Question: How do we aspire?

Sri Chinmoy: Cry, cry like a child from the very depths of your heart. There is no prayer that cannot be answered, no meditation that cannot be fulfilled if you cry sincerely. Aspiration is your soul’s mounting cry to reach the Highest and to bring down the Highest into the earth’s consciousness.

Question: What is aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: Aspiration is inner cry. Aspiration is inner courage. What is inner courage? Inner courage is implicit faith in your own divine Pilot. If you have inner courage, that means you have faith in your Master.

Question: How can we recognise true aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: This question is most interesting and at the same time most instructive. Sometimes an aspirant feels that he is doing the right thing. He feels that he is doing his best in his aspiration and that God is most pleased with him. But it may be that this person’s aspiration is absolutely insincere. His aspiration may be next to nothing at that very time.

Now, how can we know whether our aspiration is genuine, sincere and productive? There is an inner joy, an inner bliss, right in the inmost recesses of our heart, and this inner bliss we get only when our aspiration is genuine and sincere. We may get some mental and vital joy just because we are practising the spiritual life. But the real inner joy we get only when our aspiration is true and genuine. When we have inner joy, we see and feel that we are consciously sitting and growing in the Lap of God. The more we live in the world of higher aspiration, the more convincing will be our feeling of oneness with God. When we become consciously one with God, at that time He will stand right in front of us even when we are doing the most ordinary things.

If anybody wants to know whether his aspiration is genuine and whether he is really marching towards the Goal or not, then I wish to ask that person to observe his mind and heart. If in his mind he feels inner joy and peace and if his heart is flooded with joy and delight, not pleasure, then his aspiration is true and genuine. At that time the aspirant will know that he is not deceiving himself.

Question: Is it necessary for us to aspire with something specific in mind, such as strength or some other divine quality?

Sri Chinmoy: No, your aspiration has not to be specific in that way. Aspiration must not come from the mind. Please do not think that you have to aspire for peace, for strength, for anything specific. If the mind dictates to you, its message will be all wrong. The mind will immediately tell you to pray for a thousand and one things at a time. But aspiration is something spontaneous. It comes directly from the heart. In the morning, or any time when you start your meditation, a spontaneous feeling will come from your heart. This feeling will compel you to pray for something or to invoke something. This feeling does not operate through the mind.

Question: Why do some people not aspire?

Sri Chinmoy: In the spiritual life we use the term ‘inner awakening’. If one is awakened, then naturally that person will run towards his Goal. When you are ready, when your hour has struck, you will get up and run towards your Goal. Then after a while somebody else will be ready and he will run towards his Goal. The spiritual life is not like the military life where all are forced to go in the same marching formation. No! There is no compulsion; there is no force. The spiritual life is voluntary; it is a matter of your own choice. Accept God or reject God at your own sweet will.

But we have to be wise. If we accept God, then we feel that sooner or later we will really be fulfilled. If we do not consciously accept God today, then there will come a time when He will compel us to accept Him because He will not allow us to remain unfulfilled and unrealised; for the very purpose of God’s creation is fulfilment.

I will tell you a story. Two sons are standing in front of a lake and the mother is observing them. One son is very good and obedient; he wants to please the mother. He knows that if he goes into the water his whole body will be refreshed; he will have a sense of purity. So he jumps into the lake and he is clean and fresh. But the other son is lazy. The water is very cold and he is afraid of it. He is waiting, waiting, waiting. The mother waits for some time, and then she gets annoyed and just pushes him into the water.

The first son was obedient and knew the necessity of taking a bath, so he did. In the spiritual life also, those who are awakened — the obedient children, the spiritual children — will naturally do what is necessary to please their Inner Pilot, God. They know that by pleasing their Inner Pilot, they are accelerating their Godward march. Others who do not feel the necessity, who are afraid and reluctant, will keep God waiting for a few years, a few hundred years or a few thousand years. Then God will compel them because God, like the mother, knows the necessity of cleaning, purifying and illumining the soul.

