Question: Most of us have a habitual way of operating no matter how many times you say you are displeased with us. Is it likely that we will change that habit after such a long time and make new progress?

Sri Chinmoy: There are various reasons why you do not make progress and why, even when you do make progress, you cannot maintain that progress. First of all, you expect everything from your Master but you are not prepared to give anything in return. Sometimes you want to give only according to your willingness and not according to your capacity. Willingness and capacity are two totally different things. You have the capacity to give your body, vital, mind, heart and soul completely, but you are willing to give only the heart — not the mind or the vital or the physical reality. Yet you do have the capacity to give yourself unreservedly and unconditionally. When I use the term 'unconditionally', I sincerely mean it; and I know that you can do it. Unconditionally you can give your physical existence, vital reality, mind and heart to me. You can give everything. This is your capacity. But your willingness is only to give a portion, an iota of your heart's love and concern to me.

Now the question is whether or not the disciples will change. I wish to tell you that they do change for a few seconds or a few hours or a few days or weeks, but it does not last. Why does it not last? The first reason is constant demand, constant demand. If somebody has done something good in the inner world or the outer world, then the Master may smile at that person. But the next person may not have done anything good. On the contrary, he may have done something very, very wrong. But that person often expects the same kind of smile from the Master. A disciple will say, "Guru has to do this for me, since I am in his boat." Or a disciple will feel, "He spent so much time with this person. Why did he not spend time with me?"

But you have to know who is the boss here. The boss is not a human boss who has to deal with everybody in the same way. If everybody has to be dealt with in the same way, then there will be a terrible disaster immediately. If you put a lion, a cat, a goat, a dog, a cow and all the other animals together, what happens? They will just kill one another. My smile and my outer attention are like two kinds of food. Different disciples need different types of nourishment from me, just as different animals need different kinds of food. If an animal is supposed to eat meat and I give that animal grass, will that animal be able to survive? And if an animal eats only grass and I give it meat, then will it survive? You have to feel that the food that I give you at a particular point in your spiritual life is the only food that will be nourishing for you. If I give you the food that is meant for somebody else, then it will be a terrible mistake on my part. A little child will eat something very easy to digest, while an adult can eat something that is harder to digest. In my spiritual family, everybody seems to think that he can eat the food of the eldest member of the family or of one who is more mature. Spiritual maturity is not measured by age: it is a different matter.

Right now my disciples are making me suffer like anything. When I look at a person, I try to give him something spiritually while I am giving prasad. I use a particular way of benediction or blessing so that that person can receive most effectively from me. But the persons who are behind him observe it and they expect the same treatment. Suppose you are sick; you have got a headache and I am giving you some blessing with my prasad so that this nourishment will cure you and add to your strength. If somebody else has got an upset stomach, then I have to give him some other treatment. But if that person thinks that the medicine I gave to the first one should be given to him also, then he is making a deplorable mistake. So I have come to the conclusion that whenever I give something, I should give it privately.

For the last few days I have been thinking of doing something new. When I give you prasad in the future, I will sit in a room and each individual will pass through the room. I will not allow two persons to remain inside the room together. One by one you will come so that you do not see what others have received from me. You should be satisfied with what you have received and not make foolish comparisons.

But again, there are always some tricky people. I was brought up in a spiritual community where this treatment was carried out for some time. But some people were so clever. When they were with their spiritual Master all by themselves, even if the Master meditated on them only for three or four seconds, before leaving they wasted as much time as possible. The Master was finished, but they wouldn't budge an inch. They looked around the room for some time; then they moved out like a turtle, slower than the slowest, so that they could prove to others who were standing outside that they had spent more time with the Master. Once or twice this happened to me, believe it or not. In my house on the third floor I have that tiny meditation room where I now keep my musical instruments. Some people meditated with me there for only four or five seconds, but it took them three or four minutes to go out of that room and downstairs. They wanted to show that they had been with me for a long time. If people have deception in mind, then they can deceive at every moment. But who are they deceiving? They are deceiving their own spirituality.

