We are within the universe, we house the universe within.
Inspiration and aspiration arise from within, and guide us within. Our Path appears from within, and leads us – within.
We meditate to hear the message from within. From within, we hear the message whispered: “Meditate.”
Within as we go, so we sow; as we sow, so we grow; as we grow, so we flow; as we flow, so we know; as we know, so we glow; as we glow, so we bestow – within…
All our outer thoughts, intentions, actions, reactions, experiences and achievements arise from within. Our entire outer lives are patterned within. The wheel of karma turns from within. Our will is forged, our destiny is mapped, our future sculpted, within.
Within, every question is answered before being asked; within, every problem is solved before being posed.
Everything we are, we are within; everything we have, we have from within.
Within is our dream, our ideal, our real – within is our hope, our promise, our fulfilment.
Within, we transcend the animal; within, we perfect the human; within, we become the divine.
Within, we constantly sing; within, we ceaselessly dance; within, we breathlessly run; within, we eternally fly.
Within is all our love, peace, light, happiness, freedom, fulfilment and all we have ever yearned and searched for.
Within, we cry for God; within, we search for God; within, we remember God; within, we discover God; within, we love God; within, we adore God; within, we worship God; within, we play with God; within, we capture God; within, we realise God.
We are the children, we are the parents, of within.
“The cone of silence” is a figure of speech, denoting an imaginary area, pact or bond wherein certain knowledge is protected, never revealed, from which secrets cannot escape. For this exercise, let’s imagine this cone of silence is absolutely real – yet instead of keeping secrets inside, our cone keeps everything out. It is a cone of brilliant light, so dazzling that one simply cannot see anything beyond it. We are enveloped within our cone: beyond the cone, nothing.
Our cone is an absolute vacuum, an exclusion zone with no atmosphere wherein there physically cannot exist any sound, any vibration, any thought, notion, concept or mental formulation whatsoever. The silence is palpable, impermeable, absolute.
Practise: invoke and sit inside your cone of silence for a few minutes each day, gradually extending the time as you become comfortable and familiar with the sensation. In the beginning it is a strange and foreign feeling, because we are just not used to being in a silent mind. With time and practise, our cone becomes more and more familiar, a welcome relief and refuge. The longer we can spend inside our cone, the deeper the peace, beauty and clarity that are revealed to us from within.
Our cone of silence cleanses our mind and emotions; removes stress, confusion, fear and doubt; clarifies our mental vision; rekindles our aspiration; realigns our purpose and goals; refreshes our enthusiasm; and re-energises our determination. Our cone replenishes and nourishes all our heart’s good qualities – our love, sweetness, compassion, hope, joy, courage and eagerness – and keeps us always young.
With practise and familiarity, your cone of silence becomes your trusted and reliable friend, adviser, saviour, companion and confidant, always on call, ever ready to protect, guide, inspire and illumine you under all circumstances, any time, everywhere.
“God speaks in silence. Also, He interprets His message in silence. So also let us hear and understand God in silence.”
– Sri Chinmoy
“The silence of meditation Is power beyond measure.”
– Sri Chinmoy
To enter into a silent mind is very challenging, for we are used to our minds being constantly engaged. Challenging, yes: impossible, no! We simply have to practise and persist, doggedly, determinedly, eagerly, relentlessly – and patiently.
To begin with, since our mind feels the need to be engaged, engage it in a creative visualisation exercise where we imagine ourselves somewhere absolutely silent, and become one with the scene. Here are 4 such scenarios:
1) sitting in meditation, focus for a few minutes on your breathing, slowing and calming the breath as you bring all your attention to its wondrous rhythm. Now see in front of you the vast ocean. Admire its immensity; appreciate its stupendous power. Feel the ocean is drawing you to it, into it, down into its depths, embracing and enfolding you lovingly, tenderly, safely in its secret heart of hearts. Immerse yourself in wrapt awe in the silence, deeper even than the vast ocean itself…
2) you are on the summit of the highest mountain. Below, seemingly the entire world stretches out, above only the infinite blue. The day is still; nothing lives here, nothing stirs. The silence is absolute…
3) you are a seed under the ground. Your entire universe is wrapped up inside you, self-contained. Everything – shape, growth, light, even sound – are all in potential, nothing is yet formed. You are wrapped in complete and perfect silence…
4) you are in the core of the sun. The sheer intensity, immensity, clarity and enormity are all-engulfing. Thought, concept, sound, desire and distraction have no admittance here. Silence reigns supreme…
Silence doesn’t depend on time or space. Within silence, time ceases and space dissolves. To own silence is to command time and space. Silence is eternal, indivisible and indestructible. Silence is the infinite field of the universe, the canvass of creation, the stage of the cosmic play, the source of sound, action and evolution. Everything flows from silence and everything flows eventually back into silence. Silence envelops all, encompasses all, embraces all, knows all and owns all. Without silence, nothing can exist, nothing can be done and nothing can become.
