Flame-Waves, part 2

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Question: How can we know whether we are meditating well or not?

Sri Chinmoy: How can we know whether we are meditating well or not? We can easily know whether we are meditating well or not just by the way we feel and see and think. Right after our meditation, if we have a good feeling for the world, then we know our meditation was good. If we see the world in a loving way in spite of its imperfections, if we can love the world even while seeing its teeming imperfections, then we know that our meditation was good. And if we have a dynamic feeling right after meditation, if we feel that we came into the world to do something, to become something, this indicates that we have done a good meditation. This feeling that we have to do something does not mean that we are feeding our human ambition. No! The moment we try to feed our ambition, it will entangle us like a serpent. What we have come into the world to do is what God wants us to do. What we have come into the world to become is what God wants us to become. What God wants us to do is to grow into His very image. What God wants us to be is His dedicated instrument. During our meditation if we get the feeling that God wants us to grow into His very image, wants us to be His dedicated instrument, and if this feeling is translated into action after our meditation, then we can be sure that we were meditating well.

But the easiest way to know if we have had a good meditation is to feel whether Peace, Light, Love and Delight are coming to the fore from within. Each time Light comes forward, or Love comes forward, or Peace or Delight comes forward, the whole body will be surcharged with that divine quality. When we have this experience, we know that we have done a very good meditation. Each time they come to the fore, we are bound to feel that we are remembering a forgotten story. It is only through meditation that we can remember our forgotten story. This story was written by the seeker himself, by the seeker in us. The story was not written by somebody else. It is our own creation, but we have forgotten it, and it is meditation that brings it back. When we remember this story we are overjoyed that we have created such a beautiful story and that this is our life story.

Question: How can we learn to meditate? I believe in God, but it is very hard for me to meditate.

Sri Chinmoy: The best way to begin to learn how to meditate is to associate with people who have been meditating for some time. These people are not in a position to teach you. Far from it. But they are in a position to inspire you. If you have some friends who know how to meditate, just sit beside them while they are meditating. Unconsciously your inner being will be able to derive some meditative power from them. You are not stealing anything from them, but your inner being is taking help from them without your outer knowledge.

If you want to be under the guidance of a spiritual Master, the Master's silent gaze will teach you how to meditate. The Master does not have to explain outwardly how to meditate or give you a specific form of meditation or a mantra. He will simply meditate on you and inwardly teach you how to meditate. Your soul will enter into the Master's soul and bring the message, the knowledge of how you should meditate, from his soul.

Outwardly, I have given very few disciples a specific way of meditation. But I have a few hundred disciples and most of them know how to meditate. How do they learn? When I meditate at the Centres or at public meetings they see something and feel something in me. And what actually sees this? It is their souls. Their souls enter into my soul and learn from my soul, and then with this wisdom they teach the disciples how to meditate. All real spiritual Masters teach meditation to the disciples and admirers in silence. When a genuine spiritual Master meditates, Peace, Light and Bliss descend from Above and enter into the sincere seeker. Then automatically he learns how to meditate from within.

If you have a Master it is easier to learn how to meditate, because you get additional help from the Master's conscious concern. But if you do not want to follow a specific path, or if you do not want to be under the guidance of a spiritual Master, if you just want to learn how to meditate a little and not go on to God-realisation, then the best thing is to associate with spiritual people in whom you have faith. Unconsciously they will help you. But this process will not take you to your Goal. You will learn to walk, but you will not be able to walk fast. You will not be able to run fast, faster, fastest towards your Goal. For that you will need higher lessons, inner and deeper lessons, from some spiritual Master.

Question: I do not know what is going to happen to me in the future, and I worry a lot about my destiny. Is this right?

Sri Chinmoy: No, we should not worry. We should have implicit faith in God, in our Inner Pilot or in our spiritual Master. We have to feel that not only does God know what is best for us, but He will do what is best for us. We worry because we do not know what is going to happen to us tomorrow, or even the next minute. But if we can feel that there is Someone who thinks of us infinitely more than we think of ourselves, and if we can consciously offer our responsibility to Him, saying, "You be responsible. Eternal Father, Eternal Mother, You be responsible for what I do and say and grow into," then our past, our present and our future become His problem. As long as we try to be responsible for our own life we will be miserable. We will not be able to properly utilise even two minutes out of every twenty-four hours we have.

Let us consciously offer our very existence — what we have and what we are — to God. What we have is aspiration to grow into the very image of God, into infinite Peace, Light and Bliss. And what we are right now is just ignorance, the ignorance-sea. If we can offer our aspiration-cry and our ignorance-sea to God, then our problem is solved. We should not and we need not ever worry about destiny. On the strength of his surrender a spiritual person becomes inseparably one with God's Cosmic Will. Right now we do not surrender to God's Will, and that is why we suffer. We feel that if we do not do something for ourselves then who is going to do it? But this is not true. There is Someone who will do everything for us and that is our Inner Pilot. But what is expected from us? Only conscious surrender to His Will. He will act in and through us only when we become His conscious instruments. When we can feel that we are the instruments and He is the Doer then we will not worry about our destiny, we will not be afraid of our destiny. For we will know and feel that it is in the all-loving hands of God, who will do everything in us, through us and for us.

Question: Why should you concentrate on the heart instead of concentrating on the mind?

Sri Chinmoy: Before you concentrate on the heart or anything, just think about the mind for a few minutes instead of allowing the mind to think of something else. Separate yourself from the mind and observe the mind. Observe what it has done for you and see whether you are really satisfied with its capacity. The mind has given you many things, but are these things worth having in the spiritual life or not? In the ordinary human life, the mind is of paramount importance. Without it we would not be able to function properly. But if you enter into the spiritual life you will see that most of what the mind has given you is information and not illumination. There is a great difference between the two. You read books and talk to people and there you get much information. But where is illumination? You can read hundreds of pages or talk to hundreds of people but you will not get illumination. So when you think of what the mind has given you, think at the same time of the thing that you really need most and you will see that the mind has not fulfilled this need. Since your mind has disappointed you, why should you concentrate there?

