The soul's evolution

Part I — Discourse

What is the spiritual life?1

Here we are all seekers, seekers of the infinite Light and the eternal Truth. What does this mean? It means that we have accepted the spiritual life soulfully and consciously.

The paramount question is, "What is the spiritual life?" The spiritual life is something that is natural and normal. It is always natural and it is always normal, unlike other things that we come across in our day-to-day multifarious activities. The spiritual life is normal and natural precisely because it knows its Source. Its Source is God the infinite Light and God the eternal Truth.

When we follow the spiritual life, we come to feel that a life of peace need not always remain a far cry. We come to feel that a life of love, the love that expands, need not always remain a far cry. Everything that fulfils us divinely and supremely, we can achieve and claim as our very own if we follow the spiritual life.

Right now Peace, Light and Bliss in abundant measure we do not have at our disposal. But when we practise spirituality, when our inner cry, which we call aspiration, climbs up high, higher, highest, at that time Peace, Light and Bliss we get not only in abundant measure but in infinite measure. And we can achieve and treasure these divine qualities in the inmost recesses of our hearts. When we practise the spiritual life soulfully, devotedly and unconditionally, we try to bring to the fore the divinity that we all have. And this divinity is nothing short of our perfection.

Here we are all seekers. Each seeker represents the ideal and the real. The ideal is self-transcendence and the real is God's all-pervading Consciousness.

If we want to grow into the real and the ideal in us, we have to clean our mind thoroughly of the undivine thoughts that are constantly assailing us. And we have to empty our heart and fill it with infinite Light and Delight. Then God the Real and God the Ideal will be able to sing and dance in our aspiring being.

Here we are all seekers. We are all chosen instruments of the Supreme, our Beloved Supreme, the Eternal Pilot. We can prove this soulful statement of ours, not by words but by deeds, by our serving love and loving service.

Loving service. Our loving service can prove to the world at large that we are the chosen instruments of the Supreme, for the Supreme. When we love the Supreme soulfully, devotedly and unconditionally in our aspiring mind, we heighten our God-Height; and when we serve the Supreme soulfully, devotedly and unconditionally in our aspiring mind, we deepen our God-Depth.

Since we are the chosen instruments of the Supreme, our immediate necessity is God-realisation and our absolute duty is God-manifestation. In the fulfilment of our immediate necessity, we can become the torch-bearers of infinite Truth and the harbingers of God-Vision within us and without. In the fulfilment of our absolute duty, we discover that we are God-seeds and God-fruits. Let us offer our God-seed to the Supreme; let us place it at His Feet, so it may grow into a divine tree that can lift humanity to the highest transcendental Height. Let us also offer to the Supreme our God-fruit. Let us place our God-fruit at His Feet for His Manifestation, His total and complete Manifestation here on earth.

SE 1. Northwestern University, 17 December 1975

Part II — The soul's evolution

Question: Can you please explain the nature and the purpose of the soul?

Sri Chinmoy: Each soul is a direct representative of God. God is One, but He wants to taste Himself or enjoy Himself divinely and supremely in infinite forms. Here on earth we aspire in order to realise the Highest. There are many worlds, but God-discovery can take place only here on earth. In order to reach the Highest, the Absolute, we have to come here. Each person has a soul, and each soul has a nature of its own. The soul, the inner bird, the direct representative of God, comes down to earth in order to fulfil the promise that it has made to the Absolute in the highest plane of consciousness, Heaven. Each soul has to discover and manifest its inner divinity here on earth in a specific way. It is through the revelation of its own light that the soul manifests its inner divinity. A farmer needs a field in order to cultivate his crops. The soul comes down here on earth to farm and Mother Earth, Mother Nature, is the field. The body is a field, the vital is a field, the mind is a field, the heart is a field. The soul, the divine farmer, cultivates each field with Light, Peace, Bliss and Delight and from each field it expects a bumper crop of realisation. When the cultivation is over in each part of the being, the soul fulfils its promise to God to manifest divinity here on earth. When the body-consciousness or the body-field becomes fertile, and the vital becomes fertile, and the mind becomes fertile, and the heart becomes fertile, at that time the soul gets the greatest opportunity to manifest its divinity. So nature and soul go together. One is the farmer, the other is the ground for cultivation.

Question: Can you tell me what I was in my past life?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not necessary for you to know your past incarnations. When you accepted me as your Master, you turned over a new leaf in your life. All you have to do now is to practise obedience. If I say to do this, then immediately do it — not tomorrow or the next day, but immediately. If you do whatever your Master tells you, then you don't have to worry about your past lives or even your former life before you became a disciple.

Question: Sometimes when I go to a place I feel that I have been there before. What is the significance of this?

Sri Chinmoy: Most of the time it is mental imagination, but sometimes there is validity in it.

Question: Do the physical abilities we possess have anything to do with our achievements in our previous incarnations?

Sri Chinmoy: No, our physical abilities depend on how much determination, perseverance and aspiration we have. If we have very few abilities, it does not mean that we were undivine in our previous incarnations. No, it is only that some people don't try; they don't work hard. In this world nothing can be achieved without working very hard for it. Today I was very sad about the standard of our sports. It is not going higher. If this had been our first year of doing sports, I could say that we had no opportunity or facilities to train. But for the last few years we have been training and still our standard is not good. There has been no satisfactory progress.

Question: Is it because we don't practise all year?

Sri Chinmoy: We have to work very hard, very hard and with more determination. Only on rare occasions do people have the opportunity to practise throughout the year. But that is not our problem. In our case I don't see even one athlete with determination. You may practise shot-put for two hours but your consciousness, although not undivine, is so relaxed. It is as though you are performing a duty that you have been asked to perform. Our difficulty is neither lack of opportunity nor lack of time. Our difficulty is lack of determination. It is true that we don't have the utmost opportunity. Most of the time we go to bed at eleven or twelve at night. But at other ashrams it is the same. They have activities almost every night, so we can't say that that is the cause. Our difficulty is lack of determination. Otherwise, if we practised with determination two or three times a week, our standard would be bound to go higher.

