When we engage in any new activity, we always want to know how we are progressing – are we doing everything correctly, can our technique be improved, are we getting satisfactory results?
Meditation is a subtle experience. There is no objective measurement or sign or proof that we are meditating well, or not. Especially in the beginning, this uncertainty about whether we are even heading in the right direction, and lack of concrete proofs of our progress, can be frustrating, even disheartening.
With meditation, it is essential to throw ourselves into it eagerly and utterly – and have no expectation of any result whatsoever. The fruits of our efforts will and must come – but will ripen in their own time, which we cannot force. Our only focus must be our regularity, punctuality and wholehearted application.
Don’t expect to attain a thoughtless mind, timeless bliss or universal oneness-love right away. Sri Chinmoy offers some simple, practical, down-to-earth advice on what we can look for:
“We can easily know whether we are meditating well or not just by the way we see and feel and think. Right after our meditation, if we have a good feeling for the world, then we know our meditation was good. If we see the world in a loving way in spite of its imperfections, if we can love the world even while seeing its teeming imperfections, then we know that our meditation was good. And if we have a dynamic feeling right after meditation, if we feel that we came into the world to do something, to become something, this indicates that we have done a good meditation.”
Goodwill, clarity and positivity: these are striking spiritual achievements. Hold on to them, maintain them throughout the day. Your meditation will grow from strength to strength.
We meditate for peace, clarity, happiness and self-confidence. We meditate to align ourselves with new direction, meaning and purpose. We meditate to discover our higher self, to activate our true potential, to expedite our self-transcendence, to take command of our destiny and to invoke a better world.
We meditate to bring forward new, better ways of seeing, feeling, becoming and being. To welcome the new, we must relinquish the old; to establish the new, we must replace the old.
Our old self, our old established ways of seeing, feeling, becoming and being are precisely what have generated all the problems, complications and unhappiness we are seeking to overcome and transcend through meditation: the ways of our lower self, our desire-bound possession hunger, our self-centred ego-aggrandisement project: ”I, me and mine”. This way separates us from the world, isolates us from others and alienates us from our own soul, our wellspring of peace, love and happiness.
It’s “my way or the higher way.” My way means to put my desires and interests ahead of others, to take from the world rather than to give, to follow my mind ahead of my heart.
Going our own way, our ego’s way, in preference to following the subtler, finer dictates of our heart and soul, has not satisfied us and can never lead us to abiding satisfaction. To go my way is a revolving door, leading always back into prison. To go the higher way is to fly free from the ego-prison.
So once you have started on the path of meditation, once you have committed to the spiritual life, never go your own way! Pray for direction, meditate for guidance and illumination so that the better way, the new way, the higher way can be revealed from within.
“Do not look around at others.
Just go forward!
For you, and you alone,
Will be accountable for your inner progress.”
– Sri Chinmoy
Meditation is self-discovery. Only we can discover ourselves, and the self we discover is ours alone.
The inspiration to meditate dawns within; the fragrance of meditation spreads within; the fruits of meditation ripen within. Meditation is of ourselves, within ourselves, from ourselves, and for both ourselves and the world.
This is not to say meditation is a selfish activity – au contraire, through meditation we become a much better influence on others and can offer far better service to the world.
We strive to please others. We’ll adjust our schedule to fit in with others – let’s play frisbee at 4 tomorrow because that’s when Clive can make it – and we set aside our personal preferences for the needs of others – we’ll have the pizza without olives because Danielle doesn’t care for them.
When it comes to meditation, I must think of pleasing only one person – myself. Once I have found the peace, love, light and joy I seek through meditation, then I can happily share them with all.
Don’t wait for your friends or family to be inspired to meditate, before starting yourself. If you are inspired, this is your time and you must follow your inner call. Later will be too late.
Sometimes friends oppose our meditation practise for one reason or another. Don’t listen to them! A genuine friend will always support our happiness search and self-improvement quest.
You cannot give what you do not have: if you want to make someone else happy, then first find happiness in yourself – meditate! Only then your happiness can be shared.
Go alone. Start now. You will be happy, and your world will be perfect.
“God Himself will quench
At His choice Hour.”
– Sri Chinmoy
There is a God-Hour that inspires us to meditate – “Call has come!” – and another God-Hour to yield the fruits of our meditation. Meditation is the response to one God-Hour – the call to the spiritual life – and the preparation for another God-Hour – the moment of our God-realisation. As our meditation deepens and expands, we awake into the discovery of our spiritual life as one continuous, glorious, ever-blossoming God-Hour.
The farmer ploughs the field, sows the seed and tends the crop. This is all necessary preparation and yet not sufficient to yield a harvest: the crop must be allowed to grow “all in good time.” Nature must be allowed to take its course. The farmer can – and must – wish, pray and prepare for the result, but also has to wait, for as long as it takes.
