Question: How can we illumine leisure and pleasure?

Sri Chinmoy: Illumination means to give up what is wrong in us and to welcome whatever will help us become a better person and a more perfect instrument of our Lord Beloved Supreme. But there is a big difference between leisure and pleasure. Leisure, let us say, is rightful rest. We have worked very hard and now we need a little leisure to bring back our life-energy and dynamic capacity. Sometimes when we take badly needed rest, others may think that we are wallowing in idleness or just leading a leisurely life. But they are mistaken. After working for eight or nine hours, we do need sleep; we do need rest. The body is like a machine. If you keep it running for 24 hours a day, then very soon it will collapse. Others may criticise us, but at that time we are right in feeling the supreme necessity of leisure.

In my case, to get relaxation I read funny, funny books. And yesterday I wrote a book called I am not the author. So you can see what kind of book it was! This is relaxation. If you take relaxation from time to time, it cleanses your mind, purifies your heart and helps you to get back your energy.

But we are making a serious mistake if we confuse leisure with wallowing in the pleasure of ignorance. For spiritual people, pleasure is undivine and unforgivable. We have to exercise our freedom wisely. A life of pleasure lasts for a few fleeting seconds or a few days at most. Then mental, vital, physical and other kinds of suffering start.

Pleasure itself does not create destruction immediately, but it often leads to destruction. If spiritual people enter into the life of pleasure, we lose our physical, mental, vital and psychic capacities to such an extent that we feel it is impossible to revive our spiritual life. We do not see any brightness in the future. We see only a future that is endowed with darkness. Our mental sky becomes overcast. Everything is gone; everything is wrong. The life-tree that was supposed to grow slowly, steadily and unerringly lies completely smashed by the hurricane of self-indulgence. We feel there is no hope, so we just give up.