The doubt-world

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Part I

Transformation

What is transformation? From the spiritual point of view, transformation means the fire-pure change in our consciousness. This consciousness of ours which is impure has to be purified totally. If there is no purification, there can be no transformation. Again, when we see impurity or obscurity around us and within us, we must not be scared, because our nature's transformation is what God wants. And God can never remain a failure. For transformation, what we need is patience and perseverance. Here I wish to give you an example. Today we have inaugurated our Chinmoy Publishing Company. Two weeks ago, this building was imperfection itself: ugly, dirty in every way. But now these rooms are practically transformed into perfection. How? Through human patience, perseverance, zeal and dedicated service. Quite a few individuals were the instruments who transformed the Chinmoy Publishing Company with their inner, sincere effort. Fifteen days ago if you had seen it, and if you did not have the vision of the future, immediately you would have been surprised at how this could have been achieved today.

Always you have to have the inner vision. If you feel that you don't have the inner vision and that somebody else will give it to you, then you are making a serious mistake. A few months ago, the youngest son of one of the disciples was talking with me and I asked him if he knew how to spell his name. He said yes, but he was making mistakes. He was so surprised when he saw that I knew how to spell his name, for all the time he thought it was a top secret. It was so difficult for him, but I spelled it with such ease! Here is a child who does not see the future with his inner light; he sees only the present and in the present he is caught. He does not know how to form the word. In the case of spiritual people, it is not like that. A sincere seeker always feels that there is an inner light inside. Either he has to enter into this inner light or the inner light has to come to the fore. So when these human instruments, these sincere seekers, looked at these rooms, they had inner vision. They saw the future with their own inner capacity and today they have proved the reality of their vision.

Transformation is something which has to come from within and from above. But for that, along with our aspiration what we need is patience. If we think we can realise God overnight, then we are fooling ourselves. God-realisation takes time. Those who tell you that they will be able to give you realisation in four hours or six hours, if you give them a large fee, are badly deceiving you. Money cannot give you realisation and you cannot get realisation in a few hours' time. Realisation is a life-long process; it takes a good many incarnations. If one has a spiritual Master of the highest calibre, a Master who is in constant touch with the Supreme, then he can change the fate of the individual. He can transform night into day. He can do anything, because his will and God's Will are absolutely one.

Please enter into the spiritual life with hope, and feel that this hope is not an idle hope but something solid. Enter into the spiritual life with aspiration and try to feel that this aspiration is coming from within, from the highest. Only you have to be aware of it. Self-dedication is also of paramount importance. Everyone without exception will realise God, but what you need is patience. Since you are spiritual seekers you have aspiration, but most of you do not have the necessary patience. But if you have patience, then your aspiration and patience will bring you to your destined Goal. If you have aspiration and patience, you don't have to run towards your Goal; your Goal will come to you.

Those who consciously feel that they have imperfections must not feel that they are doomed. There are quite a few of you who do feel that way. Although you feel that spirituality is the answer, you feel that it is not for you because you are all imperfection. But I always say, only pay attention to the thing that you need. What you need is perfection. If you are angry and feel you are a victim to anger, then try to feel that the other side of anger you also have. If you have fear, please feel that you also have courage within you. If you have doubt, then feel that you also have faith in yourself. What you call ignorance is only for today. Today's ignorance and imperfection you can easily transform into knowledge and perfection. Everything that you don't want, you can throw aside; and everything that you want, you can claim as your very own.

13 July 1970
Connecticut Centre
Wilton, Connecticut

Morality and spirituality

Aspiration started from mineral life in a very insignificant manner. When we came to the animal life, there the vital originated, the aggressive vital, the vital that wants to destroy and not the vital that wants to do something good. Then destruction started. When we came to the human life during our first few incarnations as human beings we were still mainly animals. Individuals in their first or second human incarnation can pray to God for many nice things. But many times they also make undivine prayers. If the wife is pregnant, the husband will pray, "Let her have a stillborn child," or if the wife has her own children, instead of praying, "Make my children divine," she will make some kind of animal prayer.

Even in the human incarnation it is all animal in the beginning. Then we become 70 percent animal and 30 percent human, then 50 percent animal and 50 percent human. But a time comes when the animal consciousness goes away and we come to be human and divine. We have 99 percent human consciousness and one percent divine consciousness. The divine consciousness is always there, but only to a very small degree. So from 99 percent human and one percent divine it comes to 70 percent human and 30 percent divine.

At this point morality starts. Morality is absolutely necessary because the animal consciousness has disappeared and through morality we are moving into a form of virtue: we won't steal, we won't tell lies, we won't strike people, we will be trustworthy. Morality teaches us all these things. Before a person enters into the spiritual life, he goes through all moralities. He has to complete the moral circle; otherwise, he won't be ready to enter into spirituality. By sincere aspiration he wants to make fast progress in spirituality. Then, after he has completed his moral circle, if he has a spiritual Master who says, "I am entering into you, I am becoming one with you, I am making you my own instrument, to do something for God," he can become a divine instrument. But this will happen only if he has previously completed the moral circle.

Take the case of Krishna and Arjuna. Arjuna had played his role for morality. He was a jewel among his neighbours; he was the best person. Then Krishna came and asked Arjuna to kill his friends, his neighbours, his close relatives and cousins. How can a moral person kill? Arjuna couldn't even kill animals; yet Krishna was asking his dearest disciple to kill members of his own family. But we must know that there was a spiritual purpose for this. Krishna knew it had to be done because at that time the undivine forces were destroying the earth consciousness. So Arjuna went one step beyond morality and just became an instrument. In the spiritual life, when one enters the infinite Consciousness, one is like the ocean. When a person is ready to know the infinite, his consciousness goes beyond the domain of morality. Many things one does because it is the infinite that commands it.

