Mind-confusion and heart-illumination, part 1

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Part I — Waiting outside Eternity's door: the mind

"When I transform my mind into readiness, God will transform His Heart into willingness."
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Question: What purpose does the mind serve?

Sri Chinmoy: Our physical body is composed of five elements. These elements are not self-sufficient. They need something higher, something deeper, something more conscious to guide them, and that is the mind. In an ordinary being, if the mind does not function at all, he cannot sustain his own life. He becomes inert, helpless. Without the mind at all, one cannot function in the physical body. Having a physical body is not enough; a mind is also necessary.

But the mind is also not enough. The mind makes thousands of mistakes. The mind tells us to do something and when we do it, the body gets hurt. The mind has limits beyond which it cannot go without the help of the heart and soul. That is why I say that when the ordinary mind comes to the fore, you have to take it as a bundle of imperfection and throw it into the heart.

The heart is like a sea of purity. If I have an impure mind, I will try to catch the mind and throw it into the sea. Once it is inside the sea, it will be lost. In the illumination of the psychic sea, mental thoughts, impure thoughts, undivine thoughts, unlit thoughts, will all be illumined. Once the mind is purified, it becomes a real help for the soul and for the soul's mission. Otherwise, it will remain a constant frustration.

Existence, Consciousness and Bliss must go together for a perfectly divine human being. These are somewhat comparable to matter, mind and soul. In human beings, mind and matter are well developed right now. But the soul, the divinity in man, has yet to come to the fore. Only a very few human beings have developed an illumined mind. But it can be developed through our aspiration. Until this happens, man will be an incomplete and unsatisfied creature.

Question: Is there any correlation between spirituality and intelligence?

Sri Chinmoy: There is no basic link between spirituality and intelligence. We cannot tie spirituality and intelligence together. If you take spirituality as the living Breath of God, then it is also in human intelligence. But intelligence and mental discipline cannot serve the purpose of spiritual self-discipline for Self-realisation.

Intelligence is a quality of the human mind, not something in the soul. The mind cannot and will not give us our true wealth; whereas the soul will. Although a man may be vastly learned and intelligent, he need not be spiritual at all. There are people who are extremely intelligent, but they are wanting in the inner cry. If they do not have the inner cry, they will never reach the Goal. Mind will take them as far as it can, but that can never be to the ultimate Goal. That Goal can only be achieved through psychic aspiration.

Question: Are there karmic causes for intelligence?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. As everything must be cultivated, generally intelligence has to be cultivated in one's previous life in order for one to be born with it in this life. If one has cultivated intelligence in his past incarnations, his outer mind may not get systematic knowledge from school, but his inner achievement will flow through his so-called ignorant mind.

But if the soul sees that a person's brilliant mind is standing in the way of his inner progress, the soul may make the decision in the next life to incarnate in a very simple family where the intelligence will not be developed, in order to give the person simplicity and the opportunity for his intuition to develop.

Also, if one abuses one's intelligence in this life, using it for a bad purpose, then one may not get that opportunity again in the next life. It does not necessarily follow that in each life one will be more and more intelligent.

Question: I was thinking not so much of book intelligence. Very often we meet someone who has had very little formal education or book learning but who seems to exhibit a very deep natural intelligence. Would this be a sign of intuitive knowledge or spiritual knowledge?

Sri Chinmoy: No, intuitive knowledge and natural intelligence are two totally different things. Intuitive knowledge comes on the strength of past inner experiences. It is different from intuitive flashes. To get intuitive knowledge, one has to enter into the realm of intuition and stay there. One has to have free access to the world of intuition. When one has intuition, one lives in the light of the divine existence. But the mental brilliance or the natural intelligence that we notice in our daily lives, does not have its source in the world of intuition. Intuition is something far deeper and far higher. In ordinary human life we see many people who have abundant intelligence. But this intelligence is not and cannot be the product and effect of intuition. Intuition is totally different. Intuition is something very, very high.

Question: Do you feel that the chief obstacle to spiritual illumination is the mind and its operation?

Sri Chinmoy: The mind is one of the main obstacles, but the unaspiring physical consciousness — the physical which is fast asleep — and the impure, aggressive vital are also serious obstacles. The soul is the eldest brother in the family, and the heart is next. The body, the vital and the mind are the younger brothers and they are quite unruly. But a day will come when the soul will be able to exercise its authority over these unruly children. When it says, "I am telling you that you have done something wrong; you have to listen to me," they will listen to the dictates of the soul and they will see that the soul is right.

The superior of the body is the vital. The superior of the vital is the mind. The mind's superior is the heart. The heart's superior is the soul. The soul also has a superior: God. The soul listens to God all the time. The heart very often listens to the dictates of the soul — very often but not always. The mind practically never listens to the heart, the vital does not listen to the mind and the body does not listen to the vital. But the serious problem starts for us in the mind.

The mind is a great obstacle because the mind does not see the Truth-light as it has to be seen. On the strength of its identification, the heart sees the Truth as the Truth is, as the Truth wants to reveal itself. But the mind does not do this. The mind wants to see the Truth in its own way and then it starts doubting its own assessment. If you use the heart, immediately you see the entire universe — Infinity itself — within you. But if you use the mind, you see anything vast as outside yourself. If you think of the infinite with your mind, it is no longer infinite; it is all limited. Beyond a certain point, the mind's conceptions do not extend. If you use the mind, immediately you will see that you are here and everything else is around you, before you, behind you, above you or below you. But if you use the heart, immediately, like a magnet, you will see that you have caught the Vast and it is all inside you.

There are many types of mind. Here on earth we are using the physical mind and the intellectual mind, which are very limited. The illumined mind is the mind that is illumined by the light of the soul with the help of the heart. This mind is vast, and it is not an obstacle to the soul's operation. This mind is conscious of the soul's capacity, the soul's reality and the soul's mission, and it will gladly help the soul. But the mind that most people on earth are using now is very obscure, unlit and limited. The sophisticated intellectual mind thinks it knows everything without actually knowing anything. But the illumined mind, which is illumined by the light of the soul, has received the knowledge of the soul. That mind is a great help to us.

Question: What exactly is the difference between the physical mind and the intellectual mind?

Sri Chinmoy: The physical mind is always limited to the boundaries of the physical body and its activities. It does not think of what is happening in far distant places or in some inner world or in the skies. This mind constantly thinks of what you are going to eat, what you are going to say, what clothes you are going to wear and so on. The most limited, gross daily activities are the realm of the physical mind.

The intellectual mind does not take care of anything in the physical world. It reads books and thinks of world politics and performs abstract mathematical calculations and that kind of thing. It is one step removed from the purely physical consciousness.

Question: Are intellectual discussions of any value?

Sri Chinmoy: Intellectual talks are good and helpful before you have entered into spirituality. But once you have started concentrating and meditating and getting inner experiences on the strength of your inner and higher aspiration, you must not accept the feast of reason. The feast of reason is venomous to those who want to realise the Truth of the Beyond.

Question: Why is the mind destructive?

Sri Chinmoy: When God created the mind, the heart, the body and the vital, He did not want the mind to go its own way. He wanted and expected the mind to be part and parcel of His divine manifestation. He gave limited freedom to the mind, the heart, the body and the vital, but this freedom the body, vital and mind misused. When we are given limited freedom it is up to us to see how we can use it to get more opportunity to go further and deeper. If we choose, instead, to use it for a bad purpose, that is not the fault of the one who gave us this freedom.

Suppose you give me a dollar. With this limited freedom in the form of a dollar, I can take a bus to church to pray and meditate, or I can go to a bar and drink. The choice is up to me. When God gave the mind this limited freedom of choice, He wanted to see how the mind would actually use its freedom. When the heart got limited freedom, it immediately felt the necessity to identify itself with the Highest, to establish a connection with the Highest, to expand, expand, expand. But the mind did not do this. The mind could have used its freedom for a dynamic purpose: to build the Palace of Divinity on earth. That is what God wanted. But unfortunately, when ignorance knocked at the door of the mind, the mind opened its door and, instead of building a palace, the mind then started breaking and destroying.

Question: If the Supreme is in everything, the Supreme is also in the mind. So how can the mind be bad?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two minds. One mind is extremely nice, extremely divine. The other mind is in the physical consciousness, which is not so nice, not so divine. When we say that the mind is not good, that the heart is better, we are speaking of the physical mind which does not allow us to expand ourselves. It always says, "One at a time, little by little, piece by piece." The mind seems to go very fast, but you have to know that the mind thinks of only one thing at a time. It does not want to embrace existence as a whole.

The mind sees things part by part. If Infinity appears before the mind, the mind will take a part out of the whole and say, "This is the truth." It will take a portion of the Vast rather than accept the Vast in its own way. It will try to scrutinise Infinity itself to see if there is any imperfection in it. But the heart will not do that. As soon as the heart sees the Vast, it will run to it like a child runs to embrace his mother or father. A child does not care to know how great his father is. He knows only that this is his father, and he runs toward him because of his heart's oneness with his father. A child does not yet have a developed mind. His spontaneity is the spontaneity of the heart. But if an adult knows that his father is very great, he will think, "I have to be very careful about how I deal with him, how I speak to him." By this time the mind has entered into the relationship. The mind is subject to its own changeable judgement, whereas the heart judges on the strength of its feeling of identification and oneness and remains faithful to its inner feelings.

