Part 1

SCA 403-410. On 7 August 1995 Sri Chinmoy met with Dr. Elena Vladimirskaya, Deputy Director of the Research Institute of Pediatric Hematology in Moscow, and her husband, a retired military officer, at Annam Brahma Restaurant in Jamaica, New York. During the course of the meeting, Dr. Vladimirskaya and her husband asked Sri Chinmoy a few spiritual questions. Their questions and his answers as well as other remarks are reproduced here.

Question: Does time only go from past to future?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two kinds of time: one is earth-bound time and the other is Heaven-free time or, you can say, universal time. Earth-bound time goes from one to two to three to four to five. But universal time is like a big circle that at every moment is expanding and expanding. It is like God’s entire universe — eternal and infinite. Earth-bound time is like a few drops of water; easily you can count them. But Heaven-free time is like the vast ocean. When you think of the vast ocean, it is absolutely meaningless to try to count the drops.

Question: Where did human beings come from? Did they come from Adam and Eve, or from the monkeys?

Sri Chinmoy: I believe in evolution. We started from the mineral world and then evolved to the plant world, the animal world and the human world. And still our journey is not over. One day we shall become divine beings. But even when we were in the mineral world, we were not composed entirely of matter. Inside matter there is also spirit. Through our prayers and meditations we can bring forth spirit from matter and transform matter into spirit.

Question: What is your view of religion? Why are so many religions not friendly with each other?

Sri Chinmoy: The essence of every religion is love of God. There is not a single religion that does not tell us to love God. The problem comes with the followers of religion. Very often they say, “My religion is by far the best, whereas your religion is very bad.” The followers of the different religions are like children in a family. The children have the same parents and receive the same affection, love and compassion from their parents. But still the children quarrel and fight. If one sister sees that another sister is more beautiful, then immediately she becomes jealous and quarrels with the other one. If one brother sees that another brother is more powerful, immediately the weak one speaks ill of the strong one. Again, in a family, many times one brother will say, “I know better than anybody!” and the other brother will say, “No, I know better than you!” Similarly, each religion will tell its brother and sister religions, “I know more about the Heavenly Father than you do.” Or they will say, “My way of loving God is the only correct way, and your way is wrong.” So, quite often it happens that there is quarrelling and fighting among the various religions.

But one thing all religions agree on is love of God. And if we really love someone, we feel our oneness with that person. So if we really love God and feel our oneness with God, we will also feel our oneness with God’s creation. In the inmost depths of our heart we know that we are all one, but then pride enters into us and we tell others, “I do not need you.” But we do need one another. We are all part and parcel of the same existence-reality. A tree consists of the trunk, branches, leaves, flowers and fruits. If the trunk says that it does not need the branches or leaves, then what kind of tree will it be? And if the flowers say that they do not need the branches and trunk, then how will they live? So unity has to be established.

When we enter into a garden, immediately we become aware of the beauty, purity and fragrance of the garden. Each flower has its own beauty, but the beauty we feel in the garden is the beauty of multiplicity. And this is the beauty that gives us immense joy. Similarly, God gets immense joy from the multiplicity of the flower-hearts of all His children.

Question: Will people one day understand the necessity of oneness?

Sri Chinmoy: No, it will not be a matter of understanding; it will be a matter of feeling, through the heart. If we want to understand something, we have to use the mind. Understanding is always in the mind. But human beings will never establish oneness with one another by using the mind. At every moment the mind is changing its opinion. This moment a good thought enters into my mind and I see you as a very good person. The next moment a bad thought enters into my mind and I say you are a very bad person. When I use the mind, my view of you is a reflection of the kind of thoughts that I am having. Another thing about the mind is that it always separates and divides. The mind will say, “I am good, but you are not good.”

The heart only feels its oneness with others. It says, “If I am good, then you are also good.” The heart is like a mother. A mother always feels that her child is good. She is all the time pouring her motherly love, affection and compassion into her child. A mother is not using her mind to determine how beautiful her child is. No! As soon as she looks at her child, she sees him as all beauty.

