Aspiration and God's Hour

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Part I — Meditation

Question: What does it mean to meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: Meditation means conscious self-expansion. Meditation means one's conscious awareness of the highest Reality. Meditation means the recognition or the discovery of one's own true Self. It is through meditation that we transcend limitation, bondage and imperfection. First we face these limitations, then we transform them and finally we transcend them. So meditation means the discovery of one's own highest transcendental Reality.

Question: Can you reveal the inner secrets of meditation to me?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, I can, provided you accept me as your spiritual guide and I am in a position to accept you as my student. The disciples whom I have accepted will definitely see the divine Light with my inner assistance and under the express guidance of the Supreme, who is my Guru, your Guru and everybody's Guru.

Question: Guru, you have talked about meditation many times, but it still seems like a very vague word to me.

Sri Chinmoy: Indeed, meditation is a vague word. We use it in season and out of season. What does meditation mean? Meditation means the language of our inner life and the language of God. It is through meditation that we can commune with God. It is through meditation that we can see God face-to-face. It is through meditation that we can know that God is both with form and without form.

Each person has to have a meditation of his own. He has to get it from the inmost recesses of his heart or from a spiritual teacher. In this university you have many teachers and each one is competent to teach you a particular subject. In the same way, if you want to launch into the inner life of aspiration, the life of the soul, then you will need a teacher who can teach you to concentrate, meditate and contemplate. Until you get a teacher, you may not be sure what message your inner voice is giving you.

You can start by reading scriptures and spiritual books. These books will instruct you how to discipline your life to some extent. But if you want to go to the end of the road and reach your inner Goal, then you need true meditation.

Question: What is the relationship between concentration, meditation and contemplation?

Sri Chinmoy: In our spiritual life we start with concentration, then we enter into meditation and finally we enter into contemplation. When we want to develop will power, we concentrate. The mind is restless; constantly it moves from one idea to another. It cannot think of one thing for more than a fleeting minute. In concentration we focus only on one particular object or subject. We do not allow anything else to enter into our mind. If we know how to focus our concentration on a particular spot or on one of our chakras, we can concentrate on this. Through concentration we will be able to throw aside the many uncomely thoughts and undivine ideas that are in the mind.

Concentration acts like an arrow in the spiritual life. If doubt enters into our mind, the power of concentration will tear doubt to pieces. If fear enters into our mind, the power of concentration will chase away our fear. Concentration clears the way so that the traveller can walk along the path of meditation. How can we develop the power of concentration? We can develop concentration by leading a disciplined life, a pure life. Of course, if the seeker has a Master, the Master will be able to surcharge the seeker's life with the power of concentration. If we are concentrating on our Master, the Master is the only thing in our existence. At that time, nobody else exists for us. We don't look forward, backward or upward. Only the Master is in our mind. This is concentration: one-pointed attention on a particular thing.

When we have become successful in concentration, we enter into the domain of meditation. When we enter into meditation, we try to receive inner peace, light and bliss. Meditation is a vast realm. There we try to enter into the reality which is called peace, light and bliss. Concentration focuses on a very small thing, but meditation deals with the vast.

When we meditate, we enter into the vast sea, the vast sky, and the reality of that vastness enters into our meditation. In meditation we see the whole sea all at once, whereas in concentration we take it drop by drop.

In contemplation we again go one step further. In contemplation we enter into the reality and the reality becomes part and parcel of our life. When we meditate on the sea or the sky, we enter into the consciousness of that vastness. But when we contemplate, that consciousness becomes our very own. So contemplation is the last stage. We start with concentration, then we enter into meditation and finally we go to contemplation. Contemplation offers us the message of oneness. The divine lover, the God-lover, becomes inseparably one with his supreme Beloved. The seeker becomes inseparably one with God. Vision becomes inseparably one with Reality. The seeker and the Truth become inseparably one in contemplation. The finite becomes inseparably one with the Infinite. A tiny drop enters into the ocean and loses its individuality and personality and becomes the ocean itself. Inseparable oneness with the highest Absolute we get from contemplation.

Question: After we have finished meditating, how do we go about contemplating?

Sri Chinmoy: At this stage of your life you need not do contemplation. Contemplation comes after quite a few years, when one is very advanced in the spiritual life. Contemplation is the highest rung of the ladder. First comes concentration, then meditation and finally contemplation. Here among my disciples, only very, very few have the capacity of limited contemplation; otherwise, all are up to the meditation state. The contemplation state is a very high state. Even those very, very few who do have the capacity to contemplate cannot do so at their sweet will. So in your case, please only think of meditation right now. Contemplation will take some time. When the time for contemplation comes, I will tell you.

Contemplation is required before God-realisation, so it cannot be ignored or avoided. But, in your case, the necessity for contemplation has not come, because your concentration is not yet perfect, your meditation is not yet perfect. When your concentration is perfect and your meditation is perfect, at that time also your contemplation will have to be perfected. Then you will be able to climb up these three rungs in the ladder of self-realisation. Then you will really be able to enter into the Highest. But now the time has not yet come for you to learn contemplation.

Question: How can we tell which message we hear during meditation is the right one?

Sri Chinmoy: During meditation our heart gets the real realisation of Truth. Absolute realisation is something different, something far beyond this kind of awareness; but let us use the term "realisation" to describe the experience of the heart. After we stop meditating, our mind immediately tells us something else. It says, "No, this message cannot be right." The mind has its own realisation, which it thinks is better and more profitable than the realisation of the heart. But it may be that the realisation which seems to be the less profitable of the two is actually the higher realisation.

The heart always offers the same message. When we sit down to meditate in the morning, it gives one message. In the evening when we meditate, we will again get the same message from the heart. But in the case of the mind, one moment it says one thing and the next moment, as soon as we turn our head, it says something else. One moment the mind will say, "He is a good man. Last night he appreciated me in front of some people." But the next moment our mind remembers the past. Even though the past is now irrelevant, the mind remembers it. Then it says, "He is a rascal. He lied to me twenty years ago." So let us always listen to the dictates of the heart.

