Part I

SCA 203-229. Questions answered in January 1995.

Question: How can I become a perfect disciple?

Sri Chinmoy: The word ‘perfect’ is at once very complicated and very easy to understand. First of all, we have to know that becoming a perfect human being and becoming a perfect disciple are not one and the same thing. When we use the term ‘perfect’ to describe a human being, we generally mean that he has quite a few good qualities that others around him do not have. Suppose that someone has ten good qualities and those around him have perhaps two or three good qualities. Naturally, those who have only two or three good qualities will have tremendous admiration for the one who has ten good qualities. But, who knows, perhaps there are twenty more good qualities that he is lacking.

Again, even if someone has many good qualities, others may consider him far from perfect; they may ascribe bad motives to all his actions. Suppose that a particular individual has a philanthropic attitude and gives many alms to the poor. Some people will admire him and say that he is so kind-hearted, while others may say there is no sincerity involved and that he is doing it just to show off.

In the ordinary human life, ‘perfection’ is found on one level of consciousness. If somebody has a number of good qualities, his friends, neighbours and admirers will say, “He is perfect.” Others may disagree, but there will be many to take his side because they see in him good qualities that they themselves do not have. In the spiritual life, though, perfection has to be seen from a different angle or a different perspective.

Let us take the idea of surrender to God’s Will. We know that there are three rungs on the spiritual ladder: love, devotion and surrender. First comes love, then devotion and finally surrender. We have to know that love and devotion can never be complete and perfect unless and until surrender is complete, perfect and unconditional. I used to say that love is the foundation; then, after love, devotion must come into being. And finally, the ultimate must come, which is surrender. But now I see that if we never reach the surrender-height, we cannot value the love-step or devotion-step. We can only fully appreciate the supreme necessity of the trunk of the tree after we use it to climb up and reach the mangoes. Until we taste the mangoes, we cannot completely value the lower portions of the tree. It is only when we reach the goal that we are able to give utmost importance to the road that led us to the goal.

From the highest point of view, surrender to God’s Will is absolute perfection. But for the aspiring seeker, this kind of surrender is most difficult. To begin with, we do not even know what God’s Will is. We get an inner message, but we do not know from where it is coming. If a particular message is coming from the heart, we may think it is coming from the mind, or vice versa. Again, sometimes the mind is giving the message, but we think the message is coming directly from God. Or the vital may give the message, and we think the message is coming from our soul. So there is every possibility that we are totally mistaken when we try to determine God’s Will. In fact, if the message we get is something that is easy for us to execute, we feel certain that it is coming from Above. In this way we may get a false assurance or false feeling of inner certainty, which can last for a day or a month or a year.

As human beings we are all the time getting different inner messages, and at every moment we are surrendering to one of them. In whatever we do, the surrender aspect is there. If we had free access to the inner world, we would see that at every moment we are surrendering either to the physical consciousness or to some other part of our being. In our day to day life we always say, “I made the decision,” but this is absolutely incorrect. The decision is made either by our mind, our vital, our heart, our soul or God. It is always one part of our being that makes the decision, one part of our being that is the guide or ruler, and we identify ourselves with the decision of that guide. So in whatever we do, the surrender aspect is there.

Most of the time our mind makes the decision. When our mind makes the decision, we are so completely identified with the mind that we feel that we are the ones who made the decision. In exactly the same way that the mind can make the decision for us, God also wants to make the decision for us. Unfortunately, when God makes the decision for us, most of the time it does not give us any outer joy. That is because in God’s Eye, the way that we want to make ourselves happy is usually the wrong way.

When we are identified most powerfully with our mind, vital or physical consciousness, if the message that comes from Above does not please us and make us happy in our own way, then many times we do not believe the message. We say, “If God is all Love and Compassion, then why is He making me suffer so much?” But if we compare ourselves with our relatives or friends who do not pray and meditate, we will see that we are infinitely better off and infinitely happier than they are.

It is all a matter of expectation. Before we entered into the spiritual life, definitely we had a boss, and that boss was the mind. Now that we are following the inner life, we expect God to guide us at every moment. But we are always criticising poor God. We say that either He is invisible or He does not satisfy us. Even if God were to come to us in a visible way, we would say, “O God, I thought You were infinitely more beautiful than this!” We look for God in one Form, but He comes to us in another Form. Indian stories are flooded with this kind of experience. Sometimes God will even come in the form of a dog to examine the seeker and see how much he has identified himself with the God-Consciousness. But the poor seeker will lock the dog outside because it is bothering him.

