Sri Chinmoy answers, part 2

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Part I

SCA 32-42. On 19 December 1993 the staff of the international monthly newspaper //Hinduism Today// invited Sri Chinmoy to visit and bless their premises on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami and his disciples lovingly welcomed Sri Chinmoy and some of his students to their ashram for a traditional puja and a tour of the beautiful grounds, followed by a special luncheon. Afterwards Sri Chinmoy was interviewed by the Editor of //Hinduism Today//, the Reverend Sivasiva Palaniswami; the Managing Editor, the Reverend Arumugaswami; and other senior editors. These are excerpts from Sri Chinmoy's answers to their soulful questions.

Visiting Hinduism Today

Sri Chinmoy: You sow the seed of light everywhere. Your own dedication is touching the very heart of humanity’s aspiration.

Editor: We only live and exist because of people like you, believe me.

Rev. Palaniswami speaks briefly about the publication and then Sri Chinmoy’s students perform the song that Sri Chinmoy composed for Hinduism Today.

Editor: How precious that is! This definitely is a first in our editorial offices. I wonder, in the spirit of that glorious benediction, if you might say a few words that could help guide our efforts. Every order of Hindu monks has something — perhaps an eye clinic or a school for children or orphans — to balance their contemplative enterprises. You are the great example of “giving back.” Hinduism Today is our contribution, and we need to know from you how to do it better — what you would like to see. What does the Hindu heart and soul need from all of us?

Sri Chinmoy: No hyperbole, your Hinduism Today not only embodies the supreme wisdom-light of the hoary past, but also reveals and manifests the infinite Compassion, the infinite Concern and the infinite Blessings of the Indian Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva: Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Transformer. According to Indian theory, Lord Shiva plays the role of the destroyer. But according to my aspiring heart, he never destroys anything; he only transforms. He transforms our ignorance-night into wisdom-light. Not only the Blessings, Compassion and Concern of the Trinity, but also the Blessings of the Indian cosmic gods and goddesses I see and feel when I read your Hinduism Today.

Over the years I have studied many, many books on Hinduism written by scholars, professors, truth-seekers and God-lovers, and before I pass behind the curtain of Eternity, I shall read and study many more. Also, I personally have offered my tiniest drop of aspiration to the infinite ocean of Hinduism. But among all these books, your magazine stands unparalleled. I use the term ‘magazine’, but it is not merely a magazine. It is not just a few pages of paper with ink. It is not something that is read just to stimulate our vital or feed our curiosity — far from it! Your Hinduism Today is a divine and sumptuous feast that is nourishing the God-hungry heart of the entire aspiring mankind.

When I read Hinduism Today, I definitely see the divine dances of the Indian cosmic gods and goddesses and hear their celestial music. The loftiest vision of the Indian gods and goddesses you are so devotedly, lovingly and self-givingly offering to the world at large with utmost humility, which is absolutely the best quality that we human beings can ever dare to aspire for. Your Hinduism Today is flooded with supernal humility.

We are living in the scientific age of computers. The poor Vedic seers did not have computers; they did not even dream of them. Another reason I appreciate and admire your Hinduism Today is that it offers the ancient lore of the Vedic seers but distributes it in the ultra-modern way. The twentieth century demands a different type of treatment, and you are combining the inner world of silence and the outer world of sound most perfectly. Both worlds you are bringing to the fore and keeping together.

I am so happy to learn that this magazine will touch many parts of the world, and especially India, where Hinduism had its origin. In Hinduism, the truth-seeker and God-lover claims each creation of God as his own, very own. By virtue of his prayers and meditations, he offers to the world at large the Message-Light and the Nectar-Delight of the ever-transcending Beyond.

Hinduism Today, to your all-illumining soul I bow and I bow. Hinduism Today, to your all-loving heart I bow and I bow. Hinduism Today, to your all-serving life I bow and I bow.

Editor: Thank you, Guru. The staff has assembled a number of queries. I think each one of them has some questions.

Sri Chinmoy: I would be most happy to be of service to you. Nothing would give me a greater sense of satisfaction than to be of service to other aspiring human beings, because in our hearts we are all the time growing together and in our souls we are all the time glowing together.

Question: Our paper is called Hinduism Today, which you so beautifully rendered into song. There is one question we ask everybody when we start. We ask, "Are you a Hindu?"

Sri Chinmoy: If I use my mind, then I will say I am a Hindu. But the real in me is my aspiration, my love of Truth, my love of God. Therefore I am neither Hindu nor Christian; I do not belong to any religion. When I am wholeheartedly aspiring, I am not a member of any religion; at that time I am cosmopolitan. I am a seeker of Truth and a lover of God, and all the religions I claim as my own.

Each religion is like a home. You live in Hawaii, someone else lives in California and I live in New York. Your home is perfectly right for you and my home is perfectly right for me. But when we pray and meditate, we leave our respective homes and study in the same inner school. At this inner school we come together to pray in the small hours of the morning. We raise our aspiration and see our heart’s inner cry climbing up high, higher, highest. Our Teacher is none other than the Absolute Lord Supreme.

I am a Hindu in the sense that I was born into the Ghose family. But when I am dealing with the world of aspiration, at that time I do not need my surname; I am just Chinmoy. Similarly, once we enter into the spiritual life proper, we do not need Hinduism or Christianity or any other ‘ism’. All the time we are only expanding our oneness. Every day, on the strength of our heart’s cry and soul’s smile, we are trying to serve God the Creator and God the creation.

