Question: Could you comment on the different methods of attaining liberation corresponding to the different ages?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us deal only with the present. You did not realise God in the past, so the past cannot help you. It is in the present or the future that you will achieve liberation. In your present state of evolution, what you need most is love and devotion. There are three principal paths to God-realisation: Karma yoga, the path of selfless action; Jnana yoga, the path of knowledge and wisdom; and Bhakti yoga, the path of love, devotion and surrender. In the present day, divine love is the quickest way to realise the Highest. The mind has played its role, especially in the West. The West has offered many mental giants to the world, but right now this country needs more of the wealth of the heart, which is love. And deep inside the heart is the soul.

The soul is everywhere within us, true. The light and consciousness of the soul permeates our whole body, from the soles of our feet to the crown of our head. But we know that there is a particular place where the soul actually abides: in the inmost recesses of the heart. In a person’s house there are many rooms, but the owner stays in one of these rooms most of the time. Although the entire house belongs to him, and is permeated with his consciousness, there is one room where he spends most of his time. If you want to be in closest contact with the owner, you have to stay in that particular room. The owner of our being is the soul. If we want a free access to the soul, we have to focus our attention, our concentration, on the heart. When we can receive the soul’s light, we can make the fastest progress.

All paths are equally important; no path is inferior. But we know the value of time. In the Western world we are always concerned with time and speed. There was a time when we had to be satisfied with the speed of a horse. Now we see how fast the jet plane goes! From here we can go to India by various means of transportation. But if we go by plane, we will reach India the fastest. Since in the outer life we are giving so much value to speed, it is also absolutely necessary for us to give the same value to speed in the inner life. If one is in a position to run the fastest, why should he crawl or just walk? If he has the capacity, let him run the fastest and reach the Goal as soon as possible.

God is already seated on His Throne inside the very depths of our hearts. If we want to make the fastest progress, if we want to reach the Highest as soon as possible, then the path of the heart, which is all love, devotion and surrender, must be followed. So here in the West, let us not think of the past, of what the Vedic Seers did, or of what other spiritual giants did. Let us think of ourselves and what we can do for our own perfection and for the perfection of the world. We have to know that unless and until humanity is perfected inwardly, we can never perfect the world-atmosphere. In order to be perfect, we have to enter into the very depths of our heart so that the light of our soul can come to the fore. We have to bask in the sunshine of our soul and then radiate that light, offering it for the illumination of the world-consciousness. So at the present stage, I wish to recommend to each seeker to follow the path of the heart — that is, love — sincere love, divine love, unconditional love.

Ordinary human love is always full of expectation. With our human love we feel, “I have done so much for that person; certainly he will also do something for me.” But in divine love there is no expectation, because we know that God has already given us all the good qualities that we need. If we are meditating, where has this capacity come from? It has come directly from God. So many people here on earth are not meditating, but we are meditating. Our meditation is a gift of God’s Grace. Long before we expected to meditate, long before we were aware of spirituality or of the Reality, He gave us aspiration, He gave us light, He gave us sincerity. He has given us everything; He has done everything unconditionally for us. Now let us do the same for Him. Let us pray, let us meditate, let us do everything to increase our aspiration. And, at the same time, let us wait for God to give us realisation at His choice Hour. This we can do only if we follow the path of the heart.

In the spiritual heart there is no demand. A mother gives and gives and gives to her child, simply because she loves him. If she is lucky enough, when the child grows up he will give to her in return. But very often he does not return her offering. He has his own life. But as the mother gives, she is blessed by God. The light, affection and other divine qualities which she gives to her child are blessings in themselves. In the spiritual life we must love God in this way, without expectation. We shall pray and meditate, and He who has given us the power to pray and meditate will undoubtedly give us His most delicious fruit, realisation, in His own time.

To come back to your question, in the present-day world the path of the heart is the fastest, and not the path of the mind or of the intellect. Those days are gone, they have played their role. Now, if we want to run the fastest in this world, then the path of the heart is the path to follow.