The Avatars and the Masters

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The Avatars

Question: What criteria can we use to identify an Avatar?

Sri Chinmoy: Once Vivekananda went to East Bengal, and there many disciples of different Masters came to him, begging him to go and visit their Master whom they claimed to be an Avatar. They would say, “Please come and see my Guru. He is undoubtedly an Avatar.” And the next moment another one would say, “My Guru is an Avatar. I know it. Please come and see him.” So he said that in East Bengal the Avatars grow like mushrooms.

Unfortunately, in the Western world the word “Avatar” is not understood. Perhaps it will take quite a few years or even centuries to understand the word “Avatar" — forgive me for being so frank. There are some words that are so meaningful and so significant, and in the spiritual consciousness they are so difficult, that an ordinary person will never understand them. The word “Avatar” is one of those words, perhaps the most difficult word. You know how to spell it, but to realise the highest nature of the Avatar one must become almost a spiritual saint.

The difference between a Yogi and an Avatar is like the difference between an infant and a mature adult. One has to be on a very, very high standard of spiritual consciousness in order to get even the faintest glimpse of an Avatar. Sri Krishna was an Avatar, but only five persons recognised him. Sri Ramakrishna was an Avatar, and very few recognised him. The Christ was an Avatar, but very few people knew him. But even these Avatars are not of the same standard. You can recognise someone who is an inch or a few inches higher than yourself. You can recognise a sage, a saint or a Yogi. But a Yogi is infinitely superior to a sage or a saint. Yogi means one who is united with the highest. But an Avatar is a direct descendant of God, an incarnated portion of God which constantly operates in the Highest and in the lowest at the same time. The Yogis maintain a certain high level, and there they operate. If they go down from that level in order to raise humanity, they cannot function well and sometimes they are caught there; then they are lost. They maintain a certain level of consciousness and when others can approach that level, they can help them. In the case of an Avatar, he can remain in the Highest and in the lowest together, but when he operates at the lowest level, he is not affected by it.

An Avatar is a human being. He talks, eats and cuts jokes. But when he enters into his Highest, he goes far beyond your vision’s height. If you ever have even a little glimpse of the higher worlds to which an Avatar has a free access, you will feel that your whole life will be an object of complete surrender at the feet of your Master. Even if the Master kicks you or throws you out of his Centre, you will remain faithful to him, because you have received something from him that you know you will never be able to get from anyone else on earth.

When there is an Avatar on earth, he embodies the consciousness of all the other Avatars who have come into the world. When Sri Ramakrishna was on his deathbed and Vivekananda, his dearest disciple, was doubting him even at the last moment, at that time he said, “He who is Rama, he who is Krishna, in one form is Ramakrishna.” In the East it is easier to believe that Rama is inside me, Krishna is inside me, Ramakrishna is inside me, and other Avatars are inside me. In the West, unfortunately, we know only one Avatar, the Christ. Either we accept him or we reject him. If we accept him, then, according to the Church, there can be no other spiritual Master for us; but if we reject him, then perhaps we will pay attention to some other spiritual Master!

The Christ, the Buddha, Sri Krishna and all the great spiritual Masters came from the same divine Source. If we say that Christ is the only Saviour, then immediately one of Krishna’s disciples will say, “No, Krishna is the only Saviour.” Here the problem starts. We should feel that the Supreme is the only Saviour. It is He who entered into the form which we call Christ. He entered into the form of Krishna, into Ramakrishna, and so on. In that way we are all going to the Supreme. The ultimate is the Supreme. Like us, Krishna the Buddha and all the Avatars have come from Him, and we all have to go to Him.

Question: How can you differentiate between Christ, Ramakrishna and God if they are all the same in consciousness?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not at all necessary to differentiate. They have come at different times, but they are all one. They are all God’s children in different forms. In this incarnation you have a name, and in your previous incarnation you had some other name. Even in this incarnation your mother calls you by one name, your husband by another name, your children by some other name, and perhaps we call you by still another name. But yet you are the same person. The spirit is one, but the forms are different. God is the Universal Spirit, but He is assuming different forms. Christ took a human body, human form. The Buddha has taken, Sri Ramakrishna has taken, Sri Krishna has taken, everybody has taken human form. When a soul enters a body, that soul has to manifest inner divinity. The great spiritual Masters manifested, but still you have not manifested. So in spirit we are all one, but in forms we have become many. In this way there can be a divine game.

Question: What is the difference between the consciousness that the Buddha attained and that which the Christ attained?

Sri Chinmoy: Forgive me for saying this, but to know what Jesus Christ achieved or did not achieve will not help you in the least. What matters is whether you are trying to grow into the very image of the Christ. Only that will help you. To know what the Christ achieved, what the Buddha achieved, will be of no avail to you. Only if you are trying to grow into the Christ’s consciousness or the Buddha’s consciousness, will that help you. Again, there comes a time when you have to go beyond even that. You have to feel that God took a particular soul and brought it into the world with an outer form. He called one Christ and another one Buddha. God wanted those particular souls to play the role of the Christ and the Buddha. He wants you to play the role of somebody else.

God wants to play in and through everyone in a unique manner. These great souls have played the role of divine lions let us say. Now God wants you to act like a tiny insect. By acting like lions, they have fulfilled their roles most satisfactorily. In your case, if God wants you to be an insect, then if you play the role of an insect most satisfactorily, God will be highly pleased. He will not ask you, “Why didn’t you play the role of a lion?” He asked you to play the role of the insect, and He does not expect you to do otherwise. Each soul has to play his own role. The Christ, the Buddha, Sri Krishna — they have played their roles successfully just because they were God’s conscious instruments. They are still playing their roles inwardly on earth. Now we seekers have to play our roles. If we do not play our roles, then God will remain unfulfilled and unmanifested.

