Part One: Spiritual and philosophical articles

Man and God

Man and God are eternally one. Like God, man is infinite; like man, God is finite. There is no yawning gulf between man and God. Man is the God of tomorrow; God, the man of yesterday and today.

As God is in Heaven, even so is He on earth. He is here, there and everywhere. Each human being has a God of his own. There is no human being without a God. The total atheist does not believe in God. But fortunately he believes, or rather unfortunately he has to believe, in a certain idea, some concept of order or disorder. And that very idea, that concept, is nothing but God.

Freedom, absolute freedom, must be given each individual soul to discover its own path. Mistakes along the path of spirituality are not at all deplorable, for mistakes are simply lesser truths. We are not proceeding from falsehood to truth. We are proceeding from the least revealed truth to the most revealed truth.

Until we have realised God and have become one with God, we have to call upon Him as Master, Guide, Friend and so on. According to our relationship with Him, our attitude toward Him may vary. This is of no consequence. What is of supreme importance is that we love God as our very own. In our sincere love of God, we shall be inspired spontaneously to worship Him.

Here we shall have to know which kind of worship is for us, which kind is in harmony with the development and inclination of our soul. The realisation of absolute oneness with God is the highest form of worship. Next in the descending line is meditation. Lower is the seat for prayers and invocations. The lowest form of worship is the worship of God in things mundane.

When I think that the flute and the Flutist are two different things, I think of myself as God's servant and Him as my Master. When I feel that the flute has a part of its Master's consciousness, I feel that I am God's child and He is my Father. Finally, when I realise that the flute and the Flutist are but one, the Flutist appears as the Spirit and I as Its creative Force.

Man has to realise God in this body here on earth. India's great poet Kabir said:

"If your bonds be not broken, whilst living, what hope of deliverance in death?

"It is an empty dream that the soul shall have union with Him because it has passed from the body;

"If He is found now, He is found then;

"If not, we do go to dwell in the city of Death."

Sisters and brothers, do not sink into the abyss of despair, even if you have, at the moment, no clear aspiration for God-realisation. Just start on your journey upward, inward and forward — upward to see God's Dream, inward to possess God's Dream, forward to become God's Dream. This Dream is the Dream of absolute Fulfilment.

Countless are those who launch onto the path of the inner life only after receiving innumerable blows or after wandering far and wide in the deserts of life. So he is indeed happy and blessed who places his body, mind, heart and soul — like flowers — at the Feet of the Lord before the advent of blows. It is true that the teeming clouds of worldliness cover up our yet unlit mind. It is equally true that the volcano of the seeker's concentration and the hydrogen bomb of his meditation can and will destroy the clouds, the age-long mists of Ignorance.

May I say a word to those who are married and have great family responsibilities? To your utter amazement, all such responsibilities will be transformed into golden opportunities the moment you try to see God in your children, the moment you realise that you are serving God in your self-sacrifice. In its ability to fulfil the husband, to establish him divinely in the boundless expanse of matter, to raise his consciousness into the realm of Spirit, the untiring and spontaneous sacrifice of the wife has no substitute. In its ability to inundate the wife's soul with the Peace of the Beyond, to beckon her heart to the ever-blazing Sun of Infinity, to transmute her life into Immortality's Song, the husband's promise has no substitute. And those who are single can rest assured that they are singled out to run the fastest along the spiritual path. Inseparable are their aspiration and God's Inspiration.

When we try to see deep within, when we try to live an inner life, we may encounter difficulties all around. We cry out, "Look, God, now that we have turned toward You, we have to take so many tests!" Finding no way out, we are perturbed. But why should we be? It cannot escape our remembrance that we have endured misfortunes in our life. Before we entered the spiritual life, despondency proved to be our constant companion. Now we are at least in a better position since we have the capacity to recognise the ferocious tiger of worldliness. Let us take restlessness and weakness as tests.

Why should God test us? He does anything but that. He, being the Merciful, warns us of the imminent danger. But if we take these warnings as tests, then to pass the test, we have to pray to God. Merely by thinking of the difficulties and dangers we can never pass the examination. To pass a test in school, we have to study hard. Similarly, to pass an inner examination, we have to cultivate more sincerity and feed the flame of aspiration.

During meditation we have to be very careful. At times the mind wants to indulge in certain worldly and emotional ideas and thoughts, but we must not permit the mind to do so. During meditation everything is intense and, if we indulge in evil thoughts, the effects become more serious and more dangerous than otherwise. We grow weaker the moment the mind becomes prey to self-indulgent thoughts. It is the very nature of our lower mind to deceive us. But our tears and our heart's mounting flame will always come to our rescue.

Man and God are one. All men belong to the same family. We are all one. A genuine seeker must not listen to the absurd arguments of sceptics. They do not have even a pennyworth of spiritual knowledge. They are unaware of the fact that they are unconsciously making a parade of their naked stupidity. They say, "If we are all one, then how is it that when you have a headache, I do not? When my hunger is appeased, how is it that yours is not?" In reply, let us ask them how it is that when they have a leg wound, their head does not hurt as well, since both are part of the same body. The universal consciousness is within us all. If we are not conscious of it, that does not mean that it does not exist. My body is my own. But do I feel pain in my leg when my head suffers from a headache? No. But if I am aware of the Divine Consciousness which pervades my whole body, undoubtedly I shall feel the same pain all over my body. Here the individual soul is my head and the collective soul is my whole body. To feel the entire world as our very own we have first to feel God as our very own.

Man is Infinity's Heart.
Man is Eternity's Breath.
Man is Immortality's Life.

Within us is our goal

We are God's all-fulfilling Dream. Our within is God's boundless Plenitude. Our goal is Infinity's Heart and Immortality's Breath. Our goal is within our very body.

In the physical world the mother tells the child who his father is. In the spiritual world our aspiration tells us who our God is. Who is God? God is an infinite Consciousness. He is also the self-illumining Light. There is no human being who does not own within himself this infinite Consciousness and this self-illumining Light.

If we want to see anything in the outer world, in addition to keeping our eyes wide open, we need light — either sunlight or electric light or some other kind of light. But in the inner world we need no light whatsoever. Even with our eyes closed we can see God, the self-illumining Light.

