Spirituality: past, present and future1Dear seekers, dear sisters and brothers, today, with greatest joy, I wish to tell you that I am offering you my last talk on spirituality for the summer. I have been away from New York for about a month and have given sixteen or seventeen talks. This will be my last talk on this trip. To each of you I wish to offer my deepest joy, love and blessingful gratitude.
Before we enter into the spiritual life, before we enter into the life of aspiration, there are only three persons in our life: You, He and I. “You” means the world, humanity at large; “He” means God; “I” means myself. We spend all our time thinking about the world or about ourselves or about God. Of course, in the ordinary life we think about ourselves most of the time — how we can become great and famous, how we can do this, how we can get that. Sometimes we also think about the world or about other people. We think that someone else is greater than we, that mankind does not appreciate us, that the world is callous or senseless or useless. We do not think of the world with love; we think of it with jealousy or anger. And very often we think more about the world than we think about ourselves. But in any case, our whole mind is occupied with thoughts, either of ourselves or of others, and poor God comes last. We use up all our time on useless thoughts and think of God once in a blue moon. Ordinary, unaspiring people find their whole life occupied either with their own desires or with feelings of jealousy, insecurity and inferiority. God comes to their minds only on rare occasions.
But once we accept the spiritual life, it is a different story. We actually create a new story. At that time, God comes first and foremost in our thoughts; then comes the world, and last come we, ourselves. First we think of God and pray to God. Then we think of humanity, love humanity and serve humanity. Then, if there is time left, we think of ourselves. First we surrender everything to God’s Will. Then we try to offer our lives to humanity. Then, if there is time left, and inclination, we think of ourselves. All the time, God comes first, then man, and last the individual “I”.
In the spiritual life, we feel that we can remain in darkness, we can remain unfed, obscure, unrecognised; but let God come to the fore, let humanity be enlightened first, we feel. This is our attitude when we first launch into the spiritual life. But when we make some progress in the spiritual life, we see that we can never separate God, man and ourselves. If I think of God, immediately I am thinking of His creation, His infinite children; and I, myself, am one of His children, because I am also a son of God. So God, humanity and I have to go together.
When we go still higher and deeper, we feel that God is the tree, mankind is the branches, and we, as individuals, are leaves. God is the Eternal Tree, but a tree without branches and leaves looks strange. We do not appreciate it. We appreciate, admire, adore and worship God because He has accepted us as part and parcel of His life, His existence. We are always grateful to God because He has chosen us as His very own.
Spirituality makes us conscious of our past, present and future. There are two types of past. One is our past life of teeming desires, impurity, insecurity, obscurity and imperfection. This past is absolutely useless. We should pay no attention to it. The past that haunts us and reminds us that we were imperfect, we were useless, we were hopeless — this past has to be forgotten completely. Also, the past that has given us limited satisfaction should not be dwelt upon, because it did not inspire us to continue marching towards our goal. Yesterday we had the inner urge to do something. We did it, and we were satisfied. But that satisfaction was not abiding or fulfilling. Yesterday we were satisfied, but today we know that we have to achieve something more, something higher, something deeper and more fulfilling.
But the past that tells us that we tried but have not yet succeeded, that we started running but still have not reached the goal, that we have begun to pray and meditate but have not yet become one with God — this past is the real past. This past is like a train. The past that gives us inspiration and encourages us to go one step forward is the good past. It has left its starting point and is now slowly, steadily travelling towards its destination.
The satisfaction of the past is not enough. We have to go ahead. We have to look forward. We have to run towards our ultimate Goal. This Goal can never be behind us in the past; it is ever before us in the future. Yesterday’s achievement was not the final achievement, today’s achievement will not be the final achievement, tomorrow’s achievement cannot be the final achievement. We are in the process of constant evolution. Today’s goal is tomorrow’s starting point, tomorrow’s goal will be the starting point for the day after tomorrow.
When we follow a spiritual path or make progress in our spiritual life, we feel that satisfaction is something that constantly can be increased, illumined, perfected and fulfilled in boundless measure. It is only in the spiritual life that we get the message of Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. These are vague terms for those who do not want to follow the spiritual life, but for us they are real realities. And where is the reality? The reality is inside our heart, inside the very depths of our heart. There we feel, we see and we grow into infinite Peace, Light and Bliss.
As a spiritual person does not pay any attention to the past, he also does not pay any attention to the future. His future is not like the future of an ordinary person who is hoping to be a king tomorrow although he is a beggar today. A spiritual person does not cherish that kind of hope. A spiritual person feels that here and now he has to realise God. Today he has to become divine, spiritual, pure and illumined. Today he must get his salvation if possible.
This salvation and illumination he will not get by hook or by crook or by exerting himself too much; he will get it by his most intense inner cry. When each morning dawns, he will have an intense cry to see God face to face.Spiritual Masters, before they became realised, were seekers like you. As each day dawned, they felt that this was their last day, their last opportunity to realise God. They felt that they would not be able to survive the day if they did not realise God. But if they did not realise God on that very day, they did not feel sad and miserable or give up the spiritual life. No. The next day they began their journey with the same intense cry from the inmost recesses of their heart. They felt that yesterday they could not fulfil their aspiration, but today, out of His infinite bounty, God had given them another opportunity.
It is by self-giving, unconditional self-offering with the deepest inner cry, that we must try to realise God each day. Only by giving ourselves devotedly and unconditionally to God can we do it. By giving yourself entirely to God, to Light, to Peace, to Delight, you become your highest Reality, which is God, and you grow into the very image of God.
A spiritual person does not want to wait for ten years or twenty years or forty years. If you wait and say that you are trying, you will never succeed. But if you say that you are doing it, you will succeed. So here and now is the answer, not the past or the future. The past has not fulfilled us, and if we depend on the future, we are only building castles in the air. We have to feel that now, today, this moment, is our greatest opportunity.
MRP 31. Sri Chinmoy Centre, Sturegatan 19, Uppsala, Sweden, 8 July 1973.↩