Eternity's soul-bird, part 1

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Part I

My Soul

O Soul, I am your body. I am thirty-six years old today. I wish to learn from you.

“Do good.”

O Soul, I am your vital. I am nineteen years old. I want to learn from you.

“Be good.”

O Soul, I am your mind. I am sixty years old. I need to learn from you.

“See good.”

O Soul, I am your heart. I am four years old. Please tell me the secret.

“Remain good.”

O Soul, your body again. What do you do with your boundless Love?

“I distribute my boundless Love to ever-expanding horizons.”

O Soul, your vital again. What do you do with your Infinite Peace?

“I feed the teeming vasts of the Past, Present and Future with my Infinite Peace.”

O Soul, your mind again. What do you do with your Vision of the ever-transcending Beyond?

“I feather the Golden Nest of my Reality’s Infinitude with my Vision of the ever-transcending Beyond.”

O Soul, once more your heart. Tell me your absolute secret, please,

“I live for the Supreme and for the Supreme alone. This is my Absolute Secret.”

Part II — Questions and answers on the soul

Something sublime, something soulful, something fruitful

You want to know something sublime
About my life?
My life is a God-dreamer.

You want to know something soulful
About my heart?
My heart is a God-lover.

You want to know something fruitful
About my soul?
My soul is a God-distributor.

Question: Is our soul like an infinitesimal particle of dust which after many lifetimes returns to the Supreme and becomes a part of Him?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, our soul is not like dust. Our soul has infinite potentiality and this infinite potentiality has to be manifested here on earth. The soul came from the Supreme to manifest Him. The more the soul manifests Truth or Divinity, the greater the achievement both for the soul and for the Supreme. Each soul is a representative of the Supreme and the souls that are conscious of this truth make faster progress than the souls that are not. Each time the soul comes into the manifestation it gains considerable experience; and when it goes back to the soul’s region after each incarnation it takes with it the essence of all its experiences. On its way back it leaves aside the vital, mental and psychic sheaths. After a few years the soul wants to come back again into the manifestation. At that time it selects a particular family or environment and then goes to the Supreme for an interview. The soul gets either the sanction or the disapproval of the Supreme. If the Supreme does not approve, then the soul has to make another selection.

It is absolutely true that the soul came from the Supreme and ultimately it will go back to the Supreme. But until the full manifestation of the Supreme has taken place in a particular soul, that is to say, until the soul has fully realised its true Self, it will reincarnate again and again. Once the soul has achieved realisation and at last manifested the Divine, it will finally return to the Supreme. There will no longer be any necessity for the soul to come back to earth for manifestation.

Question: Why did God introduce the soul into the body? Was it to punish some souls that were malevolent?

Sri Chinmoy: God did not send the soul into the body to punish it. It is we who like ignorance more than we like light. When I say ‘We’, I am referring to the unconscious body, not the soul. This unconscious, unaspiring physical body is in darkness and it likes darkness. If we love ignorance and darkness more than we love light, then naturally we will quarrel and fight. It is not that God has brought our souls into the world to destroy them or punish them.

When the soul enters into the body, rest assured that God also enters. The soul is a conscious portion of God, the Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent. We can definitely say that it is a conscious representative of God. It has the ability to communicate with the Highest, with the Absolute, at any time, and it has permission from the Highest to play its part on earth.

God’s original purpose in uniting the soul and the body is very clear. The body is the shrine and the soul is the deity. The body is the fort, the spiritual temple, and inside the body the soul resides. The soul is a flood of light and this flood of light will eventually illumine the teeming ignorance in the physical body. When we aspire, when we go deep within, we actually see the physical existence, the physical body inside the soul. The soul is in touch with the Highest, the Absolute, the All-Pervading, but the physical right now is not; the physical is limited, very limited. When we remain in the limited consciousness, we feel that the soul is inside the body and the soul is very tiny. Some will say it is as big as a thumb. Our scriptures will say it is smaller than the smallest and, at the same time, vaster than the vastest. There are many different conceptions of the soul. On the strength of our oneness with the highest Truth, we can see the soul with form and at the same time in the formless state.

The purpose of uniting the soul and the body is to fulfil both the inner and the outer. Inside is the soul and outside is the body. If there is no inside, then the outside will act blindly. And again, without the outside, the inside will be lame; it will be unable to function at all. So God’s purpose in uniting the soul and the body is to enjoy Himself divinely, both within and without. Otherwise He will never be perfect, for perfection is both inside and outside.

Question: A chair has a soul. If you chopped up the chair into little pieces of wood, would those pieces of matter also have their own souls?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, but you have to know that those souls would have practically no development. In those pieces there would be only a tiny spark of consciousness. True, everything and everyone has a soul: but the consciousness of the soul is a matter of development.

