Philosophy, religion and yoga

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Part I — Discourses

Philosophy, religion and yoga

Philosophy sees the Truth. Religion feels the Truth. Yoga becomes the Truth. God-perfection is the Truth.

Philosophy is in the searching mind. Religion is in the loving heart. Yoga is in the aspiring entire being.

A real philosophy-teacher teaches the outer world. A real religion-teacher loves the inner world. A real yoga-teacher discovers his inseparable oneness with both the inner world and the outer world.

The inner world achieves. The outer world reveals. The inner world achieves God-Height. The outer world reveals God-Depth.

God-Height is soulfully beautiful. God-Depth is beautifully soulful. When a seeker becomes soulfully beautiful, he embodies the cry of continuous self-transcendence. When a seeker becomes beautifully soulful, he reveals constantly the smile of self-transformation.

The human philosophy ignores the animal in us and belittles the human in us. The divine Philosophy accepts the challenges of life, braves the buffets of life and, finally, offers the purpose of life.

The human religion is the song of the unfulfilling, unfulfilled and isolated many. The divine Religion is the dance of the liberating and liberated, fulfilling and fulfilled One in the aspiring many and the many in the immortalising One.

The human yoga needs food because God is great — absolutely great — and powerful — eternally powerful. The divine Yoga needs God because God is good — good in the sound-life of the finite and good in the silence-life of the Infinite.

I have offered, I have received1

What have I offered to my Beloved Supreme? I have offered my Beloved Supreme my soulful cry. What have I received from Him in return? I have received from Him His blessingful Smile.

What have I given to man? I have given man my loving service, my selfless service, my devoted service. What have I received from man in return? I have received from man his suspicion-night.

What am I offering to my Beloved Supreme? 1 am offering my Beloved Supreme my surrender-heart and my gratitude-life. What am I receiving from my Beloved Supreme in return? I am receiving from Him His Satisfaction-Sky.

What am I giving to man? I am giving man my determination-vital. What am I receiving from man in return? I am receiving from man his total indifference.

What shall I offer to my Beloved Supreme? I shall offer my Beloved Supreme my doubting mind. What shall I receive from my Beloved Supreme in return? I shall receive from Him His illumining Assurance.

What shall I give to man? I shall give man my sleepless, untiring body. What shall I receive from man in return? I shall receive from man his deliberate and endless ridicule.

Shall I stop serving mankind? No, never, for mine is not the way to stop. I walk along Eternity's Road, not serving man as such, but serving the Inner Pilot in each individual being.

The Inner Pilot is my own Eternity's All. Him to please in His own Way, in His creation, is my only goal. To love Him and serve Him, what I need is a fleeting aspiration-flame. To love Him and serve Him in mankind, what I need is Eternity's unconditional self-offering. My Lord Supreme, the Author of all Good, wants me to serve Him in all of His creation: in His desire-creation and His aspiration-creation, in His earth-bound creation and in His Heaven-free creation.

It is my bounden duty to love my Beloved Supreme and serve my Beloved Supreme in each member of His creation. Therefore, to the president of this international organisation, I wish to offer my soulful gratitude from the inmost recesses of my heart, for he has given me a golden opportunity to be of devoted service to the hundreds of sincere seekers present this evening. Nothing gives me greater joy, greater satisfaction, than to be of service to my Beloved Supreme in sincere seekers. Therefore, to you, dear president, I am extremely grateful, and to all the sincere seekers who are present here, I am offering my heart of soulful gratitude.

  1. PRY 2. International Fair of Philosophies and Religions, Montreal, 6 April 1978

The Master's smile

If I am kind to you instead of authoritative and autocratic, you feel that you will be inclined to love me more. But if I show you a flood of compassion, love, light and concern, you may misuse it; something more, you may take it as your due. If for two days I give you a smile, on the third day you will feel it is your due. If I smile at you, you think that my smile is your possession. Then, when I don't smile at you, you feel that I am taking away your possession. At that time, your demanding vital comes to the fore and you attack me like anything. But if I do not all the time show you my smiling face, then you will be satisfied with whatever I give to you.

