Sri Chinmoy answers, part 32

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Part I

SCA 1057-1065. Questions asked at the Hotel Pedro de Valdivia, Chile, on 6 January 1987.

Question: How can I always be happy?

Sri Chinmoy: You can always be happy by doing two things. First, do not expect anything from anybody, including your Guru and the Supreme. Only give and give and give. Scientists have invented quite a few things. Now feel that you are going to invent something good, something absolutely new which nobody else has invented. What you will invent is this: you will give and give and give to humanity, to your Guru and to God, but you will not ask for anything in return. This is one way to be always happy.

The second way is to think of what you were before you accepted the spiritual life and what you are now. Even in your worst moments, you are not as bad as you were when you were not a seeker and had millions of desires. If you think of how much progress you have made, then you will be happy.

Question: How can I always do the right thing?

Sri Chinmoy: You can always do the right thing if you meditate and meditate. While you are meditating, feel that both your eyes are inside your heart, they are swimming in your heart-river. Feel that each eye is a swimmer — one is a human swimmer, and the other is a divine swimmer. These two swimmers are swimming inside your heart-river with tremendous inner joy, and this river is flowing into the sea. If you can see and feel this, then you will have inner happiness. If you have true inner happiness — not pleasure but inner happiness — you will never make a mistake.

Question: How can I always have enthusiasm?

Sri Chinmoy: You can always have enthusiasm by feeling that you are at the foot of a tree. When you look at the tree, you see that the most delicious mangoes, the ripest mangoes, are at the top, so naturally you will start climbing up with enthusiasm. But if you do not see the tree, and if you do not look up and see the flowers and fruits, then you will not have any enthusiasm to climb up.

Question: How can I never have any fear?

Sri Chinmoy: Through oneness, oneness, oneness. If you throw a tennis ball, does the tennis ball have any fear? If you are on the third floor and you throw the tennis ball down to the street, it is you who may have fear. You may be afraid that the tennis ball will hurt someone or that it may get lost or that something will happen to it. But the tennis ball has no fear.

We have to feel that God is playing with us like a tennis ball, throwing us here and there. But, in God's case, He does it consciously. You are His instrument. He knows that He will be able to trace you, no matter where He throws you. He also knows that you are not going to break. If He knew that you would break, would He throw you?

Question: What does God really think of me?

Sri Chinmoy: God always thinks of you as His dream — not an old dream but a new dream. Every day He thinks of you as a new dream, especially on your birthday. On that day He thinks of you as an unprecedented dream of His. On every individual's birthday, God thinks of that particular individual as His unprecedented dream, that is unlike any other dream.

Question: How can I have more gratitude?

Sri Chinmoy: Gratitude comes from devotion. Without devotion, there is no gratitude. Choose one of my pictures — it need not be my Transcendental Picture — and meditate on it. That will give you more devotion.

In India we have our tulsi leaf. The spiritual significance of that leaf is devotion. One of my Indian 'mothers' used to worry that I did not have any devotion. Her name was Mridu-di. Every day she used to run after me only to place that leaf inside my mouth.

For gratitude, devotion is absolutely necessary. When devotion-magnet goes away, one cannot maintain gratitude. If you are devoted to someone, then you can show him gratitude, you can show him love, you can show him concern, you can show him sympathy. But if devotion-magnet is missing, what are you going to do?

Devotion is the sweetest thing in our lives. It is the magnet that draws all the divine qualities. But false devotion is useless. Do not destroy the muscle-power of your palms by sitting with folded hands if there is no devotion inside your heart!

Question: How can I have more energy?

Sri Chinmoy: You can have more energy by challenging something or someone. That does not mean you will fight against another human being. You are not fighting with anything outside. The one whom you are going to challenge is inside you — inside your body, inside your vital, inside your mind. If anything in your own life is dissatisfying you, that is the thing you have to challenge. Challenge your mind or your vital if they are not satisfying you. As soon as you challenge them, you will muster all your courage and energy. Otherwise your energy remains dormant.

Anything in your life that dissatisfies you, you have to challenge and fight like a hero. A hero will stand in front of you and say, "Either you listen to me and change your way of life or I will destroy you!" Then you will say, "No, I do not want to be destroyed! I want to be illumined." Anything that has to be illumined, you will challenge and illumine. Anything that has to be discarded, you will discard. And anything that has to be accepted into your life, you will accept. In order to get a large supply of energy, any dissatisfaction has to be challenged. Dissatisfaction takes away all our joy and energy.

Question: Is it possible or is it necessary to like everyone?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to be wise. A tree has countless leaves. It is necessary to have the consciousness that you love all the leaves of the tree, but is it possible to go and touch all the leaves one by one and say, "I love you, I love you, I love you"?

