Politics and spirituality: can they go together?

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Part I — Politics and social action

Question: What shape is our manifestation taking politically?

Sri Chinmoy: Politically we are not in the forefront, but our aspiration is entering into politics for the illumination of political minds. Outwardly, politicians do not want to receive light, so we are trying to give it silently. We feel that politics as such is far from perfect and needs illumination; therefore, inwardly and silently we are trying to do the needful according to our capacity.

Question: When people come to you with political problems, how do you advise them?

Sri Chinmoy: I do not do that. I tell them that I am not competent to speak on politics. My forte is spirituality, so whoever comes to me should come with the idea of learning how to concentrate, meditate and contemplate. I am a perfect stranger to politics, but I know something about spirituality, Yoga and inner illumination. On the strength of my own realisation, I speak to them on what I know. When they come to me with political questions, I say I am the wrong person to answer them.

Question: Can a spiritual aspirant participate actively in politics?

Sri Chinmoy: Very often we hear the word "politics," and it is followed by "a dirty business." People say, "Politics is a dirty business." There is considerable truth in this. There is very little light, practically no light, in the political world. Politics is wanting in light because it is wanting in true sacrifice. It is only a kind of competition that is going on between parties which are equally bad. Naturally, one of them will win eventually.

If we feel that we will be able to change the face of the world by the path of politics, then we are sadly mistaken. Nothing can change the face of the world save and except inner aspiration. Inner aspiration only is of paramount importance, especially for the seekers of the Truth. Those who want to take an active part in politics will undoubtedly lose their purest aspiration for God.

God is in everything; so naturally God is also in politics. But we have to know how we can best approach God. It is our aspiration that will lead us directly to the Highest. Once we reach the Highest, then the highest Supreme Himself will take us into the heart of humanity.

I am not telling you to stop voting. No, far from it. But the most important thing is to make your inner choice. The spiritual aspirants have to vote for the divinity within themselves. When that divinity tells them what to do, they have to do it. Then, no matter what happens in the outer life, in the political world, the seeker has to be satisfied.

Who will solve the problems of your country? Not this party or that party. It is you who will solve the problems of your country, and not a political leader. Your aspiration for humanity will be able to save not only America, but the entire world. Each one of you here has that burning flame of aspiration. When your aspiration climbs up to the highest and then climbs down to kindle the ignorant world, then only will the world become a better place.

A sincere, genuine seeker must be careful of how much he is involved in politics. Spirituality, inner life and inner discipline are his first and foremost business. There are billions of people in the world who can be involved in politics, since they are not involved in spirituality. But sincere aspirants should remain far above the world of politics, in the Lap of the Supreme. There they will constantly grow into light, peace, bliss, confidence and universal harmony.

Question: If someone is in the spiritual life and he wants to help humanity, should he get involved in politics?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know that the politics which we see right now is millions of miles away from true spirituality. There is very little light or truth in politics. There everybody wants to play the role of the leader. Everybody makes empty promises. The politicians say that when they become the leader, they will transform the face of the world. Then, when they become the leader, consciously or unconsciously they become victims of undivine forces. They are at the mercy of these forces, and then you cannot trust them.

When you are in the spiritual life and you feel like helping humanity, first of all you should try to know how you can help humanity. Now, you may say that everybody has the right to help humanity according to his capacity. But in the spiritual life, you will see that how you do something is important and, at the same time, when you do that thing is also important. When the inner being tells you to help someone, at that time your help will be well received. Otherwise, no matter how sincerely you want to help humanity, humanity will not receive your help. You may send your light to society, but society will not receive it. It is not that you cannot give; you do give, but society cannot receive.

When one follows the spiritual life and goes deep within, then God tells him when the time is ripe for him to help humanity. When God wants a spiritual person to be His instrument to help humanity or a particular society, then the help is bound to be received. Otherwise, in the name of helping humanity, we see that we are only feeding and aggrandising our ego.

A spiritual person or seeker wants to help humanity. God has given him love and a big heart. But God wants him to wait for His Hour, for the opportune time. Spirituality must help humanity and society, but this help has to come when God commands. Otherwise, if you have fifty dollars and you just start giving it away, then you might give it to the wrong person. Then you will only create more problems for him.

Question: Since you are familiar with the United Nations, don't you feel that there is a lot of injustice that takes place there? They are just helping the rich countries to become richer and the poor countries to become poorer.

Sri Chinmoy: I am not at all involved in the politics at the United Nations. I am involved only in the aspiration. I do not deal with the politics of the politicians, diplomats and delegates. I do not discuss with them anything about their political activities. I go there only to pray and meditate. There are some people at the United Nations who feel that the way we are trying to bring about peace — through prayer and meditation — is the right way. But on the political level I have no voice. My way is the way of prayer and meditation. I am not involved in any political activities.

Question: But when you see that something is wrong there, don't you think that they must learn from your spirituality to do something more useful?

Sri Chinmoy: If somebody does not do something the same way I do, I will not say that he is doing it wrong. The human mind may say that it is wrong, but the heart will say that only he is having an experience. My job is to do what God has asked me to do, what God has inspired me to do. It is not my job to judge what other people are doing. You may say that they are doing something wrong, but I will say that it is not up to me to judge them. I will only judge my own spiritual life to see whether or not I am doing the right thing. I do not judge the United Nations. I do not judge you. I do not judge anybody on earth. Only I try to listen to the inspiration and aspiration that I get from within. What others are doing is not my concern. If God sees that they are doing something wrong, then God will correct them at His choice Hour. But a spiritual person does not make a judgement. Only God can judge.

God is having one experience in and through you, and He is having another experience in and through me. How can I say that someone at the United Nations is doing the wrong thing whereas I am doing the right thing? As I said before, my inner prayer is the right thing for me. But someone else feels that the right thing for him is political discussion. You say that the delegates at the United Nations are not helping the poor people and that they are only making the rich richer. This is what you have observed, so you are at perfect liberty to say it. But since I am not involved in the outer activities of the United Nations, I do not want to say whether or not they are doing something wrong. They are doing what they feel is best right now. They may be wrong, or they may be right, but I am not in a position to judge the United Nations activities. I am only in a position to judge my own sincerity. I am only responsible for whether or not I am sincere when I come to the United Nations to pray and meditate.

Question: What makes us believe that the Vietnam War was our ignorance?

Sri Chinmoy: If it was not our ignorance, then what else was it? Whether a country becomes communist or not is God's problem. It is up to Him to resolve the problem if something is wrong. I have no right to tell you that your path is wrong as long as you have faith in your path. Even if you do not have faith in what you are doing, it is not my right to impose my views. When children are grown up, I have no right to tell them what they should do and what they should not do. Only when they are absolutely infants can I tell them. God's Will is to have peace, unless every other way has failed. This is what happened in the Kurukshetra War. Krishna had the divine, eternal Vision and knew what was going to happen. The present political leaders do not have this vision. Krishna tried in every possible way to avoid the war, but when it was a hopeless case, he allowed it to take place. But we cannot compare ourselves with Krishna.

What is within us should come forward. Let us reach our goal according to our understanding and let others reach their goal according to their understanding. To impose our goal on others is always a mistake.

Question: What do people see in Communism?

