Aspiration-Glow and Dedication-Flow, part 1

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Part I

//The following questions were answered by Sri Chinmoy at the Sivananda Yoga Society, San Francisco, California, on November 7, 1971.//

Question: What causes suffering?

Sri Chinmoy: Because of our wrong deeds, the negative, unaspiring, undivine forces have come into existence. When these forces enter into us, we suffer. This is one point of view. But again, whatever we call suffering, and whatever we call sinful, evil, undivine or unaspiring is also part of God. We experience God in and through everything. When we see suffering, immediately we feel that God is really cruel. This is our human way of judging God. But if we go deep within, we see that what we call suffering is nothing but an experience. And who is having that experience? God Himself. God is the Doer, God is the Action and God is the Fruit. This is what we realise from our inner spiritual life.

The human in us will see suffering as something horrible and undivine, but the divine in us will see it as God’s experience in the process of cosmic evolution. The higher we go, the clearer it becomes to our human mind that all the incidents that have taken place on earth are the experiences of God in and through each human being. Now, in God’s cosmic Lila (Game), we see multitudinous activities, countless forces operating all at once. But a day will dawn when the sincere seekers will realise the highest Truth and outnumber the unaspiring people, and then the undivine forces will have to give way. When a seeker consciously enters into the sea of Peace and Light on the strength of his aspiration, he becomes part and parcel of God’s Will. Then he does not commit the mistakes that unaspiring human beings commit. Unfortunately, right now, out of perhaps a million people, only one or two aspire; and again, out of those aspirants, a very limited few are extremely sincere in their spiritual life.

The world is progressing towards the Light, although this progress is very slow. Human suffering will come to an end, because God is all Delight. We came from Delight. On earth we are growing in Delight. At the end of our soul’s journey we shall return to Delight.

Our Vedic seers sang: Anandadd hy eva khalv imani bhutani jayante…: “From Delight we came into existence. In Delight we grow. At the end of our journey, into Delight we shall retire.”

This experience of Delight we develop when we meditate and pray. Most of us do not pray or meditate sincerely or soulfully; therefore, the existence of Delight is a far cry for us. But if we soulfully meditate and unconditionally surrender our day-to-day existence to the Almighty, to our Divine Father, then Delight will be our everyday reality. At every second we shall feel the presence of Delight. Our outer experience may be otherwise; it may seem painful or destructive. But in our inner experience we shall become inseparably one with the cosmic Will. In that Will there is no suffering. Suffering is in the human mind and in the earth-consciousness. But when we go beyond the earth-consciousness, when we offer our very existence to the Supreme and become part and parcel of His cosmic Will on earth, we see that there is no such thing as suffering. We see only an experience, a divine cosmic experience which God Himself is having in and through us.

Question: Why did God need this suffering? Why did God make it so that He would suffer in man's suffering?

Sri Chinmoy: As I said, the worst suffering is that in our human mind. You know if you pinch me, I shall suffer. If you give me a deliberate blow, I shall suffer. Yet suffering is painful because we take it as painful. Something may be painful to us, but in God’s Eye it is not like that; it is an experience. And that experience is like a stepping-stone.

There is day and there is night. We can say that night is darkness and it is full of undivine forces, whereas day is bright and divine. But again, we could think of night as rest and peace. If we enter into the very depth of night, we get peace, sublime peace. There we take rest and energise ourselves for the day, when we will enter into the battlefield of life.

We have to know that we are making progress; we are proceeding towards the Light. Right now let us say that there is a tunnel of suffering before us. But at the end of the tunnel there is light. Suffering is not the beginning and suffering is not the end. Light and Delight were the beginning and they will be the end.

In the process of evolution, the forces of suffering are making us stronger. Sooner or later we shall say “No” to suffering. We shall refuse to see the face of suffering; we shall see only the face of Light and Delight. This will be our determination. But if you ask, “Why should suffering exist at all?” then I wish to say that you call it suffering, but God does not call it suffering. He takes it as an experience, and when we become one with His Will, we also will take it as an experience. Right now we are not one with His Will, so suffering is suffering and joy is joy. We are separated from God by our limited mind. But if we remain in the wave of the cosmic Will, then we shall see that everything is an experience helping us to realise the Absolute.

Question: What should be the course and what is the merit of sex in human development?

Sri Chinmoy: The medical world will have its view, and the religious leaders will have their views, and each individual will have his own view. But from the spiritual point of view, I can say that when one is on the verge of realisation, or when one has realised God and one remains always in transcendental Delight, sex-life does not exist. Sex and immortal Delight can never go together. Sex is physical pleasure, and there is a great difference between earthly pleasure and divine Delight. Of course, from the seeker who is learning the ABC of spirituality or who has just completed his primary course, we cannot expect total celibacy. But for one who is about to be inundated with infinite Bliss and Light, sex is just like eating clay. Children often eat clay, but when they get older, they have no desire for it.

The question arises, how can a seeker solve this problem? The answer is to solve it gradually. If you drink five cups of tea daily, then try to drink only four for a few weeks. Then make it three, and after a few weeks make it two, then gradually one. If you try to stop drinking tea overnight, it will tell on your health. The best thing is to go slowly and steadily in the process of spiritual growth. One knows how often he indulges in vital life. Gradually, he should try to curb his vital movements, because his ultimate goal is to drink Nectar, immortal Bliss. Slowly and steadily he has to march towards the Goal.

So a seeker must know where he stands. If he aims at the highest Goal, then a day will dawn when he will have to give up sex-life altogether. If he wants to be satisfied with an iota of Peace, Light and Bliss, he can enjoy the romantic life; he can smoke and he can drink. But if he wants the Highest, and he is determined never to stop in his upward journey unless and until he has reached the Highest, then in the process of his spiritual evolution there will come a time when he can determine the value of the pleasure-life and the blissful life. Then he will give up the pleasure-life altogether, because he knows that pleasure is followed by frustration, and frustration is followed by destruction. A child may eat mud and sand, but when he grows up he eats only nourishing food. In the spiritual life also, for the beginner it is permissible within limits to have a lower vital life. But there comes a time when it is not only objectionable but also unnecessary. The wiser we become, the easier it is for us to know what is necessary and what is unnecessary. A wise man will do only those things that are necessary, whereas a fool will go on and on doing all kinds of unnecessary things all his life.