Again, you have to know that the tree has a root, and that root is God. We can tell God, "I love You and all that You have and all that You are." Like a tree, God is dealing with countless people.

You should have goodwill towards everybody, but that does not mean you should go and talk to everybody and show your sympathy and concern. If you try to do that, then you will have no time to think of your own prayer and meditation. Some people have no time to think of their inner life, and God-realisation is still a far cry for them. But they go to this side and that side to help everybody and make themselves feel that they are philanthropists. In most cases, they are only fooling themselves.

Goodwill we shall have for everybody, but we cannot mix with everybody. If I see a snake, I shall offer it my goodwill, I shall try to see God inside it, but that does not mean that I shall go and stand in front of it and be bitten. I will pray that the snake will change its nature, but to do more than that will be unwise.

Question: Does my soul have any special message for me today?

Sri Chinmoy: Your soul does have a special message: With respect to your health, forget the past, especially in your mind and in your body. Sincerely you have to feel that you have sound health, good health. Your soul wants you to convince your mind that you are not sick, you are not weak, you are not tired, you are not exhausted. Your soul is not fooling you. Your soul is dying to give you its soul-capacities and soul-potentialities. But instead of receiving these things, you always identify with your body, which is suffering, let us say.

You have to feel, as often as possible, that you are not the body but the soul. The difficulty is that the soul is a vague idea to us, a word. We know how to spell it, but most of the time we do not experience it. Just because we do not see it or feel it, we feel that perhaps it is a mental hallucination or superstition. But the soul is a reality. It is the divinity inside us.

You have to feel that the soul inside you is sacred. You may not be able to see it, but you can open your heart at every moment and feel it. It is like love. You cannot see your love, but you know you have love.

Believe in the existence of your soul. If you do not feed the soul, then the soul cannot manifest. The soul is birthless and deathless, true, but if you do not pray and meditate, then the soul does not get the opportunity to manifest God.

Part II

SCA 1066-1071. Sri Chinmoy answered these questions on 6 January 1988 at the Ambarrukmo Palace Hotel in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, during a television interview.

Question: What brings you and your students to Indonesia, especially to Yogyakarta?

Sri Chinmoy: I have come here to see the beautiful scenery of Yogyakarta, and also I have a very special feeling for Borobudur. Lord Buddha comes from India, and I have a very special admiration and adoration for him. He is for all mankind. So I would like to go and pay my homage to the Lord Buddha at Borobudur.

Question: You visit so many countries of the world. I would like to ask you the purpose of your travels.

Sri Chinmoy: The purpose is very simple. We feel that this world is all one family. You and I are brothers. And there is only one God. That God you call Allah, and I call Him something else. But it is the same God. Similarly, Mohammed, Lord Krishna and the Saviour Christ all came from the Highest. When you pray to Allah and a Hindu or a Christian prays to God, we feel that it is the same God with different Names.

I go to so many countries to feel my oneness with God's children, with Allah's children, and to offer my love. Everybody cannot live in the same house. I have come to see your place. One day you may come to see my place. The human family is so big. That is why we live here, there and everywhere. But we are all brothers and sisters, so when we travel, we go to visit our relatives.

Question: Is it true that your philosophy is love and brotherhood?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, my philosophy is love, good wishes and brotherhood. As I said before, we are all children of God, and we all belong to one family, even though we come from different countries. I am Indian, you are Indonesian, and somebody else may be another nationality. And we all have different names — that is how we recognise one another and distinguish one from the other. But we are all members of the same family.

Question: What do you have to say about those who do not believe in God?

Sri Chinmoy: Some people say that they do not believe in God, but I wish to say that they do believe in something. We believe in God — that is the positive aspect. They believe that God does not exist — that is the negative side. But in the end, they will reach a particular place that is another extension of God. It is like electricity. There is a positive and a negative aspect. We need both positive and negative to get the light.

Right now we are caring only for the positive aspect of God, but if some people are caring for darkness, we shall not mind because we know that eventually they will come to the same light. A day will come, after a few years or a few centuries, when they will realise that something is missing in their lives. They will be miserable because they have no satisfaction. God is light. How long can one deny light? Those who do not believe in God feel that there is no light. But one day they will be sick of staying in a dark room. They will say, "How long can we remain in this place? Let us open the door and see the daylight. Then only will we be satisfied."

Having known the absence of light, these non-believers will sincerely love and adore the light. Once upon a time, perhaps we too were non-believers. That is why I always say that those who believe in God should show the non-believers utmost concern. If we speak ill of them or criticise them, it will only delay their progress.

