Question: Is it important to meditate only at our shrine at home, or can we try to meditate wherever we are?
Sri Chinmoy: In the spiritual life there is a gradual progress. From a little child we become twelve or thirteen years old; then, when we are eighteen or nineteen or twenty-five, we reach our capacity in physical strength. Similarly, when we first launch into the spiritual life, we have to be very careful. We have to meditate in front of our shrine in our room. In addition, we should have a fixed hour for our meditation and we should always be punctual. A tree starts out as a seed then it becomes a tiny plant, then a tree. When it becomes a huge tree, it is not so easy to destroy. But when it is a tiny plant, it can easily be destroyed, so we put a fence around it to protect it.
When we are just beginning to follow a spiritual path, we should meditate at home, alone, in front of a shrine. If we have a Master, we should keep the Master’s picture on the shrine, and also candles and flowers to purify our consciousness. Also we should burn incense for purity. And if we have a Master, we will come and meditate with the other disciples of our Master. Then only will we gain strength.
But after we have meditated very sincerely for several years, we will develop some inner strength. At that time, while we are walking along the street or riding in the subway, our inner being will be strong, unimaginably strong so that we will not be affected at all. If we are advanced, while we are driving the car we will be able to meditate. Nothing will distract us. While we are in the subway, there will be thousands of people around us, but we will not be affected.
So we have to know what our standard is. If we are beginners, absolute beginners, then everything will stand in our way. If there is a noise, immediately it will distract our attention. But when we are strong, nothing can bother us. So before we are strong, it is better to meditate at home before a shrine with flowers, so that we can get purity and devoted feelings and aspiration. Then we will strengthen our inner nerves and our inner muscles.