Question: Guru, with seekers from established spiritual cultures whom we meet around the world, one of the most difficult things is to make them feel how our path is different from the traditional spirituality they were raised with. I am wondering if you could offer some advice.3

Sri Chinmoy: It will take time for some cultures to understand our yoga because they have their own way of thinking. Our path may be different from other paths, needless to say, but we will never say our goal is different from theirs — no! The Ultimate Goal is the same. Whether an individual follows Lord Buddha’s path, or Sri Ramakrishna’s path, or Sri Krishna’s path, the Ultimate Goal is always the same. But when we arrive at the goal, we may call that goal by different names. The goal is the same, but we may call it by any name, according to our liking.

First my name was Ganapati. Then it became Madal, then Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy and, for my disciples, Guru. All those names refer to the same person. Like that, sometimes it happens that we arrive at the same goal, but we give different names to the goal.

Again, people may misunderstand our way. Those who live in the mind will often misunderstand. There were spiritual Masters of the highest order who did not write books, did not compose songs or poems, did not create thousands of paintings. In so many fields, specially with regard to physical fitness and exercise, other spiritual Masters did not take part, so it is very easy for people to misunderstand me.

People may say that other spiritual Masters meditate for hours and hours inside their rooms or in their own Himalayan caves. In my case, some people will say I am spending so many hours in all my outer activities, so when do I meditate? But these people will not understand, or will not even believe, that there is a kind of meditation which is called untiring, ceaseless meditation. There is such a stage. It is most difficult, unimaginably difficult to attain to that stage. Many, many spiritual Masters, even those of the highest order, could not attain to that stage. At that point the soul, or we can say the Inner Pilot, is constantly meditating. I meditate in front of the disciples, here and there. But inside me there is constant meditation, which nobody will be able to see. Who will be able to believe, even, what I am?

On the human level, sometimes, it takes a few minutes, half an hour or even hours for an individual to enter into his highest. You know what is your highest consciousness. Some people take a very long time, while others can reach that stage in the twinkling of an eye. Whether you believe it or not, in the twinkling of an eye I can go to my highest. Most of the time I am in my highest, but if I am not in my highest, even if I am chatting with the disciples, in a matter of a few seconds I can go to the highest.

We have not come into the world to prove anything. We have come into the world to complete a game in our own way — that is to say, the way the Supreme has chosen for us.

Some people believe in yoga. Some people believe that if you do japa millions of times, that is meditation. I never did japa in India — never! Japa my brother Mantu did. He repeated Lord Shiva’s name: “Shiv, Shiv, Shiv, Shiv, Shiv.” Here in America, two or three years ago I did some japa. Spiritual Masters of the highest order were inwardly saying, “What are you doing?” I said, “I want to do japa now. I did not do it in India, so now I am trying japa.” They said it was absolutely unnecessary for me.

Some spiritual Masters realised God in this incarnation, but your Guru, Sri Chinmoy, did not realise God only in this incarnation — no, no! Many, many, many years ago, hundreds of years ago, I attained my God-realisation. It was not in this incarnation. In this life, between the ages of thirteen and fourteen, I was revising my God-realisation-book. I was revising it very fast, very fast. Let us say somebody has studied a book and he knows everything in the book. After some time he reviews the book and brings everything to the fore very quickly.

In this incarnation also, in my early years, I meditated seriously for hours every day. I did not have any disciples at that time. I meditated for years at seven minutes past two in the morning. I started doing that after my Guru came to me inwardly every day for ten days or so to inspire me to get up at that time. I meditated in my room, I meditated in the street. While cycling I meditated. At home, while I was eating with my older brothers and sisters, I was also meditating. Sometimes I would recline with my legs up while eating, but my eldest brother, who specially deserved respect, did not mind how I was eating. My other family members also did not mind. That peculiar habit I have not given up: eating while lying down. Thousands of years ago also I did that.

Some seekers, some cultures have their own system. They say that if you pray, if you meditate, if you practise all kinds of disciplines, then you are spiritual. But I wish to say that spirituality is in consciousness. While walking, you can think of your breakfast or you can think of your enemies; you can think of anything. Again, while walking you can meditate. Sri Ramakrishna was often walking and meditating, mile after mile. He also meditated under the Panchavati tree. When Sri Aurobindo’s legs were in good condition, for six or seven hours he used to meditate while walking. Lord Buddha used to meditate while walking. Afterwards he meditated at the foot of the Bodhi tree. Every day Mahavira, while walking mile after mile, was meditating. There were many spiritual Masters who used to meditate while walking. In my case, while cycling also I did very good meditation.

