Fifty Freedom-Boats to one Golden Shore, part 2
Part I — Lectures
Power1Dear sisters and brothers, dear seekers of the ultimate Truth, I wish to give a talk on power. We all know what power is. Everyone from a child to an octogenarian can tell us what power is. But I wish to say a few words on power from the spiritual point of view, based on my own inner experiences.
Life is action and action is power. Now, whom does this power belong to? Is it mine? No, never! Were it my power, I could use it at any time. But there have been many times when I wanted to use power and could not, precisely because this power does not belong to me. This power does not belong to any individual. It belongs to some higher realm.
Why do we want power? We want power because we feel that it will satisfy us in various ways. Within us we have the animal, the human and the divine. Although we have come out of the animal kingdom, we still have a good many animal propensities in our life. Although we are aspiring for a divine and higher life, the unlit, the obscure, the undivine animal and human in us are still predominant. To satisfy the animal in us, we want power to destroy the world. To satisfy the human in us, we want power to gain supremacy over others and lord it over them; we want power so that we can bring others under our control and make them extol us to the skies. To satisfy the divine in us, we want power so we can identify ourselves with all and sundry. The divine in us wants to become inseparably one with all human beings on earth. With the divine, there is no question of destruction, no question of supremacy; there is only the universal song of oneness.
Here we all are seekers. Before we entered into the inner life, the life of self-discipline, we noticed quite a few things about the members of our family: body, vital, mind and heart. We discovered that our body was exceedingly weak, impotent; our vital was extremely aggressive, dangerous; our mind was constantly confused, obscure, doubtful; and our heart was continually insecure. We stayed with our weak body, aggressive vital, unlit mind and insecure heart for a good many years.
Then something deep within prompted us to enter into the spiritual life, the life that could give us the message of the Infinite, the Eternal and the Immortal. Now that we have started making progress in the spiritual life, we have come to realise that this very body of ours can become most powerful. Our vital, our mind and our heart can also become most powerful. But we must know that the power of the body is not the power that we outwardly see, the power that takes the form of destruction. The infinite Power that we now see in the body is expressed in the body's self-dedication to the Supreme Lord. The boundless Power that we now see in the vital is expressed in the vital's dynamic, enthusiastic urge to welcome the vast world as its very own. The infinite Power that we now notice in the mind is expressed in the mind's clear, perfect vision of the ever-transcending Beyond. Finally, the infinite Power that we now notice in the sun-vast heart reveals that there, in the heart, our divinity grows and our reality constantly fulfils its own immortality.
There are three types of power usually seen in the present-day world: machine-power, man-power and soul-power. Machine-power is to some extent blind. It takes tremendous joy in destroying the world. Although machine-power is unconscious, even in its unconsciousness we notice that, in a subtle way, it enjoys destruction. But we must remember that this machine-power is utilised by man-power, by the power of man's fertile brain. So machine-power can easily be brought under our control if we use our human brain-power or, preferably, our heart-power. Heart-power is the power of love, the power of oneness. If we use the power of our love and the power of our oneness, then the power of destruction can easily be nullified.
Our soul-power is constantly, incessantly trying to come to the fore and guide our outer consciousness, our outer life. Unfortunately, right now we do not pay any attention to the soul-power; but once we go deep within and become familiar with it, we shall be able to use it most effectively. The soul-power is the power of universal oneness. The soul-power is the power of real fulfilment and complete perfection in our aspiring lives.
There is a negative power and there is a positive power. Negative power we see in our idleness. When we live a lethargic, tamasic life, we tell God that we are tired and exhausted, that we do not want to budge an inch. We say, "If it is true that You are all Compassion, then please offer us what You have: Peace, Light and Bliss." But if an idle person invokes God in this way, God is not going to listen to his prayer. Never! Again, a rajasic person, a man of unpolished, undisciplined dynamism — or, rather, aggression — wants to pull down Peace, Light and Bliss from Above by dint of his unillumined will for power. If he succeeds, it will be a disaster; for when something is achieved untimely, it is never given due value or utilised for a divine purpose. If we utilise power for an undivine purpose, we invite destruction into our life of aspiration. If we utilise power for a divine purpose, we shall be fulfilled in a spiritual, divine and immortal way.
Positive power can be all-fulfilling. The Upanishads, the sacred Vedic lore of India, tell us that a weakling can never realise the highest Absolute.
The soul cannot be won by the weakling..."
If we at all want to dive into the inner life, if we want to be guided and moulded by the soul, then we have to be extremely strong. The strength we need is not so much physical strength, but the strength of self-discipline, the strength of self-enquiry, the strength of self-withdrawal from the life of the senses, the strength of self-effacement in the world of offering and self-fulfilment in the world of aspiration and meditation. The Upanishads again inspire us most profoundly:
Arise, awake, realise and achieve the Highest with the help of the illumining, guiding and fulfilling Masters.
The path is as sharp as the edge of a razor, difficult to cross, hard to tread — so declare the wise sages."
But the Upanishads in no way want to discourage us. On the contrary, this sacred message will always inspire us to run towards the Goal. But we have to know that only he who is awakened can run towards the ultimate Goal. The Goal, God-realisation, cannot forever remain unattained or unattainable. Today's impossibility will not always remain an impossibility. No! If the seeker's cry is strong and powerful, the Smile from Above is bound to dawn.
In our day-to-day life we constantly exercise power, either in accepting or in rejecting reality. When we use power to accept reality with a view to transforming it, if necessity demands, then this power is called the soul's power, the power of the Source. But if we exercise power to reject the world-situation, to reject the possibilities of the world, to reject this world because we feel that its sufferings and turmoil are past correction, then our own transformation and illumination will always remain for us a far cry.
Each human being gets the opportunity to invoke power in various ways. Every day he gets the golden opportunity to invoke power with his hope. Hope is nothing but concealed power. When we cherish hope, we must know that we are consciously or unconsciously invoking an inner or higher power. Today's hope turns into tomorrow's actuality. Today's dream is bound to be fulfilled in tomorrow's reality.
As hope is a power, so also is expectation a power. We expect many things from ourselves and from the world. We feel that today's expectation is going to bring down tomorrow's realisation. But in the spiritual life, we play the role without any expectation whatsoever. We feel that our role is to perform divine service, but not to expect the fruits thereof. If we can love, serve, pray and meditate with utmost sincerity, purity and self-offering, then our God-appointed realisation is bound to dawn. It will far transcend our highest expectation and far surpass the flights of our loftiest imagination.
In the spiritual life we deal with silence and we deal with sound and finally, we deal with a Consciousness which is beyond both silence and sound. Silence is power. This silence creates the world within us and without. Sound, the cosmic sound, is also power. As the transcendental Silence creates the world, so does the cosmic Sound sustain and maintain the world. Finally, the Consciousness which transcends both sound and silence immortalises the seeker's aspiring being.
We cannot separate the Power of God from His other divine aspects. Power is one aspect of God; Love is another. In the ordinary life, power is power and love is love. But in the spiritual life, in God's Life, Power and Love are inseparable; they are like the obverse and reverse of the same coin. Now, if we do not properly understand the power of love and the love of power, we run into the most deplorable difficulties. Before we realise the highest transcendental Truth, what we have is the love of power. But after we realise the Truth, we come to feel that there is only one thing in our life, and that is the power of love. As long as we remain in the world of desire, we cherish the love of power. But the moment we enter into the world of aspiration, dedication and illumination, we come to realise the power of love. The love of power destroys the Palace of Truth within us. The power of love builds the Palace of Truth within us and creates the Kingdom of Heaven within and without us, bringing down Infinity to play in the heart of the finite. When the power of love replaces the love of power, man will have a new name: God.
FFB 30. Luther I Bonney Hall, University of Maine, Portland, Maine, 25 January 1974.↩
Spirituality1Dear sisters and brothers, dear seekers of the ultimate Truth, I wish to give a talk on spirituality. As we all know, spirituality is a vast subject, and here, in an hour, I can never do justice to it. But let me at least make a beginning.
In spirituality we come to learn of two significant terms: "meditation" and "dedicated service". All of us here are fully aware of these two terms. Some of you may use the terms "knowledge" and "work". Knowledge is the result of meditation. When we dive deep within, we see, we feel and we grow into the highest Knowledge. Work, when it is done in a divine spirit and for a divine purpose, is dedicated service. The combination of meditation and dedicated service makes a man perfect.
In this world, many are of the opinion that spirituality cannot offer a balanced life, but I wish to say that they are badly mistaken. It is spirituality alone that can offer us a real life, a balanced life, a practical life. Who is practical? He who knows the truth and who knows how to apply the truth in his daily life. A spiritual person is he who tries to know the truth today, to discover the truth tomorrow and to apply the truth the following day in all his multifarious activities. A spiritual person is someone who goes to the very root of the Truth, for he knows that if there is no root there cannot be any tree. And the root of the Truth is love. A spiritual person meditates not for his own sake alone; he meditates for all and sundry. He meditates for his dear ones, and he meditates for every human being on earth. His is a life of love and dedication.
Each individual has his own way of reaching the ultimate Truth. One may find it easier to reach the Truth through dedicated service, by loving God in each human being, by seeing and feeling the divinity in humanity. Another may want to dive deep within and first reach the Source, and then work on the earth-plane. Both are doing the right thing. But the person who does not aspire and does not want to aspire in any way — who is useless in society — is either a fool or a dead soul.
Each seeker should feel that it is his bounden duty to realise the Highest. But each seeker must know that God-realisation, the realisation of the ultimate Truth, need not and cannot be the sole monopoly of any one individual. Everyone is destined to reach the Highest. But there is a way that leads a seeker to his destination quite fast, and that is the way of the heart. If we empty the heart and welcome the eternal Guest, our eternal Beloved, He comes in and fulfils His own transcendental Reality in our day-to-day existence. The other way, the way of the mind, is lengthier and more difficult. But if we can silence the mind, then Peace, Light, Bliss and Power in infinite measure can enter into us also.
We are all seekers. In our inner life, our spiritual life, we have already travelled millions of miles. Although we may at times fall victims to our animal qualities and indulge in quarrelling, fighting and other negative and destructive actions, still we no longer cherish or appreciate the animal in us. We know that what we actually want from our lives is Peace, Light and Bliss. The animal in us has played its role, and now the human in us is playing its role. We are cherishing the hope that today's human qualities will be transcended and transformed into divine Reality. When we meditate, we feel that this is no longer a hope, but a certainty. When we meditate deeply, profoundly, in the very depths of our heart, we feel that there is no such thing as impossibility. As we have transcended the animal kingdom, so also must we transcend our human weaknesses, imperfections, limitations and bondage.
In the Western world, meditation is not as common as prayer, but I wish to say that prayer and meditation are like two most intimate brothers. If we pray soulfully, we can get what meditation offers us. When we pray, we feel that something from within, from our very depths, from the inmost recesses of our heart, is climbing high, higher, highest. And we feel that somebody is there to listen to our prayer, or somebody is there to receive us at the pinnacle of our aspiration's height. When we meditate soulfully, devotedly, in pindrop silence, we feel that a divine Guest is descending into our heart to guide us, to illumine us, to perfect us and to fulfil His own transcendental Reality within us. We feel that the Infinite is entering into the finite for their mutual fulfilment.
In this world there is a need for peace. This peace comes only from within, and we can bring it to the fore only through meditation. If we can meditate soulfully for ten minutes every day, we will energise our entire being with Peace. Peace houses Light, Bliss, Fulfilment and Satisfaction. We can have Peace not by possessing the world or leading the world, but by becoming a lover of the world.
Now when we become a lover of the world, we may commit a most deplorable mistake: we may expect something from the world in return for our love. We are ready to accept the limitations and imperfections of the world as our very own. But if in spite of our best efforts, our best intentions, our deepest love and compassion for the world, the world does not listen to us or does not offer us enough gratitude, at that time we make an inner demand on the world. At the beginning of our service, we demand everything from the world in return for our offering, our life of sacrifice. If we give something, we expect the same amount in return, if not more. Then there comes a time when we give as much as we have, we give to the utmost of our capacity, and we expect in return only an infinitesimal measure of what we have given. But even if we expect just an infinitesimal quantity of appreciation from the world, I wish to say that we are bound to be unhappy; we are bound to be wanting in peace. Let us give to the world unconditionally what we have and what we are: Love. The message of love we get only from our daily prayer and meditation. We know that love means oneness, inseparable oneness. And in oneness there is no expectation, no demand.
