The mind and the heart in meditation

Part I — Concentration, meditation and contemplation

Concentration, meditation and contemplation

Concentration means total identification. You focus all your attention on something and identify yourself with the object or the subject. Then you receive and grow into its essence, its divine essence.

When you concentrate, you have to choose something that gives you immediate joy. If you have a Master, your Master's picture will give you immediate joy. If you don't have a Master, select something that is very beautiful, divine and pure. A flower has all of these qualities. You can concentrate on a flower or anything else that gives you joy. Look at the flower and, while looking at the flower, feel that you have entered into the flower and become the flower. Then, in a few minutes, try to feel that you have become one with the consciousness of the flower. There will be no thoughts, good or bad, remaining in the mind. When you become one with the flower, the fragrance of the flower and the divine qualities of the flower will enter into you.

In the beginning you need a completely quiet place in which to concentrate. But if you are really advanced, at that time it does not matter. When I meditate and sing during a public function my concentration is very powerful. At that time it does not bother me when people are talking. But the talking may make other people unable to concentrate on my song. If I am concentrating here and somebody next to me is talking, I am totally unaware of him. I am in another world. But if someone starts making a noise, I will tell him to be quiet. It is not for my sake. Only I want to offer something, and if there is noise, then you will not be able to receive my offering.

After concentration comes meditation. In meditation, we enter into something vast. It may be Peace, Light or Bliss. When we get immense Peace, Light or Bliss in boundless measure, then we are meditating. When we meditate, we have to make our mind calm and quiet. This is absolutely necessary. If the mind is thinking of many things, then meditation can never happen.

Next we have to invoke the Presence of God. While invoking the Presence of God, we have to feel His constant inner guidance. Then, Peace, Light, Bliss and Power will descend. We can also get inner guidance from a spiritual Master. A Master can bring the soul of the seeker to the fore. The moment the soul comes forward, the heart immediately gets abundant joy and power. The power and joy of the heart then enter into the mind and the vital.

In terms of aspiration, the distances between concentration and meditation and meditation and contemplation are not the same. Between meditation and contemplation there is a very big gap. Many people do concentration when they have a great vital desire. If they want to become first in school or if they want to become a great football player, they will use tremendous vital power. When people are throwing the shotput or doing the pole vault, tremendous will-power or concentration is needed. That is concentration from the vital. The power of concentration we automatically develop when we enter into sports. Athletes may not call it concentration. They only say, "My object is to throw the shotput farther than anybody." But that very idea or goal is concentration. But when it comes to meditation — making the mind calm, quiet, sublime and absolutely peaceful — that is too much for them. They will say that meditation has nothing to do with them. Again, many, many people on earth meditate or pray. Prayer and meditation are very similar. The only difference between prayer and meditation is that prayer goes up and meditation brings down. Both prayer and meditation are linked by a common goal. Prayer and meditation are like a see-saw. You are on one side and the Supreme is on the other side. You are going up and bringing down, but the Supreme remains on the other side.

Contemplation is a different process. During meditation and concentration, there is somebody with whom you are trying to be one. But in contemplation there is an interchange. You are playing two roles. At one moment you are what the Supreme is, on His side of the see-saw; you are on the same level with the Absolute. The next moment you are on the other side of the see-saw; He is acting as your Lord Supreme and you are acting as His supreme lover. Usually, the human mind is such that it says: "I have been worshipping Him all the time, so how can I be on the same level with Him?" But in contemplation this question does not arise. That is how contemplation is different from meditation and concentration.

Question: Can you speak more on concentration?

Sri Chinmoy: There are three steps in the spiritual life: concentration, meditation and contemplation. Aspiration embodies all three of these divine qualities. We have to do first things first. If we cannot concentrate, then we cannot succeed in anything. If a student does not know how to concentrate on his studies, then he may fail every year. He will study, but if he has no power of concentration, then he won't remember anything.

The spiritual life also is a form of study. It is an inner study which is infinitely more difficult to learn. Once we start getting the result of this study, which is inner knowledge, at that time we feel that this knowledge is infinitely more important than the outer knowledge. So in the spiritual life we have to use our concentration at every second. If we do not know how to concentrate, then we are lost; we are doomed. We may meditate for ten hours, but we will not get any satisfactory result.

Concentration is our total or integral attention on a particular subject. We focus our attention on an object or subject and totally forget about the rest of the world. We do not allow the rest of the world to enter into our mind. Only we and the object of our concentration exist. When there is no third person before us or around us, that is concentration.

Even while we are doing japa, repeating God's Name, then also we can concentrate. In between each repetition there is a gap. During each gap we have to feel that there is nothing. Similarly, while we are concentrating, we have to feel that nothing exists between us and the object we are concentrating on.

In the ordinary life when we look at our fingers, the pinky may get sixty per cent of our attention, the ring finger may get twenty per cent, and the other fingers will get the rest. One is getting more attention than the others, true; but it is not getting one hundred per cent of our attention. When we concentrate various other things remain around us, like the other fingers. We may think of our breakfast or what somebody has said. These ideas are all around us like our other four fingers. But all our attention remains on the object of concentration. The pinky will get one hundred per cent of our concentration. In this way the seeker develops his power of concentration. Once he has achieved the power of concentration, then meditation becomes extremely easy. And when one has the capacity to do deeper and higher meditation, then contemplation becomes easy. So in this way we progress.

