Question: Guru, I sometimes find myself preoccupied with the frustrations of my past and my insecurities about the future. How can I conquer my attachment to time?3

Sri Chinmoy: Good boy, you know that the past is dust — the past that drags us back. We think, "I did this wrong; you did that wrong; I did this wrong." By thinking of the past, we are not going ahead. The past is like a chain pulling us back. We want to go forward, but the chain is so powerful that it is bringing us back.

Again, the future is also something never to be thought of. The present is the only thing that we should care for. If we think of the future, including our future worries and anxieties, we cannot go forward. The future is all uncertainty, uncertainty. Even the Highest Himself changes His Opinion. Today the Highest says, "The future will be like this." The next moment, to our greatest surprise, the Highest can change His Plan.

It is like football, or what you call soccer. When you play soccer, you are sure that another player is going to score with his right leg. Alas, at the last moment he uses his left leg. Or you are sure that he is going to try to score, but he passes the ball on to somebody else. That person is coming towards you, and he is trying to score. You think that he is going to use his right leg, but he uses his left leg. Then you think that he is definitely going to try to score. No, he passes the ball on to somebody else. This is what happens in our day-to-day life.

Again, ultimately we know that our team will score. Either you will score or your brother will score or somebody else will score; that we know. The ultimate conclusion of the Cosmic Game we know. The ultimate conclusion is the Victory of the Divine. You have been watching the Mahabharata videos on television. How the good people, the Pandavas, are suffering, suffering, suffering, suffering! Is there any comparison between the Pandavas and the Kauravas? The Pandavas are suffering, suffering and suffering, but Sri Krishna is always there for them. This is the Cosmic Game. Sri Krishna goes on, suffering inside the Pandavas, with the Pandavas. Then what happens? He knows that ultimately the Pandavas will win. Sri Krishna is God Himself, but he has to leave his place with all his people and establish a kingdom somewhere else. It is all part of the Cosmic Plan. When the time comes, he wins the divine Victory.

Let us not think of the future. The more we think of the future, the more confusion we create. And if we think of the past, we will see that the past only knows how to pull us back, pull us back, pull us back immediately. Then we go back to the beginning and again we have to start our journey. The moment we think of the past, a very powerful chain is dragging us back. And when we think of the future, it is all uncertain. True, it is certain in the sense that we know the divine Victory is the ultimate conclusion. But in the meantime, if we want to see the light in a particular way, even if we are sure that the light is at a particular place, we will find that the light is not there; it is somewhere else.

Always there are times when we do not expect the game to proceed in a certain way. Let us think of our Sunil.4 In his case, he lived five years more than he was fated to live. But how do we know that Sunil did not have a strong desire to climb the Himalayas one day? How do we know that he did not want to swim the English Channel once more? Now look at his future. He imagined a rosy future. He thought, "I will do this, I will do that, I will improve my health." He had already climbed so many mountains, and he was hoping that one day he would climb the Himalayas. He hoped that once more he would swim the English Channel. If we think of the future, it is all hope.

Somebody is studying in high school. He thinks that he will graduate, then he will get a Bachelor's degree, then a Master's degree. He is planning. Planning is not bad, but if he thinks only of the future, he is wasting time. If he is studying at the high school level, he should think of the immediate next step, college - nothing more. He should think of only one step. And again, if he is really wise, he will think only of his present studies. He has not to think of college at all. Now he has to complete high school. If he is completing his high school course, then let him only think of that. Otherwise, he is dealing with uncertainty. The goal is there, but the road is not straight; it is zigzag, always zigzag.

We say there is a golden road, but that is only if one has tremendous aspiration, a most intense inner cry, twenty-four hours a day. How many people can have a twenty-four-hour-a-day inner cry? Yes, there is a short cut: the golden road. But we may not be aware of that golden road. Or we may know it is there, but how will we get there? With constant prayer and constant meditation we can arrive at that golden road. Otherwise, the road is like a snake. This serpentine road goes on and on.

Worrying either about the past, about what we have already done, or about what is going to happen in the future, does not help. What we need is light, more light, abundant light. Then we have to know that we should never try to fight against darkness. Darkness has to be illumined. Some countries are fighting, fighting, fighting, but where is satisfaction? If we want to have joy, "tit for tat" does not work — never! We cannot fight against darkness. Yes, we can fight, but darkness will also fight against us.

