“In atom and in pollen
And in human frames
My life abides.
All beauty am I,
Immutable am I.
I drink my ambrosia all alone.”
– Sri Chinmoy
Truth is one. Light is one. Love is one.
You are one. I am one. We are all one.
Our world is one. Our universe is one. God is one.
All that is outside and around me, is within me.
From time to time, our lakes in Canberra are closed to swimming due to elevated levels of bacteria or blue-green algae. In order to know how much bacteria or algae is present in the lake at any time, the water must be tested and analysed in a laboratory. Of course all of the water in the lake cannot fit into a laboratory, so for each particular area, only a small sample of lake water is drawn. Assuming that this sample is representative of all the water in its area, decisions are made on lake closure based on the test results of just this small sample. The sample stands for the whole.
And so do we each.
If we want to know and understand mankind, our world, our universe, absolute Truth, Light, Love and God, then we have only to know and understand one small representative sample of the Whole. The one and only sample of the Infinite for which we are responsible, and to which we have full access – is our self.
So to know the whole God-lake, let us test and know the substance of this little sample. The deeper we go within, the vaster grows our awareness. The microcosm embodies the macrocosm.
This infallible process to discover Eternal Truth and know God has a name: meditation.
There is a story from the Puranas, of a king who was especially fond of his pet deer. Always he thought of this deer, to such an extent that in his next lifetime, he was born as a deer.
The moral of this story is simple: what we focus on, we become. Our concentration and meditation are magnetic forces drawing the object of our focus towards us. When we look at someone smiling, we smile and glow with happiness; dwelling on a sad face, gloom descends and we sadden.
We are in Florence and our destination is Rome. There are two trains on the platform – one is heading south to Rome and the other, north to Milan. It seems an obvious choice – of course we will get on the train to Rome … yet how often, we deliberately board the train heading in the opposite direction to our professed destination!
We meditate for peace, love, light, oneness, simplicity, purity and humility. Yet our meditation can be completely undone if afterwards, we engage with anything that arouses fear, doubt, confusion, insecurity, pride, resentment, jealousy or anger. We have to be careful at every moment of what we do, what we read and watch, who we speak with and especially of what and how we think, for at every moment we are on a train to Rome, or to Milan – we cannot be heading in both directions at once.
If we are going to invite or indulge in negative thoughts, emotions or activities, then our meditation is simply a waste of time. Our spiritual journey does not stop when we end our meditation; it continues at every moment with every choice we make.
Like a sprinter, do not glance sideways and never look back. Always face your goal!
“Gratitude is the master-key To open up all earth-doors And Heaven-doors.”
– Sri Chinmoy
No matter how bright the sun; how glorious the day; how thrilling the sky – we cannot appreciate or benefit from their light, beauty, joy and inspiration if we keep our curtains closed.
No matter how much good fortune we encounter; wealth we are bestowed with; wisdom is revealed to us; love, kindness and compassion are showered upon us; no matter how powerful the flow of grace in our lives – we cannot benefit in the least if we keep our heart-door closed.
To keep our heart-door always open is the single imperative to attain and maintain happiness, self-transcendence and spiritual progress.
Our heart-door is the gateway to the spiritual realms, the goal of our quest, source of all fulfilment and home of our true self.
What closes our heart-door? Everything that lowers our consciousness and diminishes our self-awareness: doubt, fear, worry, insecurity, pride, jealousy, suspicion, negativity, greed, desire, confusion – most of the mental activity that engages us night and day.
What opens our heart-door? Everything that elevates our consciousness and expands and liberates our self-awareness: love, purity, simplicity, humility, beauty, joy, sweetness, wisdom, kindness, compassion, self-giving – all that flows from meditation and a silent mind.
How can we invoke these qualities to keep our heart-door always open?
There are three keys to our heart-door – discipline, aspiration and gratitude.
Spiritual discipline – our regular, punctual meditation practise – maintains our heart-door the same way as exercising keeps our muscles in shape.
Aspiration – our intense inner cry and yearning for silence, peace, truth, love and light – creates an irresistible upward flow which forces and keeps our heart-door open from within.
Gratitude – the master key – obliterates our heart-door, elevating, transforming and blending our little heart into our universal heart-home.
“Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.”
– the Golden Rule
It is a spiritual law: the more we give, the more we receive.
This law applies not to a form of giving calculated to bring an interest on investment; but to unconditional self-offering from the heart, to giving motivated by love, compassion and concern.
The working of this law is simple: when we give, our hearts open and expand. When our hearts open and expand, our inherent spiritual qualities are released, to sport, sing and dance within us: oneness, peace, love, light and joy. When our hearts’ goodness is unlocked, we are the first to feel its blessings and reap its benefits.
