A life of blossoming love

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Part I: Discourse

A life of blossoming love

A seeker's life is his blossoming love. A seeker's blossoming love is his illumining light.

A seeker's life becomes the many and the One. A seeker's love becomes the One and the many.

A seeker's life is at once dependent and independent. His is the life boundlessly dependent on God. His is the life sleeplessly independent of ignorance.

A seeker has belief, he has faith, he has conviction, he has realisation. God does everything: this is his faultless belief. God is everything: this is his spotless faith. God is all Love: this is his peerless conviction. God is His own Eternity's Silence, God is His own Infinity's Sound, God is His own Immortality's Satisfaction: this is his ageless realisation.

A true seeker's life and his gratitude-heart are always inseparable. By virtue of his gratitude-heart he sees the invisible, he feels the unimaginable and he achieves the impossible. He seeks the invisible perfection within and without him. He feels the unimaginable satisfaction in his entire being. He achieves the impossible: God's God-Heights and God's God-Depths.

A seeker's life embodies two supreme realities: his conscious, constant and soulful self-giving prayer and his loving, devoted and unreserved God-becoming meditation.

SUNY at Stony Brook Stony Brook New York 3 March 1980

Part II: Interview with Don Francisco Matos Paoli

On 26 October 1977, Sri Chinmoy visited with Don Francisco Matos Paoli at the poet's home in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. Following are excerpts from their conversation.

Body and soul

Francisco Matos Paoli: I am extremely grateful to be meeting with you. You are a poet, a mystic. That is very special, because we are both living with God as the Guide of our mutual lives. There is perhaps some difference between Occidental mysticism and Oriental mysticism, but we can all realise that in human endeavours there is an identification between the body and the spirit. What is your belief?

Sri Chinmoy: My belief is also the same. You call it 'spirit', and we use the term 'soul'. The body is the temple in which the soul resides, and the soul is the deity that is housed in the temple. If there is no temple, then the deity will have no place of abode. The body is the manifestation, and inside the body is the essence. We need the body to manifest what we have within. If there is no body, then we cannot embody anything.

This is your house. This house is protecting you. At the same time, if you do not give life to the house with your achievements, with your poetical capacities, with your wisdom-light, with your inner spiritual development, then this house, which is like the body, is of no avail. Both the inner and the outer are complementary realities. We need the body in order to house the divinity within us. Again, the divinity needs the body to manifest its reality. So the body and the soul go together.

Francisco Matos Paoli: And there is also, after death, a spiritual body?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. There are three bodies — physical, subtle and causal. This is our physical body. Inside the physical there is our subtle body. It has the same form as the physical body, and we may sense it, but we can't touch or feel it with our hands. With our inner vision, with our third eye, we can see it. Then there is the causal body, which keeps the quintessence of our life here on earth. Here we do many things, we get many experiences. The quintessence of all the things that we do and grow into forms our causal body. We call it a body, but it is not like our physical body. It is very tiny.

Francisco Matos Paoli: Yes, there is a physical and a spiritual interrelation — what you call the cosmic apprehension of life and the spiritual apprehension of life — and you can't divide that realm, because sometimes existence transforms into essence and vice versa, essence transforms into existence.

Sri Chinmoy: It is like water and ice. Water becomes ice; again, ice becomes water. At one moment it is essence, and at another moment it is substance. Reality is also like that. Reality is both with attributes and without attributes, like God with form and God without form. Here also, essence and substance are inseparable.

Mysticism and politics

Francisco Matos Paoli: I believe in this real life, although it is not an absolute life; it has finality. I don't believe there is a contradiction between religious mysticism and political struggle for liberty. I have been in jail for five years for the struggle for our political independence here in Puerto Rico. But I think of politics as a sort of transubstantiation of life in God, a mystical comprehension of all matter, and that matter in transfiguration is God.

Sri Chinmoy: Mysticism and politics are two different realities, although they may aim at the same goal. Mysticism wants liberation for humanity, and politics also wants people to be liberated. But the foundation of politics is not the same foundation as you see in mysticism. The foundation of mysticism is not in the mind, whereas politics is in the mind, in the vital and in the physical reality. Mysticism has a deeper source.

A pure mystic gets messages or revelations not from his mind, not even from his heart, but from something beyond this physical reality. A politician may be deeply inspired, but his inspiration is from either the heart, the mind, the vital or the physical. The true mystic will get his inspiration — actually we do not call it inspiration, we use another term, 'intuition' — from his third eye or from the Reality beyond.

Politics deals with earth-bound reality, but mysticism deals with Heaven-free Reality. A mystic gets messages from worlds beyond this physical earth-planet. His aim is spiritual liberation, absolute liberation. The politician's liberation is on the physical, vital or mental plane. The ultimate desire, the ultimate aspiration, is the same: liberation. But politics and mysticism operate from two different planes.

