Service-boat and love-boatman, part 1

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Part I — Love, devotion and surrender

Author's introduction: love, devotion and surrender

Love is action. Devotion is practice. Surrender is experience.

Love is realisation. Devotion is revelation. Surrender is manifestation.

Love is the meaning of life. Devotion is the secret of life. Surrender is the Goal of life.

In my love, I see God the Mother. In my devotion, I see God the Father. In my surrender, I see God the Mother and God the Father together in one body.

Love without devotion is absurdity. Devotion without surrender is futility.

Love with devotion was my journey's start. Devotion with surrender is my journey's close.

I love the Supreme because I came from Him. I devote myself to the Supreme because I wish to go back to Him. I surrender myself to the Supreme because He lives in me and I in Him.

— Sri Chinmoy


Love: Love is the inner bond, the inner connection, the inner link between man and God, between the finite and the infinite. We always have to approach God through love. Without love, we cannot become one with God. If we go through our journey with absolute love, we can never fail to reach God or fulfil Him, either in our own lives or in humanity.

Love is the secret key that allows a human being to open the Door of God. Where there is love, pure love, divine love, there is fulfilment. Where there is no love, it is all misery, frustration and death. The first step in our journey is love, the second step is devotion and the third step is surrender. First we have to love God. Then we have to devote ourselves to Him alone and finally we have to be at His Feet and fulfil ourselves.

What is love? If love means possessing someone or something then that is not real love; that is not pure love. If love means giving and becoming one with everything, with humanity and divinity, then that is real love. Real love is our total oneness with the object loved and with the possessor of love. Who is the possessor of love? God.

Whom are we loving? We are loving the Supreme in each individual. When we love the body, we bind ourselves; when we love the soul, we free ourselves. It is the soul in the individual, the Supreme in each human being, that we have to love.

Nothing can be greater than love. God is great only because He has infinite Love. If we want to define God, we can define Him in millions of ways, but I wish to say that no definition of God can be as adequate as the definition of God as all Love. When we say 'God', if fear comes into our mind, then we are millions and billions of miles away from Him. When we repeat the name of God, if love comes to the fore, then our prayer, our concentration, our meditation, our contemplation are genuine. There can be no greater wisdom, no greater knowledge, than love. We pray to God. Why? We pray to God just because God is all Love. God is not like a schoolmaster with an iron rod who strikes us all the time. Just because God is all Love, all Compassion, we go toward Him and not towards somebody else. The supreme knowledge lies in love.

The world exists just because love still exists on earth. If this one divine quality left the world, then there could be no existence on earth. No other divine quality can create, sustain and fulfil God here on earth like the quality of love. Divine love does not mean an emotional exchange of human thoughts or ideas, but it means the fulfilment of oneness. At times it may demand highest Justice; at times it may demand infinite Compassion. Inside infinite Compassion, we shall feel the living breath of love. Again, inside the supreme Justice, we shall feel the living presence of love.

We cannot bind divine love with our human thoughts, ideas, or ideals, but we can bind divine love through constant self-sacrifice. Divine love is infinite, but we can bind the infinite in us through self-sacrifice. What is this self-sacrifice? Self-sacrifice is our constant eagerness and inner cry to be shaped only by the Highest in us, by the Inner Pilot in us. But even if we offer our heartfelt and soulful obedience to the Inner Pilot in ourselves, we have still not fulfilled our part totally. But if we can bravely and sincerely tell the Inner Pilot that it is He who will be responsible for our lives, for our realisation, and for our soul's manifestation on earth, then only will our role be totally fulfilled.

Love means acceptance. What are we going to accept? We are going to accept this world of ours which is around us and within us. If we don't accept the world, which is God's outer Body, then we are negating and denying God silently and secretly, if not categorically. After we accept the world, we have to serve the world that we have accepted. If we want to serve the world in the way that the world wants to be served, then we shall always remain in ignorance. At the same time, we will not be able to throw an iota of light on the world's inner and outer problems. We have to serve the world the way that our Inner Pilot wants us to serve. Then, we shall not only fulfil the Supreme in us, but fulfil the Supreme in the world.

We get a kind of joy when we identify ourselves with someone who is all fear. We go to help him solve his problem, and then we are caught in his fear. We go out to sympathise with others, so we suffer with them and then we cannot come out of their suffering. True, it is good to identify with others' suffering, but it is foolishness to identify with someone's problems when we cannot make him bolder or braver, when we cannot make him face the reality or help him see the divine strength in himself. What is the use of showing sympathy to someone when we cannot show him our warmest power or give him solid guidance towards the light?

