Sri Chinmoy answers, part 21
Part ISCA 761-762. Sri Chinmoy answered these questions on 5 April 1999.
Question: Once someone loses his inspiration, is it totally reversible, or is something lost forever?Sri Chinmoy: No, it is not necessarily lost forever. In some cases, seekers who had lost their inspiration have been extremely successful in restoring it. These particular seekers were all ready to leave the spiritual life. Then some friends inspired them or by God’s Grace some very sincere and devoted feelings came to the fore within them. They remembered that fifteen or twenty years ago they were wonderful disciples. When those reminiscences came forward, they changed their mind.
In a few cases it has happened that seekers did leave the spiritual life. Then they found that they valued the spiritual life much more than before. While mixing with ordinary, unaspiring people — their friends, relatives and so on — they saw that their situation was infinitely worse, and they asked themselves, “What have I done? What have I done?” Then they came back to the spiritual life.
Unfortunately, in many cases I see that seekers started with abundant inspiration and aspiration. Then they lost it, and still they are not getting it back. Many years ago they had the determination to conquer insecurity, jealousy, depression, frustration, impurity and other negative qualities. Now, even after thirty years, the things that they wanted to conquer, they have not conquered. What is worse, those undivine forces they have taken as their own weapons. Can you imagine? They wanted to conquer jealousy to become very close to me or very devoted to the path. Some of them have become close, but even now they are not conquering those wrong forces. On the contrary, the enemies that they wanted to conquer — jealousy, insecurity, rivalry and so on — they have taken as their dear friends. Then if they see that somebody else is promising, if somebody is progressing and has tremendous inspiration and enthusiasm, they are blocking them. The ones who once upon a time fought against their wrong forces are now using them against others who are trying desperately to increase their inspiration and aspiration.
When you are losing inspiration, you have to tell your friends, “Save me, save me!” I have a few disciples who knew that they were losing their inspiration. They had no joy, nothing. They were about to leave the path. But something inside them, something deep within them wanted to save them. So they told their friends, “Look, I am now in such difficulty. Please, please inspire me. Save me, save me! A part of me wants to leave the path, and I am almost ready. But again, something within me is saying not to leave. Please help me!” These disciples showed their sincerity. Then their friends helped them considerably, and they are still on the path.
Again, sometimes it happens that the ones who regained their inspiration are doing well, whereas those friends who inspired them are now down. The situation is reversed. Then the people who were inspired to stay on the path desperately try to save those who were once upon a time their saviours. Sometimes they are successful; sometimes they are not.
I try very, very hard to inspire the disciples who are having problems. Inwardly, outwardly, in so many ways I try to help them, especially if they are very close to me. In many, many ways I try to help them regain their inspiration. If there is no inspiration, there can be no aspiration. Inspiration comes first. If I want to walk two miles, first I have to be inspired to go out of my house. While I am inside my house, how am I going to walk? It is inspiration that brings me out. Then my aspiration is to cover a few miles.
If anybody loses inspiration, even your dear ones, you have to pray, pray, pray for their inspiration to come back. Inspiration will come back if their friends inspire them to once more enter into their heart-garden. These true friends will say, “We do not want you to be inside your mind-jungle. You are so dear to us. Please listen to our request.” Then, when the person comes back to his heart-garden, he gets his inspiration back.
Question: Are you concerned about the current world situation, such as the conflict in Kosovo?Sri Chinmoy: In the inner world so many things are going wrong in Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Albania and other places. Spiritual Masters have a big heart. When I watch television, I see innocent children, such beautiful, soulful and adorable children, who are refugees. The parents are taking them somewhere. Then they come to a border and they wait for six days. In some places, how badly they are treated, even by the police. They have left their houses, and then the police say they have to wait at a certain place. They have no food, nothing. One fellow was able to get ice cream. He was feeding his children with ice cream. They have nothing else, no food, no possessions.
Because I have a big heart, in the morning I watch a little news. Then I meditate, meditate, meditate. For what? To bring about change. If I cannot change my disciples’ minds, will I be able to change the minds of some government leaders? But we have to start with a drop, like the bird who wanted to empty the sea. The capacity of a bird we know. Still, it was sincerely trying to empty the sea. Here also, some good people are trying desperately to change the minds of the leaders who want to wage war.
Why are these conflicts taking place? It is all because of prestige, prestige, prestige. One side attacks another, and that side defends itself. Then a third party comes and says, “Stop, stop, stop!” The first side says, “No, they have to stop first.” The one who was the aggressor is saying that the other side has to stop first. Then the fighting just goes on and on. Thousands and thousands of innocent people are dying. Thousands of people are homeless. Outwardly I do not have the capacity to help them. But the capacity to sympathise God gave me.
We are living in a so-called civilised society, but so many conflicts are taking place. At the root is pride. All evil forces have one source, and that is pride. Pride says, “Everything must be done in my way, my way, my way.” But if I dive deep within for one second, I will see that your way also can be good. The best thing is to say, “Your way is good for your sake; my way is good for my sake. Let us not brag that our way is superior. If I brag, you do not pay any attention to me. If you brag, I will not pay any attention to you. You go your way and let me go my way.” But that does not happen. Each country says, “No, you have to conform to my way because my way is the only way.” Then the fighting begins. Each one wants power, power, power. When a country loses power, its leaders become insane. They want to prove to the world that their country has more power than it had before. This is the deplorable situation that I am seeing in the world today.
Part IISCA 763-765. Sri Chinmoy answered these questions on 18 June 1999.
Question: What does it mean to be born into a spiritual family that is already following a spiritual path?Sri Chinmoy: It is a great advantage to take birth in a spiritual family and to enter into the spiritual life from one’s very birth. It shortens the road considerably. When you take birth in a spiritual family, the road becomes very, very short. But again, hostile forces do exist. These hostile forces try to attack more vehemently the parents who are already on a spiritual path. Each time they see a little child, they feel that one more soldier has joined the army. There are two armies: the spiritual side and the hostile side. So the hostile side feels that the spiritual side has got one more soldier and, who knows, this soldier can eventually become very, very powerful; he may even become a commander. At that time, the hostile forces will really be in trouble, so they feel the best thing is to attack when he is young.