Question: Will there always be an animal kingdom, a plant kingdom and all the other lower kingdoms?

Sri Chinmoy: This kind of thing may change if the process of evolution changes. At that time there would be no place for stones or plants in the evolutionary process. There is a possibility that one day the Supreme will change the process of evolution, but right now that is not His plan.

Question: The other night we were meditating and you asked us for the date and hour of our birth. Then you meditated on our exact hour of birth. I would like to know the real meaning of that meditation.

Sri Chinmoy: First, I asked all of you to tell me about your birthday. Then, when I knew your birthday, I put a special concentration on it and immediately entered into the day your soul took a physical body and came into the world. At that time my special blessings entered into the soul. I have the power not only to bless your physical body but to bless your soul also.

Question: Can we change our karmic law?

Sri Chinmoy: We can conquer the karmic law. We destroy the consequences of our past actions, of all the wrong things we have done, when we realise God. Through our meditation we first learn to deal with the results of our past lives. Then, eventually, we eliminate these results. Meditate well; go deep within. Ultimately you will be able to see with your third eye. When your third eye is opened up, you can destroy your past karma. It is through vision and through sincere effort that one can nullify his past.

Question: Do we suffer because of our past actions?

Sri Chinmoy: Suffering usually comes because of our previous actions. But sometimes we get suffering from the undivine forces around us. We are not responsible for this suffering. The world is still imperfect, the world is full of ignorance, and sometimes we are victims to these forces. So we can't say that all suffering is because of our own actions. Again, sometimes we unconsciously identify ourselves with others' sufferings. In the case of spiritual Masters, they consciously identify with mankind and then they suffer. From humanity they get inner arrows that try to kill their peace, light and bliss. But they cannot separate themselves from humanity and they consciously become part and parcel of humanity. In the case of ordinary individuals, unconsciously they share others' sufferings.

Question: Does the law of karma bind the soul and make the soul suffer?

Sri Chinmoy: The law of karma does not actually bind the soul; through karma the soul gets experiences. If I do something good, as a result I will have some deep, inner experience. If I do something bad, then my consciousness will go down. Though the law of karma can never bind the soul, it can delay or expedite the soul's progress. If a particular person does not follow the dictates of the soul, but constantly makes errors and Himalayan blunders, then naturally the progress of the soul is delayed. At that time you can say that the soul is suffering from the law of karma. But actually the soul does not suffer; it is the human being, the being which takes human form, that suffers. Again, if the person does everything according to the dictates of his soul, the law of karma will never bind him, for he will do only the things that are divine. It is the physical, the vital and the mind that compel or motivate us to say and do the wrong thing, never the soul.

Question: How much of illness is due to karma and how much is due to physical factors?

Sri Chinmoy: It is a very complicated matter. Sometimes the constitution of an individual is not strong, either because of hereditary factors or from lack of nourishment during childhood. So he is a victim to sickness quite often. Or sometimes the wrong forces get pleasure by attacking an aspiring soul. They know that they cannot destroy the individual, but they can delay indefinitely his progress, achievements and success. If in the morning we get a headache or stomach pain, how are we going to have our best meditation? If we are physically sick, how can we meditate?

So when we see that we are being attacked, we have to be extra alert. If we are not conscious or careful all the time, then we open ourselves to the wrong forces. In some cases, the wrong forces attack us because we cherish them. Early in the morning I have exposed myself to cold. I know I will catch a cold. I know I will suffer in a few minutes, but I am enjoying the cold. You can call it lethargy or making friends with hostile forces. So here, when hostile forces attack us, we get a kind of perverted joy and it becomes a kind of hopeless case.

But even if we are cautious, still the wrong forces can attack. We have bolted the door, but even then the hostile forces try to enter and steal things from us. But if we leave the door and windows open, they will have more opportunity to attack us. If we are careful and cautious, then there is less opportunity for the wrong forces to attack.

Question: If earth is the place for nature's evolution, will a soul go to some other galaxy for some reason?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on what the soul wants. Nature's transformation takes place here. Other planes don't have the physical body; they don't function like we do. Here we meet all the forces, everything. We are helpless, but we get infinite Compassion.

Part III — Love and aspiration

Question: Could you say something about divine love.

Sri Chinmoy: In our philosophy of love, devotion and surrender, we start with divine love. Here there is no possession; there is only the feeling of oneness. The human consciousness is limited. When we use this limited consciousness, we try to have someone or something as our very own. But because the human consciousness is limited, we cannot have more than one person or more than one thing. But if we can enter into the Universal Consciousness through our meditation, the result or the capacity that we get from the Universal Consciousness will be boundless. Then everyone and everything in the entire world will make us feel that we belong to it and that it belongs to us. At that time we shall get true satisfaction.

In human love we always feel, "There is someone who does not want me or somebody whom I do not need." Always there will be some person whom we fear or hate or do not need, because that person is not satisfying us. Again, we will have the feeling that somebody else — some great man or spiritual Master whom we admire — is not giving us the love that we need or want. So, in one way or another, frustration comes, either because the other person is not showing us love or because we are losing our own sweet feeling and divine reality by showing our hatred towards somebody.

But if we can enter into the Universal Consciousness, then at that time we don't think of love. Only we think of consciousness. If we have something small, say a tiny knife, then we cannot cut something very big. But if we have an instrument which is very big, then we can cut anything with it. In the spiritual life, the instrument that we are using right now is a very limited consciousness, the human consciousness. That is why we cannot go beyond one or two people or things. But if we use the other instrument, the Universal Consciousness, which is very vast, then we will be able to have divine love.

But we have to possess it first, and for that we have to meditate. To enter into the vast Universal Consciousness, we must be on the highest stage of spiritual evolution. To realise this Universal Consciousness takes many incarnations. If a great spiritual Master comes and if he feels very kind to some of his disciples, then it may be only a matter of a few years for them. Otherwise, to enter into Universal Consciousness takes quite a few incarnations. The best thing for the seekers who have just entered into the spiritual life or have done a little bit of meditation is to use the term "vast consciousness" rather than "Universal Consciousness". In your case, if your consciousness is this much, then try to expand it. Then, when you have a little capacity in dealing with the vast consciousness, you will have more assurance from within that you can eventually enter into the Universal Consciousness.

