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.