How can we help our sisters and brothers of the world? We can help if we become all love for the One who is eternally All-Love. Let us love the One, the root of the tree. Then we shall see that the branches, the leaves and the foliage of the tree also will feel our love. Each individual who fulfils God and His creation embodies God's living Concern and living Sacrifice. And it is in this Concern and Sacrifice that God and man are both fulfilled.


Devotion: Devotion is our soul's fearless quality. Devotion does not mean begging from someone. Devotion means dedicated service to the divine child in us. It means intensity, the intensity that makes us feel one and not the intensity that separates and frustrates us. Devotion means entering into the superior part of one's own existence. Devotion is the sweetest feeling in us, the feeling of oneness with something higher and deeper in us. It is the most intimate connection with our better self, purer self, higher, nobler and deeper self. It is the sweetest awareness of Truth.

Who is the higher self in the aspirant? The higher self is the Master; and if the aspirant reaches the higher self, then he can see that he and the Master are totally one. If the aspirant wants to know his highest self, which is God, he can know it through his oneness with the Master, for the Master and God have become one. How? The Master has become one with God on the strength of his Self-realisation and Self-knowledge. He has become a direct channel of God, and this channel can be utilised by both God and the aspirant.

If I really devote myself, then how can I separate myself from the thing that I am aspiring for? I cannot be separated from the highest, the deepest and the farthest. A drop enters and becomes the infinite ocean. By offering ourselves entirely, we do not lose anything.

In the spiritual life, if one wants to make quick progress, then I wish to say that devotion is the only answer. If there is devotion in the entire being, then one can drink nectar every day in one's spiritual awakening, spiritual discipline and spiritual realisation. It is devotion that gives us sweetness in our life, and carries us to the Source of life-immortalising nectar.


Surrender: If we do not surrender our ignorance, imperfections and limitations — our finite qualities and capacities — to the infinite Beyond, then we shall always remain separated from the infinite Beyond. We have to surrender totally and unreservedly. And this surrender, we have to know, is to the Highest in us; it is the finite surrendering to the infinite.

With our human ego, our human will or determination, with our ceaseless human effort, we cannot change or transform the face of the world. It is impossible! But that does not mean that personal effort or human effort is of no avail. Personal effort has to be made constantly, untiringly and spontaneously. But we have to invoke the highest Power that inspires us, secretly and silently, to make this personal effort. Personal effort has no existence of its own. It is the divine higher Power, the higher Power of the infinite Beyond, that secretly feeds and inspires us to exercise our personal effort, will and determination in all that we say, do and become.

'Surrender' is a most complicated word in our spiritual dictionary. An aspirant can use the word 'surrender' in season and out of season, but when the question of surrender comes, a student is ready for anything else but surrender.

A disciple once came to a great spiritual Master and said, "I am surrendering my entire existence to you. From now on I shall be your slave." The spiritual Master said, "Then do this." The disciple replied, "Oh, no. This is too difficult. Except for this, I will do anything." Then the Master said, "Then do that." Again the disciple said, "Oh no, that is too difficult. I will do anything else." Like this, twenty-five times the poor spiritual Master was refused. Then the Master said, "Certainly, you are my best disciple. There can be nobody as great, as sincere, as dedicated as you are."

I know that surrender is more difficult in the West than in the East, but 'difficult' is one thing and 'impossible' is another. If somebody says that the plant of surrender, the tree of surrender, cannot grow in the West, I will say that he is totally mistaken. Here in the West, one can observe surrender in its truest sense, its most divine sense, although it is rare.

When I stand in front of you, when I bow down, to whom do I bow? I bow to the Supreme in you. And when you bow down, when you fold your hands, you are bowing to the Supreme within me. My highest and your highest can never be two different things. Your highest and my highest are the same, but I am aware of your highest and unfortunately you are not. That is why constantly I am hammering the idea into you that each of us is a chosen child of the Supreme, the Supreme's dearest child, and that we have infinite opportunity and capacity to fulfil the Supreme here on earth.

We develop supreme wisdom through our love, devotion and surrender. People are under the wrong impression that supreme knowledge is something that comes from a book. But the aspirant has come to realise that books give only mental information. Knowledge comes only from God, who is Love. We are not satisfied with information. We are satisfied only with our inner existence, our inner reality, our transcendental vision. We cannot only reach, feel and realise the Light, but we can become the Light if every day we renew our soul's love, devotion and surrender to the Will of the Supreme.