Question: Why does loving kindness lead us towards God?

Sri Chinmoy: Kindness, loving kindness, is a divine aspect of God. Kindness comes from God's Compassion. When God's Compassion operates in a sincere seeker, that sincere seeker runs towards God. Compassion is like a magnet. Here on earth we call a particular thing kindness or sympathy, but in the inner world we see that this very thing comes directly from God's Compassion, from the highest realm of Consciousness. So when God's Consciousness and God's Compassion reign supreme in an individual soul, then he is bound to run towards God, the destined Goal.

Question: How do you tell whether you are ambitious or are really aspiring?

Sri Chinmoy: If you are ambitious, what will happen? You will have a kind of aggressive vital. Then, even if you are also trying to get peace, light and bliss, I tell you there will always be some undivine element there. But if you are really trying to do your best, if you are really aspiring, there will not be this kind of aggressive movement. If a runner wants to exert himself to his utmost capacity and reach his best running speed, then that is his aspiration. But when there is ambition, immediately a kind of rivalry starts. Ambition wants to be the best in everything, but aspiration is different. It says, "I will do my best. If I want to engage in sports, I shall have to practise running. But the result, the achievement, will be entirely at the Feet of the Supreme." At first I only want to achieve something, but if I get the feeling that I want to be on the top and that others should be at least one step below me, then this is ambition. Ambition always likes to be on top and hold others below it. But if it is aspiration, then I will aspire to go to the Highest, not because of my needs, but because of the Supreme's need to take me to the Highest, so that He can fulfil me in His own Way. Aspiration will say: "If it is the Supreme's Will, let Him take me to the Highest. If it is His Will, let Him keep me at the lowest plane. Let Him keep me wherever He wants — at the foot of the tree, in the middle of the tree, at the top of the tree or far below the tree."

Question: Why is it that you accepted me as your disciple when I was unaspiring, outwardly at least? I was unaspiring practically up to the very second you initiated me.

Sri Chinmoy: Your aspiration is like a stove. You have to turn the gas up to a certain point before it ignites. If the knob is even a fraction of an inch below that point, then nothing happens, even though the gas is flowing. In your case, your aspiration was just a fraction of an inch away from coming to the fore. When I accepted you, I gave you the additional aspiration you needed to ignite your inner flame.

Question: While I was meditating with you, I felt a very strong spinal energy. Is there a way of staying in touch with that when we're not here, in your presence?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not my actual physical presence that is offering you this light or energy or whatever you call it. It is your own aspiration that is offering it to you. My physical presence may give you one per cent of the energy, peace, light and bliss that you are speaking of, but it is your own aspiration that is bringing about this kind of meditation here. So when you meditate at home, if you can meditate as devotedly and soulfully as you meditate here, then I assure you the Grace of the Supreme is bound to descend on your devoted heart. Then you will feel the same kind of peace, light and bliss right in your own room. When you come here, you come with tremendous aspiration, but when you meditate at home, unfortunately you are wanting in aspiration. It is the lack of aspiration that prevents the seeker from receiving or achieving peace, light and bliss. Here you get a golden opportunity because many people are meditating together and one is inspiring another. So I wish you to have the same kind of aspiration when you meditate at home as you have had here. Then you will have no difficulty in feeling, achieving and growing into the boundless energy, light and bliss that you are talking about.

Question: What does acceptance mean from the spiritual point of view?

Sri Chinmoy: In the spiritual world we use the term "acceptance". But who accepts whom first? We may call it a reciprocal acceptance: I accept God and God accepts me. But when we go deep within, we see that he who chooses the Supreme has already been chosen by the Supreme. It is God who has chosen each of us before we even dreamt of accepting Him as our very own. But now that we are consciously aware of His acceptance, we need not stumble, we need not walk, we need not march; we can run fast, faster and fastest, because our awareness is already God's infinite Grace. Millions and millions of people are fast asleep in the world of ignorance, whereas we are fortunate enough to have been aroused by the Supreme Himself. He has said to us, "Arise, awake, aspire." We have arisen. We are now totally awakened. We are now aspiring. The mounting flame of consciousness deep within us is climbing towards the highest. Arise, awake, aspire! These three soul-stirring words at every moment we shall cherish in our human existence.

Question: What is awareness?

Sri Chinmoy: Awareness is not of the mind. You want to be aware of the soul with your mind. You want to see the soul with your physical organs. But the physical organs are very, very deceptive, I must say. We are totally blind to the Truth sometimes. Truth comes to us in its natural way, but we try to see Truth from a different angle. So we do not really see it. But instead of trying to see the Truth, let us try to feel the Truth and become the Truth. When we become the Truth, at that time we do not have to see. I have a body, but I do not have to see whether I have arms or not. Similarly, when we become the Truth, at that time we do not have to see whether Truth has this or that. Just by being one with the Truth, we know what it is and what it has.

Question: What is the relationship between faith and spirituality?

Sri Chinmoy: Faith and spirituality are inseparable. They are like a farmer and a field. Spirituality is the field and faith is the farmer. One without the other is useless.

Question: Would you please explain the difference between joy and happiness?

Sri Chinmoy: Happiness always has a kind of dynamic quality in it, whereas in joy there can be a very sweet, mild, subtle and serene quality. In happiness you can get an ecstatic movement, and you may lose your balance. But when it is subtle joy, inner joy, then you do not lose your outer balance. But this is only playing with words. Actually there is no difference between the soul's happiness and true joy. Happiness and joy are synonymous. But if you speak of joy and pleasure, then there is a difference. There is a great difference between joy and pleasure. Pleasure is always followed by frustration, depression and destruction. But joy is growth, joy is a constructive force that fulfils us. Joy is like a flower that blooms petal by petal. God created us in joy, God wants us to remain in joy and God wants us to fulfil our respective roles in utmost joy. If we remain in joy, in inner joy, only then can we make real progress.

