Earth’s cry meets Heaven’s smile, part 2

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Editor's note

While most of the questions of Book 1 of Earth's Cry Meets Heaven's Smile were posed by seekers attending Centre meditations or public talks in the New York or San Juan areas where Sri Chinmoy's major Centres were located, those in Book 2 reflect the steady expansion of the Master's spiritual mission.

Questions from all parts of the United Kingdom and some from continental Europe now make their appearance. Onwards from 1969, public lectures were given by Sri Chinmoy in various European countries. Each talk was followed by a question period, samples of which first appeared in the series Sri Chinmoy Answers, reprinted here.

A number of Sri Chinmoy Centres, established as early as 1968, will be represented in later books of this series.

Question: The soul is without beginning and without end. Then is there any limit to its progress?

Sri Chinmoy: It is absolutely correct that the soul has neither beginning nor end. It is constantly progressing and moving towards its Goal. It has infinite potentialities because it is part of the Self. In our Gita, we have the most sublime description of the soul: "The soul is ancient, permanent, eternal, immutable and all-pervading. Weapons cannot cleave it. Fire cannot burn it. Water cannot drench it. The wind cannot dry it." This is the description of the soul given by the Lord, Sri Krishna.

You can easily see the difference between a human body and the soul. The body lasts for seventy or eighty years and then it has to die. The soul, however, is imperishable.

Everybody can see the soul. Not only can you see it, but you can talk to it.

Question: How can I talk to the soul, Guru?

Sri Chinmoy: How? Only one word: aspiration. A-S-P-I-R-A-T-I-O-N. Aspiration and nothing else. No other medicine is required; only aspiration. You know about Mrs. X. I was telling you about her the other day. She started coming to our meetings last November and now she has become a student at our New York Centre. She is under my spiritual guidance. Last May, the 5th of May, it was her birthday. She saw her own soul and had a talk with it.

For the preceding few months, she had been constantly trying to see her soul and to see if all that I had said about it was really possible. She asked me many, many questions about the soul. (We are going to publish these questions and answers.) Then I said, "Questions won't do. You have to meditate on the soul and see it for yourself."

She did meditate on the soul. On the 5th of May, her birthday, early, in the small hours of the morning, she saw her soul. While she was seeing her soul, I saw it at the same time. We live in the same building. I live on the fourth floor and she lives on the first floor. She told me everything in detail and I concentrated on her to see if it was correct. It was all true.

If she can do it, I do not see any reason why you, Akuti, cannot see and talk to your own soul. Try. I shall be glad to help you.

Question: The population of the earth is constantly increasing in number. Are they new souls that are coming to the earth? Do they come from other worlds?

Sri Chinmoy: No, the souls do not come from other worlds. They come down from the soul's world proper. They are souls that have been on earth before. After they have left the body, the ordinary souls usually take between six and twenty years to come back. The souls that take the Nirvanic Path, the path of blissful extinction, do not come back at all. But the souls that are progressive and want to fulfil the Divine here on earth, will naturally come back to achieve their own realisation and to participate in God's full and complete manifestation.

Now you are asking about the new souls coming to earth. Certainly the Divine is constantly creating new souls who come to earth for the first time along with the older souls that have been here time and time again. Souls that have left the body for a rest in the soul's world are coming back and new souls are also coming to earth.

Many of the new souls are not developed at all. They have just left the animal level and they are most undeveloped. I have seen many people in New York who are in their very first human incarnation. The other day I saw the photograph of a model who was in her very first human incarnation. I even have a few disciples, among my hundreds, who are in their first two or three incarnations. These young souls, if they are fortunate enough to become connected with a spiritual Master at the very beginning of their journey, can make very fast progress and be spared many lives of unconsciousness. Normally, however, it takes hundreds of lives before the human being consciously aspires for the life of divine realisation.

Question: In the human vocabulary, there are two words, attachment and detachment. But when the disciple aspires in the spiritual way and begins his unfoldment, does the meaning of attachment change? Can you explain it in the human sense and also in the spiritual sense? If he is well-grounded in the spiritual path, then that attachment won't disturb him, will it?

Sri Chinmoy: No matter how well-grounded you are in the spiritual life, you will see that in attachment there is only frustration. In attachment, if your desires are not fulfilled, immediately frustration comes in. As soon as we take to the spiritual life, we must end all attachments. To be freed from attachment does not mean that you have to be cold, aloof and distant towards everyone. Attachment should be transformed into proper understanding and oneness. Attachment is not real oneness. Attachment exists often just for the moment; then out of sight, out of mind. Real oneness with human beings is most important. In oneness we are never frustrated because oneness implies the strongest inner understanding. And this inner understanding is illumination.

Who illumines us? God; and this illumination comes only through aspiration. Through aspiration we are going to the Beyond; the far, farther, farthest Beyond. Attachment and desire go together. They constantly bind us. In all of us, attachment is there. From our love for humanity, we come down to our love for our nation; then from the nation, we come to a particular city; then we come to a particular village; then we come to our family. Then from loving the whole family, we find, if there are five members in the family, that we are more attached to one member. This is how desire is limiting and binding us. From attachment to our country, we finally limit and attach ourselves to one person. But if we start with aspiration, then all the time we will be transcending and transcending. From the husband or the children, from the family, we will go to the city, to the province, to the country, to the earth. Finally, we shall become universal. We have to know that detachment liberates, while attachment only binds.

How can we have detachment? It is through aspiration. Detachment does not mean completely cutting off all relationships. Detachment is the proper understanding of the truth at its own level. And in detachment, we will see that we are one with humanity on the strength of our inner life. We misunderstand and fear the word detachment, because we feel that we are breaking something. No, we are not breaking. We are actually connecting ourselves properly in the inner world to other people with our illumining and fulfilling souls. This we do with aspiration. The more we aspire, the larger becomes our vision. And this vision is our real reality.

When we start our journey in life, we limit, limit, limit and finally we come down to our gross body-consciousness. Even in the body we have more attachment to a particular limb or to a particular beautiful portion or feature. See how attachment manifests. This is my body, but I pay all attention to a particular limb or a particularly good feature. Attachment manifests itself in every insignificant way. But, fortunately, with our aspiration we are transforming the tiniest attachment into the mightiest oneness in the great unity of God's creation.

Question: I am not very sure that I understand what you mean by inner peace or keeping the mind quiet. When I am very close to nature, near the sea or beside flowers or anything that is Nature, I get a feeling of peace. I would like to enjoy this peaceful feeling everywhere, even when I am in places that are not so quiet. But I am not sure that I can ascertain if this is inner peace or whether it is just the atmosphere of the place that gives me this peaceful feeling.

Sri Chinmoy: Your peaceful feeling is altogether a different experience from the inner peace I was speaking of. What is actually happening in your case is that you are identifying your outer mind with Nature. Nature has its own rhythm, its own harmony, its own peace and its own joy. When you are identified, consciously or unconsciously, with universal Nature, it is all vastness and immensity. There you lose your own outer existence, the existence of separateness, the feeling that you are separate from other persons. In that state of unified oneness, you become totally one with universal Nature; you become part and parcel of the vast and the Infinite. There you forget your ordinary life, which is your name, your physical frame and your outer existence. Indeed, this is a wonderful experience! In that state, you do not have to make your mind calm and quiet, for your mind itself is not functioning; you have already become identified with the treasure of universal Nature's consciousness.

In that state, your mind is not responding; you are not talking to anyone. No. You are seeing the trees, you are seeing the ocean; but actually you are not functioning mentally. But you have identified yourself with these natural things, and now what they represent and what they have is being mirrored in your own outer life. So this experience is entirely different from the experience that I was speaking about.

I was speaking about inner peace, which most seekers, at the beginning, do not have. When they seek, they have constant attacks of worries, anxieties, doubts, along with constant normal thoughts. Even when they are not talking to anybody, the mind is responding. But in your experience your mind is not responding to any of the disturbances of the outer world. Your soul has become one with universal Nature. The things which are encompassed by Universal Nature are representing themselves before your mental vision as your very own. At the same time, you become the witness, totally detached, observing things but not responding.

This is a very good experience, a very high experience. You are trying to identify yourself with cosmic Nature. This is very good, but this experience is different from the experience that I was referring to.

Question: Is it true that each person has a guardian angel?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. It is absolutely true. In the West, you call this protecting being a guardian angel, while in India, we call it the family deity or the deity of the individual soul. Again, the protecting guardian can be one deity or many deities. Normally, however, one person is connected with only one deity, apart from God. God is all-Protection for everyone, far above and far beyond any guardian angel. But each individual soul will usually have spiritual guardian angel. And there are some souls of whom God, so to speak, is very fond; they have more than one guardian angel. These guardian angels try their best to protect the individual soul.

Do you remember the children's opera Hansel and Gretel by Humperdinck, where Hansel sings "When at night I go to sleep, fourteen angels watch do keep." Now, these deities also try to illumine the consciousness of the human being. They do not have the omnipotent power, however. Therefore, in spite of the very fact that the guardian angel tries hard to protect or to save the human being, the angel may fail. But the angel has considerable power, abundant power, and very often we see the miraculous success of an angel or angels.

It is only the Will of the Supreme, only the power of the Supreme that can protect us at every moment, no matter what kind of danger we are in. Something more, unlike all other protection, the Protection of the Supreme is always unconditional. But for our intimate, individual care and protection, it is absolutely true that each human being has at least one guardian angel who has a particular connection with him and hovers over him to protect and guide him.

Question: Master, what exactly is initiation?

Sri Chinmoy: In the Western world, I hear the word initiation used very often in speaking about the spiritual life. "Are you initiated?" "Has he been initiated?" Constantly I hear, "initiation, initiation," from the disciples.

Now the main purpose of initiation is to bring the soul to the fore. At the time of initiation, the Guru makes a solemn promise to the individual seeker or aspirant that he will do his best to help the seeker in his spiritual life. The Guru will offer his heart and soul to take the disciple into the highest region of the Beyond.

The Guru can initiate the disciple in various ways. He can perform the initiation in India's traditional way while the disciple is meditating. He can also initiate while the disciple is sleeping or even while the disciple is in his normal consciousness, but calm and quiet. The Guru can initiate the disciple through the eyes alone. He can also do a physical initiation which is to press the head or the heart or any part of the body. That is the purely physical aspect. But along with the physical action, the Guru, when he touches the heart, can initiate the disciple in a psychic way. The Guru can feel the soul within the disciple's heart; he can see the soul and he can act upon the soul.

Yesterday, while I was initiating X, I was writing down the name of her soul on her heart. And I saw her soul very vividly while I was blessing her on the crown centre. This centre is on top of the head and it is called Sahasrara or the Sahasrara Chakra, the thousand-petalled lotus centre. From that centre, if the Kundalini rises up and goes beyond that spot, one enters into Nirvana, the highest bliss. One marches into the Absolute.

Now, in my case, very often with the aspirants whom I consider to be my disciples, I have initiated them through my eyes. Many times you have observed my eyes when I am in my highest consciousness. At that time, my ordinary eyes, my human eyes, become totally one with my third eye and they take the light from my third eye. These two ordinary eyes receive and imbibe infinite light from the third eye and then they enter into the aspirant's eyes. This way I initiate them. Many times you have observed my eyes radiating divine light here at this Centre.

I have initiated quite a few disciples of mine. Those who are not my disciples I have no right to initiate. And whoever is my disciple need not ask me to initiate him because I know what is best for him; that is to say, whether the outer initiation will expedite his inner progress or not. The act of initiation can also be done by occult and spiritual processes. There are various ways, but I prefer the initiation through this third eye, which I feel to be the most convincing and most effective way. Immediately the light from my eyes, having come from the third eye, enters into the aspirant's eyes and then into his whole body; it percolates there from head to foot. I see the light, my own light, glowing in the disciple's body. And when I do initiate, it is my light, the light of the Supreme, that enters into the person, the disciple.

Real initiation, as I said, is the total acceptance of the disciple by the Master. The Guru accepts the disciple unreservedly and unconditionally. And even if the disciple goes away after initiation, finding fault with the Guru, the Guru will act in and through that disciple forever. The disciple may even go to some other Guru, but the Guru who has initiated a disciple will always help that particular seeker in the inner world. If the later Guru is noble enough, then he will allow the former Guru to act in and through the disciple. Although the physical relation with the former Guru is cut off, and physically the Guru is not seeing the disciple, spiritually he has to help the disciple; he is bound to help him because he had made a promise to the Supreme. Sometimes the disciple, in fact, does not go to any other Guru; he simply falls from the path, deviates from the path of truth. But his former Guru has to keep his promise.

After accepting the spiritual life and being initiated by a spiritual Master, the disciple may drop from the spiritual path for one incarnation, two incarnations or even several incarnations. But his Guru, whether he be in the body or in the higher regions, disembodied, will constantly watch over the disciple and wait for an opportunity to help him actively when the disciple again turns to the spiritual path. But a time comes when the disciple is bound to come again to the Master's spiritual guidance. The Guru is truly detached, but just because he made a promise to the disciple and to the Supreme in the disciple, the Guru waits indefinitely for an opportunity to fulfil his own promise.

So I wish to tell you here, that some of the disciples who came to me to follow my path most sincerely, have also left me most sincerely. But, if in the inner world, they are my disciples, if I had already accepted them and they were my real disciples, if they claim even once to be my disciples, I wish to tell them I have not forgotten them. Neither shall I ever forget my soulful promise to them. They may take one, two, five or six incarnations to come back to the aspiring life; but no matter how long they take, I shall have to help them and I must, in their march towards God-realisation.

Those who have been close to me must feel the actual flowering of their initiation the moment they have wholeheartedly dedicated to me their entire life — body, mind, heart and soul. This is the flowering of the initiation. It is really more than initiation; it is their own revelation of their inner divinity. At this moment they feel that they and their Guru have become totally one. They feel that their Guru has no existence without them. Similarly, they have no existence without their Guru. Mutually the Guru and the disciple fulfil each other, and they feel that their fulfilment is coming directly from the Supreme. And the greatest secret they have learned from their Guru is this: only by fulfilling the Supreme first, can they fulfil the rest of the world. Now you may ask, "How can they fulfil the Supreme? How can the Guru fulfil the Supreme?" The Guru plays his part by taking the ignorance, imperfection, obscurity, stubbornness and unwillingness from the disciples and by carrying them faithfully and devotedly to the Supreme. The disciple fulfils the Supreme by constantly staying in the Guru's boat, in the inmost recesses of the Guru's heart, and feeling that he exists only for the fulfilment of his Master. Him to fulfil, him to manifest is the only meaning, the only purpose, the only significance of the disciple's life. This is the most important thing that one has to understand about initiation.

Question: Can the Guru help the aspirant even after the Guru has left the body?

Sri Chinmoy: If the Guru is really a realised person, then he can and he has to. Now, suppose I die today, all the disciples that have accepted me as their Master, genuinely and devotedly, (and these do not include my followers, admirers and friends, but only my true disciples) would be served by me and would be taken care of by me. I am bound. I am the conscious slave of all my disciples. I shall have to be at the beck and call of all my disciples. No matter where I go. Wherever I go after I leave the earth plane, I shall have to be inside you, within you, my disciples. This is always the case if the Guru is a fully realised soul.

Otherwise, you know, there are many Gurus, like school-teachers. If an ordinary Guru dies, he will not be able to keep any inner contact with you. In fact, even while he is in the body, the ordinary Guru does not have much inner connection with the disciples. If you are here in Puerto Rico, and the ordinary Guru is on the Continent, he will not be able to have any inner knowledge of you. Even here, if you are in this room and he is in the other room, he will not be able to maintain an inner connection. And when he leaves the body, it will be simply impossible for him to have the slightest possible connection with you.

But if the Master is a realised soul, he can easily maintain an inner contact with his disciples. And he has to do it because he has made a solemn and soulful promise to the aspirant that he will take him to God. The Master has gone back to heaven and the disciple is still on earth. Yet the Master has to fulfil his promise.

Now there are some Gurus who are very sincere and dedicated, but at the same time, they are not fully realised. What they do sometimes, is this: when they leave the body, they feel that their disciples who are still on earth need a particular kind of help in their quest for self-realisation or God-realisation. If the Guru has no jealousy (a truly God-realised person has no jealousy), he will come to his disciples in a dream and say, "Go to that particular Guru and become his disciple. I have played my part. But you need further help and I know that so-and-so is a sincere person. He will help you in your God-realisation." But a mean and possessive Guru would say, "Wait my son, until I come back again to earth. I shall recognise you and you will recognise me. Don't go to any other Guru. You stay alone."

As I have said, there are some Gurus who, after having left the body, advise their disciples in this very incarnation to go to another Guru who is still on earth, who can teach them how they can realise God. They are undoubtedly noble and wise Gurus.

In New York, I have six or seven followers who have been asked by their own Guru to come to me. And they came. The first thing that happened was that they saw in me their own Master who had left his body three years earlier. The truly selfless Gurus let others carry on for them.

But if the original Guru made a promise to you, no matter where he lives, after leaving the earth, he has to be within you and with you to help you, even if you stay on earth for another forty or fifty years. In this case, it is just like having two rooms. Here is one room (life) and there is another room (death). Ordinary people cannot open the door. So when the Guru opens the door, he sees you, and when he goes back to his own room, he still has free access to this door. So once the Guru has made a promise, he is bound to keep it. He will not leave you until he has given you full realisation and has brought you to God.

Question: Would you say something about death?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, I will speak on death. I shall have to repeat many things that I have said before, since I have written and spoken a great deal on this subject.

The Bhagavad-Gita, India's great spiritual epic, tells us that just as we discard a worn-out garment and accept a new one, even so the embodied soul discards this body and accepts a new one. The soul is eternal and immortal; weapons cannot cleave it, fire cannot burn it, water cannot drench it, wind cannot dry it. It is invincible.

Now, in the external life, I have two rooms: a living room and a bedroom. In my living room I write, I work and I talk to people. In my bedroom, I take rest; I sleep. In my living room, I have to prove that I exist. In my sleeping room, I have only to take rest. Now in the spiritual world, the living room is life; the sleeping room is death. In the room we call death, life in the ordinary sense of the term is not there. I need no one when I am in this room, because I go there to rest. But people are afraid of this room because they feel that this room, death, is not theirs, whereas life is theirs. They feel that death is strange and alien and far away, whereas life is close and familiar. It is not true; both life and death are the soul's possessions.

Now as all of us here have accepted the spiritual life, the inner life, I wish to tell you a few things concerning spiritual death. In the spiritual life, we consider a man dead who is not aspiring and not making any progress. The man who does not aspire for a higher life, the man who does not care for progress, is more useless on earth than a dead man. The question then arises: what should a man do who wants to aspire and make progress at every moment? What should he do? He has to be conscious all the time of what he is doing and what he is not doing. He has to be conscious in the physical, in the vital, in the mental, in the psychic and in the soul. He has to place his mind and his body inside his soul, so to speak, and then he will see that his life can be turned into a constant progress. The higher and deeper reality can be easily brought forward into his physical existence. This is the first step.

Now to go back to death. Why do we die? Almost nobody wants to die, but in spite of our intense desire to stay on earth, we are compelled to leave the body and pass behind the curtain of eternity. Why? Simply because this earthly body of ours is imperfection itself. It cannot play the game of life unendingly and divinely. It is limited. After a few decades of existence on earth, it requires rest. If the physical body could play its part in the Divine Lila (the Divine Drama) in a divine manner, we would never have to experience death. But the body is not yet divine. Yet a day will dawn when this physical body of ours will aspire to receive higher peace, higher light, higher power and will bring them down into the physical plane itself. At that time, the necessity of death will not exist at all.

Remember that it is the body that dies and not the soul. The body dies but the soul goes back to its own home and takes rest. The soul is very, very wise. It does not forget what it did on earth; it carries with it the essence of the experiences that it had while it was in the land of the living.

When the body dies, the soul slowly and steadily, at the appointed hour, passes beyond the subtle physical plane, the vital plane, the mental plane, the psychic plane and finally enters into the soul's region, there to take rest. What does the soul do there while resting? It tries to assimilate its past experiences, the essence of thousands of experiences which it had on earth. Here it attempts to determine its new incarnation, new environment, new society, new possibilities, new aim and new vision for its earthly journey. When the determination is complete, it goes to the Supreme. The soul reveals everything to the Supreme and with His kind approval, it enters into the world again. It comes with new hope, new life, new determination and new willpower to unveil its inner potentialities and at the same time, to manifest the Divine in the most beautiful and most fulfilling way. The soul tries to bring all the gifts and achievements of its own previous evolution into play for this fullest possible manifestation.

Each birth and each death has a special significance. Through each birth and death, the sempiternal life gains a special experience in its cosmic game. They say that we die only once, but this is not true. At every moment an ardent aspirant feels that he has had a death and a new life. The soul is moving from one momentary experience to another. The moment we go beyond the barrier of ignorance, the realm of ignorance, we die. Why? Because we are born into a new world of inner wisdom. When we go beyond the realm-boundaries of ignorance, we actually enter into the realm of light and peace, and that is what we call dying at every moment and having a new birth.

When I, as an aspirant, go up, what do I do? I go towards my self-realisation. When God, the Divine within me, enters into the world, He goes towards His Self-Manifestation. Humanity is the fertile soil to grow Divinity. Divinity discovers its unique truth only in humanity. And when humanity is transformed radically and integrally, we will have a life of perfect Perfection. This will be the integral and absolute transformation which mankind dreams of, a transformation of the body, the vital, the mind and the heart. Later will come the total transformation of society. In that Golden Hour, death is bound to leave us for good.

Immortality will breathe in us and through us perpetually. Let us all concentrate on that Golden Hour.

Question: In your talk about death, you mentioned something that I would like you to elaborate on a little more. I understand that you asked yourself a question. You said, "Why does the physical body die?" And then, in answering that question, you mentioned that the time would come when the physical body would last indefinitely. Will you please explain that a little further?

Sri Chinmoy: Our span of life on earth is short. In India, it is forty or fifty years. Here in the West, it is seventy or eighty. In this span of seventy or eighty years, we do not have time to fulfil even our ordinary desires, let alone our aspirations. The physical body has to aspire for the spiritual life and it cannot do it even for a week steadily. Today I am aspiring and praying with the physical body; tomorrow I become a victim of inertia. I don't get up in the morning to meditate because the body does not want to. The body disappoints me and becomes a stumbling block. It does not aspire continuously, not to speak of aspiring divinely. As soon as the body starts praying or meditating, immediately it thinks of the office, the children, the wife, the house. I mean, of course, that the physical mind thinks of all this. But a day will come when the body will try unceasingly to bring down higher and higher truth, light and peace from above. This is what an aspirant will do, not an ordinary man. This light, peace and power will permeate even the physical body and the physical consciousness. When our physical bodies are surcharged with the higher light, peace and power, there will be an abiding spiritual truth even in the most physical movements. At every moment, there will be a continuous flow of light and joy towards the Absolute, towards the Ultimate; a flow without interruptions. Right now the body does not have even an iota of light or bliss. But through conscious aspiration the body will have everlasting light. When the body has that everlasting light, naturally it will be the light that gives Life. When divine light permeates the entire body, we will be able to stay on earth indefinitely. At that time, we will have the opportunity to conquer death consciously.

Now we have to live and sometimes we wish we didn't have to be here. But when the body is transformed, we will not feel a reluctant compulsion to live, but only that a divine opportunity has been given to us to go to the Highest. We shall also feel that this opportunity extends for a long period of time. This, you see, is the blessing that you get by invoking higher bliss and light. And once this light enters into us, it gives us lasting Reality. This Reality is actually the breath of the Life Eternal, Perpetual Existence. Then the question of death does not arise because if you continue to aspire consciously and soulfully for two hundred years or so for the highest light and highest bliss, and also if it is done uninterruptedly, then the problem of death cannot exist. At present, we meditate for one day and then we take a holiday for ten days.

Question: You see, Guru, as for me, I am not interested in remaining too long in this physical body. I am sincere in this. It is just a question of discussing the possibilities of having the body last longer than it usually lasts. Now I have read in oriental books that there are souls who have remained in the same physical body for two hundred, three hundred and more years.

Sri Chinmoy: Why only in the Orient? In the Occident also there are such souls.

An old friend of mine is close to ninety years of age. We were talking about this subject and he said, "Well, I am not in a hurry to die because I know that I have to come back. So if I have to return, I would rather stay here."

Sri Chinmoy: The question is, "Is he enjoying the world or is he thinking of God and trying to realise God?" If your friend wants to remain on earth only to enjoy himself, then let him enjoy himself to his heart's content.

He wants to learn; he wants to grow spiritually.

Sri Chinmoy: Then it is a different matter altogether. Then it is better for him to remain in his present body. But without aspiration, if anybody wants to stay indefinitely, then it is sheer stupidity.

Question: Well, I don't know of anybody in the West. At least for the past one hundred years. But in the East, in India and other parts of the East, Tibet and so forth, I have read about souls that have remained in the same physical body for several hundred years.

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, there are some who have achieved the inner realisation, spiritual realisation. At the same time, on the strength of that inner realisation, they want to continue to live. They say that their only wish is to remain on earth. They do not take an active part in earthly activities; they stay in the Himalayan caves or in unknown or obscure places. They do not want to work for the world.

Now there are other souls who are not spiritually realised but who live for an indefinite period of time. They have somehow made friends with Nature. They do not have any high realisation, nothing of the sort. Only they have become children of Nature, Mother-Earth. All of us here are not children of Nature. Although we see Nature all around us, we are not identified with Nature. In us the mind is working unceasingly and this mind is sophisticated and unlit. This mind is the product of the outer world. But in their case, there is no mind at all. It is all Nature within them and outside them. They are like little children. Their whole existence is composed of a spontaneous oneness with Nature. So in them Nature becomes perpetual, Nature plays unceasingly. True, these people live for hundreds of years, but they are not realised persons.

Question: But in connection with the average body, the physical body, is it possible for the body to renew itself indefinitely? To rejuvenate itself and thus last indefinitely?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, it is possible and it depends upon how fast the seeker is progressing spiritually. At the same time, even if he is running at top speed, still the goal is very, very far away. And at that time, we have to have unending patience.

Another difficulty at the present time, is that our present physical bodies are not responsive enough to the inner forces which are trying to express themselves when we progress inwardly. These forces want to express themselves in the outer physical being as well as in the inner being. As our inner spiritual life develops, the body could also become more luminous, strong, beautiful and divine. But the trouble is that the body tends to become rigid and crystallised as it gets old, and while the soul is trying to express itself more powerfully through the physical, the body resists. The inner being is becoming more divinely illumined, wise and vast, but the physical vehicle, the body, does not receive the vastness, wisdom and illumination. On the contrary, its growth is cramped. It is like a plant which becomes too big for the clay pot. Finally the pot cracks. When this happens, the body ceases to serve its purpose and it dies. The soul, as it were, cannot use the outer covering and it throws it off.

The situation cannot remain like this. We do not have to die. If we can make our bodies plastic, flexible, responsive instruments, sensitive to the growth of the soul, our bodies will be divinely transformed. Both the inner life and the outer life will march hand in hand. They will be the glowing and growing embodiments of a never-ending light, beauty and power. The body can be immortal just as the soul is. What happens now is that there is in almost everyone a hiatus between the progressive will of the soul and the stagnation of the physical sheath. When the outer sheath is about to be disintegrated or destroyed, it says, "I will go." And the soul says, "Go," for it knows that it cannot fulfil itself in this limited physical body. The body has become an impediment to the soul's manifestation. This is why the body dies.

But we can prolong the life of the physical body. We shall save ourselves much trouble if we do that. For our ultimate aim is to be immortal, to progress eternally in one body and work unconditionally for the Supreme.

Otherwise what happens is that at the age of seventy or eighty I die. Then after a few years when I come back into the world, I have to spend eighteen or twenty years, if not forty or fifty years, in ignorance, limitation and bondage. Moreover, during my childhood and youth, I am forced to become once more all that the ordinary ignorance-filled world is. But if I can continue in my present body and complete the game of realising the Reality, then I don't have to suffer any delay.

Question: Please explain if a desire to live can keep a body alive even though the body is diseased.

Sri Chinmoy: It can, but determination must be present as well as desire. Desire is good; but behind desire there should be determination and behind determination there should be the soul's power, the soul's will. Otherwise, just by desiring, it is not possible to prolong one's life. There are many people who are suffering from diseases, and who do not want to die. They have an intense desire to live. But desire alone is only the first step. A further step is the determination to fight up to the last moment. "I won't die, I won't die, I want to stay, I want to stay on earth. I cannot die." This is to be done with determination. Now beyond determination is the soul's Willpower. At this point you say, "I know I am not the body. I am the soul. How can I die?" With that soulful attitude, you can easily succeed.

But we can start with desire. Desire is the first step. The second step is determination. The last step is the soul's Willpower. Normally, people do not want to die. Everybody wants to live. Then why do they die? I explained at great length why people die. The physical body is unable to make further progress. Instead of becoming a pliable instrument of the soul, the body hardens and breaks down. It is full of defects and limitations, and these defects and limitations increase as the years go by. Finally, when the body can no longer support and manifest outwardly the wishes of the soul, it dies. At the present time, we may not be able to divinise our human bodies by bringing into them the divine light, peace and power. But if we draw on the soul's Willpower and utilise it, we can prolong our lives. It is for the soul alone that we should and must live. When we meditate on the soul, we help our bodies with the soul's divine Energy and Will.

A talk to the disciples of the Sri Chinmoy Centre in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on January 24, 1971, in which the Master answers his own questions on meditation and then invites questions from the disciples.

What is meditation? Meditation is man's self-transcendence.

What does meditation mean? Meditation means man's inner achievement and his outer fulfilment.

Why do I have to meditate? You have to meditate because you need self-mastery.

Should I meditate to develop my intellect? No, you should meditate to develop your intuition.

What is the best time for meditation? 3 a.m. is the best time for meditation. That is called the Hour of God, the Brahma Muhurta. At that hour, the cosmic gods and goddesses start to perform their heavenly duties at the express command of the Supreme. At that divine hour, you too can begin your inner journey.