Once you are totally dissatisfied with the limited capacity of the mind, it will be possible for you to concentrate on the heart. As long as you have tremendous faith in your mind, the mind that complicates and confuses everything, you will be doomed to disappointment in your meditation. Ordinary people think that complication is wisdom. But spiritual people know that complication is dangerous. God is very simple; Light is very simple. It is in our simplicity and sincerity, not in complexity, that the real Truth abides. Complexity cannot give us anything. Complexity itself is destruction.

You know that there is something called the soul. Now where is the soul? The light, the consciousness of the soul permeates the whole body, but there is a specific place where the soul resides most of the time, and that is in the heart. If you want illumination, if your ultimate goal is illumination, you will get that illumination from the soul, which is inside the heart. When you know what you want and where to find it, the sensible thing is to go to that place. Otherwise it will be like going to the hardware store to get groceries. If you concentrate on the mind you will be disappointed and disheartened and you will not get what you want because you have gone to the wrong place. Your inner aspiration does not come from your mind. No! It comes directly from your heart. The heart can give you everything. Aspiration is the harbinger of realisation or illumination. In aspiration is the seed of realisation. Aspiration comes from the heart because the illumination of the soul is always there. Since you want illumination, and since the heart can give it and the mind cannot, you should always concentrate on the heart.

Question: I have read in the writings of modern Western philosophers that the soul and the body are inseparable. Can you please tell us your own philosophy on this matter?

Sri Chinmoy: Body and soul are like a house and its owner. The soul is the owner and the body is the house. They are to some extent inseparable for a period of time. We may call the body a temple. Inside the temple is the shrine, the heart. On the shrine is the deity, the soul.

Now let us speak only of the soul and the body, since that is your question. We have to know what the soul can offer us and what the body can offer us. The soul can offer us realisation. The body can offer us manifestation. When we enter into our soul through meditation, we realise Peace, Light and Bliss. Then, through the physical, we offer these gifts to the world. When we look at someone or say something or do something, the physical is manifesting what the soul has experienced or realised. We have meditated here for about twenty minutes. All of us have entered into the realm of soul according to our capacity. Some have greater aspiration, so naturally they have entered deeper into their souls; others have less aspiration and they have not gone very deep. But whatever they have felt in the inner region will now be manifested by the body. About an hour ago when you came in here you did not bring Peace or Light in with you. After you came in you invoked Peace, Light and Bliss. Now this Peace, Light and Bliss have entered into you through the soul, and from the soul they have now entered into your physical consciousness. If you go and stand in front of a mirror you will see the difference between what you were an hour ago and what you are now. This obvious physical difference you will see is due to the fact that the physical consciousness is manifesting the Light that the soul has invoked.

The soul and the body are complementary. Without the soul, without the owner, the house is useless. As long as the soul is inside the body we can hope to realise something, we can hope to manifest something, because the owner is there. But when the owner leaves the body permanently, the body is of no more use. When the owner is there and the body is in perfect condition, then the message of the soul can be revealed and fulfilled. The owner of a store does not work in the street. He works inside the store itself. Similarly, the soul works inside the body, as well as with the body, through the body and for the body-consciousness. The body will manifest what the soul realises. For its manifestation the soul needs the body; for its realisation the body needs the soul. The body offers its capacity in service, and the soul offers its capacity in meditation. In this way they go together perfectly.

But you must know that this is the aspiring and illumining soul. If the soul does not try to inspire and illumine the body, the body will remain blind, ignorant, obscure and impure. And without the body's co-operation the soul will remain unmanifested, almost useless. Often we see that the soul is crying for realisation and manifestation through the body, but the body is not responding to it. More often we see that the body is physically strong, but it is not aspiring for the inner light and truth which the soul can offer it.

This is our philosophy on the relationship between the body and the soul. Body and soul are not inseparable, but complementary. The soul can exist without the body, although it cannot manifest itself. The body cannot exist for more than a few hours without the soul. For their total mutual fulfilment, body and soul need each other.

Question: What do you think about transcendental meditation which is meditating with the use of a mantra?

Sri Chinmoy: I cannot speak specifically on transcendental meditation as the Maharishi Mahesh uses the term, because I know next to nothing about his path. But about the use of a mantra I can easily tell you.

A mantra is an incantation. It can be a syllable or one word or a few words or a sentence. When you repeat a mantra many times it is called japa.

What benefit do we get from repeating a mantra? The first benefit we get is purity. Purity is of utmost importance in our spiritual life. If there is no purity, there is no certainty in the spiritual life. Today we may make progress and tomorrow we may drop back to where we started. But when we repeat a mantra which has been given by a spiritual Master, not by anybody else, we are bound to get purity. And from purity we get energy, pure energy. When we have pure energy we get something else: the feeling of universal oneness. And in our oneness with God's universe, we attain oneness with God Himself.

The moment we have the feeling of universal oneness, we will know who the Owner of the universe is. God is the Owner and Creator of the universe, and the Creator and His creation are inseparable. In the case of ordinary people, the creator or owner of a thing can pick it up or put it down; he can keep it or give it away. But in the case of God and the universe it is not like that. Look at God; you will see the universe inside Him. Look at the universe. If you see with your spiritual eye, your third eye, immediately you will see God inside the universe. Human possession comes and goes. Today you have millions of dollars; tomorrow you may be an absolute beggar. But in God's case the possession and the Possessor cannot be separated.

The best way to repeat a mantra to attain purity quickly is to ascend by steps. Today repeat the mantra 500 times; tomorrow, 600; the day after tomorrow, 700; and so on, until you reach 1,200 in one week's time. Then begin descending each day until you reach 500 again. In this way you can climb up the tree and climb down the tree. When you climb down please feel that you are trying to distribute this fruit through your heart to the aspiring people around you.

There are two ways to do japa. One is audible, the other is inaudible. If you repeat the mantra out loud, you will get physical purity. If you repeat the mantra in silence, you will get purity in your inner existence. Physical purity is necessary in the spiritual life, but if inner purity is lacking the seeker will make no progress. A person may be physically clean, physically pure, but in his mind he may be thinking of undivine, impure things. Inner purity is lacking at that time. So it is better to practise japa in silence and feel that there is somebody inside you, your inner being, who is repeating the word on your behalf. From this use of the mantra you will get inner purity; your heart will be pure, your mind will be pure. Just by repeating your mantra devotedly and soulfully you can have everything, the Highest, the Supreme.