Again, we have to know that Hinduism is not a man-made religion that binds and blinds humanity, claiming supremacy and sovereignty; it is the code of life. To me, Hinduism is Divinity’s Oneness-Heart-Home. In this Home, Infinity’s beauty at every moment blossoms and Immortality’s fragrance blesses us most powerfully and significantly. To me, a true Hindu is he who can prayerfully claim that he came, he lived, he loved and he became. He came into the world to realise the Absolute Truth of the Absolute Lord Supreme in the Supreme’s own Way. He lived only to please and fulfil God in God’s own Way. He loved God the Creator and served God the creation in God’s own Way. And he became a perfectly surrendered instrument of our Beloved Lord Supreme. To please God in His own Way at every moment, a Hindu life is born.

Question: One of the things that you talk about a lot in your writings is self-transcendence. We were talking to Ashrita about his breaking the brick-carrying world record, which was certainly an example of self-transcendence. He said that after he had walked around the track with a nine-pound brick for forty miles, he was on the verge of collapsing. Then you came and your presence and a few things you said put him into a state of self-transcendence. What do you do? How can you catalyse a person, or how can a person catalyse himself to transcend what he believes are his normal limitations?

Sri Chinmoy: Self-transcendence is not only possible, but practical and practicable, provided we sincerely feel in the very depths of our heart that we are not the doer but Somebody else is the Doer. Who is that Somebody else? It is our highest part, our Absolute Lord Supreme.

In our Bhagavad Gita, the Song Celestial, Lord Sri Krishna taught us, nimitta matram bhava savyasachin — “Become a mere instrument.” In my case, I tell my students never, never to think that they are the doers, because only God is the Doer. They should only offer their gratitude to Him at every moment because He is acting in and through them to do something special for Him.

There are many feats that Ashrita has performed over the years that are far beyond my own imagination-flight. He has succeeded because he has implicit faith in me and I have implicit faith in the Supreme, who is my students’ Guru, my Guru, everybody’s Guru. I always tell my students, “I am not your Guru. There is only one Guru on earth and in Heaven, and that is the Absolute Lord Supreme. He is our Eternity’s All.”

I tell all my students that I am like the elder brother in our spiritual family. As the elder brother, I know where our Father is. My job is to bring my younger brothers and sisters to the Father. Then my role is over and the younger ones can deal with the Father directly. On the strength of my inner awakening and realisation, I can say that I have been praying for quite a few years, even centuries. So I know an iota more about aspiration and realisation than Ashrita does, and I try to create faith inside him so he will come and follow me to the Father. I try to increase his own faith in himself so that he will see and feel that he is a supremely chosen instrument of God.

I am praying to God to bring to the fore only one quality in each individual: the faith that he is a special member of God’s family with a special purpose in life. Through each individual God is trying to manifest something unique. God does not want each and every human being in this world to perform the same task. No, He wants multiplicity in unity. A tree has one trunk but so many branches, flowers and fruits.

Our philosophy, as you so kindly mentioned, is self-transcendence. I happen to be an athlete. Let us say I have reached a certain standard and I am very proud of myself. But the moment I look around, I will see that somebody else can defeat me easily. So if we enter into the world of competition and try to defeat the whole world, we will be doomed to disappointment. Perhaps this moment we will stand first, but the next moment there will be somebody else to defeat us. So in the world of competition there is no peace; always there is somebody who is better. But if we try to compete only with ourselves and continually improve our own standard, then we are always happy.

In the spiritual life also, we are always trying to transcend and go beyond. If today I do twenty things wrong, then tomorrow I will try to do only nineteen things wrong. I will constantly try to improve myself, and in this way I will get a tremendous sense of satisfaction. I am not competing with anybody other than myself. This is how I can feel that I am arriving at perfection. Again, today’s perfection is only the starting point for tomorrow’s higher perfection.

Question: I understand you spent time at Sri Aurobindo's Ashram. I was very impressed that all the members of the Ashram are celibate at all ages. Even married, they practise brahmacharya, or continence. I've noticed that many of your devotees don't have children. I'm wondering how you instruct them or inspire them or talk about this area of brahmacharya in marriage.

Sri Chinmoy: It is all based on my personal experience in the inner world, which grew out of my prayer and meditation. Each spiritual Master entirely depends on the adesh, or divine command. At the age of 32 I was commanded by my Lord Supreme to come to America to be of service to seekers here. Most of my students are unmarried. I ask them what they actually want from life: joy or pleasure. There is a great difference between the two. Pleasure-life is always followed by frustration, and frustration is followed by destruction. Once we are really frustrated, our destruction is imminent. But if we get even an iota of bliss from our prayer and meditation, immediately our inner being is swimming in the sea of light and delight. During our meditation, if for five seconds we get a glimpse of divine light, the whole day we are flying in the sky of Infinity and swimming in the sea of delight.

I tell my disciples, “I did not touch your feet and beg you to join our path. No, you saw and felt something in me and I also saw and felt something in you. It was not one-sided — no, no, no! I felt in you a real inner hunger and you felt in me a real elder brother who would show you utmost love and compassion. Once upon a time you were wallowing in the pleasures of ignorance, but now you are aspiring and consciously crying for light. So the only thing that will really satisfy and fulfil you is the inner joy that you will get from your prayer and meditation.”

Fifteen or twenty years ago, before they came to our path, some of my students were taking drugs. Once they saw me, when I was giving talks or answering questions or meditating with them, they gave up their drug-life because they realised that this food would not nourish them anymore. They wanted something else. A child of one or two will take mud and clay as his food. Whatever he sees around him, he will eat. His mother will scold him and teach him to eat proper food. Then, when the child grows up, he will want to eat only proper food. In exactly the same way, once we enter into the spiritual life we stop eating the mud and clay of pleasure-life and drink only the inner nectar of divine joy.

