Question: How can one overcome a feeling of hell and doubt when one meditates?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, if our meditation is soulful, we cannot experience hell and doubt. But if our meditation is not soulful, how can we overcome a feeling of hell and doubt? First of all, we must have a fondness for meditation, a liking for meditation. Some people meditate in a mechanical way. They take it as a routine, as something imposed on them. But nobody can impose meditation on us. We have to accept it on our own. Very often people get bitter experiences and frustrated feelings during their meditation. Why? Because they do not like or love meditation. They simply feel that from meditation they will get something special, something unique. They are like beggars who think that by begging they will be able to become millionaires overnight. Very often when a seeker enters into the spiritual life he thinks that his entire existence will be inundated with peace, light and bliss overnight. But everything takes time. One cannot become a millionaire overnight; one has to work hard. One cannot get a Master's degree in one day or in one year. One has to pass through kindergarten, primary school, high school, college and university.

So why do we have the experience of hell and doubt during our meditation? Because we are pulling and pushing. We are pushing ourselves beyond our capacity and we are pulling in something beyond the capacity of our receptivity. Our receptivity is very limited. We are trying to pull in something which will break the vessel within us. Or we are pushing ourselves beyond our capacity. We do not have the capacity to run, but we are pushing ourselves like the fastest runner in the world. Even though we do not have the capacity, we feel that by running we will reach the Goal. True, we have to reach our Goal, but if we run beyond our capacity, we will only fall and break our legs. Then our spiritual life will end.

We are experiencing doubt because we are not following the spiritual path systematically. We doubt humanity, we doubt God or we doubt ourselves. A seeker often feels that he will never realise God. Either God does not exist for him or he feels that he will not realise God because he is not pure enough, sincere enough or disciplined enough. But he is wrong. If the son exists, then the Father exists. If the seeker was created by God, which is absolutely true, then the creation is bound to reach the Creator. As the Creator can at any moment enter into the creation, so too the creation, with its sincere inner urge, can and will enter into the Creator.

Unfortunately, many people cherish a wrong idea called hell. There is no such thing as hell; it is only limitation, bondage. We are now experiencing the finite. Unfortunately, we have not yet experienced the Infinite, the Immortal and the Eternal. Just because we have not yet felt the Infinite, we feel that the opposite — the finite — is hell. But we have to know that the bondage that we are experiencing every day is only a passing phase. It is like an overcast day. For half an hour or for a few hours the sun does not shine, but finally the sun comes out. Each individual has an inner sun. This inner sun is now covered by fear, doubt, worries, anxiety, imperfections and limitations. But a day will come when we will be able to remove these clouds and then the inner sun will shine brightly.

If we believe in hell, then we are only belittling our own inner potentiality. We are all God's children. For us there is no hell; there is only light. But if we do not see the truth in the way that the truth has to be seen, then there is inner pain. This pain is bound to occur every day in our life. The truth is there, but we have to see the truth in the proper way. Then only will we see that life has its true meaning.

When we meditate, we must not expect anything from our meditation. God is meditating in and through us. The very fact that we want to meditate should please us. Millions of people are not meditating; they are wallowing in the pleasures of ignorance. How is it that out of millions and billions of people, we are ready to meditate? God has chosen us. The very fact that we are meditating means that we have been blessed by God. Here we have to know that He who has given us the capacity to meditate will also give us the result. But there is something called God's choice Hour. Just because we have started meditating, we cannot expect peace, light and bliss overnight.

We have to feel that we are divine farmers. We cultivate the land and sow the seed. Then we have to wait for rain, for the divine Grace. A farmer does not get a bumper crop in a day. Similarly, a spiritual seeker will not get the bumper crop of God-realisation in a single day. If he wants to do this, then he is pushing himself beyond his capacity or pulling something beyond the capacity of his receptivity. He will naturally be frustrated and his frustration he will call hell. He must wait for God's choice Hour and remain satisfied with the idea that God will give him the capacity to meditate at His choice Hour. Patience is necessary. God has given us the capacity to meditate, so we should be grateful that He has chosen us and not anybody else right now. Then we have to wait for God's choice Hour. If we pull, if we push, then frustration will appear; and in frustration we will feel hell. We will doubt our own spiritual capacity and God's existence. So if we meditate for God's sake and not for our own sake, then we will never have doubt or this feeling of hell.