Meditation: God speaks and I listen, part 1

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Question: What is the best way to meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: The best way to meditate is to feel that you have come from the Source. This Source is Delight. When you meditate, feel that you have come from that Source and you go back there triumphant and victorious. Here on earth you play your role and then you go back to the Source. The Indian scriptures say:

Anandadd hy eva khalv imani bhutani jayante
Anandena jatani jivanti
Anandam prayantyabhisam visanti

"From Delight we came into existence.
In Delight we grow.
At the end of our journey's close,
Into Delight we shall retire."

This is the ultimate way of meditation.

Question: How do I begin meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, you have to study a few spiritual books to get inspiration. These should be written by real spiritual Masters and not by fake spiritual teachers or by aspirants who are still on the path and have not yet attained illumination. Spiritual books and scriptures will tell you how to physically and mentally discipline your life to some extent. You can take the help of these books for a few days or a few months.

Then you will realise that your book-knowledge of meditation is not enough. You will want to have the solid experience of genuine meditation. Now, each person has to have a meditation of his own. If you want to go to the end of the road and reach your inner Goal, then you should have the true meditation of your soul. This meditation will help you reach the destined Goal. You will need a spiritual teacher, a Master who can give you a meditation according to your soul's qualities. The Master can tell the seeker inwardly about his meditation by asking the soul to come to the fore and telling him through his soul how to meditate, or the Master can tell him personally when he sees him. If a spiritual Master gives a meditation, then that meditation is undoubtedly the best that the aspirant can ever have.

If you don't have a Master, you should go deep within and get your meditation from the inmost recesses of your heart. The meditation that gives you immediate joy or continuous joy is the best meditation for you. Everyone will not have the same meditation. Your meditation will not suit me, my meditation will not suit you. You like a certain food, I don't like it. You are right in your own way I am right in my own way. But once you know what your best meditation is, please stick to it. In your mind or in your aspiring being, try to formulate a few meditations. Today you can try one way of meditation, then you can try another way of meditation tomorrow. If you have seven types of meditation, you can try one each day. At the end of one week the one that has given you most satisfaction or abiding joy is your best meditation.

Even if you do not want to study spiritual books and do not care for a spiritual Master, then first and foremost you should keep the mind calm and quiet, and let the soul speak to the mind about what it actually wants. If the mind is calm, we can receive the light of the soul in the mind. The light enters into the mind also through the heart. When we meditate collectively we do this kind of meditation.

I always recommend that one should practise concentration; otherwise, meditation will never be fruitful. When we sit for meditation, millions of thoughts and ideas will enter into our mind and disturb us. We should practise concentration for a couple of minutes and then enter into meditation. For some seekers who have been practising concentration and meditation for a long time, concentration is no longer necessary; they can immediately enter into meditation. To have a calm and quiet mind is not easy. It is most difficult. It can be done only by the Grace of God and through the most sincere aspiration. If one has inner cry and if God's Grace descends, then only can proper meditation be practised and achieved.

Question: When we are learning to meditate, what sort of questions should we ask?

Sri Chinmoy: There are several questions a seeker should ask himself when he is learning to meditate. "How should I meditate?" "Why do I want to meditate?" "What kind of meditation do I want?" "What do I expect to do when I meditate?" "How sincerely have I accepted the spiritual life?" "How much time am I prepared to spend?" When we have the highest form of meditation, however, we do not have to ask any questions. The best form of meditation is to transcend the mind. Right now from the mind we are getting good and bad thoughts, but a day will come when we have to enter into the highest Truth. At that time we shall not allow any thought or question to enter into us.

If you feel that you are a beginner, you should control your mind. You should try to be alert, with your eyes open, and focus all your attention on the heart. If your aim is just to have a little peace of mind or a little harmony in your family, the conscious will of your heart is all that is needed for the time being.

If you have meditated for a number of years and feel that you are not a beginner at all, then only your dynamic will to reach your Goal will help you. If you say, "I want to have the highest meditation so that I can realise God the Absolute," meditate on your heart. But you will have to spend quite a few hours daily in the highest meditation if your goal is to realise the Highest. When you meditate, how can you stop the functioning of your mind? Try to consciously lose your individuality and personality. If you can consciously lose them, the soul of your meditation will take care of the illumination of your life's aspiration. Only illumination will breathe in you and around you.

Question: I would like to know what teaching you give for obtaining a good state of meditation.

Sri Chinmoy: There is no hard and fast rule. There is not one kind of meditation that everybody has to do. You have to meditate according to your development and according to the needs of your soul. Each patient has his own medicine; each individual has his own way of meditation.

