Aspiration-Flames

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Question: How do we aspire?

Sri Chinmoy: Cry, cry like a child from the very depths of your heart. There is no prayer that cannot be answered, no meditation that cannot be fulfilled if you cry sincerely. Aspiration is your soul's mounting cry to reach the Highest and to bring down the Highest into the earth's consciousness.

Question: What is aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: Aspiration is inner cry. Aspiration is inner courage. What is inner courage? Inner courage is implicit faith in your own divine Pilot. If you have inner courage, that means you have faith in your Master.

Question: How can we recognise true aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: This question is most interesting and at the same time most instructive. Sometimes an aspirant feels that he is doing the right thing. He feels that he is doing his best in his aspiration and that God is most pleased with him. But it may be that this person's aspiration is absolutely insincere. His aspiration may be next to nothing at that very time.

Now, how can we know whether our aspiration is genuine, sincere and productive? There is an inner joy, an inner bliss, right in the inmost recesses of our heart, and this inner bliss we get only when our aspiration is genuine and sincere. We may get some mental and vital joy just because we are practising the spiritual life. But the real inner joy we get only when our aspiration is true and genuine. When we have inner joy, we see and feel that we are consciously sitting and growing in the Lap of God. The more we live in the world of higher aspiration, the more convincing will be our feeling of oneness with God. When we become consciously one with God, at that time He will stand right in front of us even when we are doing the most ordinary things.

If anybody wants to know whether his aspiration is genuine and whether he is really marching towards the Goal or not, then I wish to ask that person to observe his mind and heart. If in his mind he feels inner joy and peace and if his heart is flooded with joy and delight, not pleasure, then his aspiration is true and genuine. At that time the aspirant will know that he is not deceiving himself.

Question: Is it necessary for us to aspire with something specific in mind, such as strength or some other divine quality?

Sri Chinmoy: No, your aspiration has not to be specific in that way. Aspiration must not come from the mind. Please do not think that you have to aspire for peace, for strength, for anything specific. If the mind dictates to you, its message will be all wrong. The mind will immediately tell you to pray for a thousand and one things at a time. But aspiration is something spontaneous. It comes directly from the heart. In the morning, or any time when you start your meditation, a spontaneous feeling will come from your heart. This feeling will compel you to pray for something or to invoke something. This feeling does not operate through the mind.

Question: Why do some people not aspire?

Sri Chinmoy: In the spiritual life we use the term 'inner awakening'. If one is awakened, then naturally that person will run towards his Goal. When you are ready, when your hour has struck, you will get up and run towards your Goal. Then after a while somebody else will be ready and he will run towards his Goal. The spiritual life is not like the military life where all are forced to go in the same marching formation. No! There is no compulsion; there is no force. The spiritual life is voluntary; it is a matter of your own choice. Accept God or reject God at your own sweet will.

But we have to be wise. If we accept God, then we feel that sooner or later we will really be fulfilled. If we do not consciously accept God today, then there will come a time when He will compel us to accept Him because He will not allow us to remain unfulfilled and unrealised; for the very purpose of God's creation is fulfilment.

I will tell you a story. Two sons are standing in front of a lake and the mother is observing them. One son is very good and obedient; he wants to please the mother. He knows that if he goes into the water his whole body will be refreshed; he will have a sense of purity. So he jumps into the lake and he is clean and fresh. But the other son is lazy. The water is very cold and he is afraid of it. He is waiting, waiting, waiting. The mother waits for some time, and then she gets annoyed and just pushes him into the water.

The first son was obedient and knew the necessity of taking a bath, so he did. In the spiritual life also, those who are awakened — the obedient children, the spiritual children — will naturally do what is necessary to please their Inner Pilot, God. They know that by pleasing their Inner Pilot, they are accelerating their Godward march. Others who do not feel the necessity, who are afraid and reluctant, will keep God waiting for a few years, a few hundred years or a few thousand years. Then God will compel them because God, like the mother, knows the necessity of cleaning, purifying and illumining the soul.

The spiritual life is not like a race, where everyone starts at the same time and from the same starting point. When you are ready, you will have your starting point; when I am ready, I will have my own starting point. But the Goal is always the same. You may start your journey a few hours or a few years ahead of me, but when you reach your destination and when I reach my destination, it will be the same place. But this is true only if it is the ultimate, the highest Goal. Otherwise, your goal may be just to have an iota of Peace, Light and Bliss. So, when you have come to that place, you are satisfied and you don't want to have anything more. On your way to the ultimate destination you will reach some partial goal and perhaps think that this is the final Goal. Then you will stay at your goal for some time, because your inner or outer being does not want to go farther, higher and deeper. But when I reach that goal, which I will also have to attain, I may want to go farther. While you are walking down the street you see a beautiful tree with flowers and fruits. You stop and enjoy the fruit and think you have reached your Goal. But on my way to the Goal I may say, "No. There is something more beautiful, more powerful, more meaningful than this." Then naturally I will go farther and cover more distance. When I reach my goal, I will see that it is not a mango, but a diamond and at that time I will be satisfied. You will also go higher and farther after reaching your goal, because the ultimate Goal has to be won. But when I reach my ultimate Goal and when you reach your ultimate Goal, it will be the same, for everyone's ultimate Goal is the same.

Question: Why is it necessary to have flowers, candles and incense in order to meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: When we keep our physical body clean and pure, when we offer flowers at our shrine, when we burn candles and incense, these things give us an additional opportunity to convince our physical mind that we are doing something most significant. But this is not the ultimate reason. The ultimate reason is to make ourselves constantly aware of our inner aspiration, the mounting flame within us. Then constantly we have to fly within to our highest level of consciousness.

Question: What role does sincerity play in one's aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: I will tell you a story. Once upon a time there was a king who ordered his subjects to dig a pond. Then he said, "There will be no water in this pond. It will be filled only with milk." So he told all his subjects to bring a jug full of milk the next day.

Now the following day, a brilliant thought flashed across everybody's mind. They thought, "Let me take a jug full of water to fill the pond. Others will bring milk, so how will the king know who has brought milk and who has brought water?"

So everybody brought water. And when the king and queen went to see the pond in the evening, they saw it was all water; there was no milk at all.

Here also some of the disciples feel, "If I don't aspire, no harm. Somebody else will aspire. How will the Master know whether I am aspiring or not?" We can deceive an ordinary king by pouring in water instead of milk, but a spiritual Master cannot be fooled. A God-realised person will immediately be able to know who is aspiring and who is not aspiring. If there were four people sitting here in front of me, immediately with my occult vision I would be able to say, "He is aspiring: he is not aspiring."

