Question: How can I become more alert?Sri Chinmoy: You can become more alert the same way that you have already become alert. Once upon a time you were in the world of desire. There you were totally dead. But the Grace of the Supreme descended and made you alert. So again the Grace of the Supreme will descend and it will make you more alert. But the Grace of the Supreme acts only when a seeker, even unconsciously, tries to do the right thing, the thing that will please the Supreme.
Question: Is breaking a promise to oneself insincerity or lack of will-power?Sri Chinmoy: When one breaks one’s promise, it is undoubtedly due to one’s lack of will-power. This lack of will-power is not insincerity. But when the promise is not fulfilled, undoubtedly others may call it an act of insincerity. We say that someone is insincere when he deliberately says something that he knows is wrong and undivine. But lack of will-power is not deliberate. When someone has a lack of will-power, first he consciously or unconsciously has to observe his lack of will-power, and then he has to strengthen his will-power so that he can fulfil his promise. Again, if someone has will-power, that does not mean that he will be able to fulfil his promise. No. The Grace of the Supreme is needed. Otherwise, there are many people who have will-power in abundant measure, but in spite of having will-power, they cannot fulfil their promises. It is because they do not have enough Grace from above. So will-power and Grace from above are both needed to fulfil a divine promise.
Question: Guru, how can I improve my meditation?Sri Chinmoy: You can improve your meditation if you consciously and constantly feel in your heart of hearts that it is only meditation, soulful meditation, that will be able to give you peace of mind. Not only that, but your meditation power will also be appreciated and admired by all those who are around you.
Again, you have to know that meditation will give you joy. You have to give tremendous importance to joy. So, if you really give importance to joy and can feel the necessity of joy in your life, then you will do everything in your power to acquire joy. You will meditate most soulfully. Just by thinking that you will improve your meditation, you will not do it. But if you know what you can get from meditation, if you know that your meditation will give you tremendous joy, then definitely you will work hard inwardly and outwardly to improve your meditation. It is only an act of conscious and constant effort that is necessary for you to improve your meditation.
Question: What is your relationship with the soundless sound Aum?Sri Chinmoy: My relationship with the soundless sound is the relationship of a most intimate friend. This particular friend of mine helps me in the manifestation of the Supreme. And I help this friend by invoking and treasuring and embodying the cosmic Silence, universal Silence, transcendental Silence.
Question: What should I do to become a perfect and pure instrument when I am cooking at Dipti Nivas?Sri Chinmoy: You can become a perfect instrument, a pure instrument, while you are cooking at Dipti Nivas provided you perfectly know for whom you are cooking. Who is your boss? Your boss is not Una. Your boss is not Sri Chinmoy. Your boss is the Supreme. But you have to see the Boss, the Supreme, inside Una, inside Sri Chinmoy. If you see the Supreme, if you can feel the presence of the Supreme inside these two, then it will help you immensely. If you know that you are working for the most perfect Supreme, the Lord Supreme, then only you can become a perfect instrument.
While you are cooking, you have to feel that you are cooking for the supreme Guest, the Supreme Himself, who will eat in and through the hundreds of people who will come to the restaurant. Don’t think of the people who are going to eat as human beings. Think only of the Supreme inside the hundreds and hundreds of people who will eat. Constantly you have to feel that you are cooking, not for any human being, not for an ordinary human, but for the Supreme Himself in hundreds of human beings. The Supreme is the supreme Guest, and as a guest He is coming to you in hundreds of human forms. Because the Supreme Himself will be eating your food, you have to feel the supreme necessity of purity. Once you have purity inside you in boundless measure, then it will help you immensely. At that time you will be a perfect instrument.
It is like this. The Supreme’s representative is Sri Chinmoy, and my representative is Una. So, first you have to please Una, then you have to please me and you have to please the Supreme. Then again, the other way also you have to do it: from the Supreme to me to Una.
Question: Is there any cosmic law that controls the ebb and flow of our inspiration?Sri Chinmoy: No. It is not the cosmic law that controls the ebb and flow of our inspiration. It is our own acceptance of light that can regulate and does regulate the ebb and flow of our inspiration. It is the power of our own aspiration and the power of our own dedication. It is from our aspiration, our inner aspiration, that we get outer inspiration. So if we are inwardly crying, then outwardly we are bound to be surcharged with inspiration.