What is constantly taking away spirituality from the disciples is that they are constantly comparing what others are getting with what they are getting. They should try to feel that what they are getting is by far the best for them, and what others are getting is by far the best for those people. If they think that only what others are getting is meaningful and fruitful and that what they are getting is all rubbish, then they will be able to make no progress. What they have got, what they are getting and what they will get is absolutely the best thing for them.

The disciples have to know that I also have a superior. As I am asking you to do something, my superior, the Supreme, is also asking me to do something. If they know that I have a superior, that I am one with His Will and that I have to account to Him for my actions, then they can have nothing against me. But if they feel that I am acting like an autocrat or a dictator, according to my own sweet will, then they will become angry with me. They will feel that I am doing something wrong, that I am partial. But their own sense of impartiality will be total partiality in the Supreme's Eyes; it will be spiritual disaster. If the disciples feel that I have no superior, that I do everything in my own way, then naturally they will feel that their boss is not listening to the Supreme. Next they will ask themselves why should they stay in his boat. That is the time for them to leave the path. Many have come to that realisation and they have left.

If the disciples stay on our path, then I wish them to stay with satisfaction. If somebody is staying on our path with satisfaction, then only he will get everything. But some unfortunate disciples only stay because they feel that if they leave the path they will be jumping into the unknown. So they feel the best thing for them is to stay. They say, "After all, it is just one life. After thirty or forty years, we shall leave the body and pass beyond the curtain of Eternity." In so many ways you can console and justify yourself or make yourself feel that it is not worthwhile to change your path. But I wish to say that unless you are totally satisfied with the path and with what you are doing, God-realisation will not come from this path. This you have to know.

The eagerness, the joy, the enthusiasm that each individual had when he or she joined the path must be kept alive every day. Inside eagerness is newness. You are eager to get something, to receive something. But how can you get it? You can get it only if you value newness in life. When that eagerness goes away, the sense of newness does not come. In the case of most of the disciples, eagerness has gone away. When you joined our path, you saw something new. Every day something new in this path, in your life, in your activities you saw. You have to know that newness is still coming into your life every day in a different form when you achieve more peace, more light, more joy, more harmony and more oneness with the Will of the Supreme which is operating in and through me. But if you lose eagerness, if the sense of newness is not coming to you, then you have to feel that you are dead. And if you are dead, then what are you going to achieve, what are you going to do for God, for the Supreme?

Every day, think of the day when you first made a total commitment to our path. How eager you were, how happy you were! Then try to go one step ahead. Remember that the goal is not stationary but constantly dynamic. It is flowing, growing and glowing. So remember the first day of your total commitment and then feel that now, every day, you are trying for a higher goal, a brighter goal, a more illumining goal, a more fulfilling goal. If you have that kind of attitude towards your life, towards the path, then I assure you that every day you will be in the process of change and transformation. But if newness has gone away, then there will be only sadness frustration and depression. You will think. "Oh what have I done? Now I am stuck. I can't go to this side and I can't go that side. I am getting nothing from the spiritual life from this path but there is no guarantee that I will get something if I go to some other path. So the best thing is to stay here. Human life does not care for change. Once our human life is fixed, this is our karma, this is our fate." No, this kind of attitude you cannot have.

Always we have to see that our human life is flowing, climbing, growing and glowing. Movement is constant. If we know that there is a constant flow, then our life will be like a river. We will have constant eagerness to run, to change, to move and flow and reach the sea, the infinite sea. Every day, dear ones, if you have eagerness to transcend the goal which you already reached when you accepted our path, then you will definitely make progress.

Something more I wish to say. Some of you think that as long as you do not consciously accept ignorance, embrace ignorance, or enjoy ignorance, then you are safe. But I wish to tell you that the life of temptation is like fire. If you touch fire, you know you will burn yourself. Again, in an unguarded moment your apartment may catch fire and burn you totally, even though you yourself have not consciously or deliberately touched fire. You think that as long as you do not touch fire, which is temptation-life, you are safe. But I wish to say, no: you may not deliberately touch fire, but temptation-life can come and touch you. The result is the same.