Whenever a disciple of mine comes to me and says he has not yet discovered his way of meditating, if I see that he is sincere, I tell him to come and see me. I meditate with him first for a few minutes, and then I tell him how to meditate. The meditation is meant only for that person. It is given in strict confidence. If that person tells others I won't be the loser; it is he who will be the loser. Each person must go his own way during his meditation because each one has a particular role, a special mission on earth to fulfil. In God's divine Lila, His cosmic Play, everybody cannot play the part of a king or queen. But each one has been allotted a particular part. And to perform that part one has to meditate according to his own inner necessity.

Some seekers feel that what they actually need is love and devotion for God. They feel that to enter into the mental world, to approach God through the mind, is a waste of time. These seekers pray with the heart. But there may be others who like to pray with the mind. Basically, if somebody wants to be very intimate with God, like a child with his mother, then he has to approach through the heart. If one wants the knowledge and wisdom of God, if one wants to know what is happening on which plane and so forth, he has to approach with the mind.

When one has reached God, when one has God, the path ends. At that time we do not say, "I came through this path and he came through that path." Once we are in God's Consciousness we get the benefit of all the paths. That is to say, if I follow the path of devotion and you follow the path of the mind, when we have reached the ultimate Goal, we get the same thing. But according to our propensity we should follow a particular path. There are various ways. You have to go your way and I have to go my way. But ultimately we reach the same goal.

Question: In order to practise meditation with one Master, do you advise giving up all the other spiritual paths?

Sri Chinmoy: When practising spiritual disciplines under the guidance of a spiritual Master, it is always advisable for you to follow his path exclusively. You have to give up other paths once you accept his path. If you are satisfied with this Master and are still looking for another Master, you are making a mistake and are acting like a fool.

The only thing I know

God, I teach
Because
This is the only thing I know.

"Son, I learn
Because
This is the only thing I know."

God, I judge You
Because
This is the only thing I know.

"Son, I forgive you
Because
This is the only thing I know."

Question: How should I do meditation if I have never done it before?

Sri Chinmoy: First try to be calm and quiet at least three times during the day: in the morning, at noon and in the evening. You don't have to actually do any kind of meditation. Just feel that these five minutes belong to you and nobody else. Act like a miser. Feel that you are not going to give these five minutes to anybody, not to your relatives, your friends, your enemies — nobody. These five minutes are absolutely yours. When you are with yourself, this is not self-centred ego. Here "you" means you in your highest form. Your highest form is God, and you are growing into this highest form.

If you have friends who know how to meditate and you meditate with them, even unconsciously, your inner being may receive inspiration from them. If you are a very sincere seeker, then you will get help consciously in the form of inspiration from your friends who are sitting beside you. You will learn things from your spiritual friends. Automatically the power of meditation in you will increase.

You have to know that in your case the power of meditation is not strong enough right now for you to continue meditating for a considerable time, fifteen minutes or a half an hour. But the main thing is not to become discouraged. When you begin taking exercise, you cannot do it for more than five minutes. But if you practise daily, then after a few months you can take exercise for an hour or two. What we need is regular practice at a regular time. If you can meditate early in the morning at a particular hour, then try to continue meditating every day at that hour. At that hour God will knock at your heart's door. Open it and He will offer you His Peace, Light, Bliss and Power.

Regularity is necessary. Although we are regular, we may not give first importance to our meditation. But if we give importance to our meditation and are sincere, whole-hearted and dedicated in our spiritual life, automatically our power of meditation will increase.

Please address

My sweet Lord,
Please address my inner eye.
I shall immediately awake.

My sweet Lord,
Please address my inner ear.
I shall immediately respond.

My sweet Lord,
Please address my inner mind.
I shall immediately receive.

My sweet Lord,
Please address my inner heart.
I shall immediately achieve.

My sweet Lord,
Please address my inner life.
I shall immediately surrender.

Question: I have never been to your Centre before. I have read a few books but I'm a beginner in meditation.

Sri Chinmoy: You are coming here for the first time, and you have read many books but have not meditated before. Books have given you the inspiration to enter into the field of aspiration. Here we are all aspiring to reach the Highest and fulfil the Highest.

In the spiritual life, when you are in the presence of a spiritual Master you receive according to your capacity of receptivity. You are a beginner, but that does not mean you will be denied something. Everybody was a beginner once upon a time. A beginner in any school cannot sit together with someone who is far advanced because their lessons will clash. But in the spiritual life we have to feel our inner oneness with those who are ahead of us. We also have to feel how far and how deep we want to go.

