Soul-education for the family-world

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Part I — Men and women:

Question: Is there a distinction between man and woman in the soul's world?

Sri Chinmoy: In the soul’s development there are distinctions, but they are not based on masculine or feminine. If a soul is very progressive, very mature and very developed in its capacity to receive and achieve, then it will have more light than a less evolved soul. Divinity is inside all of us, but divinity has been received much more by some souls. This receptivity is not based on male-female differences.

Question: Are women different spiritually from men?

Sri Chinmoy: In God’s Eye, men and women are equal. We are all God’s children, like sons and daughters in a family. A son and a daughter can both cry for the inner world. If they cry together for the same thing, they will both get it. But if the daughter is crying most sincerely, and the son is not at all crying sincerely, then naturally the son will get the thing much later, for he has to wait until he becomes more sincere. It is strictly a matter of inner cry. If a woman has more intense inner cry than a man, she will reach the goal first. It is sincerity that counts, not the fact that she is a woman or he is a man. If you sincerely need something, then you deserve it. If you do not need it sincerely, then you do not deserve it, and you will not get it. It is not a matter of man or woman. It is a matter of who has the sincere inner cry.

Question: Is there any particular reason, or something inherent in women, which makes spiritual Masters like Sri Ramakrishna and the Buddha not want to accept women as disciples?

Sri Chinmoy: There is something which often makes women not suitable for the spiritual life. You people are my daughters, so you will forgive me. But I wish to say that when women get married and have a few children, very often what happens is that they forget their need for Truth or God. They also forget about their husbands. Their goal becomes only to please their children and to be pleased by their children. Their children become their God. When children come into a woman’s life, earth sometimes binds her most powerfully. Then she often no longer cares for Heaven.

Both women and men have inner difficulties. Men have millions of defects, but their worst difficulty is ego. For women, their worst difficulty is jealousy. Women’s jealousy binds them and tries to bind others. Jealousy does not want to allow others to grow. Men’s ego is destructive. It says, “This has to be done the way I want it to be done; otherwise, I will destroy it.” Men are breaking, women are binding. Both these characteristics are bad.

In order to destroy, men need courage and strength, so they aspire for power. When they get power, most of the time they use it for the wrong purpose; they use it to destroy. But at least they are aspiring to get it. When women are jealous, they do not aspire for anything. They are jealous because they see that somebody else is surpassing them, but instead of aspiring to surpass the other person, they just want to pull that person back.

If women used the time that they waste in jealousy to cultivate their own inner lives, then they would easily surpass those whom they are jealous of. If one girl plays the piano very well, the other girl who is jealous of her does not practise harder in order to do better. No, she may only pray for hours, “O God, break her fingers.” When men want to exert their ego, they usually aspire for something. When they want something that another person has, they do not think of how they can pull the other person down. Instead, they aspire for strength to break that person. But women do not usually aspire. They just want to hold back those who surpass them.

Question: I have noticed that most of the highly spiritually developed souls that I have read of or known seem to be men, and I have wondered why this is so.

Sri Chinmoy: It is true to some extent that the majority of the spiritual figures in India and elsewhere are men, not women. Especially when we think of the Avatars, the direct descendants of God, we know that they were all men. But if we just go deep within, we see that most of the so-called great spiritual Masters and Yogis prayed to or meditated on the Mother aspect of God. Especially in India, the seekers have discovered the truth that God is both Mother and Father, masculine and feminine. Again, God is above all; God includes everything. Rama, the first Avatar, one of India’s greatest spiritual Masters, prayed to Durga. He prayed to this goddess to save him when he was in danger, although he was a great spiritual Master. Spiritual Masters often approach the female aspect of the Divine.

Purusha is man and Prakriti is woman. The very nature of Purusha is to remain silent. Purusha’s function is to remain detached from all that is happening around him, whereas the function of Prakriti is to involve herself in all the activities of the world. Her self-sacrifice for the manifestation is immediately rewarded by the realisation that God has in His Purusha aspect. It has always been seen in India and elsewhere that sacrifice and realisation go together. The very sacrifice that the feminine aspect of God — Prakriti or Shakti — has made for the earth-consciousness is rewarded by the realisation of Purusha. And I wish to say that this realisation is in no way superior to the total, utter, ceaseless sacrifice of the female.

Mother Earth always tries to help us, mould us and guide us; at the same time, consciously or unconsciously Mother Earth tries to bind us. It is just like the affection of the human mother. Especially in India, the mother will always encourage, inspire, help and teach the son, but she will not like him to go outside the boundary of her affection. In the spiritual world, Mother Earth and the feminine aspect of God are united. Aspirants will get all kinds of opportunities in the spiritual life, but when the question of realisation comes, Mother Earth will stand in the way of the aspirant. She will hold all kinds of temptations so the aspirant will be satisfied with the earth-life and not care for actual liberation. Then, when Mother Earth finally sees that the aspirant is very, very sincere and dedicated and will not remain in her confines in spite of all her temptations, then she surrenders to the will of the aspirant.

Then comes the greatest of the tests put by the cosmic gods and goddesses. In the inner world they will bring forward most beautiful women from the vital world, who will start dancing and doing many undivine things in front of the seeker who is about to realise God. At that time the female aspirant is likely to get a kind of satisfaction or familiar feeling towards these apsaras from the vital world, and she does not try to go beyond them. So very often the female aspirants succumb to this temptation which the cosmic gods give them. It is not actually weakness on the part of the women. Only they feel a kind of familiarity or, you can say, emotional oneness with the earth in the vital world and in the inner world, so they do not go beyond. But the male aspirants tend to fight. They say to these beautiful dancing girls, “You women tempted me on earth and now you are tempting me in Heaven! But I am ready to conquer you.” So the men very often succeed in conquering this last temptation. The men are not as likely to be touched by the emotional qualities that are represented by those apsaras. That is why it is possible for more men to attain spiritual liberation.

But I must say in all frankness that when it is a matter of total and integral liberation, woman is absolutely equal to man. That is why in India most of the spiritual Masters found that in order to be integral, they had to accept a feminine counterpart. The really great spiritual Masters have seen that it is not a fault to accept a feminine counterpart. But you have to know where the relation stands. It is on the inner level, the divine level, where one complements the other. One is not inferior to the other. The feminine counterpart becomes the wife or spiritual partner. We call it shakti.

But there have been many spiritual giants and saints in India who were women. In the West also, you have St. Theresa and others. There have been many great spiritual women with the highest realisation. The only difference is the number; there are more men than women. But when it is a matter of realisation, women can have the same highest transcendental Consciousness as men. Four thousand years ago in our Upanishads we got a significant message from a woman. There was a sage who had two wives. In the evening of his life he wanted to retire into the forest, so he said to his wives, “I have tremendous material wealth. I wish you both to share it.” But one of his wives, whose name was Maitreyi, said, “Will it give me Immortality?” He said, “No, no, no. This wealth is all material wealth. For Immortality you have to aspire; you have to meditate.” Immediately Maitreyi said, “What will I do with that which will not make my consciousness immortal? I do not want it. Maitreyi wanted the highest goal in the spiritual life. She meditated and she did realise the Highest.

In India there is a God-realised spiritual Master who is a woman. Her name is Ananda Mayi Ma. She is extremely high; she is a realised soul. I have seen real spirituality in Ananda Mayi Ma, and some of my disciples have also seen her and felt her greatness. Six or seven years ago two eminent philosophers had a great fight about consciousness and Infinity. For hours and hours they argued; then they went to Ananda Mayi Ma. She has read practically nothing, but through her spiritual illumination, her inner illumination she threw light on their problem. In three minutes she summed up everything. She just said a few words and they went home satisfied. So you see, it is entirely possible for a woman to realise God and become a Guru.

Question: Are there more single women today because they want to work rather than take care of a family?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not only to do work that women remain single. They see in the outer world that men and women are constantly quarrelling and fighting, and that they are not satisfied with each other. They feel that if they have to be dissatisfied, then it is better to be dissatisfied with themselves than with somebody else. Whether they curse themselves or bless themselves, at least they can regulate their own lives. They are their own lord and master.

Also, they think that they embody the capacity of both man and woman. One moment they have the masculine qualities of strength and determination; the next moment they have the feminine qualities of softness and sweetness. This has nothing to do with mental capacity. To say that women are more mental or men are more mental is not true. Mental capacity does not depend on how many books one has read. In Indian villages many people have not read any books, but their minds are clear and sharp. Only these women feel that they can have both masculine and feminine qualities.

