Long Island SpectrumThe following interview was broadcast 21 May 1977 over WBAB-FM on "Long Island Spectrum".
Long Island SpectrumJoel Martin: Guru, I welcome you. As a man of peace and love, it is a pleasure to see you and ask you many questions on behalf of my listeners. Will you play us some music?
(Sri Chinmoy played on the esraj)
Joel Martin: Thank you. Can you describe that lovely instrument? It sounds like a violin, but I know that it is more than that. What is the instrument called?
Sri Chinmoy: The name of this instrument is ‘esraj.’ It is an Indian instrument.
Joel Martin: And indeed, you are a master of that instrument.
Sri Chinmoy: I am not a master, but I enjoy playing.
Joel Martin: You play very beautifully. It is very relaxing to listen to.
Sri Chinmoy: This adds to our prayer and meditation. As you know, I have quite a few students. While they are praying and meditating, if they hear this music, it definitely adds to the intensity of their prayer and meditation; therefore, I play quite often for my disciples.
Joel Martin: Sri Chinmoy, there are so many questions I have, I hardly know where to begin. Perhaps the first thing to ask you about is meditation. You are a Master of meditation and understand very well what that means. How do we begin to understand what meditation is, the nature of meditation?
Sri Chinmoy: At the very outset, I wish to tell you that meditation is not a thing to be understood. We understand a thing with our mind. But proper meditation we do with our heart, with our soul. It is very difficult for us to have a free access to our soul, but at least we can feel the presence of our heart. So we meditate in the inmost depth of our heart. The heart feels; the heart does not think, when it is a matter of understanding something, we use the mind, but pure meditation is far beyond the realm of the mind.
In our meditation we try to achieve an inseparable union with our Inner Pilot, the Supreme. Right now, all of us know that there is a Creator — God — unless we are atheists. But if we believe in the existence of God, then we have to go one step further. We try to see Him face to face, we try to have a free access to His inner Reality, we try to communicate with Him. Meditation is a way to have communion with God in a most perfect manner.
Joel Martin: Sri Chinmoy, what is the difference between prayer and meditation?
Sri Chinmoy: Prayer and meditation lead us to the same goal, but prayer has a special significance and meditation also has a special significance. When we pray and meditate, we offer either our desires or our aspiration to God. We want something from God, so with our prayer we talk to God: “O Lord, give us something or make us something.” Prayer is our own way of talking to God. While we are praying, we place before God our desires or our inner cry. We talk at that time, and God listens. But when we meditate with our heart absorbed in some higher realities, it is God who talks to us and we who listen.
So when we pray, we talk to God. Our prayer goes high, higher, highest, and from there God responds. But when we meditate, God descends into our heart, into our very existence, into our life of aspiration and dedication, and we try to execute His Will. He commands us and we immediately try to abide by His divine Will. So this is the difference. When we pray, we look up and ask God to listen to our prayer, and when we meditate, we dive deep within in order to hear God’s Message properly.
Joel Martin: When one wants to learn meditation, must a spiritual Master teach it to you? If so, how does he do it?
Sri Chinmoy: If one wants to learn how to drive, is it not advisable for him to take at least a few lessons from someone who knows how to drive? Otherwise, he will be given the car and immediately he will have an accident and return to God in Heaven before he realises God here on earth. In spirituality also one can make deplorable mistakes if one does not know what one is doing. Spirituality is not an easy thing. If one wants to learn it well, one should take some help. There is nothing wrong in taking help. You went to college and university to get your highest diploma; then you gave up your studies and started your own life.
In life you take some help for everything. In order to become a singer, dancer or anything in life, you take some help. Then when you become well acquainted with that subject, at that time you stop going to the teacher. When it is a matter of spirituality, sometimes I hear people say that they do not want to take lessons, or that they feel they do not need a teacher. But usually they are making a mistake. True, there are some exceptions. Every rule admits of some exceptions. There are quite a few individuals, like Tagore and a few others, who have not gone to school. You know that Tagore became an extraordinary writer. But how many Tagores are there on earth? Most human beings have to go to school in order to get help. If they do not take help from the teachers, they may run into difficulty.
In the spiritual life also, if the seeker does not take help, then he may have some difficulties, some serious doubts about his own spiritual life, and then he will give up. He will think that it is impossible for him to practise spirituality, since there are so many doubts and so many wrong things in his life. But if there is a spiritual Master, the Master will always encourage him and help him. The spiritual Master is not actually a teacher; he is a tutor. The teacher examines you, and he will either pass you in the examination or he will fail you, according to your merit. But the business of a tutor is to help you so that you can pass your examination in the school. A real spiritual Master is a private tutor; he is always trying to help you out.
Joel Martin: You, of course, are from a country where many people are Hindu. In this country, most people are Christian; some are Jewish. If one were to accept your particular spiritual path, Sri Chinmoy, would one have to give up one’s own religion?