In your family, when your children do not listen to you, you know that if you insult them, then they may take much longer to listen to you. But if you show them your concern, compassion and affection, then they will develop goodwill towards you, and they will listen to you long before they would have done otherwise.

Question: Your philosophy is so high.

Sri Chinmoy: My philosophy is oneness. The life-tree has so many branches. I am a bird, seated on one branch of the life-tree, and you are another bird, seated on another branch. Like that, we are all seated on different branches, but we all claim the life-tree as our own. It is your tree, and it is also my tree. You and I are seated on different branches, but these branches cannot be separated from the tree.

Question: Are you sure that your philosophy of love and brotherhood can solve all the problems of the world?

Sri Chinmoy: My philosophy and your philosophy are the same: love, love, love. If you have love for somebody, then you are not going to quarrel and fight with him. And if he has love for you, who will fight? It is because people do not have peace inside their hearts that they fight. If somebody inwardly feels that he is weak, he tries to cover up his weakness by showing aggression. He tries to show how strong he is.

Now, if I feel inwardly strong, I am not going to fight with you. And if you feel inwardly strong, you are not going to fight with me. A little child goes and pinches his older brother or strikes him. Why? He wants to show that he is stronger than his older brother. The older brother already knows that he is much stronger than his little brother. So, out of compassion, he forgives his little brother. He says, "No, I do not want to fight with you." If we have peace, then we have love. And if we have love, then we have peace. Then where is the question of quarrelling and fighting?

How do we get this inner peace? If we do good things, we become good citizens of the world. We can read some spiritual books or pray and meditate or serve the world in some way. If we become truly good citizens of the world, then are we going to fight? The question of fighting does not arise at all.

He who loves God, he who loves Allah, is not going to fight. We pray to God four or five times a day to make us good human beings, to give us joy, to give us love, to give us peace. Who is going to pray to God, "God, give me the strength to destroy this person or that person"?

All those who want to become good people share the same philosophy: love, love, love.

Part III

SCA 1072-1076. Sri Chinmoy answered questions about flowers on a bus trip from Baltimore to New York on 13 May 1989.

Question: How can we use flowers to help us in our meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: While you are placing a flower on the shrine, try to feel that this flower is reminding you of your heart, which you want to be as beautiful as the flower. You cannot see your heart, but you can look at a flower and say, "How I wish my heart were as beautiful as this flower!"

Then try to feel that this flower that you have placed on the shrine is breathing, the same way that your heart is taking in your life-breath. Connect your heart-flower and the outer flower. While you are looking at the flower on the shrine, feel that your breath is entering into it. Then again, feel that the flower has entered into your heart and there it is breathing. Your heart-flower and the flower that you have placed on the shrine are going to and fro, they are constantly interchanging. The flower that is on the shrine is entering into your heart, and again it is coming out to be on the shrine.

If you can do this during your meditation, then your heart will become purer than the purest, and you will be able to absorb God's Compassion, Love, Blessings — anything that He wants to give you — in absolutely abundant measure because your heart is all ready to receive.

By seeing something with our outer eyes, we can become it. By becoming something also, we can see it. But it is far easier to see something with our outer eyes and then imagine that we are becoming that same thing on the inner plane.

Question: Nowadays people are doing things like grafting flowers to other flowers to create new forms. Is this done by the Supreme through man or is it something that the Supreme is merely tolerating?

Sri Chinmoy: I personally feel that it is the tolerance of the Supreme. According to me, Nature's pristine beauty disappears when people change the colour of the flower and do all kinds of other things to it. I do not feel the Supreme is working in and through man at that time. The Supreme wants to keep Nature's beauty in perfect condition, in its own natural way. But man finds that it is necessary to add to Nature's beauty. Most of the time, we do not add anything to Nature's beauty.

Once, for a special occasion, one of our girl disciples put all kinds of make-up on her face. Then one old man said, "Before, she was beautiful. Now she looks ugly." In the same way, Nature's spontaneous beauty is absolutely the best thing. By adding to it from our fertile brain, the human in us may appreciate the result, but the divine in us may not be able to appreciate it. The natural beauty of a flower God will appreciate. But by adding foreign beauty to this natural beauty, you are taking away almost the life-breath of the flower itself. Then again, what can you do? Human eyes appreciate beauty in their own way.

Question: Are there flowers in Heaven, and how do they compare with earthly flowers?

Sri Chinmoy: Heavenly flowers are much more beautiful. They have much more luminosity than earthly flowers. The beauty of Heavenly flowers far surpasses earthly beauty. Earth is not as beautiful as Heaven. So naturally, anything that comes from Heaven is infinitely more beautiful.

