The illumination of life-clouds, part 1

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Part I — Ignorance


Claim the darkness-shack.
Once you get it,
Ignorance will immediately
Share it with you.

Claim the Illumination-Palace.
    Just claim it, that’s all.
You do not have to work for it;
God Himself will gladly
    Offer it to you.


We all know what ignorance is and what light is. Ignorance or darkness comes and stands in front of us in the form of temptation. But light does not do this. Light comes and stands in front of us in the form of absolute oneness. Light says, "You and I are one," while darkness says, "No, you and I are two."

Darkness tempts us by saying, "What I have is very sweet, very nice and most fascinating. I have come to offer it to you." Then we ask to try it and we see it, feel it and taste it. Then we are caught and we are doomed.

When light stands in front of us it says, "We are one. You and I are one. What I have inside me, you also have." Light says that it has Peace, Bliss, Delight and Power and tells us that if we look inside ourselves, then we will also find the same Peace, Bliss, Delight and Power. We are one. But our mind which lives in the limited consciousness would rather try to possess something outside of itself. It feels, "What is the use of having something I already possess?" So when darkness offers it something outside of itself in the form of temptation, it tries to grab it. It makes no difference whether it is good or bad. Just because it doesn’t have it, it wants it. That is why we are always fond of ignorance.

Why do we cherish ignorance? First of all, we cherish a thing because we feel that it is something which another person has and for this reason we want it. When we see someone is very rich, we immediately want to become rich too. When someone is happy, immediately we want to be happy. We are always looking around at what others are doing and then trying to imitate them. We feel that if we don’t have the thing that others have, then we are fools. Everybody has ignorance. We also have ignorance, but we think that if we do not have a large enough quantity of ignorance then we are inferior.

A child has a balloon. He feels that his balloon is the best thing on earth. But he does not want to remember that a balloon is always very short-lived and will soon burst. He only wants to remember that it is his possession and he does not want to part with it. Ignorance is like a balloon. We feel that if this little toy is taken away from us, then we will be totally lost and have nothing. But when we consciously enter into the spiritual life, we feel that ignorance is constantly tempting us and never fulfilling us. We feel that the more we play with the balloon the more we are being frustrated and destroyed. We have to know what we want: temptation or fulfilment. If fulfilment is our choice, then temptation has to be discarded from our life of aspiration.

In our ordinary day-to-day life ignorance is like a camel: while a camel is eating thorns its mouth bleeds, but it continues to eat thorns because it has formed the habit of eating thorns. When we are eight or nine years old, ignorance starts entering into us most powerfully. Before that time, ignorance knows that we are helpless and that at any moment it can attack us. But again, the power of the soul is very strong. When the soul enters into the body, for one, two, three, four, five or six years, it remains absolutely powerful because it has the capacity to remain in the fore. But gradually the child starts learning many wrong things from his parents, neighbours, friends and the outer atmosphere, and ignorance enters. When the child is growing up, he sees many shortcomings in his parents but he does not know that these are shortcomings. He thinks that these are things that he needs. He thinks that he needs them to stay on earth and to prove that he is also a real human being. So in this way he starts cherishing in his mind, vital or physical these ideas that come from the physical senses. When he starts using his physical senses without being inspired from the heart, darkness enters into his eyes and blinds them and falsehood enters into his ears and poisons them. All the undivine qualities enter into him as his life-boat sails.

There is nobody on earth from the age of thirteen on who can say that he or she does not know what ignorance is. Before that, when one is a child, one cannot differentiate light from ignorance. He can’t be blamed. But after the age of thirteen, our conscience tells us whether we are doing the right thing or not. Our conscience starts functioning even at the age of three or four or five, but at that time our conscience does not have enough power to regulate our life. When a child does something wrong he may be scolded and threatened, but he does not actually understand that his action is something that is going to create a dark spot in his own life. He does not realise that there is a tablet in his heart and if he does anything wrong that tablet will be full of spots. He feels that if he has done something wrong and his mother or father has scolded him, then it is over. But when we are thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, or sixteen years old, we know that whenever we make a mistake we have to pay the penalty.

How can we overcome ignorance? In this world we know only two things: I want or I don’t want. We either accept or reject. In God’s cosmic Game there are only two things: Ignorance and knowledge. So we have to say, "I want knowledge, divine wisdom, and I don’t want ignorance."

