God, Avatars and yogis

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Part I: God, Avatars and yogis

Question: How does the Supreme appear to you, and what is the nature of your relationship to Him?

Sri Chinmoy: Usually I see the Supreme in the form of a golden Being, a most illumined and illumining Being. Here on earth, when we say that a child is extremely beautiful, we are judging his form. But I wish to say that the Supreme is infinitely more beautiful than any human child we can see. This is the way I see the Supreme when I converse with Him. It is this form that I am most fond of. At the same time, my Beloved may assume the formless form. Other spiritual Masters prefer other forms, and the Supreme appears before them in those forms. In this way He has let us exploit His Compassion.

Our relationship is that of Father and son. Out of His infinite Compassion, He has kindled the flames of aspiration in me. These flames climb high, higher, highest. My aspiration carries unconditional love devotion and surrender.

Familiarity breeds contempt in the human life, but in the spiritual life the familiarity between the seeker and the Supreme Pilot only increases in intensity and capacity. Familiarity cannot diminish the sweetness, love and concern that flows between the seeker and the Supreme. On the contrary, familiarity only increases these qualities. When I deal with the personal aspect of the Supreme, He increases my love, devotion and surrender. He makes me aware of what He eternally is. The more familiar we become with Him, the more we establish our oneness, our ever-fulfilling oneness with Him.

The personal aspect cannot create problems for the true seeker. When two people become close, it often does not last because they see weaknesses in each other. But the personal aspect of the Supreme knows what we are. He doesn’t think of us as imperfect; he takes us as His own infinite extension. He does not find fault with us either on the physical plane or on the psychic plane. It is He that is carrying us to the ever-transcending Perfection.

Question: Why do you always speak of God in masculine terms?

Sri Chinmoy: When I say “Father”, I do not exclude the Mother. God is both masculine and feminine. It is only that the term “Father” is more familiar in the Western world because the Christ always said “Father”. So I use the term Father because it is familiar to you. In the East we approach the feminine aspect quite often. We think of the Supreme Goddess, the Divine Mother. We have so many goddesses: Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati and Maheshwari, so it is very easy for us to think of God in feminine terms. But when I am with you, I have to use a term which is quite familiar to you, for I feel that this will make it easier for you to share my experiences. In truth, God is both masculine and feminine. Again, He is neither masculine nor feminine; He transcends both. He is what He eternally is: His Vision and His Reality. This Reality transcends both the masculine and the feminine form and, at the same time, it embodies both the masculine and the feminine.

Question: What is the difference between Avatars and partial Avatars?

Sri Chinmoy: According to some spiritual Masters, partial Avatars may feel at times that they have lost the reality which they have achieved. They may become inwardly disturbed, puzzled or afraid. Partial Avatars are not sure twenty-four hours a day of their inner divinity and inner achievements. In the inner world they at times feel that they are still searching for something and that they do not know inwardly who they are. But a full Avatar, someone who has absolutely the highest and fullest God-Realisation, will never be disturbed, puzzled or afraid. He constantly knows what is happening in the inner world.

Unfortunately, some Masters think that previous Avatars were not even Yogis. When Avatars see from Heaven that others are criticising them, then in the inner world they give serious punishment. If a Master unnecessarily criticises an Avatar, even if the Avatar being criticised does not have even twenty disciples, the cosmic law will take revenge.

Question: Will you explain the difference between an Avatar and a perfect Master?

Sri Chinmoy: An Avatar is a direct representative of the Supreme, a representative of the highest order. A perfect Master is also a representative of the Supreme. So if one is a real Avatar, then he is a perfect Master; and if he is a perfect Master of the very highest order, then he is also an Avatar.

Again, everybody’s Master has to be perfect to that particular seeker. Your Master is perfect to you and somebody else’s Master is perfect to him. Every Master should be claimed by his disciples as perfect. In that way only can he move himself forward. Otherwise, the disciple is not going to learn anything. Spirituality is not like a school lesson, where your teacher knows a little more than you. Although your geography teacher has many shortcomings, just because you have to study geography, you have to go and surrender to him and learn from him whatever he knows.

But in the spiritual life, when it is a matter of inner light, inner knowledge and inner wisdom, you have to feel that your Master is perfect. If you do not have the feeling that your Master is perfect, then you cannot go far. If from the very beginning you feel, “No, he knows only a little more than I do; he is not all perfect,” then you will not be able to progress. Disciples may think that someone else’s Master is absolutely useless; no harm. But each student should feel that his own Master is perfect for him. If the disciple does not see perfection in the Master, then how can he have perfection in his own life? If he sees the very thing that he wants manifested in someone else, then only will he strive to achieve it. But if he does not see the thing that he wants inside his Master then it is absurd for him to stay with the Master. He has to go to some other Master in order to see perfection.

In the case of an Avatar, it is a totally different matter. An Avatar is a direct descendant of God, so he has to be perfect in the absolute sense because he represents the Highest. Other Masters also are descendants of God, but you have to know that there is a great difference between a professor with a Ph.D. and a kindergarten teacher. Again, somebody will say that his Master is the highest Avatar, and then it may become a matter of quarrelling and fighting with others who also claim the same about their Masters. God alone knows who is an Avatar, who is a Yogi or who is a Swami. So no matter whose Master is an Avatar, or a Yogi or a perfect Master, the best thing is for each disciple to feel that his own Master is not only supposed to be perfect, but actually is perfect. If he does not have that kind of feeling, then he cannot make any substantial progress in the spiritual life.

Question: What is the difference between a Yogi and an Avatar?

Sri Chinmoy: A Yogi silently acts. An Avatar acts dynamically and talks confidently. A Yogi is a plant; an Avatar is a tall, huge tree.

Question: Is there any significance in the passing of a great Avatar and a lesser Master on the same day?