I need peace. Please tell me if there is any special time for me to meditate on peace. Early in the evening, between six and seven, is the best time to meditate on peace. Nature, as it offers its salutations to the setting sun, will inspire you, comfort you and help you in achieving peace.

I need power. Then meditate at twelve noon. The blazing sun and the most dynamic hour of the day will help you.

I need joy. Then meditate early in the morning between five and six. Mother-Earth, with her sweetest love, will help you.

I need patience. Then meditate in the evening. Meditate sitting at the foot of a tree. Meditate on the tree. its sacrificing consciousness will help you.

I need love. Then meditate at midnight, looking at your own picture. Your Inner Pilot will help you.

I need purity. Then meditate on your incoming breath and your outgoing breath early in the morning before you leave your bed. Your soul will help you.

Now I wish all of you to meditate for five minutes. After that, I wish you to ask me any questions on meditation. Your questions should be framed in one or two short sentences, please.

Question: When I meditate, there is something that holds me back so that I cannot meditate.

Sri Chinmoy: The thing that holds you back is fear and this fear has no meaning at all. If you want the wealth which the ocean holds deep inside itself, you have to dive within. Fear and wealth don't go together. Only if you have inner courage, can you receive the inner wealth. It is fear of the unknown and the unknowable that prevents you from diving deep within. But what is unknowable today becomes merely unknown tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, it becomes known. The vastness of truth can never destroy you. It can only embrace and fulfil you.

Question: When I start to go deep within, I feel sleepy.

Sri Chinmoy: It is not sleep; you are making a mistake there. While you are meditating, your mind is entering into the world of calmness and silence. There you don't have to create any movement or be dynamic. This world of silence is not the ordinary sleep where one becomes totally unconscious. On the contrary, it is a very good state. Try only to grow into that state with utmost sincerity, humility and devotion.

However, if meditation proper has not taken place, if you are merely preparing to meditate and you feel sleepy; it means that inertia and sloth are present. But if it is after a good meditation that this feeling comes, it is not sleep at all. You are entering into the world of silence and mistaking it for sleep.

Question: While meditating, I feel some forces in the Ajna Chakra and in the heart centre that transform my face and my physical. What are these forces?

Sri Chinmoy: These are the divine forces that are trying to transform your physical nature and your physical outlook. So when you meditate seriously, the Ajna Chakra is activated by the Eye of vision. There the divine forces are working to bring into the body the vision of the luminous future, the reality of the Beyond. And when you are concentrating on the heart centre, the Anahata, they are trying to make you identify yourself with the vision of reality which is knocking at your door. This reality embraces the divine luminosity, divine power and divine consciousness which is your soul's birthright.

Question: How do I know that while meditating, I am entering into a higher plane and it is not just my imagination?

Sri Chinmoy: There is a very easy way to know. If you are actually entering into a higher plane, you will feel that your body is becoming very light. Although you don't have wings, you will feel that you can fly. In fact, when you have reached a very high world, you will actually see a bird inside you that can easily fly in the sky as real birds do.

But when it is your imagination, you will get a very sweet feeling for a few minutes, and then immediately dark or frustrating thoughts will come into you. You will say, "I studied so hard, but I did not do well in my examination." Or "I worked so hard in the office today, but I could not please my boss." These negative forces in the form of frustration will immediately come in. But if it is really a high meditation, you will feel that your whole existence, like a divine bird, is going up and flying; flying high into the sky. While feeling this, there is no sad thought, no negative thought, no frustrating thought. It is all joy, all bliss, all peace. You are flying in the skies of delight. When it is imagination, you may get joy for a few fleeting moments and then doubt enters in. You may in fact say, "How can I meditate so well? Yesterday I did so many wrong things; I told so many lies. How can God be pleased with me? How can I be having such a high meditation?" This is no meditation. But when it is truly a high meditation, it is pure joy with no questions and no doubts; only the soul-bird flying in the sky of delight.

Question: Master, during my meditation, I see a triangle of pure, white light behind you that covers your head. What does this mean?

Sri Chinmoy: When you see this light, it is a very good experience. The triangle here represents three of my inner qualities in the form of light. You are seeing my consciousness in the form of light, my bliss in the form of light and my power in the form of light: Consciousness, Delight and Power in the form of a luminous triangle.

Question: How can I purify my mind so that I can have a good meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: In your case, the best thing to do is to feel every day for a few minutes that you have no mind. Say, "I have no mind, I have no mind. What I have is the heart." Then after some time, say, "No I don't have the heart. What I have is the soul."

You have to know that the mind is almost always impure, bringing in dark and bad thoughts; even when it is not doing this, it is still a victim to doubt, jealousy, hypocrisy, fear and all that. All negative things first attack the mind. You may reject them for a minute, but again they knock at your door. This is the mind. But the heart is much, much purer. Even if you have fear or jealousy in the heart, the good qualities of the heart come forward. Affection, love, devotion, surrender and other divine qualities are already there in the heart. That is why the heart is much purer than the mind. But again, the heart is not totally pure because the vital being is around the heart. The lower vital, situated near the navel, tends to come up and touch the heart centre. It makes the heart impure by its influence and proximity. But at least the heart is not like the mind, which is always opening its door to impure ideas. The heart is far better than the mind. But the best is the soul. In it there is no impurity. It is all purity, light, bliss and divinity. You must say, "I have the soul."

When you say, "I have no mind," this does not mean that you are becoming an animal again. Far from it. You are only saying, "I don't care for this mind which is bringing me so much impurity and torturing me so much." When you say, "I have the heart," you feel that the heart has purity, not abundantly, but it has purity. But when you say, "I have the soul," you are flooded with purity. Then after some time, you have to go deeper and farther by saying, not only, "I have the soul," but "I am the soul." The moment you say "I am the soul", and you meditate on this truth, your soul's infinite purity will come up and enter into the heart. Then from the heart, the infinite purity will enter into the mind. So when you say "I am the soul," you will purify your mind and your heart and you will have a wonderful meditation every day.

Question: When I am meditating, I feel my head expanding and I feel that something is pounding the top of my head.

Sri Chinmoy: You get pressure on your head? Two seemingly contradictory things are happening. On the one hand, you say that your head is expanding; this is the purified consciousness that is expanding in your mind. On the other hand, the impure thoughts, the impure consciousness wants to pull down light from above by force. When they do so, they feel a heavy pressure. When the pure forces in us want to pull down something from above, there is no pressure. Why? Because what happens is this: When our little divinity looks up and invites the highest Divinity to enter, it sees its oneness with the Highest like a child who sees its father. The child is not afraid because he knows that it is his own father. He knows that he has very little strength, but his father is his very own. He has no fear. He calls his father and his father comes to him. But if he invites someone else's father, he may be afraid of that person, even though he is calling him. He may fear that that man will show him an angry face and say "Why did you call me?" This fear he has because he is not the son of that father. That is to say, the father and the son are not of the same origin. The son sees someone unfamiliar, so he experiences a kind of uneasiness and fear.

Now similarly, when impure thoughts invite the highest Divinity to descend, the Divinity is ready to come, but the impure thoughts are afraid because they think they will be crushed. At best they do not get any familiar feeling. But our divine thoughts, our pure thoughts, do get a familiar feeling when they see the Divinity coming down in abundant measure. It is the undivine in us that is always afraid of the Divine even though at times it wants to see the Divine. Observing that the Divine is foreign and strange, the undivine feels uneasy and experiences a severe pressure on the head.

Question: During my meditation, there is a very strong sound and within that sound, there are thousands of sounds.

Sri Chinmoy: Here you have to know that this sound you hear is the sound of the inner Divinity, and inside this Divinity, all the time, Infinity is growing. The first sound is the Source, the cosmic sound. Inside that is the infinite manifestation of sound. The first sound is the cosmic vibration, Anahata we call it, the soundless sound. Then inside this sound, you will hear an infinite number of sounds because from the Divine One, many have come.

God was One. He wanted to divinely divide Himself up and thus enjoy Himself in multiple forms. That is why we are now here on earth.

Now, this soundless sound that you hear within contains within itself the creation. That is why there are other sounds that you hear inside it. Those inner sounds are vibrating and offering you the manifestation inside your consciousness. The multiple sounds are the sounds of identification with the universe, with the manifestation. The first sound is the Source of realisation, the Highest. The other ones are the sounds of the infinite manifestation.

Question: When I meditate and I force myself to go deep within, something inside me accuses me of trying to reach God for myself and not for God's sake.

Sri Chinmoy: Well, you have to know that that thing inside you is absolutely right. Your soul, your purest soul, will always tell you that if you want to realise God, it has to be to please God and not to please yourself. I have been constantly telling people that if they want to realise God in their own way, it is useless. Of course that is better than not wanting to realise God at all. Millions and billions of people are sleeping and snoring, spiritually. At least the people who want God for themselves are not sleeping. But you have to know why these people want to please God. Why? Because they feel that God will then give them something to make them happier. Now they are unhappy. They feel if they please God, He will use His power to make them happy.

But the real aspirant says, "I don't want happiness, I don't want anything. I only want what God gives me. I love Him wholeheartedly; it is His business to make me happy or to make me miserable, to give me joy or to give me frustration. I want to please Him in His own way. If He wants to give me all kinds of problems, if that is His Will, then let Him give me millions of problems. I shall shoulder them and remain happy. But if He wants me to be free of problems, so that I can think of Him and meditate on Him all the time, then I shall be equally happy."

A real seeker will try to please God in God's own way. He will say: "If God wants me to be in perpetual hell, I will remain there because that is what He wants. But if He wants me to be in the Transcendental Heaven all the time, that is where I shall be." A real devotee, a real disciple will say: "Master, Thy Will be done and not mine; never."

Question: Very frequently when I start my meditation, I feel a vibration as if I were a motor. This vibration starts going up into my head and then my head more or less falls, as though I am falling asleep. When I try to wake up, the vibration returns.

Sri Chinmoy: When you are meditating, you have to feel that energy is coming from your heart centre right into your mind. And then, when the energy comes up into your mind, you must feel that you are not falling down or falling into sleep. At that time your soul's light is coming forward and touching the mind. The soul urges, and indeed compels the mind to surrender to the soul's light. In your case, when the soul enters into the mind and convinces it to surrender to the divine light, your mind actually does surrender for a short period of time. The mind is convinced of the light that the soul has given it. But what happens is that, unfortunately, you bring the mind forward again. That means that you don't want to keep your surrender to the soul's light constant. First the mind bows to the soul's light and then after a few minutes, the mind wants to regain its supremacy. If the surrender is complete, the mind remains silent in a divine way. And that is what the soul wants for the time being.

Later, when you find you are getting boundless joy, the soul will tell you to come back to the mind's original plane, but this time, because the soul has been pumping light, light, light into the mind, the mind will be surcharged and flooded with the soul's light. At that time, if the soul tells you to do something or I tell you to do something, immediately your mind will jump to do it. At the present time, the mind does not jump and run at the soul's command because it sees the higher light for only ten minutes; then for two hours it wants its own limited knowledge. But if you remain in the soul during your meditation as long as your soul wants, then the mind will be surcharged with light. And then the soul says to the mind: "Now you can go back to your own plane. You are now well protected, you are now illumined, you are now safe."

You drive your car to the gas station and when the tank is full immediately you drive the car away. So in the spiritual life, once the mind surrenders to the light of the soul, it is filled with soul's boundless light. You can then use the mind divinely whenever you want to. So allow the mind to remain in the soul's light until the soul says, "Now, mind, you can go home because you are safe. You are safe because you feel that you are from the divine light and for the divine light."

Question: Always when I try to go beyond the mind, it says, "No, carry me with you. I want to go there, too."

Sri Chinmoy: That is a very good thing, when the mind tells you to carry it with you. But you have to know what "you" means. At that time, "you" means your intense aspiration. You have become one with your aspiration and inside your aspiration, what looms large is your soul. When you have become one with your soul, you try to go beyond the mind. Now at that time, if the mind says, "Please carry me," you have to ascertain whether the mind is asking devotedly or with a kind of demand, such as this: "I have helped you all this time and now you are going beyond me. You have to take me with you." If it is this demanding mind that wants to be carried with you into the regions of the soul, it is very bad. If it goes there, it will only create problems for you it will say, "No, no, this place is very unpleasant. Come down, come down. We experienced much more happiness down there. Come down." But if it is the devoted mind that wants to go with you to the Transcendental Beyond, it will not create any problems for you. It will cry for illumination and transformation along with you.

To the demanding mind, you have to say, "No, you have created enough problems for me and now if I go into a room that is all light, you will extinguish the light and make me dark again. You will create problems for me no matter where I go. If I go to heaven, you will create hell for me there."

But the devoted mind will be ready to accept the light. True, it has created problems for you in the past. Around you is darkness, the mind has created darkness and you are in darkness. But this time the devoted mind says, "I have tortured you for a long time. I am very sorry. Forgive me. Now I want to go to the place where you are going. I want to share the light with you. I, too, want to grow into the light. I, too, want to become a conscious instrument of the light."

Question: Are fifteen or twenty minutes enough for meditation, or should I spend an hour?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on you. If you are able to meditate for more than fifteen minutes, then please do so. But it has to be absolutely sincere and soulful. To sit for an hour just to show that you can meditate for an hour will be a mistake. The soul will not be there. You may meditate for five hours, but the meditation will not give you any joy. It will not be fruitful at all. If a person can meditate for fifteen minutes most soulfully, and after that, if he feels that he has the capacity to continue, then he can continue. But if he doesn't have the capacity and just wants to make himself feel that he can meditate for an hour, it will be a waste of time. In your case, I know your capacity. You can easily meditate for more than fifteen minutes. Without any difficulty you can meditate for half an hour. After that you can stop. Certainly you can meditate for more than fifteen minutes.

Question: Please tell me if I am right. Meditation is the easiest thing in the world when we think of the Supreme with devotion, surrender and pure love.

Sri Chinmoy: You are absolutely right. Meditation is the easiest thing on earth because our inner divinity has not only the capacity or the quality of meditation, but practises it at every moment. Now whatever I do constantly will naturally be the easiest for me to do. Otherwise how can I do it at every moment? So when you are identified with your inner divinity, you will see that meditation is being constantly done for you. It is being done within you and for you, and if you are identified with the inner divine entity which is doing it, then meditation is very, very easy. Otherwise it is most difficult, for the mind will tell you during your meditation, "I am allowing a stranger to enter into me." The vital will say, "I am entering into an alien world." The physical will say, "You are trying to make me think that I am a fool. I still want to enjoy the world. I don't need your heaven."

All this happens when you are not identified with your inmost divinity. But if you are identified, you can truthfully and spontaneously say that meditation is the easiest thing in the world because in meditation reality grows and the life of creation flows.

Question: When I meditate, I enter into the inner world and if certain good vibrations help me, I see things which materialise in the outer world in a few months. Should I try to transcend this?

Sri Chinmoy: You actually enter into the soul's world and see these things which materialise a few months later. No, you don't have to transcend this. There is no necessity. However, you should be aware of whether or not you are crying to know these things. If you are meditating with a view to finding out what is going to happen in the future, then you do have to transcend this. If you say during your meditation, "O God, tell me what is going to happen to my husband or my son," then it is a mistake. But if you are not curious and are always trying to go deep within to have a serious, profound meditation, if that is your aim, then I can say that God wants to show you these things for a divine purpose. He wants to show you the future; He wants to give you these experiences. You must not try to transcend these experiences because, in this case, it is God's Will that you are fulfilling and not your own desire.

Question: At times during meditation, I feel that the physical heart stops for a few seconds and then it resumes beating.

Sri Chinmoy: When you feel that the physical heart stops, this is a very good experience, but you must not be afraid of it. What does it mean? Only that the physical in you has totally surrendered to the spiritual in you. You won't die at all. In the spiritual life, many Masters, in order to enter into the higher regions during meditation, consciously stop their heartbeat. When I was a boy of fourteen or fifteen, I tried this and then I did it many times. My first experience was at the foot of a mango tree. In front of our dining hall in the ashram there was a garden, and in that garden there was a mango tree. I used to go there and meditate when I was fourteen or fifteen years old. One day, while meditating, I said to myself, "The Yogis are able to stop their hearts. Let me see if I can do it. Is it true or not? I may suffer a little or I may die. If I suffer or die, no harm." I stopped my heart and then went on meditating for twenty minutes or half an hour. Nothing happened.

But only Yogis and spiritual Masters can do this. Out of His infinite Compassion, God has given you a glimpse of this experience. You should be very happy and proud. Then when you become a Yogi, it is up to you whether to stop your heartbeat and then meditate. What it means is that the physical has totally ceased and the spiritual is reigning supreme. At that moment, you do not need the physical. At the present time, the physical being is ruling the spiritual. But when the heart is stopped, it is the spiritual which is ruling the physical and at that time, we become consciously one with God.

Question: How many times should one meditate daily?

Sri Chinmoy: As I said in my talk, you have to know what you want. If you want the specific divine qualities that I mentioned, peace, power, joy, etc., then you can meditate at those particular hours. Again, if you want to meditate only once a day and you want power, for example, but cannot meditate at noon, no harm. You can knock at God's door at any hour of the day or night and He will give you whatever you want: peace, light, love, bliss or power. But at those particular hours that I mentioned, it becomes easier. Everything has its own time. Early in the morning you eat your breakfast. At least you call that meal "breakfast." But if you prefer to eat that food in the evening, you can easily do so. It is nourishing food and that is why you can take it in the evening even though you call it breakfast.

So let me come back to your question: how many times a day should you meditate? Please remember what I said in answer to Vijaya's question. How many minutes can you meditate soulfully? That is the most important thing. If you can say that you can meditate devotedly for fifteen minutes and during those fifteen minutes you are sincerely crying for peace or light or bliss, then your meditation will be purposeful. If you are crying for Divine power, the power that will give you the inner strength to fight against ignorance, God will give it to you. Human power breaks, Divine power builds. Human power tries to possess and crush; Divine power tries to enlarge you, expand you and free you from the fetters of ignorance. So you can decide for yourself how many minutes you can meditate devotedly without being interrupted by the doubting mind, by the suspecting mind, by the unlit mind. If after some minutes of pure meditation, the mind starts functioning and disturbing you, you can say, "Let me stop now. It is useless to go on. I shall start again later when everything is pure and fresh." So you will meditate as long as you can do so soulfully, devotedly and divinely. It need not be four or six times a day. People who meditate six times a day are not more spiritual than you people who meditate once a day most soulfully. Some people think, "Oh, God will be very pleased with us if we meditate five or six times a day!" It is not so. Meditate for fifteen minutes or half an hour, twice a day, morning and evening. That is more than enough for you at the present development of your consciousness.

Question: Master, what is the difference between meditation and inner concentration?

Sri Chinmoy: Concentration is one-pointed; it is one-pointed awareness. It does not look forward or backward or sideways. Inner concentration tries to penetrate the veil of ignorance, so that ignorance is totally conquered.

In meditation, you have to feel that you are consciously trying to enter into the infinite expanse of consciousness. Everything here is finite. Everything there is Eternal, Immortal. When you are in a high meditation, you do not concentrate on anything. At that time, you only throw yourself into the Infinite vast of light, peace and bliss. You throw yourself into Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. Concentration is one-pointed. If concentration is aimed at ignorance, it tries to destroy ignorance. If it is aimed at knowledge, it tries to enter into the very breath of knowledge.

Question: How do we start meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: In this world, we do everything because we have a love for it. We do things for human beings, for our relatives, our children, because we love them. We acquire skills because we have a keen interest in them. If we feel that we have a real love for meditation, then we can easily meditate. We have to grow within us a love for meditation. Meditation is not an object it is a subject. We enjoy studying history because we have a love for knowing about the great events of the world and the great figures of history. Similarly, if we have a real love for God, then we will do the thing that is necessary to love Him. We will start meditating.

You asked how we can start meditating. It is by a spontaneous love for God. You don't need any specific meditation now. Only ask yourself the question, "Do I love God?" Don't ask, "Does He love me?" It is your business to feel within yourself whether you love Him or not. Then you should answer with a "Yes" or a "No." If you say "Yes," then ask yourself further: "How can I prove that I love Him? What can I do for Him? The proof is my self-sacrifice. Every day I shall sacrifice my life-breath to Him." And when you feel that you are ready consciously to sacrifice your life-breath to God, devotedly and spontaneously, then I tell you that your meditation has started.

Question: Sometimes after meditation I touch things and find that they are not solid; they are fluid. They lose their solid state.

Sri Chinmoy: Actually they do not lose their solid state. After your deep meditation, when you touch a wall or some other solid object, you feel that it is soft and that you can even bend it. But you have to know what has happened to your consciousness at that time. After meditation you are totally relaxed and very peaceful. Your identification with the consciousness of the wall has also become most intense and intimate. Because your own consciousness is soft and yielding, you feel that the wall is also bending. Your own consciousness, in fact, has entered into the solid wall. As it is very light, relaxed and soulful, naturally, anything your consciousness touches will get its very own vibration.

To give you an analogy, when I touch someone from my highest consciousness, that person may not be in his highest consciousness. His mind may be roaming here or there. But if I consciously identify myself with that person, immediately he gets my consciousness even though one minute before that, he was like a solid wall spiritually. So I touch him and give him peace, light and bliss. On the strength of my identification with him, that person receives my own divine consciousness.

So when you have come out of a deep meditation and touch something, you will feel your own consciousness in that solid thing. You will see that the solid object is accepting you, embracing you. It has opened its heart's door to become one with you.

Question: When meditating, inside I feel very strong and outside I feel very soft. But as I go deeper, I start expanding.

Sri Chinmoy: That is wonderful. You feel strong inside because you bring down divine peace, bliss and light into you. The more you consciously and devotedly bring down from above these divine forces, the stronger you become inwardly. You will feel that these things from above are helping you to expand your consciousness.

Now outwardly you are feeling soft, you say. It is not actually softness. It is the inner peace and inner confidence that grow in your outer being. One who is outwardly strong, like a great boxer or a great sovereign, has inside him infinite confidence and great peace because he fears no one. Inside his confidence, he is totally relaxed. In great power, there is quietude. But if a person is not very strong, he clenches his fists and gets ready to defend himself for he feels that his enemy is right in front of him. He has to show that he can fight with him. But when one has boundless inner strength, one does not have to display it outwardly. He doesn't have to clench his fists. He is relaxed because his inner strength has given him inner confidence. He is like a divine hero. At any moment, he can defeat the enemy or surmount any obstruction outside himself. He is relaxed because he knows that whoever is in front of him is no match for him. The more inner confidence we have, the more we can outwardly relax.

Question: Master, you said before, "Let Thy Will be done and not my will." Therefore, is it better for us not to try to help other people by our own small will?

Sri Chinmoy: I am very glad you have asked this question. Normally while we are trying to help someone, we are not helping him at all. We are only creating more problems and more complications for him. Always, the greatest and the best spiritual disciples try to please God in God's own way. Otherwise there is no benefit in helping others. You are using your own small will. You try to grab this and grab that and while you are trying to possess someone by helping him, you are yourself possessed.

Another thing that people think is, "Oh, if I do this for the Master, people will see how devoted I am. I will feel that I have really done more than others. Many people will say that I am very devoted." But I must tell you people that the Master will not be pleased. He will be pleased only when the disciple pleases him in his own way. I often tell someone to do something and he immediately says, "Oh no, how can I do that? What will people think of me? What will society think of me? What will humanity think of me?" At that time, he is pleasing himself, he is pleasing society, but he is not pleasing the Divine within him, the Supreme within him. If you are going to please God, or the Master who represents God, everything has to go: society, morality, friends, relatives, members of the family. Everything has to go if you want to please your Master who represents God. You think, "I have pleased the Master because I have done this and that for him." But the Master only smiles. Naturally if you give me a blade of grass or a flower, I will give you a smiling face. You have given me something, but it is something I didn't want at that time. At that moment, I didn't want a flower. Perhaps I asked you to cook for me or do something that seemed absolutely meaningless to you. Perhaps I asked you to read the newspaper to see what was happening in the world atmosphere. You thought that by bringing me a flower, you would make me happy. I say, "No, at this particular moment, I want you to read the newspaper and tell me what is happening in Rome or Germany." So if you want to please me by doing what I asked, then naturally, as I am identified with God, I immediately say, "God, he has pleased me." If you please the Highest with all love, all affection, all concern, how can the Highest, the Dearest and the Deepest create problems for you? Even in the ordinary life, when you please someone according to your capacity, that person comes to help you, comes to your aid. But if you please the person the way he wanted to be pleased, naturally he will give you much more, beyond your expectation. And when you please a spiritual Master, who is one with God, then naturally infinite joy, infinite peace, infinite bliss will be yours because he is dealing with Infinity. He is not dealing with society or friends or relatives. He deals with infinite peace, light and bliss.

If you want to remain in the Source, if you want the Eternal and the Infinite, then try to please the Master in his own way. To please the Master is to please God. Otherwise, to feel that the Master is someone and God is someone else is to make a terrible mistake. The disciples must always see inside the Master the living presence of God. If he fails to see God inside the Master, he is not a disciple. He is simply fooling himself; he is creating a barrier between himself and the Master and between himself and God. He is not fit to be a disciple. What more can I say?

Question: When I meditate, I see within and without that everything is alive and has millions of patterns. I see something like a Living Presence in everything.

Sri Chinmoy: This is absolutely true. This is a very high kind of meditation because inside everything is God. And where God is present, life is bound to be present. Life and God can never be separated. Where there is life, there is God and where there is God, there is life. It is a wonderful experience.

Now you see infinite patterns. Inside one thing you are seeing many varieties. Here the One is being expressed in many forms and many patterns. Look at a lotus flower. It is one flower, but it is expressed or manifested by many petals, by the leaves, the stem and the pollen. In one lotus you see the manifestation of reality through various forms. You touch one particular part of the lotus, the leaf, for example, and you say, "This is the lotus." Then you touch another part, the stem, and again you say, "This is the lotus." God is there in all parts of the flower; that is why you feel that each part is the whole. God is present wherever life exists. God is endless in expression. He is endless in manifestation.

Question: When I meditate, I start repeating my name a hundred times as you told me to do. But I lose track of the count, so I have to go back and start counting again.

Sri Chinmoy: When you are counting your name, count up to fifty most soulfully. Soon you will be in another world: the world of the soul's divinity. Take some rest. Then you can start counting again. Suppose you make a mistake in your counting. Pay no attention to it. Or suppose you lose track of the number. Do not be worried. You have to understand why I ask you to count. When you count, you separate your consciousness from other things. If you are saying, "Mangal, Mangal," at that time you will not be thinking of someone else or something else. So once you start counting and you begin to feel that you are meditating only on yourself, saying, "Mangal, Mangal," your consciousness will be focussed on your divine qualities. Then if you should enter into another world, whether it is the world of sleep or a world of silence, you don't have to count at all. If you have already entered into a deep meditation while you are counting, then forget about the number of the count completely.

When a runner begins a race, when he is about to run, he is full of conscious awareness. He has to be in the right position when the starter fires the gun. The runner's hands, knees and feet all have to be in the right place. But when he is in motion, running at top speed, he cannot think of his movements. He does everything automatically.

In the beginning, you have to be conscious. When you start a vehicle, you have to mesh the gears and press various levers and pedals. But when the car is under control and going at full speed, you don't think of all the things you have to do. They are simply done spontaneously. Similarly when you are deep inside the consciousness of your soul's name, you don't have to count. The runner is running. He doesn't think whether he is placing his legs properly on the ground. He just runs. He does not look back. He looks forward. Lo, he reaches his goal. Indeed, each seeker is a divinely inspired runner, running consciously and speedily toward the Goal of the Beyond.

Question: Why is it that sometimes when a person is apparently making fairly good inner progress in the spiritual life and aspiring very well, we seem to not always see a real reflection of this? Sometimes the outer life does not seem to reflect the progress made. Or is this just an illusion?

Sri Chinmoy: The thing is that there are two worlds, the inner world and the outer world. If someone is making real progress in the inner world, then his progress is bound to be shown in the outer life also. It is a matter of time. Sometimes it happens that you are under the impression that the person in question is making a certain amount of inner spiritual progress, but it might not be so at all. There are many times, we have seen, when people make a show, a parade, of what they think is their inner progress. Without having any sincerity, they will appear to meditate well in a group or work hard with others for a joint cause. First of all, an aspirant has to know whether he is totally sincere or not. If he is, then he is bound to make real inner progress. When he makes real inner progress, he has to manifest it in the outer world. This inner achievement will have to materialise in his outer life also. It is also a matter of time.

Question: Guru, are there negative forces, or is it just ignorance that we think of as a negative force, things that make us feel bad and things that seem to put obstacles in our way?

Sri Chinmoy: Undoubtedly there are negative forces in us and around us in the cosmos. But, again, the source of these negative forces is ignorance. Now, we can go to the source, but it is very difficult for us to do so, whether the source is the light or the source is the night. To go to the light is extremely difficult. To go to the night is comparatively easier because we are already in the mire of ignorance. But now the source is ignorance and from the source comes the negative force. The negative force means the destruction of one's inner possibilities. The positive force which energises us is the force of our soul. The force which comes from the unconscious level within us is a negative force which will try to destroy all our inner possibilities. So, when there is a thought inside us looming large which says, "You cannot be God's chosen child. Impossible. You have done many things wrong," immediately we have to tell this negative force, "True, I have done quite a few things wrong, but it is none of your business. I am not taking shelter in you. I don't want to be under your wings. I want to be under the protection of the Omnipotent, the Omniscient." This way I can strike back at the negative force. The negative force will tell me that I cannot become the perfect instrument of God, or cannot grow into the very image of God. These two things the negative forces will tell me. The positive force will tell me that I am indeed the chosen instrument of God. Unfortunately, most of us are not aware of it, and we are suffering because of it. Another thing: we are growing into the very image of God because God Himself is evolving in and through us. Rest assured that the positive force will tell us that we are God's chosen children.