Francisco Matos Paoli: But are they interrelated?

Sri Chinmoy: They are interconnected in the sense that their objective is the same. But one does not necessarily add to the other. A politician does not necessarily have to become a mystic, and a mystic does not have to become a politician. But the goal of both is liberation; let us say, to march into infinite freedom.

Francisco Matos Paoli: But not the liberation of this everyday life?

Sri Chinmoy: The mystic's goal is not freedom from political constraints in daily life. It is the liberation from the bondage of the finite consciousness. A mystic sees the Reality of the Beyond and then, like a magnet, he pulls it into himself. A politician wants to go forward, he does not want to allow any obstruction. But the mystic looks beyond this world to the furthest point, and from there he brings divine light and delight into the earth-life. The politician says, "I will not allow any obstruction on my way. I want freedom. I am going straight forward." But the mystic says, "Let me bring the message of light, delight and peace from the Beyond to transform this world."

Francisco Matos Paoli: But do you not think that this spiritual peace that reaches the mystic is a negation of life?

Sri Chinmoy: Not at all. Real spirituality is not the negation of life; it is the acceptance of life and the transformation of life. The old theory was that you have to retreat into the Himalayan caves, you have to seclude yourself, you have to hide, you have to renounce the world, which is full of suffering, darkness, impurity and temptation. But that is not the right approach any more. The right approach to spirituality is to accept life as such and then transform the world with divine peace, light and delight.

Francisco Matos Paoli: And this endeavour of the mystic will result in a sort of inward communication?

Sri Chinmoy: The real mystic is one who has a free access to the Absolute Supreme, from Whom he gets direct commands. He is in tune with something very high, deep and profound. He tries to manifest in the outer world what he has found within himself, which is God. But false mysticism separates everything. False mysticism will say that earth-life is useless, that here you cannot do anything divine, so the best thing is to remain always aloof, not to mix with earthly people, not to have any connection with the realities of ordinary life. False spirituality says, "Give up everything." But what should we actually give up? If I give up my body, if I give up my vital, if I give up my mind, then I will have nothing left with which to reveal God, to manifest God, or even to realise God. So what should we do? We should accept life and transform it.

Personal self and Nirvana

Francisco Matos Paoli: What is the relation between the personal self and Nirvana?

Sri Chinmoy: When we deal with the personal self, we want to enjoy freedom in our own limited way. Nirvana is the extinction of the human way. In Nirvana, on the strength of our deepest aspiration, we enter into a very high state of consciousness. Then we decide that we do not want to mix with the world and its sufferings and problems any more. Nirvana is the extinction of the earthly game. Here you are playing a game, I am playing a game, all people are playing a game, either consciously or unconsciously. It is God's Cosmic Game that we are participating in. But when we achieve Nirvana, we put an end to our part in the Cosmic Game. We do not want to play any more. We choose to enjoy the static bliss, not the dynamic bliss.

Francisco Matos Paoli: Does it negate the individuality?

Sri Chinmoy: It does negate the individuality. In fact it negates the full manifestation of one's own reality. We can say that to some extent it is a narrow approach to Reality. Some people play the game for a while and then they say, "I don't want to play any more." But others say, "No, we shall play as long as our Captain commands." Those who accept Nirvana do not care for the transformation of the world. They have suffered, and they have tried to give light to the world as much as possible. But when they see that earth is not receiving light from them in abundant measure, then they want to give up the battle.

Francisco Matos Paoli: This Nirvana is a sort of collective self?

Sri Chinmoy: No, Nirvana is a state of consciousness where you cut off your connection with the earth-realities. We have bound earth like a tight knot, and earth has bound us. It is a mutual attraction, a mutual bond. I pull somebody, and he pulls me. But when one enters into Nirvana, one cuts that bond. One wants to remain all alone, immersed in a sea of bliss. But this sea of bliss is static bliss, not dynamic bliss.

Francisco Matos Paoli: I believe in individuality after life. And this is not what you call egotism, but a reaffirmation of the personal life in God.

Sri Chinmoy: Absolutely true. God Himself is One and many at the same time. As you are saying, individuality need not be egocentric. God, in His Vision, wanted to become many, so He created this creation. God was One in the Silence-Life. Then He wanted to become the sound-life. When He wanted to become the sound-life, He projected Himself into many forms.

Francisco Matos Paoli: But if we are transformed into God, is there a negation of human life in that?