Sri Chinmoy: There is no significance. It is just that their hour may be the same. Suppose a great Avatar and another Master were born at the same moment. The astrologer may pay much attention to this. But if you inquire when this Avatar was born, you will see how many millions of cats were born at the same hour. So what does this signify? The Avatar and this other teacher who dies at the same time do not have any direct link. It is just that both their hours have come.

In the Cosmic Game, if two people are very spiritual, then their existence on earth together may have some significance. But if ordinary people, who are great in their own field, appear on the world scene at the same time, we cannot connect them with the spiritual Masters.

Question: Why do some realised souls return to earth and some not?

Sri Chinmoy: You get joy when I ask you to do something for me, to work for me. I get joy if I ask you to work for me and also if I ask you not to work. It is the same with the spiritual Masters. The Supreme asks some souls to work for Him on earth and some not to. Some souls, when they realise God, don’t want to manifest Divinity on earth and with God’s approval, they remain in the soul’s region. But those who want to manifest are like divine soldiers. They come down again and again and work for the Supreme for the transformation of humanity. For these souls, manifestation is always necessary. They feel that if manifestation doesn’t take place, then realisation is useless.

Question: Were the Spanish mystics God-realised?

Sri Chinmoy: The term “mystic” is very vague and complicated. All of the Spanish mystics were not realised. Many of them just entered into the mystical world for a period of time and wrote poetry and so on. But why ask about only the Spanish mystics? There were many mystics, but very few were realised. Again, when they became real God-lovers, real aspirants, at that time they were no longer mystics. From that point of view, I can say that a Yogi is infinitely superior to a mystic.

Part II: Union and realisation

Question: What is the difference between a mystical experience and God-realisation?

Sri Chinmoy: God-realisation is infinitely higher than a mystical experience. In a mystical experience, you feel God’s Presence as something very sweet and delicate, but a mystical experience is not a permanent thing. As soon as you achieve a mystical experience, you can lose it. But God-realisation you cannot lose; it is permanent. Once you realise God, you never lose what you have.

Sometimes poets get mystical experiences. A poet can receive most sublime light and have a deep mystical experience. After completing his poems, however, the poet’s consciousness may become undivine and he then cannot maintain his mystical experience. A mystical experience is not a permanent experience. But if God-realisation takes place, then the mystical experience that one has will have abiding strength and can be permanent. So, there is a great difference between God-realisation and mystical experience. God-realisation is something infinite, eternal and real. Mystical experience is divine, but if mystical experiences do not come after God-realisation, they don’t last. A mystic is much inferior to a Yogi. There is no comparison. A Yogi constantly and unconditionally serves the Supreme and is continuously having God-experiences. A mystic is satisfied with experiences alone. He wants to enter into wisdom-light, but he does not care for the world. The Yogi cares for the world. The mystic wants only experience and wants it to lead to a final merging in God.

Question: Are Sat, Chit and Ananda all on the same plane, or on different ones?

Sri Chinmoy: Sat-Chit-Ananda is a triple consciousness. Sat is existence, Chit is consciousness and Ananda is bliss. You can separate them if you want to and, at the same time, you can take them as one. If one achieves Existence, then inside Existence he has Consciousness itself. And if one has Consciousness, then Bliss is there. It is like an apartment or plot of land. You can give the plot of land one name or, if you want to divide it, each part of the plot can be called by a different name. But the reality of one is bound to be found in the other. They complement one another. So you can either separate them or keep them as one.

Sat-Chit-Ananda is the triple consciousness on the highest plane, and that plane is for the absolutely chosen few. To reach Sat-Chit-Ananda is a most difficult thing. Hardly twenty or thirty Masters have reached it and stayed at that plane, and hardly one or two can embody it. Some Masters have reached that plane and immediately came down because it was too high for them. It is much easier for people to reach the illumined mind or the Supermind, but Sat-Chit-Ananda is absolutely the highest. That consciousness is almost impossible to attain, even for the spiritual Masters.

Question: Can anyone experience nirvikalpa samadhi?

Sri Chinmoy: Not just any person can achieve nirvikalpa samadhi. But everyone has the opportunity. How can we all from the very beginning enter into nirvikalpa samadhi? We have to have a Guru. If one is sincere, one will get the Guru that one must get. It is our heart that tells. The mind misunderstands, but the heart knows whether we actually love someone or not. You can feel whether I have a connection with you in your heart. We cannot deceive our heart, although we can easily deceive our mind. As the mind deceives us, we are also clever and we are able to deceive our mind. But our heart never deceives us, so we must not deceive our heart.

The difficulty is that here in the West there is very little understanding of what a Guru is. I beg to be excused: I am not criticising the West. Far from it. I have great admiration for the West. But in the West the concept of Guru and chela (disciple), is very peculiar, very peculiar. Westerners don’t understand and they don’t want to understand. In the West, they think that they know better. But in the East, they feel the real oneness of these two souls. Here in the West, there is always the feeling of obligation. We have some obligation here and there, and always our obligation to the Guru comes last. First I have to go and see my friend; I have to do this and that. Here in the West they give not second importance but third importance to the Guru. But in the East it is not like that. In the East the Guru is of paramount importance. I am not saying this as a criticism; only I am stating that this is true.

Our Guru does not want anything from us. He wants only our absolute faith in him. If we have faith in our Guru, our Guru will do everything for us. If we have no faith, the poor Guru is at a loss. Why? Even if he wants to come and help the disciple whole-heartedly, the disciple will find some motive behind his efforts. He will think, “Master wants something more. He wants money from me. So that is why he is doing this.” But unsolicited the Guru comes to the disciple.