That is the negative side. But on the positive side, the road is definitely shorter for those who are born into a spiritual family. The family life-tree has already started bearing fruits. Then if a child is born, he can start eating those fruits right from the beginning. This will strengthen him. If he starts eating those fruits right from the beginning, there is every possibility that in his childhood and adolescent years, his very presence will inspire others. He will not remain aloof; he will mix with others, but they will see something very, very special in him because spirituality has its own vibration and aura. Some will feel this vibration around him unconsciously, while others — very few — will feel consciously that there is something unusual in that person.
To come back to your question, it is a great, great advantage to take birth in a spiritual family because the spiritual alphabet — the ABCs — one learns very quickly. Again, it may happen on rare occasions that someone can take birth in a spiritual family and then, unfortunately, that person may become undivine to the extreme. He may not follow any spiritual path. He may go his own way and do all kinds of undivine things. This kind of sad experience can happen. Suppose there are two sons in the family. One can be spiritual to the extreme and the other one, in spite of having the promise to become just like his brother, may take a wrong turn in his life. Then he is lost.
Question: As I am getting older, I am finding it harder and harder to accept my age. Can you say something that will allow me to better accept the fact?Sri Chinmoy: The moment you think of your old age, you destroy all your inspiration, aspiration, joy and enthusiasm. The moment you think of your old age, that very moment is your death. You have to feel that everything is a series of experiences. Do not take life and death as two separate things: this is life, that is death — no! Death is just a passage we are going through. There is life, and on the way we meet death. In the Eternal Life, there is life, then death, then again life. It is a game that is going on.
Do not think of your old age. Think of your life as a road that is twenty-six miles long — a marathon — and then divide it into four or five stages. In the beginning, say for twenty years, you were learning and learning and learning. Then, in the second stage, you were learning and at the same time you were sharing your wisdom. Now you are in the third or fourth stage. So you have to see what you could do at the age of twenty, what you could do at the age of fifty and what you can do at the age of sixty. Do not think that what you did at the age of twenty is infinitely more important than what you are doing at the age of sixty. When you were twenty years old, God experienced Himself in and through you as a great student. Then He experienced Himself as a budding professor. When you turned forty, God experienced something totally different in and through you. At the age of sixty, He is experiencing something else again.
It is a game. At this moment, God is playing a particular role in and through you. In a few years, in the same Cosmic Play, He can play another role. After another twenty years, He can play yet another role. We make a serious mistake by feeling that when we are fifty or sixty the role that God is playing through us is sometimes not as important as the role that He gave us to play at the age of twenty. We have to feel that whatever role God plays through us at the age of twenty, forty or sixty is equally important. For Him, sixty is not old age. After the age of eighty or even one hundred, when you go away to the other world, you will see that there He is still playing His role inside your soul.
Now we always see the physical. We talk about our physical age, but the truth is that the moment we take a physical body, death becomes an inevitability. We may die tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Again, inside the body, if you can be in touch with the soul, then you can take the body as a toy. You are playing with the toy, and then afterwards you are finished with the toy. This is always how it should be.
If you take it in that way, then the mind does not come into the picture. Use only your heart. Otherwise your mind will come forward and expect you to be able to do what you did at the age of twenty, to have the same youth and enthusiasm. But now that you are more advanced in years, wisdom is dawning in your life. When you are at the age of sixty, then you have the wisdom to say, “Over the years, I have not prayed enough to God. I came from Him; I will go back to Him. At that time, will I be able to show Him my physical capacity, my mental capacity or my vital capacity? God will say, ‘Enough! I have seen your physical capacity, your vital capacity and your mental capacity. Now show Me your psychic capacity, your heart’s capacity, your inner capacity. Let Me see how much you have really loved Me.’”
You are at the age of sixty, but you have to forget about being sixty. You are playing a new role; you have got a new task. How much are you ready to pray and meditate and lead the spiritual life? Do not think of all the mistakes that you have made as mistakes as such, but think that you have played a certain role and now it is over. If you start thinking of all your past mistakes, then it will only be an added burden for you. Instead just say, “I went there, and I had an experience.” Now wisdom has to come to the fore, and you will not do the same thing again because you did not find your goal inside those experiences. Now that you are sixty, only think of spreading your wings. You are already flying, but you have to spread your wings. How? By loving God and serving Him inside mankind. You should not say, “I am old. I do not have the capacity I used to have.” Instead you should say, “God does not want me to have my former capacity because God does not want to play that role in me any more. Now He wants me to dive deep within, as deep as possible. He wants me to have inner experiences to share with mankind.” Is that not infinitely more important than what you did in your youth?
Again, everything has its own importance. The experiences that God gave you at the age of twenty or forty are also valuable. If a child does not have enthusiasm at the age of four or five, then will he get it at the age of fifty or sixty? Even if he gets it, it will not be the same because it is not coming slowly from a tender age. All of a sudden the tree is looking nice but while the tree was growing, when it was a tender plant, it did not look nice at all. So, every phase of life is equally important because our good qualities must develop slowly, slowly, slowly. If the seed does not germinate and become a tender plant, how can it become a huge banyan tree? Similarly, how can we think of becoming one with God if we have not prayed and meditated for many years? Before we took human incarnation, we were one with God. But He made us a tiny drop. Then He told us to expand, expand, expand and become the ocean. It is a continuous growth, a continuous expansion.
The mind is never to be used at any time. If the mind is used, then you are finished. When you are ten years old, the mind will make you feel that you are as old as ninety years! Only think that at this particular stage of life you are supposed to do something. Then after ten or fifteen years you are supposed to do something else. Continuously a new game is starting, a new part you have to play. Each time you are given a new role, you have to play it well. When you become a huge tree, at that time more responsibility comes. A tree has to give so much, so much. Under the tree at first only one pilgrim can stay. Later many individuals can come and stay. Finally, the tree has to feel the responsibility of giving shade, protection and shelter to all. The higher you go, the more shelter, protection and illumination you have to give to others. In terms of human age, you may be only sixty or seventy, but in terms of divine light and divine wisdom you will become hundreds and hundreds of years old.