There are two ways to love. One way is to go first to the human love and then reach upward to the ultimate Love, the divine Love. The other way is to reach the divine Love first and then enter into and transform the human love. The divine Love always inspires us, guides us and moulds us into something immortal, which we can offer to humanity. The human love frustrates us, disappoints us, and finally constrains us to try to enter into the kingdom of divine Love.
We have to love life and also love truth. Truth and life can never be separated. When we try to separate truth and life we cannot make any progress. In our human love, frustration may loom large. But in the divine life, love is constantly building us and shaping us into the very image of God.
We have spoken about peace and love. If someone asks us to speak about peace, we will be able to speak most eloquently. But speech does not help us to establish the kingdom of peace on earth. It is our silent prayer and soulful meditation that can give us the peace of mind which our little world, our own personal world, badly needs, just as the entire outer world needs it. To begin at the beginning with ourselves is the only way we can eventually bring peace to the world. If I do not have peace myself, how can I offer peace to others? Impossible!
We have a body, which we regard as the only reality. When we satisfy the need of the body for earthly food, for nourishment, we feel that we have fulfilled our task. But in our inner life also we have someone to feed every day, and that is our soul, the divine being within us, the conscious representative of God on earth. Although we feed our body every day, somehow we fail to feed this divine child within us. Since we never do the first thing first, we remain unsatisfied here on earth. First we must go deep within, and then — from within — we must go without. The inner life must constantly embrace, guide and inspire the outer life. The outer life is eventually liberated by the inner life, which already has liberation in fullest measure.
The inner life and the outer life can and must run abreast. The inner life will constantly receive messages from Above, messages of Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. Infinity, Eternity and Immortality are not vague terms. When one becomes an advanced seeker, he sees and feels infinite Peace, Light and Bliss within himself. One need not be a God-realised soul to have this experience. All of us have Peace, Light and Bliss in infinite measure in the very depths of our aspiring spiritual heart.
But right now the door of our heart is locked by ignorance. We have to open the door and dive deep within to go beyond ignorance to where our own Peace, Light and Truth reside.
We are God's children, His chosen instruments. God abides within us as a constant Dream, and we live in God as His only reality. He lives in us as a Dream that will ultimately be transformed into reality; and we live in Him as a reality that will grow into His ever-ascending, ever-blossoming Dream. We are all seekers, and we are all in a boat. Our journey can never come to an end, for God, the eternal Pilot, is our Pilot, and we are in His Boat. He is the Boatman, He Himself is the Boat and He is the Golden Shore of the Beyond.
FFB 31. Pace Memorial United Methodist Church, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, 6 February 1974.↩
Freedom1Dear seekers of Truth, Light and Bliss, I am extremely glad to be at this august university today. This university loves progress more than anything. In our spiritual life also, we care for only one thing — progress. We do not care for success; we care only for progress, and in our progress looms large our success. Today's success is the starting point for tomorrow's achievement. Success never gives satisfaction, but when we make progress we do get satisfaction. Progress is the Will of God working in and through us, carrying us safely to our ultimate Goal.
Today I wish to give a short talk on Freedom. We all know something about what freedom is, for freedom is very familiar to each individual soul. As a freedom-loving country, America stands in the vanguard of the freedom-loving countries. So, dear sisters and brothers, perhaps you know more about freedom than I do. But from the spiritual point of view, for the seeker of the Infinite Truth, I would like to say a few words on spiritual freedom, inner freedom.
What is freedom? Freedom is our conscious, spontaneous and selfless search for Light, abundant Light, infinite Light.
There are two kinds of Light: the outer light and the inner light. The outer light exposes us, examines us and judges us. The inner light awakens us, illumines us and fulfils us.
Once we enter into the world of aspiration, we come to realise that there are three types of freedom: animal freedom, human freedom and divine freedom. Animal freedom enjoys total destruction. Human freedom enjoys fleeting or deluding pleasure. Divine freedom enjoys illumining and fulfilling oneness. Animal freedom and human freedom are earth-bound freedom. Divine freedom is Heaven-free freedom. Earth-bound freedom is the song of our unlit ego's supremacy. Heaven-free freedom is the song of our reality's perfection and divinity's manifestation.
In today's world, man and perfection are perfect strangers. In tomorrow's world, man and perfection will be bosom friends, illumining friends and fulfilling brothers. In the mind of today's world, divine manifestation is sheer impossibility; but in the heart of tomorrow's world, the divine manifestation is an unmistakable inevitability.
Spiritual freedom is our liberation from the mire of self-created bondage. When the body is liberated from the mire of ignorance, the body divinely serves God in man. When the vital is liberated from the aggression of ignorance-dream, the vital divinely loves God in man. When the mind is liberated from its tiny, limited ignorance-cave, the mind divinely manifests God in man. When the heart is liberated from its insecurity-prison cell, the heart constantly feels the Supreme Pilot here on earth, there in Heaven.
In the spiritual life, we need speed. To my great joy, we are very close to Detroit, the capital of the automobile world, the city of speed. In the inner life, speed is aspiration. If there is no aspiration, then there is no speed, and God-realisation remains a far cry. We know the speed of an Indian bullock cart and the speed of a modern jet plane. Aspiration has the speed of a modern jet plane. Aspiration is the heart's mounting cry that finds its satisfaction only when it reaches the goal of the ever-transcending Beyond. Once it reaches the Goal, the inner being is inundated with freedom, the freedom that feeds us, energises us and fulfils the hunger of humanity.
Right now, if you ask, "Who needs freedom?" our answer is that everyone needs freedom. If you ask, "Who has freedom?" the answer is that nobody has it. But if we launch into the spiritual life, if we follow the path devotedly, soulfully and unconditionally, then today's bondage can be transformed into tomorrow's freedom. Outer freedom is fleeting and badly lacking in satisfaction. Inner freedom gives us real and abiding satisfaction. Unless and until we have attained satisfaction, we shall always remain unfulfilled and empty.
In order to bring satisfaction into our life, we cry deep within. When God's Hour strikes in our life of aspiration, we become not only men of freedom but also lovers of freedom. At that time we transform mankind with our embodied, revealed and manifested Freedom Divine.
Now we are in the state of Michigan. The state motto is extremely significant from the spiritual point of view: "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you." In the spiritual life, we are looking for a spiritual peninsula. The peninsula is Love, Devotion and Surrender — Divine Love, Divine Devotion and Divine Surrender. Human love binds; Divine Love expands. Human devotion is our unconscious attachment; Divine Devotion is our conscious awareness of our ultimate reality. Human surrender is the surrender of a slave to his master; Divine Surrender is the surrender of the finite to the Infinite. This surrender is conscious, wholehearted and unconditional, and it allows the human being to realise his Source, God.
After God-realisation, the finite human life becomes inseparably one with the Infinite. At that time, the Infinite sings its most soulful song, the song of God-Reality, and the finite sings its eternal song, the cry of millennia.
The moment we enter the spiritual life, one sublime thought, word and idea becomes paramount to us, and that is "consciousness". Strangely enough, this state of being abounds in lakes. Lakes consist of water, which signifies consciousness. Consciousness and spirituality are inseparable.
When we elevate our consciousness to the highest level of awareness, illumination dawns. When we spread the wings of our consciousness, we fly into the sky of Immortality. Each seeker consciously tries to expand his consciousness, illumine his consciousness and fulfil his consciousness; for in the expansion, illumination and fulfilment of his consciousness, he becomes one with the real, divine Supreme, his Source and his Goal.
FFB 32. Rackham Hall, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 12 February 1974 — morning.↩
Peace1Dear sisters and brothers, dear seekers of the ultimate Truth, I wish to give a talk on peace.
Peace is a most familiar word. Each seeker knows what peace is according to his receptivity's capacity. I am a seeker. I wish to share with you the peace that I have experienced. By offering my experience, I wish to become totally one, inseparably one, with your life of aspiration and dedication.
What is peace? Peace is our liberation from bondage. What is liberation? Liberation is our universal oneness with God the Unity and God the Multiplicity. What is bondage? Bondage is the dance of our unlit ego. What is ego? Ego is the unreal in us. And what is the real in us? The real in us is Truth; the real in us is God. God and Truth are inseparable, the obverse and reverse of the same coin.
What is peace? Peace is our satisfaction. What is satisfaction? Satisfaction is our conscious and constant oneness with the Will of the Supreme Pilot. Where does this satisfaction lie? It lies in our self-giving and in our God-becoming.
Peace, the world needs. We all need peace. But when we think of peace we try to discover it in our mind. We use the term "peace of mind". We feel that peace can be found only in the mind, and if once we can discover peace in the mind, then our problems will be solved for good. But at this point I wish to say that the mind we are referring to is the physical mind. This mind is the doubting mind, and in the doubting mind we can never feel the presence of peace. We can feel the presence of peace only in the loving heart. The doubting mind leads us to total frustration. The loving heart leads us to complete satisfaction. We doubt, and then we feel a barren desert within us. We love, and then we feel a sea of Reality and Divinity within us.
Peace is not to be found in external knowledge. Most of our external knowledge is founded on information, and information cannot give us any abiding satisfaction. Peace is not to be found in outer efficiency. Peace is found in self-mastery.
If we want to achieve peace in our inner and outer life, then we must know the necessity of reciprocal inclusiveness and not mutual exclusiveness. Earth and Heaven must be united. Heaven has the silence of the soul. Earth has the sound of life. The silence of the soul leads us to our Source, the highest Reality; and the sound of life allows us to manifest what is within that highest Reality. In the inclusiveness of earth and Heaven we can achieve peace.
Peace is the only authority in our life of ascent and descent. When we ascend, we learn the song of unity in multiplicity. When we descend, we learn the song of multiplicity in unity.
All of us here are seekers. We are all children of God. We are progressing according to our inner intensity and our soul's necessity. Each individual member of the world family has a special way of achieving peace. A child feels that he can achieve peace only by making noise. Inside noise, what looms large for him is peace. An adolescent finds peace only in constant activity. A youth finds peace only by creating a new world or by destroying the old world. An old man finds peace in unlearning most of the things he has learnt from the ignorant world. When he unlearns, he feels considerable peace. He also achieves peace by placing himself at the Feet of the Supreme Pilot.
Peace is our inner wealth. This inner wealth we can bring to the fore only when we expect nothing from the outer world and everything from the Supreme Pilot within us, at God's Choice Hour. Often, when we work for the world and serve the world we feel that it is the world's bounden duty to offer us gratitude or to acknowledge our service. When we expect something from the world, we are bound to meet with frustration. But when we expect from the Inner Pilot, He fulfils us beyond the flight of our imagination. But one thing we must know, and that is that God has an Hour of His own.
Our duty is to pray for peace, meditate on peace, concentrate on peace and contemplate on peace. God's duty is to inundate us with His Peace. When we know the art of surrender, the kingdom of peace within us cannot separate itself from our living reality. It is our conscious inner surrender, our unconditional surrender to the Inner Pilot that expedites our journey towards the discovery of the all-illumining and all-fulfilling Peace.
Now we are in the state of Ohio. The state motto is most significant for all seekers: "With God, all things are possible." The moment we enter into the spiritual life, we feel there can be no better, more encouraging and more illumining message than this. A beginner-seeker believes in it. An advanced seeker goes one step further and feels that God is the Doer, God is the Action and God is the Fruit thereof. So, our first lesson in the spiritual life is that everything is possible with God. Then later we come to feel that we do nothing, that it is God who does everything in and through us. This is the great lesson, the ultimate lesson, that we learn from our inner school.
