Meditation: humanity's race and Divinity's Grace, part 2
I playWhen I meditate
Inside a mountain cave,
I play with God's secret Soul.
When I meditate
At the foot of a banyan tree,
I play with God's vast Sky.
When I meditate
Inside my heart,
I play with God's sacred Breath.
Part I — Meditation: pathway to the inner world
Meditation: an introductionWhy do we meditate? We meditate precisely because we need something. And what is that something? That something is the conscious feeling of our oneness with the Supreme. This need must be spontaneous, genuine and soulful.
Let me start with the ABC's of meditation. The best way to meditate is to sit cross-legged on a small cushion or rug. The spine and the neck must be kept erect. If it is not possible for some of you to sit that way, then please try, if you are sitting on a chair, to sit with your entire back straight and erect.
If you want to meditate at home, please try to keep a sacred place, a corner of your room, absolutely pure and sanctified. And please wear clean and light clothes. In order to have the utmost purity, it is extremely helpful to bathe before meditation, but if you are unable to take a bath or shower before sitting down to meditate, you should at least wash your face and your feet. If possible, please burn incense at the time of your meditation, and place one flower, any flower, in front of you.
When you are meditating at home, if it is possible, please meditate all alone. This rule does not apply to husband and wife if they have the same spiritual Master; they can meditate together. Also close spiritual friends who understand each other thoroughly in their inner lives can meditate together. Otherwise it is not advisable to meditate with others. In our Centre, however, the disciples should and do meditate collectively, since collective meditation is of paramount importance also. But for individual daily meditation, I feel it is better if one meditates in one's own room, privately, even in secret.
It is helpful during your meditation to have in front of you a picture of the Christ or some other spiritually beloved figure whom you regard as your Master. Those who are my disciples will have a picture of me taken when I was in my own highest Consciousness. There I am absolutely One with my Inner Pilot. I tell my disciples, when they meditate on the picture, "Either you enter into me or allow me to enter into you. Then I shall meditate on your behalf."
Sometimes people ask me what they should do if they are restless and don't have a good meditation. If any of you find it difficult to meditate on a particular day, then do not try to force yourself. If you are my disciple, just look at my picture — at my eyes, or my forehead, or even at my nose. Just look. If you belong to someone else, or if you have no Guru, but you do have a picture of a peaceful scene to concentrate on, please concentrate on that and do not try to force yourself to meditate. Then, when you get up for your daily work, do not feel miserable that you could not meditate. If you feel that your Inner Being is displeased with you or if you are displeased with yourself, then you are making a great mistake. If you cannot meditate on a particular day, try to give the responsibility for this to me, if you are my disciple, or to the Supreme. If you feel sorry or despondent, the progress that you made yesterday or the day before will be nullified.
In order to meditate properly, purity is of utmost importance. How can we be pure? To try to control our senses and conquer our passions cannot bring us the purity we want and need. The hungry lion that lives in our senses and the hungry tiger that lives in our passions will not leave us by the mere repetition of the thought, "I shall control my senses and conquer my passions." This approach is of no avail.
What we must do is to fix our mind on God. To our utter amazement, our lion and tiger, now tamed, will leave us of their own accord when they see that we have become too poor to feed them. But, as a matter of fact, we don't become poor in the least. On the contrary, we become infinitely stronger and richer, for God's Will energises our body, mind and heart. To fix our body, mind and heart on the Divine is the right approach. The closer we are to the Light, the further we are from the Darkness.
Purity does not come all at once. It takes time. We must dive deep and lose ourselves with implicit faith in contemplation on God. We need not go to purity. Purity will come to us. And purity does not come alone. It brings an everlasting joy with it. This divine joy is the sole purpose of our life. God reveals Himself fully and manifests Himself unreservedly only when we have this inner joy.
The world gives us desires. God gives us prayers. The world gives us bondage. God gives us freedom: freedom from limitation, freedom from ignorance.
We are the player. We can play either football or cricket. We have a free choice. Similarly, it is we who can choose to play with either purity or impurity. The player is the master of the game and not vice versa.
Let nothing perturb us. Let our body's impurity remind us of our heart's spontaneous purity. Let our outer finite thoughts remind us of our inner infinite Will. Let our mind's teeming imperfections remind us of our soul's limitless Perfection.
The present-day world is full of impurity. It seems that purity is a currency from another world. It is hard to obtain this purity, but once we get it, peace is ours, success is ours.
Let us face the world. Let us take life as it comes. Our Inner Pilot is constantly vigilant. The undercurrents of our inner and spiritual life will always flow on unnoticed, unobstructed, unafraid.
