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by Swami Rama

[This is an excerpt from Lectures on Yoga by Swami Rama, Himalayan  International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of USA, 1976, pages 80 – 82.  Later publications of this book are titled The Royal Path.]

In Yoga Science the analogy of a lake is used in explaining the mind. The mind is like a lake disturbed by the rising waves of thoughts or vrittis. The practice of concentrating helps to still the waves. And when the thoughts are stilled, the aspirant can see his own reflection in the water of the lake and realize his true nature. The purpose of concentration is to wash off all the aspirant’s impurities, gather together the dissipated energies of his mind, and then lead his concentrated mind along one channel to the state of superconsciousness.

In everyday life we concentrate in many ways. We concentrate while inserting a thread through the eye of a needle and while driving a car through a busy street. However, this concentration is called external for it is something in the external world that holds our attention. Concentration, or Dharana, as described by Patanjali, is an internal mental process and not a muscular exercise. This process takes place entirely within the field of consciousness and is directed by our will. With internal concentration, the attention of the aspirant is drawn to an object and is held on it through the use of his will power. Continued attention leads to concentration.

Attention is, therefore, a preliminary to concentration. There are two kinds of attention – voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary attention is attention directed toward an object or idea by an effort of the will. Voluntary attention needs will power, determination and mental training. Involuntary attention on the other hand, is spontaneous. It is a common occurrence and does not demand any practice or will power. Involuntary attention is particularly noticeable among children. Concentration requires voluntary attention.

Some modern teachers formulate and advocate theories which are designed to justify their own way of teaching. They even say that meditation is possible without concentration. This is a false claim because concentration itself, in its advanced stage, becomes meditation. If the wandering mind is not brought home the so-called “meditational methods” practiced these days will be futile. The aspirant therefore should understand that concentration is absolutely necessary and he should not be swayed by teachings which suggest that concentration leads to tension.



The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation

Purification of Thoughts     Dhyana    Mindfulness
Japa     Dharana     Shavasana
Breath Awareness     Qualified Preceptor
Guru Disciple Relationship     Unbroken Lineage
Yoga Nidra     Silence Retreats     Full Moon Meditation

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