Sri Chinmoy: People often feel that anything that is new is good. But what is new can also be destructive. Some people feel that Communism is good because they are sick of corruption. Unfortunately, Communism will also give them that. In the theoretical world, Communism may be very idealistic. It says that whatever we have is for everyone to share. But this is only a play of words. In reality we see that Communism is not like that at all.

Question: Will there ever come a time when we won't have wars?

Sri Chinmoy: It will come when you and your husband and your daughter and everybody else realise God. Then, all the realised souls have to come down to earth together. Only then will there be no wars.

Question: Why are people getting worse instead of better?

Sri Chinmoy: I hear this question often from elderly people, but I have to be very frank. Has there been any time on earth when there was no conflict, no fighting, no war? From the very beginning of civilisation there has been fighting. At the start of the Mahabharata period they were fighting and later, in the time of the Greek and Roman civilisations, there was also constant fighting. Conflict has always existed on earth.

Our remote forefathers stayed in the forests and jungles. They used to hunt and fight. They did everything like the animals. Spiritually we have evolved from the animal kingdom, but still we are fighting, quarrelling and killing. We feel that the world is getting worse. We hear from our parents, from our friends, from our relatives and from the newspapers that the world is about to break into pieces. But actually it is not like that. The world is not getting worse and, at the same time, the world is not going to be destroyed. The atom bomb, the hydrogen bomb, all the bombs can be used; but the entire universe can never be destroyed or broken into pieces. People say that destruction took place in the past. They say that Atlantis was totally destroyed. Yes, some parts of the world were destroyed, but not the entire world.

Just yesterday we were talking about your mother. Your mother knows how to swim well, but you do not know how. You are afraid of the waves. Your mother will immediately jump into the water. Inside the waves she becomes one with the ocean, so she has no fear. But you will be terribly afraid that the waves will take you away. You will be scared to death because you feel that if you jump into the waves, you will die.

On the surface big waves are surging, but when you go deep inside the water, you see that it is all calm, quiet and tranquil, absolutely tranquil. The world is like the ocean. People think that if they enter into the world, then the world will devour them. They see the world from the outside, with their human eyes, and they are horror-struck. From a distance the world looks very bad, ugly and dirty. But the moment we go deep within, we see only one person and that is God. If the reality in everyone is God, then the outer things that we see can never be disturbing.

Nothing is actually getting worse. The outer situation may be bad, the world-consciousness may be low, but the consciousness of some individuals is going up. If we see God in His multiple creation, then we have to feel that the world is progressing. The real progress is inside, and this progress gradually comes to the fore. So if we see the totality of the entire world, we will not say that it is getting worse. No, the world is aspiring. One corner, perhaps, may want to fight, quarrel, damage and destroy, but the inner consciousness of the entire world cannot go downward. It cannot go downward because God Himself is pushing the earth-consciousness upward. If God is pushing us towards the light, then eventually we have to see the light. Right now we are like unruly elephants running to this side and that side. But a day will dawn when we shall become like very faithful and devoted dogs. We shall follow the lead of God.

When you enter into the world of conflict, you feel sad and disturbed. But you must go deep inside it. There you will find much peace, much joy, much light. Then you should try to bring these inner qualities to the fore and give them to the world. At that time you will see that the world is not bad; it was your wrong understanding that made you feel that the world was bad.

If you do not know how to deal with the world, then the world is very bad. The world-ocean is very bad for you right now because now you do not know how to swim well. But for those who have realised Truth, Peace, Light and Bliss in infinite measure, the world is not an object of fear or terror. For them the world is a happy challenge. Let us face the challenge and enter into the waves. There we shall feel our true identity. With a little insight we see that it is all oneness, all joy.

Question: How is it that if the spiritual force is so strong, the world seems to be such a disastrous place?

Sri Chinmoy: The spiritual force is strong, but how many people on earth are accepting the spiritual force? How many people want it? Divine love is a spiritual force, the mightiest force. But how many people want divine love? People want love in order to possess someone or something. The love that possesses is not divine love. The world always thinks of "I". Each individual thinks of "I", "I", "I". How many individuals can soulfully feel oneness? The moment we transform "I" into "we", we will see that the world is automatically changed.

The divine forces always give us the message of unity, but we do not listen. God has given us all a tongue; so we just talk and talk and talk about spirituality instead of trying to practise it. For those who have not realised the Truth, their talk is just talk. In my case, I have realised the Truth, but even when I talk, I can only give you a very small portion of my realisation. When I give talks, I am only convincing your mind of the basic truths of the spiritual life. But when I meditate, at that time I can give my peace, my love, my blessings, my spiritual power. When it is a matter of peace, light and bliss, you can receive them only through meditation. The spiritual force can only be achieved through inner silence, through meditation.

So to come back to your question, out of billions of people on earth, how many people are aspiring? We have a few spiritual Centres and other Masters have Centres, but still there are billions of people on earth who are not aspiring. The number of people who are not aspiring is infinitely greater than the number who are aspiring. So the divine force is there, but it has to be accepted, welcomed and embraced. First a few people will accept the spiritual force, but eventually everybody will accept it. Then the undivine hostile forces will be outnumbered and illumined. Most of the world now has accepted undivine forces rather than the natural, normal divine force. We should try to feel that the divine force, the divine light, is the normal, natural force, and the human forces, the physical forces and the other undivine forces that we have accepted are abnormal and unnatural.

Question: With all the great suffering and poverty in the world, should we not all be directing our lives towards social and political action? Otherwise, if we only develop ourselves in a spiritual direction, through meditation and prayer, are we really fulfilling ourselves fully?

Sri Chinmoy: Each one has a way of serving the world. Somebody may enter into politics because he feels that politics is the only way to save mankind or to solve all human problems. Again, there will be someone who feels that only the inner life can cure the maladies of millennia. He feels that if he can enter into the inner life, and go to the very root of human problems, then he will be able to cure the suffering of humanity.

A seeker feels that since God is within him and since God is all Love, all Compassion, all Joy, all Power, it is best to invoke God first. Since God is all Power, He can solve the problems of society. If I want to serve or illumine mankind or put an end to world suffering, then I must go to someone who is in a position to give me the capacity and that someone is God. With my limited strength, if I enter into politics or into any kind of social activities with the thought that I will be able to save humanity, then I am mistaken. A seeker knows and feels that the capacity which he has right now is very limited, next to nothing. So he wants to enter into the Unlimited, from which he can get a boundless supply of Peace, Light and Bliss. These divine qualities he will then offer to the world at large, for he feels that this is the only way he can be of real service to mankind.

Others have their own views. The politicians and so-called social reformers will justify their methods. But we are spiritual people. We feel that our Lord Supreme has all Power, and if we please Him in His own Way, then He will grant us the boon supreme, which is illumination. And once we are illumined, we will be in a position to illumine the rest of the world most effectively.

Question: If somebody feels that he is doing something for his community or for mankind, but at the same time he feels that what he's doing is slowing him down in his aspiration, what should he do?

Sri Chinmoy: If he is insincere, if he is just showing off in the name of helping people, if it is not God within him but his ego that is compelling him to try to help people, then he has to change his attitude. You can serve someone with true devotion because you want to please God, or you can do that very same service just to feed your ego. If you are doing it just to feed your own ego, then it is worse than useless. In that case, it is a serious mistake and it will delay your own progress.

