I love my country: Purity's Body

Part I: Discourses

America in her depths

> Of what use to me are the things that cannot make me immortal?

Thus, in her longing for Immortality, Maitreyi, the great woman of the Upanishads, rejects the riches of the world. By Immortality she does not mean the continuity of her human existence, but a life to be lived forever in her soul.

India's history is aglow with stories of kings and potentates who enjoyed power and opulence without being in the least attached to them. Rajarshi Janaka was not an isolated example. Prince Siddhartha, afterwards the Buddha, and Emperor Asoka, are other such outstanding figures in India's history.

Of all the nations in the world today, America is the one which, in the modern context, stands forth uniquely as the one most fit for the ideal of Janaka, Siddhartha and Asoka. By the flow of her wealth America has restored shattered Europe, not once but twice. Impoverished India has been helped towards her goal of achieving minimum conditions of life for her vast millions through large-scale and repeated American aid. Many other countries, large and small, have shared in America's munificence. Not only her generosity but also her ever-progressive mind and dynamic spirit have been an asset to the whole international community.

A little over a century after achieving her independence, America accepted into her wide-open heart a wandering young Sannyasi's message. The fact that Swami Vivekananda's message on the pervasive oneness and unity of all creation was appreciated and understood at the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893 showed, nearly a century ago, the character of America's evolving progressive spirit.

This very spirit, being the essence of her national Self, is bound to transcend its present limits and soar to the heights of spiritual oneness. In the works of her advanced thinkers there are already indications of her mental growth towards the summit of her evolution, a summit which will manifest the successful spiritual transformation of her life and thought. She may well be the first to respond to the call of God, to the unique task of self-transmutation into the consciousness of the Soul. If in a post-war world she has been a great helper, what role will be hers in the world of tomorrow, when God's Voice will be heard speaking through all human lips?

Every nation has its soul. The soul of a nation consists of its aspirations, aptitudes and capacities placed at the service of the Supreme. Judging by her history, America holds the brightest promise of placing at the service of the Divine her aspirations, aptitudes and capacities, as she has often, in times of need, placed them at the service of humanity.

Now that a spiritual awakening is upon the world, it is only a question of years — and certainly not centuries — before its golden glint falls on the face of every nation. The Divinity now hidden beneath the surface will shine forth, to a greater or lesser degree, upon each one.

Until now the world has seen largely the surfaces of American life, and it has formed its opinion accordingly. Not that her depths have not occasionally come to view, but such occasions have been few in relation to the vastness and variety of her population. Needless to say, there are great indications of a greater future; and as the Hour of God dawns and advances towards its fulness, the splendour of America's soul will show more and more on the surface, even for crude eyes to see.

It is not only for political and economic purposes that the divine logic of events has brought India and America close together. What is visible in these external aspects of life will be seen in an incalculable measure on deeper levels in days to come. America is perhaps not conscious that in taking a major part in the economic rehabilitation of India she has been building up the base of a divine new world. And if America is doing so much for the base, she cannot but do much more for the superstructure. Then prosperous America will be doubly prosperous, spiritual prosperity being added to her material wealth, with both nourishing and serving the highest cause of a Divine New Creation.

Spirituality and patriotism

National feeling, international feeling and universal feeling. National feeling is good. National feeling helps us in our journey. If we did not have national feeling, we would remain fast asleep in our limited egos. Then comes international feeling. International feeling shows us that we belong to one community on this globe. Last comes universal feeling. This world is not God's entire creation. He has other worlds as well, and our world and those other worlds are all one. This is universal feeling. From national feeling we go to international feeling, and from international feeling to universal feeling — not the other way around. We are all spiritual people, which means we have a universal feeling. And if we have a universal feeling, this means that we also have love for our country.

After accepting the spiritual life, some people feel that if they sincerely love their country in the purest sense of the term, they will be ridiculed or called fanatics. But don't believe this. Patriotism is the supreme love and concern for a particular place, a particular soul and a particular body-consciousness of the world. To love one's country is of paramount importance. There are millions of souls and there are hundreds and hundreds of countries and nations on earth. How is it that your soul selected one country and not another? It is your bounden duty to do something for the country that your soul has selected.

From the spiritual point of view, patriotism is love of one's own country, love of one's source. Your parents are your source; in the same way, your country is also your source. As a soul, you were staying in the soul's region. Then you wanted to take human incarnation and you needed a country. The place that invoked your soul, the place that out of love, out of joy, out of kindness and concern agreed to accept you as its very own, that place deserves your heart's and soul's adoration while you are in the body. Patriotism is self-enlargement, self-expansion and, at the same time, self-giving to the source. This self-enlargement takes place in the divine way; it is not enlargement of ego. The self-giving and self-offering of patriotism come from the feeling that other countries can derive some light from your own country's awakening. Patriotism is self-giving and self-expansion based on your conscious oneness with all consciousness, your inseparable oneness with all. That is the meaning of patriotism in the spiritual sense.

Patriotism is undivine only if there is no real sincere feeling behind patriotism, if in the name of patriotism you just go and condemn or strike other nations and try to lord it over them. It is fanatic patriotism if you say that you and your country are by far the best, that there is no nation which is pure, divine and spiritual except yours. If you feel that only you and your nation exist, that others are all bad, undivine and impure, that only your country represents truth and God and that the rest of the countries are all bad — if you have that kind of patriotic feeling, then it is really undivine.