United souls, united lives

Two united souls:
One soul offered
The love of perfection;
The other soul offered
The perfection of love.

Two united lives:
One life discovered
God’s little flame of the finite life;
The other life discovered
God’s Eternity-sun in Infinity’s Smile.

Question: How do you explain the soul to a child?

Sri Chinmoy: I am very happy to answer this question, because it is only a child who can spontaneously ask a question on the soul. The soul is a conscious portion of God. It came directly from God, it remains directly in God and it will go back to God. The soul is the light which is called consciousness. A child will not understand consciousness, so you can tell him that the soul is something that carries our thoughts, our ideas, our messages to God. The soul is the messenger that goes to God and gives Him our message: It understands our language and at the same time it understands God’s language.

Whenever a child tells the truth, whenever he does something good, whenever he does anything that pleases you, you can tell him that it is the soul that is asking him to do this.

You can also tell a child that the actual possessor or owner of his body is the soul. As he plays with a toy, so also the soul plays with him. A child knows that he can do anything with his toy and remain unaffected. If he wants to play with it, he can play with it. If he wants to break it, he can break it and if he is tired of playing with his toy, he can throw it aside. Similarly, in the soul’s case, if the soul wants to stay in the body and play with the body, it can do so. If the soul is tired of playing with it, if the soul wants to go back to its Father, God, it can do so.

Question: What is the soul and what is the psychic being?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul is the direct representative of the Supreme and the psychic being is the conscious representative of the soul. The soul is present in the heart of all creatures. The soul is in each object, in each individual creation, in the mineral kingdom, in the plant kingdom, in the animal kingdom, in the human kingdom, whereas the psychic being is present only in human beings who are aspiring. If we don’t aspire, if we remain in the world of desire, if we consciously and deliberately wallow in the pleasures of ignorance and feel that this is the only life, then the psychic being will not be found in us. It is in the core of divine inspiration, aspiration and dedication that the psychic being comes into existence.

It is the psychic being which inspires us to do the right thing and to become the Truth itself. The higher we go, the deeper we go, the greater become the possibilities of our psychic growth. The psychic being is like the infant in the family. It grows along with our life of aspiration. At the beginning of our spiritual journey we may feel the psychic being, but there comes a time when we can actually see it. It is very subtle, very luminous. When one sees the psychic being, one feels that it is a divine child, the beloved of the Highest Absolute Supreme, with whom the Eternal Father plays. We may see a lovely child and feel that he is the most beautiful child on earth. But when we see the psychic being, our own inner psychic being, we see that it is infinitely more beautiful than the most beautiful child on earth. There is no comparison between the human child and the psychic being. No matter how beautiful the child may be, the psychic being is infinitely more beautiful.

Question: Can the psychic being be damaged?

Sri Chinmoy: The psychic being cannot be damaged, it can only be eclipsed. Whatever is divine cannot be destroyed. It is only covered by ignorance and the cloud of human doubt. But like the sun which is only temporarily overcast by clouds, the psychic being again peeps through. However, if we soulfully pray, concentrate and meditate, the psychic being cannot be eclipsed.

Question: Are there significant events which take place in the soul's world? Can progress be made there?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, in the soul’s world there are significant events, but there is no manifestation. There can be progress, but not in the sense of evolution. If one soul is mixing with a higher soul, a more illumined soul, then naturally the very presence of the higher soul will be a great inspiration for it. If you are beside a spiritual Master, a very great spiritual person, in the soul’s world, then naturally you will benefit.

Question: What is the difference between spirit and soul?

Sri Chinmoy: In the West the word “spirit” is used in a different way than in India. In India when we use the term “spirit”, we mean the Unmanifest, the Absolute, the unlimited Divinity, the Cosmic Self, which does not take human incarnation. In the West the term “spirit” is used in connection with the vital world, the world of spirits. When a frustrated individual dies, from the vital world his spirit tries to enter into other human beings, sometimes to punish them and sometimes to bring a message from the world of spirits. So here when you speak of a spirit, very often you mean a hungry, aggressive, unsatisfied spirit in the vital world taking revenge on people.

The soul abides in everyone. It has no birth and no death; it is beginningless and endless. A spirit connected with the vital world is something debased and destructive, while the soul is something luminous and ever-progressing. When we feel the presence of a spirit, we may feel nowhere near God. We may be influenced by occult powers and dark forces. But when we feel the presence of the soul, we feel the Breath of the Divine. The soul within us is a portion of the Infinite, of the Supreme. The soul is something extremely good, spiritual and divine. Each soul is the direct, conscious messenger of the ultimate Truth. It feels the vision of the Absolute and at the same time it wants to transform the vision of the Absolute into reality. The soul will not be satisfied until it has manifested the infinite Truth here on earth. When the soul enters into this world, which is the field of manifestation, it evolves according to the receptivity of the individual human being. Finally it manifests the ultimate Truth, Peace, Bliss and Power here on earth.