Question: In your talk yesterday you said that if we do less thinking and planning we will be happier. Could you elaborate on this, please?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, yesterday I said think less and meditate more, and plan less and act more. This is absolutely necessary. We see that cultured men, educated men, think in one way and ordinary men, uncultured and undeveloped men, think in another way. But both the mentally developed and the mentally undeveloped constantly suffer from one thing: confusion. They go on thinking and thinking, and the moment they think they have arrived at the Truth, they discover that it is not Truth at all, but just more confusion. The difficulty is this: when we think of someone or something, we form a positive conception which we think is absolutely true. But the next moment doubt comes and changes our mind. And a few minutes later, we ask ourselves, "Who am I to judge this person?" This moment you will think that I am a nice man. The next moment you will think that I am a bad man. Then after that you will think something else. Eventually you will see that there is no end to your questions and there is no solution.

Each time we think we are lost. But each time we meditate we are illumined. Thinking is done in the mind, but the mind is not yet liberated. Only the soul is liberated. Our problem is that we want to be liberated by thinking. But the mind itself is still in the prison cell of darkness, confusion and bondage, so how can we expect liberation from the mind? No matter how highly developed a person is mentally, he is still extremely limited.

When we plan we very often are frustrated because we do not see the truth right from the beginning. We plan to do something because we feel that if we do it we will achieve a certain goal. But in between planning and executing, different ideas, different ideals enter into us and create confusion for us. Then our planning goes on and on forever and we never enter into the world of action because our plans are never complete or certain. There is a yawning gap between our mental plan and the action itself.

But if we have an inner will, the soul's will, which has come to us from meditation, then the action is no sooner conceived of than it is done. At that time there is no difference between our inner will and our outer action. But if we plan something with our ordinary will, with our human mind, it may take five years to execute that plan, or it may all come to nothing after all. When we enter into the totally dark, obscure, unlit room of action with our mental plan it is like carrying a candle. But when we enter the room with our soul's light the room is flooded with illumination.

The mind is in the prison cell of thoughts, ideas and habits, whereas the soul is a free bird. It has accepted the cage like a fort, but at any moment the bird can fly away. And although the bird stays inside the body, when we pray and meditate it constantly brings us the message of the Infinite. In the soul's world, realisation is spontaneously followed by action. But in the ordinary life thinking is the realisation, and one person's thought-power is contradicted by another person's thought-power. But will-power cannot be contradicted by will-power, because will-power comes directly from the soul. Will-power is flooded with infinite Peace, Light and Bliss, and it always brings oneness. But in thought-power there is no oneness. In the mental world my thought-power will not be the same as yours, and your thought-power will not be the same as mine. We will always be confused and at variance. But when I use my will-power, immediately you will feel your oneness with my will-power, because it has come directly from the soul, and in the soul's world we are all one.

Question: When you speak of a nation, you speak of it as if it were one person, but a nation is composed of thousands and millions of people with different levels of consciousness. Also, when you speak of a nation as an individual, it implies that there is such a thing as a karmic past. How can you reconcile the idea of karma for a nation with the fact that you have within the nation millions of people with their own individual karmic pasts, unless being born in one particular nation is part of an individual's karma?

Sri Chinmoy: Each individual can raise or lower the standard of his nation. If one person in a nation aspires, the consciousness of that particular nation is elevated. We must feel that a nation is like a body which is made up of millions of cells. If one cell achieves something great, it is the achievement of the entire body. If one cell attains a higher consciousness, the consciousness of the entire body improves. On the other hand, if one cell becomes weak, sick, diseased, then the entire body is weakened. The consciousness of a nation is a collective phenomenon. The achievement of each individual person adds to the achievement of the nation as a whole. Likewise, each nation should feel that it is a branch of the cosmic tree. The attainment of one particular branch is the attainment of the entire tree.

If we, as a nation, try to transcend our limitations or even our achievements, only then can we be perfect. As we are transcending our limitations and surpassing our achievements, we feel that consciously or unconsciously we are inspiring other nations. If they live in the vital they will be jealous of us. But if they live in the heart they will see that they, too, have the capacity to do as we are doing. A sincere nation will see and feel that another nation is rising or has risen to a high standard through its personal effort, through its aspiration to improve itself. A sincere nation will then ask itself what has prevented it from coming up to that standard, and it will see that it is just from lack of enthusiasm, lack of effort.

Some people say that opportunity is not given to some nations. I wish to say that this is not true. What is opportunity? Opportunity is the conscious acceptance of the presence of divinity within. A nation may say it has fallen or failed because it did not have equal capacity or equal opportunity. But I will say no! Opportunity came from Above; capacity came from within. However, the nation did not seize the opportunity, it did not exercise its capacity. In this world no nation can remain unsatisfied or unfulfilled if it sincerely aspires — that is, if its citizens sincerely aspire.

We have to know what God wants from each nation. God wants my hand to work, my eyes to see, my ears to hear, my nose to breathe. If a nation goes deep within, it will see what God wants it to be. If I can become what God wants me to become, then God will be more than satisfied. If God wants me to be an ant, then He will be pleased with me only if I become an ant, and not if I become an elephant. The role and goal of each individual nation has to come directly from within, from God. If I as a nation really want to do something for the world, then let me go deep within and do what God wants me to do, instead of competing with another nation which is doing something entirely different. As a nation, if I can become what God wants me to become, then I shall feel that I have fulfilled my own existence and I have fulfilled God's Divinity and God's Reality. If I want to compete, I should try to compete with my own ignorance, with my own limitations and bondage. I should try to surpass myself — my own achievements — instead of the achievements of other nations. If I have weaknesses as a nation, I should try to become strong by transforming and perfecting them. If I am sick I should try to cure myself, and not depend on another nation to cure me. Right now each nation is far from perfection. But each nation has the capacity to be absolutely perfect because the message of perfection dwells within each nation, the seed of perfection is sown inside each nation. Like any seed, it takes time to germinate.

A nation does have a karmic past, and when a person is born into a nation or lives in a nation, he participates or shares in that karmic past. He also helps to build the karmic future of that nation. So you have to know that if a nation is undeveloped, it is not because of lack of opportunity, but because of lack of aspiration or lack of development in its inhabitants. If a nation has certain good qualities or good fortune, or certain bad qualities or bad fortune, it is because of the consciousness of the people of that nation.