Sri Chinmoy: No, a person does not have to give up his religion in order to follow my path. First of all, mine is a path and not a religion. If there is a road, many can walk along that road. I always say that religion is like a house. You have to live in your house and I have to live in my house. But we go to a school, a common school. Many people come and study in that school. Each individual has a house of his own, but when it is a matter of a road or path, whoever wants to walk along that path can. Again, there are many paths that lead to the goal, so it is up to the individual to make a choice. If he likes a particular road, then naturally he will walk along that road.
Joel Martin: Let us talk about your spiritual path. Perhaps you can explain to us exactly what your path is?
Sri Chinmoy: Mine is the path of the heart. It is founded upon divine love, divine devotion and divine surrender. Here I am using the word ‘divine’. When it is human love, we finally come to realise that it eventually ends in total frustration. When it is human devotion, it is nothing short of attachment. And human surrender is done under compulsion. We are compelled to offer our surrender to our superiors.
But divine love is something totally different. It grows within us like a flower; petal by petal it blossoms. It is like a river that is flowing into the sea. Divine devotion is our inner urge to do something with utmost sincerity, purity and divinity. There is a supreme cause, and we have to fulfil it on the strength of our divine devotion towards the cause itself. Then, divine surrender is the surrender that we make to our own highest part. Each individual has two realities: the higher reality and the lower reality. The lower reality is still unlit, obscure, impure; whereas the higher reality is all divine, all perfection. So we consciously try to bring our lower reality into the higher one for its illumination. This surrender is not made to somebody else, to a third person. No, this surrender is made to one’s own highest self.
Joel Martin: In your writings you talk about reconciling the inner world of silence and the outer life of action. Something that troubles me is the idea of putting your ideas and theories into practice in our real lives.
Sri Chinmoy: Theory and practice must go together. When we pray and meditate, we develop or acquire peace of mind, let us say. When we have peace of mind, then we can come into the outer world to solve our problems. The outer world is full of problems, but our inner world is inundated with peace. How can we get in touch with peace, this inner peace? That we do on the strength of our prayer and meditation.
The inner life is not the life of isolation. Real spiritual life, real inner life, will never tell us to leave society and enter into the Himalayan caves; far from it. We dive deep within early in the morning. Then, when we come without, we bring forward what we have received from within and we try to offer this to the world at large. Early in the morning we pray and meditate to acquire some inner wealth: peace, joy and bliss. Then, when we go out to our respective offices and mix with our friends or colleagues, we feel that we are totally different persons. They did not meditate or pray, and they are totally lost in the hustle and bustle of life. When they see right in front of them life’s multifarious activities, they are simply lost. But because we pray and meditate, no matter what happens or what we do, we remain unperturbed; we remain calm and quiet. The inner life we practice through our prayer and meditation, and the outer life we practice through our dedication to the cause of humanity.
Joel Martin: Can I strive for material wealth in my outer life and still be at peace in my inner life?
Sri Chinmoy: Certainly, but we have to know how much material wealth we require. It has to be in proportion to our need. If we want to become the richest person on earth, for that also we can pray and meditate. But we have to know where this prayer is leading us. If we become the richest man by virtue of our prayer, will we be happy? Our prayer and meditation tell us only one thing: God is all joy. If we pray to God to make us the richest person on earth, God may listen to our prayer, but happiness is something totally different. In this world, when God gives us material power, we see that this money power is not what we really need. Love power, oneness power, is what we need.
We may be a millionaire, a billionaire, but when we see that people do not love us, our hearts will break. Like beggars, we cry for love from others. But our material power, our money power, is not going to win their love. Only our love power, our oneness power, is going to win their love. So when we pray to God, we should ask only one thing: “Let Thy Will be done.” If it is God’s Will to make an individual the richest person, then God will do it. But if God’s Will is something different, then God will act in a different way. We can pray to God for material power, but we have to be sincere to our cause. Do we want real happiness in life? If we want real happiness in life, then we have to know that material power can be an obstacle to our God-discovery.
Joel Martin: You have taught meditation to the diplomats at the United Nations, and you have a fine reputation for that. So let me ask you some questions about the real world and the problems of world conflict. Why do we see so much strife around us in the world? Why are many nations in conflict with each other, and why do people not get along because of different religions or races or economic points of view?
Sri Chinmoy: It is because we are swimming in the sea of ignorance. Each individual has limitations, each individual has darkness, each individual has obscurity and impurity. Each individual feels that by becoming superior to others he will derive happiness. Each individual feels a sense of separation. Each individual feels that so long as he can maintain his individuality, he will remain happy. But this is absurd. Happiness comes from oneness. You and I must become inseparably one in order to become happy. But the world does not believe in that kind of happiness. The world wants separation, although separation ends in frustration, and frustration ends in destruction.
But it is very difficult to achieve oneness. Even in our own being there is often conflict. Sometimes the mind wants to do something and the physical revolts or the vital revolts. The heart wants to do something and the other members revolt. In our own personal existence we have no harmony, so how can we expect to have peace on earth? Again, if we pray and meditate, God is bound to listen to our prayer. He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, and He is all Love. He will grant us His boundless Love and, on the strength of His boundless Love, we will be able to see the whole world and each individual in the world as our own, very own.
