Promised Light from the Beyond
Part I — Discourses
Concentration, meditation and contemplation1Why do we concentrate? We concentrate because we want to reach the Goal. Why do we meditate? We meditate because we want to live in the heart of the Goal. Why do we contemplate? We contemplate because we want to become the Goal.
How do we concentrate? We concentrate with the mind's illumining one-pointedness. How do we meditate? We meditate with the heart's expanding vastness. How do we contemplate? We contemplate with the soul's fulfilling oneness.
Where do we concentrate, meditate and contemplate? We concentrate, meditate and contemplate in the heart. When we concentrate in the heart, God the Divine Warrior energises us. When we meditate in the heart, God the Divine Knower enlightens us. When we contemplate in the heart, God the Divine Lover immortalises us. The Warrior energises us with His secret Power. The Knower enlightens us with His sacred Light. The Lover immortalises us with His supernal Delight. The Warrior's Power is our ceaseless capacity. The Knower's Light is our endless divinity. The Lover's Delight is our birthless and deathless reality.
When a beginner meditates, it is nothing but struggle. When an advanced seeker meditates, it is smooth sailing.
When an advanced seeker contemplates, he becomes a portion of the Universal Consciousness. When a yogi contemplates, he becomes the Universal Consciousness.
An occultist's intimate friend is concentration. A yogi's intimate friends are meditation and contemplation. An occultist cares very little for meditation and contemplation. A yogi cares very little for concentration.
When an occultist concentrates, it is terribly frightening. When a yogi meditates and contemplates, it is unimaginably charming.
Concentration, meditation and contemplation: in form they are three but in spirit they are one. Concentration exterminates threatening obstructions. Meditation expedites our teeming possibilities. Contemplation places us on the throne of Divinity's Reality and Reality's Immortality. Concentration demands from us sincerity. Meditation demands from us purity. Contemplation demands from us integrity.
Yesterday concentration, meditation and contemplation were seething amazements to us. Today they are unusual surprises to us. Tomorrow they will be normal experiences to us.
Concentration is God's Protection in man. Meditation is God's Height in man. Contemplation is God's Victory in man. Human doubt surrenders to concentration. Human fear surrenders to meditation. Human ignorance surrenders to contemplation.
Concentration is the last word on speed. Meditation is the last word on progress. Contemplation is the last word on success. Love of God is humanity's fastest speed. Devotion to God is humanity's greatest progress. Surrender to God is humanity's mightiest success.
When a seeker concentrates on God, God blesses the seeker's devoted head. When he meditates on God, God blesses his loving heart. When he contemplates on God, God blesses his surrendered entire being. When God concentrates on a seeker, the seeker starts his journey towards the Goal unknowable. When God meditates on a seeker, the seeker is in the midst of his journey towards the Goal unknown. When God contemplates on a seeker, the seeker completes his journey and reaches the Goal: Infinity's Smile, Eternity's Embrace, Immortality's Pride.
PLB 1. March 28, 1973.↩
The inner experience of Peace1The inner experience of peace
is man's supreme Necessity.
The inner experience of peace
is man's transcendental Beauty.
The inner experience of peace
is man's absolute Reality.
what the inner hunger is.
what the inner feast is.
that it is the cook, the server,
the eater and the enjoyer.
It knows that they are four in form
but one, eternally one, in spirit.
Necessity is the forward march
toward the Source.
Beauty is the upward march
toward the Source.
Reality is the inward march and return
toward the Source.
Inspiration accompanies Necessity
on the way.
Aspiration accompanies Beauty
on the way.
Realisation accompanies Reality
on the way.
God touches the preparation-seed.
God blesses the determination-plant.
God embraces the Perfection-Tree.
In God's Touch man feels that he is God's Dream-Boat.
In God's Blessing man feels that he is God's Reality-Boat.
In God's Embrace man feels that he is God's Fulfilment-Boat.
Unconditionally God plies His Dream-Boat between the shores of Compassion and Concern.
Ceaselessly God plies His Reality-Boat between the shores of Love and Joy.
Devotedly God plies His Fulfilment-Boat between the shores of Pride and Gratitude.
There is absolutely nothing as important as the search for peace in the outer world. Without peace the outer world is not only wicked to the backbone, but also hopelessly weak.
A wicked world has tremendous energy. Unfortunately, its energy is directed towards a false goal, a goalless shore. If this energy is directed towards the real Goal, the Golden Shore, the world will unmistakably and triumphantly reach its destination.
The condition of a weak world is most deplorable. A weak world has no energy. For a weakling there is no Goal; there can be no Goal. To reach the Goal, energy is needed, strength is needed and dynamism is needed.
The Goal is for the strong. And who are strong?
Strong are those who are awakened.
Strong are those who love the world.
Strong are those who serve God in mankind.
What are the things that prevent us from acquiring peace in the outer world?
Our self-indulgence in the world of the body,
Our self-aggrandisement in the world of the vital,
Our self-doubt in the world of the mind
And our sense of self-insufficiency in the world of the heart
Prevent us from acquiring peace in the outer world.
What are the things that can inspire our body, vital, mind and heart to have peace in the outer world?
Simplicity can inspire our body,
Humility can inspire our vital,
Sincerity can inspire our mind
And Purity can inspire our heart to have peace in the outer world.
What are the things that can expedite our achievements?
Our love of the Consciousness-Light can and will expedite our achievement in the body.
Our devotion to the Consciousness-Light can and will expedite our achievement in the vital.
