Meditation: God's Blessing-Assurance

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Meditation and self-discovery

The highest illumination is Self-discovery. This Self-discovery comes when we feel the need of the highest, deepest and all-transforming Reality in us. The all-transforming Reality is God the Wisdom, God the Compassion, God the Concern. If we go deep, deeper, deepest, to the inmost recesses of our heart we see God the eternal Concern, and in His Concern we see God the infinite Compassion. God's Compassion and God's Concern can never be separated.

What is the connecting link between our existence and God's Existence? The connecting link is our meditation. When we meditate on God we have to feel that this is the only language that we can use in order to speak to God. Then we see to our surprise that God also has the same language. He does not have a different language from ours. He also uses the same language, which is meditation. When we meditate we speak to Him. When He meditates, which He always does, He speaks to us. Meditation is the common language of man and God.

Our illumination starts the day we feel the necessity of constant meditation. Meditation has to be practised not only daily and regularly, but constantly. Inner meditation can take place at every moment. What is this inner meditation? It is the inner sacrifice. When we meditate inwardly, we are trying to sacrifice something. What is that something? It is the imperfection in us, which comes from ignorance. When we are ready to sacrifice our imperfection and ignorance, we feel that our vessel is totally empty. Now it has to be filled again. Ignorance is replaced with knowledge, and imperfection with perfection. By whom? By God.

Here we are all seekers, seekers of the infinite Truth. Here and now let us try to enter into the life of Reality, with our proper understanding of Truth. The Truth tells us: "Start where you are. If you have desire, start with your desire. If you have aspiration, start with your aspiration. But start! Do not wait. The Hour has struck; now it is up to you either in walk, march, run or fly." God is ready. Now we also have to be ready.

Everything is reciprocal. God gives us, in infinite measure, what we give Him in infinitesimal measure. If we give Him an iota of love, He gives us in infinite measure His infinite Love. Again, when we go deep within we see that God is far above this reciprocal attitude. He does everything unconditionally in us and for us. He knows we are helpless, if not hopeless. He knows that He is the Doer, He is the Action and He is the Fruit thereof. He is the Player, He is the Game, He is the Result. But if we can consciously become one with His universal Will, then we will become a conscious instrument of His. Now we are His possession, but if we can become one with Him we will also grow into the Possessor Himself. This is what we mean by the highest illumination: when Possessor and possession become totally and inseparably one.

Question: Please tell me if I am right. Meditation is the easiest thing in the world when we think of the Supreme with devotion, surrender and pure love.

Sri Chinmoy: You are absolutely right. Meditation is the easiest thing on earth because our inner divinity not only has the capacity to meditate, but practises meditation at every moment. So when you are identified with your inner divinity, you will see that meditation is being constantly done for you. Then meditation is very, very easy. Otherwise, it is most difficult, for during your meditation the mind will think, "I am allowing a stranger to enter into me." The vital will say, "I am entering into an alien world." The physical will say, "I am not a fool. I still want to enjoy the world. I don't need Heaven." All this happens when you are not identified with your inmost divinity. But if you are identified, you can truthfully and spontaneously say that meditation is the easiest thing in the world because in meditation reality grows and the life of creation flows.

Question: How can I purify my mind so that I can have a good meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: In your case, the best thing to do is to feel every day for a few minutes that you have no mind. Say, "I have no mind, I have no mind. What I have is the heart." Then after some time, say, "No, I don't have the heart. What I have is the soul."

When you say, "I have no mind," this does not mean that you are becoming an animal again. Far from it. You are only saying, "I don't care for this mind, which is bringing me so much impurity and torturing me so much." When you say, "I have the heart," you feel that the heart has some purity. But when you say, "I have the soul," you are flooded with purity. Then, after some time, you have to go deeper and farther and not only say, "I have the soul," but also "I am the soul." The moment you say, "I am the soul," and you meditate on this truth, at that time your soul's infinite purity will come up and enter into the heart. Then from the heart, the infinite purity will enter into the mind. In this way you will purify your mind and your heart and you will have a wonderful meditation every day.

You have to know that the mind is almost always impure. It always brings in dark and bad thoughts. Even when it is not doing this, it is still a victim to doubt, jealousy, hypocrisy and fear. All negative things attack the mind first. You may reject them for a minute, but the next minute they will knock at your door again. This is the mind. But the heart is much, much purer. Even if you have fear or jealousy in the heart, the good qualities of the heart still come forward. Affection, love, devotion, surrender and other divine qualities are already in the heart. That is why the heart is much purer than the mind.

But again, the heart is not totally pure because the vital is around the heart. The lower vital, situated near the navel, tends to come up and touch the heart centre. It makes the heart impure by its influence and proximity. The heart is not like the mind, which is always opening its door to impure ideas. The heart is far better than the mind. But the best is the soul. In it there is no impurity: It is all purity, light, bliss and divinity.

Question: Could you explain what inner hunger is?

Sri Chinmoy: If you are dissatisfied or frustrated, if you feel that you have not achieved something that you wanted to achieve, this does not necessarily mean that you have inner hunger. But suppose you feel that within there is something vast, something luminous, something fulfilling, something positive which you don't have right now. You think that inside you there is peace, but you do not have access to it. If you think that you have something inside you that is divine, and that you need this very thing, that means that aspiration is there. Hunger comes from your spiritual need. If you need something and you know where that thing exists, then you will try to get it. When you have this hunger, the next thing is to satisfy it.

If you enter into the spiritual life because of frustration, dissatisfaction or despair, you may not remain in the spiritual life. Today you are dissatisfied with someone or something, and tomorrow you will say, "No, let me try it again. Perhaps this time I will get satisfaction." Here you are trying to do something in a human way. You have failed, and that is why you are dissatisfied, but tomorrow you may try again in a human way. But after a while, you will see that only dissatisfaction and frustration comes from desire. If you do not fulfil your desire, you are disappointed. Or even if you get the thing you wanted beyond your prayer, beyond your necessity, still you will not be satisfied. In desire life there is no satisfaction. Then you say, "No, I am not going to desire anything in a human way. I came from the Vast and I just want to enter into the infinite Vast." This is aspiration.

When you aspire, you try to enter into the vast ocean of Peace, Light and Bliss. But when you desire, you try only to possess the object of your desire. When you aspire, you just jump into the reality and feel that that reality is yours. It is because of things like fear and doubt that you don't dare accept the reality as your own.

Each individual has his own need. You need God right now; you want to have true accomplishment, true fulfilment in your life, so you want to go to the Source. But somebody else might need something totally different. If you need God, naturally He will give Himself to you. And if somebody else needs something else, God will give him that particular thing. But when God is asked for some material object, only God knows whether He will give it or not, because only God knows whether it is something that the person really needs. If a person gets the thing he is crying for, it may only increase his desire. Again, if he does not get it, he will be frustrated and displeased with God. But God has to decide whether it is best that he get the thing or not. In your case, since you are a sincere seeker, if you pray to God or meditate on God for Peace, light or Bliss, even if He does not grant it to you the way you want, you will still be satisfied, for you will still have inner joy and inner peace. You will simply say, "He knows best. Perhaps I am not ready. That is why He is not giving me what I asked for. But He will give it to me the day I am ready."