The spiritual life is not like a race, where everyone starts at the same time and from the same starting point. When you are ready, you will have your starting point; when I am ready, I will have my own starting point. But the Goal is always the same. You may start your journey a few hours or a few years ahead of me, but when you reach your destination and when I reach my destination, it will be the same place. But this is true only if it is the ultimate, the highest Goal. Otherwise, your goal may be just to have an iota of Peace, Light and Bliss. So, when you have come to that place, you are satisfied and you don’t want to have anything more. On your way to the ultimate destination you will reach some partial goal and perhaps think that this is the final Goal. Then you will stay at your goal for some time, because your inner or outer being does not want to go farther, higher and deeper. But when I reach that goal, which I will also have to attain, I may want to go farther. While you are walking down the street you see a beautiful tree with flowers and fruits. You stop and enjoy the fruit and think you have reached your Goal. But on my way to the Goal I may say, “No. There is something more beautiful, more powerful, more meaningful than this.” Then naturally I will go farther and cover more distance. When I reach my goal, I will see that it is not a mango, but a diamond and at that time I will be satisfied. You will also go higher and farther after reaching your goal, because the ultimate Goal has to be won. But when I reach my ultimate Goal and when you reach your ultimate Goal, it will be the same, for everyone’s ultimate Goal is the same.

Question: Why is it necessary to have flowers, candles and incense in order to meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: When we keep our physical body clean and pure, when we offer flowers at our shrine, when we burn candles and incense, these things give us an additional opportunity to convince our physical mind that we are doing something most significant. But this is not the ultimate reason. The ultimate reason is to make ourselves constantly aware of our inner aspiration, the mounting flame within us. Then constantly we have to fly within to our highest level of consciousness.

Question: What role does sincerity play in one’s aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: I will tell you a story. Once upon a time there was a king who ordered his subjects to dig a pond. Then he said, “There will be no water in this pond. It will be filled only with milk.” So he told all his subjects to bring a jug full of milk the next day.

Now the following day, a brilliant thought flashed across everybody’s mind. They thought, “Let me take a jug full of water to fill the pond. Others will bring milk, so how will the king know who has brought milk and who has brought water?”

So everybody brought water. And when the king and queen went to see the pond in the evening, they saw it was all water; there was no milk at all.

Here also some of the disciples feel, “If I don’t aspire, no harm. Somebody else will aspire. How will the Master know whether I am aspiring or not?” We can deceive an ordinary king by pouring in water instead of milk, but a spiritual Master cannot be fooled. A God-realised person will immediately be able to know who is aspiring and who is not aspiring. If there were four people sitting here in front of me, immediately with my occult vision I would be able to say, “He is aspiring: he is not aspiring.”

With a spiritual Master there is constant forgiveness. A spiritual person will say, “Today he has come without aspiration. But let me forgive him. Let me show him my utmost compassion and tomorrow he will try to come with a real, sincere inner cry.” The king would get angry with his subjects. He would say, “You people have all deceived me. I will punish you.” But a spiritual Master, in spite of knowing that he has been deceived outwardly, will use only his forgiveness-weapon. He says, “If I can forgive this person, if I show him my compassion, then tomorrow he will make an attempt to please me. This time he will really bring milk and not water.” This is what a spiritual Master does.

Question: Sometimes I have an inner longing within my heart. What is the spiritual significance of this?

Sri Chinmoy: Longing itself is meditation. You cannot separate inner longing from meditation. Outer longing or desire for name, fame, money and material possessions is simply foolish. Inner longing is the cry for oneness with the Source. That is a form of meditation. You are a secretary. While you are typing, if you type most soulfully in order to become one with the Supreme in your spiritual Master or with God, that is real meditation. On the other hand, if you want to show that you can type better or more speedily than someone else, then that is not divine longing. Your longing has to be in the highest plane of consciousness. This is the longing that will make you feel one with the Supreme and with your Master. The longing that separates you from God but gives you outer success in various ways is not meditation. The longing that will consciously make you totally one with God is real meditation.

Question: Will you please explain how it is that the soul evolves only on the planet Earth?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul manifests only on this planet because this planet is in evolution. Evolution means constant progress, constant achievement. When one wants to make progress, when one wants to go beyond, then this is the place. In other worlds, the cosmic gods and other beings are satisfied with what they have already achieved. They do not want to go one inch beyond their achievement. But here on earth you are not satisfied, I am not satisfied — nobody is satisfied with what they have achieved. Dissatisfaction does not mean that we are angry with somebody or angry with the world. No! Dissatisfaction means that we have constant aspiration to go beyond and beyond. If we have only an iota of light, then we want to have more light. Always we want to expand.

