Mind-confusion and heart-illumination, part 2
The mind and the heart in meditation
God's Light in the fulness of time.
O heart's purity, you are bound to realise
God's Love at His choice Hour."
Question: What is the difference between thinking and meditating, or are they the same?Sri Chinmoy: Thinking and meditating are absolutely different things — totally, radically different things. Thinking and meditating are like north pole and south pole. The thinking mind can never free you from the fetters of ignorance. An ignorant person does not know how to increase his thinking; he has only a few thoughts. An intellectual man goes on thinking twenty-four hours a day. But what does either one accomplish in the long run? In the long run they accomplish nothing. One is satisfied with only a few thoughts, and the other is satisfied with thousands of thoughts and masses of mental information. But there they both end. Neither one enters into anything higher.
When we meditate we do not think at all. The aim of meditation is to free ourselves from all thought. In the beginning, if undivine thoughts or hostile thoughts enter into us, we reject them. Gradually a time will come when only divine thoughts, divine ideas will be written on the tablet of our heart. But when we meditate we should reject thought as much as possible. Thought is like a dot on the blackboard. Whether it is good or bad, it is there. Only if there is no thought whatsoever can we grow into Reality. In the really highest meditation, there will be no thoughts at all. The mind is calm, tranquil, quiet. In profound meditation, in deep meditation, thoughts can come in, but not in the highest, deepest meditation. At that time there is no form, there is no mind at all.
Thinking has nothing to do with spiritual life or meditation. We have to go beyond thinking. How do we go beyond thinking? Through aspiration and meditation. The moment we start thinking we play with limitation and bondage. Our thoughts, no matter how sweet or delicious at the moment, are painful, venomous and destructive in the long run because they limit and bind us. In the thinking mind there is no reality. Each moment we are building a castle, and the following moment we are breaking it. When we go beyond thinking with the help of our aspiration and meditation, we can see and enjoy God's Reality and God's Vision together.
Question: In meditation sometimes the mind stops functioning and there seems to be little information coming.Sri Chinmoy: In meditation we should not give importance to the mind. If there is no information coming, it is good. Real meditation is not information; it is identification. The mind tries to create oneness by grabbing and capturing you and this may easily make you revolt. But the heart creates oneness through identification. The mind tries to possess. The heart just expands and, while expanding, it embraces. With the mind, we only divide ourselves. The mind may try to do something and immediately the body or the vital may try to prevent it. But if the heart wants to do something, no matter how difficult, it will be done. This is because when the mind gets no satisfaction when it tries something, it just says that there is no reality there and gives up. But when the heart does not get satisfaction, it feels that it has not done the thing properly. So it tries again, and continues trying until satisfaction dawns at last.
Question: What technique would you recommend for stilling the mind, so that one will be able to concentrate?Sri Chinmoy: To still the mind for concentration, you have to use your will-power. If your concentration is so dispersed that you cannot bring the mind under control at all, there is a particular exercise which you can practise.
Make a small black dot on the wall and stand six or seven feet away, focusing your attention on it. Try not to see the white wall around you. See only the black dot. After five or ten minutes try to enter into that dot and feel that you have become the dot itself. You are not something else or someone else. You are inside that dot. Finally, pierce the wall with your focus of concentration. Go right through the wall and beyond it. From that point, look back and try to see your original self, the person who was standing in front of the wall looking at the dot. Once you are successful with this exercise, the mind can never act like a naughty child. At that time, the mind becomes a most faithful servant of the soul and concentration becomes quite easy.
Question: How do you meditate?Sri Chinmoy: You are asking a most complicated question. If you have no teacher you have to start by reading spiritual books written by real Masters. This will give you inspiration. Then please practise concentrating on your heart. Nobody can describe the way to meditate, for each person's soul has its own way of meditating. You have to go deep within to find your own way. If you cannot go deep within to get your own meditation, or if you are not satisfied with the meditation that you feel you have received from within, you have to feel the necessity of throwing the mind into the heart. The unillumined human mind has to be thrown into the heart's sea of divine love. If you really want to meditate, learn to concentrate in the heart and not in the mind.
I am not saying that the mind is bad. Far from it. But the mind is limited while the heart, which is very close to the soul, is unlimited. At most what you can get from the mind is inspiration. But inspiration itself is limited. But when you meditate on the heart, inspiration turns into aspiration. Aspiration does not come from the mind. No! It comes directly from your heart. The heart can give you everything. Aspiration is the harbinger of realisation or illumination. In aspiration is the seed of realisation. Aspiration comes from the heart because the illumination of the soul is always there. And when you meditate on the heart, not only do you get aspiration, but you also get the fulfilment of that aspiration: the soul's infinite Peace, Light and Bliss.
Question: I am a beginner in meditation, and I find that I am constantly troubled by thoughts. How can I have a successful meditation?Sri Chinmoy: When starting your journey, try to allow only divine thoughts to enter into you, and not undivine thoughts. It is better not to have any thoughts at all during meditation, but it is next to impossible for the beginner to have a mind without thoughts. But this beginner is learning; he will not always be a beginner.
How can you have a successful meditation? Try to cry inwardly, cry for liberation. When this cry comes from deep within, the Inner Pilot, God, will teach you how to meditate. The secret of meditation is aspiration. Aspiration is the inner cry. If you cry from deep within you will get what you need.
Question: When I meditate, I have to concentrate so hard on keeping my mind still that I cannot contact my inner self.Sri Chinmoy: You do not know it, but you are doing the right thing. Right now, for you the best thing is concentration. When you are trying to make your mind calm and quiet, you are concentrating. If you can concentrate on quieting your mind that is a wonderful thing. When you are successful in chasing away all the thoughts that disturb your mind, sooner or later your inner self will automatically come to the fore and stand right in front of you like the blazing sun clearing away the veil of clouds. Right now, the inner sun is overcast with clouds: thoughts, ideas, doubts, fears and so forth. When you can chase them away, you will see that the inner self is shining bright and radiant right in front of you. Please continue with what you are doing. It is a very good thing, and it will enable you to go farther, higher and deeper. Meditation will automatically be done by your inner being. Only try to concentrate regularly, faithfully and devotedly each day. Your inner self will be most pleased with you, and will give you what you want from God.
Question: Sometimes when I meditate I cannot control my mind. What should I do in such a case?Sri Chinmoy: Take the mind as a monkey or an unruly child. The very nature of the monkey is to bite you. But you can either pay no attention to it, or if it continues to bother you, threaten and frighten it. But always reject it. As many times as it comes to you, chase it away or deliberately place your conscious awareness on something else. If you allow it to distract you, it will gain strength and continue to torture you.
During your meditation your mind may resist and obstruct you, but you have to feel that you have something superior to the mind, and that is your heart. Try to get help from your heart. If you feel that the help you are getting from the heart is not enough, then go to the highest, that is, to the soul. Feel that you have and are nothing but the soul. Sincerely repeat, "I am the soul, I am the soul." If you can repeat this soulfully for five minutes, the resistance of the physical mind will go away and only the heart and soul will exist for you.