With a spiritual Master there is constant forgiveness. A spiritual person will say, "Today he has come without aspiration. But let me forgive him. Let me show him my utmost compassion and tomorrow he will try to come with a real, sincere inner cry." The king would get angry with his subjects. He would say, "You people have all deceived me. I will punish you." But a spiritual Master, in spite of knowing that he has been deceived outwardly, will use only his forgiveness-weapon. He says, "If I can forgive this person, if I show him my compassion, then tomorrow he will make an attempt to please me. This time he will really bring milk and not water." This is what a spiritual Master does.

Question: Sometimes I have an inner longing within my heart. What is the spiritual significance of this?

Sri Chinmoy: Longing itself is meditation. You cannot separate inner longing from meditation. Outer longing or desire for name, fame, money and material possessions is simply foolish. Inner longing is the cry for oneness with the Source. That is a form of meditation. You are a secretary. While you are typing, if you type most soulfully in order to become one with the Supreme in your spiritual Master or with God, that is real meditation. On the other hand, if you want to show that you can type better or more speedily than someone else, then that is not divine longing. Your longing has to be in the highest plane of consciousness. This is the longing that will make you feel one with the Supreme and with your Master. The longing that separates you from God but gives you outer success in various ways is not meditation. The longing that will consciously make you totally one with God is real meditation.

Question: Will you please explain how it is that the soul evolves only on the planet Earth?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul manifests only on this planet because this planet is in evolution. Evolution means constant progress, constant achievement. When one wants to make progress, when one wants to go beyond, then this is the place. In other worlds, the cosmic gods and other beings are satisfied with what they have already achieved. They do not want to go one inch beyond their achievement. But here on earth you are not satisfied, I am not satisfied — nobody is satisfied with what they have achieved. Dissatisfaction does not mean that we are angry with somebody or angry with the world. No! Dissatisfaction means that we have constant aspiration to go beyond and beyond. If we have only an iota of light, then we want to have more light. Always we want to expand.

When the creation started, the souls took different paths. Those that wanted the ultimate Truth, the infinite Truth, accepted the human body so that they could some day possess, reveal and manifest the Truth here on earth. According to our Indian tradition there are thousands of cosmic gods. There are as many presiding deities and gods as there are human beings. These presiding deities and gods remain in the higher worlds, either in the vital world or in the intuitive world or in some higher plane. Right now, according to their limited capacity, they have more power than we have. But when we are liberated and realised, when we are totally one with the Supreme's Consciousness, with the Supreme's Will, then we shall transcend them.

Our human capacity is infinitely greater than that of the so-called presiding deities because they are satisfied, whereas we are not satisfied with what we have. But actually it is not a case of dissatisfaction; it is a case of constant aspiration. We know that our Supreme Father is infinite. We feel that we have not yet become the Infinite, but we cry to expand, expand. This planet has that inner urge. On the one hand, it is obscure, it is ignorant, it does not care for divine life. But on the other hand, it has that tremendous inner urge of which most human beings are not yet aware. When the inner urge is functioning, then there is no end to our possibilities, no end to our achievements. And when we achieve the Infinite, then naturally we surpass the achievements of other worlds.

Question: In the future, will people always have to aspire like us? Or at some point will people no longer be born on earth?

Sri Chinmoy: People will continue to be born and evolution will also continue. We are human beings right now, not animals. But we have so many animal qualities: we quarrel, we fight, we have wars, we do so many undivine things. We actually strangle one another with our hatred and jealousy. But again, we claim that as human beings we are a superior species, we lead a higher life. But in what way? When we enter into ourselves we see that we are human animals. Still, we have made a little progress. We don't want to remain ferocious animals. Among us, some people are really aspiring and crying for God. Eventually they will see the Truth and grow into the Truth. This is evolution.

We cannot say that after four hundred or five hundred years there will be no more animal or human incarnations. There will be animals, there will be people, but they will be more perfect. Now, out of ten thousand people, one person may aspire. But the time will come when it will be just the opposite. We will have made such progress that only one person out of ten thousand will not aspire.

We cannot say that there will be another type of evolution in which everybody will descend fully illumined to earth. No! I have worked hard for many years and centuries in order to realise God. Will someone else not have to work at all? Will God do everything for him immediately? No, everybody has to work. God's Grace descends only when we work hard, when we aspire most soulfully. True, some people realise God when they are in their teens. You may say, "Oh, I have been meditating for twenty or thirty years, while he has meditated only for five or ten years. How is it that he has realised God?" But you do not know that fifty or seventy years ago in his previous incarnation he meditated intensely for many years. Similarly, the world is now imperfect and only gradually, gradually will it become perfect. It is not that at a fixed time the Light will dawn and all non-aspiring people will suddenly run towards the Goal. No! Evolution is a slow, gradual process.

Question: How long do we have to continue to reincarnate?

Sri Chinmoy: If one aspires, one expedites one's realisation. Otherwise, an ordinary human being takes hundreds and hundreds of incarnations before actual realisation takes place. Aspirants who consciously enter into the path of spirituality and try to discipline themselves on the strength of their inner cry will naturally gain their realisation sooner than those who are still sleeping and are not yet conscious of the inner life.

Now, after one realises God, if it is God's Will, that person need not take any more incarnations. If the person is tired, then he may say, "No, I don't want to be of any help to humanity; I only want to realise God. After realisation I would like to stay in some other plane of consciousness." But some realised souls will want to go back to the earth-consciousness and serve aspiring humanity. It all depends on the individual soul and on God's Will.

Question: You said that a spiritual Master is a practical man because he wants to bring God to men. But is it practical for someone involved in the world to aspire?

Sri Chinmoy: The problem is that we have no conception of spirituality. We think that a spiritual man has to leave the world and live in a cave; otherwise, how can he be spiritual? But in real spirituality, man has not to leave the world in order to realise God. Where is God? God is inside your heart, inside everybody's heart.

A spiritual man should be a normal man, a sound man. God Himself is normal; He is not insane. In order to reach God, a spiritual person has to be divinely practical in his day-to-day activities. Spirituality does not negate the outer life. But we have to know that the outer life does not mean the animal life. The outer life should be the manifestation of the divine life within us.

Question: When you spoke of the need to transcend the past, you said that the world is continually evolving. Could you say more about this?

Sri Chinmoy: The world is progressing. If we go deep within, we see that the world is really evolving. In the outer world we see fighting, battles, wars. But actually, when we say 'the world', that does not mean the outer happenings. 'The world' means our very own existence. Each person represents the world. If we are aspiring, then while going deep within, we can see in our own human nature that we ourselves need to make progress. We still have within us millions of silly, dark and hostile forces.