Whether or not one conquers the lower vital life depends entirely on whether the individual wants the Highest. If he wants the Highest, then a day will come when he will have to go far beyond the meshes of ignorance into the realm of Light and Delight. If he wants to be satisfied with his lower vital life, and at the same time meditate for five or ten minutes a day, then I wish to say that for him the lower vital life is permissible. His goal is not the ultimate Goal. But a sincerely aspiring seeker will one day give up the life of desire. He knows that desire is binding him all the time. That is why he has launched onto the path of aspiration, where he will get the sense of constant freedom. The higher he goes, the clearer becomes his vision that the life of pleasure and the life of Bliss can never go together. Each individual will deal with his own vital life according to his aspiration. Each individual will see how far he wants to go, and how much he has developed in his inner life. On the strength of his own inner development he can and will solve this problem.

Question: What words of advice do you have for a person who is trying to keep ego and pride in their proper places? In other words, how can one develop humility and wipe out the ego?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two types of ego. One ego says, “My and mine: there the reality ends.” The other ego says, “God is mine. The Almighty, the Infinite, is mine. How can I bind myself to an individual or to a family or to anything limited and limiting?” That ego does not bind; it frees. That is divine ego, or you can say that it is not ego, but it is the feeling of inseparable oneness with the Infinite Vast. An ordinary human being is satisfied with an individual or with the members of his family, but a spiritual seeker will be satisfied only with Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. When the divine ego comes forward, each aspirant can say, “I am God’s chosen child. How can I do this? How can I be so mean, how can I be so selfish, so undivine?” This feeling will always save us.

The Christ said, “I and my Father are one.” An ordinary human being might say, “How could he say such an egotistical thing?” But a seeker will say, “He is absolutely right. He has realised the Highest, and it is on the strength of his realisation that he says this.” An ordinary, unaspiring human being who is in the world of desire may feel that God does not exist, or he will say, “God is God. He is in Heaven and I am here on earth. I have no connection with Him.” But a seeker knows, “If God exists, then no matter where He is, there I, too, exist. There is no separation. Who brought me into the world? God. Who is the Source? God.”

Each time the undivine ego comes forward, we shall have to spread our wings and fly in the firmament of divine Reality. Then the undivine ego will die. The ego that binds us will disappear, and in its place will be the ego that gives us the feeling of universal Oneness. Then we will feel our reality; we will feel our life-breath in each individual. We will not be bound at all.

Now we come to humility and other divine qualities. In the spiritual life we have to know that three things are of paramount importance. First is simplicity. If we do not have a simple life, we cannot knock at God’s Door, and God will not be able to knock at our door. Then comes sincerity. If we have no sincerity, then it is useless for us to enter into the spiritual life. In the ordinary human life, we may be insincere and still become successful. But this success is only partial and temporary. In our spiritual life we do not get even an iota of success if we are not sincere. Only a really sincere seeker can make true spiritual progress. But he knows that simplicity is not enough and sincerity is not enough. Something else is needed, and that is humility.

This humility is not humiliation. We will not allow someone to lord it over us, to kick us all the time. No, this humility is our soul’s light spreading everywhere. God is the Highest, the Omniscient, the Omnipotent. But He descended; He condescended to enter into each human being. This is what our soul’s light tells us. When an ordinary human being gets thousands of dollars, he is bloated with pride. He will not talk to poorer people; it is beneath his dignity to mix with them. He feels that he has become very great. But look at the divinity of a tree. When a tree is not bearing fruit, it stands upright. But when it is loaded with fruits and flowers, when it has the real treasure, the real wealth, the tree bends down to offer us the fruits. When the tree is in full possession of its divinely given wealth, it bends down to offer it to humanity.

In the spiritual life, the higher we go, the greater is our self-offering. This self-offering is not an act of self-aggrandisement. We offer ourselves because we feel that only by offering what we have and what we are can we become totally one with the rest of the world. There is no feeling of superiority; there is only a feeling of oneness. And this feeling of oneness comes from the soul. When the soul’s light is offered to the world at large, it takes the form of humility. If a child wants something from his mother, she has to bend down to give it to him because she is so tall and he is so small. The seekers of the infinite Truth have to bend down to offer something to unaspiring, sleeping humanity. This humility of ours comes only from sincere aspiration. In sincere aspiration we see Light and grow into Light. And this Light has to be spread. It can be spread only when we have a genuine concern for the manifestation of God on earth. If the fruits remain on the topmost bough of the tree, they will be inaccessible and no one will be able to eat them. But when we see that the tree itself is bending down and eagerly offering its wealth, then we appreciate the tree’s kindness and generosity. So when we have peace, light and bliss, we have to offer them. The act of self-offering is a manifestation of God; and self-offering is achieved through humility, which is the light of the soul.

Question: Could you comment on the different methods of attaining liberation corresponding to the different ages?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us deal only with the present. You did not realise God in the past, so the past cannot help you. It is in the present or the future that you will achieve liberation. In your present state of evolution, what you need most is love and devotion. There are three principal paths to God-realisation: Karma yoga, the path of selfless action; Jnana yoga, the path of knowledge and wisdom; and Bhakti yoga, the path of love, devotion and surrender. In the present day, divine love is the quickest way to realise the Highest. The mind has played its role, especially in the West. The West has offered many mental giants to the world, but right now this country needs more of the wealth of the heart, which is love. And deep inside the heart is the soul.

