“We are the player. We can play either football or cricket. Similarly, it is we who can choose to play with either purity or impurity. The player is the master of the game and not vice versa.”
– Sri Chinmoy
Just because our minds have forever been impure, is no reason we cannot acquire purity: purity we must choose, and chase.
We know that the more purity we have, the clearer our mind will be, and the better our meditation; the better our meditation, the more purity we will uncover, the clearer our mind will be, and the deeper our meditation. Purity is an indispensable link in this cycling chain of inexorable spiritual growth.
Yet what is purity? How do we experience this elusive, vague quality, how to hold onto, secure, cultivate and expand purity in our consciousness?
The surest way to get anything is to go direct to its source: you want apples? – go to the apple tree. The source of all purity is God, the Supreme, the Highest within ourselves. In our meditation as we clear our mind and approach our inner silence, purity automatically appears the same way as the sun appears through the rising mist. As the sunlight then reveals to us the surrounding landscape, so purity in turn guides us to ever-deeper silence and more fruitful meditation.
“Purity does not come all at once. It takes time. We must dive deep and lose ourselves with implicit faith in contemplation of God. We need not go to purity. Purity will come to us. And purity does not come alone. It brings an everlasting joy with it. This divine joy is the sole purpose of our life. God reveals Himself fully and manifests Himself unreservedly only when we have this inner joy.”
– Sri Chinmoy
“In human purity abides God’s highest Divinity. Man’s purity is God’s Breath. If we have purity, we have everything. Purity is tremendous power. We can accomplish anything with purity. But if we lose our purity, although we may have power, wealth or influence, we will crumble; we will easily fall.”
– Sri Chinmoy
In meditation, we aim first to clear the mind of thoughts. The best detergent to remove unwanted thoughts, is inner purity. So, to meditate well, or even to meditate at all, purity is of utmost importance.
Unfortunately, purity is vastly under-appreciated by impurity. Impurity has tremendous pride in it, and pride likes to feel self-sufficient. This is a big obstacle: when our minds are impure – which is most of the time – is when we need purity the most, and when we are least likely to value it, want it, or suspect we might need purity at all. It’s beneath our dignity to turn for help to something we see as meaningless, formless, vague and insipid.
We cannot appreciate fine music if we cannot hear it: first we need ears to hear. Our challenge is, that we can only really value purity in our inner life, once we have experienced and established purity to a certain extent. Purity is both its own music, and the ears to hear and appreciate it. Purity grows and is nurtured in purity. The more purity we establish, the more we value purity and the more we know we need more, evermore purity.
Meditation is a quest for the unknown. Just because we do not know or appreciate it, is no reason we cannot search for, discover and cultivate purity. Right now, purity is an “X” on a map: our search will reveal that “X” to be our richest treasure.
In the beginning, meditation seems to be all our conscious effort. We decide to meditate, we sit down, we practise various techniques. Once we have got the ball rolling however, we need to step back and let the ball take its own course.
Meditation cannot be static. We strive ever to dive deeper – and feel we must “do” something to force the issue.
Yet, deep meditation is a self-driving car. Once we start the engine, we are no longer the driver.
Sri Chinmoy writes:
“When you meditate, please do not think of diving deeper. If the mind operates, then you will not be able to go deeper at all. When you feel that you are in a sublime meditation, you will see that the meditation itself has its own power. So you only have to try to surrender to the meditative power within you. At that time do not use your mind. If you are having a profound meditation, then there cannot be any intervention of the mind. The meditation that you are having is the result of the meditative power within you. Just allow this meditative power to play its role. This meditative power will always have a free access to the deeper reality within you.
“When you start meditation, the only thing you do is to make your mind calm and quiet, and then let the meditation do anything it wants to do. You do not act like a doer any more; your responsibility is over. When you have made your mind calm and quiet, your responsibility is totally over. Then you have to let the force, the divine force that is giving you the experience of a good meditation, do whatever else it wants to do in you and for you.”
Concentration is regarded as a precursor to meditation – a necessary clearing of thoughts and distractions, like warming up the voice for a song, arranging the board for a game, setting the table for dinner, packing for a holiday.
For Sri Chinmoy, concentration when pursued to its natural destination, blends into and becomes purest meditation.