Question: When I first began meditating at 3:00 in the morning, I used to have very good meditations and I was very inspired. But when I continued, I didn't have the same inspiration and it became very difficult.

Sri Chinmoy: When we start something for the first time, we get inspiration. Anything that is new gives us tremendous inspiration, just because it is something new. But if we continue doing it we do not have the same enthusiasm, the same impetus, the same inspiration. We want to get something very deep, very high, very sublime, something most illumining from our early morning meditation. We are like a long distance runner. When the starter fires the gun, at the very beginning he is so inspired and he starts running very fast. But after about two or three miles, he becomes very tired. Running becomes tedious and difficult. Now if he gives up running just because he is tired and because his inspiration is gone, he does not reach the goal. But if he continues running he will finally reach the goal. Then he will definitely feel that it was worth the struggle and suffering of the body.

It is like that in the spiritual life also. When you start your journey at three o'clock in the morning, feel that tomorrow is the continuation of that journey. Do not take it as a new beginning. And the third day, feel that you have travelled another mile. Every day you feel that you have travelled another mile. The day you start your spiritual journey is actually the most important. You will have the most inspiration at that time. But if you can feel that each morning during your meditation you are travelling a little farther, you will know that you will one day reach your Goal. Even if your speed decreases, you have to continue running and not give up on the way. When you reach the Goal you will see that it was worth the struggle. So every day when you meditate, it will help you if you think that it is a continuation of your previous day's meditation. One step at a time you reach the Goal.

Question: I was wondering about the relationship between the heart and the mind. How can we integrate the two?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two ways. One way is for the heart to enter into the mind. The other way is for the mind to enter into the heart. Let us take the heart as the mother and the mind as the child. Either the child has to go to the mother, who is calm, quiet and full of love, or the mother has to go to the child, who right now is uncertain, doubtful and restless.

Now when the mother comes to the child, the child has to feel that the mother has come with good intentions: to calm the mind, free the mind, to fulfil the mind in a divine way. If the doubting and restless mind feels that the mother has come to bother him, and that his restlessness is something very good which he wants to keep, then he is lost. If the child is restless, doubtful, suspicious and if he cherishes all these undivine qualities and feels that they are his best qualities, then what can the poor mother do? The heart will have the good intention of transforming his doubt into faith, and his other undivine qualities into divine qualities. But the mind has to be prepared, has to feel that the heart has come with the very idea of changing him for the better.

The other way, when the child has gone through everything negative and destructive — fear, doubt, suspicion, jealousy, impurity — he comes to a point where he feels that it is high time for him to go to someone who can give him something better. Who is this someone? The mother, the heart. The mother is more than eager to illumine her own child. If the mind is aspiring, it will immediately feel that the heart is the mother, the real mother. And the heart will always feel that the mind is a child who needs instruction.

Both ways are effective. If the mind is ready to learn from the heart, the heart is always eager to teach it. The mother is ready to help the child, to serve the child twenty-four hours a day. It is the child who sometimes becomes irritated, disobedient or obstinate, who feels that he knows everything and has nothing to learn from anybody else. But the mind must learn from someone else. Even the mother, the heart, gets knowledge from someone else — from the soul, which is all Light. Let us call the soul the grandmother. From the grandmother the mother learns and from the mother the child learns. The soul teaches the heart, and the heart teaches the mind. If we can see the relationship between the heart and the mind as a relationship of mother to child, that is the best way to integrate the two.

Question: Yesterday when I was meditating, I got a message from the silence which said, "Love one another. If you love one another, then you will be known as my disciples." When we get this kind of message in our meditation, should we meditate on it and take it into ourselves?

Sri Chinmoy: When we get a message in our mind during meditation, we have to know whether it is in the lower mind, the physical mind — the restless, aggressive, destructive and doubtful mind — or in the calm mind, the vacant mind, the silent mind. When we receive a message in the silent mind, we should accept it and feel that it is the foundation stone on which we can build the Palace of Truth, Love, Divinity and Reality. This message actually originates in the soul or in the heart, and then enters into the mind. When the mind is absolutely still, calm and peaceful we can hear that message.

Suppose you are meditating and after a few minutes a thought or idea comes into your mind. Let us say that it is about sacrifice, that you will sacrifice something for a friend or relative or someone you know. This is not just an idea at that time; it is an ideal. When you accept an idea as your own, the idea does not remain an idea but becomes an ideal.

Whenever a divine thought enters into your mind, try to expand it. When an undivine thought comes into your mind, either reject it or, if you have enough inner strength, transform it. It is like this. Somebody has knocked at your door. If you know that you have enough strength to compel him to behave properly once he enters, then you can open the door and allow him to come in. But if you do not have the power to compel him to behave, then it would be wise to keep your door closed. Let it remain closed for a day or for a month or for a year. When you gain more strength, then accept the challenge and open the door. For if these wrong thoughts are not conquered, they will come back to bother you again and again. First you reject, then you accept and transform, then finally you totally transcend.

We have to be a divine potter with the dirty clay of our thoughts. If the potter is afraid to touch the clay, if he refuses to touch it, then the clay will remain clay and the potter will not be able to offer anything to the world. But the potter is not afraid. He touches the clay and shapes it in his own way into something beautiful and useful. It is our bounden duty to transform undivine thoughts. But when? When we are in a position to do it safely. If I am not a potter, what can I do with a lump of clay? If I touch it, I will only make myself dirty.

In the spiritual life a beginner should not allow any thought to enter his mind. He would like to allow his friends to enter, but he does not know who his friends are. And even if he does know who his friends are, when he opens the door for them he may find that his enemies are standing right in front of them, and before his friends can cross the threshold, his enemies are deep inside the room. Once the enemies enter, it is very difficult to chase them out. For that we need the strength of solid spiritual discipline.

There will come a time, as in your case, when you can build on your divine ideas. Build your life of love on this thought that came to you. Love is absolutely necessary in the spiritual life. This is the love which permits us to see that all human beings are God. If we truly love God we love all mankind as well. We cannot separate Divine Love from man and God. Man and God are like a tree. If you go to man, the foot of the tree, with your Divine Love, from there it is very easy to go up to God, the top of the tree.

