Question: I understand you spent time at Sri Aurobindo's Ashram. I was very impressed that all the members of the Ashram are celibate at all ages. Even married, they practise brahmacharya, or continence. I've noticed that many of your devotees don't have children. I'm wondering how you instruct them or inspire them or talk about this area of brahmacharya in marriage.

Sri Chinmoy: It is all based on my personal experience in the inner world, which grew out of my prayer and meditation. Each spiritual Master entirely depends on the adesh, or divine command. At the age of 32 I was commanded by my Lord Supreme to come to America to be of service to seekers here. Most of my students are unmarried. I ask them what they actually want from life: joy or pleasure. There is a great difference between the two. Pleasure-life is always followed by frustration, and frustration is followed by destruction. Once we are really frustrated, our destruction is imminent. But if we get even an iota of bliss from our prayer and meditation, immediately our inner being is swimming in the sea of light and delight. During our meditation, if for five seconds we get a glimpse of divine light, the whole day we are flying in the sky of Infinity and swimming in the sea of delight.

I tell my disciples, "I did not touch your feet and beg you to join our path. No, you saw and felt something in me and I also saw and felt something in you. It was not one-sided — no, no, no! I felt in you a real inner hunger and you felt in me a real elder brother who would show you utmost love and compassion. Once upon a time you were wallowing in the pleasures of ignorance, but now you are aspiring and consciously crying for light. So the only thing that will really satisfy and fulfil you is the inner joy that you will get from your prayer and meditation."

Fifteen or twenty years ago, before they came to our path, some of my students were taking drugs. Once they saw me, when I was giving talks or answering questions or meditating with them, they gave up their drug-life because they realised that this food would not nourish them anymore. They wanted something else. A child of one or two will take mud and clay as his food. Whatever he sees around him, he will eat. His mother will scold him and teach him to eat proper food. Then, when the child grows up, he will want to eat only proper food. In exactly the same way, once we enter into the spiritual life we stop eating the mud and clay of pleasure-life and drink only the inner nectar of divine joy.

Every second we can go higher or go lower, depending upon what we see, do and enter into. I go to many Indian restaurants and eat spicy food; the human in me may like this. But today's food has pleased the divine in me immensely because it was so sattvic. From today's food I got real, divine nourishment, not only because the food was so pure, but also because I am here with Gurudeva and his dearest devotees. In other Indian restaurants I do not hear the Vedic chants; instead I get rock and roll or other undivine music. I am trying to eat, but the lower vital forces and bad vibrations there are trying to pull me down, so I am all the time on tenterhooks. But here I do not have to worry, for who is going to bring whom down? On the contrary, here we are only lifting each other up.

Editor: Are you saying in a subtle way that you feel brahmacharya is important to spirituality?

Sri Chinmoy: Absolutely, but for some I cannot expect it to happen immediately. If somebody is studying at the high school level, I cannot expect him to suddenly take a Masters degree. Also, this is the twentieth century, and I try to be practical with my students. To people who are married, I say, "Do not try to become celibate overnight. Slowly and steadily reduce your physical, earthly hunger."

Again, there are some who are ready to run very fast in their spiritual life. Perhaps they were born into a spiritual family, and their parents and older brothers and sisters are already practising spirituality, so they have that background. People who are already awakened are more than ready to follow the strict discipline of a celibate life. I tell them, "It is up to you how fast you want to run along Eternity's Road. If you are eager to go the fastest, if you are thirsting for light, then you have to do the things that are absolutely necessary to increase your speed."

Editor: What are those things?

Sri Chinmoy: Our philosophy is:

Asato ma sad gamaya
tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
mrityor ma amritam gamaya

Lead me from the unreal to the Real.
Lead me from darkness to Light.
Lead me from death to Immortality.

As an individual I know what is binding me, you know what is binding you, he knows what is binding him. We can call it temptation or ignorance or something else, but it reveals itself in various ways. What is preventing one person from making progress is different from what is preventing somebody else from making progress. Somebody is suffering from jealousy; somebody else is suffering from insecurity or impurity. But whatever our problem, we can always find the solution by surrendering the problem to God, our Inner Pilot.