Following this law, many spiritual seekers and groups rightly focus on giving and service as integral to their spiritual practise. Yet in our eagerness to serve, we sometimes forget that giving is only one side of a two-sided coin: the other, complementary side is receiving.
To be complete, we must not only give unconditionally: we must also receive wholeheartedly. Chicken and egg: as the more we give, the more we receive; so the more we are able to receive, the more we are able to give. So the spiral of fulfilment coils ever upward.
To receive wholeheartedly requires sincerity and humility, the acknowledgement that we are forever beginners in the spiritual life. It applies equally to receiving material gifts, moral support, wisdom and learning from all quarters: friend and foe, failure and success, progress and setbacks alike.
The master key to receptivity is gratitude. To receive with gratitude is as beautiful, powerful and significant as to give with love.
Meditate on gratitude. Become gratitude. The radiance of perfection dawns as your gratitude-flower blooms in giving, blossoms in receiving.
Can ever be accomplished.”
– Sri Chinmoy
Babies are learning at every moment. Without using the mind.
When it comes to spiritual awareness, if we are sincere, we must accept we are babies. We know next to nothing.
This is our perfect starting point.
The moment we imagine that we know everything, or even quite a lot, or even a little, our minds close in on themselves. Just as closing the curtains of our room shuts out the light of the sun, so the more our minds close up, the less open and receptive we become to spiritual growth.
Babies have a vast amount to learn about themselves and their world, and they need to learn fast. To this end, their greatest advantage is the absence of a developed mind.
The more our mind dominates our consciousness, the further we grow from reality.
In meditation, we strive to disentangle and fly free from the mind’s endless red tape, its stifling strictures of process, categorisation and interpretation. Having become so accustomed to living, thinking and being within our mind’s prescribed walls, this new unhorizoned realm, devoid of our accustomed signposts and landmarks, is disconcertingly unfamiliar territory.
To soar in the meditation heart-sky, abandon the mind’s pretense of knowledge, ego and self-importance. The more one is spiritually advanced, the less one pretends to know. The lighter our mind’s load of baggage, the faster we travel.
The landscapes of spiritual realms cannot be known by the mind, by thinking, analysing and reasoning. Eject the mind. A baby, unimpeded by self-consciousness will gaze at you, transfixed, for minutes on end. Similarly, only by gazing into the silent Beyond with a baby’s eager wide-eyed wonder can we perceive, assimilate, grow into and gradually become our souls’ ineffable fullness.
The health, wellbeing and fitness of each part of our being – body, vital, mind, heart and soul – is crucial for its own sake, as well as for each other part and for our integral wellbeing.
The body needs good diet and exercise; the vital needs dynamic activity; the mind, concentration and focus; the heart, to love and serve.
Each works best when all levels are fully engaged. Physical exercise is most effective when powered by our vital energy, directed by our focused mind and inspired by our heart’s enthusiasm.
As the moon needs the sun to reveal its beauty; as the song needs a voice to be sung, heard and appreciated; each level of our being needs the influence of the others – and needs to offer itself to them – to be its best.
Yet what our body, vital and mind each need above all else is the love, light and guiding presence of our heart.
Our spiritual heart is the mother, mentor and champion of our body, vital and mind. The heart is the centre of harmony and perfection. Wherever the heart goes, harmony, grace, beauty and purity follow.
Meditation brings our heart to the fore – and is therefore the secret and the source, the master key that opens all doors, connects all threads, answers all questions and completes all tasks. Meditate before every activity – prior to physical exercise, musical practise, driving, gardening, cooking, studying, working, playing, sports, self-expression and self-offering of any kind. From meditation, our heart is awakened within the breath of whatever activity we are engaged in. The activity comes alive with beauty, sweetness, wonder, power, significance and fulfilment.
Our heart blossoms in our activity as our activity blossoms in our heart. The infinite embraces, sports and sings in the finite. We are complete.
The health of our various organs – heart, lungs, liver, skin – are all affected by each other, for they are interdependent parts of one whole. This same principle applies to the various sheaths of our consciousness – body, vital, mind, heart and soul ¬– which comprise our whole being. The health, vitality and fulfilment of each are essential for the wellbeing of the others, and of the whole.
Yet our mind imagines itself an independent entity, sovereign over itself and its environment – consigning thus our entire being to suffering.
Through our body, vital, mind, heart and soul we perceive, experience and express ourselves and interact with our environments. Each part of our being is our home, our instrument, our vehicle, our world, our self. Our body, vital, mind, heart and soul are each our living room, bedroom, bathroom, gym, playground, study and temple all at once, and all together as one.
Any weakness, impurity or defect in any realm of our being affects, infects and impedes the operation of all our dimensions. Thus mental tension stymies physical performance, just as physical illness unsettles emotional equilibrium.