Every second we can go higher or go lower, depending upon what we see, do and enter into. I go to many Indian restaurants and eat spicy food; the human in me may like this. But today’s food has pleased the divine in me immensely because it was so sattvic. From today’s food I got real, divine nourishment, not only because the food was so pure, but also because I am here with Gurudeva and his dearest devotees. In other Indian restaurants I do not hear the Vedic chants; instead I get rock and roll or other undivine music. I am trying to eat, but the lower vital forces and bad vibrations there are trying to pull me down, so I am all the time on tenterhooks. But here I do not have to worry, for who is going to bring whom down? On the contrary, here we are only lifting each other up.

Editor: Are you saying in a subtle way that you feel brahmacharya is important to spirituality?

Sri Chinmoy: Absolutely, but for some I cannot expect it to happen immediately. If somebody is studying at the high school level, I cannot expect him to suddenly take a Masters degree. Also, this is the twentieth century, and I try to be practical with my students. To people who are married, I say, “Do not try to become celibate overnight. Slowly and steadily reduce your physical, earthly hunger.”

Again, there are some who are ready to run very fast in their spiritual life. Perhaps they were born into a spiritual family, and their parents and older brothers and sisters are already practising spirituality, so they have that background. People who are already awakened are more than ready to follow the strict discipline of a celibate life. I tell them, “It is up to you how fast you want to run along Eternity’s Road. If you are eager to go the fastest, if you are thirsting for light, then you have to do the things that are absolutely necessary to increase your speed.”

Editor: What are those things?

Sri Chinmoy: Our philosophy is:

Asato ma sad gamaya
tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
mrityor ma amritam gamaya

Lead me from the unreal to the Real.
Lead me from darkness to Light.
Lead me from death to Immortality.

As an individual I know what is binding me, you know what is binding you, he knows what is binding him. We can call it temptation or ignorance or something else, but it reveals itself in various ways. What is preventing one person from making progress is different from what is preventing somebody else from making progress. Somebody is suffering from jealousy; somebody else is suffering from insecurity or impurity. But whatever our problem, we can always find the solution by surrendering the problem to God, our Inner Pilot.

Let us say that somebody is suffering from impurity. I tell that person, “Think of yourself as a child of six or seven. You went out and played in the mud, and now your whole body is smeared with dirt and clay. But you know that there is somebody who can immediately make you clean again, and that is your mother. So you run to your mother and she cleans you.” When a child runs to his mother, he is not ashamed or embarrassed. He just goes to her and is immediately purified.

Similarly, no matter how many impure or undivine things we have done, there is always a Person we can come to for purification, and that is God, our Beloved Supreme. He is ever ready to help us, for this is His bounden Duty. God can never be satisfied if His child, His chosen child, is dirty and filthy. So if I have done something wrong, then I will go to the right Person to be saved, and God will immediately purify me. If a mother sees that her son has done something wrong, she immediately and secretly rectifies it because she wants the neighbours to say, “Oh, he is a very nice boy!”

We try to hide from God, but how can we hide from someone who is omnipresent? God is so affectionate and compassionate, but He tries to hide it. This is how He plays His Cosmic Game. But we have to know that at every moment God is trying to make us perfect. This is the task that He has taken upon Himself. We can never, never become worthy of God’s Compassion, but He has accepted the challenge. We have not challenged God; God has challenged Himself. Our task is only to have implicit faith in Him, plus gratitude and surrender.

We all pray — you and I and everyone. Can there be a better, higher, more illumining or more fulfilling prayer than “Let Thy Will be done”? That prayer touches the supreme heights. Peace begins when expectation ends. If I do a favour for you, immediately I expect a favour in return. And if you do not reciprocate, I start finding fault with you. But when we are praying to God, our prayer has to be unconditional. That unconditional feeling is what will save us. I tell my students that it is their bounden duty early in the morning to pray and meditate, but then they have to leave it up to God to do what He feels is best, for He knows what we need in order to make the fastest progress.

Let us say a child finds a dime on the road and comes running to his father to give it to him. His only possession is that one dime, but happily he gives it to his father. So what will the father do? The father knows that with this dime his child could have bought something, or he could have hidden it like a miser. But happily and cheerfully he gave it to his father because he has such love for his father and such faith in his father. The father is so pleased with his child that he will give the child ten dollars. Because the child came to the right person, he received much more than he would otherwise have gotten.

When we offer our prayer soulfully, lovingly and unconditionally, then we get infinitely more than we can ever imagine. But our prayer has to be unconditional. We will do the right thing, but without any expectation. I tell my students, “Why do you have to expect? Are you a beggar? If you know your Father is all for you and if you claim your Father as your own, very own, then how can you not have faith that He will give you whatever you need?” A small child knows only how to cry. If he is hungry, he cries, and his mother comes running to him no matter where she is. The child does not use the term ‘milk’; he does not ask for anything in particular. His job is only to cry. Then his mother comes running with milk because she knows what he needs.

Similarly, we have to cry only for God to make us a good instrument of His. In our prayer we will say, “I am at Your Feet. Just make me a good instrument.” In order to make me a good instrument, God will definitely make me simple, sincere, pure and self-giving. How can I be a good instrument of His if I do not have those qualities? But those good qualities I do not have to specifically mention — far from it! Only I will cry to become a good instrument of His, and the things that are needed to make me a good instrument, God will definitely give me.

Again, we have to know that there is such a thing as God’s choice Hour. We sow the seed and immediately we expect the tree, but it takes time. We have to let the seed germinate. It must first grow into a tiny plant before it becomes a huge banyan tree. Spiritual seekers often make the mistake of looking for an immediate result. But we have to know that everything takes time. It is like turning on the flame of a stove. You can keep on turning the handle, but until it reaches a certain point, there is no flame. So I tell my students that they have to wait for God’s choice Hour. That Hour comes only when God gives us the capacity. I will pray, but He will fulfil Himself in and through me only at His choice Hour.