The capital of the state of Ohio is Columbus. In the state of spirituality, there is only one capital, and that is aspiration. On the strength of aspiration we can achieve our Goal. On the strength of aspiration we transcend constantly our earthly reality and existence. No matter in which field we apply aspiration, the mounting flame within us, we are bound to achieve success. The state of Ohio offers us a shining example. From Ohio, seven American Presidents came, and offered their loftiest height and light to the whole country. Not only in the field of politics, but in every walk of life, when we aspire, our aspiration leads us to the destined goal.
Every day the Almighty Father, the ever-Compassionate Father, gives us ample opportunity to discover something new. The thing that we are discovering is love, love divine. Love divine is at once eternally ancient and eternally new. When we discover love divine within us, we grow into the very image of God the eternal Lover and God the eternal Beloved, who ever abides within us.
FFB 33. Ingman Room, New Student Union, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, 12 February 1974 — afternoon.↩
Success and progress1[Excerpt from the introduction by Dr John Philip Posey, Associate Professor of History and Director of Non-Western Core Programme: "I was delighted that a rather eminent religious leader was going to be in the Midwest giving a series of lectures here. He seemed to be interested in coming down to Indiana, so I jumped at the opportunity. I was a little bit concerned that this Wednesday morning would not be a time to get too many people to a lecture, but somehow my illusions have been smashed…"]
Dr Posey, I am most grateful to you for your kind words. Since last evening, your heart of magnanimity has touched my heart most deeply. In silence I pray to the Almighty Father to grant you His choicest Love and Blessings. Human life is a series of experiences. Six years ago, while I was in Puerto Rico, I went to a chapel and was insulted and scolded vehemently by the Mother Superior. What was my crime? That I was an Indian, a Hindu, and I entered a Christian chapel. But today at St Joseph's College I am basking in the kindness of everyone here. Both experiences I offer at the Feet of the Almighty Father.
I am a seeker. I am a devoted brother of mankind. I try to serve the Almighty Father in each of my brothers and sisters. And if anybody asks, my foremost qualification is that I am a humble lover of humanity. Dear sisters and brothers, dear seekers of the Infinite Truth, we are all seated in a boat. The name of this boat is God's Dream-Boat, and our Pilot is the Lord Supreme. He is carrying us to the shores of the Golden Beyond. I wish to give a short talk on success in the life of desire and progress in the life of aspiration.
Success we want; progress we need. When we live in the word of desire, teeming desire, we want success. We feel that it is everything. But when we live in the world of aspiration, we come to realise that what we actually need is progress, continual and constant progress.
Success gives us name and fame. Progress gives us a higher inspiration, a deeper faith and a stronger assurance.
Our success is immediately claimed by many. It is claimed even by those who had nothing to do with its advent. But our progress is treasured by only one Person, our eternally beloved Father Supreme.
Success is the song of possession. We want to possess the world, but to our wide surprise we see that before we can possess even one person on earth, we have been mercilessly possessed and bound by the world at large.
Possession, ambition and outer success go together. The strength of ambition finally offers us success. But the strength of surrender to the Almighty Father grants us progress, which is what the Supreme wants from our lives.
When ambition becomes our bosom friend, when our inner being is surcharged with determination, we achieve success. But we have to realise that in the spiritual life when we offer and surrender our ambition to the Source, we make true progress. And in this progress we find real fulfilment. When we succeed in something in the outer world, we feel that we have done it in spite of opposition from the entire world. We feel that it is by virtue of our own capacities that we have achieved our desired success. But when we make progress — no matter in which field — within the inmost recesses of our heart we come to feel that the entire world helped us, that each individual on earth has helped us in some way or other according to his capacity.
A man of success, the moment he achieves success, starts adding up all the difficulties and dangers he encountered before success dawned in his life. A man of progress, the moment he makes progress in his life of experience or in his life of realisation, starts counting all the blessings he received from Above. Finally, he realises that the door of opportunity is marked by both "push" and "pull". He pushes aside his life of bondage, his life of ignorance, his life of countless imperfections. He pulls down from Above Peace, Light and Bliss in boundless measure — slowly, steadily, devotedly and unerringly.
Renunciation is progress. We renounce our life of ignorance, our life of teeming doubts. Here I wish to recall the message of the Upanishadic lore:
The whole world is owned by the Lord Supreme. Let us not hunger after others' possessions. In renunciation is the satisfaction everlasting: in renunciation we drink the Nectar-Delight of the Absolute."
Progress is like a lotus that blossoms petal by petal. Each time a petal comes into existence we feel that a new dedication, a new hope, a new self-mastery dawns in our life of service to aspiring mankind.
Success and progress on the human level are two so-called rivals. Success wants to please itself according to its own receptivity's capacity. Progress wants to please God unconditionally in His own Way. My experience tells me that success has a short life which, at the same time, is dubious and precarious. My realisation tells me that progress has an everlasting and ever-transcending life. We achieve today's goal on the strength of our progress, which is founded on aspiration — our mounting inner cry. But then, today's goal becomes tomorrow's starting point. Tomorrow we have to start for a higher goal. Each time we reach a goal, our aspiration tells us that it is only the starting point for a higher, more meaningful and more fruitful goal. We are in the process of constantly transcending our reality. And the ever-transcending Reality is the Golden Shore of the ever-transcending Beyond.
Today's imperfect man, today's unlit man, grows into tomorrow's perfect and fully illumined man only when he feels that progress is the only thing that he needs. Each time we climb to a higher rung of the ladder of progress, we automatically achieve success — inner success. But if we run after success, there is every possibility that we may adopt foul means and do undivine things, because we are competing with others with whom we have not yet established a sense of inseparable oneness. When we want progress, we feel that if we have to compete with anyone or anything at all, our enemies are within us: fear, doubt, anxiety, worries, insecurity.
In order to reach the highest Goal, we must have faith in abundant measure, both in ourselves and in the Almighty Father. If we do not have faith in the Almighty Father all at once, no harm. Out of His infinite Bounty, He will illumine us, guide us, perfect us and fulfil us at His choice Hour. But if we lose faith in ourselves or if we are wanting in faith in our life of aspiration and dedication, then we shall be devoured by the ignorance-tiger. At that time nobody will come to our rescue.
We and God must have reciprocal faith. Our faith in God will make us His chosen instruments. His faith in us will inspire us to manifest Him totally, unreservedly and perfectly here on earth. Our faith in Him will give us what we desperately need — realisation. His faith in us will give Him the opportunity to manifest Himself in and through us. We need Him for our highest realisation; He, out of His infinite Kindness, needs us for His divine Manifestation.
Faith is the only thing that makes us feel that we are part and parcel of Eternity, Infinity and Immortality. Eternity, Infinity and Immortality are not vague terms. They are realities growing and glowing in the heart of the genuine seeker. When we have faith in abundant measure, the Lord Supreme assures us that in and through us He will manifest His perfect Perfection.
FFB 34. Conference Room 1, Halleck Building, St Joseph's College, Rensselaer, Indiana, 13 February 1974 — morning.↩
Wisdom-Light1Dear sisters and brothers, dear seekers of the infinite and eternal Truth, I wish to give a talk on Wisdom-Light. Each individual present here has Wisdom-Light. Today I will share with you my Wisdom-Light; tomorrow, easily and effectively you can share with many your Wisdom-Light.
What is Wisdom-Light? Wisdom-Light is something that eternally glows inside our heart and around our life eternal. Wisdom-Light tells us that there are only two mighty powers on earth. These powers are temptation-power and liberation-power. When we surrender to temptation-power, we come to realise that our body is unawakened, our vital is undisciplined, our mind is unillumined and our heart is unfulfilled. When we aspire for liberation-power, we come to realise that our soul is a fulfilled and, at the same time, a constantly fulfilling reality; that our soul is an illumined and, at the same time, an ever-illumining reality.
When we enter into the spiritual life, we come to realise that we have three teachers: ignorance-teacher, knowledge-teacher and wisdom-teacher. Ignorance-teacher teaches us how to talk. Knowledge-teacher teaches us how to talk and act. But wisdom-teacher teaches us only how to act spontaneously and unconditionally.
When we talk and talk, we enter consciously and deliberately into the domain of ignorance. When we talk and act, at times we see a yawning gulf between our speech and our action. We say something and we do something totally different. We make a solemn promise to do something, but when reality dawns we see a vast gulf between our promise and its fulfilment. But when we act spontaneously, soulfully and unconditionally — when we offer our dedicated service — an unseen Hand guides us, shapes us and moulds us into the very image of our Inner Pilot. It is only by devotedly serving the Inner Pilot in each individual that we can make our life meaningful and fruitful.
The brotherhood of man can never be achieved by talking, but only by becoming something, by achieving conscious oneness with the Tree which is God. Unless we establish our conscious, inseparable oneness with the Almighty Father, the Absolute Supreme, we can never establish in our inner life or outer life the full brotherhood of man. We have to touch the tree and climb up the tree. Only then can we approach the branches and enter into the millions and billions of leaves, which are our brothers and sisters. If we do not go to the tree and climb up the tree, how can we enter into the consciousness of the leaves, which are our brothers and sisters?
Ignorance is self-enjoyment, knowledge is self-examination and wisdom is self-perfection. When we swim in the sea of ignorance, we enjoy. This enjoyment is followed by frustration, and frustration is followed by destruction. When we try to examine ourselves, we see imperfection looming large. But, at the same time, perfection is within our easy reach. Self-perfection is wisdom. When we pray and meditate, we enter into the reality of silence, and this gives us the opportunity to perfect our life within and without. Silence embodies perfection. Silence is ready to reveal its perfection in and through us on the physical plane, which is now inundated with ignorance, darkness, bondage and imperfection.
How do we discriminate Light from night, Truth from falsehood, Immortality from death? We discriminate the one from the other by praying and meditating, by trying and crying. When a child cries, his mother comes to the rescue and offers him toys or food or anything else that he wants. Similarly, when we cry in the inmost recesses of our heart, the Mother Divine, the Mother Supreme, comes to our rescue and inundates our inner and outer being with infinite Light. This Light is our real Divinity, Immortality and perfect Perfection.
Very often we feel that knowledge and wisdom are one and the same thing. But when we enter into the spiritual life and get inner experiences, we come to realise that knowledge and wisdom are two totally different things. Knowledge is like the younger brother in the family, and wisdom is the older brother. Naturally, the older brother will be infinitely wiser than the younger one. Knowledge sees something and then wants to utilise that thing. Wisdom feels the Truth, wants to grow into the Truth and finally becomes the Truth. Knowledge and wisdom are two brothers at the foot of the Realisation-tree. Let us call it a mango tree. Knowledge starts counting the leaves, the branches and fruit, but wisdom climbs up the tree, plucks a mango and eats to its heart's content.
Now, where can wisdom exist? It can exist everywhere. It can exist in knowledge, in intelligence, in the intellect, in intuition. But the wisdom that abides in the soul is the wisdom that leads us and guides us fastest towards our destination. When we pray and meditate we go deep within and hear the dictates of our soul. Once we hear the dictates of our soul, we establish a free access to the world of divine Reality, Infinity, Eternity and Immortality.
Here I wish to quote the words of Benjamin Franklin: "Work as if you were to live a hundred years. Pray as if you were to die tomorrow." Work I take as dedicated service in the spiritual life. Every day it is our bounden duty to offer our dedicated service to the Supreme in all human beings. Dedicated service greatly helps us to reach our destined goal. Now, we have to know that today's goal is not and cannot be the goal forever. Today our goal is realisation of the highest Truth and the highest Light. Tomorrow our goal will be the revelation of the highest Truth and Light. And the day after tomorrow our goal will be the perfect manifestation of the highest Truth and Light, which we will then embody.
