in order to minimize the possibilities of distraction and focus all the attention on the knowledge-quest.  Sri Aurobindo reminds us, however, that for the integral Yoga, the aim of which is the transformation of life itself, it will not be sufficient to achieve even this high but remote form of knowing; rather, once attained, there must be a bridge to bring back the insight, knowledge and power gained from that state of consciousness into the outer world of action in life.  “For otherwise we may possess it, as many do, in the elevated condition or in the inward Samadhi, but we shall lose our hold of it when we awake or descend into the contacts of the world; and this truncated possession is not the aim of an integral Yoga.”

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

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