Experiences of the higher worlds
Part I: Meditation: the ABC's
Question: Guru, you mention meditation. What does it mean to meditate?Sri Chinmoy: Meditation means many things to many people. Each individual has a way of learning the secret of the art of meditation. In our case, when we meditate we empty our minds and then fill our minds with something divine. That is to say, we throw out all undivine, evil and fruitless thoughts and fill the mind with divine, illumining and fulfilling thoughts.
Question: Why do we meditate?Sri Chinmoy: Meditation is absolutely necessary for those who want to have a better and more fulfilling life. If you feel that you are satisfied with what you have and what you are, then you need not enter into the field of meditation. But if you feel that there is a barren desert deep inside your heart, then I wish to say that meditation is the answer. Meditation will give you inner joy and peace of mind. Meditation will never take you away from your parents, from your children, from your family. Far from it. Only it will strengthen your connection with your dear ones, because inside them you will see the very existence of God.
If you wish to develop your talents or increase your capacity in any field, then I wish to say that it is obligatory to follow some inner discipline. If you are a singer but you wish to sing infinitely better, if you aspire, I tell you, your voice will become far better. There is nothing on earth that cannot be improved through spirituality and meditation.
If you want to simplify your life, meditation is the answer. If you want to fulfil your life, meditation is the answer. If you want to have joy and offer joy to the world at large, then meditation is the only answer.
If you meditate to forget your suffering or to forget your difficulties, then you are not meditating for the right reason. But if you are meditating only to please God and fulfil God in His own Way, then your meditation is correct. When God is pleased, and God is fulfilled in your meditation, then it is God’s business to take away your sufferings and difficulties. But if you meditate to escape from the world or to challenge the world and stand against the world, then you are doing the wrong thing.
Meditation is your conscious capacity that you have to utilise every day and every second to enter into your highest divinity, where the finite is completely lost in the Infinite. The finite existence which you have and which you are, can easily be lost in the Infinite and become totally one with the Infinite if you meditate. This is what meditation is and what meditation can do for you.
Question: How can one still one's mind in meditation?Sri Chinmoy: Try to breathe in as slowly and as quietly as possible, so that if you place a tiny thread right in front of your nose it will not even move. Then you will see that your meditation is going to be deep and your mind will be very calm and quiet.
Then, imagine something very vast, and calm and quiet. When you start meditating, feel that inside you is a vast ocean and that you have dived deep within. There at the bottom it is all tranquility, tranquility’s flood.
The most important thing is practice. Today your mind acts like a monkey. This restless mind is knocking all the time at your heart’s door and disturbing the poise of the heart. In this world everybody has pride, vanity and self-esteem. So if you keep your heart’s door closed each time the mind comes, if you do not pay any attention to the mind, then after some time the mind will find it beneath its dignity to bother you. I have seen where my disciples did not open their heart’s door when the mind started knocking. They did not give a response from the heart, and the heart remained unperturbed. The heart opened its door wide only to the soul’s Light, and listened only to the dictates of the soul.
Thought is from the mental world. But you also have the heart, the identification-world. When you remain in the heart, that means that you are identifying yourself with the soul. The soul is beyond ideas, beyond thought. Instead of concentrating on the mind proper, if you can focus all your concentration on the heart, then the reality that looms large inside the heart automatically gives you an access to the soul. If you concentrate and meditate on the reality that is inside the heart, this reality comes forward.
If you concentrate in the mind, naturally thought will come and bother you. But if you concentrate on the heart, then the problem is solved. So always try to meditate on the heart and try to bring the soul to the fore. The soul, which is a direct representative of God, is the eternal reality in us.
Question: How do people meditate on your path?Sri Chinmoy: Ours is the path of the heart. I tell my disciples that they have to empty their hearts totally so that Peace, Light and Bliss can descend from above and fill their inner vessel. If someone wants to follow the path of the heart, then all his emotional difficulties, worries, anxieties and undivine qualities will leave him and Peace, Light and Bliss from above will replace them.
So, when you meditate, you try to open the heart and the entire being. Sometimes you open the heart and keep the door open, and when the guest is about to enter, at that time you close the door. The amount of Peace, Light and Bliss that the inner vessel receives is measured. The vessel has its own consciousness. You may leave the vessel empty, but also it has to aspire to receive. Only then can you really have a good meditation.
Our progress will be faster if we meditate on the heart. When we meditate on the mind or inside the mind, we feel that already we know so much about the spiritual life. But when we go deep within, we come to learn that we know next to nothing about the spiritual life. Only we have gathered earthly information in our minds — information and nothing else. But when we meditate on the heart, we feel that we are like children who really want to learn everything fresh from the mother or from the father. The child feels that he does not know anything, but he wants to learn everything in a proper way.
So my advice for the seekers who would like to follow our path is to concentrate and meditate on the heart. And even those who will not fit in with our path can try to meditate on the heart. It is not only our path which emphasises the importance of meditating on the heart. There are other paths and other spiritual Masters who also advocate the same idea.
Question: Would you please be a little more specific when you say 'meditate on the heart'? Do you mean to meditate on the physical heart or on the spiritual centre?Sri Chinmoy: If you find it difficult to meditate on the spiritual heart, you can concentrate on the physical heart in the chest. But after you meditate there for a few months or for a year then you will feel that inside the ordinary human heart is the divine heart. And inside the divine heart is the soul.
