AUM — Vol. 2, No. 6, 27 January 1967



Man is Infinity's Heart.

Man is Eternity's Breath.

Man is Immortality's Life.


Questions and answers on the soul Part I1

Recorded by Mrs. Barbara Callen, New York City. These questions were presented in writing to Sri Chinmoy by Mrs. Barbara Callen. A few days later, on 4 January 1967, the Guru answered them orally during an interview with her. Mrs. Callen recorded Sri Chinmoy's exact words, taking everything down in shorthand. With some minor revisions, we are printing the interview as it was recorded.

Question: Is the soul always with the person during his lifetime, or can it leave him temporarily, even making its home elsewhere?

Sri Chinmoy: As a rule, the soul always remains with the person during his lifetime, but it can leave the body for a few minutes, or a few hours at most, while the person is asleep. It can also leave the body for a short period while the aspirant is in a deep state of meditation. Then one can see one's own body. One may see it as a dead body or a dynamic body or as a shaft of light facing one's soul, or in many other ways. Of course, at that time, one sees the body with the eye of one's own soul. To come back to the question, the soul must remain with the person during his lifetime.

Question: During sleep, does the person's soul make journeys?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. The soul makes journeys to different levels of consciousness. There are seven higher worlds and seven lower worlds. Generally the soul travels in these worlds during sleep. Almost everyone's soul is fortunate enough to have access to some of these worlds, but very few are conscious of these experiences while they are happening, or remember them after they awake.

Question: Can a person's body and consciousness so change during his lifetime that he becomes fit for a finer soul to enter him?

Sri Chinmoy: A finer soul does not enter him. But if the person's body and consciousness are transformed totally, then the soul that he already possesses will be in a position to fulfil its Divine Mission here on earth most effectively, in all its supernal, detailed perfection.

Question: Does a change, such as purification, during the lifetime, change the soul?

Sri Chinmoy: It is the same soul which accepted ignorance and now, throwing away the veil of ignorance, comes closer to its own Divine plenitude and Divine Manifestation.

Question: When we think another's thoughts, we let ourselves 'tune-in' to his 'psychic' agitations. However, if we 'tune-in' to one whom we believe to be grounded in the source of his being, his soul, would this be a valid practice, at least until one's own spiritual unfolding developed?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, let us be clear about the use of the word 'psychic'. As I use it, 'psychic' is not a synonym for 'occult', but pertains to the psychic being. There is no agitation in the psychic being, which is a divine spark, to say the least. We usually let ourselves 'tune-in' to others' vital or mental agitations. Certainly it is a valid practice to 'tune-in' to an enlightened soul. That is what one should do in the beginning or until one has the capacity to unfold oneself spiritually. That is why we say that if you remain calm and quiet and allow the Divine thoughts of your spiritual Guide to enter into you, you will become flooded with Peace. This kind of 'tuning-in' is not only a valid and correct practice, but is essential for one who has placed himself under a spiritual Master.

Question: How does one know if his soul is happy?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, one has to believe that one has a soul. One has to know and feel where the soul abides, that is its location in the body. In order to know and feel the soul, one has to aspire. During his ardent aspiration, his spiritual journey, he can actually discover whether the soul is happy or not. He will feel that his soul is happy only when he sees and feels joy within and without, and also when he does not find fault with God’s creation and God’s Divine Dispensation.

Question: Are there two sets of instructions within the person, one from his deepest nature which includes and unfolds all in goodness and compassion — and the other, which is clever about 'me' and 'mine'?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. There are two sets of instructions within the person. Goodness and compassion come from the very depth of one's being, whereas, me and mine come from the surface. Me and mine cannot come from the very depths.

Question: Can the soul be equally represented in dreams either by an old woman, wrinkled and wise, as well as by a young baby babbling a new language?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. The soul can be represented in dreams by an old woman or by a young baby. In order to give a particular experience to the outer being, the soul can assume any form in dreams. One's own soul can be compared to the gradual growth of a seed into a tree. This is what we call the evolution of the soul.

Question: Is the soul both male and female?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul itself is neither male nor female. But when the soul starts its journey and takes a female body — then in all its incarnations it will take a female body. If it once takes a male body, then in all its incarnations it will take a male body. It is impossible to change the sex. In the whole history of mankind, there has been an exception here and there... but very rarely.

Question: Does the soul get new instruction in its development, or does it merely uncover what it has always known?