Part II — Question and answers

Question: I am a student. How can I study and still keep God before me?

Sri Chinmoy: It is very easy. If you study in order to get a diploma so that you will be recognised by everyone, if you study to become the wisest person on earth so that you will become the teacher of the world, then it is impossible for you to keep God before you. If you feel that you want a degree for your name and fame, for your own establishment on earth, then you cannot place God before you.

You have to feel that you are studying just because you feel the necessity of pleasing God, just because God wants you to grow and study. He does not want somebody else to study. He wants you to study. You have to feel all the time that you are studying not to please yourself, not to please the members of your family, but only to please God. Feel that God is like a mother watching her child study. While pleasing God, you are pleasing your parents, you are pleasing your relatives, you are pleasing your own self. But God should come first.

Study is itself a kind of service. You have to take your study as a form of service to God. If you study well and get good marks because you feel that this is your service to God, then you are pleasing God. Today He wants you to study, tomorrow when you complete your course, God will ask you inwardly to do some job. Then you will do this. The day after tomorrow He may ask you to do something else. So in each field you have to please God in His own way.

Studying is not an obstruction in the spiritual path. Six, seven, eight hours a day you study. You have to discipline yourself. In a few years' time, the capacity that you acquire by studying, you will be able to apply to your spiritual life. Discipline in any walk of life has to be appreciated and admired, because it is a type of strength. With this strength, God will ask you to build or to break something. If you have strength in your arms, you can lift up a heavy weight. If something has to be broken, you can break it. And again, if something has to be fixed, you can do that too.

Question: How should one go about helping others?

Sri Chinmoy: If someone is insincere, if he is just showing off in the name of philanthropy, if he is not helping people devotedly, if he feels that it is his own ego that is compelling him to help people, then this is not loving service. You can serve someone with devotion or you can do something for someone because you want to feed your ego. You can give money to a needy person to please God; and again, you can give money to someone to boost your own ego.

To help others in order to feed your own ego is useless. You have to know that it is a serious mistake, and that it will delay your own progress. So the best thing is to see if you are getting an inner command to help others. If you feel that you do have an inner command to work in this way, then the next thing on your part is to do it devotedly. You should be grateful to the Inner Pilot for authorising you to serve Him in this way. But if you are not getting a command from an inner, higher source, then you have to know that your actions are being motivated by your ego: In that case, you should stop.

So when one wishes to help others, he must first determine the reason for this wish. Is it ego-motivated or is it the soul's wish? If the seeker is sincere, but he does not have a spiritual Master, he may receive divine guidance by going deep within through meditation. On the other hand, if he has established a real inner oneness with the consciousness of a spiritual Master, the Master will advise the aspirant and also take on the responsibility for the disciple's action.

The timing of each action is also significant. If it is God's Will that the person seeking help should receive aid at that time, and through that particular aspirant, then the aspirant will be guided to do so, either through his own meditation, or by his spiritual Master. The Master will say what action is required and accept the responsibility for it. However, if the aspirant undertakes some action on his own, and if it is not God's Will that the recipient be helped in this way or at this time, then this act is contrary to the highest good of both the recipient and the aspirant. In this case, the aspirant must now bear the responsibility for any wrong action.

Question: What is the attitude that one should have while helping others?

Sri Chinmoy: While helping others you have to feel that the help that you are giving is not coming from you. It is not you who is helping, guiding or moulding a particular person: it is your Inner Pilot. You have to become a mere channel. While touching someone or while talking to someone, feel that you are just the channel.

Suppose that you don't know what the truth is, but you have aspiration and sincere concern for someone. You want to help him, but you do not know what you are going to say. At that time, do not form any idea of how to help him, or what you will tell him or how you are going to approach the truth. Make your mind an empty vessel. Then let the vessel be filled with God's Light and Wisdom, and just share it with him. How can you do this? You can do it only through your constant surrender.

The word 'surrender' is most difficult to understand, but once you actually begin to surrender you will see that it is very simple. You surrender yourself to the Highest, to that part of yourself which still remains hidden to you. Surrender does not mean that you are surrendering to a third person, to someone who is foreign to you and who will utilise you in his own way. No! It is you who are entering into your own highest and deepest, and once you do this, you can let the highest and the deepest flow through you in order to help the other person.