Question: When we offer people flowers, what should we feel we are giving them?

Sri Chinmoy: Feel that you are offering them your heart's pure fragrance, and you are hoping that their heart will receive it. Also, you will pray to God at that time to give extra purity and extra beauty, divine beauty, to your heart and to the heart of the person to whom you are offering the flowers.

Question: At funerals, do flowers help the soul of the deceased person?

Sri Chinmoy: Definitely they help — not only the soul but also the physical and vital of the person. The soul gets extra joy when there are flowers, and the physical and vital get added purity. Also, unfortunately, when some people come to visit the body, they come in a very low consciousness. At that time, the reality of the person who has passed away is the soul. Previously the soul was inside the body, where it was well protected. It was like a bird inside the cage. Now the soul is outside the body, but it has not yet left the earthly arena; it has not gone back to the soul's world. The soul-bird is outside the cage, and when it sees undivine people, sometimes the soul gets frightened. So flowers, incense and so forth can diminish the undivine qualities of some of those who approach the body.

Part IV

SCA 1077-1089. On 10 December 1989, freelance journalist Mark Teich interviewed Sri Chinmoy in preparation for an article which later appeared in Sports Illustrated. Here are excerpts from the interview.

Question: How did you become involved in ultra-distance running? I know you were a sprinter as a youth, but when did you fall in love with ultra-distance running?

Sri Chinmoy: About twelve years ago. For physical fitness, I feel that long distance is better for most people than sprinting. One out of a thousand, or even one out of ten thousand can be a sprinter, whereas thousands of people can run long distance daily. Also, long-distance running reminds us of our inner life. It makes us feel that we are running along Eternity's Road. Each individual is a pilgrim. We are all pilgrims, and it is our bounden duty to walk, march and run along Eternity's Road. When we run long distances, we are reminded of our inner life. At the same time, long-distance runners receive many good things from Above: patience, consecration and a self-disciplined and dedicated life.

Every day long-distance runners spend half an hour, an hour or two hours running and, while running, they receive special blessings from Mother Earth, from nature. They are breathing fresh air. They are enjoying the fragrance of flowers and the blessings from the trees and so forth, whereas short-distance sprinters run on the track. There they deal with speed, speed, speed. They try to run fast, faster, fastest. They have no time to enjoy the beauty of nature or to receive the blessings of Mother Earth.

As a sprinter, I know a little bit about sprinting, and I saw that very few of my disciples are blessed with speed. But easily they can develop stamina and endurance by practising long-distance running for a few months. Also, for inner tranquillity, I feel that long-distance running is far, far better than sprinting.

Question: In terms of actually sponsoring ultra-marathon events — the 700, 1000 and 1300-mile races — did you specifically feel that there was a void to be filled when you started these events? I know that a number of years ago your team helped the New York Road Runners Club in their ultra-distance events. Then at a certain point, they stopped doing it, and you began organising them. Did you do it because you felt the world would lose something if these events were not going on?

Sri Chinmoy: To start with, I wish to say that we are not cherishing any rivalry towards the New York Road Runners. Fred Lebow and I are very, very good friends. We are like complementary running souls. He is helping us considerably, and we are also trying to be of service to his New York City Marathon and whatever races he is sponsoring. In my case, I do not look around to see what others are doing. I entirely depend on the inner message. We all have God within us. When I pray and meditate, I receive messages from within.

My Inner Pilot wanted me to be a weightlifter and I have done it. Weightlifting was not my forte — far from it. I did not even like it, compared with other sports. I was good in sprinting and I liked sprinting, but I now have begun weightlifting because of an inner command.

Question: I have been told that you have returned to sprinting.

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, I am once more sprinting. Again, it is because of the inner message. Always I listen to the dictates of my Inner Pilot. It is He who is asking me to practise sprinting, and I am trying to improve. Our goal is progress, progress. I am not trying to compete with the world's fastest sprinter.

I have students all over the world. Ours is like a small family. I happen to be their spiritual father, and they are my spiritual children. We are all trying to please our Inner Pilot. That is why I ask my students to organise ultra-distance races, not because it is not being encouraged by other running groups, but because I feel from within that it is the right thing to do. I am just listening to my inner dictates. If my Inner Pilot wants me to stop, I will stop and I will ask my students to stop. I am at His behest. Whatever He asks, I try to do with devoted oneness. And my students are also one with me. If I want to do something, they immediately come forward to help me. I am so happy, so grateful to them. They help, and together we undertake the project. It is not an individual effort. It is a collective effort, and we try to offer the results to the One who has inspired us, namely our Lord Beloved Supreme.

