The mind and the heart in meditation

O mind's sincerity, you are bound to see God's Light in the fulness of time.

O heart's purity, you are bound to realise God's Love at His choice Hour.

Question: What is the difference between thinking and meditating, or are they the same?

Sri Chinmoy: Thinking and meditating are absolutely different things — totally, radically different things. Thinking and meditating are like north pole and south pole. The thinking mind can never free you from the fetters of ignorance. An ignorant person does not know how to increase his thinking; he has only a few thoughts. An intellectual man goes on thinking twenty-four hours a day. But what does either one accomplish in the long run? In the long run they accomplish nothing. One is satisfied with only a few thoughts, and the other is satisfied with thousands of thoughts and masses of mental information. But there they both end. Neither one enters into anything higher.

When we meditate we do not think at all. The aim of meditation is to free ourselves from all thought. In the beginning, if undivine thoughts or hostile thoughts enter into us, we reject them. Gradually a time will come when only divine thoughts, divine ideas will be written on the tablet of our heart. But when we meditate we should reject thought as much as possible. Thought is like a dot on the blackboard. Whether it is good or bad, it is there. Only if there is no thought whatsoever can we grow into Reality. In the really highest meditation, there will be no thoughts at all. The mind is calm, tranquil, quiet. In profound meditation, in deep meditation, thoughts can come in, but not in the highest, deepest meditation. At that time there is no form, there is no mind at all.

Thinking has nothing to do with spiritual life or meditation. We have to go beyond thinking. How do we go beyond thinking? Through aspiration and meditation. The moment we start thinking we play with limitation and bondage. Our thoughts, no matter how sweet or delicious at the moment, are painful, venomous and destructive in the long run because they limit and bind us. In the thinking mind there is no reality. Each moment we are building a castle, and the following moment we are breaking it. When we go beyond thinking with the help of our aspiration and meditation, we can see and enjoy God's Reality and God's Vision together.

Question: In meditation sometimes the mind stops functioning and there seems to be little information coming.

Sri Chinmoy: In meditation we should not give importance to the mind. If there is no information coming, it is good. Real meditation is not information; it is identification. The mind tries to create oneness by grabbing and capturing you and this may easily make you revolt. But the heart creates oneness through identification. The mind tries to possess. The heart just expands and, while expanding, it embraces. With the mind, we only divide ourselves. The mind may try to do something and immediately the body or the vital may try to prevent it. But if the heart wants to do something, no matter how difficult, it will be done. This is because when the mind gets no satisfaction when it tries something, it just says that there is no reality there and gives up. But when the heart does not get satisfaction, it feels that it has not done the thing properly. So it tries again, and continues trying until satisfaction dawns at last.

Question: What technique would you recommend for stilling the mind, so that one will be able to concentrate?

Sri Chinmoy: To still the mind for concentration, you have to use your willpower. If your concentration is so dispersed that you cannot bring the mind under control at all, there is a particular exercise which you can practise.

Make a small black dot on the wall and stand six or seven feet away, focusing your attention on it. Try not to see the white wall around you. See only the black dot. After five or ten minutes try to enter into that dot and feel that you have become the dot itself. You are not something else or someone else. You are inside that dot. Finally, pierce the wall with your focus of concentration. Go right through the wall and beyond it. From that point, look back and try to see your original self, the person who was standing in front of the wall looking at the dot. Once you are successful with this exercise, the mind can never act like a naughty child. At that time, the mind becomes a most faithful servant of the soul and concentration becomes quite easy.

Question: How do you meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: You are asking a most complicated question. If you have no teacher you have to start by reading spiritual books written by real Masters. This will give you inspiration. Then please practise concentrating on your heart. Nobody can describe the way to meditate, for each person's soul has its own way of meditating. You have to go deep within to find your own way. If you cannot go deep within to get your own meditation, or if you are not satisfied with the meditation that you feel you have received from within, you have to feel the necessity of throwing the mind into the heart. The unillumined human mind has to be thrown into the heart's sea of divine love. If you really want to meditate, learn to concentrate in the heart and not in the mind.