When we enter deeply into the spiritual life we feel that ignorance is something that has to be overcome. It is binding us and is constantly offering us frustration. At that time we say, "I don’t want ignorance, I want light." At every moment one has to practise acceptance and rejection. Every thought is either composed of ignorance or of wisdom, of darkness or of light. There is nothing in between. Either darkness is filling the vessel or light is filling the vessel. This is why we have to allow the light to enter into the vessel. If we don’t allow light in, then naturally darkness will come and fill up the vessel.

As there is no limit to darkness, so also there is no limit to light. Now it is up to us to choose. We can live in darkness and ignorance or we can live in light. Today it is difficult for a human being to live in light. It is easier for him to live in darkness. But tomorrow that particular seeker will find it really difficult, extremely difficult to live in ignorance and darkness because he has begun to live in light.

What to accept? Light. Why to accept? Because it is in the light that we have the message of fulfilment and perfection. It is in the light that we see reality and divinity. Why do we reject darkness and ignorance? Because inside ignorance we are constantly seeing the game of temptation and frustration, and we do not want to take part in the game. But even if we just become observers we will be affected. People who have entered into the spiritual life and do not take a conscious part in ignorance may observe at a distance, but I wish to say that even at a distance they are bound to be affected. The best thing is to be freed totally from the game of temptation and frustration. It is easy. First we won’t observe the game in ourselves; then we won’t observe it in others. We then have to feel in ourselves another game. And this is the game of aspiration and illumination. Let us become united with aspiration and illumination. If we play with them, then ignorance can easily be overcome.

Part II — Questions and answers

Question: What is ignorance? I don't understand what it is.

Sri Chinmoy: Ignorance is all the things that stand in your way in your spiritual life. It is your lack of awareness of your true inner cry for God. You have ignorance because you don’t always try to cherish divine thoughts. How many times a day do you become a victim to doubt? How many times a day do you feel that God does not care for you? This is your ignorance. If you can feel that God cares infinitely more for you than you care for God, then you are giving your ignorance to God. The best thing for you is not to doubt your inner life of aspiration. If you doubt, God can never hear you. Or even if He hears, He is not going to answer, because there is no bridge between your doubting mind and God’s Compassion. But if there is aspiration, then immediately there will be a bridge between your cry and God’s Smile.

Question: When did ignorance first strike us?

Sri Chinmoy: When we are in the soul’s region there is no ignorance. But the very moment we come into the world and look around, even if we don’t open our eyes, ignorance comes and enters into us. Again, with our conscious aspiration we are able to know what ignorance is and what light and truth are. Then we see that ignorance is not the whole world; light is also here. Ignorance is not the lord; the lord is light.

Now ignorance is ruling us and lording it over us. But if we transform our ignorance, then it is we who will rule ignorance. A wild animal can kill us, but if we are skilful we can tame the animal. A tiger can kill us but there are people who can tame tigers. You can see tamed tigers in the zoo or circus. This ignorance that comes to devour us we can immediately tame with our soul’s strength and power. For our own purpose we can transform this ignorance-tiger and use its power and capacity for a divine purpose. We see in the world around us people who are ignorant and acting like mad elephants with enormous strength. If we can change or transform their natures with our own aspiration, realisation and illumination, then we will be using their same strength for a divine purpose.

Question: From the spiritual point of view what is the difference between stupidity and ignorance?

Sri Chinmoy: Stupidity is a child of ignorance. Ignorance is the mother and father of stupidity, imperfection, limitation and bondage. What is stupidity after all? It is our fear of the unknown, the vast. In stupidity doubt, fear, anxiety, worry, temptation, frustration and destruction grow. But in the sea of wisdom, there sincerity, simplicity, fulfilment and the message of constant illumination and perfection grow. If we know that our inner reality is vast and infinite, we can never be satisfied with something limited, transitory or fleeting.

We cherish many stupid thoughts and ideas; in our day-to-day life we forget that we have an eternal life, an endless life, a divine reality within us. One of the most stupid thoughts or ideas that we cherish is the idea that we cannot realise the Infinite, that we cannot realise God. We think it is far beyond our capacity. This idea is based on stupidity. When we enter into the spiritual life we have to always feel consciously and constantly that God is inspiring us to realise Him. In our conscious inner cry for the Highest we will have our constant union with God. This is the only message that God wants to offer us in our life of aspiration.

