On India and the West

India wants to be. The West wants to do. Is it not at once safe and advisable to be first, and then to offer one's contribution to the wide world? /"Atmanam viddhi/ — Know thyself," says the Upanishad. "First know thyself, and then do thou proclaim thyself."

Prayer is one road and meditation is another road. In the East, in India, meditation is part and parcel of people's living existence, whereas prayer is part and parcel of people's living existence in the West. When we pray, we talk to God; and when we meditate, we listen to God.

Prayer and meditation can easily go side by side. In the West we hear more about prayer. In the East, especially in India, we hear more about meditation. Prayer and meditation should go together because they lead us to the same destination. Yet they each have distinct qualities and capacities.

When we pray soulfully, we feel that something within us — let us call it an inner cry — is climbing high, higher, highest until it reaches the Feet of our Beloved Father Supreme. We also feel that our Heavenly Father, our Eternal Father, is listening to our prayer or is waiting for our cry to reach Him.

When we meditate, we feel that Something or Someone is coming down to us from Above, from the highest plane of consciousness. The Absolute Lord is descending in order to bless us and tell us what to do.

God is at once our Divine Father and our Divine Mother. In the West, God the Father is prominent, while in the East, in India especially, God the Mother comes first. Both East and West are perfectly right. When we realise God the Father, we are bound to see God the Mother within Him. When we realise God the Mother, we will unmistakably see God the Father within Her.

When we approach God the Father, we feel His Wisdom, His inner Light, His Vastness. When we approach God the Mother, we feel Her infinite Love, infinite Compassion, infinite Concern. It is not that God the Father does not have Compassion. He also has it. But God expresses Love, Compassion and Concern through the feminine form more than through the masculine form. In the masculine form He offers Wisdom, Light, Vastness.

In the West, we know that Christ, the Son of God, said, "I and my Father are one." In India, our Vedic seers said, /"Aham Brahmasmi/ — I am the Brahman." On the strength of their highest realisation, they became the Truth itself. When Christ or the spiritual Masters say that they are God, they say it on the strength of their inseparable oneness with Him.

Matter is the pride of Europe. Spirit is the pride of India. Neither of the two can possess a complete satisfaction, for the former is in the dark about the potentialities of the Spirit, and the latter about the cogency of Matter. There can be no abiding happiness until Matter and Spirit are amalgamated into one Reality.

It has been delightfully claimed that: "Love in France is a comedy; in England a tragedy; in Italy an opera seria; and in Germany a melodrama." In the true Indian tradition love has always been a self-offering and a self-fulfilment.

Sri Chinmoy, India, my India. Mother India's summit-prides.First published by Agni Press in 1997.

This is the 1176th book that Sri Chinmoy has written since he came to the West, in 1964.

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by Sri Chinmoy
From the book India, my India. Mother India's summit-prides, made available to share under a Creative Commons license

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