Inside the divine heart is light, but inside the human heart, we can see the operation of the emotional vital. The emotional vital is located around the navel. But from there it can come into the physical heart and ruin everything by creating attachment. If one can meditate on the spiritual heart, there can be no attachment. It is all detachment. So we start with the human heart, and from the human heart we have to enter into the divine heart. Otherwise, if we remain with the human heart, we will quite often become a victim to attachment and emotional problems.
Question: Is there any specific technique that you teach?Sri Chinmoy: I do not use the term ‘technique’. In my case it is not like that. Each individual seeker I deal with according to his own aspiration and according to his own receptivity. I enter into the soul of the individual seeker and if I feel that he is extremely sincere and if it is God’s Will, then inwardly I give him a specific meditation. Each seeker needs a specific meditation, but it is not a technique. It is only a way of teaching him how he can enter into his deepest inner being. If a seeker consciously enters into my boat, then it is the business of the boatman to carry him across the sea of ignorance to the Golden Shore of the Beyond. But there is no hard and fast technique that I use.
Question: How often should we meditate?Sri Chinmoy: You can meditate early in the morning and, if it is possible, in the evening before you go to bed. During the day, if you are free, and if you really get inspiration, then also you can meditate. But it is better to meditate well once a day in the morning, and to leave it for the rest of the day, than to sit five or six times a day with your eyes closed and just have pleasant thoughts drifting through your head.
Some people meditate three times, four times, six times a day. But I wish to say the number is of no consequence. If you feel really inspired, meditate twenty times. But if you don’t feel any inspiration, then you are wasting your precious time and just deceiving yourself. Each time you meditate you have to offer your heart’s breath and your soul’s light that you are bringing to the fore. Only then is it worth meditating. Otherwise, you are just insulting your soul’s possibilities. Please feel the necessity of meditating, even if it is for only one minute once a day. If it is done wholeheartedly, even if it is for a fleeting minute, then it is worthwhile.
If inspiration is there, then meditate. That means that you have got the sanction from the Supreme. If it is the call of the Supreme, then you shall run fast, very fast, because He is the leader inside you.
Many people say that they meditate four times or six times a day. But what do they meditate on? They meditate on their bosses or they meditate on their boyfriends or their girlfriends. This is no meditation at all. If you can meditate most soulfully, if you feel that your aspiration is carrying you, only then is it really worthwhile meditation. But a day will come when your inner being will compel you to meditate twenty-four hours a day.
Question: Is a Master mandatory for proper meditation?Sri Chinmoy: No one is forcing you to have a Master, but it certainly is advisable. You know that there is a goal, and you want to reach the goal. If you are wise, you accept help from someone who can show you the easiest, safest, and most effective path to that goal. If you want to take hundreds and thousands of years to realise God, a spiritual Master is not necessary. But if you want to reach the Goal the fastest way, then certainly he is a necessity.
If you want to become a doctor, you go to school and study with doctors. If you do not study with a doctor, you will not operate on someone, because there you are dealing with human life. The Guru is like a spiritual doctor. He will operate on your fear, doubt and jealousy. First you doubt the existence of the Vast, the Unknown. Then you are afraid of the Vast because you feel that it is not a part of you and that it will engulf you. And then you are jealous of the Vast, because you feel that it is all illumination, fulfilment and perfection, whereas your life is all obscurity, frustration and imperfection. So before you can operate on others, first you have to study with a spiritual doctor, the spiritual Master. He will cure you and then teach you how to cure others.
Question: How do you teach us to meditate?Sri Chinmoy: Instruction for meditation has to be given individually. Suppose I have ten students. They are seeking together, true. Perhaps they have come to me on the same day. Now, in the ordinary human life, we see that if ten persons come to school on the same day and they want to be in the same class, the teacher gives the same lesson to all ten. After the school hours are over, the students go home and they study the same lesson. Although one may be infinitely more meritorious than the others, they are all treated in the same way.
In the spiritual life also, all of you are not of the same standard. Some are beginners, some are more advanced. In school, a teacher may have ten children who are not of the same standard, but unfortunately he has to teach them the same lesson. Now you may say that I am doing the same thing. When I am here, I give lessons, I give talks, I answer questions. This is the way I teach you.
But in the morning or during the day when I meditate on each individual whom I consider to be my disciple, at that time the consciousness that I give to you I do not give to somebody else. I will enter into you according to your capacity and you will receive from me according to your receptivity. I motivate and I inspire each individual disciple of mine according to his acceptance of me, according to his capacity to receive the light and according to his capacity to manifest the light. I do this only if someone is my disciple; otherwise, a seeker’s own Master will do it for him. Outwardly I have given meditations to only a few; but inwardly I have given meditations to many, many disciples. How do I give meditations? I enter into each soul and I tell the soul what it should do in its outer life. The soul may take one day, ten days, fifteen days or three months to convince the physical mind how to meditate and why to meditate.
If I had very few disciples, today I could give you a specific meditation, tomorrow I could give one to somebody else. In that way I could teach. But if there are many, how can I give each of them a meditation outwardly? It is impossible. So I have to enter into each person’s consciousness and soul individually and see what that particular person needs most, or how he wants to manifest the Divinity within himself.
We are all seekers. Your soul may want you to realise the Truth and manifest the Truth through Power. By power I mean divine Power, not the human power that wants to destroy, wound and kill. Again, somebody else sitting beside you may want to manifest God through love, devotion and surrender. So I can give a meditation only by knowing first what the soul wants. A spiritual Master knows what the individual soul needs and wants. Then he says inwardly to the individual, “You follow this rule.” He may not be able to tell him outwardly, but inwardly he says, “This is the way you have to realise and manifest the Truth.”
