Part I: Questions and answers

LB 1-8. These questions were answered by Sri Chinmoy during a meeting with his Thai students on 13 December 1992.

Question: Thailand is a Buddhist country. Whereas we emphasise God and the soul on our path, the Buddhist philosophy on these matters is one of silence. Usually this silence is interpreted as meaning that God may or may not exist and that the soul may or may not exist. It would be very helpful for us to have your word on what the Buddha meant or intended.

Sri Chinmoy: Buddhists may not believe in the soul but they do believe in light. Lord Buddha spoke about inner light. For us, that light is the soul. The soul embodies illumination. So what they call light, we call the soul. It is like the sun and its flames. We use the word 'sun' and they use the word 'flames'. The flames come from the sun and, again the sun comes from the flames. The two are inseparable. I will call a flower 'phul,' and you will call it 'flower.' When I say 'phul' I will get one kind of feeling; and when you say 'flower', you will get another kind of feeling. But the flower remains the same.

It is the same thing with God. When we speak about God, we are referring to the Highest. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. The Buddhists use the term 'Nirvana.' Lord Buddha attained the state of Nirvana, which is the highest form of bliss. Perhaps only one person out of a million or a billion will know what Nirvana is. But everybody knows what silence is. So when Lord Buddha speaks about Nirvana, let us think only of silence. This silence that the Buddhists speak of is nothing other than God, for inside silence we see the whole creation. Inside God also we see the whole creation.

In absolute silence we are far beyond the mind. In this silence are peace, light and all the divine qualities. The Buddhists feel something in this silence that they want to grow into. Similarly, we feel something in God and are trying to grow into His Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. But those who follow Lord Buddha's path and those who follow our path are talking about absolutely the same thing. These are not dictionary words; they are realities that we can realise through prayer and meditation.

So the Buddhists speak of light and we speak of the soul. They speak of silence or Nirvana and we speak of God. But it is the same thing. People who are sincerely interested in our philosophy will have no difficulty when we speak of God and the soul. Just as the flower cannot be separated from its fragrance, so also the soul cannot be separated from light and God cannot be separated from Nirvana or silence.

From:Sri Chinmoy,Lord Buddha's Compassion-Hand, Agni Press, 1993
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