Obedience or oneness

Return to the table of contents

Part I — Oneness and the soul's intimacy

Question: Will you always intervene in the inner world when your disciples need help?

Sri Chinmoy: We have to know where we actually stand. Those who have accepted me as their Guru, as their spiritual Master, have made an inner connection with me. In some cases, the connection is extremely strong; in others it is looser. If a disciple is very close to me and wholeheartedly devoted to me, if he soulfully listens to my inner and outer requests, then this disciple is bound to have a close inner bond with me. This kind of disciple is the Master's pride and joy. If the Master tells him to jump from the Empire State Building, he will do it immediately; there will be no hesitation. That doesn't mean that the Master will ask him to jump from the Empire State Building. No. But his inner love, his inner oneness will make him feel that the Master is totally and unreservedly for him. If these disciples are in need of help, I have to go to them, no matter what I am doing, even if I am in my highest meditation. Others, I cannot help in this way; the Supreme does not allow me to.

Again, if I want to know something about those disciples who are not so close, immediately I can do so. But that kind of intervention I will not make. When I was in India, I did intervene many times in the lives of my friends, but I felt that I really created more problems for those people. Once I intervene, then they will never dare to think of anything. It is all torture for them, since they know that I will be able to know what they are doing or thinking about.

Question: You have about a thousand disciples. Does each soul report to you every day or every week?

Sri Chinmoy: Each soul does not necessarily report every day, but the soul can convey messages to me at any time. There are some disciples whom I consider to be very dear to me who have emanations of mine "assigned" to their souls. An emanation is my inner representative that is associated with a particular soul and has a free access to me. At any hour an emanation may bring me a message about what you are doing, although usually it comes to me early in the morning. Sometimes my mind may not receive or be aware of this message. In this case the emanation will try to solve the problem through the disciple's soul. That is, the emanation will bring the message to my soul and my soul will advise the soul directly because the person has accepted me as his Master. Then the disciple's soul will try to convince his mind to do something, and this will come to the mind as a revelation. The mind may not get the direct message from me outwardly and my mind may not know all the physical facts in a situation, such as the precise way in which something is going to happen. But if an emanation comes and tells me that this disciple has done something wrong or is having difficulty in something, and if it feels that my physical mind should know the situation, it will tell my inner beings to inform my physical mind.

Sometimes a disciple may tell me about a situation through letters. Some time ago you left a message for me about a domestic problem. When I received the note, even before I opened it, my inner being said to me that everything was already done. That is, the situation had been resolved in the way the Divine, the Supreme, wanted. My mind did not know the outer details until I read the note line by line.

When I become aware that a problem has been dealt with inwardly, then my mind may ask my soul what was done on the physical plane and what is going to happen now. Otherwise the soul may not necessarily give the message to the physical mind. In the ordinary human life, unless the mind is aware of something, we feel that we do not know about it. But although our physical mind may not know something, another part of our being may be aware of it.

The soul almost all the time asks the physical mind to enlarge itself. The physical mind may read newspapers and learn millions of things-that somebody was stabbed here, a scandal is taking place there. This information gives the physical mind temporary joy. But after an hour, like a garbage collector, the soul takes this away from the mind, since this information does not help us at all in the spiritual life. We are on earth, so we get pleasure by knowing what others are doing. But this does not feed the soul, expedite our manifestation or give us fulfilment.

A spiritual Master need not know or does not know what you are going to have for breakfast or what the President said to his wife yesterday. But he does know the central, most important thing, and that is whether the disciple's soul is climbing up or climbing down the tree, or whether he is stationed at one particular place, be it a very low or a very high place. What compels the soul to come down? It is the emotional vital or the doubting mind that is bringing the soul down. And what lifts up the soul? It is the inner cry, aspiration.

Some people ask me why I do not use occult power to discover outer information, but why should I use it in order to know what is going on in the outer plane? These powers can be used for very high purposes. If you have one dollar, that doesn't mean that you will spend it all on tea and coffee. If you have a dollar, then you will spend it on something worthwhile. Again, there is something which brings outer information even more quickly than occult power, and that is soul power. Inside your house, your being, the main inmate is the soul-bird. If I catch the bird and ask it what is happening, the bird will immediately tell me about its cage. Of course, the soul need not constantly tell the Master what is happening.

Some people may wonder why some close disciples seek my guidance in outer matters, for God has given us enough intelligence to know what to say to others. But sometimes we feel that intelligence does not help at all. We know what is to be said to our friends or to our enemies. Yet even by saying the right thing, often we do not get satisfactory results. But if we tell a spiritual Master about outer circumstances and he knows what we are going to say, immediately there will be additional force behind our words. That additional force does not mean that we will always win. The force will only be applied to you and it will come to you as additional help. Then when you talk to a person, the answer that you receive will not affect you. You may either be victorious or lose the battle, but due to the help the Master has given you, you will not be upset. This is the most important thing: the after-effect, the result of the incident, will not affect you. You will maintain peace. Similarly, I ask my disciples to tell me where they are going even if it is only on a vacation or some ordinary trip because many incidents may take place on such trips. And if they go to do something for our mission such as open a Centre, then there is more reason to keep me informed.

