Studying with Sri ChinmoyBishop Kennedy: Your disciples come to you and stay with you for a length of time?
Sri Chinmoy: It depends on them. If they want to stay permanently, indefinitely, they can. But after a time some feel they have received whatever they want and they leave. For them it is like a course they are taking. They learn for a few months or a few years, and then they go to some other subject. But others feel that it is an eternal Journey, an eternal course. It is not like getting a Master's degree or Ph.D. — in twenty-two years you complete your studies and then you need have nothing more to do with your professor. But there is an eternal connection between the Master and the true disciple. In this case, someone wants to stay eternally inside my heart and I want to stay inside his heart eternally. So it depends on the seeker, whether he wants to establish a permanent, eternal oneness with me or a temporary connection for just a few years.
Bishop Kennedy: For people here in Adelaide, would they meet together to meditate?
Sri Chinmoy: Yes, at Sipra's house. She is our leader. She has been in Adelaide only one month. But she has been to our Centre in New York a couple of times, each time for a few months, and she knows how to run Centre activities. Under my inner and outer guidance, she will serve the people who come to meditate with her. She is my younger sister; I have to take her to the Source. And people who come to her house will try to keep an inner connection and outer connection with me, since I am the elder brother. She is the one who will organise meetings here and meditations. Syandan and his wife Lalita are leaders of our Perth Centre. We also have Centres in Melbourne and Sydney.
Bishop Kennedy: Speaking about meditating together reminds me of the problem of meditating alone. If one of your followers is in an area where he is quite alone, what does he do?
Sri Chinmoy: I have quite a few disciples who are scattered in remote areas. But they do write to me and they have kept an inner connection with me. If there are three or four people at one particular place, then we advise them to start a Centre. But if there is only one person, say, in a big city, that person keeps direct connection with me until he or she has found a few more to sail in the same boat.
Bishop Kennedy: That person who is alone would spend some time in meditation alone each day?
Sri Chinmoy: Early in the morning and in the evening, twice a day. And if it is at all possible, during the course of the day also — three times. In the morning, the first thing we usually do is to have breakfast and feed the body. But before we feed the body, we have to feed the soul. We have to do first things first. On the spiritual plane, God comes first: so we have to have inner food first. So we pray and meditate and then take the outer food. I tell my disciples they have to pray and meditate every day. Yesterday they ate, today they eat, tomorrow they will eat. On the physical plane, if one week they eat and another week they don't, they will starve and become weak. They have to eat every day. In the spiritual life also, if they pray and meditate regularly, they will become very strong. Otherwise, if one day they pray and meditate and for three weeks they don't pray or meditate, then they will not develop their inner divine qualities. Regularity is of utmost importance in the inner life.
Bishop Kennedy: Do you go so far as to give them a certain length of time for which they should meditate?
Sri Chinmoy: Yes, I tell them in the beginning they have to meditate for at least five or ten minutes. Then gradually they increase it according to their capacity. It is just a waste of time to sit for two or three hours if they cannot meditate for even two or three minutes. It is like exercise. If we take exercise regularly, we develop powerful muscles. Then we can exercise for two or three hours. But in the beginning, if we want to take exercise, we get tired after five minutes. When they feel they are not aspiring at all, but just sitting there, then they should stop meditating and do some other activity. But if they have the capacity to pray and meditate for half an hour or an hour soulfully and devotedly, they should do so.
Bishop Kennedy: The person who has some skill in meditating, when that person ceases his period of meditation, will the consciousness of the Divine that he has experienced carry over until the next meditation?
Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the seeker. If the seeker has meditated for a half hour and then enters into his multifarious daily activities, his consciousness may totally descend and he will forget all that he has experienced. If this happens, he has to feel that his consciousness is acting like a pool; the water is stagnant. But if he remembers even in the midst of his multifarious activities that early in the morning he has prayed and meditated most sincerely and devotedly, then he is carrying the same vibration inside him. It is flowing like a river. And tomorrow, when he prays and meditates again, his consciousness will be renewed and redoubled and flow even more powerfully. So it all depends on how much he consciously thinks of his early morning meditation during the day. Some people pray and meditate for half an hour in the morning and the rest of the day they never think of prayer and meditation. For them it is very difficult to feel the continuance of their meditation. But if they can remember for a couple of minutes what they did early in the morning, then they become a running river, flowing continuously, and tomorrow there will be a new life for them.
Bishop Kennedy: So ideally this river flows all the time, and the period of meditation in the morning and the period of meditation in the evening are the same process?
Sri Chinmoy: It is the same, the same. The river is flowing, but if one is not aware of it, he is acting like a fool. If one is aware of the river, then he becomes the river's continuation.