Question: Most of us have a habitual way of operating no matter how many times you say you are displeased with us. Is it likely that we will change that habit after such a long time and make new progress?

Sri Chinmoy: I have scolded you people many, many times. After each scolding I have noticed a little progress, and sometimes appreciable progress, inside some disciples. Sometimes for a few hours you make progress, sometimes for a few days, sometimes for a month or two. Then the progress disappears in most cases. If the disciples could maintain their progress for a few months and then transcend that progress, I would be extremely grateful to them and proud of them.

What actually happens is this. When they get a serious scolding, they feel that their spiritual life is at stake, so they have to make progress. But then, after a few days or a few weeks, again they become complacent. They feel that as long as they remain in the boat it is enough. They say, “Guru always barks, but he never bites,” which is absolutely true. I bark but I don’t bite. But good disciples will say “Why should we allow him to bark? Why should we make him play the role of a dog? He is representing God for us. G-o-d is God; d-o-g is dog. If we see God before us, we follow Him. But in the case of a dog, the dog follows us. If we really want Guru to be our God-representative on earth, then naturally it is we who have to follow him and not the other way around. He must not play the role of a dog and follow behind us and bark and bark. Our attitude has to be totally changed. What we should do all the time is think of the Master as the representative of God, especially for us. It is we who are supposed to follow him. Whatever he does or whatever he tells us to do, we have to take it as the right thing for us.”

There are various reasons why you do not make progress and why, even when you do make progress, you cannot maintain that progress. First of all, you expect everything from your Master but you are not prepared to give anything in return. Sometimes you want to give only according to your willingness, not according to your capacity. Willingness and capacity are two totally different things. You have the capacity to give your body, vital, mind, heart and soul completely, but your willingness is only to give the heart, not the mind or the vital or the physical reality. You do have the capacity to give yourself unreservedly and unconditionally. When I use the term unconditionally, I sincerely mean it and I know that you can do it. Unconditionally you can give your physical existence, vital reality, mind, heart, and psychic reality. You can give everything. This is your capacity. But your willingness is only to give a portion, an iota of your heart’s love or heart’s concern, to me.

Now the question is, whether or not the disciples will change. I wish to tell you that they do change for a few seconds or a few hours or a few days or weeks, but it does not last. Why does it not last? As I said, the first reason is constant demand, constant demand. “Guru has to do this for me, since I am in his boat.” “He smiled at that person. Why is he not smiling at me?” “He spent so much time with this person. Why did he not spend time with me?"

You have to know who is the boss here. The boss is not a human boss who has to deal with everybody in the same way. If everybody has to be dealt with in the same way, then there will be terrible disaster immediately. If you put a lion, a cat, a goat, a dog, a cow and all the other animals together, what happens? They will just kill one another. My smile and my outer attention are like two kinds of food. Different disciples need different types of nourishment from me, just as different animals need different kinds of food. If an animal is supposed to eat meat and I give that animal grass, will that animal be able to survive? And if an animal eats only grass and I give it meat, then will it survive? You have to feel that the food that I give you at a particular point in your spiritual life is the only food that will be nourishing for you. If I give you the food that is meant for somebody else, then it will be a terrible mistake on my part.

A little child will eat something very easy to digest, while an adult can eat something that is harder to digest. In my spiritual family everybody seems to think that he can eat the food of the eldest member of the family or the one who is more mature. Spiritual maturity is not measured by age; it is a different matter. If somebody has done something good in the inner world or the outer world, then the Master may smile at that person. But the next person may not have done anything good. On the contrary, he may have done something very, very wrong. But that person often expects the same kind of smile from the Master.

What is constantly taking away spirituality from the disciples is that they are constantly comparing what others are getting and what they are getting. They should try to feel that what they are getting is by far the best for them and what others are getting is by far the best for them. If they think that only what others are getting is meaningful and fruitful, and what they are getting is all rubbish, then they will be able to make no progress. What they have got, what they are getting, what they will get, is absolutely the best thing for them.