If the child becomes like a cyclone and starts screaming and breaking everything in the house, her mind may say, “God, why did You give me such an undivine child? Who needs him?” That is because the mind is separating the mother from the child. But then the mother’s heart will come forward and say, “If he is bad, then I am responsible because I brought him into the world.”

Question: Will human beings one day achieve salvation by having this feeling of oneness?

Sri Chinmoy: It will come, it will come. You are using the term ‘salvation’. When we use this term, we feel that there is a saviour who will rescue us. We feel that we have done millions and billions of bad things, that we are unclean people who have committed so many sins, and that it is necessary for somebody to come and give us salvation. But there is another philosophy that uses the term ‘realisation’. This philosophy is based on our feeling of oneness with God, our Heavenly Father.

When a child gets dirty from playing in the mud and clay, his mother just comes and washes him. The child does not feel guilty that he is dirty, for he does not know any better. He is just playing, playing, playing. But the mother knows that the mud and clay are no good, so when the child comes running to her, she immediately cleans him and makes him pure. Similarly, no matter what we do, if we just go running towards our Heavenly Father, He will make us pure again. But if we think that we are very bad, if we feel that we are ugly, filthy animals, then we will not go to Him. So if we claim God as our Mother and Father, God will do everything for us and it becomes God’s Responsibility to make us pure.

When we pray and meditate, we come to realise that something is infinitely higher than salvation, and that is oneness with God. When the Christ said, “I and my Father are one,” that was his realisation speaking. When he said, “O Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?” it was the human in him that was speaking and separating itself from God. But the divine in him could never separate itself from God. The divine in him felt, “Whether I am in Heaven or on earth, God is in me and I am in Him; we are one.” This feeling of oneness is called realisation.

Question: I would like to thank you. Where do you get these answers from?

Sri Chinmoy: Your questions are very significant. These answers do not come from my mind; they are coming directly from my heart and soul. I get these answers because I pray and meditate. You have read many more books than I have read. I have not even completed high school, let alone gone to college or university. But I get these answers by virtue of my prayers and meditations. If we pray and meditate, we get the answers even while others are asking the questions. I do not have to consult any book to answer these questions because the questions have the answers in them.

Sri Chinmoy then asked whether the young patients in Dr. Vladimirskaya’s children’s hospital pray and meditate in the morning.

Sri Chinmoy: Since you are the head of the hospital, you know the absolute necessity of God’s Compassion and God’s Love for these children. In this incarnation they are suffering so much. You are giving them earthly medicine that will cure them and allow them to remain on earth for another fifty or sixty years. But if you can also give them Heavenly medicine — which is prayer, or the repetition of God’s Name — then they will have a better incarnation in their next life. Now with one hand you are giving them medicine. But if you can give them medicine with two hands, then you will help them infinitely more. God is also inside the earthly medicine that you are giving them, but they are not aware of Him there. If you can have them pray or repeat God’s Name in the morning, they will be more aware of God.

Dr. Vladimirskaya: We will try to do it, but it is rather difficult in our country because for many, many years religion was forbidden. Now it isn’t.

Sri Chinmoy: Here in America they believe in God, but in the schools it is forbidden to pray. In the schools they do not allow prayers.

Dr. Vladimirskaya: It is a very difficult situation. We will try to do something. We are also trying to change the situation in our hospital to allow every child to be with his parents. This is very important. Previously it was forbidden, but now the child can be with his mother and father and grandparents.

Sri Chinmoy: Affection is as important as medicine. Inside medicine there may not be affection, but inside affection there is always medicine. The affection that the mother, father, sister and brother give is a great help; it helps the sick child considerably.

Part II

SCA 411-412. Questions asked by Sri Chinmoy’s disciples at Annam Brahma Restaurant in Jamaica, New York on 25 May 1996.

