The inner world and the outer world

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Part I — Discourse

The inner world and the outer world

The inner world prepares me. The outer world utilises me.

The inner world feeds me. The outer world announces me.

In the inner world I am all aspiration. In the outer world I am all revelation. What is aspiration? Aspiration is a soulful cry of my eternal life. What is revelation? Revelation is a fruitful smile of my immortal soul.

In the inner world I know that I eternally am. In the outer world I know that I constantly can. I am eternally God's instrument. This is what I know in the inner world. I can serve God, please God and fulfil God in His own Way. This is what I know in the outer world.

In the inner world I try to see God's Height, His transcendental Height. In the outer world I try to see God's Length, His boundless Length.

In the inner world I try to enter into God's Golden Boat. Out of His infinite Bounty He allows me to be in His Boat. In the outer world God carries me and pilots me to His Reality Shore, at His choice Hour. This also He does out of His infinite Bounty.

There comes a time when my inner world and my outer world become inseparably one. At that time I feel that my reality and God's Reality are inseparably one, that my reality's height and God's Reality's Height are inseparably one, that my vision-world and God's Vision-World are inseparably one. At that time I as a seeker become one with my Master, I as a dreamer become one with my reality, I as a divine lover become one with my Supreme Beloved.

In my inner world I need to love my outer world more, in a divine way. In my outer world I need to listen to my inner world more, in a soulful way. If I do not feel the need for my inner world, my aspiration-world, then I shall not be able to understand my outer world. My outer world's determination, manifestation, perfection and satisfaction entirely depend on my inner world's peace, harmony and oneness.

25 October 1978 St. Paul's Chapel Columbia University New York, New York

Part II — Interview on "The Other Hour" Wrvr-Fm radio

//On 3 July 1977 Sri Chinmoy was the guest on "The Other Hour," a radio program broadcast live in New York on radio station WRVR. Following is a transcript of the interview.//

Donna Halper: You are with "The Other Hour," and with our theme song we are actually on the air, through the Grace of God. I'm Donna Halper. You never know what you are going to hear on "The Other Hour," but what you are going to hear tonight is a little bit different and a little bit unique. We have a very, very great person, with whom you are probably familiar if you are into music at all. He's been the spiritual Master of a number of major musicians, and is also a great philosopher and teacher, and a musician himself. Of course, I am talking about Sri Chinmoy, who is our guest in the studio tonight. You can call in and speak with him a little bit later. I think before we do anything else. Sri Chinmoy would you like to play some music for us? I believe this is connected with meditation. Am I correct Guru? Music for meditation.

[Sri Chinmoy plays the esraj.]

Donna Halper: Wow! How would you like to do that for the whole rest of the show? God is that beautiful! We have a whole group of engineers who are saying that's nice, seriously. For our audience the instrument which he is playing is called the esraj. I'd like to ask you now what is the purpose of this music when you are meditating? What is the effect it is supposed to have on a person while he is meditating?

Sri Chinmoy: Soulful music intensifies our meditation. Soulful music expedites our soul's journey. Soulful music helps the seeker establish his conscious and inseparable oneness with the Supreme Pilot. Therefore I give great importance to music in the spiritual life.

Donna Halper: In other words, to hear music helps one to become more in tune with God. How does it do this? If I were an atheist and I heard that music, I don't know if I would think about God, but I know that I would feel very relaxed and peaceful. Would you say that that feeling means being closer to God?

Sri Chinmoy: We cannot define God in terms of one specific feeling or experience. Each one has to experience God for himself. If we say God is all Peace or God is all Delight then there will be people to contradict us. Each one has to define God for himself. We all want to have satisfaction. I have satisfaction by experiencing truth and light and others will also derive satisfaction from that reality-experience although they may call it by a different name.

Donna Halper: But don't people come to you looking to find out what God is?

Sri Chinmoy: They do come to me for that but only people who believe in God come to me. Stark atheists do not come to me. For them God is something else. The God we speak of is not God for them. But again I have deepest respect for their God. If they say that there is no such thing as God I say all right. As long as they believe in something I feel that that very thing is God for God is omniscient omnipresent and omnipotent.

Donna Halper: So the person who believes in music, for instance, or the person who is very, very into something, like playing an instrument- that's a form of religion, too?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not a form of religion but it is a form of communication with the Source.

Donna Halper: Sri Chinmoy, when people come to you, what are they usually hoping to find?

Sri Chinmoy: Usually they hope for peace of mind. They expect a better understanding of life. They expect inner ecstasy.

Donna Halper: Do you give them that?

Sri Chinmoy: I do offer it to them and they receive from me according to their receptivity.

Donna Halper: There are so many people seeking, trying to find out about religion. They don't feel satisfied with organised religion, let us say, so they come to you. How would they know whether or not you are the right spiritual Master for them?

Sri Chinmoy: They will be able to discover this in a few minutes' time. As soon as they see me if I am meant for them they will get a kind of vibration, a kind of familiar feeling. They don't have to talk to me. They will feel an inner communication. They will see and feel in me a friend, a true, an eternal friend.

Donna Halper: What about the person who comes to you and is very sceptical? Will you also be a friend to that person?

Sri Chinmoy: I will definitely be his friend but he himself will feel uncomfortable. He will have to go to someone else with whom he will feel comfortable and who will he able to guide him in a different way.

