Name and form are constantly changing;
Their background alone is real.
Body, senses and mind are changing;
“I” alone is changeless and real,
Through all states and times.
One is the “I” when
All experiences are left behind.
One is sentient space.
Just as the sky is not affected by clouds,
One is not affected by
The phenomena that arise in oneself.
As such, the practice of this moment is
The practice of every moment, and that is
The seeing through of whatever it is that
Arises as “not me, not mine””
~ Wu Hsin
The most important thing a spiritual Master does for his spiritual children is to make them consciously aware of something vast and infinite within themselves, which is nothing other than God Himself.
Guru is a Sanskrit word which means “he who illumines.” The one who offers illumination is called a Guru. According to my own inner realisation I wish to say that there is only one real Guru, and that is the Supreme. No human being is the real Guru. But although the Supreme alone is the real Guru, here on earth we value time. If we Find someone who can help . us on our journey towards illumination, we take his help, and we may call him our Guru.
A spiritual Master or Guru is like the eldest child in the family, and the seekers are like his younger spiritual brothers and sisters. Spiritual Masters tell and show their younger brothers and sisters where their Father, the Absolute Guru, is.
The real Guru is not in the vast blue skies. He is inside the very depth of our heart. You may ask, “If He is inside our heart, then why is it necessary for us to take help from somebody else to find Him?” Although this invaluable treasure is inside our heart, we cannot see it or feel it, so we need help. A friend of ours, who we call our Guru or spiritual teacher, comes to us and teaches us how to find our own treasure.
It is not obligatory to have a living Guru, but it is certainly advisable. You know that there is a goal, and you want to reach that goal. If you are wise, you will accept help from someone who can show you the easiest, safest and most effective path to the goal. If you want to take hundreds and thousands of years to realise God, having a spiritual Master is not necessary. But if you want to reach the goal as soon as possible, then certainly it is a necessity.
If you have a Master, it facilitates your inner spiritual progress. A spiritual Master is your private tutor in the spiritual life. There is a big difference between a private tutor and an ordinary teacher. An ordinary teacher will look at a student’s paper and then give him a mark. He will examine the student and then pass him or fail him. But the private tutor personally encourages and inspires the student at home so that he can pass his examination. At every moment in life’s journey, ignorance tries to examine you, but your private tutor will teach you how to pass the examination easily. It is the business of the spiritual teacher to inspire the seeker and increase his aspiration so that he can realise the Highest as soon as possible.
In order to learn anything in this world you need a teacher in the beginning. To learn mathematics you need a teacher. To learn history you need a teacher. It is absurd to feel that for everything else in life you need a teacher, but not for meditation. Why do people go to the university when they can study at home? It is because they feel that they will get expert instruction from people who know the subject well. There have been a few, but very few, real men of knowledge who did not go to any university. Yes, there are exceptions; every rule admits of exceptions. God is in everybody, and if a seeker feels that he does not need human help, he is most welcome to try his capacity alone. But if someone is wise and wants to run toward his goal instead of stumbling or merely walking, then certainly the help of a Guru will be immeasurable.
Right now, perhaps, I am in London. I know that New York exists and that I have to go back there. What do I need to get me there? An airplane and a pilot. In spite of the fact that I know that the plane can take me to New York, I cannot get there without the help of the pilot. Similarly, you know that God exists. You want to reach God through meditation, but someone has to take you there. As the pilot takes me to New York, someone has to take you to the consciousness of God which is deep within you. Someone has to show you how to enter into your own divinity through meditation.
A spiritual Master comes to you with a boat. He says, “Come. If you want to go to the Golden Shore, I will take you. Moreover, once you get into my boat, you can sing on the boat, you can dance, you can even sleep; but I will bring you safely to the Shore.” If you say that you do not need anybody’s help, if you want to swim across the sea of ignorance alone, then it is up to you. But how many years, or how many incarnations will it take you? And again, after swimming for some time you may become totally exhausted and then you may drown.
Without a Guru, your progress will be very slow and uncertain. You may get high, elevating experiences and not give them adequate significance. Or doubt may enter your mind, and you may think, “I am just an ordinary person, so how can I have that kind of experience? Perhaps I am deluding myself.” Or you will tell your friends about your experiences, and they will say, “It is all a mental hallucination!” But if there is someone who knows what the inner reality is, he will be able to assure you that the experiences which you have are absolutely real. The Master encourages the seeker and inspires him. And if the seeker is doing something wrong in his meditation, the Master is in a position to correct him.