Question: Is prayer necessary?

Sri Chinmoy: Prayer is necessary and meditation is necessary. However, if one becomes experienced in meditation, then prayer is not necessary. When I pray, I talk and my Father listens. When I meditate, my Father talks and I listen. There will come a time when I will not have to talk, because I will be the Supreme's conscious instrument. When I make total surrender, He will act in and through me. Once we go deeper in the spiritual life and our meditation becomes profound, we listen to God and no longer need to ask Him for anything. Once we become His perfect instruments, He will execute His own Will in and through us. But until then, or as long as we feel that God does not care for us as much as we care for ourselves, we have to pray to be freed from ignorance and insecurity. Once we are realised, or on the verge of realisation, we see that God always knows our needs, so there is no necessity to pray for different things. We only want to surrender. When we feel that God is omnipresent and cares for us infinitely more than we care for ourselves, then prayer is not necessary because we belong to Him and we are His property. If we are His property, then we do not have a claim upon ourselves, although God will claim us as His very own.

Question: Can you tell us something about why there seems to be a growing attraction to meditation in America?

Sri Chinmoy: People are showing considerable interest in meditation precisely because they are not satisfied with what they have and what they are. They want to have something more meaningful and fruitful in their lives. They have tried in every possible way to get that very thing, but unfortunately they have not acquired or achieved it. So they feel now that meditation is the answer. They are trying to explore meditation in order to have some satisfaction in life.

Part II — The mind and the heart in meditation

Question: How can I start meditating in the heart right from the beginning without going through the mind first?

Sri Chinmoy: You must direct your full, intense concentration on the heart. You must feel that you are not the mind. You have to feel that you are growing into the heart. You are only the heart and nothing else.

Question: When I am meditating, sometimes I have trouble distinguishing whether what I feel is my mind imagining my heart or whether it is really my heart.

Sri Chinmoy: If it is your real heart, then you will get a sense of satisfaction, pure satisfaction. If it is the mind you may also get satisfaction, but immediately you will also get something else and that something else is doubt. Your experience will be attacked by other thoughts: "How can I have this kind of satisfaction? I am so bad, I am so impure, I am so ignorant. This morning I told a lie and yesterday I did something very wrong, so I cannot have this kind of satisfaction." When that kind of idea comes, then you will know that your experience was from the mind. When you get an experience with the mind, you may temporarily feel very happy, delighted. But you won't be able to establish your identification with what the mind has seen or felt or realised. But once you get an experience from the heart, immediately you feel your oneness with it. When you see something with the heart, you get joy and immediately you are one with it. When you see a flower with your mind, you appreciate and admire it. But when you see it with your heart, immediately you feel either that your heart is inside the flower or that the flower is inside your heart. So when you have an experience and feel a kind of satisfaction, if you feel that you are one with the experience itself, then you will know that it is from the heart. But if you feel that the experience is something outside you that you are achieving, then it is from the mind.

Question: Guru, very often when meditating in a group in front of the room, when I concentrate on my heart centre, I find that my breathing is very heavy and very distracting.

Sri Chinmoy: The thing is that while you are meditating, you do something with your eyes which is not good at all. You strain your eyes to a certain extent; they are so tight and stiff. You are normal, but your eyes are just pinched. So when you do something unwise with your eyes, the actual pressure falls on your heart centre and it is very harmful to your aspiration. If you can keep your eyes normal while you are meditating, without tightening them, then this pressure will go away. So when you meditate, try to feel a smooth flow inside you when you breathe in. You can keep your eyes open or keep your eyes closed; no harm. Only don't make them unnaturally stiff.

Question: When I meditate with my heart on your picture I've been getting a headache.

Sri Chinmoy: You are pulling beyond your capacity. You feel you are meditating inside your heart, but you are being misguided. Actually you are meditating in your mind, but you are not able to feel the presence of your mind. If you really meditate on your heart you will develop the sense of identification. Then no matter how intensely you meditate, there can be no such problem. Please be more conscious; then you will be able to discover that you are meditating in the mind. If you meditate in the heart, then no matter how many hours you meditate or how much Peace, Light and Bliss enters into your heart, you will not get headaches.

Question: If an inspiration comes into the mind when one is meditating, should one follow the inspiration or remain in the heart?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know what kind of inspiration it is. If it is an illumining inspiration, then you should follow it. If it is a creative inspiration to do something really good, then follow it. Any creative thought, anything that gives you a higher goal, should be followed. If a particular inspiration brings something new into your life, if it will transform your life, then that inspiration you should follow. Only then can you become really great and good.

But inspiration has a very wide range, from the lowest to the highest. While you are in a very low consciousness, when inspiration comes, it may be absolutely gross and mundane. During meditation some people think of making most delicious cookies or eggplant. While you are not praying, if you get inspiration to cook something, that is different.

You have to know that the mind makes you feel that inspiration is only in the mind whereas aspiration is only in the heart. But you have to know that aspiration can be in the mind and inspiration can be in the heart. Inspiration can come to aspiration and vice versa. One can go into the other. But it must be of a very high type, or it cannot help us at all.

