Meditation: man's choice and God's Voice, part 2

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Author's preface

Spirituality has a secret key to open the Door of the Divine. This key is meditation. Meditation simplifies our outer life and energises our inner life. Meditation gives us a natural and spontaneous life, a life that becomes so natural and spontaneous that we cannot breathe without being conscious of our own divinity.

Meditation is a divine gift. It is the direct approach that leads the aspirant to the One from whom he has descended. Meditation tells the aspirant that his human life is a secret and sacred thing, and it affirms his divine heritage. Meditation gives him a new eye to see God, a new ear to hear the Voice of God and a new heart to feel the Presence of God.

God alone knows

Talk to others.
You will learn.
Talk to yourself.
You will learn more.
Stop talking,
Remain silent.
God will talk and God will learn
For you.
You will learn everything
That God alone knows.

Question: I used to feel and see a golden light around my heart, but now I no longer do. How can I regain this wonderful presence?

Sri Chinmoy: Let me start with the words "golden light." Each light has its significance. Golden light actually comes from a level of consciousness which we term the supermind. The supermind is infinitely higher than the physical mind. Above the physical mind is the abode of intuition, the overmind, and above the overmind is the supermind. The golden light descends from the supermind.

This golden light has a special significance. Golden light is divine manifestation. When this light of divine manifestation comes down and touches the earth-consciousness, it becomes red. Sometimes the light recedes if it feels that it is unable to stay in the heart due to lack of purity. When the heart is not pure it is impossible for the light to stay indefinitely. When the heart is pure, this light first functions most properly and satisfactorily in the heart region, and then it moves into the vital and the physical.

If you do not see this light, do not be depressed. It is functioning on another level of consciousness. When a beginner sees light, he feels that he is making extraordinary progress. To some extent, it is true. If God gives you light, naturally you will try to dive deep into the sea of spirituality. But if God feels that light is not required and that what you need is peace, then He will act through you in a different way. In you, because of your abundant purity, the light still abides. Now it is working inside your vital and sometimes it comes into the physical. To regain the visible presence of light is not necessary. If you want to follow the spiritual path, it is not the light that you want — it is God's constant Concern for you, God's real Love and God's Blessing. When you have God's Concern it can take the form of Light or Peace or Power.

The most important thing is to please God in God's own Way. You can ask, on the strength of your surrender, "God, make me anything You want so I can be Your instrument." You are trying to regain the wonderful presence of this light. But you will not get utmost satisfaction from seeing this light because you are not fulfilling God in His own Way. If you want the Grace of God, I can pray to God on your behalf and I assure you, you will get back the golden light. But it will not please you because you know that the highest aim is to please God in His own Way. When God gives us an experience, we should be most grateful to Him. And when He does not give us one, we have to be equally grateful, because He knows what is best for us. It is your business to meditate faithfully, wholeheartedly and soulfully, and God's business is to give you Light or Blessings or Peace or Power. God will give you what He has and what He is if you give Him what you have and what you are. What you have is ignorance and what you are is aspiration. So my request to you is to please God in His own Way and not to care for the thing that you once had and which now you are missing.

Question: Yesterday when I was meditating, I got a message from the silence which said, "Love one another." 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 there comes to your mind a thought which is divine, progressive, encouraging, inspiring. Please try to feel that these kinds of thoughts are like tender roots — roots of infinite Light and Bliss — and try to let your body, mind, heart and soul grow with these roots. Let us say that during your meditation you get a thought 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.

So 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: When I meditate and I force myself to go deep within, something inside me accuses me of trying to reach God for myself and not for God's sake.

Sri Chinmoy: Well, you have to know that that thing inside you is absolutely right. Your soul, your purest soul, will always tell you that if you want to realise God, it has to be to please God and not to please yourself. Of course it is better to want to realise God for your own reasons than not to want to realise God at all. Millions and billions of people are sleeping and snoring spiritually. At least those who want God for themselves are not sleeping. But you have to know that they want to realise God because they feel that God will then give them something to make them happier.