So the Master has to enter into the disciples’ consciousness or soul and teach them individual meditation. When they are sitting in front of him they meditate together, but inwardly each disciple has a totally different meditation. Everybody’s meditation is not of the same standard and everybody is not doing the same kind of meditation. We can meditate together for an hour or two a week, but daily meditation is also of paramount importance, because daily you are feeding your soul in a specific way. Naturally your soul is getting nourishment in a specific way.
Part II: Prayer, mantra and invocation
Question: Sometimes when I am walking down the street I feel like chanting to myself. Is this a form of withdrawal?Sri Chinmoy: While you are walking along the street, if you silently meditate or chant, you are not actually withdrawing. Only you are protecting yourself. The unaspiring world often is like a jungle, full of snakes and other wild animals. We are not criticising the outer world; only we know that aspiring people have to be well-protected. Every second, every minute, you have to be well-protected. Otherwise, immediately you will enter into the roaring jaws of the lion or the tiger that is right in front of you. So if you are chanting for protection, then you are doing the right thing. You are increasing your inner strength, your inner capacity. When you are strong enough inwardly, you will no longer have to chant. You can just move around and you will not be disturbed.
Your business is now to think of the Supreme within you. He is thinking of you twenty-four hours a day. So you can think of Him for a couple of minutes during the day. You are trying to establish your oneness with the Supreme, who is your eternal Teacher. Right now you don’t have to have outer contact with people when you are walking in the street. This does not mean that you should not say, “Hello, how are you?” and “Goodbye.” But this is all the outer contact that you should have. Then, while you are chanting, if you inwardly offer your good will to the people who are around you, at that time you are doing the best form of service. Inner service is a great service. While you are in the street and you are chanting inwardly, if you offer a good thought to those who are around you, you are doing the best form of communication with them. Then, when you become strong inwardly, at that time you can go and spread your light outwardly.
Question: Are rituals and invocations really important for meditation? Sometimes we feel that because you are not physically with us that we have to invoke your presence.Sri Chinmoy: No, no! This idea is wrong. It is not that I am not with you. On the contrary, you have to feel that I am with you, but while you are invoking me, at that time you are actually manifesting me. My consciousness is always with you, with all my disciples. You may think that you are praying to me and invoking me. No. At that time you are manifesting me. You are within me and I am within you; that is absolutely true. Whether or not the child calls the mother, the mother knows if the child needs something.
It is not that I am far away in the sky, or that I am in New York and you are in Puerto Rico, so you have to invoke me. Oneness has already been established. But when you invoke me, you are making an effort to manifest me. When you invoke the Supreme, at that time you are thinking that you need the Supreme to work in and through you. You invoke the Supreme and, while you are invoking Him, His Will is being manifested through you to the outer world.
Question: How can one pick a mantra?Sri Chinmoy: Only if one is spiritually advanced, he can choose a mantra. Otherwise he is committing a Himalayan blunder. Only a spiritual Master can offer a mantra to a disciple or to a seeker on the strength of his oneness with everybody’s soul. Now, if you happen to be my disciple and it is the Will of the Supreme that I give you a mantra, then I can immediately enter into your soul, become one with your soul and get the mantra from your soul. The soul knows which mantra is most applicable to the seeker’s spiritual life, and this mantra will be of great help to the seeker in realising, revealing and fulfilling God. So, if you do not have a Master, then please pray and meditate for a couple of years and then, I assure you, from deep within your soul will offer you a mantra. Otherwise, there are thousands of mantras written in Indian scriptures, and you may select one that fascinates your mind or outer being. But that particular mantra may not be your mantra at all. So it is always advisable to follow a specific path and get the mantra from the spiritual Master.
Question: How can we avoid having expectation during our prayer or meditation?Sri Chinmoy: Naturally there are people who do not do anything for God and therefore do not expect anything from God. But again, there are people who feel that if they do something for God, He is bound to do something for them. So when we pray, we feel that God will listen to our prayer. If we meditate, we feel that we will get Peace, Light and Bliss, which is absolutely true and legitimate. But when we pray, when we meditate, we should feel that it is our business to pray and meditate and it is God’s business whether to give us Peace or not. When we achieve that kind of surrender, we shall play our part by praying and meditating. This is our task and God’s task is to feed us with His Light, Peace and Bliss. He knows the right moment for this, so during our meditation we should not expect anything. If Peace, Light and Bliss enter into us, well and good; but we shall meditate just because we feel that this is the only way we can become inseparably one with God.
Part III — Meditation and the guru
Question: Why do you sometimes ask that I look at you when I meditate?Sri Chinmoy: You are looking at your hands, but your hands won’t give you realisation. I am the Master. Your life is written on my heart and on my forehead — not on your fingertips.
Question: What can I do if sometimes I don't feel like meditating on your picture?Sri Chinmoy: There are so many ways to meditate. If you look at my Transcendental picture and meditate, that is one form of meditation. If you do dedicated service, that is another form of meditation. And if you read my writings soulfully, that is also a form of meditation. Today if you are angry with me for some reason and you don’t feel like meditating on your heart or looking at my picture, just read my writings soulfully. If you read my writings, you enter immediately into my consciousness, and to enter into my consciousness is the highest form of meditation.