Some ask me why I have to know what a particular disciple is doing, in which place he is putting up posters or with whom he is talking. If the disciple keeps me informed, that he is going to do this or that, then I can put a tremendous force on him. This force enters into him, and even if everything goes wrong, even if there is no outer positive result, he will still feel some inner joy that he is doing his very best for the Supreme. If you know that I am aware of the matter on the outer plane, there is inner joy. That inner joy is itself progress. But if the disciple does not tell me something on the physical plane, my knowledge remains inner.

It is up to the seeker to inform the Master about something. If the seeker feels that the Master is involved, then no matter what the result is, he will be happy and cheerful. But the seeker may feel that he does not need the Master in a particular instance. He has intelligence, he has lawyers, he has everything he needs to face the situation. At that time the Master will not call you a fool. No, the Master will only say that if you can manage the situation yourself, then well and good. The capacity and the confidence you have in yourself, if it is real confidence, has come from above, from the Supreme. So the Master is very happy because there is no difference between his guidance and guidance from the Highest.

Question: What did you mean when you said the spiritual Master is not a camel, but he has to have the shoulders of a camel?

Sri Chinmoy: We can put a heavy load on the back of a camel, because we know that the camel can carry it. The camel can cross the burning, scorching desert with that kind of burden. The camel can do everything that we consider a hardship.

A spiritual Master is not a camel, true. The consciousness of a spiritual Master is considerably higher than the consciousness of a camel. But a spiritual Master who consciously takes the responsibility of hundreds and thousands of disciples on his shoulders is like a camel. The camel does not ask you to put a heavy load on his back. But the spiritual Master not only consciously takes a person's responsibilities but also tries to help that person come out of ignorance. You are doing something wrong and I am trying to be inside your suffering. But it is another thing to bring you out of the suffering itself. This is more difficult and much more important. If you are suffering, an ordinary human being has the power to identify and show you sympathy. But a spiritual Master will not only show sympathy, but will also try to take your pangs, sorrows and burdens out of your system. To enter into somebody's suffering is difficult, true, but to take away all that person's suffering is much more difficult. This is what a spiritual Master consciously does. Nobody can impose responsibilities on the spiritual Master if he does not want to shoulder them. But again, if he takes responsibility, he does it with his love, concern and compassion.

A camel is not aware of God-realisation; far from it. But man is aware of it, although he may not be making an effort to realise God. He knows that there is someone called God and that He has to be realised. When a spiritual Master comes into the life of a seeker, he makes the seeker consciously feel, at every moment, that he has to realise God. First the Master injects into the spiritual seekers the necessity of God-realisation. Then he inspires the disciple-seekers. And finally he brings down God's Light, Peace and Bliss and God-realisation for his disciples. These are the responsibilities and self-imposed duties of a spiritual Master. From the highest point of view, these duties are ordained by God.

Who can take this kind of responsibility? A camel? A camel takes his burden for six to ten years and then its body becomes useless and it dies. But a spiritual Master never becomes useless. Even when he leaves the body, he has to work for his disciples. That is the difference between the burden of a camel and the duties of a spiritual Master. The spiritual Master takes eternal responsibility for his dearest and closest disciples. So he has the shoulders of a divine camel.

Question: Do you work mostly in silence?

Sri Chinmoy: No, I also work on the physical plane. I am quite active for quite a few hours every day. But I wish to say with utmost sincerity and humility that while I am working on the physical plane, while I am composing poetry, dealing with my disciples and so forth, at the same time I am also accomplishing many things in the inner world. In the outer world I may accomplish just one thing, but at the same time in the inner world I am doing twenty things. When I am talking to someone, I can be doing many things on different planes of consciousness.

Once in India, someone who used to be my mentor was walking with me in the street. I was very close to him. While we were walking, this individual identified so strongly with me that he became aware of four things that I was doing at that time on the inner plane.

In the inner plane each individual has much more capacity than in the outer plane. The outer plane is very small, but the inner plane is very large. When a seeker is conscious of his capacity on the inner plane, he runs the fastest and achieves his goal sooner than at once.

Question: Does seeing the Supreme in the Master bring the disciple closer to the Supreme within himself?

Sri Chinmoy: The Supreme is now inside you in tiny form, in essence. The full manifestation of the Supreme is like a fully blossomed lotus. Inside you the Supreme is like a bud that has not blossomed, but in my case it has fully blossomed. When you see the flower fully blossomed, then immediately you will say, "Oh, then I also have this." You will look at the blossom inside your Master and gradually you will see that petal by petal it is blossoming inside you as well. Once you have seen the lotus in the Master, it becomes infinitely easier for your own lotus to blossom.

Arjuna saw this lotus in Krishna. But Arjuna could not maintain this vision, so he asked Krishna to show him a second time. Krishna insulted him. He said, "If you had faith in me, then you would have maintained the vision." What Krishna showed to him was his celestial Form. I have shown a similar form to three or four of my disciples, but they could not maintain it.

Strangely enough, one person who was a psychiatrist saw it, but his pride did not allow him to maintain it. He saw it on the strength of his utmost surrender and devotion. Then he wrote me such a pathetic letter. He said, "I know what you are, but I am a teacher. People come and touch my feet. They come to me for advice. When I am in the heart and the soul, I know what you are and what I am. I am a tiny drop and you are the ocean itself. But when I am in the mind, I think only that there are many who have come and touched my feet, so how can I come and touch your feet."

Question: Is there any difference between our entering into the Master's consciousness and his entering into ours?

