Question: Guru, my question is, does the Supreme have a preference? If I have the approach of "I must conquer," then it is as if I must take charge. But what if I approach a particular prayer with a heart of intense supplication? Does the Supreme have a preference for a more modern approach, for a conquering attitude or a "take-charge" attitude, over an attitude of supplication?

Sri Chinmoy: All right, I have understood your question: shall I have a conquering attitude, or supplication? Now, if I take God as my Father, who is Almighty, then I shall say, "My Father is Almighty and I want to be a hero like my Father." At that time I shall say, "I must conquer this, I must conquer this." Why? If I conquer doubt, jealousy, impurity and all the other undivine forces, then I will be able to be as great as my Father. That is why I say, "I will do this, I will do this!" The Father-aspect will always encourage me to say, "I shall conquer."

But if I take the same God as a master and I take myself as a supplicant, then I will have the attitude, "Please, please give me this." The supplicant will beg for something, but the son is not going to beg. The son will say, "I must have it!" "I must conquer" means "I will do it!" That will be your attitude if you take God as your Father. But if you take yourself as a supplicant, then you will approach God begging: "Please, please, please, please, please, please!" The first aspect is that of a hero, a hero supreme: "God is the Absolute Lord and I want to become like Him. How will I become like Him unless I conquer these wrong forces that are within me or surrounding me?"

It depends on the person. If the person feels that he will succeed by touching God's Feet, begging God and kissing the dust of God's Feet, that is one way. Another way is this: "God is right beside me. I am saying that I want to become another God. How will I become another God if I do not conquer those forces?" Again, it entirely depends on the relationship that the seeker wants to establish with God.

One way is to pray and pray. Another way is to challenge the undivine forces. The soul cannot be won by the weakling. Evil forces, undivine forces can be defeated only by the strong, with the strongest power. The first approach is praying, praying, praying: "God, give me this; God, give me this; give me the strength." Again, with supplication I can surrender to God's Will. Without praying, without meditating, when I say, "I surrender to God's Will," what am I surrendering? I am surrendering only my lethargy to God — nothing else. I have become lethargy incarnate and that lethargy I am surrendering. But with personal effort, I am trying, trying, trying so hard. While trying, I have to feel that the effort that I am making is nothing short of God's Grace. God's Grace has descended upon me and I am acting, but my action itself is the Grace of the Supreme.

If we can develop heroic spirit in our life, then wrong forces will not dare to come near us. Right now, let us say, somebody has come to beat me; somebody is about to beat me black and blue. I can have two approaches. One approach is to feel that my father is in front of me and I am hiding behind him. My father is protecting me, because my father is stronger. The other approach is to feel that I am right beside my father. I know my father will protect me. If somebody is going to beat me, I am ready to beat him — tit for tat. I am ready to strike him, knowing perfectly well that my father will take my side because I am his son.

The first way is that if somebody comes to beat me, I will go and hide behind my father. Fear has attacked me, so I am standing behind my father. That approach will be the devotee's approach. The other approach is that of the mighty lion: I am beside my father. If necessity demands, if I am in trouble, my father will come to my rescue and destroy the enemy.

We can take whichever attitude we need. We have to make a choice: do we want to be a hero, or do we want to be a devotee? It is a question of which aspect we want to adopt. But if, by virtue of prayer and meditation, we can conquer something, then we shall have confidence. Otherwise, every time we are attacked, we shall have to knock at God's Door and touch God's Feet. God says, "Instead of touching My Feet all the time, why do you not acquire inner confidence by praying and praying? If somebody comes to attack you, why do you not acquire the necessary power beforehand by thinking of Me and by claiming Me as your own?"

Both aspects are needed. The prayer-aspect is needed and the surrender-aspect is needed. But the surrender-aspect has to come only after we have done something, after we have been ceaselessly trying, trying, trying. Then we can say, "I have been trying my best. Now I am surrendering to Your Will." While praying, we have to feel that the very capacity to pray ceaselessly is nothing short of God's Grace.

Our Indian way is to pray to God while reciting the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. That is absolutely one way to pray, with folded hands. Another way is to try to bring to the fore God's Omnipotence. God's Omnipotence is inside us. "Lead me from untruth to Truth, from darkness to Light, from death to Immortality" — this is one way. Again, there is another way: "Uttisthata jagrata" — "Arise, Awake!" And there is another phrase that spiritual Masters quite often say: "Na bhoy." "Na bhoy" means "Fear not, fear not! Do not fear, do not fear."

In one of Tagore's most important poems, he says, "My prayer to You is not to protect me from danger, but to give me the courage to challenge the danger." This is such an excellent poem. Tagore is saying, "Danger is there. To challenge the danger: for that I am praying to you, not to protect me from danger itself. That is my prayer." [Sri Chinmoy recites the poem in Bengali and continues his spontaneous interpretation.] "When there is a serious crisis, at that time, O God, I do not want to pray to You for protection, but I want to pray to You to give me courage. I must not be intimidated by fear itself. I must not be afraid of fear."