Sri Chinmoy: No, there is no negation. On the contrary, the human in us becomes divine and perfect. The individuality that a tiny drop of water has is very little — negligible. But when that tiny drop of water enters into the ocean, it becomes part and parcel of the vast ocean. Then the individuality that the tiny drop had becomes vast and powerful. So, when human beings merge into the Absolute, into God, we do not lose our individuality. At that time our finite, human individuality becomes transformed. It becomes vast, infinite.

Francisco Matos Paoli: Then, are we transformed into God?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, we are transformed into God. When the finite enters into the Infinite, it becomes the Infinite. The individual is now finite, although he is carrying the message of the Infinite. But when the finite consciously, soulfully and devotedly enters into the Infinite, it becomes the Infinite Itself.

The Christ

Francisco Matos Paoli: And what do you think about the Christian belief that our Lord Jesus Christ lived a human life and suffered death?

Sri Chinmoy: He lived, suffered and died because whoever comes into the world to fulfil the message of the Heavenly Father has to accept the suffering of the world. If you want to save someone who is drowning in the sea, you don't stay on the top of a tree. You jump into the sea and stretch out your arms to help him. The Christ endured the suffering of the world, because in order to save the world, he had to live here like any other human being.

Francisco Matos Paoli: There is the contention of Catholicism, that our Lord Jesus Christ has two natures, human and divine.

Sri Chinmoy: Each individual has two natures. The moment I have a good thought, I am divine. The moment I have a bad thought, I am undivine. The moment I become jealous of you, I am undivine. The moment I love you, I am divine. This moment I am divine; the next moment I am undivine. We have millions of thoughts; constantly we are assailed by thoughts. This moment we are in Heaven; the next moment we are in hell. Why? Our thought-world creates Heaven and hell inside us. When we make sacrifices, when we love humanity, when we do something for humanity or for God, then we are divine. But if we are only for ourselves, then we are undivine.

Francisco Matos Paoli: Our Lord Jesus Christ is an incarnation of God, is He not?

Sri Chinmoy: It is true. For God, Heaven and earth are like upstairs and downstairs in His House. When He is upstairs, we call Him 'God'. When He goes downstairs, He becomes 'man'. But it is still the same God who has gone downstairs. When He comes upstairs again, He is again called 'God'.

Francisco Matos Paoli: Yes, but there is a connection between immanence and transcendence.

Sri Chinmoy: Absolutely. They are two manifestations of the same reality. When the bird spreads its wings and flies everywhere, it is immanent. When it soars up high, higher, highest, into the Beyond, it is transcendent.

Eternal Life

Francisco Matos Paoli: Do you think there is a final termination of our life in Nirvana?

Sri Chinmoy: Nirvana is the final termination of the human in us, but not of the divine in us. There are two aspects of the divine in us: the dynamic aspect and the static aspect. The dynamic aspect enters into Nirvana and passes beyond Nirvana. Only the static aspect remains in Nirvana. Our human consciousness will not reach Nirvana. The divine consciousness has the capacity to reach it. Nirvana can be attained by the human soul only after many lifetimes of spiritual aspiration. Each human incarnation is in the process of flowing from the eternal life of the soul. This is not your first life or my first life. It is a continuous process.

Francisco Matos Paoli: And the eternal life is the negation of time?

Sri Chinmoy: Eternal life is not the negation of time. Eternal life and time are intimate friends, most intimate friends. In order to appreciate time here on earth, we divide it into various parts. It is one o'clock, two o'clock, three o'clock, one year, two years, three years. When we have stayed on earth for fifty, sixty or seventy years, we feel that we have completed the reality which we call life. At the highest level of Reality, time is continuous and life is continuous; the eternal life flows in eternal time.

Francisco Matos Paoli: There is no moral irresponsibility in the spiritual life, in this sort of transcendence of earthly life?

Sri Chinmoy: No, no, there is responsibility. When we speak of transcendence of life, we have to know what we mean. Now we have many undivine qualities. We quarrel, we fight, we strangle, we kill each other. This is very bad. We have to transcend this level of consciousness. If we have a pure consciousness, then we love humanity; we do not quarrel, we do not kill. Is not this kind of transcendence our real responsibility? Why do we pray? Why do we meditate? Why do we aspire? Just because we want to transcend our shortcomings, our weaknesses. We have countless weaknesses which we must conquer. And how can we do it? By virtue of our prayer and meditation. It is our first responsibility, our soul's responsibility, our life's most important responsibility, to become divine. Human life is still half animal. This half animal is trying to see something and grow into something divine. It is the transcendence of the animal-human life that we are aiming at through our prayers and meditations.

Francisco Matos Paoli: Then the mystic is the real human?