Some spiritual Masters feel that if they are relaxed, then their disciples will do all sorts of insincere things. So they have to be strict all the time with regard to morality. On the one hand, spiritual Masters try to be strict; on the other hand, they feel that some of their disciples are ready to fully surrender to God, so they tell them, "You are ready to go beyond morality." Suppose the husband is a disciple and his wife is not, and they are fighting constantly. The Master will tell the husband that he must leave his wife. His morality will say, "O God, if I leave my wife, who will take care of her, who will take care of my children?" Morality binds, but a spiritual person knows that God created the world and God takes care of what He has created. If the spiritual Master feels that this particular man is ready and the wife is not ready, then he will say, "Leave her. You go towards the Light. If you leave your wife, you are doing her a great favour because she is still fast asleep in the inner world. Unconsciously you are becoming an instrument to awaken her soul, but her Hour has not yet struck. So it is only a torture, a punishment for her.

Look at the Buddha. The Buddha left his wife and child while they were fast asleep. Can you imagine? Will morality allow any father to leave his most beautiful wife and little boy? No! But the Buddha left because he got the inner command, and God told him that He would take care of the wife and child. All his friends said he was so immoral, so insincere. But then he realised God, the infinite Consciousness, and his wife wanted to become his disciple. The Buddha thought that his mission would fail if he allowed women to join his path, so he wouldn't allow his wife to become a disciple. But the wife was very clever. She sent her son to the Buddha, and the Buddha gladly accepted him. But when he had accepted the one half, he had to accept the other half also; he had to accept his wife. When he accepted his wife he said, "Now I have taken women into the fold. If my mission was going to last so many years, it is going to last only half that amount now." In those days women were not ready for the spiritual life, but now it is different. Women are making wonderful progress. The Buddha said what he had to say for that time. But at this time in history it is different.

Morality will say, "Always tell the truth." We all want to tell the truth and we are crying for the truth. But suppose there are two persons fighting, and one takes out a knife and begins chasing the other one. The one who is being chased comes to a saint's house for shelter. The saint is meditating and he says to the man, "Here you will be well protected." When the one with the knife comes running up and asks the saint if he has seen anyone, the saint replies, "No, I haven't."

The saint is praying and meditating all day and morality will say that he is a liar. But what has he done? By telling this so-called falsehood, he has saved the precious life of one individual. He has also saved the one who wanted to kill this individual. If the one had killed the other, he would have dropped into a very low consciousness, into the darkest. So the saint has saved two people: the one who was going to be killed and the one who was going to kill. Morality will say, "He is a liar." But spirituality will say, "No, he has done the right thing. He has saved two souls."

When you enter into the spiritual life, your standards of right and wrong are determined only by God's Will. In the Mahabharata it was God's Will for Arjuna to kill, because there were undivine forces on the earth at that time. Again, God's Will was in the saint, who wanted to avoid killing. If we apply morality in these cases, we will call Arjuna a destroyer and the saint a liar. But we do not know what God's Will is. Only when we reach the height and can identify ourselves with God's Consciousness will we see that whatever God wants is right. But from a limited consciousness we cannot expect to see right and wrong all the time.

The doubt-world

Some people basically do not have doubt. God has not given them a brain or they don't have a developed mind. Either it is God's fault or they are lucky, but they do not have doubt and they are progressing in their own way.

If we do have doubt, we should not try to suppress it. Suppression is the worst thing. I have always said that if we suppress something today, then tomorrow the negative forces inside us that we are trying to suppress will come out vehemently and try to destroy us. When it comes to the vital life, emotional life or drinking and smoking, I always say that we have to purify and illumine ourselves slowly. If a doubt comes and we try to destroy it through suppression, it will not be destroyed. It will only wait for another opportunity to come, when we are weaker. At that time doubt will come again and make us insane. When doubt comes, the best thing is to accept it as non-reality or unreality. In the ultimate reality, when we realise God, there is no doubt. At that time we ourselves are the reality. So when doubt comes, first we accept it and then we try to transform it into faith or illumine it. But right now we can't negate it or hide its existence. If doubt comes and we tell others, "I have no doubt," that is total falsehood.

In the human life who doesn't have doubt? Perhaps someone has only one doubt and another person has countless doubts. If one has countless doubts, it is like having, let us say, countless obstacles on the physical plane. But we can take these obstacles as opportunities. We will not welcome an obstacle, but if it stands in our way, we shall face it and overcome it. Each time we conquer an obstacle we have to feel that a new opportunity has dawned. Before we enter any difficulty, inner or outer, it appears insurmountable. The difficulty is like a mountain. It looks so high and we feel that we cannot climb it or go beyond it. Then afterwards, when we enter into the difficulty, we get tremendous inspiration — an inner push or inner urge. Then the difficulty is nothing; it is a passing phase, a cloud. We have entered into a cloud, but soon the sun will come out. It is only a matter of a few hours, and then the sun is bound to come to the fore. At that time we climb up and we reach our highest goal. Again, beyond our highest goal we see another mountain. Then we have another opportunity to realise our own reality. So in the morning the difficulty seems insurmountable. At noon the difficulty appears very easy to surmount, as easy as drinking water. By evening the difficulty has become an opportunity to enter into the highest and farthest Beyond.

If we feel that doubt has entered into our spiritual life or that we have some other difficulty, we will face it as an experience and try to illumine it. Then, the moment we transform it, this doubt becomes a solid foundation in our life of aspiration. If we accept and transform what comes our way instead of denying its existence, that very thing becomes ours. At first ignorance takes the side of ignorance and wisdom takes the side of wisdom. But the moment ignorance comes and attacks us, if we use our own wisdom to accept it, transform it, illumine it and make it our own, then its strength has become our own. Ignorance can again come and attack us, but now we have more power. The ignorance that we have transformed and illumined has become our friend; it is an added strength.