Question: When somebody like Stu Mittleman or Yiannis Kouros or Fred Lebow says, "You know, if Sri Chinmoy were not doing this now, nobody would be doing it," it is very impressive. They say it would be a huge loss if you ever stopped conducting these races. You do not respond to that at all? In other words, you might stop the events when your Inner Pilot told you to stop them, even if it meant the end of the ultramarathon?

Sri Chinmoy: This creation is not mine. It is God's creation. Again, I am absolutely sure that God does not want anything that is good to disappear from His creation. Today He has inspired me to serve ultra-distance running. But if He sees that I am not doing well, or if He has had enough experiences in and through me, then He can easily choose another instrument. But I am absolutely sure that God will not ask human beings to give up long-distance running.

"Run and become, become and run" — this is the motto of our Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team. Something that is good in God's creation will always last; it will only make progress. From time to time we may see setbacks, but eventually it is bound to flourish.

Question: So you do not see any end to your involvement at all?

Sri Chinmoy: Oh, no, no, no. We shall do it indefinitely, for as long as God wants us to do it. I do not envision in the near future that we are going to stop. We shall not give up running and then do something like wrestling or hunting, no. We will not do that!

Question: In Ultrarunning magazine recently it said that the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team puts on the best events in the country.

Sri Chinmoy: I am most grateful to them, most grateful to them. But I also know how many things we are doing wrong. There is definitely room for improvement. When we look at the moon, we see that it is perfect at a distance, but up close it is full of holes. A flower can look so beautiful, but as soon as we go near it, we find some imperfections.

We can appreciate someone who is a great tennis star. We say that he has perfect strokes and so forth, but he himself knows how much he can still improve. There are so many areas in which he can improve. In our case also, we know we are not perfect. In fact, we are far from being perfect. So many things we need to learn. But our greatest joy is that we are not giving up. We may not be perfect, but our goal is progress, and we believe that through regular progress, gradual progress, we shall become better instruments of God.

If people appreciate our races, I am extremely grateful to them. But if they say that our races are absolutely perfect, I will be the first to disagree with them. I can only say that we are trying to be better. Each year we are improving. We know the shortcomings of previous years. In the areas where we did not succeed or could not do something according to our satisfaction, we are trying to improve.

Question: I know that you are uncomfortable associating yourself with big name sponsors, but if you wanted to bring more glamour to the ultramarathon, would you ever consider working with big sponsors in the future?

Sri Chinmoy: In my case, I do not bring the future into the immediacy of today. What is going to happen in the next second of your life, you do not know and I do not know. Today's pressure is enough for me. I am overburdened with today's problems, the problems of here and now. Why do I have to bring tomorrow's elephant and place it on my shoulders? Now I am already carrying an elephant. Today itself is a big problem. So why do I have to anticipate what is going to happen and what is not going to happen? Let tomorrow come. I will be fully prepared. Whatever inspiration and aspiration I have is carrying me through today. Tomorrow, the aspiration that will be needed, God will supply.

What is going to happen tomorrow, I do not know. It will be all mental speculation, that has no value. So let tomorrow dawn. Then, when something happens, God will give me the inspiration to deal with it. To think of the future is not advisable. For myself, I find that it is not wise. What is going to happen tomorrow I do not know. I do not even know what is going to happen the next minute in my life. So this very moment I will try to use judiciously.

Question: I have been reading some of your writings, The Outer Running and the Inner Running, as well as some things on meditation. In one talk that you gave before the New York City Marathon a few years ago, you told your students to run their best, but if they happen not to run their best time, if they fail in their personal expectations, not to worry about that at all. You said the main thing was their cheerfulness, that the running itself was the most important thing. I also know that you do have a special respect for champions like Carl Lewis. Can you reconcile these two attitudes for me?

Sri Chinmoy: Both ideas can easily go together. I appreciate athletes like Carl Lewis and other world champions because I feel that they are a great manifestation of God. Let us take running as a garden. One rose may be most beautifully blossomed. Again, there are also many little buds. So I tell the little buds, "If you are not blossomed fully today, do not worry. Only pray to God to let His Will be done in and through you. And if you are cheerful, you will receive more inspiration, more aspiration."

Let us say I wanted to run the marathon in four hours and I complete the distance in four and a half hours. If I am doomed to disappointment, tomorrow I may not go out to run, I may even give up running. But if I cheerfully accept the result, then I will receive added strength. Today I have failed to achieve my goal, but failures, as you know, are the pillars of success.