Question: Isn't it necessary to control the mind first in order to receive divine Light?Sri Chinmoy: If we want to control the mind with our will, it will be like asking a monkey not to bother us. The very nature of the monkey is to bite and pinch us. It is impossible to stop it. But we can bring to the fore the light of the soul, which has unlimited power. In the outer world, when somebody is superior in strength or power, he tries to punish the one that is bothering him. But in the spiritual life, the light of the soul and the light of the heart will not punish the mind. On the contrary, the light will act like a most affectionate mother. It will come forward and try to transform the mind. It will feel, as a mother does, that the imperfection of the child is its own imperfection. The heart will feel the obscurity, impurity and darkness of the mind as its own limitations and, at the same time, it will be in a position to offer its light — the light it gets from the soul — to the mind. We have to use the superior power, the light of the soul, to control the mind. If we try to control the mind before bringing down divine Light, we will sadly fail.
Question: I have read about different methods of clearing my mind of outside thoughts, but it seems that the harder I try, the more difficult it becomes. As I understand it, if you are meditating properly, light or knowledge will come from outside sources if your mind is completely clear. Is this true?Sri Chinmoy: Light and knowledge do not come from outside sources. They come from within. You have been focusing your attention on a particular object, and this is concentration. Meditation is something else. When you meditate you focus on Infinity, on something very vast, deep, sublime. You do not see an object; you try to grow into an infinite expansion. In concentration you focus on something small, but in meditation you throw yourself into something very vast.
You say that it is extremely difficult for you to meditate. That is because you are trying to meditate inside your mind. The very nature of the mind is to welcome ideas — good, bad, divine, undivine. But the nature of the heart is to try to become one with the ultimate Goal. To clear the mind is very hard, it is true. So the best thing you can do is try to bring the heart forward and illumine the mind with the light of the heart. It is always advisable to meditate in the heart. The love and oneness of the heart and soul will unite you with Divinity. When you are well established in the heart, on the strength of your aspiration, then you can enter into the physical mind to transform it. Otherwise, it is almost impossible to deal with the mind and go beyond the mind. Throw all the possessions of the mind into the heart. When you do this consciously, the heart is able to bring the light from the soul into the mind, or the soul will consciously offer light to the mind. Then the mind can be transformed and illumined. Always try to throw the mind into the heart. Then your meditation can be meaningful and fruitful every day. Otherwise, you can meditate for years and years and have no satisfaction, because the mind will never stop disturbing you. So please meditate on the heart and try to identify yourself spontaneously with something vast, something sublime, inside you. Once your identification is strong it will be extremely easy for you to meditate.
Question: I try to keep my mind from wandering so much during meditation, but I have very little success.Sri Chinmoy: You are not exercising the capacity of your heart; you are only exercising the mind's power. Very often when I am concentrating on you, I see that your mind is rotating like a wheel. When the mind rotates, it is very difficult for the Supreme to act in your mind. But when your heart aspires even for a second, the Supreme opens up the door.
A few months ago when I was going to Washington by bus, three times while I was concentrating on you I saw your heart fully open. You were receiving all the blessings of the Supreme — Light, Peace, Bliss. But soon after that, you started trying to aspire with your mind and, the moment you started, you disappeared, you totally vanished from my consciousness.
From now on, please try to feel that you do not have a mind at all. When you feel that you do not have a mind, it does not mean that you are a brute or an animal. No! The mind is not necessary because you have a superior weapon called the heart. If you can stay in your heart even for five minutes, even if you do not pray or meditate, your consciousness will be raised. The heart is your abode, not the mind. If you stay in the heart, you will feel peace, light and all that you need.
The heart is like a fountain of peace, joy and love. You can sit at the base of the fountain and just enjoy. There is no need to pray to the Supreme to give you this, that, or anything else, for you will get all the things that you want and infinitely more from this fountain. But you will get them in the way the Supreme wants to give them. If you can please the Supreme by staying always in the presence of this fountain you will see that your desires are fulfilled most luminously. They may be the same desires you have always had, but they will be touched on a very high level with luminosity. Before they are fulfilled, the Supreme will transform each desire into aspiration with His Light.
When God transforms your desires into aspiration, you will see that you have become that aspiration itself. You can have that aspiration only in the heart and the soul, and not in the mind. If you go beyond the mind, you can also have the same aspiration. But you will never have it if you stay in the mind. The mind is really a dense jungle for most of us. Only in the heart will we find the sea of Peace and Bliss, and from there Light radiates.
I hope all of you meditate at home. Even if you do not get immediate results, please do not be disheartened or discouraged. To pass our school examinations, we have to study for years. But meditation is the examination of our body, vital, mind, heart and soul. When we pass this examination we have learned everything, whereas for the school examination we need only a very limited knowledge. For this vast inner knowledge we have to study. Our study is our sincere prayer and meditation. Sincerity plays a great part. If we meditate with intense sincerity even for two minutes, that is better than sitting in so-called meditation for two hours and thinking of our children, our friends, our enemies, our jobs and what not.
In India there are village women who say, "We meditate for six or eight hours every day. But God is so unkind, He never listens to our prayers." But what do they really do? They start meditation, and then they begin thinking of their cow. The cow is grazing and they wonder if it is entering into somebody else's territory and if it will be beaten. Their minds are roaming in the world of imagination, and then they say, "I have meditated for so many hours." But how many times did they even think of God, let alone feel God's Presence in their heart? The whole time they were uttering God's Name, but they were thinking of their cow or of some other trivial thing. What kind of result can anyone expect from this kind of meditation?
If we can remain for five minutes without any thought in our minds, divine or undivine, good or bad, then we immediately get the reflection of our soul. The soul represents our divine perfection both in our outer and in our inner life. Through pure meditation without thought, we become able to reflect our inner divinity.
Question: What happens if wrong thoughts enter into your mind during meditation?Sri Chinmoy: The moment a thought enters into your mind, especially any undivine thought or wrong thought, your aspiration must cut it to pieces, because during meditation everything is very intense. While you are talking or engaging in your ordinary earthly activities you can have any kind of thought, for your thoughts are not intense at those times. But during your meditation, if any undivine thought comes, the power of your meditation enlarges and intensifies it, and it ruins part of your subtle and spiritual being. If a good thought comes, you can try to enlarge it as much as possible. If the good thoughts are on a lower level, try to lift them up to a higher level. But if you have a bad thought, just cut it off, kill it.
Question: When I am meditating I am all peace, but since I still don't have full control of my thoughts, sometimes a negative thought comes. I am afraid the wrong thought may use the power of my meditation for doing some wrong.Sri Chinmoy: When a wrong thought comes to you during your meditation, try to feel that this thought is as insignificant as an ant. Wrong thoughts cannot utilise your power if you feel that the spiritual power you have received from your meditation is infinitely stronger than the power of the wrong thoughts. Sometimes when wrong thoughts come during meditation, a person feels that the strength of the wrong thought is so powerful that even if he has meditated for an hour, or two or three hours, it is all useless. One wrong thought, one ordinary thought comes in and he feels lost. For two hours he has meditated most sincerely and divinely, but he gives more importance to one wrong thought than to his entire meditation. This is foolish. The seeker should not give any importance to wrong thoughts at that particular moment.
The moment we can stop paying attention to wrong thoughts, the wrong thoughts have no power. But what happens is that we are terribly afraid of them. We dwell in them and think they are going to ruin us. Just by thinking about them, just by being afraid of them, we give them power. So do not be afraid. You are the lord in your house. You are meditating inside your own consciousness, and somebody is knocking at your door. If you do not pay any attention, how will he dare to come in? When you are meditating you simply must not open the door to these wrong thoughts. And in case they have entered before you were aware, what do you do? Again, you do not pay any attention to them.