Whatever comes our way, we should grab and transform with our will power. But if we try to deny the existence of these negative forces — fear, doubt and insecurity — they won't leave us. If we do not accept these forces, if we deny their existence, then there comes a time in one of our unguarded moments when they show us what they are. Once a spiritual Master was asked by his disciple, "What can hostile forces do?" Immediately, he gave the names of three of his disciples. "It can take away the dearest disciples. Two of these disciples have been snatched away. The third had to die untimely. I could not protect him."

So, if doubt comes, take it as an experience and then go beyond it. Transform it into something higher and more fulfilling. Then you will see that there is no problem. Those who have no doubt do not have to worry. But again, to condemn those who have doubt is a stupid, deplorable and unpardonable mistake. If I am lacking something, it is because God didn't give it to me. Again, if God does give someone a particular obstacle, it is for a special purpose. So we have to know that God will take care of him and transform the difficulty in His own way.

When we enter into God, we enter into Reality. Reality cannot have doubt. Reality itself is truth, so how can it permit doubt? But in the beginning, if we feel that doubt is entering into us, let us accept it and recognise its existence as a force to be transformed for our own benefit. First the mountain appears insurmountable; then it becomes so easy to climb up. Finally it becomes a genuine opportunity to enter into greater reality.

The body's necessity

We have to know the difference between the necessity of the body and the extravagance of the body. The unnecessary demands of the body are lethargy, indulgence. The necessities of the body are alertness, dynamism, cheerfulness and eagerness to participate in the fulfilment of the soul's vision, the soul's realisation and the soul's manifestation.

Often we will see that the body is standing in the way of our inspiration. We are inspired to do something, but the body says, "No, the best thing is to take rest." Early in the morning, something within us is inspiring us to get up and meditate. But the body says, "No, it is only five o'clock. Let me sleep for another five minutes." But it is not just five minutes; it becomes twenty-five minutes. Then we will say, "Now the best thing is for me to sleep only one more minute. That is enough." Then that one minute is stretched into twenty minutes. Finally we get up at six o'clock or even later and curse ourselves. "Why did I do it? Why did I get up only now when I wanted to get up at five o'clock?" At that time we made friends with inertia, not with aspiration. When the soul told us to get up at five o'clock and meditate, if we had listened to the soul, then we would have got up and meditated. But at that time we became friends with our physical consciousness.

When it is a matter of indulgence, we have to feel that the body is making a terrible mistake. We must have nothing to do with the body at that time. We have to feel that we are not the body: we are the soul. The consciousness of the body that does not want to aspire — the physical consciousness that wants to stand aloof, wants to stand apart from dynamism, aspiration and inner cry — that physical consciousness has to be illumined.

The very nature of the body is unwillingness. It is like a naughty child. The mother is telling the child, "Come here and drink milk. Eat your food." But just because the child is naughty, he does not want to eat. He gets pleasure in not listening to the mother's wish. Here also, when the soul dictates in silence, the body gets malicious pleasure in not listening to the soul. Then again, there are children who are very obedient, who really want to please their parents right from the beginning. And some children eventually become obedient even though they were previously very unruly. In the case of the body also, there comes a time when it consciously tries to listen to the inner dictates of the soul and to fulfil the spiritual needs of the individual. If the body is eager to act the way the soul wants, and accept the soul's light, at that time we have to feel that the physical consciousness is absolutely necessary.

If we want to ignore something, we can. But by ignoring the body, we cannot fulfil our promise to God. At the same time, we have to remain aloof from the demands of the body. We have to feel that the body is like a mischievous monkey. We have to keep this monkey under control. The vital also is like a mischievous monkey which we have to keep under our control. Everything that is acting in an undivine way has to be brought under control. This moment the body is unruly, the next moment the vital is unruly and the following moment the mind is unruly. So what shall we do? We have to be very strict. Let us become one with the soul. That means that we become the boss of our life. If three of our workers go on strike, then we shall immediately force them to go back to their job. They cannot go on strike and ruin our work. We are the boss. We have to threaten these workers and warn them that they are doing something wrong. Naturally, they know that it will not be easy for them to leave us because they won't get a better salary elsewhere. Just because they are our body, our vital, our mind, they have a special connection, an inseparable link with us. They can't break that connection. And eventually they will come to know that we are telling them the right thing.

For twenty-three hours a day, the body may remain unconscious and stand against the judgement of the soul and the soul's light. But for one hour if it can remain in a divine consciousness, then during that hour it will know that whatever the soul says is for its good. It is not for the soul's own sake that the soul requests us to do something; it is also for the body's sake. At that particular hour the body feels that the soul is all love, all kindness, all concern for it. Then naturally the body will get inspiration to spend more time listening to the soul's dictates instead of going in its own undivine way.

So from now on, kindly be aware of the demands of the body. If the demands are absurd, if the demands will not allow the body to make progress, then those demands have to be discarded. But if the body is participating consciously and soulfully in the soul's task, then we have to feel that the body is doing absolutely the right thing.

The integral way is for the body, vital, mind, heart and soul to go together. They are all members of the same family. But we have to know that the soul is the oldest and wisest member. Whoever is the oldest and the wisest should take the lead. So, what we need is not the path of indulgence, but the path of alertness, the path of acceptance of the soul's light. This is what we want from the body.

Part II: Interview On Wrvr Radio

On 22 January 1974 Sri Chinmoy was interviewed on WRVR's "Connections" in Connecticut. A transcript of that interview follows.

Interviewer: Sri Chinmoy, were you the only one in your family to follow the spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: No, in my family everyone — my parents, my sisters, my brothers — all were oriented to the spiritual life. That is why it was very easy for me to enter into the spiritual life.

Interviewer: How did your family fit into the Indian social scene?

Sri Chinmoy: They perfectly fit with the social life because our spirituality does not exclude life; it accepts life. But we feel that life as such is full of suffering, full of darkness and ignorance. So we pray and meditate and try to bring light into our system from above so that we can transform our suffering into joy and our darkness into light. We do not reject the world. If we reject the world, then how are we going to transform it? If I see that something in front of me is dirty or filthy, if I have love for that thing, then I will not cast it aside. I will transform it. So, spirituality means the acceptance of life with all its suffering, darkness and ignorance and the transformation of these things.

