Question: In India they have an ancient spiritual tradition of feeding mendicants. Here, it seems to me a renunciant could easily starve. Do you agree?

Sri Chinmoy: To be a mendicant is not a crime. The mendicant is praying and, in his own way, trying to get joy from his life. He is not committing theft or doing anything undivine. So if people in ancient India were supplying him with morsels of food, they were doing absolutely the right thing.

In the west, we have the feeling: "If I make ends meet by the sweat of my brow, why should this fellow remain lethargic and wallow in the pleasures of idleness?" So here, unfortunately, non-acceptance of the outer life, or renunciation, is misunderstood. If people do not pay attention to earthly life or do not accept earthly life as such, they become objects of ruthless ridicule. Again, if someone with a wife and children all of a sudden wants to give up his responsibilities and leave his family in the lurch, then he is making a most serious type of mistake.

But what the fakirs and monks are doing in many parts of India is not wrong. If they are devoting themselves to God, if they want only to pray and meditate, then I feel they should be given the utmost opportunity to fulfil their inner life. If we are wise and spiritually evolved, then we should only feel oneness with them and say, "We have entered into earthly bondage and now we cannot get out. These people who were able to give up everything and escape from earthly bondage should be our ideals and idols."

So if we see that some people want to depend only on God to meet their outer needs, then definitely we should help them. We should feel at that time that God Himself is acting in and through us. We are not making them rich, richer, richest. No! We are only helping them meet their basic needs so that they can remain on earth and continue praying and meditating. We should feel that we are serving God in and through them and that it is our bounden duty to help them.