Dr Robert Muller: U Thant often said that in his view the West was too materialistic and intellectual, and not spiritual enough, whereas the East was too spiritual and fatalistic, and not caring enough for the material and intellectual welfare of people. Do you see a synthesis developing between the two, and how would you envisage a harmonious, happy world-society?

Sri Chinmoy: I readily, immediately and unreservedly agree with our beloved Secretary-General U Thant's most illumining assessment of Eastern achievements and Western achievements, Eastern possessions and Western possessions, Eastern contributions and Western contributions, Eastern outlook towards reality and Western outlook towards reality.

The East is spiritual, the West is material. The East cries for the Transcendental Spirit, the West cries for the universal matter.

The East is in the heart and for the heart. The West is in the mind and for the mind. The East from within comes to the fore and flowers. The West from the outer existence goes deep within and flowers.

The East wants silence. The West wants sound. Silence embodies the teeming Vast eventually to proceed. Sound inspires the teeming Vast continuously to succeed.

The East sings the song of God the One. The West sings the song of God the many. The East loves unity. The West loves multiplicity.

This world of ours is beset with countless problems. The spiritual East thinks that the Beyond is the only answer. The material West thinks that the answer is to be found here on earth; it thinks that the answer is to live and enjoy, to enjoy and live.

The East believes in fate because it believes in reincarnation. The West does not believe in reincarnation; therefore, it does not believe in fate.

We can endlessly observe the differences between the East and the West. But the real question is whether or not these differences are being synthesised. At the very beginning, if we know what the heart can offer and what the mind can offer, then it will be an easy task to synthesise the two. The heart wants to see the oneness, feel the oneness and become the oneness itself. The mind wants diversity in the vital and multiplicity in the mind proper. The heart knows that there is a road that leads inward. The mind knows that there is a road that leads forward. The East wants to walk along the road that leads inward. The West wants to walk along the road that leads forward.

The synthesis between East and West starts because of their feelings of insufficiency. The East sees that if it does not accept the material life, then it will not be able to manifest what it inwardly has. The West feels that if it does not accept the spiritual life, then it will not have a solid foundation to build upon and everything it has achieved can be easily shattered.

We can clearly see that the East has already gained considerable knowledge and wisdom from the West, especially in the scientific world. Again, the West has gained considerable knowledge and wisdom from the East, especially in the spiritual world. Here we see that the heart and the mind cannot function separately and individually. If they feel the need for integral perfection in life, they have to function together. The mind without the heart will not know what the supreme Reality is. The heart without the mind will not know how the supreme Reality can be manifested here on earth. To our great joy, the East and the West are constantly complementing each other to make each other perfect, at times consciously but more often unconsciously.

The East is like the heart of a bird and the West is like the wings of a bird. The heart inspires it to fly to the highest height; the wings enable it to come down and manifest its discoveries here on earth. There are two goals: one goal is Heaven-reality and the other goal is earth-reality. When we use our aspiring heart to go upwards to the Heavenly goal, we bring the earth-reality up to the Heaven-reality. And when we use our wings to descend to the earthly goal, we bring the Heaven-reality down to the earth-reality. It is like climbing up and down a tree. We climb up a mango tree and pluck mangoes and then bring them down and distribute them. The East says, "Climb!" The West says, "Spread!" If we do not climb to where the mangoes are, then how can we distribute them? Again, unless we spread our inner wealth, the Source will not be pleased with us or fulfilled through us.

For the last quarter of a century, both the East and the West have felt the supreme necessity of receiving light from each other. To quote your own illumining ideals and fulfilling ideals: "Beyond the turmoil, the divisions and perplexities of our time, mankind is slowly but surely finding the ways, limits and new codes of behaviour which will encompass all races, nations and ideologies. It is the formulation of these new ethics which will be the great challenge for the new generation. It will concern not only men's material fate, but also their mental and spiritual lives."

There was a time when the renouncer of life felt that it was beneath his dignity to love the lover of life, and the lover of life felt that it was beneath his dignity to mix with the renouncer of life. Now the lover and the renouncer are modifying their views and becoming one. The renouncer feels that he has to love life because God the Love is inside life. At the same time, the lover of life sees that things need not be renounced; he sees that they can be transformed and perfected, for perfection can give humanity abiding satisfaction. So the East and the West, instead of rejecting one another, gladly accept each other's possibilities, capacities and realities. East and West are combining their possibilities and transforming these possibilities into divine practicabilities with the hope of bringing about an all-embracing and all-illumining satisfaction.

We will have a harmonious, happy world-society only if this synthesis continues and we can take East and West as the two arms, two eyes, two feet and two legs of the Supreme Pilot within and without. Other human divisions and distinctions — racial, cultural, linguistic and so on — are destined to disappear when the human consciousness is flooded with a higher light. This is the inevitable consequence of the Hour of God that is dawning all over the world. Diversities will remain, but they will be enriched and enhanced in fullest measure. And they will not disturb the general consciousness; on the contrary, they will harmoniously complement the whole. Humanity will be a true human family in every sense of the term and also in a sense that the human mind has yet to discover. And here I wish to say that this discovery will exceed all human expectations.

The awakened consciousness of man is evolving towards the divine existence. This is a most hopeful streak of light amidst the obscurities of the present-day world. This is a moment when human beings will not only join hands but also join minds, hearts and souls. All physical, vital and mental barriers between East and West will dissolve, and high above national standards, above even individual standards, we shall see the supreme banner of divine oneness.