Question: You talk about the inner cry and the outer smile. For some reason, when I get the inner cry, I do not seem to be able to get the outer smile. The inner cry makes me feel sad, and I cannot get the outer joy.

Sri Chinmoy: If it is the real inner cry, if it comes from the heart, then this inner cry will definitely give you joy. The cry that you are presently experiencing is not from the heart; it is from the vital. The vital and the heart are very close to one another. So we sometimes mistake the heart for the vital or the vital for the heart. If the cry comes from the vital, then there will be depression in your outer life. But if the cry comes from the heart, if it is a real cry, then this mounting cry itself is joy. When we intensely cry for God in our meditation or in our prayers, we do not have to wait for the results. At that time the cry itself is joy.

If you say that the cry is inside but outside you are depressed, or you are not getting happiness, that means the cry is not from the heart. It is from the vital. The vital is very tricky. It tries to take the place of the heart. The heart is compassionate. It allows the vital to do this. If a little brother wants to fool others and say that he is as strong as his elder brother, inwardly others may laugh, but they do not make fun of him in public. Similarly, the heart is compassionate when the vital, the little brother, wants to play the role of the heart.

Very often the heart either can be fooled by the vital or it can play the role of the compassionate mother or father. But the mind will never allow the vital to have an inch of the mind’s property. That is to say, if the mind is strong, the mind will not allow the frustration, sadness or despair of the vital to enter into the mind. The depression of the vital and the depression of the mind are totally different. The mind has its own problems, and the mind does not allow the vital to enter into it and add to its problems, or even to take away an iota of joy from the mind. But the heart will ask the vital to steal joy from the heart with the hope that one day this little brother will stop stealing and instead will start aspiring.

Again, if it is a real cry from the heart, a burning cry, the cry itself has joy; it is joy itself. But many times when we feel that our cry is very deep, it is actually the cry of the vital’s suffering. The vital makes us feel that our cry is coming from the inmost recesses of our heart. In this way, the vital’s cry creates problems. Although the intense cry is there, it is not the intense cry of the heart. The cry of the vital will eventually meet with frustration because it is founded upon expectation. But when we have a very intense inner cry or longing for God, we will find that in our longing we are getting so much joy. Even if God does not come and stand in front of us, we do not mind.

I am not discouraging you. Many times you have experienced your heart’s cry. But sometimes the cry is from your vital, and that is why you are getting the feeling of sadness.

Question: Sometimes when we see the situation in the world and mankind’s lack of aspiration, it is difficult to be happy.

Sri Chinmoy: It is difficult to be happy because the world is suffering. But we must remember that we have an inner world of our own. If God wants us to put a few more plants in our heart-garden or to water the garden or sweep it or fertilise it, that is what we have to do. Again, if He asks us to do something in the outer world, to manifest Him, we should work there. No matter what God asks us to do, we will do our very best, but then we have to surrender.

We are trying to change the face and fate of the world, but the world does not want this. We try to give someone wisdom, but that person only misunderstands us and insults us. So we have to listen to only one person, the Inner Pilot. If He asks us to give something to someone, we will give it. In return if we are ridiculed or insulted, if our gift is not accepted, it is not our problem. Our task is to surrender to our Inner Pilot. When we pray and meditate, we have to know the Will of God by listening to the Command from God. We have to know what He wants us to do. Then if we can execute God’s Will according to our capacity with utmost sincerity, that is enough.

We look around and we expect the world to be changed overnight. But the world does not change overnight. Our next-door neighbours, even our dear ones, do not change. We shall try our best. Outwardly we may be misunderstood, but inwardly we can offer good thoughts. If nothing is changing outwardly, what shall we do? If it is God’s Will, we shall continue. If it is not God’s Will, we shall withdraw. We can maintain our happiness only by listening to God’s Will. If God says, “Do it,” we shall do it, and then forget about it. If God says, “Do not do it,” then we shall simply not do it.

