Outer devotion and inner meditation

There was once a spiritual Master of the highest calibre who used to hold large public meditations several times a year. After one very successful meditation, a close disciple asked the Master if he would care to meet two of his friends who he felt were extremely spiritual. Because the Master was very fond of this particular disciple, he agreed, although the Master did not usually speak to visiting seekers. When the disciple introduced his friends, the Master meditated with them a moment and then asked, “Is there anything that you would like to ask me?”

The two seekers hesitated a moment and then one of them said, “Master, I can see that you are very great, and I know that my friend is a very sincere disciple of yours. But, forgive me, it seems to me that your disciples were acting like idiots or sheep, folding their hands and bowing to you all night. And you seemed to enjoy all this.”

The disciple was shocked and mortified that anyone could have said such a thing to his Master. Inwardly he cursed himself for bringing this seeker to the Master but outwardly he just signalled to his friends that it was time to leave.

But the Master stopped them and said, “Wait, let me answer his question. When my disciples fold their hands during meditation, the physical in me does not gain anything. At that time, my physical is like a dead body. It is not that I am a greedy fellow who wants my students to fold their hands or bow to me. I do not gain anything from such displays. But when they do these things, their devoted, soulful qualities come forward and they can receive more from me. When I am in my highest consciousness, my soul is flying through many worlds and my consciousness is flooding the hall.”

The close disciple bowed soulfully to his Master and was about to leave with his two friends, when the one who had so far remained silent also folded his hands and bowed to the Master. The first seeker then blurted out, “What happens if we fold our hands just because we see others doing it?”

The Master turned to him and replied, “It all depends on your inner feeling. If you don’t feel it spontaneously, you should not fold your hands at that moment. Why should you imitate somebody else? Why encourage hypocrisy in your life?”

The other seeker said quietly, “Master, I folded my hands in the hope that I would also feel what my friend was feeling.”

The Master smiled, “That is absolutely right. If you fold your hands, the physical has a more devoted consciousness, and you may receive the same inspiration, the same inner feeling, that has prompted somebody else to fold his hands. The outer can help the inner. I am most proud of your aspiration.” Then the Master turned back to the first seeker. “Just for the sake of imitation, it is not good to keep your hands folded if there is no feeling of devotion behind it. True, if somebody puts his hands up during a meditation and you follow his example, his inspiration may enter into you. But how do you know that he is not doing it just because someone else has done it? And that person may also have been imitating someone else. So you can see how ridiculous this can become.”

The seeker who had folded his hands was looking at the Master with love and joy. “Master, several times during the evening you looked at me and I felt a tremendous inner force. But since this was my first meditation with you, I wasn’t sure whether or not I should fold my hands.”

The Master looked pleased, “I am so happy that you have received from me. When I look at you during meditation, offering you my Peace, Light and Bliss, at that time if you fold your hands, your physical will actually be able to receive more from me. Your physical mind, your vital, even your heart will be able to receive more from me if you can have a respectful outer consciousness.”

“Master,” the seeker said, “I was happy when you looked at me, but I must admit that I wished you could have meditated on me more often. Of course, there were many, many people here tonight, so I know that it would have been impossible for you to give me any more attention.”

“Here you are making a mistake,” the Master said. “At public meditations and at my regular meetings, my consciousness is permeating the room. Some people, when they think that I am looking at the person next to them and that their turn is coming up, immediately fold their hands and become all alertness, eagerness, devotion and aspiration. Then, as soon as they think their turn is over, they stop aspiring and stop meditating. They relax and wait for their turn to come around again. But sometimes I am tricky. I look away for a moment or two, and then I look back at a disciple. At that time he is caught.

“Also, although I may be looking at someone in the first or second row and my full outer attention is on that person, at that same moment I may also be concentrating inwardly on someone in the back row. The poor people in the back are thinking, ‘When will our turn come? He will never get to us.’ But they should know that I do think of them and meditate on them. I may be looking at those in the first few rows, but my inner concern and guidance is for all. You people don’t realise that I can do many things at once. My concentration is on many things.”

The Master’s disciple said, “Master, I always thought that when you look at someone your full concentration and concern is on that individual. Could you explain what you actually meant just now?”

“When I look at a person,” the Master explained, “my full concentration, love and concern is on that person, but somebody else who is looking at me can easily receive from me more than that particular disciple is receiving because his aspiration, devotion and receptivity are more intense. It has happened many times that someone near the person I am meditating on, who is looking at me at that time, is receiving my Light in abundant measure. During the entire meditation, each seeker should aspire to receive the infinite Peace, Light and Bliss that I am offering to everyone at every moment.”

The seeker said, “I wish I had known that before.”

“Master,” the other seeker said, “I always thought that we are supposed to meditate with our eyes open, and I saw some of your disciples meditating with their eyes closed.”

“Sometimes people are very clever,” said the Master. “When I look at someone they don’t like, someone they consider to be their enemy, they close their eyes very tightly so that they don’t see me concentrating on him. Then, when they think their enemy’s turn is over, they open their eyes again. Or if they see that I am about to look at someone they are jealous of, they close their eyes and wait a few minutes until they think his turn is over.

“But one should meditate on the Master at all times. Why meditate on the back of the person in front of you and try to get your realisation that way? Or why keep your eyes closed and remain in your own world? You are not going to give yourself realisation. If you could, you would not have come to me. Meditate on the Master and enter into his world, his divinity.”

The seeker who had first spoken to the Master said, “Master, forgive my ignorance. You have been very patient with my questions and for that I am most grateful. I have never been able to understand why seekers show so much outer devotion to their Masters, but now I think I finally understand.”

“Both of you,” the Master said to the two seekers, “have received my Light according to your capacity. I am most pleased with you.” Then the Master bowed slowly to the three friends and walked away.

30 July 1974

Sri Chinmoy, The ambition-deer.First published by Agni Press in 1974.

This is the 135th book that Sri Chinmoy has written since he came to the West, in 1964.

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by Sri Chinmoy
From the book The ambition-deer, made available to share under a Creative Commons license

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