Sep 28, 2017

True Concentration

Concentration of the Right
Sort Produces a Buddha or a Christ

John Garrigues




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Editorial Note:

The following text was first published
anonymously at “Theosophy” magazine, in November
1926, pages 31-32. An examination of its contents and
style indicates it was written by John Garrigues. Original
title: “Concentration”. In order to make a contemplative
reading easier, we have divided some paragraphs into
smaller ones. In one of the concluding paragraphs, we
have underlined a few words and put them in bold type.

 (Carlos Cardoso Aveline)

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Certain rediscovered, or half-discovered, secrets of Hatha-Yoga have given rise to innumerable cults devoted to the attainment of one or another personal object through “concentration”, or “meditation”.

Truly there is a tremendous power in the art of concentration, a power of such nature as would be better understood before the beginning of its practices.

Concentration of the right sort produces a Buddha or a Christ. Concentration of the wrong sort - the only kind known to modern exponents - produces a Kansa [1], a Judas - or a medium.

Concentration, like any other act, implies a subject and an object, an actor and that which is acted upon. Of the many possible fields of application within the human constitution, not one is understood by the modern West. There is concentration upon a special field of nature; there is concentration upon a special object within that field.

The desire principle, Kama, being the motive power of the average human being, necessarily absorbs ninety-nine per cent of his power of attention. With most this is an aimless flitting from one object of the senses to another. The man selects for himself no special object upon which to concentrate his life’s ambition. Life is thus frittered away in the endless pursuit of gratification, with no permanent effect upon character other than a tendency to repeat the process in future lives.

Some few place before themselves the attainment of a definite ambition. If the will be powerful enough to concentrate on that, the ambition is attained. Such men are our modern Morgans, Rockefellers, etc. [2] Such products of the power of meditation also are great artists, geniuses in special lines: powers brought about by one-sided concentration carried out through more than one lifetime. And this likewise is no permanent sowing except for a greater crystallization of the same tendency, the continual repetition of a structure doomed to crumble at the end of each life cycle.

Such material successes know the power of concentration, but they know not the vital distinction between that which is soul and that which is not soul - between the everlasting and the ever fleeting.

It is said of Buddha, that to become such, the will for spiritual achievement had to be held unbroken through countless incarnations.

Not all of us can become Buddhas in this Manvantara [3]; but those who know anything of the reality of spirit understand that the vastest material gain is worthless beside even the slightest modicum of permanent growth. The building of permanence comes not from concentration upon the gathering to oneself of material gains; it comes from concentration upon the doing of material deeds for the achievement of spiritual ends.

True concentration is of a dual nature: fixed concentration of will upon the efficient doing of whatever lies at hand to be done, and an equally constant grasp upon the true reason for the doing; that reason being the performance of action to the benefit of all beings. Thus one becomes an impersonal force in nature which has no reason to act for itself.

In life on this earth, we find ourselves seemingly chained. This is due to misunderstanding of the object of life and of That which lives this life. To maintain existence, we have to perform actions. Since material life moves forever between the great pairs of opposites, no man can achieve a position of complete freedom from tedious or unpleasant action. Therefore we strive in vain to escape from necessary duties and to follow the lure of desire. Unsuccessful striving results in deeply chafed sores from the binding irons; successful striving but exposes the fact that we have exchanged old fetters for new.

Any being performing duty, not for self, but because it is duty, reaches the condition of soul wherein there is indifference as to the nature of action so long as it is action done for the common good. And in so doing, he discovers that the illusion that happiness depended upon sensation is only a dream. True happiness arises spontaneously from within; this whenever the Self is freed from outward-reaching desires.

Physical and mental concentration upon the correct performance of action are necessary in order that the wheel of life may turn smoothly, and the destinies of creatures be not thrown into confusion. Spiritual meditation is to be placed upon Ishwara, the Inner Self, which is “untouched by troubles, works, fruits of works, or desires”. This is the road to release from the pains and penalties of selfishness - from the dungeons of human limitation, and from all Karma. [4]

Concentration, then, may be regarded as universal - that which maintains manifestation throughout the term of a cycle, or period of evolution; as Hierarchical [5] within the greater cycle - that which maintains any given state of consciousness and action; and as individual or personal - that which maintains the identity of the being, whether in a given form, a given state, a given Hierarchy, or throughout the entire vast cycle of Manvantara.

This latter is Spiritual concentration, whose cultivation is the real Object of all finite existences. It is exemplified in the Masters of Wisdom.

Any other form of Concentration is perishable, because [it is] only a means to an end, itself finite and mortal.

NOTES:

[1] Kansa. In the classic narrative of the Hindu “Mahabharata”, Kansa, Arjuna’s uncle, was a traitor. Arjuna is the main character of the “Bhagavad Gita”, which is part of the Mahabharata. (CCA)

[2] Morgan, Rockefeller. Two famous millionaires of the United States during the 20th century.(CCA)

[3] Manvantara. The long period of objective manifestation of the Universe, which alternates with Pralaya, the period of non-manifestation. (CCA)

[4]… to release … from all Karma”. Garrigues is making a reference to the liberation from all lower kinds of Karma. The word “Karma” means Action, and the entire Universe is in Movement and Action according to the Law of Karma. The highest and most spiritual intelligences humbly express the law of karma and justice. Even the duration of Manvantaras and the intervals between them are regulated by the Law of equilibrium and harmony. The Buddhas and other planetary and universal intelligences are all at the service of the Law of Karma, and so are the Masters of Eastern Wisdom who inspire the theosophical movement. (CCA)

[5] Hierarchical: which refers to the hierarchies of divine intelligences. (CCA)

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On 14 September 2016, after examining the state of the esoteric movement worldwide, a group of students decided to found the Independent Lodge of Theosophists. Two of the priorities adopted by the ILT are learning from the past and building a better future.

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