But the real aspirant says, "I don't want happiness, I don't want anything. I only want what God gives me. I love Him wholeheartedly; I want to please Him in His own Way. If He wants to give me all kinds of problems, if that is His Will, then let Him give me millions of problems. But if He wants me to be without problems, so that I can think of Him and meditate on Him all the time, then I shall be equally happy." A real seeker will try to please God in God's own Way.

Question: How can we discipline the mind?

Sri Chinmoy: Try to feel that you have no mind at all, but only the soul. If you cannot feel the presence of your soul, you can easily feel the presence of your heart. Let your heart's Light flow through your entire being. When this happens, you can rest assured that you have transcended the intellectual, reasoning mind and entered into the illumined mind.

When Light grows in the heart or comes out of the soul and permeates the entire body, then the mind is automatically disciplined. If you want to discipline the mind by wishful thinking or by force, it is impossible. It is just like trying to straighten the tail of a dog for good. If you can live in the soul or even in the heart, then the Light of the inner existence either transforms the physical mind into a higher region or brings down the all-fulfilling Peace from Above into the gross physical mind. When Peace descends into the mind or the mind ascends into the higher domain of Light, the mind as you know it automatically disappears.

Question: When one meditates, is he conscious of what is going on around him?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on what kind of meditation it is. If one is a beginner, when he sees something, immediately he will be disturbed. If a beginner is meditating and right in front of him there is a cat moving around, his attention will be diverted. Anything, even the slightest noise, will affect his meditation.

But if one is advanced, very advanced, he will be aware of things happening, but he will not be disturbed. If it is the highest type of meditation, then one goes deep within and there one sees everything that is happening, but he is not disturbed by anything external. Within and without, one is aware of what is happening, but at the same time one is not affected at all.

If it is the highest type of meditation, one will not be disturbed even if someone pinches him, because at that time he is not in the body, but in the soul. When the consciousness is in the physical, if somebody is pinched, immediately he feels pain. But if his consciousness is in the soul, if he has become one with the soul, he will not be affected.

Question: Sometimes during my meditation I feel I am attacked by very undivine thoughts. How can I fight against them?

Sri Chinmoy: During your meditation, do not fight against evil thoughts. If you constantly fight against evil thoughts, to your wide surprise you will only strengthen them. But if you open yourself to divine thoughts, evil thoughts will find no use for you. They will be terribly jealous of your divine thoughts and will in no time leave you.

During your meditation, try to cultivate divine Love. Try to love humanity soulfully. You may say: "How can I love others when I do not know how to love myself?" I will tell you how you can love yourself. You can love yourself most successfully just by loving God unreservedly. You may ask: "How can I love God when I do not know what love is?" My immediate answer is: "Love is the transforming power in our human nature. Love transforms our life of stark bondage into the life of mightiest freedom. Love cries for life. Love fights for life. Finally, Love grows into the Life Eternal."

Question: Should you reject all thoughts during meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know whether it is a good thought or a bad thought, a divine thought or an undivine thought. If it is a thought of God or a thought of Divine Joy, Divine Love, Beauty, Purity, then allow that thought to enter into you and let it play, let it expand. Or if it is a thought about Grace, Divinity, Infinity, Eternity or Immortality, please try to see where the thought goes; try to follow that thought like a faithful dog.

Say you are standing inside your house by the door. It is up to you to open the door, your mental door, and allow in only those divine thoughts that will encourage you, inspire you, uplift your consciousness. They are your friends. If you see that your friends are outside wanting to come in, immediately you will allow them in. But if you see your enemies there — doubt, fear, jealousy, anxiety, worry — you will not let them in.

But again, if you have enough inner strength, when an undivine thought comes into your mind you will not reject it; you will 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.

However, if one is a beginner, he should not allow any thought to enter his mind at all. 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 he needs the strength of solid spiritual discipline. For fifteen minutes he may cherish divine aspiration, spiritual thoughts and then, in just a fleeting second, an undivine thought will enter in and his meditation will be ruined. So the best thing is not to allow any thoughts during the meditation.

