Fifty Freedom-Boats to one Golden Shore, part 5

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Part I

Concentration1

Dear seekers, I wish to give a short talk on concentration. In the spiritual life concentration is of paramount importance. Without concentration we cannot make any satisfactory progress. With concentration we can run like a deer. Concentration accelerates our progress towards the Golden Beyond.

Concentration in the physical is attention.
Concentration in the vital is penetration.
Concentration in the mind is observation.
Concentration in the heart is assimilation.
Concentration in the soul is illumination.
Concentration in God is perfection.

Concentration is a seeker's capacity. His capacity is reality, his reality is divinity and his divinity is Immortality.

Concentration is the connecting link between man's aspiration and God's Compassion, between earth's excruciating pangs and Heaven's liberating Smile.

Concentration is at once the power of rejection and the power of acceptance. A seeker, on the strength of his concentration, rejects the superficial body-substance. On the strength of his concentration, the seeker accepts the inner soul-essence. Concentration is the seeker's unfailing companion. It is the seeker's commanding captain and his illumining liberator.

In the morning, when we concentrate on God, we come to realise where God is: God is in the inmost recesses of our hearts. In the afternoon, when we concentrate on God, we come to learn why God exists: He exists precisely for our satisfaction. In the evening, when we concentrate on God, we come to learn who God actually is: God is our unrealised depth; God is our unmanifested height.

Concentration is at once the evolving man's triumphant success and the manifesting God's continuous progress here on earth and there in Heaven.

Man concentrates on God. He fights against his teeming doubts and brooding ignorance; therefore, he is a divine hero-warrior. God concentrates on man. In spite of knowing man's weaknesses, imperfections, limitations and ignorance-night, God concentrates on man with His infinite Love, eternal Compassion and immortal Life; therefore, God is the Supreme Lover.

When we concentrate on the past, the past awakens our sympathy, our concern, our love for our old life. But a seeker of the highest Truth says that the past is dust. He says so precisely because he sees that the past has not given him God-realisation, so he feels that the past is of no avail. But again, the seeker feels that he needs a solid foundation. If the past had something special to offer him and if he still carries that momentous, precious wealth, then that wealth adds to his present capacity.

When this same seeker concentrates on the present, if he has a free access to his heart and soul, then his spiritual journey is safe. But if he still remains most of the time in his mind — his doubting, suspicious mind, his earth-bound physical mind — then this seeker is suspected by the present itself. The present questions his motives for meditating on the present. The present examines his sincerity to see if he really wants to see the face of Reality in the heart of the present.

Finally, the seeker concentrates on the golden future. This future is in the immediacy of today's aspiration and tomorrow's realisation. The future tells the seeker that in today's heart God is his Dream-boat, and in tomorrow's heart God will be his Reality-shore.

Concentration has two brothers: meditation and contemplation. Concentration paves the way for the seeker to walk along the path. This path is sunlit, for concentration does not permit any shadow of doubt, any iota of thought to enter in as we proceed to our transcendental Goal. Meditation makes our mind calm and quiet and empties our heart so that the Inner Pilot can have free access to His Throne. Contemplation tells the seeker to play the cosmic Game together with the Supreme Pilot. Concentration is the first rung on the ladder of highest realisation. Meditation is the second rung on the ladder of highest realisation. Contemplation is the last rung on the ladder of highest, supreme realisation.

Each seeker has a specific way to concentrate. Each seeker has a specific thing to concentrate on. Each seeker has a specific way to offer his concentration-power to the world at large, to aspiring humanity. Each seeker has the power of concentration to give constant, dedicated, devoted and unconditional service to God.


  1. FFB 154. University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, 23 April 1974 — 10:30 pm.

What has life taught me?1

Dear seekers, dear sisters and brothers, I wish to give a short talk on the subject "What has life taught me?" Life has taught me that there are many people on earth who see God in everybody and everything. In God's creation they see nothing but God. Therefore, they exist only for God. Each living breath of theirs they offer to the loving God.

There are some people who live on earth only for others. They are not fully aware of God's existence in others; but they feel that if they can live for others, then their life of selfishness, narrowness and meanness will disappear. They live for others, not because they see God in others, but because they feel that they will derive satisfaction in life only by offering their service to others. Service, dedicated service, is for them satisfaction in its purest form.

Then, there are others who live only for themselves. For them there is no God, there are no other human beings, save and except themselves.

As an individual, I can live for God, I can live for others, I can live for myself. When I live for God, only for God — God the Creator and God the creation — then I feel that I am doing absolutely the right thing. Therefore, I am perfect.

When I live for others, that is to say, when I expand and extend my consciousness, then I feel that I am doing a divine thing that will elevate the consciousness, illumine the minds and fulfil the needs of others. Therefore, I am divine.

But when I live only for myself, to aggrandise my ego and fulfil my teeming desires, and when I ignore my countless imperfections, limitations and bondage, at that time I am nothing short of imperfection, limitation, bondage and death. I feel that I am of myself and for myself. I sing the song of ego, the song of my own self-centred consciousness. Each second, consciously and deliberately I dig my own grave. At that time, divinity and perfection remain a far cry.

There are various places for us to live. We can live in the body, we can live in the vital, we can live in the mind, we can live in the heart, we can live in the soul. When we live in the body, the gross physical body, we enjoy nothing but sleep, inertia, sloth and fun-life's continuous fun. When we live in the physical, a life of pleasure, we feel, is the life of reality for us.

When we live in the vital, the unaspiring vital, we feel that aggression is what we want and need. Unfortunately, what looms large in aggression is destruction, and before we destroy others we see that we are totally destroyed. Before we try to realise what we have actually done, we feel that our days are numbered, as a matter of fact, that we are already dead. The unaspiring vital identifies us with Julius Caesar, who said, Veni, vidi, vici, "I came, I saw, I conquered." But what have we conquered? We have conquered the very things that have to be utilised for God: love, faith, sincerity, humility. These divine things we have conquered in order to lord it over others. Our unaspiring vital conquers others' good qualities and tries to dominate others.

When we live in the mind, the reasoning mind, we feel there is nothing but reason and doubt. We feel that by using the reasoning mind, one day we shall arrive at the truth. But that is impossible. Truth is far beyond the reasoning mind. We feel that if we doubt others and if we doubt the existence of God, that means we are in a position to judge God's creation. But the sincere seeker in us knows that doubt is slow poison. If we doubt others, we gain nothing. If we doubt God, we gain nothing. And the moment we doubt ourselves, which we do quite often, we ruin all our possibilities and destroy the divine potentiality within us.

When we live in the heart, the aspiring heart, we get constant confidence, we feel that we have a Source. This Source is Light infinite, Delight eternal. We can sing with the Indian sages, the seers of the hoary past: Anandadd hy eva khalv imani bhutani jayante … "From Delight we came into existence. In Delight we grow. At the end of our journey's close, into Delight we retire." Because we feel that God the infinite Supreme is our Source, we feel that we also have the opportunity to become the Infinite and to spread the Light of Infinity throughout the length and breadth of the world.

