Flame-Waves, part 12

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Part I

FW 391-404. These questions were submitted to Sri Chinmoy by members of the Meditation Group in May 1978.

Question: Could you tell me what should be my prayer to the Supreme?

Sri Chinmoy: Ask for your nature's perfection. All those who have accepted our path or who are following any spiritual path should have only one prayer — to be a perfect instrument of the Supreme.

Question: Quite often I find that when I look at students who are standing in front of me and meditating, the peace that I felt before increases. Why is this?

Sri Chinmoy: You have peace and if you stand in front of a peaceful person, then naturally your peace will grow. You are not a thief, but if you stand in front of a thief or mix with him, then naturally the consciousness of the thief will enter into you. Similarly, if you stand in front of someone who has a good quality, then that good quality will enter into you.

Sometimes you don't have to stand in front of a person. Suppose you see a beautiful tree. Being an artist, a good artist, naturally you will appreciate and admire the beauty of the tree. Perhaps you will even try to sit at the foot of the tree and paint. But the moment you sit down, all the world's undivine thoughts, absolutely worst thoughts, may start entering into you. Then you will say, "Why is this happening to me? I came here with a pure mind only to paint, so how is it that all the world's absolutely undivine, impure thoughts are attacking me?" In this case, you have to know that somebody with a low character had previously sat under the tree and invited the lowest thoughts to enter into him.

Again, it may happen that a saint or a saintly person has sat at the foot of the tree and meditated for some time. Then you come and sit there and you get his vibration. It is not only the physical presence of the person that can affect you. Although his physical presence is no longer there, even the subtle presence of the person who was there before may affect you.

Sometimes, while you are walking along the street, you may find that you can't account for an experience that you suddenly get. Although there is no flower of any kind, absolutely none, still you get a beautiful, fragrant, flower-like feeling, which is very ethereal and divine. Where does this Heavenly feeling come from? Either a spiritual person has been there or some angels or astral beings happen to be there.

So if you are in front of someone who has more capacity than you have, then his presence may help you to acquire more of that capacity. Although outwardly you are not begging him to give you anything and perhaps he also is not conscious of giving you anything, from his very presence you may get that capacity. If he is embodying intuition or any capacity or quality, then you get it. It is like a magnet: you are pulling the quality from him and it is entering into you. Sometimes if you are pulling from him outwardly, then the ego-world enters and he will not give you anything. But inwardly if you pull, then he will give.

Question: If someone is a sincere seeker, should he follow a specific path?

Sri Chinmoy: Mine is not the only path; there are many paths. Today I have inspired you, but my only request to you is that you accept a path of your own. You should follow a specific path under the guidance of a spiritual Master if you really want to reach the Goal the fastest. Everyone here on earth cares for time. If you can reach your goal in one day, why should you wait for ten days?

The only thing is that in one day you cannot reach your spiritual goal. If anybody tells you that you will attain God-realisation in two hours or in ten days or in one month, then I wish to tell you that he is fooling you. Please do not go to that Master. God-realisation is not so easy. I know, because I have realised God. Nobody can realise God in one day or in one month. It is impossible. Just to get a Master's degree you need eighteen or twenty years of outer study. To attain God-realisation is infinitely more difficult than to get a Master's degree.

Again, you should not be doomed to disappointment. Do not think, "Oh, I will never realise God; I have done so many things wrong." You are God's child. You have gone through some experiences which you call mistakes. But if you feel that you will never realise God because you did a few things wrong in your life, then you are mistaken. God-realisation is your birthright. You have to forget those unhappy experiences. You must not commit those mistakes any more. From today, if you always do the right thing in both your inner life and your outer life, then you are bound to realise God very soon.

So, on the one hand, don't be disappointed, discouraged or disheartened; and on the other hand, don't be over-optimistic and think that in a few weeks you will realise God. Everything has its own time. Slowly and steadily you will reach your goal. In the spiritual life you need aspiration; you need to practise concentration, meditation and contemplation. Then you will realise God. Please be sincere and serious in this matter. Then you will see that God-realisation is not something impossible; far from it. It is possible, practicable and inevitable. But you have to be sincere and follow a specific path. You have to have inner guidance and outer guidance from the Master whom you accept as your leader and guide.

Question: Could you speak a little about how a seeker who has just entered the spiritual life should handle the pleasures and problems of daily life?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us deal with problems first. First, you have to ask whether these problems, which right now you have, existed before? Immediately, the answer will come, yes. So how is it that now you are aware of them, and at that time you were not aware of them? You have to know that when you live an ordinary life, unaspiring life, the hostile forces are clever. They know that you are at their mercy. They know your capacity, that you are in ignorance and at their feet. So they say, "All right, since he is sleeping, let us not bother him." But the moment you are up, they are going to attack you. There are many seekers who complain to their Master, "Before we accepted the spiritual life, we had less problems. Now that we have accepted the spiritual life, our problems have increased." But it is not true. They must know that these problems they had: only they did not want to conquer them consciously. That's why they were not aware of them. If you don't want to conquer something, then you are fast asleep and the problem is fast asleep. But now that you have entered into the spiritual life, you are challenging all your problems. Since you are challenging the problems, the hostile forces stand with the problems. They feed the problems so that they can continue to fight. But these forces know that they will not be able to conquer you. Only they will try to delay, delay. So you have to challenge them.

Before you accepted the spiritual life, you thought that the life of ignorance, the life of pleasure, was the right life. You looked around and you saw that everybody was enjoying the life of pleasure. You said, "So what is wrong with me? If my friends, my neighbours and everybody is in the same boat, then I don't want to be an exception." But once you accept the spiritual life, you feel that the life they are leading is not meant for you. You have got now an inner call, a higher call. You can't be with them. Yes, you stayed with them for fifteen or twenty years. But now you have got a higher call. Now the time has come for you to follow something else, to do something else.

If you don't accept problems as such, how are you going to conquer them? You will try to avoid problems, and problems will come to you with more power. Most vehemently they will come and attack you. So you cannot hide from your problems. You have to conquer them here and now. If you wait and say, "No, tomorrow I will gain more strength, and then I will be able to conquer my problems," I tell you that tomorrow will not come. Each second is a golden opportunity and if you misuse this golden opportunity, then you are strengthening unconsciously the forces of ignorance.

Now, about the life of pleasure. You have to know whether you have received or achieved anything from the life of pleasure. Immediately you will say, "The life of pleasure has given me one thing and that is frustration." Even if you remain in the ordinary life, the unaspiring life, if you are sincere you will say, "All I have gained from this life of pleasure is frustration." And then what happens? You see that there is no hope of coming out of this frustration unless and until you are destroyed totally. What today we call frustration, tomorrow will be destruction. We started our journey with temptation. Then, in temptation there was pleasure. And inside pleasure is destruction. After destruction, what remains? Nothing. This is the negative way of proceeding.

Then there is a positive way. That positive way is aspiration. What is aspiration? Aspiration is the inner cry that makes us feel that we have come from the infinite Peace, Light and Bliss and that we still embody this infinite Peace, Light and Bliss. Only we have to bring these qualities to the fore. Now, unconsciously we have it. Unconsciously we have someone called God. But spiritual life means our conscious awareness of God.

You have the treasure within you, but you have misplaced it. When you misplace something, you search for it, but you may not find it immediately. So you ask your friend, your dearest friend, to help you search: "I have lost something. Will you search for it along with me?" The friend comes, and since he is more expert in finding things, he finds it for you. That friend is your spiritual Master. Once he finds it, he does not take it away from you. He will not dare to take it away from you just because he has found it on your behalf. A spiritual Master is like that. He finds your inner treasure for you, and then his role is over. Your role is only to thank him. He finds it for you; then it becomes your treasure. You just thank him.