Our happiness has to come from our service to God in humanity. When we stand in front of humanity, we must not forget that we are serving humanity precisely because God is inside humanity. If God, who is inside humanity, knows how sincerely we have tried, and if He is pleased with our sincere efforts, then we should be pleased no matter what the results may be.

Our difficulty is that we work so hard, we give talks here and there and we try to make the world better, but we feel that the world is only becoming worse. But God alone knows whether the world is actually getting better or worse. God wants from us only our sincere effort. If we think of the results, if we think that everything is just as bad as it was before, then we shall say, “What is the use of praying to God?” If we do not serve God for God’s sake, if we think we are doing it for our own sake, then we are bound to become miserable. If we serve God for God’s sake, then even if we are not successful, even if we do not have so-called outer success, God will not mind. God only wants to see if we are sincerely listening to His Command. In this way, if we can keep our connection with God very safe and secure, then we will be able to remain happy.

Part III

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.

Question: Sometimes I have a lot of things to do, and I do not know what my priorities are.

Sri Chinmoy: If one is in the spiritual life, the priority is always aspiration, and aspiration itself is dedication. If you are aspiring, you will know what you are supposed to do. Aspiration has inside it the message of dedication. We cannot separate aspiration from dedication, but aspiration has to come first. If we aspire, it is easy to know what we are supposed to do or whom we are supposed to serve. But only by serving, it is difficult to know what to aspire for or how to aspire. Aspiration always comes before dedication. Inside aspiration is dedication. We are able to appreciate the fragrance because there is a flower. If there is no flower, there can be no fragrance. So aspiration definitely will tell you what your priorities should be. Inside aspiration all the answers can be found.

Question: How can we know if we are being justifiably strict with ourselves or unnecessarily self-critical in a negative way?

Sri Chinmoy: If we sincerely aspire, inside our aspiration there will be justice-light. If you have burning aspiration, inside your aspiration there will be light, and according to that light you will judge yourself in a just manner. The light will illumine the confusion of the mind that is too self-critical or the mind that is saying that you can take a little more leisure or pleasure. The intensity of your aspiration is bound to tell you whether you are too self-critical, too lenient or too indulgent. Aspiration has light in it, so the light will show you whether this place is dark, or full of confusion, or full of mental hallucination. Let us say that one side is hallucination, and the other side is confusion. If you bring a flashlight, then if you are criticising yourself and you want to be more strict with yourself, the light will say, “No, it is not necessary.” Again, if you are being too self-indulgent, the light will say, “You have to be more strict.”

There are very few people who are self-critical. Sometimes pride enters into self-critical people. They say, “Oh, I am the only one who wants to be perfect.” Self-critical people think that they are the only ones who are longing for perfect perfection. They feel that only they will attain perfect perfection, and others will not. Of course, that idea may not come to their conscious mind.

By criticising myself, I cannot come to the light. By criticising myself, I only weaken myself, because I am deliberately giving up the positive aspect of life. If I feel that I am not perfect, or I have not come up to a certain point, then let me become perfect. If I feel that today I cannot give myself a hundred out of a hundred, if I can only give myself 60, still I must not criticise myself. I should only say, “Today I have given myself 60. Tomorrow let me see if I can give myself 70.” By criticising myself because I have got a mark of 60 today when I expected to get 80 or 90, I lose my mental poise, and then I ruin my possibilities.

When I throw the basketball, even if I get only 50 baskets out of 100, I do not get mad. I just cut jokes with my ‘best disciple’ and insult him in season and out of season! Today I said, “My best disciple brings me such bad luck! Every second he is with me, it is bad luck. When he throws me the ball, I will not get even 50 baskets out of 100.” But only once I said that. Then my joking was over. Once or twice after that my score was low, but God said to me, “Keep your mouth shut!” Immediately God wanted to make my best disciple happy, so I got 69 out of 100 baskets. But if I had maintained the idea that this poor fellow carries bad luck, I would not have got even 30 out of 100.

