The jewel of humility

Part I

Childhood tale1

I didn't come of a poor family; I came of a rich family, but we gave all our material wealth to the ashram. My eldest brother went first to the ashram and then the younger ones went. My uncle was against it, but my brother said that all would stay. He said, "If they leave the ashram, then I will also leave. Right now they are young. It is my duty to do the right thing for them." Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh, has taken our property. But in those days we had two or three large gardens and several houses. My father was the inspector of a large railway junction then.

When I was a child in Shakpura, I had a dog named Bhaga. It means "tiger." We wanted our dog to be in the city with our relatives. Finally, we took him in a boat and he stayed with my maternal uncle.

Bhaga was very devoted. Several miles he used to cover to deliver a message. He went three and a half miles to my aunt's place and gave her a message. Then, from my aunt's place he was so eager to come back. Twice he did that.

Bhaga was big, spirited and very powerful. If you dropped something, if you made any sound, then you were finished; he used to bark for five minutes. When we were studying for our examinations, we never studied silently. To convince the physical mind that we were studying, we used to recite aloud. At that time, when anything went wrong, the dog used to bark. That was Bhaga.

I had a white hare. I had also many, many birds. I had a kite and others. Then we had a few monkeys. One monkey was named Madhu. I was very fond of monkeys. There was a chain hanging down from a pole and at the top was a small round house where they lived. The monkeys' lives were spent climbing up and down the chain and screaming. Then from their own bodies they removed bugs. Every second they used to discover some thing on their skin. We could not see anything, but a monkey sees everything on its own body.

The monkeys used to bite. When a monkey starts running toward you, you have to lie down and stop breathing. If you act as if you are dead, then it will never, never bite. So many times I did that when I was about six years old. Little children of one or two years and elderly people they never bite, but young boys and girls they bite. A few times I was caught. I have at least ten or twelve marks. I used to go near a monkey with such fondness and joy, but then I forgot that the chain was so long. Sometimes, before I brought food for the monkey, it used to bite me. We had a servant who was fourteen or fifteen years old. There was not a single day when he was not bitten by one particular monkey.

When monkeys are tame, they show affection. My mother was not bitten even once. They felt kindness in my mother. My sister once or twice was bitten. The monkey-bite hurts a lot. It bleeds immediately and profusely. How many times my right or left thigh or my elbow was bitten! Their teeth are very small but they grind. My brother Mantu never gave them any bananas or anything else to eat. He didn't like monkeys, he didn't like dogs, he didn't like cats. He was against every kind of animal. Monkeys do something that is really worth seeing. They climb up a tree and from the very topmost branch they jump into a pond. Then they swim across.

I have disciples whose children were once upon a time their pets. In a previous incarnation somebody had a pet dog, and now the pet dog has become a member of the family. Suppose you had a dog; now that dog has become your brother. In your family it has taken its first human incarnation, Like that, we also had maidservants who wanted to come into our family. They pleased us so much and their wish was to come into our family. Just open your third eye and see whether I am telling you the truth!

JH 1. During an informal gathering, Sri Chinmoy related this story about his childhood days.

Part II: Mundane, funny and illumining questions and answers

JH 2-15. During an informal gathering on 3 December 1977, Sri Chinmoy invited his disciples to ask him "mundane questions, funny questions or illumining questions." The disciples meditated for a minute, and then began asking him questions. These are the questions and his answers.

Question: Is there spiritual significance to body-building?

Sri Chinmoy: Body-building is like house-building. If the house is strong, then you can live inside the house for a long time. Of course, quite unexpectedly if a cyclone or an earthquake takes place, then the house will be demolished. But otherwise, if the house is very strong, then it lasts for a long time. Similarly, if the physical is strong, then it is easier for the soul to manifest its divinity. Of course, the soul's influence operating in and through the body has to be felt. So body-building I do appreciate and admire. It is a real necessity for the seeker to keep a very strong and powerful body.

Question: Was the Vishma of the Mahabharata a bad person for fighting against Sri Krishna?

Sri Chinmoy: The Vishma of the Mahabharata was the greatest hero in those days, plus the grandsire of the Kauravas and the Pandavas. To please his father he remained unmarried. To please his stepmother he did not accept the throne. So in every case he was extremely great. Also, he was extremely close to Lord Krishna. Only four or five human beings knew extremely well in the inner world who Krishna was, and Vishma was one of those. Inwardly, he worshipped Krishna most powerfully.

Vishma felt miserable that the Pandavas suffered so much in spite of the fact that Krishna was on their side. He taught the Pandavas secretly how they could kill him. Now look at this! If you fight against someone, will you tell that person how to kill you? This was Vishma. His heart was all the time with the Pandavas, but he was morality-bound to the Kauravas. In India they say that if you take salt from someone, then you have to be grateful to that person and take his side. The Kauravas assisted him in his own life; they met with his expenses and did many things for him. That is why he took their side, but his heart was all the time for the Pandavas.

Here the philosophy is complicated. Real spirituality will be always for God, for the Supreme. No matter how much you have got from this world, no matter how much help you have received from an individual or from a group of people, when the Hour strikes, you have always to take God's side. It was God who all the time was helping you in and through these individuals at a particular stage in your life. If God changes His Will and wants you to serve Him in a different way, then you have to do it. So Vishma should have taken the Pandavas side when he saw that Krishna was on their side.