In India some spiritual Teachers tell their disciples: “Don’t use the terms ‘Infinity’ ‘Immortality’ and ‘Eternity.’ Just think of where you are.” I am telling you the same thing. Do not bother yourself with the Christ’s consciousness or the Buddha’s consciousness. Deal with your own consciousness. Are you aspiring? If you are, then God is most pleased with you. In no way am I trying to discourage you or anybody. But out of curiosity you want to know quite a few things, and these things eventually stand in your way. Right now, if you think of the goal that they have reached, you will be totally lost.

In India many people have gone mad by thinking all the time of the Buddha’s realisation, Krishna’s realisation or Ramakrishna’s realisation, instead of starting the real way, by meditating. By thinking constantly of Krishna’s realisation or the Buddha’s realisation, they convinced themselves that they had attained Krishna’s consciousness or the Buddha’s consciousness. When they thought they had attained that consciousness, they became insane. There were many in Bengal who had physical strength, vital strength, mental strength, so they just thought all the time of Vivekananda until they felt that they were another Vivekananda. Then, when they were examined or tested, when they faced the world, they found that they were the most insignificant creatures.

In the spiritual life it is always better to make progress step by step. When you have gone high, very high, then you will be able to see the Buddha’s consciousness and the Christ s consciousness. But right now it is useless for you to think of these things. It will only confuse you.

The marathon race is more than twenty-six miles long. At the moment the starter fires the gun, if the runner thinks that after twenty-six miles he will reach the goal, he will be totally disgusted. “I have to run twenty-six miles!” he will think; then he will just give up. No, while he is running, he has to think that he is covering a quarter mile, a half a mile, a mile, and so on. If he thinks that he has to reach the goal all at once, the moment he starts, he will be disheartened. He will say it is impossible. If a kindergarten student thinks of his Master’s degree while he is learning the alphabet, then it is impossible. If he thinks he has to get his Master’s degree as soon as possible, he will just go crazy. But if he feels that now he is in kindergarten, tomorrow he will be in primary school, then high school and so on, then he will have constant inspiration.

Question: Do all souls have hundreds or thousands of incarnations before realisation?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, it is only the Avatars who don’t take so many incarnations. But there are some exceptions, even among spiritual Masters. Look at the Buddha. He went through so many incarnations in the animal life and the human life. But other spiritual Masters did not go through so many; they did not want to enjoy this world so many times.

Question: When an Avatar is in one of his animal incarnations, will he know he is an Avatar?

Sri Chinmoy: A portion of the Avatar’s inner consciousness will know, but his conscious mind may not know. Only when the mind receives some light will he be able to know, and for that human incarnation is necessary. Unless you know something with the mind, you cannot be aware of it consciously. In the animal consciousness there is no mind.

Sri Chinmoy's connection with the great Masters

Question: What will happen if followers of the Christ or the Buddha or other great ascended Masters meditate with you?

Sri Chinmoy: The Christ and the Buddha are spiritual Masters of the highest magnitude. I happen to be a spiritual Teacher also. Now spiritual Teachers, if they are really spiritual, are absolutely one. They come from the same family. Once Sri Ramakrishna told his beloved disciple Vivekananda, “He who is Rama, he who is Krishna, in one form is Ramakrishna.” Once one becomes a realised soul, one becomes part and parcel of the universal Reality. The disciples of the Christ and disciples of the Buddha, if they are true disciples, will have no problem meditating with me in the public meditations, for I am not taking them away from the Christ Consciousness or the Buddha Consciousness. On the contrary, on the strength of my own divine inseparable oneness with the Buddha and the Christ, I can help them reach their Beloved.

I am here on earth as a messenger boy. I tell the staunch Catholics and votaries of other great ascended Masters that they need to go through the secretary in order to approach the boss. If they want to have an appointment with the Master, they must take help from the servant or secretary. It is the servant who will open the door for you, and the secretary will make the appointment. These people can take me as a secretary or a servant. After helping them to approach their Master, my role is over. I will never disturb their interview. Again, if someone is a very close disciple of the Christ or the Buddha, if he had a most intimate connection with these Masters in a previous life, then he may be able to go directly to them. If you are most intimate with the boss, then you don’t have to take help from his servant. But these cases are very, very rare.

Question: How does your path differ from that of Sri Ramakrishna?

Sri Chinmoy: All paths ultimately lead to the to the same goal, and both Sri Ramakrishna’s path and my own path are the path of love, devotion and surrender. But there are some subtle differences. Sri Ramakrishna said that you do not have to read any books; he said that all will come from within. Sri Ramakrishna did not care for the mind at all. He said, “No mind! Just cry, cry!” It is true that the supreme Wisdom, the supreme Knowledge, comes from within. But since God has given us the mind, I feel that we have to utilise it to some extent by reading inspiring and uplifting books written by the real spiritual Masters. But again, the mind is imperfect and I wish my disciples to go beyond the mind. Sri Ramakrishna’s path and our path will never run into any conflict. He is a very great spiritual Master and I have utmost love and admiration for him. I have written a play and quite a few articles about Sri Ramakrishna. A few years ago, for Vivekananda’s Centennial, I wrote twelve articles on Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna.

I have never said that our path is superior to somebody else’s. No, far from it. But if you want to know the differences, I can find some little differences. I appreciate Sri Ramakrishna’s love, devotion and surrender. But I also say that we have to use the mind to a certain extent. Vivekananda, his dearest disciple, utilised the mind when he came to the West. Vivekananda was intellectually a giant. So there is always a compromise. Sri Ramakrishna did not care to study and he could hardly even write his name. But he embodied the highest Truth.

Sri Ramakrishna used to worship Mother Kali, the Divine Mother. He used to adore the Highest in the feminine form. He used to feel the Divine Mother in his own highest consciousness. But he would not allow his disciples to mix with women. He told his male disciples to shun women. He really felt that this was best for his disciples. Most of our Indian spiritual Masters have asked their men disciples not to mix with women at all, and they have asked the women disciples not to mix with men. But in my philosophy, I say that men and women are both God’s children and they have to go together. One complements the other. But again, there is no basic difference between my path and Sri Ramakrishna’s. There are only subtle differences.