In the life of aspiration it is not actually your achievement that gives you satisfaction. It is your aspiration. The aspiration itself is your satisfaction.

In the spiritual life we do not progress by hook or crook. Spirituality cannot be achieved by pulling or by pushing; it is something spontaneous. I cannot thrust the spiritual life upon you and I cannot take your spiritual life or inner cry from you. But if you have something spiritual in you, I can inspire you. If you have one spiritual coin, then through my inspiration you can get millions of spiritual dollars. But to start with you have to have a little flame.

There are many who are fast asleep. For them spirituality is out of the question. No matter how sincerely we try, we cannot awaken them. You are on a spiritual path; that means that you are already up and awake. But if you try to pull down spiritual Light, you are making a mistake. Only when this Light comes on its own, when on the strength of your aspiration you bring it, can you receive it. Otherwise, when the Light descends, if you don't have enough receptivity, the vessel will only break.

How can you receive this Light from above? For that you need constant practice. If you practise daily, without fail you will expand your consciousness. An unaspiring person has a consciousness which is earth-bound; it does not expand at all, but is limited, very limited. But when you aspire, your consciousness expands and your receptivity increases. So if you pray or meditate, then you can easily hold the Light and Peace that descends.

Question: I am looking for more joy in my life, but I don't feel confident about jumping into meditation to get it.

Sri Chinmoy: When life is not giving you joy but you feel that you want joy, that means you are hungry. In the spiritual life when you are hungry you will eat spiritual food. When you are not hungry you will not eat. Now, for fifteen or twenty years you did not sincerely and intensely care for the spiritual life. Since you have not meditated intensely for so many years, if you jump all at once into the sea of spirituality you won't be able to swim. You cannot change your nature overnight. It has to be done slowly, steadily, gradually. First move around in the water; then gradually you will learn how to swim. Then there will come a time when you will be able to swim well. But since you have inner hunger, that means you are ready to start swimming.

Question: Is it wrong to expect some result from our meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: After you pray and meditate you may think that you must get something from God. You have had a good, good meditation, so you are expecting a little bit of Peace or Light. When you expect, the force of your expectation creates an unconscious pull, an inner pull. You are trying to give something — your love, your devotion, your surrender — and at the same time you are trying to achieve something. But when you think of achieving while you are giving, you don't get any joy. You get the greatest joy only when you do not try to achieve something while you are giving.

The moment you have meditated well, try to feel that that is already your achievement. If you have meditated well, the Supreme is pleased but you also have to feel that the Supreme will give you the result in His own way. Otherwise, what you expect may not be God's Will,

A real aspirant, when he starts meditating, will not cry for the result: he will cry for self-offering during his highest meditation. If he cries for the result, mentally he is imagining something. Even if he imagines some spiritual entity, there is a subtle demand for a result, and his meditation will be lower than if he had meditated only in pure self-offering.

Question: Why doesn't God make all our meditations equally good?

Sri Chinmoy: You don't have a good meditation every day, in spite of your best intentions. Some days you get up and meditate early in the morning at your proper time but real meditation does not come. Then, instead of cursing yourself or cursing your Master, you should simply say: "Oh, perhaps this is what the Supreme wants. Perhaps the Supreme wants me to have this experience." You must feel this consciously. You are trying your best to meditate well, but unfortunately your meditation is not at all satisfactory. So you have to feel, "I am trying my best. Now it is up to Him to give me the best meditation or the worst meditation." But please remember that your own aspiration and your will to meditate regularly and punctually at a particular hour are still of greatest importance. You know that it is a necessity for the body to eat, but you can't eat the most delicious food every day. Your wife may cook extremely well, but if she does not give you the most delicious food every day, what will you do? Should you get angry? No! At that time you feel that she had something more important to do for you than cook. Similarly, you should feel that if the Supreme has not given you a good meditation on a particular day, He is thinking of doing something very great for you in some other way. Instead of getting angry with Him, have faith in Him and feel that He is giving you some different experiences.

In your wife's case, her whole existence is inside you. If she cannot give you most delicious food, she will do something else to please you, to make you happy. In God's case, if God does not give you a good meditation today, He will give you something else which is equally important or more important. A person we love has every right to please us in various ways; otherwise we become bored. Today, through meditation, God is pleasing you, tomorrow, through dedication, he will please you, and the day after tomorrow, He will please you in still another way. He wants to fulfil Himself in and through you every day. But He has every right to change His means of doing it. If you have a fixed menu and say, "This meal is good; I will eat it every day," after a few days you will be sick of it. It is the same thing with divine food. There should always be variety.

Question: Is there anything specific I can do to have a good meditation every day?

Sri Chinmoy: Please feel that there is only one person on earth whom we can call our Dearest, and that person is God. God has to be our Dearest to the end of our lives and throughout Eternity. If we do not know what Eternity is, we can be forgiven. But we know what our life span is. So, if everyday we can renew our love of God and our faith in God, then I tell you that every day we are bound to do the best meditation.

Why do people fail to have their best meditation everyday? The main reason is that they fail to renew their love for God, their faith in God, their surrender to God. Love, devotion, surrender — this is the way. Each morning we have to first inscribe in our heart with golden letters the words 'love, devotion, surrender'. Every day when we start meditating we have to feel that with our whole heart we are offering ourselves to God. The day we entered the spiritual life, we offered our existence to God, it is true. But that offering was not complete and unconditional. And even today's offering is not complete. But tomorrow, or in the near or distant future, this offering is bound to be complete.

You have to offer your whole existence to the Supreme as if you are placing a flower on a shrine. You have to feel that your limbs, hands and feet are like the petals of a flower. When you feel that your whole body has become a rose or a lotus, then offer it to the Supreme. If some of you do not use the term 'Supreme', then offer it to God, or to Christ or to anybody whom you call your Beloved, whom you regard as your Highest, your Supreme.

In the spiritual world it is obligatory to keep the colours blue, gold and green inside us. When we have blue, we enter into Infinity; when we have gold we enter into a higher realisation and manifestation, and when we have green, we enter into a valiant new life. Therefore, every day we try to wear these colours within. When we are wearing them we will see that our love, devotion, surrender and all other divine qualities are bound to come to the fore. And then we will become the heart's flower, the flower of inner beauty, the flower of inner divinity, the flower of transcendental reality.

This advice is bound to bring you the message of spiritual progress and inner success. Please invoke your divine qualities every day, early in the morning, and you will see that there can be no dry deserts in your inner life.

Question: I'm not as receptive as I would like to be. Why is this?

Sri Chinmoy: Our receptivity is lessened by the hostile forces that attack us. They can attack us just because our consecration to the Supreme is not yet complete. Sometimes the aspirant's mind revolts, sometimes the vital revolts and sometimes the physical or even the subtle physical revolts. If there is any such opening, the hostile forces can attack us.

There is also another reason why we are not receptive. Until we are really sure of what we actually want, the life of desire or the life of aspiration, then the hostile forces will stand between our desire and our aspiration. Aspiration brings us to the goal, to the reality, but desire immediately makes friends with our enemies. Hostile forces are always on the alert; they try to divide us. They want to separate our aspiration from our desire. Then what do they do? They bring in desire and try to kill aspiration. Very often they succeed. But a spiritually alert person will take aspiration and enter into desire in order to transform it. If desire enters into aspiration, aspiration is ruined. If aspiration enters into desire, the desire is transformed.