We expect that God will appear to us in a most luminous Form — in a Form far beyond our imagination. But, unfortunately, even when God appears in His most beautiful Form, say in a dream, what is most beautiful according to God may not be at all beautiful in our eyes. Our appreciation of God’s Beauty may be totally different from God’s own appreciation of Himself. The way we see something with our earthly vision and earthly capacity may be totally different from the way it looks in God’s Eye. We say, “Only if God comes in this Form will I accept Him. If He comes in any other Form, then it cannot be God.” Because we are not established in the Universal Consciousness, in our mind we have formulated God in a particular way. But our idea of God’s Beauty or God’s Divinity may be totally ridiculous from the highest point of view.

Similarly, we have formulated our own ideas about happiness. If a particular message comes that makes us happy in our own way, we feel that it has come from God. But if another message comes that is not giving us immediate happiness, that is bringing only unhappiness or suffering, then we discard it. If a message comes that is most difficult to deal with or execute in a divine way, then we just ignore it. We say that it cannot possibly have come from God.

Real happiness and spiritual perfection go together. From perfection we get inner happiness. If we have done the perfect thing or become the perfect person for five minutes or five hours, inwardly we are really happy. When we have achieved a certain level of perfection, happiness automatically follows. Again, from happiness we also can go to perfection. If we are happy in a spiritual way, then we want to do the right thing and become the right person. When we are miserable, we only hate ourselves and curse ourselves. At that time, who cares for perfection? But if we are spiritually happy, our happiness is like a solid foundation on which we can build the palace of perfection.

Even if we are happy and want to do the right thing, how can we know what the right thing is? We know that perfection comes from listening to the Will of the Supreme, but how can we know whether a message is coming from the Supreme or from a lower source? One way is to meditate well for long hours. I am not talking about meditating for two or three minutes or even for half an hour. We have to meditate for at least two hours at a stretch, without interruption. We have to meditate sincerely and devotedly with an utmost inner cry, as though a child were crying inside our heart. If our meditation is sublime, we are bound to get the correct message from Above.

Our meditation has to be one-pointed. It cannot be the kind of meditation in which the mind is one-pointed one moment and the next moment it is roaming in a wild forest — thinking of our friends or what we had for breakfast. If a single thought enters through the mind’s door, it is like a nail being hammered into the wall of our meditation. If there are no thoughts, then there is no hammer, no nail, nothing — just peace. Unfortunately, this kind of meditation is extremely difficult to have.

Besides one-pointed meditation, there is another process by which we can know God’s Will. We can pray to God to give us the capacity to make constant surrender — not one-second surrender or five-minute surrender, but constant, unconditional surrender to His Will. We can say, “Lord, give me the capacity to surrender to Your Will. I want to do something good here on earth. If I fail, then I will take the results cheerfully. And if I succeed, I know that it will be only because Your Capacity has acted in and through me.” If we can have this kind of surrendered or detached attitude in everything that we do, then God’s Will will be able to act in and through us.

To make this kind of cheerful surrender, regardless of the results of our actions, is most difficult. If we do something well, we are ready to give credit to all and sundry. While going to the playground, let us say that I pass a monkey or a dog on the street. Then, at the playground, if I do well in running 100 metres, I am ready to give credit even to that dog or monkey I saw on the way. But if I do not do well, then I start blaming the whole world: “Because I saw so and so on the street, he gave me bad luck!” Like this, I will go on blaming this person and that person. In this way, our surrender becomes conditional. But if there is real surrender, no matter what happens, we take the result cheerfully. Whether the result is favourable or unfavourable, we take it with the same attitude, and our surrender is not disturbed.

A third way of knowing God’s Will is to have an absolutely childlike consciousness at every moment. In the ordinary life, if we want to have an appointment with somebody important, first we have to placate and please the secretaries, and then we have to please the higher ranking officers. We have to go from the lowest to the highest. In the spiritual life it is not like that. If one has a childlike consciousness, one can approach the Supreme directly. A child is not afraid of his father no matter how much of a big shot the father is. The father may be the boss of a large factory with many workers under him. But the child does not have to go through the workers in order to see the father; he just runs to his father, and the father stops what he is doing and puts the child on his lap.