Even if the heart sees imperfection, the heart will take the imperfection as its own. When the mother sees the child's imperfections with a soulful consciousness, she feels that since he is her son, they are also her imperfections. But if the mother uses her mind, when she sees imperfection in the child she will become angry and say, "O God, why did You give me such an undivine child?"

God is in everything, true. But if you see a tiger right in front of you, will you go and shake hands with it? No! Water is water, whether it comes from the faucet or from a puddle in the street. But you will not drink the dirty water from the street, because the water from the tap is more pure, more divine. Similarly, you know that God is in everything, but you also have to know that the God that is inside a tiger is not to be worshipped right now because it is not yet manifesting divinity to a very great extent. The Supreme is in the mind also, but when the Supreme is in the heart, He is wider, He is more kind, more compassionate. When we make a comparison between the human mind and the human heart, we see that the heart is more divine.

The mind is not totally bad, but we are making a comparison. We have to know that there are some things better than the mind. Your heart loves God much more than your mind does. That is why we say that the heart is better than the mind. Better than the mind is the heart, better than the heart is the soul. When you realise God, your mind will be under your control. At that time the mind will be very good. But right now the mind is your boss, and it can easily make you feel miserable. When you become the boss of the mind, you will see that the mind becomes divine. At that time I will never say that the mind is bad. But right now the mind you are using is the physical mind. When you use that mind, if I smile at one of your friends, you will become jealous. Your mind will tell you, "Oh, Guru doesn't care for me." But when you use the pure mind, you will immediately say, "Oh, she is my friend after all. She also deserves to get a smile. " But until you are able to use the pure mind, you will have no suffering, no anxiety, no doubt, no jealousy if you remain in the heart. The mind makes you feel that we are all separate, but the heart makes you feel that everybody belongs to you. That is why the heart is better. So remain in the heart, pray in the heart, meditate in the heart. Then you will make very fast progress.

Question: If the mind is so bad, how can we get rid of it?

Sri Chinmoy: We cannot categorically say that the mind is bad and that we must throw it away or discard it. The mind is imperfect but we can perfect it. The mind is darkness but we can and we must illumine it. The mind plays a tremendous role in our human life, in society. In the Western world the mind has come to a very high stage of development. The mind is like an elder brother. It has more wisdom than the aggressive vital and the sleeping physical. But again, when we make a comparison between the mind and the heart, we see all the limitations of the physical mind.

Inside the heart is the soul. That is its special place of abode within the body. When we want to do something properly, divinely, we have to concentrate on the heart in order to contact the soul. So let us try to live inside the heart. If we can stay in the heart we will get the capacity to identify ourselves with others, who form our larger part, our larger being. In the spiritual life we always want to identify ourselves with the Vast, to make our inseparable oneness with the Vast. This is what the heart can do; the mind cannot do it. But we shall not discard the mind; we shall only try to take the mind to a proper place, and that is to the heart's illumination and the soul's illumination. When the illumination of the heart enters into the mind, the mind becomes a most powerful instrument that can be used in a divine way.

The human mind is a marvellous development. But a time comes in the march of evolution when we see the limitations of the mind. The mind is necessary only until we enter into the deeper region of spirituality. At that time we must offer our mind to our soul and let the soul illumine or transform the mind and give the mind the capacity to transcend its self-imposed or self-created barriers. As you know, there is a higher mind, an overmind and a supermind. Through the guidance of the soul one can enter into these higher regions of the mind. But as long as we are caught in the physical mind, all will remain imperfection and bondage.

Now, how can we inspire the mind to enter into the heart? If we find fault with the mind, we can never change it and transform it. But if we appreciate its capacity to play a significant role in God's cosmic Drama, then we can easily transform it. The mind, as well as the heart, is also important for the full manifestation of God on earth. It can and must become a chosen instrument of God.

Question: What is it in us that resists something good or something vast in spite of knowing that it will help as and that it is something that we actually need?

Sri Chinmoy: When we see the vastness of Reality with our physical mind or with our vital, we are scared to death. Why? Because our mind and vital do not have the capacity to identify with the vast. They are too limited. They are ready to appreciate and admire the vast, but when it is a matter of becoming or growing into the vast, they are terribly afraid. We appreciate and admire many things, but if anybody asks, "Do you want to become that?" we say, "No!" Why? Because fear comes. In everything we see that fear looms large — either fear or doubt. First there is fear. Fear comes because we do not know how to identify ourselves with something that is beyond our normal capacity. Then doubt comes to tell us, "Is it good to have it? Is it worthwhile to grow into the vastness? I am quite satisfied." The vital has fear and the mind has doubt. The vital is ready to strike someone, but while striking it is afraid that the other person will give it a kick in return. And the mind, in its ignorance, is always eager to doubt everything. So the physical mind and the aggressive vital are of no use in the spiritual life.

But we do have something to save us and protect us, and that is the heart. The heart has the capacity to identify itself with the tiniest possible insect as well as the vast sky. When a poet uses this inner heart and looks at the ocean, he feels his total oneness with the ocean. When he looks at the sky, he becomes totally one with the sky. He looks at a mountain with his heart, and he becomes the mountain itself in his inner life. The heart can identify with anything, small or large. In the spiritual life we must use the heart if we really want to realise the Highest. The heart is our sincere friend, our devoted slave. Our journey is safe with the heart. If we follow the path of the heart, nothing will stand in our way. And we will feel at every moment a sense of satisfaction, because the heart is identifying itself with some vast reality, which has boundless Peace, Light and Bliss to offer us.

Our aspiring heart is the representative of our entire being. So we have to try and follow the path of the heart. We will meet with no resistance from the heart, because the aspiring heart is always in tune with the soul. It is all Light. In Light there is no hesitation, there is no resistance. The physical mind is still in darkness, and it does not want to come out of darkness. The vital is still in darkness, and it cherishes its aggressive and undivine animal propensities. But the heart that is pure, the heart that has received Light from the soul, is ready at any moment to offer its existence to the soul. If we can consciously identify ourselves with the heart, the heart will carry us to the real Source, which is God. So please try to use the heart in your life of aspiration, and there will be no resistance, no hesitation, no fear, no doubt.

Question: How can we surrender the mind?

Sri Chinmoy: Here in the West we exercise the freedom and power of the mind. Although the heart and the soul have surrendered to the Inner Pilot, the mind continues to doubt. The mind even doubts its own existence and its own formulation of thought. Now, what should my disciples do about this? Each disciple of mine must feel that his path is the path of love, devotion and surrender. On this path the physical mind either has to be totally illumined or it has to be totally ignored. The intellectual mind also is poisonous. If one wants to enter into the highest spiritual life, the intellectual mind, too, has to be transcended. Either we have to transform the mind or discard it by placing it in the Lap of the Supreme.

If we have a lump of clay which is soft, we should try to mould it. But if our lump of clay has become hard and cannot be moulded, then we should discard it. Likewise, if the mind is beyond repair, we should discard it. But if it is still plastic and adaptable, then we should transform it with the soul's light and our heart's deepest feeling of oneness with the Master. This is the easiest way to bring the mind under control. The light of the soul and the oneness of the heart have to enter into the mind and make it feel that, instead of being totally ruined, it will be illumined and fulfilled. Then, there is every possibility that that the mind will become one with the heart and soul. As spiritual aspirants, we can easily live on earth without using the gross physical mind and the sophisticated, intellectual mind. We will not act like an imbecile or an animal; we will act like a pure and simple child. And the intuitive mind still remains for us to use. If we can remain with intuition, we are safe. Intuition will automatically bring forward our divine faith.

We can, however, freely utilise the physical mind in areas which do not conflict with the Master's utterances or way of action. In our day-to-day life we do many, many things in the physical world which have nothing at all to do with our Master's spiritual teachings. We remember not to touch the hot stove with our hand. If it is chilly, we remember to wear a coat. We count our change when we buy something. Our physical mind is operating harmlessly in all these things. But in the matter of our inner life, when the mind wants to enter into our purest aspiration, we immediately have to offer the physical mind at the Feet of the Supreme. When the gross, ordinary human mind leaves us and the divine, illumined mind replaces it, we become the richest person in the spiritual life.

Question: Why is the mind so difficult to surrender?

Sri Chinmoy: The human mind had made friends with ignorance. It is in collusion with ignorance. You cannot discard the mind altogether just because it is in collusion with ignorance the thief. You cannot cut off your left hand just because it does not function well. The body is an instrument, the vital is an instrument and the mind is also an instrument of God. If I do not perfect all of these instruments I cannot be integrally perfect. God has given me hands, eyes, nose, ears, mind and so forth. If I do not utilise my eyes, then I am depriving God, for God is seeing through my eyes. The mind, too, has to be perfected and utilised divinely.