All of us need and want freedom. This is not the freedom of a Caesar or a Napoleon, who wanted to conquer the world, but the freedom of Jesus Christ or Lord Krishna or Lord Buddha, who wanted only to love and serve the world. It is oneness-freedom that we are trying to have. We have to feel that the whole world belongs to us, that we are part and parcel of the world and destined to serve the world. If this is our feeling, and if we pray soulfully and unconditionally to God, then definitely we shall grow into good and perfect instruments of His.

Editor: We'd like to ask you to offer your advice to the average person or to someone who is just beginning to acquaint himself with meditation as to how he can make it a more integral part of his life.

Sri Chinmoy: Prayer is one road and meditation is another road. In the East, in India, meditation is part and parcel of people’s living existence, whereas prayer is part and parcel of people’s living existence in the West. When we pray, we talk to God; and when we meditate, we listen to God. In the West people find it easy to talk to God, but meditation they find more difficult. In meditation God is entering into us and inundating us with His Peace, with His Light, with His Bliss. But if it is difficult for us to feel the Presence of God, then we should start with prayer. If we find it difficult to listen to God, we should start by talking to God. Once we have established communication, we can have a two-way conversation.

If we go up and knock at God’s Door with our prayers, then He will definitely come down with His Blessings, with His Love, with His Compassion. Once we start to feel His Blessings, His Love, His Compassion in our lives, we will be able to immediately enter into meditation without first going through prayer. Again, some people find even prayer difficult. These people should start with japa. If they like Shiva, they will chant, “Shiva, Shiva, Shiva.” Or they can chant “Supreme.” After doing it a few hundred times, they will see how much benefit they get.

If japa is too difficult, seekers should spend time mixing with people who can do japa, who can pray, who can meditate. If they cannot do it themselves, then let them come to this place, for example, and just sit at the feet of Gurudeva. People can start anywhere they want, according to their own standard. If they are meant for japa, then Gurudeva will advise them to do japa. If they are ready for prayer, then he will teach them how to pray. He can teach kindergarten as well as the university course.

If someone wants to go directly to meditation without first starting with japa or prayer, then he has to know that there are three rungs to the ladder: concentration, meditation and contemplation. If it is very difficult for someone to meditate [Sri Chinmoy demonstrates meditation], then let him start with concentration [Sri Chinmoy demonstrates concentration]. Most people cannot meditate well because uncomely and uninspiring thoughts are entering into their minds. We are thinking of what we ate yesterday for breakfast, or what we are going to eat tomorrow. Concentration is like a naked sword that will not let us be distracted. So let us pave the way with concentration. In concentration, we do not allow an iota of thought, whether good or bad, to enter into our mind. Somebody is knocking at our mind’s door, but we do not know if it is a good thought or a bad thought, if it is a friend or an enemy. So the best thing is to keep the door bolted.

When we see that there is not even an iota of thought trying to enter, when we have passed our own examination on the strength of our sincerity, at that time we are ready to meditate. Finally, if we are advanced, after some time we will enter into contemplation. In contemplation, the divine lover and the Supreme Beloved are one. We are observing our Highest, and at the same time, we are our own Highest observing ourselves. At this moment I am the God-lover and my Beloved is right before me. The next moment we change roles, and He is the lover whereas I am the Beloved [Sri Chinmoy demonstrates contemplation].

Question: We're interested in hearing a little more about what made you decide to come to the West.

Sri Chinmoy: For me, there is no India, no America, no Europe; there is only God’s House, God’s Mansion, God’s Palace. At one moment God asks me to stay and work in a particular room of His House, which is called America. The next moment He can easily tell me to go and work in another room, which is called India. The following moment he can order me to go and work in England or Germany or some other place. My task is to accept His Command cheerfully, readily and willingly at every moment. My task is only to be at His Feet and surrender my very existence to Him unconditionally.

I do not obey God because I am afraid that He will punish me if I disobey Him. No, I listen to God’s Commands because I love God. His Love-aspect is drawing me towards Him like a magnet. If God asks me to go somewhere to work for Him, out of love I will go. For me, God is God because He is all Love, not because He is all Power. The Power-aspect of God does not enchant me. What can be more powerful than Love itself? Human beings are all the time giving importance to power. But when we accept the spiritual life, we come to realise that it is the power of love that we need.

So for me, there is no India and no America. For me there is only one thing: God’s Command. When I pray and meditate, I receive this Command or Message in the inmost recesses of my heart. Then I try to be of service to my Lord Supreme happily, cheerfully, willingly and, most importantly, unconditionally. Only if we serve God unconditionally can we be really fulfilled. No matter what we have, no matter what we grow into, no matter what we become, we can never be satisfied unless and until we are able to love God and serve God unconditionally.

You are physically in Hawaii, but God is asking you to serve the whole world from here. In my case also, physically I am based in New York; but spiritually, by virtue of my aspiration, I am not limited to New York. My aspiration takes me everywhere. When we live in the world of aspiration, we are everywhere. But when we live in the world of desire, we are nowhere, because desire is all the time binding and limiting us.

When I was born, my whole world was my father and mother. Then, when I grew a little older, my tiny village was my whole world. Then my town, my city, my province and my country became my whole world. Each time I became more awakened or developed, my consciousness expanded. Now if you ask me, “Where do you live?” the human in me will say, “I live in New York.” But the divine in me will say, “No, I live inside the heart of aspiring humanity. My real home is inside the heart of my spiritual brothers and sisters, just as they also live inside my heart.”

