Question: What is the best method to meditate on your paintings, i.e. to receive the most from them as a meditation?1

Sri Chinmoy: Each painting has something to offer. According to one seeker one painting may embody more light than the other paintings. Now that seeker may think that it is light that he is seeing in the painting, but you as another seeker may come and find that particular painting abounding in peace. A third seeker may come into the gallery and see neither peace nor light, but power in that same painting. At that time, the seeker should dive deep within and see whether he needs light, peace or power. If you need to add more peace to your life, more than you already have, then at that time, try to invoke the peace which the painting embodies. If the other seeker who saw light in it wants to add more light to what he already has, then he should meditate on its light quality. If the third seeker wants to acquire more power, then he should meditate on the painting’s power aspect.

When he sees the painting right in front of him, he sees power. He concentrates on the painting and feels that it is not just a drop of power, but a flood of power, dynamic power, a running river with tremendous power. If it is a flood of power, a running reality that means the seeker is constantly creating something. Then he has to become one with the flow of the river. He has to become one with the flood of this power-consciousness. So if he sees power, then let him concentrate only on the power aspect of the painting. If he sees peace, then let him concentrate only on the peace aspect. If another person sees light, then he should concentrate on its light aspect, on the strength of his identification with the painting.

One should not see it as a piece of paper or the strokes of brushes or the physical medium of paint. No. Please feel that the painting is an intimate friend of yours. You can talk to him, chat with him, communicate with him because in him you have got a friend. For a long time you have not seen your friend, and now you can unburden yourself to him. Feel that you have to tell him everything that you have heard, that you have felt, since you last saw him. Each time you see a painting which you appreciate, please feel a long forgotten friend has just appeared before you. Now what happens when an old friend of yours comes to you quite unexpectedly? You get tremendous joy and you exchange your ideas with him; you exchange your feelings and experiences with him — everything you exchange. Each time you have this kind of exchange, you increase your light and delight. And believe me, you may feel that you are receiving something from the painting and the painting is not receiving anything from you, but this is wrong. It is a reciprocating friendship. Each time you appreciate the painting on the strength of your oneness, the painting itself increases its light-capacity.

I know there are many times when I have done this with my poems, with my paintings, with my music, with everything. Even after something is completed and being displayed, you can concentrate on the creation and increase its own achievements. When Aum Magazine, our monthly bulletin, first came out many years ago, say ten or twelve years ago, I had written articles to be printed in it and I did this same thing. After the magazine was printed and came back from the press, the first time I read it I had an experience. After I read it, I became totally one with each word, each idea, each ideal. With each experience that I had while reading it, I felt that I was giving new life to the article.

Something more: we look at a flower and our human mind feels that the flower has given us tremendous joy. It is true, but we have no idea as to how much joy we have given the flower itself. We have seen a flower and appreciated the beauty and the fragrance of the flower. We feel that out of its magnanimity, the flower has given us everything. But instead of using our capacity to appreciate the flower, we could have become jealous of the flower; we could have thought, “Oh God, you have made this flower so beautiful, why have you made me so ugly?” Instead of doing that, we became one with the beauty and fragrance of the flower and became inseparable friends with it. We gave the flower our best achievement, our sense of appreciation. What we had as our best quality, our best capacity, we offered to the flower or in the case of the gallery, we offered it to the painting.

When we give something cheerfully and devotedly, will it not be an added factor; will it not add to the reality that somebody or something is? The beauty of the flower definitely increases when we appreciate it. Our appreciation, sincere appreciation, means our conscious awareness, conscious oneness with the reality that we call a flower. So here also when you look at a painting and you appreciate it, please feel the beauty, inner beauty, subtle beauty of the painting. If you can soulfully appreciate it, then the reality of the painting has definitely increased. I have done it many, many, many times with my writings and my paintings and my own creative life.

So here the game is not one-sided — that somebody does something and you appreciate it and your part is over. No. You have given joy to yourself by seeing it. But you have no idea how much joy that particular object, that creation of God, has received from your soulful appreciation. Here appreciation is the expression of conscious oneness. So if you see power in a painting, then please identify yourself with that power aspect. You will not see the paper, or the painting, no, nothing. You will only see a consciousness-reality of God which at the present moment you are calling power and somebody else is calling light, and still another is calling peace or delight. Do not let the mind function at that time. Simply enter into the consciousness-reality of it and become that aspect.

  1. The following question was answered by Sri Chinmoy at the opening of this gallery on 4 November 1976.