Sri Chinmoy: The mystic is the illumined and purified human in us. The mystic has received the message of the Beyond. He sees farther than we see. When we see with our human eyes, it is a very limited distance. But the mystic does not see with the human eyes. He sees with the third eye, the eye of inner vision. With this eye he sees the past, the present and the future. But he is not satisfied just by seeing something. He wants to bring it into his system to illumine it. The mystic is the illumined human in us, and this illumined human in us is trying to illumine others who want to be illumined.


Francisco Matos Paoli: I am convinced about reincarnation.

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, this is not your first life, and this is not your last life. Through each incarnation the soul is receiving more light, abundant light, infinite light. At the same time, it is revealing and manifesting this light that it is receiving from Above. We believe in reincarnation, because in one incarnation we cannot achieve everything.

Francisco Matos Paoli: No, no, it is impossible!

Sri Chinmoy: At the age of four perhaps we had a desire, and at the age of fifty we have not yet fulfilled it. We may have fulfilled only a few desires out of countless desires which we have had in our lifetime, so we must incarnate again in order to fulfil our unfulfilled desires and also to do something for God. Eventually we do not want to go through the desire process any more; we want to go through the aspiration process. In aspiration we pray to God to make us good, to make us divine, to make us perfect. Now, it is very easy, it takes only a few seconds to say, "O Lord, make us good, divine and perfect." But in order to actually become good, divine and perfect, God knows how many incarnations it takes. So, we feel that the road of aspiration is the road that can lead us to real happiness.

Francisco Matos Paoli: Can we reach a state of eternal bliss where there is no reincarnation at all?

Sri Chinmoy: If you enter into Nirvana, or when God says to you, "My son, you have worked so hard for Me. Now you can enjoy a rest. I have many other children. Let them now work for me." Before the Christ, Lord Krishna was also a great spiritual Master; the Buddha was also a great spiritual Master. The Absolute Supreme sent Krishna, Buddha, Christ and a few other Masters to help the earth-consciousness. They are no longer in the physical body, but their consciousness is alive. They are spirit, as you said at the very beginning of our talk. In that form they are still on earth guiding us, moulding us shaping us, transforming us and liberating us.

Francisco Matos Paoli: When we have illumination and we have entered into the eternal life, can we come back again?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. It is like a game that we are playing with God. After he has played for a long time, the son says, "I am tired. I don't want to play any more." The Father says, "All right." Then tomorrow the son says, "I want to play again." So the Father allows him to play. The Cosmic Game is like that. If you don't want to play, you don't play. You are not forced. But if you want to play, you can. There is full liberty. If you play and enjoy yourself, wonderful. If you suffer and you say, "No, I am tired of this game; I want to watch from Above," that also you can do. The Supreme wants only happiness from you. By playing, if you are happy, it is wonderful. Just by watching, if you want to become happy, it is all right, too.

The Existence of evil

Francisco Matos Paoli: And what do you believe of evil?

Sri Chinmoy: In our philosophy we don't see it as evil. We see it as limited reality. Anything that is limited creates problems for us. But if we see something as evil, then our mind becomes polluted, the mind becomes dark.

Francisco Matos Paoli: There is no existence of evil?

Sri Chinmoy: No, there is only limited light. One person will have tremendous light and wisdom, while another will have less. But if we say that the one who has less light is evil, then we are making a mistake. A child does not have the knowledge of a university graduate, but he has the capacity to gain that knowledge. Just because the child does not have the knowledge and cannot read college books, can you call him an uneducated, illiterate fool? No, you have to allow him to grow up and get the same opportunity. Gradually, gradually, over the years he will go to primary school, high school, college and university and get the same knowledge. Anything that has very limited light we tend to see as evil, but it is only at the beginning of the gradual process of evolution of our reality.

The mystic and the world of limitation

Francisco Matos Paoli: And what is the relationship of the mystic with the world of limitation?

Sri Chinmoy: He can live on earth very firmly and well established, like a boat in the water. The boat is in the water, but it is not affected by the water. You live inside this house, but you are not bound by this house. You can neglect it or you can make it better. You are the lord of this house. In this way the true mystic lives with humanity. The mystic has the capacity to illumine the consciousness of mankind, to change the world, illumine the world, to make it more divine and more perfect.

Part III: Questions and answers

Question: I was playing the piano one day and there appeared a green light, a kind I had never seen before. It was transparent, yet it had a body. It filled the whole room. What does that green signify?

Sri Chinmoy: The green colour in itself symbolises freshness, liveliness and energy. In your case it means that a new life has dawned in you. It also indicates that you are full of life's activity, life's energy and life's agility. Your entrance into the spiritual life has brought to your soul a whole new life. Everything is now green with promise. A new life has begun for you.

Question: But what is this supposed to do for you?

