344: Do We Need a Teacher for Meditation? (3)

“In school you have a teacher who is teaching you and offering his wisdom-light to you through language. In the spiritual life also, the teacher teaches through language. But the language of the spiritual teacher is meditation. Meditation is the inner language, and the teacher teaches meditation through silence.
“All real spiritual Masters teach meditation to their disciples and admirers in silence. When a genuine spiritual Master meditates, Peace, Light and Bliss descend from above and enter into the sincere seeker. Then automatically he learns how to meditate from within.”

– Sri Chinmoy

When we think of learning, we think of studying books and attending lectures – knowledge imparted through words. Yet the vast bulk of all learning is conveyed in and through silence: the art of meditation, especially so.

Silence is the air that meditation breathes. Yes, we can be told about posture, breath control and chanting mantras, of the importance of meditating early in the morning – these are peripheral details. Yet the essence of meditation is wrapped in silence, protected by silence and blossoms within silence. Silence baffles us, a language with which we are unfamiliar: how are we going to learn the art of meditation if we don’t know its basic vocabulary?

A baby cannot speak or understand words – yet learns to walk. How? – by observing how adults walk, and imitating them. Seeing adults walking, a whole new world of possibilities opens up before the baby’s imagination: the baby is inspired to follow suit, then gradually does so.

Spiritually, we are babies. To learn true meditation and activate our highest spiritual potential, we need the example, inspiration, guidance and teaching flowing from the highest source.

Only a Master of silence can teach and convey meditation, the truth of silence, in silence.

343: Do We Need a Teacher for Meditation? (2)

“Did you receive any help in learning the alphabet? Did you require a teacher to help you in mastering your musical instrument? Were you given instruction to enable you to obtain your degree? If you needed a helper to do these things, do you not also require a teacher who can guide you to the knowledge of the Divine, the wisdom of the Infinite? That teacher is your Guru and no one else.”
– Sri Chinmoy

It is said, that all knowledge and wisdom is already within us; that ‘learning’, properly speaking, is ‘remembering’ – bringing to the fore, uncovering that which we already possess. A teacher is one who reminds the students of what they had forgotten they knew, or activates that which has lain dormant within.

Yes, all spiritual realisation is already within us, just as the potentiality of the tree lies within the seed. Yet most seeds never germinate and grow into a tree, for they are not fortunate enough to find the right conditions for germination and growth – sufficient space, the right climate, proper soil, moisture, sunlight, nourishment and protection over many years.

“It takes two to tango.” All these auspicious conditions might be present, but without the seed there can never be a tree. Helpful conditions without a seed, are useless; a seed without the right environment, is helpless.

A beginner in meditation is a tiny seed, with all the potential to grow into a massive, beautiful, powerful, fruitful tree. Yet most who start the journey of meditation and self-discovery, do not proceed very far.

Only a God-realised spiritual Master embodies and offers all the conditions – inspiration, aspiration, forgiveness, nourishment, encouragement, confidence, patience, compassion, concern and protection – for a meditator-seed to grow into a self-realisation tree.

(to be continued…)

342: Do We Need a Teacher for Meditation? (1)

If meditation is self-discovery, then surely the only teacher qualified to teach about ourself, is our self. How can someone else know more about myself than me? Other than sharing some principles, guidelines and techniques for the journey, a teacher might be able to reveal all about their own self, but surely not about myself…

This reasoning might hold true if the ‘self’ we seek were the self we are familiar with ¬– our finite, limited physical, emotional and mental self – yet the ‘self’ we seek is precisely that self which we intuitively sense, but cannot yet grasp, for it is mostly hidden from our present awareness – our infinite, ever-transcending, all-beautiful, all-loving, all-blissful, all-powerful, all-illumining inmost heart and soul.

While the finite can measure the finite, only the infinite can know the infinite. Our present limited awareness is like a small magnifying glass, offering us some help in exploring our immediate vicinity; while to discover and claim our larger, higher, infinite self, we need an interstellar telescope, capable of viewing galaxies far beyond our present perception.

Only someone who has already established a free access to this infinite realm – a genuine God-realised spiritual Master – has the innate capacity to see and know the infinite in us and to guide us on our spiritual journey to our own soul-discovery.

On our own, we are like someone trying to find their way through a complex maze with high walls on all sides, blindfold and with no idea where the destination is. Having a spiritual Master to guide us is to have an all-seeing eye high above the maze, for whom it is easy to see exactly where we are and the shortest way for us through the maze, to reach our destination.