Question: Do you feel that parents should give young children religious instruction, or should children be free to choose their own form of worship when they are old enough?

Sri Chinmoy: When a child is young, he does not know which food is nourishing and which food is bad, so as a mother or father it is your responsibility to give him what you feel is good for him, and you do it. This is not an imposition; it is an offering. You have discovered that something is true, that something is good or bad. Is it wrong for you to then offer your discoveries to your child? When the child is old enough to make his own discoveries, let him discover his own path. When he is thirteen or fourteen and his mind has developed, at that time he can make his own choice.

At the beginning a child is absolutely innocent and ignorant. If we do not feed the child because we do not know what he will like, then he will simply starve to death. In the spiritual life also, if we do not feed a child right from the beginning by teaching him to have faith in God and pray to God or repeat God's name, to be generous, kind and so forth, then how will he learn these things? It is the bounden duty of the parents to teach their children. When the children grow up, if they do not stay with their parents' path, if they feel that they know everything better, then that is their business. But the parents should at least give them some foundation upon which to build good lives.

When a child is born, the parents do not say, "We do not know whether he will like our home or not, so the best thing is to leave him in the street, and when he grows up he can decide whether he would like to live with us or with somebody else." The idea of doing such a thing would strike them as ridiculous. But if parents do not give their child any religious instruction when he is young, they are doing essentially the very same thing to their child's inner life. So parents are making a terrible mistake when they say that children should be left alone to discover their own path when they grow up. If children are not offered any path when they are young, when they grow up they will have no path at all.

People say that America is the land of freedom and that when children grow up they will do what they feel is best. Right from the beginning they give their children endless freedom to do anything they want, and when the children grow up to be ignorant and undisciplined, the parents say, "Oh, I never expected my children to be like that." But this is a mistake. When children are being brought up, the parents cannot simply lead their own lives and ignore their children. They must give boundless love, affection and concern to their children. If they give love to their children and one day the children do not respond, the next day they must be ready to give more. Parents have to know the meaning of patience. They have to give unreservedly today and, even if they do not get any response, tomorrow they have to do it again. Parents' business is to give, give, give, and not to expect. When the time comes, children will be grateful.

Question: What is the best way to get peace of mind?

Sri Chinmoy: We do not have peace of mind because we feel that we are the most important people on earth. We feel that if we do not do this, if we do not say that, then the world will collapse or everything will go wrong immediately. We can get peace of mind if we can consciously feel that we are not important, we are not indispensable. The moment we can sincerely feel that we are not indispensable, we will not have to go anywhere to get peace, for peace will immediately come to us. If we feel that it is our duty to serve the world, that is good. But if we feel that it is our duty to illumine the world, and that if we do not illumine the world the world will remain full of darkness, that is wrong. I am not indispensable. You are not indispensable. Only God is indispensable.

Another easy way to have peace of mind is to feel that nothing is unduly important. If we have lost something, we must feel that that thing is unimportant in our life, that our life will not be ruined just because we have lost it. Everything on earth can desert us as long as we do not desert God and God does not desert us. God will never desert us because He is all Compassion, and even if we try our hardest, we will not be able to desert God because He is omnipresent. So we need not worry about anything on earth. We need not become upset or agitated about anything on earth.

We have to know and feel that, except for God and our inner cry for Truth, nothing on earth is indispensable. If we have the inner cry, then we get God. And once we consciously get God as our very own, we have everything. Ordinary people do not pray, do not meditate. God is only a vague idea to them. They know that God exists, but where is He, who is He, what is He doing? They cannot answer these questions. Only spiritual people know that God is inside the heart, that He is all Love, and that He is playing His divine Game in and through us. For spiritual people, God is a Reality, a constant Reality.

Question: When you are meditating on us and I am looking at you, I think perhaps I should try to be as humble, pure and receptive as possible. Is that right or should I just forget about all this and keep my mind open?

Sri Chinmoy: This is a most significant question. It depends on the individual. If the individual is a student of mine, or a disciple of mine — that is to say, someone who has consciously given the responsibility for his spiritual life to me — if he becomes humble to me, if he becomes polite and very devoted, then he will get the utmost from me. If he is arrogant, stubborn and haughty, however, naturally he will not be able to receive anything from me.

Right now you are coming to the New York Centre, so you can consider yourself a student of mine. In your case, when you offer your humility, please feel that this humility is not touching my human personality. Feel that this humility is entering into the Supreme in me who deserves everything from you. I am not anybody's Guru. Your Guru, your Master, is God. Your real Master is inside me. My Master, my real Master, is inside you. Just because I have the inner light and inner wisdom, when you enter into me, I try to bring your aspiring soul to the fore. When there is a devoted feeling to me, devoted love, divine love, then when you become one with me, you get what I have. I lived a life of spiritual discipline for twenty years in an ashram, and the inner peace, the inner light, the inner wisdom that I have gained, I offer to you.

In the beginning, when you are a student, it is better always to enter into the teacher's heart consciously and with humility. This humility is not humiliation. When somebody is humiliated, he is crushed; but humility is a feeling of total oneness. You feel that you are absolutely one with me because God is the Lord of everything, the Cause of All. When you show humility, it is your own divine quality which enables you to become totally one with me. I am not superior and you are not inferior. But with your humility you can establish your oneness with me with the utmost sweetness. Try with your humility, softness, sweetness, divine love, to enter into me and feel your existence inside me. Once you enter into me, then it is my problem, my duty, my responsibility, to give you what you need by the Grace of the Supreme.

But some individuals come here just to get inner peace or inner joy. They are not my students; they have not given me the responsibility for their lives, and I have not taken the responsibility. In their case, what they should do when they look at me is forget about everything and make their mind absolutely calm, quiet and vacant — like an empty vessel — and not allow anything to enter into it during meditation. If they keep in their mind-vessel fears, worries, doubts and so forth, the vessel will be full. Then what can I do? The vessel has to be emptied so that I can fill it with divine Peace, divine Love, divine Joy, divine Harmony.