Question: Why is meditation so spontaneous one day and the next day not?

Sri Chinmoy: Meditation needs practice. You have to practise to become spontaneous in your meditation. Why is it that you get hungry one day and the next day you don't get hungry? If you work hard on the outer plane, then you are bound to become hungry. If, on the physical plane, you run quite a few miles, then you are bound to feel hungry. Similarly, if you work hard on the inner plane, then you will be blessed with receptivity. In the inner plane, if you cry soulfully and devotedly, then you can create receptivity, and inside that receptivity you will feel gratitude. When you feel gratitude, at that time your meditation is bound to be spontaneous. So there are many ways to get hungry. But the ultimate cause of inner hunger, the real source of your inner cry is God and nothing else.

Question: How can one overcome a feeling of hell and doubt when one meditates?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, if our meditation is soulful, we cannot experience hell and doubt. But if our meditation is not soulful, how can we overcome a feeling of hell and doubt? First of all, we must have a fondness for meditation, a liking for meditation. Some people meditate in a mechanical way. They take it as a routine, as something imposed on them. But nobody can impose meditation on us. We have to accept it on our own. Very often people get bitter experiences and frustrated feelings during their meditation. Why? Because they do not like or love meditation. They simply feel that from meditation they will get something special, something unique. They are like beggars who think that by begging they will be able to become millionaires overnight. Very often when a seeker enters into the spiritual life he thinks that his entire existence will be inundated with peace, light and bliss overnight. But everything takes time. One cannot become a millionaire overnight; one has to work hard. One cannot get a Master's degree in one day or in one year. One has to pass through kindergarten, primary school, high school, college and university.

So why do we have the experience of hell and doubt during our meditation? Because we are pulling and pushing. We are pushing ourselves beyond our capacity and we are pulling in something beyond the capacity of our receptivity. Our receptivity is very limited. We are trying to pull in something which will break the vessel within us. Or we are pushing ourselves beyond our capacity. We do not have the capacity to run, but we are pushing ourselves like the fastest runner in the world. Even though we do not have the capacity, we feel that by running we will reach the Goal. True, we have to reach our Goal, but if we run beyond our capacity, we will only fall and break our legs. Then our spiritual life will end.

We are experiencing doubt because we are not following the spiritual path systematically. We doubt humanity, we doubt God or we doubt ourselves. A seeker often feels that he will never realise God. Either God does not exist for him or he feels that he will not realise God because he is not pure enough, sincere enough or disciplined enough. But he is wrong. If the son exists, then the Father exists. If the seeker was created by God, which is absolutely true, then the creation is bound to reach the Creator. As the Creator can at any moment enter into the creation, so too the creation, with its sincere inner urge, can and will enter into the Creator.

Unfortunately, many people cherish a wrong idea called hell. There is no such thing as hell; it is only limitation, bondage. We are now experiencing the finite. Unfortunately, we have not yet experienced the Infinite, the Immortal and the Eternal. Just because we have not yet felt the Infinite, we feel that the opposite — the finite — is hell. But we have to know that the bondage that we are experiencing every day is only a passing phase. It is like an overcast day. For half an hour or for a few hours the sun does not shine, but finally the sun comes out. Each individual has an inner sun. This inner sun is now covered by fear, doubt, worries, anxiety, imperfections and limitations. But a day will come when we will be able to remove these clouds and then the inner sun will shine brightly.

If we believe in hell, then we are only belittling our own inner potentiality. We are all God's children. For us there is no hell; there is only light. But if we do not see the truth in the way that the truth has to be seen, then there is inner pain. This pain is bound to occur every day in our life. The truth is there, but we have to see the truth in the proper way. Then only will we see that life has its true meaning.

When we meditate, we must not expect anything from our meditation. God is meditating in and through us. The very fact that we want to meditate should please us. Millions of people are not meditating; they are wallowing in the pleasures of ignorance. How is it that out of millions and billions of people, we are ready to meditate? God has chosen us. The very fact that we are meditating means that we have been blessed by God. Here we have to know that He who has given us the capacity to meditate will also give us the result. But there is something called God's choice Hour. Just because we have started meditating, we cannot expect peace, light and bliss overnight.

We have to feel that we are divine farmers. We cultivate the land and sow the seed. Then we have to wait for rain, for the divine Grace. A farmer does not get a bumper crop in a day. Similarly, a spiritual seeker will not get the bumper crop of God-realisation in a single day. If he wants to do this, then he is pushing himself beyond his capacity or pulling something beyond the capacity of his receptivity. He will naturally be frustrated and his frustration he will call hell. He must wait for God's choice Hour and remain satisfied with the idea that God will give him the capacity to meditate at His choice Hour. Patience is necessary. God has given us the capacity to meditate, so we should be grateful that He has chosen us and not anybody else right now. Then we have to wait for God's choice Hour. If we pull, if we push, then frustration will appear; and in frustration we will feel hell. We will doubt our own spiritual capacity and God's existence. So if we meditate for God's sake and not for our own sake, then we will never have doubt or this feeling of hell.

Question: How does one bring the mind under control?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know that we are the possessors of two rooms. One room is known as the heart-room; the other is known as the mind-room. The mind-room is right now obscure, unlit, impure and unwilling to open to the light. The heart-room is always open to the light, which is the light of the soul. We have to try to remain in the heart-room as long as we can. Finally there will come a time when our entire being is surcharged with inner light. When this happens, only then can we safely enter into the mind-room. But right now, if we enter into the mind, we will be totally confused because it is all darkness. We will be caught there; we will become a victim to the ignorant, undivine and suspicious forces of the mind.

We should not try to enter into the mind-room in the very beginning of our spiritual journey. To enter into this room we need abundant inner courage, inner light and inner assurance from our Inner Pilot. Very often we make a Himalayan blunder: we enter into the mind-room just because we see that it is all confusion and darkness, and we want to illumine the mind. But we have to know whether we have the necessary light at our command. If we have the necessary light, then we can enter into the mind-room and illumine it. But if we don't have enough light right now, then we have to enter into the heart-room where there is abundant light. Here we shall meditate and energise ourselves with the inner light of the soul. Then we will enter into the mind-room and illumine it.

