Fifty Freedom-Boats to One Golden Shore, part 6

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Part I

True spirituality and inner life1

There are people who say that spirituality is not meant for this world or this outer life. There are people who say that spirituality should be practised only in the evening of one's life — that is to say, after having had all the experiences that the outer world can give, one should enter into the inner life. But these opinions are not true. Spirituality can and should be practised irrespective of place and time. Anybody on earth can practise spiritual life. Spiritual life can never be an artificial life. Spiritual life is something which is natural and spontaneous.

In our outer life we need energy to sustain our life, to fulfil our life. In our spiritual life, our inner life, we need illumination. If we don't have illumination, we shall remain in ignorance. In order to enter into the inner life we must have inspiration. When we have this inspiration, aspiration comes to the fore. When we have aspiration, we can go one step farther to what we call Yoga. Yoga means union with God.

If we accept spiritual life in the true sense of the term, we do not negate the world, we do not renounce the world. We accept the world, we embrace the world, we try to fulfil the world in a divine way, in the way the Supreme wants. We do not see eye to eye with those who say that God is only in Heaven and not elsewhere. God is in Heaven, and God is also on earth. The Creator can never be separated from His creation. This world of ours is His creation. He is here. He abides within all things. In order to fulfil Himself it is here that God has to remain.

We have in this world of ours a true friend, and that friend is the spiritual life. Spiritual life tells us that we have come from the Divine, we live in the Divine and we shall return to the Divine. Within us we have everything. Now we have to reveal what we have within. At the same time we have an enemy, an uncompromising enemy. It is our ignorance. Ignorance tells us that we are nothing and that we will never be able to amount to anything. Ignorance says, “O man, look down and see that you are nothing, you are useless.” But spirituality tells us, “My child, look up, look deep within. You will see that you are everything. You are God’s child, God’s chosen child. To Him you are everything. God dreams. To materialise, to fulfil, to transform God’s Dream into reality you have come into the world.” That is what spirituality tells each individual here on earth the moment he enters sincerely into the inner and deeper life. Spiritual life also teaches us something momentous. It tells us that we need not be bound by the life of frustration, fear and anxiety. It tells us that if it is true that our present life is full of misery, frustration, defeat and limitation, it is equally true that we have an ideal life which is all harmony, all perfection, all fulfilment, all virtue. The inner life most gladly, most cheerfully, most devotedly wants to be the living bridge between our present life and the ideal life, the life that we want to have.

There are two kinds of hope: ordinary earthly hope and spiritual hope. Ordinary earthly hope is nothing but building castles in the air. We do nothing for God, nothing to improve ourselves, we just hope that we shall one day become great, famous, powerful. But the spiritual hope that we can cherish comes from our inner conviction of truth, the truth that abides within us and in which we live. This hope is surcharged with aspiration whether we are consciously aware of it or not. This hope is the harbinger of reality. This hope sees the reality and, while seeing, becomes the reality. This hope also takes us into the realm of faith, the faith that sustains our inner and outer lives. This faith comes to the fore and tells us that the moment we look to God with our eyes of aspiration God looks at us with His Eyes of Compassion. Our aspiration and His Compassion go together. We need His Compassion and He needs our aspiration. We fulfil God and God fulfils us. The moment we fulfil Him we are fulfilled.

There are people on earth who tell us that spirituality is no longer alive, it is long dead. Our forefathers were spiritual and divine. They communed with God. Not we! We are all worse than useless. Those days of spiritual achievement, of spiritual glory are long buried, they say. Now we are in a world of materialism. There is no God and no spiritual life, no inner experience and realisation. Spirituality is dead for good. But let us not subscribe to their proud opinion, for their opinion is utterly baseless. Spirituality can never, never die because spirituality is the necessity of God. It is also the necessity of human beings; but this necessity is more real to God than to humanity because it is God who created this spiritual necessity both for Himself and for humanity. This spirituality can never die, for God never dies. God has created spirituality to unite man with God; therefore, so long as God is on earth or in Heaven or anywhere in His creation, spirituality must exist in order to unite God and man.

Spirituality is the flame of aspiration. We have always to kindle this flame so that it can rise high, higher and highest until finally it reaches the acme of perfection, absolute fulfilment. It is only the spiritual life, the cry of the heart, the surge of the soul, that can fulfil us both in our inner and outer lives. It will be a deplorable mistake if we ever say or feel that the spiritual life will take us away from the life of the material world. On the contrary, it is the spiritual life that will open our eyes to show us how we can cope with the material physical world, how we can have mastery over the physical world, how we can use the material world to help us. Right now we are living in the material world. The material world at every moment is killing us with frustration and disappointment. We want from the material world what the material world cannot give us, and the material world wants something from us which we are unable to give. If we want to be the master of the material world, if we want to say that the material world is ours, not that we belong to the material world, then we have to have perfect control of the material world. How can we have that? Only on the strength of our inner light, inner awakening, inner experiences, inner fulfilment.

If we want only to enjoy the world, we are taking a simply absurd attitude towards life. When we go deep within, one day we will see that in order to have an iota of enjoyment we have to kill our very life. We are trying to enjoy but for this enjoyment we are killing the senses that we need for a divine purpose. If we are wise, then we will enter into the inner life and know what spiritual joy and delight are. Then we will be able to enter into the outer world with the strength of our inner joy. When we enter into the outer world with inner joy, we shall see that the wonder of wonders has been accomplished by us — that the inner life can easily be lived and practised in the outer life. The life of reality, the life of fulfilment, the life of victory, the life of oneness with God which we get in our inner life can easily, effectively, gloriously and divinely come forward in the outer life. That is to say, the outer life should be a perfect manifestation of the inner life.

Let us not divide the two lives, inner and outer. Let us unite them. Let us not make a compromise; it is not a compromise that we seek. Let us try to see the outer life through the inner life. Let us try to fulfil the outer life through the inner life. Then alone, God’s infinite Blessings will shower on us on earth. Then alone we shall not only see, feel and reach God, but finally we shall all become God Himself. So let each of us present here enter into the world of spirituality. Let us breathe in the breath of spirituality, and success is ours, perfection is ours, fulfilment is ours. God in His infinite Bounty, infinite Peace, Bliss, Light and Power is ours, eternally ours.

FFB 179. North Dakota State University; Fargo, North Dakota. October 25, 1974 — 1:00 pm.

Sound-life and silence-life2

Dear seekers, dear sisters and brothers, we are all sailing in our respective boats, but our destination is the same: the Golden Shore. We are all destined to reach our goal: the Goal of goals. I wish to give a talk as part of my devoted, dedicated service to the Divine Being, the Supreme Pilot in all of us. I wish to speak on sound and silence from the spiritual point of view.

In our outer life we notice that sound is quite often destructive; it embodies the message of destruction. In our outer life we also notice a kind of silence which is nothing short of isolation. The sound-life wants to destroy the world around us; this silence-life wants to destroy us. But destruction can never be the answer to our quest for the truth, light and bliss which our inner being needs in abundant measure. Nor is the isolation the answer to our life’s divine needs.

But there is also inner silence and inner sound. Inner silence is God-preparation in us. Inner sound is God-manifestation in and through us.

Outer sound-life is often uncontrollable. Modern technology, modern machinery, modern nuclear weapons sometimes threaten us. Although we have created them, these creations of ours threaten and frighten us; our own creations are beyond our control. This is the outer sound-life. When we are in a position to bring this outer sound-life under our control, we create a new life, a new promise, a new illumination, a new perfection within us. At that time we grow into a new dawn at every second of our life of aspiration.

Silence which advocates isolation can never be our choice divine. Isolation is the result of false renunciation. We try to renounce our friends, our relatives, our dear ones. We try to renounce society. But if we go on renouncing each and every person that we know, finally there will come a time when we will try to renounce ourselves. Today we renounce our parents, tomorrow we shall renounce our own existence. This kind of renunciation is not the answer to the world’s problems or to our individual problems. If we renounce the world, then we can never manifest the divinity within us. Acceptance is the answer, but not the ultimate answer. First we have to accept the world as it is and then we have to transform it. Today’s world of imperfection must be transformed into tomorrow’s world of perfect Perfection. This is our ultimate goal.

