Question: Do you advise one to leave society in order to make spiritual progress?

Sri Chinmoy: No, I will never advise anybody to leave society. You want to leave society because you are afraid society will pull you down. But if you go deep within, you will see that it is not society that pulls you down; it is your own mind. It is the unruly mind, the undivine mind, that pulls you down. You may be afraid of society and want to enter into the Himalayan caves, but I wish to say that there also your mind will dog you. If your mind is illumined, if your mind is transformed and purified, then you can live anywhere you want to. If you want to escape from society, you will never be able to see the face of reality. It is not the spiritual hero, it is the culprit in you who wants to escape. If you have not done anything wrong, why do you have to escape?

You may feel that your inner life, your efforts to renounce your own undivine thoughts, undivine qualities, will suffer if you mix with society. You may feel that since the members of society are full of the same undivine qualities that you are suffering from, if you mix with them it will be very difficult to get rid of these undivine qualities. If you feel this, then you should remain a little aloof for your inner cure. You are sick and somebody else is sick. If both of you stay together all the time, neither one will be cured. It is for your good and his good that, for some time, you remain a little apart. Once you are totally cured, you can come and cure your friend who is suffering. But to leave your friend altogether, to never again look at his face because you feel that if you mix with him you will also become a victim to suffering — this is a mistake.

We shall not shun society completely. We shall let the inner being be the judge as to how much we can mix with the members of society. In our spiritual life we have to know whether we are a huge banyan tree or only a tiny plant. If we are a tiny plant, we have to be very careful, because at any moment we can be uprooted and destroyed. But if we have become a huge tree, then we don’t have to be afraid of anything.