Vishma was so great; he kept all his promises. He even told his so-called enemies how to kill him. But at the last moment he did not take God's side. That was his only short-coming. Otherwise, his compassion, his love for truth, his promise-keeping will always remain unparalleled in the history of the world.

Question: Are there individuals among your disciples today who have a soul's connection with Vishma? How does it compare with the soul's connection we'll have with you in our next incarnation?

Sri Chinmoy: In their next incarnation I hope that the seven hundred or eight hundred divine or undivine soldiers that I have will practise spirituality. I will not take incarnation, but they will have a soul's connection with me. Their connection with me will be infinitely stronger because of my God-realisation. A soul's connection with Vishma or any other human being will not be as strong, because that person has not realised God. Vishma knew who Krishna was. In your highest consciousness you people also are aware of who I am. But that does not mean that you have realised me. You know that I am a spiritual Master of great height and all that, but to know me and to realise me are totally different things.

Question: Who made me a space cadet? Did God make me a space cadet or did I make myself a space cadet?

Sri Chinmoy: I am diving deep within to answer this question. God made you thirty-three per cent a space cadet. Then you liked it so much that you took advantage of what God had given you and you added sixty-six per cent. And I liked it so much that I added the extra one per cent.

So God started the game, you continued the game and I completed it. Thirty-three per cent of the credit goes to God, sixty-six per cent goes to your own noble self and one per cent goes to me. So in this way you are a perfect space cadet — a divinely perfect, supremely perfect, one hundred per cent space cadet.

Yesterday you proved it. You got into the car without your books. So, does my mind work, or does only my soul work? When you were inside the car your Master said, "She has come without her books." So the first thing I asked you when you got inside the car was, "Where are your books?" Then you ran. If we had left, the custodian would have gone home and God alone knows where the books might have gone.

To be a space cadet is the greatest honour. Many times I have taught the space cadets various things. When you eat, do you take the dishes out of your house? Do you walk in the street with only one shoe on? Do you forget your name? No, you don't forget your name. There was a time when I did those things, so still I can defeat you.

Question: Guru, why do you tell us not to touch paper with our feet?

Sri Chinmoy: Paper means knowledge. It represents the wisdom of the human brain. The discoveries of human beings are written down on paper. If we kick or touch our discoveries with our feet, then we are not honouring our achievements and discoveries. If we look down on our own achievements and if we don't value our own discoveries, then how are we going to value anything? There is something higher and deeper inside the paper, and that is the supreme discovery of our human brain. This discovery is nothing other than light. Therefore, we should not touch paper with the feet. It is a crime. There is a special deity who embodies knowledge and wisdom. Her name is Saraswati. She represents wisdom or knowledge in boundless measure and according to our receptivity we receive from her. But we need a vehicle to contain what we receive, and the vehicle is a book. So books contain the inspiration from the goddess Saraswati. Whenever we see a thing, we have to go to its source. The source of the book is the living goddess Saraswati. How can we touch the goddess in that piece of paper with our feet? How can we kick her? Impossible! So we should not touch paper with our feet because inside it is the living presence of the cosmic goddess.

Question: Sometimes the boys fool around in physical ways like in wrestling. Is that okay to do at certain times or is it not good to do at all?

Sri Chinmoy (jokingly): Boys should be boys; girls should be girls. Boys should show their muscle-power and vital power, and girls should show their gossip-capacity .... I didn't say that.

A little bit is good. But there is a great difference between exuberance and violence. Again, sometimes innocent exuberance can lead to destructive violence. Many times it starts in a joking manner. Then somebody's ego is hurt and it becomes a serious fight. It starts with innocence, but that innocence does not remain. If you can maintain the innocent fun throughout, then it is very good. Then all the undivine vital qualities go out of the body.

No one is better than Ashrita in this respect. Ashrita is the best. When Ashrita divine goes into our kitchen and sees Casey, if he tears off Casey's T-shirt, then what are you going to do? Someone will give Casey the money to buy another shirt, so there is no harm. But in the name of exercise, to test his strength, if he presses Casey's thumb and breaks it, that is very bad. The shirt can easily be replaced but if the thumb is damaged, then how can you replace it?

So fun I appreciate, but it has to remain altogether innocent and harmless. If it becomes violent and ends in physical injuries, then it has to be totally stopped. Showing off vital capacities or exuberant capacities is necessary; otherwise, you will have a life of gloom, frustration and depression that is infinitely, infinitely worse than the outer vital excitement.

Question: How can we get instant, automatic inspiration? A lot of times, when you are meditating one by one on all the disciples, I notice that my mind is wandering when you are about to concentrate on me. How can I get instant inspiration to be receptive in any situations

Sri Chinmoy: Good boy, always think of the ideal. The ideal means the height; the ideal means the source. Always think of me as your highest height and your source in any field. Suppose you need inspiration in writing poems. Immediately think of my poetry-capacity; think of the thousands of poems I have written. If you need inspiration in painting, then think of my art-capacity. Here your ideal is the poet in me or the artist in me. If you need the inspiration to realise God, then think of the seeker in me. In any field where you need inspiration, immediately see me as the highest height to which you are aspiring. If you think of the highest height, then automatically you get inspiration.

