Part I

SCA 926-939. On 26 May 1990, Sri Chinmoy met with Dr. Felix Kuznetsov of the Gorky Institute, Moscow, at Annam Brahma Restaurant in Jamaica, New York. These are some excerpts from their conversation.

Dr. Kuznetsov: In the old days the monks used to pray and meditate, and they would get occult powers. But they did not actually care for the powers as such. They cared only to please God with their prayers and meditations.

Sri Chinmoy: In our case also, we want to have what God is, not what God has. With our prayers we try to make God happy and to please God the Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient. We do not ask God, “Give me this power or that power.” But if we please God, we will get everything that He has in the same way that a child, when he grows up, will get everything that his father has.

Today a child may beg his father, “Give me five dollars or ten dollars.” Tomorrow he may say, “Give me a house; give me a car!” The father may give whatever the child asks for, although he has infinitely more wealth. Similarly, God may give us what we pray for, whether it is occult power or something else. But God will say, “You are such a fool! You are asking merely for occult power, whereas I am able to give you the whole world, the entire universe.”

If we can please God the Father, then He gives us everything that we need. On the other hand, when we ask Him for something in particular, He can give that very thing, but it may only create problems for us. The best thing is to tell God, “Give me only what is best for me.” Then God will do what He feels is best for us. He will not give us anything that is harmful. Occult power is something that can easily create problems for us.

In Russia, people who have been praying to God have not usually cared for power as such, although power may have come automatically. There has never been a decade when there was no prayer-life in the Russian villages. Elderly village women have always prayed with their utmost love and devotion. They prayed only to love and please God, and not to get God’s Power.

Dr. Kuznetsov: In many religions, people try to make their bodies suffer. They believe in the suffering of the body. In Christianity, for example, at times you have to abstain from food. In some religions, monks withdraw from life. According to my understanding, these people who are trying to make their bodies suffer feel they will increase their meditation capacity this way.

Sri Chinmoy: Some people are torturing themselves to please God. I am not at all in favour of this approach. Suppose, at this moment, I am asking you to play the role of God, and I am telling you that I love you and I want to come to you. Now, shall I cut my head or arms or legs to prove to you how much I love you? No! On the contrary, I shall run towards you as fast as possible. Then, either I shall sit at your feet or I shall embrace you because I love you. If I take you as someone who is infinitely higher and better than I am, then I will go and sit at your feet. And if I take you as my dearest friend, my oneness-friend, then I will embrace you. If I cut or injure myself to prove how much I love you, you will only feel sorry for me. I must run towards you as fast as possible to prove how much I love you.

This body is a temple, and inside the temple is a shrine, which is our love for God. If we destroy the temple, then the shrine will also be ruined. So we should keep the body fit instead of torturing the body. Some people do not want to eat for two or three weeks at a time. Now, some snakes eat only twice a year. In which way are these snakes better than human beings who eat two or three times a day? Of course, you and I and all human beings are higher than these snakes. We have to use our wisdom.

When Lord Buddha sat at the foot of a tree for his enlightenment, at first he said, “I am not going to eat anything.” Then, when he began losing the faculties of his body, he started eating again in a normal way. Sri Ramakrishna ate three meals a day. While loving God with our body, vital, mind, heart and soul, we have to be normal. If we go to extremes and do not eat at all in order to please God, we are only torturing the body. If I love you and you also love me, will you be happy if I am suffering physically?

The child loves the mother, and the mother loves the child. Will the mother be happy if the child stops eating and ruins his whole body to prove how much he loves her? If he says, “Mother, see how much I love you; that is why I have destroyed my health,” the mother will feel miserable. She will say, “If you love me, then come to me as quickly as possible.” So it is advisable to follow the path of moderation and not the path of austerity. We should eat to keep our senses intact and our body in perfect condition.

There are countless people on earth who are poverty-stricken and do not get regular meals. Have all the poor people become spiritual? Have they all realised God? No! Here is the proof that if we do not eat, we are not necessarily closer to God.

Let us lead a normal life and not go to extremes. We will not be greedy, voracious eaters, nor will we lead austere lives and negate food. We have to keep the body-temple in very good condition so we will be able to worship at the shrine and please God.

Dr. Kuznetsov: What is the connection between your outer strength and your inner prayer and meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: I have been praying and meditating consciously for many, many years, not only in this life, but also in my previous incarnations. For me, previous incarnations are like different rooms of the same house. Each time I take human birth, I know of my previous incarnations, or the room where I previously stayed. For centuries I have prayed and meditated. By praying and meditating I have pleased both God the Creator and God the creation. In my case, God the Creator and God the creation, or you can say inner power and outer strength, have become one.