Before we can utilise the mind divinely, we have to bring it out of ignorance. What is actually happening in our lives is that we feel that the mind is superior to everything. According to our understanding, the person who has a brilliant mind, the mental giant, is a superior being. But we have to know and accept the limitations of the mind. Unless we become aware of its deficiencies, we will not try to correct them. We will continue to feel that the mind is superior to everything, that the mind has not done anything wrong and cannot do anything wrong, that the mind is the boss and we are its obedient servants. Then we will always be at the mercy of the mind. One moment the mind will say this fellow is very nice; the next moment it will say he is an idiot; and the next moment it will say that he is a criminal. The mind constantly contradicts itself, and we must dance on the waves of its ever-changing surface. Only if we feel that our present human mind is imperfection itself will we try to bring perfection into the mind.

How can we surrender our mind to the soul or to our Inner Pilot? First we have to know the limitations of the mind. It cannot take us far. It can only create big holes in the fabric of reality with its doubt and suspicion. Then we fall into these holes and lose our sense of reality. Once we are aware that the mind is not being utilised properly, but that it can be and must be used for God, for the service of the Divine, then we have come one step forward.

The next step is to know what is hidden inside the mind — what capacities, possibilities and potentialities the mind does already embody. The surface of the ocean is all turmoil, but when we observe the bottom of the ocean it is all peace and tranquillity. Similarly, the mind is full of turmoil, tension and obscurity on the surface, but when we go deep inside the mind we find the illumined mind, the intuitive mind, the higher mind and so on. These minds are constantly expanding, enlarging and trying to help the gross physical body to see the Truth, live the Truth and become the Truth, If we know what the mind can do for us when it is used for a divine purpose, then again we have gone one step ahead.

The next step is to surrender the mind. In order to know the secret of the mind's surrender, we have to be sure of the heart's surrender. Very often, after an outburst of emotion we feel that we have given everything to God. This emotional outburst lasts for a few minutes or a day, but it is not the heart's total, absolute surrender. The heart's total, absolute surrender means constant oneness with the object of adoration inside the heart. When the heart has really surrendered to God or to the Guru, the seeker will always feel oneness with the Guru or God in his heart. At that time the heart identifies itself totally with the Master or with the Supreme. Once the heart's surrender is complete, we will feel that the soul has already achieved its total identification with the Absolute inside the heart.

The soul's identification and the heart's identification with the Supreme or with the Guru have infinitely more strength than the mind's sense of separateness. Two are fighting against one, and these two are very powerful. Why? Because they are connected with the Highest. The soul is connected with the Highest and has always been connected with the Highest. And once the heart surrenders unconditionally, it also becomes consciously connected with the Highest. Since two divine powers are already connected with the Highest and have the Source, the Supreme, as their aid, how can they lose to the mind? Naturally the heart and soul will win.

How can you help them to conquer your physical mind so you can offer it to God? You have to feel during your intense meditation that you have nothing and are nothing but the heart. Feel that you do not have a body, you do not have a mind, but you have and you are only the heart. Then feel that you have nothing and you are nothing but the soul. When you can feel that you are only the heart and soul and nothing else, then try to look inside yourself. There you will see an uncontrollable vital, which is not the divine vital but the aggressive vital. Go and stand in front of the vital with your soul and with your heart. The unlit vital will immediately attack the heart and soul. But by attacking these divinely powerful beings which are surcharged with divine Light, the uncontrolled vital will lose all its strength, just as my hand would break and lose all its power if it repeatedly struck a wall with all its force. Then it will have to surrender to the light of the heart and soul.

Also, you will see the unlit physical which is not allowing you to surrender. There again you must go and stand with your soul's light and your heart's light. The gross physical consciousness will also start striking the heart and the soul, and it, too, will lose all its obscure, limited power in this way, and surrender to the heart and soul.

Now the mind also has to be conquered. Where is the mind? We will feel the presence of the mind wherever there is contradiction, limitation, doubt, for this is the play of the mind. Now you will stand in front of the mind with your soul and your heart. The mind, with all its doubt, contradiction, limitation, frustration, anxiety, tension and so on will strike the heart and soul mercilessly. But it, too, will lose all its undivine strength in this way and will have to surrender to the light of the heart and soul. When someone loses a battle, he surrenders, and when he surrenders, he obeys the will of the victor. So when the mind, vital and physical surrender to the soul and heart, the soul and heart will be able to utilise these members of its family for a divine purpose, to fulfil the Divine.

So start with the feeling that you are the soul and the heart. Then confront the vital, the physical and the mind with your divine power of light. All will have to surrender to the light of the soul and the heart, since the soul and the heart are in communion with the Highest Absolute.

Question: Could you please explain the levels of the mind in relation to surrender?

Sri Chinmoy: We start with the physical mind, which is the lowest mind. In the physical mind it is all obscurity, impurity, imperfection, bondage, ignorance and limitation. A little higher is the intellectual mind, which deals with abstractions and more sophisticated thoughts. Doubt, confusion and contradiction reign here. Next we come to the vacant mind. The essence of formless ideas can be perceived here. But thought cannot enter into existence in this mind. Therefore, it has no opportunity of being assimilated and transformed. Next is the calm mind. It is like an expanse of sea. Wrong thoughts can enter here, but they cannot grow in this calm mind. If bad thoughts enter, they are assimilated into good thoughts and divine willpower. Then comes the higher mind. In the higher mind thoughts are elevating, constructive, subtle and progressive. Next is the inner mind. In the inner mind the knowledge of creative thought and the wisdom of the inner light play together. Then there is the intuitive mind. The intuitive mind is the Vision-mind. From it we get dynamic and creative revelation, but not in the form of thoughts as we know them in the physical and intellectual minds. Then comes the overmind. Here duality starts, multiplicity starts. God is infinite forms in the overmind. Then comes the supermind, where creation starts. There is no multiplicity, no diversity here, but a flow of oneness. Everything in the supermind is one, whole, complete.

These are the aspects of the mind. All these levels of the mind have to surrender to the Will of the Supreme. Unfortunately, they do not surrender together. The gross physical mind cannot be one with the supermind, so they do not make their surrender together. It is not possible. Kindergarten students study according to their capacity, while college and university students study at a much higher level. Each level of mind has to surrender to the Supreme individually. They cannot do it simultaneously because their standard is totally different. But sooner or later all must surrender in order for God-realisation to take place.

Question: What can I do to make my aspiration stronger in the mind?

Sri Chinmoy: The only advice I can give you is this: if the mind is constantly involved in our aspiration, then we will not succeed. Suppose you have two brothers. One brother is sick all the time, and the other is always healthy. If you think of the sick brother all the time, then you will also feel sick. If you go to the hospital four or five times a day, you are bound to feel that you are also sick, even though the doctors may find nothing wrong with you. So if you spend most of your time with your sick brother — that is, the mind — then you will be affected. But if you spend most of your time with your strong brother, your healthy brother — the heart — then you will get strength from him. When you become strong by mixing with him, then you and your heart — the two healthy and strong brothers, can come to help the sick brother.

Always try to mix with those who are stronger than you. It is not that you should neglect or avoid the weak ones, but right now you are not strong enough to help them, and if you associate with them they will rob you of what little strength you have. Once you have gained the strength of the healthy heart, then you can go to the sick mind and make it well and strong.

Question: Some people say that we should always listen to the voice of reason. Can you comment on this?

Sri Chinmoy: In the beginning many things may help us, but later they may become obstacles. Desire was a helper when it raised us out of the world of lethargy. But it became a hindrance when we wanted to enter into the world of spirituality. Developing the reasoning mind is necessary for those who do not have any brain at all, who will not be able to grasp any truth, who are little better than animals in their understanding. But once we have some mental capacity, we must begin to transcend our servitude to the mind by bringing down the Grace, Peace and Light from above to illumine the mind. We have to go farther, deeper and higher than the world of reason, far beyond the reasoning or intellectual mind. The reasoning mind has to be transformed into a dedicated instrument of the Supreme.

The reasoning mind is really an obstacle for an aspirant. Using the mind becomes a limitation because the mind cannot grasp the Infinite. If we live in the mind, we will constantly try to circumscribe the Truth; we will never be able to see the Truth in its proper form. Only if we live in the soul will we be able to embrace the Truth as a whole. Beyond reason is Truth. Beyond the boundaries of the reasoning mind are Truth, Reality and Infinity. Reason has very limited Light, whereas what we want and need has infinite Light. When infinite Light dawns, reason is broken into pieces.

Question: How do we know if something is true or right if we do not use the mind?

Sri Chinmoy: If you want to know if something is true without using the mind, then meditate on it. I am your spiritual Master and you are my disciple. If you want to make sure my decisions are right when I ask you to do something, instead of using your mind to challenge or contradict me, let your heart aspire. When the heart aspires, truth will automatically be revealed. Just do the thing that I have asked, and while doing it you will understand the reason why I asked you to do it.

Question: The only thing I have to work with is my mind. How can I contact the soul unless I use my mind to do so?