Sri Chinmoy: If you say 'experience' rather than 'instruction' the question would be more accurate. Only God, or the Cosmic Self, can instruct the soul. The soul is uncovering what it has always known, but while it is uncovering, it is growing and enriching itself by taking into itself the divine essence of its earthly experiences. Meanwhile, the physical consciousness is becoming more and more conscious of the soul's unlimited Divine capacity. In essence, the soul, being one with God, is uncovering what it has always known. But in the process of evolution, its "becoming" and "knowing", "knowing" and "becoming" move together and are complementary processes in the lap of the Supreme Truth.

Question: Is it the soul that must surrender to the Cosmic Self?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. The soul has to surrender to the Self — the Self which, in Indian terms, is called Param Atman, which is unmanifest. This Self does not take human incarnation, nor enter into creation; whereas the soul accepts a human body and accepts limitation, imperfection and ignorance. Each human being has an individual soul. This individual soul, which takes a human body, is not all-pervading, omniscient or omnipotent. The Self is. The soul, in its upward evolution, can some day merge into the Self and become as powerful as the Self.

Question: The individual soul limits itself in time and space by taking on a body — but the Self (Param Atman) is outside of time and space; one who has the vision of the Self sees totally the creation and the Beyond. Is this correct?

Sri Chinmoy: This is absolutely correct.

Question: Is it the soul that makes the decision in selecting a new body in each incarnation?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. It is the soul that makes the decision in selecting a body, but with the direct approval of the Supreme or the Self. The choice is made to give the soul the opportunity to manifest more and more of its inner Divinity in each incarnation and to fulfil the Will of the Divine here on earth.

Question: Does the soul experience loneliness? If so, how does this differ from the superficial need to have the company of others, whether we like them or not, but simply because we want someone to talk to?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul experiences loneliness only when the body, vital, mind and heart, which are supposed to cooperate with the soul in fulfilling the Divine Mission on earth, do not cooperate. At that time it experiences loneliness. But it does not act like a human being. It does not waste its time, as would a human being, who feels that just by talking to others the sense of loneliness will disappear. The soul, in its loneliness, aspires most intensely to bring down Peace, Light and Power from above into the physical, the vital, the mental, so that the total being can cooperate with the soul to fulfil the Divine. When Peace, Light and Power descend into the physical, vital and mental, the person becomes conscious of his inner life and true happiness. With Peace, Light and Power, a higher consciousness descends. With this higher consciousness, the person will naturally respond to the soul's need.

Question: Does the soul make demands on a person so that he has to change his ways?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul does not make demands as such. It is not like a mother making demands of her child at every moment, saying, "I am telling you such and such for your own good." What the soul does is to send a kind of Divine Inspiration. This inspiration can, at times, be so vivid and spontaneous that the person may feel it to be a kind of inner imposition made by his inner self on his outer personality. The soul does not demand. On the contrary, it sympathises with human failings and imperfections and tries to identify itself with these failings, and then, with its inner light, it tries to help the person to change his ways.

Question: How different is this from the demands the ego makes?

Sri Chinmoy: We now know that the soul does not make any demands. When the ego makes a demand, it is all self-centered — 'I', 'me' and 'mine'. The ego wants to possess and be possessed. When the soul wants to have something, it is not for its own personal benefit, but is for the fulfilment of the Divine. The ego, by feeding the outer personality, wants to fulfil itself, and this is simply impossible, as there is no end to its cravings. The ego eventually meets with frustration; whereas the soul, by fulfilling the Divine Will, realises its own absolute fulfilment.

Hinduism: the journey of India's Soul2

Hinduism is an inner experience; it is the experience of the soul. Hinduism is not a religion. It is the name of a culture — a self-disciplined, spiritual culture. The word religion, in fact, is not to be found in the dictionary of a Hindu. His dictionary houses the word "dharma". Dharma, no doubt, includes religion, but its long arms are stretched far beyond the usual conceptions of religion. Dharma means the inner code of life, the deeper significance of human existence. Dharma is a Sanskrit word which derives from the root "dhri", to hold. What holds man is his inner law. This inner law is a Divine, all-fulfilling experience that frees man from the fetters of ignorance even while he is in the physical world.

Religion, on the other hand, is derived from the Latin verb "ligare", to bind. The ancient Romans saw religion as a force which binds and controls man. But the ancient Indian seers felt that religion, nay, dharma, must release man from that which binds him, that is, his own ignorance. Man's awakened consciousness must do away with ignorance, or to be precise, transform ignorance into the knowledge of Truth.

