Question: When one remembers one's previous incarnation, does he remember the totality of it and not just the negative?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know that when our progress is slow and we are fully aware of it, then we lose all interest. This is true even after accepting the spiritual life. You have accepted the spiritual life for three or four years, let us say. Your hope will be to realise God and manifest God at the end of fifteen or sixteen years. But if at the end of your incarnation you have not realised God, then you will feel miserable. The progress is so slow. Being fully conscious in this incarnation, you are trying to realise God and you are seeing how hard the spiritual path is. In previous incarnations you may not have accepted the spiritual life, so you were not aware of how slow your progress was. If you are totally unconscious of the existence of spirituality, then how are you going to make any satisfactory progress?

When you don't make satisfactory progress, what happens? You feel miserable, because at that time the negative forces predominate. You do have a positive force to some extent; that is why you are still going forward. But then when you make a comparison between your life of desire and your life of aspiration, you feel that it is the life of desire that looms large and that there is no aspiration, or very little aspiration in you. But you have to feel that there is definitely something positive inside you; otherwise, you would not have come to the spiritual life proper in this incarnation.

But progress can be very, very slow, and when we come to realise how slow the progress is, we take the negative approach. We become discouraged, and think, "Oh, I spent so many years — four hundred or five hundred years — just to come to the spiritual life. It has taken me hundreds and hundreds of years just to come to the school, and now I have to study for God knows how many years!" It is as if someone has come all the way from India to America to God's school, and when he sees the school, he realises that he will have to study there for many years. So if you take it in this way, the spiritual life may disappoint and dishearten you. But this is the wrong attitude. Right now do not think of the goal. Think only of the next step. Think of what you have to do today. In this way slowly and steadily you will make progress.