Some disciples do always get my smiling face, and you may feel that they are very lucky. But I wish to tell you that they are tested at every moment. If they misuse my love and compassion, then they are lost in the inner world. But if they use it properly, then they can run the fastest in the inner world. You think it is very easy to assimilate my love-power, my compassion-power, my concern-power. But no, it is very difficult. So don't be jealous of others if they seem to all the time get my smiling face. Just be happy with what I do for you.

First become my lamb. Then I will make you my lion. If you become a lion first, then how will I make you a lamb? First be at my feet; then go up to my heart. Start going up. Otherwise, if you start at the top, you may find yourself just hanging there.

Imitating older disciples

Unfortunately, when the disciples stay with us for three, four, five, six, seven or eight years, they create a kind of vibration or an aura around themselves, so that the new disciples try to imitate them. The new disciples think that those who have been with us for a long time have the right qualities. They feel, "How can these people do anything wrong?" So they try to imitate them and then they don't get the proper inspiration.

Sometimes the new disciples try to flatter the old ones so that they can become close to me. But the new ones cannot become close to me by flattering the old ones; it is absurd. Again, when the new disciples see that some people have stayed with us for several years without making any progress, they feel that their fate will also be the same. They say, "If we stay with Guru for five or six years, then we will also remain full of imperfections, so the best thing is not to follow his path."

When we accept new disciples, we give them an opportunity to walk along our path. The newer disciples may imitate the older ones, but if the older ones are not doing well, then they are ruining the mission. If they can't become an ideal for the new ones, then what good is it for them to stay in our family? In a family there is a father and mother and there are a few other members. The father and mother will expect their eldest son or daughter to take some responsibility and become really good and great so that the little ones can be inspired. Otherwise, the parents have to go on all the time telling all their children what is good and what is bad. But if they can teach their oldest one, then the little ones can learn from him.

When we were sick, my mother used to go to the temple and pray. She would not come to us when we were sick. My sister would take care of us as my mother had taught her to do. If the disciples who have been with us for some time can learn from us, then only can the new ones be inspired by them to increase their aspiration. Otherwise, the old disciples are really creating problems for us. On the one hand, we can't get rid of them; and on the other hand, they do not inspire the new ones. So we are stuck. New disciples come with enthusiasm and joy. They want to run the fastest, but there is nobody to run with them unless the older disciples take the responsibility. The older ones are supposed to teach them, and when they reach a certain standard, then they can come to me. But where do we have that kind of disciple? We have very few disciples who can be a source of inspiration like that.

Group meditation1

When you meditate in a group, I often ask you people to sit in straight lines so that, like a current, you will get my force. But if you are sleeping, how can you receive this force? You cannot sleep and at the same time concentrate, meditate and contemplate. When we meditated just a few minutes ago, five boys ruined the group's meditation by sleeping. Otherwise, the group would have done extremely well. Many girls surrendered to sleep and became lethargic. I think for the first time in our Centre, the boys have done better than the girls. I'm absolutely impartial. This time the boys have really been attentive. This was a good competition. It is like playing a game. If you are a bad player, your presence on the team is a disgrace. If you are a good player, you add your capacity and maintain your team's prestige. Boys, I am begging you. If you are not alert, if you are in the habit of losing your concentration, or sleeping, don't join the contest. If you are sleeping, your presence will decrease the group's points.

As soon as a bad thought comes to your mind, immediately try to get the opposite thought, the antonym. And if you get a good thought and you are unable to continue it, then get a synonym. Suppose divine love has come to you, but you are unable to continue it. Just think of compassion, concern. They fall in the same category. If it is a good thought and you cannot continue it, then try to get another divine thought, something similar. This gives your mind a little relaxation. Otherwise, if your mind has to deal with only one concept, it is difficult. If you can continue with one idea, marvellous. You become strong, stronger, strongest. But if you find it difficult to hold one, then try to get a synonym. This will act like a fresh flower. Of course, it is best of all to have no thoughts at all.