Those who are my disciples do not need special meditations because I have taken the responsibility for their meditation. How? I have simplified the matter. There is a photograph of me in my highest transcendental Consciousness. A seeker should always meditate on what inspires him most. Just because I am their Master, my disciples get abundant inspiration from meditating on this picture. If anybody looks at it with love, joy and devotion, no matter how much of a beginner he is, no matter which path he followed before, just because the person is a seeker, my inner consciousness will open its door to him. On our path if anyone devotedly concentrates a few minutes each day and enters into my third eye, then I take responsibility for his meditation. During his meditation at home, if the seeker is attuned to me, I will immediately feel that a voice is coming from within and telling me that that person meditated at this hour and so forth.

You are a beginner, but you don't have to be doomed to disappointment. Your sincere cry can make you swim in the sea of aspiration. The easiest way to meditate for my disciples is to concentrate on my picture. You can try it just for a couple of days. If you have faith in me, which is of paramount importance, I can assure you that your life of real aspiration can immediately begin. It is your own sincerity that will easily expedite your inner search for ultimate realisation. You are a beginner at this moment. At the next moment you need not be a beginner. A beginner is a drop. If the drop consciously throws its existence into the ocean, then the beginner immediately becomes an expert, advanced and accomplished seeker.

Question: Is it good for one to be with other spiritual people?

Sri Chinmoy: If you have a Master, then his inner guidance is bound to strengthen your aspiration. But if you do not have a spiritual Master, then you have to read books written by spiritual Masters and mix with seekers, with spiritual people. There are many others who are seeking and practising meditation but do not have Masters. In the spiritual life also, "Birds of a feather flock together."

If you see that a thief or some other culprit is sitting beside you, then automatically your consciousness will descend because of the vibrations coming from him. Negative, undivine forces will come and attack you. But if you mix with those people who are leading a spiritual life and are trying to realise God, they will undoubtedly strengthen your aspiration. If you have faith and trust in these people, their very presence will inspire you. If you sit beside a spiritual person, he will be thinking of God, meditating on God, on divine Love and divine Peace. And this Peace and Love will enter into you also. So the best thing is always to mix with spiritual people as much as you can.

Question: I attend the meditation here at the college once a week but I feel I need more spiritual nourishment. If I try to meditate alone, it's different. I feel that there is something I am losing.

Sri Chinmoy: You are not actually losing anything. When four persons do the same thing together they inspire one another. It is like a tug-of-war. When you are meditating with your group, there are four or five persons meditating together against only one person: ignorance, whereas when you meditate at home, you are one individual and ignorance is another individual. You don't know who is going to win in the tug-of-war. When four persons are pulling on one side and only one is against them, you know that these four are going to win. This inner assurance will encourage you to come and pull with the others. If you meditate at home alone, you are fighting against ignorance all by yourself. Naturally you will soon be exhausted, and then you will feel sad and miserable, and may lose interest. But if you can meditate with others, then you will have more confidence in what you are doing.

Question: Why do we have to meditate every day?

Sri Chinmoy: It is very simple. Every day you eat; that is why you live on earth. You cannot live on the food you ate yesterday. Similarly, the divine child in us also needs nourishment every day. Every day you have to feed the soul. Meditation means the conscious feeding of our soul. If we eat every day, we become very strong because of our regular nourishment. So also when we meditate every day the soul is being nourished. Then it gets the opportunity to manifest itself better, that is to say, to manifest the Divine on earth. This is why daily meditation is necessary.

God and I meet together

In the morning
God and I meet together
To appreciate our beauty's birth.

In the evening
God and I meet together
To admire our duty's end.

At night
God and I meet together
To immortalise our necessity's life.

Question: I have recently become your disciple. Does what you say about meditating when you get up apply to disciples or do you have a different standard for them?

Sri Chinmoy: I expect all my disciples to meditate in the morning before six-thirty. From two o'clock to six-thirty I concentrate on all my disciples. At that time my soul, my existence, my consciousness are responsible for feeding you. After six-thirty my inner beings take the responsibility. I am not saying that my inner beings are inferior to me; no, they are not. But if you want to give me joy in the physical mind, then please meditate before six-thirty. If you meditate after six-thirty my inner beings will have to take care of you. And again, if you meditate in the evening or at night, my inner beings and your inner being will commune.

Question: Why should someone meditating alone in his room be bothered by the agitation of the world outside in the street, especially if he can't hear it from his room?