Wrong thoughts are terribly jealous of divine thoughts. Wrong thoughts come to attack us and take away our divine feelings, divine thoughts, divine power. But when we pay all our attention to divine thoughts, divine feelings, divine power, in many cases the wrong thoughts just go away. "We have no place here. He does not care for us," they think. Wrong thoughts also have their pride. They do not care for you when you do not care for them.
I wish to say something more with regard to this question. Many years ago, a disciple asked his Guru what to do when emotional thoughts, thoughts from his lower vital, sex thoughts, entered into him during his highest meditation. The Master said, "Immediately stop meditating. When wrong thoughts come during intense meditation, they will receive intensity from your meditation and become very powerful forces. So it is better to leave meditation at that time."
One can try this approach if one wants to. But I wish to advise my disciples of another approach. During meditation, when wrong thoughts come to you, you can immediately try to recollect one of your sweetest or highest divine experiences. Enter into your own experience which you had two days ago or twenty years ago, and try to bring it into your mental consciousness. You will see that while you are fully immersed in your own experience, the vital or emotional thought from the lower vital plane is bound to leave you because the highest, deepest, purest ecstasy will be in your consciousness. Divine Delight is infinitely more powerful than the power of pleasure. When you invite or invoke or try to recollect one of your divine experiences, the inner delight or ecstasy comes to the fore. Then you drink in the nectar-delight of your own spiritual experience, which is infinitely stronger than your lower vital forces. In this way you can solve the problem without leaving your meditation.
Question: I feel pressure in my forehead when I meditate. Can you tell me what causes this?Sri Chinmoy: When you get pressure in your forehead or in your head, please feel that you are not meditating on the right place. You want to play a game, but unfortunately you have gone to the wrong playing field. When you feel pressure in your head or in your forehead during meditation, it means your mind has pulled down Light and Power beyond its capacity. At that time, immediately focus your attention on the heart. There you will feel peace, joy, love, confidence and everything else you need. Each time you feel pressure, consciously shift your attention to the heart. Then try to breathe in slowly and quietly for a few seconds and this tension will disappear.
Question: Often in the morning it takes me quite a while to get started meditating. How does one empty one's heart of negative forces in order to start meditating?Sri Chinmoy: First you should be very sincere with yourself. You have to know whether you are really entering into the heart or into the mind. When your meditation starts early in the morning, either you enter into the heart from the very beginning or you enter into the heart after trying for half an hour or fifteen minutes to meditate in the mind. If you are being disturbed by negative thoughts and negative forces, you can rest assured that you are not in the heart, but in the mind. The spiritual heart is very pure. Wrong forces will not come there.
Question: Does it matter if you concentrate and meditate on the heart centre or on the third eye?Sri Chinmoy: Yes! For beginners especially, it is always advisable to meditate on the heart centre. In fact, even if one is advanced, one should meditate there because from the heart centre you feel oneness with the Highest, you get joy and become part and parcel of whatever you are meditating on. If you concentrate on the third eye, you may not have the feeling of oneness. You may see Light, but you will feel that it is not yours. First you will feel that you have seen Light, but then you will think that perhaps it was not Light at all but just imagination or hallucination. Doubt may enter into your mind. When you use the heart, however, the joy that you get you immediately feel is yours; the peace that you feel is yours; anything that you feel becomes yours. This is the heart's capacity for oneness.
So it is always advisable to meditate on the heart first. Once you have established your oneness with infinite Peace, Light and Bliss, you will have the capacity to identify yourself with the Vast. Then, when you concentrate on the third eye and see Light, the Light can easily enter into you and become yours. Once you have established your oneness with the Vast in the form of Peace, Light, Bliss or any other divine quality, when you see Light either inside you or around you, you will have the capacity to identify yourself with it and make it your own. After you have established your identity with Peace, Light and Bliss, when you see these things with your third eye, you will have the capacity to bring them into your system. And if they are already inside you, then you will have the capacity to bring them to the fore. So it is always advisable to meditate on the heart centre. The third eye is good, but it may create confusion, so why take the risk?
Question: Why should you concentrate and meditate an the heart instead of an the mind?Sri Chinmoy: Before you concentrate on the heart or anything, just think about the mind for a few minutes instead of allowing the mind to think of something else. Separate yourself from the mind and observe the mind. Observe what it has done for you and see whether you are really satisfied with its capacity. The mind has given you many things, but are these things worth having in the spiritual life or not? In the ordinary human life, the mind is of paramount importance. Without it we would not be able to function properly. But if you enter into the spiritual life you will see that most of what the mind has given you is information and not illumination. There is a great difference between the two. You read books and talk to people and get much information from them. But where is illumination? You can read hundreds of pages or talk to hundreds of people, but you will not get illumination. So when you think of what the mind has given you, think at the same time of the thing that you really need most and you will see that the mind has not fulfilled this need. Since your mind has disappointed you, why should you concentrate there?
Once you are totally dissatisfied with the limited capacity of the mind, it will be possible for you to concentrate on the heart. As long as you have tremendous faith in your mind, the mind that complicates and confuses everything, you will be doomed to disappointment in your meditation. Ordinary people think that complication is wisdom. But spiritual people know that complication is dangerous. God is very simple; Light is very simple. It is in our simplicity and sincerity, not in complexity, that the real Truth abides. Complexity cannot give us anything. Complexity itself is destruction.
If you meditate in the mind, you will be able to meditate for perhaps five minutes, and out of that five minutes, for one minute you may meditate very powerfully. After that you will feel your whole head getting tense. First you get joy and satisfaction, but then you may feel a barren desert. For five minutes you will get something, but if you want to go beyond that, you may feel nothing. If you meditate in the heart, a day will come when you start getting satisfaction. If you meditate in the heart, you are meditating where the soul is. True, the light, the consciousness of the soul permeates the whole body, but there is a specific place where the soul resides most of the time, and that is in the heart. If you want illumination, if your ultimate goal is illumination, you will get that illumination from the soul, which is inside the heart. When you know what you want and where to find it, the sensible thing is to go to that place. Otherwise, it will be like going to the hardware store to get groceries. If you concentrate on the mind you will be disappointed and disheartened. You will not get what you want because you have gone to the wrong place. It is like my situation now. I am here at the United Nations. If someone asks, "Where is Chinmoy?" you can say that I am at the United Nations, or you can say that I am in Conference Room 10. My presence is spiritually pervading the entire United Nations, but my living consciousness is right here in this room. If you come here, I will be able to do more for you than for others who are elsewhere in the building. Similarly, when you focus your concentration in the heart, you get much more inner satisfaction than when you meditate in the mind, because the heart is the seat of the soul. You have to know that the Source and the Reality are in the heart. Reality is everywhere, but the actual manifestation of the Reality has to be in a particular place. Inside the heart is the soul, and if you meditate in the heart, the result is infinitely more fulfilling. But it is difficult for some people to meditate in the heart because they are not used to doing it.
You have to be wise. There is a vast difference between what you can get from the mind and what you can get from the heart. The mind is limited; the heart is unlimited. Deep within us is infinite Peace, Light and Bliss. To get a limited quantity is an easy task. Meditation in the mind can give it to you. But you can get more if you meditate in the heart. Suppose you have the opportunity to work at two places. At one place you will earn two hundred dollars, and at the other place five hundred dollars. If you are wise, you will not waste your time at the first place.
