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April 07, 2005

Concentration and Obsession

I have recently received a number of questions regarding "concentration".

If you want to achieve good results in some activity, then it is important to concentrate. However, many people find that when they concentrate on something, they become tired easily and cannot continue.

What do you think?

Koichi Tohei sensei explains the difference between "concentration" and "obsession" in the following way:

In Japan, as elsewhere, there is an old saying that "Some people cannot see the forest for the trees". If you fix your eyes on the small picture, you will not be able to see the big picture. Also, in this state of limited seeing, you will tire easily and find it difficult to continue.

This condition is obsession, not concentration.

Concentration means that your mind is calm, and that you can see things as they are; life can be perceived as it is.

It is easy to understand if you compare the state of the mind to the surface of the water in a pond. Koichi Tohei sensei wrote about this in his book, Ki Sayings.

"Like the calm, still surface of the water that reflects the moon and a flying bird, true living calmness is the condition of our mind that reflects all things clearly."

When your mind is calm, it is like a calm still surface of the water. In this condition, the moon and a bird are clearly reflected on the surface of the water as they are.

When your mind is disturbed, it becomes like ripples on the water, and neither moon nor
bird can be reflected on the surface of the water clearly.

Tohei sensei taught me this, and I it showed me the way to the ultimate state of consciousness.
I practiced calming my mind when I had concentrated on something, not straining to concentrate. Once I practiced this, I found that, astonishingly, I was able to truly concentrate.

- When I teach Ki principles at a seminar or lecture
- When I make an important decision or judgement
- When I solve a problem or demand
- When I meet a person
- When I study, or when I read books
- When I write articles
- When I play a musical instrument

Before I wrote this article, I did not begin by sitting down in front of the computer. First, I calmed my mind, then I began writing this article.

If we cling to something, we fail to see it clearly, because we misunderstand this as concentration. However, you will not be able to continue concentrating in this way. You will loose your Ki and become tired.

If you feel that "When I concentrate on something I become tired", then I hope you will understand the difference between concentration and obsession. If you understand this, you will be able to change the way you use your mind.

Again, true concentration means to calm your mind naturally.

As I told you this last week, the best way to calm your mind naturally is to do Ki breathing everyday of the week.

To judge correctly, it is important to see the whole picture, not just a part of it. If you only see partially, or in a limited way, then you will not judge well.

I will talk about obsession more in the future.

Let's practice together.

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