Question: What is patriotism?

Sri Chinmoy: Patriotism is love of one’s country, the country that has given one shelter, the country that claims one as her very own son or daughter. Patriotism is a golden opportunity for an individual to work together with his dearest motherland. When mother and son work together, they see their need of each other. The son needs the mother’s sacrifice, sympathy, love and concern; the mother needs the son’s heroism, dynamism and will-power. When all these divine qualities meet together, the country becomes a perfect instrument of God. Some countries are regarded as the fatherland. In these cases, the father’s wisdom, height, light, peace and bliss can meet with the dynamic qualities and boundless will-power of the son. At that time perfection dawns in the particular country. Both the country and the child become perfect instruments, supreme instruments for God-manifestation on earth.

Question: How can we be patriotic without separating ourselves from other countries?

Sri Chinmoy: I shall live in my own country, in my own home, and you will live in your own home. I will keep my house clean, and if you want to come, I shall welcome you as a divine guest and invite you to stay as long as you want to. I also will expect you to keep your house clean and welcome me when I want to come and visit you.

According to my experience and my capacity, I have built a house. According to your capacity, your talent, your aspiration and your determination, you have also built a house. Now our aspiration, capacity and ability have become one. We will come together, but your home will remain your home and my home will remain my home. While staying in my own home and loving my own home, I shall not criticise or belittle yours. I won’t say that my home is far superior to yours. I will feel that mine is good for me and yours is good for you. When the time comes, you will visit my house and see what it looks like and I will visit yours. This means we shall accept each other and derive benefit from each other’s experience.

When I love my country first, then my real power of love never becomes stagnant; it always runs, runs towards the Source, which is all-pervading. It is like a river flowing towards the sea. If I really love my country, then I will be able to love other countries, because by loving my own country I will learn to know what a country is to its children.

If I really love one thing, then I have the capacity to love something else. If I really love my body, I will some day have the capacity to love my soul or to love my vital or to love some other part of my being. But if I do not have love for myself, then I won’t be able to love anybody. I won’t even love God. Patriotism is a kind of expanding capacity. Today I love my mother, tomorrow I love my father, the day after tomorrow I love my brothers and sisters. Then, when I go to school, I love my teachers. Gradually I learn to love my town, then my province, then my country, then the whole world. But I start by loving one thing which is very close to me. From there my vision increases. From my mother I go to my father, then to my brothers and sisters and so on. But if I don’t love my own country, how will I be able to love somebody else’s country? If I really love my country, then gradually, gradually I will be able to expand my consciousness until finally I love the whole world.

Divine love, true love expands and expands. It has the power of constant expansion. If I really love my country divinely, then I will have a cosmopolitan view; I will love other countries as well. But if I constantly and deliberately try to find fault with my country, then gradually I will try to find fault with my city and with the members of my family, with myself and everything I have. I will find that my nose is not beautiful, my eyes are not beautiful, my hands are not beautiful and so on.

We start by loving something small and gradually we learn to love the whole universe. For a child his mother is the whole universe. Then, as he grows older, gradually his vision expands. That doesn’t mean that he loves his mother less, but inside his mother he learns to see the whole world, little by little. Similarly, inside your country you can see the existence of all other countries. Then, if you love your country, naturally you will also love all the other countries that exist inside the heart of your own country. Inside the divine qualities of your own country you are bound to see the existence of other countries; for anything that is good is vast, anything that is divine is all-pervasive. And since patriotism is good and divine, it is vast, it is infinite, it is all-pervasive.

Question: If we love our country but live elsewhere, how can we serve our country?

Sri Chinmoy: If geography separates you from your country, you can offer your goodwill to the soul of your country. You are from South Africa. Do you think that your goodwill, your love, your concern in the inner world will not enter into the soul of South Africa? When a mother is in India and her son is in America working in an office, the moment he gets a letter from his mother his whole face changes, his whole consciousness changes. He swims in the sea of his mother’s affection and love. Then immediately gratitude grows inside his heart; he becomes gratitude itself. And even if he has not received a letter, how many times his mother’s consciousness enters into the son when she thinks of him with her boundless love and concern. The mother may be far away and busy with many projects, but she constantly feels the existence of her son inside her.

If you really love your country as a son loves his mother, geographically you may remain far away, but spiritually your mother-country can be inside you and you can be inside your mother-country. This feeling is not an illusion or a product of the imagination. Far from it. From the inner world you have come to the outer world. When you cherish a divine thought, the world is divine. When you cherish an undivine thought, the world is undivine. The moment you cherish a divine thought you are bound to feel your existence inside that world. The moment you think of your mother’s love and concern for you, immediately you create a divine world of your own. And inside that world you feel the existence of your dearest mother. And when your mother thinks of you with all her affection, love, concern and blessings, she immediately creates a world of her own for you to exist inside her heart.