Sri Chinmoy: You can reach the soul, but not with your mind. The mind will never take you to the soul. The mind is a servant of the soul. When the soul says to the mind, "Come here!" the mind can come or it can run away. But the mind does not have the power to tell the soul, "Come here!"

The way to enter into the soul is with your aspiration. Once you enter into the spiritual life you can do very well without the mind. The mind will say, "If you do such and such, you are ruined." Just close your ears to this and say you do not want to hear any more. Within a few minutes you will feel something inside your heart telling you what to do. Whatever suggestion comes from the soul, just follow it. A day will come when all of the messages from the soul or the heart will come to the mind as well. The mind will eventually be illumined by the light of the heart, which comes from the soul. With the help of the heart you will be able to illumine the mind.

The mind says to you, "I am here to fulfil you." But the heart says, "Your mind is making you small, smaller, smallest; feeble, feebler, feeblest. Please try to go to the soul with your heart's aspiration. Then you will be able to illumine the mind most successfully." In the spiritual life the best thing to do is to forget the mind at first. Give all importance to the heart. When you receive the light of the heart, the light of the soul, then you can illumine the mind and go far beyond its limits.

Question: We are brought up in the West not to accept anything unless it has been proven. Should we have a mind that accepts things without questioning and without thinking?

Sri Chinmoy: When you tell your son, "I am your father," why does he accept you as his father? Just because he believes you. When we come into the world, our very first step is belief. When a father says to this child, "This is fire, this is a knife. Do not touch them because they will hurt you," the child believes him. The father need not prove to the child that these things will hurt him. The child has no need to ask for proof. The simple faith that a child carries is the happiest thing. Arguments begin when his mind begins to develop. Then he may start doubting his very existence.

But in the spiritual life, faith is not mere belief. It is the oneness of truth. When you have faith, the Master does not have to prove anything, because you feel the essential truth of what he says, just as in the physical world you do not have to prove your existence to others because they themselves can see you and feel you. Their existence spontaneously becomes one with yours, and there is no necessity for any other proof. In the outer life you have to prove what you are saying. But in the field of consciousness, truth proves its own existence. In the outer life, truth does not prove its own existence. That is because we relate to the outer world with our outer senses. Therefore truth has to be proved by some kind of perception. But we also have inner senses. The mind has one foot in the inner world and one foot in the outer world. As an inner sense it is inadequate, and as an outer sense it is incompetent. So let us ignore the mind and deal with the soul. When we stay in the soul, truth's very existence is its own proof.

Question: If you told me you could swim across the ocean, I would say, "Let me see you do it." I wouldn't accept the fact that you could until I saw you do it, and then after I saw you do it, I'd say, "Well, now you can teach me."

Sri Chinmoy: All right. But if you asked me to prove my capacity to swim, you would have to let me do it in my own way. If you asked me to prove my capacity with my hands tied behind my back and my feet tied together, I don't think I would be able to prove anything to you. Or if you refused to let me get into the water, or if you closed your eyes and refused to watch my performance, I don't think I could prove anything to you.

There is a way for a spiritual Master to prove the truth of his philosophy or of his realisation, but you must allow him to do it in his own way. I would ask you to give up your doubts, your impurities, your attachments, your desires for a few months, and meditate with me sincerely, devotedly and soulfully. If you allowed me to prove myself in this way, you would very soon see and feel the truth. But if you said, "No, I don't want you to prove yourself in that way; right now I want you to show me God, Truth and Light right before my very eyes," then what could I do? I would be helpless at that time. If I brought God, Truth and Light before you, which I could do, at that time your inner eyes would be tightly shut and you would not see anything, so you would still doubt my capacity and my truth.

In the outer world you need eyes to see if somebody is doing something. Similarly, in the inner world you need the third eye to see if somebody is doing something inwardly. One has to use one's inner vision to see the authenticity of the spiritual Master. The outer eyes, which serve the mind, are of no use for seeing inner things. If you want to prove the authenticity of a spiritual Master, meditate and go deep within, make your mind quiet and try to enter into the universal Consciousness. Only then will you see whether the spiritual man is telling the truth or not, only then do you become a competent judge.

But you cannot expect to become a qualified judge overnight. If you want to learn to be an electrician, you place yourself in the hands of a qualified electrician for a year or two and follow his instructions carefully. At the end of that time, if he has not taught you well, you can say, "You were not qualified," or "You did not know what you were doing." God-realisation is an infinitely more difficult subject. If a spiritual man says, "I can lead you to God," you have to follow his instructions to the letter for at least a year or two even to get preliminary experiences that will show you that you are on the right track. If you doubt him from the very beginning, you are not giving either yourself or him a chance. If your Master says, "I have seen the Light and I will take you to the Light," you have to give him an opportunity to take you to the Light. You have to be patient and you have to give him complete obedience. I use the word 'surrender', but complete obedience is necessary to make even a beginning. For that, one has to reject the doubting mind totally. With tremendous self-discipline you have to force yourself to stop doubting, even if you must tell yourself that it is only for a temporary period. Say, "I will stop doubting for two years and give this man a chance to show me the Light." But if you doubt his teachings while trying to learn from him, you are simply destroying your opportunities.

If you want to see something in the outer world, you have to go to the place where it is being shown. In the inner world it is also like that. When a spiritual person says that he is doing this or that, you have to go to his level, to his plane, in order to see it. Everything has to be seen or felt or judged in its own world. I am no judge of science because I have never entered into that world; I am not competent to judge it on its own level. Physical truth has to be seen in the physical world, and spiritual truth has to be seen in the spiritual world.

Westerners have a special problem with this developed mind. It is really a disadvantage in the spiritual life to have a highly developed intellectual mind. But if you transform it and transmute it, it can become a very useful instrument. I wish to tell you a traditional Indian story on this subject.

A seeker who had studied thousands and thousand of spiritual books went to a Master and said, "Master, I have studied all that the books can teach, and now I wish to learn from you."

The Master said, "You are not fit to be my student."

The seeker asked, "How is it that I am not fit to be your student? Here you have all kinds of ignorant people as your students, while I have studied many books and all the scriptures."

The Master replied, "Because what you have learned, you now have to unlearn, whereas they have not to unlearn anything. You have a giant burden on your shoulders. Unless you unburden yourself, you will not learn anything from me. But these innocent students of mine are not burdened with book information; they are fresh."

Then the Master asked the seeker to bring him an almanac and open it to a particular page. "Here it is written that at this particular hour it will rain heavily. Now squeeze the paper. Is it raining here? Squeeze the whole book. Is it raining? You have squeezed the book as hard as you can, but no rain. Book-knowledge is theoretical knowledge. Experience alone is practical knowledge. Just unlearn all that you have learned for so many years, and then you will be fit to be my student."

Indian Masters are sometimes very, very strict, or perhaps we should say very rude, to their students when they come with intellectual questions. Sometimes they snub their students mercilessly. They want to show their students that unnecessary intellectualisation will only hinder their spiritual development.

Question: Guru, the very beautiful spiritual qualities that we've talked about and that we've read about for so long I do not really feel. What's wrong with me?

Sri Chinmoy: I have repeatedly said that if you live in the mind, no matter how many times you have seen Light or felt Truth, you will doubt and negate your experience. Since you have come to our path, I assure you, you have seen Light at least seventeen times. When you see it, the vision lasts for five minutes or ten minutes or fifteen minutes. Then, on your way home you start arguing with yourself whether or not you have seen Light. Your mind starts fighting with your own achievement. But when you are meditating here, you do see Light and feel Light. I can say this on the strength of my own oneness with you. If you say I am wrong, I will say that you are wrong, because nobody on earth can deceive me. I can enter into you quicker than you can enter into yourself. I know that at least seventeen times you have seen Light and felt Truth. Unfortunately, when these experiences enter into your mind, your mind constantly argues and finds fault with your own achievements. It gets joy in suspecting your achievements.

Even those who have come into our spiritual path ten or fifteen days ago have seen Light and felt Truth inside their existence. Whoever has come to this Centre, whoever is connected with us, has already been blessed by the Supreme with His Light. Nobody has come or can come or will come to the Centre even once and not be blessed with this Light. Even an aspirant who has meditated at this Centre for the first time has already been blessed by the Supreme. It is the Blessing of the Supreme that has brought that aspirant here in the first place.

When some people see Light or feel Truth, owing to their ignorance they feel right from the beginning that they are seeing something wrong or something that is not genuine. Other people accept the experience of Light for a short while and do not doubt at all while they are experiencing it. Their doubt starts later, but when it starts it negates the experience for them. You belong to that category. When you see Light, at that time you do feel that it is Light you are seeing. When you feel the Truth, at that time you do believe it. But later, the hound of doubt devours your achievement and realisation. This is the favour your doubting mind is doing for you.