In the spiritual life we do have to renounce, but we have to be very careful about what we renounce. We have to renounce our undivine attitudes, our undivine earthly, unaspiring thoughts. And where do these things abide? They abide in our mind. We may enter into the Himalayan caves in the hope of totally forgetting about the outer world, but we carry with us our mind, the mind that unfortunately treasures undivine thoughts or, let us say, the mind that is an unfortunate victim to teeming undivine, unhealthy thoughts. No matter where we go, we cannot escape from the mind. Whether we are at home or elsewhere, the mind has to be transformed. And once the mind is transformed, a major problem in our life is solved.

In order to change or transform the mind, we have to take shelter in the heart. The heart is more than ready to shelter us. The heart has divine light. The heart is not the light, but it has light. Why? Because inside the heart is the living presence of the soul. The quality, the capacity, the beauty, the divinity of the soul permeate the entire body, but there is a specific place where the soul abides, and that is in the heart. So the heart receives more illumination from the soul. Of course, I am speaking of the spiritual heart, the divine heart within us, and not the emotional or physical heart.

The heart identifies. The mind separates. When the mind sings the song of separativity and division, naturally the mind cannot achieve satisfaction. But the heart has the capacity to identify itself with the universal Reality, and it always tries to do so. On the strength of its identification, it achieves satisfaction in boundless measure.

The sound-life and the silence-life prepare us to enter into the world of art. There are two types of art: the outer art and the inner art. The outer art is satisfied when it observes and discovers imperfection in others. The inner art is satisfied only when it sees perfection in others and perfection in itself — perfection within and perfection without.

There is a saying: “art for art’s sake.” But this phrase does not satisfy a God-lover. If we say, “art for God’s sake,” then immediately God comes into the matter. Suppose I draw a chair. I have to know that the capacity, the beauty, the reality, the soul that the drawing embodies will be very limited. But if I try to see God inside the chair and I try to bring to the fore God the Reality from the chair, then there is infinite scope for my own inner experience, inner realisation and God-manifestation in this work of art.

We have to know that life itself is the supreme art. How do we regulate our life-art? We regulate and discover our life-art through prayer and meditation. When we pray, we come to realise that there is someone who is listening to us and who is showering His choicest Blessings upon our devoted head. While He is blessing us, He is descending into our prayer and moulding our lives into His very Image. When we meditate, we realise that God is constantly offering us His divine Message. While we were praying, we were talking and God was listening and doing the needful. Now, when we are meditating, we are just receiving. God is the talker and we are the listener. He is giving us constantly the message of what to do, how to do it, when to do it and why to do it. We are just preparing ourselves so that He can act in and through us in His own inimitable and supreme Way.

The ordinary sound-life is the desire-life. With the desire-life there is always a sense of incompleteness, insufficiency. No matter how much we achieve, there is always something lacking, something missing. But in the silence-life there is always a sense of satisfaction, inner satisfaction. Even if we have only an iota of peace, light and bliss, we feel that we are satisfied. Today we are a tiny drop but we know that this tiny drop has every opportunity and possibility of entering into the mighty ocean and becoming the mighty ocean itself.

The sound-life and the silence-life prepare us for joy, unlimited joy. Unfortunately, the human in us quite often makes a deplorable mistake when it notices joy in others or in us. It comes to the conclusion that this joy is self-indulgence. When we notice that somebody is cheerful and happy, immediately we come to the conclusion that he is indulging himself. But this is totally false. Indulgence and happiness are two different things, like north pole and south pole. Indulgence comes from the undivine part in us. When we indulge in something, we have to know that the undivine in us is cherishing something — the small in us, not the vast, is cherishing something. When we are really happy, we have to know that the divine in us, the infinite in us, is treasuring something and enjoying something.

We enjoy. God enjoys. We enjoy our emotional vital life. God, the supreme Enjoyer, enjoys His Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. Enjoyment in the physical and the vital is the precursor of destruction. But enjoyment in the heart or in the soul is divine, perfect and supreme. Enjoyment in the physical is the pleasure-life. The pleasure-life and the happiness-life are totally different things. In pleasure, what immediately looms large is frustration, and frustration is the harbinger of destruction, whereas happiness is a gradual movement, a gradual progress in us. It is like a river flowing towards its source, the sea, and this source is within us, not without.

In order to enter into the source we have to be satisfied with what we have and what we are, but not in a complacent manner. Dissatisfaction with what we have and what we are does not mean that we are ready for a higher and more fulfilling life. No. If we are satisfied with what we have and, at the same time, if we know that there is a higher goal, a more fulfilling reality, then we can eventually reach our highest destination.

Life’s ladder is right in front of us. It has quite a few rungs. After we step on the first rung, if we have confidence enough, then we can step to a higher rung. In this way we move from joy to greater joy to greatest joy. But if we are dissatisfied with where we are, then there is every possibility that the higher rungs also will not give us satisfaction. We have to know that life’s process is just like progress through school. From kindergarten, we go to primary school, high school, college, university and so forth. At every moment we have to be satisfied with our present course of study, otherwise we will not study well and we will not progress to a higher level. But inside our satisfaction we should always be aiming at a higher goal. Divine satisfaction is not a complacent feeling. If we become complacent, then we are doomed to disappointment, for we will have no higher goal before us. We will not make any progress at all. We must be satisfied with what we have and, at the same time, we must feel that this is not the highest, the ultimate achievement. Today’s goal can never be the ultimate goal. Today’s goal has to be tomorrow’s starting point, and tomorrow’s goal has to be the starting point for the day after tomorrow.

In human life we notice two specific movements. From freedom, we have entered into the world of bondage. And from the world of bondage we are trying to enter into the world of freedom. If we try to live in the inner silence-world, then we feel that we have come into this world from a world of freedom, but that we have misused our freedom in the outer sound-world; therefore, we have been compelled to live in bondage. If we live in the inner sound-world, then we feel that from darkness we are entering into light. The inner sound-life tells us that we are in ignorance but that there is every possibility that we can enter into the world of light and delight and bring it into the earth-plane.

Right now the world of ignorance is our only reality. But when we meditate and light enters into us, we see that we have entered into the realm of darkness for a special purpose. We have to transform everything that is within us into something divine. Each and every part of our being has to be transformed. There is no other reason why we have entered into the world of ignorance. To be perfect in only one part of the being is not sufficient. Perfection must be found on every plane of our consciousness. That is why the light from above must enter into the world.

Service-life is the life of our soul. When we say 'myself, or 'I', we should be referring to the soul and not the body or the body-consciousness. If I know myself as the soul, then I feel that I am the conscious representative of God. Him to manifest, Him to reveal: this is my purpose on earth. If I am of God and for God, then I must dive deep within. I must have a free access to the real reality within myself. When I feel at one with my inner reality, then I see around and within me the world of perfection.

The ultimate goal of the sound-life and the silence life is perfection, and this perfection can be founded only upon self-dedication. The message of self-dedication we give through our constant inner cry. The mounting cry wants to reach the transcendental height of perfect joy, with all its infinite Light and Delight, for earth's transformation and nature's perfection. Here we are all seekers. This is our supreme task.

FFB 180. Northern State College; Aberdeen, South Dakota. October 25, 1974; 8:30 p.m.

Ego and emotion3

Ego is emotion and emotion is ego. Ego and emotion are the obverse and the reverse of the same coin. There are two types of ego. One ego is self-binding, self-centred. The other ego is self-transcending and all-embracing. The self-centred ego has to be transformed into the self-transcending, all-embracing and God-fulfilling ego. This self-transcending ego is the knowledge of oneness, inseparable oneness with the Infinite, the Eternal, the Absolute and the Immortal.

In this world man has two significant possessions: intelligence and emotion. These two possessions govern our day-to-day life. But very often we see that emotion gets the upper hand in our life. We know that even if someone is extremely intelligent, when his emotion comes to the fore, it will devour him. He is compelled to do what his emotion asks him to do.

The human consciousness deals with emotion in its two different aspects. One type of emotion is impure, unlit and obscure. The other is pure, divine and all-fulfilling. The result of impure emotion is fear. But the divine, pure emotion brings us closest to God.

At times emotion is satisfactory and at times it is not. Human emotion binds us; divine emotion frees us. With human emotion we want to remain in the finite and for the finite. With divine emotion we want to remain in the Infinite, for the Absolute.