We stupidly feel that God is eternal and immortal and we are all meaningless creatures. If we feel that our Father is millions and billions of miles away from us, we will never realise Him. We have to feel that although He is eternal, still He is crying to offer His Infinity and Immortality to us. Only if we have that kind of feeling and inner conviction can we put an end to our stupidity.

Question: If a person has something like a brain defect and in this incarnation is like a vegetable, will he suffer even if he is not outwardly conscious or aware of his defect?

Sri Chinmoy: Ordinary people feel miserable if they don’t do anything for a month, so imagine a whole incarnation. There is tremendous inner suffering in the heart, but because these people can’t express their feelings, we feel that they don’t suffer. We feel that they are like solid stone, but they do have a heart and they do suffer. When the soul leaves the body, it will feel sorry that this person stayed on earth but could not do anything, that there was no progress. At the time of death the soul will feel miserable. "Sixty years I have stayed on earth and I have not done anything good." If the mind and body have stayed on earth for sixty or seventy years and could not do anything, when the soul goes back to the higher worlds it will really suffer.


Each thought is precious
    When we live in the world
    Of desire.

A precious thought blossoms
    In the Garden
    Of God’s gracious Light.

A precious will is born
    In the Heart
    Of God’s Intuition bright.

A precious surrender is born
    When God and man
    Barter their precious treasures.

    Man, his agelong ignorance-sea;
    God, His Infinity’s Peace and Bliss.

Part III — Pain and suffering

I have become Earth's advocate

I have seen the tears of sorrow,
I have felt the pangs of heartache,
I have become
    Earth’s advocate for
    Heaven’s consideration
    God’s Compassion.

Physical pain and psychic pain

There is a general notion that if we go through suffering, tribulations and physical pain then our system will be purified. This idea is not founded upon reality. There are many people who are suffering because of their past karma or because undivine forces are attacking them, but we can’t say that they are nearing their destination. No! They have to aspire more sincerely in order to reach their destination. We shall not welcome pain; we shall try to conquer pain if it appears. If we can take pain as an experience, then we can try to transform it into joy by our own identification with joy, which we then try to bring into the pain itself.

Physical pain, vital pain and mental pain have to be transformed into joy through our constant inner cry for something that will give us real and permanent satisfaction. In the spiritual life the best thing is to take pain as an experience which has to be transformed into an experience of joy. Joy is the only eternal reality, the only permanent and everlasting reality. But it is absolutely wrong to say that each time we suffer we go one step ahead towards our goal.

There are various roads to our destination. On one road we have thorns in the way; the other road is a sunlit path. When we can go on the sunlit path, why should we suffer from thorns or any other obstacle? Suppose you want to go to Manhattan. There are roads where the traffic is very bad, but there may be a road where there is no traffic. How fast we reach our destination depends on which road we take.

There are some people who feel that pain is indispensable, but it is not necessary to go through suffering before we can enter into the kingdom of Delight. Many people have realised God through love. The Father has love for the child and the child has love for the Father. This love takes us to our goal. Our philosophy emphasises the positive way of approaching Truth. We have limited light; now let us increase it. Let us progress from more light to abundant light to infinite Light.

Many human beings do not pray and meditate. They have material possessions and achievements and are leading a comfortable life. When the results of their own ignorance come to them, then they suffer. Some people also have gone through painful periods of doubt, fear, worry and anxiety in the spiritual life. This pain is worse than physical pain. Self-doubt or doubt of God is the worst possible pain. "I cannot do this," or, "God won’t do this for me. I cannot work for God." This kind of doubt is our worst torture. There can be no pain more bitter.

We know physical pain, vital pain and mental pain. But there is also psychic pain. On the ordinary human level, we get psychic pain when someone whom we are attached to deserts us. But on the spiritual level, psychic pain is an inner pain, a sense of supreme loss, the feeling that our Beloved Supreme, for whom we are crying, is still far away. Once upon a time we had infinite wealth, but we have lost it. We are like a traveller whose money drops from his pocket on the road. Here we are travelling in the world of ignorance, and we have lost our inner wealth. This kind of psychic pain is extremely significant. This pain is like a hunger, an inner urge to reach the Highest. One kind of hunger is for name, fame and earthly achievements, but inner hunger is different. Psychic pain comes from eternal hunger, which is absolutely necessary in the spiritual life. Without eternal hunger we will not be able to reach the highest, ultimate Goal. In the spiritual life dissatisfaction with finite achievements will not be like ordinary dissatisfaction. In ordinary dissatisfaction when we don’t get something we want, immediately we revolt and we stop praying for it. It is like sour grapes. But in the spiritual life, dissatisfaction is very sweet. We have something and we feel that this is not enough. We came from the Supreme, who is infinite, eternal, immortal. How can we be satisfied with the achievement of the finite, knowing that we are chosen children of the Supreme? It is our soul that is bringing to the fore the message that nothing finite can satisfy us. Only the Infinite, the Eternal can satisfy us.