Our surrender to the Consciousness-Light can and will expedite our achievement in the mind.
Our constant and inseparable oneness with the Consciousness-Light can and will expedite our achievement in the heart.
In his inner experience of Peace, man discovers what he eternally is: Immortality.
In his search for Peace in the outer world, man discovers what he eternally has: Divinity.
PLB 2. 4 April 1973.↩
The inner experience of Light1The outer experience of Light is immediate inspiration. The inner experience of Light is eternal aspiration.
With inspiration, we run towards the farthest Beyond. With inspiration, we fly to the highest Height. With inspiration, we dive to the deepest Depth. With aspiration, we become the Goal of the ever-transcending Beyond.
The outer experience of Light is the transformation of binding desires into liberating freedom. The inner experience of Light is the transformation of earth's fate into God's Face.
The outer experience of Light is necessary in order to build the Palace of transcendental Truth on earth. The inner experience of Light is essential in order to watch and enjoy the cosmic Dance of Reality, Divinity and Immortality.
Reality is the dreamer in us. Divinity is the lover in us. Immortality is the fulfiller in us.
The dreamer dreams and acts. The lover loves and becomes. The fulfiller fulfils and transcends.
The inner experience of Light. In our spiritual existence we find quite a few seekers who cry for the inner experience of Light, but among these seekers there are two who are quite prominent — that is to say, who are really trying to have the inner experience of Light. These two seekers, these two members of our inner existence, are the mind and the heart — the searching mind and the aspiring heart. The searching mind and the aspiring heart come together to the transcendental Light, the Light Supreme, and say, "O Light of the Supreme, save us, illumine us. We are far apart, but we want to live together. We want to become inseparable."
Light answers, "That is quite easy. I shall fulfil your wish. But I wish to ask each of you one thing. Mind, tell me, what is your best quality?"
The mind hesitates and says, "You want me to tell you my best quality, but I have no good qualities! My best quality is my stupidity."
Light consoles the mind, saying, "Oh no! Your best quality is your sense of boundless vastness. Your sense of boundless vastness, O mind, is your best quality."
Then Light asks the heart, "What is your best quality?"
The heart spontaneously says, "I, too, have no good qualities. If I have to tell you what my best quality is, then I feel that it is my insecurity. For I always feel insecure."
Light consoles the heart and says, "No! Your best quality is your universal oneness. Your universal oneness, O heart, is your best quality."
Then Light asks the mind, "Have you any idea how far you are from your Goal?"
The mind replies, "I have no idea at all. But I feel that I am far from my Goal, farther than the farthest."
Light says, "O searching mind, your farthest Goal you can bring right into you if you once can make yourself feel that your very existence on earth is for the Supreme Reality and the Absolute Truth."
Light asks the heart, "Heart, how far are you from your Goal?
The heart answers, "I feel that my Goal is very near, right in front of me. But alas, to my utter astonishment and sorrow, I do not see it. If I do not see my Goal face to face, then my feeling has no conviction. First I want to actually see my Goal right in front of me, and then I want to grow into my Goal."
Light says to the heart, "Heart, you can see your Goal right in front of you and you can grow into your Goal immediately if you know how to discover the eternal truth that your existence on earth has come directly from the eternal Existence of the Supreme, and that you are part and parcel of the Supreme. O heart, when you have discovered this truth — that you are of the Supreme — then you are bound to see your Goal right in front of you."
Now the mind asks Light, "O Light, please tell me if there is anything I have done that has displeased you."
Light says, "Yes, you have displeased me. You have misused time. When you foolishly misuse time, you displease me deeply."
"How can I stop misusing time?"
"You can stop misusing time if you believe in my illumining Reality and if you believe that I need your service unreservedly for my full manifestation on earth. If you believe in my illumination and if you believe that I badly need your assistance, then you will stop misusing time."
The heart asks Light, "O Light, is there anything I have done that has displeased you?"
"Yes, you have displeased me by wasting time, and you are still wasting time mercilessly. That is why I am displeased with you. You can stop wasting your time if you believe in my illumining Reality and if you believe that I need your dedicated service, your soulful service, for my immediate and permanent manifestation on earth.
"O mind, O heart, if you listen to me, if you fulfil my needs, then both of you can stay together permanently, inseparably."
The mind says to Light, "O Light, I give you my word of honour: I shall serve you; I shall fulfil your manifestation."
The heart says to Light, "O Light, I shall serve you unreservedly and unconditionally for your immediate and permanent manifestation on earth."
When we have the inner experience of Light, we realise that the finite can embody and reveal the Infinite, and at the same time the Infinite can manifest its Infinity, Eternity and Immortality in and through the finite. When we have the inner experience of Light, we feel the constant necessity of knowing whether we are working for God, whether we are constantly taking God's side or whether God is taking our side. After we have had the inner experience of Light, we always want to take God's side. We do not want and do not allow God to take our side. This is the experience that transcends all other experiences. A seeker of the highest order, a Yogi of the highest order or even a spiritual Master of the highest order may at times ask the Supreme to take his side. But when one has had the full inner experience of infinite Light, one always takes the side of the Supreme.
In the ordinary life there are many people who feel that there is no happiness on earth, and so the best thing is to live without happiness. But a spiritual Master does not see eye to eye with them. He asks them to have the inner experience of Light just once. If one has the inner experience of Light, then his life is all happiness. For him every day is happiness, every hour is happiness, every minute is happiness, every second is happiness.
