Have you ever been so immersed in an activity that you forgot what was happening around you?

Sometimes, working on an interesting project, I lose track of time and it is only when the phone rings, for instance, that I return to where I am.  I used to feel that this sort of deep concentration, when we are not aware of even our problems, was the same as meditation.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba taught otherwise.  He said, “Many people think that concentration is the same thing as meditation, but there is no such connection between concentration and meditation.

Concentration is something which is below your senses, whereas meditation is something above it.  But many are under the false impression that concentration is identical with meditation, and they take the wrong path.”

Happily, I learned to distinguish.  In meditation I am above all worldly matters, including the pull of my senses. I am not connected to the mind or thoughts. 

“Concentration is something which we use involuntarily in our daily, normal, routine life,” Beloved Baba of Puttaparthi once demonstrated.  “Just look at this, I am now reading the newspaper.  My eyes are looking at the letters.

My hand is holding the paper.  My intelligence is active. Thus when the eyes are doing their work, the hand is doing its work, and when the intelligence is doing its work, and the mind is also oing its work, and there is the coordinated action of the mind, intelligence, hand and eyes, I am able to get the contents of the newspaper. 

It means, if I want to get at the matter that is contained in the newspaper, all these enumerated senses are concentrated and they are all coordinated and are concentrated and are working on the newspaper….  All the normal routines like walking, talking, reading, writing, all these things we do only as a result of concentration.”

During deep meditation we are free from thought, word, and deed.  But to accomplish our worldly duties, to carry out our activities, and to achieve our goals, our spiritual goals included, we must concentrate.

Lord Sai, made it clear, “Without concentration nothing can be done.  And we use that concentration throughout the day. Concentration is difficult in spiritual matters because the mind is outward turned and by desire the mind clings to objects.  But the mind can be trained to concentrate inwardly, and the heart can be cultured to grow with love for God.”

Now that Swami has dropped his human form and returned to the Formless, for many of us it is necessary to focus on a picture of him during our prayers and communions with him. He himself has suggested, “It is not practical to attempt to concentrate on that which has no form.  To concentrate on the jyoti (flame), is an illustration.

The object of concentration can be sound, form or jyoti, etc.  It needs to be something concrete.  It is not easy to fix the mind on the abstract.”

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