Flame-Waves, part 4

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Question: How would you define ultimate Truth?

Sri Chinmoy: In the world of the mind, we feel if we can get our Ph.D. we will have the ultimate Truth in terms of outer knowledge. But when we actually get our Ph.D., if we are sincere, we feel it is just the beginning, a starting point for a vaster, more profound knowledge. If a person is sincere, even when he gets his degree he will feel that there are millions of things which he does not know even in the outer plane, not to speak of the inner plane.

Ultimate Truth we do not define, we cannot define. The ultimate Truth, like the ultimate Goal, is constantly going beyond its own height. As there is no end to our progress, no end to our achievement, so also there is no end to the ultimate Truth. What we achieve in our eternal Godward journey is the experience of the ever-transcending Truth.

The ultimate Truth is like God-realisation. The realisation of a Master who has been perfecting his realisation for several lifetimes on earth will be infinitely higher than that of a Master who has just attained his realisation yesterday.

In the spiritual life, the ultimate Truth or the ultimate Goal is only the farthest horizon of today’s vision. As far as we can see, from where we stand, is the ultimate Truth for us, so we try to go there. But the closer we get to that Goal, the farther we can see beyond it. At first we think the ultimate Truth is to become inseparably one with God. But when we do become inseparably one with God, we see that we can go much farther if we want to. We have to become conscious and spiritual instruments, divine instruments of God. God-realisation is just the starting point for God-revelation, which takes us to a higher level. Then comes God-manifestation, which again can be infinitely expanded.

Today’s ultimate Truth for a seeker can be the attainment of divine Peace, Light and Bliss. But when he gets these qualities in abundant measure he wants them in infinite measure. In infinity there is no boundary, only constant transcendence. In the spiritual life, the Ultimate is never a finality, a fixed place, because the inner urge is always to surpass and go beyond, beyond, beyond. The ultimate Truth of today is the starting point for another, higher ultimate Truth tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow that new Truth becomes a starting point for the realisation of a Truth still higher. This process is what is happening to God in His own Life. God created the world, and He Himself is evolving ever higher in and through us. In the process of evolution we cannot say what the end will be.

Question: How can I acquire lasting inner joy?

Sri Chinmoy: By constant, unconditional self-giving. Each time we give something of ourselves unconditionally, God immediately gives us in return something of His own. If we give to humanity what we have — just a little concern, just a little love — immediately something divine will spontaneously enter into us.

Suppose you give five dollars to a human being. Naturally you expect something in return, if only a smile or a “thank you” or some recognition. Give and take is the law of life on earth. In divine giving, you have to feel that your task is to give the person five dollars because you have received an inner command from within. As soon as you have given you feel that the transaction is complete, and then your role is over. That is the divine way of giving.

Now, inside that particular person there is someone, and that someone is God. In some way God will immediately give you joy by expanding your heart, your consciousness, your aspiration. But if you expect to get something from the other person, you are the real loser. God simply says, “All right, since you want to settle your own account, I don’t want to be involved. You give him five dollars and he will give you something in return. The shopkeeper and the customer are there; it is a business deal. They don’t need Me in their business.” If you behave in this way you will never get real, abiding joy. Even if, after you do someone a favour, that person gives you back something in boundless measure, far beyond your imagination, still you will not get abiding joy. But if you just give what you feel from within, whether it is money or love or concern or anything that is yours, then a third person, God, will give you what He has. He will give you immediately His Love, His Pride, His boundless Peace, Light and Bliss.

Unfortunately, in today’s world we do not do anything unconditionally. We do not even meditate unconditionally for a minute. When we sit to meditate, we expect a little Light or a little joy. But are we beggars? We are related to the Supreme as a child is related to his father or mother. He is our Father, He is our Mother, He is everything to us. Now if He asks us inwardly to think of Him, to meditate on Him, we shall do it out of our boundless love for Him. The rest entirely depends on Him.

The moment we pray, we have to know that this capacity has come from God. The moment we meditate, we have to feel that this capacity has come directly from Him. If He has given us the capacity to pray and meditate, will He not also give us the capacity to receive His Light and Bliss? Giving is a form of capacity and receiving is also a form of capacity. He will automatically give us this capacity if we do not expect or demand anything from Him.

We make our lives miserable because of our expectations, either from relatives, from friends or from associates. Even when we expect something from ourselves, which we think we can legitimately expect, we are disappointed. Also, expectation ruins the divine nature of a selfless action. The moment we expect something from someone, we unconsciously or consciously push or pull ourselves beyond our capacity. Then we enter into terrible confusion. But if we love the reality and divinity in ourselves and in others, then the Supreme in that reality and divinity will give us much more than we expect.

No human being on earth can give us lasting joy; it is only the Supreme within us who can inundate us with lasting Peace and Bliss. No matter how many times I smile at you, no matter how popular you are with others, you will not get satisfactory joy. But if you play your role divinely, you will get gifts from the Supreme. And any gift from the Supreme’s Light is bound to give you abiding joy.

The Supreme gives either from deep within us or through another individual. He does not have to appear in front of us in a most luminous form. No, He can give us this abiding joy in many ways. He may reward us in a personal way or in an impersonal way. We have simply to play our role, and the Supreme will offer us abiding joy in His own Way. We do not know what His Way is. So let us leave it up to Him to do as He pleases with us and for us.

Question: I have had the experience that, when we try to help others, sometimes a kind of barrier builds up in ourselves and also in those we try to help. Could you speak about this.

Sri Chinmoy: Our world still is not the ideal world. At times unconsciously, if not consciously, the world takes away some divine qualities from us. It is not that we do not want to share our divine qualities; but it is just that the world exploits and misuses them. So I feel that there are times when we have to be careful. We are generous. We have come into the world to aspire and, at the same time, to illumine the world. But we have to know who is worthy and who is unworthy. Just because we are all God’s children it is very easy for us to feel that everybody in the world is worthy. But let us take it in this way: who is ready and who is not ready? Many times we have observed that there are some people who are not ready. When we try to awaken their consciousness, when we try to help them or serve the divine in them, their vital immediately feels a great resentment. And this resentment takes the form of a wall between them and, let us say, our searching mind or struggling, striving vital. Our searching mind has found some truth inside the heart, and it wants to offer this truth to others. Our vital is striving, divinely striving, to give them the light that we are entrusted with. But just because most people are not ready to receive, we feel that there is a strong, solid barrier between our realisation and our self-giving.