The highest discovery is this: we came from Delight, we are in Delight, we grow in Delight and at the end of our journey’s close we retire into Delight. Delight is now in the inner world. The outer world is all suffering. We see people quarrelling and fighting. We have many undivine elements in us: fear, doubt, anxiety, worry and so forth. But when we go deep within, on the strength of our highest meditation, we discover that Delight was our origin, our Source. In Delight we play the cosmic Game and at the end of the cosmic Game we again retire into Delight.

Part IV — Questions and answers

Question: Why do we have to pass through sad experiences such as suffering and sorrow?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two ways to look at the truth. One is to look at the truth directly, the other is to look indirectly. In the Mahabharata, India’s greatest scripture, we notice something very significant. Kunti, the mother of the five Pandavas used to pray to Lord Krishna for suffering. She would cry, "Give me suffering, O Lord Krishna! If you give me suffering I will be able to think of you, otherwise I may forget you." People forget God when they are in happiness, but when children, parents or friends are suffering, they cry out for God’s help. Kunti was a clever woman. She prayed to Lord Krishna to keep her in constant suffering so that she would always be able to pray to God. This is one way of looking at the truth.

But there is another way of looking at the truth. This way says that God is all Love, all Compassion. Why should we need suffering in order to think of Him? If He is really all Love, if His very nature is all Love and we pray to Him to give us suffering so that we can think of Him, then we are approaching the truth in the wrong way.

Why do we experience suffering? In this world we are always consciously or unconsciously making mistakes. When we consciously make mistakes, we are quite aware of it. But unfortunately, we do not see the millions of things that we are doing wrong unconsciously. These unconscious mistakes manifest themselves in the physical world and the results come to us as suffering. In the case of ordinary unaspiring human beings, after tremendous suffering, sincerity dawns and the soul leads them to knowledge and wisdom. If people who repeatedly make mistakes have sincere aspiration and want to know why they are suffering, then the soul’s light comes to the fore and tells them. If we are spiritual people, consciously we will not do anything wrong, but unconsciously we do many things wrong. We can prevent unconscious mistakes only through our aspiration, prayer and meditation. If we aspire, then God’s Grace and Compassion protect us.

There is something else that we have to know about what we call suffering. Often we think of God, pray to God and meditate on God and then we see that all sorts of problems arise in our life. Some disciples have said to me, "I was very happy until I entered the spiritual path. I thought when entering into the spiritual path that I would have more happiness, more joy, more bliss. Now what is all this? I am getting more suffering, more frustration!" I tell them, "You created God according to your own fancy. You imagined that God should be this or that." If we are really sincere, we should go deep within and see whether we had these difficulties before or not. We did have the same difficulties before we accepted spirituality, but we were not aware of them before. Spirituality is the path of awareness and consciousness. After we accept spirituality we become aware of every thought, while before we accepted the spiritual path, we were not aware of our thoughts. Previously, many things were happening to us, but we were like a solid wall and were unaware of these things. But now, as seekers, we are affected whenever a good or bad thought enters into our mind. If it is a divine thought we are happy. If it is a wrong thought we are frustrated and disappointed. This is the result of our spiritual awareness. If we are sincere with ourselves, we come to realise that we have always had the same difficulties, the same sufferings, but previously we were not conscious of them. We were stupid and we did not know. Now we have become wise. We have become conscious and we know what is happening.

Again, we have to know that when we enter the spiritual life, the hostile forces attack us. Before, when we lived in ignorance and were a slave to ignorance, ignorance let us sleep. As long as it had us under its control, as long as we were wallowing inside it, it did not disturb us. But when we enter the spiritual life and try to escape from ignorance, at that time ignorance tries to hold us down. So sometimes the seeker will find he is having some difficulties at the beginning of his spiritual journey that he did not have before, but as he progresses, these difficulties fall away.

God does not want suffering for human beings. He is our Father of Love. When we go to our Father, we don't have to cut our arms or our throat. We will go with all our love because He is waiting for us with His Love. If we say that we have to suffer in order to go to our Father, that is stupidity. God, our Father, does not want our suffering.

