Seven Secrets of Meditation, Part 3: Aspiration
"Aspiration is the endless road that leads eternally towards the ever-transcending Beyond." – Sri Chinmoy.
If sincerity is the impulse and commitment to practising meditation, and the spiritual heart is the place where our practice will be most fruitful, then the third secret key is embodied in a single word – aspiration is one of the principle dynamics of the heart and one of the great secrets of the spiritual life – it is an inner cry, a longing for God, a hunger to be free of everything in our nature that prevents our happiness, our self-discovery, our freedom. Aspiration is a current of longing that carries us forward, an evolutionary impulse towards perfection and self-blossoming – Sri Chinmoy's vast anthology of teachings and writings is filled with this recurring theme.
In our normal human life we seek happiness generally in outer ways – in relationships with people, in careers, in possessions, through immersion in all of the pleasures and enchantments of the world. This outer search occupies many lifetimes. When it becomes evident that all of this is not enough to finally satisfy, we begin to look for happiness within, in the still repose of meditation, in self-sufficiency, in a desireless inner world of pure being. A new breeze is flowing in our lives, the current of aspiration.
Where desire looks to the world around us for satisfaction, aspiration looks within, seeking the delight and peace of the soul. Sri Chinmoy describes this inner awakening as a hunger for God's Love, Light and Bliss, the very life-breath of the Supreme within us. Aspiration itself is happiness, or in Sri Chinmoy's words: "There is no difference between inner happiness and aspiration. They are one. Aspiration is the flame and happiness is the light of the flame."
If our soul is only satisfied with its conscious discovery of our oneness with God, then this penultimate achievement is won primarily through aspiration and all our human defects and ignorance will be burnt up in the fire of this one ascending urge to know God. With beautiful loftiness, Sri Chinmoy declares: "The sun of aspiration will rise to fully illumine every aspect of your existence only when you constantly feel that the sun of aspiration is the only reality-existence in your life and in God's entire creation."
Aspiration means continuous progress and continuous transcendence – to go beyond, beyond, beyond. In our meditation this is the effort to become more still than ever before; to go deeper/higher in our consciousness; on the path of bhakti yoga to cry out to God with an ever-deepening, ever-climbing intensity. "Do not be satisfied with success," Sri Chinmoy writes. "Aspire only for progress. Joy is in progress, not in success. Success ends our journey, but progress has no end – if your goal is going higher all the time, then you will constantly make progress and you will get the greatest satisfaction. Every day when you meditate, feel that you will go still deeper, fly still higher."
Habit, time, apathy, the humdrum sameness of days and years; a resignation at our failure to find happiness; a surrendered and secret inner pact with the ordinary – these sap our hope and inspiration and we grow older, fossilize, resigned to be less than we really are. Aspiration is the antidote, shows us the way forward, dreams inside us of what we can become, what we will become – it is the life-breath of spirit, the sap of the hope-tree.
How to keep and increase aspiration? Increasing the percentage of our daily life that includes spiritually positive activities is an obvious first answer – immersing ourselves more in inspirational books, spiritual music, a lengthening and deepening of our meditation practice. A daily goal chart helps – list the days of the week and for each set targets: physical aspiration through aerobics, running, exercise; a half-hour of daily reading to inspire the mind; singing so many songs; meditation at set and regular times; and group meditations to benefit from the aspiration of others.
When our aspiration starts to slip, we have to cry like a child. In Sri Chinmoy's words, "When a child's favourite object is taken away by somebody forcefully, the child cries. On hearing his cry, his father comes and brings him back his favourite object. If you also cry in the same way when your aspiration is taken away by the hostile forces, then the Supreme, the Eternal Father, will bring you back your aspiration."
During meditation, Sri Chinmoy advises also that we imagine and feel an abundance of life energy is entering into us. "While you are meditating you have to feel that each breath that you are breathing in is at least ten times larger than usual. This breath creates an abundant supply of energy... which is nothing but aspiration, an immediate increase of aspiration."
`Gratitude `__, according to Sri Chinmoy, also quickly increases our aspiration – we are meditating because God's Grace is at work in our lives, evident in this kindling of our hunger to become illumined. "Aspiration is undoubtedly an unconditional gift from the Supreme [...] you can increase your aspiration by feeling constantly your gratitude heart for the mounting aspiration that God's infinite Grace has already given to you." And in another lovely insight; "Impelled by His strongest compassion, God takes the feeblest man into His omnipotence."
Like sunlight to the plant these practices nourish our innate spirituality – the inner cry of aspiration can finally become constant and powerful. Writes Sri Chinmoy: "When you feel that the tiny flame of aspiration has died inside you, it means one of two things: either you have been buffeted by a desire-blow or consciously or unconsciously you have slept in one of your familiar rooms: self-indulgence or ignorance."
"It is by constant, sincere effort that you can maintain a strong and growing aspiration. Feel that the day you do not aspire, inside you somebody literally dies. What dies is the most beautiful child which you call the soul. If you don't pray and meditate, then the soul is not getting nourishment. On yesterday's food you cannot exist; on yesterday's meditation you cannot exist. So, if you love the soul, everyday you shall pray and meditate. Your love for the soul itself is your aspiration..."
Another interesting aspect of aspiration is it's increase through self-giving, which contains 'the supreme secret of oneness with God's Will'. When we dedicate a portion of our time to the service of others, we widen our heart, please our soul, multiply our good qualities, foster egolessness, feel our oneness with others in God's creation – all of which intensifies our aspiration.
To cultivate aspiration, our effort, sincerity and heart are all required – we have to prepare ourselves. By such effort we attract the fourth secret – God's grace. God is dying to give us everything, but we must cultivate our hunger, our wanting to enjoy His gifts.
"God has prepared my meal. I have to prepare my hunger. God is ready with my Victory. I have to prepare myself to accept my victory." – Sri Chinmoy.
- Aspiration and Desire And Aspiration – two talks by Sri Chinmoy.
- The Inner Cry – an excerpt from 'The Wings of Joy' by Sri Chinmoy.