AUM — Vol. 4, No. 2,3, Sep. — 27 Oct. 1968

Know thyself1

Atmanam Viddhi — Know Thyself. Each individual has to know himself. He has to know himself as the infinite, eternal and immortal Consciousness. The concept of Infinity, Eternity and Immortality is absolutely foreign to us. Why? What is the reason? The reason is quite simple. We live in the body. We do not live in the soul. To us the body is everything. There is nothing and there can be nothing beyond the body. The existence of the soul we feel as sheer imagination. But I assure you that the soul is not imagination. It is at once the life and revelation of the cosmic Reality. Most of us live in the body, in earth-bound physical consciousness. Our teacher is Darkness; our professor is Ignorance. But if ever we live in the soul, we shall see that our teacher is Vision and our professor is Illumination.

"Life is effort," so says the body. "Life is blessing," so says the soul. The human in man does not want to go beyond morality, society and humanity. The divine in man comes down from divinity into humanity, from unity into multiplicity.

Atmanam Viddhi — Know Thyself. The seers of the Upanishads had not only discovered this Truth Transcendental but had offered it to the suffering, crying and striving mankind. In order to know oneself, one has to discover oneself first. What is self-discovery? Self-discovery is God-Realisation.

No Yoga, no self-discovery. Yoga is not a religion. Yoga is the universal truth. It is the traditional truth of India. It is the most important experience of life. True Yoga and life go together. Do not try to separate them. If you want to separate them, you will fail. Yoga and life are as inseparable as the Creator and the Creation.

Is Yoga another name for severe asceticism? Positively not. Is Yoga another name for self-discipline? Decisively yes. Does Yoga demand the rejection of the world and the starvation of the senses? No, never. Does Yoga demand the acceptance of the world and mastery over the senses? Yes, a mighty Yes. Is Yoga for everybody? Yes and no. Yes, because each human soul has come from God and God-Realisation is the conscious need for God. No, because some feel that they can live without God.[fn:: AUM 341,5. In the original magazine, it was printed as "Yes and no. Yes, because each human soul has come from God and God-realisation the conscious need for God. They feel that they can live without God.”

Can learning and reasoning endow man with self-realisation? No. Mere book-knowledge ends in self-deception. Why? Because a man of knowledge feels that he has achieved the infinite wisdom. Unfortunately he does not know that the real Infinite Wisdom can come only from God, from God-Realisation. Mere mental reasoning ends in self-frustration.

Can dedication and aspiration endow man with self-realisation? Yes. Man's dedication is his heart-flower offered at the Feet of God. Man's aspiration is his soul-fruit placed in the Lap of God.

For self-realisation, man needs freedom. God gives him freedom. What is freedom? Freedom is God's sacrifice and man's miracle-power. Sri Ramakrishna, the great spiritual Master of India, remarked, "The wretch who constantly says, ‘I am bound, I am bound,’ only succeeds in being bound. He who says day and night, ‘I am a sinner, I am a sinner,’ verily becomes a sinner. One must have such burning faith in God that one can say, 'What? I have repeated God's name; how can sin still cling to me? How can I be a sinner any more?'"

We must cherish positive thoughts, positive ideas and positive ideals. Then only our Goal no longer remains a far cry. Each man has to feel, "I am at the Feet of God, my own Master. I am in the Hands of God, my own Creator. I am in the Heart of God, my only Beloved."

"Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you." I asked. My Lord has bestowed His boundless Compassion on me. I sought. My Lord has given me His infinite Love. I knocked. To my utter surprise, the door was not bolted from inside. My sweet Lord was eagerly expecting my arrival. Lo, I am come!

AUM 341. This talk was given to the students of the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, P. R., on 26 August 1968 at 8:00 p.m.

Question and answer period after the talk "Know thyself" at the University of Puerto Rico2

Sri Chinmoy: Now I wish to invite spiritual and inner questions. If you have any, I will be most happy to answer them.

AUM 342. Agni (Mr. J. L. Casanova) recorded and transcribed the entire program.