Now when we accept the spiritual life, we feel that we are no longer victims to those dark forces. Those who have accepted the inner life, the spiritual life, can feel their inner progress. The world around us may be all chaos, but we know that there is also another world, the inner world. In the inner world, we see the achievement of ever-transcending perfection.

Each person has to know and feel how much he has progressed. When he accepts the spiritual life and walks along the path of spirituality, he is bound to see inner progress. In the inner world he achieves Peace, Light and Bliss; but in the outer world his nature is still imperfect. It takes time to manifest these divine qualities in one's outer behaviour. If we look only at the outer activities, we will be disappointed. But if we go deep within, we will see how much Peace this person has already achieved. In the course of time, he will be able to manifest what he has inside himself. What we have within, we are bound to manifest either tomorrow or the day after.

So when I say the world is progressing or evolving, it is all the result of aspiration; we see it and feel it. At the same time there are many who are not aspiring and they may feel that the world is not evolving. When we aspire, we do see the evolution in our own nature and in others' lives. But if we do not aspire, we do not see this inner progress at all. Only in the world of aspiration does our inner progress and the progress of the world exist.

The world is evolving. Once upon a time we were all animals. Now we are no longer in the animal kingdom; we have progressed. We have now discovered the mind. But a day will come when we will be far more illumined than we are now. When we think that just a few centuries ago we were all animals, who knows what we are going to be four hundred or six hundred or eight hundred years from now? In the process of evolution, perfection is bound to dawn.

The spiritual life and the outer life are one. It has been said, "I walk slowly, but I never walk backwards." In the spiritual life also, one may either walk slowly and steadily or march fast, but he has to realise God. One may reach the Goal sooner than another, but all are moving forward towards the Goal.

Question: How can our aspiration help us to appreciate the outer world?

Sri Chinmoy: God is the only truth here on earth and there in Heaven. For the aspirant, God comes first. But that does not mean that he neglects or negates the world. No, far from it! He loves God. He loves humanity. He loves God because God is all Love. He loves humanity because inside humanity is God, the All-Love.

When we appreciate somebody's physical beauty, we are appreciating the outer beauty, which is infinitely inferior to the inner beauty. But if we can appreciate the inner beauty first, then we feel that the outer beauty can be appreciated in a divine way as the manifestation of the inner beauty. So when we appreciate outer beauty, we have to know that inside the outer beauty is the Supreme, the All-Beauty. We appreciate the outer creation because inside the outer creation is the inner creation, which is all joy, all harmony and all perfection.

An ordinary human being can never dare to possess true hope, true love, true inspiration, true aspiration, because according to him God is in Heaven or somewhere else. He does not feel the presence of God inside him, in front of him or around him. But a spiritual aspirant who is crying for God, who is constantly shedding soulful tears, trying to become one with God, feels that God is in the inmost recesses of his heart. He has not to go to the Himalayan caves in order to realise God. His God lives inside him. He feels that because God is inside him, God's creation also is inside him. A spiritual person always feels that God's entire creation is his home. God's entire creation is constantly being created and revealed with a new inspiration and a new aspiration inside the aspirant. He who has accepted spirituality in the truest sense of the term has first to feel that God is the sole reality. Then he will see that God's creation can never be separated from God.

Question: What is the relationship between individual and collective aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: Individual aspiration has to grow along with the collective aspiration. If one feels the need of realising God, this is his individual aspiration. With this aspiration he must enter into the collective world, because without entering into the collective world, he will have no existence of his own. His true existence lies in offering himself to the rest of the world. In the field of aspiration and in the field of realisation, individuality and collectivity must go together.

Question: If a person is satisfied with his own state of consciousness and has no particular desire to improve it, is this a mistake or a violation of the rights of his soul?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two types of satisfaction. One type of satisfaction we see in the laziest fellow. He is satisfied; he won't budge an inch. Although he has many desires, he does not want to satisfy any of them. He is satisfied with sleeping and enjoying the world in his own way. In spite of the fact that he knows nothing, he has nothing and he will have nothing, he is satisfied.

But there is another type of satisfaction. One who is divinely satisfied says, "God knows what is best for me. He has given me what I actually need. I am praying, I am concentrating, I am meditating and He is helping me. I am happy with Him. I know it is His business to give me full realisation, infinite Light, at His choice Hour. I am satisfied with what I am and what I have, and at the same time I am trying my utmost to realise God. I am making this personal effort with my utmost love, devotion and aspiration, but at the same time I am satisfied with myself." This is the satisfaction of the true aspirant who does not demand anything from God.

The first type of person has no desire, nothing. He does not want to make any progress. He is in the world of ignorance. That satisfaction with living in ignorance and doing nothing is no satisfaction; it is stagnation. The other type of satisfaction comes when we are praying, concentrating, meditating, doing our best and all the time feeling that God is our all-loving Father. We know that He will give us what we actually need at His choice Hour.

Then there is a third category that is in between these two. Those who belong to this category go along the way and fulfil some of their desires and then become satisfied; they do not want to make further progress. They know that the destination is farther, but they have walked a bit and they are satisfied. They feel that it is too difficult to go to the end of their journey. So they stop for some time. Now from the strict spiritual point of view, these souls are not aspiring; they are dead souls. The souls of the lazy, idle human beings that are not aspiring and also those who have started the journey and then stopped either because of their laziness or because their goal seemed very far are dead souls in the spiritual life.

If one is aspiring consciously with the soul, the physical, the vital, the mind and the heart, then naturally the soul will be most grateful to that aspirant. But if somebody does not aspire at all, if he has never thought of the spiritual life or if he has stopped caring for the spiritual life, the soul has infinite patience. It will never be frustrated. The soul has taken the responsibility for the entire being, and the soul is ready to wait for thousands of years for the co-operation of the other parts of the being. But at times it happens that the Supreme puts pressure on the individual through the soul. We cannot delay indefinitely. The soul's patience is infinite, but there is a limit to its duration. If one goes beyond the limit and the soul feels that the time is absolutely ripe for the individual to aspire to go beyond his ignorance-life, at that time the soul takes action. It gets the sanction and Blessings from the Supreme to put pressure on the individual.

So these are the two kinds of satisfaction. There is no violation of the soul in the case of lethargic satisfaction, but we have to say that these are dead souls. There is violation in a mild way, but actually one cannot violate the rights of the soul. God's ultimate Truth can be violated by no one, although some individuals delay their own progress. Eventually everybody has to reach the Truth and achieve the Truth, but we can delay our achievement with our ignorance and then we will not go as fast as the aspiring souls. True, lack of aspiration is a kind of subtle violation. You are postponing your aspiration. But the real violation is never to accept the Truth; and that violation can never be committed. We have to accept the Truth either consciously or unconsciously. If we do not accept it willingly, then we will have to accept it under pressure.