A real Guru does not care for your criticism or your opinion. By hook or by crook he will give His Light to you, just like a mother. When a child has a fever, the child does not want to take medicine. But the mother won’t listen to the child. If he is a real Guru, he will inwardly compel the disciple to take his Light. The Guru says, “I don’t want anything from you. I come here because I know what I can offer you and who I am for you.” The mother knows the connection between herself and the child, so she compels the child to take the necessary medicine. In the spiritual life also, the Guru inwardly compels the disciple. But outwardly he does not do anything, because the disciple’s outer mind may misunderstand him.

Question: How long would it take the average person who comes to a spiritual path to realise God?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the sincerity or the commitment of the disciple-seeker. His meditation must be most sincere, devoted and fulfilling. If one can meditate eight hours or twelve hours a day most devotedly and soulfully, then there is every possibility that that person can realise God in one short span of time, in one life. But if one meditates, say, for five minutes, even if it is most soulful, it may not be possible for that person to realise God in one lifetime. Still, it is more advisable to meditate one minute most sincerely and devotedly, than to meditate insincerely for ten hours.

Again, there is no hard and fast rule. God’s Grace is there. If you get a spiritual Master of the highest calibre, you don’t have to meditate twelve hours or sixteen hours a day. No, you just meditate an hour or two a day most devotedly, and with the Master’s grace, you can make the same progress as you would have done meditating twelve or sixteen hours a day without a Master.

Question: Is there a way to make realisation shorter?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two roads. One is the road of the mind; the other is the road of the heart. The road of the heart is a short cut. If we walk along the mind-road, very often we will have doubts. We will doubt our own aspiration, we will doubt our own experiences and we will doubt our own feeling for God. This moment we love God, the next moment we may not love God because God has not fulfilled our desires. On the mind-path we are constantly contradicting our own thoughts. This moment we are saying that the path is very good and making progress; the next moment, when our desires are not fulfilled and doubts enter into us, our progress stops.

The other path is the path of the heart. Once we love God, we jump into the sea of Peace, Light and Bliss. Like a drop that enters into the mighty ocean, we feel that we have become the ocean itself. If we use the mind, it will immediately doubt: “I will be destroyed in such a vast ocean.” But the heart will say, “No, I will jump. If I jump I will not be lost. I will only become the Infinite.” The heart is a child and a child always has faith in his parents. So if we have a Master, we will have faith in him, and we also will have faith in God, for God always will be doing the best for us. This is what we feel if we follow the path of the heart. The path of the heart is the shortest path.

Question: How can we best utilise our outer time to better our inner aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: Right now our time means our earth-bound time. Now, we have to know why we have this limited time. Time and life came into existence together. They were very close to each other but unfortunately, when life started playing its role on earth, it became short-lived, and in the same way, time, being a friend of life, also became short-lived. Still, they know that their Source is the Eternal.

Now, you are a seeker. When you pray, concentrate and meditate, you have to feel that each second is infinitely more important than you thought it was previously, before you entered into the spiritual life. This second you can use either for meditation or for gossip or for cherishing impure and undivine thoughts. So when you consciously use time to do something divine, you are entering into the divine Time. Divine Time means timeless Time. When you are consciously thinking of something divine, immediately eternal time comes and shakes hands with you. Usually it does not stay in human beings, because when it stays, it has to stay in doubts, worries, anxieties, jealousies and so forth. But each moment, if you want to go upward through your aspiration, then the eternal Time becomes your friend, and then earth-bound time and eternal Time can become friends.

Now, when you have prayed, meditated and played your part in the spiritual life, if realisation is still a far cry, then you have not to be impatient or worried because God’s Hour has not yet struck. You have played your part and you have to feel that God has also played His part in and through you; you are the instrument. Even when your conscious mind wants to make you feel miserable that you have played your part and still God-realisation is a far cry, you have to feel that the Hour has not yet struck. Then you will not feel miserable.

Very often we think of a date and set a deadline for our realisation. We feel that on such and such a date, perhaps after ten, twenty, forty or fifty years, we shall realise God. Then, even though it is we who have imagined the date and have created this time limit for ourselves, when that time passes by and we have not had our realisation, we curse our aspiration and we curse God. But if we feel that God has to choose the Hour, then we can be happy.

So to come back to your question, if you aspire consciously, and if you consciously pray and meditate, you will see that you are using your time most divinely.

Question: How do you realise God without going to live in a cave?

Sri Chinmoy: Not all spiritual Masters have gone to the Himalayan caves to realise God. I did not realise God in a Himalayan cave. Most spiritual Masters, such as Sri Ramakrishna, the Buddha, Sri Aurobindo and others, did not meditate in the Himalayan caves. There was a time when it was necessary for people to withdraw from the world, but now it is not necessary at all. If you don’t face the world, then the world will follow you and chase you like a thief. But why be afraid of the world? If you stand firm and accept the world, the world will salute you and say, “He has strength.” If you are afraid of the world, then the world, like a lion, will devour you. But if you have the capacity to act like a divine hero and face the world, then God’s Compassion, God’s Light, God’s Power will descend on you.

Spirituality is for the brave. God-realisation is for the brave; it is not for the weakling. In almost all the Indian scriptures, the same thing is said: “The soul cannot be won by the weakling.” Only those who have strength will march forward and see the Goal.

Part III: The perfect disciple

The perfect disciple

In the spiritual life some disciples think that when their spiritual Master leaves the earth they have to become very strict with themselves in order to remain spiritual. It is their feeling that while the spiritual Master is still with them in the physical, they can enjoy themselves. I wish to say, no. These disciples are acting like children who feel that they should just enjoy life while their parents are on earth because when the parents are gone they will have to become very serious in order to earn their own livelihood. This attitude is wrong. While the Master is on earth, you have to do your utmost. When he is in the other world, you have also to do your utmost. If one really wants to become a divine instrument, he has to work very, very hard all the time. Otherwise, some people may stay with the Master for twenty years and get nothing, while some who come later will get things in one year or in one day which the others who were with the Master longer have never got at all.