The best thing is to get the inner command about whether or not you are authorised to help your community. If you feel that the answer is yes, then the next thing is to do your part devotedly. You should be grateful to the Inner Pilot, the Supreme, that He has authorised you to serve Him in mankind, and you should do it with utmost humility. In the spiritual life one has to get the inner command about one's service to the world. Only if one is authorised, should he serve God in mankind. Otherwise, it will be a terrible spiritual mistake.

Question: Why have you come to the West rather than remaining in your own country where there are so many tremendous problems, such as the population explosion, and where, in fact, no progress has been made since the departure of the British?

Sri Chinmoy: Concerning the population explosion, the Government is in charge of this particular problem. However, as a spiritual man, I myself have every right to pray to God to illumine the Government to do the right thing. In regard to what progress India has made in the past twenty years, you must go to India yourself in order to make a fair judgement concerning this. Since you probably cannot do this, read newspapers or books that are written by Indians. Or failing this alternative, I suggest that you surrender your proud ignorance to the true truth.

Only the other day America had to face the same problem of British control. You were under British subjugation and yet, if I were to ask you what progress has been made here since independence was achieved, I would probably be sent to a mental asylum. Nevertheless, I recently read a book called Only in America, written by an American. In this book countless unthinkable, unimaginable, absurd things taking place in this country are described.

Wherever God wishes me to go, I go. For a spiritual person, there is no country, no geographical boundaries. In your case, your world is circumscribed not only by geographical limitations, but also by your obligations to your wife, your children and your job. But a spiritual person is not bound by such limitations. I am God's son, and His entire creation is my world.

Question: The world is like a Sahara desert. People in the world are but grains of sand. What part could a little grain of sand play?

Sri Chinmoy: If one infinitesimal part is ready to help today, and tomorrow there will be another one as well, then gradually the whole desert will grow into perfection. Perfection is like a contagious disease. Perfection will grow in you today; then, if I sit in front of you tomorrow, your perfection will inspire me. Even if you do not want to give me what you possess inwardly, I will be able to take it, consciously or unconsciously.

Individual perfection is of paramount importance. The world will never be perfect unless and until each individual in the world has become perfect. We cannot expect the whole world to be perfect overnight. But if we can achieve inner perfection individually, then the world's outer perfection will gradually grow. First we have to solve our own problems — that is to say, we have to achieve our own illumination. If we have inner illumination ourselves, then only we can spread it. But if we say, "Oh, the world is so vast, what difference will one individual's illumination make?" then we are making a mistake. One will be illumined today, two tomorrow and so on. Slowly, steadily and unerringly we are trying to manifest the divinity within us. What we need is infinite patience. Let us have that patience, which is the light of our ever-expanding consciousness.

Question: What can we do to help the world most?

Sri Chinmoy: It is from one that we go to many. If you can inspire one person, then that person will inspire somebody else. This is the way the world evolves. The Christ was only one individual, but his Light has inspired millions and millions of people. When a spiritual Master inspires his disciples, the disciples inspire quite a few more. In this way his consciousness spreads.

We cannot dream of transforming humanity overnight. It is a slow and steady process. On the earth plane it takes many years to get anything done. It takes quite a few incarnations for spiritual perfection. We have to have infinite patience in order to see a little transformation in human nature. We must not lose hope. Just because our friends and neighbours are not following the spiritual life, we cannot give up. We have to know that there was a time, either in this incarnation or in past incarnations, when we were also like them. Once upon a time we were also unaspiring, unspiritual. But by God's Grace somebody or something on earth inspired us and we became spiritual. We may not be conscious of who actually helped us, but there were people who helped us in our spiritual journey, in our inner awakening.

So, with that idea we shall also try to inspire people. If one person gets inspiration from us, that is enough. Gradually, gradually, the number of seekers will increase. Right now the undivine forces are ruling the world. But a day will come when the divine Light will rule the world. Some people are conscious of the fact that Light exists, while others are not aware of it. Those who do not feel the existence of Light will naturally progress slowly. Those who do believe in Light will advance much faster towards the Goal.

Question: Guru, you have said we have to face the outer world with the correct attitude. What sort of attitude is that?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to face the world's problems with divine courage. If you are scared to death when a problem arises, then you cannot be a chosen instrument of the Supreme. Life, according to my philosophy, has to be accepted. This acceptance does not mean enjoyment. Acceptance has a particular spiritual significance. Our meditation is not a meditation that denies the reality of the world. The world is the fertile field for God-manifestation. Reality is not yet manifested fully on earth, but it is our meditation, our inner life, our aspiration, that can hasten the process of divine manifestation on earth.

You should always try to have the attitude of a divine hero, who is ready to fight for the divine manifestation here on earth, who will act only for the sake of the Supreme. This world embodies divinity. What we have to do is not only to realise the ultimate Truth in this world of ours, but also to reveal and manifest that ultimate Truth with our dynamic meditation and conscious aspiration.

Part II — Material success

Question: What response would you give to a person who asks, "How does the spiritual life benefit the man on the street, the man who is more concerned about getting bread and maintaining his life?"

Sri Chinmoy: If he is more concerned about earning his bread, that means that he needs money-power. If he has money, then he can buy bread. Now, we have to know what helps us in getting money. It is energy, labour, strength and effort. All these things come from within. If a person follows the spiritual life, he will be surcharged with energy. The spiritual life can inspire people in any sphere of life; it can help anybody on earth. Spirituality, in the strict sense of the term, is for God-realisation. But if one does not want to go so far, if one only wants to make some progress in the material life in order to become prosperous, he can use prayer. Prayer is a form of spirituality; meditation is a form of spirituality. His prayer and meditation will help him to make more money and become more prosperous. But that is not the real aim of the spiritual life. The aim of the spiritual life is to get the infinite treasure, the infinite Light of the Supreme, which is always for us to use. But if worldly people practise meditation and prayer, the things that they want will not be taken away. On the contrary, they will get them in abundant measure.

Question: Often in New York, I see people begging for money. If the person is blind or crippled, then I feel sorry, but I'm just not sure if I should give or not.

Sri Chinmoy: Ask your conscience. If the person is a real beggar, if he is blind or crippled, then you can give if you are inspired to do so. But if you suspect that someone just does not want to work and he has taken to begging as the easiest job, then why should you give him your hard-earned money?

Question: Can we fulfil our worldly responsibilities at the same time that we are fulfilling our spiritual needs?

Sri Chinmoy: The world is God's creation. If we do not fulfil our worldly responsibilities, then how are we going to please God? There are some responsibilities which we must fulfil, starting almost from the moment we see the light of day. If we neglect these responsibilities, then they will only delay us and make us swerve from the path of Truth. Again, we have to know that it is through our attachment to the world that we will increase the number of our worldly responsibilities like anything.

God's creation flows from the Transcendental Consciousness; it is the direct expression of God. If we do not feel concern for the creation, then how can God be pleased with us? We have to fulfil our earthly responsibilities. But we shall fulfil only the responsibilities that our Inner Pilot has allotted to us. We shall not take on any additional responsibilities at our sweet will. In fulfilling our God-given responsibilities, we shall act in accordance with our spiritual needs.