Then every day, early in the morning, at least for five minutes, we have to exercise our positive thought, positive will, positive force. What do we mean by positive force? We mean that the truth exists within us and is being realised. Then we try to feel that the truth is already embodied. Finally we try to feel that the truth has to be revealed and manifested in us and through us. Each aspirant has to feel that. Then there can be no negative force to disturb us or destroy our aspiration. Very often we allow the negative forces to attack us. If we don't give them the chance, then the negative forces have to remain thousands of miles away from us.

Now, there is another process. If we constantly harbour good thoughts, divine thoughts, pure thoughts, then the negative forces cannot stay with us. If we cherish undivine thoughts, then the Divine Force cannot enter into us because it knows that the moment it enters into us it will be suffocated. But, unfortunately, human beings get immense pleasure in cherishing undivine thoughts. After cherishing divine thoughts for five minutes, they find it relaxing to cherish undivine thoughts. Now when we can recognise negative forces, that means we are already awakened. For an unaspiring person there is no such thing as either negative or positive forces. He cannot discriminate. And he has already surrendered to the dark forces which are around him most of the time: his fate. Here is the difference between an aspiring soul and an unaspiring soul. An aspiring soul will never surrender to fate; only to his Inner Pilot, the Supreme. But an unaspiring soul will surrender to his fate. What is fate? It is only the obstruction created by limitation. This limitation has come directly from darkness and this darkness is the child of ignorance. So now let us try, all of us, early in the morning, to welcome divine thoughts, divine Purity, divine light, divine truth. Then the negative thoughts, negative ideas, negative forces will not dare to enter into us. Later on, they will not even be willing to appear.

Question: In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna that he should go into battle and fight; but I think we are not supposed to go about harming people. I don't understand how Arjuna could kill people.

Sri Chinmoy: You mean to say that Krishna was very immoral. What kind of spiritual Master was he? He asked his devotee to kill. Krishna asked Arjuna to kill cousins, uncles, etc. You feel that it was a very horrible mistake on the part of a spiritual Master.

Now, first of all, Krishna tried his best to avoid the war. He literally begged the Kauravas to come to some agreement. But they didn't listen to Him. So necessity compelled Krishna to ask Arjuna to fight. What was this supreme necessity? He saw that the evil forces were reigning supreme at that time in the Kaurava family, and they were not opening to the light. He also knew perfectly well that if the so-called outer destruction took place, a new life would dawn. Then, (I am sure you have read the Gita ) in the eleventh chapter Sri Krishna showed His Universal Form to Arjuna. What was He showing? These people were already killed. By whom? Not by Arjuna, but by Krishna Himself. Then He said to Arjuna, "They are already killed. You just become My instrument."

Further, from the spiritual point of view we come to learn that Krishna was not actually destroying them, but was transforming their unlit consciousness so that they could have better lives in their future incarnations. He saw clearly what their future possibilities were.

Morality will never allow you to fight against your nearest and dearest ones, but only this much does morality teach you. Morality cannot see an inch further. If you want to go beyond morality, then you have to obey the express will of the spiritual Master, the divine representative of God. If the spiritual Master asks you to do something, immediately you have to give up all your morality, for he knows what is ultimately best for you and your soul. In order to realise the Highest, if the Highest demands that your moral thoughts and attitudes be changed and transformed, then naturally you have to surrender to the Highest. It is the Highest that can fulfil your life. So you have to know where you stand.

Krishna asked Arjuna to be His instrument because He knew well the spiritual capacities of his disciple. He didn't take just anybody as His instrument. So, if I ask you to do something, and if you think that it is touching your morality, please do not misunderstand me. I shall not ask you to go back to your animal life just to please me. But I may ask you to do something which has been commanded by the Supreme. He knows His cosmic Lila (Play) better than anybody else. Your life has to be totally dedicated and surrendered to one Person, the Inner Pilot, the Supreme. So I wish to tell you that Krishna did the right thing. He saw the future and did absolutely the right thing. In the inner world we see and feel that He had infinite Compassion. He wanted to expedite the evolution of the unawakened, unlit, unprogressive and undivine human beings.

Question: Sometimes in the morning after meditation, I fall into a doze, not a sound sleep. But it doesn't seem to be a conscious meditation. Is this good?

Sri Chinmoy: Unfortunately, it is not a good thing. It is not sleep and at the same time you are not fully awakened. So after you meditate, try to be absolutely dynamic. It means you will not allow sleepiness to enter into you. Before you meditate, try to breathe in a few long breaths and make your whole body energetic. Your dynamic energy will help you enter into meditation. Unfortunately, many disciples don't get enough inspiration to energise them for aspiration. Some days you get inspiration all at once. Other days you don't get any inspiration at all. If the fire is already burning inside, you don't have to do anything. But when there is no fire, what do you do? The best thing is to breathe in, or you can jog a little. Make yourself feel that you are entering into the battlefield where you have to fight against ignorance, doubt, imperfection and death.

It is always better for the aspirants not to meditate while lying down. At least in your case, the time has not come for you to meditate while lying. After you have meditated three or four hours and you want to have a relaxed feeling, you can lie down. But there are some who think that when they lie down, they get abundant inspiration. I wish to tell them that they are only fooling themselves. If you don't want to keep your back erect, no harm, but you have to sit up and be fully alert during your meditation. If it is possible, in the morning before you start meditation, take a small quantity of hot juice or milk, something liquid and hot, before you enter into meditation. Then your whole system will be attuned to the divine energy. That divine energy will take you to the proper plane of meditation in your inner consciousness.

Question: Guru, how is it possible to have both our inner and outer life synchronised so that we feel we are one person? I often feel like I am two people.

Sri Chinmoy: Well, here we have to know that two things cannot be given equal importance. One thing alone has to be given prime importance and that is the inner life. It is from the inner life that we can enter into the Source. So, if you are really satisfied with your aspiration, meditation and contemplation in your inner life, if you are paying true, sincere attention to your inner life, then you are going towards the Source. Whether or not you have outer success, whether you are able to cure a particular client, student or yourself — that is immaterial. Your business is to enter into your own deepest Source. From there you will get your inspiration. In the outer life, you must not care for success. If you care for success, you are acting like a beggar. That does not mean that you will not work. You will deal with your clients and work with them, but, when you care for success, you know that the forces around you will mock at you.

Now you want to become one man, inside and outside. For that I wish you to pay infinitely more attention to the inner life than to the outer life. In the outer life, the world may call you a failure, but in the inner life you will achieve tremendous success. If you want to compete with others and be judged by others, no matter what you achieve in your outer life, you will always feel that someone is doing better than you. In the field of competition, you will always see somebody above you or below you. But, in your case, you really want to be one integral person. Inside, you have to become successful and, if you are truly successful in your inner life, you are bound to get outer success. And you will see that the outer life is a mere replica of your inner life.

Question: Do our past lives have any effect on our present lives?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly, on the whole, we are carrying the past inside us. There is a continuous flow from past to present. As you sow, so shall you reap. Whatever you have done in your past incarnations will be given to you by God in this incarnation as a result. The fruit of karma, I must say, in the case of an ordinary, unaspiring person, is unavoidable.

But I always say, "The past is dust." I say it because the past has not made you what you want to be. If you care for the past, and if you go backward (our race is forward and not backward), perhaps you will see that in one of your incarnations you were a thief or someone abominable. Again, if you enter into one of your past incarnations and see that you were President of the United States at one time, what happens? When you enter into the inner world, you will see that the President was filled with miseries and he was not satisfied. None of this knowledge gives you joy. An aspirant wants inner joy. So, if you enter into the thief incarnation you will be miserable, and in the President incarnation you will also be miserable. When a seeker enters truly into the spiritual path, he has to go forward with his own aspiration, concentration and meditation. If he had actually begun his life of aspiration in one of his previous incarnations, he will usually have started aspiring in his present life at a very young age. If somebody was spiritually sincere in his last life, he will not wait until old age to start his spiritual life of Yoga again.

Now it may happen that circumstances in the new life are bad; the environment is not encouraging. So, he will have to go more slowly and steadily, because he does not get enough help from his parents. But, if he was a great aspirant and did not realise God, then in that case he will come into a very high spiritual family and he will enter early into the spiritual life. Most of the great spiritual Masters entered into very high spiritual families. But God's Play is not bound by any plan and it is also possible that He will send a spiritual Master into a very unaspiring family. When an aspirant enters into the true spiritual life, then the law of karma, if it is his bad karma, can be negated and nullified. Otherwise, the law of karma is really merciless. You have to pay the tax; there is no other way. And only God's infinite Grace can nullify the result of bad karma and expedite the result of good karma. So here the aspirant gets the opportunity to go faster with the help of God's boundless Grace. If one really wants the spiritual life, then by sincere practice every day, one can, to some extent, stand above the law of karma, for God is bound to shower His boundless Grace on the devoted head and heart of the aspirant. But if you are an ordinary man, you have to abide by the law of karma. Fortunately, you are a true aspirant.

Question: How can one increase one's inner drive, one's aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: There are various ways to increase one's inner drive, inner urge. If one is absolutely a beginner and is eager to enter into the spiritual life, then the first thing one has to do is pray to God. His prayers should be very simple, very sincere and spontaneous. Prayer is most effective in the early stages of spiritual life, and it is prayer that will increase the inner urge in a would-be true seeker. At the beginning, when one is just curious or a little bit sincere, we cannot call that person a real seeker. If one is a step ahead in the spiritual realm, he will not be satisfied with the rest of the world or even with himself. He wants a better creation in himself, and in the world at large. Then he has to feel the necessity of the fulfilment of God's Will on earth and of taking a conscious part in fulfilling God's Creation. Such being the case, God is bound to give him an additional amount of inner urge. Then, if a time comes when he feels that he can exist without everything, but not without God — when he has such inner strength that he does not need mother, father, brother, sister, wife, children — when the aspirant comes to that state where he needs only God, he becomes the real pride and real instrument of God. At that time, automatically, his aspiration is increased in boundless measure from deep within.

I wish to say, in answer to your question about how one can increase one's inner drive, that in general one can do it just by accepting the life of sincerity and the life of dedication, the life of absolute surrender. If one has a Master, then one has to be absolutely sincere to the Master. Sincerity is the safeguard. If one has dedication, then his dedication has to be total and complete to the Master; and if one has surrender, this surrender has to be implicit and unconditional. Then you will see that automatically, spontaneously, this inner drive will increase. But if one does not have a Master, what should one do? He has to go deep within and try to feel the Inner Pilot. The Inner Pilot will speak through his conscience. He may not see the Inner Pilot — to see Him, the Supreme, is a very rare experience — but the Inner Pilot is always ready to act through one's conscience. And if one listens to the dictates of his conscience, then naturally his aspiration is bound to increase.

Question: Would you explain what your chant means?

Sri Chinmoy: I was chanting AUM. AUM is the Mother of all mantras. Mantra is a Sanskrit word. Its English equivalent is Incantation. Now, AUM has three sounds: A, U, M. "A" represents God, the Creator. "U" represents God, the Preserver. "M" represents God, the Transformer. So we invoke God in His three Aspects all at once when we chant AUM. I have written considerably on this subject. As a matter of fact, for the beginners I wrote a pamphlet entitled The Significance of AUM. The question that you have asked me has been asked quite a few times by other seekers, and I have answered them elaborately. I have told them how to chant AUM and how to derive the greatest benefit from chanting AUM. The most important thing is to know that AUM is the Mother of all our Sanskrit mantras. AUM has to be chanted first and foremost when we chant any mantra. It is from AUM that the Creation came into existence. Again, the Creation will find its ultimate Goal only in AUM.

Question: How can an artist dedicate his painting to God?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us take the artist as a creator and his painting as the creation. Now, this artist has to realise that he is not the Supreme Artist and his creation is not the Supreme Creation. The artist has received an iota of inspiration from the Supreme Source, and this inspiration he has manifested in the form of his painting. Now, the artist, if he is a seeker, naturally would like to derive joy from his creation, as we all do. But when an ordinary artist paints something, he feels that since he is the creator, he deserves all appreciation and admiration from others. But he who is going to be a spiritual artist will have a different view. He will see that he gets inspiration only when some Divine Forces work in him, through him and for him. He feels, however, that the divine inspiration is not at his own command. There are many times when he wants to paint something but does not get the necessary inspiration and cannot paint at all. And again, all of a sudden, he is inspired and the result of his inspiration is a wonderful painting. So he knows that he is not the Source. When he enters into the Source, he gets something remarkable, appreciable, etc.

Now when an artist creates something, he gets some limited joy, but he will get infinite joy only when he offers his creation consciously to the Source Supreme. When the Supreme gives us inspiration, we receive it according to our capacity and receptivity. If He gives us beyond our capacity, then we will not be able to hold it, and the vessel will give way. If He gave us less than our receptivity, then He would be doing an injustice to us, which He would never do. So, according to our capacity or receptivity, the Supreme gives us joy. When the artist wants to offer something to God, he has to know why he is offering it. If he does not know that, today he will give something to God on the spur of the moment, but tomorrow he will try to argue and say he made a mistake in offering his creation to God. Once we have established in our mind and heart that we must give our creation to God, we do it, not to get something from Him in return, but just because we feel that this is what we have to do.

Now, your question is, "How can an artist dedicate his painting to God?" He can dedicate his painting to God just by thinking that he is the instrument and not the Creator. It is the Creator who acts in and through the instrument. But he has to be the conscious instrument. When he knows consciously that he is a mere instrument, then he feels that it is the Supreme Duty of the Supreme to act in and through him. Further, he has to realise that God is offering His Message of divine manifestation through the seeker's painting. He has to feel that the Supreme Artist is God, and that God is manifesting in and through him. Undoubtedly, this artist is a true seeker-artist. His is the life of conscious consecration to God and constant aspiration for God-realisation.

Question: My question concerns the soul's reincarnation and higher states of consciousness. Does the soul have a form; is it a separate entity? And if it is part of one universal Soul, then how can it reincarnate?

Sri Chinmoy: Each soul is a spark of the infinite Consciousness. The soul can take any form. If you want to feel that the soul is a Divine Entity, and you want to have your eternal existence in the soul, then you have to feel that here on earth and there in heaven, the soul is the very essence and the divine reality of each substance.

Now, let us speak about the form. We cannot see the soul with our human eyes, but with the third eye, when we look at the soul, we see that it can take any form. It can be tinier than the tiniest and larger than the largest. You can see the soul in the form of a little baby, or you can see it again in the form of an adult. It depends upon the development of the individual soul. True, the soul can assume any form, but it can never be bound by any form. At its sweet will it can enter into the form and go beyond the form.

When the Master says that he speaks to your soul, you have to know that he speaks to the supremely beautiful child in you, the divine portion which comes from the Transcendental Consciousness of the unmanifested Self.

In your question you have also asked about the soul's reincarnation. The soul wants to manifest the divine here on earth in infinite forms and boundless measure. In one incarnation we have thousands of desires, but we can only fulfil a few. So we see that even the fulfilment of all earthly desires is impossible in one incarnation; how can we dare to imagine the fulfilment, in one short incarnation, of our heavenly aspiration, God-realisation, which is infinitely more difficult. It is the soul that comes back again and again to give the physical consciousness the highest realisation and also to manifest the Divine fully here on earth. It is the soul that reincarnates again and again. It is the soul that enters into the new bodies. When the soul leaves the body, the body dies; the physical enters into the physical sheath, the vital into the vital sheath, etc. Finally, the soul flies back to its own region. Ordinary souls usually take at least six years to come back. If the souls are more developed, they take a rest of twenty or thirty years. In the case of the spiritual Masters, it usually takes a very, very long time, but if it is the Will of the Supreme, even spiritual Masters of the highest order have to come down within a short span of time. But before it again enters into the world, each soul will have an interview with the Supreme to see how much it has achieved in its previous incarnation and how it is going to manifest on earth in the next incarnation. At that time the Supreme either entirely approves of the soul's coming into the world, or He may accept and sanction the decision of the soul; sometimes the Supreme merely tolerates it. Some souls that are bound to the earth want to come back immediately and enter into the world of their previous emotional turmoil. At that time the Supreme just tolerates this. The souls that have started to aspire and want to realise the Supreme for an inseparable oneness with Him and also to reveal, manifest and fulfil the Supreme, receive a blessingful sanction from the Supreme. The souls who are very highly developed or fully developed in the spiritual life come into the world only to serve God in humanity. At that time, the Supreme with His divine joy and Pride approves of their divine journey.

Question: I understand that preparatory to realisation it is necessary for the ego to die.

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know that nothing dies. If the ego is dead, or let us use the term "extinguished," then we get nothing out of the uniqueness that the Supreme has given us. We have to use the word "transformed." Only if we transform the ego do we get something out of it. In the spiritual life, if you kill the ego it is like taking the life of some living thing. This is not the right thing to do. You must tame the ego, not kill it. The ego says, "I, mine, my husband, my wife, my children, etc." That ego is binding. But if you say, "I am everywhere, I am Universal, I am God's son," this kind of feeling liberates you. When Christ said, "I and my Father are one," He said it on the strength of His total Oneness with the Highest. But we do not have that total Oneness with the Highest. If the ego that you are referring to constantly binds you, then you will always remain bound in the ignorance of the world. But if you say, "No, I am all-pervading," you will be freed from ego. Try to expand yourself, and the more you expand your consciousness, the wider will be your vision. Your limited consciousness is your ego, but when it is expanded it becomes universal. There you are one with the Source totally. Ignorance we have, but if we do not transform it, we remain in ignorance. My advice is this: don't destroy it, but transform it and use it with your inner wisdom. Now you have a knife. With this knife you can come and stab me, but if you use the same knife and cut a fruit and give me a portion, then you are doing the right thing. Similarly, when you can utilise the ego for a divine purpose, immediately it changes its face into a fulfilling reality. Even when your ego is unlit and impure, use it for the service of God and don't use it to destroy the world. While you are serving God, your ego will become purified and in its complete purification, your expansion of consciousness will take place. When your consciousness is expanded you will see that the whole world is yours and that you truly belong to the world of aspiration.

Question: When I try to get rid of the ego, I seem to be more bound by it.

Sri Chinmoy: I am sure you always think of your ego. If you really want to get rid of your ego, then think of your soul always. Take the positive side. Try to have an inseparable oneness with the vast. When you concentrate on the limited consciousness, you will, without fail, be more bound here in the limited outer life. But with your eyes wide open, try to feel your own identity with the vast sky. Try to enter into the infinite Sky with eyes wide open. It is on the strength of your identification that you will be bound or freed. Vastness will free you, whereas the puny ego will bind you ruthlessly.

Question: Why did God create all this misery and unhappiness if He is the Creator? Why did he not create perfection?

Sri Chinmoy: I have answered this question quite a few times. God has created us and we have also created God according to our own ideas and conceptions. Why did God do this? Why did He not do otherwise? Now, we have to know that God is the Creator. He is also the Player. He is playing His eternal Game. The more we play, the more we become conscious of the fact that we do nothing and we can do nothing. We are all instruments. He, Himself, is having all experiences in and through us. When God created the world, He gave each individual very limited freedom. Unfortunately, we have been misusing this freedom. He gave to each person limited capacity. But this capacity we have been using for the wrong purpose. Early in the morning we know that we have the time to do whatever we want to. What do we do? We get up late. We know that at 5:30 a.m., if we want to, we can pray to God and ask for His Blessing and receive His joy and love. Instead of getting up early in the morning, we get up very late. What is worse, we don't meditate at all. So you see how we misuse our limited freedom and capacity. We misuse His precious Concern for us, His Compassion for us. Now, the creation is in the process of evolution. In this creation we see two things, inspiration and aspiration. You are inspiring me and I am inspired. I am aspiring. My aspiration can kindle the flame of aspiration in you.

Now, realising the truth is one thing and manifesting the truth is another. There is a vast gulf between realisation and manifestation. All great spiritual Masters, Krishna, Buddha, Christ and spiritual Masters of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries did realise the highest truth. Their message was that human beings would no longer remain animals but be transformed into divinity.

But, when they wanted to offer their own realisation to the world, the world mocked at them. As far as realisation was concerned, they were perfect; but when the manifestation was going to take place on earth, that very earth-consciousness denied their inner wealth. Most of the spiritual Masters were not accepted. Even when some of the disciples knew who their spiritual Master was, they betrayed Him or did not listen to Him.

Now, you see that earth is the field of manifestation. Here on earth one person realises the Highest and wants to offer it to the world. Why does the earth-consciousness revolt when it is going to get something divine and fulfilling? Precisely because the earth-consciousness wants to remain in bondage and ignorance.

The camel eats the cactus and his mouth bleeds. But a few hours later the same camel eats these thorns and bleeds again. Here also, ordinary human beings do not want real joy; what they want is pleasure. There is a great difference between pleasure and joy. Pleasure is something which is immediately going to be followed by frustration. But joy, which resides here inside our heart, knows only how to increase. An iota of joy expands itself and becomes vast. As human beings, we want pleasure and not real inner joy. Now, first we have to know, with our limited capacity and aspiration, what we want. If there is aspiration in our heart, then perfection will eventually dawn. But you look around and, out of thousands, how many people really want God? They don't have five minutes to meditate daily on God. Days will run into weeks and weeks into months, but to your utter amazement, they will not have meditated even for five minutes. Now the world of realisation and manifestation can be established only on the strength of aspiration. The world unfortunately is wanting in aspiration. It is filled with desires ever on the increase. When we aspire, it is not like that. We try to have only the boundless, the infinite, the measureless. Only when each individual wants to sing the song of Infinity, Eternity and Immortality can God offer here on earth the message of perfection. How can perfection dawn? It can dawn on earth only through mutual acceptance. God is perfect. We are imperfect. Only if we accept God as our very own, can He give what He has and what He is. But we don't take God as our own, we only take the nearest, dearest ones as our own. God does not come first in our lives. This is what an individual feels. God comes last. When somebody dies, we cry, "O God, God, God!" Otherwise, how many times have you uttered God's name during the day and how many times have you uttered your own children's names during the day? He is your Divine Child who has the message of Perfection, not the ones whose names you utter thousands of times. So if we know the right Person, then only can we expect the right thing. If you knock at the wrong door and it opens, you will see that the Real Person is not there. But if you knock at the right door, perfection comes to receive you. God wants us to be perfect and to be fulfilled, but if we go deep within we see that we are satisfied with our pleasures, desires, limited consciousness, jealousy, doubt, fear, negative thoughts, etc. When we are satisfied with something undivine, how can we blame God? How can we say that He is not giving us the right thing? Let us not want these negative things. Tomorrow God will come and knock at our door. He will give us peace, love, joy, Concern and Compassion. Even the limited capacity that God has given us, we are not offering to Him. If a child finds a penny while walking along the street and gives it to his mother, the mother becomes so pleased. She sees that the child could have kept the penny for himself. But he did not do that. The mother is highly pleased with him and gives him a quarter in return. The child could easily have thought that the penny was his own possession and he could have been bloated with pride with the money, but his heart spontaneously compelled him to give his greatest treasure to his dearest mother. The same thing happens when we give a little bit of our aspiration to God every day for five minutes. He will be so pleased with us, and He will bring down peace, light and bliss for us in boundless measure. God is for us, and we have to know and feel that He is doing everything for us. At His choice hour He will grant us the Supreme realisation. When we aspire and enter into the Highest, it is He who takes us to our destined Goal. If we don't want to do that, God says, "Sleep, baby, sleep. The time has not come for you."

Note

Questions asked at the American International School (High School), Zurich, Switzerland, on November 27, 1970.

Question: The ideas from your talk — are these your own or based on your religion or some other religion?

Sri Chinmoy: My talk was based on my own inner experiences, my own inner realisation. I was born a Hindu, so you can say that my religion is Hinduism. Others will say that. But I wish to say, being a spiritual man, that I welcome all religions as my own. And at the same time, being a lover of God, a seeker of the infinite truth, my inner Being compels me to say that I transcend all religions. Each religion is right, absolutely right in its own way, but when one cries for the highest Ultimate truth, at that time God becomes his only religion.

So in my case, what I have said is on the strength of my own inner experiences and realisations.

Question: In connection with your meditation, do you follow any dietary rules, and if so, what are they?

Sri Chinmoy: I do follow some rules of diet in connection with my meditation. I have a few hundred students, disciples, all over the world and I tell them that they have to be vegetarian (it really is very simple — anybody can do it), because if they eat vegetables, the mild qualities of vegetables will not interfere with their meditation. In our spiritual life, when we meditate, very often we feel an inner agitation or excitement. When we eat meat, our inner vibrations become excited and this excitement we have to conquer. We eat meat; the quality, the propensity, the nature of the animal, enters into us. We see the animal right in front of us. We see how animals behave, how they quarrel and fight. The animal consciousness is aggressive, damaging and destructive. So it is advisable for the sincere aspiring seekers to be vegetarian.

Then again, some people are of the opinion that it is helpful to fast quite often in order to purify themselves. Here I say that purity does not come by constant fasting. It is impossible. You see, a snake eats only twice a year. I don't think a snake is purer than anybody here on earth in the realm of consciousness. So we have to eat normally. If we fast once in a blue moon, it will help us to purify our outer aggressions, outer greed. But to fast quite often, or on alternate days, is foolishness.

So to come back to your question about diet, I wish to say that if you are a vegetarian, then you are helping your inner being or the aspirant in you to strengthen your own existence. Inwardly, you are praying and meditating and concentrating. Outwardly, the food that you are taking from Mother Earth can also provide tremendous energy. You will get not only energy, but also aspiration. When we look at nature, when we look at a tree, we get inspiration and aspiration. Similarly, when we see the vegetable kingdom around us, we also get inspiration and aspiration.

Most spiritual seekers have come to the conclusion that a vegetarian is in the best position to make quick progress in the spiritual life. Of course, along with a vegetarian diet, one must practise spirituality, Yoga. Only then can one make considerable progress. Otherwise, there are many people on earth who are vegetarians. In India, for example, the Hindu widows do not eat meat, fish and so forth. All Indian widows are not God-realised souls. Impossible. So, if we just abstain from eating meat and fish, we are not qualified to reach the highest truth or light. It is impossible. Along with our aspiration, our inner cry, if we have vegetarian diet, then it adds to our inner aspiration. So, whatever adds to our inner aspiration we must try to adopt in our day-to-day life.

Question: You said your talk was based on your inner experiences. How did you get these experiences?

Sri Chinmoy: From meditation. From my concentration, meditation and contemplation. I was in a spiritual institution for twenty years, from the age of twelve up to thirty-two. You study in the school, college and university and get your Master's degree. Similarly, if you spend say, fourteen, sixteen, twenty years in spiritual practices, naturally you will also get inner knowledge in abundant measure. From the age of twelve right up to thirty-two, I went through rigorous spiritual discipline — concentration, meditation and so on. It took me ten hours, twelve hours, fourteen hours daily to achieve what little I have right now in the inner life. When you enter into deep spiritual life, one day you know, you discover your own hidden truth. The truth is within you, within everyone, but unfortunately it is inside a box, a treasure box. The wealth is inside the box. Now, as here your professors are teaching you, they are offering you knowledge and you are gaining knowledge and wisdom; so also when one concentrates, meditates and contemplates, one enters into the world of inner Wisdom, inner light. From there he can bring to the fore at his sweet will the light, the bliss and power that he has achieved.

Question: When you meditate, do you hold any special position, like they do in Yoga?

Sri Chinmoy: It is an individual matter. Are you asking me what I do or what others do? If you ask me what I do, to be very frank with you, when I meditate, now being an expert in spiritual life, I can meditate while I am walking, while I am running, while I am driving in New York. But this I can do now, not twenty years ago — oh far from it! So, for a beginner, yes, one has to sit in a quiet place and, if possible, one has to sit on the floor, keeping the backbone erect and trying to breathe quietly and slowly. A beginner has to go through all kinds of discipline. I did it. Everybody has to do it in the beginning. One cannot be a good dancer overnight. It takes considerable time, then automatically the steps fall correctly. One cannot be a good runner overnight; it takes time. When one becomes a good runner, everything — his hand movements, his leg movements — is perfectly coordinated. So, in the spiritual life, for the beginner, those who want to launch into the spiritual path should sit at a particular place and try to breathe as slowly and quietly as possible. They should keep the back erect and try to focus their attention either here, on the third eye between the eyebrows, or on the heart centre, here. Here we have a major centre, the third eye. From here we envision the past, present and future. This is the place for meditation. Again, here in the middle of the chest there is another centre. If you want to identify yourself, if you want to be inseparably one with the universe, with the universal consciousness, then meditate on your heart centre. There are six major centres. If you follow the Kundalini Yoga, you will know all about them. And, I wish to say, for the beginner it is always safe to meditate on the heart. If you concentrate here, on the third eye, you will be meditating on the mind and inside the mind; then doubt may come. Doubt may assail you. You may think, "Oh, I am doing something wrong! It is all futile." If you do not get considerable encouragement or inspiration or result from your daily meditation, then naturally you will be disappointed and you will leave the spiritual life; whereas if you meditate here, if you concentrate on the heart centre, you will get a constant feeling of security, joy. So it is safer to meditate on the heart centre.

Question: A question a lot of people have asked me is, "Why must there be a God? " So now I ask you: why must there be a God?

Sri Chinmoy: Why must there be a God? Why must there be yourself? Why must there be a human being like you? If somebody says, "Why must there be a God?" then I immediately say, "Why must there be you on earth?" We know that there is something called the source. We must know that there are parents on earth. That is why we have come into existence. We must know that there is a seed and the seed germinates into a plant and the plant grows into a huge banyan tree. So there is always a source. We see that from something, something else comes. So we came into existence similarly from God. Our Source is God the light, God the Delight and God the Perfection. There is a God. For me the question "Why must there be a God?" has no meaning. When you have known God and spoken to God, this question sounds entirely foolish. Only someone who has not seen you personally can ask, "Why must there be a boy like that?" Similarly, before one has felt the presence of God, he can ask this question.