From patriotism, from the feeling of nationalism, we go to internationalism. To a child, his mother is his whole world. He discovers his whole world in his mother and father. For a few years his parents are his main concern and then his high school, his college and the town or city where he lives. Then he feels that the nation is his whole world. All the time his vision is increasing. When he widens his vision, he sees that the whole world belongs to him. Then he hears the word "spiritual," and he feels not only the necessity of progress inside his own house but also the necessity of world progress.

In this way, starting with nationalism, one eventually progresses to an international feeling. But if I don't love my nation, I am not going to love other nations. One can and must go from the one to the many. In our case, to love other nations is, let us say, obligatory because we have already started with an international feeling. We feel that it is our bounden duty to offer our service to the entire world. The length and breadth of the world is ours because we have realised that we have a Source which is all-pervading, which is all-where, and because we would like to be an emanation of this Source. To be all-where is to have an international feeling and, after that, the universal feeling of inseparable oneness. This is not only practicable, but in the course of time, inevitable.

Spiritual seekers are those who go to the highest and then, if they really care for their friends, neighbours, relatives and dear ones on earth, they come down and distribute the truth they got at the top of the tree. You know how to climb up the tree of spirituality and you find some delicious fruits at the top. But you see that there are others, your dear ones, who do not know how or who do not want to climb up the spiritual tree. So you bring down the fruits and share the fruits with them. If you share these fruits with them, then your spirituality and their patriotic feeling will go together. In this way spiritual seekers of the highest order offer light to those who love their country.

So you cannot separate your country from your spiritual life. As you have accepted the spiritual life, even so you have to accept your country. You have to accept it as your very own. In each country there are some nice people and some bad people, some divine people and some undivine people. For now, we will mix only with the divine people. We are seeking, but we ourselves are not strong enough spiritually. If we mix with those who are receptive to our light, then they will receive our light and become strong and our army will be enlarged with more members. Then we can approach the undivine ones, not with the hope of destroying them — far from it — but with the hope and determination to illumine them. But first we have to get the message from within. The Supreme will tell us when the hour has struck for us to try to illumine our brothers and sisters. When we get the inner command, we have to go and be of service with understanding, vision and illumination. But until the hour strikes, we have to remain with those who are receptive. We can't go now to everyone, so we shall gather only with people who are receptive.

Patriotism and government

When we talk about patriotism, we talk about our feelings for our mother country, our motherland and fatherland. Here we have to feel that we are referring to our connection with the mother — the mother earth and mother country — not with the individuals who govern the country. Inside each individual, as well as inside the collectivity, there is a soul. We have to love the soul, not the body. In some cases the government is very nice. In some cases those who have formed the government are very undivine. But we are not dealing with individuals who may be corrupted or who may be corrupting the nation. If the body is deliberately taking the side of ignorance, if the body is bad, we shall not appreciate the body. But we have to know that the soul is always divine; no soul is undivine.

If a country is being governed by people who are undivine, we shall not admire them, we shall not appreciate them, we shall not even pity them. We shall only pray to the Supreme to illumine them or pray to God to dethrone them so that good people can take their place and bring beauty, light, peace and bliss to the country. If somebody bad is destroying our country, either we have to pray to God to illumine him so that he does not destroy it or we have to pray to God that someone else who wants to receive and distribute light will replace that person. We have every right to do this because we love our country. Our love for our country will not permit a few individuals to torment it or to ruin the possibility of its developing its potential and capacities and making a real contribution to mankind.

Again, we have to know that each individual can be divine in the morning and undivine in the evening or divine for half an hour and undivine for half an hour. If the individual has some bad qualities, inside him there are some good qualities as well, and we shall associate his good qualities as well as his bad qualities with him. There are some politicians who have exploited their country. We have to go deep within to see if they have done something good as well. Even if they have done one good thing, one nice thing, this has to be appreciated. True, one government leader may have done something very, very bad, but we can't discard him if he has also done something really great. If that individual has done wrong, he has to be illumined.

He is just like us. This moment perhaps doubt assails us and the next moment good thoughts, a wish for self-sacrifice, concern for humanity, enter into us. Even if the government leader is not perfect, we should associate with him in hope that we can identify ourselves with his divine qualities. We shall not associate with his bad qualities. We have to separate the person from his actions. We want to love his good actions and not identify with his bad actions. Someone may be in ignorance, but we have to know that the good, responsible things that he has done have come from his divine life. If he has done something divine, we have to appreciate it and identify with it. Each moment we need a sense of discrimination. If something is bad, we shall not identify ourselves with it. But we shall not discard it either; we shall try to illumine bad qualities into good qualities.

Politics is not bad. Nothing is totally bad in itself. But who is running politics? Government is not bad, but who is the head of the government? Now, we can't separate spirituality from politics. It is true that the corrupt politics we see all over the world is a far cry from spirituality. But our philosophy says that we have to accept the world. If everything is bad and we stay away from it, then we are not changing the face of the world. On the other hand, we have to know how much capacity we have. I have realised God; that is why I am standing in front of you to give you illumination with my capacity. If I had not realised God and if I came to teach you people about God-realisation, naturally I would be fooling you and one day I would be caught.