Some people say, "Oh, there is a yawning gulf between the highest height and my present state." But my theory is always to think of the highest and the largest. You may see yourself as only a tiny drop, but if you think of the ocean, then immediately you will see that the ocean can never be separated from the tiny drop. The highest height can never be separated from the lowest, because there is no break between the lowest and the highest. If you think of yourself as the foot of the tree and me as the height, then easily you can see that we are one. If something goes wrong with the foot, the foundation, then the tree breaks and its height goes away. So if you think of yourself and of me in this way, then you will know that if something goes wrong with you, then my height also goes.

From inspiration you get aspiration; from aspiration you get realisation. When I am looking at you, immediately think of me as realisation. Realisation means a flood of light. Right now just a little light you have, but you want to go to the infinite effulgence of light.

If you see the ultimate, then immediately you get a kind of inner joy and inner thrill, and this will inspire you. But if you think of yourself as starting to run a marathon race, with the goal far beyond, then you are lost. With your aspiration you are just starting, and you have to go one mile, two miles, three miles, four miles; O God! If you think this way, then you are finished; you will never reach your realisation-goal. No, you have to think of your first goal as one mile, your second goal as two miles, your third goal as three miles and so on. When you start the marathon, take the first mile as your goal, and at that time think that I am also there. Or if even that seems too far away, then feel that I am at the start with you. In this way you will be able to complete the distance between your aspiration and your realisation. Again, you may say, "If Guru is here at the start with me, then what is the use of going there? If I get him here at the start, then I don't have to see him at the finish." That is not good, either. The best thing is to feel my inspiration and aspiration inside you. But don't forget that I am there in the goal, with the goal and as the goal for you.

So always when you want to do something or become something, think of the highest height. Think of me or meditate on me; or if you can't think and you can't meditate, then just imagine. For thinking you have to use the mind, but if you want to grow into something, then you have to use the aspiring heart. Thinking is a very difficult subject. It may take such a long time to think of someone as a good person. You are trying desperately to think of some good qualities in Nathan, but it is taking such a long time for you. He has caused the fire in your store, so it is very difficult for you to think of his good qualities. But easily you can imagine, "Oh, Nathan is such a good boy." Imagination far surpasses thinking-power. So if you can imagine what your goal is, then you get immediate inspiration. Use your imagination-power and then you will see that your inspiration-power and aspiration-power have become very powerful and strong.

Question: The other day I was walking by the United Nations and I saw a little baby in a baby carriage. He was about a year or a year and a half old. The baby had sort of a blank expression, but somehow I saw in this expression great anxiety and perplexity, as if the world were a very painful and bewildering place. I was very moved, very pained by this experience, and whenever I think of it I still feel very moved. What can I learn from this experience?

Sri Chinmoy: Are you sure that the baby was getting that kind of high experience — that the world is full of sorrow? Maybe he had just been scolded by his mother for misbehaving or something?

My feeling was that this was an expression of not understanding the world.

Sri Chinmoy: I don't think the baby's soul was so developed that it was identifying with the world-soul. Only I think it was your own feeling projected, for what you described is not coming to me inwardly. It was your own aspiration and your own state of consciousness that you thought of; it was not coming from the baby at all.

Question: It made me feel that I wanted to help the suffering of the world, but I didn't know how.

Sri Chinmoy: You wanted to help the suffering of the world. You saw that the baby was helpless, so the baby became a symbol of helplessness. This is a very high experience, but I don't think the baby was experiencing it.

Question: When you meditate you become very, very still. Even if you are standing up, your physical doesn't move at all. You can become like a statue if you want. How can you do that?

Sri Chinmoy: The rest of the time I shout and bark and become restlessness-prince, but at that time you want to know how I become poise incarnate. The physical has to be a perfect instrument for manifesting the inner wealth that comes from beyond the physical. Take the eyes, for example. When I offer light, I offer it through my physical eyes. When I am doing something very high and sublime, it is the stillness of the physical that can hold the sublimity, profundity, equanimity, divinity or supreme reality that I am bringing down. What I am bringing down is being expressed in the physical. It is not stiffness; it is poise. My inner poise in my physical is like a solid, adamantine wall; it is the inner poise that keeps the physical extremely solid and hard. At that time my physical has become a perfect channel to manifest the inner tranquillity on earth. Anything that we have has to be manifested through the physical for the earth-consciousness.

Although the physical is standing still, it is running the fastest. My body, my physical, has become one with my inner self. Outwardly you can see the stillness, but inside the stillness itself is my inner vision, my inner range. To your physical eyes it will appear like stillness, but if you had realised God, then you would see that the stillness is not a static stillness at all. The physical perception is stillness, but the inner perception sees that along with the stillness is the fastest movement of my inner being, which is covering the length and breadth of the world with its inner range and inner vision.