The eagerness, the joy, the enthusiasm that each individual had when he or she joined the path must be kept alive every day. Inside eagerness is newness. You are eager to get something, to receive something, but how do you get it? You get it only when you value newness in life. When that eagerness goes away, the sense of newness does not come. In the case of most of the disciples, eagerness has gone away. When you joined our path you saw something new: every day something new in our path, new in your life, new in your activities. That newness is still coming into your life every day in a different form when you achieve more peace, more light, more joy, more harmony, more oneness with the Will of the Supreme which is operating in and through me. But if you lose eagerness, then you have to feel that you are dead, because the sense of newness is not coming to you. And if there is no newness, then what are you going to achieve, what are you going to do for God, for the Supreme?

Every day think of the day when you first made a total commitment to our path. How eager you were, how happy you were! Then try to go one step ahead. Remember that the goal is not stationary, but constantly dynamic. It is flowing, growing and glowing. So remember the first day of your total commitment and then feel that now every day you are trying for a higher goal, for a brighter goal, for a more illumining goal, for a more fulfilling goal. If you have that kind of attitude toward your life, toward the path, then I assure you that every day you are in the process of change and transformation. If newness has gone away, then there will be only sadness, frustration and depression. You will think, “Oh, what have I done? Now I am stuck. I can’t go to this side and I can’t go to that side. I am getting nothing from spiritual life, from this path, but there is no guarantee that I will get something if I go to some other path, so the best thing is to stay here. Human life does not care for change. Once our human life is fixed, this is our karma, this is our fate.” No, this kind of attitude you cannot have.

Always we have to see that our human life is flowing, climbing, growing and glowing. Movement is constant. If we know that there is a constant flow, then our life will be like a river. We will have constant eagerness to run, to change, to move and flow and reach the sea, the infinite sea. Every day, dear ones, if you have eagerness to transcend the goal which you have already reached by accepting the path, then you will definitely make progress. Every day, every second, only ask yourself if you are going to please me by doing this, by saying this or by becoming this. Before you do anything, ask this question. Keep a question mark in your life. “Shall I say this? Shall I do this? Shall I?” Immediately the answer will be “yes” or “no.” Then act according to the answer.

Something more I wish to say. Some of you think that as long as you do not consciously enjoy ignorance, accept ignorance or embrace ignorance, then you are safe. But I wish to tell you that the life of temptation is like the camel eating the thorns of a cactus. The camel enjoys and enjoys it, although his mouth bleeds. Again, ignorance is like fire. You may touch fire and burn yourself. But in an unguarded moment your apartment can catch fire and burn you totally, even though you yourself have not consciously or deliberately touched fire. You think that as long as you do not touch fire, which is temptation-life, you are safe. But I wish to say, no, you may not touch fire, but temptation-life has its own reality. Temptation-life can come and touch you. The result is the same.

If you identify yourself with your right hand, you may think that as long as you do not take your right hand to touch your left hand — which, let us say, is temptation-life — you are safe. But you have to know that your left hand also has the capacity to come and touch your right hand. You feel that you have conquered temptation, so you will not be caught by temptation. But temptation-life has its own reality. You may feel that you are not interested in temptation-life, but temptation-life will not forget you. If you allow it, it will come and touch you. Then you are destroyed.

Some of you always have this kind of feeling: “I won’t be caught by this desire; I won’t be caught by this temptation; I can’t be — no, no. I have meditated for so many years, how can I be caught?” But I wish to say, yes, you can be caught. First of all, your assessment of yourself may not be correct. It may be totally false. But still your superior air of pride says, “No, I can’t be like that; I can’t be caught; I won’t be destroyed.” That is your feeling. But if somebody comes and catches you, what are you going to do? You will not touch fire, but fire can touch you. You will not enter into desire-life, but desire-life can enter into you. You will not go out of your house; therefore, you think that you will not see the face of your enemy. But how do you know that your enemy will not come into your house uninvited? If you do not keep your doors and windows carefully guarded, your enemy, who may come in the form of a friend, will enter into your apartment, into you, and then ruin you. You have to be very careful at every moment. But instead, you even enter into temptation-life or desire-life, feeling that you will not be caught, that you will not allow yourself to be caught. But you do not know that temptation-life, which is a powerful force, can come and catch you.

