Flame-Waves, part 8

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Question: How can the knowledge of spirituality help professional people in their effort to help mankind through their work?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, let us try to know what spirituality means. Spirituality is not something abstract, something that encourages us to leave the world. It is not something that is only for the chosen few. No! Spirituality is certainty itself. And if it is true spirituality, then it always encourages us to accept life.

Each individual has something to do here on earth, so he consciously or unconsciously throws himself into multifarious activities. He wants to get everything done sooner than at once so that he can do something new, so that he can go on to something better, something more illumining, something more fulfilling.

Now, there is a short way, which we call the sunlit path, to reach our destination. You are sitting right in front of me. If I walk straight, I will undoubtedly reach you sooner than if I wander around, here making a left turn, there making a right turn, and only then come to you. The short-cut is the way of concentration. We have to concentrate on the thing that we are supposed to do. Each time we concentrate on something, we take away the confusion, pressure, anxiety, worry, unwillingness and stubbornness that is inside the subject itself, inside each undertaking. At the same time we offer our capacity, confidence and assurance to ourselves. We either bring to the fore our inner capacity, confidence and assurance from within or we bring them down from Above.

Each time before undertaking anything, if we can concentrate, we simplify the matter and at the same time we expedite the result in a satisfactory way. Concentration immediately clears the road. On either side of the road are doubt-tree, insecurity-tree, hesitation-tree, anxiety-tree, worry-tree. As soon as we concentrate we see the transformation of these trees. Doubt becomes faith, insecurity becomes security; anything that is discouraging becomes encouraging and helpful and lends us a helping hand as we move towards our destination.

So spirituality is the simplification of life, not the rejection or the negation of life. Spirituality is something that shows us the sunlit path so that we can reach our destination as soon as possible. No matter what we want to achieve from life and in life, spirituality is the best friend that can help us. It simplifies, purifies, illumines, fulfils and immortalises the thing that we want to possess or the thing that we want to grow into. Spirituality is not something uncertain, vague, meaningless or fruitless. No. It is something meaningful and fruitful, something that is constantly illumining us and fulfilling us. And inside illumination and fulfilment is the satisfaction that we want.

In our own profession if we want efficiency and perfection, then spirituality is the only answer because it clears the road of confusion; it purifies and illumines our mind. Once purification and illumination take place in our mind, we see that the goal is right in front of us. Then we see that the goal is within us. And finally we see that the goal is not only within us, but we are the goal itself. This moment we are the seeker running after the goal; the next moment we feel that we have become the goal itself. Spirituality is the only thing to make us feel that we need the goal, the only thing to show us how to reach the goal and the only thing to make us clearly see that we are nothing other than the goal itself.

Question: Is it a good idea to use our intuition in our daily tasks?

Sri Chinmoy: As soon as we start using our intuition, we have to know that we are doing the right thing. But just because we are doing the right thing today, we can't say that immediately we are going to get the result. We have to continue doing the right thing for two days, ten days, two months, three months. It is like a seed. The seed does not germinate all at once. It takes some time for the seed to germinate. Then it grows into a tiny plant and a sapling, and finally it becomes a huge banyan tree. Today's intuition-power is also something that grows. Today's intuition-power need not and cannot be all-pervasive; like a muscle it can be developed. It can become stronger and more fulfilling.

He who has intuitive power should feel that this power has dawned on him in order that he can serve those who have less intuitive power, who have less capacity, who have less wisdom-power. If he serves his brothers and sisters on earth, then he is bringing about lasting peace, lasting happiness on earth.

When you have intuitive knowledge you can feel that you are already advanced. You can lead others; you are proceeding and people are behind, following you. But you have to know that your power of intuition has come either from the inmost recesses of your heart or from a very high plane of consciousness. And you have to feel that this power has come to you not so that you can lord it over others, but so that you can serve others. You have to feel that because this intuition has entered into you, you are the elder brother of the family. You have a few younger brothers and you have to show your younger brothers the way to the destination with love, with concern, with oneness.

When intuitive power comes, you just enter into your task. You have something to do and you get a flash. At that time you have to enter into it. While you are entering into it, please feel that you are entering into the task not to show the world what you have accomplished, but to show the world that you have seen something new, which is of immediate use. To whom? To you yourself and to the rest of the world. When you use intuition, you immediately feel the necessity of dedication. Intuition you have got; and what do you use it for? For dedication. Enter with your intuition-power into the subject or task that you have; and from there come out triumphantly to dedicate your discovery to those who have not yet discovered the light that you have discovered. So the best use for intuition is to constantly dedicate it to the reality that you discover while using it. Dedication is the best way to use the power of intuition and dedication is the real satisfaction from intuition.

Intuition shows us how to start, how to continue and how to end. The word "end" is not the right expression to use when we speak about the search for eternal happiness. There is no end. We are always transcending our previous goals. Today's goal is tomorrow's starting point for an ever-higher goal.

Question: Can meditation help cure physical ailments such as high blood pressure?

Sri Chinmoy: When we meditate, we consciously try to go to the Source, which is all-perfection. Meditation means conscious awareness of our Source. Our Source is God, our Source is Truth, our Source is Light, our Source is Perfection. Meditation takes us to our Source, which is a place where there is no imperfection, no ailment. And where is the Source? The Source is within us.

In the outer life when we meditate, what result do we get? We make our mind calm and quiet. It is almost impossible for most human beings to have peace of mind. And he who does not have peace of mind is a veritable beggar; he is like a monkey in a human body. He has no satisfaction. But if we get peace of mind for one fleeting second, we feel we have accomplished a lot in life. When we have peace of mind, our vital remains peaceful and our body remains peaceful; and where there is peace there is no dislocation. It is only in the world of anxiety, worry, tension and confusion that there is some ailment. Otherwise, there can be no ailment.

So meditation is the answer. Meditation offers us peace of mind, tranquillity in the mind. When there is peace of mind, all sufferings of human life can come to an end. When the mind is tranquil, there is a constant flow of harmony. This harmony is entering into the vital and from the vital it enters into the physical. When there is harmony in the system, there can be no ailment.