Sometimes we say that first comes imagination, then inspiration, then aspiration, then realisation, then revelation and then manifestation. This is one way of going: step by step. But we have to know that if there is no aspiration in the central being, inside the heart, then there can be no imagination, no inspiration, nothing. It is aspiration that remains inside us in the seed form. God Himself was the aspiration, is the aspiration and will eternally remain the all-fulfilling aspiration.
So, when we have aspiration, then inside our aspiration we can get inspiration. It is aspiration that regulates the ebb and flow of inspiration. When we have very good aspiration, then we see the flow of inspiration. Again, when aspiration descends or is not powerful, then we see the ebb of our inspiration. So it is always advisable to keep aspiration as powerful and high as possible in order to keep a most powerful flow of illumining and fulfilling inspiration.
In your case, dearest Ratna, when you aspire most sincerely, your whole outer life becomes a flood of inspiration. At that time, at every second you feel that life is nothing but opportunity. And this opportunity is nothing but the reality which is blossoming inside your entire existence, for the total manifestation of the Absolute Supreme in and through you.
Question: Many good soldiers have fallen. How can I be assured of staying in your boat for the entire incarnation?Sri Chinmoy: Just because many have failed, you cannot say that you have failed. And just because many have fallen in the battlefield of life, you cannot say that everybody will fall. Many people fail the school examination, but others go on to the higher classes, and still others come afterwards to study in the same school. What is of paramount importance is your own faith in yourself and in the Lord Supreme. If you have faith in the Supreme, if you have faith in yourself, then the question of falling does not arise. But if you have very little faith in the Supreme, then naturally you will fall. If you have little faith in yourself, then immediately you will fall. If you have only a little faith in the Supreme, you may fall tomorrow; but if you have little faith in yourself, then you will fall at this very moment.
So, it is always advisable to have faith in yourself and to have faith in the Supreme. If you have faith in the Supreme, constant faith, continuous faith, ever-illumining and ever-fulfilling faith, then only you can be assured that you will not be asked or compelled to leave our boat. It is your own inner cry and your own faith in yourself that will solve the problem. And it is your faith in the all-loving Concern of the Supreme that can save you. Only be brave, be brave — not in the military way, but brave in your devotional attitude to the Supreme, in your unconditional approach to the Supreme’s Compassion. Then you can rest assured that you will remain in my boat for the entire incarnation.
Question: Can you tell us what role the Divine Mother plays?Sri Chinmoy: The Divine Mother is the feminine aspect of the Divine Father, the Lord Supreme. God is Himself both Father and Mother. God the Mother plays Her role through infinite Compassion, infinite Love, infinite Concern for humanity and infinite Patience-Light. Again, inside this Patience-Light there is constant Immortality, the constant, immortal and all-loving Vision and Manifestation of the Absolute Supreme.
Question: Since all our aspiration is the result of God's Grace, what part does personal effort play in total surrender?Sri Chinmoy: It is true that our aspiration is due to God’s Grace. But again, it is God’s Grace that enables us to play our role, which is personal effort. Right now we say that our aspiration is one percent personal effort and ninety-nine percent God’s Grace. But eventually we will see that it is God’s Grace that gives us even the one percent of personal effort. So, unconditional effort comes not from conditional service, but from continuous and constant loving service. It is from constant, spontaneous, loving service that one day unconditional surrender will come. It is not from conditional surrender that unconditional surrender comes. No, it is from continuous, conscious and self-giving love to the Supreme Cause that eventually one can be blessed with the capacity for unconditional surrender.
Question: Is it better to hear the inner voice and pursue that single-mindedly or surrender to the collective aspiration of the Centre at times when there seems to be a conflict?Sri Chinmoy: When there seems to be a conflict in your life of aspiration, it is always advisable to approach the Master. It is I who will be able to tell you whether your own inner voice is correct or whether the collective aspiration of the Centre is correct. Sometimes you may get a totally wrong voice. Again, sometimes the collective aspiration can be totally wrong and absurd. So it is not the collective aspiration that can play the role of the judge and it is not what you hear as the inner voice that can play the role of the judge, since you may not hear the message properly. Therefore, you cannot say that the message which you hear is the message of your inner voice, of your inner reality.