The best thing is that you will not go out and mix with your enemy, temptation, and also you will not allow your enemy to enter into you. Remain totally separated from temptation. All of you have the feeling, “Since I won’t embrace ignorance, I will not be captured by ignorance, by the lower forces or the vital life.” But these forces will come and attack you. So always feel that you are not going to do anything wrong and also you will not allow others to do anything wrong in your life. Otherwise, you will be totally ruined, because when the wrong forces of others consciously, deliberately attack you, you will just allow them to come in. You may think that this has to be something reciprocal: if you do not attack, if you do not enter into that person’s life, then how will that person attack you? But that person can do anything. What he does is not up to you. You may say, “If I don’t look at someone’s face, why should that person look at my face?” But you know it is not like that. That person can look at your face even if you do not want to look at him. You may not do anything undivine, but others can consciously or unconsciously do undivine things toward your life.

These are the reasons why you cannot make progress; these are the things that prevent you from making satisfactory progress. You have to know what others can do against you with their wrong forces. You think that you are not responsible and you may not be responsible. But somebody can make your life miserable; somebody can ruin your aspiration. So always remain on the alert. Feel that at any moment you may be attacked on any plane — on the physical, vital or mental plane. Be always alert, alert, alert, and then only go forward, go forward.

Always you have to feel the necessity of asking a question before you do anything: Will Guru be pleased with me if I do this, if I say this? Will Guru approve of it? Will Guru like the idea? Always ask these questions. If the answer is “no,” identify yourself with the answer and do not do the thing. If it is “yes,” identify yourself with the answer and do it. Then how will it be possible for you not to make any progress? The moment you get the answer, just execute it. Then you will definitely make progress.

Another difficulty is that the disciples, after accepting the path and making some progress, are cherishing a complacent feeling. Consciously or unconsciously they feel that they are superior, not only to others in the outside world, but also to their brother and sister disciples. I tell you, with this superior feeling you are destroying yourselves. You are following a spiritual path and others are not following any path, so that is why you feel that you are superior. But superiority and inferiority lie only in your mind. How much oneness have you established with your Master? That is your only success, your only progress. You want to establish your oneness with the leaves or the flowers or the fruits of the tree of life without touching the root and the trunk, which is the Master. The leaves are also the Master, but if you do not first claim the Master who is the root and the trunk, then you are making a serious mistake; you are totally lost. You have to start from the source, which is the root of the tree.

So, dear ones, I am telling you once and for all that if you think that you are better or more advanced than others just because you do not have this difficulty or that difficulty, or this shortcoming or that shortcoming, then you are totally mistaken. You will have no shortcoming at all only when you become consciously and constantly one with the Will of the Supreme at every moment, and do the right thing according to the message that you get from within. Otherwise, your attitude or feeling will almost invariably cause you to make a deplorable mistake. And if you make a serious mistake once, then for six months your inner progress can stop. Of if you have made a serious, deplorable mistake, then six months’ progress which you have already made can be destroyed or nullified. Again, if you do one thing right to please the Supreme in me, then rest assured that you have made six months’ progress in one fleeing second. In one second you can make astonishing, astounding progress, which can last for six months. And again, in one second if you do something seriously wrong, then the Master loses all his faith in you. Once he loses faith, then your progress is totally destroyed. So always make the Master feel that he can have implicit faith in you, in your action, in your capacity, in your sincerity, in your devotedness.

You have to remember all the time that there are two worlds: the inner world and the outer world. For you, the inner world does not exist, and just because it does not exist for you, you think that that world does not exist for me, either. But this is absolutely untrue. You are not aware of the inner world. That is why you feel that whatever happens in your mind is between you and your mind. How am I going to hear it or keep track of it? But I wish to say that anything that happens in your mind, your soul knows; and my best friend is your soul. Your soul will immediately tell me what your mind is doing. Never think that your soul’s best friend is your mind and therefore, your soul will hide whatever is happening in the mind, if it is something undivine.

Your soul is my best friend. Your soul will immediately tell me what your mind is doing, what your vital is doing, what your physical consciousness is doing. Again, your soul is not treacherous — far from it. Your soul and the realised part in me have undertaken the same responsibility: to make you perfect. When the other members of the family — like the vital, mind and physical — are doing something wrong, at that time they become lame, blind, dumb. Then your soul feels like telling me, the doctor, that I have to come and cure you. So to all of you I am saying that you cannot deceive me because you have a soul, and your soul and my existence are inseparably one.