The soul is everywhere within us, true. The light and consciousness of the soul permeates our whole body, from the soles of our feet to the crown of our head. But we know that there is a particular place where the soul actually abides: in the inmost recesses of the heart. In a person’s house there are many rooms, but the owner stays in one of these rooms most of the time. Although the entire house belongs to him, and is permeated with his consciousness, there is one room where he spends most of his time. If you want to be in closest contact with the owner, you have to stay in that particular room. The owner of our being is the soul. If we want a free access to the soul, we have to focus our attention, our concentration, on the heart. When we can receive the soul’s light, we can make the fastest progress.

All paths are equally important; no path is inferior. But we know the value of time. In the Western world we are always concerned with time and speed. There was a time when we had to be satisfied with the speed of a horse. Now we see how fast the jet plane goes! From here we can go to India by various means of transportation. But if we go by plane, we will reach India the fastest. Since in the outer life we are giving so much value to speed, it is also absolutely necessary for us to give the same value to speed in the inner life. If one is in a position to run the fastest, why should he crawl or just walk? If he has the capacity, let him run the fastest and reach the Goal as soon as possible.

God is already seated on His Throne inside the very depths of our hearts. If we want to make the fastest progress, if we want to reach the Highest as soon as possible, then the path of the heart, which is all love, devotion and surrender, must be followed. So here in the West, let us not think of the past, of what the Vedic Seers did, or of what other spiritual giants did. Let us think of ourselves and what we can do for our own perfection and for the perfection of the world. We have to know that unless and until humanity is perfected inwardly, we can never perfect the world-atmosphere. In order to be perfect, we have to enter into the very depths of our heart so that the light of our soul can come to the fore. We have to bask in the sunshine of our soul and then radiate that light, offering it for the illumination of the world-consciousness. So at the present stage, I wish to recommend to each seeker to follow the path of the heart — that is, love — sincere love, divine love, unconditional love.

Ordinary human love is always full of expectation. With our human love we feel, “I have done so much for that person; certainly he will also do something for me.” But in divine love there is no expectation, because we know that God has already given us all the good qualities that we need. If we are meditating, where has this capacity come from? It has come directly from God. So many people here on earth are not meditating, but we are meditating. Our meditation is a gift of God’s Grace. Long before we expected to meditate, long before we were aware of spirituality or of the Reality, He gave us aspiration, He gave us light, He gave us sincerity. He has given us everything; He has done everything unconditionally for us. Now let us do the same for Him. Let us pray, let us meditate, let us do everything to increase our aspiration. And, at the same time, let us wait for God to give us realisation at His choice Hour. This we can do only if we follow the path of the heart.

In the spiritual heart there is no demand. A mother gives and gives and gives to her child, simply because she loves him. If she is lucky enough, when the child grows up he will give to her in return. But very often he does not return her offering. He has his own life. But as the mother gives, she is blessed by God. The light, affection and other divine qualities which she gives to her child are blessings in themselves. In the spiritual life we must love God in this way, without expectation. We shall pray and meditate, and He who has given us the power to pray and meditate will undoubtedly give us His most delicious fruit, realisation, in His own time.

To come back to your question, in the present-day world the path of the heart is the fastest, and not the path of the mind or of the intellect. Those days are gone, they have played their role. Now, if we want to run the fastest in this world, then the path of the heart is the path to follow.

Part II

//These questions were answered by Sri Chinmoy at the San Francisco Sri Chinmoy Centre on 30 May 1973.//

Question: My cousin and I have meditated a couple of times, or at least we have just looked into each other's eyes, and we see different faces, and the hair changes and everything. I wondered whether these changes are real?

Sri Chinmoy: It is very true. These are past incarnations. You are seeing his past incarnation, and he is seeing yours. But it is not at all advisable for you to do this right now. If you are seeing your past incarnations, there may be tremendous difficulties. When you enter into the past incarnation, you may see some undivine forces. Even in this incarnation, as long as you have not realised God, there are many undivine forces inside you. When you meditate on each other this way, the undivine forces of one can enter into the other. It is very risky.

We have to keep progressing and progressing. If we dig into our past, until three or four incarnations ago, we will see that we were all animals, although in the human body. Even in our first human incarnation here on earth, we were animals in human form. There are many, many people on earth who are absolutely animals, although they have human bodies. In Jamaica, in Canada, in Puerto Rico, in New York, when I walk along the street, I see people who have just entered the human kingdom. What can you expect from them? Their consciousness is more animal than human. If you look into your own past incarnations, you may consciously be bringing forward your animal consciousness. If you were a saint in a previous incarnation, then naturally the saint consciousness will come forward. But if you were a saint before, then in this incarnation you will be a greater saint. In this incarnation, if you become a saint, next incarnation you will be greater, and in the next, you will be still greater. The past, I always say, is dust. Has the past given you realisation? No. It did not give you realisation. If it had given you realisation then you would not be here struggling. From the past you did not get what you actually want now.

Question: Does it help to know what kind of animal you were, if you were a good animal like a bird or a reindeer?

Sri Chinmoy: Suppose you were a deer. Now, there are some advantages and some disadvantages. The advantage is that if you were a deer in your last animal incarnation, then you will think of your speed. You will see that you ran very fast. You will think, “Even in the animal incarnation I ran so fast, and at that time I did not have the advanced soul which I now have.” The soul is the same, but it is progressing and advancing. There is a soul in this sofa, a soul in this carpet, and a soul in me. But the soul is much more manifest inside me. If you know that in your past incarnation you ran really fast, you will say, “Let me now continue to run with utmost speed.”

Once you know something, it becomes very easy to learn again. If you ran fast in your past incarnation, then in this incarnation also you can run very fast. This is the advantage. I achieved God-realisation in a previous incarnation, so in this incarnation it took me only a year or so to realise God after I consciously began praying and meditating. If you know something that you can utilise positively, you will get inspiration. But again, if you know that in a past incarnation you were something very great, while in this incarnation you are nothing, then you will curse God. You will curse yourself. You will say, “I was so great. If I was so great, how is it that in this incarnation I am so useless?” Then you will feel miserable. You will think, “I have done something wrong and I do not even know it,” or “God is harsh. God does not care for me.” It is very easy to blame God.

