Concentration is Essential for Spiritual Progress

13. Concentration is Essential for Spiritual Progress

Concentration is a state of
complete one-pointedness and
stillness of consciousness.
The nature of creation is motion;
the nature of Spirit is motionlessness.

"Be still, and know that I am God"
(Psalms 46:10).
Concentration is therefore essential
to divine communion. (me)


When a yogi again and again fights his restlessness and distractions, and with ever-increasing intensity tries to feel divine communion in meditation, he will form a good habit of calm interiorization. In time this habit will displace the mortal habit of restive sensory bondage and will lead ultimately to realization of Divinity. ...

The cure for restlessness is continuous effort to be peaceful regardless of success or failure. Strong, die-hard restive habits at last are destroyed by the gradual strengthening of the good habit of practicing interiorized calmness in meditation. (bg)


Learn the art of concentration so that when you put your mind on a particular thought your attention does not become restless, hopping from one idea to another. (jt)


To be able to concentrate is essential for spiritual progress;

without concentration
you shall never find God.

Learn how to shut out of your consciousness all sounds and other earthly distractions. As soon as your consciousness is right, God is there. He isn't hiding from you; you are hiding from Him. (me)


The true practice of religion is to sit still in meditation and talk to God. But you don't get to that point of intensity, you don't concentrate enough, and that is why you remain in delusion. (me)


Their thoughts immersed in That (Spirit),
their souls one with Spirit,
their sole allegiance and devotion given to Spirit,
their beings purified from poisonous delusion
by the antidote of wisdom
—such men reach the state of nonreturn.
—The Bhagavad Gita V:17

'The state of nonreturn’ is referred to in the Bible: "Him that over-cometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out (shall reincarnate no more)." [Revelation 3:12]

Devotees who use their power of discrimination to free themselves from identification with the drama of creation and behold in it only the play of the cosmic light and the shadows of delusion;

who concentrate on the cosmic beam and not on the shadows;
who perceive their souls as rays of the Cosmic Sun;
who are continuously absorbed in It;
who have destroyed delusion by wisdom
—those sages attain liberation.

...Inherent in this verse [V:17] is another interpretation intended for guidance in the sadhana (spiritual practices) of the meditating devotee, according to the following rendering:

Thinking on That,
merged in That,
established in That,
solely devoted to That,
they go whence there is no return,
their sins dispelled by wisdom.


Thinking on That [The First Stage of Concentration]:

Holding the attention on the object of meditation;

for example, keeping the mind concentrated on the inner sound of the great Aum (Amen), the universal cosmic vibration that is the manifested creative consciousness and power of God.

The thinking state implies duality of experience: two poles, one upward toward Spirit and one downward toward matter.


Merged in That [The Second Stage of Concentration]:

Filled with the universal Aum vibration, excluding the intrusion of all thoughts born of the sentient mind.

This second stage of concentration
transcends the "thinking state";
it is oneness with the object of meditation
experienced through the pure intuition of the soul.

The merged state of concentration brings the devotee in direct touch and friendship with the Spirit through Aum. It is a blissful state filling the devotee to overflowing with confidence and faith in God. But the merged state in the beginning is not stable and abiding. Unless it is oft repeated and the habit correspondingly formed, it is liable to disappear and be lost whenever the devotee is beset by the bad habit of mental restlessness in meditation, or when he resumes his material activities after his meditations. Hence, this state is transitory because bad habits reappear as soon as new good habits and experiences complete their debut and make their exit.

Devotees whose bad habits are strong easily become discouraged when confronted with the apparent unstability of spiritual experiences. Doubts arise, and the faithless may relegate spiritual experiences to the realm of impractical mysticism. The fault lies in the practitioners' lack of perseverance to make permanent their spiritual gains, the attainment of the third or established state of divine communion.


Established in That [Third Stage of Concentration]:

Permanently and continuously abiding in the state of divine oneness, regardless of one's external activities (the nirvikalpa state).

Having mastered these three stages of concentration,
thus changing the focus of the consciousness
from matter to Spirit,
the devotee no longer harbors any desire save
devotion to God and to live for Him alone.

In such devotees, all sins (past and present karma) are dispelled by the wisdom-light of God-realization, even as the accumulated darkness of night vanishes with the coming of the dawn. These devotees are released thereby from the dizzying whirl of the wheel of birth-death-rebirth. They "go no more out" from the presence of God. (bg)


Next Page »

(aoy) — Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
(bg) — God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita by Paramahansa Yogananda
(dr) — The Divine Romance by Paramahansa Yogananda
(jt) — Journey to Self-Realization by Paramahansa Yogananda
(me) — Man's Eternal Quest by Paramahansa Yogananda
(os) — Other Sources... Talks, Booklets
(sc) — The Second Coming of Christ by Paramahansa Yogananda
(sm) — Self-Realization Magazines