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The Sixth Step, or Concentration (Dharana)

Having gone through the outer stage, i.e. the process by which the body and all the physical and mental obstacles are controlled, the yogi is now ready for the "inner stage", the inner journey towards re-integration.

"To maintain the mind fixed on one spot is called concentration." (Yoga Darshana 3, 1.)

The object of the concentration may be anything, gross or subtle, external or internal, although it is said that a worthy object is to be preferred to whichever world it pertains, abstract, subtle or sensory (adhyatmika, adhidaivika, adiabatic).

It is through concentration that the movements of the mind are stilled. Preparation for concentration is through practice and detachment. The gestures that help concentration most are the Invisible (Agochari) gesture, the Wandering-on-Earth (Bhuchari) gesture, the Black-Bee (Chachari) gesture and the Giver-of-Happiness (Shambhavi) gesture.

The Seventh Step, or Contemplation (Dhyana)

"To keep the mind solely on one object is contemplation." (Yoga Darshana 3, 2.)

Contemplation is that state in which the tendencies of the concentrated mind begin to flow around one single notion like an uninterrupted stream of oil, and the mental faculties (manas) remain without any outward object.

Contemplation is of three kinds: material (sthula dhyana), luminous (jyotir-dhyana) and subtle (sukshma-hbyana).

(a) In "material contemplation", the image of a deity or one's guru is thought of.

(b) In "luminous contemplation", the radiance of Divinity or of Nature (Prakriti) is pondered.

(c) In "subtle contemplation", the mind is concentrated on the point-limit (bindu) where the unmanifest becomes manifest, or on the basic coiled energy, kundalini.

"Contemplation is of two kinds, subtle (sukshma) and gross (sthula). Subtle or supersensible contemplation is that of Thy body of runes (mantra-maya-deham), material contemplation is contemplation of Thine image represented with hands and feet. Thy subtle form (sukshma rupa) is the body of Nature which is made of Knowledge (jnana maya). O Arch-Goddess! The mind reaches the supersensible with difficulty, and therefore the seeker's mind should first be concentrated on a material form which will help him to attain Liberation." (Yamala tantra.)

"Contemplation is of two kinds, either on a perceptible form (sa-rupa) or without a perceptible form (a-rupa). Contemplation without a perceptible form is beyond the grasp of words and mind, it belongs to the unmanifest, is all-pervading and cannot be pointed to as 'this' or 'that'. It is only through a long process of identification that yogis can cognize it. I explain material contemplation to you to this end alone, that the seeker in his desire for subtle contemplation may practice it, concentrating his mind to attain the object of his desire." (Mahanirvana tantra.)

Material contemplation is usually practiced as a mental form of worship in which the seeker creates in his mind a world of delight around his chosen form of Divinity. There is for the form of each deity a theme for contemplation or a description in Sanskrit couplets, and this theme is the support on which the imagination works to create a world which later it will transcend in order to realize the inner significance of the particular aspect of Divinity he thus worships.

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