So the most effective approach is to remain in the heart-room and not in the mind proper. I tell my students first to strengthen their inner life, their life of aspiration. They must bring to the fore their inner light, their soul's light, which is available most powerfully in the heart. If we concentrate on the heart, then sooner or later the light of the soul is bound to come to the fore. We will feel that we are in full possession of our inner light and that we can use it at our own sweet will. At that time, we can enter into the mind-room to illumine it.

Question: How can I tell if I am meditating too much?

Sri Chinmoy: How can you tell if you are meditating too much? It is very simple. If you are meditating too much, then you will get a kind of tension or pain in the third eye. Also, if you are meditating too much — that is to say, beyond your capacity — then you may get a kind of rigid attitude. You may feel, "I am so divine, so perfect, whereas everyone else is all undivine and imperfect. They are all insignificant creatures." If you are trying to pull down peace, light and bliss from above beyond your capacity, then you may no longer get any joy or satisfaction from your earthly activities. You may come to feel that this earthly existence of yours is useless and meaningless. If you get this kind of disgust or depression or ascetic feeling, and if you want to withdraw from the world, then you have to know that you are trying to meditate beyond your capacity.

Also, it may be that you are trying to meditate in the wrong way, that is to say, in a way different from the way your soul wants you to meditate. You may meditate, say, for only fifteen minutes, which is a short time for meditation; but if the form of the meditation is not correct for you, then you will feel tremendous tension in your forehead.

There are many ways to meditate. You can meditate on the heart or you can meditate on the mind by trying to silence the mind. You may feel that your mind is now your best instrument, your most developed instrument. But when you look at the mind, you see that it is restless, it is uncontrolled. The mind is subject to all kinds of absurd and undivine thoughts. You see that you are not getting any real satisfaction from the mind. If you want to meditate on the mind, you will try to stop all thoughts. When a thought comes, right away you just stab it and kill it. But this kind of meditation may create tension for you. Again, you may feel, "I shall let every earthly thought, like a mad elephant, enter into my mind. I will sit for hours and my mind will roam freely in the world of thought. Finally, like a child in the playground, it will become tired and enter into the world of silence. Then I will be able to do real meditation." But this approach your soul may also find unsatisfactory.

I am not saying that one particular form of meditation is right and another is wrong. What is right for someone else may be wrong for you, and vice-versa. It depends upon the needs of the individual soul.

Question: How do we receive God's Grace?

Sri Chinmoy: God's Grace is always there, but how many people utilise it? God's Grace is like the rays of the sun. The sun is always there, but what do we do? We get up late. Instead of getting up at five-thirty or six o'clock, we get up at eight or nine o'clock. Then we do not get the blessing of the morning sun. And when we do get up, we keep the doors and windows all shut and do not allow the sunlight to enter into our room. In the spiritual life also, God's Grace is constantly descending, but we are not allowing the Grace to enter into our system. We have kept barriers between God's Grace and our own ignorance. Only if we keep our heart's door wide open can God's Light enter into our existence. God's Light means God's Grace. There is no difference between God's Grace and God's Compassion-Light.

God's Grace is constantly descending; this is absolutely true. So we have to empty our inner vessel every day and fill the vessel with God's Peace, Light and Bliss. We have to feel that God's Light is there all the time and is more than willing to illumine us. Then only we will be able to utilise God's Grace. Again, if we miss God's Grace, we should not be doomed to disappointment. Today we have not allowed the sunlight to enter into our room, but tomorrow again the sun will be there. In the spiritual life also, if today we have not allowed God's Grace to enter into us due to our ignorance, no harm. Tomorrow we must definitely be prepared for God's Light to enter into us.

Question: I am giving a lot of importance to aspiring through music.

Sri Chinmoy: There is nothing wrong if you feel aspiration in your music. But you have to know how many hours you can think of your music. If you spend five hours, six hours, seven hours a day on music, then spend one hour or two hours, let us say, on spirituality. Music is also a form of spirituality; I don't deny it. But the height that you will achieve from meditation either you may not get or cannot get from your music. Music is an added help. From meditation you may get ninety-nine dollars of spiritual wealth and from music you may get one dollar. There are many things that will not give you even one dollar's worth. Music is ready to give you five dollars' or even ten dollars' worth. But the main eighty or ninety dollars' worth you will get from your meditation.

Question: If I get creative ideas while I am meditating, should I accept them or should I just try to feel with my heart?

Sri Chinmoy: As soon as you get an idea, you should consider it as a blessing from the Supreme. Creation is realisation; creation is progress. Please take these creative ideas as your own progress. When you get ideas, you have to know that they are creations from another world which want to manifest on the physical plane. When your meditation is over, you should write down the ideas. Afterwards, you can elaborate on them.

Question: At the end of meditation, I feel very good. Is there anything I should do with that feeling, or any way to utilise it?

Sri Chinmoy: Whatever you feel must be preserved. How can you preserve it? Only by offering gratitude to the Inner Pilot. Also, you must feel that what you have achieved is not enough. You must continue. If you have received or achieved a dollar's worth of peace, then you must try to get ten dollars' worth of peace. And if you feel that you have developed an inner muscle to receive, then you must continue strengthening that muscle. If you have strong muscles, you can do a few push-ups, but if you have stronger muscles, then you can do more push-ups. In this way you can develop a very strong inner physique.

Question: Guru, how can we have a feeling of giving and not expecting in our meditation, especially when we receive a force from you?

Sri Chinmoy: During your meditation, just try to throw your inner and outer existence into my transcendental Consciousness. In the transcendental Consciousness, you do not have to think of anything. You just throw yourself into the sea. Then the sea will feed you with light, peace, bliss and power. But do not expect peace from there, or any particular divine quality. I want to give you something, but when you expect, with your expectation you are binding yourself and you are binding me.