Sri Chinmoy: Once the day dawns, Mother Earth becomes divinely energetic or undivinely restless. Especially in the West, because of its present dynamic nature, there is some feeling of irritation in the cosmos, or in the outer nature. These restless qualities of the world do not have to enter into you, but usually they do. When people move around, immediately their vibration enters into you, no matter where you are. The air, the light, has already been corrupted by human toil, human anxieties. The world is standing in front of you like a roaring lion. How can you enter into your highest meditation in front of a roaring lion? But, if you can meditate before nature starts functioning, when the cosmos is still and the entire universe is taking rest, then you will be able to get a more powerful concentration and a deeper meditation.

Why

I do not sing.
Why?
Because my Lord Supreme
Sings so soulfully.
If I sing, I shall only embarrass Him.
I think that is not fair on my part.

I do not dance.
Why?
Because my Lord Supreme
Dances so charmingly.
If I dance, I shall only embarrass Him.
I think that is not fair on my part.

Question: Why is it necessary to have flowers, incense and so forth in order to meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: When we offer flowers, when we burn incense, light candles and take a shower before meditation, we convince our physical that we are doing something. The outer life and inner life must always go together. But the outer is not the ultimate. The ultimate is inner aspiration, the mounting flame within us. We have to be aware of our aspiration, and then constantly go within and fly to the highest level of our consciousness.

Flowers, incense and washing before meditation also help us to have purity. The purity of the body is of paramount importance in the spiritual life. It is in purity that God's breath abides. If physical purity is lacking, then it is simply impossible for the Divine to breathe in you. Purity demands cleanliness in the body. What we call cleanliness in the outer world we call purity in the inner world. So before you start meditation, no matter when you meditate, take a shower or wash your eyes, ears and nose and feet with cold water, and if possible use flowers and incense to create an atmosphere of purity.

Question: Should a person be alone when he meditates, or does it have anything to do with environment? Do you advise him to be in a big crowd or do you want him to shut himself away all alone?

Sri Chinmoy: He who meditates has to act like a divine hero. He has to serve and while serving he is guiding. He is serving the divinity in humanity. One has to face the world and not retire into the Himalayan caves. We have to act like divine heroes here amidst humanity. Humanity is part and parcel of God. By throwing aside humanity, how are we going to reach divinity, which is part and parcel of humanity?

What we need is transformation. 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 are also not perfect. Perfect Perfection has not yet dawned, but we expect to attain perfection through our meditation. How are we going to discard our brothers and sisters who are our veritable limbs? I cannot discard my arm. Similarly, when we meditate soulfully, devotedly, we have to accept humanity as our very own. We have to know that humanity as it stands is far, far, from perfection, but we are also members of humanity. We have to take it with us. If we are in a position to inspire others, if we are one step ahead, naturally we have the opportunity to serve the divinity in the ones who are following us. 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: Can we meditate while lying down? Is this not the best way to relax?

Sri Chinmoy: For meditation you do have to relax. And for a spiritual person who has meditated for many years and knows how to meditate at his command, lying down and meditating for hours is no problem. But for the beginner, or for the person who is not advanced in meditation, lying down will present a problem. This type of meditation is not dynamic or active. His blood circulation will not function properly and a very subtle kind of drowsiness will attack him. But when he is in a sitting position, drowsiness cannot assail him. The very act of lying down takes us into the world of coma. Then what happens is that we feel we are meditating most sincerely and dynamically but we are wrong. I had a cousin who is now twenty-five or twenty-six years old. She used to tell us that every night she would meditate at least ten hours while lying down. My sisters used to enter into her room and find her snoring. They would then pull her hair, nose and so many things. But she would not wake up. The following morning she would say that she meditated the whole night. She did not have conscious meditation. It was an unconscious way of feeling that she was meditating. Meditation is very good; but this kind of meditation while lying down tends to lead towards self-deception about one's own spirituality. It is better to meditate while sitting or even standing. While walking up and down, to and fro, you can also meditate. I used to meditate in a very relaxed way two or three hours or more while walking very fast, like the marching of a soldier.

Two machines

Father, I need
From You only two machines:
Concern-machine
And
Compassion-machine.

"Son, you need two
Machines from me,
But
I need only one machine
From you:
Surrender-machine.
Let us give and take
And be all even."

Question: I don't seem to feel comfortable and relaxed while meditating in a sitting position.

Sri Chinmoy: Everybody has a room where he can meditate. He may not own a house or apartment but he certainly has a room. In one corner of that room he can have a shrine where he can sit and meditate. When the body feels uncomfortable it will change its position and it is up to you to keep it comfortable. If there is restlessness though, immediately relaxation goes away. If you constantly move from this side to that side, how can you have relaxation? In order to maintain relaxation one has to keep calmness in the body and avoid restlessness at all costs.