God may be unknown but He is not unknowable. Our prayers and meditation lead us to that unknown. Freedom we cry for. But strangely enough, we are not aware of the fact that we already have within us immense freedom. Look! Without any difficulty we can forget God. We can ignore Him and we can even deny Him. But God's Compassion says, "My children, no matter what you do or say, My Heart shall never abandon you. I want you. I need you."
The mother holds the hand of the child. But it is the child who has to walk, and he does so. Neither the one who is dragged nor the one who drags can be happy. Likewise God says, "My divine children, in your inner life, I give you inspiration. It is you who have to aspire with the purest heart to reach the Golden Beyond."
What I needImagination
I need to think of God.
I need to meditate on God.
I need to realise God.
I need to proclaim God.
I need to become another God.
Question: Could you please tell us the difference between concentration, meditation and contemplation?Sri Chinmoy: When we concentrate we do not allow any thought to enter into our minds, whether it is divine or undivine, earthly or heavenly, good or bad. The mind, the entire mind, has to be focused on a particular object or subject. If you are concentrating on the petal of a flower, try to feel that only you and the petal exist, that nothing else exists in the entire world but you and the petal. You will look neither forward nor backward, upward nor inward. You will just try to pierce the object that you are focussing on with your one-pointed concentration. But this concentration is not an aggressive way of looking into a thing or entering into an object. Far from it! This concentration comes directly from the heart, or, more precisely, from the soul. We call it the soul's indomitable Will, or Willpower.
Very often I hear aspirants say that they cannot concentrate for more than five minutes. After five minutes they get a headache or feel that their head is on fire. Why? It is because the power of their concentration is coming from the intellectual mind or, you can say, the disciplined mind. The mind knows that it must not wander; that much knowledge the mind has. But if the mind is to be utilised properly, in an illumined way, then the light of the soul has to come into it. When the light of the soul has entered the mind, it is extremely easy to concentrate on something for two or three hours or as long as you want. During this time there can be no thoughts or doubts or fears. No negative forces can enter into your mind if it is surcharged with the soul's light.
So when you concentrate, try to feel that the power of concentration comes from here, the heart centre, and then goes up to the third eye. The heart centre is where the soul is located. The physical heart is tiny, but the spiritual heart — your true home — is vaster than the universe. When you think of your soul at this time, please do not form any specific idea of it or try to think of what it looks like. Just think of it as God's representative, as boundless Light and Delight, which is in your heart. The Light comes from your heart and passes through your third eye, and then you enter into the object of your concentration and have your identification with it. The final stage of concentration is to discover the hidden ultimate truth in the object of concentration.
What concentration can do in our day-to-day life is unimaginable. Concentration is the surest way to reach our goal, whether the goal be God-realisation or merely the fulfilment of human desires. It is concentration that acts like an arrow and enters into the target. He who is wanting in the power of concentration is no better than a monkey. A real aspirant sooner or later acquires the power of concentration either through the Grace of God, through constant practise or through his aspiration. Each seeker can declare that he has a divine hero, a divine warrior, within himself. And what is that divine warrior? It is his concentration.
When we concentrate, we have to concentrate on one particular thing. If I am concentrating on a certain disciple, then he will be the only thing in my mind, nothing else. He becomes, at that time, the sole object of my attention. But when we meditate, we feel that we have the capacity deep within us to see many, deal with many, welcome many — all at the same time. When we meditate, we have to try to expand our consciousness to encompass the vast sea or the vast, blue sky. We have to expand ourselves like a bird spreading its wings. We have to expand our finite consciousness and enter into the universal Consciousness where there is no fear, no jealousy, no doubt, but all Joy, Peace and divine Power.
When we meditate, what we actually do is enter into a vacant, calm, still, silent mind. We go deep within and approach our true existence, which is our soul. When we live in the soul, we feel that we are actually meditating spontaneously. The surface of the sea is a multitude of waves, but the sea below is not affected. In the deepest depths, at the bottom of the sea, it is all tranquillity. So when you start meditating, try to feel your own inner existence is like the bottom of the sea — calm and quiet. Feel that your whole being is surcharged with peace and tranquillity.
Then let the waves come from the outside world. Fear, doubt, worry — the earthly turmoils — will all be washed away, because inside is solid peace. You cannot be afraid of anything when you are in your highest meditation. Your mind is all peace, all silence, all oneness. If thoughts or ideas want to come in, you control them with your inner peace, for they will not be able to affect you. Like fish in the sea, they jump and swim but leave no mark on the water. Like birds flying in the sky, they leave no trace behind them. When you meditate, feel that you are the sea, and all the animals in the sea do not affect you. Feel that you are the sky, and all the birds flying past do not affect you. Feel that your mind is the vast sky and your heart is the infinite ocean. That is meditation.