Just today I was reading a story about a spiritual Master who advised two seekers to go and accept another Master. It happened that the second spiritual Master was unkind, rude and in every way insulting to the seekers when they came to him. Nevertheless, the two seekers would not leave this Master. Finally the Master said, “All right, come back tomorrow. I will speak to you then.” The two seekers came the following day, but this time the spiritual Master would not even come out of his house. He sent one of his guards to tell them that he did not want to see them. The seekers said, “Just yesterday he scolded us, insulted us and promised to see us today. Please go and tell him.” The guard said, “This spiritual Master is far above morality. He does not have to keep his promises.” But the seekers pleaded with him. Finally they were granted permission to see the spiritual Master. When the Master saw that these same seekers had come again with tremendous aspiration, he asked them a few questions and told them about their future life. Then they wanted to have some spiritual blessings and love. The spiritual Master said. “For spiritual love, you don’t have to be near me. No matter where you are, if you are sincere, you will get it. If you are not sincere, you will be like this fellow beside me. For the past twelve years I have not been able to give him anything. But here is another one who is also my student. He has received considerably from me, although I have seen him only once before, many years ago. You two who have come here for the first time have also received much from me. But this man who has been with me for so many years has not received anything from me.”

If one does not try to please the Master while he is on earth, how can one expect to please the Master in Heaven? He who sincerely pleases the Master now will please him in Heaven as well. If the disciple does not please the Master here and now, the Master will have no faith that that person will please him anywhere else. Pleasing one’s Master has to be done all the time, like breathing. You breathe in and out all the time, everywhere. If you know how to please the Master when he is with you, then you will be able to please him after he has left the body.

Question: How can a disciple best please his Master?

Sri Chinmoy: A disciple can best please his Master if he does not expect anything from the Master. He will give and give and give and offer himself totally and unconditionally. Only then will the Master be most pleased with him. At that time the Master will give him infinitely more than he deserves.

Right from the beginning, the disciple’s devoted, dedicated action should be absolutely unconditional. The disciple feels that his time, his effort, his capacity and his dedication are all his treasures. When he has given his treasures to the Master, he thinks that he has a legitimate right to expect the Master to give him Peace, Light and Bliss, which are the Master’s treasures. But there should be no bargaining in the spiritual life. If the disciple gives something of his, he immediately expects something in return, because he is living in the world of give-and-take. But the Master knows what is best for the disciple and also when it is best to give it. If the Master gives some thing untimely, instead of illumining the unlit consciousness of the disciple, he will just break the inner vessel. The power of the Master is bound to illumine the disciple if the disciple has receptivity. If the disciple has no receptivity, then the Master’s power will be of no use. On the contrary, it will be harmful. Very often when I touch and bless someone, I get such resistance or unwillingness to accept what I have to offer. And at that time what happens? I can force Light or Power from above into this adamantine wall of resistance, but it would only break.

So if you want to please the Master in a perfect way, then the word “expectation” should go out of your vocabulary. If you expect, you will expect in your own mental way: “I am doing this for the Master, so the Master will do something for me, or I will be his favourite.” There are so many expectations. But beyond expectation is the divine Truth. The Master knows what to give and how to give. But the disciple has his own way of expecting something from the Master. So there is a conflict between the Master and the disciple.

By giving something to the Master, if you feel that you will be able to please the Master, to some extent it is true. But you can really please the Master by not expecting anything after you have given him something, for then the Master will be able to operate in the disciple in his own way. The Master will feel: “He has given me his treasure, but he does not want anything from me. Now it is up to me to decide what to give. So I shall give him the best, the very best.” But if somebody gives the Master something and then thinks that the Master will favour him in something, or say something very nice about him, then he has already begged for something in the inner world. So naturally the Master will try his best to give him that. But if he had left the choice to the Master, if he had given the Master the opportunity to give what the Master wanted, at that time the Master could have given him abundant Peace, Light and Bliss.

The best way to please the Master is to give what you have and what you are, but without the least possible expectation. In that way you get every divine thing in infinite measure from the Master and, at the same time, the Supreme in the Master can utilise you for His own purpose.

Question: How does someone become a perfect disciple?

Sri Chinmoy: In our spiritual life, say in meditation, we are pleasing God, but in our dedication, we are nowhere. Although we do not deserve help, with Grace the Master makes us perfect. Sometimes it happens that the individual cannot surpass a certain point. At that time the Master gives him the capacity.

Unconditional Grace makes the disciple perfect. Until he reaches his goal, along the way the disciple will time and again fail. Until he becomes perfect, he will delay the aspiring consciousness of humanity. But when he becomes perfect or realised, the disciple is bound to elevate the aspiring consciousness of humanity.

Question: Which is better: one first-class perfect disciple or a million disciples of other classes?

Sri Chinmoy: One perfect disciple is infinitely more important than thousands and millions of lesser disciples. The only thing is, the perfect disciple that you will get is bound to come from that one million. He will not come ready-made, just thrown down from Heaven. No, it is like evolution. We come from the animal kingdom at one time we were monkeys, donkeys, horses and so on. Now, there is such a difference. We have undivine qualities, but they are being transformed. When a human being conquers his undivine qualities, then he becomes divine. This transformation does not take place overnight.

You have had many, many animal lives and many human lives. Human life is, to some extent, more perfect than the animal life. But the divine life that you are growing into is coming slowly and steadily; it does not come all at once. In comparison, we are more divine, but we have to know that greater perfection comes from lesser perfection. A tiger’s perfection is to devour many animals for food. But God’s Perfection is showing Love, Compassion and Concern.

