AUM — Vol. 1, No. 3, 27 October 1965
The PrinceWhen 'I go to the Buddha for refuge', He blesses me.
When 'I go to the Inner Law for refuge', He illumines me.
When 'I go to the Order for refuge', He utilises me.
Siddhartha did. He flew from his household life into the state of homelessness. The Supreme did. He placed the Buddha in the adoring heart of humanity, in the lap of universal love.
Temptation He saw and shunned.
Austerity He felt and lived.
The Middle Path He realised and offered.
The Omnipotent did two things: through Siddhartha Gautama, He revealed the ideal of perfection in a human being. Through the Buddha, He revealed His Enlightenment and Compassion in a Divine Being.
The Buddha cast aside caste. He taught. The fallen learned from him the value of self-respect. The unbending learned from him the necessity of humility.
Nirvana is a miraculous power. Negatively it pleases the souls who want 'Extinction'. Positively it pleases the souls who long for the Ultimate and Transcendental Bliss.
The Buddha stood not against the Hindu religion. He stood against the Hindu perversions and corruptions. He was never ashamed of the Hindu religion. But he was utterly ashamed of some of its ways and methods.
The Buddha had no God. But he had Divinity in its fullest measure.
With His Heart the Unfathomable came to the Buddha.
With His Mind the Unknowable came to the Buddha.
With His Bliss the Transcendental came to the Buddha.
Hinduism is the Tree. Buddhism is its largest branch. The son discovered that his Mother was not perfect. So he decided to live all alone.
Buddhism gave birth to two schools of thought: Hinayana and Mahayana.
Hinayana or Theravada depends on self-reliance.
Mahayana depends on Grace.
Hinayana longs for individual salvation.
Mahayana longs for collective salvation.
Hinayana feels that the monks alone are entitled to pray for the Ultimate Truth. Mahayana feels that not only the monks but also the laymen are entitled to pray for the Ultimate Truth.
Meditation gives Enlightenment, feels a Hinayanist. Meditation, Prayer and Invocation, all these give Enlightenment, feels a Mahayanist.
A Hinayanist sits at the feet of Buddha's Teachings, following the advice that one must work out one's own salvation.
A Mahayanist sits at the feet of Buddha's earthly Personality, following the advice that one should not cross the Gate of Transcendental Bliss until each and every soul has been liberated.
True, Buddhism is no longer alive in the land of its birth. But Mother India is abundantly proud of her spiritual Prince and she ever cherishes her world-illumining Teacher. Her fondest feeling is: My Buddha is a rebel child. My Buddha is a great Contributor. My Buddha is a great Reformer.
The Guru part 21All berries are not edible. Likewise all are not Gurus that men may flock to.
What does the acceptance of a disciple by a Guru mean? It means that the Guru will gladly live in the world of golden sacrifice.
If the disciple discovers within himself the pangs of fear and not the fount of love for his Guru, sorrow and spiritual frustration will dog him throughout his discipleship.
The Guru sees in his disciple the very image of God. So he is all sacrifice to the disciple. The disciple sees and feels in his Guru the only shelter of his limitations. So he is all love for his Guru.
The Guru can kindle the lamp in you. When? Only after you have brought him the wick and the oil.
O disciple! do you know the most foolish customer on earth? He is your Guru and your Guru alone. He buys your ignorance and gives you knowledge; he buys your impotence and gives you power. Can you ever imagine a more foolish bargain? Now learn the name of your Guru's foolishness: Compassion and nothing else.
The Guru's body is the Compassion-Net. It entraps the disciples, sleeping or awakened, with all their baffling age-long problems of ignorance.
It has become a fashion nowadays for man to say that there is no necessity of an intermediary between him and God, referring not only to the traditional priest, but also to the traditional Guru. Granted, but just tell me. Did you receive any help in learning the alphabet? Did you require a teacher to help you master your musical instrument? Were you given instruction to enable you to obtain your degree? If you needed a helper to do these things, do you not also require a teacher who can guide you to the knowledge of the Divine, the wisdom of the Infinite? That teacher is your Guru and no one else.
