AUM — Vol. 5, No. 4,5, Nov. — 27 Dec. 1969
MeditationIf a person who calls himself a Realised Soul feels the necessity and has the capacity, then let him go to the world to prove God’s existence.
If he has the capacity, but does not feel the necessity, then let him stay where he is.
If he neither feels the necessity nor has the capacity to show God to the world, then let him not try to prove his aspiration and demonstrate his emotion.
Why? Because God does not want him to do this.
For he is not fulfilling God in God’s way, but making a parade of himself before humanity and broadcasting himself before God. Before the world’s eye, he is undesirable. Before God’s Eye, he is unpardonable.
The Vedanta philosophy1Seventy-three long years ago, precisely on this very date, the great spiritual giant, Swami Vivekananda, dynamically blessed this University, the University unparalleled in the whole of the United States of America, with his august presence. He spoke on the Vedanta Philosophy. And today I am invited to speak on the same lofty subject. Seventy-three springs later, call it a mere stroke of fate, call it a destined, divine dispensation, on this most fruitfully significant day, both spiritually and historically, I am at once proud and blessed to associate my humble name with him, Swami Vivekananda, a spiritual hero of the Himalayan peak.
Thomas Jefferson, on being made Envoy to France, remarked, "I succeed him (Benjamin Franklin), no one could replace him." With all the sincerity at my command, I dare neither to replace nor to succeed Swami Vivekananda, but, as a son of Bengal, I wish to bask in the unprecedented glory of Sri Ramakrishna’s dearest disciple, a unique son of Mother-Bengal.
O Harvard University, I tell you a sweet secret of mine. Perhaps you have heard about the Royal Bengal Tigers. The fear of these tigers ruthlessly tortured my infant heart. O Harvard, your very name used to create almost the same fear in my mind in my adolescent days. But today, to my extreme surprise, you have awakened enormous joy in my heart.
Vedanta means "the end of the Vedas"; indeed, this is purely a literal meaning. Otherwise, Vedanta has a reservoir of countless meanings: religious, philosophical, moral, ethical, spiritual, earthly human and heavenly divine. Vedanta reveals guideposts for a spiritual pilgrimage — a pilgrimage towards the absolute Truth. This pilgrimage welcomes all those who soulfully cry for the Transcendental Brahman. The earth-bound mind is too feeble to enter into the Truth Absolute.
Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma (Verily all this is Brahman). A true lover of Brahman must needs be a true lover of mankind. Never can he see eye-to-eye with Samuel Johnson, who voiced forth: “I am willing to love mankind, except an American.” Needless to say, the teachings of Vedanta are marked by a rare catholicity of vision. Always.
Vedanta welcomes not only the purest heart, but also the scoundrel of the deepest dye. Vedanta invites all. Vedanta accepts all. Vedanta includes all. Vedanta’s inner door is open not only to the Highest, but also to the lowest in human society.
India’s Shankaracharya is by far the greatest Vedantin that our Mother-Earth has ever produced. At the dawn of his spiritual journey, before he had attained to the Consciousness of the Absolute Brahman, a certain feeling of differentiation plagued his mind. Hard was it for him to believe that everything in the universe was Brahman. It happened that one day Shankara, after having completed his bath in the Ganges, was returning home. He chanced to meet a butcher — an untouchable. The butcher, who was carrying a load of meat, accidentally touched Shankara in passing. Shankara flew into a rage. His eyes blazed like two balls of fire. His piercing glance was about to turn the butcher into a heap of ashes. The poor butcher, trembling from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head, said, “Venerable Sir, please tell me the reason of your anger. I am at your service. I am at your command.” Shankara blurted out, “How dare you touch my body which has just been sanctified in the holiest river? Am I to remind you that you are a butcher?”