Light does not fight. Light only illumines. For us, light is here, in the present. The light that the present gives us, or the light that we have in the present, that light we have to increase. By increasing the light, we shall try to illumine the uncertain future, where we are imagining what is going to happen. If we can illumine the future, it does not remain the future; it becomes today. It becomes now. If we have the light, that light will show if there is any danger ten steps ahead or if the road is clear. But if we do not have the light, then the next step we do not know. To see the future, we have to increase our inner light.

The more we have inner light, the farther we can see. At that time we can call it the future, or we can say that the reality ahead of us has come into our today's life. The reality is in the future, but with our light we are not seeing it there. We no longer see it at a distance. At that time we feel that it is within our easy reach, or it is inside us.

My advice to all of you, my spiritual children, is always to see the light inside you. That light will always see what has to be seen. If you are worrying, do not worry. If you are thinking that the past is discouraging, do not think of the past. At every moment we have to illumine ourselves and also forgive ourselves. God will forgive us, true. God does forgive us, but we do not forgive ourselves. We think about the past: "I did this wrong thing, I did that wrong thing." If we pray to God, God will forgive us. But we do not forget what we have done wrong — no! And sometimes it happens that even when God has definitely forgiven us, we think that God has not forgiven us.

If we cannot forgive ourselves, if we always think of what we have done wrong, then when God forgives us, His Forgiveness itself does not last. God's Forgiveness is there for us, and God knows that He has forgiven us. But we always think, "O my God, how can He forget what I did? How can He forgive me? How can He forgive me for this?"

Forget about the past! True, many good things also happened in the past, but while you are trying to bring forward the good things, the devouring tiger grabs you and grabs those good things as well. Let us say that when you were five or six years old, you did something very, very good, or something very good happened in your life. Right now, to try to bring those good memories forward is a waste of time, because you have so many problems at this stage. What will you do? What shall we all do? We shall increase and increase our light, and then there shall come a time when all the good things from the past we shall be able to bring forward safely.

I always say that today's problems are enough to make us unhappy. Why do we have to think of yesterday's problems, or tomorrow's problems? Do we think today's problems are not enough? For each individual, today is enough! This moment is enough for us. If we depend on God's Will, if we pray and meditate, then this moment we are safe. The next moment again we can pray and meditate and please God in His own Way through our devoted selfless service, and then again we shall be safe.

I tell you, the service that some of you are rendering to me is in no way inferior to meditation. To some extent it is even better, because while you are serving the Supreme in me, in your Master, you are fully alert. Some of you are doing electrical work. If you are not alert, you may get a shock and go to Heaven. I do not want you to go to Heaven in that way! While you are meditating, you may at times vegetate. You may look at my Transcendental Photograph, meditate for five minutes and then fall asleep. While you are working with an electrical current, can you fall asleep? In many cases, your devoted service is infinitely more effective than meditation. You are working intensely. You are not allowing any thoughts to enter your mind. Afterwards you can rest for five minutes, but while working you cannot take rest. If you stop for half an hour or an hour, you will be delaying your important work. And if your concentration is missing, you may be injured.

If you do not meditate well, even if you fall asleep, you are not losing anything; it is only that your realisation will take place perhaps two days later. But when you are working with such intensity, you are not making any mistake and you are not getting any kind of injury, so you can see how intensely you are concentrating.

Concentration is so important in life. If you concentrate, then a wrong force cannot come to you. If you concentrate, then a good thought comes. I am saying, and other spiritual Masters have also said, that devoted service is extremely important. While serving, you cannot think wrong thoughts, you cannot look around. Serious, serious tasks you are performing. If you are breaking down a wall or building something, you may meet with danger at any moment. But if you try to meditate and then you fall asleep, is there any danger? Only if you are very sincere and intense in your meditation, then you are making very fast progress.

Even if you make the fastest progress in your meditation, the road of devoted service is easier. And if you want to do something for humanity, then you have to offer service. As a seeker, you are looking towards your own realisation. But if you do selfless service, any kind of service, then you are doing it for mankind; whereas if you pray and meditate, you may be doing it only for yourself. Again, while praying and meditating, you can say, "I am offering the results of my meditation to humanity."

