Question: Is there a difference between concentration and meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: When we concentrate, we focus all our energy, all our attention on one subject or object. We do not allow even an iota of thought to enter into our mind, because each thought is like a dark spot on the tablet of our heart. We usually try to concentrate on something very small: tiny, tinier, tiniest. But when we meditate, we meditate on something very vast. At that time we are deeply absorbed in the vastness of the reality. When we concentrate, we try to get the minute reality so that we can become part and parcel of that reality. Then, from there we grow into the vast. But when we meditate, right from the beginning we try to deal with the vastness itself.

Concentration paves the way for meditation by making the mind calm and quiet. Concentration won’t allow any thought, even an iota of thought, to enter into the mind. It is like a guard standing at the door who will not allow anybody to enter. This is concentration. But when we meditate, the mind is already calm and quiet. At that time, we can observe which thoughts are friends and which are enemies. If it is a good thought, a divine thought, a glowing, illumining and fulfilling thought, then we will allow it to enter, because this kind of thought is our real friend. But if fear, doubt, anxiety, worry, jealousy and all these ideas come, we don’t allow them in.

Concentration demands swiftness in the mind. The mind will run very fast to enter into the object or subject so that it can become part and parcel of its reality. At the same time, concentration demands alertness. The mind will not allow anything to enter into it. Concentration has to be practised before one practises meditation. It is like the first rung of a ladder. We have to step on the first rung in order to step on the second.