Question: You spoke of conquering desires and transforming desires into aspiration. How does one do this?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not only possible, not only practical, but inevitable. Each human being will transform desires into aspiration, either today or tomorrow. We are starting our journey with desire, but tomorrow we have to continue our journey with aspiration.

Your eldest and dearest son goes to school. Today you may pray to God, "O God, make my son stand first in the examination. How I wish that my son should be first!" This is your desire. But tomorrow you will pray, "O God, I do not want my son either to be first or to be last. I want him to be only what You want. Please give him true Wisdom, because You are Wisdom, You are divine Wisdom. He is my dearest son and I want him to have only divine knowledge, illumination. If You can give him illumination, I will be most grateful to You." In that way you are transforming your desire into aspiration.

When you desire something, you have to feel that at that time you are nowhere near your Goal. But when you aspire, you have to feel that the Goal is not elsewhere; it is deep, deep inside you. All your desires will be killed if you say only one thing: "Let Thy Will be done." If we want our human will to be fulfilled, then our aspiration immediately is dead. But in one prayer "Let Thy Will be done," we transform our desire into aspiration.

Question: Do we lose our desires after realising God?

Sri Chinmoy: If you have realised God, then you have no need to desire anything. God is everything and God gives you everything. Normally we have thousands of desires. As soon as one desire is fulfilled, we have another to take its place. Our desires are endless. But true aspiration for God is not a desire. It is a flame from our soul which is rising up, taking the heart and the mind with it, trying to unite our entire being with God. True aspiration brings God's help and His Grace, whereas desires end only in frustration.

Question: How can we best solve our problems?

Sri Chinmoy: We can solve our problems only if we know how to live the life of aspiration, the life of the soul. The soul is ever free. But when the soul enters into the body, as soon as we see the light of day, ignorance tries to envelop us. At that time fate starts its play.

It is our personal effort and God's infinite Grace which can change the face of our fate. A shoemaker's son becomes prime minister; a farmer's son becomes president; a beggar's son becomes a multi-millionaire. How? They have changed the face of their fate. What they needed was adamantine will. On the strength of our will-power we change our fate. Fate can be changed, is changed and must be changed by an unchanging will.

There are four significant spiritual words in Sanskrit: dharma, artha, kama and moksha. Dharma's literal meaning is virtue. If we follow an inner life of discipline and self-giving, then in our day-to-day activities we can acquire dharma.

Artha means wealth. It can mean inner wealth and it can also mean outer or material wealth. For an aspirant, artha is inner wealth; for an ordinary person, it is outer wealth.

Kama means desire. In the lowest sense it means the enjoyment of sex-life, but the root of the word is desire. As human beings we desire. When desire is transformed, it is called aspiration. Desire binds us, aspiration frees us. When we live in aspiration, we enjoy the Peace, Bliss, Light and Power of divine Freedom. When we live in desire, we bind and imprison ourselves every second, every moment of our earthly life.

The fourth word is moksha. Moksha means liberation. Liberation from what? Liberation from ignorance, liberation from limitation and imperfection, liberation from the past: this is moksha.

When we live in dharma, we cannot free ourselves totally from fate. Free will cannot embrace us at that time. When we live in artha, if we cry for inner wealth, then we are running towards the infinite. But if we cry for material wealth, then we are binding ourselves constantly. If we live in the world of kama, then we will ask for one house, two houses, three houses; there will be no end to our hankering. Each time we desire, we enter into the futile world of nothingness. But each time we aspire for moksha, we free ourselves from the prison cell of ignorance and death.

Question: How do I overcome the obstacles of ignorance?

Sri Chinmoy: How do you overcome ignorance? With your aspiration. Always try to cry inwardly to overcome ignorance-sleep. When you sleep you don't cry; but when you cry you can't sleep. When a child is really sleeping, he cannot cry; he has to awaken first. And when he is pinched with hunger and crying for nourishment, then he can't sleep. The outer cry is for name and fame; the inner cry is for Peace, Light and Bliss. If you can cry for Peace, Light and Bliss, then ignorance-sleep will automatically leave you.

Question: Can anything stand as an obstruction to our aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: Very often we see that death is an obstruction to the aspirant. Almost all souls, in spite of being very great and spiritual, forget their past achievements, past aspirations and deepest inner cry when they take a new incarnation. For twelve or thirteen years they remain in ignorance. Sometimes it happens that spiritual souls do not regain their past aspiration until the age of fifty or sixty. The fifty or sixty years during which these individuals have not been consciously aspiring are absolutely meaningless from the spiritual point of view. So in this incarnation they have lost fifty or sixty years and in their past life also their aspiration was cut short by death. That means that perhaps eighty years have been wasted. In this case death is a real obstruction.

Aspiration should be like a bullet. It should pass through the death-wall. Death is obstruction for the sincere aspirant who cries to realise God in this life here on earth. For non-seekers it will take hundreds or thousands of incarnations to realise God anyway. But for genuine aspirants who cannot live without God-realisation and who want realisation here and now in this incarnation, death is a real obstruction. We have to remove death's obstruction with our aspiration.

Question: What can one do when one feels his aspiration fluctuating? At times I have a feeling of emptiness and nothingness.

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, you have to know that all spiritual figures have said that in our spiritual lives we have to go through a 'desert'. We cannot live on an oasis all the time. There are always dry periods. Not one spiritual figure on earth can claim that he has not suffered through these dry periods. When we cross this barren, empty desert we feel that there is no aspiration. However, we have to feel that aspiration is there, although right now we seem to be on an endless journey.

How can we escape from this desert? There are four different ways. In your case, let us say that every day your appointed time for meditation is six o'clock in the morning. But for the past two days you have been unable to go deep within or meditate sincerely, and now you are frustrated. At that time you should choose a spiritual book written by a realised soul or by a devotee who is full of devotion for his spiritual Master. Then, while reading the devotee's book, you will see your whole body become a flood of tears. You will shed tears, tears, tears of delight. To read any book written by a spiritual Master or devotee at the time of a dry period in our spiritual life is one of the most effective ways of returning to the zenith of our spiritual aspiration.