To come back to your question, one absolutely first-class disciple is a rarity in God’s creation. But spiritual Masters have infinite appreciation, compassion, love, concern and pride for what the closest disciples have done. So on the spur of the moment they may say someone is a perfect disciple, but both they and the disciples know in their hearts if they are perfect instruments.

Question: How can we always remain a first-class disciple?

Sri Chinmoy: If a disciple can have a life of constant and conscious surrender to the Master, then he will always be most dear. If his surrender is constant and conscious, if he becomes a conscious, constant and surrendered instrument in the heart of his Master or at the feet of his Master, then he will always remain a first-class disciple. Otherwise, there is a possibility of his descending.

Question: How can we love and serve our brothers and sisters?

Sri Chinmoy: First thing first. Try to love God. So to love others, to serve others, try to love and serve God first. Then automatically you will be in a position to love and serve all human beings, your brothers and sisters.

Question: How can I best serve you?

Sri Chinmoy: You can serve me best if you can all the time think of me, pray to me and meditate on me. When I say ‘me’, I mean the Supreme in me, who is your Guru, my Guru, everybody’s Guru. Try to feel that I am not only your best friend but also your only friend, here on earth and there in Heaven. Your wife is here, but she has to forgive me; I am your only friend. But if I tell you that there is someone else whom I want also to be your friend, and that is your wife, then you have to believe me. You will see her as a very good friend, your best friend. But you have to know that I am your best friend in Heaven and on earth for Eternity. I am not only your best friend for Eternity, but also your only friend for Eternity. You can get rid of all your unfortunate experiences of life only by constantly feeling that I am your only friend.

Part IV: The Master's compassion

Question: Why do spiritual Masters get sick if they are in touch with God?

Sri Chinmoy: Many times spiritual figures die of so-called fatal diseases. But these poor Masters are not responsible. What happens is that the Master identifies himself with his disciples; his love and affection for his disciples are boundless. So he tries to take the disciples’ imperfections into himself and dissolve them. It is like the case of mother and son. When the mother sees that the child is suffering she says, “Give me your suffering, give it to me.” So you cannot say that because the Guru is suffering he is imperfect. No, he is suffering for his own spiritual children. They have done something wrong, and out of his bounty and kindness and compassion he draws into himself that imperfection. There are various reasons why the spiritual Masters fall sick.

Question: Was this what happened to Ramakrishna?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, Ramakrishna took the evils of all his disciples. Then he cured them, he saved them. He had to take the cancer and he died. On the strength of his love and intimacy and union, he took their imperfections inside himself. Otherwise nobody would have done it. Someone else will say, “If you are suffering, then let you suffer.” But in the relation between mother and child it is very common for a mother to sacrifice her own life to save her child. And the relation between a Guru and his disciple is infinitely more intimate than the relation between mother and son. This is the difference: here in this life you have a son, but in the next life you do not know whether he will take birth in India while you may take birth in Japan or somewhere else. So in the next life your connection is broken. But in the case of a spiritual Master, a realised soul, he knows where a particular disciple is going to take birth in his next incarnation and where he himself is going to take birth. His connection and his relationship with his disciple will last throughout eternity. Their relationship is the relationship of eternity. It is his so-called burden, the burden of joy, that the Guru has to take his disciple to God. Until he has done this he has not completed his task. When the Master accepts a disciple, his promise to the disciple is not mere words that God will give you realisation. You have to make a living relationship and connection with your Guru. When you pray to your Guru you have to feel that he is breathing within you. All the time a living relationship you must have. When you have established that relationship, then you can rest assured that the Guru will take you to your destined goal.

Question: Often you remove the disciples' troubles but receive physical pain when you do this. When your pain goes away, is the problem solved?

Sri Chinmoy: Sometimes the problem is solved, but sometimes without solving the problem I throw the pain away. The problem is not solved, but I don’t want to suffer anymore. Sometimes an individual’s problem starts on the physical or mental plane. The physical pain I take. If I have to tell the person, he will not believe it. He will say that the doctor or nature has cured him. So where do I stand? The more I keep it in the physical, the less the person suffers. I keep it so that the person will not suffer. But sometimes it goes on and on.

Question: Guru, how many people turn to the spiritual life just in desperation?

Sri Chinmoy: I will say a majority turn to the spiritual life out of desperation and not out of the soul’s necessity. Very few people start from the dawn of their existence to build an inner life out of the soul’s necessity. Most people turn to the inner life out of sheer frustration, when they see that the world is torturing them mercilessly and that there is no hope. But if people enter into the inner life, they have to know that they should not accept it as an escape. Many people will think that the outer life has deserted them, so they want to accept the inner life as an escape. But no, the inner life is not an escape. The inner life will show us truth and light. And more than that, it will guide us and give us the message of illumination and transformation.

Question: Why do you come down to your disciples' level in order to help them?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not that I just come down to the level of my disciples. I go one step below their standard, because I want to place them on my shoulders. But they won’t sit on my shoulders. It is here very often that misunderstandings start. If we run after someone in order to give him something, that person will think that we are running because we have some motive. They feel that if they are on my shoulders they will be stuck and they won’t be able to climb up. They want to climb up on their own so that they can take the full credit. But they are fools if they think this because if they were able to climb up on their own, then why did they come to me?

The mother goes to the market and buys food, and then she asks her children to come and eat. If the children are wise they will say, “We are so lucky that we have such a good mother. She has gone all the way and brought us this food.” Otherwise they will say, “No. We need food, but we want to go out to eat.” This is what the disciples do. They want to go out to eat somewhere, because they have not been there before. Then on the way they see some candy and are tempted. So instead of getting the proper food they buy some junk and eat it and get an upset stomach.

