Part I — Supernatural phenomena

Supernatural phenomena

It may be helpful to have the capacity to know the future, but people should not pray to God to give them this capacity. They should pray to God only for the fulfilment of His Will.

Question: Could you please tell about any experience you had where the paranormal played an obvious and undeniable role?

Sri Chinmoy: In my case I have been using my inner vision and spiritual power since the age of thirteen or fourteen. I have had innumerable experiences, and I can give you a few examples that are both interesting and amusing.

In my youth, when I was a champion athlete in my community, quite a few times I predicted how far others would jump in the long jump. When the participants were about to start, I used to write down their distances on the ground, and my predictions always proved absolutely correct. I did this many times.

I also made predictions about my friends’ times in the hurdles. I used to write down their times on a piece of paper and give it to one of my friends in a sealed envelope, asking him to open it only after the race was over. Again and again, my predictions proved correct.

In another instance, a very good friend of mine was criticising Indian sadhus and swamis. He was saying that none of them had inner power. I told him to come to see me the next day and I would show him some spiritual power. The next day we stood face to face and I said, “Now look at me!” He was a great wrestler, but in a matter of seconds he fainted and fell down.

When he regained consciousness a few moments later, he called me a rascal and ran away. Then he started telling everyone that I had tried to kill him, which was absolutely untrue. But the enormous power he had seen in me in those few seconds had frightened him terribly.

Once in 1967 I was a panellist on a TV talk show in Puerto Rico. The weathermen, astrologers and others were predicting that a terrible hurricane would destroy Puerto Rico in a few days. I said that instead of the island being flooded, there would be just a little bit of water. On television there was a fight between me and the astrologers. I finally said, “Say whatever you want, but I see with my inner vision that nothing will happen.”

At that time I also appeared on a radio programme. The radio interviewer and a few others also challenged me about the hurricane. Then, when my prediction came true, the radio interviewer became my disciple.

Question: Do you think that precognition can restrict man’s free will? Knowing the future, will he no longer be able to decide freely anymore?

Sri Chinmoy: Precognition does not necessarily restrict man’s free will. It entirely depends on the wisdom-light of the one who has the knowledge of the future and on his capacity to deal with the prediction. It may be helpful to have the capacity to know the future, but people should not pray to God to give them this capacity. They should pray to God only for the fulfilment of His Will.

To know the future is good only if you have patience, faith and the wisdom to use this knowledge in the proper way. Suppose you see that something discouraging, disheartening and destructive is going to take place in your life in the near future. Because you know in advance, you have the opportunity to pray to God to avert the calamity. If you pray devotedly and sincerely, God may listen to your prayers. In this case, knowing the future is a great help because it allows you the time and gives you the inspiration to pray to God to save you. And even if God does not answer your prayers in the way that you ask, He will illumine your mind in a very special way so that you can bravely face the calamity.

On the other hand, if you see that something good, divine, inspiring, illumining and fulfilling is going to take place in the near future, then you can start offering your sincere gratitude to God, and also you can pray to God to expedite this fulfilling manifestation. God may listen to your prayers and accelerate the process if He sees that you truly value His Blessings.

So if God blesses you with inner vision or with the capacity to know the future, then you have to utilise it properly. There are people who have the vision, but who are not wise enough to use it carefully. When they predict disastrous future events, they create useless and destructive fear in people, instead of inspiring them to pray for protection or illumination.

Question: You have been able to predict many events, such as Carl Lewis’ victory at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. How do you obtain these premonitions or visions of the future? Do you search for them? Do you always feel the need to communicate your findings?

Sri Chinmoy: Before the finals for the 200 metres of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, I met with Carl Lewis and we meditated together for about 15 minutes. At that time I predicted not only Carl Lewis’ victory but also the second, third and fourth place finishers as well. Our conversation, including my prediction, was videotaped. I do not search for these revelations; I merely open myself to them. I was able to make this particular prediction because I heard an inner voice. Also, I clearly saw with my third eye what was going to happen in the race.