"Dharma," says Sri Aurobindo, "is the Indian conception in which rights and duties lose the artificial antagonism created by a view of the world which makes selfishness the root of action, and regain their deep and eternal unity. Dharma is the basis of Democracy which Asia must recognise, for in this lies the distinction between the soul of Asia and the soul of Europe. Through Dharma the Asiatic evolution fulfils itself; this is her secret."

In days of yore, Hinduism was known as the Arya Dharma. Strangely enough, even now people are not quite sure from which part of the globe the Aryans entered India. Some, indeed, are of the opinion that the Aryans did not come from outside at all. Swami Vivekananda heads the list of these firm believers.

The origin of the word "Hindu" is very strange. It is closely associated with the river "Sindhu", the present Indus. But the ancient Iranians, desiring to call the Aryans by the name of the river on which they lived, pronounced it "Hindu". The Aryans seemed to like the name and we, who are their descendants, are enamoured and proud of the name "Hindu".

Hinduism or the Hindu Dharma is founded on the spiritual teachings of the Hindu seers. The Hindu shastras or scriptures which govern Hindu life and conduct are illumined and surcharged with the light and power of the hallowed teachings of the ancient seers.

Many are the Hindu shastras. Each has made a singular, powerful contribution to the whole. The oldest and foremost of all these are the Vedas. These are considered the oldest written scriptures since the dawn of civilisation. The other scriptures have the Vedas as their only fount. The Vedas have another name, "Shruti", that which is heard. They are so called because they are based on direct revelation. The authority of the Vedas rests on direct, inner spiritual experience that is married to Divine Reality. A Hindu feels in the inmost recesses of his heart that to doubt the inner experiences of the Vedic seers is to doubt the very existence of Truth. "Vid", to know is the Sanskrit root of the word Veda. Veda actually means the knowledge of God. As God is infinite, even so is His Knowledge. We observe in the Vedas, with surprise and delight, that the Truth-Discoveries are infinitely more important than the Truth-Discoverers. Unfortunately, the order of the day is the reverse. The Vedas are four in number: Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. Each of the Vedas consists of two sections: Samhita and Brahmana. Samhita embodies the hymns or mantras, while Brahmana expounds their significance and appropriate application.

All other Hindu Shastras cherish their great indebtedness to the Vedas. They are proud of the fact that they owe their authority to the Vedas and to the Vedas alone. These scriptures are known as Smritis. “Smriti” literally means anything that is remembered. Smriti is a scripture other than the Vedas proper. It has traditionally exercised great authority in laying down social and domestic laws, plying its boat between the shores of Vidhi (injunctions) and Nishedha (prohibitions) of the Hindu society.

Now let us focus our attention on the Upanishads "Upa" means near, "ni" means down, "shad" means sit. "Upanishad" refers to pupils sitting at the feet of their Teacher, learning their spiritual lessons. The Upanishads are the philosophical and reasoned parts of the Vedas. They are also called "Vedanta", End of the Veda. There are two reasons for this. One is that they present themselves toward the end of the Vedas; the other is that they contain the spiritual essence of the Veda, which is all Light and Delight. The actual number of the Upanishads still remains unknown. One hundred and eight have been faithfully preserved. Of these the most significant are: Isha, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundakya, Aiteriya, Chhandogya, Brihadaranyaka and Shwetaswatara.

God-realisation abides in meditation; never in books. This is the supreme secret of the Upanishads. The sages and the seers in the Upanishads asked their pupils to meditate, only to meditate. They did not even advise their students to depend on the Vedas as an aid to realising God. Meditate, the Brahman is yours! Meditate, Immortality is yours! At the beginning of the journey of human soul, the Upanishadic seers cry out, "Utthishtata jagrata. . ." "Arise, awake, stop not until the Goal is reached." At the journey's end, the same seers cry out once again, "Tat twam asi", That Thou art.

Now let us come to the Sad-Darshana, the Six Systems of Indian Philosophy. These are the various schools of thought, later introduced by some of the Hindu sages. The sage Jaimini's system is called Purva Mimansa; others are Vyasa's Uttar Mimansa or Vedanta, Kapila's Sankhya, Patanjali's Yoga, Gotama's Nyaya, and Kanada's Vaisheshika. If one studies the Nyaya first, then it becomes easier to fathom the other systems of thought.

All of the Six Systems were written in "sutras" or aphorisms. The seers did this because they wanted, not to expound the philosophy, but to express in the briefest possible sentences their soul-stirring revelations and have these engraved on the memory of the aspirant. Through the passage of time, the aphorisms have been significantly adorned and armoured with countless notes and commentaries.