God is all for you

Fear nothing,
Not even the wild laughter
Of lightning.
God the Compassion is all for you.

Fear nothing,
Not even the ceaseless roaring
Of ignorance-night.
God the Compassion is all for you.

Fear nothing,
Not even the unalterable laws
Of the universe.
God the Compassion is all for you.

The soul of Paradise

You have thought
Good thoughts.
Lo, you have become
The body of Paradise.

You have meditated
Silently and soulfully.
Lo, you have become
The soul of Paradise.

You have dedicated
Your life unconditionally.
Lo, you have become
The goal of Paradise.

Question: What is the difference between a thought that comes to you during meditation and an ordinary thought?

Sri Chinmoy: When you are not in meditation, you will see that each thought or idea is composed of words. You are having an idea, and if you enter into the idea you will see that you are formulating the idea with words — words inside your mind or outside your mind. One, two, three, four words come and form a sentence, and there you have an idea. But during meditation, if the meditation is deep, you do not need words in order to form an idea. In deep meditation the idea comes in a flash. Words will not convey it. The idea will come in the form of Light, or Light will bring an idea right in front of your vision. You will see immediately the incident or the truth that you want to envision in your life.

Question: Always when I try to go beyond the mind, it says, "No, carry me with you. I want to go there, too."

Sri Chinmoy: That is a very good thing when the mind tells you to carry it with you. But you have to know what "you" means. At that time, "you" means your intense aspiration. You have become one with your aspiration, and inside your aspiration what looms large is your soul. When you have become one with your soul, you try to go beyond the mind. Now at that time, if the mind says, "Please carry me," you have to ascertain whether the mind is asking devotedly or with a kind of demand such as this: "I have helped you all this time and now you are going beyond me. You have to take me with you." If it is this demanding mood that wants to be carried with you into the regions of the soul, it is very bad. If it goes there, it will only create problems for you. It will say, "No, no, this place is very unpleasant. Come down, come down. We experienced much more happiness down there. Come down." But if it is the devoted mind that wants to go with you to the Transcendental Beyond, it will not create any problems for you. It will cry for your illumination and transformation along with you.

To the demanding mind, you have to say, "No, you have created enough problems for me and now if I go into a room that is all Light, you will extinguish the Light and make it dark again. You will create problems for me no matter where I go. If I go to Heaven, you will create hell for me there."

But the devoted mind will be ready to accept the Light. True, it has created problems for you in the past. But this time the devoted mind says, "I have tortured you for a long time. I am very sorry. Forgive me. Now I want to go to the place where you are going. I want to share the Light with you. I, too, want to grow into the Light. I, too, want to become a conscious instrument of the Light."

Question: For the past year I have been practising concentration and meditation with my attention focused on my navel chakra. But I don't seem to be making as much progress as I would like in controlling my thoughts. Have you got any suggestions?

Sri Chinmoy: What you are doing is extremely good. We have six spiritual centres in the body. You are concentrating on the centre which is called Manipura. This is the centre that usually is given most importance in Zen practice. From this centre, according to our Indian spiritual teachings, you get dynamic energy. If you use this divine energy for a divine purpose, then you create. If you use it for an aggressive purpose, then you destroy.

Now if you want to control your thoughts, you should concentrate on the centre between the eyebrows. If you become very stiff and your concentration is intense, then you should not concentrate here for more than two minutes. Otherwise, you will become exhausted in the beginning. Now if you concentrate on the heart centre, you will get peace, love and joy. Try to hear the cosmic sound, the soundless sound, when you enter into the heart. If you bring love, joy, peace and bliss up from the heart to the centre between the eyebrows, then you will see that there will be no thoughts.

The heart is the safest place for you to concentrate and meditate. If you do this, automatically you will get purification because inside the heart is the soul, and the soul is one with the Infinite. It is from here that you will get everything.

Question: Why do you want us to meditate in the heart? I find it easier to meditate in the mind.