So if you use the physical eye, then it is stillness; and if you use the inner eye, then you see that the inner being is moving faster than the fastest. If you can use both the inner eye and the outer eye, then you will see that my being is at once still and dynamic. It is dynamic and static at the same time. The static aspect you see and the dynamic aspect you do not see with your physical eyes; but they are absolutely interdependent.

I saw it as dynamic, Guru, but I don't think anybody else in the world could do what you do.

Sri Chinmoy: Very good.

Question: May I ask something in relation to that? When you sit on your throne you will be absolutely still and all of a sudden you will move your foot.

Sri Chinmoy: Enjoying myself! I am very high and then I start shaking my foot.

Question: You don't really shake it, you just move it up and down once or twice.

Sri Chinmoy: We are in the highest height and we descend. In Sri Ramakrishna's case, his disciples used to offer him something to smoke so that he could come down and become part and parcel of the physical consciousness, the earth-consciousness. In my case, I do something else to come down to the level of my children. I have gone up and, when I descend, the foot represents solid earth, the material, earthly world. From my highest if I want to become one with the earth-consciousness, then the foot is the solid foundation. Again, the feet of the Master represent boundless compassion. This compassion you can pull, as though you were a magnet. I have given permission to very few disciples — I can count them on my fingertips — to touch my feet with their hands or head. The strongest magnetic pull of my feet takes away the problems of this incarnation, even of the past incarnations. When I want to bless someone by bringing down compassion, I can use my hands or my eyes. But the feet always keep infinite compassion for this world — for the disciples and for the seekers. Again, why do I not do it for everybody? Because everybody does not deserve it: everybody does not want it. They say, "Oh, we need compassion," but they are afraid that compassion is nothing but transformation. They say, "We want transformation," but as soon as they see the enormity of the result, they are frightened to death. We say that we want to be as bright as the sun, but when we see the effulgence of the sun, we are frightened to death. We ask God to make us as powerful and strong as an elephant. Then, when we see an elephant, we are frightened to death. We ask God to make us as strong as a lion, but when we stand in front of a roaring lion, we are frightened to death. Here also the seekers want something, but when they face the reality they are frightened to death by the reality. That is why I don't allow more people to touch my feet. My feet embody boundless, immediate compassion. This reality they don't want; it frightens them.

Question: The smoke from the fire got into everything in my store and it made everything smell. My question is, did it also get into the soul of the store?

Sri Chinmoy: No. The earthly smell cannot permeate the soul. The soul cannot be touched or attacked by the smell unless it wants to be. If the soul wants to see how bad the smell is by becoming part and parcel of the smell, then the soul can do so. It is like having a garbage can. If you have a garbage can, what do you do? You dispose of the garbage because you don't want to keep the foul smell inside. But again, if you want to be inside the garbage can, who prevents you? Nobody! The soul also tries to get rid of this smell as soon as possible. If you keep the garbage for a long time and either unconsciously or deliberately enjoy the smell, then naturally you will have something of the smell inside you. It depends on how long you keep it.

In the case of the soul, if the smell remains for a few days, it is nothing. The soul has the capacity to remain undisturbed and unperturbed. But if you do not clean the place for months, then the soul's compassion will take the smell not as a smell, not as an abstract thing, but as a being. The soul takes it as a solid, concrete being that is helpless. Then the soul shows its compassion and tries to identify itself with the smell. At that time the soul will embody the smell and it will take some time before the hour comes when you can get rid of it. But here I clearly see that the soul will not be affected, because it will be a matter of only a few days before the smell is gone.

If a soul is very undeveloped or unripe, or very restless, we say that the soul is destructive. How can a soul be destructive? It can be destructive by becoming one with its stupid mentor, the unaspiring vital, and by mixing with the vital. Then we say that the soul is destructive. The soul itself is not destructive, but it is mixing with the vital to such an extent that it has been eclipsed by the vital. Sometimes the soul mixes with the vital in the hope that it will be able to change the vital in its destructive aspect; it is using its will-power to try to transform the vital power. It enters from the subtle vital into the gross vital with the hope that very soon it will create aspiration in the destructive vital. So the soul, out of infinite compassion, becomes one with the destructive vital in order to transform it. But if the soul is not strong, then it can be temporarily eclipsed by the destructive vital. At that time we say that it is a destructive soul. First you try from a distance to transform the darkness, using a flashlight. But if you see that it is not working, then you go there with your soul's light, with your aspiration and your dedication, and you try to transform it.

Question: Occasionally I see a little flash of light, a tiny light that goes in your eye and travels all around. Sometimes it travels in a definite pattern and I watch it while I am meditating on your picture. What does it mean?

Sri Chinmoy: The spiritual significance I can give, and if that doesn't satisfy you, then you can go to the doctor and see if your eyesight is all right. But I wish to tell you that the light that you see is inner light, and you are seeing it with your inner vision. You are seeing a subtle light around my eyebrows or around my eyes, which belong to the physical in me. This indicates that your inner vision has accepted the physical and also is encouraging the physical. When you see the light circling around my eye, you have to know that my physical part has become one with your aspiration. I embody the aspiration of the physical in you and in all the disciples. While you are aspiring you are seeing the physical in me as well as the spiritual in me. The two cannot be separated. The light is the spiritual in me and the eyes are the physical. The spiritual is always trying to help the physical. So your aspiration, your inner cry right now is crying to be supported or encouraged or fulfilled by the spiritual.

