Earth’s cry meets Heaven’s Smile, book 1

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Part I: Questions and answers

Editor's note

The following questions and answers were asked on August 20, 1966, New York City. 29 questions are part of “Yoga and the Spiritual Life” and are not reprinted here.

Question: When one sees through the light of the soul, does he see through hundreds of lifetimes?

Sri Chinmoy: When one sees through the light of the soul, one can see the future possibilities of one’s present incarnation, and at the most one or two future incarnations, not hundreds of lifetimes. This statement applies to past incarnations as well. These glimpses need not be in any chronological order. However, in the cases of great spiritual Masters like Krishna and Buddha, this principle is not applicable, for the remotest past and the farthest future, in exact chronological order, is at their command.

Question: When we see through the light of the soul, is it always with the feeling of joy?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. It is always with a feeling of inner joy and this joy may often be expressed by the shedding of tears. This shedding of tears is the outer expression of the soul’s delight and has nothing to do with human sorrow, grief or frustration. It is like a mother shedding tears when she sees her son returning home from abroad. Her tears are the expression of her inner joy.

Question: When the soul chooses a new body, does it have a blueprint laid out as to its mission, or does the soul's mission evolve during one's lifetime, depending on circumstances and environment?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul always comes down to earth with a certain mission. However, the earthly environment can help or hinder this mission. It also happens that the soul, at times willingly, makes an adjustment to its surroundings. Then it gradually tries to fulfil its mission with the full recognition and co-operation of the environment.

Question: Does the soul have many missions, or just one, in a lifetime?

Sri Chinmoy: There is only one mission, but there are many aims. One soul may wish to become a poet, an artist or an engineer in a lifetime. Each soul may aim at various creativities, but these are aims. They are not to be confused with the soul’s mission. The soul’s mission is always first and foremost: God-realisation; then comes the manifestation of God-realisation on earth. However, one’s aim may help him in his God-realisation or it may delay him, depending on the individual’s approach to Truth.

For example, if one is a writer, it is well and good. If he goes on writing without aspiration for God-realisation through his writings, he may one day become a very great writer, but he has not necessarily progressed in his self-discovery. On the other hand, if one writes to express the Divine in his writings, if one’s outer expression is the result of one’s inner aspiration, and if one has taken to writing as a self-dedicated service to the Supreme in humanity, then certainly the aspirant in the writer is leading him to the realisation of God. To come back to your question, from the standpoint of absolute Truth, there is only one mission and that is nothing but Self-realisation.

Question: Does the vital have a mission separate from the soul's or is it related to the soul's mission?

Sri Chinmoy: The vital and the body do not have a separate mission. But when they collaborate with the soul’s mission, it becomes theirs too. The vital hungers for name and fame, which are only aims. When the vital identifies itself with the soul and willingly accepts the soul’s mission, then the soul’s mission undoubtedly becomes the mission of the vital.

Question: How does one know if he is attending to his soul's mission or simply satisfying his vanity?

Sri Chinmoy: One can distinguish between the two only when one works without being motivated by desire and without being affected by the results of his actions. When one is in that state of consciousness, one can easily know whether one is attending to one’s soul’s mission or just satisfying one’s vanity. Work done in self-dedication leads the aspirant toward the fulfilment of his soul’s mission. Work done for self-gratification drives man toward the pleasures that end in self-annihilation.

Question: It is often said that the soul needs certain experiences even though they may seem adverse at the time. How are we to distinguish between the experiences the soul needs and our own desire to forge ahead through egoistic stubbornness?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul does not have any experience which is unnecessary. Whenever the soul has an experience, there is a divine purpose behind it. But on the physical plane, we often fail to see that divine purpose. We see it as a mere incident in our journey here on earth. There are many things which our physical mind cannot comprehend while our soul is having the experiences. It is also true that through our stubbornness, we impose some insignificant experiences on the soul. But what we call “adverse experiences” are not adverse to the soul because in the soul’s wide vision of light, these experiences are all possibilities to grow, to develop, to manifest a higher truth or to fulfil a greater mission on earth.

Question: In this age of Kali Yuga, are more people becoming aware of their soul's mission, or is this kind of awareness for future generations?

Sri Chinmoy: One cannot give a categorical answer to this question because what the golden future will look like is uncertain and obscure, with all kinds of possibilities and impossibilities intermingled. It is very easy to appreciate the past dawns. Living in this era, we cannot judge the aspiration of the past or the aspiration of the future. But we do know that since the world is evolving, human consciousness is awakening towards a brighter light. Since the world, from the spiritual point of view at least, is progressing, there is more than a mere possibility for a higher consciousness to dawn upon earth. The achievement of the past does not and cannot satisfy the present. The present demands something higher, deeper and more fulfilling. The role of the Kali Yuga will sooner or later be over. The Golden Days will unmistakably dawn.

To come back to your question, we all know that the present-day world is more aware of scientific discoveries than it is aware of the soul’s mission. The future generations will have both science and spirituality at their highest, not as two dire competitors, but as two complementary forces. Both science and spirituality will achieve the perfect perfection of matter and spirit. The gradual evolution of the earth-consciousness will grant the soul more opportunity to know why it has come and what it has to do in the great drama of the Supreme.

Question: Does our soul have contact with the mind of the so-called higher planets like Venus and Saturn?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, Saturn and Venus have no mind, either human or divine. Secondly, only the yogis can have free access to the planets Venus, Saturn, etc. Ordinary souls cannot have this capacity, but they can have a glimpse of these planets in their dreams, or in a very high state of meditation.

Question: There is always talk about this world destroying itself; then people become personally alarmed. Would the end of the physical world as we know it be a threat to the soul?

Sri Chinmoy: If the physical world is destroyed, it would not be a threat to the soul, for the soul can stay in the souls’ region. But if the soul wants to manifest the divine in all its aspects, then it must incarnate in a human body in the physical world.

Note

Further questions asked on August 20, 1966 at the second class of the summer series on yoga, held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. V. G., New York City.

Those questions are part of “Yoga and the Spiritual Life” and are not reprinted here.

Concluding question asked on August 20, 1966 at the second class of the summer series on yoga.

Question: I understand you to say that some spiritual figures in India claim that today you are here, tomorrow you are not here, that the world is an illusion. But aren't those so-called spiritual figures actually corrupting the pure teaching of Shankara on the question of Maya? Shankara never really disavowed the existence of this phenomenal world. Am I right in saying this?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, you are right. But the general conception of Maya has been misinterpreted in the East. Even now ninety-nine percent will say that Shankara advocated Maya, the doctrine that the world is an illusion.

What Shankara wanted to say, if I am correct, is: “The world is not an illusion, but we must not give importance to the transitory things. There is something eternal, perpetual, everlasting and we must try to live in the Eternal and not in the transitory.”

Now at present, or very recently, you can say, about eighty years ago, some of the modern Indian thinkers came to the conclusion, after throwing considerable light on Shankara’s philosophy, that he did not actually mean that — that the world is a colossal illusion.

“Neti, neti,” “Not this, not this,” the Upanishads cried and Shankara echoed. But what is that “this”? It is something that is finite, it is something that is binding us all the time. So people thought that if we leave the world, perhaps there would be a better world somewhere else. It is just like standing on one shore and thinking that the other shore is safe and full of joy and delight. But it is not true.

Each person has his own way of understanding the truth. You are at perfect liberty to understand it in your own way. How many people can go into the deeper meaning of the Truth? Some people think that the world is an illusion while others feel that it is not an illusion. It is deplorable that we do not or cannot see the world in its totality. We look at the truth with our finite consciousness, with our limited understanding. When we do that, we see that the world is nothing but an object of ignorance. We feel that we must enter another world, the world of Bliss and Perfection.

To come back to your question, Shankara’s very short earthly existence was surcharged with dynamic energy. He strode the length and breadth of India on foot, preaching his philosophy; he set up temples in key parts of the country. What he offered to the world at large was, in fact, dynamic Truth and not the so-called illusion which the world so forcefully associates with his teachings.

Part II: Sri Chinmoy's first television interview

Editor's note

On July 20, 1967, Sri Chinmoy appeared on television for the first time. He was interviewed on the Government Station, WIPR (Channel 6), in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The interviewer was Senor Hector Campos Parsi, a well-known musician and composer who has a weekly TV program in which he interviews persons prominent in the arts and sciences.

Interviewer: Master Chinmoy, I have just introduced you in Spanish and explained some of your works that I have read in Spanish. What is your mission now in Puerto Rico, and how long will you stay here?

Sri Chinmoy: My mission here in Puerto Rico is to help the sincere seekers in their inner life and help them realise their spiritual perfection. I shall be staying here until August 6th and then I shall leave for New York, where I have another Centre. We have two Centres, one here in Puerto Rico, the other in New York.

Interviewer: Master Chinmoy, is this the first time that you have been in Puerto Rico?

Sri Chinmoy: This is my fourth visit. I was here exactly a year ago, last July. That was my first visit. Then I came here twice after that. So this is my fourth visit.

Interviewer: How many people do you have working at your Centre in Puerto Rico?

Sri Chinmoy: We have here now fifty members, fifty sincere seekers, I must say. And there are many who are connected with the Centre but are unable to come to the meetings owing to family problems and so on.

Interviewer: Are your students well acquainted with philosophy? Are they students of different stages or are they all of the same level?

Sri Chinmoy: They attend the classes, they come to me to receive help and guidance in their self-realisation, but they are not of the same standard. Some of them are very well versed in both Eastern and Western philosophy, while others are not. All of them come to me and meditate with me, and ask me spiritual questions to solve their inner and outer problems. The students range from absolute beginners to the most advanced aspirants.

Interviewer: Well, it is a very broad problem in order to attain to realisation, is it not?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, it is a lifelong problem. To be accurate, a lifelong process. It depends on the individual. It may even take a few incarnations to achieve realisation.

Interviewer: Master, I understand that in order to reach the height you have now attained, it took you a very long time. I would like you very much to tell me how you felt the inner call, how you started preparing yourself for the spiritual life.

Sri Chinmoy: When I was very young, about a year and a half old, my parents took me to a spiritual place in South India… in Madras State. I was taken to that spiritual Ashram three times more in my early childhood. And when I was twelve years old, I became a permanent member, a spiritual seeker in that Ashram. I stayed there for twenty years, from the age of twelve to the age of thirty-two, practising the spiritual discipline and living the inner life.

Then the Divine within me, the Supreme, commanded me to come to the West. He said, “I want you to be my instrument. I want you to help my sincere, spiritual children in the West. This is your Mission. Go to the West. My spiritual children there are thirsting for the spiritual life. I am in you, with you and for you.”

Interviewer: Master Chinmoy, but… do you not think that the East is more prepared, more inclined to understand the spiritual life and practise it than the West?

Sri Chinmoy: According to my own understanding of the Truth, the West has also abundant possibility to realise God. As the East has ample opportunity, so also has the West. True, formerly the East was more inclined to the inner life and the spiritual life. But now those days are gone. Even in the West there are many sincere seekers who can stand on the same level as the most advanced aspirants in the East. God-realisation is not the sole monopoly of the East. God is Omnipresent. The West also has infinite divine qualities. For example, the West has dynamism and the West is extremely fortunate in giving importance to time. Time is a great factor in the spiritual life. The West knows the value of time, whereas in the East, in the name of Eternal Time, we have become very lazy. We wallow in the pleasure of idleness.

Interviewer: I just wondered, Master Chinmoy, if by creating the high materialistic form of life we have now, whether we have put too many barriers between ourselves and the Divine.

Sri Chinmoy: This is, to some extent, true, but at the same time, in the West, you have been aspiring for material perfection, which will help you hold the Divine most solidly. The Western soil is spiritually fertile. The West can easily and effectively express the Divine through the most advanced material development in the physical world. The East does not have that material development. The sense of material development is absolutely necessary for the East.

Here in the West, your material development need not stand as a barrier. On the contrary, it can be of great advantage. You have both dynamism and material development. Like the East, if the West is ready to accept and feel the Truth that the Divine is not only in Heaven, but here on earth, and if the West cultivates, develops and adds Eastern Silence to its matchless Dynamism and material development, then God’s all-transforming smile will dawn on the West.

Interviewer: Master Chinmoy, in Puerto Rico do you find great spiritual possibility?

Sri Chinmoy: I must say in all sincerity that there is a great possibility for the spiritual life here in Puerto Rico, and many people are practising it. Unfortunately some of them are doing this unconsciously. They are eating something but they do not know what they are actually eating. The Puerto Rican soil is extremely fertile. The seeker in Puerto Rico is spiritually genuine. Hence the spiritual fulfilment in Puerto Rico is inevitable.