This is a mythological story: A devotee of Lord Shiva was attacked by someone undivine and he was invoking Lord Shiva. In Heaven, Parvati, Lord Shiva's divine consort, said to him, "This is so serious! What are you doing? Your devotee is in serious danger. He is invoking you and you are not paying any attention. Now go and save him!"

Then Lord Shiva descended to earth to save his devotee. In the meantime, this devotee, who had been praying so intensely, got courage from within and challenged the undivine fellow. When the undivine fellow saw the devotee's inner power and inner will, he just ran away.

Lord Shiva went back to Heaven and said, "Parvati, look! Before I could come to his rescue, my devotee solved his problem. He brought to the fore his own inner strength."

Parvati said, "Which approach is better for him: to pray for your assistance, or to find the courage within to solve his own problems?"

Lord Shiva said, "Which one is better? If he feels that he has something within him, why does he not use that capacity? Why does he have to invoke me again? If he does not feel that he has the strength or power within, then let him pray, pray, pray. But if he already has the capacity from within to fight against these wrong forces, then he does not have to invoke me. He can use his power. Again, if he feels that it is impossible for him to fight and conquer or destroy these forces himself, then definitely the devotee has to pray to me."

Again I am thinking of Tagore's poem. [Sri Chinmoy recites the poem in Bengali.] "My prayer to You is not to save me from danger, from the crisis. My prayer to You, O Lord, is to give me indomitable strength so that I will not be afraid of the crisis."

If we do not have inner strength, then naturally we shall have to run, run, run and pray to the Supreme, "Save me, save me, save me!" That way is definitely advisable at that time. But at every moment if we do not develop courage, then there is the risk that we will give up the spiritual life. Some people have a stupid idea about spirituality. Because they continue to be attacked by wrong forces, undivine thoughts, impure thoughts, they surrender. They say, "O my God, for years I have been praying — for thirty years, forty years. Still I am unable to conquer these forces. What is the use?" Look at their stupidity!

Just because I have not conquered the wrong forces, although I have been practising yoga for forty years, will I give up? Some people give up because they say that their weaknesses are still the same, although they have been following the spiritual life for twenty, thirty or forty years. They come to the conclusion, "It is useless, useless, useless. God does not want me to conquer these forces, or God is indifferent to my sufferings." But God is not indifferent. No, no! Everything has its own time.

Again, we have to see how much sincerity is involved when we say that we want to conquer wrong forces or impure lower vital forces. We all want to realise God overnight! We feel that God-realisation is like instant coffee, absolutely. But it is not at all like that. Everything has its own time. People think, "Oh, in one incarnation I prayed for twenty years, thirty years." But how much inner development they attained, we have no idea.

Before he realised the Absolute, Sri Aurobindo had a Guru whose name was Vishnu Bhaskar Lele. Vishnu Bhaskar Lele took seven years, a solid seven years, to establish peace in the mind, to make the mind absolutely calm, to silence the mind. To silence the mind he took seven years and then Sri Aurobindo took only three days. Look at the sincerity of this Master! He said, "I took seven years and you took three days." Now I am coming to the point. He could have given up during those seven years. He could have said, "O God, this is not meant for me. One year, two years, three years — now I am still going on and my mind is not silent." But he continued and then he did silence the mind.

There is another story that I have written about a Master and a disciple. The disciple far surpassed the Master and then the Master begged the disciple, "Now promise, promise that in my next incarnation you will be my Guru. I am ready to have you as my Guru now because you have far surpassed me. If you do not accept me now, in my next incarnation you have to be my Guru." Look at this! How much sincerity he had!

If ordinary Masters see that their disciples have gone beyond them, God knows what will happen. But this Master was so sincere. At that time the Master had tremendous occult power and the disciple did not have any occult power. The Master had occult power and he saw the capacity of the disciple. Without any occult power, the disciple went beyond, far beyond the Master, because he was able to establish his inseparable oneness with the Absolute Supreme. When the Master was longing for occult power and other power, he did get it. Then the Master felt sorry that he had done the wrong thing. He had prayed to God for occult power and all kinds of other powers and he got them. The disciple did not have those things, but the disciple developed inseparable oneness, complete oneness with God's Will. It was too late for the Master, because he was very old, so the Master said, "Please, promise, promise that you will become my Guru in my next incarnation. I want to start with this prayer: Let Thy Will be done."

There is nothing that can be superior to that prayer. But it is not enough just to say, "Let Thy Will be done." It is a joke when we only say, "Let Thy Will be done." One moment we say these words and the next moment we hanker after name, fame, material possessions and everything else. But the Master in this story was so sincere. He said, "In my next incarnation, you have to be my Guru, I really want you to be my Guru." When there is sincerity involved, one can definitely arrive at God's Door.