Samadhana – Concentration of the Mind

This sub-module is based on the teachings of Swami Viditatmananda.
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We gain a mind free from distractions and disturbances as a result of the first four sub-qualifications of Discipline, i.e, Shama, Dama, Uparama, and Titiksha.

Shama is mastery of the mind, Dama, mastery of the sense organs, Uparama, an abidance of the mind and the sense organs, and Titiksha is forbearance or endurance.

These disciplines enable us to focus and are the means of freeing the mind from distractions and disturbances. In this sub-module we will discuss the sixth and final sub-qualification called Samadhana.

In this sub-module we will discuss:

1. What is Samadhana?

2. How to apply Samadhana to Self Inquiry?

3. Why cultivating universal values is a part of Samadhana?

4. Why Karma Yoga is a part of Samadhana?

5. Why we should be more discriminating towards our choice of actions?

What Is Samadhana?

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Samadhanam is the constant concentration of the mind, thus restrained, on the hearing etc. of the scriptural passages and other objects that are conducive to these.


A mind thus restrained or withdrawn from its other preoccupations and distractions; a poised or abiding mind. That mind must be focused somewhere.

This brings us to Samadhana. Samadhana means absorption, concentration, or single-pointedness. Such a mind should be focused on Vedantic study and Self Inquiry.

Samadhana Helps Focus Mental Energy On Self Inquiry

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A lot of our energy is exhausted in entertaining various thoughts, chasing after different pleasures, reacting to various situations, and pursuing the various demands that life situations make upon us.

The practise of Samadhana helps conserve mental energy so that it can be applied to creative or profitable fields. A person now wants to focus all his energy on the pursuit of knowledge.

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says:

The Self must be “seen”.

Meaning that the Self must be known. How should it be known?

We must conduct an inquiry into the nature of the Self, and the method of performing that inquiry is through Shravanam, listening to the scriptures from the teacher, Mananam, reflecting upon what we have heard to clarify doubts, and Nididhyasanam, assimilating what we have learned. These are the 3 stages of Self Inquiry (discussed earlier in sub-module 1.1, more detailed explanation in sub-module 8.4).

This is the method of learning and assimilating the knowledge that is to be followed. The mind that has been withdrawn from its other preoccupations and distractions should be focused constantly on Self Inquiry.

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Samadhana Includes Developing Universal Values

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We may find that additional preparations are needed to listen to or read the scriptures. We may not be able to deliberate on Vedanta all the time because the mind needs a change, a certain distraction.

Or we find that we are not able to consistently maintain that frame of mind because certain values like humility and non-pretentiousness, are not fully developed.

This means that the mind has not yet acquired the maturity needed to apply itself fully to the pursuit of Self-Knowledge.

Samadhana, therefore, includes doing whatever is necessary to develop these universal values of humility, non-pretentiousness, non-violence, accommodation, straightforwardness etc.

These are qualities or values, frames of mind, mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita, and are a necessary qualification for Vedanta. (Universal Values will be discussed extensively in Module 5)

When not listening or reflecting upon the scriptures, a student is advised to observe his or her own mind, introspecting and being alert to various thoughts and reactions that arise.

There are traces of arrogance, pride, pretentiousness, violence, and jealousy in us. We need to slowly make ourselves free of these tendencies.

The pursuit of knowledge includes not only listening, reflecting, and assimilating, but also self-introspection and constant work to remove the obstacles that come in the way of the pursuit of the study.

All of this comprises Samadhanam. While driving, part of your mind is always aware of the destination and whatever choices you make are automatically in keeping with the goal of reaching that destination.

Similarly, the destination of Self-Knowledge should constantly remain in our minds.

..always (dwelling upon) knowledge centered on the Self, keeping in view the purpose of knowledge of the Truth.

Bhagavad Gita

When the mind gets distracted we have to bring it back and make it see what is to be gained as a result of Self-Knowledge: freedom, liberation, and fulfillment.

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Samadhana Includes Karma Yoga

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Samadhana means single-pointedness or concentration of the mind. It does not mean that one has to withdraw oneself from all activities and simply focus the mind on one thing.

Rather, it is desirable that the mind be focused upon the pursuit of Self-Knowledge. Thus, one’s life becomes a means to the pursuit of Self-Knowledge.

