Question: What is the relationship between concentration, meditation and contemplation?

Sri Chinmoy: In our spiritual life we start with concentration, then we enter into meditation and finally we enter into contemplation. When we want to develop will power, we concentrate. The mind is restless; constantly it moves from one idea to another. It cannot think of one thing for more than a fleeting minute. In concentration we focus only on one particular object or subject. We do not allow anything else to enter into our mind. If we know how to focus our concentration on a particular spot or on one of our chakras, we can concentrate on this. Through concentration we will be able to throw aside the many uncomely thoughts and undivine ideas that are in the mind.

Concentration acts like an arrow in the spiritual life. If doubt enters into our mind, the power of concentration will tear doubt to pieces. If fear enters into our mind, the power of concentration will chase away our fear. Concentration clears the way so that the traveller can walk along the path of meditation. How can we develop the power of concentration? We can develop concentration by leading a disciplined life, a pure life. Of course, if the seeker has a Master, the Master will be able to surcharge the seeker's life with the power of concentration. If we are concentrating on our Master, the Master is the only thing in our existence. At that time, nobody else exists for us. We don't look forward, backward or upward. Only the Master is in our mind. This is concentration: one-pointed attention on a particular thing.

When we have become successful in concentration, we enter into the domain of meditation. When we enter into meditation, we try to receive inner peace, light and bliss. Meditation is a vast realm. There we try to enter into the reality which is called peace, light and bliss. Concentration focuses on a very small thing, but meditation deals with the vast.

When we meditate, we enter into the vast sea, the vast sky, and the reality of that vastness enters into our meditation. In meditation we see the whole sea all at once, whereas in concentration we take it drop by drop.

In contemplation we again go one step further. In contemplation we enter into the reality and the reality becomes part and parcel of our life. When we meditate on the sea or the sky, we enter into the consciousness of that vastness. But when we contemplate, that consciousness becomes our very own. So contemplation is the last stage. We start with concentration, then we enter into meditation and finally we go to contemplation. Contemplation offers us the message of oneness. The divine lover, the God-lover, becomes inseparably one with his supreme Beloved. The seeker becomes inseparably one with God. Vision becomes inseparably one with Reality. The seeker and the Truth become inseparably one in contemplation. The finite becomes inseparably one with the Infinite. A tiny drop enters into the ocean and loses its individuality and personality and becomes the ocean itself. Inseparable oneness with the highest Absolute we get from contemplation.