Question: Can you please define for us concentration, meditation and contemplation, and tell us how they differ from each other?

Sri Chinmoy: Concentration. When we concentrate, we focus all our attention on a particular subject or object. When we try to concentrate, we have to feel that right in front of us there is nothing but that object. (Holding the petal of a flower) This is the petal. I have not to see anything else. I do not have to see my finger, or the rest of the flower. No, only this one petal. Feel that only you and the petal exist, nothing else; not the rest of the world. From this kind of concentration, you will get the essence, the quintessence of the petal.

Meditation. Let us not meditate on this petal. Let us try to meditate on something vast. When we meditate, let us see right in front of us the sea, or the sky, or the Himalayas. Concentration paved the way. While I was concentrating, I was not thinking of my students, my disciples or my friends. I was only concentrating my whole attention on the petal. While one meditates, one has to try to expand one's consciousness to encompass the vast sea, or the vast blue sky. One has to expand oneself like a bird spreading its wings. We have to expand our finite consciousness, since just because we are bound, we are unhappy. If we can free ourselves from the meshes of ignorance, then we become all-pervading. We enter into the Universal Consciousness where there is no fear, no jealousy, no doubt, no fault. There is all joy, peace and divine power. In meditation there is no thought — no limiting thought, no destructive or undivine thought — no thought at all. That is why we can meditate on the vast.

Contemplation. When we contemplate, we have to feel our entire existence — body, vital, mind, heart and soul — as inseparably one. Again, we have to feel that we are not the body, and that we don't have to be bound by the limitations of the body. I spoke just half an hour ago of Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. These are all vague terms right now. But when we contemplate, our whole existence enters into the consciousness of Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. By concentration we become one-pointed, and from meditation we expand our consciousness into the vast. In contemplation we grow into the vastness itself. We have seen the truth. We have felt the truth. But the most important thing is to grow into the truth. What we have seen and felt in meditation, we grow into and unite with totally in contemplation. At that time, when we look at our own existence, we don't see a human being; we see something like a dynamo of light, peace and bliss. This is what contemplation does for us.