Aspiration-Tree

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Question: What is the relationship between aspiration and will-power?

Sri Chinmoy: Aspiration is usually inside the heart. We can call it the heart's property; it is the heart's cry. Will-power is inside the third eye. It is the dynamic reality that wants to conquer and possess everything in a twinkling. Of course, the unhorizoned will-power of the soul may be seen and felt inside the very depths of the aspiring heart. Likewise, tremendous inner pangs and a sense of total frustration can be visible around the third eye at times. Gradually, the essence of these deplorable realities enters into the third eye. At that time, the seeker sees and feels clearly either that his aspiration is passing through the third eye and entering into the outer world or that his aspiration is passing through his crown centre. With the third eye we see the past, present and future. The past may come as total frustration, the present may appear before us as total frustration, the future also may do the same. And from this sense of total frustration at times we develop an inner cry.

Question: How can we keep our aspiration strong when we are far away from you?

Sri Chinmoy: There are quite a few ways to keep your aspiration strong. You can read my writings and sing my songs. These are easy ways, but the easiest, most effective way is to feel that my presence or my existence on earth is your only friend. You will not depend on yourself: not on your mind, not on your vital, not on any part of your existence. Only you will depend on the Grace of the Supreme, which I embody. You have to make yourself feel that you exist precisely because the Supreme operates in and through me unreservedly and unconditionally on your behalf, with boundless love, boundless concern, boundless compassion, boundless light and delight. If you feel this kind of reality within you no matter where I am, and if you feel me constantly in your heart, then the disciples cannot create any problems for you. I am the rose and the disciples are the petals. If you like the rose, appreciate the rose, admire the rose, then the petals that comprise the rose you have to appreciate. Rose and petals are inseparable. So, take me as the rose-reality, and let the rose inside your heart grow petal by petal and offer its fragrance. If you can feel that this rose-reality is your only reality and that I am all the time growing inside your heart, then you will depend only on my guidance, inner and outer. Your mind may say, "What does Guru know about this thing? I know better because Guru has not dealt with this kind of situation." But I do not deal with the mind. I deal only with the soul. And your soul naturally knows better than anybody else on earth.

Question: Guru, how can I retain my aspiration and help to manifest and serve the Supreme through my music and still not be affected by the people involved in the music business who are concerned only with dollar signs?

Sri Chinmoy: You can transform the nature of those who care more for money than for real music. How? You have to make yourself feel at every moment that your music is not something to excite humanity but something to illumine humanity. If it is excitement, then only the vital is fed. If it is illumination, then the entire being is fed. So, when you think of music, always think of illumination. Take music as something that constantly illumines and not as something that brings money and will make you a multi-millionaire. Always make those people who are money-minded feel that it is illumination that can come from your music and not money-power.

Question: How does the vital aspire?

Sri Chinmoy: If it is a bad vital, then it has to be pulled and pushed. If it is a good vital, then it watches what the heart does and tries to do the same thing. It depends on the vital that you have or that anybody has. If it is a bad vital, then it is like a child that does not want to take a bath. So the mother has to pull the child or push the child into the pond. But if it is a good vital, then it always listens to the heart and gets joy. The bad vital has to be forced. This is the only way this vital will aspire. But if it is the good vital, then it automatically follows the heart.

Question: Guru, does aspiration create receptivity?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. Aspiration is bound to create receptivity. They go together; receptivity creates aspiration, aspiration creates receptivity. When you give joy to someone, that person gives you joy. When you smile at a person, that person smiles at you. When you say nice words to someone, that person says nice words to you. So here also, aspiration and receptivity are like two friends. When you aspire, at that time receptivity comes and shakes hands with you. And when you are receptive, aspiration feels that it has found a home in you. Receptivity is just like a home. A person can't live in the street; he has to stay in a home. Then again, what good is a home if there is nobody to live in it? So, aspiration and receptivity need each other. Receptivity is the home and aspiration just comes and lives there. The home gives joy to the inhabitant, which is aspiration, and aspiration gives joy to receptivity by staying there and not loitering around in the street. Aspiration and receptivity create constant joy in each other.

Question: What can we do to keep this spot, where you have planted this tree, a place of constant aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: Each day, no matter how bad the weather is, one of the disciples can come and meditate here. You can do it early in the morning, at seven o'clock or so, for five or ten or fifteen minutes. When you offer your aspiration to the tree, it is just like feeding a little child. There are forty or fifty members in your Centre. One day you feed the child, another day somebody else comes. You can't live on yesterday's food. Each day the child has to be fed. If you come every day and feed this place with your aspiration, then it becomes strong. The little child will grow up one day and become the pride of the family. Then people will feel something here.

If a saint sits at the foot of a tree and later you also sit on the particular spot, you don't know why but you feel a kind of saintly feeling. And again, if you sit where somebody unaspiring and undivine has been, then you feel wrong forces, lower vital thoughts, undivine thoughts coming into you. So here also, if you come early in the morning and offer your own aspiration to this place, people are bound to feel something. But if you don't come, then there will be some very unaspiring person from the neighbourhood who will come and the aspiration here will be lost. So, if everybody takes it seriously and can come here to pray and meditate, it will definitely add to the aspiration which will be shared by the tree and all who will come. So, please try.

