Question: Many years ago, when people got certain diseases they would have died quite quickly. But medical science has developed medicines that allow people who have these diseases now to stay alive, although they are usually unable to function normally and have to remain in a hospital bed. If a person's life is prolonged by medicines in spite of the agony of the body, when it would have been given up at an earlier period of history, is there any spiritual benefit from it?

Sri Chinmoy: From the spiritual point of view it is not a matter of how many years you stay on earth, but of how you utilise your time. Every second, every moment has to be considered of paramount importance. You can go to India and to other parts of the world and find people who have been enjoying sound health for, say, two hundred years. They are two hundred years old but have no aspiration at all. Last year when I went to India I saw a man who was, according to some people, three hundred years old, and according to others only two hundred. But when I entered into him I saw that he had no aspiration. Now, in the spiritual world, people who do not aspire are dead soldiers. Whether they stay on earth or leave is of no importance in the Eyes of God. This old man was just wasting his time on earth.

But if you are aspiring and in spite of your aspiration you are caught by ignorance-forces and have contracted some disease, if the medical science can be of help to you by prolonging your stay on earth, and at the same time if you can continue to invoke Light from Above in order to continue your spiritual march, that is a great opportunity for you. If one is aspiring and making progress in the spiritual life, then if that person can stay even one second more on earth, it is a great blessing for him and also a great Joy for God. But if one is not aspiring, only wallowing in the pleasures of ignorance, and medical science enables that person to stay on earth for a number of years, then in God's Eye it is of no value. Only he who makes inner progress is of importance to God. If one stays on earth for two hundred or three hundred years, only killing time and not inspiring anybody else on earth, then he is a disgrace to God's cosmic evolution. But if a person is aspiring and hostile forces have attacked him, or if nature's law is causing him to suffer, and he has tremendous eagerness to do the right thing and to become the right thing, to please God and to fulfil mankind, then in his life on earth every second is of greatest value, not only for himself but also for God, and for humanity's life.

We have to know if the individual is aspiring or not. If he is a seeker, every second on earth is of paramount importance in God's Eye. If he is not, then he is a failure in God's Eye and he is a disgrace to aspiring humanity. If a person feels that just to stay on earth is enough for him, God may say, "All right. If that is your goal, you stay." But if somebody has a higher goal, if he has a real goal, God will give him the opportunity in every possible way to stay on earth and reach his goal. Otherwise, he has to come back again. Human life is like a constant battle. If you have been fighting for a long time and if you become too tired to continue, naturally you will go and take rest, and then enter into the battlefield again later. But if you do not become tired and if you do not have to go and take rest, then you will continue to fight against ignorance, against imperfection, for a long, long time, and perhaps you will win the battle once and for all. And once you conquer the undivine forces which are constantly attacking you, once you are successful, at that time you manifest God, the inner Divinity within you.