Sri Chinmoy: If you find it easier in the mind, then meditate in the mind. But if you do so, you will be able to meditate for perhaps five minutes, and out of that five minutes, for one minute you may meditate very powerfully. After that you will feel your whole head getting tense. First you get joy, satisfaction, but then you may feel a barren desert. For five minutes you will get something, but if you want to go on beyond that, you may feel nothing. If you meditate here, in the heart, a day will come when you will start getting satisfaction.

You have to be wise. There is a vast difference between what you can get from the mind and what you can get from the heart. The mind is limited; the heart is unlimited. When you meditate on the heart, you feel a sense of delight, a sense of oneness with something vast and infinite. In the heart there is infinite Light, Peace and Bliss. Other centres in the body have these qualities too, but the place where you can get them in abundant measure is in the heart. So you have to be wise. If you are hungry, you go to the kitchen for food, not the bedroom. Even though there may be a very small amount of food in the bedroom also, when you are really hungry you immediately go to the kitchen for food. Similarly, if you want a limited quantity of Light, Peace and Bliss, meditation in the mind can give it to you. But you can get infinitely more when you meditate in the heart. Suppose you have the opportunity to work at two places. At one place you will earn $500, and at the other place $200. Naturally you will not want to waste your time at the second place.

If you concentrate on the mind, you will not get what you want, because you have gone to the wrong place. Inner aspiration does not come from the mind. It comes directly from your heart. Aspiration is the harbinger of realisation; aspiration is the seed of realisation. Aspiration comes from the heart because the illumination of the soul is always there. True, the Light and the consciousness of the soul permeate the whole body, but there is a specific place where the soul resides most of the time. Reality is everywhere, but the actual manifestation of the Reality has to be in a particular place. It is like my situation now. I am here at the United Nations. If someone asks, "Where is Chinmoy?" you can say that I am at the United Nations, or you can say that I am in Conference Room 10. My presence is spiritually pervading the entire United Nations, but my living consciousness is right here in this room. If you come here, I will be able to do more for you than for others who are elsewhere in the building. Similarly, when you focus your concentration in the heart, you get much more inner satisfaction than when you meditate in the mind, because the heart is the seat of the soul. But it is difficult for some people to meditate in the heart because they are not used to doing it.

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 what the mind has mostly given you is information, and not illumination. The mind that you feed with books, the mind that you utilise to converse with people, the mind that you require in order to exist on earth cannot take you even an inch closer to God-realisation. As long as you have tremendous faith in your mind — the mind that complicates and confuses everything — you will be doomed to disappointment. 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. Once you are totally dissatisfied with the limited capacity of the mind, it will be possible for you to concentrate on the heart.

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

Let us not be satisfied with the things that we get very easily. Let us cry for something which is more difficult to get, but which is infinite and everlasting. If you get something from the mind, tomorrow doubt may come and tell you that it is not real. But once you get something from the heart you will never he able to doubt it or forget it. An experience on the psychic plane can never be erased from the heart.

Question: What is the relationship between consciousness and truth?

Sri Chinmoy: Consciousness and truth need each other. Without consciousness, truth cannot function on any plane. Without truth, consciousness cannot have any living, abiding or immortal reality.

The guide

You want to know the way
To the kingdom of falsehood.
Just give a chance to your proud mind.
Your mind will easily prove
To be a matchless guide.

You want to know the way
To the kingdom of truth.
Just wake your soulful heart.
Your heart will immediately prove
To be a faultless,

Who can save me?

Who can save me
From the problem-game of birth?
Nobody, save and except
The God-lover in my heart.

Who can save me
From the problem-game of death?
Nobody, save and except
The God-seeker in my life.

Question: What is universal Consciousness? How does one recognise it?

Sri Chinmoy: Universal Consciousness is one of the major realisations of the seeker, but we cannot say that the realisation of the universal Consciousness is the highest realisation. The realisation of the transcendental Consciousness is higher than the realisation of the universal Consciousness.