Question: Guru, how can we have spiritual capacity without having spiritual pride?

Sri Chinmoy: Capacity and pride do not necessarily have to go together. What you call capacity I will call God's Grace. If you can do everything at your sweet will, then only you can have pride. But at your sweet will you cannot do whatever you choose. If somebody asks you not to sleep even for five minutes in twenty-four hours, you will probably not be able to do it. If somebody asks you to run the fastest, you won't be able to do it. And if you can do it, feel that whatever capacity you have is due to God's Grace.

If you feel you are spiritual and far superior to your father because you are accepting our path and he isn't, then just turn around and see if somebody else has more aspiration or deeper conviction than you have. But if you say you are still more spiritual than all the other disciples put together, then go one step further. Since I am the leader, then compare yourself with me: "Let me see if this Indian is really greater than I am in spirituality." If you feel that you are but an inch lower than I am, and that tomorrow you will catch me and surpass me, then you have to know that you are still an inch lower than somebody, and that somebody is God. Just compare yourself with God. Then your inner being will say, "Look at your capacity and God's infinite Capacity."

So if you expand human pride, a time will come when you will have to stop. A good musician can compare himself with the greatest musician, and then his pride will be smashed. A good runner will compare himself with the greatest runner, and then he will have to stop feeling proud. Suppose you feel that you are by far the best in something. I wish to say that there will always be a third person who will smash your pride.

But pride can also be a divine capacity. If someone is the world's greatest boxer, singer, spiritual figure or anything else, immediately identify yourself with that person and sincerely feel your oneness with him. If you have established your inseparable oneness with him, then your pride is divine pride. This divine pride can never be defeated.

Human pride is only a form of separation: I am this, you are that. I separate my existence from yours; therefore I am superior to you. But divine pride is oneness; it becomes one with others' capacities. From one individual you go to the length and breadth of the world. If you want to conquer pride in the human way, immediately you put someone with more capacity in front of you and that person in no time will shatter all your pride. If you want to take pride in the divine way, the whole world will be inside you on the strength of your oneness. At that time you don't have to separate the capacity of others from the reality that you are.

Question: Guru, is it good to imagine? Sometimes when I meditate I imagine what is going on in the inner worlds.

Sri Chinmoy: It is good to imagine, but it has to be something that is inside the heart. After we imagine something, it becomes a reality in the heart. Imagination itself is reality. Feeling also is reality, but in feeling we cannot show the reality. But when we realise the reality, at that time we become reality itself.

Part IV — Divine qualities

Question: In the conflict between intuition and common sense, which one should we listen to?

Sri Chinmoy: Intuition is the real truth. What people call common sense is not sense at all most of the time. Real common sense is something else. In real common sense, God comes first; the highest Reality comes first. Once a spiritual Master said by way of a joke, "When my disciples come to me, the first thing they do is to give up their common sense." When the disciples give up their ordinary common sense, then only can the Master give them his proper common sense. In the spiritual life, common sense means the higher reality. For spiritual people, the lower reality is not common.

Intuition is the higher reality. If you get an intuitive flash, that is absolutely the real reality. But if you feel that that particular intuition will not work on the physical plane, then the best thing is to discover the common sense which is utilised on the physical plane. You are eager to use common sense on the physical plane because it is applicable there. But again, if you really have an intuitive flash, then I wish to say that you should stick to your intuition even though the world may call you insane.

Sri Ramakrishna all the time stayed with his intuition. Just because he used his intuitive power he went to the Highest. People said many, many undivine things about him. When he went into trance or ecstasy, people in the ordinary life used to say it was a kind of insanity. But for him, common sense was to be totally absorbed in the Mother Kali, totally merged in the highest Consciousness. For him that was the real common sense, the only common sense. But for ordinary people, common sense will be to mix with people or to indulge in ordinary things. So common sense depends entirely on the achievement of the soul and how developed the soul is.

Some of your parents may think that the spiritual life is silly; that is their common sense. But you have a higher sense. You have accepted the spiritual life, so you are much more developed than your parents, both inwardly and outwardly. For you, it is quite common to pray and meditate and follow a spiritual Master. The standard of your common sense and the standard of their common sense need not and cannot be the same. Again, when you go still higher, infinitely higher, at that time your intuition will become your common sense. You will not use the so-called common sense that you get from the mind.

Question: How can I make the silence I enjoy more fruitful?

Sri Chinmoy: You can make the silence you enjoy more fruitful by making it more dynamic. Inside the silence you have to feel creation. Silence embodies both the unreal and the real. When you watch the silence with your outer vision, then you feel that it is not creating anything in you; there is no dynamism there. But when you watch the silence with your inner vision, you see that silence has not only created something inside you but silence is creation itself. So if you see creation inside yourself, then the silence will be more fruitful.

You may see creation that does not itself create; only it has been created. It is like a tree that has been created from a seed. If you feel that the tree is the ultimate, then it is all over. But if you see that from the tree there will be some fruits, then the creation goes on. A tree and its fruits are inseparable. If you look at the fruit, then you will be looking at the tree. Again, if a tree does not have fruits and flowers, then it is not a tree at all. Here the tree is silence. If you dive deep within yourself, you will see that silence and its fruits have become one. If you see a tree, only a tree, then the creation is over; but if you feel that the tree will give flowers, fruits and new seeds, then your silence-tree becomes fruitful. So every time you see silence-creation, try to feel that from this creation another creation is taking place. Then you will be complete. At that time you will get continuous progress and continuous achievement from the thing that has already been created.

So, please feel that something has to come out of silence; then only will the silence be fruitful. Please feel that the silence is giving you something; then it becomes soulful and fruitful. Otherwise, it will all be barren — only an isolated experience, an isolated reality. In order for it to become fruitful, you have to feel that it embodies something and that it will give you something.

Question: How can I know my spiritual status?