Part II — The subconscious mind and psychological analysis

"The mind uncovers teeming questions.
The heart discovers fulfilling answers."
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Question: How can I bring back to my conscious memory things that I learned once but have now forgotten — such as my medical knowledge?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us forget about the past; let us think of the present right now. What should you do when you study something? Instead of reading a page line by line and word by word, you have to look at the page all at once. Look at the page with your open eyes and do not read any word that is written there. Rather, try to bring the knowledge, the information, the wisdom that the page wants to offer, into your being, into your existence, into your heart. Once your heart has accepted this knowledge, it becomes natural to you and it will then be much easier for you to learn it with the mind.

When you study word by word or sentence by sentence with the mind, you will get information, but when you want to learn something permanently, you have to learn it with your heart. You have to open yourself like an empty vessel and allow the knowledge to enter into you and become part of you. The moment the heart accepts something, it feels that it is its own. When something is your very own you do not lose it because you give it due importance. But something you have borrowed from somebody else or from somewhere else, you will not be able to keep forever. When the mind gets something from the world, the mind feels it has brought in some foreign substance. Then a day comes when the mind discards it because it gets more joy in taking in new thoughts and ideas. The mind is like a grasping child; as soon as it gets a new toy it throws away its old toy because it feels that the new one is more beautiful. The heart also cries for new ideas, new knowledge, new wisdom, but it does not discard the things it has already achieved. To the heart, the things that it has already possessed and cherished and the things that it wants to cherish are equally important.

So when you read something or think of something, instead of using your mind to scrutinise it, or taking it idea by idea, try to make your heart an empty vessel. Look at the page as if you are going to devour it with your heart. The heart possesses things permanently; the mind possesses things for a moment and then throws them away and cries for something else. The mind is very limited, but the heart is the home of the Infinite. The whole world can stay inside our heart, but not inside our mind. Try to bring it into your heart and possess it there. Once the heart has possessed it you can never forget it. It is yours. What you have in your clean and orderly room you cannot lose, because at any moment you can look and see it there.

Question: What is the role of the subconscious in the spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: The role of the subconscious is to disturb our inner peace, inner joy, inner light. We have to bring down Light and Purity from above into the subconscious plane to illumine it. Otherwise our subconscious and the unconscious parts always stand in the way of our spiritual achievement.

In the subconscious plane everything is chaotic, unillumined, unlit and fearful. It is important in the spiritual life to clear the jungle of the subconscious plane. But how can we do it? We can do it through constant aspiration and dedication to the Light that is ever descending from above. Each individual seeker has to illumine the darkness in his subconscious world, or the subconscious will continue to stand as an obstacle to his pursuit of God-realisation.

Question: Would you say how the subconscious becomes the entrance to the superconscious realm?

Sri Chinmoy: The subconscious cannot be a direct entrance to the superconscious. One has to first become conscious. Then one has to go beyond the conscious mind through aspiration. From the subconscious region one cannot directly enter into the plane of intuition. It is not possible because intuition is a very high step in the spiritual evolution of the mind. The subconscious has to be purified. Only after it is purified can it take a form which can be held in the conscious mind. But even the conscious mind is not high enough to take us into the realm of intuition. The conscious mind itself is limited. I may be conscious of many things, but that does not mean that I have the power to go beyond the mind. But in the plane of intuition, everything is spontaneous, all-powerful, all-creative. This realm is far removed from the subconscious or even the conscious mind.

Question: Is it desirable to bring to our conscious mind things from our subconscious?

Sri Chinmoy: There are many things in our subconscious mind which need not and should not come to the surface. In the subconscious there is obscurity, there is impurity, there is negation. These things should be purified, transformed and perfected from within without being brought into the physical or conscious mind. It is better not to disturb the subconscious mind at all.

Question: But orthodox psychology states that the subconscious has to be brought to the fore and illumined.

Sri Chinmoy: Here you are making a mistake. If you bring down the Light from above or bring forward your soul's light, automatically the subconscious will be illumined. At that time the subconscious will enter naturally into the conscious plane. But if you try to bring forward the subconscious without illumining it first, you will only create more problems for yourself.

Question: Is there a spiritual method of self-analysis?

Sri Chinmoy: No, there is not. The psychological kind of self-analysis, from the highest point of view, is wrong. In self-analysis we use the physical mind to try to examine our obscure past and our subconscious. In self-analysis we say, "I have done the right thing," or "I have done the wrong thing." There is always a positive and negative. But we have to go beyond positive and negative. In the Upanishads it is said that we have to accept ignorance and knowledge and then go beyond both to where all is divine wisdom. When we adopt self-analysis, one moment we are in knowledge and the next moment we are in ignorance. We are constantly identifying ourselves with knowledge or ignorance and with our mental doubt. But when we enter into deep spiritual meditation, when we are far along in the spiritual life, we are above ignorance and knowledge. We only cry for infinite Peace, infinite Light and infinite Bliss.

If the seeker is constantly examining himself with his mind, there will always be a strong pull from the negative forces in the mind. Like a magnet they will pull us, even though with our mind we are trying to discard whatever we think is wrong. The difficulty is that we do not use the soul's light to strengthen our willpower in self-analysis. When one means to do the right thing, that does not mean that he will be able to do it. The lower propensities and the wrong forces have tremendous power and this power comes in the form of temptation. If we give way to this temptation we are totally lost.

If a spiritual person wants to reach the realm of highest Peace and infinite Light, where there is no temptation, he has to go beyond mental analysis. He has to aspire. If, however, one has not accepted the spiritual life, it is better for that person to use self-analysis than to act like a wild animal. For him it is good, to some extent. If he does not use his power of self-analysis, for him there will be absolutely no difference between light and darkness. But if you want the quickest and most convincing way to transform your nature into a divine nature, you have to aspire. Aspiration is the only ultimate solution to the problems of human limitation.

Question: Can problems ever be solved psychologically, through psychological analysis, or must it always be spiritually?

Sri Chinmoy: Any problem, if it is solved spiritually, will be completely solved. But if you solve a problem psychologically, the solution is all in the mind, which is a very limited sphere. When we answer a question from the highest spiritual Truth, then we can feel that the answer is true and complete. We will get the ultimate satisfaction only when the question is answered from the spiritual point of view.

Although we have the body, the vital and the mind, if we solve problems from these different perspectives with the different capacities of the mind, the vital or the body, the answers will not completely satisfy our needs. With the mind we can solve the immediate problem. But that solution will not be permanent. The problem will simply take another form and come to us as another difficulty. We think, "I have solved that problem with my analytical mind," but unfortunately, if we go deep within, we will see that that very problem has now taken another shape and has come back to torment us. But once we solve the problem spiritually, we will see that that problem is really gone. And how do we solve a problem spiritually? We solve it through our inner progress, our soul's experience and our soul's light.

Once we begin to have true inner experiences, there will be no necessity to solve any problem with psychology or philosophy. Psychology and philosophy and all other mental ways to explain things are simply hopeless and useless. When we have our own inner experiences, we can see the truth with the light of spirituality, which is the Breath of God. Before that, if we live in the human world, we have to use the mind, we have to use psychology, or we will never attain even partial satisfaction. For temporary relief we can take shelter in the mind. But for permanent solutions we must get spiritual illumination.

Question: How do you bring light into the subconscious?

Sri Chinmoy: You should aspire for the light that will transform your nature. When you bring down light, it will automatically enter into the subconscious. Only by bringing light into your entire system can you illumine your inner darkness. By stirring up the mud and saying that you are this and you did that, you are only making yourself dirtier. No matter how many hours I dwell in a dark room, the dark room will not be changed into an illumined room. But if, just for a second, I can enter into an illumined room, then I may be able to bring light into the dark room and illumine it. When you meditate, you drink the light which permeates the atmosphere. This light will be able to illumine and purify the dark and impure things that you have inside you.

Question: How can we recognise our guilt and use it for our self-improvement?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, we should not try to recognise our guilt. If we try to recognise guilt, there will be no end to this guilt. Thinking about guilt is the negative approach. If we constantly examine what is inside a dustbin, then all we will ever see is rubbish. Guilt is like that. The very thought of guilt takes us away from light. Immediately, obscurity comes and covers our whole existence. If we want to be aware of guilt, if we try to discover where guilt comes from and what its function is, then we are destroying the divine part in ourselves. Guilt has come from wrong action. This wrong action we negate, not by thinking about it, but by doing something right. Only this kind of action will help us nullify its power.

We do not have to enter into darkness in order to see light or appreciate light. Let us enter directly into light itself, and what light has to offer we shall accept and use to fulfil our life. If we stay in a dark room for twenty-four hours of the day, we will not get light. Even if we stay there for hundreds of days, we will not get light because light is not available there. What we must do is go where there is light.

We are trying, in the spiritual world, to go beyond the mind. With the mind and through the mind we have not been able to achieve anything significant in the inner plane. So it is better not to think of guilt at all, but to think only of the divine possibilities that we have. Each human being has infinite divine possibilities. These possibilities have to be manifested in the form of realities. We started our soul's journey many thousands of years ago. We have gone from the mineral life to the plant life to the animal life; and we are now in the human life. What we want is the Goal and not the beginning of the road. We want to be transformed and illumined. Already we have covered a great distance. Now we should run, for the Goal is ahead. If we look backward or sideways we will stumble and fall. We should try, instead, to see only our divine qualities, and to manifest them in our lives. In order to do this we must see the light inside us and around us. Only then will we reach the Goal, which is all Light.