In your case, if you become a victim of hostile attacks, these attacks come primarily for two reasons. The first reason is that your physical is mercilessly revolting against the heart's psychic aspiration. You can't get rid of all your undivine and negative qualities permanently because you are unconsciously cherishing negative thoughts. You still feel that these qualities are fulfilling for your outer life, your vital life. Your inner aspiration is running much faster than your physical capacity or urge. The physical is constantly playing the part of a robber. The soul is gaining something for you and the physical is robbing you and squandering it. When you receive something from the soul, you have to feed yourself with the soul's light. But that you don't do. You get the light from the soul and throw it all around. The physical gets light but does not utilise it for its own illumination.

The second reason for these attacks in your case is uncertainty. Whether you are aware of it or not, you are afraid of the Infinite that your highest part wants to enter into fully. On the one hand, you want to dive into the sea of Infinity. On the other hand, you have a feeling of uncertainty. You wonder what you are going to get from the sea of Infinity. You have to know that you are going to get the infinite wealth of the immortal Consciousness which pervades the entire universe. Your soul wants it, but your physical mind is afraid. So long as there is fear, even an iota of fear in you, the hostile forces have the power to attack you mercilessly. If there is no integral acceptance or awareness of one's own real goal, then the hostile forces are bound to torture one. But if you do not have fear and if you are sure of your goal, then the hostile forces can never attack you. If you can accept Infinity as something which is your own but which you have forgotten about, if you can see that you have always been that Infinity, then fear does not come.

Question: How can I increase my receptivity?

Sri Chinmoy: Everyone has receptivity, but this receptivity can be enlarged. Receptivity is something elastic: It can be expanded like an elastic band through the spiritual Master's grace. The best way to increase your receptivity is to be like a child. If the mother says to the child, "This is good," the child has no time to think it is bad. No matter how advanced you are in the spiritual life, you can make the fastest progress by having a childlike attitude, a sincere and genuine childlike feeling. Then, if you want to increase your receptivity, each day before you meditate, offer your deepest gratitude to the Supreme. This is the easiest and most effective way to increase receptivity. Because you are aspiring, you have become something. Then tomorrow, if you have maintained your aspiration, you will go one step further. You never stand in the same place in the spiritual life. Either you go forward, or you go backward. If you have aspiration, then you go forward; if you have desire, if you lead the life of desire, then you go backward. So if you have lived the life of aspiration today, then naturally tomorrow you will be one step ahead. Once you are one step ahead, you have every right and every reason to offer your gratitude to the Supreme. You cannot say, "Oh, I have done it all myself." If the Supreme did not work in you, you would still be in the life of desire. But you have gone forward, and you have to feel that it is the divine Force, the Supreme, that has helped you to come forward. So you offer your gratitude to Him. Then each time you offer gratitude, you again go forward. And when you go forward, automatically your receptivity increases. Receptivity means what? It means progress. The more you receive, the more you can make progress in the inner world. Again, the more you receive, the more you have the capacity to receive.

Question: If one has all faith in his Master, then what obstructs his receptivity?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know that if one has all faith in his Master, and here I am using the word 'all', then there is every possibility that the person will have receptivity. If one has implicit faith, irrevocable faith, then that person is bound to have receptivity. Of course, faith can either be dull, unprogressive faith, or it can be dynamic faith. If one's faith is dull, then receptivity is bound to be limited.

Question: How can you stop yourself from worrying about whether you are having a good meditation or not?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to feel that there is nothing to show, and at the same time you have to feel that you cannot fool the person whom you want to show. Sometimes in the ordinary life we show off and feel that the person who is observing us does not actually know that we are deceiving him. But in the spiritual life, you have to feel that when you are meditating in front of your Guru there is nothing for you to show. You have only to be.

If you want to show that you are doing a wonderful meditation so that I will be very pleased, at that moment your own sincerity will go away. You should feel, "I want to be sincerity; I want to be purity; I want to be luminosity; I want to be divinity." If you mainly want to show that this is what you are, sincerity goes out of you. And the more it goes out of you, the sooner you will be exposed. Occasionally, when you are trying to show what you are, you may actually achieve those qualities, but very often false things will come forward.

As soon as I want to show something to others — for instance, that I can put the shot fourteen metres — then my worries have started. If I keep in mind that I have to throw it fourteen metres, or if I feel that I have to come in first or second or third, then my worries have started. I should instead regard the action as something I am becoming, not as something I am showing. I have thrown; that is my action. And in that action I have become whatever I have done. This is my capacity; this is my achievement; this is my reality; this is what I can do. So also, at the time of meditation, the point is not to show anything outwardly or inwardly, but to become everything. If I want purity, if I want humility, if I want sincerity, if I want divinity, then let me become these things. When I am becoming, then I am fulfilled. I will not be fulfilled in any way by showing what I am.

Question: Could you speak on intensity in prayer?

Sri Chinmoy: When we pray we should always do it most soulfully and intensely. 'Intensity' is only a word but we can live it. When we pray we should not bring the mind forward at all. We should not think, "This prayer is a form of desire." Prayer is not a desire like the desire to make thousands of dollars or to write beautiful poems. No. It is not like that. When the Supreme wants us to pray, we have to do it most soulfully, sincerely and devotedly. Prayer is a kind of aspiration which invokes Infinity's Compassion-Light to transform our human nature into divine nature. Again, in our prayer we see something most significant. We see God's Will which is at once our aspiration-height and God's manifestation-might.

Question: How can I meditate with more intensity?

Sri Chinmoy: You can meditate with more intensity when you have developed real security in your aspiring life. What is real security? Real security is the knowledge that your spiritual father constantly cares for you. Just because I constantly care for you, I am trying to mould you in my own way. My own way means the divine way, the way of the Supreme. If you feel this, then automatically you will have more intensity because an overwhelming love and gratitude will flow constantly from you toward the Supreme in me. And that feeling is your meditation. Also, you have to feel that what I offer you is unconditional. Do not feel, "If I do this, then he will do something for me; if I don't do this, then he will not show me affection." You have to feel, "Even if I don't do anything for him, my Guru will still show me his infinite compassion, infinite love, infinite concern. Even if I don't meditate at all for one month, he will love me the same way." If you have that kind of feeling then you will automatically have intensity, because intensity comes when an overwhelming gratitude flows.

Question: If you really don't know exactly what you are doing when you meditate, how can you try to improve your meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: You can begin by having good thoughts: "I want to be good, I want to be more spiritual, I want to love God more, I want to exist only for Him." Let these ideas grow within you. Start with one or two divine ideas: "Today I will be absolutely pure. I will not allow any bad thought but only peace to enter into me." When you allow one divine thought to grow inside you, you will see that immediately your consciousness changes for the better.

The best thing is to identify with your Master's consciousness, but if you find that difficult then start with divine ideas: "Today I want to feel that I am really a child of God." This is not a mere feeling but an actual reality. Feel that the Virgin Mary is holding the child Christ. Feel that the Divine Mother is holding you in her arms like a baby. Then feel: "I really want to have Wisdom-Light. I want to walk with my Father. Wherever He goes I will go with Him. I will get Light from Him."