“Venerable Sir,” replied the butcher, “who has touched whom? The Self is not the body. You are not the body. Neither am I. You are the Self. So am I.” The Knowledge of the One Absolute dawned on poor Shankara. People nowadays in India claim that the butcher was no other than Lord Siva who wanted Shankara to practise what he was preaching. Also according to many, Shankara was an incarnation of Lord Siva.
However, by no means should we neglect the body. The body is the temple. The soul is the Deity therein. Have we not learned from Vedanta that it is in the physical that the spiritual disciplines have to be practised.
Lo and Behold, Walt Whitman is powerfully knocking at our heart’s door: “If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred.”
The five cardinal points of Vedanta are: the Oneness of Existence, the Divinity in Man, the Divinity of Man, Man the Infinite and Man the Absolute.
Vedanta expresses itself through three particular systems: Advaita or Non-Dualism, Vishishtadvaita or Qualified Non-Dualism and Dvaita, Dualism. These three ancient systems developed large sects in India, which were later shaken by the arrival of Buddhism. Buddhism shook the Vedic-Upanishadic tree. India is eternally grateful, therefore, to Shankara for the revival of the Non-Dualistic system, to Ramanuja for the Qualified Non-Dualistic System and to Madhava for the Dualistic System.
Shankara’s Advaita or Monism: There is only one Reality. And this Reality is Brahman. Brahman and Brahman alone is the Absolute Reality. Nothing does or can exist without the Brahman. To our sorrow, the world has misunderstood Shankara. He is being misrepresented. If one studies Shankara with one’s inner light, one immediately comes to realise that Shankara never did say that the world is a cosmic illusion. What he wanted to say and what he did say is this: the world is not and cannot be the Ultimate Reality.
Shankara saw the light of day in the eighth century A.D. In those days, spirituality was on the wane in India. The Indian spirituality or, should I say, the Hindu spirituality, was undergoing a serious operation while a good many pseudo-religious sects were growing like mushrooms. The Supreme commanded Shankara’s appearance on Indian soil to cast these unhealthy sects aside and re-establish one religion, the religion of the Vedas, the sanatana dharma, the eternal religion. Shankara advocated monism. This monism is the oneness absolute of the universe, man and God.
The Buddha stole God’s Heart and Compassion; Shankara, God’s Mind and Intellect; Chaitanya, God’s Body and Love; Ramakrishna, God’s Soul and Vision; Vivekananda, God’s Vital and Will.
India’s champion philosopher, Shankara, founded modern philosophy in India. Europe’s champion philosopher, Spinoza, founded modern philosophy in Europe. America’s champion philosopher, Emerson, founded modern philosophy in America.
Shankara’s Kevala Advaita is above all dualism. In his monism, there is no room for relative things, relative values, the pair of opposites, for all these come and go, appear and disappear. What is eternal is the Transcendental Brahman. Ekam eva advitiyam (“That is one without a second.”)
Shankara’s philosophy has dealt considerably with Maya. Maya literally means “illusion”. But what it really means is measurement of extension; it refers to a kind of conception. When we want to conceive and express the Truth, with our incapacities or our very limited capacity, Maya offers its help and comes to our rescue. But the Brahman, being Infinite, escapes both our conception and expression. Maya is the power that causes the world to be really real and, at the same time, distinct from the Universal Soul, to be part of God and at the same time, distinct from God. Maya is a power, a mysterious power, a power always inconceivable.
To quote Swami Bodhananda: “Shankara confesses his ignorance about this power, but he assumes it as a fact. Just as we assume electricity as power, but we don’t know what electricity is. He accepted Maya as a power, as a fact. Centrifugally it is the becoming of the one, this absolute spirit, into the many and centripetally the rebecoming of the many into that one. So, in this way Maya is an eternal power. By this power Brahman projects Himself in the forms of God, man and universe. These are inseparable from Maya, as well as from Brahman.”
Shankara and Vedanta will always go together down the sweep of centuries. They are like twin souls.