Question: What is the difference between your path and the Sufi path?

Sri Chinmoy: The Sufi light and the path that we follow are similar. The Sufi path is a path of love, and ours also is a path of love. I am not well-versed in Sufism, but I can tell you about our path. In our path, the divine lover tries to become inseparably one with the supreme Beloved. But it will be a mistake if we say that we always remain a divine lover and the Beloved always remains the Beloved. The lover divine and the Beloved Supreme play hide-and-seek and change their respective roles. The lover cries for the Beloved then the lover becomes the Beloved. When the lover cries for the Beloved and the Beloved gives him a smile, the lover’s satisfaction dawns. He is fulfilled. Again, when the Beloved sees that the lover is crying for Him, for their total oneness, at that time He is satisfied and fulfilled. But this cry that He wants to see in the lover is not the cry of inferiority. No, it is only the feeling of inner oneness expressed in another form. It can be expressed through smile and also through cry. The cry and the smile are like the obverse and reverse of the same coin. When there is a cry from the earth-consciousness and a smile from the Heaven-Consciousness, God the Revealer is complete and God the Fulfiller is complete.

Question: Are you aware of what is happening simultaneously on all planes?

Sri Chinmoy: I can be aware of what is taking place simultaneously on all the planes, but it usually is not necessary. However, I always have a general idea of what is happening on all the planes. It is like a house. If I am in one room, then I am aware of everything that is happening there; but I can also have a general idea of what is taking place in the other rooms. But if I am working on a particular plane in order to help my disciples, I am more aware of what is going on on that plane.

When it comes to my disciples’ lives, is there anything in which I am not involved? If one disciple suffers because of the conduct of another disciple, eventually it is I who become the sufferer. “I am not involved ”. These are the words I use, but in actuality it is I who suffer. I say, “Don’t bother me, don’t bother me,” but when something goes wrong, I know how much I suffer. My suffering is absolutely unbearable when a disciple sincerely suffers.

Question: Some disciples live a long way away. What is the significance of their coming to see you and being in your physical presence?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, the disciples who come from a distance to see the spiritual Master are acting with divine wisdom. The Master is in the physical and the disciple is in the physical. Most of the time our physical consciousness has to be convinced of what is happening. In the inner world we experience peace, light and bliss, but when we open our human eyes, our earthly eyes, we do not see anything. Then we feel miserable. But if we can experience the same truth — the same peace, light and bliss — with our outer senses, then we get boundless joy. The spiritual and the physical must play together wherever possible. If the disciple is at a distance, he should make it a point to see the Master as often as possible because the Master’s physical presence helps to convince the disciple’s physical mind. Otherwise, the physical revolts. Then it becomes a deplorable case of out of sight, out of mind. If the disciple has firmly established his inseparable oneness with the Master, only then is it altogether different. But if circumstances permit the disciple to come to the Master, then he should always come.

The necessity here is very simple. The possessor of infinite light, peace and bliss has to be seen with the physical eyes if it is at all possible. If we appreciate the paintings of an artist in the museum, then if we see the artist, we get tremendous joy. If we see a poet whose poems we have all along appreciated and admired, we get additional joy. Capacity and the possessor of that capacity, the creator and the creation, both give us joy. We are extremely happy when we observe the creation of God: trees, rivers, sky, mountains, all of nature’s beauty. But what is the aim of our appreciation? In the creation we want to see God the Creator, the Possessor and Source of the beauty that we see all around us. So the disciple should come to see the Master if he feels in the Master all the divine qualities. When he prays and meditates, he experiences these capacities and qualities of the Master inwardly. But if he sees the Master on the physical plane, face to face, then he experiences these qualities outwardly as well.

Again, this does not mean that for twenty-four hours a day he has to be in front of the Master. On the physical plane some of the disciples live close by me, while others live at a distance. Those who live nearby undoubtedly get additional opportunities to make progress. Inwardly and outwardly if an individual can become close to the Master, then he makes the fastest progress. But people who live a far distance are lucky in some ways because they do not go through some of the sufferings which the disciples who are nearer endure. If I smile at a particular disciple and not at you, immediately you may become a victim to jealousy. Right now, even if I look at your own wife, if you do not have a feeling of oneness, immediately you think, “Guru gave my wife a broad smile, but he didn’t smile at me.” Then you become jealous. If you are one with her, then of course you will feel that you have also received a smile from me. If you are developed spiritually, your oneness gives you complete satisfaction. But if you are in Australia, then you cannot see if I am smiling at someone else. So to be in the physical presence of the Master can be a disadvantage.

Another advantage or benefit of being away from the Master is that inwardly you are practising spiritual life and trying to establish an inner connection with him. Then, when you see him on the physical plane, at that time you will have the golden opportunity to convince your physical mind of what you inwardly feel so strongly already.

The Christ and His disciples

Question: Do you and your disciples believe in the Son of God like the Christians do?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly we believe in Jesus.

Question: The reason I asked if you believe in Jesus Christ is because the Jews say that the Saviour has not been born yet.

Sri Chinmoy: But I am a Hindu and I believe in Jesus Christ as I believe in Lord Krishna.

Question: In what form do you believe in Jesus Christ?

Sri Chinmoy: As a Son of God, a messenger of Truth, divine Truth.

Question: I believe that there is only one Saviour, and that is Jesus Christ. So how do you fit into the picture?

Sri Chinmoy: All right; your Saviour is a very great man. Since he is a great man, naturally he has some servants. Let us say that I am his servant. You do not know where this great man lives or how to approach him, but I do. Although I may be only his servant, I know where the Master lives, where he is seated and what he is doing, and I can take you to see him. You cannot see him without my help or the help of another one of his servants.