High blood pressure, heart failure and all the diseases that we notice in God's creation are attacks from undivine forces. These undivine forces can be overcome, can be counter-attacked only when we surrender to the positive force. When we meditate, we try to become a perfect channel for the positive force. The positive force is light and the negative force is darkness-night. The positive force is love, not hatred. The positive force is belief, not disbelief. At each moment in our life the positive force helps us because it takes us consciously to the Source, to our destination, which is perfection.

If our mind is calm and quiet, if our vital is dynamic, if our body is conscious of what it is doing, then we are inside the palace of satisfaction, where there can be no disease, no suffering, no imperfection, no obstruction to our abiding peace, abiding light, abiding satisfaction. Meditation is a means; it is a way; it is a path. If we walk along this path, then we reach our destination, which is all-perfection.

Question: But if we are confused and nervous, how will meditation ever be able to help us?

Sri Chinmoy: In the physical world, when somebody has a headache or a stomach upset, he goes to a doctor and the doctor cures him. If somebody is sick, then how can we say that he will never be well again? If he takes medicine, then there is every possibility that he will be cured. For a sick person, medicine is the answer. If somebody is assailed by anxiety, worry and confusion, meditation is the remedy. Just because he is a victim, we can't say that there will be no saviour. The saviour is there, provided the individual wants to be cured.

Suppose somebody is assailed by confusion and hostile forces that deplete all his energy and take all joy out of his life. He is depressed and has surrendered to frustration owing to countless problems in his life. Let us take him as a patient: he needs a doctor, he needs treatment. When an individual is suffering from a few ailments in the mental world, he has to go to someone who has some peace of mind, some light, some inner assurance for him. This is a spiritual teacher. The spiritual teacher is like a doctor who will advise the person and throw light on him so that he can free himself from fear, doubt, confusion, tension and all the negative forces that are torturing him. So if somebody is in mental turmoil and suffering tremendously in the mental world, he goes to someone who can be of immediate service to him; and this person cures him.

Question: Is it really necessary to seek help when we are suffering from mental problems? Can't we just meditate by ourselves and find the answer?

Sri Chinmoy: Suppose you find it extremely difficult to go deep within by yourself. You say, "I am suffering from certain mental difficulties, but I know the answer is inside. Now it is all night, but I feel that there is light inside my heart." This is what you feel, but you find it difficult to go deep within and discover the light. Then you have to go to someone who can bring to the fore the light that you have within you. It is like your own house. You have misplaced the key and you don't know how to open the door. But a friend of yours comes and helps you look for the key. After he finds it he opens the door for you and then he goes away. If you are ready to search for the key that you have lost, then you can try. But if you have a friend, then you can have more confidence in finding the key. So the teacher is a helper, an eternal friend who helps you in your search. When he finds the key, he won't keep it. He will give you the key. He won't say it is his key. No! It is your key, your house, your light. Then you will enter into the house and get everything that you needed and wanted.

Question: You speak of night and light. Do you believe that parts of life are dark and imperfect?

Sri Chinmoy: Life is composed of perfection, only we say that there is lesser perfection and greater perfection. We don't say that this side is black and that side is white; we say that on this side there is comparatively less light. So there is no negative and positive; there is only positive. But the thing that is less positive has less capacity and sometimes we call it negative.

Question: How can we overcome our ego-motivated life and self-centredness?

Sri Chinmoy: We can transcend our self-centredness or our ego-motivated life if we just feel that we are of the One who embodies the many. We must feel that our existence all by itself is fruitless. No matter what we do, what we say, what we grow into, what we achieve, it is all valueless unless we feel that we are of the One who embodies the many and that we are of the many who have to fulfil the One.

When we pray, when we meditate, we have to feel that our achievements are meaningful and fruitful only when it is dedicated joint effort that has brought about our success. When we want to see the Face of God without our friends, without our dear ones, we have to know that the Face of God that we will see at that time cannot satisfy us. If we do not carry the members of our family to our destination, then we shall never have satisfaction. We belong to a large family and if we carry the members of our family consciously and devotedly, then we can be fulfilled and satisfied. In this way only can we overcome our ego, our self-centred emotions.

Question: Is there any relationship between the light that the seeker receives and the light the earth receives?

Sri Chinmoy: The Light of the Supreme is descending to earth in infinite measure. It is up to the seeker either to accept it or to reject it. According to his capacity of receptivity, each seeker is receiving the Light of the Supreme. Earth embodies the seeker and, at the same time, the seeker represents earth, Mother Earth. When the seeker accepts Light, immediately this Light enters into the consciousness of the earth-mother in him. Again, when earth receives Light, when the mother receives Light, she offers it to her children.

When the soul of the earth receives Light, it shares this Light with the seekers, its children. And when the children receive Light, they also share the Light with their mother, earth. One moment the son is earning the salary; the next moment the mother is earning the salary. Then they share their achievements with each other.

Question: What is your view on the equality of the sexes?

Sri Chinmoy: Women should not remain always under the control of men: women should stand on their own feet. Both men and women are of equal importance in God's Eye. God is both male and female. If we take man as God's Face, we have to take woman as His Smile. If we see a face without a smile, we don't appreciate the face. The smile immediately conquers our heart. But if there is no face, how can there be a smile? Each is of equal importance, but each need not play the same role. Both men and women should march together towards the same destination. Women need not lag behind. They can run soulfully, devotedly and speedily towards the same goal.

Question: After we stop meditating, how can we maintain the level of consciousness we reached during our meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Here we are all aspiring; that is why our consciousness is elevated. The meeting will last for about half an hour more. Then we shall go home and our consciousness will go down. How can we maintain our present level of consciousness? We can do it through constant remembrance.

After you leave the Centre and go home, you may not retain the same level of aspiration because of some family difficulty or other problems. But even if there is nothing to prevent you from continuing to aspire, your own limited being will not allow you to stay on the top of the tree. You aspire for half an hour with utmost sincerity and then relaxation starts. You feel that you have worked very hard and now you are entitled to rest.