Question: How can we create aspiration in the physical body?

Sri Chinmoy: We can create aspiration in the physical body by taking shelter in something superior to the physical. We can create aspiration in the physical by taking shelter in the dynamic vital. Similarly, we can create aspiration in the dynamic vital by entering into the illumining mind. Then again, we can create aspiration in the illumining mind by entering into the loving heart. Always we have to go to the superior. Then only we can create aspiration in the inferior world.

Question: Does lack of sleep decrease our aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know how much sleep your body needs. If your body needs six hours of sleep and you sleep for only three hours, then it will definitely tell upon your health. Lack of aspiration is not due to a mere lack of sleep. To some extent, it is due to the fact that your frail body is not able to cope with your great dedication. So what will you do? If the body needs seven hours of sleep to strengthen it, then do not suddenly cut down your sleep from seven hours to four hours. Bring it to six, then five and a half, then five. Then, if you feel that you are going to be another Sri Chinmoy, you can go on. Bring it to four, three, two. But if you feel that in this incarnation there should be only one Sri Chinmoy and one X, then stop either at five and a half hours or at a minimum of five hours. If you go to two hours or three hours, then definitely you are competing with me. But even then you can't compete, because sometimes for days and weeks at a time I don't sleep at all. My chair is my friend. So, don't try to compete with me; only compete with your own capacity. The best thing is to identify yourself with my capacity and feel that you can do with almost no sleep. But when it is a matter of your own health, I must tell you that you definitely need more than three or four hours' sleep a night. Sometimes the body is not affected all at once. It may take three years, four years, six years. So, if you feel that your aspiration is lacking, which fortunately it is not, then you can increase your sleep. But if you can keep up your aspiration, then you can sleep five hours. All the disciples who are normal should sleep for no more than seven hours. If you sleep for eleven hours, then you become abnormal. Some disciples do it. I have two disciples who sleep at least sixteen or seventeen hours. But they are not from this Centre, so you don't have to worry.

Question: Why is my aspiration lower in the morning?

Sri Chinmoy: Your aspiration is not low in the morning. The only thing is, some runners have a slow start when the starter fires the gun, but in a few minutes' time they speed up. So, if you take it in that way, you can say that you have a poor start, but in a few seconds or a few hours you speed up. You may ask why. Perhaps the previous evening you were not concentrating on the determination-aspect of your life. The determination-aspect you get when you concentrate on the navel area and bring the life-energy upwards. From the navel it has to go to the heart and then, from the heart, you bring it to the head. It should pass through the crown centre. From the navel it has to go up, and then you get tremendous determination.

In your case, don't worry if the start is slow, as long as you can pick up the speed. Sometimes people have a very good start and after ten metres they collapse. They can't keep up the same speed. But if you have a slow start and then during the whole day if you can run very fast, it is wonderful. But if you want to have a very good start and also maintain the same speed, then concentrate on the navel and bring the life-energy upwards. Then you will have tremendous energy and the following day you will have a very good meditation.

Question: How can we create more energy inside ourselves so we can aspire more?

Sri Chinmoy: While you are breathing you have to imagine and feel that an abundance of life-energy is entering into you. Life-energy is nothing but aspiration. You know how much air you are allowing your body to accept while you are inhaling. If you feel that a certain amount of breath you are inhaling in the normal way, then while you are meditating you have to feel that each breath that you are breathing in is at least ten times larger than usual. This breath creates an abundant supply of energy. When you are consciously trying to bring in more energy, you have to feel that a surplus, an abundant supply of energy is entering. This energy is nothing but aspiration, an immediate increase of aspiration.

Question: Guru, is ecstatic love of God the highest type of aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: Love is undoubtedly aspiration. But the thing is that if you have love of God, that is one reality. You may become self-complacent and remain satisfied with that love. But inside that love if you have the aspiration to increase it, then that is the highest type of aspiration. Everything has its capacity. Love itself has its own capacity. But if, inside love, there is an intense aspiration to increase that love, then that is the highest form of aspiration. If you say that this is final, that more than that you cannot have, then that is not the highest form of aspiration. Aspiration is continuous progress, continuous transcendence. So, ecstatic love is very good, but it has to be a climbing and ever-transcending ecstasy. Then only is it the highest type of aspiration. If the ecstasy is not increasing or heightening, then it becomes a stagnant pool, no matter how much ecstasy you are enjoying. The highest type of aspiration is continuous transcendence, self-transcendence.

Question: Guru, how can we keep our aspiration and not be affected by unpleasant outer situations?

Sri Chinmoy: Your sister is the culprit, or your mother is the culprit, or your father is the culprit, or your friend is the culprit, or your spiritual brother is the culprit, or the customer is the culprit. Right? Or perhaps your own mind is the culprit. So, how can you maintain your aspiration? There are two ways. One way is to feel, "If I had been in her position, in his position, I don't think I could have done any better." Always make yourself feel that you could not have done an inch better than the other one who is creating problems. Feel that perhaps you would have done even worse. You are getting an unpleasant experience from so and so. You should feel at that time, "Oh, if I had been in the same situation, or if I had been a victim to wrong thoughts, a wrong environment and wrong ideas, I would have behaved worse than that particular person." Always make yourself humble and feel your oneness with the other person. In this way, the unpleasantness that you have got from the experience will go away. This is the human way of dealing with the problem.