Donna Halper: We're talking about music and meditation and religion. To continue on the subject of religion, Guru, there are so many people claiming to be Gurus these days, there are so many people claiming to be Messiahs, claiming to have the right answer. How can a person who is serious about this, tell who is a real spiritual Master and who is not?

Sri Chinmoy: There are quite a few ways to know whether a Master is genuine or not. If the Master says that he will be able to grant you realisation overnight, then he is a false Master. If he says that if you give him a fee of a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, then he will be able to help you enter into a higher realm of consciousness and attain Peace, Light and Bliss, then he is a false Master. A true Master will tell the seeker all the time that he is not God; he is not even the Guru. God Himself is the real Master. The human Master is only serving God in the seekers; he is not the Guru. The real Guru is God Himself. So if a seeker wants to know who a true Master is, from these guidelines he can usually know the real from the false.

Donna Halper: So the person who claims that he has the magic answer is probably not a person who should be taken seriously?

Sri Chinmoy: Spiritual progress is not like instant coffee. It is a slow and steady process. Slowly, steadily and unerringly we have to walk along Eternity's Road in order to reach Infinity’s Goal.

Donna Halper: If someone comes to you and decides that you are the person he would like to study with, what does he have to do?

Sri Chinmoy: There are a few rules and regulations which the seekers must follow if I accept them as my students. First of all, I shall ask them to be very simple, very sincere, humble and pure. I recommend a very simple life.

Donna Halper: We read in the paper about various movements which are very austere, where the men and women are not allowed to associate with each other. They are not allowed to eat meat and they pretty much just stay inside and meditate all the time. Is this the kind of life that your disciples live?

Sri Chinmoy: No, I do not advocate austerity. I do not want my disciples to live in the Himalayan caves. We advocate acceptance of life. We have to accept life and then we have to transform life. There are many things in human life which we cannot appreciate. These are our deplorable weaknesses. So we try to illumine these weaknesses. We do not shun life. We accept life, but we transform the things that have to be transformed.

Donna Halper: In addition to meditation, do your disciples practise any chanting or anything of that nature?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, they do chant occasionally. I have composed quite a few melodies for verses from the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. I have set tune to quite a few verses, and my students occasionally chant them.

Donna Halper: What I am wondering about, as far as meditation goes (and I am sure there are a number of other people interested in this as well), is this: what is the difference between what we might call secular meditation — that is, just going off someplace in the country where it is nice and quiet, and thinking peaceful thoughts — and the meditation that you do with that kind of music and things of that nature? Is there any difference between the two, or are both just steps along the same way?

Sri Chinmoy: If some individuals get peace of mind by living in the countryside and leading a relaxed life, it is good for them. Others want to go through a more disciplined life. They feel that meditation is something very sacred; it is not something casual. For them it is advisable to meditate with utmost concentration in a meditation hall. Whether it is in the city or in the country is not important. Undoubtedly these people will make faster progress than those who just go into the countryside to enjoy the beauty and think good thoughts. But ultimately both the roads lead to the same destination.

Donna Halper: Do you tell your students how to meditate, or are they free to choose for themselves the best way?

Sri Chinmoy: Outwardly I give them only very general guidelines, because each individual's way of meditation is personal and unique. But out of God's infinite Bounty I have the capacity to teach their souls inwardly how to meditate. Each disciple of mine learns his own best way of meditation from his own soul. Also, I have written considerably on meditation and different inner techniques, so they can read my writings.

Donna Halper: For the person who is just by himself and really would like to meditate, is there a way that he can get into it without going to a school or to a teacher and learning how?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. They can read some spiritual books for instruction and then start meditating at home. The best possible thing is to have a peaceful mind — not to allow any thoughts whatsoever to enter into the mind. But they will see that some thoughts are entering in spite of their best efforts, so they will have to make a selection and only allow the good thoughts to remain in the mind. The bad thoughts they will discard as soon as possible. By allowing only the good thoughts to remain, they will be able to get some peace of mind. Meditation means peace in the mind and bliss in the heart.

Donna Halper: Now you are raising a question. I can hear people out there saying, "That's great, to sit there and think good thoughts and things like that. But what about when you are in the middle of the material life and everything is going wrong and it has been a bad day at the office and your boss just yelled at you and so forth and so on. How do you get the good thoughts in your mind at a time like that?"

Sri Chinmoy: Morning shows the day in most cases. In the morning, before we enter into the hustle and bustle of life, before we go out of our house and enter into the day's activities, if we meditate soulfully for a few minutes, then definitely we will get some inner peace. This peace we shall carry inside our hearts when we go to the office or enter into the multifarious activities and confusion of our daily life. Then we can bring to the fore this inner peace when we need it. In this way we will definitely be able to control the situation.

Donna Halper: I think there is a tremendous precedent for that. If I remember correctly, in the Bible it says that the best time to pray is in the morning, because you start out your day thinking about spiritual things, and that carries you through the rest of the day. So what you are saying is not really very different from what we call Western religion.