So, it is lack of prayer and meditation that causes this problem of separativity. If we pray soulfully and meditate soulfully, then this problem can easily be solved. At that time there will be a world without conflict, without war, without misunderstanding. There will be a world of oneness, satisfaction and perfection. This world of oneness, satisfaction and perfection can dawn only when we want to go to the Source and become part and parcel of the Source.
Joel Martin: May we talk, Sri Chinmoy, about you personally, where you come from, where you were born, your childhood, your special visions and how you came to the United States?
Sri Chinmoy: I was born in Bengal, India. At the age of twelve I went to Pondicherry, South India, and there I practised Yoga for twenty years seriously, devotedly, unreservedly and unconditionally. Then I got a message, an inner command, to come to the West to serve the seekers here. My Inner Pilot commanded me to come to the West, especially America, and be of service to Him inside the seekers here; therefore, I am here trying to abide by the command that I received from my Inner Pilot, my Beloved Supreme.
Joel Martin: Why would your Inner Pilot have directed you to come to the United States? Is it because we need help in many ways?
Sri Chinmoy: He alone knows. Only I have to tell you that since He is the Creator, He is all-pervading. For Him there is no barrier between India and America. It is all His creation. India and America are like two houses. The father has every right to ask his son to go from one house to another to live there and mix with his new brothers and sisters. My Father has asked me to come here and mix with new brothers and sisters, and to be of service to Him in my new brothers and sisters. Geographically, India is at one place and America is at another place. But when it is a matter of the heart, there is no such thing as India and America; it is all oneness. Here we sing the song of oneness.
Joel Martin: Westerners sometimes have difficulty with some of the Indian concepts — for example, spiritual Master and Guru. So perhaps the divisions between East and West are very evident.
Sri Chinmoy: In my case, my students do not have any difficulty, precisely because I tell them that the real Master is God Himself. I am only His representative for those who have accepted our path. The real Master, the real Guru, the real Teacher, is God Himself. For my students, my disciples, I happen to be an older brother. Just because I am their eldest brother, I know a little more than they do. I know where the Father is and what the Father is doing. So I tell my younger brothers and sisters, “Come, I shall show you where the Father is.” Once I have shown them, once they can go and talk to the Father, then my role is over.
The eldest member in the family is expected to know more about the Father in the beginning. When he brings the younger ones to the Father, who is their Father as well as his, then his role is over. I never claim to be the Father. I am the friend, the elder brother. It is my bounden duty to serve the Supreme in my disciples, to serve the Father in them and to help them to approach the Father.
Joel Martin: This brings us very nicely to a discussion about your disciples. I would like to know who they are and how they reflect the fruits of meditation that they practise with you.
Sri Chinmoy: I have disciples who belong to other religions. I have disciples who are from various backgrounds. They are mostly of the young generation. I tell them that they have to lead a very spiritual life, a life of simplicity, a life of sincerity and a life of purity. I tell them that they must pay utmost attention to the inner cry that is inside the very depth of their hearts. And I tell them to unlearn most of the things that their minds have taught them. The intellectual mind, sophisticated mind, doubtful mind, suspicious mind, has stored many, many things, and these things must be unlearned. If one can unlearn quite a few things that have been taught by the mind, then one makes very, very fast progress. Doubt, jealousy, anxiety, worry, suspicion and all the undivine qualities are like heavy loads, heavy burdens on our shoulders. So we try to simplify our lives by unlearning and freeing the mind from these so-called friends.
Joel Martin: Have you ever had people who are sceptics and doubters, who are not sure that they should follow your path? If so, how do you answer them?
Sri Chinmoy: First of all, I am very selective, very fussy, in this respect. I do not accept as disciples whoever wants to come to me and follow our path. Not because I have something against that individual, but because I know that some individuals will do far better if they follow somebody else’s path. My Lord will not ask me how many people I have brought to Him. He will only ask me if I have brought to Him the ones that were meant for me. So before I accept a disciple, I concentrate and meditate on the soul of that individual, and if I see that that particular individual is meant for our path, then I accept him. But just because I cannot accept an individual, I will not say that that person is not a seeker. Far from it. Only I know that if that particular person goes to another Master, then he will run the fastest. It is not how many disciples I bring but whether I have accepted the ones who are meant for me: this is what my Lord Supreme will ask me.
Joel Martin: This is radio and not television, so our listeners cannot see the very beautiful robes you are wearing. I know in some of your writings that you talk about the inner meaning and occult significance of colours. What does the colour pink mean?
Sri Chinmoy: This particular colour means inner renunciation. Through inner renunciation we get complete satisfaction in life. We renounce the things that are unnecessary, the things that stand in the way of our God-realisation. We do not renounce the world; we do not renounce human beings. But there are quite a few undivine things in our life, and these we renounce. Either we renounce them or we transform them. It is on the strength of inner renunciation of what is undivine in our life that we get satisfaction, proper satisfaction, in life.
[To be continued in next issue.]