Sri Chinmoy answers, part 22
Part ISCA 768-777. Sri Chinmoy answered these questions on 30 January 1999 during his brief visit to Nepal to attend a ceremony dedicating Nepal as a Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossom-Nation.
Seeker: Thank you for coming to Nepal to bless us.Sri Chinmoy: There is only one Person to bless us — you, me and everybody — and that Person is God. I use the term ‘Supreme’. God and the Supreme are the same Person, but when I use the term ‘Supreme’, I get much more joy. When a little child calls his father ‘Daddy’, he gets more joy than when he says ‘Father’. Similarly, in my case, I prefer to use the term ‘Supreme’ and all my students also use the term, but it is the same Person: God.
Question: How can we control the mind?Sri Chinmoy: Please try to imagine a lotus inside your heart. Then try to imagine that the lotus is not only inside your heart, but that your heart itself is a lotus. When you look at the lotus or imagine the lotus, try to be deeply absorbed in the beauty of the lotus. It is your own heart-lotus. Then your mind will have no time to roam.
When you enter into a garden, you look at the flowers and enjoy their beauty and fragrance. At that time you do not pay attention to anything else. You have no thought. You are only enjoying the experience that the flowers are offering.
In the same way, try to be deeply absorbed in the lotus which is inside your heart. Then a day will come when you will see that this lotus is not a flower at all — it is your heart itself, which is full of beauty and fragrance. If you start appreciating the beauty and fragrance of your own heart, then there will be no time for your mind to think of anything else.
It all depends on where we place our attention. You are a teacher. When you pay all attention to the subject that you are teaching, whether it is mathematics or any other subject, then you become deeply absorbed. It is when you are not deeply absorbed that the mind roams here and there. When an athlete is running, does he have time to think? No, his goal is only to reach the finish line as fast as possible. Now that you have entered into the spiritual life, your goal is only to remain inside your heart. Who can prevent you from remaining inside your heart-room? For many years, or even centuries, you have been living in your mind-room. Therefore, your heart-room is not familiar to you. But once we start living in the heart-room and pay all attention to the heart-room, we can forget about the other room. This is how we can always be in the heart and pray to God, meditate on God and become choicest instruments of God.
Question: If we want to focus on the heart, where is it?Sri Chinmoy: Some spiritual Masters are of the opinion that our spiritual heart is in the centre of our chest where the anahata chakra is located. That is the place of utmost joy and safety. I happen to be one of those who subscribe to this belief. Other spiritual Masters will say that it is not in the centre of our chest but in our third eye, the ajna chakra or centre of vision, because the heart has the vision to see God, feel God and be blessed by God. Still others say it is on the left side of the physical heart organ.
Whichever place in our body has the capacity to see God, pray to God and meditate on God we call the heart. As soon as we utter the word ‘heart’, we get a feeling of something very deep, profound and sweet. The heart is the dearest part of our being, the dearest reality or divinity inside us. So if you get joy by meditating on your anahata chakra, then you can meditate there. If you get joy by meditating on your ajna chakra or any other centre, then you can meditate on that place. You do not have to worry about the philosophy behind these spiritual chakras. The best thing is for you to choose which place gives you the most joy. The place that gives you the utmost joy while you are praying and meditating is the best place for you to meditate.
Every day you are working in the hustle and bustle of life. Then, when you come home, you get tremendous joy. You enter into your room and there you pray, you meditate or do whatever you want to do. As soon as we say the word ‘home’, we are filled with such sweet feelings. It is exactly the same for the heart. The heart is the place where we are safe. There we feel that our prayers are being answered. There our meditation becomes very deep, illumining and fulfilling. It is the place that gives us utmost joy. Let our medical friends say, “No, how can this place be your heart? You are a fool! The heart has to be here, in this precise place.” We are not dealing with medical science. We are dealing only with spiritual realities. According to the spiritual reality, the place that gives you the utmost joy when you pray and meditate is your heart.
Question: Will it help me if I see you in my meditation?Sri Chinmoy: Definitely. That is what my disciples and the disciples of any spiritual Master long for. The more you can see your Master in your meditations, the greater will be your speed in the spiritual life. But, in addition to seeing your Master and feeling your Master, you also have to do the right thing. You can see me in your meditation, but afterwards if you enjoy television too much, how will you get the benefit? You have to be very careful. One moment you are in your heart-garden, which has lots of beautiful flowers. But next moment, if you enter into your mind-jungle, all the things that you saw or felt inside your heart-garden will be ruined. This moment you are enjoying the beauty and fragrance of your heart-garden. The next moment if you enter into your mind-jungle, you will become a victim to insecurity, frustration or impurity. So the more you can stay inside your heart, in your own heart-garden, the more you are going to see and feel my divinity.
Question: I wish to realise God. How long will it take?Sri Chinmoy: I will not be able to say exactly how many months or years it will take. It all depends on God’s Compassion, Affection and Blessings. The only thing I can tell you is that you have to pray and meditate regularly in the morning and evening and, if possible, two or three times more during the day. Then you have to place the results at the Feet of God. You have to be like a farmer. A farmer sows the seed. Then, if he starts looking for the plant the same day, he will not find it. He has to water the seed and wait until it germinates. He must not become impatient and dig up the seed because he cannot see any plant. He has to wait and wait for the proper time.
Your only duty is to pray to God and meditate on God. That is everybody’s duty. Then God will choose a day. We call it God’s choice Hour. At that time, He will definitely give you your realisation.
But right now, do not think of the realisation-fruit. True, the fruit is your goal, but if you think of reaching the fruit before you even climb up the tree, then your mind will be on the fruit and you will not be able to climb. First you have to climb up the tree. Then only can you think of the fruit. Just start climbing. I assure you, one day you will be able to enjoy the most delicious nectar-fruit which is God-realisation.