O man, do you have no love for the temple inside which you worship the idol? Then you must love the body of the Guru, if you aspire to worship the Omnipotent in him.
To achieve realisation oneself and alone is like crossing the ocean in a raft. But to make a disciple realise the Divine, one has to become a boat, strong and swift, to ferry him safely across the sea of ignorance.
Who can show a disciple his true Motherland? The Guru. What is the name of that Motherland? Consciousness: Consciousness Infinite, Consciousness All-Pervading.
The real work, if there be any, of a Guru is to show the world that his deeds are in perfect harmony with his teachings.
. Continued from Vol. 1, No. 2↩
East and West part 2[fn: continued from Vol. 1, No. 1]The West wanted to conquer the world in the name of commerce and religion.
The East wanted to conquer the world in the name of liberation.
The East has control of Spirit. The West has control of Matter. Spirit is creative, conscious existence. What is Matter? It is anything but lifeless mechanical substance. Matter is vibrant Energy which deliberately hides within itself Life and Consciousness.
The individual of the West seems to desire the full expression of his individuality. He wishes to make for himself a strong and powerful position in his own world. Most individuals of the East, on the other hand, are content to abide by the maxim, "Let me live unseen, unknown, and unlamented let me die." And, it might be added, "Let it all be done without too much exertion."
The West's intensive experience with material progress has taught it to be objective in work. It has learned to stand aside from favouritism, nepotism and other personal considerations in carrying out a necessary job. It can do the work for its own sake, quickly and efficiently, and with the best manpower available. This the East has yet to learn.
The East's age-long experience with the spiritual life has taught it an inner poise and equanimity in work. It can stand aside from frustration, excitement, irritation over minor upsets, and all that disturbs the inner balance. It can make tranquil re-adjustments and proceed on in the same calm tenor. This the West has yet to learn.
European philosophy is, in its origin, the critical intellect examining ideas. Until recently, the reason and intellect have been enough to feed the hungry West.
Indian philosophy is, in its origin, the search for the Highest Truth. Only the Reality beyond the senses has been able to quench the inner thirst of the East.
It is now that East and West have come to realise the need of a marriage between Mind and Spirit.
East and West may be taken as the two eyes of the same human body. The other human divisions and distinctions — racial, cultural and linguistic — are destined to disappear from the human consciousness when it is flooded with the supramental Light and Force. This is the inevitable consequence of the Hour of God that is dawning all over the world. Diversities will be there, enriched and enhanced in fullest measure. These diversities will not be disturbances to the general consciousness but, on the contrary, will be happy and harmonious complements to a unique whole. Humanity will be a true human family in every sense of the term and in a yet unknown sense. The response to the new Light will certainly exceed human expectations.
The awakened consciousness of man is visibly tending towards the Divine. This is a most hopeful streak of light amidst the surrounding obscurities of today. This is a moment, not merely of joining hands, but of joining minds, hearts and souls. Across all physical and mental barriers between east and west, high above national standards, above even individual standards, will fly the supreme banner of Divine Oneness.
Love: attachment and detachmentIf human affection is not always reliable, it is also not always harmful.
Foolish is he who thinks that affection should be turned into indifference in order that God might come to him. Alas, he has yet to learn that God is All-Affection.
Affection and attachment need not always go together. An entire rejection of all relations can never be the promising sign of progress towards Realisation.
Controlled desire is good. Better is non-attachment. Best is it to feel oneself removed from the snare of nature.
Suppression is as hostile and undeserving as attachment. It is our non-attachment that is the only master of nature.
Desires and hungers have one common enemy: detachment.
Detachment and not possession should be the bridge between you and the object of your love.
Spiritual detachment intensifies the seeking of our hearts, purifies the vibrations of our bodies, transforms the ignorance of our consciousness into knowledge.
Granted, loneliness is a kind of spiritual disease. But human association can never be its lasting medicine. The only permanent cure for it is Inner Experience.
