“One drop of pleasure-poison
Is enough to destroy
The beauty and purity
Of my aspiration-heart.”
– Sri Chinmoy
One choir member out of tune can ruin an entire performance; one droplet of blood summonses frenzied sharks from afar; one momentary lapse yields a car crash; one stray thought shatters a lofty meditation; one bad choice can terminate one’s spiritual progress.
An oak tree at once carries dead branches of its past, along with acorns of its promising future. Just as humans have evolved from animals, and still embody many limiting and destructive animal propensities – fear, anger, aggression – as ‘memories’ of our animal past, so also we house all the expansive, liberating spiritual qualities – peace, love, light and bliss – as ‘previews’ of our future divine being.
The spiritual life is a very long journey, an evolution from one type of consciousness, from one state of being to another, from the human to the divine. Our spiritual transformation does not occur overnight, as through meditation we gradually transcend the binding, inhibiting limitations of our finite human nature – our body, vital and mind – by nurturing, absorbing, claiming and growing into our infinite within – our divine heart and soul.
As our liberating heart expands in love, peace and oneness, so our mind’s fixed boundaries of certainty, superiority and pride wither and fade, our consciousness awakens from finite to infinite, our identity graduates from confined ego to universal heart.
In this process, what appears desirable or pleasurable to the limiting mind and demanding vital – thoughts and feelings of possession, division, suspicion or dominion – halt and reverse the unfolding of the divine.
Beware: just one miscreant thought or unchecked desire can turn the tide of spiritual progress. The deluding, ravenous ego blocks the doorway of the heart: the promise of spiritual fulfilment vanishes.
My most powerful protection.”
– Sri Chinmoy
We are used to seeking protection from adverse forces of Nature: from accidents, calamities, disaster and disease, as well as from malign human actors: criminals, scammers and betrayers.
Yet in the spiritual life, by far the greatest threats from which we need protection are within ourselves: our own thoughts, misconceptions, fears, doubts, anxieties, jealousies, suspicions, desires and distractions.
All our weaknesses, susceptibilities and points of exposure lie in the finite, limited parts of our being – the physical body, vital and mind. Fortunately, these domains of ours, though they may seem separate and isolated when viewed alone, all exist within the greater whole of our selves – our heart and soul.
It is the natural role of the heart and soul to shelter and protect their little siblings, body, vital and mind. Our heart and soul act as our personal fortress, impregnable against all foes. But any fortress can only protect those inside it. To be safe, we need only to remain inside our fortress, and not indulge ourselves to wander in fantasy-forest or wallow in desire-quagmire as we are continually tempted to do.
As germs enter us via polluted food, drink and air, so negativity enters our system via thoughts and desires. Once they gain entry, thoughts and desires, like germs, can be deadly. In pure meditation in our heart and soul, in the absence of thought and desire, no negativity can enter us or take hold.
Especially in meditation, every thought, every intention matters. Guard and protect the purity, simplicity and sanctity of your meditation as though your life, safety and happiness depend on it – for indeed they do. In turn, the purity, simplicity and sanctity of your meditation will guard, protect and save you, everywhere and always.
If a person standing behind a pole, shows only their right hand and left foot from opposite sides of the pole, we clearly see that the hand and foot are different and separate objects. Yet remove the pole, and we see they are of one person. Our mind is that pole, predisposing us always to perceive separate and opposing parts, and never the whole.
A larger perspective always reveals a larger reality, a more complete picture, a fuller, greater oneness. To perceive the whole, we must remove the pole – in our case, our minds’ limited and limiting view.
The surest escape route from our mind’s prison cell, is to fly on meditation-wings into the boundless sky of our heart. From this elevated perspective we are afforded the fullest, unimpeded realisation of reality.
Our spiritual heart is our centre of harmony, love, compassion, light, wisdom, joy and oneness with the divine. Infinite itself, the heart knows, claims and becomes the infinite reality by the identification of oneness. To the heart of all-embracing love, all secrets are revealed. Within the heart’s ever-transcending heights and depths, the unknown and even the unknowable ever bloom and blossom.
Opposites and conflict only flourish within the bounds of the finite mind. In our heart’s realms of the infinite, in our unhorizoned meditation, contradictions are resolved and conflict evaporates.