God is not something to be obtained from outside. God is that very thing which can be unfolded from within.

In the ordinary life each human being has millions and millions of questions to ask. In his spiritual life, a day dawns when he feels that there is only one question worth asking: "Who am I?" The answer of answers is: "I am not the body, but I am the Inner Pilot."

How is it that a man does not know himself, something which ought to be the easiest of all his endeavours? He does not know himself precisely because he identifies himself with the ego and not with his real Self. What compels him to identify himself with this pseudo-self? It is ignorance. And what tells him that the real Self is not and can never be the ego? It is his Self-search. What he sees in the inmost recesses of his heart is his real Self, his God. Eventually this seeing must transform itself into becoming.

The other day one of my students said to me, "I can't think of God. My mind becomes restless."

"What do you do then?" I asked.

"Why, I just think of the world."

"Now tell me, when you think of the world with all its activities, can you even for a second think of God?"

"No, never."

"So, my young friend, is it not absurd that when you think of God, restlessness takes your mind away from God, but when you drink deep the pleasures of the world, restlessness does not take your mind away and place it at the Feet of the Lord? No, this should never be. If you have genuine hunger for spiritual food, the same restlessness, or what you may call 'uneasiness,' will take your mind speedily and dynamically and place it in your heart where it can drink the Nectar of divine Peace and Satisfaction.

"To be sure, your mind cannot do two things at a time. If you are thinking of God with an implicit faith, if the flame of aspiration is burning within your heart, your outer restlessness-monkey, however mischievous it may be, will not dare to touch you, much less pinch or bite you. You cannot look with full attention at both your shoulders at the same time. Similarly, when you clearly see your God within, you cannot see the ignorance-tiger of the outer world."

What we have to do first is to see the ego, then touch and catch the ego and finally transform the ego. In the spiritual life, when the ego enters into us and bothers us, we have to think of ourselves as the Brahman, the One without a second, and we have to feel ourselves as the all-pervading Consciousness. Then the ego disappears into nothingness.

We all know that the mind plays an important role in our outer life as well as in our spiritual life. Therefore, we must not discard the mind. Rather, what we should do is be always conscious of the mind. The mind becomes restless, but that does not mean that we have to punish it all the time. If the master of the house comes to learn that his old servant has recently formed the habit of stealing, he does not immediately dismiss the servant. The servant's past sincerity and dedication are still fresh in his mind. He waits and observes unnoticed and unconcerned, feeling that his servant will turn over a new leaf. In the meantime, the servant becomes aware that his master has come to know of his misconduct, and he stops stealing. He goes one step further: to please his master, he works even more sincerely and devotedly than he did before. Similarly, when we become aware of the mind's restless activities and tricks, we have to be silent for some time and observe the mind quite unconcerned. Before long, we shall see that our mind, the thief, will feel ashamed of its conduct. We must not forget that during that time we have to think of ourselves as the soul and not as the body, for the soul alone can be master of the mind. The soul alone is our true identity. At the appointed hour, the mind will start to listen to the dictates of the soul.

Action and inaction. According to the Gita, we have to see action in inaction, and inaction in action. What does this mean? It means that, while acting, we have to feel within ourselves a sea of peace and serenity. While we are without activity, we have to feel within us a dynamo of creative energy. Let us not think of actions as our own. If we can do this, our actions will be more real and more effective. When a servant cooks for his master he does it to the best of his capacity. Why? To get his master's appreciation and favour. In the same way, if we act to please our soul, the Inner Pilot, we shall be able to act most devotedly and most successfully.

Our Goal is within us. To reach that Goal we have to take to the spiritual life. In the spiritual life, the thing that is most needed is awareness or consciousness. Without this, everything is a barren desert. When we enter into a dark place, we take a flashlight or some other light in order to know where we are going. If we want to know about our unlit life, we have to take the help of our consciousness. Let us go deeper into the matter. We know that the sun illumines the world. But how are we aware of it? We are aware of it through our consciousness, which is self-revealing. The functioning of the sun is not self-revealing. It is our consciousness of the sun that makes us feel that the sun illumines the world. It is our consciousness that is self-revealing in everything. And this consciousness is an infinite Sea of Delight. When we drink even a drop of water from the earthly sea, it tastes salty. In the same way, during our meditation, if we can drink even a tiny drop from the Sea of Delight, we shall definitely taste Delight. This Delight is Nectar. Nectar is Immortality.

Our peace is within

No price is too great to pay for inner peace. Peace is the harmonious control of life. It is vibrant with life-energy. It is a power that easily transcends all our worldly knowledge. Yet it is not separate from our earthly existence. If we open the right avenues within, this peace can be felt here and now.

Peace is eternal. It is never too late to have peace. Time is always ripe for that. We can make our life truly fruitful if we are not cut off from our Source, which is the Peace of Eternity.

The greatest misfortune that can come to a human being is to lose his inner peace. No outer force can rob him of it. It is his own thoughts, his own actions, that rob him of it.

Our greatest protection lies not in our material achievements and resources. All the treasure of the world is emptiness to our divine soul. Our greatest protection lies in our soul's communion with the all-nourishing and all-fulfilling Peace. Our soul lives in Peace and lives for Peace. If we live a life of peace, we are ever enriched and never impoverished. Unhorizoned is our inner peace; like the boundless sky, it encompasses all.

Long have we struggled, much have we suffered, far have we travelled. But the face of peace is still hidden from us. We can discover it if ever the train of our desires loses itself in the Will of the Lord Supreme.

Peace is life. Peace is Bliss eternal. Worries — mental, vital and physical — do exist. But it is up to us whether to accept them or reject them. To be sure, they are not inevitable facts of life. Since our Almighty Father is All-Peace, our common heritage is Peace. It is a Himalayan blunder to widen the broad way of future repentance by misusing and neglecting the golden opportunities that are presented to us. We must resolve here and now, amidst all our daily activities, to throw ourselves, heart and soul, into the Sea of Peace. He is mistaken who thinks that peace will, on its own, enter into him near the end of his life's journey. To hope to achieve peace without spirituality or meditation is to expect water in the desert.