But what if you don't have a book written by an illumined soul or a devotee? What will you do then? The second method is to immediately go and mix with your brother and sister disciples. Being with your spiritual family will drive away those negative forces. With your brother and sister disciples you will have spiritual conversations. You will appreciate your Guru and God and how they have shown you such Love, Concern, and Compassion. In the beginning you may feel that you are such a hypocrite in saying, "Oh, I am now in a miserable condition and I am appreciating my Guru or God." But you will see that if you just start appreciating your Guru or the Supreme, immediately you will shed tears. These tears come directly from your soul. And your soul will then unite you again with your highest aspiration.

Now the third method for curing a dark, dry period in your life of aspiration is to repeat the name of God or the Supreme, or your Guru's name, or even your own name, if your Master has given you a spiritual name. The name that he has given you is the name of your soul. Just repeat the name and do not think of the meaning; only repeat it just like a child learning how to read or study. At that time he will repeat the lesson by rote without learning the meaning. In this way immediately the consciousness of your soul's name or the name of your Master or the name of the Supreme will enter into your entire body.

The fourth method is to keep a spiritual diary. During your spiritual journey, you have to write down notes of your soul-illumining experiences, visions and inner feelings. Today you are in despair, in darkest night. But two months ago you were in the brightest Light. You had a wonderful experience. You saw that Krishna was playing the flute right in front of you, or you saw a flood of Delight and your whole existence became a sea of Delight. These experiences should be recorded in your diary. As soon as you read your diary, your inner being will respond to the highest experiences you had two months ago. Then immediately the inner feeling, the inner Joy, the soul's joy will drive away your despondent feelings of misery, loneliness and frustration. So whenever you have good experiences, high experiences, elevating experiences during your meditation, please write them down.

These experiences are actually the living breath of our existence. If we can recollect our highest and deepest experiences at the time of our frustration, then we will get immediate relief. These experiences are not based on falsehood. It is we who have had all these divine spiritual experiences and they will cure the disease which we have right now. Sooner than at once we shall be cured.

Question: Sometimes when I sit down to meditate, it is very spontaneous; I don't have to do anything. But why is it sometimes so difficult to get into a meditative state?

Sri Chinmoy: First I wish to tell you that every day we cannot eat the most delicious food, although that is our wish. In the spiritual life also, especially in the beginning, it is next to impossible to have a most successful meditation every day. Even spiritual Masters have gone through dry periods in their inner life. So for beginners in the spiritual life to have this kind of experience is not at all blameworthy.

Now how is it that every day we cannot meditate well? We cannot meditate well because we do not renew early in the morning our love, our devotion, our surrender to the eternal Pilot in us. Every day the eternal Pilot feeds our inner hunger. For an aspirant, spiritual food is more necessary than material food. Still we do not offer our deepest gratitude to the Inner Pilot even for one second.

The divine secret is this: the very act of praying, of concentrating, of meditating is a great sign of divine Grace. So, early in the morning, before you start meditation, try to offer your gratitude in the form of love, devotion and surrender to the Guru, to the Supreme, to the Inner Pilot just because He has given you the aspiration to meditate. Aspiration comes first. Your meditation will be the result of the aspiration which the Inner Pilot has given you.

A time will come when you will not have to meditate; meditation itself will meditate for you. That is to say, after some time you will be one with the consciousness of meditation. Now you are crying to enter into the consciousness of meditation, but a day will come when meditation will be pleased with you. It will take care of your outer life and your inner life.

So, to come back to your question, every day before you start your meditation, offer your gratitude in the form of love, devotion and surrender to the Supreme. Then, I can assure you, not even one day will you fail to have a golden meditation.

Question: Guru, sometimes when I have a very difficult problem I feel that I should do nothing before meditating on you or thinking of what you would like me to do. But at the same time I don't have the inspiration at that moment to meditate. What should I do?

Sri Chinmoy: When a difficult problem does not allow you to meditate, you have to feel that that problem is your real enemy. You do not allow an enemy to enter into your room. But if he has already come in, then either you have to push him aside or you have to call the police. If you are strong, if you have the power, then you can push your enemy aside. That is, you have to throw the difficult situation out of your mind. But if you see that your enemy is much stronger than you, then call the police. And who is the police? Here the police is my grace or the Grace of the Supreme. Just cry, "Guru, come, come to me with your grace and compassion!" The divine police will immediately come in the form of compassion. This compassion will throw the enemy out of your mind-room and solve the difficult problem.

Question: In spite of the fact that we want inner realisation and inner light, we find it difficult to fight against outer disturbances. Why is that so?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all we have to know how much aspiration we have. If we have boundless aspiration — that is to say, our inner cry must be constant — then this aspiration will climb up while God's Grace descends. When our aspiration and God's Grace become one, detachment will play its role in our life. At that time we will feel that the outer world was disturbing only because we were seeing the outside world in a limited way.

A real spiritual person sees that the outside world is not something in a geographical area, but something in a plane of consciousness right inside his own being. When we see a stranger, we do not know whether he will disturb us, attack us or torture us. But when we see something inside us, we know it is ours and we have no fear. If we are aware of something divine inside us, then it becomes very easy for us to fight against all outside forces. Our aspiration burns away the outside forces of impurity and imperfection while at the same time it clears up all that is disturbing our inner consciousness.

There can be nothing more powerful than our aspiration. The very nature of our aspiration is to give us what we are actually striving for. Very often we confuse aspiration with desire. Aspiration is not desire. Far from it! Aspiration is something that wants to enter into the infinite Light, Bliss, and Power. Desire wants only to grab, grab, grab and possess. Desire coming from the vital acts like a mad elephant, always breaking, always destroying. Aspiration is not like that. With aspiration we grow into the very thing that we want to achieve. And what do we want to achieve? Divinity, God the all-pervading Consciousness. The achievement of aspiration we cannot grab or possess. Only by entering into the all-pervading Consciousness and becoming one with this Consciousness can we grow into God's Light, Bliss and Power. This is what aspiration does.

The flame of aspiration has been kindled in you and it is burning most effectively. When you allow it to blaze fully, you will see that the outer world, the disturbing world, is actually deep inside you. Then the things that have to be burnt will be burnt and the things that can be transformed will be transformed. Aspiration will take care of all that. There is no other way to fight outer disturbances than to keep the flame of aspiration burning constantly.

Question: My aspiration seems to take two forms. One is a dynamic cry and the other can best be described as a relaxed, peaceful kind of feeling. Which is preferable?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know whether the relaxed feeling is actually your inner voice or a kind of lethargic feeling. Sometimes, after meditating for half an hour, people feel that they have done something remarkable. They think that they can relax for hours because they have played their role. But your inner cry must be constant and dynamic. Then after you have meditated for two or three hours the flow of dynamic aspiration will surcharge your entire being. Then, gradually you will get inner peace in the body, in the vital, in the mind and in the heart.