Question: You have gathered around you in Jamaica, Queens a very special group of souls. One thing always impresses us: every one of your students that we meet is completely committed to the spiritual life. It's a wonderful change from some of the semi-seriousness that we see in other groups. How do you see that little enclave of aspiring seekers gathered near you? They're out on their own, but also nearby, although not in your ashram or home. I don't think there's another group like it.

Sri Chinmoy: It is most kind of you. If we want to become better citizens of the world, we feel that we have to grow together. My disciples have accepted me as their spiritual father and I have accepted them as my spiritual children, so we belong together. I have implicit faith that my students are willing and eager to walk, march and run with me along Eternity’s Road. Again, they have faith that I will be able to help them, guide them and lead them to the destined Shore. So everything is based on mutual faith.

I give them what I am and what I have. They also give me what they are and what they have. This is how I am with them individually and collectively — not only in Jamaica, but in various parts of the world. I tell them one thing: see always the good things in others and try to increase those things. If I give importance to the dawn that breaks early in the morning, then my whole consciousness will be flooded with light. Again, if I want to think of the darkness that precedes the dawn, then my mind will be enveloped by darkness.

I always tell my students to see the positive aspect of life, not the negative aspect. I tell them to love others and try to bring forward not only their own good qualities, but also others’ good qualities. I say, “If you see that someone has two good qualities and one bad quality, appreciate and admire him for his good qualities. Then he himself will be embarrassed to have that bad quality and he will try to get rid of it. But if you go and tell him, ‘Oh, you have that bad quality’, then he is not going to change. You are only making yourself into his enemy.”

Question: Do your students have the opportunity to come to you privately at home?

Sri Chinmoy: They can come to me privately for short interviews, either in my home or at our tennis court, where I have a private room. I am an avid tennis player and I allow my students to play tennis there, because the message of tennis is “love and serve.” Tennis starts with love and then goes to service. If you serve well, then you get a point. Similarly, if you love the Supreme and serve the Supreme in mankind, you are doing absolutely the right thing.

Many times my disciples have asked for interviews, and I have granted them. But very often on the day that their interview is scheduled, early in the morning they find that their problem is solved, so the interview is no longer necessary. It has happened many times that I did not have to give an interview at the appointed hour because the disciple’s problems had already been inwardly solved.

Just two weeks ago the parents of five of my disciples died, and the disciples came to me for consolation. Individually they came and sat in front of me to pray and meditate. Most lovingly and most compassionately I told them, “Life and death are two rooms, side by side. This room, where we are physically and mentally active, we call life. This is where we stay during the day. Then, in the evening, we go to the other room to take rest. If you pray and meditate, you will see the door connecting the two rooms.

“Right now you are not able to go inside the other room, but there is Somebody who can go there, and that is God. Please pray to Him to most blessingfully do the needful for your mother and father. God will definitely listen to your prayers. God is the One who created your mother and father, and He is fully responsible for them. It is His Duty to take care of them; your only task is to pray to Him for His inner Guidance.

“So let us pray together and offer our gratitude to our Lord Supreme that for sixty or seventy years He kept your father and mother in the living room. Now the same Beloved Supreme has asked your father and mother to do something for Him in the other room. Right now you have no access to that room, but your prayer will go to God and He will most blessingfully do whatever is needed for your father and mother.” This is how I consoled them.

Question: Why is it that you so seldom give talks these days?

Sri Chinmoy: Over the years I have talked so much; I have spoken sixteen to the dozen! Over 900 books I have written, and many are based on my talks. But now I feel that silent meditation is the best approach, for the result of my silent meditation is extremely fruitful. Again, people cannot meditate for two hours at a stretch, so I also play soulful and prayerful music. When I meditate in silence and play a few instruments, I feel that the faces of the people in the audience are literally shining.

Editor: At the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, your silence spoke louder than all the other speakers.

Sri Chinmoy: Believe me, at least seven or eight times the authorities there begged me to say a few words, but I did not want to. In India I wrote considerably about Swami Vivekananda, and easily I could have spoken about him. But instead I gave thirty-nine peace concerts in honour of the thirty-nine years he was physically on earth. Silence is infinitely more productive than the outer speech.

Editor: Why is it that the people in Hawaii could force you to speak, but the people in Chicago couldn’t? After your recent concert at the University of Hawaii’s Manoa Campus, you gave a lecture before the Matsunaga institute for Peace presented you with a peace award.

Sri Chinmoy: Sometimes it happens that I am at the mercy of my disciples because of promises they make to the authorities. Otherwise, I could have taken the award in silence, and in silence I could have offered my gratitude. But when my students promise that I am going to speak, or when people approach me in a particular way and I am caught off guard, at that time I open my big mouth and say, “Yes, I will speak.” Then afterwards I get no joy because I know that the people in the audience would have derived much more benefit from my silence.

When someone talks, he feels that he is a better person than his listeners. He feels, “I have all the wisdom and you have come here to receive an iota. If you do not listen to me, you will remain in ignorance-night.” When someone gives a lecture, he feels superior. He never thinks that the audience is doing him a big favour by bringing to the fore his good qualities. In theory a teacher will say that he also learns when he teaches. But in the back of his mind, the teacher thinks that he is only sharing his superior knowledge with his students. He believes that his listeners are beggars and he is giving them everything.

Again, when a teacher meditates with his students, neither he nor his students feel that the students are beggars. The teacher is lifting up his students and his students are also lifting him up. In silent meditation, who will say who is superior and who is inferior? It is a oneness-family. When a father is walking down the street and his little child is following him, the father is not thinking, “Oh, you are a little boy. What are you doing here? Do not come with me.” No, the father is so happy and proud that his little child is following him. And the child is not afraid of his father’s height or strength, for he knows that one day he will grow up to be as tall and strong as his father.