A little child who is in kindergarten should not think of his Ph.D. First he has to go to primary school, high school and university. At each stage he has to study very, very hard. The goal is there, but it will not be in the forefront of his mind. In your case also, step by step you have to reach your goal.
Question: What is selflessness?Sri Chinmoy: Selflessness means giving something unconditionally to God. I shall give God what I have, but it is up to God to give me whatever He wants to. I shall give Him my soul, my heart, my mind, my vital, my body — but not with expectation. That is selflessness.
Suppose there are two friends. One friend smiles at the other friend. Then he expects the same kind of smile in return. If his friend does not return his smile, then he gets annoyed. But if you have established true friendship with someone, even if he fails to smile at you, your friendship will not be ruined. You will continue to smile at him.
Think of a mother and her son. Right from the very dawn of his life, the mother does so many things unconditionally for her child. Similarly, children also should do things for their parents unconditionally.
God is our Father, He is our Mother, He is our Brother, he is all our relations. When we pray to God, we have to do it unconditionally, and also we have to feel that if we give Him one dollar, He will give us a million dollars in terms of spiritual wealth, inner wealth. If a child finds a penny in the street, he runs and cheerfully gives it to his father. He could have hidden the penny because, after all, it is his money. All kinds of ideas could have entered his mind that one day he will become rich and so on. But he brings his little penny and offers it to his father. The father is so delighted. Because he came to his father with what he had, his father gives him a dollar with utmost pride and joy.
In God’s case, if we give Him a drop, He gives us an ocean. But while we are giving Him a drop, if we act like a businessman who is trying to make a profit by saying, “Oh, since He is the Ocean, if I give Him a drop, He will give me ten drops or twenty drops,” then we ruin the game. We give God what we have and what we are, knowing that He is our most compassionate Father and Mother. Can there be anybody greater or nicer than God? So we offer everything to Him and then we leave it up to Him to decide what He will give us and when He will give it to us. At His choice Hour He will give. Otherwise, if He gives us something now, it may be untimely. The fruit is there. Now the fruit is green, but it will definitely become ripe in a few months or so. If God gives us a green fruit, we will not appreciate it. So let us wait for the ripe fruit.
Selflessness means that we give God what we have and what we are, not with the expectation that because He has Infinity, Eternity and Immortality at His disposal, He will give us something in return. He will definitely give us these riches, but if we start expecting today, tomorrow and the day after, then we are only delaying and delaying our own progress. We shall give God the Creator and God the creation what we have and what we are as soon as possible. Then we shall leave it up to Him whether He will give us anything in return. This is called selflessness.
Question: How can we trust ourselves and our abilities?Sri Chinmoy: If we rely on God, then whatever we receive from Him will be sufficient for us. You are saying you cannot trust yourself. This moment your mind is telling you that I am a good person. Next moment your mind says the opposite. And the moment after that, your mind will tell you, “Who am I to judge him? If he is a good person, let him be good. If he is a bad person, let him be bad. What do I gain by thinking of whether he is good or bad?”
The same thing happens with trust. This moment you trust your capacity. Next moment you do not trust it at all. All human beings suffer from trust and lack of trust.
How do we solve this problem? If we pray to God and depend on God for everything, then God gives us confidence. At that time, we do not have to worry. The confidence that we get from our reliance on God can never be taken away. If you love God, how can He deceive you? We cannot deceive our dearest ones. If you are a nice person, you will not deceive your mother or your father or your brother. Can there be anybody nicer than God? God is infinitely nicer than we are. If you trust Him, then He will never fail you. Your trust in Him, your faith in Him, will give you confidence in yourself. You will trust yourself and you are bound to trust yourself precisely because there is Someone who loves you infinitely more than you can ever imagine, and that Person is God. If you love Him, He will give you the capacity to trust in your activities.
You write poems. Try to feel that these poems are being written by God in and through you. Feel that you are only holding the pen and writing down the words that God wants you to write. If you feel, “I have done it. I have written hundreds of poems,” if that kind of pride comes forward, then you will not be able to write even one line.
Right from my childhood, I started writing poems. Now I have written thousands and thousands of poems, but I know that I can do nothing without God. Everything that I do comes from Him. It is not my false modesty. It is my sincere conviction, based on my oneness with God’s Will.
When you write poems or when you do something good, inspiring and illumining, you have to feel that it is He who has done it in and through you, according to your capacity of receptivity. If you cannot trust God, then you will never be able to trust yourself. So trust God’s Presence from now on, if possible all the time. If you cannot do it all the time, then try to trust Him for a few minutes a day. The more your faith in God increases, the stronger will be your faith and trust in yourself.
Question: In the morning I usually spend half an hour for spiritual practice. How much time should I allot to chanting and how much for meditation?Sri Chinmoy: If you have only half an hour at your disposal, then in the beginning you can chant for ten minutes. Chanting is also part of prayer and meditation. We cannot separate them. After chanting you can pray for five minutes, and after praying you can meditate for ten minutes. Then it has become twenty-five minutes. For the last five minutes, you should read spiritual books. That will help you. After meditating, slowly we have to enter our outer life. Meditation takes us deep inside. But we have to keep a balance. We have to go to work and engage in outer activities. So to convince yourself that you have chanted, you have prayed and you have meditated, this reading is absolutely necessary. But only spiritual books, nothing else.
For ten minutes please chant, for five minutes pray and for ten minutes meditate very deeply. Then for five minutes, please read spiritual books. This way you can spend your half an hour. Do not think that meditation is superior and chanting and prayer are inferior — no, no, no. You have to feel that you are entering into a temple. These are the steps that have to be taken. The first step is chanting. If there is no first step, you cannot go to the second and third steps. Do chanting first, then prayer, then meditation. Then, to convince yourself that you have chanted, you have prayed and you have meditated, it is advisable to read spiritual books.
