The first secret of meditation is sincerity. Without sincerity all our best intentions will come to nothing. Sincerity is firstly the resolve to commit to our practice, to meditate a little every day in spite of all other responsibilities. Sincerity makes us feel that our spiritual quest is a sacred journey at the very heart of our life. Every day our practice of meditation reminds us of this reality, and is itself a further step on that journey. When you say to yourself 'I am too busy to meditate today, or too tired, or too many other commitments', you have already deceived yourself, you have already become the vicim of this wrong attitude. Even the word 'sincerity' will warn you, guard you against this, and remind you that all of your outer life is determined by your own consciousness, by your minds clarity, poise, strength, peace – and that ultimately only your spiritual progress really matters.
Sincerity will give you strength, patience and resolve and finally you will be successful; you won't be attached to 'good meditation' or ' bad meditation', you just keep moving forward.
Sri Chinmoy comments:
"Sincerity and spirituality are of paramount importance in our day-to-day life. Sincerity wants to see the Light. Spirituality shows sincerity what the Light is, where the Light is and how the Light can be seen... Where there is sincerity and opportunity, progress is bound to grow. Every day, every second, we can make progress if we have sincere aspiration and, at the same time, if we have opportunity. If one is extremely sincere, either today or tomorrow he will reach his Goal."
In this age which some call the Kali Yuga – a long age of spiritual darkness – any kind of regular spiritual practice is difficult and unlikely to survive without this simple first secret. Sri Ramakrishna, the great spiritual Master from India used to say that in this age all we can do is chant the name of God, like a drowning man clinging on to a life raft. He compared the different types of disciples and seekers in a striking analogy with three dolls – one doll is made of salt, one of cloth, one of stone. If you lower the salt doll into the ocean, (the ocean of ignorance/the world), it will simply dissolve; the cloth doll will be saturated with worldliness but yet retain some of it's shape and spirit; the stone doll will remain untouched and the water will simply run off it. Our hope is that we will all become as stone dolls.
Our modern world is so complex and outwardly focused that it consumes us almost entirely – very few have the strength of the stone doll or are able to dedicate even a small portion of each day to meditation or spiritual practice. Sri Chinmoy's recommendations to spiritual seekers, no matter what path they might follow, offer wonderful insights and remedies to the problem of developing a strong spiritual life. Having made the long journey to God realisation himself, his teachings like those of all the great masters offer a clear and definitive map of the journey and identify the key steps in navigating our way safely.
Sincerity is the first step – you have to decide that yes, this is something you really want to do. You have to commit to the practice. This translates to a dedicated time in your daily life and a dedicated space in your home, your room where you have a focal point to practice meditation, prayer, cultivating a silent mind. You have to practice every day and every day your sincerity will be challenged – other commitments will crowd in and test your resolve.
"Every treasure" says a Chinese proverb "is guarded by dragons – that's how you know it is precious." The treasure of inner progress is guarded by the dragons of physical lethargy, (getting out of bed early to meditate on a cold winter morning!), doubts in the mind (will I lose all my friends, will I go a little crazy?), a wavering resolve (is this really worth the effort?), the cynicism of friends, worldly commitments and an army of inner and outer distractions. So you need some warrior spirit because as the Bhagavad Gita puts it so succinctly, 'the soul is not won by the weakling'.
One of the sub-secrets of sincerity though, is that, like a magnet, sincerity attracts an invisible Grace. As in the painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel where the hands of man and God are outstretched towards each other, almost touching, the effort of meditation attracts God's immediate attention. This grace is one of the great secrets of meditation, the Creator's love for the creation, for sincerity and grace coexist together.
One of the all-time great books on meditation is Sri Chinmoy's classic guide book, Meditation: Man Perfection in God-Satisfaction. If you immerse yourself in this, practice it's recommendations ten minutes every day, you will become a stone doll. You only have to believe that one day, exactly when is up to you and your sincerity – you will be free of suffering, attachment, unhappiness, you will be enlightened!
Begin with sincerity and make a start! Don't wait until tomorrow. You will see for yourself how everything will all work out. If you do this one simple thing, make this one right decision, everything else will fall into place and all obstacles will fall away. You have begun walking along the right road and the unseen grace of the universe will take care of you.