Human expectation is very limited. Suppose you want divine peace. This is wonderful. But when you expect, immediately your mind acts. The mind creates some receptivity inside you and you feel that you have the capacity to receive what you are expecting. But first you have to know that the receptivity that you have in your mind or in the physical is very limited. If you do not expect, but only try to give, then the problem of receptivity comes to the Master. Because you are giving, the Master also wants to give. In order to give, he has to make the vessel; he not only has to make it, but he has to make it very large so that he can give the amount that he wants to give. At that time the Master is bound to give you everything in boundless measure and, at that time, he creates the receptivity in you to receive what he has to offer. So when you meditate, just throw yourself with your utmost aspiration into my Consciousness. Your utmost aspiration should be the feeling of oneness. Feel that you are entering into something which is your true self. You are not entering into a foreign element or foreign person; you are entering into your own highest.

Question: Guru, are you bothered by noise and other disturbances when you meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: In silence we possess the highest. If I enter into my own highest trance, at that time nothing will bother me. But the moment we talk, we come down one level. There we see that the earthbound consciousness, the noise and everything else there, is affecting us. If I want to remain in my highest and if I don't want to care about what is happening all around, I can do that. But if I am to be of service to my disciples, then how can I all the time stay there? If somebody is drowning in the water, then naturally the person who is on the shore has to also enter into the water if he wants to be of help. So here also, if a spiritual Master wants to remain in his highest, he has the capacity to do so. But from the highest he cannot help humanity. The students cannot come up to his height, so he has to come down to the level of the students. So I come down to the level of my disciples and teach them how to meditate. If I want to remain in my highest, ignoring them, or if I don't want to be perturbed by the earthly circumstances, noise and so forth, I can easily remain in my highest. But that will not help my fellow beings and my disciples.

Question: Should I meditate on my third eye?

Sri Chinmoy: Sometimes during meditation, individuals concentrate on their third eye. There is nothing wrong with an individual meditating on his third eye. Only you have to know how much preparation you already have. Suppose your third eye opens up untimely and you are not spiritually mature. If you see with your third eye that your mother is going to die tomorrow, you will die today with worries and anxieties. Or your third eye may allow you to see the past. Suppose you see that in the past you badly deceived someone. Now you are such a sincere seeker, but you will feel so miserable because of what you did in the past. You will say, "I have deceived someone, so in this incarnation how am I going to realise God? I am such an undivine person."

But if you have inwardly prepared yourself through gradual meditation on the heart, then if your mother dies tomorrow you will simply say, "Oh, it is God's Will. After all, I have come to surrender my whole existence to God's Will. If He wants to take His daughter, it is His business." And if you had been a thief or a very undivine person in the past, so what? Before you were undivine and now you want to become divine. That is why you have accepted the path of aspiration. This is called illumination, and illumination will save you. If you have this kind of illumination, and it is a living experience in your life, then you can easily meditate on the third eye without any fear. But unless you have illumination as a living experience, it is dangerous to open the third eye. Any serious incident that you see in the future will kill you right in the present. And if you become aware of any unfortunate incident that took place in your past, you will feel extremely miserable and you will not have the heart to go forward.

That is why it is not advisable in the beginning to concentrate and meditate on the third eye. But when your inner being is developed, when you are fully mature and are able to cope with the situations of the past and of the future, then there is nothing wrong with meditating on the third eye. At that time you develop your own power and you make the fastest progress. But right now I tell the beginners not to concentrate on their third eye, because it only creates unnecessary problems.

Question: When I meditate, I lose energy and get tired. Is it because I meditate too much?

Sri Chinmoy: No, it is not because you meditate too much. If you are losing energy while meditating, it means that your meditation is incorrect. If you meditate well, you will gain energy, not lose it. If you do the right thing, naturally you will succeed. But if you meditate in a wrong way, then the meditation fails its own purpose.

Your meditation, unfortunately, is not the way it is supposed to be. You are supposed to meditate on the heart or on your inner being. But you are meditating on the mind or in some other wrong place. That is your problem. Meditation is the only way to gain infinite energy, infinite light and bliss. But if the particular method you use every day is wrong, then, naturally, you will lose energy instead of gaining it.

Question: How many times should we meditate per day?

Sri Chinmoy: If one follows the spiritual path, then one has to meditate at least once a day. This is obligatory; otherwise, it is useless to follow the spiritual path. It is better to meditate at least three times a day, but if it is not possible to feed your soul three times, then please feed it at least once. I am telling this to all of you. At least once a day you have to feed the soul. Feel that the soul is a little child, a divine child. If you don't feed the soul, then it will starve and your divine manifestation will be delayed.

So, if possible, you should meditate at least three times a day: early in the morning, at noon or during your lunch hour, and in the evening. Your morning and evening meditation should be for a longer time, that is to say, half an hour, and your meditation at noon should be for five or ten minutes. If possible, on some days try to meditate seven times for ten minutes or fifteen minutes each time. Seven is an occult number. It carries great significance. But this does not mean that you will only count the number of times and not how soulfully you meditate. You may meditate seven times a day, but it has to be done most soulfully. If you feel that you can meditate soulfully only once, early in the morning, then that is enough. You have to see your real capacity, sincerity, willingness and joy.

Question: How long should one meditate? How long can one meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the individual seeker. One athlete may practise running for half an hour while there may be another who can run for only two or three minutes. In the spiritual life also it depends on how far the seeker has advanced. There is no hard and fast rule that we have to meditate for ten or twelve hours. But if we can meditate soulfully and devotedly for one, two or even six hours, we should do it. We should continue to meditate as long as we can do it soulfully and devotedly. But if we meditate beyond our capacity, we will get headaches and have serious problems. Someone might force himself to meditate for twenty-four hours, but what kind of meditation will it be if he does not have the capacity? This will not bring about any satisfactory result. On the contrary, one may become insane.

The best thing is to meditate as long as we can without creating any mental disturbance or any difficulty in our spiritual life. It depends entirely on the capacity of the seeker. It is like developing a muscle. Today we may exercise and become tired after five minutes. After ten days we develop our muscles and we can exercise for half an hour or even more. In the spiritual life there is a spiritual muscle. This spiritual muscle is our inner intensity, our aspiration. How long and how sincerely we can cry for God is our inner muscle.

