Question: I am feeling the presence of my family today, even though they are not here physically. Is it my imagination, or are they blessing me on my birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: Definitely you are receiving your family's goodwill and blessings. Even if your brother is not thinking of you outwardly at this moment, his soul knows that it is your soul's day. His soul, your mother's soul, your father's soul and your soul all chose to be together in one particular family. So in the soul's world, the souls of your dear ones are expressing their happiness, affection and goodwill to you on your birthday. They are also renewing their mutual promise as a family to become good citizens of the world and do God's work. Right now, you may not be able to see your dear ones, but you can feel their inner presence inside your heart. In exactly the same way, if you do not see God, no harm. You can feel His Presence inside your heart by treasuring good thoughts and good feelings, which are part and parcel of God's Reality. And if you can feel God's Presence inside you, then you can mould and shape your life into a more receptive and perfect instrument of God's.

Now I am blessing you on your birthday by telling you something: if I give you one smile or say something nice about you — which I sincerely mean —- then you feel that you have conquered the whole world! At that time you do not walk on earth, you grow two wings and fly in Heaven. Then immediately two things enter into you: pride and a feeling of complacency. Definitely I want you to be happy, but when you are happy like this you invite pleasure-life and pride-life to come inside you. Unfortunately, you have invited two wrong guests and these wrong guests are like real thieves. They will rob you of everything good that is inside you. They do it secretly, secretly, secretly. They go into an unguarded room and take away everything!

So when I tell you something good about yourself, you have to cherish and preserve it. You have to keep it safe, pure and intact. At least you do not tell the whole world what I have said, but at the same time, you are not valuing it in a divine way or using it properly. You are not utilising my appreciation, my encouragement, my joy and my pride in you in a progressive way.

If I say nice things about you because you have done something good, immediately you should say, "That very thing let me do again and again, or something else that is good let me do for my Guru." But that is not happening. Once I appreciate you, you invite two guests to enter into you: lethargy (or pleasure) and pride. Then immediately your progress stops and it takes months and months for you to get back on the right track.