When we are in meditation, we want only to commune with God. Now I am speaking in English and you are able to understand me because you know English well. Similarly, when you know how to meditate well, you will be able to commune with God, for meditation is the language we use to speak to God.
Through concentration we become one-pointed and through meditation we expand our consciousness into the Vast. But in contemplation we grow into the Vast itself. We have seen the Truth. We have felt the Truth. But the most important thing is to grow into the Truth and become totally one with the Truth. If we are concentrating on God, we may feel God right in front of us or beside us. When we are meditating, we are bound to feel Infinity, Eternity and Immortality within us. But when we are contemplating, we will see that we ourselves are Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. Contemplation means our conscious oneness with the infinite, eternal Absolute. In contemplation we discover ourselves. When we contemplate, Creator and creation become one. We become one with the Creator and see the whole universe at our feet, the whole universe inside us. At that time, when we look at our own existence, we don't see a human being. We see something like a dynamo of Light, Peace and Bliss.
One should concentrate for a few minutes each day before entering into meditation. You are like a runner who has to clear the track: see if there are any obstacles and then remove them. Then when you begin meditating, feel that you are running very fast, with all obstacles out of your way. You are like an express train, an inner train, that only stops at the final destination. Then, when you reach the Goal, you have to become the Goal. This is the last stage, contemplation. Seekers who are just entering onto the spiritual path should start with concentration, for a few months at least, and then enter into meditation. Then they must meditate for a few years and finally enter into contemplation.
The supermanYou are the superman of meditation.
God loves you.
God loves you because you are great.
He is the superman of action.
God loves him.
God loves him because he is good.
I am the superman of frustration.
God loves me.
God loves me because I am helpless.
Question: I would like to know the difference between prayer and meditation.Sri Chinmoy: The difference between prayer and meditation is this: prayer is something absolutely intense and upward-soaring, while meditation is wide and vast, expanding itself ultimately into the Infinite. When we pray, we feel a vibration from the soles of our feet to the crown of our head. Our whole being is praying, invoking, calling upward. Where meditation is concerned, we throw ourselves into a vast expanse, into a sea of Peace, a sea of Delight, into Infinity; or we welcome the infinite Vast into us.
In prayer, we feel a one-pointed flame rising and soaring upward. The very nature of prayer is to reach God by going up. Our entire existence is going up like a flame. Even if we pray to God for humanity, for the entire world, we will see that by the very nature of prayer, we are going up. Prayer is intense and ardent. It does not usually spread. But meditation does spread; in fact, it is immediate expansion. Meditation, like the wings of a bird, is always spreading, widening into Peace, Light and Delight. The entire universe of Light and Delight we see, feel and grow into when we meditate.
Whenever we pray, there is a subtle desire or aspiration for something. We pray to become good, or to have something divine which we do not now have, or to be free from fear, danger, doubt and so on. There is the feeling of being — let us use the term — a divine beggar. We are praying because we need something. Even when we pray for Peace, Light and Bliss, there is still a certain feeling of demand. Sometimes there is a personal feeling of give-and-take and the prayer takes this form: "I am bringing my prayer to You, Lord. I am giving, Lord. So You please do something for me. You please save me, help me, fulfil me."
But in meditation we do not do that. We just allow ourselves consciously to enter into the effulgence of Light, or we invoke the universal Light to transform our ignorance into wisdom. The aspirant who has become successful in his meditation and has been able to enter into the deeper regions of Infinity or Eternity, does not pray the way we pray in churches or synagogues or temples. In his meditation, he enters into the divine consciousness and leaves everything in God's Hands. Here we see the true surrendering attitude. The seeker feels it is not necessary to ask God for anything, since his divine Father knows exactly what he needs and when to give it to him. He lets God do what is best for him, what will allow him to manifest God in God's own way. In the deepest meditation, the seeker just enters into his own infinite aspect. He dives deep into what he already has: an inseparable oneness with his eternal Father. Then it is his Father's business to do what is best for him or give him what is best for him.
Now I wish to say something which you Westerners may not like. According to strict Indian philosophy and Yoga, prayer is not on the same level as meditation. It is a lesser form of aspiration than meditation. Some yogis have stated that prayer is just a beginning for sincere seekers who aspire to later enter into deeper meditation.