Both men and women have their respective roles to play in God’s creation. God has given women the care of household things and children, because very often women have more of the qualities of sweetness and love of beauty. Human beings have not created their roles. Their roles have come from Above. The one who brings the money home is playing his part, and the one who distributes the money properly is playing her part. But if women want to challenge men, all right. If a woman wants to kill herself with an eight-hour job and be in the subway for a few more hours while the husband is working at home, well and good. Let the men accept the challenge. Some men would be frightened at this idea, but they should say, “All right, if you want, you can go outside and work. Let us change jobs.”

I do support the women’s movement, but women should know what kind of freedom they want to bring to the fore. Freedom is a very good thing as long as wisdom goes with freedom. Freedom lies in action, but freedom does not mean that one has to remain in the outside world and prove to the world that one exists. If women challenge men in an undivine way, nothing will improve and nothing will be accomplished.

Question: How do men and women compete with each other?

Sri Chinmoy: Both men and women compete to dominate and possess. Men compete with their power aspect — physical, vital, mental, psychic and spiritual. Women compete with their beauty aspect, also on the physical, vital, mental, psychic and spiritual planes.

Question: I think it's wonderful if women go into men's fields; but if they do, don't men and women take on each other's weaknesses?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, it is quite true. We have seen this in our own Centres. We used to see that the men were aggressive and the women were insecure. But now that there is competition as to who will get what jobs, tremendous aggression has entered into some of the women disciples. They challenge the men and the men now show their insecurity. The women are taking men’s weaknesses and the men are taking women’s weaknesses.

Question: Are women beginning to compete with vital power too, now that they are trying to compete with men?

Sri Chinmoy: Now they are beginning. Let us hope that they will be satisfied with what they get. The other person’s possession is very beautiful before you get it; but when you get it, it is often not so beautiful. Women will get the kind of liberation they want. But when they are given full opportunity to do anything that they want, they will neglect quite a few things. They will only want to do what men are now doing. Then there will be a "wonderful" time between husband and wife, between man and woman. When the wife does the same thing as the husband, they will both go to work at the same time and the house will go to perfect hell. At night, when both of them come home tired, exhausted, dead, the wife will say, “You do half the work, and I will do the other half.” Then it may happen that one of them will be sick or unwilling to do his part. There will be hundreds of ways that they will run into conflict.

In Indian villages, husbands do not allow their wives to go to work. The reason they give is that it is beneath their dignity to send their wives to work. But others will think, “He doesn’t want his wife to come in contact with men at an office. He is afraid that he will lose his wife.” Now, when the women get the liberation that they are crying for, because of social pressure the husbands will say, “All right. Go and work.” We can say that they are making a sacrifice or that they are taking a risk, because we do not know how much control these women will have over their lives when they have to face the outside world. But when they do face the outside world, these women have to be very brave. They have to be in the world but not be affected by it. They will face temptation. If they are weak, they will be ruined. If they are strong, they will not be ruined.

In any field one wants to enter, there should be an understanding. If women challenge men too much, it will be like jumping into the fire; they will be totally lost. Even if they make the same contribution, they will realise that they have neglected many important things. Women have to draw a line somewhere. They should not compete with men just for the sake of competition. If they do, they will only create more problems for themselves. Suppose the wife runs a restaurant and the husband plays music. If the wife decides to compete with her husband in music, she will neglect her own work. She will say, “Let me go and practise the guitar.” Then, when her restaurant totally fails, who will feel the loss?

If there are two kinds of work, should we not give the same importance to both? Unfortunately, this is not done. That is the trouble. If a woman feels that her work, even if it is only cleaning the house, is less important than her husband’s work, then definitely that is a misconception of truth. Women have, unfortunately, made themselves feel that their work is inferior to men’s work. But this is not true. Take, for example, this yard where we are relaxing now. The husband has done all the heavy work, but without the wife’s effort it would not be so beautiful. The husband may receive all the appreciation when the wife is not here, but the fact remains that she has done much of the work. So many times people are not appreciated the way they want to be appreciated. But where does appreciation go? It goes to the Source. So the real Doer always gets all the appreciation. The real Doer is God. When we appreciate someone, even if we do not outwardly appreciate him, our appreciation goes to God.

So, I wish to tell all my women disciples that freedom is something they want and need in many ways. But there are a few fields where, if they want to compete with men, they will only create problems. Again, there are some fields where it is not good for men to compete with them. There are many, many fields that each one can enter.

Part II — Family life:

Question: It is said that in the Kali Yuga one should cultivate devotion rather than follow the Vedanta philosophy. Is this an unqualified statement for everybody or is it just for householders?

Sri Chinmoy: This message is for everyone. In this present-day world, the Vedanta philosophy has to be modified. Otherwise, the world will not last in the sense that we know it. They say that the tendency of Vedanta is to claim that the world is an illusion. That is not pure Vedanta philosophy, but unaspiring people who follow Vedanta believe that it is an illusion. People who believe in this interpretation feel, ‘Who cares for the world?” Then immediately they withdraw from the world.

But Vedanta has been misunderstood. Sri Ramakrishna felt that if we take the Vedanta in that sense, then nobody will work. Everybody will say that the world is an illusion and all will want to go to some isolated place and just meditate. So Ramakrishna advised seekers to take the path of devotion. He always used to tell Vivekananda to practise the inner life, not in the Vedantic way, but in my way,” that is to say, in the path of devotion. He used to pray to Mother Kali that the world would accept the path of love, devotion and surrender.

If the world stays with its sophisticated mind, if it stays with the reasoning mind which has no light, if it stays with the intellectual mind which springs not from the pure intellect but from a very subtle arrogance, then there is no hope of self-discovery or God-realisation. The quickest path is the path of devotion. In the path of devotion there is infinite wisdom.

The present-day world needs heart. Our heart and our soul have infinitely more truth to offer us than the mind that suspects and doubts itself all the time. In the heart there is no doubt; in the soul there is no doubt. The safest and quickest way to God is the path of the heart.

In the householder’s life, the divine attitude is for the wife to feel that the entire success of her husband depends on her devotion, dedication and inspiration. And the husband has to be always grateful to the wife because consciously, constantly and devotedly she is fulfilling him. One complements the other. The role of the husband is silence, and the role of the wife is power. Until silence and power go together, there can be no fulfilment. In a spiritual union the question of inferiority and superiority does not arise at all. You have to play your part successfully and your husband has to play his part successfully. Then only will God’s Blessings shower on both of you.

Husband and wife have to feel as one, but when sometimes they do not feel as one, if the husband tortures the wife, she should immediately remember that her dearest is the Supreme. And if the wife tortures the husband, he should do the same. In that way they are safe. But this is only a temporary measure. At the moment when suffering comes, be clever; when anger comes, when frustration comes, be clever. At that time do not surrender to it; have patience. Without patience you cannot do anything. What you want and need is the transformation of your husband’s nature, or of your wife’s nature, and if you patiently wait for it, the Supreme is bound to give it. But the Supreme has His own time. Your time may be this moment, but His time may be later. If one has patience, one can deal with eternal Time.

Question: Do you think that if one is going to lead a vital life, then he should get married; and if he is going to stay single, that he should be completely celibate?

Sri Chinmoy: Absolutely. Don’t mix them up. If you want to remain unmarried, then remain celibate not only in the physical, but also in the vital and in the mind. Then you will be able to make progress. Otherwise, there is no progress. If you are enjoying all undivine thoughts in the mental world, then rest assured that you are making no progress at all. Lower forces should be rooted out from the mental world and the vital world as well as from the physical world. That is called real celibacy.

Question: What is the best way to root out sex thoughts from the mental world?

Sri Chinmoy: By always remaining in the heart, in the heart of purity. Feel that the mental world is not the real world for you. The psychic world, the world of the heart, is your real world, and there you can remain pure. You can do it. Just remain in the psychic world.

Question: Guru, how can the husband feel happy when his wife is working for you and he is not?

Sri Chinmoy: Unfortunately, the husband does not realise that if the wife pleases me, the appreciation and love that she gets from me will also go to the one with whom she has established her oneness. If you drink water, the consciousness of water goes into your entire existence. My gratitude to your wife is not separated from you. In capacity, you and your wife are one. If you just go deep within, you will see that my heart is all gratitude. If either one feels miserable when the other one is working for me, then oneness is missing. When disciples do selfless service, it should always be with a feeling of oneness.