Sri Chinmoy: It is just like receiving candy. If a mother gives her child some candy once or twice and the child likes it, then he starts asking for it. He himself goes to his mother and says, "Please give me some of that candy." These spiritual experiences are like that. They are the first reward, or you could call them the first spiritual temptation. They are not a temptation in the undesirable sense; they are a temptation to pursue the inner life for the joy of the experiences one gets. These experiences are the beginning of one's spiritual wealth. In the beginning the experiences may come of their own accord to inspire you. But then you have to earn them. You have to work for them, pray for them. You have to meditate to get them.

Question: About two and a half years ago I had an experience. I lost the consciousness of myself and all I could see was a yellow light with golden rays. After I came back to myself I felt extremely happy and thrilled. I have always wondered what that light was.

Sri Chinmoy: The light that you saw was not yellow. It was actually golden, a luminous golden colour, which comes from the supermind. There are many planes of consciousness connected with the mind and many which go far beyond it, like the supermind. I will mention them very briefly.

First, there is the physical mind, which gives the individual the capacity to deal mentally, in a concrete way, with the material world around him. Above that is the intellectual mind, which gives one the ability to deal with ideas and concepts as such. The intellectual mind can function on an abstract level. Next is the intuitive mind. The intuitive mind often functions with pure intuition. It sees the inner truth of something immediately and directly, without the use of the human intelligence. It has the eye of truth, and it touches the inner truth of things with no intermediate help.

Above the intuitive mind is the illumined mind. This mind is permeated by the soul's light and is a very illumined and spiritual form of mind. Above this is what is termed the overmind. At this stage, the mind as we know it is not used at all. This is a plane of consciousness in which the cosmic gods live and function. Beyond that is the supermind, where the golden light which you saw came from. In the Vedas, the supermind is known as the Vijnana Loka.

After the supermind there are only three planes of consciousness. These are Sat, Chit and Ananda. These three states of consciousness are interrelated and at a certain point they merge. Creation itself starts with Sat-Chit-Ananda. Immediately below this is the supermind. The golden colour like a disc or a sun comes from the supermind. You had a very high experience and it came from that plane. It did not touch the physical plane or your physical body, although you saw it with your physical eyes.

When the light of the supermind actually touches the earth plane, it changes its colour and is suffused with a reddish hue, which is the colour of the material world. Then you see the combination of the gold and the red as a luminous, golden red.

Question: I would like to know more about intuition.

Sri Chinmoy: The place of intuition is between the eyebrows, just a little above. It is here that we have the third eye. Intuition itself is the direct power, direct light or immediate conviction of the soul. Let me give you an example. When I look at you with my ordinary eyes, I see you sitting there and I see myself sitting here. Your whole existence is there and mine is here. That is what I see with my ordinary eyes. But when I use the power of intuition, I see the reality and the vision together as one. The eye of intuition, my third eye, tells me that you and I are absolutely one, that I the observer and you the observed can never be separated. Intuition unites both vision and reality. Otherwise, no matter what we see with our human eyes, there is a gap, a yawning gulf, between the person who sees and the object that he is looking at. In intuition, however, the reality and the inner vision always go together.

Question: What are the devas? Do they follow the evolution of man, and do they help the evolution of man?

Sri Chinmoy: The devas are the cosmic gods. The cosmic gods are higher than angels. They do not take human incarnation, but they do protect, encourage, inspire and bless human beings here on earth. It is through their inspiration, their encouragement, their blessings and their concern that man gets a faster and higher evolution. The devas themselves will not attach themselves to a human soul or enter into a human incarnation, but they do help us and guide us from Above. They themselves do not walk on our path or run towards our Goal, but they do push us towards it.

The devas, or cosmic gods, are not evolving beings. Human beings evolve and evolve and evolve. We are constantly going beyond ourselves. Our very humanity will be transcended ultimately. The gods, however, are not evolving. They do not want our ultimate Goal; they are satisfied with the consciousness that they have. They are full of divine light and delight; they are very pure and very luminous. They are divine instruments of knowledge and power. Right now, needless to say, they have more than we have. But, believe it or not, a day will come when we will become fully realised and remain constantly in union with the Supreme. At that time, we will actually have gone beyond them. At that time, we will not need their help, and they will not be able to affect us or influence us.

Right now the cosmic gods help man with their love, their concern and their joy. But you may be surprised to hear that a time comes when the cosmic gods actually stand in our way. When we no longer need their help and have the capacity to go to the Highest, to the Absolute Supreme, they do not want us to go beyond them. It is like a father and son: the father helps the son when the son is a student. But when the father sees that the son is going beyond him, if the father is narrow-minded or jealous, he may find some reason to stop giving the son money to continue his studies. But if the father is large-hearted, he says, "I did not achieve what my son can achieve. I do not have the education that he is going to have. But let him have it. Let him go beyond me. Let him surpass me." If the father is noble, he feels this and does this.