Some are of the opinion that hands are hands, head is head and heart is heart, that they cannot be combined. But I wish to say that this is not true. Since the hands are God's creation, since the head is God's creation, since the heart is God's creation, they have to be combined. With the heart we shall feel God's transcendental Peace and infinite Bliss. With the mind we shall discover the world of the yet-unknown. And with the hands we shall serve what we know and what we can feel. What we know is God's constant message: "Do good; be good." What we can feel is that God is all Love. What we serve is God the Smile. God's Smile we serve here on earth and aspiring humanity accepts this service from us, from the seekers of the infinite, eternal Truth.

Here we are all seekers. In the life of a seeker, quality comes first, without fail; then comes quantity. Quality comes from God; quantity also comes from God. If a seeker has the inner cry and if God comes to him with His descending Light, if Grace comes from Heaven and aspiration comes from earth, when they meet together quality can be multiplied into quantity. Again, quantity can also be transformed into quality.

Here on earth our life is a constant battle; we are always in the battlefield of life. Even unaspiring human beings are constantly struggling for survival. They are trying to satisfy their animal needs and their human needs. When they are struggling, that means they are fighting against something in order to achieve what they need or want. Aspiring seekers also constantly fight. Fight against whom? Against their own nature, against their doubt and fear, against anxiety, worry and imperfection. At the end of their journey they will be crowned with triumphant success.

Life is acceptance and life is rejection. The human in us rejects the divine, but the divine accepts the human. The finite in us is afraid of the Infinite. It feels that if it enters into the ocean of Infinity, then Infinity will devour its existence. It is ready to stand forever on the shore. But the divine in us knows well that life is meant for acceptance. The finite in us has to be accepted and then it has to be transformed into Infinity. If we have an iota of a good thought, an iota of a loving thought, then we have to increase it into Infinity. The divine in us tells us that it is in the finite that we will have to hear the song of Infinity. As we hear the song of Infinity in Eternity, Immortality and Infinity itself, even so we shall have to hear and finally sing the song of Infinity in the finite here on earth.

Life has taught me to go ahead. This is the aspiring life. The moment we have covered one step, we see that our loving Father runs towards us ninety-nine steps. This is an experience that a sincere seeker of the ultimate Truth is bound to have. But if one is not a seeker, then the undivine forces, the hostile forces will tempt him to dine with ignorance. And ignorance means unconscious or conscious destruction.

Life has taught me how to forget, how to forgive and how to unlearn. There are many things that I have to forget. If I don't forget, then my life becomes a sea of excruciating pangs. Again, there are many things that I have to forgive. If I don't forgive, then I feel the load of my whole body right on my head; I feel a heavy load of world-imperfection, which I am part and parcel of. The moment I forgive, I unload the heavy load. Then, I have to unlearn. There are many things the mind has taught me which are fruitless, useless, futile. When I just keep them, not to speak of treasuring them, then I feel that I am extremely heavy and I cannot run the fastest towards the Golden Shore. If I unlearn, I become light. And if I become light, I can run like a deer.

Life has taught me something else most significant: that self-importance must be cast aside. Let me try to think and feel sincerely that I am not at all indispensable. Who is indispensable? God. When I feel that I am not indispensable, at that time out of His infinite bounty God inundates my inner being with Joy, Love and Bliss. If I need Peace, if I need Love, if I need anything worth achieving, then I can have it only when I serve God lovingly, devotedly, unconditionally and with the feeling of humility, with the feeling that I am not at all indispensable. Today God is using me as a seeker. Tomorrow He can utilise somebody else as a seeker of the highest Truth. As long as He uses me as a seeker, I have to seek the highest Truth. As long as He uses me as a servitor, I shall serve mankind. But I am in no way indispensable, either on earth or in Heaven. When I have that kind of realisation, God can utilise me in His own inimitable Way. At that time I become His perfect, chosen instrument, a faithful, devoted, soulful and unconditional instrument of the Absolute Supreme.


  1. FFB 155. University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, 24 April 1974 — 10:00 am.

Humanity's teachers1

Dear seekers of the highest Truth, dear sisters and brothers, just because we are all seekers, we are all sailing in the boat of aspiration. At God's choice Hour we shall reach our destination: the Golden Shore.

Each human being has two teachers — desire and aspiration. Desire tells man to bind the world. It says, "You want joy; you want satisfaction. In order to achieve joy and satisfaction, you must possess the world." But alas, while you are trying to possess and bind the world, you see that the world has already bound you. Man's other teacher is aspiration. Aspiration lovingly and soulfully tells him, "My son, do not bind the world; do not try to attach it to you. Just try to free yourself and liberate the world." How can you liberate the world? You can liberate the world on the strength of the expansion of your own consciousness. When you expand your physical consciousness, vital consciousness, mental consciousness and psychic consciousness, lo and behold, the world within you is expanded and the world outside you is expanded.

The teacher aspiration tells man that when he liberates the world on the strength of his own inner expansion, God offers him His transcendental Smile. God makes him His divine instrument. God makes him His direct representative here on earth.

A human being has two other teachers: doubt and faith. Doubt tells him that there is nothing real enough. It says, "Where is the proof that God exists? It is all mental hallucination; therefore, you should doubt! Doubt God, doubt yourself, doubt all human beings!" While doubting God, while doubting himself, while doubting mankind, the human being becomes one with the physical mind. First the physical mind doubts God and humanity, then it starts doubting its own capacity. If we doubt God, no harm. God does not lose His Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. If we doubt others, they also lose nothing; they maintain their capacity. But when we doubt our own existence, our own capacity, our own possibility, at that moment we dig our own grave.

The teacher faith tells the seeker in each individual, "Have faith in God, have faith in yourself." Now what is this faith? Faith is the inner light that conquers ignorance-night. Faith is the light within us that constantly reminds us of our Source. Our Source is Delight. Thousands of years ago, the Vedic seers of the hoary past offered a sublime message which I would like to share with you: Anandadd hy eva khalv imani bhutani jayante … "From Delight we came into existence. In Delight we grow. At the end of our journey's close, into Delight we retire."

Man has two more teachers: Heaven and earth. Heaven teaches us how to dream the transcendental Dream and earth teaches us how to embody, reveal and manifest the divine Reality. Heaven is the Dream-boat and earth is the Reality-Shore. Our inner cry is the connecting link between Heaven's Dream and earth's Reality. The inner cry is our spontaneous personal effort. Earth offers its excruciating pangs to Heaven and Heaven offers its transcendental Smile to earth. When Heaven's Smile and earth's cry meet, our imperfection becomes perfect Perfection.

We have still two other teachers: love and surrender, love divine and surrender divine. Love tells the seeker, "Love the world because the world is the real reality; the Creator and His creation cannot be separated. If you love the creation, you are loving the Creator, and if you love the Creator, you must love His creation at the same time. Love mankind and love the Inner Pilot inside mankind. When you love man in God, I will show you the Body of God. When you love God in man, I will show you the Face of God." The seeker soulfully listens to the advice of love the teacher offers and sees both the Body and the Face of God. Then surrender comes and says, "I don't want you to be satisfied with what you have already seen. I want you to see something more. I want you to see God's Heart and God's Soul. You have seen the Body and the Face; now you will see the Heart and the Soul. Then you will have seen everything. You can see God's Heart and Soul on the strength of your self-giving, on the strength of your unconditional surrender." The seeker listens to this advice and he sees the Heart and Soul of God. At that time he becomes the Heart of God and he becomes the Soul of God. Then the divine lover and the supreme Beloved are forever united.