Another secret: If you want something, you have to meditate on it. This is the best way to achieve one particular quality. If you are meditating on peace, then you will get peace. If you want love and if you meditate on love, then you will get that. But when you meditate on the Supreme in me, at that time you will get everything. When you aim for me like an arrow, you can do the best meditation. Peace, love, joy, light — everything you will get. In regular meditation, everyone will have a different approach. If your heart wants peace or joy, you will be knocking at one particular door, whereas another person who wants light and delight will be knocking at another door. Each person will have his own way. But the best way is to knock at my heart's door. That is the best way. Once my heart is open, then you can go to the kitchen, the living room, the study, the meditation room, wherever you want, and you can select whichever quality your heart needs.

  1. PRY 5. Sri Chinmoy delivered these remarks after holding a meditation "contest" between his men disciples and women disciples.

Part II — Question and answers

Question: What should be our attitude towards others in group meditations?

Sri Chinmoy: You should have good feeling for others, a feeling of good will; but don't think of the persons sitting around you. If you think of somebody beside you who is not aspiring at all, then your meditation will be on that person and not on your Master. Keep your concentration on your Master. Do your absolute best, but do not think about trying to surpass so and so. Everybody should try and do his or her best. You have to feel that I am the goal, the target, and that you are aiming an arrow at the target. One disciple's secret for excellent meditation is that she enters into me like a bullet, an arrow. But some of you are searching for the arrow. Others don't even have an arrow, or have misplaced their arrows. That is the trouble. Collective meditation is like team work. On the outer plane, very often you help each other. But in collective meditation it is on the inner plane that you have to score. If ten persons can score at the same time, then the group gets high marks.

Question: When we meditate at home, what percentage of the time should we spend looking at your transcendental picture? Sometimes my eyes hurt from the light, so I just close them.

Sri Chinmoy: I advise my disciples always to keep their eyes a little open when they meditate. It is more convincing and more fulfilling to keep the eyes open. After five, ten or fifteen minutes, if you feel that you have identified yourself with me totally, at that time even if you close your eyes, still you are bound to feel that your eyes are wide open. It is not that you are using your third eye, but your identification with me will be complete. At that time, if you want to keep your eyes closed, you can; but until you have come to that state, it is advisable to keep them open. Let us say that you have meditated for half an hour. If you close your eyes but do not have any deep inner feeling within you, that means the identification is not complete. In some cases, even after the seeker has achieved total identification with me, he does not feel it necessary at all to close his eyes. But if you feel that for relaxation or for extra joy you want to keep your eyes closed, then first establish your oneness with me during your meditation. Then you can keep your eyes closed if you really need to. Otherwise, always keep your eyes open.

When you keep your eyes half open, it is called a lion's meditation. At that time, you are conscious of two worlds: the spiritual world and the physical world. It is not that you are at times on a lower level or on a higher level, no. When you keep your eyes half open while meditating, you are seeing the highest level of consciousness and at the same time you are trying to transform the earth-consciousness.

If you keep your eyes wide open and you are only conscious of what is happening here around you, then if a cat is walking around the room, immediately your concentration is gone and you are lost. Again, if you keep your eyes closed while meditating, you may think that you have meditated for twenty-four hours while all the time you have really been sleeping. At night if you keep your eyes closed and just lie down on your bed to meditate, you may think that you had a most sublime meditation, that you entered into trance. No, far from it. You have to know that there is a great difference between sleep and meditation. Self-deception may overtake you when you meditate with your eyes closed. There are many ways you can fool yourself and convince yourself that you had a wonderful meditation. But if you keep your eyes half open, then at that time you become the true judge.

Question: Why should the eyes be only half open?

Sri Chinmoy: If they are totally open, wide open, then you will be straining yourself and you will feel pressure. If they are half open, then you will be communicating both with the higher worlds and with the earth-world. So half open is always the best.

Question: Are you happy when we meditate well?