Perhaps you are displeased with me in your mind, but it is not affecting your physical. At that time, if your physical wants to work, it should work devotedly. Suppose you are working at the restaurant, at Dipti Nivas. Your mind may be angry with me, but if the physical has to clean the dishes at that time, then your boss will catch you if you do not do your job. When you work, your physical meditation is taking place. Mental meditation is not taking place because you are displeased with me for something. Your boss will not be able to catch you there because she cannot read your mind. But on the physical plane, when you don’t clean the restaurant, you are caught. So you see, when you work for the mission, at that time you are doing meditation in the physical.
Sometimes the heart is full of love and the mind is full of doubt. Now what will you do? The heart is meditating most soulfully but the mind is not meditating because the mind is full of doubt. You have so many parts of your being: body, vital, mind and heart. If you can’t meditate in all parts, then if you can meditate in at least one part, say in the physical by doing dedicated service, then it is a form of meditation. Similarly, if the vital does some dedicated service, through inspiration or enthusiasm, then that is a form of meditation. And if all the parts of your being — physical, vital, mental and psychic — work together devotedly, then that is the best form of meditation.
Question: Does our restlessness affect the peace that you have in meditation?Sri Chinmoy: When the Master meditates, there may be twenty seekers that are restless, but the Master is not affected. He maintains his inner peace and he offers his peace to those meditating with him. Then when you go home, you also will feel peaceful. The strength of my peace enters into those seekers who are sincere. Even now as I am talking, peace, light and bliss are emanating from me.
You people represent the world. The world is something very huge, but you create the world and I create the world. Let us say that this little room is a miniature world. From here you will get something from me, and then you will offer it to somebody else. So you see how peace can spread from one person to two persons and so on.
Question: Guru, when I start aspiring to meditate, I feel your compassion coming down and I feel your smile. Should I stop and surrender or should I try to keep on aspiring during the meditation and go higher?Sri Chinmoy: When you see that I am smiling during your meditation, at that time the joy that you get will lift you. The joy that you get from seeing my smiling face will be more powerful than if you just continued going on aspiring. My smiling face will be able to give you the tremendous push that you need to go to the Highest. After seeing me, if you want to separate your aspiration from my smiling face, then you will try again with your personal effort to go up. Once you have seen me, that means you have come into contact with my smile, that is, my higher Reality. Once you get into my higher Reality, at that time let my heart push you up. A child is trying to climb up a tree while the father is just waiting, observing him. But if the child has got the father to help him up, naturally the father will be able to take him up to the highest bough of the tree. So, at that time, only allow the smile to enter into you and assimilate it. Let the power of the smile, which is oneness, carry you to the Highest. Do not make any more personal effort.
Question: If we set a specific time for our morning meditation, do you feel disappointed if we sometimes oversleep?Sri Chinmoy: When I meditate on you, I do not depend on your getting up. My meditation is unconditional. When I meditate on you, I don’t hope that you will get up early in the morning at your scheduled time. But if you do meditate on time, then you become conscious of what I am doing. My difficulty is that my disciples are not conscious of what I do. They don’t realise that I love them infinitely more than they love themselves.
All problems will be over when each individual consciously feels that God loves him infinitely more than he loves himself. Humanity should know and believe that the Creator loves His creation more than He loves Himself. You may say, “How can it be possible?” But you have to know what value the creation has. When you think of the mother and child, in so many instances you will see that when the child is very sick and near death, the mother sincerely prays to God, “Take me, take me. Let my son stay here. He is young and he has to do so much work.” Her creation is her son, and she wants her son to stay on earth.
So here you see that the Creator loves His creation more than Himself. My spiritual disciples are my creations. Physically your parents brought you into the world. But when I gave you the message of the soul, the day I kindled the flame of aspiration within you and accepted you as my disciple, on that day you became my child. He whose inner flame I have kindled is my child, my spiritual child. When I kindle the flame of aspiration within someone, I give birth to a spiritual soul; I create life and aspiration, which is going to be transformed into realisation in the future. So naturally I will have boundless concern for my disciples, because I know what God’s Vision is for them and I know how God’s Capacity will flow through them. But what I created need not know this until the last moment, because the Vision of God is with the Master, not with the disciple. God’s Vision is also with the disciple, but he cannot always see it. But the Master’s third eye is open and he knows how far God wants to take an individual in this incarnation.
So if you are not up meditating at your specific time, I will be sad, but only in a human way. In a divine way I will not be sad, because I know that sadness does not serve any purpose. You have made friendship with ignorance. So I will try at that time to have more conscious power to awaken you and illumine you. In everything human there is always success and failure. But in the divine way, where is success and where is failure? They are nothing. In the human life, every second is either success or failure, and what we call success this moment may seem to us like failure the next moment.
This moment I am painting and in a human way I am successful. My human mind will say, “I am painting and I am enjoying it here with so many people listening to me and admiring me. I am such a lucky fellow.” Then again, the same stupid mind will say, “Look at this. My friend, another God-realised soul, is now in silence. He is meditating and enjoying the delight of Brahman and I am here with a bunch of ignorant human beings.” This moment my mind has told me how lucky I am that you people are adoring me, and the next moment my mind can tell me that all this is worthless because someone else is enjoying his transcendental trance.