  1. FFB 156. University of Arizona, Tempe, Arizona, 24 April 1974 — 4:00 pm.

Realisation1

Dear sisters and brothers, we are all seekers, seekers of the transcendental Truth; therefore, we are sailing in the same boat. In the spiritual life realisation is our first goal, revelation is our second goal and manifestation is our third goal. Today I wish to give a short talk on realisation.

To ordinary human beings, realisation is an ideal and nothing more. To unaspiring human beings, realisation is something useless and harmful. They consider it useless because they can remain on earth without it. They feel it is a mental hallucination. They consider it harmful because it is something strange. Now they are enjoying ignorance and they have become part and parcel of ignorance. They feel their earth-bound consciousness will burst into pieces when the realisation-sun dawns. They are afraid that the realisation-light will expose them. But a sincere seeker, a lover of Truth transcendental, knows that the spiritual life will never expose his imperfections. It will only illumine and perfect him.

Realisation is a slow and steady process: It is like going up a hill. We cannot achieve realisation in the twinkling of an eye. Getting realisation is not like getting instant coffee. We have to pray for realisation every day, every hour, every second. The mind that indulges in relaxation is not meant for realisation. The heart that indulges in vacation is not meant for realisation. Our mind needs vigilance and discipline. Our heart needs regularity and enthusiasm.

Realisation is like a tree. One individual can come right up to the tree and touch the bottom branches. Another can climb part way up the tree. Someone else can climb up to the top of the tree, if his aspiration is most intense. Naturally, the realisation of the person who climbs to the top of the tree surpasses the realisation of the others.

In order to realise God, we need aspiration, the inner mounting cry. This world is governed by two mighty powers: desire and aspiration. Desire-power binds us. Aspiration-power expands us. Desire-power makes us feel that we are of the finite. Aspiration-power makes us feel we are of the Infinite. Our aspiration has to be intense. When we aspire unconditionally and soulfully, we minimise our earthly needs and increase our capacity to receive the infinite Peace and Bliss.

A real seeker every day feels the necessity of aspiration. He feels that his realisation will one day loom large in his aspiration. But his aspiration depends on God's Grace, God's unconditional Grace. This Grace eventually enables the seeker to dive deep within to discover Peace, Light and Bliss in infinite measure. Before realisation the seeker thought that his personal effort was ninety-nine per cent responsible for his achievement and God's Compassion was one per cent responsible. After his realisation he sees that the reverse is true: his personal effort was only one per cent responsible and God's Compassion was ninety-nine per cent responsible. Then he looks around and sees his dear ones, his relatives, his acquaintances still wallowing in the pleasures of ignorance. How is it, he asks himself, that he was chosen? Who made him cry for the inner Light? It was his Inner Pilot. Who wanted him to wake up and run along the sunlit path to realise his eternal Beloved, the Supreme? It was the Supreme Himself. Finally, when he starts assimilating his realisation, in the process of his assimilation he comes to realise in an unmistakable way that even his one per cent personal effort was nothing short of God's Grace. He realises that it was God's boundless Compassion which was fully responsible for his God-realisation.

There are three brothers who help us considerably in our life of aspiration: concentration, meditation and contemplation. It is their help that eventually leads us to God-realisation.

What is concentration? Concentration is our one-pointed attention or focus on a particular subject or object.

What is meditation? Meditation is the act of emptying our inner vessel and filling it with God's Light and Delight.

What is contemplation? Contemplation is the inseparable union of lover and Beloved.

When we concentrate we try to put an end to our thought-waves. When we concentrate we try to minimise our earthly needs and to extinguish the desire-flame in us.

When we meditate we try to grow in silence; we try to become receptive so that the Lord Supreme can place His divine Throne in the inmost recesses of our heart. When we contemplate we try to become one with our Inner Pilot and surrender our tiny "i" to the universal "I".

Concentration tells us, "Run, run towards the Goal!" Meditation tells us, "The Goal is inside you. In perfect silence you will discover your Goal." Contemplation tells us, "Go on, dive deeper, fly higher. You will realise that the Goal is none other than your own highest part, your own most illumined existence."

In our life of aspiration we feel the necessity of devoted service and surrendered oneness: devoted service to the Inner Pilot and surrendered oneness with our Inner Pilot. Our devoted service is not an act of outer compulsion. No! It is an inner urge that compels us to be one with the Inner Pilot and to serve Him soulfully and devotedly.

Right now the Goal is ahead of us. We have to reach the Goal soulfully, devotedly and unconditionally. But our road can be shortened if we have divine love, divine devotion and divine surrender. Our road can be sunlit if we cheerfully offer to God what we have and what we are. What we have is a constant and conscious inner cry. And what we are right now is a sea of ignorance. So if we can give to God what we have and what we are, then our road becomes sunlit and short.

Time is a great factor in our journey to realisation. There are people who say that since God is living in His eternal Time and we are His children, then we can also live in eternal Time. So why do we have to worry about God-realisation? God-realisation can take place in its own time. But if we love God, if we love mankind, then we feel the necessity of devoted, dedicated and unconditional service. If we are not awakened, how can we awaken others? If we are not realised, how can we help others in their realisation? A sincere seeker feels that he can be God's chosen child, His perfect instrument, only after he has realised God. God will grant us realisation, true. But we can expedite His offering, His gift to us. His blessingful gift we can achieve sooner if we sincerely and soulfully aspire. The sooner we achieve God-realisation, the sooner we can prepare ourselves for God-revelation and finally for God-manifestation.

God-realisation is our preparation for God revelation and God-revelation is our preparation for God-manifestation. What is preparation? Preparation is our self-giving and God's Self-giving. Our self-giving is all ignorance, limitation, bondage. God's Self-giving is all Compassion.

A seeker knows and feels that he can live without food, without water, without air, without everything on earth, but he cannot live without God's Compassion. God's Compassion is the seeker's Immortality. When he starts drinking the nectar of this Immortality, then he realises himself. When he realises himself, he feels that in and through him God is manifesting His highest Reality, that God is singing His Song of Eternity and dancing His Dance of Immortality. When a seeker drinks Ambrosia, he feels that Heaven is not somewhere else. Heaven is in his consciousness. We do not have to go to a particular state or country or kingdom called Heaven. No! Heaven, which is perpetual Life, the infinite Life within us, is a state of consciousness. This consciousness an aspiring seeker is bound to attain when he drinks Nectar. And this Nectar he gets on the strength of his self-giving, his unconditional self-giving. Today's self-giving is tomorrow's God-becoming.


  1. FFB 157. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 24 April 1974 — 8:30 pm.

Wisdom-Light1

Dear sisters and brothers, dear seekers of the infinite Truth and Light, I wish to give a short talk on wisdom-light.

Wisdom-light is life-loving. Wisdom-light is self-giving. Wisdom-light is God-becoming.