So, what should you do when there is a conflict between the collective aspiration and the message that you get from your inner existence? It is always advisable to ask me to say who is right in this matter. And when you get my message, you have to feel that it is absolutely the message of your own inner voice and that it is also the message of the soul of the collective aspiration. Inside the collective aspiration will be the real message of the divine and inside the inner voice there will also be the message of the divine reality. But this message can be found and recognised by me alone. In your case, in everybody’s case, if the individual is not sure, it is advisable for the seeker to wait for my message, for my guidance, for my assurance.
Question: My mind tells me that it is unsatisfied; it tells me that it needs more knowledge, such as schooling. Will this interfere with my spiritual life?Sri Chinmoy: In your case, it will definitely interfere with your spiritual life. Unfortunately, already your mind is an obstacle to your fast inner progress. You have a beautiful soul, a really good soul, but your mind is standing in the way of your very fast progress. If you study in school, it will only add more confusion to your mental understanding. Please try to go far beyond the domain of mental knowledge and remain inside the heart, which has spontaneous knowledge of the universal Light and Truth.
In some cases, definitely it is advisable to cultivate more light in the mind, so that the heart and the mind can go together. But in your case, it is not necessary; it is absolutely unnecessary, redundant, to go to school. In your case, the process has to be different. Your mind has to totally surrender to the heart’s oneness-reality, to the heart’s oneness-reality with the Supreme’s infinite Light and infinite Delight. Only live in the heart for the soul, for the Supreme. Then you will get boundless joy every day in all your multifarious activities. Live in the heart, for the soul. This will be your schooling.
Question: Is it feasible that the man-power and money-power of the disciples could be directed towards helping people in an obvious physical way, such as in the event of natural disaster or poverty?Sri Chinmoy: A natural disaster and poverty are deplorable. To help people who are suffering in a natural disaster, who are suffering from poverty, is undoubtedly good. But for whom? For those who have not accepted the spiritual life in the proper sense of the term. To be a philanthropist is a good thing. To offer help to the needy is a good thing. But to listen to the dictates of the Supreme is not only infinitely more meaningful and fruitful, it is also the only thing that a sincere disciple should and must do. Disaster and poverty should be averted by human efforts. But the ignorance of millennia can be removed or illumined only by the intense inner cry of the disciples. And that inner cry, if God feels that it is in order, in particular cases, the man-power and the money-power also should be added to the inner cry in order to make it strong, stronger, strongest. Money-power and man-power should be used only to add to the aspiration-power. But it is the aspiration-power that eventually has to totally remove ignorance. When ignorance goes away, then poverty disappears and disaster disappears.
In every case, the wrong forces or unpleasant experiences that we get are due to ignorance. So the seeker must use his money-power, man-power, everything, for one cause, and that is to increase his own aspiration. If his aspiration increases with the help of his money-power, then only will ignorance be conquered and illumined. Then, once ignorance is conquered, at that time all the problems, poverty, suffering and so forth will be totally removed. So, aspiration-power is the only thing that can solve the disciples’ problems.
Those who are not strictly spiritual, who are not disciples of any Master, should follow their own wise morality. Helping poverty-stricken people and disaster-assailed people is a good thing. Undoubtedly it is a good thing. But disciples, sincere seekers of the highest Truth, have an infinitely higher message. Their message is to become totally one, inseparably one, with the Will of the Supreme. Only by becoming totally one with the Will of the Supreme can they illumine ignorance and manifest God’s Wisdom-Light and Vision on earth.
Question: What can you do if you repeatedly fail to live up to your expectations of yourself?Sri Chinmoy: There is only one thing that you can do and that is to try again and again. You say that you have failed repeatedly, and that you have some higher expectations for yourself. But even if you fail again and again, do not give up. If you give up, then immediately you will be taken not only back to the starting point, but infinitely further back, behind your starting point. So if you give up, then you immediately go back far beyond your imagination. If you strive, if you hope, then eventually a day comes when you will be able to fulfil yourself. Expectation is hope, and hope is the harbinger of light.