When we see a partition in ourselves, it means that we are not always one hundred per cent consciously one with our Source. We are of the divine and for the divine; we are of the Supreme and for the Supreme. But it happens many times that, even though we are very sincere and devoted, when we give we expect something in return: either recognition or progress in the persons we have served. Even if they do not recognise or acknowledge our self-giving, we immediately expect some success, or let us say, some kind of gradual progress or growth in their life of inner aspiration. We are giving, giving, giving; but if we do not notice the world receiving, then at times we are frustrated. We feel that earth does not deserve us. We may wonder if we are doing the right thing, since these people are not making any progress. We may even doubt our own sincerity.

But these thoughts are wrong. We are doing absolutely the right thing because we are inspired and commissioned from within. Earth will eventually receive our light, but right now earth is not ready. If the Supreme tells us that someone needs more sleep, that we shouldn’t awaken him, then we shall not approach that particular person. But if the Supreme within us tells us that we have to serve the Supreme in someone even though that person is sleeping, even though he is unwilling and reluctant to receive our light, then we shall do that too, because we are His instruments. Every day we have to think of ourselves as a little child of five or six years old. If we are asked by our Eternal Father to offer something, then He Himself will tell us whom to offer it to.

The human heart sometimes makes us feel that it is so big that it is ready to help everyone. But this is absurd. There is something called God’s Hour. God’s Hour need not and cannot be the same for each and every person. Today it is my Hour, tomorrow it is yours, the day after it is time for somebody else. It is not that some people are bad, or that God does not like them. No! He loves all equally, but for some the hour has not yet dawned.

God is progressing in and through us. On the one hand He is Transcendental; He is all Divine and absolutely Supreme. On the other hand, at every moment He is progressing in and through that particular moment and through each individual life during that moment. In the finite, He is singing the song of Infinity, His own Infinity. Now, in the process of evolution, He is trying to perfect everybody. But He knows His own development best; He knows how much He wants to achieve in and through you today and how much He wants to achieve in and through me. We cannot expect the same kind of treatment or same kind of light for each individual, because God Himself has not created the same capacity and receptivity for everyone.

God is trying to divinely and supremely enjoy Himself. But if we try to increase somebody’s capacity or receptivity by virtue of our own will, we are doing the wrong thing. Let us become God’s Will; let His Will flow through us. And then He Himself will tell us who is the right person to help. In this way we shall go to the right person today and go tomorrow to someone else who will be the right person then. If we approach the right person timely, then we will see that there can be no barrier or partition, because the right person is always ready to receive us and welcome us. But if we go to the wrong person, he will not welcome us and there will be confusion; and in this confusion frustration will loom large. So, let us try to approach the right person at God’s choice Hour, and then we will see that God is fulfilled, we are fulfilled and the world of aspiration is fulfilled in and through us.

Again, sometimes we feel a barrier or a wall in ourselves because at one moment we are identified with the soul and the next moment we are identified with the mind and vital. It is like this. The soul and the heart are one side, and the mind, vital and physical are the other side. Between them there is all the time a barrier. At this moment we call the mind the sole reality, the next moment we call the vital the only reality, and the following moment we regard the heart as the only reality. These are all realities, but the only real reality is God, and the direct representative of God’s Reality is the soul.

Now, just as the soul is the representative of God, the heart is the representative of the soul. The heart and the soul are trying to perfect the mind so that it can represent the psychic being, the soul and the heart. Then, when the mind becomes illumined, the mind will have the vital as its representative. Similarly, the vital will have the body as its representative, and when the body becomes pure and the physical consciousness is aspiring, then the body also will become a perfect instrument.

Reality is a most complicated experience in ordinary earth life, but in the higher planes it is most simple and most fulfilling. When we enter into the lower plane, or the physical plane, there the reality is very uncertain. There the reality is just what we see with our own eyes. Let us say that we are seeing a flower, and that this flower is the reality for us. But as soon as we go a little deeper within, or come into a higher level of consciousness, we do not see the flower as such. The reality is no longer the flower, but the fragrance of the flower or the beauty of the flower. Here on the physical plane, the flower is the reality and the fragrance, which is the inner reality, we can’t appreciate. And the beauty, which is still higher, we do not notice at all. So the thing that is reality on the physical plane need not and cannot be the same kind of reality on the inner plane.

Again, there are many things which we see on the physical plane as real which are absolutely unreal. When a thought comes from the mental world, in our everyday life it is absolutely real and concrete for us. But when we go deep within, immediately the thought vanishes; like a drop, it melts into the ocean of the Will. So what is a reality on the physical plane, such as a thought, is not at all a reality on the inner plane. On the inner plane, the reality is Divinity, Immortality and Perfection. On the outer plane, things that are real to us may not or need not be eternal. But on the inner plane, only what is eternal and fulfilling is real. So there is a great difference between reality on the physical plane and reality on the inner plane.

The outer world has a very mighty weapon, doubt; and the inner world has a most powerful weapon, faith. If we remain in the outer world more than the inner world, its doubt-weapon attacks us. Even though our own existence and our own powerful faith-weapon are inseparable, when we live in the outer world doubt fights against our faith and weakens us.

Now when we feel a barrier between one reality and another reality, between our mind-reality and our heart-reality or between what we have to offer and what we try to give, our spiritual life becomes a barren desert. Not only seekers, but almost all spiritual Masters have gone through this barren desert. Even spiritual Masters of a very high order, like Vivekananda and others, used to confess that they went through periods when they could not meditate at all. They entered into the world arena and offered their Peace, Love, Light and everything they could. But then they felt a kind of frustration because their Light was not accepted and the progress they expected from humanity was not achieved.

Here we are all seekers. If we find ourselves in a barren desert, if we find that multifarious thoughts or ideas are entering into us and making it impossible for us to meditate, we can do one thing. We can offer our gratitude to the Supreme, to the Inner Pilot. We can offer one minute of soulful gratitude that the Supreme has given us the divine aspiration to be of service to mankind, to the Supreme in mankind. If, even for a fleeting minute, we can offer Him our soulful gratitude, then immediately the barrier that exists between the mind and the heart in our inner being disappears. For the power of our gratitude immediately makes us one with God’s Reality. And there is no power either on earth or in our inner existence which can ever be as powerful as our soulful gratitude.