Question: What if the wife goes outside for a job for the sake of sanity and hires a maid to take care of the home?

Sri Chinmoy: Sanity is one thing, and sanctity is something else. When you hire a maid to keep your home for you, you have no idea what kind of life she is leading. Your way of living may be based on purity, whereas your maid’s life may be absolute impurity. You will interview her to see whether she is all right, but in the inner plane her subtle vibration may be flooded with impurity. Then what will happen? You do not go to movies, bars or other undivine places, but all of a sudden very undivine thoughts will begin to enter into your mind, and you will not know where they are coming from.

How will you ensure your maid’s purity? You are trying to lead a pure life, and you have achieved some standard. Now you want to sacrifice your standard because at home it is very boring and you want to go out to get a job. But if you depend on someone else to take care of your house, you may not know how spiritual or unspiritual that person is, and you will not be able to account for the undivine forces that will attack you.

Question: Would you like to say something about these general abortion laws? Is abortion spiritually acceptable?

Sri Chinmoy: First, let us start with birth control. From the highest spiritual point of view, sex life has to be transformed, illumined, divinised and perfected. Sex life and God-realisation can never go together. It is out of the question. But perfection cannot dawn overnight. It has to be done gradually. Sex life is a human weakness or a human necessity. But if there are eight or ten children in a family, the parents cannot take proper care of them. Some parents are really poor, while some are rich. But even if they are rich, they cannot give proper attention to ten children. The mother is also a human being. How can she pay equal attention or even give adequate love and affection to so many children?

Some spiritual leaders will say that if you do something wrong, then you have to accept the consequences. I have to say that if you have done something wrong or made a mistake, the bad consequences should be prevented if it is possible. If I have touched fire and burned my finger, immediately I will run cold water on it to remove the pain. Of course, it is better for me not to touch fire and burn my finger, but if I have made a mistake, now a remedy is required. Who will be the sufferers if every family has eight or ten children? Will those who oppose birth control come and take care of the children? They will simply say that if you have done something wrong, then naturally you have to pay the penalty. But in this case, the children will also have to pay the penalty. If I have done something wrong and I know that there is a way to escape, then naturally I will try to escape in order to save myself. Sex life has to be transcended, but it is not necessary or helpful to have dozens of children in order to transcend it.

There are many women in America who want to have children. They are not afraid or ashamed to tell people that their children are illegitimate. On the contrary, they are proud. They simply want to be mothers. They do not care for a husband. They feel that they will be able to give the children the same kind of attention that two parents can. A father’s affection and love they will also give their children. If that is their attitude, I do not condemn them. If they have that kind of bravery, let them have their children.

But what if somebody feels that she has made a mistake? On the spur of the moment she has done something and now she feels miserable. She worries about what her parents will say and what society will say, and she does not want to have the responsibility of raising a child without a father. She realises that she has made a mistake and now she wants to lead a better life. In her case, I say that abortion is certainly permissible.

The only thing is, when a woman knows that she is going to have a child that she does not want, the sooner the abortion takes place the better. The soul of the child can enter into the child at any time from the day of conception to a few hours after birth. If the abortion takes place after the soul has entered into the child’s body, then that particular soul will fly away like a bird. But it will take tremendous revenge. It may torture the mother and father like anything. This may go on even for two or three incarnations. It also happens, if the soul is powerful, that in the future if the parents want to have children, this soul will curse the future children. They may be defective, or the parents may not be able to have children when they want them. So we have to know whether the soul has entered. If the soul has not entered, then the decision about abortion is up to the individual.

Question: Is the reason you discourage your disciples from having children because children hinder parents' progress?

Sri Chinmoy: We cannot blame the children at all. I discourage the disciples from having children because when children come into the disciples’ lives, the upstairs God does not remain their only God. In the basement they get another god: their child. So poor God feels miserable. He feels that He is not getting enough attention. Now that they have got a new god, the basement god gets 50 per cent of their attention and the upstairs God gets the other 50 per cent. But the one that is in the basement, unfortunately, is the fake god. Inside him is the real God, true. But the One that is everything — Peace, Light, Bliss in infinite measure — is the upstairs God.

A spiritual Master was once asked by a very devoted disciple of his, “If you don’t allow us to have children, then how can mankind survive? We have meditated for so many years; we are all spiritual people. If we do not bring more spiritual people into the world, then the world will not make progress.” The Master said, “You don’t have to worry about God’s creation. There are countless millions of people who will think of preserving God’s creation. Right now, God wants you to achieve your illumination. You do the task that He has given you, and do not try to take away the jobs of others. Others will bring down children into this world. That is their job. Your job is to realise God. After your realisation, whenever you want children, you can have them. But right now God is begging you to realise Him first.”

You may say that to look after your children is a divine task, because God is there inside them. Who can deny that? God is inside everyone. But what if God wants you to be totally devoted and dedicated to Him? He is not jealous of your child; far from it. You are both, after all, His children. But He feels that if this child of His has to realise Him totally in this incarnation, then that is a full-time occupation. You may be twenty-eight years old and your daughter may be two or three, but in the Eyes of God you yourself are a child, nothing else. How can a child take care of another child? So God feels that since He wants you to realise Him totally, it is your duty to please Him in His own Way. That is His Vision.

God has countless other people to have children. After the age of sixty or seventy, when you leave the body, God will not ask you about your children. God will just ask you about yourself. “What have you done for Me?” He will ask. He will not say, “You have six or seven children; let Me have some news about your children.” Your relatives will ask you how your children are, but God will just ask you, “Tell Me, how far have you realised Me in My highest Consciousness? How much did you devote your life to Me?” If you say, “I had to think of my children, so I could not think so much of You,” He will say, “Did I give you that task? I gave you the task only to think of Me.”

I really feel that if you have fully accepted a spiritual path, it is not advisable to have children. Of course, if you already have children, then you have to take care of them. But from now on, just change your relationship with your husband or wife. Just become like brother and sister. There is a little difference between the speed of an Indian bullock cart and the speed of a modern jet plane. The joy that your child will give you when he smiles, I cannot deny. But when you think of where your own consciousness was before having the child, and where it is after, if you are sincere, then you will see how much you have fallen. If you say, “No, I can manage it; I am very strong. I can manage with one or two children,” then what am I to say? You have to know how much capacity you have. When it is a question of my own disciples, I tell them not to have even one child, because I know their capacity better than they do. If they start having children, then they will be useless disciples and I will be a helpless Guru. That is why I discourage spiritual aspirants from having children.

There are countless people on earth who are not aspiring, and among those who are aspiring there are many who have not accepted our spiritual path or some other path that also demands constant progress. These people can have as many children as they want. But if any spiritual aspirant has more than two children, he is really making friends with ignorance. The child is not actually the enemy. The only thing is that you have to know what God wants. If God wants you only to please Him, then He will bring a child into your life only if it is absolutely necessary. If it is unnecessary, He will try to convince you in so many ways through your aspiration and meditation not to have children. Having children does delay your spiritual life; I tell you this without the least possible hesitation.

If some individuals say that they have the capacity, in spite of having one or two children, to do well in the spiritual life, I don’t deny their sincerity. But if they say that they can have as many children as they want because they are very highly spiritually developed, I cannot agree with them. It is not possible. Some people say that to look after children — to see whether the child has eaten or whether the child is properly dressed — is as good as meditation. I challenge them; they are absolutely wrong. There are millions of people who have not accepted spiritual life in this incarnation. But they are so concerned about their children: have they eaten, are they properly dressed, have they gone to school? This is their constant concern. But do you think that by taking care of their children they are making good spiritual progress? Far from it.

Question: When we have children, how can we best remember the Supreme without letting the children interfere?

Sri Chinmoy: Early in the morning, before the child cries, you please cry for your divine Mother and Father, who is the Supreme. Then, when the time comes for you to feed the child, before you feed him, think of the Supreme. While feeding the child, say to the Supreme, “O Supreme, I am feeding my child. You also please feed me, since I am Your child.” At that time the Supreme will definitely feed you spiritually. Then, after you have fed the child, when he is quite happy and peaceful, pray to the Supreme to feed you once again. In this way you are feeding your child only once, but the Supreme is feeding you three times. Why is He feeding you? Because you are crying for His inner food.