The heart embraces north and south, left and right, male and female, light and dark, creation and dissolution, sound and silence as integral, equal and indispensable partners in the cosmic dance.
While in the mind’s domain, polarisation is the pinnacle of division, in the heart’s realm, polarity is the exquisite expression of unity in multiplicity.
The earth literally revolves on the axis of its poles: ‘tis the dance of our opposites makes us whole.
Good/bad, right/wrong, up/down, in/out, positive/negative, night/day, truth/falsehood, us/them – we feel ever-increasing polarisation in our lives and society, and growing concern around this phenomenon.
Yet it is we who create and nurture this polarisation, we who relish its game.
The finite can never comprehend the infinite. Being finite, our mind has no faculty to grasp Truth and Reality, which are infinite. So the mind is forever taking strands of what it perceives, weaving these strands into models of ‘truth’ in the form of ideas, theories, suppositions, superstitions, beliefs and opinions, then labelling and claiming these culled fictions as reality, arguing for and defending these apparitions as though its very existence depended on them – until it changes its mind and supplants one fantastic model with another.
Secretly aware of its own incapacity, the finite mind nurses inherent insecurity, which it masks with the bluff and pretension of being in control and knowing all.
To buttress this bluff, the mind must have an answer for everything. Nothing threatens the mind’s certitude like the unknown or unknowable. That which cannot be defined, is instinctively denied, denigrated or applied with any stick-on label – no matter how obtuse, unlikely or absurd.
In search of understanding and control, the mind sits apart from the world in judgement, scrutinising people, events and phenomena with its feeble flashlight of analysis, doubt and suspicion. Thus the world becomes objectified, and the heart’s love, empathy and concern fade. The mind sees no foothold in blissful oneness: walling itself off from the ‘other’ in its tower of self-righteousness, the mind needs differentiation, breeds and feeds division to sustain its illusion of supremacy.
Polarisation is not the root, but the inevitable bitter fruit of the tree of division: an invariable outcome of a universal problem – our minds’ assumed autocracy.
Debate has raged forever amongst religions, sects and pundits between some who insist God is personal, with form, and others adamant God is impersonal, without form.
Otherwise innocent people have had their children confiscated, careers destroyed, been imprisoned, tortured, exiled or burned at the stake merely for believing one or the other.
All agree their God is infinite, eternal, immortal, omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent, One who can do or be anything, everywhere, any time: such being the case, a personal God can easily be impersonal, while an impersonal God can readily be personal.
Both beliefs are true, authentic and correct. As the shape of a mountain appears radically different when seen from the south or north, so the difference between a personal and impersonal God lies in our perspective. They are One: the same Being, viewed from different angles.
God, the Supreme, or whatever name or term you wish to adopt, is the Source of all – personal and impersonal. All that exists in all realms – physical, metaphysical and spiritual – has and is the Supreme in its essence.
Viewed objectively, we observe the impersonal God of phenomena, the ultimate machine of infinite height, depth, power and vastness, cosmic energy, order and chaos, creation and dissolution, answer and solution, evolution, law, karma, mathematics, cause and effect.
Felt subjectively, we humans as God’s children, instruments and prototypes, experience our Supreme as intimately personal – the ultimate embodiment of all we value, treasure and most aspire for – all-encompassing love, peace, affection, courage, sweetness, forgiveness, compassion, patience, wisdom, willpower, playfulness, humour, mystery, music, dance and drama – our most complete, perfect, delight-flooded, fullest and highest Self.
An impersonal God may be our minds’ highest discovery; our personal Beloved Supreme, our hearts’ sweetest awakening; the summit-oneness of both – personal and impersonal – our lives’ flowering realisation.
“Arise! Awake! – and stop not till the goal is reached.”
– Swami Vivekananda (after the Katha Upanishad)
As we progress along our spiritual journey, we each perceive our goal according to our background, spiritual practise and inner proclivity. While some seek liberation, others may aspire for enlightenment or only God-satisfaction.
