Question: How can I acquire lasting inner joy?

Sri Chinmoy: By constant, unconditional self-giving. Each time we give something of ourselves unconditionally, God immediately gives us in return something of His own. If we give to humanity what we have — just a little concern, just a little love — immediately something divine will spontaneously enter into us.

Suppose you give five dollars to a human being. Naturally you expect something in return, if only a smile or a “thank you” or some recognition. Give and take is the law of life on earth. In divine giving, you have to feel that your task is to give the person five dollars because you have received an inner command from within. As soon as you have given you feel that the transaction is complete, and then your role is over. That is the divine way of giving.

Now, inside that particular person there is someone, and that someone is God. In some way God will immediately give you joy by expanding your heart, your consciousness, your aspiration. But if you expect to get something from the other person, you are the real loser. God simply says, “All right, since you want to settle your own account, I don’t want to be involved. You give him five dollars and he will give you something in return. The shopkeeper and the customer are there; it is a business deal. They don’t need Me in their business.” If you behave in this way you will never get real, abiding joy. Even if, after you do someone a favour, that person gives you back something in boundless measure, far beyond your imagination, still you will not get abiding joy. But if you just give what you feel from within, whether it is money or love or concern or anything that is yours, then a third person, God, will give you what He has. He will give you immediately His Love, His Pride, His boundless Peace, Light and Bliss.

Unfortunately, in today’s world we do not do anything unconditionally. We do not even meditate unconditionally for a minute. When we sit to meditate, we expect a little Light or a little joy. But are we beggars? We are related to the Supreme as a child is related to his father or mother. He is our Father, He is our Mother, He is everything to us. Now if He asks us inwardly to think of Him, to meditate on Him, we shall do it out of our boundless love for Him. The rest entirely depends on Him.

The moment we pray, we have to know that this capacity has come from God. The moment we meditate, we have to feel that this capacity has come directly from Him. If He has given us the capacity to pray and meditate, will He not also give us the capacity to receive His Light and Bliss? Giving is a form of capacity and receiving is also a form of capacity. He will automatically give us this capacity if we do not expect or demand anything from Him.

We make our lives miserable because of our expectations, either from relatives, from friends or from associates. Even when we expect something from ourselves, which we think we can legitimately expect, we are disappointed. Also, expectation ruins the divine nature of a selfless action. The moment we expect something from someone, we unconsciously or consciously push or pull ourselves beyond our capacity. Then we enter into terrible confusion. But if we love the reality and divinity in ourselves and in others, then the Supreme in that reality and divinity will give us much more than we expect.

No human being on earth can give us lasting joy; it is only the Supreme within us who can inundate us with lasting Peace and Bliss. No matter how many times I smile at you, no matter how popular you are with others, you will not get satisfactory joy. But if you play your role divinely, you will get gifts from the Supreme. And any gift from the Supreme’s Light is bound to give you abiding joy.

The Supreme gives either from deep within us or through another individual. He does not have to appear in front of us in a most luminous form. No, He can give us this abiding joy in many ways. He may reward us in a personal way or in an impersonal way. We have simply to play our role, and the Supreme will offer us abiding joy in His own Way. We do not know what His Way is. So let us leave it up to Him to do as He pleases with us and for us.