Sri Chinmoy: When you do good meditation, my heart is dancing with joy and pride. When you do bad meditation, three things operate in me. The animal in me tells me to bring an iron rod and do the needful: beat your heads. The human in me says, "Don't look at them; just go away." The divine in me says, "Where are you going? Since you have taken responsibility for their lives, you have to look at them; you have to show equal concern, affection and compassion to the bad ones as to the excellent ones. They too are your children." So I do the divine. I am ruled by three things, but the divine always wins out. The divine in me will eternally win out. But when you don't have a good meditation, I feel sad. I expect all of you to get one hundred out of one hundred.

Question: Did we meditate to our capacity during the function?

Sri Chinmoy: You received as much as possible according to your capacity. During the meditation I brought down Peace, Light, Bliss and all divine qualities. There was no divine quality which I did not bring down. There were times when I was so proud of my children because they were receiving a large portion of what I was bringing down. If somebody receives what you offer, then you feel proud and happy. If you give me a dollar and I gladly take it, then your joy doubles. You are happy first of all because you have it; then you are happy because you have found someone who appreciates its value and claims it as his very own. So I was very pleased with your receptivity-power during the meditation.

Question: I'm going back to Venezuela soon. How can a disciple feel from a distance the same force or magnetism that he feels when he is meditating with you?

Sri Chinmoy: The Master cannot be physically with his disciples twenty-four hours a day; it is impossible. The Master has many disciples and also many things to do. Again, a disciple may actually stay with the Master twenty-four hours a day, but he may not receive anything from him. Ramakrishna's nephew served Ramakrishna for many, many years, but he got practically nothing from Ramakrishna. He did quite a few wrong things and even tried to steal from Ramakrishna, and he was finally turned away. Again, look at Vivekananda. He did not stay with Ramakrishna twenty-four hours a day; far from it. He used to come to Ramakrishna once in two or three months, and then he did not stay for many days at a time.

So it is not the physical proximity that counts most; it is the inner awareness of one's relationship with the Master. Where is the Master? Is he in New York or is he inside the disciple's heart? The disciple has to feel that the Master is something very sacred and spontaneous in his life. He has to feel that just as he cannot exist without his heartbeat, even so he cannot exist without the Master. If he feels these things, and if he feels the necessity of pleasing the Master in everything he does, then only is his relationship with the Master secure and complete.

When you go back to Venezuela, you have to feel that you are carrying me inside your heart, not that you have left me in New York. You have to feel that my real existence is not in only one part of the world. No, you have to feel that my inner existence is everywhere. My outer existence, my physical body, which is five feet eight inches tall, can stay at only one place, but my inner existence can travel to many places. You have to feel the necessity of an inner relationship, an inner connection with my heart and soul. Then only will you be able to make the utmost progress.

Again, if a true, sincere disciple has already established his inner connection with the Master, if he has established a totally intimate and most surrendering and surrendered relationship, and if he stays near the Master, then naturally he will be able to get more benefit. His inner life is already one with the Master and now his outer life is crying to become one with the inner. So naturally he will get a double push and progress infinitely faster.

But very often we see that familiarity breeds contempt. When you speak to the Master and stay around him, cutting jokes and all that, immediately you will say, "He is also like us." But actually the Master is not like an ordinary seeker. In the outer world he may also eat the same food, walk and talk and do everything as you do. But he also can do quite a few things in the inner world which you cannot do. That is why his inner existence has to be approached and adored before his outer existence, and not vice versa. If you have pleased the Master inwardly, then rest assured it is only a matter of a short time before you can please the Master in the outer life as well.

In the outer life, if the Master says: "I would like some stamps," immediately you go to the Post Office and bring back some stamps. Or if he says, "I want to go to a nice place," immediately you will take him. But this kind of connection will not help you considerably in your progress if the inner connection is not complete. If the inner connection is complete, and if I say: "Please take me to the beach," then if a good disciple takes me, he makes me happy. But if he had not already made the inner connection with me, then what happens? Outwardly I want to go to the beach, let us say, and he takes me. So these two hours of our connection may give peace, or harmony or some kind of mutual joy or gratification. Again, at the end of two hours, all vanishes. But in the inner world, when somebody meditates and thinks of me for five minutes and when he offers his life breath and says, "Guru, I am giving this to you," then this lasts forever. This one breath which is offered to your Guru can breathe again and again for you in the outer world. At that time you have fulfilled me and I have fulfilled you.