When it is a matter of light, there are no earthly years involved. Light, delight, peace and so on do not belong to an earthly calendar. They came from Infinity, they remain in Infinity and they will always remain in Infinity. We have to consciously try to grow into that Infinity. Our life-river is flowing, flowing, flowing and entering into the ocean. Do not take the life-river as something that can be divided into years. It is a oneness-flow that is going towards the infinite Light. The important thing is not to use the mind when age is descending upon you. Only use the heart. Just say, “At this point I have to blossom in this way; at that time I had to blossom in a different way. A few years from now I will have to blossom in a totally different way.” Each moment has its own most significant beauty. When the time comes, when your life-flower is fully blossomed, then it will be able to give much more joy and fragrance to mankind and be of more help to sincerely aspiring seekers.
Question: Which do you value more, speed or perfection?Sri Chinmoy: Both speed and perfection are of paramount importance. But we have to know that if there is speed, perfection will automatically come in a gradual way, whereas if we give importance only to perfection, then we have to belong to Eternity. With speed, I may go to this side and that side, like a mad elephant. My speed takes me to one side, and I see there is a wall. I go to the other side, and I see there is another wall. Then a time comes when divine Grace descends from Above. God says, “Poor fellow, he is blind. He is going to this side and that side without any result. Now let Me show him the right way.”
But, in the name of perfection if you are starting, then speed may not be there. A child thinks, “I have to be a good boy, I have to be a good boy.” His mind is thinking of perfection, but if he does not make a move, he will not accomplish anything. If he says, “I am going to this side to become a good boy; I am going to that side to become a good boy,” then his speed will automatically bring perfection.
With speed we may get hurt if we do something wrong. We have to have wisdom also. If we are about to get hurt, then we should not go to that side. If there is a wall, we should stop our journey. But if we do not see the wall, then we may go and strike our head against it. So speed and wisdom must go together. Then perfection will also dawn.
In India I knew two brothers who were sculptors. We all had the same boss in the Ashram. One brother, in the name of perfection, used to do everything so slowly. Sometimes he took three weeks to make one sculpture. The other brother would be finished in three or four days. To the one who had taken less time, my boss used to say, “Can you make the next one a little better?” Already he was getting tremendous joy, because he had accomplished something. Then he would make his next sculpture better. The other one used to cherish the thought, “One day when I am finished, my sculpture will be far better than his.” This brother had patience-wisdom, while the first brother had enthusiasm-wisdom. The first brother made himself and his boss happy by completing his sculpture in the shortest possible time. Then he was able to begin a new sculpture with new enthusiasm and joy. The boss never told him that his sculptures were useless. The boss only said, “Very nice, very nice. Only make it a little better. Make the face a little better.” In this way, the first brother was making progress. According to our philosophy, perfection can be found only in progress, progress, progress. I am progressing and progressing and progressing. That very progress is my perfection.
Do not separate speed and perfection. Today you may do something in a very primitive way, but tomorrow you will do it a little better, in a more modern way. The day after tomorrow you will do it in an ultra-modern way. That is your progress. But right from the beginning if you do not have speed, and at the same time if you are thinking of creating something absolutely perfect, then you may be doomed to failure. If your perfection is something grandiose, if you are thinking of making a jet plane, then you will feel that you can take a long time. In the meantime, if somebody makes a small plane, he is progressing and getting joy. That joy and enthusiasm will automatically take him to the next step.
In the beginning, if you start by making a tiny boat, then from the tiny boat you can progress to a big boat, and finally you will be able to build an ocean liner. But if you are thinking of the ocean liner at the very beginning with the idea that Guru will be happy because you have made an ocean liner, then twenty or thirty years will go by before I see the result. If I ask you to make something for me to use on the water, then immediately you have to make something small, smooth and safe.
We also have to keep in mind that today’s perfection may not be tomorrow’s perfection. When we make progress, today’s perfection will look absolutely silly. A child’s perfection is to get a balloon and burst it. This is his joy. He feels that because he is perfect, he is able to burst the balloon. We laugh at him. Then gradually, gradually he comes to learn that this is not perfection, this is not satisfaction. But if we do not use speed, then a time will come when patience will go away, enthusiasm will go away. Then all kinds of negative ideas will come.
When you are thinking of speed, you will start working, even if you have only one nail and a hammer. You will think, “On the way, if I need something, I will find it.” But when you think of perfection, you may feel that you have to have all your tools to start. In the beginning if you start gathering all the tools that you think you will need by the end of the journey, you are wasting your time. If you start collecting all the things that are needed from the beginning to the end, from one little nail to a big bar, then you are finished. When you are thinking of each item, your mind is saying, “Oh my God, so much I have to do!” You are putting layer after layer into your mind until your mind is overburdened. Then your journey will never start. But if you just start with one nail and one hammer, you will get tremendous joy. That joy will take you to the next step. If you need something, you will go and find it. In that way speed helps tremendously. You will get satisfaction right from the beginning. Satisfaction is perfection and perfection is satisfaction.
Always we need eagerness, eagerness, eagerness. My friend wanted me to buy him a certain clarinet. I asked one of our great musician-disciples to find it. After a few days, he said, “No, it is not available. I have tried everything.” Then I said to another disciple, “I do not want to hear this. You have to get it for me. Show your intensity.” Then he found it in Boston. Look at this! I gave him the task and he did it in a day or two. But if intensity is not there from the beginning, then we are finished. When readiness, willingness and eagerness are there along with intensity, then everything can be accomplished so quickly. His philosophy was, “Anything Guru has asked for, I am ready to do immediately.” The other disciple said, “I will do it, I will do it, but I can leave it for Eternity.” If there is willingness, then you will take one step. If you have eagerness, you will take the next three steps. And when intensity comes, it is done. But if you say, “I am ready, I am only preparing myself,” then the task will never be completed.
Whenever I ask you to do something, do it immediately. If I tell you, “Come quickly to my house to do something for me,” is that the time for you to start taking a shower? If I call my ‘best disciple’ and tell him to come, he asks me, “Can I take a shower first?” I may say, “If you have not taken a shower, become civilised and then come.” In this way, I will say if I feel he needs to take a shower. So many times I have said this. Again, if I say, “Come immediately!” at that time I will be responsible. Then if I see he has just run ten miles and is perspiring, what can I do?
If intensity is not there, then there will be no success. If we make mistakes, God never blames us. Before He asks us even, let us try to do it. Then if it is not done properly, God will say, “Make it better.” Our philosophy is progress. Inside that progress, gradually, gradually perfection is dawning. In the spiritual life, you must do everything fast, fast, fast. It is not because I am living in America that I am saying this. The whole world needs speed. Outer speed brings about outer success. Japan was defeated in the Second World War. Now look how fast Japan has made progress. Japan could have said, “We have been completely destroyed. What can we do?” But no, Japan had eagerness, and because of this eagerness the Japanese have made such progress.