When the creation started, the souls took different paths. Those that wanted the ultimate Truth, the infinite Truth, accepted the human body so that they could some day possess, reveal and manifest the Truth here on earth. According to our Indian tradition there are thousands of cosmic gods. There are as many presiding deities and gods as there are human beings. These presiding deities and gods remain in the higher worlds, either in the vital world or in the intuitive world or in some higher plane. Right now, according to their limited capacity, they have more power than we have. But when we are liberated and realised, when we are totally one with the Supreme’s Consciousness, with the Supreme’s Will, then we shall transcend them.

Our human capacity is infinitely greater than that of the so-called presiding deities because they are satisfied, whereas we are not satisfied with what we have. But actually it is not a case of dissatisfaction; it is a case of constant aspiration. We know that our Supreme Father is infinite. We feel that we have not yet become the Infinite, but we cry to expand, expand. This planet has that inner urge. On the one hand, it is obscure, it is ignorant, it does not care for divine life. But on the other hand, it has that tremendous inner urge of which most human beings are not yet aware. When the inner urge is functioning, then there is no end to our possibilities, no end to our achievements. And when we achieve the Infinite, then naturally we surpass the achievements of other worlds.

Question: In the future, will people always have to aspire like us? Or at some point will people no longer be born on earth?

Sri Chinmoy: People will continue to be born and evolution will also continue. We are human beings right now, not animals. But we have so many animal qualities: we quarrel, we fight, we have wars, we do so many undivine things. We actually strangle one another with our hatred and jealousy. But again, we claim that as human beings we are a superior species, we lead a higher life. But in what way? When we enter into ourselves we see that we are human animals. Still, we have made a little progress. We don’t want to remain ferocious animals. Among us, some people are really aspiring and crying for God. Eventually they will see the Truth and grow into the Truth. This is evolution.

We cannot say that after four hundred or five hundred years there will be no more animal or human incarnations. There will be animals, there will be people, but they will be more perfect. Now, out of ten thousand people, one person may aspire. But the time will come when it will be just the opposite. We will have made such progress that only one person out of ten thousand will not aspire.

We cannot say that there will be another type of evolution in which everybody will descend fully illumined to earth. No! I have worked hard for many years and centuries in order to realise God. Will someone else not have to work at all? Will God do everything for him immediately? No, everybody has to work. God’s Grace descends only when we work hard, when we aspire most soulfully. True, some people realise God when they are in their teens. You may say, “Oh, I have been meditating for twenty or thirty years, while he has meditated only for five or ten years. How is it that he has realised God?” But you do not know that fifty or seventy years ago in his previous incarnation he meditated intensely for many years. Similarly, the world is now imperfect and only gradually, gradually will it become perfect. It is not that at a fixed time the Light will dawn and all non-aspiring people will suddenly run towards the Goal. No! Evolution is a slow, gradual process.

Question: How long do we have to continue to reincarnate?

Sri Chinmoy: If one aspires, one expedites one’s realisation. Otherwise, an ordinary human being takes hundreds and hundreds of incarnations before actual realisation takes place. Aspirants who consciously enter into the path of spirituality and try to discipline themselves on the strength of their inner cry will naturally gain their realisation sooner than those who are still sleeping and are not yet conscious of the inner life.

Now, after one realises God, if it is God’s Will, that person need not take any more incarnations. If the person is tired, then he may say, “No, I don’t want to be of any help to humanity; I only want to realise God. After realisation I would like to stay in some other plane of consciousness.” But some realised souls will want to go back to the earth-consciousness and serve aspiring humanity. It all depends on the individual soul and on God’s Will.

Question: You said that a spiritual Master is a practical man because he wants to bring God to men. But is it practical for someone involved in the world to aspire?

Sri Chinmoy: The problem is that we have no conception of spirituality. We think that a spiritual man has to leave the world and live in a cave; otherwise, how can he be spiritual? But in real spirituality, man has not to leave the world in order to realise God. Where is God? God is inside your heart, inside everybody’s heart.