If a spiritual Master feels that a particular seeker is gifted and blessed with political capacity and if he sees that the disciple's own country is being ruined by undivine people, then if it is God's Will, the Master has to ask the disciple to run for election. The seeker will be advised by his Master to enter into politics and the Master will guide him. There have been one or two spiritual Masters who have guided their disciples like this. The seekers were practising spirituality in the purest sense of the term, but their teachers discovered that these particular disciples had political capacities, so they advised them what to do in order to make a new government.

First we have to know how much spiritual power is at our command. Then we have to see whether the rest of the people — this party and that party — are going to listen to us or not. We may know the truth, but we have to know whether the capacity of our truth is strong or not. We know what we are talking about and we do have enough light. But we have to see if people are ready to receive our light. If there are people who know our light is absolutely pure and is going to illumine and if they are ready to accept it, then we are in a position to act. If some people are ruining the country, it is then our bounden duty to dethrone them because we have the capacity and people are willing to accept our capacity. If people really want the divine light and they themselves feel that the country is being run by undivine people, at that time spirituality absolutely has to interfere. It has to interfere in every phase of life. There is no place where spirituality will not enter.

Right now we have the capacity and there are some friends or seekers with whom we can share our capacity. Yet even they don't want to accept our light. So how are we going to share our capacity with the world? We may feel that people around us are suffering, as we are suffering, and we may feel that they would like to have better government. But if we ask them, they will say, "No, we are quite happy." Similarly, when spiritual Masters come to humanity and ask humanity, "Are you happy?" People answer, "Oh, we're perfectly happy." They are wallowing in the pleasures of ignorance, absolutely fast asleep, but they say they are happy. So God tells them: "Stay as you are. This is the time for you to remain asleep." You are seeing that your friends and relatives are all suffering and you have some capacity. You say, "Please take help from me. Let us walk together and do the needful." But they say, "No, we are perfectly happy. We don't need your help. Let us remain as we are."

So this is how things are. Otherwise, all countries, the entire world, would accept spiritual life. Our spiritual philosophy says that if a group of people wants to accept light from one whose entire being is surcharged with peace, light and bliss, naturally those who are in darkness either will have to surrender to the light or the light will compel the darkness to surrender. But the light will not destroy the darkness; it will only illumine it. But we need the right people, and this means those who have receptivity.

If some individual stands with all his political capacity, all his spiritual capacity, and if he sees that not even ten persons around him will accept his light, then he must wait until God fixes an hour, His Choice Hour. At that hour, if this individual starts helping others and they accept his light, if they are many in number and if they surpass the undivine forces, then naturally it is going to be his kingdom. So we need only the right hour and the right people to receive and possess the light. At this time, how can there be any undivine people governing a country?

We say politics is bad and makes mistakes. We say we are bad — that our body is bad, our vital is bad, our mind is bad. Now, is there any way we can get rid of the mind, vital or body? No, we are stuck! Since we are stuck, the best thing to do is to illumine the doubting mind, the aggressive vital and the impure body. We have to try to purify and illumine our existence. Similarly, we have to regard people who are around us and who are running the government as our limbs, imperfect limbs. We have to illumine them, but only when we have the capacity and when they are ready to accept our capacity.

Part II: Questions and answers on patriotism

Question: In what manner does a large physical object, such as a mountain, show its patriotism towards the country that it is in?

Sri Chinmoy: Here we have to know the spiritual significance of a mountain. A mountain signifies aspiration. It is climbing up high, higher, highest. If something in a country aspires, the country receives the benefit. And the benefit, in this case, is nothing but patriotic feeling, for the country and patriotic feelings are inseparable. In this case the country represents the individual, and inside the individual is his capacity, which is patriotism.

Question: What does the soul of America think of patriotism?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul of America is extremely fond of patriotism and proud of patriotism because it was the patriotic feeling of some brave, divine human beings that brought about liberty in America. America's soul was in bondage. Its soul, its life of reality, could not come to the fore in the country as a whole. But there came a time when a few heroic divine soldiers felt the necessity of liberating their country. The soul of America came forward to offer its own light and delight to these brave souls. It got the opportunity to inject the feeling of patriotism into these few selected children of America so that they could be true and humble instruments of God and please God according to their capacity, their understanding and their inner and outer awakening.

Question: Why do Americans tend to be unpatriotic?

Sri Chinmoy: Unfortunately I cannot see eye to eye with your assumption. You think that Americans are unpatriotic precisely because some of your friends or countrymen pay no attention to patriotism. When they see people talking about patriotism, they feel that in the name of patriotism these people are becoming prosperous or well known, while true patriotic feeling, true love of their country they badly lack. There are people of that type, no doubt. But I wish to say that America on the whole has tremendous patriotic feelings. If there had been no patriotic feeling, there would not have been a revolution. Now we are observing the Bicentennial of this revolution because Americans do have these feelings.

