Interviewer: Let me begin by saying the book that you wrote is a beautiful tribute for Mother Teresa. I understand that you have met her on several occasions, and in fact that you share a birthday. Can you tell me a little bit about the last time you spoke with her?
Sri Chinmoy: My last conversation with her has been recorded. She was extremely kind to me as usual. She was both a sister and a mother to me. As a sister, she inundated me with affection. As a mother, she inundated me with compassion. Her affectionate demand was, “You must pray for me, as I pray for you every day.”
Then she had something else to say: “You must come with me to China. China needs light.” Five or six times over the years she has asked me to accompany her to China. When I met with her on the 3rd of June this year and on the 17th of June at the Missionaries of Charity in the Bronx, she said the same thing: “You must come with me to China. China needs light. China needs light.” So I promised her, “Yes, Mother, when the time comes, when you go to China, I shall definitely accompany you.”
Interviewer: Obviously that trip never took place. Will you carry on her request to bring peace, love and compassion and her work to China?
Sri Chinmoy: I shall pray and meditate, and if I get a command from within, if it is the Will of God, then definitely I shall go. But otherwise, I am not entitled to act on her behalf. I am a man of prayer. I was very, very closely connected to Mother Teresa, but it is for Sister Nirmala, who is Mother Teresa’s successor and representative, to carry on her work. It is she who has to go to China and do the needful. I am a great admirer, a sincere admirer, of Mother Teresa. I promised her that I shall help the Missionaries of Charity according to my very limited capacity. I have students who are in the medical field, and they are able to offer the Missionaries of Charity medical supplies which have been donated by large companies. Also, in various other capacities whenever the Sisters need any help from me, I shall gladly do it.
Interviewer: What do you see for the Missionaries of Charity now that Mother Teresa has passed away? Is there anyone who is with us now in the world who can even compare with her?
Sri Chinmoy: Nobody can be compared with her. She is matchless; she is unique. But her successor, Sister Nirmala, will be receiving blessings and guidance from Above — from Mother Teresa’s soul in Heaven. Mother Teresa will be able to guide Sister Nirmala at every step. I know both of them well, so I know the daughter will always get inner guidance and special blessings from Mother, and she will be able to carry on Mother’s mission. I have implicit faith in Mother’s capacity and also I have implicit faith in Sister Nirmala’s receptivity. Nirmala cannot be compared with Mother Teresa, true, but Mother Teresa will successfully be able to fulfil her mission in and through Sister Nirmala.
Interviewer: You’ve met some very spiritual people in your life, obviously Mother Teresa being one of them. You’ve also met Pope John Paul. Can you compare the levels of spirituality in these great people and their works?
Sri Chinmoy: Each one has a special role to play on earth. They cannot be compared. Each human being is unique in his own way. Let us take the Holy Father. I have met with him on five occasions. Each time, he has blessed me most affectionately and most compassionately. To me, the Holy Father is our universal grandfather. No matter what we do, he is ready to shower his choicest compassion, protection and forgiveness upon us. In a family, children may do quite a few wrong things. Their parents may be annoyed, but their grandparents are always ready to forgive them. The Holy Father is like that; he is all compassion and forgiveness. No matter what we do, he is ready to forgive us. Through his affection and compassion, he tries to improve our lives. Not through justice-power but through forgiveness-power he wants to make us good citizens of the world. That is why the Holy Father is so unique.
Interviewer: As I look around the rest of the world, I see more spirituality in other countries, especially in third world countries, than in America. I think there is more praying, more compassion, more of a desire to believe in something greater than physical being, whereas here in America I sense a lack of spirituality. What would you say to that?
Sri Chinmoy: I beg to be excused, but I cannot see eye to eye with you. You are an American, so you may say that Americans are not spiritual. But I feel that Americans are definitely spiritual. I happen to be a seeker of truth and a lover of God. I have been here in your country, America, for 33 years. During these 33 years, God has given me ample opportunity to be of service to the soul, to the heart and to the life of America. I have been to all the states, given talks at universities, answered questions and offered Peace Concerts, and I have found America to be quite receptive.
Everybody has his own way of thinking about spirituality. Some people are of the opinion that one is spiritual only if one enters into the Himalayan caves and gives up the worldly life. Again, others are of the opinion that we do not have to enter into the Himalayan caves; only we have to give up our desire-life and enter into the aspiration-life.
It is our desire-life that binds us. If we have one car, then we want to have two cars, three cars, four cars. One house is not enough; we want a second house and a third house. And each time we increase our desire-life, we bind ourselves tighter. But when we enter into the aspiration-life, we pray to God to give us peace of mind, light and bliss. Rather than try to exercise our supremacy over others, as we do in the desire-life, in the aspiration-life we try to become one, inseparably one, with the rest of the world. It is our oneness with others that gives us peace of mind and real satisfaction. And to achieve this we do not have to enter into the Himalayan caves or lead an isolated life. On the contrary, first we have to accept life as such and then we have to transform it. We have to transform our mind; we have to transform our life. We have to look forward or upward or dive deep within to bring to the fore our inner light. Only then — only when we see, feel and grow into our inner light — can we become perfect citizens of the world. For this, America is an excellent place, just like any other country is, for an individual to practise spirituality.
Interviewer: Well said! Absolutely! Thank you very much. That was beautiful.