The life of pleasure has to be replaced by the life of aspiration. In aspiration is the real treasure, the realisation that you come from the Infinite, that you are in the Infinite and that you are for the Infinite Truth and Light.

Each person has a friend and an enemy. If the person aspires, then he feels that desire is his enemy and aspiration is his friend. If he does not aspire, if he is leading the life of desire, then he feels that desire is his friend and aspiration is his enemy. He is familiar with desire, even if it is not fulfilling him; he is aware of its reality in his life, whereas aspiration is a stranger to him. So he feels that desire is his friend.

There comes a time when the person feels that aspiration does exist. But this aspiration and realisation are not meant for him, because from the very beginning he has not led a spiritual life. But again, I wish to say that he is making a big mistake. Aspiration is for him; realisation is for him. Only he has to accept them as his own, very own.

Question: What is gratitude?

Sri Chinmoy: Gratitude means to become a flower in every part of your being: body, vital, mind and heart. Everything in your being will exist only as a flower. There are 86,000 subtle nerves inside you, but there will not remain anything else except a flower. You as an individual will become only a flower to be placed at the Feet of the Supreme. This flower is completely open; all the petals are blossomed. This is gratitude.

A student quoted one of my aphorisms: "One second of gratitude to God is worth three hours of intense meditation on God." He was finding it difficult to understand this aphorism. He thought that it meant that just to say "Thank you" for one second was worth several hours of meditation. But gratitude is not like shaking hands and saying, "Thank you". No, it may take you many incarnations to come up to the stage of true gratitude.

Inside the physical body there are thousands of nerves and inside the subtle body also there are thousands of subtle nerves. When everything disappears, when you exist only as a most beautiful flower and you feel that you are ready to be placed at the Feet of the Supreme: that is gratitude. But it may take hours, days, months, years or many incarnations to come to that stage. For one second of gratitude, the preparation may take quite a few years. So when I say that gratitude is the most difficult thing and the most important thing, please remember that I am referring to this kind of gratitude. When everything of yours has gone away, when everything of yours has melted and there only remains one flower, when you remain only as a flower ready for worship and you have placed yourself at the Feet of the Supreme: that is gratitude. From now on, please feel that this is what I mean by gratitude. Otherwise, I will not say that one second of gratitude is equal to three hours of meditation.

Question: Can anybody follow Yoga?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, everybody can follow Yoga, provided the person is very sincere in the spiritual life. There is no hard and fast rule that such and such a person only can follow Yoga. No, everybody can, provided he is very sincere in his spiritual approach.

Question: Recently it has become very fashionable for actresses and actors to go to India and follow a Guru. Do you think this is a sincere attitude towards this philosophy?

Sri Chinmoy: The thing is that if the actor or the actress is sincere enough to follow the spiritual discipline, then he or she is doing the right thing. But if others follow Yoga just because they do, then they are making a mistake. Yoga is not to be pursued just because such and such persons are following Yoga. If somebody feels the necessity of practising the inner life, the spiritual life, then he should go to India or anywhere where there are spiritual Masters.

Question: If hostile forces attack you, does it reduce your karma?

Sri Chinmoy: If you have done something wrong, then only you can say it is the law of karma. Otherwise, it is only misfortune if somebody comes and robs you. But just because you are innocent, do you think that you will get an abundant supply of wealth just because you were robbed? Somebody has done you a favour by stealing your things. It is not your fault, but somebody out of malicious feeling has stolen from you. Do you think that immediately you will get a fresh supply of the things that were taken? No, it is not like that. If you have done something good, if you have prayed and meditated, then God will bless you with divine qualities. But when you lose something, outwardly you will not always be compensated. You have to know that there are hostile forces hovering around. They attack and attack; they are out of control. If some naughty boy comes and strikes you and you have not disobeyed your mother or done anything wrong, it means that he has become a conscious or unconscious instrument of some undivine forces.

Question: Your philosophy says that we need perfection, but society seems to believe that people who are perfectionists are neurotic. Can you speak about this?

Sri Chinmoy: Each one has a sense of perfection. A child will feel that he is perfect if he can just smash twenty balloons. If someone else can remain quiet, then he will feel that he is perfect. If someone feels that God has told him to tell lies and he does tell lies, then he feels that he is perfect. If someone has promised to kill someone and he gets the gun and the bullets, then he feels that he is perfect. But finally wisdom dawns. He sees that by keeping his promise he would be sincere, but he would not be perfect. To kill someone else would be the worst possible thing. If you listen to the inner voice, the inner command, at all times, then you will know what to do. When you listen to this voice, that is perfection.

Question: Could you please speak about ego, pride and confidence?

Sri Chinmoy: Human ego and divine ego. Human ego is something that binds us. Human ego is always "my" and "mine". Again, there is divine ego, which is divine authority, divine light. But we don't call it ego: it is our Reality, our Source. Divine ego is our omnipresence: "I am everywhere". When we feel that we are everywhere, then who can bind us? But when we say that we are ourselves, at that time we are bound. The moment we concentrate on a particular part of our existence, immediately we become that particular thing. When our concentration is on the body, then the vital, mind, heart and soul are all our enemies. When we concentrate on the vital, at that time the heart and soul become foreigners, strangers. So human ego is very limited.

The divine part in us says, "I am omniscient, I am omnipotent, I am omnipresent, I am God's son." But if we don't pray, if we don't meditate, if we don't actually have that realisation, then we are only fooling ourselves. The Christ said, "I and my Father are one." It is absolutely true, in essence, that we are God's children, but the Christ said it on the strength of his realisation. If we say the same thing without having the realisation, then people will laugh at us: "Yes, you and your Father are one; that is why you are so ignorant. If you and your Father are one, then you have to think of your Father also as ignorance incarnate." They will give you that kind of answer.

Human pride and divine pride. With human pride, what can I do? I can strike someone, I can break something, I can insult you, I can scold you, I can lord it over you. Human pride only breaks the cosmic rhythm of life. We have human pride because we have a sense of separativity. I am separate from you, so when I do something which you cannot do, then I am proud. But if I am divine, then immediately I will say, "God used me in order to achieve this and God didn't use you, but tomorrow He will utilise you to achieve something else. He will operate in and through you, and at that time He will ask me to remain silent. So how can I be proud when I know that I am not the doer? The actual doer is God. Today He wants me, He needs my existence to do something for Him; tomorrow He will need your existence to do something."

We have human pride because we separate our existence from others. But divine pride is different. When we have divine pride we say, "How can I mix with ignorance if my Source is God? If my God, who is my Eternal Guru, my Inner Pilot, is omnipresent, and if I am with Him, in Him and for Him, then how can I be separated from others?" With my right hand I will throw the shotput, but I know that my right hand and left hand are one. After throwing, the right hand will not tell the left hand, "Look, I have thrown the shotput fifteen metres, whereas you cannot throw it even one metre." No, the right hand will immediately feel its oneness with the left hand.

We have human pride when we feel that we don't belong to others, that we are one inch higher than others. But we have to know that if we are really one, then we can't be proud. My head never thinks that it is superior to my feet. That would be sheer stupidity. My head only says, "If I have no feet, then how am I going to stand?" I have got the mind, the head, but this head cannot walk. With my head I cannot go across the street. In terms of light, my head is higher, but necessity demands that my feet take me. Again, I can stand up, I can sit down, but if I want to read or write, I need my mind. Even then, my feet will take me to the school to learn. This is called oneness.

Everything is necessary. This moment God is using my head to do something, the next moment God is using my feet to do something. How can my head be proud of its existence when it knows perfectly well that God also uses my feet? Similarly, just because God is everywhere, this moment He is giving me the opportunity to be His instrument and the next moment He will use you as His instrument. So where is the question of pride? Pride comes only when I can do something that you cannot do, or if somebody is using me and not using you. But God uses everyone, so there can be no pride.

