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Seeds of Light Foundation
- YOGA AS A UNIVERSAL SCIENCE -
WORSHIP OF ISVARA
The nature of one's aspiration for the ultimate realisation through Yoga is perhaps the most important conditioning factor in the practice. This is clearly stressed by Patanjali in one of his Sutras. If the aspiration is lukewarm and not intense enough, there would be a corresponding dampening of the speed with which one progresses towards the realisation of the goal. The greatest Sadhana or practice is the longing of the soul for God, the pressure which one feels from within one's self in the direction of the supreme attainment. To cite an analogy: In the case of a river, the greater the force of the waters of the river, the quicker does the river reach its destination. But, if the same river mellows and moves stagnantly and reluctantly, as it were, it will reach its end only after a long period.
In the same way; quick success in the practice of Yoga can be had only if the aspiration is intense and burning inside. "Tivra-samveganam asannah": Quick is the result of Yoga, immediate is the realisation, if the 'Samvega', or the aspiration of the soul, is very strong and burningly intense. The word used in the Sutra is 'Samvega', a term which has its own peculiar significance. The words we normally use such as desire, longing, aspiration and devotion are inadequate to express what is implied in the term 'Samvega'. We have to stretch our imagination a little bit to understand the significance of the meaning hidden in the word 'Samvega.' It is a shaking up of the whole personality of ours from top to bottom, by the very roots, as it were, where our personality gets devastated by the urge of the spirit for ultimate perfection. Samvega is truly devastating. 'Devastating' is the only word which brings out the meaning of the term 'Samvega'.
When Samvega arises in us for the great perfection, it breaks our personality to pieces, shatters us to shreds. It is difficult to translate this word Sarmvega, but its implied meaning should by now be reasonably clear It is not the little devotion that we try to show to God in our daily routines of practice. It is not the so-called religiosity of approach. It is something unthinkable, an anguish of the spirit, a surge of the soul, raining of the entire personality out of its essence. We are never in this position at any time of our life. Such Samvega never takes possession of us. We may be devoted people, but even then, our devotion is mostly half-hearted, reluctant and lukewarm. Such lukewarm devotion cannot bring in success, and certainly not quick success.
in Samvega, Patanjali mentions three degrees - Mridu, Madhya and
Adhimatra. Soft aspiration is Mridu, middling; a little more intense
than that is Madhya; but, flaming like a conflagration of fire and unquenchable
in its intensity is the aspiration called Adhimatra Vairagya and Adhimatra
Samvega. People in our present-day world cannot imagine what this sort
of Samvega could be. A person who does not feel the need for God cannot
ask for Him, and a need is felt only when the world cracks under one's
feet, and not before that. A time comes in everyone's life when such an
experience is encountered. No one can escape this situation. It may be
today; it may be tomorrow. And until that eventuality occurs, our soul
will not actually cry from its bottom for that which it actually longs
The Concept of Ishvara - A Pragmatic Necessity
One of the suggestions given again by Patanjali in regard to this Samvega or deep aspiration is worship of God or Isvara. The concept of Isvara is peculiar to the system of Patanjali. While we are all quite familiar with this term, Isvara, as denoting God, there is a peculiarity in the connotation of the word 'Isvara' as used in the system of Patanjali. While we are all familiar with the theological or religious concept of God, a purely pragmatic conception governs the idea behind Isvara in the system of Patanjali. It is pragmatic, because it is utilitarian, and it is regarded as an essentiality for the purpose of concentration of the mind. So, the reason why the concept of Isvara is introduced in the system of Yoga is that the mind requires some object to hang upon. Just as we require a peg to hang our coat, we require some target to fix our mind. Because, what can the mind think of if it has no object?
Now, what are the objects that are usually available to the mind's perceptions and cognitions? The objects are nothing but the things which the senses perceive and which are manifestations of Prakriti, isolated bits of matter, scattered hither and thither, and it is difficult for the mind to take any one of them as the supreme ideal of concentration. The ideal chosen for the purpose of practising meditation should be such that it will draw our attention wholly, and invoke our devotion and love. The love that is stirred up in our heart by our ideal is the power that will drive us towards that ideal, which is the object of love. We cannot take a pencil or a fountain pen and love it whole-heartedly as our dear brother or dear something because we cannot see so much value in a pencil or a pen as to make it an object of our utter devotion and love.