Sri Chinmoy: There is a great difference between your entering into the Master's consciousness and the Master entering into your consciousness. If you enter into him, you will see there divinity, light, peace and bliss in infinite measure. But when the spiritual Master enters into you, because you have not yet developed within you infinite Peace, Light and Bliss, the Master has to work to unlock the safe where your treasure lies. But again, the spiritual Master comes not with any kind of contempt. He comes as the dearest loving mother to clean, to purify and to illumine. When the aspirant enters into the spiritual Master, he is in another world and when the spiritual Master enters into him, at that time he also will be in another world. The difference is that an aspirant can give only what he has: his aspiration, his love and devotion. But what a spiritual Master can give is infinite realisation. So if you can enter into the Master's consciousness, you are bound to get a very high and deep experience. The spiritual Master can cultivate in you all these possibilities and sooner or later you are going to get the bumper crop of realisation. At that time your entering into the Master or the Master entering into you will be the same, but not right now.

Question: Do you know when your disciples are meditating on you?

Sri Chinmoy: When people meditate most intensely, they are bound to feel me and I am bound to feel them. Three or four days ago I had a very high fever and I was very sick. It was after midnight, but I was getting a very strong vibration from one disciple's soul. So I sat down and very intensely fed his soul. Then, in order to convince the disciple's physical mind, I phoned him in San Francisco. "What are you doing?" I asked. He said he was meditating intensely on me. So he received the inner message very fast.

Question: Why do spiritual Masters fall sick if they have spiritual and occult power?

Sri Chinmoy: Many times spiritual figures die of so-called fatal diseases. But the poor Master is not responsible. What happens is that the Master identifies himself with his disciples; he tries to take the disciples' imperfections into himself and dissolve them. His love and affection for his disciples is boundless. It is like the case of the mother and the son. When the mother sees that the child is suffering she says, "Give me your suffering; give it to me." You cannot say that because the Guru is suffering he is imperfect. No, he is suffering for his own spiritual children. They have done something wrong, and out of his infinite compassion he draws into himself that imperfection. That is one of the reasons why spiritual Masters fall sick.

Part II — The consciousness of the Master's writings

Question: Do your writings carry a special force?

Sri Chinmoy: My writings are not borrowed thoughts, but the expressions of my own experience. Some philosophers, professors and scholars borrow ideas from others; the ideas they write about do not come from their own realisation. In my case, my grammar may be absolutely wrong, but the consciousness that I reveal is a divine consciousness. So even if I say, "I goes," there is no problem. But when I say "I," it will carry tremendous spiritual strength and spiritual power. This is true not only when I say it, but also when all spiritual Masters say it.

In my case, since I have written considerably, I tell my disciples to read my writings first. See how many years it will take you to read my writings soulfully! You should mark the sections that appeal to you most, and then read them again. Feel that these sections are like mantras that you repeat again and again and again. If you like a poem, you can read it every day if you want to. But you have to read everything at least once in order to make a selection. If you do not read everything once, how will you know which one you like best? In order to make a selection you go to a store and select the thing you like best. But without seeing everything, how will you make the choice?

If a disciple reads my writings as a form of meditation on me and on the Supreme, then he is in my consciousness. If he reads my writings a second time, then again he will get my consciousness.

Question: How can we think of new questions to ask you?

Sri Chinmoy: Perhaps there will never be time in this incarnation for all the questions that could be asked. In one sense it is a supreme loss if the questions that can be asked are not answered by me. But in another sense, there is no such thing as a loss, for there is only one question, and that question has already been answered thousands of years ago. Thousands of seekers have asked the same question, "Who am I?" The immediate answer was given: "I am none other than God." Each individual is none other than God.

The same question has been asked since the moment creation was started. That question was always answered immediately. The question and answer are almost simultaneous. The question came from the Source. The answer was also given from the same Source. That question came from the creation, and the answer came from the Creator. Again, if you dive deep within, you will see that it was the Creator who wanted to know who He was. That is why He made Himself the Creator and asked his creation who He was. So either you can say the creation asked the question and Creator gave the answer, or you can say that the Creator had Himself given both the question and the answer.

Question: What can we gain by reading your book of aphorisms, Food for the Soul?

Sri Chinmoy: Food for the body is necessary for everybody. We all know what it is. Meditation is food for the soul. Every day you can enter into your highest consciousness if you want to, just by meditating on this book of aphorisms. They are the food for your soul. Read it and you will see that light is running towards you, peace is running towards you, bliss is running towards you, illumination is running towards you.

Question: Can we determine who our Guru is from reading his writings?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all you have to feel the Guru's acceptance of you and also your acceptance of the Guru. It is not that you will read some books and you will all of a sudden be transported into a plane of joy or delight. You have read a particular Master's book, let us say, and all of a sudden you feel transported and believe that this Master is meant for you. But then tomorrow you may read the writings of some other Master, and you will get extreme delight and feel that he is your Guru. The day after you will read somebody else's writings, and you may feel the same kind of joy in a different way. Just by reading somebody's works, you will not be able to accept or reject a particular Master. Only through your meditation will you be able to know who gives you the most delight.

Suppose you are in doubt about two or three Masters whom you may want to accept. Early in the morning, most soulfully repeat one of their names seven times only. Then, the next day you will repeat somebody else's name. You are bound to get the deepest joy by uttering the name of the particular Master who is meant for you. But by reading books, please do not confuse yourself. Many, many spiritual Masters have written wonderful things, but if you want to offer your existence or acceptance to someone just because you like his writings, you may be making a mistake.