There are two ways to approach God. One way is through human emotion, through fear. We can feel, “God is omnipotent. If we do things wrong, then He is going to punish us. We had better try to please Him now, since we have committed Himalayan blunders countless times. The best thing is to please Him.” This is the way we approach God through fear. The other way, a far better way, is to feel our oneness with God through divine emotion. At that time we say, “God is Light. I came from Him; I exist on earth only for Him.” Human emotion is based on impurity, obscurity, imperfection, limitation, bondage and death. Divine emotion is founded on purity, real closeness to God, a divine feeling of oneness and the certainty that God-realisation is our birthright.

In our day-to-day life we express emotion through devotion. We are devoted to some cause or to someone or to something. When we offer our emotion in the form of devotion to ordinary human beings, it is all attachment. But when we offer our emotion in the form of devotion to God or to our spiritual Master who has realised God, then this is pure divine devotion. At that time we feel our oneness with the highest Reality.

In our daily life we express emotion, or ego, to each individual in a different way. We offer our emotion to our father in one way, to our sister in another way, to our friend in a totally different way. We offer our emotion according to our capacity and others receive our emotion according to their receptivity. Each individual has to offer emotion. To others it may be immaterial whether they receive our emotion or not. What is the human father? He is an individual. What is the human mother? She is an individual. What is the human brother? He is an individual. We have to express our emotion to an individual in a particular way. But when we deal with God it is totally different. God is our father, mother, sister, brother, friend; He is everything. All relationships we can have with God. With Him there is no bondage. When we deal with God, we can offer Him our divine emotion, pure emotion. Again, if we offer Him our impure, limited emotion, God accepts it. He illumines our limited, earthbound, unlit, obscure, impure emotion and transforms it into divine, pure, illumined emotion.

To make the most significant progress we should approach God through purity, sincerity, humility and the feeling of inner oneness. The other approach, through fear, very often leads to frustration, for at every moment we have an inner feeling that we are going to make more mistakes, more blunders. Then we hesitate to approach God at all. And when we do make a mistake, we ask God to forgive us. Then, the moment we feel that God has forgiven us we get a sense of relief, we relax, and again we make mistakes. In the human life we are constantly making mistakes, and we are constantly afraid that God is going to punish us. But God does not want to punish us. Just because you have done something wrong, God need not necessarily punish you. No, He will see how sincerely you want the inner life, the spiritual life, and how fast you want to run towards your Goal.

God is at once our father and our mother, our divine father and our divine mother. In the West, God the Father is prominent, while in the East, in India especially, God the Mother comes first. Jesus the Son of God always used the term “Father”. He said, “I and my Father are One.” Here in the West, the Father comes first. But God is our mother as well. In India the feeling for God the Mother is very strong. For the great spiritual Master Sri Ramakrishna, God was Mother Kali. And when India’s first Avatar, or direct descendent of God, Sri Ramachandra, had to fight the great antidivine force, he invoked Durga, the Mother Divine. Most of the spiritual Masters of India have invoked God the Mother, while in the West we invoke God the Father. Both East and West are perfectly right. When we realise God the Father, we are bound to see God the Mother within Him. When we realise God the Mother, we will unmistakably see God the Father within Her.

We want to realise God the Father and God the Mother. How can we do this? There are two significant ways. One way is through prayer, soulful prayer, inner prayer, constant prayer. The other way is through determined will, adamantine will. In the East we use will-power, but before will-power we use something else. We feel that we get will-power from concentration and meditation. We concentrate, meditate and contemplate to attain will-power.

Prayer is of paramount importance in the West, and prayer does lead us to God. But while we pray we have to be extremely careful. Very often we do not offer soulful prayer to God. There is a tendency towards conscious desire in our prayer. When we pray with folded hands we often say, “God, please give me this, please do this.” There is a feeling of desire in our prayer. Now, when we desire something we have to know that we are acting like a beggar. On the one hand we say that we are God’s son, God’s child, and on the other hand we are begging like an orphan. This is why it often happens that in the West we do not offer soulful prayer to God with a feeling of oneness. What we do is beg from God. This act of begging takes us away from our dearest, sweetest Father. But if we can pray soulfully, unconditionally, unreservedly, then we will definitely realise the Highest, the Absolute.

As I said before, from concentration, meditation and contemplation we derive divine will-power. Will-power makes us like a prince, whereas prayer, when it is not soulful, makes us like a beggar. Of course, if we use will-power in the wrong way, then we will act like a mad elephant. In that case there will not be divine dynamism in our will-power; it will be all aggression. But when we use will-power properly, divinely, then we will act like a divine prince. A divine prince knows that the divinity, the real reality within him is at his command. He also feels that his inner divinity is eager to meet him and come to his aid. On the strength of his aspiration he is eagerly entering deep within, and his inner divinity is constantly trying to come to the fore. This is what happens when we exercise our divine will-power.

Will-power also has the capacity to make us feel that God has already given us abundant inspiration and aspiration to realise Him. He will come and stand right in front of us, provided we accept Him in His own Way. But when we pray we tend to seek God in our own way, the way that suits us. We say, “God, I need You, I need You. Early in the morning I shall pray to You. Please come and stand before me.” But with divine will-power we won’t do that. The divine will-power says, “I am exercising my inner will to bring my divinity to the fore. Here my role ends. My divinity has to come in its own way, at its own choice hour.” Here there is no begging. Here we say, “I am offering my capacity, my light, let the divinity within me fulfil itself in its own way.

When we approach God the Father, we feel His Wisdom, His inner Light, His Vastness. When we approach God the Mother, we feel infinite Love, infinite Compassion, infinite Concern. It is not that God the Father does not have Compassion. He also has it. But God expresses Love, Compassion and Concern through the feminine form more than through the masculine form. In the masculine form He offers Wisdom, Light, Vastness. Each of these divine qualities — Love, Compassion, Concern, Vastness, Light and Wisdom — is of paramount importance in the life of each aspiring soul. When we feel in the inmost recesses of our heart God’s Love, Concern and Compassion and His Wisdom, Light and Vastness, we know that today’s unfulfilled man will soon turn into tomorrow’s realised, fulfilled and manifested God.

FFB 181. University of Minnesota; Minneapolis, Minnesota. October 26, 1974.

Yoga and spirituality4

Dear sisters and brothers, dear seekers, I wish to give a short talk on spirituality. But before I give the talk, with your soul's permission I wish to say something.

At the beginning of the year I had the wish, or you can say desire, to be of dedicated service to all the states and give a talk in each state. In this way, my disciples and I found that we could be of service to aspiring humanity. This evening in Hawaii I am giving my forty-ninth talk. Tomorrow, my final talk will be in Alaska, and then the journey will be over. If we live in the physical consciousness, we will say that this is a self-imposed task. If we live in the soul, we know that it is a God-ordained task.

I have come here to be of service to the seekers of the highest Truth. There are many seekers here. Some are beginners, others have started walking, others are a little advanced and running along the spiritual path. Spirituality is a vast field. You can regard spirituality as a body. Inside the body is the heart. Yoga is the heart of the spiritual body.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word. It means union with God. This union is a conscious union. We are all united with God but we are not aware of it. When we practise Yoga, we become conscious of our union with God.

Why practise Yoga? There are millions and billions of people who are not practising Yoga. We want to practise Yoga in order to be satisfied. If we are sincere to ourselves, we know that we have everything except satisfaction. Some seekers feel that everything in life has meaning only when God comes first. They feel that God is the root. When they become one with the root, the source, then everything has meaning and everything is satisfaction. The practice of Yoga can lead us to this goal.

When we enter into the field of Yoga, a few significant questions arise. Is Yoga something normal? Is Yoga something natural? Is Yoga something practical? Is Yoga something attainable? Yoga deals with God. What can be more natural and normal than dealing with God, our very creator? Yoga is something practical. Yoga is inevitable, for God will not allow any human being to remain unrealised forever.

We are all seekers. Some of us are at the foot of the tree, some of us are climbing, some have already reached a great height. But we all have to climb up to the Highest, and from there we can bring down the fruit to the world at large. If we eat and do not offer the fruit to others, then God will not be satisfied. Some seekers want God only for themselves, but this is not the highest attitude. After we have realised God, we have to do something more. We have to reveal God to the world at large. Then God wants us to do something even more significant. He wants us to manifest Him. God-realisation, God-revelation and God-manifestation: these are the three goals that each seeker must eventually reach. Today God-realisation, tomorrow God-revelation, the day after tomorrow God-manifestation.

