Harmonising the inner and outer worlds
Sri Chinmoy stresses the importance of remaining in the day-to-day world, and seeing one's daily work as an extension of one's prayer and meditation:
"There are some spiritual Masters who allow their disciples to live vagabond lives. Our path is not like that. I ask my disciples to either work or study. If you work, if you earn a decent, modest living and if you lead a normal life, I will be very happy. It is absolutely necessary to lead a normal life.
You have to feel that work, if you do it devotedly, is the prayer of the body. The body's prayer is necessary, absolutely necessary, to please God. As the heart prays, so also must the mind, the vital and the body pray. When we say that the body has to pray, we have to know that this prayer is done through selfless service"
Some students of Sri Chinmoy have set up enterprises such as shops, cafes and laundromats, a typical example being the 'Run and Become' running store in Edinburgh which Sri Chinmoy is pictured visiting. They are places students can work together in a meditative atmosphere, as well as oases where members of the general public can find respite from the bustle of the city.
In addition to their normal jobs, many students of Sri Chinmoy are inspired to give their time selflessly participating in one pof the many different projects organised by the Centre; for example, holding a meditation class or organising humanitarian assistance Such service provides a tremendous opportunity for inner growth, provided it is performed with the right attitude:
"We have to feel that we are all members of the same family and the rest of the world is ours. When the attitude of helping others comes into the picture, immediately we feel that we are superior and we become proud. We have to take the attitude that we are serving others. If we are in an ordinary consciousness, we may feel that serving others means that we are inferior to them. But if we remain in a divine consciousness, we feel that in serving others we are getting a golden opportunity to serve the Supreme, the Inner Pilot who is inside us and inside them. The question of superiority and inferiority does not arise at all."
However, Sri Chinmoy stresses the importance of first acquiring the inner capacity to serve others through prayer and meditation:
"In order to serve God in man and man in God, the first thing we have to do is pray and meditate. Inside our meditation we will find the divine Message or Command, and we will also see how this Command can be executed. If we discard prayer and meditation and try to become philanthropists or world-lovers, we will be making a deplorable mistake. We will become like a human body without a backbone. First we have to become a God-lover, and then see humanity inside God. If through our meditation we can see God and feel His Presence, then naturally we shall care for mankind. God is like the root of the cosmic Tree. If we want to water the leaves and fruits, it is impossible; we have to water the base of the tree, the root. That is to say, it is only by serving and fulfilling God first that we shall be able to serve and fulfil mankind."