When you think of yourself, think that inside the physical is your inner cry, your aspiration and your dedication. This aspiration and dedication will not go on in vain; they will be crowned with success. They will be garlanded by the physical and the spiritual. The physical inside you is aspiring and the reality from above, from deep within, will come and garland the aspiration of the physical.

So the light that you see is the light of the Beyond. When you see it circling around the eye, it means that the spiritual is encouraging the physical in order to elevate and transform the physical and fulfil the message of the higher reality. The physical is aspiring and a response is coming from the reality and divinity beyond the physical. Very good experience, wonderful experience!

Part III: Questions and answers

Question: Guru, you once said that if you come two minutes late to God, then He will not even open the door for you. This makes me unhappy.

Sri Chinmoy: Why do you think that you have come late to God? Just because you have only recently joined our Centre, you may think that you have come here late. But this is not correct. When you come, that is your time — not when the Centre was inaugurated.

Everybody has a special hour of his own. When the hour strikes for you, that is your time. If the hour strikes for somebody else two years earlier, then that is his time. Inwardly you will know when your hour has struck. Let us say that fifteen years ago you inwardly felt a very strong pull toward the spiritual life; you felt that without God, you could not last on earth even for a fleeting second. If you had that kind of aspiration but did not go to any spiritual Master or follow any path, it means that fifteen years you have wasted. Therefore, God will be displeased with you. He will say, "I gave you a golden chance to come out of ignorance, but you did not value it."

But in your case, you don't have to feel at all sorry, because God did not give you that intense aspiration fifteen years ago. But now God has given you the aspiration. Now God has knocked at your door and your time has come. Before you were sleeping, but now God wants you to get up. If you say, "Don't disturb me, don't bother me, I want to sleep," then God will be displeased with you. But you are not sleeping, so you should not feel at all sorry. The time has dawned for you and you have awakened. But if the time comes and you neglect it, if you refuse to accept it, then you are making a very serious mistake.

So do not worry. You have done absolutely the right thing. If I have accepted someone, then it is the proper time for him. Do not feel depressed or deserted. You have God's infinite Love and Blessings. If two or three years ago He did not ask you to do something, it is not your fault. You are listening to the inner request of the Supreme at this time, so you are doing the right thing. Don't feel at all depressed or sorry, That applies to all of you. It is only the one who comes late who will feel that he has missed the boat.

Now you are in the Boat of the Supreme, so you are safe; you are bound to reach the Golden Shore. But on the way, if you become depressed or doubtful and you jump out of the Boat, then again you will fall into the sea of ignorance. There are quite a few who have come and gone. But in comparison to the number of people who have stayed with us, the number who have left is next to nothing. I have been extremely careful right from the beginning. If I had wanted to, by this time I could have had thousands of disciples. But I am very selective. As soon as people hear our standard, they find it too difficult. Even our outer standard is difficult. If people find our path very difficult, it is all right; God wants us to follow this path.

Question: Could you speak a little about how a new disciple should handle the pleasures and problems of daily life?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us deal with problems first. First you have to ask whether or not these problems that you now have existed before. Immediately the answer will come: yes. So how is it that now you are aware of them, and at that time you were not aware of them? You have to know that when you live an ordinary, unaspiring life, the hostile forces are clever. They know that you are at their mercy. They know your capacity; they know that you are in ignorance and at their feet. So they say, "All right, since he is sleeping, let us not bother him." But the moment you are up, they are going to attack you.

There are many seekers who complain to their Master, "Before we accepted the spiritual life, we had fewer problems. Now that we have accepted the spiritual life, our problems have increased. But it is not true. They must know that these same problems they did have; only they did not consciously want to conquer them. That's why they were not aware of them. If you don't want to conquer something, then you are fast asleep and the problem is fast asleep. But now that you have entered into the spiritual life, you are challenging all your problems. Since you are challenging the problems, the hostile forces stand with them and try to fight you. They feed the problems so that they can continue the fight. But these forces know that they will not be able to conquer you. Only they will try to delay, delay. So you have to challenge them.

Before you accepted the spiritual life, you thought that the life of ignorance, the life of pleasure, was the right life. You looked around and you saw that everybody was enjoying the life of pleasure. You said, "So what is wrong with me? If my friends, my neighbours, and everybody is in the same boat, then I don't want to be an exception." But now that you have accepted the spiritual life, you feel that the life they're leading is not meant for you. You have got now an inner call, a higher call. You can't be with them. Yes, you stayed with them for fifteen years or twenty years. Now the time has come for you to follow something else, to do something else. If you don't accept problems as such, how are you going to conquer them? If you try to avoid problems, they will come to you with more power. Most vehemently they will come and attack you. So you cannot hide from your problems. You have to conquer them here and now. If you wait and say, "No, tomorrow I will have more strength, and then I will be able to conquer my problems," I tell you that that tomorrow will not come. Each second is a golden opportunity, and if you misuse this golden opportunity, then you are strengthening unconsciously the forces of ignorance.