Question: How can we have a peaceful world?Sri Chinmoy: We can create a peaceful world by enlarging our heart. When I was a child, my whole world was my father and my mother. I come from a village. After a few years, I started loving my little village. It is not that I stopped loving my father and mother — no. They are inside my love for my village. I only expanded my love.
Peace and joy can never be separated. If I am peaceful, that means I am blissful. If I am blissful, that means I am peaceful. A child gets utmost joy by thinking of his parents. After a few years, he gets tremendous joy by thinking, “This is my village.” Then gradually his feeling expands to include his town, his city, his province, his country.
I was born in a village in Bengal. At first, I used to think only of my village. Then gradually, gradually, when I used to hear the word ‘Bengal’, I would get tremendous joy. I read poems on Bengal and listened to songs about Bengal. My heart was expanding. Then I came to realise that my country is India. When I think of India, I am filled with joy because I was born there and my nationality is Indian.
Now I have been living in America for many, many years. I go to the United Nations to pray and meditate twice a week. The delegates, diplomats and staff — all those who want to pray and meditate — come and join me. The United Nations is so significant because almost all the nations of the world have joined. So I feel that all the nations are coming together to pray and meditate.
Now I cannot say that I have lost my love for India or East Bengal or Chittagong or Shakpura — no. I am only expanding, expanding my heart. First I got joy from thinking of my parents as my own. Then I added my village, my town, my province and my country, India. Now if you ask me what gives me the most joy, I will say that it is the moment when I think of the entire world as my own, very own. Right now, if I think of myself as a little Bengali village boy, then I will be caught there. Now I take the whole world as my own. When we use our love, there is no distance. It is like a magnet.
So the love that we felt in the very beginning for our mother and father we have to feel for the entire humanity. Until we can claim the whole world as our own, very own, with our love-power, we will have no peace. We will only think, “I am better than you are. I am superior, you are inferior.” It is love that unites us, and that love is inside the heart. When we do not have the feeling of love, we will look at somebody else or at another country and immediately we will draw comparisons: I am stronger than you are, or I am weaker than you are. But if we use the heart, even if the person who is standing in front of us is stronger, more beautiful or more cultured than we are, we will claim him as our own.
When a little child sees his father, he does not think, “Oh, my father is so much greater than I am, he has so much wisdom” — no, no, no! He takes his father and all his father’s capacities and qualities as his own.
Here also, if we can expand our hearts to include countless human beings, then we will get peace. Only in the expansion of love do we find peace. We must not say only ‘I’ and ‘mine’, but we must love others the way we love ourselves. The moment we use the mind, we do not expand. We will try to find our peace in being ahead of somebody else. Then, to our dismay, we will find that that person is already hundreds of miles ahead of us!
If we use our heart, we will not mind if somebody is ahead of us in any sphere. We will say, “That person is an extension of me. It is the same thing as putting my right foot ahead of my left foot. They belong to me; we have to go together. Otherwise, with one leg how will I be able to walk?”
When we can establish our oneness with the entire world, we can have peace. And it is from our prayers and meditations that we develop oneness.
General comments about NepalOur dream-boat started sailing in Nepal many years ago when one of my students came here. Sometimes the boat has sailed through stormy weather. We did not mind, because the destination was assured. Then two more came to give the boat such speed. The boat started sailing faster than the fastest. Now our Nepalese boat is very beautiful and very powerful. Today, when I was at the airport, I was shedding tears of gratitude to the soul, to the heart, to the life and to the life-breath of Nepal. The moment I use the word ‘Nepal’, inside my heart something so deep and haunting I feel, like a most melodious tune. Such a sweeter than the sweetest melody I hear when I use the word ‘Nepal’. I am very happy to be of service to Nepal, to all the Nepalese hearts, Nepalese souls and Nepalese lives.
Part IISCA 778-782. Excerpts from a telephone interview by Daibel Faye of Radio Kan Kan, WBAI 99.5 FM, New York, that took place on 30 December 1998.
Daibel Faye: Could you tell us what your mission is and what you are trying to achieve?Sri Chinmoy: I am a student of peace. Only a student can learn, and peace is something that we learn from our day-to-day life. When we pray, when we meditate, we try to become a better person. If we become a better person, then we shall have joy, and this joy comes from our inspiration. I inspire you, you inspire me and both of us together try to inspire the whole world. This world of ours has everything save and except one thing — peace. Material wealth will not give us peace. Earthly possessions will not give us peace. Talks on peace will not give us peace. Peace we get only from our self-giving life. This self-giving life has to be sleepless and unconditional.
I happen to be a poet, a musician and an artist. Now, you may say I am a jack of all trades, master of none, but I have tried through my poems, through my music and through my art to offer my inspiration to the world. Each thing that I do is for inspiration. When I am inspired, I create something and then I try to share with the rest of the world the same inspiration. I feel we can become good citizens of the world on the strength of our inspiration. When we are inspired, we do great, good and immortal things.
I have met with many, many world figures. Although some of them are well known in the world of politics — such as President Gorbachev, President Mandela and a few other politicians of the highest rank — they are so kind to me. They never discuss politics with me. We only talk about world peace from the depths of our heart and not from our mind.
Here I have to beg the pardon of the listeners. The mind, no matter how great and cultured it is, will not be able to give us peace. Only a simple heart, a pure heart, a childlike heart will be able to give us peace. I have written considerably, I have given talks at various places. But I must say I get peace only when I share peace with others. That is why I give peace concerts all over the world. I have only one goal — peace, universal peace.
For many years I gave talks on world peace at the United Nations. But I found that my talks were of no avail. Only when I meditate in silence or play soulful music do I feel peace in the inmost recesses of my heart. At that time I feel I can be of true service to mankind. So in everything that I do I try to become a self-giving life founded upon my inner peace.