But if I use my divine consciousness, I will say that what I am doing is right because God is asking me to be with my spiritual children and give them some illumination. Again, what my friend is doing is also right because God right now is asking him to do his highest meditation. So I am fulfilling God’s Will in my own way and he is fulfilling God’s Will in his own Way. If I am in the mind, this moment I will flatter myself and the next moment I will criticise myself. But if I go beyond the mind, then I will see that it is all the time God who is acting in and through me.
Question: How can we find our Inner Pilot and listen to it?Sri Chinmoy: In order to find the Inner Pilot, you have to go deep within. Meditation is bound to carry you to the Inner Pilot. Meditation is a process that shows you how to go deep within. Meditation is a road that leads you to the ultimate destination. Meditation also is an inner assurance of your connection with the Absolute. When a seeker meditates, he hears the messages from above, from his Beloved Father, or he hears messages from his own inner being. And when he tries to listen to the dictates of his inner being or the messages from above, he transforms his outer life of imperfection into a life of perfect perfection.
In school you have a teacher who is teaching you and offering his wisdom-light to you through language. In the spiritual life also, the teacher teaches through language. But the language of the spiritual teacher is meditation. Meditation is the inner language, and the teacher teaches meditation through silence. It would not be easy for your professor to teach through silence, and for the student also it would not be easy to learn through silence. But a spiritual teacher will meditate for five minutes in silence and during his meditation he will offer peace, light and bliss. He can instruct you to meditate either by giving you specific instructions or through his silent gaze. But most of the time the spiritual teacher teaches through silence, because that way is most effective.
In school you are studying philosophy and you are using the searching mind. But in meditation, the mind is not used at all. That does not mean we have become an imbecile; far from it. Only you go far beyond the domain of the mind and in the realm of the soul you grow.
Question: A couple of times a year you give marks for your disciples' meditation. Why do you do this?Sri Chinmoy: Last Sunday I called out the names of those who meditated well and disclosed your marks. Marks were given not out of sense of competition, but only to give you more joy and inspiration, so that everyone will try to meditate well. So it was far from any kind of competition spiritually. If you want to say your left hand did a better job or your right hand did a better job, then I have to say one did do better. But again, right hand and left hand are one. I feel that everybody meditated well today and I am very happy and very proud. But again I wish to say that there should be no comparison, no competition. We have to feel oneness if we have not meditated well and if the one sitting beside us has done well. We are all one family and, on the strength of our oneness, we have to feel this. Even if we have not meditated well, then we should be proud, because we are one with those who did do well. If we have tried our best but at the same time someone else has done better, we should be happy. Our senses will tell us that he is a different person, but the soul will say that we are one.
Part IV: Experiences of the higher worlds
Question: Sometimes I'll get a real high sound in my ear, even though I am not meditating. I'll just be sitting and all of a sudden I'll get this sound. Could you explain it to me?Sri Chinmoy: You are not meditating consciously, but your soul is meditating. This is called spontaneous meditation. Your soul is meditating, although your physical mind does not know that the soul is meditating. This sound you hear is like unconditional Grace from above. When you pray, when you do something good, at that time you feel that in return you will get something. But God gives many things unconditionally. He is like a mother. A mother does many things for her children unconditionally. You may say that the mother feels that one day the children will grow up and then help her. No. The mother knows very well that when the children are twelve or thirteen, they will leave the family. Very often the physical mother, does things unconditionally for her children. God, being our eternal Father and Mother, does everything unconditionally for us.
Question: Sometimes when I meditate, I notice a vibration or a stress. What is it?Sri Chinmoy: It is not always the same. Sometimes you are pulling beyond your capacity. Sometimes, when you are doing meditation well, your soul is coming to the fore and you get a kind of twinge.
Question: How can I recognise a spiritual experience as such?Sri Chinmoy: In your case it is easy. Millions of times you have had the feeling of true eagerness to help humanity, and with God’s Grace you have helped humanity according to your capacity. Then you have gotten joy. But do not take this joy as the result of your action. When you have inner joy, please do not feel that it is the result of a fulfilled desire or a successful action.
Do not feel that you are happy because the result is satisfactory. No, immediately separate yourself from your action. Then you will see that the joy you are having is from a feeling of oneness — oneness with the universal Consciousness or cosmic Consciousness or your own consciousness.
Spirituality is always natural. Anything that is unnatural can never be spiritual. Right now, you are not seeing truth as your birthright. Truth is something unnatural; somebody else possesses the truth, but you do not possess it. But when you are in the spiritual life, you see that spirituality is everybody’s property.
In your case, spiritual experiences you have had many, many times. Whenever I concentrate on you, I do see that you want to be illumined and guided by the Supreme. This very idea that you want to be illumined, guided or moulded by somebody who knows how to guide and mould you, is not a desire. It is more than an aspiration even. What it is, is an outer expression of your soul’s inner experience. It is your soul that is having this inner experience. An unaspiring person says, “I have to save myself. I have to do everything. Nobody will do anything for me.” But in your case, I have seen many times that you have the desire to be helped and guided by the Supreme in me. This is the highest, or you can say, the most effective experience of your soul, expressed in the form of desire or in the form of aspiration. So constantly you are getting experiences when you feel that you are a child in the Lap of the Supreme. That very feeling, you will see if you go deep within, is an experience which is embodied by your soul, and only you are trying to manifest it in the form of aspiration.