Question: What is the relationship between the soul and the higher worlds?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul is actually a vehicle which carries us into different worlds. There are seven higher worlds and seven lower worlds. When we live in the consciousness of the soul, we go to the highest world. But, unfortunately, most of us don’t live in the soul; we live in the vital or in the gross physical. That is why we are suffering. If we can remain in the soul daily for just two hours, then we will see that we are a totally different person.

Question: Can you tell me the relationship between soul and energy?

Sri Chinmoy: Energy is something fluid: like consciousness, it spreads itself everywhere in an infinite expanse. Energy is like the immense expanse of water in the ocean. It is a dynamic liquid in constant flux. If you enter into the inner world, you will see that energy is flowing and very dynamic. The soul, on the other hand, can take any form it likes. One moment it can be smaller than an atom and the next moment it can be vaster than the Vast.

Energy and the soul must go together. If there is no divine energy in the soul, then the soul cannot manifest anything. Again, if there is energy in the being but the consciousness of the soul is not brought forward, then realisation will not take place. So the two are interlinked. For realisation, energy needs the soul; and for manifestation, the soul needs energy.

Your silence-soul loves you

Your face is a dark disquiet;
Yet
Your silence-soul loves you.

Your nose breathes ignorance-venom;
Yet
Your silence-soul loves you.

Your life is in love with the Prince of Gloom;
Yet
Your silence-soul loves you.

Question: Was every soul split at the time of creation into male and female? Do all souls then have their soul-mates?

Sri Chinmoy: Indian philosophy and many other philosophies do not believe in soul-mates or the theory of the soul splitting into masculine and feminine at the time of creation. What do we learn in the Bhagavad Gita, which was composed about Lord Krishna, one of the greatest spiritual Masters of India? We learn that the soul has neither beginning nor end and we don’t get any indication that souls were split into masculine and feminine. The soul itself is neither masculine nor feminine, but if the soul starts the human stage of its earthly pilgrimage with a feminine body, then it continues to take feminine bodies in each of its incarnations. Similarly, if it starts its human journey with a masculine body, then it continues to take masculine bodies. At the animal stage the soul can incarnate as both male and female, but only two or three times in spiritual history has the soul changed its sex once it began taking human incarnations.

A masculine soul, a soul that has chosen to take masculine bodies, can have a feminine complementary soul and vice versa. In this case, one soul complements the other’s inner and outer qualities. Complementary souls are found primarily among mature, developed souls, not ordinary souls. Husbands and wives may have complementary souls, and this can also be true in the case of spiritual figures who accept a shakti as their spiritual partner on a very high level of consciousness. Again, there are some souls who either do not have complementary souls or who do not care for complementary souls at all.

Question: Can you speak on the union of two souls?

Sri Chinmoy: The union of two individuals can take place in the higher regions of consciousness or in the ordinary world when marriage takes place. In ordinary marriage, the partners consciously make themselves feel that they are one. But in divine marriage, the souls are united in the highest plane of consciousness. At the time of the soul’s union, however, the two souls may not yet have convinced the vital, the physical and the mind of the two individuals that they want to grow together. So when the divine union, the souls’ union, is established, time reveals this union.

The union of two embodied souls is most effective when both of them are aspiring for the highest Light. If one is aspiring for the highest Light and the other is not, then the union of these two souls can never be successful. In the case of two aspirants it is most important for them to realise that their union exists only for the fulfilment of the Divine Will. If one partner sees that the other has many good qualities and feels that he should be able to claim all these divine qualities all for himself, then he is mistaken. It is true that when two divine souls become one, either in the inner world or in the outer world, they automatically possess each other. But for what purpose? Not for their own sake, but for the sake of the Supreme. Each one has two hands. When they become one, they have four hands and now, with four hands, naturally they will do more work for the Divine.

So the divine union of two souls implies that they exist wholly for the Supreme. They are united solely because they wish to fulfil the Divine, the Supreme, in His own Way. They are one because the Supreme wants them to be one and not because of their own desires. If two individual souls want to be together just because they love each other, this is called human love, vital love, and this love does not last. But if two souls want to be united because they feel that the Supreme, the Divine within them wants them to be one with each other in and through Him, then they will have abundant inspiration to fulfil the Divine in His masculine and feminine aspects. These two souls have to feel that they have become one only to fulfil the Mission of the Supreme. That is the real purpose of the union of divine souls.

Question: Will you explain what is meant by a group soul?

Sri Chinmoy: In a particular class in school we have perhaps forty students studying the same subjects together under one teacher. Similarly, in the spiritual world, since the beginning of creation some souls have wanted to move together and make progress together. It is much like a relay race where four persons are required.