The argument will hold good not only in the case of a pencil or a pen, but also in respect all objects of this world. That is why the concept of Isvara has been necessarily introduced by Patanjali as an ideal to be imagined and accepted for the purpose of concentration of mind in Yoga. The ideal presented here is such that it is free from the afflictions and the limitations that characterise the individual Purusha or the Jiva and the Prakriti with all its diversities.
We cannot concentrate on any human being. We cannot love a person wholly, because every person has a limitation. We begin to see defects. While we may be drawn towards any particular person or thing, for the time being, under certain circumstances, for reasons our own, this pull cannot continue for a long time. Because, it will be there only as long as the emotions overwhelm us for their particular purpose. But, when this purpose is fulfilled, we will begin to see defects in the person or the object, rather than the beauty that we saw earlier. Because, the beauty and the value were seen only temporarily on account of the preponderance of a particular emotion. When that subsides on account of the satisfaction of its designs, then the usual sensory and mental activity begins to see the limitation or the finite in persons and things.
So, Patanjali thinks that no human being can be an object adoration, ultimately. We must therefore have a concept of personality which is supreme in its very nature - a Supreme Person who is not an ordinary human person, and who is free from the afflictions consequent upon the operations of Karma. Neither sorrow nor joy affects that person. The Karma Phala or the nemesis of action does not affect that person. Not merely that. That person is omniscient all-knowing. The need to place before the seeker such a concept of Isvara arose, because it was difficult to explain how action produced reaction, how justice was possible in this world. Because the limitations of the personality of every individual in the form selfishness, one cannot be expected to do justice to one's own self. For example, one would not like to punish one's own self in the name of justice. And one would like to reward oneself even under circumstances where one is not actually deserving.
So, the law action or the law of Karma cannot operate where the agents of act only are present, and nobody else is there as a superintending principle, superior to the agents who are responsible for the activities or Karmas. Good is to be rewarded, and that which is not good is to be punished. This cannot be done by the agent himself, in much the same way as a client cannot be the judge. So, the one to reward actions cannot be any of the Purushas, any of the individuals, because each one is an agent of action. It cannot also be Prakriti, because Prakriti is unconscious. There has to be something quite different from these finite Purushas or individuals and the unconscious Prakriti; that third thing which is inevitable under the consequences of logical thinking has been designated, as Isvara. This Isvara is no other than God, for all practical purposes.
In this way, the principle of God or Isvara has been introduced into the system of the Yoga of Patanjali under the pressure of necessity, under the pressure of a logical requirement. It is a requirement, because it is only on such a perfected individual as the Isvara that the mind can easily concentrate itself as a source of its own satisfaction. Apart from this pragmatic necessity felt for the concept of God in Yoga, there is the usual theological attitude, which is that with which we are all familiar. God is not merely a hook on which we can all hang our coats. He is not merely an instrument that can work out our purpose. He is not a servant. God is not a tool or a lever that we use sometimes, during our practice, for working out a purpose, quite different from Isvara Himself.
The theological concept of God or the highest religious concept is different from this pragmatic notion of Yoga. The highest concept of God requires God to be recognised as the goal, rather than as a means. While God is a fit object of concentration, He is also the goal of aspiration and attainment, which point is not emphasised in the classical system of Patanjali, but can be combined adequately and suitably for our own practical purposes.
depends upon what we mean by God. Every person has his or her own definition
of it. One of the definitions is a necessity of logic. "If God were not
there, we will have to invent one" said one philosopher. Because, we cannot
get on without Him. So, we will have to choose one God, just as we choose
a prime minister or a president. The necessity is so pressing and so stringent
that we cannot live in this world without such a supreme existence. But
this is a mood of philosophy and logic, and not a need felt by the soul.
The soul asking for God is a different matter altogether; it is asking
for its own Supreme ldeal from which it cannot separate itself. In our
daily practice, Upasana or the worship of God may play a very important
role. Karma, Upasana and Jnana are generally accepted to be the stages
of ascent of the aspiration of the student.
Mind Control-A Graduated Process through Karma, Upasana and Jnana
The mind is difficult to control. Therefore, a very discreet and tactful technique has to be adopted in its restraint. One cannot hit the mind and control it, just as one cannot strike a wild bull and control it, or even ride a horse when it is unwilling to accept one as its rider. On the other hand, just as the animal tamer controls a lion or an elephant, a tiger or a wild bull, by means which are identical with a graduated process, the mind has to be restrained gradually. In doing this, the student must take note of the fact that the mind has got its own desires, and that no desire of the mind can be turned a deaf ear to. True, the mind has to be controlled, has to be sublimated, has to be destroyed. This is the ideal and the goal, no doubt, but it cannot be done at one stroke, even as we cannot control the body ignoring the fact that it has hunger and thirst and a desire to sleep. The body cries clamorously and affirms its existence violently when it is hungry, thirsty or sleepy. When it does that, we cannot say, "You devil, you body! I do not care for you. You are an obstacle in my Yoga practice. I cannot feed you. I cannot quench your thirst and I will not allow you to sleep".