Interviewer: And will it be your task and the task of your Centre to make them realise their spiritual Goal?

Sri Chinmoy: That is my sole aim. They are ready, they are fit, and they are able to enter into the inner life. Some of them are actually moving fast across the path of the spiritual life. To my sorrow, there are some who are not aware of their inner aspiration. So I wish to make them conscious of what they are truly doing.

Interviewer: Master Chinmoy, I am curious about the meaning of these three letters which you pronounce, “AUM.”

Sri Chinmoy: AUM is a Sanskrit syllable, or you can say, a complete word. We have, in India, the Trinity: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva — the Creator, Preserver and Transformer. A represents Brahma the Creator, U represents Vishnu the Preserver and M represents Shiva the Transformer. And this AUM is the breath of the Supreme. The Indian sages, seers and yogis of yore chanted this AUM and they got their souls’ illumination and liberation. Even now, most of the seekers in India chant AUM most devotedly. They will have their realisation by chanting AUM, the Power infinite.

Part III: Question and answers

Question: How can one reach God in one's lifetime? [January 15, 1968]

Let us change the word “reach” and instead let us use the word “realise.” When we use the term “reach,” we feel that we have to come to a certain place. Now you are sitting over there and if you want to reach me, you have to come to me by either walking or jumping or flying. But when we use the term “realise,” there is no separation. Where is God? God is deep within us. But God-realisation in one life, in one short span of time, by one’s own personal effort, is next to impossible. But along with one’s personal effort, if the aspirant has absolute aspiration, one-pointed dedication, if he has the blessings, grace and concern of a very great spiritual Master who represents God to his disciples, and if he has been assured by his spiritual Master on this point, then, in one life, he can realise God.

If one does not have a fully realised Master, a Guru, but if his aspiration is most intense, then God’s Grace showers on him and God Himself plays the part of the human teacher, that is to say, the spiritual Master. If God sees that the particular aspirant is absolutely sincere and he deserves self-realisation in this life, then, as I have said, God plays the part of a human Guru. Otherwise it is a spiritual Master who becomes a pilot and takes you across the ocean of ignorance to Light, Wisdom, Peace, Bliss and Plenitude.

You have got a Guru, Agni, so your problem is over, and your aspiration is most intense. I say it with the very depth of my heart that this Guru of yours will never fail you. You will always be in the inmost recesses of his heart. He will carry you, carry you to the Golden Shore of the Beyond.

Question: God could have made man perfect to begin with. What was His reason for putting us to all the trouble that we are going through to attain perfection? [October 1, 1967]

Good. God could have started His creation with perfection. But fortunately or unfortunately, that was not His intention. What God wanted was to go through ignorance to Knowledge, through limitation to Plenitude, through death to Immortality.

In the outer world, we see limitations, imperfections, doubts, fear and death. But in the inner world we see Light, Peace, Bliss and Perfection. When we live in God’s Consciousness, there is no imperfection. It is all Perfection.

God is a divine Player. He is playing His divine Game and He knows the Ultimate End. At each moment He is revealing Himself in us and through us, in spite of the very fact that we see, nay create, a vast gulf between ourselves and God. In addition to this, we feel that God is in Heaven and we are on earth. In the physical world, the miseries, troubles, frustrations and despair that we are going through are nothing but experiences on our way to the Ultimate Goal. Who is, after all, having all these experiences? It is God and God alone. And when we consciously identify ourselves with God’s Consciousness, we observe that there is no imperfection because God is perfect Perfection. But if we do not live in the Divine Consciousness, and if we feel that we are the doers, naturally we will be yoked to the imperfection of the outer world. What actually is happening is the self-revelation of God in His manifested creation. A seeker of the Supreme, living in the Supreme, being one with the Consciousness of the Supreme, sees and feels that his consciousness, his life, both inner and outer, are the projections of God’s ever-transcending Perfection growing into perfect Perfection.

Part IV: Questions and answers at the Puerto Rico Centre

Note

The following questions were asked on July 12, 1967 during a question period at the Puerto Rican Centre.

Question: Sometimes in my meditations, I come to think about the feeling of Eternity, you know. I come to feel that human beings have lived forever and will live forever. This feeling, instead of causing me pleasure and a good sensation, on the contrary causes me great anguish and pain. I feel then that I am all alone, that I am living a life of my own, different from everything. I feel that I have no world left, that by the power of my mind, I have destroyed the world and am alone by myself. This thought causes me a great deal of pain and I have wanted to mention this state of mind. I want to know if I am taking a wrong path.

When, in your meditation, you feel that you are lonely, alone, it is not actually the loneliness of the human being. At that time you get a glimpse of the Sole One. This One pervades all. We call it Brahman, the One without a second. When you feel that you are lonely, it is really the feeling of your unconscious oneness with that Absolute Oneness. But when the physical, the vital and the mental beings are not transformed to a considerable degree, they are afraid of this super-loneliness. It is not actually loneliness, as I have said, it is the sense of the oneness. You see the reality; you feel the One pervading everything.

Now, what is actually happening in your meditation is that at times your aspiration, before it reaches its Goal or before it finds its abode in the Goal, ceases. Your heart’s mounting flame rises upward, but there are a few stops and breaks. If there were a gradual and continuous flight and if it were uninterrupted, then you would not feel the loneliness at the lower levels of your consciousness. Please try to keep your aspiration uninterrupted at all times. The inner runner must complete his race divine.

The infinite Eternity and the Eternity that you are speaking of is in the motto of our Centres: “Man is Infinity’s Heart, Man is Eternity’s Breath, Man is Immortality’s Life.” The breath which Eternity possesses is man. Most of us have had countless lives and some of us will have countless more. In your case, it is the divine realisation or the spiritual realisation that you need. One can attain the achievements of twenty incarnations in one lifetime provided one takes to spirituality in all sincerity and dedication and listens to one’s spiritual guide most devotedly. Since you have the intense aspiration, you are accomplishing it successfully. That is why the spiritual Masters say, “Take to the spiritual life and enter into the divine. This divine is your own infinite Self. The sooner you start your journey, the better for you.”

When you live the spiritual life, you live in Eternity. This Eternity does not present itself as a problem, but as an inspiration, encouragement, aspiration and illumination. It is Eternity that is constantly carrying us into the immortal Self and that immortal Self is our real Self.

Question: I have been reading the minor Upanishads and I want to ask you something about them. If they are "minor," why are they so profound in the script and in the meaning?

I believe that we are living in a world of economy! If we say that the “minor” Upanishads are profound, then you will agree, I hope, with those that feel that the “major” Upanishads are more profound.

The thing is … in India, many great scholars accept sixteen or eighteen Upanishads as authentic and original. Some accept only twelve which they take as “major” and others accept only eight; the rest they consider “minor.” These people feel that not all but some of the Upanishads are momentous in their depths and in their embodiment of Truth. But you yourself will be the best judge. You kindly read the major ones first. According to me, the most significant ones are: Katha, Isha, Kena, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chandogya, Brihadaranyaka, Svetasvatara and Kaivalya.

I am sure, Gauri, that you know that there are only one hundred eight Upanishads! If you have the time, patience, inspiration and aspiration to study all the one hundred eight Upanishads, then it is simply wonderful. But do not come and tell me that some of the later Upanishads are not only insignificant, but a mere repetition of the former significant ones. To be frank with you, I have just studied sixteen. They have given me what I sought and at the same time, what they stand for: lofty aspiration and mystical revelations.

Question: Another question about the Upanishads: why was the King of Death, Yama, not there when Nachiketa arrived?

So you are carrying us into the lore of the Katha Upanishad! Wonderful. That was not the fault of the King of Death. If I come to your house without making a previous appointment or without your knowledge and do not find you at home, I can’t blame you, can I?

Nachiketa’s father, Vajasravasa, said, “Thee I give to Death.” But the King of Death did not say, “O Nachiketa, I am waiting for thee, for thee alone.” Yama was busy at that time with someone else.

Question: When the soul is going to reincarnate, is it forced to do so or does the soul have the privilege of making this decision?

When the soul leaves the body, it gradually goes back to its own region, after leaving the physical, vital and mental and psychic sheaths. Nobody can compel the soul to reincarnate, save the Supreme. The Supreme has the power to compel the soul, but He does not do it. The Supreme does not compel anybody to do anything. The soul has an inner urge to fulfil the Divine here on earth. Some souls want to take rest for a few years, say ten, twenty, forty or sixty years, while others who are not developed and are full of earthly desires and want to fulfil their countless unfulfilled desires, come back to the physical world sooner. To be sure, they are not going to fulfil anything spiritual here on earth. They just come back to the world of manifestation to fulfil their countless human desires.

The soul, as I have already said, is not compelled to reincarnate; but if a soul wants to descend, before doing so, it investigates the family, the environment, the circumstances and a few other things. Before actually entering into the family, the soul has to have an interview with the Supreme. Then the Supreme either approves of the soul’s decision or He may merely tolerate it. There is a great difference between approval and tolerance. I am sure you know this.

Then there are some souls who have had enough of earthly experiences, that is to say, sufferings and frustrations. These particular souls usually take the oath of Nirvana. They do not come down again. They remain in the Void. But there are aspiring souls who will not accept any defeat. They will come down to have the Divine Victory in spite of their repeated defeats. These souls will come and go until the Divine Victory has been fully established on earth. Truly you are one of these divine warriors.

Something more I wish to add. The soul is not compelled. The human father says to his son, “You are my son. You have to listen to me.” But the Supreme Father does not do that. It is only the ignorant human being who commands. The higher we go, the clearer this becomes to us. Normally the Supreme puts into our consciousness what he actually wants us to do in order to fulfil Himself in infinite ways in us and through us. Compulsion is only in this world, not in the higher worlds. Earlier I said something about the inner urge. It is the inner urge that compels the soul to reincarnate and not any outer force. My Father, the Infinite, is the most compassionate Being here on earth as well as in heaven. It is my bounden duty to fulfil Him here on earth, there in heaven. Finally I must realise that by fulfilling Him, I am fulfilling myself unmistakably, totally, divinely and supremely.

Question: I wish to ask something further, regarding the previous question. Religion has told us that we have come from the Spirit and we go back to the Spirit at the end of our present incarnation. Now if we go back to our Father, then what is the use of reincarnation, realisation and so forth?

There are many religions on earth that do believe in reincarnation. Reincarnation is an undeniable fact. Now let me explain to you briefly what we mean by reincarnation. You play a game, but you cannot play it forever. You cannot play it twenty-four hours at a stretch. You have to rest from time to time. Similarly in the process of evolution through a long series of reincarnations, we are trying to complete the game. This divine game that we are all playing is called the Lila. We cannot complete the game in its fulness during one span of life. Also we are not playing the game in a divine way. We have not reached the Goal. Our Goal is still a far cry. Now if you want to embody your Father’s infinite consciousness on earth, and want to reveal and manifest your Father, who, you feel, is in heaven, then you have to play His divine game of reincarnation. There is no other way. When we go to Him after each lifetime, it is only for a rest.

Part V: Interview on WHOA radio station

Editor's note

Sri Chinmoy was interviewed on radio station WHOA, San Juan, Puerto Rico, on December 10, 1967 by Mr. Jim Knight and Mr. George Riddell.

Interviewer: This morning we have Sri Chinmoy here in the studio. He will give us an example of a prayer chant in Sanskrit to start the program.

(Sri Chinmoy sings a Shloka from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.)

Interviewer: Ladies and gentlemen, you have been listening to Sri Chinmoy Ghose chanting a prayer, which, to those of us in the Western world, was quite foreign. We are going to get into that and find out what that was about, and we have many questions to ask Sri Chinmoy this morning.

Interviewer: With us in our studio we have Miss Dorothy Eisaman, Mr. and Mrs. Jose L. Casanova, Miss Carmen Suro, Mr. Ramon Torres Pena, Mr. Ed Belville, and acting with me this morning in the process of asking the questions, is Mr. George Riddell.

Mr. George Riddell: One of the first questions that comes to us: there is evidently a very sacred note in that chant and I was wondering if you might interpret it for us in English, to know what it was about.

Sri Chinmoy: Thank you. This chant is one of the most famous chants in India. From time immemorial, this chant has been sung, chanted by the seekers of Truth. The seers, the sages of the Upanishads sang this chant. The significance, the meaning of this prayer is:

Lead me from the untruth to the Truth.
Lead me from darkness to Light.
Lead me from death to Immortality.