Interviewer: Does your philosophy demand a disciplined life?

Sri Chinmoy: On our path, everything we do has to be part of a disciplined life. Early in the morning a child has to get up to go to school. If he remains at home fast asleep and does not go to school, then now will he ever become a man of learning? But there is something within him that compels him to go to school so that he can become a man of learning. In the spiritual life also, there is something within us that prompts us to pray and meditate on God early in the morning so that we can get peace of mind.

Interviewer: Did you get religious training as a child?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, right from my childhood I went through very serious, rigorous spiritual discipline. I meditated for years and years and I stayed in a spiritual community for twenty years. Then I received something from within.

Interviewer: What made you decide to leave India and come to the United States?

Sri Chinmoy: It was not actually my decision. I am a servant, or you can say a devoted child of my Inner Pilot. My Inner Pilot, the Supreme, inwardly commanded me to come to the West to serve Him in Western seekers. It was not my choice. Yesterday He asked me to come here to the West and serve Him. Tomorrow if He asks me to go to some other part of the world, then I will go and be of service to Him there. Always it is His Will that I am executing with utmost love and devotion.

Interviewer: You say that, it's interesting to me because I don't really know concretely what you are talking about, although I do understand in one sense. When you say, "He sent me," how does this happen? Does the thought come in meditation or is it a vision, or what?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not a thought. It is a kind of flash, a vision, and there we can immediately see the reality. Right now I am talking to you and you are talking to me. We are using our minds, we are using our senses. With our eyes we are seeing each other. Vision is at one place and reality is at another place. This moment I am the vision and I am seeing the reality; the next moment you are the vision and I am the reality which you are seeing.

Interviewer: What was your first impression of Americans?

Sri Chinmoy: The first impression that I had, I still maintain right now: that Americans are eager to learn, eager to make inner progress. Outer achievement they have. Nobody can compare with them in outer achievement. It is not that because I am in America I am flattering you. No, it is my day-to-day experience and my firm inner conviction that in terms of the outer world's achievement, America far surpasses all other countries in the world. But again, Americans feel the need for something which they do not have, and that thing is called fulfilment of the inner hunger. Their outer hunger they have fulfilled, but their inner hunger they have not yet fulfilled. When I came to America, I saw that here people need something which unfortunately they have neglected for many, many centuries. They need inner peace, inner love, inner joy, inner satisfaction. So I tried and I am still trying to be of service to them.

Interviewer: And obviously a lot of Americans have come to you and follow you. About how many followers do you have?

Sri Chinmoy: I have approximately seven hundred followers or students. Unfortunately or fortunately, I am very selective in this matter because I feel that quality and not quantity is of paramount importance. I come across thousands and thousands of people during my talks at universities and other places, but I feel that there are many people who will make better progress if they go to some other Master. I won't say that it is because those people are not sincere spiritual seekers that I am not taking them. Far from it. In my case, I have said many times that there are people who will do extremely well if they go to some other Master. Only I am not the right person for them. So, when I am not the right person for a particular seeker who has approached me, then I tell him, "You are not meant for my path." It is not that my path is superior and that is why I am being selective. No, I am being selective in the sense that I will accept only those who are meant for my path. There is no rivalry between other Masters and myself. Only the Eternal Father will ask me at the end of my journey whether I have taken the persons whom He has entrusted to me. He will not ask me whether I have taken to Him ten million or sixty million disciples. No. He will say, "I did not want you to do a job that I did not give to you. I gave you the opportunity or responsibility only for so-and-so. Why did you bring others whom I did not ask to be brought by you?"

Interviewer: You said there is no rivalry. In the last twenty years many people have come from India to the United States to be of service. And I must say, to my eyes, some of them are very wise people and some of them would seem to come from Hollywood, not India. I am thinking of one who is currently making big shows and obviously taking in a lot of money from followers. Doesn't this disturb you? If one Master becomes a figure who is either laughed at or considered insincere, then that would in some way make people think that everybody who comes from India is that way.

Sri Chinmoy: You are absolutely right. The sincere ones do suffer quite often when insincere ones make a display of their so-called spiritual genius. But in these cases, we are helpless. Only we have the feeling that the real, sincere seekers who are being exploited today will not be exploited forever. I may be a fool for a day or for a few months, but I won't remain a fool all my life. So this is our only hope.

There have been some spiritual Masters who have exploited our Indian spirituality like anything and they have considerably damaged the opportunities of the sincere ones. There are spiritual Masters who claim that they will give God-realisation in the twinkling of an eye if only the seeker gives them a few thousand dollars. Now, this is absurd. If God-realisation could be achieved by virtue of money-power, then by this time all rich men would be realised. In America there would be millions of people who would be able to realise God overnight. This kind of false statement is absurd.

But when people ask me about other spiritual Masters, I always say, "I don't know that person." I only know what I have inside my room. You may ask me what I have and I will show you. But what they have I have no right to say, because I have not entered into their room. They will say, "What right have you to say this about me?" So, when people ask my opinion about other Masters, I simply say, "Please come into my room and I will show you what I have. To see what they have, you have to go into their room and look."

Interviewer: Some people feel that to speak of God as the "Father" is prejudiced, especially with all the talk about women's liberation and all that. What do you think?

