Question: How do we know if it is the proper time for us to enter into the spiritual life? Can the spiritual life help us to overcome frustration?

Sri Chinmoy: We can begin the spiritual life only when we feel the need. When we feel hunger we eat. Similarly, when we have the inner hunger we have to feed ourselves with Peace, Light and Bliss.

Now human beings are full of frustration. Every day begins with a new frustration, disappointment and sense of total failure. How can we conquer frustration, despair and other unaspiring and negative forces? We can do so only when we consciously feel that there is something beyond, far beyond these frustrations and so-called failures. Our human life cannot and does not end with failure precisely because the divine in us will never accept failure. The divine in us will eventually manifest the soul’s Light and Truth on earth if we have the conscious cry, or conscious hunger for the Light that can transform our frustrations into radiant achievements.

He who does not aspire is a total failure in God’s Eyes. But his aspiration is only a matter of time. God Himself will aspire in him and through him when the hour strikes. But if we consciously fight on the side of the inner Truth and inner Reality, if we listen to the dictates of the inner voice, then we hasten the progress of our own life and the progress of all mankind.

Frustration exists just because we do not see anything beyond frustration or do not consciously want to go beyond frustration. Let us take frustration as a thing that can be captured and offered at the feet of God or offered at the feet of any happiness or good experience we have had — even if it was ten or twenty years ago. The power of the happy experience will destroy the power of frustration or transform frustration into glowing inspiration at the feet of inner awakening and outer realisation.

Question: How can we bring enough perfection into our own lives and into the world to be truly satisfied?

Sri Chinmoy: If we want to accept only the limited insignificant perfection that we notice in the world, then we can never be satisfied. Hunger for perfection is like any other hunger. If you have an immense hunger, a very little portion of food will not satisfy you. We have the hunger now for infinite Peace, Light and Bliss. Our outer being will not be satisfied when it receives only an iota of Peace, Light and Bliss. It will be satisfied only when it has Peace, Light and Bliss in infinite measure.

The more we achieve inwardly, the clearer will be our conception of perfection. If we are satisfied with only a little inner attainment, like the mystics and mediums, we will say we have perfection according to our satisfaction. But the perfection that satisfies them need not and cannot satisfy the inner hunger of someone who cries for absolute perfection in his nature and the earth-consciousness. The higher we go, the more we receive and achieve and become aware of the possibility of integral perfection in our nature and elsewhere.

Complete and total perfection will come about only when we feel that our perfection is no perfection when the rest of humanity remains imperfect. If we call ourselves children of God, then others are also children of God. If we do not share with them what little we have, then what right have we to call them our brothers? They may be travelling a few miles behind us, or they may be fast asleep. But they must reach the Goal before perfect Perfection can dawn on earth.

Each individual has to make a decision. Each seeker has to discover within himself at what point he wants to stop his inner quest for Truth and Light. If he is ready to continue, to march on, to dive deeper within, and if he feels that there is no end to his achievement, only then will he be ready to offer the message of ever-fulfilling and ever-transcending Perfection. What you call perfection today, you may call imperfection itself tomorrow. A child’s perfection is the ability to scream and shout and strike others. But when he grows up, his idea of perfection may be just the opposite. And if he enters into the spiritual life then his sense of perfection will be something else. He will try to conquer his fear, his doubt, his jealousy and other negative forces. But when he goes deep within after he has achieved what he wanted for himself, he will feel that only his limited self has been satisfied. His larger self, which is humanity entire, is far, far from perfection. So he will try to remove fear, doubt, anxiety, worries and other undivine forces from humanity.

In our path we feel that perfection has to be total and integral. We know that we have imperfection in our nature, and at the same time we have limited perfection. If the imperfection right now looms large, we have to brave that imperfection and transform it into perfection. Through our conscious prayer, meditation, concentration and contemplation the imperfection of the past can be perfected, and the darkness can be transformed into Light.

The perfection of the body lies in its conscious awareness of the ever-progressive dynamic Truth. The perfection of the vital lies in its acceptance of the Truth in a dynamic form. The perfection of the mind lies in its acceptance of the vast, the infinite, as its very own. The perfection of the heart lies in its acceptance of earth’s cry and Heaven’s compassion as its very own.

This is how we can see, feel and manifest perfection in our everyday life. The seekers of the infinite Truth can manifest perfection in the body, in the vital, in the mind and in the heart only through conscious awareness and acceptance of the ever-increasing, ever-transcending Reality.