Question: Is it necessary to analyse what you actually do, or does this create doubt?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us not use the term analysis; let us use the term awareness. Whenever the followers of the Gurdjieff method do something, they always try to draw their attention to their action. When they touch something, they try to be aware that they are touching something. Always they try to be conscious of what they are doing. This does not create any kind of doubt.

You have to know that when you meditate soulfully, you become more aware automatically, without the need for analysing. When you see a mango right in front of you, with your inner vision, automatically its taste will come to the fore. You will not have to feel it, smell it, peel it, cut it and taste it. That process will give you the result step by step. But your spiritual consciousness will offer you the actual essence immediately. If you prefer to get the result step by step, there is nothing wrong in that. Only it will bring the mind to the fore constantly. But the spontaneous consciousness of the heart and soul will give you a better and more fulfilling result.

Question: Do you believe that doubt can be overcome by an individual? If so, how can it be done?

Sri Chinmoy: Doubt can certainly be overcome by any individual, provided he has inner aspiration. There is nothing on earth that cannot be conquered by aspiration. Let us take doubt as our inner enemy, as poison. Right in front of us there is both poison and nectar. It is we who have to make the choice. If we choose nectar, which is Immortality, naturally doubt can be overcome. But instead, we give all importance to doubt, which is nothing but ignorance, and the doubting mind. Every day we doubt ourselves and we doubt others and gradually we come to feel that we can never escape from the meshes of doubt. But it is possible to free ourselves from doubt. It is not only possible and practicable but it is also inevitable, because deep within us is the inner Divinity, and this inner Divinity is trying and crying to come to the fore.

Our physical mind is always in darkness because of its limitations. But if we can focus the physical mind on Truth, Light and our inner Divinity, then each of us has the capacity to conquer doubt. If we are consciously aware of this urge of the inner being to push forward and if we allow it to happen, then doubt is bound to leave us. When the flame of aspiration within us grows into a volcanic fire, all our doubts will be burned to ashes.

Question: To develop faith, do you need a Guru?

Sri Chinmoy: Sometimes a Guru helps; sometimes automatically we have faith. Some people, especially those who do not have a very developed intellect or sophisticated mind, spontaneously have faith. When the mind is very powerful and predominant, it is difficult to have faith in God, because the mind sees thousands of doors which lead into God's Palace, whereas the heart sees only one. When the mind starts to enter into God's Palace, it tries to see whether this door is good or that other one. It comes near one door and then it thinks that perhaps the other door is better. So it goes here and there, trying all the doors, and it takes a long time to enter into God's Palace. But the wise heart knows only one door, and that door is faith, absolute faith. Through this door it immediately enters into God's Palace.

Again, if one is intellectually developed it does not mean that one cannot also have faith in God. If his heart is also developed, the conviction of the heart is reflected in the mind.

Question: How can we get rid of the interpersonal problems related to the ego so we can get along better with others?

Sri Chinmoy: As long as we remain in the mind, we will always have problems of the ego. Only our aspiration can take us beyond the ego, to where our mind becomes quiet and our deeper and higher feelings may come forth. There is no end to the thoughts and measurements that the mind can contrive. But if you wish to get a mango from the mango tree, you need not first count the leaves on the tree and determine how far down the roots go and how much rain the tree has had. You simply pick the mango from the tree and eat it. All the mental figuring in the world will not give you the fruit. You must take it directly.

The mind is an obstacle that keeps us from getting the fruits of fulfilment. We become so involved with the mind, the ego, that we do not know how to get what we want. If a child wants something, he runs to his father for it. He does not stop to question if his father has a Master's degree or if he is qualified to give him what he needs. The child, fortunately, does not use his mind to such an extent. He simply runs to his father, the source, without doubt and without mental hesitation, and gets what he wants.

As long as we remain in the mind we will have problems getting along with other people. The mind gets joy from doubting and suspecting others. It will criticise the entire world and try to make us feel that we are either superior or inferior to everyone. But the heart gets joy from identification. The heart will feel its oneness with all people — their weaknesses and their strengths. So if we can remain in the heart and not in the mind, we will easily be able to get along with others.

Question: How can we understand others better?

Sri Chinmoy: If we want to understand others, we shall fail if we use our mind as the basic means. I am using the mind to express my thoughts, and you are using the mind to express your thoughts. But the very nature of the mind is so limited, its capacity is so limited, that it cannot understand others' thoughts in the way others want them to be understood. Also, we very often cannot express our ideas the way they should be expressed so that others can understand us.

In order to understand others properly we must use our intuitive faculties, our feeling of oneness. We must aspire and pray to God to give us the Mind that He uses. God does not think like we do. He uses Willpower and His all-pervading Consciousness. When we say God's Mind, we mean God's Consciousness. If we pray to God to give us His Consciousness, then we can easily understand others. We do not understand each other because we use our physical mind. God understands us very easily because He is intuitive. There is no other way to understand others properly. If we can use God's Consciousness, automatically we can enter into others and bring out their thoughts, or we can simply become one with them and understand them as we understand ourselves.

Part III — Purifying and illumining the mind

"Learn to love your disturbing and disturbed mind with your soul's light.
You will see your mind listening to your heart's necessity."
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Question: What are hostile forces in the form of thoughts? How can we know that we are being attached by these hostile forces?

Sri Chinmoy: Hostile forces are constantly trying to attack human beings. Suppose I am looking at someone with all my love and affection and you are looking at me. If jealousy attacks you and enters into your mind, you will think, "How is it that he is not looking at me like that?" Immediately your attention is caught by this wrong thought, which we call jealousy. What is jealousy? It is nothing other than a hostile force in the form of a thought. Your senses allow these hostile forces to enter. With your eyes you see that I am looking at him. Immediately your mind opens its door to the thought that I am partial, that I am fond of him and not of you. Once you allow this hostile force to enter into you, your meditation will be ruined. What can you do about that hostile force? Try to feel your oneness with the other person. He is your spiritual brother. His goal and your goal are the same.

There are various kinds of hostile forces that have the form of evil thoughts. If you want something from somebody and he does not give you what you want, what do you do? You allow undivine thoughts to enter into your mind and you tell them, "Go and fight." These thoughts are like soldiers. They go out and attack the person from whom you expected something.

Your mind is your door. You have the authority to open the door or keep it closed. In your house you allow only your friends to enter, and not your enemies. So when thoughts come to your mental door, allow only good thoughts, divine thoughts, to enter. If you allow bad thoughts to enter your mind, they will destroy your aspiration and ruin your spiritual life. When a thought enters into you, either it is from a divine world or it is from an undivine world. If your thoughts are in any way disturbing your meditation, that means they are undivine thoughts. These can be either subtle or obvious hostile forces. Or when a thought comes and tries to possess you or make you possess it, that is a hostile force. But when a thought enters into your mind and you feel that you are expanding, you can know that it is a divine thought.

If you see a garden, you are consciously delighted with its outer beauty and inner beauty. But you are not bound by the garden. It is not capturing you and you are not trying to bind it. While you are looking at the garden you are feeling that the fragrance of the flowers is spreading all around you. That is what a divine thought is like. So whenever a thought wants to enter into you, first see whether that thought is going to bind you or whether it is going to enlarge you or be enlarged by you. The thought that can bind you or be bound by you is an undivine thought, a hostile force. The thought that can expand you, and that you can expand with your aspiring consciousness, is a divine thought.

Question: What is the best way to prevent wrong thoughts from attacking us?

Sri Chinmoy: The thoughts that we have to control are the thoughts that are not productive, the thoughts that are damaging, the thoughts that are destructive, the thoughts that are silly, the thoughts that are negative. These thoughts can come from outside and enter into us; or they may already be inside us and merely come forward. The thoughts that come from outside are easier to control than the thoughts that are already inside. If an undivine thought comes from outside, we have to feel that we have a shield all around us or right in front of us as a protection, especially in front of the forehead. If we feel that our forehead is something vulnerable, delicate, exposed, then we will always be a victim to wrong thoughts. But the moment we consciously make ourselves feel that this forehead is a shield, a solid wall, then wrong thoughts cannot come in. We have to make ourselves feel consciously that we are protected by a solid wall or a fort with many soldiers inside. We have to be constantly vigilant and, when an attack of wrong forces comes, we have to know that we have stronger soldiers inside us. The strongest soldiers are our purity and sincerity, our aspiration, our eagerness for God. These divine soldiers inside us will be on their guard the moment a wrong thought comes and will serve as bodyguards to us.