Question: Please explain what will be the first step for an ordinary person who has not been in contact with spiritual teachings and wants to enter into the path of self-realisation.

Sri Chinmoy: The important thing is the ultimate Goal. If a person wants to have self-realisation, then the first step, the very first step, should be the acceptance of the spiritual life. Without accepting the spiritual life, one cannot realise God. It is simply impossible. The spiritual life, of course, is a very vast field — one has to know where one actually stands right now. If, as the first step in the spiritual life, one wants to have a better life, a more harmonious life, a more peaceful life and if he feels that the Peace, Joy and Harmony that he seeks are still beyond his reach, then he has to start by reading a few Scriptures; he should get some illumination from religious and spiritual books. These books will inspire him to some extent to enter into the inner life. Then when the person has studied the books and is getting some inspiration, but is unable to go farther, at that time he has to put into practice what he has studied in the books. When he is practicing these new principles, if he is not satisfied with his achievements, then he has to search for a teacher, a spiritual teacher. It is the teacher who can help him in his spiritual life, who can tell him what kind of spiritual discipline is needed for him. I must emphasise again that at the very outset he has to determine that he needs the spiritual life. There is no other life that can give him self-illumination. When he is sure that it is the spiritual life that can give him that, then he has to enter into his deeper part. Through his inner cry, through prayer, through aspiration, through concentration and meditation, he has to start on the very first lap of his divine journey.

Question: The body is mortal while the soul is eternal. What is the importance of having a body?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul is eternal and the body is perishable. True. But we have to know the supreme importance of three things: first, the embodiment of Truth, second, the revelation of Truth, third, the manifestation of Truth. It is on earth and through the physical body that the soul can manifest Divinity, its own Divinity or what we can call the infinite Peace, infinite Light, the infinite Bliss. It is here on earth that the soul can manifest. This earth is the field of manifestation and at the same time, this earth is the field of realisation. God-Realisation can be achieved only here on earth and not in other spheres, not in other planets, not in other worlds. So those who care for God-Realisation have to come into the world and the soul has to accept the body because the body is absolutely necessary here on earth for the manifestation of the soul's divinity. On the one hand, when the soul leaves the body, the body cannot function; the body dies. On the other hand, when the soul wants to manifest, it has to be done in the body, with the body. So we have to know what we actually want. If we want to negate the body, destroy the body, what can the soul do? It has to leave the body. But if we want to achieve something here on earth and if we feel the necessity of establishing the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth, then it has to be done with the conscious help of the body. The body is the instrument of the soul. In the Katha Upanishad it says: "The soul is the master, the body is the chariot, the reason or intellect is the charioteer and the mind, the reins." The body needs the soul, the soul needs the body. For the realisation of the highest and deepest Truth, the body needs the soul; for the manifestation of the highest and deepest Truth, the soul needs the body.

Question: What results would we have in our society if a large number of persons in the society accepted Yoga?

Sri Chinmoy: If a large number of people accepted Yoga, then society, the face of society, would be completely changed. Society would not suffer. On the contrary, society would undergo a radical change for the better. Why? Because Yoga can tell society what the actual Truth is in man's day-to-day life. Yoga can show us how Truth can be seen, felt and realised. Yoga can teach society what true love is, what true human relationships and feelings should be. If society is ruled by ordinary human minds, by emotional feelings and so forth, society can never achieve perfection. But if society, at least a larger number in society, can feel the need for God who is All-Love, who is All-Perfection, who is All-Compassion, then only will society discover its true meaning. Society will gain abundant truth from the very acceptance of Yoga. Yoga is not something unnatural; it is something absolutely natural, it is something practical, it is more practical than the ordinary human life can conceive. It wants to prove in a practical way that God is not only in Heaven, but here on earth. So the greater the number in society to accept the spiritual life, the inner life, the quicker, the easier will be the transformation of the life of society.

Question: What happens if a person wants to enter the spiritual life but has to adjust himself to the material life?

