The Power of Concentration

The East Indian magicians are keenly aware of the wonderful power of the human mind when it is mastered, developed, and manifested in the process of concentration. They have devised methods of applying that power most effectively. In fact, the word "concentration" fully expresses the fundamental working principle of oriental magic and psychic powers.

The Hindu teaching is that only by and through concentration are possible the manifestations of the Creative Mind Principle—the creation of the mental image (or ideal) being so clearly and powerfully held that the materialization thereof follows in an efficient manner and degree. The teaching is that mind-power, like any other kind of power, manifests intensively only when its field is narrowed and its energies are focused to a fine point in concentration.

The magicians in their supernormal control of Nature, have mastered the science of concentration. They have done this through the careful study of Yoga, and by diligent practice have put into effect the methods of Pratyahara, Dharana, and Dhyana achieving mastery of the mind. They have also acquired the art of perfect concentration in mastering its two cardinal principles, viz., (1) the focusing or bringing to "one pointedness" the attention, and holding this upon the desired objective; and (2) the inhibiting or "shutting out" of all outside distractions that would in any way interfere with their complete concentration. Such is the mastery of the magician.

The magician has also acquired the equally important skill of being able to close the doors of attention and thought upon any subject or object, after he has completed his concentrated consideration thereof. Thus, he keeps his mind free and unhampered at all times, so that he may give his full and undivided attention to each new thing that demands the use of his mind. The magician's attention is like a great searchlight which is applied with intense power to any object upon which it is turned, but which is easily turned away from that object when the purpose of the application of its light has been accomplished. In other words, the magician is able to detach his mind from any and all subjects at will—thus giving the mind relaxation and rest when such are needed, building mental strength.

There is a lesson here from the East to the West, as many great occidental scholars are able to think, but are not able "not to think" at will. Both of these positive and negative aspects of thought are of equal importance, and both are achieved by the magician.

I will now give you specific instruction in developing the power of your concentration in the exact manner of the East Indian magician. In this instruction, consider the basic principle as the main thing, allowing the details to be secondary, as such may possibly be varied to suit your own particular accomplishments. There is much food for thought in this phase of the instruction, and if it is your desire to learn of the presentation of the real magic of India, I suggest that you devote care, time, and attention to the mastery of magician concentration.

As is well known, the crystal ball is much used by Hindu magicians. Western people often tend to regard the crystal as something mysterious, actually, as used in India, it is not mysterious in the least, it functions entirely as a scientific instrument providing a focusing point for concentration.

The Kandariya Mahadev Temple, located at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh State, India. The temple was built during the tenth century by the Rajput kings. It is dedicated tö the Hindu god Siva.

Interior carved entirely of white marble of the fabulous Jain Temple located on top of Mt. Abu in Dilwara, Rajasthan, India.

The Hindu teaching strongly advises the initiates to use the crystal as they learn to the art of concentration, and many of the most advanced manifestations of magic are performed by concentrated visualization aided by the crystal ball, as a focal center. Particularly in the training period of the magician is it invariably employed.

The general rule for using the crystal ball by the Yogis is as follows: (a) Place the crystal either in the palm of the hand, or else place it on a table or stand in front of you. (b) Throw the mind blank by inhibiting sensations and outside thoughts, so that "the lake of the Chitta is free from the ripples of the Vrittis." (c) Gaze intently (but not in a strained manner) into the crystal, at the same time fixing and keeping the mind firmly concentrated upon some particular subject, object, or mental picture.

Basically that is the entirety of the instruction. I shall give you some particular and additional features when we reach the study of visualization, but the above is sufficient for the commencement of training, development, and perfecting of the powers of concentration. Also, I want you to read into my instructions, as we proceed, that the crystal ball is always to be used when the purpose is the focusing of attention and thought. Let the crystal ball be the

pivoting point around which other instructions revolve. Its use is one of the great secrets of oriental magic.

According to the Yoga teachings, the main purpose of concentration is to get the chitta (or mind stuff) closely focused, or gathered together at one particular point in consciousness. In order to do this, the vrittas (or thought disturbances), must be suppressed, and the bosom of the mental lake of chitta must be kept placid and still, except at the one, tiny concentrated point at which the attention and thought are focused by means of the instrument of the crystal. In this way, there is obtained that "unity of consciousness" and "one pointedness of mind" which is so stressed in the Hindu teachings of real magic.