Hundreds of times I failed to lift 300 pounds with one arm. But I continued, and afterwards I went on to lift 7,000 pounds. Our philosophy is never to give up. If we give up, how can we continue? And if we do not continue, how can we maintain our cheerfulness? To all my students I say, "Remain cheerful, no matter what the results." We are spiritual people. We know that it is our bounden duty to offer the results of what we do to God. He has given us the capacity to run. It is He who is running in and through us. So let us offer our gratitude to God.

Carl Lewis and other super-excellent stars in various walks of life we take as members of our family. Being spiritual seekers, we feel that the whole world is ours — not in the sense of possessing the world, but in the sense of embracing the world. You, he and I are all one. So if some member of the family does something, we feel it is our bounden duty to appreciate that person.

It is all one world. For my weightlifting programme, I have given the name Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart. Carl Lewis perfectly fits in with us. So do Roberta Flack, Narada Michael Walden, Bill Pearl and countless others. They are all members of our family. They love us and we love them. When a member of our family does something good, we feel it is our duty to appreciate and admire that person. In this way, we increase his capacity. Mutual appreciation is the right thing.

To those who are not champions, I say, "You do your very best, and place the results at the Feet of God." To those who are champions, if they do not do well at a particular time, I say, "Do not be disappointed! Do not give up!"

Question: Are people like Carl Lewis blessed in some special way to become world champions?

Sri Chinmoy: I always give one hundred per cent credit to God. God gave Carl Lewis the capacity to become the fastest human being. Some people will say that it is because he practised so hard. True, he did practise, but even the aspiration and dedication he had to practise came from God. If I have to give credit, I will always give one hundred per cent credit to God. Carl Lewis had brothers who ran very fast, and he had so many athletic friends. They also practised. Why did they not become world champions? It was God who inspired Carl Lewis to become world champion.

In a class, there are so many students, but only one person comes first. Grace is operating in and through everybody. It is a matter of receptivity. That is why I give one hundred per cent credit for my success and others' success to God.

Question: An ultramarathon is very much a kind of inner search, as opposed to competitive sports like football. Is that what you find attractive?

Sri Chinmoy: Outwardly you can say that. But, as I said before, I received inspiration from within. Running long distance is like being part of a family — thousands of people are going together. Sprinting is a matter of a single individual, all by himself in a lane. He cannot come out of his lane. Otherwise he will be disqualified or there will be a real accident.

In long distance, the runners are going slowly and steadily towards their goal, and there is constant joy. In the New York City Marathon, they say that every runner is a winner. This slogan I admire very much — every runner is a winner. Already the champions have finished, and we are cheerfully going on, ten miles behind them. Then, when we come to the finish, the organisers console us and inspire us by saying that every runner is a winner.

In the spiritual life also, everybody is a winner — provided you do not give up. If you give up, you are not a winner. Slow and steady wins the race. Everybody cannot have the same capacity, the same standard. You will go according to your speed, and I will go according to my speed. If you and I can maintain our cheerfulness and reach our destination, it does not matter whether you arrive first or I arrive first. We are both winners because we are competing with ourselves on the strength of our faith in ourselves and in God.

Question: Many religions claim that the Gods of other religions are false and only their God is the right one. You speak of the Supreme, but this does not seem to be a specific God to the exclusion of all other Gods. It is everyone's God, somehow. Your disciples are not strictly following a religion, but a path. Is that correct?

Sri Chinmoy: For us, there is only one God. Spiritual Masters of the highest order are but manifestations of God. God is like a tree. A tree has many branches. Each branch is powerful, but without the trunk, there can be no branches. God is the trunk of the tree. If one particular religion claims that their saviour is the only saviour, we cannot agree with them. Sri Krishna, Lord Buddha, the Saviour Christ and other great spiritual Masters and leaders of various religions are all manifestations of God.

To me, each religion is like a house. Today you have come from your house, and I have come from my house. Together we are meeting at this restaurant, Annam Brahma. In exactly the same way, all religions have to feel that they are only representing different houses. But we can all meet together in the same inner school.

Question: That philosophy would have prevented many wars over the years.

Sri Chinmoy: When you pray and meditate sincerely, you immediately see that God has expanded your heart. At that time, for you there is no Hinduism, no Judaism, no Christianity, no Buddhism. It is all oneness. In oneness there is joy. Division is all frustration. If we sincerely pray and meditate, we will never dare to say that ours is the only religion worth following, that ours is the only saviour who will be able to save the entire world. We will simply say that ours is a way of life. If you like it, well and good. There are so many boats to take you to the Golden Shore. If you like this particular boat, you can enter into the boat. If you like another boat, you are more than welcome to enter into that boat. But the destination remains the same.