Again, while moving forward, we have to always keep our eyes open. Even while trying to go straight, sometimes we do not. Always we have to ask ourselves if we are walking along a straight road or if we are taking a road that curves or zigzags.
Then, if your mind tells you that you can do something in ten days, your human wisdom will say, “I will tell Guru it will take thirteen days. Then if I can give it to Guru in ten days, he will be so happy.” That is our tricky human way. But there is another secret way. Divine wisdom will say, “If I feel it will take seven days, I will tell Guru that it will take five days.” This is not impractical. If you feel it will take seven days, do not say one day, which is impossible. But in practical reality, we can expedite things a little. Then the joy that I will get when I think, “Oh my God, he will be able to do it!” will enter into you so powerfully in advance. You may not be conscious of it, but if I give you a very powerful smile, that smile will enter into you as added strength. When I know that you and your friend will be able to finish making an exercise machine for me in five days, then my joy and my pride come to you already as an added strength. That added strength will definitely enable you to do it in five days or even three days. The divine way is to say, “If I know the approximate time required is five days, I will try to make it one day less. Even if I cannot do it, I will be able to tell Guru that I am on the verge of finishing, that it is only a matter of hours, or tomorrow I will be able to bring it to him.” Then if you are thinking five days and you have told me four days, I assure you, you will be able to do it in four days. Even in three days you will be able to do it.
In everything we need enthusiasm and wisdom. Divine wisdom will say, “With whatever I have, I shall run.” The human mind will say you need many things. Yes, it is true, but if you start the journey immediately with enthusiasm and eagerness, then everything becomes easier because your eagerness itself will take you from here to there. Human wisdom will use eternal patience. It will think of the whole world and what you might need in the name of perfection. You will order something from Africa, and until that thing comes, you will say, “What can I do? The supplies have not arrived.” But if you continue working, then Africa will come to you. Even before the supplies come from Africa, there are so many things you can do happily. Otherwise, the relaxation that comes because the supplies have not arrived will slow you down considerably. Immediately you will think, “I have so much time, but what can I do? I am helpless until my supplies come.” That feeling of helplessness will slow down the progress of the ones around you. So both speed and perfection you need. Perfection is man-made, while speed is God-made.
Again, my idea of perfection may be regarded as useless by somebody else. I may draw something which is perfect according to me. Then another artist will say it is not perfect. Let us say an artist draws a bird without an eye. He feels, “Oh, it is so beautiful.” Another artist will come and say, “There should be an eye.” Then a third one will say that the eye should have been smaller. Everybody’s idea of perfection is different. Nobody denies that it is a bird, but in the name of perfection, others may come forward with their criticisms. If you are in your heart, you will say, “As long as it is a bird, it is enough.” But if you are in your mind, you will think, “If I do not draw the eye or the ear properly, what will people say?” In my case, so many birds I draw without an eye. To me, they are so beautiful. I never say that the eye is too small or that the wings or the body should be longer. If your mind’s concept of perfection says that things have to be only a certain way, then you will be forced to deal with eternal time. You yourself will never be satisfied with what you do because the mind has accumulated so many ideas in the name of perfection. Each and every idea that comes to you, you will only enlarge and enlarge. At the same time, you will collect more thoughts in your mind to make it perfect. But if you have speed and if you are in your heart, you can get satisfaction.
Now I wish to say something else about perfection and satisfaction in human life. Each of us has his own way of dealing with perfection or satisfaction. Recently I have been reading so many incidents from Ramana Maharshi’s life. At the time when Ramana Maharshi was practising austerities in the cave, he had a small hut nearby, and three or four of his disciples were staying there. One night, at half past eleven, three thieves came and started breaking the doors and windows, asking Ramana Maharshi for money. Ramana Maharshi said, “We do not have money. We are very poor. You can come inside and search.” He and his disciples came out and the thieves went inside to look for money. When they did not find anything, the thieves said they would set fire to the house. Ramana Maharshi said, “Please, please do not set it on fire. You can see that there is nothing.” The thieves thought that Ramana Maharshi and his disciples were hiding money somewhere, and they started to beat them up. Ramana Maharshi himself received a blow from one of the thieves. Ramana Maharshi said to the thief, “Why have you struck only one side? I have got another side also. You can do the same thing to that side.” Ramana Maharshi’s way of satisfaction was like Jesus Christ’s: if you are hit on one side, then the other side also you should offer.
I do not agree with that philosophy. Because of your ignorance you gave me a slap on one side. Why should I allow you to increase your ignorance by hitting me on the other side? Ramana Maharshi said that it was their dharma, their way, to misbehave, while his way was to forgive. Ramana Maharshi showed his compassion for their ignorance. I would say, “I know you have done something wrong, but I have not done anything wrong. Then why should I allow you to do more harm? Why should I allow you to enter further into ignorance-life?” Ramana Maharshi had infinite compassion and forgiveness for the thieves, even while they were doing the wrong thing. I would say, “Whom should I forgive, the one who wants to do more wrong things or the one who will say, ‘I have struck you. Please forgive me, forgive me!’”
Definitely, if someone has done something wrong to me and asks for forgiveness, I will forgive him. But when someone is ready to strike someone else, should I forgive him? Should I refrain from telling the police or informing somebody to come and help? Ramana Maharshi was such a great yogi, but my philosophy on this matter is different. He got satisfaction-perfection from his forgiveness. I get satisfaction-perfection from my wisdom. My wisdom tells me that the thief is already bad. I did not go and strike him. I did not go anywhere to steal. He is the one who is doing something wrong. I am only preventing him from doing something more in that line.
Another time, Ramana Maharshi was walking and he did not see a beehive. The bees came out and stung him, and he was bleeding. He said, “It is my fault. Why did I go to that side?” Then he remained standing at that place for the bees to come and attack his legs. So much pain he was getting! He felt that he deserved it because he did the wrong thing by going near the hive. True, he did the wrong thing, but then he should have just gone away. But no, he stood there. He felt they had the right to punish him. Because he disturbed them, because he did something wrong, he did not take protection. He let all the bees come and sting him. To feel that you deserve punishment is one way. Another way is to go one step further and ask for forgiveness. If you do something wrong, ask for forgiveness. Is forgiveness not more important at that time than punishment? I have such admiration and adoration for Ramana Maharshi, but I cannot agree with him when he says that others have every right to punish us when we do something wrong.
