Austerity versus wisdom1

Once I was walking in the gully at Aspiration-Ground, and I saw myself as a skeleton in a past life. I was practising such austerity at that time! I was absolutely all bones. I looked so ugly! My appearance was what you would call ugliness incarnate. I saw only my bones — I was thinner than the thinnest. I passed the austerity-examination in that incarnation.

What good does austerity do? If I want to go to God, shall I cut off my legs and say, "See how much I love You, God! See, I have cut off my legs! Without legs I am coming to You." God will say, "Why did I give you legs?"

God has given us air. Some people meditate while practising severe breath control. God will say, "Why did I give them air? Why did I create things that are not going to be used?"

In every aspect of life God says, "Be normal, be natural. Be normal and natural. Then go forward, go forward, go forward and enter into the divine life."

Not by cutting off our legs, not by practising austerity shall we go forward. Those days in the Himalayan caves belong to the past. Those austerities do not apply now.

Sri Ramakrishna said, "You have to cross the water. The boat is in the water, but the boat is not affected by the water." The boat is carrying people across the water. The boat will not sink. Do we need to go under the water in order to prove that we care so much for our destination? No! Wisdom saves us by telling us to enter into the boat.

Again, wisdom may tell us, "Recite this prayer fifty times or seventy times once a year."2 But it may happen that even that we cannot do! Then God says, "I need a special kind of yoga for these people." He is simplifying, simplifying and simplifying the course to the extreme, but we want more simplification. God is so kind to us. He has already simplified the game for us to such an extent. Even so, He says, "All right, all right, you people are not serious enough in your spiritual life, but at least do this much." Even that if we do not do, God says, "I shall have to create another course for you that is easier than the easiest!"


  1. OSO 27. 7 January 2003, Novotel Palm Cove Resort, Cairns, North Queensland, Australia

  2. OSO 27,7. Sri Chinmoy is referring to his special prayer for January 7th, which he requested his disciples to recite each year on that date as many times as their age: "My ever-increasingly Compassionate Lord Supreme, I am praying to You with my heart's silence-tears: do accept the cheerful surrender Of my mind's freedom." A Day in the Life of a Sri Chinmoy Disciple, p. 60, New York: Agni Press, 2008