Question: I don't feel that it is possible for me to follow spirituality without following through with the material world. Without it I have found spirituality quite empty, whereas when my physical pleasure in the world is heightened, I then find a higher approach to my spirituality. Must this material part be rejected, or can they balance each other out?

Sri Chinmoy: You feel that when your material life is fully secure and you have achieved some material success, when you have attained some sense of outer joy or perfection, then it becomes easier for you to enter into the spiritual life. Now, there is nothing wrong in this. But most seekers have found that what they have achieved on the physical, outer plane, is not an asset or additional help to their spiritual life. If you are well established in the outer life, if you are secure and have achieved some standard of success, that is wonderful. But if you feel that these outer achievements will expedite your spiritual progress, that is not true in most cases.

Many people have achieved earthly success. There are many very famous or well-known people on earth. But just because they are well-known or they have achieved something most significant for earth or for themselves, that does not mean that their spiritual life will be extremely easy. On the contrary, it will be the other way around. Their spiritual life will be more difficult, because from material success comes ego, pride and a sense of self-sufficiency. These things constantly stand in the way of materially successful people.

Question: Can't they go together?

Sri Chinmoy: They can go together if this ordinary, material success is ready to surrender to the Will of the Supreme. Then spirituality can easily manifest itself through earthly success. A spiritual person and an unaspiring person both have to eat. But while a spiritual person is eating, he is thinking of the Supreme: "Dear Lord, I am eating to have strength and energy so that You can manifest in and through me." This should be his feeling. An unaspiring person may eat just so that he will have the strength to knock somebody else down. You are eating in order to stay on earth so that the Divine, the Supreme, can manifest in and through you. You have to bring down the message of the Supreme; that is why you eat. While you are performing your earthly duties, you are offering your will to the Supreme. You are doing everything so that He can be manifested in your life. If you have that kind of attitude, then the Supreme can manifest in and through you.

If God feels that by making you well-known on earth He will have a better instrument to spread His Light, He will definitely do so. But it is not at all essential that one be great on the earthly plane in order to run very fast in the spiritual life. Ninety-nine times out of one hundred it is more difficult, almost impossible, to run very fast inwardly after one has achieved tremendous outer success.

So it is best to surrender to God's Will; then it is up to God whether or not to make you successful or great among human beings. Surrender is the safest way. Otherwise, what you want you may be given, but your spiritual life will not be able to come to the fore any more. There is nothing wrong if material success and spiritual success go together, provided you are ready to sacrifice everything for spiritual success. But usually what happens is just the opposite. When material success begins to make demands on us, we sacrifice our spiritual life to the demands of the material life.

We may think that as material success is the achievement of name, fame and wealth, spiritual success is the achievement of Peace, Light and Bliss. But real spiritual success is the conscious surrender of our will to the Will of the Almighty. Then, if it is His Will, in the spiritual world He can make us a great Yogi and, at the same time, in the physical world He can make us a famous poet. But if our only wish, our only desire, is to become a famous poet, He may fulfil that wish, but when we become a great poet, there is no certainty that our spiritual life will be secure or that we will be able to run very fast in the spiritual life.

If we offer our will to the Will of God, He can make us anything He wants. If we have that kind of surrender, then He will use His own Wisdom in making us successful in the outer world or in the inner world or both. Again, if He wants us to remain the most insignificant, useless person on earth, we will gladly do it.