If your aspiration is stronger than mine, so what? If I have one drop of aspiration, I shall offer it to the ocean. If you have ten, twenty or a hundred drops, you will also pour them into the ocean. When a drop enters into the ocean, it loses its identity and becomes one with the infinite ocean. In our case also, when you offer your drops and I offer mine, we both become part and parcel of the ocean of aspiration.

Question: Do you think that the kind of extended family that is found in India, in which fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles all live together, could create a more stable society in the West?

Sri Chinmoy: It entirely depends on the consciousness of the individual members. Again, something can be applicable to a particular part of the world while it is not applicable at all somewhere else. Because of the way Western society came into existence, I feel in America the extended family is not needed. America has to grow in its own way by cultivating more love. In Indian society, the family members live together and grow together; there is a togetherness. But in America the sense of freedom is always taking the family members away. At first there will be four members of a family living together, and then it becomes three members and two members as the children move away. Sometimes the two remaining members very nicely get divorced. They are not satisfied with what they have and what they are. They try to get joy from separation, but there is joy only in oneness. One by one, about each family member they say, “He is not dear to me; she is not dear to me.” Finally they come to the point where there is nobody in their life.

I am not saying that Indians are satisfied with the extended family — far from it. But the qualities of the heart generally are more predominant in India than in the West. Indians make many blunders, but at the same time they try to make themselves feel that they belong to one family. In America, when the father becomes eighty or ninety years old, the son has nothing to do with him. The son is supposed to visit his father once a week, let us say, but on that day he will go to a movie or go on a picnic. In India, no matter how bad the father is, the son feels that it is his bounden duty to take care of him. Even if the children are poorer than the poorest, they will always take care of their parents according to their capacity.

For so many years the parents give the children everything that they have. They shower their children with affection and help them go to college. If their children have become great today, it is because the parents have helped them to become great. But in return the children often give their parents their indifference. The parents are sent to a nursing home and the children lead their own lives.

We have the body, vital, mind, heart and soul. If today I renounce my body, if tomorrow I renounce my vital and if the day after tomorrow I renounce my mind, then what will I have left? If I have a pain in my arm, shall I amputate my arm? Then afterwards I will have nothing! This is what the Western world does — cut off, cut off, cut off! But the positive approach is to say that if something is defective, then I will try to cure it and make it perfect. If my mind and vital are bad, then I will transform and illumine them.

Part II

SCA 43-50. Excerpts from a television interview in Apia, Western Samoa, on 21 December 1993.

Interviewer: Sri Chinmoy, what message are you trying to spread around the world?

Sri Chinmoy: I am trying to offer a simple and prayerful message to the world at large, and this message is the message of peace. Unless and until we have achieved peace, we shall not be happy. We can have material things in boundless measure, we can be the richest human beings on earth, we can wallow in the pleasures of life, but we cannot be happy unless we have peace. We have to work together and pray together so that God will bless us with peace.

Interviewer: When you talk about peace, are you talking about having no wars, or individual peace?

Sri Chinmoy: Individual peace must come first. If I have peace of mind and you have peace of mind, then there cannot be war. But if I do not have peace of mind, then I am constantly insecure, jealous and afraid of you. I think that you are going to attack me at any moment, so I want to attack you first. Or I feel superior to you and want to show my supremacy; I want to prove that I am greater and stronger than you, so I declare war.

All this is coming from the mind. Indeed, war always begins in the mind. But if I live in the heart and feel my oneness with you, then I am not plagued by insecurity and jealousy. Then there is only oneness-peace. So I tell the world, “Let us live in the heart, not in the mind. War is in the mind, but love and peace are in the heart.”

Unfortunately, the world is still living in the mind. Each country either is trying to show its supremacy or is afraid of other countries, and therefore the world is sorely lacking in peace. How can the world get peace? From prayer and meditation. If I get peace from my prayer and meditation, then I will not attack you or anybody else. And my peace of mind will inspire you also to pray and meditate and acquire peace of mind. So from individual peace we can have collective peace.

My prayerful message to the world is this: let us first have individual peace, and from there we will go to collective peace. If there is one beautiful plant in a garden, then gradually other plants will grow from it. But all of a sudden I cannot get hundreds and thousands of beautiful plants from one plant; it is impossible. If one person has peace of mind, then he will inspire somebody else to have peace of mind. If one country in this world has peace, then that country will inspire another country to have peace.

Interviewer: When meeting with world leaders, what do you speak about?

Sri Chinmoy: Today I met with your Head of State. He was extremely, extremely kind, compassionate and loving to me. We are all praying to God to bring about world peace, so when I meet with world leaders we only talk about how we can have a peaceful world. Many world leaders are politicians, but I do not know anything about politics. I meet with them as a student of peace and a lover of peace. They know that I am ignorant about politics, but still they are kind enough to meet with me because they sincerely want to establish peace on earth. So we talk about our prayerful service to mankind and about peace and oneness.

Interviewer: Where does meditation come into this?

Sri Chinmoy: Meditation is of paramount importance. If we do not meditate, we cannot have even an iota of peace. Meditation makes the mind calm and tranquil [Sri Chinmoy demonstrates meditation]. With this meditation, I am bringing down peace from Above. If you can meditate for fifteen minutes, a half-hour or an hour daily, the mind will become calm, quiet, tranquil and peaceful.

Interviewer: Do you think of anything in particular while meditating?