Some people don't have ideas like this. Creative thoughts and ideas don't come. There is just a vacuum. You may ask which is better — to have many silly messages in the mind or no messages at all. But there is a negative, inconscient way of meditating which has no life in it. This is not the silent mind. It is not productive. In real meditation, the mind is silent but at the same time constantly creating.

Question: Sometimes I don't have the inspiration to meditate. How can I create it again?

Sri Chinmoy: Think of the time when you had your highest meditation, three months ago, or yesterday, or this very morning. Just imagine it, and try to enter into it. After a while, imagination will grow into reality, and you will enter into deep meditation.

Another way is to feel that your Guru is hungry. Feel, "I have not fed my Guru and he is very hungry. It is time for me to feed him. He asked me to feed him, but I am loitering or roaming about in the streets. I am such a bad fellow, such a rascal." You can immediately increase your aspiration by thinking that through your meditation you are feeding me. If you have that idea, immediately your heart will compel you to meditate.

Question: When I first began meditating at three o'clock in the morning, I used to have very good meditations and I was very inspired. But after a few days, 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 and 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 really 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 on the third day, feel that you have travelled another mile. Every day feel that you have travelled another mile. The day you start your spiritual journey is actually the most important. At that time you will have the most inspiration. But if you can feel that each morning during your meditation you are travelling a little farther, you will know that one day you will 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. By taking one step at a time you reach the Goal.

Question: I was really inspired to meditate for five or six days, and then I woke up one morning and did not have the feeling that I wanted to practice my meditation. What can I do to spark myself without having to force things?

Sri Chinmoy: You said that for five or six days your aspiration lasts, then it disappears, and even if you try to meditate it does not come. But continue! Sometimes you don't feel like eating, but you know that the body needs food. So you still eat every day. It is a natural habit, the body's demand. So even if you cannot meditate properly or have your best meditation every day, you should not be worried.

In order to maintain the same level of meditation, you have to be very spiritually advanced. I am not throwing cold water on you; far from it. I wish to say that in the beginning you should be happy if just at times you get very good, very high, sublime meditation. When you don't have a good meditation, don't allow yourself to become a victim to frustration. If you get frustrated, you are losing your capacity to an even greater extent. Then on the following day, at that time also, it will be impossible for you to meditate deeply.

If you don't have a good meditation today, then try to forget about it. Tomorrow if you have a meditation that is a little better, try to remember it. The past is dust. The past has not given you realisation; that's why you are still praying and meditating. So why should you think of the past? You have to forget all that did not inspire you or encourage you to go farther. So if today's meditation does not inspire you or has not given you most satisfactory results, try to forget it altogether.

You have aspiration and then you lose it. Then you cry for it, but you may not get the same aspiration back again. But here you have to realise that you are not an expert in meditation. Now your meditation is at the mercy of your inspiration or aspiration. When you are inspired, you have aspiration and you are ready to meditate. But this aspiration, this inner urge, will last only for a day or a few weeks and then it disappears. But when you become an expert, meditation will be at your command.

How can we become expert in anything? If we want to be a singer or a poet or a dancer, we have to practise daily. It is the same with meditation. When we practise meditation daily, there comes a time when it becomes spontaneous. If we regularly meditate once or twice a day, then we develop a kind of inner habit. Eating every day is an outer habit. If we did not eat, we could not exist on earth. Similarly, if we do not feed the soul, our inner being, every day, then the soul or the aspirant in us starves. And what happens then? We cannot reveal, we cannot manifest our own divinity.

If you meditate regularly for five months, six months, or a year or two, then automatically meditation will become spontaneous and natural. After a while, at such and such an hour, you will feel compelled to meditate. You will feel that meditation is your soul's necessity and the inner urge to meditate will never be able to leave you. It will always inspire you and energise you. Early every morning when it is time for your meditation, your inner being will come and knock at your heart's door.

Question: If I meditate too little I don't have energy throughout the day and if I meditate too long, I can't maintain my aspiration. How can I stabilise my energy level?

Sri Chinmoy: The problem is that you are going to extremes. Sometimes you overeat and then you can't digest what you have eaten; sometimes you don't eat at all and you feel weak. When you don't meditate you feel miserable, and when you meditate beyond your capacity you feel worn out. But you don't have to pull, you don't have to push. You only have to know how much capacity you have. In your case twenty minutes in the morning and in the evening is more than enough. If you meditate for only two minutes or five minutes, naturally you will not be inspired: but if you meditate for an hour or two you will strain your capacity. So meditate devotedly and soulfully for twenty minutes in the morning and twenty minutes in the evening, and in the afternoon if you have a chance you can meditate for two or three minutes more. That will be ample in your particular case.

Question: When we miss a meditation, would it be a good idea to meditate for a longer time at the next meditation to make up for it?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us say that you regularly meditate four times daily. Then at two of those times you are hard-pressed by mundane things and you don't get the opportunity, so you only meditate twice that day. Whether you should meditate for twice as long in those two periods depends on your inner capacity.

Suppose you eat three times a day. Now early in the morning you didn't have breakfast. At noon you missed your lunch. When it is time for dinner, if you want to eat all that you have not eaten in the morning and at noon, it will only upset your stomach. If you fast and don't eat for two days or four days, then if you start trying to make up for the food that you didn't eat during your fast, then you will run into trouble.

With meditation it is the same. You have inner capacity to meditate at fixed hours. You meditate early in the morning, at noon, in the evening and at night. If on a certain day you cannot follow this routine, it is better just to meditate most soulfully at the hours you have at your disposal. But if you try to increase the length of time, if you want to meditate two or three hours instead of half an hour because you missed the previous time, then it will be harmful. Your physical mind will not be able to bear the pressure. Instead of creating more capacity, this will break your capacity. It will create tremendous tension in your aspiration-self. Everything has to be done systematically, gradually. Gradually you will increase your capacity. Eventually you will be able to meditate for eight hours or ten hours at a stretch, but right now it is not necessary. When it is time you will be able to do it.

There are many stories about how aspirants get better results when they meditate soulfully and are not concerned about the number of hours. I wish to tell one story:

Narada was a great singer, a divine singer, and a great devotee of the god Vishnu. Once he became bloated with pride because he was Vishnu's dearest devotee. Lord Vishnu wanted to smash his pride, so one day he said to Narada. "I want you to go into the world and visit my dearest disciple on earth." Narada could not say it out loud to his Master, but inwardly he felt, "Your dearest disciple on earth? Who is it? Who could be dearer than I?" Vishnu said, "In a certain village there is a man who is a farmer, and this farmer is extremely devoted to me. I want you to go and visit him." Narada went to the farmer's house and stayed there for a few days. The farmer had a big family, with children and grandchildren. He shouldered a heavy responsibility, but early in the morning, before he went to cultivate the land, he uttered the name of Lord Vishnu three times most soulfully. Narada followed him into the field, and saw that at noon again he uttered the name of Lord Vishnu three times most soulfully. When he came back home he repeated Vishnu's name three times more, and then he entered into his household affairs. For two or three days Narada observed the spirituality and daily meditation of the farmer.

