Question: Do you feel that the chief obstacle to spiritual illumination is the mind and its operation?

Sri Chinmoy: The mind is one of the main obstacles, but the unaspiring physical consciousness — the physical which is fast asleep — and the impure, aggressive vital are also serious obstacles. The soul is the eldest brother in the family, and the heart is next. The body, the vital and the mind are the younger brothers and they are quite unruly. But a day will come when the soul will be able to exercise its authority over these unruly children. When it says, "I am telling you that you have done something wrong; you have to listen to me," they will listen to the dictates of the soul and they will see that the soul is right.

The superior of the body is the vital. The superior of the vital is the mind. The mind's superior is the heart. The heart's superior is the soul. The soul also has a superior: God. The soul listens to God all the time. The heart very often listens to the dictates of the soul — very often but not always. The mind practically never listens to the heart, the vital does not listen to the mind and the body does not listen to the vital. But the serious problem starts for us in the mind.

The mind is a great obstacle because the mind does not see the Truth-light as it has to be seen. On the strength of its identification, the heart sees the Truth as the Truth is, as the Truth wants to reveal itself. But the mind does not do this. The mind wants to see the Truth in its own way and then it starts doubting its own assessment. If you use the heart, immediately you see the entire universe — Infinity itself — within you. But if you use the mind, you see anything vast as outside yourself. If you think of the infinite with your mind, it is no longer infinite; it is all limited. Beyond a certain point, the mind's conceptions do not extend. If you use the mind, immediately you will see that you are here and everything else is around you, before you, behind you, above you or below you. But if you use the heart, immediately, like a magnet, you will see that you have caught the Vast and it is all inside you.

There are many types of mind. Here on earth we are using the physical mind and the intellectual mind, which are very limited. The illumined mind is the mind that is illumined by the light of the soul with the help of the heart. This mind is vast, and it is not an obstacle to the soul's operation. This mind is conscious of the soul's capacity, the soul's reality and the soul's mission, and it will gladly help the soul. But the mind that most people on earth are using now is very obscure, unlit and limited. The sophisticated intellectual mind thinks it knows everything without actually knowing anything. But the illumined mind, which is illumined by the light of the soul, has received the knowledge of the soul. That mind is a great help to us.