Human confidence and divine confidence. Divine confidence says, "I can do this because something divine, God, is within me. That is why I can do this, I can say this. But I could not do it otherwise. I can only mix with my wisdom, light and delight because my Source is God. So I have confidence." It is like a child who knows that his parents are rich. He is confident because they have money. Here, our money is spiritual wealth. We feel that God, who is our Mother and Father, has infinite wealth, so we have confidence; we have peace of mind, light and bliss. Confidence we get when we see the Source within us, the Supreme. When we see His infinite Light, infinite Peace and infinite Bliss within us, we have confidence.

Otherwise, in the ordinary life there is no confidence at all. When we say that we have confidence, we know within ourselves that we are just showing off. We have not possessed something, we do not have something. No, only we want something or we claim something. When we are sincere, we immediately know that we are trying to fool others, but when we have divine confidence, we are not fooling anybody. We know that our Source is the Supreme, who has everything: infinite Peace, Light and Bliss. That is why we are confident. When we become one with Him, we know He will supply us with all His wealth in infinite measure. When we pray and meditate, we have that feeling. That is called real confidence, divine confidence.

Question: How can we be most receptive?

Sri Chinmoy: Try to live a life of utmost sincerity, humility and purity. In that way you will be able to receive, according to your own receptivity, the divine Peace, Light, Bliss, Delight and Power that I bring down in abundant measure.

Question: When I was meditating I felt really sick. My head was hurting and I felt I was pulling my meditation.

Sri Chinmoy: If you get that kind of tense feeling, immediately breathe in very fast, and when the rhythm of your breathing increases, the tension goes away. You are meditating and you are getting a tense feeling. Just imagine a flight of stairs, or a ladder that has got quite a few rungs. Try to feel you are climbing up, and you are breathing in as you are climbing up. One, two, three steps: you are going up, up. If you feel this ascent, then tension goes away. Tension comes when you are stuck at one place. But when you are climbing, it is like a bird flying up into the sky. When the bird is flying up, where is tension? Similarly, if you are climbing up, climbing up, then there will be no tension. Before you come to meditate next time, breathe in seven long breaths; that will help you. If you breathe very powerfully, you will energise yourself and, at the same time, conquer sleep for a few minutes.

Question: Where did God originate?

Sri Chinmoy: God originated Himself from His own inner Silence. He was One, but He wanted to become many. You cannot enjoy a game with only one person. If you want to play any game, you will need more players. God originated Himself out of His own Silence. He was One, but He wanted to become many in order to divinely enjoy the Cosmic Game.

Question: What can we do if we feel we are struggling and, at the same time, spiritual qualities like joy and aspiration are abandoning us?

Sri Chinmoy: We have to know whether it is a real inner struggle. It is very easy to use the term "struggle". If we have to budge an inch, we say it is a struggle. If we have to get up early in the morning, if we have to tell the truth, it is a struggle. If we have to face reality for a fleeting second, it is a struggle. But each individual has to realise what real struggle is. Real struggle, for a sincere seeker, is to conquer ignorance in his own life and in the world around him. If the seeker is sincerely struggling to conquer himself, to be the ruler of his own life, then in his very effort he is bound to get joy. While struggling against falsehood, inertia, darkness, imperfections, limitations and bondage, he is bound to feel a kind of inner joy, provided he is sincerely struggling.

We have to know how hard we are trying to realise the Highest, how many minutes of our daily life we are consecrating to the Supreme in us, how hard we are struggling to see the light within us and others. If we have this kind of struggle, then the divine qualities which we have are bound to increase, because it is the divine qualities within us that are inspiring us to fight against teeming ignorance. So how can they desert us when it is they who have asked us to fight against darkness and ignorance? If we are really making an inner, sincere spiritual struggle, then we are not going to lose our divine qualities. On the contrary, our inner qualities will increase in boundless measure.

Part II

FW 405-407. On 6 June 1978 Sri Chinmoy answered these questions on prayer during a meeting of the Meditation Group.

Question: What is the best way to pray for others?

Sri Chinmoy: The best way to pray for others is first, before you even start praying, to invoke the Presence of the Supreme. Then, once you feel His Presence, try to see or feel the people for whom you are praying inside the heart of the Supreme's Presence. Once you invoke His Presence, He will definitely come in His Subtle Body. His Presence may not take a human form, and you may not see Him in a human body. But you will be able to feel His Presence, and in your feeling a form will be embodied. Inside the form, try to feel the person for whom you are praying. If you can invoke the Supreme's Presence and feel inside His Presence the human beings for whom you are praying, then that will be the most effective way of helping them through your prayer.

But before asking the Supreme to help with your prayer, first ask Him whether you are supposed to pray. This you have to do. Otherwise, you may be praying for others out of sheer attachment, so that the other person will be pleased with you and do something for you in the outer world. If you get a message or inner feeling from the Presence of the Supreme that you should pray for that particular person, then only you should pray for him. Otherwise, the Supreme's Presence will be there, but He might not be at all pleased by your prayer. And even if He answers your prayer, it will be with tremendous reluctance, because the after-effect may be harmful. Before you pray, if you get express permission from the Supreme to pray for someone, then you are doing the right thing. But if you do something in this world without His approval, sanction or permission, then you will be committing a mistake.

Suppose somebody is very sick. You may think that if you pray for him, it will be a good thing, because he is suffering. But perhaps God wants him to have this experience at this particular time. You have to know that God is infinitely kinder than any human being could possibly be. If you pray to God, "Cure him, cure him," you may be standing in God's way. God wants to give him the experience of suffering in His own Way. So always ask God if it is His Will.

Question: How can we make our prayer most intense?

Sri Chinmoy: You can make your prayer most intense through your gratitude-heart. While you are praying, prayer is coming from your heart. You have to feed the prayer with gratitude. Gratitude is the nourishment. If somebody is going to run a race, he needs to be fed — not just before he runs, but a few hours before that. If anybody is going to do something great or good, he needs nourishment. Similarly, if you don't nourish the prayer with your gratitude-fruit, then your prayer will not be intense.

Nothing divine will be intense unless and until you are grateful to the Supreme. You want intense love for God, intense devotion to God and intense surrender to God's Will. But you will not have these divine qualities unless gratitude comes to the fore for what God has given you and for what God has not given you. The good things that you prayed for, He has given you, and the bad things that you prayed for, He has not given you. You have to be grateful for the things that He didn't give you and for the things that He did give you. If He had fulfilled your desires, then He would have proved to be your worst enemy. But instead of asking Him to fulfil your desires, if you asked Him for aspiration, then that He has granted you.

At every moment during the day you are energised by good thoughts or assailed by bad thoughts. You have to know that the good thoughts which you get are coming directly from the Supreme, and the will to fight and destroy or illumine the bad thoughts is also coming from the Supreme. He is inside you as a Warrior when wrong thoughts come to attack you, and He is inside you as the Heavenly Father, the Supreme Beloved, when good thoughts come to illumine you. So, naturally you are grateful.

So use your gratitude-heart to feed your prayer. Early in the morning, if you don't renew your gratitude-heart during your meditation or prayer, then nothing will be intense. At every moment your gratitude-heart must feed your intense inner cry and aspiration. Then you can intensify your prayer, your aspiration, your dedication and everything.

Question: Since the Supreme is fully aware of all of our needs, why is it appropriate to pray?

Sri Chinmoy: If you get something through prayer, it only increases its value in your life. You can tell the world, "I prayed for it. That's why I got it." A child is hungry and he tells his mother, "I am hungry." Then the mother feeds the child. Then the child will be able to tell the world, "Look, I have this kind of closeness with my mother." Yes, the mother would have fed the child on her own, but the fact that he asks and his mother listens to his request gives him joy. It means that she is at his beck and call. Because of his inner connection and closeness with his mother, the child can ask the mother to help him.