You can feel that you are eating proper spiritual food provided that you feel that there is someone who is constantly expecting something from you. As an individual you get frustrated. But if you feel that there is someone who is constantly expecting something from you, you will give more importance to your life. If your boss is expecting something from you, you are bloated with human pride. And when you feel that somebody else who is superior to your boss is expecting something from you, then immediately you are nourished with a sense of divine pride. You are nourished only when you feel that your own heart of hearts needs you. His expectation means his oneness with you. His very need of you is his nourishment. Your Inner Pilot is the Supreme. Your Supreme and my Supreme are the same, but in my case, I have established my constant oneness with Him, while unfortunately in your case you have not done so. When I say “I”, immediately I feel that the Supreme is operating in and through me and I am operating in and through the Supreme. If you can go deep within, then you will also establish your oneness with the Supreme.

Right now, the concept of the Supreme operating in and through you is only a vague idea. When you think of God, you may think that He is in beautiful trees or on top of a mountain. Or perhaps you will say that God is inside a cave or the Pacific Ocean. If you think of God in this way, then at any moment He may disappear, and you will wonder where He has gone. But when you think of me, that question just does not arise. You know that I am in this house or at the store or some other place. When you think of God, you may try to imagine whether He is in Heaven or hell, but when you think of your Guru, you know where I am. I am something tangible. You will see me because I am on the physical, vital, mental, psychic and spiritual planes. You can visualise me immediately. That is why they say that if you go through the Master you are reaching the right place. It is much easier and safer to allow the Guru to go to God and bring God to you than to go to the Guru through God. If you go to God, the mind will doubt. If a child goes directly to the father and the father says, “I am your father,” the child may not believe it. He will say, “How do I know this?” But if his friends say, “This is your father,” then he will believe it.

Question: Guru, why don't you just give up on us?

Sri Chinmoy: If I give up on you, then what am I and what do I have? If I give up all of you who are composed of me, then what do I have to call my own? There is no good or bad in my life. If you people are bad, then I am bad. If you people are culprits, then I am the first and worst culprit. If you are good, then I also am good. Anything that you people are is only an expansion or projection of my own reality. So how can I get rid of my own reality? I am the source. How can the root leave the branches and leaves? You have accepted me. If it is stupidity, then it is my stupidity. I have accepted all my disciples in the inner world long before you have accepted me on the physical plane.

How can I give up? If I give up, then I myself do not exist. I am only what you have for me and what you are with me. My existence is composed of what you people have and what you people are. It is not a matter of putting up with you: it is only an act of wisdom. Since I want to exist, I have to be with you all. It is like an onion. The layers of an onion grow one on top of another. Each layer is part of the rest. If you start peeling the onion, to separate the layer, you will peel right down to nothing. Again, when the onion grows, one layer grows on top of the next. It is all oneness, oneness, oneness. So let us try to grow a small onion into a big onion. Only then will the disciple and the Guru be fulfilled.

Part V: The inner connection

Question: What is the procedure that the disciple should follow so that, even when the disciple is far away, he can get the same force that he feels when he is meditating with the Guru?

Sri Chinmoy: Physically, the Master cannot be twenty-four hours a day with the disciples; it is impossible. The Master has many, many disciples and also the Master has many, many things to do. Again, a disciple may stay with the Master day and night, but he may not get anything from the Master. Ramakrishna’s nephew served him for many, many years, but he got practically nothing from Ramakrishna. Again, look at Vivekananda. In the beginning, he used to come once in two or three months. And then how many days did he stay with his Master; So, it is not the physical proximity that counts most. It is the inner awareness of one’s relationship with the Master. Where is the Master? Is he in New York or is he inside your heart? If the disciple feels that the Master is something very sacred and secret, and that the Master is something essential in his life, then he cannot stay without the Master. If he feels that the necessity of the Master is of paramount importance, if he feels that he cannot exist without the Master, any more than he can exist without his heartbeat, then only the relationship between the Master and the disciple is secure and complete.

If you go back to Venezuela, you have to feel that you are carrying me inside your heart, not that you have left me in New York. Do not feel that my existence is only in one part of the world, no, you have to feel that my inner existence is everywhere. My outer existence, my physical body which is five feet eight inches, can stay only at one place; but my inner existence can roam about many, many places. So you have to feel the necessity of the inner relationship, the inner connection with my heart and soul. Then only will you be able to make the utmost progress.

Again, if a disciple has already established his inner connection with the Master, if he has established a secure, most intimate and most surrendering and surrendered relation, then if he stays with the Master, then naturally he will be able to get more benefit. In his case, inside he is already one with the Master; now his outer self is crying to become one with the inside. So naturally he will get a double push and progress infinitely faster if he is physically near the Master.

But, very often, familiarity breeds contempt. When you stay with the Master, cutting jokes and all that, immediately you will say: “He is also like us.” But he is not like you. He can do many, many things in the inner world that you cannot do. But in the outer world he eats the same food and takes ice cream and does everything as you do. But the only thing is that he can do quite a few things in the inner world which you cannot do. That is why first of all his inner existence has to be approached and adored. And if inwardly you have pleased the Master, then rest assured that it is only a matter of a short time before you please the Master in the outer life; not vice versa. In the outer life, if the Master says: “I want to get some stamps,” immediately you will go to the Post Office and bring some stamps. But this kind of connection will not help you considerably if your inner connection is not complete. If the inner connection is complete, and if I say, “Please take me to the beach,” if you take me and make me happy, then you are pleasing me on all ends. Already you have made the inner connection with me. You have pleased me most, and now the outer connection also you have made by listening to me.

But if you had not made the inner connection with me, then what would have happened? During the two hours that you are driving me, our outer connection gives you peace or joy or harmony or some kind of gratification. But at the end of two hours all vanishes again. But in the inner world, when somebody meditates and thinks of me for five minutes and offers me his life breath, then this lasts forever. Then you have fulfilled me and I have fulfilled you.