Sri Chinmoy: There is not so much difference as people think between Western and Eastern religion. We are all God's children. We speak in different languages, but when it is a matter of the heart — your heart, my heart, his heart, her heart — we are all in tune. It is only the mind that creates problems. The aspiring heart is constantly in communication with the soul, and the soul is the representative of God. There is always an abiding truth inside all of us. When it is a matter of real spirituality, there is no geographical barrier — no East, no West, no North, no South. There is only the heart's oneness. It is through our heart's oneness that we fulfil ourselves and fulfil God in and through us.

Donna Halper: When a person becomes more involved in spirituality, this would lead to, let us say, he is becoming less tied to things like prejudices. So he wouldn't have any feelings against any race or any creed or anything like this. People who are caught up in prejudicial thoughts, have they turned away from God, or do they just not understand God, or what?

Sri Chinmoy: They have not necessarily turned away from God, only they understand God according to their limited capacities. But a true seeker will not condemn them. On the contrary, he will try to see and feel that the mistakes committed by them are his own mistakes because he has accepted God totally. This acceptance of God includes the acceptance of God's entire creation, and these people who are making mistakes are also God's children. So the sincere aspirant feels that it is obligatory on his part to consider the weaknesses, the failures and the shortcomings of others as his own. Because he loves God, he feels that he has to be identified with God's creation. He cannot negate God's creation; he cannot speak ill of God's creation. He can only accept God's creation as such and pray and meditate on God to illumine His creation.

Donna Halper: So if a person becomes involved in meditation, the more he meditates and the more he understands about God, will he get more understanding of the world as well?

Sri Chinmoy: He will get more understanding, more illumination. He will be able to accept the world rather than negate the world, for the world is God's creation, and Creator and creation always go together. If we accept them together, then we will be able to fulfil the Supreme Reality within us.

Donna Halper: You get a lot of students, I gather, who would be considered middle class, in that they are products of pretty much the average American home. When they come to you, do they stay, or do you find that they regard meditation as a kind of interesting fad and, after a while, get tired of it?

Sri Chinmoy: Oh, no. In my case I am fortunate enough to be able to tell you that my students have taken spirituality and meditation very seriously. Of course, some people do leave. But in comparison to the number that have come, very few people have left. Meditation is not something that becomes boring after a few years. But because people have their set ways of thinking or because they have personal problems or vital problems, they may leave. They come to feel that this way of meditation is not suitable for them any more, but not because meditation was just a fad for them. They took meditation seriously. But many thoughts, many desires, many fantasies, many idiosyncrasies may come in, and they feel that the path is not suitable any more. So they leave.

Donna Halper: I understand. While we are talking to Sri Chinmoy, if you have any question you would like to ask him, you can call in. If you would like to speak with Sri Chinmoy and ask him some questions on meditation, on Yoga, or on life in general, please call. What you are listening to is "The Other Hour" here on WRVR.

In the meantime, Sri Chinmoy, you've had a number of musicians as your students. People in our audience would be interested in knowing why you think musicians who were so involved in what might be considered the material life — drugs and things like that — may seek a Guru.

Sri Chinmoy: The answer is very simple. The things that they did before did not help them find the true divinity within themselves. They did not find what they were looking for, so they wanted to find a spiritual Master to help them.

Donna Halper: So it seems like you are saying you give the student that which you feel he wants to receive.

Sri Chinmoy: I do not give but I become an instrument. I meditate on God and pray to Him to grant them the things that they want, provided they are good things, divine things, spiritual things, worthwhile things. If the student is longing for something earth-bound, for something that is going to bind him, then I will be the last person to help him get it.

Donna Halper: Now we're going to accept calls from our listening audience. Here's our first call. Good evening. You are on the air.

Caller: I am particularly interested in astral projection. I had an experience three years ago, where I left my body. I had just read about this some time before that, but I didn't do it consciously. It just happened to me. Since then I have been trying to do it consciously. I would like to ask Sri Chinmoy if this is safe. Is it a safe thing to go into by myself?

Donna Halper: Interesting question. Astral projection, leaving the body. Can people actually do this?

Sri Chinmoy: People can do this, but it is advisable to have a teacher who is well qualified in this adventure. Otherwise, it can be a very dangerous thing. It is like learning to drive a car. One needs a teacher in the beginning. If someone tries to learn driving by himself, he is very likely to have an accident.

Donna Halper: What can a teacher teach one about leaving the body?

Sri Chinmoy: Everything can be taught by a qualified teacher. If one can learn a language from a teacher, if one can learn music, if one can learn to dance, one can learn this also.

Caller: I would like to ask the Guru what kind of mental attitude one should have in learning to play music.

Sri Chinmoy: There is something called mental music, something called vital music and something called physical music. But again, there is something called psychic music. If one wants to get true delight from the heart and from the aspiring life, then he must dedicate his music to God. He must play soulful, psychic music — music that will inspire his own life of aspiration and inspire others who hear his music — not music that will excite the vital and arouse the physical consciousness.

Donna Halper: So spiritual music is music that makes you think more about God?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us say, more about satisfaction, light and delight. There may be great musicians who do not believe in God, but they do believe in satisfaction, joy, delight. If you play divine music, spiritual music, then you are bound to give and get satisfaction.

Caller: I'd like to know how much discipline is required to master meditation.

Sri Chinmoy: All the discipline that one can muster in one's own life. Discipline is a continuous process. In this process we make progress. It depends on how sincerely the individual has accepted the spiritual life. If he wants to become perfect, then he has to discipline not only his body, vital and mind but also his entire life, totally. But if he wants to derive only a little satisfaction from life, a little bit of peace from life, then he does not have to go through this total self discipline. It entirely depends on how much the seeker needs from his inner life.