For the real seeker, I must say that meditation is more important than prayer. But prayer is also of great importance. I will never say that prayer is not needed at all. Prayer is needed, but if one meditates, then it is easier to attain the universal Consciousness or the unlimited Consciousness. When one prays, he most often has a definite objective in mind. But when one meditates, he is encompassing and embracing the entire universe. One has to know what one wants from life. If one wants Infinity, Eternity and Immortality — infinite Peace, Light and Bliss — then meditation will be of greater and more immediate help.
Question: Do meditation and concentration have anything to do with the power of the mind?Sri Chinmoy: No. They have nothing to do with it. The mind which you refer to is the average human mind. This mind thinks one thing one moment and another the next. It is always full of ideas and thoughts. It is just like a monkey, continuously in motion, pinching and biting. With this mind we cannot meditate or contemplate. We have to go beyond the mind in order to perceive Peace, Light and Bliss.
Three most significant thingsJust go to sleep
And don't complain.
God will think of you.
Just go to sleep
And don't complain.
God will meditate on you.
Just go to sleep
And don't complain.
God will do everything for you.
He has already done
Significant things for you:
He calls you 'son'.
He has given you
The message of Liberation.
He has given you the key
To unlock the Palace of Perfection.
Is my Father's Light.
Is my Mother's Light.
Shall be my own Light.
Part II — The journey's start
Question: I would like to ask you how to develop these processes of meditation? For someone who has never done anything like this before, how do you begin?Sri Chinmoy: If you are an absolute beginner, then you have to start by reading spiritual books, written by spiritual Masters and not by so-called professors and scholars, because the spiritual Masters are offering their own realisation in the form of writing. The scholars and professors, on the other hand, borrow the light from the Masters' writings and, with their mental capacities, they elaborate. So if you study their books, it is like the blind leading the blind, for they have not realised the Truth and they cannot offer the Truth. Whereas the Masters have realised the Truth, and they have the capacity to offer the Truth provided the seeker is willing to receive it the way the Master wants to offer it.
If you study their books, then you will get inspiration. But inspiration is not enough. You will feel the necessity for someone who can guide you in the path of spirituality, because if there is no guidance, you are apt to make mistakes. One is inspired to do something, but that doesn't mean that he will be able to do the thing correctly. I am inspired to run, but if someone has not taught me how to run properly, how to take big strides and how to move my hands and all that, then naturally I will not be able to run fast.
And then, while running, there will come a time when one feels that he has to run in a particular lane. If the runner is constantly changing lanes, then he will be disqualified even though he is running fast. For he is disturbing others, and others are entering into his lane, and there will be calamity. So there is the necessity of a particular lane, a particular path. In the spiritual life, one must choose a path. Otherwise, if one is constantly changing his path — today this path, tomorrow that path, the day after something else — then he is only confusing matters, and he won't be able to run fast.
When you start your journey as an absolute beginner, then you have to read books written by spiritual Masters. Then you have to have guidance from a Master in whom you have faith, and follow his path. If you study with him, then you have to follow his path. If you feel the necessity of individual concentration, individual attention, then you have to get a personal meditation from the Master. The Master will give general meditation instruction in his books; or during his talks he will say, "Make the mind calm and quiet," or he will give secrets of meditation in general. But if you want to become closer to the Master, or if you feel that getting a specific meditation from the Master will help you make fastest progress, you should follow his path.
Question: Could you please give a step-by-step description of how a beginner on your path should meditate on God?Sri Chinmoy: From the spiritual point of view, you have to know that everybody is a beginner at a particular stage. He who is studying in kindergarten is a beginner for his development and growth. Again, he who is studying for his Master's degree is also a beginner in the eyes of one who has attained it and gone beyond. Each disciple is a beginner in that respect. The moment you want to surpass yourself and enter into the Beyond, you are a beginner. Today's goal is tomorrow's starting point. But I will answer your question in a different way because you mean a beginner who has just entered into the spiritual path.
Early in the morning, when you sit down to meditate, take three very deep, slow, steady breaths, and while you are breathing in, offer your soulful gratitude to the Supreme. Why? For several reasons. We all sleep at night. We take rest and our nerves are energised. But when it is a matter of conscious aspiration, sleep is half-death. We do not consciously aspire at all in ordinary sleep. While we are sleeping we have made a half-friendship with death, and for eight or ten hours we have entered into death's door, where there is no creativity. Who brings us back from sleep? God. How? He tells us inwardly, "Children, it is time for you to get up." Like an employer He takes us to be His instruments again the following day. The Supreme has a cosmic plan. In His plan He expects us to play some conscious role each day. He could have allowed us to sleep. If He had not given us the inward urge, we would have slept until twelve o'clock, midday. There are people who have no aspiration and who get up very late. But there is a vast difference between those people and sincere seekers. For this difference, we are grateful to the Supreme, for He has chosen us to get up and meditate.