Question: How can one discipline the mind during meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: It is only during meditation that you get the opportunity to discipline the mind. When you are not in meditation you will see that each thought or idea is composed of words. If you enter into an idea you will see that it is formulated with words. Words come and form a sentence either inside or outside your mind and there you get an idea. But during deep meditation, you do not need words to form an idea. There the idea comes in a flash in the form of light, or light will bring the idea right in front of your vision. At that time you will immediately see the incident or truth that you want to envision in your life.

How can you discipline your mind during meditation? You can discipline the mind only by forgetting the existence of the mind and feeling that you do not have a mind. You may think, "If I do not have a mind, then how can I exist? I will become an idiot without a mind." But I tell each and every one of my disciples that the mind you get from books, the mind you utilise while conversing with people, the mind you require in order to exist on earth, cannot take you even an inch towards God-realisation. It is lame. It is blind. It is deaf. The mind is your enemy.

During meditation if you can really make yourself feel that you have only the heart, or if you can feel that you do not even have the heart, but that your whole existence from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head is the soul, then you will see that the mind does not exist. But if you cannot feel the presence of your soul, you can easily feel your heart's presence and your heart's glow. When you see light glowing in the heart or in the soul, you can rest assured that you have already transcended the intellectual mind. At this stage you have entered into the illumined mind, which is very different from the reasoning, intellectual mind.

When the light grows in the heart or the light comes out of the soul and permeates the entire body, at that time the mind is automatically disciplined. If you want to discipline the mind by hope, it is impossible. It is just like straightening the tail of a dog. But if you can live in the soul or even in the heart, then the light of the inner existence either transforms the physical mind and brings it into the higher regions, or it brings down the all-fulfilling peace from above into the gross physical mind. When peace descends or the mind ascends into the higher domain of light, at that time the mind automatically disappears.

Part III — Maintaining one's height

Question: After I have a good meditation I lose it. What can I do to maintain my meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Consciously, you don't want to preserve the treasure. Either you mix with unaspiring people or you don't want to preserve your meditation. You are not valuing the treasure. You think: "Even if I lose it I will get it again tomorrow." No, you have to value it, preserve it in the heart-pocket. I always tell you to assimilate your meditation. Once you eat something you must assimilate it.

Question: When we are having a high meditation, what is the method that we can use to stay at that point where we know and feel that there is no separation between any of us?

Sri Chinmoy: How can we feel that we are all one? It is on the strength of our conscious aspiration. Right now, let us say, early in the morning we meditate for ten minutes, and then we go to work. For seven or eight hours we are unfortunately compelled to mix with people who are unaspiring. We are thrown into a world of desire, fear, anxiety, worries and so forth. At that time we lose our best consciousness and then it becomes almost impossible for us to feel our oneness with others.

Here in the meditation hall we are all aspiring; that is why our consciousness is elevated. Then, when we go home, our consciousness will go down. Some calamity will take place or something else will happen and we will lose our aspiration. Even if there is nothing outwardly to prevent us from aspiring, our own limited being will not allow us to stay on the top of the tree. Sometimes there is no outer disturbance, but even then we find it difficult to remain on the top of the tree because we do not normally live there. We aspire for half an hour with utmost sincerity and then relaxation starts. We feel that we have worked very hard. We have played our part for five minutes or half an hour, and now we feel we can take rest for an hour or two. So we start reading a newspaper, or watching television, and in this way we enter into relaxation.

But if we want to maintain our standard, the height of our aspiration, then we should be continuous, flowing. Suppose we have meditated for an hour. We may not be able to meditate again for another hour or so. No harm, we shall do something which will maintain and preserve our meditation. We can read spiritual books or sing spiritual songs. At that time, automatically our inner being will inspire us to read books. We won't have to use the mind to think, "Oh, the time has come for me to read." No, our inner being will help us to do the right thing. Right now the inner being is deep inside us, deeply hidden; but we are trying our best, through yoga, to bring the inner being to the fore. Then, after reading for half an hour or an hour, we can go to visit a spiritual friend or, if that is not possible, call him up on the phone and speak about our experiences.

Then we can write about our own experiences. We won't want to publish them, no. But while we are writing them down we are revealing our own inner light and perfecting our spiritual nature. For half an hour we can write and we can read what we have written. Each time we read about one of our own experiences, we get abundant peace, light and bliss. This is not our false imagination. As soon as we have written, we have created something. The creator always wants to enjoy his creation. Look at the gardener. The gardener takes great pain in planting the flower and watering it. Then, after six or seven months when he sees the flower, he deeply appreciates and admires it. Similarly, we also get joy from our own creations.

In this way, doing all these things, we can go on for five or six hours. Even while we are eating we can remember what experiences we had while meditating early in the morning. This imagination is like a battery. We are charging our memory with our spiritual progress. In this way we can continue, entering or retaining our meditation.

But unfortunately we don't do this. We meditate for half an hour or forty-five minutes. Then we feel tired and exhausted. So we mix with unaspiring people, we read unaspiring books, we do so many wrong things after we meditate. We feel that we have seen one shore of the river, so we want to go to the other shore. But the other shore is unfortunately all darkness. We have to try to remain on the shore that has light. We have to do things which will increase our meditation or, at least, retain the power of the meditation. We have to be very wise in our day-to-day lives in how we spend each hour, each second. A time will come when we won't have to have any restrictions in our life; our life itself will be a continuous flow of aspiration. But now we have to use our conscious mind in order to aspire.