The firmament of India still resounds with this soul-stirring chant of the Vedic and the Upanishadic seers of India.

Mr. George Riddell: Typical themes like that seem to run through all religious hymns and chants, and now that you mention “Vedic,” I wonder if Yoga itself is a part of another religion of India or is it a religion in itself?

Sri Chinmoy: Yoga is no religion. Yoga transcends all varieties of religion. It is something infinitely deeper than the so-called “religions.” Yoga is the Living Breath that makes us feel that God is within us, of us and for us. Yoga is the direct communion with God. It is our union with God that Yoga teaches us. And at the same time, it is the language of our inner and spiritual life. Right now, I am speaking in English in order to convey my feelings, thoughts and ideas. Similarly, if I want to speak to God, commune with God, then the language that is required is called Yoga.

Mr. George Riddell: Do you meditate or do you pray? In Yoga, how do you communicate with God?

Sri Chinmoy: In Yoga we pray, we concentrate and we meditate. When we pray, we get an inner feeling of going upwards, that is to say, with our hearts we feel that we are crying for something from Above. When we concentrate, we focus all our intense attention on something, it may be an object or it may be a person, in order to identify ourselves with it. And when we meditate, we enter into the deeper regions, deeper planes of consciousness.

By prayer, we enter into the Kingdom of God, by concentration we can also enter into the Kingdom of God and also, of course, by meditation. These three ways, prayer, concentration and meditation, are the most effective ways to commune with God.

Mr. George Riddell: Some of the other members here may have some questions that they wish to ask, and I think we should start with the ladies first. Miss Carmen Suro may have a question.

Miss Suro: Yes, I would like to ask the Master what is the difference between experience and realisation in the spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: The difference between experience and realisation in the spiritual life is this: a realised person can say, “I and my Father are one; I and God are one”; whereas an aspirant having many spiritual experiences, or even one, can say and feel that he is slowly but inevitably growing into the realisation of God.

Experience shows and tells us what we will eventually become, the possessor of God-Consciousness. But in realisation, we come to know what we truly are: absolute oneness with God forever and through Eternity. This is the difference between experience and realisation.

Mr. Jim Knight: One question has interested me. Everybody in all religions tries to relate himself to God, and I wonder, Sri Chinmoy, if you could give us a short explanation of what Yoga says of God. What is God and what is the relationship between God and man?

Sri Chinmoy: God and man … this is the eternal question and the eternal answer. God is the living Breath and that living Breath is in man. Man has a goal and the name of that goal is God. In God is man’s satisfaction, achievement and fulfilment. Through man is God’s Satisfaction, Achievement and Fulfilment. Man needs God to realise his true Self. God needs man to manifest Himself on earth.

Mr. Jim Knight: Are you saying that God and man are one and the same?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. God and man are one and the same. God is man yet to be fulfilled in His Infinity and man is God but he has yet to realise it.

I have to grow and God has to flow. I grow as a human being into His highest Consciousness and God flows into me and through me with His Infinite Compassion.

Mr. George Riddell: Now, according to Yoga, when your physical being ceases to exist or when you do what we call "die," what happens to your spiritual self?

Sri Chinmoy: When we die, our physical body, the physical sheath enters into the physical world and is disintegrated by burial or cremation. The vital sheath enters into the vital world. The mind enters into the mental world. Then slowly the soul goes back to its own region. There, usually, it stays for a few years … it depends on the individual soul … according to its necessity and according to its preparation. Now after taking rest for some time, the soul feels that the time is ripe for it to enter into the world once again to fulfil its divine mission. God-realisation takes a good many incarnations.

Before the soul enters into creation, it tries to observe the environment, the situation and the family from above; which family it is going to accept. Then the soul goes to the Supreme for approval. Sometimes it gets this approval; sometimes the soul comes into creation merely with the knowledge of the Supreme. Again it starts its journey, it tries to unveil the inner Divinity and at the same time, it tries to manifest the Divine in the field of creation. So this is how the process of reincarnation continues.

We believe in reincarnation. We know that we have millions of desires to be fulfilled. At the age of four I had many desires; at the ages of ten, twenty, thirty, forty, sixty, these desires are not yet fulfilled. Neither we nor God will be satisfied unless we are fulfilled. First we get our fulfilment in satisfying our desires in the ordinary human life. Then we have our fulfilment in achieving our higher aspiration. Right now, we want money, name, fame and all this. Later we try to achieve Light, Peace and Bliss with our spiritual aspiration. In one incarnation, in one short span of life, we cannot do all that. We need many incarnations. That is why, according to our Indian philosophy, reincarnation is a positive fact and a positive truth.

Mr. George Riddell: Speaking of reincarnation, this brings to mind the idea of the wheel of karma. Now on the wheel of karma, a person or a soul is reincarnated in human form or can he be reincarnated in other forms?

Sri Chinmoy: Let me say as a preface to my answer that a soul is in this table, a soul is in the chair, a soul is in the plant, a soul is in everything. A soul, of course, is in all human beings. It is all a matter of the degree of manifestation. The Christ had a soul, I have a soul, we all have a soul. In the case of the Christ, He had the Supreme’s all-pervading Consciousness. In the ordinary person’s case, his degree of manifestation is not anywhere near that. Similarly, the soul that is in this table, this chair, is nowhere near our soul in degree of manifestation.

But, in answer to your question, once the soul has come into human incarnation, once it has accepted human life, it does not, as a rule, accept animal life. Once upon a time, we were all in the animal kingdom, but as a general rule, the soul does not enter into animal incarnation from the human state. But very rarely it happens that people are still in the animal consciousness although they have a human body. They are in the animal kingdom with their passions and lust, their lowest vital desires. In such cases the Supreme allows the particular human being, the human soul, to enter into a particular animal to enjoy itself, to work out and throw away all these lowest vital movements. There the soul remains, say for six or eight months or a year. But it does not mean that the soul has to remain perpetually in the animal kingdom. No. And only in very rare cases does the soul go into the animal world. We have got a human body and from here we grow; from man we grow into the superman.

Miss Dorothy Eisaman: Master, am I correct in saying that we who are believers in God must grow in Grace daily?

Sri Chinmoy: You are absolutely correct in saying that the believers of God must grow in God’s Grace daily. A true believer of God feels that his very existence on earth, his inner and outer achievements and fulfilments are entirely due to God’s Grace; also he is truly fortunate to see that his so-called personal efforts, too, are an act of God’s Grace. At every moment he feels that without God’s Grace he is nothing and with God’s Grace, he is everything.

Mr. George Riddell: Listen, that last one is definitely in line with much of Christian preaching and I find that what you say is very similar to the pronouncements of the Christian churches. I am not familiar with the Moslem or the Hebrew religion, but it seems to go through all religion and probably through the Hindu religion in India and various other religions throughout the East.

Now, this Grace, I was wondering if, according to Yoga, will this Grace be flowing from God all the time, or would this Grace flow directly to a particular man from God, or does it flow through other mediums between God and man? When a man feels that he is receiving Grace, does he know that he gets it directly from God, or does he get it through these other mediums? I think I have made myself clear.

Sri Chinmoy: If the aspirant is of a very high calibre, he can get this Grace directly from God. Otherwise, the beginner needs a helper, a teacher or a guide in order to bring down God’s Grace into him. The Grace of God is all the time descending in a constant shower, but the beginner is not conscious of this fact. And ordinary human beings are totally ignorant of the fact that there is such a thing as Grace. They think, “As you sow, so you reap.” This is true to some extent, but there is also God’s Grace which can expedite our life’s journey and at the same time negate, nullify our wrong actions.

So to come back to the question, it depends on the individual, where he stands. But again, we have to know that God’s Grace is something which we badly need in our day-to-day life, in our outer life as well as in our inner life. God’s Grace is our real meal, the energising, fulfilling meal. The Bible has taught us that man does not live by bread alone, and we, the seekers of Truth, add to it that man can live and does live by God’s Grace alone.

Mr. George Riddell: Does anyone else have a question? Mr. Casanova!

Mr. Jose L. Casanova: It seems that modern man has made quite a mess of the world with constant wars, riots, rebellions, strikes, delinquency, etc. And ordinary corrective methods seem to be a total failure. Do you think, Master Chinmoy, that this is a natural order of things or is there any way for modern man to live in peace and have universal love and order?

Sri Chinmoy: You are right. We have made a mess of the world. Now, from the spiritual standpoint, this is not the natural order of things. Far from it. The most natural order in our human existence would be the life of peace, with universal love obeying faithfully a universal law. Now your question is, “How can man do that?” Man can do that by thinking God’s thoughts and by living God’s Truth. Impossible it might seem today, but tomorrow it will be not only possible, but inevitable. United, let us raise our consciousness into that Golden Tomorrow.

Mr. George Riddell: In Yoga, do you have a Scripture, as we have the Bible?

Sri Chinmoy: We have many scriptures in India. Among these are the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Gita. Just as your Bible is a collection of writings and not one particular piece of writing, so are our scriptures a collection of religious and spiritual books. The most loved and revered scripture of India is a book that I have mentioned, the Bhagavad Gita. This book, by the way, is often called the Bible of India.

Mr. George Riddell: The Gita is also used in Islam?

Sri Chinmoy: They have their Koran. The Koran is the sacred book of the Moslems as we have the Gita and you have the Bible.

Mr. Jim Knight: One of the great, perhaps the greatest Indian political leader of all time was the Mahatma Gandhi. How did he relate to Yoga?

Sri Chinmoy: Mahatma Gandhi … what was his position?

Mr. Jim Knight: What was his position in relation to Yoga?

Sri Chinmoy: “Mahatma” means “Great Soul” and so he was. But from the strictly spiritual point of view, Mahatma Gandhi was not a yogi. He was a patriot, political leader, martyr. But he was not a self-realised soul like Ramakrishna, the Buddha and others. You can say he was a religious saint. Self-realisation he did not have, but he had boundless love for humanity and his interpretation of God is unique. He said, “Truth is God. Denial of God we have known. Denial of Truth we have not known.” For him, religion was nothing but Truth. He lived the life of a saint. God gave him boundless love and compassion. This was Mahatma Gandhi. But when the question of self-realisation, self-discovery comes in, he cannot be placed on the same footing as the Christ, Ramakrishna, Buddha and so on.

Mr. Ed Belville: Sri Chinmoy, the question in my mind is: why do we need a teacher or guru? Or is it important to have a teacher to follow the spiritual path?

Sri Chinmoy: In this world we cannot do anything without the help of a teacher. The teacher may be necessary for a second or for a year or for many years. If I want to learn music, at the beginning I have to go to a musician. If I want to learn how to dance, I have to go to a dancer. If I want to learn about the sciences, I have to go to a scientist. In order to learn anything in this world, we need a teacher at the beginning. Then how is it that we do not need a teacher to help us in our inner, spiritual life?

A soul enters into a human frame, a human body and then the human being grows and completes his first year of existence, his second year, third year and so on. What has the mother done during these years? The mother or the parents? They have taught him how to speak, how to eat, how to dress, how to behave. He learns everything from his parents. Without their guidance, he would grow up a human animal, an abnormal being. The parents played their part in the formative years of the child.

Similarly, in the spiritual life the necessity of a teacher is inevitable because the spiritual teacher has to teach the student how to pray, how to meditate, how to concentrate. Then, when the student learns and he goes deep within, he can do all this by himself.

Right now I am here in Puerto Rico. I know that New York exists and that I have to go back to New York. What do I need to get me there? An airplane and a pilot. So in spite of the fact that I know that New York exists, I cannot get there alone. I need help. Similarly, we all know that God exists. You want to reach God, but someone has to help you, carry you. As the plane takes me, carries me to New York, someone has to carry you to the Consciousness of God which is deep within you. Someone has to show the path in order to enable you to enter into your own divinity, which is God. So this is the answer — that at the beginning, we need a teacher.

Mr. Ramon Torres Pena: Master Chinmoy, what do you mean by "concentration"?

Sri Chinmoy: Concentration is the open secret of focussing all one’s attention on a particular object or person in order to enter into and have one’s identification with that object or person. The final stage of concentration is to discover and reveal the hidden ultimate truth in the object of concentration. What concentration can do in our day-to-day life is unimaginable. It most easily separates our heart’s Heaven from our mind’s Hell so that we can live in the constant delight and joy of Heaven and not in the perpetual worries, anxieties and tortures of Hell while we are here on earth.