But when suffering does come we have to feel that even in this suffering there is a divine intention. If we really aspire, suffering itself will give us a real experience which will make us feel that we are nearer to our goal. But we should never find fault with God because of our suffering. It is we who have invited suffering through our conscious or unconscious mistakes. When suffering comes to us, we have to pray to God to free us from this suffering. We have to know that suffering is not our goal; the goal is Delight. When we have penetrated into the suffering, when we have gone beyond the suffering, we see that it becomes Delight. And then we can remain in that Delight which is inside the suffering.

Question: I feel unhappy when I think of the suffering that is going on in the world, that children are starving and things like that.

Sri Chinmoy: The fact that you are suffering is a sign that you have a very big heart. You feel sorry that although you are able to feed your children, your neighbour is unable to feed her children. God has given you what you need while He has not given somebody else the things that she needs. But we have to know that we are all human beings. Our compassion is good, but the amount of compassion that we have is next to nothing when compared to God’s Compassion. God created you and it is His Compassion that has given you money and material wealth. Do you not think that since He is Infinite, He also has the capacity to give the same amount of material wealth to others? There is a special purpose in what He is doing. Why He has not given wealth to others, He alone knows. In this incarnation God has given you money, material wealth, a husband and children and many other things. But who knows in your past incarnation what kind of suffering you may have gone through? And what will happen in the next incarnation, we also do not know.

It is like a game. Suppose one of your team’s players has been attacked by your opponents and is badly injured. Naturally you will feel sorry that you have lost a player from your team. But if you constantly think of the player who is suffering, how will you be able to play the game? God wants you to play your own game. You have lost a partner in the game, but you must also remember that in this game, your team needs you badly.

What your side needs is your joy. Your cheerfulness is like the strength of a lion, the strength of an elephant. When you identify yourself with suffering humanity, your heart may be big, but your cheerfulness is lost. It is true that your team-mate has fallen, that humanity is weak. But when your own cheerfulness goes away, then you become weak in a different way. You cannot make your own progress. If you are dwelling on the thought that people are sick, or people are poor, then while they are weak in one way, you become weak in another way by losing your own joy. So instead of one weak soldier, now there are two.

Again, there are many people who feel sorry for the suffering of others and it is right to feel sorry for others. But in some cases the after-effect is often a kind of inner revolt. We ask, "What kind of God is He who cannot take care of His children?" Instead of accepting God’s Will and surrendering to it with the knowledge that He knows what is best for all of His children, we blame God and criticise Him.

When we see suffering, we must immediately throw unhappiness from our minds and make our minds clear. We must feel that this is an experience God is having in and through those people and that when the time comes, when the hour strikes, those people also will be given material wealth. You may sympathise for a second, but you must maintain your cheerfulness; you must make your own progress. Your progress means your joy. When you make your own progress, you will have joy that you will be able to spread all over the world.

If we try to make our fastest progress, we will become one with God. When we go into our highest, automatically real power enters from the highest into the earth-consciousness. At that time, the suffering of humanity is helped. The higher we go the more we spread our wings. We spread our wings and can carry all of humanity. In this way we can really save ourselves and humanity. All the spiritual Masters do this.

Question: Is there any spiritual significance to the energy crises, wars and other problems the world is having now?

Sri Chinmoy: The divine forces are trying to bring Light into the world, but right now the world is run by the undivine forces. There is a great difference between the Supreme’s approval, the Supreme’s sanction and the Supreme’s tolerance. The Supreme has created us and He has given us very limited freedom. But we are using that freedom in a very undivine way. Right now, we are all acting like mad elephants, and He is just tolerating us. The Supreme does not want us to behave this way; He does not want hostility, conflicts, fighting and quarrelling between nations, but He has given us limited freedom and we are doing these things. But a day will come when the Supreme will not tolerate anything.

There is no spiritual significance in the world upheaval in the sense that from this something very spiritual, divine or magnificent will come about. It is we who are creating that kind of suffering. Sometimes on rare occasions suffering helps us in purifying our life. But the present problems are being created by silly, undeveloped, obscure, impure people. We are suffering and we shall suffer more because of our own ignorance.

It is true that we can take everything as spiritual; everything as God’s Will. If we are seekers, then we can console ourselves in this way. But why should it be God’s Will for us to quarrel and fight and kill each other? This is not God’s Will, it is our will, and He is just tolerating us.

