Question: Although I am sure that this is my path and I get intense joy in my heart from my devotion to you, sometimes I feel a strong longing for a quiet, monastic life. Where does that longing come from, and if it has a negative origin, how can I best overcome it?

Sri Chinmoy: In your case, this longing for a monastic life comes from the jealous, deceptive vital — not from the frustrated vital, no, but from the deceptive vital. Right now your heart is getting boundless joy from your devoted selfless service at the Centre because you are working very, very hard to please me. Because your heart is getting such joy, your vital is jealous and is trying to convince you that there is much more joy somewhere else. It is telling you that you must go to a cave in the Himalayas in order to meditate and realise God. This is a very ancient path. It was your path once, but it is not your path today. It is not necessary; it is not correct today.

If austerity and self-denial were the way to realisation, then you ought to cut off your arms, then your nose, and your ears and your legs. You should cut off limb after limb in order to realise God. Then we would say: "He has really achieved self-denial." It is the same with the old kind of monastic life. If you go and sit in a cave in the Himalayas, do not think that realisation will be waiting for you like a ripe fruit which you can just go and eat. No. This is not possible today.

Perhaps if someone is living a very materialistic life — like those people who say, "Eat, drink and be merry!" — and one wishes to change, then it would be good to lead a monastic life for a very brief period. But that is all. One must strike a balance. One need not build a Taj Mahal in order to meditate every day; but it is not necessary to go to a cave either. Today one should live in a small apartment or a house — very simple, but not austere.

So what you are experiencing is just your vital trying to pull you away from your chosen path because it is jealous of your heart's progress. Everywhere we see this. The father is jealous of the son's progress. First the father teaches the son. But after some years the son goes to a university and gets a degree. Then he can teach even his father. So you must change your teacher. Up until now, you have been a very devoted student of your mind and vital, and now they are jealous of your heart's joy. You must tell them to become one with the heart or else you will have no need for them. You have to use everything in a divine way. Instead of using your legs to kick somebody, walk five miles to do that person a service. Instead of slapping someone, caress him, and so on. Force the other parts of your being to become one with your heart and enter into its boundless joy at having accepted our path.