Again, God-realisation has no end, God-revelation has no end, God-manifestation has no end. We are aspiring to realise the highest Absolute, but the Absolute can never be bound by anything. The Absolute Supreme is always transcending His own highest transcendental Height. When we go deep within, we see that He is not satisfied with His transcendental Height. It is in self-transcendence only that He gets real satisfaction. In our case also, it is in self-transcendence that we will achieve satisfaction.

Yoga is a subject, an inner subject, This subject has to be taught and loved. In this subject, an inner cry is of paramount importance. With our outer cry we try to possess earthly material objects. With our inner cry we try to transcend the earth-bound consciousness and enter into the Heaven-free consciousness.

Yoga is a subject that has to be studied. When we study, there is a student and a teacher. There are many sincere seekers who are reluctant to have a teacher. They say that God is inside the heart, so it is not necessary to have a teacher. The Master says, "True, God is inside you. He is inside everything. God is also inside the books that you can read in the library. Why, then, do you go to the university and study under the guidance of a teacher? You study with the help of a teacher because you feel that when you study with him you will learn faster and you will be sure that what you learn is correct, whereas if you study alone, you will go slowly and doubt may assail you and make you think that you are not learning the right thing.

In the spiritual life also, a teacher is necessary. The spiritual teacher is not like an ordinary teacher who gives examinations and passes or fails the student. Rather, he is like a private tutor. The spiritual teacher expedites our journey and increases our thirst for Truth, Light and Bliss. In the spiritual life, the teacher and the student have a relationship founded upon mutual faith and trust. The student feels that the teacher has the capacity to illumine him. The teacher feels that the student is sincere and aspiring.

No human being can be the real Master. The real Master, the real spiritual teacher, the real Guru is not a human being at all. The real Guru is the Absolute Supreme. The human being who is a spiritual teacher is like the elder member of the family. The Father has taught the eldest son a few things about inner height and inner power. The Father has told the eldest son, “I have taught you. Now it is your duty to be of service to Me, to help your younger brothers come to Me so that I can also share with them My infinite Wisdom and Light.” The eldest son listens to the dictates of the Father and takes the younger brothers who are meant to listen to him to their common Father, the real Guru, who is God Himself.

There are sincere teachers and false teachers, just as there are real coins and false coins. How can we recognise a false teacher? If a teacher says he will give God-realisation or a spiritual experience in the twinkling of an eye, then rest assured that he is a false teacher. The teacher who says that he will give you God-realisation if you give him a large amount of money is a false teacher.

Creator and creation. We are fond of the creation but not of the Creator. But inside the creation is the Creator. Again, if we are afraid of the creation and run towards the Creator, that is also a mistake. If we feel that the creation does not have anything to offer, we are making a mistake. Real Yoga will never ask us to renounce the world. We have to accept, transform and divinise the world and bring perfect Perfection onto this earth.

The world has everything except peace of mind. We get peace of mind when we feel that the world can go on without us, but that we cannot go on without the world. We have to know that we are not indispensable; only God is indispensable. When we come to this realisation, only then can we have peace of mind. When we have peace of mind, we love humanity, we expand and spread our wings. When we love humanity, we are satisfied because we have satisfied God.

Dear seekers, let us try to bring down the Highest and become the Highest. What we have seen is God’s Light; what we have felt is God’s Love. Now, let us grow into God-Delight.

FFB 182. University of Honolulu; Honolulu, Hawaii. October 28, 1974; 4:00 p.m.

Belief and faith5

Dear seekers, dear sisters and brothers, with your soul's permission, I wish to say a few words before I give my talk. At the beginning of this year it was the fervent wish of myself and my students to be of dedicated, soulful service to seekers all over the country. In each state we decided to give a talk and offer our dedicated service. Today marks the end of this series. Today, I shall be offering my last talk.

I am most grateful to Mr and Mrs Addison, who have been extremely kind and hospitable to me. Their son, John Addison, is a devoted, energetic and dynamic student of mine. Here his parents have offered a similar kind of service to the Supreme in me and for that, to both Mr and Mrs Addison, I offer my heart's deepest gratitude. I also offer my loving joy to all the seekers who are present here this evening.

I wish to give a talk on belief and faith from the spiritual point of view. Belief and faith: these are of paramount importance in our spiritual life. They play a significant role in our ordinary life as well.

Belief is usually in the mind, whereas faith is in the heart. Belief, unfortunately, has doubt as its immediate neighbour. What is doubt? Doubt is nothing short of poison. In the spiritual life, when doubt enters into our mind, we can make no progress. Even in the ordinary life when we doubt someone, in no way do we gain anything from our doubt. Today we doubt someone, tomorrow we try to cultivate some faith in that person, and the day after tomorrow we doubt our own capacity to make any judgement. When we doubt someone, we may not lose our faith all at once. But when we doubt ourselves, that marks the end of our inner progress. Doubt is a dangerous road that leads to destruction.

Faith has conviction as its immediate neighbour. We can be very happy and very cheerful when faith abides in our heart. What is conviction? Conviction is the precursor of God-discovery and Self-discovery. Self-discovery and God-discovery are one and the same. When we discover ourselves, we come to know that God-realisation was always our birthright, but we had forgotten to exercise that birthright.

Belief does not discriminate. Very often mental belief accepts both good and bad, divine and undivine, the fleeting and the eternal, the finite and the infinite, the mortal and the immortal. But we have to be very careful when we are dealing with something finite and transitory, something undivine and hostile, for we may be totally ruined when we play with the undivine forces that are within us or outside us.

Faith is very careful. It always discriminates. It accepts only the real, the divine, the eternal, the infinite, the immortal. If we accept the real in us and not the unreal, then we grow into the transcendental Reality. If we accept Infinity and Immortality, then naturally in the course of time, in the process of our evolution, we will grow into Infinity and Immortality. If we accept the divine in us, then we will eventually grow into divinity.

Human belief has two good friends: imagination and inspiration. Very often we are told that imagination is sheer mental hallucination, but this is absolutely absurd. Imagination is the harbinger of realisation. If there is no imagination, there can be no creation. All the great discoveries of science were founded on the inner, illumined imagination. What we call imagination today, tomorrow will become realisation. Inspiration is always significant, both in the ordinary life and in the spiritual life. When we are inspired, we enter into the field of creativity. If our goal is a far cry, on the strength of our inspiration we can cover half the distance almost sooner than at once.

Belief has rational values. Faith has constructive and creative values. When we cultivate our inner faith we see that the Inner Pilot is experiencing His own Silence-Height in and through His earth-sound. What He was in silence is being manifested in sound as a divinising and immortalising force on earth. The supreme Artist is the Inner Pilot. When we have constructive and creative values, life itself becomes a supreme art.

Belief, in the human mind, quite often has to convince itself. Also, it dares to convince others, even though very often it is wanting in conviction itself. Belief can be shattered by the buffets of life, but it can be strengthened when opportunity continuously knocks at our mind’s door. But faith is always conviction itself. In faith there looms large man’s inseparable oneness with the universal Consciousness, with the transcendental Height.

Faith is always giving and becoming. Faith is self-giving and faith is God-becoming. Faith has the inner, indomitable strength to transcend its own height of light and delight and enter into the ocean of infinite Light and Delight. Belief is just a tiny drop in the ocean of Consciousness, while faith is the ocean itself.

From the spiritual point of view, in the inner or psychic plane, belief and faith have two distinct and different roles. Belief tries to free us from the earth-bound time. Time is binding us; therefore, we wallow in the meshes of ignorance and treasure consciously or unconsciously our existence there. But when belief looms large and comes to the fore we try to go far beyond the domains of earth-bound time. Then, when faith starts playing its role, we see that Heaven-free time, eternal Time, becomes our friend and encourages and inspires us to live in the everlasting Reality of universal Truth and transcendental Bliss.

Belief has; faith is. Belief has God-vision, God the cosmic Vision. Faith is God-reality, God the transcendental Reality. Belief and faith are like the obverse and the reverse of the same coin. They are like complementary souls. Belief carries us to the highest realm of consciousness. Faith brings us down from the highest transcendental Consciousness so that we can distribute Peace, Light and Bliss to the world at large.