I have mentioned three ways of knowing God’s Will. One is through profound, deep meditation for many hours, another is through the cheerful surrender of your own existence, and the third is by having an absolutely childlike consciousness. Each of these ways is easy, provided we want to run very fast and are determined to complete the race. If a seeker has the adamantine will to become a perfect disciple, eventually he will succeed.

Again, if the seeker has a realised Master who is in the physical and who knows the Will of God, then it is not necessary for him to meditate for three hours or make that kind of cheerful surrender in his day to day activities or approach God directly with a childlike consciousness. So, in this sense he is lucky.

In the ordinary life, if we want to study a particular subject, we go to a teacher who is an expert in that field. Then we study and learn, and eventually we leave the world of ignorance and become illumined — not in the spiritual sense, but in the human sense. Spirituality is a vast subject. If we want to study this subject, we have to go to a teacher who knows it. Later, when we feel that we do not have anything left to learn from the teacher, we can go out on our own. Once upon a time I also had a Master. When I felt that I had learned from him what I needed to learn, only then did I make a direct connection with the Supreme. When my students reach that stage, they will also develop a direct connection with the Supreme. But at this point in your spiritual development, it is much, much easier for you to know God’s Will by listening to your Master than by trying to go directly to the Supreme.

If an innocent and sweet child wants something from his father, but the father happens to be somewhere else, then the little child can inform one of the father’s workers. Immediately the worker will go running to the father to get what the child wants. The worker who approaches the child’s father gets double joy. He gets joy by telling the father, who is an important executive, “Your child wants to have this.” Then, when the executive gives him what the child asked for, the worker gets joy in giving it to the beautiful child. Also, the father gets joy that this worker came to him to get something for his child. In this case, you are that little child and your spiritual Master is the one who has free access to your Father, who is God.

A God-realised spiritual Master is infinitely higher than any ordinary individual’s soul. He is infinitely higher than the souls of hundreds and hundreds of ordinary people put together. A realised Master is God’s representative on earth; he has come into the world to be of service to the Supreme in mankind. If he is a genuine Master, he has no will of his own. When he says something, it is only God’s Will that he is expressing. The soul also has no will of its own; it, too, expresses only God’s Will.

If you are the manager of an office, and you have an assistant manager who has developed the wisdom and expertise to run the office, then your work is much easier. You are happy that there is someone whom you can trust and depend on, someone who can be of help to you. And if the assistant manager has a senior clerk who can help him, then his work also becomes much easier. Similarly, if God gets a spiritual Master who can help Him on earth, He is so happy. And if the Master gets the soul to work for him and deal with the aspiring heart, mind, vital and physical consciousness of the seeker, then the Master is filled with joy. Again, if the seeker can hear the messages of his soul directly and if he listens to these messages, then the Master’s work and also God’s Work become infinitely easier. But if the seeker cannot understand his soul’s messages properly, then the Master is there to tell him what to do.

Here I am talking not about the physical aspect of the Master but about the Supreme in the Master, who is inside the physical. This is the real Master. Unfortunately, most of the time the disciples see only the physical aspect of the Master. The Master is bald, the Master is lame, the Master is this or that. How many imperfections they see in the Master! They do not realise that it is the disciples themselves who have caused the Master to go lame; but that is another matter. So if you look only at the Master’s physical imperfections, at every moment you will meet with frustration or disappointment. The outer aspect of the Master will only create confusion and misunderstanding for you.

Last year I read a book by Nolini in which he said that we saw only Sri Aurobindo the man, the physical man, and not Sri Aurobindo the divine. Because we did not always see Sri Aurobindo the divine, our nature remained still the same. We had the golden opportunity to transform our nature, but we did not use it properly.

A God-realised soul goes up and down the life-tree. From the topmost branches, he comes down to the foot of the tree to create an inner hunger in mankind; and when he sees the hunger, he carries that hunger up the tree and brings down the meal — peace, light and bliss.

So if you can listen to the messages of your soul, wonderful! Again, if you can listen to what the Supreme in your Master tells you, then also you will be doing the right thing. But if you cannot listen to the messages of your soul, and if you cannot go along with your Master’s way of dealing with things, then, as a last resort, you have to approach God directly for everything. If you do that, your soul will not be at all sad or displeased and your Master will not be at all sad or displeased. On the contrary, the Master will be very proud of you if you do not have to go through him to reach the Highest.