Two hundred years ago it was America's personal need, immediate need, to be freed from English rule. Now America has a wider vision and that vision is called principle. Whether the principle is divine or undivine, perfect or imperfect, is up to God to judge. Only God knows which human principles are correct or incorrect. But America has a principle of its own and America feels that this principle comes from the very depth, from the inmost recesses of its heart. If that principle is thwarted or challenged, naturally America tries to prove the efficacy, the capacity, the reality, the divinity of that principle.

Whenever America's principles are attacked, America goes to fight for them. When two of your neighbours are fighting, you will naturally take the side of the one who has the same opinion as you. America did not enter the first world war until it saw that other countries needed help in order to preserve the principles of freedom that America stands for. Then America came to the rescue. America took the side of the Divine in both world wars. Is this not America's patriotic contribution to the world? If one country is attacked by another country and is going to be destroyed, if America comes to its rescue, what does it prove? It proves that America not only loves itself but loves other countries as well. America could have said, "Let us remain at peace." America could have remained peaceful during World War I. Only toward the end of World War II was America attacked, and at that time America could have fought only against her direct attackers. But America stood up for the entire freedom-loving world. America has that kind of wide patriotism. Patriotic feeling is not limited to one's own country. It is founded upon principle. You love your country and gradually your love of your country increases until it becomes a love of the entire world.

If there are some individuals who exploit the idea of patriotism, we can't say that Americans have no patriotism. Just because some Americans have a cynical attitude toward patriotism, that doesn't mean Americans have lost their patriotic feeling. Far from it. We see some individuals who have a cynical view of patriotism, but these people are very few. Unfortunately, if we see one bad person who is doing something very undivine while ten persons are doing a divine thing, instead of ignoring that one person we make a mountain out of a molehill. We pay attention to the one person who is undivine, and we ignore the fact that ten individuals are good, wise and divine. When one person in a group is not listening to the captain, everybody will pay attention to him, whereas to the ten who are listening devotedly, nobody pays any attention. Anything that is not disciplined, that is contrary to the proper rule, draws our immediate attention. We feed our curiosity by observing it and then we tell others that this is what the reality is. But reality is something which everybody must feel from within. And if we go deep within, we will feel that America does have a tremendous sense of patriotism.

Question: How can I increase my patriotism?

Sri Chinmoy: You can increase your patriotism by increasing your heart-power. Think of yourself as a climber who can climb up a tree. You know how to climb up the tree, but your little brother does not know how to climb. You climb up the tree and pluck a few mangoes from the top, and then you come down because you see that your younger brother does not know how to climb up. He is at the foot of the tree looking for a mango and expecting your return. He is eagerly waiting for you so that he can get a few mangoes from you.

You can climb up inwardly with your spiritual feeling and get a little peace, light and bliss. But then you see that your countrymen — your little brothers and sisters — need that peace, light and bliss in order to feed themselves, so you share it with them as much as you can.

You can increase your patriotism only by loving your countrymen more. If there are people who want to have the thing that you have received and achieved on a higher plane, if you bring it down and distribute it to them, that means that you love your countrymen. You have given what you have to those who really want and need it, but who are not in a position to get it by themselves.

Question: When we express patriotism, how can we still make it clear to people that we feel there is something higher and brighter that they should aim for?

Sri Chinmoy: You can make it clear to people that there is something higher, infinitely higher, and something brighter, infinitely brighter than patriotism when you practise that very thing: spirituality. If you practise spirituality your own face will radiate light. There will be an aura around you and people who are in patriotic life will ask you about the kind of life that you are leading. Spontaneously they will be inspired by the glow of your being. And then you will have plenty of opportunity to tell them on the outer plane that patriotism is undoubtedly a high rung in the evolutionary ladder, but there are rungs that are infinitely higher. But one has to climb up from the lower rungs to the higher rungs. One cannot all at once jump up onto the highest rung of the evolutionary ladder; it is not possible.

Question: What does patriotism do for the growth of an individual soul?

Sri Chinmoy: An individual soul, when it enters into the human body, usually is enveloped by the ignorance of the world. It is forced for a few incarnations to remain unrecognised by the vital — the emotional vital or lower vital or aggressive vital, even by the dynamic vital. But if one shows considerable interest in patriotism or aspires as a patriot, then in himself he discovers the message of self-expansion. He realises that he does not merely belong to his family or his friends and neighbours, but to the entire country. And from here he will come to realise that he belongs not only to his country, but to the world, to the vast universe.

Question: How can one be divinely patriotic to one's country?

Sri Chinmoy: To be really divinely patriotic to one's country one has to feel that patriotism is a divine gift which comes directly from God. If we use this gift properly, then we shall accelerate our inner progress, spiritual progress.

Question: How can America's leaders best foster true patriotism in the American people?

Sri Chinmoy: American leaders can best foster true patriotism only when they themselves are true patriots — not in name or word, but in action. True patriotism is self-giving for a higher and nobler cause. When the American leaders become truly self-giving at every moment, then whatever they do and say for their country will be for the betterment and improvement of their country and not for the aggrandisement of their own ego either consciously, subconsciously or unconsciously. At this time, American leaders without fail will foster true patriotism in others. Patriotism in the purest sense of the term will be injected into the heart of the entire American nation. For every action of theirs will be a conscious, constant self-giving to expand, enlarge and illumine the consciousness of America for America's sake and not for the glorification of any individual.