Narada came back to Vishnu and said, "How can you say that that farmer is your dearest disciple? He repeats your name only three times in the morning, three times at noon, and three times at night? I repeat your name thousands and thousands of times during the day, and I have been doing it for so many years! How many years I have been praying to you, meditating on you, and chanting your name to inspire people!"

Vishnu said, "Wonderful, Narada. Now, I am thirsty. Please bring me a glass of water from the nearest pond."

Narada went to fetch water for Vishnu, and there in the pond he saw a beautiful girl swimming. Narada fell in love with the girl and forgot to bring water for his Master. He married the girl and started a new life. They had a few children and in this way, many years passed. Then there was famine in the place where Narada was living and all his children died, and his wife died also. He was crying to relieve his suffering, "O, Lord Vishnu, save me, save me!" Vishnu came to him and said, "What about my glass of water?" and brought him back to reality.

Vishnu said, "It is just a minor thing to bring me a glass of water. But in the world of ignorance and illusion you lost all your devotion, aspiration, spirituality, everything. Now look at this farmer. He has such a big family; every day he is shouldering such heavy responsibilities, but even then he has the time to think of me, to meditate on me. I gave him his work of cultivating the fields; I gave him the responsibility of supporting a family. He discharges all his family responsibilities, but still he has time to think of me and meditate on me. But when I gave you something to do, you immediately forgot me."

From this story we come to realise that it is not how many hours you meditate but how soulfully you meditate that is important. To come back to your question, I wish to say that if aspiration is really intense, if God really comes first in the aspirant's life, then he can easily adjust his outer life to make time to meditate. He can change his outer circumstances. The inner aspiration has infinitely more power than the outer obstacles. If one utilises one's inner strength, then circumstances have to surrender to inner aspiration. If you really want to meditate four times a day, then I wish to tell you that your inner aspiration will give you the power to meditate four times. Outer obstacles can easily be overcome, because the inner life is the living expression of our infinite Power. Before the infinite Power, outer obstacles have to surrender.

Question: Are there any exercises your disciples can practise to develop their will power?

Sri Chinmoy: There are three spiritual exercises to develop will power:

One. Hold the end of your thumb tightly in your first finger, and try to feel a pulsation only in the tip of your thumb. That pulsation is your life energy, your breath, your mission, your realisation, soul and Goal. It is all there in the tip of your thumb. Then look at your thumbnail and feel that there is your dream and reality. When an idea comes to you to do something, you will get all the will power you need from your thumb. Incidentally, the thumb can also be used to determine whether or not a person has will power. If a person's thumb is pointed at the end, generally that person has will power. The more pronounced the point, the more will power he is likely to have.

Two. Sit cross-legged in front of a very small mirror, with your back straight. Do not hold the mirror in your hand, but set it up at eye level so that you will be able to see only your face. Try to see your third eye. Inside your third eye imagine a deep hole, and try to see inward, not downward, through the hole. Go as far in as possible. When you reach your ultimate capacity try to see all your love there — the love that you have for your life. When you have seen all your love, try to imagine me in that place. Feel there is your love-field and give it to me. When you can give it to the Supreme in me, then you will be able to accomplish in the inner world all the things that you wanted to do.

Three. Stand about three and a half feet away from a wall. Then, make a very tiny black circle on the wall at eye level, and inside the circle make one dot. It has to be black. With your eyes half open, gaze at the circle, focusing all your attention on it. Try not to see anything else except the circle. After two or three minutes, try to feel that you are totally one with the circle, that your whole existence is inside it. Then go beyond the circle to the other side of the wall. When you go through the circle and beyond it, try to look back at your own physical reality, the reality that is standing in front of the wall. You started from the physical body but now you have sent your subtle body to the other side of the wall. From there try to look back at your physical. This will give you some satisfaction.

Complete satisfaction will come when you look at only the dot inside the circle and not the circle itself. Try to see your own self there, your own face of aspiration. Feel that you exist only there and nowhere else. Then try to feel that your existence, your face, your consciousness, everything, is replaced by me. Once you feel that your previous existence has been totally replaced by me, you will have established your inseparable oneness with me, and my will power is bound to come into your life.

Question: How can we meditate on the soul?

Sri Chinmoy: Please feel that you are not the body, you are not the vital, you are not the mind, you are not the heart, you are only the soul. Think of the most beautiful child on earth. Imagine the most beautiful child you have ever seen. Then feel that your soul is infinitely more beautiful than this child. Those of you who have children know that parents always think that their own children are the most beautiful. There is nothing wrong in it; they are absolutely right. But think that your soul is infinitely more beautiful than your children. To some of you I have told your soul's qualities. If you know, think of the qualities that your soul wants to manifest. Think of your soul in this way and then feel that you are the soul at this very moment. Feel that you are that — Tat twam asi. This is how to meditate on your soul.

Question: Is it helpful to concentrate upon the golden aura, or should one hold a thought of God or some of His aspects in mind?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the individual. God is personal and impersonal at the same time. A person may feel that he wants to adore the personal aspect of God. At the end of his spiritual search, he wants to see God in His personal aspect. If he feels that he wants to see God in divinised human form, as a being infinitely more beautiful than any being on earth, it is best for him to think of God, to meditate on God, to concentrate on God as the personal God.

But if he wants to see God as Light, golden Light without form, or God as dynamic Energy, then he can approach God the infinite Energy or God the infinite Light. The seeker has to make the choice as to what he wants to see at the end of his Self-discovery: God the personal or God the impersonal, God the Form or God the Formless. God is both Form and Formless. But some people are more fond of God the Form and some are fond of seeing God the Formless. And again, there are some seekers who want to see God in all His Forms, God as a Person and also God in His impersonal aspect. It entirely depends on the seeker's own aspiration. God is ready. It is you who will make the choice.

In your case, the best thing will be for you to concentrate on the golden aura, to take God as a golden Light. This golden Light is the Supreme's Light for manifestation on earth. This is a most significant Light for you, because in you there is abundant Light. Each person has an aura, and in your case your own aura is golden. If you can concentrate on God's golden aura, on the golden colour, this will be most effective in your case.

Question: Concentration and meditation give us certain power, even if we are not looking for it. Should we pray to God to keep us from misusing that power?

Sri Chinmoy: In the course of his meditation, when one knows how to meditate well, naturally he gets power. Sometimes one misuses this power and sometimes one uses it properly. Now, how can you use it divinely? If you can feel that this power is an act of God's Grace that has descended into your life, then the first thing you will observe is that your responsibility diminishes. Since it has come from God, the power is His.

When you get any inner power, the best thing to do is not to use it until the psychic being is fully developed and you become totally one with your psychic being. At that time you can truly be the possessor of power. What happens when you get power from your meditation is that the power comes and possesses you; power becomes the owner of your outer life. When power possesses you, although you feel that you have got the power, at that time there is every possibility that the power is using you; then you feel that you are using the power wrongly. But this is not true; it is the power that is using you for a wrong purpose. But when the psychic being is fully developed and you become one with the psychic being, when you are able to speak to the psychic being and you are growing in its consciousness, there is no problem. You become the lord of your power; no matter what power enters into you or what power you develop, your inner being will guide you, protect you and show you how to use the power for a divine purpose.