Spiritual perfection lies in knowing God’s Will and executing God’s Will at every moment with the help of your soul or a Master or God Himself. First, you have to know what God wants for you by completely identifying yourself with God’s Will. If you identify yourself with your mind or vital or physical consciousness, then you will always be millions and billions of miles away from what God wants to manifest in and through you. So first you have to identify yourself with God’s Will, and then you have to execute God’s Will with utmost cheerfulness and happiness.

This is the only perfection in a seeker’s life. In the ordinary life, as I said before, your mind will say that this person is perfect or that person is perfect because he or she has some good qualities. Here the mind is the judge. But in the spiritual life, there is no judge; only your inner being has to observe whether or not you are doing the right thing. What is the right thing? God-satisfaction in God’s own Way.

Question: You tell us to give you the things that are bothering us. But when I do that, I feel I am attacking you and hurting you.

Sri Chinmoy: Do not forget that I am an ocean and you are a drop. You cannot destroy the peace, love and joy that I have and that I am. If there is a serious problem, sometimes I have to accept it on the physical plane before I throw it into the Universal Consciousness. When I deal with someone’s problems in the normal way, it may take a few months or a year before the situation is resolved. But when the force attacking the disciple is very powerful and the case is very serious, sometimes my compassion comes forward in such a way that I want to solve the problem immediately. So I take the force attacking the disciple into my physical body. Then I may physically suffer for a day or for a few days, but that extra suffering is worth having if I can save the spiritual life of the disciple.

Again, many times I just take the forces that are attacking the disciples and immediately discard them. No disciple should be concerned about giving me his mental and emotional problems. As soon as I take them, in a matter of seconds or minutes or possibly a day I can discard them. If I can be of help to my spiritual children, again and again I am ready. That is the reason I have come to earth, to be of service to mankind.

The difficulty with most human beings is that they are ready to give their suffering to God, but not their joy and happiness. If someone does not stand first in a race, for example, he is more than ready to curse God: “I practised for so many months and now I have lost!” Our anger, unhappiness and other negative feelings we are more than ready to give to God. But if we are sincere, we will see that we do not really give them to God; if we did, it would take some time for them to come back to us. Instead, we cherish these feelings in some way because we get joy in blaming God.

Again, if we are successful in something, for five seconds we may show gratitude to God, and then immediately we forget about Him. The happiness we receive lasts for a few hours or a few days; we are keeping it inside us. But gratitude does not blossom inside our heart, and we do not continue to share our happiness with God or offer our gratitude to Him. If we were really sincere, we would give God our joy in exactly the same way that we offer Him our problems and suffering. But no, our joy we want to keep for ourselves. It is only when we fail that we bring God into the picture. At that time, in so many ways we attack Him and blame Him.

Question: Is it always best for your disciples to try to see you for many hours a day on the physical plane?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the disciple. Sometimes when a disciple can see his Master for hours and hours a day on the physical plane, the disciple forgets who the Master is on the spiritual plane. The problem is that the disciples sometimes create in their own mind a picture of what divinity is supposed to look like. Then when they see their Master suffering or doing various things on the human plane, they cannot feel the divinity in their Master. When they see their Master acting like an ordinary human being, sometimes it is difficult for them to have faith in their Master. They do not realise that if someone is drowning, the Master has to get into the water to save that person. If the Master just remained on shore, if he just remained in the highest plane of light and delight, then he would not be able to help human beings. That is why a spiritual Master must sometimes act like an ordinary human being.

Again, if the disciples who are physically close to the Master use the opportunity properly, they will feel that they are extremely lucky. If they can keep in mind their Master’s divine aspect even while they mix with the Master on the human plane, then they are in a position to go very high and very deep. They will see that their Master can suffer from a cold or fever like an ordinary human being. In spite of these things, he has been able to realise God. These disciples will then feel that they also can realise God. They will say, “He is just like us. If he can realise God, what is wrong with us?”

Some disciples are able to see their Master only a few times a year for perhaps four or five seconds. At other times these disciples do not know what their Master is doing, but they always feel he is in trance. Perhaps their Master is only chatting or reading the newspaper at that particular moment, but because they feel he is in his highest meditation, immediately their love and devotion increase.