Similarly, we must throw ourselves into our prayer, meditation and spiritual practice, unreservedly and unconditionally with our all-encompassing love, soul’s yearning, unwavering discipline, burning aspiration and wholehearted dedication – and await the results, for as long as it takes.
Our perfect God-Hour has two parents: intense eagerness and limitless patience. Our perfect God-Hour has two children: resolute faith and cheerful surrender. Our best meditation has the same two parents and the same two children: intense eagerness, limitless patience, resolute faith and cheerful surrender. Our best meditation and our perfect God-Hour are one.
From within, the God-Hour inspires our meditation; from within, our meditation reveals the God-Hour; through our meditation, from within we grow into and become the living, breathing, manifesting and transcending God-Hour, without.
The God-Hour is God’s magic wand and victory-banner; the flow of God’s Grace; the breath of God’s Compassion; the radiance of God’s Love; God as Love; the God-Love.
“Before the God-Hour strikes
Opportunity is meaningless.
After the God-Hour strikes
Opportunity is useless.
Everything must be done
Exactly at the very moment
The God-Hour strikes.”
– Sri Chinmoy
While the “Hour of God” refers to a specific time, very early in the morning, when meditation is most fruitful, the “God-Hour” – or “God’s choice Hour” – can be any time of day: it is the moment when an event or outcome is ripe, ready and meant to occur.
The God-Hour is the moment a seed germinates; the moment an apple falls from the tree; the moment the sun rises; a wave breaks; a volcano erupts; a train departs; the same train arrives; an arrow is released; the bell tolls; the moment of birth, and of death …
The God-Hour marks the decisive close of the old; and the auspicious commencement of the new. The God-Hour does not just happen: it is the result of preparation. This preparation may be inner and hidden, behind the scenes; or it may be all our outer, conscious effort.
By discarding its old, smaller and tighter skin, the snake is able to reveal a new skin which then expands, and thus it grows. The new skin must first develop underneath the old: if the old skin were shed before the new is ready – before the ‘God-Hour’ – the snake would die. Likewise, if the old is clung on to and not discarded at the right time, the expanding new skin underneath would be intolerable. The snake is a metaphor for our own growth from our ‘old’ restrictive desire-life into our ‘new’ liberating aspiration-life – all at the destined, inevitable God-Hour.
We cannot force the God-Hour – yet we must prepare for it, yearn for it, and when it arrives be ready, willing and eager to embrace it.
“It is true
That you have chosen
The Hour of God.
But it is infinitely more true
That the Hour of God
Has chosen you.”
– Sri Chinmoy
If meditating at midday can be like a perilous drive along a narrow, winding, pot-holed mountain road in a blizzard, God-Hour meditation is piloting a sports car along a straight, wide sunlit freeway with no speed limit.
To meditate at the Brahma Muhurta, the Hour of God, is to sit down to a table already set with a sumptuous feast: we just have to eat and enjoy the meal. Peace, light and bliss crowd all around and within, beckoning; we have only to fall into their arms.
Furthermore, the very aspiration and determination we have harnessed to get up to meditate at 3 or 4 am, sharpens our focus and attracts extra grace, giving us a running start, an extra boost. There is usually no other reason for our being up at this hour, so meditation is our entire preoccupation: it is all systems go – forward, inward and upward.
As ‘morning shows the day’, so our God-Hour meditation sets the stage for our aspiring activity and inspired creativity. When we enjoy sublime meditation in the very early hours, the ensuing day flows as an unfolding and a flowering of the inner divinity we encountered and encompassed at that time.
Ultimately, every time we meditate is the Hour of God, for in meditation we enter into our Source of light, inspiration and aspiration, realisation and revelation; in meditation we are both witness and participant in our daily personal and universal creation and re-creation. In meditation, Brahma stirs within our inner heart as we are enlivened by God’s Breath, enfolded in God-Love, illumined with God-Light and upswept into God’s Dance.
“In the small hours of the morning
God comes to me
Not to preach, not to teach,
But to love me, my entire being.”
– Sri Chinmoy
In the Vedas, the prescribed time for meditation is the Brahma Muhurta, or the Hour of God, around 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning. At this time, it is said the cosmic Gods commence preparing the earth and humanity for the coming day, so it is the best time for us also to start our day’s journey by attuning ourselves with the stirring of the divine creative forces of peace, light and bliss within.
Brahma is the Creator, so the Brahma Muhurta is the time of preparation and creation, of shaping and dreaming – not the meaningless, chaotic dreams of the vital, but the soaring dreams of our soul, the divinely inspired dreams of hope, promise, aspiration, vision and becoming. The coming day is in embryo, its possibilities are being sketched, moulded and energised.
Nature, which later in the day often obstructs our spiritual practice, at this hour harbours our meditation, as all is in the calm quietude of preparation.