Some of the cosmic gods, unfortunately, stand in our way at the last moment before our self-realisation, at the last milestone of our journey. At the beginning of our journey they push us and pull us, saying, "Go, go towards the Goal!" But when we are about to reach the Goal and we no longer need their help, they stand in our way. Why? They do not like us to go beyond their jurisdiction. Every conscious being in this whole universe and beyond it, except the Supreme, cherishes his own sovereignty and guards his own realm. Every authority on earth and in Heaven is gratified by the devotion of his subjects and does not like to see them go to another authority. It is the old problem of separativity or ego, but on a very high, subtle level. Still, it is there. That is why we have to forgive the cosmic gods. It is like a parent who does not want his child to leave home because the parent will lose his influence over the child whom he loves and to whom he is attached.

Here I am telling you the absolute truth. Otherwise, people will be under the impression that the cosmic gods help us all the time. No, they help us for many, many incarnations, for hundreds of incarnations. Many, many souls would be nowhere if it were not for the compassion of the cosmic gods. They save human beings from disaster, ruin and many, many catastrophes, including death. They are responsible for most of the higher ideas and ideals that human beings get in their inspired moments. In their own way they are great and divine instruments of the Supreme. But when the seeker is about to merge into the Highest, at that time they do not help.

Question: Why is Mother Kali represented with four arms?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, I wish to tell you that this is the conception of the artists. Mother Kali is the Divine Mother in her power aspect, and she is not at all like the representations which you see in pictures and posters. In the highest world she is golden, most beautiful and most luminous. When she enters into the vital worlds to fight against fear, darkness, imperfection, obscurity and ignorance, she assumes a divinely heroic quality. Yet even in the vital world, she does not look like the pictures that you see. The Indian artists traditionally insist on portraying her this way. They feel that when she is striking the hostile forces, cutting them with her scimitar and so on, she must look like this. But when the real Mother Kali assumes human form, even while she is fighting against ignorance, she has only two arms.

In the pictures we see four arms, each performing a different action. With the arm wielding the scimitar, Kali is striking the hostile forces. The second arm holds the trident which is the weapon and emblem of her consort, Lord Shiva. This weapon symbolises his power. So this second arm is shown holding and using Shiva's power. The third arm she is holding aloft the head of the greatest demon, Mahasura, whom she has conquered and killed. And with the fourth arm she holds the vessel which is catching the blood pouring from his severed head.

This is all the pure imagination of the artist. In India we have a set of sacred books called the Puranas. They are not as well known in the West as the Gita, but in India they are very well known and well loved. They are full of simple, colourful stories about great Indian deities. In those books you will read about Kali and all her battles in the inner worlds. It is Mother Kali who represents the transforming Power of the Supreme. She kills the hostile forces in our human nature and takes us as quickly as possible to the Highest. She does not kill the human being; she kills only the imperfection and obscurity in our human lives.

Question: Will you explain the soundless sound?

Sri Chinmoy: When two things are struck together they produce a sound. When I strike my hands together I produce a physical sound. Sound is normally the result of some impact. When we want to produce any sound, two things must be brought together in some way.

AUM is called the soundless sound because we do not strike any object with any other object in order to produce it. Because it is unstruck, it is known as the soundless sound. In Sanskrit, this phenomenon is called Anahata, which means literally 'unstruck'. We can hear the sound in the inmost recesses of our heart, but we ourselves do not do anything to create it; it is created spontaneously. We only receive AUM or hear it.

On the physical plane AUM is a physical sound like any other sound. But permeating the physical sound is a higher divine vibration. This spiritual vibration comes from its connection with the inner reality of the universal AUM, which is the life-breath of the whole creation.

We call AUM the soundless sound although with our ordinary ears we may hear this sound produced in the ordinary way in the outer world. But we can also hear it in the inner world if we have a special kind of hearing. We can hear the unstruck AUM with our spiritual ears. It is not the same sound that we hear with our physical ears. The inner AUM comes from an inner world and its sound is altogether different. With our human ears we cannot hear it. We must have a different type of hearing if we want to hear the true soundless sound.

Question: How is the inner sound produced?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not actually produced; it spontaneously exists. Everything that can be known or seen in the material world has a source, whereas this soundless sound has no source. Its origin is the Supreme, whom we call Brahman. AUM is a symbol of Brahman. It is the Source itself. If we know that the Ganges comes from the Himalayas, we can climb to the top of the Himalayas and see the source for ourselves. But we will never find a source for the soundless sound. It is like trying to find the origin of the Supreme. It is its own origin. That is why it is difficult for us to understand.

Question: What is the effect when we pronounce the name of the Supreme devotedly, soulfully or forcefully when we are in danger?