Because my disciples can see me on the physical plane for hours and hours, it is difficult for them to maintain their deepest faith in me and their highest love for me. Disciples who are thousands of miles away can feel, “Oh, I am sure the Master is meditating now.” But those who see me on the physical plane will say, for example, “Oh, I see that the Master is only playing tennis.” You have no idea what I am doing on the inner plane while I am playing tennis. Whether I am striking the ball or missing the ball, I am still in touch with my Highest. Again, tennis has a special inner significance; it is a game of love and serve. In the spiritual life, if we can love and serve God prayerfully and devotedly, we will receive so much from Him.

Try to see the divine aspect inside your Master as often as possible. Then no matter where you are, whether you are in front of your Master or a thousand miles away, you will be able to breathe in the divine breath that the Supreme, out of His infinite Bounty, has given to your Master.

Question: What can I do about the fact that I always have difficulty sleeping during the night?

Sri Chinmoy: Other disciples also have the same trouble. Again, some disciples sleep more than they need to! There are also some sincere seekers who pray to God to give them less sleep so they can pray and meditate more. In my case, I usually sleep for two hours each night. Even then, while my physical body is sleeping, I remain in the yogic consciousness and feel my oneness with God.

Since you are my disciple, the best remedy for you is to pray to God to give you sleep. But if you want to try other remedies, one thing you can do is to imagine only things that are pale green. Pale green, not dark green, has the capacity to soothe the nerves. Imagine a rice paddy or any other kind of green field. Try to feel either that you are walking along the edge of a green field, or that you are in the middle of a green field, or that all around you is something green. Even if you just repeat the word ‘green’ a few times — as though you were chanting a mantra — your earthly ears will hear the sound and the colour will reverberate inside you and touch the inmost recesses of your heart. Then you will start to see green things around you or before you. It has helped many people; it can help you.

But the best way is to pray to the Supreme to give you sleep. If you have sound sleep, the next day you may be inspired to do something good or something great. So you should always ask God for what you need. The highest philosophy, of course, is to ask God only to fulfil His Will in and through you. But you have not reached that state. First you have to become good, better, best. You have to pray to God for positive things: to take away your jealousy, to take away your insecurity, to take away your doubts, to take away your negative and impure thoughts. Right now if you say, “If such is the Will of God, let me have the world’s most impure mind; let me be the world’s most insecure person,” then you will only surrender to these forces.

Always we have to use our wisdom and know which good things are going to offer us the opportunity to make progress. We have learned the phrase ‘spiritual surrender.’ But we have to surrender to wisdom, not to stupidity. If a disciple has insecurity, he or she may start saying, “Perhaps it is the Will of God that I have insecurity. Since I came into the world only to please God, perhaps I should surrender to insecurity.” At that time God will only laugh at the disciple’s stupidity.

All our negative qualities we have to turn into positive qualities. If there are things that are standing in our way and preventing us from becoming good instruments of God, then we have to pray to God to help us overcome these obstacles. Right now you are suffering from insomnia; your lack of sleep is torturing you. It would be a mistake for you to say, “For six months if I do not sleep, no harm! God is giving me an experience, so let me remain silent.” For you, this is not the proper prayer right now. You have to pray to God, “Please give me sleep so that tomorrow I can meditate and go to work.”

Again, if you are in a really high consciousness, you can try to change your attitude towards your inability to sleep. You can transform your suffering into happiness. Instead of feeling unhappy that you are unable to sleep, you can say, “God has given me the golden opportunity to meditate for a few more hours. Up until now, I have been meditating for half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening. But now at night I have got four or five extra hours to meditate, so I am most fortunate.” Like this, if you can change your attitude and start meditating at night very happily and cheerfully, then the goddess of sleep will immediately come to you. I tell you, if at night you can start meditating with a divine attitude, you will not have to meditate for more than a few minutes before the goddess of sleep comes and blesses you with the deepest sleep.

So right now, the best thing is for you to pray to the Supreme to give you sound sleep. If some nights He is not giving you sound sleep, on those nights you can try to change your attitude and say, “Perhaps this is a golden opportunity for me to meditate.” That also will help. But if you try to take the highest approach and say that your inability to sleep is perhaps the Will of God, you will not be able to maintain this attitude. After a day or two your mind will revolt because there is a yawning gulf between your present stage of spiritual evolution and the reality that you are imagining. The fruits definitely are hanging from the branches of the tree. But if you think that you can just jump up and grab the fruits, then you are making a deplorable mistake. Slowly and steadily you have to climb the tree; only then will you be able to reach the fruits.