But the spiritual life is not like that. If you want to maintain your standard, if you want to maintain the height of your aspiration, then your aspiration should be flowing constantly. Suppose you have meditated for an hour; then you may not be able to meditate again for another hour or so. It is difficult right now for all of us to meditate for eight hours. But no harm. For half an hour you can easily meditate. Then you can do something which will maintain and preserve your meditation. For the next half-hour you can read spiritual books; then after that you can sing spiritual songs. Then you can go to the house of one of your spiritual brothers or sisters or, if that is not possible, you can call up someone on the phone and speak only about spiritual matters.

Again, you can write about your own experiences in your own way, not with the thought of publishing them but just to help your own consciousness. While you are writing them down, you are perfecting your spiritual nature. For half an hour you can write them down, then you will read what you have written. As soon as you have written down your experiences, you have created something. The creator always wants to enjoy his creation. Look at a gardener when he sees a beautiful rose. First he took great pains to plant a rose bush and tend to it; then after six or seven months when he sees the rose, he deeply appreciates and admires the beautiful flower. Similarly, you also may get joy from reading about your own experiences.

It takes fifteen or twenty minutes for you to eat. During that time try to remember what experiences you had while you were meditating early in the morning. Just imagine them. This imagination is not fantasy or self-deception: it is like charging a battery. You are charging your memory with your achievement, with your spiritual progress. Each time you think about your own experiences, you will be transported back to that time and you will get abundant Peace, Light and Bliss and so forth. So in this way you can always retain your meditation from the early morning and you will be able to maintain your standard until it is time for your next meditation.

But unfortunately people don't do this. We meditate for half an hour or forty-five minutes and immediately we feel that we are tired and exhausted. Then we do so many wrong things. It is a kind of negative reaction. We feel that we have seen one side of the river and now we want to go to the other shore. But the other shore is unfortunately all darkness. We have to try to remain on the shore that has light. So to preserve our meditation we will do other things which will increase or at least retain the power of the meditation.

During the week we have to go to work. Early in the morning we meditate and elevate our consciousness, but then we spend seven or eight hours at work and we are unfortunately compelled to mix with people who are unaspiring. We are thrown into a world of desire, fear, anxiety, worry and so forth, and our consciousness falls. So what do we do? Please meditate early in the morning and read spiritual books, sing spiritual songs, mix with spiritual people. Then, when you are in the office or involved in some other activity, try to remain in the consciousness of your early morning meditation and other spiritual activities. In your early morning meditation you have gained Peace, Light and Bliss, which is spiritual money. Keep that inside your own heart, which is the safest of all banks. Then, when you enter into the world, when you are in the office where it is all anxiety, worry and desire, you withdraw some of your spiritual wealth. You concentrate on your heart and bring forward a little of the Peace, Light and Bliss which you acquired early in the morning. It is your own wealth and you can use it. In this way you will be able to maintain your spiritual standard and keep your level of consciousness high.

Right now, we have to be very careful and wise in our day-to-day life about how we spend each hour. But a time will come when our life itself will be a continuous flow of aspiration. Now after our meditation we use the mind and think, "Oh, the time has come for me to read some spiritual books." But one day we won't have to make any conscious effort. Our inner being will inspire us to read spiritual books. Right now the inner being is inside, deeply hidden, but we are trying our best, through Yoga, to bring it to the fore.

Question: From the spiritual point of view, does the new year have any specific significance?

Sri Chinmoy: From the spiritual point of view, the new year has a specific significance. On the eve of the new year, a new consciousness dawns on earth. God once again inspires each human being, each creature, with new hope, new light, new peace and new bliss. God always wants us to move ahead; He does not want us to look back. We know that while a runner is running fast, if he looks back, he drops to the ground. Similarly, if we are constantly looking behind at the year that we are leaving aside, we will think of our sorrow, misery, frustration, failure and so forth. But if we look forward we will see hope dawning ahead deep within us. We will see a new light illumining our consciousness.

Each new year is like a rung on the ladder of consciousness that we have to climb up. When the new year dawns we have to make ourselves conscious of the fact that we have to transcend ourselves this year. We have to go beyond our present capacity, beyond our present achievement. When we have that kind of firm determination, God showers His choicest Blessings upon our devoted heads. God says, "The new year dawns and a new consciousness dawns within you. Run towards the destined Goal." We listen to God. We listen to the dictates of our Inner Pilot and we run towards the ultimate Reality. The new year energises us, encourages us and inspires us to run towards that ultimate Goal.

Question: How can I know the quintessence of Infinity?

Sri Chinmoy: Mentally we will never know what Infinity is. It is all imagination. But there comes a time when imagination is transformed into reality. If somebody had once told me that there is a person by the name of Krishna Ganesan, until I had seen that person, he would have remained all imagination. But now I have seen you. Now you are a reality to me.

According to the physical reality, you are perhaps 5'6" in height, but inside the physical reality is the inner reality — your teeming inner experiences. Some of these experiences are very high, very deep, and some are not. Again, some of these experiences are from this incarnation and some are from previous incarnations. Even when I see the experiences only of this incarnation, I see that you have had thousands of experiences.

Now, who is holding these experiences? The soul or what we call the psychic being. In Sanskrit we call it chaitya purusha. This psychic being has gathered and kept safe the experiences of previous incarnations as well as of this one. The quintessence of all your previous incarnations has been preserved by the psychic being. Deep inside our existence, inside the soul, inside the psychic being, inside the mind, inside the vital, inside the gross physical, all these experiences are there.

But when the doctors operate, or when they examine you, they cannot discover it, this inner wealth of yours. Why not? Just because this infinite inner wealth that you have can be seen only by something which is also infinite. Only Infinity can measure Infinity; only Light can measure Light. We may see something right in front of us, but in order to evaluate it we have to have something which is equally powerful or equally illumined.

You will be able to see, feel and become one with Infinity when you become one with your spiritual heart, which is itself Infinite. And this oneness you achieve through prayer and meditation.

Question: Is there any real difference between one religion and another?