If we pray and meditate, the inner life and the outer life go together, and inside our thoughts and actions there is always power. We cannot separate the inner and the outer. As there cannot be a tree without roots under the ground, so also inner power and outer strength go together. If there is a seed under the ground, in a few months or so it will germinate and become a plant. Then the plant will grow, and finally it will become a huge banyan tree. Before I was like a seed under the ground. Then I became a plant. Now I am like a tree.

To come back to your question, whatever inner and outer power you see in me is only God’s Compassion raining down on me. If we want the sunlight to enter into our room, we have to keep our doors and windows all wide open. In the same way we have to keep our inner doors and windows open. Then the power or light from Above will enter into us. Again, if we want to keep the sunlight out of our house, we can do so. In my case, it is like the divine sun-power entering into my body-room. The outer strength, which is inside my body, and the inner power, which is coming from Above, have become one.

Dr. Kuznetsov: There was a great person named Roerich who travelled to India and Tibet. When I went to his estate, there was a picture of his wife on the wall. She was the daughter of a famous Russian general. She meditated extremely well, and she was a person of great inner strength. I was totally surprised that in the picture there was a light around her head.

Sri Chinmoy: It is called an aura.

Dr. Kuznetsov:: I also know that artists draw auras around the heads of saints. The energy was so strong in the case of Roerich’s wife that even in a photograph one could see the light around her head. Do you believe in certain biological energies which are connected with the spiritual forces?

Sri Chinmoy: The physical or biological power and the spiritual power can go together. But if we see light or an aura around somebody’s head, this is definitely spiritual light. It is not radiating on the physical plane; it is something spiritual. Each person has an aura. Some people have one, some people have two, some people have many. As you practise the spiritual life, you get many, many auras.

Similarly, each of us has an inner sun. Sri Ramakrishna saw one inner sun in Keshab Sen, a sage from Bengal, but in Swami Vivekananda he saw eighteen inner suns. Spiritual people who are very highly advanced or who are spiritual Masters have much more light around their heads than ordinary people. But it is not from the physical that this light or aura is coming. It is coming from beyond the physical.

Dr. Kuznetsov: Because you are a very wise person, I would like to ask your permission to call you ‘Swami’.

Sri Chinmoy: I am only a God-lover and God-server named Chinmoy. In India, instead of saying ‘Mr.’, we say ‘Sri’, which means ‘beauty’ as well as some other divine qualities. Again, those who have realised the Highest, who have discovered their true inner existence, are also known as ‘Sri’, such as Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Chaitanya and Sri Krishna. A Guru is one who is a teacher, one who illumines the ignorance of the students. In English we use the term ‘teacher’ or ‘professor’, but in Sanskrit and Bengali, the one who illumines the ignorance-night of the students is called the Guru. A Guru is addressed as ‘Sri’.

My students call me Guru, and my friends and dear ones who have genuine respect and love for me call me Sri Chinmoy. Again, my Indian friends and colleagues and others with whom I was brought up simply call me Chinmoy.

‘Swami’ has three ordinary meanings: lord, husband or head of a family. Again, in spiritual terms, one who has renounced the world is also a swami. In my case, my path is the way of acceptance and not renunciation. My students and I have accepted life as such, and we are trying to become good citizens of the world so that we can make life better for all. I do not feel that I fall into the category of a swami. I inwardly feel that what I am is a God-lover and a God-server. These are my credentials.

Dr. Kuznetsov: So you accept both the spiritual world and the material world?

Sri Chinmoy: God has two aspects. He is God the Creator and He is also God the creation. We are all God the creation, and God the Creator is above us and inside us, inside our heart, inside our soul. Either we try to bring down God the Creator from Above into God the creation, or we try to bring to the fore God the Creator from within.

Dr. Kuznetsov: There is a legend that Sri Ramakrishna was connected with Russia.

Sri Chinmoy: There is a legend and there is also one very special picture of Sri Ramakrishna that is connected with Russia. We have thousands and thousands of pictures because we live in the West. But in poor Bengal, at that time, Sri Ramakrishna did not have many pictures. Once he was asked, “Where are you going to take birth in your next incarnation?” He simply pointed to a particular spot on the map, and that spot was Russia. A photograph was taken and it became one of his most famous spiritual pictures. He entered into his highest consciousness and pointed out a particular part of the world, and definitely it was Russia.

Dr. Kuznetsov: I know that story. This is a great thought. If we understand this thought in a general sense, it will give hope for the rebirth of Russia.

Sri Chinmoy: Russia is like a flower, a beautiful flower full of fragrance. For a number of years, the flower was unable to offer its beauty and fragrance because of man’s mind-made rules. Some Russians made rules which came from the mind, not from the heart.