For peace of mind, prayer is essential. To pray to God for peace with full concentration and singleness of devotion even for five minutes is more important than to spend long hours in carefree and easy-going meditation. Now, how to pray? With tears in our hearts. Where to pray? In a lonely place. When to pray? The moment our inner being wants us to pray. Why to pray? This is the question of questions. We have to pray if we want our aspirations to be fulfilled by God. What can we expect from God beyond this? We can expect Him to make us understand everything: everything in nothing and nothing in everything, the Full in the Void and the Void in the Full.

We must always discriminate. We have to feel that the outer world which attracts our attention is ephemeral. To have something everlasting, to attain to a rocklike foundation in life, we have to turn toward God. There is no alternative. And there is no better moment to take that turn than when we feel most helpless.

To feel oneself helpless is good.
Better to cultivate the spirit of self-surrender.
Best to be the conscious instrument of God.

Everything depends on the mind, consciously or unconsciously, including the search for peace. The function of the mind is to remove the cloud of doubt. The function of purity in the mind is to destroy the teeming clouds of worldliness and the ties of ignorance. If there is no purity of the mind, there can be no sustained success in the spiritual life.

We own peace only after we have totally stopped finding fault with others. We have to feel the whole world as our very own. When we observe others' mistakes, we enter into their imperfections. This does not help us in the least. Strangely enough, the deeper we plunge, the clearer it becomes to us that the imperfections of others are our own imperfections, but in different bodies and minds. Whereas if we think of God, His Compassion and His Divinity enlarge our inner vision of Truth. We must come in the fulness of our spiritual realisation to accept humanity as one family.

We must not allow our past to torment and destroy the peace of our heart. Our present good and divine actions can easily counteract our bad and undivine actions of the past. If sin has the power to make us weep, meditation has undoubtedly the power to give us joy, to endow us with the divine Wisdom.

Our peace is within, and this peace is the basis of our life. So from today let us resolve to fill our minds and hearts with the tears of devotion, the foundation of peace. If our foundation is solid, then no matter how high we raise the superstructure, danger can never threaten us. For peace is below, peace is above, peace is within, peace is without.

Who is fit for Yoga?

Who is fit for Yoga? You are fit for Yoga. He is fit for Yoga. I am fit for Yoga. All human beings without exception are fit for Yoga.

The spiritual fitness can be determined by our feeling of oneness, our desire for oneness. The tiniest drop has a right to feel the boundless ocean as its very own, or to cry to have the ocean as its very own. Such is the case with the individual soul and the Universal Soul.

Where is God and where am I? God is on the third floor and I am on the first floor. I come up to the second floor. He comes down to the second floor. We both meet together. I do not forget to wash His Feet with my tears of delight. Nor does He forget to place me in His Heart of infinite Compassion.

What is Yoga? Yoga is self-conquest. Self-conquest is God-realisation. He who practises Yoga does two things with one stroke: he simplifies his whole life and he gets a free access to the Divine.

In the field of Yoga we can never pretend. Our aspiration must ring true. Our whole life must ring true. Nothing is impossible for an ardent aspirant. A higher Power guides his steps. God's adamantine Will is his safest protection. No matter how long or how many times he blunders, he has every right to come back to his own spiritual home. His aspiration is a climbing flame. It has no smoke, it needs no fuel. It is the breath of his inner life. It leads him to the shores of the Golden Beyond. The aspirant, with the wings of his aspiration, soars into the realms of the Transcendental.

God is infinite and God is Omnipresent. To a genuine aspirant, this is more than mere belief. It is the Reality without a second.

Now let us focus our attention on the spiritual life. It is a mistaken idea that the spiritual life is a life of austerity and a bed of thorns. No, never! We came from the Blissful. To the Blissful we shall return with the spontaneous joy of life. It seems difficult because we cater to our ego. It looks unnatural because we cherish our doubts.

The realisation of God is the goal of our life. It is also our noblest heritage. God is at once our Father and our Mother. As our Father He observes; as our Mother He creates. Like a child, we shall never give up demanding of our Mother, so that we can win our Mother's Love and Grace. How long can a mother go on unheeding her child's cry? Let us not forget that if there is anybody on earth on whom all human beings have a full claim, it is the Mother aspect of the Divine. She is the only strength of our dependence; she is the only strength of our independence. Her Heart, the home of infinitude, is eternally open to each individual.

We should now become acquainted with the eight significant strides that lead a seeker to his destination. These strides are: Yama, self-control and moral abstinence; Niyama, strict observance of conduct and character; Asana, various body postures which help us enter into a higher consciousness; Pranayama, systematic breathing to hold a rein on the mind; Pratyahara, withdrawal from the sense-life; Dharana, the fixation of our consciousness on God, joined by all parts of the body; Dhyana, meditation, the untiring express train speeding toward the Goal; and Samadhi, trance, the end of Nature's dance, the total merging of our individual consciousness into the infinite Consciousness of the Transcendental Supreme.

Yoga is our union with Truth. There are three unfolding stages of this union. In the first stage man has to feel that God needs him as much as he needs God. In the second stage man has to feel that, without him, God does not exist even for a second. In the third and ultimate stage man has to realise that he and God are not only eternally One, but also equal, all-pervading and all-fulfilling.

The strength of surrender

The present-day world wants individuality. It demands freedom. But true individuality and freedom can breathe only in the Divine. Surrender is the untiring breath of the soul in the Heart of God.

Human individuality shouts in the dark. Earthly freedom cries out in the deserts of life. But absolute surrender universally sings of divine Individuality and Freedom in the Lap of the Supreme.

In surrender we discover the spiritual power through which we can become not only the seers but also the possessors of Truth. This Truth is the omnipotent Power. If we can surrender in absolute silence, we shall ourselves become the Reality of the Real, the Life of the Living, the Centre of true Love, Peace and Bliss. We shall become an incomparable blessing to ourselves.

A lovely child attracts our attention. We love him because he conquers our heart. But do we ask anything from him in return? No! We love him because he is the object of love; he is loveable. In the same way we can and should love God, for He is the most loveable Being. Spontaneous love for the Divine is surrender, and this surrender is the greatest gift in life. For when we surrender, the Divine in no time gives us infinitely more than we would have asked for.