To come back to the first story, Ramana Maharshi will say, “No, if I forgive and forgive someone, one day he will repent. When he strikes me, I will cry and bleed. Then he will say, ‘What have I done?’ At that time, he may start repenting.” But I feel that by that time it is already too late. Why do I need step-by-step torture from him, only to illumine him after twenty, thirty or forty years? Shall I allow him to strike me in the ankle, the knee, the thigh, then on my chest and my head? I do not know at what point he will feel remorseful. I feel that right from the beginning I should warn him that he is doing something wrong. Immediately let us take the right attitude. So each philosophy has come from the Highest. God said to Ramana Maharshi, “Forgive and forgive and forgive. One day that fellow will get illumination, and he will not strike people any more.” Again, God tells me, “Right from the beginning, be careful. You will not harm anybody. And if anybody harms you, do not allow that person to strike you again. By doing so, you are consciously helping to add to his ignorance-life.”
Ramana Maharshi said, “One day he will be tired of doing the wrong thing. Then he will come to the light.” I say, “No, do not allow his ignorance to increase.” Sri Ramakrishna had a third way. He said, “If somebody is criticising your Master badly and if you are much stronger than that person, then ignore him. Feel that he is not a man; he is an insect. But if you are weaker than the one who is criticising your Master, you should go and beat him up. It is the worst possible sin to hear someone speaking ill of your Master without doing something. He had a disciple, Nag Mahashay, who was much weaker than someone else who was criticising Sri Ramakrishna. That disciple took off the other person’s sandals and started thrashing him.
My philosophy says, “If my Guru is my real life, if I love my Guru, if he is my all, then how will I tolerate it if someone speaks ill of him?” Of course, you are not going to beat that person up, but you will tell him, “I was not conscious this time, but I will not allow you to speak ill of my Master a second time. The first time you spoke, I was not prepared, but the second time I will be fully prepared.” If he says one thing more, you will stand strong like a wall. Then if he tries to strike you, he will be badly injured.
My philosophy is that once someone does something wrong, you will be so strict that he will not dare to do it again. If he does it, he will get hurt much more. Buddha’s philosophy was that if you throw a ball, it is going to come back to you. You think that you are only striking the wall, but no, the wall will turn it back to you immediately. Sri Ramakrishna’s philosophy says, “If you are weak, beat him up. If you are strong, then say he is an insect and forget it.” Each one has a philosophy to satisfy himself. Three boats are there to take you to your destination. You jump into the boat that you like.
Question: When creative people or serious artists enter into the spiritual life, sometimes they lose their creative inspiration because spirituality is so vast that it seems no longer valuable to them to make their own style of art. Or they have to compromise their spirituality just to survive as artists. I see that they often do not seriously continue to create their own art. Is there any way to utilise creativity to make the maximum progress in spirituality, instead of taking them as two different things? How can we unite these two activities into one?1Sri Chinmoy: We all want satisfaction. If we write a wonderful poem or create a wonderful piece of music, we get satisfaction. But the satisfaction that we get from creativity cannot be compared to the satisfaction that we get from our prayer and meditation. When we have created a wonderful melody, haunting notes, we get joy in only a few parts of our being; the entire being does not get joy. But when we have prayed or meditated most soulfully for five minutes, we feel that our entire being — from the soles of our feet to the crown of our head — is all satisfaction-delight.
Spirituality is the source of everything. Life is everywhere. I am full of life. In my arms I have life, in my legs I have life, in my head I have life. My life-energy is percolating everywhere. But if I want to discover the source, then I have to say it is in the heart. Inside the heart we find the life-breath, and inside the life-breath is God’s Will. The life-breath is inside the heart and, at the same time, the heart is inside the life-breath. God’s Will is inside the life-breath and, at the same time, the life-breath is inside God’s Will.
Spirituality means oneness with God and with God’s Will. Everything we do can be part of spirituality, since everything is part of God and everything offers us oneness with God. But some things offer us a better way of becoming aware of our oneness with God. God is everywhere, but most human beings cannot see and cannot feel God everywhere. So God says, “All right, if you cannot see Me or feel Me everywhere, then see Me in your prayers and feel Me in your meditations.”
Water is everywhere, but if we want to swim, it is best to use a stairway that leads to the water. There we know it is safe. If we want to enter into the water and swim in other places, there may be danger; perhaps there is an undercurrent or some other kind of problem. So we can say that the best way to enter into God’s Consciousness is through spirituality — our prayer-life and meditation-life.
We are all God’s children; we are all members of the same family. But then, why did God create Sri Krishna, Lord Buddha and Jesus Christ? They also had human bodies like us. But through Sri Krishna, Lord Buddha, Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Chaitanya and Jesus Christ, God was able to manifest Himself more completely than through other human beings. These great Avatars also took human birth. They had their parents and brothers and sisters. But God found them more receptive or, let us say, God made them more receptive so that He could manifest Himself more fully in and through them.
Similarly, spirituality is one subject, poetry is one subject, music is one subject, science is one subject. But God finds it easier to manifest Himself through spirituality because spirituality is more receptive to His Will. In a family, everybody cannot be equally receptive. If one child is five years old and another child is twenty years old, we cannot expect the five-year-old to carry the same load as the twenty-year-old. We expect more from the older child because he is stronger.
We have to take spirituality as the eldest member of the family. God always relies more on His eldest son. God teaches the eldest one everything. My father taught everything to his eldest son. When the eldest took to yoga, he taught everything to the second one. Then we learned everything from him. From spirituality, from prayer and meditation, we have to learn everything. We have to learn how to write better poems, how to compose better music, how to be a better engineer or scientist or anything. If we separate these other activities from spirituality, it will be a mistake.
In a family, if one member becomes very strong and the others are not strong, then it is not a perfect family. The one who is strongest will not be happy if his brothers and sisters are not with him. Only when the entire family is together do all the members get joy. If one member is a musician and he is playing music, then not only is he happy but all the family members are happy. At that time he is spreading his happiness to the other members. And if his sister is singing, then there is more happiness, greater happiness, in the family.