The term “universal Consciousness” means that the aspirant is fully conscious of his inner divine existence. This experience makes him feel that he is of the One, and at the same time he is for the many, for all: One for all and all for One. When his awakened consciousness makes him feel the reality of "One for all and all for One," then it is the universal Consciousness.

One recognises the universal Consciousness only when he feels that his individual existence cannot be separated from the universal existence. He is like a drop of the ocean. If the drop is taken away from the ocean, then the ocean is incomplete, and naturally the drop is also incomplete.

A mounting possibility

A mounting possibility:
Your God-realisation.

A mounting possibility:
Your life-transformation.

A mounting possibility:
Your oneness-manifestation.

A mounting possibility:
Your God-satisfaction.

Lose not hope, try.

From ancient times

From ancient times unto this day
He has not seen a smile
That resembles his God-smile.

From ancient times unto this day
He has not felt a heart
That resembles his universal heart.

Question: Sometimes during my meditation I find that my mind seems to be dwelling on worldly or unspiritual thoughts.

Sri Chinmoy: At times the mind wants to indulge in certain worldly and emotional thoughts during meditation. But the aspirant has to be very careful and not permit the mind to do so. During meditation everything is intense and if the aspirant indulges in evil thoughts, the effects become more serious and more dangerous. The aspirant grows weaker the moment the mind becomes a prey to self-indulgent thoughts.

It is the very nature of our lower mind to deceive us. But our tears and the mounting flame in our heart will always come to our rescue.

When you discover that for five or ten minutes your mind has been filled with undivine and ordinary thoughts, you have to feel that you have really missed an opportunity, that you have really lost something precious. You will then feel that you want to prevent this from happening again, and the next time you will be very careful and attentive.

Your age-long hunger

Lord, today You are
My most distinguished guest.
Alas, how can I offer You my food,
My ignorance-night?
"Son, I am terribly hungry;
Just give Me what you have.
My cosmic hunger cares not for taste;
It cares only for food.
Soon I shall invite you to be My guest.
I shall give you My food, Nectar-flood.
Like Me, you too must not care for taste,
But for satisfaction
Of your age-long hunger."

Glorious is the path

Is the path of prayer.
My body and I knew it.

Is the path of meditation.
My heart and I know it.

Is the path of surrender.
My life and I shall know it.

Question: When we come to meditate with you, we get Light. But we have to keep coming back to get refilled. How much of the Light which you give us remains permanently in us?

Sri Chinmoy: It entirely depends on how long you maintain the consciousness that you feel here. When you go back to your office, you can totally forget about what you have done here for one hour. Or you can remain conscious of the Peace, Light and Joy that you felt here even while you are typing or taking dictation. In this way you can keep the entire amount if you want to.

We sometimes say that a person is doing something, but his mind is somewhere else. Now, instead of the mind, let us say that the aspiring heart is not there. Your mind will take dictation from your boss, but your aspiring heart will keep its oneness with this room where it received Peace, Light and Bliss.

If you can maintain your inner connection with this divine consciousness until your early morning meditation tomorrow, then you will keep the full amount of Light that you have received from me. That doesn't mean that you can't talk to friends, or can't eat, or can't do any ordinary things. You can do these things, but you have to be careful not to lose your precious inner wealth. Once you have assimilated the Peace and Light that you have received into your inner system, it is safe. Before assimilation it can be lost. Even the full amount can be lost. If you go to your office now and enter into a quarrel or some unpleasant situation, not even an iota will remain. If you can keep it safe until your next serious meditation, then you are totally free from the possibility of robbery because your whole spiritual system will have assimilated it. But assimilation takes quite a few hours, so the Light that you receive has to be maintained through inspiration or through your conscious inner awareness until your next meditation. It depends on your inner awareness and your care in dealing with the outside world.

What more do I need?

Earth, my earth,
You have blessed me
With Eternity's gaze.
What more do I need?
Absolutely nothing.

Heaven, my Heaven,
You have blessed me
With Immortality's blaze.
What more do I need?
Absolutely nothing.

God, my God,
You have blessed me
With Infinity's face.
What more do I need?
Absolutely nothing.

