Sri Chinmoy answers, part 29
Part ISCA 962-978. Excerpts from an interview with Nils Lodin of Spring-Time, a Swedish running magazine, which took place at the United Nations on 26 October 1982, two days after both Mr. Lodin and Sri Chinmoy had run the New York City Marathon.
Sri Chinmoy: Congratulations on your marathon! You did so well! Was it your best time?Nils Lodin: Yes, it was my best time by about 55 seconds, but I feel that I could have done better.
Sri Chinmoy: It is always best to think that way. Then you can have hope and determination to do better in the future.
Nils Lodin: I always try. Do I understand correctly that activity and meditation form the essence of your teaching?Sri Chinmoy: Our philosophy does not negate either the outer life or the inner life. Most human beings negate the inner life. They feel that the inner life is not important as long as they can exist on earth. Again, there are a few who think that the outer life is not necessary. They feel that the best thing is to enter into the Himalayan caves and lead a life of solitude, since the outer life is so painful and full of misunderstanding.
We do not believe in living either a life of solitude or an ordinary human life, the so-called modern life that depends on machines and not on the inner reality, the soul. We would like to synthesise and harmonise the outer life and the inner life. The outer life is like a beautiful flower, and the inner life is its fragrance. If there is no fragrance, then we cannot appreciate the flower. Again, if there is no flower, how can there be any fragrance?
Nils Lodin: I have read that you write hundreds of poems every day. Is that true?Sri Chinmoy: Whenever I get inspiration, I do it; not every day. At one sitting, if I want to write non-stop, I may write hundreds of poems, but this is not a daily affair.
Nils Lodin: You seem to try to accomplish as much as possible every day. Are your outer achievements related to your inner beliefs?Sri Chinmoy: I feel that quality and quantity can go together. People often think that if you care for quantity, then you have to sacrifice quality. I feel this need not be true if there is inner guidance. If we can have a free access to our Inner Pilot, who inundates us with inspiration, then quality need not be sacrificed for the sake of quantity. If we know how to pray and meditate to gain a free access to the world of inspiration, if we have an inner communication with our Pilot Supreme, then quality and quantity can go together. I have composed thousands of songs and poems and painted thousands of paintings. For all my achievements I entirely depend on the Grace of the Supreme. His Grace gives me inspiration and guides me in everything I do — whether I am writing a poem, composing a song, painting a painting, running a marathon or giving a lecture. Everything I do depends on the inner guidance, and this inner guidance is nothing other than Compassion and Grace from Above.
Nils Lodin: How does running relate to your philosophy?Sri Chinmoy: The body is like a temple, and the soul or inner reality is like the shrine inside the body-temple. If the temple does not have a shrine, then we cannot appreciate the temple. Again, if we do not keep the temple in good condition, then how can we take proper care of the shrine? We have to keep the body fit, and for this, running is of considerable help. If we are physically fit, then we will be more inspired to get up early in the morning to meditate. True, the inspiration to meditate comes from within, but if we do not have a stomach upset or headache or any other physical ailment, then it will be much easier for us to get up to pray and meditate. In this way the inner life is being helped by the outer life. Again, if I am inspired to get up early to meditate, then I will also be able to go out and run. Here we see that the outer life is being helped by the inner life.
Both the outer running and the inner running are important. A marathon is twenty-six miles. Let us say that twenty-six miles is our ultimate goal. When we first take up running, we cannot run that distance. But by practising every day, we develop more stamina, speed, perseverance and so forth. Gradually we transcend our capacity and eventually we reach our goal.
We can say that our prayer and meditation is our inner running. If we pray and meditate every day, we increase our inner capacity. The body's capacity and the soul's capacity, the body's speed and the soul's speed, go together. The soul is running along Eternity's Road. The outer running reminds us of our inner running. In this way our body reminds us of something higher and deeper — the soul — which is dealing with Eternity, Infinity and Immortality. Running and physical fitness help us both in our inner life of aspiration and in our outer life of activity.
Nils Lodin: Running has no value in itself?Sri Chinmoy: Running helps us considerably. Running is continuous motion. Because of our running, we feel that there is a goal — not only an outer goal but also an inner goal. Running helps us by showing us that there is a goal. Again, running itself is a goal for those who want to keep the body in perfect condition.
Running offers us the message of transcendence. In our running, every day we are aiming at a new goal. It is like a child who studies in school. First he studies in kindergarten, then he goes to primary school, then to high school, college and university. After getting his university degree, still he is not satisfied. He wants to achieve more wisdom, more knowledge. Similarly, every day we are running towards a goal, but when we reach that goal, we want to go still farther. Either we want to improve our timing or increase our distance. There is no end. Running means continual transcendence, and that is also the message of our inner life.
Nils Lodin: I understand that you sleep very little. Why do you not sleep more?Sri Chinmoy: It is not necessary. If there is something which you do not need, then you feel that it is a waste of time, so why do it? If you need something, then you will try to derive benefit from that thing. But if you do not need it, then what is the use of having it?