Nothing can exist on earth without being created. God created spirituality. Then He said, “Now, from you, let others come.” It is like the Christ. The Father created the Christ, and the Christ’s Light entered into the whole world. In exactly the same way we have to think of spirituality as our own, very own. Spirituality will never mislead or misguide creativity; only it will give poetry, music or art in any form the capacity to go up, go up, go up. We can take spirituality as the trunk or root and creativity as a branch. If there is no trunk, there can be no branch. Again, if there is no branch, how can we call it a tree? The most important thing is the trunk. First the trunk grows, and from the trunk the branches grow. The branches should feel that their very existence depends on the trunk. The branches are so beautiful; they have so many fruits, so many flowers, so many leaves. But they have to be grateful to the trunk because the trunk is their source. Again, the trunk has to be grateful to the branches for adding beauty to it. The branches, flowers, fruits and leaves are adding beauty to the main life-tree. So the trunk and its branches have to go together. It is like a family. In a family we see the father, mother, brothers and sisters. But we have to know that the father and mother are the source. If they did not exist, then there would be no children. Again, the father and mother feel they have become perfect and integral only because of their children. In this way a family branches out.
When I entered into the Sri Aurobindo Ashram at the age of eleven and a half or twelve years, I prayed and meditated and also started writing poems. Hundreds of poems I wrote by the age of thirteen. I gave value to both my spirituality and my creativity. At the same time, I felt that my poetry and my music were the creation of my spirituality. Always we have to go to the Source, which is God. Importance we shall give to creativity, but we have to give more importance, utmost importance, to the Source, which is spirituality. Again, we have to know that spirituality itself is creativity. Unfortunately, some musicians and poets feel that spirituality and creativity are two different things. In fact, very few creative artists feel that the source of everything in the world is spirituality. Most people keep their creative capacities separate from their own inner root, their original virtue, which is their love of God. But we have to know that there is only one virtue, and it is called faith. Our faith in God is the trunk, the root, and as it branches out, we become a musician, a singer, a dancer, an engineer, a scientist or anything else. There is no conflict between spirituality and creativity. One should not create a problem for the other.
Some musicians have left the spiritual path because they felt that spirituality was taking away their freedom. But this is a totally wrong idea. Spirituality is infinitely vaster than vastness itself. It is not spirituality that is binding them but their desire for immediate glory. They do not realise that glory is one thing and working for humanity is something else. Some singers, musicians, artists and others want to be great, and they think that spirituality will help them become greater. Spirituality does help them become great, but when spirituality sees that their greatness is only killing them, spirituality says, “My God, if they really become great in their own way, then they will lose contact with their own divinity.” When spirituality sees sincerity in these individuals, then it does not want to fulfil their desires.
A good person can easily become a great person, if such is the Will of God. But for a great person to become good is very, very difficult. Many world figures are great but they are not good at all. Presidents, Prime Ministers and other leaders are all great people. They say, “Get up!” and the whole country has to get up. They go somewhere and thousands of people come flocking to see them and stand up to honour them. But if a saint or a sadhu or a spiritual Master sits somewhere at the foot of a tree, is anybody going to stand up? People will just pass by and ignore him. The whole world has taken a wrong turn; now it gives more attention and more value to greatness than to goodness. Greatness is honoured immediately. But if someone is trying to be good, if he is praying to God and trying to conquer jealousy, insecurity and impurity, nobody pays any attention.
Julius Caesar and Napoleon were great; they wanted to conquer the whole world. But they did not conquer the whole world, and all that they accomplished on the outer plane has gone. Jesus Christ, Sri Krishna, Lord Buddha, Sri Aurobindo and Sri Ramakrishna were good. They did not want to conquer anything; they wanted only to love. But their goodness and light slowly and steadily spread throughout the length and breadth of the world, and it will last forever. When light spreads, it goes everywhere. But when power wants to spread, it does not succeed. The power-bird looks very big and very strong, but it does not fly. The bird of light flies everywhere.
The power aspect has one most serious problem: it has darkness inside. Power always wants to show off: “My arm measures 25 inches and your arms only measure 10 inches.” The very nature of power is to show its supremacy and destroy. It embodies the feeling of destruction and command; it is like a commander-in-chief. But the very nature of light is to illumine. That does not mean there is no power inside light. Inside light there is divine power, which is the most powerful power. The most powerful power is light, which has the power to spread everywhere. The power that is inside light is the power of love. It is always sharing with its brothers and sisters, with its dear ones, with the whole world. The whole world is its friend. But we do not pay attention to this divine power.
When some people enter into the spiritual life, they feel that they are entering into the Himalayan caves and that they have to give up their music and other earthly activities. But that is not the case. Again, we have to know that there is something called evolution. In the music world, there is vital music, which only excites us, and there is spiritual music, which wants only to elevate us. Some people get satisfaction by composing and playing vital music: rock and roll, jazz and so forth. They alone know what kind of satisfaction they are getting! But after playing this kind of music for a few years, what happens? Such vital depression comes! Why? Because they hear about another musician who is getting more acclaim, more name and fame. They read in the newspaper that 20,000 people came to listen to somebody in another part of the world, whereas perhaps only 4,000 people came to listen to them. And that is not all. Perhaps this other musician also got a standing ovation for five minutes. So they say, “Oh God, I got only this number, and he got so many; plus he got so much admiration and adulation!” Then vital depression starts killing them.
Depression means weakness. When the vital is depressed, all the temptation of the world in the form of vital excitement attacks the individual. It is easier for temptation to enter into the physical, vital and mind when depression is there. When someone is depressed, he wants to destroy himself. At that time, he starts taking drugs and alcohol, which is like stabbing oneself with a knife or naked sword. He says, “There is only one way to be happy. Let me drink alcohol. Let me take drugs. Let me enjoy the vital world and mix with beautiful women.” This is what eventually happens to people who are playing music on the vital plane. Some of my disciple-musicians have left the path for this reason. When they were with me, they played spiritual music. But when they were not with me, they played their rock and roll and all kinds of things. Everybody has the right to say, “I am expressing God’s Will through my vital music.” Everybody is at perfect liberty to exercise his will in this way. But then look what happens!