Each time you do something for your child, ask the Supreme inwardly to do the same for you. Each time you show some affection or think of your children, pray to the Supreme to bless you, to guide you, in the same way. The moment you think of your child, your child becomes your lord unless you thought of the Supreme first. Please do not think that if your child gives you a smile, that the whole world is at your feet. Instead, feel that you are the child of the Supreme and when He smiles at you, when He is pleased with you, that is when you get the greatest joy. When you get something from the Supreme, from your prayer and meditation, you have to feel that that is the only thing you need. Once you get it, then you can give it to your children, to your husband, to your near and dear ones. That is the best thing. Everything that you want to get, try to get from the Supreme, and then give it to your dear ones. If you try to get something from your children, you will only bind yourself.

There is a world of difference between praying for your children and then taking care of their earthly necessities, and the case of ordinary unaspiring people, who only take care of their children’s earthly necessities and then think that their task is over. Your real task is prayer and meditation. I am telling all the parents, please do not feel that by meeting with only the outer necessities of your children you are taking proper care of them. And please do not confuse yourself by thinking that if you spend hours with your children, pleasing them most of the time in their own way, that they will accept the spiritual life. You yourself have to be spiritual. You have to pray, you have to meditate and you have to teach your children how to pray and meditate. Anything that is good you have to teach your children.

Question: Can a bad mother make her son great?

Sri Chinmoy: It is possible, but it is very difficult. Children are brought up by the mother first. In the very beginning, if the mother makes the child feel that he is useless, then he will always feel useless. In most cases, it is the mother’s strength that the children get. Most of the Indian men, when they become great, give ninety-five per cent of the credit to their mothers.

Question: There is disharmony between my parents and myself because my father is an atheist.

Sri Chinmoy: What is wrong with being an atheist? You believe in God’s Love and he believes in something else. There is nobody on earth who does not believe in something. He will believe in his food, or in his body, or in a flower or in football or in science. He has to believe in something that he has seen or he has to believe in nothing. So tell your father, “You are an atheist, but you believe in something.”

You believe in God; your father believes in something else. Even nothing is a reality. Our Indian philosophy says, Neti, neti — "Not this, not that.” This nothing also comes from the mind and heart. You can tell your father to have faith in that nothing, and he will see your God in this nothing. You can say, “I say ‘everything’. You stick to your nothing. Eventually you will see that inside my everything is your nothing, and inside your nothing is my everything.”

It is inside the finite that God is manifesting His Infinity. Right now an iota of light is everything to us. But when we go high, even Infinity is nothing because God has given us infinite hunger. We are talking about the supreme realisation. Today your father does not understand what we are talking about, but one day he will understand because he is going to realise this very thing himself.

So do not worry about your father. Tell him only to have faith in what he believes and in what he has. If he sticks to his faith, his problems will be solved. Just encourage him to derive satisfaction from what he believes is true in his life. If he is not satisfied, you can say to him, “You are not getting satisfaction from your beliefs, but I am getting satisfaction from mine, so how can you say that I am wrong? Why don’t you try my path?”

Question: I just visited my family and they are not particularly aspiring. I am curious to know whether you would encourage us to visit our families, or should we attempt to avoid a lot of visits if it is hard on our aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: You know your parents better than anybody else does. Are they progressing in their acceptance of your spiritual life? Let us say that two years ago they were totally hostile. Do they now feel that perhaps spirituality is not so bad after all? Do they feel that they have played their role in bringing you up, and now you have the capacity to make your own decisions? You have to know how much they are progressing in accepting what you are doing. With utmost difficulty you climb up the tree of aspiration. If your parents are hostile, they will compel you to drop from divinity’s branch. You have found your truth and they have found their truth, so let them stay with their truth and you stay with yours.

Some parents were very hostile at first, but they have slowly made a conscious compromise. They are accepting what their children are doing in a clever way, not a sincere way, because they know that they will not see you any more if they do not accept it. Now, why should you be a victim to their deception? When you go see them, in millions of tricky ways they will try to ruin your aspiration. But some parents have accepted the fact that their children have entered the spiritual life, and they also try to be a little spiritual.

There was a time four or five years ago when some parents literally dug my grave every day, but now they speak well of me. Before, they were ignorant. They found fault with us; they were against us. There was a time when parents were embarrassed to speak to relatives about their children because they felt that their children had gone to the dogs by accepting the spiritual life. Now the same parents brag like anything because their children have become good, spiritual, divine. They are not taking drugs or leading an immoral life. Light is shining in their faces. If they are appreciating their children’s qualities and achievements sincerely, then these parents should be accepted. So you have to see how much progress they have made. If they have not made any progress, then it is a hopeless case. But if they are making progress, then go and see them from time to time, even if you cannot keep your aspiration at the highest pinnacle.

But if your parents constantly find fault with you, if they have no sympathy with what you are doing and are only waiting for the opportunity to drag you back into the old family life, then it is a deplorable mistake to visit them. If they are trying to bind you to the ordinary life, then it is not your sincerity that takes you to see them; it is your stupidity. There is a great difference between sincerity and stupidity. If I become very angry, on the spur of the moment I may tell someone that I will kill you. On second thought, I know that it would be sheer stupidity to do so. But if I surrender to my stupidity in the name of sincerity and I do kill you, then I have kept my promise, true. But what will be my karma?

They are your parents, true. But if they deliberately try to create additional confusion in your life, then why should you allow them? Already you have enough insecurity, enough doubt, enough weakness. Why should you drink in more poison just because they happen to be your parents? So you have to see whether they are allowing you to go in your own way or not. If your parents are not progressing, then you are under no obligation to see them. If you listen to the inner dictates of your soul, the Supreme will tell you when to go and visit parents and when it is not advisable to go. If you find it difficult to listen to your soul, just weigh the pros and cons and use your wisdom and common sense.

Question: It seems that if you really love someone, then you ought to go against what they initially want for themselves and give them what they don't even know they need.

Sri Chinmoy: No, that is wrong. Everything should be done at the proper time. If you pluck a fruit from the tree and eat it while it is still unripe, the result will be most deplorable. You always have to wait for the right moment to pick the fruit. Similarly, if someone is fast asleep spiritually and you go and shake him and try to make him get up, he will just kick you. Then you will feel miserable. He will say, “Leave me alone. I want to sleep.” Since you are awake, you can get up and do whatever you want to do. But you have to allow him to sleep, since sleep is what is giving him joy. If a person is old enough to make his own choices, then you cannot force him to accept what you feel is best.

Question: What if your child is very active and his energy is taking away from your energy? You really can't speak to him, because he doesn't understand, so what do you do to try to calm his vibrations?

Sri Chinmoy: Play some spiritual music. If your child is very active, making noise and so on, he will see music as a friend, as somebody to talk to. When he hears spiritual music, you will see that he is playing with the music. He will feel that he has a friend just beside him, a friend that is as dynamic as he is. So, when the two friends are playing together, then the mother can go into some other room to pray and meditate. Music is the best thing.

Question: How can I stop being so attached to my physical family?

Sri Chinmoy: If the North Pole is your goal, and not the South Pole, then naturally you will run towards the North Pole. If you want to go to the North Pole but, at the same time, if you have an inner desire to be an object of attraction to the South Pole, then you will always be attached. The day that you can feel that you do not need affection, love, appreciation, admiration or concern from your family is the day that you will stop being attached to them. That does not mean that I am asking you to give up all connection with your family. Far from it. I never ask young boys and girls to leave their parents. But if you feel that their behaviour is detrimental to your spiritual life, then it is up to you to decide which is more important.

Often I see that if disciples go to visit their parents even for two hours, when they come back they are like totally different people. Their consciousness has fallen to such an extent that it is beyond your imagination. But again, they depend on their parents’ financial assistance. They are students and they cannot support themselves. Since their parents support them, then naturally they are under some obligation. But if someone feels that he is not in any way under an obligation to his parents, and if his parents are discouraging his spiritual life, then why should he continue any unnecessary connection with them?

If they are totally against your spiritual life, then what is the use of mixing with them? What is the difference between an enemy and someone who deliberately tries to prevent you from making spiritual progress? An enemy will always stand against you so that you cannot fulfil your wishes. If your parents also consciously or even unconsciously stand against you, then you have to be very careful. If you know that your parents are dead against your spiritual life, and if you feel that the spiritual life is the only life you want, then you will have to do what you know is best for your spiritual life.

