Question: Do you think that the kind of extended family that is found in India, in which fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles all live together, could create a more stable society in the West?

Sri Chinmoy: It entirely depends on the consciousness of the individual members. Again, something can be applicable to a particular part of the world while it is not applicable at all somewhere else. Because of the way Western society came into existence, I feel in America the extended family is not needed. America has to grow in its own way by cultivating more love. In Indian society, the family members live together and grow together; there is a togetherness. But in America the sense of freedom is always taking the family members away. At first there will be four members of a family living together, and then it becomes three members and two members as the children move away. Sometimes the two remaining members very nicely get divorced. They are not satisfied with what they have and what they are. They try to get joy from separation, but there is joy only in oneness. One by one, about each family member they say, “He is not dear to me; she is not dear to me.” Finally they come to the point where there is nobody in their life.

I am not saying that Indians are satisfied with the extended family — far from it. But the qualities of the heart generally are more predominant in India than in the West. Indians make many blunders, but at the same time they try to make themselves feel that they belong to one family. In America, when the father becomes eighty or ninety years old, the son has nothing to do with him. The son is supposed to visit his father once a week, let us say, but on that day he will go to a movie or go on a picnic. In India, no matter how bad the father is, the son feels that it is his bounden duty to take care of him. Even if the children are poorer than the poorest, they will always take care of their parents according to their capacity.

For so many years the parents give the children everything that they have. They shower their children with affection and help them go to college. If their children have become great today, it is because the parents have helped them to become great. But in return the children often give their parents their indifference. The parents are sent to a nursing home and the children lead their own lives.

We have the body, vital, mind, heart and soul. If today I renounce my body, if tomorrow I renounce my vital and if the day after tomorrow I renounce my mind, then what will I have left? If I have a pain in my arm, shall I amputate my arm? Then afterwards I will have nothing! This is what the Western world does — cut off, cut off, cut off! But the positive approach is to say that if something is defective, then I will try to cure it and make it perfect. If my mind and vital are bad, then I will transform and illumine them.