Silence knows no fear because silence has nothing to lose. Silence knows no doubt, no insecurity, hesitation, pretension or falsehood.
We are used to seeing and experiencing the world from its externals, its events, happenings and circumstances. To enter into silence is to experience the world from the inside, to enter into the source and cause of all effects.
We are used to everything being relative. Silence is absolute. Silence is the Beyond and the Beyond is silence. To enter into silence is to come home, finally, fully and eternally.
Silence houses all possibilities and all outcomes. To enter into silence is to grasp the steering wheel of destiny.
“In the Beginning was the Word” … and before the beginning, is Silence.
Silence embodies the universe; silence embodies us … and we embody silence.
“Meditation is silence, energising and fulfilling. Silence is the eloquent expression of the inexpressible.”
– Sri Chinmoy
“Silence, the mystic birthplace of the soul.”
– Sri Aurobindo
When we speak of silence in meditation, we speak not of outer silence, the absence of sound; but the inner silence, the absence of thought and desire. This inner silence is the womb and cradle of our meditation and all spiritual progress.
We are not accustomed to inner silence. Our minds and emotions are in such constant movement and chaos, it is very difficult to conceive of, let alone achieve, inner silence. Our identities are so enmeshed in our matrix of thoughts, phobias, desires, prejudices and preconceived ideas that we simply cannot imagine ourselves existing without them: our mind therefore fears silence as it fears its own extinction.
How then to achieve, how to become inner silence?
To merely want silence is not enough; we have to treasure it as our only need. We must yearn for silence the way we yearn to be with our beloved. We must cry for silence the way we would thirst for water after days in the desert. We must strive for silence the way we would strive in an Olympic gold medal playoff. We must fight for silence the way we would fight for our life. We must cherish silence the way we cherish our own child…
… because silence is the Source: silence embodies every answer, every solution, every resolution, every fulfilment, every satisfaction, every victory; all love, all knowledge, all beauty, all perfection, all happiness, all wisdom and all bliss. Silence is not only golden: silence is all colours, all forms, all music, all art, all science, all learning, all spirituality, all aspiration and all realisation. Silence is all, and all is in silence.
We are accustomed to the notion that progress is the outcome of learning. In our outer lives, learning and education are fundamental values, cherished personal goals, pillars of civilisation, bedrock of our society, culture and economy.
Yet in the spiritual life, learning is virtually useless: far more precious and pressing urgent, is unlearning.
Acquiring knowledge is a function of the mind. The more we learn, the more baggage our minds accumulate: ideas, notions, concepts, methods, theories, beliefs, ideals, prejudices and judgements. All this baggage combines and recombines to inform our world-view and our self-view. The more laden our mind with thoughts, the more cluttered with concepts, the more our mind’s sprawling contents and processes dominate and captivate our consciousness. There is simply no room or bandwidth to see or feel beyond our mental behemoth; the mind subsumes our concept of self and assumes stewardship of our identity. We think and act as though we are the mind. Thus, living as a lie, spiritually we die.
Lacking the heart’s capacity for love, identification and oneness, our minds sit apart from reality, seeking to know and control through analysis and guesswork. We build, project and inhabit models or constructs of reality – informed guesses, inherently false and flimsy. The mind is a hoarder of falsehoods and champion of ignorance – our mentality, once fancying we walked on a flat earth, is today greedier than ever for illusion, delusion and confusion-profusion.
All our minds’ cherished truths and isms are so many relative falsehoods: all are barriers to spiritual progress, self-discovery and fulfilment, to be discarded, overcome – unlearned.
As a snake must shed its own skin, its very identity in order to grow, so must we “unlearn” all we believe we know about the world and ourselves, to discover and become who we truly are.
Every question is the child of its answer. As every sight, sound and fragrance can be traced to a source, so every problem leads inevitably to its own source, its solution.
We are faced with countless questions and endless problems; our very existence presents as an unanswerable question, an insoluble problem. Yet all answers, all solutions, are already within us. If we cannot find them it is because we are not looking in the right place, or in the right way. Questions come from all around us: our outer world is the problem. Their answers are found within: our inner world is the solution.
Questions are indissolubly linked to their answers, as smoke and fire. Problems are intrinsically connected to their solutions by invisible, homing thread, as a migrating bird will return inevitably to its unseen birth-nest on the far side of the world. Each question is the echo of its answer, each problem the reflection of its solution.