I am not saying that the mind is bad. Far from it. But the mind is limited while the heart, which is very close to the soul, is unlimited. At most what you can get from the mind is inspiration. But inspiration itself is limited. But when you meditate on the heart, inspiration turns into aspiration. Aspiration does not come from the mind. No! It comes directly from your heart. The heart can give you everything. Aspiration is the harbinger of realisation or illumination. In aspiration is the seed of realisation. Aspiration comes from the heart because the illumination of the soul is always there. And when you meditate on the heart, not only do you get aspiration, but you also get the fulfilment of that aspiration: the soul's infinite Peace, Light and Bliss.

Question: I am a beginner in meditation, and I find that I am constantly troubled by thoughts. How can I have a successful meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: When starting your journey, try to allow only divine thoughts to enter into you, and not undivine thoughts. It is better not to have any thoughts at all during meditation, but it is next to impossible for the beginner to have a mind without thoughts. But this beginner is learning; he will not always be a beginner.

How can you have a successful meditation? Try to cry inwardly, cry for liberation. When this cry comes from deep within, the Inner Pilot, God, will teach you how to meditate. The secret of meditation is aspiration. Aspiration is the inner cry. If you cry from deep within you will get what you need.

Question: When I meditate, I have to concentrate so hard on keeping my mind still that I cannot contact my inner self.

Sri Chinmoy: You do not know it, but you are doing the right thing. Right now, for you the best thing is concentration. When you are trying to make your mind calm and quiet, you are concentrating. If you can concentrate on quieting your mind that is a wonderful thing. When you are successful in chasing away all the thoughts that disturb your mind, sooner or later your inner self will automatically come to the fore and stand right in front of you like the blazing sun clearing away the veil of clouds. Right now, the inner sun is overcast with clouds: thoughts, ideas, doubts, fears and so forth. When you can chase them away, you will see that the inner self is shining bright and radiant right in front of you. Please continue with what you are doing. It is a very good thing, and it will enable you to go farther, higher and deeper. Meditation will automatically be done by your inner being. Only try to concentrate regularly, faithfully and devotedly each day. Your inner self will be most pleased with you, and will give you what you want from God.

Question: Sometimes when I meditate I cannot control my mind. What should I do in such a case?

Sri Chinmoy: Take the mind as a monkey or an unruly child. The very nature of the monkey is to bite you. But you can either pay no attention to it, or if it continues to bother you, threaten and frighten it. But always reject it. As many times as it comes to you, chase it away or deliberately place your conscious awareness on something else. If you allow it to distract you, it will gain strength and continue to torture you.

During your meditation your mind may resist and obstruct you, but you have to feel that you have something superior to the mind, and that is your heart. Try to get help from your heart. If you feel that the help you are getting from the heart is not enough, then go to the highest, that is, to the soul. Feel that you have and are nothing but the soul. Sincerely repeat, "I am the soul, I am the soul." If you can repeat this soulfully for five minutes, the resistance of the physical mind will go away and only the heart and soul will exist for you.

Question: Isn't it necessary to control the mind first in order to receive divine Light?

Sri Chinmoy: If we want to control the mind with our will, it will be like asking a monkey not to bother us. The very nature of the monkey is to bite and pinch us. It is impossible to stop it. But we can bring to the fore the light of the soul, which has unlimited power. In the outer world, when somebody is superior in strength or power, he tries to punish the one that is bothering him. But in the spiritual life, the light of the soul and the light of the heart will not punish the mind. On the contrary, the light will act like a most affectionate mother. It will come forward and try to transform the mind. It will feel, as a mother does, that the imperfection of the child is its own imperfection. The heart will feel the obscurity, impurity and darkness of the mind as its own limitations and, at the same time, it will be in a position to offer its light — the light it gets from the soul — to the mind. We have to use the superior power, the light of the soul, to control the mind. If we try to control the mind before bringing down divine Light, we will sadly fail.

Question: I have read about different methods of clearing my mind of outside thoughts, but it seems that the harder I try, the more difficult it becomes. As I understand it, if you are meditating properly, light or knowledge will come from outside sources if your mind is completely clear. Is this true?

Sri Chinmoy: Light and knowledge do not come from outside sources. They come from within. You have been focusing your attention on a particular object, and this is concentration. Meditation is something else. When you meditate you focus on Infinity, on something very vast, deep, sublime. You do not see an object; you try to grow into an infinite expansion. In concentration you focus on something small, but in meditation you throw yourself into something very vast.