Sri Chinmoy: As I said before, Yoga and life must go together. We have to go deep within to discover the spiritual life, but without negating the material life. From inside we have to come outside; we cannot go inside while holding on to the values of the outer life. We need the inner life and in the inner life is infinite Joy, Peace and Bliss. From the inner life, we bring to the fore our inner, divine qualities. The material life can then be easily adjusted. The material life, in fact, has its true significance only when it is supported by the inner life. Now at present what is actually happening is that we are trying to separate the material life from the spiritual life. Actually there is no such division, but unfortunately people think that either one has to accept the material life and wallow in the pleasures of riches or else one has to be a complete ascetic; that there can be no compromise. This is not true. Life has to be accepted — the material life — but not in a sense of total indulgence. The material life is to be accepted for the manifestation of our divine, inner qualities. Through the material life, we shall have to fulfil the message of our inner life. Now how can we do this? One should try to aspire in one's day-to-day life to combine both the material and the spiritual life. One can do this through the remembrance of something higher or deeper. What is that higher and deeper thing? It is God, the Divine. If God comes to one's mind before anything else, then only will God flow through the spiritual life into the material life. God has to be placed first in one's life, without negating the material life or the outer world. If we place God first, then God enters, on our behalf, into the outer world, into the material world. But if we place the material world first, then we cannot reach God because the process is wrong. It is from God that we have to enter into the material life, God looms large in the inner life and from the inner life we can and must bring Him into the outer life. This is how we can adjust ourselves to the material life and make it one with the spiritual life.

Question: You explained that the soul needs the body. I understand that the soul is the one that is in union with God. Will we retain individuality or shall we lose individuality when we realise that union with God?

Sri Chinmoy: God does not want us to discard our individuality, but ordinary individuality and real, divine individuality are two different things. God Himself is, at the same time, One and Many. He has produced infinite human beings, human souls. He is One, but in the field of manifestation He has become Many. He has selected each person as His chosen instrument, that is to say, each human soul is His chosen instrument This kind of divine individuality which God has given to us is not the ordinary individuality which is determined by the ego, “I am this, you are that.” God's individuality is a unique manifestation of His Reality. There is no clash, there is no jealousy, there is no battle, no fight. God Himself is manifesting Himself in a unique manner in you, in me and in others. That kind of individuality, different from the individuality of the ego, God retains for humanity. It is a unique expression of the Divine in His multiplicity. Each one is a chosen instrument of God, but without ego, without pride, without vanity. It is just like the petals of the lotus; each petal has its own beauty and its own uniqueness.

Question: If a person practices Yoga, what kind of life will be led in his daily activities?

Sri Chinmoy: In his daily activities he has to be, first of all, sincere, honest and pure. He has to have purity in his mind, in his body, in his speech and in his ideas. Anyone can practice sincerity, honesty and purity. Then if he really wants to practice Yoga, the deeper Yoga, each day for about fifteen minutes he must devote himself to his inner search, to his self-discovery. These fifteen minutes of meditation he has to learn from someone who can teach him. He needs a teacher for meditation, for his inner illumination. The individual has to know how sincere he is or how far he wants to go, how deeply he wants to accept Yoga. If he feels that he has to go up to the end of the road, that he wants to reach the goal, then he has to follow some strict, inner discipline and he has to meditate, concentrate and so forth. But if he wants to remain satisfied with obtaining a little peace, joy and light, then what I said at the beginning, in answering your question, applies here. Let him be perfectly sincere in all his activities.

Question: Does a person who has not practiced Yoga have the same grade of unity with God after death as one who practices Yoga?

Sri Chinmoy: No. One who has practiced Yoga will alone have eventually the conscious oneness with God. He will see God here on earth and there in heaven. My dear friend, just by leaving the body, one does not immediately go to God. For God-Realisation, one has to be here on earth. It is mere foolishness to think that when we leave the body, we immediately fly to God. No! It is not like that. One has to realise Him here on earth. It is by listening to the dictates of the soul that one realises God here on earth. Otherwise people only need commit suicide in order to realise God after death. Anyone would be able to leave the world and fly to God. It is, as I said, through conscious aspiration that we can realise God here on earth. When we realise Him here, then we realise Him everywhere.