Part III — The Master's manifestation

Question: Could you speak about the mutual acceptance of the Guru and disciple?

Sri Chinmoy: The Guru unconditionally accepts the responsibility for the disciple. This responsibility involves the disciple's aspiration, meditation, love, devotion and surrender. And at the same time, the true disciple wholeheartedly accepts the responsibility of the Guru. The Guru's responsibility is to spread the Message, the Light of the Supreme. On the strength of your oneness with the Guru's consciousness, you become one with the Guru's responsibility. When you fulfil the Guru's responsibility, you feel that you are spreading the Message of the infinite Supreme. When you spread the Message of the Supreme in the Guru, at that time you are taking on your own shoulders the responsibility of the Guru. So the Guru takes the disciple's responsibility and the disciple takes the Guru's responsibility.

You are young. I want you to run the fastest in the inner worlds, like a deer towards the Goal, as I used to run in my teens. You are fresh, green, pure, new. You are energetic. I want you to utilise all your divine, dynamic qualities to the fullest extent in your daily life, inner and outer. So with my heart's deepest joy, love, blessing and concern, I bless you.

Question: If I don't know what God wants me to do, but I want to serve God, then how do I get an idea about what to do?

Sri Chinmoy: You will get the proper idea, but first you must pray to God for inspiration. There is nothing wrong in doing this. Inspiration is the first step. If you are not inspired, then you won't budge an inch; you won't do anything. So there is nothing wrong if you first pray to God to give you inspiration. As you cry for God to give you more aspiration, most intense aspiration, you can also pray to God to give you inspiration. People are inspired; that is why they become scientists or they become great in other fields. If they are not inspired, then they cannot do anything. So you can pray to God to give you inspiration. Then, from inspiration you go one step ahead: aspiration. Finally, from aspiration you go another step further: realisation.

Question: As your disciples, what can we offer you?

Sri Chinmoy: The disciples should try to go deep within and see what I actually want from them. "Disciple" is a very, very important word. If the Guru is important, so also is the disciple. In India they say that Gurus grow like mushrooms here, there and everywhere. But in order to get a true disciple, one has to cross the length and breadth of the world. Everybody can find many, many Gurus. But a true disciple is something very, very rare in God's entire creation.

Question: What happens if a soul fails to manifest on earth?

Sri Chinmoy: In the inner tug-of-war, if one can go high, higher, highest, then one gets the opportunity to manifest at every moment. When good souls see that somebody has died untimely without revealing or manifesting God, they feel sad because of their oneness. They feel that if this person had remained on earth, then he could have completed his game. He could have revealed God and manifested God. But bad souls are happy. They say, "He could not score the goal, so he has failed like us. Now we have a new member in our family."

In my case, if I can't manifest, it is because I have become absolutely one with my children. So if I fail to manifest, Heaven has no right to laugh at me because I have left my limbs and my heartbeat on earth. Only if my children fail will I allow Heaven to laugh at me. So I will watch from Heaven and see if my children can really please me.

Question: Should disciples offer advice from your writings?

Sri Chinmoy: Do not offer advice, but make it clear that this is what you think my meaning is. Explain it in your own way and say that this is based on your understanding, your inner experience. Since the other person doesn't understand, he can try your interpretation; but he is under no obligation to see eye to eye with you. Just because you have an understanding you can say that you want to share it with him. If he feels that your understanding is right, well and good. But if not, he can arrive at his own interpretation.

Question: What should I do when I am in the position of giving advice to someone?

Sri Chinmoy: If you feel compelled from within to give advice to someone, you will do it. However, it may happen that my advice will be more direct or may work more quickly than yours. Your advice, I assure you, will not be as high or divine or spiritual or, let us say, as fruitful as mine.

But your advice is bound to be helpful and fruitful if you feel my presence and have tremendous devotion for me while you are giving advice to your spiritual brothers and sisters. If you have tremendous devotion when you are giving advice, at that time I tell you, you will not be able to make a mistake.

When some of my disciples give advice, they immediately consider themselves equal to me. They totally forget that they are my disciples and that I know a little more than they do. They are getting the utmost opportunity to reveal themselves. At that time, they negate my existence in their life.

Let us say that somebody needs advice from you or, even if he does not need advice, you feel that it is your bounden duty to give him advice. He has been your friend for a long time, and now he is under a cloud. Doubt or some other wrong force has entered into him. While you are advising the person out of your necessity, if you are full of devotion for me, then like a magnet you are pulling my wisdom and light. This will go to the person to whom you want to offer it. People make mistakes because they totally forget me. For a few minutes they become the Master of the particular seeker that they are speaking to. And then they make mistakes.