Question: Is it better to keep your eyes open or closed when you meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: It is better to keep the eyes open. Otherwise, when you keep the eyes closed, very often you go to the other world, the world of sleep. You may think you have had the highest, deepest meditation, but you have only been unconscious. But if you keep your eyes half open, a little open, then you are conscious of the outer world and, at the same time, you are conscious of the inner world. In order to be alert and aware of both worlds, it is always good to keep the eyes a little open. Sometimes if you feel that for two minutes or five minutes you want to keep your eyes closed, there is nothing wrong with that. But if you want to meditate for an hour or two hours while keeping your eyes closed, then I am sorry, but you will only fool yourself.

Question: Can one meditate any place, even if one is walking or driving?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly one can meditate anywhere when one has acquired the capacity. When you become like me you can meditate any time — while driving, while running, while cooking. But right now you are only a beginner. You can meditate in your highest only when you are alone in your room or here at the Centre. You do not have the mastery over your meditation in other places. If you want to do your highest meditation while driving or doing some other serious, important job, you may have an accident because you are not yet an expert or an advanced seeker. While walking, if you try to remain in the higher world, you will jaywalk and then someone will come and take your life away. So I do not advise you to do it.

I would like you to meditate as much as possible, but you have to know your capacity. In the car you may do japa. For a short while repeat the name of the Supreme, who is my Guru, your Guru, everybody's Guru. Then wait a few minutes and do it again. In this way you are helping yourself spiritually, and not putting yourself in any danger. But when you become an expert in your meditation, you can do it anywhere. In the beginning, a dancer always makes mistakes. But once he becomes an expert, he can dance anywhere he wants to.

Right now it is advisable to see what kind of capacity you have. You have to learn how to do the highest meditation and, at the same time, know what is happening on the earth plane. That is why I ask people during meditation to keep their eyes a little open, so that they can go to the highest while they are retaining their conscious oneness with Mother Earth. Otherwise, they will go up and forget all about this world, and then they are useless here.

I want everybody to become an expert climber. Everybody has to learn how to climb up the tree and bring down the mangoes and share them. If you have the capacity only to go up but not to come down, then you will be stuck there. The best thing is to learn to climb up and climb down. Gradually, gradually you will develop your capacity and then you will be able to do your best meditation anywhere.

Part II — Light

Question: What is the most important thing for the spiritual aspirant to bear in mind?

Sri Chinmoy: The spiritual aspirant should always bear in mind that he is of God and he is for God. Right now he may be a budding seeker, he may be a beginner; so for him God cannot be or need not be always a living God. Sometimes the aspirant will only be able to imagine God, and sometimes, in spite of his outer efforts, he may not feel the presence of God in himself, and sometimes he may even forget the existence of God. But he has to bear in mind that he has a Source and that Source is Light, boundless Light, infinite Light. He has been wallowing in the pleasures of ignorance for many years and he has not yet come out of ignorance. But he has to feel that his Source is not ignorance; his Source is Light and Delight. He is for that Source and he is making a conscious effort to return to his Source. While returning, he is manifesting God-Delight here on earth. Even now he is in ignorance to some degree, but he is always for God-Life and he is always for God-Light. If he can remember this, then he will feel a constant sense of satisfaction in his life. He will feel Light, more Light, abundant Light, infinite Light in his outer and inner life.

Question: How should you meditate on a particular quality — for example, light?

Sri Chinmoy: To meditate on a quality, let us say light, first try to imagine what will happen when that quality enters into you. Try to imagine what will happen if light enters into you. The answer is that illumination will take place. Put illumination in front of your mental vision and feel that slowly, steadily and unerringly you are growing into illumination itself. In this way, imagination will give you the message of reality. Then you have to feel that this reality is nothing other than your true self, and that you have to grow into this reality.

Question: Is it necessary to control the mind first in order to receive the divine Light?

Sri Chinmoy: If we want to control the mind with our human will, then it will be like asking a monkey or a fly not to bother us. The very nature of a monkey is to bite and pinch us; the very nature of a fly is to bother us. To try and control the mind directly is just like trying to straighten the tail of a dog; it is impossible.

The mind needs a superior power to keep it quiet. This superior power is the power of the soul. We have to 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 inferior. But in the spiritual world, the Light of the soul will not torture or punish the mind. On the contrary, it will act like a most affectionate mother who feels that the imperfections of her child are her own imperfections. The heart will feel the obscurity, impurity and darkness of the mind as its own imperfections and, at the same time, the heart will be in a position to offer its Light to the mind. In pin-drop silence it will try to transform the nature of the mind.

Question: What is the source of the higher Light?

Sri Chinmoy: This Light actually comes from the soul; it is inside us. The moment we can have free access to our inner being or to the soul, we will see that this Light is coming to the fore to permeate our whole outer existence.

Question: How quickly does a mantra remove desire from the mind?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the individual seeker. If he has established abundant purity in his entire being, then it is only a matter of months. But if the seeker is not pure enough, then the mantra will take a very long time to produce the desired effect.

Question: What is the purest Light?

Sri Chinmoy: The purest, highest Light is the Light of the Absolute Supreme. This Light can be seen and, at the same time, it can be felt or experienced. When we have established our constant, eternal and inseparable oneness with the Highest, the experience that we get is purest Light. If we have to define the purest Light, we can say that it is nothing but an experience of the Supreme in the Supreme. When we consciously feel our permanent and complete oneness with the Absolute Supreme, we get an eternal and everlasting experience of real, purest Light, and the purest consciousness of the Supreme is put at our disposal.

Question: How can we attain the experience of purest Light?