"Pray as if you were to die tomorrow." A seeker of infinite Truth must feel that each moment is a most sacred opportunity for him. Tomorrow death may snatch us away from the world arena. So we have to feel that this is the last time, the last opportunity, the last moment we have to realise the ultimate Truth. On the one hand, we know that death is nothing but a short rest in the flow of Eternal Time. On the other hand, we know that here on earth we have to accomplish quite a few things for God's fulfilment and for our fulfilment. Right now, our fulfilment and God's fulfilment are diametrically opposed. But when we pray and meditate, we come to feel that God's fulfilment is our fulfilment, that God's fulfilment is the only fulfilment. If we pay considerable attention to the value of time, we do not wallow consciously in the pleasures of lethargy and ignorance. We can utilise each moment for our ever-increasing fulfilment and ever-fulfilling illumination on the strength of our inner cry to see something, to grow into something and to become something.
About an hour ago when I arrived here, I was deeply moved to see the motto of this august college: "Equal opportunity for all, freedom to see and discriminate the truth and the brotherhood of man."
Equal opportunity for all. Now who can give us equal opportunity? Only the Inner Pilot can give and does give equal opportunity to all. Every day, early in the morning, He knocks at our heart's door. When He knocks at our door, some of us wake up and answer the door while others remain in the world of sleep, inconscience and ignorance. In our outer life, once we lose an opportunity we seldom get it back. But in the inner life we get a new opportunity every day, every hour, every minute. He who responds to the inner opportunity immediately runs fast, faster, fastest towards the ultimate Goal.
Each individual has to be given freedom to seek the Truth in his own way. We cannot thrust our truth on others. Each has to go deep within to the Truth. Truth is the Goal, but in order to reach the Goal, we can and do adopt different paths, different roads. Different roads allow different individuals to run the fastest. If others force their freedom upon us, it will be totally valueless for us. But if we search deep within, our freedom is our revelation, our illumination, our perfection. The Vedic lore offers us a momentous message:
Asato ma sad gamaya
tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
mrityor ma amritam gamaya
Lead me from the unreal to the Real.
Lead me from darkness to Light.
Lead me from death to Immortality.
I am extremely happy that the state of Illinois is proud of calling itself "Land of Lincoln". Lincoln was a seeker in the pure sense of the term. God gave him a magnanimous heart. Emerson said of him, "His heart was as great as the world, but there was no room in it to hold a wrong." I wish to elaborate on this most significant utterance.
When we become a seeker, we try to have a heart as vast as the world itself, or try to have a heart even vaster than the world. In this vast heart, a real seeker does not see the ignorance of the world as belonging to others. The heart of a true seeker sees the imperfections, limitations and bondage of others as its very own. Emerson says Lincoln's heart did not hold a wrong, but I wish to say that his heart did not hold a wrong of his own. His heart did hold the wrongs of millions and billions of human beings, and he accepted these wrongs of others as his very own — not with a sense of pride, but with a sense of oneness.
Since we are all seekers, the world is within us, not outside us. Each individual that we see around us is within us as well. Also, when we go deep within we see that we have a large family, a very large inner family of doubts, fears, anxieties, worries, imperfections and limitations. When we transform them on the strength of our conscious concentration, meditation and contemplation, we see that our outer world is also totally transformed.
I am here in Chicago. The very name of this city gives me enormous joy and delight. When I was eleven years old, I read a biography of the great spiritual figure, Swami Vivekananda. In 1893, when they held the Parliament of Religions here, Swami Vivekananda came and offered the eternal wisdom of the soul's light. My young heart was so delighted and moved, for he came from the same place where I was born, Bengal. So the younger brother feels a oneness with his elder brother. Vivekananda was divinely and supremely blessed to be able to offer the wisdom-light of India here at the Parliament of Religions.
To me, each religion is a soulful, powerful, meaningful and fruitful house. Each individual should live in a house; he cannot live in the street. But a man need not stay all the time in his house. He comes out to study. Here our inner school and our inner subject is Yoga. Yoga is conscious oneness with God. We are all seekers, sincere seekers. For us God does exist. And it is only a matter of time before we will be able to see Him, feel Him, fulfil Him and grow into His Image.
FFB 35. Congress Room, Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois, 13 February 1974 — afternoon.↩
Forward!1Dear seekers of the highest Truth, dear sisters and brothers of the spiritual family, as we all know, each state has a motto of its own. To my deepest joy the motto of your state, Wisconsin, is very significant in the spiritual life. Forward. To me, "forward" is not a mere word or an idea, but a secret and sacred key to open God's Door.
Forward. There can be nothing as significant as moving forward in our life of aspiration. The Vedic seers of the hoary past uttered a significant mantra: Charai veti, "Move on, forward!" We shall move forward towards the farthest Beyond. Today we are in the Dream-Boat; tomorrow we shall touch the Reality-Shore. Forward, ever forward.
We are all seekers; we are all in the world of spirituality. To me spirituality is a one-way road that leads us to our destination. Once we start our journey, we may stumble, we may walk slowly, we may march or we may run fast, faster, fastest towards our Goal. There may come a time when we proceed backwards on our way towards the Goal, but this is only a temporary experience. After a while we go forward again.
We do not belong to the past; we belong to the future, the future that grows and glows in the immediacy of today. I tell my students that the past is dust no matter how much we have achieved in the past or what we were in the past. The past has not given us Truth, Light and Bliss in infinite measure. Therefore, we can and must expect these things only from today, or from the future that is looming large in the heart of today.
In the spiritual life we come to realise that we have four good friends: simplicity, sincerity, humility and purity. With the help of these friends, we move forward.
Simplicity-friend wants us to be as simple as possible. It tells us that our mind makes us feel that God is very complex, but actually He is very simple, simplicity itself. Therefore we, too, have to be simple in order to receive and achieve Him.
Sincerity-friend tells us that God is all sincerity. Although we do not know or understand His operation, His way of working in and through us, still God is very sincere. Therefore we, too, must be sincere in order to be God-like.
Humility-friend tells us that God is very humble. Although He is the Highest, the Lord Supreme, His Humility-power and Oneness-power make us feel that if we, too, are humble, one day we will be able to reach the Highest. God is like a tree. When the tree has no fruit, it stands erect and may look proud and haughty. But when the tree is laden with fruit, it bows down. So God, who is always full of inner fruits, bends and bows so that His children can climb up the tree and eat to their heart's content.
Purity-friend tells us that God is all purity. It tells us that our living breath must be purity's flood if we want to hold, cherish and treasure the Presence of God within us.
When we are sincere in our forward journey, we see that our road is very straight. When we are simple, we feel and we see with our inner vision that the road is sunlit. When we are humble, we feel that the road is short and, at the same time, shortened still further by the Grace of God. When we are pure, we see clearly with our inner vision that the ultimate Goal itself is running towards us as we are running towards the Goal. And our meeting place is where the finite unites with the Infinite.
Charai veti! "Move on, forward!" There was a time when we were in the mineral world, but when the necessity came from within, we moved on and entered into the plant world. From the plant world, we moved on into the animal world. From the animal kingdom we entered into the human kingdom. Now it is our inner urge that will lead us to the Divine Kingdom.
In the mineral world, the ruler is Ignorance-Emperor. In the plant world, the ruler is Ignorance-King. In the animal world, the ruler is Ignorance-Commander. In the human world, the ruler is Ignorance-Captain. In the Divine World, the ruler is the Light Supreme of the ever-transcending and ever-fulfilling Beyond.
We move forward on the strength of our outer and inner education. Outer education at times fails to tell us that there is something called inner education. Or it happens that outer education discourages us from entering into inner education. Now, outer education has to offer what it has and inner education has to offer what it has. But it sometimes happens that when we have too much outer education we accumulate too much world-information and not so much knowledge, not to speak of wisdom. At this time we find it difficult to enter into the world of inner education. Again, too much of the intellect, too much of the physical mind surcharged with doubt, fear, anxieties, worries and other discouraging elements, makes it difficult for us to enter into the inner education and make progress.
We need the mind, but only the mind that listens to the heart, for the heart listens to the soul. Otherwise the mind, the vital and the body become unruly members in our spiritual family. So we have to try very hard to stay in the heart, since this heart has to listen to the eldest member of its family, the soul. Similarly, the mind must listen to the heart, the vital must listen to the mind, and the body must listen to the vital. In this way, the spiritual family can grow together and fulfil the message of the Absolute Supreme.
From the inner education we come to realise that Truth and Wisdom-Light are already within us. But sometimes we need help convincing our outer being that we do have within us what we actually seek. In outer education, we feel that the knowledge is somewhere else and we have to search for it and get it. In the inner education the ultimate Knowledge, the Wisdom-Light, is all within us, but somebody has to convince us of this. The inner teacher tells us, "Inside you is the treasure, inside you is the box, but unfortunately you have misplaced the key. It is your treasure and not mine. It is your box and not mine. But I will show you where the treasure is and, if you want me to, I will also help you open the box. Once you open the box, all the treasure will be yours." The inner teacher is like a river. Just follow the river and it will take you to the sea, which is your own Reality, your own Divinity, your own Immortality.
Before we enter into the spiritual life, we are small people. Once we enter into the spiritual life, we are great people. But after we start making real progress in the spiritual life, we become good people. A small man never thinks that he is small. A great man thinks that he is great. A good man thinks that he is neither good nor bad. He sees that he is just an iota of Light, just an iota of Truth, while God is the infinite sea of Light and Truth. When we make real progress, we come to know how small, how insignificant we really are. But again, there comes a time when the finite, the infinitesimal drop, merges into the ocean of Truth, Light and Bliss and becomes the vast ocean itself.
The small man is afraid of moving forward because he feels that the unknowable may destroy him altogether. For him, to step forward is to enter into the unknowable. A great man is reluctant to step forward because he feels that this forward step may take him into something unknown, which may be unfriendly. A good man feels that the unknowable or the unknown is nothing but God veiled. Once we enter the unknowable and the unknown, God becomes unveiled — unveiled Reality, unveiled Divinity. So a good man is never afraid of progress. He knows that right ahead of him is the veiled Reality and, if he approaches this veiled Reality, it will become the unveiled Reality.
We can move forward only when we have confidence. Before we enter into the spiritual life, we have very little confidence, even in ourselves. We do not know or do not care to know that there is someone called God who can inundate us with confidence. But once we enter into the spiritual life, we see that it is God who offers us confidence. That is why we make progress and walk, march, run towards our destined Goal. At every moment God tells us that unless and until we also have divine confidence, we will not be able to make the fastest progress. Only when we have divine confidence can God's Confidence operate most successfully and gloriously in us. And what is our divine confidence? It is the confidence that tells us we came from God, and so cannot mix with ignorance. We cannot swim in the sea of ignorance. No! We have to swim in the sea of Light and Delight.
The forward march, the inward march and the upward march are the same. If we take one step forward, we have to feel that simultaneously we have taken a step inward and a step upward. In our forward step, we see the Body of God. In our inward step, we see the Heart of God. In our upward step, we see the Soul of God. When we have the Body of God, the Heart of God and the Soul of God, at that time we do not need anything else.
We have to move on, move on far, farther, farthest; deep, deeper, deepest; high, higher, highest. Since we are seekers, there is no end to our achievement. We achieve on the strength of inner assurance — our assurance to God and God's assurance to us. God's constant assurance to us is this: "Children, you are all of Me, of My Infinity, Eternity and Immortality." Our assurance to God is this: "Father, we are for You. We are for Your manifestation, Your complete manifestation, Your perfect manifestation here on earth." In this way, when God assures us and we assure God, then our journey towards the highest Height, the deepest Depth and the farthest Beyond reaches its destined Goal; the Dream-Boat touches the Reality-Shore.
FFB 36. Union Cinema, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 14 February 1974.↩
Wisdom, justice and moderation1Dear seekers, dear friends, I wish to give a talk on "Wisdom, justice and moderation", which is the motto of Georgia. "Wisdom, justice and moderation" is a most significant motto. If we can apply these ideals in our daily life, then we can derive much Peace, Light and Joy from our earthly existence.