Seekers must be very careful. They must not resort to violence even in their thoughts or ideas. Even in their minds they must not think ill of anybody. To think ill of somebody in the mental world is to kill that person and deliberately pull down his consciousness.

Question: When I read the newspapers and see all the suffering and violence in the world, it upsets me.

Sri Chinmoy: If you are disturbed by reading newspapers, then why do you read newspapers? If there are thorns lying right in front of you, will you walk on the thorns and then feel miserable because your feet hurt? This is stupidity. If you know that the newspaper is full of undivine forces on every page, which is true, then why do you read it? In the spiritual life, if you want to make the fastest progress, you should always read the things that will inspire you and lead you towards your goal.

There are people who read newspapers and they are not affected. I read The New York Times occasionally. I am not affected because I see it as an experience. I know that whatever has happened has been recorded in the cosmos, in the universe. Of course, I sympathise. While I am reading, I sympathise with the sufferer. But if I cherish or harbour that person’s suffering, then my meditation will be useless. So when I meditate I don’t think of how someone has shot someone else; I do not allow any force like this to enter.

You have to know how much capacity you have. You have to accept and reject the world according to your capacity. If you do not have the capacity to accept the experience as an experience, then it is not necessary to read the newspaper at all. Things that stand in the way of your inner life must be discarded like a dirty, filthy rag. You should constantly deal only with the things that inspire you. If the newspaper stands as an obstacle in your way, if it destroys your inner poise, which is your real wealth, then you don’t have to read it. But just because you see something in front of you, out of curiosity you want to touch it. If you see a flame and touch it out of curiosity, naturally you will be burnt.

A newspaper has only world-information. By getting world-information, you come nowhere nearer to God. There are many spiritual persons who say that newspapers are all falsehood. There are other people who will not believe anything until they see it printed the following morning in the newspaper. Perhaps they have seen with their own eyes that a house has burnt to ashes, and still they will not believe it. But when it comes out in the newspaper they say, "Yes, it is true it did happen." For these people, the newspaper becomes their Guru.

Question: Often when I know I am coming to meditation, I develop a swollen gland or a headache. Is there a connection between this and my looking forward to this occasion?

Sri Chinmoy: The hostile forces attack us because deep inside our being, our consecration to the Supreme is not yet complete. We are not yet sure of what we actually want. When we have not yet fully decided what we are going to eat — either a mango or some other fruit — the hostile forces come and stand between our desire and our aspiration. Aspiration brings us to the goal, to the reality. Desire immediately makes friends with something that we don’t want either for God or for our own inner being. Hostile forces are always on the alert. If there is any opening in the mind, vital, physical or subtle physical, then the hostile forces will attack us. They want to separate us from our aspiration. They bring desire and try to kill aspiration. Many times they succeed, but a spiritually alert person will take aspiration and enter into desire in order to kill it. If desire enters into aspiration, aspiration is ruined. If aspiration enters into desire, then desire is transformed.

When you want to come here you become a victim to the hostile attacks. These attacks come primarily for two reasons. The first reason is that the physical is mercilessly opposed to the heart’s psychic aspiration. Your inner aspiration is running much faster than your physical capacity or necessity. The physical is constantly playing the part of a robber. The soul is gaining something for you and the physical is robbing it and squandering it. When we receive something from the soul, we should feed our aspiration with the soul’s light. Instead, when we receive light from the soul, the physical throws it all away without utilising it for its own illumination.

The second reason for these hostile attacks is uncertainty. You have jumped into the sea of Infinity; on the other hand there is a feeling of uncertainty. You want to know what you are going to get from the sea of Infinity. From the ocean of Infinity you will get infinite wealth and that infinite wealth is the immortalised Consciousness which pervades the entire universe. You are going towards what your soul wants, but your physical mind is afraid of it. When there is an iota of fear in us, the hostile forces feel that they have every right to enter into us. But the moment Infinity is accepted as something of our own, something we have forgotten but which we will one day become, there can be no fear and the hostile forces will leave us alone.

Question: Why does a God-realised Yogi suffer?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two types of suffering. The first type of suffering is human suffering. In this suffering we feel either that we have lost something or that we are not getting something. In a human way, we lose something and then we suffer, or we don’t get something and we suffer. It is very simple. Also, we suffer if we have to have something which is painful.