Sri Chinmoy: There is no fundamental difference between one religion and another because each religion embodies the ultimate Truth. Each religion is right, absolutely right, because each religion conveys the message of Truth in its own way. If you dive deep within, you will see that there is no difference at all between the religions. It is all one Truth called different names by different seekers. Your religion may say one thing and my religion may say something else. But our religions will never differ when it is a matter of the highest Truth. The ultimate Goal of every religion is to realise the highest Truth. On the way to our Goal we may quarrel and disagree, we may misunderstand each other. Why? Precisely because there are many roads that lead to the Goal. Some will follow one road and some will follow another road. Each road will be able to offer inspiration. After a while, one person will say that his road is by far the best because it is pleasing him. Then another person will say that his road is the best. But when both reach their destination, they will be at the same Goal: Truth. In Truth there is no quarrel, no conflict; Truth or God-realisation transcends all religions.

Question: Can you define the soul?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul is subtler than the subtlest, finer than the finest and, at the same time, larger than the largest. This is the description of the soul that you get in the Gita and also in our sacred Upanishads. This truth can be seen, felt and realised when we meditate.

The soul is the representative of God here on earth, a spark of God. God the Omniscient, the Omnipotent, the Omnipresent is one; but here in this world of multiplicity each soul represents a different aspect of God's multiplicity. When the soul takes human shape, it tries first to create possibilities and then inevitabilities. Then the soul tries to manifest the truth that it has already achieved. It sees the world of ignorance and tries to transform this ignorance into knowledge and wisdom.

There is an unmanifested Self, which we call purusha, and again, there is a manifested Self. The Self that is going to manifest on earth through the soul is called prakriti. Purusha is not indifferent, but it will always remain on the highest transcendental level of Consciousness. And the other Self, prakriti, will take part in the Cosmic Game through the individual soul.

When we become one with our soul, we enter into infinite Peace and Bliss — the highest Consciousness, which we call sat-chit-ananda. This is the triple Consciousness, where Existence, Consciousness and Bliss come together. When we live in the soul, eventually we enter into this triple Consciousness.

Question: You say that when the body dies the soul goes back to its own world. What is the soul's world?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul goes back to where it came from, to its original home, to take rest for some time. As earth is our body's world, so also there is a world which we call the soul's world. You have a home. You go to play in the playground and after you have played for a few hours you come back to your home. Then after taking rest, tomorrow you go again to play. Similarly, the soul comes here on earth to play for a few years and then the soul goes back to its own region. Then it returns to earth in another body.

The soul's original abode is sat-chit-ananda. It means Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. There is a Bengali song, Phire Chalo, it means, "Let us go home". This home is the home of the soul. The soul, the aspiring soul, is returning home, where it is all Light and Delight. In this home there is no death, no suffering, no sorrow, no decay; it is all Joy, Light and Delight.

Question: Can the soul experience sorrow?

Sri Chinmoy: No, the soul cannot experience sorrow. It is the outer senses — the emotions and the vital — which feel frustration and sorrow. The soul, which is in constant touch with the Source, is the fountainhead of constant joy.

Question: If a soul is more evolved, will it take on a body that is more physically beautiful, or is there no correlation between physical beauty and spiritual development?

Sri Chinmoy: No, there is no correlation at all. There have been many spiritual Masters who were physically quite ugly, and there have been many who were very beautiful. If you ask God whether my soul is more beautiful or more developed than that of some handsome movie actor, God will sincerely tell you that my soul is far more developed. It depends entirely on God's Will and on the individual soul's will what kind of house his soul will live in.

If somebody has plenty of money, even then he may not care for a big mansion. He feels that a small room is enough. And somebody who has very little money will spend everything he has to rent a big house to show off. But this big house may get him into tremendous financial difficulty. Then he has to get a loan from the bank in order to pay the rent, and perhaps he will not be able to buy proper food for himself. So, although he has a very big house, he is starving and bankrupt.

The beauty that we see in spiritual Masters is the soul's beauty rather than physical beauty. That beauty does not create any problems, either for its possessor or for others. Just because of your aspiration you see their inner beauty and you accept them because of it.

Question: When someone feels a beautiful poem inside, what prevents its outer expression?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two main reasons. The first reason is that when you feel a poem, you doubt it; you doubt whether it is real or not. You feel, "Oh, how can I have that kind of beautiful feeling? Five minutes ago I told a lie, ten minutes ago I was jealous of somebody, so it is impossible to feel this way now." But what happened five minutes ago has nothing to do with what you are feeling right now. The mind is so clever. When you have a wonderful experience, a very good, high experience, your mind will immediately try to throw cold water on it, because your mind does not want you to have joy in its pure form. Your mind will immediately ask you how you can experience this kind of thing when you acted so undivinely just a little while ago. The mind will say it is all a mental hallucination. And the moment you give up the experience, the same mind will come and say, "See, you are such a fool! You have lost everything; you have thrown away everything. God alone knows how many months it will take you to get this experience back again."

The second reason why you cannot express a poem that you have inside you is that there is a gap between your feeling and your becoming. When you feel something, if you do not immediately become that thing, then your vital being revolts. The vital being feels that you have allowed a stranger to enter into you, and it becomes jealous. It acts just like a child when he sees that his mother and father have allowed somebody else to come and stay at his house. Naturally he becomes jealous because he feels that now his parents won't be able to pay as much attention to him as before. When you feel something inside you, it means that you have invited someone or something to your house, but he has not yet entered. If once he enters, the expression is as good as achieved, but before he enters the child may revolt. He may start crying and say, "I don't want him; I don't want him." But if the parents become serious and say, "I have invited him and he will definitely stay," then it is all over. Once you become what you feel, the difficulty is over. These are the two main things that keep you from manifesting in your outer life what you feel within yourself.

Question: Will the consciousness of all the individuals in the world have to be transformed before we have world peace?

Sri Chinmoy: To some extent it is true that each and every individual must change totally, or radically, before world peace will take place. Again, from a deeper point of view, it is world peace that will be able to radically change the consciousness of each and every individual.

It is like this. A seeker has quite a few members in his family. But all of them are not praying and meditating; he is the only one that prays and meditates. He receives Peace, Light and Bliss, then he goes and offers these to the other members of the family. The Light and the Bliss that he gets are coming directly from one Source, let us say, the Universal Source. This Universal Source is the Source not only of Light and Bliss, but also of Peace. And he is distributing this Light and Bliss, which is nothing other than Peace. The Light that he is getting gives Peace, the Delight that he is getting gives Peace, and this Peace he gives to the members of his family. But they have to be receptive, to some extent. They want it, they need it; but, at the same time, they may not accept it cheerfully and wholeheartedly.