Question: What were the most prominent essential qualities of Thomas Jefferson?

Sri Chinmoy: The essential qualities of Thomas Jefferson were clarity, luminosity and vastness. Clarity, luminosity and vastness — these the Declaration of Independence embodies. Jefferson was the most divinely talented man of his time. He covered quite a few fields in every walk of life, and he went a considerable distance in each. In his case mind, body, vital, heart — everything — went together. This moment he was a musician, this moment he was a sculptor, this moment he was a man of brain, this moment he was a physical, earthly labourer. God gave him capacities in many walks of life and he used them well. Just today I was reading a book about Jefferson. In the first sentence it speaks about him as "the happiest man." To become the happiest man is the most difficult thing on earth, and that he was.

Question: When a seeker aspires, God reciprocates with Grace. When people of a country are patriotic, does that inspire God to shower a special type of Grace on that country?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly, without fail. When people of a country cultivate patriotism, that is to say, when they love their country devotedly and soulfully, then they definitely receive something special from God in the form of inspiration or aspiration. And this enables them to march much faster along the path of evolution than otherwise. When God selects a particular country for an individual soul, there is always a special significance to His choice, and when that individual consciously tries to please God by loving his own country, naturally God will shower boundless inspiration and aspiration on his devoted head and aspiring heart.

Question: In a country which is predominantly intellectual, what is the best way of inspiring soulful patriotism?

Sri Chinmoy: In a country which is predominantly intellectual, there can be and there always are some soulful seekers. These seekers must make it a point to consider the so-called intellectual giants as their little brothers, their younger brothers. The seekers must realise that they have some higher knowledge, superior knowledge, which the little brothers don't have. In the ordinary life when an individual is intellectual and has, let us say, a brilliant mind, we appreciate that person. In the ordinary life we see the height of mind. Mental achievement is much more appreciated than physical achievement. A labourer will work for hours, but he is not appreciated as much as a mental giant. A boxer will fight or a wrestler will wrestle for hours on the vital plane, but he is not as appreciated as a philosopher or professor. As soon as a mental giant stands in front of him, the wrestler will see his shortcomings. Those who are in the body or the vital, if they are sincere, feel that what they have achieved is not as important as the achievements of those who are in the mind. Because of their sincerity, they have surrendered their limited capacity to the mental capacity of others. But in the spiritual life, we have to know that the power of the heart is much more important than the power of the mind. The mind should be as sincere as the little members of its family. The mind should also feel that it has a superior, and that its superior is the heart. "If my younger brothers, my subordinates, listen to me, then I am obliged to listen to my superior." The seeker who is in the heart, whose knowledge comes directly from the soul through the heart, should be listened to by those who are predominantly intellectual. For those in the mind, it is their sincerity that will save them and illumine them. As the physical and vital people come to the intellectual people for guidance and do get considerable help, so also should mental people come to those who have established light in the heart and are crying for oneness with them.

Question: Is it more important to offer inner patriotic love or outer patriotic service?

Sri Chinmoy: Both are of paramount importance. Inner patriotism loves and outer patriotism serves. They must come simultaneously. If one has only outer patriotic service and there is no depth to it, if there is no inner feeling in it and it only involves shouting slogans and reciting a few patriotic poems or songs, then there is no living breath inside. So here we need the inner patriotic feelings, inner patriotic love. The inner patriotic love is the seed and outer patriotic service is the fruit. If there is no seed, how can there be a fruit? Now, there are some people who inwardly have true love for their country, but outwardly they don't want to manifest it. There are many who have true love for God, but they don't want to manifest it. When people don't manifest, they don't serve mankind. They are like the Indian Yogis who stay in the Himalayas and don't help outwardly, even though poor humanity badly needs their love, concern and illumination. So if one has true love for his country but does not want to manifest it, he is like the Yogi who cares only for his own salvation and illumination; he does not care for his country's salvation and illumination. But if he has real inner love, then his inner love must be manifested through outer service. Then only will his realisation really bear fruit. Otherwise, he is only for himself. His realisation is only for his own sake and not for his country's sake.

Question: Could you please tell us what the motto of America means from the highest spiritual point of view?

Sri Chinmoy: "In God We Trust." The motto itself is self-explanatory. Undoubtedly it is a spiritual motto. To say that in God we trust means that we trust in our own high, higher, highest reality. When we say in Him we trust, that means we are confident that the undivine in us, the lower part in us, will eventually be transformed and become as divine, as pure, as perfect as our highest reality. To say that I have faith in God means that I have given God my entire existence for Him to guide. Just by saying, "In God we trust," we don't feel that our part is over. No, when we say that we trust God, it means that we are consciously offering our life at the Feet of God, for God to mould and shape us. And who is God if not our own higher self. So this is a spiritual motto of the highest order.

Question: How can we have a patriotic feeling for our country when we are not one hundred percent behind the government?

