Question: Namaskar! It is very nice to have you here with us. Every day at the studio we start our day with a meditation. I would like to ask if you feel we should experiment with different meditation techniques, such as focusing on a flame or chanting or whatever?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us take meditation as a divine supermarket. You enter into this supermarket and choose one thing because you like it, and somebody else enters into the supermarket and chooses something else. Then you both go home and enjoy the things that you have chosen in your own ways. So meditation is the supermarket. When we enter into meditation, we take the things that we like and bring them to our house to play with or to eat.

Meditation has to come from within, so everybody will have his own way of meditating. Again, there is such a thing as kindred or complementary souls. They may live in different parts of the world, but inwardly they have a special affinity. They are like flowers that come from the same kind of plant. One person can be in America and somebody else can be in Europe or Africa, but the beauty and fragrance of their flower-hearts are exactly the same. So naturally they will enjoy a similar kind of meditation.

But it is not necessary to meditate only with kindred souls. When we meditate, if the persons sitting around us are not meditating in exactly the same way, no harm! It does not mean that our own meditation is superior or inferior; it means only that our meditation is different. Each of us is bringing forward what pleases him or her most.

Some will try to make themselves as vast as the ocean or the sky, so their thoughts will not disturb them. Birds fly through the sky, but they do not leave any trace. Similarly, if we see inside our mind the vastness of the sky, then our thoughts cannot disturb us. That is one way.

Again, we know that if we cherish one undivine or uncomely thought, it is enough to destroy our divine consciousness. So, some people want to stop the thought process completely. They will not allow any thought to come into their mind, whether that thought is a friend or an enemy. Since they have no idea who is going to knock at their mind's door, they feel the best thing is to keep it bolted from inside. Then, after some time, their enemies — which are their undivine thoughts — will disappear, for these enemies will consider it beneath their dignity to spend so much time waiting outside a locked door. But good thoughts, which are friends, will wait indefinitely. Good thoughts will say, "I am sure my friend is doing something very special. That is why he is not opening the door. Because I love him, I will wait here until he is ready to see me." So if we do not allow any thoughts to enter into our mind, eventually all our bad thoughts will disappear and, after a while, only divine thoughts will remain. Then, when we open our mind's door, we will have only good, inspiring thoughts. That is another way.

Chanting is also a way. By chanting God's Name or some Attribute of God, we can bring down or bring to the fore bliss, and this bliss will permeate our entire body. There are many other ways to elevate our consciousness. Prayer is also a way. People who find it difficult to meditate can pray. Prayer immediately purifies our mind, illumines our pride and arrogance, and humbles our life. Prayer can purify and illumine so many of our undivine qualities. Prayer and meditation are equally good. When I pray, I fold my hands and go up, up, up to my Father in Heaven and tell Him what I need or what I want. When I meditate, I go deep within and listen to my Father's Messages. When I pray, I talk and God listens. When I meditate, God talks and I listen. At that time, I have to feel that I am at His Behest and that when He asks me to do something, it is for my own good.

There are many kinds of prayer. I can ask God to fulfil all my desires. He has that capacity, but I have to know that each time He fulfils my desires, my desires only increase and I become more of a deplorable beggar. I ask God to give me a house. He says, "Granted!" But my hunger is not satisfied, and I ask for a second house. So He gives me a second house. Then I feel I need a third house and I beg for that. I cannot manage even my first house, and here I am asking for a third and a fourth house!

The best kind of prayer is to ask God to grant us what He feels is best. The best kind of prayer is to ask God to fulfil Himself in and through us in His own Way. Each time we please God in His own Way, we become a better divine instrument, a better citizen of the world and a brighter Smile of God's. Let us say, "O Lord, You know whether I need a cottage, a small house or a palace. If You feel that I should have a palace, and if You know that I can use that palace divinely to make You happy in Your own Way, only then do I want You to give me a palace." That is the kind of prayer your brother Narada is offering. His prayer to the Supreme is: "If You want me to have a house that is smaller than the smallest, I am ready. If You want me to have a palace, then give me a palace." He has got a palace, but he is using it for the seekers; he is using it for a divine purpose. Again, when he was living in New York, he had an apartment that was smaller than the smallest. At that time he was satisfied with a little. Now God wants him to be happy in another way — with a very big house. And with his music, which is a universal language, he is spreading the fruits of his prayer and meditation.