Here also, if you have given a low mark to yourself, and you feel that you have been impartial and given a just mark, do not criticise yourself. If you criticise yourself, if you say, “How can I get only 50?” you are only weakening yourself. Instead, you should say, “I have given myself a low mark. Now let me have more determination. Instead of criticising myself, let me take the positive point of view. Let me get a higher mark on the strength of my determination.”

Question: This is a question about God the Justice and God the Compassion. If a person has behaved in such a way over the years that God the Justice is now dealing with that person, instead of feeling shattered or scared or reacting in a negative way to God the Justice, is it possible to feel incredible, intense love for God the Justice? And by virtue of that love, can God the Justice turn into God the Compassion? If the person says, “No matter what You do, I love You, I love You,” then will God the Justice turn into God the Compassion?

Sri Chinmoy: God the Justice does not have to turn into God the Compassion, because that person is so open to God’s Light that he has become inseparably one with God. His love for God is so immense that when God kicks him, he feels that God is feeding him Nectar. He cannot separate God the Justice and God the Compassion at that time, for his love for God is so immense and intense. You may be a third person watching and saying, “O my God! God is punishing him.” But if your heart is inseparably one with God’s Heart, at that time you will see that that person has tremendous love for God.

It is like the famous story about Narada. Narada had been meditating for a few years, and then he asked Vishnu how many years it would take him to realise God. Vishnu said, “Only three more incarnations.” Narada said, “Three more incarnations? It is too much, too much!” He was ready to give up.

Then another fellow who was a drunkard asked Vishnu, “How many incarnations will it take for me to realise God?” Vishnu said, “As many incarnations as there are leaves on this tree.” The drunkard started dancing with joy! He said, “Oh, one day I shall be able to realise God! This is such a tiny tree. It has only very few leaves.” Look at his attitude! He was dancing with joy because he would one day be able to realise God. He did not see those countless leaves. Is it not unimaginable that he had to take so many incarnations? And Narada could not wait for even three incarnations!

Among the gods, the sage Bhrigu wanted to see who was the most compassionate. He went to Brahma and did not show Brahma respect. Brahma got furious. Then he went to Shiva and did not show respect, so Shiva got furious and wanted to turn him into ashes. Finally Brighu went to Vishnu, who was lying down, sleeping. He kicked Vishnu very smartly, and then stood on Vishnu’s feet. Instead of using his occult power to destroy Bhrigu, Vishnu grabbed his foot and said, “How are you, my child? Are you hurt? I am so sorry! You have struck me. Now are you hurt?” This is the Compassion aspect of the divine. When Bhrigu went to the others and showed disrespect, they got furious. But then Bhrigu went into Vishnu’s room, where Vishnu was sleeping. He kicked Vishnu very hard and then stood on his feet! From that time on, Vishnu kept the mark of Bhrigu’s feet.

It should be exactly the same when we feel God’s Justice. We say that God strikes us because we have done something wrong. But we should say, “No, it is for my good that He has struck me.” The moment we can feel that after so many years God has struck us for our own good, the moment we develop that kind of divine sense, we will not even call it God’s Justice. We will say, “O my God, You have come, You have come, You have come! Now do anything You like! Kick me or throw me out; whatever You want to do, just do it! Even if You want to kill me, You can kill me, because Your Happiness I want.” When a seeker becomes inseparably one with God’s Will, he will say, “Do whatever You like! If You want to kill me, kill me. I only want Your Happiness.”

So God’s Justice does not have to turn into God’s Compassion. Even while the seeker is being kicked, he can take it as God’s Compassion-Light. Whatever God is doing at God’s choice Hour with an individual is for the best. That is the best attitude. When a seeker has that attitude, it means that God has raised his consciousness to a very lofty height. He knows that anything God does is for his own good, and he feels that the only way he can please God at every moment is by having this kind of inseparable oneness with God. The seeker has gone far beyond the domain of Justice and Compassion at that time. He is in the domain of delight and ecstasy, for God has touched him. Just because God has taken the time to touch him, he is swimming in the sea of delight.