The thoughts that are already inside us creating problems are more difficult to throw out, but we can do it. We can do it through extension of our consciousness. We have a body and inside this body are wrong forces that have taken the form of thoughts. What we have to do is extend our physical consciousness through conscious effort and aspiration, as we extend an elastic band, until we feel that our whole body is extended to Infinity and has become just a white sheet of infinitely extended consciousness. If we can do this, we will see that our consciousness is all purity. Each pure thought, each pure drop of consciousness, is like poison to impurity or to wrong thoughts in us. We are afraid of impure thoughts, but impure thoughts are more afraid of our purity. What often happens to us is that we identify ourselves with our impure thoughts and not with our pure thoughts. But the moment our physical existence can identify with purity, when we can say, "This pure thought represents me," then impurity inside us immediately dies. Wrong thoughts are inside us just because we identify ourselves with these thoughts. If we identify with something else, immediately they have to leave us.

Question: What exercise is good to chase away bad thoughts?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all let us try to know what is the ultimate effect of one bad thought. If we only use the term bad thoughts, undivine thoughts, impure thoughts, that is not enough. What we must remember is that each of these words signifies one idea, and that is 'bondage'. Bad thoughts, undivine thoughts, ultimately are going to do only one thing: they are going to bind us. But divine thoughts will expand us.

You all know what purity is. If you can repeat the word 'purity' soulfully just a hundred times daily, even before you get out of bed, purity will begin to dawn in your life and in your mind. When you repeat the word 'purity', try to feel that your mouth is pure, your eyes are pure, your forehead is pure, every part of your body is pure. Each time you utter the word 'purity', concentrate on a part of the body and feel that it is pure. When you have done this a hundred times, you will feel that you are nothing other than purity. You can go one step farther. When you look at a flower, immediately you feel that the flower is very pure. Once you have purified your whole existence, try to feel that you are nothing but the tiniest flower. When you feel that you have become that flower, if you are an aspirant, place it on your altar as an offering to God. You have been crying for purity, and God has given it to you, so in gratitude you will place yourself at the Feet of God.

Question: I would like to know how to overcome negative thinking, both during meditation and during my ordinary daily activities.

Sri Chinmoy: The very nature of negative thoughts is to steal, consciously and deliberately, the wealth that we have, our divine Joy, divine Peace, divine Light and divine Love. These are our treasures, but doubt, fear and negativity are real thieves. Sometimes a thief will enter into our apartment and steal things, but only because we are neglectful and allow this to happen. In the spiritual life, when we have a kind of relaxation and are not constantly vigilant, this happens. We may be vigilant for ten minutes a day during our meditation, but the rest of the day we are totally careless. When we enter into our daily activities we do not remember to guard our thoughts. At that time we are no different from the ordinary people all around us who never meditate.

You can throw doubts and negative thoughts aside if you can constantly remember your meditation. After you have stopped meditating you must try to remember these few minutes with utmost joy, affection and concern. You must cherish them as an object of adoration. During all of your ordinary activities try to remember your soulful meditation and do not forget the necessity of retaining a spiritual consciousness or spiritual thoughts. Do not allow your mind to sink to a low level. If you can maintain pure thoughts, divine thoughts, when you are not meditating, you will have additional strength when you do meditate.

Any time doubt and negative thoughts come, you have to stop them immediately with your divine thoughts. In this way you will be able to conquer your negative thoughts. If your thoughts are pure during the entire day, then when you meditate, your mind will already be pure. But if you allow your thoughts to roam in the world of ignorance and impurity for fourteen or sixteen hours a day, how can you expect your thoughts to be pure at the time of your meditation?

Question: How do we illumine depression?

Sri Chinmoy: Bring the Light within you to the fore. When you meditate on Light, Light comes either from above or from inside the heart and with it come divine Joy and Peace.

Question: What part does the mind play in transcending desires and passions?

Sri Chinmoy: To be absolutely frank, the mind never wants to conquer desires or transcend desires. The mind is already the storehouse of all kinds of desires and the door of the mind is always wide open to new desires. If you want to conquer desires, you have to use your aspiration and enter into your soul. If you feel that the mind is going to aspire, then you are mistaken. Concentrate on your heart and from the heart try to enter into the soul. Try to identify yourself with your heart first and your heart will take you to your soul. Then the abundant, effulgent light that abounds in the soul will spontaneously flow from the soul to the heart and from the heart to the mind.

When the mind is illumined by this light, the mind will lose all interest in earthly desires. Only by bringing the light of the soul through the heart into the mind will you be able to free the mind from desires.

You need to go beyond the mind, which is most difficult, or to pay all attention to your aspiring heart. The aspiring heart is not the heart which is close to the vital region. The vital is near the navel. The aspiring heart is located higher up, in the centre of the chest. If you cannot raise your consciousness from there to the real heart, you will constantly be a victim of desires.

Question: Why does the mind not want to conquer desires?

Sri Chinmoy: Because the physical mind is engrossed in the physical consciousness. It is constantly doubting itself and others and creating confusion and uncertainty for itself. Unless and until the mind gets light from the heart, it remains in the darkness of human bondage and limitation. This is, unfortunately, the nature of the human mind.

Question: How can I purify my mind?

Sri Chinmoy: Every day try to think of your mind as an empty vessel. When you deal with the mind, if the mind is empty, that means already you have made considerable progress. You have emptied out ignorance, worry, imperfection, limitation and all undivine things. Now what will you do? You will fill this empty vessel with joy, love, purity and all divine qualities.

You want to purify your mind. You will find abundant purity inside the heart and the soul. It is very difficult for people to feel the soul, but it is not difficult to feel the presence of the heart. When you can feel the presence of your heart, you have again made progress. Then, every day meditate on the heart, trying to feel that this heart is composed of nothing but purity. Once you feel absolutely sure that your heart is composed of purity, then every day take a little bit of purity and pour it into the empty vessel that is your mind.

Another thing you can do is think of your mind as an empty basket. Try to feel inside your heart a blossoming tree of purity. Every day pluck one purity-flower from the heart-tree and put it inside the mind-basket.

Gradually the basket will be filled to the brim, and the mind will be filled with the fragrance of innumerable purity-flowers.

Question: How can we keep the mind pure when we are not concentrating or meditating?

Sri Chinmoy: The best thing you can do is learn a few spiritual songs and sing them to yourself in silence while you are working or driving your car or doing anything that does not require mental concentration. While you are chanting in silence, your mind is being purified because your soul is coming forward.

When you chant or sing, try to feel that the Supreme is listening. Otherwise, the chant will become a mere mechanical habit. So feel that there is a listener — not a human listener, but the Supreme Himself — listening inside your heart. When you feel that you have a divine listener, you will get more inspiration; you will be surcharged with boundless inspiration and endless inner joy. When you feel the presence of the Supreme inside your heart, He will bless you with utmost joy and pride. He will do everything to transform, purify, illumine and liberate your mind.

Question: What is the most effective way to get rid of wrong identification with the body, mind or senses?

Sri Chinmoy: When we touch water, what happens? We feel the consciousness of water. When we touch fire, we feel the consciousness of fire and burn ourselves. Something pure or divine can also give us its own consciousness. We know that the soul is absolutely pure, absolutely divine, but we feel that it is a tremendous task to find and enter into the soul. But we have to know that we also have a heart. Next to the soul in purity and divinity is the heart. The heart is infinitely purer than the mind or the vital or the body. So let us try to identify ourselves with that particular part of our being that will offer us purity. When we pray, when we meditate, we must try to identify with the heart, which is crying for truth, for light, for beauty. Let us identify with the heart; let us not identify with the body, vital and the mind, as we are doing now.

Before you do something, no matter what it is, please try to identify yourself with the heart, which has purity, which has love, which has the feeling of divine oneness. The heart will give you its own vibration, its own consciousness. If you can touch the heart with your prayer and meditation, you are bound to be freed from the body-consciousness, You will feel only the consciousness of something infinite, something eternal, something immortal, something divine.

Part IV — Higher realms of mind

"The mind is not ignorance, but inside the mind ignorance lives.
The heart is not light, but inside the heart light lives.
The mind identifies itself with ignorance and becomes the ignorance-sea.
The heart identifies itself with light and becomes the light-sky."
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Question: Can you explain to me what the difference is between the soul and the mind?

Sri Chinmoy: They are entirely different. The mind is attached to the physical consciousness and is extremely limited. The soul is a divine spark which is always one with Divinity. The mind is impure and unlit. The soul is all light; it can never be impure. When we live in the mind, our mind dominates us. When we live in the soul, it does not impose but only guides us. The mind makes us feel what we are not. The soul makes us feel what we are. The mind stays with us for only one incarnation, but we have the same soul in every incarnation.

Question: Would you please say something about the divine mind?

Sri Chinmoy: Animals have souls and human beings have souls, but the soul of an animal is scarcely comparable to the soul of a human being. Human souls are infinitely more complex and more elevated in terms of evolution. Similarly, the human mind can hardly be compared with the divine mind, although there are points of similarity. When contact with the divine mind is established, such as when a realised spiritual Master answers questions, the error, confusion and ignorance of the human mind can be abolished.

The divine mind is never disturbed by anything. When we are attentive with the physical mind, everything other than what we are concentrating on is a disturbance. The tick of a clock, the noise of traffic, a radio or television playing are all disturbances to the physical mind. But when a person is in the divine mind, all the noises of the world merge with the cosmic Sound or the cosmic Silence, and neither noise nor anything else can be a disturbance. The divine mind is never disturbed by anything, for it is neither limited nor separative. But the physical mind is constantly being disturbed and distracted because its capacity is extremely limited.