When we look for the word “gratitude” in the mind, it is something dry, silly and unnecessary. When we look for the word “gratitude” in the vital, immediately we see that the word does not even exist. And in the physical, gratitude is all the time dormant. But if we live in the aspiring heart and can become one with the Supreme on the strength of our gratitude, then there can be no dry periods; there can be no wall, no barrier, no undivine forces that delay our progress. When we have gratitude, we are like a flower that petal by petal is blossoming in the Heart of the Supreme. This flower is full of fragrance, and its fragrance constantly illumines, energises and fulfils the human in us, the divine in us and the Supreme in us.

When our gratitude-flower blossoms, the dormant, sleeping humanity also begins to blossom, because our gratitude will have entered into God’s choice Hour. When we enter into God’s Heart with our gratitude, He expedites His own Hour for His children, for He feels that some of His children are more than ready to serve and please Him in His other children who are still sleeping.

Everybody cannot be a chosen instrument. Everybody cannot play the role of a king, true. But everybody can serve God according to his own capacity. When God has given someone the capacity to illumine others, to serve Him in others in abundant measure, it is that person’s duty to clear the way if there is any obstruction, if there is any thorn on the road. And we can easily free the rose from the thorn when we see gratitude growing inside our heart.

The Supreme has made you the chosen instrument to illumine and increase the aspiration of hundreds and thousands of people. If you play your role as a conscious instrument, then in your conscious awareness you become a river that is flowing with all its light, love and dynamic energy towards the sea of Enlightenment. When you and the rest of humanity have become one, and when you enjoy this oneness divinely, there can be no partition, no barrier, no desert. It is all ever-increasing Bliss and ever-transcending Freedom.

Question: How can we remain unaffected by other people's undivine consciousness without cutting ourselves off from them?

Sri Chinmoy: In order to be unaffected by the undivine consciousness of others you have to surcharge your body, vital, mind and heart with peace and purity. Peace and purity go together. The more peace you have within you, the more purity you will have, and the more purity you have, the more peace you will have. When you have peace and purity, at that time you will not be affected by others.

Now, you don’t want to be affected by other persons’ undivine consciousness and, at the same time, you don’t want to cut off all connection with them, you would like to be of some help to them. What you have to do is try to feel that you are standing on the bank of a river. The others are drowning in the river, and you are offering them your hand to catch hold of. But in order to be of help, you yourself have to remain all the time safe. If you jump into the river to save them, then you also will drown.

So first you have to concern yourself with your own salvation, your own protection. First you have to make yourself very strong, very powerful inwardly, and only then can you try to help others. If you have a big heart and want to help others and give them some inner light, but if you are not strong enough, then you are making a deplorable mistake. Not only will you fail to help them, but you will also lose what little inner light you have and end up in the same position they are in. In a school, if a teacher knows a little more than a student, he can teach. If someone has finished high school, he can easily teach the kindergarten class, because his knowledge is much greater than that of his students. But the spiritual life unfortunately is not like that. In the spiritual life, if one is only an inch higher than somebody else in terms of inner awakening, or if one has only a few drops more of inner Peace, Light and Bliss, then that person should not try to help the other person. If he does so, the other person’s ignorance will literally devour him. Suppose you have five drops of spiritual consciousness, or fifty drops or five hundred or five thousand drops, and the other person does not have a single drop. Still, you have to know that he has something else; he has five million drops of poison. So you have to be very careful. If the other person has many undivine qualities, then your little drop of love or joy or peace or bliss will be of no help to him at all. And worse, you will be devoured by his sea of poison and of ignorance. So the best thing is to make yourself as powerful and strong as possible. Then, no matter who is around you or wherever you are, you will be in a position to offer your light without being affected. That is the right way.

Question: If our fulfilment lies in our utter consecration to the life divine, could you say something about consecration.

Sri Chinmoy: In the divine life, consecration is fulfilment; but this fulfilment is not the fulfilment of the vital. Let us say you have achieved something or you are successful in a particular field of life. This is a kind of fulfilment. But this fulfilment we regard as success and not as progress. Consecration means an upward journey, or inward journey or forward journey. Each time we consecrate our body, mind, heart and soul to a higher or inner cause, we are proceeding forward; we are climbing upward and diving inward. And this movement is continuous progress.

Consecration is self-giving. To whom? To the divine in us, to the divine in others. It is through self-giving that we eventually become God-like. So let us consecrate our existence, our divinity, our inner cry, our good qualities to the divine in others. Each human being houses a few good qualities and a few bad qualities. If we offer our own good qualities to the good qualities of others, they become most powerful. Then it is like two persons in a tug-of-war against ignorance; in this case, naturally the divine shall win. This is the correct and safe way to transform ignorance and change the face of the world. But if we consecrate ourselves to the undivine, to our undivine vital or mind or to somebody else’s, then our own divinity enters into the undivine and increases the power of the undivine.

If, out of pity or compassion, we say, “Oh, what is the use of dealing with the divine, for it is always divine. Let us deal with the undivine, for it is the undivine that needs change,” then we have to be very careful. When we consecrate our existence to ignorance with a view to transforming it, we have to know whether or not our power is sufficient. Our power is like an army, a divine army fighting an undivine army. Now, if our power is not strong enough, the divine army will lose and become the slave of the undivine army. When we lose to ignorance, ignorance utilises us for its own purpose to destroy the whole world. So if we consecrate our spiritual life to transforming the undivine, if we lose in the battlefield of life, then we will become true soldiers of the undivine forces. So if we are not powerful enough alone to transform someone else’s ignorance, then let us side with the divine of that individual and together conquer ignorance. But if we are very powerful, very strong, then we can accept the challenge of the undivine forces, for we know we can defeat them. And once we conquer ignorance, we try to change its existence and essence so that it, too, can become a perfect instrument of the divine.

Question: Is there any way that we can meditate specifically to help the United Nations?

