This selection of answers to “meditation related” questions provides practical guidance on meditation and concentration techniques. These answers also appear in a 2020 publication which highlights 50 answers covering many more topics. The excerpts were selected from a collection of more than 400 answers that Sri Chinmoy offered during the first 25 years of the Peace Meditation Group, My Meditation-Service at the United Nations for 25 Years, published in 1995.
Through Answers to Questions and talks given at the United Nations, the members of the Peace Meditation group as well as the wider community received valuable inspiration and guidance from Sri Chinmoy. Below are some extracts about Concentration, Meditation, Contemplation and experiences that aspiring practitioners from various traditions found useful to develop or enhance their own inner life.
Difference between concentration and meditation (MUN-219)
Sri Chinmoy: When we concentrate, we do not allow any thought to enter into our mind. The entire mind is focused totally on a particular object or subject. If we are concentrating on the petal of a flower, we have to feel that nothing else exists in the entire world but us and the petal. The final stage of concentration is to discover the hidden ultimate truth in the object of concentration. What concentration can do in our day-to-day life is unimaginable. Concentration is the surest way to reach our goal. When we concentrate, we have to concentrate on one particular thing. But when we meditate, we feel that we have the capacity deep within us to see many, deal with many and welcome many all at the same time. When we meditate, we try to expand our consciousness to encompass the vast sea or the vast blue sky. We try to expand ourselves like a bird spreading its wings. We expand our finite consciousness and enter into the universal consciousness where there is no fear, no jealousy, no doubt, but only divine joy, peace and power. During meditation what we actually do is enter into a vacant, calm, still, silent mind. We go deep within and approach our true existence. At that time, we see that our inner existence is surcharged with peace and tranquillity.
Importance of meditating on the heart (MUN-265)
Sri Chinmoy: Our philosophy gives more importance to the heart than to the mind. We are not saying that the mind is bad. Far from it! But the mind is limited. At most, what we can get from the mind is inspiration. When we meditate on the heart, inspiration turns into aspiration. And not only do we get aspiration, but we also get infinite peace, light and bliss.
Inner knowledge achieved through meditation (MUN-222)
Sri Chinmoy: It is not intellectual knowledge that we get from meditation; what we get is inner knowledge, and inner knowledge means illumination. For example, let us say last week there was no light in this Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium. But now the switch has been turned on and the hall is fully lit. Similarly, for millennia we have been in darkness. If we want to illumine the darkness that covers our body, vital, mind, heart and central being, then we need meditation. Meditation is the light switch that will illumine our existence; only it takes a little time. If we can meditate soulfully and devotedly for many, many years on a regular, daily basis, then most assuredly we will be blessed with real and abiding illumination.
What diplomats can gain from meditation (MUN-83)
Sri Chinmoy: I do hope that they get peace of mind. The delegates are dealing with the world problems, so what they need first and foremost is peace of mind. When they come and pray with us and become one with us, they do feel peace of mind. Then, when they go back to their respective offices, they can solve the problems that they have been facing with new inspiration, new aspiration, new light and new illumination.
Sharing spiritual wealth with others (MUN –123 )
Sri Chinmoy: All those who are at the United Nations have definitely come to bring about peace. When we pray and meditate here, it is not only for the seekers who attend the meeting; it is for everyone. We are all members of the same world-family. So whatever spiritual wealth we earn, we try to share with others.
Meditating for ourselves or for the UN (MUN -119)
Sri Chinmoy: Sometimes we meditate for ourselves and sometimes we meditate on others, or for others. But we have to know that even when we are meditating on others or for others, we are actually meditating for ourselves. That is because humanity is only our enlarged and expanded self. On the strength of our oneness we claim the body, heart and soul of the United Nations as our own. If we have this wider outlook and larger vision, then no matter for whom we pray and meditate, it is ultimately for our benefit since all human beings are part and parcel of one universal family.
Meditating on themes related to the UN (MUN-120)
Sri Chinmoy: There are two approaches. Some people feel that if they can organise a peaceful outer situation, then they can have a peaceful life. They feel they have to bring the world into order before peace and other divine qualities can descend. They start from the outside because they feel that this is what will fulfil them. The second approach is to try to achieve peace, light and bliss in the inner world; only then do we feel, through prayer and meditation, that we can offer it to others. So these are two different approaches. There is no contradiction between them. Both are aiming at the same goal: peace, love, light and bliss. I personally feel that if we have peace, light and bliss within us, then we can more easily bring these qualities into the world at large. It is my inner conviction that politics is dying to be illumined by inner light. In the political world, quarrels and misunderstandings are the order of the day. Again, on a deeper level, politics knows that spirituality can transcend outer world-divisions. Spirituality is the flow of oneness. When there is oneness, there is no feeling of supremacy. Oneness never quarrels. So if we pray and meditate on peace, light and bliss, we will definitely be able to serve those in the political world.