We cannot see an object in dense fog, because of the fog. Peering at the object will not make it any clearer. Similarly, thinking, worrying about or dwelling on a problem cannot reveal its solution. The only way to see material objects through dense fog is to clear the fog: then the objects are self-evident. The only way to perceive truth through an obfuscating mind is to empty the mind – to meditate. Then the truth – which was always there – stands “clear as day” before us.
To “meditate on a problem” is a contradiction in terms. To ponder a problem only lends it more credibility and strength. Meditation only reveals solutions. Put aside your problem and meditate in silence. Then allow the solution to present itself in its own charming way, in its own sweet time.
If someone comes to the door of my home, I choose whether or not to welcome them: if they are a friend, I may invite them in; if a stranger, especially if dirty, crazy or aggressive, I refuse them entry.
Yet most of us leave our mental and emotional doors wide open, allowing free access to whatever thoughts, desires, feelings, concepts and prejudices appear, be they positive or negative, friendly or hostile, regardless of the consequences.
This mental open door policy is akin to having an open sewer flowing through our living room. We allow, and even welcome negative thoughts, feelings and emotions to flow freely through the living room of our mind, from where their poisonous vapours spread through the whole house of our being. These mental and emotional pollutants are absolutely as lethal to our consciousness as the germs and viruses we strive so hard to avoid.
Mental and emotional hygiene must be sought and practised routinely with the discipline and rigour we apply to physical hygiene. Just as it is far better to protect ourselves against the invasion of malicious viruses, rather than have to cure a disease once it’s taken hold of us; so is it far better to guard against the intrusion of harmful thoughts and feelings than to have to wrestle with the monsters of mental turmoil and emotional upheaval which feed, incite and inflate the grievous error of ignorance running rampant through the wreckage of our happiness.
Wanting to clean up and discipline our minds by keeping out unwanted thoughts, distractions and desires is one thing: being able to do so is another.
Fortunately there is a way to gain control and release the transformative power of purity in our mind and emotions: practise concentration and meditation, daily.
Imagine the whole stream of thoughts is being projected onto a screen and you are merely an observer, watching them pass by. They are not yours, and you are not theirs. Feel your own existence, happy and complete, separate and independent from what is happening on the screen.
Like sushi on a sushi train, thoughts are passing by and it is up to you to select the ones you like. Select only the positive; absolutely reject the negative. You will be the winner.
With practise, it becomes easy to discriminate between positive and negative thoughts. Positive thoughts open our hearts; negative thoughts close our minds. Positive thoughts uplift and expand us, make us greater; negative thoughts bring us down and reduce us, make us smaller. Positive thoughts put wings on our shoulders; negative thoughts put lead weights on our feet. Positive thoughts nourish our beautiful smile; negative thoughts fuel our furrowed brow and dark frown. Positive thoughts free us; negative thoughts imprison and control us. Positive thoughts give to us and inspire us to give freely; negative thoughts take from us and incite us to take obsessively. Positive thoughts ennoble us; negative thoughts demean us. Positive thoughts serve us; negative thoughts enslave us.
Frequently throughout the day, pause whatever you are doing, and consciously observe the flow of thoughts: at this moment, are you entertaining positive or negative thoughts? Whenever you find they are negative, even slightly so, don’t hesitate: kick them aside ruthlessly before they take hold of you. When they are positive, embrace and expand them gratefully.
Vividly recall your morning meditation. Breathe in all its peace, light, beauty and happiness. In this way your meditation will remain alive the whole day through and protect you from destructive thoughts, your worst enemy.
To control our thoughts we first must accept responsibility for our thoughts. Many of us feel that thoughts just appear from nowhere and are not our responsibility – yet even if a thought does appear from nowhere, it is still our choice whether to accept or reject each thought. If we do not take responsibility for our thoughts, we are fated to remain merely their puppet and parrot.
Just as learning to control thoughts during meditation takes considerable time and effort, so controlling our thoughts during the day also has to be practised, with determination, patience and persistence. Fortunately, meditation not only provides us with our spiritual treasure, but also with the means to protect that treasure.
Just as working out in the gym gives us the physical strength and conditioning to better perform all our physical tasks throughout the day, so the discipline, concentration and discrimination we practise during our meditation, are precisely the qualities we need to strengthen and protect our inner life while going about our busy lives in the outer world.
First we must practise detachment from the thought process. Most of us feel not only that we have thoughts, but even that we are our thoughts, a common error which leads only to suffering. Not only are we not our thoughts, they are not ours at all. The term used in English is absolutely correct: we entertain thoughts. Like any guests who come to our door, it is up to us whether to invite them in, and whether we will entertain them or not. Just as we do not allow just anyone to come into our house – especially not suspicious or dangerous characters – we need to be very careful which thoughts we spend our precious time with.