If you identify yourself with your right hand, you may think that as long as your right hand does not touch your left hand which, let us say, is temptation-life you are safe. But you have to know that your left hand also has the capacity to come and touch your right hand. You feel that you have conquered temptation; so you will not be caught by temptation. But temptation-life has its own reality. You may feel that you are not interested in temptation-life, but temptation-life will not forget you. If you allow it, it will come and touch you. Then you are destroyed.

Some of you always have this kind of feeling: "I won't be caught by this desire; I won't be caught by this temptation; I can't be, no, no. I have meditated for so many years; how can I be caught?" But I wish to say, yes, you can be caught. First of all, your assessment of yourself may not be correct. It may be totally false. But still your superior air of pride says, "No, I can't be like that; I can't be caught; I won't be destroyed." That is your feeling. But if ignorance comes and catches you, then what are you going to do? You will not touch fire, but fire can touch you. You will not enter into desire-life, but desire-life can enter into you. You will not go out of your house; therefore you think that you will not see the face of your enemy. But how do you know that your enemy will not come into your house uninvited? If you do not keep your doors and windows carefully guarded, your enemy may come in the form of a friend and enter into your apartment, into you, and then ruin you. You have to be very careful at every moment. But instead, you even enter into temptation-life or desire-life, feeling that you will not be caught, that you will not allow yourself to be caught. But temptation-life is a very powerful force that can come and catch you.

The best thing is not to go out and mix with your enemy, temptation, and also not to allow your enemy to enter into you. Remain totally separated from temptation. All of you have the feeling, "Since I won't embrace ignorance, I will not be captured by ignorance, by the lower forces or the vital life." But these forces will come and attack you. So always feel that you are not going to do anything wrong and also that you will not allow others to do anything wrong in your life. Otherwise, you will be totally ruined, because when the wrong forces of others consciously and deliberately attack you, you will just allow them to come in. You may think that this has to be something reciprocal: if you do not attack, if you do not enter into that person's life, then how will that person attack you? But that person can do anything. What he does is not up to you. You may say, "If I don't look at someone's face, why will that person look at my face?" But you know it is not like that. That person may look at your face even if you do not want to look at him. You may not do anything undivine, but others can consciously or unconsciously do undivine things in your life.

These are the reasons why you cannot make progress; these are the things that prevent you from making satisfactory progress. You have to know what others can do against you with their wrong forces. You think that you are not responsible, and you may not be responsible. But somebody else can make your life miserable and ruin your aspiration. So always remain on the alert. Feel that at any moment you may be attacked on any plane — on the physical, vital or mental plane. Be always alert, alert, alert, and then only go forward, go forward.

Always you have to feel the necessity of asking a question before you do anything: "Will Guru be pleased with me if I do this, if I say this? Will Guru approve of it? Will Guru like the idea?" Always ask these questions. If the answer is “no”, identify yourself with the answer and do not do the thing. If it is “yes”, identify yourself with the answer and do it. The moment you get the answer, just execute it. Then how will it be possible for you not to make any progress? Every day, every second, only ask yourself if you are going to please your Guru by doing this, by saying this or by becoming this. Before you do anything, ask this question. Then act according to the answer. You will definitely make progress.

Another difficulty is that the disciples, after accepting the path and making some progress, cherish a superior feeling. Consciously or unconsciously they feel that they are superior not only to others in the outside world who are not following any path, but also to their brother and sister disciples. I tell you, with this superior feeling you are destroying yourselves. Superiority and inferiority lie only in your mind. How much oneness have you established with your Master? That is your only success, your only progress. You want to establish your oneness with the leaves or the flowers or the fruits of the tree of life without touching the root and the trunk, which is the Master. The leaves are also the Master, but if you do not first claim the root and the trunk, then you are making a serious mistake; you are totally lost. You have to start from the source, which is the Master.