Donna Halper: How does one discipline one's life? What does one have to do?

Sri Chinmoy: He has to be very careful in every way, beginning with the mind. He has to feel that his mind is a room that has a few doors and windows which will let the whole world inside. The seeker has to close the doors and windows and stand at a particular door. Then he must allow inside only the thoughts and ideas that are going to help him in his spiritual life. Purity, peace, harmony, and so on — these are his friends. So he will allow them to enter into his mind-room and he will converse only with them. This is how the individual can practise.

Donna Halper: Does a person have to go away somewhere? Does he have to go to an ashram or a synagogue in order to be successful at meditating?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not necessary to go anywhere. Meditation entirely depends on one's inner sincerity. There are many people who have been to ashrams and monasteries, and there they could not conquer their mind's wrong thoughts. If you remain in a closed room, that does not mean you will have no thoughts about the outside world. It is advisable for a seeker to meditate at a certain place at a specific time, but meditation does not require a life of seclusion.

Caller: How can I contact Sri Chinmoy or become his student?

Sri Chinmoy: There are quite a few ways to approach me. For example, this evening I will give a concert which is open to the public. If the seeker comes to see me and he is inspired, then he can make further inquiries.

Caller: I would like to ask if he feels that a person should refrain from physical and sexual intercourse if he wants to develop his meditation. In other words, does that take anything away from spiritual development?

Donna Halper: Should one refrain from sex if one wants to develop in meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, it is advisable. One has to refrain from all lower vital movements if one wants to make the fastest progress in meditation.

Donna Halper: What are some of the other things that one would have to give up in order to make progress in meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: He has to give up drugs, he has to give up smoking and he has to give up drinking. There are quite a few other things that are spiritually unhealthy as well, but these are the most damaging.

Donna Halper: When one does this then one becomes better at meditation, is that right?

Sri Chinmoy: One becomes a much more receptive vehicle of light.

Caller: I was wondering if you are going to play more music and, if the music is recorded, where we could buy it.

Donna Halper: If the Guru wants to play another selection it's fine with me. Everyone here in the studio was just absolutely flipped out when he was playing. There is a recording on the Folkways label, called 'Music for Meditation." Would you like to do another selection before the show is over?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly.

Caller: If you belong to a specific religious group, is it contradictory to meditate? Does meditation have one specific religion, or can anyone of any religion meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: Meditation far surpasses the barriers of religion. One can follow any religion. Meditation is like a school, and religion is like a house. You can go to a school or college no matter which house you live in. Everybody can meditate, no matter what religion he belongs to or even if he does not belong to any religion.

Donna Halper: So whether you call God by the name Allah or Buddha or Vishnu or whatever, meditation is the same?

Sri Chinmoy: It is only a name. A child will call his father 'Daddy', but the same man is called by a different name when he goes to the office. It is like water. You call it 'water' in English, but a French person will call it 'l'eau', and a Bengali will call it 'jal'. It is the same thing, only called by different names.

Donna Halper: So meditation is kind of like an addition to the religious belief that you already have.

Sri Chinmoy: It is an addition. It is the inner essence of all religions.

Donna Halper: Now that you mention it, isn't there some form of meditation in every religion? They may not call it meditation, but don't all religions have some sort of meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Every religion encourages some kind of inner communion with the Highest.

Caller: If someone was a failure at self-discipline in meditation and other aspects of life, what is the most sincere prayer that kind of person could make to God for guidance in meditation?

Donna Halper: The person who has a hard time accepting the discipline, the person who finds it really difficult to give up smoking or drinking or sex life and yet still wants to meditate — is it hopeless for that person?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not hopeless at all, if the person is sincere. If he prays to God for His boundless Compassion, then God will give him the necessary capacity to discipline his life. He has only to pray to God for God's infinite Compassion. God's Compassion-Light will be able to illumine him, and his weaknesses and shortcomings will not be able to remain with him forever.

Donna Halper: Is it possible that a person could not be ready to meditate at one time, and yet at another time be ready to meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, it is possible. It is like cooking food. Every day someone may not cook the most delicious food. One day he makes delicious food; another day he is a failure. But he does not give up cooking or eating just because he is not always successful.

Donna Halper: So the person on the phone should just keep on trying, and ultimately...

Sri Chinmoy: Ultimately he will become an expert. Learning meditation is like learning anything else. One cannot become an expert overnight. Sometimes he will do extremely well, sometimes he will do very badly. But if he continues to study, to practise, he will become an expert eventually.

Donna Halper: So in meditation you have to practise?

Sri Chinmoy: Practice is necessary in every sphere of life.

Caller: Does Sri Chinmoy feel that meditation has really done anything for the musicians he has dealt with, and has it helped their music?

Donna Halper: Has meditating with you and studying with you changed the lives of the musicians that you have had as disciples?

Sri Chinmoy: According to my inner vision, it has definitely changed them. In the outer life, anyone who knows them can be the judge.

Donna Halper: How do you think it changed them?

Sri Chinmoy: They have intensified their inner cry. Their cry for God, for Truth, for Light has immensely increased. Also, they have simplified and purified their outer life to some extent. They have definitely made progress in the spiritual life.