Surrender is a spiritual miracle. It teaches us how to see God with our eyes closed, how to talk to Him with our mouth shut. Fear enters into our being only when we withdraw our surrender from the Absolute.

Surrender is an unfoldment. It is the unfoldment of our body, mind and heart into the Sun of divine Plenitude within us. Surrender to this inner Sun is the greatest triumph of life. The hound of failure cannot reach us when we are in this Sun. The Prince of Evil fails to touch us when we have realised and founded our oneness with this eternally life-giving Sun.

Surrender and wholeheartedness play together, eat together and sleep together. Theirs is the crown of victory. Calculation and doubt play together, eat together and sleep together. Theirs is the fate that is doomed to disappointment, destined to failure.

India is the land of surrender. This surrender is not a blind submission, but rather the dedication of one's limited self to one's unbounded Self. There are a good many stories in the Mahabharata dealing with surrender. They all have great spiritual truth in them. Let me tell you a short but most inspiring and revealing story about Draupadi, who was the Queen of the Pandavas. While the evil Duhshasana was ruthlessly attempting to disrobe her, she was praying to the Lord to save her. Yet all the while she was holding her garments tightly with her fists. Her surrender was not complete, and her prayer was not granted. Duhshasana continued his efforts to pull off the garments of the unfortunate Queen. But the moment came when Draupadi released her hold on her robes and began to pray to the Lord with hands upraised. "O Lord of my heart, O Boatman of my life, may Thy will be fulfilled," she prayed. Lo, the strength of her absolute surrender! God's silence broke. His Grace rained down on Draupadi. As Duhshasana tried to pull off her sari, he found that it was endless. His pride had to kiss the dust.

God's all-fulfilling Grace descends only when man's unconditional surrender ascends.

Our surrender is a most precious thing. God alone deserves it. We can offer our surrender to another individual, but only for the sake of realising God. If that individual has reached his Goal, he can help us in our spiritual journey. If, however, we offer ourselves to someone just to satisfy that person, then we are committing a Himalayan blunder. What we should do is offer ourselves unreservedly to the Lord in him.

Every action of ours should be to please God and not to gain applause. Our actions are too secret and sacred to display before others. They are meant for our own progress, achievement and realisation.

There is no limit to our surrender. The more we surrender, the more we have to surrender. God has given us capacity. According to our capacity He demands manifestation of us. Manifestation beyond our capacity God has never demanded and will never demand.

In man's complete and absolute surrender is his realisation: his realisation of the Self, his realisation of God the Infinite.

Meditation: Individual and collective

Meditation is the eye that sees the Truth, the heart that feels the Truth and the soul that realises the Truth.

Through meditation the soul becomes fully aware of its evolution in its eternal journey. Through meditation we see the form evolve into the Formless, the finite into the Infinite; and we see the formless involve into the form, the Infinite into the finite.

Meditation speaks. It speaks in silence. It reveals. It reveals to the aspirant that matter and spirit are one, quantity and quality are one, the immanent and the transcendent are one. It reveals that life can never be the mere existence of seventy or eighty years between birth and death, but is, rather, Eternity itself. Our birth is a significant incident in God's own existence. And so is our death. In our birth, life lives in the body. In our death, life lives in the spirit.

Meditation: individual and collective. As the individual and the collective are in essence one, even so are meditation individual and collective. We are all children of God. Our body says that we are human. Our soul says that we are divine.

No matter whether we are human or divine, we are one, inevitably and eternally. We are the inseparable parts of the whole. We complete the whole.

Vast is the ocean. You see a part of it. He sees a part of it. I see a part of it. But the full expanse of the ocean is far beyond our gaze. Our vision is limited. But the portion that each of us sees is not and cannot be separated from the entire ocean.

What does an orchestra produce? It produces a symphonic unity. Different notes from different instruments form the symphony. As each instrument plays its own notes, so each individual may meditate in his own way. But ultimately all will arrive at the same goal and the basic realisation of oneness. And this realisation is nothing other than liberation — liberation from bondage, ignorance and death.

Tat twam asi "That Thou art." This is indeed the secret that can be revealed in meditation. This "Thou" is not the outer man. This "Thou" is our soul, our divinity within. Our unlit and undivine nature tries to make us feel that the body is everything. Our illumined and divine nature makes us feel that our soul, which has no beginning and no ending, is everything. Indeed, it is the soul that is the breath of our existence both in Heaven and on earth.

Self-knowledge and universal Knowledge are not two different things. Everything in the universe becomes ours the moment we realise our Self. And what is this universe? It is the outer expression of our inner achievements. We are our own Saviours. Within us is our salvation. It is we who have to work for our salvation. We are our own fate-makers. To blame others for the unfavourable conditions of our lives is beneath our dignity. Unfortunately, this act of blaming others is one of man's oldest diseases. Adam blamed Eve for his temptation. Poor Eve, what could she do? She also blamed another. No, we must not do that. If action is ours, responsibility is also ours. To try to escape the consequences of our actions is simply absurd. But to be free from committing blunders is wisdom; it is the real illumination. Trials and tribulations are within us and without us. We simply have to ignore them. If this act of ignoring is not effective, we must face them. If that, too, is not enough, we have to conquer them here and now. The paramount problem is how to conquer the trials and tribulations. We can conquer them only by our constant aspiration and meditation. There is no substitute, no alternative.

From meditation, when it is deep and one-pointed, we get spiritual knowledge and pure devotion, which act not only simultaneously but also harmoniously. The path of Bhakti, devotion, and the path of Jnana, knowledge, lead us ultimately to the same goal. Devotion is not blind faith. It is not an absurd adherence to our inner feeling. It is a matchless process of spiritual unfoldment. Knowledge is not something dry. Neither is it an aggressive power. Knowledge is the food that energises our earthly and heavenly existence. Devotion is Delight. Knowledge is Peace. Our heart needs Delight and our mind needs Peace, just as God needs us to manifest Himself and we need God to fulfil ourselves.

Meditation: individual and collective. It is easy to meditate individually. The aspirant is fortunate, for no third person stands between him and God's Grace. It is easy to meditate collectively A student naturally gets joy while he is studying with others in the class. Here also the aspirant is fortunate, for the sincere aspiration of other seekers may inspire him.