Do you think that you can just knock at the door, and the Master himself will come and open the door for you? No, the Master will not answer the door unless you have a very, very powerful inner connection with him. But I will come to the door. I will look at you, and if I am not pleased with your sincerity or your aspiration, then I will know that he will not have any interest in seeing you. But if you please the servant, I will go and tell the boss that somebody very nice wishes to see him. Since I am so pleased with you, naturally he will say, “All right, let me see this man whom you are talking about.” So I will bring you to him, and then my role is over.

But what if the great gentleman who is Christ scolds you at that time? When I take you to him, he may say to you, “You fool! Two thousand years ago I had one name and one form. Do you think that I will continue with the same name and the same form forever? Two thousand years ago I came in one body, in one consciousness. Do you think that I cannot change?

“You change your body repeatedly; you change your apartment every few years. You have to change. Have I no right to change? For two thousand years shall I continue with the same form, same body, same name, same garment, same consciousness? I should and I must change. To do so is to progress. I have changed my body: I have changed my name. Your soul knows that this person who calls himself my servant is representing me on earth. The name may be different, the form may be different, the consciousness may be different: but the Source is the same and the capacity is the same. He represents my real reality on earth. So why do you have to make your job more difficult by trying to approach me in Heaven when you can easily approach my brother who is on earth, and inside him find me?”

Question: What is your personal opinion of Jesus Christ? Do you believe he achieved something?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. My personal opinion of Jesus Christ is that he is God’s Son. If you feel that he has not achieved anything, unfortunately I cannot see eye to eye with you. On the strength of my own realisation, I know that he is a real Son of God and a real world-Saviour. He was God-realised and fully illumined. He had a heart full of compassion; his heart was a flood of compassion. He was, he is and he will always remain a Saviour to mankind.

But if somebody says that he is the Saviour, the only Saviour, and that Krishna, the Buddha and others are not Saviours, then unfortunately I cannot agree, because I know these other great Masters as well as I know the Christ. If we say that the Christ is the only chosen Son of God, then we are limiting God. These other Masters did exist. These are all God’s chosen children of the highest order. They are brothers and God, the Supreme, is their Father. How do these Masters become chosen? They are chosen because they have sacrificed their desires: they have accepted only the life of aspiration — divine aspiration and inner cry.

The achievement of Jesus Christ is extraordinary. No spiritual seeker of the Truth can deny it. The moment a sincere seeker enters into the domain of spirituality, which is real reality, at that time he will immediately see how great, how sublime, how high, how far beyond the flight of his imagination, is the Throne of Jesus Christ. This I say on the strength of my own inner experience and realisation.

Question: Was the Christ an Avatar?

Sri Chinmoy: An Avatar means the direct representative of God — God in human form. It is a matter of individual opinion whether Christ was an Avatar. I can only say something on the strength of my own realisation, and on the strength of your own realisation you can say something else. On the strength of my own realisation I wish to say that he was, is and shall always be an Avatar. If others want to refute this, they are perfectly free to do so. This is a personal realisation of mine.

An Avatar is someone who is the direct representative of the Highest Absolute, who embodies God’s Vision and Reality all at once. The Christ embodied the Vision and manifested the Reality all at once. Not only did he embody, but he embodies it still, and he shall eternally embody God’s Vision and Reality, along with Krishna, the Buddha, Ramakrishna and others. They all came from the same root, only with different names. This moment we say “Krishna” because we like the Krishna form. The next moment we may like the Buddha form, so we will call him the Buddha. At another moment, we may call him the Christ. But they are eternally one: the Christ, the Buddha, Krishna, Ramakrishna and other Avatars.

Question: I would like to know the difference between Cosmic consciousness and Christ consciousness.

Sri Chinmoy: The Christ consciousness and the Cosmic consciousness go together. The Cosmic consciousness is like a house. Since it is a house, somebody is expected to live there. Who lives there? The Christ consciousness. Then again, in the divine Game the players change their roles. The Christ consciousness becomes the hall, since one who has realised the Highest has become part and parcel of the Highest, and the Cosmic consciousness becomes the resident of the hall.

The Christ consciousness and the Cosmic consciousness are one. At times the Christ is inside the house, living in the Cosmic consciousness. At other times the reverse is true. The Christ embodies the Cosmic consciousness. At one time one is the house and at another time the same one is the resident of the house.

On the strength of his highest consciousness, on the strength of his inseparable oneness with his eternal Father, the Christ said, “I and my Father are one.” How is it that he could say this? We all the time say that God is our Father, but to most of us this is just a vague idea. We have heard it from our parents or read it in books. But in the Christ’s case, it is a reality, a living reality.

Question: Why didn't Christ give any of his disciples realisation?

Sri Chinmoy: If one of his disciples had been ready, the Christ would have been the first person to give him realisation, for then he could have shouldered some of the Christ’s responsibilities. On the physical plane when you have something, you may not give it to others because you do not want others to have the same glory. You are insecure. But on the spiritual plane it is not like that. On the spiritual plane if I get something, I give it most willingly. I know that if I give, that person who receives will be able to work for the Supreme most effectively. The only thing is that in the spiritual world it is not possible to give if someone is not ready to receive.

The worst possible curse is to become a Guru. The suffering that a real Guru goes through by becoming one with his disciples is real torture. Ramakrishna’s theory was always to remain a seeker, a child. Once you become a Guru, you have to learn to drink poison at every moment, and nothing else. Of course, in your inner life you can drink nectar, but in the outer life you have to drink poison. Christ would have been the first person to give realisation to his disciples, but who was ready to receive it? One disciple betrayed him; one denied him; one doubted him. All kinds of things his disciples did to him. Some of them did not get the opportunity. Otherwise, they would also have done some undivine things. This is the fate of all spiritual Masters.

Question: Didn't he give something special to Peter, though?

Sri Chinmoy: He had special concern for Peter. He made him head of the church because he had to have a leader. So the leader got perhaps a little more. But when it was a matter of real realisation, he could not give it. He could not give it because his disciples were not receptive enough.