Mr. Jim Knight: I have another question deviating just a little bit from what we have been talking about. Most of us in the Western world who are ignorant of Yoga have a tendency to think of a Yogi as someone, let us say, sitting with his legs crossed, or someone standing on his head, someone doing particular exercises or things that seem strange to us. How or why does a Yogi perform these feats? How does it relate to his religion?

Sri Chinmoy: Some people take these exercises to keep the body fit, free from physical ailments and so forth; while others take them in order to get realisation. But realisation can never be had by merely doing Hatha Yoga exercises. What these exercises actually do is to help the seeker enter into the true spiritual life.

In the beginning a child, when he reads, he reads aloud in order to convince his parents that he is reading. But a grown-up person does not do that. He reads silently. Now in the physical world, there is a similarity. Right now most of us are physically very restless, no better than monkeys. We cannot stay more than a second without getting restless. But there are aspirants who can just sit down and make their minds calm and quiet and then they enter into the deeper regions of the being. It is these physical exercises and postures, when we do them, which relax our body and give us peace of mind for a short period of time.

But these exercises will never give us realisation … never! These are the preliminary stages. We say in our true spiritual system that the beginners in Hatha Yoga are like kindergarten students. And one can easily skip kindergarten. But we have to go from kindergarten to elementary school, high school, college and then to university. Concentration, meditation and contemplation are taught in the higher courses. Otherwise just by taking physical exercises and making the body strong, the athletes, the boxers, the wrestlers would all have realised God by this time. All the sportsmen would be God-realised souls!

I must emphasise the fact that Hatha Yoga exercises are far superior to the Western system of exercises which are often done abruptly, vigorously and, to some extent, violently. The Hatha Yoga exercises are done calmly, quietly, in a meditative mood. They strengthen the nerves and calm the mind, unlike most of the Western exercises.

The body is necessary. We must have a sound and solid body so that the soul can act in and through the body in the field of manifestation. But if we expect something more from the body, then we are being foolish.

Mr. George Riddell: Are you a vegetarian?

Sri Chinmoy: I am a strict vegetarian. Sorry, I take eggs, so I cannot say that I am a strict vegetarian. But I take no meat or fish. I stopped eating meat and fish when I was twelve years old, the age that I entered seriously into the spiritual life.

Mr. George Riddell: Are you married?

Sri Chinmoy: No, I am not married.

Mr. George Riddell: Do you practise celibacy?

Sri Chinmoy: Of course. Without celibacy, there can be no true spiritual life, not to speak of God-realisation.

Mr. George Riddell: We have one question from our radio audience. Someone has called in with a question. Her question is: "What do you think of the communication between the living and the dead? Do you think there is a communication?"

Sri Chinmoy: There is a way to communicate with the dead. As a matter of fact, there are various ways. If one has occult powers or spiritual powers, one can easily communicate with anybody living or departed. What we call “death” is not the extinction of consciousness. It is only a transition. Today I am here; tomorrow I will be in New York. Similarly, now I am here on this earth; after some years, I will be somewhere else in one of the other worlds. On the strength of our self-realisation, we can enter into the soul of a person who is either here or elsewhere; either in Heaven or in hell.

On earth we can make either a short distance call or a long-distance call to any part of the world. The telephone is the medium. Similarly, our conscious oneness with God or, we can say, our self-realisation, enables us to commune with anybody, whether here on earth or there in heaven.

Mr. George Riddell: In your answer you have mentioned something that has disturbed my mind. You said something about “Heaven and hell.” How does Yoga relate to Heaven and hell?

Sri Chinmoy: Heaven and hell are two planes of consciousness. With our human mind we feel that Heaven is elsewhere and that it is full of joy; whereas hell, we feel, is full of torture. This is not the case. Heaven and hell are two planes of consciousness into which we daily enter. When we do good things, we are in joy, we are in Heaven. When we do wrong things, we are in hell. Each moment we are experiencing Heaven and hell. Heaven is right here, deep inside us. It is up to us whether to live in our inner Heaven or in our outer hell.

Mrs Sarah Casanova: Some persons are disturbed by the problems surrounding them. They think they can find escape in suicide. Do you think this is a door that we can open at our sweet will to escape from responsibility and suffering?

Sri Chinmoy: I have been hearing for the past few years, from many people, about this idea of committing suicide. Suicide is by no means an escape. There is no escape; there can be no escape. We can escape from this room, but we will be caught in another room. We think that we can escape from this world by killing ourselves.

Unfortunately, this is not the only world. There are other worlds as well. In this world I can take my life, but in another world I will have to continue my existence. Nay, I will be caught. God’s Consciousness is All-pervading and He will be able to catch me, the thief.

To come back to your question, suicide can never be an escape. Why do people commit suicide? They commit suicide because they feel that they are miserable, frustrated; others do not understand them. They feel that by committing suicide, they will be freed from countless responsibilities, inner turmoil and pain. Or they feel that as they have committed many wrong actions, they will be mercilessly punished, and they prefer to take their life first. So they need an escape. Now who escapes? Not a divine hero. A hero fights; a thief escapes. A coward escapes. But not he who is on the right path. If I am on the right path, I will not try to escape. He who wants to commit suicide is a coward. He does not face the world.

First of all you have to face the world, live in the world in order to establish your divine qualities on earth. We have to accept. If we do not accept the world, what are we going to face? When we face the world, if there is anything wrong with the world, we can rectify it. So those who are committing suicide are committing the worst possible mistake. To be sure, there is no escape for them either in this world or in any other world. They are not only killing themselves, but are also killing the fruitful possibilities of their future incarnations.

Mr. George Riddell: There are many people in the United States who claim that with the use of certain drugs they are able to get closer to God. Of course the Chinese have been using opium for centuries and centuries. How do you feel about using stimulants, drugs, etc., to stimulate the mind in order to get closer to God?

Sri Chinmoy: Let me start out by saying that there are two ways of approaching the Truth. One way is that by meditation and prayer, we know the real Truth, we feel the real ecstasy, we see the real Light, we experience Existence, Consciousness, Bliss. These last three go together and we can come into that state only through meditation and oneness with God. But those who are taking drugs are putting the cart before the horse. They are deceiving themselves into thinking that they already know the Truth. At the same time, they are not aware of the fact that by taking drugs, they are damaging their inner, spiritual faculties which are of paramount importance in order to enter into God’s kingdom. Let me make it clear to you.

If you throw me into a sea and plunge me, immerse me forcibly in the water, not allowing me to come to the surface, then what shall I see? All blank, all white. And that is what actually happens to those who have taken to drugs. Through the effect of chemicals, a violent change of consciousness is effected. They get an experience … all white! Even if it is a higher experience, they cannot sustain it unless they take another dose of chemicals. But when I pray, when I concentrate, when I meditate, I enter into the Living Consciousness of God and I can learn to remain there. This is the positive and natural way of entering into God. God is natural and I am His son, you are His son; we have to follow the natural process. But by taking to drugs and using these artificial means, people are unconsciously, if not deliberately, negating the real Truth.

I have two or three students who used to take drugs. They have had first-hand “experiences.” They tell me now that when they were taking drugs, it was nothing but self-delusion and self-annihilation. Now what they experience is self-acceptance and self-fulfilment. So this is the difference that they have now discovered. Needless to say that I am proud of their present spiritual achievements.

To come back to your question, no man can come closer to God by taking drugs or stimulants. He can come closer to God only by loving God and meditating on God.

Mr. George Riddell: We are just about coming to the end of our time now. We have time for one more question.

Mr. Ed Belville: I would like to ask one more question before we sign off. Can a Westerner become a real Yogi?

Sri Chinmoy: Your name is Mr. Ed Belville. We are greatly honoured to be here at this Radio Station WHOA, where you have brought us, Mr. Belville, and made all the arrangements. At this hour you are asking me this particular question. I wish you to remember this question some day either in this incarnation or in your immediate future incarnations.

You are a Westerner; you are an aspirant, a sincere aspirant. You are bound to realise God; you are bound to become a Yogi in one of your forthcoming incarnations. Then you will see whether a Westerner can become a Yogi or not. A yogi is he who is in union with God’s Consciousness. Yoga is not the sole monopoly of India and a Yogi is not the sole product of India. I am God’s son, you are God’s son. We have the equal right, the equal privilege to go to our Father, to enter into our Father’s Consciousness. Many Western spiritual masters have entered into God’s Consciousness and received what the Indian Yogis have received. You too, can do it. For God-realisation, geographical boundaries do not exist. God’s Consciousness pervades the length and breadth of the world and beyond. So, being a Westerner, a human being, you are caught by God’s all-pervading Embrace. You cannot escape; you also have to have self-realisation. Then only will God leave you.

Westerner, Easterner, Northerner or Southerner, all must needs have this union with God; all can and all must become a Yogi or a Yogini. It is a matter of time, either today or tomorrow. God will not allow anyone to remain unrealised or unfulfilled.

Mr. George Riddell: Well, that is all the time we have now. We thank you very much, Sri Chinmoy Ghose, for the privilege of having you here and for accepting our invitation to come here and explain Yoga.

Part VI: Questions asked at the University of Puerto Rico

Editor's note

The following questions were asked at the University of Puerto Rico on August 26, 1968.

Question: Please explain what will be the first step for an ordinary person who has not been in contact with spiritual teachings and wants to enter into the path of self-realisation.

Sri Chinmoy: The important thing is the ultimate Goal. If a person wants to have self-realisation, then the first step, the very first step, should be the acceptance of the spiritual life. Without accepting the spiritual life, one cannot realise God. It is simply impossible. The spiritual life, of course, is a very vast field — one has to know where one actually stands right now. If, as the first step in the spiritual life, one wants to have a better life, a more harmonious life, a more peaceful life, and if he feels that the Peace, Joy and Harmony that he seeks are still beyond his reach, then he has to start by reading from a few scriptures; he should get some illumination from religious and spiritual books. These books will inspire him to some extent to enter into the inner life. Then when the person has studied the books and is getting some inspiration, but is unable to go farther, at that time he has to put into practice what he has studied in the books. When he is practising these new principles, if he is not satisfied with his achievements, then he has to search for a teacher, a spiritual teacher. It is the teacher who can help him in his spiritual life, who can tell him what kind of spiritual discipline is needed for him.

I must emphasise again that at the very outset he has to determine that he needs the spiritual life. There is no other life that can give him self-illumination. When he is sure that it is the spiritual life that can give him that, then he has to enter into his deeper part. Through his inner cry, through prayer, through aspiration, through concentration and meditation, he has to start on the very first lap of his divine journey.

Question: The body is mortal while the soul is eternal. What is the importance of having a body?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul is eternal and the body is perishable, true. But we have to know the supreme importance of three things: first, the embodiment of Truth, second, the revelation of Truth, third, the manifestation of Truth. It is on earth and through the physical body that the soul can manifest its own Divinity which is the infinite Peace, infinite Light, infinite Bliss. It is here on earth that the soul can manifest this. This earth is the field of manifestation and at the same time, this earth is the field of realisation. God-realisation can be achieved only here on earth and not in other spheres, not in other planets, not in other worlds. So those who care for God-realisation have to come into the world; and the soul has to accept the body because the body is absolutely necessary here on earth for the manifestation of the soul’s Divinity.

On the one hand, when the soul leaves the body, the body cannot function; the body dies. On the other hand, when the soul wants to manifest, it has to be done in the body, with the body. So we have to know what we actually want. If we want to negate the body, destroy the body, what can the soul do? It has to leave the body. But if we want to achieve something here on earth and if we feel the necessity of establishing the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth, then it has to be done with the conscious help of the body. The body is the instrument of the soul. In the Katha Upanishad it says: “The soul is the master, the body is the chariot, the reason or intellect is the charioteer and the mind, the reins.” The body needs the soul, the soul needs the body. For the realisation of the highest and deepest Truth, the body needs the soul; for the manifestation of the highest and deepest Truth, the soul needs the body.

Question: What results would we have in our society if a large number of persons in the society accepted Yoga?

Sri Chinmoy: If a large number of people accepted Yoga, then the face of society would be completely changed. Society would not suffer. On the contrary, society would undergo a radical change for the better. Why? Because Yoga can tell society what the actual Truth is in man’s day-to-day life. Yoga can show us how Truth can be seen, felt and realised. Yoga can teach society what true love is, what true human relationships and feelings should be. If society is ruled by ordinary human minds, by emotional feelings and so forth, society can never achieve perfection. But if society, at least a larger number in society, can feel the need for God who is All-Love, who is All-Perfection, who is All-Compassion, then only will society discover its true meaning. Society will gain abundant truth from the very acceptance of Yoga.