The other way, the divine way, is to ask for illumination: "O Supreme, grant me illumination." If your heart is fully illumined, if you yourself become illumination, at that time you don't see darkness. If you are all light within and without, then how can you see darkness? So, if you become illumination you will always see illumination around you. It is we who are neither completely in light nor completely in darkness who will see somebody as light and somebody else as darkness. But when I become illumination itself, at that time I can't see anything but illumination. I am that. Again, if I am really all darkness, then I will not be able to see light anywhere, because my consciousness is enveloped totally.

A few days ago in Puerto Rico, a disciple asked me a question. She said, "Sometimes I am afraid of looking at you because I have so much impurity and so many undivine forces. Do you not see them as soon as you look at me?" I said, "When I am in my highest consciousness, at that time I don't see you even as a human being. I don't see your mistakes, or your impurity, or your insecurity. No, far from it. When I am in my highest consciousness, at that time I see you as an exact prototype of my own reality. I enjoy myself very nicely as the universal Reality. When I am in this consciousness, the seer and the object of his vision are all one. At that time I see only myself, like in an X-ray. Before the X-ray I am standing and I see myself. So, how can I see impurity or insecurity or anything undivine? But when I am in this ordinary consciousness, which is just a few hundred miles above you, from here I can see how much impurity you have, how much insecurity you have."

So, when you are in your highest, which is illumination, at that time nothing can affect you because you are not seeing anybody as another person. You are seeing only yourself. If you remain in your mountain-top consciousness, then nothing will affect you. But if you want to stay at the foot of the mountain, then naturally you will see that there are all kinds of animals around you. They are biting you and strangling you. But if you remain on the top of the mountain, there is nothing that will affect you, nothing.

Question: With our extremely limited inner vision, how is it possible to separate aspiration and desire? They get merged so easily.

Sri Chinmoy: Aspiration and desire can easily be separated. If it is aspiration, automatically your existence will be separated from desire. If it is aspiration, unconditionally you will give to mankind whatever you are getting. If it is sincere aspiration, then the act of giving itself is the greatest joy. If you do something out of aspiration, then that very thing is your greatest joy, your greatest boon. But if it is desire, after ten years there will be a condition. Today you have a good desire to give something to mankind: a few fruits or a sum of money or something. But after ten years you will say, "Look at how ungrateful humanity is! I gave so much of my precious life, my material wealth, this and that, but humanity didn't give me any credit; it didn't thank me at all." Desire will always cry for the result, either immediately or after ten or twenty years. But aspiration will not cry for the result. Aspiration will only cry to become unconditionally one with God's Will.

And another thing, when I request you to do certain things for me, it is not that I am looking for the result. Far from it. I tell you, after God-realisation, there is nothing on earth that can charm me. Only one thing charms me and that is your eagerness to receive more Light, more Peace, more Bliss. When I ask you people to do something for me, it is only to create more receptivity in your life. If I ask you to make something for me, please feel that that very thing I do not need. Believe me, if I don't have a four-track tape player, I will be able to exist on earth. But if you feel that you are working for me, then immediately your own aspiration increases. By staying on earth, if I can increase your aspiration, then I will feel that it is worth doing. Otherwise, no material object, nothing on earth, will add to my realisation. My realisation envelops my whole existence: body-reality, vital-reality, mind-reality, psychic-reality, everything. So nothing can add to it.

One disciple has asked the Mayor to proclaim a "Sri Chinmoy Day." Now, if the Mayor had not declared it "Sri Chinmoy Day," I don't think that my aspiration would have descended or that my realisation would have been taken away. No, but this disciple's aspiration increased like anything because in his own limited way he has tried to serve his Guru. The more you do for me, the more you expand your love for God, Truth and Light.

Each time you do something for me, you are creating more receptivity and bringing forward your soul's illumination. So, ultimately it is you who gain, not I. But if you feel that you are working for yourself, then you are finished! Again, by becoming one with your achievement, I also gain. I cannot separate my achievement from yours. Your achievements I claim as my own. But unfortunately, you don't claim my achievements as yours. When you achieve something, I tell you, I sincerely feel that it is I who have achieved it. But when I achieve something, you say, "He has done it. He will get the credit. He will get the glory." No, no, no! Always become one with my aspiration and then you will be able to claim all my achievements as your very own.

Question: What is the fastest way to increase aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: The fastest way to increase aspiration is through self-dedication and self-giving. Self-giving contains the supreme secret of oneness with God's Will. Before we do something, we have to feel that a divine force is acting in and through us. And when we do the thing and get the result either in the form of failure or success, we have to feel that this is the experience that the Unseen Hand wants us to have and we have to become one with that experience. If it is failure, we take it as an experience. If it is success, we also take it as an experience. Always we have to be one with the result and offer it at the Feet of the Supreme. In this way we make the fastest progress.

Question: Guru, how can I keep my aspiration intense?