It is high time for us to invite Professor Max Muller to join us in today's momentous journey.

> If I were to look over the whole world to find out the country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow — in some parts a very paradise on earth — I should point to India... If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life and has found solutions of some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant — I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from what literature, we here in Europe, we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thought of Greeks and Romans, and of one Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw their corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human, a life not for this life only, but a transfigured and eternal life — again I should point to India.

To walk along the royal path of the Six Systems of Philosophy, is difficult. That path is for the learned and the select few. The common run needs an easier path. It is here that the Puranas come into the picture. The Puranas teach us the Hindu religion with inspiring and thought-provoking stories, anecdotes and parables. The Puranas present Hinduism in an easy, interesting, charming and convincing manner. The major difference between the Vedas and the Puranas is that the Vedic Gods represent the cosmic attributes of the One, while the Puranic Gods represent His "human" attributes.

Now the Bhagavad-Gita or the Song Celestial demands our immediate attention. It is the scripture par excellence. The Gita is the life-breath of Hinduism. The Gita tells us not only to realise God, but also how. The Gita introduces three principal paths toward God-realisation: Karma Yoga, the path of action; Jnana Yoga, the path of knowledge, and Bhakti Yoga, the path of devotion. Emotional devotion and philosophical detachment not only must but can run abreast to fulfil the Divine here on earth. This sublime teaching of the Gita knows no equal. Without hesitation, a devout Hindu can say that the Gita has been the solace of his whole life and will be the solace of his death.

Certain people are heartily sick of our rituals and rites. To them, these are nothing but cheap, confused and showy affairs. But these critics will have no choice but to revise their opinions when they come to know why we perform these. Needless to say, we want spirituality to govern our lives, both inner and outer. Without the purity of the mind, there can be no true spirituality. And to have that purity, the performance of rituals is often an invaluable necessity. We know that when the mind is pure, illumination dawns. The subtle truths that lie beyond the range of our senses enter into our consciousness directly through the pure mind. Participation in rituals greatly aids this process. Granted, rituals are externals. But we have to know that it is the externals that bring home the truth to individuals. Rituals eventually touch the very core of our consciousness. Rituals permeate every aspect of Hindu life.

Rites, too, have been in vogue since the days of the Atharva Veda. Rites, if performed with an inner urge, with an aspiring heart, can help us considerably to conquer the hostile forces, avert untold misfortunes, fulfil life in its divine plenitude. Indeed, this is the divine attitude. The fear of a spiritual fall threatens us only when we use the rites, or rather the magic or lesser rites, to gain selfish and undivine ends.

A word about images and symbols. We do not worship images and symbols. We worship the Spirit behind them. This Spirit is God. It is so easy to feel the presence of God in and through a concrete form. Through the form, one has to go to the Formless, through the finite to the Infinite.

We worship nature. They smile at our folly. We laugh at their ignorance. Why do we worship nature? Because we have discovered the truth. We have discovered the truth that God manifests himself not only through nature but also as Nature. "A thing of beauty is a joy forever," said Keats. Beauty is soul. Soul is all joy. A Hindu seeker cannot separate the aspiration of Nature from the beauty and joy of the Soul. Nature's aspiration and the soul's delight together create an all-loving, all-embracing and all-fulfilling perfect perfection.

"Look at the zenith of Hindu folly," they say, "for of all things in God's creation, a Hindu has to worship animals, trees, even snakes and stones!" Alas, when will these men of so-called wisdom come to learn that we do not worship the stones as stones, the snakes as snakes, the trees as trees, and the animals as animals. What we do is very simple, direct and spontaneous. We worship the Supreme behind all these; nothing more and nothing less. With this attitude a Hindu desires to worship each and every object of the world, from the mightiest to the tiniest.

Let us speak of the caste-system, the object of ceaseless ridicule. What is caste? In the deepest sense of the term, caste is unity in variety. No variety, no sign of life. Variety is essential to the cosmic evolution. All individuals cannot have the same kind of development: physical, vital, mental or spiritual. Neither is such similarity imperative. The thing of paramount importance is that each individual must be given infinite opportunity and freedom to develop along his own line of growth.