Now, about the life of pleasure. You have to know what you have received or achieved from the life of pleasure. Immediately you will say, "The life of pleasure has given me one thing and that is frustration." Even if you remain in the ordinary life, the unaspiring life, if you are sincere then you will say, "All I have gained from this life of pleasure is frustration." And then what happens? You see that there is no hope of coming out of this frustration unless and until you are destroyed totally.

What today we call frustration, tomorrow will be destruction. We started our journey with temptation. Then, in temptation there was pleasure. And inside pleasure is destruction. After destruction, what remains? Nothing. So the path of pleasure is the negative way of proceeding.

Then there is a positive way. That positive way is aspiration. What is aspiration? Aspiration is the inner cry that makes us feel that we have come from the infinite Peace, Light and Bliss and that we still embody this infinite Peace, Light and Bliss, only we have to bring these qualities to the fore. Now, unconsciously we have these qualities. Unconsciously we have someone called God. But spiritual life means our conscious awareness of God.

You have the treasure within you, but you have misplaced it. When you misplace something, you search for it, but you may not find it immediately. So you ask your friend, your dearest friend, to help you search: "I have lost something; will you search for it along with me?" The friend comes, and since he is more expert than you in finding things, he finds it for you. Who is that friend? He is your spiritual Master. Once he finds your treasure, he does not take it away from you. He will not dare to take it away from you just because he has found it on your behalf. A spiritual Master is like that. He finds your inner treasure for you, and then his role is over. Your role is only to thank him. He finds it for you, then it becomes your treasure. You just thank him.

The life of pleasure has to be replaced by the life of aspiration. In aspiration is the real treasure, the realisation that you come from the Infinite, that you are in the Infinite and that you are for the Infinite Truth and Light.

Each person has a friend and an enemy. If he aspires, then he feels that desire is his enemy and aspiration is his friend. If he does not aspire, if he is leading a life of desire, then he feels that desire is his friend and aspiration is his enemy. He is familiar with desire, even if it is not fulfilling him, he is aware of its reality in his life, whereas aspiration is a stranger to him. So he feels that desire is his friend. But eventually each individual will realise that his one and only friend is aspiration. There will come a time when each individual will feel that realisation does exist, that God does exist. And when that time comes, he will dive into the sea of spirituality and claim the life of aspiration as his own, his very own.

Question: Why do we sometimes think that we are in a bad consciousness or a good consciousness and later you tell us we were in a different consciousness?

Sri Chinmoy: Today we had a divine competition among ten disciples to see who did the best meditation. Do you think that there is anybody who did not hope that he would be first? The student cannot be the judge. On many occasions his intellect works and he thinks that he does extremely well. But I am dealing with your soul. I am not dealing with your mind or physical or vital. I am interested only in the consciousness that is in your heart, in your soul. If you had thoughts just for a few seconds, it will not affect your consciousness. If your board is white and you have touched one spot with a dark finger, I may not see the spot. I see the large view, the whole wall. You are seeing where you have put the dot, but I am not seeing that portion. With my compassion I am seeing the whole wall. But if you make a spot again and again and again, then I see that you are the culprit.

Question: How can we deal with the discouragement that comes from trying to sustain a lot of activities after we get physically exhausted from the pace?

Sri Chinmoy: Why should we be discouraged? Discouragement is not something that can help us. Anything that does not help us we must not take as our friend. Let us take discouragement as our enemy. Once we take it as our enemy, we won't allow it to enter into our system. But right now we feel that discouragement is something necessary in our life. It is something very pleasant. Sometimes frustration gives us joy. Depression gives us joy. But these are all negative things.

If we are discouraged, immediately we have to feel that an enemy has entered into us. We are all God's children and we have no enemies. But we have to know that right now there are things that are standing in our way, which can make us helpless. So the best thing is to take them as enemies; in this way we will always be alert. Once we have conquered these forces, at that time they will not be our enemies; they will have no power. But right now discouragement, frustration and depression are more powerful than we are, and we have to consider them as our enemies. When we conquer them, then they become ours.

Very often our good qualities are captured by the undivine qualities. In the morning we have aspiration to get up, but then lethargy comes and we do not get up until seven or eight o'clock. So the bad forces have won. But again, if the good forces increase our aspiration to get up early in the morning, at that time even if the wrong forces come and tempt us to sleep a few minutes more, still we get up. Then lethargy is conquered.

So in the beginning we have to take discouragement and other wrong forces as our enemies, until we have conquered them. What does an enemy do? An enemy makes us alert and an enemy makes us perfect. A friend does not make us perfect; it is an enemy that makes us perfect. You have told millions of lies, true; but your friend will not point out one lie, one weakness of yours. That kind of thing your friend is not going to do. If he is really a spiritual friend, then he may point it out; but if he is an ordinary friend he will say, "No, if I tell him, then I will hurt him and I will lose him." Spiritual Masters are the real friends of the disciples. Very often they become blunt. They tell the disciples what their weaknesses are. The Master says to the disciple, "Even if I lose you as an individual, God is not going to lose you. So let God take care of you."

Question: When we set our alarm and we don't get up to meditate, what should we do?