Wisdom. Wisdom is our liberal self-giving and not our selfish self-seeking. Wisdom is the beauty of our inner flame. Our inner flame is our upward aspiration-flight. Our aspiration-flight is our immortal Reality's height. The man of wisdom serves God in man. The man of wisdom loves man in God. By serving God in man, the man of wisdom gets boundless Peace, Light and Bliss. By loving man in God, the man of wisdom expands his vision. He feels himself an extension of the ever-increasing vision, inner and outer. Wisdom is at once experience and realisation. Experience tells the seeker what he can eventually become: a perfect instrument of God. Realisation tells the seeker what he eternally is: an eternal player, divine and supreme.
Justice: justice human and justice divine. "As you sow, so you reap" — this is human justice. "Tit for tat." "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But Divine Justice is this: give what you have. You have to become what God is. Give your treasured possession, ignorance, to God. God will give you, in return, His very existence, which is Light flooded with Delight. In our human world, justice is more painful than heartful. In the divine world, justice is meaningful and fruitful. In the vital of night, justice threatens and frightens us. In the heart of Light, justice inspires and perfects us. In the human world, justice forces and punishes us. In the divine world, justice awakens us, illumines us and liberates us from the meshes of ignorance.
The great philosopher, Aristotle, once remarked, "Justice is what every man considers his very own". Now, in the spiritual life, only God is our very own. But this God of ours also belongs to every other soul as well. This God can be claimed by each and every soul as its very own. In order to make others feel that God is equally theirs, we have to become one, inseparably one, with them. And in order to become inseparably one with them, we have to become a Concern-sky and a Love-sea. It is our Concern-sky and Love-sea that can make others feel that they belong to us and we belong to them.
On the strength of our oneness, we can make others see what they want and what they really need. What they want is desire; what they really need is aspiration. We have to tell them that if we give them what they want — the fulfilment of desire — then this is bound to be followed by frustration; whereas if we offer them what they need — aspiration — then this aspiration will be the harbinger of realisation. And realisation is an ever-lasting, ever-growing, ever-fulfilling achievement in man's aspiring consciousness.
Moderation. Moderation means balance. A moderate life is a balanced life. The Buddha taught the path of moderation, the middle path. He warned us not to go to extremes, for he himself had gone to the extremes and found that that was not the answer. A real seeker shuns all extremes. An austere, severe life is not meant for him; nor is a life of constant enjoyment and pleasure meant for him. We have to adopt the middle path. We have to be normal and natural. And in our normal and natural life, we have to invoke the supernatural life, the life of Divinity, Infinity and Immortality.
A real seeker accepts the outer world. In his acceptance he pays considerable attention to the outer world. He accepts the inner world. There, too, he pays considerable attention. In his life of acceptance, he accepts the reality as such and wants to transform it with his inner cry, with his love of God, Light, Truth. In his rejection of darkness, he rejects the things that are unhealthy, the things that destroy his inner potentiality. But again, there are many undivine things in a person that can be transformed into divine realities. So he accepts these things and tries to transform them.
Life is a challenge for us. From a human point of view our earthly experience is like being in a battlefield. But if we go deep within, we come to realise that every day is an opportunity, every hour is an opportunity, every moment is an opportunity. If we can utilise these golden opportunities, then the imperfection that looms large in our life of today can easily be transformed into perfection in our life of tomorrow.
In our spiritual life there is a divine ladder that reaches to the highest pinnacle of Truth, Light and Bliss. This ladder has three rungs. The first rung is moderation, the second rung is justice and the third is wisdom. When we step on the first rung, we read the message: "Know Good." When we step on the second rung we read the message: "Do Good." And when we step on the third, we read the message: "Be Good." The moderation-rung teaches us how to know good in everything in God's entire creation. The justice-rung teaches us how to do good in all our multifarious activities. The wisdom-rung teaches us how to become good and how to grow into the very image of God.
When we are wanting in wisdom, it is a loss. When we are wanting in justice, it is a double loss. And finally, when we are wanting in moderation, it is a triple loss. But if we discover faith, inner faith, then it is a veritable gain. And along with it, if we can discover our aspiration, then it is a double gain. Finally if we can discover our divine surrender, our constant and unconditional surrender to the Light to the inner Source, to the real Source, then it is a triple gain. So, if we can have faith, aspiration and surrender, then the destined Goal can never remain a far cry.
A seeker is a man of wisdom. He wants to see the root of the Reality-tree. Then he wants to feel the necessity of becoming the seed of the Reality-tree. Finally, he wants to actually become the seed of the Reality-tree. When he becomes the seed of the Reality tree, he sees that there is only one thing that was, is and forever shall be, and that is Love: the Love that created, the Love that nourishes, the Love that sustains God's universe.
If we practise what we preach, then wisdom becomes our profession. What we practise and what we preach should be the same: love. We tell the world to love, but we may not actually offer love to the world. But if we offer love and become love, then we can most assuredly expect to see love in the world at large. It is God's Love-Power that compels us to think of Him, to pray to Him, to meditate on Him and to claim Him as our very own. As God claims us as His very own on the strength of His own Love-Power, so also He tells us and inspires us and begs us to claim Him as our very own on the strength of our love for Him.
When we come face to face with God, He asks us to offer Him what we have. If we can offer Him our real treasure, a heart of love, He immediately accepts it and says, "You have passed your examination." But if we offer God all our world-possessions — physical, vital, mental possessions — but do not bring Him love, then He will not be satisfied. God will say, "No, bring Me your heart of love; that is your true treasure. And once I have your true treasure, then I will give you My Treasure, which is Light and Delight in Infinite measure."
FFB 37. Student Center Chapel, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, 20 February 1974 — morning.↩
Hope and Life1I wish to give a short talk on one of the mottos of South Carolina. As you all know, South Carolina has two mottos. "Prepared in mind and resources", is one motto; the other motto is, "While I breathe, I hope." I wish to say a few words on the second motto, from a spiritual point of view.
Hope is Life. Hope is progress. Each individual life is an Idea of God's, a Plan of God's and a dream-fulfilling Reality of God's. Hope likes the God-idea; Hope loves the God-plan; Hope serves the dream-fulfilling Reality of God.
There are two lives: desire-life and aspiration-life. Desire-life starts with self-enjoyment and ends in self-destruction. Aspiration-life starts with self-enquiry and ends in God-discovery. Today's life for us is God in preparation, and tomorrow's life for us will be God in perfect Perfection, God in His Manifestation on earth.
Two lives: human life and divine life. Human life cries to live; divine Life lives to offer. Human life is counted in years; divine Life is measured by progress — illumining and fulfilling progress. Human life always wants to enjoy without learning; Divine Life wants to learn first and then enjoy. Human life does not want to learn and does not learn anything. It is satisfied with what it gets, which is ignorance. It enjoys ignorance to its heart's content. Divine Life wants to learn, it wants to learn the lessons of Eternity. While learning the lessons of Eternity, divine Life is enjoying the Bliss of Immortality.
Life and hope are inseparable. Life is the body, and hope is the intuitive divinity in us, the divinity that wants to transcend the reality which we presently are. Hope is man's seeking, hope is man's inner urge, hope is man's upward flight into the Beyond.
We are all walking along the road of Eternity. When an unaspiring, ordinary human being walks along this road, he is followed by some of his so-called friends: fear, doubt and anxiety. When these friends reach him they make of him what they themselves are: fearful, doubtful and anxiety-stricken. God is the Goal; He is the Way; He is the eternal Traveller. When God walks along His eternal road towards the ever-transcending Beyond, all the world can follow Him, led by hope. When hope reaches Him, God makes hope His dearest friend, eternal partner and eternal fulfiller of His Dream.
Life and hope entirely depend on inner wisdom. Here on earth we have two types of wisdom: earthly wisdom or earthly knowledge and heavenly wisdom or heavenly knowledge. Here on earth vidya and avidya, knowledge and ignorance, together move, together dance. Thousands of years ago, the Vedic seers offered this message:
Vidyam cavidyam ca yas tad vedobhyam saha
avidyaya mrtyum tirtva vidyayamrtam asnute
What they call "ignorance" is earthly knowledge, and what they call "knowledge" is heavenly wisdom. With earthly knowledge we try to go beyond the domain of death, and with heavenly wisdom we try to enjoy the Bliss of Immortality.
When we enter into the spiritual life we see and feel at every moment that God is the Doer, God is the Action and God is the Fruit. On the strength of this realisation, we feel we have ample opportunity to reveal our inner divinity. A life on earth is not meant for pleasure; a life on earth is meant for self-offering. Self-offering eventually makes us what God is.
Each day is a golden opportunity for us to bring to the fore a new life, a new dawn. With each day we expedite our earthly progress. We enter into God's Domain, which is within us, in the inmost recesses of our heart. When we pray and meditate regularly, devotedly and soulfully, we come to realise that life is not only meaningful and fruitful, but is actually God's manifesting Reality on earth. And we come to understand that hope is the precursor of tomorrow's all-revealing and all-fulfilling Reality.
Life is the car. Hope is the engine. Aspiration is the fuel. God is the Destination.
FFB 38. Foreign Student Lounge, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, 20 February 1974 — afternoon.↩
Success, failure and progress1
Fear and doubt are two self-styled friends of ours who want to accompany us to God's Palace of infinite Light and Delight. They tell us what we should do. Our fear tells us that we shall blame God. Our doubt tells us that we shall fail God. But this journey of ours is a long one. At a certain point along the way, our teeming fear and brooding doubt become tired and remain behind.
We also have two real friends: courage and faith. We have invited these two friends to accompany us on our Godward journey, and they have accepted our invitation. They tell us that they will give us what they have. Courage will give us inspiration; faith will give us aspiration. Courage will inundate our being with inspiration so that we can envision the highest Goal. Faith will inundate our being with aspiration so that we can reach our destined Goal.
From the spiritual point of view, what is failure? Failure is an experience which awakens us. What is success? Success is an experience which energises us to strive for a higher and greater success. And what is progress? Progress is an experience which illumines us and fulfils us.
Failure indicates our lack of adamantine determination. Success indicates our tremendous power of concentration. Progress indicates that the crown of God's Will is in us and for us.
In our day-to-day life, when we fail in something we feel that the whole world is lost. We find it extremely hard to bury our sad experience in oblivion. When we succeed, at times we are bloated with pride. We cherish this pride because of our ego. At times we exaggerate our achievement beyond imagination. At times we want to prove to the world that we have or we are something when, in the purest sense of the term, it is not true. We try to make others feel we are exceptional, but in the inner recesses of our heart we know that this is false. When we care for progress, we want to be only what God wants us to be. We do not want any appreciation whatsoever from the world. We do not want the world to overestimate or underestimate us; we want the world just to accept us.
In our outer life, we fail because we do not give proper value to our goal, to our achievement. We have to appreciate and admire the Goal. If we give it proper value, we are bound to succeed. After darkness, dawn appears. Now, while we are living in inner darkness, if wisdom brings inner dawn into our consciousness and we do not appreciate or accept the dawn, then the dawn is not going to remain in us. When we become sincerely spiritual, we give the utmost value to Light, to the effulgence of Light. Now we live in darkness, but we will not be always in darkness. We are now fast asleep, but we need not sleep forever. Provided we have an intense inner cry, provided we give value to our Goal, we shall most assuredly reach our Goal.
A sincere seeker has a peculiar way of spelling the word "sincere". The inner philosopher spells the word "sin-seer". Now, in our philosophy there is no such thing as sin. What Westerners call sin is actually imperfection, limitation and bondage. A sincere seeker is a seer, for he sees his imperfections, limitations and bondage. Once he is fully aware of his limitations and weaknesses, he has already taken one step forward towards his liberation from bondage. At that time his goal is no longer a far cry.
We shall not fail. On the strength of our inner cry, on the strength of our inner mounting flame, we shall succeed. What we have is our inner cry. What God has is His transcending, revealing, fulfilling Smile. When our ascending cry and God's descending Smile meet together, we reach the supreme Goal.
We shall not fail, we cannot fail. We shall succeed on the strength of our one-pointed devotion to our Inner Pilot. How do we acquire this one-pointed devotion? We can acquire one-pointed devotion only when we have peace of mind. How can we have peace of mind? We can have peace of mind only when we detach ourselves from the tempting world about us and dive deep within to see the root of the Reality-tree.