Why are you not able to fulfil your expectations? Because your cry is not yet intense. It is not yet constant. So, what can you do? You have to make your cry conscious, constant and spontaneous. If you do that, then only you will be able to meet with your expectations. At that time, the petals of your hope-flower will blossom into the reality-flower itself. What you have now are hope-petals, but they are not blossoming. But if you continuously, soulfully and unreservedly make an effort, then the hope-petals without fail will blossom into reality-flowers.
Question: From the highest spiritual point of view, is absolutely everything predestined?Sri Chinmoy: From the highest spiritual point of view, everything is predestined and, again, everything is not predestined, because God Himself is not bound by any law. He is eternally free. He wants to make Himself free from all His own cosmic laws. Out of His inner Wisdom, infinite Wisdom, He has created this cosmic law. But He feels that if He does not break His cosmic law, then He is bound by His own cosmic law. From the highest point of view, if we say that everything is predestined, it will be a mistake, because then we are binding God; we are binding God to destiny. But God is infinitely higher than the destiny that He has made for humanity. He wants to enjoy His supreme freedom. He says that He will do something. But then if He feels that by not doing this thing He will be able to do much for an individual or for humanity, then why should he remain bound? So He can easily change the rules of His cosmic Game.
On the one hand, while creating the universe, God has made certain laws so that there will be some system, some order. But in His case, every rule admits of exception. If He blindly sticks to His own principles, then He is like us. We need certain disciplines, certain principles, so that we will arrive at a certain point, a certain goal. But in God’s case, He is the starting point and He Himself is also the goal. So, He does not have to adopt the human method that He has to do such and such in order to get the result. If in His Vision He sees something, then the Vision will be transformed into reality. But on the way, if He wants to change the Vision itself in order to arrive at another reality, then He can do so.
So, God is not bound by anything. Since He is not bound by anything, we cannot say that everything is predestined. It is predestined for the fatalist, for one who believes constantly in fate. But there is a superior force, an infinitely superior force, and that force is called the Grace of the infinite Supreme. So God’s infinite Grace easily can nullify, expedite and illumine fate and do anything that it wants to do in order to better the consciousness of humanity. If God wants to, He can keep His promise; then everything is predestined. Again, if He wants to change His cosmic Game, He can do that. He is all freedom; He wants to act in and through a constant, infinite freedom for Himself and for His entire creation.
Question: What must a divinely dauntless divine soldier do every day, every hour of his life?Sri Chinmoy: A divinely dauntless divine soldier every day and every hour of his life must remain grateful to the Supreme. For it is the Supreme, the Supreme’s Compassion, that has made him a divinely dauntless soldier in order to fight against the ignorance of millennia. He who is chosen by the Supreme to fight for the Supreme against ignorance must be constantly grateful, for the Supreme could have chosen somebody else to serve Him, please Him, fulfil Him and manifest Him on earth. So all those who are chosen by the Supreme to play the role of dauntless divine soldiers must offer their conscious, constant and unconditional gratitude, for the Absolute Supreme has showered His boundless Compassion-Light on them.
Question: How can Dipti Nivas please you more?Sri Chinmoy: Dipti Nivas is already pleasing me in a surprising way. But, as I say, there is no end to our progress, to our achievement. Therefore, I can tell you that there are ways to please me more. All the workers of Dipti Nivas must feel that Dipti Nivas has a body, Dipti Nivas has a vital, Dipti Nivas has a mind, Dipti Nivas has a heart, Dipti Nivas has a soul.
The physical part of Dipti Nivas — the rooms, the tables, the chairs and benches — must give an immediate sense of cleanliness. It is already clean, but there still can be more cleanliness.
The vital aspect of Dipti Nivas must give immediate dynamism. Anything that can be done in the twinkling of an eye, at this very moment, must not be delayed. A server in Dipti Nivas must not delay even a minute before he executes something. If he knows that something has to be done, he has to do it immediately. And then, even if he sees that something can be done tomorrow, that very thing should be done today. For tomorrow the same person will get another opportunity, another golden opportunity to do something more illumining.
From your prayer, from your meditation, from your inner vision, if you see that something can be done tomorrow, then do it today. But if you do not see what is going to happen tomorrow, if you do not envision tomorrow’s reality, then you have to remain silent and just wait for tomorrow. But once you know that something can be done or has to be done tomorrow, don’t wait for tomorrow. Just do it today. You are the boss. You are the main instrument of Dipti Nivas. If you know that something has to be done tomorrow, then do it today. But if you know that something has to be done now, then don’t delay for even one minute. This is called vital dynamism.