In the ordinary life there are many people who think that there is no fulfilling love on earth. They claim that there is only one kind of love, the love that binds us, the love that chains our hands and shackles our hearts. But a spiritual Master tells them, "No, there is something called real Love, divine Love, and you can have this divine Love, this Love that liberates, this Love that perfects human imperfections, this Love that fulfils. You can have this Love if you have had an iota of the inner experience of Light. The inner experience of Light tells us that human life is a constant unfulfilling want, whereas the divine life is a constant fulfilling and fulfilled achievement. Before we have the inner experience of Light, we try to live on earth and hope to live in Heaven in the future. But once we have had the inner experience of Light, we actually do live in Heaven on earth: we live in the heart of Eternal Time and in the lap of Immortality."
PLB 3. 11 April 1973.↩
The inner experience of Bliss1Anandadd hy eva khalv imani bhutani jayante
Anandena jatani jivanti
Anandam prayantyabhisam visanti
"From Bliss we came into existence,
In Bliss we grow.
At the end of our journey's close,
into Bliss we retire."
The inner experience of Bliss. The inner experience of Bliss is the achievement of liberation and perfection.
Liberation is the death of the world-sound and the birth of the soundless sound, the cosmic sound.
Perfection is God's promise to man. Perfection is God's achievement in man.
A liberated soul is earth's highest height. A perfected soul is Heaven's deepest depth.
A liberated soul carries the banner of realisation. A perfected soul carries the banner of realisation, revelation and manifestation.
Realisation is self-discovery. Revelation is self-glowing. Manifestation is self-fulfilling. In realisation one knows that he is none other than the great God. In revelation one knows that he is none other than the benevolent God. In manifestation one knows that he is at once the great God and the benevolent God.
The inner experience of Bliss is the marriage of God's Grace and God's Race. God's Grace creates humanity's capacity. God's Race creates humanity's receptivity.
In capacity is God the Creator. In receptivity is God the Enjoyer. The Creator is the One in the many. The Enjoyer is the many in the One.
A seeker envisions Infinity's Bliss. A yogi becomes Infinity's Bliss. An Avatar is Infinity's Bliss. The Supreme, the Absolute Supreme, is the Source of Infinity's Bliss.
A seeker is God the tireless walker. A yogi is God the fearless marcher. An Avatar is God the deathless runner.
The Supreme is the walker's experience. The Supreme is the marcher's confidence. The Supreme is the runner's assurance.
The inner experience of Bliss far surpasses all the treasures of Divinity's Reality and Reality's multiplicity. We can have the inner experience of Bliss if we can acquire the inner silence and if we can have inner guidance.
The inner silence is the silence of goalless movement and thought-waves. The outer silence is the silence of the physical senses.
The inner guidance is like a mother's constant and conscious guidance of a child. The outer guidance is like the guidance of a blind man leading another blind man.
The inner silence is the fulfilment of life and the fulfilment of reality in us. The inner guidance fulfils the individual life in the Life universal.
The inner experience of Bliss is never and can never be a gift of the miracle-machine. The inner experience of Bliss is a gift of the natural self of a normal man. The inner experience of Bliss begins in self-offering and ends in God-becoming.
Without Bliss, man is an external superficiality. With Bliss, man is a fulfilling inner and outer reality. Without Bliss, man is a song of frustration and destruction. With Bliss, man is constant fulfilment and constant perfection.
In the spiritual life a surrendered disciple is his Master's growing Bliss, and a totally surrendered, unconditionally surrendered disciple is his Master's ceaseless Bliss.
In the spiritual life we need experience, we need confidence, we need assurance. Experience is the discovery of infinite Life within us. Confidence is the supreme mastery of our soul over darkness and night. Assurance is our inseparable oneness with the Light of the Supreme.
Night we were. Light we are. Delight we shall be.
PLB 4. 18 April 1973.↩
The inner experience of Power1Veni, Vidi, Vici. "I came, I saw, I conquered." Julius Caesar had the outer experience of human power. Krishna, the Buddha and the Christ had the inner experience of divine Power. Krishna embodied, revealed and manifested the Power of Love-Light. The Buddha embodied, revealed and manifested the Power of Compassion-Height. The Christ embodied, revealed and manifested the Power of Salvation-Delight.
The outer experience of power with and in the physical is potent. But the inner experience of Power with and in the soul is omnipotent. The outer experience of power is self-styled authority. The inner experience of Power is God-ordained Duty.
The inner experience of Power is God's Forgiveness.
The inner experience of Power is God's Compassion.
The inner experience of Power is God's Patience.
The inner experience of Power is God's Assurance.
The inner experience of Power is God's Pride.
God uses His Forgiveness-Power to illumine the impure human body. God uses His Compassion-Power to illumine the aggressive human vital. God uses His Patience-Power to illumine the restless human mind. God uses His Assurance-Power to illumine the insecure human heart. God uses His Pride-Power to illumine the aspiring human soul.
Human power comes into existence from self-effort, time and patience. Divine Power comes into existence from God's unconditional and limitless Grace. Human power plays with doubt-power, jealousy-power and ingratitude-power. Divine Power plays with faith-power, love-power and oneness-power.
The moment we use human power in a human way we see in ourselves the human death. The moment we use divine Power in a divine way we see in ourselves the birth of the Divine.
The inner experience of Truth tells us that human power needs constant divine direction. The inner experience of Truth tells us that divine Power needs constant human participation.
