1. Question: Is God the only Reality?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, God is the only Reality. He is the only Reality here on earth and there in Heaven. But Reality has its children, which we call realities. In the field of manifestation, Reality becomes realities. But each individual reality embodies the absolute Reality. Reality is the root and seed, and realities are the millions of branches, leaves, flowers and fruits of the Reality-Tree. To our limited understanding the one Reality becomes infinite realities in infinite forms. But when it is a matter of the only Reality, God is the only Reality, the Reality-Seed, the Reality-Tree, the Reality-Branches and the Reality-Leaves. God is eternally the only Reality. We ourselves become the only Reality only when we realise God and serve Him in His own Way.

2. Question: What is the best way to harmonise the inner and the outer worlds?

Sri Chinmoy: The best way to harmonise the inner world and the outer world is to become the message of self-giving. When we are in the outer life if we give ourselves to the inner life, and when we are in the inner life if we give ourselves to the outer life, then we harmonise both the inner and outer world. What do we mean by giving ourselves when we are in the outer life? When we are in the outer life we have to feel that the satisfaction that we have is due to the inner cry of the inner life. When we have that kind of feeling, we automatically give ourselves to the inner life. We become the real satisfaction and give full credit to the inner life. And when we are in the inner life if we want to give ourselves, we have to feel that only having an inner cry is not enough. We have to bring the inner cry to the outer life and transform the outer life into constant joy and delight. If we do that, then we can feel that we are giving ourselves to the outer life. The inner life is perfect only when we see a smile in the outer life; the outer life is perfect only when we see that the outer life can do nothing without the conscious and constant self-giving of the inner life.

3. Question: Can human weakness ever be divine?

Sri Chinmoy: Human weakness can never be divine. If we are speaking about an ordinary human being, then his weakness will be really human; so how can it be divine? But if we see a similar quality in a divine person, we feel that it is like our own human weakness. But we have to know at that time that what appears to be human weakness is just a mask. When somebody is dying, at that time if he says, "O God, why have You forsaken me?" naturally it is human weakness we are observing in him. But when the Christ said, "Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?" it was not actually human weakness in him that spoke. It was his identification with human ignorance. When he identified himself with human ignorance he said, "Why hast Thou forsaken me?" But when he identified himself with the Divine, the same person said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

If the Christ had not identified himself with the human but had all the time remained with the Divine — which he had and which he was — then nobody would ever try to imitate him or become like him. People would say, "Oh, you are divine, you are great, you are supreme. You always remain in the highest height, so how are we going to become like you?" If he becomes one with us in our understanding, if he also accepts the suffering that we go through on the same level, if he says the same things which we ourselves say, people may say this is his human weakness, but the Supreme will know that just because he is doing this, humanity will have the hope and assurance that one day it will also be able to grow into Divinity. For human beings will see in him someone who one moment is as helpless as they are, but who the next moment can become complete, whole, perfect, divine, supreme in everything. To take the weakness of a divine person as a human weakness will be a mistake. We have to see what he is doing and why he is doing it: is it because he is ignorant or is it because he feels that this is the only way he can take human beings to the divine Goal?

A divine person will act like a mother teaching a child. The child is crawling and wants to stand up. What does the mother do? Sometimes the mother pretends that she also cannot get up. The mother intentionally falls down and the child is very happy that the mother is also falling. Then when the mother stands up once or twice, the child gets up too. If the mother always remains standing and the child sees that the mother never falls, it is very difficult for her to teach the child. But when the mother also falls, the child sees that it is a real game; then when she gets up, the child gets a little hope and inspiration that he will ultimately be able to get up.

The Christ was hiding the Divine inside the human. He was saying that the human need not and cannot remain always human; it can and must become the Divine. But the weaknesses of an ordinary human being who has countless emotional problems, vital problems and all kinds of undivine problems, are undoubtedly totally human and not divine. But these weaknesses can be transformed eventually. Today's anger can be transformed into divine virility, divine strength. Today's weakness can easily be transformed into tomorrow's divine strength and capacity. But until it is transformed, while it is still in the ordinary, unaspiring human being who is on his way to becoming perfect, we have to say human weakness is human weakness. We cannot compare ourselves with the Christ or the other world-saviours, because we do not know what we have within, whereas they did know. They were only putting on a mask so that humanity would not see a yawning gulf between their height and its own.