So it is essential that we keep each in good condition, as clean, pure, fit and healthy as possible, and that we nourish, nurture and develop each part with all our care, concern and enthusiasm if we are to perceive, aspire, operate and create to our potential.
As a tree grows from the root, as our bloodstream and nervous system energise all of our organs, so the spiritual is the source of all our being. From our meditation, light, love, energy and inspiration flow like the sap of a tree to all our branches, leaves, flowers and fruits: the various levels and expressions of our consciousness and pursuits of our life, mind, vital and body.
“Alas, each human being
Is eager to proclaim
That he is a truth-finder
Without first being a truth-seeker!”
– Sri Chinmoy
Every model of truth, every belief system, every ideology is a wish, a phantasm, a conspiracy hatched by our minds’ uncertainties – desperately seeking the comfort and control of certainty.
Because every mind longs to feel secure in its “truth”, our minds are inclined to promote their present beliefs and disparage other models of reality as false. The more theories and conspiracies proliferate, the more polarisation and conflict spread, the further peace and happiness recede from our outer lives.
Truth is precious rare. Truth is wrapped in layers of protective silence. Words may claim they are true, but only Silence proclaims the Truth. Silence reveals Truth only to those who will eagerly embrace and utterly become silence.
In silence, the competing megaphones of this theory and that conspiracy cannot reach us, cannot affect us.
Silence has and is the Truth. Silence has conspired to reveal the Truth within us. This conspiracy of silence is called meditation.
In meditation-silence, this truth is revealed: we are not being controlled by any worldwide nefarious network, multinational conspiracy, corporation, government agency, media conglomerate, or extragalactic intelligence. We are being controlled by the weaknesses and limitations of our own minds: the fear, doubt, insecurity, jealousy, prejudice and resentment that comprise our precious ignorance.
To escape this control, to conquer these weaknesses, we must rise beyond the realm that nurtures them: our mind. Silence is the absence of thoughts. Starve a fire of oxygen and it expires. Starve the mind of thoughts and the conspiracies of certainty and uncertainty evaporate. Truth reigns as peace, light and bliss supreme.
Only in meditation, a conspiracy of silence, are all conspiracies silenced.
“As one can drink water easily,
Even so the human mind
Can twist truth easily
– Sri Chinmoy
Just as a 30-centimetre ruler can never measure the sky, so the mind, a finite instrument, can never measure or “know” Truth, the infinite Reality.
Yet to remain sane, the mind must have a sense of control, a sense of knowing itself and its world. It therefore creates or selects a model of “truth” and adheres to that worldview with a conviction and tenacity we call certainty – until it “changes its mind” and adopts another perspective.
Until we learn to live in the infinitude of our hearts and souls, we are constrained to define ourselves within our mind’s confines. It is necessary for our minds to believe in something – anything – as a field in which to operate, a house in which to live, a reliable frame of reference. Whether our beliefs are true or false is immaterial to the mind: a car runs as well on poisonous, leaded fuel as it does on lead-free fuel. For centuries our minds operated happily believing the world is flat; now most of us “know” the world is spherical – who knows if this belief might also one day prove to be inadequate?
Our minds are like those deep-sea fish, which live under immense pressure – when brought to the surface, they fall apart, unable to maintain their assumed shape and existence. When their assumed habitat of beliefs is shaken, our minds likewise lose their bearings and fall apart.
We live in “uncertain times” – collectively, our minds are not adhering to agreed beliefs, and there is an ever-widening divergence of perspectives on “the truth”. How then, can we find ourselves amidst this thicket of conflicting theories and conspiracies?
In the spiritual life, there is no standing still. Our consciousness is never static: we are forever rising or falling, ascending on the wings of aspiration or descending into the clutches of desire and attachment, striding towards a better future or lapsing into deplorable habits of our past.
It is up to us to keep the curve of our aspiration ever rising, always looking forwards and upwards. If we lower our gaze and allow our aspiration-curve to flatten, then gravity and inertia will inevitably drag it downwards.
The muscles of the fittest athlete will atrophy if not exercised. Daily-polished woodwork shines: left alone for a week, its sheen surrenders to dust. If we neglect our daily meditation, we can lose all the hard-earned benefits of years of spiritual discipline.
We embody all the forces of the universe: which of these forces guide us, power us and shape our destiny depends on our conscious and continuous choices. At every moment we are choosing positive or negative, light or darkness, action or inertia, expansion or contraction, selfless or selfish, progress or regress. Like an object suspended in space, which will fall if not supported by a force stronger than gravity – unless we consciously make each positive choice, the default course of our human nature will always be to sink back into our known and familiar ways, however painful, depressing and destructive that path may be.