Sometimes when people don't ask us for advice, they will misunderstand us if we advise them. Still, we have to try. A daughter won't ask advice from her mother. But if she is doing something wrong, then will her mother just wait? Will her mother say, "Let her ask for my guidance, for my advice; until then I will be silent. Let her burn her fingers; then she will learn." No, the mother's heart will not allow the daughter to burn her fingers. The mother may be misunderstood if she tries to interfere and the child may get angry, but the mother's duty is to save the child. So, when you give advice, feel that the other person is a child, totally lost. Many times it has happened and many times it will happen that the Supreme wants a particular person to have an experience, so that in the future he will be more careful in his spiritual life. By giving advice to him you may make a mistake. Your heart is there because you know that he is doing something wrong. But how do you know if it is God's Will to help that person at that moment? How do you know if your advice is timely? Help he needs, but your best help you can offer during your meditation. Then you are going to the right person, to the Supreme. "Supreme, I feel that this person needs help. But who am I to help? It is only You who can help him." The Supreme is bound to hear your prayer, and then He will do it in His own way.

Very often spiritual Masters work in this way. They always offer their good will, even if disciples have left their path. If those people are having difficulties, at that time they pray to the Supreme to illumine them. This way is the most effective because the Supreme Himself is accepting your request.

But if you find it difficult at that time to surrender your will to the Supreme, and if you have a very good heart and you feel that the person does need your help, then the other way is to have tremendous devotion while you are giving advice. You have to have devotion for the Supreme or for the Master. If you offer your devotion to the Master, immediately he will take your devotion and put it in the right place, at the Feet of the Supreme. Devotion is like a flower. Either you yourself can place the flower on the shrine, or you can leave it at the door and the person who is there will put it on the shrine. But the flower will be put at the right place.

Question: There have been many times that people have called me to work at the printing press and do other things, but I always do homework instead. Should I stop doing all my homework?

Sri Chinmoy: No. No. No. I have repeatedly told you that your student life comes first. Regularly you come to the Centre. Regularly you have to meditate early in the morning. Then comes your school life and then comes the press. Otherwise, if you fail in your studies, your parents will be upset.

In the case of students, I always say that it is necessary to study. Your parents have allowed you to go to school and they meet with your expenses. So you have to please them. As long as I ask you to study, please study. First comes regular morning meditation, then Centre meditation, then your studies; then comes the press or some other selfless service. Otherwise, if you fail in your studies, you will be in serious trouble. For students, school life comes first.

There are many who do nothing after work. They are not students; they just work six or seven hours at their job and then they go home and wallow in the pleasures of ignorance. They have to make a choice between serving the Supreme, and sleeping at home or just wasting time. In these cases, if they are good disciples, the Centre activities count. The divine manifestation comes first. For some disciples, there is no Sunday, Monday or Tuesday; seven days a week they are active. In this way they will make the fastest progress.

Part IV — Problems of discipleship

Question: How can we not think about ourselves first?

Sri Chinmoy: How can you not think of yourself first? That is a good question. But I tell you, if you find it difficult not to think of yourself, no harm. Only do not think of some other girls or boys and do not become jealous of them. The best thing is to think of God. If you find it difficult, then think of yourself. But if that is not possible, then that is really deplorable. Don't think of others' achievements or others' imperfections.

Now, how can you not think of yourself? You have thought of yourself for the last twenty-three years. By thinking of yourself what have you got? You have become a college graduate and you have a career, that is all. All right, you almost have your Master's degree. But your spiritual brother who is next to you also has his Master's degree. Why is he crying for something else? Is he satisfied with his Master's degree? If you ask him, he will say, "No, no, no." He is not satisfied. He wants something else. Now think of somebody who has his Ph.D. or somebody who is really a great scholar. It may happen that that person actually wants the spiritual life like Dr. Radhakrishnan, who was the President of India. Again, there have been many great scholars who didn't enter into the spiritual life. They cared only for books, books, books. If you enter into these scholars with your own aspiration, you will feel that in this incarnation, although you are only twenty-three years old, you have already got much more joy than they have. If you think of the prayer and meditation that you have done for the last three or four years, you will see that you have received much more joy in the inner worlds. Although you have been jealous of others or some people have said nasty things to you, when you think of your own inner life you will see that you have got at least ten times the real joy, peace, love or light. The depth, the profundity, the intensity of peace that you have felt even for a fleeting second, those scholars or very intellectual people have not felt. I tell you, they have read millions of books, they have written hundreds of books, but the intense joy, the sublime joy of peace that you have felt, if even for a fleeting second in these three years, these so-called scholars have not felt. This I am telling you on the strength of my own realisation. My realisation knows how much joy or how much peace these so-called scholars have got. They have mental satisfaction and they have illumined the world with their mental capacity, let us say; but your inner joy, which is of the heart, can house and feed the entire universe, while their mental achievement can't do it. Mental achievement will not be able to feed even the scholar himself. The person who has got tremendous mental achievement will not be able to feed himself for even a second.

So, by achieving things on the physical plane, on the vital plane or on the mental plane, you can never be satisfied. You are proud of yourself because you have got this degree, which was necessary, absolutely necessary in your case. I told you to study and you did it. But you have to know that here on earth, nothing you get will give you abiding satisfaction. You say, "I want this," but after you get it you see that it does not give you satisfaction. Finally there comes a time when you say, "I have tried in my own way, with my mind's limited capacity. Now let me make surrender to the Will of God, to the Will of the Supreme. Since I have tried my best and I have got the things that I wanted and even then I am not getting lasting satisfaction, let me do something else. Let me ask God to do everything for me. Let Him think of me. I have thought of myself so much. Now I have seen that it is not giving me real joy. Whatever I have asked for, I have received; but I am not getting any lasting satisfaction." That is the time for you to pray to God, to pray to the Supreme and let Him think of you. Say to God, "I have thought of myself; I have made a fool of myself. Now I am praying to you to think of me." At that time God will think of you.