Sri Chinmoy: When an accident or something serious is about to take place, your utterance is an expression of your inner cry. At that time you need not repeat the name of the Supreme in a slow, prolonged manner. When danger is approaching, if you repeat 'Supreme' quickly and intensely, there is nothing wrong in it. It is an expression of the soul's cry for immediate intervention of the divine protection.

When one is pronouncing the Supreme's Name, one has to know what the purpose is. At the time of meditation or as part of one's inner spiritual discipline, one has to say it slowly and soulfully. Even then, this does not mean that you have to prolong the word as long as possible. You can say the Name very soulfully with love, reverence and devotion at a normal speed. But in an emergency, when danger is threatening, if 'Supreme' comes from the depths of the heart like an intense cry, then it is also most soulful, although it is fast.

Question: A neighbour of mine swears very loudly, and when he does that, I always say, "God bless you." Is this the right thing to do?

Sri Chinmoy: In such cases, the best thing will be for you not to say anything to him. If you feel that you really want to help him, then you can spend five minutes of your most precious time in inner prayer, asking the Supreme to give him some illumination. He is ignorant, but if you tell him that he is ignorant, he will only be angry. If you feel from within that it is your duty or that it will be worthwhile, then you can pray to the Supreme for his illumination.

You have to know whether that man is basically good or not. If he is basically good, you can offer five minutes of your prayer to the Supreme to change his attitude towards God. If he is basically not good, you need not spend even five minutes on him, because it will not do him any good. At God's Hour, God Himself will illumine this man and make him realise the error of his ways. He is, after all, God's child, and God Himself is hearing him. As God is hearing your prayers and observing your meditation, so also God is listening to his curses. Fortunately, God has enough strength to bear his insults.

Question: What type of souls are in animals that are bred just to be slaughtered?

Sri Chinmoy: Since we cannot slaughter the soul or destroy the soul in any way, it is the same kind of soul. Through evolution a soul may go through a specific experience, but this does not mean that it is a different type of soul. Who knows, perhaps when we were in the animal kingdom, we were also slaughtered, if we were lambs or goats or cows. But now our souls have passed through so many incarnations. A certain kind of death does not require a certain kind of soul. It is just an experience. While walking from one place to another we can walk along a road that is very beautiful, or along another road that is desolate, but the destination is the same.

Question: Is the Supreme going to create a new world?

Sri Chinmoy: He could definitely create a different world if He wanted to, but it seems that He is not going to create a totally new world. He is like a great-great-grandfather who enjoys watching His children, His children's children, and so forth. He enjoys the game. For Him it is a daily affair that his great-great-grandchildren fight and quarrel. Of course He wants the members of His family to lead a harmonious life, but He does not plan to destroy His entire creation for a new creation. He believes in evolution.

The Supreme has been feeding and nurturing His present creation for so many years. True, satisfaction is still a far cry. But if He decides to start all over from the beginning, He has an apprehension that His next world may be worse. So He continues with the hope that light will descend on this present family, and it will eventually be illumined. In the process of evolution there is no such thing as perfection descending from Above all of a sudden. Gradually, light has to be received, and then the difference between light and darkness has to be recognised. Otherwise we shall not value light.

Question: Can we reduce our need for sleep?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly, but we have to know for what purpose — for meditation, or for gossip? For my disciples I advise six or seven hours of sleep. Six or seven hours is necessary, but not eight, nine or ten hours.

If you become like me, then after one hour of sleep you can make yourself feel that you have slept for five hours. The clock will say one hour, but your mind and body will say five hours. However, until you have that yogic capacity, six or seven hours is absolutely necessary for you and others. Four or five hours I do not advise. If you cannot get six or seven hours at night, then sleep sometime during the day. During your lunch break eat for ten minutes and then, instead of talking with your colleagues, go into your office and sleep for half an hour or forty-five minutes. That will help.

Question: Why did God create stars and planets?

Sri Chinmoy: Why did He create you? Why did He create me? For the sake of spontaneous joy. When astronomers look at the stars, they get joy. In this world you may find that flowers give you joy. Others will like the stars, and still others will like something else. God created everything for His own Joy, and the different parts of His creation get joy from each other. I get joy by seeing something; you get joy by seeing something else. God gets Joy from all of His creation.

Question: Is it really possible to empty your mind of thoughts?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly, with regular practice. Early in the morning you are meditating for, let us say, fifteen minutes. During your meditation if you are getting twenty uncomely thoughts, restless thoughts, then after a month of serious practice, you can watch again to see how many thoughts you are getting. Gradually you will see how many uncomely thoughts you have eliminated. Again, if you get one illumining or fulfilling thought, you can gradually try to get more. It is like running in the outer life — from one mile at a time you progress to two, then three, and so on. Perhaps you started at a ten-minute pace, but gradually your regular practice enables you to go faster. Like this, gradually you will be able to go beyond the thought-world. There will be some thoughts floating in your mind, but you will not be affected by them. Thought-power can create problems for us or help us. A really good thought is the soul's vision operating in the mind.

