A fresh look at the sutras – Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi


unified-michaelDHARANA – – the sixth limb

Pratyahara leads to the sixth limb: dharana.

Dharana means focus.

Focusing is an energetic process that enables a practitioner to hold attention steady onto one point.

In English language it is best described as singlepointedness.

One common misconception is that dharana equals concentration. That is not true. (I have heard a number of Indian teachers talk about dharana being concentration – I like to see this is an error that is lost in translation from English to Hindi.)

There is a HUGE difference between single pointedness and concentration which is
VITAL to understanding dharana.

You see, concentration is the western way of dharana and single pointedness is the eastern way.

Here is the difference:

In dharana, concentration, the attention is exclusive onto one subject and excludes all other objects.

In dharana, single pointedness, the focus is also on one subject but it includes the whole.

Concentration v. Singlepointedness:

Concentration is the singling out of one aspect of the whole by excluding the rest of the whole.

This one aspect then becomes the object of uninterrupted attention. It is what we learn at school.

Concentration is the familiar picture of the genial professor who is very good at singling out one area of expertise (let’s say unified field theory) while not knowing where his glasses are, what goes wrong in his relationship or why this world is a mess.

Concentration is studying the drop while keeping the ocean apart.It takes a lot of energy to do that.

Singlepointedness is the ability to stay connected to the WHOLE while being able to focus on a single object (like unified field theory).

This is actually the main theme of many television series these days, where the main character is simply more aware than the rest of the crew. I am thinking Mentalist, Sherlock, Lie to me etc.

In all of these series the main character sees more and hears more. In other words is more aware of his/her whole environment (including the inner world and the outer world).

Singlepointedness is studying the drop as part of the ocean. It gives a lot of energy.

Dharana eventually leads to Dhyana (meditation), because the singlepointed focus of attention that is being practiced is being directed exclusively on the whole. In other words, no more division or separateness – life becomes one.

And one more important point to dharana before I move on to dhyana:

Dharana is nothing that you can be done, it is something that happens when you are open and allow life to happen.

It is a process that is as natural than love.

Because when you are in love, a universal energy is awakened that is all consuming (meaning all your other little concerns in life seem to fall away).

You are naturally focused on the object of your love, if you want to or not.

The same happens with dharana: your intelligent focus is automatically drawn to the whole because the whole is love.


2. DHYANA – the seventh limb

Dhyana is both the process and the state of meditation.

As I mentioned in the dharana section, in dhyana (meditation), the focus of attention is on the whole, on life itself.

Everything that leads up to this point is basically dharana.

Technically speaking, all the various meditation techniques we learn these days are actually dharana techniques – techniques that will teach you to de-automatize your intelligent focus and place it onto more vital areas of attention.

Dharana will for example teach you to put your focus on your breath, your heartbeat, on isolated body sensations or energetic chakras.

Eventually, though, all dharana techniques will converge on focusing on the source of everything.

At this point dharana turns into meditation.

How fast this process develops in the individual being depends on the interaction of the following three aspects:

Meditation (dharana), love and action

Let me explain.

To me, the purpose of life is to realize love, the universal truth.

Realizing love as the universal truth is the end of karma – karma being the many processes that each individual has to live through in order to realize this love.

It goes like this: You do something in your life that has consequences. These consequences can be love enhancing (and you will feel great) or they are love destroying (and you will feel wretched.)

In both cases you will come to a point where something new needs to happen and you will turn in to sort out your life. This turning in is the meditative process of single pointedness whereby you observe your self.

The turning in will get you invariably in touch with love. In other words, you will get some sort of insight into how your life could be more loving.

In other words you get in touch with the universal wisdom of love.

Whatever you learn from going in and observing yourself will then result in some action in this practical world because this is a world of action where bodies do things.

There are many, many experiences along the way, many insights, many paths, many relationships, many elated experiences and as many wretched ones.

Throughout it all you get wiser and more experienced.

The longer this process goes on – and remember that there is no death – eventually there comes a point where there is only one experience left: the experience of experience itself and the experiencing consciousness (awareness) that is experiencing of the experience.

The drop becomes consistently aware of the ocean.

This is where dharana changes into meditation.

Practically, at this stage, your life will have changed. Whatever you do from now on will be in relation to the whole, not in relation to individual people, isolated belief system or in relation to your self.

However, as great as this may sound, it is still not the whole truth.

Because eventually the drop will fall into the ocean and realize the ocean is all there is.


3. SAMADHI – the eighth limb

I just said that the drop falls into the ocean.

Even better would be to say that the ocean falls into the drop – because this is more how it actually feels.

There is nothing that can be said about the state of Samadhi without creating a concept and thereby polluting the experience.

What can be said that Samadhi reveals the illusion of time and therefore existence.

Even the NOW disappears as there is no time at all.

Love becomes the only reality as the observing “I” also disappears into the whole.

What is left is nothing – the Stillpoint – which is and is not.

The great mystery of life.

In summary of this blog, (and for the fun of it) I’d like to create my own new sutras. My new sutras won’t make for many aphorisms but are much easier to put into daily practice.

1. Yama: – Simply love your life and love the people that you live with, speak the truth and examine why you want so much. Listen to your intuition.

2. Niyama: – Love your being, keep it’s energies clean on all levels (physically, nutritionally, mentally, emotionally and psychically). Create a crystal clear intelligent mind and stick to your practice of loving life. Examine your ”self” and never lose sight of the fact that this is an existence of love.

Asana: Love and listen to your physical body, keep it strong, healthy and flexible. Understand that you are a living miracle.

Pranayama: Breathe love in and breathe love out

Pratyahara: See the external world for what it is. Become able to withdraw at will from both thinking and emotion into the pure practical and tangible experience of the love of life. Stay awake and alert and notice how love will make you stronger.

Dharana: Focus your internal energies one-pointedly on whatever life wants you to focus on. Always stay open to the whole.

Dhyana: Practice focusing on everything at the same time.

Samadhi: Be the mystery. Share it, dance it, sing it!

So here you go, these are my sutras. Live them, examine them, ponder them deeply. They contain immense energy!


With love