It is not the outer location but the inner feeling that is important. Where real concern exists, where real love exists, there the bond of oneness, inseparable oneness, reigns supreme. The son can stay in any part of the world and the mother can stay in any part of the world, but the bond of oneness which is inside their hearts can be felt and utilised at every moment. The mother will see the fulfilment of her existence inside the son no matter where he is. And the son will feel his success, his progress and the meaning and purpose of his life inside his mother.

Question: Is not patriotism restrictive even at its highest level?

Sri Chinmoy: If the patriotism is based upon the physical consciousness or the vital consciousness or the mental consciousness, then it restricts, because that patriotism does not want to go beyond the boundary of the physical, the vital or the mind. But if the patriotism comes from the soul’s oneness with the universe or from the feeling that the soul is a divine instrument, a perfect instrument of the Supreme and for the Supreme on earth, then it will not restrict. Then the physical in us, the vital in us, the mind in us will want to become part and parcel of the soul’s light and the soul’s acceptance of light here on earth. That kind of patriotism is not a hindrance at all. It is a real benefit.

Some people have tremendous feeling for their country, but it is all on the physical level or on the vital level or on the mental level; it is not on the psychic level. In the psychic there is always oneness, constant oneness, and it is the nature of oneness to expand, if I love my country, I have become one with my country. Then, if I feel the inner urge to expand my oneness, to embrace other countries, I will find no inner restriction in my patriotism. But if I keep my love and oneness only for my country, naturally I will be restricted. This kind of patriotism will not allow me to go to the Highest, the Absolute, the Universal.

We have to know that oneness is not enough. From oneness we have to grow into vastness, I can have oneness with one finger, but I want to have oneness with all my fingers. If I love my eyes, I can establish oneness only with my eyes. But my poor nose, my poor ears — what will they do? I have to establish my oneness with them too. The moment I establish oneness with everything within me and around me, I enter into universality. There God is omnipresent. While I am for all, I am also in all. At that time I am in God, I am with God and I am for God. The real reality in me is the omnipresence of God — inside me, inside you, inside everything. If I consider the omnipresence of God as the only reality, then patriotism is a true blessing.

So our patriotism has to be based in our psychic consciousness. If it is in our psychic consciousness, it is constantly expanding its oneness and entering into the Infinite. This kind of patriotism will never limit our God-realisation. On the contrary, it will teach us the process of growing from the one to the many. As I expand my consciousness, gradually, gradually the whole world becomes mine. If we accept our country for the fulfilment of the real reality in us, and not for the pleasure of our physical or the fulfilment of our vital or mind, then patriotism is a gift, a real gift, the highest gift from Above which will illumine and liberate the human in us.

Otherwise, patriotism can become a curse. When it becomes narrow-minded, then I am only for my village or my country, and against yours. Narrowness comes when patriotism is in the physical, the vital or the mind, which are limited. But in the psychic, in the soul, there is no boundary. The soul’s feelings are based on oneness inside vastness. That kind of patriotism is all God-embodiment, God-revelation and God-perfection on earth. This is what God wants from patriotism.

Question: When a person who doesn’t belong to the chosen few is faced with a decision in life, how does he or she know what is God’s Will in matters like marriage, studies, professions and things like that?

Sri Chinmoy: If one is among the chosen few, then naturally one has a free access to one’s inner world, and from there one gets the direct message from the Inner Pilot. But if he is not one of the chosen few, what should he do? Since he feels that he is not in a position to decide what is best for himself, he should go to someone in whom he has all faith. Then his problem can easily be solved. Suppose you are sick. If you cannot cure yourself, you go to the doctor because you have faith in him and you feel that he will be able to cure you. You already have this faith in him; it is not something you have to acquire. In the spiritual life also, when you want to make a major decision regarding your earthly life — marriage and so forth — go to a spiritual person in whom you have faith. He will be able to enter into your soul and bring to the fore the real message from your soul. He will be able to tell you whether the marriage is a good idea or not.

But if one is not among the chosen few, this doesn’t mean that he will never be. Today he is not among them, but tomorrow he has every possibility of becoming one of them. In the spiritual life a time will come when the seeker will have more aspiration, abundant aspiration, boundless, infinite aspiration. When he has constant, burning aspiration, naturally he will become one of the chosen few. At that time, he can solve his own problems. But right now, if one feels he does not have the necessary capacity to solve his earthly problems, then it is advisable for him to go to a spiritual Master, who is bound to give him the correct message.

Question: How does spirituality help one decide between what is right and what is wrong?