This kind of attitude towards the body will be a ruin of the spiritual aspiration itself. Because, the body is so intimately connected with the mind, and the mind with the spirit, that none of these can be regarded as an absolutely non-essential item. The need for each phase of experience has to be attended to with great wisdom, under the guidance of the preceptor. As is the case with hunger, thirst and sleep, so is the case with every other desire, which has its object either internally or externally. We have social requirements. We have psychological longings. Which of these can be regarded as unimportant, notwithstanding the fact that we are asking for God-realisation? Therefore, we have to disentangle ourselves slowly from these tentacles, which connect us with the external things and internal limitations of our finitude. It is for this purpose that Sadhanas known as Karma, Upasana and Jnana are prescribed.
Karma is the attitude of servicefulness, the practice of Seva, the surrender of one's ego in the interests of a larger area of action known as human society. Upasana is a higher state than Karma. When the mind is sufficiently purified by service, the seeker is ushered into an arena of divine worship. The Guru requires to be served, attended to, and followed implicitly for a protracted period, as a necessary training, indispensable in the case of every student. In ancient days, the service of the Guru was carried on for years together, and sometimes even for a lifetime. The blessing of the Guru was regarded as divine grace itself.
When the Guru is satisfied that the mind of the student has been purified sufficiently, he introduces the latter to the methods of concentration. Concentration in Yoga means the adaptation of the mental atmosphere to the atmosphere of reality, again by gradual stages. Meditation or concentration is the attempt of the mind to unite itself with its concept of reality at any given moment of time. As the concept of reality changes and goes on expanding and improving itself as one progresses higher and higher in the practice, so does Upasana also get intensified gradually.
What is our concept of reality at present? Each one may have his own answer to this question. Anything that is unavoidable in our life is a reality for us. We cannot say that the Creator who is beyond the seven heavens is the only Reality and everything else is unreal. As a theoretical assertion this may sound all right, but Yoga is not a theory. It is intense practice. So, anything without which we cannot get on is our reality, even if it be the silliest thing that one can think of in one's mind. A reality is that which, to us, is an indispensable necessity under a given circumstance at a given moment of time. It cannot be ignored. It has to be taken into account and paid its due, even if that reality be a devil. One cannot get out of the situation merely by calling the reality a devil. When the devil ceases to be a reality, when it becomes an unreality, that is a different matter altogether. But it does not become that.
All the little agonies and anxieties and pin-pricks of our life are all our realities. They are not unrealities and we should not try to get away with the illusory notion that they can be ignored completely. That is why it is only gradually that the mind is led in Upasana from the lowest concept of God to the higher concepts.
In the Bhagavad Gita, reference is made to various types of worships and sacrifices, where the great Master tells us that, in the earlier stages of Tamas, we have a very poor conception of perfection and God. And when Rajas begins to preponderate, we have a better perception; and in Sattva alone we have a perfect conception of God. There are people who worship stones, trees, snakes and totems, imaginary hobgoblins and all sorts of spirits, which are supposed to be pervading the atmosphere. We may be tempted to laugh at these animistic notions of religion and deity as inadequate, but they cannot be laughed at so easily. Because, when the mind is capable accepting only that idea of deity, it can unite itself only with that and with nothing else.
The education of the mind is a gradual process. It is carried on, it is conducted, gradually. And, as we go deeper a deeper in this educational career, we have broader and broader conceptions of our involvements in life, and our concepts of reality also get enlarged slowly. At a very early stage itself, we will not able to meditate on the Father in Heaven as the creator, preserver a destroyer. This is not possible. Who can think of Brahma, Vishnu a Siva while yet a spiritual neophyte? This is not possible. It is hard 1 the mind to entertain such thoughts. In the early stages, we have or such poor titbits of notions of a deity that is somewhere in front us, like a human being, almost like us, in height and girth and capacity. This is our idea of God. Let it be. Even then it is acceptable concept, provided we regard this deity as something superior to us. In Patanjali's system, he gives suggestions for different types of concentration. These include concentration even on human beings of a superior nature, contemplation on whom will purify the mind in some way.