If you allow God to think of you, God is always ready to think of you. But as soon as He comes near you to think of you, He sees that you are already occupied in thinking of others or thinking of yourself. God is a gentleman. If you don't allow Him to enter into you, then He won't break open the door. He may knock at your door; that much He will do, but He won't break the door. He will see that either you have already invited your friends and you have bolted the door or you are all alone and you don't want to have any visitors.

Always feel what you have achieved by thinking of yourself and what you can achieve by thinking of God, by thinking of the Supreme. The best thing is to meditate on Him, through surrender, through devotion and through love; to pray to Him to think of you. He is already doing it, but you have to become conscious of the fact that He is thinking of you. Right now you are under the impression that I think of you once in six months. If you imagine that I think of you only once in six months, then how can you make progress? But if you think, "Every day Guru meditates on me," then you will make the fastest progress. The best thing is to feel: "Since he is a spiritual Master, let us believe him when he says that he has quite a few emanations, quite a few representatives. As he is the representative of the Supreme for us, he also has quite a few inner beings, hundreds of inner beings. Let us believe him. He has kept at least one inner being for me, to meditate for me, to think of me." If you have that kind of faith that I am not fooling you, I am not deceiving you, you will make very good progress. Instead of thinking that I think of you only once in six months, once in a blue moon, if you can think that at least once a day I think of you, then you are bound to make progress. Again, if you think that every hour I think of you then you can make very good progress. The next step is to think, "Every minute he has someone to think of me. His physical mind may not be at all aware of it, but who cares for the physical mind?" Just feel that I have inside me hundreds and millions of inner beings. These inner beings I call emanations. I have many divine soldiers within me, so one of them is always taking care of you. If you have that kind of feeling, then you can make the fastest progress.

The disciples who make the fastest progress are those who think that I think of them more, infinitely more, than they think of me. If they think that I think of them only once in two months and they think of me every minute, every second of their lives, then they are fooling themselves. Nobody is thinking of me that much. But if somebody can feel that I think of him much more than he thinks of me, if not all the time, then he is not deceiving himself. Perhaps the mind does not allow you to feel that I am thinking of you at every moment. You think, "He is now eating, he is not thinking of me. He is now running, he is not thinking of me." But if you feel that, "He has many beings. His physical being may be running, but his inner being is thinking of me," then what you feel is absolutely true for each of those who have accepted me wholeheartedly, who are my real disciples. In your case, you are a real disciple of mine, and you also have one of my inner beings. Like that, all those who are my real disciples do have one. My physical mind may not be at all aware of what you are doing. I need not be aware; it is not necessary at all. If you can make yourself feel that I think of you infinitely more than you think of me, then your progress is bound to be the fastest.

Question: I'm having difficulty accepting some things in my spiritual life.

Sri Chinmoy: From the very beginning, spirituality is acceptance. Spirituality means acceptance of the life that is offered by the Master to the disciples. This is spirituality. When you joined our path, you felt tremendous aspiration and you felt that your Guru was like this or like that. Now you see that your Guru is anything but that. Poor Guru will say, "No, no. I am not like that." You have to accept the Master and the Master's path in his way, not in your way.

Since you are with us, please jump into the sea of reality, the reality that we are trying to identify with. We have had unfortunate experiences with some people. Aspiration they accept, but manifestation they won't accept. Only one or two of these people are still with us and they are not safe in our boat. Needless to say, if they don't accept our path, how can I be satisfied with them? If you are not satisfied with me, then no matter how hard I try, I am not going to be satisfied with you either. I am pulling you or you are pulling me. These people suffer and they make us suffer. We want to see them happy. We are happy with our path, but if we see someone who is unhappy, then we feel miserable.

If you want to remain with us, I wish you to accept our path of manifestation as well as you have accepted our path of aspiration. They are inseparable; they are like the obverse and reverse of the same coin. They must go together, although right now they are puzzling you, confusing you. With our aspiration we do pray and meditate. We hold many meditation meetings. We have different times to meditate for special purposes. If you observe the faces of the disciples, you will feel that they do pray and meditate. Now if manifestation is confusing you, then please feel that it has to be accepted as part and parcel of our life, along with aspiration.

Question: If I do something wrong and ask the Supreme to forgive me, how do I know whether He has forgiven me?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two ways you can know. If you never do that kind of thing again, rest assured that the Supreme has forgiven you, for He has given you the capacity not to do it again. If you have really accepted and received His Capacity, then He has already forgiven you. This is on the practical level. You have done something wrong and you don't want to do it again. You want forgiveness. That means that a higher Power has to come from the Supreme. This higher Power is something that will protect you and give you the capacity not to do the thing again. The Supreme has forgiven you; that is why you are not making mistakes any more.

Another way is to ask your spiritual Master if the Supreme has forgiven you. The Master will be able to tell you. He will be very frank. Or you can go deep within for an hour or half an hour, and then you will be able to tell. Don't allow any thought to enter your mind. Each time a thought comes, kill it; or feel that a fly has sat on you and you have chased it away. When another thought comes, chase it away, too. After a while, the thought-fly will feel that it is beneath its dignity to bother you, so the thought process will stop. After you see that no thought is coming, just ask the question. If the answer is "yes," then He has forgiven you. If it is "no," then He has not forgiven you. So you can do it that way or you can ask your Master. To repeat the first method, when you have stopped doing that very thing for good, then also you will know that He has forgiven you.