True, there are difficulties in meditating individually, for laziness can plague the aspirant. True, there are difficulties in meditating collectively, because there is every possibility that the ignorance and weaknesses of others may unconsciously attack the aspirant's body, mind and heart.

Whether we meditate individually or collectively, there is one thing we absolutely must do: we have to meditate consciously. Making an unconscious effort is like forcing oneself to play football in spite of one's utmost unwillingness. One plays, but gets no joy. Conscious effort is like playing football most willingly. One gets real joy. Similarly, conscious meditation gives us inner Delight from the soul.

Finally, each human being must have the spirit of a divine hero. If he is left alone in the thickest forest, he must have the inner strength to meditate without fear. If he is asked to meditate in Times Square amid crowds of people, he must have the inner strength to meditate without being disturbed in the least. Whether alone or with others, the aspirant must dwell in his meditation unshaken and unafraid.

Has your soul a special mission?

Your soul has a special mission. Your soul is supremely conscious of it.

Maya, illusion or forgetfulness, makes you feel that you are finite, weak and helpless. This is not true. You are not the body. You are not the senses. You are not the mind. These are all limited. You are the soul, which is unlimited. Your soul is infinitely powerful. Your soul defies all time and space.

Can you ever realise your soul? Can you be fully conscious of your soul and be one with it? Certainly you can. For, in fact, you are nothing other than the soul. It is your soul that represents the natural state of consciousness. But doubt makes it difficult to realise the soul. Doubt is man's fruitless struggle in the outer world. Aspiration is the seeker's fruitful confidence in the inner world. Doubt struggles and struggles. Finally it defeats its own purpose. Aspiration flies upward to the highest. At its journey's end it reaches the Goal. Doubt is based on outer observation. Aspiration is founded on inner experience. Doubt ends in failure because it lives in the finite physical mind. Aspiration ends in success because it lives in the ever climbing soul. A life of aspiration is a life of Peace. A life of aspiration is a life of Bliss. A life of aspiration is a life of divine Fulfilment.

To know what your special mission is, you have to go deep within. Hope and courage must accompany you on your tireless journey. Hope will awaken your inner divinity. Courage will make your inner divinity flower. Hope will inspire you to dream into the Transcendental. Courage will inspire you to manifest the Transcendental here on earth.

To feel what your special mission is, you have always to create. This creation of yours is something which you ultimately become. Finally you come to realise that your creation is nothing other than your self-revelation.

True, there are as many missions as there are souls. But all missions fulfil themselves only after the souls have achieved some degree of perfection. The world is a divine play. Each participant plays a part in its success. The role of the servant is as important as that of the master. In the perfection of each individual part is the collective fulfilment. And at the same time, the individual fulfilment becomes perfect only when the individual has established his inseparable connection and realised his oneness with all human beings of the world.

You are one from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head. Yet at one place you are called ears, at another place you are called eyes. Each place in your body has a name of its own. Strangely enough, although they all are part of the same body, one cannot perform the action of another. Eyes see, but they cannot hear. Ears hear, but they cannot see. So the body, being one, also is many. Similarly, although God is one, He manifests Himself through many forms.

God tells us our mission. But we do not understand God's language, so He has to be His own interpreter. When others tell us about God, they can never tell us fully what God is. They misrepresent, and we misunderstand. God speaks in silence. Also, He interprets His message in silence. So also let us hear and understand God in silence.

Has your soul a special mission? Yes. Your mission is in the inmost recesses of your heart, and you have to find and fulfil it there. There can be no external way for you to fulfil your mission. The deer grows musk in his own body. He smells it and becomes enchanted, and tries to locate its source. He runs and runs, but he cannot find the source. In his endless search, he loses all his energy and finally he dies. But the source he was so desperately searching for was within himself. How could he find it elsewhere?

Such is the case with you. Your special mission — which is the fulfilment of your divinity — is not outside you, but within you. Search within. Meditate within. You will discover your mission.

How far are we from realisation?

Avidyaya mrityum tirtha vidyaya amritam snute. "By ignorance we cross through death, by knowledge we achieve Immortality." This is indeed a major realisation.

Realisation means the revelation of God in a human body. Realisation means that man himself is God.

Unfortunately, man is not alone. He has desire, and desire has tremendous power. Nevertheless, it fails to give him lasting joy and peace. Desire is finite. Desire is blind. It tries to bind man, who is boundless by birthright. God's Grace, which acts through man for God's full manifestation, is infinite.

Realisation springs from self-conquest. It grows in its oneness with God. It fulfils itself in embracing the finite and the Infinite.

We are seekers of the Supreme. What we need is absolute realisation. With a little realisation we can at most act like a cat. With absolute realisation we shall be able to threaten ignorance like a roaring lion.

The moment I say "my body", I separate myself from the body. This body undergoes infancy, childhood, adolescence, maturity and old age. It is not really me. The real "I" remains changeless always. When I say that I have grown fat or thin, I am speaking of the body that has grown fat or thin, and not the inner "I", which is eternal and immortal.

Realisation says that there are no such things as the bondage and freedom which we so often refer to in our day-to-day lives. What actually exists is consciousness — consciousness on various levels, consciousness enjoying itself in its varied manifestations. So long as we think that we are living in the bondage of ignorance, we are at liberty to feel that we can dwell in freedom as well, if we want to. If bondage makes us feel that the world is a field of suffering, then freedom can undoubtedly make us feel that the world is nothing but the blissful consciousness of the Brahman. But realisation makes us feel Sarvam khalvidam Brahma. "All that is extended is Brahman."

In order to realise what realisation is, we first have to love our inner Self. The second step is to love realisation itself. This is the love that awakens the soul. This is the love that illumines our consciousness. Love and you will be loved. Realise and you will be fulfilled.

Realisation is our inner lamp. If we keep the lamp burning, it will transmit to the world at large its radiant glow. We all, with no exceptions, have the power of self-realisation or, in other words, God-realisation. To deny this truth is to deceive ourselves mercilessly.

We realise the Truth not only when joy fills our mind, but also when sorrow clouds our heart, when death welcomes us into its tenebrous breast, when Immortality places our existence in transformation's lap.

