Question: Guru, is it all right if we whisper "The Invocation" so as not to disturb others who are sleeping?

Sri Chinmoy: I have said many times that "The Invocation" must never be sung in a whisper. "The Invocation" has to be audible. Other songs you may whisper or say under your breath, but "The Invocation" must be sung aloud so that you can hear it. I am not saying that you have to sing at the top of your voice, but it has to be audible. You can pray in silence; you can meditate in silence. But when you have to invoke, invoke so that you yourself can hear!

Again, even if you are praying, if you can hear what you are saying with your own ears and if you do it soulfully, it is much more effective. While you are praying in silence, you may not have the same intensity and eagerness, or you may fall asleep. But meditation has to be always in silence. There is no other way. Meditation and concentration have to be all in silence.

When we were young boys and young girls — twelve, thirteen or fourteen years old — the Mother of the Ashram received a prayer from Sri Aurobindo. That prayer became compulsory for all the Ashram school students. In each and every class, as soon as the teacher came in, we had to stand up and say that prayer. At that time the boys who were in a monkey-consciousness would never dare to remain in their ordinary consciousness, because Sri Aurobindo had written that prayer. He had written it for one individual, but the Mother wanted us all to recite that prayer. When it was time to say that prayer, how sincerely thirty or thirty-five students recited it! The teacher also, with folded hands, would say the same prayer with the students. In the modern-day world, will a teacher fold his hands? Will the students fold their hands? Of course, in the West, folding hands is not needed. In India it is needed.

That prayer begins, "I pray to be purified from self-will and self-assertion so that I can become docile and obedient…" At the age of twelve or thirteen, what does one know about self-will and self-assertion? Even at an advanced age perhaps some people do not know what self-will is or what self-assertion is. But we used to pray so soulfully. We recited that prayer so soulfully because we had such love, respect and devotion for Sri Aurobindo and we knew that Sri Aurobindo had written the prayer.

Another prayer was inscribed on Sri Aurobindo's Samadhi. The Mother gave it in French and also in English. When I used to bow down at the Samadhi, I would recite that prayer as soulfully as possible: "To Thee who hast been the material envelope of our Master…" With as much soulfulness as I could muster, I recited it.

Soulfulness, soulfulness, soulfulness! Without soulfulness, we are no better than parrots.