Sri Chinmoy: There are three steps in the spiritual life: concentration, meditation and contemplation. Aspiration embodies all three of these divine qualities. We have to do first things first. If we cannot concentrate, then we cannot succeed in anything. If a student does not know how to concentrate on his studies, then he may fail every year. He will study, but if he has no power of concentration, then he won't remember anything.
The spiritual life also is a form of study. It is an inner study which is infinitely more difficult to learn. Once we start getting the result of this study, which is inner knowledge, at that time we feel that this knowledge is infinitely more important than the outer knowledge. So in the spiritual life we have to use our concentration at every second. If we do not know how to concentrate, then we are lost; we are doomed. We may meditate for ten hours, but we will not get any satisfactory result.
Concentration is our total or integral attention on a particular subject. We focus our attention on an object or subject and totally forget about the rest of the world. We do not allow the rest of the world to enter into our mind. Only we and the object of our concentration exist. When there is no third person before us or around us, that is concentration.
Even while we are doing japa, repeating God's Name, then also we can concentrate. In between each repetition there is a gap. During each gap we have to feel that there is nothing. Similarly, while we are concentrating, we have to feel that nothing exists between us and the object we are concentrating on.
In the ordinary life when we look at our fingers, the pinky may get sixty per cent of our attention, the ring finger may get twenty per cent, and the other fingers will get the rest. One is getting more attention than the others, true; but it is not getting one hundred per cent of our attention. When we concentrate various other things remain around us, like the other fingers. We may think of our breakfast or what somebody has said. These ideas are all around us like our other four fingers. But all our attention remains on the object of concentration. The pinky will get one hundred per cent of our concentration. In this way the seeker develops his power of concentration. Once he has achieved the power of concentration, then meditation becomes extremely easy. And when one has the capacity to do deeper and higher meditation, then contemplation becomes easy. So in this way we progress.