Love of God and the Role of Rituals in Its Development
Worship of God is carried on through various methods, which are elaborated in the Bhakti Yoga system of practice. How do express our love towards any person? This does not require a large commentary. Everyone knows it so well. When we love a person immensely, we would do a thousand things to manifest that love. If an emperor comes to visit our cottage, how do we greet him? We begin to think of his arrival and make preparations even one month before his actual arrival. We are stimulated inside in an anxiety joy, and we put forth our best efforts to satisfy the august visitor. Such should be our love for God, where, in each and every detail, we try to satisfy God. Love does not require an object finally. It self-satisfying and self-complete.
Finally, in the long run, love has object in front of it. It itself is its object. When we do worship of sun with a candle-light or the waving of a camphor flame, we are going to illumine the sun in any way and make it happy on that account. Nor is the ocean going to be satisfied by our doing Abhisheka to it with water. Our devotion is primarily a subjective requirement for self-transformation. We can cite an analogy. A very rich man comes to us with millions of dollars in his pocket. When comes to us, we give him a cup of tea. It does not mean that he is need of it. The need of the person is a different matter. Our offer tea to him is an expression of our respect, regard and affection for him though that little cup of tea, by itself, may mean nothing to him, the rich man that he is. Likewise, we show our regard, love and respect to people even by a mere folding of the hand, which means nothing in essence finally. But it means everything. Everyone knows the value of a 'Namaste'.
So, the love that we cherish for God and the worship that we conduct in respect of Him are to be carried on through rituals in the beginning. One may say that ritual is nonsense. It is not. It is a very essential pillar or leg of the huge edifice of religion. It cannot be said that the leg is unimportant in the human body. The legs are very important, because it is on our legs that we stand. The pillars are important. It cannot be said that pillars are not the building. When the pillars go, the building falls. The ritualistic part of religion is the pillar of the structure of religious practice. It is as important as the feet on which we stand. True, the feet are not the only important limbs of our body; but, their importance cannot be ignored.
In the beginning, religion begins with ritual. It is the case with every religion in the world, and with every form of religion, from the lowest form of religion to the highest form. A ritual or a performance represents an attitude, a conduct, expressed outside in action. We may offer a leaf or pour a drop of water on a piece of stone considering that piece of stone as our God. There begins religion. The stone is not God, but our feeling of the presence of a higher power in it is our God. These are psychological aspects of religion - these rituals in all the various forms that we see in temples and in churches, for instance. The devotee kneels down; he looks up; he folds his hands; he bows his head down and he offers a deeply felt prayer through words of utter affection and agonised feeling of devotion. This he does by ritualistic worships, offerings and sacraments.
While religion starts with ritual, and ritual is an indispensable, unavoidable part of religious devotion, religion rises higher, where the external materials used in ritual lose their importance gradually, and the devotee begins to manifest his devotion to God with lesser accompaniments of material apparatus. In the beginning it looks as if we require a cart-load of material to worship God, and even that stage is an essential stage. When people perform Yajnas or sacrifices, or large temple worships, considerable material is gathered and much money is spent also. That is important enough. But gradually, one rises higher, and one feels that the spending of so much ritualistic material is not, after all, necessary in religion, and one can get on with a few items of worship. It may be just one joss-stick or a piece of camphor or a little Bael leaf, or a leaf of Tulasi or the holy basil. Why, even one spoon of the holy Ganga water offered on the Linga of Siva may be as satisfying to Him as an ocean of milk that may be poured over the same Linga as part of a larger ritualistic worship.
Even higher than this worship with a token offering, like a leaf or a flower representing the heart's love, is the worship through the Name of God. Taking on the Name of God does not require even the little drop of water or milk or honey. It does not require even a leaf or a flower. No, it does not require any material for its fulfilment. Nothing is required from the outside world for the purpose of this kind of worship of God. Here, the mind itself is the apparatus or the instrument of worship, and the thing that is offered at the lotus feet c the Lord is also the mind. The greatest devotion is revealed in acts of mental worship.
way, there is a gradual movement in the history of religious practice
in India, beginning from the Vedic ceremonialism proceeding to the ignorant
contemplations in the Aranyakas, an ending with the pure metaphysical
meditations of the Upanishads. In the beginning, external material is
necessary for worship. Later or one's own self is sufficient for worship.
