Question: Can we usually tell when a message comes from the heart?

Sri Chinmoy: You may think a message is coming from your heart, but the vital is right next to the heart. The spiritual heart is not in the middle of the chest but a little towards the right, whereas the vital is on the left side. It can be the dynamic vital; it can be the emotional vital. The vital is so deceptive. It hovers just near the heart and fools you. And when the vital approaches the mind, it gets nourishment there. The mind gives the vital most delicious encouragement-food because it wants to take the vital's help in defeating the heart. It will try to defeat the heart's divine impulses by hook or by crook.

The spiritual heart is fought by the mind and betrayed by the vital. Most people confuse the emotional vital with the aspiring heart, feeling that it is so luminous, so high, so sublime, so pure. But only spiritual Masters who have realised God can always recognise the real inner voice. Otherwise, the voice may come from one place but make you feel that it is coming from someplace else.

Again, very often what people take as the inner voice comes not from the vital but from the mind itself. The mind is speaking and the mind is also listening. And while listening, the mind is dragging along the body, vital and heart as well. I have had some disciples who believed they were getting inner messages when they meditated on my picture. They insisted that these messages, which came from my picture, were higher or more authentic than the messages I gave them directly in the physical, face to face. This is the stupidity of the human mind!

Sri Aurobindo had a disciple who was on the verge of realisation. Like me, he came from Chittagong. Then he started getting inner messages. Sri Aurobindo personally said, "No, these are coming from your vital, from your mind. These are wrong forces." The disciple said, "Oh no, you have come to me in a most luminous form and told me to do such and such." Sri Aurobindo said, "If I am your Guru, then why are you not listening to me? Just listen to what I tell you in person, and do not look at my picture! If you have to make a choice between me and my picture, which will you choose? At least while I am on earth, listen to me." But the disciple said, "No, when I look at your picture, I get high experiences." Sri Aurobindo told him these were all mental hallucinations, but he did not listen. Instead of realising God, he was caught by the hostile forces which fooled his mind.

I am telling all of my disciples, if you consider yourselves my disciples, please listen to me and not to my picture if you are getting two different messages. The picture did not create me; I created the picture. If outwardly I tell you something, that is what you should believe. Listen to the messages that come out of my mouth, if they are different from any inner message that you feel you are getting from my picture.