When the soul incarnates in a human body, it is endowed with human propensities and it gets the opportunity to mix with other souls. In the inner world as well as in the outer world, souls choose according to their preference. Some souls want only light: they do not care for power, they do not care for joy, they do not care for peace. They want only light, light, light. If a soul cares for light, then naturally it will be pulled and attracted by another soul which cares only for light. The group souls unite themselves with light or power or peace or some other predominating divine quality. If light is connecting a particular group of souls, then they will have more light than power, if it is power that unites them, then they will have more power and less light. These souls will have a natural golden connecting link among them.

Question: You said that the soul chooses the family in which it is going to be born. What happens to the soul if it chooses a bad family?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us take the soul as the owner of the house and the family as the house. As the owner, if you feel that this particular house is not giving you joy or not fulfilling you, then immediately you will try to get another which will give you fulfilment. When the soul is disgusted with a particular family, it may leave its present body and enter into some other body. Since the soul has wisdom and light, it will come back in a place with a better environment, one that offers more fulfilment. If the house is all right, then the soul does not have to move. When you have a nice house, you do not want to change it; you want to get as much as possible from that house. When the soul gets a proper house, that is to say a good environment and a good family in which everyone is aspiring, then naturally the soul will stay there.

Question: When does the soul enter the body?

Sri Chinmoy: Between six and eight months before birth is the usual time for the soul to enter into the body. On rare occasions it may enter at the time of conception. The latest time for the soul to enter is usually about thirteen or fourteen days before the child is born. In very rare cases the soul enters into the body just two or three days before birth and sometimes it may even come shortly after birth. At that time the soul may be waiting until the last moment before making a decision because it is doubtful about the family. Some souls feel that by waiting for a longer time they will be able to make a better decision. Again, some souls simply take longer to make the decision just as some people take more time to make a decision than others. But some souls don’t wait; they know immediately what to do and it is done within a few months after the time of conception.

Question: What does the soul do in the body before birth?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul remains absolutely silent in the body. It is like a witness. It just observes the physical organs. But what it sees when it comes into the world for the first time at birth will give it a kind of fear and frustration. The soul is a spark of the Divine, but when it enters into the world, immediately it sees ignorance. The soul has accepted the world, but the moment the child is born, the soul sees through the eyes of the child and what it sees creates fear within the soul. The soul at that time does not see anything wonderful; it sees something ferocious like a lion that wants to devour it. Then the soul says: “It is I who have taken this body. I have to fight. Why should I act like a coward? Why should I leave the body? In this body, with this body, I shall have to fight for God and establish His Kingdom here on earth.”

Question: Is the soul always assured that it will find its true mission during each new lifetime on earth?

Sri Chinmoy: Before taking human incarnation, the soul gets the inner message about its divine purpose on earth. It is fully conscious of its mission and it comes here with the direct approval or sanction of the Supreme. But during the lifetime, the workings of the physical mind sometimes cover up the divine inspiration of the soul and the true purpose of the soul. Then the mission of the soul cannot come forward. However, if we start aspiring with the mind, the heart and the soul, then we can learn the purpose of our existence here on earth.

There is a constant battle going on between the divine and undivine in each human being. The ignorance of the world tries to devour human aspiration. At the present stage of evolution, most human beings live in the undivine vital, where all is desire, anxiety and excitement. That is why they are unconscious of the soul’s needs.

Question: Is it predestined how far the soul will progress in any incarnation?

Sri Chinmoy: In some cases it is predestined and in some cases there is no fixed limit; it may depend on how much Grace the soul receives.

Question: Does the body have an identity separate from the soul?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the soul. When a very powerful, mature soul comes into a body, it can force the physical consciousness to follow its direction. The physical consciousness performs what the soul dictates: body and soul act as a single entity. But if the soul is not very powerful, then it is like a mother who is physically weak and cannot force her child to do what she thinks best for him. In that case the soul simply watches what the physical consciousness is doing. If the soul wants to do something, the body may do just the opposite. At that time the soul and the body appear as two different entities.

Question: Does my soul have a face? Does it look like me?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul’s face is infinitely more beautiful than the physical face and it need not look like the physical face. Again, if the soul wants to take the form of the physical, it does. It can take any form, but it is always infinitely more beautiful than the physical.

Question: I neither accept nor reject the existence of my soul. Is there any sign that my soul exists?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul has already accepted your body. If the soul had rejected and then had left your body, immediately the body would have died. But the soul has come into this world inside your body and the soul is still functioning there, so the soul’s acceptance has already been made.

But you have also accepted the soul. One who has accepted even unconsciously the necessity of Truth, the necessity of God, the necessity of Divinity and the necessity of spirituality can rest assured that he has accepted the soul because the soul lives and breathes in the very words “Divinity”, “Spirituality”, “Truth” and “God”. If you had not accepted the existence of the soul, then by this time you would have forgotten these words. So you have already accepted your soul and your soul has already accepted you.

