Question: How important is outer knowledge on our path?

Sri Chinmoy: Your goal is God-realisation. The goal is like the top of a tree. When you get there, you will see around you millions of leaves, but nobody is going to ask if you see the leaves. The God-realisation that you have achieved is more than enough.

Whoever is studying world-information should ask himself, "Does it help me in God-realisation?" Absolutely not. Sri Ramakrishna did not have world information. He wrote his name with the greatest difficulty. His wife did not even go that far. His wife could not even write "God-realisation". She used to challenge Vivekananda because he could write.

But was Ramakrishna's manifestation inferior to others' manifestation? No. When it is a matter of manifestation, his identification with the Universal Consciousness was such that he got Vivekananda, Brahmananda and others to work as his instruments. If you realise the Highest, even if you are not a mental giant, no harm. If it is God's Will to manifest your light, He will bring you instruments who will be able to manifest your light. As an individual you have two arms and one mind. But when you attain God-realisation, at that time your mission can be inundated with thousands of arms and fertile brains. You need God; God needs you, so He is bound to give you what you need.

In India there is a famous saying about a particular sweetmeat. They say that he who has tasted it feels miserable, and he who has not tasted it also feels miserable. They say it about marriage. You are miserable if you have got it and if you have not tasted it you also feel miserable. In the spiritual life some who are still unripe and who are not ready to go to the Highest, hesitate on the way. While they are constantly moving in the spiritual life, they don't have time to think of what their previous life could have given them. But the moment they stop moving ahead and making progress, their time becomes occupied by past experiences. They begin to feel that they were not given the full opportunity in their former life to make all the progress that they could have made. They say, "We have lost everything that we had in the worldly life. We could have been well-established in the material life, but we gave it all up."

But when we enter the spiritual life we are in no way the loser. We have a goal and this goal gives us everything. Although the highest outer reality is lacking, we have to know that it is spirituality alone that holds the true highest Reality. There is nothing on earth that can give us the highest Reality. Earth-realities are based on information, but spiritual realities are based on inner awakening and revelation. Knowledge or information we can easily challenge, but we will not dare to challenge the reality founded on inner experience and realisation, because light is there right in front of us. How will we deny it?

When we live in the outer life, we possess something; in the inner life, we become something. The inner life always makes us feel what we are. The outer life, on rare occasions, makes us feel that we have something. But most of the time it does not even dare to say that we have something. When we remain in the inner world, the thing that we are seeking for, we eternally are. How will you deny it? But in the outer world we will deny our own life. We will say it is not meant for us; it is for somebody else.

So let us feel that we are actually the inner life. What we wanted to be in the outer life is all outer show and pretence. We are just trying to put things on ourselves and it becomes so difficult to get rid of them. Outer life is like an onion peel; the peel never ends. The inner life is like an orange; it is all orange. We just eat.