In order to cultivate belief and faith in ourselves, we need two intimate and constant friends. These friends are prayer and meditation. Prayer helps us realise the highest Height. In prayer we climb high, higher, highest and see the Face of God. We cry and He listens to our fervent cry, our inmost cry. When we meditate, the Supreme Lord, our Eternal Beloved, comes down and dictates to us what to do, how to transform our nature, how to immortalise our life and how to derive satisfaction from our day-to-day, multifarious activities. If we listen to God’s dictates, we feel that our life on earth is not a tissue of unrealities, but that a supreme Reality is operating in and through us. We feel that we are the chosen instruments of God. He utilises us in His inimitable, supreme Way. We consciously take part in His cosmic Journey. Him to embody, Him to reveal, Him to manifest, we come to earth again and again. This realisation dawns in our devoted heads and surrendered hearts when we give due value to our ever-mounting belief and to our ever-descending and all-illumining faith.

FFB 183. Alaska Methodist University; Anchorage, Alaska. October 29, 1974; 7:00 p.m.

Part II — Questions and answers:

184-189. Northern State College, South Dakota.

Question: Sri Chinmoy, what do you consider to be the greatest obstacle on the spiritual path?

Sri Chinmoy: The greatest obstacle on the spiritual path is doubt, self-doubt. There is no obstacle as dangerous as doubt. If you doubt God, that is one thing. There is no harm in it in the sense that God will not lose any of His infinite capacities because of your doubt. But if you start doubting yourself, then you are totally lost. All your inner capacities will be washed away in the torrent of your self-doubt.

You should not doubt God and you should not doubt yourself. But if you have to doubt one of the two, then the best thing is to doubt God. Each moment you use the words 'I' and 'mine'. Although you claim that you doubt yourself, at the same time you say, "I am eating, I am breathing, my friend, my house." Here is the proof of your own existence. God's existence you do not see and you cannot prove right now. But your own existence you can prove because you are experiencing it. If you use the terms 'I', 'mine' and 'my' and then say that you don't exist, people will laugh at you. You will be caught; you will not be able to doubt your existence. But God's existence you can doubt if you want to, because He is not standing right in front of you; you do not see Him or consciously feel Him. In season and out of season, you can doubt Him.

Now, you may have absolute faith in God's existence, but you may doubt God's Compassion. You may say, "Is God so compassionate? I have done so many things wrong in my life. Will He give me His Knowledge-Light? Why should He show me His unconditional Compassion?" This is another kind of doubt. Right now you do not disbelieve God's existence or your own existence, but you doubt God's Compassion and God's Concern for you. Once upon a time you were a soul in the soul's world. Who brought your soul into this world? It was God who did it. Before you were consciously aware of spirituality, divinity and reality, God gave you life. God gave you the message of divinity. Already you can see how much God has given you for which you have never asked consciously. It has all come to you through your soul. And who created your soul? God. Who offered it to you? God. Who is going to fulfil you through your soul? Again, it is God. So you can easily stop doubting God's Concern.

Then you may feel that with your own capacity you cannot realise God. This is still another kind of doubt. But if somebody else has realised God, why should you not be able to do the same? God, the same God that exists in him, also exists in you, only you are not aspiring enough to see Him. All souls have come from God, not from anywhere else. So if one person has realised God through the aspiration of his soul, anyone can do it. You can also realise God. Your doubt is baseless. You have to feel only that your aspiration is not yet as intense as the other person's aspiration was. Finally you have to feel that God can never be fulfilled until you have realised Him. God's existence needs fulfilment in and through you. He will never be totally fulfilled as long as you remain unrealised. If your friend has realised God but you still remain unrealised, then rest assured that God remains unfulfilled. He will be fulfilled only on the day when all human beings have realised Him.

God's business is to fulfil Himself and manifest Himself on earth. If you consciously aspire, then it becomes easier for Him to fulfil and manifest Himself. You can rest assured that God needs your conscious co-operation for His fulfilment. If you offer Him your sincerity and your aspiration, and take one step towards Him, He will take ninety-nine steps towards you. You give what you can, and God will give you not only what He has but also what He is. What He has is infinite Concern and what He is is infinite Light.

So the worst obstacle in the spiritual life is doubt. If you can conquer all doubt, then you will be much closer to God-realisation. There are many other obstacles, of course, but these obstacles are not as dangerous as doubt. Doubt is a slow poison. If we cherish doubt every day, this slow poison will gradually kill us. We must throw doubt from our inner life and from our entire existence.

Question: There are so many spiritual paths and so many spiritual teachers. How does one figure out which is the right one?

Sri Chinmoy: It is a matter of one's inner feeling and inner affinity. In our outer life there are many schools, but an individual goes to only one school. Here in Minnesota and the neighbouring states there are hundreds of universities. But some people who live here go to New York to study, and vice versa. Why does someone prefer a New York university to a Minnesota university? For some reason he likes it better. There are various schools and various teachers, but an individual is bound to like one particular university better than another. He has read about that university, or he has an inner feeling that it is better. The choice is up to him.

In the inner life there is an easy way, a convincing way, to know who your Master is. Just take a piece of paper and write down the names of the spiritual Masters whom you have seen or whom you have read about or merely heard of. They may be here in America or somewhere else. As you write down the name of a particular Master, repeat his name aloud seven times most soulfully, placing your right palm on your heart. Try to feel the vibration you get from him. Now you become the teacher yourself. If you feel no vibration, give him zero. Repeat this procedure, giving a grade for each Master. If you get some vibration, give him the mark you feel he deserves.

You are the judge. It is you who are going to offer your life to someone, and you cannot be a fool. When you are going to dedicate your whole life to someone, you do not want to become that Master's disciple just because some person you know has accepted him as his Master, or just because he has thousands of disciples. On the other hand, if a Master has only a few disciples, you should not go to him solely for that reason either. It is all God's play. God has given to some Masters thousands and thousands of disciples, and to others He has given very few. God tells one Master that he has to be very selective, and God tells another Master to accept anyone who comes to him.

God has given you the opportunity to make a selection. Continue to write down the names of the Masters and repeat their names out loud. If you get an intense vibration and a real inner thrill, a feeling of ecstasy from one name, then give that Master 80 or 90 or even more. But if you get only a good vibration and not an inner thrill, then give him 40 or 50. If none of the Masters you know of is meant to be your Master, then you will not get that inner thrill from any of them. Perhaps you are not yet familiar with your Master's name. But in India we say, "When the disciple is ready, the Master is bound to come." If you are really ready for a Master, then I wish to say that your Master is available. He may be in the farthest corner of the globe, in India or somewhere else. But you are bound to find him.

If you accept a Master, his path becomes yours. You cannot be in two boats at once. If you keep one foot in one boat and the other foot in another boat, you are going to break your legs. Each Master is right in his own way. Each boatman will take you to the destined Goal. You have to know that the Goal is the same, but the roads may not and cannot be of the same length. There are many roads that lead to Rome, but you will see that one particular road will lead you there sooner than the others. In the spiritual life, that road, that path, is the path of Love. The road of knowledge, wisdom and intellect will lead you to your Goal, undoubtedly, but it will be a long, slow process.

Now I beg to be excused. I answered your question and then entered into other details. To come back to your question, I wish to say that the very name of your spiritual Master will immediately give you boundless joy. I have quite a few disciples who just heard my name on the phone or somewhere else and then came to me. God knows what their needs are and sends them to the right Master if they are sincere in their inner cry. The name of the person who is going to be your Master will give you a divine vibration, an inner thrill, because you will have a strong inner affinity for him. Perhaps you have not read any book by him, perhaps you know next to nothing about his outer or inner life, but his name will have a mantric effect on you, because sooner or later he is going to be your inner Pilot. Your inner cry has already reached the heart of your Master. In the outer life, the moment his name comes to you, you will feel a magic inner thrill and your heart will be touched.

Question: Would you say something about feeling your body in a spiritual way? Is feeling a kind of electric force or wave a spiritual experience?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. An electric shock or thrill is a kind of spiritual experience. You have brought down some dynamic light into your system, and this dynamic light is operating inside you. But this is not a form of meditation; it is the result or after-effect of a meditation.

Question: Can you take the senses as an object of meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly, you can take the senses as an object of meditation. If you want to concentrate on one of your eyes, you can easily do it. But instead of concentrating on these physical eyes, if you can concentrate on your third eye, between and a little above your eyebrows, naturally you will one day be able to open up your third eye. This will give you the capacity to see the past, present and future. Furthermore, when the third eye is open, the mistakes, shortcomings, imperfections and limitations of millennia can be rectified and all obscurities in your life can be destroyed. If you concentrate properly on your third eye, you will get this result.