Donna Halper: Do you think it helped their music in any way?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, it has inspired their creative capacities and it has made their music better in whatever way they wanted.

Donna Halper: How about their attitudes towards what they did before — drugs and alcohol and things like that?

Sri Chinmoy: They have given up these things.

Donna Halper: They still refrain from all those things?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, as long as they remain on my path.

Caller: I'd like to know if it is possible to be used as an instrument in an intimate relationship with somebody.

Donna Halper: Can a person be an instrument of God and also be an instrument in a relationship with somebody, where God is acting through them to help another person? For example, do you believe people in the material world can become instruments of God?

Sri Chinmoy: Easily. We are all instruments of God. But if we are too much involved in the material life, then we will not be able to be chosen instruments of God. Chosen instruments of God are those who are constantly self-giving. They are not for themselves only but for the entire world. The chosen instruments have a wide heart. They don't try to confine themselves to their own reality. They try to offer their lives to the world at large.

Donna Halper: Can you also be an instrument of God in a relationship with another human being? Let's say there is a person who is addicted to drugs. Do you believe that God can perhaps bring someone — just an ordinary person — into the life of that person to make him better?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. God is inside everyone, not only the seekers. If someone is addicted to drugs and if he has a sincere inner cry to get out of that addiction, then God will bring someone to the rescue.

Donna Halper: So on a personal basis, then, our relationships are not an accident? We don't just randomly find each other, but the people who find each other are finding each other because God wants them to find each other?

Sri Chinmoy: Not in every case. There is something called God's Hour. When God's Hour strikes, the persons who are needed will come. Otherwise, every person we meet is not sent by God.

Caller: If an ignorant person who hasn't had any realisation is confronted with a situation of great physical danger, what kind of prayer could a person make to God at that critical moment? Sudden death happens to people in an aeroplane or on the streets at times.

Donna Halper: If he finds his life in danger, can a person seriously speak to God, even though the person has been irreligious?

Sri Chinmoy: We are all God's children. The parents are always full of love, even for a naughty boy who does not listen to them. When this naughty child at times runs into difficulty, he runs to his parents to help him. Will the parents discard him at that time? No, the parents will immediately embrace him and say, "At long last, my son, you have come to me for help." Similarly, God's help is always there provided we have a sincere cry.

Donna Halper: So the person who has been against religion or thought religion was silly or did not want to get involved in religion, if at a moment of danger that person reaches out to God, God will answer him?

Sri Chinmoy: Definitely He will answer, but in His own Way, of course.

Donna Halper: He will accept the sincerity of this person?

Sri Chinmoy: If someone sincerely cries for God's help, God will definitely help him. It depends on his sincerity.

Caller: Do you believe that God is in the mind?

Sri Chinmoy: God is not only in the mind; God is the mind itself. But we have to know what kind of mind we are speaking of. If it is the physical mind, the earthbound mind, the mind that cherishes and treasures jealousy, meanness and impurity, this is not the mind that can be of any help in our search for God. The mind that is as wide and vast as the sky, the mind that accepts and loves the entire world, is the real mind. Inside that mind God functions most satisfactorily. So we have to know which mind you are referring to.

Donna Halper: So you are saying that the person who thinks in a positive way, the person who thinks in a way that is honest and sincere and concerned about all the people in the world, that person is using the mind in a spiritual way?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes.

Caller: But they say that God is a jealous God.

Donna Halper: That's a very good religious point. What about when they say that God is a jealous God?

Sri Chinmoy: God is jealous only for those who have not experienced God the Supreme Beloved, God the Eternal Compassion, God the Eternal Friend.

Donna Halper: So you are saying that God is a friend?

Sri Chinmoy: God is our Eternal Friend and our only true Friend.

Donna Halper: The person who accepts the Bible as the word of God, is that person mistaken to think that the Bible is totally true in everything it says?

Sri Chinmoy: If a person feels that what the Bible says is absolutely true and has implicit faith in the Bible's teachings, then he should definitely continue in his life of faith. But if somebody says that there are a few things he cannot accept from the Bible, and if he wants to get some new clarification or new illumination in his life by studying something else or by diving deep within, then he is entitled to do so. God wants satisfaction in us. If someone gets satisfaction from absolute faith in the Bible, wonderful. But if he does not find satisfaction there, then let him study something else. Let him study his own life; let him dive deep within in order to find the truth which will satisfy him.

Donna Halper: Sri Chinmoy will play another selection at the end of the program. I could listen to your music all day, I really could. Why is that music so relaxing? I've heard music before, but it didn't relax me as much as that music. Is there something special about your music?

Sri Chinmoy: In my case, I do not just play music. I pray, I meditate, I contemplate while I am playing. I try to be in close communion with my Inner Pilot, who is the Supreme Musician. And according to my capacity of receptivity, I try to offer His Light and Peace to the world through my music. So when I play, the esraj is not the real instrument; it is I who am the instrument.

Part III — Questions and answers

Question: What is the main contributing factor to your faith, and how is it different from other faiths?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, in the spiritual life there is no competitive spirit, so I do not compare our path with other paths. Each path has its own value. Each path has a specific way of leading the aspirant to his destined Goal. Our path is the path of love, devotion and surrender to the Will of the Supreme. This is what we particularly emphasise. I cannot say in what ways this path is different from other paths, because I am not familiar with other paths.