Nils Lodin: Then, may I ask you, why do you not need it? Other people need to sleep seven or eight hours.Sri Chinmoy: This started many years ago, when I used to meditate eight, nine, ten hours a day. When I was in India, I used to go to bed at eleven or twelve o'clock and get up at two o'clock in the morning. Then I used to meditate for hours and hours. Now my meditation is continuous.
Nils Lodin: Do you think that meditation is a kind of sleep?Sri Chinmoy: No. Meditation brings down peace. This peace energises the entire body. When your whole body is surcharged with peace, you do not need so many hours of rest. Sometimes two hours of rest will give you ample energy. Again, sometimes you may be in bed for hours and hours and not get any real rest.
Nils Lodin: You are a Guru, but what is a Guru?Sri Chinmoy: 'Guru' is a Sanskrit word. It means 'he who illumines others'. The Guru brings light. Light itself is the real Guru. In my case, I always say that I am a server. I am a child of God, and you are also a child of God. We are members of the same family. The one who came first into the family perhaps knows more than the ones who came after him. In terms of spirituality, I know a little more than my students. Being the elder brother, I know more about our Heavenly Father, God. I teach them how to pray and meditate so that they can also have a free access to our Heavenly Father, their Inner Pilot.
Nils Lodin: Are you quite sure that your advice is always right?Sri Chinmoy: My advice is not coming from me as an individual. I have no personal motive. I do not want to gain anything from my students. I am like a bridge between this shore and the other shore. Or you can say that I am the messenger boy. I carry the heavy load of suffering from this shore, and I bring back the Smile from the other shore. I am one with the suffering of my students and with the suffering of humanity at large. I go upward with that suffering and then, when I come down again, I bring the Smile from Above. When I am on this shore, I take the cries from my students, from my friends and dear ones, from humanity. Then, when I pray and meditate, I go to the other shore, where I get the Smile and bring it down to those who are suffering. The best way to describe what I do is to call me the messenger boy, carrying messages to and fro.
Nils Lodin: When you tell your students that they should act like this or like that, have you got the message from the other shore?Sri Chinmoy: Yes. Then it is up to my students whether they execute the message or not. If they do not execute it, then they suffer and I also suffer along with them. I will not be able to ignore their suffering and just tell them that they are suffering because they did not listen to me. No, on the strength of my oneness with them, I will also suffer. Parents tell their children to do the right thing. But at times the children do not listen. Then the parents suffer as much as the children. If the children do not listen to their parents and they suffer, will the parents not feel miserable if they are real parents? They may say, "You did not listen to us. That is why you are suffering." But they cannot say, "We will have nothing to do with your suffering." They have to bear the same suffering as their children.
Nils Lodin: When you are running a marathon, are you suffering?Sri Chinmoy: It is a kind of experience that I am having!
Nils Lodin: It is a tough experience.
Sri Chinmoy: Yes, it is not a pleasant experience.
[Nils Lodin laughs.]
Sri Chinmoy: I get two kinds of experiences. On the physical, vital and mental planes, I get the experience which you can call suffering. It is an unpleasant feeling. From the beginning to the end, the body is being tortured. Again, there is also the inner experience. I feel that the outer experience which I am going through is something that my Inner Pilot wants me to do, and I surrender the results. I know it will take me more than four and a half hours. But if I can offer the results to Him, then I am getting a divine experience, the experience of surrender. One experience I am getting on the physical, vital and mental planes, and another experience I am getting on the psychic plane. Whatever I achieve, cheerfully I will give to Him; this is my inner experience. The outer experience that I am getting is torture, right from the beginning to the end, but that also I am offering to Him. Both the inner and the outer experiences I am offering to God, my Inner Pilot.
Nils Lodin: But I think that you benefit, not only as a Guru, but as a person. I always say to my friends that you do not know anything about life until you have run a full marathon. It gives a dimension to life that I have never encountered before. The pain in those last six or eight miles is a pain that you cannot meet in other situations.Sri Chinmoy: Right! We get a very unusual experience. We expect at every moment that the members of our inner family — the body, vital, mind and heart — will come to our rescue. I as an individual will think that since I have a body, a vital, a mind and a heart, naturally, now that I am in need of their help, these members of my family will come to my rescue. But after a few miles, they all revolt. They all say, "Give up! Get off the course!" We beg the body to carry us to the finish line, but the body is not listening. The vital also is not listening and the mind is constantly rejecting the idea. Determination we lose. So you are absolutely right. When one runs a marathon or any long distance, one knows what life is — a struggle from the beginning to the end. A marathon gives us a prime example of the struggle of human life.
Nils Lodin: When you say that you get messages from the other shore or the other side, what do you in fact mean? Do you get them from God? What is on the other side?Sri Chinmoy: Here on this side is darkness, confusion, suffering, pain, misunderstanding, negativity and uncertainty, to say the least. On the other side is peace, light, understanding, delight and oneness with God the Creator and God the creation. When one reaches the Highest, one can at once become one with God the Creator and God the creation. I am part of God's creation, you are part of God's creation, everyone is part of God's creation.