So, dear ones, I am telling you once and for all that if you think that you are better or more advanced than others just because you do not have this difficulty or that difficulty, this shortcoming or that shortcoming, then you are totally mistaken. You yourself will have no shortcomings only when you become consciously and constantly one with the Will of the Supreme and, at every moment, do the right thing according to the message that you get from within. Otherwise, your attitude or feeling of superiority will almost invariably cause you to make some deplorable mistake. And if you make a serious mistake once, then for six months your inner progress can stop. Or if you have made a serious, deplorable mistake, then six months' progress which you have already made can be destroyed or nullified. Again, if you do one thing right to please the Supreme in me, then rest assured that you have made six months' progress in one fleeting second. In one second you can make astonishing, astounding progress, which can last for six months. And again, in one second if you do something seriously wrong, then the Master loses all his faith in you. Once he loses faith, then your progress is totally destroyed. So always make the Master feel that he can have implicit faith in you, in your action, in your capacity, in your sincerity, in your devotedness.

You have to remember all the time that there are two worlds: the inner world and the outer world. For most of you, the inner world does not exist. Just because it does not exist for you, you think that it does not exist for me either. But this is absolutely untrue. You are not aware of the inner world. That is why you feel that whatever happens in your mind is between you and your mind. How am I going to hear it or keep track of it? But I wish to say that anything that happens in your mind, your soul knows, and your soul will immediately tell me what your mind is doing. Never think that your mind's best friend is your soul and that, therefore, your soul will hide anything undivine that is happening in the mind. No, your soul is my best friend, and it will tell me everything. Your soul will immediately tell me what your mind is doing, what your vital is doing, what your physical consciousness is doing. Again, your soul is not treacherous — far from it. Your soul and the realised part in me have undertaken the same responsibility: to make you perfect. When the other members of the family — the heart, mind, vital and physical — are doing something wrong, at that time they become lame, blind, dumb. Then your soul tells me, the doctor, that I have to come and cure you. So to all of you I am saying that you cannot deceive me, precisely because you have a soul and your soul and my existence are inseparably one.

Some of you think that I cannot read minds. But that capacity God granted me at the age of twelve. I use it hundreds and thousands of times, but I do not tell outwardly that I am doing it. If I tell outwardly, then I will lose all the disciples. I have told you before that at the age of nineteen or twenty I had a young friend who was suffering from vital problems. He had a girlfriend and he had many problems with his vital life. But my love for him was all compassion. One day we were eating together and he asked me by way of joke, "Can you read minds?" I said, "All right. Let us see whether I can read your mind or not. You just write down whatever is in your mind. Then I will tell you what you have written. Right now if I tell you what is in your mind, you will deny it. So the best thing is for you to write it down." He wrote it down and then I told him word for word what he had written. He said, "How did you do it?" I said, "It is already written on your forehead."

I lost that particular friend by telling him what was in his mind. He had been my friend for five or six years, but then he said, "O my God! That means all the evil thoughts that are in my mind, you know. Today you know and tomorrow perhaps you will tell the whole world." I said, "Have I nothing else to do?" But he said, "How can I trust you? Since you know it, you won't keep anything hidden. Today you know it; tomorrow you will tell." So he left. Even now, I have never exposed him. I am telling you about the incident, but I have never said the name of the person. But I lost that friend for good.

Sometimes when you come to me for prasad or I see you on other occasions, you try to hide the evil thoughts that are in your minds. Again, sometimes you feel that it is not necessary to try to hide them because I do not know what is inside your mind. But both times you are fooled. When you think that you are successful in hiding your thoughts, you are mistaken. And when you think that I do not see them, again you are mistaken. You will be wise only when you immediately throw your evil thoughts into me as soon as they come, and desperately tell me inwardly, "Take them, take them, take them! I am dying! I have got a spiritual heart attack. Please save me!" At that time I will become one with your heart attack and I will say, "He is suffering. Let me take it." But if you want to hide, if you do not want to take the doctor's medicine, then it is not the doctor's fault if you die. When you try to hide your undivine thoughts, you are making a serious mistake, and when you think I do not see them, you are also making a mistake.