Daibel Faye: Well, it is quite refreshing to hear you go through all the different things that you do. Apparently you travel a lot, and yet you can manage to write all these books, to learn all these instruments and to practise them. It seems that you do not make a distinction between your private and professional life.Sri Chinmoy: Mine is not a professional life. Mine is the life of prayer and meditation. I do not separate my outer activities from my prayer-life. You may ask why I have thrown myself into the hustle and bustle of life. For me, everything that I do has only one aim or goal — peace, universal peace. I feel that if I enter into a garden, there should be many flowers of various types. If there are different kinds of flowers, then individuals who enter into the garden can appreciate the flowers. In a shop there are many, many things. You can buy the things that you like, and I can buy the things that I need. Similarly, I feel that inside my heart-garden, inside your heart-garden, there are all kinds of beautiful flowers and they have a divine fragrance. When I enter into your heart-garden, I derive tremendous peace, joy, harmony, love and the feeling of oneness. In the same way, when you enter into my heart-garden, you also see and feel the same thing. This is how we grow together. Only on the strength of our oneness can we have peace. This oneness we can get only when we are happy. How can we be happy if we are not inspired? So right from the beginning we have to think of inspiration. Inspiration is of paramount importance. Anything great, good, divine and immortal that we are planning to accomplish in this lifetime has to come from inspiration. I go from this country to that country only to be of service to mankind. My service and my inspiration are like the beauty and fragrance of my heart-flower.
Daibel Faye: I understand that you have lifted over 92,000 pounds in a time space of three hours.Sri Chinmoy: Yes. On the 27th of November, in three hours’ time I lifted over 92,000 pounds. Again, I must say, it is not my physical strength. It is all God’s Grace. My biceps are not even 13 inches. I am not muscle-bound and I am of very short stature. For all that I do, I depend on God’s Grace. I can do nothing on my own. I entirely depend on God’s Grace for my poetry, music, art and sports. Everything that I do comes from my prayer-life and meditation-life.
Daibel Faye: Even though it is by God's Grace that you lifted all that weight, indeed, there has to be a physical connection. Even though God's Grace is responsible, there has to be a lifting process.Sri Chinmoy: Let us use the term ‘faith’. Every day I try to increase my inner faith in God. He is full of Compassion, Love, Affection and Concern for His creation. When we look up, we see God the Creator, and when we look around, we see God the creation. God the Creator and God the creation are the same Person. When we pray to God the Creator, He tells us that He will be pleased with us only when we serve Him inside His creation.
This weightlifting that I do inspires many people. When it is on television, millions of people watch me. They get innocent joy when they see this 67-year-old man lifting weights. especially people who are over sixty get tremendous inspiration. They say, “Oh, he is of our age. What is wrong with us? Why should we allow ourselves to be inactive? Why should we wallow in the pleasures of idleness?” Young people who are twenty or forty years younger than I am say, “If this old man can lift such heavy weights, what is wrong with us?”
My weightlifting is such an innocent thing. I am not boxing or wrestling with anybody. I am only trying to transcend my own capacity. I am only loving the divine in me, in you and in everybody. That divine is telling me to be of greater service to humanity. So when I lift weights, I have only one objective in front of me, and that is to serve mankind according to the limited capacity that I have been entrusted with. Again, my capacity is founded upon faith, and this faith comes from my prayer-life and my meditation-life.
Daibel Faye: That is very well said. We have seen people who use worldly material power to do wrong towards people. Thank God that those who have the divine power know how to manage that power and will hopefully do what you are doing, which is to promote peace and unity in the world.Sri Chinmoy: There are two kinds of power. One power divides, the other power unites. When we use our mind-power, we try to exercise our superiority. We say, “I am superior to you; I am better than you.” This becomes our philosophy at that time. We divide ourselves completely from each other. When we live in the heart, we become inseparably one with others. Your good qualities and your bad qualities become part and parcel of my life and vice versa. My good qualities and my bad qualities belong to you in the same way.
The power of oneness is infinitely, infinitely stronger than the power of division. There shall come a time in the near future or in the distant future when we shall grow into the power of our oneness-heart, and this world of ours will be transformed. Now mind-power is trying to lord it over the whole world. But there shall come a time when heart-power, which is all oneness, will be found everywhere. We will have a world of universal oneness. At that time, there will be no destruction; it will be all fulfilment.
Now we are not fulfilled. We have one house, but we want to have two houses, three houses, four houses. We have one car, but then we want two, three, four, five, six. Each time our desires increase, we feel miserable. But when we aspire, pray and meditate, we know that if it is absolutely necessary, our Lord Supreme will bless us with a car or a house. Anything that we need, He will supply. In that way, we can have peace. Whatever we need, God will definitely bless us with, but He is under no obligation to please us by giving us whatever we want.
Right now the whole world is expecting and demanding from individuals, from countries, from humanity because we live in the mind. But if we live in the heart, then we will not demand. We will only grow and glow together. As I said before, when I pray and meditate, when I go from one country to another, when I give peace concerts, when I compose songs or write poetry, I have only one aim — to be of service to mankind. I want to serve mankind according to my very limited capacity, lovingly, prayerfully, soulfully and self-givingly. While I am doing this, I feel abundant peace in the inmost recesses of my heart.
Question: My sister has been fasting for sixteen days to protest the building of a dam over the Narmada River by the Indian Government. I am so worried about her health.3Sri Chinmoy: After nine days of fasting, one’s health starts to go, no matter how much water you take. I have tried it. Water can keep the energy level in the beginning, but after nine days, you have to take some milk or banana or something. The first thing to be affected is the brain. Before your muscles start to atrophy or anything else, the brain suffers.
As a way of trying to change the minds of people who are in power, hunger strikes do not work. The only way to change their minds is through prayer. The best thing is for those people who are against the dam to go to the temple and pray. When we see that something is impossible, then prayer is the only thing that will work. Nobody in the government cares if some people are on a hunger strike.
