Question: Some people feel that India's poverty helps her open her heart to spirituality. Is there any truth to this theory?

Sri Chinmoy: In the past some Indians believed that the poorer they were, the nearer they were to God. They believed that if you are poor on the material plane, then you will be rich in spirituality. But that is absurd. Do you think that Indian street beggars are all wonderful seekers and God-lovers? Far from it! Instead of thinking of God, in most cases they are thinking of how they can get a meal or a piece of clothing. Again, if you wallow in the pleasures of the material life, as the Western world is doing, then from the spiritual point of view you are in serious trouble. If you are constantly thinking only of how you can increase your material wealth, then where is God for you? And if your mind is telling you that once you get ten million dollars, then you will not have to work and you will have plenty of time to meditate, that also is the height of stupidity. Yes, you will have the time to meditate, but you will only be meditating on your greed.

So you do not have to be the world's poorest person in order to realise God. Again, you do not have to be the world's richest person in order to realise God. But you have to be able to meet your basic needs. Otherwise, if you do not have rice and bread, if you do not have the things your body needs to live, then how can you think of God? So it is not wise to want to amass money and, at the same time, it is the height of stupidity to want to give away all your possessions and live in the street. There has to be a balance.

God does not want you to cut off your limbs to show Him how much you love Him. He does not require you to deliberately embrace a life of poverty to prove your love for Him. He wants you only to have an inner cry for Him. That alone is of supreme importance.