Q: Guruji, how does meditation differ from techniques involving concentration or contemplation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Usually, we sit and contemplate on some knowledge, on some scriptures. We are keeping our mind active. The mind is thinking and thinking and thinking. Thinking is also an activity and does not bring any rest to the mind. So contemplation should never be called meditation.
Concentration involves a lot of effort. You are trying to focus your mind to stay in one place, which is not its nature. Mind jumps from one thing to another and it goes from something which is charming to something which is even more charming. Mind always flows towards something that is even more charming. When you are having very good food then you are attentive with the food. However when something on television comes or a beautiful scenery comes, you forget about the food and watch the scenery.
Your mind goes from this to that. Your mind always goes from one thing to another and it always goes to something that is more enjoyable. At least, it perceives that something is more joyful. It may not really be the source of joy. In fact, it is not.
Concentration is – trying to focus the mind on one point against its nature. So we are forcing our mind. Children get into so much stress and tension because their mind is forced on something which is not in their natural taste. They are forced to study such topics for which they have the least inclination. Then, it causes so much strain.
Concentration again is tremendous effort. So, it can’t be meditation. Though, you will need concentration in life. Now, both concentration and contemplation are results of meditation – they are not meditation itself. Meditation is effortless! When the mind takes the deepest rest, it becomes so fresh and alive. And after that deep rest, your concentration is spontaneous. It’s natural. Concentration becomes effortless.
You are able to contemplate well without strain. Meditation unfortunately is understood to be another concentration or contemplation in many parts of the world. But it is not. Meditation is the art of doing nothing. It’s the skill by which you make your mind become quiet and do nothing and experience the vastness of space deep within. So, effortlessness is the key to meditation. And if we can do a few minutes of meditation, you will find that concentration has improved and your intellectual abilities are boosted.