On Gratitude

I am trying to start writing about some of my experiences with Sri Chinmoy, and the more I write, the more I remember.

But what I remember the most was his constant Love; not only the love I know he felt for me, but for all his students, for humanity, and, above all, for God.

It took me more than 25 years of being his student to come to one realisation: that Sri Chinmoy lived always in his Heart of love. As a student, I was always worried if I was inwardly pleasing my Master or not. It is a very genuine concern on the part of the student, who is trying to achieve and live in a higher consciousness, a consciousness in which he sees his Master inhabiting. We were having a function, one of our weekly functions (group meditations), at a local school auditorium. He was singing devotional songs, and I could see and feel that he was singing from his heart. Every note came from the center of his chest, from his devotion-heart.

How fortunate are we to have had the great honor, blessing and privilege to be able to enjoy the company of a Master like Sri Chinmoy.

To watch him meditate was like watching a rocket take off for the moon, but faster. Within seconds his face would be inundated with peace, light and bliss. Sometimes I could only watch and wonder if I could meditate at all!

How many times he saved my spiritual life through his forgiveness and compassion, I will not be able to count. It is impossible to count, because every day the Master would bless me inwardly with his light, and re-kindle my aspiration. With his forgiveness and compassion, with his Love, he would re-inspire me.

I used to leave our group meditations early. Not because I did not like our meetings, but because I felt I could not meditate. I would sit in the back of the auditorium, and if I felt I was not connecting at all, I would just get up and go home.

In 1999 he asked me to do sound reinforcement work for our functions in the local area. One of the things that this did for me was to force me to stay until the end of our meetings, and this helped me to re-discover something I had felt many times during my meditations at home: That when you sit down to meditate, if you try to meditate for, let us say, half an hour to one hour, you might actually meditate well for 5 minutes. But those five minutes were worth the 1-hour effort!

Similarly, when in the presence of someone like Sri Chinmoy, who was (and is) like a fully-blossomed flower, offering its beauty and fragrance, if you stayed in his presence long enough, meditation would eventually happen, almost effortlessly. This was his magic. He had the capacity to raise your consciousness in silence, without uttering a word, just by his mere "vibration" or consciousness.

The image that comes to mind is of an expanding, infinite ocean. When Sri Chinmoy meditated, these divine qualities of his meditation, such as peace, light and bliss, would emanate from him, like an ever-expanding ocean of divine love and peace, and each member of the audience would receive according to his/her capacity and receptivity at that particular moment. So when a Master is offering this higher vibration or consciousness, the divine in the student resonates; it recognizes itself!

I find it very hard to express this in words, yet something is moving me to write about this.

Another metaphor that comes to mind is that of enharmonic strings. In a guitar, for example, if you strike one of the open strings, other strings which are related harmonically to that one will start vibrating. Similarly, when a Master meditates, the Divine is him is revealed, and the people around him who are similarly attuned will start feeling their own Divinity coming forward. This happens in silence, without the need for speeches or words of any kind.

Of course, the Master might also sing a devotional song, or share an aphorism or prayer. In Sri Chinmoy's case, when he did this, you could really see and feel that his meditation did not diminish one bit by the fact that he was singing or reading something to us. As a matter of fact, sometimes I perceived his light increasing as he did this. When he meditated, you could literally see him glow with the light of his inner self.

What a blessing! In India they call this Darshan, which means "vision". It also means the blessings that one receives while in the presence of a spiritual Master. I often wondered about this, and my own (correct or incorrect) feeling about it is that being in the presence of a spiritual Master is "darshan" (vision) because in the Master's face, when he meditates, we see a vision of our own inner divinity, the divinity that will unfold from within us, slowly but steadily over time, a blossoming that will serve the Divine in mankind. And the more we spend time with the Master, the more often we see that "vision".

Going back to the image of the Master as a fully-blossomed flower, which is emanating this divine beauty and fragrance; when in his presence, one would also start to "blossom". The divine in us, the soul, has been likened to a flower in Indian spiritual literature for thousands of years. And indeed it is like that; one can feel the soul unfolding, opening up, as one meditates.

My original intent today was to share with you all two quotes from Sri Chinmoy's writings about the word "gratitude". The first one is an answer to the question "What is gratitude?". The second one is an aphorism about gratitude:

Question: What is gratitude?

Sri Chinmoy: "Gratitude means to become a flower in every part of your being: body, vital, mind and heart. Everything in your being will exist only as a flower. There are 86,000 subtle nerves inside you, but there will not remain anything else except a flower. You as an individual will become only a flower to be placed at the Feet of the Supreme. This flower is completely open; all the petals are blossomed. This is gratitude.

A student quoted one of my aphorisms: "One second of gratitude to God is worth three hours of intense meditation on God." He was finding it difficult to understand this aphorism. He thought that it meant that just to say "Thank you" for one second was worth several hours of meditation. But gratitude is not like shaking hands and saying, "Thank you." No, it may take you many incarnations to come up to the stage of true gratitude.

Inside the physical body there are thousands of nerves and inside the subtle body also there are thousands of subtle nerves. When everything disappears, when you exist only as a most beautiful flower and you feel that you are ready to be placed at the Feet of the Supreme: that is gratitude. But it may take hours, days, months, years or many incarnations to come to that stage. For one second of gratitude, the preparation may take quite a few years. So when I say that gratitude is the most difficult thing and the most important thing, please remember that I am referring to this kind of gratitude.

When everything of yours has gone away, when everything of yours has melted and there only remains one flower, when you remain only as a flower ready for worship and you have placed yourself at the Feet of the Supreme: that is gratitude. From now on, please feel that this is what I mean by gratitude. Otherwise, I will not say that one second of gratitude is equal to three hours of meditation."
-Sri Chinmoy

Sri Chinmoy, Flame Waves, Part 12, Agni Press, 1978.

"Even if I live my life

A thousand times over,

My gratitude-heart will not be worthy

Of my Lord's Compassion infinite."
-Sri Chinmoy

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 40, Agni Press, 2004.

Sometimes, when Sri Chinmoy meditated, you could see him become this gratitude-flower; you could see and feel his whole being, inundated with divine light. It is because of this that this answer prompted me to remember him, as a living example of the word "gratitude" in its fullest meaning.


I love your post Kamalakanta. I thought about it a lot since and it echoes something for me, difficult to describe, sort of being in the two places at the same time - one, the insignificance of my feeble efforts, the other, the majesty and awe of simultaneously being in the vast Consciousness where all is effortless and predestined.

One day I likened it to being a pea in the soup at a great banquet; being aware that I am only a petty little pea, but also a little pea which becomes the King's greatness just by his reassuring glance telling it that without being his little sweet pea, the soup would not be His Banquet Soup and, indeed, His Banquet would be incomplete.

The King picked the menu and the pea soup long before the pea knew it was a pea in the soup and gradually got to know it was chosen to be part of the banquet and would ultimately be consumed by the King, becoming none other than the King himself.