You can and should help people, but while helping people feel that you are only an instrument — a channel — and not a doer. If you take the attitude of a doer, if you feel that you are helping, then regardless of how spiritually advanced you may be, your help will be of no avail. But when you feel that you are an instrument, then at any time you are authorised to help. At the same time, one has to know whether or not he truly has something to offer. Some people have big egos and with their egos they want to help. There are other people who just have a spontaneous feeling that they have to help people. It is not due to their ego, but they also are making a mistake, because they are not acting as conscious instruments of the Supreme. Then there is a third category of people: those who have the capacity and who are constantly being guided by the Divine, the Supreme. They are helping and serving people because it is the Divine who wants them to help.

In your case, you should continue helping people, but only with the idea that you will always remain faithful to your perennial Source, your inner Source. Please always be faithful to your inner cause and inner capacity. Know how far you can lead a person and how far you can take responsibility for a person. Also, when you are helping someone, please try to see the ultimate end. Otherwise, today's relief will be transformed into greater and more difficult problems tomorrow.

Question: If a person is basically a humanitarian but fails to achieve God-realisation, what will his spiritual status be when he dies?

Sri Chinmoy: If one does not seek God, he will never realise Him. A humanitarian will never be able to realise God unless he consciously enters onto a spiritual path. He may be sincere, he may help others, he may do good things for the rest of the world; but that is not enough to realise God. To realise God one must have aspiration.

In order to be of real inner service to mankind, we have to get divine qualities from God. Unless and until we have these divine qualities, what can we offer to humanity? Those who are really helping mankind are doing so at the express command of God.

Question: I would like to understand more clearly the distinction between helping man and serving man. I think it is very easy to get the two confused.

Sri Chinmoy: There is no need for confusion; we can easily tell if we are helping or serving. When we serve someone, we have humility. But when we feel that we are helping someone, at that time pride, vanity and ego immediately come forward. When we help, we feel that we have more capacity than someone else, and when we are being helped, we feel that we have less capacity. This help immediately brings in pride, vanity and a feeling of superiority or inferiority. But when we serve soulfully, there can be no pride because we do not feel superior. We feel we are serving the Supreme in others. When I serve you people, I see the divinity inside you. My role in the cosmic Game is to make you feel that inside you is the Inner Pilot. When we serve, we make the other person feel the Supreme's presence within himself.

Even in the role of a seeker, if one does not aspire, pride comes. And if he feels that he is helping, then automatically unconscious pride comes to the fore. A seeker serves a very great Master and becomes proud because he has the opportunity to serve such a Master. But instead of pride, he should feel gratitude. He should offer his soulful prayer and appreciation because he is given the chance to be of service. If the Master sees that his present assistant is full of pride or vanity, he can easily replace him with somebody else.

We have to be careful when we use the term 'help'. Only the Inner Pilot can help us, guide us and mould us. Let us use the word 'service'. When we are serving a Master we have to be very careful. Today someone is close to the Master, but tomorrow that same person can be thrown into the farthest corner of the globe if he or she misuses the blessings of the Master. One has to feel that his service is the greatest opportunity, and he cannot abuse it. If someone is bloated with pride because his Master is appreciating him, then immediately there will be a downfall. If the opportunity to serve the Master is misused, it will be taken away. We have to be humble. If we do not play our role well, then God has every right to change the instrument.

True service is rendered with humility, and it comes only with true and constant aspiration. When we aspire we want to go up. We see that the higher worlds are so much higher than we are, so automatically we become humble.

Question: How can one serve the Supreme?

Sri Chinmoy: Please feel that first things come first. Early in the morning when you get up, immediately try to think of the Supreme. That is the first thing that you should do. Then think of the things that you do daily. You do twenty, thirty or forty things each day. Before you do each thing, you should try to remember the Supreme.

It takes only a minute. Just before you are about to eat, think of the Supreme. After you have conversed with one person and you are just about to speak with somebody else, meditate for a minute. And if you see that you don't have the time, then try to meditate as soon as you are free. Each time you change your activity, meditate on the Supreme for just a minute. Your meditation should be soulful and not mechanical. If you wish to be constantly helped and guided by the Supreme, please remind yourself of Him each time you come into contact with a human being or an object.

Question: What place does work have in the spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: There are some spiritual Masters who allow their disciples to live vagabond lives. These disciples are like parasites; today they are here, tomorrow they are somewhere else. Our path is not like that. I ask my disciples to either work or study. If you work, if you earn a decent, modest living and if you lead a normal life, I will be very happy. It is absolutely necessary to lead a normal life.