If you want to meditate only on the physical senses, you are welcome to do so, but you have to know that if you concentrate or meditate on something more significant, you are bound to get better results. If you meditate on a pencil or carrot or a cucumber, God is also there. But if you meditate on the sun early in the morning, or if you meditate on the vast sky, you will receive some of their power and vastness. If you meditate on a picture of your spiritual Master, immediately you will feel his oneness with God, his divine consciousness and his liberation, which you are striving for.

You have to know what is worthy of your meditation and concentration. If you concentrate on one finger, you will get a limited amount of will-power. If you concentrate on a flower, you will get abundant purity, and this purity is of the greatest necessity in the spiritual life. But if you concentrate on something supremely spiritual, then you will get more satisfaction, more attainment and more fulfilment. If you want to meditate on the senses, you can certainly do so, but this will not help you very much in your spiritual life. There are other things to meditate on which will offer you more satisfactory and abiding truth.

Question: Is it necessary to follow a life of renunciation?

Sri Chinmoy: Renunciation is a complicated term. We have to know what we are planning to renounce. If we mean that we are going to renounce our imperfection, limitation and ignorance, then I will say, yes, we do have to follow a life of renunciation. We have to renounce the things that are binding us. But if we mean that we are going to renounce the world and retire into a cave to try to realise God, then I will say, no, that kind of renunciation we do not need. Leading a very care-free life will not offer us God-realisation. We must renounce imperfection, obscurity and limitation. But if we say that we have to renounce our family, our jobs and all our responsibilities, then we are making a terrible mistake. God is in our near and dear ones, too.

We may think, "By praying to the God who is inside my dear ones, how am I going to realise the God who is all-pervading?" So today we may renounce our parents and the members of our family, and tomorrow we may enter into the Himalayan caves. But there we shall have to try to renounce our stupid mind. We have left our home, our parents and children, our jobs, the world, but our mind is still thinking of them: "What are they eating? Are they thinking of me? I was so cruel to leave them, I wonder if they are suffering." Geographically we can easily get away from these things, but mentally and emotionally we are still caught. We are bound to them as closely as ever. In the spiritual life when we renounce, we renounce our ignorance. But there comes a time when we realise that even ignorance we do not actually renounce, we transform it. Right now we are caught by ignorance; we are victims of ignorance. Ignorance is kicking us like a football, and sometimes, while we are being kicked, we are consciously cherishing ignorance. But eventually we shall catch ignorance. A day will come when knowledge will dawn in us and we will feel that ignorance is like a thief stealing away all our inner wealth. Then we will try to catch ignorance and threaten it. And soon we will come to feel that, rather than threatening ignorance, if we can flood it with light, it will no longer want to commit any mischief. Then our physical consciousness, our earth-bound consciousness, will not make any more mistakes.

To come back to your question, we have to know what we are renouncing. If we want to renounce ignorance, that is absolutely necessary. But we need not renounce our near and dear ones and enter into the Himalayan caves to realise God. That is absurd. Again, when real renunciation takes place, we have to feel that we do not renounce, we just transform. We transform night into day, impurity into purity, ignorance into wisdom, death into Immortality. We do not renounce; we just transform everything through our conscious, inseparable oneness with God's Light.

Question: Would you tell me what suffering is and what it means?

Sri Chinmoy: Suffering is an experience that God has in and through us. It is the result of our limited consciousness. When unlimited consciousness operates, we see the result in the form of joy and delight. God's unlimited Consciousness is all-pervading. But right now we are in the finite. When we accomplish something in the finite we are not satisfied. In the Infinite when we accomplish something we are satisfied. When an individual has five dollars he wants to make ten dollars. His five dollars does not satisfy him; he suffers, he is limited. He sees that his friend has ten dollars and he has only five dollars. He has inner suffering because he wants to have ten dollars. Then when he makes ten dollars, he sees that somebody else has twenty dollars. Again, he has inner suffering, and he enters into turmoil thinking about how to make twenty dollars.

In the finite there will always be suffering because we try to compete, to grasp, to possess. But in the Infinite there is no suffering because we enter into the universal Consciousness. There our will and the universal Will are the same. Our own will becomes totally and inseparably one with what the universal Will demands from the earth, and there is no suffering. But right now we are trying to satisfy the world with our limited consciousness, and the world also wants to satisfy us with its limited consciousness. We are limiting others and we ourselves are limited. Our main experience in this world is the experience of limitation, and that is why we suffer.

From the highest point of view, God embodies both the limited and the unlimited consciousness. He is the tiniest insect and at the same time He is the measureless cosmos. He is smaller than the smallest and larger than the largest. Anor aniyan mahato mahiyan … He is farther than the farthest and nearer than the nearest. He is nearer than the nearest for whom? For the seeker. He is farther than the farthest for whom? For the non-seeker. For those who are wallowing in the pleasures of ignorance, God is farther than the farthest. Naturally those individuals suffer. But God is nearer than the nearest for the seekers. When a seeker prays to God and meditates on God, he feels that he is God's dearest child. When he prays to God, he feels that God the Omniscient is there, listening to him. When he meditates on God he feels that God is talking to him and he is listening to God. If he is listening to God and God is listening to him, there can be no suffering. This truth is what the seeker learns from his spiritual life. But if one does not aspire, he has to stay all the time in a limited consciousness. Naturally, in the limited consciousness, there is much suffering.

Question: Would you speak about music, God and meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: I have written a book called God the Supreme Musician which I would like to send to you so that you can read it. In that book I have spoken at length about my views on God and music. God and music are inseparable. If you say that each musician is not God, I may agree with you, but if you say that soulful music is not God, then I will totally disagree with you. You may say that each individual is not God because you see many imperfections and undivine things in his life. You find it difficult to call him God, or to feel that he is God. But if you say that his creation — soulful music — is not representing God, then I totally disagree with you.

The earthly creator we misunderstand because of his shortcomings. But he is bringing down his creation from another world, especially if he is a musician. He brings down reality from a higher world on the strength of his intense aspiration, and for half an hour or an hour he remains high, very high. The music he writes or plays at that time comes from that high realm. But after half an hour or an hour he may enter into his ordinary consciousness again. That is why people appreciate a musician while they listen to his music and later look down upon him for his human failings. Everything he has brought down from the very high worlds to illumine and fulfil the earth consciousness is undoubtedly the representative and the reality of the life-breath of God coming down from the higher worlds. This is why I say that music is God, even though a musician may not always be God-like.

Part III — Questions and answers

191-196.University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 26 October 1974.

Question: In the Bible there is a part that explains about Moses' revelation from God. Can you tell us a little bit about Moses?

Sri Chinmoy: I can answer this question, but it will not help you at all in your spiritual life. If you ask me questions about your own aspiration or about your own inner experiences then you will make the fastest progress. If I say something about Moses, about his inner connection with God, this will be only mental information to feed your curiosity. But it will not increase your aspiration. Please ask me another question that will be of real help to you.

Question: How does a person overcome doubt about himself?

Sri Chinmoy: We must treat doubt very seriously. As soon as a doubt comes we have to feel that it is someone standing in front of us with a knife, ready to stab us. Sometimes when we have doubt we cherish it, while at the same time wishing that this doubt could be conquered. But we will never be able to conquer doubt by mere wishful thinking. If we identify ourselves with the mind, we will not have the power to conquer all doubt because the mind itself unconsciously or consciously cherishes doubt. But the soul has more power than the mind. We should try to save ourselves with the light of the soul. Every day before doubt has the opportunity to enter into our mind, we should try to feel the light of the soul inside us. Each time doubt comes we should feel that the soul is not only protecting us, but is giving us a new life, a life of aspiration, a life of realisation, which is what we really want.

We can conquer doubt just by meditating on the soul or thinking always of the soul. The soul is infinitely more powerful than our mental doubt. We can and we should take the positive side. We come from the soul, inside us is the soul, we are the soul, we are for the soul. Always we can try to identify our physical being, our physical consciousness, with the soul which is all light and delight. When we feel that at every moment we are growing into the soul's light and delight then doubt can easily be transformed into divine confidence. At that time we will say, "I am God's son. If I cannot do it, who can do it? I can and I shall realise God. I can and I must manifest God." We can cherish that kind of divine awareness — that oneness with God each of us can and will establish. Then doubt is bound to leave us.

Question: How can I make my inner cry more sincere?