Question: What is the best attitude to have when trying to manifest the Light of the Supreme?

Sri Chinmoy: When you have the aspiration to manifest the Light of the Supreme, it gives you tremendous joy. The very fact that I want to climb up the Himalayas gives me immense joy — whether I start climbing or not. Unfortunately, very often talk does not become action. I am imagining that I am climbing; but when the actual time comes, either I run away because I am afraid or I become so busy finding fault with those who have climbed up a few metres ahead of me that I lose sight of my own goal. I say they have climbed up in the wrong way or adopted foul means, and I never begin the climb myself. So it is one thing to think of manifesting the Light of the Supreme and another thing to actually do it.

Every disciple of mine who wants to manifest the Light of the Supreme has to keep one thing in mind: purity. If there is no purity, there is always division in the mind, and this leads to misunderstanding and quarrelling. Speaking of manifestation is like speaking of peace. The very fact that human beings are talking about peace instead of war is a tremendous achievement. But in many cases, in the name of peace we are killing each other. Still, the fact that we are even thinking about peace means that one day God will allow us to realise the real meaning and significance of peace. Similarly, when we are thinking of manifestation, no matter how many mistakes we are making and how many times we are fooling ourselves and fooling others, a day will come when our efforts will become positive.

It is better to manifest, no matter how imperfectly, than to remain silent. When Vivekananda saw that some Indians were idle, he used to say: “Go and play football. You will realise God sooner if you play football than if you read the Bhagavad Gita. He felt that they needed to be active and dynamic. Similarly, it is better to make mistakes while working on manifestation than not to do anything. When some people make mistakes or see that others are makings mistakes, they give up. But you have to know that everybody is bound to make mistakes. In spite of these mistakes, brave people continue working, since they are determined to do the right thing and become the right person. Eventually, they will succeed.

Question: What benefit do we get when we keep our hands over our heart when you are meditating with us?

Sri Chinmoy: When I meditate seriously, if you keep your hands on top of your heart and feel your heartbeat, automatically you will feel the intensity of your aspiration. Inside that intensity you will discover the purity of your mind and the divinity of your heart.

Question: Does our physical demeanour have any effect on our receptivity?

Sri Chinmoy: When I am cutting jokes, it is all right to do anything. But when I am meditating or even answering spiritual questions, then you should sit properly. Otherwise, if you put your legs up and are very relaxed, then you receive next to nothing from me. Even worse, you will ruin the aspiration of those around you who are sincerely trying to receive. I am asking all my disciples to show proper respect when I am doing something spiritual. Those who are sitting in the front row have to be particularly careful. By your physical movements you can cause all kinds of problems, not only for yourselves but also for those who are sitting behind you.

Question: Do you have any advice for those who are giving talks for seekers?

Sri Chinmoy: If you want to give lectures on spirituality, you are not like a teacher at an ordinary school. At an ordinary school, after the teacher finishes his lecture on history, for example, he can do anything he likes. His history class has nothing to do with his personal life. But if you are giving talks on spirituality, you cannot separate your teaching life from your day-to-day existence. If you are a spiritual person, you cannot be one person in the class and then afterwards enter into the life of vital enjoyment. During the lecture, the seekers hear you talking about renunciation and God-realisation. Then afterwards, if they see you drinking in a bar or dancing somewhere, they will get the shock of their lives. They will become confused. What is worse, they will feel that spirituality is a hopeless case. They will think that the spiritual life is only a joke, and they will lose what little aspiration they had.

People who come to your lectures may not be sincere enough to follow a disciplined life. But they come to you with the hope of at least becoming better human beings. If, because of your behaviour, you destroy their aspiration instead of strengthening it, you are doing something most deplorable. You are responsible for those seekers. Even if they came to you only out of curiosity in order to learn what spirituality actually means, any misbehaviour on your part can destroy even their curiosity, not to speak of their aspiration.

It takes sincerity, enthusiasm, eagerness, purity and many other divine qualities to inspire others to enter fully into the spiritual life. It is not enough to give; you also have to become. If you give without becoming, then you can never succeed. So give and become; become and give. Then you will be a really divine instrument of our Beloved Supreme.