Sri Chinmoy: While meditating we should not think of anything; only we should keep the mind calm and quiet. The mind is by nature restless, like the surface of the sea. But if we can go deep within, if we can dive to the bottom of the sea, we will find that it is all peace. We can find this peace either through prayer or meditation.

Interviewer: What about thinking peaceful thoughts?

Sri Chinmoy: After we make the mind calm, good thoughts, inspiring thoughts and pure thoughts will come. But if we start by trying to think good thoughts, they will not come.

Interviewer: What about sports? What does it have to do with your mission?

Sri Chinmoy: Physical fitness is of paramount importance. We are not practising sports to be the world’s greatest runner or athlete. We are praying to God to keep our body physically fit so that early in the morning we can pray and meditate and begin our day’s journey with a prayerful heart. If we do not do sports and take exercise to keep the body fit, then we may become weak and sickly and suffer from all kinds of pains and ailments. Then we will not be inspired to get up early in the morning to pray and meditate. So when we think of sports, we think of physical fitness, not physical supremacy. The most important thing in our life is prayer and meditation, and that we cannot do if we are not physically fit.

Interviewer: What about the competitive element in sports? Isn't that another form of showing supremacy?

Sri Chinmoy: If we are not yet ready to accept the highest philosophy, we say to ourselves, “If I do not keep my body fit, then I will not be able to defeat anybody.” With that thought in mind, at least we will try to keep our body fit. But from the highest point of view, the goal is not to defeat anybody but only to compete with ourselves. When we compete with others, we are never happy. Today I may defeat someone in running, but tomorrow I will look around and see that there is somebody who is far better than I. No matter what we do, there is always somebody else who can do it better. This moment I may be the best, but the next moment someone else will come and smash my pride, and I will feel miserable.

When I compete only with myself, I always get tremendous joy. Yesterday I had one standard, but today my standard has gone higher. Yesterday I had a certain number of weaknesses or defects in my nature, but today I will try my best to have a few less. In this way I am always making progress and I am always happy. Here there is no third person who is judging the two competitors. I myself am the judge. I know how many lies I told yesterday, so today I shall decrease the number. Again, yesterday if I prayed for five minutes, then today I will try to pray for ten minutes. Good things I will try to increase and bad things I will try to decrease. In this way I am competing only with myself. In sports also, our goal is to do our very best and try all the time to compete only with ourselves. But whatever the result, we have to accept it cheerfully. We will do our best and then, whatever result God wants us to have, we will accept.

Interviewer: What do you think of the Olympic Games?

Sri Chinmoy: I appreciate and admire the Olympic Games because they are raising the world standard. Right now the athletes are trying to defeat each other. For the time being this is good. If they did not have a competitive spirit, then they would be at home sleeping. It is better to be active and dynamic than lazy and useless. It is better to be moving forward than standing still. While moving forward, if they want to try to go ahead of those who are moving with them, no harm. Although this is not the highest way, it is far better than remaining inactive and lethargic.

After some time they will see that there is a higher way of looking at sports. If victory is the only goal, then the athletes can never find happiness, for even if they win today, tomorrow somebody else will come along and take away their glory. Real happiness can never be found in separating ourselves from others. Real happiness comes only in feeling our oneness with others, even if they defeat us.

We are all members of a family. If your brother defeats you in running, you are not miserable, because he is your brother. Again, if you defeat him in swimming because you have more capacity in that sport, your brother is not going to feel miserable. He will say, “It is my brother who has done it, so it is all right.” Like that, if all the athletes can feel that they belong to one family, then they will be happy no matter who wins.

Regardless of who wins on the sports ground, each one should try to excel in his own life by competing with himself and going forward according to his own capacity to his destined goal. In this way each individual will all the time make progress and achieve greater and greater perfection. True happiness comes only from our increasing sense of perfection which we can achieve only through self-transcendence. But right now the world has not come up to that standard.

Interviewer: What roles do your students play in your mission?

Sri Chinmoy: My students do everything. They participate in sports and they have completely thrown themselves into the peace movement. Every second year we have a Peace Run. In the last run, seventy-six countries participated, and millions of people who are true lovers of peace — from children right up to octogenarians — held our Peace Torch. My students are trying to be of service to mankind, to people who sincerely want peace and who are looking for something that will give them abiding satisfaction.

Interviewer: Thank you very much.

Part III

SCA 51-54. This is the text of Sri Chinmoy's interview with Mr. Shin Inoue, Co-ordinator of Japan Overseas Co-operation Volunteers (JOCV), in Suva City, Fiji, January 1994.

Mr. Inoue: Where does your energy come from?

Sri Chinmoy: Energy comes from a feeling of oneness. If I am a separate person from you, from her, from him, then my energy is very limited; it is only a drop. If I am a drop, if you are a drop, if she is a drop, then each of us has only an iota of energy. But if I establish my oneness with you, with her, with him, then my one drop becomes four drops. The ocean is so vast, but it is made up of countless drops. It is these countless drops that make the ocean vast. When we establish our oneness with others, we become like the ocean, with limitless strength and limitless energy.

We get not only energy but also joy only from oneness. If a tree produces only one beautiful flower or one delicious fruit, we do not get joy from the tree. Only if the tree has many flowers and fruits do we get joy. Again, if there is no tree, how will we have flowers and fruits? So the tree itself is also necessary. Only when the fruits and flowers are together with the trunk of the tree is the tree perfect. And at that time we get real joy.

We will not be able to establish our oneness with others only by thinking about it; that is not enough. We have to pray to the Almighty; we have to pray to our Heavenly Father, who is infinite, to make us one with everybody. When God listens to our prayer, at that time we will get boundless energy.