You have to feel that work, if you do it devotedly, is the prayer of the body. The body's prayer is necessary, absolutely necessary, to please God. As the heart prays, the mind, the vital and the body also have to pray. When we say that the body has to pray, we have to know that this prayer is done only through selfless service.

Question: If mine is primarily a devotional approach to God, should I also mix in dedicated service [karma yoga] and knowledge [jnana yoga]?

Sri Chinmoy: If you practise jnana and karma yoga as well as bhakti yoga, this will help your progress rather than hinder it. If you have a family you have to do your family duties. By serving your children and the rest of your family, you are also serving God. At the same time, you also have to have knowledge in order to understand how God is operating within your family or within the world. So if you can combine these three things: the attitude of service, the attitude of devotion, and the attitude of knowledge, then you can make wonderful progress.

But at the same time, you have to know which path inspires you the most. Each soul has its own way of working and each person is inspired to do something according to the propensities of his own nature. If we accept all the paths — service, devotion and knowledge — it is a great help; but at the same time, we have to choose the path that gives us the most joy and give the most importance to that.

Question: What is the importance of selfless service?

Sri Chinmoy: Dedicated, devoted service is of paramount importance for each disciple. This service can be of various types: It can be physical work or it can take the form of an offering of devoted thoughts, ideas, love and concern. Physically you can do dedicated service and spiritually you can do dedicated service. Financially and materially also you can do dedicated service. Each disciple has the opportunity to serve the Centre, which is his spiritual home, and the Supreme. Each person can be the Supreme's true divine Pride. Physical service, vital service, mental service, psychic service and soul's service can be offered at the Feet of the Supreme.

The greatest service is to have conscious surrendered oneness with the Master and the Supreme. But all these other types of service do help considerably in entering the unconditionally surrendered life. Start where you are now, and each moment offer your dedicated service to the Will of the Supreme.

The greatest benefit you will receive only when you are totally one with me in the inner world. If you are truly one with me in the inner world, you can easily be one with me in the outer world. From the outer world if you enter into the inner world, you may fail, but from the inner world if you come to the outer world, you are always bound to succeed. While working, please try to feel that in the inner world you are marching with me. It is the inner dedication that you are offering in your outer activities. It is my inner breath that you are consciously breathing.

Again and again I wish to tell you that each disciple, if he is sincere enough, can claim to be the most chosen child and instrument of the Supreme. But he consciously has to know, feel and realise that he is an unconditionally surrendered soul of the all-seeing, all-loving and all-fulfilling Guru — the Guru of all Gurus, the Supreme. The Supreme is the only Guru, here on earth and there in Heaven. There is only one Guru and that is the Supreme. Let us try to please Him the way He wants us to please Him. Let us try; we shall succeed. We shall all march toward the goal and shall be fulfilled.

Question: What should be our attitude while doing selfless service for you?

Sri Chinmoy: You may work for me ten to fifteen hours a day, but if your attitude is wrong you will get nothing from your actions. Furthermore, these very things that you are doing can be done by somebody else. Believe me, no disciple of mine is indispensable, no matter what post he or she holds. Again, I also am not indispensable. In the eyes of the Supreme, I am a tiny drop. If I, who am supposed to be your leader, am not indispensable, then how do you think that you are indispensable? The leader himself can be removed by the Supreme.

Devoted action, surrendered action, can be equivalent to contemplation. When I ask you to do something, please feel that it is through devoted action that I am trying to bring you closer to me, to the divine reality in me. This is an opportunity, a real opportunity for you. You can become closer to me through your meditation, and you can become closer through dedicated action. Meditation is one way; dedicated action is another.

There is inner action and outer action. If I ask somebody to do something, that is outer action. Through his dedicated action he will grow close to me. But if you, whom I have not asked to do that particular job, can inwardly offer to me your sincere wish that he do this job well, then that is your inner action. If I ask somebody else to do something and if you become jealous or feel miserable, then you are getting zero out of a hundred. Also, you are unconsciously creating a problem for that person. Your jealousy, your undivine thoughts and other wrong elements enter into him, and he is prevented from doing his action. Unconsciously he becomes the victim of those thoughts and then he cannot do his action devotedly.

But if you want to get a hundred out of a hundred, then when I have asked a particular person to do something you will send your good will. "Oh, let him do it well, let her do it well." Your dedicated action will be at that time good will. So when he gets the thing done in the outer plane and he gets a hundred out of a hundred, you are also bound to get the same.