Question: Last week I dreamed that my wife was thrown down and killed. Whether it was something false or real I don’t know.

Sri Chinmoy: If we take all our dreams seriously, then we will end up in a mental asylum! Some dream symbolism you have to ignore and some you have to take seriously. If you see a dog following you in your dream, that means your aspiration has increased and that you are following your spiritual Master very devotedly. Again, if the dog bites you, it means that you are losing faith or that you have lost faith in your spiritual life or in your Master. If the dog barks at you but does not bite, it means that the dog is warning you that some catastrophe is about to take place in your life. If you see a deer, it means you are going to be able to run very fast in your spiritual life.

Sometimes you may have a dream at night that you are quarrelling and fighting with someone. Then in the morning you will see that individual and he will give you the nicest smile and show you such affection and love. So many dreams are based on absolutely nothing; they are utterly false.

When spiritual Masters have dreams, immediately they will be able to know if the dreams are real. A spiritual Master or a seeker of the highest order will be aware that he is dreaming and he will be able to see the dream with his intuitive or inner vision. At that time, the dream is separate from the vision. If it is an inspiring dream that is eventually going to manifest, he will enjoy the dream. But if it is a discouraging dream, he will just cast it away. Usually, spiritual Masters do not have dreams as often as ordinary human beings. They may have a dream once a year or once in a few years. But in their highest meditation a vision will come to them and they will see what is going to be manifested. Of course, if God wants the vision to remain unmanifested, He can make it so. For God, nothing is impossible. So if we are wise, we have to become one with God’s Will.

Ordinary and uninspiring dreams you should just discard, discard, discard. And if you do have an inspiring dream, do not be upset if it does not manifest. In your dream you may come to a garden and see a beautiful flower, but you may not have the capacity to pluck the flower, or the gardener may not want you to pluck it because he wants to preserve it inside the garden. You can enter into the garden and appreciate the beauty and fragrance of the flowers, but you may not be allowed to bring the flowers home — into the world of reality.

Question: I do not really know how to love myself, and yet I feel I need to love the Supreme.

Sri Chinmoy: For the time being, forget about the Supreme. Only feel that you have entered into a garden with many, many flowers. Choose one flower that you like and go near it. Appreciate its beauty and smell its fragrance. Then just say a few times, “How I wish I could be as pure and as beautiful as this flower.” After five minutes, try to imagine that an infinitesimal amount of beauty from that flower has entered into you. Then gradually try to feel that all the good qualities you are seeing in the flower — its beauty, its purity, its fragrance and so on — have entered into you and are inside you.

Now remember how much you loved that flower and how much joy it gave you. At first it had a separate existence. But little by little you brought its beauty and reality inside your own body and inside your own heart. Then try to feel that you do not have a body, you do not have a mind, you do not have anything. Think of yourself only as that most beautiful flower. Because you have become that beautiful flower, you are bound to appreciate yourself and love yourself the way that you loved the flower.

Once you start loving yourself, you have to feel that God loves you infinitely more. If you are suffering from a physical ailment or something else, you may feel that nobody is there to love you or sympathise with you. But there is Someone and that Person is inside you. If you are suffering, then you have to know that He is suffering infinitely more. If you are happy, then He is infinitely happier. Try to cultivate the feeling that the Supreme, who is your highest part, is always feeling what you are feeling, only infinitely more. If you love somebody, He loves that person infinitely more. And if you love yourself, then He loves you infinitely more.

Question: You once said that love is just the first step in the spiritual ladder and that it has to be followed by devotion and surrender. But in my meditation I cannot go beyond love, so how am I ever going to reach devotion and surrender?

Sri Chinmoy: If I want to learn the English alphabet, I cannot ignore the existence of the letter ‘a’ and start my dictionary with ‘b’. If I do not place my foot on the first rung of a ladder, then how can I go up to the second rung? If I try to skip the first rung and go directly to the second, I may fall and break my leg. The second step is more difficult than the first, and the third is infinitely more difficult than the second. In the spiritual life, love is the first step that you have to take. If you have no love for God, then you will never have devotion for God.

You want to love God sleeplessly. Right now that is impossible, but if you can love God during your prayers and meditations, if you can consciously love God for a few hours during the day, you can make a start. From that stage, you can enter into the devotion-world and from there go to the surrender-world. Love, devotion and surrender are all interlinked. Based on the amount of love and devotion you have, you may not be able to achieve unconditional, breathless surrender to God; still there are definitely some ways in which you can surrender to God’s Will. But you do need to start your journey with a certain amount of love before you can enter into the devotion-world and from there go to the surrender-world.