Sri Chinmoy: When the hour comes, feel that it is the most important moment in your life. When we sail in a boat with others, we should be fair to the boatman and the passengers. The boatman is ready, but one passenger is delaying. It is time to sail the boat, but although the boatman shouts and screams, that person is not getting up. We are a spiritual family. If one member is delaying everyone, it is your duty to scold him and say, "What are you doing? For you we shall all be delayed." If someone does not get up, at times I have shown a compassionate face and at times I have shown a face of displeasure, irony or terrible disgust, or I have scolded the person mercilessly. If some close disciples do not get up in the morning, I will first show a sad face and then a distressed face. Nothing works permanently, but sadness sometimes works for a few days. If somebody sees my sad face, then he will make every effort to meditate for a few days. Again, some people feel that they don't need to meditate regularly. So what can I do? No matter what kind of sadness or distress I show them, they will not meditate regularly,

Question: When we meditate you ask us to keep our eyes open and look at you. But so many times the physical world disappears and I have to make an effort to bring it back into focus.

Sri Chinmoy: Why do you have to bring it back? When did I say you have to look at me? I only ask you to keep your eyes open. If you keep your eyes open when I bring down Peace or Light, then immediately it convinces your physical mind. Otherwise, in the name of meditation you will enter into sleep, and no matter what I bring down you remain in the oblivion-world. If you keep your eyes open, how long can you daydream? An insect will come along and bite you. Somebody will make a noise. There are many things to keep you awake. But when you keep your eyes closed, automatically you are surrendering to a kind of sleep. You think you are meditating, but you are in the sleep world. If you can keep your eyes open, you can receive continuously. Otherwise, it is better to keep them half open. Some disciples keep their eyes open, but they are daydreaming. Some, as soon as they close their eyes, go to the other world. When I first started meditating in 1944, for the first few months I was inwardly commanded to keep my eyes open. Then I developed the capacity to meditate with my eyes closed or open. But I feel that meditation with the eyes open is the meditation of the lion. If you can meditate with your eyes open, that means you are a lion. You can devour any wrong forces around you. If you keep your eyes closed, you are meditating like a cat. Anybody can come and devour you. When you have the lion-meditation, you can see a monkey moving around and you are not affected. But if you keep your eyes closed and somebody touches you, you may think that somebody has come to stab you and be frightened to death.

Part IV — The jewel of humility: an interview

JH 22-33. The following is drawn from an article entitled "The Jewel of Humility" which appeared in the November 1975 issue of the New Age Community, a monthly publication published by the New Age Community Centre in Vancouver, B. C., Canada. The New Age Community staff interviewed Sri Chinmoy at the Vancouver International Airport as he was departing after a brief visit to Victoria, where he had given a talk on the devotional path of life. (The New Age Community is hereafter referred to as NAC.)

NAC: It is a great honour to meet you; we've heard a lot about you over the years. What does your work generally consist of?

Sri Chinmoy: My work is love and my work is service. I try to love mankind and I try to serve mankind according to the limited capacity that God has granted me. To love Him in aspiring mankind and to serve Him by serving mankind — this is my only work.

NAC: What shape does your activity take in that service?

Sri Chinmoy: We have about sixty Centres all over the world. From time to time I visit all the Centres and they keep inner contact with me. I have written over two hundred fifty books. I go to the United Nations twice a week and hold meditation for the delegates and the members of the staff. I try to serve mankind in the community of nations according to my inner capacity, which I call my devoted soulful service. This is what I do. Everywhere I try to serve and whenever I get an opportunity to serve, I feel my life on earth is worth living.

NAC: Do you relate to the politicians at the United Nations?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes and no. Not in their political capacity. But when they come to me as seekers, since I myself am a seeker, I can talk to them on a spiritual level — but not on a political level. Politics is not my forté, whereas I know a little bit about spirituality. So, when the politicians come to me as seekers, I try to offer light to them.

NAC: Are there many politicians seeking actively?

Sri Chinmoy: That is a difficult question to answer. There are some politicians who do not want to disclose their names, but they do take my help secretly. They don't want to be exposed; they don't want to attach themselves to the so-called religious or spiritual life. But when we have soulful meetings, they come and join us in their capacity as seekers and not in their capacity as politicians.

NAC: From the point of view of a lot of people, the world is a very cruel and negative place and their consciousness is not in a position to absorb the negativity. What can you say, or what service can we perform ("we" in the largest sense of the word) to help with that situation?

Sri Chinmoy: I fully agree with you. What we should do is to cultivate more soulful patience. Right now the world is far from perfection. It is an almost half-animal world that we are living in. We are constantly quarrelling and fighting. But again, there is an inner cry in us to do something, to become something, to grow into something that will give us abiding satisfaction. This inner cry is something that wants to transcend what we have now and what we are now. But perfection does not come into existence overnight. It takes time. What you need, what I need, what others need, is one thing: soulful patience. We have to know that patience is not something weak. If we are patient, it does not mean that we are forced to surrender to the hard reality of life. No, it is inner wisdom. Our inner wisdom needs patience, a length of time. It is like a seed. As soon as we see a seed, we expect the seed to grow into a plant and become a tree, a huge banyan tree. But the seed takes time to germinate and gradually become a plant and then a tree. If we have the vision of our patience, then one day we will see that truth will manifest and grow into Reality. So what the entire world needs is soulful patience. Then the truth can grow in its own way.

