Part I — Spiritual principles

Spiritual principles

Perfection has to be the goal of each and every individual — perfection in the inner life and perfection of the outer life — for it is in perfection that satisfaction abides. Perfection is both humanity’s hope and Divinity’s promise.

Question: How can we know God’s Will?

Sri Chinmoy: In order to know God’s Will convincingly, we have to meditate most soulfully and reach our highest state of consciousness. When we are in the highest state of consciousness, we will see that we have gone far beyond the domain of the mind, and the dance of thoughts has completely stopped.

Then, if we want to know if a certain idea or message is from God, the answer will come in a very soft, subtle voice or it will be written in a column of light inside our heart, which we will be able to read.

After discovering God’s Will, if we are still in our highest consciousness, we will not be affected regardless of whether the message is encouraging or discouraging to our mind. If we are in an ordinary consciousness, we have preconceived ideas about what is desirable and undesirable. If the message says that we will be successful, then we are happy; but if the message is perceived by our mind in a negative way, then we will feel miserable. But once we are highly developed, even if the message does not appear favourable, we will not be disturbed. After knowing God’s Will, we can go one step further and cheerfully accept God’s Will.

Question: Quite often you speak of “light”. What is it exactly?

Sri Chinmoy: In a very broad sense you can call light a divine gift. Everything good, in fact, is a divine gift. From the spiritual point of view, everything that a seeker has and is, is a divine gift — an unconditional gift from the transcendental Supreme.

When I say light, I am speaking about illumination. This illumination will first take place in the realm of the God-manifesting soul. Next it will take place in the aspiring heart, then in the searching mind, then in the dynamic vital and, finally, in the wakeful body. When you can open your third eye — the eye of inner vision — at your sweet will, you can not only see light but also grow into light and spread it around the globe.

Although light is the most needed spiritual quality of all, unfortunately it is the least wanted. Very often seekers invoke joy, peace or power, but very rarely do they aspire for light. Instead of feeling that the divine light will illumine them, they mistakenly identify with their own limitations and imperfections, and feel that they are going to be exposed. But the divine light is not going to expose them. On the contrary, light embraces humanity with all its imperfections and tries to illumine human ignorance so the human life can be elevated into the divine life.

Question: Teilhard de Chardin spoke of an irreversible law of progression towards perfection. Do you agree with this optimistic view?

Sri Chinmoy: I fully agree with Teilhard de Chardin. In the process of evolution each individual is making progress, and continuous progress ultimately leads to perfection itself. Perfection has to be the goal of each and every individual — perfection of the inner life and perfection of the outer life — for it is in perfection that satisfaction abides. Perfection is both humanity’s hope and Divinity’s promise. In the union of humanity’s hope and Divinity’s promise are the seeds of perfection-realisation on earth and fulfilment-satisfaction in Heaven.

When we dive deep within, we clearly see that not only are individuals progressing, but God’s creation as a whole is also progressing. Everything that exists is making progress. Even God the Infinite, God the Eternal and God the Immortal is progressing; He is constantly expanding His own Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. Continuous progress is the supreme Goal of His Transcendental Vision and His Universal Reality.

God the Creator is progressing in and through God the creation, and vice versa. God the creation says to God the Creator: “I have what You need from me — aspiration.” God the Creator says to God the creation: “I have what you need from Me — Satisfaction.” It is when earth’s ascending cry meets Heaven’s descending Smile that perfection-satisfaction becomes a reality.

Question: Your extraordinary creativity gives the impression that man has within himself capacities that are unexplored and unused. How can we awaken these capacities? Your disciples learn from you, but do they achieve the same kind of results?

Sri Chinmoy: Definitely man’s inner, divine capacities are not fully explored or fully used. We can awaken these capacities through our heart’s aspiration and our life’s dedication.

My disciples do learn from me to bring to the fore their inner capacities, and many have succeeded in doing so. A few of them have amazed the world with their most outstanding capacities. One of them, Ashrita Furman, has held as many as thirteen world records, and many others have discovered and developed exceptional capacities in various fields. They may not achieve the same kind of results as I do, because their receptivity is still limited at their level of spiritual development. But because of their inner aspiration, their regular meditation and their sincere devotion to the life of the spirit, they have achieved or will achieve far more than they would have or could have, had they led ordinary lives.

Question: What is the significance of your accomplishments in the fields of art and sports? Your fantastic results seem to prove that in your case the body is truly the instrument of the spirit. Is this true for everyone?