In the spiritual life, until one has become totally one with God's infinite Consciousness, it is not advisable to use power. People accumulate money and hold it. The spiritual power that you get during your meditation, I wish you to collect it and hold it. Then a time comes when you are fully realised and there is no chance of your misusing the power. Then you will use the power for the manifestation of the Truth, not to break the cosmic harmony. If power is used before realisation, most of the time it is used wrongly and then it creates more problems than harmony in the atmosphere.

So if you have power, hold it to the last. This power is bound to help humanity at God's choice Hour. Without the divine power, nothing can be manifested on earth. At the same time, the divine power has its own time, and that time one can know only when one is on the threshold of realisation or when one is totally one with God's Will.

Question: I seek strength when I meditate; am I seeking the wrong thing?

Sri Chinmoy: You are doing the correct thing when you seek strength and get it. The Upanishadic seers used to chant this prayer thousands of times: "Give me strength. Give me valour. Give me virility. Give me patience." As light is strength, strength is also light. This we can see with our own eyes. We feel that light is one thing and power is something else, but it is not like that. In light there is power and in power there is light. So when you are praying to God for strength, please feel that not only strength, but light is entering into you, to drive away your darkness and to keep you constantly in the lap of the Supreme, to fulfil you both in your inner and outer life.

This power is not the power of a boxer, who will knock me down. That is only human power, unlit power. But the divine power is light itself. So when you pray to God to give you strength, you are really praying to God for light as well.

If there is no strength, then God-realisation can never be achieved. The Upanishads say, "The soul cannot be won by a weakling." You have to aspire for strength. One has to be divinely powerful in order to realise his goal.

Question: When I meditate, sometimes I am so focused on trying to have a strong meditation, that I lose all sense of why I am meditating. How can I avoid trying to have a strong meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Do not try to have any particular type of meditation. When you start to meditate, do not care what kind of meditation you will have. Not only do you have to give up the idea of having a strong meditation, you have to give up all ideas about your meditation.

The first thing you should do when you meditate is try to make your mind calm and quiet, and then let this calm, quiet mind, this silent mind, this tranquil mind, carry you. If you try by yourself to go toward the goal, it will be impossible. It is the meditation that can carry you. Just dive into the sea of this mind, which is far beyond the physical mind, and let the meditation carry you.

It is not the intensity, it is not the eagerness to possess the truth or be possessed by the truth that counts most. It is a spontaneous, cheerful feeling of self-offering that is required in meditation. This is what the soul expects from the aspirant — spontaneous, cheerful self-offering. If the aspirant has this, the soul is bound to bring to the fore infinite Peace, Light and Bliss from above.

Question: Do we not sometimes mistake the strong concentration of the vital for a good or strong meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Concentration and meditation are two totally different things. One can easily know whether one is doing concentration or meditation. When it is concentration, there is tremendous intensity; it is like an arrow entering into the target. But in meditation, there is peace all around, specially in the mind. intensity is there, but the intensity is flooded with luminosity. In concentration there need not be, and at times there is not, the highest luminosity. Concentration wants immediate results. It is ready to do anything, by hook or by crook, to achieve its goal. But meditation won't do that. Meditation feels that it has infinite time at its disposal. That doesn't mean that meditation neglects fleeting time. No! It appreciates fleeting time, but inside fleeting time it sees endless time. That is why meditation has infinite Peace inside it.

Intensity of the vital during meditation is not bad if it is the purified vital and not the demanding vital. The vital is a real dynamic horse, but we have to know how to utilise it. We are now using the vital in the world of passion, in the world of argument, greed, and so on. But this same vital can be used as a dynamic strength to fight against ignorance, imperfection and death. So if the vital is pure at the time of concentration, then our success is very satisfactory, and it assures us that the fulfilment of our goal on earth is not a dream.

Question: Sometimes after meditation I lose the joy that I have received from my meditation. Is there a method that would be helpful in holding onto that joy?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two reasons why you lose your joy. One reason is that your mind starts functioning most powerfully, vehemently. While functioning in this way it allows obscure, impure, undivine thoughts to come in either consciously or unconsciously and then its joy has to disappear. But if purity is well established in the mind, then the joy will last for a long time.

Another reason you might lose your joy is because your vessel is small and you have taken Light, which is joy itself, beyond the capacity of your vessel. The quantity of Light that you have gotten during your meditation has satisfied you, but the excess you were not in a position to hold in your vessel; so you felt miserable.

Question: The spiritual life and meditation should be the simplest of things; yet I always seem to complicate it. How can I keep my meditation simple?

Sri Chinmoy: When we think that we are doing meditation, then it will always be complicated. When we think of what we are doing, whether it is meditation, physical work or even eating, we will feel some complication in the action either today or tomorrow.

True meditation is done when we are consciously aware of the Supreme. We have to know that it is He who is fulfilling Himself in and through us, that He is doing the meditation Himself. We are just the vessel and we are allowing Him to fill us with His whole Consciousness. When we are aware of this, after five or ten minutes of meditation we will enter into the very world of meditation. We do not have to do anything; we are there in that world because the Supreme has taken charge of our meditation.

We start with our own physical and mental effort, but once we go deep within we see that it is not effort that allows us to enter into meditation. Meditation will be complicated so long as we depend on ourselves, feeling, "If I don't meditate at six o'clock, then my world will certainly collapse." But when we feel that meditation is being done by the Supreme in us with our conscious awareness and consent then meditation cannot be complicated.

At that time we will see that our meditation is free and spontaneous. God is fulfilling Himself through us and enlarging His Consciousness within us. But it has to be done with our consent; otherwise there will be no end to our complicated feelings.

For a grown-up person to surrender even to the Highest is impossible, because the mind has started functioning. But a child surrenders to anyone, even to a stranger. If the stranger says something is to be done, he will do it because he has perfect faith in the stranger. That is because he does not use the mind. In our case, we don't have faith in anybody and, at the same time, which is worse, we don't have faith in ourselves.

When you meditate, please try to feel the river or meditation flowing through you without coercion or exertion. Let the divine Consciousness flow through you. That flow is the real meditation which you have had many, many times. You can always have the real meditation if you allow the river of Consciousness to flow in and through you.

Question: If I don't have a good meditation when I am meditating with you, I feel miserable because I feel it is my fault.

Sri Chinmoy: Since I am your Guru, if you are sincere you will always feel that I am responsible for your meditation if you sincerely try to meditate but cannot do so. There are insincere people who will not get up to meditate early in the morning even once in three months. For these people I will not be responsible. But if you are trying, I will be responsible for your meditation.

Question: How should we concentrate on your transcendental picture?

Sri Chinmoy: When you want to concentrate, first look at my face, the whole face. Then gradually try to concentrate on my forehead. Then try to think of the place in between the eyebrows and a little above. Feel that only that particular spot exists, and there is nothing else. Try to bring your eyes to that point and feel at the same time that you don't see anything else in the picture. Then try to dig there; go as deep as possible. Feel that you have got a knife, a divine knife, and you dig, dig, dig, and go as deep as you can. The deeper you go, the stronger will be your power of concentration.

Then, if you want to meditate, try to look at the whole picture. Try to feel that the entire picture is ready to give you whatever you want. If you want Peace, then try to look at the picture with the idea, the inner feeling, that the picture has infinite Peace. If you want Light, if you want Bliss, or anything divine, just feel that the picture has it, which is absolutely true.

