Question: What are the advantages of surrendering to the personal Master as opposed to surrendering to the impersonal, to the Spirit itself?

Sri Chinmoy: To be very frank with you, there is only one real Master both in Heaven and on earth, and that Master is God Himself. Here I am called a spiritual Master, but I wish to say that I am not a Master. What I am is only an elder brother to a small spiritual family. Because I have prayed and meditated, or because the Supreme, out of His infinite Bounty, has given me a little more Light than the other members of my spiritual family, I try to help them reach the highest Goal.

If the disciple sees or feels Light, abundant Light, in his Master, then he can claim it as his very own on the strength of his oneness with his Master. At that time, the disciple has to feel that this Light is something which he himself already had, and which the Master is only bringing to the fore. It was his own possession, his own treasure; but he misplaced it, and it was covered over with ignorance. Now the Master, with his boundless Light and concern, has entered into the disciple's ignorance and kindled there the flame of aspiration, bringing Light into his entire being.

The Master, in both his personal and impersonal aspect, is one reality. What actually happens is this. When a disciple comes to the human Master, he sees Peace, Light and Bliss according to his own capacity or receptivity. The higher and the deeper he goes, the more he feels that the Peace, Light and Bliss that he wants, he can get from the Master. He feels that his Master is a direct channel from the Highest; his Master represents, for him, God on earth.

When we stand in front of the sea, it looks quite vast. The length and breadth of the sea is beyond our ability to grasp as a whole. So what we do is touch with our hands or our feet just a little water. The moment we touch the water, the consciousness of the water enters into our being. Then we feel the capacity and the quality of the boundless sea. Similarly, when the disciple stands in front of his own Master and sees or feels the Master's Light, this represents the highest Truth for him. So, if a seeker sees his Master as infinite, as perfect, then he can make faster progress than otherwise, because he has an ideal before him. The Light that he sees in the Master offers him a glimpse of the Highest, the Infinite. At that time, the distinction between the personal Master and the impersonal Master, between personality and impersonality, disappears for him. He does not see the Master as a human being with a human body. He does not see the Master's physical as such. What he sees goes far, far beyond the Master's personal form; it cannot be grasped by the physical mind. He sees the Master as a part of the infinite Light or Truth for which he has been searching for millennia.

For a particular seeker, there is only one Master. That Master may or may not be in the physical; but he is not the physical as such. He is in Eternity's transcendental Spirit, infinite Peace, infinite Light and infinite Bliss. A Master of the highest order can and must embody this Peace, Light and Bliss. If we say that any human being, although he is a Master with millions and billions of disciples, is God, then it will be a mistake. God is within us, in each individual. But the real Master, the absolutely highest and the most perfect Master, is both on earth and in Heaven. He is not the physical form, but He is inside the physical.

If the student has faith in the Master, implicit faith, naturally the student makes faster progress. Whether we call that person the Master or not is of secondary importance, but we have to have faith in him. In the spiritual life, faith is of paramount importance and eventually we have to know that if we have faith only in the Master, it will not serve our purpose. We must have faith in ourselves as well. If we do not have faith in ourselves along with faith in the Master, then we cannot go far. But if we also have faith in ourselves, we can say we are God's chosen children and that infinite Peace, Light and Bliss are our birthright. If we can say this, then our journey's end can never be a far cry.