Question: Will the process of striving for perfection ever come to an end?

Sri Chinmoy: It will never come to an end, because God Himself does not want to end His Cosmic Game. Today what we feel is the ultimate perfection, tomorrow will be just the starting point of our journey. This is because our consciousness is evolving. When the consciousness evolves to a higher level, our sense of perfection simultaneously goes higher. Let us take perfection as an achievement. When we are a kindergarten student, our achievement in perfection may be very good for that stage. But from kindergarten we go to primary school, high school, college and university. When we get our Master’s degree in perfection our achievement is much greater than what it was when we were in kindergarten. But even then we may feel that there are many things more that we have to learn. Then we will study further and enlarge our consciousness still more. If the child thinks that the Master’s degree will always remain unattainable then he is mistaken. The spiritual ladder has quite a few rungs. If we do not step onto the first rung then how can we climb up to the ultimate rung of the ladder? We start with inspiration, and from there we begin to concentrate, meditate and contemplate. And these three words — concentration, meditation, contemplation — are included in one word: aspiration. We start with inspiration and continue with aspiration. There is no end to aspiration, and there is no end to our achievement of perfection.

Question: I always felt it was selfish to look for salvation. I thought that this would come of itself if one did the right thing.

Sri Chinmoy: You are absolutely right. Salvation will come in its own way, at the chosen hour, if you do the right thing. And what is the right thing? The right thing is to pray, to concentrate, to meditate. If you climb up a tree then you get the fruit. But if you don’t climb up, then the fruit will always remain out of reach. In the spiritual life, when we climb up, God’s Grace descends.

Getting salvation is like getting a salary. You work at the United Nations. At a specified time your salary is bound to come. But that is because you also play your part — you come and work here. Similarly, if you do something for God, for mankind, salvation will come. Instead of living in desire, if you live in aspiration, salvation will come. What you are supposed to do is pray, concentrate and meditate, and if you do, naturally you will get salvation. It is not by saying, “Give me salvation, give me salvation,” that you will get it. Salvation doesn’t come that way. But if you do the right thing, which is to live a spiritual life, a life of dedication and devotion, automatically you will get salvation.

Question: What age were you when you commenced meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: I started consciously meditating at the age of eleven, but at four or five I used to say a daily prayer, as children do. When I was eleven I became fully conscious of divinity, that is to say, of concentration and meditation, and I started to take it very seriously. Before that I spent one, two, three minutes in prayer. By the age of thirteen I was meditating eight hours daily. I have to say that I began meditation seriously at the age of eleven.

Question: You say we should meditate in the heart, but I find it easier to meditate in the mind.

Sri Chinmoy: If you find it easier in the mind, then meditate in the mind. But if you do so, you will be able to meditate for perhaps five minutes, and out of that five minutes, for one minute you may meditate very powerfully. After that you will feel your whole head getting tense. First you get joy, satisfaction, but then you may feel a barren desert. For five minutes you will get something, but if you want to go on beyond that, you may feel nothing. If you meditate here [in the heart] a day will come when you start getting satisfaction. If you meditate in the heart, you are meditating where the soul is. True, the soul is everywhere — in the mind, in the body, everywhere. But it is like my situation now. I am here at the United Nations. If someone asks, “Where is Chinmoy?” you can say that I am at the United Nations, or you can say that I am in Conference Room 10. My presence is spiritually pervading the entire United Nations, but my living consciousness is right here in this room. If you come here, I will be able to do more for you than for others who are elsewhere in the building. Similarly, when you focus your concentration in the heart, you get much more inner satisfaction than when you meditate in the mind, because the heart is the seat of the soul. But it is difficult for some people to meditate in the heart because they are not used to doing it.

You have to be wise. There is a vast difference between what you can get from the mind and what you can get from the heart. The mind is limited; the heart is unlimited. Deep within us is infinite Peace, Light and Bliss. To get a limited quantity is an easy task. Meditation in the mind can give it to you. But you can get more if you meditate in the heart. Suppose you have the opportunity to work at two places. At one place you will earn $200, and at the other place $500. If you are wise, you will not waste your time at the first place. But you have to know that the Source and the Reality is in the heart. Reality is everywhere, but the actual manifestation of the Reality has to be in a particular place. Inside the heart is the soul, and if you meditate in the heart the result is infinitely more fulfilling.