Question: Christ said in the Gospels that he was about his Father's business. He said this to his own mother when she went out and looked for him. Is this what you are trying to bring out — that if the soul knows it has a mission and it meets with opposition from the parents, it must calmly put the parents aside, not unjustly so, but because it must fulfil something, even though the parents don't understand?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, if the soul is conscious of its mission, then God is first, not the father or mother. While fulfilling God, you will see that the parents are automatically fulfilled. If the parents have to be considered first, if you want to please your parents first, then you will never be able to fulfil God. In such cases, when the soul is determined to fulfil its mission, the first thing is to please the inner Divinity God. When God is pleased, automatically your parents will be pleased in an inner way. But if you start with your parents, if you want to satisfy your parents’ outer demands first and then go to God, you will see that you can never satisfy your parents. Their demands will be countless. God will not be at all dissatisfied if you want to think of your parents, but do not expect that you will ever be able to satisfy them in an outer way. They are caught by ignorance. When you try to satisfy ignorance, there is no end to its demands. Ignorance says: “Do this, do that, do this…”

If you can satisfy God, your parents will eventually be satisfied because you will be satisfying the light. Once light is fulfilled, everything is fulfilled, because with light there is no demand. Light is a spontaneous growth and a spontaneous fulfilment, whereas darkness is a constantly devouring hunger. Darkness only crushes and destroys. Light only expands and fulfils.

Question: When they go to the soul's world, do parents realise that their children were doing the right thing by accepting your path?

Sri Chinmoy: They do not have to go to the soul’s world. When they are sitting in a meditative or contemplative mood, immediately they know that you are doing the right thing, but their ego and their jealousy do not allow them to admit it. Even in a dream perhaps they will see that their children are doing absolutely the right thing, but they do not want to admit it. If they admit it, then they will be embarrassed because previously they were wrong.

Good parents only want happiness for their children. Unfortunately, they sometimes become jealous when they see that their children’s happiness is coming from a different source and not from them. They wanted to give happiness to their children and they could not. But from an Indian the children are getting it. This the parents find difficult to bear.

Question: If parents sincerely accept the spiritual life, do they try to be detached from their children's lives, or do they still retain the attached love?

Sri Chinmoy: Before the parents accepted the spiritual life, their prayer was always: “Please, God, grant that our children listen to us.” Then, when the parents become sincerely spiritual, they do not pray to God with that kind of prayer. They simply say: “Please fulfil them in Your own way. Please let my children do the right thing; not what I want from them, but what You want from them. I want nothing from them. I want everything from You.” When they pray that their children should do the right thing, then automatically detachment comes.

Question: Is having pets anything like having children?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on what kind of affection you have for your pet. If you keep something near you, you have to show it affection and love. But at the same time, you have to know that there is something else called attachment. Affection is very good. God is full of Affection, full of Compassion; but He is not attached. Our difficulty is that when we use the term compassion, we are only fooling ourselves. We say that we are showing compassion, but if we go deep within we see that it is all attachment. Only God has Compassion.

You have to know how much time you spend on your dog or cat, and how much time you spend on meditation. When the dog takes up your time, do you feel the presence of God inside the dog? Do you feel that you are serving God in him? If you say yes, then it is wonderful. While you are feeding the dog, if you feel that the dog is not your God but that inside the dog is the Presence of God, then it is all right. But do not let your pet become the first and foremost object of love and adoration. If you are attached to your dog or cat, if he takes all your attention, then it is like being attached to your child. And this kind of attachment is not at all good.

Question: What is the best thing I can give to my child?

Sri Chinmoy: The best thing you can give your child is your daily utterance of the Supreme’s name. Early in the morning repeat “Supreme” seven times in front of the child. Place your hand on his heart lightly and repeat “Supreme” very soulfully. In the evening do it again. This is the best thing.

Question: What is the best way to bring up a child to realise God?

Sri Chinmoy: If a child can speak, then the best way is to teach the child first and foremost to say “Supreme”. If that is done, then the child can start praying. The child will make the fastest progress from example. If the parents are praying and meditating together, the child should not be left in another room. The child should observe what the parents are doing. If the parents always do the right thing, the spiritual thing, then the child will imitate them. If the mother drinks milk, immediately the child will drink it. Whatever the child is taught by the parents, he learns. When parents make progress, automatically the child also makes progress.

Part III — Education:

Question: Could you speak about the education of young children, particularly in a society where spirituality is not emphasized?

Sri Chinmoy: All the parents have to forgive me, but I wish to say that in America parents always think that they have to give their children what they have: money-power. But when it is a matter of love-power, most American parents have not given it to their children. They have given money or they have given a life of comfort and other things. But there is a great difference between a life of comfort and a life of love. There are places on earth where people are poor, and they cannot afford to give their children comfort. But they have given their children the real treasure of the love which they have and which they are.

Children should be given constant love, constant concern. But here in America, parents often confuse lack of discipline with love and concern. When a child is seven or eight years old, parents try to be very wise. They say to themselves that since America is the land of freedom, their children should have freedom. They do not try to teach their own ideals to their children; they say the children must make up their own minds. But this is a terrible mistake. The parents have themselves made many mistakes in life, and by making mistakes they have come to know to some extent what is good and what is bad. If they really love their children, they will tell their children, “Look, I was also your age once, and I made many, many mistakes. Now I am older and I know what is true and what is false, what is good and what is bad. So I wish you to profit from my experience.”

Human wisdom may say that what is good for the parents may not be good for their children, but here I disagree. When you have a child, you give your child milk, because you know that it is nutritious. You do not say, “I do not know what is good for him, so let me not give him anything. When the time comes, he will make his own choice, his own selection.” By that time your child will die. When it is a matter of physical food for your child, you feed him whatever you feel is best because you do not want him to die. At that time, you do not allow the child to choose what he needs. No, you are wise enough to feed the child what you feel is best.

On the spiritual plane, parents often do not feed their child’s soul. They say that they do not know which path their child will want, which church he needs or what kind of prayer is best for him, so they do not teach him anything. But what the parents feel is best for their own inner lives, they should also feel is good for their children. Unfortunately, here in America, children are not taught enough about the spiritual life. On the physical plane they get a kind of freedom to find their own path. If they need money, they are given money. But when it is a matter of deep love and concern, they do not get it. And when it is a matter of strict spiritual discipline, inner discipline, they are certainly not getting it. The children are not properly moulded with inner or outer discipline. Children must be taught on the spiritual plane as well as on the physical or mental plane.

Freedom is available, but who deserves freedom? He who obeys the inner law. If you obey the inner law, if you listen to the dictates of your inner being, then you can enjoy freedom. You enjoy freedom on the outer plane precisely because you listen to a higher authority, which is your own higher self. When you do not listen to your higher self, you realise that you are totally limited and bound. When you identify yourself with your children, you can feel that since you have more wisdom and experience, you are the higher self of the children. You are part and parcel of their existence, but you are more conscious; therefore, you are in a position to guide them. These same children will one day grow up and then they will be in a position to guide and mould their own children. But when children are given freedom before they have any inner wisdom, this freedom is not good.

We are all spiritual people here. God has given us aspiration. That is why every day we pray to God and offer Him gratitude. Just because we have accepted the spiritual life, we already know what God has given us out of His infinite Bounty, and we are grateful to Him. But in the ordinary world, most of the time people are ungrateful. Children also are ungrateful to their parents. True, if the parents go on, go on pouring love into their children, they will see that in days to come the children will offer them gratitude. But real parents do not care for gratitude. They feel that to love their children is their duty. God is constantly showering His choicest Blessings on us, and He never cares for our gratitude. He cares only for His giving. When He is giving, He is happy. In this world, happiness comes only from giving. Parents should give what they have. If they have money-power, they should give that. But love-power is infinitely more important. The child’s heart and soul do not care for money. Money-power will come and go. The child cares for the mother’s heart, the father’s heart. If he gets love-power from his parents, then he is eternally and divinely bound by his parents and he himself binds his parents in the same way.

Children should constantly be given the love-power, the heart-power. This is the most important thing. And it has to be done unconditionally, not with the feeling of an inner bargain. Children have to be loved unconditionally. If the mother thinks that she will love her child when he is four so that when he is twenty-five years old, he will give her money and bring her material comfort, then I have to say that this kind of bargain in the inner life is absurd. The mother and father should give everything to the child unconditionally. Parents should expect nothing in return for their love. Just give for the sake of giving, and if it is God’s Will, your children will give in return. Even if your children do not give in return, at least one Person will never remain ungrateful and that Person is God. He will try to please the parents in a divine way, in His own Way.