Question: Can we chant 'Aum' inwardly without saying it out loud?

Sri Chinmoy: It is quite possible. As a matter of fact, I do it very often. Sometimes when I stand in front of you people, I do not chant the sound 'Aum' aloud, but I produce the sound here, right in my heart, the real home of the soundless sound. Sometimes I can hear the sound louder, even more powerfully perhaps, than the noise of a plane crash!

Question: Sometimes when I am meditating, I experience the demanding vital.

Sri Chinmoy: When you demand something, you have to feel that you are acting like a beggar woman. A beggar begs, "Give me a nickel, give me a dollar." When a beggar begs, he always expects. In his mind there is always the hope that he will get five cents or ten cents or one dollar. Although he is begging, there is a demanding attitude inside his begging.

But if you act like a princess, you don't deal with one dollar or two dollars or three dollars. You always feel that the whole treasure of the king belongs to you. If you feel that the Source is more than ready to give you everything, then there is no demand. To demand means to try and snatch a portion of the reality from the rest of the infinite Reality. So don't demand, don't demand; only throw yourself into the Vast.

Question: You've said several times that coffee and tea are bad for the spiritual life. But if we're driving late at night and feel drowsy, what should we do?

Sri Chinmoy: You know that coffee and tea are slow poison. They just take a little longer time to kill you. So if you take coffee and tea, you have to be careful. Then again, you may have some power to hold off their bad effects. And if it is very slow poison and if your body fights against it, then you may win the battle. But you must not drink coffee and tea unless you are certain of your power to fight against this so-called poison. You say that sometimes you feel drowsy and you feel that it is perilous to drive in that condition. Why should only coffee or tea come to the rescue in your life? I have spoken before about other ways to awaken yourself, spiritual ways. Please try other ways.

Question: What is the difference between dynamism and aggression?

Sri Chinmoy: While you walk through the city, you can elbow people, you can push this way and that and you can strike someone. Then you will feel that you are very smart. This is aggression. But dynamism does not mean that you will elbow your way through a crowd. On the contrary, dynamism means only that you will be very wise and you will not lose any opportunity to manifest the Supreme. Aggression comes from the physical vital, but dynamism comes from the illumined vital.

Question: What is the relationship between humility and surrender?

Sri Chinmoy: Total humility comes first. Humility is the best thing, but even in humility there is a sense of two persons: "I am humble to somebody else." In real surrender, there is no superiority; each one is the other's own illumined part. Unconditional surrender is infinitely more important than divine humility. Many people who are humble may not aspire for the light that they will immediately get from unconditional surrender. Humility can have tremendous devotion, but the cheerfulness of oneness is not there. In unconditional surrender, whatever the Master says, the individual will do immediately and cheerfully. Surrender means real oneness.

Question: I have sometimes awakened in the morning feeling a very high state of elation and tremendous unity, although nothing has taken place in my conscious mind. I was wondering if there is work that takes place on the spiritual plane at night that we are not aware of.

Sri Chinmoy: If you were not aware of it at one point, you could not have asked me about it now. Something does take place, and when you actually have the experience, at that time you are aware of it.

There are many planes of consciousness. It is like a ladder. After the experience you came down through various descending rungs. Right now there is no link between the last rung and the rung on which you had the experience. Now you are in the physical consciousness, which is where most of us remain during the day. So the experience that you had in the inner world cannot function properly, since the physical consciousness in most cases does not have a free access to the plane of consciousness where the experience occurred. Only when the physical consciousness is surcharged with the divine light can it have a free access to all the planes of consciousness.

Question: How can we continually aspire for spiritual purity?

Sri Chinmoy: When an individual does not have purity, then he is in no way better than an undivine, aggressive, strangling animal. If you can sincerely feel this, then you are bound to make progress in achieving spiritual purity. See what an individual is when he does not have purity, and then see what he is and what he can be when he has purity. If somebody has been without purity for one week, and the following week he starts developing or crying for purity, then he himself can be the observer or judge. Immediately he will see the difference. When he makes the comparison, he will see that the first week he was leading an animal life and the second week he was leading the life of a saint.

