Question: How can I tell if I really want God? And how do I know whether I am hearing God's Voice or the voice of the devil?

Sri Chinmoy: If you accept the spiritual life out of sincerity and not out of curiosity, then you will be able to know if you really want God. But again, God is not realised overnight; you have to know that it takes time. You have to act like a real spiritual farmer and cultivate your inner soil every day. Then the time comes when you reap the fruits of your prayer, concentration and meditation. Please concentrate on your heart. If you discover that you want God because of your real, desperate need for Him, if you sincerely want God and nothing else, then God will come to you.

Spiritual seekers have to realise that if they want millions of things besides God, then God is not going to come to them. But if they have a real inner cry, if they are truly sincere in their spiritual life, then God's Voice or their own soul's voice will come to them from within. This voice can never come from the devil; for a real, sincere seeker there are no devils. For someone who accepts the spiritual life out of curiosity or a desire for occult powers, there will be all kinds of temptations to stand in his way. He will be misled and misguided. But if a seeker really wants God, then God Himself will protect him from temptations and from wrong forces. If God does not immediately show a seeker the Light, it is because God needs cheerfulness.

When some disciples look at me with sad faces, I tell them, "Please, please, don't be depressed. Smile at me, smile at me." Then they smile at me but I know it is an absolutely false smile. But I feel, "All right, start with false happiness. Instead of showing me a face of low depression, arrogance and other undivine qualities, at least start with a false smile; then one day you will give me a sincere, soulful smile."

If you don't have sincerity, then enter into the spiritual life with curiosity. In a few months time, your curiosity will be transformed into sincerity. How will you recognise sincerity's arrival? You will recognise it very easily if you do not have preconceived ideas of how your life will take shape or form. But if you cherish preconceptions, then automatically many thoughts will come into your mind and you may adopt many foul means to fulfil them. You may even try to fulfil them by devious or hostile means. But when you are fully surrendered, you will not cherish any ideas. You will feel that you can let the Inner Pilot make all your choices for you.

We sometimes become insincere when we try to do something or accomplish something and do not know where the ideas to do these things are coming from. Since we do not know, the best thing is just to wait, wait, wait. Let the ideas come from within. But you will wait for centuries if you feel that you can get the right answer from the mind. The mind has to surrender to the heart. There is no other way.

The surrender of the mind to the heart is not the surrender of a slave to the master. Far from it! The mind has to be wise. The mind has to feel that the heart has something that it does not have, and the moment the mind gets it, it becomes the mind's own wealth. It is like a student who is very smart. He goes to the right teacher who knows the subject. After he has learned from the teacher, then he does not go to him anymore. He himself becomes a teacher. The mind should be a student and go to the heart and learn. As the heart gets illumination from the soul, so the mind also can get illumination from the soul through the heart, and then the mind can be independent.