Freedom we are giving to our children because freedom we have. But is this freedom helping them? No, not if they do not know how to discipline their lives. First we have to teach them inner and outer discipline. Parents sometimes act out of false modesty, saying that they do not know what is best for their children. True, in comparison to a spiritual Master or a Yogi, the parents may know nothing. But in comparison to their children, they know much more. This is what they have to feel.

Every day parents should pray to God and meditate on God to illumine them so they will not misguide their children. And the illumination they get, the parents have to offer to the children. When the children grow up, at that time they will have some wisdom to make their own choices. Then they may discard the views of their parents. But if the parents wait for the children to grow up before teaching them anything about the spiritual life, that is wrong. That approach does not work. If children are not properly moulded when they are very tender, then when they grow up, they take to drugs and do many undivine things. At that time it is too late. At that time the parents claim, “I didn’t teach him to do these things.” But unfortunately they gave him the wrong kind of freedom.

Here we are all seekers, we are spiritual people. Spiritual parents immediately have to teach their children their own spiritual philosophy. After ten or fifteen years, when the children have some maturity, then they can change their views.

Question: How should I meditate before I enter a classroom to teach?

Sri Chinmoy: Please meditate on the Supreme of each student of yours. You do not have to meditate on each student individually, but try to feel them all as one being meditating right in front of you. When you feel the presence of the Supreme inside the students, please feel that the Supreme in them is learning from the Supreme within you. You have to feel that the Supreme within you is the elder brother. If the elder brother teaches the younger ones, slowly and steadily they will get the wisdom of the elder brother. If you can feel what they are, then you will be able to see that they are part and parcel of what you are.

Question: How can I best serve the Supreme in the children that I teach?

Sri Chinmoy: You can best serve the Supreme in the children when you feel extremely grateful to Him for giving you the opportunity to teach children. When you teach children, you are given the opportunity to become a child yourself. You may be twenty-two or twenty-three, but your aim is to become a child, an eternal child in the spiritual life, so that you can make constant progress. If you are constantly grateful to the Supreme, and if the children remind you of your eternal childhood, then you will make the fastest progress.

When you teach children, do not think that the school authorities are paying you and that is why you are serving. No, you are serving the children because you want to become another child. If the children offer you a smile, feel that that smile comes from the Supreme. Each time a child smiles, it is the expansion of God’s Dream-Reality on earth. If you remember that, then you will be able to serve the Supreme most soulfully and constantly.

Question: When we have a choice between using our time for our studies or for spiritual things, which should we choose?

Sri Chinmoy: It is up to the individual soul. Some people do not want to study. I have searched their souls, and the souls do not want it. To some I have said, “You have to study.” Their souls want it. In your case, you need to devote your time and attention to spirituality. Spirituality must come first. You must have time for meditation, for selfless service.

For outer information you have lots of time, but for the inner life you have no time. But I wish to say that the spiritual life can easily be practised along with your outer life. Each day you can give two hours for meditation and one hour for selfless service. Everybody can give this much time. Some people will read all sorts of undivine things when their school work is over. They spend time on films, TV, comics and rubbish from the outer world instead of doing spiritual things.

Practising spirituality is like exercising a muscle or like learning to read. It develops with practice. It must not suffer because of your outer studies. I once had a great friend. He and his brother became disciples of a spiritual Master. The brother used to study seven to ten hours a day, and my friend would study only for two or three hours; then he would just repeat his Guru’s name. He depended on his Guru’s grace to get him through his exams. The brother once asked the Guru which was better, and he said, “It is a matter of faith. You have faith in yourself and your brother has faith in my capacity to help him pass the examination.”

The brother who studied long hours was a fool. The day will come when the outer school life will be over, and then he will have developed only one capacity: to study. But the other brother has all along been developing two capacities: studying and meditating. In the spiritual life we do many things at a time. I do ten or eleven things at the same time. You can study for hours without learning anything, but when your mind is calm and quiet for one hour, you can do what would otherwise take you ten hours to accomplish.

Question: I'm a student. How can I study and still keep God before me?

Sri Chinmoy: It is very easy. You have to be aware of your purpose in studying. If you are studying to get a diploma, to be recognised by everyone and to make yourself feel that you are the wisest person on earth, then you will not be able to keep God before you. But if you are studying to please God, to serve God better, then with each line that you read, you must keep that idea in your mind. You have to feel all the time that there is someone watching you. While you are studying you have to feel that God is just beside you. You are a little child and your Father is watching to see whether you are studying or not. God is your eternal Father and Mother. He is always watching you invisibly.

Studying need not be an obstruction in the spiritual path; it can be a help. Studying demands discipline. If you want to do well in school, you have to discipline yourself. The capacity that you acquire in a few years of study you can also apply to your spiritual life. Discipline in any walk of life has to be appreciated and admired. Discipline is a divine instrument if it is applied to a divine purpose. Discipline is strength. In your student-life you have an opportunity to develop this strength which will be of great help to you in your spiritual life.

Study itself is a kind of service. From now on you have to take your study as a form of service to God. If you study well, if you get good marks and keep a devoted consciousness, then through your study in that particular field you are pleasing God. Today He wants you to study, and tomorrow He may ask you to do something else. In each field you have to please God in His own Way.

Question: Many disciples are teachers and some are planning to be teachers. How can we best offer our spirituality to the children we are with?

Sri Chinmoy: The best thing you can teach children is the result of your own spiritual life. Just offer them the results of your own life. Your own life is the best book. If they feel in you a divine vibration, this is the best lesson they can get. You will become divine, and they will inherit your divinity. If the teacher has divinity, the children will get it.

Question: Is it necessary for my growth to study anything?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not necessary for you to enter into outer study for your inner growth. It is only necessary for you to increase your love, devotion and surrender. To continue outer study is not necessary in most cases, but your inner study has to increase every day, every hour, every minute, every second, so that you can become a perfect instrument of the Supreme. Not just you, but everybody must increase his inner studies.

Question: At this point I am planning to go to college next year, and the only living arrangements I can really afford are in a dormitory, where the only room they will assign me is a double room with another person. Is this bad?

Sri Chinmoy: Here it is unavoidable. You have to see the necessity. If you have to study and this is the only thing that you can do, only pray to the Supreme that your roommate will be spiritual. What else can you do? You are helpless in this matter.

Part IV — Technology and science

Question: Matter is made up of atoms. Is spirit also made up of certain atoms?

Sri Chinmoy: Matter is made up of atoms, true, but inside matter spirit is there, the Supreme is there. Spirit is not made up of atoms. You can see the body, but you cannot see the soul.

The transcendental spirit does not act like matter. An atom can be broken into fragments, but the transcendental Spirit remains always infinite, boundless. Spirit cannot be broken into pieces. The eternal Silence of the unmanifested Spirit cannot be broken into pieces. But the sound-life can be broken into pieces because it is only the creation. Matter is the creation in which slow and steady evolution is taking place. Spirit is the Source. The Source cannot be separated or made into fragments. The Source is eternally inseparable. Only the creation can be broken into pieces.

Question: Does a strong involvement with technology mitigate against our realisation of God?

Sri Chinmoy: Technology as such does not stand against realisation, but we have to know how we deal with technology. Science, the purest science, does not negate God. But the scientist may think that the universe was created by science or that he can do without God, because with scientific research he is making the atom bomb and the hydrogen bomb. Whatever he wants, he thinks he can get from science and he is satisfied with his scientific achievements. But we have to know that there is something called inner realisation, Self-realisation. For that we have to do something else. We have to do inner research, not scientific research.

What technology offers to the world need never stand against God-realisation. But from technology and science we cannot expect God-realisation. God-realisation is inner oneness with the highest absolute Truth. For that we have to master and go beyond the senses. We have to conquer our senses; we have to have perfect control over the senses. In this way we can transcend our limitations and attain the highest oneness with the Absolute. This oneness with the highest Absolute, technology does not aim at; and this is the problem. But if you want to see the existence of God in technology, I wish to say that it is absolutely possible. God does exist in technology. God exists in everything.

With technology you can have great, greater, greatest success, but that success is not the success of God-realisation. God-realisation is totally different. Neither the self-realised person nor God-realisation itself will ever stand against the achievements of science and technology. At the same time, God-realisation does not expect science and technology to stand in its way. There is no harm if you are interested in technology and science; only you have to know what you expect to get from them. If you are looking for the absolute transcendental Truth, you will not get it there. You have to go deep within yourself for God-discovery. When you have discovered yourself, you have discovered the highest Truth, and that Truth is God.