Sri Chinmoy: Inside your heart there is the soul, the direct representative of God. You feel that when the soul comes to the fore, you will have abiding satisfaction from life; that is why you pray and meditate every day. So when you meditate here at the United Nations, please feel that inside the body of the United Nations, this building, there is a soul — most powerful, most illumining and most fulfilling — which has to come forward. If you can feel the presence of the soul of the United Nations, then your meditation will be most helpful.

There are many, many who are not present here today to meditate with us. But when they work for the United Nations most devotedly and selflessly, they are doing their meditation in their own way. The soul of the United Nations blesses these people and offers them its gratitude.

All those who are working at the United Nations are unconsciously being illumined by the soul of the United Nations. And all those who are aspiring in their own way are deriving special blessings from the soul of the United Nations.

The soul of the United Nations embodies the dream of the United Nations: peace, brotherhood and oneness founded upon self-giving and the recognition of universality in the heart of each individual. If you can cultivate these sublime ideas or ideals during your meditation, you will most effectively and most fruitfully help the soul of the United Nations. In this way, the soul of the United Nations, and eventually the body which houses the soul, will find their true significance.

The United Nations is a world-wide organisation. During your meditation, if you can concentrate on the seed, which is the soul, then in the course of time this seed will grow into a plant and eventually into a huge tree which will serve and shelter the entire world. The soul embodies, in essence, the infinite capacity of the Supreme. If we can bring to the fore the capacities of the soul, on the strength of our sincere, dedicated, devoted and soulful meditation, we will serve the United Nations most fruitfully in the way the Supreme wants us to serve and fulfil it.

Question: How do you eradicate negativities and imperfections in the soul?

Sri Chinmoy: There is no negativity in the soul. The soul is all divinity and perfection. The soul is our divine, immortal existence on earth; its source is Light. The soul carries the message of perfection within us.

We feel that whatever is inside our heart is the soul, but this is not true. Inside our heart is the vital as well, and inside the vital is a lower vital, an aggressive vital, a destructive vital. Since we are not aware of the presence of the soul, whatever we feel inside our body, vital and mind we take as the soul. There are many wrong, undivine tendencies and movements within us, but these have nothing to do with the soul. What we should actually feel is that these are enemies that have entered into our living room. We wanted to have only our friends, but in an unguarded moment we opened the door and at that time our enemies entered. These enemies we have to either transform or throw out. We cannot stay with them unless we can transform them into our true friends.

How can we do this? We do it through conscious and continuous effort. When we want to learn something, we practise or study for hours and hours. Similarly, if we want to be perfect in our life of aspiration, then we have to pray and meditate. When our prayer goes up, it reaches the highest Height. And when we meditate most soulfully, Peace, Light and Bliss descend into us in abundant measure. If we want to know how we can perfect our nature, then we have to bring to the fore the presence of the soul. Then these wrong forces within us are automatically illumined and perfected.

Question: About two weeks ago, a Hatha Yoga Master came to the United Nations and said that first you must conquer and overcome the body and only then can the Supreme be manifested. What are your feelings about this?

Sri Chinmoy: It is true that the body has to be a perfect instrument of the spirit. But we have to know that for the body to be a perfect instrument, it need not be a perfect body. The world’s best athletes, the world’s strongest men, are not necessarily manifesting the divine Will unless they are conscious instruments. God only knows when these people will accept the spiritual life. So physical perfection does not indicate receptivity to the spiritual message or the light of the spirit. The message of the spirit, the message of the soul, our heart’s inner cry for God, for Truth, for Light — these things are not connected at all with bodily strength. We become aware of our inner, spiritual life only through prayer and meditation.

If you compare the physical strength of any of the world’s greatest spiritual Masters with the physical strength of the world’s great boxers or wrestlers, the spiritual Masters are nowhere. But if any of these Masters were to challenge a fighter with his spiritual strength, inner strength, soul’s strength, then that fighter would be compelled to surrender. If the Master used his occult power or spiritual power, he could immediately take away the life-energy of the fighter. This has happened in India many times. If somebody mocked at a spiritual Master’s occult and spiritual power, in the twinkling of an eye the Master would make that person so weak and lifeless that he could not even lift up a pencil. In India many years ago, a great wrestler was swimming in the Ganges alongside a spiritual Master. The wrestler was tormenting the Master, pushing him under the water and in every way trying to drown him. Finally, the spiritual Master said, “Now you have played your role. Let me see you lift up your arms.” Then he used his occult power and the wrestler who had been bothering him for about twenty minutes could not even move his arms. He would have drowned if the spiritual Master had not released him. So physical strength in comparison to spiritual strength is nothing, absolutely nothing.

If our body is strong enough and healthy enough to perform its natural functions, and if it is capable of sitting quietly for two hours or three hours without any difficulty or unusual discomfort, that is more than enough. The body has to be a fit instrument, but that does not mean we have to become the strongest or most powerful of men. It is sufficient to have the amount of strength that our body requires in order to stay on earth and play our God-ordained role efficiently. The body needs strength so that it can receive and manifest the message of the spirit. If matter is not strong or receptive, then how can the message of the spirit be manifested in the physical?

Suppose we want to meditate in the morning. If we are physically weak, if we have a stomach ache or headache or some other ailment, then how will we meditate well? That is why we have to give due importance to the body. But due importance does not mean extravagant concern. Early every morning if we exercise for fifteen minutes or so, and if we have a proper diet, that is sufficient. Western exercises are all right, but if we do Indian exercises, asanas, we get a kind of relaxation that helps in meditation. But one can become expert in the Indian system of exercises without attaining any spiritual advantage. There are hundreds of Indian villagers who can do these exercises, but how many incarnations will it take before they even begin to accept the spiritual life?

I do not deny the role of the body. But you have to know how much you can expect from the body. If this body is five-feet-eight, then it will remain five-feet-eight no matter how hard I try to make it taller. A runner may reduce his time if he practises, but eventually he will reach his maximum speed. The body’s capacity is always limited. Its height, its strength, its speed all have a point beyond which they cannot develop. And, after many years, these capacities will gradually decrease. But as long as we continue to pray and meditate, our inner capacities will go on increasing until we grow into something infinite and boundless. Our inner power, inner light, inner wealth have no limit. There is no boundary for the soul within us. Peace, Light and Bliss can be increased in infinite measure. So eternal progress, infinite Peace, Light and Bliss are what we can expect from the spiritual life, whereas temporary fitness is all we can expect from Hatha Yoga or any other form of physical culture, no matter how faithfully and devotedly it is pursued.