Hinduism2"Know Thyself." This is what Hinduism stands for. This is the quintessence of Hinduism.
In a world of nervous uncertainties, in a world of dark falsehood and blind unreason, religion is one of the few things that retain their dignity. It is religion that brings man's divinity to the fore. It is religion that can inspire man to grapple with the ruthless present, reaffirm his inner strength and fight for Truth and the Hour of God.
You all know that the Hindu religion is one of the oldest religions of the world. Unlike most of the world religions, the Hindu religion has no founder of its own. It is primarily founded on the soul-stirring utterances of the Rishis, the Seers. A Seer is one who visions the Truth and communes with the Truth.
If you want to define Hinduism, you can do so with the help of a monosyllable: Love. This Love is all-embracing and ever-growing. True, a staunch Hindu will say, "I can live without air, but not without God." At the same time, if a Hindu says that he does not believe in God at all, he is still a Hindu. He feels himself to be a Hindu and others do not deny it. It is the personal choice that reigns supreme.
A Hindu may have hundreds of gods to worship or only one. To him, God may be 'Personal' or He may be 'Impersonal'. My young friends, I will try to explain what is meant by 'Personal' and 'Impersonal'. An aeroplane is in the airport. You can see it. It is something concrete, material and tangible. When the plane leaves the ground and can no longer be seen, you know, nevertheless, that it is in the sky. It may be going to Canada or Japan or elsewhere. But it is in operation. You know that on some other level, it is present and functioning. Similarly, the 'Impersonal' God whom we may not see in a tangible form, we feel in our awakened consciousness, guiding and moulding us invisibly.
We have spoken of God in terms of Hinduism. Now let us focus our attention on what it says about God-Realisation. God-Realisation is nothing short of a spiritual science which puts an end to suffering, ignorance and death. But we have to realise God for His sake and not for our sake. To seek God for one's own sake is to feed one's ceaseless desires in vain. But to seek God for His sake is to live in His universal consciousness; in other words, to be one with Him absolutely and inseparably.
Now the paramount question is whether God has been within us all the time, whether He comes into our hearts for long periods as a guest or He comes and goes. With a deep sense of gratitude, let me call upon the immortal soul of Emily Dickinson whose spiritual inspirations impel a seeker to know what God the Infinite precisely is. She says:
"The Infinite a sudden guest
Has been assumed to be,
But how can that stupendous come
Which never went away?
Hinduism is called the Eternal Religion. It seeks union with God in every way known to mankind. Its essence is tolerance and it wants an all-fulfilling union of mankind with God, nothing more and nothing less. Hinduism refuses to think of world religions as separate entities. Housing within itself, as it does, all the religions of the world in its own way, it can be called, without being far from truth, a unique Fellowship of Faiths.
Love for others is, for a genuine Hindu, an organic part of his love for God. Cheerfully and significantly his soul will announce and sing with the dauntless spirit of Walt Whitman:
"I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you."
As I mentioned before, the most striking feature of Hinduism is the quest for first-hand experience, nay, realisation of God. If you study the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-Gita and other Indian scriptures, you may be surprised to observe that although each emphasises a particular view or certain ideas, all these scriptures embody fundamentally the same perfect divine knowledge which is God.
The salient point in the Hindu religion is uniquely expressed in the teachings of the Isha Upanishad: "Rejoice through renunciation." You know perfectly well that the good and the pleasant need not necessarily be the same. If you want the pleasant, you may come right up to the foot of a mango tree, but the fruits will be denied to you by the owner. But if you want the good, which is in essence the truth, the situation will be entirely different. If you want the mango, not to satisfy your greed, but to make a serious study of the fruit, the owner will be highly pleased with you, not only offering you a mango for study, but telling you to eat as many as you wish.
None of us wants to play the fool; hence we must aspire for the good and do away with the pleasant for good. Our goal, the fount of the highest Truth and Bliss, is open only to the Truth-lover who wants to fulfil himself in the ceaselessly delightful upward and inward journey of his soul. A devout Hindu longs for a heart which is a perfect stranger to falsehood, a heart as vast as the world.