The transformation of the seeker's personality starts taking place the moment the seeker has some inner experience of Power. This is the transformation of his finite existence into the infinite Existence. This is the transformation of his earthbound time into the Time eternal. His personality becomes God's manifested divine Individuality, and it carries the message of God's illumining Unity into His fulfilling diversity and multiplicity.
PLB 5. 25 April 1973.↩
Love, devotion and surrender1Love, devotion and surrender. Love, devotion and surrender is our path. Love, devotion and surrender is our Goal.
Love. Love is the only wealth that man absolutely needs. Love is the only wealth that God precisely is.
Animal love can be conquered and purified. Human love can be perfected and transcended. Divine Love can be achieved and manifested.
To love God is to be a normal human being. To love God is to be a practical human being. To love God is to be a successful human being. To love God is to be a fulfilling and fulfilled human being.
Without love man is insecure. Without love man is uncertain. Without love man is incapable. Human insecurity is a chronic disease. Human uncertainty is an almost incurable disease. Human incapacity is a fatal disease.
God uses His Compassion-Power to transform our insecurity into His divine Security. God uses His Wisdom-Power to transform our uncertainty into His divine Certainty. God uses His Concern-Power to transform our human incapacity into His divine Capacity.
He who loves never grows old. God is a perfect example.
He who loves never becomes poor. God is a shining example.
He who loves never becomes unhappy. God is a blissful example.
Devotion. Devotion is our inner sweetness. Devotion is our divine intensity. Devotion is our supreme dynamism. God loves our snow-white sweetness. God appreciates our divine intensity. God admires our supreme dynamism.
A heart of devotion is purer than the purest flame. A heart of devotion is faster than the fastest deer. A heart of devotion is wiser than the wisest sage.
Purity's soulful permanence lives in devotion. Speed's truthful assurance lives in devotion. Wisdom's fruitful illumination lives in devotion.
Surrender. Surrender is our ever-increasing consciousness. Surrender is our ever-illumining vastness. Surrender is our ever-fulfilling oneness.
Consciousness is another name for the golden link between Heaven's descent and earth's ascent. Vastness is another name for God's Heart, which can be used by humanity. Oneness is another name for the evolving God in aspiring man.
Love, devotion and surrender: this is our path. All paths ultimately lead to the same destination, but we feel that the path of love, devotion and surrender is the safest and the quickest. This is our personal feeling. If others find it difficult to see eye to eye with us, they have every right to follow a different path. We will never say that ours is the only path and that only we will be able to offer salvation and illumination. No. Our path is for those who feel that the heart can lead them faster to their destination than the mind. Our path is for those who feel that the light of the soul has to come to the fore through the heart and that from the heart the light will be received by the mind, the vital and the physical.
In our path love is the first rung of the ladder, devotion is the second rung and surrender is the third and ultimate rung. We love God because we feel that, of all His divine qualities, it is His Love that pleases us most. We love God, not because He is great, nor because He is Omniscient and Omnipotent and Omnipresent, not because He is everything; but rather we love God precisely because He is all Love, and Love is the mightiest power. Now when we love someone, we devote our existence to that person. Since it is God whom we love, it is to God that we offer our devotion. And it is to God's Will that we offer our human will. The surrender that we make to God is the conscious surrender of our soul to the Ultimate, the Absolute. This is not the surrender of a slave to his master but the surrender of our ignorant, unwilling, imperfect nature to our own illumining, liberated and perfected higher Being.
In our path we do not proselytise; we do not try to convert others. In our path we try to offer to others the Light that the Supreme has entrusted us with out of His infinite Bounty. There are some who may say, "If you have Peace, Light and Bliss, why do you have to go all over the world to show it? Why do you have to go out and open Centres everywhere? If you own a pond, then anyone who is thirsty will come there to drink. The pond never goes to quench anyone's thirst. It remains where it is." But I wish to say that our path is the path of love, and that this is the kind of love that we see in a mother. When the child is hungry no matter if he is in the living room, the bedroom or the kitchen — no matter where he is — the mother comes running to offer food to him. Similarly, we feel that there are many sincere seekers who are hungry for Peace, Light and Bliss, and if we have received a little from the Almighty Supreme, we try to offer it to them. Like a shopkeeper, we offer certain things in our store, and those who like them may have them. Naturally, those who do not like what we have to offer have every right to go somewhere else. We will never say that our store is the only one.
Everybody has the right to inspire others. When we hold meditations we try to inspire people. We never expect to convert people to our path. That is far beyond our imagination. We try to offer inspiration through our talks and answers to questions. When we have played the role of giving inspiration, we feel that we have offered a considerable service. For it is from inspiration that all of us get aspiration, and it is from aspiration that we get realisation. No matter which path or which spiritual Master you follow, you are bound to get some inspiration. When you go deep within, on the strength of your inspiration you will see that your aspiration looms large. And when your aspiration-flame climbs high, higher, highest, you will realise your true Self.
PLB 6. 2 May 1973.↩
Part II — Questions and answers
Question: I would like to ask you, how do you 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. Do not read the books written by professors and scholars because whereas the spiritual Masters are offering their own realisation in the form of writing, the scholars and professors are only borrowing the light from the writings of the Masters and, with their mental capacities, they are elaborating on them. If you study these second-hand experiences, it is like the blind leading the blind, for the professors have not realised the Truth, therefore they cannot offer the Truth. The Masters, however, 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, you will get inspiration. But inspiration is not enough. You will soon 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 may be inspired to do something, but that does not mean that he will be able to do it correctly. You are inspired to run, but if someone has not taught you how to run properly, how to take big strides, and how to move your arms and so on, then naturally you will not be able to run very fast.