Question: When you meditate, are you conscious of what is going on around you?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on what kind of meditation it is. If it is the highest type of meditation, then one goes deep within and there one sees everything that is happening, but he is not disturbed by anything external. Within and without, one will be aware of what is happening, but at the same time one will not be affected at all. This is what happens when one is in the highest state of meditation. But, if he is a beginner, when he sees something, immediately he will be disturbed. If the beginner is meditating and right in front of him there is a cat moving around, his attention will be diverted. His meditation is gone. Anything, even the slightest noise, will affect his meditation. He will be disturbed. But, if one is advanced, really advanced, then he will not be disturbed, in spite of seeing things happening in front of him, right in front of his nose. He will not be disturbed. He will be aware of it but he will not be disturbed.

Question: Do you feel pain while you are meditating? Do you feel any pain? If something should hit you, would you feel pain?

Sri Chinmoy: If somebody strikes you while you are meditating, will you feel pain? Am I correct? Now, if it is the highest type of meditation, you will not feel any pain because at that time you are not in the body, but in the soul. In the body, if somebody pinches you, immediately you will feel pain because your consciousness is in the physical. But, if you are in the soul, you will not be affected. The soul is the divine part in us, the divine light, which is the representative of God. This soul cannot be disturbed, cannot be burned, cannot be destroyed. This is something in us that is immortal. So, when you are doing your best meditation, your highest meditation, you are not in the physical, you are in the soul. You become one with the soul. Here we live in ignorance. That is why somebody can come and strike you. Somebody is in darkness. That is why he is disturbing you. But, if that particular person is in the light, he will not bother you. He will not disturb you. He will never pinch you. On the contrary, when he sees that you are meditating, he will come and he will also start meditating with you because he feels that you are doing something right, something good, something divine. Naturally, he also wants to do the same thing, so that he can be a divine child.

Question: Is there such a thing as destiny? Please tell us something about the law of karma.

Sri Chinmoy: Destiny is there. Fate is there. But again, fate can be surmounted. Fate can be transcended. Yes, God is within us. This is true. And if one meditates, one can realise God. But again, if one takes help from others who have already seen and realised God, then one expedites one's journey.

Now, about the law of karma. We all know "tit-for-tat": a tooth for a tooth, and a nail for a nail, but again we have to know that there is something called God's Great Compassion. Suppose you have done something wrong, that you have hurt someone and that your father is right beside you and has seen you do it. Then, suppose the other fellow comes to strike you because you have done something wrong to him. Since he is strongest, your father, in spite of knowing that you were wrong, may not, if he so wishes, allow you to be beaten by your enemy. Your father has the strength. Similarly, in your inner life, suppose you have done something wrong and you cry to God; He will come to you as Compassion and Forgiveness. God's Compassion and Forgiveness have infinite power. God has the power to nullify your mistake. You and your father are bound with an inner link, you have a close inner connection. So your father came to your rescue. Similarly, your ignorant or wrong action can be forgiven by God's Grace and you can be saved and illumined by God the Eternal Father.

God's Compassion descends into human beings and into earthly laws; these laws too, are His laws. He is the Maker of all Universal Laws. He is dealing with clay. He can give it any form He wants to. Right now, He is making a particular form. You are saying that this is the way things are, but no. He can immediately change His Mind. He is the football player who is kicking with both his legs. Right now, the player is trying to aim at the goal from a particular corner and everyone feels that it is going this way, but no. Immediately he changes his course to another angle.

So, when we are doing something wrong, if we know that there is Someone who has boundless Grace, boundless Compassion, then let us go to Him for rescue. But now we have to understand consciously also that we should not do things that are wrong because the law of karma, the law of action, will call on us. If I go on doing wrong things, how can I expect a better life, a more fulfilling life? No. I have to pay for it. Every moment God has given me the chance either to do the right thing or, if I make friends with ignorance, to do the wrong thing. So it is up to me. If I do the right thing, naturally I will have God's light, peace, bliss, Harmony and Perfection in my life, and if I do wrong, I have to pay the price exacted by the law of karma.

Question: What do you mean by highest meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: The highest meditation is when you do not have any thought at all. Now when we are meditating, usually we are victims to many thoughts, undivine thoughts, ugly thoughts, evil thoughts and so forth. Then, we can do a kind of meditation where we get fairly good thoughts, divine thoughts, fulfilling thoughts and illumining thoughts. This is a higher state. But when we are in the highest meditation, there will be no thoughts, either good or bad. There it is only light. Now, in light, Vision and Reality are together. Now, you are sitting there and I am standing here. You are the reality. I am the vision. I have to look at you. You are the reality. Then, I have to enter into you in order to know that you are the reality. But, when you do the highest meditation, at that time it is not like that. Reality and Vision are one and the same. Where you are, I have to be. Where I am, you have to be, because we are one. So, in the highest meditation, Reality and Vision go together. That is why we do not need thoughts or ideas or anything. First a thought enters into us. Then we give it form. Then we come to understand what is going on, or what we are talking about. But, when you see the truth, when you see the Knowledge and the Knower and the Thing that is to be known all together, then it is the highest type of meditation.

Question: In your talk you said that man has received from God more than he deserves. Can you explain this?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. You see, I can justify it on the strength of my own inner experience. If a man is sincere, if he is really sincere and if he goes deep within even for five minutes, then he will see how many things he has done wrong consciously, not to speak of unconsciously. Unconsciously we have done millions of things wrong. Even during one day, we do hundreds of wrong things unconsciously. But consciously and deliberately, how many things have we done wrong? How many times do we cherish in our minds jealousy and hypocrisy? We belittle others constantly. When others are doing something right, good or divine, immediately jealousy enters into us. We cherish all kinds of undivine thoughts and ideas. We do not want to allow our fellow-brothers to be above us. We try all the time to lord it over others. We want to be the best. We want to be the highest. We always try to keep others under our feet. Now, these are the things we see in our day-to-day experience. Consciously and deliberately we are doing these things.

We sometimes act like animals. We justify it. How? Because we feel that everybody is doing it. "Everybody is doing it. That's why I can also do this and I am in no way inferior." But, if I am really sincere, if I really care for truth and light in my life, then I see the difference between what I want to be and what I am now. I want to be a divine child and I am really an animal. Now, at this animal stage, I am doing everything wrong, destructive. But look, even then I am not punished in the way I deserve. In our outer life, if somebody tells a lie, if he is caught he gets a slap; if somebody steals something, immediately he is put into a prison cell. Now, how many times in my mind, in your mind, how many times during the day do we consciously and deliberately commit a crime? Now, what happens? God knows everything within us, whatever is happening. If He wants to punish us for all our misbehaviour, for all the wrong actions that we have committed in the mind, in our inner life, then where do we stand?

What has God done? He has given us a nice mind. He has given us a sound body. He has given us a strong vital. He has given us many things to appreciate. He has given us receptivity. Let us fill our vessel full to the brim with good thoughts, divine thoughts. He has given us the potentiality, the possibility plus the opportunity to develop our good qualities. So then, do we deserve it? If one is really sincere, one will feel that God has given him Blessings beyond his capacity — not only beyond his capacity, but beyond his necessity.

Question: If a man is able to control his fate, will he not have the qualities and the capacity of God?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly, he will. But right now man cannot control his fate, because man is not aspiring. He is now in the world of desire. He is trying to possess and be possessed. But, if that particular man wants to live in the world of aspiration, when he wants only to live here on earth for God, for light and for truth, if that particular person wants Infinity in his life or for the world — Infinity, Eternity and Immortality — and nothing mortal, nothing transitory, then that particular man also can achieve all these things in his life.

Question: So, at this point then, we have no control over our fate?

Sri Chinmoy: If we aspire, we can control our fate. If we aspire, light descends, or our own inner light comes to the fore. Just because we are in darkness, we feel that it is impossible. Now, as soon as we go out of this room, if we extinguish the light, there will be no light until you turn it on. So, when you come here tomorrow, you will again turn on the light and you will get light. At that time, you are controlling it. In the spiritual life, automatically light is controlling you. Light is saving you, protecting you, illumining you. Let us see the point from another angle. One thing is to go to desire and be caught there. Then we will always be caught in the meshes of fate. But the other way is to enter into the vast, which is spirituality, the inner life, the yogic power. Then you will find no necessity to control fate, because automatically your nature is being purified, your nature is being transformed and illumined. Rest assured, at that time you have gone beyond the laws of fate.

Note

Questions asked at the University of Bristol, November 20, 1970.

Question: Why is darkness impermanent and light permanent?

Sri Chinmoy: Darkness is impermanent, light is permanent, precisely because our Source is light. God is all light. We come from light. In light we grow. And through light we fulfil our inner task. God is the Permanent, the Eternal Source. We are His children. God-realisation, which is the flood of infinite light, is our birthright. The more we go deep within, the easier it becomes for us to realise that there is something within us which is everlasting. There is darkness around us now. We are enveloped by the night. We have been sleeping, for a few years or for a few incarnations. But a day will come when light, infinite light, will dawn on us and make us feel what we truly are. So, I wish to say, since the source, our source, is God who is light, we eventually have to grow into the light, because we cannot permanently do anything contrary to our Creator's Nature. It is the Creator who has created us and we have to eventually grow into His very image.

And what is light? Light is delight. The inner light is delight. And delight is immortal Nectar. In one of our Upanishads, it is said that we, all human beings, come into the world from delight. Again, delight is God, God the light. We grow in delight but we do not feel the delight because we live the surface life. We live in the meshes of ignorance. That is why we do not see the inner delight. We grow and, at the end of our journey's close, we enter into the effulgence of delight. We came from delight. We grow in delight. And at the end of our journey we go back, we retire into delight. But this experience we get only when we meditate.

When we meditate, we get inner peace, peace of mind. Delight is visible, palpable, tangible only when we have peace of mind. Unfortunately the modern mind, the intellectual mind, the doubting mind, the sophisticated mind does not care for this kind of delight which is nothing other than light. It cries for information, outer information, or it cries to achieve some partial truth. Again, while achieving the truth, it negates the truth. It doubts the truth. The mind sees the truth for five seconds and, at the time when it is about to achieve the truth, it doubts the possibility, the potentiality of the truth. Then who is the loser? The truth or the mind? Undoubtedly the mind. But if we live in the heart, then the heart gives us the message of identification. Here there is no doubt if we identify ourselves with the light, immediately we become the light. Inside the heart is the soul. So, if we can live, even for a minute daily, in our inner existence, then we can see light in abundant measure. We see it. We feel it. When we feel this light, we feel the possibility of growing into the effulgence of light. We feel this possibility. The moment we see light within us, within our inner Sun, which is infinitely brighter than the star sun, we feel the ignorance-night of millennia is gone. So let us try to go deep within and enter into the inner Sun, the cosmic Sun that we have. There we shall see that the light, the infinite light, is waiting for us, crying for us. It only needs our conscious approval, our cooperation.

To come back to your question, anything that is really infinite is permanent. Light is infinite. Hence it is permanent. It is eternal.

Question: How does one get benefit from books on meditation in case one does not have access to a personal teacher?

Sri Chinmoy: If one does not have a personal teacher, how does one get benefit from books on meditation? If one does not have a spiritual Master, one has to read spiritual books. It is preferable to read books written by the spiritual Masters in whom one has implicit faith. There are many who have written books on spirituality, but do not practise spirituality. To be very frank with you, I have seen many sincere seekers at the universities who have meditated for many hours and with great sincerity. They are more sincere and they have paid more attention to their inner lives than some of those who have written books on spirituality. But again, there are Masters who have really attained to the highest level of consciousness. There are such Masters. There were such Masters. So, if you read, kindly read their books and you are bound to get inspiration. Their books will not supply you with inspiration only. There is aspiration within them too, and in aspiration you will get your illumination.

Now, here is the thing. Take a thief and a liar. A thief may tell you, "Don't steal. Don't steal. It is very bad!" A liar will tell you, "Don't tell a lie. Don't tell a lie. It is very bad!" If you listen to them, you will not commit a theft, you will not tell a lie. But, if you hear the same thing from a saintly person, it will be quite different. If he tells you, "Don't tell a lie, don't commit a theft," then immediately you will get tremendous strength, tremendous energy and willpower within you. You will feel that in this life you will never tell a lie or steal anything. When a spiritual Master tells you something, he injects you with tremendous willpower. He may say the same thing as the others. A liar will tell you not to tell a lie. But, when a spiritual Master tells you, "Do not enter into a life of falsehood," immediately you will see that there is tremendous inner power. You also have tremendous inner power. But it is the Master who has the capacity to bring your inner power to the fore.

Your question is very nice. I wish to advise you to read books by spiritual Masters. If you want to read on Indian spirituality, you can read the books that were written by Swami Vivekananda and others. Paul Brunton has written on Ramana Maharshi. Vivekananda has written on Sri Ramakrishna. There are others. Sri Aurobindo has written many books. There are genuine spiritual Masters whose books you can read. But in the bookstores I see hundreds and thousands of books written by people who have not meditated sincerely and devotedly even for one year. Now what will their experience be? What can they do? How can they help you in your aspiration? Since you are a sincere seeker, I wish you to read books written by the spiritual Masters. If not by the spiritual Masters, then by seekers of the higher level. You can read them and you will derive much help, inner and outer, from their books.

Have you been studying some books, spiritual books?

Yes, by Prabhavananda.

Oh yes. Certainly. Please read Prabhavananda. In him there is Sri Ramakrishna's light. Yes, Prabhavananda was a very great seeker.

Question: What do you believe happens when we die?

Sri Chinmoy: When we die, what actually dies is our physical body. This physical body came into the world from the five major elements, called Pancha Bhuta. These five elements, earth, air, etc., enter into their own five sheaths after we die. But the soul, the divine within us, the immortal within us, will never die. It cannot be pierced by weapons. It cannot be drenched by water. It cannot be destroyed by fire. It cannot be blown away by the wind. It is indestructible. When the body dies, this soul passes through the physical, the vital, the mental, the psychic realms, and it finally enters into its own region. It rests for a few years there in the soul's region. When the time comes for the soul to descend, the soul goes back to the Highest, to the Supreme, for His Sanction and Approval. Having obtained this Permission, the soul comes back into the world of revelation and manifestation again.

Each time the soul enters into the physical world, it comes with a new promise to the Supreme, to the Highest, that here in the physical, through the physical, it will reveal and manifest Him. The physical is the fort. It is the house. It is the temple. Inside the temple is the shrine. The soul is inside the shrine. What happens is that in one short span we cannot accomplish everything. We have to accomplish, not with the sense of possession, but with a sense of offering our inner wealth. First, we have to be aware of the inner wealth. The soul makes us aware of the inner wealth when we meditate and concentrate. Then the soul gives us the capacity to reveal the inner light to the world at large. While revealing, we are manifesting the divinity within us. Now, unless and until we have manifested the Highest Divinity, our game is not over, not complete. So, when we die, the physical dies, not the soul. The conscious instrument, the direct representative of God which is the soul, does not die. It comes back. And each time it comes back to earth, it is with a new hope, a new light and a new aspiration. For spiritual seekers of the highest ultimate truth, there is no death. It is only a short rest. The divine soldier enters into the battlefield of life. He fights against fear, doubt, anxiety, worries, imperfections, limitations and bondage. When he conquers all these imperfections and negative forces in the battlefield of life, the divine victory dawns on him. So, it is the body that dies and not the soul.

Again, this body will one day be a conscious instrument. Now, the body does not listen to the dictates of the soul. That is to say, the physical mind revolts. On very rare occasions, it listens to the dictates of the soul. Our soul tells us what is good and what is bad. But, in spite of hearing the message from our soul, we do not do the right thing. We are weak. The physical is weak. The physical mind is weak. But a day comes when the soul is in a position to exercise its divine qualities. When the physical and the vital consciously want to listen to the soul, want to be instructed and guided by the soul, then here in the physical we will have a divinised consciousness and an immortal life. The physical will take time to be transformed. But it has to be transformed, totally transformed, so that the physical life can be immortal like the soul.

Question: Why do we have the body, the physical?

Sri Chinmoy: We need the body, the physical, for the manifestation here. In the soul's region there is no manifestation. For the realisation of the Divine on earth we have to come here. The soul may realise something here on earth; then it goes up for some time and stays in the higher worlds with its realisation. But for the manifestation, it has to be here in the body. The body is the outer structure. Now, here we are talking about the spiritual life. Here is a building, a house of this University. If there is no house, no room, no hall, where are we going to give a lecture? Similarly, the soul is inside the body. As I said, it is the inner deity. It needs a temple. Everything needs protection, outer protection. If we don't have a house, where will we live? In the street? No, we will be blown away. We will be destroyed. Similarly, we need a body in order to house the eternal wealth within us. This body lasts for 50, 60 or 70 years. Then the body dies because it is not in tune with the eternal Life, whereas the soul is always in tune with the eternal Life. Here on earth God feels that His Absolute Manifestation must take place. For that He needs the outer structure, and this body plays that role.

The soul has realised the truth, but the soul has to reveal and manifest the truth. For revelation and manifestation the soul needs an instrument and that instrument happens to be the body. Without the body we cannot reveal and we cannot manifest any truth. For revelation of the truth and manifestation of the truth, the soul must needs have the physical body.

Question: Do you think that all religions lead to the same truth, but maybe by different routes?

Sri Chinmoy: I do, absolutely. I fully agree that all religions lead to one truth, the Absolute truth. There is One truth. There is only one Goal, but there are various paths. Each religion is right in its own way. But, if one religion says that it is the only religion, or by far the best, at that point I find it difficult to see eye to eye with that particular religion. If a religion says, "My religion is true. Your religion is equally true," then I wholeheartedly agree. But, if I say that our Hinduism is by far the best and that your Christianity is nowhere near Hinduism, then I am the worst possible fool on earth. If I say, "If you accept my religion, then I will take you to the Goal sooner," and if I try to convert you to my religion, then again I am committing a Himalayan blunder.

No. Each religion is right. A religion is a house. I have to live in my house. You have to live in your house. I cannot stay in the street; you cannot either. But a day comes when we widen our vision. We feel that beyond the boundary of the rites and rituals of religion lies a higher Goal. Then what can we do? We can try to perfect the imperfection in the religion. Then immediately we will come into conflict with the fanatics. Or we find that we are not in a position to change the rules and canons of the religion. Then we are miserable. But, if we follow the spiritual life, the inner life, we are not in conflict with any religion. So we say that those who want to follow a religion should follow it. But those who want to follow a still higher Goal, that is to say Yoga, the conscious and constant union with God, must follow the path of Yoga. There, on the strength of our Oneness with God, we say that the entire world is ours. Each human being is our brother, our sister. When you launch into the field of Yoga and want to realise the highest truth, absolutely the highest truth, at that time I wish to tell you that you can be above your religion. That is to say, if you don't want to follow your religion or any religion, you are free to do it because you are crying for the Highest in a special way. Your religion and my religion, in spite of their respective imperfections, are aiming at the same Goal. But now you may feel that you have a tremendous inner urge to reach the Highest without involving yourself in the so-called limitations of your religion, my religion and other religions. Then naturally you will try to reach your Goal without disturbing us, without disturbing others, and at the same time you yourself will not be disturbed.

To come back to your question, I wish to say that each religion has the message of the highest truth. No man is perfect. Similarly, no religion is perfect perfection. At the same time, no religion is to be condemned; far from it. Nobody is perfect, nothing is perfect here on earth. So, when it is a matter of religion, how can we say, "Religion has to be perfect"? Are we perfect? Is anybody perfect? Nobody is absolutely perfect perfection. Similarly, when I am not absolutely perfect, how can I dare to expect perfect perfection from you or from anybody? But I know, you know, that there is Someone who is absolutely perfect and He is God. So, if I have the inner cry, inner urge, I will try to go towards Him. For that we practise Yoga, conscious union with God. At that time, on the strength of our deepest meditation, we can feel that if we want to transcend the barriers of religion — Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism and all other religions — there is nothing wrong in it. But if we don't have the cry for the highest Absolute, we may only fight and wrangle with other religions. We may say, "No. My religion is best. Yours is no good." Then no path, no religion, not even our own religion will come to our rescue. If I speak ill of Christianity or of any other religion, my Hinduism will not take me or carry me faster towards my Goal. My true Hinduism will condemn me. It will say, "You fool! You are finding fault with your brothers."

What I actually wish to say here is that each religion, knowing perfectly well its shortcomings, must never condemn the followers or votaries of other religions. It is the votaries of a particular religion and not the founders who find fault with other religions. When we practise Yoga, we hear the message of oneness. Religion is also included there. Everything is included there. My enemy is included there. Everyone. But then what happens? We are not totally satisfied. We want to transcend this realisation. With my imperfection, with your imperfection, with others' imperfection, we are living together. There is no satisfaction because perfection has not yet dawned. That is why we try to transcend ourselves consciously. When we try to transcend ourselves consciously, we reach the Goal. When you reach the Goal, when I reach the Goal, when she reaches the Goal, we will see that it is the same Goal. There are many roads that lead to Rome. It is up to you to select the road and then walk along that road, but not to change the road every day. If you change the road every day, then you will never reach the Goal.

Now what happens? Sometimes, even if we are conscious followers of a particular religion, we become very critical of our own religion. Being a Hindu, I will say, "No, no, no! My religion is very bad. There are many things wrong. Let me now follow Christianity. There is some message there that is really unique." In this way I condemn my religion and try to follow the teachings of Christianity. But unfortunately, tomorrow I will find something wrong with Christianity and I will say, "No, no, no! This is not perfect. Let me enter into Buddhism." Then Buddhism also will not satisfy me. This will go on. But, if I am a wise man, I will try to take the quintessence of each religion. Staying in my house, Hinduism, I will try to get the divine qualities, the absolute quintessence of the Divine Message of all religions. Then, when I gather the quintessence of all religions, I see that it is only One truth. No religion will say that God is not required. God is wanted by all religions. There is no religion on earth that will deny the existence of truth which is God in Reality. If we can have the essence, the quintessence of all religions, then we see the necessity of God, the highest truth, constantly looming large. Indeed, this is the message of religion. Let us try to get the real message of each religion which is truth. If we really want truth, then every day we have to meditate and offer our conscious living breath to the Inner Pilot.

Note

Questions asked at St. David's College, University of Lampeter, Wales, on November 20, 1970.

Question: Would you tell us why God chooses to manifest Himself in transient beings on a transient earth?

Sri Chinmoy: God and His children play the Cosmic Game together. That is what He wants. We call it the Lila, the Divine Drama. Here we know that the earth is finite and here we are all earth-bound. God wants to offer His message of the infinite to the finite. He wants to offer the message of the immortal in place of death, the message of the Eternal in a fleeting second. It is our desire that binds us to the finite. We try to possess and be possessed. But, in God's case, God does not possess us. He plays the Game and He feels that He is playing it with His utmost inner Concern, Compassion and Love.

Now, if we go deep within, we see that we are not the doers. We are only taking a conscious part in God's Lila, His Game. He is the Doer. We are His multiple instruments. He is One, but He felt that He wanted to be many. He felt that He wanted to enjoy Himself, to fulfil Himself in a million forms and shapes. This is Divine Enjoyment, not earthly pleasure of course. That was His original Play. You can say, "Why did He want that kind of play?" God Himself only knows. He felt that, being One, He was not fully satisfied. He had to be many. Why should He be satisfied with only being the One infinite? He could also be the multitudinous finite. God is omniscient, omnipotent, and God is infinitely vast. This is our conception. It is absolutely true. But, if He is Omnipotent, then why should He not become like an ant, an infinitely tiny creature? With His omnipotent power, we immediately think that He has only to be very great. That is our conception of God. Just because He is omnipotent, He has to be very big; He has to contain millions of buildings and other things within Himself and so forth. No. That is only one way. In another way, He can show His omnipotence in a tiny insect.

So now God is playing His Eternal Game in and through you, through me, through human beings who are finite, who are weak, Impotent, ignorant. He feels that through His Eternal Game, His Divine Game, He can play in us and through us here in the earthbound Consciousness. Because He is omniscient and omnipotent, He feels that He has every right to play the Game. When we go deep within, we see that it is He who is the Player and He who is the Game and we are just the witnesses.

Question: Do you have any concept of salvation for the soul?

Sri Chinmoy: In the Western world, we use the term "salvation of the soul," which has its own truth. Now, in our Eastern world, we use the words "illumination," "liberation," "realisation" and so forth. When we use the term "the soul," we mean the Atman, the representative of the Supreme in the individual body.

Very often, in the West we use the term "the soul" for a human being: "He is a nice soul." That means his personality and individuality are nice. We observe his personality and individuality and we say that he has a nice soul. That means his outer being is nice, kind and affectionate. But, if we use the term "salvation of the soul," we refer to the real inner soul, and we have to be really wise in our usage. The soul has already achieved its salvation. According to our Eastern understanding, right from the beginning, the soul, which is the representative of the Supreme here on earth, has already achieved salvation. So now what is it doing?

It has the outer body, this body. The soul is the deity and the body is the temple. The soul wants to offer its realisation, as you term it, its "salvation," to our earthbound, limited consciousness. So the soul, through many incarnations in the process of evolution, is offering this salvation to our outer being, our outer consciousness. But the soul, the real soul, has already achieved the highest possible salvation. What it requires now is the revelation of its Divinity — light, peace, bliss and power — here on earth. And the medium is the human being. Through our earthly human consciousness, the soul is trying to reveal its inner Divinity. First, it reveals. Then, revelation is not enough, the soul feels that manifestation is necessary. You have something. You can reveal it to me, but if you do not manifest it here on earth, then I cannot get it. You have a dollar and you just reveal it to me; but if you put it here, then I can have it. Finally, the soul wants to manifest its Divinity here on earth.

Question: Speaking in purely human terms, do you believe that all curiosity is the fear of truth?

Sri Chinmoy: No. All curiosity is not fear of truth, but when the divine truth comes to transform or illumine us, immediately we are afraid, for we are earthbound, we are full of ignorance, we are swimming in the sea of ignorance. At that time, when truth comes, or light comes, we are horror-struck.

Now, light is good. Everybody knows we need light. But, as soon as somebody has the light or wants to offer the light, what happens? The other person acts like a thief. He feels that he will be caught, he will be exposed. Many people do not go to spiritual persons. Why? They feel that spiritual Masters will immediately see through them and say, "Oh, you did such bad things just yesterday or a few months ago!" People don't want to be exposed to the light, although they need light.

Unfortunately, what happens when people run towards the light out of curiosity is that fear immediately follows, because they feel that they have, by that time, yielded to enough temptation in their life. They fear that the light will expose this life of temptation or pleasure. But it is all a deplorable mistake. They are not wise enough at that moment to feel that this light will not expose them. The spiritual light will never expose anything. On the contrary, it will illumine and transform them.

We use the ordinary electric light to see. When there is darkness in this room, as soon as you turn on the switch, it is all clear. Immediately, we know what has happened. Here, by this physical light, you may be exposed, but in the spiritual light, inner light, the curious person should know that he cannot be harmed or exposed. No. The spiritual light only wants to illumine and transform him.

Question: I should like to ask also whether man may achieve this enlightenment by himself or whether, for most people, it is necessary to communicate with a Master, a Guru./

Sri Chinmoy: Thank you. Now, the first person who realised God on earth — whom did he have as a Master? Nobody. God came to him inwardly as a Guide, as his Inner Pilot. That is why he was able to realise the highest truth in God.

But now what do we see here on earth? We know that Mother-Earth has been blessed with many, many spiritual Masters down the sweep of centuries. We have to know what kind of teacher the spiritual Master is. Is he a school teacher or a college professor? A spiritual teacher is a private tutor. A professor will examine the student. He will pass him or fail him. He is entitled to do so; he is competent. He sees the papers of the student and then, if the student does well, he will give him good marks. If he does not do well, he will fail him. A private tutor does not do that, as you know. He encourages, inspires and helps the student at home wholeheartedly so that he can pass the examination well. Now, the business of the spiritual teacher is to inspire and arouse the aspiration in the seeker so that he can realise the Highest at God's choice Hour.

For everything you need a teacher. If you want to learn how to sing, you need a teacher. If you want to swim well, you need a teacher, specially at the beginning. Here, you want to have knowledge. That is why you have come to this university. Now, you know that there have been very few, very, very few, real men of knowledge who did not attend any university. There are exceptions. Every rule admits of exceptions. As I said, the first individual who realised God — whom did he have as a teacher? Nobody. But again, we see that for most things we need a teacher. To learn the ABC's, we need a teacher. To learn higher mathematics, we need a teacher. If you want to acquire scientific knowledge, you need a teacher. For everything we need a teacher. God-Knowledge is also a kind of knowledge. It is called Spiritual Discovery. For that, if you take help from a spiritual teacher, then it facilitates your journey. It expedites your journey. Now, if you say that you want to swim alone across the sea of ignorance, then it is up to you. But how many years, or how many incarnations, will it take?

A spiritual Master will come to you with a boat. He will say, "Come. If you want to go, I have the boat. You be seated here. I will take you." Now it is up to you. You may say, "No. I don't need anybody's help." If you want to swim across alone, you can. But it may happen that after swimming for some time, you will be totally exhausted and then you may drown; whereas, if you have a boat, you have a fair chance of reaching the other shore, the Golden Shore.

So, as we need teachers for our outer knowledge, to illumine our outer being, so also we need a spiritual Master to help us, to guide us, in our inner life. In that way we expedite our journey.

Note

Questions asked at The American Centre for Students and Artists, Paris, France, on November 14, 1970

Question: In your talk, which five things did you mention? Love, concern, sacrifice and there were two other things you said. "Love for the sake of love. Concern for the sake of concern. Sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice," and two other things I don't remember. And also I wish to know your concept of God-realisation.

Sri Chinmoy: Love for the sake of Love. Concern for the sake of Concern. Sacrifice for the sake of Sacrifice. Realisation for the sake of God-Fulfilment on earth. Manifestation here for the sake of the Divine Manifestation.