In the beginning you have to work hard. You have to struggle in order to cry constantly. But once you are in motion, there is no worry. When you want to drive a car you have to turn the key and do various other things. But when the engine is running, at that time you can relax. Similarly, in meditation you need the dynamic inner cry first. Then only can you get the divine peace and poise.

Now real spiritual poise is not a matter of self-deception. But inside us there are many forces that try to convince us that we have done something wrong. In your case, especially because you are a disciple of mine, I wish you to pay all attention to your dynamic inner cry. Your dynamic inner cry will lead you to your Goal. If it is the Will of God, then while you are marching or running towards the highest Beyond, God will give you a special message about the best type of aspiration for you.

Question: When the aspirant feels that his spiritual progress has stopped and it is difficult to meditate, what should he or she do?

Sri Chinmoy: It is quite possible to get back that aspiration and there are various ways to do so. The first way is to repeat the name of your spiritual Master. Or if you do not have a Master, then you can repeat 'AUM' or 'Supreme'. You should repeat the name while breathing in. There is no need of counting how many times you are doing it. You may repeat the name inwardly and silently as well as aloud. While you are breathing in, repeat it silently three times. You will be more than able to do this. Then you can repeat it aloud. From head to foot, make the word vibrate. This is one approach.

The second way to get back one's aspiration is to feel that it is just like a lamp. Let us assume that the wind has blown it out, so the flame is not burning any more. You need light. Now, who can give you light? One who has a burning flame of aspiration. So, when a particular aspirant is losing or has lost his aspiration, immediately he should go to another aspirant in whom the aspiration is ablaze.

Another secret is to compare the times when you had aspiration with this time when you don't have aspiration. When you had aspiration, what did you feel? And now that you don't have aspiration, what are you feeling? Try to see how many experiences you had at the time of your intense aspiration. Suppose one year ago I had intense aspiration. At that time twenty, thirty or forty higher experiences I had. Let me gather together all the experiences right in front of my mind, one after another. What vision did I have? Did I see the Light? Did I see an aura? Did I see another world? Did I see something else? All these experiences you have to bring back. While you are collecting your past experiences from the time when you had intense aspiration, you will see that those experiences are giving you a new life. The life that you have had for the last few months, which has been like a barren desert, will now be watered by the experiences that you had a year ago.

Question: How can I increase my aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: There are quite a few ways to increase one's aspiration. One very easy way is to mix with people who you feel have more aspiration than you have. In school if you mix with a better student, then naturally you will be able to observe why he is getting better marks than you are getting. He is studying hard or he knows some secrets; that is why he is getting better marks. Similarly, by observing how someone has disciplined his life, you can increase your aspiration. So always try to mix with someone who is one step ahead of you. That doesn't mean that you should look down upon someone who is inferior in your estimate. Far from it! You will show him your sympathy and love, but you have to feel that you can learn from the one who is above you. Again, that person will not be your ideal. Your ideal has to be only God or your spiritual Master. But you can try to see what good quality makes a person better than you.

This is not imitation; you don't have to be a carbon copy of anyone. You need not spend all your time thinking of how the other person is meditating, but if you see that an individual has increased his aspiration by meditating at four o'clock or five o'clock, then you will also be inspired to meditate early in the morning. Again, if you see that that person is doing better meditation because he has not yet eaten, then you will also meditate the next time without having eaten. These are some of the outer ways to observe the person who you feel is doing better meditation than you.

The inner way to increase your aspiration is always to feel the inner cry. You desperately need God-realisation. God-realisation is not theoretical; it has to be practical. You have to eat. You know that feeling oneness with others while they eat is not enough. You yourself have to eat. True, while others are eating you can feel that you are also eating. Otherwise, if somebody is eating and you don't have the capacity to identify yourself with that person, then you only feel jealous, frustrated and miserable. But identification is not enough. First you have to get the theoretical oneness and then you bring it to the practical level. Practical oneness means that you yourself have to eat. Then you try to feed others who are hungry.

In the spiritual life the best way to increase one's aspiration is to think of one's own Master twenty-four hours a day, if possible. You have to know that for you to think of your Master or meditate twenty-four hours a day right now is impossible. But for one or two hours you can read your Master's writings, for one or two hours you can mix with other disciples; then one or two hours you can spend speaking about your Master to friends who know nothing about him.

Very often by speaking about the Master to others you can increase your own aspiration. Suppose today you have no aspiration at all. If somebody who is an absolute beginner asks you something about your spiritual Master, then you have to speak. You are not fooling the person even if you have no aspiration at that time. You have to go deep within in order to see if you have any aspiration at all in your life. Immediately you will see that hundreds of times you have had the aspiration-cry. So you bring that aspiration forward. Then while you are talking to that person, automatically your aspiration is increasing. Suppose today you don't have aspiration but just two days ago you had tremendous aspiration. Somebody has just read something about your Master in the newspaper and wants to know more about him. If you do not speak to that fellow because you are not aspiring and you are doubting your Master, then you are destroying your own possibilities. It is God inside this seeker who has come to you only to increase your aspiration. God is more concerned at this time about you. You have been sincere for two months or six months and just today your aspiration is low. So God out of His infinite Compassion is coming to you in the form of a seeker or a curiosity-monger so that He can again kindle the flame of aspiration in you. There are many ways to increase our aspiration when it is low. But the best way is to think only of the Master, to talk about him, hear about him, and read all his writings.

If your Master has written only one book, or even if he has not written any book but there is a book of his sayings, that book is more than enough for all the disciples who are following his path. If you say, "I have already read all my Master's writings," then you have to know that to read them once is not enough. You have to read and re-read them all. But one book may give you more inspiration than the rest. Now that particular book every day you should read. Some disciples read a book once and then say, "I have read it." If you read with your mind only, even though you read the same line both today and tomorrow, then you may not get any inspiration. But if you read with your heart, then from each word you will get boundless aspiration. Each day you will see new light in your Master's writings. From each word you will get new light. In India some seekers select one spiritual book and read it again and again. There are seven hundred couplets in India's gospel, the Bhagavad Gita. It takes three or three and a half hours to read and there are some people who read the book every day. Some seekers don't read any other book. They read this book again and again in order to be purified. And every day they are getting new inspiration, new aspiration from that book. Everyday you too can get new revelation. What is revelation? It is the fruit of your aspiration. So if you read your Master's writings, not as you read a newspaper, but with the feeling, "Today I am going to get new revelation," then you are bound to get it.