On very rare occasions do people properly utilise the knowledge of their past incarnations. Unfortunately, what happens is this. If a past incarnation is not encouraging, if in my past incarnation I did not run fast at all in the spiritual life, if I was an ordinary person, or let us say, even a thief or something bad, then I will become frustrated. If we do something wrong in this incarnation, it takes us a few months to come out of despair and frustration. We say, “I was so bad. I did this, I did that. Now how am I going to become pure? How am I going to be God’s instrument? How am I going to realise God?” If you did something seriously wrong four years ago, it may still bother you.

The best thing is to forget about it if you have done something wrong. Just say, “I put my finger into fire and burned it. Now I do not want to do it again.” My advice is always to forget about the past. My feeling is — the past is dust. Only on rare occasions can you think of the past as an encouragement. If you know that you have to run 100 metres, and you ran 10 metres in your past incarnations, then you only have to cover 90 metres more. Now you have help; you are under the guidance of a spiritual Master who can inspire you and guide you. You know that you have the capacity to run. Now if somebody is guiding you, you will be able to cover the other 90 metres much faster.

If you do not get inspiration from your past, it is always a disadvantage to know that you were very great or very bad. If you were great in one field, and now God wants to make you great in some other line, you might misunderstand Him. And if He does not want to make you great, if you are ordinary, you will feel that He is really useless and cruel. It is better just to start from the beginning like a child. You may not remember where your starting point was, but you do know where the goal is.

Question: Are you always aware of what your disciples are doing?

Sri Chinmoy: It is up to me. I can be fully aware if I want to be. But I do not always want to be aware. With my human eyes I can look at something and see it, but I do not have to absorb it. I am looking at my picture now, but I do not want to see whether I have a garland on. My inner beings can do that job. I have faith in them. They are very good instruments. My physical body may enjoy relaxation by spending time talking to you, but the spiritual inside me has no rest.

Question: How can we avoid making mistakes in our meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: When you are learning something, it is so difficult to do it properly. But when you become an expert, it is impossible to do it the wrong way. In the spiritual life also, before you become an expert you make many, many mistakes during meditation. But when you really become an expert, even if you try to make a mistake, it is not possible. The correct method will be something normal and natural for you. Right now God-realisation is an abnormality, an unnatural thing for you people. But, the moment you realise God, you will see that there is nothing so normal, so natural, so close as that.

Question: Can you tell us something about the predominant qualities of America?

Sri Chinmoy: In America, the dynamic vital, but not the aggressive vital, is of paramount importance. There are various places in the world where the aggressive vital is more to the fore, but here in America I see the dynamic vital most of the time. Again, you have to know that we are still imperfect. The vital is like a knife. With a knife we can cut a fruit and share it with others. Let us say that that sharing is done by the dynamic vital. With the same knife, if I stab you, then that is the aggressive vital. The same instrument can be dynamic or aggressive.

I appreciate America for its dynamism. If you are dynamic, you run towards your goal. If you do not know where the goal is, then you may run from this side to that side, but it is better to move than to remain static. There are many people in India and other parts of the world who are wallowing in the pleasures of idleness. They live in eternal time. They think that one day God will come and stand before them and say, “All right, since you could not think of Me, it is My duty to think of you.” But that is absurd.

Americans are running. They are not sure of the goal, but they are constantly on the move. They go to one side and run into a wall and get hurt. Then they go to another side, and the goal is not there, so they get another blow. But at least they go. If they sit still, worrying that perhaps on this side there is a wall or on that side there is a hole, then they will not make any progress at all. This dynamism is the thing that I deeply appreciate and admire in America.

I have hope for the places where I notice dynamism. But there are places where there is no dynamism, and I have very little hope for their progress. In Europe presently, people still live in the mind. The mind is not a bad thing. The mind can be a very good instrument, later on, but not now. The mind that we are now using is the physical mind, which constantly doubts and suspects. It is limited and full of darkness. But there are other higher minds — the illumined mind, the intuitive mind, the overmind. We are not using these higher minds right now. First we have to live in the heart and bring the soul’s light into the mind. Europeans are mental people. They find it difficult to appreciate the heart’s qualities. Some, however, are trying hard to open their hearts.

Another good quality of Americans is that they appreciate everything, like children. A child appreciates everything without discrimination. God is a divine Child. He appreciates everything. When His son or daughter gives Him anything, He is so highly pleased, even if it is just a grain of sand. He says, “If you had wanted to keep that grain of sand for yourself, you could have, but you gave it to Me.” Americans are like that, too. America has a big heart. When it is a question of the heart’s magnanimity, America is very advanced. America makes mistakes, but who does not make mistakes? Mistakes we all make, but America does not know how to hesitate. The best quality in the spiritual life is not to hesitate once you know your goal. Even if you do not know your goal, run! Then God’s Compassion will dawn because you are running, because you are on the move. Once you feel that your goal is not where you are, your goal is somewhere ahead of you, then you have to run.

America has the willingness to see, and to accept or reject, rather than to first hesitate. There are many parts of the world that hesitate and hesitate and hesitate, until it becomes too late. In any race if you hesitate and hesitate before you start to move, in the meantime, your opponents just win the race!

Question: Can you speak about the connection between the great spiritual Masters?

Sri Chinmoy: Sri Krishna, the Buddha, and Jesus Christ are the same, only in different forms and different names. You cannot separate Krishna from the Christ or the Buddha from the Christ. They are all one. Sri Ramakrishna, a great spiritual Master, the Master of Swami Vivekananda, said, “He who is Rama, He who is Krishna, in one form is Sri Ramakrishna.” Here in the West we have the tendency to say that Christ is the only saviour. But the only saviour is God, the Supreme, Christ’s Father, let us say. When Christ said, “I and my Father are one,” he was absolutely right. He claimed this on the strength of his highest realisation. Others can also claim this on the strength of their own realisation. It is up to you to believe them or not. You can discredit their realisation but they will not be the loser. They have eaten the mango and they know how delicious it is. If you say, “No, you have not eaten it,” that is fine. But since they have eaten it, they are satisfied. Jesus is the Son, the Liberator, the Saviour. But we have to know that he, Krishna, Buddha and other great Masters are all one.