Question: Last week you mentioned something about wrestlers and people who are engaged in physical activities, saying that competition on the physical level is not what we are after. Do you feel that people who are professional wrestlers and boxers do not have a place in society?

Sri Chinmoy: They do have a place in society, according to their own development. In God’s creation everything is necessary. A boxer is necessary, a wrestler is necessary. If you are attacked by an undivine person and if a boxer happens to be nearby, the boxer can easily come to your rescue. There is a special time and place for the use of physical strength. But if somebody says that tremendous physical strength will help you to aspire more, that is not true. In fact, those who are deeply involved in training the physical body are usually too preoccupied with the physical to pay proper attention to the spiritual.

Physical strength as such is not bad, but it is very often misused. If someone has more physical strength than somebody else, the stronger person will usually try to dominate the weaker one. This tendency is not at all spiritual. Boxers and wrestlers may be very kind-hearted and most devoted to their friends and to the members of their families. But if they want to use their physical strength undivinely, they can destroy the whole family in a minute. Our highest aim is to become spiritually great, inwardly great, to embody Peace, Light and Truth in infinite measure. For this we do not have to be the strongest person on earth. We only have to know how to aspire. While aspiring we have to keep this physical body in good condition so that we can meditate well.

In the spiritual life we do not dislike anybody. But we have to be very careful about the bad qualities which people embody. So we do not dislike the person; we dislike his undivine qualities. Somebody may have many good qualities and many bad qualities. If we hate or dislike a person, because of a few undivine qualities, then we are not allowing him to increase his divine qualities. But if we love him, all his good qualities will come to the fore, and these good qualities can be utilised for a divine purpose.

Question: What role does the vital being play in our spiritual progress?

Sri Chinmoy: First, there is not just one vital being. Each person can have four, five, six or more. When I speak of the vital being, I am generally speaking of the main vital being in a person. If the vital being does not aspire, then it tries to devour the good qualities of others. Also, at times it becomes very jealous of the achievement of the mental being. There is also more than one mental being in each person. But there is one principal mental being, as there is one main vital being. But if the vital is aspiring, if there is an integral sincerity in one’s aspiration, then the vital being helps the mental and physical beings.

The mental being cares for light. The vital being cares for power. The physical being cares for manifestation. And the heart, the psychic being, cares for total perfection. If the entire existence of the seeker wants God, then the vital, instead of trying to devour or suppress the mental brilliance and good mental qualities, will use its strength to try to help the mental being. The process is something like this: when the mental being is doing something, the vital being comes and says, “Can I be of any use?” The other being immediately says, “Yes, I need this or that to enter into higher illumination.” Then immediately the vital being plays its role. In the same way, the mental being will use its capacities to try to help the psychic being. But this only happens when the seeker aspires in an integral way.

The vital being is like a knife. A knife can be of immense help to us when we want to cut something. But the same knife can be used to stab somebody, too. So if the vital being cares for light, it can be of great help. But if it does not care for light, then it will always act like a hungry wolf. If it wants to, the vital being can spread its wings and shelter the physical being. But also it can simply destroy one’s physical and mental possibilities. But if there is aspiration in the physical being, in the vital being and in the mental being, these beings will never try to destroy each other or be jealous of one another’s achievements. On the contrary, they will act like a most harmonious family. A seeker will never be able to realise the highest Truth unless and until he has achieved harmony among his physical, vital, mental and psychic beings. These beings have to establish a divine harmony before the seeker can realise the Ultimate Truth.

Question: How can we more fully surrender to the Supreme?

Sri Chinmoy: The easiest and most effective way to make our full surrender to the Will of the Supreme is to increase our necessity for Him. In this world, when we feel the necessity of something, immediately we surrender to that necessity. If you feel the necessity of money or material power, what do you do? You surrender to the necessities involved in getting and keeping a good job; you surrender to your boss. If you want to be a good singer, you surrender to the wisdom and capacity of your teacher because you feel that he is superior to you and will be able to show you how to attain your goal. By surrendering to a real authority, we can learn how to achieve our necessities.

Now, the higher authority within us is the Supreme. How do we surrender to Him? First, we must feel the necessity of oneness. When we feel the necessity of inseparable oneness with the Supreme, immediately we offer our will to His Will. Next, we must ask ourselves if we want this oneness to be constant. If it is not constant, at one moment we are inseparable, and the next moment we will be totally separated from Him. This moment if the Supreme says, “Go and sit down,” we will go and sit down. But the next moment we may refuse. We will go and mix with our friends who do not care for the spiritual life at all. At that time, something else becomes our necessity. Our necessity will be to go to the movies or to a party or a dance. When we become one with this undivine necessity, we will see how far we go from the spiritual life. Only if our necessity for oneness with the Supreme becomes unconditional and constant will we be with Him, in Him, of Him and for Him twenty-four hours of every day.

Right now you want to be spiritual. You want to be totally dedicated to the Will of the Supreme, so you have come here to meditate. But you may not be able to meditate as deeply and soulfully all day as you have just done here. However, if you can remember what happened here, how devotedly you prayed to the Supreme, this memory will help you. Here we have been doing dynamic, soulful meditation. But while you are working in the office or talking to your boss or your colleagues, if you can remember what you have done here for an hour, that will give you tremendous inner strength and confidence.

The difficulty is that at the time of our meditation we become totally sincere and cry to become one with the Will of the Supreme, but the moment we come out of meditation we are a totally different person. When we come out of meditation, we identify ourselves with the outer activities of life, and we feel that from them we will get satisfaction. But we will get satisfaction from our outer activities only when we can place our spirituality inside our heart.

When you go back to the office, you have to think of office activities, because if you think all the time of what is happening with your friends and family, your work will not be satisfactory and the boss will fire you. But these thoughts are all on the mental plane. On the inner plane, on the psychic plane, you can think of God to your heart’s content. If you have a large amount of money inside your pocket, nobody is going to see that it is there. Similarly, if you keep the presence, the Light, the Peace which you felt during your meditation inside your heart, nobody will know what wealth you are hiding there. And although it is quite possible for someone to snatch away your money from your pocket, from the heart-pocket no thief can steal away anything.