On the practical level, selfless service, devoted service, is so important. While you are doing physical work, at that very moment your concentration is so powerful. If anything goes wrong, the house you are working on may collapse or catch fire. But if you do not meditate sincerely or devotedly, the house remains the same; only your inner progress is delayed. Look at the difference!

I am coming back to your question. Right now do not think of the past. Many good things happened in the past, in addition to the bad things. But right now if you want to bring them to the fore, you will be in difficulty because of all the mistakes that were committed. Those bad things, try to devour; or let those bad dogs sleep. When the time comes, the good experiences will come forward like deer. We shall beckon the deer, and the deer will come to us with all the good things that we have done.

And never think of the future! Think only of today. Even in the next hour, what is going to happen, God alone knows. We cannot see the future. Some good ideas about the future may come and lift you up, but some wrong ideas can also come and devour you. This second is enough for you to become a good person. This very second you have to strive to become a good person. If you think of the next two hours, on the strength of your imagination you can do it. But in two hours so many things can happen! Accidents are taking place in the twinkling of an eye. You are going to Manhattan, and you are sure that in half an hour you will get there. Then an accident takes place, and alas, there is a traffic jam. You will see that your thinking has nothing to do with reality.

The divine approach is to say, "The reality of today, the reality of this moment, is enough for me. At this moment I am going through so many inner crises and outer obstacles. Outer obstacles and inner crises have captured this moment, so I have to disentangle them." Never think even of the good things from the past. There are millions of good things, but never think of them — no! If you have a hundred dollars of spiritual wealth, just make sure that you deposit it in the safe. By becoming a good person at this very moment, you are adding one more dollar to that amount in the safe. Always add, add, add, and never think of tomorrow.

People who think of tomorrow or the day after tomorrow or next month will not have enough faith in God. People who have abundant faith, boundless faith in God will say, "God took care of me up to this day, and again God will take care of me tomorrow. My job is to pray for God's Victory. My job is to pray for God's Protection." If we love God, He will mould us and shape us in His own Way. Your faith in God will determine your life, whether present or past or future. If you have faith in God, He will take care of this moment, He will take care of the next moment, He will take care of all the subsequent moments. Only remain good for this very moment, for this hour, for today. And when tomorrow comes, again do the same thing.

Do not think of tomorrow, what you are going to become or what tomorrow will give you. Do the needful today. Tomorrow will come automatically, and again tomorrow you will do the same thing. Then, the day after tomorrow will automatically come. Do not think of tomorrow and how you will behave tomorrow. Today if you are behaving well, that is enough for today. The same inner joy and strength that you got by becoming a good person today, you will again get tomorrow. But do not bring tomorrow into today. Tomorrow is all ready to come to you. Tomorrow is knocking, knocking, knocking at your door, only you are not ready to open the door. Your friend or enemy — tomorrow — is knocking and knocking, but you are not ready, you are not ready. When you are ready, then you will open the door. Then you will see that your friend has come.

Do not think of the past, do not think of the future; only think of the present. And the present has to be full of determination and full of faith — faith not only in God, but also in yourself. If we do not have faith in ourselves, no matter how much faith God has in us, it will not operate. If we have faith in ourselves, God gives us more and more and more faith. People always say, "I do not have faith in myself. O God, You give me faith." But God will say, "If you do not have faith in yourself, then where is your vessel? Where shall I put My Blessing? I am ready to give you My Blessing, but you do not have a vessel." To have faith in oneself is to have a container where God can pour His Light and His Bliss. If we do not have faith in ourselves, then we do not have a container. God says, "I am ready to give My Blessing, but how will you hold it? Where is the vessel?" That vessel we call receptivity. When we have receptivity, God pours His Blessings into our vessel.

No past, no future — only present, present, present! Have faith in God. Have faith in yourself. Have faith in your soul. Have faith in your Master. Then the road becomes clear. You do not have to see the destination. The destination itself is coming to you.

BLD 21. Sri Chinmoy answered this question at his home on 1 7 March 2002.

BLD 21,6. Sunil, a long-time disciple of Sri Chinmoy, left the body unexpectedly in 2002, when he was in his fifties.