Yoga is not something unnatural; it is something absolutely natural, it is something practical, it is more practical than the ordinary human life can conceive. It wants to prove in a practical way that God is not only in Heaven, but here on earth. So the greater the number in society to accept the spiritual life, the inner life, the quicker, the easier will be the transformation of the life of society.

Question: What happens if a person wants to enter the spiritual life but has to adjust himself to the material life?

Sri Chinmoy: As I said before, Yoga and life must go together. We have to go deep within to discover the spiritual life, but without negating the material life. From inside we have to come outside; we cannot go inside while holding on to the values of the outer life. We need the inner life and in the inner life is to be found infinite Joy, Peace and Bliss. From the inner life, we bring to the fore our inner, divine qualities. The material life can then be easily adjusted. The material life, in fact, has its true significance only when it is supported by the inner life. Now at present what is actually happening is that we are trying to separate the material life from the spiritual life. Actually there is no such division, but unfortunately people think that either one has to accept the material life and wallow in its pleasures or else one has to be a complete ascetic; that there can be no compromise. This is not true. Life has to be accepted — the material life — but not in a sense of total indulgence. The material life is to be accepted for the manifestation of our divine, inner qualities. Through the material life, we shall have to fulfil the message of our inner life. Now how can we do this?

One should try to aspire in one’s day-to-day life to combine both the material and the spiritual life. One can do this through the remembrance of something higher or deeper. What is that higher and deeper thing? It is God, the Divine. If God comes to one’s mind before anything else, then only will God flow through, from the spiritual life into the material life. God has to be placed first in one’s life, without negating the material life or the outer world. If we place God first, then God enters, on our behalf, into the outer world, into the material world. But if we place the material world first, then we cannot reach God because the process is wrong. It is from God that we have to enter into the material life. God looms large in the inner life and from the inner life we can and must bring Him into the outer life. This is how we can adjust ourselves to the material life and make it one with the spiritual life.

Question: You explained that the soul needs the body. I understand that the soul is the one that is in union with God. Will we retain our individuality or shall we lose our individuality when we realise that union with God?

Sri Chinmoy: God does not want us to discard our individuality, but ordinary individuality and real, divine individuality are two different things. God Himself is, at the same time, One and Many. He has produced infinite human beings, human souls. He is One, but in the field of manifestation He has become Many. He has selected each person as His chosen instrument, that is to say, each human soul is His chosen instrument. This kind of divine individuality which God has given to us is not the ordinary individuality which is determined by the ego: “I am this, you are that.” God’s individuality is a unique manifestation of His Reality. There is no clash, there is no jealousy, there is no fight, no battle. God Himself is manifesting Himself in a unique manner in you, in me and in others. That kind of individuality, different from the individuality of the ego, God retains for humanity. It is a unique expression of the Divine in His multiplicity. Each one is a chosen instrument of God, but without ego, without pride, without vanity. It is just like the petals of the lotus; each petal has its own beauty and its own uniqueness.

Question: If a person practises Yoga, what kind of life will be led in his daily activities?

Sri Chinmoy: In his daily activities he has to be, first of all, sincere, honest and pure. He has to have purity in his mind, in his body, in his speech and in his ideas. Anyone can practise sincerity, honesty and purity. Then if he really wants to practise Yoga, the deeper Yoga, each day for about fifteen minutes, he must devote himself to his inner search, to his self-discovery. These fifteen minutes of meditation have to be learned from someone who can teach him. He needs a teacher for meditation, for his inner illumination. The individual has to know how sincere he is or how far he wants to go, how deeply he wants to accept Yoga. If he feels that he has to go up to the end of the road, that he wants to reach the goal, then he has to follow some strict, inner discipline and he has to meditate, concentrate and so forth. But if he wants to remain satisfied with obtaining a little peace, joy and light, then what I said at the beginning, in answering your question applies here. Let him be perfectly sincere in all his activities.

Question: Does a person who has not practised Yoga have the same grade of unity with God after death as one who practises Yoga?

Sri Chinmoy: No. One who has practised Yoga will alone have eventually the conscious oneness with God. He will see God here on earth and there in heaven. My dear friend, just by leaving the body, one does not immediately go to God. For God-realisation, one has to be here on earth. It is mere foolishness to think that when we leave the body, we immediately fly to God. No! It is not like that. One has to realise Him here on earth. It is by listening to the dictates of the soul that one realises God here on earth. Otherwise people only need commit suicide in order to realise God after death. Anyone would be able to leave the world and fly to God.

Part VII: Questions asked at the Inter-American University, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Editor's note

The following questions were asked at the Inter-American University, San Juan, Puerto Rico, on October 17, 1968.

Question: What is the best point we can use to fix our gaze for concentration?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the individual. Some people find it easier to look at the flame of a candle and concentrate, while others find it easier to look at a beautiful flower. Still others prefer to look at the rising sun and concentrate. So if the individual gets a kind of inner joy when concentrating on a particular object, he should concentrate on that object in order to achieve his goal.

Question: Is Yoga considered a religion or a philosophy?

Sri Chinmoy: Yoga is neither a philosophy nor a religion. Yoga transcends both philosophy and religion; at the same time, it houses both religion and philosophy. Religion and philosophy can lead a human being up to God’s Palace, while Yoga, which means union with God, man’s conscious union with God, leads an aspirant right up to God’s Throne.

Question: When you speak, you close your eyes. Is this a kind of concentration or what is it?

Sri Chinmoy: When I was speaking, you observed me closing my eyes. It is not that I was concentrating; it was only that I was entering into various worlds. There are seven higher worlds and seven lower worlds. When I close my eyes and then open them, this blinking that you see indicates that I am moving, my soul is moving from one region to another.

During my talk, I was in a very high consciousness. Hence my soul got the opportunity to move from one plane of consciousness to another.

Question: Is there any difference between one religion and another religion? Does Yoga demand renunciation of all religions?

Sri Chinmoy: There is no fundamental difference between one religion and another because each religion embodies the ultimate Truth. So Yoga does not interfere with any religion. Anybody can practise Yoga. I have disciples who are Catholics, Protestants, Jews and so forth. One can practise Yoga irrespective of religion. Now if one has been taught Hinduism, he may be afraid of accepting Catholicism and vice-versa. But the real aspirant who has launched into spirituality and Yoga will find no difficulty in remaining in his own religion. I tell my disciples not to give up their own religion. If they remain in their own religion and practise the spiritual life and the inner discipline, they will go faster because their own religion will give them constant confidence in what they are doing and confirm what they are actually practising in their life. So I always tell my students to stick to their own religion, for Yoga does not demand renunciation of any religion.

Question: Is it easier for you to concentrate while you are standing?

Sri Chinmoy: For a spiritual person like me, concentration can be done at any moment, at any place and in any position. I can concentrate even while I am running. About fifteen years ago, I was a very good sportsman — an athlete in India. Even while running the fastest hundred meter dash, I used to concentrate. While I was pole vaulting — in the air — I was able to concentrate. So concentration can be done at any moment, at any place, in any position; it need not be done only while sitting.

When the inner being compels us to concentrate, we concentrate. There is no hard and fast rule that one has to concentrate only while standing or while seated in the lotus position. When the inner being inspires us, we aspire and this aspiration can be expressed either in the form of concentration or meditation.

Question: Is reincarnation an entity in itself or is it a religious belief of Hinduism?

Sri Chinmoy: There are religions which accept the belief in reincarnation whereas there are other religions which do not. The Hindu religion, Hinduism, believes in reincarnation. But reincarnation in itself has very little to do with Hinduism or any other religion. Now what is reincarnation?

It means that the soul comes into the world with a new garment. Now we are wearing clothes, garments. At any moment we can throw them off. They are at our disposal. Similarly, when the soul finds the body to be no longer capable of receiving the highest Truth or when the soul finds that the body needs rest or when the soul feels that God wants it to leave the body, it leaves; and again, when God wants the soul to enter into a new human body, the soul enters. And I wish to add that this concept of reincarnation is not only the Hindu idea or the Hindu philosophy or the Hindu way of approaching life, but it is a truth to which many, many people in the West adhere.

In the Gita, one of our most sacred books, and sometimes called the Bible of India, we find a beautiful verse on reincarnation. I wish to cite it.

(Sri Chinmoy chanted Verse 22, Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad-Gita in Sanskrit.)

"“As a man discards his old and worn-out clothes and takes on new ones, so does the embodied soul discard this body and migrate from body to body.”"

This is what we call reincarnation from the Hindu spiritual point of view.

Question: What is meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: There are three stages in our spiritual practice. It starts with concentration, then meditation, then contemplation. Someone here asked me about concentration and I have answered. Now meditation is the second stage. When you meditate, what you actually do is to enter into a calm or still, silent mind. We have to be fully aware of the arrival and attack of thoughts. That is to say, we shall not allow any thought, divine or undivine, good or bad, to enter into our mind. Our mind should be absolutely silent. Then we have to go deep within; there we have to observe our real existence. When we speak of our outer existence, we see our limbs and our body, the gross body, that is all; but when we go deep within, we approach our true existence and that existence is in our soul, in the inmost recesses of our soul. When we live in the soul, we feel that we are actually, spontaneously doing meditation.

So if you want to know what meditation is, I wish to say that meditation is that very state of our consciousness where the inner being, instead of cherishing millions of thoughts, wants only to commune with God. Meditation is God’s language as well as man’s language. Now I am speaking in English and you are able to understand me because you know English well. Similarly, when one knows how to meditate well, one will be able to commune with God. Thus meditation is the language we use to speak to God.

Question: Is life after death a reality or just a belief?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two lives: one is the life that we are seeing here. We have a short span of life, say forty, sixty or eighty years; then we pass behind the curtain of Eternity. There is an eternal Life. This Life existed before the creation, it exists now in the creation, then it passes through death and it goes beyond death and enters again into its own realm. So when we speak of life here, we think of the short span of life that we are seeing: sixty years or eighty years. But eternal Life is not like that. It had no beginning and it has no end. It existed, it exists and it will forever exist. Through our meditation, when we realise God, when we stay in God, we become the possessor of that eternal Life. Consciously we go beyond the veil of death and we remain in the eternal Life, which has neither beginning nor end.

Question: Is life after death a sort of consolation?

Sri Chinmoy: Obviously it is not. I have just explained that life after death is the highest affirmation of Truth. In this life, you have not fulfilled even all your desires, let alone your aspirations. How can you do all this in one lifetime? Desire fulfilled today is bound to be followed by frustration tomorrow. Then man throws away desire like a dirty cloth; man enters into the field of aspiration. He wants to grow, he wants to have infinite Joy, infinite Light, infinite Bliss. These infinite gifts cannot be possessed by an individual in the course of one short span of life. For that we have to come back into this world. The soul comes back again and again in order to fully manifest its divinity here on earth. Because we cannot do all this in one short lifetime, the soul comes back and enters into various successive bodies in order to embody, fulfil and manifest the Divine.

Question: That humming that I heard from you ... I want to know if it is a kind of meditation.

Sri Chinmoy: Chanting is not, strictly speaking, a form of meditation. It is an invocation. You invoke God to enter into you, into your inmost self, into your inner existence. Meditation is different. While in chanting you usually invoke God to permeate your whole existence, in meditation you try, in a broader way, to enter into God’s Infinity, Eternity and Immortality.

Question: Recently I read about a person who was buried alive for eighteen days and then he was able to come back alive. Is there any relation between this sort of thing and what you are doing?

Sri Chinmoy: My teaching is not a kind of miracle-mongering. My business is to help the aspirant to reach God. When one wants to reach God, realise God, I try to help the person. But by being buried underground for eighteen days or by performing other feats, I can not lead my students to God nor are the students helped in their spiritual search. What leads us to God is our aspiration, our inner, mounting cry. So I do not advocate this kind of miracle.

What I want from my students is this inner cry. A child cries for his mother’s love; a spiritual child needs and wants to have infinite love from God. And how can he get it? Only by reaching and realising God. My philosophy and spirituality are different from those who are meant only for displaying and teaching their supernatural capacities, their miracles.

Question: So what that person did has nothing to do with Yoga?

Sri Chinmoy: It has very little to do with true Yoga. Yoga means “union with God.” If somebody does miracles, he is not helping you directly or indirectly to realise God. At most we learn from him that there is no end to human capacity. If one enters into the secret domains where the inherent powers of the cosmic realities exist, one can get the capacity to do anything.