Question: Is the lotus position the most comfortable one for meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: According to some the lotus position is the most comfortable and again according to some it is not. The main advantage of the lotus position is that it helps the spinal cord to remain erect. Otherwise, the lotus position will not necessarily keep your body relaxed. We can stay for two or three hours in the lotus position, but if one wants to meditate for four, six or eight hours, I don't think he will be able to sit for that long in the lotus position, but he can make his body relaxed in many other ways such as walking in a relaxed manner or sitting in a relaxed manner.

Question: I read a book about concentration and meditation that said one should pay attention to the direction one faces while meditating, whether East, West, North or South. If one wants spiritual things and a quiet life, one should always face North. If one wants worldly things one should face East.

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the individual. A sincere spiritual seeker who wants to realise God and God alone does not need any particular direction. He has to be infinitely above all such Indian traditional theories. For God-realisation what we actually need is aspiration in the purest sense of the term.

Question: I wonder if you could tell me something about inner discipline.

Sri Chinmoy: Discipline should come from inside. Outer discipline is necessary, but if there is no inner discipline, then outer discipline has no value. Outwardly I may be calm and quiet, but inwardly I can be cherishing all kinds of wrong thoughts.

If you want spiritual discipline, then you have to know how to concentrate. Concentration is of paramount importance in disciplining us. Every day you eat. Every day you go to school and every day without fail you should practise concentration. What will you concentrate on? You will concentrate on the life that is fulfilling and not the life that is disturbing or destructive. What can build your life? Your cry for God. If you want to possess the world, then you will not be able to discipline yourself. If you want only to be possessed by the Inner Pilot, by the Supreme, then only you will be able to discipline yourself.

Question: To start meditation, do you discipline yourself through will or do you joyfully start?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul is a divine portion of God and is all joy and cheerfulness. Now, if you start your meditation through discipline and keep your body very tight and straight, as if a monkey who is full of evil thoughts is trying to bite or pinch you, it is wrong. By doing this you become afraid and you only keep yourself tense. What you should do when you meditate is to allow yourself to be relaxed, keeping the spinal cord erect. The best way is to meditate in the lotus position, but if you cannot do this, then just sit on a chair.

God is all Love and Joy. The most effective way to please God and to become one with God is to approach Him through Love. And where there is Love, there is Joy. To go to my Father I do not have to cut off my hands or arms to show how self-disciplined I am. That is no discipline at all. Discipline comes through spontaneous love. When we allow our divine qualities to come to the fore, automatically the soul takes care of our outer life. We just have to go deep within and from there we shall have to bring out the soul's poise. When the soul's poise come to the fore, automatically the restless outer being becomes calm and quiet. So please try to meditate always with inner joy.

Three sons

Three sons:
The youngest, the middle and the eldest.

The youngest son said:
"Father is in Heaven."

The middle son said:
"The Kingdom of Heaven is in your heart."

The eldest son said:
"I and my Father are one."

To the youngest son, the Father said:
"Son, thank you for your vision."

To the middle son, the Father said:
"Son, thank you for your mission."

To the eldest son, the Father said:
"Son, thank you for your union."

Question: When you meditate, do you reject thoughts or do you think?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two types of thoughts: divine thoughts and undivine thoughts. If a thought is divine you can let it grow. Let the seed grow into a tender plant, and finally it will become a huge banyan tree. Undivine thoughts should be rejected altogether. If thoughts are undivine, you have to destroy them, or, if you are able to show abundant capacity, you should transform them. If you have the capacity to transform darkness into Light, you should do it, but if it is not possible, then you should always try to stay in the room where there is Light.

Unfortunately, in the case of beginners I have seen that undivine thoughts always enter in. Fear, doubt, jealousy and hypocrisy enter into the beginners aspiring life, so it is advisable for a beginner to reject all thoughts mercilessly during meditation. For fifteen minutes he may cherish divine, aspiring, spiritual thoughts, and then in just a fleeting second an undivine thought will enter and his meditation will be ruined. The best thing for beginners is not to allow any thoughts, good or bad, during meditation.

What are you doing?

God, what are You doing
In Heaven today?
"Son, today I have decided
To please you in your own way.
Son, I am sincere."

"Son, what are you doing
On earth today?"
Father, today I have decided
To challenge You,
To equal You.
Father, I am serious.