Perhaps you may say that to have a heart of that type is next to impossible, an unattainable ideal. I cannot concur with you. For even now such noble souls walk the earth. Your unique president, Abraham Lincoln had undoubtedly such a heart as that. To quote your greatest philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson: "His (Lincoln's) heart was as great as the world, but there was no room in it to hold the memory of a wrong."
My young brothers and sisters, I find no reason why I should fail to realise in you a heart as vast as the world, empty of falsehood and ignorance, and at the same time, a heart flooded with the Truth of the Beyond.
An extemporaneous talk given on 4 October 1965, to the tenth-grade students of Hicksville High School, Hicksville. New York.↩
I am a thiefI am a thief, I steal every night.
Each theft of mine kindles a thrill
On the Supreme's all-fulfilling Eye.
What do I steal?
His Grace, my meal.
Why do I steal?
He compels me so.
Perhaps He finds no other way
To feed my Spirit's hunger stark
With the Nectar of His shadowless Ray.
Questions and answers
Question: I would frankly like to know what India's spirituality has ever done for her. How is it that in spite of her yogis and saints, she is still a poor and backward country?Sri Chinmoy: Firstly, we must understand what has brought this situation about. In ancient India, the material life was not renounced. People in those days aspired for a synthesis of Matter and Spirit, and to some extent they were successful in achieving it. But there is a great gulf between that hoary past and the present.
In the later periods of India's history, the saints and seers came to feel that the material life and the spiritual life could never go together, that you had to renounce life in order to attain to God. Hence the external life was neglected. This led to foreign conquests and many other troubles. Even today, the attitude of negating material prosperity and beauty is very powerful in India. This accounts for much of her continued poverty.
But at present there are spiritual giants in India who feel that God should be realised in His totality. Creator and Creation are one and cannot be separated. So they advocate the acceptance of life, the real need for both progress and perfection in all spheres of human existence. This new approach is widely accepted in India today.
India may be poverty-stricken today, but she will progress quickly by virtue of her new awareness and her new aspiration. She has not only magnanimity of heart, but she has the power to bring her soul's strength to the fore and with this strength to solve all her problems.
Question: If man, when dissatisfied with the world, must escape the world and seek out higher planes of existence, how can humanity live in peace and happiness on earth? In passive escape such as this, those few people who see the evil in the world yet have the dedication, power and potential to change the world for good are diverted into this other search, this escape . . .Sri Chinmoy: My young friend, I am greatly pleased with this question, for it shows a remarkable sense of spiritual values. Granted, the world is all imperfection. Life stands as a huge question. Evil is seen everywhere. These are the problems that we face every day.
Moreover, the more spiritually advanced a man is, the greater is his suffering, due to the present conditions of the world. He sees the disease, he feels the disease, but he has no proper medicine. Even if he has a remedy, it is not enough to cure all earthly ailments. So he often feels that his fight will be of no avail. He therefore takes the easier path, the path of escape into the bliss of the higher planes.
But this can never be the case with a divine warrior. He will fight until the victory is won. Now what do we mean by his "victory"? It is the establishment of the Kingdom of God here on earth and not in some higher world. As he knows that the Divine is omnipresent, he must reveal Him in everyday life. If one is not satisfied with the world as it is, that is no reason for divorcing it. On the contrary, one should try to change it — physically or intellectually or spiritually, depending on one's own development and capacities.
God is Perfect Perfection. This Perfection can be achieved only when there is an inseparable union between Matter and Spirit, between the Outer and the Inner Life.
AUM — A monthly journal of spiritual philosophy and yoga3AUM is a monthly journal devoted exclusively to the spiritual writings of Chinmoy Kumar Ghose. It will deal with the spiritual life and its problems from the point of view of Indian philosophy and yoga. AUM is intended to help aspirants of the West in their search for a true inner life by acquainting them with the realisations of a seeker of the Supreme.
29e1. Editor's introduction from the first edition.↩