The Eye Focus
Great Master, Maharaj Sawan Singh, gives clear-cut directives for disciples of Sant Mat on how to acquire the power to focus at the eye centre. He says in Spiritual Gems:
You develop the power to withdraw your attention, at will, from the outward objects and from the physical body, and concentrate it in the eye focus…. Make contact with the astral form of the Master, become very intimate with him, make him your companion, catch the Sound Current, cross the mind planes … so that your wanderings in the worlds of mind and matter may end. Do it now, while alive. This is the purpose of human life.…
It is not difficult to acquire worldly fame, wealth, kingdom, and miraculous power, but it is difficult to turn away one’s attention from these and go inside to catch the Sound Current. Love, faith, and perseverance make the path easy and possible to attain the unattainable.
Great Master tells us that our first objective is to hold the attention steady in the eye focus. What is the eye focus? We typically point to a place between the brows and call that the focus, but when we are actually involved in the process of meditation, what does it mean to “be in the focus” or “inside,” as we call it? Maharaj Charan Singh tells us in Die to Live, “Whenever you close your eyes, you are where you should be.” Whatever the attention sees behind the eyes, that is what is meant by “inside” or “in the focus.”
When we close our eyes there is darkness. We don’t understand how significant this darkness is and are inclined to complain that we see nothing. However, that darkness is not “nothing” – it is actually something real. The soul starts travelling on the spiritual journey from the very moment we close our eyes and look into that darkness with the attention. The more we hold our attention steady in the eye focus, the more it becomes absorbed in what is happening there, until we reach a degree of absorption where our total awareness is working in the focus. None of the attention or soul is left to be aware of the outside world or body – we become numb and dead to the world. At that point we say, “the soul has gone within.” It has entered the eye focus or third eye.
Great Master tells us that our first objective on the path is to concentrate the attention in the eye focus. We have only to sit in meditation and try to do this to find how very difficult it is – and this is merely the first rung of the ladder in our ascent upwards. Yet, entering the eye focus or going within, can be a very easy, natural process. When we close our eyes, we know our mind’s continuous activity in worldly matters does not cease. Sometimes we never come to the focus. Great Master gives the reason in Spiritual Gems: “It is not difficult to acquire worldly fame, wealth, kingdom, and miraculous power, but it is difficult to turn away one’s attention from these and go inside to catch the Sound Current.”
Our attention flows out through the senses and makes contact with objects. Then our thoughts reflect on these objects, both verbally and visually. This leads us to do ceaseless repetition and contemplation on material objects, even while asleep. The mind is so constructed that it takes on the attributes of what it contemplates.
We’ve heard the story many times about the saint who wished to demonstrate the meaning of contemplation to a peasant. He asked the peasant who he loved most in life. He answered his buffalo. The saint told him to contemplate on his buffalo. When the peasant was called to come out of his house, he replied he couldn’t because his horns were too wide. This is the essence of contemplation. We become so absorbed by the object of our contemplation that we become that object and identify ourselves with it.
Thomas Merton, in New Seeds of Contemplation, tells us: “No matter how distracted you may be, pray by peaceful, even perhaps inarticulate, efforts to centre your heart upon God, who is present to you in spite of all that may be going through your mind. His presence does not depend on your thoughts of him. He is unfailingly there.” The Master is such a being already because he comes from the highest spiritual plane. Concentration on him will draw us inward and upward back to the Lord.
This is how our meditation works. We really do not need to alter the nature of the mind, which is to do ceaseless repetition and contemplation. We simply substitute our worldly impressions with spiritual impressions. When we sit down for meditation, instead of allowing the mind to reflect on the impressions of the outside world, we make it repeat the Master’s names and contemplate on his form. By constant practice, our ability to meditate on spiritual impressions instead of worldly ones grows, until finally one’s whole consciousness is saturated only with the practices of simran, dhyan or listening to the Sound at all times.
In Sultan Bahu we read:
Contemplation is born out of a profound state of simran. In such a state, contemplation occurs automatically, and the luminous form of the Murshid [Master] manifests itself in the disciple. He then sees his Murshid everywhere, inside as well as outside.
In Tales of the Mystic East, there is a story about a saint who “was travelling through the countryside on his horse. At the same time one of his disciples was meditating in the wilderness nearby and yearning for his Master. The horse refused to go where the saint wanted. The saint tried his best, but the horse was stubborn. The saint wondered why the horse was being so difficult. Finally, he gave in and said, “All right, go wherever you like.” The horse headed straight for the wilderness and stopped after some time.There, in front of them, sat the disciple. On seeing his Master, the disciple’s heart was filled with joy. “What is all this?” asked the saint. “Today my heart was pining for you,” the disciple replied. “This is how strongly the disciple’s love should pull.”
Anyone who sits regularly and sincerely for meditation, and honestly observes how and where his mind is running and keeping him away from the eye focus, will soon find out what harms his meditation and what helps him.
The earnest devotee then realizes that if he is to succeed at meditation or this battle with the mind, he is going to have to reform himself drastically. The devotee starts trimming away at his life. First, the obvious things go. Then later, as he grows increasingly earnest in his efforts to control the mind, he discovers that sometimes even the little things – which look like the harmless, small pleasures of everyday life – are affecting his mind. The list of activities that the devotee may allow himself, which do not undermine his battle with the mind, becomes shorter and shorter. The path becomes increasingly narrow. Until, finally, he finds himself walking on a sharp razor’s edge. He knows there can be no deviation, no compromises. A simple, pure, humble life is essential for spiritual progress – and this is not achieved without personal sacrifice.
We have been given a certain number of years as we pass through this dream called life. At the time of death, we will realize that the value of the time spent in this illusion is the opportunity it gave us to remove ourselves from the prisons of matter and mind and take the soul back to its true home. This is the purpose of our life.
Every minute we spend in devotion to the Lord is credited to us and goes with us after death – it is our real and imperishable wealth. When our attention spreads down and out into this world in the pursuit of pleasure and possessions, we are draining the reservoir of our soul’s strength. We cannot put any price on the value of this soul force. It has to be collected together, drop by drop like precious nectar.
However, we also have to remember that spirituality is not achieved by running away from life and its problems and responsibilities. Wherever we hide ourselves, we take the mind, with all its cravings and weaknesses, along with us. True renunciation and asceticism consists in learning to control the mind wherever we are, in whatever circumstances we may be placed. The saints tell us we must live in this world while learning to withdraw our attention at will and concentrate at the eye focus. No one else can fight this battle for us. Even the Master, who is teaching, guiding, and protecting us spiritually, is not going to control our minds for us. Only when the mind is detached from the world and the attention is brought up to the eye focus, are we pulled within. Until then, he will not lift us, because it would be like trying to raise up a man bound down by heavy chains. We have first to loosen those chains to withdraw our attention from physical matter so we may become light and free.
One of the hardest tasks saints have is to convince us of the wonders that are within, and that no price is too high to pay, no sacrifice too great to make, to earn this rare privilege of reaching the eye centre.
Great Master reassures us in Spiritual Gems:
Your wildest dreams or imaginings cannot picture the grandeur of what lies within. But the treasure is yours and is there for you. You can have it whenever you go there.
Within this earthen vessel of the body
Are gardens and groves,
And within it is also the Lord.…
Within the body is the touchstone
On which is tested your spiritual worth,
And within it is also the appraiser,
The Lord who tests you.
Within the body the ceaseless
And within it the spring wells up.
Kabir says: Listen, my friend,
Your Beloved is within you.
Kabir the Great Mystic