Sri Chinmoy: We achieve this experience on the strength of our inner cry. If we work outwardly for material wealth or power, eventually we achieve these outer things. When we want to do something or achieve something, we have to work for it. Right now our goal is purest Light. In this case, our work is to cry inwardly. We have to inwardly cry like a child for inseparable oneness with the Supreme. The child cries for what it wants, and the mother always comes. No matter where she is, she comes to offer the child whatever it wants. Similarly, when we cry in the inmost recesses of our heart, our request is granted. But everything depends on the sincerity of our inner cry. If our cry is sincere, God is bound to grant it. If we cry inwardly for spiritual things — for Peace, Light, Bliss — then we are bound to achieve these divine qualities.

Question: When you say, "Peace, Light and Bliss," what do you mean by Light? I keep trying to get a definition of Light and nobody is able to tell me.

Sri Chinmoy: Light is the power of the Supreme that illumines and transforms ignorance. Light is the capacity of the Supreme that transforms darkness into illumination-light. Anything that transforms our existence is Light. Light, you can say, is the life-breath of the Supreme. Each colour of light has a special meaning. Blue Light is Infinity, vastness; white Light is purity. Green Light is freshness, life-energy, new life. Like that, each colour has a significance.

Question: Guru, I often see Light as energy or forcefulness. Would you comment on that, please?

Sri Chinmoy: When you see Light as energy, you are absolutely correct. Light has tremendous energising power. When Light is not actively operating, it is the silent truth, the silent Brahman. But when Light operates in the form of energy, as you say, then it is the dynamic truth, the dynamic Brahman.

When you meditate, Light is operating in and through you. The Light which you get during your meditation is not only for your use but for others' use as well. When you receive Light, if you feel that you can use it at your sweet will, this is the wrong attitude. God gives us Light and He uses this Light in and through us for others. It is true that sometimes we misuse Light. We misuse Light when we want to possess the world for our own sake. But if we want to accept the world for God's sake, then we will never misuse Light. If we really want to accept the world for God's use, then at that time we don't try to possess the world. Consciously we jump into the sea of silence and activity. God gives us the opportunity or God Himself acts as the opportunity in the form of Light so that we can enter into the wide world. At that time, we do not possess anything, we just exercise our feeling of oneness.

If you want to help humanity — or rather, serve the Supreme in humanity — then from now on please try to have the feeling of oneness. Oneness will make you feel that there is only one reality and that is the soul. Only the feeling of oneness can cure the ills of humanity. Unless you have the feeling of oneness, you can never use Light properly and God can never use His Light in and through you.

Question: Oftentimes I have the feeling or sensation that I see Light, but my mind doubts it very forcefully. I was wondering if the Light I see is real or imaginary.

Sri Chinmoy: If it is real Light, if it is pure, divine Light, then rest assured that your mind cannot doubt what you are seeing. The mind does not have the capacity to doubt divine Light while you are seeing it. If you are doubting it while seeing it, that means it is not the real Light that you are seeing. The effulgence of Light is such that it will not allow any mental suspicion or doubt to enter in. You cannot doubt while seeing Light if it is absolutely the purest Light of the divine Consciousness. When the real Light, divine Light, supreme Light appears, at that time the mind is obliterated; it does not function at all. The mind cannot exist when the divine Light comes. The entire being becomes all soul, all heart, all oneness.

The mind does have the capacity to doubt divine Light afterwards. First you see the Light and at that time the mind is divine. Then, after twelve hours or even five minutes, the mind will gather strength and try to throw suspicion into your experience of Light. When your consciousness descends, when the Light goes away from your physical awareness, at that time you can doubt the Light that you saw. If right now God stands before you, you are not going to doubt Him. But the moment God disappears from your outer vision, you can doubt God.

Because of your oneness with your body, you don't doubt your eyes, you don't doubt your nose. You know that you are part and parcel of your body and that your body is part and parcel of your life; so you don't doubt. Similarly, divine Light is your real existence. How can you deny or doubt your own existence? But after the experience is over, when you do not feel the Light as your own, at that time the mind may throw suspicion and doubt into you.

Question: Can the physical consciousness lag behind, whereas the psychic consciousness is receiving higher light?

Sri Chinmoy: It has happened many, many times, thousands of times. The psychic consciousness is receiving Peace, Light and Bliss from above in abundant measure, whereas the physical consciousness is not powerful enough or large enough to hold it. So, what happens? Eventually the physical revolts and we suffer. That is why I tell the disciples, "Don't push, don't pull." Spirituality is a matter of accepting and transforming. We accept our life as it is; then we try to transform it. But we do not do it by hook or by crook. The divine means is through aspiration.

If we pull beyond our capacity, we will break. If a child wants to carry something very heavy, beyond his capacity, he will suffer. Slow and steady wins the race. Here capacity is receptivity. If we develop great receptivity, then no matter how high our spiritual height or how much we bring down from above, we will be able to assimilate it. If the container is very large, we don't have to worry. So when we aspire to climb up to the highest height, we have to aspire for expansion. Not only beginners, but also highly developed seekers have suffered from deplorable experiences. The physical revolts when it is not large enough to hold the Peace, Light and Power that the psychic brings down. So there should be a perfect harmony between the physical capacity and the heart's capacity.

Part III — Discourses

Aspiration and God's Hour

When you speak of God's Hour, you have to know that it is the divine moment when God wants you to realise Him and to manifest Him here on earth. How can you harmonise God's Hour and your own aspiration? You will do your part. That is to say, you will play your own role most soulfully. You will meditate most soulfully. Every day before your meditation, you have to aim at a particular goal, and this particular goal is the highest Height, the transcendental Height that you are trying to reach. You can call it the Golden Shore of the Beyond. When the meditation is over, still you have not reached the Highest. Your intention or your soulful will was to reach the Highest, but still you have not reached it. If you feel sorry, if you feel miserable, then I wish to say that you will never be able to reach your goal.

Feel that there is a specific hour, a golden hour, when you are meant to reach your goal. God's Hour is not at your disposal; it belongs to God. At His sweet Will He will offer it to you, but you have every right to imagine that it is here in today's meditation. When today's meditation is over and God's Hour has not struck, do not feel miserable. Tomorrow again during your meditation you have every right to hope for God's Hour.