He who loves life is beautiful. He who gives himself to others is fruitful. He who becomes God — like the Christ, Lord Buddha and Sri Krishna — is complete, perfect and supreme.

Why does one love? One loves because he knows that loving is self-expansion. Why does one give himself to others? He gives himself to others because he knows that in self-giving is the real satisfaction. Why does one want to become God? He wants to become God because he knows that God-becoming is perfect Perfection.

Our heart embodies the message of self-expansion. Our life embodies the message of satisfaction. Our soul embodies the message of perfection. In Heaven the message is the light of Divinity. On earth the message is the night of Eternity. In God the message is the delight of Immortality.

When we pray, Divinity blesses us. When we meditate, Eternity blesses us. When we surrender our earth-bound life to the adamantine Will of the Absolute Supreme, we become the delight of Immortality.

Divinity, Eternity and Immortality. Divinity we already had. Eternity we already have. Immortality we are in the process of becoming.

God's Vision and God's Reality we embody together. Our earthly existence is the transformed Vision of God manifested in living reality. Each vision is a seed of the reality-tree. Each form of reality is the tree which is embodied in the vision-seed. Silence-cry is the soul of the vision-seed. Sound-smile is the body of the reality-tree.

Each human being has a seeker and a lover in the inmost recesses of his heart. The seeker in him wants to reach the Highest, the transcendental Height, and then wants to come down to transform the teeming ignorance of earthly life and make of earth a Kingdom of Heaven. The lover in him wants to spread his universal wings and satisfy the inner hunger of millennia the hunger that can be fulfilled only by God's infinite Love, Compassion and Light.

The seeker in each human being is the collector and the receiver of God's Light. The lover in him is the distributor of God's Light to the world at large.

Wisdom-light is the awareness of God's Presence all-where, the awareness that God is omnipresent. This reality we can be aware of only when we see God within and without. There is an Indian parable about a spiritual teacher who offered a fruit to each of his disciples. He said to them, "Children, go and eat your fruit unseen by anybody at all. You must eat your fruit in complete privacy." Each went and ate his respective fruit except one. That one came back to the Master with his fruit. The Master asked him, "How is it that you have not eaten your fruit?" The disciple answered, "Master, how can I eat? You have asked me to eat the fruit only when there is nobody observing me. But God is all around me, so I have not eaten. If I eat, I will be caught red-handed." The Master was exceedingly pleased with this disciple.

From this parable we learn that a sincere seeker of the transcendental Truth sees and feels God both within and without. There also dawns in him a higher and deeper vision. He comes to realise that he is expected to say and do to the world at large only those things that can be said and done before God. Today's world of imperfection can easily be transformed into a world of perfect Perfection when the seeker in us sees God everywhere.

The motto of the State of Florida is, "In God we trust." For an ordinary seeker this loftiest message may seem redundant, for since we are all lovers of the highest Truth and Light, it goes without saying that we trust in God. But from the spiritual point of view I wish to say that there is a significant hidden truth inside this motto. This freedom-loving country has something significant to offer to the world at large. When we live an ordinary life, we place our trust in ourselves. When we have faith in ourselves, we sing the song of separativity and individuality, the song of "I". At that time the question of "we" never arises. But when we say, "In God we trust," our individuality merges into the sea of universality. On the strength of our inner cry we are trying to grow into God's Universality. When a seeker says, "In God we trust," he feels that his individuality has left him. He has now embraced God's entire creation as his own, very own.

A seeker trusts God and God trusts him. A seeker trusts God in order to reach the highest pinnacle of Light, Truth and Bliss, and God trusts him in order to reveal Himself and manifest Himself on earth. They enjoy a reciprocal need. The seeker needs God for his self-discovery and life-mastery and God needs the seeker for His perfect manifestation and complete satisfaction on earth.


  1. FFB 158. University of Miami, Miami, Florida, 30 September 1974.

Part II — Questions and answers: University of Wyoming

FFB 159-161. University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, 23 April 1974 — 10:30 pm.

Question: In learning to concentrate, what forms of self-discipline do you use? Sometimes it seems that learning self-discipline is selfish.

Sri Chinmoy: Not at all! Self-discipline is not at all selfish. If I do not discipline myself, if I do not pray and meditate, then how am I going to be of any use to the world or to God? If I pray and meditate, it does not mean that I am neglecting humanity. That is wrong. But there are various ways to offer our dedicated service to humanity. When we pray and meditate, we enter into the root of the life-tree. The root of the life-tree is God, and the branches are all the human beings. If we do not water the root, then how are we going to nourish the leaves on the branches? If we do not start at the foot of the tree, how are we going to climb up the tree and reach all the branches? When I pray and meditate, I feel that I am radiating something that I have just received from God: Peace, Light and Bliss. These are the very things that my colleagues, my friends, my relatives, my dear ones desperately need. I am meditating in one corner of the room, but while I am meditating, I am giving inwardly to others what I am receiving from above. If this is not a form of service, then what else is service?

You may think that service is only outer help, but this is not true. Outer help is necessary, but inner help is more important. If somebody is poor, I may give him a dollar because I have money and I am generous. But tomorrow, again he will need money and he will have to go to someone else, and also the day after tomorrow. But if light enters into me during my meditation, then I will be able to inspire him and help him permanently. I will inwardly say to him, "Why are you wallowing in the pleasures of lethargy-ignorance? You are strong. Go and work!" Or God will listen to my prayer and in some way or other He will remove that person's poverty, if it is His Will.

There are many ways to be of service to mankind. The outer way is one way, but the inner way is also most effective. And sometimes, the inner way is more effective than the outer way, for if we help someone in an outer way, again and again he will have the same problem. But if we can go to the core of the problem and help the person who is suffering in an inner way, then his problem will be illumined for good, and he will not have to suffer from it again.

Question: What does it mean to please God in His own Way?

Sri Chinmoy: We love God because we feel that He is all Love. Just because we love God, we feel that it is our bounden duty to devote ourselves to Him and please Him. But we see that our love and service are not enough; surrender is also necessary. If we do not surrender our individual will to His Will, we will make many mistakes when we try to love Him and serve Him in the way He has chosen for us, which is the right way.

I am a spiritual teacher. If a student of mine happened to be here, he might notice that there are no flowers near me. He might think, "The best thing is for me to bring him some flowers." Now, this student wants to please me by bringing me flowers, because he knows that a spiritual Master always appreciates flowers. But suppose I am thirsty, and right now I need water more than I need flowers. If my student tries to please me by bringing me flowers, he will be pleasing me in his own way, because what I actually wanted from him was something else. In God's case also, unless we surrender to God's Will, we will try to please Him in our way. We may think that if we do this, then God will be extremely pleased with us. But how do we know that God wants us to do that thing? He may want something else from us.

In the spiritual life, when we please God in His own Way, unconditionally, then we will feel really satisfied, for in His satisfaction is our satisfaction. Many people try to derive satisfaction from the fulfilment of their desires. But when one desire is fulfilled, another desire looms large. In the fulfilment of desire there is no satisfaction, only constant greed, constant need. But if we enter into the life of aspiration, we want to reach the Highest to fulfil and manifest God. But how can we reach the Highest unless and until the Highest pulls us towards Itself? It is the Compassion-Light of the Supreme that elevates our consciousness and lifts us up. This takes place only when our surrender is complete.