Question: Is friendship important in the spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: Some people are striving for friendship, some need friends for their daily fun and amusement. But the best thing for you is to strike a balance. Have a few friends. Two or more are enough. Even if you don't have two friends, inside me is a friend who is more than enough for you. You can talk to that friend and that friend will talk to you, whereas, if other friends are sleeping or someplace else, then you can't talk to them. And even if they are with you, their mind is roaming; so you can't call them friends. If you don't have many friends you are not a loser. So you don't have to go out of your way to make friends; it is not necessary. But if you are ready to make somebody your friend and if that particular person wants to befriend you, then you should not be afraid of mixing with him; that is wrong. It is wrong to avoid someone.

If the disciples are not communicating or not mixing, even though they are members of the same family, then they have to remember that their common root is God. The Source is God, the Supreme. If you don't talk to somebody you are not going to lose your reality and he is not going to lose his reality. But if you don't try to talk to the Supreme within you, then you are losing everything. Your brother and sister disciples didn't come to the Centre for you, and you didn't come to the Centre for them. You and they both came for the Supreme in me. What is important is to go deep within and see if the Supreme cares for you or not. You came to school for the teacher, to please the teacher, so why worry about the students sitting beside you? What matters is how much connection you have established with me in your inner life. Even if you are the worst student and you are sitting beside the best student, you will be examined by the teacher according to your own merit. It doesn't matter who you are sitting next to. The best student may inspire the other students, but he may also create jealousy in them. Or it may happen that the person who is beside you is insecure. He will write his examination and then he will be scared to death. You are jealous of him because he is better than you are, and he is insecure because he feels that you will surpass him. So the best thing is not to look around you. Be responsible for your own spirituality only.

Here you stay in a group. Others may not mix with you the way you want them to, but still you are on speaking terms with them. More than that is not necessary. But there is a bad effect from too much mixing. Let us say you have taken a shower and are about to meditate. At that time you get a phone call from your friend, who asks you to go out to dinner. So you go. But if you hadn't been so close to your friend, it would have been a real blessing for you to meditate.

Here some of the disciples mix too much, but others don't mix at all. It is not because they are afraid of losing something; it is not out of fear. It is because they feel it is not necessary. When you do not want to make friends because you have a feeling of superiority or inferiority, then it is a mistake. But if you feel that you want only inner light, then why should you remain on the surface? In this case it is always advisable to have the inner friend. Outer friends will disappoint you when they are needed. Even your own body, vital and mind will disappoint you. As soon as you get a shock, your mind and your intelligence go away.

Your only real friend is inside you and that real friend won't disappoint you.

Question: Why do we encounter all sorts of problems and difficulties when making preparations for public meditations?

Sri Chinmoy: Anything that is important needs preparation. It all depends on how we take it. If our attitude is good, then there is no hardship at all. It is only divine fun, a divine experience. It is when your attitude is bad that the problem starts. Suppose one day the weather is not good. If we want, we can curse the weather. Then we feel that the weather is very bad. But we can also say, "No, it is excellent weather, for now I don't have to go out; I can stay at home and write poems and songs." In this way, we are taking advantage of the experience of bad weather. If we change our attitude, we will have a great experience, and we will see this experience as another opportunity.

When I worked at the Indian consulate, I used to live in Brooklyn, and it took me an hour and ten minutes, or sometimes even more, to get to work. I went on the subway with the attitude that it was a great opportunity, because then I didn't have to talk to anybody. At the Indian Consulate I had to talk and work eight hours a day. So there for at least an hour and a half I was so lucky. My attitude was that I had an hour and a half in which I was able to meditate. Otherwise, I could have said, "I am so unlucky! I am poor, that is why I have to stay in Brooklyn. It takes me more than an hour and a half to get to work, and I am tired and exhausted even before work starts." If I had had this kind of attitude, it would have tortured me. But instead I said, "I am so lucky — I am getting an hour and a half to meditate here." So it all depends on your attitude.

When you are putting up posters and taking pictures, you can say, "I am so lucky that I am able to prove my sincerity. I am going through these difficulties but I don't consider them as difficulties. I only take them as hurdles." Once you cross one hurdle, you go on to another hurdle. There will be quite a few hurdles to cross before you reach your destination. If there is no hurdle, there is no game. You have to run some distance in order to reach the goal. If the starting point and the goal are the same place, then how can you run the race?

On the highest plane of consciousness, the starting point and the goal are the same. They go together. On the highest plane the starting point is vision and the goal is reality. There, the goal and the vision always go together. You can't separate vision from reality or reality from vision. But here on the physical, vital and mental planes, the goal and the starting point are in two different places. If you are sincere and devoted, you will feel blessings right from the beginning of your journey, because you have sincerely tried. Your sincerity is your reward. If you get sincerity, you get tremendous joy, so please work for it.

Question: I find it so difficult to lose weight.

Sri Chinmoy: God-realisation is not as difficult as losing weight. I have realised God, that's why I can tell you. Losing weight is really difficult. For God-realisation, God's Grace is there. But to lose weight, we starve, we fast. Where does weight come from? No matter what I eat, even if I have taken only twenty calories per day, the extra weight I have stays on for weeks.