God alone knows why, out of two thousand people or more, the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram chose me to meditate in Sri Aurobindo’s room. To four or five disciples the Mother gave permission to meditate once a month in Sri Aurobindo’s room, on the first of the month. For three months we meditated. The leader of that group was so kind to me. He inspired me or compelled me to learn English metre. Today I know English metre and English poetry because he encouraged me to learn. One day he told me, “I have got permission from the Mother for you to meditate in Sri Aurobindo’s room.” I could not believe it. In the South Indian heat, from one o’clock to one-thirty we were supposed to meditate there. According to the Mother’s assistant, instead of meditating, some of us were fast asleep in the South Indian heat!

When the Mother heard this news, she withdrew her invitation to the group. But then she sent me a message: every day I must come and meditate. With that small group, once a month I meditated in Sri Aurobindo’s room for three months. Then the Mother’s assistant told me to come every morning to Sri Aurobindo’s door, to an important place where the Mother and Sri Aurobindo used to give darshan.

Again I am saying that my meditation is of a totally different type. Everybody’s meditation is unique in its own way. In our spiritual life, why should a garden have only one kind of flower? There should be other flowers. If one garden has roses plus other flowers, will somebody go to a garden where there is only a rose? That person will say, “No, I would like to have other flowers as well.” There are some stores where special things are sold, but why do we go to the supermarket? Because everything is there.

Alas, Swami Vivekananda had critics. Once he and his spiritual brothers were dancing while musical instruments were being played. They were dancing, dancing and dancing, and they were chanting very soulfully. Sri Chaitanya’s path is also like that. Singing and dancing, they go forward in the street. That is their style.

An American lady had given Swami Vivekananda a great deal of money. Some critics said to that American lady, “Look, look! What have you done? You gave him so much money, and now they are dancing! Indian meditation means to sit cross-legged and be very serious, one-pointed. Instead of that, Swami Vivekananda and his group are dancing here!”

This lady was a Westerner, but she also thought that Indian meditation had to be practised inside the Himalayan caves or in a closet, so she became upset. The critics convinced her that Indian meditation is meant to take place always inside a closet, with no public show.

Again, some spiritual figures are afraid of meditating in front of thousands of people. They feel that all the undivine forces, the lower vital forces of the audience will attack them, so the best thing is for them to meditate inside a small room. Alas, alas! People who are afraid of facing the world still have to deal with their own mind. They can remain in their room, but their mind, like a magnet, can invite millions of thoughts, unhealthy and unaspiring.

Some followers of Sri Krishna’s path here in America, in Russia and all over the world are dancing and dancing. I am very grateful to them for offering their aspiration. They have found their way in devotional dancing. We have found our way: through our Peace-Blossoms, our Peace Run and World Harmony Run and so many other activities. We do not have to convince any seekers that our way is the best way. We will only say that our way is one way. Their ways are their ways. We cannot convince anybody. If I am satisfied with ice cream, I will eat ice cream. I do not have to worry what others say about ice cream.

It is very difficult for some seekers to accept other ways. Then again, the same people, when they see that the rest of the world has claimed someone, will also claim that individual. Three weeks before Tagore got the Nobel Prize, in one magazine a poem of his was mercilessly criticised. The critic said the poem was simply horrible. Three weeks later, what happened? The same critic, in the same newspaper, said so many nice things about that poem. It was absurd, unimaginable! He extolled Tagore to the skies for that poem. Before Tagore received the Nobel Prize, that critic gave Tagore his ruthless criticism.

Before Swami Vivekananda became well known, nobody paid attention to him. He had a few devotees here and there, and some critics. But once Swami Vivekananda became famous, once the Western world accepted him, his compatriots claimed him immediately.

If we are successful in arriving at our goal in our way, then others will claim us. We will show the seekers our way, but if they do not accept our way, let them find their own way.

GMG. 3-12, Sri Chinmoy answered these questions on 14 September 2006 at Aspiration-Ground in Jamaica, New York.