If somebody follows our path, then he tries to develop or bring to the fore his inner love, spiritual love. Unlike human love, which binds, divine love expands and illumines our consciousness within and without.

When we offer devotion, what we are offering is our one-pointed devotion to the Supreme, the Inner Pilot within us. In our ordinary human life, what we call devotion is nothing short of ignorant attachment. But divine devotion is something totally different. Here we are offering ourselves to the right cause, to the divine within us, so that we can grow into a sea of Peace, Light and Bliss.

The surrender that we try to achieve on our path is not the surrender of a slave to his master. The slave is always afraid of the master. He feels that if he doesn't satisfy the master, then the master will do him some injury. There is always a sense of fear in the heart and mind of the slave. But in the spiritual life, when the seeker surrenders to his inner divinity, to the Supreme within him, he feels that he is surrendering to his own highest and most illumined existence. He is surrendering to his own highest part, to his highest height and inmost light.

This is the basis of our path in a nutshell. If I compare our path with other paths, then I enter into unfortunate controversies. Other paths can also be right and perfect. But the two main paths are the path of the mind and the path of the heart. Our path is a path of the heart. It is up to the individual seeker to decide which type of path will suit him, and then to follow it. Ultimately, when a seeker reaches his destined Goal, there he will also see the seekers who have been sincerely following other paths. All will reach the same destination.

Question: You call us ”seekers”! What has been lost?

Sri Chinmoy: What has been lost? Our conscious oneness with the Absolute Supreme has been lost. Through our inner search we are trying to gain or regain our conscious inseparable oneness with Him. We are seeking for Truth and Light. Once upon a time, we were possessors of this infinite Truth and Light. But unfortunately, we made friends with ignorance-night and lost our inseparable oneness with Infinity's Light and Bliss. It is through conscious seeking — our conscious inner search and inner mounting cry — that at God's choice Hour we shall once again get back our inner wealth.

Question: What are the advantages of surrendering to the personal Master as opposed to surrendering to the impersonal, to the Spirit itself?

Sri Chinmoy: To be very frank with you, there is only one real Master both in Heaven and on earth, and that Master is God Himself. Here I am called a spiritual Master, but I wish to say that I am not a Master. What I am is only an elder brother to a small spiritual family. Because I have prayed and meditated, or because the Supreme, out of His infinite Bounty, has given me a little more Light than the other members of my spiritual family, I try to help them reach the highest Goal.

If the disciple sees or feels Light, abundant Light, in his Master, then he can claim it as his very own on the strength of his oneness with his Master. At that time, the disciple has to feel that this Light is something which he himself already had, and which the Master is only bringing to the fore. It was his own possession, his own treasure; but he misplaced it, and it was covered over with ignorance. Now the Master, with his boundless Light and concern, has entered into the disciple's ignorance and kindled there the flame of aspiration, bringing Light into his entire being.

The Master, in both his personal and impersonal aspect, is one reality. What actually happens is this. When a disciple comes to the human Master, he sees Peace, Light and Bliss according to his own capacity or receptivity. The higher and the deeper he goes, the more he feels that the Peace, Light and Bliss that he wants, he can get from the Master. He feels that his Master is a direct channel from the Highest; his Master represents, for him, God on earth.

When we stand in front of the sea, it looks quite vast. The length and breadth of the sea is beyond our ability to grasp as a whole. So what we do is touch with our hands or our feet just a little water. The moment we touch the water, the consciousness of the water enters into our being. Then we feel the capacity and the quality of the boundless sea. Similarly, when the disciple stands in front of his own Master and sees or feels the Master's Light, this represents the highest Truth for him. So, if a seeker sees his Master as infinite, as perfect, then he can make faster progress than otherwise, because he has an ideal before him. The Light that he sees in the Master offers him a glimpse of the Highest, the Infinite. At that time, the distinction between the personal Master and the impersonal Master, between personality and impersonality, disappears for him. He does not see the Master as a human being with a human body. He does not see the Master's physical as such. What he sees goes far, far beyond the Master's personal form; it cannot be grasped by the physical mind. He sees the Master as a part of the infinite Light or Truth for which he has been searching for millennia.

For a particular seeker, there is only one Master. That Master may or may not be in the physical; but he is not the physical as such. He is in Eternity's transcendental Spirit, infinite Peace, infinite Light and infinite Bliss. A Master of the highest order can and must embody this Peace, Light and Bliss. If we say that any human being, although he is a Master with millions and billions of disciples, is God, then it will be a mistake. God is within us, in each individual. But the real Master, the absolutely highest and the most perfect Master, is both on earth and in Heaven. He is not the physical form, but He is inside the physical.

If the student has faith in the Master, implicit faith, naturally the student makes faster progress. Whether we call that person the Master or not is of secondary importance, but we have to have faith in him. In the spiritual life, faith is of paramount importance and eventually we have to know that if we have faith only in the Master, it will not serve our purpose. We must have faith in ourselves as well. If we do not have faith in ourselves along with faith in the Master, then we cannot go far. But if we also have faith in ourselves, we can say we are God's chosen children and that infinite Peace, Light and Bliss are our birthright. If we can say this, then our journey's end can never be a far cry.