Just as we must wake up in the morning before we can pursue our daily tasks and activities, common to most paths and traditions is the concept of spiritual awakening, as a necessary precursor to conscious growth and progress. While this awakening may be observed outwardly through a ritual initiation or baptism, the inner awakening arises from a stirring of the soul, whether induced by the inner touch of a spiritual Master or the fortuitous breath of grace.
As a single spark may start a monumental forest fire, or a tremor under the floor of a distant ocean results in a massive tsunami on another continent, so the daybreak of our inner awakening – though we are likely unconscious of it at the time – is the singular moment of destiny in our lives, leading inevitably and inexorably to the complete and radical transformation of our entire consciousness.
We are the same person, whether asleep or awake: only when awake, we are more conscious. Even so, while spiritually asleep amidst the wastelands of ignorance, delusions of desire and errors of ego, all our limitless capacities, soaring realisations and stupendous achievements lie coiled within us, dormant.
We imagine it is necessary first to awake before we arise. Yet Swami Vivekananda’s injunction is first arise, and then awake. Before thinking of enlightenment, liberation or realisation, we must first arise, take up our action stations of prayer, invocation, meditation and self-giving service: only then awakening dawns, and our inevitable God-realisation – petal by petal – blossoms.
Spiritual writings can be read again and again. As we absorb their wisdom, our inner understanding blossoms like a flower and we become more receptive to ever-deeper insights. The same book, poem or passage can be read a hundred times over the course of years, each repetition yielding a new and deeper treasure of beauty, truth and delight. Each reading opens a new doorway into our hearts, each doorway an opening to fresh light from a future reading.
Spiritual writings show the true significance, beauty and power of words as revealed truth. Throughout history, spiritual light has been imparted from Master to disciple primarily in silence, and next through the spoken or chanted word. The Vedas, the world’s oldest known writings, are transcriptions of the Sanskrit mantras and chants through which these seers revealed and imparted their spiritual realisations. As the Vedas originated in the enunciated word of mantra, a truth echoed by the Bible – “In the beginning was the Word” – so all spiritual writings, as living, resonant truth, are best spoken, chanted or sung aloud. Spoken or intoned words vibrate in our physical frame, even as their meaning activates our mind, their beauty resonates in our heart and their truth thrills our soul.
Spiritual writings initiate our inner awakening, activate our inner awareness, tutor and partner us in the steps and cadence of our inner life’s dance. They summon from within, all the qualities needed for the journey – hope, promise, consolation, courage, determination, wonder, faith, patience, devotion, reverence, sweetness, humility and happiness, conveying ways of seeing, feeling and being that resonate in our own depths and convey a thrill of recognition of our own inmost self.
Spiritual writings take us home and reveal ourselves to ourselves: words that transport us to realms beyond words.
To meditate, we need inspiration and aspiration. One of the easiest, most reliable and rewarding ways to awaken, nurture and intensify both our inspiration and aspiration, is to read spiritual writings, especially the works of spiritual Masters.
Most of what we read feeds our mind with information (or misinformation), or stirs our vital with emotion. The writings of spiritual Masters nourish our whole being with illumination, for they are not theories, fantasies or opinions, but revelations of reality. They do not describe a fruit; they are the fruit.
Because Truth is our very essence, our inner depths resonate when words of Truth are spoken, heard or read. Thrilling to this resonance, something within us identifies with and claims these words as our own, even feeling, “I could have written this”. In the presence of spiritual writings, a seeker will feel that he or she is rediscovering or recovering something known all along – but forgotten. We recognise ourselves. Amidst the beauty of spiritual writings, we feel connected, at home, complete. By itself, a gong is mute and still: only when struck by a mallet it becomes a miracle of wondrous reverberation. Such is the power of spiritual writing to rouse from an inert heart and unconscious life, a magical flowering of ever-transcending fulfilment.
When you find a poem, aphorism or passage that speaks to you, moves and inspires you, welcome it into your heart. Such passages become our unfailing friends, confidants, mentors, teachers and saviours – helping, guiding, reassuring, protecting and illumining our every breathing moment. What we love most, we become: taking our beloved passages to heart and intoning them soulfully, their truth, beauty and power are implanted and grow within our hearts, resonate throughout our being and blossom in our lives: we are transformed.