Peace has to descend; and again, our aspiration has to ascend. Each human being can be perfect, to some extent, on the strength of his aspiration. At the same time, we have to know that Peace is slowly descending. When Compassion from Above and aspiration from below one day come together, then only will we have world peace. It is not one-sided; from both sides there has to be a response. The individual has to cry for peace, and peace has also to descend. If peace descends and the individual wants it and accepts it, then only will the whole world have peace.

Sometimes we want something that we don't need. And sometimes we need a thing, but we don't do anything to get it. Suppose somebody is very poor. He definitely needs money, but he doesn't work for it. Opportunity looms large. Opportunity knocks at his door, but he won't open the door, although he badly needs money-power. Similarly, we as individuals need peace. But when peace descends, if we don't accept it immediately, then the opportunity will disappear. So first we all have to feel the need of peace, universal peace, world peace. And then we have to go one step further and accept it when it comes. But if we have to depend on the perfection of each individual human being on earth for peace to descend, then peace will never, never descend.

Question: I was wondering if there was a spiritual reason why earth is suffering from disasters at this time.

Sri Chinmoy: At this time, disasters do take place occasionally. From the spiritual point of view we have to take everything as an experience. In God's ultimate Vision, God will give satisfaction to each human being. Again, each human being will get satisfaction and perfection only when he or she has pleased God in His own Way. There is no hard and fast rule that God will work one way or another way. He can work in many ways beyond our comprehension. Human beings do not know what God's ultimate Vision is. Here on the physical plane somebody will die; but on the inner plane perhaps God has decided to expedite his soul's progress. So the best way is to take so-called disasters as an experience that God is giving to the individuals who are immediately involved and to those who are observing the situation.

Each disaster has a purpose of its own. Again, we have to know that the earth-planet is not perfect. So, when planets are not perfect, wrong forces can operate in and through them. God approves of some things. Some things He just accepts or tolerates. Then again, there are some things that He initiates and inspires. When we see earthquakes or floods or famine and all this, we have to know that these are things that God is just tolerating. If some wrong forces have destroyed a group of people or destroyed some places, God is just tolerating the fact. Again, there is a higher purpose to these things. Today God tolerates this suffering, but tomorrow inside the persons that have suffered, God's deep Compassion will flow, and in some way He will compensate. But that compensation we will not see with our human eyes. It has to be seen with our aspiring consciousness.

We have to know that the catastrophes and disasters and things that make us feel that the downfall of the human race is approaching are not the only damaging factors. These things we see on the earth-planet. Because we live on the physical plane, we notice whatever is happening here and we feel that tremendous disasters are taking place here. But on the inner plane there are other planets, and constant catastrophes can take place there also. For the undivine forces, the hostile forces, the evil forces, can also operate on the inner plane.

Look at the conflict between faith and doubt. In this conflict, faith may surrender: doubt may succeed. If doubt destroys faith, then we have to feel that it is like the explosion of an atom bomb. In a human being, when faith has to surrender to doubt — if somebody accepts the spiritual life and then has to give it up because he is unable to have faith in the path, or in the Master, or in his own spiritual capacity — then it is infinitely worse than the explosion of an atom bomb. That disaster may take centuries and centuries to rectify. Here on earth, when a disaster takes place and people are killed, in six or ten or twenty years the soul will again take new form and come into the world to gain and offer light. It is only a matter of a few years. But if one has to give up the spiritual life because he is assailed by doubt, then his life may be ruined for many incarnations. So an inner disaster is much more powerful and damaging than an outer disaster.

Question: Is the mind jealous of the heart?

Sri Chinmoy: The mind is quite often jealous of the heart. The heart enjoys its surrender to the soul and when the heart pleases the soul in the soul's own way, the heart gets tremendous delight. On the one hand, the mind does not want to surrender to the soul. But, at the same time, when it sees that the heart is enjoying supreme delight by virtue of its surrender to the soul, the mind becomes jealous of the heart.

Question: When several individuals form a committee to do a project, you have five different people discussing something with their own backgrounds and ideas. And in the U.N., you might have five different countries or even more discussing one topic, each country with its own firm belief. What is the best course to follow in such cases?

Sri Chinmoy: Sometimes, as an individual, you have an idea. Then, a few minutes later, you develop or create another idea. Then, if you wait for a day or two, you create or develop or become fully aware inwardly — not outwardly — of a better idea. In this way, the same individual is approached by different ideas at various times. You cannot say that each new idea you get is better than the previous ones. In the morning, you have an idea to achieve something in one way, and in the afternoon you have another idea to achieve that thing in a different way. But the idea you get in the evening need not be the better one.

So, if there are five members on a committee, each individual should try to dive deep within and see if, at any time, he can agree with the idea offered by somebody else. Right now, he is fighting for his own suggestion. But a few days later it may happen that he himself will have the same views that he is now opposing. But if you have established your oneness with the other members, then at least you will try to understand their viewpoint, and see if there is any truth in it. Then, you can see if your idea is really the best, or if somebody else's idea is really the best.

Look at five ideas as five fruits. One idea may be more mature, more practical, than the others. Everybody wants to eat the ripe fruit. But if everybody wants to eat the ripe fruit, then everyone has to look carefully at the fruits that are available. If there are five fruits, some will be unripe. Nobody wants to eat the unripe fruits. Only the idea that is most ripe and delicious you will eat. Just because one person has brought the ripe one, it does not mean that only he will eat the ripe fruit and that he will deny it to others. Others also will have equal share of the fruit that someone has brought. No matter who has offered an idea, let the others have an equal opportunity to apply that idea to their own lives. Then, no matter who has got the fruit, as long as everybody is allowed to eat it, as long as everybody is ready to share it, then the fruit will become everybody's property. This way you can have a feeling of oneness.

Question: Is it possible for us to be consciously aspiring and yet somehow not be aspiring in parts of the being that we are unconscious of?