Sri Chinmoy: You can make your inner cry more sincere by feeling at every second that you are helpless, absolutely helpless and hopeless without God. With God, with God's Love, Concern and Guidance, you become omnipotent, but without God you are impotent. When you feel that kind of helpless feeling, then your inner cry will come to the fore spontaneously. When you feel that you are helpless without God, your inner cry comes to the fore with utmost sincerity. Why do you cry? You cry because you feel that you do not have something which you badly need. You cry for your conscious oneness with Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. These three divine blessings are your own, only you have to rediscover them. They are your own inner wealth which you have lost or misplaced. But you have every right to search for them and cry to the Supreme for them. In order to have that inner cry, always try to feel that you are absolutely helpless. When you feel helpless, automatically your aspiration grows. When you feel helpless, you will feel that the right thing is to pray and meditate. You will not try to make yourself miserable and helpless so that you can have a good meditation, but when pride or jealousy or lethargy or lack of aspiration come, cry inwardly to regain your own inner treasure. You have every right to cry for your own lost treasure.

Question: Sometimes during my meditation something shows me some imperfection in my human nature. Some event that occurred portrays this imperfection and I have this in my mind during my meditation. I am confused about what to do with it then. Should I hold it and destroy it or push it aside and try to concentrate on something divine?

Sri Chinmoy: When your mind brings to the fore some imperfection in your nature, in your outer life, immediately try to throw that imperfection into the universal Consciousness. Do not try to fight it, do not try to exercise your will-power and destroy it. Just throw it into the infinite ocean of consciousness from where you will not be able to get it back. But do not try to fight it during your meditation. You can't do two things properly at the same time. If you have to fight against something during your meditation, it will not be possible for you to maintain your highest meditation at the same time. Just empty yourself. Once you empty yourself, it becomes the duty of the Supreme to fill you with light and perfection.

Question: What is the best way to keep a spiritual consciousness during the day?

Sri Chinmoy: When you pray and meditate, try to feel that you have gained something real: light, bliss, peace, power. When you earn money, you can keep it in your pocket and use it whenever you want to. Similarly, when you meditate in the morning, you have to feel that you have gained some inner wealth, and this wealth you have to keep inside your heart. Then while you are mixing with your friends, working in the office or studying in the school, when you are thrown into multifarious activities, you can use this inner wealth whenever you need it. Just meditate for a minute and enter into the heart where you have kept your inner wealth safe. Then you can distribute it wherever you feel the need. In the morning you save your money, because you know you will need it later on during the day.

Part IV — Questions and answers: University of Honolulu

Question: What is aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: Aspiration is our inner cry. Deep within all of us we have this aspiration, this mounting inner cry. We start our journey with aspiration. In the beginning when we aspire, deep within us we feel that we have to realise God. When we realise God, we have to feel the necessity of revealing God to mankind. This again is aspiration, on a higher level. There is no end to our aspiration. After we have revealed God we have to manifest God. This is the third step. Manifestation is the flowering of real aspiration. But there is no end to our manifestation, just as there is no end to our realisation and no end to our revelation. Each realisation of today is tomorrow's starting point, tomorrow's new dawn. Today's realisation is the steppingstone for the higher realisation of tomorrow.

To come back to your question, aspiration is the inner flame that is burning constantly, rising towards the highest ultimate Goal. It has no end. Constantly it is illumining our consciousness and the people who are around us. It is illumining within and without. And in the process of this illumination, we see that today we will realise God, tomorrow we will try to reveal God and the day after tomorrow we will try to manifest God. But there is no end to our realisation, revelation and manifestation, precisely because aspiration itself is an eternal inner flame.

Question: What is the difference between desire and aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: Aspiration is our inner cry. The outer cry is the cry for name, fame, power and material prosperity. This is called desire. When we cry for peace, light, bliss and other divine things, this is aspiration. When we do not care for things that bind us, we have aspiration. With desire we try to bind others, but soon we discover that we ourselves are already bound. This is what desire does. When we aspire, we come to realise that we have to free ourselves and we have to free others. The more we free ourselves from the meshes of ignorance, the clearer becomes our vision. We feel that it is only through the expansion of our consciousness that we can have abiding peace within us. Aspiration is the inner cry that carries us to the Highest and also offers the message of total divine fulfilment here on earth. Aspiration deals with Eternity, Infinity and Immortality, whereas desire deals with a dollar, a house, a car or some other worldly thing. Aspiration deals with infinite Peace, Light and Bliss. Unless and until we have achieved this Peace, Light and Bliss we shall not be satisfied, no matter what we get from the material world. For everlasting Peace, Bliss and the sense of fulfilment, the thing that we need, the thing that is of paramount importance in our life, is aspiration, the inner flame which each of us has.

Question: Is there a difference between prayer and meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, there is a difference between prayer and meditation, although we can get the same result from both. With prayer we can realise God, and with meditation we can realise God. Usually when we pray, we say, "O God, give me this or give me that," and we always feel that God is listening to our prayer. But when we meditate, we feel that God is talking and we are listening. When we pray, God becomes the listener; when we meditate, we become the listener. When we meditate, God is talking to us, communing with us, and we are listening to Him. We are obeying whatever message He is bringing to us in our meditation.

When we pray, we try to raise our consciousness to the Highest. One-pointedly we try to go up. At that time we don't look forward, backward or sideways. Our intention is only to go up. When we meditate, however, we cover the length and breadth of the world with our consciousness. At that time we are like a bird spreading its wings and flying in the sky. When we meditate, we spread our widened and widening consciousness and reach the Highest. But prayer is not like that. It is one-pointed, like an arrow going up. There is one-pointed attention in our prayer, whereas when we spread our wings in deep meditation, we are entering into the reality with a broad heart.

Fulfilment has to take place not only in the individual but also in the collectivity. Very often we pray for our own salvation. But when we meditate, we do not do that. When we meditate, our consciousness is widened. Unconsciously or consciously we try to home the entire world deep within our meditation. Then, when we reach the Highest, we feel that we have carried the entire world along with us. Our meditation is like an ocean liner that can accommodate many people. But we can also go to the Goal in a tiny boat with our prayer. With prayer most of the time we see that only the individual can go one-pointedly to his destination. With meditation the collectivity can go. Prayer basically involves 'me' and 'mine'. But when we meditate, our consciousness is expanded and it embraces the entire world.

Question: Does illumination come all at once?

Sri Chinmoy: No, illumination does not come all at once. It is a series of experiences. When we get the fullest, the highest illumination, at that time we feel, "This is the hour." But illumination is actually like a muscle which we develop. We cannot develop very strong muscles overnight. We have to exercise for a few months or a few years before we develop very powerful muscles. In Buddha's case, he meditated under the Bodhi Tree for six months. Before that he had meditated in various other places. There are many spiritual Masters who say that on one particular day they got realisation. But it did not happen all at once. There was long preparation behind it. They meditated for fifteen or twenty years.

On a specific day you get a diploma, but before that you study for twenty years. Every year adds to your higher illumination, higher knowledge. In the case of Buddha, he had meditated for many, many years in previous incarnations before he realised the highest Truth. It was a long preparation. Nobody gets illumination all at once. Illumination is the development of inner will, of inner consciousness. We can say that in the outer life it is a series of experiences. First we get an iota of light, and gradually it increases until we have abundant light. Then we enter into boundless Light, infinite Light. This is how illumination or realisation gradually takes place.

Question: I am having telepathic experiences with people who call themselves magicians. I talk with them while they are in other places. I can enter this realm at will. I'm curious about how you would respond to these experiences?

Sri Chinmoy: From the highest spiritual point of view I wish to answer your question. Will these experiences help you go faster towards your goal? No, they will not. These experiences are fascinating, undoubtedly, but they will never take you to reality. On the contrary, they are temptations on your way to God-realisation, the highest Truth. In our spiritual life very often we get fascinating experiences and then we don't want to aspire anymore. It is true that experiences can give us encouragement, but very often when we get too many experiences we enter into the vital world. We see a kaleidoscope; we see all kinds of beautiful things, but these things are only temptations. Suppose you are walking along a street towards your goal. If you see beautiful trees, ponds and flowers alongside the street, what happens? The scenery is so beautiful that you take a rest. You say, "Let me stay here and enjoy this," and then you stop and enjoy it. But your destination remains a far cry.