Ramanuja’s Vishishtadvaita or Qualified Non-Dualism
According to Ramanuja, the world is real, absolutely real. But it is wanting in perfection. At the same time, it does not care for perfection. It has no destined goal. The world was created by God’s inspiration, is sustained by His concern and will be dissolved by His Will. The world is God’s playground. He performs His Lila (drama) here. This eternal Sport of His is His constant movement, spontaneous expression in endless repetition. Man is real. But he has to depend on God. The world is real. But it has to depend on God. Without God, both man and the world are meaningless futility. Man can be released and will be released from the meshes of ignorance one day and is bound to realise God. But there will always remain some difference between man and God. Man will remain eternally below God. Hence he always has to worship God. Ramanuja’s path is mainly the path of Devotion. He stands firm against the theory of Shankara’s undifferentiated Kevala Advaita. To him, the Brahman is and can only be personal. A true aspirant can realise the Highest Truth and achieve the Knowledge Infinite while he is still on earth.
Madhava’s Dvaita, Dualism
Madhava’s philosophy affirms the complete duality between the Brahman and the self (the small self). God, man and the world have a permanent existence. But man and the world have to depend solely on God for their existence. God is at once above the universe and in the universe. God has a divine body that transcends all our human imagination. Nothing can be done on earth without God’s immediate concern, direct approval and express command from the inner planes. The Supreme Will of the Supreme guides the world. It pilots the world to its destined goal. Man can be free from the shackles of ignorance only when it is the Will of the Supreme. Liberation is not only possible, but inevitable. What is absolutely essential for liberation is man’s loving adoration of God.
Now I wish to tell you what I feel about Vedanta. Just utter once soulfully the word Vedanta. Immediately you will have the effect of a magic spell on you. Sooner than at once your heart is inspired, your consciousness elevated and your life illuminated.
To my sorrow, in the consciousness of the Western world the idea of sin is extravagant. A Vedantin’s dictionary does not house the word sin. What he knows within and without is a series of obstacles — doubt, fear and desire. He feels that he must not doubt the Divinity within him. No earthly fear does he allow to take birth in him. No desire, significant or insignificant, can ever blight the purest heart in him. We are very often inclined to see ignorance all around, while a Vedantin is justifiably apt to see the underlying Truth here, there and everywhere.
Religious people, especially the spiritual ones, cherish abundant joy in their feelings that they live in God’s world, in one undivided world. Each individual is a true brother to them. The sense of brotherhood reigns supreme on their all-loving heart. A Vedantin’s heart is fully at one with them. He goes one step ahead. He sublimely addresses: Tat Twam Asi, That Thou Art. He sees and feels each human being as the embodiment of the Absolute Brahman.
Vedanta means freedom, freedom from limitations, freedom from bondage and freedom from ignorance. America is the land of matchless freedom. The American soil is exceptionally fertile for God to grow the Vedantic truth in measureless measure. Vedanta's freedom is the inner freedom. When the inner freedom comes to the fore and guides and directs the outer freedom, the outer freedom unmistakably and gloriously runs towards its destined Goal, the Goal of manifestation of God’s infinite Truth, Peace, Light, Bliss and Power here on earth. The inner freedom is the realisation of the Eternal. The outer freedom is the manifestation of the Infinite. When the inner freedom and the outer freedom soulfully and divinely run abreast, today’s man changes into tomorrow’s God.
I wish to conclude my talk with a word about your universally cherished student John F. Kennedy. I would like to offer to his hallowed memory and his soaring aspiration today’s talk, our collective dedication, our unifying love and our united achievements.
AUM 519. This extemporaneous talk was given by Sri Chinmoy on 25 March 1969 at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.↩
God and myself2Good evening! Sisters and brothers, let us know that good morning is God’s morning, good evening is God’s evening. Good day is man’s day and good night is man’s night. God’s morning and evening say to man: “We do nothing but think of you.” Man’s day and night say to God: “We can do nothing but pray to you.”
God and myself. God is my Father. God is my Mother. Indeed, this is what I know. And also I always know what to do.