To start with you have to have imagination, and then it becomes reality. Scientists discover so many things, but they have to start with imagination first. Then comes intuition and then comes realisation and reality. So, when you start, you have to imagine that this picture has what you want. Then go deep within and there you will find the reality. A day will come, in a few months or a year or two, when you won't have to take help from your imagination. At that time, your own solid inner aspiration will make you feel what the picture has, what consciousness is there.

Question: I have tried to meditate on your picture in the morning for about three months, but I don't think that I am even approaching meditation.

Sri Chinmoy: Is my picture frightening you?

Yes!

Sri Chinmoy: What kind of crime have you committed that you have to be afraid of me? Who is afraid of me? A thief, a hooligan, a jailbird. You are none of those, so why should you be afraid of me? If somebody has done something very wrong, then they may be afraid of me. They will say that I shall expose all their secret inner defects and misdeeds. But, fortunately or unfortunately, here you will not be exposed. On the contrary, my compassion, like a mother, will hide your imperfections.

A spiritual Master is not an X-ray machine. With the X-ray machine, as soon as you stand in front of it, you are totally exposed. Similarly, when you stand in front of me, sooner than at once I can see everything, but I will be the last person to expose you to anybody, or complain about you to the Supreme, saying, "Look what a bad disciple I have." If I did, the Supreme would certainly say, "Who asked you to take this person?" When I accept someone as my disciple, as I have accepted you, I accept all his imperfections, real or imaginary.

You should never be afraid of me. I am not a tiger; I am not a lion. I am not going to devour anybody. Never! Even if you feel that you are darkness itself and I am the sun, no harm. Anything that the earthly sun shines on immediately is exposed. But the sun which shines within me is the inner sun, which only illumines. This sun can illumine your darkness, but it cannot expose it. If it shines on darkness, it transforms it, it transforms everything into divinity, and then offers this divinity to the world at large. So there is nothing for you to worry about.

Many times disciples, for one reason or another, create millions of imaginary imperfections. Real imperfections disciples do have, everybody has. But they also create imaginary imperfections, because they feel that if they can tell me about lots of imperfections, I will show them more compassion, concern and love. This is all wrong. If you have real imperfections and tell me about them cheerfully because you wish to transform them, at that time I can help you. But when you create imperfections in order to draw more attention and concern, at that time I withdraw, for I know that there is no truth in them.

I have heard many complaints that my transcendental picture is aloof, indifferent or frightening. I do not agree with these opinions, but if you insist that they are true, then please meditate on some other picture of me, even if that particular picture is not of my very highest consciousness or realisation. Any picture of me wearing my dhoti, taken in any Centre, is good for you to meditate on. I am sure in those pictures that my consciousness will be at least one inch higher than my disciples' consciousness. As long as my consciousness in any picture is one inch higher than yours, you can meditate on that picture with complete confidence. If you feel that my smiling picture inspires you more, please use it. If you feel that in some other picture I am not indifferent, then meditate on that one. I tell my disciples to meditate on my transcendental picture, but if after two or three months you are not successful in this, it means that there is something wrong between you and the picture. Since there are hundreds of other pictures, please select one that will help you in meditation. There is no hard and fast rule that you have to use my transcendental picture.

I am telling all of you, please, please never to be afraid of me. You can be afraid of anything on earth, but don't be afraid of me or of my transcendental picture. I will never harm you in any way. On the contrary, it is my business to transform your imperfections and mould and shape you into your own divinity.

Question: When you call us up in front of the room to meditate facing the other disciples, what is the best approach for us to take?

Sri Chinmoy: When you meditate in front of the disciples, you have to feel that your spiritual brothers and sisters are being inspired by you and, at the same time, that you are being inspired by them. When you stand and meditate with your utmost devotion, immediately they are inspired by you. And then, when you look at their faces, you get inspiration. You see that while you are helping the disciples, they are also helping you. It is not showing off. You are helping each other, without any competitive spirit. When you have that kind of feeling, that you are inspiring and being inspired, then your meditation will be most successful.

But do not meditate on the disciples. You know that I am behind you. And what do I represent at that time? I represent the heart's identification. If you can identify your heart with mine, automatically you will have the inspiration to do extremely soulful meditation. You will feel me behind you as the heart. Then feel that I am standing in front of you and facing you, and that I am the sole witness. I am looking like a judge, to see whether you are meditating or not. You have to feel that I am before you as a judge, but behind you as your mother or father — identifying with you, encouraging you and inspiring you. With my soul I become the judge, and with my heart I become one with your aspiration.

Question: Many disciples become self-conscious and nervous when called up to meditate in front of you or the other disciples. How can this be controlled?

Sri Chinmoy: I know that most of you are victims to this kind of self-conscious attitude and nervousness. Sometimes when I place my palm on your heads to bless you, I see and realise what nervousness and self-consciousness are.

When you are self-conscious, what happens? You become self-critical. You immediately feel that someone is observing you and you wonder what he is thinking of you. You may think, "Perhaps while looking at me Guru is seeing that early this morning I told a lie. Now my lying consciousness has come to the fore in me, and he has caught me." Or you may think, "Is Guru observing the good thing that I did early in the morning? Does he know the wonderful thing I did?" Usually, self-consciousness takes a critical form, but it may be also a subtle feeling in which you demand appreciation.

But why should you feel that others are judging you? I am only feeding you with Peace, Light, Delight and Power. Others may judge you according to their light, but they are all fools. They do not know anything about your inner life. When you go to sit down, another person will come up to meditate, and he too will have told a lie or done something bad. You are all in the same boat. The best thing is to play your part with utmost sincerity; neither show off nor criticise yourself, but enter into your present aspiration. Then, when you come up in front of me to meditate, I shall receive only devoted qualities.

Another reason you become nervous is that you enter into the nervousness and uncertainty of others around you. It is like you are all students in front of an examiner. You do not know what question the examiner is going to ask, but you look around to see what page of the textbook the other person is studying. You do not pay attention to your own inner truth, but think that the question will come from the page the other person is reading. "Let me read that particular page," you say. Then you start to become nervous, not because you are trying to read the same passage he is reading, but because the other person himself is nervous. He is reading a passage, but he also feels that perhaps this is not the right passage. Already he is uncertain, and when you start reading his passage, you enter into his consciousness and take on his uncertainty and fear.

How can you control your nervousness? In your life of aspiration you always have to feel, "If Guru asks me to do something, he has given me the capacity to do it. If he asks me to meditate in front of eighty or a hundred people, then he has definitely given me the capacity to do it well. He is not asking me in order to see how much capacity I have or how much I can show. He has already given me the capacity." A mother will not put a very heavy burden on the shoulders of a child. The mother knows that the child will not be able to hold it that he will collapse. The mother gives the child only what she knows he can easily carry. Similarly, in the spiritual life, when I ask a disciple to come forward, I have already given him the necessary strength and capacity.