Sri Chinmoy: One does not have to be one hundred percent behind the government in order to become a patriot. We have to know that it is not the government that we want to govern our country; it is the collective aspiration that will guide the country. If the government fails in fulfilling our aspiration, then we shall not look up to the government to guide us. It is the real in us that will guide the nation. By dint of fate, some individuals in the government are ruling the body of the country. But they are not ruling the heart of the country. We are given ample opportunities to illumine the fate of the country. When people in authority misuse their power, eventually they are dethroned. History bears witness to this fact; it bears witness to the fact that hundreds of kings, potentates, presidents and statesmen have all had to come down from the highest height because of their misuse of power. On your part as a seeker you have to create aspiration and inspiration in those of your countrymen who do not subscribe to the views of the government. It is not that you are rebelling against the government, but only that you have seen a higher light and you are offering your higher light in a spiritual way. You are offering it, not with any animosity or antagonistic feeling, but with the higher thought that you can better the consciousness of your country, and with that you are embarking on this new divine project.

Question: What qualities in particular made the American patriots so great?

Sri Chinmoy: The American patriots were great not because they felt that it was beneath their dignity to remain under the jurisdiction of the British, but because they felt that deep within them they had some truly divine spiritual qualities which could easily be brought to the fore. And when these divine qualities were brought to the fore, they felt that not only they would derive infinite benefit and profit from them, but that the whole world would derive benefit. The self-giving of the Founding Fathers was the wish not merely to come out from under the British yoke, but for something higher and deeper. True, first they had to be free from British authority, leadership and guidance. But they had something deeper in the inmost recesses of their hearts that they wanted to express, a higher truth that they wanted to manifest. They wanted to show that their liberty was not only for them to use but for the whole world to use. It was an ideal for the world to embrace, a real ideal in human progress that would stand among humanity's ultimate achievements.

These patriots who eventually became leaders of the country must be appreciated and admired infinitely more than the kings of Europe and other places in the world. Here they laboured and suffered and got the boon or result. When Washington was asked to become king, he did not want to become king. He knew what kings had done to his country. But it was not because of this that he refused to become king. He refused to become king because he only wanted to allow his name to be attached to something that he had worked for. He was willing to accept the presidency, although in fact he himself did not want to become president, because he had worked very hard for his country. He was ready to become leader of his country on the strength of his self-service and self-sacrifice for his country. In Europe if you are lucky enough to take birth in a palace, then no matter what kind of sacrifice you have made or what kind of mental capacity you have achieved, success is ready-made. Here in America it is not like that. You have to work very, very hard for what you achieve, but when you finally do achieve something, then the world appreciates you much more than those who succeed by virtue of being born into a particular family. Also, as individuals Americans get great joy in their achievements. How hard they have worked to become president! How hard they have worked to serve their country! When these people achieve something, they really value their achievement. If one becomes rich by his own work, he gets tremendous joy, whereas if he is born into the family of a multimillionaire, he will not get the same joy.

The American patriots were very noble souls. They never said they desired leadership, but God was moulding them for something. In their case, the word "God" was not uttered, but they spoke about "truth." Patriotism, if it is carried out properly, is truth. India's greatest patriot, Gandhi, said God and truth are the same. So, in the case of America, truth was the sole motivating force. But you have to know that practically every American president used the term "Almighty Father" in their inaugural addresses. The Almighty Father played His role in silence and in action in and through the leaders of America.

Question: Each nation says, "God is on our side." Which side is God really on?

Sri Chinmoy: God is really on the side of that particular nation that says it is on God's side. If a nation can sincerely say that it does not want God to be on its side, but that it wants to be on God's side, then God is definitely on that side. If a nation begs God to be on its side, it is because of ego and desire. But if a nation says, "I am always eager to be on Your side, whatever side You take," then immediately God has to be on that nation's side.

Question: At its best, what does patriotism do for the world consciousness?

Sri Chinmoy: At its best patriotism considerably elevates the consciousness of the world and accelerates its progress. Each country not only aspires but to some extent also embodies aspiration. If a country offers its patriotism to a higher reality or to an inner reality, then its patriotic aspiration definitely goes to God. But we have to know that an individual country can offer to God only what it has and what it is. It cannot offer more than what it has and what it is. A country, let us say, is like a child. A child has only a nickel; he has found a nickel on the road. immediately he sees the mother and runs toward her and gives her the nickel. She is his whole world. So what does the mother do? She gives the child a dollar. Similarly, even if a country has only limited aspiration, if that country offers what aspiration it has to God, He will give the country much more aspiration. If the child gives the father everything that he has, naturally the father will give him much more. But it must go to the right person. Even if its aspiration is very limited, if the country gives it to the Almighty Father, then He will definitely bless the country with infinitely more that He has received from it.

Question: Last week in Philadelphia when we visited Independence Hall and went through the rooms, I got a very strong feeling that I had been there before; and I want to know if my soul just was reacting patriotically or whether I really was there during the revolutionary period?

Sri Chinmoy: Undoubtedly you were there during the revolutionary period. Unfortunately, you were not one of the high-ranking military men or patriots. You had patriotism in abundant measure, but not in the capacity of a leader. You were a member of the infantry.

Question: If someone doesn't feel very patriotic, how can he increase his patriotic spirit?

Sri Chinmoy: There is only one way and that way is through prayer. When we need something, it means that we don't have it right now. So what do we do? We pray to God to grant it to us. If we don't have patriotism, we have to pray to God to grant us patriotism. It is only God who can eventually grant us the boon. There is no other way.