Nils Lodin: But can I not reach that experience without any God?Sri Chinmoy: If you have faith in the creation, then will you not look for the Creator? If you see that a wristwatch is giving the time correctly, then you can be satisfied with the wristwatch and go no further. But if you want to understand how the wristwatch operates, then will you not go to the watchmaker? Similarly, there are millions and billions of people on earth who are satisfied with the world as such. But again, there are some people who are not satisfied. Those who are not satisfied want to dive deep within and find the source or the cause of the suffering in this world. When they go to the Source, they see that it is all light and delight.
It depends on you. You can be satisfied with what you get. Then again, you can say, "Who is giving it to me?" Suppose Sunday was your best marathon and it gave you joy. You can say, "Now, who has given me this joy? Who has given me the capacity to run?" If you say that your own body, vital, mind and heart have given you the capacity, then who has given them the capacity? Somebody else has done it. Once we look for that somebody else, we see that He is none other than our own highest reality. A deer runs here and there searching for the source of the musk that it smells. But the musk is inside the deer itself. Now we are looking for someone. We feel that it is a third person. But when we see that person, we realise that it is only our selfsame reality in its highest form.
Nils Lodin: I agree with you, but in another way, because I think that we are part of the world. I can reach the highest point only by fulfilling myself, and that is not to be an egomaniac, but to do things that I feel are right, that are real. But all the same, I feel that in a way we are just lumps of clay.Sri Chinmoy: Yes, we are lumps of clay. But who has given the form to this clay? When we see a vessel, we know that somebody has made it. It did not just come out of the blue. We have to go to the Source. The earthen pot is not the ultimate reality. Somebody has shaped it. That somebody is the one we are searching for. We can call it the Ultimate Reality, we can call it God, or we can call it by any other name. But we have to give credit to someone. When we go to that somebody, after a long search, we see that the one we sought was our own highest Self. The highest in us was being sought by the lowest. We just climb up from the foot of the tree to the highest branch. When we climb up to the top, we start eating the fruits. Once we know how to climb up, it is up to us to remain either at the foot of the tree or at the top of the tree.
God created us. God gave us the motivation to run. It is an inner urge. It is not that we just come out of our house and run aimlessly. Something within us, an inner urge, inspires us to go outside and run. Who gave us that inner urge? Again, we have to go to the Source. The questions never end until we dive deep within. Then all questions are answered. But it does not happen overnight. As you know, you had to practise for months or years to complete the marathon. Similarly, we have to pray and meditate for years if we want to cover long inner distances. It is a lifelong process.
Part IISCA 979-987. Excerpts from an interview with sports writer John Hanc of New York Newsday, which took place in New York on 19 November 1989.
John Hanc: How does running fit in with your teaching?Sri Chinmoy: It perfectly fits in with our philosophy. Prayer and meditation always remind us of our inner running. The only difference between the outer running and the inner running is that in the inner running there is no set goal or destination. In the outer running, as soon as I have finished one hundred metres, let us say, the race is over. I may not win, but I have reached my goal. But in the inner running, we are Eternity's runner. Because we pray and meditate, we know that we have three friends: Eternity, Infinity and Immortality. Because we belong to Eternity, Infinity and Immortality, our journey is birthless and deathless; it has no beginning and no end. We have already started our journey and we are never going to end it. Along the way we may have certain temporary goals. But as soon as we reach these goals, they only become the starting point for new and higher goals.
Before we enter into the spiritual life, we want to possess the world. Our goal, let us say, is to become richer than the richest and to lord it over others like a Napoleon or Julius Caesar. Then gradually we come to realise that there is no satisfaction in this kind of life. We begin to reduce our material greed and diminish our desires. At the same time, we start trying to increase our positive qualities.
Take love, for example. As a child we start out by loving only our dear ones — the members of our immediate family. Then, after some time, we begin to claim the village where we were born as our own. Then we begin loving our district, our province, our country. But even this is not enough. At the United Nations all the nations are trying to become one. So we try to become citizens of the world and love the entire world. Like Socrates, we say, "I am not an Athenian; I am a universal man." So you see how much progress we can make in a positive way. This is our philosophy: anything that is bad — fear, doubt, anxiety, worry, suspicion and so on — we shall decrease, and anything that is good we shall increase. On the positive side, we shall start with an iota of love and expand it until it becomes universal love. There is no end to the amount of love we can have; we can keep expanding it until it encompasses not only God the creation but also God the Creator, who is infinite. When we run in the inner world, we are running along the Road of Eternity, and we just continue, continue, continue.
The inner runner and the outer runner are like two brothers. The older, stronger brother can run a very long distance. But the younger one becomes tired after a certain distance because in the physical we are limited. Not only in the physical, but also in the mind and the vital we are limited. So after some time the outer brother takes rest and then he starts again — following the inner brother who is going on and on.
But even on the outer plane our capacity is constantly expanding. Right now 1,300 miles is our longest race. To run 1,300 miles in 18 days is almost beyond our imagination. We feel that is our ultimate capacity. But previously we felt that 1,000 miles was the limit. Who thought of a 1,300-mile race five years ago? At that time people would have thought I was a crazy man if I had suggested that. But now you see that this crazy man was right because people are doing it. Somebody just has to start. We always have to go ahead because life means progress.