But then, while running, there will come a time when you will feel that you have to run in a particular lane. If a runner is constantly changing lanes, then he will be disqualified even though he is running fast. For he is disturbing others, and being disturbed by others, and there is bound to be a calamity. It is necessary to choose 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 will only confuse himself and he will not be able to run fast.
When you start your journey as an absolute beginner, 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 only. 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 close to a Master, or if you feel that getting a specific meditation from a Master will help you make fastest progress, then you should choose your Master and follow his path devotedly and soulfully.
Question: If someone is having great difficulty in meditating because he lacks discipline and cannot concentrate, can you suggest a possible remedy? How can one develop self-discipline and improve his meditation?Sri Chinmoy: In this case, the person should start with concentration. Meditation will be too difficult for him.
Self-discipline comes through proper concentration, especially under the express guidance of an able Master. One has to lead a disciplined life while practising concentration. If his life is not disciplined to some extent, meditation will always be too hard for him. He will be like a kindergarten student who wants to study at the high school level. Every seeker should start with concentration in the spiritual life. When one concentrates, one tries to control one's thoughts, one's emotions. One becomes a divine hero and enters into the battlefield of life where there can be no doubt, no fear. Doubt and fear are conquered by concentration.
Question: What is your technique of meditation?Sri Chinmoy: I have no specific technique with regard to meditation. I can only suggest to you that if you really want to meditate soulfully and devotedly, then the best thing is not to allow any thought to enter into your mind. Especially in the beginning, it is advisable not to allow either good or bad thoughts in. You are in your room, and you have no idea who is knocking at your door, whether it is your enemy or your friend. And if a group of people comes, there will be quite a few strangers and quite a few friends. The divine thoughts are your friends and the undivine thoughts are strangers. You have no idea what the strangers may try to do. And it is very difficult to let your friends come in and to tell the strangers, "You stay outside; I won't let you in."
So in the beginning you have to be very careful. You have to keep your door bolted from inside. Otherwise what happens is that while the divine thoughts are entering into your mind, the undivine thoughts, like thieves, will also secretly enter and create tremendous confusion for the divine thoughts. But there comes a time when you become strong from within. You develop the capacity to welcome only the divine thoughts and to chase away the undivine thoughts. Then you will see that each divine thought you let in will create a new world for you, a fulfilling world. But this takes time. For some people it takes years.
This instruction is only for those who do not have a spiritual Master and who are not my disciples. Those who are my disciples have received from me a specific way of meditation. My soul, or the Supreme within me, has inwardly taught them to meditate, since I am their spiritual leader. That is to say, their soul has received some messages from the Supreme in me as to how they should meditate.
Question: Before beginning meditation and concentration, I was wondering if there should be a specific manner of breathing.Sri Chinmoy: We have a traditional system of controlled breathing in India which is called pranayama. Prana is the vital energy, the life-breath; yama means control. Pranayama is the control of the life-breath. The very first exercise you can practise is to repeat once, as you breathe in, the name of God, the Supreme, the Christ, or whomever you adore. Or if your Master has given you a mantra, you can repeat that. This breath does not have to be long or deep. Then hold your breath and repeat the same name four times. And when you breathe out, repeat two times the name or mantra that you have chosen. You inhale for one count, hold your breath for four counts, and exhale for two counts, inwardly repeating the sacred name. If you simply count the numbers — one-four-two — you do not get any vibration, any inner feeling. But when you say the name of God, immediately God's divine qualities — Purity, Peace, Love, Bliss and many others — enter into you. Then when you hold your breath, these divine qualities rotate inside you, entering into all your impurities, obscurities, imperfections and limitations. And when you breathe out, these same divine qualities carry away all your undivine, unprogressive, destructive qualities.
The beginner starts with a one-four-two count. When he becomes mature in his breathing, he will be able to do it in a count of four-sixteen-eight: breathing in for four counts, holding the breath for sixteen, and breathing out for eight. But this has to be done very gradually. Some people do it even more. They do an eight-thirty-two-sixteen count, but this is not for the beginner.
Another thing you can try is alternate breathing. This is done by pressing the right nostril with the thumb and taking in a long breath through the left nostril. As you breathe in you repeat God's Name only once. Then you hold your breath for four counts, repeating God's Name. And finally you release your right nostril, press your left nostril with your fourth finger, and release your breath through to the count of two — that is, two repetitions of God's Name. Then you do it the opposite way, starting with the left nostril pressed closed. In this system, when you breathe in, it does not have to be done quietly. Even if you make a noise there is no harm. But of course, these exercises should not be done in public or where other people are trying to meditate in silence. You should not practise one-four-two breathing for more than four or five minutes, and you should not do alternate breathing more than three times. If you do it twenty or forty or fifty times, heat will rise from the base of your spine and enter into your head, creating tension and a headache. It is like eating too much. Eating is good, but if you eat voraciously, it will upset your stomach. This heat acts the same way. If you draw it up beyond your capacity, then instead of giving you a peaceful mind, it will give you an arrogant, destructive, turbulent mind. When you have developed your inner capacity, you can do this alternate breathing for ten or fifteen minutes.
Pranayama is a traditional yogic discipline with many serious, complicated breathing exercises. For these, ten minutes or fifteen minutes or half an hour of practice is good. But pranayama is dangerous if you do not have a teacher to guide you at every step. If you do the exercises improperly, you may develop tuberculosis. Many people in India have contracted this disease because they practise pranayama without proper guidance. But these exercises that I am telling you about — the one-four-two count and alternate nostril breathing — are very simple and, at the same time, effective. They will never harm your lungs.
