Ian Cairns: You've spoken with Muhammad Ali and people like that. Does he use meditation?
Sri Chinmoy: Yes! I had a talk with him, a most soulful talk, for about two and a half hours. The first part of it we missed; the tape recorder failed us. But the second part was recorded. Our conversation was all about spirituality. He prays most sincerely and even before he goes to fight he prays with his manager, Herbert Muhammad. He prays to Allah for Allah's guidance, for Allah's Light, so that he can also serve mankind. His heart is full of simplicity and sincerity. We meditated together for about ten or fifteen minutes and then he asked me many questions about prayer and meditation and told me about his own spiritual life. We had a very soulful conversation.
Ian Cairns: So through meditation you are able to improve your own level of endeavour by ignoring outside influences?
Sri Chinmoy: We make tremendous improvement through meditation. This is the only way of improving any part of life; there is no other way to make abiding progress. But we don't ignore anything. The negative aspects of life are also part and parcel of Mother Earth. If we ignore them, what will happen? They will come again and attack our near ones and dear ones. So what we do is try to change them, transform them. In the beginning we do not pay attention to them precisely because we want to be strong. If you are weak, how are you going to protect others? But if you become strong, then you will be in a position to help and protect others. And it is meditation that makes you strong and powerful.
So first we become strong. Then we will be in a position to help others. But we do not ignore anything; only in the beginning, we pay attention to Beauty, Light and Delight. When we get Light and Delight, through this Light and Delight we can be transformed. We try to pay all attention to the positive aspects of life so that we muster courage, strength, will-power in infinite measure. Then, when the negative aspects turn up, we try to change the fate of those who are in the world of darkness and indulgence.
Ian Cairns: When you are riding waves, you are not up against energy forces of other people; you are up against the energy of the ocean. Often I've found that, through a positive mental approach to the waves, you can overpower the energy of the ocean and every good wave will come to you. You have a complete confidence and sort of know that everything will go right. Would that be something akin to natural meditation?
Sri Chinmoy: Certainly! When you are surcharged with infinite energy, then no matter what you are facing, you will not be frightened. When you have divine energy in boundless measure, your divine energy enters into the wave before you touch that wave. Then your energy, which is boundless, immediately makes friends with the wave. Even if the wave has destructive energy, no harm. You embody the energy which is infinitely more powerful than the energy which the wave possesses. Then what happens is that the destructive energy in the wave surrenders to the constructive energy which you embody. And where did you get this energy from? You got it directly from meditation.
Ian Cairns: To do all these sorts of things, do you have to lead any special kind of religious life? Or can you maintain your own life-style?
Sri Chinmoy: You do not have to give up your previous life in order to meditate. If you want to remain in your religion, then you should remain in your religion; the path of meditation will never ask anybody to give up his religion. Ours is not a religion, ours is only a path. Religion is a home. So you will come from your home to this place of study and I will come from my home. You don't have to give up your religion and I don't have to give up my religion. But we do have to go to the school in order to get wisdom. And the school is meditation. So when you are practising meditation. you do not have to give up religion. That is not necessary at all. Only you have to be sincere.
By virtue of your sincerity, your talent and your perseverance, you are the world's best surfer. In the spiritual life also, you have the same sincerity. If you have the willingness to become good, divine and perfect, then you are bound to succeed. It has taken you quite a few years to become an adept in surfing. In the spiritual life it also takes some time, but it is all done by God's Grace. God has chosen you out of millions and millions of people to become a world champion. He has not selected anybody else. He has not selected your brother or father; he has selected you. Why? Because He wants you to serve Him in mankind in this particular way.
So we don't have to give up our religion, only we have to study at our inner school. The inner school teaches only one thing: God's Grace and God's Compassion. This is the subject we have to study. God's Grace can do everything for us provided we believe in God's Grace, provided we feel it is God's Grace alone that acts in and through us.
Ian Cairns: I haven't ever really been into any religion at all because I've just been concentrating on surfing. But a lot of those things I really believe are a divine gift. I'd like to learn more about meditation because I think it could help me improve my own ability in surfing. I've never heard much about meditation before and I don't really know anything about it.