God's Hour is like a lotus. It blossoms petal by petal. There is a lotus deep within you, but it blooms only one petal at a time. When all the petals have bloomed, then it is a fully blossomed lotus. Like that, God's Hour is in our aspiration. You cannot separate God's Hour from your own aspiration. When your aspiration reaches the Highest, the acme of Perfection, then automatically the lotus which we call God's Hour blossoms fully.

My only request to you is not to try to push or pull. God has asked you to aspire, so you aspire. Then it is up to God to give you divine victory. It is up to Him to fulfil your aspiration. Every day make your resolution: "This is what I am going to achieve." You are not trying to aggrandise or feed your ego. But you have to feel that if you can achieve your goal, if you can reach your destination, then only you will become a conscious instrument of the Supreme. Now, we are all instruments of the Supreme; all human beings are instruments of the Supreme. But most of us are unconscious instruments. We do not know that we are instruments; we think that we are the doer. But when we enter into the spiritual life, we come to feel that we are not the doer; somebody else is the doer and that somebody else is the Inner Pilot, the Supreme. Right now, just because you have your own individuality and personality, you have every right to feel that you are praying and you are meditating. Then a day will come when you will feel that it is not you who are praying and meditating; it is somebody else and that is the Supreme in you.

Everything depends on the goals you set. Today you may want God-realisation, but again tomorrow you may feel miserable, thinking that if you realise God, then you will not be able to enjoy the world. Early in the morning you may cry for Light, Peace and Bliss in infinite measure. You tell God that you can't exist without Him. But in the afternoon you may become a total stranger to your own aspiration. You may feel that if you realise God, then God will not allow you to enjoy teeming imperfections, vital life and all that. At that time, do you really want God or do you want the emotional life? Early in the morning God's Hour is fast approaching you but in the evening God's Hour becomes a far cry. The human difficulty is that in the morning you want something and in a few hours' time you want something else. So how can God's Hour call you? At every moment, aspire, aspire. In your aspiration, God's Hour is bound to strike.

Meditation and sincerity

Concentration, meditation and contemplation entirely depend on our inner cry. When a child is hungry, really hungry, he cries. He may be on the first floor and his mother on the third floor, but when the mother hears his cry she comes down immediately to feed the child.

Let us take concentration as an inner hunger. If we are really hungry, then our Father Supreme will come running no matter where we are crying. If we have intensity and sincerity in our cry, then I tell you that we can learn concentration in a few days' time. Otherwise, it can take years and years. And then, when will we have time to learn meditation and contemplation, which are more advanced subjects? There are people who have spent forty years learning how to concentrate. They have not developed an inner cry. It is like a good student and a bad student. A bad student will fail and fail and fail, whereas a good student will every year go on to a higher class.

Again, God-realisation is not like drinking water; it is not like instant coffee, something that you will get immediately. No, it takes time. If somebody says that he will be able to make you realise God overnight, then do not take him seriously. You have been to school, to college and university. It has taken you twenty years to get your Master's degree, which is based on outer knowledge. God-realisation, which is infinitely more important and more significant, naturally will take many more years. In no way do I want to discourage you. Only I wish to say that if your hunger is sincere and if you are desperately in need of God, then if you need the power of concentration, I assure you that God will give you the power of concentration.

There is also something practical you can do to strengthen your concentration-power. Please feel that inside your mind there is a room and naturally there is also a door. Stand either inside the room or outside the room, just in front of the door, and wait there to see who is coming. As soon as you see that some people are coming — "people" here means thoughts — you just keep the door closed. In the beginning, in order to become strong, you do not allow anybody in. Otherwise, while you are allowing friends to come in, your enemies may also come in and then you will be totally lost. But there comes a time when you become inwardly strong and you are in a position only to let your friends come in. At that time you will allow your friends in and let the enemies remain outside.

Good thoughts are your friends. Thoughts about self-sacrifice and loving God are good thoughts. So when these good thoughts want to enter into your room, you just leave the door open. But as soon as you see bad thoughts like fear, doubt, jealousy, frustration, depression and so on, you will keep the door closed.

If we practice concentration and meditation regularly, then we are bound to succeed. If we are really sincere, then we will reach the goal. But our difficulty is that we are sincere for one day or for one week and then we feel that spirituality is not meant for us. We want to realise God overnight. If we can't get our God-realisation overnight, then we think, "All right, let me pray for one week, one month, one year. After one year, if I don't realise God, I will give up." We feel that the spiritual life is not meant for us; it is only for others. It is like turning on the stove. If you turn the handle just a little and then stop, there will be no flame. You have to turn the handle to a certain spot and only then the flame will appear. But you move the handle only a little and then you think, "There will be no flame, so the best thing is to bring the handle back or to leave it where it is." This is what happens. People go one step and then they feel that God is not there. But God is standing at the end of two steps. If we don't go to where He is, then how are we going to see Him?

Part IV — Hartford television interview

On 8 May 1974 Sri Chinmoy was interviewed on a Hartford, Connecticut television show. This is a transcript of the interview.

First interviewer: I've heard about meditation, but I really don't know too much about it. This morning our guest is Sri Chinmoy, who is an expert in the area of meditation. He has lectured at many universities and written several books on the subject, and he also conducts twice-weekly meditations at the United Nations. It's nice to have you here this morning, Sri Chinmoy.

Sri Chinmoy: I am so happy to be here.

First interviewer: I think my first question is that I want to know more about meditation. Is it a mental exercise or is it like self-hypnosis? Is it an alternative to religion? Do people meditate instead of going to church?

Sri Chinmoy: Meditation is not a mental exercise, it is not self-hypnosis and it is not a form of religion. Meditation is an inner study for self-discovery. We meditate in order to empty our mind and in order to empty our heart. When we empty our mind we receive God the Peace. When we empty our heart we receive God the Love. Peace and Love are the two most important things in our life.

First interviewer: I think a lot of people are going to be wondering how you go about meditating. How do you do it? I think the results you are talking about sound good, but most of us don't really know how to meditate.

