Swami Sivananda Saraswati

There is great attention if the object is very pleasing. You will have to create interest. Then there will be attention. If the attention gets diminished, change your attention to another pleasant object. By patient training you can direct the mind to attend to an unpleasant object also by creating interest. Then your will can grow strong.

If you closely watch, you will note that you observe different objects at different times. This perception of now one object and now another when the physical conditions are constant, is known as the fluctuation of attention. Attention is changing. The objects themselves change or fluctuate but there is no fluctuation in the observing individual himself. The mind has not been trained to bear prolonged attention. It gets disgusted through monotony and wants to run towards some other pleasing object. You may say, ‘I am going to attend to one object only', but you will soon find that even though you may attempt very hard, you suddenly perceive something else. The attention wanders.

Interest develops attention. It is difficult to fix the mind on an uninteresting object. When a professor is lecturing, when the subject is abstract and metaphysical, many people leave the hall quietly because they cannot attend when the subject is uninteresting. But if the same professor sings and tells some interesting and thrilling stories, all the people hear him with rapt attention. There is pin-drop silence. Lecturers should know the art of attracting the minds of their audience. They will have to change the subject matter for a short time, and bring in some nice stories and suitable illustrations. They will have to look at the listeners directly in their eyes. So many things are necessary if one wants to become a successful lecturer, if one wants to make the audience more attentive.

Napoleon, Gladstone, Arjuna, Jnanadeva all had wonderful power of attention. They could fix their minds on any object. All scientists and occultists possess attention to a remarkable degree. They cultivate it by patient, regular and systematic practice. A judge and a surgeon can get positive success in their respective professions only if they are endowed with the power of attention to a high degree.

When you do any work, plunge yourself into it. Forget yourself. Lose the self. Concentrate upon the work. Shut out all other thoughts. When you do one thing, do not think of any other thing. When you study one book, do not think of any other book. Fix the mind there steadily like the arrow- maker who has no consciousness of his surroundings. Eminent scientists are so busy in their experiments and researches in their laboratories that they forget to take food, even for days together. Once a scientist was very busy at his work. His wife, who was living in another district, had a serious calamity. She came running up to him in the laboratory with profuse tears in her eyes. Strange to say the scientist was not a bit agitated. He was so very attentive at his work that he even forgot that she was his own wife. He said, “Madam! Weep for some more time. Let me make chemical analysis of your tears.”

Once, a gentleman invited Sir Isaac Newton in for dinner. Newton went to his host’s bungalow and took his seat in the drawing room. The gentleman forgot all about Newton, took his dinner and retired to his bed. Newton was amusing within himself very absorbedly on some important point of science. He did not stir from his seat. He forgot all about his dinner and remained like a statue in the same chair for a very long time. The next morning the host saw Newton in the drawing room, and only then remembered inviting him for dinner. He felt sorry for his forgetfulness, and apologized to Newton in a meek voice. What wonderful power of attention Sir Isaac Newton had! All geniuses possess this power to an infinite degree.