4. Question: What is the difference between sharing and gossip?

Sri Chinmoy: Gossip only pleases the vital in us. It only satisfies the undivine in us, the destructive forces in us. Once it destroys the world around us — and unfortunately we are not aware of the fact until it happens — then it destroys us. It destroys our inner good qualities. Gossip will never illumine others. On the contrary, it tries to eclipse others' hearts and eclipses our own aspiring heart.

In sharing there is an expansion of one's consciousness in a divine way. If we share something with someone, it is not with a sense of pride, not with a feeling that "I heard it first." When we share we feel an extension of our knowledge. When we have any news — whether it is bad news or good news, sad news or divine news — when we share it with others, immediately we feel a sense of expansion. If it is sad news, we will share it with others to strengthen ourselves. If we hear sad news, we feel that we are being forewarned and forearmed. If it is good news that we share, we feel that we are achieving it ourselves. This is the foundation-stone, and here we shall build a tall edifice.

But gossip is not an expansion of one's consciousness. It is an offering, unconscious or conscious, of a message of destruction. If I offer gossip, it means that I am telling you something bad about a person. I am offering destructive news to you so that you can also use this weapon and destroy the person about whom we are speaking. No matter how important or unimportant it is, in back of gossip there is always destruction. You can't kill a person when he is standing right in front of you. But when you gossip, rest assured that in the inner world you are killing him. If you hear gossip or spread gossip about someone, you are stabbing him in the inner world. And because you are not satisfied with what harm you have done you are asking somebody else to stab him also, so that he will be totally destroyed. You have destroyed someone, but you are not satisfied; so you tell your friend, "Destroy him more, so that he does not stay on earth." This is gossip.

Sharing does not have any bad motive. You have heard something and you are sharing it with all innocence. But when you indulge in gossip, you have to feel that you are only stabbing a person in the inner world. And you are stabbing not only the person whom you are gossiping about, but also the divinity within him, the divinity which is the real message of inseparable oneness. The moment you indulge in gossip you are breaking the ribbon of universal oneness. In the outer world you will try to do it in such a way that others will not recognise it. But even though others may not recognise it or catch you as the culprit, in the inner world you are already caught. There you can't escape. Gossip is a deplorable tendency in human nature that we cherish.

5. Question: How can human nature be transformed?

Sri Chinmoy: There are many ways to transform human nature. But two main ways I would like to mention. One way is to bring down into the system the divine, all-illumining Light of the Supreme, enlarging one's receptivity-vessel. This is the most important way. Before human nature is transformed, it is full of darkness. Darkness can be removed only by bringing in light, and not by anything else. We have to bring down light from above consciously and constantly and then expand our receptivity. The more we expand our receptivity, the more we can hold light inside ourselves.

Another way is to see the divine light in each human being and not to see anything else. Just because we see something undivine in ourselves and in others it has become impossible for us to transform either our own nature or human nature in general. But no matter what they do, what they say or what they are, if we consciously and constantly see only the divine light in others — the light we are bringing down from above — then automatically human nature has to be transformed. If we see light in each individual and in our own nature, then it is not only possible but also inevitable to transform human nature and earth's nature. While bringing down light and enlarging our receptivity and while seeing light inside others, we transform human nature and our own nature.

6. Question: Is insomnia a blessing or a curse?

Sri Chinmoy: For an ordinary person insomnia is really a curse. He needs sleep. Insomnia will tell upon his health and he won't be able to function properly in the world-scene. But for a spiritual seeker who has learned the art of meditation, if he does not get much sleep or does not want to sleep because he wants to meditate more at night, this is good. If he can meditate well and, at the same time, if his health is not affected, then if he wants to meditate three or four hours a night, it is wonderful.