Again, there are some who play only spiritual music. Although they may be making many mistakes, God is not counting their mistakes. God is seeing how soulfully they are singing or playing. Of course, if somebody is singing soulfully and also correctly, then God will be more pleased with that individual. Some people sing soulfully, but perfection is not to be found in them. Some people sing perfectly, but soulfulness is not there; zero, zero, zero they are getting.
I am not flattering you, but you are one of the very few who sing very soulfully and also perfectly. When you sing some songs, it absolutely melts my heart. Many so-called good singers do not sing soulfully. Others will sing soulfully, but not perfectly. In your case, your soulfulness is singing and the perfection-seeker inside you is also singing. You sing most soulfully and most perfectly. That is your absolutely rare, tremendous achievement among the disciples.
I admire your singing so much. Only one thing I do not admire about your singing. If you want to know what it is, then ask your daughter why she makes fun of you. When you start jumping up and down while you are singing, then you are entering into the restless vital — not the dynamic vital. The vital is like a volcano. People who are dynamic can keep the volcano under control. But people who are restless cannot, and then it just erupts.
So you have to know your two supremely good qualities. Soulfulness you have; perfection you have. But you also have this one defect. You are allowing your restless vital to enter into your body and into your consciousness. Your restless vital is trying to add something to the soulfulness and perfection of your singing. But it is not adding; it is only lowering. Secretly, like a thief, this restlessness is taking away your soulfulness and your perfection. Fortunately, it is not as powerful as the soulfulness and perfection in you, and it is not succeeding. But others who are watching the movements of your head find it difficult to enter into your heart when you are singing so soulfully and perfectly. They do not get the utmost benefit from your singing. When they see you shaking your hands and your head, their restless vital enters into you; then your restlessness and their restlessness come together and enjoy each other.
In the spiritual life, after five years or ten years or twenty years, some people want to see how much progress they have made. Many people do not even think of that. As long as they are in the boat, they say “Enough, enough!” There are far more people who do not care to see their progress than those who do. Many, many of the disciples who have been on the path for twenty or thirty years do not care about their progress; they are leading most ordinary, unaspiring lives. Again, there are people who have joined one year ago or two years ago who are doing so well. Last Wednesday night, I asked people to walk past me according to the number of years they had been on the path. Up to four years, I got such joy from seeing them. Their petals are so beautifully blossoming. But in those disciples who have been on the path for more than ten or eleven years, I saw that the petals are crooked or bent, or one corner is missing.
Our goal is to go from limited light to more light to most light to infinite Light. Instead of that, the lotus that was blossoming so nicely and giving me such fresh joy for one year, two years or three years is suddenly becoming withered. Why? The heart is like a bank. In a bank, we deposit money, and sometimes we overdraw our account. For a few months, perhaps the bank people do not check, but then they catch us. Finally, we realise that we have become totally bankrupt.
Similarly, in the beginning, people who are in the spiritual life are constantly depositing into their heart-bank their prayers and meditations and their determination to conquer jealousy, insecurity and all their undivine qualities. They are depositing purity, simplicity, sincerity and divinity. Then they start withdrawing and withdrawing. Most of the disciples have overdrawn from their heart-bank all their good qualities. Now they are totally bankrupt!
To come back to your question, people who are separating spirituality from music, art, poetry or any other field of life are making a mistake. After a few years they may say, “Oh, if only we had stuck to music, we would have been more successful.” No, perhaps they would have been more successful for a few years. Then competition would have started, and they would have heard about another musician who received more acclaim, more name and fame. You may say, “If I had not joined the spiritual life, then I would have become as famous as so and so.” But just wait a few years. Then you will hear that this fellow who has become so famous has found somebody else who is more famous. Then his depression will start and he will enter into the lower vital world or the drug world. Then the story will end.
But the musician who remains in the spiritual life will grow like a lotus — little by little he will blossom so beautifully. Then he will place himself at the Feet of God, and God will be so satisfied that He has received such a beautiful lotus at His Feet. If we follow the path of greatness, eventually we will discover someone who is greater, and then our desire for greatness will only dig our grave. But if we offer ourselves to God and try to become good, then God blossoms in and through us so beautifully, petal by petal, like a most beautiful lotus.
SCA 766. Sri Chinmoy answered this question on 22 July 1999.↩
Question: The last few days before my birthday, I definitely felt inwardly uplifted. I had much more aspiration, and my meditations were much better. How can I maintain this throughout the year?1Sri Chinmoy: I am so glad to hear that. I am so proud of you. In seventy-eight percent of the cases, if not more, before a birthday, hostile forces attack human beings. This includes not only the seekers, but unaspiring human beings as well. Even spiritual Masters of the highest order may be attacked before their birthdays. Because they come into the world to do something very, very great for the transformation of the world, they get negative attacks. Many, many spiritual Masters get such attacks before their birthdays, not because they have done something wrong, but because all the hostile forces try to destroy their possibilities of God-manifestation and Light-manifestation on earth.
Some seekers, for two or three days before their birthdays, do good meditation. But on their birthdays, when there are so many things going on — so many friends are being invited, telephone calls are coming from all over the world — then when do they have the time to meditate? The birthday is spent in celebration.
Again, if there is tremendous intensity in the morning, if for two or three minutes the birthday person can meditate very seriously, very soulfully, very sincerely, with all the eagerness of his heart, then that person does not have to meditate or pray for the rest of the day. They can receive in two or three minutes what they are supposed to receive from Above, from God, from the soul.
In your case, the fact that you have been uplifted prior to your birthday is an extremely, extremely good sign. In order to maintain that feeling, you have to know that you are not the body, you are not the vital, you are not the mind, you are not the heart, but you are the soul. Many, many times you have broken world records. When you are trying to break a record, you have tremendous will-power, adamantine will-power. This will-power is not coming from your body. Far from it! It is coming not from your vital, not from your mind, not even from your heart. This will-power is coming directly from the Supreme via your soul. Your soul is transmitting the Will-Power of the Supreme.
Then again, physical fitness is of paramount importance. Your body is fit, your vital is fit, your mind is fit, your heart is fit. That is why you can break world records. Of course, when tiredness comes, the body is unable to accept any more light. The vital cannot receive more; it is limited. Similarly, the heart and mind are both limited. At that time, it is like a team. The mother and children are praying for something. Then the children fall asleep. The mother says, “All right, all right, you sleep. I shall pray for all of us, on your behalf.”