One's own mind is adequate. In the final stage of worship, the soul of
the devotee itself performs the worship by offering itself, by surrendering
itself, in an intimate union of itself with its Beloved. A chanting of
the Name of God known as Japa, is often considered as one of the best
forms of divine worship, and it is also accompanied by studies of holy
scriptures, an musical recitations of songs in praise of God and His glory,
the type of Satsanga that is usually conducted in many of the Ashrams
Progressively Enlarging Concepts of God
For a long time, God remains only as an outside reality for us. He is an outside reality for most of us, perhaps for every one of us. It is not possible for us to imagine His omnipresence as it would be required under the precepts of the higher texts and admonitions of Yoga. Whatever be the advancement in our religious practice, or in our visualisation of God, or in our concept of God, He still remain outside us. He is outside us per force, because we are not able to forget that we are finite individuals. We are puny individuals, small men and women moving on earth. How can we avoid the notion that God is superior to us, transcendent to us, above us, above the world itself? So, often we look up to the skies when we pray to God. This is a mood in us which we cannot avoid. We do not bury our heads when we pray. We look up in a holy mood of devotion of spirit. The looking up is a psychological gesture of the spirit which regards the transcendence of God as an unavoidable feature in the worship of God. While the transcendence of God does not necessarily warrant a looking up to the skies with physical eyes, it is a gesture, a necessity of the psyche in us; which finds it absolutely essential to manifest its inward moods of the transcendence of God by external gestures of this kind.
In the beginning, our Deity or God appears to be a small individual, almost like a human being, with two ears and two eyes. He may be more brilliant and may be invested with great powers as we can conceive of. But, as we advance in the path of devotion, the concept of God enlarges itself to encompass a large personality, not just like an ordinary human being, but a vast individual pervading the whole universe as the creator, preserver and destroyer. He is the Father mentioned in the Bible; He is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. Still, He is above us. But, a flooding phase of religion takes possession of us when we come to the logical limit of religious notions, when we are transported inwardly by the very thought of God. This transporting, enrapturing and enlivening or, sometimes, agonising devotional attitude or mood arises in us, when even for a split second, we are able to entertain in our minds a correct notion of the all-pervading nature of God. Such a notion does not enter us always. Always we are lukewarm, cold in our spirits.
But sometimes, in some rare, rare moments of our practice, occasionally, during the day, we may be stirred up into this mood of the overmastering ideal of the omnipresence of Divinity, in which context we ourselves do not seem to be anywhere at all. When God is, we are not.
In the beginning, we are rid of the notion of God Himself, and appear to affirm only our own selves and the world in front of us. God does not come into the picture. We feel that He may not be there; and even if He is there, we do not want Him. We have no need for Him. That may be the crudest or physical attitude of the mind, the idea of the rank materialist. Then, we begin to feel a necessity for something superior to us, something higher than us. And, as such a thing that is superior to us cannot be seen with the eyes, we entertain an idea of it in our mind as a concept, as a notion. It thus remains abstract in the earlier stages. At least, it appears to be abstract. And, therefore, at this stage, the feeling that the world is more concrete and real than the abstract idea of God still persists. And doubts arise in the mind: "Am I pursuing a will-o'-the-wisp?". These doubts are dangerous, as Patanjali warns us in one Sutra.
stage in our practice where God may appear to be an idea is unavoidable
for us. But, the idea is not just an abstract, evaporating vapour, as
it were, that exudes from our mind. It is a harder reality than the so-called
solidness or concreteness of things, a fact which we will realise later
on in our spiritual journey. Ideas are more powerful than solid objects,
and they are more real than material things, though we cannot know them
to be so in the early stages of our spiritual practice. The idea of God
is not merely a thought arising in our finite mind, but a precedent concept
which is the pre-condition of even the idea of the world outside. So,
these and other ways are the means of worship of God, by which we can
concentrate the mind on a higher ideal.
How to Concentrate
Ways and means by which the mind can be concentrated are almost infinite in number. One of the methods is Isvara-Pranidhana, worship of God, surrender of oneself to God, dedication of oneself to one's great Deity. This is done through a devotion, which is to be Samvega or overmastering and taking possession of the spiritual seeker wholly and entirely, root and branch. But, the predilections of the mind being various, we may have to feed the mind with different methods of concentration, as we feed our body with different kinds of diet every day. Though diet is our main objective, we change the inner detail of the diet to suit the mind and the body.
Likewise, the forms of concentration may have to be adapted to the particular needs of the moods of the mind at any time, and the student of Yoga must know whether he is an emotional type, an active type, a psychic type, or a rational type. Whatever be one's mood, whatever be one's general trend of thinking, that should be one's way.