The inner runner is always trying to inspire the outer runner. First the inner runner says, "Go forward, go forward, go ahead, go ahead!" Then the outer runner says, "How can I go ahead if you do not give me the aspiration and inner cry?" Then the inner runner gives the outer runner the inner cry to do something and to become something good. In this way the inner runner offers inspiration and aspiration to the outer runner.
John Hanc: While running, is it also a time to meditate?Sri Chinmoy: For others I cannot speak, but in my case when I am jogging or walking, I am in a very high consciousness. At that time the world of thought ceases and I am in another world — not the thought-world but the world of self-giving and serving. While running, a runner is all joy unless he is suffering from muscle cramps or some other ailment or he is killing himself trying to become first. But in the New York Marathon, for example, thousands and thousands of people are running just for the joy of it. Even if they take five hours, no harm, so long as they finish. They say, "Every runner is a winner," and it is so true. This is also our philosophy.
John Hanc: You mentioned that when you first came up with the idea of 1,300 miles, people said, "What kind of an idea is that?" What are you thinking about now? Have you got any other ideas?Sri Chinmoy: I have other ideas. The only question is whether they can be fully manifested. I am not going to stop at 1,300. But before we go beyond that, the runners must acquire the inner confidence that they can do it. It is just like the idea of the marathon. In the beginning, just a handful of people ran the New York Marathon. At that time people did not have the confidence. Now twenty or thirty thousand people are running it.
John Hanc: Does it give you joy to see the increasing number of runners who come to your races here?Sri Chinmoy: It gives me joy not only when they come to our races but when they come to anybody's races. Everywhere in the world if people can run, it will help them. One of our absolutely worst enemies is our lethargy. Early in the morning we do not want to get up. Then during the day we are not energetic; we are not inspired to do anything. But in the morning if we can energise ourselves with physical activities, then we can accomplish so many things during the rest of the day. That is why I say sports and physical fitness are of supreme importance. If we neglect the physical and let the body become weak, then the mind also becomes weak. At that time it does not have the strength to think of good things all the time and it starts to think of undivine things.
John Hanc: As a long-time athlete and observer of the sport of running, do you have any feelings about where the sport itself is going?Sri Chinmoy: I am extremely happy that they are going out of their way to make sure the athletes do not take drugs. It is a great, great achievement. It is not only a physical or mental achievement; it is not only an achievement in the athletic world. It represents also a great advance for the spiritual life. People who take drugs are destroying their nerves and their health. God created us, so why are we destroying ourselves? We are like a flower in God's Heart-Garden. When we plant a seed, we watch it grow into a beautiful flower. The flower is our creation, and we get so much joy and delight from its beauty and fragrance. But if somebody grabs the flower and tears it to pieces, we will be very sad. Similarly, God is our Creator and He wants us to keep our body strong, our vital dynamic and our mind happy and peaceful.
Somebody may say, "No, it is my body, and I can do whatever I like with it. It is none of your business or anybody else's business what I do with my body." But that is not right. In a family, if right in front of you a brother or sister is taking drugs or becoming alcoholic, is it not your bounden duty to beg them to stop? They may say, "Mind your own business," but you will continue trying to persuade them to stop because you love them. Similarly, every human being is a member of our world-family. Because we claim others as part and parcel of our family, we will keep on trying to get them to do the right thing. If they do not listen, what can we do? But we will keep on trying.
John Hanc: I have seen you sitting and watching many of the Sri Chinmoy races — both "Runners Are Smilers" and the ultras. Many of the people running are not followers of yours, but they all seem to be having a good time.Sri Chinmoy: I am very happy with the way my spiritual students have created such a good atmosphere for these people and are inspiring them in the running world. As I said, the world is all one family. We are inviting our brothers and sisters to come to our races, and it gives us joy when they participate. Our 1,300-mile race is like a Thanksgiving Day celebration. Once a year the family comes together for Thanksgiving, and it gives us all such joy to see one another again.
John Hanc: On the ultra-distance side, you and the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team have been leaders in expanding the limits of what people can run. Do you think there will be any limit to the distance people can run? Ten years from now will we be talking about a 2,000-mile or a 5,000-mile run?Sri Chinmoy: No, there is no limit to the distance because there is no limit to human capacity. Human capacity depends on our inner hunger — how sincerely we need something or are crying for something. In the material world, if someone has tremendous greed and wants to become a multi-millionaire, he works very hard and eventually he fulfils his desire. But by possessing the material world, we can never be happy. We can only find joy by serving as an instrument of God and fulfilling His Will. If God wants us to be a sprinter or an ultramarathon runner and if we follow His Dictates, then naturally we will become very happy. It will not matter if we stand first or last. Success or failure we shall place at His Feet. What matters is that we are pleasing God in His own Way. How do we know what God wants us to do? By praying and meditating.
If it is God's Will for us to do something, there is absolutely no limit to human capacity. One of my students from Washington, DC is thinner than the thinnest. If you see her, it will be beyond your imagination that she can run 1,000 miles. But she does it. Because of her aspiration and heart's cry, God is supplying her with Grace from Above in the form of inner energy and strength.