Question: Do you think one should work in the world or retire to an ashram to realise God?

Sri Chinmoy: One must not retire to an ashram in order to realise God. One must not enter into the Himalayan caves to realise God. Those days are gone. One has to accept life as it is. In the modern-day world, one has to play the role of a hero, a divine hero. If you enter into a room and close the door and then feel that you will be able to meditate, you will be mistaken. Your mind will remain a victim to undivine thoughts even there. A real seeker will face the world. He realises that there is nothing to renounce. Why should I renounce the world or the members of my family if the reality that I am seeking is inside each individual? God is inside everyone. By renouncing the world and entering into an ashram I am not going to find God and manifest Him.

Escape is not the answer. Who escapes? Someone who has done something wrong. The master of the house does not escape. He does not have to hide, for he has not stolen anything. Why should a spiritual seeker try to escape? Why should he be afraid of humanity? If right now humanity represents doubt or other negative qualities for him, then let him try to transform this doubt into certainty. Let him try to transform humanity's fear into courage. At every moment the seeker gets the golden opportunity to face the world. If a potter does not touch the clay, how will he be able to transform the clay into a beautiful vase? Each individual seeker has to accept humanity and then, with his own aspiration and his own realisation, he has to transform the face of mankind. If he is afraid of his neighbours and tries to hide, he is taking the wrong approach.

In the spiritual life, if one really wants to help mankind, then one has to live in the world. If a spiritual Master has an ashram and the seeker goes there to meditate, that is wonderful. But if all seekers renounce the world and enter into monasteries or secluded places to meditate, then who is going to transform the face of the world? We have to accept the world as it is with the view of transforming the world. The world is not perfect, but neither are we perfect. No human being is as perfect as God. He is inspiring us to be perfect, and if He gives us the inspiration and capacity to perfect ourselves, He will also give us the inspiration and capacity to perfect others. But to do this we have to mix with people and help them in their inner awakening and their inner realisation.

In order to realise God, what is necessary is the inner cry, and this inner cry we can have even when we are walking along the street. It is a mistake to feel that we will have the inner cry only if we are at the top of the Himalayas. Even there our minds will roam and we will think of our friends, our relatives and our enemies. Again, here in the world, in the hustle and bustle of life, we can easily think of God. So God-realisation can take place, must take place and will take place here on earth in the midst of multifarious activities, as long as our activities are dedicated to God. Each action has to be dedicated to God, no matter what we do.

You are working here at a radio station. Now, for about two hours you have been serving mankind. This is an act of dedication. With this act of self-offering to the world you will please God more than those who enter into a room and think of all the undivine thoughts in the name of meditation. The moment we offer ourselves, we extend and expand ourselves. So God-realisation can be achieved in our daily life. We do not have to enter into seclusion.

Question: When you speak of accepting the world, do you mean we should just live our lives having only as much involvement as we absolutely have to, and ignore the things that are going on around us, such as politics?

Sri Chinmoy: When you accept the world as such, it does not mean that you have to enter into all walks of life. You are a seeker, so your first and foremost duty is to realise God. If you want to enter into the Himalayan caves, then you are negating the world. The physical has to live in the world, the physical has to talk with people and be involved in daily activities. But, at the same time, you have to know your real duty. The real duty comes from the soul; otherwise, there is no end to our self-imposed duty. Most people are enjoying self-imposed duty; it is not coming from within.

If you are a real seeker, then you want to realise God on earth. The politician's aim is not that. Those who are in politics must not be looked down upon by us. They are fulfilling God in their own way. They have accepted the world and they are trying to serve the world according to their capacity. But the politicians are not aware of divinity within humanity. They are dealing with the outer surface of humanity. We want to serve the soul first. We feel that unless we know the soul, we do not know our commander. The command for us to do something should come from the real commander. If the commander orders, "Do this!" then immediately the soldier will do it. Otherwise, one soldier will do whatever he wants to, without knowing whether or not it is the best thing to do.

So we have to accept the world as it is; we cannot deny the world of ignorance. We are full of ignorance and all around us is ignorance; the whole world is ignorance. But if we negate it, then we are negating our own existence. First we have to touch the very breath of ignorance which is within us and around us, and then we have to transform it. We can be like a boat. A boat is in the water, but the boat is not affected by the water. Similarly, we can be in the world of ignorance but not be affected by ignorance. We can live in the unaspiring world of ignorance, limitations and imperfections with our own aspiration, inner cry and soulful dedication to the Inner Pilot.

We are on earth to accomplish certain things. But only the things that we ourselves are doing will be able to carry us to our highest Goal. The things that others are doing will lead them to some other goal. But a spiritual seeker knows that there can be no goal greater or higher than God-realisation. When one has realisation, one immediately enters into the infinite Vast. Naturally, Infinity is infinitely superior to even the greatest human satisfaction.

We have to know what we want. We want to realise the truth first. Then, when the truth commands us to fulfil it inside humanity, that is the proper thing. Right now the best thing for us to do is go up and get everything from above. After we have received what the highest floor can give us, then when the command comes, we can try to come down to the basement and start offering our realisation to humanity.

Question: Is there any way to reconcile the spiritual life with material success?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly! The thing is that we have to know the value of material success. If we achieve material success, well and good. But if we feel that spiritual success and material success are equally necessary to our soul's journey, then we are mistaken. The correct attitude is to feel that the spiritual life comes first. Then we should feel the necessity of manifesting the living breath of the spiritual life within the material life.

We should give due importance to the material life. We work hard and we try for success. But we have to know that experience will come to us in two forms: in the form of success and in the form of failure. If we are really spiritual, we will try to see if it is success or failure that is going to please our Lord. When we enter into the spiritual life, our real success is not the so-called success that we gain in the outer life. Our real success is our conscious identification with the Supreme's Will.

If we cannot achieve material success, then others will say we have failed. If we look at things with our human eyes, we ourselves will say, "Oh, we have not succeeded." Our unspiritual friends will say that we are a total failure, and if we use our human mind, we will also say, "Yes, we are a total failure." But on the spiritual plane, acceptance of the experience itself is real success. The experience of oneness with the Inner Pilot is the supreme success, and our inner being will be able to tell us if we have passed that test. Spiritual success does not mean an achievement which others will appreciate with their human minds. If we are spiritual, success means oneness with the Will of God.

Question: I don't feel that it is possible for me to follow spirituality without following through with the material world. Without it I have found spirituality quite empty, whereas when my physical pleasure in the world is heightened, I then find a higher approach to my spirituality. Must this material part be rejected, or can they balance each other out?

Sri Chinmoy: You feel that when your material life is fully secure and you have achieved some material success, when you have attained some sense of outer joy or perfection, then it becomes easier for you to enter into the spiritual life. Now, there is nothing wrong in this. But most seekers have found that what they have achieved on the physical, outer plane, is not an asset or additional help to their spiritual life. If you are well established in the outer life, if you are secure and have achieved some standard of success, that is wonderful. But if you feel that these outer achievements will expedite your spiritual progress, that is not true in most cases.