If you are proportionate, if your weight is perfect, it adds to your spiritual height. Spiritual Peace, Light and Bliss do not increase your stomach. Don't think of Indian spiritual Masters. We are notorious. All spiritual Masters except one or two have had a wonderful stomach. There is no wisdom there. If we don't take exercise, if we don't pay any attention to what we eat, then how are we going to manifest in the physical? Inwardly we are everything, but in the matter of exercise, we are nothing. It is very unfortunate that many of the spiritual Masters are really great but they don't exercise. Again, they realised God and they will say who cares for earth and the physical being. I will reply: True, your soul will take you to God, your aspiration will tell you about God, but what are you going to do for God? If your body is in a good consciousness, then your earth consciousness, which is in the physical, gets inspiration to lead a higher, better life.

Part V — Obedience or oneness

Obedience or oneness

I am asking this Centre, which is a very well-established Centre, and also other Centres which have been with me for over one year, to please feel the necessity of listening to my requests. My one and only request is that you allow your lower existence to become one with your higher existence. You have to feel that my request is not the request of a third person in your life. My request is coming from above, on the strength of my oneness with the Highest. I come from the higher plane and tell you to do the needful on the lower plane. It is only in this way that you will be able to bring your real reality and divinity to the fore.

To all the Centres I am saying that if I observe disobedience or other undivine qualities on the outer plane, then you will have to forgive me if I make divine retribution. Only in this way will you make very good, very fast progress.

I am not an autocrat and I will never be an autocrat. But if you call me the supreme autocrat I won't dare deny it. I wish to say only that the Supreme in me is trying to perfect you and this is one of the ways that I am doing it. I am not frightening you or threatening you. But I feel that the time has come, especially for the well-established Centres, to do absolutely the right thing. Other Centres which have just started may take their time. But if Centres are well-established, if they have stayed in existence for four or five years, then they have to listen to my request.

Last Saturday disciples came to New York from several distant Centres. In the New York area there are over four hundred disciples. But to my surprise, from these Centres we had only about two hundred people at the meeting. I was really disgusted. This celebration was not only a celebration; it was our offering of aspiration. The human in me felt sad and miserable just because the disciples had not established their oneness with me. I always say that my success and your success are the same, absolutely the same. If you can't feel that, if you feel that my success is my success and your success is your success, all right. What can I do? The proper attitude is that when the father has received some success in a particular field, is it not necessary for all the members of the family to at least come and congratulate the father? But no, my spiritual children are watching television, reading the newspapers or going to a party. I decided to punish these disobedient disciples. But then, in half an hour's time, the compassion in me defeated the justice in me. What can I do?

When I do something on earth, I beg of you to also do something so that your achievement and my achievement will become one. Tonight you have offered me amusement. With utmost sincerity I am telling you that, to me, this amusement, this achievement of yours, is as good as your highest meditation. In your amusement I found something. What is it? It is your oneness with him, with her, with everybody. This is something which you cannot accomplish during your most soulful, powerful meditation. With that kind of samadhi you cannot establish your oneness. But here you are offering me your oneness through comedy — through merrymaking and amusement. Oneness has to be established on every plane of consciousness.

Here you are all brothers and sisters — students. You have to please the teacher, either by meditating very soulfully or by offering the teacher your soulful gratitude or by doing something else that pleases him. If you please me in one way, then rest assured that I will then please you in ten ways. But first you have to claim me. The difficulty is that some of the newer disciples don't claim me. If they did claim me, then immediately they would come whenever we have a function. Quite a few times we have had a most special function and these disciples have known about it for at least eleven days in advance. A few people worked so hard to make it a most spectacular performance. But quite a few disciples did not come to the function. They watched television, or went to visit their friends.

Some of you have come here tonight from distant Centres. Why? What brings you here? It is your love. It is your oneness. People who have come from distant states deserve my most soulful appreciation and admiration. You are showing what oneness is.

Some members of our local Centres either have not come or have come but were able to stay for only a few minutes. There was no real necessity on their part to leave, but they did. They could have come here and spent a few hours meditating with us; but no, they don't do it. They have to do something different. They feel that it is beneath their dignity to mix with every Tom, Dick and Harry. But here they are making a serious mistake. When you can mix with your brother and sister disciples, only then will your realisation take place.

Some of my disciples like to talk about "women's liberation." Liberation is good, extremely good. I fully agree that we need liberation. But spiritual liberation is the one form of liberation which most of you ignore. Your liberation is to be free from your husbands or from the male members of the family. But I wish to say that real liberation is not like that. Real liberation is liberation from separation. If you are separated from your husband, then there is no liberation. If you are separated from your brothers, from your father, from the male members of your family, then there is no liberation. Liberation and separation cannot go together. If you really want liberation, then do not separate yourself from the Oneness-Reality.

If you want to have separation, then you have to separate yourself from ignorance, from the ignorance that has separated you from brothers, husband and parents. Liberation from ignorance is the real liberation, not liberation from such and such a person. If you are really liberated from ignorance, then no individual human being can stand in your way. At that time there will be no masculine, no feminine; everybody will be neuter. Everybody is going on to the one Goal; and this Goal, God, is neither masculine nor feminine. That is why in our Indian Vedanta philosophy we do not call God "He" or "She." We say, "That Thou art."