Devotional singing

A few thousand years ago, there was a spiritual Master who lived in India, with quite a few devoted disciples. This Master had also composed a few devotional songs – and he taught his disciples that if they sang his songs devotedly and soulfully, it could equal their highest meditation.


At the Master’s weekend meditations, he also encouraged his disciples to perform his music as part of the evening function.

One evening, a new group of disciples came to visit their Master for the first time. They had been following his path for just over a year, but living many miles away they had not had the opportunity to come before.

During the evening function, some of the Master’s older disciples, who happened to be accomplished musicians, performed his music. They had been practising their arrangement for quite a few weeks and had raised the standard to a high musical level. During their performance – as he often did – the Master went into a trance, and even as the performance ended the Master barely seemed to come down from his Heavenly state. After a few moments of precious silence, he offered a faint smile, with eyes still half-closed. This was quite common as the Master rarely commented on performances, preferring just to meditate.

Next to perform were the new group of disciples who sang the Master’s song with no instruments, just singing. Although not always quite together, they sang with great enthusiasm, dynamism, simplicity and joy. Read On…

The balanced spiritual life

Jenya and Kalap were good friends who both followed the same spiritual path. However, they had quite different temperaments. Jenya liked meditation and spiritual discipline, while Kalap was more gregarious and gravitated to working on big projects.


On Kalap’s birthday, their Master invited Kalap to his house for a birthday meditation. Jenya loved to see his Master go into a trance and offer his light to his disciples. Although it was not his birthday, he felt great oneness with his brother-disciple Kalap’s birthday-blessing.

After his Master came down from his lofty trance he offered his love and gratitude to Kalap, but then the Master became more serious, and he added:

“My dear Kalap, I am very happy with your dedication-life and service to my mission. When I need something doing, you are there cheerfully and selflessly. But I would also like you to pay more attention to your aspiration-life – your daily meditation and prayer. Please don’t neglect to meditate.”

Read On…

No Compromise – a short story

A story reflecting on how seekers can be at different stages of devotion and surrender. When following the spiritual path, we may start by seeing how it can improve our life, but as we progress, we try to transcend our personal likes and dislikes and live a disciplined life.

A divine surrender
A supreme freedom.

– Sri Chinmoy [1]

lake sun

Many thousands of years ago in India, Kalo was a relative newcomer to his Master’s Path, and since joining he had been most inspired by those disciples who had been with the Master since the early days of his mission. He felt these disciples had really imbibed part of his Master’s light.

There was also a part of him that wished he had been born just a few years earlier, as his Master had a much closer outer relationship with these disciples. Yet although these thoughts came into his mind, he also just felt grateful to be on the path and felt his Master really valued the inner connection much more.

In many aspects of the spiritual life, his Guru could be very strict. He set very high standards and gave specific instructions on many things, which were not necessarily printed in his books. Sometimes it was a challenge to live up to these standards. His Master had a remarkable knack for discouraging those options which were easy and convenient for the human mind! But, at the same time, Kalo saw in his Master’s teaching the concern and compassion of his Master who saw all the subtle influences affecting a disciple’s consciousness.

One thing Kalo observed was how his Master could treat different disciples in very different ways. To some, the Master would scold for seemingly little rhyme or reason, whilst others would receive the kindest encouragement and highest praise. He felt this was a fascinating aspect of his divine Master – treating each soul according to its needs, capacity and Will of the Supreme. Read On…

Two aspects of meditation – quiet mind, open heart

Good meditation involves quietening the mind and opening the heart. mind-negativity-rainbow-beauty

Usually our mind is constantly engaged in thoughts and can only experience a limited sense of peace. The first aspect of meditation is trying to quieten and ultimately still the mind.

The complement to silencing the mind is ‘opening the heart.’ As we begin to reduce our thoughts and desires, it enables our inner heart to come to the fore. The spiritual heart is the part of our being which encompasses inner silence and our inner joy. It is the heart that is the seat of the soul – our inner being – the connecting link with God.

When we feel an awakening in the heart, this helps very much to quieten the mind. The heart has its own power and intensity. If we get joy from the heart, it becomes increasingly easier to feel detached from the mind and our thought processes. If stopping our thoughts seems an impossible task – don’t worry, concentrate on strengthening the awareness of the heart instead.

quiten-mind-open-heartTwo aspects of meditation that reinforce each other.

A beginner may start meditation and think – stopping my thoughts is very challenging. And, in many ways it is! We cannot expect to stop all thoughts over night – even after a few years of practise, it is not easy. But, as long as we take our first steps to quietening the mind, we also enable the journey of the heart to begin. Some seekers will make more progress through concentrating on the heart – rather than fighting the unruly mind. Focusing on the heart will make our task increasingly easy.