(to be continued…)

341: The Media of Meditation

The concept of “media” has come to be used for any means by which news, information, misinformation, opinion or ideology is conveyed to an audience. Most “media” has an agenda, with us as its target. We are now inundated with media – “mainstream media”, “alternative media”, “electronic media”, “social media” – all vying for our attention, time, loyalty and often, our money.

Most of our familiar media engages our mind and vital by capturing our attention outward to the externals of our being and our world. Meditation engages our heart and soul by focusing our attention inward to the essentials of our being and our very existence.

The media of meditation is satisfaction in peace, light and bliss. To access the media of meditation requires a calm, thought-free mind and a wide-open, aspiring heart. The only subscription required is our sincere longing and regular, dedicated practise.

While outer media is constantly around us, bombarding us from all directions, our meditation media is eternally within us. While outer media seems to be always coming to get something from us, our meditation media patiently awaits our summons, only to offer itself and its boundless wealth to us.

How is the media of meditation broadcast? Within ourselves, through the experience and realisation of peace, light and bliss. To those around us, our meditation media is broadcast through our radiant smile, unflappable poise, kindness and empathy in word and deeds, our ready self-giving and encouragement, our silent reassurance, positive energy and enthusiasm, our playfulness and good humour.

The media of meditation sumptuously fulfils our every need and nourishes all who come into our orbit. Yet – the more we are distracted by the outer media, the less time and space we have for our meditation media. The choice is ours, at every moment.

340: Your Heart-Wallet

“Keep all your meditation-wealth
Safe inside your heart-wallet.
Then when you are attacked by fear,
Doubt, anxieties or worries,
Just bring forward the peace, love and joy
Which you have safeguarded.”

– Sri Chinmoy

Our wallet represents and contains our wealth, treasure, protection and insurance – even our identification.

Our wealth we use to obtain all the things we need for our success, progress, happiness and wellbeing. Our treasures are the things we value most and like to keep close to us – keepsakes, photos of loved ones, items of inspiration or memorabilia. Our protection and insurance keep us safe from the prospect of poverty, hunger, depression, failure and ruin. Our identification shows ourselves and the world who we really are.

Our heart holds the source, the home, the host, the guide, the journey and goal of our meditation. Our heart is the doctor and the remedy. Our heart is not only all the money in the bank; it is the bank itself. It is all the treasures of the museum, and the museum itself. It is all music and the concert hall; all drama and the theatre; all learning and the university; it is each colour as well as the rainbow; each tree and the forest; each star and the galaxy; each player, the whole team and the very game; all routes up the mountain, the entire mountain and its summit panorama.

Our heart leads us to meditation; meditation connects us to our heart. Meditation is at once the food our heart needs and the nourishment it gives; our heart’s soil, seed, flower and fruit. Our heart explores meditation; meditation reveals our heart.

Our heart-wallet and our meditation-wealth are one and the same, the inhalation and exhalation of our spirituality, twin gates opening to our soul’s kingdom – our sole identity.

339: Quality – not Quantity

If we place food in an oven heated only to 20 degrees, the food will not be cooked, no matter how long we leave it inside. Lukewarm is not enough, and will never be enough to cook food.

The same applies to our meditation. It is not enough to go through the motions, to sit in lotus position, mouth some mantras and expect a profound, uplifting experience. Without focus and intensity, our experience will remain mundane.

Not how long – not the quantity of our meditation, but how eager the aspiration we bring – the quality of our meditation – is the key to unlock the doorway and gain admittance to our inner palace of peace, light and bliss.

“You can meditate early in the morning and, if it is possible, in the evening before you go to bed. During the day, if you are free, and if you really get inspiration, then also you can meditate. Please feel the necessity of meditating, even if is for only one minute a day. If it is done wholeheartedly, even if it is for a fleeting minute, then it is worthwhile.”

“If inspiration is there, then meditate. Many people say that they meditate four times or six times a day. But what do they meditate on? They meditate on their bosses or they meditate on their boyfriends or their girlfriends. This is no meditation at all. If you can meditate most soulfully, if you feel that your aspiration is carrying you, only then is it really worthwhile meditating.”
– Sri Chinmoy

The only really essential, indispensable ingredient for meditation, is aspiration. Aspiration stands as guide, guardian and guarantor – carrying, sustaining, intensifying and continually elevating our meditation. When we nurture and treasure our aspiration-flame, we no longer have to seek meditation: meditation finds us.

338: Your Traveling Shrine

Regularity and punctuality are critical to success and progress in our meditation and spiritual discipline – not only in the beginning, but at every page and every stage of our journey.

It is impressed on us from day one, that the two most essential pillars of our meditation are to practise at a regular time and a regular place – the same time and the same place each day, without fail. Regularity helps our punctuality, and punctuality helps our regularity: the one supports and inspires the other.