Prayer is the answer when everything else has failed. Of course, prayer is also the answer right from the beginning, but when we feel all other weapons have failed, our prayer-weapon will definitely work. If even twelve sincere people pray to God, it will have some effect. God will listen to their sincere prayers and somebody in the government will do something for them.
The trouble is, we cry but we do not pray. That is why these things are happening. I have concentrated on Yugoslavia. They are crying, but they are not praying. They are not invoking the Christ and Mother Mary.
Please tell your sister that I am deeply concerned about her health. Hunger strikes can only be effective at home with our relatives because they love us. My mother fasted for a day and a half because my father would not take her to Pondicherry to bring back my brother Hriday. After a day and a half, he agreed to take her. In the case of Mahatma Gandhi, he undertook fasts many, many times to protest something in the government, but he knew that Nehru was so devoted to him. When Gandhi fasted, it broke Nehru’s heart and he promised to make those changes. But for your sister to become a martyr, what good will it do? Prayer is the only answer.
SCA 783. Sri Chinmoy answered this question on 26 April 1999.↩
Question: Guru, I would like to ask you about the significance of my name.4Sri Chinmoy: Your name means the forest. Now, let me go off the track a little. Many years ago, our Indian Consul-General came to one of our peace concerts in San Francisco. When I worked at the Indian Consulate, he was very spirited. Faster than the fastest he used to walk! At this particular peace concert, he gave a most significant talk. He said that in the forest there were many, many trees, but one particular tree was so high, extremely high. From the topmost branch, that highest tree started shedding light. He was talking about me, Sri Chinmoy. When I was at the Consulate, my name was Chinmoy Ghose. At that time nobody imagined that this particular tree would go so high, and that from such a great height it would spread light all over the world.
Now, a forest has thickness, and thickness means oneness. When many trees are growing together, we observe their thickness. Thickness is closeness, and closeness is oneness. In a forest there are so many trees, but the forest itself is one unit. The trees may be looked at individually, and again, collectively they are one.
In a family there may be five members. As a unit, they eat together, they mix, they cut jokes. Again, when morning dawns, they all go to do their respective jobs. Here we observe their unity and diversity. Like that, each tree also has its own capacity. In a forest there are so many trees of different types and sizes, with different flowers. The forest represents unity; again, the forest embodies diversity. When we think of any tree in the forest, we feel the closeness and oneness of all the trees. They go together, and at the same time each one has its own beauty, its own fragrance, its own fruits.
Now, kindly think of only one tree. It does not have to be in a forest. It can be anywhere — at the bank of a river, behind your own house or any place else. You are bound to feel that this tree is all self-giving. In our human life, sometimes we give our heart, sometimes we give our mind, sometimes we give our soul, sometimes we give our body as a sacrifice. Sometimes we give our heart to a country or to an individual. Sometimes we give even our life. But in the case of a tree, right from the roots to the topmost bough, it is all sacrifice. Take, for example, the leaves. When the leaves are dry, we can burn them. In this way the tree is helping us by giving us the flame of aspiration. The fruits of a tree give us nourishment. Its flowers are also a gift. They give us so much joy, and we use them to worship God. The wood we use; every part of the tree we use. There is not a single part of the tree that cannot be used for a divine purpose. There are many, many things in this world that are not serving God at all, but anything and everything that the tree has and is, it offers as a sacrifice for humanity.
When we human beings achieve something, we become haughty. But when the tree is in full bloom, with countless flowers and fruits, it bends down. Look at the tree’s humility! This is what the tree does when it has achieved everything and become everything. In our case, when we ordinary human beings get a little money-power or name and fame, immediately our head touches the ceiling; nobody can come near us. Our haughtiness and pride come to the fore. But in the case of the tree, when the tree has everything to show, it bends down with utmost humility. This is the difference between an ordinary human being and a tree.
The tree teaches us something else most significant. Our philosophy is to aspire to go up to the highest while staying here on earth. We do not want to remain in the Himalayan caves — no, no, no! Similarly, the tree is rooted in the ground, and at the same time it is trying to reach the sky. Like that, we shall live here in this world while our aspiration-flame climbs to the highest. The tree shows us how to remain firmly rooted on earth while going high, higher, highest, and the tree’s humility is unparalleled. When the tree has everything, at that time it bends down to serve humanity. These are the divine qualities of the tree.
Sri Aurobindo wrote in one of his poems, Therefore, we know by Thy Humility that Thou art God. God is infinite Light, infinite Peace and infinite Bliss, but at the same time He is dealing with human beings, and we are nothing short of undivine scoundrels. We are all jokers! We are such impossible human beings, but God comes down to our level. This is something else that we learn from the tree. The tree is universal. Anybody, good or bad, can get anything from the tree. A bad person can take its fruits and flowers, just as a good person can have these gifts from the tree. The tree is absolutely giving away everything. The message of the tree is, “Take, take, take! If you are good, then you can become better. If you are better, then you can become best. And if you are bad, then what can I do? Only use your wisdom all the time and then become a good person.”
The tree is made of sacrifice. There is nothing on earth, in God’s entire creation, that is sacrificing itself completely like the tree. But those of us who are aspiring say that there is no such thing as sacrifice; it is all oneness. When we are dealing with another human being, we see that person also as God’s creation. Today I am giving you something as a brother, and tomorrow you will give me something as a brother.
When we come to the aspiring human standard, there is no such thing as sacrifice. I am not sacrificing anything, because I have realised God. In you, in him, in her, in everybody I am seeing God, so what sacrifice am I making? In the same way, you also have to feel that you are seeing or imagining God inside me, so what sacrifice are you making? If you feel that inside me is the living Presence of God, there is no sacrifice; it is all oneness. God in me is serving you, and God in you is receiving me. Again, God in you is giving to me, and God in me is accepting what you are offering.