I know an amusing incident in connection with a fakir in India who used to perform this very feat you mention. He could remain buried for long periods of time and often lay underground for as long as twenty-one days. Once it happened that when he was dug up from his long burial, the moment he regained consciousness, he looked around frantically for his girlfriend who was standing amidst his relatives, friends and admirers. Having found his paramour, he left the spot immediately with her.

Now did his unusual achievement help the audience in any way in their aspiration for God-realisation? You tell me. By performing these miracles, we in no way inspire others to unite themselves with God, whereas in helping someone in his aspiration, his concentration and his meditation, we do help the person to realise God.

Part VIII: Questions asked at Yale University

Editor's note

The following questions were asked at Yale University on December 4, 1968, following the talk “God’s Dream-Boat and Man’s Life-Boat.”

Question: What role does the vegetarian diet play in your teachings?

Sri Chinmoy: In my teachings the vegetarian diet plays a most important role. In order to become pure, a vegetarian diet helps us considerably. Purity is of paramount importance in our spiritual life. This purity we must establish in the physical, the vital and the mental. When we eat meat, fish and so forth, the aggressive, animal consciousness enters into us. Our nerves become agitated; we unconsciously become restless and aggressive. The mild qualities of vegetables, on the other hand, help us to establish in our inner life as well as in our outer life, the qualities of sweetness, softness, simplicity and purity.

But again, if you ask me whether by becoming a strict vegetarian you can realise God or not, then I would say “No,” a definite “No.” There are millions and millions of people on earth who are strict vegetarians, but I don’t think there are millions and millions of God-realised souls on earth. For God-realisation we need aspiration. But in answering your question, I wish to say that it is always advisable, if possible, to have a vegetarian diet in order to further one’s progress in the inner discipline, so that one can feel that even the body, with its purity, can help one’s inner aspiration to become more intense and more soulful.

Question: It seems to me that it takes a certain amount of energy and desire to follow the path of your teachings. And what about the rank beginner on it? Sometimes you can't muster enough energy to get yourself going!

Sri Chinmoy: You are right. Not only to follow my path, but to follow any spiritual path, one has to have some energy, some spiritual energy and aspiration. But I think that if one has to wait for this dynamic and spiritual energy, then one will never start one’s journey. So if you really want the spiritual life, I say: throw yourself into the inner life. Don’t look either backwards or sideways. Look ahead and jump into the sea of spirituality. Start from where you are. If you have limited energy, if your aspiration is insignificant, then I wish to say something to you. Go deep within. You will get to the inner well, the source of aspiration.

You cannot become a multimillionaire overnight. You have to start with a penny. Similarly if you have a little aspiration, if you really care for God, then start uttering God’s name once a day, early in the morning. Gradually you can transform the whole day, into a repetition of God’s name and make real headway towards your self-discovery. If you have a sincere cry for God, then you can start your spiritual journey, no matter where you are or what you have.

Question: My mind wanders and I would like to know how I can better my concentration so that I can keep my mind focussed on one point or on one thought without lower thought-structures wandering around.

Sri Chinmoy: Before you actually start your concentration, I wish you to repeat the name of God at least twenty times as fast as possible. “God, God, God …” In one breath, please try to repeat the word “God” as many times as you can. First try to purify your breath by repeating God’s name. The breath has to be purified. Unless and until our breath is purified, our mind will wander; thoughts will attack the mind mercilessly. After you have repeated God’s name, I wish you to focus all your attention on a particular picture. You are a university student and at the same time you are a disciple of mine. You can focus your attention on my picture or look at your own picture. Look at your reflection in the mirror. Do not feel that you are experiencing two bodies with one consciousness, but feel that you are feeling one body with one consciousness, even though the body in the mirror is a reflection of yourself. There should be no other thought besides this one, “God wants me; I need God. He will illumine me, my life; I shall fulfil Him, His mission.” Then you will see that slowly and steadily God’s divine thoughts are entering into you and permeating your whole inner and outer existence.

Question: I am studying to be an actor at the Drama School here at Yale. Is it possible to follow the spiritual path and also have this earthly value, or must I totally devote myself to the spiritual path and be devoid of everything else?

Sri Chinmoy: This is a very wrong conception of spirituality. True spirituality never, never negates our earthly life and our significant earthly values. True spirituality only simplifies our earthly life; it purifies and illumines our human existence. We are now in ignorance. We know that we are caught in the meshes of ignorance, but spirituality shows us how we can come out of ignorance, how we can free ourselves from the bondage that we have consciously or unconsciously created. If you want to be an actor, spirituality will never prevent you from being one. On the contrary, spirituality will inspire you in your acting line. Spirituality never negates. It is like your private tutor. It will teach you privately and secretly to be successful and meaningful in your outer as well as your inner life. Nothing has to be given up. Everything has to be changed and transformed. If you give up, then what are you going to achieve? If you give up this world, what are you going to do? It is here on earth that you have to realise God, reveal God and fulfil God.

Question: There are many books on reincarnation on the market that you can buy. But is it something that can be understood by the intellect, the laws of reincarnation?

Sri Chinmoy: The laws of reincarnation can never be understood by the intellect. After one has realised the Ultimate Truth, one can not only understand the laws of reincarnation, but seize the entire picture of the whole system of reincarnation from the beginning to the end. In order to understand the law of reincarnation, one has to enter into the region of the soul and abide therein. One has to go far beyond the domain of the intellect. By studying books, even if you study millions of books on reincarnation, you cannot enter into the region of the soul. To enter into the region of the soul, you have to aspire and meditate. All you can understand by the intellect are certain very insignificant principles in the boundless realm of reincarnation.

Part IX: Questions asked at Yoga of Westchester, New Rochelle, New York

Editor's note

The following questions were asked after the lecture “Is Spirituality Man’s Birthright?” at Yoga of Westchester, New Rochelle, New York, on November 13, 1968.

Question: Could you tell us what an aspirant's duty to society is, if he has one, and how he should relate to his total society? Should he be withdrawn or should he contribute, and if so, what should be the nature of his contribution?

Sri Chinmoy: This same question was asked by a University student at the Inter-American University in Puerto Rico recently and I shall be happy to answer it again for you. It depends. First of all, we have to know the standard of the aspirant. If the aspirant feels that the inner life, the spiritual life, is of paramount importance, that he cannot do without it — if he is of that calibre — then he has to devote most of his time to the inner life, the spiritual life, to God-realisation; his inner being will tell him to what extent he can contribute to society. But if the aspirant is just learning the ABC of the spiritual life, then I wish the aspirant to accept society as something important, needful and significant in his life, something that goes with the inner life and something that should be accepted along with the inner life.

Again, I wish to say that if he is a true aspirant, he has to go deep within in order to know how to help society. To help society is a wonderful thing. To be a philanthropist is a wonderful thing, and if that particular philanthropist goes deep within and gets the direct message from the inner being, from God, then I think that only at that time will his help to society be really meaningful. Otherwise, the so-called help or contribution to society by an aspirant will be an act of self-aggrandisement, self-nourishment, a feeding of his ego.

So we have to know where the individual aspirant stands. In order to realise God, one does not have to leave society altogether for good. If one leaves society, or in the larger sense, humanity, then how can one establish and manifest divinity here on earth?

But one has to be wise in his spiritual search. He has to know that God comes first and then humanity. If one goes to humanity first and serves humanity according to his limited capacity or just to feed his ego, then he is not fulfilling God in society or in humanity So to serve humanity properly, divinely, one has first to go to divinity and from there, one has to approach humanity. At that time, the help will be most beneficial.

Question: Do you feel it is important for the aspirant to follow the vegetarian diet?

Sri Chinmoy: The answer will be yes and no. It depends on the individual aspirant. We all know that we have come from the animal kingdom. We believe in reincarnation. So once upon a time, we were all animals. Now, we have come into the human creation and we are progressing and evolving and all of us will realise God on the strength of our aspiration.

For an aspirant, it is advisable to be a vegetarian precisely because when he eats meat, the aggressive quality of the animal enters into him. We are trying to live a life of peace and tranquility. If we sincerely want that kind of life, then it is foolishness on our part to eat something that would diminish our peace and tranquility and stand in the way of our meditation, concentration, etc. So it is always advisable to accept the vegetarian life. But, again, there are some countries or some parts of the world where it is exceptionally cold and there it is impossible for those particular people, to live on vegetables alone. What are they going to do then? There only if they eat meat can they remain on earth. Then, again, there are some sincere seekers whose physical constitution is very weak. Some children, for example, who are very ill require meat for a short time to regain their strength. Others from the beginning of their lives have been eating meat and now they have formed such a habit, such a bad habit, you can say, that they cannot manage without it even for a day. What are they going to do? On the one hand, they have sincere aspiration, genuine aspiration, but their body revolts. I feel, in such rare cases, that they should eat meat.

But as a general rule, it is always advisable to be a vegetarian because we are trying to throw away the animal qualities and propensities from our nature. Already when we go deep within, we see that we have two different qualities or natures; the divine and the undivine. The undivine is the animal in us and the animal within us will always be aggressive and destructive. The divine in us will always be progressive and illumined. So if we want to march and run towards our Goal, then we have to do away with our animal life. To do that, whatever animal qualities we take into us in the form of meat or in some other form have to be discontinued.

Now to come back to your question, if one says that one has to be a vegetarian in order to realise God or that one cannot achieve God-realisation unless he is a vegetarian, then I say that it is pure foolishness. There are many meat-eaters who have realised God: Christ, Vivekananda and many others who realised God, but ate meat as others do. There are many. A few months ago someone told me that in order to have purity in abundance, he stopped eating meat, but he also felt that just by becoming a vegetarian, he would be able to realise God. He would not have to meditate, he would not have to concentrate; only by becoming a vegetarian, he could achieve union with the Absolute. So I told him that in India, all widows without exception are forbidden to take meat. When their husbands die, on that very day, they have to stop taking meat. Now in spite of my deepest love and respect for Indian widows, I don’t think that they are all God-realised souls. That kind of feeling towards the vegetarian life is absurd. Yet we have to strike a balance. For a sincere aspirant, it is certainly advisable and helpful to be a vegetarian.

Question: My question concerns Karma. I would like to know what is the best way to get rid of bad karma.

Sri Chinmoy: The best way to get rid of bad karma is to enter into the field of meditation, concentration and aspiration. If you want to get rid of your bad karma, the first thing you have to do is to forget about it. If you think of it, unconsciously you are cherishing it, but if you think of good karma, that is to say, aspiration, meditation and concentration, then you are walking along the right path. What you did yesterday, what you ate yesterday or ten years ago is now not at all important. What you want to do now and be now is of paramount importance. We have to know that we are not the children of the past, but of the golden future. Yesterday did not give you realisation. Yesterday did not give you fulfilment. You are going to get it either today or in the distant future or in the near future. You have to know that if you look forward, one day you will reach your Goal, but if you look backward, you will remain where you were and where you are. So in order to get rid of bad karma, the only medicine is meditation in the form of aspiration, or concentration in the form of aspiration.

Question: Do you think that the aspirant needs a living Guru for realisation?

Sri Chinmoy: To be very frank with you, the necessity of a living Guru in order to realise God is not absolutely indispensable. The first person who realised God on earth, the very first realised soul had no human Guru. The poor fellow who first realised God had only God as his Guru.

If you have a Guru, what happens? It facilitates your inner spiritual progress. A Guru is a private tutor. At every moment in life’s journey, ignorance tries to test you, examine you and torture you, but this private tutor will teach you how to pass the examination. If you have a private tutor you know how much help you can get in order to pass the examination. Moreover, if you get a Guru, once you get him and once you are in his boat, he takes you to the Golden Shore. You on your part do not have to work as hard as you would have done without a Guru.

The Guru is approached by his disciple at any time, any hour of the day or night, in his suffering, in his joy. The necessity of a Guru for a sincere disciple is certainly of paramount importance. But at the same time, it is not indispensable. However if someone is wise enough to want to run towards his Goal instead of stumbling or merely walking, then certainly the help of the Guru at that time is considerable.

Again a true disciple feels that the Guru and the disciple are not two totally different beings; that is to say, he does not feel that the Guru is at the top of the tree and he is at the foot of the tree, that he is all the time washing the feet of the Guru. No, he feels that the Guru is his own highest part. If he has the feet, he has also the head. He feels that he and the Guru are one, the Guru is his own highest and most developed part. Therefore he does not find any difficulty in surrendering his lowest part to his highest part. It is not beneath his dignity to offer his lowest to his highest because he knows that both the highest and the lowest are his.