Question: Do you feel that there is really any significant spiritual progress taking place in the world right now?

Sri Chinmoy: Most of the spiritual Masters have been recognised, accepted and worshipped only after they have left the physical body. But now, the world has progressed. In the modern world, aspiration has increased. On the one hand, you see the Vietnam war, but on the other hand, the divine Light is being received by many. There are now quite a few spiritual Masters on earth. These Masters are not all God-realised, but they are trying in their own way to help mankind. If a so-called spiritual Master is not God-realised, he is like a teacher who has not received his university degree. He is in a position to teach a kindergarten student. From these Masters, you can learn Hatha yoga and a little philosophy. By doing Hatha yoga you will not realise God, but if you practise a few Hatha yoga postures it does help to keep better health and to have a little relaxation.

You cannot expect to get your Master’s degree in kindergarten, but you can learn something there. But to say that kindergarten or primary school lessons are enough, is foolishness. You can take Hatha yoga all your life without making an iota of spiritual progress. If you go to India, many Indian village people will be able to do all the most difficult exercises in a twinkling of an eye. But the life they lead is an animal life. Hatha yoga can help you physically if you want to do it for ten or fifteen minutes. But a spiritual aspirant need not spend an hour or two. You will be wasting your precious time.

To come back to your question, I wish to say that the world, especially the Western world, is crying for light. Very often people ask me on the radio and on television, “How is it that the Christians in the Western world are moving away from the Church and coming to Indian spiritual Masters? What is wrong with Western religion?” I say that nothing is wrong. But the seekers who come to spiritual Masters have looked for something in the Church which they did not find. That is why they are now looking to the Indian Masters to see if they can get it there. What is that thing? It is inspiration, and inside inspiration is aspiration. True Indian spiritual Masters embody inspiration and aspiration. The Western aspirants can see the difference between the sermon of the priest and the life he leads. There is often a yawning gulf between what he says and what he is.

Three years ago, I was speaking at Yale University. A professor of philosophy was sitting beside a student of his. During the question and answer period, the professor asked me, “How is it that when I invite questions and answer them, my students don’t pay any attention? They smoke and put their feet on the benches and all kinds of things. How is it that they are showing you such respect? You have given a talk on philosophy and now they are full of appreciation and admiration. I also teach philosophy. But they are looking at you with rapt attention.” So the student immediately stood up and answered the question for me. “Sir, there is a slight difference between you and this spiritual man,” he said. “That’s why we are behaving in a different way.” The professor says the same thing as the spiritual man. Perhaps he says it in a more mental and convincing way, in an academic way, but people can see the difference. When a sincere aspirant speaks about spirituality people will run to listen to him. But if you do not follow a spiritual life, nobody is going to be inspired by your spiritual philosophy. Everybody has a heart to feel whether there is any sincerity behind your words.

Question: What is the difference between a God-realised Master who doesn't want disciples but wants to stay where he is, and someone like you, who wants disciples?

Sri Chinmoy: Some people have played the game and they are tired. They have played, but now they do not want to teach the game to anybody else. Carlos says, “I have learned how to play the guitar. That is enough. I don’t want to teach anybody else. It is too difficult. I have achieved my goal. Now why should I waste my precious time? Let me now enjoy my achievement.” Learning is so difficult and teaching is also difficult. Some people say, “It took us years and years of struggle to learn this. Now again it will take years and years of struggle to teach somebody else.” So they do not want to do it. There are many people in this world who were students once upon a time and then became teachers, but there are many who have completed their studies but do not want to teach. They just go into some other line of work.

Of course, there is a difference in the spiritual life. If one does not want to teach after one has realised God, he may not teach outwardly, but his very presence on earth is a great blessing and help to others, because he offers his good will to everyone. The good will of a God-realised soul has tremendous power. Right now I am actively trying to be of service to you, to the world. But even if I had stayed in a Himalayan cave after realising God, I would have had only good will for the world. At that time, there is no evil will, no ego, no jealousy, no negative forces. But in my case, my feeling of oneness with humanity made me feel that after my own God-realisation, unless and until everybody else was realised, I would remain imperfect. I have realised God, but perfect perfection will be achieved only when everybody has realised God.

A God-realised soul is not a fool. When he discovers that he is incomplete and imperfect, naturally he will try to offer his help to others so that they will lead better lives and realise God sooner. The very fact that a spiritual Master offers good will is enough, for his good will has tremendous power. When everybody realises God, then the Yogi will be complete.

Question: Guru, in one of your plays there was a king who was jealous of a spiritual Master. So he went and realised God, and after he realised God, he was still jealous. How is that possible?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know that realising God is like touching the foot of a tree. When you have realised God, you have touched the foot. Then you have to climb up to the top. If you do not have the capacity or the wish to climb higher, you remain at the foot. If you have the capacity to climb up to the Highest, then you will be able to perfect your human nature, which means to transform jealousy, anger, pride, ego and so on. But some God-realised souls are afraid that once they come down from the tree, perhaps they will not be able to climb up again. So they go up a few branches and then stay there. But if someone has the capacity to climb up to the Highest and again climb down to help mankind, then he will accept disciples and help those who are unable to climb up. He will teach them, inspire them, or place them on his shoulders and then climb up. He will take some up, and then he will come down again and take up a few more on his shoulders. If one has the capacity to climb up and climb down, to carry humanity up and then climb down again, that person will not have this kind of difficulty.