Always try to make a comparison: what you were and what you are and what you are going to become. Just compare yesterday's impure life to today's pure life. When you see the yawning gulf, the enormous distance between the two, automatically the strength of your purity increases. You have to know what you were before you accepted the spiritual life and what you have become and are going to become by walking along the spiritual path. It was a little bit of inner purity that brought you to the spiritual life and, as your purity increased, your progress in the spiritual life also increased. We were animals, we are human and we are going to become divine all by virtue of our inner purity. In this way you can feel the importance of purity in the spiritual life, and if you feel its importance, you are bound to aspire for it.

Question: It seems that God loves you more than He loves Himself.

Sri Chinmoy: If you consider God on the physical, vital, mental or psychic plane, or any other plane except His own highest plane, then He will have more love for me than for Himself. Where there is a sense of separativity between God and me, and I am even one inch lower than He is, then He will have more love for me, because I am His child. A mother has more love for her child than for herself.

The Creator has more love for the creation than for Himself. But if the Creator feels that He and His creation are of the same standard, that He and His creation are inseparably one, at that time you cannot separate them; you cannot say who is loving whom more. The Supreme is loving me more when I pray to my highest Consciousness. But when I enter into my highest Consciousness, at that time there is no difference between the Supreme and me, for we are totally one.

Question: Guru, do you like it when we appreciate you?

Sri Chinmoy: I do not need human appreciation. When you are one with the Supreme, you receive all love and appreciation from Him.

I do not need human appreciation. But when my disciples appreciate me, at that time they enter into me with joy and love, and this gives me joy. Also, with their joy and love they can manifest the Highest.

Question: What is consciousness?

Sri Chinmoy: Consciousness is the connecting link between earth and Heaven. It is found inside the physical body, the subtle body and the causal body. Consciousness and the soul are like twin brothers; or you can say that the soul is ice and consciousness is water. Ice and water go together. This moment it is ice; next moment it is water. Consciousness can be earth-bound or Heaven-bound, limited or unlimited. Consciousness is like a drop in the ocean. If we want to separate the drop from the ocean, we can. But we have to know that it is the drops that have made the ocean. If we take away the countless drops, then there is no ocean at all. Inside the drop, we see the consciousness of the ocean. If we touch the drop, then immediately we will feel the consciousness of the water. So the drop and the vast ocean go together. Consciousness can be like the drop; again, it can be a big wave and it can be the ocean itself.

Consciousness is always immortal. After death, naturally there is consciousness, because consciousness is just like a flow. Sometimes it goes very rapidly; sometimes it goes very slowly. But consciousness does not die. It may progress in some cases very slowly; sometimes its progress is not satisfactory. But consciousness never dies; it is always progressing.

Question: What is perfect perfection?

Sri Chinmoy: If we say that someone's body is perfect, then we are just giving an overall view. But when we say "perfect perfection," it means that each cell is perfect; everything that is inside that body is perfect. Perfect perfection is the perfection of the entire being. Whatever the being has and whatever the being is, is perfect.

Part III — Interview

PRY 23-41. On 7 November 1977 Sri Chinmoy was interviewed by a reporter from the San Francisco Examiner. This is the transcript of the interview.

Examiner: Do you have any disciples in India?

Sri Chinmoy: Here in America I have four or five Indian disciples. But I do not have any spiritual Centre in India. I have quite a few admirers and followers in India, but I do not consider them to be my actual disciples.

Examiner: A few weeks ago I interviewed Baba Ram Das, and he contended that the spiritual teachers Americans get come here for a different reason than the spiritual teachers the Indians get. In this country we get the people who are still attached to power or wealth or the idea of doing a lot of good for a lot of people, which is still an attachment, he claimed. What is your comment on that?