Let us take Rome as our destination. If we want to fly there, we can fly. If we want to take a boat, we can. Or if we want to go via another means, we can go. It is up to us to make the choice. You cannot say that just because I have taken the boat, I will never be able to reach Rome. No, we will all reach the destination at God's choice Hour.

Question: With team sports the way they are — football, hockey and so on — there is considerable violence. Should these sports continue the way they are constituted or should there be a change in them to make them less violent?

Sri Chinmoy: Everything depends on the inner awakening. We can play these sports in a foul way. Again, we can play absolutely clean games based on our oneness with the other players. Ordinarily, most players want to win by hook or by crook. They will not hesitate in the least to adopt foul means. The same individuals, if they enter into the spiritual life, will hesitate ten million times before they adopt foul means. This is the difference. Once their conscience is awakened, they will say, "I will not adopt any foul means." Their aspiring hearts and evolved lives will not permit them to adopt foul means. Before people enter into the spiritual life, the goal is to win by hook or by crook — by any means possible. Then, once we enter into the spiritual life, we do our best to become a conscious instrument of God. Previously our goal was to be first, nothing else. But now we embody the Saviour Christ's supreme message: "Let Thy Will be done."

To come back to your question, it depends on the development of consciousness. A game can be played properly, with mutual respect and love. Again, it can be played with a destructive attitude right from the beginning. In that case, it is the destructive mind that is operating, not the heart. If the heart is operating, you know nobody is going to consciously harm anyone. But when you play with the mind, it is all division and destruction. The heart will play the same game, but with a different attitude.

If the hearts of these players come to the fore, they will play in the right way. Then they are bound to get extra joy from the game. Right now they are not getting joy from the game as such. They are getting joy only when they become winners. Then they feel that they have conquered the whole world. When they lose, they feel that they have lost the whole world. This moment they are the possessors of the world; next moment they are the losers of the world. But if we are seekers, God-lovers, truth-lovers, then when we play, everything is a joy. It is like children playing; they get joy from the playing itself. If you place twenty children in a beautiful garden, they will play all the time so happily.

The game itself has to give happiness, not our so-called success. If we depend on our success for our happiness, then today we will be happy and tomorrow we will feel miserable. But if we play the game cheerfully, then that will be at once our happiness and our success.

Part V

SCA 1090-1095. Sri Chinmoy answered these questions at Annam Brahma restaurant on 8 November 1997.

Question: Today I felt inwardly attacked and it was very difficult for me.

Sri Chinmoy: We are all attacked every day. I am attacked more than you are. I place all the attacks at the Feet of my Lord Beloved Supreme. You also should do the same. When an attack comes, grab it and place it at the Feet of the Supreme. This is the only way I save myself. There is no other way to solve any problem or to counter any attack.

Question: When we meditate with you, especially when we have a walk-past meditation, should we concentrate more on receiving divine qualities from you or on giving our undivine qualities to you?

Sri Chinmoy: You can try to do both at the same time. With one hand you give something, and with another hand you receive something. When you pass by me, at that time it is better to give first — to empty the vessel — and then take. First give me what you have and what you are, and then I shall give you what I am supposed to give you.

You have plenty of time to prepare yourself. About fifteen or twenty metres you have to walk before you come to me. During that time prepare yourself.

The first time you pass by me, I see the physical aspect — whether you are in a good consciousness or a low consciousness. The second time I do not see anything. I go into my highest consciousness. Then whatever you can receive, you receive.

Also, if you fold your hands, the mind at least makes an attempt to go higher and deeper. I do not receive your devotion, I do not need your devotion, and I do not expect your devotion. But if you have even an iota of devotion, it will expedite your spiritual journey. Devotion is not simply a matter of folding your hands. Some people can fold their hands and there is no devotion. Again, others will not fold their hands, but they will have devotion.

Please try to bring forward your devotion. And, if you already have devotion, then please try to increase it. Our philosophy is to transcend. If you keep the mind clear, the heart pure and the life very simple, then you can easily have devotion. And vice versa: if you have devotion, then the mind will be clear, the heart will be pure and the life will be simple.

Question: Some of your Bengali songs have extremely beautiful melodies, but when I learn the meaning, I am not inspired to sing them. Sometimes they embody a degree of helplessness — for example, Bedanai bhara jibana khanire. For me, songs that have a more positive meaning are easier to sing.

Sri Chinmoy: I do not blame you. Most of the time I say to take the positive aspect. I say, "Go forward, go forward!" But there comes a time when we do feel helpless; we feel that we are like a babe in the woods. I wish to say that this helplessness is not a negative aspect. In fact, on rare occasions this helplessness is of great help to us.