Question: How can I purify my mind so that I can have a good meditation?Sri Chinmoy: In your case, the best thing to do is to feel every day for a few minutes that you have no mind. Say, "I have no mind, I have no mind. What I have is the heart." Then after some time, say, "No, I don't have the heart. What I have is the soul."
You have to know that the mind is almost always impure, bringing in dark and bad thoughts. Even when it is not doing this, it is still a victim to doubt, jealousy, hypocrisy, fear and all that. All negative things first attack the mind. You may reject them for a minute, but the next minute they knock at your mind's door again. This is the nature of the mind.
But the heart is much, much purer, because affection, love, devotion, surrender and other divine qualities are already in the heart. Even if you have fear or jealousy in the heart, the good qualities of the heart will still come forward. But again, the heart is not totally pure because the vital being is around the heart. The lower vital, situated near the navel, tends to come up and touch the heart centre. It tries to make the heart impure by its influence and proximity. But at least the heart is not like the mind, which is always opening its door to impure ideas.
Even better than the heart is the soul. Here there is no impurity. The soul is all Purity, Light, Bliss and Divinity. When you say, "I have no mind," this does not mean that you are becoming an animal again. Far from it! You are only saying, "I don't care for this mind, which is bringing me so much impurity and torturing me so much." When you say, "I have the heart," you feel that the heart has some purity. But when you say, "I have the soul," you are flooded with purity. Then, after some time, you have to go deeper and farther and not only say, "I have the soul," but "I am the soul." The moment you say, "I am the soul," and you meditate on this truth, your soul's infinite purity will enter into your heart. Then from the heart, the infinite purity of your soul will enter into the mind. In this way you will purify your mind and your heart and you will be able to have a wonderful meditation every day.
Question: How is it possible to keep one's mind from having any thoughts?Sri Chinmoy: In the beginning, unless one is very spiritually advanced, it is really impossible for one not to have thoughts. But if you continue to meditate for a few months or a few years, then you will see that it is quite possible to enter into thoughtless meditation. For the time being you should do japa. You should repeat the name of your spiritual Master, if you have one, or of whomever you worship, or of God, let us say. Just repeat, "Supreme, Supreme, Supreme…" continuously. It is true that your mind, your brain, is operating when you do this repetition. But if you continue it for ten minutes most soulfully, then you will see that you are no longer the doer. This word has become spontaneous in your life. It becomes like a passing train, and you are simply riding on that train. This word that is repeating in you is not a thought at that time. It is a reality. Thought binds you, but this reality does not bind. This reality only takes you to your destined goal.
Start with a thought, with an idea, with a concept of Truth, with God. After fifteen minutes or half an hour the thought has played its role. Then you spontaneously go beyond thought and identify yourself with some reality. At that time the mental formation of any thought or idea ceases. Only Reality — God the Reality or whomever you have chosen as the object of your adoration — remains. And this Reality takes you, carries you to your Goal.
Question: In trying to meditate and lead the spiritual life, I am beset by difficulties and discouragement. What should I do?Sri Chinmoy: While you are following the spiritual life, if you are attacked by undivine, hostile forces or if you feel that your aspiration is not as it should be, never give up your spiritual life. Every day you cannot eat the most delicious food, but still you eat every day. You eat every day, whether the food is good or bad, in order to keep your body fit so you can go to work, go to school and do normal activities. In the spiritual life, when we meditate what do we actually do? We feed the soul, our inner being. Now, if we cannot feed the soul most delightfully every day, we must not give up trying. It is better to feed the soul something than to allow it to starve. So never give up; always try to meditate.
The road to God-realisation is long. Sometimes while walking along the road you will see beautiful trees with flowers, foliage, fruits. Again, sometimes you will see that there is only a road, and there are no trees on either side. Sometimes you may feel that you are on an endless road through a barren desert, and that the goal is still impossibly far away. But do not give up walking just because the distance seems far. In order to realise God you have to be a divine soldier and march on bravely and untiringly.
The seeker of the infinite Truth must have the patience of a farmer. A farmer ploughs the field and cultivates; then he has to wait for God to give the rain which will enable the seed to germinate and start to grow into a tiny plant. In the spiritual life also, our personal effort and God's Grace are both needed. We have to practise meditation, but we have to feel the necessity of God's Grace, like rain. When God's Grace descends and our human effort ascends, there comes a time when we can meditate at our sweet will. Advanced spiritual seekers can meditate at any moment, at any time, at any place.
First try to meditate with your own individual effort and God's Grace. If you are attacked by undivine forces and you cannot meditate, then offer your present achievement soulfully and devotedly at the Feet of the Supreme. Say to Him, "This is what I have now. I have become a victim to these forces. These are my possessions right now, unwanted possessions, and I am offering them to You. I place them at Your Feet." If you can offer your existence to the Supreme in that way at all times, then you will see that your daily meditation will become most fruitful.
Question: In my meditation and in my spiritual life, I feel that I am fighting against time because of my eagerness to reach my goal. Is this the wrong attitude?Sri Chinmoy: If you feel that you are fighting against time, then I wish to say that you are making a deplorable mistake. This incarnation of yours is not the first and it is not the last. You have meditated, let us say, in your previous incarnations; and in this incarnation you have also meditated for a number of years. If you feel that each moment is leading you towards your destination, then this progress itself is a kind of partial goal. We cannot separate divine progress, real progress, from our goal. Rather than fighting against time, we should try our utmost to derive spiritual benefit, spiritual progress, from each second. Each time we make progress we have to feel that we have touched something of the goal itself, a tiny portion. In this way, we will feel that we are really advancing.