How is it that you have accepted the soul but you are not consciously aware of it? It is because this acceptance can never be understood or felt by the mind. The mere mental awareness of the mind will not help you or me or anybody on earth; this ordinary awareness has to be transcended. What is necessary is the feeling of oneness. It is your very feeling of oneness with the soul that will immediately make you feel that you have accepted the soul and the soul has already accepted you.

Now, how can we develop this higher kind of awareness? If you live in a particular room, then you know what is in that room: a painting, a lamp, a bed and so forth. But if you live in some other room, then you cannot expect to know what is in the first room. In order to know about your soul’s acceptance of you or your acceptance of the soul; you have to live always in your soul and not in your physical consciousness. There have been hundreds of times in your life when you have had divine flashes. Where do the flashes come from? From the mind? Never! From the vital? Never! They come either from the psychic being or from the soul. The many times that you have seen these flashes you have been in tune with some other world, an inner world; and that world is the world of the soul, of your inner being. To have spiritual awareness you have to stay in the world of your soul constantly.

When a child is two or three years old his parents have to tell him that what he is eating is called candy and somebody else has to tell him what the candy is made of. It is not necessary to know how the soul came into existence or what it is in order to see and feel your soul, just as the child does not have to know what candy is in order to eat it. But even if you see the soul you may not know that it is the soul that you have seen. You may see a beautiful child, a most beautiful child, in your dream and think it is only a human child. Or you may think that you have seen the soul, you have conversed with the soul, but you will not be certain whether it is really the soul or not. Here, just as the child needs someone to tell him that what he is eating is called candy, so also in the spiritual life somebody has to tell you what your soul is and what kind of communication you are having with your soul. Somebody who is already in the soul’s region, a spiritual Master, is required to tell you that you have seen your own soul.

Question: When we experience our soul, even though we might not be aware of it, why isn't the feeling sweet enough to satisfy us?

Sri Chinmoy: It is extremely difficult for an ordinary person to see the soul. If the person is aspiring and meditating under the guidance of someone who has realised God, even then he will first see only the representative of the soul, what we call the psychic being. Then he will see the soul proper and finally the Self.

If we see the soul, then we will have abundant inspiration. It wants to aspire, it wants to reveal and manifest Divinity here on earth. So if we see the soul, then we are bound to have the inspiration to run towards the Goal. We will feel that whatever goal we have already achieved is next to nothing and we have to go farther, deeper and higher. When you see the true soul, you can rest assured that you will be inundated with inspiration and aspiration.

But very often we make a mistake in our judgement. We may see a vital being inside us and think it is our soul. There are many vital beings in us; they hover around the soul and sometimes assume the form of the soul. Likewise, many people are misled when they see asuras, hostile forces, and they think that these beings are divine. When we see a luminous form during our meditation or our sleep, we have to observe whether purity is emanating from that particular form. If we see that there is no purity, then we know it is not a divine form. We also have to know not to bow down or show our devotion and admiration to such a being; that will be a great mistake. And we must never touch the being. I know of many times in India when aspirants have been praying and meditating, and evil forces have come to them in the form of our Indian gods and goddesses. Because the seekers were misled and showed devotion to these beings, the little aspiration these seekers had was taken away by these wrong forces. If we see that there is purity emanating from the being, however, then we can show our devotion to that spiritual Master or divine figure in any way we like.

Question: Does the soul ever act autonomously to realise itself?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul does not assert itself although it easily recognises the mistakes made by the mind. It has infinite patience and does not interfere in any way with the activities of other parts of the being. In some cases, the vital being and the heart find the independent course of the mind an obstacle. In that case they will act in unison to counteract this tendency of the mind. But the soul waits. It knows that it has all Eternity in which to manifest itself, so it is undisturbed by temporal delays.

Question: Do the experiences that the soul gets while it is on earth constitute a kind of expansion?

Sri Chinmoy: The experiences naturally lead to its expansion. When we speak of the soul’s expansion, we mean the manifestation of the Divinity inside the soul. Then when we have the experience of the soul, we expand our consciousness and gradually it becomes all-pervading. At the same time we manifest the Divinity that is within us. So expansion and manifestation go together. They are both the soul’s experience.

Question: How can one know if he is a young or an old soul?

Sri Chinmoy: Why should one have to know if he is a young soul or an old soul? By knowing that you are a mature soul you don’t gain anything and by knowing that you are a young soul you don’t gain anything. If you feel that someone else is more mature than you or you are more mature than he is, then you are creating unnecessary problems for yourself.

In the spiritual life let us not be concerned with who is an old soul and who is a young soul. Let us only think that we are all God’s children. God Himself is a Child. He is never old. What will help us in the spiritual life is the feeling that we are children of God, for only a child can make constant progress. It is a child who evolves, not an octogenarian, because the octogenarian has already played his role. So always feel that you are a child.