When your body, vital, mind and heart are tired, at that time the soul takes up the challenge. The soul says to the body, vital, mind and heart, “You rest, children, you rest. I will meditate not only for myself, but also for you all.” Many times when you break world records, the soul alone maintains its adamantine will-power. The body, vital, mind and heart surrender. They surrender because it is beyond their capacity. They have received determination in abundant measure, but they cannot go any farther.
Only the soul maintains its adamantine will-power when the body is not receiving, the vital is not receiving, the mind is not receiving, even the heart is not receiving any more. At that time the soul continues. Then after a few hours or so, the body again starts receiving, the vital starts receiving, the mind starts receiving and the heart starts receiving.
To come back to your question, when a birthday comes, ordinary human beings are thinking of mundane things. Very few people think: “From a very, very high, higher, highest Source, I came into the world to do something really good for my Master and for humanity.” But, as a truth-seeker and God-lover, you will think of the Highest on your birthday. You have to feel at that time you are not the body, you are not the vital, you are not the mind, you are not the heart. You are only the soul. Imagine that your soul is just entering into this world like a most beautiful little child. The soul is most beautiful. On your birthday, your soul is reminding Mother Earth: “I came from Above, but now I am for you. I came from God, but God has sent me only to work for you. Mother Earth, for you I have come.”
Again, Mother Earth says, “You have come. You have covered such a long, long distance. Now I am giving you what I have: my concern, my affection, my blessings, my joy, my pride, my sweetness, my fondness, my tenderness — everything that I have, I am giving you and I will always give you.”
The feeling of upliftment that you have described comes only when our consciousness is not in the body, but our consciousness is outside the body. When a bird is inside a cage, the bird cherishes the hope that one day it will be able to come out of the cage. Either somebody will open up the door, or somehow the cage will be smashed and it will be able to go out. The same bird, when it is no longer inside the cage, can immediately identify itself with Eternity, Infinity and Immortality. While we are in the body-cage, we can only imagine. Most of the time we cannot even imagine. It is beyond our imagination, when we are in a small, dark room, to think of the infinite sky, the immortal Reality. It is impossible. But once we come out of the body-cage or this little room, then we can imagine Infinity, Eternity and Immortality.
Again, our imagination is limited. Right now my mind can think of China. It can think of Russia. It can think of Germany. “Oh, China is quite far!” — that much my imagination is telling me. But beyond that, my imagination is not carrying me. My imagination will stop at one place: today in Shakpura, or in Myanmar, or Alaska — anywhere. Imagination cannot go any farther because imagination will only carry us so far. But when we live in the soul’s world, at that time imagination is not needed at all. At that time the soul uses intuition or divine light, which are unlimited. The soul will not stop at a particular place. There is no halt. Inside the soul, everything is constantly flowing.
I often use the term ‘the ever-transcending Beyond’. The ever-transcending Beyond exists only while you are in the soul. When you are in the body, the mind will say, “This is the ultimate Goal.” After that the mind cannot go even one block farther. When imagination stops, real discovery stops.
If we remain in the soul’s light, we are constantly going beyond, beyond, beyond. There are no boundaries. We come to a place and say, “This is the goal.” Then we go farther, farther, farther. The soul does not face any obstruction because it is dealing with light. Divine light can pass through anything. Ordinary light, earthly light or sunlight cannot do that. Only divine light can do it. It knows no obstruction. It has no necessity to stop at any particular place.
Even when the soul comes into the world, it always knows its Source. Its Source is unlimited. God the Infinite, God the Eternal, God the Immortal remains with the soul. The soul is neutral. It can take a masculine form, or it can take a feminine form. But by itself the soul is neither masculine nor feminine. The soul embodies God’s very, very special Light. You are getting joy for a few days prior to your birthday because your consciousness has been most of the time in your soul, where everything is unlimited. When you are flying in the unlimited sky, there is bound to be joy, and this joy increases like anything. When you fly in a plane, you get joy when you are going up. Then, while going at a very fast speed, 700 or 800 miles an hour, again you get joy. When you are about to arrive at the destination, you get another kind of joy. Then when you arrive at your destination, you get joy. Similarly, the inner joy that you received before your birthday will increase on the day of your birthday. And it does not have to come to an end when your birthday is over.
In the soul’s world, there is no stopping. It is not that here you will have a stopover, there you will have a stopover — no. The soul just goes on and on. The soul is unobstructed. It has made friends with unlimited reality. When we are dealing with unlimited reality, when we are becoming part and parcel of unlimited reality, when we are in the flow of the ever-transcending Beyond, then we feel boundless happiness and a sense of satisfaction at every moment. Also, at that time while we are looking at the world around, not only our inner world, we see there is tremendous hope for the citizens of the world. This world is not only meant to cry and sigh, cry and sigh. This world also embodies the hope and promise that it will eventually be a real playground or a real paradise of our Lord Beloved Supreme. The world is like a piano which has millions and billions and trillions of keys. When God strikes a note or when God asks a particular individual soul to strike a note on the world-piano, that one special note is enough to elevate the consciousness of the entire world.
So it is a very good sign that you have received joy before your birthday and you have maintained it. The other day I gave an early-morning weightlifting prayer that said our insecurity gives God a headache and our jealousy gives Him a heart attack. But two medicines are there for all our ailments, and these are our gratitude-heart and surrender-life. If we use these two medicines, then even if we do not achieve satisfaction on the material plane or earthly plane, we will never be unhappy. Our gratitude-heart to the Supreme will constantly keep us happy. Our surrender-life to the Supreme will constantly keep us happy. If we can feel that we are our gratitude-heart and we are our surrender-life, then there is always joy. Earthly success, earthly victory or defeat, does not count for anything. On the one side is victory; on the other side is defeat. If we can remain in the soul-consciousness all the time, then we shall only receive and offer happiness, happiness, happiness. The soul will always give happiness to the body, vital, mind and heart. When they start receiving the soul’s light, which the soul has received from the Supreme, then we will always have a cheerful heart and a self-giving life. And in this cheerful heart and self-giving life abides God’s Satisfaction in infinite measure.
SCA 767. Sri Chinmoy answered this question on 17 September 1999.↩