On the aspiring human level, it is all oneness. But the tree has not come to that stage, so we have to say that the tree is sacrificing everything. From the very roots to the topmost branch, it is all sacrifice. When we enter into the consciousness of a tree, definitely it is all sacrifice. But when we enter into our own consciousness, then it is not sacrifice, but oneness. I am bound to serve the divine in you, and you are bound to serve the divine in me. Where is the sacrifice?
The higher we go, the clearer it becomes that there is no such thing as sacrifice. Again, when ordinary people do something for another individual, what a sacrifice they feel they have made! If unaspiring human beings do anything for each other, it is all sacrifice, and they become bloated with pride. They say, “I made such a sacrifice for my friends.” But in the spiritual life, when we become fully aware of God’s existence within us, there is no such thing as sacrifice.
SCA 784. Sri Chinmoy answered this question on 10 December 1999 at the Hotel Sao Moritz, in Nova Friburgo, Brazil.↩
Trees5Quite often I used to go to the park in front of the Ashram dining hall in Pondicherry. Daily at least once I used to walk there. On either side there were trees. It was very beautiful and very simple in those days. Now it has become so modern! There are so many statues, children’s recreation areas and exercise machines. In those days it was so soulful and pure.
One time, late in the evening, I went to the foot of a particular tree and deliberately stopped my heartbeat. Yogis can do that. They can stop their pulse and remain for some time without breathing. I did it for three or four minutes. Still I worship that particular tree. It is still there. So many times I have taken a picture of that tree. So, in my case also, I have had a few significant experiences with trees. Is there anybody who will not have high experiences with trees?
SCA 785. Additional comments were offered on 11 December 1999.↩
Question: Can intense devotion and longing for God go together with an attitude of divine surrender where there is no preconceived idea or preference other than the desire for the fulfilment of God's Will, or are the two approaches mutually exclusive?6Sri Chinmoy: They always have to go together. On one side is our intense desire to become one with God’s Will, to dive into His infinite Consciousness, Light and Bliss. That is our sleepless and breathless longing. Then at the same time, we shall say, “Let Thy Will be done.” When we are longing for God, we say to God, “I feel that this is the best way, but You may feel that it is not best for me. I feel that it is best for me because I am longing for You. I am not asking for anything. I only want to be inseparably one with Your Will throughout Eternity, lovingly, devotedly, self-givingly.” When we make unconditional surrender to God, we say, “Even if You do not give me what I want, I shall not mind in the least. I only came to fulfil You at every moment throughout my life.”
So these two approaches are complementary. Otherwise, someone may say, “Let Thy Will be done,” and that person may be a lazier than the laziest human being. Does “Let Thy Will be done” have any meaning at that time? Again, I may get up early in the morning and pray and meditate. Then I may sing or lift heavy weights or do something else because I feel from within that God wants me to do these things. Afterwards if I say, “Let Thy Will be done,” at that time this prayer has meaning.
Is it a bad thing to pray to God for peace, light and bliss? We are not praying to God to give us ten houses or ten cars or earthly possessions to make us multi-millionaires — no. We are praying to God to make our minds pure. If our mind is pure, then we will be able to receive the world, see the world, feel the world in a divine way. But if we start only by saying, “Let Thy Will be done,” and if in our heart there is no hunger even for a meeting with God, then we are only fooling ourselves. To realise God, we have to pray and meditate and do many things. Without praying and meditating, without identifying ourselves with God’s Will, if we just say, “Let Thy Will be done” — that anybody can do. People who are in the street, people who are absolutely lazybones can have that type of surrender. Good seekers will get up at six o’clock to meditate, while those lazy people will get up at eight or nine o’clock and then say, “Let Thy Will be done.”
Jesus Christ first prayed and meditated, and then he gave the message “Let Thy Will be done.” That was not his first message but his last message. Before that, he prayed, he meditated and he gave people illumination. In our Bhagavad Gita, Krishna told Arjuna, “Fight, fight, fight for the good. That is your dharma. You have to fight.” The last thing he told Arjuna was, “Place everything at My Feet.” He did not say first to place everything at His Feet. First he said, “Fight! It is a righteous cause.” My philosophy is the same as Lord Krishna’s — we have the right to work, but we cannot claim the fruits of our actions. Here work means that we shall pray, we shall meditate, we shall love God, we shall devote ourselves to God, we shall surrender our will to God’s Will. Our inner wisdom tells us that these are very good things.
Then if God does not give us peace, light and bliss, we will say, “Let Thy Will be done. I want You to be my only Captain. I thought that if I prayed to You to give me peace, light and bliss, You would be happy. I have not asked for earthly name and fame or any kind of desire-fulfilment. I am asking You for Your Blessings, for Your Love, for Your Grace, so that I can become inseparably one with Your Will.” If we can have that kind of attitude, will God not be pleased? Will God not bless us?
Real surrender says to God, “If you do not want me to have oneness with Your Will all the time, if you want to make somebody else close to You, then I will not mind. I am doing everything I can to please You, but if You want to give somebody else peace and bliss instead of me, I will be equally happy.” This is called real surrender. Otherwise, we will say, “I prayed and prayed, and now what is this? That person did not pray as much as I did. That person did not surrender to God. That person did not love God. Why is he getting God’s Blessing-Gifts?”
A truly surrendered attitude will say, “I have done my best. Now if You want to give the results, give them to anybody You want to. I have tried so hard to climb up the tree. But if You want to give the fruits to somebody else who has not even climbed the tree, then please pluck the fruit from the highest branch and give it to him. I will not mind.” That is called oneness with God’s Will.
Oneness with God’s Will we already have to a certain extent. That is why we are praying and meditating to identify ourselves with God’s Will, to merge into God’s infinite Consciousness, Love and Joy. That is very good. Now, side by side with this, we have to say, “I am doing it to please You, but if You do not want to please me, no harm. Whomever You want to please, kindly please.”
