The quintessence of patriotism1

[Lt.-Cmdr. Albert Marcantonio welcomed Sri Chinmoy.]

Sri Chinmoy: Dear Albert, I wish to offer you my blessingful gratitude for having given me the opportunity to be of service to the aspiring souls here at Willow Grove.

Dear Captain and Mrs. McDonell and Chaplain Roberts, I wish to offer my Indian salute to the Supreme in you for having given me the opportunity to be of service here. [Sri Chinmoy folds his hands before his forehead and bows.]

Dear Captain McDonell, unlike most human beings, you are a most intimate friend of the sea and the sky. Your loving heart, your aspiring heart, your God-fulfilling heart is synonymous with vastness above, vastness below. The spiritual significance of water is consciousness. The sea represents consciousness. Consciousness is the link between man and God. An awakened consciousness, which you unmistakably are, is a direct and immediate link with God. The sky embodies freedom. Here on earth we see human freedom, but when we aspire, when we grow into divine reality, we come to realise that there is another type of freedom. That freedom is called divine freedom. Divine freedom is unlimited, birthless and deathless. The divine freedom which you, Captain McDonell, are is at once God's blessingful Choice and God's fruitful Voice.

I wish to give a short talk on the quintessence of patriotism. I wish to offer my prayerful talk to the memory of those patriots, hero-warriors, lovers of their country, who fought divinely and supremely in Vietnam to abide by the divine principles of their country. India's greatest spiritual figure, Lord Krishna, taught mankind that people who die for their country, who offer their lives for the principles that their country believe in, immediately go to Heaven. The great poet Byron offered to the world at large a significant message: "He who loves not his country can love nothing."

Who is a patriot? A patriot is he who loves his country dearly. A patriot is he who loves his country more than he loves his own life. A patriot is he who intuitively feels and infallibly knows that there is nothing and there can be nothing as significant as his own country. A patriot is he who honours and treasures his soul's earthbound and Heaven-descending vision. A patriot is he who fulfils devotedly and untiringly the supreme promise to God, the Absolute Supreme, which he made while he was in the realm of the soul, before entering into the earth-arena. A patriot is he who has discovered the true truth that Heaven is in no way superior to earth. Earth and Heaven are equal. At times a patriot even goes to the length of saying that earth is superior to Heaven. Heaven is great precisely because Heaven has the unparalleled capacity to smile at God-manifestation on earth. Earth is great precisely because earth has the capacity to cry for God's transcendental Height.

What is true patriotism? True patriotism is not something that declares war in order to prove its supremacy. True patriotism is not unlit, impure self-assertion. True patriotism is one's genuine love of one's country. True patriotism is loving what one already has. To be precise, true patriotism is real love for what God has already given us out of His infinite Bounty. True patriotism realises the undeniable fact that an individual patriot and his country are but pure instruments of the Absolute Supreme.

To destroy a country we need power. This power is undivine, unillumined and ill-founded. To love a country we need a great power. This great power is our pure and constant concern for our country. To serve a country devotedly and untiringly we need a greater power. This greater power is our intuitive and self-offering psychic light. To claim all nations as our very own, one and inseparable, we need the greatest power. This power is the all-illumining, all-immortalising, all-fulfilling God-Power, which is always crying and trying, trying and crying, to come to the fore from the inmost recesses of our heart.

To have a national feeling is good. To have an international feeling is better. To have a universal feeling is best. Nationalism, internationalism and universalism. Nationalism shows me what I have. What I have is true love for my country. Internationalism gives me the opportunity to place my country in the galaxy of nations. If it is the Will of God, internationalism places my country in the vanguard of nations so that my country can offer its capacity and light to help awaken the slumbering nations that still exist on earth. Universalism tells me that my country and I are nothing but unconditional instruments of God, seeking to please Him constantly, soulfully, devotedly and unconditionally in His own Way.

Many people, many patriots, have offered most significant messages to the world at large with regard to patriotism, founded upon their own inner feelings. Here I wish to quote a few words from a great patriot who eventually became a spiritual Master of the highest order — Sri Aurobindo. He said, "Patriotism is not a mere political programme. It is a religion from God." Now, what is this religion? This religion is the beauty of today's self-giving and the duty of tomorrow's God-becoming. For me to speak about American patriots is unnecessary. Nevertheless, with your kind permission, I wish to quote two sublime sayings, one from Nathan Hale, one from President Kennedy:

"I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

"My countrymen, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

One life to lose, one life to offer to one's own country. If this action is not based upon divine reality, the human in us will not dare to sacrifice its life. But the divine in us knows that this life is not a mere short span of fifty, sixty or seventy years. The divine in us knows that this life is part of the eternal Life. Here we enter into the earth-arena to play our respective roles for a few years. Then we enter into another world for a short rest. We may call it death or some other thing. Then again we enter into this world to play the role of dedicated souls and serve God in His own way. We are walking along the road of Eternity with a divine, unending, ceaseless, birthless life to manifest the divinity within us. We have to offer to our country what we have: love, sacrifice and the feeling of oneness. The moment we have offered to our country our unalloyed love and pure sacrifice and have established our inseparable oneness with the soul of our country, to our wide surprise we see that our country has already immortalised us. For our country has chosen us out of millions, billions and trillions of souls to take birth on her shores. Our country has played her role long before we thought of offering something to our country. What we offer to our country is, at best, an iota of love, whereas our country has already inundated us with boundless love. This is the love our country has already achieved and received from the Absolute Supreme.

War and peace. Darkness and light. War we invent. Peace we discover. War we invent from without. Peace we discover from within. War forgets peace. Peace forgives war. War is the end of the life human. Peace is the birth of the life divine.

A new day, a new era has dawned. Peace has dawned. Now let us try to swim in the sea of peace, peace, peace. Peace on earth, peace in Heaven, peace in God's Vision of the transcendental Beyond, peace in God's all-fulfilling Reality.

Lt. Cmdr. Marcantonio: Sri Chinmoy we thank you wholeheartedly for the seeds of spiritual awareness and enlightenment which you have planted here today.

NMC 2. This is a transcription of an address given by Sri Chinmoy at Station Chapel, Naval Air Station, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, on May 3, 1975.