When our hearts have established their oneness with others, we will have enormous peace in our lives. Inside peace is boundless energy that enables us to accomplish many things. But if what we do does not stem from a true feeling of oneness and inner peace, then our actions will have little value. Politicians are all the time talking about peace, but in most cases this peace comes only from the mind. Unless they are genuine seekers and God-lovers who pray and meditate, their talk about peace is nothing but talk — just useless dictionary words. I will say that I care for peace, but secretly I am trying to stand on top of your head. I say that I will go forward peacefully, but in reality I will move only if you stay behind me.

When seekers and God-lovers speak about peace, it comes from their feeling of oneness; it comes from the heart. This kind of peace is based not on a feeling of separation, but on a feeling of real love and concern. I genuinely care for your success, your progress, your perfection, and you also care for mine. I am not trying to be on top of you or ahead of you. No, I feel that you are inside my heart and I am inside your heart. Wherever I go, I will carry you with me inside my heart of prayer; and wherever you go, you will carry me inside your heart of prayer. So peace comes from prayer and meditation, not from outer talk.

Mr. Inoue: You have just spoken about the importance of prayer and meditation. I am wondering if there are also other things in our everyday life that are important and which we should be attentive to.

Sri Chinmoy: Prayer and meditation include everything, but we have to know that there are two types of prayer. One prayer is only for me: I pray to God to make me a good person; I pray to God to give me this and that. This kind of prayer ultimately will not satisfy me. Even if God gives me everything that I ask for, I will see around me countless people who do not have those things — people who are hungry and poor and unhappy. When I see that others are unhappy, then I will not get joy from my prayer, no matter what the results may be. But if I pray to God to give everybody His Love, His Compassion, His Blessings, then when God fulfils my prayer I will be really happy. So let us pray to our Heavenly Father to give everybody inner food, and when He fulfils our prayer, it will be a real divine feast.

In a family, if the parents give something only to one child and not to all the children, then the parents will feel sad and the other children will cry and become jealous. If there are ten members in the family and the father brings home only one fruit, then nine individuals will not be served. When they show their sad faces, how can the one who gets the fruit enjoy it? For the same reason I shall pray to God to give everyone His Blessings, Love and Concern. Then only shall we all be really happy. If I pray only for myself, then I can never be satisfied. Anything that we do, we must do for everyone.

Mr. Inoue: I understand that you place great importance on taking care of the physical body. Would you please tell me why you do this?

Sri Chinmoy: You come from Japan. In Japan, let us say, there is a Shinto temple with a beautiful shrine. If you value the shrine and everything else that is inside the temple, you will make sure that the temple is kept in good repair so that it will not be blown away if there is a storm. If the temple is not in good condition, then the shrine cannot last. Similarly, inside the body is the heart and soul. The shrine is within. We have to make the body a fit instrument to house the shrine; we have to keep the grounds of the temple in good condition if we care for what is inside the temple.

I am trying to become good, better, best — not in order to defeat you, but in order to love you better. The more progress I can make physically, vitally, mentally and psychically, the more love, the more joy and the more goodwill I am able to offer you. If I become a better person, then I can give you my good qualities. But if I remain a bad person, then I will have nothing to give you. If my body is not in good condition, if I have a headache and an upset stomach, then early in the morning I will not be able to get up to pray and meditate. If I do not pay attention to the physical body and keeping the body fit, my spiritual life will suffer and I will not be able to offer you my goodwill, love and joy in my prayer and meditation. That is why physical health is of great importance.

Mr. Inoue: Lastly, Sri Chinmoy, what do you feel is the most natural or best way to live? I used to work in the agricultural field, but now I am having to co-ordinate projects in the office. I feel sad since I think that perhaps the pure life is to be out in the field working agriculturally.

Sri Chinmoy: When you were working in the field, you got blessings from Mother Nature. At that time you got joy and gave joy only to yourself. Now that you are organising and co-ordinating projects, you are connected with many people and giving wisdom and joy to many people. When you were an agricultural worker, you were limited; you did things only for your group. Now you are helping all the groups; you are advising and helping the person who works in the hospital and also the person who works in the field; you are helping the person who is building something and also the person who is working with the poor. You have to feel that you are like a tree with many fruits. One person is taking your fruit and distributing it at the hospital; someone else is taking your fruit and eating it in the field. So you are the source giving help to so many people in so many ways.

When I was young, I used to pray and meditate for hours and hours and hours. Now I have got thousands of students all over the world and I do not have time to pray and meditate for hours and hours. Previously God wanted me to do one thing for myself; but now God wants me to mix with many people and offer them what He has given to me. Previously I was praying to God to take me up, up, up. Now God says, “I want you to spread My Love, My Affection, My Blessings.” So I am travelling to Japan, to Germany, to France and to many other places following God’s Command. And I am doing it cheerfully because I know that it is His Will.

Similarly, the same Person who previously wanted you to work in the field alone to get joy is now asking you to advise this individual and that individual. Your previous job was good, but it was mostly for yourself — just like my life when I used to pray and meditate in India. But your present job is more important because you are trying to help so many people at the same time. Previously God asked you to work in your living room and you were very happy. Now He is asking you to work in the kitchen to make a most delicious meal to give to many people so that they can become strong and also serve Him.

Everything that you are asked to do, you have to do cheerfully. Then you will be pleasing God the most. First God wanted you to live in Japan. Now He has brought you to Fiji. After a few years, He may send you to some other place to serve Him. Wherever you go, you have to be happy. Do not think, “Oh, in Japan I had so many friends and relatives. There I was very happy, but here I have no friends.” No, feel that in Japan you were happy by serving the friends that you had there, and here you will be happy by serving the friends that you will make here. In that way, by serving and serving and serving mankind in different ways, you will become good and perfect.

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