Let us not be satisfied with the things that we get very easily. Let us cry for something which is more difficult to get, but which is infinite and everlasting. If you get something from the mind, tomorrow doubt may come and tell you that it is not real. But once you get something from the heart you will never be able to doubt it or forget it. An experience on the psychic plane can never be erased from the heart.
Question: How does one learn to concentrate on the heart?Sri Chinmoy: If you can concentrate on the tip of your finger, you can also concentrate on your heart. As you concentrate on anything — a picture, a candle, a flame, any material object — so also can you concentrate on the heart. You may close your eyes or look at a wall, but all the time you are thinking of the heart as a dear friend of yours. When this thinking becomes most intense, when it absorbs your entire attention, then you have gone beyond the ordinary way of thinking and entered into concentration. You cannot look physically at your spiritual heart, but you can focus all your attention on it. Then gradually, the power of your concentration enters into the heart and takes you completely out of the realm of the mind.
If you do not have purity in abundant measure, the best thing to do is to invoke purity first, then concentrate on the heart. If the heart is impure, if countless earthly desires are in possession of the heart, then no matter how sincerely you concentrate on the heart you will not be successful in your inner life. Purity plays a most important role in the spiritual life. Purity does not mean having a clean body. Purity is the feeling of having a living shrine deep in the inmost recesses of your heart. When you feel the divine presence of an inner shrine, automatically you are purified. At that time the concentration on the heart will be most effective, and when you can concentrate effectively, you are bound to become conscious of the spiritual heart within you.
When your concentration is good, then try to meditate. Meditation does not have to be in the head. As with concentration, you can also meditate anywhere. You can easily meditate in your heart. Once your meditation has become deep, once you have the capacity to have free access to your spiritual heart, then it will be quite easy for you to reach your spiritual heart.
Question: How does a beginner meditate on the heart?Sri Chinmoy: A beginner has to feel that he is a child, no matter how old he is in earthly age. A child's mind is not developed. When he is twelve or thirteen his mind starts functioning on an intellectual level, but before that he is all heart. Whatever he sees, he feels is his own. He identifies spontaneously. This is what the heart does.
When you feel that you are a child, immediately feel that you are standing in a flower garden. This flower garden is your heart. A child can play in a garden for hours. He will go from this flower to that flower, but he will not leave the garden, because he will get joy from the beauty and fragrance of each flower. Inside you is the garden, and you can stay within it for as long as you want. In this way you can meditate on the heart.
The moment you feel that you are a child, you can meditate on the heart. A child will always have someone to take care of him even if his physical parents are not there. God will have somebody to take care of the child, because He feels that the child is helpless right now. When a child cries, immediately someone comes to help him. But when a grown-up person cries, his cry is not even sincere. When a child cries even for a candy, he is very sincere. At that time his candy is the whole world for him. If you give him a hundred-dollar bill, he will not be satisfied; he will only care for his candy. When you feel you are crying like a child for Peace, Light and Truth, and that only those things will satisfy you, then your cry will be fulfilled.
Question: What does it mean when one says that an aspirant has reached a consciousness above his imagination during meditation? Do you mean that the aspirant is not conscious of that Grace?Sri Chinmoy: He is conscious of the Grace, but he cannot conceive it with his mind. Imagination is in the mind. With the mind, if we think that we are carrying something very deep, very vast and very profound, still that thought of vastness and profundity is next to nothing in comparison with the experience that we have had or will have. When somebody tells a child that something is very big, he immediately thinks of an elephant or of a house. That is his conception of largeness. When we think with our mind, our idea of vastness and profundity is similarly limited. The mind cannot conceive of infinite expanse. It cannot properly receive the impression of infinite expanse. So when the aspirant wants to bring down some divine qualities with his mind, he has to know that the mind cannot even properly conceive of these qualities, let alone bring them down. That is because the conceptions of the human mind are limited, whereas the divine qualities are boundless.
Beyond the mind: reaching the spiritual heart
You sail the uncharted seas of ignorance and reach the Golden Shore of the Beyond."
Question: The mind is in constant turmoil and conflict. Is there ever any conflict in the heart?Sri Chinmoy: There is no conflict within the heart itself, but there is often conflict between the heart and the mind. The real aspiring heart has no will but the will of the soul. It is constantly crying, crying to reach the Highest. The spiritual heart has that kind of aspiration. Until the mind is illumined, the heart will never stop fighting to illumine it. It will cry for light until the mind constantly cries with it. We have to allow the heart to capture the mind and not allow the mind to indulge in doubt or suspicion, which will only delay its own progress.
The vital and the mind are on one side and the heart and soul are on the other side. But the heart and the soul do not like to fight against the vital and the mind all the time, so they allow a compromise and for some time they let the vital and the mind go their own way. But eventually the heart and the soul will not care for any compromise. They also have their strength. Eventually they will fight. They will challenge the vital and mind, saying, "We want your transformation for your own good. No compromise! We have to win." The soul is infinitely more powerful than the mind and the vital and they will have to surrender to the will of the soul.
Question: Why do you tell people to stay in the heart and not in the mind?Sri Chinmoy: There are many reasons why I tell people to stay in the heart and not in the mind. The heart knows how to identify itself with the Highest, with the farthest, with the inmost. In the case of the mind, this is not so. The mind tries to identify itself with an object, with a person, with something limited. But this identification is not pure or complete. When the mind tries to identify, the mind looks at the object with an eye of hesitation, if not actual suspicion. But when the heart wants to identify itself with something or someone, it uses the feeling of love and oneness. When the heart wants to see something, it sees it unreservedly. But when the mind wants to see something, it tries to delay and separate. The heart simplifies; the mind complicates. The mind unconsciously gets pleasure in things that are complicated and confused, but the heart gets joy in things that are simple.
The human, physical, earthbound mind is at our disposal right now. But the higher mind, the overmind, the intuitive mind, the supermind, are not at our command right now. In our day-to-day life we use the earthbound physical mind, which is constantly contradicting itself. Unfortunately, we seldom use the heart, which is all love, all sympathy, all concern, all purity, all harmony, all oneness.
Why do I tell people to pay more attention to the heart and less to the mind? Because the heart expands. The soul represents our illumination and it is inside the heart that the soul abides. In the spiritual life our treasure is the soul. It is only with the help of the soul that we can make the fastest progress in the inner life and we can contact the soul only by meditating on our heart. All paths lead to the Goal, but there is a particular road that will lead us there faster than the other roads. That road is the heart. It is faster, safer and surer than any other road.
We are the possessors of two rooms. One room is known as the heart-room; the other is known as the mind-room. Right now the mind-room is obscure, unlit, impure and unwilling to open to the light. So we have to remain in the heart-room, the room of light, as much as we can. When we feel that our entire being is surcharged with the inner light that is there, then we can enter into the mind-room and illumine it. But if we enter into the mind-room without sufficient light, we will be totally confused because we are entering into a room which is all darkness. We will be caught there and will become victims of the ignorant, undivine and suspicious forces of the mind. This is why I tell my students first to strengthen their inner being by meditating on the heart. The soul's light is available in the heart. If we concentrate on the heart, sooner or later the light of the soul is bound to come to the fore. At that time, we will know that we are in possession of the inner light, and we will be able to use it at our own sweet will. Then we can enter into the mind-room to illumine it. But very often we make the Himalayan blunder of entering into the mind-room just because we see that it is all confusion and darkness. We have to know whether we have the necessary light at our command to illumine darkness. If we do not have the necessary light at our command, we have to enter only into the heart-room. There we can meditate and receive the inner light of the soul until we are inwardly strong. So we should not enter into the mind-room at the very beginning of our spiritual journey. To enter into that room safely we need inner confidence, inner light and inner assurance from the Supreme.