Sri Chinmoy: It is a deplorable mistake when we take God as only a male figure. The Eternal Supreme is everything. God is not bound by our ideas of masculine and feminine. No. He transcends everything. He transcends all our human concepts. That is why He is God. If we feel that God is masculine and not feminine, then we have to know that it is our mind that is convincing us to believe in this idea. God is both masculine and feminine and also He is beyond masculine and feminine. The Father-aspect of God shows wisdom; the Mother-aspect shows Compassion. But God the Mother and God the Father are the same person. This moment He becomes God the Father, the next moment He becomes God the Mother. At this moment, when He shows Compassion, we call Him Mother. Then, the next moment, when He shows Wisdom-Height, we call Him Father. Again, Wisdom itself is Compassion and Compassion itself is Wisdom. They go together. Especially in the West, people use the term "Father". "Our Father Who art in Heaven" and "I and my Father are one." In India, we do not have that kind of conception. The Brahman is neither masculine nor feminine; it is neuter. God can be seen as an infinite expanse of Energy, Light and Bliss. That is the impersonal aspect. And again, God can be seen in the form of a most luminous being.

Interviewer: In one of your pamphlets you say, "Our path is basically the path of the heart and not that of the mind." And every time I hear this kind of thing, I must admit I have very mixed emotions, because I am rather fearful of all the forces pushing us toward the heart and away from the mind. I always thought of the mind as very useful, whereas feelings might be a very difficult barometer of conduct. Feelings lead some people to kill other people. Why do you say that the path of the heart is better than the path of the mind?

Sri Chinmoy: Please allow me to make it clear. The mind that you are referring to is the physical mind, the doubting mind, the sophisticated mind. The sophisticated mind: what has it learned? It hasn't learned anything. And what do we get from the doubting mind? By doubting, we don't get anything substantial; only we weaken our inner strength. Then, if the mind is all the time in the gross physical, all the time in the body-consciousness, thinking of the physical demands and vital demands, then we don't make any progress.

When we think of the heart, unfortunately we make a mistake. We think of the emotions that are around the heart or inside the heart. But the real heart is not like that. The real heart is the reality in us that constantly listens to the soul, and the soul is the direct representative of God. When we use the term 'heart,' let us think of something within us that has the capacity to identify itself with the reality.

We do not neglect the mind; we have nothing to say against the mind. But the mind will perhaps say to you, "He is a very good man." Then, before I leave the radio station, your mind will say, "No. He is very bad." Then again, before I enter into the car, your mind will say, "How do I know whether he is a good man or a bad man?"

I will be here for another half an hour or so and you will be observing me. If you feel that I am a good man, then I will remain a good man for you. And if you feel that I am a bad man, then the moment I go you will still feel that I am a bad man. This feeling you get on the strength of your identification with something within me and my identification with something within you. When you use the heart, you become confident in the heart's assessment. If you feel that I am bad, then you are confident that I am really bad. If you feel that I am good, then you are certain that I am really good. When you use the heart, you don't all the time contradict yourself. With contradiction you only weaken yourself; and once you are really weak, then what are you going to do? If you want to achieve or create something on earth, you have to be strong — physically, vitally, mentally, in every way. When you do something which weakens yourself, you destroy yourself. So always try to use the heart.

Interviewer: Suppose your heart judges that I am a bad fellow from my vibrations, and suppose you are wrong?

Sri Chinmoy: If I remain inside my heart, then I will feel the presence of the soul. In ten days or fifteen days or a month or two, the soul will tell me, "You made a wrong judgement." Then the soul will come and guide the heart and I will try to establish a friendship with you. I am not talking about ordinary people, but those who follow the spiritual life. They are definitely in touch with the soul. They pray and meditate and they are constantly knocking at the Father's door. "Father, guide me. Illumine, illumine me." This is their prayer. So, if this is their prayer, then naturally the Eternal Father will guide and illumine them.

Again, we have to know that in the spiritual life, the heart does not play the role of a judge. Only in the ordinary life, for those who use the mind, we see that the mind is the judge. The human mind accepts and rejects. In the spiritual life the heart does not accept, the heart does not reject. What happens is that the heart identifies. My heart will identify with your heart and see whether it can perfectly fit in with your heart. But it won't make a judgement. It will only identify itself and see if it has found a safe and welcome place, whereas the mind will all the time judge.

Interviewer: A lot of the people who kill and torture others in the name of Truth have successfully avoided the contradictions of mind. On the other hand, sometimes my mental hesitations enable me to be kind.

Sri Chinmoy: You are perfectly right. But I have to say that it is not the heart that is inspiring them or instigating them to kill millions of people. Unfortunately, we have another member in our family, which is called the vital. We call it the aggressive vital or the impure, unlit vital. The vital and the heart are very close to each other. They are like two rooms. One is unlit, obscure, dark, and the other is fully illumined. When we enter into the dark room, we are under the impression that it is the room of the heart. But the heart is all love and compassion; the heart is identification. If I identify my existence with your existence, then I won't want to kill you. My hands will not go and strike my eyes because they have established their identification with my eyes. And my eyes will not want to injure my hands. No, they have established their identification with my hands. They know that all the parts of the body have their respective roles to play.

Interviewer: Why is it that Westerners are leaving their own religion and going to Indian or Eastern spiritual Masters? What is wrong with the churches?

Sri Chinmoy: There is nothing wrong with the churches, but our human belief in religion is very peculiar. When we stick to religion, we feel that our own religion is by far the best. Always there is a kind of competition in the religious world. But by involving ourselves in competition, we don't make any progress. The real spiritual Masters have not come here to preach the Hindu religion. No, no. We have come here to share with you the message of Yoga. Yoga means union with God. Ours is not a religion. Ours is just a path. Now, you can have a path of your own and I can have a path of my own. I won't say that my road is the only correct road and that your road is all wrong. No, all the roads lead to Rome. We will never say that Christianity is bad or Judaism is bad or Islam is bad. Never, never, never! We will say that all religions are equally good, but we have to go beyond religion. A religion is like a house. You will remain in your house, I will remain in my house and someone else will remain in his house. But we will all go to the same school. So here, Yoga is the school where people get inner knowledge and inner wisdom.