Question: Can a Master guide new disciples after he has left this earth?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly, it is possible. Look at the Christ, for example. Great Masters such as the Christ, Krishna, the Buddha, Ramakrishna and others can and do guide their followers: they have a free access to the earth-consciousness no matter where they are. But ordinary spiritual Masters — there are so many teachers, swamis and so on — cannot do it. There are some who cannot even guide their disciples when they are on earth. They have millions of disciples and they do not even have the power to guide them even when they are right in front of their noses. So how can they hope to guide them when they are in Heaven?

Also, it depends on the disciple. If it is a real first-class disciple who is always thinking of the Master, and meditating on the Master, then it is much easier for the Master to guide that disciple. But if it is a fourth-class disciple, who is all the time occupied with worldly thoughts and ideas, then how can the Master make him conscious of his guidance? So it depends upon the calibre of the Master, and the receptivity of the disciple.

Question: How can we tell if we have met our Master?

Sri Chinmoy: I have answered this particular question millions of times. Now, I am a spiritual Master and today we have all come here to pray and meditate and create a spiritual atmosphere. When I called my disciples up to meditate, I saw that everyone else in the audience was meditating in his or her own way, which is absolutely the right thing. Now each individual has to become like a teacher and give marks for whatever he sees in me, Peace, Light, Bliss or any spiritual quality and also the spiritual atmosphere that he finds here. He should give ten out of a hundred or twenty out of a hundred and so on. If he gives zero out a hundred, it may be absolutely correct according to him. He will know it is his real Master when he can give at least eighty out of a hundred.

Also it depends upon the seeker’s own development and preparation. He must prepare himself to be ready for the Master. Otherwise if he is not ready, he can see the Master face-to-face, but he won’t recognise him. The Master knows that that seeker is meant for his path but he can’t tell him, “You are my disciple.” The seeker will think, “Oh, I’m so rich or I am very influential, that is why he wants me to be his disciple.” This is the way the Master is suspected. Also, if the Master says, “No, you are not my disciple,” then the seeker will feel, “Oh, it is because I have nothing to offer him, I am hopeless and helpless,” and so on. Whatever the Master says will be open to question. So it is the seeker who must choose, and then it is up to the Master to accept him or else to tell him that there is another Master waiting for him. He cannot tell him the name even of the other Master, because perhaps the seeker is not yet ready.

After the seeker has chosen and is accepted by a Master, he must not feel that he automatically has become a dear, close disciple of the Master. The seeker must see how sincere he is. If he feels, “I need Truth, I need Light,” then he is ready for the true spiritual life. The seeker has to know if he is ready to give the Master everything that he has and everything that he is. What the seeker has is aspiration, inner cry, and what he is, right now, is ignorance. When he is fully prepared to give the Master all that he has and all that he is, then the Master can work most effectively to transform his entire life. The seeker surrenders his existence to the Master, and then it becomes the Master’s responsibility to illumine and perfect him.

Question: Would you tell us to go to another Master after you leave the body?

Sri Chinmoy: No. Some other Masters do not have the capacity to take the disciples either to themselves or the Supreme. In my case, I can do both. I will never send anybody to any other Guru.

Question: If the teacher leaves the body should you try to maintain contact with him?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the relationship that the teacher and the student have established. Suppose your teacher has passed away and you didn’t have any close connection with him. You can say that your teacher was very great, but what kind of connection did you have with him? If the teacher has ten thousand disciples and you are not one of the intimate disciples, then you cannot expect anything from him just because he is very great. You have to know what kind of connection you had with him. Was he close to you? Did you ever have any personal contact with him, or any serious conversation with him? Did you have any inner contact with him when he was on earth? These are the things that you have to take into account. Otherwise, just because he is great does not provide any assurance that you can maintain any inner connection with him, if he did not make any solemn promise to you that he would take responsibility for your inner life. Let us say, your father was a very great doctor, and now he is not on earth. If you are suffering from some ailment, will you think of your father in Heaven to cure you? No. Somebody may be infinitely inferior to your father in the medical profession, but you will go to him for immediate cure. He will cure you because he is still on earth.

But if you have a Master like Sri Krishna, the Buddha or the Christ — a Master who is fully identified with God-Consciousness — then when you meditate on them, you are offering your very existence to the Ultimate, to the Almighty Father. Otherwise, there are many spiritual Masters on earth who have realised God, but if you have not established any strong inner connection with them while on earth, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to maintain any connection once they leave the body.

Part VI: Saints and madmen

Question: If any human being can so transform his consciousness as to identify with the Universal Consciousness, certainly this human being deserves to be revered. At the same time, you have madmen who go around posing as elevated beings. What then are the distinguishing marks between a saint and a madman?

Sri Chinmoy: Saints are intoxicated with the divine ecstasy. Great spiritual saints, when they attain their spiritual perfection are drinking ambrosial nectar. They are living in that delightful consciousness in which they feel that the world itself is holding the spiritual ocean of bliss. Some of them try to bring down that highest Delight, Ananda, from a very high plane where they have received it, and sometimes they find it difficult. When they find it difficult to touch the material plane carrying this Bliss, they may lose their inner balance and for a short time become forgetful of the physical consciousness. At that time they may not be able to function normally on the physical plane. A seeker may forget his name, for example, and others may say he is acting like a madman.

But an ordinary madman is mentally, vitally or physically dislocated. He never knows what he should do or what he should say or how he should act. He has permanently lost the connection between the physical world and his own existence on earth. So whenever he says or does something, there is no harmony with the Universal Consciousness. That is to say, he cannot project himself into the Universal Consciousness in which we are all abiding. All of us are living in the Universal Consciousness, although we may not be conscious of it. At the same time, we are not violating the rules of the Universal Consciousness. A madman is also unaware of the Universal Consciousness, but at the same time, he is violating the laws of the universe, the Universal Consciousness, owing to his ignorance.