So we have to meditate early in the morning and then read, sing spiritual songs or mix with spiritual people. Then, when we are in the office or doing some other activity, we have to try to remain with the spiritual flow that we had early in the morning. From our early morning meditation we acquired peace, light and bliss, which is spiritual money. We have to then deposit this money inside our heart, which is the safest of all banks. Then, when we are in the office, when we need protection from unaspiring people, we can concentrate on our heart and bring forward a little of the peace, light and bliss which we acquired early in the morning. In this way we will be able to maintain our own spiritual standard and keep our level of consciousness high.

Part IV — Public meditations

Question: What is the advantage of joining a specific path and meditating with others?

Sri Chinmoy: It becomes easier to meditate if you follow a specific path. From your spiritual family you will get additional strength. If you don't have a spiritual family, then you will feel that you are lost. In your family you have a father, mother, brother, sister and dear ones. When you fall sick, immediately somebody else in the family will take care of you. In this case, falling sick means to have doubt. That is the real sickness. If you have doubt, the medical hospital will not be able to help you. It is only the spiritual hospital and the spiritual doctors, who are your brother and sister disciples who will be able to help you.

Question: I find public meditations very hard for me. I come in feeling beautiful. Then I feel all this pain coming into my heart and into my head. Am I being attacked? What do you suggest?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not others' impurity or any other negative force that is entering into you. No. Your difficulty is that when you sit in front, you try to pull far beyond your capacity. When I am on stage, the whole stage is flooded with light. When you sit in front of me and look at me, you try to pull. It is as if you are in a shop and you see all sorts of most beautiful things. Like a greedy fellow you want to buy everything, yet you have in your pocket only five cents. When you try to pull beyond the capacity of your receptivity, at that time you get head pain.

Question: I have no problem in Centre meditations.

Sri Chinmoy: At the Centre I am not bringing down that kind of light. In a public meditation, the whole hall is flooded with my power, with my light. Right now, I am absolutely normal. But when I am in a public meditation, I am a totally different person. There my consciousness is on a very, very high level. At that time if you try to pull beyond your receptivity, then you are in trouble. It is not that others have been bringing negative forces into you. No! So the best thing for you to do is sit at the back. There the power is less, but if you sit in the front row, you suffer because your capacity is very limited. As you increase your capacity, it will become easy for you to receive more. That is why I always say, "Don't pull, don't push."

There is one other thing in your case. You have unconsciously developed a sense of pride, which is the worst thing. I am telling this to all my disciples. Some of you have joined our boat just yesterday, but you are of the opinion that you do better meditation than our older disciples. This is absolutely wrong. You have to show respect to those who have come into the family before you. Some of my most recent disciples feel that they are far superior to the older disciples. This is absurd. When you sit beside the older disciples, you should feel that they are your elder brothers. Please feel that this is a family and you are the youngest. Your eldest brothers and sisters know quite a few things far better than you know. So it is not beneath your dignity to learn from your superiors.

Unfortunately, some of you have the feeling that you know far better than they, and if you sit beside them you feel that your aspiration is decreasing because they are inferior. Please do not cherish this kind of false notion. If you cherish this kind of idea, no matter where you meditate, your own superiority complex will ruin your aspiration. When you are with older disciples, you should feel happy and proud that you are able to mix with them. If you have the idea that they are ruining your meditation, that you are entering into nirvikalpa samadhi, and then they are pulling you down, this is absurd, absurd. You should try to be with them in order to learn, and not to make yourself feel that you know better than they. When you are in a group with other people, your problem is that you do not identify yourself with them. On the contrary, there is a kind of unconscious superiority.

Question: At a recent seven hour meditation I found it difficult to meditate for the entire period.

Sri Chinmoy: From time to time we will have very long meditations. It is not that I expect all of you to meditate every day for seven hours — impossible. If you try to meditate seven hours a day, you will turn insane. But on certain days we shall invoke special Grace from the Supreme. At these times, only because it is a special day and there is a special force, nothing will happen if you try to meditate for seven hours. Special Light and special Power are coming from above. So on these days if you can meditate for seven hours soulfully, you are bound to receive Peace, Light and Bliss in abundant measure. We are having a seven-hour meditation on my birthday, and my request to all the disciples is that you practise at home and try to lengthen the time that you can meditate. Please try to meditate on weekends or at night, when you don't have anything else to do.

When you come to the meditation on my birthday and find that you cannot meditate well, my request to you is just remain silent. If you get up, then you will only make a noise and disturb the person who is beside you or you will attract the attention of others. They will see you and then, if they remain in the mental world, some of them will inwardly say nasty things about you. Either they will think that you are bothering them, or they will feel sorry for you, because they can meditate for hours whereas you cannot. In this way you will unnecessarily give them the opportunity either to criticise you or sympathise with you. So the best thing to do, if you can't meditate, is to remain in your seat. You can try to sing a few of my songs in silence, or do japa.

