WMCA-radio interviewOn 8 April 1977 Sri Chinmoy was interviewed by Steve Powers on WMCA radio in New York. Following is a transcription of the interview.
WMCA-radio interviewSteve Powers: What I have found in my previous interviews with him, and learned from my friends who are his followers, is that Sri Chinmoy is very well learned in the whole spiritual aspect, and I also find he has his feet firmly on the ground. So I guess we can start out by saying that you don’t believe that people should lead a totally monastic life, but should have a normal life in this world, with spiritual overtones?
Sri Chinmoy: True spirituality is the acceptance of life. God has created us, and He has accepted us as His very own. If we start to pray to God and meditate on God, then we must know that we are doing all this because we want to have Him. But if we do not accept Him fully, then how can we really have Him? Each individual on earth is representing God, consciously or unconsciously. If we want to approach God, then we have to accept His representative, man. But just because we are not His perfect representatives, we have to try to become perfect so that God can utilise us in His own Way.
Steve Powers: Well, what do you think of the religious groups that advocate withdrawal from the world — the groups that don’t advocate living in ordinary society and having a job and perhaps a family and the rest, but more or less total withdrawal from the world?
Sri Chinmoy: Unfortunately, I cannot see eye-to-eye with them. Today they are afraid of society, of the community; tomorrow they may be afraid of their own minds. Their own doubting and suspicious mind can easily create problems for them. Today it is easy to escape from society, but tomorrow how are they going to escape from their own minds?
Steve Powers: But very often we feel most alone when we are surrounded by many people.
Sri Chinmoy: If we feel a kind of inner loneliness, that loneliness is good. We feel that something is missing or someone is missing, and that is God, our Beloved Supreme. So we try to discover Him again.
Steve Powers: What do you think of the people who don’t believe in God, but believe in a rational way of life, and seem relatively content in their life without the concept of God taking part?
Sri Chinmoy: They do not believe in God, but they do believe in something. We who believe in God know that God is omnipresent. If they say that there is no such thing as God, then we ask them what is the thing that they feel does exist on earth? They cannot name it. The thing that they cannot name, the thing that is nameless according to them, for us is God. Our God is omnipresent; He is everywhere.
Steve Powers: There are a lot of people who feel there is nothing there. They feel that they were biologically brought into this world, and that everything happens either by coincidence or accident or planning. I would call it a totally non-spiritual view of the hereafter. And I think that view is gaining in our society.
Sri Chinmoy: I wish to say at this point that ‘nothing’ is also something for us. Let them say ‘nothing’, let them repeat the word nothing’, but inside that ‘nothing’ there is something. If we repeat the word ‘nothing’ for five minutes, then that word becomes part and parcel of our life, and inside the word ‘nothing’, everything grows.
There has to be a seed first; then there can be a plant. The seed will germinate into a plant, and then it will become a tree. If there is no source, how can there be an effect? There has to be something as the source. Others may call it nothing, but we will call it the divine Source, the Supreme. Others may not call it God, but we will say that what they call ‘nothing’ is nothing other than our God.
Steve Powers: I think there are people who look out on the world and see a lot of chaos, a lot of man’s inhumanity to man in everyday events — nothing cataclysmic, just the way people treat one another in the subway, on the job or in the family, and they wonder whether religion is the answer to these kinds of problems. They’re having problems, perhaps, paying for their heating bill, having problems with their boss, problems with their wife, problems with their children, afraid of being mugged…
Sri Chinmoy: Religion as such is not the answer and cannot be the answer. Religions are limited. I say my religion is better than yours, and you say your religion is better than mine. Religions quarrel and wrangle, but prayer and meditation do dot quarrel or fight. Spirituality, proper spirituality, will not find fault with any religion. Religion is a house. You stay in your house and I stay in my house, but we can go to the same school to study together. Spirituality is the inner school where we get inner knowledge and wisdom. So religion is not the answer, but spirituality is the answer. Spirituality means soulful prayer and meditation.
Steve Powers: One of the problems I think people have is that even if they pray and meditate or if they just try to be “good” as it were, when they go out into the world they find there are people there just waiting to rip them off. The sharks are circling them constantly, so they come back and say, “What good is it if I am kind and good? When I go out in the world the sharks take a chunk of me, and apparently prosper as a result of it.” I think that’s a dilemma of modern America — that the people who do rip them off often prosper, and they see no justice.
Sri Chinmoy: There is justice, but we do not know what God’s Justice is, or how it operates. Again, God’s Justice and His Compassion are inseparable. Good people and spiritual people can pray and meditate for divine protection, and also to illumine mankind. If we are assailed by undivine people when we go out, we can easily pray in the morning not only for our own protection, but also for the illumination of unlit people. If we can sincerely pray for the transformation of the undivine people in the world, then this world of darkness and chaos cannot remain as it is.
Steve Powers: You are telling me we can transform humanity as the direct result of prayer?
Sri Chinmoy: Prayer and meditation can solve all our problems. But we cannot expect immediate or overnight results. Everything takes time.
Steve Powers: But don’t you think people are living in very difficult circumstances who do pray, and then watch their children fall prey to drugs and crime and all sorts of abuses in the society?
Sri Chinmoy: Unfortunately, many people feel that this is their only life. Some people feel that this incarnation is the first and last. But we believe in reincarnation. There is a Sanskrit word, Karma, the law of action and reaction. Who knows what we or our children did in our previous incarnations? Now we are totally oblivious of these former lives. Sometimes we do something wrong and only after a few years we pay the penalty. But we do not realise that we may also have to pay the penalty for things we did wrong in previous lives. That is how God’s Justice works.
Steve Powers: I have enough problems with this life, never mind paying a penalty for a previous goof I might have made! Sri Chinmoy, I’d like to open our telephone lines now to receive questions from our audience.