You are a seeker. Therefore, you definitely love God; to say you have no love for God would be the twentieth century’s worst possible lie. Now you have to increase your love. It is like taking exercise to increase your muscle power. Prayer and meditation are like exercise in the spiritual world. You can easily strengthen your love for God by virtue of your prayer and meditation. You can start by meditating for fifteen minutes, and from there you can gradually increase your time to twenty minutes, thirty minutes and so on.

There is not a single disciple of mine who does not love God. Now it is only a question of developing the ability to love God unconditionally. Some of my disciples are able to love God unconditionally for five minutes or half an hour during their meditation. But when the meditation is over, all their expectations and demands come forward. Someone will say, “He did not do this or she did not do that, so how is it that Guru is smiling at that person?” Or someone else will say, “How is it that so-and-so is quite happy, whereas I have prayed and meditated and still I am not happy?” So our love for God becomes all of a sudden conditional. Worse than that, expectation comes; and even worse than that, demand comes.

We do have love for God. Now we have to increase our love for God. I always say that God Himself at every moment is increasing His own Eternity and His own Infinity; this gives Him joy. Right now we cannot imagine what God’s Infinity is. But when we identify ourselves with God’s Will, we can see God’s Infinity and God’s Vision at a glance. We cannot measure it with the mind; it is not like climbing 8,000 metres up the Himalayas. Infinity we can know only by virtue of our inner vision. When we meditate, we increase our inner vision; we increase our love for God.

Question: As a disciple of yours, what main qualities do I need to achieve happiness?

Sri Chinmoy: The two main qualities you need are gratitude and forgiveness. You have to feel grateful to the Supreme in yourself and in your Guru that you are still on the path, leading a spiritual life. And you have to have forgiveness-power for all your spiritual brothers and sisters, no matter how much they criticise you or speak ill of you. From these two divine realities you will get real happiness, and in your happiness is your progress.

Question: If we are trying to go up to a higher plane of consciousness, how can we be sure that we are doing so in God’s Way and not just using our own wisdom to go up?

Sri Chinmoy: From your own soulful prayer and from your own deep meditation you will know. In the beginning your meditation will tell you that the height of your wisdom and the height of God’s Wisdom are very different. But when your meditation becomes very deep and profound, you will stop having your own way of thinking. Your own way will be illumined or completely eliminated and there will be only one way that you will accept gladly, cheerfully and unconditionally, and that is the Supreme’s Way.

Question: Part of me says it is better to spend all my money on spiritual activities, but a part of me says it would be wiser to save my money for a time of need.

Sri Chinmoy: You have to use your wisdom. It is one thing to spend thousands of dollars on clothing and jewellery, and another thing to spend that money on something that will help you make spiritual progress. You have to know what your soul wants and always listen to the voice of your soul. Some disciples believe in the soul only when it says what their mind or their vital wants to hear. Otherwise they say, “What is the soul? Who is that fellow? Where is he? My human eyes have to get solid proof!” When they do not like the message of the soul, these unfortunate disciples stay in the world of proof.

As long as I am alive, I will definitely tell the whole world that the soul exists. For me, the body, mind and vital are all unreal. Only the soul, which is eternal and immortal, is real. The soul is like a most luminous child inside us. If you maintain a good connection with your soul, then definitely it will take you to the Father. The Father will be eager to spend time talking to you because his dearest child, your soul, has brought you. If you please the divine child in you, who has free access to the Absolute Lord Supreme, then it is so easy to see the Father.

You ask whether you should save your money in case you have to go to the hospital someday, or whether you should spend it now on something that will help you make spiritual progress. It is a question of faith. Spiritual people feel that if they have to go to the hospital, then God will bring somebody to take care of their hospital bills. They have that kind of faith in God. A really spiritual person will not be unduly concerned about the future. For him God is the doctor, God is the hospital, God is life, God is death, God is everything. Others may set aside money for when they are fifty or seventy or ninety. But in five seconds God can take you away from this world if He wants to. If you keep all your money in the bank indefinitely, then one day it will accompany you into your coffin or into your grave. But it will never be able to take you to Heaven. Never!