Question: Could you speak a little about how a spiritual person should handle the pleasures and problems of daily life?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us deal with the problems first. You have to ask yourself whether these problems existed before you entered the spiritual life. Immediately the answer will come: yes. So how is it that now you are aware of them, and at that time you were not aware of them? You were not aware of them because you did not consciously want to conquer them. If you do not want to conquer something, then the problem is fast asleep. But now that you have entered into the spiritual life, you are challenging all your problems. So the hostile forces have taken their side and are feeding your problems.

It is like this. When you lead an ordinary, unaspiring life, the hostile forces very often leave you alone because they know you are their slave. Since you are at their feet, they cleverly say, "All right, since he is fast asleep in ignorance, let us not bother him." But the moment you get up and try to shake off your ignorance-sleep, they attack you. These forces know that ultimately they will be defeated, only they are trying to delay their defeat.

If you do not challenge them or if you try to avoid your problems, they will only attack you more vehemently. You cannot hide from your problems; you have to conquer them here and now. If you say, "I will have more strength tomorrow, so let me wait until then before I try to conquer my problems," I tell you that tomorrow will not come. Each second is a golden opportunity. If you misuse this golden opportunity, then you are only strengthening the forces of ignorance.

Now let us speak about the life of pleasure. You have to know what you have received or achieved from the life of pleasure. If you are sincere, immediately you will say, "All that I have gained from this life of pleasure is frustration." Not only that, but you have come to realise that you have no hope of coming out of this frustration unless and until you are destroyed totally. In the life of desire, you start your journey with temptation. Inside temptation you find pleasure and inside pleasure you find frustration, which always leads to destruction. What today you call pleasure, tomorrow invariably becomes destruction. Then after destruction, nothing remains.

So the life of desire, the life of pleasure, is the negative approach. The positive approach is what we call the life of aspiration. Aspiration is the inner cry that makes you feel that you have come from the Infinite, that you are in the Infinite and that you are for the Infinite. Aspiration makes you feel that you embody and shall always embody peace, light and bliss. These are your eternal treasures; only you have to bring them to the fore. Right now you have Someone called God inside you, but you are not conscious of Him. If you have aspiration, it means that you are trying consciously to be aware of God.

Each person has a friend and an enemy. If a person aspires, he feels that desire is his enemy and aspiration is his friend. If he does not aspire, he feels that desire is his friend and aspiration is his enemy. At the beginning of his journey he is familiar only with desire. Even if it is not fulfilling him, he is aware of its reality in his life, whereas aspiration is a stranger to him. So he feels that desire is his friend. But there comes a time when he realises that his true friend is aspiration. At first he may feel that the life of aspiration is not meant for him because from the very beginning he has not led a spiritual life. But I wish to say that he is making a big mistake. Aspiration is for him; realisation is for him. Only he has to accept them as his own, very own.

Before you accepted the spiritual life, you thought that the life of ignorance, the life of pleasure, was the right life. You looked around and saw that everybody was enjoying it. So you said, "If my friends, my neighbours and everybody else are all in the same boat, then I do not want to be an exception." But now you have received an inner call, a higher call. The time has come for you to follow something else, to do something else. So now you are diving into the sea of aspiration to bring forward your real inner treasure.