Sri Chinmoy: You can know your spiritual status by diving deep within and entering into the state of mental equanimity. When you enter into that state of equanimity, easily you can know your spiritual status.

Question: Can our emotions be developed like a muscle?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two types of emotions: divine emotions and human emotions. The development of human emotion leads to destruction, but the development of divine emotion leads to illumination, and this illumination is nothing but satisfaction. What is divine emotion? Divine emotion is our oneness with the transcendental Soul and our oneness with the universal Heart. Conscious, inseparable oneness is the divine emotion.

Question: Is expressing my creative capacity important in my existence?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. The expression of your capacity is always important. You have to know that creative expression is motivated not by ego but by a higher force, an inner force, which wants you to manifest the divine truth in its own way.

Question: Sometimes when I have good experiences, or when I feel touched by nature or anything good, my mind tries to express it either in poetry or painting or some other way. But doing so seems to rob me of the experience itself.

Sri Chinmoy: Here you are making a mistake; you are acting like a child. When you get the experience, you are like a child who has got a candy from his mother or father. Then, when it is in his hand, he tries to share it with others. This is very good. Let him share; let him give a small portion to others. But let us say that the child has a very liberal heart. He has three or four friends and he gives everything away. Then he still feels hungry. When you have something, it is good to share it with others. But the best thing is to first try and increase the quantity of the thing. While you are having this good experience, try to keep it for a long time: an hour, two hours, three hours or a few days. In this way you will have accumulated a lot of candy. Then, while you are expressing it, you will not feel like a beggar.

When you express something, it is going out of you, and you have no means to replace it. You are scattering everything and then you are lost. Since you don't have the capacity to replace it, you are completely emptying yourself. Yes, you may have a very good heart, a very liberal heart. But you also have hunger, your own eternal hunger, and your own hunger you have not been able to satisfy. So if you can maintain or strengthen your experience for a few days or a few weeks, then when you try to express it and share it with others, you will not lose everything. You will have a continual and permanent access to the world of experience. So let it be permanent. Once you become permanent in your experience or realisation, then if you start giving it to others, you won't miss it or lose it. That is why they say that before you become a real Yogi, before you fully realise God, it is not advisable to give your inner wealth to others. It is not that you are a miser; only you are giving and giving and have no way to get it back. There is a Source, and you have to establish a connection with the Source. Then, no matter how much you give, you will not feel that you have lost anything.

In the ordinary life, a kindergarten teacher is enough for a kindergarten student. If you have gone to high school you can easily teach a five-year-old, because you have more education than he does. In the spiritual life, unfortunately, it is not like that. In the spiritual life, he who is your student is not only a student but also a bundle of ignorance. Although you may be an inch higher than he is, or although you may have started your spiritual life two days, two months or even ten years before he did, if your realisation is not solid or concrete and you try to teach that person, then the ignorance of that person will overpower you. Then, if you lose, who is going to gain? That person needed spiritual help, true, but you didn't have enough capacity to illumine him. So you have lost and he also has lost. But if you had waited for some time and accumulated more inner wealth — more peace, light and bliss — then, when the time came, you could have given and, at the same time, kept the residue. Then you both would gain.

Question: How can I be more conscious of my experiences when I am sleeping?

Sri Chinmoy: The best way to try to be more conscious is to spend more time in meditation. If you spend one hour now, then try to spend an hour and a half; then increase it to two hours. God has given us twenty-four hours a day. Out of twenty-four hours, we can spend quite a few hours in meditation. We spend much time on the telephone. God has given us aspiration, and God has also given us a mouth. But in silence we can say more; in silence we can also act more powerfully. So if we want to be conscious of our inner experiences during sleep, then we have to try to spend more time on our spiritual life.

Question: How do we know which of our actions are good?

Sri Chinmoy: The action that makes your heart larger is good. When you do something and get inner joy, you feel that something is expanding. It is your consciousness. Like a bird you are spreading your wings. The action that enlarges your consciousness is right action. The action that binds you is wrong action. Always feel that anything that enlarges you is right and anything that binds you is wrong.

Part V — Negative thoughts

Negative thoughts

There are two ways to conquer negative thoughts. One way is very simple and dynamic. Each thought has power of its own. Positive thought has a power and negative thought also has a power. With positive power we build; with negative power we break. Each positive thought is creation and each negative thought is destruction.

We can get rid of negative thoughts with our soul's will-power. During our meditation, slowly and steadily we develop will-power. We feel that this will-power is coming from a Source, which is God, the Absolute Infinite. We gradually learn how to have a free access to this will-power. How do we get it? We have to feel that God is all Light and all Love, and that we are God's chosen children. If we feel that God is all Love, then immediately God the Love enters into us. In Love there is no negative thought; it is all positive. The moment divine Love goes away, everything is negative. But when God is within us there can be no negative thought, because God means Light. In Light there cannot be anything negative. Light means vision. Vision will never remain satisfied unless it is manifested, and will-power manifests God's Vision on earth. So if we want to get rid of negative thoughts, then we should invoke God the Love. Love itself is Light. This is the positive way, using our love-power, which is will-power.

There is also another way to conquer fear or negative thoughts. When a negative thought comes, we have to feel that it is a thief. A negative thought comes in the form of doubt, fear, jealousy, hypocrisy or meanness. We have to feel that each negative thought has come to commit a theft, to take something away from our inner life and inner wealth. But this wealth is ours; we have got it through our prayer and meditation. What do we do when we see a thief? We chase him away and we do it with utmost confidence. We do not allow the thief to stay, because we know that we are the master of the house. We are the owner of our body, vital, heart, mind and soul. So each time a negative thought comes, we have to give chase and say, "You have stolen something of mine. What right do you have to take it? It is mine, all mine." This is vigilance. We have to be totally vigilant, twenty-four hours a day.