The venerable Patanjali states, "Binding and holding the mind-stuff to a place in fixed attention is the secret of Dharana. And such fixed attention is possible only when the mind is centered upon one particular point or object in space. To this objective, the use of the crystal ball is admirable."

There is nothing metaphysical in the slightest about the oriental practices of concentration and using the crystal ball for this purpose. The training is decidedly practical for developing perfection of the will and thought for the purpose of concentrated visualization. With practice one will achieve the "knack" of fixing and holding in mind the subject, object, idea, or mental-image connected with the purpose in question. With this knack one will be commencing to achieve a mastery of magic.

The Yogi in teaching concentration to an initiate will ask this question, "Can you concentrate?" The man will answer, "Yes or no, or else say that it is very difficult." To which the Yogi will ask, "Can you pay attention to a thing?" To this question, the answer is invariably "Yes." The Yogi will say, "Very good, for Yoga Concentration is attention. If you pay attention to what you do, your mind will be concentrated."

Many who sit down for Yoga Concentration wonder why they do not succeed. How possibly can one expect that a half hour of Yoga meditation and twenty-three-and-a-half-hours of scattering of thought through the day and night will enable you to concentrate correctly during the half hour? You must literally reverse the process, and practice practical, concrete concentration every hour of your active life, instead of adhering to the habit of scattering your thoughts idly about incessantly. Then you will succeed.

To acquire this habit of continuous concentration, you must pay deliberate attention to every thing you do everyday. When you start the practice, possibly it will be made easier at first only to select out a portion of the day's work, and doing that portion give it unflagging attention. Hold your mind under control and do not let it wander from the thing before you. It does not matter what the thing is. It may be adding up a column of figures, or the reading of a book. Anything will do. It is the attention of the mind which is important; not the object before it. Gradually you can increase the portions of your life in which you give real attention to things. In time, the giving of complete attention will become your habit of thought, and you will then be on your way of learning Yoga Concentration which makes possible the power of concentration.

Parimal Bandhu offers these practical suggestions for training concentration: "Fix your mind rigidly on the work before you for the time being, and when you are done with it, drop it. Practice steadily this method of doing things, and in a surprisingly short time you will find that it will become your natural way, and the concentration of the mind—in attention—will become a habit.

"Or suppose you are an intelligent person fond of reasoning; in this the main exercising of your mind will have been the connecting link of thought and argument. Utilize this past training, but do not imagine that you can make your mind still by a single effort. Follow a logical chain of reasoning, step by step, link after link, and do not allow the mind to swerve a hairs breath from it. Do not allow the mind to go aside to other lines of thought. Keep it rigidly along a single line, and steadiness will gradually result. Then, when you have worked up to your highest point of reasoning, and reached the last link of your chain of argument, and your mind will carry you no further, and beyond which you can see nothing—THEN STOP. Hold fast to that last link of the chain, and keep the mind poised, in steadiness and strenuous quiet, waiting for what may come.

The Chauragash or "Trident Shrine," located 4000 feet in the Rachmarhi Range at Medhya Pradesh. One of the most unique shrines in the world where it is said that Lord Shiva, being pursued by Daemons (the Bhasmarsura) ran for safety, dropped his trident, and hid in a cave. Devotees bring tridents here and deposit them for eternity. It is believed that to remove a trident from this sacred spot of the Hindus is to court perpetual evil. (Courtesy the Prof. S. C. Bose Collection, India)

The Chauragash or "Trident Shrine," located 4000 feet in the Rachmarhi Range at Medhya Pradesh. One of the most unique shrines in the world where it is said that Lord Shiva, being pursued by Daemons (the Bhasmarsura) ran for safety, dropped his trident, and hid in a cave. Devotees bring tridents here and deposit them for eternity. It is believed that to remove a trident from this sacred spot of the Hindus is to court perpetual evil. (Courtesy the Prof. S. C. Bose Collection, India)

"Or suppose you are one in which imagination is stronger than the reasoning faculty. In such instance, imagination rather than reasoning will be your method of developing powers of concentration. To this end, picture some scene in which the object of your ideal forms the central figure; built it up in your mind, bit by bit, as a painter creates a picture by gradually putting in all the elements of the scene. Work at it as an artist works on his canvas, line by line, your brush being the brush of imagination. At first the process may be slow, but the picture will soon begin to be formed at call. Over and over again you should picture the scene, dwelling less and less on the surrounding objects, and more and more on the central ideal figure. The drawing of the mental picture in this way, brings it under control and steadies it, and thus gradually by the use of imagination, you bring the mind under command.

