In the spiritual life every day we meditate. As we feed the body so also we feel that it is obligatory to feed the soul. Individual meditation we will do early in the morning at home, when we are alone. But collective meditation we also have to do. When we enter into the spiritual life, we try to widen our consciousness. We are all God’s children; we belong to one spiritual family. If there are ten members in a spiritual family, then they should meditate together at least once a week.
While feeding the soul individually at home in my room, I don’t need anybody to see or feel what I am doing. But if I claim to be one of the members of a large family, then I feel it is my duty to be of service to others. When we meditate collectively we can be of real help to one another. Sometimes it is difficult to meditate in a group. This is absolutely true. But if you feel that someone is pulling down your consciousness, then you need not sit beside that person. But again, even if you do not sit beside that person, still you can be of help to him.
It is like this. Today you are in a very high state of consciousness and the person who is sitting beside you is not meditating well. But your very presence, your own aspiration, will lift up that person who is sitting beside you. Now, tomorrow it may happen that you are low, while the consciousness of the other person is very high. So at that time he will be able to lift you up. Collective meditation is meant for mutual help. Nobody can say that every day he meditates well. Nobody can say that every day he eats the soul’s most delicious food. No. Every day he eats, but he cannot say that every day he is eating a most delicious meal.
And then, we have to feel that it is like a tug-of-war. You are in a very high state of consciousness. The seeker beside you is also in a very high state of consciousness. If ten persons meditate together and they are all in a very high state of consciousness, then it is like ten persons on one side in a tug-of-war. And ignorance is one person on the other side. Since ignorance is only one person, while all your spiritual brothers and sisters are meditating on one side, naturally it will be infinitely easier for you to conquer ignorance.
When disciples meditate together, they have to feel their oneness. The individual should not feel that he is stronger than any of the other disciples. No! Each individual has to feel that he is the strongest only by virtue of his oneness with the others. He has to feel that he is the strongest because he has become one with his brother and sister disciples in their aspiration.
In collective meditation the disciples should start by offering gratitude to the Supreme. If anyone is really sincere in his spiritual life, he will feel the necessity of gratitude. A moment of gratitude is equivalent to an hour of most intense meditation. Then, after offering gratitude, the disciples will try to empty their inner vessels. If twenty persons are sitting together, they have to feel that they are only one vessel. They are not individuals; they have become one vessel and they are one in their receptivity. But each one has to feel that it is his obligation and responsibility to empty the vessel. He can’t feel, “Oh, since we are all one, let him do it for me.” No, in this oneness each disciple has to play his own part. Then, when the vessel is filled with purity, peace, light and bliss, all the disciples inwardly drink these divine qualities.
It is not advisable for disciples following one path to meditate with disciples of another path. If you are following one path and the person sitting beside you is following a different path, in spite of your best aspiration there will be an inner conflict between your aspiration and his. When you are ready to fly, the person next to you will pull you back because unconsciously there will be the urge to surpass you. He will try to go beyond you and you will try to go beyond him. Even if you consciously say, “Oh, he follows another path, no harm. We are not competing, still this does not help. There is an unconscious competition. You feel that your path is better than his and he feels that his is better than yours.
It is always advisable that the disciples of one spiritual Master meditate only with those on their own path. It is not that you are being mean; far from it. Only you have to feel that you are living in your house and somebody else has to live in his own house. All those who follow a particular spiritual Master are like members of the same spiritual family. They can pray and meditate together because they have the feeling of oneness with their spiritual brothers and sisters.
But when it is a matter of inspiration, if you want to talk with spiritual people you happen to meet who follow other paths, you can. You are trying to reach God and they are trying to reach God. That means that you and they both possess inspiration, even though it may not be of the same standard. Just because a flower gives you inspiration, you look at it. You stand in front of a rose and the rose gives you inspiration. You stand in front of a lotus and the lotus gives you inspiration. They are different flowers, but both give you inspiration. Similarly, if you happen to meet disciples of other Masters, if you speak with them, you will get inspiration and they will get inspiration. But when it is a matter of real, lasting friendship, inner oneness, this you will have only with members of your own spiritual family. One day, when you become advanced, you will feel oneness with all humanity. But for the time being, it is best for the disciples to make close ties only with other disciples.