Question: Can intense devotion and longing for God go together with an attitude of divine surrender where there is no preconceived idea or preference other than the desire for the fulfilment of God's Will, or are the two approaches mutually exclusive?6

Sri Chinmoy: They always have to go together. On one side is our intense desire to become one with God’s Will, to dive into His infinite Consciousness, Light and Bliss. That is our sleepless and breathless longing. Then at the same time, we shall say, “Let Thy Will be done.” When we are longing for God, we say to God, “I feel that this is the best way, but You may feel that it is not best for me. I feel that it is best for me because I am longing for You. I am not asking for anything. I only want to be inseparably one with Your Will throughout Eternity, lovingly, devotedly, self-givingly.” When we make unconditional surrender to God, we say, “Even if You do not give me what I want, I shall not mind in the least. I only came to fulfil You at every moment throughout my life.”

So these two approaches are complementary. Otherwise, someone may say, “Let Thy Will be done,” and that person may be a lazier than the laziest human being. Does “Let Thy Will be done” have any meaning at that time? Again, I may get up early in the morning and pray and meditate. Then I may sing or lift heavy weights or do something else because I feel from within that God wants me to do these things. Afterwards if I say, “Let Thy Will be done,” at that time this prayer has meaning.

Is it a bad thing to pray to God for peace, light and bliss? We are not praying to God to give us ten houses or ten cars or earthly possessions to make us multi-millionaires — no. We are praying to God to make our minds pure. If our mind is pure, then we will be able to receive the world, see the world, feel the world in a divine way. But if we start only by saying, “Let Thy Will be done,” and if in our heart there is no hunger even for a meeting with God, then we are only fooling ourselves. To realise God, we have to pray and meditate and do many things. Without praying and meditating, without identifying ourselves with God’s Will, if we just say, “Let Thy Will be done” — that anybody can do. People who are in the street, people who are absolutely lazybones can have that type of surrender. Good seekers will get up at six o’clock to meditate, while those lazy people will get up at eight or nine o’clock and then say, “Let Thy Will be done.”

Jesus Christ first prayed and meditated, and then he gave the message “Let Thy Will be done.” That was not his first message but his last message. Before that, he prayed, he meditated and he gave people illumination. In our Bhagavad Gita, Krishna told Arjuna, “Fight, fight, fight for the good. That is your dharma. You have to fight.” The last thing he told Arjuna was, “Place everything at My Feet.” He did not say first to place everything at His Feet. First he said, “Fight! It is a righteous cause.” My philosophy is the same as Lord Krishna’s — we have the right to work, but we cannot claim the fruits of our actions. Here work means that we shall pray, we shall meditate, we shall love God, we shall devote ourselves to God, we shall surrender our will to God’s Will. Our inner wisdom tells us that these are very good things.

Then if God does not give us peace, light and bliss, we will say, “Let Thy Will be done. I want You to be my only Captain. I thought that if I prayed to You to give me peace, light and bliss, You would be happy. I have not asked for earthly name and fame or any kind of desire-fulfilment. I am asking You for Your Blessings, for Your Love, for Your Grace, so that I can become inseparably one with Your Will.” If we can have that kind of attitude, will God not be pleased? Will God not bless us?

Real surrender says to God, “If you do not want me to have oneness with Your Will all the time, if you want to make somebody else close to You, then I will not mind. I am doing everything I can to please You, but if You want to give somebody else peace and bliss instead of me, I will be equally happy.” This is called real surrender. Otherwise, we will say, “I prayed and prayed, and now what is this? That person did not pray as much as I did. That person did not surrender to God. That person did not love God. Why is he getting God’s Blessing-Gifts?”

A truly surrendered attitude will say, “I have done my best. Now if You want to give the results, give them to anybody You want to. I have tried so hard to climb up the tree. But if You want to give the fruits to somebody else who has not even climbed the tree, then please pluck the fruit from the highest branch and give it to him. I will not mind.” That is called oneness with God’s Will.

Oneness with God’s Will we already have to a certain extent. That is why we are praying and meditating to identify ourselves with God’s Will, to merge into God’s infinite Consciousness, Love and Joy. That is very good. Now, side by side with this, we have to say, “I am doing it to please You, but if You do not want to please me, no harm. Whomever You want to please, kindly please.”

Now I wish to tell you something amusing. As you know, my eldest brother Hriday was the one who prayed and meditated the most in our family. Once he complained to me jokingly, “I prayed and meditated for hours and hours — for years — even long before you were born. Now what is this? God has given you the realisation. What have I been doing?”

My brother was saying this in a cute family way, but if he had had real surrender, he would have said, “All right. I prayed and meditated. If God wants to give my brother the realisation, I do not mind.”

My other brother Chitta was a poet. He taught me how to write poetry and always encouraged me in my poetry. He could have said, “I taught him how to write poems. Now he has written thousands and thousands of poems. God, what have You done? Why did You not give me the capacity to write thousands and thousands of poems?” Instead, because of his oneness with me and his implicit surrender to God’s Will, he was so proud of his younger brother’s achievements.