About God-realisation: we want to realise God, not so that we can show the world that we have realised God. No. We shall realise God because He wants us to realise Him. We shall manifest Him because He wants to manifest Himself in and through us. Now we have to know that one way to please God is with our individual effort and aspiration. We all know that if we do this, then God will be pleased. If we say this, God will be pleased. If we act like this, God will be pleased. If we meditate, God will be pleased. This is our human way of understanding how to please God. Another way, which is more important, is to please God in His own way. Now, this moment you are inspired to meditate. You think that if you meditate right now, God will be very pleased with you. No. If God wants you to secure good marks, high marks in your examination, then He wants you, at this moment, to study. He is inspiring you to study instead of to meditate. So you are fulfilling God in His own Way by studying. But if you meditate at this point, feeling that God will be pleased if you meditate, He will not be pleased. His Ways are different.

So right now, when each human being accepts the spiritual life, he tries to fulfil God and please God in his own way, according to his human understanding. This is good. At least he is trying to please God and not please ignorance. It is infinitely better to please God in your own way than to please ignorance and darkness. But there comes a time when you want to please God in His way. If you want to do something in your own way to please Him, that is good. But, if you please Him in His way, naturally He will be more pleased. In our path, in my own path, I always tell my students and disciples, "Try to go deep within and ask the soul what God wants for you, not what you want to do for God. If you want to fulfil God in His own Way, go deep within. Or, if you find it difficult to go deep within, I am ready to dive deep within you on your behalf. I will let you know what God wants you to do, and you do it." My sincere, dedicated, devoted disciples listen to me. They also listen to the dictates of my soul, my inner Being, and they are making very fast progress.

Question: I would like to know what is your opinion regarding sexual love?

Sri Chinmoy: Sexual love, love of the lower vital, has to be transcended, but it depends entirely on the seeker. An ordinary person who does not want the spiritual life can remain with sexual love. But, if one wants to have real joy, everlasting joy, then he has to transcend the need of sex. It has to be done slowly, steadily and unerringly. If you tell a seeker who has just entered the spiritual life that he has to give up his sex life, naturally he will be frustrated. He will be broken and he will make no progress.

I tell my disciples who have entered into the spiritual life, those who are still beginners, to deal with sex as you deal with tea. If you take five cups of tea daily, then try to make it four cups. Then, after a few months, try to make it three cups a day. Then after a few months, two. Like that, gradually, you have to diminish your need. Your sex need also has to be transcended in that way. Otherwise, if you want to conquer sex as soon as you enter into the spiritual life, specially when your vital is not ready or pure, then what will happen? It will destroy your aspiration. There will be a tug-of-war between your aspiration and the gross physical need. Your nature will only be purified slowly and steadily on the strength of your inner urge, your aspiration. Then you will see that there is a great difference between pleasure and joy. Unfortunately, unaspiring people are making a Himalayan blunder when they think that pleasure is a form of joy. We always see pleasure is followed by frustration, and frustration is followed by destruction. But joy is followed by more joy and abundant joy. And then what happens? In joy, within joy, we get real fulfilment. So it depends entirely on the sincere seeker. If he wants to be inundated with boundless peace, light and bliss, then he has to purify his nature. He has to transcend his sex need eventually. Otherwise, the transcendental peace, light and bliss will remain a far cry for him. It is like this. We cannot taste sugar and salt together. If you want to have the taste of sugar, you have to take sugar. If you want to have the taste of salt, you have to take salt. In the spiritual life one has to make a decision and then go slowly and steadily. One has to be prepared for the Hour when human emotion is to be transcended. At that Golden Hour, the seeker has to be fully prepared to transcend his physical needs for the realisation of the highest Absolute. But I advise my disciples not to be in a hurry. Go slowly, steadily. Slow and steady wins the race. Otherwise, if you are not prepared and if you want to run very fast, but you do not have the capacity to run fast, you will simply drop in your tracks. Then you will break your legs. Similarly here — you will lose all your aspiration, the limited aspiration that you do have. So the best thing, according to one's outer and inner inspiration and aspiration, is for one to try to gradually overcome the physical need, the need of the lower vital. Then, on the strength of one's sincere inner urge, he has to run towards the light. It is in light that there is fulfilment. It is in light that there is perfection.

Question: How can you attain inner serenity and peace when you look around and see what goes on in the world: war, violence, poverty, hunger, drugs, death? How would you reach the inner peace?

Sri Chinmoy: Again I repeat: that is why there should be an inner hunger. If somebody is not satisfied with the outer world, then he wants to enter into, dive into the inner worlds. I have twenty or thirty disciples who once upon a time used to take drugs. They did many things wrong, but later on they found that it was not satisfying them. Then they felt the inner hunger. They were pinched with inner hunger and they came to me. They entered into the life of aspiration. When the outer world, the so-called outer world, fails us or disappoints us, at that time some of us become awakened. We say, "Let us see the other shore. Since this shore has disappointed us, now let us see what the other shore has to offer."

Similarly, those students of mine wanted to enter into the inner world, to see if there was any truth, any light, any Fulfilment there. When they entered into the inner life, they found the answer. One has to see whether the outer life has satisfied him or not. If the outer life has not satisfied him, then naturally he will try to enter into the inner worlds. Then, what is inside has to come to the fore. If I cry for light and dive deep within, then I see the light. I grow into the light. Then I try to offer it to mankind. Mankind receives the light according to its own receptivity.

Question: If you have a job and you work, can you meditate at the same time?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. When you become an expert in meditation, you can do many other things at the same time. In the beginning, it is different. Say you are a dancer. When you are just learning how to dance, you will always be conscious of your steps, seeing whether they are coming correctly or not. Then, when you become an expert, it becomes spontaneous. While you are dancing you are observing the room, looking at all the people and doing all sorts of things. In the beginning, when you learn how to drive, you cannot do two things at once. You are always afraid that you will have an accident. Then, when you become an expert, what do you do? You look to this side, that side. You talk to your friends and you do many things. You can do this when you are an expert driver. Similarly, when you become expert in the spiritual life, you can do many things. When my students were beginners, absolute beginners, they had the same problem. They used to say that while they were in the office for instance, while they were typing something, only typing would exist for them They could not meditate on spirituality or even think of the spiritual life. Now the stenographers and secretaries are doing very high meditations while they are typing and taking down notes from their bosses in their spiritual way. The bosses are surprised when they look at their secretaries. They feel, "How is it that her face is shining with divine light?" It is because these particular girls are all meditating while doing their work. Again, it is a matter of time. In the beginning they could not do it. But they meditated systematically, say for a few months, six or eight months, and naturally they have developed this capacity. It is only practice. By practising every day one becomes an expert.

Note

Questions asked at Conway Hall, London, England, on December 3, 1970.

Question: How can one overcome fear?

Sri Chinmoy: Fear. You have fear in the physical. You have fear in the vital. You have fear in the mental. Again, you have fear, unfortunately, in the heart also. First of all, you have to know where the fear looms large and important. If there is fear in the gross physical of a particular person, then I wish to say that that person should concentrate on a particular centre. That centre is the navel. We have several spiritual centres. We call them Chakras. There are six major spiritual centres. Now there are many ways to overcome fear, but if one can concentrate on the navel centre and be one with the life force, the life energy, in the physical, one can conquer fear there.

Now, if one wants to conquer fear in the vital, then one should concentrate on one's own inner being. This is one way, concentration on the inner being, but it is difficult for beginners. So I tell them if they want to conquer fear in the vital, they should try to expand the real vital in themselves. We have two types of vital consciousness. One type, the undivine one, is aggressive; the other vital is divinely dynamic. We use the aggressive vital, its fighting quality, daily. The dynamic vital, though, wants to create something sooner that at once in a divine way, in an illumined way. So, if we can concentrate on that vital, or focus our attention on it, the dynamic vital, then we expand our consciousness there in the vital also. Then there can be no fear there.

Now, fear in the mind. Try, if you can, to empty your mind daily. The mind is full of doubt, obscurity, ignorance, suspicion and so forth. Early in the morning you can try, say for ten minutes, to conquer thought — not to allow any thought to enter, good, bad, divine or undivine. No thought. Feel that your mind is like a vessel. First you empty it. Now you are waiting — for what? For peace, light and bliss. But if you do not empty the vessel, when peace, bliss and light descend, they will be contaminated. How can you make your mind totally empty? Just do not allow any thought to enter your mind. No thought. If thought comes, try to kill it. Then, after some time, after a few days, allow only the divine thoughts which are your friends. In the beginning you do not know who your friends are and who your enemies are. You have to be very careful. Later on, you allow only your friends, that is to say, divine thoughts, progressive thoughts, illumined thoughts. These thoughts will undoubtedly conquer fear in the mind on your behalf.

Why is there fear in the physical, in the vital, in the mind? Precisely because something in you does not want to expand your consciousness. I am separate from you. You are separate from me. That's why I am afraid of you and you are afraid of me. This is what happens. But, if we realise the Highest, then immediately we feel the length and breadth of the world, the whole universe, as our very own. Only in expansion can we expel fear. If you expand your consciousness, then you become part and parcel of others. You belong to others; others belong to you. How can you be afraid of anybody else when you represent Divinity in humanity, and they represent the same Divinity in humanity? There can be no fear.

Now, fear in the heart. The aspiring heart has no fear, but the unaspiring heart has fear. The aspiring heart has a flame, a burning, mounting flame. Where there is light, there cannot be fear. The aspiring heart has a burning flame that mounts towards the Highest. Fear is bound to play its role in the unaspiring heart.

Now how can we conquer fear in the unaspiring heart? Here we have to take help directly from the soul. Where is the soul? How many of us have seen the soul or felt it? When you meditate here, directly on the heart centre, first you have to know if you are really and truly meditating on the heart centre proper. Then, try to feel at every moment, or, let us say, every time you breathe in, you are digging into your heart. This is not violent digging. No. It is only a divinely intensified feeling you have inside your heart that you are going deep, deep, deep within. Each time you breathe in, feel that you are going deep within. And then, a few days or a few months later, you are bound to feel a twinge or you will hear a very tiny sound. When you hear the sound, try to see if the sound is caused by anything or not. That is to say, when we want to hear a sound, we need two hands to clap. But try to see or hear if the sound you are hearing is the result of something struck, or if it is spontaneous. Here the sound is automatic; two things are not struck together. It is spontaneous. So, when you feel that sound inside, like a celestial gong, then you are bound to conquer fear in your unaspiring heart.

But, to come back to your question, fear in every sphere of our being can be conquered through our inner cry, and this inner cry we call aspiration.

Question: Can you tell us the place of the will?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. Willpower is of paramount importance. But we have to know which Willpower we are discussing. The soul's Willpower is here, deep within. We also think of will in an aggressive sense, in an aggressive way; we use our undivine vital power to destroy. We make a mistake if we take the undivine vital power and the soul's Willpower as one. That vital power does not come from the real Willpower. Real Willpower we get directly from the soul, here within, and this soul's Willpower we all truly need. If we do not have the power from within, the soul's power, we will not succeed in achieving anything in the spiritual life. In the outer life also it is of great importance if we can bring to the fore the soul's Willpower, Soul-power. Now, how can we do it? How can we develop it? How can we cultivate this Willpower?

One takes exercise every day if one wants to be an athlete. If one day he takes exercise and then for ten days he doesn't take any exercise, then he cannot be a good athlete. In the spiritual life also, we are all divine soldiers. At every moment we are fighting against our inner enemies. Our inner enemies are our doubt, fear, suspicions, worries, anxieties and so forth. At every moment, we have to hunt these inner animals, and here, what is our weapon? Aspiration. With our aspiration, we can hunt, we can kill all these animals, the animal qualities, animal propensities in us. Along with aspiration, we have to have Willpower also. It has to be cultivated and developed. One cannot have abundant Willpower or adamantine Willpower overnight. If one is wanting in Willpower, then you can be sure that that particular person will not be able to realise the Highest. He can make progress in the inner life, but this progress is of no great value. Willpower means immediate progress, immediate success and immediate achievement and fulfilment. This we can and we will get directly from the soul. The soul's light, when manifested in a dynamic way, is called Willpower.

Question: I wonder, could you tell me, this ignorance that we have, how did it come about in the first place?

Sri Chinmoy: We started our journey with knowledge, with wisdom, with light. At the birth of our journey there was no ignorance. But, what happened? God gave us freedom, even in our outer existence; limited freedom. We misused it. We allowed the dark and undivine forces to enter into our consciousness. From there, they entered into the whole world. He has given something to us. Suppose he has given us a knife. With this knife, what are we doing? We are stabbing each other. We are not cutting fruit and sharing it with each other.

When we go deep within, we see that even in our outer existence, God gave us some limited freedom. It is like a cow tied to a tree with a rope — it has limited freedom. Now, our goal is right in front of us, but what happens? Whenever we do something wrong, we feel that life is gone. This life cannot link us to the goal anymore. But this very idea, again, is ignorant. Now, today, we have not reached the Highest, but that doesn't mean that tomorrow we will not reach our goal.

To come back to your question as to why ignorance started. There was no ignorance in the beginning. It is we who have created our ignorance, mostly through our mind. We do not live in the heart. We live in the mind. Now, a mind that is earthbound, physical — we call it the physical mind — needs abundant light either from within or from above. But we do not seek that. We are using our mind constantly in the wrong manner. We think we are far superior to animals. When we look at animals, we think, "They are constantly fighting. They are killing each other. They are living in ignorance." But, when we go deep within, we see that we are also doing the same things in our mind: fighting, thinking ill of others, disturbing our soul, our inner voice.

Question: I would like to ask you: In your analogy of the cow, why would the cow be ignorant, just remaining on its own patch?

Sri Chinmoy: If the cow sees something within its own boundary, it simply destroys it. I have seen it many times. If you leave some toy or something nice near it, the cow just destroys it. I was just giving an analogy to show the sort of things we do with our limited freedom. So, here the cow is destructive. I am not saying that we are cows, but I am saying that we are acting like cows. God has given us freedom to go high, very high, but we are not using our freedom in a divine way. As I was saying about the knife, He has given us freedom to do whatever we want to do with the knife. But we are stabbing each other instead of doing something good with the knife. The knife is the instrument that is freedom. That He has given. But how are we using it?

Again, if we do the right thing, immediately the Divine within us, the Liberator within us, liberates us. It is like filling a jar. Drop by drop we can fill it. We say, "Oh, it will not do it. It is only a tiny insignificant drop." But, drop by drop, we can fill the whole jar. Similarly, we started our journey many, many hundreds of years ago and from the very beginning, unfortunately, we started walking in a wrong direction. That is why it has become so difficult. But if we, again, slowly and steadily run towards the Goal, then the Goal cannot deny us. We have to reach our Goal which is light, through light itself.

Question: How can I sublimate or conquer my desires?

Sri Chinmoy: If you want to sublimate them, if you want to conquer your desires, there is only one thing to do. You have to pay more attention to the light, in a positive way, but not by hook or by crook. If you try to subdue your physical or vital power in any kind of repressive way, then you will never be able to conquer this physical need. But, if you open yourself towards the light, if you reach or feel the light within you, then you will think more of the light than of the darkness. You may feel that by thinking constantly of your desires, your vital, sex life, you will be able to conquer them, but it is impossible. Even if you want to think of them with a view to conquering them, you are making a mistake. Think of the other things, light and joy, which you need and which you actually want. Through concentration and meditation, you can have inner joy and inner light. You will try to bring them into your gross physical, and your physical being will also feel divine joy and divine light. At that time the life of destructive pleasure will leave you and the life of fulfilling joy will embrace you.

Question: What should one's attitude be towards things that one did before, when one's higher mind, knowing it was wrong, was not in control? What should be one's attitude towards guilt resulting from these former actions?

Sri Chinmoy: One's attitude at that time should be that the past is buried in oblivion. You have done something wrong. If you cherish the idea of guilt, "I have done something wrong," you are being sincere, but thinking of your mistake, having this sincerity, does not help. Yes, you have done something wrong. But by having a guilty consciousness, you do not get light or wisdom. You have done something that is not right. Then, try to do the right thing, the divine thing. This second, this minute you have used. You could have used it either for a right purpose or a wrong purpose. All right, you have used it for a wrong purpose. Then use the following minute for a divine purpose, and if you use it for a divine purpose without thinking of the previous minute when you did something wrong, then what happens? Your positive strength, this Willpower you have used to do the right thing will then have the power in entirety, in fulness. But, if you think of the past minute with a sense of guilt, that you have done something wrong, and then you think that the following minute you are determined to do the right thing, half of your power is again lost in darkness and only half can be utilised for the following minute of right action So, I tell my disciples to try to bring to the fore their full power in the following minute and nullify the previous mistake.

If one cherishes or broods over misdeeds, then one is again strengthening one's own guilt unconsciously. I may think, "I am repenting." But why should I repent? I have done something wrong. I am a hero; I am ready to face the consequences. If I have done something wrong, then I have the capacity to do the thing right. Again, by focusing all the attention on the right thing, we are adding to our positive strength.

The sense of guilt, the constant feeling of self-reproach is, unfortunately, all-pervading in the Western world. If my Source is God, the Absolute infinite light, if I know that it is from there that I came, then some day I must go back to my Source. During my stay on earth I got, unfortunately, some unhealthy, unaspiring and destructive experiences. Now, I have to get rid of these unfortunate experiences. I have to get fulfilling experiences in my life. So for that I have to concentrate only on the right thing, the divine thing which will fulfil me, and not on the things that have stood in my way.

Question: When one is looking for the inner light and opens oneself to the inner light, does this necessitate a withdrawal from the material life?

Sri Chinmoy: When we look for the inner light, we don't have to give up the material life at all. We have to live on earth. If one gives up the members of his family, his children, his parents and his dear ones, then tomorrow he will give up the inner life also. Then what is he going to get? Where is God? God is inside everyone. Now, what is he going to give up? He is going to give up ignorance. He is going to give up bondage. He is going to give up temptation, his own temptation. The undivine things he is going to give up. But if you say that you have to give up your earthly existence in order to realise God, then it is a mistake. It is not required at all. God is here on earth as He is in heaven. Now, if you look all the time up in the sky — as Bernard Shaw said, "Beware of the man whose God is in the skies" — then you are consciously negating God who is also the Creation. We don't have to be satisfied only with God the Creator. God the Creation we also have to accept. Otherwise, God is not complete. He is both Creator and Creation. We have to realise and fulfil Him here in the Creation itself.

Question: Many times in one's life, one comes to a crossroads — not just in metaphysical things — when one doesn't know which way to go and one is looking for some kind of direction. Is there any way one can know what to do? Any sign?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two ways that can be taken when one is in that kind of difficulty, when one can't make a decision about what to do and what not to do. One way is to go to a spiritual person who can easily enter into the soul of the person who has the problem. The other way is to go deep within to get the Inner light. The soul knows what is best for the individual. Now, we do not know, when we are doing something, whether we are doing the right thing or the wrong thing. Why are we uncertain about our own action? It is we who, after all, do something in our life, for our life. We are uncertain just because it is not coming directly from our soul or because, unfortunately, the physical mind is not able to grasp the message of the soul. Now, if you don't want to follow the spiritual path, if you find that impossible, and you just want to know what is best for you, then you have to go to some spiritual Master who will immediately enter into your soul and tell you what is best for you to do.

Needless to say, it is always good to aspire. If you aspire, God will shower His choicest Blessings on you. Eventually, you yourself will come to know what to do and what not to do. You will see not only the Way, but also the Goal.

Note

Questions asked at the University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, on December 2, 1970.

Question: Does one have to have a spiritual teacher in order to follow the spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: The necessity of a spiritual teacher in the spiritual life is of paramount importance. As you know, a teacher is necessary in our outer life, no matter what we want to learn. If you want to learn how to swim, how to dance, or how to play a musical instrument, you need a teacher for some time. This is university. Here, all the students are studying under professors. The professors also, once upon a time, had to study. They themselves were students. Now they are in a position to teach and the students are learning from them. Soon, the present students will also start teaching. So it is not that one has to study all his life with a teacher. One studies for fifteen or twenty years. Then one gets his Master's degree and he starts teaching. In the spiritual life, one has to learn how to meditate, how to concentrate. This subject also one has to learn from someone, from an adept, from a spiritual Master. In the spiritual life, if one learns how to meditate and gets inner knowledge, inner illumination, then he will be in a position to communicate with God constantly. Something more, a spiritual Teacher does not act like a teacher or a professor. That is to say, a teacher or a professor will pass you or fail you according to the papers that you have submitted. If you have done well, he will give you a high mark. If you have done badly, he will fail you. But a spiritual Teacher acts like private tutor. He helps you wholeheartedly and unreservedly to pass the examination. And what is the examination? It is to cross the sea of ignorance, which is right in front of human beings. The spiritual Master himself has crossed the sea of ignorance. Then he teaches the aspiring seekers, disciples and followers how they too, can get across the sea of ignorance. This is what he does. He is like a private tutor. To come back to your question: everybody needs a teacher. Then when one gets his own illumination, he does not need a teacher any longer.

But, you can ask, who was the teacher for the first God-realised soul? He didn't have a teacher. He who realised God for the first time didn't have a human teacher, it is true. But, we have to see how many God-realised souls Mother-Earth has been blessed with: many, many, many. Most of them, if not all, had a teacher for three years, ten years, twenty years or forty years. Especially in the beginning, one must have a teacher. Otherwise, one will be terribly confused. One may get high, elevating experiences, but he will not be able to give adequate significance to his own experiences. He will have high experiences and he will tell his friends, his intimate ones. They will say, "It is all your mental hallucination. Forget about the spiritual life." Then if you have faith in your friends, you will do away with your spiritual life. But if you go to a spiritual Master at that time, he will encourage you. He will inspire you and give you proper significant explanations of your experiences. Again, if you are on the wrong path, doing something wrong in your meditation or concentration, he will be in a position to correct you. So, the role of a spiritual Master is that of a private tutor.

Question: If one doesn't have a spiritual Master, will one be able to achieve God-realisation?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. But if one does not have a spiritual teacher, then his path becomes extremely difficult. Then, you know, he will be in a difficult position. Sometimes he may get high experiences. Then, doubt will eclipse his mind and he will say, "How can I have this kind of experience? It is something so high; yet, I am an ordinary person. I cannot have this kind of experience. Perhaps I am just deluding myself." But if there is someone who knows what the Reality is, then he will say, "Don't act like a fool. The experiences which you have had are absolutely true." He encourages the seeker and inspires him. If he sees the seeker is doing something wrong, he shows him the right path. I do not say that if one doesn't have a spiritual teacher, then one will not achieve realisation, far from it. A spiritual teacher is he who is an aid, a considerable help to the seeker. You know, in this world when there is someone to push or pull us — pull us from above or push us from below — then we go faster. The teacher is a source of inspiration to the seeker. He will offer inspiration. You know, when you are inspired, you write, you compose wonderful music, you write wonderful stories. But when you are not inspired, you cannot. You cannot achieve something remarkable without inspiration. In that way also, a spiritual Master is of help to us.

Question: How can man, a limited human being in the finite, realise Infinity in his life?

Sri Chinmoy: When we say "man," we have to know what we are referring to. Is it a man who is five feet, eight inches tall, or six feet, two inches tall? If his human height, earthly height, is the "man," then I wish to say that that is not "man," "man" the consciousness, "man" the everlasting consciousness. We all have consciousness within us. We have two types of consciousness: finite and Infinite. Now, we are expressing our finite consciousness in our day-to-day activities. But, deep within us, we have also an Infinite consciousness. So, when we ask how a man can achieve infinity in his life, we must know that it is not in his physical body, or in his arms, or in his feet, or inside his eyes that he will achieve infinity. It is in his inner consciousness. Even after a spiritual Master has realised the Highest, he eats, he sleeps, he mixes with his friends. Everything is normal. If a spiritual Master has achieved realisation, it doesn't mean that as a man he will have two big horns, or a long tail, or something else. No. He is normal. Spirituality is normal. Spirituality is absolutely normal. But unfortunately, we have made it seem abnormal because we feel that spiritual people are all in the moonlight; they are not facing the earth or the earth's problems; they do not face reality. This is a deplorable mistake. Real spirituality is the acceptance of life. We have to accept life as such, as it is now. Then we have to try to change the face of the world with our aspiration and with our realisation.

To come back to your question, man, in his outer life or his outer achievements, is very limited. But the same man, when he enters into the inmost recesses of his heart, feels that there is something constantly trying to expand itself. This is consciousness. This consciousness links him with the Highest Absolute. He has the potentiality and capacity deep within him to be one with the Absolute. So, when one realises the Highest through a spiritual Master, it is in his consciousness that he has received the infinite light, infinite peace and infinite bliss which the Master offers to his disciples, his spiritual children, when they meditate on him. The Master is standing or sitting right in front of his disciples, and they feel from him, in him, peace, light and bliss in boundless measure. Where do they get these qualities from? From his consciousness. Not from his arms or from his nose or from his limbs. They come directly from the very depth of his consciousness. Consciousness always welcomes us. It is in the consciousness that we invoke, receive and offer boundless peace, light and bliss.

Question: If a man rejects the existence of a Deity, what will be his fate?

Sri Chinmoy: Well, if someone consciously and deliberately rejects the existence of a Deity, if he wants to remain in ignorance, then for him ignorance is bliss. Let him be happy in his belief or disbelief. However, if he feels that he is not getting any energising light, joy, bliss or power from his feeling, then he must leave the realm of ignorance.

Now, about the Deity. According to our traditional Hindu philosophy, there is a Supreme Deity and also many cosmic gods and goddesses. If one has faith in the highest Deity, whom we call Brahman, that is more than enough. One has not to go through all the hundreds of Indian gods and goddesses, demigods and so forth. If one has faith in the Supreme Reality, the Supreme Deity, that is more than enough. But, if somebody says that he does not have faith in the Deity, assuming that he means God, then what happens? He is not going to be condemned. God has given all of us, each individual, some limited freedom. It is up to us to utilise this freedom, to exercise this freedom divinely or undivinely. Again, there is something called God's Hour. From the spiritual point of view, you know that each human being has an hour. God has chosen an hour. God does not want anybody to remain unrealised on earth. Why? God's only Message is fulfilment. He wants Himself to be fulfilled, and He wants us to be fulfilled. This is freedom. So, if someone consciously or deliberately ignores his divine potentiality, if he has no faith in God or in the Deity, if he is still in the world of sleep, then God says, "Sleep, baby, sleep."

But a time comes when the mother, for example, sees that the son is not getting up. It is very late. It is high time for him to go to school. Then, the mother comes and knocks at his door. Here, the mother knows the actual hour when the son has to go to school. If the son is good, obedient, intelligent and has a sense of responsibility, he will not wait for his mother to knock at the door. He himself will be up in time to go to school. So, in the spiritual life also, those who are sincere, earnest in their spiritual pursuits, have the conscious inner longing for the fruit, for the light, peace and bliss. When we say God-realisation, what do we actually mean? We mean our conscious, inseparable oneness with God. We are all in God, but few, very few of us are consciously aware of God's Existence. A spiritual man has free access to God's Consciousness. He feels and knows that he has established his conscious union with God. This is the difference between an ordinary man and a spiritual man. A spiritual man wants to establish a conscious union with God, and an unspiritual man does not even want to achieve this state of consciousness.

To come back to your question, again I wish to say that if somebody denies the existence of the Deity, the Supreme Reality, let him deny it. Let him continue to deny it for one year, four years or twenty years; indefinitely. But a time will dawn for the poor fellow because God Himself will never allow anybody to remain unrealised. God does not want to live unfulfilled. Neither will He allow this particular man to remain unfulfilled. So, at God's Hour, God consciously arouses him, awakens his consciousness, so that he can launch into the life of spirituality. But he who, on his own, already has a deep inner urge, feels the necessity to run towards the light, towards the Destined Goal. Naturally he is expediting his journey with God's Grace and with his personal efforts. When God's infinite Grace and man's sincere efforts go together, then the Goal cannot remain a far cry.

Question: Many young people are interested in expanding their consciousness with drugs. What do you think of consciousness under drugs, like LSD?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, I am not an expert, an authority on LSD, so I can only speak from the experience of some of my students. I have not taken any drugs and will never take them in my life, so it is only from the experience offered by my disciples that I can speak. I am not able to help drug addicts, hippies and people with alcoholic problems, serious perverted emotional problems and similar conditions. Now, of course, there are spiritual Masters who have them in their families, among their students, but I am not competent to have them in my family. Just to give you an experience — I have a Centre in San Juan, Puerto Rico. One day, about twenty drug addicts came in during the meeting. They started arguing with me and saying that they had wonderful experiences, high, elevating experiences with drugs. I said, "Wonderful. You stay with your experiences. Then what do you want from me?" They said, "We want to have spiritual experiences from you." I said, "If you want to have spiritual experiences from me, then you have to give up your drugs. I am not going to your place to have the experiences you have had through drugs, but you want to have the experiences that I can offer. If you want my experiences, spiritual experiences, then you have to give up your drugs here and now. Otherwise, tomorrow I will not allow any of you to come to my Centre. This is my place. I am not giving a talk in a public hall where I have no authority. Here I have a right to exercise my authority. This is my Centre, and I will not allow any of you to come to my Centre unless you come tomorrow with the idea that you are going to give up drugs." The following day, nineteen out of twenty came up, and they stood in front of me and said, "We want to have the experiences that you want to offer, so we are giving up drugs." I said, "Then you meditate here for a month or so. But, during this month you have to be sincere to me and sincere to yourselves. If you do not get any experiences during the month you can leave me and you can go back to your old life." From that time, they started coming regularly to the Centre. They were having true spiritual experiences. They told me the difference between the experiences they had with drugs and the experiences they were getting from inner aspiration, from the spiritual life. One of them said to me, "Drugs gave us the message of self-deception. Spirituality has given us the message of self-perfection." Now they have become true jewels of my Puerto Rican Centre.