Our surrender to God has to be unconditional. We will give God what we have and what we are, which is ignorance. If we can give our ignorance to God unconditionally and permanently, then God can fulfil Himself in and through us. Unfortunately, one day we want to get rid of our ignorance and the next day, when our aspiration is not strong, we cherish and treasure our ignorance. But if we can totally and unconditionally surrender our ignorance, which is our coveted possession, to God, then it will not come back. At that time, we will get total satisfaction from our life, and we will truly be pleasing God in His own Way.

Question: Do you see any way one could assimilate the way of living you are speaking about into the American culture?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. I have about eight hundred disciples. They are assimilating my thoughts, my ideas, my experiences. They are following our path — the path of love, devotion and surrender — and while walking along this path, they are assimilating what I am offering to them. Our path is the path of acceptance. It is not the path of rejection or renunciation. We accept life as such, and then we try to transform the face of ignorance into the face of light. We do not neglect, we do not negate anything. We accept, but while accepting, we know the limitations of the thing that we are accepting. Again, these limitations we must not take as somebody else's limitations. We take them as our own limitations, as our own shortcomings. Then we pray and meditate. When we pray and meditate, the light descends and, with our inner light, we transform the ignorance that we see within and without.

Part III — Questions and answers: University of Utah

FFB 162-165. University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, 24 April 1974 — 10:00 am.

Question: Sometimes when I talk to others, my mind sees a duality. In the act of trying to see the good in others, I feel a separation. What do you recommend?

Sri Chinmoy: The difficulty is that if you try to see good in others with your mind, you will see good for only one minute. Then the next minute you will try to see bad in them as well. And even when you do see good in others, you will doubt whether you have seen good; you will not know whether what you have seen is really good or bad. You want to see goodness in your friend and you do see it. But the next moment doubt will come and make you say, "Is it really good? Perhaps I am fooling myself."

But if you want to feel goodness in others, then please use your heart. The heart immediately identifies with the consciousness, with the essence of a person or thing. Our philosophy is the philosophy of identification. From identification we enter into oneness, inseparable oneness. First we identify ourselves with the Reality; then we feel that we are constantly, inseparably one with the Reality. In the case of the mind, the mind may see the Reality, but then the mind doubts the Reality.

If you use the mind you may say, "Today's lecturer is a good man." Then you start doubting. Before you leave the church you may say, "No, he is a very bad man." Then, after going a few steps, you may say, "Am I right? Was I right in judging him?" First I am good, then I am bad. But whatever I am, whether I am good or bad, your judgement does not affect me in any way. If I am good, I am good; if I am bad, I am bad. I do not lose anything when you doubt me. But the moment you doubt yourself, you have lost everything. By doubting others and by doubting yourself, you never get any sense of satisfaction. But by becoming one with the thing that you love, you get real satisfaction. Now, if you use your heart and if your heart says I am good, at that time you become one with me. And if you feel that I am a bad man, then immediately you will reject me. Then you will use the capacity of your heart to establish your identification and oneness with someone else.

In our path we always try to give importance to the heart first. Then we give importance to the mind. What has the light? The soul has the light. And where is the soul? The soul is inside the heart. Right now the heart has more light than the mind. This is what we feel and what we know. But the mind will not remain always unlit, obscure. Eventually we have to bring the same light into the mind. Otherwise, the doubting mind, the suspecting mind will never leave us.

Right now let us use the heart-room and remain in the heart-room as much as we can. And once our inner being is surcharged with light, then let us enter into the mind-room. At that time, the mind-room will be illumined. We have to illumine the mind-room, we have to illumine the vital-room, we have to illumine the physical-room. But let us do the first thing first. Let the light descend from above into the heart and from the heart into the mind. Let us not try to reverse the course. If we try to deal first with the mind, then no matter how many hours or how many years we stay in the unlit mind-room, the mind-room is not going to be illumined.

Question: What is the power that brings down God's Presence in all our actions and allows us to feel our oneness with God?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two powers that bring down God into all our actions and multifarious activities. One power is our gratitude-power. Always we have to offer our gratitude to God for everything that we do, for everything that we have become. The other power is the power of seeing God in others. If we don't see God in others, if we only see God in ourselves, then we will not be successful. We have to see divinity inside everybody, even inside our worst enemy. As a matter of fact, a spiritual person should not have any enemies. But suppose we have not yet become totally spiritual and we still say we have an enemy. Now let us say our enemy is doubt, our enemy is fear, our enemy is anxiety, our enemy is bondage. Let us see inside our enemy the Presence of God. Let us go deep within and from there bring out our capacity of identification with God. Let us try to see also in our enemy God's Presence. God's Presence is everywhere. But if we deny His Presence inside a particular thing, then that thing will eventually attack.

Right now God's Presence is not sufficiently operating in the mind, whereas inside the heart it is operating most powerfully. So from where it is operating most powerfully we have to carry it elsewhere. Everyone and everything has a soul. Even a bench has a soul. If we can feel the presence of the soul inside the bench, then we will never feel that we are without God. Now we have to know whose soul is more developed: our soul or the soul of the bench. Since our soul is more developed, we can enter into the consciousness of the bench.

So there are two powers that can keep us always one, inseparably one with God's Reality. One is our constant offering of gratitude. We feel that if He had not given us the capacity of receptivity, then we could not have become what we are now. The other power is the power to see in others the things that we see inside ourselves. If we see and feel that we are God's instrument, then we have to feel that he and she are equally God's instruments. In this way we can feel that God is constantly operating in and through us. Then we remain in the same highest level of consciousness while participating in God's cosmic Game.

You are all most sincere seekers. Nothing gives me greater joy than to be of dedicated service to the sincere seekers. I came into the world to be of dedicated service to mankind. I am God's child and I am serving Him in my capacity. You are also God's children in the cosmic Play. According to his capacity each individual will serve God. My capacity is to be of dedicated service to the sincere seekers who need inspiration. From inspiration one can get aspiration, and aspiration is the harbinger of realisation in our inner life.

Question: Will you accept me as your student?

Sri Chinmoy: May I tell you what our path is, so that you can be more convinced of what you are jumping into. Our path is the path of love, devotion and surrender. We love God, we devote ourselves to God and we surrender our will to God's Will.

This is the approach that we follow in our path. This is the realisation that I have had and am trying to share with my students. We have about fifty Centres all over the world and my students and I are trying to share with the aspiring souls the experience of love divine, devotion divine and surrender divine.

We feel that love, devotion and surrender are the three rungs in our ladder of evolution. We start with divine love. In human love we notice that we try to possess others; but before we possess, we are possessed. There is no sense of satisfaction either in possessing or in being possessed. While we are possessing we are only limiting our capacity; we are binding our reality. But in the divine love we constantly expand our reality. From the finite we try to enter into the infinite. Constant expansion is the message of divine love.