Question: Since you feel that spiritual aspirants should pay more attention to the heart than to the mind, I assume that your path is primarily a path of the heart. Can you please tell me in what ways your path tends to focus the aspirant's attention on the heart?Sri Chinmoy: Love, devotion, surrender: this is our path. Love is the first rung, devotion is the second rung, and surrender is the third and final rung of our spiritual ladder. As you know, the heart is the seat of love. Human love is immediately followed by frustration, but divine love is an expansion of our consciousness. Human love means only one thing: possess and be possessed. Divine love means another thing: illumine and be illumined, liberate and be liberated. When we try to possess others, we are immediately possessed. When we try to illumine and liberate others, we ourselves are illumined and liberated.
In human love we observe a significant thing. When we love someone, we try to spend our precious time with that particular person, or thinking about him. We devote ourselves to the person. In the spiritual life, too, if we really love God, or some spiritual Master, then naturally we will have the inner urge to offer our pure love to him and to devote ourselves to him through our aspiration and self-dedication. Otherwise, what we have is not real love. Even human love freely offers its service to please the loved one. In the spiritual life this self-offering has to be far more intense. We should be ready to give all that we have and all that we are to God, to our spiritual Master, to the path that we are following. This total self-offering is devotion.
But complete liberation comes only with surrender to the Will of the Infinite. By surrendering our finite existence to the Infinite, we become consciously one with the Infinite. We are not entering into a stranger or a foreigner; the Infinite is our own unrealised power. The finite has always been the unfulfilled, unmanifested part of the Infinite. As ordinary human beings we are finite, but as conscious divine instruments we can never be finite, for inside us the glowing Divinity of the Supreme has come to the fore.
We have to have the feeling of true love for the Supreme in us. Then we have to know that only in sincere self-dedication does our love find its expression. But in order to achieve true fulfilment constantly and eternally, we have to see and feel our true oneness with the Absolute. The heart has the secret key to open the door of identification and allow us to see our oneness with God. Once we feel our oneness with the Absolute, we have to make this oneness total, permanent and eternal. For this we need the divine message of surrender. Our implicit, unreserved, inseparable, eternal, unconditional surrender to the Supreme is absolutely necessary for God-realisation. Love is the first necessity. Devotion is the second necessity. Surrender is the third and ultimate necessity. These three steps will take us swiftly, safely and surely to our transcendental Goal.
Question: Is the path of the heart easier than the path of the mind?Sri Chinmoy: There are two roads you can take: one is the mental road and one is the psychic road. The easiest, fastest and most convincing road is the psychic road, the road of the heart. When we feel something, we are more convinced than when we see something. When we see something with our eyes, when we actually approach the thing or when we take a second look, it may look different. But when we really feel something inside the heart, immediately there is certainty. That is because we do not have the capacity of identification with the mind. But with the heart we immediately identify. When the mother hears the cry of the child, immediately she runs to him, because she has become one with the child. In the spiritual life when the child, the aspirant, cries, immediately God comes running.
We call the path of the heart the sunlit path. On this path progress is faster than the fastest, because inside the heart is the soul. The soul is all light. It is the divine messenger, the divine representative of God. If you really knock at the heart's door, everything is achieved, because when the heart's door is opened you will find the soul within. So please concentrate, meditate and contemplate on the heart. Everything that you want from God, in God and for God must come directly from there.
Question: How can we integrate the mind and the heart?Sri Chinmoy: There are two ways. One way is for the heart to enter into the mind. The other way is for the mind to enter into the heart. Let us take the heart as the mother and the mind as the child. Either the child has to go to the mother, who is calm, quiet and full of love, or the mother has to go to the child, who right now is uncertain, doubtful and restless.
When the mother comes to the child, at that time the child — which is the mind — has to feel that the mother — the heart — has come with good intentions: to calm the mind, to free it, to fulfil it in a divine way. If the doubting and restless mind feels that the heart has come to bother it, and that its restlessness is something very good which it wants to keep, then it is lost. If the child is restless, doubtful, suspicious, and if he cherishes all these undivine qualities and feels they are his best qualities, then what can the poor mother do? The heart will have the good intention of transforming the mind's doubt into faith, and his other undivine qualities into divine qualities. But the mind has to be prepared; it has to feel that the heart has come with the idea of changing him for the better.
The other way, after the child has gone through everything negative and destructive — fear, doubt, suspicion, jealousy, impurity — he comes to a point where he feels that it is high time for him to go to someone who can give him something better. Who is this someone? The mother, the heart. The mother is more than eager to illumine her own child. If the mind is aspiring, it will immediately feel that the heart is the mother, the real mother. And the heart will always feel that the mind is a child who needs instruction.
Both ways are effective. If the mind is ready to learn from the heart, the heart is always eager to teach it. The mother is ready to help the child, to serve the child twenty-four hours a day. It is the child who sometimes becomes irritated, disobedient or obstinate, who feels that he knows everything and has nothing to learn from anybody else. But the mind must learn from someone else. Even the mother, the heart, gets knowledge from someone else — from the soul, which is all light. Let us call the soul the grandmother. From the grandmother the mother learns, and from the mother the child learns. The soul teaches the heart and the heart teaches the mind. If we can see the relationship between the heart and the mind as the relationship of a mother to her child, that is the best way to integrate the two.
Question: Can you tell if something comes from the mind or the heart, or do things always go from the heart to the mind?Sri Chinmoy: One cannot always tell absolutely if something is coming from the mind or the heart. We should always listen to the heart, for the heart is childlike and pure. But the mind thinks that the heart is childish and does not want to listen to the heart. It cares only for its own knowledge and not for the heart's wisdom. Needless to say, we should always see the world through the heart.
Something from the heart does not have to go to the mind. That is, the heart need not communicate through the mind or through anything else. The heart is very eloquent in its own right. The moment I enter into a room and see someone, I immediately know all about him. The other person does not have to say a word to me outwardly; his heart tells me everything in a fleeting second. My heart is speaking to him and his heart is speaking to me. In this case, the heart is not using the mind at all to communicate. It is speaking its own language.
Question: The moment you invite questions my mind wants to ask many questions, but my heart does not want me to ask any questions. Why is this?Sri Chinmoy: I answer questions because sometimes I see that your heart is not able to convince your mind of the truth which the heart already knows. But if you hear this truth from me, your mind will try to see something in my wisdom-light. Your heart, as you say, has no questions. It intuitively knows all the answers. But your mind has quite a few questions. When I answer your questions, the power of your heart is strengthened because your mind begins to accept the truth and light in the answer, and to surrender to your heart. When the mind does not fight against it so much, the heart becomes stronger. That is why I answer questions — to convince the mind. Otherwise, very often the mind will refuse to see the light or feel the light or become one with the light that the heart offers it.