Question: The soul that has not practiced Yoga or any kind of spirituality, what is its condition after death?

Sri Chinmoy: If someone has not practiced Yoga, his soul will not be able to go to the higher planes. Ordinary people, when they die, do not go to the higher planes of consciousness, as do persons who have practiced Yoga. Again, the mere practice of Yoga is, in itself, not enough to go to the higher planes. Anybody can start with Yoga, practice it for a month, a year or ten years, but that is not enough. If one has achieved something in the spiritual life, in the inner life, say Light, Peace, Bliss in abundant measure, then naturally the soul of that person will be able to go back up to the higher levels which he experienced in his earthly life. It depends on the individual, how much he has achieved in the spiritual life. The soul of an ordinary, unaspiring person will not and cannot go very high. There are seven higher worlds and seven lower worlds. In one of these worlds, one has to have one’s station. As a result of his karma on earth, on his level of spiritual achievement and development, the soul of man enters into the world or worlds which he rightly deserves.

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-18823

A thinker in the sublimest sense of the term is Emerson. His philosophy touches the core of all earthly problems. "Ends," says he, "pre-exist in the means." Hence what matters is to have our highest aspirations and to cherish them in all sincerity and determination and rest assured in the faith that these will realise themselves.

He came of poor parents, but with an indomitable will and an utter self-reliance. His father, William Emerson, a clergyman, passed away when Waldo was a boy of eight. Soon after, the family was thrown into extreme poverty. It came to such a pass that both Emerson and his elder brother had a single overcoat to help them through the terrible winter. Obviously one had to stay indoors while the other was out. And who but the younger of the two? Waldo missed the attractions, affections and amusements of the outside world; but at the same time this gave him an opportunity to plunge into the sea of knowledge. Voraciously he studied. Plato's Dialogues and Pascal's Thoughts inspired all his moments. Later impelled from within he offered seats to Spinoza and Montaigne along with his previous masters. Strangely enough, he was taught from within to be cheerful in the face of poverty.

He had many antagonists. Hypocrisy and superstition were the worst of them. He fought and fought. Success was a far cry. He had also numerous friends. Truth and sincerity topped their ranks.

America, the fairest land of freedom, opportunity and progress, inspired in Emerson the thought that his countrymen should utilize all these divine gifts to strive for the divinest aims of life. Indeed America's self will gain her true stature when she lives up to her philosopher-son's towering aspirations.

Emerson's love for the American student stems from his topmost aspiration:


"Our student must have a style and determination, and be a master in his own speciality. But having this, he must put it behind him. He must have a catholicity, a power to see with a free and disengaged look every object."


In other words, he expects the American student to be a useful unit not only of the American nation but of the world-family in the making.

“The things taught in the schools and colleges,” Emerson strongly feels, "are not an education, but the means of education." For a student to be furnished with ‘the means’ is to have the responsibility thrown upon him for going on educating himself till at last the finite and the infinite within him and without are unified and form his greatened personality.

No doubt, philanthropy and charity have much to their credit. But most of the people are either unconscious or consciously unconscious about the great limitations of these two virtues. Being a genuine lover of Truth Emerson makes bold to say: "Philanthropies and charities have a certain air of quackery." Truly, few, perhaps none, are those who have got imprinted on the tablets of their hearts the great teaching of the Bible:

> When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right doeth.

For Emerson poetry and philosophy were no mere intellectual embellishments. Philosophy was a dynamic factor in the shaping of his life. A man of vision, he had philosophy for its sustenance and poetry for its expression. His life was a happy blend of sublime dreams and creative gestures. He knew no compromise with his ingrained Truth. "When he (the poet) sings the world listens with the assurance that now a secret of God is to be spoken." Does it not conform to the Indian definition of the poet as the seer? Needless to say that Emerson's high idealism lifted him far above his age.