Sri Chinmoy: The life-tree has many branches. Art, literature, music and athletics are all branches of the life-tree. In my case, when I apply myself to art, literature, music, sports and other activities, I have only one goal: self-transcendence. I have always tried to transcend myself, and I am still trying to transcend myself, for self-transcendence is the only way to achieve self-perfection and God-satisfaction.

For all human beings the body is truly the instrument of the spirit. Westerners are fond of saying that the spirit is willing but the body is weak. Unfortunately, I cannot agree with this pronouncement. The body is always loyal to its superiors — the mind, heart and soul. Our real problem starts with the mind, not with the body.

When the mind is the boss, the mind dictates wrong things to the body, because the mind itself is spiritually weak. The limitations of the mind are so powerful that they do not allow the mind itself to surrender to the higher authorities — the heart and soul. But the body, in spite of having serious limitations, is always willing to obey the heart and soul when they are able to come to the fore in the life of an aspiring human being.

So it is not actually the limitations of the body that so often prevent us from doing the right thing or from making progress in the way we want to. Just because the mind is superior to the body in certain ways, we are inclined to defend the mind and accuse the body. But actually it is the unwillingness of the mind, cleverly disguised, which is really to blame for our lack of accomplishments or progress.

For everyone, the body is the only means by which the spirit can manifest itself. The body is the temple; the spirit is the shrine. Both are of supreme importance. The shrine is needed for inner realisation; the temple is needed for outer manifestation.

Part II — Global consciousness

Global consciousness

What we need is a life of balance — neither to wallow in the pleasures of wealth nor to lead a life of asceticism, but to embrace a life of simplicity and a heart of purity. Indeed, this is the only way that this world of ours can be supremely happy and divinely perfect.

Question: Can God influence world activities in order to help mankind?

Sri Chinmoy: If God cannot influence world activities in order to help mankind, then who can? It is true that some things are predestined. Again, God’s omnipotent Will can and does change human destiny. It has happened countless times both on an individual level and on a collective level down through the sweep of centuries. Under ordinary circumstances, the law of karma is irrevocable, but God’s Grace can easily alter the law of karma.

A naughty boy may strike another boy mercilessly and unnecessarily. But before the other boy can retaliate, the culprit can go and take shelter with his father, asking him for protection. The father knows perfectly well that his son has done something wrong, but the father may protect him and not allow the other party to punish him. Similarly, when we do something wrong, if we beg God for His Forgiveness before the punishment comes, God can forgive us and save us from the deserved punishment if He chooses to.

God inspires heads of countries and all of us to do the right thing. But inspiration is one thing and our acceptance of this inspiration is something else. God wants to fulfil Himself in and through us divinely, but quite often we do not allow Him to do so. We want to fulfil ourselves in a wrong, undivine way. Then naturally we remain divinely unfulfilled and God remains supremely unmanifested.

Question: Is it possible for someone to raise the global consciousness just by raising his own individual consciousness?

Sri Chinmoy: We have to inspire the world to meditate by aspiring in and through the heart of the world. We are all peace-dreamers and peace-lovers, and we are all inspired to serve the world. But sometimes a particular individual comes to the fore with boundless inspiration and transforms our universal peace-dream into reality. Here is an example:

The Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is only a single individual, but his consciousness has entered into the global consciousness and transformed the entire global consciousness. On the strength of his inspiration, aspiration and love for humanity, he is not only liberating a few bondage-bound countries, but also enlarging the illumining and fulfilling vision of tomorrow’s freedom-oneness-life for all of humanity. One individual has begun singing the song of world-harmony, and the rest of the world has lovingly and eagerly joined in. As a result of one individual’s consciousness, a oneness-world-peace-song is being sung by people throughout the length and breadth of the world.

The One is part of the many, and the many are part of the One. Similarly, the individual consciousness and the global consciousness are inseparable, like a flower and its petals or like a tree with its trunk and its branches. The trunk without the branches is not a tree. Again, there can be no branches without the trunk. So the individual has to feel his oneness with the universe, and he has to aspire and meditate in and through the heart of the entire world.

Question: Your spirituality does not require a hermit-like way of life, but instead favours a full participation in today’s society. This implies that society, even structured as it is, contains the seeds of spiritual growth. Through meditation and spiritual practice can one become spiritual, irrespective of his or her social role?

Sri Chinmoy: Definitely society embodies spirituality in the purest sense of the term. Spirituality is not asceticism. Spirituality is not self-abnegation. True spirituality means the acceptance and transformation of life so that perfect perfection can dawn in the core of humanity. Through meditation and spiritual discipline, definitely one can become spiritual irrespective of one’s social role or religious beliefs.