Let us not be satisfied with the things that we get very easily. Let us cry for something which is more difficult to get, but which is infinite and everlasting. If you get something from the mind, tomorrow doubt may come and tell you that it is not real. But once you get something from the heart you will never be able to doubt it or forget it. An experience on the psychic plane can never be erased from the heart.

Question: In meditation sometimes the mind stops functioning and there seems to be little information coming.

Sri Chinmoy: In meditation we should not give importance to the mind. If there is no information coming it is good. Real meditation is not information; it is identification. The mind tries to create oneness by grabbing and capturing you and this may easily make you revolt. But the heart creates oneness through identification. The mind tries to possess. The heart just expands and, while expanding, it embraces. With the mind we only divide ourselves. The mind may try to do something and immediately the body or the vital may try to prevent it. But if the heart wants to do something, no matter how difficult, it will be done. This is because when the mind gets no satisfaction when it tries something, it just says that there is no reality there and gives up. But when the heart does not get satisfaction, it feels that it has not done the thing properly. So it tries again, and continues trying until satisfaction dawns at last.

Question: What do you mean when you speak of unconditional surrender to God’s Will, and how can we develop this quality?

Sri Chinmoy: When we do something unconditionally, we do something really great, and for that we need much preparation. Ordinarily we do everything conditionally. We go to a shop and give the shopkeeper money and the shopkeeper gives us what we need. In this world it is always give and take. We are exchanging things of equal value. But God has everything in infinite measure. If we do something for God, then what we will get from Him will be far beyond our expectation. We will get much more than we give. If we give God an iota of prayer, one minute of prayer, the things that God will give us will be most fulfilling. But there comes a time when we pray to God with the feeling that this is what He wishes us to do. At that time we become the chosen instruments of God and the representatives of God on earth, and then we feel that we are really fulfilling God in His own Way.

As long as we are on earth we are fulfilling God according to our own limited, very limited capacity. Everybody is fulfilling God in this way. But when we do something with the conscious feeling that what we do is being done by God in us and through us, then even if we just give a smile, in that smile there is infinite potentiality, infinite capacity.

There comes a time in our life of aspiration when, if somebody says “God” we will feel that he is referring to us, and not to somebody else. Now God is a third person. I am somebody. You are somebody. And God is a third person. We are completely separate, each with a personality of his own. But a day will come when we make unconditional surrender to God’s Will. At that time, when somebody speaks to us, we will feel that God is speaking to God. But it is all done gradually. It takes a few months of constant exercise to develop very powerful muscles. Unconditional surrender is much more difficult to develop. It takes continual daily exercise, and that exercise is our prayer, our meditation.

Question: While I am in the office how can I control my emotions? There is so much injustice and nothing we can do to help ourselves.

Sri Chinmoy: You say that there is nothing you can do, but I am giving you a way to protect yourself. We have been meditating here for five or ten minutes. This meditation has real power. In your office there is much injustice. Injustice itself is a kind of negative power, a destructive power. Injustice is an undivine power and justice is divine power. Now injustice is creating suffering in your life. But there is something called God’s Light. You can be well protected by God’s Light and be unaffected by injustice. True, you cannot change the minds of the people who are causing this injustice, but you can protect yourself. They are striking you inwardly and because of your fear or your incapacity you don’t strike them back. But if you become very strong, very powerful inwardly, your strength will take you to some other place or will give them some illumination. God’s Compassion will save you from this kind of injustice if you enter into the spiritual life seriously.

Another way of saving yourself, which is quicker, is to have peace of mind. At our Tuesday meditation we bring down Peace, which is very solid. It is not something imaginary. You can feel Peace; you can swim in the sea of Peace when you meditate with us on Tuesdays. Here, too, on Fridays, we shall meditate and you will feel Peace if you join us. Injustice is undivine power, but Peace is an infinitely more powerful divine weapon. It is solid power. When you are in Peace, no human power can upset you.

When you have to defend yourself or protect yourself, try to use a higher weapon. If people say something and you retaliate on the same level, there will be no end to it. Again, if you simply swallow your anger they will continue to take advantage of you. But when they see and feel tremendous inner Peace in you, they will see something in you which can never be conquered. They will see a change in you, and this change will not only puzzle them but also threaten and frighten them. They will feel that their weapons are useless.