On March 11, 1829, Emerson was awarded the post of minister of the Second (Unitarian) Church in Boston. Even his worst enemy could not deny his remarkable gift of speech-making. But he had to sever himself from the Church as he had failed to be at one with his congregation regarding the method of teaching. He simply left the Church, but attacked none. It was advisable, he thought, that they should have another pastor according to their choice. But one of the reactionaries could not help saying, "We are sorry for Mr. Emerson, but it certainly is like as if he is going to hell." Neither are we to forget the immediate counter-comment made by a true-seeker: "It does indeed look so. But I am sure of one thing — if Emerson goes to hell, he will so change its climate that it will become a popular resort for all the good souls of heaven."

Emerson's love of God is too deep for form and convention. That was perhaps why he left his ministry in the (Unitarian) Church of Boston. People below his level of culture must be pitied. Also it is quite natural that they should take him amiss. Emerson seems to have sailed "strange seas of thought, alone," with deep self-knowledge. Emerson's truth "To be great is to be misunderstood" finds its exquisite parallel in Sri Aurobindo, the greatest Seer of India:

> Whoever is too great must lonely live,

> Adored he walks in mighty solitude;

> Vain is his labour to create his kins,

> His only comrade is the Strength within.

Happily two great contemporaries, Lincoln and Emerson, offer an historic example of mutual appreciation. During the ever-memorable Civil War in America, it was from Emerson's inspiring tongue that came out "the best and the bravest words". He fully supported President Lincoln in his mighty undertaking and addressed him as "the Protector of American Freedom". Neither could the President remain silent. He honoured the seer in the philosopher Emerson with his warm appreciation: "The Prophet of American Faith".

"The Prophet of American Faith." Yes, but more truly a Prophet of universal Faith, a seer visualising the Future in the living present:

> One day all men will be lovers, and every calamity will be dissolved in the universal sunshine.

AUM 351. (Reprinted from the author's article in "Mother India", 1963)

Salutations to America4

The fairest child of freedom, the first to fight for this divine gift and win it for the New World. None perhaps has a keener perception of its worth. America! the whole freedom-loving world salutes you. The holy flame that burned in your heart when you were smarting under the injustices of Colonial domination is still alive in you. Your one single claim to Immortality is this Flame. You live not for yourself alone. You live for freedom and for those who share your love for it. The years 1914-1918, 1939-1945 are shining witnesses of your heaven-kissing Flame.

You may or may not know what you are doing. You have conquered Matter, but you have kept it at a distance from conquering you. That is why your fund of scientific knowledge and your bountiful wealth you freely place at the service of suffering humanity. Another thing you have done is to build up the material basis for the coming great Age of Spirituality. That the elite of your people are responding to the call of that Age and are convinced of the interdependence and even the oneness of Matter and Spirit can be seen in the possibilities which your mind, with its youth and freshness, promises of listening to the message of Sri Aurobindo, the Prophet of that New Age.

Brought up in the atmosphere of your freedom, you have self-confidence in all your undertakings. The benefits of your freedom have fostered in you the sense of responsibility in all matters of national and international interest.

Your progressive spirit striving towards perfection in everything is a divine blessing. But for your magnanimous participation in many branches of international activities, the world could not be knit together so closely as now, though you and the rest of the world have yet a long way to go to reach the destined Goal.

Victory in the War of Independence is the foundation stone of American nationality. Even the average American cannot conceive of the idea of a defeat anywhere. It goes ill with his national pride.

America is wealth. America is heart. America is sacrifice. Before long it may be hoped that in America will shine forth the world's collective soul.

AUM 352. This article was written by Sri Chinmoy on 25 November 1962, when he was still in India.



Time and distance

Are caught by hope.

Hope is the glance

That burns the rope

Of howling Night.

Hope lost, gloom grows,

Dark poison-blight:

Destruction flows. ```



Man is Infinity’s Heart.

Man is Eternity’s Breath.

Man is Immortality’s Life.


From:Sri Chinmoy,AUM — Vol. 4, No. 2,3, Sep. — 27 Oct. 1968, AUM Centre Press, 1968
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