There is a second reason to offer gratitude. Out of so many millions of people, why has God given aspiration to us and not to others? Why has He chosen only a few thousand out of so many millions? For this boon, too, we should offer our conscious gratitude to Him early every morning.
After offering our gratitude, we can begin meditation. Think of the Supreme as a human being. If you take Him as a personal God, especially in the beginning, it becomes easier and safer. If you want to see God in the impersonal aspect, you will be confused by its immensity. Inside us is the soul, which has boundless capacity. Let us take the soul as the impersonal God, and the body as the personal God. Now the strength that the soul has as an impersonal God is expressed through the physical. If the soul wants to express its beauty, it will express it in the physical. If the soul wants to manifest its strength, it will give us strength.
When the beginner meditates early in the morning, he should meditate on the Feet of the personal God. He should feel that with utmost love and devotion he is touching somebody who is infinitely greater than he is. And while touching his feet, he should try to become one with that person. What is the purpose of touching his feet? Someone may be so tall that you cannot touch his head, but when you touch his feed immediately you get the feeling of devotion and humility. When you touch his feet you consider him as your very own. If you feel that he is your very own, then your devotion gets dynamic power and enters into activity. So when we feel that the Supreme has a human form and that He is our very own, only then do we have the joy of identification. Only then do we feel inseparable oneness and boundless joy.
When you feel that someone is your very own, you try to give that person something of yourself. He gives you what he has and you give him what you have. How does this exchange take place? It is through the light of the eyes. A spiritual Master represents the personal God for those who have become his disciples. When the Master looks at the disciple and the disciple looks at the Master, what happens? The Master looks at the disciple with soulful compassion, and the disciple looks at the Master with soulful adoration. The Master as the personal Supreme has all compassion, and the disciple has all adoration. This is the wealth that they give to one another. Here they meet and come together.
Start with faith; start with the feeling that your Master is great. If he is not great, then why have you accepted him? You should be able to offer yourself to him with the feeling that he has surpassed you in everything, that he has in infinite measure everything you need. This lesson is for the beginner, but it can be applied even by the highest beginner. It is applicable to everybody who is trying to go a step beyond.
To end your meditation you can repeat "AUM" or "Supreme," or your Master's name — whatever inspires you most. Then your meditation is over.
I live in the thought-world
Is my slow end.
I live in the will-world
Is my quick start,
Question: How can we learn to meditate? I believe in God, but it is very hard for me to meditate.Sri Chinmoy: The best way to begin to learn how to meditate is to associate with people who have been meditating for some time. These people are not in a position to teach you, but they are in a position to inspire you. If you have some friends who know how to meditate, just sit beside them while they are meditating. Unconsciously your inner being will be able to derive some meditative power from them. You are not stealing anything from them, but your inner being is taking help from them without your outer knowledge.
If you want to be under the guidance of a spiritual Master, the Master's silent gaze will teach you how to meditate. The Master does not have to explain outwardly how to meditate or give you a specific form of meditation or a mantra. He will simply meditate on you and inwardly teach you how to meditate. Your soul will enter into the Master's soul and bring the message, the knowledge of how you should meditate, from his soul.
Outwardly, I have given very few disciples a specific way of meditation. But I have a few hundred disciples and most of them know how to meditate. How do they learn? When I meditate at the Centres or at public meetings they see something and feel something in me. And what part of them actually sees this? It is their souls. Their souls enter into my soul and learn from my soul, and then with this wisdom they teach the disciples how to meditate. All real spiritual Masters teach meditation to the disciples and admirers in silence. When a genuine spiritual Master meditates, Peace, Light and Bliss descend from above and enter into the sincere seeker. Then automatically he learns how to meditate from within.
If you have a Master it is easier to learn how to meditate because you get additional help from the Master's conscious Concern. But if you do not want to follow a specific path, or if you do not want to be under the guidance of a spiritual Master, if you just want to learn how to meditate a little and not go on to God-realisation, then the best thing is to associate with spiritual people in whom you have faith. Unconsciously they will help you. But this process will not take you to your Goal. You will learn to walk, but you will not be able to walk fast. You will not be able to run fast, faster, fastest towards your Goal. For that you will need higher lessons, inner and deeper lessons, from some spiritual Master.