Before the sun rises, the outer world is mostly asleep. It has not yet entered into its daily agitation-turmoil. The forces which routinely challenge and disturb our meditation are not yet active, as the engines of distraction recharge their batteries. There are few sounds or vibrations of human activity to disturb us; no pressure of appointments or earthly responsibilities; no schedule, no deadlines to meet; no need to be putting on a public face or persona; no audience to please or perform to – only God, Brahma, all around, all within…
“Regularity is good,
Is infinitely better.”
– Sri Chinmoy
For our best spiritual progress, punctuality is of supreme benefit.
On the face of it, punctuality appears fairly innocuous – how can simply being on time, every time, make such a difference to one’s success and progress?
All flows from love, intention and aspiration. We all live busy lives. At every moment we are faced with a multitude of potential activities and pursuits. To always be on time for any given activity requires focus, discipline and a clear prioritisation of that choice over all other options.
We need enthusiasm to meditate; we need eagerness to always be on time for our meditation. While enthusiasm is a flowing stream, eagerness is a mighty waterfall.
Punctuality protects us from the pitfalls of uncertainty and dangers of hesitation. Lack of punctuality allows an opening through which doubts, fears, worries and insecurities readily enter and take hold of us.
The unstoppable momentum of punctuality seals that opening and evicts negative propensities from our consciousness. The flow of meditation then comes much more spontaneously, and the fruits of meditation more bounteously.
Punctuality points us unequivocally in the right direction, and provides a constant, powerful impetus to our spiritual growth.
Punctuality grows from eagerness, and eagerness flows from love. When we love and treasure our spiritual life, its needs will always be uppermost in our hearts and minds. This love carries sincerity and intensity: the very qualities necessary for better and deeper meditation. Punctuality is a flower-offering of our hearts’ love. The more we love our meditation, the more wholeheartedly we give ourselves to it, the more and ever more it gives us back.
Punctuality at once follows and leads, is both cause and outcome – seed and fruit – of our increasing spiritual progress and deepening realisation.
For our spiritual progress, regularity is paramount.
Regularity activates, regulates and liberates. Regularity is the law of the material realm, and gateway to the spiritual realm. Regularity we need to enter time and space, to exist in time and space and ultimately, to transcend time and space.
Our heart beats, our lungs breathe, our steps alternate, our sun rises and sets, our seasons turn, flowers bloom and wither, our tides ebb and flow, our lives come and go, come and go.
Regularity rules and sustains all.
All light, sound, heat, all energy, thoughts and feelings, all communication pulses, waves, vibrates, radiates, flows and grows through the miracle of regularity.
Regularity is God’s executive force; the governor of Nature; the spine of creation; the engine of progress; the voice of manifestation. Regularity transforms the static into the dynamic, gives form to the formless, shape to the void. Regularity is the platform on which hope and promise stand, the soil in which inspiration and aspiration flourish, the vocabulary of the language of evolution.
Everything that is, relies on regularity, the fabric of the universe, the grace sustaining growth, the benefactor of opportunity and chariot of destiny.
Regularity frames life, and liberates potential. Through regularity, duty creates and becomes beauty. If regularity were to stop, our universe would evaporate, and we disappear.
Regularity confirms our longings and fulfils our dreams. As our unconscious physical existence relies on the regularity of our heart and breath, on regular meals and exercise, so our spiritual progress lives, breathes and flourishes through the conscious regularity of our meditation and spiritual discipline. Our daily meditation practise is food and drink for our soul. Without it, spiritually we wither and perish.
As long as ever sap rises, rain falls and stars twinkle, so regular must be our meditation.
“Always look on the bright side of life.”
– Monty Python
In meditation, as we focus on peace, light and bliss, so are we gradually immersed and merge with these very qualities. Diving into this inner reality, the turmoil of our surface lives – our stress, confusion and dissatisfaction – recede into oblivion. Darkness is dispelled in Light, falsehood expunged in Truth, restlessness expires in Peace, unhappiness yields to Bliss.
If we always face the West, we will never see the East, and may imagine the East not to exist. Yet to discover the East, we have only to turn our heads and look. The peace, light and bliss we feel in meditation is always here within us; yet we are not usually experiencing these divine realities because we absorb our consciousness instead in doubts, fears, criticisms and day-to-day challenges.
The dark side of the moon is not inherently ‘dark’ – it is only in darkness because it is not facing the Sun. So are our lives only enmeshed in problems because we are lured into the ego game, charmed by complexity, fascinated by fantasy and enamoured of dissatisfaction. We starve ourselves and complain of being hungry; we dive headfirst into a hole and bemoan the darkness.
What is the point of striving for liberation in meditation, if we spend our non-meditating hours dancing with ignorance, nurturing those very ‘problems’ we hope meditation will resolve?
As an untended garden is overrun by weeds, so meditators and spiritual seekers must carefully tend and protect our consciousness at every moment.
