Sri Chinmoy considers his spiritual path to be a merging of the best qualities of East and West - the poise and vastness of the East combined with the dynamism and forward movement of the West. As such, Sri Chinmoy's path has quite a few aspects which, while familiar to people with knowledge of Eastern spirituality, might be unfamiliar to some readers.
Sri Chinmoy's students abstain from eating meat or fish as part of their spiritual discipline.
Question: You are a vegetarian. Is being a vegetarian essential in the spiritual life?
Sri Chinmoy: If we eat meat and fish, then the restless and aggressive qualities of the animal kingdom will enter into us. If our minds or other parts of our being are restless and aggressive, then we cannot have powerful and peaceful meditations. But if we eat only vegetables, then the mild qualities of the vegetable kingdom will enter into us and we will find it easier to have high and deep meditations. Therefore, being a vegetarian can be of considerable benefit to a seeker.
But I cannot say that if someone is not a strict vegetarian, he will not have high experiences or that God-realisation will always remain a far cry. No, it is not true. In the past there were great spiritual figures who ate meat and fish; even now there are spiritual figures who do so, and their lofty experiences and sublime realisations cannot be questioned. But I feel that it is good for people to adopt in their lives anything that can help them make fast, faster, fastest progress.
Sri Chinmoy gave many of his students names that stem from words in Bengali (his native language) or Sanskrit.
Question: Why do you give spiritual names?
Sri Chinmoy: When I give a spiritual name, it is because I see the potentialities and inner capacities of the disciple. I see which qualities this person is likely to bring forward in this incarnation. Each person has many divine qualities, but some of these qualities are more likely or more ready than others to be manifested in this incarnation. So I give different names depending on the soul's capacity, willingness and eagerness to manifest the divine through some particular divine qualities.
Saris and white clothes
During meditation, Sri Chinmoy's male students wear white clothes and their female students wear saris.
Question: Why do your female students wear saris during meditation?
Sri Chinmoy: As soon as someone puts on a policeman's uniform or a doctor's uniform, that person immediately thinks of his role. A uniform reminds you of what you are. On our path, a sari is like a uniform for the women. It reminds them of their spiritual life.
Everything you wear affects your consciousness. If you come to meditation in your running clothes and think that you will be able to reach your highest sooner than the soonest, you are only fooling yourself. In terms of consciousness, there is definitely a great difference between a sari and a punjabi, and between a sari and Western clothes. You can wear a sari and be unspiritual, true; but wearing a sari will definitely remind you of your spiritual life and help you to bring forward your aspiring consciousness.
Of course, aspiration is the most important thing. But there are a few things that will add to your aspiration, and wearing a sari is one of them. If something adds to our aspiration, we should avail ourselves of it.
At the end of meditations, we partake of food which has been offered at the meditation shrine, called prasad.
Sometimes seekers want to get some tangible thing or some tangible reality from the Master. On the inner plane they have felt their soul or grown into some reality. Inner food they have got while meditating with me, but it is not enough. They also feel the need of outer food. They want something on the outer plane that will convince their physical minds. They feel that the outer offering also has conscious power. So I give them blessingful prasad, sanctified food, which has been blessed by my Inner Pilot, who is everybody's Inner Pilot. Outer nourishment they get when they come into physical contact with me. So when they get both inner and outer nourishment, their satisfaction is complete.
~ Sri Chinmoy