God sees everything, but in the outer life, if we ask Him for something and He gives it to us, then we get the glory. At that time, however, as individuals we are separated from Him. We feel that God is somewhere and we are somewhere else. We never think that He is around or beside us. We don't remain in our highest consciousness where we feel that we and God are one. If we feel that we and God are one, then the question of prayer does not arise, for our needs are His needs.

As long as we feel separated from God and feel that we have to ask Him for what we need, then we get joy from our prayer. We feel, "Just because I prayed, God gave me what I wanted, so I am worthy of having His Compassion." He would have done it unconditionally, but we would not have had the same kind of satisfaction. In a race, if somebody tries very hard and runs the whole course, she will be so delighted when I give her a trophy. She has run with such difficulty and with so much trouble, and she feels that she has earned the trophy. Now, even if you don't finish the race, I can also give you a trophy, because the trophy is there, but you will not feel satisfied because you have done nothing. God can give everything unconditionally, but you will not be happy, whereas the person who tries and shows the capacity really deserves what he gets. Here the fulfilment of our prayer is the trophy. If somebody prays and meditates and gets something, he will get more satisfaction than if God had given him the thing unconditionally.

Prayer intensifies our intimacy with the Supreme. Meditation increases our oneness with the Supreme. Before we meditate and become one, we have to acquire intimacy. First we have to feel that we and God are intimate friends; then we can realise our oneness-reality with God. Before we meditate, if we pray for a few seconds, then we are developing our intimate connection with the Supreme. Then, once we start meditating, we are developing our oneness-reality with the Supreme. Prayer is intimacy. Meditation is oneness. Unless we are intimate, how can we become one? We have to become intimate first; then only we can become one.

Part III

FW 408-417. These questions were submitted to Sri Chinmoy by members of the Meditation Group in June 1978.

Question: What is charity?

Sri Chinmoy: Charity is a form of giving. If we have ten dollars and we give five pennies, then we feel that we have done an act of charity. In charity, we give just a little, just a grain. Although we have a large quantity, we give just a portion of it and we feel that this is more than enough. We justify ourselves and say, "We have voluntarily given this little portion, but who has the right to tell us to give anything at all?"

There is a great difference between charity and self-offering. In the spiritual life, when we use the term self-offering, it means that we try to give what we have, unconditionally. What we have, we give to God or to mankind. Self-giving comes from the integral, entire being, but charity comes from an infinitesimal portion of our existence.

When we give something with charity, then we have a kind of inner feeling that the world will come to know of our kind action and appreciate and admire us. We tell others that we are giving something through charity, and then we wait like a beggar. Inwardly we try to see who is appreciating us or who is acknowledging our charity. So always there is some condition behind our gift.

Self-giving is a giving of the entire being: body, vital, mind, heart and soul. What we have and what we are, we are giving to the divine cause. This is the difference between charity and self-giving. Charity is a form of self-giving, but this self-giving is only in a very, very limited measure. It is by no means complete self-giving. Complete self-giving comes only from the spiritual life, only when we have the capacity to identify ourselves with the infinite Light and the infinite Vast.

Question: Sometimes I feel hopeless and helpless.

Sri Chinmoy: You must never feel that you are hopeless. If you feel that you are hopeless, then I wish to say that you are worse than hopeless. And if you feel that you are helpless, then I wish to say that you are really helpless. At that time, I can't help you at all, and no one else can help you. You are not hopeless and helpless. You are God's child. From Delight you came into existence, in Delight you grow and at the end of your journey's close, into Delight you will retire. This is what you must feel.

Question: Why is darkness impermanent and light permanent?

Sri Chinmoy: Light is permanent precisely because our Source is all Light. We come from Light, in Light we grow and through Light we fulfil our inner task. God is the eternal Source and we are His children. God-realisation, the flood of infinite Light, is our birthright. The more we go deep within, the easier it becomes for us to realise that there is something within us which is everlasting. Right now we are enveloped by darkness because we have been sleeping for a few years or a few incarnations. But a day will come when the infinite Light will dawn in us and make us feel what we truly are. Since our Source is God, who is all Light, eventually we also have to grow into Light. It is the Creator who has created us and eventually we have to grow into His very image.

What is Light? Light is Delight, and Delight means nectar. This nectar is immortal. In one of our Upanishads it is said that all human beings come into the world from Delight. Again, Delight is Light, God the Light. We grow in Delight, but we do not see or feel the Delight right now because we are living the surface life in the meshes of ignorance. But we shall continue to grow and, at the end of our journey's close, we shall again enter into the effulgence of Delight. We came from Delight, we grow in Delight and, at the end of our journey's close, we shall retire into Delight.

This experience of Delight we get only when we meditate. When we meditate, we get inner peace or peace of mind. Delight is visible, palpable and tangible only when we have peace of mind. Unfortunately, the modern, intellectual, doubting and sophisticated mind does not care for this kind of Light and Delight. It cries for outer information or it cries to achieve the Truth in its own way. But even while achieving the Truth, it negates the Truth. The mind sees the Truth for five seconds and then, when it is about to achieve the Truth, it doubts the possibility and potentiality of the Truth. Then who is the loser? It is the mind. But if we live in the heart or in the soul, which is within the heart, then we identify ourselves with the Light and immediately we become the Light. At that time there is no doubt; there is only a flood of certainty.

So if we can live in our inner existence even for one minute a day, we will see Light and feel Light in abundant measure. When we feel Light, we will feel the possibility of growing into the effulgence of Light. Our inner sun, which is infinitely brighter than the physical sun, will dispel the ignorance-night of millennia. Let us try to go deep within and enter into our inner sun, our cosmic sun. There we shall see the infinite, permanent Light waiting for us and crying for us. It needs only our conscious approval and co-operation to come to the fore.

Question: What is the meaning of struggle in the spiritual life? Will it lead to the destruction of our divine qualities?

Sri Chinmoy: Each individual has to realise what real struggle is. Real struggle, for a sincere spiritual seeker, is the struggle to conquer ignorance in his own life and in the world around him. If he is sincerely struggling to conquer himself, to be the ruler of his own life, then in his very effort he is bound to get joy. If he is sincerely struggling against falsehood, inertia, darkness, imperfection, limitation and bondage, then he is bound to feel a kind of inner joy.

Again, "struggle" is a very complicated word. If a lazy person has to budge an inch, then he feels that it is a great struggle. When we use the term "struggle", we have to know how hard we are trying to realise the Highest; we have to know how many minutes a day we are consecrating to the Supreme in us, how hard we are struggling to see the light within us and within others. If we are making a sincere struggle, then our divine qualities are bound to increase, for it is the divine qualities within us that are inspiring us to fight against teeming ignorance. So how can they desert us when it is they who have asked us to fight? If we are sincerely struggling to conquer the dark forces in our lives, then we are not going to lose our inner divine qualities. On the contrary, our inner qualities will increase in boundless measure.

Question: I have heard that in three hundred years the human body will be as different from the way we know it now as we are different from the animal. Can you speak on this?

Sri Chinmoy: Neither you nor I will be alive in three hundred years. So, why worry about three hundred years from now? We see how little progress we have made in three thousand or four thousand years, so how can we expect to be perfect in three hundred years? It is not possible for that kind of progress to be made in three hundred years; it is simply absurd. In order to make progress, we must have tremendous devoted love. God knows how many years it will take: perhaps three million years. Thinking about these things does not help you; it only feeds your curiosity. What is happening in your present life is what is important. As a seeker, you must think only of your immediate progress: today's progress and tomorrow's progress.

Question: Could you speak on guidance?