Many people have achieved earthly success. There are many very famous or well-known people on earth. But just because they are well-known or they have achieved something most significant for earth or for themselves, that does not mean that their spiritual life will be extremely easy. On the contrary, it will be the other way around. Their spiritual life will be more difficult, because from material success comes ego, pride and a sense of self-sufficiency. These things constantly stand in the way of materially successful people.

Question: Can't they go together?

Sri Chinmoy: They can go together if this ordinary, material success is ready to surrender to the Will of the Supreme. Then spirituality can easily manifest itself through earthly success. A spiritual person and an unaspiring person both have to eat. But while a spiritual person is eating, he is thinking of the Supreme: "Dear Lord, I am eating to have strength and energy so that You can manifest in and through me." This should be his feeling. An unaspiring person may eat just so that he will have the strength to knock somebody else down. You are eating in order to stay on earth so that the Divine, the Supreme, can manifest in and through you. You have to bring down the message of the Supreme; that is why you eat. While you are performing your earthly duties, you are offering your will to the Supreme. You are doing everything so that He can be manifested in your life. If you have that kind of attitude, then the Supreme can manifest in and through you.

If God feels that by making you well-known on earth He will have a better instrument to spread His Light, He will definitely do so. But it is not at all essential that one be great on the earthly plane in order to run very fast in the spiritual life. Ninety-nine times out of one hundred it is more difficult, almost impossible, to run very fast inwardly after one has achieved tremendous outer success.

So it is best to surrender to God's Will; then it is up to God whether or not to make you successful or great among human beings. Surrender is the safest way. Otherwise, what you want you may be given, but your spiritual life will not be able to come to the fore any more. There is nothing wrong if material success and spiritual success go together, provided you are ready to sacrifice everything for spiritual success. But usually what happens is just the opposite. When material success begins to make demands on us, we sacrifice our spiritual life to the demands of the material life.

We may think that as material success is the achievement of name, fame and wealth, spiritual success is the achievement of Peace, Light and Bliss. But real spiritual success is the conscious surrender of our will to the Will of the Almighty. Then, if it is His Will, in the spiritual world He can make us a great Yogi and, at the same time, in the physical world He can make us a famous poet. But if our only wish, our only desire, is to become a famous poet, He may fulfil that wish, but when we become a great poet, there is no certainty that our spiritual life will be secure or that we will be able to run very fast in the spiritual life.

If we offer our will to the Will of God, He can make us anything He wants. If we have that kind of surrender, then He will use His own Wisdom in making us successful in the outer world or in the inner world or both. Again, if He wants us to remain the most insignificant, useless person on earth, we will gladly do it.

Question: If you work for a company and are selling a product, you are trying to get material gain for the company. How do you reconcile that and put your energies into it?

Sri Chinmoy: The important thing you have to know is whether or not you are participating in deception. Suppose you are selling sugar for a company, and you know that they have mixed something into the sugar to deceive the customers. Then, if you really want to be spiritual, you must not work for this kind of company.

But if you sell something for what you call profit, that is not deception. If you buy something for two dollars and sell it for two dollars, then how are you going to earn your livelihood? You have to sell it for two-fifty or three dollars. Profit is not deception. But how much profit? If you buy something for two dollars and sell it for twenty, then you are just exploiting people. During the war, people knew that the price of things would go very high, so they bought things for six dollars that should sell for twelve dollars at most. Then they were able to sell them for ninety dollars. Just because something was unavailable and people wanted it badly, this kind of exploitation was possible. So you have to know if you are deceiving or exploiting your customer, and you have to strike a balance between exploitation and stupidity.

Question: Why do you not materialise more wealth if you have such power from God?

Sri Chinmoy: Material power has been captured by undivine forces. Since the beginning of civilisation money has been captured by the undivine forces. It has not been utilised for a divine purpose. It is used for name, fame, power and ego-aggrandisement.

When an ordinary person makes money, what he does with his money is just to feed his ego. When a spiritual person has money, he tries to spread the message of truth through his writings or through his spiritual activities.

Why do I not materialise wealth? Because I am dealing with imperfect instruments. When God works through a Guru, God gives the Guru realisation first and makes him perfect in his own field. The Guru's work is to give inner light, inner bliss and inner power to his disciples, and the disciples' work is to help the Guru spread God's Light. One of the ways he can do this is through money-power. The Guru has peace and light, which he gives, and the disciple has material wealth, which he gives to the Guru. So it is give and take.

When God has two sons, He does not give only to one. He will not tell one to give and give everything, and let the other one only accept from first to last. If such were the case, God would not be fulfilling His work. God is impartial. He has given two sons the things that complement each other. Both the Guru and the disciple are God's children, and to each of them God has given something. So the Guru gives what he has to the disciple and the disciple gives what he has to the Guru. Then he feels that he has played his part, too.

Money is a power. God gives ordinary people that power, and He gives the Guru spiritual power. If a Guru gives what he has, then those who receive it should become one with him by playing their part and giving what they have. One cannot violate God's Law. The game of creation is interdependence. The greatest joy is to be able to give to another a part of our hard-earned achievement. The Guru is like the inner being of the disciple, and the disciple is like the outer body of the Guru. With his capacity the Guru fulfils our inner needs. We, in turn, must do our part by fulfilling the outer needs of the Guru.

If somebody works for eight hours, and earns some money that he can give, then the giving adds value to his work. If he can extend that money power by sharing it, then there is some value to his earning power. Similarly, the Guru, who has realised God, has worked for hundreds or thousands of lives for his realisation. Out of a hundred persons, almost everyone can give money, but only one in millions can give God-realisation. The Guru gives to the disciple that which he has acquired through so many incarnations of hard work. If the disciple cannot give something in the form of material wealth or dedicated service, where is the divine play of give and take? In this world, God wants His children to play the game of give and take. If a Guru must play the same part as a seeker and get a job to earn money, then how and when will the Guru do his spiritual work?

Question: Guru, when you give someone a blessing in the form of money, what is the significance?

Sri Chinmoy: If I give money to someone, it is material power. It has to be used properly. Some Masters are very reluctant to receive money or give money, because they feel that money is nothing but a hostile force. I say that money is not a hostile force. Money is like a knife. As an instrument, money can either be a divine or an undivine instrument. It entirely depends on the purpose the individual uses it for. With a knife I can stab someone, or I can cut some fruit and share it with others. Money as such is not a hostile force, but when it is not properly used it becomes a problem.

When I give money to someone, I feel that that person definitely needs it, and I expect him to use it properly, in a divine way. When I give money, it is a form of blessing, and I expect these blessings to be utilised properly.

Question: What should our attitude be towards our job in terms of our position as a disciple and the mission itself? Very often I wonder whether the work that I am doing has any relation to my being a disciple.

Sri Chinmoy: As long as I want you to work, if you have a job, you can rest assured that I am responsible. I have asked quite a few disciples to enter into specific businesses. In your case, I have told you that when the time comes I will tell you what to do. As long as I want you to do your present work, please feel that it is not standing in the way of your spiritual life. If one is sincere and wants to serve my mission, and if I see that that person is being hampered by undivine forces at his job, then I will definitely ask him to change his job. Right now you only have to feel that you are working because it is necessary for you to support yourself and to keep some discipline in your life.