Question: How do you explain the fall of man?

Sri Chinmoy: Every day we are assailed by doubt, and every day we are inspired and energised by faith. When we are assailed by doubt, what we notice is our conscious fall. We cannot expand; we doubt our own capacity, even our very existence. When doubt enters into our mind early in the morning, it is impossible for us to come out of our tiny mental room. But when we are inspired and energised by faith, we feel that the whole world belongs to us.

Each human being here has both doubt and faith. The moment he uses his doubt-instrument he feels that everything in his life is circumscribed. His progress comes to a standstill. But when he uses the other instrument, faith, he feels that he is flying up to the highest plane of consciousness and singing the song of the ever-transcending Beyond.

Every day we can bind ourselves or we can free ourselves. We sing the song of bondage consciously or unconsciously by feeding the teeming doubt within us. We fall from the reality-tree again and again when we play with our doubt-friend. But when we dive deep within and bring our heart-illumining and soul-manifesting faith to the fore, we climb up the reality-tree high, higher, highest.

Question: Would you comment on the point made in the Bible that if you don't pray to Jesus Christ, you will be damned, and that only through Christ can you get salvation?

Sri Chinmoy: My simple answer to this question is that it is up to you what to believe or not to believe. If you believe what the Bible says, then you believe that if you do not follow its teachings, you will go to hell. But if you don't believe it, then you are not obliged to do what the book says.

There have been many spiritual Masters of the highest order on earth. The Christ was not the only one. Before him was the Buddha, and before the Buddha was Sri Krishna. A number of spiritual Masters of the very highest order have walked on earth. Recently there were Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Aurobindo. But if you believe that particular teaching of the Bible, it is up to you. If you believe it, prepare yourself divinely so that you can immediately go to Heaven, or prepare yourself to take your punishment.

Heaven and hell are largely in our mind. If you treasure a good thought, then you are creating Heaven. If you cry to God for Light, then you get a good experience, an illumining experience, and this experience is nothing but Heaven. Again, if you treasure a negative thought, then you are creating hell. Heaven and hell can be experienced every day.

Question: How does one recognise a true living Master?

Sri Chinmoy: A seeker can tell a true living Master if his inner and outer being is inundated with delight and ecstasy when he approaches the Master. If you see a real spiritual Master, he may not be your Master, but your inner joy will determine if he is real. Again, you may stand in front of a true Master and not get anything, because you are in a low consciousness. But if your heart is crying for a real Master, then you are bound to feel something when you stand in front of one. And if you find your own Master, you will find everything that you need in this life.

Question: How can one bring about harmony in his being when there are conflicting movements within?

Sri Chinmoy: In order to acquire harmony, one needs peace of mind. In order to have peace of mind, one needs to pray and meditate most soulfully on the Inner Pilot, who has created the necessity for inner harmony. If one prays properly, then peace of mind and harmony will be reflected in all one’s outer movements. When the mind has peace, then there is always harmony in all the activities which take place in one's being.

Question: Before I became a disciple, I donated my body tissue to a tissue bank — like a hospital where you can donate organs of your body when you die. Should I try to get out of that obligation?

Sri Chinmoy: Now that you have accepted our path, what is your immediate reaction?

Question: My present feeling is that it doesn't make any difference to me.

Sri Chinmoy: It is a matter of individual opinion. In India, a body is burned for purification. In the West it is usually buried. My feeling is that the body has to be purified to the end. As long as it is a physical body, the need for purification remains, and as long as the body as such remains, it must get a chance for purification. For this, Agni, the Fire-God, is invoked.

In the West, people feel that if they donate their dead body to science, they will be making an offering. The body has made tremendous sacrifices to mankind, to Mother Earth; but as long as it isn't totally disintegrated, they may feel they have to offer it again. Here it is a question of sacrifice. If you are convinced that by sacrificing your body to medical science you are going to help medical science to gain knowledge and wisdom, then you can do it. Again, although you will be dead, the body has an inner consciousness which will be there. In order to gain a little knowledge, some doctors will take pleasure in torturing your body. They will say they are making the supreme discovery. Now, it is you who have to make the final decision. If you pray and meditate, you will try to do the right thing. If you dive deep within, you will get the message.

Question: Several times during my working day I take a moment to offer gratitude to you. Is there any special way I should do this?

Sri Chinmoy: This is an excellent thing. When you offer gratitude to me, try to feel that that gratitude is a world. Your gratitude is tinier than the tiniest, like an ant. But you will try to increase that gratitude into a huge elephant. If you feel that the gratitude-power which you are offering to me is very tiny, absolutely negligible, your feeling is the essence of humility or modesty. But you have to try to grow and expand it. You have to increase your capacity from that of a tiny ant to that of an elephant. Then you will be happy. When your gratitude becomes an elephant, try to have other qualities also. Once it is very huge, vast and strong, inside that powerful elephant try to have all the divine qualities: simplicity, sincerity, purity, humility and so forth. At that time, feel that you have all these things inside you.

So, first you have to feel the necessity of making your gratitude quality large, larger, largest. Then, when you feel that your gratitude has become an elephant, try to see all the divine qualities that you have inside it. All the divine qualities are inside your gratitude-heart. Then you are bound to feel that you are growing into an exemplary instrument of the Supreme. This is how to bring forward all the good qualities that you have. Then you can maintain the highest consciousness all the time while you are at work.