When the vessel is empty, the divine thought can enter into the individual aspirant and grow. As ordinary thoughts, undivine thoughts, grow in us, so also divine thoughts grow in us. When the undivine thoughts grow in us, ultimately they destroy us. Doubt enters into us, then anxieties, worries, despondencies and destructive qualities. But the same vessel can hold divine Truth, divine Peace and divine Light instead. When the vessel is full to the brim with divine thoughts, ultimately it will open the door to divine Peace, divine Light. If the vessel is not filled with divine thoughts, all the visitors that come will be undivine. They will act like thieves, robbers and murderers. But when the vessel is filled with divine thoughts, one receives all the divine gifts which God has to offer.

This is to be done by those who are not my students, who just come here once a week and who want to have a little peace and nothing else. But those who want to realise God in this life, who want to have infinite Peace, infinite Light and infinite Bliss, who really want to realise the highest on earth, have to follow a spiritual path. I have a path; so do other spiritual Masters. Each Master has a path of his own, and ultimately, each path leads to the same goal. All roads lead to Rome but one has to follow one road. Those meditating here who are not my students eventually will feel the necessity for a spiritual Master. Here I am giving them inspiration. Then, when they are inspired, when they want to go to the end of the road, to the ultimate Goal, they will try to get a teacher of their own. At that time, the teacher, the spiritual Master, will tell them what they should and should not do.

Question: It is said that if one can sit on the floor with his legs crossed for an hour or so without any thought or any feeling, just completely quiet and peaceful, some kind of inner energy or inner force would arise from underneath the navel, and that force would circulate within the body. I never have had that kind of experience. When I practise concentration sometimes one foot will become warm, sometimes both feet will become warm, but I never have that experience of the navel energy awakening from inside. Some people call it Kundalini.

Sri Chinmoy: People say many things, books tell us many things, but the individual experience is of paramount importance. I am not saying that the books are telling you lies or that the people who have had this experience of energy are mistaken. No, they are right in their own assertion, in their own experiences. And what you are experiencing is also right for you. But unfortunately you are making one mistake. If you feel that just by sitting cross-legged for fifteen minutes or half an hour you are going to develop inner energy or get higher experiences, then you are mistaken. There are many people in the Indian villages who can sit for hours cross-legged. But ask them if they have had any spiritual experiences and, if they are sincere enough, they will say no. There are many who have been practising asanas, physical postures, for many years without ever having had even one solitary experience. Why? It is not just the actual posture. It is not the pose or how you sit. It is the aspiration. If you have the capacity, you can even lie down and meditate. You can run and meditate. Meditation has to come from deep within like the cry of a child hungry for food. When the child is hungry, he cries desperately, and the mother comes running, whether she is in the kitchen or in the living room, to feed the child, because she feels that the cry comes from the child's heart. If you feel the inner cry for God or if you feel that you need to develop this divine energy within you, then you are bound to develop it. This energy is bound to climb up.

But you are making a mistake when you concentrate on your navel centre. At this point in your spiritual development the navel centre is not a safe centre. It is the centre of dynamism, strength, power and so forth. You should meditate on your heart centre to get peace and love and joy. When you have peace, love and joy, you will feel that peace itself is power, love itself is power, joy itself is dynamic power. If you open the navel centre, where there is dynamism, and if you misuse this dynamism, it becomes brutal aggression. The navel centre is also the emotional centre. With this emotion you can expand yourself and become the Infinite. But again, when you start receiving the emotion of the navel centre, you may become a victim to pleasure, earthly pleasure and human weakness. So God is not allowing you to open this centre. He is protecting you.

God does not want you to misuse your dynamic qualities which you have inside and around your navel centre. What He wants from you is the inner cry for Him, and this inner cry is not here [navel] or here [throat] or here [third eye] or here [crown of head]. It is only here [heart]. The one place to cry for God is here. If you really cry for God, no matter where you are or in which position you are, you are bound to feel God's Presence. And when you feel God's Presence, you can feel that the divine energy, the Kundalini, is already awakened and is rising towards the highest. From one centre to another, it is going up, up, up. If you can feel God's living Presence inside you, this energy that you are speaking of will be yours in boundless measure in a very short span of time. Please cry for God's living Presence. You cannot live without God; I cannot live without God. Everybody has to live with God, but to feel His living Presence is something else. Those who have realised God feel God's living Presence twenty-four hours a day. If you cry for that living Presence, your whole being, your inner existence and outer existence, will be flooded with divine dynamism and boundless energy.

So please do not worry about sitting in the strict lotus posture, padmasana. Just sit straight but relaxed. When you meditate, do not stiffen your body. Sometimes people do padmasana, this cross-legged lotus posture, but they bend forward or make their whole body very stiff. And when the body is stiff, naturally the divine qualities, the fulfilling qualities, which are flowing and streaming, will not be received. So when you sit cross-legged, if your body is rigid, then please immediately forget about your posture. Only try to sit straight but relaxed. In your case, unfortunately, I can clearly see that your position is correct, but the thing that is actually needed in the lotus posture is missing. When you are sitting cross-legged and are breathing in, the whole body should consciously feel a stream of divine love flowing in and through it. Without love there is no God, and there is no human existence either. You love yourself, you love God, you love your dearest and nearest ones and you love humanity as a whole. So first please try to bring to the fore God's love aspect, and once you have established within yourself the love aspect, then you will see all other aspects are bound to come. Love is the pioneer of all divine qualities. So when you cry for God, feel love — immediate, spontaneous, unreserved, soulful love. All the divine qualities of God are bound to follow this divine love.

Question: Sir, do you feel it is necessary to assume a particular posture when you meditate, to sit in the lotus position, for example?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the individual. If you can breathe in properly, you can have a proper meditation even while you are lying down. The main thing is to keep the spine erect and straight, and to keep the body relaxed. There are many people who meditate very well while they are seated in a chair. And there are many who sit in the lotus posture only to show off, while their mind is roaming elsewhere. You have to know how much control you have over the mind. If you have control over your mind, you can meditate while running, while talking to people; but if you do not have control over your mind, then it is better to sit in a particular corner of the room and keep your body, especially your back, erect. Usually when a beginner enters into a spiritual path, he becomes a victim to laziness. Meditation is something new to him and he may not get a satisfactory result all at once, or he may not have the necessary patience. So it is necessary for him to discipline himself as quickly as possible. But for one who has already tasted some inner food — inner Light, Peace or Bliss — it is not necessary to go through this rigorous discipline because meditation has become spontaneous. While he is walking, while he is doing office work, his mind is on God, he is meditating on God. While he is talking to a person, only his mouth is functioning but his mind is somewhere else! In your case you are the best judge. When you start to meditate, what happens? If your mind roams, then you have to be very careful. If your mind does not roam, if you know that you can hold the reins, then it is not at all obligatory to sit in the lotus posture while you meditate.