How far are we from Realisation? We can know the answer by the degree to which we have surrendered to God's Will. There is no other way to know it. Also we must know that every single day dawns with a new realisation. Life is a constant realisation to him whose inner eye is open.

Why do we want to realise God? We want to realise God because we consciously have made ourselves avenues through which the fruits of God-realisation can flow. Our very body is a divine machine; hence it needs oiling. Realisation is a divine lubricant, which does its work most effectively.

Realisation can be achieved by God's Grace, the Guru's grace and the seeker's aspiration. God's Grace is the rain. The Guru's grace is the seed. The seeker's aspiration is the act of cultivation. Lo, the bumper crop is Realisation!

The role of purity in the spiritual life

Purity! Purity! Purity! We love you. We want you. We need you. Stay in our thoughts! Stay in our actions! Stay in the breath of our life!

How to be pure? We can be pure by self-control. We can control our senses. It is unbelievably difficult, but it is not impossible.

"I shall control my senses. I shall conquer my passions." This approach cannot bring us what we actually want. The hungry lion that lives in our senses and the hungry tiger that lives in our passions will not leave us because of the mere repetition of the thought, "I shall control my senses and conquer my passions." This approach is of no avail.

What we must do is fix our mind on God. To our utter amazement, our lion and tiger, now tamed, will leave us of their own accord when they see that we have become too poor to feed them. But as a matter of fact, we have not become poor in the least. On the contrary, we have become infinitely stronger and richer, for God's Will energises our body, mind and heart. To fix our body, mind and heart on the Divine is the right approach. The closer we are to the Light, the farther we are from the darkness.

Purity does not come all at once. It takes time. We must dive deep and lose ourselves with implicit faith in contemplation of God. We need not go to Purity. Purity will come to us. And Purity does not come alone. It brings an everlasting Joy with it. This divine Joy is the sole purpose of our life. God reveals Himself fully and manifests Himself unreservedly only when we have this inner Joy.

The world gives us desires. God gives us prayers. The world gives us bondage. God gives us freedom: freedom from limitations, freedom from ignorance.

We are the player. We can play either football or cricket. We have a free choice. Similarly, it is we who can choose either purity or impurity to play with. The player is the master of the game, and not vice versa.

The easiest and most effective way to have purity is to repeat a mantra. A mantra is a seed-sound. A mantra is a dynamic power in the form of a vibrant sound.

Now let us know what japa is. Japa is the repetition of a mantra. You want purity, don't you? Then right now, repeat the name of God five hundred times. This is our mantra. Let us all do it.

[The seekers joined Sri Chinmoy in repeating the mantra.]

Thank you. We are successful. Now every day please increase the number by one hundred. That is to say, tomorrow you will repeat the name of God six hundred times, and the day after, seven hundred. One week from today my calculation says that you will repeat the name of God twelve hundred times. From that day please start decreasing the number daily by one hundred until you again reach five hundred. Please continue this exercise, week by week, just for a month. Whether you want to change your name or not, the world will give you a new name. It will call you by the name Purity. Your inner ear will make you hear it. It will surpass your fondest imagination.

Let nothing perturb us. Let our body's impurity remind us of our heart's spontaneous Purity. Let our outer finite thoughts remind us of our inner infinite Will. Let our mind's teeming imperfections remind us of our soul's limitless Perfection.

The present-day world is full of impurity. It seems that purity is a currency from another world. It is hard to obtain this purity, but once we get it, peace is ours, success is ours.

Let us face the world. Let us take life as it comes. Our Inner Pilot is constantly vigilant. The undercurrents of our inner and spiritual life will always flow on unnoticed, unobstructed, unafraid.

God may be unknown but He is not unknowable. Our prayers and meditation lead us to that unknown. Freedom we cry for. But strangely enough, we are not aware of the fact that we already have within us immense freedom. Look! Without any difficulty, we can forget God. We can ignore Him and we can even deny Him. But God's Compassion says, "My children, no matter what you do or say, My Heart shall never abandon you. I want you. I need you."

The mother holds the hand of the child. But it is the child who has to walk, and he does so. Neither the one who is dragged nor the one who drags can be happy. Likewise, God says, "My divine children, in your inner life, I give you inspiration. It is you who have to aspire with the purest heart to reach the Golden Beyond."

Two secrets: Reincarnation and evolution

To understand the secrets of reincarnation, evolution and transformation we must first understand the most significant secret of all: the secret of karma.

Karma is a Sanskrit word which means action. The heart can perform it; the mind can perform it; the body can perform it.

There are three kinds of karma: Sanchita karma, Prarabdha karma and Agami karma.

Sanchita means amassed. We wait consciously or unconsciously for the fruit of karma that we have sown by our past thoughts, words, deeds and volitions. Sanchita karma is an accumulation of acts done in some past life or in this life, whose results have not yet been worked out, whose effects have not yet been produced.

Prarabdha karma is fate or destiny as the result of acts done in any former birth. The karmic effects have begun, but they are not yet finished and necessitate rebirth for completion. Prarabdha karma is that part of Sanchita karma which has started bearing fruit. We begin reaping in this life the fruit of our past karma, and at the same time we sow new seeds for future reaping.

Agami means future or approaching. Agami karma can be done only after one has attained spiritual perfection, when one is bound neither by the lure of birth nor by the snares of death. One acts then with a view to helping humanity. To fulfil the Divine here on earth, the liberated soul in this case plays a significant role in the Divine Play which has no beginning, no ending.

We know that there is some Being whom we call God. We know that there is something which we call the soul. It was the great American philosopher, Emerson, who said: "God is an infinite circle whose centre is everywhere, but whose circumference is nowhere." We can say definitely that this centre is man's soul.

The soul is an eternal entity. What is its connection with reincarnation? One could write endless pages on reincarnation, that formidable concept which is so widely spoken about and just as widely disbelieved. Let us try to understand, in one short sentence, the essence of the matter. Reincarnation is the process by which the soul evolves; it exists for the growth and development of the soul.

We all know Charles Darwin's theory of evolution of species. It is the change in the physical organism from lower to higher, or from simpler to more complex. Spiritual evolution runs parallel to physical evolution. The soul exists in all beings. True, it is divine and immortal. But it has its own urge to be more complete, more fulfilling and more divine. Hence, in the process of its evolution, it has to pass from the least perfect body to the most perfect body. At each stage, it takes into itself the real value of all its earthly experiences. Thus the soul grows, enriching itself, making its divinity more integral, more harmonious and more perfect.