Then comes the mind aspect. When you use the mind for Dipti Nivas, it has to be the clear mind — not the mind that doubts, but the mind that is crystal clear. But whatever you want to see, just see it with the mind that is like a crystal-clear glass. Then, if you see some reality for Dipti Nivas, feel that this is the thing. Do not change your mind. You are not being stubborn or arrogant. But the first message that you get from the inner voice in and through your mind or the mind of Dipti Nivas, that very message you have to feel is the right thing. Do not let other thoughts, doubting thoughts, intellectual thoughts, contradictory or complicating thoughts, enter into your mind and confuse you. Do not let these thoughts make you feel that by analysing things you will become a great professor. No! The first message that you get from your aspiration after your meditation and prayer is the message that your heart wants to convey. It is the message that your inner being wants to convey through the mind and it is absolutely right, absolutely correct.
Then comes the heart aspect of Dipti Nivas. At every moment, when you see that visitors or outsiders are coming, you have to feel that they are not human beings as such. No, try to feel that they are part and parcel of your own limbs. If somebody calls out “Una”, then immediately feel that it is not only your name but the name of the supreme Guest that has come. This supreme Guest is inside each and every one who visits the divine enterprise. Each time you see someone try to see the Supreme inside that person’s heart. If you see the Supreme inside his heart or feel the presence of the Supreme, then the role of your heart and the role of the Dipti Nivas heart become absolutely perfect.
Only you have to see each and every individual as your own. But you can’t see other human beings as your own unless and until you see the Supreme inside them as your own. When you see someone, don’t think that that person is your own; only see the Real in him as your own. The Real in him is the Supreme. So, if you can feel or see the presence of the Supreme in him, then only you can claim as your own his outer existence, which is his cloak. So, when you see the visitor with your heart, immediately you will identify yourself with the Real in them.
You have to feel that you and the heart of Dipti Nivas are absolutely one. Your name and the heart of Dipti Nivas must not be two things. Always you have to feel that you and the heart of Dipti Nivas, or Dipti Nivas and your heart, are the same thing. And this heart you have to make the main instrument, the divine instrument. Then only you will do the right thing.
Then comes the soul of Dipti Nivas. When you think of Dipti Nivas, try to think a few times each day that it does not have a body. These halls, these rooms that you are seeing are not the Real. The real thing is only the soul, and it is a beautiful, most luminous reality. Dipti Nivas is the Abode of Light Supreme. So a few times daily you and all the workers have to feel that this is the Abode of the Supreme.
Whenever you think of the Supreme, you immediately get divine joy, divine delight, divine satisfaction. So please try to feel, “Oh, we are in His Room, in His Abode, in His House.” Then automatically your whole being, inner and outer, will be surcharged with delight. So if you think of Dipti Nivas as the soul, then only can all the divine qualities of the soul be seen, felt and manifested in and through the heart, vital, mind and body of Dipti Nivas.
Then you have to feel that above the soul is the Supreme. This Light, Peace and Delight that you are seeing in the soul, or as the soul itself, has an owner. The owner is the Supreme Himself. So, on the strength of your imagination, inspiration and aspiration, you will try to invoke Him. He is the real owner of the soul, the divine Reality which is trying to manifest in and through Light and with Light. The Supreme is trying to manifest His Light in and through the body, vital, mind and heart and also through each individual server at Dipti Nivas. So, if you can make yourself feel that these are the things that are of paramount importance, and if all the workers at Dipti Nivas can feel at every moment these are the things that they have to do in their own life of aspiration and dedication, then definitely Dipti Nivas will not only please me more, but will also please me most, in every possible way.
Editor's preface to the first editionFrom 1 November to 5 November, 1976, Sri Chinmoy was in San Francisco for the opening of an exhibition of his Jharna-Kala paintings. He also gave an esraj concert and conducted a public meditation. During his stay, the Master honoured the recent third anniversary of Dipti Nivas restaurant by inviting its employees, who are all disciples, to submit a spiritual question to him. This booklet contains their questions and Sri Chinmoy’s answers.