Question: Sometimes during our meditation we reach a certain height and we feel that we can't go any higher. Is there any way we can break through that barrier?

Sri Chinmoy: You have reached a certain height and you feel a block? Suppose you have meditated for fifteen minutes or half an hour, and you feel frustration that you are unable to go higher. On that day give up but remember that height, and try to remember the joy of that height. Feel happy that you reached a considerable height, and keep up the ecstasy and joy. The next day you do not have to start from the beginning and climb all the way up again. Just by using your will-power and your previous experiences, you can start very high — almost from where you stopped during your previous meditation. You know how far you went up yesterday, and from there you can try to go higher. Keep up your joy about the height you reached the previous day, and the following day make an attempt to go beyond it right from the start.

Question: Sometimes you walk back and forth for a while before a meditation. What are you doing at that time?

Sri Chinmoy: At that time I often feel that you are all pilgrims and I am the leader. We are all enjoying the pilgrimage. I am walking along Eternity's Road, and you are all following me. On the outer plane, you are all waiting in place for my blessings, but actually I see your souls following me while I am walking.

Question: On the outer plane we all have two legs, two arms, a head and so forth. Do we all have the same inner structure?

Sri Chinmoy: We have a physical body, a subtle body and a causal body. Whatever we have in the physical body, we have the same in the subtle body. But in the causal body there is no limit. If we want to, we can have five or six arms the way the Indian gods and goddesses have. If the seeker has made progress, if he wants to have a different kind of structure in the inner body, he can, but only for his own fulfilment. If I have ten hands or arms or legs, I will not be able to accomplish something more on the inner plane. There we are dealing with will-power. We do not need a different kind of structure in order to achieve something in the inner world. Somebody can be very thin in the inner world but still have tremendous strength. If one has made tremendous progress, he can totally change his inner structure. But there are many who do not do that, because it is absolutely unnecessary.

Question: Is there any danger of disciples becoming attached to the Master?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on how they think of their Master. If you take the Master as a God-realised soul, there is no problem. But if you take him as a human being, then there may be a problem. If you are attached to the sky, can this cause any emotional problem for you? No. If you are attached to the ocean, is there any problem? But if you are attached to a certain tree or a certain house, then you are in trouble. If you consider your Master as only an inch higher than you are, or only a foot higher than you in inner wisdom, then there is a great danger in becoming attached to him. You have to consider your Master as something vaster than the vastest. If you are attached to the sky or the sun or something very vast, that is not the same as human attachment. That is only your eagerness to grow into that enormous height or expanse or capacity. But if you think of the Master as you would any ordinary person and consider that he is just a little better than you are, then you are in trouble.

Three or four years ago my brother, who is dearer than the dearest to me, wrote: "I know who you are. You are for the Infinite and in the Infinite. But why do you blame your disciples for thinking of you as another human being? It is so difficult for them. They see you eating like them, shouting, barking, struggling, so naturally they can't fathom who you are." So it depends on how the disciple approaches the Master — what kind of relationship he has. If you have the inner feeling that I am infinitely higher or vaster than you, then you cannot try to bind me. Your attachment is destructive only when you feel you can bind and possess me. If you are giving me whatever capacity you have for love and devotion, with the hope that I will be able to give you more, then you are safe. You are giving your little capacity to the Master, and he will give you his limitless capacity. Your own faith, understanding, love and consciousness you have to apply in order to know whether you are trying to possess your Master or trying to become part and parcel of his universal existence.

So attachment is very bad if you think of your Master only on the physical plane. But if you take your Master as a God-realised soul whose existence is limitless, then you cannot be attached. You can be attached to something which is a little higher than you or better than you. But if you think of something or someone as truly vast, then you will be devoted, and not attached.

Question: You say that if we do something really bad, our souls will disown us. But if we are our souls, then what will our souls disown?

Sri Chinmoy: Think of it this way: your mother will try to show the neighbours that you are an excellent girl. If you do something wrong, the neighbours will forgive you, because they are not connected to you or responsible for you. But your mother will not forgive you; she will feel truly miserable that you have done something bad, because you are her very own. The aspiring soul feels that it is beneath its dignity to have this kind of unruly or unspiritual vital, mind and body. If it is really displeased with your actions, then the soul will no longer try to inspire you — your body, vital, mind and heart — or encourage you to lead a spiritual life.