If you identify with me, you will never feel nervous. In my case there is no nervousness; it is all oneness. If I am absolutely one with you, I don't have to worry about what I am doing, what I am offering, what you are thinking or how I can prove to you that I am sincere. I don't have to prove to you that I am a spiritual man or a realised soul. Similarly, you don't have to prove anything either. When you enter into me and become one with me, you enter into Peace, Light and Bliss in boundless measure. So the moment I ask you to come up and meditate, simply try to identify yourself with me. Identification never means imitation. Far from it! I don't want you to be a carbon copy of me. I want you only to identify yourself with my highest consciousness, since you are crying for the Highest and you feel that the Highest is inside me. If you take that inner feeling as something true, throw yourself — body and soul — into me. Then you will see that there cannot be any self-conscious feeling or nervousness, but only certainty and a flood of reality and divinity.

Question: Guru, sometimes you say that certain people do very good meditation. Can you tell us how the people who meditated best today did it?

Sri Chinmoy: Not everybody meditates with the same standard every day, but I will tell you how those who did best today meditated so if you want to try their way, you can also meditate well. X meditated best. When she meditated, I saw her soul's integral identification with my highest consciousness inside her fully surrendered heart. Second came Y. She merged totally into my dynamic flood of Compassion-Light and my inner Beauty's glory. Third was Z. He entered most devotedly into my all-fulfilling Consciousness with a divine child's purity, loving surrender and certainty. Next was V. He meditated with his heart's most intense inner cry to offer himself entirely in the service of the Supreme, with the inner assurance of becoming a chosen instrument of the Supreme.

Question: Guru, there is a thought that inspires me and I would like to know if I could meditate on it. Sometimes I think of you as a child who is playing with me, and that I am a child too. Is that O.K.?

Sri Chinmoy: If you think that I am a divine child and you are playing with me, that is an excellent way of seeing me because at that time, my inner purity will enter into you. I always say God is an eternal Child. If you see me in the form of a child, in a childlike consciousness, it is very important that you also feel that you are a child. You have to put both of us at the same level — two children playing in the garden. You must feel that you are a child and I am a child with all divine and innocent qualities. Don't think of yourself as an adult with a mind, or many thoughts or ideas. Also, do not think of yourself as a father and me as a divine child with whom you are playing. No, this is all wrong; there will be no balance. One is in the mind and one is in the heart. But if you can see and feel yourself as a child with only a heart, and feel that I am a child with only a heart, then two hearts are being blended into one and that is a very good form of meditation.

Question: Is it possible to bring our meditative consciousness into the work that we do in the outside world?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know how far you have already walked along the path of spirituality. If you want to be a singer, you cannot become a good singer overnight. For a dancer also it takes time to learn to do the steps in perfect order. But eventually the dancer and the singer become experts. Then they can do many things at a time. When a doctor performs an operation, an ordinary person would be wonderstruck to see how many things he can concentrate on at once. When you are just learning to drive, you are nervous; but once you become an expert driver, you can look at this side and that side but everything is under perfect control.

How can we develop this kind of capacity? In the beginning, it is impossible. If somebody says he has entered into the spiritual life today and today he has this capacity, rest assured that he is fooling himself. But this capacity is like a muscle. When you take exercise, you develop your muscles. In the spiritual life also, if each day you practise meditation regularly, devotedly and soulfully, then you are bound to develop these inner capacities. Then, when you are in the office, when you are in school or when you are in some other place with your friends, you will feel an inner presence guiding you. Even if you talk about earthly, mundane things you will not lose the inner wealth that you have accumulated during your meditation.

In the beginning, perhaps the seeker starts with only five minutes of meditation early in the morning. Then a day comes when he can sit and meditate for half an hour, then an hour, then two hours; and he can meditate well more often, not just on rare occasions. Some people sit, but they are not meditating at all. But if somebody can meditate for two or three hours at a stretch with perfect equanimity, without losing his mental balance, naturally he has made some progress in his inner strength, inner power and inner light. Everything depends on the disciple's achievement. Things he has really achieved in the spiritual life, he can use. If I have money, I can give it to you if I want to; but if I don't have money, in spite of my best intentions, I will not be able to give it to you. Inner power, inner light and all the divine qualities are inside you. Your inner being has accumulated them. Now these qualities have to be brought to the fore.

We have to go to work, we have to go to the office or to school. Your classes may not be spiritual at all. Others are trying to create problems; they are trying to influence you unconsciously or consciously. You become a victim to their merciless treatment, and then you are totally lost. But if your inner being supplies you with your own inner peace and joy, then you will be able to swallow their undivine behaviour. You will be answering your professor's questions or talking to your boss, but inside you will feel the presence of your own inner being which helped you when you were meditating early in the morning. You will feel its presence like a divine child within you.

Question: What happens if we are meditating next to someone who is thinking worldly thoughts?

Sri Chinmoy: If your meditation is very high, very powerful, fire is emanating from your eyes. Then if one who is cherishing worldly thoughts looks at you, he will be compelled to give up those thoughts. Many times I have seen when three or four aspirants meditate together, if one of them is in a very high meditation, then the others have to leave the place or are compelled from within to meditate soulfully.

Question: How can we meditate twenty-four hours a day?

Sri Chinmoy: Nobody can meditate twenty-four hours a day. If you are always meditating, who will run your shop? People will come to buy your merchandise, and you will not be interested. So how are you going to sustain and manage your life if you are seated at one place twenty-four hours daily? First of all, you cannot constantly sit and meditate. It is impossible; you would die. Second, the world demands your attention and concern.

Your question should be, "How is it possible for us to have constant aspiration?" Constant aspiration you can have in each activity. Right now you are meditating here. From here you will go home and eat. When you are eating, instead of thinking of the outer world, you can meditate, or think of your Master. You can think of love, purest love, and how you can love the whole world. You can think of devotion and how you can devote your whole life to your Inner Pilot. You can think of surrender and how you can surrender your ignorant life to God. When you harbour these divine thoughts in your mind instead of undivine, silly thoughts, worldly thoughts, then what are you doing? You are meditating. People will think that you are doing nothing but eating. But you are doing something infinitely more significant.

Like this you can constantly aspire while you are in the store. It is not the money you get from the customer that is important. You are giving what you have and the customer is giving you what he has. But while you are giving, you have to feel that you are offering the light that you have in the form of the things you sell. And when a person gives you a five dollar bill or a ten dollar bill, don't think of it as money, but think that that person is giving you light. Then your light and his light become one and when you are conducting your business in light — in your light and his light — you are aspiring.

In each activity you can bring down light and this light is the highest form of aspiration. Whatever you do, see the divine part, not the human part or earthly part, in your action. In this way you can constantly meditate for twenty-four hours. While you are talking and moving about, ask yourself what your attitude is, where your consciousness lies. Where your consciousness lies is of paramount importance. If you want to be totally conscious of the Highest even in your deep sleep, you can have this capacity if you constantly aspire twenty-four hours a day. The opportunity to aspire is given in and through each activity of yours. In each of your actions you can aspire.

Editor's preface to the first edition

It is the duty of the individual soul to cry for God in the heart of his meditation. It is the duty of the divine soul to constantly guide and assure the individual soul on its eternal journey. When a cry goes up, immediately assurance, God's Blessing-Assurance descends. In the past several years Sri Chinmoy has been approached by untold numbers of aspirants seeking his inner and outer assurance in their life of aspiration. This book, a collection of questions and answers, represents a portion of that dialogue.

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