Question: What kind of attitude should you have when you meditate on the heart?

Sri Chinmoy: Try to feel that you are helpless. As soon as you feel that you are helpless, somebody will come to help you. If a child is in the street, totally lost, if he begins to cry, some kind-hearted person will show him where his home is. In the inner world, your real home is your heart. Feel that you are lost in the street, and there is a storm raging outside — that means doubt, fear, anxiety, worry, insecurity are pouring down on you. But if you cry sincerely, somebody will come to rescue you. Somebody will show you how to get to your home, which is your heart. Your inner being is that somebody. This is the way to meditate. Cry inwardly. When you feel helpless, immediately your inner cry will take you to the place where you will get shelter, where you will get the things that you want — illumination, salvation, realisation.

They wait

My heart waits
For the pure choice.

My soul waits
For the sure voice.

My Lord waits
For my unconditional surrender.

My life waits
For my transcendental acceptance.

Question: Should a person shut himself away all alone and reject humanity in order to meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: He who meditates has to act like a divine hero amidst humanity. Humanity is part and parcel of God. By throwing aside humanity, how are we going to reach divinity? We have to accept the world as it is now. If we don't accept a thing, how can we transform it? If a potter does not touch the lump of clay, how is he going to shape it into a pot? The world around us is not perfect, but we also are not perfect. Perfect perfection has not yet dawned. We have to know that humanity at present is far, far from perfection. But we are also members of that humanity. How are we going to discard our brothers and sisters who are our veritable limbs? I cannot discard my arm. It is impossible. Similarly, when we meditate soulfully, devotedly, we have to accept humanity as our very own. We have to take it with us. If we are in a position to inspire others, if we are one step ahead, then we have the opportunity to serve the divinity in the ones who are following us.

So we must not enter into the Himalayan caves. We have to face the world here and now. We have to transform the face of the world on the strength of our dedication to the divinity in humanity. Meditation is not an escape. Meditation is the acceptance of life in its totality with a view to transforming it for the highest manifestation of the divine Truth here on earth.

Question: Is there any danger in going off to a cave to meditate and trying to realise God in seclusion?

Sri Chinmoy: Some people do enter into seclusion in order to realise God. They do not want to see God in humanity; they only want to see God Above. They ignore and negate the world. They practise arduous spiritual disciplines all alone. Eventually they may realise God, the God who is in seclusion, but if their spiritual practice is not integrally done, they become arrogant to some extent.

My earth-life, my Heaven-life

I fasted to realise God;
God laughed at my earth-life
Of stupidity.

I cried to realise God;
God smiled at my Heaven-life
Of necessity.

I prayed to realise God;
God appreciated my earth-life
Of sincerity.

I meditated to realise God;
God embraced my Heaven-life
Of reality.

Question: It you have a job and work, can you meditate at the same time?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. It is like many other things you might do. If you are a dancer, in the beginning, while you are learning how to dance, you will always be conscious of whether or not your steps are exactly the way they are supposed to be. But when you become an expert, the steps become almost spontaneous. You are dancing, and at the same time you are looking around and doing all sorts of things. In the beginning, when you are learning how to drive, you cannot do two things at once. You are always afraid that you will have an accident. But when you become an experienced driver, you look to this side and that, you talk to your friends, and do many other things. Similarly, when you become expert in the spiritual life, you can do many things simultaneously.

When my students were beginners, absolute beginners, they had the same problem. They used to say that while they were in the office typing something, for instance, only typing would exist for them. They could not meditate or think of the spiritual life. Now the stenographers and secretaries are remaining in a very high consciousness while they are typing or taking dictation from their bosses. Their bosses are surprised when they look at these girls. They think, "How is it that her face is shining with light?" It is because these particular girls are meditating while doing their work. In the beginning they could not do this, but they meditated systematically for six or eight months, and gradually they developed this capacity. It is only by practising every day that one becomes an expert.

Question: One may obtain peace for a few minutes during meditation, but the instant he returns to the hubbub of life, it all disappears.