In the ordinary life, if we love someone we spend time with that person and devote ourselves to him. But since we love God, it is to God that we have to devote ourselves, to God alone. We feel that there is nothing on earth which can be as sweet or as fulfilling as devoted service to God in seeking to devote ourselves to God, we come to realise that at times we serve Him according to our own understanding, according to our own light. We feel that if we do this, then God will be pleased with us; if we do that, then God will not be pleased with us. Finally, we come to realise that we know next to nothing about God's operation in and through us. At that time we surrender our will to God's Will. We tell God, "Lord, You guide our will. You manifest Yourself in and through us. We want only to be receptive." So we sing the song of receptivity. Our heart becomes full of receptivity and God offers His Capacity — which is Infinity, Eternity and Immortality — to our devoted, loving receptivity.

This surrender is not forced upon us. A slave surrenders to his master out of compulsion. He is at the beck and call of his master; he is at the very mercy of his master. But in God's case, He does not treat us in that way. He shows us His infinite Compassion. He is eternally kind. It is we who have the hunger for His Nectar, His Ambrosia, and we feel that if we can surrender our will to His Will, then we can accelerate our progress.

We have quite a few things to do on earth. We have not one goal, but three successive goals on earth. Our first goal is to realise God. Our second goal is to reveal Him in our action, in our dedicated service. And our third goal is to manifest Him in our life here on earth. It takes such a long time to reach even our first goal, God-realisation. Therefore, we feel that if there is a sunlit path, a shorter path, we want to walk along it. This sunlit path is the path of the heart. When the heart accepts something or someone, it accepts on the strength of its identification. And this identification eventually is transformed into inseparable oneness. When we become one with our Inner Pilot, His Will is executed in and through us. At that time, we feel real satisfaction. There is no other way of achieving real satisfaction other than by fulfilling Him in His own way. Here on earth and there in Heaven, we exist only for one thing: satisfaction. And our satisfaction comes only from God's satisfaction.

This is our path: love, devotion and surrender. If you wish to follow our path, I will wholeheartedly welcome you to our little spiritual family.

Question: I've found in my search for God that He is all around me and within me. The unity with Him is becoming very understandable. What is puzzling me is the separation. What is the sense of separation?

Sri Chinmoy: If you see and feel Him around you and within you, then how can you have a sense of separation? Inside me is the heart; inside me is the soul. If something is outside my body, then I can have a feeling of separation. But I cannot separate my heart from my body or from myself. Because body and heart are part and parcel of each other and of my life, if I separate the one from the other, then I don't exist at all. If you really feel God within you, then I wish to say that there can be no sense of separation.

What actually happens, let us say, is that this moment you are living in your heart and you feel God's Presence within you and His Presence looms large. But the next moment, perhaps you are living in the physical mind. At that time you doubt your own existence and you doubt the reality that you have just experienced. When you start doubting, the sense of separativity comes into existence. At that time you feel that you are losing something, that you are separated from something. But you don't lose anything. Once you have got something, it is there within you. But if you don't know how to utilise it all the time at your sweet will, then you feel that you have lost it.

When you pray early in the morning, at that time you feel God's Presence within you and around you. Then, when you enter into the hustle and bustle of life, perhaps you forget God's existence. The moment you forget, you feel a sense of separation. But I wish to say that the sense of separation is not actually caused by the absence of God within you. His Presence is there, but ignorance enters into you and veils your consciousness, which a few hours ago early in the morning helped you identify with God and feel your inseparable oneness with Him.

That is why inwardly we try to remain in constant prayer or meditation. Outwardly it is impossible. We have to stay on earth; we have to go to the office, we have to go to school, we have to enter into multifarious activities. But inside our mind, inside our heart, we can do whatever we want. Outwardly we may talk to our friends, and do everything that is necessary in our day-to-day life, but inside we can keep the living Presence of God. Since we have the soul within us, we feel we are divine; since we have the aspiring heart within us, we feel that we are divine. So also, when we go outside and mix with our friends, we have to remember — not out of pride or vanity, but out of sheer necessity — that we are of the Divine and we are for the Divine.

We have to feel not only the divinity in ourselves, but also the divinity in others. For in this way we can feel our oneness with the Supreme in mankind. One way to feel our oneness with others is to feel that we are everything. But then we may come to think that we are superior to everyone, and that will only ruin our purpose. If we feel that only we are divine, that only we possess divinity whereas others possess undivine forces, then immediately there will be a clash. But if we feel, while we are mixing with others, that we are of the Source, then we shall try also to see the Divine in others. If we feel that we are divine and, while talking and mixing with others, if we can see the Divine in them, then our divinity and their divinity will not quarrel or clash. When we feel that we are divine, it is absolutely true. But at the same time we have to feel that others are also divine, equally divine.

Our difficulty is that most of the time we don't have that kind of feeling. While we are praying at home, we see and feel God; God is ours. But the moment we come out of our house and look around at others, we don't try to see God inside them. What we try to see in them is imperfection, something unlike ourselves. After our meditation, we come out of the heart and enter into the mind, or we enter into the vital. Then we try to separate ourselves from others and we see others as undivine. But when we come out into the world, if we can bring with us the divinity that we saw and felt during our meditation at home, and if we try to see the same divinity in others, then there is no feeling of separation. And if we see the same thing in others which we feel inside ourselves, then we shall never miss God's Presence. We shall never lose our feeling of oneness with God.

Part IV — Questions and answers: Loyala University

FFB 166-171. Originally printed Loyala University, venue and date cannot yet be tracked.

Question: Do you believe in the cycle of rebirth?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, I do believe in rebirth, in reincarnation. In the world of aspiration, we know that in one short span of life we cannot realise the Highest, the Absolute. But we also know that God will not allow us to remain unsatisfied. He will give us many opportunities to fulfil ourselves. Whatever we gain in one incarnation, whatever progress we make towards our Goal, will remain inside our soul after we leave the body. Then, after a short rest, our soul will come back with a new body, new vital, new mind to continue our journey and again try to realise and manifest divinity on earth. It is like a candle that goes from one room of the house to another.

Reincarnation is an undeniable fact even within a single life. In one life we see how we can leave the life of desire and be reborn into the life of aspiration. Then comes the life of realisation, then the life of revelation, and then the life of manifestation. So, even in one body we can go through many lives until we have achieved our highest Goal.

Question: When we achieve complete oneness with God, do we still see a polarity between good and evil?

Sri Chinmoy: When we are in a state of oneness with God, we cannot say that this is evil and that is good. When we become one with God, everything is a manifestation of the divine Will. But when we are not one with God, then one second we are with God, in God, and for the next hour we are in ourselves — in our own vital, in our own physical consciousness. Then there will always be both undivine and divine forces within and around us. But when we have the deepest type of meditation — the highest, most sublime meditation — at that time we do not see the polarities of good and evil. For then we are one with the transcendental Reality, and this transcends all human notions of good, evil, divine and undivine.

Question: Would you explain how we can get one-pointedness and stillness of mind when we have chaos in our thoughts.

Sri Chinmoy: In order to get a vacant mind, a calm mind, you have to focus your concentrated power on a particular subject or object. We feel that the heart is the safest spot. So if you can concentrate on your heart, if you can focus all your concentrated power on your heart, then you will be able to enjoy the calmness, the quietude and the tranquility of the mind.