Question: Have you considered establishing a Centre in Scotland, and if so, where?

Sri Chinmoy: To be very frank with you, I have not the slightest idea of running a Centre here. But, if some of you are interested, after the meeting is over, then I will speak to you. Yesterday, after the meeting was over in Ireland, a few sincere seekers came up to me. We have a Centre in London. There, a young boy named Patrick, who has become my disciple, said that he had three or four friends in Ireland. From London he informed his friends who are studying at Dublin University that I was going to give a talk in Ireland. After the meeting was over, they came up to me and said, "Here we would like to have a Centre under your guidance." They are really sincere and with them we have formed a Centre at Dublin, Ireland. Here also, if you want me to open up a Centre, then kindly see me after the meeting is over.

Note

Questions asked at the University of Leeds on November 18, 1970.

Question: How do you suggest that a genuine Western student should go about learning to discover these concentration and contemplation exercises and the techniques of meditation in order to follow the spiritual path, and run faster than the average?

Sri Chinmoy: If a student wants to learn, what does he do? He goes to a school, college or university. Why? He goes because he feels that there he will find a professor who will be able to illumine him. Similarly, in the spiritual life, if a seeker, who is the student, has the inner cry to learn how to concentrate, meditate and contemplate, he goes to a spiritual Master. As a student has faith in his teacher, and therefore goes to school and learns from him, so also the sincere seeker goes to a spiritual Master in whom he has implicit faith, and learns from him. But in a school, when there is a class, a teacher sometimes finds it difficult to give individual attention to the students. He tells them something, and they listen to him collectively, and learn as much as they can. In the spiritual life, if the teacher sees that an individual is making great progress, but is in a group with other students who cannot keep up with him, then the spiritual teacher will always give the good student special lessons so that he can run fast, faster, fastest toward his Goal. He will not make the good student wait for the others.

One should always go to a spiritual Master in order to learn concentration, meditation and contemplation, because a spiritual Master knows how these things can be taught. Just as an ordinary teacher will know all about geography, science, philosophy, history or some other subject, so the spiritual Master will know about concentration, meditation and contemplation.

Question: Here in the West there is an acute shortage of spiritual Masters. How does one find one?

Sri Chinmoy: In the spiritual life, there is a ladder, and this spiritual ladder has quite a few rungs. The first rung is inspiration, and the next rung is aspiration. In aspiration are contained the seeds of concentration, meditation and contemplation. After aspiration, the next rung is realisation. After realisation comes revelation, and after revelation comes manifestation.

Let us start with inspiration. You know that there are millions of books. You have already read hundreds of books. If you read spiritual books, preferably written by spiritual Masters, you are bound to get inspiration. When you read a history book, you become inspired to learn all about history. When you read spiritual books, you enter into a new field, a new domain, a new consciousness. You get inspiration when you read in these books that somebody attained peace, light or joy; immediately you want to have these things yourself. As you say, there is a shortage of spiritual Masters. But if you read books written by spiritual Masters, you are bound to get some inspiration.

Then a day will come when you will realise that this inspiration is not enough. Your inspiration will give birth to aspiration, the inner cry. A child cries. The mother immediately comes running. Why does she come? Because her child is crying. The mother cannot stay in some other place at that time. She has to come and care for her child. In the spiritual life also, when you have aspiration, this inner cry for God, no matter where He is, He has to come to you. And how does He come? He comes in the form of some spiritual persons who have seen Him or felt Him, or who have received some inner message from Him. When you go to school, you are expected to pay a fee for the opportunity of studying. In the spiritual life also, there is a fee. This fee is called aspiration. If you have this aspiration, the fee, then how can you be denied your inner education? God is bound to help you at that time. You may not get a real Guru, the highest Master, but you are bound to get someone. For some time you may have to wait for the teacher who will be able to give you a Master's degree, but there are many people in the West who can help you at the very beginning. In the spiritual life, this elementary help is as important as the kindergarten or primary school.

Then, if you are not satisfied, if you want to go higher and deeper and farther, if you want to make faster progress, I tell you, your inner cry will never be denied. You will find somebody else who will help you on your journey, and finally, you will get someone who will be able to take you to your destined Goal.

So, your first spiritual teacher is spiritual books. You will learn many things from books. These things may seem theoretical at the beginning, but if you learn something theoretically, then you will have some inner confidence in it. For practical knowledge, you must get a teacher. No sincere cry has ever been denied. It is only a matter of time. If somebody really wants to do something, to achieve something, he may not be able to do it immediately. But if he has a real, sincere, genuine aspiration to do it, then it is only a matter of time. In one year or two years, in one incarnation or two incarnations, he is bound to get what he wants. The very nature of God is fulfilment. God wants fulfilment for His own children. If our Father eats a mango, He will not deprive us of the mango. He will also give us a mango so that we can eat with Him. So, since God wants fulfilment for us, His aspiring children, we can certainly expect fulfilment from Him.

Question: Having been born and brought up in India, many of us have been surrounded by much of the spiritual philosophy and mysticism of the country, not necessarily because we are great believers, but because it is part of the environment. Over here, I am constantly being asked by my friends what spirituality is, and what are we trying to do with it in relation to the starvation and poverty in India. They ask me how is it that our spirituality does not cure everything miraculously? I can't answer this question. Can you help me? Can you tell me what actually spirituality has to offer to mankind?

Sri Chinmoy: From real spirituality, we have to know what we can expect and what we cannot expect. Unfortunately, what not only the Western world, but the entire present-day world expects from spirituality is miracles. At every moment, the Western world and the Eastern world are crying for miracles. Spirituality, they feel, has to cure everything and solve all problems in one instantaneous stroke. Why do people expect this from spirituality? Real mysticism, real spirituality, is not miracle-mongering. The message of spirituality is to live a higher life, a transformed life, a divinised life.

A sincere seeker sees inside himself many animals: fear, anger, doubt, anxiety, temptation, greed and jealousy. These animals have to be conquered in order to attain the highest Goal of spirituality — conscious oneness with the Supreme. So if the seeker has doubt, if he has fear, if he has jealousy, he has to conquer them. He has to conquer all the animals inside himself.

The message of spirituality is the transcendence of our present consciousness, which is half animal. We want to be divinised, we want to go high, higher, highest, so that we can become totally one with the rest of the world. This we can do through real spirituality. But most people expect something quite different from spirituality. They want to have their diseases cured, or their fortunes told. No. Spirituality will give what spirituality has to offer. Spirituality will give inner peace, inner light, inner joy to those who practise it. A divinised life is what spirituality wants to offer, and this is what we can expect from spirituality.

Question: Can you please define for us concentration, meditation and contemplation, and tell us how they differ from each other?

Sri Chinmoy: Concentration. When we concentrate, we focus all our attention on a particular subject or object. When we try to concentrate, we have to feel that right in front of us there is nothing but that object. (Holding the petal of a flower) This is the petal. I have not to see anything else. I do not have to see my finger, or the rest of the flower. No, only this one petal. Feel that only you and the petal exist, nothing else; not the rest of the world. From this kind of concentration, you will get the essence, the quintessence of the petal.

Meditation. Let us not meditate on this petal. Let us try to meditate on something vast. When we meditate, let us see right in front of us the sea, or the sky, or the Himalayas. Concentration paved the way. While I was concentrating, I was not thinking of my students, my disciples or my friends. I was only concentrating my whole attention on the petal. While one meditates, one has to try to expand one's consciousness to encompass the vast sea, or the vast blue sky. One has to expand oneself like a bird spreading its wings. We have to expand our finite consciousness, since just because we are bound, we are unhappy. If we can free ourselves from the meshes of ignorance, then we become all-pervading. We enter into the Universal Consciousness where there is no fear, no jealousy, no doubt, no fault. There is all joy, peace and divine power. In meditation there is no thought — no limiting thought, no destructive or undivine thought — no thought at all. That is why we can meditate on the vast.

Contemplation. When we contemplate, we have to feel our entire existence — body, vital, mind, heart and soul — as inseparably one. Again, we have to feel that we are not the body, and that we don't have to be bound by the limitations of the body. I spoke just half an hour ago of Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. These are all vague terms right now. But when we contemplate, our whole existence enters into the consciousness of Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. By concentration we become one-pointed, and from meditation we expand our consciousness into the vast. In contemplation we grow into the vastness itself. We have seen the truth. We have felt the truth. But the most important thing is to grow into the truth. What we have seen and felt in meditation, we grow into and unite with totally in contemplation. At that time, when we look at our own existence, we don't see a human being; we see something like a dynamo of light, peace and bliss. This is what contemplation does for us.

Question: You talk about spiritual practices, either elaborate or very simple. When we, as ordinary people, listen to a piece of music or see a very great piece of art, we feel a certain kind of joy. Is the joy you achieve after many years of spiritual practices the same as the joy we achieve momentarily, or is it greater?

Sri Chinmoy: It is something different. When you hear a piece of music, you are temporarily transported to a realm of ecstasy. Then, after five or ten minutes, the music goes away, and the joy disappears. When you make something, you experience the joy of creation. You are in ecstasy for fifteen minutes or half an hour, or for a day or two. Then your joy vanishes. Why? Because the joy that you get from your creation or from somebody else's creation is limited by the quality of the creation. Your creation may have the capacity to give joy for five or ten minutes. Then it stops. This is because you have not created something infinite or eternal. But when you have meditated for fifteen or twenty years, eight or ten hours a day, at that time, after your meditation, you will still have a free access to something boundless and infinite.

When we meditate, we enter into the vast — the vast sea, or the vast sky, or infinite light. When we enter into the vast, we become, by God's Grace, a channel which flows endlessly, like the Ganges flowing down from the Himalayas. So, when we meditate, we get a continuous flow of inner joy. The joy which we get from some earthly creation lasts for a short time, because both the creator and the creation are bound. But by meditating, we enter into boundlessness. Then when we get joy, it is really spontaneous and permanent. When a spiritual Master says that he has inner peace, inner joy, inner bliss, he has these permanently. They flow constantly from within because he has grown into the Source. This joy is infinitely greater and more fulfilling than the fleeting joy which an ordinary human being may experience.

Question: I wonder, Sir, if you could tell us a little bit more explicitly what you mean by the term "God," and whether you could perhaps compare this with what the word "God" means in Judaism, Christianity and Islam?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, I would like to say that when we try to define God, we bind and belittle Him. God transcends all definitions. But each individual has the right to define God in his own way, in spite of the fact that God is beyond definition. He is infinite. He is eternal. He is immortal. You, as a seeker of the infinite truth, may say that God is Infinite Consciousness. The gentleman sitting beside you may say that God is Infinite Power. A third person may say that God is Infinite Energy. And a fourth may say that God is a divinised human being. Everybody is right in his own way. God is what each individual sees Him as. He can be a Man; He can be a Woman; He can be power; He can be light; He can be peace.

If you want me to tell you what I feel, I wish to say that God is man, and man is God. We are all God's children, but we have not yet realised our highest height. Man is God yet to be realised in totality, in the highest plane of consciousness. God is man yet to be manifested fully here on earth. This is my definition. You have every right to define God in your own way. Nobody's definition has to be accepted as the only one with real authority. In defining God, everybody is perfectly right in his own way.

Question: Can you tell how spiritual Masters differ from ordinary beings — how they are, as you say, "sons of God"? Can you explain how they are superior to other human beings?

Sri Chinmoy: In the West we know that Christ, the Son of God, said, "I and my Father are one." In India, our Vedic seers said, "Aham Brahmasmi" — "I am the Brahman." On the strength of their highest realisation, they became the truth itself. When Christ or the spiritual Masters say that they are God, they say it on the strength of their inseparable oneness with Him. This is the essential difference between a real spiritual Master and an ordinary person. A real spiritual Master has become consciously one with God.

A real spiritual Master will never think that he is superior to anybody. He will feel that it is his bounden duty to be of service to the divinity, to the Supreme in humanity. A real father does not feel that he is superior to his children. He feels that it is his duty to bring up his children, because God has given him the opportunity and the responsibility. The matter of superiority does not come into the picture. Real spiritual Masters likewise do not have a feeling of superiority. They only feel that they are fortunate that God has chosen them to be of service to suffering mankind or searching mankind. They feel that in their self-dedicated service, they are trying to fulfil the Divine. Spiritual Masters do not think that those who are unillumined and unenlightened are inferior to them. No. The father never thinks his child is inferior to him. The older brother does not think his younger brothers are inferior. They have simply not had as much experience or wisdom as he has had. If one brother has seen where the Father is, he tells his other brothers where to find Him. He says, "Come with me. I know where our Father is." Then he leads them to their Father, but he does not feel that in doing so, he is superior.

Question: You stated that one should live a simple life. How do you define a simple life, and how does one recognise it? How does one live it?

Sri Chinmoy: There are many things we do here on earth that are unnecessary. There are many things we own that are superfluous. You live in a house, and you have a room. In your room, if you want to, you can have a radio, a stereo, a television and many other things which you don't really need. I am speaking from the spiritual point of view. If you want to lead a spiritual life, if you want to live the life of aspiration, if you want to realise God, then to make the fastest progress, it will be better for you to think more of God than of music and television, and all kinds of other things. You have to know what you want. If you want to be a spiritual person, then naturally you have to spend most of your time in spiritual pursuits. All the paraphernalia of the world will only distract you and waste your time.

If you want God, you have to lead a simple life. There are only twenty-four hours in the day, and when they are gone, they do not come back again. If you waste an hour, then it is lost to you forever. You will not be able to retrieve it. You have to decide what you will use each fleeting moment for: for worldly pleasure, or for God. If you feel that your first and foremost necessity is God, then if you simplify your life, you will not be distracted or tempted if you keep all the objects of temptation around you, then you are consciously and deliberately delaying your spiritual progress.

Note

Questions asked at the University of Essex, Colchester, England, on November 17, 1970.

Question: In your opinion, can one realise the Highest through the use of certain drugs?

Sri Chinmoy: To be very frank with you, everybody has his own way. If somebody feels that by taking drugs he will get inner experiences, highest experiences, then it is up to him. I am not a judge or authority, since I have not taken drugs, but I am offering my opinion based on my inner spiritual understanding. I have meditated and, as far as my understanding is concerned, I have realised the Highest. So, in my case, if somebody asked me what I did, I will say that I meditated for twenty years, from the age of twelve right up to thirty-two. I went through twenty years of sincere and serious meditation, eight hours, ten hours, twelve hours a day, in order to realise God. I can only say that, in my opinion, I feel that God-realisation, the Highest realisation, cannot be achieved through drugs. That is my personal opinion, and I say it on the strength of my realisation. But, if somebody says that he can get it through other ways, through drugs, then he is perfectly entitled to do so in his own way

As far as my realisation is concerned, on the strength of my own highest realisation, I wish to say that I worked very, very hard on the spiritual path. This path is really long and arduous. Here, you need a disciplined life. Everything depends on self-discipline. From self-discipline and self-perfection, we get God-realisation. Since you are asking me my opinion, on the strength of my own realisation I wish to say that the use of drugs is not proper. Realisation must come through proper meditation. I have a few hundred disciples in the States and in other places. Thirty or forty students of mine who are now my close disciples used to take drugs. They came to me with the idea of seeing the difference between the experiences that they had had with drugs and the experiences they were expecting from meditation with me. So they stayed for a few days. Then they got real spiritual experiences from their meditation. To my deepest joy and pride, all of them gave up drugs. It is they who are in a position to judge, because they had many, many experiences from drugs. Then they came to me and they got experiences from the meditation. They came to learn from me how to follow the path of spirituality. I taught them and they felt the enormous difference between the two types of experiences.

Question: What is your theory about life after death?

Sri Chinmoy: The other day I gave a talk at the University of Kent, Canterbury. The subject of my talk was, "Is Death the End?" My philosophy, or my personal experience, is that death is not the end. Death is just like an ordinary road; life is the eternal traveller. When life is tired and exhausted, life takes a short rest. Then, after the rest, life resumes its journey. Death is not the culmination. Death is just like a room where you take your rest. Some people take their rest for a longer time in a particular room. Some people take a short rest, then again they start working.

It is like a living room and a bedroom. In the living room we have to work. We have to show our friends that we are alive. But, in the bedroom, in the sleeping room, we take rest. There we don't have to show our friends that we are alive. There we take rest for four hours or six hours or eight hours. Similarly, each individual soul comes into the world and plays its role within the physical sheath. This sheath is composed of five elements. Now, when we leave the body, let us say, when the bird flies away from the cage, this physical sheath enters again into the physical world, composed of the five elements. The vital enters into the vital world. The mind enters into the mental world. And the soul goes back to its own region. Then, after taking a short rest or a long rest, whatever rest is required for the individual soul, the soul comes back into the world. It comes with the permission or approval of the Supreme, once again to fulfil the Mission of the Supreme in the world. So death is not the end. It is only a short rest.

From the spiritual point of view, on the strength of my own realisation, I wish to say that death is not the end. It can never be the end. It is only a temporary rest that we need at the present stage of evolution. There will come a time when we won't have to take that kind of rest, when man will have abundant peace, light and bliss, when man will be surcharged with divine qualities. At that time, this temporary rest will not be necessary for the fully developed souls.

Question: Do our actions on earth affect our life after we die?

Sri Chinmoy: After we die there is a law of karma. Now, if we do something wrong here, we have to know that either today or tomorrow, either in the physical world or in the inner world, we will receive the result of it. "As you sow, so shall you reap." It is unavoidable. If I constantly steal, one day I shall be caught and put into jail. Today after stealing, I may not get caught; but if I continue to steal, I shall be caught one day. Then, if I do something good, if I pray, if I meditate, if I do good things, divine things, regularly, there too I will get the result of them. It is absolutely true, "As you sow, so shall you reap." The law of karma cannot easily be nullified. It can be nullified only when the Divine Grace descends. I am ignorant, and I have done a few things wrong, or many things wrong, so what happens? If I cry to God for forgiveness, for His compassion, then naturally His compassion will dawn on me. If I sincerely cry, then God has the power to nullify the law of karma, the law of action and reaction. It is by God's Grace that we can nullify it. But if God's Grace does not descend on the individual who has committed a great mistake, a Himalayan blunder, naturally he has to pay the penalty for his misdeeds. There is no escape. There is no such thing as escape. I cannot go on doing something undivine and feel that God, the Cosmic Law, will forgive me. No. But, if I have done something wrong, and I really have repentance, if I really don't do it again, if I shed bitter tears and if God sees a soulful cry within my heart, naturally He will forgive me. He will also give me the necessary strength not to commit the same mistake again.

So, for one who does not aspire, who does not want God's forgiveness or God's compassion to overcome the teeming ignorance that he unconsciously cherishes, I wish to say the law of karma is always binding; it will coil around him like a snake. But, if he is really sincere, genuine and aspiring, and he wants to be free from the meshes of ignorance, then naturally he will not do wrong things to start with. He will only do things that are divine, things that are motivated by a divine Will from within. At that time he will know that the law of karma cannot bind him because he is doing everything according to the dictates of his soul, his inner being. The soul will not ask him to do anything wrong. It is the physical, it is the vital, it is the mind in us that unfortunately compel us or instigate us to say and do the wrong things. The soul will never ask us to do anything wrong. On the contrary, the soul will inspire us to say the right thing, to do the right thing and to grow into the right thing. The law of karma will bind us at the point when we are wallowing constantly in the mire of ignorance. This is not our first, and this cannot be our last incarnation. When we come back in our next incarnation, naturally we have to start our journey according to the result that is destined. If I have done many things wrong, I cannot expect to realise the Highest truth in my next incarnation. But, if God's Grace is there, we can easily nullify the results of all our wrong actions.

Question: How can we enter into the life of self-discipline?

Sri Chinmoy: Now we have to know that self-discipline is not just a word that we come across in the dictionary. If I have to choose which quality is most important and fulfilling at the beginning of the spiritual life, then I must say that it is self-discipline. Now, what we need is a disciplined life. If we don't have a disciplined life, we are in no way better than an animal. We are no better than a monkey who is always pinching and biting.

Now, the mind. Our mind is a victim to doubt, worries, anxieties and so forth. A disciplined life will not have the same fate. It will have joy and peace. A disciplined life comes from constant practice. Nobody can be a world champion overnight. What does practice mean? Practice means patience, patience-light. Patience is not something weak. It is something dynamic; it is something illumining. We want it in order to have a disciplined life. Today, if we want to discipline our life altogether, it may be impossible. But tomorrow it will be possible. Slowly, steadily, we have to discipline our life. If we are in a hurry, we can never discipline our life. Suppose we do a few things wrong. Suppose somebody drinks a lot, yet he feels that in the spiritual life he is not supposed to drink at all. What will he do? He has to discipline his life. If he drinks, say six or seven times a day, let him come to realise the fact that it is something harmful, it is damaging to his God-realisation. Then, let him try to drink less. If he drinks six times, let him reduce it to five times a day. Then, after a few days, let him drink four times. Then, after a month or two, or four or six months, let him drink three times a day. Gradually, slowly, let him diminish it.

In our ordinary human life, we know that we are doing many things wrong. If we want to conquer them all at once, we shall simply break. We shall be torn into pieces. No, we have to have a real inner will, willpower, soul's will, to conquer them slowly and steadily so that we will not break. Otherwise, the body will revolt and the body will break.

Now, this disciplined life that you are speaking of can come from only one thing, and that is aspiration, our inner cry. When you cry for outer things, sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't. But if your inner cry is sincere, you will see that the fulfilment dawns. A child cries for milk. He is crying in his cradle in the living room. The mother may be in the kitchen. Wherever she is, when she hears his cry, the mother comes running to feed the child with milk. Now why? The mother feels the cry of the child is genuine and sincere. Similarly, in the spiritual life we have an inner cry. If you have that inner cry, then it does not matter when you cry. It may be at one o'clock or at three o'clock or at noon, in the morning or in the evening. At any hour, that inner cry reaches God, and God is bound to fulfil that inner cry. If one wants to discipline himself, if one is dissatisfied with his loose life, and if he feels that from a disciplined life he can have realisation, he can have real fulfilment, perfection and satisfaction, then God is bound to help that particular sincere seeker. If there is an inner cry, then nothing on earth can be denied. No fulfilment can be denied to an individual who has an inner cry. We cry as human beings for name and fame, for many things. But we do not cry for the one thing which is of paramount importance, and that is God's inner Wealth. What is that inner Wealth? His inner Wealth is Divine Fulfilment, Divine Perfection. We are all imperfect. No human being is perfect. No. But again, our aim is to be perfectly perfect. This perfect perfection can only come from self-discipline. God is all ready. He is more than eager to offer His perfect Perfection. But for that perfect Perfection, we have to grow into a mounting cry which we call aspiration, constant aspiration. When this flame of aspiration rises towards the Highest, it illumines everything around it which is dark. Then, the higher it goes, the greater and more fulfilling is our manifestation. You want me to tell you how you can, or how we can, have a disciplined life, a really disciplined life. I wish to say that the answer lies only in our inner cry, our aspiration. With our inner cry we can have a self-disciplined life. With self-discipline we can get the inner wealth of self-discovery. Self-discipline is the precursor of self-discovery. Self-discovery is the harbinger of God-Manifestation.

Question: When you say "God-realisation," what does it actually mean? How are we supposed to grow into it?

Sri Chinmoy: One has to realise one's own Highest. Now, as human beings we feel that the infinite peace, infinite light, infinite bliss and the infinite divine power are all sheer imagination. We are in the finite, quarrelling and fighting. We are victims to doubt, fear and negative forces which we feel are quite normal and natural. Peace of mind is a far cry. We do not see peace of mind here. We do not see a peaceful atmosphere around us. There is no such thing as peace, light or bliss around us. But, when we talk of God-realisation it means that our inner existence is flooded with peace, poise, equanimity, light and so forth. Now, according to unaspiring people, this is something vague, a fantasy of our imagination, a chimerical mist. But those who practise meditation go deep within and see that there is real peace, light and bliss. It is not merely imagination. It is absolutely real. They get enormous, boundless inner strength, and they see that doubt can be challenged and conquered. Now we are victims to doubt. Each moment we are killing ourselves with this slow poison. Moreover, we cannot love anything. We cannot love anyone. We cannot love ourselves. But once we have achieved God-realisation, there can be no shadow of doubt. It is all certitude. It is all love. It is all illumination. It is all bliss.

Note

Questions asked at the University of Nottingham on November 10, 1970

Question: You said that because we desire, the light within us is eclipsed. Now, we have got basic necessities, for which we require food and shelter, speaking of two on which our lives are based. Is it possible to eradicate desires?

Sri Chinmoy: If you follow the spiritual life, it is quite possible to eradicate desires because God's Will, first of all, helps the seeker to minimise his desires. Now, you say as a human being you have to take care of your family, friends and so forth. This is one way. But there is another way. This we call the divine duty. When God inspires you, you will still spend time on the members of your family, providing for them food, clothing, a good education and other necessary things. There is abundant light in that. But, as human beings, what we feel is that, if we have one car, we want to have two cars. If we have one house, we want to have two houses. We try constantly to increase our material possessions instead of existing with the minimal things we need to live here on earth. God gives us enough capacity. If one wants to aspire, He gives him enough time. There is nobody here on earth who can say that he wants to pray to God but has no time. No. Here we have to see that, if we are really sincere, God will immediately give us the time. He also gives us the capacity. When God asks us to do something, we have to realise immediately that He has given us the capacity which is already within us.

So, as a human being, if somebody says that he has to work for these basic necessities, certainly he has to. But he has to know how many things, unnecessary things, he is crying for. And he is not crying for light; he is only crying for material possessions. For basic things, yes, we have to work; we have to eat, we have to feed ourselves. But for that God has given us the necessary wisdom also. You have to know that if we constantly desire more material possessions, naturally we are eclipsing the inner Sun, which is the light within us. Then we will not aspire.

God wants us to live on earth. God does not want us to live in the Himalayan caves and negate the world. Far from it. Those days are gone. Let us accept the world as such, and then, on the strength of our intense inner cry, God will tell us, "Try, my children, to change the face of the world." When we think of desires, there is no end. They are like teeming clouds. But, when we think of aspiration, it is only one thing: God, God the Truth, God the light. So, if we think of only God the Truth and the light, we will see that automatically the world of desire will fade away. It is like two poles: the North Pole and South Pole. If I am running towards the North Pole, towards my Goal, and it is aspiration that is carrying me there, then naturally I will not be able to see the South Pole. So, overcoming desire is like that. If we aspire, God will give us the necessary strength to be freed from teeming desires. Each human being has the potentiality.

Now, if the human being wants to be a seeker, he has to give primary importance to aspiration. If he cries for God, God knows that his body here on earth is of great importance. The body is the fort. The body is the temple. If there is no temple, how can there be a shrine? So, God will protect him. God will give him the necessary capacity to protect the temple as well. Otherwise, if the temple is broken, the shrine inside the temple cannot remain. God will give us what we need to sustain the body. We have to accept the world, and for that God has given us a body. If we utilise the body properly and divinely, then here on earth we can work for God.

Question: So, if God gives us succour, helps us, and we aspire for God, will those necessities and our desire to satisfy them remain as long as we are alive?

Sri Chinmoy: No. No. No. We have to know that there are two things here on earth. One thing is pleasure, another thing is joy. We know that there is a great difference between pleasure and joy. What is actually happening is that the human world, the outer consciousness, is crying for pleasure; and each time pleasure is fulfilled, we see that frustration looms large in our pleasure. But, if we feel that joy is coming into our lives, then joy grows from joy into more joy, abundant joy, boundless joy. So, when there is real joy within us — when we meditate for five minutes or ten minutes — we get inner joy that fulfils us. But, when we think of pleasure, of buying something unnecessary like a Cadillac or something of that sort, we are fulfilling our pleasure there. Soon after, we are frustrated because the one we have got is not big enough; we want something more comfortable. We are running after comfort here. If we run after comfort with the help of our desire, then naturally we will not be satisfied. But, if we cry for joy, inner joy, then each time we run towards fulfilment because inner joy wants us only to fulfil God; and only by fulfilling God can we be really fulfilled.

Question: You quoted some words of Jesus Christ, whom you called the Son of God. When some of his followers asked him the way to God, he said, "I am the Way. No one comes to the Father but by me." How important do you think Jesus was?

Sri Chinmoy: How important to whom? To me, or to everybody? I cannot speak on behalf of humanity. I can speak only on the strength of my inner realisation. He is highly important, most important. When he says that he is the Way, he is speaking on behalf of his Father, on the strength of his inseparable oneness. Here he is not speaking as an individual human being who says, "If you want to see the truth, I am the only person who can show it to you. You have to come through me." No. He is not speaking in that sense. Nor is he speaking as an ordinary human being who is jealous of others, or who feels that he is the only person who is realised, so that others who are not realised must go through him. No. Here it is his inseparable, his highest oneness with the Way and the Goal. He feels that it is through him, the Christ, that everybody has to go; not through the human personality, Jesus, but through the divinised, absolutely realised being. So, when he says that everybody has to go through him, that he is the Way, we have to know that it is he, the Saviour, who actually had the highest, most all-pervading realisation, and not the human being who stayed on earth for thirty-three years.

Question: I would like you to clarify your concept of God. You jump from the Upanishads to the Bhagavad-Gita and over to the New Testament with this unifying element of God. But it seems to me that the Judeo-Christian concept of a God that is both personal and infinite is a little different from the idea of God as the Absolute, the One, the Supreme Being who is obviously infinite but, it seems to me, impersonal. Could you please clarify your concept?

Sri Chinmoy: Everybody has to define God in his own way. God is personal. God is impersonal. God is everything. Now, if somebody says that God is this and He cannot be something else, then you and I will naturally contradict him. What right has he to say that God is only this? He may say that God is personal. No. I have experienced that God is impersonal. Now, somebody will say that God is infinite light. A third person will say that God is infinite power or Energy. God, being the Infinite, has given us the opportunity to realise Him in infinite ways. Each one is right in his own way, on the strength of his realisation. So some of the spiritual Masters, including the Christ, say that God is a personal being, the Father. All right. Now, let us take Him as the Father, Divine Father, All-pervading Father. There, immediately you may think of Him as personal.