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know that there is a vast difference between a truly spiritual person and one who goes to church to pray for half an hour, obtains some peace, and then goes to a cafeteria and there abandons his peace. It is only when one meditates for many hours and firmly establishes this practice that he will obtain lasting results. If you can enter into your inner world and remain there for some time during your meditation, then the day will come when your peace will remain undisturbed and constant even when you are in the outer world, talking and mixing with people.

Question: If meditation is the only way of seeing God face to face, what advice would you give to the man who has a family to look after?

Sri Chinmoy: When the family man gets up early in the morning, what does he think of? He thinks of the members of his family, the education of his children and so forth. But before he allows these thoughts to enter into him, before he enters into activities, if he can meditate, if he can think of God for five or ten minutes, these few minutes will be of great benefit to him. Yes, he shoulders responsibilities; he has to think of his whole earthly family. But again, who shoulders the responsibility of the entire universe? Not he, not the members of his family, but God, God Himself.

If the head of the family meditates on God, on Light — for God means Light — then Light descends. It starts to decrease his worries and anxieties. When one concentrates, whatever he wants to do becomes easier. Similarly, if an individual who has many family problems meditates for five or ten minutes before he thinks of his family, it will immediately help him by reducing the difficulties he faces; also, the Light that he receives will operate in him. He does not have to meditate for ten or twelve hours. He knows that his progress may not necessarily be very fast; but slow and steady wins the race.

If you try to feel God every day, the living God, inside your children and the members of your family, then gradually you will see and feel Light operating within them. But people do not do that. They look upon their children as their possessions, and feel that they have every right to mould them and guide them according to their own sweet will. But if they can feel that they love their children and all the members of their family precisely because God is inside them, if they think of that and meditate on that, they are doing the best thing for their own and their family's spiritual progress.

Illumination I need

I need daily.

I need unendingly.

I need eternally.

I need desperately.

I need constantly.

Question: How can we convince the unaspiring part of humanity that meditation is a natural experience?

Sri Chinmoy: You can convince people through your own life, your own conduct. Just tell them, "Look at us. In the morning we meditate, in the evening we meditate. We live a life of meditation and aspiration, and we are perfectly normal. Do you see any difference between yourself and us? We also eat food; we also have eyes and legs and arms. But when you look at us you see a glow. It is not showing off. But when people look at us, they see something different, something unusual. That unusual thing we are getting by doing something that you have not added to your daily routine."

When they ask you what that particular thing is, you will say that it is meditation. You are using something natural and normal which they have not discovered. This natural, normal thing can be theirs as well, but they are not utilising it.

The master

You be the master of your every hour.
God will definitely be the master
Of your every moment on your behalf,
Cheerfully, devotedly

You be the master of your soulful smile.
God will definitely be the master
Of your heart's excruciating pangs on your behalf,
Smilingly, sleeplessly

Question: What is the best way to meditate during action?

Sri Chinmoy: During action, the best way to meditate is to remember to offer yourself, the action, and the result of the action to the Supreme. When you stop meditating and enter into the world of action, think of your action as a continuation of your meditation. When you meditate in silence, you go very high, very deep. And when you begin your daily activities, feel that this is another form of meditation which is called manifestation. Meditation in action is manifestation.

God has to occupy one's mind, and in this state of divine concentration, one should serve humanity. At that very hour, service itself becomes the greatest reward. In the field of spirituality, although meditation and concentration constitute a totally different approach, work and dedicated service are nothing short of pure meditation.

In all your activities try to feel the presence of God. While you are feeding your child, feel that you are not feeding your child but rather the God within him. While you are talking to someone, feel that you are talking to the Divinity within him. You need not go to your shrine and meditate on God with tears of devotion if at that very moment you have something most important to do in the outer world. Whatever you do, please try to think that you are given the opportunity to do that by God; think that you are doing something which is ultimately leading you towards your realisation.

Question: Some people are very absent-minded and they seem to be in another world. Are they meditating all the time?