Touching the foot of the tree is also realisation, because the realisation-tree is very tall. So you have to know whether someone is just touching the foot of the tree or if he is going up to the highest branch. There is a difference. You have to know the degree of a person’s realisation. This king, Vishwamitra, had realisation, true, but his realisation was not complete. Until you reach the highest branch of the realisation-tree and come down from the height, your realisation is not complete. He realised God but the perfection of his human nature was not achieved. Some people do not try to change their nature. They have realised the truth, but they do not want to conquer their lower vital movements. They are satisfied to remain imperfect. Some spiritual teachers have got real light, but they drink and smoke and do many silly things. They do not purify that part of the vital. Only when they meditate, they enter into the soul’s purity and perfection. But the other room, the vital room, they keep absolutely dirty and dark. They are spiritual teachers, but when they are compared with those who have got the highest Illumination, there will be a vast difference.

Question: I don't know why my mother objects so strongly to my coming to you.

Sri Chinmoy: The parents of some disciples are jealous because they see that their children are listening to me. But they do not realise one thing — that I know these are the children of the Supreme. They are not my children. You have an eternal Father, who is the Supreme, and I am in touch with the Supreme, so I know what is best for you and I tell you. If your mother is truly fond of you, then in your happiness will be her happiness. A real mother eventually surrenders to the happiness of the child. We have had quite a few instances where for three or four years the parents of the disciples were so displeased with us. They said, “How is it that we are their parents and they don’t listen to us, but they listen to an Indian Guru?” But finally both parents saw that the Indian rascal was not as bad as they thought. He had changed their children for the better and had brought them happiness.

Then the parents also say, “We gave them money, but they were not happy. We gave them sound advice, but they did not take it. We offered them everything we had, but they did not accept it. By what kind of magic has he now given them happiness? We tried to make them happy in every way, but we could not.” These parents were digging my grave and making my coffin ready. But now they see their children’s happiness. Many parents who began by digging my grave are now coming to our Centre or to our big functions. They appreciate and admire me and tell me how happy and grateful they are that their children are now in good hands. They see that their children are not smoking, drinking or taking drugs, so now I am their genuine saviour.

What do parents want for their children? Only happiness. In the beginning pride comes forward. “They are my children. What right does he have to exercise his authority?” But afterwards, they see that it is not a matter of authority, only of love. So many parents are now full of appreciation for me because their children are happy. Your mother will observe you for some time, and when she sees your happiness shining or blossoming, she will say, “I didn’t see this happiness before in my son. He was a very great musician, but where was his happiness? He had name, fame and wealth before he entered onto this path, but these things did not give him inner joy, inner light or inner confidence.”

So please do not worry. She is not far from our path. She is only watching. She wants to see whether you have done the right thing. You have done absolutely the right thing. Just wait a little longer. It is just a matter of time.

Question: Guru, what is the purpose of telling you things outwardly? I mean, what do you actually need to know from us outwardly?

Sri Chinmoy: It helps the disciples, and it also helps me. The disciples then feel that I really have concern for them on the physical and mental planes as well as on the spiritual planes. They feel that the human in me also takes an interest in their activities. I ask all my disciples to do some kind of regular work. I tell them not to lead a vagabond life. I know that they are all doing something, so why do I actually ask them what they are doing? I ask so that they will see that I am interested in them. When I have the opportunity, I become involved in your outer activities. This convinces the physical mind. Otherwise, the physical mind will say, “No, he does not care for our outer life. He only cares for our inner life.” But that is not true. I do care for your outer life also.

Sometimes I actually already know what you are doing before I ask, and sometimes I do not know. If I know your soul, and how much progress you have made, that is most important to me. If you become the President of the United States, it might not help your soul. My main concern is with your soul, and how your soul will make the fastest progress. If the outer achievement comes from the realisation of the soul, then it is worth much. Otherwise, in outer achievements you may become great, but your inner achievements may be eclipsed.

The important thing is for you to be great inwardly. Achieving inner greatness is the hardest work. From that you can easily come to outer greatness if you want to. It is not necessary for me to know what you eat for breakfast. But if you meditate regularly in the morning, that is most important to me. That you feed your body with most delicious food is unimportant. But I want to know, did you feed your soul? Did you meditate? If you have meditated, then I know you are fulfilling God.

Question: Sometimes I can hold my concentration, and other times my eyes close and then I wake up because I'm losing my balance. What can help us have more control?

Sri Chinmoy: When you feel that you are tired, exhausted, please breathe in quietly. Take several deep breaths and try to feel that you are breathing in from various places. Try to feel that you are breathing in through the eyes, the ears, the forehead, through the crown of the head, through the shoulders and so on. When you are breathing in, if you are conscious of your breath, then you will not feel sleepy. But being conscious of your breath does not mean that you will make a sound. You will just feel that a stream of energy is entering into you with every breath. Feel that every place you are breathing in is a door. Each time you breathe in, you open a door here, there or somewhere else. Naturally, when you open the door, light enters. Then energy enters through the various doors into your body. This exercise is for everybody.

When you are meditating very well, you can feel that unconsciously you are doing this — you are drawing energy not only through your nose, but through your head and other places. Energy is coming from all quarters, so that universal energy wants to enter into you by various doors. Naturally, the more energy you can draw inside you, the higher will be your meditation. Everything depends on the energy that is circulating inside you. Where does it come from? It comes from the Universal Consciousness. So when you do not have the energy, it means that the Universal Consciousness is not entering into you properly.

If you cannot meditate well, please feel that it is still a necessity to meditate, just as it is a necessity of the body to eat even though you may not get most delicious food. Your wife knows how to cook extremely well, but if she does not give you the most delicious food every day, what will you do? Will you get angry? No, you will just feel that she has done something more important than cooking food. Similarly, you will think that if the Supreme has not given you a good meditation today, He is thinking of doing something more important for you in some other way. Instead of getting angry with Him or disgusted and disheartened, if you have faith, which you have, you will feel that the Supreme is going to give you something else most important. In the case of your wife, her whole existence is inside you. If she cannot give you most delicious food, she will do something else to please you, to make you happy. In God’s case, if God does not give you a good meditation today for some reason or other, He will give you something else which is equally important or more important. In the meantime, your business is to accept whatever He gives you. Even if your wife cooks very untasty food, you have to eat it. Similarly, when you sit down to meditate, you also have to feel that it is up to Him. Meditation is our spiritual food. The Supreme will not give you the same taste every day. He may give you something different each day.