Question: When I meditate I often feel a split in my consciousness. Part of my consciousness is in a deep meditation while another part of my consciousness is observing and carrying a running commentary on what is being experienced. I would like to know how this can be overcome.Sri Chinmoy: There should be no split in your consciousness. When you are properly meditating, at that time your consciousness will become a single entity. If you feel that you are enjoying a running commentary, then you have to know that either your mind or your vital or your physical is not totally one with your meditation. Your heart is meditating most devotedly, but the mind may not be there. In our path we give more importance to the heart than to the mind. But that does not mean that you can neglect or ignore the mind. The child whom we call “heart” is our dearest. But the mind also is our child, so we cannot throw away the mind. The mind has to become one with the heart so that the soul can carry both of them together. When you are meditating, sometimes your mind does not want to sit beside the heart or become one with it. That is why you feel the running commentary; it comes from the mind. Very rarely does it come from the vital.
There are three stages of meditation. The first stage is where your particular experience takes place. In spite of having a very good, high, deep, sublime meditation, you feel that your whole existence is not there. You can separate your existence part by part. If your whole inner existence were there, then you could not separate it; the body, vital, mind, heart and soul would go together. Although in your psychic consciousness you are having a very high meditation, it will not be totally fruitful because all the members of your inner family are not participating.
In the second, or higher stage of meditation, you will see that you have become totally one with your consciousness. Now we are just using the term “consciousness,” but in that stage you will actually be able to see and feel what consciousness is. At every moment you will be able to see the divine streak of light, the all-pervading light inside you which has united you with the Highest. In this stage of meditation, you have become the connecting link between earth and Heaven.
Then there is the third state, the highest state of meditation. In that state, you will be able to feel or see yourself as both the meditator and the meditation itself. Here the seer and the seen come together. This happens only in the highest transcendental Consciousness, when you go beyond nature’s dance. All the disciples will one day have that realisation because all will have to rise above the dance of nature. The dance of nature means here temptation, frustration, anxiety, fear, failure, success and all that.
In one of our Upanishads it mentions that there are three kinds of meditation: gross meditation, subtle meditation, and transcendental meditation. So, your particular experience will be only gross meditation. The second stage that I mentioned will be subtle meditation. The third one is transcendental meditation, where you become totally one with your meditation and, at the same time, you remain beyond your meditation. All the time you feel that you are beyond, beyond. But again, it does not mean that in gross meditation you cannot enter into your deepest meditation. No, you can. But only one part — your heart — will enjoy the deepest meditation; the physical, the vital, the mind will not enjoy the deepest meditation. That is why it is called gross.
Question: When I have a good meditation, why is the photo of you in your transcendental consciousness always smiling?Sri Chinmoy: The face is smiling because you are meditating well, according to your own standard. Or it may be smiling for another reason: to ask you not to be disturbed by the ignorance and the dark forces that you still have. It is smiling to encourage you and strengthen you so that you can conquer them. These are the two reasons. One is that according to your standard you are pleased and the smiling face is pleased with you; the other is that it is asking you not to be frightened by the wrong forces that are still inside you.
Question: I had an experience in which I felt the purity of God and the feeling of Eternity and Power.Sri Chinmoy: This was an act of sheer Grace. The Supreme, the Divine, the Absolute, out of His infinite Bounty, unconditionally offered His Grace to you. That is why this experience was possible. These things are not hallucinations. Spiritual Masters have these experiences and you also can have them. But you also have to know that for that you have to practise Yoga. You have to pray and meditate.
The Supreme in the Master can show you what He has. He will say, “This is all for you. But right now you are a child. First you have to grow up.” The father can bring the child right in front of the safe and show him all his wealth. Then he says, “Look, I have millions of dollars. It is all for you, but you have to work for it. You have to grow up properly. You have to please me. Then this wealth is yours.”
The first time you got this experience, it was because of Grace. But then impurity came. Any spiritual wealth that you may have, no matter what kind it is, will all be destroyed if impurity comes. Many people have good experiences one day, and then the next day they indulge in lower vital life, and all their higher experiences are destroyed. But if they do not enjoy vital life and emotional life, then the higher experiences grow. They grow up and become very solid, like a banyan tree. So when you have experiences, it is always necessary to be extremely careful not to indulge in the vital life, so that you can have still high, higher and highest experiences. You can have them, you can embody them, you can reveal them and you can manifest them.
Question: What is the significance of seeing glowing white light or a point of white light in meditation?Sri Chinmoy: You are seeing a white glow. White signifies purity, the consciousness of the Divine Mother. If it is a glowing white light, then it is coming from the opening of a certain spiritual centre inside you. Purity is operating in and through you, therefore a spiritual opening is taking place. But it can also be a false experience, because in some cases when one’s vision is getting worse, one sees white light. Again, some people see white or blue or green light when their eyesight is getting worse. Sometimes when human eyes are getting worse, if you keep the eyes closed, you may see a vision or light, but it is actually a false experience. Many people have had that experience, so you have to know if your experience is real. Please see which is applicable to you. If it is a real experience, then it is most encouraging.
Question: Sometimes when I have been meditating, my head starts to breathe on its own.Sri Chinmoy: There is nothing wrong with this. It is quite possible that it is doing this. When this happens, the head has become a conscious part of the universal Existence and the head responds to the universal Existence.