Now I wish to tell you something amusing. As you know, my eldest brother Hriday was the one who prayed and meditated the most in our family. Once he complained to me jokingly, “I prayed and meditated for hours and hours — for years — even long before you were born. Now what is this? God has given you the realisation. What have I been doing?”
My brother was saying this in a cute family way, but if he had had real surrender, he would have said, “All right. I prayed and meditated. If God wants to give my brother the realisation, I do not mind.”
My other brother Chitta was a poet. He taught me how to write poetry and always encouraged me in my poetry. He could have said, “I taught him how to write poems. Now he has written thousands and thousands of poems. God, what have You done? Why did You not give me the capacity to write thousands and thousands of poems?” Instead, because of his oneness with me and his implicit surrender to God’s Will, he was so proud of his younger brother’s achievements.
So my brothers were showing two different attitudes. The first one said, “Long before he was born, I was praying and meditating. How is it that God is pleased with him and not with me?” The other one could have easily said the same thing: “I taught him to write poems. Now why did he get the capacity to write so many poems and not me?” But instead, he was so proud that he was my teacher. This was his attitude.
Again, on another occasion, my eldest brother Hriday did show his oneness with God’s Will. On one particular day, the man who wrote Tomari hok joy came to our house early in the morning and said, “I never knew that Madal was so great! I am absolutely sure he was Gorakshanath. Last night I saw that in the vital worlds somebody was in serious trouble. Then Madal came and showed his occult power and all the hostile forces disappeared. Definitely he was Gorakshanath.”
At that time my brother Hriday said, “I knew it long ago. I got that message in my meditation long ago.” Can you imagine! My brother never told me; he never told anybody. He knew long before that I was Gorakshanath. This was the same brother who said that I never prayed and meditated. He definitely knew that I had achieved my realisation in a previous life.
To come back to your question, we shall pray to God to give us peace, light, bliss and other divine qualities. Then we shall say, “If You do not want to give me these things, if You have something else in mind, I am ready to abide by Your Will.” But if we only say, “Let Thy Will be done,” and at the same time there is nothing divine, nothing spiritual, nothing illumining, nothing fulfilling growing inside us, then it will be useless.
God inspires us from deep within to sow the seed. Then it is up to God whether that seed will grow into a plant or eventually into a huge banyan tree. Our job is only to sow the seed. We will pray, “O my Beloved Lord Supreme, do give me the readiness, give me the willingness, give me the eagerness, give me the sleepless hunger to feel You inside my heart, inside my life, inside my breath.” This is absolutely necessary. Then immediately we will say, “I am praying for these things, but if You do not want to give them, no harm.” The whole day we will pray for these things. Then when evening sets in, we will say, “The day is over. Now let Your Will be done. If You have not granted my prayer, I am not at all sad — no, no, no! Since that is Your Will, I do not have to worry.”
The Bhagavad Gita tells us that if we do not pray to God for good things, then we will be very idle. We will only lie down and say, “God, let Thy Will be done.” Will God listen to us at that time? Then again, if you can pray to God not for yourself, but for your Guru’s manifestation, that is excellent. The only problem is that afterwards there can be a kind of frustration. You may say, “Oh God, I am such a fool! I cared for him, only for him, and now I have not got even an iota of peace, light or bliss. I should also have prayed at least for a little peace of mind.”
If we want to have good things, there is no harm in praying for them. Then again there are twenty-four hours at our disposal each day. You can also pray for the manifestation of God’s Light. After that you can pray for the capacity to surrender to God’s Will. All these things you need. When you go to school, you study seven or eight subjects — history, geography, science — there is no end to the number of subjects. In the inner school can you not do the same? If you study three or four subjects together, then they become complementary. While you are studying one subject, the other subjects can come to help you.
When we ask for good things, there is no time limit. We can go on praying for them throughout Eternity. When we ask for bad things, oh God, tomorrow we will say to God, “Take them away! No more, no more, absolutely!” Today if I smoke, tomorrow I will pray, “O God, no more, enough, enough!” Tomorrow I will not want to smoke any more. But today if I am able to drink even a small quantity of Nectar, tomorrow I will pray, “O God, let me have more, let me have more.”
God will never tell me that I am greedy if I ask Him for peace, bliss or anything divine. He will say, “That is what I want. My child, I have infinite Peace, infinite Light, infinite Bliss. Take it, take it, take it.” But when I ask for material things — name, fame, possessions, this and that — God gives a little and then He says to me, “Please do not ask Me for this any more.” Unfortunately, many of us do not have the ear or the heart to listen to God. Shamelessly, tomorrow again we ask Him for more.
So you can pray for peace, light, bliss and other things, and then you can pray, “Let Thy Will be done.” Again, you can start with the daily prayers that I have given you — I must conquer my doubt, jealousy, insecurity and so on. Then gradually, gradually, in the same way that when you study for a Master’s degree you limit your studies to only one or two subjects, you can decrease the number of your prayers. You can start by praying to conquer impurity, jealousy, insecurity, despair and even your sense of helplessness. All these subjects you are studying. Then gradually, gradually you will be able to give up those studies because you have completed them. Then you will come down to two or three subjects.
After you have completed all the prayers, after you have prayed to God for oneness with Him throughout Eternity, then your last prayer will be, “Let Thy Will be done. I have prayed for all the good things that I know of. Now it is up to You. All the things that I have asked for are good for me. If I have purity, then I will be able to help the whole world. I will be able to see the world and all human beings in a new light. If I conquer insecurity, then I will be able to establish my oneness with the whole world. If You give me all the things that I have asked for, then I will be able to use them for a divine purpose. I will be able to manifest You in a divine way. But then again, if You do not want me to manifest You, if You do not want to give me these things, it is up to You. I came into the world only to please You in Your own Way.” That should be our attitude.