Jointly, they create a momentum, a flow that turns our puddling efforts into a stream, and then a river of continuous and ever-transcending newness-beauty, energy, inspiration, purpose and fulfilment.

The question immediately arises: what if one cannot meditate at the same time or place on a given day or for an extended time? What if you work shift work with varying hours each day? What if you are traveling across time zones, and cannot be at the same place even for two days in a row?

Every challenge presents opportunities; necessity is the mother of invention.

If you do shift work, fix your meditation “time” relative to the start of your work day. Meditate first thing after you wake up and before preparing yourself to go to work, no matter what hour of the day that is.
If you are away from home, create a “travelling shrine kit” that you set up in your room wherever you are.

This kit may include a photo of your spiritual teacher or a scene from nature, an incense holder, flower vase, some spiritual writings, set up on a beautiful cloth. This shrine becomes your “fixed place” for as long as you are away from home, keeping the continuity and thread of your spiritual discipline alive.

337: A White Column of Light

So many of our problems and shortcomings arise from impurity in our mind and vital. Lack of purity in our thoughts, feelings and perceptions leads to confusion, misunderstanding and suffering. Yet searching for purity in our mind and vital is a fool’s errand, doomed to disappointment.

Purity cannot be conjured, manufactured or willed into existence; it cannot arise from thinking about or merely wishing for it. For the mind and vital to experience and acquire purity, they must open themselves to purity’s source – the light of meditation flowing from our spiritual heart and soul.

Purity is at once soft, gentle, sweet – and the most powerful of all qualities.

Purity and light are inter-expressive: purity is the breath of light, light the face of purity.
Because many of us find it difficult to conceptualise or visualise purity, we may find ourselves all at sea when we are urged to invoke or meditate on purity. It is simpler for many, to invoke and meditate instead on light: when light appears in our meditation, it invariably comes arm in arm with purity.

All that is impure within us – limited and limiting thoughts, feelings, weaknesses, problems – can and must be expunged by the twin spiritual detergents, light and purity.

Sri Chinmoy offers a beautiful, powerful meditation to achieve this:

“Please try to feel a white column of light coming up from your heart centre. Imagine that this white column of light has pierced the top of your head and is stationed three inches above you. Now you can start meditating. After a while try to feel that you are nothing other than that light. Feel that it is absolutely your own existence. When you feel it as your own existence, all your problems will be unmistakably solved.”
– Sri Chinmoy

336: The Moon

Though we see nature all around us, we feel nature inside us. The beauty, power, charm, harmony, subtlety, variety, intensity and immensity of nature that we love, admire and wonder at, is at once a projection and reflection of our own inner universe. All that we see without, we have and we are within.

Of all the phenomena of Nature, none is more mysterious, alluring, captivating and enthralling than the moon. Like the moon, we too cycle through phases of waxing and waning revelation; like the moon, we too have a brighter and a darker side; like the moon, we too are detached from the earth, yet captive to its orbit; like the moon, which is reliant entirely on the light of the sun for the revelation of its beauty, we too rely utterly on the light of our own soul for our very consciousness.

Sri Chinmoy urges us to meditate on both the outer and the inner moon:

“When you meditate on the full moon, feel that your consciousness is fully blossomed inside you. The lotus has many petals. So think of a lotus fully blossomed inside you. You can appreciate the beauty of the fully-blossomed lotus. When you meditate on the new moon, at that time you have to feel that one petal has opened, and there are many more petals to be blossomed. Here again you get joy because when one petal of a flower is blossomed, you have the hope that tomorrow another petal will open, and the day after tomorrow, another. In that way you will see the gradual progress. Once you see some progress, you feel it will soon be complete. The full moon gives you joy from completion, and the new moon gives you joy from seeing gradual progress.”
– Sri Chinmoy

335: A Rising Sun, a Blossoming Flower

The following is a striking passage in which Sri Chinmoy describes meditating on either a rising sun, or a blossoming flower inside our heart – initially, as a way to bring our heart to the fore, and ultimately, to become the heart itself:

“No matter what time of day you are meditating, even if it is in the evening, imagine the rising sun for a few fleeting seconds. Imagine that the sun is rising and radiating light inside your heart. Or you can imagine a most beautiful and most pure flower opening up and blossoming petal by petal inside your heart.

“As soon as you see either the rising sun or the flower, you will feel the light or the purity of your heart. Then, as you breathe in and breathe out, you will feel the light or purity inside your heart increase. And the more light or purity you feel inside your heart, the brighter will be the rising sun or the flower.

“Afterwards, try to feel that you have become the rising sun. Or try to feel that the purity-flower inside your heart has fully blossomed and that you have become this most beautiful flower. The beauty, the purity, the fragrance of the flower is all you.

