Concentration and contemplation are great things; but no contemplation is greater than the life we have about us every day.
To take off the cover separating man from Christ, a process is necessary. This process is the same which takes away stains and lines from paper by rubbing. The process is safa, from which comes Sufi. Safa means to clean, to wash, or to erase, and by this the soul is purified. This shows the mission of Sufism, and the work of the Sufi Order. Every process of meditation and concentration is to wash the soul of the stains of earthly experiences.
There is a saying of the mystics that spiritual things, the spiritual teachings, can be given from the heart, can be taken into the heart. That is what the sign of the Sufi Movement denotes. It requires a certain preparation to make the heart a receptacle of the Message. By concentration, by contemplation, and by meditation, the heart is purified, enlarged, and made into a receptacle of the Message. Therefore it is that among many thousand mureeds, if you begin to take the real benefit of the Message, although others are benefitted in another way, the full benefit of the Message is received by knowing how to take the Message.
Men of medicine say that it is a religious mania; any great devotion or a deep concentration is called a religious mania. They do not know what money mania means. Most of all those who call it religious mania, they have money mania. From morning till evening …. If anyone thinks of something higher, greater, deeper, then they say that is a mania. That time has come when there are ninety-nine persons to say that one person is mad, and that one person has to see the ninety-nine as mad.
The question is, how can this magnetism be developed? This magnetism is developed by study, by concentration, by a keen observation of life, and by the knowledge of repose. Very many intelligent persons, because they do not know how to concentrate and how to take repose in their lives, in time blunt their intelligence; because there is a certain fund of energy which is preserved and which is limited, and when there is too much pressure put upon that limited energy in the end, what happens? A person becomes less and less intelligent, and his power of mind diminishes every day. Whenever you find a very intelligent man becoming duller every day, it always proves that the amount of energy that was there has been spent. It is, therefore, by knowing how to preserve one’s intellect, that this magnetism remains in a right condition.
The faculty of seeing through life can be developed by observation, which is called study. And the focusing of the mind upon the object of study is called concentration. As by making a habit of lifting one thing, a person can learn to lift several weighty things, so by observing one object of study a man becomes capable of observing any object in the same way. Keeness of observation is a phenomenon in itself. In the first place, the sight penetrates, so to speak, the object one sees. And the next thing is that as the light of the sun has the power to open the buds, so the power of keen observation commands the objects observed to unfold themselves and to reveal their secrets.
There are two things necessary in order to perceive: one thing is openness, the other thing is effort made in that direction. When contemplating upon anything the mind must be free from all else that stands in the way; that is called openness. Also some must arrive, by the help of concentration, at focusing one’s mind on a certain object. The next thing is to be interested enough in all things that one comes in contact with and one cares to know about, that one may penetrate below the surface and find out what is hidden in all things.
Question: Suppose a person had for years some interest very near to his heart which had developed his power of concentration, and that interest ceased. Is that person more capable of strong concentrationon a new interest, because of his previous experience?
Answer: Yes, certainly. All our experiences are nothing but preparation for something else. Nothing that belongs to this world, however precious, must hinder one’s path of progress. For every step in the direction to that spiritual gain must be the aim of every soul. And the concentration upon the object is just a step.
Here is the question of concentration, and not of its effect. The question of effect is quite a different subject again. Then the question comes: of what object? Something to steady the mind. It may be a tree, a flower, the sun or a star. Of course, according to the object a reaction is produced. And according to the reaction an object is produced. Every belief and every experience for a wise person is a step of a staircase. He has taken this step, there is another step for him to take. The steps of the staircase are not made for one to stand there. They are just made for one to pass, to go further. Because life is progress. Where there is no progress there is no life. One should go on. Death and disappointment — two things are one. And if there is a hereafter, then the death was a passing stage, and so is disappointment. Two things are one. And if there is a hereafter, then the death was a passing stage, and so is the disappointment. It only has made one more steady, more wise, more. . .
There are people who are by nature intuitive; they are sometimes called psychic or clairvoyant. It is accounted for by the other side of their soul naturally facing the spirit within. One may call them extraordinary or exceptional, but not mystical; for the mystic does not desire that position. By concentration and meditation he gains such a mastery that he can cover the soul from without to take reflection within, and he can cover the soul from within when he requires the reflection from the outer world to its full extent. Balance is desirable, and mastery is the goal to be attained.