Sri Chinmoy: Only think of the first day that you saw me. When you came to New York and saw me for the first time, you experienced such joy that perhaps you thought that either you had realised God or you were about to realise God. That was the experience. Every day when you look at my Transcendental picture, try to have the same type of experience. Feel that you are seeing someone whom you have known eternally in the heart of your heart. Every day try to have that feeling of newness with the everlasting Reality which you experienced three years ago. One who realises God is at once most ancient and ever new. So, while you look at the Transcendental picture, if you can feel the same thrill, the same joy, the same aspiration, then easily you will be able to maintain your standard. The aspiration is not actually the same, for here we believe in the process of self-transcendence. But you have to start with the joy that you got the first time you saw me in my highest meditation, and from there you transcend, transcend.

Question: Guru, how can we have a powerful love and concern for our life of aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: Feel that the day you do not aspire, inside you somebody literally dies. What dies is the most beautiful child which you call the soul. Forget about the philosophy that says the soul never dies. Take the soul as something tangible, a little child, a little plant. If you don't water the plant inside you every day, the plant dies. Or, if you don't feed the child every day, he becomes weak and dies. If you don't pray and meditate, then the soul is not getting nourishment. On yesterday's food you cannot exist; on yesterday's meditation you cannot exist. So, if you love the soul, every day you shall pray and meditate. Your love for the soul itself is your aspiration.

Question: Is the world aspiring more today than in the past?

Sri Chinmoy: The world is undoubtedly aspiring more than it did, say, at the end of the nineteenth century. But if we say that the world is aspiring more now than it did four thousand or five thousand years ago, then we are making a mistake. The world is progressing on the material plane. Mechanically and scientifically the world has progressed like anything. But spiritually there is a wave-like movement; it goes up and then it goes down.

America is the world for us. There is no other world. When we think of the Western world, immediately we think of America, just as when we say Asia, immediately we think of India. India is not Asia, but Asia takes the credit for India's spirituality. Similarly, America is not the Western world, but when we say America, immediately we think of the whole modern world. Aspiration in the last fifteen or twenty or fifty years has undoubtedly increased in comparison to what existed two hundred or three hundred years ago, especially in America. Without the least possible hesitation, I can say that America's inner cry has abundantly increased. But again, the scientific mind, the doubtful mind, has also increased. Positive forces and negative forces have both increased.

Fifteen years ago America had a kind of aspiration. Then, some spiritual Masters came from India and the aspiration increased. True, some undivine Masters gave you people counterfeit coins, false coins. But you didn't know that they were false coins. You thought that they were real coins, so you ran after them. Then, a day came when you said, "No, these are false coins." Your eagerness to grab the coins was your aspiration. Unfortunately, they were false coins. But the eagerness you had to get the coins, your aspiration or love of Truth or love of God, was already kindled. Then, some good Masters came and the problem was solved.

Question: Guru, how can we keep the glow that you bring when you come but seems to go when you go?

Sri Chinmoy: Suppose you work in an office. Even while you are writing out the bills or doing correspondence, you can think of your mother or father. Your hand is doing one thing, but your heart is doing something else. The hand and mind are writing down the proper address, the proper name and so on, but the heart is with your near and dear ones.

So here also, even when I am not physically present, you can feel me inside your heart. The child is playing in the living room and the mother is in the kitchen. The child does not have to see his mother all the time, because he feels her presence inside his heart. So, if you can all the time think of me and feel me in the innermost depths of your heart, then easily you can keep the glow that I bring when I am with you in the physical.

Question: How do you get joy out of doing something you don't like?

Sri Chinmoy: That is called the supreme sacrifice. How can one get the greatest joy? Not by possessing, but by sacrificing. If I have ten dollars and just keep it inside my pocket, I will get one kind of joy. It is the joy of a shylock. But if I can give away the ten dollars, that is a supreme sacrifice. If a thing is done in my own way, naturally I will get joy. But always I have to ask myself, "Am I a beggar that I will only get joy from one particular thing?" A beggar only gets joy in one particular way: if somebody gives him alms or food. But you are not a beggar. So, every time you have to ask yourself, "Am I a beggar that I can get joy only by pleasing myself the way I want to be pleased?"

Your soul's name is Nirvik; it means indomitable, fearless. If you hate to do a particular thing, and if this hatred keeps you from doing that thing, it means that your hatred has more power than your own indomitable capacity. So, you are the loser there. Hatred is one reality and fearlessness is another. But you cannot allow your fearlessness to surrender to your hatred. When Ali and Norton fight together, then we see who wins. So here also, hatred is a boxer and you yourself are a boxer. Hatred itself is a power, a negative power. And that negative power is fighting with your own quality of fearlessness. So, you have to defeat your enemy.

There are two ways to make yourself happy. One way is to run away and hide. You don't want to be seen. You don't want to be affected. The other way is to act like a roaring lion and fight. You tell this hatred, "You have come. All right, let me devour you with my roaring!" If everything is done in your own way, then the result will be very limited, very limited. "In your own way" means that you will try something for one second and then run. Today you will give up one thing because it is too difficult. Tomorrow you will give up another thing because that is too difficult. But everything is difficult. Life itself is difficult.

