Question: Sri Chinmoy, what do you consider to be the greatest obstacle on the spiritual path?
Sri Chinmoy: The greatest obstacle on the spiritual path is doubt, self-doubt. There is no obstacle as dangerous as doubt. If you doubt God, that is one thing. There is no harm in it in the sense that God will not lose any of His infinite capacities because of your doubt. But if you start doubting yourself, then you are totally lost. All your inner capacities will be washed away in the torrent of your self-doubt.
You should not doubt God and you should not doubt yourself. But if you have to doubt one of the two, then the best thing is to doubt God. Each moment you use the words 'I' and 'mine'. Although you claim that you doubt yourself, at the same time you say, "I am eating, I am breathing, my friend, my house." Here is the proof of your own existence. God's existence you do not see and you cannot prove right now. But your own existence you can prove because you are experiencing it. If you use the terms 'I', 'mine' and 'my' and then say that you don't exist, people will laugh at you. You will be caught; you will not be able to doubt your existence. But God's existence you can doubt if you want to, because He is not standing right in front of you; you do not see Him or consciously feel Him. In season and out of season, you can doubt Him.
Now, you may have absolute faith in God's existence, but you may doubt God's Compassion. You may say, "Is God so compassionate? I have done so many things wrong in my life. Will He give me His Knowledge-Light? Why should He show me His unconditional Compassion?" This is another kind of doubt. Right now you do not disbelieve God's existence or your own existence, but you doubt God's Compassion and God's Concern for you. Once upon a time you were a soul in the soul's world. Who brought your soul into this world? It was God who did it. Before you were consciously aware of spirituality, divinity and reality, God gave you life. God gave you the message of divinity. Already you can see how much God has given you for which you have never asked consciously. It has all come to you through your soul. And who created your soul? God. Who offered it to you? God. Who is going to fulfil you through your soul? Again, it is God. So you can easily stop doubting God's Concern.
Then you may feel that with your own capacity you cannot realise God. This is still another kind of doubt. But if somebody else has realised God, why should you not be able to do the same? God, the same God that exists in him, also exists in you, only you are not aspiring enough to see Him. All souls have come from God, not from anywhere else. So if one person has realised God through the aspiration of his soul, anyone can do it. You can also realise God. Your doubt is baseless. You have to feel only that your aspiration is not yet as intense as the other person's aspiration was. Finally you have to feel that God can never be fulfilled until you have realised Him. God's existence needs fulfilment in and through you. He will never be totally fulfilled as long as you remain unrealised. If your friend has realised God but you still remain unrealised, then rest assured that God remains unfulfilled. He will be fulfilled only on the day when all human beings have realised Him.
God's business is to fulfil Himself and manifest Himself on earth. If you consciously aspire, then it becomes easier for Him to fulfil and manifest Himself. You can rest assured that God needs your conscious co-operation for His fulfilment. If you offer Him your sincerity and your aspiration, and take one step towards Him, He will take ninety-nine steps towards you. You give what you can, and God will give you not only what He has but also what He is. What He has is infinite Concern and what He is is infinite Light.
So the worst obstacle in the spiritual life is doubt. If you can conquer all doubt, then you will be much closer to God-realisation. There are many other obstacles, of course, but these obstacles are not as dangerous as doubt. Doubt is a slow poison. If we cherish doubt every day, this slow poison will gradually kill us. We must throw doubt from our inner life and from our entire existence.