Interviewer: What was your first impression of Americans?

Sri Chinmoy: The first impression that I had, I still maintain right now: that Americans are eager to learn, eager to make inner progress. Outer achievement they have. Nobody can compare with them in outer achievement. It is not that because I am in America I am flattering you. No, it is my day-to-day experience and my firm inner conviction that in terms of the outer world's achievement, America far surpasses all other countries in the world. But again, Americans feel the need for something which they do not have, and that thing is called fulfilment of the inner hunger. Their outer hunger they have fulfilled, but their inner hunger they have not yet fulfilled. When I came to America, I saw that here people need something which unfortunately they have neglected for many, many centuries. They need inner peace, inner love, inner joy, inner satisfaction. So I tried and I am still trying to be of service to them.

Interviewer: And obviously a lot of Americans have come to you and follow you. About how many followers do you have?

Sri Chinmoy: I have approximately seven hundred followers or students. Unfortunately or fortunately, I am very selective in this matter because I feel that quality and not quantity is of paramount importance. I come across thousands and thousands of people during my talks at universities and other places, but I feel that there are many people who will make better progress if they go to some other Master. I won't say that it is because those people are not sincere spiritual seekers that I am not taking them. Far from it. In my case, I have said many times that there are people who will do extremely well if they go to some other Master. Only I am not the right person for them. So, when I am not the right person for a particular seeker who has approached me, then I tell him, "You are not meant for my path." It is not that my path is superior and that is why I am being selective. No, I am being selective in the sense that I will accept only those who are meant for my path. There is no rivalry between other Masters and myself. Only the Eternal Father will ask me at the end of my journey whether I have taken the persons whom He has entrusted to me. He will not ask me whether I have taken to Him ten million or sixty million disciples. No. He will say, "I did not want you to do a job that I did not give to you. I gave you the opportunity or responsibility only for so-and-so. Why did you bring others whom I did not ask to be brought by you?"

Interviewer: You said there is no rivalry. In the last twenty years many people have come from India to the United States to be of service. And I must say, to my eyes, some of them are very wise people and some of them would seem to come from Hollywood, not India. I am thinking of one who is currently making big shows and obviously taking in a lot of money from followers. Doesn't this disturb you? If one Master becomes a figure who is either laughed at or considered insincere, then that would in some way make people think that everybody who comes from India is that way.

Sri Chinmoy: You are absolutely right. The sincere ones do suffer quite often when insincere ones make a display of their so-called spiritual genius. But in these cases, we are helpless. Only we have the feeling that the real, sincere seekers who are being exploited today will not be exploited forever. I may be a fool for a day or for a few months, but I won't remain a fool all my life. So this is our only hope.

There have been some spiritual Masters who have exploited our Indian spirituality like anything and they have considerably damaged the opportunities of the sincere ones. There are spiritual Masters who claim that they will give God-realisation in the twinkling of an eye if only the seeker gives them a few thousand dollars. Now, this is absurd. If God-realisation could be achieved by virtue of money-power, then by this time all rich men would be realised. In America there would be millions of people who would be able to realise God overnight. This kind of false statement is absurd.

But when people ask me about other spiritual Masters, I always say, "I don't know that person." I only know what I have inside my room. You may ask me what I have and I will show you. But what they have I have no right to say, because I have not entered into their room. They will say, "What right have you to say this about me?" So, when people ask my opinion about other Masters, I simply say, "Please come into my room and I will show you what I have. To see what they have, you have to go into their room and look."