If someone loves us, that person has every right to please us in various ways; otherwise, it becomes monotonous. Today the Supreme is pleasing us through meditation, tomorrow through dedication and the day after tomorrow through something else. He wants to fulfil Himself in and through you in a new way every day. He has every right to change, so we should not have a fixed expectation. If we do, we will be disappointed. If we eat the same food every day, then after a few days we will be sick of it. There should always be variety.

Part III

//The following questions were answered by Sri Chinmoy at the San Francisco Sri Chinmoy Centre on 31 May 1973.//

Question: What can I think of to help me cry only for the Supreme? Quite often desire for other things will obscure my inner aspiration. What can I think of that can strengthen my inner aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to feel that the day you accepted me as your spiritual teacher was the very beginning of your life. Spiritually you are just one year old. Now, you have to know whether a child who is only one year old has any responsibilities. No, he has somebody to take care of him. When you grow up, when you are eighteen or twenty, you will want to take all the responsibilities from your mother and father. But a child always cries to remain in the lap of the mother or in the arms of the father. So how can you increase your inner cry? You can feel that you are a child only one year old, and not a young man of twenty. Consciously you have to feel that you are a child. If you think of yourself as a child, then every day you will be able to make progress.

Who makes noticeable progress? A child, not an old man. Old people do not care for progress. But mere years do not make people old. Somebody may be sixty or seventy years of age, but that person may have the enthusiasm, inner joy and inspiration of a child. Again, there will be people seventeen, eighteen and nineteen years old who have no aspiration, no inspiration, no dynamism. In the spiritual life we are not concerned with earthly years, but with our inner eagerness to do something, to become something. Now what should we become? Only a child of God.

Question: If we could look back at all our lives on earth, we would find that many really significant events took place. Do significant things also happen in between lifetimes, or is it just like sleep?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, in the soul’s world there are significant things, but these things will not be manifested. In the soul’s world there is no manifestation. Progress is there, but not in the sense of evolution.

We enter into the soul’s world to take rest. But if our soul associates with a higher soul, a more illumined soul, then naturally we will be inspired. If, in the soul’s world, we are near a spiritual Master or some other very great, significant, spiritual person, then naturally we will be influenced.

Question: You always say that we are in your golden boat. Is there really a golden boat on some other plane?

Sri Chinmoy: Shall I have to change it into a silver boat just for you, because you are a doubter? Absolutely there is a golden boat. It is not symbolic; it is real. It is golden not only in consciousness but also in colour. Each Master has a colour. In my case I have blue and gold. Blue is the colour of Infinity. Sri Krishna’s light was blue. Mine is blue and gold. The golden colour is necessary. The golden colour is for manifestation. When it touches the physical plane it becomes reddish. But my boat is actually golden. It is not just a word I am using. It is the reality of the boat itself. The colour of the boat is golden, and that boat really exists. You are bound to see it some day.

Question: Guru, what is the difference between revelation and manifestation?

Sri Chinmoy: First you have embodiment. You have a most delicious mango inside your pocket. You are embodying the mango, since your shirt is a part of you. Inside the pocket means inside you. Now, if you put your hand inside the pocket and bring the mango out, then you have revealed it. Then you have to manifest it. How will you do it? By cutting it into a few pieces and giving it to me and to others. That is manifestation. First you will have it; that is embodiment. Then you will show it to me; that is revelation. Then you will share it with the world; that is manifestation.

Question: Guru, one thing I've wondered about for a long time is the high population in the world now and the pollution. Is there something that these problems are going to teach mankind?

Sri Chinmoy: As seekers, we feel that we should not worry about these things. We should worry about our inner illumination. Over-population is not good; pollution is not good. But why are they happening? Because people are ignorant. We have to go to the root-cause of world-problems, and the root is human ignorance. If we can go to the root and remove this ignorance in just one human being — ourselves — then there will be one rascal less in this world. Today if there is one rascal less, tomorrow there may be another rascal less, and in this way it will go on.

If we think all the time of over-population, pollution, and other world-problems, if we use our time to pay considerable attention to them, then when we go to the other world, what will happen? God will not ask us, “Do you know anything about the population problem? Do you know anything about pollution?” He is not going to ask that. He will ask us, “Did you think of Me? Did you meditate on Me?” God will never ask us impersonal questions. He will ask us what we have done for Him. We have to be ready to answer Him properly. This is not a selfish attitude. When I become good, automatically there is one more positive force and one less negative force on earth. If I can transform my own ignorance into light, then the quantity of ignorance on earth has already decreased.

Question: Guru, would you tell which are God's three most helpful angels?

Sri Chinmoy: In the Western world you have angels to protect you. In India we have three major deities: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Then we have, according to us, as many minor deities as there are human beings. What we call deities in India, here you call angels. But the members of the Trinity — Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva — are infinitely more powerful than ordinary presiding deities and ordinary angels. I know the Western angels very well, and also I know the Indian deities.

Question: What does a miracle teach?

Sri Chinmoy: By showing a miracle we cannot raise the consciousness of humanity at all. In India our servants used to live a very pure life for two months, practise austerities and pray to all the cosmic gods. Then they used to walk on fire in front of us. If we walk on fire, our feet will burn. But when it is a matter of real spiritual life, we lead an infinitely better and purer life than these servants did.

Does a miracle help us in any way? It only increases our curiosity. It does not help in raising our consciousness. Sri Ramakrishna used to tell a story about two brothers. The older brother left the family and went into the forest. He meditated and meditated for about twelve years. When he got a little occult power, he came back home. His younger brother said to him, “You have meditated for twelve years, brother. Now show me what you have achieved.” The elder brother said, “All right, come.” He led his younger brother to a tiny river nearby. Then he said, “Look, here is my capacity,” and he started walking on the water. The younger brother immediately called the ferry man, gave him one-quarter of a cent and went across. When he came up to his brother on the other side, he said, “You spent twelve long years in praying to God for something that is not even worth a penny.” Then the elder brother realised his foolishness, and went and prayed sincerely to God.