If you are tired and exhausted after an hour of meditation, and if I do not say that it is time for a recess, then you have to stay there. And if you feel that this will be impossible then please don't come. That is my request to each of you. If you feel that it is simply impossible for you to stay still after forty-five minutes or an hour, or if you have a serious cold or something that will unnecessarily draw attention, then the best thing is to do me a favour by not coming. I will be most grateful if you can meditate at home.

Question: Could we have a week of solid meditation in order to make some progress?

Sri Chinmoy: Then more mental asylums will have to open up. It is not possible. Only spiritual Masters can meditate for hours and days on end. Ordinary seekers have to talk and mix with people; otherwise, they will go crazy. Any individual has to see and talk with others and get an outer vibration. Otherwise, the mind and nerves become very agitated. Then anger comes and also a kind of subtle pride: "I have not talked to people for one whole week." Then they become abnormal. Meditating twenty-four hours a day is quite possible, but only after you realise God, or when you are on the verge of realisation. At that time, you will have acquired the capacity. So even while you are eating, talking or working in your office, you will see that you are doing your best meditation; you will see that you can do four things at once.

Part V — Drowsiness and other problems

Question: How does physical pain, illness or an unpleasant experience affect meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Suppose you have a headache or stomach upset. Then how will you meditate? In real meditation, the entire being has to aspire. But in my case, I have occult power, so I can sit here and have a 104 degree or 105 degree fever, but when I want to meditate I can go up to my highest height.

Your meditation is also affected when you are angry with someone and you have not illumined your anger. You may have forgotten your anger, but if you have not illumined it, then it will pull you down. You have many unpleasant experiences during the day. A few hours elapse and then you forget the experience. "Forgotten" is the right word, but "forgiven," no. Unless you have forgiven, you have not illumined the anger. Anger is not now coming, but still it has pulled you down seven rungs of your consciousness-ladder even though you have totally forgotten the incident. Sometimes you will quarrel with the members of your family and then you will go to sleep. But the next morning you cannot meditate. You have totally forgotten the incident, but while you were sleeping the strength of the anger increased. The velocity, the speed, the strength of the anger from seven hours ago will be greater. It is just like a swarm of insects that are multiplying like anything. But positive forces increase slowly. So when something has gone wrong, it is better to rectify it and illumine it immediately.

Everything on the physical plane has to be illumined before you meditate. Otherwise, meditation cannot be profound. If one part of your being is not properly balanced, you cannot have good meditation. Even breathing can affect meditation. Here you are not sick, but because something is wrong with your breathing system, you cannot have a good meditation.

Question: What should we imagine if we are very tired during our morning meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Just imagine a blue-green forest or field. Feel that you are walking through a paddy field. Then, no matter how much you are suffering from lack of sleep, you will feel energised.

Question: Sometimes I feel sleepy in meditation.

Sri Chinmoy: Suppose you find yourself feeling sleepy after thirty or forty minutes of most powerful meditation. At that time, I wish to say, the physical, vital and mental are not operating in you, but your inner being is operating most powerfully. Mentally you feel that you are not in this world and that you have to come back and be very dynamic. But no! At that time the soul is operating most powerfully. Again, if you feel that you have been sleeping for half an hour, then naturally you are not meditating. If you are enjoying that kind of sleep, then try to repeat the name of the Supreme as fast as possible. It is not a race, but see how many times you can repeat "Supreme" with each breath. Then, when you feel the power inside the repetition of this name, your whole being will be inundated with divine energy and you are bound to feel a new flow of life and energy. If you repeat "Supreme" that way for five minutes, you will not fall asleep. Your utterance will enter into you as energy. Others may think that you are doing something abnormal, but you are doing the right thing. You may also shake your arms, and stretch your legs. But if you repeat "Supreme" in silence, then you are bound to become very dynamic.

Question: For a six o'clock meditation, will we do better if we get up at five and are up for a full hour before meditating? If we enter into activity do we become more awake?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not good if there is too much activity. If you get up at five and if you touch a book, the consciousness of the book will enter into you. If you touch a novel, immediately the consciousness of the author will come. If you feel that you are drowsy and you start doing housework, then the housework consciousness will enter into you. When dealing with the physical, it is best to take a shower. When you take a shower you will not feel drowsy. Water signifies consciousness. Once consciousness enters into you, then how will you fall asleep? But the other way is risky. If you touch a material object, then immediately the consciousness of that object will enter into you. If you stand against a wall and start cleaning the wall, the consciousness of the wall will enter into you. So the best thing to do is take a shower and then meditate.

Part VI — The height and depth of meditation

Question: Is there a difference between height and depth in meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: When we remain in the Universal Consciousness, when we remain inside the spiritual heart, we notice that the height and the depth are one. At that time there is no difference between height and depth. But when we come out of the Universal Consciousness, then we fail to see everything as one and inseparable. At that time our conscious awareness of two things looms large. It is like our head and our feet. Before we have established oneness with our head and our feet, we will say, "This is my head and these are my feet." But once we have established oneness in our entire being, we shall claim all our limbs as our very own. Then they become one reality.

Like that, before we realise the highest, we use the terms height and depth. When we dive deep into the Pacific Ocean, like a diver, we are aiming at the depth. Then, when we are climbing the Himalayas, we are aiming at the height. But height and depth are all in the mental consciousness. Once we go beyond the barrier of the mind, there is only one reality. There the reality is spontaneous and universal. We don't call a drop by that name once it enters into the ocean. We call it the ocean itself. While the drop maintains its individuality, only then do we call it a drop and the rest of the water we call the ocean.