“As the flower is God’s outer manifestation of beauty and purity, the sun is the inner manifestation of the beauty and power of God.

“From the rising sun or the most beautiful flower that you have become, light will radiate and purity will spread. When the light and purity spread, they enter into those around you. In this way you can meditate more in the heart. Do not feel that you have to go to the heart. Only feel that you are the heart.”
– Sri Chinmoy

334: Light Flowing Like a River

Meditation brings us high and deep experiences of peace, light and bliss; glimpses of the Beyond within. Yet for most of our everyday lives, we are not operating from this higher state of meditation, but from our moment-to-moment flux of mental and emotional awareness.

For meditation to be practical and effective in our lives, it is essential to assimilate these higher realisations into our everyday consciousness – to blend the infinite in the finite.

Fear, doubt and worry can only linger in the finite. Once our limited and limiting body, vital and mind surrender to and receive light from our unlimited spiritual heart and soul – which is to say, once we experience and assimilate real meditation – fear, doubt and worry must disappear, calmed by clarity, swallowed by love, dissipated in the indisputability of ecstasy.

Left to themselves, our finite body, vital and mind will instinctively retreat and isolate, blocking out the higher light of the heart and soul. To counter this tendency and ensure continual assimilation of our meditation, Sri Chinmoy advises us to imagine a flow of consciousness or light from our heart of meditation throughout our mind, vital and body. As the flow of a river is constant, continually connecting each part to every other, so must we keep our everyday consciousness open and connected to our higher self:

“Right after meditation you have to feel that the light from the heart is like a river that is flowing to all the parts of the being. The consciousness-water, the consciousness-river, has found a way to flow most satisfactorily into the other parts of the being. So there will be no fear at all. At that time you will feel a connecting link between the heart and the other parts of the being.”
– Sri Chinmoy

333: The Flowing River

Nothing is really solid. This applies to matter, as well as to ideas, feelings, perceptions, beliefs and sensations. So-called “solid matter” is comprised of atoms which are themselves formed of miniscule particles whirring around amidst almost entirely empty space, expressions of energy. As long as our minds perceive something as being solid, it is impervious to us: once we are able to identify with that same substance as an expression of energy, its solidity yields to our deeper perception – hence a yogi can walk through a brick wall.

When we are able to see ourselves also as not a solid entity, but rather as continually flowing energy and light, like a river apparently the same yet ever changing, then it becomes easier for us to let go of damaging thoughts and unhealthy emotions, releasing them into the flow, and keeping ourselves always open to the inflow of new inspiration, illumination and liberation.

“When you meditate, please try to feel the river of meditation flowing through you without coercion or exertion. Let the divine consciousness flow through you. That flow is the real meditation which you have had many, many times. You can always have the real meditation if you allow the river of consciousness to flow in and through you.

“Let this energy which comes in a very exuberant way, flow from the soles of your feet to the crown of your head like a river. Do not try to hold it. Let it not be accumulated at one particular place. Let it take the form of liquid energy. You will see that automatically you will become calm and quiet again. By consciously trying to help the energy flow from one place to another inside you, you will be able to enjoy that divine energy.”
– Sri Chinmoy

332: The Sky Inside the Universal Heart

Of all the phenomena of the natural world, the sky has most affinity with Infinity. The ocean is vastness embodied; the grains of sand on a beach countless; the stars innumerable – yet the sky just stretches on and on, and as far as we can imagine it stretching, it leads us always further.

The idea of the Infinite can be alarming to our mind and vital, implying unending fields of the unknown and unattainable: we fear being swallowed, annihilated, reduced to nothingness or rendered utterly insignificant. Yet the sky is a welcoming Infinite: its very blue soothes our troubled mind, charms our restless vital, and encourages our heart to spread its wings and fly into its embrace.

Though we stand upon the earth, we are as much held in our place by the sky above: the ground below us our solid material base, our bodies’ home; while the ever-expanding sky cradles and inspires our spiritual hearts to enter and merge with our souls’ abode.

In this simple, beautiful and powerful passage, Sri Chinmoy describes how meditating on the sky can open and reveal our own spiritual heart:

“Kindly keep your eyes half open and imagine the vast sky. In the beginning try to feel that the sky is in front of you; later try to feel that you are as vast as the sky, or that you are the vast sky itself.

“After a few minutes, please close your eyes and try to see and feel the sky inside your heart. Please feel that you are the Universal Heart, and that inside you is the sky that you meditated upon and identified yourself with. Your spiritual heart is infinitely vaster than the sky, so you can easily house the sky within yourself.”
– Sri Chinmoy