Mrs Mohini Singh, wife of CPN Singh (Member of Parliament, India): When you sit down to meditate, there are times when you reach a very quiet sort of place and all the sounds seem distant. It has happened to me and it started frightening me, because it was a strange sort of calm. I felt, at times, that I needed some kind of guidance, which was not available immediately. Do you think that one can meditate by oneself without somebody there who can help you at every step?1

Sri Chinmoy: One has to know what one wants. If one wants to go to Rome from New York, one can go by plane and one can go also by other means. There are many roads that will lead to Rome, but one particular road will be the shortest, the fastest way. It is up to the seeker to decide if he wants to take the fastest way or not. In the spiritual life a teacher represents the fastest way to God. If we have a teacher, our journey will be expedited far beyond our imagination. A spiritual teacher is not an ordinary teacher; he is like a tutor. An ordinary teacher will examine the student and then pass him or fail him. But it is the bounden responsibility of the tutor to teach the student privately so that he will pass the examination. A spiritual teacher helps us like this.

The spiritual teacher knows that all seekers belong to one spiritual family. Since he happens to be an older brother in the family, naturally he knows where his Father is. He tells his younger brothers and sisters that their Father is in such and such a room, and he offers to take them to that room. Once he takes them to the Father, his role is over. He never claims that he is God. That would be absurdity on the face of it. His role is just to take his younger brothers and sisters to God. Otherwise, the younger ones will search for their Father here, there and elsewhere, and it may take them a very long time to find Him. If they are unlucky, then they may waste their whole lives unsuccessfully searching for God.

A spiritual teacher says, "Here is the key. It will open the safe where your inner treasure is hidden." It is not the teacher's safe. It is your safe, all yours. Only you have misplaced the key and you are unable to open it. The teacher will come as a friend to help you search for it. When he finds the key, he gives it to you. This is the teacher's role. He helps you discover your own wealth. He himself is not the treasure, the diamond; you are the diamond. The treasure is within you, but you have unfortunately misplaced the key that will unlock the safe where the diamond is kept.

Again, it is not that one must have a teacher. The real Teacher is within; God is within. The first person who realised God thousands of years ago did not have a human being as a spiritual Master. We have no idea who the first person to realise God was, but we definitely know that in his case, God Himself was the Teacher. Since that time, down the sweep of centuries, a few spiritual Masters of the highest order have taken human incarnations: Lord Krishna, the Buddha, the Christ and a few more. Their Consciousness has guided and shall forever guide the searching and aspiring human souls.

When we have a teacher, we cannot fool ourselves. A teacher will be able to tell us whether or not we are doing proper meditation. Otherwise, although we are doing extremely well, wrong forces may come and take away all our joy by telling us that our meditation is just mental hallucination. Again, sometimes we may not be meditating well, but we may fool ourselves and feel that we are meditating well. At that time a sincere teacher will show us that we are not meditating well. Without a teacher, doubt may enter into our mind, or we may fool ourselves.

Again, sometimes it happens that seekers have very high experiences but do not know their meaning. If they cannot understand the meaning of their experiences, then a teacher can help them. The teacher is not giving them these experiences; far from it. It is their own aspiration that is giving them these experiences, but they do not know how to interpret them. So this is where the teacher plays his role. Again, there are many who have realised God without a specific teacher. They were lucky.

Now, about your experiences: you need not be afraid of this calm and quiet state of mind. It is a state that indicates great progress. Think of the ocean. On the surface the ocean is very rough and restless, and it frightens us; but in its deepest depth, the ocean is all calm and silent. Similarly, when we dive deep within, we feel only calmness and quiet. If we can develop inner poise through our prayer and meditation, then we will not be afraid of anything. No matter how vast or how rough the ocean is on the surface, no matter how many other disturbances there are, we will be able to find peace and inner security deep within.

So when you have higher experiences of vastness and silence, you should be very happy and proud of those experiences instead of being afraid of them. Please do not be afraid of the vastness. Just enter into it.

  1. MUN 259-260. On 11 November 1983 Sri Chinmoy answered questions on meditation and spiritual philosophy during a special meditation for delegates held at United Nations Headquarters. These two questions are excerpts from that occasion.