There is an occult way of developing oneness with the universal Consciousness. That is what you considered as breathing. An occultist will touch his right knee, for example, and he will make himself feel that the knee is his only reality that is part and parcel of the universal Consciousness. He has no name, no existence other than his knee. Then the occultist will feel that his knee is breathing and it alone has life, nothing else. Or the seeker can touch one finger saying only this finger exists. His whole existence is the finger — he doesn’t have hair, he doesn’t have legs, he doesn’t have shoulders. This finger alone is responding to the universal breathing. So when you feel that your head is breathing, that means that your head has become consciously part of the universal Consciousness. It is a very good experience.
Question: In my meditation, several times I have had the experience that I was free; I felt the freedom of my existence. But then I had to go back to my regular life, and I felt very tired and very drained.Sri Chinmoy: When you get a higher experience, it is something that will nourish you, feed you, strengthen you and illumine your life. But if you are exhausted, your energy is drained, that means that you have pulled beyond your capacity. Otherwise, right after meditation, if it is proper meditation, you gain the strength of a lion. Sometimes it happens that you feel that you have gone high, very high, and then you have distributed everything that you have received. But that has not happened in your case.
Question: I also feel very sad when I come down.Sri Chinmoy: The sadness that you are feeling is quite natural, because you were in a higher world and then you had to come down to this practical world, to the earthly level. At that time, worries and problems of the world entered into you. But if you meditate for a few years, these worries will not stand in your way, because by that time they will be overcome. Then, when you come down from your meditation, you will have tremendous peace, poise, joy and love for humanity. When you have tremendous love for humanity, at that time you will not feel exhausted. Right now you have boundless love for your child. But there is no end to our love. After you have meditated for a few years, you will have much more love for your child because you will feel the presence of God inside him. Right now you do not feel the presence of God inside your child all the time. If he is naughty or if he breaks something, then you don’t think that the God inside him is operating. At that time you are exasperated. You simply say, “No, no, this is not God; this is the devil incarnate.” But there will come a time when you will see God inside your son all the time, no matter what he does or what he says. That will be your own progress. It is only a matter of time. Then, when you come down from your meditation, you will not feel drained. On the contrary, if you meditate well, there will be no pulling and no pushing. Right after your meditation, when you enter into the ordinary life, you will be able to maintain the same joy, delight, peace and poise.
Part V: Questions and answers on meditation
Question: Is it important to meditate only at our shrine at home, or can we try to meditate wherever we are?Sri Chinmoy: In the spiritual life there is a gradual progress. From a little child we become twelve or thirteen years old; then, when we are eighteen or nineteen or twenty-five, we reach our capacity in physical strength. Similarly, when we first launch into the spiritual life, we have to be very careful. We have to meditate in front of our shrine in our room. In addition, we should have a fixed hour for our meditation and we should always be punctual. A tree starts out as a seed then it becomes a tiny plant, then a tree. When it becomes a huge tree, it is not so easy to destroy. But when it is a tiny plant, it can easily be destroyed, so we put a fence around it to protect it.
When we are just beginning to follow a spiritual path, we should meditate at home, alone, in front of a shrine. If we have a Master, we should keep the Master’s picture on the shrine, and also candles and flowers to purify our consciousness. Also we should burn incense for purity. And if we have a Master, we will come and meditate with the other disciples of our Master. Then only will we gain strength.
But after we have meditated very sincerely for several years, we will develop some inner strength. At that time, while we are walking along the street or riding in the subway, our inner being will be strong, unimaginably strong so that we will not be affected at all. If we are advanced, while we are driving the car we will be able to meditate. Nothing will distract us. While we are in the subway, there will be thousands of people around us, but we will not be affected.
So we have to know what our standard is. If we are beginners, absolute beginners, then everything will stand in our way. If there is a noise, immediately it will distract our attention. But when we are strong, nothing can bother us. So before we are strong, it is better to meditate at home before a shrine with flowers, so that we can get purity and devoted feelings and aspiration. Then we will strengthen our inner nerves and our inner muscles.
Question: Can you ever tell if you are going to have a good meditation before you start meditating?Sri Chinmoy: In your class at school, I am sure that you are a brilliant student. Again, there are some students in your class who do not do well at all. Similarly, in the Centre, the disciples who are meditating in front of me are all sitting in the same class. Some are good, some are very good and some are excellent. Again, some are bad, some are worse, and some are absolutely the worst. How have the good students become good students? It is because they have been meditating for a long time. You are a good student at your college because you study at home. Some of your friends do not study at all; that is why they do not do well at school. In the spiritual life also, you have to know that some students meditate almost every day. They meditate without fail, morning, noon, and evening. When they meditate with all their heart and soul, God is pleased with them and gives them some divine capacity so that they can meditate well every day.
Good students are bound to know whether they are going to have a good meditation or not. But bad students who do not meditate naturally will not know. Somebody who has meditated many years is like an expert runner. He will know that he is going to win the race, because he knows that he has the capacity. How did he become the best runner? He practised hard. Some of you are praying and meditating most sincerely, while others are not. The sincere disciples will get from God additional capacity, and with that capacity they can know that they are going to meditate well.
Question: Is it bad for someone to fall asleep after meditation if he is meditating at three or four in the morning?Sri Chinmoy: No, it is not bad at all. If you have to sleep after meditation, you can go to sleep, but if you can continue meditating until five and not go to sleep, that is infinitely better. But something is better than nothing. If you can meditate for an hour, then you can assimilate the results of your meditation afterwards. But if you go immediately to sleep after meditating, and if you get up at nine or ten o’clock, then there may be more difficulty. Between six and seven in the morning, your consciousness becomes agitated by your own vital forces or the aggression of the earth. So the agitation from the earth’s consciousness or from your own lower vital can come into the results of your meditation, which you had earlier.