Question: How do you go about emptying your mind in order to be able to meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: First, you have to aspire. Then, you have to make your mind vacant. You should not allow any thought to enter into your mind and take shape. Suppose a name comes. As soon as the first letter of the name appears, you kill the name. You have to make your mind vacant, as empty as possible.

Question: How do you do it?

Sri Chinmoy: With your power of concentration. Suppose a thought, or a vibration, or something else is coming. Immediately, shoot an arrow and pierce it into pieces. An idea comes, somebody's name comes, or some thought comes. Immediately, just throw it out. It must not come and enter into your mind. Before it touches your mind you have to cut it into pieces. But if you already have thoughts and ideas within you, within your body, within your mind, then you have to meditate like this: be as relaxed as possible. Feel as if you were inside the ocean. Then absorb those thoughts and ideas so they do not have a separate existence. They are lost in the sea. If they are already within you, throw them into the sea. If they are coming from outside, then do not allow them to enter into you. After doing this your meditation is bound to be successful.

Question: Can we do our meditation without doing concentration exercises first?

Sri Chinmoy: If you want to learn meditation without going through concentration, you must feel that you are standing at the door of your inner room. When you stand at the door you allow only your friends to enter into your room. You do not allow strangers or your enemies.

You have to welcome only good thoughts, divine thoughts. These are your true friends. Undivine thoughts, hostile thoughts, must not come into your mind. Your mind is constantly receiving thoughts and you have to be very careful. You have to welcome only divine thoughts. Then play with these divine thoughts. Let them play in the garden of your mind. Play with thoughts of divine qualities, divine Love, divine Power or divine Peace. Let them play, let them grow. While playing you will grow into the divine aspects of Truth. Then a time will come when you will see that there are no thoughts, if you allow only divine thoughts to play within you. Your entire being will be surcharged with inner Divinity. Your consciousness at that time will try only to be receptive. And what will descend, what will enter into you? Truth in abundant measure, Light in abundant measure, Love in abundant measure, everything in infinite measure.

Question: I am a musician and I would like to know your ideas on concentration. When we study music we realise that we need a great deal of concentration. I would like to know how you develop concentration.

Sri Chinmoy: I would like to know what you mean by concentration.

Question: To me, concentration is awareness. The more I can concentrate on something, the more aware I am of it, the more I can grasp all the details. If I am not concentrating enough on something, I cannot understand it completely. I feel concentration also means leaving oneself a little to the side, but I would like to know your opinion.

Sri Chinmoy: Concentration is not the same as awareness. If you want to achieve extraordinary concentration, please try this. Take an idea and try to make this idea into a living being. Then place it on the wall at your eye level. If it is too difficult to use an idea, then take some material object and place it on the wall. Keep your eyes open. It is always better to concentrate with open eyes. Look at the object and start concentrating. Now enter into the object. You have to apply all your attention and pierce through the object to the other side. When you have gone to the other side, from there start concentrating. You are there, your body is here. You start concentrating from the other side and from there look at your own body.

First you try to focus your attention on a particular object, then you enter into it, then you go beyond it. At this time you become the witness, or sakshi purusha. This is real concentration. This is the secret of meditation. If you know it you can concentrate most effectively.

Question: To be one's witness is the secret?

Sri Chinmoy: One's own witness.

Question: It is very difficult in that way?

Sri Chinmoy: It is difficult.

Question: It is as if you were there, standing there looking at yourself?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, but first you have to enter into the object and then go beyond it. Then you come back to yourself and become the witness.

Why do you hide?

Lord, I seek and You hide.
I seek because without You
My life-flames do not and cannot burn.
Now Lord, tell me,
Why do You hide?

"Daughter, I hide because
My hiding intensifies your seeking.
It gratifies your loving,
Glorifies your achievement
And immortalises your enlightenment."

Question: I'd like to develop better concentration so that I can keep my mind focused on one thought.

Sri Chinmoy: Before you start your meditation I wish you to repeat the name of God, "Supreme", about twenty times as fast as possible. First purify your breath by repeating "Supreme." The breath has to be purified; unless and until the breath is purified, the mind will wander and cannot remain one-pointed. If the breath is purified, then the mind will not act like a restless monkey.

Then I wish you to concentrate on your inner divinity. Always try to feel that you are safe when you are with God, with divinity. Let God and the divine qualities within you act against your human, undivine qualities. When you use the word "God," please try to feel your real love for God. When you are concentrating, feel that you are really growing into God, into the very breath of God. Then your concentration is bound to do something for you.