So to come back to your question, the need for a teacher. It is absurd to feel that for everything else in life we need a teacher but not for God-realisation. But again, God is in everybody and if you feel that you don’t need human help, you are most welcome to do it alone. But why does one go to the university when he can study at home? He need not go to university, but he feels that there he will get expert instruction. In this world, if you want to make fast, faster and fastest progress in the inner life, spiritual life, then I must say that the necessity of a Guru is almost indispensable.

Question: What you said before about denying the animal in man troubles me. I feel that as the inner life and the outer life are two sides of the same truth, that the animal and the pure wisdom in man are also two sides of the same truth and two sides of God and I can't understand why one must run away from one side of oneself.

Sri Chinmoy: Actually one is not running away. When I say that one has to get rid of it, I mean that one has to illumine one’s own consciousness. My philosophy is the philosophy of acceptance. After accepting life as it is, one has to try to transform and illumine it. If night is illumined into light, you will see the total extinction of night because it becomes all light. Now in the field of manifestation, yes, God is in the animal. God is everywhere. God is in pure water. God is in filthy water. Why do you drink pure water and not filthy water in which God is also present? Because you know you will get sick and perhaps even die. Similarly in this world, we have to know what is necessary to reach our Goal, what things are required. God is in everything, but what we cannot utilise in our journey has no place in our aspiring consciousness. If the animal quality is obstructing our way, we have either to illumine it or destroy it. We simply try to illumine it and when night is transformed into day, you can no longer call the night “night.” It is “day.” So with the animal in us, either we have to throw it aside or we have to illumine it.

In our yoga, the yoga of acceptance, we do not actually destroy anything; we transform it. When we transform something, it loses its original unlit or destructive quality. Now about your simile of the obverse and the reverse, the inner life and the outer life. The outer life is the expression of the inner life. It should be. But the outer life cannot be dark and undivine, while the inner life is bright and divinely illumined. We are in a process of evolution. Once upon a time we were in the plant life, then we came to the animal life and now we are in the human life. We are evolving, transcending. The inner and the outer life must be united because God is inside, God is outside. The inner life has to inspire, energise and permeate the outer life; the outer life has to be the perfect expression of the inner life. It must catch up with the inner life and be a worthy embodiment of it.

Question: What is self-realisation?

Sri Chinmoy: Self-realisation means self-discovery in the highest sense of the term. One realises one’s oneness with God — consciously. Now you have studied books and people have also told you that God is in everybody. But you have not realised God in your conscious life. When one is self-realised, one consciously knows what God is, what He looks like, what He wills. Those who have not realised God will say, “God may be like this, God may be like that” — it is all mental speculation. But when one achieves self-realisation, one remains in God’s Consciousness and one speaks to God face-to-face. He sees God both in the finite and in the Infinite; he sees God as personal and impersonal. In this case, it is not mental hallucination or imagination; it is direct reality. This reality is more authentic than my seeing you right now in front of me.

Question: You spoke of a Guru as someone to help make a short cut in the search for realisation. I find it hard in myself to channel myself in the search. Could you recommend or direct me somehow in a channelling of my energies toward self-realisation, because I find it hard to direct myself in that way.

Sri Chinmoy: Have you studied spiritual books? No? Then to start with, I wish you to study some sacred spiritual books. Please do this and then ask X about the inner life. She will help you and guide you. Only one thing: right now do not think of realisation, liberation and salvation and all that. Those who, at the very beginning of their journey, use the terms “self-realisation,” “liberation,” “transformation” all the time are just fooling themselves, to be very frank with you. Please do not think I am criticising you or blaming you, but I wish to say in front of you all that these are big words. Some spiritual masters say that one should not utter these words at all at the beginning, words like “realisation,” “divinisation,” etc. These are all big, big words. Only when one is on the threshold of true liberation, one can use them, or when one is far advanced in the spiritual life. Otherwise, people just entering into the spiritual life who have not learned the ABC of the spiritual life, say “I want God-realisation, I want liberation.” Very often I hear this from people and I feel so sad. Before they have actually started climbing the tree, they want the fruit from the topmost branch.

So please launch into the spiritual path, learn the ABC of the inner life. For that, discipline is required. Just as you take exercises every day or almost every day, to develop your muscles, you should likewise meditate regularly without fail, for five minutes, ten minutes, according to your capacity and according to the instructions given to you by some teacher. Then you have to know the necessity of feeding the child within you. When the child cries, immediately the mother runs to feed the child. Similarly we have, all of us, a child within us, a divine child, the soul. This soul has to be fed, developed, if we want spiritual fulfilment, if we want the manifestation of God here on earth. So if we feed our outer body thrice a day, it is only sensible that we feed the inner child within us at least once a day. If we do that, we shall eventually feel the Divine and realise God.

Question: Should we understand that the extent of self-realisation that we can achieve is subject to our effort and our will, which is what I did understand from your last response, or is it ultimately determined in some way by something beyond our own will?

Sri Chinmoy: Two things go together — individual effort plus the Divine Grace. If I sleep all the time, God is not going to liberate me, but at the same time if I feel that on the strength of my personal will, by hook or by crook, I will be able to realise God by exerting all my power, it is foolishness. So we have to know that God is on the third floor and I am on the first floor. There should be a rendezvous, a meeting place. I have to go to God; I have to go to the second floor with my personal effort, that is to say, with my tears, my soulful cry. And then God will come down from the third floor to the second floor with his infinite Grace, Compassion, and there we meet together. He has to give what He has, His Compassion, the flood of Compassion, and I have to give my little personal effort and my tears, the flood of my tears. Then if we come together, there we meet together.

Here I wish to say something. A woman spiritual Master once was asked by her disciples how much personal effort she made in order to realise God. She said before she had realised God she thought that her personal effort was 99% and God’s help, God’s Grace, was only 1%. She was working so hard in order to realise God. But when she realised God, then she found that it had been just the reverse; that God’s Grace was 99% and her personal effort was only 1 %. There she did not stop. Then she said, “My children, this 1% of personal effort was also God’s Grace. It was the divine Grace which I got and others did not get. And this Grace of God allowed me to make that most insignificant personal effort.”

Part X: Questions asked in 1969

These questions were asked by L. in the summer of 1969.

Question: How can we teach ourselves to love humanity, not just as a collective whole, but also specifically, when a person's defects and bad qualities are so obvious?

Sri Chinmoy: When you see that a person’s defects and bad qualities are so obvious, try to feel immediately that his defects and bad qualities do not represent him totally. His real self is infinitely better than what you see now. On the other hand, if you really want to love humanity, then you have to love humanity as it stands now and not expect it to come to a specific standard. If humanity has to become perfect before it can be accepted by you, then it would not need your love, affection and concern. Right now, in its imperfect state of consciousness, humanity needs your help. Give humanity unreservedly even the most insignificant and limited help that you have at your disposal. This is the golden opportunity. Once you miss this opportunity, your future suffering will be beyond your endurance. Because a day will come when you will realise that humanity’s imperfection is your own imperfection.

You are God’s creation; so is humanity. Humanity is only an expression of your universal heart. You can and must love humanity, not just as a whole, but also individually if you realise the fact that until humanity has realised its supreme Goal, your own divine perfection will not be complete.

Question: How can we tell if our love is vital or pure?

Sri Chinmoy: You can easily tell whether your love is vital or pure. When your love is vital, there is a conscious demand, or at least an unconscious expectation from the love you offer to others. When your love is pure or spiritual, there is no demand, no expectation. There is only the sweetest feeling of spontaneous oneness with the human being or beings concerned.

Question: Is it possible to prevent oneself from giving off impure vital love and to substitute the heart's pure love for it? How can we consciously give pure love?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not only possible, but absolutely necessary, to prevent oneself from giving off impure vital love. Otherwise one will have to constantly wrestle with the gigantic forces of ignorance. One has to use love, not to bind or possess the world, but to free and widen one’s own consciousness and the consciousness of the world. One must not try to substitute the heart’s pure love for the impure vital love. What one must do is to bring the heart’s purifying and transforming love into the impure vital. The vital as such is not bad at all. When the vital is controlled, purified and transformed, it becomes a most significant instrument of God.

Now you want to know how you can consciously give pure love to others. You can consciously give pure love to others if you feel that you are giving a portion of your life-breath when you talk to others or think of others. And this life-breath you are offering just because you feel that you and the rest of the world are totally and inseparably one. Where there is oneness, it is all pure love.

Question: In what way does love for one's Guru differ from devotion to him? Is it possible to have one without the other?

Sri Chinmoy: To have love for one’s Guru is to take the first step into the spiritual domain. The second step is devotion. One cannot take the second step unless one has taken the first step. Moreover, true love and pure devotion cannot be separated. They breathe together. Love sees the Truth. Devotion feels the Truth. Surrender becomes the Truth.

Question: When we concentrate on love and devotion, should we direct it mainly to the Supreme or to our Guru?

Sri Chinmoy: It entirely depends on the disciple’s conscious awareness of the Guru’s spiritual status. If the disciple’s ignorance compels him to feel that the Guru stands only ten inches higher than he himself stands in the spiritual domain, then naturally he will direct his love and devotion to the Supreme. But if he sincerely and consciously and spontaneously feels that the Guru is a God-realised soul and that there is a yawning gap between him and his Guru in their inner achievements, if he feels that the Guru has achieved and established his conscious and constant oneness with the Supreme, and that the Guru is the representative of the Supreme for the disciples and that he is the direct channel streaming downward from the Ultimate Source to cultivate the soil of human aspiration, then the disciple with the least possible hesitation, can direct his love and devotion to the Guru. To be sure, neither the Supreme nor the Guru is hurt when you approach one leaving aside the other. As a matter of fact, just because they know that they are absolutely one, they are equally and supremely pleased with you when you offer your love and devotion to one of them.

Question: Do the words "psychic" and "spiritual" mean the same thing?

Sri Chinmoy: No, the word “psychic” and the word “spiritual” are not the same. Let us better use the term “the psychic being” instead of “psychic.” It then simplifies the matter. The psychic being is the conscious representative of the soul. It is the aspiring, divine spark in us. It is supremely beautiful and is the fondest child of the Supreme. The psychic being is an entity which only humans have. The animals and plants and material objects, etc., do not have a psychic being. However each object, animate or inanimate, does have a soul.

Anything that concerns this divine being or pertains to it is described as “psychic.” But the word “spiritual” is something general and all-pervading. It includes and envelops everything, including the psychic being. You can liken the word “spiritual” to a garden and “psychic” to a most beautiful mango tree bearing countless, delicious, energising mangoes.

Question: What is devotion? Just a desire to do everything possible for one's Guru?

Sri Chinmoy: For a disciple, devotion means his purified, simplified, intensified, devoted, consecrated, conscious and constant oneness with his Guru. The disciple must feel that the Guru is the spiritual magnet constantly pulling him towards the infinite Light of the Supreme. Devotion does not mean just a desire to do everything possible for one’s Guru. Devotion is something infinitely deeper than desire. Devotion is the conscious awareness of Light in operation. In this Light the aspirant will discover that when he does something for the Guru or the Guru asks him to do something for him, he has already been given more than the necessary capacity by the Guru.

Question: What are the manifestations of devotion?

Sri Chinmoy: The manifestations of devotion are simplicity, sincerity, spontaneity, beauty and purity. The manifestations of devotion are also one’s intense, devoted feeling for the object of one’s adoration and the feeling of one’s consecrated oneness with the Inner Pilot.

Question: If we feel that we are not devoted enough, how can we increase our devotion?

Sri Chinmoy: If the aspirant feels that he is not devoted enough, then he can do four things to increase his devotion. (1) He should try to love the Master more than he already does. (2) He should try to feel that the Master loves him infinitely more than he thinks. (3) He should try to develop more purity in his outer life. (4) He should try to feel that the highest Truth can and will come to him from the Master and through the Master alone.

Question: If one has aspiration, but not devotion, does this hinder his spiritual progress?

Sri Chinmoy: If the aspirant has aspiration and not devotion for the Master, certainly it hinders — I must say it hinders considerably — the aspirant’s spiritual progress. If the aspirant does not care for a Master and wants to aspire all by himself, then it is a different matter. He is not expected to show devotion to anyone. But here also I want to say that if he really aspires, then he has to feel that one day he has to reach his far-distant Goal through devotion. Now in order to reach the Goal, even without a Guru, he still needs conscious devotion to the Goal itself, and if the aspirant feels that he has no need for this devotion, then he is hopelessly mistaken.