So you have to be very careful. Suppose you have meditated from two to three. Then you can sleep again from three to five. Then again you should wake up. Otherwise, the agitated consciousness of earth can create a disturbance.
Question: Is it possible to reach your goal just by contemplating your own thoughts?Sri Chinmoy: We have to know what kind of thoughts you are talking about. You cannot confuse divine thoughts and progressive thoughts with destructive thoughts. If you have some divine thoughts, then you can build your spiritual palace on these thoughts. Again, thought can only take you so far. But when it is will-power, you have to know that this will-power has tremendous strength. Will-power comes directly from the soul; it is the soul’s light.
Question: Is there any way to determine what our level of mind is?Sri Chinmoy: Yes, if you go deep within, you can easily know. There are various levels of the mind, starting with the physical mind. We have the intuitive mind, the overmind, the supermind and so forth. So you have to know from which plane you are operating. An ordinary human being does not know, but a spiritual man knows from which plane he is operating. Whenever he does something, he knows whether he is doing it from his physical mind, intuitive mind, higher mind or overmind. So in your case, if you want to act from the intuitive mind, let us say, then by your aspiration you should be able to stay there all the time.
Question: I saw a picture of you with your hands folded like this. What does that mean?Sri Chinmoy: When I keep my hands raised and folded, it means that I am invoking peace, light and bliss for my disciples and for the seekers. And also I do something else. With my inner cry I try to lift up my disciples, that is, to raise their consciousness. On the one hand, I look up and bring down the infinite Grace and Compassion of the Supreme. On the other hand, with my fervent prayer, my inner prayer, I try to raise the consciousness of the disciples. I do two things at a time. I bring down and I lift up. I bring down peace, light and bliss and I lift the disciples up so that they can climb up with me.
Inside me is the consciousness of all the disciples. The consciousness of the disciples within me is like a mounting cry rising to the Highest. So when I invoke the Supreme with folded hands, the aspiring consciousness which I have with the disciples goes up and the realised consciousness which I have with the Supreme comes down and they meet together.
When I meditate, when I invoke the Supreme with my hands folded, my sincere disciples are all inside me, so I raise them to the Highest with my own inner power, with my intense inner capacity, as far as they can go, according to their receptivity. And at the same time, I have the capacity to enter into the Highest, whom I call the Supreme. So from Him I bring down all divine qualities. I act like a beggar at that time. With folded hands I pray to the Supreme: “Please give my Your wealth for Your spiritual children.” Again, I ask the disciples here: “Please come up, let us see the Father, our eternal Father.” I am in between. My disciples are all younger brothers and sisters, so I carry them to our Father, to our Source, the Absolute Supreme.
Question: Does the fact that we are meditating mean that during the day our consciousness will be higher than it used to be when we were not meditating?Sri Chinmoy: In some cases, the consciousness has generally gone higher. Even when they are not meditating, they are doing something else spiritual, and their consciousness remains high because they have established something permanent in the spiritual life. In other cases, only during the time of meditation, at the height of their meditation, has the consciousness gone higher. In the first category, the consciousness is raised during meditation and also during their normal activities. I am very grateful to them. They go up in their morning meditation and start the race. Then they continue running during the day. They work all day, and even at night, instead of watching television or listening to the radio, they work for the mission. They are constantly sacrificing and doing selfless service.
Question: What is the difference between meditating in the normal way and offering gratitude?Sri Chinmoy: Meditation and gratitude are two different things. Meditation is like turning on a machine. You have gone to a printing press and turned it on, but you have not put in paper or anything. The machine is running and running, but nothing is coming out. The machine can run forever, but if the Supreme does not put anything into the machine, then you do not get any result. Again, if God has placed paper inside the machine and the machine is printing, then because of the result you offer your gratitude. If you do not get anything then you will not offer any gratitude. So in meditation you turn the machine on, but in gratitude you feel that God has done something within you.
Question: I would like to know the best and the most effective way to raise one's consciousness and to maintain that level.Sri Chinmoy: The best way to raise your consciousness is through inner cry. Then, in order to maintain your consciousness there on the highest level, you have to establish considerable purity in the vital. First, with your inner cry, your aspiration, you go up; then, through purity in the vital you will be able to stay there for good.
Question: How are we supposed to meditate?Sri Chinmoy: Meditation depends on the individual standard. If you are a beginner in the field of meditation, you will meditate in one way and if you are advanced, naturally you will meditate in a different way. It depends on the individual standard, on the progress you have made.
For a beginner it is better to start with concentration. Otherwise, the moment you start meditating, millions of uncomely thoughts will enter into your mind. You will not be able to meditate for one second, whereas if you concentrate, you challenge the wrong thoughts entering into you.
Concentration gives us the capacity of intensity, and meditation gives us the capacity of vastness and sublimity. If you feel that you are to some extent advanced, then without concentration you can enter into meditation. Try to make your mind calm, quiet and vacant. Allow no thought into your mind, and then feel you are an express train which is constantly running and running, not stopping at any station. In meditation, try to feel you are a train running very fast towards your destination, and your goal is constantly transcending its own limit. Each time the train reaches the so-called goal, feel that it is only the starting point for your further goal. This is meditation. But for the beginner, instead of meditation, it is advisable to start with concentration.