In spite of a pretty turbulent start with many obstacles, I am very happy to be on this path. I simply have more joy in life. My name is Magdalena. I am 45 years old and have been meditating with the Sri Chinmoy Centre in Vienna for three years. I would like to tell a little about my own experiences with Sri Chinmoy and the Vienna Centre.
I work as a nurse in a public hospital. From the beginning, one of my colleagues attracted my attention because of his unusual purity and gentleness. After a while I noticed that my consciousness was higher in his presence and I always had the feeling that he was somehow guiding me towards a spiritual path. I never spoke to him about it, though. After some time he quit working at the hospital and we lost contact.
At that time I was practising Hatha Yoga according to the teachings of "Yoga in daily life" by Paramahansa Swami Maheshwarananda. I was looking for a meditation class, since meditation was my weak point. I chose a meditation class offered by students of Sri Chinmoy. How surprised I was when I opened the door of the Sri Chinmoy Centre the night of the first class and my former colleague warmly welcomed me.
After having attended the meditation class several times I was very surprised that the highest spiritual discipline could harmonise perfectly with a Western lifestyle, with a job and everything that involves – and not just in theory. When I got to know several disciples of Sri Chinmoy, I realised that they lived true spirituality in this place, Vienna’s inner city!!! I was very impressed.
In the beginning of my spiritual life I unfortunately met with strong resistance on the part of my family and my children. The fact that I had an Indian Master, whom we usually call Guru (a Sanskrit word that simply means the one who leads from darkness to light), was too much for them. It is actually very understandable that doubts and fears arise, because everywhere you hear wild stories about exploitative sects and false teachers. After my whole family besieged me with their doubts and fears, I started doubting as well. At least I was sure that this was a true Guru and a sincere and direct path, but how would I know if it was my path? "Is this path really meant for me?" - That was my big question initially.
I loved the philosophy, the Guru and the disciples, but the lifestyle, hmm… Even though I was a vegetarian, did not drink alcohol or smoke and did not have a partner – and was actually very happy living that way – my mind vehemently rejected the idea that it had to be like that from now on. Looking back, I can only laugh about it. I knew that there were also rules for the closer disciples at the Maheshwarananda Ashram and that a certain amount of spiritual discipline is required for every authentic path (for example, to meditate every morning). Still, it took me some time to be able to accept this fact.
Only after a while did I understand why Sri Chinmoy wants us to adopt this kind of lifestyle and to ‘renounce‚ certain things. It makes sense that, if we want to have higher spiritual experiences, we cannot numb ourselves with alcohol. After all, we want to wake up and realise the truth and not descend into the unconscious. In the same way other problematic topics started making sense to me after I read quite a bit about those topics and started dealing with them. I realised that Sri Chinmoy simply wanted to create a path for those ready to run very fast, without detours and distractions, towards their highest goal. Sri Chinmoy’s disciples are grateful for every small clue as well as the discipline that enables them to reach their goal as soon as possible. There will always be people who will not like the guidelines of a spiritual group and will therefore leave after a while. Of course, everyone is free to decide if he or she wants to lead such a one-pointed life or to give it up at any moment to return to the old lifestyle. For me, this question does not arise any more. I know how much I am gaining from my spiritual life and I would not want to miss it for anything.
In a certain way my life has become simpler, because I feel strongly guided and have faith that the right thing will happen at the right moment. I have broadened my thinking and overcome some mental barriers, and now I do not consider anything to be impossible. We can achieve much more than we think we can.
In particular, when problems arise, I face them in a different way than before. For me, problems are nothing but experiences that offer me the possibility to grow. They are necessary for my development and will eventually lead me towards my destination. I have become more conscious of many inner changes that are taking place and I realise how much work is still ahead of me. With a clearer point of view I am also able to empathise more with other people – like my children, for example. Through my meditation I have developed more understanding and compassion toward them, and I can deal better with a lot of situations.
I am able to perceive and treasure the small and truly beautiful things that life offers. The blossoms of a tree or the beauty of the world, for example, evoke in me true feelings of happiness. I simply enjoy life much more than before, and this has a lot to do with my changed perception. My health has become much more important to me. I try to eat healthful food and practise sports regularly. My lifestyle has surely improved a lot since I started meditating.
In my eyes, Sri Chinmoy has become my spiritual father, who guides me inwardly, takes care of me, looks after my needs and concerns himself with my progress. I feel safe, loved and protected under his guidance. Even though not everything that happens in life is to my liking, I know that everything is for the best.
The warm family atmosphere and the feeling of oneness among Sri Chinmoy’s disciples attracted me from the beginning. They are no saints, of course; they are people like others, with their shortcomings and weaknesses, but they try to act from their hearts, and you can feel it. It is wonderful to exchange ideas with like-minded people – the inspiration is always mutual. The group meditations help to concentrate and increase everybody’s strength and make it easier to reach a higher consciousness.