Question: Was Judas so bad or was he just stupid? Sometimes when I read about him I feel sorry that he is accused in this way.

Sri Chinmoy: There are two ways of seeing this incident. One way is to say that Judas was very bad, that everything was his fault, that because of Judas’ evil nature the Christ was crucified. The other way is to say that Judas was an instrument of God’s Will. This way says that if God had not wanted His Son to be crucified, then Jesus could not have been harmed. He wanted Jesus to be crucified; therefore, He used Judas as His instrument to bring this about.

From the highest point of view, sometimes it is necessary for the evolution of the world that a sacrifice be made on the physical plane. Your son may not listen to you when you tell him to do the right thing. But if you fall sick, then he will listen to you. By having the Christ make the supreme sacrifice, God did accelerate humanity’s progress. If humanity had listened to the Christ, then there would have been no necessity for him to be crucified.

Again, we have to know that hostile forces also played their role. From one point of view, it was a great loss for the world that the Christ was crucified. If he had been able to live a few more years, he would have been able to manifest more of God’s Light and this would have been of great benefit to the world’s spiritual evolution. But from the point of view of God’s Eternal Time, it was all part of the Cosmic Game. So this is a very complicated matter, and each individual has to see the incident according to his own level of evolution.

Question: The great Catholic mystic Meister Eckhardt once said, "I and my Father are one in my proceedings." Then the Catholic Church threatened to burn him at the stake. To the Church, it was blasphemy. When one attains Self-realisation, to what degree does a human being really possess the right to say, "I and my Father are one"?

Sri Chinmoy: What we call Self-realisation has various levels. There are people who have realised God on the vital plane. Others have realised Him on the physical plane or on the mental plane or on the intuitive plane. Some have realised Him on the supramental plane, which is beyond the overmind, and far beyond the mental plane. But the greatest Yogis have realised God on all the planes, from the highest to the lowest levels of consciousness. They act always from the Divine Consciousness, from God’s Consciousness. Since they act from the Divine Consciousness and are absolutely one with God’s Cosmic Play, they have every right to say that they are one with God. It is every soul’s own birthright to be totally one with God.

The Christ was absolutely right when he said, “I and my Father are one.” Sri Ramakrishna, who was the worshipper of Mother Kali, in his later years identified himself with Kali to such an extent that his consort, Sarada Devi, addressed him as Kali and his disciples also said that he and Kali were one. In his early meditative years, Ramakrishna used to pray ardently to Kali. But when his realisation was complete on all the planes, he became totally, consciously one with Kali. His disciples and his consort saw and felt that he was not a human being but the Goddess Kali herself. Kali is a Goddess and the Supreme Goddess. So, when one realises God on all levels of consciousness and is able to act from God’s Supreme Consciousness, then one can easily say that he and God are one. But only on the strength of one’s absolute conscious identification with God, the Divine, the Supreme, may one declare that he and God are one.

Question: What was the predominant quality of Christ?

Sri Chinmoy: Right now, it is impossible for a human being to bring all his divine qualities to the fore; they are not at his command. But in the case of the great spiritual Masters, all the qualities are there and they can bring them to the fore at any moment. If they want to show compassion, they will show compassion. If they want to show light, peace and bliss, they also have these qualities at their beck and call.

So we cannot name one predominant quality. The seeker has to feel which quality, which aspect, inspires him most. If the seeker likes the compassionate aspect, then he will pray to Jesus to show him his Compassion. If the seeker needs humility, let us say, he will pray to Jesus to give him humility. But we cannot say that these are his predominant characteristics. As a spiritual Master, the Christ embodied all divine qualities: humility, purity, compassion and so on. But again, on the strength of his oneness with his Father, he also embodied divine authority. If people want to criticise him, they can say that he was proud. This is how ordinary people will understand his divine authority. But the Christ’s divine authority was not autocratic. Far from it. On the strength of his oneness with the absolute Highest, authority came.

Question: What is the meaning of the sentence in the Bible: "Blessed are those who have believed and have not seen"?

Sri Chinmoy: What the Christ said is extremely important. People who only believe what they see with their naked eyes are only eating half the fruit. If you want to scrutinise the Truth to see whether it has a tail or a nose, then you will lose it. Truth is a matter of identification. This is the Christ’s pronouncement about faith and doubt. Blessed are those who have faith without demanding proof at every moment.

Question: What happened to Christ during the time in his life that is unaccounted for in the Bible?

Sri Chinmoy: The Christ went to India and got lessons from Indian Masters, but he did not accept a Guru. His Guru was John the Baptist. He was baptised and got initiation from him. At the time his father died, he was in Kashmir. He came back to Palestine. Even now, in India, there are some of the talismans that he used.

Question: It is said that at this period the divine Avatar of the Christ will reappear. Do you have any beliefs because of your own super-consciousness that could enlighten us on that subject?

Sri Chinmoy: It is a matter of inner belief. The real Christ is taking birth every day in our consciousness. The real Christ is the Christ that is immortal and not the Christ who lived for thirty-three years; not the human Christ, but the divine Christ. The human Christ, the carpenter’s son, lived on earth for thirty-three years, but the divine Christ who realised God, who became one with God, who represented God and still represents God on earth, is still alive and, at the same time, is taking birth in human hearts every day.

Question: Is there any difference between the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of Yoga?

Sri Chinmoy: Ultimately there is no difference. Christ realised God and offered God to mankind. In Yoga, also, the ultimate aim is to realise God and offer Him to humanity.

In Yoga we have four paths. The first three we call major; then there is one which is a branch, but it is also very powerful. The three major paths are the path of Karma Yoga, or selfless action; the path of Bhakti Yoga, or love, devotion and surrender; and the path of Jnana Yoga, or wisdom. In Jnana Yoga there is a significant branch which we call Raja Yoga, the Yoga of mysticism. These four paths all lead to the destined Goal.