A sincere seeker knows what his goal is: the highest Truth. He will not delay his journey. But in your case I can see that you enjoy these experiences; you give them your conscious attention. This is very wrong. In the spiritual life we aspire for the highest Truth, for God, and for nothing else. These experiences are real temptations for you. You should feel, "Once I realise God I will have infinitely more beautiful, meaningful and fruitful experiences." With that idea you have to cast these telepathic experiences aside. If you feel that by entering into these experiences or allowing them to enter into you, by cherishing them, you will get higher experiences, you are mistaken. You will not go any farther. If you dwell on them all the time, if you are constantly fascinated by them and feel that you are part of them, you will be caught by them. Many people have made this mistake, and for them God-realisation has remained a far cry.

Sincere seekers take these experiences as obstructions on their way. Please pay no attention to these kinds of experiences. They are fascinating, but they are not fulfilling in your life of dedication, realisation and manifestation. Early in the morning try to silence your mind. If you can silence your mind, you will not have these experiences. They are coming to you from the vital world. You are cherishing these creations of the vital world and trying to possess them as your very own. But they cannot take you to the highest Goal. If your aim is the Highest, then these things have to be consciously discarded. I wish you to go to someone who will inspire you to enter into the realm of pure aspiration. Then you will be able to bring to the fore your soul's light and run the fastest towards the highest Goal,

Question: Can mantra meditation take you all the way to the Goal?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly a mantra can take you to the Goal. A mantra has power. The mantric power can easily take one to the Highest, as prayer and meditation do. Chanting a mantra is also a form of approaching God. It has its own efficacy and its own approach towards the Highest. There are many people who have realised God only by repeating a mantra. Many, many Indians have realised God by repeating the mother of all mantras, the Gayatri Mantra:

Aum bhur bhuvahsvah
Tat savitur varenyam
Bhargo devasya dhimahi
Dhiyo yo nah pracodayat.

Other mantras are also quite helpful, but if you can chant this one every day most soulfully, it will definitely take you to the Highest. It is for the highest illumination that seekers chant this mantra.

If a spiritual Master gives you a specific mantra, he will offer his own spiritual power inside that mantra. If you repeat the mantra soulfully, you are bound to get fulfilling experiences, and eventually you will be able to realise God. But if you practise a mantra, it should come directly from a spiritual Master who is a God-realised soul. He has to give it to you personally. There cannot be a third person involved. If someone in India tells one of his unrealised disciples, "Since you are representing me in America, you can give mantras," then the mantra you get from that person will never, never illumine you. An ordinary person who has merely studied the scriptures will not be able to offer you illumination through a mantra. If a spiritual Master, a realised soul, gives you a mantra, then only will the mantra offer you measureless power.

Question: Practically speaking, how does one go about learning how to meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: To begin with, if one does not have a teacher or does not care for a teacher, one has to read a few spiritual books written by spiritual Masters who have realised God, not by professors and scholars. If you read books written by real spiritual Masters, you will get inspiration. When you read the books written by various Masters, their writings will be surcharged with their divine consciousness and light. That consciousness will enter into you and inspire you. But there will come a time when you will feel the necessity of learning directly from someone who already knows how to meditate. At that time you will have to take help from a spiritual guide.

If you want to aspire intensely and meditate regularly, you need more inspiration and more aspiration. This has to come from a spiritual Master in whom you have implicit faith. His very presence will give you abundant inspiration and aspiration. You can speak to him or, if he has accepted you on his path, then inwardly and silently he can teach you how to meditate. He himself will meditate on you. If he meditates on you for a minute or two daily, then he will offer you the capacity to meditate for half an hour or an hour a day. It is the Master who increases the power of meditation and aspiration in the seeker.

But to start off in the field of meditation, I advise you to read books. When you feel that you don't get enough inspiration from the books, although they are written by spiritual Masters, you should go to seekers who have already found some spiritual path. Their presence we call satsang — the companionship of a sincere seeker. If you are with them, if you talk with them, mix with them, then from their inspiration and aspiration you will get your own inner strength to meditate. Eventually, when you get your own Master, you will see how fast you will be able to progress.

Question: Is it necessary to have a Guru or can you reach enlightenment on your own?

Sri Chinmoy: One can reach enlightenment on the strength of his own aspiration. We know that the first person who realised God did not have a human Guru. But again, we know that there is something called speed. If one gets help from a qualified person, then he can make the fastest progress. Why do you attend this university? So many people are studying here. They could have studied at home instead. But they knew that they could not make the fastest progress by themselves, so they came here to study. Books are available for the students to read, but they also need a teacher who will be able to show them how to study the field they have chosen and how to interpret the meaning of what they learn. In this way they learn their lessons faster.

For everything we need a teacher. The mother is the first teacher. She teaches the child the alphabet for a few months. Then he has a kindergarten teacher, primary and high school teachers and college and university professors. Then this human study, earthly study, ends, and he himself becomes a teacher. But the mother played her role for a few months. She taught him the alphabet. If I want to learn how to sing, I need a teacher. If I want to learn how to sprint, I need a teacher. If I want to do anything on earth, I need a teacher to show me the best possible way. Then how is it that I do not want or need a teacher in the spiritual life? Spirituality is also a kind of knowledge. You will say, "God is within us. Why have we to take any help from anybody?" But I will say, "God is in this book also. Why do we ask a teacher to explain the book?" God is in everything, but we know that there is always someone who is more advanced in a particular subject than we are. A professor of English has more knowledge than a student. In the spiritual life also, a God-realised man, a spiritual Master, has much more God-Knowledge than a seeker. But when a seeker realises God, he is like a student who has received his Master's degree. He no longer needs a teacher.

We have to know how fast we want to go. In the spiritual life we can stumble, we can walk or we can run the fastest. When we have a Master, we can run the fastest because he offers us his own inner strength, his protection, his concern, his compassion and God's Light. He offers, and the disciple receives from him. A guru is not indispensable, but again, one can be wise in this matter. If one can reach the Goal much faster by taking help from someone on the way, what is wrong with that? America is the land of speed. Everything here is faster than the fastest. If you want to realise God as fast as possible, then take the help of someone. After you have reached your Goal, you no longer need to take his help. I came to San Francisco from New York by jet. The jet pilot was my guide. As soon as I landed here, I no longer needed the jet or the pilot; I had reached my destination. In the spiritual life also, when you reach your destination you don't need anyone. But while you are travelling you have to know how fast you want to go. I could have come to San Francisco from New York by some other means, but it would have taken me a longer time. The seeker has to know whether he prefers to travel at the speed of a bullock cart or at the speed of a jet plane. If one wants to realise God on his own, he will proceed at the speed of a bullock cart; but if one wants to realise God with the help of a Master, he will complete his journey at jet speed.

Question: What is the greatest stumbling block for most seekers and how can it be overcome?

Sri Chinmoy: In the spiritual life there are quite a few obstacles: fear, anxiety, impurity, jealousy and the feeling of unworthiness, but the greatest obstacle is doubt. In comparison with doubt, all other obstacles pale into insignificance. We doubt the existence of God or we doubt ourselves. We may say, "Oh, I have prayed and meditated for so many years. If God existed, if there really were a God, by this time He would have come and stood in front of me." When we feel that it is high time for us to realise God, but still God-realisation does not dawn, we immediately say, "No, there is no such thing as God." We doubt God. Or we may feel that we don't have the capacity to realise God. We say to ourselves, "I have done so many things wrong in my life. Why should God come to me?" If we do not pray or cannot pray, we simply say, "It is impossible for me to realise God, so let me give up all hope."

This is our self-doubt. But if we have wisdom, we will say, "There are others who have realised God. If they have realised God, how is it that I have not realised God? They eat and breathe just the same as I do. They do practically all the same things that I do. They also have two eyes and one nose and two arms. If they have realised God, how is it that I cannot realise God?" By saying this we can conquer our self-doubt. Doubting is like taking slow poison daily. Today we doubt God, tomorrow we will doubt ourselves, the day after tomorrow we will doubt the existence of everything. Then we will not be able to do anything. We need faith in ourselves and in God. In faith we build ourselves, and in doubt we destroy ourselves. God is all faith. God is all joy. When we meditate on God, we challenge doubt; and in the sea of peace and self-assurance, our doubt dissolves.

Editor's introduction

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 sixth series were delivered between October 25 and 29, 1974. The questions in this book were put to Sri Chinmoy by students at the universities where he spoke.

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