Question: What is your most urgent message for today’s man — for the West, conditioned by its materialistic philosophy, and for the East, which, in many cases, is still struggling for life’s basic necessities?

Sri Chinmoy: For the West, my most urgent message is this: Do not try to possess the world. If you want to possess the world, to your wide surprise you will see that the world has possessed you and made you its slave. To the East I would say that a life of austerity or a life of rejection will not expedite your spiritual journey. Possession is not the answer; asceticism is not the answer; moderation is the answer. Cheerful acceptance of life — with a view to transforming the face and fate of the world — is the only answer.

The developed and prosperous countries must exercise their generosity and genuine concern for their fellow citizens of the world, not out of charity but out of a sincere feeling of oneness. With the loving material assistance of the wealthy countries, the underdeveloped and ill-fated countries can and must give more importance to education and self-discipline, and strive for a better standard of living instead of surrendering to the deplorable circumstances which have rendered them helpless.

What we need is a life of balance — neither to wallow in the pleasures of wealth nor to lead a life of asceticism, but to embrace a life of simplicity and a heart of purity. Indeed, this is the only way that this world of ours can be supremely happy and divinely perfect.

Question: In your spiritual philosophy, what role do the poor, sick and aged have? What role do women have?

Sri Chinmoy: In my philosophy everyone, including the poor, sick and aged, belongs to one family — God’s Family. God is at once poor and rich, sick and healthy, young and old, for He exists inside each and every individual. Here on earth we are all God’s children.

God wants us to be spiritually hungry. Once we are hungry, He feeds us with His Compassion and Love. This Compassion and Love are not the monopoly of certain people; they are for all those who cry for them. To realise God, neither prosperity nor poverty is needed. It is the inner cry that is of supreme importance. This cry is the only necessity for God-realisation, and it can be had by anyone, regardless of age, health or worldly position.

Similarly, both men and women have the same right to claim God as their very own. That is not to say that men and women should always play the same kind of role in God’s Cosmic Play. They may have different parts to play, but each one is needed to fulfil God the Transcendental in Heaven and God the Universal on earth. In God’s Eye, men and women are equally important.

Question: Will mankind survive the impending ecological disasters? How can our modern technological society be taught to respect our home, the planet Earth?

Sri Chinmoy: Mankind will survive everything precisely because God will not allow His perfection-manifestation on earth to be a failure. But it is very difficult to impress upon others the necessity of respecting and preserving our Mother-Earth. If we try to play the role of enforcers, we will not be successful. Nobody wants to learn anything by outer force. Everybody has to be taught through inner persuasion and outer example.

Inner persuasion has to be founded upon our prayers and meditations. Those who are conscious of the higher ideals have to pray to God and meditate on God to illumine the destruction-thirsty minds of the world and transform them into perfection-longing minds. Also, we have to pray to God and meditate on God to create and develop a genuine universal oneness-hunger in the life of humanity.

The development of technology is not bad in itself. But we have to see whether technology is utilised for the divine satisfaction of mankind or for man’s mutual self-destruction. Our planet Earth, which God has chosen for His complete manifestation, will be inundated with light and delight when we all live in our purity-heart-garden and not in our impurity-mind-jungle.

In this sense, each seeker has a special role to play in the protection of our small planet. It is the illumination of the individual mind and spirit that will precede the awakening of a new collective awareness. The change in individual attitudes will be the precursor of a change in institutional policies, and the result will be a greater respect and love for our planet Earth.

Question: God is all Love and Goodness. Will He allow mankind, in its arrogance and greed, to destroy the world?

Sri Chinmoy: Precisely because He is all Love and all Goodness, God will never allow mankind to destroy this beautiful world of His. Sleeplessly He tells us to claim His world as our own, and to serve Him in this world by increasing the purity and divinity of our lives.

We can all see that the world has recently made tremendous progress. God has successfully inspired the human mind and heart to aspire towards a more harmonious world. He is infusing the earth-consciousness with greater oneness-light to go beyond national boundaries and other divisions. In the past year, for example, many dramatic steps towards peace and harmony have been taken around the world, especially in the USSR and in Eastern Europe. That these changes could have occurred and that these barriers could have come down in our lifetime was previously beyond our imagination. Some people are calling these dramatic and unexpected events miracles of God in and through mankind.

We must remember that the Creator is always more powerful than His creation. The Creator can easily influence or change the negative and destructive forces in the world. Our Beloved Supreme could stop a pending nuclear disaster, for example, by changing the mind of the pilot who was about to drop the life-devastating bomb. So we must have faith in our Creator and trust that He will, without fail, do the needful for His creation.