Question: How can we know whether we are meditating well or not?Sri Chinmoy: We can easily know whether we are meditating well or not just by the way we feel and see and think. Right after our meditation, if we have a good feeling for the world, then we know our meditation was good. If we see the world in a loving way in spite of its imperfections, if we can love the world even while seeing its teeming imperfections, then we know that our meditation was good. And if we have a dynamic feeling right after meditation, if we feel that we came into the world to do something, to become something, this indicates that we have done a good meditation. This feeling that we have to do something does not mean that we are feeding our human ambition. No! The moment we try to feed our ambition, it will entangle us like a serpent. What we have come into the world to do is what God wants us to do. What we have come into the world to become is what God wants us to become. What God wants us to do is to grow into His very image. What God wants us to become is His dedicated instrument. During our meditation if we get the feeling that God wants us to grow into His very image, wants us to be His dedicated instrument, and if this feeling is translated into action after our meditation, then we can be sure that we were meditating well.
But the easiest way to know if we have had a good meditation is to feel whether Peace, Light, Love and Delight are coming to the fore from within. Each time Light comes forward, or Love comes forward, or Peace or Delight comes forward, the whole body will be surcharged with that divine quality. When we have this experience we know that we have done a very good meditation. Each time divine qualities come to the fore, we are bound to feel that we are remembering a forgotten story. It is only through meditation that we can remember our forgotten story. This story was written by the seeker himself, by the seeker in us. The story was not written by somebody else. It is our own creation, but we have forgotten it, and it is meditation that brings it back. When we remember this story we are overjoyed that we have created such a beautiful story and that this is our life story.
Question: Some days I'm just too busy to meditate, and I skip my meditation. What happens on those days?Sri Chinmoy: We feed the body twice or three times a day without fail. But when it is a matter of the soul, the Divine Child inside us, we cleverly manage to forget that we have to feed it, too, and very often we neglect it. Then what happens? When we do not feed the Divine Child within us, we cannot manifest our inner divine qualities; we cannot manifest our soul's possibilities. God is within us, everything divine is within us, but where? It is all deep inside, concealed, hidden. We have to bring it to the fore. We have to manifest it and offer it to the world. Only then is our game complete. Otherwise, we remain unfulfilled and God remains unfulfilled. The world is God's Creation. The world is our brother; the world is our sister; the world is our mother. All of us are members of God's family. So what we have, we have to share with the world, with our own family. Those who are praying, concentrating, meditating daily are feeding their souls; and when the potentialities and possibilities of the soul are manifested in the outer world, they become Reality, divine Reality. In divine Reality we see and grow into the real face of Truth, the real face of Perfection, the real face of our divine Oneness with God the Creator, with God the Creation.
We know that once upon a time we didn't meditate, and we were half animal. Now we are meditating and we feel that we are half human and half divine. And when our meditation approaches perfection, at that time we will be totally divine.
Sweet tranceWhen I pray
I enter into my heart's
When I meditate
I enter into my life's
When I love
I enter into my God's
I treasureA sweet and divine heart of prayer
I treasure openly.
A pure and supreme heart of meditation
I treasure secretly.
A perfect and absolute life of God
I treasure sleeplessly.
Part III — Problems in meditation
Question: Sometimes when I meditate it is so beautiful, but at other times I forget how beautiful meditation is, or how good it is for me. How can I inspire myself to meditate again? It is like a road that goes into a fairyland, but sometimes I just don't find that road.Sri Chinmoy: There are two ways. Suppose you have started to meditate but nothing is coming. Then try to think of a particular day when you had the highest meditation, and consciously go deep into that meditation. Think of the essence of that meditation — how you were thrilled, how you were jumping with delight. That is why I always tell my disciples to keep a diary. First it will be imagination, for you are not actually having that meditation. But just enter into the world of imagination and stay there for ten or fifteen minutes. While you are there, power will automatically enter into your meditation; and this power is not imagination. The work of scientists is all based on imagination. First they have inspiration, and the next step is imagination. They dwell in their imagination for months or years, and then some power or energy enters into the imagination and it bears fruit. So this is one way. The other way is to remember how many times your Master has shown you real love and unconditional concern. Immediately gratitude will flow. When tears of gratitude flow, it is like a springboard. If you shed a few tears of gratitude, immediately the springboard within you pushes you up and you dive into the most wonderful meditation. With one of these ways you are bound to succeed.
His own friend and enemyWhen he failed to serve God,
When he failed to love God,
When he failed to meditate on God,
He was felled by his own
Earth-generous friend: doubt
And his own Heaven-treacherous enemy: doubt.