In my case, I have lifted heavy weights. In a year's time I have also lifted 1,300 people using only one arm. Many of them were heavier than I am. I have even lifted two people at once, although I am fifty-four years old and my muscles are smaller than the smallest. How is it possible? I have a mind, and I am the first person to disbelieve it. But through God's Grace, it is possible.
John Hanc: You lifted me, so I know it is true. Did you ever run ultra-distance?Sri Chinmoy: My longest distance was 47 miles. I did it twice. Now I no longer do it, but every year about three hundred disciples of mine from all over the world come here on my birthday and run 47 miles. Being the spiritual father of the family, it gives me tremendous joy when I see my spiritual children run 47 miles. The number 47 is very important to me because in 1947 India got its independence. With this run we are celebrating our inner freedom.
John Hanc: One last question — when talking to some of the runners at your Thanksgiving Day Half-Marathon, I found that many of them have been coming to your races for a long time and enjoy running here although they are not your spiritual students. Some of them have never even met you, but they were saying how well organised your races are and how nice the people are. The thing that some of them find surprising is that nobody tries to recruit them to become a follower of yours.Sri Chinmoy: We are not proselytising or propagating our spiritual views. Ours is not a religion — far from it. Ours is only a way of life. We have an inner school and from this inner school we are trying to offer some blessings to the people who believe in the inner life. But we are not asking any runner to follow our path. We are only trying to provide opportunities for them to bring to the fore their own good qualities.
Part IIISCA 988-999. Sri Chinmoy answered these questions on 23 December 1990 in Hawaii.
Question: Can the old scriptures still help us?Sri Chinmoy: Yes, the old scriptures can still help us, although not all the messages of the old scriptures will be helpful. The world is progressing fast, very fast. Sometimes the old rules and old visions may not or cannot be manifested on earth any more. Again, some old scriptures shed universal light and eternal truth. Some messages of the old scriptures are eternal, while others are not. Some messages were meant only for that age. Those messages cannot and should not be applied now. But those messages which are eternal do help us.
Question: What makes a perfect worker?Sri Chinmoy: In the spiritual life, a worker means a server. What makes a perfect server? A sleepless inner cry to become an unconditional self-giver. Everything that you do, you have to do with a sense of unconditional surrender to God's Will.
Question: What is God's relaxation?Sri Chinmoy: God gets tremendous relaxation when he hears one individual sincerely speaking highly of another individual. Very often we speak highly of others to God with the hope that God will tell us, "No, no. Your qualities are far better; they are much more significant." We try to make God feel that we are insignificant so that we can get consolation, appreciation and compassion from God.
God already knows everything, but if He hears that we are sincerely appreciating, admiring and adoring someone else who has really done something great and good for God, then God is extremely happy. If we can offer this piece of good news to God without thinking in a very clever way about getting some appreciation from God, then that is God's relaxation.
Question: How can I please the United Nations soul?Sri Chinmoy: You can please the United Nations soul by imagining that right in front of you is a huge tree. Imagine that you are looking at all the branches, leaves, flowers and fruits. Cast a glance at each part of the tree and feel that everything that the tree has is for humanity's success and humanity's progress. A tree is constantly offering itself for the betterment of mankind. If you can think of the United Nations as a tree and if you can devotedly observe all the good qualities of the tree, you will be able to increase the good qualities of the United Nations plus your own good qualities. This is how you can please the United Nations soul. If someone appreciates their children, parents become very happy. In exactly the same way, if you can appreciate the life-tree of the United Nations, then you are pleasing the inner resident, the soul of the United Nations.
Question: How can disciples make correct decisions?Sri Chinmoy: If you want to make the correct decision, you have to meditate most soulfully for at least ten minutes. During this time, you must not have any thought — good or bad. The mind has to be completely empty. After meditating for about ten minutes, you will bring tremendous will-power from the third eye and focus it on the heart. Then you will try to uncover your heart chakra. If you feel that there is something covering the heart chakra like a lid, you will just uncover it. Once you uncover the heart chakra, you will receive a whisper. That whisper will come either in the form of light or in your own language. It will not form a sentence — only one word. The light will be connected with your vision-eye, and the connection will be there inside the heart. There we do not form sentences. But from that one syllable or one word you will be able to correctly get the message and that will be your final and infallible decision. Absolutely do not allow your mind to tell you what to do or what not to do. You have to use only the light that is connected with your vision-eye, which you will experience inside your heart centre.
Question: For a disciple of yours, is two hours of meditation per day too much?Sri Chinmoy: Your Guru used to meditate for a minimum of eight or nine hours a day, sometimes even eleven or twelve hours. Either seated on my bed from two o'clock in the morning under the mosquito net or on the roof or while cycling I used to meditate. So I feel that two hours is not too much for any disciple unless that disciple has joined the path only a few months ago. If you have been on the path for seven years or more, two hours is not too much. On the contrary, two hours is too little! But because of the hustle and bustle of life in the West, you may not get two hours at a time. In that case you can meditate for half an hour four times during the day or you can meditate two times a day for one hour. I feel that it is not too much. But this meditation has to be real meditation. While meditating if you are allowing the whole world to enter into you, or if you are entering into the whole world, then this is no meditation.