There is no necessary barrier between a seeker and a technologist, but one has to know what one is aspiring for. Once one has realised one’s conscious oneness with God, there is nothing else to cry for, for then one is self-sufficient. In the case of technology, one may be thoroughly conversant with it, one may get the utmost result from it, but there will still be a cry, an inner cry, for something more. That “something more” will not come from technology. What technology can offer it will certainly offer, but only God-realisation can satisfy that inner cry. In realisation there is no feeling of loss or gain. You do not feel that you have lost something or gained something, but rather that you have become something, that you are one with something.

Question: You told us about a disciple of yours who is a psychiatrist. Why does she believe in spirituality?

Sri Chinmoy: A psychiatrist can easily believe in spirituality. She comes to a spiritual person, to me, because she knows that I can convince her of the existence of the inner life. She gives joy to others, she convinces others, but she cannot convince herself. When others come to her, she interprets their dreams. She has the capacity to convince their minds. But when it is a matter of her own personal problems, she does not know how to solve them and she knows it.

She is sincere enough to know that it is spirituality that has the inner wisdom to solve all our problems, and that it alone can kindle our true consciousness. And for spirituality she comes to me. She knows that she will get the real answer from me. She is so sincere that she has even sent two of her clients to me. She felt that she was not in a position to help them further. I deeply appreciate her sincerity. She is well-established and well known, and she could easily have deceived herself. But just because she is sincere, she comes to me.

Question: As far as psychology is concerned, where do the subconscious mind and the superconscious mind or the intuitive mind fit into your philosophy?

Sri Chinmoy: We talk about the subconscious mind and the superconscious mind, but there are other minds also. You are also using the term “intuitive mind”. Then there are also the overmind, the supermind and Sat-Chit-Ananda consciousness. In my philosophy I wish to say that we try to go beyond the mind. We try to purify and bring light into the subconscious mind. Then we try to go beyond, far beyond the human mind.

We all need awareness of the mind, but in my philosophy we have to go beyond awareness as well. According to my own understanding of psychology, many psychologists, especially those who follow Carl Jung’s philosophy, feel that awareness is of paramount importance. Now, the spiritual Masters also feel that awareness is absolutely necessary in the spiritual life. But after being aware of something, one has to make a conscious effort to go beyond awareness, that is to say, to have conscious aspiration.

We have nothing to say against the psychologists, but we feel that aspiration is a much higher goal. Spiritual seekers feel that aspiration is one rung above mental awareness. Awareness is a very complicated and big word, true. But conscious aspiration is something deeper and higher than awareness.

Unconsciously everybody knows who God is and where God is: He is either in Heaven or on earth or somewhere else. This is our unconscious awareness. But when we enter into aspiration, we become conscious of God’s existence. At that time we can make much faster progress. How many times have I moved my hands here and there while I was talking to you? But only if I make a conscious effort will I be able to develop my arm muscles. So there has to be awareness, and also there has to be the inner urge to make progress. Awareness alone is not enough. Aspiration must come to our rescue, and we have to make a conscious effort. Aspiration is the most important thing. We start our journey with aspiration and we end our journey with realisation. Today’s aspiration is transformed into tomorrow’s realisation.

Many years ago I studied Freud and Jung, and last year I studied an authority on Jung’s philosophy and psychology. There I found that they have come to the conclusion that awareness is all; they do not go any farther. I agree that awareness is of immense help to an ordinary human being. But spiritual seekers have to go beyond awareness. We have to make a conscious effort; and that conscious effort we call aspiration, inner aspiration. Otherwise, even if we are aware of the truth, the truth will not be of any use to us. I have got a body, true. But if I do not consciously try to improve it, then it will not make any progress.

Question: If a student is studying science and is leading a spiritual life, how should he view science?

Sri Chinmoy: He should view science as an opportunity to manifest his realisations. The student should not view science as only microbes. He must feel that in the laboratory he is dealing with aspiring life, with growing, changing consciousness. When he is studying or conducting an experiment, he should feel that he is fulfilling his realisations from his spiritual life, that he is bringing down his meditation into the world itself. Through meditation we go high, higher, highest to discover the reality, Through science we manifest and spread the reality all over the world. In meditation we see the truth; in science we fulfil the truth.

Question: An anthropologist studies his brother human beings, but does he know anything about the soul?

Sri Chinmoy: In this world everybody has a profession or vocation of his own. But an anthropologist also has to become a seeker if he wants to know anything about the soul. When he seeks light, truth and bliss, naturally he is bound to get them. No matter which profession he follows, when he becomes a seeker, he will be able to feel the presence of the soul and see the soul. Then he will be able to execute the will of the soul, even in his profession.

He has become an anthropologist because he studied that subject. Similarly, if he prays and meditates, he will also get the result of his inner study. An anthropologist he has become by studying something in the outer life. A seeker he will become if he practises something in the inner life. When he gets peace, light and bliss in abundant measure, he will easily be able to come into contact with the soul. Then he can do anything. With the light of the soul he can fulfil all his dreams in the field of anthropology.

Question: I was talking with a scientifically minded friend of mine regarding creation versus evolution, and he was on the side of creation rather than evolution. He was saying that there are not any links between species. Each species is intact. Is this true?

Sri Chinmoy: Creation is continuous. There is evolution, but it is in the soul; it is the evolution of the soul in matter. The soul starts its journey in the Silence-world. While it is evolving, in each incarnation the soul receives light. As long as there is continuous creation in a human incarnation, the body can stay on earth. When creation stops, after seventy or eighty years, then the body dies. What remains is the eternal soul. The soul is evolving through mineral, plant, animal and human life.

Question: These people say that between fish and reptiles there is no link, that they don't grow into birds or mammals.

Sri Chinmoy: Why should there be links? If you live in one house and then go to live in some other house, it does not mean that both the houses have to have some physical connection. Today you can pass through New York or Connecticut because they are right next to each other. But if you want to visit another state, it doesn’t have to be adjacent to either of them. Creation is separate from the soul’s evolution. While you are in this house, you are evolving; while in another house you are also evolving. The soul can take one incarnation as a bird and another incarnation as a lion. But that does not mean that birds and lions have any link.

Question: Does an invention exist in the inner world before it is discovered outwardly?

Sri Chinmoy: From the highest spiritual point of view, in God’s universal Vision there is no such thing as an invention. There is only the one spiritual Reality that is being manifested. Within our Supreme Beloved’s all-pervading, all-illumining, transcendental Vision what can be invented or discovered? Here on earth we have the mind and earthly organs and measurements to facilitate our discoveries. Very often in the inner world we will find something that will lead us to a discovery in the outer world. But in the inmost world there is no invention. There it is all oneness with the highest Reality; there is only creation. Each movement of God is a creation. He creates millions of realities at each second. Then, when we come down to the earth plane, invention starts. But in the highest transcendental Reality there is no invention.

Question: When somebody invents something, is the Supreme giving it to him?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. The Supreme, out of His infinite Kindness, gives the individual the invention. It is actually a discovery of something that is already there. If you look for something in your room, you can discover it only if it is there. How can someone invent something out of the blue? The human instrument gets the glory, but the Supreme is utilising him.

Question: Can man speed discovery?

Sri Chinmoy: The Supreme does everything, but if someone aspires to make something more accessible, then the Supreme may help him.

Question: What about bad inventions, like the hydrogen bomb?

Sri Chinmoy: Everything is an experience. The hydrogen bomb is destruction. If we want that kind of experience, we can have it. God has given us limited freedom. We are like a child who is playing with a knife. We can either use the knife to stab someone or to cut a piece of fruit.

Question: What part does imagination play in scientific discovery?

Sri Chinmoy: When the mind surrenders to imagination, at that time the real creation comes forward. The scientist works very hard for many years. Then, when the mind cannot go any farther, he surrenders to a higher force which he calls imagination. Imagination is the reality beyond the mind and beyond matter.

Question: I would like to know if the advent of the electric light has had any effect on people's inner light.

Sri Chinmoy: The electric light and the inner light are two totally different things. The electric light cannot affect the inner light. First of all, when we touch an electric light or bulb, the electricity can give us a tremendous shock, or the heat of the bulb can burn us. But when it is a matter of the inner light, we can touch it, we can feel it and we can bathe in it; but this light will never burn us. It will only illumine us.