Some people are very sincere and they want to meditate for hours and hours. During the day they have the capacity to meditate for four or five hours, and at night also they want to meditate. They try their best, but after a while they fall asleep. But if nature does not give them sleep and if this does not in any way disturb their health, it is a real blessing. Then they don't have to fight against sleep during their meditation; they don't have to think of conquering sleep. In their case, sleep is kind to them if it does not visit them.

In India there is a special god named Shani. You call him Saturn. He is the god of renunciation. Ordinary people are afraid of him and pray to him to bless them by staying away from them. Other gods people invoke to come and bless them, but to Shani they say, "Please grant us the blessing of not coming to us. If you ignore us, that is the best blessing." Similarly, the seeker will consider it a real blessing if sleep does not come to him. The few hours that he can meditate at night will add to his meditation during the day. And the more he can meditate soulfully and devotedly without his body being adversely affected, the better it is. But for the non-seeker who is not meant for spiritual life right now, if he does not get enough sleep, it is a curse. Something will go wrong in his physical body, or something may already be amiss.

7. Question: How can I maintain my joy permanently?

Sri Chinmoy: You can maintain your joy permanently when you feel that the joy you are having is not yours. It does not come because you have done something for yourself or for God or for humanity. No! You have to feel that it is an unconditional gift from the Supreme. Then you have to feel that the joy you are experiencing is nothing other than the Supreme Himself. The Supreme has come to you in the form of Joy; so because the Supreme is permanent and eternal within you, your joy is also permanent.

First try to feel that the Supreme has given this joy to you not because of what you have done but because He loves you. It is not a result of your action but something that the Supreme Himself wants to give you. Then when you are experiencing this joy, you have to feel it is not joy as such but the Supreme Himself that you are enjoying. It is not that He has sent you joy and He is somewhere else. No, He Himself has come to you in the form of Joy. If you have this kind of inner awareness, you will be able to maintain your joy permanently, for He who has come to you as Joy is permanent and infinite. If you can see and feel Him as infinite Joy, then your joy will remain permanent.

8. Question: Are God's Blessings unconditional?

Sri Chinmoy: God's Blessings are always unconditional. He gives us Peace, Light, Bliss and Power according to the capacity of our receptivity. He gives us always in an unconditional way. But if we offer Him our gratitude, then His gifts increase. He will give us one dollar unconditionally, but if we offer Him gratitude, then He will give us ten dollars. It is not that He wants something from us; but if we accept His gifts wholeheartedly and devotedly, then He is pleased and He gives us more. When He gives us a little bit of Peace we do not have to give Him something in return. No, He is giving just because He feels like giving. It is not even because we have cried for the thing. But if we accept His gift with joy, with love, with gratitude, then His satisfaction in us increases. If we take it with joy and gratitude, then He gives us much more because He feels that in us His gift will grow and grow. In us His Capacity will grow, His Light will grow, His Divinity will grow and grow, whereas in somebody else they will be suffocated.

But even if we do not accept His Blessings with gratitude, even if we take them ungratefully and don't pay any attention to them, still He will continue giving to us in the same unconditional way. Even then He offers Himself, because He feels that if He does not give to ungrateful people, then their very life will be totally destroyed. So out of His infinite Bounty He gives to everyone, and according to their receptivity, everybody receives. But while receiving, if one offers gratitude, love and joy, naturally his receptivity will increase. God feels that there is a passage, a door, that is wide open in him. God can come in at any moment and remain inside the room, and there He can grow most easily because the gratitude of the seeker nourishes and cherishes God's Blessing-Seeds.

9. Question: What gives God the most joy?

Sri Chinmoy: God gets the most joy when a seeker claims Him as his very own on the strength of his full awareness of what God is to him. When a seeker feels that God is his most illumined and perfect part and that he is part and parcel of God, then God gets most joy. When he feels that his undivine or unlit part will be transformed totally and that it is only a matter of time before he himself will grow into his highest, most illumined part, which is God, at that time God gets the most joy. Even a seeker's undivine part is God, for God is everything. But a seeker wants to grow into his divine part in order to become God.