Question: How can I expedite my soul's awakening?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, we have to know what we mean by the soul’s awakening. We have to be awakened to the truth that God-realisation is not something most difficult, but something natural, normal, practicable and inevitable. This soul’s awakening has to be expedited and energised through aspiration. Otherwise awakening only remains a mental concept to us. Once the soul is awakened, however, one cannot say that the role of the soul is over. Awakening is just the beginning of the soul’s journey towards the ultimate Goal. At every moment this inner awakening has to be nourished and nurtured by our constant aspiration. If aspiration is lacking, then mere awakening will not lead us very far. Let us constantly throw ourselves into our soul’s awakening and we shall without fail reach our destined Goal.

Question: Is the body as important as the soul?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul is infinitely more important than the physical body. The soul has to be realised first; then only can the Light of God be revealed to the world through the body. Since the soul is inside the physical, we have to give the necessary importance to the physical. But if we show undue concern for the body all the time, then we shall lead a most ordinary human life. We shall simply exist on earth like some farmers in the Indian villages who live to be one hundred and fifty or even two hundred years old but have no aspiration.

Just to live here on earth and count the years on the calendar is of no avail. But if we can stay on earth for forty or fifty years and bring the soul’s light and other divine qualities to the fore, then our life will be meaningful. In order to do this, we have to live in the soul, not in the body. If we live in the body, we become victims to teeming desires.

Question: How do I go deep within?

Sri Chinmoy: First you have to feel that there is something within you called the heart. You do not have to go to a spiritual Master in order to know that you have a physical heart of your own. Now, just as you have a physical heart, you have a spiritual heart which is located in the same place. Then feel that inside the heart there is something called the soul. You have not shut the door of the heart at this point; you are only trying to unlock another door and that is the door of the soul.

My soul shall be

Heaven-enjoyer
My soul was.

Earth-instructor
My soul is.

Heaven’s complete satisfaction-creator,
Earth’s perfect perfection-builder
My soul shall be.

Question: You have said that we should first locate the soul and then chant AUM from the soul's region. How would a person know that he has made contact with his soul and is working from the soul's region?

Sri Chinmoy: It is through meditation and aspiration that he will know. Let us compare his being with an apartment that has three rooms and let us say that he has a free access to these three rooms. He enters into one room and sees it is all dark. In it there is only rubbish and junk; everything is untidy, undivine, obscure and impure. Immediately he has to feel that this is the room of the mind. The unaspiring mind, the doubting mind, the sophisticated mind, the suspecting mind stays in that dirty, undivine room.

Then he enters into another room. There he feels a kind of soothing sensation and the word “hope“ is looming large. Everything is hopeful, everything is fruitful, everything is giving him joy. If he looks at a particular corner he gets joy. If he looks at an object he gets joy. Everything is encouraging him, pleasing him, inspiring him. He has to feel that this room is his heart. Here in the heart he is getting inspiration, aspiration, encouragement and a sense of accomplishment.

Then he enters into the third room. There he sees everything is perfect, everything is luminous, everything is fulfilling. Since everything stays inside this room and does not come out, manifestation in the outer being is still needed, but in itself the room is totally perfect. It makes you feel that here you have accomplished everything. That is why you are feeling boundless joy. When you first look at this soul-room, you feel that it is yours. Then after some time you feel that you yourself actually are this room. It is not your possession; you have in fact become that particular room. And that room is the soul.

If you go to the mind-room, you can ask anything of the mind and the mind will tell you whatever it has to tell you. In the second room you can ask the heart for the message it wants to give you. And in the third room, the soul will give you its divine message. Then try to listen to the dictates of the soul and become totally one with the soul.

Question: If you have realised Atman, do you also realise Brahman and Paramatman?

Sri Chinmoy: Atman is the soul and Paramatman is the Self. When Shankara speaks about the Paramatman, he means the great Self, the Self without a second, which is beyond the entire universe. Atman is the small self, the individual soul. The small self, the individual soul, is part and parcel of the Paramatman. Nothing can exist apart from the Paramatman. Let us say that Paramatman or Brahman is like the ocean. If you enter the water at any one place, you are entering into the ocean itself. You will not say that you have entered into only one tiny part of the ocean.

So if you know yourself, if you know what you are, if you live perpetually in the soul, then immediately you become consciously aware of God and of your inner existence. If you know what you are, only then can you know about the Source; if you know the soul, Atman, only then can you know the source of Atman, which is Paramatman. They are one. If you know the son well, then through the son you can know the father. And similarly, if you know the father well, then you can know the son. If you live a divine life and enter into your own soul, which is the representative of the Absolute, then naturally you will come to know Paramatman and Brahman.

