Question: What is the correct attitude for us to take when you praise us and when you scold us?

Sri Chinmoy: When I say nice things about you, you feel that you deserve it; and when I say unkind things, you feel that you do not deserve it. That is our human mind! Now, when I smile at you and say something nice, that is the time you have to feel that you have done next to nothing, but out of my infinite compassion I am appreciating you. This will increase all your divine qualities. You have given me a drop in the form of service, and I am giving you an infinite ocean of affection, love, joy and gratitude. If you immediately feel that you do not fully deserve what I have said, then it will increase your humility. From that humility so many divine qualities will arise and increase within you.

Again, if I scold you, you may feel that you do not deserve it, that I am getting malicious pleasure by scolding you unnecessarily. That is the time when you have to say, "If I really care for my Guru, do I not have the feeling that he also cares for me? I do care for my Master. That is why I have done many good things for him. If I care for him, does he not have the capacity or willingness to care for me?" Then the answer will come: "Yes! He also has the capacity to care for me the way I care for him. Whether he cares for me more than I care for him, or I care for him more than he cares for me, is not important. Only our mutual care and concern is important. He is scolding me because he has taken responsibility for me."

I will not go outside and scold a barking dog or somebody in the street who is doing some thing undivine or absurd, because that is not my responsibility. But I have taken you as my own, and you have taken me as your own. So if both of us have taken each other as our own, then is it not my duty to show concern for you?

If you feel you do not deserve my scolding, just say to yourself, "Although I do not deserve this scolding, even so Guru is showing his concern for me." You have to feel that even my unjust scolding is based on my concern for you. I am not getting malicious pleasure! If I got malicious pleasure while scolding each and every individual, then I could go out into the street and start finding fault and scolding people right and left.

Each time you think that you do not deserve my scolding, only feel that my concern is there, inside my scolding. It is my concern that is coming in the form of my displeasure. Again, it is my concern that comes to the fore to appreciate, admire and adore you when you do something good, because I know that when I appreciate, admire and adore you, you will take the longest step forward. In exactly the same way if you can take my scolding, then you make the fastest progress.

I can help you make the fastest progress in two ways: by smiling at you, when it is necessary, and by frowning at you, when it is necessary. When a child is sick, the mother keeps the child on a very special diet. When the child is strong, the mother gives the child something else to eat. It is the same child and the same mother, but at that time when the child is sick, and if necessity demands, the mother gives the child a very light, special preparation. So here also, in exactly the same way, when you do something wrong, it is a special kind of food that I give you. If you eat that food, then again you will become strong. And when you become strong once more, then you again get my blessing, my affection and my concern, because you are doing the right thing.

My displeasure people can cherish for days and months and years. Again, just one week ago if I showed someone tremendous appreciation, admiration and gratitude, that does not count. Let us say that a bucket full of nectar you have achieved from your aspiration. One drop of poison from the doubting mind, the mind that separates, is enough to destroy the whole bucket of nectar. The power of the negative force, the doubt-poison, is infinitely greater than the power of the positive force.

Again, if you take always the positive attitude, then the negative force does not come into existence. When you get a scolding from me, just say to yourself, "My Guru is doing everything for my good. He has taken full responsibility for me, so it is up to him to decide what to do. He has taken it as his bounden duty to love me. So if he wants to prove that he cares for me, then he will try to perfect me. And if he really cares to perfect me, then he has his own ways. He need not only smile. He may sometimes express displeasure, anger and other aspects of his." Then, in a few days, if you are sincere and if you again become receptive, you will say, "Oh, I am so lucky! My Guru could have scolded me more severely. Now I feel that my crime was more serious than I thought. Before I thought that it was not even a crime and that he had unnecessarily scolded me. Now I feel that my action was indeed a crime, and a serious one."

Something else I wish to tell you. Countless times disciples have done wrong things, but the Supreme in me has either forgiven them or ignored these almost unforgivable blunders. Some disciples will not believe it. You think that in twenty or twenty-five years you have made perhaps ten mistakes, and that there have been years when you have made no mistakes, according to your judgement. Everything that you do, even when you do something wrong, immediately you justify. You say it was unavoidable. You do it deliberately, and then you say it was unavoidable. When you do something wrong and justify it by saying that nobody could have done otherwise, so it was unavoidable, then it becomes justifiable to you.

Like that, practically every day, or at least five or six times a week, almost everybody will justify their mistakes. They say, "I could not have done otherwise. Nobody could have done otherwise, so I was caught. I had to do it." Each time they make a mistake, they justify it. They do not want to correct it; they do not want to illumine it. It goes on year after year, in every disciple's life: "Nobody could have done better, so why do you have to blame me?" If it is a mistake, we have to confess that it is a mistake. Then the right thing is to say, "Oh no, I made a mistake! I will not do it any more."

We cannot make even one mistake in life if every day we value our obedience-life. If we can take obedience as the most important thing in our life, then we will succeed. No love, no devotion, no surrender, no good quality will ever be able to remain alive inside our heart, inside our life, if obedience-plant dies. You may think, "Oh, this disobedience is negligible." But today's negligible disobedience is preparatory to the worst possible disobedience to come. Our philosophy is love, devotion and surrender. If you want to increase your love, your devotion and your surrender, or even just to keep them alive on our path, obedience is necessary.

You feel that I can forgive your disobedience. Yes, I will forgive you, but you have already gone millions of miles away from my consciousness. You can fool yourself by saying, "Guru has forgiven me, and Guru will again forgive me." But you have already gone millions of miles away from my eternal concern. On the physical plane, vital plane, mental plane, psychic plane or spiritual plane, on the material plane or on any other plane, if obedience is lacking, then you will not be able to succeed.

One by one, disciples fail because of their lack of obedience. Because of disobedience, they are bound to fail. But if disciples develop sincerity, their sincerity will act like a sword to torture their own disobedience-life. Hundreds of disciples have left the path since we started our journey because of only one thing: disobedience. They disobey me either in the mental world or in the vital world or in the physical world or in some other world. When all the disobedience-thorns are collected by them, either consciously or unconsciously, then it becomes impossible for them to stay in the boat.