Since the teaching of the Christ was founded upon love and compassion, it would fall under the category of Bhakti Yoga. But again, we have to know that love itself is wisdom. To say that love is one thing and that wisdom is something else, is wrong. He who loves God has the greatest wisdom. Love and wisdom cannot be separated. Again, love and service cannot be separated. If I love someone, then I serve him constantly. The very function of my life, the very purpose of my life, is to serve the person I love. So love is service and love is wisdom. But when we want to differentiate the paths, we say that this one is love, this one is wisdom, this one is service and so on.

So, to come back to your question, there is no ultimate difference in teachings. But even in the same subject, each teacher has a different way of interpreting or emphasising the truth. If there are two teachers teaching the same subject, they will interpret it in two different ways. But at the time of examination there will be only one examination. The ultimate teaching of Jesus Christ and the ultimate teaching of our Yoga is conscious oneness with God. The Christ said, “I and my Father are one.” We Indians say, “I am the Brahman.” The Brahman is the absolute Transcendental Reality and Truth. The Christ performed forty-four miracles and gave a most fruitful, soulful sermon. But he has become humanity’s heart, head and life-breath not because of his miracles, but because he said one thing: “Father, let Thy Will be done.” The world has accepted him and is cherishing, treasuring and worshipping him because of this divine utterance: “Father, let Thy Will be done.”

The spiritual Masters try to adapt themselves to the circumstances, to the awakening consciousness of each individual. Some individuals find it easier to follow the path of love, while others find it easier to follow the path of wisdom. Still others find it easier to follow the path of selfless action. But the Goal, the eternal Goal, remains the same. Those who follow the traditional Indian paths of Yoga, and those who follow Christianity, the path of Jesus Christ, will ultimately arrive at the same Goal. The Goal is always one, but the roads can be many.

Sri Ramakrishna And Swami Vivekananda

Question: Who was Ramakrishna?

Sri Chinmoy: Ramakrishna is the child of Mother Kali, the child of the Divine Mother, who is compassion and love. First he came to Mother Kali, the cosmic Mother, then he became the Mother Herself.

Question: A liberated soul has light to a certain extent. Now to please the Supreme, if he enters into the world, is there still the possibility of falling?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly, certainly.

Question: So if he feels that he would like to fulfil the Supreme by going into the world, by manifesting, then there is a danger of his losing the light?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly there is. Sri Ramakrishna brought down another soul as powerful as Vivekananda’s, exactly of the same standard, but he never saw that person on earth. Such a great spiritual Master brought down two liberated souls — Vivekananda and another. But the other one fell. Ignorance covered him, and he never came to his Master. Ignorance enveloped that particular liberated soul to such an extent that Ramakrishna could not find him.

Question: Do you want your disciples to risk the possibility of that kind of experience?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, do I have any liberated souls among my disciples? I want my disciples to meditate here and then to go and work divinely. Aspire and manifest. They both go together. While you are manifesting, you are aspiring; manifestation itself is a form of aspiration. You cannot separate manifestation from aspiration. While you are manifesting anything, you are aspiring for further knowledge, for further light, for further wisdom.

Question: If Ramakrishna wanted to bring a soul down, why couldn't he have brought the second one closer to him so that it was under his influence?

Sri Chinmoy: Sri Ramakrishna did not stay on earth for a long time. He was given limited time. Had he stayed on earth for eight more years, he could have developed somebody else into Vivekananda’s calibre, if he wanted to. But he knew his time limit. Even those who came to him, came only toward the end of his life. They got hardly six or seven years to meditate with him before he left. Even his closest disciples, those who were among that small group, were with him for a very short time.

Question: When that lost soul first came down, couldn't he have brought it closer to him, so that it would have been within the circle where he was?

Sri Chinmoy: But when he himself came, he still had to realise God. He still had to turn a few pages. I was realised in a previous incarnation. Yet I had to work so many years to revise the book, especially during the first three or four years. Twenty years it took me to completely revise that particular book of God-realisation. It takes many years. Ramakrishna was a liberated soul in his previous incarnation. But for him to realise Mother Kali took many years. He did not realise Kali all of a sudden. But once he realised God, then in the two other forms — the Muslim form and the Christian form — he again realised God very easily.

But when it is a matter of getting someone for manifestation on earth, it is really difficult. To get someone like Vivekananda is most difficult. If Vivekananda had not come to the West, who would have manifested Ramakrishna? Nobody! Realisation itself is so difficult, but Ramakrishna did it. He was the body; but for manifestation we also need arms and legs. It is like a tree; just a trunk is not enough. The branches are also necessary. If there are no branches, then nobody will call it a tree.

Question: Why didn't Ramakrishna put the exceptional souls that he brought down into families where he could keep an eye on them ?

Sri Chinmoy: He had confidence that he would find them. Ramakrishna was so strict in accepting disciples. First he used to see occultly, then he used to read the palm and the forehead, and then he used to look into their eyes. He used to accept disciples only after examining them in so many ways. He was not satisfied with seeing only their souls. I scold my disciples when they enjoy ignorance, but I don’t insult them in public. Ramakrishna used to insult people in front of everyone.

Question: Wouldn't divine Grace at least bring the two souls in contact?

Sri Chinmoy: Divine Grace can do everything. But at the same time ignorance is also powerful. Divine Grace is omnipotent, but if one consciously likes ignorance, then the Grace does not force anyone. Smoking is very bad. Suppose someone consciously wants to smoke for a few days. He says that after such and such a date he will give up smoking. But he does not know what may happen during that period. That date may be tomorrow or it may be twenty years later. Then, during those twenty years all his divine possibilities may be lost. In India there are many people who say that spirituality is not meant for them right now. They say: “First let us enjoy the world. After we have lived a long life, then we will meditate.” But long before they are ready to meditate, perhaps they will pass away. In this way ignorance captures us. Then the divine Grace just says, “All right. If he cares so much for ignorance, let him enjoy it.”

Question: As a Catholic, I would like to know how you demonstrate that death is not the final end of our life?