Let us say that somebody is suffering from impurity. I tell that person, "Think of yourself as a child of six or seven. You went out and played in the mud, and now your whole body is smeared with dirt and clay. But you know that there is somebody who can immediately make you clean again, and that is your mother. So you run to your mother and she cleans you." When a child runs to his mother, he is not ashamed or embarrassed. He just goes to her and is immediately purified.

Similarly, no matter how many impure or undivine things we have done, there is always a Person we can come to for purification, and that is God, our Beloved Supreme. He is ever ready to help us, for this is His bounden Duty. God can never be satisfied if His child, His chosen child, is dirty and filthy. So if I have done something wrong, then I will go to the right Person to be saved, and God will immediately purify me. If a mother sees that her son has done something wrong, she immediately and secretly rectifies it because she wants the neighbours to say, "Oh, he is a very nice boy!"

We try to hide from God, but how can we hide from someone who is omnipresent? God is so affectionate and compassionate, but He tries to hide it. This is how He plays His Cosmic Game. But we have to know that at every moment God is trying to make us perfect. This is the task that He has taken upon Himself. We can never, never become worthy of God's Compassion, but He has accepted the challenge. We have not challenged God; God has challenged Himself. Our task is only to have implicit faith in Him, plus gratitude and surrender.

We all pray — you and I and everyone. Can there be a better, higher, more illumining or more fulfilling prayer than "Let Thy Will be done"? That prayer touches the supreme heights. Peace begins when expectation ends. If I do a favour for you, immediately I expect a favour in return. And if you do not reciprocate, I start finding fault with you. But when we are praying to God, our prayer has to be unconditional. That unconditional feeling is what will save us. I tell my students that it is their bounden duty early in the morning to pray and meditate, but then they have to leave it up to God to do what He feels is best, for He knows what we need in order to make the fastest progress.

Let us say a child finds a dime on the road and comes running to his father to give it to him. His only possession is that one dime, but happily he gives it to his father. So what will the father do? The father knows that with this dime his child could have bought something, or he could have hidden it like a miser. But happily and cheerfully he gave it to his father because he has such love for his father and such faith in his father. The father is so pleased with his child that he will give the child ten dollars. Because the child came to the right person, he received much more than he would otherwise have gotten.

When we offer our prayer soulfully, lovingly and unconditionally, then we get infinitely more than we can ever imagine. But our prayer has to be unconditional. We will do the right thing, but without any expectation. I tell my students, "Why do you have to expect? Are you a beggar? If you know your Father is all for you and if you claim your Father as your own, very own, then how can you not have faith that He will give you whatever you need?" A small child knows only how to cry. If he is hungry, he cries, and his mother comes running to him no matter where she is. The child does not use the term 'milk'; he does not ask for anything in particular. His job is only to cry. Then his mother comes running with milk because she knows what he needs.

Similarly, we have to cry only for God to make us a good instrument of His. In our prayer we will say, "I am at Your Feet. Just make me a good instrument." In order to make me a good instrument, God will definitely make me simple, sincere, pure and self-giving. How can I be a good instrument of His if I do not have those qualities? But those good qualities I do not have to specifically mention — far from it! Only I will cry to become a good instrument of His, and the things that are needed to make me a good instrument, God will definitely give me.

Again, we have to know that there is such a thing as God's choice Hour. We sow the seed and immediately we expect the tree, but it takes time. We have to let the seed germinate. It must first grow into a tiny plant before it becomes a huge banyan tree. Spiritual seekers often make the mistake of looking for an immediate result. But we have to know that everything takes time. It is like turning on the flame of a stove. You can keep on turning the handle, but until it reaches a certain point, there is no flame. So I tell my students that they have to wait for God's choice Hour. That Hour comes only when God gives us the capacity. I will pray, but He will fulfil Himself in and through me only at His choice Hour.

All of us need and want freedom. This is not the freedom of a Caesar or a Napoleon, who wanted to conquer the world, but the freedom of Jesus Christ or Lord Krishna or Lord Buddha, who wanted only to love and serve the world. It is oneness-freedom that we are trying to have. We have to feel that the whole world belongs to us, that we are part and parcel of the world and destined to serve the world. If this is our feeling, and if we pray soulfully and unconditionally to God, then definitely we shall grow into good and perfect instruments of His.