Similarly, I predicted what was going to happen with East and West Germany when I was standing in front of the Berlin Wall four years ago. I said that within several years East Germany and West Germany would be united. To my greatest joy, my prophesy has come true. But although I am frequently blessed with the vision to see what is going to happen in the near or distant future, I usually do not communicate this knowledge, since it is not generally helpful for people to know what the future holds in store.

I do not give much importance to predictions. I give all importance to God’s Grace. It is God’s Grace that helps humanity most, by giving us inspiration and encouragement, and by intensifying our aspiration and dedication. But if I want to know the future, my Beloved Supreme, out of His infinite Bounty, has given me the capacity to see it. On the eve of each New Year, for example, I offer an inspirational message about the coming year, and this message bears fruit in the course of the year.

Question: Are there spiritual methods for communicating with those who have passed away?

Sri Chinmoy: There are many spiritual methods to communicate with the souls of those who have passed away. The easiest and most effective way is to invoke the soul on the strength of your concentration-power. If you have acquired a free access to the soul’s realm, then you can either go to the soul you want or bring the soul to you, regardless of whether the soul is in the body or in the soul’s world.

Some people find it more difficult to communicate with souls that are in the soul’s world, while others find it more difficult to communicate with souls that are in a physical body. Spiritual Masters of the highest calibre find it quite easy to communicate with both the souls in Heaven and the souls on earth.

Question: Is there life after death? Will there be a judgement of what has been done in this life? Will there be punishment, reward or a sentence? If so, will it be eternal?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, there is life after death. Death is not and can never be the end. To me, life and death are like two rooms. During the day I work in the living room, and at night I take rest in the bedroom. Life is my living room; death is my resting room. Both I equally need in order to love, serve and please God.

Right now, death is something unknown, and most people are afraid of the unknown. But we have to realise that death is an important part of God’s Cosmic Game and a natural step in our evolution. An individual works very hard and makes considerable progress during his lifetime, let us say. But after playing the life-game for a certain number of years, he usually becomes tired. One cannot continue playing any game or sport without rest. We need rest so that we can start playing again with renewed energy and enthusiasm. So death is a well-deserved rest for the divine warrior who has been fighting hard on earth for the Lord Supreme.

At the end of the earthly sojourn, the individual soul passes on to the other world and offers to the Absolute Lord Supreme the quintessence of the experience that it had on earth. The Absolute Supreme, from His transcendental Height, evaluates the soul. But there is no hard and fast rule about punishment, reward or sentence. Whatever God does with the individual soul — although it may seem like a punishment or reward — is done from His transcendental Vision-Light for the progress of the soul. But even the worst possible human being will never be condemned to eternal punishment or torture.

The reason God created human beings was not to punish them but to love them and give them opportunities to transform themselves steadily and unerringly into divine beings.

Question: Do you believe in reincarnation? Who were you before and who will you be in your next life? Can a spiritual man decipher the mysteries of life?

Sri Chinmoy: I do believe in reincarnation. In one lifetime it is impossible to reach the Highest and manifest the Highest. In each successive incarnation we try to make more progress. We are like a plant that is growing up high, higher, highest. One day we will be a huge tree with countless leaves, most fragrant flowers and delicious fruits. But this cannot happen overnight.

God has created us. The very purpose of creation is the manifestation and fulfilment of God’s Vision here on earth in and through each individual soul. God will never allow any person to remain unfulfilled. But in one lifetime we cannot accomplish everything. Even on the earthly, material plane we cannot fulfil all our desires. At the age of seventy we may see that some of our desires from our early childhood have not yet been fulfilled. Similarly, on the spiritual plane, we cannot fulfil all our aspirations in the short span of one life. We must come back again and again to make inner progress and eventually transform God’s transcendental Dream into fruitful Reality.

In my immediate past incarnation I was a spiritual Master in India with just a handful of extremely soulful and devoted disciples. In that incarnation, I lived in circumstances of extreme simplicity, perhaps I should even say austerity. Although I offered my inner goodwill to the world, my role in that lifetime was not to work in the world but to concentrate on my own spiritual progress and that of a few excellent disciples. Both God’s Justice and Compassion are needed for the transformation of earth’s consciousness. In my immediate past incarnation, God used His Justice-Light for me, in me and through me more than He used His Compassion-Height. In this incarnation it is absolutely the reverse. Right now it is God’s Compassion that is playing a greater role in inspiring, uplifting, illumining and fulfilling countless God-seekers through me.