Alas, alas !
Question: Sometimes during my morning meditation I fall into a doze — not a sound sleep, but just a doze. Is this a bad thing?Sri Chinmoy: Unfortunately, it is not a good thing. It is not sleep; but you are not fully awakened either. When you meditate, you have to be absolutely dynamic. Do not allow sleepiness to enter into you. Feel that you are entering into the battlefield where you have to fight against ignorance, doubt, imperfection and death.
Unfortunately, many disciples do not get enough inspiration to energise them for meditation. Some days you get inspiration all at once; other days you don't get any inspiration at all. If the fire is already burning inside, you don't have to do anything. But when there is no fire, what do you do? The best thing is to breathe in deeply a few times before you meditate and make your whole body energetic. Your dynamic energy will help you enter into meditation. Or you can jog a little. If possible, take a small quantity of hot juice or hot milk before you enter your meditation. Your whole system will be attuned with the divine energy, and this divine energy will take you to the proper place of meditation in your inner consciousness.
Question: When I get upset, I can't seem to meditate the way I want to. I seem to think more of my problems. How can I overcome this?Sri Chinmoy: When you are upset, you can't meditate. It is quite natural. You cannot welcome a friend and an enemy into your house at the same time. Your enemy is your agitation, your anxiety, worry and so on. And your friend is meditation. For the time being you have allowed someone undivine to enter into you. That is why you are upset. If at that very moment you want to invite in somebody divine, why should he come when you have already welcomed somebody undivine, who is hostile to him?
When you are upset, first ask yourself if you are doing the right thing by becoming upset. By getting angry with somebody, can you change his nature? If somebody has done a terrible thing, can you change his nature by scolding him, by insulting him, by punishing him? Impossible! Even if somebody has done something bad to you, and you have scolded that person and he is sorry and sheds bitter tears, then you will go deep within and feel sorry that now that person is sad and miserable. When you go within, you will see that you have done many, many things worse, infinitely worse, than that person whom you have scolded and insulted has done. In that case, if you start shedding tears or feeling remorse, then you will go on entering into your past, seeing how many thousands of things you have done wrong in your life.
You get upset because something has gone wrong either in you or in somebody else. But you cannot meditate when you are upset, so the best thing is to try not to get upset. When somebody has done something wrong to you, try to feel either that it is an extended part of your consciousness which has made this deplorable mistake, or just feel that it is an experience you had for only a few seconds. The sooner you can rid yourself of the idea that somebody has done something to you, the better off you will be. You have had an unpleasant experience, and you will not be happy until you stop thinking about it.
Always you have to feel that there are two ways to get out of worldly calamities. One way is to enlarge your heart. If you have been wronged, identify. Feel that it is you who have done wrong. In that way you won't become upset. How often do we curse ourselves? How often do we have the time to think of correcting and perfecting ourselves? All the time we are thinking of others. If we are sincere, we shall see that those who are victims of jealousy are always thinking of their enemies; those who are victims of fear are constantly thinking of others who are creating fear in them. In this way, all the time we think of others and not of ourselves.
The second way is to think of perfecting ourselves. The time comes when we become aware that we have two selves. One self is continually making us feel how weak we are, how insignificant we are, how deplorable our condition is. That self is not our true self. Then there is another self that tells us how pure we inwardly are, or how pure we can be, how sincere we can be, how humble we can be, how divine we can be. That is our true self. When we stop thinking perfecting others and only care for our own aspiration, we are not acting like a hermit who does not care for the world's transformation. No! As long as we are amidst friends, neighbours and family, our own perfection helps them. When we achieve one thing, we will see that very thing in a small measure in others. If we see something wrong in others, something undivine, tomorrow we will see that very thing in ourselves. And if we see something good in someone but not in ourselves, that particular thing will soon develop in us. If we see a person who is sincere and we are not sincere, just by consciously seeing the sincerity in someone else, our own inner sincerity will come to the fore. Our inner being will try to communicate with the sincerity of that particular person. And then, like a magnet, it will draw sincerity either from that person or from the Source from which all sincerity comes.
From now on please try, all of you, to perfect your own nature instead of looking around to see who is obstructing you or standing in your way. Pay all attention to your own self-discovery, and when you have discovered yourself, you will see that there is nobody imperfect on earth. Everybody is perfect in you.