Reincarnation tells us that we have not come from nothing. Our present condition is the result of what we have made ourselves from our past. We are the consequence of our past incarnations.

"Many births have been left behind by me and by thee, O Arjuna! All of them I know, but thou knowest not thine." So said the divine Sri Krishna to the yet unrealised Arjuna.

Evolution is the hyphen between what was and what shall be. I am a man. I must know that not only was I my father, but also shall I be my son. Problems I had. You had. He had. No exceptions! We faced them. We face them even today. But we shall solve them unmistakably.

What is the aim of life?

The aim of life is to become conscious of the Supreme Reality. The aim of life is to be the conscious expression of the Eternal Being.

Life is evolution. Evolution is the unfoldment from within. Each life is a world in itself. Indeed, each life is a microcosm. Whatever breathes in the vast universe also breathes in each individual life.

There are two lives: the inner and the outer. The outer life speaks about its principles and then tries to act. It professes in season and out of season, but it practises very little of what it professes. The inner life does not speak. It acts. Its spontaneous action is the conscious manifestation of God.

Our life has two realities: exoteric and esoteric. The exoteric reality deals with the outer world. The outer reality tries to fulfil itself by feeding desires and stimulating passions. The esoteric or inner reality finds fulfilment in the control of passions and the conquest of desires, in swimming in the vast sea of Liberation.

Life is existence. The ordinary existence comes from a deeper Existence. Existence can not come from non-existence. Life comes from God. Life is God. Two things we should do: we should study life most devotedly and live life most divinely.

Two things we must have: imagination and inspiration. A life with no imagination is a life of imprisonment. With the wings of imagination, we must try to fly into the Beyond. A life with no inspiration is a life of stagnation. With the dynamism of ceaseless inspiration, we shall give new meaning to life and immortalise life.

The aim of life is to realise God. Realisation can never come to the individual who is inactive. We have to strive for Realisation. We have to pay the price for it. There is no alternative. One thing of paramount importance: by telling others that you are a realised soul, you may convince others, you may even deceive your own heart, but you cannot deceive God.

For God-Realisation, the first requisite is peace. Peace is based on love: love for humanity and love for God. Peace is also founded on non-attachment. No thirst for gain, no fear of loss, lo! peace is yours. Peace is also based on renunciation. This renunciation is not the renunciation of worldly possessions, but of limitation and ignorance. That peace is the true Peace which is not affected by the roaring of the world, outer or inner.

When you have that divine Peace, Realisation cannot help knocking at your heart's door. To be more accurate, the Lotus of Realisation will start blooming in your heart, petal by petal. For God-Realisation, temples, churches and synagogues are not obligatory. Neither is the tapestry of scriptures and sermons required. What is imperative is meditation. This meditation will make you realise God the Infinite within your soul, heart, mind and body.

The aim of life is to live a divine life. We are living in this world. We know that man does not live by bread alone. He needs the soul in order to live in the world of God's Reality. The soul alone has the capacity to see and feel the known and the Unknown, the existent and the non-existent, the dream of the past, the achievement of the present and the hope of the future.

Let us accept the inner life, the spiritual life. Mistakes in our journey are inevitable. Success without endeavour is impossibility itself. No work, no progress. Experience we must welcome, for we can learn nothing without experience. The experience may be either encouraging or discouraging. But it is experience that makes us a real being, that shows us the true meaning of our very existence.

Let us all be truly spiritual. Let us realise God through our constant communion with Him. We need not have any particular time or place for our meditation. We must transcend the necessity of time and space. When we go deep within, we feel that one moment cannot be separated from another, that one place cannot be separated from another. Let us aspire to live in the Eternal Now of God-Realisation, in the Eternal Now of God's Dream and Reality. This Dream is the Dream of ever-surpassing Transcendence. This Reality is the Reality of ever-blossoming Revelation.

What is spirituality?

Spirituality is the universality of Truth, Light and Bliss. Spirituality is the conscious necessity for God. Spirituality is the constant opportunity to realise and prove that we all can be as great as God.

God is Delight. Delight is the breath of the soul. God does not want to see the face of sorrow. God will give us infinitude the moment we are ready to offer Him just one flash of our soul's delight.

Sorrowful is the world. We are responsible for it. Our feelings of self-interest and self-importance are fully responsible for it. The individual consciousness must expand. Man needs inspiration. Man needs action. Spirituality needs man. Spirituality needs absolute fulfilment. Spirituality has the inner eye that links every condition of life with inner certitude.

Man can make and unmake his outer conditions by his spiritual thoughts. He who carries God in his thoughts and actions, to him alone is God a living Reality.

Spirituality has a secret key to open the Door of the Divine. This key is meditation. Meditation simplifies our outer life and energises our inner life. Meditation gives us a natural and spontaneous life. This life becomes so natural and spontaneous that we cannot breathe without the consciousness of our divinity.

Meditation is a divine gift. It is the direct approach, for it leads the aspirant to the One from whom he has descended. Meditation tells us that our human life is a secret and sacred thing, and it affirms our divine heritage. Meditation gives us a new eye to see God, a new ear to hear the Voice of God and a new heart to feel the Presence of God.

The spiritual life is not a bed of roses; neither is it a bed of thorns. It is a bed of reality and inevitability. In my spiritual life, I see the role of the devil and the role of my Lord. If the devil has temptation, my Lord has Guidance. If the devil has opposition, my Lord has Help. If the devil has punishment, my Lord has Compassion. If the devil takes me to hell, my Lord takes me to Heaven. If the devil has death for me, my Lord has Immortality for me.

Out of the fulness of our heart, and with tears flooding our eyes, we must pray to God. We must pitch our aim as high as God-realisation, for that is the sole aim of our earthly existence. Sri Ramakrishna says: "He is born to no purpose who, having the rare privilege of being born a man, is unable to realise God in this life."

