Sri Chinmoy: There is no conflict. A Hindu will speak about realisation, whereas a Christian believes in salvation. In Indian tradition, the ultimate goal is realisation. In the West, the ultimate achievement is salvation. Here we use the term “salvation”; in the East, especially in India, we use the term “realisation”. But we have to know that there is a great difference between salvation and realisation. Salvation is freedom from sin, from darkness, from bondage; but realisation is totally different. Realisation is self-discovery, the discovery of what we truly are. What are we? We are God’s representatives; we are inseparably one with God, inseparably one with God’s ultimate Reality. So realisation is our conscious awareness of our highest Reality or our conscious, inseparable oneness with the Highest. Salvation is freedom from something that is not our own: sin, darkness, bondage, ignorance. These things have come and attacked us and we are trying to save ourselves from them. They are enemies or strangers to us.
These are two ways to approach the reality, but they are not contradictory. We only synthesise when there are contradictory ideas. Salvation through Christ is one way. Realisation is another way. Realisation has to be achieved here on earth through prayer and meditation. Salvation is achieved in Heaven.
With regard to reincarnation, the Indian belief is that this is not our first or our last life. We believe in reincarnation because we feel that God wants us to be happy and fulfilled. Even in the desire world we have hundreds of desires. At the age of four, if we have a desire, it takes forty, fifty or even sixty years to fulfil that desire. In the aspiration world, if we want even an iota of peace, light and bliss, it take us years to achieve it. What we need is boundless peace, boundless light, boundless delight. So how can we get it in one short span of life? It is impossible. If God’s unconditional Grace descends, then naturally we will be blessed with peace, light and bliss. But in general, to get even peace of mind takes many, many years. So we feel that God-realisation, which is the ultimate achievement, is a long way off and we cannot cover the distance in one short life span.
God wants us to realise, reveal and manifest Him on earth. This is His playground. In Heaven He wants to play with us in a different way. There He doesn’t want us to realise Him or manifest Him; that is the place for us to rest. Here at every moment, we are in the battlefield of life. We are fighting against ignorance and wrong forces, and we are trying to know what we eternally, truly are, trying to bring to the fore inner realities, inner divinities. After some time, naturally we need rest. The soul’s world, Heaven, is for rest, not for constant activities. Heaven and earth are two places with two different objectives. Here is activity, there is rest. Here we enter into the hustle and bustle of life in order to realise, reveal and manifest the Highest; there we go to rest.