NAC: When one is engaged in a way of life which is not satisfactory to the person and one feels the first tug to begin seeking (I am asking this question because a great many people who will be reading this interview will be in that position), one has the impulse to do something. The philosophy and the ideals and so on make some sense, but here in the West people have the impulse to do something and make it happen. Is there anything practical, direct, that you can suggest for someone to do?

Sri Chinmoy: Here I wish to say that the best policy is to first become something and then do something. First achieve, then give what you have. This is the golden rule. First you become the fruit, the most delicious fruit, and then you offer yourself for everybody to eat. But in cases where one is being guided by a higher force, a special rule applies. If the higher force says, "I need you as my instrument," or "I have accepted you as my instrument, so you please me in my own way," at that time the process is reversed. In that case, if the Inner Pilot or spiritual Master tells you, "Do this," then in the process of doing you are becoming. When this happens, then you have to listen to the dictates of your Master, for the Master is representing God for you. When Krishna says to Arjuna, "Surrender to me, I will do everything for you," at that time Arjuna is only an instrument. Here Arjuna has obtained free access to the Inner Pilot. The Inner Pilot says, "Do this, and in the process of doing, you will become what I want you to become." But you have to know whether you really have free access to the Inner Pilot or not.

NAC: Most of our minds are so confused and our bodies so tense that we can't listen to the inner self, or even if we can, there are so many conflicting voices that we don't know which one is true. How can we cut through all that?

Sri Chinmoy: It is a most interesting question. The mind here creates tremendous problems for us. If we want to recognise the message or the voice of the Inner Pilot, then we have to know one thing: As soon as we get the message of the Inner Pilot, we will see that this message is giving us inner joy and inner satisfaction. Then, as soon as we carry out the message, the message will bear fruit in the form of success or failure. But if we can take the result with the same cheerfulness, the same amount of inner strength, inner courage and equanimity whether it is success or failure, then we can be certain that the message to do this deed came from the soul. Otherwise, we will be raised to the skies if something comes in the form of success and we will be doomed to disappointment if failure appears. So, if the message comes directly from the deep inmost reaches of our heart, from our soul, then the result will not be important. If we can see both success and failure as an experience which is helping us to grow into the supreme Reality, if we have that kind of feeling for the message that is coming forward, then we are getting the message from within, from the Inner Pilot.

NAC: Are you optimistic about the future of humanity?

Sri Chinmoy: One hundred percent optimistic. God, I know, will not allow us to ruin His creation. We are His creations; nobody likes to destroy his own creations. We are God's children. We may do everything wrong, but out of His infinite Bounty, God will give us eternal time to turn over a new leaf.

NAC: Do people look to you and bow to you as Master?

Sri Chinmoy: They look to me and bow to the Supreme. I always tell them: everybody's Master is God, and this Master is inside me and inside you. When they bow to me, I know who is getting it — it is the Supreme in me — and when I bow to you, I know who is getting it — the Supreme in you. Not to me, not to the body, not to Sri Chinmoy but to the Inner Pilot of Sri Chinmoy they bow, and I bow to the Inner Pilot of their own existence.

NAC: What shall we do with these characters who go around calling themselves "perfect Masters"? How shall we talk to them?

Sri Chinmoy: I am not the right person to pronounce judgement. Everybody knows what is good for himself. I know what is good for myself; they know what is good for themselves. They are doing the right thing according to their receptivity and inner light. We are trying to do the best thing according to our own inner light. We are all responsible for our own rooms. They are responsible for their rooms; I am responsible for my room; you are responsible for your room. You can come to see what I have in my room. I have no right to say what they have in their rooms.

NAC: You appear in the Vancouver Airport as an ordinary, middle-aged businessman in your summer suit. Why is that? Why are you not clad in your Indian robes and all that?

Sri Chinmoy: When I am holding a meditation, I wear Indian robes, because this makes it easier for the seekers to identify me as a spiritual teacher. If I am in need of a policeman, I look for someone wearing a policeman's uniform. If I see someone in a policeman's uniform, I immediately have confidence in him. So when I hold meetings at the United Nations and elsewhere, I wear Indian robes in order to represent outwardly what I inwardly am. Inwardly I know that I am a spiritual person, a seeker, twenty four hours a day. I don't have to wear Indian robes to know who I am. But for the seekers I do it.

NAC: I don't know if it is possible, but do you feel any sort of urge to create a song right now?

Sri Chinmoy: I can sing you a significant song, a song which has stood first out of hundreds of songs: " O my boatman, do carry me to the golden shores of the Beyond."

Sri Chinmoy sings a beautiful song in Indian style and dialect. Then he says: I am extremely grateful to you for having given me the opportunity to be of service to the aspiring mankind through your own most exemplary practice and spiritual discipline.

NAC: Thank you. God bless you.

From:Sri Chinmoy,The jewel of humility, Agni Press, 1979
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