Once you complete a course, you no longer need a teacher. If you want to learn how to sing, you go to a singer and learn from him. If you want to be a dancer, you go to a dancer. Once you become a good singer or dancer, you don’t have to go to the teacher anymore. In the spiritual life it is the same. You need help in the beginning, but once you become extremely advanced, you will not need anybody’s help.
If someone becomes a true disciple of a Master, he does not feel that he and his Guru are two totally different beings. He does not feel that his Guru is at the top of the tree and he is at the foot of the tree. No! He feels that the Guru is his own highest part. He feels that he and the Guru are one, that the Guru is his own highest and most developed part. Therefore, a true disciple does not find any difficulty in surrendering his lowest part to his highest part. It is not beneath his dignity to be a devoted disciple, because he knows that both the highest and the lowest are his very own.
He who inspires you is your real teacher He who loves you is your real teacher. He who forces you is your real teacher. He who perfects you is your real teacher. He who treasures you is your real teacher.
– Sri Chinmoy, The Guru
Aspiration is the mounting cry, the climbing cry inside our heart. We can enter into the divine consciousness through our inner cry. This cry is not for name and fame. This cry is our total, unconditional, unreserved oneness with God, who is the Inner Pilot of our life-boat.
We have to make God a living reality in our day-to-day lives. We have to feel that God’s presence is of paramount importance. If we do not eat every day, we starve our body. Similarly, we have to feel that if we do not pray and meditate every day, then we are starving our spiritual body. When we aspire with our heart’s tears, we see that God is coming down to us, descending from above. It is just like two persons meeting; one is on the first floor and the other is on third floor. We go up to the second floor. There we meet and fulfill each other.
The stairway to the second floor is created by our heart’s cry. This is the cry of aspiration; it is not like shedding tears when you do the wrong thing. The heart is crying and yearning like a mounting flame burning upward, always rising. God descends with His Grace, like a river running downward. When aspiration and Grace meet together, we come to experience the divine fulfillment of union with God.
– Sri Chinmoy, The Wings of Joy
Here we are all seekers, seekers of the infinite Light and the eternal Truth. What does this mean? It means that we have accepted the spiritual life soulfully and consciously.
The paramount question is, “What is the spiritual life?” The spiritual life is something that is natural and normal. It is always natural and it is always normal, unlike other things that we come across in our day-to-day multifarious activities. The spiritual life is normal and natural precisely because it knows its Source. Its Source is God the infinite Light and God the eternal Truth.
When we follow the spiritual life, we come to feel that a life of peace need not always remain a far cry. We come to feel that a life of love, the love that expands, need not always remain a far cry. Everything that fulfils us divinely and supremely, we can achieve and claim as our very own if we follow the spiritual life. Right now Peace, Light and Bliss in abundant measure we do not have at our disposal. But when we practise spirituality, when our inner cry, which we call aspiration, climbs up high, higher, highest, at that time Peace, Light and Bliss we get not only in abundant measure but in infinite measure. And we can achieve and treasure these divine qualities in the inmost recesses of our hearts. When we practise the spiritual life soulfully, devotedly and unconditionally, we try to bring to the fore the divinity that we all have. And this divinity is nothing short of our perfection.
Here we are all seekers. Each seeker represents the ideal and the real. The ideal is self-transcendence and the real is God’s all-pervading Consciousness.
If we want to grow into the real and the ideal in us, we have to clean our mind thoroughly of the undivine thoughts that are constantly assailing us. And we have to empty our heart and fill it with infinite Light and Delight. Then God the Real and God the Ideal will be able to sing and dance in our aspiring being.
Here we are all seekers. We are all chosen instruments of the Supreme, our Beloved Supreme, the Eternal Pilot. We can prove this soulful statement of ours, not by words but by deeds, by our serving love and loving service.
Loving service. Our loving service can prove to the world at large that we are the chosen instruments of the Supreme, for the Supreme. When we love the Supreme soulfully, devotedly and unconditionally in our aspiring mind, we heighten our God-Height; and when we serve the Supreme soulfully, devotedly and unconditionally in our aspiring mind, we deepen our God-Depth.
Since we are the chosen instruments of the Supreme, our immediate necessity is God-realisation and our absolute duty is God-manifestation. In the fulfilment of our immediate necessity, we can become the torch-bearers of infinite Truth and the harbingers of God-Vision within us and without. In the fulfilment of our absolute duty, we discover that we are God-seeds and God-fruits. Let us offer our God-seed to the Supreme; let us place it at His Feet, so it may grow into a divine tree that can lift humanity to the highest transcendental Height. Let us also offer to the Supreme our God-fruit. Let us place our God-fruit at His Feet for His Manifestation, His total and complete Manifestation here on earth.