Question: I have already seen a Master and he told me to be happy. So can I still follow you?

Sri Chinmoy: If you see ten Masters, every Master will tell you to be happy. I will give you the same advice. Who will not give you this advice? The world is wanting in happiness, so every Master will give you this same advice. But you have to know which particular Master you want to be your guide. If somebody tells you to be happy, that does not mean that he has accepted you or you have accepted him. Even if he accepts you, you may not accept him. You may say, “No, I don’t want you as my Master.” It is your life that you are going to offer to someone, so there has to be mutual acceptance. The Master has to accept the disciple as his own, and the disciple also has to accept the Master. Then only does the real divine game start.

Every Master will tell you to be happy. The spiritual Master’s task is to bring joy into the earth-atmosphere. All spiritual Masters are trying to do that. Now you have to feel which Master can bring the most joy, light and peace into your life. When you feel that you have found that particular Master, you have to accept him as your own.

There are some Masters who say, “Whoever wants to follow my path is welcome.” These Masters may have twenty thousand disciples, but God alone knows in which way they are helping those disciples. I cannot appreciate that kind of approach. If I accept someone and he accepts me and follows my path sincerely, then I have to be fully responsible for his outer life as well as his inner life. I have disciples, my real disciples, about whom I can tell you everything. I have accepted them as my very own.

I am not criticising the Master you are speaking about. Far from it. I am only telling you that just because this Master has told you to be happy, that does not mean that he has accepted you as his disciple. You have to ask yourself whether you feel deep within that he should be your Master, that you have accepted him as your Master and he has already become your Master. If so, you do not need me or anybody else. But if you feel that you have not accepted him or you have not made a commitment, but he has given you some divine advice, this is absolutely true. It is the duty of all spiritual Masters to tell the seekers that they have to be happy. If you are depressed all the time, cherishing negative, undivine forces, then you will not be able to make progress. But if you are happy, then your spiritual progress becomes really easy.

So the advice he has given you is absolutely correct. The only question is: are you going to go deep within to see whether you want to follow his path or some other path? This question you can answer better than anybody else. You have to ask your heart what commitment you have made to him and what commitment he has made to you.

Question: I believe that Jesus Christ is the answer in my life, but I wonder how to look at you.

Sri Chinmoy: If Jesus Christ is the answer for you, then you don’t need any other spiritual Master. If he is your Master, then you don’t need any other spiritual Master. If he is your Master, then you can just see me as another Master. Who is better of the two is not the important question. The main thing is that you have a Master who will be able to take you to the Highest. Each spiritual Master, whether he has left the physical sheath or is still on earth, has a boat of his own. If you have a boatman and you are satisfied with his boat, then you do not need another boatman or another boat. You have only to consider me and other spiritual Masters as boatmen who are carrying other aspirants to the Supreme Father.

Question: Why do you need a picture to make the decision about accepting a disciple?

Sri Chinmoy: I need a picture because before I accept a disciple I have to contact his soul. I have to know the soul, and it is easier for me to contact the soul through a picture if I am not able to see that person on the physical plane. When I see the person’s picture, I can see his soul, his consciousness, and then I will know whether I should deal with his soul or not. I will see whether it is God’s Will that I should deal with that particular aspirant.

If you want to be accepted at college, you need an application and a resume stating your previous qualifications. I also have to see whether someone has any inner qualifications, inner sincerity — whether he has aspiration, or whether he is just curious. Curiosity-seekers are not accepted by me.

Question: Can you see a person's past from the photograph?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. For spiritual Masters it is the easiest thing to see the past. It is as easy as drinking water. We can see the past, present and future the moment we use our third eye.

Question: What do you look for in the applicant?

Sri Chinmoy: When I look at the picture, immediately I concentrate on the soul and ask the Supreme whether this soul is meant for my path or not. With my own vision I see the answer, but in order to verify it, I ask the Supreme, who is my Guru, who is everybody’s Guru. If the Supreme says, “Yes, accept him,” then I say yes. If He says, “No, he is meant for somebody else,” then I do not. I cannot take all and sundry in my boat or the boat will capsize. If somebody is meant for another Master, I have no right to accept him. All true spiritual Masters are brothers, and our Father is the same God. It is quite immaterial to us who takes whom, as long as our younger brothers, the seekers, are taken care of. If one older brother takes a few younger brothers and another older brother takes a few other younger brothers to the Father, that is the way it should be.

Question: Are there cases where you may not accept the person at one time and you may accept him later?

Sri Chinmoy: It has been like that in a few cases. After six months or a year or two I may accept them. When I see that they are not yet ready but will be ready later, I give them some consolation by telling them to come back in the future. In the meantime, they can try some other path to be sure that the spiritual life is what they want. I know that right now there is still some curiosity in their minds. Sincerity is there, but curiosity dominates, so I feel that this is not the right time for them. If I accept somebody who is still in the curiosity-world, he may accept me for one day and then go to another group the day after tomorrow. That would only be a waste of my time and spiritual energy. I accept only those who really need me.

All those who already have Masters are really lucky. I am truly proud of their inner awakening. There are many seekers who will not feel that this is their path. I wish to offer my deepest good wishes to them in finding their own Masters. If I am not meant for them, I do not feel sorry. I only pray to the Supreme that they will get their Masters as soon as possible, because there is a great difference between having a real spiritual Master, a God-realised Master, and following the spiritual life all by yourself. When you are alone, constant doubt, fear and feelings of unworthiness may haunt you. But if you have a Master, he will act as a source of inspiration, aspiration and faith for you. The spiritual Master is not like a school teacher. A school teacher teaches you, and then he examines you and passes or fails you according to your merit. But a real spiritual Master is a private tutor. The spiritual Master will help you and teach you what you need so that you will pass your inner examination. He will bring down constant Compassion from the Highest. It is with the Compassion-Light of the Highest that you can make the fastest progress.

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