Question: What does power mean in the spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: In the ordinary life, power means supremacy. If you have power, consciously or unconsciously you will try to be one step ahead of me or one inch above me. Human power tries to make you lord it over others. It does not allow you to be one with someone else.

But spiritual power, divine power, is the power of expansion, identification and oneness. With spiritual power you try to identify yourself with the rest of the world. The sufferings, the joys of all human beings will become yours for a while. When you first achieve spiritual power, it takes the form of identification. But then you will go higher and deeper to oneness. Human power tries to make you lord it over others.

Identification lasts for a short time — for an hour, a half-hour, a minute. When you see a person suffering, you will momentarily identify with his suffering. And if you see someone in a very cheerful frame of mind, you will identify yourself with his happiness for an hour or so. Then it becomes, “out of sight, out of mind”. The particular person is not in front of you any longer, so you do not know whether he is suffering or in a happy mood. But when you have established oneness, no matter where the person is, in some way or other the suffering or the joy of that person will become part and parcel of your life. When you have oneness, it is for twenty-four hours a day.

After achieving oneness, you have to reveal and manifest your oneness. One thing is to embody oneness; another is to reveal it; still another is to manifest it. The difference is this. Say that you have any kind of power, the capacity to write a poem, for example. This is also a form of power. This capacity or power you embody. When you actually write the poem you reveal the power. Anybody can see it if they come and ask you. Then, if the poem is published and people are getting benefit out of it in any way, that is called manifestation, which is a third kind of power.

In the spiritual life, power will enable you to identify and help make you one with the rest of the world. Then it will help you to reveal your capacity, and finally it will help you to manifest your capacity — all without any sense of supremacy.