Sri Chinmoy: You see in the resurrection of the Christ that death is not the end. In India also, many spiritual Masters have proved to their dear ones that death is not the end. They have appeared to them in a vivid subtle body. Just one example I will give you. There was a great spiritual Master in India named Sri Ramakrishna. When he left his body, his wife became a widow. In India, when the husband dies, the wife has to take off her bangles and jewels. While Sri Ramakrishna’s wife was doing that, her husband appeared before her so vividly and said to her, “What are you doing? You should not take off these bangles and jewellery. On the contrary, from now on you should wear all golden bracelets and jewellery. Now I have become immortal. Therefore, you should use something more beautiful, more meaningful and fruitful.” There are many, many instances like that, only perhaps they are not recorded.

Question: You once told us that there was a man who failed to realise God at the last moment because his Guru did not help him overcome his doubt. If the man's Guru had been powerful enough, could the Guru have helped the man at that point?

Sri Chinmoy: The Guru was powerful enough. He was alive at that time, but unfortunately the man had had a quarrel with his Guru. The Guru was angry with him; so the Guru did not help him. But he could have done it. If that seeker had not quarrelled with his Guru, he would definitely have realised God.

Sri Ramakrishna gave everything to Vivekananda, but after the Master had left the body, Vivekananda wanted to go to Pahari Baba so many times for further initiation. Ramakrishna, the great Avatar, had initiated him and given everything to him, and then Vivekananda wanted to go to Pahari Baba to get further initiation. So this is how doubt can assail even a great seeker like Vivekananda. After Sri Ramakrishna’s death, Vivekananda went fifteen or sixteen times to Pahari Baba while making up his mind about getting initiation from him. Then finally Ramakrishna appeared to him with a sorrowful face and said, “Don’t go, don’t go.”

Vivekananda’s disciples will say that he had a big heart and he wanted to work for humanity, but he needed better health. That is why he wanted to go to an occultist like Pahari Baba. But real seekers will simply say that if Ramakrishna had wanted him to work on earth for the earth-consciousness, would not Ramakrishna have cured him of his illness? This kind of sickness is nothing for a spiritual figure like Ramakrishna to cure, if he wants to. Vivekananda’s time had come; he had played his role.

Krishna was a great Avatar. But a hunter’s arrow struck him and killed him. But in the Kurukshetra battle, how many weapons the Kauravas used to try to kill Krishna. He was killing everybody with his Sudarshana, his golden disc. He had the power to avoid death if he wanted to. But Krishna knew that he was just playing a game. When his role was over, he allowed the hunter’s arrow to kill him.

Vivekananda was also a spiritual hero. He had finished his role, but his vital wanted to stay on earth, so he went to Pahari Baba even while Sarada Devi was still alive. Even Vivekananda suffered from tremendous doubt. At the last moment, while Ramakrishna was leaving the body, Vivekananda was still doubting him. Then Ramakrishna had to say, “He who is Rama, he who is Krishna, in one form is Ramakrishna.” At that moment and many previous times also, Ramakrishna gave Vivekananda so many higher experiences. He got everything from Ramakrishna. When Vivekananda’s devotion came to the fore, he said that from a grain of sand Sri Ramakrishna could make thousands of Vivekanandas. If he had maintained that kind of faith he would never have gone to Pahari Baba, who was infinitely inferior to Sri Ramakrishna. But this is what doubt can do. Doubt can capture even a hero like Vivekananda. Doubt has the power to turn a lion into a house cat.

Question: Do you notice the results of the work that Vivekananda did in America?

Sri Chinmoy: The great souls, liberated souls, realised souls, the earth-saviours, come into this world for world-transformation, but it is practically in vain. They come here, but they can hardly achieve anything. It was Vivekananda who brought Indian spirituality to the West. It lasted, but it would have lasted longer if so many Hatha Yoga teachers had not come to the West. On the one hand, you can say that Westerners, since they were not very spiritual to begin with, did the right thing by starting with Hatha Yoga, which is like kindergarten. There is a great difference between Hatha Yoga exercises and ordinary physical exercises, and there is a great advantage in doing Hatha Yoga. But on the other hand, if they had started with the yoga of concentration and meditation right from the beginning, as the Indians do, they would have made much faster progress. There are many ashrams in India where they do not practise Hatha Yoga at all. They do not give any importance to Hatha Yoga there. In the same way, they could have started with real meditation in America.

But a great number of swamis came here after Vivekananda and started teaching Hatha Yoga. They ignored meditation and the inner life, so Westerners associated Yoga with only physical exercises. Vivekananda’s Vedanta movement was thwarted by Hatha Yoga here. Again, there were some in America who cared for deeper spirituality. Then the Hatha Yoga teachers, who perhaps never meditated in India, became clever. They attached meditation to their own teachings so that they could keep at least some disciples.

But when it is a matter of meditation, I wish to say that many of my own disciples have meditated for a longer period and more sincerely than some of these swamis did in India. They may have stayed there for thirty, forty or even fifty years, but out of those forty or fifty years perhaps they did not meditate seriously for even one month. Some of these teachers did not have a spiritual Master at all, while others went to a spiritual figure for a very short time. Then they came to the West and banked on their Master’s name. They said, “I had so-and-so as my Master.” But some of these so-called disciples did not even stay at the Master’s ashram. Or they may have stayed at the ashram for a day or a month. When the Masters were alive, perhaps these swamis were their worst disciples. The Masters may never even have known that these disciples were with them. But then these so-called disciples became the self-styled “chosen instruments” of their Master in the West.

The Buddha

Question: I see you wearing yellow and that, in a way, signifies Gautama Buddha's teaching. He said that the soul would come back with an immediate incarnation.

Sri Chinmoy: No, Gautama Buddha did not care for reincarnation. In his philosophy, once you enter into Nirvana, then the cycle of rebirth is finished. Once you have entered Nirvana, you do not care for reincarnation. The Lord Buddha did not care for reincarnation. He simply said that once you enter into Nirvana, then your role is finished. But other spiritual Masters do want to come down into the world again to serve humanity.