Also, when you support our mission with your money-power, money becomes at that time a divine instrument. But you have to know that money will not be able to bind me. Material wealth will never be able to bind me. What will be able to bind me is the love, devotion and surrender of the disciples. If you give me millions of dollars — which you don't have — or if you buy me a large piece of property or give me the Empire State Building, my divine hunger, infinite hunger for the manifestation of the Supreme, will not be satisfied. Only if devotion and dedication come will I be fully satisfied.

Those who are offering their money with a dedicated consciousness are naturally helping my mission. I am not condemning or belittling those who are giving. Far from it. They are doing a great service, but this service counts only if they are doing it with devotion and dedication. Otherwise, just to give me large sums of money will be of no benefit to them. If somebody gives me thousands of dollars in the hope that he will be able to keep my mouth shut, that I will not warn him or scold him, it will be of no use. If you try it, you will see. No real spiritual Master can be bound by money. You can give me millions of dollars, and the next day you will be asked to leave the Centre if you do something wrong. But you can make me your devoted slave at every moment if you give me one cent with dedication and devotion. If you can give me one cent with dedication and devotion, I will be able to place that at the Feet of the Supreme immediately. But if you give just to feel your own importance or to make me feel that you are very great, then you will not be able to make spiritual progress or inner progress.

The other day when you sold your motorcycle, you gave me the money with utmost dedication, with your utmost sincerity. If you had not given it that way, I would not have accepted it. I do not need your love-offerings. If I give up my spiritual work, I can go back to work at the Indian Consulate. My position is secure there. And if I continue my literary work, I can support myself with my writings. I do not have to shoulder the responsibilities of a big family. But since I am your spiritual father, when you give devotedly to the Centre, you are giving not to me, but to the Supreme in me.

Part III — Health and physical well-being

Question: Is it true in your philosophy that the body always has to be a hindrance in the communication with God and can never be a part of your offering of yourself to God?

Sri Chinmoy: No, the body need not always be an obstacle or a hindrance to God-realisation. A baby is unconscious, but that does not mean he will not grow into adolescence and manhood. He will. Let us take the body right now as an unconscious child. But the body will grow. It will grow through the light which it is getting from our soul. A child gains outer knowledge and inner wisdom day by day. Similarly, when we pray and meditate, we bring light to the fore inside us, and this light tries to permeate our whole outer existence.

You are absolutely right when you say that the body is a hindrance. It is, until the light of the soul comes forward and takes charge of the body. But if you say that the body will constantly and permanently stand against the soul, then you are making a mistake. In that case nobody will be able to realise God. God-realisation takes place only on earth, in the physical body. If the body stands permanently against the soul's possibilities, then how can one ever have realisation on earth?

In order to realise the Highest we have to have the body. But the body has to be made into a perfect instrument. It is like the piano and the pianist. Both of them are equally needed. If there is no piano, how can the player play? And again, if there is no pianist, who will play the instrument? So the soul needs the body and the body needs the soul. The soul needs the body because without the body it cannot fulfil its highest mission: God-manifestation on earth. The body needs the soul in order to realise the highest transcendental Truth.

In the beginning it is absolutely true that the body stands against the soul's inevitabilities. But there comes a time when the soul comes to the fore and compels the body to become its faithful instrument. This is the victory of both the body and the soul. When the soul consciously makes the body feel what it should do, and the body is willing to listen to the dictates of the soul, then the body and the soul go together. When the body and the soul go together, realisation, revelation and manifestation take place. In the beginning this body stands against us. But when we are advanced, when we are nearing our journey's Goal, we see that the physical consciousness is totally merged in the psychic consciousness. We see the physical in its transformed luminosity. The soul and the body become part and parcel of one Truth, and that Truth is God the Infinite.

Question: How can we effectively channel physical energy into spiritual energy?

Sri Chinmoy: We have to know that this physical energy has a source. It has only one source, and that source is the spiritual energy. As long as we remain in the body-consciousness, we are not aware of this, but when we go deep within, we see that spiritual energy is the source of the physical, vital and mental energy. When the spiritual energy left its Source and entered into the physical, it was somewhat polluted. It was unable to maintain its pristine purity. What we need is purity on the inner plane and dedication on the outer plane. If we aspire, we will be able to purify the physical energy. Outer dedication comes through gradual inner purification and inner awareness. When we have both inner purity and outer dedication, then the spiritual energy enters into the physical energy, and the physical energy at that time becomes an added strength to the spiritual energy.

Question: If a person is overweight, does it affect his consciousness?

Sri Chinmoy: If you are really heavy beyond necessity, your consciousness carries a heavy load. Lethargy enters into you most powerfully. When you lose unnecessary weight, excessive weight, your outer capacity increases and your inner beauty comes forward and grows in the physical.

Question: Guru, I wanted to know if there was anything else we should do for the body in the spiritual life besides feed it? Are there any exercises?

Sri Chinmoy: If you know how to meditate well, then it is not necessary. You can take a few hatha yoga exercises or you can run. That will help you. But do not confuse your serious meditation with hatha yoga. Hatha yoga is not the answer. If you take a little exercise in the morning for five or ten minutes, it is more than enough. It will give you additional strength, health and dynamism. If you are not feeling well or if you are tired all the time, how will you meditate well? If you take regular exercise, then you keep the body fit. By keeping the body fit you make it easier for your aspiration to grow. But you have to know that simply by keeping the body fit, you cannot realise God. There are many, many people who are very strong and healthy, but they are nowhere near God-realisation.

All physical activities you can do, but not at the expense of spirituality. Inside every physical activity spirituality must be there. If you throw your spirituality aside in order to become the best athlete, that is absurd. Spirituality should come and enter into the physical so that the physical also will be meaningful. Without the spiritual, the physical has no value. As long as we can bring the soul's light forward, then only are we really human beings; otherwise, we are all animals. In every action spirituality should be there. Then only will we be able to manifest the Divine.

Question: How important is it for a spiritual aspirant to get physical exercise?

Sri Chinmoy: If someone does not get any exercise at all, then the physical will really remain unlit, lethargic and a real hindrance to the aspirant. If you try to keep fit, the physical will add its contribution to the soul. I know the importance of the physical consciousness. If the physical consciousness does not aspire, it will remain separated from the soul. Then rest assured, you will never be able to achieve perfection. The physical has to aspire in its own way to increase its capacity so that it can hold light. Then you will be able to aspire much more.

Question: Do people really need more sleep when they are training for athletics?

Sri Chinmoy: For ordinary people, it is true. If they run a few miles, they need more sleep. But for spiritual people, especially advanced seekers, it is not necessary. By drawing down cosmic energy, in two minutes they can get the rest of two hours, three hours, four hours. It depends on how effectively you can draw in the cosmic energy. But ordinary runners do have to sleep longer.

Question: Do great athletes have a kind of unconscious aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: There are athletes who are far, far better than we, infinitely superior to us as athletes. But when it is a matter of inner aspiration, they have none. It will take them hundreds of incarnations to realise God, whereas we have the opportunity to realise God even in this incarnation.

Question: Does the concentration that the athletes use help them in any way spiritually?

Sri Chinmoy: Although their concentration is in the physical plane and the vital plane and not in the psychic plane, still it does help. But you have to know that there is a great difference between psychic concentration and our physical or vital concentration. Just because an athlete has learned concentration, it does help him if he wants to enter into the spiritual life. It is a power, like money-power, which can be applied to any purpose he wants.