Question: How has the patriotic feeling in America changed since the American Revolution?

Sri Chinmoy: Undoubtedly, patriotic feelings in the past were infinitely stronger than what you observe now. The forefathers worked very hard and they became millionaires, but their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren felt that it was not necessary to work any more since they had already had so much wealth: physical, vital, mental wealth. In the days of the American Revolution, patriotism was something living. It was essential, like breathing air. But now patriotism — not only in America but all over the world — has become a mere word. India wanted to get out from under the British yoke, and your boss and our boss happened to be the same. We know how sincere our Indian patriots were once upon a time. They had the purest kind of patriotic feeling. Those patriots are now in Heaven, and the present-day patriots are no match for them. Similarly, here in America the patriots of the present are no match for those of the past. The American patriots of the past felt that life and patriotism were inseparable. They felt that patriotism was the manifestation of life's freedom, that it was the only way to love one's country. And they did not expect anything from the country. They only wanted to give what they had and what they were. Now, not only in America, but everywhere, everybody wants to take from their country. Nobody wants to give to their country. President Kennedy said: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Everywhere we expect from our country, but what have we done for it? Our forefathers did not expect anything from their country.

Question: Guru, if there is a difference between the souls of nations, does that mean that the word "patriotism" will have a separate meaning in, say, Australia as opposed to America?

Sri Chinmoy: The citizens of each country may have a different way of looking at their own country, but patriotic feelings are the same everywhere. The way patriotism is expressed in one country may be different from the way it is expressed in another country, but the essence always remains the same. The outer expression may not be the same, but the inner substance is identical. India's main approach was ahimsa, non-violence. The father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi, taught us non-violence. India thought that non-violence was the source-light. In silence India fought against violence, and actually it was this source-light that brought about India's freedom. Again, on the outer plane millions of people sacrificed their precious lives for their country, because their soul's light compelled them to. In the outer life each country may approach patriotism in a different way, or patriotism itself may lead or guide patriots in a different way. But the essence of patriotism will always remain the same in the sense that one always has to depend on and rely on the source, which is the soul of the country.

Question: From Heaven does a great patriot see his offering as an offering to a country or to God in general?

Sri Chinmoy: From Heaven, when a great patriot observes his offering as an offering, he sees it as an offering first to God and then to the country. If he is in Heaven, the patriot is in the soul, in the soul's world. And no matter what the soul does, it always feels that it is acting for the Supreme. Furthermore, it always feels that it is the Supreme that is acting in and through it. The offering directly goes to the Supreme Pilot. Even if the Supreme Pilot is not invoked outwardly and soulfully by the patriot, even if he has feelings only for his country and does not offer anything to the Supreme, still from the country his offering will go to the right person: to the Supreme. No matter what he offers, no matter to whom he offers it, eventually it will go to the Source, the Supreme.

Question: What is the spiritual significance of the colours red, white and blue in the American flag?

Sri Chinmoy: Red represents divine power. White symbolises purity or the consciousness of God the Mother, and blue signifies Infinity and spirituality, real spirituality. So real spirituality, real divinity, which is purity, and real power is there in the flag. Three most essential things the American flag embodies: divine power, divine purity and divine vastness or divine spirituality.

Question: Do children have a more spontaneous love for their country than adults?

Sri Chinmoy: No. Children have spontaneous love only for their mother and father and their brothers and sisters. Children do not and cannot know what their country looks like, what their country has to offer. It is the parents who inject the idea of patriotism and love of country. But children do not always remain children. When they are children it is the parents who teach them. It may happen that the patriotism that the parents teach is not enough, and when the children grow up, they have infinitely more love for their country than their parents. It is like someone who teaches in kindergarten. He can teach there, but he cannot teach in the primary school. But when you go on to get your highest degree, naturally you surpass your kindergarten teacher. Here, also, the parents may not have the deepest form of patriotic feeling, but whatever the parents give to their children is of paramount importance. If parents didn't teach the ABC's, how could children learn to read books? When the children grow up, they realise that what their parents said was absolutely right, but it was not enough. They have a more sincere hunger and their hunger now has to be fulfilled by their own aspiring life. The parents also had hunger, but their hunger was not as intense. But now that the children have a tremendous hunger, they have to feed themselves with their aspiration and sacrifice to their country.

Question: What is patriotism?

Sri Chinmoy: Patriotism is love of one's country, the country that has given one shelter, the country that claims one as her very own son or daughter. Patriotism is a golden opportunity for an individual to work together with his dearest motherland. When mother and son work together, they see their need of each other. The son needs the mother's sacrifice, sympathy, love and concern; the mother needs the son's heroism, dynamism and will-power. When all these divine qualities meet together, the country becomes a perfect instrument of God. Some countries are regarded as the fatherland. In these cases, the father's wisdom, height, light, peace, and bliss can meet with the dynamic qualities and boundless will power of the son. At that time perfection dawns in the particular country. Both the country and the child become perfect instruments, supreme instruments for God-manifestation on earth.

Question: How can we be patriots without separating ourselves from other countries?