Peace is the most effective weapon with which to conquer injustice. When you pray and meditate your whole being becomes flooded with Peace. Then no matter what other people do, you will just feel that they are your own children playing in front of you. You will say, “These are all children. What more can I expect from them?” But right now, because they are grown up in terms of years, you become angry and upset instead. If you pray and meditate regularly, you will soon feel that your peace is infinitely stronger, more fulfilling and more energising than the unfortunate situation that they create.

Question: It seems to me that the Will of God for us is not only to be silent but also to be active.

Sri Chinmoy: Please excuse me. You have misunderstood me. By outer silence I do not mean not speaking. I mean the outer expression of one’s inner silence. One silence is dynamic; another silence is static. Static silence is found in deep meditation, which is preparation. Dynamic silence is found in action, which is manifestation. The inner silence guides and illumines us. The outer silence reveals and manifests us.

Question: So outer silence or dynamic silence is really divine action — doing the Will of God by serving man?

Sri Chinmoy: Right. The role of dynamic silence is to fulfil the Will of God in humanity. But what God’s Will is, we learn only from inner silence, static silence. Once we know the Will of God then it is our divine duty to dedicate ourselves to the service of mankind.

Some people only want to meditate. They do not want to give anything to the world. This is selfishness. Again there are some who want to give but do not want to meditate. This is foolishness. If we do not meditate, if we do not possess something, then how are we going to give? There are many people on earth who are ready to give, but what do they have? There are some people who have acquired something and do not want to give it. They are acting like misers. They are afraid that the moment they try to give their wealth to the ignorant world, the world will misunderstand them or misuse them. But we have to play our part. First we have to achieve, then we have to offer. In this way we can please God and fulfil mankind.

Question: Inner silence is equated with prayer and meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Prayer, meditation, concentration, and contemplation are the inner silence. Outer silence is dedication, service, action. Dedicate yourself, fulfil the Will of God, but only after knowing the Will of God. We can know the Will of God only by practising inner silence. Otherwise, if we try to help mankind in our own way, we think that we are serving God but really we are just aggrandising our own ego. We say, “I have done this, I have done that.” But the important thing is, “Was I inspired by God? Was I commissioned by God?” If our actions are not inspired by God, they are inspired by our ego. Then the service that we offer to the world will be full of darkness and imperfections.

Question: You say that if fear is our problem we should feel that we are God’s chosen children. Do you mean that we are chosen by God to experience fear?

Sri Chinmoy: Fear is a negative force, a destructive force, and we are the soldiers of God who will fight against it. Fear comes from darkness, from ignorance. If we enter into a room which is pitch dark, we will be frightened. But as soon as we turn on the light, our fear vanishes. The darkness is illumined, and we see that there was nothing to fear in the darkness and that there is nothing to fear in the light either.

Question: In your talk you said that if we see the problem and if we face the problem, then we have greater force than the problem. Do you mean, then, that a problem is not a problem if we know how to look at it?

Sri Chinmoy: If we know how to look at a problem, half the strength of the problem goes away. But usually we try to avoid the problem; we try to run away from it. A problem is not an indication of any fault or crime of ours, so why should we be afraid to face it? Our difficulty is that when something unfortunate happens in our life, we immediately feel that we are at fault, that we have done something wrong. We must know that there are also wrong forces, undivine forces, hostile forces around us. We believe in the law of karma — that if we do something wrong, we suffer later. But even if we do not do anything wrong, the ignorance of the world may come and torture us. Think of Christ. He was a great spiritual Master. He did not have any bad karma. He did not do anything wrong. But the ignorance of the world crucified him. Of course, we cannot compare ourselves with Christ, but at our own level we have to feel that we are not necessarily at fault.

By blaming ourselves and then trying to hide, we do not solve the problem. We have to face the problem and see whether we really are to blame. If our own ignorance has made the problem then it may be difficult to deal with. But if somebody else is creating the problem then we have to stand like a solid wall and not allow the problem to enter into us. If it is my house, my wall, I will not allow anybody to break through. But if I am the problem itself then how am I going to prevent it from entering? This problem is infinitely more difficult to solve than the problem coming from without. In order to solve the problem of myself, I have to feel that I am not the problem maker but the problem solver. Then I have to practise the spiritual life and develop inner strength, aspiration and inner detachment. Slowly, gradually, I will become inwardly strong, and then I will be able to solve the problems caused by myself, by my own inner weaknesses.