SCA 413-419. Questions asked by Sri Chinmoy’s disciples at Aspiration-Ground on 22 June 1996.
Question: A particular person’s outer needs may be satisfied by our path. For example, he has a place to stay, he has food, his friends are all here, and the more spiritual he appears to be, the more people like him. He stays for outer reasons, but inwardly he may not feel the highest aspiration for the Supreme. Is it better for that kind of person to remain with insincere aspiration in the hope that it may one day become sincere aspiration, or is it better for him to move on to something else?
Sri Chinmoy: Let us say that someone started his spiritual life with utmost sincerity, but then his sincerity started disappearing. If he sees that for five or six years he has not been able to regain his sincerity, then he has to find his own boat. That is to say, he has to go back to the ordinary life because he is not an asset to the spiritual life. Here he is only enjoying a life of comfort. His spiritual discipline is next to nothing although, as you say, he makes others feel he is very devoted. But if he genuinely wants to develop his sincerity, then something from within will pinch him and make him feel that he is not sincere.
If, after five or six years, an individual cannot get back his burning sincerity, then it is useless for him to remain on the path with the hope that one day sincerity will come out of the blue. Some people think that one day everything will come back, even though they have lost their sincerity, they have lost their purity, they have lost their security, they have lost their confidence.
Everybody starts with sincerity. Everybody who accepts the spiritual life wants to conquer insecurity, jealousy and other imperfections. But after four or five years of descent, those very weaknesses some disciples take as strengths. The weaknesses start to take the form of demands: “I am insecure; therefore the Master has to be more compassionate to me. I am jealous; therefore the Master has to be more compassionate to me. He has to know that I am weak. I am impure; therefore the Master has to be more compassionate to me. He sees that I am struggling for purity.”
In the beginning, that demand did not come into the disciple’s mind. If he was insincere, he was trying desperately to be sincere. If he was impure, he was trying to be pure. If he was insecure, he was trying to be secure. All these divine qualities he was aspiring to get by the proper method: by praying and meditating. After five or six years, those weaknesses take a different form. The disciples make demands of the Master: “I am weak. I have been with you for so many years! What have you been doing? Why are you not making me perfect?” Previously they were desperately trying to become perfect disciples. Then, after a few years, their theory changed. Now they say, “Since I gave you my life for several years, it is your bounden duty, O Master, to make me perfect.”
If those disciples who have descended considerably over the years feel there is no hope for them to climb up the stairs again, then it is a waste of their time to remain on the path. Our philosophy is the philosophy of transcendence and progress. If after five or six years they cannot regain the sincerity or purity or other divine qualities they had to start with, if they cannot come back to the proper starting point, how will they again have the determination to run fast, faster, fastest? I feel that the Indian bullock-cart speed is no speed at all. For these people, the destination will remain unreachable because the goal is far, very, very far.
Later on, the same people who are going at bullock-cart speed will hate the spiritual life and hate their Master. They will say, “What have you done? I gave 30 years of my life, 40 years of my life to spirituality. You have not made me secure, you have not made me confident, you have not increased my love, you have not increased my devotion, you have not increased my surrender. What have you done?” Then they will start blaming the spiritual life, blaming the Master, blaming everybody. By blaming the spiritual Master, by blaming the spiritual life or the path, no purpose is served.
If people cannot go back to their original starting point, where they know how much aspiration they had, how much love they had for the path, how much devotion and how much surrender, if they have descended, descended and descended and after five or six years there is no hope for them to go back to their original height, if they now find it difficult to go higher and deeper and farther towards the destination, it is no use for them to remain on the path. There are many, many like that. There are many who stay with us just because they have a comfortable life.
Again, I must say that there are some people who are extremely disciplined. There are some who are maintaining their sincerity and throwing their heart and soul into divine activities. Some people, I must say, have made tremendous progress over the years; otherwise this boat would by now have capsized. Especially in this year, the year of surprises, disciples here, there and elsewhere have made tremendous progress. Outwardly, this progress cannot be measured. Who has conquered jealousy, who has conquered insincerity, who has conquered other imperfections — only the Master can judge. The disciples cannot judge anybody, because the disciples are not in a position to enter into the hearts of those who have made tremendous, tremendous progress. Again, there are people who have given me shocking experiences over the years with their descent. To say they have descended considerably is an understatement.
If I have properly understood your question, you are asking: if people are fooling themselves, if they have no sincere aspiration, should they continue on the path with the hope that one day they will get back their aspiration? Previously I used to say, “Even if you are snoring in the boat, no harm. You can sleep.” But now I see that some people who have been sleeping and snoring all of a sudden get up and become startled. They say, “Where are we?” Then they feel that the water is the safest place, so they jump out of the boat into the water.
Again, the only consolation is that there are people who have made tremendous, tremendous progress inwardly and outwardly, especially this year, the year of surprises. There are also those who have descended for good. Now, what can be done? I feel sorry for them because they are wasting their life, especially the young generation. If they do not get back their aspiration after they lose it, then when they become 40 or 50 years old, they will blame me. They will say, “Why didn’t you help us to make progress? Why didn’t you help us to conquer these difficulties?” I can only say that I tried my very, very best, but they did not have the necessary receptivity.