As long as we retain our individuality and personality, we will feel that height and depth are two separate things. When we are climbing up we will feel that we have reached a certain height, and when we are diving deep we will feel that we have reached a certain depth. But there comes a time when we go far, far beyond this meaningless comparison. At that time, only reality is singing and dancing within us and we become the reality itself. It has no height, no depth, no length. It is all one and, at the same time, it is transcending its own limits. We see limits according to our own standard, but Eternity, Infinity and Immortality are absolute realities. They don't have any limits. At the same time, they are more real than our eyes or our nose. I always say that God Himself is transcending His own Vision and Reality. For us it is unbelievable, unfathomable; but it is absolutely true.

We can notice this transcendence in our own individual life. We go to kindergarten; then we go to high school and college. We may get our Master's degree and Ph.D., but even then there is no end. If we say that we have learned everything, it will be a deplorable mistake. There is so much to learn, so much to learn. When we say that we have more to learn, we are more than prepared to transcend our knowledge and wisdom — what we have and what we are. This feeling or this consciousness we get only when we go beyond the domain of the mind. There we see philosophy and realisation as one. At that time there is no sense of separativity between height and depth. There is only one reality — omnipotent, transcendent and immortal.

Question: During meditation is it better to have intensity, or to be full of peace, light and bliss?

Sri Chinmoy: If there is intensity, then it is not meditation; it is concentration. If there is tremendous intensity, then there is concentrated power. If you feel an intense force energising you like an express train, then it is the result of your concentration. But if you feel deep within an immense sea of peace, light and bliss, then that is your meditation. Meditation-power is all peace, poise and tranquility, like a sea, while concentration-power is like a bullet. Do not give any preference to either experience. Feel that if the Grace of the Supreme wants to concentrate in you and through you, then you will allow it. Again, if He wants meditation, you will allow Him to meditate in and through you.

Question: In meditation should we stay in ecstasy or follow something else?

Sri Chinmoy: It is better to remain in ecstasy. Let ecstasy be a guiding voice while you are meditating. If you are feeling inner ecstasy, then let ecstasy direct you. Inside ecstasy there is an inner voice that is offering you the ecstasy. Let the inner voice guide you farther and give you more information to go higher.

Part VII — General questions

Question: Does it sometimes happen that when a person can't assimilate any more light, he just starts expressing it like a cup full to the brim that starts overflowing?

Sri Chinmoy: If the cup is full to the brim, then naturally it will spill. Daily you are getting something from your prayer and meditation, and even while you are walking along the street, you are spreading this. But while spreading, you are not losing anything. It is like perfume that you keep right inside you. You are not actually using it. You are only keeping it, but it is offering its fragrance.

Question: Can we consciously offer the fruit of our meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly, if you want to. It is your money, your wealth, and you can give it consciously or unconsciously. Sri Ramakrishna said that God is like a child. A child may be standing with a piece of candy, and you are begging, "Give me the candy," but the child won't give it to you. It is his property, his wealth, and he won't give it. But somebody else who does not care for the candy or even for the child may be passing, and the child will run after him and say, "You take it." So here also, when you have inner wealth, it is up to you whether you give it or not. Somebody may come to you eager and anxious to have it, but you may not give it to that person because you do not like him. You will only give it to the person whom you like, although that person may not even care for it. But again, you have to know that the individual you want to give it to is inwardly ready to receive it, even though he is outwardly not crying for it. God knows when an individual's inner being is totally ready, and He gives that particular individual His Wealth even though the person is not crying for it. But when the inner being of the person is not ready to receive God's Wealth, even though the individual is outwardly crying for it, he won't appreciate it or be able to receive it. He will just put a little into his mouth and not be satisfied. Then he will just throw it away; he will not utilise it properly.

Question: What does it mean to "express" the light or other qualities that you have received from meditation? Does it mean to offer these qualities to others?

Sri Chinmoy: It can be to others, it can be to the atmosphere or it can be to the Universal Consciousness. Some people say, "Let me learn first. Then I will give." Others say, "No, let me give while learning." But from the spiritual point of view, when it is a matter of constant giving, it is always better to realise and assimilate first and then to give. Realise God, assimilate your realisation and then give to mankind. Otherwise, if you try to give before you realise God, all you have to give is partial light and partial truth. You may say, "Oh, I have got one dollar, let me give it." But you are spending your time giving that one dollar instead of getting the one hundred dollars, which is your goal. Then, you may be giving to an undeserving person, and he will just grab it. He will act like a dacoit, a thief, a robber. He will say, "No, you have more money. You are not giving me all your money." Then he will beat and strike you. In the inner world also, when one wants to give and he only has a dollar's worth of inner wealth, these forces will be tempted. They will feel that he has more wealth to give, which he is not giving. So they will strike the seeker and try to destroy his potentiality and possibility. Let us say you have only one dollar, and you want to give it to somebody who is very strong on the vital plane, very impure and obscure. This person may feel, "No, he is telling a lie; he has more money than one dollar," and he will try to grab you and get more money. But you won't be able to give him more than one dollar, so you will be destroyed.