But if you want to buy something subtle, with money-power you cannot do it. Similarly, for subtle things you need a different type of concentration. But the concentration-power that you learn from athletics will definitely add to your psychic concentration. Psychic concentration is really difficult — much more difficult than physical or vital concentration. It is like the elder brother. But the younger brother can definitely help the elder brother. And if someone knows psychic concentration as well as physical concentration, vital concentration and mental concentration, then that person can easily be a great champion in the athletic world as well as in the spiritual world.

Question: Suppose a race is very close and the capacity of two athletes is the same, but one of them is aspiring. Does Grace let the one who is aspiring win?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the Supreme's Will. If someone is very aspiring, the Supreme may tell the person, "All right, since you are sincerely dedicated to My Will, you don't have to win in the Olympics." Again, if someone is a seeker and he also has very great potentiality as an athlete, then the Supreme may give him just a little bit of success in sports. But if somebody with great aspiration becomes only an athlete, it will be a waste of his capacity.

Question: Is there a place for any kind of feeling of competition in the spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: In real spiritual life, there is no competition. But there is something which is very essential, necessary, and inevitable, which we call progress. Let us say that you want to make progress; you want to transcend yourself. Now, if somebody else is with you, immediately his or your mind will think that you are competing. In the ordinary life, we compete with others to gain supremacy. But in the spiritual life, we are not in competition with others. We are always trying to transcend our own capacity; but while we are transcending our capacity, others may feel that we are competing.

We can think of ourselves as two halves: imperfection is one half and our sincere cry for perfection is the other half. One side is weakness, and the other side is strength. With our inner cry for perfection, let us run towards our destination. If the perfection-being reaches its goal before the imperfection-being, then it becomes fully illumined. When our being is fully illumined, if dark, ignorant forces come near the field of illumination, they are afraid. Before we reach the destination, they challenge us. But once we reach the illumination-destination, ignorant forces do not dare enter into us because they feel that they will be totally lost. They do not know that they will only be transformed and illumined.

Question: Why are athletes so appreciated in today's world?

Sri Chinmoy: If athletes are appreciated, it is because the West gives more importance to speed than to anything else. Speed is always given prime importance. In the spiritual life also we try to run the fastest. Then, once we reach the goal, we see that that goal is the starting point for our next goal. So if you feel athletics is given more importance than other fields, I wish to say that God Himself is the Supreme Athlete. All the time he is running, flying, diving and illumining us faster than the fastest.

Question: Does it help an athlete to have a large number of his own supporters in the audience?

Sri Chinmoy: Not necessarily. It depends on the sincerity of these so-called supporters. When I was a champion runner in my youth, even my so-called friends took malicious pleasure in the thought that I would lose. After a few years, only God was on my side. Before the race my friends would say, "Chinmoy, you must win." But in their minds they thought, "I hope you lose." They would have got such joy if I had lost. The members of my family and a few very close friends did not do that. The rest of the people liked me and loved me, but at the time of competition they wanted somebody else to win. But what could they do? God's Will prevailed and I always won.

Question: Recently I have been reading in the newspaper about spiritual healing. Is this really possible?

Sri Chinmoy: It is quite possible that what you are reading in the newspapers is correct. There is no shadow of a doubt that spiritual healing is possible. In God's creation everything is possible. God, being omnipotent, can do anything that He wants to do in and through us. If a healer cures someone with a good motive, we can call it compassion. But if he does it only to show off his capacity, then that is not good. We have to know whether healers are doing the right thing by curing someone. Somebody may have this healing capacity, but he may be using it against God's Will. There are many occultists who use their occult power against God's Will. If it is God's Will that someone should be cured by this healer or that healer, then the healer is one with God's cosmic Plan. But God may feel that a particular human being who has done many things wrong has to go through some painful experiences so that he does not make the same mistakes over and over again. The things that he has done wrong must bear some undivine fruit. If we do something good, then naturally the fruits will be divine. But if we do something wrong and if we do not meet with the necessary experience of punishment, then we will never learn.

So we have to know whether or not it is God's Will that a person be cured. If it is God's Will, then somebody who is suffering certainly should be cured. But if it is not God's Will that the person be cured at that particular moment, then what actually happens is that after the patient is cured he will make the same mistake again, and when he does it for the second time, perhaps his suffering will be worse.

Question: Could you say something about healing and spiritual development?

Sri Chinmoy: I do not encourage people to come to me just to get their diseases cured. If they become my disciples and meditate sincerely, then if it is the Will of the Supreme, naturally I will bring down light from above to cure them. There are many ways to help people, but the most effective way is to bring them closer to God. For that they have to consciously practise the spiritual life.

There are philanthropists who are helping people, giving alms to the needy and so forth, but they are not trying to illumine their own lives or others' lives. Unless one consciously knows what God wants from one's life, one is bound to make mistakes. Pride and ego will come forward. The first thing is to know what the Inner Pilot wants from one's life. Then one can help humanity.

Unless we can become one with our Source, it is impossible for us to help humanity the way God wants us to help and serve. But when spirituality is practised consciously, when one consciously cries for total, inseparable oneness with God, at that time God gives the aspirant boundless Light. Then the aspirant offers this light and slowly and gradually those who are actually meant to receive light from him will get it. But one has to be very careful to feel the real divine light before one starts helping others. Otherwise, it will be like the blind leading the blind.

Question: Is there any way that we can avoid minor illnesses like colds?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. We can avoid them if we can pay attention to their first warning in the mental plane. In the mental plane we get a warning, but we neglect it. We feel that it will not come to the physical plane. As soon as we notice that we are going to get an attack on the physical plane, we have to fight against it. Just to notice the warning on the mental plane is not enough. We have to fight against it immediately. Otherwise, from the mental plane it will come to the vital and then to the physical plane. While it is in the mental plane we do not pay attention to it; therefore, it starts descending. Once it comes to the vital plane it becomes very difficult to stop it. And when it reaches the physical it is most difficult.

No disease, not even a little cold, can immediately attack us on the physical plane. First it attacks on the mental plane. But we do not know what is happening on the mental plane because most of the time we remain in the physical consciousness. So until the ailment has attacked our physical body we are not aware of it.

You will not have to go to the doctor at all if you become more conscious of these things. Since you are all seekers, every day you pray and meditate. All these things come to you during your prayer and meditation. But sometimes you feel that you are so powerful that the illness will not attack you. Or you feel that even if it comes to the physical, still you can easily conquer it. Another problem is that the human body is so undivine that it cherishes disease. Why? So that people will sympathise with it. When somebody says, "I am so sorry you are sick," immediately we feel that we have achieved something.

Part IV — Questions on contemporary life

Question: Many say that we are entering into the end of this age, and that the world is going to end quite soon. I was wondering what you had to say about it.

Sri Chinmoy: Since your childhood I am sure you have been hearing that the world is coming to an end. And our grandfathers were also told the same story. The world is not just a tiny spot. It will not be destroyed totally. A portion of the world may be destroyed by an earthquake or some cataclysm, but the whole world as such is not going to be destroyed. Human aspiration is not going to come to an end.