Sri Chinmoy: It is quite possible. One part of your being can be consciously aspiring and another part can be totally unaspiring. It is like exercise. Suppose you always throw the shotput or javelin with your right hand. Because you ignore the left hand, the left hand remains weak. For this reason, it is always good to take exercise with both hands. But when there is a special competition, if at that time the right has more to offer, naturally you will use the right hand. Since it is a matter of only a few seconds, it is all right. But when you practise every day, you should take some exercise that uses both hands.

So here also, in your whole body — from the soles of your feet to the crown of your head — there should be aspiration. The aspiration-river must flow from top to bottom. Again, you have to know that there is the main portion, which is the heart. When you have to offer something to the world at large, or when you have to bring to the fore your best quality, at that time the cry of the heart, the aspiration of the heart, is of paramount importance. If you want your aspiration to be very concentrated, then the heart is the right place to go in which to aspire. But when you are aspiring normally, you can aspire in your entire being, in your entire existence.

It is quite possible to be aware of one thing and, at the same time, to be totally unaware of something else. If you take exercise with your right hand, your left hand remains unconscious. But it is you who are in a position to take exercise with both hands, right and left. Similarly, all the parts of your being can be given proper training. The physical can aspire, the vital can aspire, the mind can aspire, the heart can aspire — all at the same time. But sometimes you may be awakened, or ready to aspire, only in one part. Early in the morning, when you pray and meditate, it may be only your heart's spiritual exercise. You may not read spiritual books at all; you may not be doing any mental exercise. Again, you may not be doing any selfless service on these planes. Then, you are unconscious of these. Or on the vital plane, perhaps, you are not trying to show kindness or generosity to everyone. Every plane has something different, something new, to offer. Again, the uniqueness of the different capacities or qualities of each plane must be unified and assimilated together. If you do not take spiritual exercise on a particular plane in the form of aspiration and dedication, then naturally you are unaware on that plane. Awareness comes only through constant inner exercise.

Question: What is the best way to establish joy in every part of the being?

Sri Chinmoy: The best way to establish joy in every part of the being is through constant gratitude to the One who is responsible for our having accepted the spiritual life. At every second we have to bring to our inner mind what we were before we became consciously spiritual. And, for a fleeting second, we can see what our friends of the past are doing now, where our former acquaintances are now. As soon as we see what they are doing, and what we ourselves originally were, then we will immediately notice the difference between our achievement of the past and our achievement of the present. No matter how far away the goal is, we can easily see the distance that we have already covered. Our so-called friends of the past have not yet started walking along the real road, but in us there is some aspiration, some inner cry, at least some awareness of a higher ideal and goal.

We can offer gratitude to God, or to our spiritual teacher, or to our path, or even to our own good qualities that prompted us to enter into the spiritual life. Again, we can offer gratitude to the inner cry that prompted us to walk along the right path, or to the achievement itself. Gratitude lies in self-giving to the Source, or to the One who has inspired us to see the higher reality and run towards the goal. We offer gratitude to the Source because it has created in us an inner urge to return to it and seek fulfilment there. And this fulfilment comes only in fulfilling the Source itself. So self-giving in various ways gives us total joy in every part of the being. There is no other way.

Question: Which is the best way to inspire others to the spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: The most effective way to inspire others is to become aspiration itself. If you become the embodiment of aspiration, then automatically others will become inspired. You may not be all the time flooded with aspiration, but you do have a certain amount of aspiration, because you are practising the spiritual life and because you are trying soulfully to receive Peace, Light and Bliss in abundant measure.

You cannot go in the street and tell everyone, "I have Peace, Light and Bliss. Just come and take it from me." If you say that you have anything to give, others will just laugh at you. So you have to look around at who is there and then dive deep within and feel from within whom you should approach. When you feel from within that so-and-so would be inclined to at least listen to what you have to say, then only you can offer your inspiration.

So first try to discover from within whether or not your message, your love, your truth, your concern, will be accepted. Then only you will get the right person. Otherwise, you will go out in the street and shout that you have something to offer, but nobody will come. But if you make an inner choice, then afterwards there is every possibility that you will succeed in inspiring others.

Question: It seems that there should be only one moral code. How can everyone recognise and accept one moral code for the whole world?

Sri Chinmoy: There should not necessarily be one moral code. The Sanskrit word for code is dharma. On each plane there is a code: on the physical plane, on the vital plane, on the mental plane, on the psychic plane. But the best code is surrender to the inner divinity. On the physical plane, somebody will say that this is absolutely the right code, the real raison d'etre of life. On the vital plane it will be something else, on the mental plane something else, and on the inner plane, something else again. If one wants to justify one's approach to truth, one can do it. Any code of life does bring some satisfaction. You do this or you refrain from doing that, and then you are satisfied. But this may not bring real satisfaction.

Real satisfaction comes not by doing something or by becoming something. Real satisfaction comes only when one surrenders to the highest principle in life, to the highest reality, to one's own highest divinity. This highest divinity you can call God, the Supreme, or whatever you want. One's highest divinity knows infinitely better than one's lowest divinity. Sri Krishna told Arjuna, "There can be no higher code of life than to surrender to the inmost divinity," which Sri Krishna himself represented. Divinity is everywhere. Divinity is in the Source in infinite measure. Again, divinity is also inside a tiny ant. But the soul that is flooded with infinite light and delight, we should accept more than the divinity that a tiny ant embodies.

On the physical plane we say that a particular code is absolutely the correct thing, but the capacity of the physical is very limited. On the vital plane, we say this is the right thing, but the capacity of the vital is very limited. The mind will say that something is absolutely correct, but the capacity of the mind is very limited. On each plane truth is there; again, the capacity of the truth is limited. But on the highest plane, the capacity of the truth is unlimited. The mind cannot fathom the capacity of the highest truth. On the physical plane, the vital plane, the mental plane, the mind sometimes can fathom the capacity. But on the highest plane, the capacity there cannot be measured. If we surrender to our own highest divinity, at that time we become one with the highest capacity and the highest truth. Only then can our code of life on the physical plane, the mental plane, the vital plane and all other planes be easily transcended.