When I say that I know what to do, I am afraid you all will misunderstand me. There is every possibility of your doubting my sincerity. You will not hesitate to consider me an object of ridicule.
Well, let me now try to defend myself. Let me humbly say my say. I have said that I know what to do. Let me tell you my inmost secret. “I know what to do, precisely because God does it for me.” You may in no time ask me why God does everything for me and not for you. If such is the case, God is unmistakably partial. To be sure, God is not partial. He is anything but that.
I know what to do, for God does it for me. I know that I do nothing and can do nothing. God is the Doer. God is the action. God is the fruit thereof. My life is an Eternal Experience of God.
Unfortunately there is a slight difference between you and me, between your approach to God and my approach to God. Do you remember what the Son of God said to humanity? He said: “I and my Father are one.” I believe in the Son of God. I try to live this truth. I also believe in our Vedic Seers of the hoary past. They said: “Brahmosmi”. “I am the Brahman.” I am the One without a second. I also have implicit faith in Sri Krishna’s teaching which I have learnt from His Gita, the Song Transcendental.
You are apt to cherish a few striking ideas in the inmost recesses of your heart. Let me faithfully cite, with your kind permission, your fertile ideas. First of all, you get joy in telling the world that there is no God. There can be no such thing as God. Even when you feel that there is God, you tell your near and dear ones that God is for them and for others, but not for you. In all sincerity, nay, stupidity at your command, you proclaim that God does not care for you. You feel that God is terribly angry with you, for ten years ago you told a fatal lie, you deceived someone in the street. Poor God, as if He has nothing else to do than to get angry with you and punish you mercilessly.
Believe it or not, I tell you that God has many things to do with you, many significant things with your life. To you, your life is nothing, a perfect zero. To God, your life is everything, to be precise, His everything. You are His unparalleled pride. You are His only Dream. You are His only Reality. With you He sings the Song of Immortality. In you He sees the embodiment of His Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. For you, only for you, He exists through Eternity. He moulds you. He shapes you. He guides you. He transforms you into His very Image, His Life of the ever-transcending Beyond.
Dear students, dear Professors, dear sisters and brothers, you are now in the same boat as I am. Together let us sing: “I know what to do, for God does it for me.”
Let me sing one more song. And I do hope that you all will learn it soon. This song tells me what to say and what to aspire for:
“Lead me from the Unreal to the Real.
Lead me from Darkness to Light.
Lead me from death to Immortality.”
AUM 520. This talk was given at Brandeis University on 26 March 1969.↩
Conscious oneness with God3Hail, Columbia! Columbia, the country, Columbia, the University, Hail! The word Columbia immediately inspires my heart, awakens my mind and pulls my life straight into my soul’s core.
We are taught, the world is told by The Star-Spangled Banner, what you truly and soulfully are: “the Land of the free and the Home of the brave.”
On 17 October 1949, Columbia University conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws on Prime Minister Nehru of India. Our Prime Minister, at the beginning of his memorable speech said something most significant:
Now I wish to tell you, in all humility, that I too have come to you as a most humble seeker after the infinite Truth. I have come here to serve you all, to serve this august University in its inner urge to reach the highest Truth.
God and man. God and man are one. They are eternally one. God knows it. Man also will know it. He will.
Fear separates man from God. Doubt separates man from God. Self-indulgence separates man from God.
When we fear something, we have to know that suffering has already started torturing us from what we fear. We have two children within us. One child is afraid of teeming darkness in the world. The other child is afraid of the world-transforming infinite Light. He is the ignorance-child who is afraid of darkness. He is the child unaspiring who is afraid of Light.
Doubt is obstinate. Doubt is cruel. Poor man, with his doubt he doubts the existence of God who is all-existence. Alas, what is worse is that he is ever in doubt about his own doubts. He is lost. He is ruined. Sangsayatma Vinashyate (a doubting soul is doomed to be ruined). This is what we have learned from the Bhagavad Gita, India’s Bible.