If we want to see or achieve the entire Goal, then we have to surrender to eternal Time, God's Time. What does this mean? Right now you feel that it is your responsibility to realise God tomorrow. At this very moment, in the twinkling of an eye, you want to realise God. This is your own sense of need. But if you feel that God needs your realisation infinitely more than you need it, then you see that your realisation becomes His responsibility. It becomes God's problem to give you realisation, either today or tomorrow or a few years later or whenever He wants to. God takes this responsibility on His shoulders most sincerely. After all, it is He who wants to manifest in and through us. And if we remain unrealised, then how can He fulfil Himself in and through us? So it is God's bounden Duty to make us realise Him. But we have to know that He has His own choice Time. We cannot pull this time. We cannot get it by hook or by crook. It is His Time; He has to offer it to us at His choice Hour. On our part we have only to be earnest, sincere, dedicated, devoted and surrendered to His Will. That is what He expects from us — sincere aspiration and surrender.
Question: Why is it that I find it so difficult to surrender to my inner life?Sri Chinmoy: You constantly surrender to earthly things — noise, the traffic lights, the government. You feel that you are helpless if you do not surrender to these things, and totally lost, whereas if you do surrender, at least you can maintain your existence on earth. You feel you have to be clever to stay on earth. You feel you have to make some compromise between your desires and the world that you actually see around you. So whatever the earth gives you, even if it is a form of torture, you feel that you have to accept it.
Now if you want to lead an aspiring life, then you have to have this same kind of feeling towards spiritual things. You have to feel that if you do not pray, if you do not meditate, then you will be totally lost; if you do not cry, if you do not surrender to the higher divinity, then your whole existence will be of no value and you need not stay on earth. You have to feel that without the inner guidance you are totally helpless and lost. And this inner guidance comes only when you really want to surrender your ignorance to the Light within you.
There are millions and billions of people on earth who are not praying and meditating, but they still exist, although they may be living an animal life. But if you feel that it is not enough just to maintain your existence on earth, if you feel that your existence should have some meaning, some purpose, some fulfilment, then you have to go to the inner life, the spiritual life. If you see that only the inner life can offer you Peace, Light and Bliss, then naturally you will surrender to the inner life, the life of purity, the life of reality.
So aspiring people will try to go beyond earthly circumstances and events and surrender to their inner divinity. This is not the surrender of a slave to the master; it is not a helpless surrender. Here one surrenders his imperfections, limitations, bondage and ignorance to his highest Self, which is flooded with Peace, Light and Bliss. Here one does not lose his individuality or personality. No! Rather his individuality and his personality are enlarged. They expand into Infinity.
Question: Will meditation enable us to get rid of bad karma?Sri Chinmoy: If you want to get rid of your bad karma, the first thing you have to do is to forget about it. If you think of it, unconsciously you are cherishing it. But if you think of good karma — that is to say, aspiration, concentration and meditation — then you are walking along the right path.
What you did yesterday is not at all important now. What is of paramount importance is what you now want to be. We have to know that we are not the children of the past, but the children of the Golden Future. Yesterday did not give you realisation. Yesterday did not give you fulfilment. You have to know that if you look backward, you will remain where you were or where you are. But if you look forward, one day you will reach your Goal.
So in order to get rid of bad karma, you should enter into the field of concentration and meditation. The only medicine to cure bad karma from the past is meditation or, if that is too difficult, concentration in the form of aspiration.
Question: I read some place that when one uses sexual energy he is using up some spiritual energy at the same time. Is this true? If so, what can be done if one wants to lead a spiritual life?Sri Chinmoy: What you have read is absolutely true. Animal human life and divine God-life do not and cannot go together. To attain the highest Truth, the seeker needs total purification and transformation of his lower vital. But one cannot realise God overnight. It is impossible! You do not get your master's degree in a day, or even in a year. It may require twenty years of study to achieve. God-realisation is a far more difficult subject. It may require twenty or thirty years, a lifetime, even many more incarnations for you to realise God, depending on your present aspiration and your previous spiritual life.
But if you tell a beginner that he will have to give up his lower vital life, sex life, all at once, he will say, "Impossible! How can I do that?" If he has to do this, he will never enter into the spiritual life. Slowly and steadily he has to make headway towards his Goal.
Transforming one's sex life is like giving up a bad habit, but it is usually more difficult and it takes a longer time. Suppose somebody drinks a lot. If he drinks six or seven times a day, let him first come to realise the fact that this is something harmful for his God-realisation. Then let him try to drink less. If he drinks six times a day, let him change to five times. After a few days, let him drink four times a day. Then, after a while longer, let him drink three times a day. Gradually, let him diminish his desire for alcohol. In our ordinary human life we have many weaknesses. If we try to conquer them all at once, the body will resist and break down. We shall be torn into pieces. We have to have a real inner will, the soul's will, to conquer our desires slowly and steadily. Otherwise, the body will revolt.
If one enters into the spiritual life and says, "Today I want to conquer all my lower propensities," he is just fooling himself. Tomorrow his physical mind will torture him with doubts. His impure and cruel vital will try to punish him in every way. He will feel miserable. He will be frustrated, and inside his frustration his own destruction will loom large. The lower vital life must be transformed completely before God-realisation can take place, but I advise my students to go slowly.