With regard to future lives, my Beloved Supreme, out of His infinite Bounty, has repeatedly told me that this incarnation of mine marks the unmistakable end of my earth-pilgrimage. In the future I will continue to love, serve and please my Lord Supreme in His own Way from the inner and higher worlds.

A spiritual man cannot necessarily decipher the mysteries of life. Only the highest spiritual giants can and do decipher the mysteries of life. Then it is the bounden duty of these spiritual giants to share their wisdom and light with the spiritually hungry and thirsty humanity.

Question: You have devoted yourself to sports and the arts and have achieved exceptional results. What is the basis of your success? You have said that it is natural, that it is sufficient to “open yourself to the Source of divine inspiration.” What does this mean? You have also stated that, “Men themselves set their limits, but they also decide when to surpass those limits.” Is man omnipotent? You lifted 7,000 pounds, a virtual miracle. If you wanted to, could you surpass other world-class performances?

Sri Chinmoy: Whatever I have succeeded in doing, the basis of my success lies in my self-offering to the Will of God. But in all sincerity I must say that my self-offering has God’s infinite and unconditional Compassion as its Source.

Whoever wants to create something in any field — whether it be literature, art, music or anything else — needs an access to the source of inspiration. If one wants to create something divine and illumining, then naturally he has to devotedly and soulfully establish a free access to the divine Source that embodies inspiration in infinite measure.

The desiring mind in man sets limits for everything — whether it is something that he already has or something that he wants to possess. But the aspiring heart in man deals with the infinite — with things that are already infinite or things that eventually will be infinite. When someone lives primarily in the mind or in the desire-world, he is enchained by the limitations of his mind. When the same person enters into the aspiration-world, that means he wants to liberate himself, and he can liberate himself from the world of limitations.

Is man omnipotent? No, man is not omnipotent. But God’s unconditional Grace operating in and through man can do things that are absolutely unimaginable. Needless to say, man as such is not the doer of these unimaginable deeds. The omnipotent God is using man as an instrument. His own Omnipotence He can manifest through man’s pure and humble receptivity.

In my case, I have lifted over 7,000 pounds with both my left and right arms. To my mind it was, it is and it will forever remain unbelievable. When I am in the mind, I am the first person to disbelieve it. But when I am in my heart, on the strength of my soulful surrender to my Inner Pilot Supreme, I know that this achievement — which is nothing other than the result of God’s infinite Grace — is absolutely real. As a human being, with my own capacity I cannot surpass any world-class performances. But if God, out of His infinite Bounty, wants to perform something extraordinary in and through me, He can do so.

Question: Does each individual have a predisposition for using divine inspiration to achieve greatness in one specific athletic event?

Sri Chinmoy: An individual athlete can easily shine in more than one athletic event. Right now Carl Lewis is the supreme athlete in the 100 metres and the long jump. His idol-predecessor, Jesse Owens, was exceptional in the 100 metres, long jump and low hurdles. Again, decathlon champions like Bruce Jenner and Daley Thompson have excelled in ten different items. If an athlete has abundant receptivity, then he can receive divine inspiration and capacity from above to offer seemingly miraculous results not only in various athletic fields but also in other fields as well.

Question: You have written hundreds of books and thousands of songs, and have painted tens of thousands of paintings. When you are at work, do you function ‘automatically'? Are you like a medium, working in an unconscious and passive state, or are you fully conscious of your actions? When you are at work, do you consider yourself more of an artist or more of a medium?

Sri Chinmoy: If I take the credit for all the things that have been done in and through me by God’s infinite Grace, that will be the height of insincerity. I am not the doer; I try only to be a soulful and unconditional instrument of God so that He can manifest Himself in and through me in His own Way.

In my case, I do everything consciously and dynamically, in a spirit of sleepless self-offering. I do not do things automatically, but I try to do creative things ‘spontaneously’. The way you are using the word ‘medium’ cannot be applied to me, for I am always quite conscious of what is being done in and through me by the divine Force of my Lord Beloved Supreme.