In this lofty ideal, there is only one idea. To serve and to be served. Each individual has his rightful place in this ideal. The caste-system is to be treated as the functioning of one's limbs. My feet are in no way inferior to my head; one complements the other. Brahmin (priest, teacher and law-maker), Kshatriya (king and warrior), Vaishya (merchant, trader and agriculturalist) and Shudra (labourer, servant and dedicated hand) are all united by their mutual service. Caste is not a division. It is the secret of proper understanding. And it is in proper understanding that we fulfil ourselves fully. A Hindu feels this sober truth.

True Hinduism abjures all that divides and separates. It dreams of the Supreme Truth in absolute freedom, perfect justice in an all-embracing love, and the highest individual liberation in the unconditional service of humanity.

Hinduism gives due importance to all spiritual figures of the world. It recognises a great harmony in their teachings. Down through the ages, the firmament of India has sent forth the message of Peace, Love and Truth. It has fostered and encouraged the synthesis of all world religions. Further, Hinduism affirms that the highest end of life is not to remain in any particular religion, but to outgrow it, and realise and live in the Eternal Truth.

Hinduism is the embodiment of certain lofty, infallible ideals. These ideals within us live and grow, grow and live, and because of this fact, Hinduism is still a living force. It lives to lead. It leads to live.

To know Hinduism is to discover India. To discover India is to feel the breath of the soul. To feel the breath of the soul is to become one with God.

6 December 1966


Notes about the previous lecture on 'Hinduism: the journey of India's Soul'

The Adult School of Jewish Studies, sponsored by the following Long Island, New York, congregations: Congregation Sons of Israel, Hewlett-East Rockaway Jewish Center, Temple Sinai of Long Island and Temple Beth El, held a Fall Semester Lecture Program from 18 October to 13 December 1966 at 9:00 P.M. at the Hewlett-East Rockaway Jewish Center, Long Island, N. Y.

Various scholars and spokesmen were invited to explore the trends of thought and practice within their respective traditions and religions. The following was the program:

18 October 1966 — Introduction to the Study of Religions

Prof. Theodor H. Gaster

25 October 1966 — The Issues — Where Does Judaism Stand?

Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum

1 November — Catholicism

The Right Rev. Monsignor Gregory Lawrence Mooney

15 November — Protestantism

Dr. G. Barrett Rich, III

22 November — The Greek Orthodox Church

Rev. Father Constantine Volaitis

29 November — Islam

Dr. Benjamin Rivlin

6 December — Hinduism

Sri Chinmoy Kumar Ghose

13 December — Buddhism

Mr. Robert F. Olson

In this pamphlet we reproduce the text of Sri Chinmoy's address on 6 December 1966.

Incorporation of the Aum Centre in New York City

On 17 January 1967, the AUM CENTRE, INC. of New York City was officially certified by the Supreme Court of New York County.

We offer our gratitude to Mr. Enrique Calderon (B.B.A., L.L.B.) of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and his son, Mr. Miguel A. Calderon, Notary Public, State of New York, for their valuable advice and their selfless labour in preparing the necessary documents for the Incorporation. In this connection, Miss Carmen Suro, President, and Mrs. Maria Teresa Gonzalez, Counsellor, of the Aum Centre, Inc. of Santurce, Puerto Rico, deserve our special thanks and gratitude.

To our Dulal (Mr. Sol Montlack) who made many patient trips to the Supreme Court, untangled countless difficulties, and saw through the Incorporation to its conclusion, we offer our deep and grateful love.

The following is the Board of Directors of the AUM CENTRE, INC. of New York City:

Spiritual Director and President Chinmoy Kumar Ghose

Vice-President Mr. Sol Montlack

Chief Advisor Mrs. Ruth Moseley

Financial Secretary Mrs. Irene Silver

Corresponding Secretary Mrs. Lillian Gerber

Executive Co-ordinator Mrs. Barbara Callen

Special Member Mr. Joseph Stanley

Editor's introduction

"AUM" is a sacred Sanskrit mystic syllable

which prefaces all Hindu prayers.

The first issue of the journal AUM (Vol. 1, No. 1)

deals with its full spiritual significance.

Chinmoy Kumar Ghose 1966

AUM is a monthly journal devoted exclusively to the spiritual writings of Chinmoy Kumar Ghose. It will deal with the spiritual life and its problems from the point of view of Indian philosophy and yoga. AUM is intended to help aspirants of the West in their search for a true inner life by acquainting them with the realisations of a seeker of the Supreme.

From:Sri Chinmoy,AUM — Vol. 2, No. 6, 27 January 1967, Boro Park Printers -- Brooklyn, N. Y, 1967
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