Sri Ramakrishna used to call Him Mahakali, Mother Kali. In this case, He was seen as a personal Deity, or Transcendental Mother. Again, there are some spiritual Masters who did not meditate on God's personal aspect in this way. They meditated on God in His impersonal aspect, as the infinite expanse of water or light. They are also right. You, as a seeker, have to feel which aspect of God is best suited to you. Perhaps you don't want to be satisfied with only one aspect of God. You want to realise God in various aspects. You want God the personal, God the impersonal, God the infinite light, God the infinite peace, bliss and all that. So God being All-Compassionate, is bound to fulfil your aspiration in that way too.

So, in our spiritual life, each seeker has to feel the necessity of realising God in his own way. In that way he will be most convinced and he will be most fulfilled. God defies all definition, but again each individual, when he meditates or prays to God, feels that there is a way for him to realise God. When he sees God in one aspect, he feels, "Oh, it is more than enough for me!" The Ganges runs all the way from the Himalayas, yet, at any one particular point, if you taste just a tiny drop of the Ganges, you can feel that you are drinking the water of the Ganges. So, in the spiritual life also, when you think of infinite light or peace or bliss flowing down, you also feel that just an iota of this peace, light and bliss is fulfilling you; at that time, God's impersonal aspect may not or need not bother your aspiring soul. Right now, many people are afraid, if I may say, of the impersonal aspect of God. They want God the Personal. They want to see God, talk to God face to face, as a human divine Being. But again, there are some who want only God as an infinite expanse of light, peace and bliss. They are perfectly right in their aspiration and when they realise God in that aspect, their realisation will be equally important and fulfilling.

Question: If we have an experience which we feel may be coming from God, in objective truth, how do we know we are experiencing God, the Devil or anything but our own imagination?

Sri Chinmoy: God the Devil will destroy you, but the real God, the compassionate God, will fulfil you. Here, when you meditate, if you get inner peace, or inner joy, then immediately you feel that there is some truth, there is some light that is compelling you to go faster, to move forward, or to go upward, or to dive inward. But if you feel that it is the opposite of that, then naturally some wrong forces, hostile forces, are entering into you. Where there is light, you have to feel there is joy; and where there is joy, real joy, divine joy, there fulfilment is bound to take place. You must know that the spiritual life is not a life of imagination. It is something real, absolutely real.

Question: How does death affect a human being's quest to aspire and to come face to face with God?

Sri Chinmoy: Yesterday I gave a talk on this matter at Kent University. The subject was, "Is Death the End?" I spoke elaborately on this yesterday, but now I wish to say regarding death that nothing is ended. If someone has aspired here, say for ten, fifteen or twenty years and has not yet realised the highest truth, he will come back again. He has to realise the Highest here on earth; God-realisation has to take place here, here on earth.

Death is like a stopping place on the road of Eternity and life is the traveller, the eternal traveller. The soul is the guide. When the traveller becomes tired and exhausted, the guide says, "Take a rest, for a long or a short time, and then afterwards start your journey again."

In our spiritual life, when we meditate, we see that we have gone far beyond the domain of death. The eternal Life, the boundless Life, is here in our consciousness. We come into existence and here we stay and play our roles of transitory life for fifty, sixty or seventy years. Then we pass through a transitory period of death, which is rest.

The body dies. The soul goes back to its own region. The soul knows how much it has achieved or how much it has offered to the world at large here. Now, before it enters into the world again, it will have an interview with the Highest Supreme and will make a solemn promise to Him concerning what it will do in its next incarnation here on earth. Then, with the Blessings of God, it will come down again.

So now, the progress that the soul has made through its aspiration here, towards its own self-revelation, is not lost at all at death because the soul has carried with it all the light that it has acquired.

If we live the life of aspiration, nothing is lost. Nothing. Temporary rest we take, like a soldier who is tired and takes rest for some time and then returns to the battlefield. Here, the soldier has to fight against doubt, fear, worry, anxiety, imperfections, limitations and ignorance. These are the enemies he has to conquer.

But, to come back to your question, nothing is lost. The soul will come back again to this earth arena which it has left. It will return with a higher promise, a higher light, a deeper message from God.

Question: If meditation is the only way of seeing God face to face, how would you advise the man who has a family to look after, to lead the spiritual life and see God face to face?

Sri Chinmoy: The family man, early in the morning when he gets up, what does he do? What does he think of? He thinks of the members of his family, the education of his children and so forth. But if, before he enters into his earthly activities, he can meditate, if he can think of God, say for five minutes, this five minutes nobody can steal from him. Yes, he shoulders responsibility, he has to think of his whole, large earthly family. But again, who shoulders the responsibility of the entire universe? Not he, not the members of his family, but God, God Himself. God Himself shoulders this problem of the entire world.

Now, if for five minutes the family man, the head of the family, meditates on God, on light — for God means light — then the light descends. It starts to decrease his worries and anxieties. When you concentrate for any purpose, perhaps to learn something, whatever you want to do becomes easier. A student, when he does not concentrate on his studies, may read a poem ten times to commit it to memory. He finds it difficult, he cannot do it. But, when he concentrates for five minutes and then reads the poem, he learns it. He just reads it once or twice and it is all memorised.

So, similarly, if an individual who has big family problems meditates for five or ten minutes before he thinks of his family, it will immediately help him in minimising the difficulties he faces and also the light that he will receive will operate in him. He has not to meditate ten or twelve hours like others. He knows that his progress will not necessarily be very fast. Slow and steady wins the race. But, he has to know why he is thinking of his children and members of his family. Not because they are dear to him. No. But because God is inside him and inside his dearest ones. If every day you try to feel God, the living God, inside your children, then immediately you are seeing and feeling the light within them. It is also a form of real meditation. But we don't do that. We look at our children as our possessions and feel that we have every right to mould them and guide them according to our sweet will. We feel that we know best. But, if we see, if we feel that we love our children, the members of our family, precisely because God is inside them, and if we think of that and we meditate on it, we will see that we are doing the highest form of meditation. The son should be dearest to the father, not because he is the son, but because the father feels the son embodies the highest light, which is God. If he loves his son for that purpose, knowing that God is inside him, then he is doing his meditation.

Note

Questions asked at the American College in Paris on November 13, 1970.

Question: Are you the basis of some religious group? What is the name of the religion that you stand for? What do you do?

Sri Chinmoy: I happen to be a spiritual teacher. I have a few hundred disciples in the United States and in various places all over the world. I teach them concentration, meditation and contemplation, the things that are required in order to realise one's inmost truth. I act like a private tutor. I help them in their search for God-realisation. My disciples come to me for inner guidance. I have Centres in quite a few places. I visit these places from time to time. My headquarters are in New York. I have been in the States for the last six years. I have come to this part of the world and here, if somebody wants inspiration, it is my hope that I may be of some service to him. From inspiration one enters into aspiration. Those who are already aspiring can go deeper and higher, in order to realise the highest truth. So, I move around and if I can help any sincere seeker who needs my service, I feel I have played my role, I have played my part. This is what I have been doing so far.

Question: What is your approach to the truth?

Sri Chinmoy: My philosophy is love, devotion and surrender. There are various approaches to the truth. There are many roads that lead to Rome. My philosophy is the philosophy of divine love, divine devotion and divine surrender. Human love we all know. It is nothing uncommon to us. Human love means possession. It culminates in frustration. But divine love is expansion. Here there is no bondage. Here one does not bind anything. One tries to free oneself and one tries to free mankind on the strength of one's conscious oneness with God.

Question: Is this true what you talk about? The realisation of God?

Sri Chinmoy: This is my realisation and I am trying to offer it to those who are sincerely seeking the truth, to those who are interested in my path. This is my own realisation based on love, devotion and surrender. This is my approach. There are many paths, but my path happens to be this.

Question: Have you heard of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness? Do you share the belief that the animals, plants and all objects are just another physical embodiment of the Spirit's soul?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, I have heard of them. I wish to say that God is everywhere. God is in this table. God is in the chair. God is in the wall. He is everywhere. So I believe in God the Omnipresent. As I believe in God the Omniscient, Omnipotent, so I believe in God the Omnipresent.

Question: Don't you believe in hell?

Sri Chinmoy: We don't believe in hell according to the way the Christian belief goes. We believe that hell is right inside us and heaven is also right inside us. It is all in the mind. This moment, I am thinking of something good, something divine. I pray, I meditate and I try to offer the inner light that I have gained from my meditation and prayers. This is when I am living in heaven. But this moment, if I think evil of you, criticise you and cherish wrong thoughts about you, then I am in perfect hell. Hell we create. Heaven we create. With our divine thoughts we are creating heaven. Again, with our wrong thoughts, silly thoughts, undivine thoughts, we are creating hell within us.

Question: Sir, I have read of astral power, that through meditation one can bring out one's inner part and travel. Have you ever done that?

Sri Chinmoy: Well, I have done it hundreds of times, thousands of times. We call it the astral body. It is inside the physical body. It is the astral body with which we take astral journeys. The astral world is in the vital world. If you practise spirituality you will also acquire this kind of ability. We have six major centres. There is a special Yoga called Kundalini Yoga. If you follow Kundalini Yoga, you can open up these centres. These centres are not in the physical body proper; otherwise the doctors would have discovered them long ago. They are in our subtle body. If you can open up all the centres in the subtle body, there you can have all the powers which we call occult powers. You can easily travel all over the world with your astral body.

Question: How does someone go about meditating if he has never done it before? How is he going to start meditating? What sort of steps should he take and what should he expect? What can help him at the start?

Sri Chinmoy: In the beginning if one wants to start he has first of all to read some spiritual books, religious books, preferably written by the spiritual Masters and not by the professors and scholars. He will soon realise that a writer who has realised the truth and God can give him infinitely more inspiration than any book written by an unrealised man. Further, inspiration is not enough. The book may have given him knowledge about realisation, but it may not be helping him as a practical guide. So what he needs at that time is a teacher.You have to go to a spiritual teacher who can show you how to meditate. Just because you are inspired, you have every right to go to a spiritual teacher and ask him for a favour. Your fee at that time is your inspiration and your aspiration. You want to aspire. Since you are offering him your fee, he is bound to accept you. You are studying here at the university. You are paying the fee and you are a student of this university.Every individual will realise God, but every individual needs help. For your outer knowledge you have come to the university, and there is somebody here to teach you. Similarly, for your inner knowledge also, one who has got inner knowledge will be able to help you in studying the inner subject, which is meditation.

Question: Is it possible, without dying, for the soul to leave the body? That is, could you still function without your soul?

Sri Chinmoy: Only for a short time you can. When you are asleep, sometimes the soul moves around. It leaves for a few minutes or for an hour or for a few hours. The soul can leave the body at other times as well for a short period.

Question: But what happens to you when you have no soul?

Sri Chinmoy: During my deep meditation many times, like a bird, I go from here to there. I live in New York but I go to Jamaica, West Indies; I go to Puerto Rico and so many other places. My disciples see me there then as clearly as you see me here now. It is a matter of a few minutes. The soul's minutes are different from our minutes. In one second the soul can do hundreds of things, whereas in one second I can only move my finger. I can just move a yard or so. But if the soul really leaves the body, then naturally the body cannot stay without it. If the bird flies away from the cage, then the cage is useless. It is only when the bird stays in the cage that we go and see the cage.

Question: I have some friends who do Christian meditation. They read the Bible and they have been inspired by that. They have been able to really meditate on the Bible, but whenever they felt that they had come close to God there was always a presence of evil around. Why is this? Can it be avoided?

Sri Chinmoy: No, that is not true. I mean I am saying this from the viewpoint of our path. I have no right to speak about the Christian belief or your friend. In our path we say that there are two poles: North Pole and South Pole. Let us say the South Pole is darkness and the North Pole is light. Now, if my aim is to reach the North Pole which is all light, then as soon as I enter into my destination it will be all light. There can be no darkness. Yes, for a short while we enter into the corridors of darkness, but we know that our aim is to reach the North Pole where it is all light. Now in this room here, if you turn off the light, then there will be no light. Suppose that for ten days or twenty days nobody enters into this hall. There will be all darkness, true. But the moment somebody comes and turns on the light there will be light. So in the being also, if somebody remains in ignorance, in darkness for ten years, fifteen years, twenty years or forty years, it doesn't mean that he will never be illumined. Yes, for forty years he was in deep darkness. But the moment somebody enters into the room and has the capacity to illumine it, the darkness disappears. Here we need an electrician to bring in light if there is no light. Similarly, in the spiritual life we need an electrician, whom we call a spiritual Master. He helps in bringing us the light. In a spiritual person it is a slightly different matter because the light is already there, in the aspirant. The spiritual Master is not giving his own light. You have the light, only you do not know where your light is. So the spiritual Master helps you in seeing the light within you. If once you see the light, how can there be darkness? Where is darkness here now? You tell me.

Question: This friend of mine had no religion. She didn't care about religion. She was very wild when she was at college. But then she was inspired to open the Bible for some reason. She felt very pulled to it and she started to study it more and more. Then she joined some Christian meditation group. But at one point she said she kept getting things, like somebody was bothering her. She said it was from the Devil. But finally her belief got stronger, so it stopped. What was it that actually happened to her? Was this trouble she had something good for her?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. It was an experience. As her faith in God was stronger than the evil forces that she was encountering, naturally she could succeed. She did succeed. It is our faith in God that can enable us to overcome all negative forces. But although she was stronger, while she was fighting against evil forces, if she had felt that there was no light, no light from within or from the Beyond, naturally she would have become a victim to the evil forces. Then she would have been destroyed. Since her faith in God was genuine and strong, finally she saw the light. The darkness did not conquer her, could not conquer her.

Question: Some people who have reached enlightenment have felt compelled through compassion to serve other people in the sense of spreading their enlightenment, like you for instance. Whereas other people have retired with their enlightenment to live almost solitary lives. Which is the best? What makes them make this kind of choice?

Sri Chinmoy: Now, it is like this. There are many students every year from each university, hundreds of students, who get their Master's degrees. You see though that only a few go on to enter into the teaching line. Some people get their Master's degree and then they enter into some office or industry or some consulate. Again, some enter into the universities and they start teaching. But they all have got their degree. In the spiritual life also, some people have realised God, but they feel that it is not necessary for them to spread light or to help mankind. It might seem as if they have gotten their realisation just for their own sake. But they really have enlightenment, and you cannot deny it. You cannot say that that person has not got his degree, I mean the inner degree of illumination. Again, some others feel, "No, let us help."

Some people get their Master's degree and then teach, while on the other hand, others do not teach after getting their Master's degrees. They do not try to teach at the universities or anywhere. They enter into various fields, various walks of life. In the spiritual life also, some realised souls will feel that they crossed the barriers of ignorance and they are now really tired. It is not an easy thing to realise God, to get illumination. Now they feel that they have acted like real divine heroes in the battlefield of life. They fought against fear, doubt, anxieties, worries, imperfections, limitations, bondage and so forth. They feel they have every right to withdraw if they ask God and if God allows them. If God says, "All right, now you no longer have to take part. Don't take any conscious part in the Cosmic Game. You just observe", then, if they have got permission from God, naturally they can remain silent. But again, those people who are not taking part in helping mankind, say they are meditating, are also doing something very great because their will has become one with God's Will. That is to say, they do not enter into any kind of conflict with God's Will. Ordinary human beings will desire many things, will do many things against God's Will consciously or unconsciously. These realised people, realised souls, may not take active part, they may not go from one place to another or they may not open up spiritual Centres and so forth, but they will offer their conscious good will to mankind. How many people are offering their good will to mankind? We quarrel, we fight, we do many things, we act like animals. But the spiritual people who have got their own illumination will try to offer that illumination inwardly, that is to say through their conscious good will to mankind. They take God's permission and withdraw. God says, "All right, My son, do not take active part, but you be the observer. You be the witness. Let your other brothers who want to work here for us do it. Let them do it." Then they obey Him. So here we cannot say that one is greater because he is crying for mankind, because he is trying to help. Only he is great who listens to God's Will. God has told that particular teacher, spiritual Master who has got illumination, "You don't have to offer your light. You just inwardly give. Outwardly you do not have to move around and all that. Inwardly give your good will to mankind." Similarly, to me or to others, He will say, "No. I want you to move around and give the light, the inner light that you have. If people want to have it, be of service to them. If they don't want it, it is up to them." So, what is most important is to listen to God's Will at that time. If God tells me to take an active part I will take it. Also if God says, "No, I don't need you to take an active part; you just offer your good will to mankind in silence. That is all," I will listen to His Will.

Question: Would God send you a dream? Do you believe in spiritual dreams? What do they actually mean? Can dreams come true?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly, we do believe in dreams. But we have to know there are many places from which dreams come. Sometimes from the subconscious world we get many dreams which have no value. Sometimes we get dreams from the higher worlds. When we get dreams from the higher worlds these dreams are bound to materialise. Today's dream is tomorrow's reality. Why? Because the dream is coming from a world which is living, palpable. Only with our limited consciousness we do not know this. When we meditate we enter into many worlds consciously and the reality of these worlds enters into us in our dream. If the dream is from a higher world, it is fulfilled today or tomorrow. It has to be fulfilled. But, if it is just from the subconscious world, where we are quarrelling, fighting and doing so many undivine things, then it need not materialise.

Question: How can you tell the difference [between dreams from higher worlds and those from the subconscious world?

Sri Chinmoy: When you study you know many things, many, many things, and you know the difference between this and that. So also when you meditate you will come to recognise the difference. When you meditate, immediately you will be able to enter into these worlds, but this takes time. How many years have you been studying in order to get your Master's degree? Similarly, in the spiritual world I spent twenty years studying, practising the spiritual life. For twenty years I was at a particular spiritual institution. Twenty years right from my childhood I spent practising and that is why I am in this position. If you study something for twenty years I am sure you will also be an authority on that particular subject.

Question: Six or seven times my uncle has had very vivid dreams which have actually happened on the physical plane after he has awakened. He believes that it is the soul that is giving him the message. Is he right about that? Can we all learn to interpret our dreams?

Sri Chinmoy: It is absolutely true. If you get the messages from up above, they are bound to take place. The thing is that if we meditate, if we concentrate, we consciously enter into the dream worlds. Now the dream world to us is something vague, uncertain, obscure to some extent. But if we study we come to know many things. Because you are studying here you have gathered, amassed knowledge. If you study inner life, naturally you will be inundated with the inner knowledge. It is a matter of studying. Self-knowledge is self-cultivation, inner discovery. When you study you discover many things. Similarly, if you study inwardly, then you will discover the inner life. There everything is recorded; we have only to unfold it.

Note

Questions asked at the University of London, London, England, on November 11, 1970.

Question: Do you suggest any special kind of mantra or meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: In my case, I teach my disciples how to meditate. I have a few hundred disciples. I teach them meditation. I have given mantras to a few, but I prefer meditation. I teach them collective meditation. Again, I teach them individually when I see that they need an individual meditation. They come to our Centres. We have a few Centres and the students come there and I teach them how to meditate. Mantras are important, extremely important, but I feel that meditation includes everything. If you can meditate well for, say, ten or fifteen minutes, then it will serve the same purpose that the mantras serve. When we repeat a mantra, it offers us a particular result. While using a mantra, we may pray to a particular god or invoke some particular god to give us peace, light, bliss or something else that we want or need. But, when we meditate, we enter into a vast expanse of peace, light and bliss. So, in my case I ask my disciples to meditate. Of course there is no hard and fast rule. I have given mantras to a few selected disciples. But in most cases I have advised my disciples to meditate.

Question: When you say "meditate," do you mean to meditate on something, on some particular god or something? How does one who has had no experience go about meditating?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, I have to say here at this point that my students and disciples each have a picture of me which was taken when I was in my highest Transcendental Consciousness. All those who claim to be my disciples meditate on that picture every day. I tell them to concentrate and meditate on that picture. When they meditate they either feel that they are entering into me, into my inner Consciousness, or they feel that I am entering into them. I have simplified the matter. There are some among them who have received specific meditations from me. Again, there are many who have recently joined me. I tell them, "I shall meditate on your behalf if you give me the chance." The picture that I ask them to meditate on was taken when I was in my own highest Consciousness. There, I am absolutely one with my Inner Pilot. I tell my disciples, when they meditate on the picture, "Either you enter into me, or allow me to enter into you. Then I shall meditate on your behalf." So this is how my disciples meditate.

About others who are not my disciples, when they ask me individually, say here at the lecture hall, I tell them to try to control their thoughts, not to allow any thoughts to come in. The mind has to be vacant, calm, quiet. At the beginning it is impossible for an aspirant to be free from thoughts, ideas, the memories of the past and so forth. I tell them, "Feel that it is you who have to conquer your nature." Right now, a monkey is beside you, constantly pinching and biting you. You need not be afraid of the monkey. You just exercise your inner strength, inner power, and threaten the monkey. When he is threatened, the monkey stops biting you. Similarly, the undivine thoughts that are pinching, biting and disturbing your mind can easily be conquered by you.

Now, say you are standing at the door of your house. It is up to you to open the door to admit anyone. You are inside if you see that your enemies are outside wanting to come in, naturally you won't allow them in; but if you see that your friends are waiting, immediately you will allow them in. In the beginning you have to be very careful and cautious not to allow just anybody to come into your house. When you do open the door, your mental door, you will admit only those thoughts, divine thoughts, that will encourage you, inspire you, uplift your consciousness. They are your friends. Doubt, fear, anxieties and worries are your enemies. If they want to enter, immediately lock the door. Don't allow them in. A seeker who has no spiritual Master, who has no guide, has to practise meditation in this way. First he has to make his mind absolutely calm and quiet. No thought, no iota of thought, must enter into his mind. He has to feel that he is standing behind the door. The door is locked. Nobody is to enter. Then, later, he has to allow only the divine thoughts, the divine ideas to enter. He must let them grow gradually, gradually. Also he will sow the seed of divine truth inside his mind. Then, after a few years, he will gather a bumper crop of realisation. This is what the seekers should do, if they do not have a personal Master or Guru.

But, when you have a Master, a Pilot, a Boatman, once you are in his boat, it is his responsibility to take you to the Golden Shore. While you are seated in the boat, you can sing, you can sleep, you can do anything you want to. Once you enter into the tube, the subway, you can do anything. But, in order to enter, you have to get a ticket. After you purchase the ticket, you have to board the train which takes you to your destination. Now, the ticket for the spiritual life is aspiration. The real fee is aspiration. If you have aspiration, and if you have found your Master, then meditation becomes infinitely easier.

Question: At your Centre, if you set one up here, will it be somewhere that people can come at intervals and discuss spiritual matters and meditate? What sort of meetings do you have at the Centres existing now?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us speak about our New York Centre, which is our main Centre. We have a few Centres: New York, Puerto Rico, Connecticut, Miami and the West Indies; but I stay most of the time at the New York Centre.

On Thursdays my disciples come to my place. There I hold a very high meditation. That is to say, during that meeting I don't speak. The disciples come in and for about two hours, sometimes more, they meditate in front of me. Very often, I ask them to come to the front of the room in groups of ten or twelve at a time. They sit in front of me, and I enter into my highest Consciousness. Then I enter into them. I enter into each individual soul, and I see what each soul wants me to offer. Whatever they want I offer them in utmost silence. If they want peace, they get peace. If they want light, they get light…. There is no talking at all. The disciples receive according to their inner receptivity. Some may be extremely receptive while others are not so receptive. According to their receptivity they receive whatever I bring down from above on Thursdays.

On Sundays I give a short talk on the spiritual life, on meditation, Yoga and so forth. Then the disciples ask me questions. Often I go to the universities to give talks, and my students also attend these. On Sundays, in order to convince the minds of the disciples of the reality of what they are doing on Thursdays, I give talks. I answer their questions. We may meditate and get inner joy. But then when we re-enter the physical mind we are frustrated, we doubt ourselves. We ask, "Was it proper meditation or was it all mental hallucination?" After meditation we start doubting ourselves. But, if the seekers of the truth listen to the spiritual Master, then their doubts disappear. Their mind is also convinced that their meditation on Thursday was something real, genuine, and not hallucination. That is why I hold meetings on Sundays where these things can be discussed.

Question: What does the United Nations Meditation Group do? Who belongs to this group? What kind of meetings do you hold?

Sri Chinmoy: The United Nations Meditation Group meets every Tuesday, when I go to the United Nations to hold meditation from twelve noon to one p.m. The representatives from various parts of the world and the staff members of the Secretariat come there to meditate. For about half an hour I meditate with them. I look at each individual seeker for a couple of seconds and try to lift, to elevate, their consciousness. I must say, the seekers who come there are extremely sincere. We hold our meditation in the peace Room. They come, they meditate and they are inundated with inner peace. After that, usually I give a short talk for ten minutes or so. Then I invite questions, one serious question and sometimes two. We hold our meditation there every Tuesday. I am extremely glad and fortunate to be able to tell you that very recently I received a letter from the Secretary-General U Thant, appreciating our achievements. We have received two letters from him appreciating our spiritual activities in the peace Room.

Question: When you first came to the platform this evening, before you began to speak, you, I presume, meditated a bit. What exactly were you doing? Were you receiving any feeling from the people here this evening?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. I did quite a few things. First, when I stood up here I personally entered into a very high plane of consciousness. To be very frank with you, it was not my highest plane of consciousness. My highest plane is infinitely higher. But I did go very high. Then I tried to enter into the aspiring souls. Here, most of you are aspiring. I tried to raise you to your divine heights. When I saw that some of you, not all, had responded to my inner call, I felt that the time had come for me to speak. At that time your souls became in tune with my soul. Then, even if I had not spoken a word, if I had not said anything at all and just meditated with all of you here for about half an hour or forty minutes, my purpose in coming here would have been served, perhaps even in a more convincing way. There the communication would have been more meaningful and successful. But unfortunately I have come here to give a talk. In silence, spiritual Masters do infinitely more meaningful and significant things than they do through speech. On the one hand we try to elevate the consciousness of the seekers; on the other hand, it is we who bring down the consciousness in inviting questions. We bring it down, but this is unfortunately unavoidable. People come to listen and we try to offer our light. Again, as I said before, it is to convince the physical mind that we do this; we talk and answer spiritual questions. I entered into a high plane of consciousness, and from there I tried to elevate the aspiring consciousness of the seekers here. When I saw that they were in tune with me, I started talking.

Question: When you go into your highest consciousness, do you leave your body?

Sri Chinmoy: No, I do not leave my body when I enter into my highest consciousness. Nobody has to leave his body in order to enter into his highest consciousness.

When I enter into my highest consciousness, I do not allow my physical mind to operate, I do not allow the earthly physical consciousness to operate at all. When I give extemporaneous talks, I stay most of the time in a state of consciousness far beyond the mind. But when I answer questions, my knowing and illumining mind operates. Sometimes during my talks I look to this side and that side in order to get sublime ideas. And at that time I get divine thoughts either from within or from without. When I answer questions, it is altogether a different matter.

Question: Do you believe that everyone can meditate as you would like people to meditate? For instance, I have been to meditation classes, and I find it extremely difficult to meditate. When I meditate, to a certain degree I feel relaxed. But frankly, I feel no more than that.

Sri Chinmoy: Do you have a teacher, a spiritual Master?

Not really. There is someone I went to who is not a real teacher, not a Guru.

Sri Chinmoy: Unfortunately there is the difficulty. You need a spiritual teacher. You need a personal interview with your teacher in order to discuss the problems in your spiritual life with him. In our New York Centre one has to wait for six months for a personal interview with me. But whenever I go out of New York, if I see some seekers who are really sincere, then I give them a short interview for ten or twelve minutes. At that time the seeker need not be my disciple, far from it. Just because he is a sincere seeker, I try to help him in whatever way I can. But it is necessary to have a spiritual Master of your own. Again, you have to know that a spiritual teacher is not like an ordinary teacher or professor. He is like a private tutor. A professor will simply pass or fail you in a course according to your own standard. A tutor is not like that. A tutor helps you wholeheartedly and unconditionally so that you can pass your examination well. Your task is to swim across the sea of ignorance with the help of an able Master. You need a spiritual Master. You have to get a Master of your own.

Question: Is there a Master that you know of in London that you would recommend?

Sri Chinmoy: I came to London just the other day. I do not know anybody here. I can only suggest to all of you here that, if some of you are really interested in the spiritual life, meditation and so forth, then you must form a small group, like a family, where three or four persons can meditate together. This will help you to some extent in your spiritual life. Unfortunately I do not know any spiritual Master here, otherwise I would immediately have mentioned someone you could try.

Question: On what criteria does a seeker take a prospective Master? How can you tell a good one from a bad one?

Sri Chinmoy: Again, it is a matter of inner feeling. Now you see that you have quite a few universities in England. What do you do? Your inner being or something from within tells you, "Go to London University." In England there are many universities, but you feel from within that London University is better for you than Cambridge or Oxford or some other place. That is why you are studying here. As regards your inner life also, you can make your own selection.

In the spiritual life there is a way of knowing one's own Master. Here, the student, the seeker himself, has to play the role of a teacher. How? He has to give marks to the Master. You know that there are quite a few spiritual Masters all over the world. You will write down their names. Write down the names of ten spiritual Masters. Then, you repeat the name of the first Master on the list seven times. You write him on your heart. Then try to see what kind of feeling you get. If you feel an inner thrill, then you give him 60% or 70%. Then you repeat the next Master's name. If you get no feeling from him, you give him zero. Then again, you meditate on somebody else, the next on the list. Repeat his name seven times. If you find you get a greater thrill than you got with the first one, then you give him 75% or 80%. You do this with all the spiritual Masters on your list. Then, the one who gets the highest mark from you is bound to be your Master.

