Recollections on Sri Chinmoy: The Public Meditations
- I remember just after I became a student of Sri Chinmoy's in 1997, I used to commute up to Queens once or even twice a week from my college in Trenton. Somehow, the very journey was special. I would drive to the train station in Trenton and then take New Jersey Transit to Penn Station, and then the E and F trains to Queens. As I was a brand new seeker, I would read the Master's books the whole time and commit poems to memory. (My Flute, by Sri Chinmoy, is an absolutely wonderful poetry collection for a new seeker.) Often I would journey on Friday evenings for the seeker meditations.
Oh, God! The seeker meditations were super-cosmic. Sri Chinmoy would come in wearing a beautiful dhoti. He used to wear solid pastel colors like purple or violet or navy blue or pink or white. His entire body radiated a purity and a holiness that I cannot put into words. Just one thing bothered me. I used to experience excruciating head and neck pain at the public meditations. I could not account for it, so I asked my Centre leader for an explanation. He referred me to the following two passages from "The Mind and the Heart in Meditation":
Question: I find public meditations very hard for me. I come in feeling beautiful. Then I feel all this pain coming into my heart and into my head. Am I being attacked? What do you suggest?
Sri Chinmoy: It is not others' impurity or any other negative force that is entering into you. No. Your difficulty is that when you sit in front, you try to pull far beyond your capacity. When I am on stage, the whole stage is flooded with light, When you sit in front of me and look at me, you try to pull. It is as if you are in a shop and you see all sorts of most beautiful things. Like a greedy fellow you want to buy everything, yet you have in your pocket only five cents. When you try to pull beyond the capacity of your receptivity, at that time you get head pain.
Question: I have no problem in Centre meditations.
Sri Chinmoy: At the Centre I am not bringing down that kind of light. In a public meditation, the whole hall is flooded with my power, with my light. Right now, I am absolutely normal. But when I am in a public meditation, I am a totally different person. There my consciousness is on a very, very high level. At that time if you try to pull beyond your receptivity, then you are in trouble. It is not that others have been bringing negative forces into you. No! So the best thing for you to do is sit at the back. There the power is less, but if you sit in the front row, you suffer because your capacity is very limited. As you increase your capacity, it will become easy for you to receive more. That is why I always say, "Don't pull, don't push."
Often I would meditate outside the room, in the hallway. The intensity of Light and Peace that he brought down those evenings is something nobody will ever be able to express.
Sometimes, before the meditation, I would grab a quick dinner at Annam Brahma, a vegetarian restaurant in Queens dedicated to the Master's mission. Once I noticed an elderly Black man looking at the television screen, which featured Sri Chinmoy's activities, with utmost devotion. I asked him if he was a student of Sri Chinmoy's. He said no, that he was actually a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna. Then he said, "But Sri Chinmoy is the same thing." He then told me that he had a copy of Guru's book on Ramakrishna's life, "Drink, Drink My Mother's Nectar."
I was touched that a follower of Ramakrishna would rank my Guru in the same class. Of course, both of them showed the unity of all religions in their all-encompassing service and broad humanity.