Again, there are two ways of approaching meditation. One way is to feel that if we can meditate for five minutes most soulfully, then it is infinitely better than meditating for five hours and allowing the whole world to enter into us. But some people cannot meditate for five minutes with utmost intensity. In that case, what will they do? They will act like fishermen who spend quite a few hours with the hope that they may catch some fish. If powerful meditation is not at your command, then spend half an hour in order to meditate five or seven minutes properly. During that half hour, God will definitely bless you. Thoughts will be coming, this and that. Then all of a sudden, you will be very strict with yourself. You will say, "Now I do not want those thoughts," and then you will easily be able to meditate for five minutes. But if you know that at any time you can meditate and reach your highest, then do it, for five minutes or ten minutes or however long you wish.
Question: When is laughter spiritual?Sri Chinmoy: If you are laughing at yourself for the stupidity that you have shown in the past, then definitely it is spiritual. If you are responsible for your own stupidity and if you very powerfully laugh at yourself and say, "I am not going to make that mistake any more!" then it can help you in your spiritual life. Otherwise, when you laugh at others and say that it is innocent, you only hurt others and yourself.
By laughing at others' stupidity to your heart's content, you may or may not get rid of your own mental headache, but you are definitely hurting others. Even when you say it is innocent laughter, others do feel it — some part of their being is hurt. You may feel that it is insignificant, that you are enjoying harmless laughter, but the other person does get hurt.
If you wish to take laughter as spiritual, then apply it to yourself and your own stupidity: "How could it be possible for me to make such silly mistakes?" If you laugh at your own stupid mistakes so that you do not want to repeat them, then definitely laughter can become part of your spiritual awakening and spiritual fulfilment.
Question: What makes one truly beautiful outwardly?Sri Chinmoy: If you want to see true beauty in your outer life, then it has to come from your pure life. Your purity-heart will be reflected in the beauty of your face, of your eyes and of your entire being. When you can bring to the fore your purity-heart, then you are bound to see real beauty in your face, in your eyes, in your hair, everywhere. Bringing forward a purity-heart is the only way for a seeker to make his or her outer existence beautiful. When purity comes forward, you will see a totally different aura around that person.
A few days ago, I went into a music shop. The man was looking at me and looking at me. Finally he said, "How beautiful you are! I am seeing your aura." In no way was he flattering me so that I would buy his musical instruments. He was seeing one of my auras. With such sincerity he was looking at me and admiring my aura. So here is the proof. The revelation of my purity-heart he saw in my outer face.
Question: Will ignorance ever leave me?Sri Chinmoy: If ignorance does not leave you, then God will be a true failure, and God can never accept failure. Once we accept the spiritual life, it becomes God's problem to make us perfect. True, if we ourselves try to become perfect, it helps God to expedite our progress. Otherwise, once we accept the spiritual life, no matter how slowly we walk, even if we crawl along the path, God will always be there for us.
Ignorance is bound to leave you, to leave me, to leave everybody because God is there for us. The life of ignorance can never be permanent. That is for sure. No matter what kind of disciple we are, God has infinite Patience for us. With His infinite Patience, He will definitely lead us to our destination. But if we co-operate with Him, if we listen to Him devotedly, then our ignorance-life comes to an end much sooner.
Question: Do a soul's qualities remain throughout Eternity?Sri Chinmoy: Yes, a soul's qualities remain throughout Eternity. Again, they increase. Sometimes in one incarnation the good qualities of a particular soul may not be manifested as much as they are in other incarnations. That does not mean that those qualities do not exist. It is just that it is not necessary for them to come forward at that point in the soul's evolution.
Suppose in this incarnation I aspire to be a great violinist. In my next incarnation I may not care for the violin at all. But the excellence that I acquired from studying the violin is still there in my soul, although my soul may not want to manifest that particular quality any more. My soul may want me to be an engineer or to do something else. But the good qualities the soul always keeps.
At the same time, the determination or the discipline that I needed in order to become a great violinist will also remain with me. In this lifetime if I want to enter another field and become a great athlete or something else, then if I can bring forward that discipline once more, it will definitely help.
Any good quality that the soul has acquired over the years through patience, perseverance and discipline, the soul will never lose. But the soul may not want to utilise all the good qualities that it has in a particular incarnation. The soul comes down to manifest particular good qualities in order to expedite God's manifestation on earth. Only the good qualities that are needed in a particular incarnation will be chosen by God to be manifested.
Question: Will you continue lifting people?Sri Chinmoy: To be perfectly sincere, there are only two or three more individuals whom I want to lift. I am only waiting for those two or three individuals. I am not going to lift one hundred, two hundred or three hundred more people — far from it. But inwardly, definitely, definitely, as long as I live, until I breathe my last, even in the soul's world, I will continue to lift human beings. That I will never stop. As long as God keeps my connection with Him intact, no matter where I am — in Heaven or somewhere else — I will definitely lift up the consciousness of humanity.