Sri Chinmoy: I wish to meditate for a few seconds. Then I shall explain how to meditate. [Sri Chinmoy meditates for a moment.] You just observed as I meditated for a couple of seconds. While I was meditating, I felt Peace and Delight all through my body. It was like a stream of Peace, Light and Delight flowing from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet.

Second interviewer: How would you describe what you saw in your mind's eye? Were you seeing some sort of a landscape scene?

Sri Chinmoy: Actually I was not seeing anything. I was growing into something, and that something was flowing Peace, Light and Bliss. I was becoming part and parcel of it.

First interviewer: Do you have to actually clear your mind of everything?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, you have to clear your mind and not allow any thought whatsoever to enter into the mind. If a thought does enter into the mind, then we cannot grow into the divine Reality.

First interviewer: But I think that's really hard for people, because particularly in everyday life, there are so many things that are acting upon you. How do you go about actually clearing the mind and not thinking about something you have to do that day or a problem you have?

Sri Chinmoy: Meditation should be a regular practice. We study regularly in order to pass our examination or achieve something. If we practise daily, it is quite possible to meditate well. But to start with, we should read a few spiritual books to inspire ourselves and go to a spiritual Master who can increase our aspiration. We should try to live a regular, self-disciplined life.

First interviewer: So one can actually go to a class to learn?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes.

Second interviewer: What are some of the exercises? What can you learn from reading a book about how to empty your mind and heart? How would the readings inspire you to be able to do this?

Sri Chinmoy: If you read a spiritual book, it will mention techniques for emptying your mind and illumining your mind. But as regards physical exercises, I feel they are not absolutely necessary. These preliminary exercises help us to a certain extent, but they are not indispensable. When we sit and make our mind calm, quiet and tranquil, we feel that we are in a position to have a free access to our inner reality. When we have a free access to our inner reality, we hear the Message of God. God is constantly speaking to us. He is trying to guide us all the time, but it is we who do not hear His Message.

Second interviewer: When we are getting ready to meditate, doesn't the environment have to be just right? Do you have to be in a quiet place alone or can you do it with a bunch of people around?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on your capacity. In the beginning it is impossible to meditate when there are people around who are making noise or who are not aspiring. But there comes a time when you become an expert in meditation. Then, no matter what is happening around you, you will not be affected at all.

Second interviewer: We are talking with the distinguished authority on Yoga and meditation, Sri Chinmoy. Sir, what about the housewife who is at home with three screaming children in the morning or most of the day? Or the business executive who is just running from here to there for appointments all day long? How can they sit down and take a few moments to meditate? How can you get them to calm down from their daily activities?

Sri Chinmoy: Housewives and business executives can easily meditate, provided they know what is most important in life and provided they are willing to do the first thing first. Early in the morning before they enter into the hustle and bustle of life, if they offer a few seconds to God, then they can easily meditate. God is for everyone. He is not the sole monopoly of one individual who is ready to aspire all the time. Just because God is omnipresent, He is in everybody. God is not denied to a housewife or a business executive; only they have to feel a conscious necessity for God.

Second interviewer: In the midst of daily life, how is a housewife going to sit down and take time out? Is there some simple thing she can do to relieve the tension?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, while she is talking to her children, while she is trying to discipline their life, if she can feel the presence of the living God inside them, then there will be a spontaneous flow of divine love from her. And at that time her children will feel that their mother has something special to offer. So when she consciously observes God or feels the presence of God, she will be in a position to deal with her children in a divine way; and that is her meditation.

First interviewer: I've read about classes that you can go to and some seem very expensive, something like $300 for a class. Do you feel there is commercialism in meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the individual teacher. I have no idea what others do. In my case, I always say that my fee is aspiration or an inner cry, plus regularity.

I have been teaching meditation for the last seven or eight years, and we have about forty-five meditation Centres all over the world. If one has an inner cry and at the same time is willing to come to the Centre regularly and devotedly, then he has paid his fees.

Second interviewer: You mentioned the presence of God a number of times, and that would lead to another question: Is this God compatible with every religion that anybody might belong to?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, every religion speaks about God. Yoga is another name for spirituality. Meditation also talks about God.

First interviewer: I remember reading in the paper one day about certain scientific studies in terms of the physical effects that meditation has on the body. What are some of these?

Sri Chinmoy: If we meditate well, then we feel peace inside ourselves. We feel that all the time there is illumining guidance within ourselves or a beckoning hand which is all the time leading us towards our destination, which is satisfaction-life.

First interviewer: So meditation can also decrease blood pressure and do other things?

Sri Chinmoy: These things can be done by the Will of God. When we meditate, we identify ourselves consciously with God's adamantine Will. So if we are in need of something, then naturally our God, who is all Love and all Compassion, will do the needful within us.

Second interviewer: Peace and love are wonderful things to have and we should all have them. But what do you do if you are trying to express a feeling of peace and love but people around you are running here and there, backstabbing and what-not in the everyday business world, let us say? How can this really help the situation?

Sri Chinmoy: In this world we feel that everything is contagious. If we can increase the number of people who are in the world of love and peace, then naturally we will be able to inspire and influence others. You are a good soul. If you work with a bad human being, then your inner good qualities will try to inspire that person. When we see a saint, immediately we feel the good qualities of the saint coming forward in ourselves and inspiring us. So if you have peace and love, then either today or tomorrow your peace and love will spread, because the very nature of peace is to spread and the very nature of love is to spread.

Second interviewer: I think, though, that a lot of people will look upon somebody who is meditating and so on as kind of weird, bizarre or mystical. How do you counter that feeling?

Sri Chinmoy: Right now let them cherish this false notion. But a day will come when we are in a position to offer or reveal our inner qualities and then they will be able to recognise their folly. So let them assess us in their own way. Let us offer to the world at large what we have to offer. A day will come when they will be able to recognise their mistake.

First interviewer: Thank you very much for coming today, Sri Chinmoy. I think people will now want to at least try meditation and see if it works for themselves.

Translations of this page: Russian
This book can be cited using cite-key agh