Question: Is not patriotism restrictive even at its highest level?

Sri Chinmoy: If the patriotism is based upon the physical consciousness or the vital consciousness or the mental consciousness, then it restricts, because that patriotism does not want to go beyond the boundary of the physical, the vital or the mind. But if the patriotism comes from the soul's oneness with the universe or from the feeling that the soul is a divine instrument, a perfect instrument of the Supreme and for the Supreme on earth, then it will not restrict. Then the physical in us, the vital in us, the mind in us will want to become part and parcel of the soul's light and the soul's acceptance of light here on earth. That kind of patriotism is not a hindrance at all. It is a real benefit.

Some people have tremendous feeling for their country, but it is all on the physical level or on the vital level or on the mental level; it is not on the psychic level. In the psychic there is always oneness, constant oneness, and it is the nature of oneness to expand, if I love my country, I have become one with my country. Then, if I feel the inner urge to expand my oneness, to embrace other countries, I will find no inner restriction in my patriotism. But if I keep my love and oneness only for my country, naturally I will be restricted. This kind of patriotism will not allow me to go to the Highest, the Absolute, the Universal.

We have to know that oneness is not enough. From oneness we have to grow into vastness, I can have oneness with one finger, but I want to have oneness with all my fingers. If I love my eyes, I can establish oneness only with my eyes. But my poor nose, my poor ears — what will they do? I have to establish my oneness with them too. The moment I establish oneness with everything within me and around me, I enter into universality. There God is omnipresent. While I am for all, I am also in all. At that time I am in God, I am with God and I am for God. The real reality in me is the omnipresence of God — inside me, inside you, inside everything. If I consider the omnipresence of God as the only reality, then patriotism is a true blessing.

So our patriotism has to be based in our psychic consciousness. If it is in our psychic consciousness, it is constantly expanding its oneness and entering into the Infinite. This kind of patriotism will never limit our God-realisation. On the contrary, it will teach us the process of growing from the one to the many. As I expand my consciousness, gradually, gradually the whole world becomes mine. If we accept our country for the fulfilment of the real reality in us, and not for the pleasure of our physical or the fulfilment of our vital or mind, then patriotism is a gift, a real gift, the highest gift from Above which will illumine and liberate the human in us.

Otherwise, patriotism can become a curse. When it becomes narrow-minded, then I am only for my village or my country, and against yours. Narrowness comes when patriotism is in the physical, the vital or the mind, which are limited. But in the psychic, in the soul, there is no boundary. The soul's feelings are based on oneness inside vastness. That kind of patriotism is all God-embodiment, God-revelation and God-perfection on earth. This is what God wants from patriotism.