While you are working at your job you cannot read, or your boss will fire you. But if you at that time repeat the Supreme's name or your spiritual Master's name or if you visualise your Master, how will your boss know what you are doing? You are not deceiving your boss. Far from it! But you know that there is a superior boss and that is God. You may say, "How can I please two bosses?" I wish to say that if you satisfy the absolutely superior boss, God, then your salvation is assured. Naturally you have to perform your earthly duties. God has made one individual your temporary boss and this boss is paying you for your labour. With this money, you can stay on earth and lead a spiritual life, which is absolutely necessary. Satisfying your earthly boss is not undivine cleverness or shrewdness; it is wisdom. So you have to work six or seven hours a day for this boss. But during the rest of the time you can meditate, mix with other disciples, and read your Master's writings. In that way you can easily spend fourteen or fifteen hours a day in your Master's consciousness. If this is not aspiration, then what else is aspiration? A spiritual Master embodies realisation. If you are constantly knocking, knocking, knocking at his heart's door with your intense inner cry, then naturally he will come out and give you the key. How many hours a day are you devoting to him? If you spend only five minutes in his consciousness and the rest of your day is gone, wasted, then naturally it will take you longer to reach your goal. But when you are very devoted and surrendered, then you will see for how many hours and in how many ways you can remain in your Master's consciousness. Then your aspiration will increase. When aspiration bears fruit, realisation dawns.

Question: For two weeks or so I may be in a high consciousness, but then my consciousness begins to descend. How can I sustain a high consciousness for an indefinite period?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, I would like to tell you that you are not alone in your suffering. All spiritual aspirants, with no exception, have gone through these ups and downs in their spiritual life. Sometimes we feel that we are walking through beautiful green forests and meadows. But then we find ourselves walking through deserts in scorching heat.

Many spiritual Masters have also had such experiences before realising God, even though their standard is infinitely higher than that of the average aspirants. They sometimes have to experience these spiritual deserts. In the case of some Masters this spiritual dryness lasts for a short period, while for others it lasts for a long, long time. They have to journey millions of miles in the spiritual life. But sometimes, even when they are on the verge of realising the highest Truth, the darkest doubt eclipses their vision and they doubt the very existence of God. Fortunately, the Divine Grace intervenes and saves them from a catastrophe. It does not allow them to fail in their mission.

Now, in your case, I wish to tell you that as a seeker, as an earnest aspirant, every day you must make it a point to meditate. Just as you eat every day to maintain your physical strength, in the spiritual life you must meditate every day, because meditation is your spiritual food. True, you may not get your highest meditation every day, but that must not discourage you. You may not meditate well for a time, but do not give up. You will see that, like a kite, you will again fly very high.

In the spiritual life we should always try to be wise. The thought, the idea, the feeling that is not helpful has to be discarded like a dirty or worn-out garment. When you don't have a good meditation, just forget about it. I always say that the past is dust. Try to throw the past aside as soon as possible. On the other hand, if you have a good meditation today, that does not mean that tomorrow you have to think of today's meditation. By doing that you are again relying on your past. Instead of thinking of your previous meditation, even a good meditation, you will make better use of your time if you pay more attention to your future self-discovery. If you start your meditation by thinking of the wonderful, significant meditation you had on the previous day, you will experience joy. But at that time you have to know that you are withdrawing the money that you have deposited in your inner spiritual bank instead of adding to the amount.

When you start your meditation, try to go deep within and feel that you exist only for one person on earth and that is God. In the spiritual life, there should be someone whom you can call your dearest and that is God, the Supreme. The Supreme has to be dearest not only to the end of our life, but through Eternity. Every day if you can increase your faith in God, then every day you are bound to have your best meditation.

Why do some people seem to have their best meditation every day? The main reason is that they renew their faith, love, devotion and surrender to God every day. Love, devotion and surrender is my path. Some people will say it is inscribed on the tablet of their heart. But that won't do. Every day you have to write it afresh with golden letters. Every day you have to feel that you are making a new attempt. The day you entered into the spiritual life, you offered your existence to God. But that offering was not complete and even today's offering is not complete. If you feel that your offering is complete today, tomorrow when you go deep within you will laugh at yourself and feel that you are far from perfect. But either tomorrow or in the near future or in the distant future, this offering is bound to become complete. Again, there is no end to our progress, no end to our achievement.

I wish to tell you that you can prevent depression in your meditation. You can have a feeling of achievement, a feeling of accomplishment from your meditation if you renew your love, devotion and surrender and think of God every day. Try to wear a new dress within yourself. Every day you wear a nice, clean dress to satisfy yourself and to satisfy the outside world. It is necessary and obligatory to do so. Similarly, in the inner world also it is obligatory to wear gold, blue, pink, white and green. When we wear blue, we enter into Infinity; when we wear green, we enter into dynamic new life; when we wear gold, we enter into the highest realisation and manifestation. Every day please try to wear an inner dress inside yourself. When you are wearing an inner dress, you will see that all your love, devotion, surrender and other divine qualities are bound to come to the fore. Then you will become a fresh flower, a flower of inner beauty, inner divinity and transcendental reality. You will see that every day is bound to give you progress. Every second will come to you with the message of progress and inner success. So please try from now on to renew all your divine qualities each day, early in the morning. You will then see that there can be no clouds in your inner sky. It is all sunshine.

Question: How can my aspiration be stronger and purer?

Sri Chinmoy: In your case, your aspiration is strong, it is pure. But now let us come to the comparative degree: you want to make it stronger and purer. I wish to say that you have to be strong and you have to exercise your inner freedom. When you exercise your inner freedom, your aspiration will automatically become stronger and purer. Right now you are not exercising your inner freedom. But if you know that something is good for you, really beneficial for your life, at that time you need not and must not have any fear.

There are many things which you know are absolutely good for you, but you are afraid of what others are telling you. You are listening to the members of your family. You have surrendered to others' wills and not to your own will, that is, to your soul's will. You have to do what you feel right from within, what comes directly from the Supreme within you. Right now you feel, "If I say this to my father or mother, then I won't be able to go to school; they will throw me out of the house." But when you take this attitude, then you are not using your own will. You have to say to yourself, "Whose child am I? God's child. Why have I to think of my human parents?" I am not saying anything against the human parents. But when you are determined to do something for God, the Supreme, then even if you are only thirteen years old, you can and you must exercise your own power.

You say that you are living in a land of freedom. Very often people use their limited freedom to lord it over one another. But when they have to use their own inner freedom to become something, to grow into something, to bring to the fore their own divinity, at that time most of them are silent. I am not saying that children have to fight against their parents. But when you are convinced that you are doing the right thing, when you are absolutely sure, at that time you must not surrender to the will of your parents. Although they are older than you, you have to know that God can speak through a child's mouth. The God within you is telling you what to do. In your case you are doing very well in your spiritual life. But if you want to do better, then use your will-power. I am your spiritual father. If you listen to God's Will within you, then I will meet with all the consequences to protect you, to save you, to show you new light.