Question: I would like to know what the demands of my soul are when I accept a spiritual Master. Do I have to give all my life, all my intelligence, all my love?

Sri Chinmoy: When you say “give”, what do you really mean: give, or give up? You need not give up anything when you accept a spiritual Master. Only you have to feel that what you call “yourself” is another name for your Master. A feeling of indivisible oneness must be established between the Guru’s consciousness and the disciple’s consciousness. If you feel that you are giving up something, then there will be no end to your frustration.

As the disciple need not give up anything, so also he does not have to give anything to the Guru. The disciple just comes to the Guru and enters into the Guru with what he has and what he is. What do you have? You have a soul. What are you? You are the soul. There is no difference between what you have and what you are. If you enter into your Master with that knowledge, with that wisdom, with that understanding, then you will see, feel, and become totally one with your Master’s existence. When the disciple’s soul and the Guru’s consciousness and soul are one, at that time you are not giving him anything. Your achievement is not at all different from what you are. There will be no more difference between the two than between your fingers and your hand.

So if you are asking what a Guru will demand of you, I wish to tell you that it is your soul, which is precisely what you have and what you are. You may say that what you have, both your wisdom and your ignorance, you are giving to your Guru but, if you see that you are inside your Guru, then there is no giving and no taking. There is nothing to give and nothing to take; there is only growth inside the Guru’s heart. Please stay inside your Guru as long as you can — forever. There is no time when a disciple’s soul should be separated from his Master’s consciousness. Remain inside the Master with what you have and what you are — not in the sense that you are giving anything to him but in the sense that you belong to each other. Feel that you are growing inside your Master. It is not a question of your giving him something and his having to give you something else in return. Again, there is no sacrifice in the feeling of oneness. When you feel that you and he are one, when you feel that you both have the same consciousness, the same existence, the same love; then there can be no sense of sacrifice.

Question: Does it matter to the soul whether we meditate every day at the same time?

Sri Chinmoy: I wish to say that those who are awakened, those who are no longer in the world of ignorance, should make it a point to be sincere, regular and punctual in the spiritual life. Their very regularity and punctuality will dispel the darkness which comes in the form of sloth and inertia. So try to be regular always in your meditation and try to be punctual always. Then you will see that regularity and punctuality have abundant power. You can always use them as a measuring rod, because each day when you meditate punctually you are one step closer to your Goal.

Some individuals don’t give enough importance to regularity in their aspiration. You may think that you have meditated for three months and come so far in your spiritual life that you can take rest for a few days before starting again. But unfortunately it is not like that. Once you give up the spiritual life and take rest for some time, you start running backwards; you go right back to your old life. Doubt, fear, suspicion and all kinds of negative forces enter into you and destroy all your inner possibilities. The potentiality for you to realise God remains; naturally one day you will realise God. But previously you ran forward continuously with your possibility; that golden opportunity you have now lost. The progress that you have made will be totally lost when you take rest. That is to say, the essence of the progress remains inside the soul and is never destroyed, but your past progress will not be manifested in your outer life. You won’t be able to speak the truth, you won’t be able to give your soul’s smile, you won’t offer a good vibration or give inspiration. No one will have faith in you.

After falling off the spiritual ladder, it is extremely difficult to climb up again. But because the quintessence of your spiritual development will remain inside your heart, in your next incarnation or whenever you want to meditate again, that quintessence will come to the fore. It will gradually, gradually loom large again if you most sincerely pray to God to help you return to the spiritual life. But you have delayed your progress.

That is why I always say regularity must be maintained. Once you have reached your Goal you are safe. But before that, even if you are only an inch from the Goal, there is no certainty. Ignorance can pull you back. Many people on the verge of realisation have been attacked by hostile forces that have prevented them from realising God. These unfortunate seekers will get their realisation, but it will take them much longer. So until you have reached the ultimate Goal, there is no security, there is no fulfilment, there is no continuous delight. Always be on the alert and run as fast as you can towards your ultimate Goal. Until the Goal is won, do not stop, because ignorance will pull you back again to your starting point.

Question: Are our desires under the control of the soul?

Sri Chinmoy: Right now our desires are not under the control of the soul. Right now only our aspiration is under the control of the soul. When we are aspiring and the soul says to do something, we do it. But when we are victims to teeming desires and the soul says to do something, we do not listen. The soul, however, will ultimately gain its supremacy.

When a new department head comes into an office, the office workers mock at him. They won’t listen to him or do the things he asks of them. But gradually, gradually he understands the situation in the office and he begins to exercise his authority. Then the clerks are afraid that they will be fired, so they give him due respect. In the spiritual life also the soul tolerates everything in the beginning. The physical, the vital and the mind are all unruly members of the family and they mock, they disobey, they do everything wrong. The physical being is like a naughty child who does not want to take a bath in the pool. He thinks that the water in the pool is very cold and he does not want to enter. But there is another child beside him, that is to say, the heart, who enters the swimming pool on his own, and gets properly bathed and is happy. The mother, who is in this case the soul, observes the situation and sees that the naughty one is not going to jump into the swimming pool. Finally after half an hour she just pushes him into the water and compels him to bathe.

