by Swami Bhaskarananda
Over the years many people have come and said to me, “I don’t have any power of concentration.” But there is no valid basis for such thinking. Everyone, even a child, can concentrate. While watching cartoons, children display great concentration. At that time their minds appear to be glued to the TV screen.
It is not true that we cannot concentrate. What we lack is the ability to concentrate our minds on everything, and under all circumstances. It is easy to concentrate on what is pleasant. The difficulty arises when we have to concentrate on something unpleasant. A student finds it hard to concentrate on a dull and uninteresting book. A parishioner feels drowsy when listening to a boring sermon. We must learn to concentrate on whatever we do, whether pleasant or unpleasant, as long as it is beneficial for us. Meditation—training in concentration—teaches this. Concentration is indispensable in achieving any success in life.
We should meditate in order to achieve the highest goal of human life—experiencing Divinity or the Ultimate Truth. But meditation is only a means. It is not the goal itself.
Hinduism speaks of the presence of Divinity in every human being. At any given point in time Divinity is equally present in all, but not equally manifest. The purpose of all spiritual practices, including meditation, is to fully manifest this inherent Divinity.
This Divinity is our true Self. It forms the very core of our being. We can give up whatever is extraneous, but not that which forms the very core of our existence. Sooner or later this true Self, this Divinity, must manifest itself. All without exception will eventually experience this Divine Self manifested in them in Its infinite splendor. This is God-realization. This is the inevitable goal of human life.
Hinduism teaches that Infinite Bliss is one of the principal aspects of Divinity. We all yearn for joy. This longing is expressed through craving for money, sense pleasure, name, fame, power and position. Through all these cravings we are unconsciously trying to reach our Divine Self—Infinite Bliss. No matter how much pleasure, money, power or fame we have, we are never satisfied. We yearn for more. Finding lasting satisfaction through them is impossible, because the joy derived from them is finite. Only Infinite Joy can satisfy us. Eventually we realize that searching for Infinite Joy through finite and external means will lead us nowhere.
This realization will inspire us to turn around and consciously search for that fountain of Infinite Bliss within. When we arrive at this perennial source of Bliss all our wants and cravings will disappear forever. We will then experience God, the all-pervading Divinity, as Supreme Bliss—both within ourselves and without—in everything that exists in this entire interminable universe. We will experience God as the essence of every thing and every being. We will love all—even our enemies—because we will see no enemy anywhere. In this state, any interaction with the world will be a most joyous and rewarding experience, because it is no other than directly interacting with God. We will no longer identify with our body-mind-complex, which is subject to birth, change, decay and death. We will gain the unshakable conviction that we are the eternal Divine Spirit—deathless and birthless. Thus we will transcend all fear, suffering and sorrow.