Yet life is a challenge that we must meet because life is the process by which the Atman will develop the power and the wisdom to merge with the immanent and transcending power of the Divine. Now the question is: On the one hand we cannot run away from life, but I have found now that this is true only until a certain stage. The stage comes when you have to pull out from this daily turmoil so that you can concentrate and develop or not, but at least get in contact with the inner powers of the Self. For that we need to retire in solitude and meditation so that we will not be disturbed. And my question is: Is this retirement indispensable? Is it also indispensable at this ultimate stage that you have the guidance and help of the Guru to attain that condition of complete surrender? Is it indispensable? Once you have attained that condition, then can you come back into life and serve in whatever position that the Supreme wants to put you into?
Sri Chinmoy: Well, thank you. Many, many questions in one question and if I forget any question, you will afterwards tell me.
To start with, you are absolutely right when you say that it is extremely difficult to make a surrender. Even a partial surrender, not to speak of a total surrender, on the one hand is difficult. On the other hand, it is said that without a complete surrender, you cannot realise God. Both are equally true. Now, how can we solve the first problem or make it easier? We say that it is extremely difficult to surrender to God or to the Guru. But everyone consciously or unconsciously has to surrender; God Himself is helpless in this respect. If one does not surrender to God or to the Guru, he is bound to be unfulfilled, since the entire purpose of our existence is to fulfil the Will of God. So here I wish to tell you how one can surrender.
If one has sincerely accepted a spiritual Master — I am using the word “sincerely” because it is not a matter of just saying that one has accepted a Master in order to show off: “I have the greatest spiritual Master on earth. My Master has miraculous powers, my Master has written hundreds of books, my Master knows all the inner worlds and outer worlds," — no; I have accepted the Master just because I felt in him my real existence, not because of what he has achieved or what promise he is going to make or what he is going to manifest. Some Masters are absolutely illiterate. They can’t read or write. Other Masters are thoroughly conversant with both Eastern and Western philosophies and scriptures. So whether your Master is a scholar or a fool does not matter. No. You have accepted the Master because in him, in the Master, you feel your highest existence, your highest reality. Only for that reason have you accepted him, not for what he has achieved or what He is going to give you.
If the disciple comes to the Master with the expectation that the Master will give him liberation, realisation, that is a wonderful idea. The Master will give them, He will bring them from God. But a real disciple is he who comes to the Master saying, “Master, take my life. Do anything. If you want me to be your eternal slave, I shall be one. If you want me to realise God, alright, take me. I am at your feet. My realisation is at your feet. My total surrender, my life is for you. Either use me as an eternal slave or use me as a king; for me it is the same.” But if you have the expectation, “Oh, the Master will make me a realised soul,” it is a wonderful expectation, but what happens? When the expectation is not fulfilled today or tomorrow, frustration comes, anxiety comes, worries come, fear comes and doubt comes. “I have been on the spiritual path for forty years; what is wrong with me? Still I am not getting the sense of realisation, not even a glimpse of it!” But where is your surrender? When you accept the Master, if you say, “Now I have totally given myself to you. Use me the way you want, not the way I want,” that is the correct way. But if you say, “I want to be a realised soul, I want to help humanity. I say ‘I’ referring to my highest Self and I do not care for myself, but only for humanity,” that, too, is wonderful. But again, how do you know what is best for you, to help humanity or to realise God first? God knows best. God knows the hour, God knows what He wants, in and through your life.
So you must feel that all your expectations must also be offered to God, to your Master — your expectation to be the highest person or the greatest person on earth or to be a great spiritual Master yourself. If all these expectations you can consciously surrender to the Master — good expectations, highest expectations — then it becomes very easy to make a surrender.
After you have got rid of desire, you have come into the field of aspiration. A time comes when you have to give up your aspiration also. To give up aspiration does not mean that you won’t pray or meditate. No, you will. Giving up aspiration means that the result of aspiration, which is expectation, that also you have to give up. Ramakrishna used to say, “When you have run a thorn into your foot, it is that desire has entered. Now, what do you do? You take another thorn and pick out the first one. Then you throw away both thorns. You do not keep them.” So first you have ignorance. Then you take knowledge to remove your ignorance. Then you throw them both away and you go beyond both ignorance and knowledge. In the Upanishads, it is said, “Through ignorance, we conquer death and then through knowledge, we get Immortality.” Yet a time comes when we have to go beyond both ignorance and knowledge. When you can transcend them both, at that time your absolute surrender comes.