Sometimes people cherish negative thoughts. They get a kind of pleasure from them. They feel that fear, doubt and jealousy are necessary. They doubt God or their own spirituality. They become real philosophers. But doubting God and doubting their own existence is a stupid way of seeing the Truth. When fear or jealousy comes we have to enter into our inner domain and catch the thief. In the spiritual life when we catch a thief, what do we do? We take the thief to our soul's light to be illumined. In ordinary life, earthly life, we punish a thief by putting him into a prison cell. We feel that in this way he will change his nature and character. In the spiritual life, when a negative thought enters into us, we take it to the soul's light for transformation. Without the soul's light these negative thoughts cannot be transformed. First we have to chase them, then catch them and then take them to the proper place where they can be transformed. This is how we can conquer and transform negative thoughts.

Question: When I become aware that my consciousness has slipped down very far, I often feel that when I try to do something to raise it again, I'm not being sincere or it's just coming from the mind, or maybe I'm pushing or pulling or forcing. What is the best way when you become aware that your consciousness has dropped to get it back up?

Sri Chinmoy: The best thing is to surrender your undivine life to your divine life. When you fall down from the tree, you definitely know what has compelled you to fall down. Overnight you cannot realise God; also overnight you cannot fall to your lowest point. You have been with us four or five years, and you know how hard, how sincerely you have tried to make progress. It has taken you so many years to make this progress. Will all this go away immediately? No, it is not like that. It will go slowly, slowly, slowly. But if you do a few things very undivine, naturally your descent will be faster. But that doesn't mean that overnight you will fall to the foot of the tree. Each time you will climb down, say, one step or a few inches.

If you feel that you are falling, here is a way to prevent it. When you are falling down, try to remember devotedly and soulfully your best inner experience. There is not a single disciple who has not had one or two major experiences, according to his own capacity or receptivity. So immediately think of that incident. For instance, if one day I showed you tremendous compassion, love or gratitude, and you felt that if you didn't get anything else in this world, still on that one day you got something significant, then you have to bring that incident right in front of your vision. If you write it down, look at it, enter into it and become one with it, I tell you, the way you are climbing down will immediately stop. Immediately you will return to your height. Some spiritual Masters have done this when they went through barrenness; for six months they would have good meditations and then for one or two months they would not be able to meditate at all. Vivekananda used to have that problem. He had so many lofty, high realisations and meditations, and he wrote them down in a big notebook. Then he read them; immediately, he became one with those experiences and again he used to return to his own height. Then his meditations would again be very powerful.

So when your meditation is not profound and you feel that you are descending, try to remember a significant experience. You are drowning, but there is somebody on the shore to save you and you are raising your hand towards that person. That person is your own experience. You touch him and grab his hand, and then you are saved. He represents your own highest, your own sublime experience, which you had perhaps two or three years ago.

Question: Is the ability to fight hostile forces a question of Grace?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, but one has to have faith in Grace. If you think that Grace is like water, that is a mistake. You have to feel that Grace is something many times stronger than an atom bomb. Then you will have faith in Grace. The mind will tell you that God's Compassion is like the rain. So you will feel it is something weak and it won't give you confidence. But when you think of it as an atom bomb, a hydrogen bomb, then you will feel that God's omnipotent Power is working, and naturally you will be convinced. God's Will does everything, provided you know what Grace is and what its capacity is. Otherwise, you will say, "If I meditate for five hours, God's Grace will descend like a drop of honey." A drop of honey will be sweet, but it will have no power in your life. You have to feel that Grace itself is omnipotent power; then only you will know that weakness can be conquered. Otherwise, it is impossible. You have to feel that God's Compassion is something infinitely stronger than the hostile force which is attacking you. Then you will see what Grace can do. Then you will see that Grace is fighting on your side most powerfully. But if you don't think that Grace is strong, then why should Grace help you to fight what is attacking you? Also, you have to have faith in the Master. If the Master says, "You are a good boy," you have to believe him. But if the mind comes in and you say, "Oh, Master is just flattering me," then you are lost.

Question: In our relationships with others, sometimes we get along and sometimes we don't. Is this a problem of the ego?

Sri Chinmoy: As long as we are in the unillumined mind, as long as we are always thinking of this and that, there will always be these ego problems. Only when the mind gets quiet and our deeper intuition comes forth can we go beyond the ego.

The mind constantly says, "I have done this," or "l have not done that because of so and so." There is no end to all the reasons and measurements the mind can contrive. If you wish to get a mango from a mango tree, your mind does not have to first determine how many leaves are on the tree, where its roots are, how much rain it has had and so on. You simply pick the mango from the tree and eat it. All the mental figuring in the world will not give you the fruit unless you take it directly.

The mind is an obstacle in getting the fruits of fulfilment. We are so involved with the mind and the ego that we do not know how to get what we want. If a child wants something, he runs to his father and asks for it; he does not hesitate and start wondering if his father is qualified to give him what he needs. He does not care whether or not his father has a Master's degree, or if he is a carpenter, or whatever. Fortunately, the child does not use his mind to such an extent. He runs to his father, the source, without doubt and without mental hesitation. In this way he gets what he wants.

Question: How can we tell the difference between an inner cry and a selfish demand?

Sri Chinmoy: A selfish demand is made by the vital. If the vital demands something, you want to get it by hook or by crook. If someone does not give you what you want, you will strike that person. But if it is the inner cry, you will try only to do the right thing and please your Inner Pilot in His own Way. But vital demand says, "I need something, and if you don't give it to me, then I will break your head."

Question: Many times I complain to you about things. How do I know if these are because of my own narrow-mindedness or if there really is a problem?

Sri Chinmoy: If I remain silent, then you have to feel that I am inwardly working on the problem. I feel that if I work on it inwardly my help will be more effective. Or I may say to you, "You are being narrow-minded; it is your jealousy that is instigating you to complain." In either case, please feel that I am working on the problem in the manner that is most effective.

Question: What is the difference between complacency and non-attachment?

Sri Chinmoy: If you are the son of a multimillionaire, everything is at your command because you have money-power. You are complacent, because the things that others will try for years to achieve, you will accomplish in a day. Only inner satisfaction will not be there.