Question: In a recent talk you spoke about Light. Now, I am not afraid of seeing Light. My question is, how can I see Light, that is, divine Light? Of course, I know about concentration and meditation but aside from concentration and meditation what concrete or practical things can I do to see the divine Light? Also, during concentration and meditation, what kind of practical things can I do to see the Light?

Sri Chinmoy: You are using the word "practical". Here I wish to say that concentration is practical; meditation is practical. We have to know that God, who is all Light, is natural. Only what is natural can be practical plus practicable. So from now on please feel that concentration is something natural in your life. Meditation is also something natural in your life. Feel that when you do not meditate, you are doing something unnatural, abnormal, unusual, because inside you is God and the effulgence of divine Light.

You are trying either to enter into the vastness of this Light or you are trying to bring to the fore the Light that you already have. This Light that you are referring to comes when the aspirant is ready. You want to see the Light. You say you are not afraid of Light. Wonderful! But there are many people who are afraid of Light. You have relatives, friends, neighbours, who say, "Yes, we want Light." But the moment Light comes to them, they feel that they are going to be exposed. People feel that if they can hide themselves in a dark room, from inside they will be able to see the whole world, appreciate or criticise or do anything. They think that they will be in a position to see the world and pass judgement, but that nobody will be able to see them. This is their hope. So their darkness, they feel, is a kind of safety, security. When Light comes and is ready to enter into them, they feel that all their weaknesses and limitations, all their negative ideas and negative thoughts, will be exposed. But the very function of Light is to illumine, not to expose; to transform our negative and destructive thoughts into positive and affirmative thoughts.

You want to know how you can receive Light or how you can bring Light to the fore. For that you need preparation, and what is that preparation? The preparation is your pure concentration, your pure meditation. When you start your meditation or concentration, try to feel that you have come from Light and you are inside Light. This is not your imagination; this is not your mental hallucination. Far from it! When you start meditating, just feel what you are. It is a real, solid, concrete truth that you embody Light and that you are Light itself. You will see that there is a spontaneous flow of Light from within. First you will feel it inside your heart. Then you will feel it in your forehead, in the third eye; and finally you will feel it all over.

There is another way of seeing Light. While breathing, when you draw in the breath, please feel that you are breathing in something that is purifying all that has to be purified inside you and, at the same time, energising all that is unfed. In the beginning, there are quite a few things inside you that have to be purified. There are quite a few things which are hungry. So when you feel that you are feeding, energising and at the same time purifying, then you will see that Light becomes absolutely natural.

There is another way of seeing Light. Since you have accepted our path, please look at my forehead in my transcendental picture. Then you will be able to see your Light inside me, or my Light. You will see Light and that Light you will feel inside you also, because there is only one Light, and that is God. He is operating inside me, inside you, inside everyone. But in my case I can consciously see it and make others feel it. So if you concentrate on my transcendental picture and soulfully repeat the word "Light" fifty, sixty, one hundred times, then I assure you that you are bound to see Light — either blue or white or gold or red or green — because from my transcendental consciousness I am ready to offer Light to anybody who sincerely wants it. This is the secret that I am telling you.

On Thursday at the New York Centre, when you sit in front of me, you can concentrate on my forehead when I am in deep meditation. Take your time and say the word "Light" silently, and while you are saying it, try to feel that you have formed a bridge between yourself and me. Then you will feel continually that you are entering into me and that I am entering into you. You don't have to meditate for four hours or ten hours. No! In a matter of a few minutes, if you have a soulful feeling of oneness with me, you are bound to see Light. This I will be able to do for you, and for other sincere seekers who are my students and disciples. But for others I will not be able to do this, because they have not accepted me as their own.

It is not at all a difficult thing for a sincere seeker to see Light. But those who want to see Light out of curiosity may be denied by God, because they only want to see, and not to grow into, Light. However, if God wants me to show them Light, in spite of their unwillingness, in spite of their disbelief in God, I can show them. But that is God's way of acting. I cannot interfere in God's operation. It is God who knows what is best for us. In your case, today you will see the Light and tomorrow you will aspire to grow into it. This is what a seeker does: today he sees the Goal, tomorrow he reaches the Goal, and the day after tomorrow he grows into the Goal. So you try; I shall help you.

Question: Could you please tell us the difference between concentration, meditation and contemplation?

Sri Chinmoy: When we concentrate we do not allow any thought to enter into our mind, whether it is divine or undivine, earthly or Heavenly, good or bad. The mind, the entire mind, has to be focused on a particular object or subject. If you are concentrating on the petal of a flower, try to feel that only you and the petal exist, that nothing else exists in the entire world but you and the petal. You will look neither forward nor backward, upward nor inward. You will just try to pierce the object that you are focusing on with your one-pointed concentration. But this concentration is not an aggressive way of looking into a thing or entering into an object. Far from it! This concentration comes directly from the heart, or more precisely, from the soul. We call it the soul's indomitable will, or will-power.

Very often I hear aspirants say that they cannot concentrate for more than five minutes. After five minutes they get a headache or feel that their head is on fire. Why? It is because the power of their concentration is coming from the intellectual mind or, you can say, the disciplined mind. The mind knows that it must not wander; that much knowledge the mind has. But if the mind is to be utilised properly, in an illumined way, then the light of the soul has to come into it. When the light of the soul has entered the mind, it is extremely easy to concentrate on something for two or three hours or as long as you want. During this time there can be no thoughts or doubts or fears. No negative forces can enter into your mind if it is surcharged with the soul's light.