And so, the Yoga student should try to adopt all means available, and not give to the mind only one uniform diet. For instance, there are people who are devoted to the chanting of the Divine Name. It does not mean that they should not read scriptures or sing songs by way of glorifying God. One may even dance in ecstasy; sometimes one feels like that. Again, the student of Yoga may seek the company of holy saints and sages. He may attend Satsanga and discourses. He may even go on a pilgrimage. Sometimes, even that is felt as a necessity under certain moods. Every mood has to be attended to carefully.
Every blessed method available and practicable has to be adopted in the restraint of the mind. Whatever attracts our attention and makes us feel that it is something grand and glorious and desirable may be regarded as our object of concentration. Yathabhimata-dhyanad va - As you deem it proper, so may it be concentrated upon. Very generous is this instruction of Patanjali. He does not tie us down to any stereotyped technique of tradition. While he has suggested many methods, finally he says, "Yathecchasi Tatha Kuru". Whatever is to your liking, follow that - that is what it means.
However, we have to be cautious enough to remember that concentration means fixing of the mind on anything to the exclusion of every other thought. The object that is chosen is not so important as the method that is adopted. The purpose of concentration and meditation is essentially the freedom of the mind from its finitude and attachment to the body, and the idea that objects exist outside. This is the essential point to be remembered. And for achieving this purpose, we employ various means or techniques of concentration.
The mind is like a web that is knit together by warp and woof, as in a fabric. The existence of the mind is the same as the function of the mind in terms of a notion of externality of things. The mind exists only by being fed by the idea that objects exist outside. So, it is a big complex; it is a tension that we call the mind. A tense state of affairs in which the consciousness is involved, a kind of whirl in which the consciousness is caught up, is the mind. And so, it is like a knot in some way. It is not a thing. It is not a substance. Ultimately, the mind is not different from consciousness. It is like a concentration of the waters of the ocean in a particular spot, driven there by a great force, creating a whirl in a particular manner. This whirl of consciousness at a particular spot, in space and in time, is the mind. And we have to disentangle ourselves from this whirl with great caution. Concentration of the mind is the hammering of a particular idea into the mind, as we try to break through the whirl by hitting it violently by some means.
Concentration on any idea or ideal, external or internal, breaks this knot of the mind, and then we know what is behind the mind automatically. The purpose of concentration is to break through the bubble of the mind, which covers the inner eye, like the cataract which obstructs the vision and makes one see things as they are not. That is why concentration is advised even on such little things as a candle flame or a rose flower or even a dot on the wall.
The Yoga student may wonder how these things will help him. The dot on the wall is certainly not God. How does it help then? It helps, because it has a psychological effect. It does not matter what it is that one is taking as the object of concentration. The point is that one should not think of anything else. The mind exists as a finite centre of experience by imagining externality, and it can be overcome, subdued and transcended or transformed only by assuring ourselves that in the concentration that we practise, the idea or the notion of externality is completely avoided. When we think of the dot on the wall, if we think of it with deep concentration, then we cannot even see the wall outside the dot. Those who are familiar with the Mahabharata know the story of the tournament arranged by Acharya Drona for the Pandavas and the Kauravas. The test of concentration which Dronacharya arranged for those boys was like this. There was a tree with many branches. In one fine twig, he hung a wooden bird. The eye of the bird was looking like a black spot, and that eye was to be shot by the arrow.
So he asked the boys: "Concentrate yourself on the eye of that bird and hit it. Look! What do you see?". "Well," one said, "well, I see a bird sitting on the tree". Dronacharya said, "You are unfit. You are not able to concentrate". Then he asked another, "What do you see?". "I see the bird sitting on the branch." "No, you are not able to concentrate." Then he asked Yudhishthira, "What do you see?". "I see only the eye." "No. No good." he said. He asked Ariuna. Arjuna said, "I see only the black spot. I see nothing else". "Yes, you are the man" said Dronacharya, "Hit it!" Arjuna's concentration was so intense that he could see only the black spot. He could not see even the eye of the bird there, let alone the bird and the tree and the people around. That was Arjuna. But when we sit for concentration, we begin to see not only the object of concentration, but also all sorts of things. Now, that is not proper concentration.
The idea behind concentration, to repeat again, is that we should not have any idea of externality. Keeping this essential requirement in mind, we may choose any object for our meditation, right from the smallest pebble on the bank of the Ganga to the great notion of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva or the Supreme Creator, Preserver and Destroyer.
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