For the peace, light and bliss of meditation to grow and blossom in our lives, it is essential always – always to shun the ugly, the negative, limiting and false; and always – always to look on the bright side, the joyful, uplifting and True.
“When we pray, we ask for and receive something good and divine: God’s Protection, Compassion, Love and Blessings. But when we meditate, we become those very things.
“We get God’s Compassion, God’s Love and so forth from Above and assimilate them. Once we become these things, it is our bounden duty to give them to our sisters and brothers in the world. But we cannot give unless we first become. Both prayer and meditation are equally necessary. When we pray, we receive; when we meditate, we become. Then, once we become, we claim God the creation as our own and give back to God the creation everything that we have received from God the Creator.”
– Sri Chinmoy
Meditation houses all the answer to our prayers – the prayers we have already offered and prayers of our inner being of which we are not yet even aware. All that we have sought through prayer, and all we could ever seek, and more – is born, revealed, grows and blossoms in our meditation.
Where do all these riches come from? In prayer, we implore answers, blessings and wealth from above and beyond; in meditation, these very answers, blessings and wealth emerge from their hiding places – within. Meditation unveils our highest Self as pinnacle of our every prayer.
As every stream flows into the sea, so each soulful prayer finds its ultimate fulfillment and loses itself in meditation. We thought we were the prayer-river: we discover we are, and have always been, the meditation-ocean.
Just as all our own prayers are satisfied, silenced and subsumed in meditation, so the Peace, Light and Bliss of our deep meditation assuages and fulfills each heartfelt prayer-cry of humanity.
We seek, we receive, we become, we offer: our prayer-journey reveals and yields our ever-blossoming meditation-destination.
“There are only two prayers:
The first prayer is possession,
The second prayer is surrender.”
– Sri Chinmoy
We might say that the first prayer, the possession prayer, is from the finite within us – our body, vital and mind – for the finite; for our desire-fulfillment, for material wealth, status, power and influence, name and fame. The second prayer, the surrender prayer, is from the infinite within us – our spiritual heart – for the infinite; for peace, love, light and bliss, for God-realisation and God-satisfaction.
We offer the possession prayer when we know no better, when in our ignorance, we still imagine ourselves a finite being with God a high, remote and aloof Entity; before we have glimpsed spirituality’s infinitude, hearkened to the call of the soul or felt the tug of the Beyond. Ultimately, this first prayer binds us to the finite and actively stands in the way of our spiritual progress and happiness. To pray our desires is to row upstream. When we realise this, either through frustration, disappointment, suffering or the dawning of wisdom, we are ready to embrace the second prayer.
Jesus Christ offered the ultimate surrender-prayer:
“Not my will, but Thine be done.”
In this prayer, we surrender our limited desires and needs, in the full awareness that a higher Power within us knows infinitely better than we, what is best for us and how it can be achieved; and in the flow of this higher Will, lies our own ultimate fulfillment, our consummate satisfaction. Here prayer and meditation merge, in silent supplication and invocation of the Highest within us.
As deep meditation subsumes prayer, so prayer fulfills itself in meditation. As the prayers of our mind dissolve into the silence-tears of our heart, our prayer-river flows into and loses itself in the meditation-sea.
“If a flower can whisper
Its prayer to God,
What is wrong with a human being?
How is it that we do not know
How to whisper prayers to God?”
– Sri Chinmoy
How does a flower pray? Certainly not with words, or with any mind at all, but with everything it has and is. The flower’s whole being is an offering, of its beauty, simplicity, sweetness, humility, innocence, fragrance, charm and surrender. Its offering is absolute, unreserved and unconditional. In its offering, in its prayer, in its surrender, lies its perfection, fulfilment and satisfaction.
We too, can pray as a flower prays, without words, in silent, consecrated, continuous, complete self-offering to the Highest within us, of all that we have and are.
Each breath, each glance, each thought, each task, each word, each gesture, each intention, each action can be prayer. The body and vital can pray through dedicated activity, service, exercise or sports: the heart prays naturally through silent tears of intense yearning.
Until our meditation becomes effortless and spontaneous, we need prayer-tears to purify, focus, intensify, open up and elevate our consciousness.
We pray, so that we can meditate. For meditation we need deep faith, a clear mind, pure heart, focussed will, resolute determination and boundless patience: all arise from prayer. The discipline, intensity and intimacy of prayer nurture and cultivate all the qualities and attributes of a spiritual seeker. Prayer ushers us into the palace of meditation.
The heart’s prayer is a one-pointed flame rising upwards into meditation’s ever-expanding sky. Prayer is seeking, meditation is becoming. Prayer prepares, meditation completes.
We cannot meditate 24 hours a day: but to meditate well even for one minute, we can and must pray to learn, pray to live, pray to become the supreme art of prayer.