Next I would like you to focus your attention on a picture. You can look at my picture or you can look at yourself in the mirror. If you concentrate on your own reflection, try to enter into the image that you are seeing. You have to feel that you are totally one with the physical being that you see. From there you should try to grow. How will you grow? You will grow with one thought: God wants you and you need God. Repeat: "God wants me, I need God. God wants me, I need God." Please try to do this. Then you will see that slowly, steadily and gradually God the divine thought is entering into you and permeating your inner and outer existence, giving you purity in your mind, in your vital and in your body.

Question: How do you apply that way of concentrating to a chapter of a book that you have to study?

Sri Chinmoy: Do not take it line by line. When you concentrate on a chapter it will be several pages, but you can only see two pages at a time. But this is what you do. Suppose there are ten pages that you have to commit to memory. Just hold these pages; do not read them. Just enter into them and then go beyond them. Before you start reading anything in an ordinary way, word by word or line by line, just concentrate and take it as a whole object, not scattered lines or a series of lines. Then concentration is very successful. Then it becomes very easy to learn anything by heart. Here the witness is the person who does the concentration. When I was a student, at the age of fourteen or fifteen, in my history class I used to commit thirty or forty pages at a time to memory by the power of concentration. The teacher used to ask me, "How do you do it?" Of course, I could do it in various ways. There are a few Sanskrit mantras for this. If you just repeat these mantras four or five times, then just read any poem twice, a fourteen or sixteen or twenty-line poem, and you can easily prove that you have learnt it by heart.

Question: I would like you to teach me that mantra.

Sri Chinmoy: When I was a student I had to study French. One of my sisters was very fond of me and at the same time she used to cut jokes with me. We had to learn a French poem, about twelve lines. I was the youngest, so naturally I was bragging, boasting, "Look, I can do it!" My sister also knew French well. She said, "No, you can never do it." So I said, "Look, I will read twice any poem that you give me. Then I will show you that I know it." She brought the book, and picked out a very difficult poem of sixteen lines. She said, "Now you have to prove that you read it just twice. You have to read it out loud, otherwise how can I know how many times you are reading it inwardly?" I said, "First give me a minute. When I start reading I will read it out twice, but before that you have to give me time to concentrate." So in front of her I concentrated. Then I said, "Now give me the poem." She brought it and I read it just twice and then I recited it. She was very pleased, and then she said, "Now teach me." I said, "I am not the person to teach you."

The difficulty is that unless and until you are commanded by the inner being, or by God, you cannot tell these things. My sister is my dearest, but I cannot tell her because I am forbidden. In other things I can give my whole life for my sister, but this I am not permitted to tell. Once I gave this mantra to one of my friends, a most ordinary friend. He was a student, but he found it very difficult to memorise. He was very dull, so I taught him, gave him this knowledge. God asked me, otherwise I could not have done it.

Question: How can we meditate better each time?

Sri Chinmoy: You know that each time you take exercise your muscles become stronger and stronger. If you can do one push-up one day, the next day you will try to make it two push-ups, and then you go on and on increasing daily. You come to thirty or forty push-ups. Then a time will come when you can do fifty. Let us say fifty is your maximum, that is your highest. Then what will happen? The Grace of the Supreme will allow you to make it fifty-one. You see the world records in the Olympics. They are all broken. The Olympic record of four years ago is shattered like a piece of glass. So you should practice every day to transcend your previous achievement.

If you want to make your meditation better, you have to feel a need, a divine need. You have to know how close you want to become to God. You have to have the inner cry to be inside His Consciousness all the time, to be totally merged in Him. If you have that kind of feeling, then try to feel that today you are a hundred steps away from your Goal, and that tomorrow you will be only ninety-nine steps away.

Question: Is meditation our duty?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. We should try to feel our daily duty to the Supreme's mission in our morning meditation. All our activities should be directed towards our supreme duty. When you are at work in the outer world, during the day, you have to feel that it is your duty to aspire. You have to know how many minutes you are in a divine consciousness. It is your duty to work and support yourself and pay attention to your household responsibilities. But this is not enough. This is your human duty. If while you are working your mind, your consciousness, is on God, then you are thinking of the divine duty. When divine thought and divine action go together, divine thought will act like a pioneer; it is immediately followed by action. Immediately duty is performed. You have to feel your outer actions are inspired by divine thought, divine knowledge, divine Light. Then it will be divine duty. Otherwise it is only a waste of time from the spiritual point of view.