Question: When I am doing an activity and feel the call to meditate, does it mean I have to stop the activity to meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: No. Within your activity if you can feel God's Presence, then whatever you are doing is with God and for God. Whether it is eating, or cooking, or working, if you are conscious of God, then you have to feel that God has entered into your activity. Sometimes you may be sitting quietly and trying to meditate, but you may be thinking of everything else in the world. So it is very possible that in the midst of activity you can feel the Presence of God more so than during your meditation. Again, God comes to visit some people only when they are asleep. Before going to sleep they may meditate, but God will enter into their consciousness only when their mind and body are quiet, and this may happen only while they are sleeping.

Question: As I understand it, meditation requires a certain amount of time. How can people find the time to be involved?

Sri Chinmoy: How many hours do we have at our disposal? Twenty-four hours. Do we work for twenty-four hours? Do we sleep for twenty-four hours? Do we eat for twenty-four hours? No, we do quite a few things during these twenty-four hours. We can do all kinds of things during the day. We can mix with our friends, eat, go to school and do so many activities. What prevents us from thinking of God, poor God, for five minutes a day? We can't give five minutes to God during these twenty-four hours? We have time to do everything else. But when it is a matter of God, then we say that we don't have time. Just because we give more importance to something else, we don't find the time to give to poor God. If we really care for God, God will give us time to think of Him. God is crying for us to think of Him. If we really want God, then we have plenty of time. But if we don't care for God, then we get time only to do other things.

Question: For the past two weeks I have felt an unusual coolness. Can you tell me what it is?

Sri Chinmoy: This coolness is the descent of peace. Your third eye is consciously invoking peace. When peace descends, the doubtful mind and restless vital give way to peace. In your case the mind is not doubtful, but the vital to some extent is restless. The third eye is the eye of vision with which we see the past and future at once. The third eye knows what is best for you at this stage of your spiritual life, so it is invoking peace to still your restless vital. When peace is increased, the mind establishes peace within itself. If the descent of peace continues, it will give you much light.

Question: Guru, I heard somewhere that if we only meditate on the higher chakras in our body, then in our next life our lower chakras will try to pull us down?

Sri Chinmoy: Do not think of the higher chakras or lower chakras. Since you are following my path and not the path of the Kundalini, do not give undue importance to the Kundalini path. Kundalini Yoga is a very powerful Yoga, no doubt, but since our path is the path of love, devotion and surrender, you should pray to the Supreme with your heart's divine love, divine devotion and surrender. If you are sometimes tempted to arouse your chakras, then it is advisable to concentrate on the heart chakra, Anahata, which is safe. But if you concentrate on the navel chakra or the other chakras below the navel, and if you are not pure, then you will run into tremendous difficulty and danger. It is like playing with fire. But if your heart chakra is opened up by your sincere cry and by God's Grace, then boundless light can descend into those other chakras and naturally you will be purified. Then if you get the respective powers from those chakras, there will be no problem.

Since you are following my path, do not give any importance to the Kundalini Yoga. If you realise God, then He is bound to give you infinite Power if He feels that you are the right person to utilise it for Him. The Kundalini is like a mango tree. You would like to get two or three mangoes to eat to your satisfaction. But if you want to pluck these mangoes with your own capacity and without the full approval of the owner, then the owner may be very displeased with you. But if you take permission from the owner, then you can eat to your heart's content.

Besides Kundalini power there is also spiritual power. Spiritual power is the power of oneness, inseparable oneness with God the Infinite. This power is infinitely stronger than any Kundalini power. This feeling of inseparable oneness with each human being and with the Universal Consciousness has infinitely more Peace, Light and Bliss than the power that any chakra in Kundalini Yoga can give you.

Surrender to God is the aim of our Yoga. If you can surrender your will to the Will of the Supreme, then only will you be really satisfied. To open up the navel centre or heart centre is not your aim. Your aim is to satisfy God in His own Way. If He is satisfied with you, then naturally He will also try to satisfy you in return. In this world only an absolutely undivine person will remain indebted to you. If a friend does something for you, immediately your conscience will inspire you to help him back. It is not that you will feel that it is beneath your dignity to remain indebted to someone. No. It is a spontaneous feeling. He has established his oneness with you, that is why he has helped you when you were in need of help. By offering your help to that person, naturally you will get tremendous joy and establish your oneness.

When we offer our aspiration to the Supreme, we give Him what we have. But when we go deep within, we see that we have actually received this aspiration-power from the Supreme. But most of the time we don't go deep within; we feel that aspiration is our own power. Let us offer our aspiration-power to the Supreme; then He will give us what He has. What He has is Power. He will give us His infinite Peace, Light and Bliss.

So please do not pay attention to the opening of the chakras. I assure you that if the Supreme, the Inner Pilot, feels that it is necessary for you to have the chakras opened up, then He will do it. The most important thing is to pray and meditate and please the Supreme in His own Way. You want satisfaction; we all want satisfaction. But when it is a matter of abiding satisfaction, then I wish to say that surrender to the Will of the Supreme is the only answer.

Question: If you chant the name of someone in silence, does that feed their soul?