Question: Has Hawaii become inwardly American?Sri Chinmoy: The inner beauty of Hawaii has not surrendered to the outer opulence and outer grandeur of America. Outwardly Hawaii is a state. Therefore all the good qualities and bad qualities of the other states have entered into Hawaii. At the same time, Hawaii's own good qualities are drawing tourists from all over the world. But there is a very subtle, delicate, inspiring and aspiring beauty which Hawaii has. This divine beauty Hawaii has not surrendered to America or any other state. As soon as you enter into the soul of Hawaii, you see that this pristine beauty, serenity and many other divine qualities are untouched. They have not been destroyed by the rest of America or by any other part of the world.
Part IVSCA 1000-1002. Excerpts from an interview by Helena Keith of Radio RRI in Bali, Indonesia, which took place on 1 January 1991.
Question: Are you a Hindu?Sri Chinmoy: I happened to take birth in a Hindu family, but because I am a truth-seeker and a God-lover, I feel that there is only one religion and that religion is love of God. If we truly love God, we embrace all religions as our own, very own.
Question: Could you say something about the New Year?Sri Chinmoy: This new year, according to my inner feeling, is a very, very critical year. Many unfortunate and sad things may take place in this year. But we can pray most devotedly to God to save us from this most deplorable situation, and God may fulfil our prayers.
Question: What should be our prayer?Sri Chinmoy: Our prayer should be very simple, soulful and self-giving. For all the citizens of the world, for all my brothers and sisters of the world, I wish to offer this simple prayer:
"O Lord Supreme,
May we say the right thing,
May we do the right thing,
And may we become the right person."
The right thing to say: "We love You, God."
The right thing to do: serve God.
The right thing to become: God's perfect children, who do not quarrel, who do not hate anybody and who do not wage war.
We want to love God in our inner life of prayer. We want to serve God in our outer life of action. We want to please God and we want to be true members of His universal family.
This is the prayer that I am offering to the Lord Supreme on behalf of all truth-seekers and God-lovers in the world and also on behalf of the beautiful, powerful, illumining and fulfilling soul of Bali.
Part VSCA 1003-1011. Sri Chinmoy answered these questions in Bali, Indonesia, on 15 January 1991.
Question: Is there a question we can ask ourselves to see if we are keeping our motives pure, so that when we are doing something, we are doing it for the right purpose and not for the ego?Sri Chinmoy: Whenever we do something, we look around to see if others are watching. If we are successful, we look to see if they are appreciating us. And if we have failed badly, we look to see if anyone has seen it. Even if it is for God that we are doing something, a kind of pride may come in. But whenever you are doing something, if you have tremendous gratitude inside your heart, sincere gratitude inside your heart, then that gratitude will bring purity into the entire being. Then there can be no problem.
You have to feel that God gave you the capacity to start, God gave you the capacity to continue, and God gave you the capacity to complete whatever you are doing. Therefore you are so grateful. At every moment, from the beginning to the end, if you can feel the presence of gratitude inside your heart, then the ego does not come into the picture. The ego and gratitude do not go together.
Question: What is the difference between God's Grace and God's Compassion?Sri Chinmoy: Grace is universal. Like rain, everybody can receive it. Compassion is like a magnet which is pointed at only some individuals. Compassion is more intense than Grace. That is why I use the term Compassion much more in our philosophy. In the case of true spiritual seekers, Compassion is much more important.
Question: I feel lost about how to offer love to God. It seems that unless God enters into you, you do not have love to give.Sri Chinmoy: If you start thinking about how to love God, you will never be able to do it. It has to be spontaneous. When you enter into a garden, you do not have to think about how you can appreciate the beautiful flowers. Immediately the vibration of the garden will come and enter into you. Immediately you will smell the fragrance and see the beauty. In the same way, we love God not by thinking, but by feeling. Feel that you have opened your heart-door. When you open up the garden gate, you do not have to run to a particular flower. Immediately you get the purity and fragrance of the flowers. Your heart is not just a tiny muscle. It is also a garden. Once you enter your heart-garden, then definitely you will be able to see the Gardener, our Lord Supreme. You can start by imagining your heart-garden. Imagination is a world of its own. It is completely different from thinking. Thinking is constant contradiction. But when you imagine something very beautiful and soulful, it has tremendous reality, tremendous truth in it. To come back to your question, do not think of how to love. Just love. Love is already there inside your heart-garden.
Question: What is the best way to create very powerful dynamism to inspire more seekers to accept the spiritual life?Sri Chinmoy: Every day try to feel that inside your heart there is a very beautiful garden. It is your own garden, nobody else's. If you have a garden, then you will definitely want to increase the beauty, purity and divinity of that garden. If you have two plants, then you will try to find another plant from somewhere else. How? In the material world it would be on the strength of your money-power. But here in your heart-garden, it is on the strength of your concern, love, feeling of oneness and utmost humility. Here, another plant means another seeker. You have to say to each new seeker-plant, "I will serve you, I will serve the Supreme inside you."
Very often we are not getting others to join the spiritual life for one particular reason: we feel that we know too much. We feel that we have so much light to give them. That feeling is the downfall of our life. You know better than that person, true. But if you want to be a better spiritual seeker, if you want to make real progress, then you have to bring forward more humility. Otherwise, if you think that you have made all the progress that you need to make and now you can teach the whole world, then you are making a mistake.
