Question: How can we feel that our obedience is spontaneous and joyful rather than forced?

Sri Chinmoy: Forced obedience will never give us joy. Once upon a time black slaves in America were forced to serve their white masters. Were they happy? In India there are still coolies. Do you think they get spontaneous joy from their obedience? Spontaneous joy we get only when we have identified ourselves with the person we are listening to. When we identify with our own mind and do what the mind tells us to do, immediately we get a kind of joy or happiness. The mind, let us say, is telling us that now is a good time to run because the weather is very cool. Because we have identified ourselves with the mind, happily we are going out to run. But suppose at that moment the heart says, "No, because it is so cool and my mind is so quiet, this is the time to read Guru's books or sing some spiritual songs." If we are identified with the heart at that time, we will get spontaneous joy by reading spiritual books or singing spiritual songs.

Although we do get a kind of happiness when we are identifying with the mind and doing what the mind tells us to do, that kind of happiness is not real joy. When the mind is asking us to do something, very often it is creating millions of doubts in us. This moment it tells us to do one thing, and the next moment it hesitates and tells us to do something else. This moment it tells us to have faith in our spiritual life, and we are happy with our faith. The next moment it creates doubts in us and we get happiness by doubting our spiritual life. In so many clever ways it is possible to get spontaneous happiness by identifying with the mind's jugglery — by doubting God one moment and having faith in God the next moment — but this will never give us real joy.

So we have to use our wisdom and see what we should identify with and claim as our real boss: the mind or the heart. At one moment the mind-boss tells us to do something, but the next moment it comes to us with doubt and hesitation. And while we are doubting and hesitating, the mind is somewhere else, enjoying our doubt and hesitation. In no way is it giving us determination or helping us at all. On the other hand, the heart is not only telling us to do the right thing but, at the same time, it is helping us do the right thing, the thing that will expedite our spiritual journey and bring God's Hour closer. So it is by identifying with the heart and listening to the heart that we can get real spontaneous joy.

The heart tells us to pray and meditate, and the joy we get from our prayers and meditations is real joy. True, we cannot pray and meditate for twenty-four hours a day, because we are working and carrying out our multifarious activities. But during the day we can remember the joy we got from our morning meditation. In the morning we remained inside our heart-garden for some time. Then, let us say, we entered into the mind-jungle. But even inside our mind-jungle we can remember the beauty and fragrance that we experienced earlier that day in our heart-garden, and that will give us tremendous joy.