Sri Chinmoy: To be very frank with you, if you chant somebody's name when they are asleep, it won't have any effect. Even though you are chanting with all your love, affection and concern for that person, you may not be able to identify yourself with his soul. His soul may be somewhere else, in some region which you cannot enter and become one with. But in my case, I can do it. Wherever the soul is, whichever plane of consciousness it is on, I can go and enter there at that time. Only if you can become one with the other person's soul does chanting the name become effective. When I make my fervent request to you to repeat a particular disciple's name for some reason, at that time, as your spiritual leader, I take all of you inside my heart, in the inmost recesses of my heart. If I am not involved, then what you can do is repeat the name of the Supreme. Since I am your spiritual father, you can also repeat your Guru's name, because your Guru identifies himself with you. The Supreme is all the time within you, whereas a friend's or relative's soul is not always inside you. The Supreme's Soul is inside you, and your soul and the other person's soul are in the Supreme. So if you repeat the name of the Supreme quite a few times and offer your prayer to the Supreme, then you will get the most immediate result in your prayer, for the Supreme will do the needful.

Question: Is meditation the only way to live from moment to moment in the Eternal Now?

Sri Chinmoy: Meditation helps us to live from moment to moment. Again, in moment to moment the Eternal Now exists. The Eternal cannot be separated from each moment. This is a moment and here Eternity is all around. Eternity comprises the present, the past and the future. Inside Eternity is the moment; again, inside the moment is Eternity. It is like the ocean. Inside the ocean are countless tiny drops. Again, each tiny drop holds the essence of the vast ocean. We take a drop and immediately we have the consciousness of the vast ocean, because the drop embodies the vast ocean. And so each moment cannot be separated from Eternity and Infinity. Meditation is the only way to feel the oneness of the finite with the Infinite.

Question: Can a housewife meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly she can. Householders can easily concentrate, meditate and aspire. At the very beginning of your spiritual journey you have to feel the Presence of God in your immediate family. Suppose you are the mother of a child. When you are serving the child, you have to feel the Presence of God in him. That is why he is dear to you. Someone is dear to you precisely because God is inside him, and you are dear to him because God is inside you. So you have to go to the Source.

To gain access to the Source, you have to learn concentration, meditation and contemplation. Meditation does not mean that you have to leave the world and practise austere disciplines and so forth. No, only in all your actions you have to offer your soulful service-light to the Source. When you speak to your son, you have to feel that you are offering your love to the divine Inner Pilot in him. When you are giving him wisdom, you have to feel that it is the Inner Pilot within you that is serving the Inner Pilot in him. As a householder naturally you will love the members of your family. You are the tree and they are the branches. You will love them, and since you love them you have to devote yourself to them.

Each time, you have to feel that between you and your dearest one there is somebody who is a bridge, and that is God. You are loving your dearest ones precisely because God the eternal Lover is inside you. You are showing compassion to someone because the eternally compassionate Father is inside you. So in that way the householder can meditate.

It is better for a householder to meditate in a group, with the members of his family, if it is possible. Then there will be a family feeling. As you eat normal food together, so also you can eat spiritual food together. Spiritual food is prayer and meditation.

Question: When I meditate with you I feel I want to give up outer things, that all I want to do is meditate.

Sri Chinmoy: Meditation does not mean that twenty-four hours you have to be closeted. It also means soulful dedication. You have to do some outer work so that you can maintain a balance. If you don't get a decent salary, how will you support yourself? But when you do work or do something in the outer world, you have to feel that you are doing it for God. Unlike what your friends or colleagues are doing, unlike what you did in your previous life, please feel that everything you do is dedicated service. In that way, you will not feel that you are wasting your time. Otherwise, when you are meditating in one corner of your room, you will feel that you are doing the right thing and the rest of the time you will feel miserable. No, dedication is also a true form of meditation. So do not separate action from meditation. That is wrong. During your meditation if your mind moves, then that is action; but it is negative action. Again, if you are throwing the shotput or discus while you are in a good consciousness, then that is meditation. Meditation is both silence and dynamic action. Meditation does not mean that you will always be sitting with your eyes closed. Meditation is silence, but silence itself is action. When you throw yourself into dedicated service, that is also meditation.

Our motto is "Love and Serve." If you really love a person, you will serve him. And if you serve a person, it is because you really love him. If you do service or work devotedly, it is meditation. That is why in India we have Karma Yoga, the path of action, because we know that action is meditation. So in the morning you can meditate; you will enter into the heart and offer your love and devotion to the Supreme. Then you will go to your office and do your dedicated service.

You have to be like a boat. A boat is in the water but it is not of the water. With the boat you can row and go from this place to that place. The boat is there in the water, but whatever you do, you do inside the boat. Similarly, you will be in this world, but you will not be affected by the dirt and filth of the world. You will have your own inner independence. First you have to accept the world and then you have to transform it. If you are afraid of the world, then you will have to leave the world; and if you leave the world, then you cannot do anything for God or for yourself. You have to fulfil God here on earth, and you can do it only when you live in the inner world and bring forward the wealth of the inner world. It is not from the outside that you have to go inside. No, it is from the inside that you have to come forward and grow. So if you can change the world, you will be able to fulfil and accomplish everything here on earth.

From:Sri Chinmoy,The mind and the heart in meditation, Agni Press, 1977
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