21.  What is concentration?

    Concentration means consistent stability, which is the state of stable mind at all times. Generally our mind is possessed by hindrances almost all day.    The hindrances (obstruction of concentration) are divided in to five categories.

1.        Satisfaction in sexual or aesthetic matters.

2.        Dissatisfaction or aggravation or annoyance.

3.        Lustful desires excitement and disturbance.

4.        Indolence, depression, loneliness, absent-mindedness and apathy.

5.        Indecision, confusion, and worries.

Any hindrance may weaken, depress, aggravate, annoy, confuse, infuriate (no nirvana) and full our mind. The meditated mind has three characters:

1.                Devotion (strong, stable, not disturbed or weakened)

2.                Purity (no hindrance which is a weak from of desire)

3.                Mindfulness (sound practice, carefulness, prudence, will energy).

 Concentration could be divided into two levels, natural concentration and intense. We may have natural concentration through our intention or determination to think, talk, work or study, but that may be little.

However, intense concentration is the state of devoted mind, which has no hindrance.  Intense concentration is the basis for better use of natural concentration.

The natural concentration may incur through intention or determination to think, talk and work-directly or may use as a basis for intense concentration.

The intense concentration is called “stare at high”, which means taking a look at a point (taking a look or looking at a point). That is the state of mind, which is kept at a point at all times. The point may be and object or image which is not a hindrance. However, the better practice is to look at our breath.

The practicing method is to sit cross-legged , keep the body erected, close eyes or open eyes (it is recommended to open eyes but if the mind is confused, close the eyes). Try to stop any hindrances. If there is any hindrances appear, stop it and keep practicing this regularly.

When the breath is in the body, we will feel breathing of the body, keep taking a look at this point regularly. At the first stage, we could count the breath in and out as 1, 2, 3, until 100. After the hindrance is ceased, we may stop counting or may recite any word while we breath.

After the hindrance has ceased, it is obvious that the concentration of the mind is functioning. We should keep this habit to do important work such as consideration of the ultimate rule of nature or the four noble truths to gain understanding (wisdom).

When the mind is not disturbed by any hindrance, Then, The mind will devotion, purity, mindfulness and calm down. Then, there are joy and tranquility. That is the character of the first stare at high”. 

After skill has been gained in the first “stare at high”   without control, it will proceed to its own path.  There will be joy and tranquility only. That is the character of the second stare at high”. After skill is gained in the second “stare at high”, joy will disappear and there is only tranquility, which is the third stare at high”. After the third “stare at high” is proceeded with skill, the tranquility will disappear and there will be only a mild feeling (no happiness and no suffering). That is the fourth stare at high”, (Nirvana will exist in the fourth “stare at high”, but if the fourth “stare at high” fails, nirvana will be gone too).

All four types of stare at highare necessary to enhance permanent nirvana (there are four more higher “stare at high” but not necessary). The intense concentration will help the natural concentration proper while the natural concentration is the basis for wisdom (that is, the four noble truths are understood by the mind). However, the ethical conducts are needed as a ground from concentration (the ethical conducts are not to destroy life, not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to tell lies, not to swear, not to scorn and not to talk nonsense).

The ethical conducts are the basis for concentration and concentration is the basis for wisdom. Wisdom will in turn perfect the ethical conducts. Then concentration and wisdom will grow better until nirvana is achieved permanently. When the mind is clear, there will be ethical conducts, concentration and wisdom altogether. If one is not in existence, the clear mind does not exist. Thus the clear mind is to follow the noble truths.