Most of us do not meditate in order simply to have an enjoyable experience during meditation: we meditate to find and cultivate peace, happiness, love, patience, tolerance, compassion, wisdom and creativity that we might grow in these qualities and express them in our daily lives. We spend time in meditation in order to improve the quality of all the rest of our time we are not in meditation.
What we gain during our meditation is more valuable than anything money can buy, any knowledge, possession or prestige; inner peace, light, love and joy are our real treasures and as long as we have them, we can also share these treasures with others. Just as we safeguard and secure our material wealth and possessions, so it is essential that we value and protect our spiritual treasure, the bounty of our meditation, for it is vulnerable, and can all easily be lost in a moment.
The greatest threat to our meditation treasure comes from our own thoughts. Thoughts are as pervasive in our lives as the air we breath: just as we would never choose to breathe poisonous air, so we need to be careful, vigilant and wise in regard to the thoughts we allow ourselves to play with.
Thoughts can take us to heaven – and to hell. Thoughts can be positive, progressive, inspiring, helpful. Again, they can be catastrophically harmful. All negative thoughts destroy our happiness: thoughts of bitterness, greed, doubt, fear, jealousy, resentment, blame, insecurity, pride. While good thoughts will help us maintain and extend the feeling and benefits of our morning meditation, just one negative thought, like a dark cloud obscuring the sun, has the power to obliterate our meditation-wealth and ruin our day.
“O bird of my heart, Fly on, fly on! Look not behind. Whatever the world gives Is meaningless, useless And utterly false.”
– Sri Chinmoy
“The past is dust.” – Sri Chinmoy
What is dust? Useless, meaningless, annoying waste matter, discarded remnants from previously useful, meaningful things and events.
What is dust good for? Nothing.
What do we do with dust? Get rid of it.
What if we don’t get rid of it? It accumulates, takes the shine off everything and smothers its beauty, distracts and bothers us, clutters our lives, and eventually makes us sick. So we constantly clean it up, and get rid of it.
So is the past. Our goal is perfection, liberation, enlightenment. Whatever our past has given, it has not given us our ultimate goal. Our goal lies ahead of us, not behind. It is always time to move on, to march and run forward, to fly upward.
To reach the ocean of enlightenment, our spiritual life has to be a river, always flowing forward by whatever means possible. A river never looks back; if it does, it becomes a stagnant pond and dies.
We have to be grateful to our past for whatever good, positive experiences and lessons it has brought. Take these positive things and expand them, build upon them. Negative experiences from the past are also valuable for they teach us what to avoid, what does not bring us satisfaction. Take these negative things and transform them into something better, helpful and beautiful.
Offer the past gratitude and move on. Especially during meditation, whenever the past arises, immediately discard it as you would dust. Replace these thoughts with images and feelings of the radiant dawn of your fast-approaching transformation-perfection.
The past is gone. Your glorious future awaits, here and now.
“Forgiveness Sweetens our hearts And Enlightens our minds.” – Sri Chinmoy
“Forgiveness Is the only real happiness That lasts.” – Sri Chinmoy
Forgiveness is both a product of and prerequisite for fruitful meditation and spiritual progress.
Meditation opens and expands our hearts, as a slow-motion blossoming of a flower petal by petal. As our hearts expand, the quality of forgiveness grows naturally and spontaneously, without any conscious effort on our part, for forgiveness is inherent to the heart as fragrance to a flower.
The heart expands to include others, and ultimately all. As our heart identifies with others through love and intuitive oneness, we see and claim both their strengths and weaknesses as our own. When we can see others’ motivations and actions within ourselves, forgiveness flows automatically.
We cannot give what we do not have ourselves. Unless and until we forgive ourselves we can never know or offer forgiveness to others. Forgiving ourselves is as fundamental to our spiritual wellbeing as personal hygiene to our physical health. Every day prior to meditation, breathe in absolute forgiveness for everything you have ever thought, felt or done or will ever think, feel or do.
Our heart longs for happiness everywhere, always. As happiness cannot come without transformation, and transformation cannot come without forgiveness, any lack of forgiveness is always an insuperable hurdle in our hearts’ happiness-quest. Without the flow of forgiveness for all, the quality of our meditation will always “hit a wall” and be held back.
When we become aware of this, we must invoke forgiveness ardently and eagerly from the inexhaustible source of forgiveness in the depths of our hearts. Only when forgiveness flows unconditionally can our meditation aspire to its full potential and unlock all our other hearts’ qualities – peace, love, light, gratitude, sweetness, compassion, wisdom, freedom and bliss.