Question: If we are trying to go beyond the mind, is it only possible with Grace or is there something we can do?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know that Grace is something we can never understand and will never understand unless and until we have realised God. Personal effort is also God's Grace. I have told you many, many stories about how seekers think it is all personal effort and later come to realise that it was all God's Grace. As long as we are not aware of God's Grace, His constant Grace, we have to use our personal effort as our own creation, own achievement. The best thing is to feel personal effort as our own achievement and then try to go one step higher or deeper. But if we don't accept it at the very beginning, if we don't make the effort, then we will not enter into any activities at all.

God has been crying for us as individuals to come out of the sea of ignorance. I wish to tell you that God's Grace is responsible for everything, but before we can feel it, it is always advisable to have conscious personal effort. If we don't consciously make a personal effort, then we will never be able to know what God's Grace is. Again, what conscious, personal effort is, we shall know only after we have realised the highest Truth. At that time we shall see that personal effort is nothing but God's hidden Grace. God's hidden Grace is our personal effort.

Question: How can we bring intensity into our meditation without bringing it into the physical at the same time?

Sri Chinmoy: In your case, when you meditate you immediately think of a tug-of-war. There is tremendous tension in your forehead, as if your whole body were seated in firmness. But you have to know that the fastest runner runs the fastest on the strength of his co-ordination. The limbs of the body have to be in perfect co-ordination. If he exerts himself beyond necessity, then he loses his balance and he will slow down on the track. When you are meditating, you have to feel that your entire body is slowly, steadily and unerringly climbing up. But in your case, a portion of your mind and a portion of your vital are greedy. Each wants to reach the Highest, leaving aside the other members of the being. In a family there are five members, but one member feels if he can go all by himself before the rest, then he can eat the most. But it is not like that in the spiritual life. In the spiritual life, when all the members go together, only then does God give you the proper feast. Otherwise, He says, "How did you dare to leave the members of your family on the way?" So when you meditate, try to feel that your whole existence is going up. Each time you breathe in, feel a new member of the family is entering into you and when you breathe out, feel that you are lifting up that new member along with your aspiration. Then there can't be tension. Your tension comes because you neglect parts of your being when you meditate. That is wrong. Don't neglect anything. If you do, they will automatically revolt. You will try to pull them in a tug-of-war, but they outnumber you. Take them with you: then there will be no tension at all.

Question: In meditation, is it more important to aspire upwards or to become receptive?

Sri Chinmoy: It entirely depends on the seeker. When one is going up, one has to feel that it is the intensity of the prayer that is going up. When it goes up, usually it is the hidden prayer of the seeker that is going up. You may be repeating 'Supreme,' 'Supreme,' or something else. No words are necessary, but in a subtle way prayer is going up. This is a subtle form of prayer. Most of the time, it is the prayer aspect hidden in our meditation that takes us up. Meditation, however, is expansion. Meditation receives from above. True, God's Consciousness is everywhere, but when we meditate we feel that God's Consciousness is descending into us; and when we pray, we feel we are climbing up and entering into God's Consciousness. So when we meditate, if we are going up we have to see if there is a subtle prayer inside our meditation. Otherwise, if there is no prayer, we are like a bird spreading his wings. At that time we try to cover the length and breadth of the Universal Consciousness. That is receptivity. Only we have to know what gives us greater joy. If it is climbing, then we will do that, and if it is spreading the wings of our being, we have to try to do that. Both are equally important, but it is a matter of inner joy. If you get more joy in going up, do that; if you get more joy in expanding, then please do that.

Part V — Questions and answers: University of New Mexico

FFB 172-178. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 24 April 1974 — 8:30 pm.

Question: Do you always sleep at night as you did before you reached cosmic consciousness?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. Cosmic consciousness and sleep are two different things. Once one has achieved cosmic consciousness he does not lose his cosmic consciousness even in his sleep. It becomes part and parcel of his own existence. Suppose you have an object in your hand. Even while you are fast asleep you can still keep that object in your hand. Similarly, when you have become one with the cosmic consciousness, with Divinity itself, it is within you. But when one achieves the cosmic consciousness or realises God, he does not have to sleep seven or eight hours every night. One or two hours is more than enough for the realised soul. And this rest he takes because he feels sorry for the body, which every day enters into the battlefield of life. If he has students or disciples, he has to enter into their problems consciously and devotedly. Then, his body-consciousness needs and deserves some rest. If he does not sleep, it will not tell upon his health; but he may feel sorry for the physical body. So he will give the body some rest. Many people sleep out of habit or lethargy. Some people sleep eight hours, ten hours, eleven hours, twelve hours. But we have to know how much sleep the body actually needs, not how much the body demands. I wish to say that more than seven hours is not necessary for any individual. In the beginning, if somebody is weak, if he has some physical ailment, then naturally he will take more sleep. But if his health is sound, then seven hours is more than enough for any seeker to start with. If a sincere seeker sleeps more than seven hours, that means he is making friends with ignorance.

Now, in my case, I take a few hours' rest a night — sometimes two hours, sometimes three hours. But sometimes for many nights in a row I will not sleep — not because of my personal problems, but because of the problems of my disciples. I have to solve their problems before the day dawns. Of course these are also my problems, since I have accepted my spiritual students as my own.

The sleep of a God-realised soul is not like the sleep of ordinary people. When ordinary people are sleeping, at that time they are totally oblivious of the world around them. But when a real spiritual Master sleeps for two hours or so, even then he is inseparably one with the soul and the soul's light. The body takes rest, but his meditation is extremely profound. You may stand in front of him and see him snoring, but afterwards he will be able to tell you where he has been and what he has been doing. He will also be able to tell you what has been happening on the physical plane. Even during his sleep he is one with the soul, he is observing and meditating and bringing down Light for the earth-consciousness and for his dear ones, his spiritual children. In the case of a real spiritual Master who has attained the universal consciousness, his sleep is perfectly conscious.

Question: How does the Master recognise when one of his disciples is reaching a state of higher consciousness?

Sri Chinmoy: The Master's soul will recognise a higher consciousness in the disciples. If the Master does not know who, else will know? If you are a teacher, then you will know from your own knowledge whether the student is doing well or not. If you are a teacher, that means that you have already acquired some knowledge. You will compare your student's knowledge with your own knowledge, and if his knowledge is near yours, then you will know that he is doing extremely well. But if he is nowhere near you, then you will simply say that he is a beginning student.

Question: What do your disciples meditate on?

Sri Chinmoy: My disciples meditate on a picture of me taken in my transcendental consciousness. This picture embodies my highest consciousness.

When I tell my disciples to meditate on my picture, what I actually mean is for them to go deep within and discover the Supreme, who is more active in me than in them. Again, I tell them that when they are concentrating on my picture, they are not concentrating on the physical, not on me as Sri Chinmoy, but on the Supreme in me. The Supreme in me is my Guru, your Guru, everybody's Guru. No human being can be a real Guru. We are all representatives of the Supreme. But the spiritual Master is more conscious of the real Guru, who is the Supreme, than the beginner-seekers.