Self-indulgence. Today what we call self-indulgence, tomorrow that very thing we call self-annihilation. Indulgence comes to man with a gift, pleasure. Man touches and feels the gift. Lo and behold, pleasure transforms itself into bitter frustration.
No conscious embodiment of God where there is fear.
No conscious realisation of God where there is doubt.
No conscious oneness with God where there is self-indulgence.
It is in man’s self-knowledge that man realises his conscious oneness with God. Alas, we think that we are what other people say we are. We also think of ourselves what we seem to be with the help of our limited capacity of understanding. According to others, we are useless. According to us, we are meaningless. But according to God, we are at once most useful and most meaningful. He uses us to fulfil Himself. We use Him to realise our true Self. The meaning of man’s existence is God’s Delight. The meaning of God’s existence is man’s realisation of the Absolute.
We need love to establish our conscious oneness with God. If we want to have the accent on love in our life of aspiration, then we must put the stress on sacrifice at every moment.
We need sacrifice to establish our conscious oneness with God. If we want to have the accent on sacrifice in our life of aspiration, then we must put the stress on surrender. We must offer our total surrender to God’s Will and we must stay with our unconditional surrender at God’s Feet.
Today’s belief is tomorrow’s achievement. In order to see your sincere belief transformed into true achievement you have to plead with your conscience to be your constant guide. When conscience is your guide, you grow into God’s colossal pride.
Very often you think of what you have to do. But you always do what you want to do. Now you want to have conscious oneness with God. Look around and you see that somebody easily does what somebody else emphatically said could never be done. One was right yesterday and the other is right today. Here is a radiant proof that the message of the past can easily be challenged. Of course, it will be better if we say that the knowledge of the past can be surmounted and it is meant to be surmounted. Sisters and brothers, I offer to you my soul’s assurance that you are bound to get what you want. You want to have conscious oneness with God. This oneness is certain. This oneness is destined. And to achieve this conscious oneness with God what you have to do is to meditate and concentrate. Nothing more and nothing less. Meditate on the Highest in your soul and concentrate on the lowest in your nature. This is what you have to do. When you play your part, God will play His part in you and for you. During your meditation God will present you with His infinite Joy, Peace: and Bliss. During your concentration God will transform your ignorance-sea into the sea of eternal Light. And now unmistakably what you have is conscious oneness with God. Now what you are is God’s Dream fulfilled in Reality manifested.
AUM 521. This talk was given by Sri Chinmoy on 16 April 1969 at the Columbia University, New York, N.Y.↩
The secret of inner peace4Dear Sisters and Brothers, I shall show you how to acquire, here and now, inner peace. My help is not my advice. Mine is not the way to advise people what to do or what not to do. It is true that everyone is unselfish and liberal when it comes to giving advice. Unfortunately, I am no exception. Again, I fully agree with Chesterfield, “Advice is seldom welcome and those who need it the most, like it the least.”
This world of ours has everything save and except one thing: Peace. Everybody wants and needs peace, right from a child to an octogenarian. But the idea of peace is not the same for each individual. It sadly differs. A child’s idea of peace is to beat a drum. By beating a drum, he gets joy. This joy is his peace. An old man’s idea of peace is to sit quietly with his eyes and ears closed, so that he can escape the fond embrace of the ugly and restless world. The General in Eisenhower spoke on Peace: “We are going to have peace, even if we have to fight for it.”
The indomitable Napoleon voiced forth, “What a mess we are in now — peace has been declared.” The Son of God has taught us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Somebody has very aptly said, “The more we strive for peace on earth, the more it seems that the dove of peace is a bird of paradise.”
To be sure, peace is not the sole monopoly of heaven. Our earth is extremely fertile. Here on earth we can grow peace in measureless measure.