Always be brave. Otherwise, today you will be afraid of an individual and tomorrow you will be afraid of a cat or a mouse or an ant. Fear is like that. When you are afraid of one thing, then before long you will be afraid of everything. But if you are not afraid of anything, then you won't be afraid of God. He is All-Powerful, but He is also All-Loving. Just because you know He is all Love, you approach Him. When you approach Him with love, you get His omnipotent Protection and everything else that He has and He is.

If you are afraid of ignorance in someone, no matter what the quantity, large or small, then you are surrendering consciously to the ignorance of that person. Then naturally his ignorance will enter into you. And ignorance itself is bondage. You may think, "Perhaps I did the wrong thing. What do I know? I am young." But just because you are a seeker, you know better than others. It is not your arrogance or stubbornness that is telling you this. You definitely know what to do because the soul within you is giving you the message of reality. The soul is all light, all illumination. When the soul tells you what to do, you have to feel that that is the only thing to do. So be brave inwardly; then strength is bound to come, purity is bound to come. If there is no strength in sight, then ignorance will devour us. Be brave, be brave.

Question: How can one increase one's inner drive, one's aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: There are various ways to increase one's inner drive or inner urge. If one is absolutely a beginner, if he has just entered or he is eager to enter into the spiritual life, then the first thing he has to do is to pray to God. What kind of prayer should he do? Prayer should be very simple, very sincere and spontaneous. Prayer is most effective in the early stages of the spiritual life because it is prayer that will increase the inner urge of the budding seeker. At the beginning when a person is just curious or only a little bit sincere in his spiritual activities, then we cannot call that person a seeker. But if one is about to jump or has already jumped into the sea of spirituality, if his spiritual life is certain, then we can say that he is a real seeker. The term 'inner urge' or 'inner drive' applies only to an aspirant.

Now if one is a step ahead in the spiritual realm, then he has to feel the necessity of God and the necessity of the fulfilment of God's Will on earth. The seeker knows that God has to be fulfilled on earth and he wants to take a conscious part in fulfilling God's creation. He is not satisfied with the rest of the world and he is not satisfied even with himself. If he wants a better creation in himself and in the world at large, then God is bound to give him an additional inner urge.

Then there comes a time when he feels that he can exist without anybody, without anything, but not without God. When the aspirant has that kind of inner conviction — that he does not need mother, father, brother, sister, wife, husband or anything, only God — at that point he has to be very careful. He has to see whether God wants him to make this kind of sacrifice or not. Just because he loves God more than he loves the rest of the world or humanity, it does not mean that he has to deny his nearest and dearest ones. No! Here in the field of manifestation he has relatives whom he calls dearest and who also call him dearest. If it is the Will of God that he should sacrifice everything, then he can sacrifice even his very existence. If God demands that he give up his so-called nearest and dearest ones, then he has to feel that his nearest is God, his dearest is God and nobody else. But God does not want him to leave his family and friends. God wants him to see the Divine inside everyone, inside his dearest friends, inside the members of his family. But at the same time he has to be prepared at any moment to give up everything if God wants him to do so. Then he will immediately run towards God, towards the ultimate Truth. If the seeker has that kind of surrendering attitude towards the fulfilment of God's Will, then God is bound to increase his inner drive in infinite measure. In your case also, I wish to say that if you can have this divine attitude, then God Himself will give what you want for your life.

Now I wish to speak generally in answer to your question about how one can increase one's inner drive. One can do it just by accepting the life of sincerity, the life of dedication, the life of absolute surrender. If one has a Master then he has to be absolutely sincere, absolutely dedicated and absolutely surrendered to the Master. Sincerity is his safeguard. One must have dedication to the Master and this dedication has to be total and complete. One must have surrender and this surrender has to be eternal and unconditional. If one has this kind of sincerity, dedication and surrender, then automatically, spontaneously, his inner drive is bound to increase, his aspiration is bound to increase.

Question: Guru, how can we increase our aspiration and keep it steady?

Sri Chinmoy: To keep your aspiration high, steady and constant, three things are required: faith in yourself as a seeker; constant faith in your Master's judgement; concern for what is done, not who does it — that is, has the task been accomplished? Who accomplished it is not the question.

In your case, you have faith in me in abundant measure, but you do not have as much faith in yourself as you should have. If one does not have enough faith in oneself, then it is extremely difficult to maintain the purest or highest type of faith in the Master all the time. The purest and highest type of faith in the Master has to be continuous and constant; and for that one has to have complete faith in oneself. One has to feel, "I am destined to manifest the Master. I am destined to take continuous part in the Master's cosmic Lila."

Then every day you have to see whether the needful is done, not who has done it. Unfortunately, when we see that a particular individual has accomplished something, we feel as if we had nothing to do with it. You may say, "Oh, the Supreme has appointed him to do this and not me. I am worthless. I am useless. I cannot do anything." Then immediately you start criticising yourself and belittling yourself, which is wrong. If a fellow disciple has done something divine, then please feel that you yourself have done it. Your aspiration is equally responsible for his manifestation of the Divine. When something is manifested, if you feel that your aspiration had something to do with it, then you maintain tremendous aspiration. Each individual seeker should feel when something is achieved on the physical plane that he or she is equally responsible for the divine victory. Our joint victory lies in the manifestation of the highest aspiration.

Early in the morning when you start meditating, try to make yourself feel just for a minute that today you will be able to manage without eating a morsel of food, without drinking even a glass of water — that without eating or drinking anything at all you will be able to survive for a day, even for a week. But you must feel that if you do not aspire well, if you do not meditate well, then in the evening death will come and capture you. Death means the destruction of your aspiration, not the physical death. Annihilation will capture your aspiration if you do not meditate well. If you take your morning aspiration very seriously, then automatically your aspiration will remain high. Always give aspiration its due value.

Then a tremendous power will come out of you. The thing that determines whether you live or die is your aspiration and not your material food. You have to feel that aspiration is responsible for your earthly evolution and your heavenly achievement. When you are wanting in aspiration, you don't exist. Aspiration is the only reality in your life. With this feeling, automatically you will be able to maintain your highest aspiration twenty-four hours a day.

Editor's preface to the first edition

Aspiration is the inner mounting flame that carries us to the highest realms of consciousness. In this book, the God-realised spiritual Master Sri Chinmoy answers questions about this essential spiritual quality. The questions were asked by seekers and disciples of the Master during the past six years.

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