Sri Chinmoy: What he thinks, he will say. I will say what I know. I am not trying to contradict his philosophy, but I know much better than anybody else does what I am and what I stand for. I have no idea why other spiritual Masters have come to the West. It is up to the individuals to answer this statement. In my case, I definitely listened to the dictates of my Inner Pilot. He wanted me to be of service to Him in the sincere seekers in the Western world, who are my spiritual brothers and sisters. He is like a father. A father has every right to have many homes, and if the father wants a particular son of his to go to some other house, and help or serve him inside the aspiration of his other children, then he is perfectly entitled to do so. And the son who is devoted to the father must listen to him. So America is one home of our Father Supreme, India is one home; Russia is one home; Japan is one home. All the countries are homes of our Eternal Father. And being the Father, He has every right to ask His children to move from one home to another to help His other children.

Examiner: How did you get involved with the United Nations?

Sri Chinmoy: I had a student who worked at the United Nations. She spoke to the authorities and got permission for me to be of service to the United Nations by conducting meditations there. There are now over eighty seekers who attend these meetings. They are delegates, diplomats and U.N. staff. Twice a week we pray and meditate there. Sometimes I give talks and answer spiritual questions.

Examiner: I understand you recently met with Mrs. Lillian Carter. What was the reason for your visit?

Sri Chinmoy: The reason was very simple. She was in India for two years, and she is extremely sympathetic towards India. The suffering India, the poverty-stricken India, has received considerable compassion and assistance from her. Therefore, I wished to offer her my personal gratitude for what she has done for India.

Examiner: I understand that you don't accept everyone who wants to be your disciple. But you do want to get the word out to those who might want to be. Is that it?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, certainly. This world belongs to the Supreme, and He has many spiritual children who are in a position to be of help to sincere seekers. Now, there are some seekers who will be able to go much faster if they take help from somebody else, rather than from me. If I just accumulate them and keep them in my family for the sake of numbers, their progress will not be satisfactory, so I would be doing an act of injustice to their souls. But the ones who are meant for our path should be encouraged and accepted, for they will make the fastest progress on this path. I will never say that if somebody cannot follow our path, he is not spiritual, or he is not a sincere seeker. Far from it. But they are also my spiritual brothers, and if I know that by following some other path, they will go much faster, then I should advise them to follow that path. I want everybody to reach the Goal as soon as possible.

Examiner: Are you familiar with some of the more popular spiritual paths from the East that people are following in this country?

Sri Chinmoy: Familiar in the sense that I have read about them and heard a little about them from some seekers. But I am not in direct contact with other Masters, either inwardly or outwardly. Only I have a close connection with Pir Vilayat Khan, the head of the Sufi order. We are good friends.

Examiner: He was here recently.

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, I think he was. But I have regard for all the sincere spiritual Masters.

Examiner: Do you think there are a lot of people who will claim to be Masters, but who aren't?

Sri Chinmoy: In this world there are good people and bad people. In God's creation there is day and there is night. But I am not in a position to say who are good teachers and who are bad teachers. Only I wish that the sincere seekers will get the good teachers. If they are really sincere, they will not remain with false teachers.

Examiner: How is someone to know who's good and who isn't?

Sri Chinmoy: Well, there are a few easy ways to recognise a false Master. If somebody says that he will be able to grant you God-realisation overnight, in the twinkling of an eye, then you have to discard that Master. Nobody can realise God overnight or in a matter of days or weeks. And if somebody says that he will be able to grant you God-realisation if you give him a large sum of money, this is absurd. Like that, a few people claim that they will be able to teach you realisation or spiritual powers for a sum of money. If they make it sound like instant tea or coffee, then it is absurd. Those teachers are undoubtedly not real ones.

Examiner: I've often heard lineage mentioned as an important characteristic for a teacher — that a teacher has to have had a teacher.

Sri Chinmoy: He who was the first to realise God, whom did he get as his teacher? It is good to have a teacher, but it is not absolutely indispensable. I always advocate having a teacher. A spiritual Master is like a private tutor. He teaches the student privately so that he will pass the ignorance-test, not fail it. So it is good to have a spiritual Master, but it is not obligatory. There are many who have realised God without having spiritual Masters. But if you get a good one, it is very good; you are lucky.