SCA 786. Sri Chinmoy answered this question on 19 February 2000 in New York.↩
Question: When something painful happens in my life, it affects my heart or, let us say, it breaks my heart. Then it is very, very hard for me to forget about it. I can actually forgive certain things pretty easily, but to forget about it is almost impossible for me.7Sri Chinmoy: Yes, it is true that to forgive someone is easier than to forget the experience. But we can take it as a challenge. To forgive is the first challenge. Suppose someone has done something very bad. I have taken up the challenge to forgive him, and I have succeeded. Then I have to accept another challenge — that I will forget what he has done.
It is like hurdles. The first challenge, let us say, is like a hill or a mountain which is not as high as the Himalayas. You have climbed up that mountain by forgiving the person. Then you are finding it difficult to forget the painful experience. You have to take it as another mountain which is higher. Even though it is higher, you cannot say that mountain is not climbable. You are saying that when somebody does an injustice to you, you forgive them. Many, many people cannot forgive. You should be proud of yourself that you have forgiven the person. The next challenge is to forget the incident. You have to take it as another mountain much higher than the previous one.
The key is love. You do not have to love the person. You have to love God infinitely more. Suppose somebody is your friend. He has done something bad, and you have forgiven him. You feel that is enough. Why should you go one step further and forget the experience? But the memory of that particular experience is killing you. From time to time it comes into your mind, and you think, “How can he be so bad? I have been so nice to him.” At that time you have to forget about the person and only think of the Supreme. You have to ask yourself inwardly, “Does the Supreme want me to hold onto this experience, or does He want me to forget about the experience the way I have forgiven the person?” Then your Inner Pilot, the Supreme, will say, “This experience is causing suffering for you. From time to time it comes into your mind, and it destroys all your joy. Therefore I want you to forget it completely.”
Then the best thing is to follow the Supreme’s Way. He has inwardly inspired you to forgive the person, and you have forgiven him. If He says you must forget the experience, then you have to do it. Just because you love God and God always tells us, “Forgive, forgive, forgive,” you have done the first part. The second part is to say, “Since I am suffering whenever I think of that experience, the best thing is to forget.” You have to prove your love of God by forgetting. The more you can love God, the easier it becomes to forget the experience. In your case, your love of God has already come forward to a certain extent because you are ready to forgive the person. If you increase your own love for God, God will give you the capacity to forget the experience. It entirely depends on love.
Another way to tackle this question is by having sympathetic oneness, by saying, “If I had been in his place, perhaps I would have behaved worse. Poor fellow, on that day perhaps somebody insulted him or scolded him. Perhaps he was fired or something else of that nature took place.” When people misbehave towards us, we have no idea what went through their mind or what happened in their life on that particular day. We judge a person by seeing his normal activities. For years and years we have observed someone. We have formed an opinion that he is a good person. All of a sudden why is he behaving so badly? Perhaps on that day something happened to destroy all his peace and joy. Perhaps he had become a victim to miseries, so he was emptying his miseries onto you. By nature that person is good, but on that day perhaps he became subject to some worries, anxieties or criticism. If we have sympathetic oneness, then we will know something has gone wrong in his life. Otherwise, he would not have misbehaved so badly. Then if we have more sympathetic oneness, we will say, “Perhaps I would have done worse. I also could have said unkind things to somebody who desperately needed to hear something nice from me.”
When we establish sympathetic oneness, we see very few mistakes in the world. Always we see faults because we feel that we are perfect, while others are imperfect. But if we establish our oneness with others, we may see that we have more weaknesses than they have because we have one extra weakness: we criticise them, while at the same time we are telling the world that we have established sympathy.
As I said before, take it as two mountains. Our peace mountain in the Himalayas is the third highest in the range. Imagine this is the first mountain that you have to climb up, and you have done it. Then feel that there is another one that you have to climb up. Every day, every hour, every minute we have to challenge ourselves for our own self-transcendence. Only self-transcendence gives us joy — nothing else. If we enter into competition, we will never get joy. Only our own progress gives us joy. In your case, you are able to forgive the person. Now you have to transcend yourself by forgetting the experience that he has given you.
Always challenge yourself. Do not challenge the person who has done something wrong. Do not think, “I can beat him up or I can show him tit for tat, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” Out of His infinite Bounty, God has given you the capacity to forgive. You have done it. Now the same God is more than willing to give you the capacity to obliterate the experience totally from your heart or from your mind. You have to accept the challenge to do it.
Otherwise, if you challenge that person, you will take a tit-for-tat attitude: “He has done something wrong. In which way am I weaker than he is? If he has punched me, I can give him a heavier punch.” But you have to take the opposite approach by saying, “He has done something wrong. Equally strong is my forgiveness-power.” It is stronger to forgive. Then something else comes into the picture which is infinitely more difficult: to forget the painful experience.
Nothing on earth is impossible if we persist. If we persist in our endeavour, if we continue, continue, continue, nothing is impossible in God’s creation. If the world has given me suffering, then God also is there to remove the suffering from me. There is always an antidote. If somebody strikes me, if somebody hates me, then immediately there will be somebody else to love me. If somebody hates me, then I will come out of the house and immediately I will see that somebody is loving me, smiling at me, showing me such kindness.
Always there will be a positive and negative side. But we have to be wise. We have to pray and meditate, and love God and serve God. Then He will always give us the strength to accept the challenges of life and to overcome the challenges. Otherwise, if you want to avoid them, like a thief you will run away from them, thinking, “If I go there, then perhaps I will not have this painful experience.” No, no matter where we go, sadness-experience and failure-experience will always follow us.
The first step you have taken. The second step is more difficult than the first step, but we cannot say that nobody can take it. No, many, many, many people have taken it, and many will take it. Again, many will not be able to take it. It depends on the inner strength of each individual. The first step you have taken successfully. The second step is more difficult, but I assure you, that also you will be able to take.
SCA 787. Sri Chinmoy answered this question on 27 February 2000 in New York.↩