Question: Is not patriotism restrictive even at its highest level?

Sri Chinmoy: If patriotism is based upon the physical consciousness, the vital consciousness or the mental consciousness and does not want to go beyond these, then it is narrow-minded and restrictive. That kind of patriotism, which says I am only for my village or country and against yours, can be a real curse. But if patriotism comes from the soul's oneness with the country or from the soul's feeling of being a divine instrument of the Supreme and for the Supreme on earth, then it will not restrict us. For the physical in us, the vital in us and the mind in us want to become part and parcel of the soul's light and the soul's mission here on earth. That kind of patriotism is not a hindrance at all. It is a real benefit. It will allow us to go to the Highest, the Universal, the Absolute.

Some people have tremendous feeling for their country, but it is all on the physical, vital or mental levels, which are very limited. It is not on the psychic level. On the psychic level there is always oneness, constant oneness, and it is the nature of oneness to expand. If I love my country, it means I have become one with my country. Then, if I feel the inner urge to expand my oneness, to embrace other countries, I will find no inner restriction in my patriotism.

Limited oneness is not enough. From oneness we have to grow into vastness. I can have oneness with a particular finger, but I want to have oneness with all my fingers. The moment I establish oneness with everything within me and around me, I enter into universality. I discover that I am at once in all and for all. At that time I am in God, I am with God and I am for God. The real Reality in me is the omnipresence of God — inside me, inside you, inside everything.

So patriotism has to be based on our psychic consciousness, for then only is it constantly expanding its oneness and entering into the Infinite. This kind of patriotism will never limit us. On the contrary, it will teach us the process of growing from the one to the many. As I expand my consciousness, gradually, gradually the whole world becomes mine. So if patriotism leads to the fulfilment of the real Reality in us rather than just to the fulfilment of our physical, vital or mental consciousness, then patriotism is a real gift from Above to illumine and liberate the human in us. That kind of patriotism is all God-embodiment, God-revelation and God-perfection on earth. This is what God wants from patriotism.