So when you meditate, please feel that you have stored up a divine treasure trove inside your heart. This treasure is Light, Peace, Bliss and the presence of God which you have felt. If you can establish a permanent feeling of God’s presence inside your heart, then it is not at all difficult to listen to the dictates of the Supreme, to become one with the Will of the Supreme all the time. Even when you talk and mix with people and enter into all kinds of activities, you will not lose your oneness with the Supreme. It is not only possible and practicable to do this, but it is inevitable for each seeker, in the course of time.

Question: When we meditate, to what extent do we represent and are we responsible for humanity and the world?

Sri Chinmoy: We are all seekers here, but unfortunately our level of consciousness is not the same. Each one has his own level of consciousness. If someone’s consciousness is large and illumined, then he feels that he is representing a large section of humanity. If someone has a very vast and fully illumined consciousness, he feels that he alone represents the whole of humanity, and not only earth-consciousness, but also Heaven-Blessing. He feels that he is the supremely chosen instrument of God and has to be fully responsible for earth-transformation and earth-perfection. The higher one goes, the more responsible he is, or feels he is, for the upliftment of human consciousness. God is responsible for everything and we are just His instruments. But if we become conscious and chosen instruments, then He can act in and through us most perfectly.

Each seeker has to feel how high he has gone, how deep he has gone and how illumined or how fulfilling his consciousness is. If he feels that he has already achieved an all-embracing consciousness, then he feels that he is entirely responsible for the total change and transformation of human consciousness. He is like a mother; when her child does something wrong, the mother sincerely feels that she is responsible for the child’s misdeeds. And when the child does something good, the mother feels in the inmost recesses of her heart that the child was able to achieve this success because he is her own creation.

If we can claim the length and the breadth of the world as our very own — not with our vital ego, but with our heart’s feeling of oneness — if we have accepted the world with a feeling of inseparable oneness, then we are absolute representatives of earth and, at the same time, absolute representatives of God as well. In our oneness with earth we feel that we are embodying earth’s aspiration and in our oneness with Heaven we feel that we are embodying God’s Compassion and God’s Light. We ascend with our aspiration and we descend with God’s Compassion and Light. So, we are not only representatives of both Heaven and earth, but also we are the connecting link between Heaven’s Light and earth’s aspiration. When do we become the connecting link? We become the connecting link when we feel that we are working unconditionally for both earth and Heaven — when we feel that it is our bounden duty to please Heaven, but do not expect anything from Heaven in return, and when we feel it is our bounden duty to please earth, but do not expect anything in return from earth.

It is we who have to unify both earth and Heaven; this is our task. We have seen something in Heaven and we feel that this very thing is what earth needs; therefore, we have to offer that thing to earth. Again, we have seen something on earth which we feel is precisely what Heaven needs. So earth’s achievement we offer to Heaven and Heaven’s achievement we offer to earth. How do we do it? On the strength of our inseparable oneness with the one from whom we are receiving and with the one to whom we are offering the wealth. So, according to the extent of our oneness, we are representing humanity and divinity.

The moment we identify ourselves with something or someone, we become that particular thing or person. If we identify ourselves with the universal Consciousness or the Absolute Supreme, we will feel inside them both earth and Heaven. When Christ said, “I and my Father are one,” he became totally one with his Father. As an individual, I say, “I and my body are one.” The necessity of the body, the consciousness of the body, the physical consciousness, I feel as my own. I identify myself with my hunger, with my earthly need, with earthly name and fame. But when I am illumined I do not say, “I and my body are one.” I say, “I and my Inner Pilot are one.” I am the instrument and my Inner Pilot is directing and guiding me. I and my Pilot are one; I am His vehicle and channel. It is through me, out of His infinite Bounty, that He is fulfilling His own Dream.

Question: I have just started coming to your meetings and I would like to know how to meditate. I really don't know exactly what you mean by meditating.

Sri Chinmoy: Some spiritual teachers give specific lessons on meditation. In my case, I tell my students to first read spiritual books written by spiritual Masters to gain a little general information. The books will tell you to keep the mind calm and quiet and lead a pure life in the mental, vital and physical plane. In our pure life automatically we feel an inner meditation. And if we remain calm and quiet, it is also a form of real meditation. We are constantly being attacked by ideas, by forces, by thoughts. But we should try not to allow these thoughts to enter into our minds in our day-to-day lives. Some people may think that if they do not have any thoughts, they will be like fools. But fools are not without thought; they have thoughts, but thoughts that we cannot appreciate or admire. These thoughts lead them to do silly things. But if we do not have normal, ordinary thoughts, but instead have inner will and determination, then we will do the right thing and we will grow into divine instruments. That is a form of meditation.

When my students meditate with me, I tell them to forget the mind and try to feel the presence of the heart. Inside the heart they try to feel a vessel. This vessel is full to the brim with ignorance, imperfection and undivine things. I ask my students to try to empty the vessel with God’s help and their own aspiration. This action of emptying oneself has to be done with devotion and a feeling of surrender to God’s Will. It also has to be done with love — love for God and for humanity. Once the vessel is emptied, then the God inside them will fill it with divine Light.

Question: Could you speak about the need for individuals to defend themselves?

Sri Chinmoy: Before you defend yourself you have to know whether you have done the right thing or not. If you have done something wrong, it will be a mistake to try to defend and justify yourself. If you have done something wrong, you have to pray for forgiveness to the Supreme in the individual who has been the victim of your wrong action. But if you are doing something right and if you are misunderstood or criticised or attacked, then you will try to defend yourself. If you are attacked, you should always try to be calm, quiet and tranquil within. Peace is the greatest strength; if you have inner peace, then you have a lion’s strength.

Since you follow the spiritual life and are devoted to Love, Truth and God, you will not exploit anybody. But if somebody wants to exploit you or harm you in any way, you have to protect yourself. Spirituality is not the same thing as stupidity. You have to be wise. There is no wisdom in surrendering to circumstances and saying, “I am helpless, what can I do?” There is no wisdom in remaining silent and waiting for the person who is harming you to reap the karma of his action if you yourself have the power to take action. How do you know that God wants you to give that person an opportunity to continue committing wrong acts? That person has deceived you or done something harmful to you, and God has awakened you so that you are aware of it. So it is your bounden duty to defend yourself.