If we can sincerely feel that God is giving us the supreme opportunity to serve Him inside each seeker, that is the best approach. We should be eager to serve God inside others, but so often we forget our purpose. We feel that since we have been following the spiritual path for so many years, that since we have read so many books, we know everything. But we know nothing.
If we take a humble approach, we will say, "The Supreme has given me the golden opportunity to serve Him inside others." If you approach others with humility, then it becomes very easy. If you go and touch somebody's feet with humility, then he will have some compassion for you. He will ask, "What do you need from me?"
Question: When you say that a person's soul has a special connection with the soul of a country, what does it mean?Sri Chinmoy: Some people are born in a particular country who do not have any connection with that country. They come out of curiosity, as a complete stranger. It is like travelling to some other country out of curiosity to see what it looks like. But some people come to a particular country to elevate the consciousness of that country or to do something really great and good for the country. They come because of their previous connection with the country. Again, the Supreme may send them directly to do something great for the development of that country.
Question: Sometimes when we are working on manifestation, I have an idea which feels inwardly totally right to me and somebody else says it is not so good. Then I feel insecure and I do not want to hurt the other person.Sri Chinmoy: Suppose you have a sister who is not praying and meditating. She is leading an ordinary, unaspiring life. You are awakened; you have entered into the spiritual life and you are praying to God for light, peace and bliss. Just because your sister is not aspiring or she is not doing the right thing, will you give up doing the right thing? Will you say, "How can I drink divine Nectar when my sister is eating mud, clay and sand?" Of course not. You will continue doing the right thing and one day you will try to inspire her to also enter into the spiritual life.
In your case, you are the Centre leader. If you are absolutely sure that you have the right plan, then whom are you hurting? You are not hurting the person, you are only increasing your own ignorance if you do the wrong thing. Again, you have to know whether it is your ego that is speaking or not. Your ego may tell you, "I am the Centre leader. Therefore, my idea has to be the right one." If this is the case, just discard your ego. But if your sincere awakening is telling you that your idea is absolutely right, then if you do not do the right thing because it may hurt someone, you are only feeding your ignorance. You have to see if you are dealing with your ego or whether you are fully conscious of your inner feeling of the right thing to do.
This applies to anyone, not only to the Centre leaders. If you have the inner conviction that you are doing the right thing, then who becomes the loser if you do not do it? If you receive the light, but you do not use the light properly, if you hesitate, then not only you, but the whole Centre becomes the loser.
Question: How important is it spiritually to express what we feel? Should different emotions only be expressed inwardly to you or to the Supreme?Sri Chinmoy: If they are good feelings, it is always best to express them inwardly. Otherwise, there is no end to outer expression. All kinds of sweet feelings, good feelings, it is always better to express inwardly, with utmost devotion, to the Supreme. When you try to express them outwardly, when you take the help of language and try to write them down, immediately the mind tries to come forward. The mind tries to decorate the experience with some words. The heart is simpler than the simplest, but the mind will try to use bombastic words, thinking that it will be able to convince the Supreme of your love, devotion and surrender. When you start writing, instead of giving a flower, the mind will try to bring the garden itself. Do I need the garden or do I need the most beautiful rose?
Question: Do you always receive everything that we offer you inwardly?Sri Chinmoy: I do not receive it; the Supreme receives everything. When you inwardly offer your good feelings or your bad feelings, they go to Him. Whenever any disciple does anything good or bad, it goes to the Supreme in me. If it is something really important, my inner beings will definitely tell me. Otherwise, the Supreme Himself will tell me. Anything that is of real inner value, spiritual value, will never be kept hidden from me. But sometimes what our mind thinks is something very significant, most important, the Supreme does not take as significant at all. These things I do not have to know. But anything that is significant in the Eye of the Supreme will always be known by me or by my inner beings.
Question: This year we are supposed to offer our bad qualities. How can we know if we have offered them completely so that they will not come back?Sri Chinmoy: If they come back, that means you have not offered them to the Supreme with utmost devotion, sincerity, intensity and faithfulness. If you are offering your bad qualities with only one or two of your good qualities, then that bad quality comes back again and again. If you offer your bad qualities with all your good qualities, then they do not come back.
Question: How can we work more harmoniously in enterprises or in manifestation?1Sri Chinmoy: To keep harmony when you are dealing with other individuals, do not use your justice-light. Forget about justice! There is no justice on earth. Only think of wisdom-light. Always be as humble as possible. Even if you feel that others are idiots, use absolute humility — if necessary, forced humility. Force yourself to be at the other person's feet, not on the other person's head. Let them increase their stupidity. Let their ego-balloon become large, larger and largest. One day it will burst. True, by becoming humble, you are pumping them up. But at least you are not increasing the disharmony. It is not something that you have to do all your life. For one or two months or a few years you will do it. Then you will see that eventually his ego-balloon will burst and he will be on the same level as you are. Otherwise, without humility, there is no way we can have harmony.
SCA 1012. Sri Chinmoy answered this question in New York on 5 October 1991.↩