Question: I often find that in the spiritual life I go up and down. I always hope that I will not fall down again, but it happens constantly.

Sri Chinmoy: In the beginning everybody experiences ups and downs in their spiritual life. When a child is learning to walk, in the beginning he stumbles and falls again and again and again. But after a while he learns to walk properly, and finally to run. Eventually he can run as fast as his capacity will allow. But a small child cannot expect to run as fast as his father does, because his father has much more capacity.

You experience ups and downs. When you are up you have to feel that you are getting a glimpse of your eventual capacity. When you are down, you should simply feel that this is only a temporary incapacity. Just because you see that those who are more advanced than you in the spiritual life are running, you must not be discouraged. Once upon a time they also stumbled.

Doubt is our worst enemy. If we are weak and we have allowed doubt to enter into us and poison our inner aspiration, we have to cry from the depth of our heart to be cured. Right now the sky may be full of clouds, but a day will come when the sun will shine again with its full effulgence. When you experience low moments of fear, of doubt, of lack of aspiration, you should feel that this won't last forever. Like a child who has fallen, you must try to stand up again. Some day you will be able to walk, then run, and finally run the fastest without falling.

What is of paramount importance in such cases is to have faith in one's own sincere attempt. No matter how many times you fall, if you are more than ready and eager to stand up again, these so-called failures are no failures at all. As they say, "Failures are the pillars of success." This is absolutely true. In the beginning, everybody is bound to meet with failures.

Nobody ever received God-realisation overnight or without any difficulty. Just to acquire earthly wisdom of the highest standard, we must study and learn for many, many years. And this hard-earned wisdom may disappear after a few years if we don't practise it or continue to study. But God is eternal, infinite and immortal. Spiritual knowledge once gained can never be lost, because it is the soul's knowledge that we have achieved, and we are growing constantly into the soul's highest Light, which is also eternal, infinite and immortal. To get that kind of knowledge, to inundate our outer life with inner wisdom, takes time.

In the meantime, if we are attacked by depression, anxieties and worries, or by a sense of unworthiness, we have to feel that these are negative, destructive forces. They have to be conquered and they will be conquered. They can be conquered and they must be conquered by our aspiring soul under the proper guidance of the Master and with the infinite Compassion of the Supreme.