Science has achieved marvels. Nevertheless, its range of vision is limited. There are worlds beyond the senses; there are hidden mysteries. Science has no access to these worlds; science can never solve these mysteries. But a spiritual figure with his inner vision can easily enter into these worlds and fathom these mysteries. Yet a spiritual figure is a real idealist who does not build castles in the air, but rather has his feet firmly planted on the ground.

Spirituality is not merely tolerance. It is not even acceptance. It is the feeling of universal oneness. In our spiritual life, we look upon the Divine, not only in terms of our own God, but in terms of everybody's God. Our spiritual life firmly and securely establishes the basis of unity in diversity.

Spirituality is not mere hospitality to others' faith in God. It is the absolute recognition and acceptance of their faith in God as one's own. Difficult, but not impossible, for this has been the experience and practice of all spiritual Masters of all times.

"Truth" has been the problem of problems in every age. Truth lives in experience. Truth, in its outer aspect, is sincerity, truthfulness and integrity. Truth, in its inner and spiritual aspect, is the vision of God, the realisation of God and the manifestation of God. That which eternally breathes is Truth. Soul-stirring is the cry of our Upanishadic seers: Satyameva jayate nanritam: "Truth alone triumphs, and not untruth." Blessed is India to have this as her motto, her life-breath, her far-flung message of universal divinity.

Spirituality is not to be found in books. Even if we squeeze a book, we will get no spirituality. If we want to be spiritual, we have to grow from within. Thoughts and ideas precede books. The mind arouses thoughts and ideas from their slumber. Spirituality awakens the mind. A spiritual man is he who listens to the dictates of his soul, and whom fear cannot torture. The opinions of the world are too weak to torment his mind and heart. This truth he knows, feels and embodies.

Finally, I have an open secret for those who want to launch into the spiritual life. The open secret is this: you can change your life. You need not wait years or even months for this change. It begins the moment you dive into the sea of spirituality. Try to live the life of spiritual discipline for a day, a single day! You are bound to succeed.

What is Yoga?

What is Yoga? Yoga is the language of God. If we wish to speak to God, we have to learn His language.

What is Yoga? Yoga is that which discloses God's secret. If we wish to know God's secret, we have to launch into the path of Yoga.

What is Yoga? Yoga is the Breath of God. If we wish to see through God's Eye and feel through His Heart, if we wish to live in God's Dream and know God's Reality, if we wish to possess the Breath of God, and finally if we wish to become God Himself, Yoga will beckon us.

Yoga is union. It is the union of the individual soul with the Supreme Self. Yoga is the spiritual science that teaches us how the Ultimate Reality can be realised in life itself.

What we have to do is accept life and fulfil the Divine in ourselves here on earth. This can be effectuated only by transcending our human limitations.

Yoga tells us how far we have progressed in relation to God-realisation. It also tells us about our destined role in God's cosmic Drama. The final word of Yoga is that each human soul is a divine representative of God on earth.

Now let us focus our attention on the practical aspect of Yoga. There are various kinds of Yoga: Karma Yoga, the path of action; Bhakti Yoga, the path of love and devotion; and Jnana Yoga, the path of knowledge. These three are considered to be the most important kinds of Yoga. There are other significant types of Yoga, but they are either branches of these three or types closely related to them.

These three serve as the three main gates to God's Palace. If we want to see and feel God in the sweetest and most intimate way, then we have to practise Bhakti Yoga. If we want to realise God in humanity through our selfless service, then we have to practise Karma Yoga. If we want to realise the wisdom and glories of God's transcendental Self, then we have to practise Jnana Yoga.

One thing is certain. These three paths lead us to Self-realisation in God-realisation and God-realisation in Self-realisation.

Bhakti Yoga

Ask a man to speak about God and he will speak endlessly. Ask a Bhakta to speak about God and he will say only two things: God is all Affection, God is all Sweetness. The Bhakta even goes one step further. He says, "I can try to live without bread, but never can I live without my Lord's Grace."

A Bhakta's prayer is very simple: "O my Lord God, do enter into my life with Thine Eye of Protection and with Thy Heart of Compassion." This prayer is the quickest way to knock at God's Door and also the easiest way to see God open the Door.

A Karma yogin and a Jnana yogin may suffer a moment of doubt about God's existence. But a Bhakta has no suffering of that type. To him, the existence of God is an axiomatic truth. More than that, it is his heart's spontaneous feeling. But alas, he too has to undergo a kind of suffering. His is the suffering of separation from his Beloved. With the tears of his heart's devotion, he cries to re-establish his sweetest union with God.

The reasoning mind does not charm the Bhakta devotee. The hard facts of life fail to draw his attention, let alone absorb him. He wants to live constantly in a God-intoxicated realm.

A devotee feels that when he walks towards God, God runs towards him. A devotee feels that when he thinks of God for a second, God cries for him for an hour. A devotee feels that when he goes to God with a drop of his love to quench God's ceaseless thirst, God enfolds him in the sea of His ambrosial Love.

The relation between a devotee and God can only be felt, never described. Poor God thinks that no man on earth can ever capture Him, for He is priceless and invaluable. Alas, He has forgotten that He has already granted devotion to His Bhakta. To His greatest surprise, to His deepest joy, His devotee's surrendered devotion is able to capture Him.

There are people who mock the Bhakta. They say that a Bhakta's God is nothing but a personal God, an infinite God with form, a glorified human being. To them I say, "Why should a Bhakta not feel thus?" A Bhakta sincerely feels that he is a tiny drop and that God is the infinite Ocean. He feels that his body is an infinitesimal portion of God the boundless Whole. A devotee thinks of a God and prays to a God in his own image. And he is absolutely right to do so. Just enter into a cat's consciousness and you will see that its idea of an omnipotent Being takes the form of a cat — only in a gigantic form. Just enter into the consciousness of a flower and you will see that the flower's idea of something infinitely more beautiful than itself takes the image of a flower.

The Bhakta does the same. He knows that he is a human being and he feels that his God should be human in every sense of the term. The only difference, he feels, is that he is a limited human being and God is a limitless human Being.

To a devotee, God is at once blissful and merciful. His heart's joy makes him feel that God is blissful and his heart's pangs make him feel that God is merciful.

A bird sings. A man sings. God too sings. He sings His sweetest songs of Infinity, Eternity and Immortality through the heart of His Bhakta.