Question: My question is regarding manifestation and spirituality. Often, I find that more manifestation means less opportunity to become spiritually stronger. How does one find the proper balance?

Sri Chinmoy: In my case and in my disciples' case, manifestation is definitely God's Will. You are my disciple. So if it is God's Will for you to manifest His Light, you must never feel that you are doing something wrong. Unfortunately you are separating aspiration from manifestation.

As individuals we have so much eagerness to see our own improvement, to make progress. Now, if we can identify ourselves with others, will we not have the same kind of eagerness for their improvement? We are ready to offer our time, energy and everything for our own aspiration because we want to become perfect. Now God says, "Even though you are not yet perfect, I want you to help your little brother, to bring him up to a certain standard." You are one step ahead of that person. That is why God is asking you to do it. God is not asking a third person to do the same. God is not asking the other person to come and advise you. God is not asking me to take advice when I go out into the street. But He is telling me, "If you see somebody who is sincere, somebody who is receptive, give him what you have. Give him your energy, give him your light."

So coming back to aspiration, when you meditate early in the morning, even if you meditate for only fifteen minutes, if you can meditate well, then that meditation-power easily lasts throughout the day. But that meditation has to be very strong. If you fill the tank of your car with gas early in the morning, then you can cover hundreds of miles. Then again, the following day you can refill it. But if there is no gas to start with in the morning, how are you going to cover the distance? In the morning, many, many disciples do not pray or meditate. They are just fooling themselves. For two minutes or three minutes some people will sit in front of the shrine. Then they feel that that is enough.

Early in the morning, at three o'clock or four o'clock, do I tell you to go outside and put up some posters or to go to some television station? First things first. I always say aspiration must come first. Then after your meditation is over, you can go out and do manifestation, which is your dedication. While you are meditating most sincerely, even though you are not thinking of dedication at that time, inwardly God is giving you the energy that you will need in your dedication-life.

It is like morning exercise at home. At home early in the morning you take stretching exercises. Then afterwards you go out to the track and start sprinting. At home you are only stretching. But while you are stretching your legs or doing various postures with your body, God is giving you energy. He is making you ready to enter into the battlefield of life and race against ignorance.

What happens quite often with the disciples is that as soon as they do one thing, they think of the other. When it is time to do dedicated service, they think of aspiration. Then when they are meditating early in the morning, they think of dedication. When it is time to eat, at that time they think of sleeping. And when it is time to sleep, at that time they think of eating. This is what is happening most of the time. When they are doing some dedicated work, they ask themselves why they are not aspiring. They say to themselves, "If I do not meditate, how will it be possible for me to realise God?" And then when they are meditating, after five seconds they think that if they do not go out and do some manifestation, then Guru will not be pleased. All the time, they feel that the other thing is more important. While they are aspiring they think that manifestation is infinitely more important. While manifesting they think that aspiration is infinitely more important. But, according to me, they are equally important.

A long jumper knows that if he steps on the board with his left foot, then he will be able to jump well, but if he steps with the right, he will not be able to jump well at all. How many people can take off with either leg and cover the same distance? One leg is always stronger. Again, the other leg helps while the jumper is coming to the board. At that time he is using both left and right. He is not coming only with the left leg. It is impossible. Here also, in life we have to use both aspiration and dedication. We have to see aspiration inside dedication and dedication inside aspiration. But while we are manifesting, we should not think that aspiration is more important. And while we are praying or meditating, we should not think that manifestation is more important. We will only ruin our aspiration, and we will not do either thing well.

On our path, a minimum of two times daily one should try to meditate for fifteen minutes. Out of fifteen minutes, hardly three minutes people usually meditate well. Nobody can tell me that right from the very start they have raised their consciousness to the highest. It does not happen. I see that it takes time. So out of fifteen minutes, perhaps you can expect at least five minutes of good meditation. Otherwise, no disciple of mine can meditate for fifteen minutes in their highest height.

Coming back to the point, do not neglect your aspiration. First things first. But if you cannot do the first thing, at least do the second thing, which is dedication. They go together. Again, if you cannot do your morning meditation well, at least do your evening meditation well. Of course, the ideal thing will be, when morning dawns, to do your morning meditation extremely well. When it is noon, meditate again. Then in the evening, once more do it. In this way, you will have no problem at all.

You know that eating breakfast is one thing, lunch is something else, and supper is something completely different. We do not eat our dinner at breakfast time. They have to be done one after another. Similarly, if you can meditate three times a day most soulfully — ten minutes in the morning, ten minutes at noon, ten minutes in the evening — then you will be able to value everything. When aspiration is needed, you will be able to give full value to aspiration. When dedication is needed, you will be able to give full value to dedication. After aspiration comes dedication and manifestation. If there is no aspiration, dedication cannot come into existence. So let us aspire early in the morning. Right after our aspiration, God will give us boundless energy and opportunities for dedication. And while we are performing our dedicated service, we will see that it is God's Divinity within us that is being manifested.

I do not see any conflict between aspiration and dedication, provided they are being done at the time they are needed. Without aspiration how can one climb up the tree? Again, will it be fair if you climb up the tree and sit on the topmost branch, enjoying the fruit to your heart's content, while at the foot of the tree your dear ones are crying for a mango? Will you be able to devour the mangoes all by yourself? No, your heart will break because your aspiration demands sincerity, concern and compassion. Aspiration is something divine in you that lifts you up. Based on that divine thing, you are on the top of the tree. If something divine lifted you up, and the same divine thing still keeps you up, then will that divine part of you not ask you to come down? It is not your spiritual descent; it is only to offer the fruits to others so they too can eventually be strong enough to climb up the way you have climbed up.

Manifestation is difficult, especially for Indians, because our mind is on aspiration. For Westerners, dedication is comparatively easier because they are accustomed to a dynamic life. Their movement is forward. As Indians, our movement is upward. Whether you go upward or inward or forward, all the movements go together. If you go one inch higher, then at that exact moment you are also going one inch deeper and one inch forward. So these three movements — forward, inward and upward — have to be done simultaneously. If we can really dive deep within, then we can go up like a springboard and also move forward. If we aspire most sincerely, then inside our aspiration will be the movement to dive deep within and to move forward.