So when you concentrate, try to feel that the power of concentration comes from here, the heart centre, and then goes up to the third eye. The heart centre is where the soul is located. The physical heart is tiny, but the spiritual heart — your true home — is vaster than the universe. When you think of your soul at this time, please do not form any specific idea of it or try to think what it looks like. Just think of it as God's representative, as boundless Light and Delight, which is in your heart. The Light comes from your heart and passes through your third eye, and then you enter into the object of your concentration and have your identification with it. The final stage of concentration is to discover the hidden ultimate truth in the object of concentration.

What concentration can do in our day-to-day life is unimaginable. Concentration is the surest way to reach our goal, whether the goal be God-realisation or merely the fulfilment of human desires. It is concentration that acts like an arrow and enters into the target. He who is wanting in the power of concentration is no better than a monkey. A real aspirant sooner or later acquires the power of concentration either through the Grace of God, through constant practice or through his aspiration. Each seeker can declare that he has a divine hero, a divine warrior, within himself. And what is that divine warrior? It is his concentration.

When we concentrate, we have to concentrate on one particular thing. If I am concentrating on a certain disciple, then he will be the only thing in my mind, nothing else. He becomes, at that time, the sole object of my attention. But when we meditate, we feel that we have the capacity deep within us to see many, deal with many, welcome many — all at the same time. When we meditate, we have to try to expand our consciousness to encompass the vast sea or the vast, blue sky. We have to expand ourselves like a bird spreading its wings. We have to expand our finite consciousness and enter into the Universal Consciousness where there is no fear, no jealousy, no doubt, but all Joy, Peace and divine Power.

When we meditate, what we actually do is enter into a vacant, calm, still, silent mind. We go deep within and approach our true existence, which is our soul. When we live in the soul, we feel that we are actually meditating spontaneously. On the surface of the sea are multitudes of waves, but the sea is not affected below. In the deepest depths, at the bottom of the sea, it is all tranquillity. So when you start meditating, try to feel your own inner existence first. That is to say, the bottom of the sea: calm and quiet. Feel that your whole being is surcharged with peace and tranquillity.

Then let the waves come from the outside world. Fear, doubt, worry — the earthly turmoils — will all be washed away, because inside is solid peace. You cannot be afraid of anything when you are in your highest meditation. Your mind is all peace, all silence, all oneness. If thoughts or ideas want to come in, you control them with your inner peace, for they will not be able to affect you. Like fish in the sea, they jump and swim but leave no mark on the water. Like birds flying in the sky, they leave no trace behind them. So when you meditate, feel that you are the sea, and all the animals in the sea do not affect you. Feel that you are the sky, and all the birds flying past do not affect you. Feel that your mind is the sky and your heart is the infinite ocean. That is meditation.

When we are in meditation, we want only to commune with God. Now I am speaking in English and you are able to understand me because you know English well. Similarly, when you know how to meditate well, you will be able to commune with God, for meditation is the language we use to speak to God.

Through concentration we become one-pointed and through meditation we expand our consciousness into the Vast. But in contemplation we grow into the Vast itself. We have seen the Truth. We have felt the Truth. But the most important thing is to grow into the Truth and become totally one with the Truth. If we are concentrating on God, we may feel God right in front of us or beside us. When we are meditating, we are bound to feel Infinity, Eternity, Immortality within us. But when we are contemplating, we will see that we ourselves are God, that we ourselves are Infinity, Eternity, Immortality. Contemplation means our conscious oneness with the Infinite, Eternal, Absolute. In contemplation we discover ourselves. When we contemplate, Creator and creation become one. We become one with the Creator and see the whole universe at our feet, the whole universe inside us. At that time, when we look at our own existence, we don't see a human being. We see something like a dynamo of Light, Peace and Bliss.

One should concentrate for a few minutes each day before entering into meditation. You are like a runner who has to clear the track — see if there are any obstacles and then remove them. Then when you begin meditating, feel that you are running very fast, with all obstacles out of your way. You are like an express train, an inner train, that only stops at the final destination. Then, when you reach the Goal, you have to become the Goal. This is the last stage, contemplation. Seekers who are just entering onto the spiritual path should start with concentration, for a few months at least, and then enter into meditation. Then they must meditate for a few years and finally enter into contemplation.

Appendix: these quotes, from other writings of Sri Chinmoy, were included in the first editions.

"Cry within, dive within!
The pendulum of your life will in no time swing from the night of fruitless dream to the Light of fruitful Reality."

"The right path is simplicity plus purity.
The right teacher is sincerity plus spontaneity.
The right God is Compassion plus Liberation."

"The tree of life can never be separated from the tree of love.
The tree of love can never be separated from the tree of realisation.
The tree of realisation can never be separated from the tree of transcendental Perfection."

"His mind
Is the secret home of sound.
His heart
Is the sacred home of silence.
His soul
Is the blue-vast home of God.
His God
Is the home of universal Love."

"Truth is not behind me, but before me.
Realisation is within, and not without.
Death is behind me, and not before me.
Transformation stands before me, and not behind me."

"Where is the secret place of safety?
In the mind-pond? No!
Where is the secret place of safety?
In the heart-lake? No!
Where is the secret place of safety?
In the soul-river? No!
Where is the secret place of safety?
In the self-sea? No!
Where is the secret place of safety?
In the life of Love divine? Yes!"

Editor's preface to the first edition

The United Nations Meditation Group is a group of United Nations staff members, delegates and representatives from non-governmental organisations accredited to the United Nations who believe that there is a spiritual way to work for world peace as well as a political way. Twice a week the Group meets at the U.N. for non-sectarian meditations and spiritual discussions on brotherhood and world union.

The United Nations Meditation Group functions under the inner guidance of its Spiritual Director, Sri Chinmoy, who conducts the Group's meetings and also delivers the continuing Dag Hammarskjold monthly lecture series at the U.N. It is Sri Chinmoy who best sums up the credo to which the Group adheres:

"//WE BELIEVE...//
... and we hold that each man has the potentiality of reaching the Ultimate Truth. We also believe that man cannot and will not remain imperfect forever. Each man is an instrument of God. When the hour strikes, each individual soul listens to the inner dictates of God. When man listens to God, his imperfections are turned into perfections, his ignorance into knowledge, his searching mind into revealing light and his uncertain reality into all-fulfilling Divinity."

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