Some of you think that I cannot read minds. But that capacity God granted me at the age of twelve. I use it hundreds and thousands of times, but I do not tell outwardly that I am doing it. If I tell outwardly, then I will lose all the disciples. I have told you before that at the age of nineteen or twenty I had a young friend who was suffering from vital problems. He had a girlfriend and he had many problems with his vital life. But my love for him was all compassion. One day we were eating together and he asked me by way of joke, “Can you read minds?” I said, “All right. Let us see whether I can read your mind or not. You just write down whatever is in your mind. Then I will tell you what you have written. Right now if I tell you what is in your mind, you will deny it. So the best thing is for you to write it down.” He wrote it down and then I told him word for word what he had written. He said, “How did you do it?” I said, “It is already written on your forehead.”

I lost that particular friend by telling him what was in his mind. He had been my friend for five or six years, but then he said, “O my God! That means all the evil thoughts that are in my mind, you know. Today you know and tomorrow perhaps you will tell the whole world.” I said, “Have I nothing else to do?” But he said, “How can I trust you? Since you know it, you won’t keep anything hidden. Today you know it; tomorrow you will tell.” So he left. Even now, I have never exposed him. I am telling you about the incident, but I have never said the name of the person. But I lost that friend for good.

Sometimes when my disciples come to me for prasad or I see you on other occasions, you try to hide the evil thoughts that are in your minds. Again, sometimes you feel that it is not necessary to try to hide them because I do not know what is inside your mind. But both times you are fooled. When you think that you are successful in hiding them, you are mistaken. And when you think that I do not see them, you are also mistaken. You will be wise only when you immediately throw your evil thoughts into me as soon as they come, and desperately tell me inwardly, “Take them, take them, take them! I am dying, I am dying! I have got a spiritual heart attack. Please save me, save me!” At that time I will become one with your heart attack and I will say, “He is suffering. Let me take it.” But if you want to hide, if you do not want to take the doctor’s medicine, then it is not the doctor’s fault if you die. When you try to hide your undivine thoughts, you are making a serious mistake, and when you think that I do not see them, you are again making a mistake.

I have the capacity to read minds, and every second I can do it. But I do not use this capacity to expose you people. Spiritual Masters have to use it, but I use it not to know how bad you are, but to save you. When you come into a room that is illumined, automatically the illumined consciousness of the room sees you. Similarly, when you come to me, my light all around me sees you, not to expose you, but to illumine you. Unless it sees what is wrong, how can it illumine? So you do not have to be embarrassed or afraid. Your sincerity will save you.

Many, many times I get personal letters about lower vital problems, absolutely lowest vital problems and all that. But do I get angry? On the contrary, I see there frankness and sincerity, and I try desperately to save the person. But if you feel that since lower forces are bothering you, you should be ashamed, then you are making a serious mistake. You should be ashamed of your conduct only when you do not throw your suffering into me. Only when you hide it should you be ashamed. Only when you feel that I do not know what is going on should you feel ashamed. But no matter on which plane you are attacked, on the physical plane, the vital plane or the mental plane, if you immediately throw the wrong forces into me, then you are safe.

Dear ones, I have told you so many reasons why you people do not make progress or, when you do make progress, why you cannot maintain it. So at every moment make yourself feel that you have only one name: sincerity — sincerity in the physical, sincerity in the vital, sincerity in the mind, sincerity in the heart. And immediately feel that sincerity will offer everything to me. If it is good, if it is a beautiful flower, then give it to me. Again, if it is ink or some dirty, filthy thing, then give it to me. When a child gets a beautiful flower, he runs and gives it to his mother or father, to his dearest one. And again, when his body is besmeared with mud and dirt, he goes to his dearest mother or father. When he is the possessor of something good, he goes; when he is the possessor of something bad, he goes. He does not keep either the good thing or the bad thing for himself. He gives that very thing to his dearest one and the dearest one does the needful. If it is bad, he transforms it into good. If it is good, he transforms it into something infinitely better. Your lives also should be like that. When a wrong movement comes, give it to me to transform it. If something good enters into you, then give it to me so that I can make it infinitely better, more illumining and more fulfilling.

Now your heart has to accept what I have said. Then, after your heart has accepted it, the next thing is for your mind to have faith in your heart’s acceptance. Then the vital and the physical have to accept what the mind has accepted from the heart. If you can do this, you will become my perfect instrument, and you will realise that I am your perfect Master. Otherwise, you will be imperfect and I will be imperfect. With two imperfect souls, God can achieve next to nothing.