The spiritual life1

True, the spiritual life is an inner life. But this inner life does not and cannot reject the outer life. The outer life is a prey to ignorance; it lives in ignorance, but it does not know what ignorance actually is until it offers itself to the light of the inner life to be inspired, guided and perfected by it.

What is ignorance? It is the breath of limitation. Limitation is the breath of death. Ignorance breaks open the door of our consciousness. It touches, soils and finally blights our consciousness. Consciousness is now forced to change its name. Its new name is ego. Ego is blind self-assertion. This self-assertion is founded on stark bondage and not on freedom. To say nothing of heavenly freedom, the ego sorely lacks even earthly freedom. Ego wants to devour the world. Alas, it is not aware of the fact that its own life has been already devoured by its own impurity, obscurity and futility.

The spiritual life is the natural life of our soul. It is also the life of boundless Eternity. Where is God? He is both in our outer life. In our inner life He is. He breathes and He embodies His Transcendental Divinity. In our outer life He grows, He reveals and He manifests His absolute Reality.

Each human being has to realise his ideal in the world of manifestation. There is no escape. When an aspirant lives in his highest ideal — realisation, liberation, divinisation — his life becomes God's peerless pride and God's brightest smile.

Sri Ramakrishna says, "There are three different paths to reach the ideal: the path of I, the path of Thou and the path of Thou and I. According to the first, all that is, has been, or ever will be, is I myself. In other words, I am, I was and I shall be, to all eternity. According to the second, Thou art, O Lord and all is Thine. And according to the third, Thou art the Lord and I am Thy servant or Thy son. In the perfection of any of these three, God is realised."

One may not believe in God. But he has to believe in something, either here on earth or there in Heaven. Let him go deep within and in no time, he will realise that his very belief in something is another name for God. One may not believe in the existence of the soul. One wants proof of the soul's existence. Here, Emerson's clear and direct reply is, "The desire to seek for the proof of the existence of the soul is the strongest proof itself."

To come back to our spiritual life. The spiritual life does not abide in the world of dreams. On the contrary, it is the outer life that is dreaming in the world of ignorant and unconscious sleep. The inner life is always awake. It denies dreams. It affirms Reality within and without.

Again, just as there are people who do not believe in God, in the existence of the soul, so also are there people who do not believe in miracles. They disclaim all supernatural powers. But I tell them that one day they themselves will neither be able to deny miracles nor will they be able to free themselves from becoming the true and genuine miracle makers. When they start walking along the inner path, the path of spirituality, they will realise that impossibility is a mere word, utterly meaningless. They will display the great miracle in realising the Infinite in the finite and manifesting the Infinite in and through the Finite.


  1. AUM 286. This address is the third of the extemporaneous talks given by Sri Chinmoy in 1968 to organisations in the New York area. "The spiritual life" was given on 24 April 1968 at the Crescent Place Reformed Church (Presbyterian), 46 Crescent Place, Yonkers, N.Y. at the kind invitation of the Reverend Ralph Jallouk.

Sri Chinmoy, AUM — Vol. 3, No. 7,8, Feb. — 27 Mar. 1968, AUM Publishings -- San Juan, P.R., 1968