Unfortunately, here in the West, we give too much importance to religion. When we give too much importance to religion, we are confined to our own room, to our own house. We do not want to look around and see what is happening. But Yoga means going deep within. When we go deep within, we see that the world around us is not as bad as we think and that it is not inferior to us. I have imperfections, you have imperfections, he has imperfections. The spiritual world accepts us with our imperfections and then it tries to perfect us. But each religion claims that it is already perfect. Hinduism will feel that Hinduism is perfect, Christianity will feel that Christianity is perfect and so on. If we are perfect, then we do not have to learn anything. But a seeker of the highest Truth feels that he has many things to learn, many things to discover. When he comes to religion and religion tells him, "I am perfect, others are all imperfect," then naturally he is hesitant to follow religion. He observes the priest or some other member of the church and he sees tremendous imperfections in that individual. So, when the religions claim that they are all perfect, naturally the seeker hesitates to follow them. But when we follow the spiritual path, first of all we confess that we are full of imperfections. We have so many things wrong in our life, but we are trying to perfect ourselves. We are running towards our goal and that is perfection. But we ourselves are not the goal. That is why people here find it difficult to go to church and follow their own religion. It is because their religion claims that it itself is the goal. But Yoga never claims that. Yoga says it is a road that will take you to the ultimate Goal.

Interviewer: Sri Chinmoy, I get the feeling that you are less ready to promise instant enlightenment than some other Gurus.

Sri Chinmoy: That is absolutely right. To be very frank with you and with your listeners, I don't have the capacity to give people instant realisation. I know that it has taken me many, many years to fully realise the Truth, and I know that it has also taken others quite a few years. It is not like instant coffee, which you can get in the twinkling of an eye. When we try to acquire outer knowledge, we start with kindergarten, primary school, high school and then we go to college and university. It takes us fifteen or twenty years to reach a certain standard and get our diploma. Spirituality is also a form of study. If it takes us twenty years to acquire outer knowledge, do you think that we can acquire inner knowledge in a day or two? Inner knowledge is infinitely more difficult to attain. To keep our mind at peace even for a minute is so difficult. All the time we are being attacked by undivine thoughts and ideas and we can't make any progress. So it is absurd to think that inner knowledge can be acquired overnight.

Interviewer: If the Indian teachers have some knowledge that is helpful to people, why is India such a mess with its caste system and poverty and disease? I am sure you have been asked this question often.

Sri Chinmoy: You are right. I have answered this question many times. I am an individual and I happen to have been born in India. It was not my decision; it was God's decision. God asked you to be born in America; He asked me to be born in India. When one prays to God, one comes to feel that one's home is not India or America, but God's entire creation. An ordinary person, an unaspiring person, feels that his family is the world — his father and mother and brothers and sisters. Then, after some time, he feels that his village is the world; then his town, his city, his province, his country. But a spiritual person feels that the whole world belongs to him. It is immaterial to him whether he happens to have been born in India or elsewhere. He is not confined to any particular place. Just because he feels that he is God's son, he feels that he lives wherever God lives. If my father is in the court, if my father is in the bank, then I am also there, inside his heart. So, since my eternal Father is omnipresent, I am also everywhere within Him.

As an individual I stayed in India and as an individual I have come here. Now you are asking, "Why don't you take care of your own house? Why are you bothering to work here?" But being a spiritual man, I will say that my house is not in India or America. My house is wherever God takes me. Tomorrow if He takes me to Europe, then there will be my house. Wherever God feels that I will be of some use to Him, He will bring me. And wherever you will be of some use to Him, He will bring you. So there is no India, no America.

For the suffering of India we can blame mankind, we can blame India. They are lethargic, they are not trying. But we have to know that by blaming India or some individual, we do not accomplish anything. True, there are many things wrong in India. But if you see something wrong in me and you point out all my failings, I tell you that I am not going to change my life. Unless and until somebody from within inspires me to do the right thing, I will not do it. So, if India has some problem, then naturally God will send somebody to take care of that problem. If God says that I am not the right person, then He will send somebody else.

Interviewer: Everybody talks about destroying the ego as if it were some terrible thing. But I spent my life creating one and in fact, many people who follow spiritual teachers are looking for self-confidence and a better ability to function. I wish you would explain it to me.

Sri Chinmoy: Let us try to be explicit in our understanding of what ego is. According to my inner experience, there are two types of ego: one ego is limitation, bondage and death. This is the ego that says 'I' and 'my'. When we speak of 'I' and 'my', we confine ourselves to the finite. The other ego is the divine ego. "I am God's son, so how can I stoop to such ignorance? God is all Light, all Perfection, and I am His son. It is beneath my dignity to surrender myself to ignorance." This kind of ego is very good.

The human ego binds us, but the divine ego only liberates us. The divine ego says, "You are free, you are eternal, you are infinite, just because you are one with the eternal Father, who is infinite, eternal and immortal.

Interviewer: So the first ego you define as a sort of small, selfish kind of thing.

Sri Chinmoy: That is absolutely right. It cares only for its own existence. The other one is the universal 'we', the universal heart. As I said before, the heart means identification, oneness. God is everywhere, so if I am God's son, then I can claim the entire universe as my very own. If I remain in my room and you remain in your room, then there is a sense of separativity. You have your life and I have my life. But if we feel our divine oneness, then there is no separativity. I claim you and you claim me. When we are aspiring, we feel the presence of God and we feel our universal oneness, our oneness with the Universal Consciousness. If we don't aspire, then we remain with our limited, selfish consciousness.

Interviewer: How does one get from the one kind of ego to the other?

Sri Chinmoy: A child's world, in the beginning, is his parents. Then gradually, gradually, his world becomes more vast. In the spiritual life also, we grow from the one to the many. From limited experiences we get very high, deep, vast experiences. Similarly, we can start with the human ego and gradually transcend it; then we enter into the divine ego. Or right from the beginning, if we pray and aspire, we can try to curb our human ego and remain in the divine ego.

Interviewer: Let's go directly to the phones. Hello, you are on the air.

