Mr CPN Singh, Member of Parliament (India): With the kind of life we have and the kind of world we live in, it is not easy to sit and be with oneself. You said there are many things that we do in the mind. The first thing to do would be to shut out the other influences or other vibrations one gets. How does one do that?

Sri Chinmoy: In the spiritual life we need three things in order to reach the highest, ultimate goal: concentration, meditation and contemplation. There are various things we can concentrate on. But if we concentrate on our third eye, that is absolutely the best. We have two human eyes. In between our two human eyes and just a little above is the third eye. It is not visible. Let us concentrate on that spot and try to imagine something that inspires us. It can be the sun or the moon or anything that is way up in the sky and looks very small. For concentration, it is necessary that the object be small, not big. In fact, it is best to concentrate on as small an object as possible — something smaller than the smallest. But when we meditate, we meditate on something that is vast, larger than the largest — like the ocean or sky. That is one difference between concentration and meditation.

If I am concentrating on my third eye, I will imagine that I have a room right behind my head where a friend of mine lives. This friend is my determination and adamantine will-power. It is like a being who is guarding me. Whenever a thought tries to enter my mind, my most powerful friend will not allow it to enter. Then, after a few months or a few years or when I have made some progress in my spiritual life, this friend will allow in only good thoughts, divine thoughts — thoughts that say, "I am of God and I am for God; I have the Light and I shall share the Light with suffering humanity." But my friend will not allow in any divisive thoughts that come. If the idea tries to enter into my mind that I want to be superior to all, that I want to surpass everyone and be an autocrat, a monarch, a sovereign — that kind of idea will not be allowed in. The thought that wants to say, like Julius Caesar, "I came, I saw, I conquered!" will not be permitted to enter. Any vital thoughts, emotional thoughts, impure thoughts that want to enter, my friend will not allow. My friend will-power shall allow only good thoughts, divine thoughts, encouraging thoughts, illumining thoughts to enter.

There is also another way to concentrate that is very easy. When we concentrate on the third eye, we cannot see it with our naked eye. We have to imagine it. But if we concentrate on the tip of our thumb, there is nothing we have to imagine. Right at this moment, I am seeing my hand, my fingers and finally the tip of my thumb. Gradually, gradually, gradually I am narrowing my focus until nothing else exists for me but the tip of my thumb. This is the job at hand, the goal, and I shall concentrate only on this and not see anything else.

Or if you find this exercise difficult, just place a tiny circle on a wall at eye level and stand in front of it. Preferably, the circle should be black. At first you will see the whole wall; then you will see just two or three metres to either side of the mark. Finally, you will be able to focus your attention entirely on that particular mark and not see anything else. While you are concentrating on the spot, you will see that the divine thoughts that are entering into your mind are becoming extremely powerful, while the undivine thoughts are becoming weak, extremely weak — almost dead. In this way eventually only divine thoughts will be able to operate inside you.

So these are two practical ways to develop the power of concentration. It is only a matter of daily practice. The main thing when you concentrate is to have in front of you an object that is as small as possible and to focus your eyes only on that thing. But when you meditate, you will meditate on something that is very vast. When you meditate on the sky or the ocean, you will feel peace enter into you, and you will feel yourself expanding.

When you are concentrating, you have to think that you are a divine warrior, a hero. But when you are meditating, you will have a totally different view. You will feel that you are a seeker who wants to offer peace to the entire world. Here you are in the sea of peace, and this peace you want to offer to the world. This is meditation.

Another way to concentrate and meditate is to take each thought that comes — whether good or bad — as an enemy. You want to have peace of mind; you want to have joy inside you; you want to dive deep within. Right now you do not know which thoughts will be good and which will be bad. So you have to regard all of them as enemies.

Take each thought that comes as a fly sitting on your shoulder or your nose. You will just cast it aside because it is bothering you. In the beginning the flies will bother you. But you have to be persistent. Everything in life has pride in it. Ego is in everything right from the very beginning of creation. Even a thought will say, "If you do not give me shelter, I will not come any more." If someone bothers you and you do not pay attention to that person, they will see that they are not wanted. Let us say I am dying of starvation and you are very rich, but you are not giving me any food. Ten times I will go to you, but then I will say, "No, it is beneath my dignity to go to him again. I would rather die here." So the fly-consciousness also feels that. It will come and bother you a number of times, but if you do not pay any attention to it, then the fly-consciousness will say, "If you do not need me, am I going to go to your house any more? I have some other places to go." Then it leaves you.

Take unwanted thoughts as unwanted guests. If a monkey comes and bothers us and if we pay no attention to it, then the monkey will feel, "I am not wanted! I am not needed!" and it will disappear. Unwanted thoughts will definitely go away; it is only a matter of a few days or a few months. Whenever any thought comes, if you do not give it shelter, then easily you will be able to reach the point where you are not disturbed by any thoughts.

The third rung on the spiritual ladder is called contemplation. Here we pray to God and meditate on God the Supreme Beloved. At first we feel that He is the Supreme Beloved and that we are His divine lover. Then we feel that we are the Supreme Beloved and He is our divine Lover. It is a game. Sometimes He is hiding and we are seeking Him; sometimes we are hiding and He is seeking us. This is the game that the Supreme plays with the seeker who has reached the highest stage which is contemplation.

Concentration is like an arrow, a rocket, aiming at the goal. Meditation is all vastness and peace. And contemplation is a game of hide-and-seek that the Supreme Beloved and divine lover play.