It is not necessary to deny life in order to pursue knowledge. On the other hand, one makes whatever life one is living a means to pursuing Self-Knowledge.

This is why Lord Krishna teaches Karma Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita. One does not have to give up one’s activities, rather, we are told to perform the activities in a manner such that those very actions become a means of knowledge.

Sometimes, we do not have the choice of giving up things or getting away from situations. We can either resist what we are required to do or turn that very action into the means of knowledge.

In Karma Yoga we perform our actions as an offering and thus make them a means of knowledge. (Karma Yoga will be discussed in Module 8.2)

Through the performance of our day-to-day activities, we seek the Self’s grace and purify our mind. This is also a part of Samadhana.

Samadhana means constantly maintaining the focus on our destination and making choices that will serve as a means of Self-Knowledge.

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Our Choices Are Determined By Our Goals

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What we want is happiness, peace, security, and freedom. We have now understood that real freedom can be achieved only through the knowledge of the Self.

Thus, there is a commitment to the knowledge and that is all that matters to the aspirants; knowledge is their only pursuit. Whatever we do, that commitment or goal always remains, and our choices are determined by that pursuit.

Whenever you have to make a choice, e.g., deciding to sleep, go to a movie, watch a football game, read a book, or meditate, ask yourself if that activity is conducive to what you are seeking. Is this action in keeping with the goal that you have chosen or does it contradict the goal?

When you make a turn while driving, you ask whether the turn leads you to your destination. You do not choose a road that is easier to drive on, but the road that takes you to your destination, even if it is a difficult one to drive on.

Your choice is determined by your destination and not by whether the route is fascinating, beautiful, or enables you to drive faster.

Similarly, my life choices should be determined by my destination. I am seeking Self-Knowledge and, therefore, I need to study the scriptures, which involves listening, understanding, contemplation, and assimilation.

This does not mean that you deny yourself any freedom or relaxation. The mind should also be relaxed. You might watch TV or allow yourself a treat so that the mind is happy and relaxed and can be applied to what you want to do.

Exertion and recreation, are both needed by the mind; there should be a balance. As Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, this pursuit of knowledge becomes pleasant for one who maintains a balance or sense of proportion in performing every action.

When a person maintains a sense of proportion and is constantly alert, he has Samadhanam.

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Samadhana Will Make Self Inquiry The Sole Pursuit

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Ultimately, as the mind becomes more focused it will be able to apply itself better to the study of the scriptures, reflection, contemplation and assimilation.

Perhaps the time will come when we will do nothing except study, and teaching. It is not easy to study and think about this all the time.

Vedanta requires the mind to be focused; it requires attention and alertness. The mind gets tired after studying for a length of time. After that, it wants some recreation or relaxation.

However, as the mind becomes more focused, the need for other distractions reduces; study and teaching become full-time pursuits.

In this context, teaching does not necessarily mean conducting classes, but includes studying and contributing, sharing.

Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita:

Those whose minds are in Me (Self), whose living is resolved in Me, teaching one another and always talking about Me, they are (always) satisfied and they revel (always).

In order to achieve anything in any profession one must be totally devoted to it; otherwise, we will be mediocre. Similarly, the devotion to Self-Knowledge should become a full-time occupation.

Our minds should be completely focused on it. The mind can be applied to the pursuit of knowledge to the extent that it is free from other distractions and pre-occupations.

This is Samadhana, concentration or focus.

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1. Samadhana means focus, concentration or single-pointedness. From Vedantic point of view, it means focus on Vedantic study and Self Inquiry.
2. The 3 stages of Self Inquiry are Shravana (listening), Manana (reflecting) and Nididhyasana (assimilating). A mind that is disciplined through the practise of Shama, Dama, Uparama and Titiksha should be focused on Shravana, Manana and Nididhyasana, so that Self-Knowledge can be assimilated.
3. A mature mind capable of Self Inquiry is one in which universal values like humility, non-pretentiousness, non-violence and straightforwardness have been assimilated. So Samadhana also includes cultivating universal values within us.
4. Since our goal is Self-Knowledge, every action should be a means to knowledge. One way to accomplish that is through Karma Yoga. This is also part of Samadhana.