Question: If you told me you could swim across the ocean, I would say, "Let me see you do it." I wouldn't accept the fact that you could until I saw you do it, and then after I saw you do it, I would say, "Well, now you can teach me."

Sri Chinmoy: All right. But if you asked me to prove my capacity to swim, you would have to let me do it in my own way. If you asked me to prove my capacity with my hands tied behind my back and my feet tied together, I don't think I would be able to prove anything to you. Or if you refused to let me get into the water, or if you closed your eyes and refused to watch my performance, I don't think I could prove anything to you.

There is a way for a spiritual Master to prove the truth of his philosophy or of his realisation, but you must allow him to do it in his own way. I would ask you to give up your doubts, your impurities, your attachments, your desires for a few months, and meditate with me sincerely, devotedly and soulfully. If you allowed me to prove myself in this way, you would very soon see and feel the truth. But if you said, "No, I don't want you to prove yourself in that way; right now I want you to show me God, Truth and Light right before my very eyes," then what could I do? I would be helpless at that time. If I brought God, Truth and Light before you, which I could do, at that time your inner eyes would be tightly shut and you would not see anything; so you would still doubt my capacity and my truth.

In the outer world you need eyes to see if somebody is doing something. Similarly, in the inner world you need the third eye to see if somebody is doing something inwardly. One has to use one's inner vision to see the authenticity of the spiritual Master. The outer eyes, which serve the mind, are of no use for seeing inner things, if you want to prove the authenticity of a spiritual Master, meditate and go deep within, make your mind quiet and try to enter into the universal Consciousness. Only then will you see whether the spiritual man is telling the truth or not, only then do you become a competent judge.

But you cannot expect to become a qualified judge overnight. If you want to learn to be an electrician, you place yourself in the hands of a qualified electrician for a year or two and follow his instructions carefully. At the end of that time, if he has not taught you well, you can say, "You were not qualified," or "You did not know what you were doing." God-realisation is an infinitely more difficult subject. If a spiritual man says, "I can lead you to God," you have to follow his instructions to the letter for at least a year or two even to get preliminary experiences that will show you that you are on the right track. If you doubt him from the very beginning, you are not giving either yourself or him a chance. If your Master says, "I have seen the Light and I will take you to the Light," you have to give him an opportunity to take you to the Light. You have to be patient and you have to give him complete obedience. I use the word "surrender", but complete obedience is necessary to make even a beginning. For that, one has to reject the doubting mind totally. With tremendous self-discipline you have to force yourself to stop doubting, even if you must tell yourself that it is only for a temporary period. Say, "I will stop doubting for two years and give this man a chance to show me the Light." But if you doubt his teachings while trying to learn from him, you are simply destroying your opportunities.

If you want to see something in the outer world, you have to go to the place where it is being shown. In the inner world it is also like that. When a spiritual person says that he is doing this or that, you have to go to his level, to his plane, in order to see it. Everything has to be seen or felt or judged in its own world. I am no judge of science because I have never entered into that world; I am not competent to judge it on its own level. Physical truth has to be seen in the physical world, and spiritual truth has to be seen in the spiritual world.

Westerners have a special problem with this developed mind. It is really a disadvantage in the spiritual life to have a highly developed intellectual mind. But if you transform it and transmute it, it can become a very useful instrument. I wish to tell you a traditional Indian story on this subject.

A seeker who had studied thousands and thousands of spiritual books went to a Master and said, "Master, I have studied all that the books can teach, and now I wish to learn from you."

The Master said, "You are not fit to be my student."

The seeker asked, "How is it that I am not fit to be your student? Here you have all kinds of ignorant people as your students, while I have studied many books and all the scriptures."

The Master replied, "Because what you have learned, you now have to unlearn, whereas they have not to unlearn anything. You have a giant burden on your shoulders. Unless you unburden yourself, you will not learn anything from me. But these innocent students of mine are not burdened with book information; they are fresh."

Then the Master asked the seeker to bring him an almanac and open it to a particular page. "Here it is written that at this particular hour it will rain heavily. Now squeeze the paper. Is it raining here? Squeeze the whole book. Is it raining? You have squeezed the book as hard as you can, but no rain. Book knowledge is theoretical knowledge. Experience alone is practical knowledge. Just unlearn all that you have learned for so many years, and then you will be fit to be my student."

Indian Masters are sometimes very, very strict, or perhaps we should say very rude, to their students when they come with intellectual questions. Sometimes they snub their students mercilessly. They want to show their students that unnecessary intellectualisation will only hinder their spiritual development.