Similarly, the soul waits for its own time. The world is full of ignorance, but inside the soul is God’s infinite Light and adamantine Will. There does come a time when the Divine Will is exercised through the soul, although in the beginning the soul remains a witness, like the Purusha. The soul just observes what parts of the person are good and what parts are bad. When the good parts want to listen to the soul, the soul welcomes them. It says, “Now, let us run to the Goal.” The parts of the being that are still sleeping in ignorance and creating problems will be referred by the soul to the Supreme. Finally, one day the Supreme will use His omnipotent Power and say that the time has come to show them divine Light through divine Authority. At this time, God’s choice Hour, when the soul wants to liberate someone from the meshes of ignorance, the darkness of millennia will be expelled.

Question: Since suffering is all around us, does it not contribute something to the soul?

Sri Chinmoy: No, suffering does not contribute anything to the soul. We do not go into the light through darkness and suffering; instead, the light transforms our darkness and suffering. The soul overcomes all suffering when it is enlightened.

Question: For several mornings I have heard a bird singing beautiful music, like a flute, during my sleep. But when I wake up I cannot remember that music.

Sri Chinmoy: This bird is your soul and the music is coming from your soul. When you are asleep your consciousness has a free access to your soul. But when you wake up you come back to your ordinary life and cannot retain this free access because your physical consciousness is not in touch with your soul. But if you have a very powerful meditation before you go to bed, then you will be able to retain the soul’s consciousness the following morning. During your meditation try to feel that you are not the body but the soul and, at the same time, that you exist for the soul. Then you will easily be able to remember the music that you hear.

Question: Can you explain to us why a person who is very ill may continue to live on for days and days, even when this phenomenon is unexplainable in medical terms?

Sri Chinmoy: Medical science does not have the last word on life and death. The doctor may say that somebody’s life will last only a few more seconds, but we see that days run into weeks, weeks run into months and still the person goes on struggling. Even though the soul withdraws and has no concern either for the world or the person who is suffering, the physical still wants to cling to the earth. It feels that if it can stay for even one minute more, then it will achieve something important. But this is not true. When the soul loses its concern, when it shows no interest in what is happening in the outer life, a human being can never have any higher or deeper experiences. But the soul is most compassionate: It allows the blind body to stay on earth for a few days or for a few months more. Even though the soul knows that the body’s prolonged stay on earth is not serving any purpose in expediting the person’s realisation, where the person has abundant attachment for this outer cloak, out of compassion the soul may stay in the human body for a short while just to please the unconscious human frame.

We all want to conquer death, but the soul knows what is best for us. The soul knows that if, at a ripe old age, one tries to linger and revitalise his life-energy, it will not help the individual. The soul has practically ended its journey for this incarnation. As regards the soul’s growth, we can rest assured that the soul will not get any benefit, for it has already gathered the quintessence of its life experiences.

Question: Will God's Reality ever be found on earth?

Sri Chinmoy: God has two names: one is Dream, the other is Reality. With His Dream He is entering into the world of His fulfilment, which we call constant manifestation of reality. The highest Reality is the transformation of human nature, which is right now half animal and half divine. The highest Reality can be manifested here on earth, but it will take quite a few centuries, perhaps much longer. That doesn’t mean that we have to remain silent and inactive — far from it! Every day we shall try to sail in God’s Dream-Boat and see where the Boat is taking us. If we consciously and constantly are seated in God’s Dream-Boat, then slowly, steadily and unerringly this Dream-Boat will take us to God’s Reality-Shore. This Shore of Reality is not somewhere in Heaven; it is here in our day-to-day life, in our thoughts, in our actions, in our very existence on earth.

All worlds are real. But this world, this planet, this earth, is more real than other planets because God has decreed that it is only on this planet that realisation can and will take place. What is realisation? It is conscious oneness with God the Infinite. Only in this world can an aspirant consciously become one with God the Infinite.

Here on earth we can gain constant oneness with the infinite Light and infinite Truth, because Reality is more vivid, more manifest here. Let us not think of Heaven or hell. Our human understanding of Heaven and hell is all deception. Other worlds do exist; we can go to them during our sleep. But if we truly want to be totally one with God, then this earth is the only place where we can see the real in ourselves, in humanity and in God Himself.

Editor's preface to the first edition

The soul is the conscious representative of God in each human being. In this book, the God-realised spiritual Master Sri Chinmoy offers illumining insights into the soul that will inspire each seeker on his path of self-discovery.

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