But if you do everything in God's Way, then you don't give up. Always you have to fight. Always you have to conquer, but not in the way that Caesar or Napoleon conquered. Caesar conquered and Napoleon conquered by seeing others' reality as totally different from their own reality. But you won't see it in that way. They thought that whoever did not see eye to eye with them was their enemy. But you will say that whoever does not see eye to eye with you is part and parcel of your own reality. If you are unable to feel your oneness with him, then it is a failing on your part. God is omniscient, God is omnipresent, God is everything precisely because He is one with everything and everybody.

So you have to take it as a challenge. Always you have to try to conquer your lower qualities and lower capacities and transform them into your higher qualities and capacities. At one particular place you are pure; at another place you are impure. While walking along the street you have stepped into a mudhole. Right up to the knee it is all dirt, filth, mud, clay. But from the knee upward, it is all clean. Now, if you say, "Oh, I am dirty, filthy, impure; so let me cut off my leg from the knee," then you won't be able to walk. You have only to clean the leg and purify it. Similarly, when you see hatred as part of your existence, you try to transform and illumine it. If you can feel that hatred is also part and parcel of your reality, but that it is something which needs improvement, purification and perfection, then easily you can conquer it. You feel that it is an insufficiency, a weakness, a shortcoming, a limitation in yourself, and not a reality apart from your own reality.

Question: What is aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: Aspiration is an inner hunger for God's Love, Light and Bliss.

Question: Does surrender grow with increased aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. Surrender is bound to grow with increased aspiration. The purer our aspiration is, the deeper is our surrender.

Question: Can we increase our aspiration the fastest by expanding our gratitude?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. We can increase our aspiration by expanding our gratitude. What is gratitude? Gratitude is not only an outer acknowledgement of God's Compassion-Light but also a discovery of man's oneness and God's infinite Bliss.

Question: How can you maintain high aspiration when you are working many hours every day with unaspiring people?

Sri Chinmoy: When you are forced to work every day with unaspiring people, you can maintain your high aspiration in the same way that the best student in the class manages to study with bad students. The best student knows that he has a goal. He has to learn his lesson thoroughly, he has to please his teacher, he has to be inundated with knowledge-light; whereas the bad students are either totally ignorant of these things or they do not care for these things. Similarly, while you are working with unaspiring people, you have to give all your attention to your inner life of aspiration. You have to feel that your life of aspiration has a definite goal: realisation of the highest Absolute.

Question: How can we have divine aspiration constantly?

Sri Chinmoy: We can have divine aspiration constantly, provided we know and feel that aspiration is the life-breath of our Lord Supreme within us.

Question: How can we feel our aspiration in our day-to-day activities — such as in a hectic office — as intensely as we feel it when we meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: No doubt, it is a difficult task to maintain intense aspiration while you are involved in multifarious outer activities, but it is not an impossible task. If you become an absolutely sincere seeker, then no matter where you are or with whom you are, you are bound to feel an inner cry. This inner cry can and will become constant if your heart is nothing but sincerity and purity.

Question: How can we be sure to regain our aspiration at an early age in our next incarnation?

Sri Chinmoy: If you want aspiration to be paramount in your next incarnation, you can be sure to regain it at an early age only by concentrating and meditating on your next incarnation. But my advice to all of you is this: the present is more than enough to give you what you desperately need. Don't brood on the past, which is dust. Again, don't build castles in the air about the future. Aspiration tries and cries to achieve everything here and now. Don't think of leaving anything for the next incarnation.

Question: How can I create a more fertile environment in my home so that aspiration will grow in the hearts of my children?

Sri Chinmoy: You can create a more fertile environment in your home for aspiration to grow in the hearts of your children only by consciously feeling that you yourself are another child who needs guidance from within. As a child needs outer guidance from his parents, even so you need inner guidance from the eternal Father Supreme.

Question: How can a family aspire?

Sri Chinmoy: A family can aspire the same way that a tree aspires. A tree aspires with its branches, leaves, flowers and fruits. As each branch, each leaf, each flower and each fruit has an intense desire to please man, even so each member of the human family can develop a strong desire to please God the Source. This desire to please God is nothing short of man's aspiration.

Question: Sometimes I feel that my aspiration drops just after it has been very strong. How can I keep my aspiration ever strong and growing?

Sri Chinmoy: It is by constant, sincere effort that you can maintain a strong and growing aspiration. This effort has to be founded on unconditional self-giving to the Inner Pilot. If you can give yourself unconditionally to the Inner Pilot, then without fail you will have very strong and ever-growing aspiration.

Question: Is it better to aspire consistently on a lower level or to go way up only to fall down again the next day?

Sri Chinmoy: It is better to aspire to a higher level and stay there for a minute or two than to stay on the lower level all the time. Even if you fall down from the higher level, you know that there is a higher level and that there is or should be a way that you can stay up there permanently once you have gone there. And what is that way? Through constantly increasing your heart's inner cry. If you do not go to a higher level, then you will never know that there is a level other than your own, and you will not aspire to reach it. So, you should aspire sincerely for a higher level, because the higher level is infinitely more illumining and fulfilling.

Question: Through what form of aspiration can I grow and blossom most soulfully to please the Supreme?