Then there is another suffering that is a more subtle suffering: divine suffering. In divine suffering you see the vision of the ultimate Truth, but you see that the world is not accepting it. The world is rejecting it. The world needs the vision of the ultimate Truth, but it does not care for it, it feels that it does not need it.

You will ask, "How is this possible? If you see the Truth, if you are really dedicated and devoted to the Supreme, then why should you suffer?" A realised soul suffers in spite of seeing the Truth because the world not only refuses to accept Light, but actually stands in the way of Light. A realised soul has come into the world to offer Light, and the Supreme wants him to offer Light, but the world stands against him. It is for the world that he has come, but the world will not accept him; it rejects him at every moment. This suffering takes place on a divine level where the Reality itself is crying to fulfil itself. A realised soul is a channel for the Reality, but the ignorance-world does not want that Reality to manifest itself here on earth.

God has created this world. God is Love, God is Law. He has created the world, but now the world, His own creation, is not consciously trying to fulfil Him. He has created the instrument, but the instrument consciously and deliberately does not want to be played upon by the Creator.

A realised soul does not suffer in his highest Self. But he suffers just because he lives in his dearest ones, who still cling to the suffering world. He has two levels of consciousness. One level is his divine, limitless Consciousness, the other is his finite, limited consciousness. He has to have the finite consciousness; otherwise, it is simply impossible for him to enter into his disciples or for his disciples to enter into him. His limitless Consciousness flows through the finite in him to the finite in the individual seeker. Similarly, the individual seeker enters through his finite consciousness into his infinite Consciousness. During this period, when he has to separate his infinite Consciousness from his finite consciousness to play the cosmic Game properly, he is partially caught. Then he suffers.

Suffering can purify the heart. When does suffering purify the heart? When we aspire for the Beyond, when we cry for infinite Peace, Light and Bliss, then the suffering that comes to us as an experience along the way purifies our heart. In the ordinary human life, if someone suffers because a son or a close friend has died, this suffering is not going to purify him. But in the spiritual life, suffering comes to us as an experience to widen our consciousness, to expand our inner reality. At that time suffering purifies our heart.

If suffering comes, what suffers? The body suffers, the vital suffers, our worldly existence suffers. When the body suffers, when our worldly existence suffers, at that time we have to feel that we are not going to carry these things through Eternity. These are perishable things. In the physical world, suffering is a reality.

But in the soul’s region, suffering has no value. Let us think of God, pray to God, meditate on God, not because the world is full of suffering or because we are suffering, but because God is all Love, all Joy, all Blessing, all Compassion. Then suffering will automatically be transformed into Light and Delight.

Question: How can we understand the suffering of Jesus on the Cross when he said, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"

Sri Chinmoy: Jesus was the Messenger of Truth, the chosen Child of God. He sacrificed everything for the world. He wanted to illumine the world. He wanted this physical world to be totally one with the world beyond. He said the Kingdom of Heaven will be established here on earth. He wanted to unite Heaven and earth. The world offered in return ignorance and ungratefulness to the Son of God.

While he was making his supreme sacrifice for the world, he became totally one with the vast ignorance of the world. When he said, "O God, why have You forsaken me?" it was the physical in him which had come to the fore. At his last moment, he became totally one with the physical world. It was first his acceptance, and then finally his oneness with the world that made him feel this great sorrow.

I have concentrated deeply on this utterance, and I know at that last fateful moment it was the man in the Christ that spoke to the Superman in him. It was his finite life that was praying to his infinite life. Those who want to understand that utterance can do so only by realising that Jesus accepted the world, became part and parcel of the world and became the spokesman for the world.

Question: Why do I feel a kind of pain when I create something?

Sri Chinmoy: When we create something we are revealing what we have felt. Our revelation is inferior to what we have felt, so we get a kind of inner pain or psychic pain. Also, when we create something, sometimes an inner gratitude comes. This gratitude can manifest itself as physical pain. Tearful joy is extremely important. If you feel that the pain is from the Supreme, then take it as something most significant. Otherwise, please disregard it. The best thing is to offer our gratitude to the Supreme when we have manifested Him according to our capacity.

Your sadness immeasurable

“Lord, Your sadness
How can I relieve?”

Think that I suffer,
    Feel that I suffer,
    Love humanity as I do.

Lo, half of My suffering-night
    Has captured your oneness-love
    With its Reality-height.

Part V — Negative forces

My choice

Whom am I going to choose: God?
Ah, He has already
    Chosen me, my all.

Whom am I going to choose: Ignorance?
Alas, I have already
    Chosen her, her brooding

Question: What are negative forces?