At our spiritual Centre, everybody is involved. If I ask someone to do something and he does it, then everyone gets the benefit. If you do something well, then others are also getting the benefit. But if you do not do well, then everybody becomes the loser. Here you have found a family. Your success will be accepted by others as their success. Your failure has to be accepted by others as their failure. In this way, when you accept others' failure or success as your very own, you can really be my spiritual child.

Question: Should one try to meditate while doing selfless service?

Sri Chinmoy: When you do selfless service, service for the Supreme, please look at the material or the object that you are working on and feel that the work is your meditation. It is enough if you do your work well. You should not allow yourself to be distracted by looking from side to side or talking to others. Many, many times I have seen people talking, talking, talking and making selfless service a kind of pleasure. Selfless service is real dedication. Meditation is very good, but it is not necessary during selfless service. Everything has its own place. One should meditate at the time of meditation and do selfless service, which is also a form of meditation, at the time for selfless service.

Question: What role does selfless service play on your path?

Sri Chinmoy: In our path, selfless service plays a considerable role. Meditation and selfless service are both of paramount importance. Aspiration includes both meditation and selfless service. We cannot separate selfless service from meditation. When we meditate, we go high, very high. We enter into a higher plane of consciousness which we then try to manifest. If we don't manifest it, Mother Earth does not get any benefit from us. If we climb up the tree and pluck mangoes, we are feeding ourselves, but this does not help humanity at all. But if we come down and share with others who do not know how to climb, then they will get the strength to also climb up the tree. This kind of selfless service benefits humanity tremendously.

Each time we do selfless service we increase our capacity. God is omnipresent. He is the universal Consciousness. When we do selfless service, we feel oneness with the rest of mankind and become one with this universal Consciousness. Each moment we do something selflessly we enlarge our consciousness from the one to the many. First oneness starts with our spiritual brothers and sisters and then it spreads to the rest of the world. Here it is an expansion, a discovery of one's own reality which is fulfilled in self-expansion.

But we have to feel that this selfless service is not an act of sacrifice: It is an act of discovery. If we take it as sacrifice, then we will develop a kind of ego. "I am sacrificing everything for others, and they are all useless fellows. They do not give me anything in return. I am the only one who is giving and the others are only receiving." If we take it in that way, then we will only develop our subtle ego, which is the real thief in us.

But if we take our selfless service as an act of discovery, we find we are only enlarging our consciousness. Our hand is making us feel that our leg is also part of our being. Without our hand we cannot be perfect; without our leg we cannot be perfect; without the eye or nose we cannot be perfect. Each limb of our body is equally important.

Question: Should disciples accept the service of other disciples?

Sri Chinmoy: There are people who get joy by giving you this service. So why do you say that you don't want to take it, that you want to be independent? You say that you don't want to bother anybody or exploit anybody's service. But there are people on earth who make progress only by serving their spiritual sisters and brothers. By doing something for you, they are doing the equivalent of meditation.

There are disciples who occasionally don't go to meditation because they are working for the Centre. While they are working they are getting much. Their whole attention is at that time focused inwardly on me. Just because they are serving the Supreme in me, they have extended their consciousness and are getting the result of real meditation. Their service is their way of meditation. Ask them to meditate for five, ten or twenty minutes, and they will enter into the world of daydreams or sleep. But when they serve the Divine in me, immediately my soul recognises their service.

Question: What is the relationship between service and love-offerings to the centre?

Sri Chinmoy: As long as I want you to do your present work, feel that it is not standing in your way. If one is sincere and wants to serve in my mission, and if I see that that person is being hampered by undivine forces, then I will definitely tell that person to leave his job. But you have to feel that right now it is necessary for you to work. You have to support yourself. Also, you make love-offerings to the Centre. My only fee is aspiration and regularity, but we depend on love-offerings to maintain the physical body of the Centre. If you people help to support the body, the physical structure, the Centre, then money becomes at that time an instrument.

I am a spiritual man. If I go to a grocery and ask for a potato and other things and try to pay for it with my light, they will throw me out. At that time I need material power. You earn this money by the sweat of your brow. When you give something it is a form of meditation. If you give one dollar, feel that your hard-earned money is your dedication. There is no difference between selfless dedication and real meditation. Self-dedication is a form of meditation.

But you have to know that money will not 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 and millions of dollars or if you give me the Empire State Building, the Supreme's hunger in me for His infinite manifestation will not be satisfied with this. But if devotion and dedication come, then I am fully satisfied. In the Gita, Krishna says that if somebody gives him a leaf, just a leaf, he is satisfied. But again, those who are offering their money with an attitude of dedicated service are being of great help to my mission. I am not belittling those who are giving, but their service is of benefit only if they are doing it with devotion and dedication.