Sri Chinmoy: Aspiration-life is meditation. Aspiration-life is dedication. Through meditation and through dedication you can and must grow and blossom most soulfully in order to please the Supreme in His own way.

Question: What is the most fertile soil for the aspiration-tree?

Sri Chinmoy: A childlike heart is the most fertile soil for the aspiration-tree. A childlike heart is always unparallelled in feeling constantly God's Love, God's Compassion and God's Light.

Question: When will the sun of aspiration rise to fully illumine every aspect of my existence?

Sri Chinmoy: The sun of aspiration will rise to fully illumine every aspect of your existence only when you constantly feel that the sun of aspiration is the only reality-existence in your life and in God's entire creation.

Question: What is the difference between aspiration and God's Grace?

Sri Chinmoy: The difference between aspiration and God's Grace is very simple. God's Grace prepares the God-meal, whereas aspiration eats and enjoys the God-meal.

Question: Can aspiration significantly change the soul's capacity?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul has all capacities. It is only the physical mind, the vital and the body-consciousness that need the capacity to do the right thing and grow into the right thing. If you sincerely aspire, then your aspiration will significantly increase your capacity in every part of your existence.

Question: What is the relationship between inner happiness and aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: There is no difference between inner happiness and aspiration. They are one. Aspiration is the flame and happiness is the light of the flame.

Question: What should we do when our aspiration starts to slip?

Sri Chinmoy: When your aspiration starts to slip, you have to cry like a child. When a child's favourite object is taken away by somebody forcefully, the child cries. On hearing his cry, his father comes and brings him back his favourite object. If you also cry in the same way when your aspiration is taken away by the hostile forces, then the Supreme, the Eternal Father, will bring you back your aspiration.

Question: Why do places of vast natural beauty — such as the ocean, mountain ranges and so on — kindle our aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: Vastness and height always kindle our aspiration. God has a special Dream to fulfil through vastness and height and it is God's most significant inner Dream inside vastness and height that kindles our aspiration.

Question: Is aspiration a beginningless and endless reality within us?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. Aspiration is undoubtedly a beginningless and endless reality within us. When it is beginningless we call it vision, and when it is endless we call it satisfaction.

Question: How can my aspiration help me when I am in the midst of a conflict with my students?

Sri Chinmoy: Your aspiration can help you without fail when you are in the midst of a conflict with your students, for aspiration is nothing short of illumination. Conflict cannot maintain its power when aspiration-illumination dawns on your students.

Question: How does a spiritual seeker involved in a business career, with all the temptations and forces inherent in its environment, transform his career into an expression of aspiration and an offering to the Supreme?

Sri Chinmoy: To start with, a spiritual seeker involved in a business career should always make sure that his business life is not the same as an ordinary businessman's life. Just because he is a seeker, he has a special goal. His goal is to manifest God's Light through his money-power or material wealth. With his money-power he is not going to compete with other businessmen. What he will do with his money-power is to become a greater and better instrument of the Supreme Pilot for His complete manifestation on earth. Life is temptation, true. But life is also dedication. If dedication-life we experience as our very own, then one day inside the heart of our dedication-life we are bound to discover illumination, which is the only all-fulfilling satisfaction both here on earth and there in Heaven.

Question How can I protect my aspiration from the pull of forces that love me in the outer world?

Sri Chinmoy: You can protect your aspiration from the pull of forces that love you in the outer world by allowing the forces of the inner world to pull you constantly. These inner forces are God's Compassion for you, God's Love for you, God's Concern for you and God's constant, blessingful Oneness with you.

Question: In my life of aspiration, at certain times is it better to give in to a desire which is beyond my capacity to deal with effectively?

Sri Chinmoy: In your life of aspiration, it is an act of sheer stupidity to give in to a desire because it is beyond your power to deal with it effectively. It is like surrendering to your enemy and then saying, "Who knows, one day the enemy may be kind enough to allow me to defeat him." Will the enemy ever give you the chance to be the victor? This is absurd. Desire is your enemy. Once you enter into the life of aspiration, the life of desire is undoubtedly your worst adversary. Desire will never give you the opportunity to conquer it. Once you give in, not only do you lose all your strength, but also your own strength becomes added to your enemy's strength. Whatever strength your enemy had becomes more powerful, because your own strength he also takes when you surrender. So never give up. Fight, fight to the end and win the victory.

Question: Can dynamic aspiration feed itself so that our aspiration becomes increasingly intense?

Sri Chinmoy: No, aspiration cannot feed itself. Aspiration is hunger. How can hunger satisfy itself? There has to be a meal. God's Grace is the meal. Aspiration has to be fed by God's Grace.

Question: What parts of our being aspire while we are sleeping?

Sri Chinmoy: It can either be one of our inner beings that needs no sleep or part of our central being that aspires while we are sleeping.

Question: Do animals aspire, and is this how they come out of the animal kingdom?

Sri Chinmoy: Animals do aspire, but they aspire unconsciously. It is the combination of their unconscious aspiration plus God's infinite Compassion that grants some chosen animals the opportunity to come out of the animal kingdom and enter into human life.

Question: How can I aspire to the point where my aspiration will bound through the heavenly planes like a gazelle through the forest?

