Focusing on the Signal While Eliminating the Noise: Concentration and Purification

Consider briefly that you have a television set that receives all the available channels, but you cannot tune the set, so that all picture and sound from the entire frequency range come in at the same time and mix up with each other, along with the static that occurs between various station signals. Obviously such a system is chaotic and does not function properly. In order to receive, understand and utilize whichever channel you want to watch, you need to be able to tune to that specific frequency and exclude all the others. Whether you are looking for spiritual instruction, religious channels, educational teachings, dramas, comedies, or cooking channels or those catering to other desires, the ability to focus and tune and maintain the setting is essential.

Our conscious awareness functions in a similar manner. We have the capability of receiving vibrations across a wide range of frequencies, but we tend to have a stream of confusing and mixed up incoming perceptions and the responses they provoke unless we have the ability to concentrate and focus on a particular signal, and eliminate the static and the conflicting signals at the same time. We need to focus on the desired “signal” and eliminate the ‘noise” from our interaction. Thus, concentration and purification go hand in hand for us to successfully interact with the manifestation of which we are a part.

The seeker’s role is to systematically work to tune toward the desired frequency that supports the spiritual aspiration and growth, and then to systematically reduce, and eventually eliminate the interference from competing signals that distract or take us away from the focus.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “Along with purity and as a help to bring it about, concentration. Purity and concentration are indeed two aspects, feminine and masculine, passive and active, of the same status of being; purity is the condition in which concentration becomes entire, rightly effective, omnipotent; by concentration purity does its works and without it would only lead to a state of peaceful quiescence and eternal repose…. The fault of our nature is first an inert subjection to the impacts of things as they come in upon the mind pell-mell without order or control and then a haphazard imperfect concentration managed fitfully, irregularly with a more or less chance emphasis on this or on that object according as they happen to interest, not the higher soul or the judging and discerning intellect, but the restless, leaping, fickle, easily tired, easily distracted lower mind which is the chief enemy of our progress. In such a condition purity, the right working of the functions, the clear, unstained and luminous order of the being is an impossibility; the various workings, given over to the chances of the environment and external influences, must necessarily run into each other and clog, divert, distract, pervert. Equally, without purity the complete, equal, flexible concentration of the being in right thought, right will, right feeling or secure status of spiritual experience is not possible. Therefore the two must proceed together, each helping the victory of the other, until we arrive at that eternal calm from which may proceed some partial image in the human being of the eternal, omnipotent and omniscient activity.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter IV Growth of Consciousness First Steps and Foundation, pp. 68-69

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