Question: Is it possible for anyone to live in vast expansion of mind, or is this only possible for a realised soul?

Sri Chinmoy: An aspirant can experience vast expansion of mind for a few minutes when he is in a very high, deep meditation. But only the realised soul can have this vast expanse of the mind constantly. We are making a mistake, however, when we use the words 'expansion of mind'. When the mind expands into vastness, there is no mind, there is no form. In the mind there is always limitation. When we experience the vast expanse, at that time we have gone beyond the domain of the mind. When we go beyond the mind we feel that the mind has expanded, but we have actually entered into the expansion of our soul's peace. We feel we are experiencing the expansion of the mind, but it is the transcendence of the mind that we are experiencing.

Only the realised soul can enter into the vast expanse of Light, Consciousness, Peace and Bliss and stay there indefinitely or permanently. For the ordinary aspirant or seeker, this is not possible. An advanced student can remain there for ten or fifteen minutes at most. But again I wish to say this is not the expansion of the mind, but an experience of something far beyond the mind. It is only when we come back from the highest level of Consciousness that we try to understand everything with the help of the mind. That is because right now the mind is the highest part of our ordinary human consciousness. When we want to expand our consciousness, our physical reality, we have to enter into the soul. The soul, not the mind, has the power to expand our consciousness.

Question: How can we learn to feel that we are the soul and not the mind or the body?

Sri Chinmoy: In India there was a great spiritual Master named Sri Ramana Maharshi. He used to compare the body to a banana leaf. In India, especially in the Himalayas, on festive occasions we eat our meal on a banana leaf and after we have eaten we throw away the leaf. Sri Ramana Maharshi used to say that the soul utilises the body in this way, leaving the body at its choice hour and discarding it as a now-useless instrument. It is the soul that has the eternal connection with the Supreme, and not the mind or the body.

In order to realise that you are not the mind, that you are the soul, first you have to go beyond the mind. There are two ways to do this. One is to go up through the various levels of the mind and then pass beyond. The other process is to bring down Light from the higher planes into the mind. When the higher Light descends into the mind, at that time the mind does not remain an obstacle to our inner realisation of our conscious oneness with our soul's existence.

If you want to feel that you are the soul and not the mind, you can do so through contemplation or through intense faith. If you can meditate or concentrate on the spiritual centre called sahasrara, you can learn to feel that you are the soul and not the body. This centre is at the top of the head. If you can concentrate there successfully, you will see your limited physical consciousness slowly and steadily going out of your physical body. At that time, the physical mind which is binding you will also leave you. Then what you will have within, without and around you will be the soul. You will feel at that time that you are the soul and not the body or mind.

Another way to go beyond the mind is to concentrate on the third eye, the eye of vision. If you can focus all your attention there, you will have flashes of intuition which will enable you to see beyond the mind. You can also concentrate on the heart. If you can concentrate there properly and soulfully, the inner flame which is aspiration will climb up from the heart centre to the throat centre, then to the third eye, and finally to sahasrara, the thousand-petalled lotus at the crown of the head. When this spiritual centre is fully opened, automatically you go beyond the mind.

It is usually difficult to concentrate on the third eye, because there you do not get immediate joy or a sense of fulfilment. But if you concentrate on the heart, you will feel love, peace, fulfilment and boundless joy. You may concentrate or meditate on the third eye for about six months and feel the whole time that you are walking in a barren desert. If you are prepared to walk on a barren desert and continue and continue in spite of the frustration, then you can try it. But if you concentrate on the heart, on the day that you sincerely and soulfully start, you will get a sense of joy, peace and accomplishment.

Question: How can one have confidence in flashes of intuition?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know your own standard of spiritual light. While walking in the street, or while doing anything, you can have a flash of intuition. But you have to know on which plane your consciousness is at that time. You have to know your own standard and see from what level the so-called intuition has come.

Intuition and intuitive knowledge cannot come from the conscious mind or from the subconscious plane. Intuition is not bound by the mind; it is something beyond the mind. The realm of intuition is far above the mind's region. Whenever you get a flash or a truth from the intuitive plane, it does not need any support from the mental, vital, or physical plane for manifestation. It is divinely individual and supremely universal. And it has the power to awaken and illumine the seeker.

Question: When I am meditating, some ideas come to my mind. How do I know if they are intuition or just wishful thinking on my part?

Sri Chinmoy: If an idea is wishful thinking, the next moment or in a few hours a serious doubt or a kind of fear will come to contradict the idea. Wishful thinking does not carry with it the certainty of Reality, whereas intuition does. The power of intuition within you may not function at your command, but it will guide you occasionally.

Question: How can we know the difference between an imaginary thought and a real thought?

Sri Chinmoy: A thought that is followed by joy or sorrow is an imaginary thought. But a thought that we feel deep inside our heart is a real thought. It does not need the assistance of anything to make us feel its reality. Real thoughts come from a plane of their own, a world of their own. This world is a realm of pure thought. If you can touch this world you can bring real thoughts down to yourself. Unlike an imaginary thought, a real thought is self-evident and self-sufficient. A real thought is alive and dynamic like a river. When we feel any idea or thought deep inside our heart, we can rest assured that it is a real thought. In the mind, also, we can sometimes get a real thought. If the thought comes from the mind and enters immediately into the heart, then it is a real thought.

We can create real thought by using the power of our soul's will. If we concentrate on the heart and go deep within, and if we can knock at the door of the soul, from there we will get only real thoughts, real ideas, real messages. If we can open the door of the soul, immediately the soul's will will automatically be transformed or channeled into thoughts which are absolutely real. A real thought always has power, assurance and a sense of accomplishment, whereas an imaginary thought will not have any of these.

Question: Can we become what we think?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, not just by thinking, but by exercising our inner will-power. If I want to become the richest man on earth, I cannot do it just by thinking about it. I have to concentrate and bring forward my soul's will-power. The more I can identify with my soul's will-power, the easier it will be for me to manifest whatever I want to manifest. First we have to discover our inner will-power, and then we have to exercise it. If we do this, we can become whatever we want to be.

Question: Can we reach God through the intellect alone?

Sri Chinmoy: Through the intellect alone you can never, never, never reach and know the attributes of God. It is impossible! God's true Existence, true Height, true Form are millions and billions of miles away from the intellectual domain. At the same time, you cannot say that God does not exist in the intellect. God is omnipresent. But God's highest Height, deepest Depth, all-pervading Consciousness, one can never, never realise through the intellect.

If we are totally without intellect, we remain in the animal world. When we enter into the human world, intellect does help us. For an ordinary human being, the mind is the highest stage in the process of evolution. The more one is mentally awakened and fertile, the greater is his capacity to achieve and to fulfil himself here on earth. But we must come to feel the limitations of the intellect. By living in the mental world we will find no poise, no peace — only two naked swords fighting against each other. My intellect will fight against your intellect. But these swords can never cut asunder the thick veil of ignorance.

Question: Does a God-realised person use the mind and the ego?

Sri Chinmoy: He does not use the mind as an ordinary human being knows it. When realisation takes place, the seeker's mind automatically becomes illumined. This illumined mind is not the same as the physical mind or intellectual mind, which are unconscious, unlit and confused. The realised soul does not use the mind at all when he has to do something serious or sublime, and when he does use the mind, it is the illumined mind that he uses.

When an ordinary man uses the term 'I', he is referring to his ego, his little self. But a God-realised soul regards himself either as the most faithful servant of the Supreme, or as entirely one with the Supreme. He has no ego. An instrument can never be as important as the doer. A God-realised soul knows that he is at one with the Divine, and he says 'I' merely because it is the simplest manner of expression in this world of duality and multiplicity.

Some Indian Yogis sometimes advocate using a word which means 'Thou'. One great Indian saint always used to say about himself, "He did it", "He ate it." 'He', in this case, meant the Brahman, the Absolute. But these verbal distinctions are not really necessary. One who has realisation knows that when he says 'I', he is not referring to the ego. Rather, through him the self-revealing Truth is being expressed at the Will of God.

Editor's introduction

The spiritual heart and the physical mind are like mother and child. The mother seeks to perfect and illumine her child and one day it happens that the child becomes an adult. In this book, which is the first of a two-volume series, Sri Chinmoy answers questions mainly about the ordinary human mind and its links with the higher minds — with the intuitive mind, the overmind and the highest mental plane where creation itself begins. In the second volume of this series, Sri Chinmoy focuses on the spiritual heart.

The mind and the heart are not just concepts; they are actual realities that exist beyond the physical plane, with a life and consciousness of their own. As an illumined Yogi with free access to these planes, Sri chinmoy is able to take the reader on a most unusual journey through these worlds. This is not a book of theory or philosophy. Rather it is more like an inner travelogue, a journey beyond the discoveries of twentieth-century psychology into the veritable living core of the human psyche.

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