Sri Chinmoy: I shall live in my own country, in my own home, and you will live in your own home. I will keep my house clean, and if you want to come, I shall welcome you as a divine guest and invite you to stay as long as you want to. I also will expect you to keep your house clean and welcome me when I want to come and visit you.

According to my experience and my capacity, I have built a house. According to your capacity, your talent, your aspiration and your determination, you have also built a house. Now our aspiration, capacity and ability have become one. We will come together, but your home will remain your home and my home will remain my home. While staying in my own home and loving my own home, I shall not criticise or belittle yours. I won't say that my home is far superior to yours. I will feel that mine is good for me and yours is good for you. When the time comes, you will visit my house and see what it looks like and I will visit yours. This means we shall accept each other and derive benefit from each other's experience.

When I love my country first, then my real power of love never becomes stagnant; it always runs, runs toward the Source, which is all-pervading. It is like a river flowing toward the sea. If I really love my country, then I will be able to love other countries, because by loving my own country I will learn to know what a country is to its children.

If I really love one thing, then I have the capacity to love something else. If I really love my body, I will some day have the capacity to love my soul or to love my vital or to love some other part of my being. But if I do not have love for myself, then I won't be able to love anybody. I won't even love God. Patriotism is a kind of expanding capacity. Today I love my mother, tomorrow I love my father, the day after tomorrow I love my brothers and sisters. Then, when I go to school, I love my teachers. Gradually I learn to love my town, then my province, then my country, then the whole world. But I start by loving one thing which is very close to me. From there my vision increases. From my mother I go to my father, then to my brothers and sisters and so on. But if I don't love my own country, how will I be able to love somebody else's country? If I really love my country, then gradually, gradually, I will be able to expand my consciousness until finally I love the whole world.

Divine love, true love expands and expands. It has the power of constant expansion. If I really love my country divinely, then I will have a cosmopolitan view; I will love other countries as well. But if I constantly and deliberately try to find fault with my country, then gradually I will try to find fault with my city and with the members of my family, with myself and everything I have. I will find that my nose is not beautiful, my eyes are not beautiful, my hands are not beautiful and so on.

We start by loving something small and gradually we learn to love the whole universe. For a child, his mother is the whole universe. Then, as he grows older, gradually his vision expands. That doesn't mean that he loves his mother less, but inside his mother he learns to see the whole world, little by little. Similarly, inside your country you can see the existence of all other countries. Then, if you love your country, naturally you will also love all the other countries that exist inside the heart of your own country. Inside the divine qualities of your own country you are bound to see the existence of other countries; for anything that is good is vast, anything that is divine is all-pervasive. And since patriotism is good and divine, it is vast, it is infinite, it is all-pervasive.

Question: If we love our country but live elsewhere, how can we serve our country?

Sri Chinmoy: If geography separates you from your country, you can offer your good will to the soul of your country. You are from South Africa. Do you think that your good will, your love, your concern in the inner world will not enter into the soul of South Africa? When a mother is in India and her son is in America working in an office, the moment he gets a letter from his mother his whole face changes, his whole consciousness changes. He swims in the sea of his mother's affection and love. Then immediately gratitude grows inside his heart; he becomes gratitude itself. And even if he has not received a letter, how many times his mother's consciousness enters into the son when she thinks of him with her boundless love and concern. The mother may be far away and busy with many projects, but she constantly feels the existence of her son inside her.

If you really love your country as a son loves his mother, geographically you may remain far away, but spiritually your mother-country can be inside you and you can be inside your mother-country. This feeling is not an illusion or a product of the imagination. Far from it! From the inner world you have come to the outer world. When you cherish a divine thought, the world is divine. When you cherish an undivine thought, the world is undivine. The moment you cherish a divine thought you are bound to feel your existence inside that world. The moment you think of your mother's love and concern for you, immediately you create a divine world of your own. And inside that world you feel the existence of your dearest mother. And when your mother thinks of you with all her affection, love, concern and blessings, she immediately creates a world of her own for you to exist inside her heart.

It is not the outer location but the inner feeling that is important. Where real concern exists, where real love exists, there the bond of oneness, inseparable oneness, reigns supreme. The son can stay in any part of the world and the mother can stay in any part of the world, but the bond of oneness which is inside their hearts can be felt and utilised at every moment. The mother will see the fulfilment of her existence inside the son no matter where he is. And the son will feel his success, his progress and the meaning and purpose of his life inside his mother.

Poems from the first edition

O green-blue Sacred Fire


O green-blue Sacred Fire,

O sun-Freedom-Light,

O Heaven's Goal-Delight, America,

O my child of speed,

My supreme Promise-Seed.


O Star-Spangled Banner


O star spangled banner of the Hour Supreme,

You are God's Sound-Delight.

In you is God's Silence-Might.

For you is the world-Pilot's Transcendence-Dream. ```

O sweet liberty


O sweet liberty,

O Eternity's divinity-day.

I know, I know,

You are earth-perfection's only way.

O sweet liberty, O sweet liberty,

You are blue Heaven's vision-seed.

I know, I know,

You alone are the world-hunger's unerring need. ```

From:Sri Chinmoy,I love my country: Purity's Body, Agni Press, 1975
Sourced from https://srichinmoylibrary.com/lmc