I have the capacity to read minds, but I do not use this capacity to expose you people. I use it not to know how bad you are but to save you. So I have to use it. When you come into a room that is illumined, automatically the illumined consciousness of the room sees you. Similarly, when you come to me, my light which is all around me sees you — not to expose you but to illumine you. Unless it sees what is wrong, how can it illumine? So you do not have to be embarrassed or afraid.

Many, many times I get personal letters about vital problems, absolutely the lowest vital problems and all that. But do I get angry? On the contrary, I see the person's frankness and sincerity, and I try desperately to save him or her. But if you feel that since lower forces are bothering you, you should be ashamed, then you are making a serious mistake. You should be ashamed of your conduct only when you do not throw your suffering into me. Only when you hide it should you be ashamed. Only when you feel that I do not know what is going on should you feel ashamed. But no matter on which plane you are attacked, on the physical plane, the vital plane or the mental plane, if you immediately throw the wrong forces into me, then you are safe. Your sincerity will save you.

I have scolded you people many, many times. After each scolding I have noticed a little progress, and sometimes appreciable progress, inside some disciples. Sometimes for a few hours you make progress, sometimes for a few days, sometimes for a month or two. Then, in most cases, the progress disappears. If the disciples could maintain their progress for a few months and then transcend that progress, I would be extremely grateful to them and proud of them.

What actually happens is this. When they get a serious scolding, they feel that their spiritual life is at stake, so they have to make progress. But then, after a few days or a few weeks, again they become complacent. They feel that as long as they remain in the boat, it is enough. They say, Guru always barks, but he never bites," which is absolutely true. I bark, but I don't bite. But good disciples will say, "Why should we allow him to bark? Why should we make him play the role of a dog? He is representing God for us. G-o-d is God, d-o-g is dog. If we see God before us, we follow Him. But in the case of a dog, the dog follows us. If we really want Guru to be our God-representative on earth, then naturally it is we who have to follow him, and not the other way around. He must not play the role of a dog and follow behind us, barking and barking. Our attitude has to be totally changed. What we should do all the time is think of the Master as the representative of God, especially for us. It is we who are supposed to follow him. Whatever he does or whatever he tells us to do, we have to take it as the right thing for us."

Dear ones, I have told you so many reasons why you people do not make progress or, when you do make progress, why you cannot maintain it. At every moment you have to make yourselves feel that you have only one name: sincerity — sincerity in the physical, sincerity in the vital, sincerity in the mind, sincerity in the heart. And immediately feel that sincerity will offer everything to me. If it is good, if it is a beautiful flower, then give it to me. Again, if it is some dirty, filthy thing, then give that to me also. When a child gets a beautiful flower, he runs and gives it to his mother or father, to his dearest one. And again, when his body is besmeared with mud and dirt, he goes to his dearest mother or father. When he is the possessor of something good, he goes; when he is the possessor of something bad, he goes. He does not keep either the good thing or the bad thing for himself. He gives that very thing to his dearest one and the dearest one does the needful. If it is bad, his dearest one transforms it into good. If it is good, he transforms it into something infinitely better. Your lives also should be like that. When a wrong movement comes, give it to me to transform it. If something good enters into you, then give it to me so I can make it infinitely better, more illumining and more fulfilling.

Now your heart has to accept what I have said. After your heart has accepted it, the next thing is for your mind to have faith in your heart's acceptance. Then the vital and the physical have to accept what the mind has accepted from the heart. If you can do this, then you will become my perfect instrument and you will realise that I am your perfect Master. Otherwise, you will be imperfect and I will be imperfect. With two imperfect souls, God can achieve next to nothing.