Now a days is very common to talk about meditation, and almost nobody talk about concentration, and even less about contemplation, like this last words had gone out of fashion. But indeed the three words describe a unique process: a skill development. Which skill? The skill of be aware of more subtle realities. I think is worthy to recover the classical meaning of the almost forgotten words.
Concentration is a useful skill that makes us able to direct our attention toward one unique object, which can be physical or mental. All of us have this skill to some degree, and we use it when we have to solve a difficult problem, have to make a important decision, have to study for an exam, etc. We are used to see attention and mind as one non separable pack: when thoughts arise, we give them our attention, and when something attracts our attention, we immediately start to think about it.
When we train concentration the aim is to become able to stop our thoughts and focus only our attention on one object even when this object have no any importance for us; we simply, by decision, applying our will, focus our attention on the object. This skill is much more difficult to obtain than simple concentration of thoughts on an important object, because there are two new items here: first, there are no thoughts about the object, second, the object has no interest in itself. At first, when we try to concentrate our attention in this way, our mind rebels against us, because we never have used our attention in this way: as we say before, both thoughts and attention are in a “pack”. So in concentration we “break” this pack, learning to use attention separately from thoughts, and also learning to still the mind.
As I said before, now a days is very common to talk about the skill of concentration using the word meditation. Then, what is meditation?
In meditation we use our trained attention, which we can focus on any object with a quiet mind, for explore objects which are beyond the scope of our intellect, like meditate on peace, on the eternity, on our soul, etc. Closing our eyes, forgetting our environment and our body, calming and stopping our mind, we use our attention for look at the topic object of our meditation. We look at, not think about it. With time, our skill improves, and gradually we will feel the separation between the object of meditation and ourselves becomes weaker and weaker. This is not surprising, for the separation is entirely a creation of our minds, so stilling the mind, the separation disappears. Eventually, we reach the final stage.
In the final stage, when we are very advanced in meditation, the discrimination between observer and object of attention vanishes, and both become one. The subject experiences oneness, and this feeling includes not only the observed object, but the whole Universe, experiencing “cosmic consciousness”. There are only pure consciousness not related to any object, but independent and unlimited, without bonds. The search has finished, we feel one with all the creation, we feel bliss. Is an experience that can’t be understand because is beyond the intellect, we can experience it, but not explain it.