The Perfection Of Concentration

The perfection of concentration is the next paramita in the series of articles on the six paramitas taught by the Buddha. Paramita is a Sanskrit word meaning “crossing to the other shore.” By practicing the paramitas of generosity, ethics, patience, diligence, concentration, and wisdom, we cross over to the other shore from ill-being to well-being, from suffering to happiness.

The Perfection of ConcentrationAs with the perfection of diligence, we find concentration to also be an element of the Eightfold Path of the Buddha. As previously explained, the Eightfold Path can be thought of as consisting of three segments, ethics, discipline, and wisdom. Right concentration is often included in the segment of discipline, along with diligence and mindfulness.

Mindfulness, concentration, and insight are the three practices that compose a happy life. With mindfulness, we are aware of what is going on in the here and in the now, and we are able to bring our attention to what is going on for us. We welcome the experience of love, joy, wonder, and wisdom in this life, just as it is.

With concentration, we learn to embrace our current states of mind, enhancing wholesome states of mind, and accepting and releasing unwholesome states of mind. We develop the ability to focus our attention to what is happening now and also on specific objects for our attention. Then we learn to stabilize our mind and emotions so that it does what we want it to do. We calmly and easily enter the state of flow.

For example, becoming aware of our breathing and concentrating on our in breath and our out breath, brings us back to our true home, the present moment. Initially, we focus on the in breath all the way in and the out breath all the way out. After a while we begin to notice that our in breath has become deep, and we being to notice that our out breath has become slow. We can then focus on the depth of our in breath and the slowness of our out breath.

Deeper levels of concentration can take us to a state of mind in which we experience the present moment and recognize that it is truly a wonderful moment. We have the insight that we have everything we need to be happy, here and now.

Other objects of concentration include the faces of our loved ones or our teacher, a Buddha image, an image of a flower, tree, mountain, ocean, animal, and many other. We usually encourage beginning meditators to use the breath, because it is always present.

What is your favorite object of concentration? Why? Please share.

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