Non-attachment is something totally different. There you fulfil God's Will and get joy while fulfilling His Will. You do not remain in the vital world, attached to the results. Let us say that it is God's Will that you submit an article to The New York Times. If they don't print it and you are attached, then you will get angry. If you are attached to the idea of success and not to God's Will, then you will curse the spiritual Master who asked you to submit it. "Why did he ask me to submit it? Now I have failed." But if you are not attached, then you will get the greatest joy whether you succeed or fail.

Non-attachment is not indifference. When you are indifferent, you don't look at a person. You are walking along the street and somebody is dying of thirst, but you will not look at him. If you are non-attached, your inner being will compel you to give him a glass of water. But if he doesn't drink it, you will not feel sad or angry. Your inner being may tell you to wait half an hour to see what he will do, but you will not curse him or curse yourself because he is so ungrateful and you have wasted your time. You are only an instrument, so you are not attached to the result.

Attachment comes when you are motivated by your vital. If your vital desires something, then you feel that you need that thing. When you need something, you want to get it in your own way. But non-attachment tells you that you are doing it for somebody else, for your real Self. If you surrender the unreal in you to the Real in you, then you will not be motivated by your individual will and you will not be attached in any way. Only you will be one with God's Will twenty-four hours a day. Do not mistake indifference for non-attachment. Do everything devotedly and unconditionally, and then place it at the Feet of the Supreme. Otherwise, if you take indifference as non-attachment, you will not do anything; you will only say that you are not attached.

Part VI — Interview on KPFA Radio

SE 40-50. On 1 June 1973, Sri Chinmoy was interviewed on radio station KPFA in Berkeley, California.

Question: I would like to ask you about the meaning of the goal of attaining inseparable oneness with God. I know that T.S. Eliot has said that at the end of all our journeying we will arrive at the place where we began, only to recognise it for the first time. Is this at all analogous to achieving total enlightenment?

Sri Chinmoy: It is practically the same thing. We go back to the Source. But we have to know that there is no end to our realisation of the Source. The Source is right now the Beyond, but we have to come to realise that this Beyond is the ever-transcending Beyond; it is not a final goal. There is an inner urge in the human in us, as well as in the divine in us, to transcend itself. As there is no end to our human desires, so also there is no end to our divine realisation. The Beyond is the Goal right now, but when we reach the Beyond we feel that this Goal can be transcended. God Himself is transcending Himself at every moment. He is Omnipotent, He is Omniscient, He is Omnipresent; but He Himself is always transcending his own Realisation and Perfection.

Question: Is there then something which is beyond total oneness with God?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. Total, inseparable oneness with God is one thing and the manifestation of that inseparable oneness on earth is another thing. When someone realises God, he and God become consciously inseparable. But that is not the end of the game. He has to manifest God; he and God have to consciously play together. Before realisation he was an unconscious instrument of God. Now he has to become a constant, conscious instrument of God.

Question: In your own personal life-history, was there a particular point when you achieved oneness with God which marked a change for you from then on?

Sri Chinmoy: I have to be very frank with you. In my case I had this realisation or self-discovery in a previous incarnation. I carried it with me to this incarnation. Once upon a time I studied the book and knew it perfectly. But in this incarnation it took me twenty years, from the age of twelve right up to thirty-two, to revise the old book.

Question: While I was watching the film about you that was shown in Berkeley recently, one of the striking things that I noticed was the way your eyes were constantly quivering. This gives one the sensation of inner ecstasy. Can you comment about that?

Sri Chinmoy: To an unaspiring person, the flickering of the eyes looks like a restless movement. But for the sincere seekers, this movement of the eyes will be a different matter altogether. There are seven higher planes of consciousness. Since I am a spiritual man and at the same time I am in a meditative consciousness, I am flying from one plane of consciousness to another. I am acting like a divine bird, flying from one branch to another. When my eyes move, I enter into one plane of consciousness and the treasure of that consciousness enters into my being; then I reveal this treasure through my eyes. While I am entering into another plane of consciousness, I acquire and reveal the wealth of that plane of consciousness.

Question: Let me ask you some questions about the relationship between leading a spiritual life and being involved in secular activities, such as politics. I know you yourself are involved in the United Nations, so apparently you don't think they are two incongruous ways of life.

Sri Chinmoy: We have to accept the world, but we have to know if the world that we are accepting is accepting us or not. We have to know if the world at large is ready to give us the opportunity to be of service to it. At the same time, we have to know whether we have the capacity and the willingness to transform the face of the world. Both the outer method and the inner method of bringing about peace are effective. At the United Nations they are using the outer methods, political means; I am using the inner method. I go there twice a week and hold meditations. At that time we invoke peace and the presence of God from above. In our human life, the outer life and the inner life have to go together. We cannot ignore the outer life. If we ignore the outer life, then we will remain imperfect. And if we ignore the inner life, then we will have nothing to offer. So in my philosophy I feel that we have to accept the world. The outer life and the inner life must run side by side.

Question: Can you comment specifically on the use of drugs?

Sri Chinmoy: I have spoken hundreds of times on drugs. Here all I wish to say is that if you have a real coin and a counterfeit coin, they look similar; but when you examine them properly, you know that one is real and the other one is false. I have a few disciples who once upon a time were addicted to drugs. They had very high, lofty experiences according to their own understanding and realisation at that time. But now these same disciples have been meditating with me for a couple of years and by the Grace of the Supreme they have had spiritual experiences. They say that the difference between the two is like the difference between a counterfeit or false coin and a real coin.

Question: Would you say that in order to achieve enlightenment it is necessary to give up sex or to engage in ascetic discipline?