Question: During a meditation, if something external to the meditation occurs — such as a noise or something unforeseen — is it better to include it in the meditation or to try to shut it out and pursue the meditation?Sri Chinmoy: Each seeker has to know his own standard of meditation. If we are a beginner, we should feel that anything that is not part of the meditation is like an intruder. We should not allow an intruder, a foreigner, to enter into us and disturb us. But if we are very advanced, and there is a disturbing sound or a noise during our meditation, we can go deep into the sound itself and try to assimilate it. If we have the capacity, then in our own consciousness we can transform the attack of a most powerful, most challenging foreign element into an inner music, a thrilling or haunting music, which will really add to our meditation. But we have to develop this capacity to transform a disturbing, annoying noise into soothing, thrilling and soul-stirring music. When we have this capacity we shall include the disturbance in our meditation. As long as we don't have the capacity, we shall always exclude it.
If we have strength, inner strength, to transform someone, when he is transformed he becomes totally ours. Before we entered into the spiritual life we had darkness, ignorance. Now we have started transforming our own darkness and ignorance. When they are finally transformed and illumined, they will still be our own possessions. But where they previously stood in our way, now, on the contrary, they shall help us. The darkness has been transformed into light, and it has become an added help.
Glorious is the pathAdventurous
Is the path of prayer.
My body and I knew it.
Is the path of meditation.
My heart and I know it.
Is the path of surrender.
My life and I shall know it.
Question: When I try to meditate, there is something that holds me back so that I cannot meditate.Sri Chinmoy: The thing that holds you back is fear, which has no meaning at all. If you want the wealth which the ocean holds deep inside itself, you have to dive within. Fear and wealth don't go together. Only if you have inner courage can you receive the inner wealth. It is fear of the unknown and unknowable that prevents you from diving deep within. But what is unknowable today becomes merely unknown tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow it becomes known. The vastness of Truth can never destroy you. It can only embrace and fulfil you.
Question: When we try to meditate and are not in a good mood — say we've been at school and the whole day has been absolutely ordinary, and we are in sort of an undivine mood — how can we get rid of this mood in order to meditate well?Sri Chinmoy: When you come to meditate after you have mixed with ordinary people, unaspiring people, how can you enter into your good, high, deep meditation? Immediately try to think of two rooms right in front of you. Feel that one room is unlit, and there — while you were in school, when you were with unaspiring people — you were caught by some dacoits or hooligans who were trying to strangle you. They were about to kill you. You were struggling with them because your whole life is a life of aspiration.
You were in that situation for four or five hours, and suddenly you have escaped from that world of destruction. When you come to the Centre and sit in front of me and meditate, you have to feel that you have escaped. You could have been killed by those forces; you could have been totally destroyed, annihilated. When you have that kind of feeling, great relief enters into you. When you feel with great relief that you have now entered into a room of Peace, Light, Bliss and Delight, automatically you will be able to meditate well. Automatically you will feel that here is your soul and here is your home. When you have that kind of great relief, you are automatically separated from the world of unreality, which is destruction in the spiritual life. Otherwise, when you come to meditate, these unaspiring forces will also come. You do not give them up; you still carry them in your mind. You carry their vibration, their atmosphere, their thoughts and ideas. Unconsciously they are coming. It is as though somebody has thrown a heavy load into a train. You don't know who has thrown it; you are just bringing the load. But as soon as you have the capacity to enter into the other room, just throw the heavy bags away and escape.
Some people take meditation as part of their schedule. They feel that one thing follows another in a continuous series: at eight o'clock they go to the office; at five o'clock they come back; at six o'clock they go to the Centre for meditation. But it is wrong to take it that way. Feel that the other events in life — when you mix with unaspiring people, ordinary people who are taking away your aspiration — are like destructive forces. So do not link up these incidents with others. On the contrary, break the incidents that are destructive from the other incidents in your life. Enter into the meditation room and feel that this is the real life and that was the unreal life. In this way you separate the real life from the unreal life. The moment you do this, you see that the real life is welcoming you with all its riches. If you do not make this conscious separation, then you are lost. If you feel that life is a continuous series of incidents, coming one after another, you are caught. Don't feel that this is an incident and that is also an incident. No! This incident is fulfilling and that incident is destructive, so you cannot tie them, you cannot unite them; you have to break them. When you break them, automatically you enter into the best, the highest meditation.
My service-lightI shall garland my thoughts
With my service-light.
I shall crown my prayers
With my service-light.
I shall enthrone my meditation
With my service-light.
Editor's preface to the first editionAs an illumined Yogi of the highest order, Sri Chinmoy does not normally "lecture" about meditation. He teaches meditation in silence, through the inner contact he establishes with a seeker. From time to time, however, he has answered specific questions on meditation. Some of those questions have been collected in this present volume.