Part IVSCA 828-829. Sri Chinmoy answered these questions in San Francisco on 21 October 1996.
Question: What would you consider the ideal Centre meditation?Sri Chinmoy: Each Centre has its own way of conducting the meditations. I feel an hour and a half, if not two hours, is necessary at least once a week. Two hours would be ideal, but if it is impossible, then an hour and a half will be good. For twenty minutes to half an hour you should meditate. Either at the beginning or at the end of the meditation, everybody must sing the Invocation. While singing, everybody has to fold their hands. Then everyone should read from my writings, or the Centre leader can choose some inspired writings to be read out. Something else I would like is for one of my stories to be read out. In some of my early books there are many, many instructive stories. I do not mean just stories about miracles, but stories which are very instructive and illumining. Afterwards, good disciples will meet together to talk about manifestation, but nothing else.
The most important thing is to feel oneness among the Centre members. Each Centre should have projects in order to enrich and increase your own faith in the Supreme, in me and in yourselves. Each disciple should feel the necessity of service. Service means manifestation — speaking to others about our philosophy. Even now, some of the older disciples are reluctant to speak to new people. They are making a Himalayan blunder. If you speak to others about your way of life, then it will definitely intensify your own faith. Openly you are inspiring them, but secretly they are helping you to increase your own faith in your path, in your Master and in the Supreme.
You have no idea how this will help you. Even if you are not in a good mood, even if you are not inspired, you have to fool yourself or force yourself into speaking to others. You may say, "If I am not inspired, how will I inspire others?" No. This is not your false aspiration. You know that eating is necessary, but sometimes you do not feel like eating. On those days you force yourself. Early in the morning there are quite a few things you do that have become part and parcel of your life. Even if you do not feel like getting up, you have to get up and go to the office. Some days you have to force yourself. Then, when you go to the office, you do the right thing.
In the spiritual life, it is the same. Some days you are not inspired at all. You do not want to do anything. That very day you have to force yourself. There are many, many days when you are inspired, when you do the right thing spontaneously. But at other times, when wrong forces enter into your mind, you have to force yourself. Sometimes the weather is bad and you do not want to go outside and run. But when you do run, you get tremendous joy. Sometimes you are in front of the swimming pool and you do not feel like swimming. Then if you see that some other people are swimming, your lethargy disappears. So every day pray to the Supreme not only to increase your aspiration-power, but also to increase your dedication-power.
There are some good disciples who feel that their Centre or their city is not the only place for their aspiration and dedication. They feel that they are ready to work for the entire world. Right now you are taking care of your Centre while your wife and your son are manifesting elsewhere. If you were in an ordinary consciousness, you would feel, "Oh, I am completely lost. My wife is not with me; my son has deserted me!" But if you are in your heart, which you are, you will be so proud of your wife and your son. Here all alone you are holding the banner. So in your family you are teaching and learning. While teaching, you are learning that there is only one Centre, one universal Centre, and that Centre is the heart of your Guru. That is the correct attitude — not that one city is your Centre, but the whole world is your Centre. Not only the Centre leader, but also the Centre members must think that there is only one Centre and that is my heart. Some disciples go here and there to work for the manifestation of the Supreme. Wherever you are needed, you should always be ready to go. We are one family and our Centre is everywhere.
Something else I would like to mention, and that is Joy Days. You have no idea how much joy I get from your Joy Days. Whether you get joy or not, I definitely get joy. You have to drive for five or six hours, so on the outer plane it is not easy. Again, you can change your attitude. If you use your mind, you will say, "Ten hours if I have to drive, then it is impossible!" But if you use your heart, you will say, "Oh, I am getting the golden opportunity to make progress while I am in the car. I can listen to Guru's tapes. I can sing devotional songs. I can take along a few other disciples who will inspire me and whom I can inspire." Throughout the entire week perhaps you are not getting the opportunity to continuously think of your spiritual life for five or six hours. When you are in a group and you are covering a long distance, then you can use tapes or you can talk about spirituality. I do not want you to enter into the gossip-world. Talk only about spiritual subjects, inspiring things. In that way, take it as an opportunity.
When I lived in Brooklyn, I used to take practically two hours to go to the Indian Consulate. I had to take three trains. I used to get tremendous joy because I was getting two hours to meditate. I used to say, "What an opportunity I am getting — a golden opportunity!" You can take this same attitude towards Joy Days.
When we have joy, we can make the fastest progress. By invoking sadness and depression to make ourselves helpless, hopeless and useless, we will never be able to compel God to come to us. God will say, "You remain helpless, you remain hopeless. I do not need you." Yesterday you learned a song: "To be cheerful is to be on God's side." If I am on your side, will you not be on my side? If I can be of service to you, will you not be of service to me? It is mutual, reciprocal. Happiness is not only your strength. It is also God's strength. When you are sincerely happy, you are strengthening God. You are increasing God's faith in you. Then God will give you more and more responsibility. There is only one secret in the spiritual life, and that is cheerfulness. Once you are cheerful, the blankets you have used to cover yourself from your mental chill will disappear. You will not need them.
I would really like all the disciples to participate in Joy Days. If you can, try to have Joy Days at least twice a year. Three or four Centres can meet together, or even two Centres. Again, if you cannot have two Centres, then just go out and be together in a park. Have a picnic. Twenty-five years ago I enjoyed picnics many times. Even last year I went to one disciple's house for a picnic. If I had had time, I would have gone to more places to be with the disciples during their Joy Days. When you are together, you will be able to catch your depression-thief. If one person's spirit is low on that day, you may be the one that God uses to inspire that person. Tomorrow you may be a victim to those wrong forces and a third person may come to your rescue.