We shall not fail God because we know what we have and we know what God has for us. There is a saying that "God helps those who help themselves." Now, some people may ask, "If we know how to help ourselves, why do we need God's Help? Or, if God is kind enough to help us, then why does He want us to use our puny personal effort?" Here we have to know that God's task is to fill us with Light only when we have emptied ourselves of darkness. We have to empty our vessel, and then God will fill the vessel. We empty ourselves of the ignorance of millennia, and God enters into us and fills us with Light and Delight. If we do not play our role, how shall we satisfy God? God is playing His Cosmic Game and we are consciously following the spiritual life, consciously accepting His Cosmic Game and playing with Him. While consciously and devotedly playing the Cosmic Game, we offer what we have. God accepts our capacities, our achievements, our possessions, and He gives us His capacities, His achievements, His possessions. He gives us perfectly, eternally and unconditionally.
We shall not fail God because we love God and because God loves us. Love is oneness, inseparable oneness. When we sing the song of inseparable oneness, we cannot fail.
FFB 39. Humanities Lecture Hall, University of North Carolina, Asheville, North Carolina, 20 February 1974 — evening.↩
Part II — Questions and answers: University of Maine
Question: Is there a possibility of complete fulfilment in this world?Sri Chinmoy: It depends on what kind of fulfilment you are referring to. If it is fulfilment of our teeming desires, then we shall never be fulfilled. Today if one desire is fulfilled, tomorrow we will have another desire, and the moment that desire is fulfilled, we will have yet another desire. If we expect fulfilment in life through desire, then we shall never be fulfilled.
But if we follow the other road — the road of aspiration — even if we get just an iota of Peace, Light and Bliss, we shall feel a real sense of fulfilment. And as we grow inwardly, our Peace, Light and Bliss increase. When we take exercise daily, we gradually develop our muscles and become strong, stronger, strongest. So also in the spiritual life, when our aspiration — our inner strength — is built up, there comes a time when we get Light, Peace and Bliss in infinite measure and feel total satisfaction and fulfilment in our life.
If we accept the life of aspiration, sooner or later fulfilment is bound to come. But as long as we wallow in the pleasures of ordinary life and feel that desire will be able to satisfy us, then we cannot know fulfilment. Our human desires will never be totally fulfilled. They must be transcended. Desire does not have the capacity to free us. On the contrary, the very nature of desire is to bind us, for desire itself is bound; whereas the very nature of aspiration is to free us, for aspiration is always free. That which has freedom can eventually free us, but that which has no freedom but is only a slave cannot offer us anything.
Question: Sometimes I feel that I am competing with others and trying to realise God ahead of them. Could you say something about this?Sri Chinmoy: In the spiritual life, there is no such thing as competition. We do not compete with others because we know they are our brothers and sisters. If we feel that everyone is a brother or sister, we begin to get a feeling of oneness with them. If you have to enter into the field of competition, then I tell my students to compete with themselves. Right inside us there are so many competitors — fear, doubt, jealousy, insecurity — which are always ready to compete with our aspiration. When we want to go one step ahead towards our goal, immediately fear enters into our mind, doubt darkens our mind and other undivine forces immediately try to stop our onward journey.
So if you must enter into the field of competition, then compete with yourself, your inner undivine, unruly members. Since we have all entered sincerely into the spiritual life, we should not compete with others. We only look forward. We feel that when our time comes we will reach our destination: when our hour strikes we shall reach our goal. The destination is there for everybody, but the hour has to strike. If the hour strikes for you then you will reach your goal. If it strikes for me, then I will reach my goal. If it strikes for somebody else, then that person will reach his goal.
Question: How can we stop thoughts from bothering us during meditation?Sri Chinmoy: We have to make an effort to calm and quiet our mind. We can call this a kind of inner exercise. If we do it every day, sooner or later we are bound to succeed. Let the fly bother me as many times as it wants to, but each time it comes I will try to chase it away. Each time an undivine thought enters into my mind, I will throw it out of my mind. It is like a foreign element, a thief, that has entered into my room. Why should I consciously allow a thief to remain in my room when I have the capacity to throw him out? Here also, when an undivine thought enters into my mind, I will just capture the thought and throw it into the blazing fire of inner aspiration.
Question: If we killed off all our desires and lived all the time in the inner world, it seems to me there would be no progress in the world and everything would stagnate.Sri Chinmoy: If you feel that we cannot live all the time in light, that we have to live in darkness for twelve hours and in light for twelve hours, that philosophy is perfectly all right according to the standard of certain individuals. Someone meditates for one or two hours, and then goes out and enters into ordinary life. Someone else can meditate for several hours and there are some people who can meditate all day and night. It is all a matter of necessity. Inner necessity compels one person to meditate for one hour and someone else to meditate for twelve hours or twenty-four hours.
Now, when somebody meditates for an hour, he gets a kind of satisfaction. During that hour, he could have done something totally different, but he did not care for it. He preferred to meditate. He felt that the satisfaction he would get from meditation was more worthwhile than the satisfaction he would get from working or gossiping or whatever else he would have done during that hour. But after that hour, he wants to go back to the worldly life and its kind of satisfaction. But someone else may be able to meditate for twelve or twenty-four hours. Again, it is a matter of inner necessity, of what kind of satisfaction the person wants and needs.
There are two rooms. One room is unlit and obscure right now; the other room is fully illumined. One person may say that he wants both rooms equally: "I want to remain in the unlit room for twelve hours and in the well-illumined room for twelve hours." So he is most welcome to do that. But somebody else may not feel the necessity of staying in the unlit room at all. He says, "I want to remain only in the room which is illumined."
Then there is another person who says, "I have remained in this illumined room for twenty-four hours and now I have gotten illumination. Now let me go into the other room which is still dark and illumine it with my light." This person has a big heart, so he enters into the dark room to illumine his brothers who are still in darkness. He was getting satisfaction, abiding satisfaction, in the illumined room, but this was not enough. He will be fully satisfied only when he goes into the dark room and transforms it with his light. So there are some people on earth who have come back into the world of suffering even though they have the perfect capacity to remain eternally in the world of light and delight.
If we can bring the wealth of the inner world into the outer world, which is now obscure, then easily we can illumine this world. But first we must enter the inner world — the world of light — and receive something ourselves before we can offer it to the outer world. When we can do this, the inner and outer worlds will become united, and the outer world will become fully ready for the inner message. Right now the outer world is not ready, but a day will come when the outer world and the inner world will go perfectly together.
Part III — Questions and answers: Virginia Commonwealth University
Question: Which sound or chakra would be best for me to meditate upon?Sri Chinmoy: For you, and all of us here, the best chakra to meditate upon is the heart. The heart chakra is called Anahata, which means "the soundless sound". Here on earth we need some physical action to produce a sound. But in the spiritual heart nothing is required, yet we continually hear a sound. And inside that sound a new creation is constantly being born.
If you meditate on the heart chakra, gradually you will come to feel that your own spiritual heart is larger than the largest. At that time you will see that the universal consciousness is inside your heart, and not outside. If you want to grow into something infinite, divine, eternal and immortal, then the heart chakra is by far the best. There you are always safe. The other chakras have boundless capacities, but if you are not totally pure then many, many problems may arise from meditating on them. But the heart chakra itself embodies purity. When you meditate on the heart, your entire being is flooded with purity. And only in purity can divinity abide permanently.
Question: I'm not sure I understand what you mean when you say the inner life is like a journey, which eventually takes you to the ever-transcending shore.Sri Chinmoy: On the one hand I say "the boat", "the journey" and "the shore". On the other hand I use the term "ever-transcending". When I say you reach the shore, I mean that today's goal can be achieved. But today's goal is just tomorrow's starting point. A child's goal is to have a dollar. When he gets a dollar he has reached his goal, but he is not satisfied. He wants to get two dollars or ten dollars. So that one dollar which was his original goal becomes the starting point for an ever-growing and expanding goal.
When we start practising spirituality, we feel that if we get an iota of Peace, Light and Bliss, that is enough. But in a few years, we cry for abundant Peace, Light and Bliss in our life. We have reached our goal, but that is only the starting point for a vaster goal because our inner hunger is not satisfied. Eventually we will care for infinite Peace, Light and Bliss, and when it is a matter of Infinity, there is no end.
Question: According to reincarnation, our next life is supposed to be a reflection and extension of this life. Could you please elaborate on this?Sri Chinmoy: Our next life need not be a reflection of the previous life. Suppose somebody has played his role most satisfactorily. Suppose you were a great artist in your previous incarnation and your soul does not want to have that experience again. If your soul wants you to have the experience of being a politician, then your previous experience as an artist may not come to the fore at all. If the soul has not completed its role in a specific field and wants to continue the same process, only then will one life be a reflection of the previous life. Otherwise, the soul may change the characteristics, nature and propensities of the human being totally.
Question: You say that one should have a love for life. Does this encompass all living things, all forms of life?Sri Chinmoy: We shall love all life, but we have to use our wisdom. When I say we should love all life, I mean that inside each life form we should try to see and feel the presence of God. God is playing His Cosmic Game in many different roles. But we have to know that in the field of manifestation, life embodies different levels of divinity. We shall love all life, but we cannot be foolishly undiscriminating. Some forms of life are the embodiment of destruction. With these forms, we have to be careful. I will not go and stand in front of a tiger just because I know that God is inside the tiger. The tiger will kill me. I will not love a snake in a very personal way, or I will soon be transported to the other world. If there is a mad elephant right in front of me, I will not go and touch its feet. When I want to express my devotion, I will go to a spiritual Master or to someone in whom I see the conscious presence of divinity. God is in a tiger, God is in a chair and God is also in a holy man. If we are wise, we will know which one to expect inner enlightenment from.
Question: You spoke about the mind during your talk. How does one go about transforming the mind?Sri Chinmoy: Let us take the mind as a room and let us take the heart as another room. You have two rooms. Right now you are living in the mind room, which is unlit and obscure. The other room, your heart, is fully illumined, because it has free access to the soul, which is all illumination. The heart room, too, you can claim as your very own, only you do not stay there. But if you can live for a few weeks or a few months or a few years in the illumined room, then easily you will be able to transform the unillumined room when you return there. Stay in the heart room for however long it takes you to get abundant light. The other room will not go away; the other room will wait for you to give it illumination. When you feel that you have attained illumination in your heart room, then come to your mind room and flood it with your heart's light. But if you stay with the mind room all the time with the hope of illumining it from within, you will waste your time. If I want to light a candle, I must use a flame that is already burning, already illumined. The heart room, fortunately, is already illumined. So if you go there, you can become fully inundated with light, and with that light you can illumine your mind.
Question: How can a human being function on earth without using the mind?Sri Chinmoy: We must not think that when there is nothing in our mind, we have become a fool or will act like an idiot. This is not true. If you can keep your mind calm and quiet for ten or fifteen minutes, I tell you a new world will dawn within you. This is the root of all spiritual progress. Right now you can make your mind calm and quiet for only a few seconds, or for a minute. But if you can maintain your calmness, poise and tranquillity for half an hour or even for fifteen minutes, I assure you that inside your tranquillity a new world with tremendous divine light and power will grow.
When you do not have any thought in your mind, please do not feel that you are totally lost. On the contrary, feel that something divine is being prepared in your pure and aspiring nature. You cannot expect immediate results. The farmer sows the seed and then he waits; he never expects the crop to spring forth all at once. It takes a few weeks or a few months to germinate. Your mind can be like a fertile field. If you plant the seed of silence and poise and cultivate it patiently, sooner or later you are bound to reap the bumper crop of illumination.
Question: How often should we fast in order to help our spiritual life?Sri Chinmoy: Fasting does not necessarily help us to make spiritual progress. A snake eats only twice a year or so, but the consciousness of a snake is not better than my consciousness or your consciousness, even though we eat every day. But if you want to fast once a month for a full day, or if you want to eat only breakfast and no lunch or dinner on a particular day, it helps in purification. Fasting does help to purify our nature, without doubt. It brings to the fore the subtle purity inside our nature. But everything has a limit. If you go to extremes it will tell upon your health. Once a month is fine. Once a week is all right if you are strong and healthy, and if you feel that it helps you. But if you want to fast every other day, that will absolutely ruin your subtle nerves. Once a week strong people can try, but once a month is enough.