Sri Chinmoy: We all need guidance. The body is our guide; the vital is our guide; the mind is our guide; the heart, which has more knowledge than the other members, is our guide; and the soul, which has infinitely more knowledge and wisdom than the other members, is our inner guide. If you want to make a comparison, you can say that the vital offers a little more guidance than the body, the mind offers more guidance than the vital and the body put together, and the heart's guidance far exceeds the guidance of the body, vital and mind. Again, the light of the soul offers infinitely more guidance than all the others put together. Here on earth, millions of people are guided by the body, millions are guided by the vital and the mind. We get the guide that is most accessible to us until we can get the soul or God as our supreme guide.

Question: How can we bring our dreams into our meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: If you have very happy and delightful dreams, then they may encourage you and inspire you to meditate. Again, it may happen that after you have a dream you will go on imagining all that happened in your dream, even during your meditation. You will say to yourself, "I saw a beautiful Golden Shore." Then you will be there all the time and your real inner cry will not come to the fore. Many times people have had very high dreams and tried to remain there, but then the real intensity of their meditation went away. Again, it also may happen that when you have an inspiring dream, you feel that the Golden Shore is not a dream but a reality. So you say, "Let me work very hard."

When you meditate, you don't have to think of your dreams at all; just meditate most sincerely so that you can go high, higher, highest. This is the positive way. In this way it is not necessary to bring your dreams into your meditation at all.

Question: How can I have good dreams?

Sri Chinmoy: What you can do is this. If you normally get up at five o'clock, then get up at four o'clock. Take a proper shower and then meditate for half an hour at least. Then after meditation, sit down or lie down and concentrate on your navel. Do not think of dreams at that time. Try to feel that your navel chakra is opening. Try to imagine that a wheel is there rotating very fast. Because you have meditated for half an hour, you don't have to worry if you enter into that chakra, even though it is the vital chakra. From there you will get dynamic dreams or beautiful, soulful, colourful dreams. If you concentrate on other centres also you will get dreams. But be careful, so that you don't get carried away by the dreams.

Let us say that at five-thirty your meditation is over, and at six-thirty you have to get up again to go to school. So only one hour is at your disposal. But the navel chakra works very fast when it is invoked. If this chakra and the ones below the navel open too soon, then it is a real curse. But if they are opened at the proper time, then there is no difficulty.

Question: Will sweet dreams fulfil us?

Sri Chinmoy: When we get sweet dreams, we are never fulfilled, never fulfilled. But if it is God in us that dreams, if the divine in us dreams, then reality is going to be manifested immediately in us.

Question: Could you speak on Grace?

Sri Chinmoy: God has various kinds of power, but His most powerful adamantine power is His Grace. The moment He uses His Grace for a seeker, He offers His very Life-Breath to the seeker.

God and God's Grace can never be separated. The divine Grace is constantly descending upon us. He who is aspiring sincerely is consciously aware of this divine Grace, whereas he who is not aspiring is keeping his heart's door permanently closed to the divine Grace.

If we approach God through His Grace, then we are more successful. When we think of God, if we immediately feel that God is Grace within and without, then we will find it easier to approach God. The moment we think of God's Grace, we feel that His infinite Peace, Light and Bliss are already in the process of entering into us. But if we think of God as omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, then His divine qualities we do not see flowing through us. When we think of God as Grace, then all His divine, infinite qualities we feel entering into us. At that time, they become part and parcel of our inner and outer life.

From now on, let us feel that it is through the Grace of God that we can go to God, not that by going to God we are going to have His Grace. Here is a subtle difference. Let us think of God's Grace, which is constantly flowing, and let the flow carry us into the Source.

Part IV

FW 418-429. These are Sri Chinmoy's answers to questions submitted by members of the Meditation group on 18 July 1978.

Question: How can I have more patience?

Sri Chinmoy: If you know what patience is, then it is very easy for you to have more of it. If you feel that a particular thing requires a certain length of time, then you will become impatient when the time is up. You have set a time limit: in two days or in two weeks or in four months you have to realise God. After that time, if God is still hiding from you, if God-realisation still remains a far cry, then you become impatient.

You have to feel that you don't have to set a time for your self-mastery. You should say, "I shall realise God at His choice Hour." Your part is to pray and meditate and not to fix a date. God has not asked you to set a time for Him to come and visit you. Let the time be taken care of by God Himself. You be responsible only for your prayer and meditation; let God be responsible for the Hour. Each one can take care of his own business. Prayer belongs to you, but the time belongs to the Supreme.

Question: Is patience always necessary?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, patience is always necessary. But we have to know the difference between patience and tolerance. Sometimes we think that surrendered tolerance is patience, but this is wrong. We have tolerance only because we feel that there is no other way for us, but this tolerance is not patience at all. No, real patience has to be utilised in the form of wisdom. Real patience is oneness. Real patience will wait for Eternity while the individual progresses. But if it is only tolerance that is trying to take the role of patience, then there will be no real satisfaction.

Question: What is the spiritual significance of balance?

Sri Chinmoy: In the spiritual life balance is of paramount importance. When the result of an action elevates our consciousness, we feel that we are running towards our destined Goal. When our inner mounting cry takes us to the loftiest heights, our whole being becomes a sea of delight. But when we don't have outer success, it doesn't mean that we are not running towards the Highest. Sometimes defeat is a blessing in disguise. Defeat can be a reality which is secretly preparing us to run the fastest. When undivine thoughts fill our mind, we have to know that they are like passing clouds which will soon disappear. Then our soul will again come to the fore. If we have perfect balance and do not become sad or depressed, at that time we make the fastest progress. We need equanimity of mind in order to make the heart receptive. We need perfect balance in order to achieve real satisfaction.

Question: What does "destruction" mean in the spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: In the spiritual life, nothing is totally destroyed for good. If you feel destruction means that something is gone forever and that never again will you see its face, then you are mistaken. From the spiritual point of view, you have to know that destruction is the transformation of the limited consciousness. It is like this. When you move from one year into the next year, you do not see the old year any more. The old year you do not see either in your outer life or in your inner life. What you see is the outer and inner transformation of the year that has just passed.

Take a particular desire that you may have had as a child. Now that desire is no longer in you or around you. At the age of seven, let us say, you wanted to be the greatest poet on earth. Now you are fifty years old and you are not a celebrated poet; far from it. You have not become even an ordinary poet. But this does not disturb you in the least, because you have entered into the spiritual life and that old desire has been "destroyed". That desire operated in you before, but now you want only to enter into the life of infinite Truth. Your desire-bubble has burst; it is totally gone. What has actually happened is that it has been transformed into aspiration. This aspiration wants to achieve the Highest and grow into the infinite Light, Peace, Bliss and Power of God. If you look for your old desire with your physical eyes, then you will see that it is nowhere to be found. The desire which you cherished at the age of seven has been totally destroyed by the illumining light inside you. The illumining light has given you the flame of aspiration. Or you can say that God's Grace has entered into your present-day consciousness and transformed your desire into aspiration.

So your limited desire to be only a poet has been transformed into a much vaster desire. Now you want only to be God's chosen instrument and to deal with Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. You want to change the face of the vast world, and it is only as an instrument of God that you can do this: not as a poet, not as a philosopher, not as an artist, not as anybody but a true instrument of God.

You started with desire and your desire could have made you a poet. But now your aspiration is making you a true lover of mankind and a true saviour of mankind. So where is destruction? It is only the transformation of your limited consciousness into the unlimited consciousness, where not only possibility and practicability but also inevitability are constantly shaking hands with your inner life of aspiration and your outer life of revelation and manifestation.

Question: What good does it do if a Yogi stays in a Himalayan cave and meditates?