There comes a time in the spiritual life when one is bound to feel that devotion and aspiration can never be separated. Devotion is the candle, aspiration is the flame. No matter which path one follows, if his aspiration is not founded on one-pointed and surrendered devotion towards his highest Goal, then the realisation of the ultimate Truth will always remain impossible.

Question: What is the difference between spiritual strength and spiritual power?

Sri Chinmoy: When we use the word “strength,” we usually refer to the physical strength, the vital strength, the mental strength or even we go as far as the inner strength. When we use the word “power,” we try to indicate a divine power which is the night-chasing capacity and the soul-fulfilling capacity of one’s inner being. In the spiritual life, it is always better to use the word “power” instead of “strength.” For power, unlike strength, immediately gives us the feeling of an essential aspect of God. Strength is bound in the physical and it can be used only in the physical world. Power too can be used in the physical, for the physical, but it is not bound there. Its home is high, very high, in the loftiest regions of the infinite Consciousness.

Question: In the spiritual life, the importance of purity is always stressed. Are pure actions worthwhile if thoughts are impure? How can we purify our thoughts?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, in the spiritual life the importance of purity is always stressed. It is not only unavoidable but supremely necessary, for without the soulful purity, in the true spiritual life, the aspirant’s life, will have to dance with futility. It is true that when you act, your thoughts must be pure. That is why the spiritual Masters say that it is not so much what you do but how you do it. Since I am one of them, I wish to add that at the beginning, even if your thoughts are impure and motives conditional, do not be upset. Start your inner journey from where you are right now. If you wait for purity to flood your outer consciousness before you start your inner and outer workings, then I tell you that you are doing something absurd. If you stick to the spiritual path, then the divine purity is bound to dawn on your inner life and your outer life in the course of time. You want to know how you can purify your thoughts. You can purify them just by feeling that your thoughts are coming out of your devoted and consecrated inner life and not from your doubting, suspecting, scrutinising, reasoning, fault-finding and correcting mind.

Question: Should husband and wife try to feel the same kind of love and devotion for one another as they try to feel for their Guru or should it be of a different kind?

Sri Chinmoy: Dear Lucy, God bless you! I hope you understand the fact that there is a slight difference between a couple and a great spiritual Master in their spiritual attainments. The love and devotion that you will show to Savyasachi and the love and devotion that he will show his better half will no doubt make you two inseparably one in your inner life and outer life. But if you two expect realisation, illumination and liberation from each other on the strength of your mutual love and devotion, I think you have to wait until the Eternal Time enters into infinite ignorance. The love and devotion that you must necessarily have for the spiritual Master in order to realise the transcendental Truth should spring from the inmost recesses of your crying, searching and aspiring heart. The kind of love and devotion you offer to your spiritual Father is infinitely purer, deeper, higher, more surrendered and more illumined than the kind of love and devotion that the husband and the wife can possibly offer to each other.

The husband and the wife can truly, soulfully, unmistakably and unreservedly become one if and when they discover their oneness with their Master first. One partner has to feel the living presence of the other partner in the heart of the Master. Then only will the divinity of the one be reflected in the life of the other. Let the husband and wife together, combined, show their love and devotion to their Guru. The Guru, in no time, will show them what he has for them, the Infinite Flood of Liberation.

Part XI: Questions on surrender

The following significant questions on surrender were asked by S. in late 1969.

Question: Is there any relationship between surrender to God and progress in the opening of the chakras?

Sri Chinmoy: There is no direct relationship between one’s surrender to God and one’s progress in the opening of the chakras. One may totally surrender to God, but God may not or need not open that person’s chakras. The full opening of the chakras may give the aspirant some occult powers, but that does not indicate that his surrender to God is stronger or going to be stronger as the result of the opening of the chakras. Far from it. If the surrender to God’s Will is not complete, the occult powers that you get from the opening of the chakras is a veritable curse, instead of a covetous boon. One’s misuse of occult power can and does lead one astray. To be sure, if he uses the occult power to draw the attention and admiration from the world and not in conformity with God’s Will, for him, the realisation of the highest Absolute will always remain a far cry.

Question: Does the achievement of complete surrender assure that one will have the possibility of accomplishing self-realisation in this lifetime, or are there other factors that enter the picture?

Sri Chinmoy: Mere achievement of complete surrender does not assure self-realisation in this lifetime. There are other factors that must enter into the picture; God’s choice hour and the aspirant’s receptivity in its fullest measure and the full readiness of the entire being, to name only a few, are required for realisation to dawn on the aspirant. Again, I wish you to know what complete surrender means. It means that the aspirant’s surrender is joyful, soulful, spontaneous, unconditional, constant, forever and forever.

Question: Am I correct in assuming that surrender necessarily precedes realisation, or may it occur at the time of the first realisation experience or later?

Sri Chinmoy: You are correct in assuming that surrender precedes realisation. It is inevitable. Now as for realisation and experience, they are two totally different things. Realisation is oneness with Oneness Itself. Experience is, at the most, a momentary or limited feeling of oneness with the highest Truth. So you cannot speak of “the experience of realisation.” Realisation is not an experience; it is Reality itself. You can correctly say “the oneness of realisation in the realisation-consciousness.”

Question: Having once surrendered completely, is there any possibility of backsliding, or will the strength of the disciple's aspiration and oneness with the Guru's consciousness prevent this?

Sri Chinmoy: In one of my previous answers, I have told you what complete surrender means. If surrender has already achieved that kind of perfect perfection, then there can be no possibility of backsliding on the part of the disciple. A disciple who achieves perfect perfection in his or her surrender will undoubtedly be the highest pride of the Guru.

Question: Realising that the ability to surrender is 99% dependent upon Grace, I have been using part of each meditation time to pray for the Grace of God and my Guru. In view of the fact that you have said that prayer is a lesser form of devotion than meditation, I wonder whether what I am doing is a worthwhile effort.

Sri Chinmoy: I am extremely glad to learn that you have realised the fact that the ability to surrender is 99% dependent on the Divine Grace. That you are praying for Grace is an excellent thing. Unfortunately however, there has been a slight misunderstanding. I have not said that prayer is a lesser form of devotion than meditation. What I stated was that prayer is a lesser form of aspiration and that the rung of meditation is by far the highest in the spiritual life. Since you are meditating devotedly, you are undoubtedly doing the right thing in also praying. Needless to say that your effort is entirely worthwhile.

Question: At times, when praying and meditating on surrender, I am moved to copious tears. I feel these tears as different from those tears of soul's joy which I have experienced at times. The anguish which accompanies them, makes me feel that these are not even tears of aspiration, but merely of frustration, and this disturbs me. How can I aspire for, and concentrate on surrender without becoming so emotional? Even writing this question, I find myself moved to tears.

Sri Chinmoy: I am sure you know that when the soul expresses its joy with tears it means that the soul is expressing its deepest gratitude through the physical being. As you know, in the soul’s joy, there can be no frustration. There you get only the feeling of a vast and total oneness with the Highest on the strength of your surrender.

During your meditation and prayer, at times what you feel is the uncertain drive of your yet-uncontrolled emotional vital. Since you have, a few times, experienced the tears of your soul’s joy, which are a kind of divine light, the frustration that lies in your unlit emotional vital cannot last for long. Again if your prayer is flooded with purity and your meditation is surcharged with luminosity, even in the domain of gross vital, instead of frustration you will have a partial sense of psychic realisation, of Truth in the form of heart’s spontaneous joy. The spontaneous joy of the heart can easily enable you to meditate on total and integral surrender. Please try to illumine your emotional vital through your soul’s light. Once the limited emotional vital is illumined, it enters into the boundless sea of all-achieving and all-fulfilling surrender.

Question: What is involved in the surrender of the vital and of the physical body? Having surrendered with the heart and the soul, how can we best help the other recalcitrant members of our being to surrender?

Sri Chinmoy: After surrendering the heart and the soul, if you want your recalcitrant members, the vital and the physical body, to surrender to God, you can do two things. The first thing is to make them feel that they are as important as the heart and soul in the fulfilment of your mission on earth. The second thing is to threaten them, saying that you will remain in the soul’s region and not care for their limited happiness, achievement and fulfilment on earth. Your inspiration, aspiration and your threat and withdrawal will compel them to make a decision and very often it is seen that they do care for boundless joy, achievement and fulfilment and that they identify themselves consciously and sincerely with the heart and the soul and become part and parcel of the integral surrender.

Question: I have the feeling that when our heart and our soul have surrendered, we can know it ourselves, in fact do know it in our heart, but, other than being told by the Guru, are there any ways in which we can know positively that our vital and physical being have surrendered?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not always inevitable that one knows definitely when the heart and the soul have surrendered to the Will Divine. There are many cases where we have seen that in spite of the heart’s surrender and the soul’s surrender to the Divine, the aspirant still gropes in the dark, playing with uncertainty. Here is the need of a Guru. If the Guru says that your heart and soul have both surrendered, then rest assured that they have certainly done so.

There is one positive way of knowing that one’s vital and physical being have surrendered and that is through widest expansion and enlargement of one’s vital and physical being. In the constant flow of inner delight and outer dynamic, confident urge, one invokes the Highest to descend into the lowest, thus bringing the Supreme atmosphere into the earth atmosphere.

Question: As one may consciously feel that one deeply wishes to surrender and may in fact do so intellectually, without yet ridding oneself of the fear within the physical mind, this would seem to indicate that the different levels of mind each have an independent relationship to surrender. Would you please explain what the relationship is?

Sri Chinmoy: You know well that there are the physical mind, vital mind, subtle mind, intellectual mind, intuitive mind apart from the infinitely higher ranges of the mind, the Overmind and Supermind, etc. If you want to offer the different levels of the human mind proper, then you have to give due importance to each, individually and collectively, with your aspiration. You have to create a basic and fundamental union amongst them. You have to feel that these are petals of a lotus and the lotus is your own aspiring life. Unless and until the lotus is offered totally, and fully bloomed, the realisation cannot be complete and the acceptance of the Inner Pilot will not be for Eternity.

Question: When fear holds back the physical mind from surrender, it operates like an invisible enemy. This fear, being subconscious, is something of which we may be totally unaware, and even when told that it exists and is holding us back, it remains a fear that we do not feel. I daily offer my fear to the Supreme, but this offering has a feeling of unreality. How may we overcome an invisible obstacle such as this?

Sri Chinmoy: I am glad that you feel that fear acts like an invisible enemy. If you become more aware of your inner life and deeper existence, you will realise that fear is not only a visible, naked enemy but your worst possible foe. It is absolutely true that fear holds back the physical mind from total surrender. If a spiritual Master tells the disciple that he has inner fear, then he should have perfect faith in the Master, although he may not feel the existence of this fear. The Master’s Vision is always faultless. The Master has no need to tell a lie. He gains nothing by telling a certain disciple that deep down in his being there is real fear. If the aspirant is not aware of fear, the culprit, that means that either in the subconscious or unconscious part of his being, he gets some joy when he identifies himself with fear. Here at this point, the Master can say if he wants to, that the unaspiring and insincere part of the disciple is unconsciously in collusion with fear to prevent the Light from descending from above.

You say that you offer your fear to the Supreme daily. This is something absolutely necessary, wonderful and praiseworthy. But to my surprise, you say that this offering of yours has a feeling of unreality. If only once you cared to believe that the Supreme does exist on earth to accept your offer and your unconsciously cherished fear, then your feeling of unreality would disappear. The Supreme will make you feel, on the strength of your implicit sincerity, that you do have fear.

You want to know how you can overcome this invisible obstacle. I wish to tell you that you can overcome all obstacles, visible and invisible, on the way towards your God-realisation if you have genuine faith in the Master’s inner inspiration, outer dispensation, higher guidance and deeper wisdom.

Question: How does surrender affect rebirth into our next incarnation? Does it in any way assure that we will be able to pick up where we left off without the loss of time which often occurs?

Sri Chinmoy: If one’s surrender is complete and constant, then the result of surrender, which we call conscious oneness with the Divine, will bring the aspirant into a first-class spiritual family in his next incarnation. From the very beginning, he will be inspired and nurtured spiritually by the parents. He will not have to wait for seventeen or eighteen years to convince his physical mind about his inner spiritual thirst. His will be the life of conscious awareness in the field of spirituality right from the dawn of his birth.

I just said that the parents would inspire the child. It is equally true that the child, the very divine face of the child will inspire the parents to dive deep into the sea of spirituality.

Sarama, our path is the path of love, devotion and surrender. I am sure by this time all the members of our family have come to realise it.

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