Today – the 27th of August – is Sri Chinmoy’s birthday.
A birthday is an occasion to appreciate and celebrate a person’s goodness, achievements and inspiration: to savour the flowers, fruits and bounty of their life-tree.
Sri Chinmoy credited all that he became, achieved, created and offered, to his spiritual life of prayer and meditation. Sri Chinmoy taught and wrote that meditation is the key to happiness, creativity, self-discovery, self-transcendence, personal fulfilment and world-transformation: his staggeringly vast, beautiful, powerful, rich and nourishing life-tree is the most compelling proof, witness and advocate of his words.
Sri Chinmoy’s mind-boggling accomplishments, especially in weightlifting and feats of strength, have completely obliterated our conception of the humanly possible.
Composer of 23,000 songs; author of 1,700 published books and over 120,000 poems; creator of 135,000 paintings and 16 million bird drawings – Sri Chinmoy’s creative output towers in jaw-dropping magnitude, and soars in expressive variety, exquisite beauty and breathtaking originality.
Sri Chinmoy’s output dwarfs the life’s work of any individual in each of music, poetry and art – let alone all these fields combined. History has never witnessed such a manifold, incessant, flood of creative force pouring through one individual.
Even to believe Sri Chinmoy’s achievements, we are compelled to abandon our insular minds: to embrace his life’s significance, we are impelled to meditate, to dive into our hearts’ deeper oneness, vaster vision and higher power. Sri Chinmoy is a mirror, reflecting back to us our own potential, our super-human capacity and divine destiny. Sri Chinmoy’s God-glowing life offers us choice and opportunity: we can disbelieve and deny – and remain inwardly impoverished and outwardly diminished; or we can believe, embrace and fly into our own beckoning, unhorizoned liberation-sky.
The inspiration-stage is set, the aspiration-curtain raised…
Step forward, meditate, love and become – our time is now.
There is a passage in the scriptures in which one of the Prophets foretold: “He shall roar with a flaming mane”. While there is some conjecture surrounding the exact word for ‘mane’ in the original ancient Greek manuscript, scholars concur this is clear proof, offered hundreds of years before His birth, that Jesus’ hair and beard were distinctively flame-red…
Another verse of scripture prophesises: “Smiling, his bracelets glistening, he offers camel curd from an earthen pot”. We know from archaeological digs that it was customary among the ancient Chaldeans, for males to wear jewellery. The Chaldeans were renowned for their mastery of clay pottery and their uniformly chestnut-coloured hair. Scholars unanimously agree this verse indicates Jesus’ family was of Chaldean lineage, hence his beard was undoubtedly chestnut-coloured…
Jesus’ father, Joseph, was a carpenter, a specialised trade requiring several years’ apprenticeship under the guidance of a master-tradesman. It was a requirement at the time, that qualified tradesmen and their sons, must dye their hair and beards black, to signify their status. Scholars are adamant on this point: as the son of a Galilean carpenter, Jesus’ beard can only have been black…
The Shroud of Turin is from Jesus’ burial sheet. Recent data analysis of ultra-radio spectrum scans, coupled with DNA and genomic sequencing of a hair-strand fragment from this hallowed fabric, show conclusively that Jesus’ beard, of which this strand stands as definitive physical evidence, was of a straw-blonde hue…
Can you believe the stupidity, the arrogant ignorance of these so-called scholars? There is a sublime portrait of Jesus above the altar in my church. I have gazed upon it, transfixed in loving wonder, since my early childhood: the absolute living likeness of our Lord. Come, come anytime and see for yourself –
“When we please our soul,
Our soul blesses us
With torrential blessing-rain.”
– Sri Chinmoy
Imagine a tropical rainforest: green, dense, buzzing, pulsing, steaming and teeming with infinite intricate, parallel, interconnected leapings and twinings of one magnificent, multi-munificent life-drama.
Our earth is abundantly rich, diverse and fruitful, offering everything we need and more – as long as one essential ingredient is present: rain from above.
Without rain, earth is a dry, lifeless desert incapable of sustaining, nourishing or satisfying anything or anyone.
In the spiritual realm, rain symbolises blessings and divine grace, descending unconditionally from ‘above’. Like the earth without rain, without grace we are useless and helpless; with grace we can be anything and everything.