Question: What do you mean when you say that dedication is meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Dedication to whom? When you feel you are giving something to someone, helping people, this is not dedication. Dedication means feeling God's conscious presence in the other person. If you are working and at that time you are feeling God's conscious presence, this dedication is a form of meditation. But if you feel that you have some capacity to inspire or help someone even though you do not see God's presence inside that person, then you are only aggrandising your ego by letting it tell you that you have more inner wealth than the other person. If you are doing something and at the same time feeling God's Presence in the work itself, then that dedication is meditation. But if just because of your own ego, you feel that you are a little better or superior and you are going to the other person to help him, then that is no dedication, that is no real meditation at all.

Question: What happens if after meditating for a while, you decide you want to take a rest and then continue your journey at a later time?

Sri Chinmoy: In the ordinary life, after you have covered one mile you can remain where you are for a while and take rest before continuing on your journey. But, in the spiritual life it is not like that. In the spiritual life, once you take rest, doubt enters into you, fear enters into you, suspicion enters into you. All kinds of negative forces enter into you and destroy all your possibilities. Your potentiality remains the same; eventually, you will realise God. But the possibilities that you once had, the golden possibilities, you have lost. If you stop meditating and leave the spiritual life, the progress that you have made will be destroyed. People will not receive a good vibration from you; nobody will get inspiration from you; you won't be able to give your soul's smile. You will fall back to your old ways and be lost to ignorance. However, the essence of the progress that you made remains inside the soul. The essence is never lost, even though in your outer life you cannot use it. The quintessence of the progress that you made will remain inside your heart, and after five or ten years, when you want to meditate again, or in your next incarnation, this quintessence will come to the fore. If you pray to God most sincerely to enter into the spiritual life again, your previous progress will loom large in your life.

So always be on the alert and run as fast as you can towards your Goal. Do not stop until the race is won; otherwise, the pull of ignorance will take you back again to the place from which you started.

Question: Do you pray sometimes?

Sri Chinmoy: To be quite frank with you, I do not pray. And also, I have no need for meditation, but I do meditate for my disciples. After one has realised the highest Truth, one has no need to pray or meditate. But I have a few hundred disciples, and I meditate for them as I used to meditate for myself more than twenty years ago. When I meditate on them, prayer is automatically there, because I am trying to help them in their spiritual awakening, in their spiritual aspiration and realisation. In deep meditation, prayer is present.

Question: Is there a method whereby if one does not have patience for meditation, he could use hypnosis or self-hypnosis instead to quiet the mind so his soul can come forward?

Sri Chinmoy: To try and approach meditation by way of hypnosis is dangerous and negative. The better way is to dive deep into yourself. Through hypnosis one doesn't go into himself. When all other aspects of the person, the heart, the vital, the physical, join in really going deeply into one's soul, then there is a chance of quieting the mind. The human mind though can never convince the soul. There is no reason for the soul to be enticed by the mind. The soul does not push. The soul has infinite patience. But sometimes, if it is God's Will, the body vital and heart can force the mind to diminish its activity.

Question: Do you feel pain while you are meditating? Do you feel any pain? If someone hit you, would you feel pain?

Sri Chinmoy: If it is the highest type of meditation, we will not feel any pain because at that time we are not in the body, but in the soul. If our consciousness is in the physical, if somebody pinches us immediately we will feel pain. But if we are in the soul, we will not be affected. The soul is the divine part in us, the divine Light, which is the representative of God. This soul cannot be disturbed, cannot be destroyed. It is something in us that is immortal. When we are doing our highest meditation, we are not in the physical, we are in the soul. We become one with the soul.

Here we are living in ignorance. That is why somebody can come and strike us. But if a person is in the Light, he will not bother us. He will not disturb us. He will never pinch us. On the contrary, when he sees that we are meditating, he will come and also start meditating with us because he feels that we are doing something good, something divine. Naturally, he also wants to do the same things so that he can be a divine child.

If I can

If I can,
I shall speak to God about you.

If I can,
I shall beg God
To grant you an interview.

If I can,
I shall ask God
To simplify your long and arduous task.

If I can,
I shall ask God to grant you
His Nectar-flood.

Editor's preface to the first edition

Mystics the world over have always practised meditation to attain the exalted states of illumination and ecstasy of which every seeker has heard. Meditation is indispensable for every spiritual aspirant; indeed it is the path itself. Meditation is not only a discipline or a technique. It is an experience perpetually expanding into a universe of spiritual consciousness. But to scale the heights to which meditation can take us, we must begin our ascent step by step from the ground where we now stand.

In this volume Sri Chinmoy answers questions asked by beginners on meditation, and offers basic instructions in methods of meditation. He also offers his explanations, issuing from his all-embracing inner vision, of many vivid experiences individual seekers have during their meditation.