Sri Chinmoy: Even a child knows what is right and what is wrong. He has something in his inner being which we call conscience, and this has been there from his very birth. Seekers of the infinite Truth, who walk along the path of spirituality, will especially be able to know what is right and what is wrong, because at every moment they try to listen to their inner voice or, you can say, conscience. The further we go along the path of reality, the deeper within we go, the clearer it becomes to us what is right and what is wrong. When we live on the surface, it is next to impossible for us to distinguish what is right from what is wrong. But when we follow the inner life and have the capacity to bring forward the inner message, then at every moment we are safe. From within we get the inner urge to do only the right thing.

The very purpose of spirituality is to enable us to have conscious oneness with the ultimate Truth. If somebody has this conscious oneness, naturally he will be able to distinguish right from wrong. Whoever practises the spiritual life has a special advantage as well. When he gets an inner message, he also gets the inspiration to obey the message. He gets additional inspiration or, let us say, aspiration, to do the right thing. But an ordinary person very often does the wrong thing in spite of knowing that he is doing something wrong. Why does he do it? Because his inner urge is not strong enough to compel him to do the right thing. In the case of a spiritual seeker it is otherwise. When a seeker feels the right thing, he gets abundant capacity from within to do it.

Question: Could you please explain why you give your followers spiritual names?

Sri Chinmoy: Everyone has all the divine qualities, but one quality is often pre-eminent. One divine quality is usually more manifest in a certain person than the other divine qualities, and the soul has a way of manifesting the highest Truth through that particular quality. One soul will manifest through light, another through beauty, a third through power, a fourth through compassion, a fifth through peace, a sixth through joy. Each Sanskrit name I offer has a spiritual significance, and each aspirant has the capacity to realise and manifest the Highest through a particular quality which his name reveals and embodies. If the soul wants to realise and manifest the Highest on earth, then if the aspirant knows that particular quality, it becomes infinitely easier. When the disciples have spiritual names and they meditate on their names, at that time their divine qualities come to the fore most powerfully and make them feel what they are here for and why they have come into the world. That is why we give these names.

Question: Why should spiritual people accept life around them?

Sri Chinmoy: If you say that those who enter into the Himalayan caves and neglect society will find less difficulty in realising God, I may agree with you. But if they do not accept humanity, what do they ultimately gain? If I love God, my Father, and if I see that my brothers and sisters cannot yet approach Him, if I am a really fine person, what will I do? I will offer my light and my achievement to my brothers and sisters. I have received realisation from my Father, but if I do not give it to my brothers and sisters, then is it not shameful on my part?

You may say that other paths are easier than mine because there the seeker escapes from the world. But in the ordinary world only a culprit wants to escape. If one has done something wrong, he tries to escape. Some spiritual Masters do want to escape even though they are not thieves. They are sick of the world and sick of the world’s ingratitude. Constantly they try to help humanity, but humanity ignores them, misunderstands them, criticises them, abuses them. They become disgusted and feel that the thing to do is to escape from the world. Again, there are some who are real heroes. They say, “Let humanity insult us, speak ill of us; still we shall give humanity what we have to offer.”

Our path is the path of acceptance. If we do not accept something, how are we going to transform it? If the potter does not touch clay, how is he going to shape and mould the pot? If his ultimate aim is to make a pot or pitcher, he has to touch the clay. This clay is the world. A spiritual Master enters into the inconscience and ignorance of the seekers and throws light into them. Then he moulds, shapes and gives strength to their inner being. Our path is undoubtedly the heroic path. Those who follow our path are playing the role of divine warriors. Divine warriors are those who fight against doubt, worry, fear, obstruction, limitation, imperfection, bondage and death. Our path is a path for the brave.

At the same time, the results one gets from following our path come in infinite measure, because our path has accepted humanity. If you have a large plot of ground and if you have the capacity to cultivate it, then you are bound to get a bumper crop of realisation for humanity. But if your plot of land is very tiny, then what are you going to get? Our path is difficult because it has accepted the outer life. If you don’t love God, everything is difficult. But nothing is really difficult when you have true love for God. If you really love God, our path does not seem difficult at all; it seems very safe, secure, easy.

Our path is the path of acceptance. We accept our brothers and sisters as they are; then we give them what we have and what we are. Only then is God pleased with us and will He be eternally pleased with us, because we have consciously made our life a life of self-dedication. This is the easiest path for the sincere, the most fulfilling path for those who are totally dedicated and the best path for the brave souls who want to walk, march and run along the road of Eternity.

Question: How can I be more soulful and devoted in my work at the United Nations?

Sri Chinmoy: You can be more soulful and more devoted in your work if you feel that you are working here not just to earn money, but to serve God inside the soul of the United Nations and inside the body of the United Nations. The moment you think of the United Nations, you have to feel that it is a world organisation that sincerely wants to bring about peace and harmony on earth. To work here and serve the soul of the United Nations is a great honour, a great privilege, no matter in which capacity you are working. If you think of the soul of the United Nations and of your own soul’s commitment to the United Nations, your soul will work very hard in and through you. The United Nations has a very high, sublime goal. If you think of this, automatically you will become soulful and devoted because the goal itself will try to bring from the depth of your being your devoted heart qualities.