Question: Is it possible to be spiritual and material at the same time?

Sri Chinmoy: In the beginning, partly we are spiritual and partly we are material. Then we get inner Peace, Light and Bliss and transform the material into the spiritual. But if we say that we have to become spiritual and neglect the material right from the beginning, that is impossible. The spiritual and the material go side by side in the beginning. At first the proportion may be, let us say, two per cent spiritual and ninety-eight per cent material. But there comes a time when the spiritual and the material are amalgamated, fused into one. At that time we see in the material world the real spirit, and matter is used for a divine purpose. Let us take, for example, a knife. With this knife I can stab someone and with this knife I can also cut a fruit and share it with others. If the spiritual enters into the material, if my spiritual life enters into my material consciousness, then my view of the material life changes. At that time the knife becomes a kind of help, an instrument for me to cut the fruit and share it with you.

Unless the spiritual light enters into the material world, the material world will remain blind. But if we have spiritual light in the material, then the material also becomes half spiritual. They are like two brothers. One brother is right now a little bit ignorant. But that doesn't mean that we shall have to throw aside that brother. If we bring light into the younger brother, then he will also be of great help in fulfilling our mission.

Question: One day while bowling, I felt my consciousness leave myself and become more intent on the ball and pins. And in spite of the fact that I hadn't bowled in a long time, I found myself bowling extremely well. Is that the kind of thing you are talking about when you talk about getting away from that smaller ego?

Sri Chinmoy: When you say that you were all absorbed in the ball and that you focused all your attention on it, I have to say that this is not a matter of ego. It is a matter of your own concentration. It is very good. If we don't pay attention to what we are doing, then how are we going to achieve perfection? The larger ego, the divine ego that I am speaking about, goes a little further. Here we work with utmost concentration, but also there is something else. We offer the result at the Feet of the Supreme with the same kind of cheerfulness, whether it comes in the form of failure or success. We play our game and then either we will lose or we will win. But if we can offer both success and failure with the same cheerful frame of mind, then the divine ego is playing its role most successfully. Here the loser and the winner are one, and we are offering the result to the universal Oneness. So whether we lose or win doesn't matter. We don't feel miserable if somebody else wins, because we feel our oneness with him. Here the divine ego is the feeling of oneness.

But first things first. When you are looking at the ball and focusing all your attention on it, you are doing absolutely the right thing. Then, after you have done the right thing, the result will come. This result you have to offer at the Feet of God. That is absolutely the right attitude, the divine attitude. Otherwise, if you don't concentrate on the ball, if you just look at your friends, then you are allowing sheer negligence to enter into your life. If you are negligent in anything, then you cannot achieve any success.

Question: Do you think that one needs a certain material basis before one can be spiritual?

Sri Chinmoy: It is necessary that a material basis exists here on earth. But if we do not use material wealth properly, then we will be going back to the animal kingdom. Here in the West, if we don't wear proper clothes, if we don't take showers, if we don't eat material food, earthly food, then how are we going to live on earth? So whatever material actions are beneficial to our existence we shall perform. The things that are not helpful we are going to transform, so that eventually they can also be an added help to our feeling of universal oneness.

Question: How is it that the people who practise religion don't see this and say to others, "Look, you can't run away from the problems of the world?"

Sri Chinmoy: We have been offering this message, but who is going to listen to us? The spiritual Masters are telling the Indians, "You don't have to enter into the Himalayan caves in order to realise the truth. You have to realise the truth amidst the hustle and bustle of life. Now come and enter the battlefield of life. Face the world. Be a hero." We have to conquer our limitations here in the battlefield of life, in the world and amidst its multifarious activities.

Question: I feel that the spiritual and the material must be divided fifty-fifty. When one goes too far toward the material things, or too far toward the spiritual things, he gets caught. Do you agree?

Sri Chinmoy: I agree with your wisdom to some extent. But it is not that we have to accept the material life fifty per cent and the spiritual life fifty per cent. It is not like that. We give full importance to the spiritual side and also to the material side. But we feel that the material life will be of real value to us only when the spiritual life enters into the material life and brings light into it. It is not that we will accept each one fifty per cent. One hundred per cent both of them we will accept on the basis of their oneness. At that time there will not be two sides, one spiritual and one material. No, only two brothers will come together. Right now one brother has a little more light than the other, so that brother will bring light into the other. Then they will become one and both of them will be one hundred per cent illumined.

Question: Is it possible to obtain spiritual realisation through some other process besides meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, through prayer you can also do it. In the Western world, people give more importance to prayer than to meditation. If you find it difficult to meditate, then you can pray. In the West it is very easy to pray, because right from the beginning people are taught to pray in church and at home. So if you pray most soulfully, then you are bound to realise God.

Question: Could I ask a question about your own personal experience? When you came to realisation, was it a sudden thing during meditation or what?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not a mental process. Unfortunately, I will not be able to explain it to you. It is a gradual revelation. Gradually, gradually, gradually it came to the point where everything became very clear to me. Gradually I came to the point where I saw or felt the truth that I had been searching for. When we take exercise regularly, we strengthen our muscles and become very, very strong. In the spiritual life also, slowly and steadily we win the race.

Question: I find it very hard to talk about spiritualism and materialism as distinct. There are many things that you might call material, that I will call spiritual. For example, eating is very often a spiritual experience. You can call it material, but I'll call it spiritual; and I think we may be both right.

Sri Chinmoy: Absolutely right. It is a question of how we approach the truth. If we know that we are eating just because inside us there is the soul or some divinity and we have to stay on earth to manifest this divinity and do something divine, that is one thing. But if we eat just out of greed, if we become voracious eaters just to satisfy our greed, then we are acting like an animal. The attitude that we have is of utmost importance. While we are doing something, if we feel that we are doing it so that we can become better, so that we can be of help to society, then it is a spiritual act. But again, if we are doing something just to show our own supremacy, just to show that we can do it and others cannot do it, then it is all wrong. So it depends on how we approach an object or subject or situation. It is the approach that is of paramount importance, not actually what we do.