Examiner: How do you find time to accomplish so much in the way of artistic creation — all the paintings, all the writings, all the compositions?

Sri Chinmoy: It is all through unconditional divine Grace. My human mind will not believe it. I will be the first one to doubt it and suspect it. But it is the unconditional Grace that acts in and through me. I am not the doer. Had I been the doer, I would not have accomplished so many things. But I constantly try to be a simple, devoted instrument of my Beloved Supreme. On the strength of my receptivity, my Beloved Supreme acts in and through me.

Examiner: How many hours sleep do you get each night?

Sri Chinmoy: Sometimes two and a half hours, sometimes three, sometimes more, sometimes less. Sometimes for days and weeks I don't actually sleep.

Examiner: What about food?

Sri Chinmoy: I am a strict vegetarian. Of course, some people will say that if you take eggs, then you are not a strict vegetarian. I do take eggs and milk, but I do not eat any meat, fish or fowl.

Examiner: Do you do any kind of physical practice of Hatha Yoga, or is that not part of your path?

Sri Chinmoy: No, Hatha Yoga is not part of my path. But I do advise my students to take exercise. Physical fitness considerably helps us in our spiritual journey, so I ask them to run. Recently about one hundred of my disciples ran in the marathon in New York City. I do advise them to run.

Examiner: Your background is athletic too, as I recall?

Sri Chinmoy: I was a champion sprinter and decathlon champion in the community where I lived. According to Indian standards, I was quite good, but according to the world standard I was nowhere.

Examiner: So you've always had this interest in athletics?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. It helps us. If we are physically fit, then early in the morning we will be able to get up and meditate. But if we constantly suffer from headache, stomach upset and other physical ailments, then we will not be inclined to get up early in the morning to pray and meditate. We will tend to be lazy and lethargic. Spiritual progress requires dynamism, so physical fitness helps us considerably in our spiritual life.

Examiner: Is it possible to be artistically creative without being spiritual?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. Some creative people have free access to the inner world of creativity, but if they are not spiritually aspiring, they are not aware of it. But the spiritual people are bound to be aware of whatever they are doing in their everyday life. Whether they are painting or singing or writing, they will be aware of the depths and the heights of their existence-reality-life. Those who are creative without being spiritual will often find that their creativity is not at their command. That is to say, they cannot create at their sweet will. But those who are consciously aspiring will find that their creative inspiration is tremendously increased, and also that they can invoke the inspiration-bird to come to them whenever they need it.

Examiner: On your path, do you expect that after a certain amount of time the disciple will achieve enlightenment? I think traditionally a disciple is taught for twelve years, and then he graduates or something.

Sri Chinmoy: Our Indian spiritual institutes have four orders of life; four different stages we call it. After childhood the first twelve years is student life. Then the seekers enter another phase. They accept earthly life and become householders. Then after twelve years they go into the forest to lead the spiritual life most seriously, and after twelve years of that they become renunciates. First student life, then householder's life, then proper spiritual life, then renunciation-life. But I feel that everything can be done in one life. There is no need to separate them in this way. If you can pray and meditate soulfully, you don't have to go through these traditional four stages of life.

Examiner: Do you expect that you will be able to produce enlightened disciples?

Sri Chinmoy: I do expect it. If we can't produce enlightened disciples, then how can we succeed? But this is not my mission; this is not my vision. I am merely an instrument of my Beloved Lord Supreme. It is His Mission and His Vision. Similarly, He will make instruments of those who are right now my students. He will grant them illumination, liberation and realisation, which He has already given to me out of His infinite Bounty. I prayed, I cried; so He granted me this boon. Similarly, if my students are sincerely trying, then at God's choice Hour, He will grant them the same boon.

Examiner: Is there anything you'd like to tell me that we haven't gone into?

Sri Chinmoy: I think we have covered everything. This has been a fruitful interview. I am extremely grateful to you for your kind questions, and I am sure many, many people will derive spiritual benefit from our interview.

Examiner: Thank you very much.