Question: What is wisdom?Sri Chinmoy: What is wisdom? Wisdom is the knowledge of the soul. Wisdom is the light of the soul, which gives us the knowledge of the soul. Wisdom is a spark of the inner sun. Wisdom is one's conscious awareness of one's ultimate Reality, and this ultimate Reality is the realisation that man is God yet to be manifested and God is man yet to be realised fully. This is the ultimate wisdom.
Question: Could you please explain what an authentic Guru is?Sri Chinmoy: The real Guru is the Inner Pilot, the Supreme. An authentic Guru will tell you categorically that he is not the Guru. The human Guru is only the representative of the Inner Pilot, and only for those who have implicit faith in his realisation. An authentic Guru will inspire all seekers, no matter which path they follow. His realisation undoubtedly is for the entire world, but it is for his own spiritual children that he is one hundred per cent responsible. There are many authentic Gurus at different levels and with different standards. It is through self-giving and self-offering that each one fulfils the Message of the Beyond according to his own capacity. An authentic Guru will never say that he will be able to give illumination or God-realisation to any seeker overnight, or instantaneously, or in a few short weeks, no matter how sincere, how devoted or how surrendered the seeker is.
An authentic Guru says that when the heart's aspiration, the soul's light and the life's dedication become one, the seeker realises God. Slow and steady wins the race: this is the theory, the realisation and the proclamation of an authentic Guru. At God's choice Hour, an authentic Guru shows his young brothers and sisters the Face of God.
An authentic Guru will never say that money-power will enable a seeker to realise God. If a seeker uses money-power divinely with his dedication-power, it will help him in God-realisation. But if a seeker feels that by offering money to a spiritual Master he will be able to realise God or even to expedite his realisation, then I wish to say that that particular seeker has reached the zenith of stupidity. Money-power is undoubtedly a power of great significance. When it is properly used it adds to one's heart-power. But he who wants to realise God will discover that heart-power is more than enough. No human power, no earthly power is necessary to see God face to face, but heart-power is of paramount importance. This heart-power is the power of dedicated service, the power of oneness with the universe, the power of constant and conscious surrender to the Will of the Inner Pilot.
An authentic Guru will always say that just as none of his disciples are indispensable, so too he is not indispensable. Only God, the Inner Pilot, is indispensable; and this Inner Pilot is in everyone. This Inner Pilot is the real Boatman who carries the seeker in His Golden Boat to the Golden Shores of the ever-transcending Beyond.
An authentic Guru will always say that he is a mere instrument of the Inner Pilot. He will get his guidance from the Inner Pilot of his disciples. He is only the messenger who carries his disciples' ignorance to the Supreme Pilot and brings down infinite Compassion and Blessings from the Supreme Pilot to his disciples. He carries both his disciples' ignorance and their aspiration to the Supreme, and he brings down from the Supreme Light, Delight, Perfection and more, infinitely more.
An authentic Guru is at once the real brother of mankind and the eternal son of Heaven. On the strength of his oneness with humanity, an authentic Guru cries day in and day out for humanity's liberation. At the same time, on the strength of his oneness with the Supreme Pilot, he smiles constantly with Him on the transcendental Throne of Reality, Divinity and Immortality.
An authentic Guru is humanity's best gift to Divinity and Divinity's best gift to humanity. Humanity's gift Divinity accepts with deepest concern and pride. Divinity's gift humanity accepts with deepest gratitude and pride.
Question: Do you think an aspirant needs a living Guru for realisation?Sri Chinmoy: To be very frank with you, a living Guru is not absolutely indispensable in order to realise God. The first person who realised God on earth, the very first realised soul, had no human Guru. He had only God as his Guru.
If you have a Guru, however, it facilitates your inner spiritual progress. A Guru is your private tutor in the spiritual life. At every moment in life's journey, ignorance tries to test you, examine you and torture you, but this private tutor will teach you how to pass the examination most easily. If you have a private tutor for any subject, you know how much help you can get. Moreover, once you get into your Guru's boat, he will take you to the Golden Shore. You can sing on the boat, you can dance, you can even sleep; but he will take you safely to the Goal.
It is absurd to feel that for everything else in life we need a teacher but not for God-realisation. Why does one go to the university when he can study at home? It is because he feels that he will get expert instruction from people who know the subject well. If someone is wise enough and wants to run towards his Goal instead of stumbling or merely walking, then certainly he will take the help of a Guru. But again, God is in everybody, and if one feels that he does not need human help, he is most welcome to try his capacity alone.
If someone becomes a true disciple of a Master, he does not feel that he and his Guru are two totally different beings. He does not feel that his Guru is at the top of the tree and he is at the foot of the tree, all the time washing the feet of the Guru. No, he feels that the Guru is his own highest part. He feels that he and the Guru are one, that the Guru is his own highest and most developed part. Therefore, a true disciple does not find any difficulty in surrendering his lowest part to his highest part. It is not beneath his dignity, because he knows that both the highest and the lowest are his very own.
Editor's preface to the first editionSri Chinmoy was invited to give a series of six spiritual talks in the spring of 1973 by Columbia University's centre for religious activities, Earl Hall. The lectures were held in St.Paul's Chapel on the University campus.
Sri Chinmoy offers his deepest blessingful gratitude to P., who made the arrangements for these talks. The Master also offers his blessingful gratitude to B. who was in charge of coordination.
At the end of each lecture in this series, Sri Chinmoy invited spiritual questions from the audience. Selected questions and answers follow the talks.