Part IV — Questions and answers: University of Michigan
Question: Do you feel that mankind is making spiritual progress?Sri Chinmoy: Humanity is progressing towards its destined goal. Sometimes we notice clouds of doubt and teeming imperfections, but these things will always be around until we have achieved perfect Perfection. Each individual has left the starting point. Now, one individual may be behind another in the Godward race, but we all are running towards the same goal. Each individual is progressing. This progress may not be noticeable in our outer life. It will become noticeable only when a tremendous amount of light has dawned in our devoted life, our life of surrender to the Will of the Almighty Father. Even though there are calamities, crises, wars and so forth on the outer plane as well as on the inner plane, still we are definitely progressing.
Part V — Questions and answers from the University of Toledo
Question: Is it easy to realise God while living in the world, instead of renouncing the world?Sri Chinmoy: Some spiritual Masters, including myself, are of the opinion that it is not necessary to renounce the world and enter into a life of solitude. We have to face the world and we have to realise the Highest in the world. We do not want to lead the life of an escapist. Who escapes? He who feels that he has done something seriously wrong or he who is afraid. We have not done anything wrong and we have not to be afraid of the world around us. If we are afraid of the world, then we shall be afraid of everything.
Now we see a giant world of imperfection around us. We try to escape it in order to protect ourselves. But I wish to say that a far more formidable enemy than the present-day world is nothing other than our own mind. When we enter into the caves, we cannot escape our mind. We carry that mind with us — a mind which is full of anxiety, jealousy, confusion, doubt, fear and other undivine qualities. This mind of ours forces us to remain in the battlefield of life. If we do not conquer our mind while living in the world, what good will it do us to remove merely our body from this everyday world?
Here in the ordinary world we have to live amongst our friends. But we can easily choose our friends, and we must do so carefully. If we want to be spiritual, then we have to spend most of our time with spiritual people. If we spend most of our time with unaspiring people, then their consciousness will enter into us, and then our God-realisation and inner illumination will remain a far cry. But if we have proper guidance from within, if we know that we are walking along the right path, and if we mix with aspiring people, a day will come when we will be inundated with divinity. Then we will be in a position to reveal our inner wealth, and at that time we will be able to associate with all and sundry, to offer and share our experiences with them without endangering our own spiritual consciousness.
Question: What is the art of surrender?Sri Chinmoy: There are two types of surrender. One type of surrender comes under compulsion. This is the surrender of a slave to his master. He knows that if he does not serve his master, if he is not constantly at his master's beck and call, he will be punished. This surrender is based on fear. But the divine surrender is otherwise. Here we surrender our ignorance, incapacity and imperfection to the Inner Pilot, who is all-Light, all-Illumination, all-Perfection. When we enter into the spiritual life, we come to realise that when we surrender our ignorance, we are just surrendering our lowest reality to our own highest Reality. This surrender is based on love and oneness.
In the ordinary world, the servant is one individual and the master is another. There is a constant sense of separativity. But when we pray and meditate, we discover a kind of divine surrender within us which makes us feel that God and we are essentially one. He is our Eternal Father; He is our most illumined part, our Source, which we are now climbing up to and entering into. So, by surrendering, we do not lose anything; on the contrary, we return to our Source and become what we originally were. The finite consciously and cheerfully enters into the Infinite. Each one of us is now like a tiny drop. When it enters into the ocean, a tiny drop loses its individuality and becomes one with the infinite expanse of the ocean.
Question: In other words, to become one with God is to surrender one's identity?Sri Chinmoy: We don't surrender our identity; we only surrender our limited, earth-bound individuality, the individuality that binds us, that says "I and mine", instead of "we". What we do is develop our conscious identity with God and God's Will, in order to achieve an inseparable oneness with Him. At that time we do not worry about losing our puny human individuality, for we gain God's infinite Vastness in its place.
Question: Is it necessary to meditate in the lotus position?Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the individual. If an individual is a beginner, it is advisable for him to sit in the lotus position or in a similar upright position. I tell my students to try and sit in a comfortable position but to keep their backs straight. When the spinal column is straight, one can breathe properly. So long as we keep our back erect and feel that we can breathe properly, we do not have to go through any austere postures. Certainly, if the lotus position is painful or uncomfortable, you should not use it.
Now, it is not only the physical posture that counts, but how pure we are in our thoughts. No matter how well we do our lotus position, we cannot make any progress in our meditation if our minds roam uncontrollably and we become victims to unpleasant and undivine thoughts. Certainly it does help to some extent if we can sit in the lotus position, but real meditation comes only when we know how to silence the mind and open the heart. When we silence the mind and open the heart, God can enter into us with His Peace, Light and Truth.
Question: How can we use meditation to get rid of pain?Sri Chinmoy: You should try to invoke Light in order to cure pain. Pain is, after all, a kind of darkness within us. When the inner Light or the Light from above starts functioning in the pain itself, then the pain is removed or transformed into joy. Really advanced seekers can actually feel joy in the pain itself. But for that, one has to be very highly advanced. In your case, during your prayer or meditation you should try to bring down Light from Above and feel that the pain is a darkness within you. If you bring down Light, then the pain will either be illumined and transformed or removed from your system.
Question: When we silence the mind, do we get any kind of messages?Sri Chinmoy: When we silence the mind, we come to hear a message both from within and from Above — from our soul and from God. We hear the dictates of the soul when we silence the mind. And again, we feel the constant flow of God's Love when we silence the mind. When we silence the mind, God talks to us and we listen. When we do not silence the mind, we go on talking and talking and talking endlessly, and usually we waste others' precious time as well as our own time. But when God talks, we feel at every moment that He is illumining our entire being.
Question: How do we go about silencing the mind?Sri Chinmoy: There are two ways. One way is to fight it out. The mind is like a monkey. If you are attacked by a monkey, which constantly bites and pinches you, you have to threaten the monkey. Then, each time it comes, if you strike it vehemently, eventually the monkey will feel that it is hopeless to try to bother you. You must always remain as vigilant as possible. When an undivine thought enters into your mind, immediately you will chase it away. If you are constantly vigilant, eventually these thoughts will give up and no longer come to disturb you.
Try to feel that you are standing at your heart's door, and it is up to you to allow anybody in. If you bolt the door from the inside and don't allow anybody in, then how can thoughts come? But what actually happens is that we sometimes cherish our thoughts, not consciously but unconsciously. Then it becomes very difficult for us to terminate the thoughts when we wish to.
The other way to silence the mind is to invoke Peace from Above. No matter how many thoughts enter into your mind, pay no attention to them. Let them come and attack you, for when you invoke Peace from Above, you are like a solid wall that they cannot penetrate. At that time, no thought will dare to strike you.
Part VI — Questions and answers: St. Joseph's College
Question: In one of your poems you wrote, "Above the toil of life, my soul is a bird of fire winging the Infinite." I wish you would explain that to me.Sri Chinmoy: I am very happy that you have read my poem. This poem describes an experience I had when I was fourteen years old. My soul was flying in the sky of Infinity, Eternity and Immortality.
There comes a time in the life of each seeker when he has a new awakening, a higher awakening. At that time, he sees and feels higher Truth in a different way. When our consciousness is awakened to a higher realm of reality, we sense that the things that once seemed impossible or out of reach are not only possible and practicable, but also inevitable.
Right now we are all encaged. Right now, when we think of ourselves, we think of the body. Inside the body are the vital, the mind, the heart and so forth. But the body-consciousness generally dominates us, whereas the soul-reality seems like something foreign and strange. But when we regularly pray and meditate, we feed the aspiring soul. Then one day we smash asunder the tiny cage where we have been trapped for millenia, and once we come out, our body-consciousness disappears. At that time we grow into and become the soul-reality. And the soul-reality is the song of Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. At that time, we become the soul itself. Inside our aspiring heart we see a universal consciousness, and inside that universal consciousness we see our own soul, which is our eternal Reality. It is flying, offering its hidden treasure to those who need it, who want it and who claim it as their very own.
Question: To what extent does your emphasis on the soul flying "above the toil of life" lead to our ignoring the needs of our fellow man?Sri Chinmoy: We have to know that a blind man cannot lead another blind man. One of the two has to be endowed with vision. Now, I am hungry and you are hungry. Suppose I know that there is a tree which has many fruits. If I have the capacity to climb up but, unfortunately, for the time being you do not have the capacity, what shall I do? Both of us are hungry. Just because one of us does not know how to climb, will the other person stop climbing? No! My bounden duty at that time is to climb up, pick a few fruits and then come down and share them with the one who does not know how to climb.
God has granted me this capacity, and it is my duty to utilise it. The world is in suffering and in darkness. True! But if I remain always in the world's darkness, then what do I add? I add only my own ignorance and my own darkness to the world. But if, on the strength of my aspiration, I can enter into the world of light, that does not mean I am not going to help the world. I will come back into the world where my brothers and sisters are still in darkness, and bring them light from the other world.
Question: What is your path?Sri Chinmoy: I walk along the road of love, devotion and surrender. First, I offer my love to God, then I offer my devotion to God and finally I offer my surrender to God. When I offer my love to God I feel that He is the only one whose love I need in order to make progress. When I love Him, I discover that He is none other than my own self, my higher existence, my most illumined existence. Normally, when we love someone, it is a different individuality and personality that we love. But when we love God, we feel that He is our own highest, most illumined Reality.
Since God is our highest and most illumined Reality, it is easy to devote our existence to Him. When we offer our devotion to Him, we feel that He is the only person who can take us to our highest Height.
As an individual, I know how weak, how ignorant, how imperfect I am. I am like a tiny drop. But my aspiration is to become vast, infinite, eternal and immortal. So when I — the tiny drop — enter consciously into the ocean of consciousness, I do not lose my individuality or personality. On the contrary, I claim the infinite expanse as my very own and I grow into that infinite expanse of Peace, Light and Bliss. Here my surrender does not take away anything of my existence or reality. On the contrary, when I surrender my limited consciousness, my finite consciousness, to the Highest, I feel that I enter into my real Reality, which is your Reality and everybody's Reality as well.
Part VII — Questions and answers: Roosevelt University
Question: You said it is good to serve God. But is the only way to serve God to serve the God in other people?Sri Chinmoy: Yes. But only if you pray and meditate will you feel that God is inside everybody, that He is a living Reality. You know that God is everywhere and in everything, true. But if you pray and meditate, then this mental belief becomes a real, living truth to you. At that time you consciously serve each person precisely because you know and feel that God is inside him.
If you do not see the Face of God, of Truth, of Light, then your physical mind will not be convinced of the value of the things that you are doing. Today you will serve someone and tomorrow you will say, "Oh, he is such a fool. He has no aspiration, nothing! Why should I serve him?" If you look at an individual without prayer and meditation, you will separate the man from the soul. But if you pray and meditate, then you will see the soul, the divinity inside that man, and you will try to bring to the fore that person's divinity. Otherwise, it will be impossible to bring to the fore the inner divinity of someone you are serving.
If you don't pray, if you don't meditate, then your work may not be dedicated service. And if it is not dedicated service, then it will not help you to make any spiritual progress. There are many people who work fifteen, sixteen hours a day. But their action is not dedicated service. They are only working mechanically to make money and take care of their outer responsibilities and so forth. But if you wish to really dedicate your life to God and mankind, then prayer and meditation must come first.
Question: You said that time is short. Were you referring to the spiritual life or to the life on earth?Sri Chinmoy: In the spiritual life we are living in eternal Time. But here on earth we stay for only fifty, sixty or seventy years. Some people do not enter into the spiritual life until the age of thirty or forty or even sixty, and some do not enter at all in a given lifetime. So what are they going to accomplish during all those years? The sooner we enter into the spiritual life, the inner life, the better.