Like earth, we already have everything needed for a rich, nourishing and fulfilling life within us: peace, love, light and bliss in infinite measure. Just as rain must fall on the ground for seeds to germinate and flowers to bloom, so to activate these spiritual qualities and manifest them in our lives, the descent of divine grace is indispensable.
How to attract these blessings into our lives?
“A silence-flooded mind I need
To receive the Compassion-Rain
Of my Lord Supreme.”
– Sri Chinmoy
In meditation, we are the earth, crying and longing for the descent of rain from above. We have within us all the seeds of future success and progress, and all the minerals and nutrients needed to nourish and nurture our blossoming growth. As the earth yearns in helpless silence for the blessings of rain, so we, with a silent, thoughtless mind, open our hearts in prayer for the magic touch of divine grace for our completion and fulfilment.
The farmer ploughs and sows the field: we pray and meditate.
The rest is done by the grace of rain, and the rain of grace.
This is a creative visualisation exercise. Sit comfortably, with your spine straight. Focus on your breath for a while, bringing the flow under your conscious and careful control. Either close, or let your eyes rest on something simple, pure, beautiful and inspiring.
Gradually uplift your conscious awareness from your body. Feel that ‘you’ are not the body: rather you are floating above, filling the room. Just as you separated from your body, detach also from your desires and emotions, and then from all thoughts, concepts, notions and beliefs. Leave them all there in your body for now, as you float beyond and above the room, this building, your city, the whole planet…
Without a mind, thoughts, words, ideas, desires or physical needs, all you have and all you are is love; unconditional, pure, spontaneous, absolute, radiant, universal love. You are in all as every pulsing, longing, loving heart. You see and feel the entire wondrous world within you, all beautiful, all blissful, all perfection. Though floating high above, you perceive every tiniest movement and finest detail of each person, animal, plant and particle; you hear, feel and know all from within as an intricate, inter-connected, ecstatic symphony of microscopic and supra-cosmic dance. Your very core thrills with the secret, inmost, oneness-yearning heartthrob of all being. You are at once above, around and all-where within, all-embracing, all-encompassing, all-flowing, all-glowing, all-fulfilling oneness-love.
The more love you feel, the more love you become; the more love you see and feel everywhere, in everything and everyone, the more you see and feel everyone and everything as love – ever deepening, ever-expanding, ever-sweetening, ever-purifying, ever-blossoming, ever-transcending and ever-perfecting oneness-love.
Your universe is a sphere of love, one, myriad and whole: only love breathes, moves, shines, smiles, initiates, completes and is, eternally is.
“There is no difference
Between collecting and storing garbage
And identifying with the impure thoughts
Of the human mind.”
– Sri Chinmoy
In meditation, we are like a swan gliding gracefully across the lake’s placid façade: all blissful serenity, while below the surface, out of sight, its legs are pumping frantically to propel its forward momentum.
The real work, the heavy lifting of meditation, is done in secret, out of sight and out of mind, by a consortium of our higher self – our soul, our Guru and God.
We meditate to rid ourselves of the mind’s endlessly compounding and confounding convictions, conniptions, connivings and contrivings. The problem is we are so attached to these phantasms, that they have subsumed our very identity. Like a miser who will not let his treasures out of his sight, we obsess constantly over our worries, fears and vanities and won’t let them out of our awareness.
Meditation acts like a magic trick, where the magician’s sleight of hand, the distraction, is the peace, light and bliss of our meditation experience. We are entranced by the allure of this all-encompassing, all-fulfilling, all-nourishing state.
Enraptured, we fall into the embrace of meditation eagerly and gratefully.
While thus engaged, and distracted from our problems, our soul works behind the scenes in silence, to remove the garbage – the pride, insecurity, stress, doubt, error, trepidation and confusion of our mind.
Why then, do these same problems reappear, time and again?
We might as well ask why dust settles on surfaces recently cleaned, or rubbish accumulates in the bin. As long as we inhabit and identify with our minds, the garbage of ignorance will continue to accrue – and will always need removing.
Under the cover of meditation, our soul is ever eager for the task.