Question: What can I do if I tend to fall asleep during meditation and other spiritual activities?

Sri Chinmoy: This is a matter of giving importance to the things that come first in your life. Suppose something important is taking place and at that time you are falling asleep. For eight to nine hours before that you have worked very hard for me; therefore you feel it is quite natural on your part to sleep. There is no end to our power of justification. But by justifying yourself, are you gaining anything? Suppose I hold a very high, significant meditation and you sleep through it. You think, "He knows I have worked for him," which is true. You can justify your sleeping. But the next question is, have you missed anything by sleeping through the meditation? You have missed something, and you will not be able to get that thing by justifying yourself.

Then you have to ask, "Has Guru given me outer permission to miss this activity just because I have worked?" At the press, when they work overnight sometimes I tell them that they don't have to come to meditation. If I say this, then I take full responsibility, and I will definitely give them the fruits of the meditation that they otherwise would have had. But if you do not have my permission, then you will still get the fruits of your previous dedicated action. But for the meditation you have missed you will get nothing. For your sleeping I will not be responsible, because I have not made any commitment to you. You will say you were tired; I will say you were lethargic. Here is the proof. It takes only a second for you to approach me and ask me whether you should miss the meditation. Then I will make a commitment and the problem is solved.

There are various ways to keep yourself awake when you are sleepy. Do japa as fast as possible. Wash your eyes, nose and ears with cold water. Pinch yourself again and again. Stand up and keep your eyes open. A little physical discomfort is nothing in comparison to what you will get in return: Peace, Bliss and Light. The problem lies with your sincerity. If you are sincere, you will value everything properly.

Some people meditate for half an hour and then they feel that they are in a position to relax — watch television, read comic books and so on. They have meditated for half an hour, but they don't realise that perhaps this half hour has only taken them to the starting point. When one is not realised, one has to be very, very careful. So if you have worked extremely hard and you are unable to meditate with your normal intensity, then after you have meditated for half an hour you can read some of my writings. Or, if you are at home, you can listen to my music or look at my paintings. Your Guru has quite a few things to offer. I have written poems, I have composed songs — hundreds of things I have done.

Stop wasting your time watching TV and reading magazines. You can run the fastest by meditating. But when you become tired, don't give up running. If you sit down, you are disqualified. Continue running, even if you have to go slowly. Relax your speed, but continue to discipline your life. Meditate. Repeat 'Supreme'. Read my writings. All of you should do this. There are so many easy ways you can keep your consciousness high because I have a variety of spiritual activities for you. If you don't like this one, you will like that one. When meditation becomes difficult, you can read. If you lose your concentration, you can sing. When you are tired of singing, you can come back to meditation. This is how you can regulate your life. Run the fastest when you have the capacity. When you don't have the capacity, then walk. But if you stop moving forward altogether, you will never reach the Goal.

Question: What three qualities are most needed for survival on our spiritual path?

Sri Chinmoy: Most people want to know how to run the fastest, but you want to know only how to survive. All right. There is only one quality that we all need. To name three qualities would be redundant. Only one quality can solve all your problems — everybody's problems — and that quality is called a gratitude-heart.

God has brought you into this world from the soul's world, and He has given you the opportunity to manifest Him. There are still countless souls in the soul's region, but He has given you the golden opportunity to serve Him and manifest Him here on earth. And He has shown you the light. When you look around, you see that your old friends are still wallowing in the sea of ignorance. But you have entered in the spiritual life and have really become something. You can easily offer Him your gratitude heart for what He has already done for you, for it is not by virtue of your own will that you have entered into the spiritual life. Just think of what you were before you accepted our path and what you have become now. Immediately you will see the difference between night and day and you will be so happy. Again, you will see that the day can also become bright, brighter, brightest. Now it is dawn. Soon it will be proper morning. Then the brilliant noon will come. The earthly day is followed by night but the inner day does not have any night. There is only the infinite effulgence of ever-increasing Light. After the inner dawn comes the eternal, infinite Day that is filled with infinite Light and Delight. Now you are entering into this eternal Day. What you have already become you know, and that is satisfying to you. Now you can say that you want to become something even more. So God has given you something to become constantly, and that is your gratitude heart.

Every day count the petals of your gratitude-heart and open another petal. If you want to name the petals, they are simplicity, sincerity, purity, humility and so on. Constantly offer your heart of gratitude. That is the only quality that will help everyone solve his problems and also run the fastest. Gratitude embodies all the divine qualities in God's creation. If we are grateful, it is enough. When a child offers a smile to his parents, it is his gratitude-heart coming to the fore. Sometimes, when adults smile at a spiritual Master, they may not know the actual reason for their smile. But I wish to say that it is their gratitude-heart coming to the fore. Yesterday, Databir's mother came to the meeting. I was smiling at her and all of a sudden she smiled back. Databir asked her, "What do you feel?" She said, "I don't know. I just smiled." Actually, all of a sudden her soul came to the fore and offered its qualities, but she did not know it. She thought it was just a smile. I smiled at her, so she smiled at me.

So, good boy, you do not need three qualities to survive; you need only one quality to survive and to run the fastest, and that is a gratitude-heart.

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