If we use shoes or sandals to keep our feet from getting burnt and scratched with thorns, there will be some Brahmins who will immediately think of the animals. When they think of the animals, they immediately think of the brutality, cruelty and destruction. Some Hindus, so-called pious Hindus, won't use leather because it comes from an animal skin. But if we don't use shoes, it is very difficult to walk. So where do we stand? But if we surrender to the inner will, then there is no problem. The inner will will say that everything has its own role. The animal has played its part by offering its existence, willingly or unwillingly. And we have to play our part by wearing shoes so that we can walk to church, where we will pray and meditate.

On earth we cannot exist without destroying life. The moment we breathe in, millions of tiny creatures in God's creation enter into our breath and are destroyed by us. We walk along the street, and while we are walking, how many insects we destroy! So we can't exist even for a fleeting second without destruction.

Again, we also destroy with our thoughts. When we have an ill thought, a desiring thought, a jealous thought, an insecure thought, it is all destruction. Any undivine thought we have immediately is a form of destruction on one plane — the mental plane, let us say. Consciously we become jealous and do all kinds of undivine things. Again, unconsciously we become victims to undivine thoughts, ideas and other destructive forces. At every moment, we are destroying or being destroyed on the physical plane, on the vital plane, on the mental plane; on every plane forces are trying to destroy us or we are trying to destroy them. When we are destroying someone or something, we are doing something very undivine. And others who are doing the same to us are also doing something undivine. Either we are killing someone or somebody is killing and destroying us. How can we escape from this constant battle? Every second we cannot fight with our thoughts. So what shall we do? If we surrender our thoughts to the highest Authority, who is omnipotent, only then are we safe. So the only way is to aspire and surrender to the highest divine Authority. Let the divine Authority tell us what is best for us and what is best for others. That is the best code of life on each plane: physical, vital, mental and psychic.

Question: Is the difference between materialism and spirituality that in the one case we try to possess the outer world and in the other case we try to possess the inner world?

Sri Chinmoy: When we practise inner philosophy, we want to capture the spiritual world; we don't want to capture the material world. We don't want to possess God's creation as our own. We only want to possess God and use Him for our own purpose. But again, in spiritual philosophy, in true spirituality, we possess the person for his own purpose or the thing for its own purpose. And if we go higher still in divine philosophy, we do not possess at all. We only enter into infinite Peace, Light and Bliss. Then Infinity, Eternity and Immortality can play their respective roles here on earth in their own way.

The truly divine soldier will always seek Truth, Light, Peace and Bliss for their own manifestation and fulfilment. Here the philosophy is not, "I want for myself", but the divine philosophy that says, "Let Thy Will be done in Thine own Way."

Question: What is the purpose of Yoga?

Sri Chinmoy: The purpose of Yoga is to receive the Truth and Light here on earth. Yoga means conscious oneness with God. Man and God are one, but man is not conscious of his inner divinity. We love God, we need God. But our love for God is not constant and conscious. And also, we are not consciously aware of our need for God despite the fact that we are studying and practising spirituality. We are all instruments of God, but unconscious instruments. Our love of God, our love of Truth, our need for Light is not always conscious, not always constant. We have read millions of books dealing with God's existence, but God is not a living reality for us right now.

But when we practise Yoga, when we dive deep within, we see and feel what relation we have with God. A spiritual Master is he who is conscious of God and God's Reality. At every moment in his life of multifarious activities, he is consciously aware of his oneness with God. In his case, God is a practical reality. God is constant.

If we practise Yoga, we come to feel that God comes first and foremost in our lives. Inside God we have to see humanity and inside humanity we have to see God. Inside divinity we have to see humanity aspiring and inside humanity we have to see divinity manifesting itself. This is what Yoga does for us. Yoga immediately elevates humanity's consciousness to the highest plane and brings down Light, Peace and Bliss from Above in infinite measure so that our life of obscurity, impurity and imperfection can one day be elevated, illumined, perfected.

Question: What is the importance of mantra?

Sri Chinmoy: Mantra is of paramount importance in the spiritual life. But again, there are many people who do not repeat mantras: they aspire and meditate in a different way. Mantra is an incantation process for going deep within or to accelerate one's spiritual progress. By repeating a mantra we can either invoke the presence of a particular god or we can bring to the fore our own inner divinity. But we cannot say that mantra is superior to prayer and meditation or that prayer or meditation is superior to mantra. No. We can call mantra one road that leads to realisation.

Question: What can we do to bring God to people in the world?

Sri Chinmoy: We are living in a godless world. What can we do for lovers of God who want to bring Truth and Light to earth, who want to bring God the Supreme to earth? We have to start with ourselves, in ourselves. We may see an individual standing in front of us who does not believe in God, who doubts the existence of God. But before dealing with him, we have to deal with ourselves.

We have the body, vital, mind and heart. Let us start by focusing our attention on the physical plane. As soon as we focus our attention on the physical plane, we see that we have lethargy, that we mix with ignorance. Then we focus our attention on the vital and we see that our vital is like a hungry wolf that wants to devour the world. But what we want from our vital is dynamism and dynamic truth, not aggression. Julius Caesar said, "I came, I saw, I conquered." Our vital says, "I came, I saw and I became." I came and I saw imperfection and then I became one with it here in the world of imperfection.

Then we concentrate on the mind. When we concentrate on the mind, we see that the mind is constantly doubting — doubting even our own existence. What can we do? The mind is doubting the reality within us, the reality around us. This moment the mind says I am a good man, the next moment it says I am a very bad man and the following moment it is unable to decide whether I am good or bad. The mind is always uncertain and unable to accept the Truth and Light.

We also have a heart. This heart, on the strength of its inseparable oneness with the Absolute, can become all-divinity. But right now this heart is all-insecurity. The heart says, "God, I am not getting the thing that I want," or, "I want something to be done and it is not getting done." All the time the heart is singing the song of insecurity. But this same heart, on the strength of its oneness-capacity, can become one with the Universal Heart.