You say that it is extremely difficult for you to meditate. That is because you are trying to meditate inside your mind. The very nature of the mind is to welcome ideas — good, bad, divine, undivine. But the nature of the heart is to try to become one with the ultimate Goal. To clear the mind is very hard, it is true. So the best thing you can do is try to bring the heart forward and illumine the mind with the light of the heart. It is always advisable to meditate in the heart. The love and oneness of the heart and soul will unite you with Divinity. When you are well established in the heart, on the strength of your aspiration, then you can enter into the physical mind to transform it. Otherwise, it is almost impossible to deal with the mind and go beyond the mind. Throw all the possessions of the mind into the heart. When you do this consciously, the heart is able to bring the light from the soul into the mind, or the soul will consciously offer light to the mind. Then the mind can be transformed and illumined. Always try to throw the mind into the heart. Then your meditation can be meaningful and fruitful every day. Otherwise, you can meditate for years and years and have no satisfaction, because the mind will never stop disturbing you. So please meditate on the heart and try to identify yourself spontaneously with something vast, something sublime, inside you. Once your identification is strong it will be extremely easy for you to meditate.

Question: I try to keep my mind from wandering so much during meditation, but I have very little success.

Sri Chinmoy: You are not exercising the capacity of your heart; you are only exercising the mind's power. Very often when I am concentrating on you, I see that your mind is rotating like a wheel. When the mind rotates, it is very difficult for the Supreme to act in your mind. But when your heart aspires even for a second, the Supreme opens up the door.

A few months ago when I was going to Washington by bus, three times while I was concentrating on you I saw your heart fully open. You were receiving all the blessings of the Supreme — Light, Peace, Bliss. But soon after that, you started trying to aspire with your mind and, the moment you started, you disappeared, you totally vanished from my consciousness.

From now on, please try to feel that you do not have a mind at all. When you feel that you do not have a mind, it does not mean that you are a brute or an animal. No! The mind is not necessary because you have a superior weapon called the heart. If you can stay in your heart even for five minutes, even if you do not pray or meditate, your consciousness will be raised. The heart is your abode, not the mind. If you stay in the heart, you will feel peace, light and all that you need.

The heart is like a fountain of peace, joy and love. You can sit at the base of the fountain and just enjoy. There is no need to pray to the Supreme to give you this, that, or anything else, for you will get all the things that you want and infinitely more from this fountain. But you will get them in the way the Supreme wants to give them. If you can please the Supreme by staying always in the presence of this fountain you will see that your desires are fulfilled most luminously. They may be the same desires you have always had, but they will be touched on a very high level with luminosity. Before they are fulfilled, the Supreme will transform each desire into aspiration with His Light.

When God transforms your desires into aspiration, you will see that you have become that aspiration itself. You can have that aspiration only in the heart and the soul, and not in the mind. If you go beyond the mind, you can also have the same aspiration. But you will never have it if you stay in the mind. The mind is really a dense jungle for most of us. Only in the heart will we find the sea of Peace and Bliss, and from there Light radiates.

I hope all of you meditate at home. Even if you do not get immediate results, please do not be disheartened or discouraged. To pass our school examinations, we have to study for years. But meditation is the examination of our body, vital, mind, heart and soul. When we pass this examination we have learned everything, whereas for the school examination we need only a very limited knowledge. For this vast inner knowledge we have to study. Our study is our sincere prayer and meditation. Sincerity plays a great part. If we meditate with intense sincerity even for two minutes, that is better than sitting in so-called meditation for two hours and thinking of our children, our friends, our enemies, our jobs and what not.

In India there are village women who say, "We meditate for six or eight hours every day. But God is so unkind, He never listens to our prayers." But what do they really do? They start meditation, and then they begin thinking of their cow. The cow is grazing and they wonder if it is entering into somebody else's territory and if it will be beaten. Their minds are roaming in the world of imagination, and then they say, "I have meditated for so many hours." But how many times did they even think of God, let alone feel God's Presence in their heart? The whole time they were uttering God's Name, but they were thinking of their cow or of some other trivial thing. What kind of result can anyone expect from this kind of meditation?

