Question: A lot of the time I have a crisis in my life.

Sri Chinmoy: Is there any day you do not have a crisis? A mind-made crisis! [laughter]

Question: Exactly! It feels like a spiritual crisis, but then I realise it is a mental crisis. It sometimes even comes down to the fact that it is a physical crisis. How do we deal with the physical so that it does not become a spiritual problem?

Sri Chinmoy: Sometimes from a physical crisis, we get a spiritual crisis. Now I am speaking in the third person. Suppose someone has severe pain in his leg, for example. My own knee pain is so bad; it lasts for months and months. If an ordinary person had it, he would develop doubt, doubt in his prayer-life. That person would say, "I am praying and praying to God to cure my knee." Suppose God did not cure his knee at all. Then the person would say, "Either God does not care for me, or my prayer is not sincere, because we have heard that no sincere prayer ends in vain."

Now, that person's prayer may be very sincere; but if prayer is really sincere, then it must end in surrender. Sincerely he is praying, praying, praying to God to cure his knee. But if his prayer goes to the extreme — if he offers the ultimate prayer — it becomes surrender. At that time the seeker will say, "If that is what God wants, if He wants me to suffer from my knee pain, then let me suffer."

Before that point, we may doubt God's Compassion for us, or we may doubt the sincerity of our prayers. This is how a crisis starts with the physical. From the gross physical, a spiritual problem has started: loss of faith in oneself, in the Master, in God. It can start in the physical.

Then again, when there is a spiritual problem, it can manifest down to the physical. The number one spiritual problem is impurity. All spiritual problems have a root. At the root of the hostile forces is impurity.

Impurity takes different forms, different shapes. Impurity can be in the vital, the physical or the mind. Again, impurity from the mind, vital or body can enter into the heart. Even the heart can be made impure, but not the soul. No matter how impure I am in the physical, vital, mind or heart, that impurity is never going to touch the soul. The soul is beyond impurity, but even the heart can be impure.

I have some disciples whose hearts for years and years were extremely, extremely pure. 'Extremely' is the right word. But over the years their mental impurity, vital impurity and physical impurity became so powerful that they blighted the purity of the heart. When I look at those disciples who now have impurity in abundant measure in their hearts, I ask myself what happened. From the mind, vital and physical, impurity entered into the heart.

To start with, we were talking about the spiritual. I said that from a physical problem, one doubt can come and ruin everything. From the mind, the vital and even the heart, when impurity enters — depression, frustration, jealousy, insecurity — everything can be ruined. The root of the problem is impurity, but at one point it manifests in a particular way and we call it insecurity, jealousy or some other undivine quality.

The Ganges flows here and there. At different places it has different names. Again, a train goes from here to there. Each station has a different name, but it is the same train, part of the same line. My father was head of the Assam Bengal Railway. From one point to another, there may be a few hundred stations. It is the same train, only here the station has one name, there it has another name, and at a third place it has a third name. But it starts from one source, and the source of that particular train line has only one name. When our impurity comes to one point, it is called jealousy; at another point it is called frustration; somewhere else it is self-doubt, or rivalry, or ego. The train goes to all the stations, and each one has a different name.

What happens? Every day people who take care of the line check it so that the train is not delayed. In exactly the same way, we have good beings inside us who try to protect us. Each of us has guardian angels or some inner beings who protect us, or try to protect us. Like the people who check the train line, they try to enter into the mind, the vital or the physical when there are wrong forces in these parts of the being. The guardian angels or inner beings try to illumine us and protect us. Every day they check, like the people who are supposed to check the train line.

One day, if they are not careful, on the way a serious calamity may take place. All of a sudden, the vital revolts because of frustration. The seeker says to himself, "For so many days I have been struggling, for so many months, and I am not making any progress." When the vital revolts, what suffers the most? The physical. When the mind revolts, the vital suffers the most, and other parts of the being also suffer. If one part revolts, if the mind revolts, the other parts will suffer, and the heart suffers, too. The soul can remain far beyond suffering. If it wants to suffer, it can; but usually it says, "No, I do not want to suffer. I will only throw light into the vital and into the mind."

We have a mental crisis, and then we get a physical ailment. If the ailment does not go away after some time, we start to doubt our prayers or we doubt God's Compassion. When the spiritual crisis starts, whether from impurity, jealousy or insecurity, if we do not take care of it, if we do not cure it, then revolt comes. Revolt means that we leave the path, we give up spirituality. If we do not cure ourselves of those wrong forces in the mind, then what do we do? We may leave the path, we may speak ill of the Master, we may speak ill of spirituality itself. This is how the crisis starts. Everything in us revolts. We say to ourselves, "I do not want it any more, I do not want it any more. I tried and tried for years. I was on the path for twenty-five years. If there were anything there, would I not have received it by this time? There is nothing; it is all a joke."

Is it clear? From a physical crisis it becomes a spiritual crisis, or from a spiritual crisis it can become a physical crisis. Then our physical body leaves the path. This is what happens. The crisis may start in the mind. Then it goes to the physical, revolt comes, and we leave the path.

If we do not go beyond likes and dislikes, will we ever realise the Highest? I have realised the Highest. When I lived in the Ashram, raw eggs I had to deliver in a small casket to twenty of the Divine Mother's favourites. The Mother would write the names of her favourite disciples on the eggs. Perhaps I happened to be one of those. Whenever she was pleased with me, she used to give me two raw eggs. For my name, she would always write 'Chin'. Everybody's name was written on the eggs. I had to cycle here, there and everywhere to deliver them. There was cotton or something soft around the eggs, so that I would not break them. I had to go to so many places on my bicycle!

Sometimes, when I was living in the mind, I thought, "What am I doing, cycling from place to place?" Did I enjoy it? Yet, how much devoted service I performed! Like or dislike: if you do not like it, you have to do it anyway. Luckily I never dropped the eggs! I am telling you that likes and dislikes do not matter. Did I like to take eggs from here to there? I had to do it happily, and now I have the results. You should also serve in the same way.