Question: How does one get benefit from books on meditation in case one does not have access to a personal teacher?

Sri Chinmoy: If one does not have a personal teacher, how does one get benefit from books on meditation? If one does not have a spiritual Master, one has to read spiritual books. It is preferable to read books written by the spiritual Masters in whom one has implicit faith. There are many who have written books on spirituality, but do not practise spirituality. To be very frank with you, I have seen many sincere seekers at the universities who have meditated for many hours and with great sincerity. They are more sincere and they have paid more attention to their inner lives than some of those who have written books on spirituality. But again, there are Masters who have really attained to the highest level of consciousness. There are such Masters. There were such Masters. So, if you read, kindly read their books and you are bound to get inspiration. Their books will not supply you with inspiration only. There is aspiration within them too, and in aspiration you will get your illumination.

Now, here is the thing. Take a thief and a liar. A thief may tell you, “Don’t steal. Don’t steal. It is very bad!” A liar will tell you, “Don’t tell a lie. Don’t tell a lie. It is very bad!” If you listen to them, you will not commit a theft, you will not tell a lie. But, if you hear the same thing from a saintly person, it will be quite different. If he tells you, “Don’t tell a lie, don’t commit a theft,” then immediately you will get tremendous strength, tremendous energy and willpower within you. You will feel that in this life you will never tell a lie or steal anything. When a spiritual Master tells you something, he injects you with tremendous willpower. He may say the same thing as the others. A liar will tell you not to tell a lie. But, when a spiritual Master tells you, “Do not enter into a life of falsehood,” immediately you will see that there is tremendous inner power. You also have tremendous inner power. But it is the Master who has the capacity to bring your inner power to the fore.

Your question is very nice. I wish to advise you to read books by spiritual Masters. If you want to read on Indian spirituality, you can read the books that were written by Swami Vivekananda and others. Paul Brunton has written on Ramana Maharshi. Vivekananda has written on Sri Ramakrishna. There are others. Sri Aurobindo has written many books. There are genuine spiritual Masters whose books you can read. But in the bookstores I see hundreds and thousands of books written by people who have not meditated sincerely and devotedly even for one year. Now what will their experience be? What can they do? How can they help you in your aspiration? Since you are a sincere seeker, I wish you to read books written by the spiritual Masters. If not by the spiritual Masters, then by seekers of the higher level. You can read them and you will derive much help, inner and outer, from their books.

Have you been studying some books, spiritual books?

Yes, by Prabhavananda.

Oh yes. Certainly. Please read Prabhavananda. In him there is Sri Ramakrishna’s light. Yes, Prabhavananda was a very great seeker.