If somebody gives me thousands of dollars and thinks, "Oh, since we have given thousands of dollars, then Guru will not scold us; he will not threaten us," it will be of no use. Try it, you will see. No real spiritual Master can be bound by money. You can give millions of dollars, and the next day you will be asked to leave the Centre if I am not satisfied with your spiritual progress. But I will be your real dedicated slave at every moment if you give me a leaf 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. But if you give just to feel your own importance or to make me feel that you are very great, then that is no service. In that case, you will not be able to make spiritual progress, inner progress. On the contrary, the money will feed your own pride, vanity and conscious or unconscious demand. If your attitude is good, if I see dedication when you give me money, then it is to your benefit, to my benefit and to the Supreme's benefit.

Question: How can I become closer to you, Guru?

Sri Chinmoy: If you feel that closeness means physical proximity, then that kind of closeness will not help you at all. In the spiritual life, if one wants to become close to the Master, then the most effective way is through constant dedicated service. Meditation is indispensable; all seekers have to meditate. But along with meditation, one has to do dedicated service, and he has to do it with utmost love and surrender.

It is not that you will work soulfully only when I ask you to do something for me in my physical presence. That is not dedicated service. It is an injustice, an insult to my inner being, if you care only for my physical presence. Dedicated service comes when you feel my inner presence no matter where you are or I am. The Centres in Puerto Rico, Jamaica, West Indies and Switzerland do dedicated service. But they do not have my physical presence. What they need and what they get is my inner presence. So if anybody wants to become closer to me, he has to cultivate the consciousness of my inner presence.

When you serve, you increase your receptivity. Right now you are very narrow and your capacity for receptivity is very limited. But the more you serve the Supreme, the greater the receptivity you will have. When you have receptivity in abundant measure, you will be able to receive more divine blessings and more divine concern from your spiritual Master.

Question: How can I learn to devote myself to you?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two ways: one way is to be devoted to one's own spiritual life; another way is to be devoted to the Supreme in me. When somebody says, "I wish to be devoted to you," I always say that that person has to be devoted to the Supreme in me, as I am devoted to the Supreme in him.

There is only one Guru, one Master, and that is the Supreme. In order to be totally devoted, you have to love the Supreme in me infinitely more than you love anything or anybody else on earth. It is not me that you love, but the Supreme in me. This Supreme in me has to come first in everything. At that time, there is no mother, no father, no brother, no sister, no wife, no husband. If you feel that there is anybody who is dearer to you than me in your life, then it will be a mistake. The husband, wife, brother or sister are all necessary, but this friendship or oneness lasts for twenty, thirty, forty or fifty years and then it disappears. In your next incarnation perhaps your dearest friend or dearest person on earth will have nothing to do with you. These relationships are all temporary. You are walking together, then you part. But you have to remember that there is an eternal Friend, an eternal Father and Mother, and that is the Supreme in the Master.

You have to feel that he who connects you with the Supreme Beloved, who is everything, should be most important in your life. There are many, many people on earth who are not connected with God. Here I am not taking any credit. No! Only I wish to say that there is somebody who is working for you, working on your behalf, and that is your Master. Outwardly I may not speak to you for more than three months, but inwardly, you have to feel that I think of you more than you think of yourself. My constant thinking is for your perfection, for your liberation. When I accept you as a disciple, I do not come as a superior or an autocrat; I come as an eternal friend who wants to show you the Light of the Supreme. Once I show you the Light, then my part is over. If you can feel that the Supreme in me is infinitely more capable of doing things for you or giving you things than anybody else on earth, then you can easily become devoted.

Right now you are trying to please yourself all the time, because you feel that you love yourself most. That's why you eat, play and go to work. You do everything to please yourself first. There is no difference between you and your life activities. Both are like thick friends, most intimate friends. But you have to feel that I am somebody who is even more intimate to you than your life activities. Only then will you discover devotion.

Let us say that your body, vital and mind are on one side and on the other side are your activities. You have to feel that there is a connecting link between you and your actions, and that is I. I am trying to inspire you to do something good, divine or immortal, to be a chosen instrument of the Supreme in your life of aspiration and realisation and in your life of activities and manifestation. I become the bridge between your height and your manifestation.