Question: How can we have more feeling of oneness with our fellow workers?

Sri Chinmoy: If your fellow workers are not spiritual or spiritually inclined, then you have to exercise more compassion and sacrifice. If somebody needs more kindness and affection, then you should be ready to give to that person — not according to what he deserves, but according to your own heart’s magnanimity. If somebody is nasty to you, or is not helping you in your work, you have to feel that this is another challenge to become extra nice, extra kind, extra sweet so you can bring forward the good qualities in that person. Some people are good, some are bad. Bad ones we try to conquer through patience, concern and love. If we treat them the way they treat us, we will enter into the animal world. So we have to work in a divine way.

Question: How can I illumine my mind?

Sri Chinmoy: Just by allowing your soul’s light to come to the mind through the heart. It is as if you have three rooms — mind, heart and soul — and the only way to reach the third room is to go through the second one. The soul has to come to the mind-room through the heart-room. First concentrate on the soul and feel its presence in the soul-room. Then try to bring the soul into the heart-room. Once the soul is well established in the heart-room, illumining the heart, the time has come to enter into the mind-room. So you bring the soul into the mind-room and the mind becomes illumined. The only way to illumine the mind is to bring the presence of the soul into the mind. First you bring the soul into the heart and let the heart be illumined. Then, when the heart is illumined, you let the soul come and serve the Supreme in the mind. There is no other way.

Question: If we find that certain situations disturb us, should we avoid the situations or try to face them and cope with them?

Sri Chinmoy: Avoiding a situation is not the right answer. We have to face the situation with our soul’s light. Today you will avoid a circumstance and, just because you have avoided it, the wrong forces of this circumstance will get more strength. Either they will think that you are avoiding them because you are weak, or they will think that you are avoiding them because it is beneath your dignity to deal with them. And in that case, they will come against you with more power.

If you try to escape you may escape /here,/ but there you will be caught. So it is best to face a problem when it arises, and not try to escape. But you should not face the situation in a military way: somebody is challenging you, so you will strike him. No, that is silly. Try instead to bring the divinity of the circumstance forward. If some undivine quality is inside an individual, it is not by striking or hitting him that you will overcome it, but by becoming more friendly. With more confidence in your approach to God you have to bring forward the divine qualities in the human being or the incident that is causing the problem. Accept the situation with compassion and love, and eventually these unpleasant circumstances are bound to become pleasant, soulful and fruitful.

Question: How can I develop and maintain a feeling of worthiness and self-respect?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to feel that you need God and that you have God. You are not aware of the fact that the thing that you want and need in order to discover your worth is already there. God is already there, but you don’t see Him. You are an instrument of God; His Capacity, His Vision, His Reality are there and He wants to manifest through you. But how can you be conscious of it? You can become conscious through your dedicated, soulful aspiration and service. If you pray and meditate you will become aware of God’s presence in your life, and you will see that you are really worthy of God’s Love. Because of your prayer and meditation, the Inner Pilot will make you conscious of His activities; and you will see that He is manifesting His Divinity in and through you. When you are conscious of this, who else but you can be worthy? So if you become more soulful, devoted and sincere in your approach to the Inner Pilot, you can easily become conscious of your own divine qualities. For you will realise that everything that God has, you are going to have as your own.

You have to feel that divine confidence is most necessary. Divine confidence makes you feel that you are worthy of becoming God’s instrument. And what is divine confidence? It is confidence in God and in yourself. Unless you have confidence in God and in yourself, you can never be worthy of anything. Your self-confidence tells you that you will do everything for God; and your God-confidence tells you that He will do everything in and through you, that He is more than eager to manifest through you. When you have confidence in yourself and confidence in God, you will be able to see your inner progress and inside that progress you will see that you are really worthy of God’s Compassion, Joy and Pride.

Question: How can I be more selfless?

Sri Chinmoy: You can be more selfless by watching the world situation, by watching people who are not selfless and by watching people who are selfless. People who are not selfless are greedy. Greedy people can never be happy. You want to become selfless because you want to be happy. People who are not selfless, who are greedy and miserly, are not happy at all. Again, people who are selfless and sacrificing are happy.

It is like night and day, and you are in between. When you are in night you want to grab and bind the world, and when you are in day you want to dedicate yourself to the world and serve the world. So you can either go to your friend darkness or to your friend day. When you are entering into darkness you are only struggling and binding; but in day-consciousness you are loving, showing concern and becoming one. So you have to see what is happening to those in day and those in night, and then make the choice. Once you are in the room of light, it is all love, sacrifice and concern. Once you enter the room of darkness, it is all fighting and struggling. That door is also open to you. It is you who have to make the choice. Enter the room of selflessness and don’t enter the other room.