Sri Chinmoy: Negative forces are those forces that tell you that you are hopeless and useless, that you cannot realise God and that it is useless to try. These are the forces that tell you not to pray and meditate because there is nothing in meditation. If you allow these negative forces to enter into you, if you become one with them, then you will feel that your life has no meaning.

Positive forces make you feel that you are God’s chosen son and that you have the possibility and potentiality of doing something significant for God and for your own divinity at every moment. If you remain in the heart, you will encounter very few negative forces, practically none. But if you live in the mind, the negative forces will often threaten you. Today you may think that you have conquered the negative forces, but tomorrow they will attack you more powerfully and vehemently than you ever thought possible. It is almost impossible to conquer something with the mind. But with the heart, it is not only possible and practical, but inevitable that you will conquer all negative forces. As a matter of fact, in the pure, aspiring heart there is not even one single negative force. It is in the mind and in the vital, which is very near the heart, that the negative forces exist. In the mind they operate in a clever, roguish and stealthy manner. In the vital the negative forces use their power in a very aggressive way; there is no secrecy about them; they just come and attack.

Question: If we are nice to others, won't they be nice to us?

Sri Chinmoy: We think that if we are nice to others, then everybody will be nice to us, but it is not true. You may be very nice, but I can be nasty. No matter how nice, pure or sincere you are, if there is a monkey beside you, the very nature of the monkey is to bite you. You think, "Oh, if I am a saint, the monkey is not going to bite me." You can be a saint but still the monkey will bite. So no matter how sincere you are, the very nature of the hostile forces is to attack.

I am a nice man, but two days ago while I was sitting on the playing field, a wasp came and stung me. I think I have more purity and spirituality than anyone else presently there, but of all the people it had to come to me.

Question: Do wars result from the fact that we have not been able to reconcile our lives to our souls?

Sri Chinmoy: We have not been able to enter into the soul’s region, so we do not know what the soul wants from us. We do not have free access to the soul. Our soul may want us to do something, but the physical mind is constantly standing in its way. The physical mind does not co-operate at all with our inner existence.

What are we fighting against in the inner world? We are fighting against ignorance. This ignorance has to be nipped in the bud. As long as ignorance remains in our being, we will feel that the world is not ours. We will feel that it is something totally different from us which we have to possess. The moment we are freed from the grip of ignorance, we will feel the world deep within us. At that time, there is no need to possess it, since it is already ours.

Now we are fighting because we feel that a particular plot of land or country is not ours and we want to possess it. But when we are freed from ignorance, in our inner existence we will feel that the whole world is ours. It is not something to be fought for because deep within us it is already our possession.

So you have to be very careful. Remain only in the heart, and not in the unaspiring mind or the unaspiring vital. When the mind and the vital really aspire, they will take their legitimate place alongside the heart. They will reveal and manifest the divine forces as their very own. They will learn the secret that the heart already knows: to claim everything and everyone as their very own and to see everything as an extension of their own consciousness.

Question: Where are the hostile forces located?

Sri Chinmoy: We don’t have to go to hell or any particular place to see hostile, undivine forces. They are all around us, and also within us. It is only when we change our consciousness that wrong forces are really transformed. The world we are living in is full of ignorant forces, and they get malicious pleasure when they can disturb the poise of the divine forces. We have to try to avoid and ignore these malicious forces that intentionally try to disturb our poise.

Question: Under what circumstances are the hostile forces most likely to attack us?

Sri Chinmoy: They may come to one person in a dream and try to attack him while in the case of another person they may attack in his waking hours when he is walking or driving a car. In the case of a third person they may attack during the time of meditation. Hostile forces are very clever. They attack when our own weaknesses are coming to the fore.

Editor's introduction to the first edition

The problems of human suffering and of the presence of evil in the world are the questions which form some of man’s most fundamental and lasting concerns and arouse his deepest emotions. In many cases, man’s attempt to solve these problems has given birth to his most noble humanitarian undertakings, his most profound philosophy and his loftiest aspirations for self-transcendence through spirituality. Mystical traditions of the East have explained the workings of forces of destruction and disorder not as a judgement for wrongdoing, but as the result of ignorance of the ultimate Truth. In this book, Sri Chinmoy explains the nature of ignorance and the meaning of suffering as they can be explained only from the standpoint of the highest and most universal understanding of the world and its Creator.

Translations of this page: Italian
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