From now on, always try to think of me before you do anything or say anything. Early in the morning, before any thought comes into your mind, just try to visualise me or look at my picture. After you have seen my picture for a few seconds or a minute, try to feel that your breath is entering into my heart. That means your living existence, your entire existence on earth, will be under my loving care. The heart means loving concern, compassion and protection. When you breathe out, feel that your breath is entering into me. And when you breathe in, feel that your breath is coming directly from the inmost recesses of my heart. The breath of purity and divinity — realised divinity or manifested divinity — you take from me; and the life of imperfection, impurity, uncertainty, obscurity that comes from your own existence, you throw into me. In that way, automatically, spontaneously, you can be extremely dedicated and devoted to the Supreme in me.

Please do not expect anything from me in your own way. Expect only things that the Divine within me, the Supreme within me, wants to give you. Very often people cannot totally devote themselves to the Supreme in me because they have their own expectation. But it is better not to expect anything because God knows what is best. The mother knows what is best for the child; she knows how to feed the child and how to give it joy. The one who is taking care of you is always conscious, always careful, always thinking of you. In that case, it is unnecessary to expect anything.

When you have no expectation, it is because you have the inner conviction that He, the Omniscient, the Omnipotent, who is all kindness and affection, will naturally give you His infinite Peace, Light and Bliss if you are totally open to Him. Your attitude should be one of total receptivity and self-offering. Where does the capacity of receptivity and self-offering come from? It comes directly from the Supreme. You cannot give even one fleeting second of self-offering from within to somebody else if you are not inspired by God.

We can make the fastest progress when there is no expectation, for at that time there will be no anger, no frustration, no depression. It is just like a child who is playing cheerfully in the garden. He knows that when the time comes, his mother or father will come and take him home. Here our home is the Supreme's Abode. The Supreme comes when we are cheerfully singing, dancing and playing inwardly — that is to say, inwardly praying and meditating. Our inner prayer will always be heard, will always be accepted by the Supreme; and then He will carry us to our eternal Home.

But there is something called divine expectation. Human expectation you know. It is all mixed up with vital pleasure or various things that emerge from the vital and the mind. In human expectation, we act but we do not know the result of our act. Sometimes we get success and sometimes we get failure. But if we expect success, then it may become a reality today or twenty years from now or not at all. But in God's case it is not like that. God clearly knows the ultimate result. There can be no failure in God's case. In God's case, even what we call failure is a tremendous success, because it comes as a fulfilling experience. So in divine expectation reality is well-established. Reality and divine expectation cannot be separated. Of course, the manifestation of reality in the physical may take time. Patience is necessary.

But if we live in God's Time and God's Patience, which is all Light, then expectation and reality will go together. In this way we still have expectation, but we have changed our attitude. We are not expecting the thing in our own way, but we are expecting something which will come from the Supreme in His own way.

Poems from the first edition

The purpose of my existence

God, my heart
Was born to love.
Do You believe it?
"Son, I do, I certainly do."

God, my body
Was born to serve.
Do You believe it?
"Son, I do, I certainly do.
I also believe something
Today you love,
Today you serve;
Tomorrow you will guide,
Tomorrow you will lead."

Only one service

Your true heart needs
No consolation from you.
It can easily overcome
All earth's false accusations.

Your true soul needs
Only one service from you:
A single cry from your inner heart.

Your true Goal needs
Only one service from you:
A single smile from your surrender-life.

Four divine servants

Washes his body.

Cleanses his heart.

Purifies his breath.

Immortalises his life.

If you

If you
Love man in God,
The adventure of consciousness-light
Will embrace you without fail.

If you
Serve God in man,
The consciousness-light of adventure
Will claim you and treasure you.

Our commitment

Life is our commitment
To equality.
Love is our commitment
To reality.
Peace is our commitment
To liberty.
Power is our commitment
To divinity.
God is our commitment
To Immortality.

A golden link

His heart of fear
His mind of doubt
A wide chasm creeps.

His vital of aggression
His body of suppression
A wide chasm creeps.

Between his soul of service
His God of Love
No chasm creeps.
A golden link
God the Lover Supreme
And man the server divine.

Lord, I am tired

Lord, I am tired.
"Since you are tired, My son,
Even before
Your journey's start,
I shall run for you."

Lord, I am tired.
"Since you are tired, My son,
Even before
Your journey's start,
I shall sail your dream-boat
And reach for you
Your golden Reality-shore."

Whom to believe?

My desire-night says
God does not care for me.

My aspiration-sun says
God constantly cares for me.

Whom to believe?

I leave it up to God.
Lord, just once solve
My insoluble problem.

"Son, your desire needs aspiration;
Your aspiration needs realisation."

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