Offering the fruits of meditation to the suffering world (MUN-206)
Question: When I meditate, I feel a flood of love and joy. But then I find that all the suffering of the world seems to well up inside me and I feel guilty for feeling joyful when so many other people are unhappy. Sri Chinmoy: Your oneness-heart feels the sufferings of the world. Now you have to go one step further and play your role. You can share the fruits of your meditation with those who are unhappy. Suppose you have a mango. It is up to you whether you eat the mango yourself or share it. You may not want to share it because it is most delicious; but then you will feel sorry. Again, you can offer a portion of it to your dear ones or to humanity. So when you get peace, joy and bliss from your meditation, you can share it with others in silence. Sometimes they may not use it; inwardly they may find fault with it and reject it. But you can do your part by offering others the peace and joy that you get.
Meditation for a new flow of life energy (MUN-135)
Sri Chinmoy: If you are tired, you should come to the meditations in order to get a new flow of life energy, new enthusiasm and new promise. Meditation is a process that awakens our dormant energy or allows us to acquire energy that right now we do not have. Meditation has the capacity to bring into our physical existence the cosmic energy that is all around us; it can supply us with constant energy. So it is always advisable to come to the meditations regularly; then you will have new energy.
Music during meditations (MUN-137)
Question: You have started offering songs to the Peace Meditation Group to sing at our United Nations meetings, and I was wondering if you could expound upon the purpose of this? Sri Chinmoy: Music is a universal language; it is the easiest and most effective way for the heart to unite the inner world with the fragmented outer world. When the members of the Peace Meditation Group perform these songs, they should feel that they are offering their aspiration in the form of dedication. Those who are listening to the songs will be offering their aspiration by meditating. Meditation is a form of self-dedication that comes from aspiration. If you are trying to aspire, soulful songs will definitely add to your aspiration. Each song is like an additional plant in your aspiration-garden. Naturally, the more plants you have, the more beautiful flowers you will be able to get. When a soulful song is soulfully sung, it gives us tremendous inner joy, and this makes our heart expand. If we are wise, we shall use every means at our disposal to expand our heart to become one with the entire world.
Maintaining tranquillity at work (MUN-87)
Sri Chinmoy: You can maintain inner tranquillity no matter what happens in your office or how many wrong forces from your office try to assail you, provided you feel that these forces are no match for your love of light. When you are in the office, you are constantly attacked by the force of doubt, which is a representative of darkness. If you feel that you have nothing with which to fight this force, then you are totally lost. But if you feel that inside your heart there is something called light, and that this boundless luminosity is infinitely more powerful than the force attacking you, then you have nothing to fear. Your inner light will never surrender to the wrong forces. In fact, when darkness consciously or unconsciously enters into light, it is bound to be transformed. Just by bringing this inner light to the fore, you will see to your great astonishment that the outer darkness immediately will give way. The more you can increase your inner light and bring it to the fore through your prayer and meditation, the sooner you will see the transformation of the outer forces that are attacking you.
Avoiding tension while under pressure (MUN-325)
Question: How can you maintain inner tranquillity at work when you are in an atmosphere with a great deal of pressure? Sri Chinmoy: Before we enter into a project, we must sincerely feel that we have been given the necessary capacity to accomplish it. Then, once we undertake it, we have to bring to the fore our inner determination and inner faith. After that, in silence we must say to ourselves that the project that we have undertaken has already been done on the inner plane. Let us take the inner plane as a higher plane and feel that we have a free access to this higher plane. Let us envision a tree right in front of us. The topmost branches, where the fruits are, we can call the higher plane. Once we climb up and pluck some fruits, we have accomplished our project on the inner plane. But this particular plane is not the plane of manifestation which is at the foot of the tree. So it is obligatory for us to climb down to reach the outer plane. If we feel that we have already climbed up the tree and plucked the fruits and that now we only have to climb down, we will have much more confidence. From beginning to end, the one thing that is of paramount importance is confidence.
Serving the UN through meditation and action (MUN-107)
Question: What is the best way to serve the United Nations: through meditation or action? Sri Chinmoy: There is no basic difference between soulful action and soulful meditation. At times our mind separates action and meditation. But we can easily convince the mind by reaching a certain height with our morning meditation and by reaching the same height through our actions during the day. What we call meditation in the morning, we call dedicated action during the day.
Link to Original Unabridged Text
Many of the questions and answers appearing in this booklet have been condensed from the original. For ease of reference to the original unabridged text, question numbers from the 2018 printed edition and the online version of My Meditation-Service at the United Nations (MUN) are listed after each entry above. The full text can be accessed on SriChinmoyLibrary.com/MUN. Specific questions can be called up by entering a dash and the question number (i.e., SriChinmoyLibrary.com/MUN-219 for the first question listed above..