Question: Many times I feel many important questions inside myself, but I cannot conceptualise them. How can we be aware enough inside us to know the questions that we have?Sri Chinmoy: We have to know the source of our questions. If the source of the questions is the intellectual, sophisticated mind, or the physical mind, then these questions have no ultimate value. Even if they are answered most adequately, the answers will be of no use in your inner life. When it is a matter of your heart, there is only one question that can come from the heart, from the inmost recesses of your heart, and that is: "Who am I?" This is the only question truly worth asking and worth answering. It is a question which has to be answered every day, every second in our existence. If you have millions of questions about God and about yourself, you will be able to get most adequate answers to all of them by getting the proper answer to this one question: "Who am I?" All the other questions revolve around this question. When you know the answer to this question, your life's problems are solved. You enter into liberation, salvation, Self-realisation. You become totally and consciously one with God the Omnipotent, God the Omniscient, and God the All-Perfect.
Do not bother to search for questions deep inside yourself. Most questions are like ants and bugs. They do not help us in any way to approach our Goal. On the contrary, they stand in our way. Illumining questions, questions that come from the very depth of our heart concerning our inner progress and inner achievement, our self-realisation or God-realisation, are very few in number. Besides asking, "Who am I?" you may want to know the answer to the question, "What am I here for?" You may also have various specific questions about your own spiritual progress, which are bound to come to you spontaneously. But the only really important question is, "Who am I?"
Question: When you speak of the heart as being the centre of love and the place where the soul resides, do you mean the physical heart, or is 'heart' just a term that you use?Sri Chinmoy: I am not speaking of the human heart, the physical heart, which is just another organ, or the emotional heart, which is really the vital. I am speaking of the pure heart, the spiritual heart. Some spiritual Masters say that the spiritual heart is in the centre of the chest; some say that it is located a little to the right; some say to the left. There is even one spiritual teacher who says that the heart is a little above the centre of the eyebrows at the place we call the third eye. How can a spiritual Master say this? Because the illumined third eye is light, and the illumined heart is also all light. But according to my own realisation, the spiritual heart is located in the centre of the chest, in the centre of our existence.
The heart is like the commander-in-chief, while the soul is the king. When the soul comes into existence, its first concern is to illumine the heart. When the soul withdraws from the body, automatically the commander-in-chief loses all his power. The heart wants to stay with its king. It does not want to go and join another king or another army. In the outer world our friends may deceive us; but in the case of the soul and the heart, their intimacy is thicker than the thickest. The physical sometimes does not listen to the soul. The mind and the vital may ignore it. But the heart is always faithful to the soul. The heart also knows how to identify itself with others' hearts. The mother does not have to show her love for her child by saying, "I love you, I love you," because the mother's identification with the child makes the child feel that he is loved. The real heart does not need to convince; it has the power of oneness.
Question: Since I started meditating here, I have felt that my consciousness is in a different place, and I just wondered if you would comment on that.Sri Chinmoy: Your consciousness is now in the heart centre. This is the centre of pure love and oneness. Formerly, your consciousness was in the mind. When you stay in the mind, all of life can seem like a dry piece of wood. But when you stay in the heart, life can be turned into a sea of pure love and bliss. Since you have been coming here your consciousness has begun functioning more from your heart centre than from your mind centre. If you can keep it there, you will gradually begin to experience a spontaneous feeling of oneness. If you can cultivate the spiritual soil of the heart, you will find growing there spontaneous love, spontaneous oneness with God and God's creation.
In the heart love is really pure and it flows abundantly. From the navel centre love also flows abundantly, but it is filled with impurity. And from below the navel, in addition to being impure, love flows in an insignificant measure.
Question: Is spiritual dryness inevitable?Sri Chinmoy: Spiritual dryness is inevitable only when we do not approach God with sufficient love and devotion. If we approach God with the mind, there will be dryness. But if we approach God with the heart and the soul, there can be no dryness, only a constant shower of love and Grace. We feel our love flowing to God and God's Grace constantly being showered on us. If we approach God with the mind, for one second we may see that Grace is pouring down. Then for four days or four months there will be no rain at all.
Those who know how to cry for God Himself — and not just for God's gifts — from the depths of their heart will feel that there is no dryness. But those who want to approach God with knowledge and intellect will always suffer from dryness. Many aspirants and even great spiritual teachers have gone through this spiritual dryness. Then on the strength of their own experiences, they say that there is no one who has not had the experience of spiritual drought. But fortunately I cannot see eye to eye with them. I approached the Supreme with love, devotion and surrender and I wish to say that I never, never experienced spiritual dryness. Constantly I basked in the shower of His infinite Grace.
If you want to live in God's infinite Grace, then you have to approach God with love, devotion and surrender. You have to offer yourself entirely to the Supreme, and this self-offering must be through the heart and not through the mind. If you can do this, then there will be no dryness. Constantly, at every moment, you will be fed by the Supreme. What you call dryness, in spiritual terms I call starvation. We starve spiritually just because we do not allow the soul to come to the fore and take care of us. We do just the reverse. We tell the soul that we can not only take care of ourselves but also are ready to take care of it as well. This is our mistake. Let us allow the soul to take care of our outer existence. Then we shall see that our inner hunger will be fed by God's infinite Grace.
Question: Can you explain how the aspirant may reach his spiritual heart?Sri Chinmoy: The spiritual heart is located right in the centre of the chest. Within the heart the soul abides. The soul permeates the whole body, but it abides in the heart, just as a man lives in a house, but stays most of the time in one certain room. One can feel the spiritual heart when one is aspiring intensely and one can also see it with the third eye. Every day each aspirant should concentrate on the heart and nowhere else. He has to feel that he does not have a head, he does not have legs, he does not have arms; he has only the heart. An aspirant can reach his spiritual heart through constant concentration and meditation.
Question: How can I become my heart and remain in my heart at every second?Sri Chinmoy: There are three ways in which you can become your heart. The first way is to feel that you have spread a net, in which the entire world is caught. You have caught everyone, not to punish them, not to hurt them, but to play with them. You will give them joy and they will give you joy. When you think of playing a game, you become the heart. The heart is joy, play is joy, the game is joy and the player is joy. To become only the heart, you have to feel that there is somebody playing with you constantly and eternally, and that person is God. According to our Indian conception, God is an eternal Child, and all spiritual Masters also have a childlike nature. It is sometimes said that the first and foremost sign of a spiritual Master is that he has the heart of a child. Of course, this means a spiritual child, a divine child, an illumined child, and not an ordinary child.
The second way to become the heart is to feel that inside you there is a divine Child and that is the soul. You can constantly think that inside your heart is a Child who is most luminous, infinitely more beautiful than any human being. The eternal Child needs an abode, a house, a room. Where is His room? It is inside your heart. First think of the Child, and then think of His needs. He needs a place to live and your heart is the most perfect abode.
The third way to feel that you are the heart is to constantly feel your need and God's need. Your need is perfection. If you can think of perfection, meditate on perfection, cry for perfection, then your need will be fulfilled. God's need is manifestation. In spite of your imperfection He is manifesting Himself, but when He can manifest in and through your perfection, then He will have real fulfilment. When God is fulfilling Himself in and through you, that is your real fulfilment and His real fulfilment. At that time you are nothing else but the heart.
Question: How can we learn to love God with all our heart?Sri Chinmoy: First of all, let us try to know what heart means. The spiritual heart is the sweetest and most intimate part of us. We can expect it to have the feeling of immediate, indivisible oneness with God. Right now, our physical existence separates us from our heart-consciousness. Also, the mind is using us and, therefore, the heart is not being allowed to come to the fore. Again, sometimes we use the vital and think it is the heart that we are using. In order to give our heart's love to the Supreme, we have first to identify ourselves with the true heart. Next, we have to feel that our heart is composed of only one thing: gratitude. We must feel our oneness with the heart and we must feel that we have become gratitude itself. If somebody calls our name, our inner being will not respond. But if somebody says the word 'gratitude', immediately we will feel that he is calling us and nobody else.