Let us take his head as the absolute perfect God and his feet as the imperfect God. So he wants to transform his ignorance-feet into the wisdom-light that is his head. He does not want to remain at the foot of the perfection-tree; he wants to climb up to the very top. If one takes God as his own highest and most illumined part, if one feels that right now he is part and parcel of the highest Reality but that he has still to become conscious of it, grow into it and then manifest his ultimate Height — if one feels this — then God gets the most joy.

10. Question: What is man's greatest treasure?

Sri Chinmoy: An ordinary man's greatest treasure is world-recognition and world-possession. A spiritual man's greatest treasure is his conscious, constant, cheerful and unconditional surrender to the Will of the Supreme. Also, we can say that, before he realises God, his heart's ascending cry is his greatest treasure; after he has realised God, his soul's descending smile is his greatest treasure.

11. Question: Should we expect reward for selfless service?

Sri Chinmoy: The question itself is self-contradictory. When we use the term 'selfless service', we cannot and we must not expect anything. If it is devoted service, we can expect some reward; but when it becomes selfless, then we cannot expect any reward. When we are able to do real selfless service with no desire or expectation of reward, the result we shall get will be far beyond all our expectations. Also, during the performance of real selfless service, we get abundant joy. We don't have to wait for any result or aftereffect. Selfless service itself is the greatest joy and highest reward.

12. Question: How can self-deception be avoided?

Sri Chinmoy: First we have to know what we have achieved from self-deception. We have achieved nothing. On the contrary, what we have done is only to create conscious destruction inside us. Each time we deceive ourselves, our ordinary life may feel that since it is only we ourselves who are involved, nobody cares what we do. Even if we deceive ourselves, there is nobody to watch it. But God cares and God is watching; the Divine in us, the real in us, is caring and watching. When the real within us observes our self-deception, it loses its own strength. The more we deceive ourselves, the more we weaken ourselves.

Once we know how much we actually lose by self-deception, we readily try to avoid it. The best way to avoid self-deception is to accept consciously and constantly the light that is more than willing to enter into all our activities and into each second of our existence. If we accept light, if we sincerely cry to have light in all our actions at each moment of our existence, then there cannot be any trace of self-deception in us.

13. Question: Is God economical or extravagant?

Sri Chinmoy: God is neither economical nor extravagant. He is what His Compassion-Light or Wisdom-Light wants Him to be. He uses His Compassion-Light for those who are still sleeping spiritually and He uses His Wisdom-Light for those who are fully or partially awakened. But God's Compassion is not extravagant and His Wisdom is not economical. These are just two mighty weapons that He uses. By using these two formidable weapons, God inspires and energises both the non-seeker and the seeker to do the right thing. The non-seeker He inspires to come out of sleep, and once the person is awakened and has become a seeker, He inspires him to run the fastest towards his Goal.

14. Question: How can one go alone and yet experience oneness?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, we have to know the difference between being lonely and being alone. Loneliness we can feel even when we are amidst hundreds of so-called friends or even when we are among real friends. If we do not feel the presence of God inside our heart, then we are bound to feel loneliness no matter how many friends or how many hundreds and thousands of people are around us.

To go alone does not mean to have indifference or aloofness. To go alone means that the hour has struck for us. Now we have to run toward our Goal without waiting for our dear ones, whose hour has not struck. If somebody's hour strikes one minute before yours or one minute after yours, it is not your responsibility. When your hour strikes you go, and if it so happens that at the same time somebody else's hour strikes, then you can go together. But if someone starts before you or after you, that does not mean that you will not be able to establish your oneness with him. You can easily feel your oneness with the ones who are ahead or behind and you can maintain your oneness while going alone. You are alone because nobody is right alongside you. But someone is behind and someone is ahead, and you can easily experience the feeling of oneness as long as they are walking along the same road and towards the same destination.