When I am at work, I do not consider myself to be either an artist or a medium. I regard myself as God’s Compassion-Light-receiver and God’s Compassion-Light-distributor.

Part II — The spiritual life

The spiritual life

God is infinite, and there are infinite ways to realise Him. Similarly, there are many ways to meditate, not one single way. Each individual has to discover his own way of meditation for the fastest spiritual growth.

Question: In your writings you say that there are different levels of consciousness: the inanimate one of stones, the plant world, the animal kingdom and the human state of existence. They are all progressing towards the divine state. Spiritual seekers try to climb up the progress-tree with spiritual methods such as meditation, but sometimes they fail. What happens to them? What do you advise for those who have difficulty meditating and cannot set aside fifteen minutes per day for their spiritual disciplines?

Sri Chinmoy: People who fail while trying to climb up the progress-tree will not always continue to fail. They will definitely succeed one day, for no soul will remain unrealised and imperfect forever. People who right now cannot meditate and discipline themselves should continue to try, continue to aspire, and one day their efforts will be crowned with success.

Making spiritual progress is like developing a muscle. Slowly and steadily, through regular practice, we develop stronger muscles. That is also the way we develop our inner muscles, which are inspiration, aspiration and dedication.

If I cannot meditate for fifteen minutes, I shall try to meditate for ten minutes. If I cannot meditate for ten minutes, I shall try to meditate for five minutes or three minutes. But I have to start. Then gradually I will increase my inner strength.

It is the same thing with leading a spiritual and disciplined life. To start with, someone can count how many good things he has done and how many bad things he has done in one particular day. Then each day he will try to decrease his bad actions and increase his good actions. Similarly, he must also try each day to be more disciplined in his actions. In this way slowly and steadily he will change his life.

What is most important is to try to develop a genuine hunger for God’s Love, God’s Compassion and God’s Blessings. There are two ways to increase one’s inner hunger. One way is to cry to God like a helpless child crying for his mother. The other way is to offer up one’s actions to God while keeping a cheerful attitude. With both these ways the seeker can make real inner progress.

Question: You are a vegetarian. Is being a vegetarian essential in the spiritual life?

At the age of twelve I became a strict vegetarian. Being a vegetarian is not part of the tradition that I follow, and it is not essential for the spiritual life. However, I do feel that it can be of considerable help to us.

If we eat meat and fish, then the restless and aggressive qualities of the animal kingdom will enter into us. If our minds or other parts of our being are restless and aggressive, then we cannot have powerful and peaceful meditations. But if we eat only vegetables, then the mild qualities of the vegetable kingdom will enter into us and we will find it easier to have high and deep meditations. Therefore, being a vegetarian can be of considerable benefit to a seeker.

But I cannot say that if someone is not a strict vegetarian, he will not have high experiences or that God-realisation will always remain a far cry. No, it is not true. In the past there were great spiritual figures who ate meat and fish; even now there are spiritual figures who do so, and their lofty experiences and sublime realisations cannot be questioned. But I feel that it is good for people to adopt in their lives anything that can help them make fast, faster, fastest progress.

A vegetarian diet is of benefit to a sincere God-seeker, but it is not essential.

Question: Why does man use archaic sounds in his prayer, such as Aum, Amen, Halleluiah, etc.?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us think of God the Silence and God the Sound. Needlesss to say, God’s Silence aspect is more difficult to comprehend than God’s Sound aspect. It is easier to enter into silence from sound. So when we use words such as Aum, Amen, or Halleluiah, through sound we are approaching silence.

We come from outside the church, where many people may be moving around and talking, to the altar inside, where it is all calm and quiet. God the Sound is like the outside of the church and God the Silence is like the altar. It is easier to stand and look at the outside of a church than to go inside and approach the altar. Again, we cannot imagine an altar without a church, and to have a church without an altar is useless. They complement each other and form a unit.

Although Aum is a Sanskrit word, it is not an archaic sound. Aum embodies the tremendous power of our Hindu trinity: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva — God the Creator, God the Preserver and God the Transformer. So Aum is the sound-expression of the Hindu trinity.

About the words which are used in other religions, I do not know what they represent to those who use them, so I am not the right person to answer this question.