The mind very often does not want to accept our helplessness. Knowing perfectly well that it is doing everything wrong, the mind runs to this side and that side like a mad elephant. The mind does not want to admit that it can make any mistake. So the mind has to come to a point where it is totally tired, completely exhausted. Then it says, "I have tried in every other way. I am helpless. Now let me try to invoke God." At that time helplessness helps us.

The heart can never be helpless because it always identifies itself with divinity. It has the capacity to identify itself with the Source, with the Supreme. That is why the heart is always positive. But the vital and mind sometimes become helpless. When the vital and mind become sincerely helpless, we can make progress. So from time to time if you can sing Bedanai bhara and other songs that express the idea that life is full of suffering, songs which are very painful, even pathetic, then it will help you. On rare occasions, if the mind can recognise its helplessness, then you will go forward.

The mind never wants to surrender. Even if you bring light in front of the mind, the mind does not want to surrender to the light. The mind has to be dealt with in various ways. If it does not want to accept light the way the heart accepts it, then there should be another way to make the mind feel that you are useless, you are hopeless. That is where some songs in which helplessness is being expressed — not only my songs, but songs by Ramprasad and others — can help us tremendously.

Even when we are helpless and useless, the mind does not want to acknowledge it. The heart, on the other hand, does acknowledge it. The heart surrenders very quickly, but the mind does not surrender. These songs about helplessness help the mind to surrender. True, if you know the meaning, there is no positive aspect in them, but I would not say they are negative. In a special way there is tremendous sweetness in them.

There are so many Indian devotional songs where you will be disheartened if you know the literal meaning. But their sweetness gives them a different meaning for the seekers. For example, there is one song that I play on my cello,

Ami phire ogo pather sandhane
patha nahi dekha jaibo

The meaning is, "I am looking for a road. Still I have not found it. I am all in darkness." For years and years I have been playing this song. It is not my tune, but I get tremendous joy while I am playing it. You may ask what I am doing. Have I not found the road, not only for myself but also for my spiritual children? But this song has so much sweetness that it gives me boundless joy. In my childhood I learned some songs like this one, and still I play them. In that particular song the meaning gets worse at the end! It says, "All the light is engulfed by infinite darkness." This is the song that I start with on my cello.

Question: Similarly your famous song Sundara hate has the line Chaudike mor bishwa bhubane bedanar sur baje.

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, that line means "all around me is the melody of suffering." How much joy I get when I am singing those songs! I do not take them as negative. Only the helplessness aspect I see. There are two or three songs that I play on the cello which are so painful, but I do not get pain as such. Inside the pain I feel so much sweetness, and that sweetness helps me.

Question: In one of your prayers, you say, "If I love You just because You love me, then I am worse than the worst." I feel that if I love the Supreme, it is only because the Supreme has brought forward that capacity in me.

Sri Chinmoy: That is what you are saying now, but next moment are you going to say the same thing? When we are in a cheerful frame of mind, or when we have an iota of gratitude in our hearts, we say, "All our good qualities have come from God." Then the next moment we say to God, "I have prayed and meditated for twenty years. You have given me some good qualities, but You could have given me much more." Not only that, but we will say, "God, You have given me less than I deserve. I have prayed and meditated for so many years with no jealousy, no insecurity, no impurity. Now what have You given me in return?"

When we want to flatter God, we say in a tricky way, "You have given me everything." But this is more of a mental philosophy than a psychic realisation. Do we really feel it or is it only that we have studied a few books on philosophy? Usually, what comes to us spontaneously is the feeling, "I have done so much for You, God. In return, You have not given me enough."

If we really love God, we have to say, "I am doing everything for You unconditionally." When the word 'unconditional' becomes part and parcel of our life, then whatever we say is sincere. But if that unconditional feeling is not in the picture, then we are all liars, and it is very difficult for us to separate our falsehood from truth.

Question: If we have been meditating for a long time, how can we renew our inspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: Your mind has to surrender to your heart. At every moment the heart is seeing a beautiful flower, whereas the mind is seeing a dry, dead tree. When you use the mind, you see a dead tree right in front of you, but when you use the heart, you see a most beautiful garden. Every time you meditate, imagine a garden with beautiful flowers. First imagine it right in front of you, and then try to imagine it inside your heart. In that way, the beauty and fragrance of the garden are bound to inspire you and make you feel that you are receiving something most precious.1 Do you think that you can go to the Centre and just turn a switch? Meditation does not work like that.

Everything is preparation. If I want do to a long jump, first I have to warm up by doing stretching exercises and jogging. Similarly, during the day we have to prepare ourselves; we have to think of our spiritual life.

  1. SCA 1095,1. In later prints of the book, this question was cut short of the following the three sentences, which have been restored to its original first print.

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