A spiritual man should be a normal man, a sound man. God Himself is normal; He is not insane. In order to reach God, a spiritual person has to be divinely practical in his day-to-day activities. Spirituality does not negate the outer life. But we have to know that the outer life does not mean the animal life. The outer life should be the manifestation of the divine life within us.

Question: When you spoke of the need to transcend the past, you said that the world is continually evolving. Could you say more about this?

Sri Chinmoy: The world is progressing. If we go deep within, we see that the world is really evolving. In the outer world we see fighting, battles, wars. But actually, when we say ‘the world’, that does not mean the outer happenings. ‘The world’ means our very own existence. Each person represents the world. If we are aspiring, then while going deep within, we can see in our own human nature that we ourselves need to make progress. We still have within us millions of silly, dark and hostile forces.

Now when we accept the spiritual life, we feel that we are no longer victims to those dark forces. Those who have accepted the inner life, the spiritual life, can feel their inner progress. The world around us may be all chaos, but we know that there is also another world, the inner world. In the inner world, we see the achievement of ever-transcending perfection.

Each person has to know and feel how much he has progressed. When he accepts the spiritual life and walks along the path of spirituality, he is bound to see inner progress. In the inner world he achieves Peace, Light and Bliss; but in the outer world his nature is still imperfect. It takes time to manifest these divine qualities in one’s outer behaviour. If we look only at the outer activities, we will be disappointed. But if we go deep within, we will see how much Peace this person has already achieved. In the course of time, he will be able to manifest what he has inside himself. What we have within, we are bound to manifest either tomorrow or the day after.

So when I say the world is progressing or evolving, it is all the result of aspiration; we see it and feel it. At the same time there are many who are not aspiring and they may feel that the world is not evolving. When we aspire, we do see the evolution in our own nature and in others’ lives. But if we do not aspire, we do not see this inner progress at all. Only in the world of aspiration does our inner progress and the progress of the world exist.

The world is evolving. Once upon a time we were all animals. Now we are no longer in the animal kingdom; we have progressed. We have now discovered the mind. But a day will come when we will be far more illumined than we are now. When we think that just a few centuries ago we were all animals, who knows what we are going to be four hundred or six hundred or eight hundred years from now? In the process of evolution, perfection is bound to dawn.

The spiritual life and the outer life are one. It has been said, “I walk slowly, but I never walk backwards.” In the spiritual life also, one may either walk slowly and steadily or march fast, but he has to realise God. One may reach the Goal sooner than another, but all are moving forward towards the Goal.

Question: How can our aspiration help us to appreciate the outer world?

Sri Chinmoy: God is the only truth here on earth and there in Heaven. For the aspirant, God comes first. But that does not mean that he neglects or negates the world. No, far from it! He loves God. He loves humanity. He loves God because God is all Love. He loves humanity because inside humanity is God, the All-Love.

When we appreciate somebody’s physical beauty, we are appreciating the outer beauty, which is infinitely inferior to the inner beauty. But if we can appreciate the inner beauty first, then we feel that the outer beauty can be appreciated in a divine way as the manifestation of the inner beauty. So when we appreciate outer beauty, we have to know that inside the outer beauty is the Supreme, the All-Beauty. We appreciate the outer creation because inside the outer creation is the inner creation, which is all joy, all harmony and all perfection.

An ordinary human being can never dare to possess true hope, true love, true inspiration, true aspiration, because according to him God is in Heaven or somewhere else. He does not feel the presence of God inside him, in front of him or around him. But a spiritual aspirant who is crying for God, who is constantly shedding soulful tears, trying to become one with God, feels that God is in the inmost recesses of his heart. He has not to go to the Himalayan caves in order to realise God. His God lives inside him. He feels that because God is inside him, God’s creation also is inside him. A spiritual person always feels that God’s entire creation is his home. God’s entire creation is constantly being created and revealed with a new inspiration and a new aspiration inside the aspirant. He who has accepted spirituality in the truest sense of the term has first to feel that God is the sole reality. Then he will see that God’s creation can never be separated from God.