As we have preconceived ideas, the madman too has preconceived ideas, but he cannot formulate his ideas as we formulate ours. We have got a brain; we know our mind. We know how one thought can follow another thought. In a madman’s case, it is not like that. All the thoughts and ideas of the higher and lower worlds come into him in a flash, and he loses all his inner and outer balance. The forces and the pressures of the other worlds enter into him and get a free channel in him to express themselves.

An ordinary madman will never open to the Light or the Truth or that which can save him, his life, his very existence on earth; whereas the God-intoxicated madman, who is the true saint, is mad with the divine Beauty, the divine Light, the divine Purity and all that is divine. He wants to possess and to be possessed by Divinity itself. This is the difference between an ordinary madman and a God-intoxicated saint.

Question: Do false Masters believe that they are true Masters?

Sri Chinmoy: Ninety percent of the false Masters believe that they are true Masters. But again, there are ten percent who know that they are false yet continue deceiving others because it has become a habit. When their sincerity comes forward, they feel how they have deceived the world. But by then, it is too late because they are seventy or eighty years old and for their whole life they have deceived the world. So what can they do? In their next incarnation they shall have to start from the very beginning praying and meditating and trying to be sincere.

Again, there are some spiritual teachers who accept disciples and have an ashram for a few years. Then they come to realise that they are not realised, so they give up teaching and they become spiritual seekers. In India it has happened that a few Masters said that they had realised God and then got quite a few disciples; but when they saw some disciples sincerely praying and meditating, they saw with their own eyes that these disciples were going far beyond them. These Masters were sincere enough to again start praying and meditating most soulfully. But false Masters are not sincere. They tell many lies. If you tell a lie twenty times, then you can convince your physical mind that that very thing is the truth. If you tell the same lie over and over again, then you totally forget that it is a lie. In your conscious mind it becomes a reality.

Question: If you are supposed to conquer all your jealousies by the time you are realised, why do spiritual Masters fight each other?

Sri Chinmoy: I have told you people many times that God-realisation is a very complicated matter. Suppose right in front of you is the realisation-tree. There are many, many people on earth who have not even seen the tree. You have touched the tree, but you do not know how to climb up it. Somebody else may know how to climb up a few feet. A few will go and climb up to the highest, topmost branch, pluck fruit, and from there come down to offer it to aspiring mankind. These seekers are the most advanced.

So the question here is a matter of the degree of realisation. Jealousy does not depart unless one can go very, very high on the realisation-tree or unless one gets the experience of Nirvikalpa Samadhi quite a few times. Then jealousy stops.

Question: Why does God allow antagonism between different spiritual Masters?

Sri Chinmoy: Why does God allow those souls to be undivine and hostile? The only answer I can give you is that His Compassion right now is infinitely more powerful than His Justice. God allows everything, but the only thing is that the individual has to know what he should do. We exist only because God allows us to exist on earth. You may say that other people are worse than us, that some people quarrel and fight or doubt God more than we do. But we have to ask ourselves whether we sometimes do quarrel and fight, whether we at times cherish doubt. The answer will be, “Yes, we do, although perhaps a little less than others.” If God allows us to do something, then we cannot blame God if He allows somebody else to do the same thing. It is only a matter of degree. We may doubt God, say, once in six months; someone else may doubt Him at every second. But if we say, “In this incarnation I have never doubted God,” then that will be a mistake. Again, if we do something wrong and another person also does it to an infinitely greater degree, that is still no excuse to criticise and attack that other person. Let us worry about perfecting our own nature. God will take care of others.

So we always have to be careful. If we ask, “Why does God allow others?”, then we must also ask, “Why does He allow me?” The day I can say that I am perfect, then I can say that God has made a mistake with others. But this day is a far cry for us.

Question: Will following your path be in conflict with Jesus when he said, "I and the Father are one. No one can go to the Father except through me."

Sri Chinmoy: The conflict is in the seeker’s mind, not in the seeker’s heart. The Christ was saying that only aspiration will lead you to realisation. If you think of the Christ as just someone who stayed on earth for thirty-three years, you will be mistaken. Think of the Christ as the representative of the One who is birthless and deathless. Again, if you think that he was the first God-realised soul, then you are again mistaken. Krishna and Buddha lived before that. We have to know that the Christ-Consciousness, the Buddha-Consciousness and the Krishna-Consciousness are all part and parcel of the same Supreme Reality. If you have a Master in whom you have faith, he will help you realise the Christ-Consciousness, Buddha-Consciousness and Krishna-Consciousness. On the one hand, these great spiritual Masters represent the Absolute; on the other hand, they are the Absolute. If you want to follow our path, we will take you closer to Christ, the all-pervading, all-illumining and all-fulfilling Consciousness, but not to Jesus, son of Joseph the carpenter. No matter what path you follow, it will lead you to one destination. You may call it Christ-Consciousness, another will call it Krishna-Consciousness or Buddha-Consciousness. But there can be no conflict, since truth is one. Any path you follow will help you realise the truth.

Question: If a Master retires from the earth-consciousness, should his disciples help others?

Sri Chinmoy: If a disciple gets help from his Master, he is not bound to help others. The relationship between a Master and a disciple is mutual and reciprocal. Because I give you compassion, you are giving me dedication. In the outer world, if I am the teacher and you learn something from me, then you become a teacher. If you learn the alphabet, then you can teach it. But in the spiritual life, it is not like that. Unless you have solid knowledge, you cannot teach. You will be able to teach Hatha Yoga, but if you want to teach real meditation, it is impossible because you won’t be able to elevate the consciousness of seekers.

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