My disciples feel that I have realised something and that 'something' for them is the highest. They feel that I have achieved something, that I am something. I tell them that I am only the elder brother in the family. In a family the elder brother is supposed to know a little more than the younger brothers. That is why his Father has asked him to bring the younger ones to Him. He shows the younger brothers where their Father is and he brings the younger brothers to the Father. Our Father is the Supreme. Once he shows his younger brothers the Father, then his role is over.

Again, I wish to say that one can concentrate and meditate on anything that inspires him. If a flower inspires someone, then let him concentrate on the flower. If a candle flame inspires him, then let him concentrate on it. If burning incense inspires him, let him then concentrate on it. But just because some individuals are my students, they love me most sincerely and devotedly. If you love me more than a flower, more than a candle, then meditate on me — but not on my personality or my individuality, no! The divinity in me is more than eager to be of service to the divinity in my disciples. So when I tell them to concentrate on my picture, it is not my ego-centred 'I' that is speaking. It is only my loving oneness with them that tells them, "If you love me, then here is the easiest process for you to approach the One who is all Love. Concentrate on the Supreme within me. And when you discover the Supreme within yourself, you can concentrate and meditate there also." My Supreme and my disciples' Supreme are one. Just because they love me, they meditate on me. I have hundreds of pictures. I don't tell them to meditate on pictures in which I am running or jumping or in my ordinary consciousness. I have no right to ask them to concentrate on these pictures. But there are a few significant pictures taken of me in a very high consciousness. And there is a special picture, my transcendental picture, on which my students concentrate. When they do this, I assure them that they are bound to feel Peace, Light, Bliss or whatever divine qualities they need. They have hundreds of experiences while meditating on my transcendental picture.

Question: What is the source of man's suffering?

Sri Chinmoy: If we go deep within, we see that it is the limited 'I', the ego, that suffers; the unlimited 'I' does not suffer. He who wants to bind reality suffers. But he who wants to free and liberate the reality within himself will not suffer.

Again, we have to know that what we call suffering is not at all suffering in God's Eye. It is an experience that He has in and through us. If we do not remain in God's Consciousness, then naturally if we get a headache we will suffer. But if we live in God's Consciousness, then no matter what kind of disease we have, even if it is a fatal disease, we get tremendous joy because we are one with God's Will. In surrender to His Will there is constant joy. But when we are separated from His Will, no matter what we have, the sense of separativity is suffering itself.

Suffering is not only the feeling that something is wrong or that we have lost something or experienced something unpleasant in our life. No! Real suffering lies in our conscious feeling of separation from God. A seeker's suffering is his feeling of separation from God, from Light. If a seeker has surrendered to God's Will and has established oneness with God, then he does not suffer. No matter what happens in his life, he feels that His Beloved is having an experience in and through him.

Question: Is there any difference in your philosophy between a man and a woman?

Sri Chinmoy: No! In my philosophy, man and woman are one. Man and woman are both God's own creation, so there can be no difference. God is manifesting Himself in and through both man and woman. They are like children and God is their divine Father. He offers His children equal Love, equal Concern, equal Compassion, equal Blessings and equal Pride. To my dear ones, to my own men and women disciples, I always give the same opportunity, the same concern. I feel that they are equal; they are one. They are like two eyes. I need both eyes, left and right, if I want to see well. Similarly, if God wants to manifest Himself fully on earth, then He needs the dedicated service and surrendered oneness of both men and women.

Question: Is it necessary to come into contact with an enlightened person in order to realise God?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not necessary or obligatory to have a living Master. But if we have a living Master, it may help us considerably. The first person who realised God did it without the help of any human being. God Himself gave him God-realisation. But if we have a living Master, then we have more confidence in ourselves. We are more convinced.

Suppose we had a Master in a previous life. We have to know whether our previous Master was really great and also we have to know what kind of connection we established with the Master during our past incarnation. Each Master has first-class, second-class, third-class, fourth-class, fifth-class, sixth-class and seventh-class disciples. The first-class disciple naturally has a well established inner connection with his Master. This inner connection remains even after the Master leaves the earth-scene. If the Master is really great and if the disciple's inner oneness with the Master is extremely powerful, then it is more than enough for him. He does not need any other Master in this incarnation. But the situation will be different if he happened to be a seventh class disciple, a very bad student. Let us say he had a Master, but still he used to wallow in the pleasures of ignorance. Did he listen to this Master? Did he practice meditation? No. But he was able to say that he had a very striking spiritual figure as a Master and that gave him a tremendous sense of satisfaction. So if one is a disciple that belongs to this category, I wish to say that if his Master is not in the physical, then for him it is better to have another Master. This Master may be far inferior to the previous Master, but he will be more than enough to inspire and guide this seeker. Suppose my father was an eminent doctor, but now he is in the other world. If I get a headache or a stomach upset, what can my father do? I have to go to another doctor who may be far inferior to my father. He may be just an ordinary doctor. But I go to that doctor to be cured. So everything depends on what kind of disciple one is and how deep his connection is with his Master who has left the body. If he feels his Master's constant and conscious presence, then he does not need any other Master.

Question: Is there a character to be found in the Yoga tradition, such as Christ, who will arise at some time with the purpose of ridding mankind of suffering?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us not think of individuals. If you speak about Jesus, the carpenter's son, then you have to know that he stayed on earth for only thirty-three years. If you take the Christ Consciousness as divine Consciousness, infinite Consciousness, universal Consciousness, eternal Reality, then I wish to say that he is eternal, he is immortal, he is infinite, he is everything. But if you say that the Christ as a person came to save the world, then immediately I will say, "What about Sri Krishna? Didn't he also come? Didn't the Lord Buddha come? Didn't Sri Ramakrishna come?" These are all individual figures who revealed the divine Consciousness. If we deal with the eternal Consciousness in the Christ, then we can say that this same Consciousness is in Sri Krishna, is in all the spiritual giants.

A few hours ago, in Phoenix, someone asked me, "When will Jesus come back?" I said, "Somebody comes back only when he has left. Has the Christ left us that he has to come back?" The Christ has not left us, so how can he come back? The Christ-Consciousness is within us; it is for all humanity. In the physical if we want to see something, if we want to bind the physical reality, then we are totally lost. It is the spirit that is eternal, immortal. Christ-Consciousness is one, inseparably one with God-Consciousness. According to our limited capacity, we say "He has come, she has come to save us." We can say that the Christ was the best instrument or the most perfect instrument of God. We are also instruments of God, imperfect instruments, let us say. Each individual is an instrument of God. But the conscious and liberated souls, the most chosen instruments of God for mankind are the Christ, Sri Krishna, Lord Buddha and the other great spiritual figures.

Is anybody going to come? If you mean a human figure, then the answer is "no". Many have come, many have gone. But if you mean a divine figure, I will say that there is a divine figure already within us, within you, within me, within everybody.

Editor's preface

The five lectures in this book are part of a fifty-state lecture tour Sri Chinmoy was invited to give in 1974. The talks in this fifth series were delivered on 23 and 24 April, and 30 September 1974. The questions in this book were put to Sri Chinmoy by students at the universities where he spoke.

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