Sri Chinmoy: You can be a gazelle in the spiritual world and pass through the heavenly planes most speedily if you can constantly cultivate an ever-increasing hunger for God, who is Eternity's fastest Speed and Eternity's fastest Runner.

Question: Is it true that my aspiration can cut through and diminish all my psychological difficulties? If so, how can I best apply and increase my aspiration in this regard?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, your aspiration can easily cut through and diminish all your psychological difficulties. You can best apply and increase your aspiration in this regard by feeling constantly your gratitude-heart for the mounting aspiration that God's infinite Grace has already given to you.

Question: How may I best defend myself when my aspiration-tree is threatened?

Sri Chinmoy: When your aspiration-tree is threatened, you should feel that your aspiration-tree is the only real thing in you. If that real thing inside you is threatened, then your entire life is in serious danger and spiritual death is imminent. When death approaches you, what do you do? You try and cry for a new lease on life. You have to do the same thing when your aspiration-tree is threatened.

Question: How can aspiration kindle our creative capacity?

Sri Chinmoy: When we are totally unconscious of aspiration, we doubt its capacity. When we are fully conscious of aspiration, we know that aspiration does have the capacity to kindle our creativity. Not only that, it also has the power to increase our creativity, our creative capacity, in infinite measure. Finally, when we come to discover the truth that the source of our aspiration is God Himself, then we clearly see that aspiration and creative capacity are inseparable.

Question: What is the way to aspire that ends in the realisation that the Supreme has already done all of our prayer, meditation and contemplation for us?

Sri Chinmoy: In our aspiration we have to constantly and cheerfully offer our gratitude. This is the only way to come to the realisation that the Supreme has already done all of our prayer, meditation and contemplation for us.

Question: After God-realisation and God-manifestation on earth, then what shall our aspiration be?

Sri Chinmoy: There is no end to our God-realisation, there is no end to our God-manifestation. God-realisation itself is a form of aspiration; God-manifestation itself is a form of aspiration. Aspiration is beginningless and aspiration is endless.

Question: As I learn more about nature my love for nature increases. Can this love and my desire to learn more about God through nature be called aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. You are right in your awareness of the truth and in your application of that truth to your life of soulful dedication.

Question: When someone dies, in his next incarnation does he maintain his same level of aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: When someone dies, in his next incarnation he definitely maintains the same level of aspiration within his new body and new consciousness. But this aspiration usually cannot come to the fore because the very earth-consciousness is full of darkness and ignorance. He has to fight against tremendous opposition for a few years or, in most cases, quite a number of years. But again, if the soul is most powerful, if the seeker himself has unusual inner strength, then either from the very dawn of his life or in a few years' time he regains his old aspiration and continues to march and run towards his destined Goal.

Question: How does one keep aspiration awake in oneself?

Sri Chinmoy: When one has money, his money-consciousness keeps him aware of the outer world. Similarly, when a seeker has sincere aspiration, aspiration itself will keep him fully aware all the time.

Question: How can my imagination help increase my aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: Your imagination can help increase your aspiration provided you consider your imagination as an effective creative force and not as something unreal or as a mental hallucination. It is only the creative force that has the inner vision to increase itself in boundless measure.

Question: Is aspiration a gift from the Supreme and how can we increase it?

Sri Chinmoy: Aspiration is undoubtedly an unconditional gift from the Supreme. You can increase it by appreciating it, valuing it and treasuring it more and more every day.

Question: Can music and aspiration co-exist?

Sri Chinmoy: Music and aspiration can and do exist together. Of course, here we are talking only about spiritual music. Spiritual music is the illumining and fulfilling language of the universal soul. Aspiration is the inner cry; music is the outer smile. When we sow the seed of inner cry, we reap the fruit of outer smile. Soulful music and soulful aspiration are not only true friends but eternal friends. Music spreads the height of aspiration; aspiration increases the length of music.

Question: What sort of work in the outer world will be most conducive to my purest and surest aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: Each individual has a temperament of his own. Each individual has an inner propensity of his own. In your case, if you work in a flower shop sincerely and cheerfully, your cheerful and sincere service will be most conducive to your purest and surest aspiration.

Question: How can I use love to transform my attachment into universal oneness?

Sri Chinmoy: You can use divine love to transform your attachment into universal oneness if you constantly try to increase your purity. Purity has the breath of oneness and it illumines attachment. Purity is of paramount importance if you want to use love to transform your attachment into universal oneness.

Question: How can you keep your aspiration high when you get tired?

Sri Chinmoy: When you get tired, try to sing inwardly and soulfully, especially the "Invocation." Then, while you are singing, feel that God Himself is listening to your soulful song and appreciating you. In this way you can easily keep your aspiration high even though outwardly you are tired and exhausted.

Question: Does the intensity of aspiration increase with each incarnation?

Sri Chinmoy: There is no hard and fast rule that with each incarnation the intensity of aspiration will increase, although that is what is expected. Unless one becomes a true, devoted seeker in the purest sense of the term, one may drift away from the life of aspiration. In a particular incarnation, one might drift away from aspiration and enter into a life of desire in order to become a celebrity in a particular field. It has happened in millions of cases. But if one becomes a divine and self-giving seeker, then with each incarnation one's aspiration is bound to increase.

