VI. Meditation: individual and collective1

Meditation is the eye that sees the Truth, the heart that feels the Truth, and the soul that realises the Truth.

By meditation the soul becomes fully aware of its evolution in its eternal journey. By meditation we see the form evolve into the formless, the finite into the infinite; we see the formless evolve into the form, the infinite into the finite.

Meditation speaks. It speaks in silence. It reveals. It reveals to the aspirant that Matter and Spirit are one, quantity and quality are one, the immanent and the transcendent are one. It reveals that life is eternity itself, and can never be the mere existence of seventy or eighty years between birth and death. Our birth is a significant incident in God's own existence. And so is our death. In our birth, life lives in the body; in our death, life lives in the spirit.

Meditation, individual and collective. As the individual and the collective are in essence one, even so meditation, individual and collective. We are all children of God. Our body says that we are human. Our soul says that we are divine. No matter whether we are human or divine, we are one, inevitably and eternally. We are the inseparable parts of the whole. We complete the whole.

Vast is the ocean. You see a part of it. He sees a part of it. I see a part of it. But the full expanse of the ocean is far beyond our gaze. Our vision is limited. But the portion that each of us sees is not and cannot be separated from the entire ocean.

What does an orchestra produce? It produces a symphonic unity. Different notes on different instruments form the symphony. As each instrument plays its own notes, so the individual may meditate in his own way. But ultimately all will arrive at the basic realisation of oneness and the same goal. And this realisation is nothing other than liberation — liberation from Bondage, Ignorance, and Death.

Tat Twam Asi: That Thou art. This is indeed the secret that can be revealed in meditation. This Thou is not the outer man. This Thou is our soul, our divinity within. Our unlit and undivine nature tries to make us feel that the body is everything. Our illumined and divine nature makes us feel that our soul with no beginning and with no ending is everything. Indeed, it is the soul that is the breath of our existence either in Heaven or on earth.

Self-knowledge and the universal knowledge are not two different things. Everything in the universe becomes yours the moment you come to realise yourself. And what is this universe? It is the outer expression of your inner achievements. You are your own Saviour. Within you is your salvation. It is you who have to work for your salvation. You are your own fate-maker. To blame others for the unfavourable conditions of your life is beneath your dignity. Unfortunately this act of blaming others is one of man's oldest diseases. Adam blamed Eve for his temptation. Poor Eve, what could she do? She also did the same. She blamed another. No, we must not do that. If action is ours, responsibility is also ours. To try to escape the consequence is simply absurd, but to be free from committing blunders is wisdom; it is the real illumination. Trials and tribulations are within and without us. We shall have to ignore them. If this act of ignoring is not enough, we shall face them. If that too is not enough, we shall conquer them here and now. The paramount problem is how to conquer the trials and tribulations. We can conquer them only by our constant meditation. There is no substitute, no alternative.

From meditation, when it is deep and one-pointed, we get spiritual knowledge and pure devotion, which act not only simultaneously but harmoniously. The path of Bhakti (Devotion) and the path of Jnana (Knowledge) lead us ultimately to the same goal. Devotion is not blind faith. It is not an absurd adherence to one's inner feeling. It is a matchless process of spiritual unfoldment. Jnana is not something quite dry. Neither is it an aggressive power. Knowledge is the food that energises our earthly and heavenly existence. Devotion is delight. Knowledge is peace. Our heart needs delight and our mind needs peace, just as God needs us to manifest Himself and we need God to fulfil ourselves.

Meditation, individual and collective. It is easy to meditate individually. The aspirant is fortunate, for there stands no third person between the aspirant and God's Grace.

It is easy to meditate collectively, in a group. A student naturally gets joy while he is studying with others in the class. Here also the aspirant is fortunate, for the sincere aspiration of other seekers may inspire him.

True, there are difficulties in meditating individually. Laziness can plague the aspirant. True, there are difficulties in meditating collectively, because there is every possibility that others' ignorance and weakness may unconsciously attack the aspirant's body, mind and heart.

One thing we shall have to make sure, that is, whether individually or collectively, we shall have to meditate consciously. Unconscious effort is like forcing someone to play football in spite of his utmost unwillingness: He plays but gets no joy. A conscious effort is like playing football most willingly. He gets joy. Similarly, a conscious meditation gives us an inner delight from the soul.

Finally, each human being must have the spirit of a divine hero. If he is left alone in the thickest forest, he must have the inner strength to meditate without fear. If he is asked to meditate at Times Square amid the streams of human beings, he must have the inner strength to meditate without being disturbed in the least. Whether alone or with others, the aspirant must dwell in his meditation unshaken and unafraid.

  1. The sixth class of the Spring series on Yoga was held at the home of Mr. Eric Hughes and Mr. Sam Spanier, 43 Greenwich Avenue, New York City. 13 May 1966

Sri Chinmoy, AUM — Vol. 2, No. 3, 27 October 1966, Boro Park Printers -- Brooklyn, N. Y, 1966