"These are suggestions for developing powers of concentration that I have given my students. Practice of this sort builds up the qualities you want, and you become stronger and better fit to proceed onward in your mastery of magic."

These suggestions by the Sadhu I have found most helpful. You will too, and remember, also, to apply them in connection with using the crystal ball, i.e., fix the gaze upon the crystal, "throw the mind blank," and then apply the concentrated attention upon the object of the thought; using reasoning or imagination, as the case may be. In daily performance, you will be using the methods of increasing your attention throughout all waking hours, and use the crystal when you have private opportunities to advance most markedly your mastering of Yoga Concentration.

In relation to the method of using the crystal, perhaps I should give you a little more explanation as to just what is meant in "throwing the mind blank" as used in Yoga. This condition of blank mindedness first of all, is not to be considered mere "empty mindedness." It is, rather, a mental condition of confident expectation—of expecting the coming of something which is to fill the blank space of the mind. In the process, the mind is really not "empty," rather it is stilled.

The surface of "the lake of Chitta" has been rendered quiet, placid, and calm; no longer do the waves, ripples, and tiny whirpools of the vrittis disturb it. The condition is gained by allowing no interfering thought to enter into consciousness, and permitting the senses to perform none of their functions. This is the meaning of "throwing the mind blank," and is a mental state achieved only by practice. When this difficult task is learned, the attention must be fixed, without swerving, upon its objective. As such the mind is prepared for the practice of Yoga Concentration.

Perhaps you will understand better this idea of "holding the mind blank" if you will relate it to the physical act of holding one's breath. You will remember that in both physical condition and mental states there is a state of quietness and stillness, a cessation of active effort, but, at the same time, a state of intense expectancy and readiness to spring into action. As an analogy, it may be said to resemble the state of a coiled-up steel spring, the moment before its release. Or again, it may be thought of as a state resembling the mental and physical condition of a crouching panther the moment before it springs upon its prey. Your thought in understanding this special condition of mind will give you the "knack" of it; and further practice will make you proficient in it.

The succeeding stage in Yoga Concentration which follows immediately the "hold the mind blank" stage, is that of "holding the thought" upon the subject, object, or mental-picture, as the case may be. In this is meant more than appears on the surface, as in this is the Yoga meaning of Concrete Dhyana, in which is realized a peculiar union of subject and object. As this is important, I asked Parimal Bandhu to explain:

"In Dhyana, there comes to the mind the power, as it were, of the flowing in an unbroken current toward that point. In Dhyana you bring the contemplated or concentrated upon object up to your own mental plane of consciousness, and, so to speak, make it actually a form in your mind. Your "mind stuff' thus assumes the actual form of the contemplated object, and has an actual (though but temporary) existence in your chitta. Thus, it becomes unified with you, for the time being, and it is possible to consider it directly, instead of indirectly through the medium of the senses. The object of Dhyana is to unify the mind with an object and to induce unification with the object. So holding the object in mind, it must be concentrated upon to unify the thing with the mind, in which process a sort of'click' takes place in the mind, and an extraordinary experience is undergone. The 'thing' joins itself to 'you' by a curious internal phenomenon, and you feel 'one' with it. Clearly the sense of duality between you and it will have vanished, and you have this sense of unification.

"What I have described is the power of mind working upon matter, and is a skill of the Masters. In the initiate it perhaps will not be pronounced, still in every case, there will be a trace of the experience—just enough to let you know that it is there and in operation. Do not seek to overdevelop this power; let it develop naturally and without forcing. You can do good work in Yoga Concentration with but a trace of it, and I should add that this sense of "oneness" between thought and object disappears when the concentration is terminated. I have here given you one of the deepest secrets of creative mind magic."

In closing this chapter dealing with the power of concentration, I wish to give you what are known as "The Obstacles to Yoga Concentration" and "The Seven Little Devils Besetting the Yogi." It is well that you know of these, as with their mastery you advance toward magicianhood.

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