If we can remain for five minutes without any thought in our minds, divine or undivine, good or bad, then we immediately get the reflection of our soul. The soul represents our divine perfection both in our outer and in our inner life. Through pure meditation without thought, we become able to reflect our inner divinity.

Question: What happens if wrong thoughts enter into your mind during meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: The moment a thought enters into your mind, especially any undivine thought or wrong thought, your aspiration must cut it to pieces, because during meditation everything is very intense. While you are talking or engaging in your ordinary earthly activities you can have any kind of thought, for your thoughts are not intense at those times. But during your meditation, if any undivine thought comes, the power of your meditation enlarges and intensifies it, and it ruins part of your subtle and spiritual being. If a good thought comes, you can try to enlarge it as much as possible. If the good thoughts are on a lower level, try to lift them up to a higher level. But if you have a bad thought, just cut it off, kill it.

Question: When I am meditating I am all peace, but since I still don't have full control of my thoughts, sometimes a negative thought comes. I am afraid the wrong thought may use the power of my meditation for doing some wrong.

Sri Chinmoy: When a wrong thought comes to you during your meditation, try to feel that this thought is as insignificant as an ant. Wrong thoughts cannot utilise your power if you feel that the spiritual power you have received from your meditation is infinitely stronger than the power of the wrong thoughts. Sometimes when wrong thoughts come during meditation, a person feels that the strength of the wrong thought is so powerful that even if he has meditated for an hour, or two or three hours, it is all useless. One wrong thought, one ordinary thought comes in and he feels lost. For two hours he has meditated most sincerely and divinely, but he gives more importance to one wrong thought than to his entire meditation. This is foolish. The seeker should not give any importance to wrong thoughts at that particular moment.

The moment we can stop paying attention to wrong thoughts, the wrong thoughts have no power. But what happens is that we are terribly afraid of them. We dwell in them and think they are going to ruin us. Just by thinking about them, just by being afraid of them, we give them power. So do not be afraid. You are the lord in your house. You are meditating inside your own consciousness, and somebody is knocking at your door. If you do not pay any attention, how will he dare to come in? When you are meditating you simply must not open the door to these wrong thoughts. And in case they have entered before you were aware, what do you do? Again, you do not pay any attention to them.

Wrong thoughts are terribly jealous of divine thoughts. Wrong thoughts come to attack us and take away our divine feelings, divine thoughts, divine power. But when we pay all our attention to divine thoughts, divine feelings, divine power, in many cases the wrong thoughts just go away. "We have no place here. He does not care for us," they think. Wrong thoughts also have their pride. They do not care for you when you do not care for them.

I wish to say something more with regard to this question. Many years ago, a disciple asked his Guru what to do when emotional thoughts, thoughts from his lower vital, sex thoughts, entered into him during his highest meditation. The Master said, "Immediately stop meditating. When wrong thoughts come during intense meditation, they will receive intensity from your meditation and become very powerful forces. So it is better to leave meditation at that time."

One can try this approach if one wants to. But I wish to advise my disciples of another approach. During meditation, when wrong thoughts come to you, you can immediately try to recollect one of your sweetest or highest divine experiences. Enter into your own experience which you had two days ago or twenty years ago, and try to bring it into your mental consciousness. You will see that while you are fully immersed in your own experience, the vital or emotional thought from the lower vital plane is bound to leave you because the highest, deepest, purest ecstasy will be in your consciousness. Divine Delight is infinitely more powerful than the power of pleasure. When you invite or invoke or try to recollect one of your divine experiences, the inner delight or ecstasy comes to the fore. Then you drink in the nectar-delight of your own spiritual experience, which is infinitely stronger than your lower vital forces. In this way you can solve the problem without leaving your meditation.

Question: I feel pressure in my forehead when I meditate. Can you tell me what causes this?

Sri Chinmoy: When you get pressure in your forehead or in your head, please feel that you are not meditating on the right place. You want to play a game, but unfortunately you have gone to the wrong playing field. When you feel pressure in your head or in your forehead during meditation, it means your mind has pulled down Light and Power beyond its capacity. At that time, immediately focus your attention on the heart. There you will feel peace, joy, love, confidence and everything else you need. Each time you feel pressure, consciously shift your attention to the heart. Then try to breathe in slowly and quietly for a few seconds and this tension will disappear.