This inner thrill that you feel is not false pleasure or anything of that sort; it is real inner ecstasy that you are getting. The moment one hears the very name of the Master, or one sees the Master, one immediately enters into the highest realm of bliss according to one's own capacity. This has been the experience of many of my students and disciples, just after hearing my name. They have not seen me, but just by seeing my picture in the newspaper, or by hearing someone mention my name to them on the telephone, they have felt an inner thrill from within; now they have become my disciples. Again, there are many who come to me who are not meant for me, who have heard me talking at the universities or some other places, but who didn't feel anything in me. They are perfectly right in going to some other Master who is destined to be their Master.

So, in your case, if you are looking for a Master, you kindly be the judge. You give them marks and see who deserves the highest mark from you. He who gets the highest mark is bound to be your Master. This mark you will give according to your inner ecstasy.

Question: Just following up that question, I feel that I don't require the guidance or tuition of any particular Master. There have been many Masters: the Christ, Buddha, Krishna. Now, I feel that I can get the same from any one of them as I can get from a living Master. Isn't that true?

Sri Chinmoy: No. Unfortunately that is not so. It is true that Krishna, Buddha and the Christ were Masters of the highest calibre, but what happens is that if you get a living Master then it becomes much easier. Every day, in your daily activities, it will be easier for you if you have a living Master.

Today, if your son falls sick, then you can immediately approach your spiritual Master who is on earth. You don't have to go deep within to contact him. If you are in difficulty today, if you are depressed or some calamity takes place in the family, then immediately you can approach him here. Your living Master comes to your immediate rescue. Further, when it is a matter of aspiration also, he can sit right in front of you and teach you how to meditate. Otherwise, you may meditate for hours, yet you may feel that you are walking through a stony desert, a stormy night. Without a living Master, walking along the path is an extremely long and difficult process. If a living Master is right in front of you, and sees you face to face, then you can give to him all your earthly frustration as a human being — just as in the case of Krishna and Arjuna, who stayed side by side. Arjuna offering his doubts, his fears, his everything, to Krishna. Finally, Arjuna was illumined by Krishna. So similarly, in your spiritual life today, if you get a living Master it becomes infinitely easier.

Yes, if you meditate on Krishna or the Christ, certainly you will realise God. But if you want to go faster, you need a living Master. It will be easier and faster for you if you see somebody who can illumine your consciousness and whom you can approach at your sweet will. It is difficult to approach the spiritual Masters who have left the body. You have to go deep within, cry deep within, to get their Blessings. If you have a Master right beside you, you can offer to him all your sufferings, all your anxieties, worries and doubts. In this way it is much easier. It is not that the other Masters of the hoary past are not necessary. They are of paramount importance. But, if you want to make the life of aspiration simple, easy, and if you want to run faster and safer, then you have to get the help of a living spiritual Master.

Note

Questions asked at Keble College, Oxford University, Oxford, England, on November 19, 1972.

Question: Could you say something about breathing in meditation? Are there any practical ways in which breathing can be regulated which will be beneficial to meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Breathing is of paramount importance during meditation. Now, I wish to advise a beginner that when he wants to breathe correctly, he should sit erect. His spinal cord must remain erect. When he breathes in, he has to breathe slowly and quietly. Then, after a few months of practising slow and quiet breathing, he can start alternate breathing. That is to say, when you breathe in, you breathe through just one nostril, holding the other closed. Do this a few times and then reverse the nostril.

There is another traditional system you can apply. When you breathe in, you can repeat the name of God, or, if your spiritual Master has given you any mantra, you can repeat that. When you breathe in, try to repeat the name or mantra once. When you hold your breath, repeat it four times. And, when you release the breath, at that time repeat it twice. One, four, two. While you are inhaling, count one. While you are holding the breath, count four. While you are exhaling the breath, count two.

This system of breathing is called Pranayama. If you want to know more about breathing, you should go to a spiritual Master who has personal experience in breathing. He will teach you how to breathe properly, step-by-step. I always advise a beginner to breathe as slowly and quietly as possible, then later to do this alternate breathing. Then, after that, he can hold just a tiny thread right in front of his nose as he breathes and see if the thread is moving to-and-fro. If it is moving to-and-fro, that means the breathing is not quiet. There is a restless movement in the breathing. If it does not move, if the thread is not disturbed by the breath, then it is Yogic breathing. This you can try for some time. One has to go to one's own spiritual Master, and he will teach this step-by-step. He will observe the disciple's breathing and correct it if it is improper.

While breathing one has to be very careful. That is to say, one has to think of purity first. If, when one breathes in, one feels consciously or unconsciously that the breath that he is using is coming directly from God, from Purity itself, his breath will be purified. Several things can be done to further develop this sense of purity in the breath. First, for a few minutes, try to imagine a flower right in front of your nose. The flower will automatically give you the sense of purity. Either a flower or a candle flame or incense, something that represents purity, that convinces the physical mind, should be imagined in the beginning.

Question: Do you think that marriage is necessarily an obstacle on the spiritual path?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the individual marriage. If one has the capacity to think of God while carrying on a married life, if his inspiration is tremendous, his inner cry constant, then there is no objection.

But very often what happens is that when one gets married, one is pulled down because a tremendous responsibility commences for him He wants to run fast but, consciously or unconsciously, he puts a burden on his shoulders. Now, naturally, if a runner wants to run the fastest, and at the same time puts a heavy load on his shoulders, how can he run the fastest?

But again, if somebody wants to accept life, if he feels, "Here on earth I have to establish perfection," then what will he do? Man will see God in woman and woman will see God in man. Here God is both masculine and feminine. If a man feels that he should take his other half also, so that his realisation will be integral and complete, then he is again in a position to run the fastest towards the Goal. You know there are quite a few spiritual Masters, even Masters of the highest order, who got married. There were some ancient Rishis who were married. Their realisation was in no way inferior to that of others who didn't get married.

Again, we have to know what God wants from the individual. If God wants you not to get married, it is up to God. God feels that in that way you will reach Him. If God wants your friend to get married, if He feels that your friend needs the experience of married life, then this also is the Divine Will. If your friend follows God's dictates, he too, will reach the Goal. So, there is no hard and fast rule. One cannot say that married life is necessarily a hindrance to spiritual realisation. Again, one cannot say that if one does not get married, his life can never be fulfilled. On the other hand, an unmarried man does not necessarily lead a better or purer life. No. He may not be a married person, but his mind may remain in the ordinary vital, lower world. So he will not make any progress.

We have to know what God wants. When we meditate, when we aspire, we come to learn God's Will. If it is God's Will, naturally there will be no difficulty in realising the truth after entering into married life. But, if it is not God's Will, then we have to be very careful. We are then, consciously or unconsciously, putting a heavy burden on our shoulders. Each individual has to decide if married life is necessary for him personally.

Question: I've read in some places that the use of sexual energy means that you use up some spiritual energy at the same time. Is this true? In that case, what can be done if one wants to lead a spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: What you have read is absolutely true. The animal human life and divine God-life do not and cannot go together. But one cannot realise God overnight. It is impossible. You don't get your Master's degree in the twinkling of an eye, or in a day, or even in a year. It may require twenty years of study to achieve. God-realisation is also a study, the most difficult subject. It takes quite a few years. Fifteen, twenty, thirty years, even many lifetimes, many incarnations, are required to realise God.

But if you tell a beginner that he will have to give up all his lower vital life and everything of that sort all at once, he will say, "Impossible! How can I do that?" If he has to give up all his lower vital propensities the moment he enters into the spiritual life, he will never enter into the spiritual life at all. So instead, he has to make headway towards his Goal slowly and steadily. He should not try to give up everything all at once. It is just like smoking or drinking. If someone feels that drinking excessively is a serious obstacle to his spiritual life, let him try to minimise it slowly. If he is drinking five times a day, let him try to drink four times a day instead. Then, after a few months, let him try to make it three times a day. Then, after considerable time, he can make it twice. Gradually, slowly, if he tries to diminish his hankering after drinking, he will be successful. This way, it will not tell upon his health. Otherwise, it will only be a great struggle. The body will resist and it will break down.

So, in the spiritual life also, the lower vital nature which you may call sex, has to be gradually conquered. If one enters into the spiritual life and says, "Today I shall conquer all my lower propensities", he is just fooling himself. Tomorrow his mind will be in doubt. His physical mind will torture him. His impure and cruel vital will try to punish him in every way. He will feel miserable. He will be frustrated and inside his frustration will loom his own destruction.

So I advise my students to go slowly. But you have to know that one day you will have to conquer everything, all lower vital movements. But that day is not going to dawn just now for the beginner. We don't get our Master's degree while we are in kindergarten. We come up to the M.A. degree after we have already passed through all the previous grades. So, in the same way, we gradually acquire the knowledge we need for the Highest truth. Slowly and steadily. But, to attain to the ultimate truth, the ultimate Goal, the realisation of the highest order, the seeker needs total purification and total transformation of the lower vital.

Question: Would you say something about death? What is it? What happens when we die? Can we conquer the fear of death through meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Very recently I spoke on death. I think it was my first talk here in England — at the University of Kent, Canterbury. "Is Death the End?" was the title.

Now, from the spiritual point of view, death is not the end. Being a spiritual man, I can say on the strength of my own inner realisation that our soul does not die. The body dies. The body is composed of the five elements called Pancha Bhuta. At the time of death, the body enters into the physical sheath. The vital enters into the vital sheath. The mind enters into the mental sheath proper, and so forth. The soul flies back to the soul's own region.

Death is nothing but a short or a long rest for the soul. The soul came into the world, and this world is like a battlefield. The soldier does not remain all the time on the battlefield. He fights. Then, either he loses the battle or he dies, or he goes back victorious, triumphant. In the same way, in the spiritual life, we constantly fight. We do not fight against an enemy outside ourselves, but we fight against our own inner enemies: fear, doubt, anxiety and worry. And our worst enemy is death. We are constantly fighting against ignorance, and death is, unfortunately, the fond child of ignorance.

So, a spiritual person sees and knows that death is not the end. It is just like being on a road. He walks along the road and, when anything happens on the road, he takes a short or a long rest. After the rest he walks along the road again. And what is the road? The road is life. We came from infinite Life, the Life Divine. That infinite Life stayed here on earth for a short span of time, say fifty or sixty years, during which time it consciously became earthbound. Then this life again passed through the corridor of death, remaining, say, for five years or ten years, or fifteen or twenty years. The time depends upon the individual soul. Then again it comes down into this world and starts functioning here on earth. Its very purpose of coming into this world is to manifest the ultimate truth. Until the manifestation is complete, its aspiration, realisation remain unfulfilled. So, from the spiritual point of view, a spiritual seeker will always say that death is not the end. It is only a rest.

Very often I have said that you can take death as your bedroom, sleeping room, and life as your living room. When we are in the sleeping room, we don't have to show our life. There we sleep. We do not have to show our life to our friends. No. When we are in the living room, we have to work, we have to show that we are alive, we have to prove that we exist. In the other room, where we take rest, we do not have to show anything. Death is like a room where we take rest for a short time or a long time. Then again we come back to life, the living room, to fulfil our day-to-day tasks.

So, to come back to your question, I wish to say that through meditation we can conquer the fear of death. When we meditate, we enter into the endless Life. However, just by entering into the endless Life, we do not possess that Life. For that, we have to meditate and meditate, and then we have to grow into that endless Life.

Question: Can you tell us how to choose a Master? How can we know if we have made the right choice?

Sri Chinmoy: I have been asked this question quite a few times. Now, you want to choose a Master. I wish to tell you that God has given you a unique opportunity to choose your own Master. And God has given you the opportunity to be with your teacher. Now you are looking for a Master. You are a student. God, at this point, gives you the opportunity and capacity to choose your own Master by doing something very simple.

You will write down the names of all the Masters that you have come across or that you have heard of, or that you have found out about in the books you have read. There may be a few: seven, eight or ten names.

Then, take the name of the first spiritual Master on the list and, as you repeat his name, place your right hand on your heart. Try to feel the sound, the palpitation of your heart as you repeat the name seven times. Follow the list. Repeat the name of each Master and, as you do, immediately try to feel the heartbeat. Then, if you feel any joy, delight or ecstasy, instantly write down a mark for it. Mark it say, sixty out of a hundred, or seventy out of a hundred. You have to determine what kind of joy you are getting and then rate it on a scale accordingly.

For each name on the list, as you repeat it seven times with your hand over your heart, try to feel the heartbeat. Then, give each name marks as you listen. Each time, mark whether you feel joy or not. Suppose you get no response, no joy, no inspiration when you repeat the name of a particular Master, then you are in a perfect position to give him zero out of a hundred.

When you get tremendous response from a Master on the list, say you are thrilled all over. His very name sends an enormous thrill from the soles of your feet to the crown of your head, you are bound to give him ninety, ninety-five or even a hundred. Undoubtedly he is your Master. He is meant for you and you are meant for him. Suppose he is not here. He is in India. Then you have to go there. Or, if he is meant for you, circumstances will bring your Master here. If you are meant for him, if you are a chosen disciple of that particular Master, God will without fail either take you to him or bring him to you.

Question: Could you explain the difference between Samadhi and self-realisation? I know they are not the same theoretically, but I don't see why they're not.

Sri Chinmoy: They are not the same. Samadhi and self-realisation are not the same because Samadhi is a state in which you can stay only for a few hours, for a few days. You cannot stay in this state for more than twenty-one days. Usually after three weeks the body does not function. The infinite Grace of the Absolute Supreme has to dawn and take you into another channel of divine dynamic Consciousness, if it wants you to work for God on earth. As regards realisation, you have to know that once you have achieved realisation, it lasts forever.

Samadhi is an exalted and glowing state of Consciousness, whereas realisation is a conscious, natural and manifesting state of Consciousness.

There are three stages of Samadhi: Savikalpa Samadhi, Nirvikalpa Samadhi and Sahaja Samadhi. Usually we speak of Savikalpa and Nirvikalpa.

In Savikalpa Samadhi there are thoughts, ideas, but they do not affect the most advanced seeker or the Yogi. The Yogi remains unperturbed. He functions in a dynamic and confident manner.

In Nirvikalpa Samadhi, nature's dance stops. There is no movement. Everything is tranquil. The Knower and the Known have become totally One. The lover and the Beloved have become One. The Yogi enjoys a supremely divine, all-pervading, self-amorous ecstasy.

Sahaja Samadhi is by far the highest type of Samadhi. Very few spiritual Masters have achieved that state. In Sahaja Samadhi they walk like ordinary human beings. They eat. They do almost all normal things, the usual things that an ordinary human being does. But, in the inmost reaches of their hearts they are surcharged with divine illumination. After achieving the highest type of realisation, on very rare occasions one is blessed with Sahaja Samadhi. He who has achieved and remains in the Sahaja Samadhi consciously and perfectly manifests God at every second, and thus he is the greatest Pride of the Transcendental Supreme.

The Samadhis that you know, that you are familiar with, are Savikalpa Samadhi and Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Nirvikalpa Samadhi is the highest Samadhi that most spiritual Masters attain and it lasts for a few hours or a few days. Then, one has to come down. You have to know that one cannot operate from that high state of consciousness. One can never operate from Nirvikalpa Samadhi. It is simply impossible. One has to come down. Then, when one comes down, what happens? Very often one forgets one's own name. One cannot speak properly. One forgets one's own age. Many things happen then. Again, through continued practice of this Nirvikalpa Samadhi, gradually, when one comes down, one can immediately act like a human being on earth.

But realisation is something else. When once realisation dawns, the seeker enjoys freedom from the human personality and the human individuality. It is like a tiny drop of water which enters into the ocean. Once it enters, it becomes the ocean. At that time, we don't see the personality of the one tiny drop or the individuality of the drop. It becomes the entire ocean. So realisation is totally different. When one realises the highest truth, at that time the finite enters into the Infinite and realises and achieves the Infinite as its very own. Then, when somebody else sees such a seeker, he will see that he has become the ocean itself in his inner life.

Question: Is faith something that is given to an individual or something which the individual can acquire through his own actions?

Sri Chinmoy: Everybody has been blessed with faith. Some have much faith; some have little faith. There is nobody on earth who has no faith, either in himself or in God. But what happens? Ignorance or darkness has eclipsed our faith. Again, faith can come out of the meshes of ignorance.

If we pray or meditate we can increase our faith. It is like a muscle. If we take exercise, we develop the muscle. Inner faith also can be expanded. There are many who enter into the spiritual life out of curiosity. They have very little faith. But they go on; they continue, continue. Then later on they feel within themselves deeper faith, greater faith, more fulfilling faith. So, when one sticks to the spiritual path, one is bound to have more faith.

Faith in oneself and faith in God are both of paramount importance. If somebody says he has faith only in God and not in himself, well, he cannot go very far. If he says he has faith only in himself and not in God; if he acts like Julius Caesar and starts saying, "I came, I saw, I conquered — Veni, vidi, vici," he will eventually be lost totally in the evolving process of time. There is no God. It is all mind. No, we have to feel faith both in ourselves and in God. To have faith in God is not so difficult. It is comparatively easy. Why? We know, we feel that God is infinitely better than we are. He is infinitely more powerful than we are. He is infinitely more compassionate than we are. We feel that He is boundless in every way. So it is easy for us to have faith in God who surpasses us in everything. But, we have to know that we must have faith in ourselves too. Yes, God may be superior to us in every way, but how are we going to have His qualities unless and until we have abundant faith in ourselves, in our receptivity, in the power of divinely surrendered acceptance?

If I say that somebody is superior to me in science or in spirituality, then, just by having a little faith in his achievements, I cannot achieve his qualities. I have to also have faith in myself. I have to believe that one day I can also be like him, a great scientist or a spiritual Master. So, it is only when I have total faith in myself that the divine possibilities I have within me can easily be transformed into divine reality. We are singing the song of possibility with our limited faith. Here something may happen, or something may not happen. But, when we are endowed with boundless faith, constant faith, it is not mere possibility, but it is nothing short of inevitability. At that time we feel that God-realisation is our birthright.

Note

Questions asked at Kings College, Cambridge University, England, on November 23, 1972.

Question: If someone is having great difficulty in meditating because he lacks discipline and cannot concentrate, can you suggest a possible remedy? How can one develop self-discipline and improve his meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: In that case, that particular person should start with concentration. Meditation will be too difficult for him.

Self-discipline comes through proper concentration under the express guidance of an able Master. One has to lead a disciplined life while practising concentration. Otherwise, if his life is not disciplined to some extent, and if he wants to practise meditation, it will be too hard for him. It is like a kindergarten student who wants to study at the high school level. Every seeker should start with concentration in the spiritual life.

Concentration is a vast field. Each individual has to know, or has to learn from someone, how to concentrate. Concentration has to pave the way for meditation. When we concentrate, we try to control our thoughts, our emotions. When we meditate, we must have already disciplined our emotional and restless life to some extent. Through proper meditation we either enter into vastness or vastness enters into us.

To lead a disciplined life, what we need is daily practice, constant practice. Twice or three times a day we feed the body. We do not feed the child divine within us, the soul, even once in a blue moon. When we feed the body, we become strong. We can live on earth. When we feed the soul, we grow. Our inner being grows into the divine light.

Please try to meditate early in the morning, that is to say at the Hour of God, between 3 and 4a.m.; then meditation will be easy for you. If you meditate at 7:30 or 8:00 or 9:00 a.m.; it will be more difficult. Mother-Earth commences her dance or her work, the hustle and bustle, by 6:00 or by 7:00 a.m. If you can meditate between 3 and 4 a.m., no matter of what standard you are, even if you are a complete beginner, you will have very little resistance in your meditation. It is in the early morning that one can meditate best. At that time, one is bound to run very fast in the spiritual life.

To come back to your question, meditation is the only answer which offers us a disciplined life. But, as I said previously, if before meditation one practises concentration, then one can expedite one's inner journey. When one concentrates, one becomes the divine hero. When one concentrates, one enters into the battlefield of life in light where there can be no doubt, no fear. Fear and doubt will be conquered by concentration. Then, when one enters into deeper meditation, there one gets confidence, inner assurance. Then when one contemplates, one eventually enters into the Goal and grows into the Goal itself. This is God-realisation — where the finite merges into the Infinite, where the lover and the Beloved become One, inseparable.

Question: Does one achieve divine experiences through rigorous practice and coercion?

Sri Chinmoy: Through meditation we are bound to get divine experiences. Meditation is the means. If one meditates, certainly one will get divine experiences. If one doesn't meditate, then one will have only ordinary, human experiences. Meditation is the only answer. Meditation has the key to enter into the divine world. Certainly it requires practice. But coercion exists only until our self-enforced discipline becomes something natural and joyful. If we have to coerce ourselves, it is because some part of us is recalcitrant. Self-discipline will gradually become spontaneous and natural; then concentration and meditation will never seem coercive.

Question: Does a divine experience come only through controlling one's emotions and one's senses by force?

Sri Chinmoy: We do not get divine experiences by force or through coercion. It is the divine purity within us that purifies us slowly and steadily and makes us fit for inner and divine experiences. We cannot do it by coercion or by hook or by crook. We have to follow a systematic method, and for that aspiration is necessary. When we aspire, the flame of aspiration climbs up. While it is climbing up, it will illumine our outer nature. Then automatically we will have a self-disciplined life. But, we can never have a disciplined life by force. First it will break our vital being, and then it will tell upon our physical body.

If you believe that you can reach or realise the highest truth overnight, then you are making a terrible mistake. The truth is, after all, an inner knowledge. We take twenty-five years or even more to complete our earthly education, to get our Ph. D. degree, which is the zenith of our earthly knowledge. In the spiritual life also, we have to devote quite a few years to study and practice. If somebody feels that he can control his emotions in the twinkling of an eye, or that he may realise God in a couple of hours, he is only fooling himself. At the present state of your consciousness, please try to have divine thoughts all the time in your mind. In that way you will make very good progress.

Question: You said I must keep divine thoughts in my mind, not undivine thoughts. How do I know which are divine thoughts?

Sri Chinmoy: When we have divine thoughts, we immediately expand and enlarge our consciousness. When we have evil or undivine thoughts, we bind ourselves. We bind everything, we try to possess everything. "I, my, mine, my family, my friends, my country" — there it is all human. But when it is all divine, immediately we say, "we." Then, for the first time we will use the term "we." We may ask where this feeling of oneness with humanity is coming from. It is coming from the source which is light.

So, each moment when you get a thought, try to see whether that particular thought is expanding your consciousness or binding you. Please try to observe any idea that enters your mind and see if it is expanding your consciousness or if it is binding you. When a thought comes, immediately please try to enter into the thought and see if it is instigating you to possess something or someone. Then if this is so, you will see that it is human thought. When you try to possess someone, you have to know that you are already possessed. But, if it is a divine thought, there you are not going to possess anybody. You are not going to be possessed by anybody. You are going to liberate and illumine the entire world.

Question: Is it necessary to study under a teacher to achieve self-realisation? What does a spiritual teacher do? Are there any advantages to be gained by studying with a spiritual teacher? Do you ever outgrow your need for a teacher? Can anything be achieved alone?

Sri Chinmoy: Now, to be very frank with you: who was the spiritual teacher of the very first person who realised God on earth? He who realised God for the first time on earth didn't have a spiritual Master as we have. But he did realise God.

Here we see that every rule admits of exceptions. He did realise God. In that particular case, God helped him, God Himself became his teacher. Anyway, he realised God. The first realised person on earth didn't have a human being to help him realise God. God became his inner teacher and outer teacher.

By this time, there are many spiritual Masters who have really realised God. Again, there are many unrealised persons who claim to be spiritual Masters. There are false teachers. There are genuine teachers. Mother-Earth is cursed with false Masters and blessed with true Masters.

To come back to your question, we have to know the role of a spiritual Master quite well. He is not a school teacher. A school teacher will examine you and mark you according to your merit. If you have done well, your teacher will pass you. If you have not done well in your examination, he will fail you. This is his business. You are always examined by the teacher here. But a private tutor is not like that. A private tutor helps you wholeheartedly, individually, privately, to pass the examination. He will constantly help you so that in school, in college, you can get high marks. This is his role. He will only try to help you, to expedite your progress in acquiring knowledge. So, a spiritual Master, a real spiritual Master, is a private tutor. And what does he do? He helps, he inspires and he kindles the flame of aspiration in the seeker for the seeker so that the seeker can stand right in front of the sea of ignorance and face it and conquer it. This is what a spiritual Master does.

Now in this world, we need a teacher for everything. So there is nothing wrong in having a teacher for one's spiritual and inner education. But, you may say, for how many years will the teacher be necessary? For five years or ten years or twenty years? To get your Master's degree you have to start at the beginning as a child, in kindergarten. Then after you get your own highest degree, you do not continue to go to the University as a student. Then you yourself start teaching. You have every right to teach then, because you have acquired your knowledge. Now you are in a position to teach others, to help others. In the spiritual life also, if one is wise, one knows that the role of a spiritual teacher is like a private tutor. You take help from the teacher for a few years, for as long as you need to get your own inner illumination: five years, ten years, twenty years or fifty years. Or it may take a few incarnations because, after all, it is a difficult subject.

One may say, "No. God is part of me, He is in all of us. For that, why should I go to others to get God-Knowledge?" I would like to say that it is true. God is within you. God is also inside all knowledge. Why do you then go to a teacher to learn? You go to him precisely because you need his instruction, you need his guidance.

God is within you. But unfortunately, you do not know where He is. God is inside you, but He is seated at a particular place. He is seated on a Throne. You do not know how to reach that Throne. Here the role of the teacher begins. He comes, he carries you. He shows you God's Throne. Then his role is over. Just take a little help from him. You need it. He is not God, but he has seen God a few seconds before you or a few years before you. Your schoolteacher also learned from someone else what he teaches you now. It is the individual who has to be wise. If he feels that he wants to run faster towards his Goal, then naturally he has to take help from the one who has already seen the Goal, and stays in the Goal.

Question: In our daily life are we to work to suppress our emotion? What is the nature of emotion as you see it? Is there any way we can control it?

Sri Chinmoy: No, in our daily life we should not work to suppress emotion. We have not to suppress anything. Suppression is very bad. If we suppress something today, tomorrow we will be subjected to its revolt. Suppression is not the answer. We must not suppress our emotion. What we have to do is to illumine it. While we are illumining it, we shall feel real joy. Now, by suppressing, what do we actually accomplish? Nothing. We are only forcing ourselves beyond our capacity and sincere willingness. As we have a desire to enjoy a life of pleasure, so also have we a desire to suppress life. A life of gross pleasure and a life of suppression are equally bad. They are followed by frustration. Frustration ends in destruction.

Suppression is not the right method of getting joy from life. Let us try to find out the right method. If our aim is joy, we must know that joy is in light. Let us think more of light than of night. Automatically our inner light will come to the fore.

We have to know that there are two types of emotion: human emotion and divine emotion. Emotion as such is not bad. But human emotion is, unfortunately, bad. With our human emotion, we possess and we are possessed. Divine emotion is something else. It is like this: "I am God's child. How can I do something that is wrong? My Father is All-light. He is All-Perfection. He is All-Love. He is for humanity. He is for the universe. It is beneath my dignity to surrender myself to ignorance." This emotion comes directly from the heart, from the inmost recesses of our heart. Here, this divine emotion grows and flows. But the other emotion which we observe and to which we are subject, is our vital, human emotion, our lower vital emotion. That emotion we have to transform, illumine. As night has to be transformed into light, so also human emotion has to be transformed into divine emotion.

If we meditate more on the positive side, that is to say on light, then light is going to descend on us. But, if we think of night and are afraid of night, then we are unconsciously entering into the domain of night. Whenever we think of night, of darkness within us, we enter into night's domain. But, if we always think of light, which is after all our true joy and Saviour, then we are running towards our destined Goal.

So I wish to suggest to you that when human emotion appears, do not try to suppress it, but try to think of divine emotion. When you are enlarged, when you are in Infinity, you will get boundless joy. You will not then care for tempting and tempted pleasure. We know that when we meditate, we enter into the world of joy and delight. We know the difference between pleasure and delight. Human pleasure frustrates us and destroys us. Divine delight feeds us and immortalises us.

Question: In your talk you said that human love is an express train, destination: frustration; and that divine love is a local train, destination: Illumination. How is it that human love has not been given a divine consciousness or dimension?

Sri Chinmoy: Unfortunately it has not been done. Why? The answer only God can give. In human love we are binding, we are limiting ourselves. But the divine love does not limit us, does not bind us.

North is north. South is south. When we stand facing the south, we cannot say, "Why is it not north?" It is not north. It is south. We know that this is north; this is south. Similarly, we know what human love is. We experience it in our daily life. We also experience divine love in our spiritual life. Those who meditate, those who aspire, experience divine love.

We cannot ask why darkness is not light. They are two different things. However, we see that the Divine can enter into the undivine and change the undivine into the Divine. Light can enter into darkness. Similarly, Infinity can enter into the finite, Eternity into the fleeting second, Immortality into mortality, to transform them.

In the human, divinity is there. In the human body the divine soul exists. Let us use the soul, which is divine. This soul is within us. When we try to offer our identity, let us try to offer our identity as the soul. If I can say, "I am the soul and I am not the body," then I can get a glimpse of inner and outer freedom. I said in my talk, "I am the Knowledge. I am the Knower. I am the Known." If I can say, "The soul is within me. I am the soul. I am not the body," then I can go very fast towards the Goal. But, if I say that by experiencing human love and human pleasure I will get divine fulfilment, then I am fooling myself.

Whenever we want to do something divine, we have to use the divine method. If I want to learn English, I will go to an English professor. I won't go to a history professor. I know that he will not be in a position to teach me English. So, in the spiritual life also, if you really want to have the divine truth, you need the divine aspiration within your heart. It is through aspiration that the human love can be transformed into the divine love.

Human love, undoubtedly, will one day be transformed. But if human love claims that by following the human method it will be able to compel the divine truth, divine light to reveal itself, then it is impossible.

Let us take aspiration as a dynamic push from within. This inner push will be met by a pull from above. This pull is God's Compassion. Man's aspiration and God's Compassion together transform man into perfect Perfection.

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