Electric light is only in the physical world. It is absolutely limited. But the inner light is unlimited. The effect of the electric light at any moment can be destruction. But the inner light can never destroy us. Its very function is to illumine. The inner light actually comes from the very depth of our soul, and this light is the food of our outer existence too. If one depends on the inner light, then one’s outer life also will be fed and illumined by this inner light. But the electric light cannot enter into our inner existence. It begins in the physical plane and it ends in the physical plane. But the inner light comes out to grasp or envelop the outer life and then transforms the outer existence. This is the difference between the electric light and the inner light.

Question: Is it always best for doctors to keep people alive as long as possible, or does it depend on the individual case?

Sri Chinmoy: If a person is spiritual, the doctors and relatives should always try to keep him on earth as long as possible, because spiritual people are always fighting against death. But it may happen that somebody who is absolutely useless is going to die in two hours. Even if you keep him on earth for twenty-four hours more, he is not going to utter God’s name even once. But if somebody has the capacity to utter God’s name soulfully just once more during his life, then he will achieve something in the soul’s world. That achievement will be added to the other achievements of this life and in his next incarnation his life will be a little bit better.

In India some people live for over two hundred years, but they do not have time to pray to God even once in six months or a year. From a spiritual point of view, these people are like a solid piece of stone. For them each additional year is just another waste of time. But if one can stay on earth even one hour more and invoke the presence of the Supreme during that hour, then naturally it is better for that person to stay on earth. Even unconsciously if someone is thinking of God, then it is better for him to stay as long as possible on earth. That is why doctors should not give drugs that will make the patient unconscious, or put animals to sleep. It is very, very bad.

Question: If the doctors kill a patient who is supposed to remain alive, will they get bad karma?

Sri Chinmoy: When doctors consciously do something wrong, they create wonderful problems for their future incarnations. Doctors are not perfect; they may not know enough about medical science. If they make a mistake and accidentally kill a patient, their ignorance is forgiven by the Supreme. Again, if they cannot pay sufficient attention because they have too many patients, the Supreme sees whether or not it is their fault. But if they deliberately kill someone just to get rid of the patient, then the law of karma is there to take care of them.

Question: There is a girl who has been totally unconscious for weeks. She can live for years with no consciousness. What about a case like that?

Sri Chinmoy: If there is even the least hope that the life-force is operating in and through the person, the best thing is to try to keep her on earth. As long as the soul is in the body, then there is hope for the person. For five months if the person stays on earth, there is some purpose.

Question: They're not trying to bring her back to consciousness; they're just keeping her body alive. They say her brain is not functioning at all. There are no brain waves.

Sri Chinmoy: They should continue because the life-energy is not totally extinct; it is still operating. Even if the machine is pumping, if the soul is not there, the machine cannot keep the body alive for more than a few hours. When the vibration of the soul remains, even if somebody has left the house, you will feel his lingering presence. Similarly, the heart keeps pumping because the vibration of the soul still remains. Some members of the family may want her to die just so that they do not have to go through so much trouble and expense.

Question: Is there any reason for this kind of experience?

Sri Chinmoy: The Supreme is using His law of karma. Suppose the parents have done something seriously wrong to this girl in a previous incarnation. Now the soul says, “All right, in this incarnation I am going to purify you. I will linger and linger and linger. You will have to pay the penalty for your wrong action. In this incarnation I am taking revenge.” If the soul knows that the patient is not going to be cured, and if the family members know, then at that time it is revenge.

Either the soul is enjoying the experience, or it is waiting for the right moment to leave, or it is just having an experience. We feel that the person is really dead, but who knows what kind of experience the soul is having? Instead of five minutes, this can go on for five years. Anything is possible. Again, it may not be a healthy experience, but the soul wants to go through it. Ordinary human beings often do something for many years just to show the world that it is possible, but that very thing need not be encouraging or inspiring.

Question: Are we really responsible for the extinction of animals, for pollution and for the destruction of the world? We are rationally physically killing ourselves and the world. Is this God's Will?

Sri Chinmoy: It is a combination of ignorance and the karma of previous incarnations that is responsible. It is not God’s Will to destroy. God’s Will is to love us and to fulfil us. Our will, instead of fulfilling God, is to try to destroy each other and, at the same time, to destroy God’s Plan. God’s Plan cannot be destroyed, but we do not know how it operates. Since God is all-forgiving, He will wait and wait for us to learn. He has infinite Patience, eternal Patience.

Question: Is God worried about the population explosion?

Sri Chinmoy: God has many others to think of the population. God is only worried about lack of aspiration, not increase in population.

Part V — Drugs and alcohol

Question: Do drug experiences have any validity at all?

Sri Chinmoy: Drug experiences are like a false coin. It is as though you are a little child who has no money. Then you see a wonderful coin. You know it is a coin because you see the shape, and you are delighted that you have got some money so easily. But it is a false coin. If you bring it to a shopkeeper he will beat you or throw you out of the store. He will not accept it. You will find that your coin is worthless and you cannot buy anything with it.

Question: Should marijuana be legalised, so you can buy it in stores instead of having it be illegal?

Sri Chinmoy: If the country feels that it has descended so far that it has touched rock-bottom and it cannot go further down, then it should be legalised. If the country feels that it has not yet touched rock-bottom, that still there is an iota of hope that we will see the effulgence of light and realise that God does exist, then it must not be legalised. We have to know what we expect from ourselves. If we expect nothing, absolutely nothing, if we think that we are nothing, our forefathers were nothing and our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be nothing, then it should be legalised. But if we feel that we were something and that we can become something greater, then we must stop. We must not legalise marijuana.

We have to know the needs of the soul and the desires of the body. The body will always remain unconscious of its true needs. The soul will always be conscious of its needs, but if the soul is weak, it will not be able to fulfil its needs. But once the soul is able to fulfil its needs, it will not allow the body to remain unfulfilled. It will compel the body to fulfil its true needs.

It depends entirely on the standard of the country. It is the standard of the country that makes its fate. On the one hand, America has gone very, very fast in the spiritual life. On the other hand, there are now two fruits being offered to it. One fruit is most delicious; the other one is rotten. Just because the two fruits are side by side, after eating the delicious food voraciously, we try to taste the other food. But a wise man will know that only the delicious fruit, only the food that is good, should be eaten.

We want to remain as divine and pure as possible. If we look at marijuana or other destructive drugs with our inner vision, we will see that we have to go beyond them. It is not through experience that we will transcend them, but through aspiration. Millions of experiences which you people have had, I do not have on the ordinary human level. But with my occult and spiritual vision, and with my universal oneness, I can see them, feel them and become one with them. There are people who say that you have to go through the experiences in order to know them. But I do not have to smoke marijuana in order to know what it tastes like or what its effect is. I just identify myself with someone who has done it. When I identify with my soul’s light, I am not at all affected, but I get the experience. Millions of experiences I have gotten from my disciples just on the strength of my identification. Then I have gone far beyond those experiences.

One does not have to go through an experience in order to say, “I know it because I have personal experience.” Personal experience is not like that. On the strength of yogic development, spiritual development, you can have the personal experience of everything you want. So I am telling you that it is not at all necessary for seekers to go through this experience. It is not at all advisable. When you realise God, all experiences are at your disposal. God-realisation is the supreme experience. At the feet of that experience, all the experiences are there. Once you have God-realisation, all the rest of the experiences are at your command.

Question: Can you explain to us in what way marijuana is worse than alcohol, which is legal, because there is a big debate going on that marijuana is no worse than alcohol?

Sri Chinmoy: Marijuana is not as old as alcohol in the experience of the Western world. I am not justifying alcohol, which is very bad, but if my great-grandfather formed a bad habit by eating something, and he taught that habit to my grandfather, who taught it to my father, then to some extent it becomes normal in the family. It is in the family blood. Then it is accepted out of necessity. There are many practices which are wrong from the spiritual point of view, but they have very ancient origins, so gradually they have become something normal. From the spiritual point of view, once we know what is wrong, it has to be extinguished, eradicated from our life. But the government and society are not paying attention to alcohol just because it has a very long-standing origin. Millions of people have been drinking alcohol for centuries.

But this marijuana business has just sprung up in the last few years; therefore, it is not yet a chronic disease. But it can become a chronic disease like the other one. Alcohol has been accepted for so long that now we are unable to get rid of it. But marijuana is something new with the present generation. The children take it and the parents violently object. They feel it is something wrong. Right now opposition is there. So while it is still something new and there is opposition, it is easier to pay attention to the right thing and get rid of this bad habit before it also becomes impossible to break.

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