Only when a rocket has shot completely beyond the earth’s atmosphere is it free from the edict of gravity: only once total illumination, liberation and God-realisation are achieved are we safe from crashing back down to the quagmire of our desire-bound, dissatisfied, unfulfilled and unfulfillable lives and selves.
Never flatten your spiritual progress-curve: polish your aspiration always, so it shines and rises ever.
The present global mental virus pandemic has seriously sickened and weakened our entire human race.
Some mental viruses, like a common cold, are relatively harmless, and might almost be considered ‘normal.’ We are fascinated by a false belief, fixated on a fear, swayed by suspicion or duped by doubt for a while: symptoms may include confusion, sadness, resentment, self-assertion, irritability and irrational or even aggressive behaviour… after a time a resurgence of spiritual light in the form of inspiration, love, optimism, compassion, humility or joy overpowers the malady and we regain our natural wellbeing. Such a mental virus might affect us for a few minutes, hours, days or months – or it might weaken and sicken us for all our years, disabling our love, destroying our joy, depleting our potential, deleting our hopes and accelerating our demise.
Fortunately, we do not have to wait for a vaccine to cure these pervading, pernicious diseases, for we have an all-powerful immune system already within us.
Like a physical virus, the mental viruses – untruths, misbeliefs – have no life of their own, relying totally on their hosts to sustain their existence, proliferate and wreak their havoc. Outside of a host body, a virus quite soon ‘dies’ – outside of a receptive ‘host’ mind, the virus of ignorance vanishes.
A virus is most effective in weakening an already-sick or immune-compromised constitution: against a strong immune system it is largely ineffective. Likewise an impure, undisciplined and uncontrolled mind offers a fertile breeding ground for the mental viruses of falsehood, suspicion, fear, doubt, hatred, insecurity, pride and delusion: a mind calmed, focussed, disciplined and illumined by the practise of meditation is our mightiest, unfailing immune system against all the virulent viruses of the mental universe.
Thoughts and desires weigh us down as lead weights. They lure us to the limited, bind us to the finite, ensnare us in the realm of the relative. Thoughtless meditation bathes us in oceans of silence, elevates us on updrafts of ecstasy, projects us beyond skies of light, liberates us from ignorance and ego, releases us into the infinite, reveals us as co-eternal with the sovereign absolute.
As a drop of arsenic ruins a good hot chocolate; a sideways glance topples a tightrope walker; a breath of breeze brings down a house of cards; a muscle twitch betrays the leopard’s stalk; a single smudge besmirches a page of pure white – so a momentary thought can wreck, a flicker of desire can undo a beautiful and fruitful meditation.
During meditation, it is essential to quarantine your spiritual heart and place all thoughts and desires in lockdown. Show no mercy, no compassion.
It is true that some thoughts are inspiring and helpful to us, so the temptation is to keep the door of our mind slightly ajar during meditation, in case these “friendly” thoughts arise. The problem is that the hordes of negative and “junk” thoughts have no manners: they will notice the door ajar and barge right in.
Don’t worry about missing out on inspiring messages of the good and helpful thoughts: if they are your true friends, they will return and revisit you after your meditation, when you have removed the “Do Not Enter” sign from your door.
Just as the only way to prevent the spread of a virus is to restrict the movements of everyone in the population, if we value our meditation, we must enforce a strict embargo on ALL thoughts and ALL desires ALWAYS during meditation.
“When the flower blooms, the bees come uninvited.”
– Sri Ramakrishna
Spiritual qualities are more contagious than any virus. Peace, light, love and joy are not constricted by social distancing; washing our hands does not remove them; they can spread from one to millions in a heartbeat, they easily span the globe in an instant.
To spread spiritual qualities, we do not have to cough or sneeze or make announcements or broadcasts or do anything at all: we simply have to embody them. “When the flower blooms, the bees come uninvited.” The flower doesn’t have to advertise itself: bees are programmed to seek out nectar and when a blooming flower appears on their radar, they are drawn to it irresistibly.
As the bee needs and yearns for nectar, so everyone needs and yearns for spiritual sustenance. Like bees, we are all programmed to seek love, peace and happiness, and our inner antennae are always alert for their appearance. That is why we cannot help but smile when we see someone wearing a huge smile on their face; we cannot help but be moved by a cute puppy; we cannot help but be soothed by a sublime sunset. Regardless of where we are and what we are doing, regardless of our mood, state of mind and emotions, spiritual qualities will always attract us as a magnet attracts metal.
To attract bees, the flower simply has to be itself and do what it does naturally – bloom. To be spiritually contagious, to emit and spread peace, light, love and joy we likewise only have to be truly ourselves, for we are nothing other than peace, light, love and joy.
How to be truly ourselves? Meditate. The more sincerely we meditate, the more we naturally bloom, the more spiritually contagious we become.