Question: What techniques do you use in your meditation to achieve inner awareness, an opening up to spiritual strength and the creation of a 'new consciousness'? What do you do and what method do your disciples follow?

Sri Chinmoy: What we sleeplessly need in our inner lives is aspiration — the heart’s inner cry. This aspiration we get from deep within, during our prayer and meditation. God is infinite, and there are infinite ways to realise Him. Similarly, there are many ways to meditate, not one single way. Each individual has to discover his own way of meditation for the fastest spiritual growth.

In the case of my students, I advise them to meditate on the heart, and to think of the compassionate and personal aspect of God. What God has and what God is is infinite Compassion — Compassion in His creation and Compassion beyond His creation. So we try to meditate on this aspect of God. It is like father and child. The father may be very great; others may be afraid of him or hold him in awe. But the child is all love for his father, and can run to his father and speak to him at any time. So we try to approach God the compassionate Father with our heart’s love, devotion and surrender. But there are many ways to approach God, and others may prefer to approach God in His impersonal aspect.

I do not give my students any secret mantra or incantation to repeat. I tell them that if they want to repeat a mantra, they should say “Supreme”. In general, I advise them to remain calm and quiet and not to allow any thoughts to disturb their minds.

Sometimes I ask them to do different things in order to get inspiration. I may tell them to look at a flower and appreciate its beauty and purity, so that they will be reminded of their soul’s inner beauty and purity. Or I may ask them to get inspiration by looking at the flame of a candle, since this outer flame will remind them of their inner flame. I may ask them to imagine a vast expanse of water and try to enter into its vastness during their meditation. I may ask them to imagine a mountain, because this will inspire them to raise their consciousness high, higher, highest.

In my writings I have described many more techniques for meditation. The individual seeker has to choose the way that will help him make the fastest progress. But no matter which technique one uses, aspiration is of paramount importance. If one does not have the heart’s burning inner cry for God, then no technique will work. Again, if one is sincerely crying for God, then any technique will work.