Sri Chinmoy: Asceticism is not necessary for God-realisation. In order to realise God I must not torture my being. If I cut off my arms and run towards my Father and say, "Father, look, just for you, just to come to you, I have cut off my arms," then God will not be pleased. Too much asceticism or torturing the body in the name of discipline is not good. Discipline is necessary but, like anything else, when you go to the extreme it is very bad. Asceticism is not advisable. We should adopt the middle path; like the Buddha, we should not go to any extreme. We should not be over-indulgent and at the same time we should not be overly strict with our physical consciousness. About sex I wish to say that one has to transcend it slowly and steadily. If one wants to conquer sex overnight, then it will tell upon his health; it will ruin his consciousness. It is like giving up tea or coffee. If you take it six times a day, then gradually bring it down to five, four, three cups a day. If you overcome something gradually, then your achievement becomes solid and permanent in your consciousness. Otherwise, today you will give up everything and tomorrow the lower vital forces will come and attack you most vehemently. At that time you will be helpless. Slow and steady wins the race. This saying is also applicable to our spiritual life.

Question: There are many paths in the West and in the East which claim to lead to the one goal of reaching the Supreme: Yoga, Tai Chi and Zen in the East and astrology, hermeticism and so forth in the West. Can you comment on these comparatively?

Sri Chinmoy: Unfortunately, I do not want to offer any comment because real Yoga does not enter into commentary or any kind of competition. Real Yoga includes everything. The path that we are following, the real Yoga, does not exclude anything. It says that everybody is right in his own way. As every religion is right, so also every path is right, every form of spiritual discipline is right. I can speak only on my philosophy; you can speak on your philosophy or your religion. I live in my room, so I can tell you what I have in my room. I know that in one place I have my chair, in one place I have my books and in one place I have all my other possessions. I know what I have in my room and you know what you have in your room. Now, for me to speak about what you have in your room would be an act of foolishness. What do I know about your life? So in Zen and other paths, each teacher is most qualified to speak on his respective path. I do not make any comparison or pass any proud judgement on any other path because I am not authorised or qualified to do so.

Question: In your writings you quote quite a bit from Western poets and Western philosophers. I wonder if you get spiritual inspiration from them? Do you think that they are enlightened in the sense in which the people in the Orient use the term?

Sri Chinmoy: I have to be very frank here. I do get inspiration from the Western poets and philosophers, but not enlightenment. Having been a poet right from my childhood, when I get something inspirational I am thrilled. Poetry is next to spirituality. So, being a spiritual man, I try to have the consciousness of poetry in my writings. The Western writers whom I very often quote derive their inspiration or their achievement from the Eastern background. When I read their writings I get the ancient message of my great-great-grandfathers. But again, inspiration and enlightenment are two different things. When it comes to Truth, there are no such things as East or West. We have got light, inspiration and divine messages from the Vedic seers of the hoary past, true. But the Vedic seers also live in the Universal Consciousness. Truth is not the sole monopoly of the East or the West. Unfortunately, the West and the East very often want to remain separate. The East claims spirituality as its own monopoly and the West claims scientific achievement as its own monopoly. But while we are trying to discover ourselves, we find that science and spirituality must go together. The offering, the achievement, the contribution of the West is of greatest importance; and the offering, the achievement, the contribution of the East is also of greatest importance. The message of peace that we hear in the East and the message of the soul's dynamism that we hear in the West must be combined.

Question: I would like to know how all disciplines such as diet fit in with spirituality. It seems to me that if God is in everything, then if we just keep our thoughts on God we shouldn't need anything else.

Sri Chinmoy: God is in everything, true. God is in a tiger and in a snake, but that doesn't mean that I will go and stand in front of a tiger or a snake, for I know that I will be devoured or bitten. Since God is Omnipresent, He is in everything. He is in desire and in aspiration. God is in everything, but I have to use my common sense. I feel that sooner or later I will be frustrated. Then I see that my frustration is immediately followed by destruction. So I have to search for the God who is in aspiration. When I aspire, I get abundant Peace, Light and Bliss. It is like drinking water. Why do we drink pure water instead of dirty, impure water? Both are water, but when we use our wisdom we see that we should drink the pure water.

We have come into the world to make progress, but if we do not use our wisdom in our day-to-day life, then we will make no progress. Success is a form of experience and failure is also a form of experience in life. Both success and failure we offer at the Feet of God. But since God Himself is transcending His own Realisation, we feel that the more we can consciously make progress, the more we are achieving, revealing and manifesting the Truth. If there is no quest, what kind of life will we lead? In spite of knowing this, most of the time we quarrel, we fight, we strangle, we do everything that is undivine. But since we know that God is everything, why do we not lead a divine life?

To a spiritual person, the very concept of God is divine. He is divine, He is immortal and He is all Compassion. If we think of God as Satan, as a destructive force, then we are totally lost. So for a spiritual seeker, the very idea of God is Benevolence, Compassion and Light. We have to know which aspect of God we want. God is in everything, true. God is in destruction and God is in imperfection. But being seekers of the infinite Truth, we will care for the God who is all Compassion, who is all Illumination.

We know that everybody wants satisfaction, but it depends on how the individual soul is satisfied. A thief is satisfied after he has committed a theft. A seeker is satisfied only after he has realised God, the highest Truth. But the thing that I need for satisfaction you may not need. So you are right in achieving something to satisfy yourself and I am perfectly right in achieving something to satisfy my own needs.

Question: Would you please comment on something I read in a book by Paul Brunton? He said that secret and esoteric knowledge, the sort that used to be open only to the initiates of the mystical Egyptian religions and the Indian Yogis of centuries ago, is now becoming available to the many in the age of Aquarius, and that now many paths, if they are followed with integrity and openness, can offer people today the experiences that formerly had been available only to the chosen few. Do you see this type of cosmic change happening?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. What Paul Brunton has said is perfectly right. Previously Yoga was confined to a select few; now Yoga is open to all. Previously, even in India, the land where it has always been practised, Yoga was confined to the limited few. But now the book of Yoga is no longer sealed; it is open to all. Unfortunately, we are seeing many false teachers, especially here in the West. But on the other hand, I wish to say that in America I have come across thousands of sincere seekers. So the world is progressing, the world is evolving. We are in the process of evolution. We see in the West as well as the East that the inner cry for truth, the ultimate Truth, has increased. And the book of Yoga is no longer sealed, but is now an open book.

From:Sri Chinmoy,The soul's evolution, Agni Press, 1976
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