Human aspiration is like an upward movement. It goes up, then it bends a little and then again it goes up. Human aspiration may go up and down, ascend and descend, but ultimately it just goes up. If somebody becomes tired while he is climbing, then in his time of relaxation perhaps he comes down a little. But when he is again inspired, he will go up again and finally he will reach the Highest. The world is not going to come to an end because human aspiration is not going to come to an end. Human aspiration may one day be very hot and another day it may be lukewarm, but when it once starts in us, it will carry us to the highest Absolute. Before it reaches that Goal, it will not be satisfied. So long as human aspiration exists in the earth atmosphere, this world will never be totally destroyed.

Question: Nowadays there are so many young people going to ashrams in India, Tibet and other places. Are these people sincere? What are they looking for?

Sri Chinmoy: We have to know that among these young people there are some sincere seekers, as among all men there are some who are sincere and some who are insincere. If these seekers are really sincere, then they are looking for some light. If they are insincere, then they are only moving around out of curiosity, like vagabonds. Today, out of curiosity, they come here; tomorrow out of curiosity they will go elsewhere. On the other hand, if they are sincere seekers who are looking for light, then if they do not find light in one place, at that time they will go and look for it somewhere else.

Question: I have a question on cleanliness. If people leave their houses untidy, does it affect their own consciousness?

Sri Chinmoy: I never approve of this. The inner world is your right hand and the outer world is your left hand. If somebody keeps his room unclean, if he then takes a shower and goes to the Centre, still that person is only half clean. That person will carry the uncleanliness of his house with him. So the best thing is to do both: to keep the house clean and also to observe personal cleanliness.

Question: Guru, listening to the radio or reading a newspaper or magazine invariably brings my consciousness down, but sometimes there is interesting information. Is there a way the media can be divinised, or should we just avoid that type of media entirely?

Sri Chinmoy: We need not give up anything; only we must see our capacity — that is, how much poison we can digest right now. Radio and newspapers have good things also; but the difficulty is that in order to get five minutes' worth of good, we spend perhaps three hours. In order to get something nice on television, we spend hours and hours watching bad things.

We do not have to hear everything, see everything and read everything. We have to discriminate. Radio, television and newspapers are easy to misuse. We are over-indulging; we are enjoying beyond our capacity to assimilate.

Question: In the proper proportion would it be squandering the light that you offer us?

Sri Chinmoy: No, no, not in the proper proportion. If you just hear the news in the morning, or watch something instructive on TV, then there is nothing wrong in it. But if you listen to rock and roll for hours, or watch all kinds of silly things on television, then you are just squandering the little light that you have been able to receive during your meditation.

Question: Is it possible to hasten the pace at which seekers gradually move beyond such forms of distraction or entertainment as novels and television? If you burn all your novels, are you really overcoming what may be a genuine need at that time?

Sri Chinmoy: If one enters into the spiritual life and feels that the spiritual life comes first and foremost, then let him gain some strength in the spiritual life before he begins to indulge in this kind of entertainment. When a seeker enters into the spiritual life, his first and foremost concern is to pay all attention to his meditation, to his aspiration. If he wants to have a large view of human life — the emotional life and all that — then he should first establish some purity, some confidence, some light inside his system. When he is strong enough in his own aspiration and meditation, then let him read. But if he is not well-established in his spiritual life, then everything he reads or sees will affect him. So why should he put an unnecessary burden on his shoulders? True, it will not ultimately prevent him from reaching the goal, but it will definitely delay his progress.

Question: Automobiles seem to play an important part in your mission and, at the same time, they are a source of problems and headaches. I was wondering what kind of attitude we should have towards our cars?

Sri Chinmoy: If you have an automobile, take it as part of your physical body. Whatever attitude you have towards your body, take the same attitude towards your car. If you neglect the body, you will die. Then you cannot realise or manifest God. The body is of paramount importance, but it is not for luxury. My disciples are not millionaires, and they are not using their cars to enjoy themselves or to wallow in the pleasures of ignorance. But in this modern age, especially in America, a car is a necessity.

In America we are fighting against time. If we live in an Indian village, then we can make friends with eternal time. But here every second counts. If we can do two things in one second, then why should we do only one thing? If we have a car, it does not mean that we will not walk or run or take exercise. But if our office is in Manhattan and we are living in Connecticut, then what will we do?

Since it is a necessity, we must keep the vehicle in good shape. It helps us considerably in fighting against time and achieving things sooner than at once. In this case, we have to give due importance to a vehicle that is more than ready to help us.

Question: Could you give advice to those who ride the subways when the vibrations seem dangerous sometimes?

Sri Chinmoy: When you are in the subway, when you are dealing with wrong forces, undivine forces, you can do two things. The occult process is to imagine the sound of the subway and then to think of all the bad people on the subway put together. Then try to imagine a sound from those people and also the sound of the subway. After you do this, with your creative imagination you will try to create another sound which is infinitely more powerful than the sound of the subway and all the bad people on it. Your sound can easily drown or destroy the first sound. The sound of the subway and the vibration of the bad people have created a negative power all around. So you create a positive power which will either engulf, destroy or illumine that power. This is the occult process. The occult life means always to be a warrior, always to fight.

The spiritual way is different. Before you enter into the subway, meditate on the Supreme for Protection and for Compassion. As soon as you leave your house, pray to Him. If the Protection and Compassion of the Supreme work together inside you, then naturally they will be infinitely more powerful than all the dangerous and undivine forces in the subway.

Question: Guru, is there any way we can protect ourselves when out in the street?

Sri Chinmoy: If you think of the Supreme or repeat His name, then you will have protection. If you are walking along the street, just repeat "Supreme" over and over again. The problem is that after you meditate in the morning you forget about the Supreme. But the moment you go out of your house, you have to feel that you are exposing yourself to world-ignorance. When you are in the midst of an undivine atmosphere, you have to be very careful. At that time there is only one remedy: repeat the name of the Supreme most soulfully. Then you will have protection.

Question: Why do we have time and space?

Sri Chinmoy: We have time and space to measure our capacity: what we were, what we are and what we shall become. We do not want to remain forever at the same level. If we stay all the time in one particular consciousness, then we are acting like a stagnant pool. We have to be like a running river. A river has to flow towards the sea. A pool does not flow. We can decorate it, we can make it beautiful, but since there is no movement, no constant progress, it will not give us the ever-transcending joy. When we enter into the world of progress, we get the greatest joy because we are all the time transcending. Time and space inspire us to transcend ourselves.

Question: Why does the universe exist?

Sri Chinmoy: God has to create. While He is creating, He has to have a place of His own. When you go out and pitch a tent, that is your place. The world is very vast, but you feel that in this tent you will work, you will play, you will eat, you will sleep, you will do everything.

When you go to a workshop, what do you see? The workshop has walls, it has a floor and a ceiling. But inside the workshop people are working and making things. The boundaries mark their field of creation.

Question: Aren't there other worlds and planets where people can take bodies?

Sri Chinmoy: They can take subtle bodies, but they cannot take human bodies. It is impossible.

Question: What was the best service the British did for India?

Sri Chinmoy: The best service India has gotten from the British is the English language. English is the universal language. If India wants to be in the community of civilised nations, English is necessary.

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