I am supposed to speak on the inner peace. I wish to confine my talk to the spiritual seekers in you all. A genuine seeker after peace must needs be a seeker after love. Love has another name: sacrifice. When sacrifice is pure, love is sure. When love is divine, in sacrifice there can be no ‘mine’, no ‘thine’. Love is the secret of oneness. Sacrifice is the strength of oneness. Self-love is self-indulgence. Self-indulgence is self-annihilation. Love of God is the seeker’s greatest opportunity to realise God.
We sacrifice our precious time to make money. We sacrifice our hard-earned money to fight against time. In order to have something from the outer world, we have to sacrifice something of our own. Similarly in the inner world we offer our aspiration for God-Realisation. The flame of our aspiration is kindled by God Himself. The fruit of our realisation, too, we get from God direct. God is the Inspirer in us. God is the Eternal Giver. God is the Receiver in us. God uses aspiration to take us to God. God uses realisation to bring Himself to us. God is sacrifice when we live in the world of aspiration. God is sacrifice when we live in the realm of realisation. But God says that there is no such thing as sacrifice. There is only one thing here on earth and there in heaven and that thing is called oneness. The fulfilment in oneness and the fulfilment of oneness.
There are four kinds of seekers: Lamentable, Unable, Promising and Fulfilling. The Lamentable and the Unable have to be patient; they have to wait for their Hour of God. The Promising and the Fulfilling are already singing and dancing in the Hour of God. They constantly meditate on God. This is their inner life of realisation. They soulfully and spontaneously act for God. This is their outer life of revelation.
To come back to the secret of inner peace. Our questioning and doubting mind is always wanting in peace. Our loving and dedicated heart is always flooded with the inner peace. If our mind has all the questions, then our heart has all the answers and the answers are perfect precisely because they come straight from the soul that sees the Truth and lives in the Truth. And Truth and Truth alone is the Goal of Goals.
If you want to have the inner Peace, then you must follow the path of spirituality. Spirituality is the answer. There are three stages of man: under-age, over-age and average. To the under-age, spirituality is hocus-pocus. To the over-age, spirituality is something dry, uncertain and obscure. And to the average, spirituality is self-oblivion, self-negation and self-annihilation.
But a true seeker will say that spirituality is something normal, natural, spontaneous, fertile, clear, luminous, divinely self-conscious, self-affirmative and self-creating. If you have a spiritual teacher to help and guide you, then you are mighty lucky. Listen to him always, until you breathe your last. If you stop taking advice from him, then yours will be the loss and not his. Even in ordinary human life one needs a teacher, a mentor. There is considerable truth in what Churchill says: "In those days he was wiser than he is now — he used, frequently, to take my advice.”
If you don’t have a spiritual master and if you don’t care for one, then I wish you to listen to the dictates of your soul at every moment in absolute silence. Peace you want and you need. To have peace, you must have a free access to your soul. To have a free access to your soul, you must have inner silence. To have inner silence, you need aspiration. To have aspiration, you need God’s Grace. To have God’s Grace you must feel that you are God’s and God’s alone — Always!
We are now in Connecticut. The motto of Connecticut is supremely significant. My heart of devotion and my soul of love are singing the matchless motto of Connecticut:
Qui Transtulit Sustinet
(He who transplanted sustains.)
Indeed, herein lies the secret of inner peace.
AUM 522. University of Connecticut, Storrs, Conn, 19 April 1969↩
My birth is sleep, my life is nightUnknown my life shall die unknown.
I breathe unseen my ceaseless moan.
My birth is sleep, my life is night.
I drink an empty hope's delight.
Silence-sea and dancing waves of Grace
Long lost have I in my backward race.
And now my escaping breath I see
Captured by strangling eternity.
I declareI declare ever what is true —
My heart is God’s revealing Light.
My soul is God's fulfilling Might.
My life is God's transforming Hue.
I declare ever what is sure —
This world of ours has much to say.
Our climbing earth God's promised Day.
AUMMan is Infinity’s Heart.
Man is Eternity’s Breath.
Man is Immortality’s Life.