Today's goal cannot be tomorrow's goal. Tomorrow we have to have a higher goal. Because we are restless and lack peace of mind or any joy or sense of illumination, today our goal is to have an iota of Peace, Light and Bliss. But when we get that iota we feel that it is not enough for us. We are not acting greedy. It is just that we realise that the promise we have made to God that we shall please Him, that we shall realise Him, that we shall reveal and manifest Him, is not yet fulfilled.
If we are alert, we can avail ourselves of each moment as an opportunity. Otherwise, as time passes, either our ignorance increases or we do not allow the Light to enter into us. On the one hand, we have to know that we cannot bring God's living Presence into our lives by hook or by crook. But at the same time, we should feel an inner urge and intensity to see His Face immediately. Again, if we do not see Him and feel His Presence, we must not be doomed to disappointment. At that time, we shall have to use another type of wisdom, which is called patience. We want to see God because we feel that we need Him badly. But if He does not want to come to us at that particular moment, it is up to Him. Our business is to pray and meditate, and we have to leave the results at His Feet.
Question: How can we eliminate fear?Sri Chinmoy: We can eliminate fear by increasing or expanding our consciousness. Fear comes into existence because we constantly or deliberately isolate ourselves. You are afraid of someone because you have a sense of separateness. You and I are separate individuals. But if you expand your consciousness, you will feel that my nose, my ears, my eyes all belong to you — they are part and parcel of your existence. I know the strength of my fist. If I strike myself with it I will definitely be hurt. But I know that my arm and my hand belong to me. My hand is not going to hurt me. My nose is not going to be attacked by my fist. Why? Because my entire body is one existence, and all its parts know and feel this. So when we expand our consciousness we can feel this same identity, this same oneness with someone whom we now call a stranger. In this way we can easily eliminate fear.
Question: I'd like to know if there is any way that we can still meditate and practise yoga without giving up our own religion?Sri Chinmoy: It is very easy. Yoga is not a religion, and at the same time, it is not at all against religion. Religion is a house. I have to stay in my house; you have to stay in your house. We will not be able to stay in the street. But we have to know that there are quite a few things that we do not get in the house. Yoga we may get somewhere else, but we can easily bring it into our house. Aspiration, prayer, meditation will not conflict with any religion. Yoga is just like a course in school. It is a path that we can all walk along together, regardless of our religion.
Question: What is the experience of God like?Sri Chinmoy: God can be seen, felt and realised as a personal being, most luminous, infinitely more beautiful than a human being. And again, we can experience God as an infinite expanse of Light, Bliss, Power, or any divine quality. Each individual will realise God in both the personal and the impersonal aspect. But if we think of God in His personal aspect first it is easier, because right now we are in the finite. If we can imagine God as a person, then from the form we can go to the formless aspect. But for us to think of something formless, of God as an infinite expanse, would be sheer exercise in mental gymnastics at this point. Reality grows in us most effectively when we go the proper way, from the personal God to the impersonal God.
God has everything. But when you touch the God-tree, you may get the experience of Peace, while somebody else will get the experience of Bliss. So you will say that God is all Peace and he will say that God is all Bliss. But it is the same God, the same Goal. In the process of reaching the Goal we may see it in different ways, but once we really reach it, we can see that it is everything. Then, if we have to describe it, give a definition, we will describe the God-tree in whichever aspect we like best. We can experience everything, but in our expression, our revelation, we will reveal the aspect we like best.
In my conception, God is not somebody other than ourselves, not a separate person. The God that we are referring to is our highest and most illumined part. Right now when we think of ourselves, we think of our body and not of our soul. We identify ourselves all the time with our lowest part. Our being is like a house that belongs to us. We do not use the third floor at all, but spend most of our time in the basement or on the first floor. Since we spend most of our time there, we feel the basement is our real reality. But the third floor is also ours, if we can only find our way there.
Question: How can I improve my morning meditation?Sri Chinmoy: Every morning you have to offer your gratitude to God for having awakened your consciousness while others are still sleeping, and for all His infinite Blessings to you. If you offer just a fragment of your gratitude, you will feel God's Compassion. Then, when you feel God's Compassion, try to offer yourself. Say, "I will try to please You only in Your own Way. So far, I have asked You to please me in my own way, to give me this and that so that I can be happy. But today I am asking for the capacity to please You in Your own Way." If you can say this sincerely, automatically your morning meditation will be strengthened.
Question: Can you suggest a method of meditation?Sri Chinmoy: Everybody has a soul. Your soul may try to express its divinity through Light; somebody else's will express itself through Power. Although each soul has infinite Peace, Light and Bliss, in each incarnation it will express itself in different ways. So each individual has to pray and meditate in his own way. To discover the best way of meditation, go deep within; or, if you have a Master, he will teach you inwardly or outwardly.
There is no common rule that everybody will meditate in a certain way. There are certain things that everybody can benefit by doing, but everybody has his own way of discovering and experiencing the Truth. The Goal is the same, but there are different roads. So everybody cannot do the same type of meditation. There is one type of meditation which will not interfere with anybody's inner path, and that is to silence the mind and open the heart. But again, everybody will have his own way of doing this. If you can silence the mind and open the heart, then you will feel the presence of your heart's eternal Guest, the Supreme.
Part VIII — Questions and answers: University of Wisconsin
Question: My aspiration seems very feeble, and I'm worried it won't get any stronger in the future.Sri Chinmoy: Let us not worry over the future. Let us think of the present. As you sow, so you reap. In the past perhaps you have not sown the proper seed. Let us say your inner cry was not intense in the past and that is why your aspiration is not strong right now. You are not crying for God all the time; you do not have the feeling that without God you cannot exist. You feel that as long as there is the world, as long as you have friends, as long as there is food, you can go on. But when you feel that you can exist without water, without air, without everything, but not without God, at that time you can be certain that you will find fulfilment in the near future or in the future that is growing within you. If you sow a seed now, it will germinate and become a plant and eventually grow into a giant banyan tree. So if we sow the proper seed — that is to say, aspiration — then the aspiration-tree will bear fruit, which we call realisation. But if we do not sow the proper seed inside ourselves, then how can we get the proper fruit? So let us not worry about the future. Let us only do the right thing today, at this moment, here and now. Try to aspire now, today, and let the future take care of itself.
Question: I have a Master in India who told me to meditate on my navel chakra. But I'm not exactly sure how to do this. Could you comment on his advice?Sri Chinmoy: You are in a boat that belongs to somebody. So your Master would be the right person to help you and guide you. If you are following a path, I feel I should not interfere. Your own Master knows infinitely better than I do what is right for you. I can only advise my own students and those who are not following any specific path. When the students of others come to me, I try to encourage them and inspire them to be absolutely faithful to their own Masters. You are asking about your Master's instructions. He who has given you the instructions should also be able to give you the capacity to understand his message. I am the wrong person to advise you in this matter. I know what is in my room and if somebody asks me, I can tell him. But if somebody asks me about somebody else's room, I will be totally ignorant. So I am very glad that you have a Master, and I wish to say that he is absolutely the only person to tell you how to follow his instructions.
Question: How can a seeker come to terms with the consequences of his past mistakes?Sri Chinmoy: The seeker can only try to do the right thing, try to realise God. He himself is imperfect, but he knows there is Somebody who is perfect, and that is God. A real seeker feels that if he goes to God and gets Light, and if he is able to transform his own life, then he will be able to help others whom he has caused to suffer. Just because he was ignorant, he did something wrong. If he wants to make up for his past bad actions, first he must get something higher than or superior to what he had, and that something he can get only from God. So when he gets Peace, Love and Light from God, he can offer it to those whom he has caused to suffer. This is the best thing he can do for them.
Part IX — Questions and answers: Georgia Institute Of Technology
Question: What is the difference between the transcendental Self and the ordinary self?Sri Chinmoy: Considerable. There is a Self that is the transcendental Self — the silent Self. When we go deep within, in our highest, most sublime meditation, we discover this Self. This is the transcendental Self. The self that we use in our day-to-day life, in our earthly reality, is the self of the physical world, of the mental and of the vital world. Each world has a kind of self.
When we speak of the higher Self, the transcendental Self, we are referring to something that deals with Silence — eternal Silence, infinite Silence, immortal Silence. When we live in the world of Silence, we come to know what the transcendental Self is. We come to know that the entire creation came into existence from it. Now we are living in the world of sound. Here we do not see or feel the transcendental Self. It is a stranger to us. But when we realise our highest divinity, the transcendental Self becomes our real friend here on earth in all our multifarious activities. In the life of sound, in the hustle and bustle of our daily activities, that Self will keep Peace for us and offer it to us. We are in motion, in constant movement, but there is Peace inside us, like the peace and tranquillity at the bottom of a rough sea. This Self we gain when we attain constant oneness with Infinity, Eternity and Immortality.
Question: It seems like it will take such a long time to realise this transcendental Self.Sri Chinmoy: The task we have set before us takes a great amount of time. Our goal is to bring down into the earth atmosphere Peace, Light and Bliss in infinite measure, although now we do not have perhaps even an iota of Peace. But we have to know that when God's Hour dawns, everything will come. For a child to become a multi-millionaire is just a dream; now he does not have a penny. But this dream can become a reality when he grows up if he has tremendous determination.
We are all God's children. We are trying to get Peace, Light and Bliss in infinite measure. When we deal with Infinity, naturally we have to pay attention to Eternity also, because Infinity and Eternity go together. We have to be in the presence of Eternal Light. The man may get his million dollars, but when he dies he offers it back to Mother Earth. And when a spiritual child, when a seeker achieves and grows into Peace, Light and Bliss, he also leaves it here for Mother Earth to use when he leaves the body. As a human being leaves his material wealth on earth, so also does a spiritual person leave his spiritual wealth on earth when he departs. But in his case, in addition to leaving his spiritual wealth on earth for the benefit of his spiritual descendants, he also is fully able to enjoy this wealth during his rest in Heaven.
Part X — Questions and answers: Clemson University
Question: You seem to feel that the mind is not that important. What about students, who go to school?Sri Chinmoy: As a student, you certainly have to develop your mind. But we have to know that there are two types of mind. One is the physical mind, which is constantly doubting and subject to undivine thoughts. The physical mind is constantly judging everything and then examining itself to see whether its judgement is true. The physical mind is fond of accumulating information, but information is not going to give us an iota of inner wisdom. This mind does not help us at all in our inner development. But there is also the pure mind, the higher mind, the mind that is far beyond the domain of doubt. That mind is clear; that mind sees the Reality as such and wants to grow into the Reality. The higher mind and the loving heart go together.
The physical mind will bring us information or world-knowledge. Inside this world-knowledge there is not true wisdom, but still we cannot look down upon this knowledge. Only we have to feel that this knowledge must be transcended so we may enter into the higher mind. Right now we do not really know Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. These are vague terms that the physical mind cannot grasp. But if we enter into the higher mind, then we see these things as the real Reality.
Part XI — Questions and answers: University Of North Carolina
Question: You talk about God, but we do not have any concept at all of who God is. Who is God?Sri Chinmoy: God is all Love. God is all Light. God is all Beauty. God is everything: Truth, Peace, Light, Bliss in infinite measure. He is with form; He is without form. If you experience God as Peace, then you will say God is Peace. If you experience God as Light, then you will say God is Light. If you experience God as Love, then you will say God is Love.
Since we are human beings, according to our limited understanding we say God is this or God is that. But God is really everything. If we want to experience Him as an infinite expanse without any form, we can do so. But again, if we want to experience Him intimately as a most illumined being right in front of us, then He becomes that. So He is this, He is that. Again, He transcends everything. To our human mind, he can be either this or that. But when we have our Highest Realisation, we see that God is constantly transcending all our inner and outer conceptions.
Editor's preface to the first editionThe ten lectures in this book are part of a fifty-state lecture tour Sri Chinmoy was invited to give in 1974. The talks in this second series were delivered in January and February of 1974. The questions in this book were put to Sri Chinmoy by students at the universities where he spoke.