Concentration for a life full of meaning and joy

How we successfully achieve our goals with more focus

Author: Dandapani

Issue No: TV 96

Never before have people been faced with so many distractions and entertainment options as in the present time. In this interview, Dandapani, who lived as a monk for ten years, reveals why it is so important to train one’s concentration and attention in order to lead a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Tattva Viveka: Why is concentration so important? Why do you talk about the power of concentration at a time when there is so much mental distraction and inattention?

Dandapani: The question is first of all why concentration is so important. I would say that most people in general want to live a happy life, or at least be happy. Nobody wakes up in the morning and wants to feel unhappy. No, people want to be happy.

How do we become happy? We don’t strive for happiness, we become happy when we do something we love or spend time with people and things we love.

If I love my best friend and spend time with him or her, I am happy. If I love my daughter and enjoy spending time with her, that makes me happy. If Joe likes to play the guitar, he feels happy when he practices the guitar. The first step is to find out what we love and what makes us happy.

The second step is that when I am with my daughter, I can concentrate entirely on her. Because if I am physically with her but my consciousness is somewhere else, I don’t experience her. And if I don’t experience her, how can I feel this happiness, this joy and all the beautiful feelings that arise when we are with persons and things we love?

We don’t focus for the sake of focusing, we focus because of what the focus gives us.

It is the same with meditation: nobody wakes up in the morning to meditate, that is, just to meditate. One meditates because of the side effects of meditation. What does meditation give us? It gives us a sense of calm, a sense of peace, a sense of contentment and the possibility of having control over our lives. It is the same with concentration: We focus so that we can fully experience who and what we love.

When I spend two hours with my daughter, I am physically with her for two hours, but mentally I am somewhere else. I don’t experience her, I don’t feel joy, I don’t feel happiness. When I get to the end of my life, I look back and say, “Wow, that was an empty life. However, the focus allows me to experience what I love.

That’s why I want to live a focused life, so that I can live a rich life. Not financially rich, but a life full of rewarding experiences. The bottom line is that if you say, “Many people are distracted today” – and they are – and “they should learn to focus”, hardly any people will do that. But if you give them a reason why they should concentrate, the real reason, they will. If a parent says to his child, “You are so distracted, you must concentrate,” the child will wonder, “Why should I concentrate?” But if you tell him that if you concentrate, you will become a better basketball player or a better football player or a better musician, or you can get a higher score in your video game, then he agrees and wants to learn to concentrate.

TV: We need practical examples and we need to know where they lead us.

Dandapani: Yes, and if it’s not applicable in someone’s life and doesn’t lead to a better result, then there’s no reason to acquire anything. It’s like when you say to me to eat broccoli and I ask you why, because I don’t want to eat broccoli. But if you can convince me where it will lead me and how it will improve my life, then I will do it. It’s human nature, we’re all like that.

If I tell you there is a pot of gold on the other side of the hill, then you climb the hill and go to the other side to get the pot of gold.

TV: Focus is the way we achieve our purpose in life, isn’t it?

Dadapani: Yes, exactly, because in order to realise your purpose you have to be able to concentrate long enough to maintain the state of self-reflection.

The only way to know your purpose is to look inside yourself and ask yourself: what makes me happy, what drives me, what is my passion? Why am I here? But if I can’t focus and say to myself, “Well, I’m going to take ten minutes this morning to reflect on my life, to identify what’s important to me,” here’s what happens: I sit down for ten minutes and have the following monologue: So, Dandapani, what makes you happy? What are you passionate about? It’s eleven o’clock in the morning, so I should really deal with lunch, maybe yesterday’s leftovers, yeah, I think that’s okay, maybe have something else for dinner. Oh right, what is my life about? The phone beeps, has someone sent me a message? I should check my messages, maybe it’s an important call, maybe I’m late for the interview I should be on time for. No, I should think about my life …

That’s why people never find out what they want in life, because consciousness is always jumping all over the place. It can’t stay with what it’s dealing with or with itself long enough to know what you want in life. That’s how most people go through life. If you ask them the simple question of what their goal in life is, they can’t give you a clear answer because they don’t even know.

TV: So, we find out our purpose in life by focusing on it long enough.

Dandapani: For example, if I want to know you, how would I do that? Yes, I can Google you or search you on LinkedIn and find out a little bit, but if we meet once a week and have coffee together for an hour or two every Friday, then after a year we know each other really well. You know what I like to eat, what I like to drink, what music I like, what makes me happy, what makes me sad. I know the same about you, but I can only get to know you if I spend time with you, and during that time I can focus on you and ask the right questions. But if I can’t focus on you when I’m sitting with you, and I keep looking around and saying, “Look at that bird, that’s interesting, I’ve never seen that before, oh, what did you say again? In this way I would never get to know you, and it is the same with people themselves, they never get to know themselves because they cannot concentrate long enough. One of the most important aspects I emphasise in my book is in the first two chapters where I explain why we should learn to concentrate. I need to convince readers how this will change their lives. Teaching them to focus is secondary, first I have to get them to understand how this will really change their lives, and once they see it, then they will embrace it, then they will want to learn it. But just telling them to focus because they are distracted is like me resolving to eat better, exercise more….

About the interviewee:

Dandapani is a Hindu priest, entrepreneur and former monk with ten years of experience. An internationally sought-after speaker, he speaks about harnessing the human spirit and the power of concentration to create a life of meaning and joy. He and his wife are currently building a 33-acre spiritual sanctuary and garden in Costa Rica to support their mission to promote self-transformation and positively change humanity’s relationship with nature.

This article was originally published on the German website: Die Ogdoadische Tradition

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