A brilliant young student, feeling proud of his great knowledge, once asked his teacher, Narada, to explain to him why it is that everyone can’t see the Eternal Truth, cul­tivate one-pointed attention, make discrimi­nating choices and, in that spiritual awaken­ing, end their sorrow. With great love for the disciple and an understanding of his limita­tions, the master agreed to share this knowl­edge, but only after the young man fetched a glass of water from a nearby house to quench Narada’s thirst.

The eager disciple approached the house and knocked. When the door opened, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen stood before him. As he gazed into her eyes, he fell deeply in love, and the two soon married. In the years that followed, he and his wife found joy in one another, were blessed with healthy children and amassed considerable wealth and property.

But after many years his fortunes changed. Death snatched away the lives of his wife and children, and floods destroyed his property. He was left alone, poor and old. Then one night, as he sat brooding in his hut, there came a knock at the door.

When he opened it, his master, standing before him, asked, “So? Where’s my glass of water?”

The mind, ignorant of its true nature, habitually moves among desire, fear and anger. When the mind operates in this man­ner, our decision-making process becomes corrupted, and neglects the discriminative faculty of the Conscience (buddhi) in favor of the rapid-fire, unexamined reactions born of deep-seated, unconscious habits or com­pulsions (samskaras).

In principle, the training of your atten­tion is simple: when the mind wanders, gen­tly bring it back to that which leads you for your highest and greatest good. Problems arise when a distraction is not just a stray thought, but the product of a deep habit pat­tern––a compulsive resentment, worry or desire. The power of such thoughts grows because there’s nothing the ego likes more than thinking about itself, justifying its dualistic orientation and fearing its own annihilation.

In the midst of such challenges, our leader is the mantra. Whenever a contractive thought appears in your awareness, witness and honor it, then withdraw your attention and redirect your attention to the mantra. When the mantra takes hold, the connection between the distracting thought and your attention is broken. A compulsive thought or powerful sense craving has no real power of its own. All its power comes from the atten­tion you give––and as you withdraw your attention, your spiritual awareness heightens. Then the formerly powerful thought, desire or emotion can no longer compel you to act in conflict with your own ever-expanding inner wisdom.

In Sanskrit the point of fully focused attention is called bindu––a seemingly insignificant dot vibrating with awesome possibility. This concept can be easily grasped by considering its parallel in physics: the process of nuclear fission. When concentrated energy penetrates an atom it releases enormous energy, enough power to destroy––or to illuminate––a major city.

As the training of your attention grows, you’ll observe a similar, more subtle process occurring in your own consciousness. When you cultivate concentrated, one-pointed attention on the immense power of Love––within you, and in all that you encounter––you gain the freedom to choose thoughts, words and actions that reliably serve your highest and greatest good.

About the author


Leonard Perlmutter (Ram Lev)

Leonard is an American spiritual teacher, a direct disciple of medical pioneer Swami Rama of the Himalayas, and a living link to the world’s oldest health and wisdom spiritual tradition. A noted educator, philosopher and Yoga Scientist, Leonard is the founder of the American Meditation Institute, developer the AMI Foundation Course curriculum, and originator of National Conscience Month. He is the author of the award-winning books The Heart and Science of Yoga and YOUR CONSCIENCE, and the Mind/Body/Spirit Journal, Transformation. A rare and gifted teacher, Leonard’s writings and classes are enlivened by his inspiring enthusiasm, vast experience, wisdom, humor and a clear, practical teaching style. Leonard has presented courses at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, numerous medical colleges, Kaiser Permanente, the Commonwealth Club of California, the U. S. Military Academy at West Point and The New York Times Yoga Forum with Dean Ornish MD.