When I, as an individual, focus my attention on myself, I see tremendous imperfection, a tremendous need for perfection-light. Each individual must concentrate first on himself, because there is tremendous imperfection inside him. Even though the world around him may have much more imperfection than he has, as long as he is imperfect even in an infinitesimal measure, he will not be in a position to teach others. A school teacher who has more knowledge than his students can teach them, even though he doesn't have the highest degree. But in the spiritual life we are making a terrible mistake if we try to teach others without being illumined ourselves. Here we are dealing with the life-principle of the individual. In school we are teaching history, geography or another particular subject, but that particular subject is not an individual's entire life; it is not his life of God-realisation.

So when we see a godless attitude in someone, we have to be aware of our own capacity or incapacity. If we can perfect ourselves on the strength of our inner cry, our aspiration, our love of Truth and Light, then we as individuals will no longer belong to the world of imperfection. I as an individual will not belong to the world of imperfection. You as an individual will create your own world of perfection. She will create her world of perfection. In that way there will be three undivine souls less in the world and the world will be blessed with three divine souls, three divine soldiers, three divine instruments of God. Today you become perfect, tomorrow he becomes perfect, the next day I become perfect. In this way it progresses from one to many, and the whole world becomes perfect.

When we as individuals become good, divine and perfect, the world around us sooner or later becomes perfect, for the light that we have will not remain inside us. It will have its own spontaneous wave of self-expression. Then, with our light we will be able to see that the world around us, the world of imperfection, is being transformed and illumined. For the outer world is not outside us; it is within us. We have a mind and others in the world have a mind; but ultimately it is the same mind. The world that we see is actually inside us; it is in our mind, in our vital, in our body, in our heart. So when we become perfect within, the world without also becomes perfect.

Question: What is the vital?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two vitals in us: one is the dynamic vital and the other is the aggressive vital. The aggressive vital is the animal in us; it wants to devour the world. The dynamic vital does not want to devour; it only wants to energise the world that is fast asleep. Millions of people are still fast asleep. They are not aware of God; they are not aware of truth-light. But with the dynamic vital we can arouse slumbering humanity.

Question: How do we become aware of truth?

Sri Chinmoy: It is through prayer and meditation. Right now this body which we claim as our own is our only truth. This body, which will live for sixty or seventy years, is our life. But when we pray and meditate, we see that this body is not our entire existence. Our entire existence is eternal life. Here on earth for seventy years we play a specific role; then we leave the body and take rest. After some time, again we will come back to earth to love God, to manifest God.

How can we be eternally aware of what we have within us? We can be eternally aware of our inner existence, our inner life, only through constant prayer and meditation. When we are not aware of this truth, it is as though we are sick. We have to take medicine, and this medicine is our aspiration. When we are unaware of what we have, that means we have developed a kind of disease. And in order to cure this disease, what we need is aspiration.

Question: What is the relationship between Yoga and religion?

Sri Chinmoy: Yoga is not a religion: Yoga embodies all religions. Religion has its own specific view of the truth. In religion we do not get the feeling of universal oneness. But when we accept Yoga, it is all oneness. Yoga embraces all religions. It sees religion as a house. You live in your house, I live in my house, he lives in his house. But when it is time to study, we all leave our houses and go to the same school. So Yoga is a school. Yoga is in no conflict whatsoever with religion. You come from your house, I come from my house and we shall study together.

Yoga will never say that this house is very bad or that house is very bad. Yoga will only say that God is in everything. But in some cases God is fully manifested in a divine way, and in some cases He is not.

Question: What is the sound of "Aum"?

Sri Chinmoy: "Aum" is God in His three aspects: God the Creator, God the Preserver and God the Destroyer. But "Destroyer" is the wrong term. God is not the Destroyer but the Transformer. Anything that is undivine in us God transforms and illumines. "A" represents God the Creator, "U" represents God the Preserver and "M" represents God the Transformer.

God the Creator has created us. God the Preserver preserves us. But while preserving us He notices some imperfection in us and He tries to perfect us. When He is perfecting us, He becomes God the Transformer. So when we chant "Aum", we invoke God in His three aspects.

Question: Why did God create evil?

Sri Chinmoy: What you call evil, that very thing I call ignorance. There is a great difference between ignorance and evil. Ignorance is an experience and this experience ultimately will lead me to a higher truth. We go from the lesser light, to the greater light, to the greatest light. What you call evil and sin are actually experiences of bondage and imperfection. Evil is in our mind. In our aspiring heart there is no such thing as evil, but only imperfection. And this imperfection can easily be perfected when we pray to God for Light, Peace and Bliss.

To be of service to you

I am most grateful to each of you for allowing me to be of service to you. To be of service to you is to be of service to our Eternal Father.

[Sri Chinmoy chants the Gayatri Mantra.]

Aum bhur bhuvah svah
Tat savitur varenyam
Bhargo devasya dhimahi
Dhiyo yo na pracodayat

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

"Man says that he has a crying body.
I say that he has an aspiring temple.
Man says that he has a wandering soul.
I say that he has a glowing and flying bird.
Man says that he achieves the Truth.
I say that he embodies and reveals the Truth."

"The Joy of the Supreme is my strength.
The Love of the Supreme is my life.
The Inspiration of the Supreme is my salvation."

"I am never happy except when I am crying — crying to the Supreme for the Supreme."

"To fly with God I need no wings.
Lo, I am flying without wings.
To run with God I need no legs.
Lo, I am running without legs.
To think with God I need no mind.
Lo, I am thinking without the mind."

"Do you know the secret of my spiritual success?
I have freed myself from the past.
I live in constant, unending newness of life.
To me, God is my immortalising Freedom.
To God, I am His devoted assurance."

"My life is examination when I love myself.
My life is excursion when God loves me.
My life is severe concentration when I try to perfect my life.
My life is clear illumination when God wants to and does perfect my life."

"I want my life neither to be external nor internal.
I want my life always to be integral and continuous, transforming my nature and fulfilling God's Breath, killing my ignorance, and building God's Grace, swallowing the pride of Falsehood, and drinking the Light of Truth."

Editor's preface to the first edition

The questions in this book were asked by members of the United Nations Meditation Group, an informal 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 under the guidance of Sri Chinmoy.

Sri Chinmoy 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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