This gratitude is for whom? It is for the Supreme. The moment we can feel that our inner existence and outer existence have only one name, gratitude, we will be able to offer our heart's love to the Supreme totally, implicitly and ceaselessly. Why do we have to offer gratitude to the Supreme? Because God has given us the greatest blessing imaginable. He has given us the aspiration to lead a spiritual life and realise Him. There are billions of people on earth who do not have that urge to realise God, for they have not yet received this blessing unparalleled. We are beginning our conscious inner journey before they are and we will also reach the Goal long before they do.
Question: How can I have a heart as vast as Jesus Christ's?Sri Chinmoy: You have to know that there is a great difference between the heart of Jesus Christ and that of an ordinary human being. But the person who is ordinary today, in God's tomorrow can have a heart as vast as Jesus Christ's. Who gave Jesus Christ that vast heart? Who gave Lord Buddha such a vast heart? God did. If God can give Christ and Buddha and Krishna such a vast heart, He can also give you the same kind of heart if He wants to.
One day you feel a vast heart within yourself and you want to become one with the world and show sympathy to the world. But the next day, if you do not have the same feeling, or the same capacity to feel oneness, do not feel sorry. If you do, you will be making a mistake. From this so-called sadness, very soon jealousy will come forward. When you become jealous, you begin cursing yourself and doubting yourself. You say, "What have I done wrong that what I had a few days ago today I no longer have?" Next you begin to think that God is partial. You think, "He did not give me the capacity permanently. He has given this capacity to somebody else now."
But God will not leave anybody unrealised. Everybody has to realise the Highest. It is only a matter of time. You will realise God tomorrow; somebody else may take two hundred years; somebody else may take four hundred years. But if the one that will take four hundred years feels sorry that tomorrow you are going to realise God, his sadness is not going to help him at all. If the fastest runner wins and I feel sad when I observe him, this will not be of any help to me. He has the capacity, so he will win. I do not have the capacity, so I will not win. But if I can appreciate his speed, automatically some of his capacity will enter into me. Through sincere appreciation we gain capacity. So if you see that somebody has a big heart, the heart of a Christ, if you can appreciate and admire him all the time, by your appreciation and identification you automatically enlarge the power and capacity of your own heart.
Question: How can we expand our heart more in order to embrace you and have you constantly with us?Sri Chinmoy: Since I am your spiritual Master, please feel that the infinite Consciousness is within me. You have entered into the spiritual life and at every moment you are dealing with consciousness. My name, although it was given to me by my parents, actually means 'full of divine consciousness.' Think of my name during the day, and feel that when you think of me you are thinking of one particular thing in your life, and that is consciousness. By 'me' I mean the Supreme in me. When you think of consciousness you are bound to feel expansion, because the very nature of consciousness is to expand. If you think of consciousness, immediately you will feel inside you a vast ocean or a vast sky.
Your question is how you can expand your heart in order to have me with you constantly. If you look at the ocean, you will see a vast expanse of water. Water signifies consciousness. If you look at the sky, you will see an infinite expanse of blue. Blue signifies Infinity. If you can look at the ocean or the sky early in the morning just for a few minutes and feel that your heart and my consciousness have become one there, your heart will definitely expand. Then, whenever you think of me, if you can think of that vastness too, in this way you will achieve your goal.
Question: How can I stay in a good consciousness while you are physically away?Sri Chinmoy: You have to feel all the time that the physical is not all, and that the spiritual is everything. Inside the physical is the spiritual. Outside is the body, but just because you have the heart inside, you are alive. In the spiritual life the heart and soul are most important. My presence must be inside you. If you can feel my presence inside your heart, then you will not feel that I am away. In this way you will be able to keep your consciousness high at all times.
Question: How can we expand our heart and have more of its divine qualities in our daily actions and our relationships with people?Sri Chinmoy: The spiritual life is not the life of indifference. However, one has to have discrimination when dealing with the world. If you give your heart to everyone, irrespective of who the person is, then people may exploit you. If a thief wants to buy tools to steal with, and if someone with a magnanimous heart gives him the money without questioning what kind of person he is or why he wants the money, who will be partially responsible for his future thefts? The man who gives money to the thief. A spiritual person may have a truly wide heart, but to utilise the heart's quality with wisdom is more important than to cry for the enlargement of the heart.
God has already given our heart many divine qualities, but we do not use them and thus we slow down our spiritual growth. Very few people, I must say, know what the spiritual heart really is. What we mistake for the heart is actually the emotional vital. This moment we want to give everything to a person and the next moment we want to keep everything for ourselves. This moment, for no reason, I am ready to give everything to you and the next moment, again for no reason, I am ready to take your life away. This kind of feeling does not come from the heart at all. It is the play of our demanding, unfulfilled vital that we are seeing.
If our vital is trying to play the role of the heart, it will try to dominate others or make them feel that they need us badly because we have wisdom or light, whereas they do not. But the very existence of the heart is based on identification. Identification is light. The spiritual heart can identify only with light and delight, for it gets continuous light and delight from the soul. We may identify with someone's sorrow, but what we are actually identifying ourselves with is the light inside that sorrow. Inside pain, inside suffering, inside darkness itself, there is light. Ultimately, the heart is identifying with the light within. If we cry every day for our own inner light, then we will see that the heart is bound to expand. But if we want to expand the heart without light, we will merely expand our ignorance. Only when we cry for the Highest will our heart really expand.
We must realise that the vital, which is deceiving and exploiting us, must be put aside. Very often forces from the impure vital, below the navel, enter into our heart and cause us to suffer. Purification of the vital is absolutely necessary if the vital wants to act divinely, together with the heart. Otherwise, the heart will have to play its part alone. But please be careful in dealing with humanity, that you do not offer the false light of the demanding and possessive vital. In the name of concern, we very often offer worries, anxieties, impurities and so forth.
It is not at all difficult to bring forward the heart's good qualities such as sympathy and concern. We can bring forward these good qualities through our aspiration. We are aspiring for God, who undoubtedly has more Concern, Affection and all other qualities of the heart than we have. Our sincere aspiration can bring these qualities down from God.
Question: How can you conquer attachment when you have a large heart and want to help people?Sri Chinmoy: If you have a big heart and you want to help hundreds of people, you have to remember to whom these people belong. They don't belong to you; they belong to the Supreme. Since they are His possessions, you have to make sure that the Supreme wants you to help them. If you want to help them just to show your outer capacity, the only significant result will be an increase in your pride and vanity. But if you are commissioned by God, God can give you the heart and the capacity to help not only a hundred or two hundred people, but millions of people at a time.
How can you be detached if you have a big heart? If it is God's Will that you should help and He has given you some capacity, some illumination, some inner wisdom and light, then you will easily be able to be detached. But if your desire to serve the world is not God's Will, if it is coming unconsciously from your vital, then you are bound to be attached. If your desire to help others is coming consciously from the vital, then you will know that your wish to help people is only for appreciation, admiration and fame.
Very often people do not know the difference between the heart and the vital, because the vital is near the heart. The spiritual heart is in the centre of the chest and the vital is at the navel and below. From the navel the consciousness flows upward, and people think it is the consciousness of the heart. The emotionally and physically impure vital consciousness flows outward and people think that it is the heart's consciousness purifying and illumining the whole world. The vital emotion always creates attachment, but people are convinced that this is their heart's concern. Attachment is killing them, but they do not understand what it is. They think they are suffering because of their heart's concern for others.
