Inspirational Living: Life Lessons for Success & Happiness

Concentration and Meditation | Swami Paramananda

September 6, 2018

Listen to episode 298 of the Inspirational Living podcast: Concentration and Meditation. Edited and adapted from Concentration and Meditation by Swami Paramananda.

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Today’s reading was edited and adapted from Concentration and Meditation by Swami Paramananda, published in 1921.

WE all possess the faculty of concentration, but with the majority it is instinctive and automatic, not conscious. Even among the animals, we see how a lion or tiger will gather their strength by a moment of absolute stillness before they spring upon their prey.That automatic, instinctive power of concentration is embedded in every living creature. But until we can gain conscious command over our mental and spiritual forces, we can never have complete concentration.

When the scattered mind is gathered together, it is like a bright searchlight, and by it we are able to investigate the latent powers which we possess, but of which we are not now wholly aware. And as we grow more conscious of these hidden forces and learn to use them, we become more and more proficient with them.

We never wish to be defeated, and yet how often our strength of mind or our physical capacities prove inadequate. It is because we have not the full and conscious possession of our whole being. We cannot achieve much unless we have free use of our hands and feet, free use of our eyes and ears, free use of our muscles, and above all free use of our mind and intelligence. But how many of us have the free use of all these? When we would make use of them, we find them hopelessly scattered and rebellious to our will.

The cause of this does not lie in any inherent lack of power, but in our inability to coordinate, and in our lack of a definite singular purpose. We miss the mark because we do not set our aim properly. Once in ancient India there was a tournament held to test marksmanship in archery. A wooden fish was set up on a high pole and the eye of the fish was the target. One by one, many valiant archers came and tried their skill but in vain.

Before each one shot their arrow, the teacher asked them what they saw, and invariably all replied that they saw a fish on a pole at a great height, with head, eyes, etc.; but Arjuna as he took his aim said: "I see the eye of the fish." — and he was the only one who succeeded in hitting the mark.