On Concentration

The classic Indian example of concentration is found in the Mahabharata (after all, everything is found there). This particular episode takes place when the 5 Pandavas are young and training under Dronacharya. One day Drona lead the boys out into the forest to test their archery skills. He set up a wooden bird atop a tall tree across the river from where they were positioned. He called each of the boys to him one at a time. First, he called Yudhisthira and told him to take aim at the bird in the far distance.

He asked Yudhisthira, ‘What do you see?’

The son of Dharma responded, ‘I see the bird.’

‘What else so you see?’

‘I see the branch and leaves.’

‘What else?’

‘I see the other trees of the forest and the river’ said Yudhisthira.

Drona sent him back and called the powerful Bhimasena. He questioned Bhima,

‘What do you see?’

The son of Vayu responded, ‘I see the bird.’

‘What else so you see?’

‘I see the sky, the tree and the grass.’

Next Drona questioned Nakula and Sahadeva and received similar answers. Finally, Drona called Arjuna,

‘What do you see, Arjuna?’

‘I see blackness, Master.’

‘What else do you see?’

‘Nothing Master.’

He asked again, ‘You can see nothing else?’

‘No Master.’ said he with conviction.

Drona asked, ‘What is this blackness that you see?’

‘It is the pupil of the bird!’ explained the son of Indra.

The Master questioned him further, ‘Do you see the branch, leaves, tree or sky?’

‘No Master.’ was again the response, ‘I can see nothing but the blackness of the bird’s eye.’


To offer a similar an example of the same variety but of a more relatable nature for most of us. My friend once told me about his experience when he was a high level tennis pro. He explained that when he was “in the zone”, only the ball existed. He said that despite the opponent, the pressure, and the crowds, he could only see the ball.

Here’s a video of a very focused individual displaying this exact point.

Who needs a paddle? Check 1:40 to see him breathtakingly strike a match. I found out that this is not Bruce Lee but an advertising campaign by Nokia piggy-backing on his image. That explains why the fellow is playing table-tennis in the iconic yellow track suit.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Helen
    Dec 01, 2011 @ 07:44:33

    I truly find this a interesting subject. Never looked at this subject in this manner. If you are planning to create more articles relating to this subject, I definitely will be back in the near future!


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