Unless one aspires, it is very difficult to know the difference between vital attachment or vital love and true psychic love or the heart's divine love. The capacity for discrimination comes through gradual spiritual progress. Spiritual Masters can tell the difference and sincere seekers who have made considerable progress can tell. But others will always make a mistake. On rare occasions they will recognise their vital emotions, but most of the time they will feel that their pure heart is making them suffer.
Sometimes when we feel that we are more than ready to go and illumine the world, our readiness is not readiness at all. What we call readiness, in God's Eye may be our egotistical way of imagining our own greatness. At that time, we will go from one end of the earth to the other offering our light, but this light will not be real light; it is all human ego coming directly from the vital world. So we have to be very careful. Real readiness is there only when God tells us to do something, for God can see when we are really ready. When we are ready, God will speak through the Master and tell us that we are ready. Only then can the wealth of the heart be offered to mankind in a divine way.
So always go deep within and wait for the inner light or the Master to guide you and command you. You will be making a mistake if you think that you have the capacity to serve the world divinely but that you are not getting the opportunity to use it. Use all your capacity first to realise the highest Truth. When you have realised this Truth, you will find deep within you One who will tell you when the time has come for you to spread your light by helping the world. At that time you will never be attached. You will feel that you are consciously becoming one with your other part and you will have the capacity to grow into this larger part. As long as you do not have this capacity, when you give to somebody else you will always feel that you are superior, that he is a beggar and you are a prince. But when you are illumined and have been commanded by God to help others, you will see the other person as your own extended self. There will be no sense of separativity at that time, only oneness and expansion. When there is total oneness there is no attachment. It is the feeling of duality that creates attachment. In the infinite ocean there are millions of waves, but these waves are all part and parcel of the ocean. The millions of waves are the expression, the revelation, the manifestation of the ocean. There is no duality, no attachment here; it is all oneness.
Question: Is it possible for the physical mind to try to veil the gratitude of the heart?Sri Chinmoy: Not only is it possible, but it happens almost constantly. The physical mind is veiling the gratitude of the heart almost every day and, in some cases, twenty-four hours a day. Atheists do not believe in God, although God has given them a soul, given them life, given them opportunity, and is still caring for them and giving them Compassion and Concern. But for them there is no God. With their mental development and sophistication, doubt and other undivine qualities have entered into them. For rich people also there is often no God, although God has blessed them with His Bounty. For them, money is their God. That is all they aspire for. These people also have a heart, but the gratitude of that heart is veiled by the physical mind.
The physical mind is constantly crying for possession, and not for liberation. But the heart always has the feeling of oneness. In the heart, you and I are of the same status. I am in no way superior to you; you are in no way superior to me. But when we live in the physical mind, immediately we are separated. Either I am superior or I am inferior; we cannot be one. The physical mind, which is full of imperfection, limitation and bondage, will always try to separate us from our reality. Our reality is the soul and that soul is inside the heart. The physical mind we have to catch and control like a thief. We have to catch the mind with our intense aspiration and we have to control it with our will-power. And finally we have to illumine it with our soul's light.
We can unveil the heart's gratitude the moment we are successful in bringing to the fore our soul, which is full of divine light. And to bring the soul to the fore we have to feel that our whole existence is in the heart itself. We have to feel that our entire concentration is inside the heart, not on the top of the head or in the forehead or anywhere else. When we focus our attention on the heart, we have to feel that there is a divine spark, a most beautiful and luminous child trying to come forward. Like the sun in the sky, many times it is eclipsed by clouds. But when the sun finally does come forward, darkness is totally melted away. If we can focus our attention on the heart, slowly and steadily we will see the inner sun — which is infinitely more brilliant, more powerful, more luminous than the physical sun — come forward and illumine our outer consciousness. At that time the physical mind will be transformed by the infinite Light within us. Then, instead of standing in the way, the mind itself will become a conscious instrument of the heart and the soul.
Question: It's sometimes said that America has a big heart. Do you find that Americans live more in the heart than Europeans, for example?Sri Chinmoy: Aspiration is everywhere, but to be very frank with you, in some countries it is more intense than in others. The difficulty with Europeans, for example, is that most of them are too mental. The mind can be a very good instrument, but right now it is not. The mind that is used now is the physical mind which constantly doubts and suspects. It is very limited and full of darkness. But there is also a higher mind, an illumined mind, an intuitive mind, an overmind. These levels of mind are not being used right now. To bring them into use, first we have to live in the heart and bring light to the mind. My philosophy is psychic — from the heart — so many Europeans find it difficult to appreciate it. But Americans either live more in the heart or more in the vital, so it is not as difficult for them.
The heart is at the centre of the chest, and the vital is just below. The distance is quite short. But the mind is up in the head, so there is a big distance. Naturally, it is easier for the light of the heart to enter into the vital than to enter into the mind. Then again, there are two types of vital: the dynamic vital and the aggressive vital. The American vital is usually dynamic and not aggressive, and this is very fortunate. The dynamic vital is important and helpful in the spiritual life, whereas the aggressive vital is damaging and destructive. In various parts of the world the aggressive vital has come to the fore, but in America I see the dynamic vital most of the time. But even in this respect, Americans are still imperfect. Dynamism and aggression very often mix in the vital. The vital is like a knife. With a knife we can cut a fruit and share it with others and with the same knife we can stab someone. So we have to be very careful that the dynamic vital does not become the aggressive vital.
In America and other places where I have noticed dynamism, I have hope. There are places where there is no dynamism and for their spiritual progress I have very little hope at this time. If we are dynamic, we make progress, we run. If we do not know where our goal is, then we may run from this side to that side, but it is better to move than to remain static. Otherwise, we will make no progress at all. There are many parts of the world where most of the people are wallowing in the pleasures of idleness, lethargy, apathy. This, unfortunately, is India's great problem. But Americans are running. They are not sure of the goal, but they are constantly on the move. They go one way and dash against a wall and get hurt. But then they realise that the goal is not there, so they go another way. If that is also not the proper direction, they get another blow. But they go on. So by trial and error they make progress.
The thing that I deeply appreciate and admire in America is that America does not know how to hesitate or stand still. This is an excellent quality in the spiritual life. Our Goal is not where we are now; our Goal is somewhere ahead of us, so why should we stay in one place? Once we know our Goal, or even if we are not sure of our Goal, still we have to run. God's Compassion will dawn because of our dynamic aspiration, and guide us to our Goal.
Another good quality which I see in Americans is that they can appreciate everything, like children. A child appreciates everything and God also appreciates everything, for God is a divine Child. America has a big heart, a spontaneous heart, a child's heart. America makes mistakes. Who does not make mistakes? But in the matter of the heart's magnanimity and the vital's dynamism, America is very advanced.
Editor's introductionThis book is the second of a two-volume series of Sri Chinmoy's answers to questions about the mind and the heart. The first volume dealt primarily with the mind. This volume focuses mainly on the spiritual heart and its relationship with the mind.
The spiritual heart is the heart which becomes one with all that it touches and, like a great vessel, holds within itself the universal Consciousness. The real secret of meditation and the highest kind of knowledge are contained in the spiritual heart. The spiritual heart is like a door, always open. This book is an invitation to enter.