Question: What are your views on reincarnation?

Sri Chinmoy: Reincarnation is necessary for ordinary human beings, but not for God-realised souls. But if it is the Supreme’s Will that I take another incarnation, then I will have to come down. Otherwise, a God-realised soul can stay always in the highest Bliss. But the highest kind of Bliss is also this: to serve the Supreme and humanity. The Buddha did not care for this kind of service. He advised his followers to stay in Nirvana. There are already hundreds of souls who have entered into Nirvana and who are not coming down again. They Feel that the world has given them enough bad experiences. They are more than satisfied with these and they do not want to come back. So those who follow the strict path of the Lord Buddha and achieve their highest Goal are not for reincarnation. They will not come back into the world and will not accept any more suffering from the world.

The Buddha wanted to remain always in perfect Bliss. He did not care for the transformation of the physical nature. He felt that once you can escape from the cycle of human suffering, you should stay in Bliss. But the Hindu philosophy says that you should work to transform the suffering of humanity. The Buddha had a heart larger than the universe. He cried for the end of human suffering, but his wisdom took him to another road. If you follow that road, you do not come back into the world once you have attained liberation.

There is another Nirvana which is higher than the Nirvana that the Buddha realised. In his later years the Buddha once said that he did not want to have the highest Nirvana until all human beings were liberated. But then he entered into his own Nirvana and he did not come back to earth.

According to the great Indian spiritual Masters, the Buddha was the most perfect man that Mother Earth possessed. Ramakrishna and Vivekananda and many others said that the Buddha was the most perfect man on earth.

Question: What part does the soul play in the Buddha's philosophy?

Sri Chinmoy: The Buddha did not use the term “soul,” but he did say that there is an inner being, an inner existence. He said that it is our inner existence which is eventually freed from the fetters of ignorance. We are all in ignorance, but there is an inner subtle existence which he never called “the soul.” He used the term “inner being,” or “inner existence,” which cannot be affected by disease, decay or death. This was his term.

Other Masters

Question: Was Lord Krishna's Rasalila, or nectar-love play, with the gopis sheer imagination?

Sri Chinmoy: No. The surrendered seeker’s realisation of the Love infinite is called Rasalila. This play is humanity’s salvation and Divinity’s Compassion.

Question: Did Krishna's life with the gopis help them spiritually in any way?

Sri Chinmoy: It helped them tremendously. They were ordinary human beings and they got divine joy and divine inspiration from him. They became far superior to ordinary women.

Question: Would you tell us about the souls of Ramanuja, Shankara and Madhava? Did they realise God?

Sri Chinmoy: They were all intellectual giants. At the same time, they had great aspiration. Some people are of the opinion that Shankara was an incarnation of the Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is a great spiritual Being; he is one of the gods in our Hindu Trinity. But in terms of realisation, Shankara cannot be placed on the same footing as a real spiritual Master or a Yogi. According to some spiritual giants, he was not a God-realised soul. And Ramanuja and Madhava were far below him. But all of them spoke on Vedanta philosophy, and they actually established three different paths. Ultimately, these three paths have only one aim. When we enter into each path, we feel that at the end of the journey, they reach the same goal.

Shankara lived in the eighth century A.D. Today in India, Shankhara is considered as a saint, a spiritual giant, but it is not absolutely correct. Realised souls are in a different category. And Madhava and Ramanuja were far from God-realisation in the strict sense of the term.

Question: Would you tell us something about Sri Aurobindo?

Sri Chinmoy: If you want to know about Sri Aurobindo, I would advise you to read his books, especially The Life Divine. The Life Divine is about his own life, his own realisation, his own manifestation. His disciples have also written many books on him but the books that he has written himself are infinitely better than all the books written by his disciples put together. If you read The Life Divine, you will know the message, the unique message, which Sri Aurobindo brought down into the earth-consciousness. The Life Divine is his highest realisation and his divine manifestation. This book says everything.

There are many genuine spiritual Masters who have not written anything. In his case, the world is extremely fortunate that he offered his infinite inner wisdom-light through his writings. One may not want to read all his books, but one book is enough. If you read Thee Divine, you will feel what he is and what he has to offer. But again, what he is, is infinitely superior to his book, to any book or to all the books put together. But whatever the world could receive from his writings he offered through that book. So if you want to know more about Sri Aurobindo, I advise you to read this supremely unparalleled book.

Question: Who was the first man to realise God?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not recorded. According to Indian tradition, it was Ramachandra. But the name of the first man who actually realised God is not recorded in world history. So I cannot say, because then there would be terrible controversy.

Question: Was Shiva ever in the physical?

Sri Chinmoy: No, Lord Shiva was not in the physical like Sri Krishna. He remained in the subtle physical and stayed in the Himalayas. The Christ was in the physical, the Buddha was in the physical, but Lord Shiva was in the subtle physical. In the subtle physical Shiva was really real.

Question: What was Ramanuja's philosophy?

Sri Chinmoy: Ramanuja says that we can be one with God, but at the same time there will be a slight difference. God will always be slightly above us, so that we shall have to worship Him. None of us will ever be the same as God. Although we may become one with God’s Consciousness in the field of realisation and manifestation, we will always remain a devotee.

The servant has already made his inner connection with the Master. The servant knows what the Master’s will is, and he has a free access to the Master. But the servant is still the servant, and the Master is the Master. His philosophy says that if God remains an inch higher than the devotee, then the devotee will get utmost joy. The followers of the path of devotion always want to be just an inch apart from the Highest so that they can taste it. But in the path of knowledge and wisdom, the aspirants want to merge with the highest Truth. They do not want only to taste; they want to become totally one. Ramanuja took the path of devotion. Ramakrishna also did that. They wanted to taste the supreme Bliss and be completely satisfied.

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