Sri Chinmoy: An ordinary person will naturally say that this Yogi is of no use, that he is lost to the world. Humanity does not need him and, at the same time, he does not care for humanity. But this reasoning is faulty. The Yogi may be in a Himalayan cave, but what is he doing? He is meditating. He may not come into the world and talk sweetly or help humanity the way humanity wants to be helped. But when he identifies with the Supreme, his prayers and goodwill for humanity in the inner world are infinitely more effective and more powerful than any so-called philanthropy or service he could offer in the outer world.

When a Yogi sends forth his soul's will-power and light, it immediately covers the length and breadth of the world. If one enters into the inner world, one will immediately discover the power of a Yogi's goodwill. The Yogi is certainly helping humanity, but in his own way. So if people say that the spiritual Masters who are in the Himalayan caves are not doing anything for the world, they are mistaken. These spiritual Masters are doing something in the inner world which is very important and significant. Only those who have inner vision can see, feel and realise it.

There have been many spiritual figures who have stayed in caves in the mountain-tops and offered their soul's light and soul's concern to humanity. They are doing the right thing because their inner beings are telling them to help humanity in this way. Again, some Yogis operate in this way because they are afraid to mix with the world. They think that the moment they come into the world they will lose their aspiration or realisation; they will be caught again in the meshes of ignorance. So they say, "I have come out of bondage; now let me help the world from a distance." They see that the world is suffering, but they want to offer their help only from a distance. But the dynamic and heroic souls are not afraid of the world. They feel that they can identify with the world and, at the same time, maintain their inner power and inner oneness with God. They say: "Let us give what we have. To help even one individual we are ready to come into the world and mix with the world."

Question: How can I trust my discrimination and know what is the right thing to do in my life?

Sri Chinmoy: How do you know whether you are making the right decision? There is an inner being that will tell you what to do. God has given you something called conscience. Conscience will tell you how to discriminate. Perhaps a friend of yours is going to steal something and he wants you to help him. In this case, your conscience will simply say, "No, no, I don't want to be a thief." You don't want to be a thief. Why? Not because you will be caught red-handed and put into jail, but because your inner being, your conscience, tells you that stealing is something wrong, bad and undivine.

In the spiritual life also your conscience will tell you what to do and what not to do. But in order to use your conscience as a guide, you have to be very careful. You have to remain calm and quiet; otherwise, your vital being will imitate the voice of your conscience and confuse you. It will make you feel that what you are doing is right, even though it is wrong. You don't have to learn how to meditate in order to be calm and quiet for a few minutes. Many times when you are tired and exhausted, you just sit quietly. So you can sit quietly, and when you do, you will hear the voice of your conscience. It will say either "yes" or "no". Only two words it has: "yes" and "no". You want to do something and if it says "yes", then you can do it. If it says "no", then never do it. You should not argue with your conscience; only you should listen to its voice.

Again, you have to know that there is a great difference between knowing what is right and wrong and achieving the right thing. Someone may know in a mental kind of way that God-realisation is good, but he may not cry for realisation. His mind may know that God-realisation is good, but he may not work for it. In your case, you not only know that God-realisation is good, but you go one step further: you pray and meditate. So you are bound to have realisation one day.

You started with conscience. Your conscience or your inner being told you that it was good to meditate. It told you that if you meditated, you would attain peace, light and bliss. You believed the inner message when you got it, and you launched into the spiritual life. When you enter the spiritual life, you not only know what is right but you also get the inner strength to do that very thing. Even a child knows the difference between what is right and what is wrong. But in spite of knowing, he may not have the capacity to do the right thing. But when one follows the spiritual life, one gets the inner strength to do what is right. A thief knows very well that it is not good to steal, but a thief will not have the strength to stop stealing, while someone who follows the spiritual life will definitely have the strength to realise God. So now that you have launched into the spiritual life, you can rest assured that you will not only be able to know what is right, but also to do what is right.

Question: How can I live in God's Beauty?

Sri Chinmoy: The best approach is to see and feel that you are that very thing which you are seeking. You eternally are this reality but, unfortunately, right now you are not aware of it. Therefore, you have to cry for that which you already are. But it has to be a psychic cry. If you really want God's Beauty, then just cry and cry. But first you have to ask yourself if you really want God's Beauty. Is it just mental curiosity that is driving you to this reality, or do you desperately need it? If you feel that you desperately need this reality, if you feel that you want God's Beauty not because it will give you everything but because without God's Beauty you cannot exist, then it becomes the only reality in your life. There can be nothing else for you. At that time, naturally you will be living in God's Beauty.

Question: For the seekers who aspire to realise God, why does God make it so difficult?

Sri Chinmoy: He has not made it difficult for the sincere seekers. For the sincere seekers the road is very short. Only for the doubtful seekers, the road is very long. This moment you feel that God is very kind to you, but the next moment you get some blow or pain and you lose faith. Some unconscious part of you says, "O God, why are You so cruel to me? This morning I meditated well, so how is it that my body is suffering?" This will be your question to God. At that time if you can say, "Although I am suffering such pain, perhaps something infinitely more serious was going to happen to me and God saved me. God is so kind to me." Like this, if you can change your attitude towards God, immediately the road becomes easier. You have some kind of pain, but if you feel that it could have been infinitely worse, then immediately you will see that you are making inner progress. The road is long only for those who do not feel gratitude to God. If you feel that something is bad and deplorable, then immediately think, "Oh, it could have been infinitely worse. It is out of God's infinite Compassion that He has not allowed a worse attack to come." If you have that kind of attitude, then the road becomes very, very easy.

Who actually causes you suffering and pain? It is not God. It is the hostile forces. They come and attack you in the form of disease and suffering. You have to tell them all the time, "I don't need you, I don't want you. I only want God." But when hostile forces attack you, unconsciously you cherish them; you, and most other human beings as well, cherish your suffering. Otherwise, it would not last for long.

Question: Since God is within us and we know that one day we will realise God, why is it necessary to practise Yoga?

Sri Chinmoy: One day we shall realise everything which is natural. God is natural and so naturally we shall realise Him. That is true, but it means that we shall have to wait for Eternity. God has given us a conscious mind and conscious aspiration. If we don't want to use our conscious aspiration, then we can wait. God is not compelling us or forcing us. We can sleep if we want to. But if we consciously pray and meditate, then we will go faster. Everybody will reach the Goal, but he who sleeps will not reach the Goal as fast as he who is running. One day everybody will realise God because in God's Cosmic Vision, He will never allow anyone to remain unrealised. But it will take a very long time. Again, if we want to wait, no harm; we can wait.

Question: How did we ever lose God?

Sri Chinmoy: God is within and without. We have not lost God; it is only that we do not care for Him. It is up to us to decide what to eat. If we don't want to eat a particular food, if we feel that it is not meant for us, then how can we go and blame others when we don't eat it? Food in this case, is God-realisation. It is there for us, but we don't want it. Right in front of us are both ignorance and knowledge. Unfortunately, we make friends with ignorance; that is why we live in constant doubt. If we remain in the soul, then we see and feel our constant oneness with God. But instead, we stay in the physical mind, which is totally unlit. It does not know anything. What we say one minute the mind will doubt or forget the next minute, because the mind is all ignorance. But if we remain in the soul, then even what we did hundreds of years ago in past incarnations, we will know.

He who lives in the soul, he who cares for God and cries for God, will never say that he has lost God. The moment a child cries for something, he gets it from his father. If we cry for Peace, Light and Bliss from our Eternal Father, then He will give it to us. If we cry for God, then He will come before us. So nothing is denied us; only we do not care for it. If we don't feel a sincere need for God, then we say that there is no God. But if we cry for God and feel our need for God, then we will see that we never lost God at all.

Question: What do you think of a person who is an atheist?