Sri Chinmoy: No. Absent-mindedness has nothing to do with the spiritual life. It is a Himalayan mistake to think that absent-mindedness is due to aspiration. Many absent-minded people, of course, are not even aspiring. And those absent-minded people who are aspiring are not absent-minded because of their meditation. They may seem to be in another world because they neglect their duties, but they are not actually staying in a higher consciousness. In the spiritual life it is very important that we live in the outer world and do our best in the outer world. We should look upon the world and humanity as our very own. To allow ourselves to be absent-minded is to be rude and inconsiderate of others.

There are some spiritual Masters and very advanced seekers who appear to be absent-minded and forgetful at times. But with them, it is a different story. At that time their consciousness is not in the physical. They are on a very high plane. Again, a few — very few — Masters can remain on this high plane and still function normally in the world.

But in the case of a beginner, a spiritual seeker, absent-mindedness is not aiding him in his spiritual journey. It is not a positive expression of his aspiration; it is a hindrance, an obstruction. He is running towards his Goal with a heavy load on his shoulders. After a few years, when he has made more progress, the seeker will realise that he is carrying this burden. He will feel that he cannot go any farther while carrying it, and his progress will come to a standstill. At that time the seeker makes every effort to transform his weakness, and finally sheds his heavy load so that he can continue towards his destination.

My Lord's favour

My Lord's favour
Has caused me tremendous worries.
I am afraid
At any moment I may lose His favour.

My Lord's disfavour
Has given me tremendous determination.
I am certain
I shall someday win His favour.

Question: How can a person detach himself emotionally from irritating people and situations?

Sri Chinmoy: First, you have to identify yourself with the standards of the person who is creating the irritation. Suppose you are in your office and somebody is creating unnecessary problems. If you get angry with him, that will not solve the problem. Instead, you will be tortured inwardly by your anger and outwardly by the person. If you allow yourself to become angry, you will only lose your own inner strength. But if you come down to the standard of that person and identify with him, you will see that he himself is very unhappy and therefore wishes consciously or unconsciously to make others unhappy as well. The moment you identify with the person who is creating the situation, you will see that there is nothing to be gained by irritation. Half of your irritation will go away. It will feel that half of its domain is now captured by something: identification. When you identify yourself with the lowest standard of the person who is creating this undivine disturbance in you, your presence inside that person's ignorance will take away half the strength of his attack.

Another way to avoid becoming involved in irritating situations is to invoke peace. For the spiritual person, for the sincere seeker it is always advisable to bring down peace from Above. While invoking peace you will feel enormous strength inside you and around you. The power of inner peace is infinitely greater, more solid and concrete than any outer situation created by anybody on earth. Your inner peace can easily devour the irritation caused by somebody else. If you are in the office, it is difficult to invoke peace. If you pray before others, they will mock at you. They will misunderstand you. But if there is a quiet corner where you can meditate undisturbed by others and bring down peace, then you can do it even in your office. Otherwise, the best thing to do is to invoke peace during your morning and evening meditations, and keep that peace locked inside your heart to be used during the day whenever you need it most.

Question: What is the best way to get the fruits of our meditation in our daily life?

Sri Chinmoy: The best way to get the fruits of your meditation is to feel that the result, the fruit itself, is a fulfilling experience. This fulfilling experience, in the outer terms, may come in the form of failure or in the form of success. But you will see that it will help you whichever form it takes. It will create one more rung in the ladder, and help you climb to the Highest.

You do something and you get the fruit, either bitter or sweet. Now even when you get a bitter fruit, you have to feel that this bitter fruit will give you an experience necessary for your perfection. And if you get a sweet fruit, a delicious fruit, then you can feel that it is also leading you towards your perfection. This is the best way to receive and achieve the fruits of your meditation.

Editor's preface to the first edition

Many people in the West have begun to discover in meditation a way to find their true inner nature. In these volumes, a God-realised spiritual Master answers a wide range of questions about the meaning of different meditation experiences, ways to make meditation practical and the value of meditation.

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