“When you concentrate, try to feel that the power of concentration comes from the heart centre, and then goes up to the third eye. The heart centre is where the soul is located. The physical heart is tiny, but the spiritual heart – your true home – is vaster than the universe. When you think of your soul at this time, please do not form any specific idea of it or try to think of what it looks like. Just think of it as God’s representative, as boundless light and delight, which is in your heart. The light comes from your heart and passes through your third eye, and then you enter into the object of your concentration and have your identification with it. The final stage of concentration is to discover the hidden ultimate truth in the object of concentration.”
– Sri Chinmoy
It makes no difference what we concentrate on – a candle flame, a leaf, a fragrance, a bird’s song – the hidden ultimate truth of each and every phenomenon is the one, same source – God.
This truth is revealed when our heart’s concentration uses its secret weapon – oneness. We say the heart has the power of oneness, but in truth, the heart is oneness, for our heart’s depth identifies with and claims the essence of all reality as its own.
Concentration on the tiniest object, and meditation on the boundless Infinite, carry us to the same destination – oneness with God, our Supreme.
“Every day, think of yourself as a new flower. In the morning you can think of yourself as a bud. Then at noon, feel that this bud is blossoming. Finally, in the evening, you can think of yourself as a fully blossomed lotus. It all started with newness. When the flower was a little bud, it was new. While it is blossoming, it is again new. Then in the evening, when it is fully blossomed, again it is new.”
– Sri Chinmoy
Newness and our spiritual heart nourish and perpetuate each other. Our heart’s meditation unveils the ever-new: in turn, the ever-new ushers us into our heart’s meditation-home. Meditation reveals constant newness; newness uncovers ever-deepening, expanding and illumining meditation.
Every day, invoke newness before and during meditation. The old, even yesterday’s joy, has not brought us our ultimate fulfillment, so we must forever turn to the new. Newness houses our every goal; only in newness can our fulfillment abide.
While newness constantly blossoms in our heart, we need to keep newness always in the forefront of our mind’s preoccupations and life’s activities. Strive to make newness our default choice, our habit and attitude, our mantra, our lens through which to see the world, a pole star guiding our thoughts and actions.
Seek out new ways of seeing, doing, seeking, becoming and being; new hobbies and pursuits; new fields and horizons; new ideas and ideals. Be always ready to discard the old in favour of the new – especially old, fixed ways of our mind and ego: old assumptions, beliefs, prejudices and judgements.
Newness itself brings hope and promise; hope guides our steps and promise fuels our quest. When you keep newness as your constant companion, then newness itself will always happily illumine your today’s path and beckon your tomorrow’s goal.
“A new day
Is a new way
To participate in
God’s new Cosmic Play.”
– Sri Chinmoy
“A new second is a new opportunity.”
– Sri Chinmoy
The quest for self-discovery and self-mastery through meditation is so long, the goal so distant, the journey ahead can appear daunting. Fortunately, meditation itself furnishes all the equipment we need for the journey: inspiration, aspiration, determination, courage, poise and patience, alongside the guidebooks, maps, tools, fuel, means of transport, and our personal guide.
Among our loyal companions on our endless inner journey, newness is a treasured ally and unfailing friend.
Our goal is always ahead; we are never there yet. To grow into our goal is to eagerly embrace an ever-new being within ourselves, seeing, feeling, thinking, experiencing, imagining, growing, giving and becoming in ever new ways.
Constant newness blossoms in perpetual openness, readiness and eagerness in our hearts and minds.
The closed mind defines and contains its projection of reality in fixed forms, bringing a sense of age and ageing, sameness, staleness, stagnation, imprisonment and ennui. Energy seeps away, inspiration withers, exhaustion invites the expiry of our quest. Our open heart is always young and ever new. Here nothing is fixed or formulated: everything fluid, forever flowing, unfolding, blossoming, evolving, surprising and fulfilling.
The mind marches in straight lines; the heart flows in curves. The mind likes to close cases and seal boxes; the heart loves opening gifts and revealing treasures. The mind freezes; the heart melts. The mind strikes; the heart strokes. The mind revokes, proudly; the heart invokes, sweetly. The mind is its own announcement of everything’s death notice; the heart its own advertisement of eternally new birth.
A mind without newness is a death sentence; a heart without newness, a life sentence. Meditation without newness cannot form any sentence.
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…