Sri Chinmoy: We say that someone is an atheist because he says that there is no God. I say that there is a God, but he says, "No God, no God, no God." When he goes to that extreme, he will see that his negative feeling itself is a form of positive feeling. At the extreme he says that there is nothing. But what he calls nothing is, for us, something; and that very thing we call God.

Sometimes the sky is overcast with clouds and there are no stars or moon visible. But we know that when these clouds are dispersed, we will immediately be able to see the moon and the stars. When the clouds disappear we see that there is a moon, there are stars. But an atheist cannot see beyond the clouds; and he stays with the clouds.

Question: Is it important for a spiritual aspirant to have satisfaction?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us say that you have worked hard at something, and now you are going to get the result in the form of an experience. If the experience comes in the form of failure, if you can take it as cheerfully as success, then your satisfaction is perfect. After working if you can gladly accept the result in the form of success or failure, then satisfaction is bound to dawn.

But if you don't work at all just because you are afraid that you will fail, then you will get zero; you will not pass the inner examination. True, there are people who do not work, yet they appear to be satisfied. But they are not actually satisfied. A lazy person, an idle person, can never, never be satisfied for even one minute. On the physical plane, a lazy person's satisfaction means that he does not have to work; he does not even have to climb down the staircase. But although he is satisfied on the physical plane, on the mental plane evil thoughts are making a big hole in his mind. He has stayed five hours in bed after the sun has dawned, so he has got satisfaction by stretching his legs. He is so satisfied because he did not have to budge an inch from his bed. But hostile, undivine forces, unlit emotional forces have all come and entered into him. So what kind of real satisfaction can he have?

If wrong forces enter into you, and you enjoy vital thoughts, then after an hour or two you will get up and cry. When the soul comes forward you will say, "What have I done? My first mistake was not to get up early in the morning. Then my second mistake was to indulge in these vital thoughts." This is what is happening in the spiritual life of many seekers. So I always say, do the right thing. Early in the morning, meditate. After meditation, if you are not very happy or peaceful, if you feel that peace has not descended, just offer your experience up to God. This very act of offering will be your satisfaction.

Part V

FW 430-436. Sri Chinmoy answered these questions at the 11 and 15 August meetings of the Meditation Group.

Question: Sometimes I feel that I regress just as I am beginning to make progress. Why is this?

Sri Chinmoy: You know the saying, "Birds of a feather flock together". You have many friends. In the spiritual life also you need friends. Today you may be disappointed but there is someone, a friend, near you who will lift you up. Tomorrow you may have to lift her up. It is absolutely necessary to have spiritual friends. You can create friends overnight in the ordinary world. But to have a true spiritual friend is God's true blessing which you will treasure.

Sometimes in spite of your earnest aspiration to feed your soul, you don't have enough inner wealth. How are you going to buy the aspiration necessary to feed your soul? You have to go to a place where spiritual people are praying and meditating. They will help you immensely, and you will be able to help them. You will speak to them on the phone, you will be with them and mix with them, and you will see that you are throwing abundant light on their life of aspiration. If you feel that it is impossible to be under the guidance of a spiritual Master, you will need the company of spiritual friends.

Eventually, you will feel the necessity of finding someone who can consciously feed your soul, a spiritual Master. He has the capacity to feed your soul and when he does so, you will see that everything goes right. Your inner world is flooded with joy and delight. If you want to remain in the highest, purest joy, then you must follow the path of a spiritual Master. He makes a conscious promise to your soul and to your outer being that he is responsible for your outer and inner life. He will make you feel that the outer and the inner must go together. The inner must energise the entire being so that the outer will fulfil its role.

Yoga and life can never be separated. What life wants is fulfilment, and this takes millions of years. But if Yoga is accepted, it expedites the process. What would take twenty years to get, you can achieve in two years or even two seconds if you follow Yoga. Yoga means union with God's Will. Yoga greatly expedites realisation. Since God is omniscient and omnipotent, God can give you what He wishes in a matter of seconds. If you do not enter into the spiritual life, it will take you thousands of incarnations to realise God. But if you follow Yoga devotedly under the guidance of a God-realised spiritual Master, then in one or two or three incarnations you are bound to get realisation.

If you feel that your outer life is one thing and Yoga is something else, then you are making a Himalayan mistake. Yoga is conscious oneness with God's entire existence. So if you want to expedite your soul's journey and make faster progress in your outer life, as well as your inner life, Yoga is the answer. When God's Will becomes your will, you can achieve everything sooner than at once. If your will is not one with God's Will, then no matter how hard you work or how sincere you are, it will be impossible for you to attain to your highest.

In conclusion, you will never regress if you accept Yoga, the path of inner discipline. Union with God is the fulfilment of the soul in the inner life as well as in the outer life.

Question: How can I get rid of expectation?

Sri Chinmoy: You can get rid of your expectation by knowing that most of your expectations end not only in frustration, but also in self-destruction. Anything that attempts to destroy you is not healthy. So do not expect anything; just do the needful. Then you will get infinitely more than you expected. If you play the role of expectation, then at each moment you will want something more. If you do not expect anything, but only do what you feel is best, then your expectation will be fulfilled beyond your imagination.

Question: How can we overcome vital forces?

Sri Chinmoy: If we invoke purity, all our vital problems can be solved. Purity, purity, purity. Purity is so important in the seeker's life. Nothing is as important as purity. Every day you should meditate on purity. If you practise breathing, every time you breathe in, try to repeat "Supreme" seven times. If you can't do it seven times, then you do it three times. When you are breathing out, again repeat "Supreme" three times. Each time you breathe in, if you can say "Supreme" three times, you will feel that you are bringing down universal Purity into your physical system. And while you are breathing out, feel that you are breathing out all your rubbish and ignorance. It helps considerably.

Question: What is the worst impurity?

Sri Chinmoy: The worst impurity is a negative thought. When you are impure, you think, "I cannot do it. I cannot do the right thing. I cannot think of God or meditate on God. I cannot see the Light or the Truth." This is doubt. It is the worst possible impurity.

We always have to see the light in a positive way. I may say that I have light in a very tiny, infinitesimal measure. But if I say, "I don't have any light at all. All I have is darkness," then I am fooling myself. Again, if an ordinary human being says that he has abundant and boundless light, then he too is fooling himself.

If you think that you have no light at all and that you are all darkness, this is false modesty and self-deception. False modesty and self-deception will never lead us to God-realisation. If you constantly think, "I am impure, I am insincere," then you really become impure and insincere. Somebody may say to you, "I am impure," but when he says this, he feels in the back of his mind that he is at least one iota more sincere than his neighbour, his friend, or somebody else. He tries to make others think he is sincere by exercising his false modesty. In this way insincerity also comes from impurity. So insincerity, imperfection and negative thought are all forms of impurity.

When we see something inside ourselves, we try to exhibit it outwardly. If I have insincerity inwardly, then I demonstrate it outwardly also. That is to say, if I have insincerity inwardly, then I will take refuge outwardly in the house of insincerity. But if I am sincere and pure inside, then outwardly I will take shelter in the house of purity and sincerity.

So the worst impurity includes negative ways of thinking, insincerity and the feeling of unworthiness. All these negative qualities are self-imposed.

Question: How do we reinforce our spiritual aspiration when we feel it is wavering?

Sri Chinmoy: When aspiration is wavering, there are various ways to reinforce it. When aspiration is wavering, we find it difficult to go deep within. We hate to meditate and even if we meditate, the meditation is not good. But what should we do at that time? We should read inspiring books written by God-realised souls or other seekers who are searching for God. Then we should feel that the seeker we are reading about is no one else but us. We should feel each idea, each thought or heart's cry of aspiration as our own. The writer has used his name, but it is our feeling that he has written about our own aspiration. We will see when we read the seeker's devoted writings that his cry is our cry. As he is going towards light, we should feel that we also want to go towards the light. Or if we read books by the Masters who are realised and who have become one with God's Consciousness, we will try to feel all the time that Compassion is being showered on our soul, our heart, mind and vital from his writings. We will feel that Compassion-light is descending on us when we are reading his book.