So what I wish to tell you in this matter is that you must give what you have and what you are, if you want to fulfil the Divine in your life. Are you a beggar that you expect this and that? If God is your real father, if you have a spiritual Master, he has to do everything for you. Yesterday I told the disciples that whenever I accept a disciple, I consciously make a promise both to the disciple and to the Supreme that I will take responsibility for this person for Eternity or until he has realised God. Until then, I am responsible for him. So when I make that commitment to the Supreme, the Highest, I have to be sincere and honour it. Some people come and accept a spiritual Master; then after a few months or a few years, they leave him. Their own promise, however, is never ever over, because they have made the highest commitment to the Supreme. They haven’t only made a commitment to their own individual soul. But it seems that often, an ordinary person, when he makes a promise to the Master, just takes that promise as nothing, as drinking water. Tomorrow he leaves the Master and enters into the ordinary life.
The role of the Master is the role of a private tutor. The disciple has to offer his aspiration, his conscious desire, his outer existence, his inner existence to the Master, to the Supreme in the Master. He should say, “I do not expect anything from you, good or bad. From my Master I know I will get only good things, but my only prayer to you is that you utilise my life, you will mould my life, you will shape my life.”
You must go beyond expectation. When you go beyond expectation, at that time you will get everything in plenitude, in infinitude. There, at that point, you make your surrender very easily. Surrender becomes extremely easy when you have the feeling that the Master thinks of your life more than you do yourself, because the Master had made a commitment, not only to you, but to the Supreme to liberate you. If you are sincere in your belief that the Master’s commitment to the Supreme is absolutely binding, then your expectation, although you have long ago transcended it, is bound to be fulfilled in infinite measure. In this way, surrender becomes absolutely easy.
Now to come back to your question as to whether surrender is only one thing but the first thing is God realisation. If, after accepting a spiritual Master, one wants to go this way or that, or one wants to turn back to one’s own personality and individuality, then that is no surrender at all. You have to surrender to your Master or to the Inner Pilot or to God. These are all the same. The Master is representing God. The Inner Pilot in human form is the Master and in the Divine form, is the Supreme. So one has to surrender to one of the three in order to realise God. If one has no Master and he thinks of God, alright, he has to surrender his existence to God. But if one has a Master, he has to surrender to him, or, if he cares for the Inner Pilot in the human form, who is the Master, and in the spiritual form, the Divine and the Supreme Himself, he has to surrender to them. This is the first fundamental preliminary step, without which one can never, never realise God.
Now you said something about bypassing the mind?
A.: By “bypassing,” I meant transcending.
Sri Chinmoy: That is very good. That is true. Otherwise “bypass” is not the right word. We cannot really bypass, but we can transcend. Now the thing is that here we have to ask how, while staying on earth, we can remain above the earth? While you are mixing with people or talking to people, while you are amidst human life, how can you think of the divine life? Here I wish to tell you that the divine life has to be manifested here on earth. How? How are you going to be unaffected when you are mixing with ordinary people who are not aspiring around you? You have to remember that a boat is inside water under water but is not affected by water. We don’t say that the boat is composed of water, but while it as carrying passengers from here to there, it is on top of the water. Similarly you are amongst unaspiring, insincere people. But on the strength of your own sincere, spiritual life, you are carrying them to their destination. That is what the boat is doing, sailing in the water, but not being affected by the water. You can be in the ordinary life, amidst your friends and neighbours, but you need not be affected. Why? Because you have your inner urge to realise the Highest, to fulfil the Highest on earth. If you aspiration is sincere, your aspiration is like an arrow which pierces into the heart of others to stab their own ignorance. But if your own aspiration is very meager, not sincere, rather hesitant, then where do you go? You cannot inspire anybody, you cannot kindle the flame of aspiration in anyone. There you are lost. First of all, you cannot enter into them, then you can do nothing for them. So you have to know what wealth you already have. If you have the purest, which you have, the purest aspiration, then you can rest assured that you can mix with anybody because aspiration itself is the strength, the purest strength of God in human beings, in the aspirant. So if you have true aspiration, you can mix with anybody. Anybody, men, women, anybody, they will not be able to take away your aspiration. But if there is no aspiration, you are lost to the world, you are lost to yourself. Aspiration has a burning quality, but this fire does not burn people; it illumines people. Ordinary fire will simply turn everything to ashes. But the fire of aspiration, only illumines, illumines our lives. So when you are taking that kind of fire to the darkness, it is only illumining the darkness. The darkness is being illumined by our aspiration which is the constant inner fire. Easily you can stay amidst the world. What am I doing? It is my aspiration that gave me realisation. Now I am doubly secure, with my aspiration and realisation. Now you have the aspiration; what you need is realisation. Right now your own realisation is that you have to surrender your own existence to a spiritual Master who is totally one with the Supreme. So if your surrender to me is complete, then immediately we are one. When you are one with me, you are one with God. Then you need not be afraid of anybody. We are not afraid of ignorance.