It is not at all true that Russians did not believe in God and now suddenly Russians do believe in God. Because of certain individuals and certain political pressures, the power of the mind tried to dominate the heart. At that time the poor heart, which is the direct link with God, with the Divine, could not come to the fore. For quite a few years the heart-power surrendered to the mind’s doubt-power, suspicion-power and destruction-power.

Now the heart-power has again come forward, and the mind-power, which is full of doubt and other negative forces, has surrendered. Russia the flower, Russia the soul, is coming to the fore. Now that Russia is fully awakened spiritually, the entire world will derive tremendous blessings and be able to make very, very fast progress.

Dr. Kuznetsov: I feel that Russia has suffered more than any of the other countries in the world. And yet Russia was never a country that did not believe in God. Russia was a country that always believed in higher things.

Sri Chinmoy: I fully agree with you. We will be making a mistake if we try to separate higher principles from God. As we have said, God the creation and God the Creator cannot be separated. So in your Russian consciousness you did not use the term ‘God’. But you did believe in higher principles, higher realities, higher worlds — a life higher than the ordinary. It is not necessary to use the word ‘God’. You wanted to be better human beings. You wanted to become good. Goodness itself is God. You wanted to grow into something higher. That height is nothing but God.

In English we use the word ‘God’. In Bengali we use the word bhagaban. In Russian you use something else. But we cannot separate the qualities from the subject. You touch water and you feel the essence of water. The consciousness of water enters into you. You do not have to use the term ‘water’. It is one thing to talk about water and another thing to touch water and feel the essence.

In Russia you wanted to experience God by touching God-consciousness. Kindness, purity, simplicity, self-giving — all these things Russia does have. Are they not God’s attributes? We cannot separate the attributes from the One who embodies them.

Good qualities are like the fragrance of a flower. The flower is offering its fragrance, which embodies kindness, goodness, compassion and aspiration. How can you separate the fragrance from the flower? We may call it a flower; you may call it fragrance. But we know that the fragrance and the flower must go together. If there is a flower, then there is fragrance. If there is fragrance, then there is a flower.

Dr. Kuznetsov: The ideas of Sri Ramakrishna are great because they bring together all religions.

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, Sri Ramakrishna talked about the synthesis of all religions. He said that Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and all other religions are one, like the petals of a flower. A flower does not have only one petal. When it has four or five petals, then it becomes a flower. Or you can use the image of a tree. There is only one life-tree with many branches. Each branch is known as a particular way of life — Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam or Judaism.

I also say that each religion is like a house. You live in your house and I live in my house, but we have a common meeting place to talk about God and truth, to have our heart-to-heart discussions about our spiritual life. We discuss how I can be a better person, how you can be a better person and so on. By discussing these things, we try to bring forward our own good qualities. Good qualities do not belong only to one individual. They belong to everyone. But sometimes a particular person is anxious to bring them forward quickly, whereas another person may be prepared to take a longer time. In a race, somebody may want to run fast and win the race. Another person may feel that as long as he can cover the distance, he will be happy.

I was born a Hindu. Someone else was born into another religion. Then gradually we come to accept God as our own and go beyond religion. We come to feel that love of God is the only true religion. That feeling comes from the synthesis of all religions that Sri Ramakrishna spoke of. Similarly, first we have to have a national feeling. We say “I am Indian” or “I am Russian.” Then we have to cultivate international feelings, since our highest goal is to become one with the universe. At that time you are not only a Russian and I am not only an Indian. We are also cosmopolitan.

Dr. Kuznetsov: How do you feel about occult power?

Sri Chinmoy: Occult power is like the waves of the ocean, whereas spiritual power is like the ocean itself. As soon as some people see waves, they pay attention only to the waves and not to the vast sea. But they will get real joy only when they become one with the ocean itself, which is infinitely more powerful than a few waves here and there.

When we pray and meditate, we want to identify with the ocean and not with the waves. When Sri Ramakrishna prayed and meditated, he did not care for occult power at all. But if we become one with the ocean, then automatically we become one with the waves as well. If we acquire spiritual power, then occult power will be there as well. But spiritual power is infinitely more powerful and illumining in a seeker’s life. If we want to go from one country to another by boat, we have to cross the whole ocean, not just a few waves. So in our prayer and meditation, we should not ask for occult power. We should ask for love, so that with our love we can become one with the Highest.

Dr. Kuznetsov: Your teaching of love is extremely important for Russia.

Sri Chinmoy: When we love God, we are all young. When we love our good qualities, we are all young. But when we do not pay any attention to our inner good qualities, we are all old.

Dr. Kuznetsov: These are beautiful words. Thank you very much for answering these questions. It is very important to me.

Sri Chinmoy: Thank you. Giving and receiving go together. You are so receptive. When there is receptivity in others, we can offer something.