We have to know that the spiritual life is neither a bed of thorns nor a bed of roses. There are always deserts in life's journey. Everybody has to go through the desert in his aspiration; but there comes a time when there is no desert. It is light out now. The daylight is followed by night and again night by day. But the time comes in our inner aspiration when we enter into a deeper consciousness, a deeper being. We become one with our soul. When we are able to listen to the dictates of our soul, when we are in communion with God, then our consciousness is full of light. Each thought, each idea is full of light. Then there is no night. It is all light. That is the very highest state.

When we are in an ordinary state, when we are seeking and crying and weeping, the best thing is to read the books of spiritual aspirants or Masters. Or we can mix with brother or sister disciples who are not having the same difficulties. Suppose that today we find it difficult to meditate. Then we can go to our brother or sister and they will lift us up. They will say something very good about the aspiration they saw in us about two months ago. Or they may say something about God or about our Guru that will lift us up. The same thing may happen to them sometime later and then they will come to us. To have brother and sister disciples is the greatest blessing for spiritual aspirants. There are seekers whose Gurus have left the body and who do not have sister and brother disciples. When their aspiration wanes, they stay at home and cry and weep, and eventually they are consoled. But the easiest way to get aspiration is to go to another disciple and he or she will elevate our consciousness. They will enter into us and bring out our own light, which has now been covered with depression, trouble, misery and anxiety.

Question: How can I know if an inspiration comes from God or my heart or soul, rather than my mind?

Sri Chinmoy: When you approach the Supreme with the mind, all the time you will doubt whether you are doing the right thing. At that time you will think, "Will He be nice to me? Will He be kind to me?" All these thoughts and ideas will come to you. If you get the inner message to see somebody — your boss or anybody — you will simply go and see that person. But if the inspiration is from the mind, before you see him, there will be many questions in your mind. Then, if you finally do see him and have not turned back, if the result does not come out according to your satisfaction, you will curse yourself and say, "No, it was not the right thing to do. I got the wrong message."

But if the message comes from the soul, I tell you, you will have tremendous conviction, and both success and failure you will take with the same satisfaction. You will feel this way because you got the message and you executed it. While you are executing the message, you will not expect anything in your own way. You will not expect that he will speak to you or you will get a particular thing done, no. Only you will do it, and then the result will come either in the form of success or failure. In this way you will be able to know if a message comes from within.

Sometimes some of you feel, "If God asked me to do this, how is it that I failed?" But you can fail even if you have done God's Will, because God may only be having an experience in and through you. Sometimes I ask you people to do something and you are not successful in doing it. Then you will say, "Guru was wrong." No, I was not wrong, but the Supreme wanted me to tell you to have an experience. If you feel that because I told you to do something, then you are bound to get success, you are mistaken. I always say that success is not what we are aiming at; we are aiming at progress. Your progress is to have faith in me, and my progress is to have faith in you and in the Supreme. Your faith in me is your progress and my faith that when I ask you to do something, you will do it — that is my progress.

So if you get the message from the heart, from the real heart which is identified with the soul, then I tell you the result will not bother you. Otherwise, if you get the message from the mind, then before you even act, hundreds of questions will enter into you. And if the result, according to your vision, is not satisfactory, then you will be puzzled. You may say that the message you got from the soul is false. But it is not false. Only it is an experience that God wants to have in and through you.

Question: How can we maintain a good standard consistently, instead of going up and down?

Sri Chinmoy: Please feel that every day is equally important. It is like this. Suppose a runner has to run one hundred metres in order to reach his goal. Now, after covering twenty metres at top speed, he feels that since he is running so fast, he is going to reach the goal in a second. Then relaxation comes. Then for ten or twenty metres if you watch his time, you will see that his speed has decreased considerably. Then again if he sees that some other runners are approaching him, if he comes to realise that his speed has fallen, at that time again he starts to run the fastest. But if the runner knows that once the starter has fired the gun, from the beginning to the end he has to maintain top speed, then only is he able to win the race; or, let us say he will really be pleased with his speed, he will be proud of his speed.

In the spiritual life, what happens? Today you have done wonderful meditation and then you feel, "Oh, since today I have done such wonderful meditation, tomorrow I can relax." You feel that with today's meditation you will maintain the same speed tomorrow, but it does not happen in that way. Tomorrow again you have to make yourself feel that your new achievement has to be tremendous. Our difficulty is that when we do something well, we feel that we deserve some relaxation; otherwise, our satisfaction does not dawn. Satisfaction first dawns for us when we do something well and then when we don't do anything at all, we feel that still we deserve the same result. It is our due. But every day when we meditate, we have to feel that this is the last day for us. Tomorrow we are going to die. We know that we are in the Heart of the Eternal Supreme, the Infinite, but we have to feel that today is the last day for us to aspire, absolutely the last day. Today if we fail, then we will get zero. We will be out of the race. Then, when tomorrow comes, again we have to feel, "Today if I don't realise God, then I am gone. I am doomed. I shall have to wait for another five thousand years." This way if you aspire, then your sincerity will come to the fore. Always make yourself feel that today is absolutely the last day for your God-realisation.

The hour has struck. The teacher will give you only two hours to complete your examination. In two hours' time, even if you cannot complete your papers, still the examination is over. Then tomorrow, again you sit for the examination and you feel that tomorrow is the last day. But today while the teacher is giving you the examination, please don't feel that tomorrow again the teacher will give the same examination, that tomorrow again you will have the time to complete the examination. Once the teacher stands in front of you, feel that today is the last day. Either you pass or you fail. Today if you fail, then don't feel that tomorrow again you will sit for the examination. Absolutely forget about today's job. The past is gone. It is dead. You don't have to think about the future. Feel that the future also does not exist. If the future does not exist, if the past does not exist, then what exists for us? We have only the present. Here in the present we have to be either totally divine or we shall remain undivine, as we were yesterday. So, since we want to become divine, let us do the right thing. Let us make ourselves fit instruments. We have only today. Then again, when tomorrow comes. with a new hope we can say that today is a new day for us.

Always say, "Today is the only chance I have, absolutely the last chance." Then you are bound to get a good meditation. Otherwise, there is no goal. If you feel, "Oh, now I am only twenty-eight. At the age of seventy-eight I will realise God," then you will never realise God. Perhaps at the age of thirty or forty God will call you to the other side. When the time comes for you to go to the other world, whether you are seventy, eighty or ninety, it is up to God, you have to go. You don't know when it will be, so you should make yourself feel that today is the last day for you to achieve everything that you are supposed to achieve. Then, today if you fail, tomorrow again you have to feel that you have the same opportunity. But if you feel that the opportunity will again come and knock at your door, then you are lost. Today if you waste your aspiration or if you feel that you don't need aspiration because you have so many tomorrows, I tell you, before many tomorrows come, everything will be gone. But if today is the last day, then your sincerity, your aspiration, all your divine qualities will come to the fore. You want to reach the goal, you want to run so you will definitely reach the goal.

Editor's preface to the first edition

For a number of years, Sri Chinmoy has been serving the United Nations as spiritual leader of the United Nations Meditation Group, recently renamed Sri Chinmoy Meditation at the United Nations. In this capacity, he has been offering regular meditations and lectures for United Nations delegates and staff since the spring of 1970. At these sessions, members of the United Nations community have often asked him spiritual questions, which he has answered extemporaneously. This book is part of a series which compiles all of these questions and answers.

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This book series can be cited using cite-key fw-12