Question: Sometimes I feel that the tiny flame of aspiration has died within me. What has attacked me at this time?

Sri Chinmoy: When you feel that the tiny flame of aspiration has died inside you, it means one of two things: either you have been buffeted by a desire-blow or consciously or unconsciously you have slept in one of your familiar rooms: self-indulgence or ignorance.

Question: What does aspiration need to eat in order to grow within us?

Sri Chinmoy: Aspiration needs to eat God's Compassion in order to grow within us. Again, aspiration needs to feed God simultaneously with constant gratitude in order to increase its own capacity and receptivity.

Question: When darkness surrounds me, how can I aspire more to transcend it?

Sri Chinmoy: When darkness surrounds you, think of yourself as a child totally lost inside a dark, thick forest. A lost child cries most pitifully, and God's infinite Compassion comes to his rescue and assumes a familiar form with a familiar face. If you think of yourself in the same situation, then God will definitely come to your rescue.

Question: What does our Divine Father think of His children's aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: If the Divine Father enters into a human consciousness and with His human consciousness judges His children's aspiration, then in the twinkling of an eye frustration will assail Him. But if the Divine Father remains in His divine Consciousness, then He is not disturbed by His children's deplorable aspiration for He knows that He deals with Eternity's patience-light.

Question: Is there a way to aspire even while you are relaxing from fervent aspirational action?

Sri Chinmoy: There is a special way. Think of a runner. A runner prepares himself for some time before he takes a start. Then, he starts and gradually increases his speed, and after a few moments his coordination becomes perfect. Then, he can relax in his coordination and still not lose his speed. Similarly, if the preparation is good and the start is good and the forward movement is speeding ahead satisfactorily, then one will be able to keep one's aspiration intact even with inner relaxation.

Question: How can we get courage from our aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: You can get courage from your aspiration if you can make yourself feel that you are a chosen hero-instrument of the Supreme. The very word "hero," the very concept of heroism can grant you courage. Again, aspiration itself is courage. Only a brave person can aspire. Aspiration is never meant for the weakling.

Question: When doubt comes, should we fight it off?

Sri Chinmoy: When doubt comes you must fight it off, for doubt is a slow poison. If you allow the slow poison to stay inside you, it will affect your entire system and you will die. So don't cherish any doubt in the mind. Doubt is the beginning of frustration and frustration likes to mix with destruction.

Question: Guru, if the tree represents aspiration, what do the leaves represent?

Sri Chinmoy: The leaves also represent aspiration. It is like a family. In the family, the little child stands with the other members of the family in the tug-of-war. The child pulls along with the mother and father and other members against their enemy. The enemy is ignorance. So, the leaves also represent aspiration because the leaves and the tree are part and parcel of one reality.

Editor's Preface to the first edition

The Aspiration-Tree has many branches, leaves, flowers and fruits: simplicity, sincerity, purity, devotion and countless others. Each sincere seeker, in his own way, is a branch, leaf, flower or fruit of the Aspiration-Tree.

In this book, the great spiritual Master Sri Chinmoy answers questions from his West Coast disciples about the life of aspiration. In these soulful questions and illumining answers, we see the awakening and blossoming of God's Aspiration-Tree.

This book is a most significant milestone, since it represents the 300th book that Sri Chinmoy has written during the twelve and a half years he has been in America. Sri Chinmoy's writings, his paintings, his music, his lectures — not to speak of his meditation — are all expressions of his supreme philosophy of Love, Devotion and Surrender to God. This is a philosophy that finds its fruition not in the isolation of a Himalayan cave but in the very hustle and bustle of life, a philosophy that fully accepts life as the first step towards life's total transformation and complete illumination. All that Sri Chinmoy has done, or is doing, or will be doing for mankind issues from this one supreme philosophy.

We are his devoted spiritual children; and in response to our heart's prayers, our Master once revealed his philosophy and illumined us with these sacred words:

My spiritual children,
If I have Love, if I have Compassion,
if I have Light,
If I have Power, if I have Peace,
if I have Delight,
Then it is all for you, all for you, all for you.
O my sweet children,
It is with you, for you and in you that I exist
here on earth.

Editor's note to the first edition

The song of self-transcendence

Sri Chinmoy's first book, 'My Ivy League Leaves', was published on 13 July 1970 by the Chinmoy Publishing Company in Jamaica, N.Y. On that occasion, Sri Chinmoy said, This is the first book…If the Supreme wills, your Guru will write 199 more… History bears witness to this most significant day. This is a humble beginning, but out inner eye will say — no, this beginning is most significant, most precious, most glorious and most fruitful, for our inner Pilot…has inspired us to launch into this divine project. It is He who is guiding us. It is He who is going to lead us to our ultimate Goal. From human knowledge, He is leading us to divine knowledge, and this divine knowledge is the knowledge of inseparable oneness with the highest Supreme…"

In November of 1974, Sri Chinmoy completed his 200th book and thus fulfilled his Vision-Promise.

'Aspiration-Tree' marks his 300th book and sings most soulfully his only favourite song: "The song of self-transcendence."

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