Question: In connection with your meditation, do you follow any dietary rules? For example, is it necessary to be a vegetarian in order to follow the spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: The vegetarian diet plays a most important role in the spiritual life. Purity is of paramount importance for an aspirant. This purity we must establish in the physical, the vital and the mental. When we eat meat and fish, the aggressive, animal consciousness enters into us. Our nerves become agitated; they become restless and aggressive, and this can interfere with our meditation. But the mild qualities of fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, help us to establish, in our inner life as well as in our outer life, the qualities of sweetness, softness, simplicity and purity. So, if we are vegetarians, it helps our inner being to strengthen its own existence. Inwardly, we are praying and meditating; outwardly, the food we are taking from Mother Earth is helping us too, giving us not only energy but also aspiration.

There are some parts of the world where it is exceptionally cold and people living there find it impossible to live on vegetables alone. What can they do? They must eat meat. Or there are some sincere seekers whose physical constitutions are very weak. From the beginning of their lives, they have been eating meat, and now they have formed such a habit — such a bad habit, you can say — that without meat they cannot manage even for a day. On the one hand, they have sincere aspiration, but on the other hand, their bodies revolt. In such rare cases, these aspirants should also eat meat.

Many spiritual seekers have come to the conclusion that a vegetarian is in a position to make quick progress in the spiritual life. But along with a vegetarian diet, one must pray and meditate. Millions of people on earth are vegetarians, but there are not millions of God-realised souls on earth by any means. In India, widows are forbidden to eat meat. Now, in spite of my deepest love and respect for Indian widows, I am afraid that they are not all God-realised souls. For God-realisation one needs aspiration, inner cry. If one has aspiration, the vegetarian diet furthers one's progress, since the body's purity helps one's inner aspiration to become more intense and more soulful. But again, if one is not a vegetarian, that does not mean he will not realise God. Far from it. Christ, Vivekananda and many other spiritual Masters ate meat, and they realised God.