So my brothers were showing two different attitudes. The first one said, “Long before he was born, I was praying and meditating. How is it that God is pleased with him and not with me?” The other one could have easily said the same thing: “I taught him to write poems. Now why did he get the capacity to write so many poems and not me?” But instead, he was so proud that he was my teacher. This was his attitude.

Again, on another occasion, my eldest brother Hriday did show his oneness with God’s Will. On one particular day, the man who wrote Tomari hok joy came to our house early in the morning and said, “I never knew that Madal was so great! I am absolutely sure he was Gorakshanath. Last night I saw that in the vital worlds somebody was in serious trouble. Then Madal came and showed his occult power and all the hostile forces disappeared. Definitely he was Gorakshanath.”

At that time my brother Hriday said, “I knew it long ago. I got that message in my meditation long ago.” Can you imagine! My brother never told me; he never told anybody. He knew long before that I was Gorakshanath. This was the same brother who said that I never prayed and meditated. He definitely knew that I had achieved my realisation in a previous life.

To come back to your question, we shall pray to God to give us peace, light, bliss and other divine qualities. Then we shall say, “If You do not want to give me these things, if You have something else in mind, I am ready to abide by Your Will.” But if we only say, “Let Thy Will be done,” and at the same time there is nothing divine, nothing spiritual, nothing illumining, nothing fulfilling growing inside us, then it will be useless.

God inspires us from deep within to sow the seed. Then it is up to God whether that seed will grow into a plant or eventually into a huge banyan tree. Our job is only to sow the seed. We will pray, “O my Beloved Lord Supreme, do give me the readiness, give me the willingness, give me the eagerness, give me the sleepless hunger to feel You inside my heart, inside my life, inside my breath.” This is absolutely necessary. Then immediately we will say, “I am praying for these things, but if You do not want to give them, no harm.” The whole day we will pray for these things. Then when evening sets in, we will say, “The day is over. Now let Your Will be done. If You have not granted my prayer, I am not at all sad — no, no, no! Since that is Your Will, I do not have to worry.”

The Bhagavad Gita tells us that if we do not pray to God for good things, then we will be very idle. We will only lie down and say, “God, let Thy Will be done.” Will God listen to us at that time? Then again, if you can pray to God not for yourself, but for your Guru’s manifestation, that is excellent. The only problem is that afterwards there can be a kind of frustration. You may say, “Oh God, I am such a fool! I cared for him, only for him, and now I have not got even an iota of peace, light or bliss. I should also have prayed at least for a little peace of mind.”

If we want to have good things, there is no harm in praying for them. Then again there are twenty-four hours at our disposal each day. You can also pray for the manifestation of God’s Light. After that you can pray for the capacity to surrender to God’s Will. All these things you need. When you go to school, you study seven or eight subjects — history, geography, science — there is no end to the number of subjects. In the inner school can you not do the same? If you study three or four subjects together, then they become complementary. While you are studying one subject, the other subjects can come to help you.

When we ask for good things, there is no time limit. We can go on praying for them throughout Eternity. When we ask for bad things, oh God, tomorrow we will say to God, “Take them away! No more, no more, absolutely!” Today if I smoke, tomorrow I will pray, “O God, no more, enough, enough!” Tomorrow I will not want to smoke any more. But today if I am able to drink even a small quantity of Nectar, tomorrow I will pray, “O God, let me have more, let me have more.”

God will never tell me that I am greedy if I ask Him for peace, bliss or anything divine. He will say, “That is what I want. My child, I have infinite Peace, infinite Light, infinite Bliss. Take it, take it, take it.” But when I ask for material things — name, fame, possessions, this and that — God gives a little and then He says to me, “Please do not ask Me for this any more.” Unfortunately, many of us do not have the ear or the heart to listen to God. Shamelessly, tomorrow again we ask Him for more.

So you can pray for peace, light, bliss and other things, and then you can pray, “Let Thy Will be done.” Again, you can start with the daily prayers that I have given you — I must conquer my doubt, jealousy, insecurity and so on. Then gradually, gradually, in the same way that when you study for a Master’s degree you limit your studies to only one or two subjects, you can decrease the number of your prayers. You can start by praying to conquer impurity, jealousy, insecurity, despair and even your sense of helplessness. All these subjects you are studying. Then gradually, gradually you will be able to give up those studies because you have completed them. Then you will come down to two or three subjects.

After you have completed all the prayers, after you have prayed to God for oneness with Him throughout Eternity, then your last prayer will be, “Let Thy Will be done. I have prayed for all the good things that I know of. Now it is up to You. All the things that I have asked for are good for me. If I have purity, then I will be able to help the whole world. I will be able to see the world and all human beings in a new light. If I conquer insecurity, then I will be able to establish my oneness with the whole world. If You give me all the things that I have asked for, then I will be able to use them for a divine purpose. I will be able to manifest You in a divine way. But then again, if You do not want me to manifest You, if You do not want to give me these things, it is up to You. I came into the world only to please You in Your own Way.” That should be our attitude.

SCA 786. Sri Chinmoy answered this question on 19 February 2000 in New York.