Even if our mind is not perfectly still, we can still start to have a good meditation by bringing the heart to the fore. In the heart, we will feel an inner cry and a sensation of peace. Read On…

Spiritual significance of Christmas

Christmas is a significant date because of the birth of Jesus Christ – who offered a message of peace, forgiveness and divine love. Christmas is a special opportunity to put aside the material world and focus on the spiritual aspirations of peace and happiness.


“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

[Words of the Christ, Matthew 5:9]


When I was a child I used to look forward to Christmas like anything. No school, lots of food, tv – but best of all lots of presents! But, I also remember often being disappointed. Opening presents went by so quick and, by the afternoon, Christmas hadn’t lived up to my very high expectations. As the years go by, I learnt to have no expectations over presents.

What I do like about Christmas is the extra sense of peace and quiet. At least for one day, the world seems to take a day away from business. People seem happier being with friends and family. When asked about the meaning of Christmas, Sri Chinmoy mentioned the importance of happiness

“Christmas? Happiness, happiness, happiness. The Saviour came, two thousand years ago, to bless us and we shall try to be worthy of his blessings. That is to say we must pray and pray for Him to guide us. So my message is only happiness. This happiness only we can get from our prayers and our meditation. If you are happy, the whole world is happy. If you are miserable, the whole world is miserable. For me the Christmas message is happiness. ”

Although, I do not follow the Christian religion, at Christmas time I return home to my parent’s village. In the afternoon, I like to walk up to the empty church and sit in silence in the fading afternoon light – just before sunset and the church door is closed. I really appreciate the fact they keep the church open. When I go (usually just before 4pm) it is getting dark in the church and there is just a single candle light, which I use as object of meditation. Inwardly, I try to keep my mind calm and quiet and focus on the spiritual heart. It is a simple meditation. The church is empty of people, but inwardly there is a sense of something to assuage our human tribulations. Read On…

How science can help spirituality

He says that science
Has made life too easy.
Human beings have become
Lazy and lethargic.

I say that science
Is offering to humanity
More leisure time
To pray and meditate.
It is up to the individual
To avail himself
Of that golden opportunity.

Sri Chinmoy [1]

Sri Chinmoy often talks about how technology can be inimical to spiritual progress. In a nutshell, the spiritual life is about living in the heart. But absorption in the computer-world takes us into a dry, mental world – which can limit a seekers aspiration.


So it is interesting to see the other side of the coin. How science can give us more time for spiritual practice – as long as we are willing to take the opportunity. Read On…

The power of appreciating beauty

appreciate beauty

“Appreciate beauty to become beauty itself” – Sri Chinmoy

I was struck by this aphorism. Simple yet full of significance. To appreciate goodness and beauty is to make it part of ourself.

There is much beauty in the world, but we can lose sight of this – becoming instead caught by the problems, darkness and fears of the world. But, the existence of difficult times makes it even more important to celebrate the good and beautiful.

To a large extent, the cynic and critic fall to a similar level as those who they are criticising. However, if we spend our time in valuing the beautiful and illumining, our focus and concentration will help make it part of ourselves.

The concept of appreciating beauty can easily be extended to other similar qualities. In particular, recognizing the good qualities of others will help us to strengthen these qualities in ourself.

For example, if we meet someone who has excellent capacities, we can react in two ways. We can become secretly jealous and try to put them down. Or we can appreciate their good qualities. When we value their good qualities, like a magnet, we draw these qualities into ourself.

Appreciation doesn’t have to be outer; it may often not be appropriate. But, to recognise the good qualities of others requires a sincere humility and openness; and it remains a powerful way to help to transform our nature.

What we focus on, we make part of ourselves.

Making friends with an old adversary

The hazel tree is an old adversary. Sitting at the corner of the garden, it casts a long shadow over the garden. The tree is no respecter of boundaries; it’s sprawling trunk cuts into four different properties. Though the tree might counter, ‘I was here long before your man made fences’.

Poor Hazel tree hacked by me.

But, as a keen gardener, I have aspirations to bend nature to my will – beautiful flowers need sun not shade.

Over the years, I’ve hacked away at branches to create more light. But for every branch that comes down – the tree continues its remorseless journey towards the sky.

For all the hours of sawing from the top of a ladder, and a big bundle of decapitated branches – the length of shadow has remained broadly the same.

The gardener in me fears the tree growing out of reach, forever plunging the garden into shade. If the tree was one hundred percent in my garden, it would be dead already, but it has been reprieved by its fortuitous placement within the no man’s land of uncertain border regions.

Late summer plants – part in shade

I knew something wasn’t quite right when before going out to meditation, I would look wistfully towards the tree – eyeing up another branch to cull. Read On…