– Sri Chinmoy, Spirituality
Kosha, usually rendered “sheath”, is one of five coverings of the Atman, or Self according to Vedantic philosophy. According to Vedanta, the wise person being aware of the subtle influences of the five elements within each kosha, ever discerns the Self amidst appearances.
Physical – Annamaya Kosha
Anna means food. All of the physical aspects of life come and go, and are consumed by another aspect of external reality. Thus, the outermost of the koshas is called the sheath of food, or Annamaya kosha. In Vedanta practice, we train this aspect of ourselves, take care of it, nurture it, so that we can both enjoy our external lives and go inward without it being an obstacle during meditation time. In meditation, we become aware of Annamaya kosha, explore it, and then go inward, to and through the other koshas.
Energy – Pranamaya Kosha
The next of the koshas is Pranamaya kosha. Prana means energy. It is the vital force that produces the subtle vibrations related to breath, and which are the driving force behind the physical aspect of the senses and the operation of the physical body. It allows the invisible indweller, our True Self to be able to animate in the external world. At the same time, however, it allows the eternally still, silent center of consciousness to be mistakenly identified as the moving, visible physical body. For both a healthy life and the practice of meditation, Vedanta says that it is very useful, or essential that this level of our being be trained, regulated, and directed, so that it flows smoothly. In meditation, we become aware of Pranamaya kosha, explore it, and then go inward, to and through the other koshas.
Mental – Manamaya Kosha
The next of the koshas is Manamaya kosha. Mana means mind. It is the level of processing thoughts and emotions. It is in direct control of the operation, through the prana, of the physical body and senses. It is like a supervisor in a factory, in that it gives instructions, but is not supposed to be the manager of the factory of life. Because of this, it naturally has doubts, and created illusions. When it receives clear instructions from the deeper level, it functions quite well. However, when it is clouded over by its illusions, the deeper wisdom is clouded over. After taking care of the physical body and training the energy flow of prana, the most important part to be trained in positive ways is this level of mind. In meditation, we become aware of Manamaya kosha, explore it, and then go inward, to and through the remaining koshas.
Wisdom – Vijnanamaya Kosha
The next of the koshas is Vijnanamaya kosha. Vijnana means knowing. It is the sheath of wisdom that is underneath the processing, thinking aspect of mind. It knows, decides, judges, and discriminates between this and that, between useful and not useful. It is also the level of ego consciousness, meaning the powerful wave of I-am-ness. This I-am-ness itself is a positive influence, but when it gets co-mingled with the memories, and is clouded over by the manas, it loses its positive strength. A major part of sadhana (spiritual practice) is gaining ever increasing access to this level of our being. It is the level that has the higher wisdom to seek Truth, to go within, in search of the eternal center of consciousness.
Bliss – Anandamaya Kosha
Anandamaya kosha is the most interior of the koshas, the first of the koshas surrounding the Atman, the eternal center of consciousness. Ananda means bliss. However, it is not bliss as a mere emotion experienced at the level of the sheath of mind. Ananda is a whole different order of reality from that of the mind. It is peace, joy, and love that is underneath, beyond the mind, independent of any reason or stimulus to cause a happy mental reaction. It is simply being, resting in bliss called ananda. Yet, even this bliss, however wonderful it is, is still a covering, a sheath, a lampshade covering the pure light of consciousness. It is the subtle most of the five koshas. In the silence of deep meditation, this too is let go of, so as to experience the center.
Atman – Self
Atman is the Self, the eternal center of consciousness, which was never born and never dies. In the metaphor of the lamp and the lampshades, Atman is the light itself, though to even describe it as that is incomplete and incorrect. The deepest light shines through the koshas, and takes on their colorings. Atman, the Self, has been best described as indescribable. The realization of that, in direct experience, is the goal of Yoga meditation, Advaita Vedanta, and Tantra practices.
We are all seekers, and our goal is the same: to achieve inner peace, light, and joy, to become inseparably one with our Source, and to lead lives full of true satisfaction.
To live in joy is to live the inner life. This is the life that leads to self-realisation. Self-realisation is God-realisation, for God is nothing other than the Divinity that is deep inside each one of us, waiting to be discovered and revealed. We may also refer to God as the Inner Pilot or the Supreme. But no matter which term we use, we mean the Highest within us, that which is the ultimate goal of our spiritual quest.
A spiritual person should be a normal person, a sound person. In order to reach God, a spiritual person has to be divinely practical in his day-to-day activities. In divine practicality, we share our inner wealth. We feel the divine motivation behind each action and share the result with others. Spirituality does not negate the outer life. The outer life should be the manifestation of the divine life within us.
– Sri Chinmoy, The Wings of Joy