This is called a sincere approach to reality. If you remain silent, the other person will go on exploiting you. His ignorance will increase and he will never open to the Light, and he will not give you a chance to open to the Light either. You will be continually at his mercy, and your own sense of justice will disappear.

To be sincere is to defend one’s inner cause. To be sincere is to breathe in divine qualities and breathe out undivine qualities. To be sincere is to see the truth as it is, on its own level, and to utilise the truth in its own way. When a new divine thought dawns, you try to execute it, and use it to build a castle of truth.

But ignorance cleverly comes into our mind and tells us to wait, since Eternity is at our disposal. If we listen to ignorance, we are not defending truth. Truth needs immediate recognition and acceptance. We accept the truth and we try to manifest the truth. Let us live the divine truth. In living the truth we will be justifying our own existence. By living the truth, we will be accepting our own inner Immortality, which is our birthright.

Question: How can we remember to forgive the world for its defects and to forgive ourselves for our own defects?

Sri Chinmoy: On rare occasions we see imperfection in ourselves, but we always see imperfections in others. Now, when we discover that we are imperfect or have done something wrong, what do we do? We forgive ourselves immediately, or we ignore the fact that we have done something wrong, or we decide to turn over a new leaf and never do it again. We do all these in order to get satisfaction.

If others do something wrong, if we don’t forgive them, if we harbour undivine thoughts against them or want to punish them, we will never find true satisfaction. In order to satisfy ourselves, our reality, we must forgive others, too. Forgiveness is illumination. We have to feel that by forgiving others we are illumining ourselves, our own enlarged, expanded Self.

If we do not forgive, what happens? We place a heavy load on our shoulders. If I have done something wrong and I don’t try to forgive myself or illumine myself, I will harbour the idea that I have made a mistake. And each time I think of my wrong action I will only add to my heavy load of guilt. Similarly, if others have done me an act of injustice, the more I think of this the heavier becomes my load of anger and resentment. Now, I have to run towards my goal. If I place something heavy on my shoulders, how am I going to run? I will see that others are all running very fast, while I can hardly walk.

It is always advisable to forgive others and to forgive oneself. Again, we have to know who is forgiving whom? I as an individual have no right to forgive others or even to forgive myself. It is the Divine within me that is inspiring me to raise my consciousness to Light, to higher Light, to highest Light. An act of forgiveness means a movement to a higher reality. And when we reach the highest Reality, we become one with the omnipresent Reality.

We are all integral parts of a living organism. If I have only two arms, I am incomplete; I need two legs, too. I need everything in order to be complete, perfect and whole. So I have to accept others as my very own. First I accept them and then I transform them. And whom am I transforming if not my own expanding, enlarged reality?

Question: How can we avoid falling asleep during meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: We need sleep because the nerves need rest. But when we have dynamic energy, we can conquer sleep. When we have a free access to the infinite inner energy, we do not need sleep at all. Right now, for a few years, or for this incarnation, the body needs six or seven hours of sleep a night. But gradually we can decrease this need from seven hours to six, five, four, even three or two.

When we have enjoyed deep meditation — enjoyed in the sense of having drunk divine nectar — sometimes we feel drowsiness. We feel we are not totally awake and not fully conscious of what is happening within us. But this is not actual sleep. Deep within us there is constant, continuous, eternal silence, peace and poise. When we are absolutely calm and quiet in our inner life, we see that the inner life offers us its own energy. Our human mind cannot understand this energy, because it never gets it or even sees it. Only our heart receives this energy from the soul. If we can feel this inner energy during our meditation, then for hours and hours we can meditate without any interruption.

In our inner life of realisation we are well-established. We know that we are of God and for God. We know that we belong to God and God belongs to us, and that God-realisation is our birthright. But this inner realisation is static. It is the static way of holding the truth. But in our outer life of manifestation we have to prove that we are of and for God. We do this through our manifestation of the Divine within us. The divine manifestation needs constant movement. We have to feel inside ourselves a flowing river, a river of dynamic energy and dynamic light. Then we have to feel that we have become that river. Now, the river is not the goal; the goal is the sea. So we have to feel that we are in the process of continuous movement. We are running forward, climbing upward, diving inward towards our goal.

Silence-life we embody, but sound-life, unfortunately, we do not manifest in a divine way. We manifest it in a destructive way. When we fall asleep during our meditation, it is a kind of unconscious destruction of our own inner divinity. But when we feel that we are a river of dynamic energy and light flowing towards our goal, then we cannot be attacked by lethargy or sleep.

Some seekers feel that just because they have entered into the meditation room, their role is over. They feel that they have already reached their destination and now they can relax. That is why they fall asleep. But our role will be over only when we have meditated well and, at the end of our meditation, when we have offered our gratitude, or whatever we have achieved, at the Feet of the Supreme. If we are going on a long journey, we have to know that when we come to the airport, that is only our first destination. The final destination is not the airport, it is some distant city or country.

If we are supposed to meditate for an hour, we may sleep for forty-five minutes and do nothing but feel miserable for the remaining fifteen minutes. But let us feel that coming to the meditation room is only our first goal, that there is another goal which will take us an hour to reach. Once we reach this goal, then we can relax and enter into the earthly life, which is necessary for manifestation.

Question: What is the subconscious?

Sri Chinmoy: The subconscious is something of the past that usually remains inside the unconscious part of our life or the ignorant part of our life. It is the part which consciously or unconsciously does not want to be illumined. The subconscious plane is one step higher than the inconscient plane. The inconscient plane is the lowest, but the subconscious plane is only a few inches higher, let us say.

In the inconscient plane there is no light at all; but the subconscious plane also does not care for light. In the subconscious plane the undivine realities or qualities that do not want to progress come forward whenever they get an opportunity and try to fight against the qualities that are trying to invoke Light from Above. But it is not as difficult to bring light into the subconscious plane as it is to bring light into the inconscient plane. The subconscious plane is better than the inconscient plane, but eventually both these planes have to be conquered and perfected.

