Sri Chinmoy’s approach to the spiritual life maintains the essence of all the great spiritual traditions, whilst at the same time seeking to integrate this essence with the dynamism of Western life.
Sri Chinmoy’s path is that of the heart rather than of the mind, and he believes that the love and yearning for God expressed through the heart is the fastest way to progress in the spiritual life. God is synonymous with the perfection that each one of us has hidden with ourselves and which at present only fitfully comes to the surface. However through love, the spiritual seeker can identify with the Divine to such an extent the layers of ego and imperfection which mask this divine potential fall away. Hence Sri Chinmoy describes his path as one of love, devotion and surrender to the Inner Pilot.
The path that Sri Chinmoy teaches has two equally important components; one of meditation, and the other of using the fruits of that meditation to serve mankind. True happiness, according to Sri Chinmoy, can be found when trying to bring joy to others, since in serving others we are in fact serving the Divine that lies within us all. In serving humanity, we also become examples of how Eastern poise and wisdom can be integrated with Western dynamism, and show that one can indeed lead a fully spiritual life in today’s fast-paced age.
Sri Chinmoy, through his own example, inspires his students to extend their sadhana to the sporting and creative sphere. Name an athletic or artistic endeavour, and in all likelihood there is a student of Sri Chinmoy’s somewhere on the globe making spiritual progress through its pursuit. The more one makes progress in athletics, for example, the more the mind is rid of its doubting and limiting tendencies, and the more it becomes convinced that, in Sri Chinmoy’s words, “impossibility is a dictionary word”. Hence the emphasis is always on transcending one’s previous limits, on competing with oneself rather than competing with others.
A spiritual life of the kind that Sri Chinmoy espouses, that is, a life that does not attempt to escape from the world but is lived in concert with it, in turn serves as an inspiration to the rest of humanity who are also aspiring for some higher ideal or goal in life. Sri Chinmoy and his students try to offer inspiration through holding free meditation classes, concerts, athletic events, to name a but a few ways. Sri Chinmoy regularly meets people who have themselves done much to inspire others, to offer them encouragement in his unique way. For example, he might compose a song in their honour or set to music some illumining quote they might have honoured; the result, sung with immense goodwill by his students, never fails to move the recipient. Sri Chinmoy’s students themselves always try and draw inspiration from the world around them and their spiritual community; inspiration is constantly needed in the day-to-day life of spiritual aspirants to keep a sense of newness in their spiritual life and keep at bay the dryness that can come from many years of spiritual practice.
Following the time-honoured Indian belief that the beauty of a life lived in the heart is a birthright rather than a commodity, Sri Chinmoy does not charge a fee for his spiritual guidance or the many concerts of meditative music he holds around the globe. His only fee, he says, is the student’s aspiration, his or her sincere cry to realise and become one with the Highest. His students come from all cultural backgrounds, from all religious backgrounds and none. Most of his students come from outside the New York area where he resides, and get the opportunity to visit the Master in New York or when he visits their respective countries. Sri Chinmoy encourages the growth of an inner identification between Master and student through meditation on the heart, and over the time the student gains an inner assurance that the Master has taken full responsibility for the student’s spiritual life, regardless of the student’s physical proximity. Sri Chinmoy accepts students at all levels of spiritual development and guides them inwardly and outwardly according to the needs of their soul.