Question: I feel that spirituality is essential for everyone and has to come first in our life. What are your thoughts on this?

Sri Chinmoy: I fully agree with you. But again, in some cases I have to disagree in the sense that it depends on the individual. One individual will say that he can easily stay on earth without smoking, whereas another individual will say that he can't stay on earth even for a day without smoking. Similarly, there are some people who will say that they can stay on earth without the spiritual life, without God. Again, there will be others who will say, "No, without God we can't stay even for one fleeting minute on earth." So it entirely depends on the individual.

In this world we have to know one thing: first things first. If I have to go to school, early in the morning I brush my teeth and take a shower, and only then do I go to school. I don't just run from my bed to my school. We have to know that we can't put the cart before the horse. Early in the morning, before we go to our office, we pray to God. We don't go to the office first and then pray and meditate after we come back home. No. We know that early in the morning if we pray to God and meditate on God, then we enter into the spiritual world, the inner world. Instead of enjoying jealousy or hatred towards mankind, if early in the morning we can pray and feel the universal love, then this love we can spread in our multifarious, day-to-day activities. But if in the morning we do not pray and meditate, then we may enter into the world of jealousy. We will see competition and all kinds of destruction around us and we will be spreading this destruction. So the inner world has to come first. From the inner world we enter into the outer world. The light of the inner world has to enter into the outer world. Only then the outer world will want to be like the inner world. If I have love, then I can give you love. And if I give you love, then this love you will be able to give to somebody else. But if I have hatred, then I will only give you hatred and immediately you will offer your hatred back to me.

Question: Do you see the West as active and the East as passive?

Sri Chinmoy: The West is quite active. I use the word 'dynamic'. It is very good. We have to be dynamic, for then only we can do something. But very often it happens that dynamism turns into aggression. Then, in India they are passive. In the name of eternal time, many people are leading a lethargic life; they are wallowing in the pleasures of idleness and will not budge an inch. That is very bad. Again, India has peace and poise; and if one has peace and poise, then one can grow into something sublime. If India really leads the life of inner silence and the West leads the life of inner dynamism, then they can be amalgamated and brought together. It is like the ocean. On the surface there are waves and surges. It is very dynamic. But at the bottom it is calm and quiet. It is the same sea that deep within is calm and quiet and on the surface is full of waves and surges. The sea has both these qualities: the dynamic quality and the passive quality. So here also, when the dynamic quality of the West and the passive quality of peace that India represents can be brought together, it will be a tremendous success for humanity. But instead of using dynamism, if America uses aggression, and if India, instead of using world peace, actually offers its lethargy and nothing else, then it is only self-deception on both sides.

Question: What about Christ, Buddha and Mohammed? How do they fit into your scheme?

Sri Chinmoy: In my philosophy, I feel that they are all branches of the same Tree: God the Almighty Father, God the Infinite, God the Eternal. This Tree has quite a few branches. One branch we call the Christ, other branches we call the Buddha, Sri Krishna, Mohammed and so forth. A tree needs branches otherwise, we don't appreciate the tree.

Interviewer: Let me ask you a question. If this tree has all those branches, and things still seem to be pretty terrible, maybe the branches were just weeds.

Sri Chinmoy: No, they are branches. The only thing is that we do not want to be under the branches. If we ordinary human beings had cared for their messages, if we had really followed the messages that Sri Krishna brought or the Christ brought, then we would have made tremendous progress. But even when they were here in the physical plane, how many people believed them?

Interviewer: So you figure it's people's own fault?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, it is our fault. Suppose you have some knowledge. It is up to me to come to you and say, "Please teach me." If I don't come to you for instruction, is it your fault? The great world teachers came to inspire us and still they are inspiring us from within. They came with Light in infinite measure, but humanity did not respond. Whose fault was it? And now again the same thing is happening: they are inspiring us from within, but most of the time we reject it. Only if we accept their Light can we also grow into divine Light.

Question: I would like to ask the spiritual leader if he believes that it is possible to have a perfect universe?

Sri Chinmoy: It is possible. It is not only possible; it is inevitable. It is only a matter of time. As we said before, God-realisation cannot be achieved overnight. Similarly, perfection cannot be achieved overnight. In order to achieve something, it takes quite a few years. Perfection we will have in the world just because God wants it. Without making us perfect, God will not be satisfied, because He wants us to be exactly like Him. He is perfect. So how will He be satisfied when He sees that His children are imperfect? He does not want us to all the time quarrel and fight and kill one another. No. His message is the message of perfection, the message of oneness. Just because He wants universal oneness and perfect Perfection from us, we are bound to achieve this. It is a matter of time in the process of evolution of consciousness.

Interviewer: Very interesting, the idea of a perfect universe. Are there many people these days whom you admire — religious leaders or political leaders, or anybody in the world who you think is on the path?

Sri Chinmoy: Believe me, I admire everyone because, according to my philosophy, everyone has something special, unique. God always wants to express Himself and reveal Himself in a unique fashion. When we look at a flower, we see that one petal is a little smaller, one is a little larger. When we see a beautiful building, at one particular place it has one shape and at another place it is totally different. But we admire the building because each place where we focus our attention gives us a feeling of inner joy, inner faith. Like a magnet, it pulls us or we pull it. God wants to fulfil Himself in a unique fashion in each individual. That is why I admire each individual, because God wants to do something in a specific way in each individual. Therefore, each individual really deserves my appreciation and admiration.

Interviewer: I'm very happy you came. Thank you very much.

Sri Chinmoy: I am so happy that you have given me the opportunity to be of service to thousands of people. Nothing gives me greater joy than to be of service to mankind, because that is the only thing that I can do. If I am employed to do the thing that I can do, then naturally I am most grateful.

Interviewer: Thank you, Sri Chinmoy.