Light has to enter into all planes of our being, for only then can we be totally perfect. But it is not advisable for the seeker to enter into either plane in the beginning or middle of his journey, for there he will encounter powerful forces of darkness. Only when one is on the verge of illumination or when one has actually received some illumination is it advisable for him to enter into the subconscious plane to try to illumine it.

Question: When I feel that my spiritual progress is not fast enough and that my meditation is not deep enough, sometimes I feel the Supreme is not happy with me. Then feelings of depression and frustration enter. How can I deal with this?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, when you are not making progress the way you want to make progress, that is to say, when you are not making the fastest progress, it is because you are making some mistake. But if you become depressed, then you are making your problem worse; you are making another mistake. Depression is not the answer. In the spiritual life you have to try to be as cheerful as possible. Cheerfulness will never help to bring out the undivine in you. If you can be cheerful, then automatically half of your spiritual fever is gone, and you can walk faster.

But why are you not running fast? This is the important question. Sometimes it happens that a runner, knowing well that the goal is very far, slows down. Since the goal is very far away, he says, “I can go slowly and, without fail, I will reach the destination. Why try to run the fastest and become totally exhausted?” But the runner has to know that there is not one but three goals. When he reaches his first goal and realises the highest Truth, he cannot stop and relax. He has gone only part of the way. There are two more goals: the revelation of the Truth and the manifestation of the Truth. If he loses his enthusiasm and relaxes before he reaches even the first goal, then he will reach the ultimate Goal at a very late date.

All those who are sincere seekers must know that the realisation of Truth is still a far cry. Once they have realised the Truth, the game is not over. If you have three things to study, you won’t relax as you would if you had only one thing to study. If you know that there are three things you have to learn, one after the other, you will be more alert, more conscious, more devoted, more aspiring. So please feel that in order to make the Supreme happy in your spiritual progress, you have to study three subjects one after the other. Do not feel that you have Eternity at your disposal. No! You have to be alert and feel that every moment is either helping you to reach your Goal or preventing you from reaching your Goal. So let each moment be utilised to dive deeper, run farther, fly higher. Then you can easily make the Supreme happy.

Question: Is there something that we can consciously do or practise to cultivate humility?

Sri Chinmoy: You can meditate on a tree. A tree that does not have fruits, that has nothing to offer, stands proudly erect. But a tree that has hundreds of fruits always bends down with utmost humility and offers its fruits to mankind. When it bends down to offer its countless fruits, it is not looked down upon by others. On the contrary, the tree is appreciated, admired and adored. Why? Because it is offering most delicious, nourishing fruits to us. The tree with fruit has humility. The tree that possesses some light and truth is humble while the tree that does not have light is not humble. So when you see something that has achieved some truth — like the tree with fruits — and when you see how humble it is and how it is appreciated by others, this helps you develop your own humility. When you have some fruits, some achievements, you are of greater necessity to mankind. And when you offer your fruits with humility, the world needs you and loves you infinitely more than it would do otherwise.

The mother is very tall, but when she wants to offer food to the child, she bends down. The child’s love for the mother is not less just because she bends down. On the contrary, it increases considerably. The child sees that the mother is tall and could easily stay at her own height while the child struggles to grow up. But out of her kindness she does not do that. When we have something and want to give it to the world, if we do so with humility, then we get appreciation and admiration from the world in boundless measure. When we realise the after-effects of humility, then we can easily cultivate humility.

Question: How can I have deeper meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: You can have deeper meditation through constant remembrance of your goal. Always think of your goal as something high, higher, highest. If your goal is not the highest, if your goal is not boundless Peace, boundless Light, boundless Bliss, then your meditation cannot be very deep. Only when you pitch your aim to the highest, do you go high, higher, highest. If you want to be satisfied with only an iota of Peace, Light and Bliss, then you cannot go deeper; you cannot go higher. Always when you meditate, try to bring into your being boundless Peace, Light and Bliss or throw yourself into something infinite, something vast. These qualities will act like a springboard. If you press hard on the springboard, then you jump higher.

In order to have good meditation you should also try to dedicate your life to the right cause. The right cause is to see the divine in others and the divine in yourself all the time. If you can see yourself only as divine, then you are bound to have a deeper meditation. The moment you think of yourself as a bundle of ignorance, as a sea of ignorance, you are taking the wrong way of approaching the truth. Try to see the divine in yourself as often as you can; then automatically your meditation becomes deeper, more illumining and more fulfilling.

Appendix: these quotes, from other writings of Sri Chinmoy, were included in the first editions.

"I came from God with God to see the Feet of His descending Grace.
I shall go from man to man to see the Goal of his ascending face."

"To define God is to confine God.
To fear God is to tear God."

"It matters not how Truth was created, but why Truth was created. Truth was created by God Himself to energise His Vision and to manifest His Reality."

"Men of capacity the world needs.
Men of receptivity God needs."

"When I concentrate, I care about God.
When I meditate, God cares about me.
When I contemplate, my perfected inner wisdom cares about God, and God’s infinite ocean of Light cares about me."

"To know the value of love is to buy the Kingdom of Delight.
To know the value of Delight is to buy back one’s own true Self."

"Difficulties consciously tell an unaspiring soul what he is. Difficulties unconsciously show an aspiring soul what he eventually can be."

"Life is my outer evolution.
Truth is my inner revolution."

Editor's preface to the first edition

The United Nations Meditation Group is a group of United Nations staff members, delegates and representatives from non-governmental organisations accredited to the United Nations who believe that there is a spiritual way to work for world peace as well as a political way. Twice a week the Group meets at the U.N. for non-sectarian meditations and spiritual discussions on brotherhood and world union.

The United Nations Meditation Group functions under the inner guidance of its Spiritual Director, Sri Chinmoy, who conducts the Group’s meetings and also delivers the continuing Dag Hammarskjold monthly lecture series at the U.N. It is Sri Chinmoy who best sums up the credo to which the Group adheres:

"//WE BELIEVE...//
... and we hold that each man has the potentiality of reaching the Ultimate Truth. We also believe that man cannot and will not remain imperfect forever. Each man is an instrument of God. When the hour strikes, each individual soul listens to the inner dictates of God. When man listens to God, his imperfections are turned into perfections, his ignorance into knowledge, his searching mind into revealing light and his uncertain reality into all-fulfilling Divinity."

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