Secrets of the inner world

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Occultism

Occultism is something one-pointed, like the point of a spear. It can be dynamic or aggressive, divinely powerful or supremely arrogant. It can be black magic of the worst kind and, again, it can be the highest occultism which is called immediate achievement or immediate fulfilment. For a true spiritual seeker who may take quite a few incarnations or even sixty or eighty years to realise God, occultism is not only unnecessary but also dangerous. Occultism in the lowest vital plane, which is called black magic, is nothing but dreadful poison. So I want all of you to have nothing to do with black magic.

The occultism that is used sometimes side by side with spiritual power is also dangerous. Very often, the so-called occultists become victims of their own deeds. They are simply standing on a rope; at any moment they can fall and break their legs. Very often these so-called occultists use the astral tube, which is in the subtle body. But if the subtle tube gives way, at that time life also comes to an end. Many people have lost their lives while using the astral tube or have lost their mental balance for good. Then they act like mad elephants.

Then, there are occultists who work in the vital plane, using the spirits or ghosts of distant relatives. These spirits constantly want to, you can say, serve their lord, but if the lord has nothing further to give them, then they come and strangle and kill him. This is what happens very often in the lives of the so-called occultists.

There is a funny story I am sure most of you know. There was once an occultist who used to tell people about their future or the happenings in their past and many other juicy stories. But he used to take help from spirits. The condition was that he had to give work to the spirits constantly; if he could not give work to them for some time, then the spirits would come and strangle him.

Now a time came when the occultist had nothing to ask the spirits to do for him. The spirits got furious and wanted to kill the occultist in the vital world. So the occultist came and took the shelter of a Yogi. And the Yogi said, "Please keep a dog right in front of you and ask the spirits to keep the tail straight all the time. There the spirits were caught. As soon as the tail was straightened, it curved up again. The moral of the story is that our human nature is always prone to crookedness, wickedness and lower propensities.

There are some occult powers which are innocent, harmless, productive and really helpful. These occult powers you can get the moment your centres start opening — the six major centres and the crown centre. The moment one centre is fully open, you can rest assured that you will have a little bit of occult knowledge, occult power and intuitive capacity from the occult world. But again, you have to know how you are utilising these occult powers. If you utilise the occult power out of curiosity to know what is happening in somebody's life, what she is doing now, what he is doing now — then you are misusing it. If you use it when the divine in you, the Supreme in you, your soul, tells you or inspires you to help somebody in awakening his consciousness, only then are you doing the right thing.

If you follow the path of Kundalini Yoga, you can develop these occult powers. But for that you have to be extremely pure, pure, pure. Your name should be nothing else but purity. If your outer life and inner life are all purity within and without, then occult power is a blessing. Otherwise, occult power is a veritable curse. In the case of my disciples, I wish all of you to go deep within and offer your love, devotion and surrender to the Supreme. He is our eternal Father, Mother, Brother and Sister; all our relations we have with Him. So let Him pilot us. If he wants to give us occult power, He will give. If He wants to give us spiritual power, which is of infinitely more importance than occult power, that also He will give us. Let us not deal with occultism at this stage of our spiritual journey. Some of you are beginners, real beginners, some of you are a little advanced, but none of you are so advanced right now — I beg to be excused — that you can without difficulty enter into the occult world. If any of you actually are in a position to enter into the occult world, I will be the first person to teach you from the beginning to the end. But my business is right now only to take you to the Supreme. Then the Supreme will give everything to you.

Questions and answers

Question: Are male and female ghosts equally bad?

Sri Chinmoy: Female ghosts are more mischievous than male ghosts; the male ghosts are usually not so destructive. Often the female ghosts take a mother's form. One disciple's mother died many years ago. One day he happened to be walking along the street near a park, when he saw the image of his mother at a distance. But it was really a female ghost. When he went closer to see his 'mother', she gave him a kick and for three days he was in the hospital. He couldn't talk to his wife or child. He was all the time trembling. If he saw his own face in a glass of water, he was frightened to death. The hospital could not help him. But I did after three days. I made a circle and wrote his name there and I chanted some mantras. Then he was cured. You can't deny the existence of ghosts. You can deny God's existence because you can't see God, but how can you deny ghosts?

Question: Once I was in a lot of pain and you said that you were injecting peace into my body. I was wondering whether it is occult power or spiritual power that you use when you bring down a quality like that?

Sri Chinmoy: Peace is a spiritual power. Peace is not occult power. But you have to know that any kind of power — will power, spiritual power, occult power — can easily take away your pain. If you use your will power and make yourself feel that the pain is an experience of delight, then you will have no pain. At that time, the pain itself will bring you joy.

Question: When you put a force on someone, sometimes it remains for a few months. How do you keep the force there?

Sri Chinmoy: The disciple assimilates it. When you eat food, you assimilate the food. Likewise, you have to assimilate my blessing with gratitude. After you eat, you don't run; you lie down or remain quiet. Similarly, when you receive something spiritual — Peace, Light or Bliss — you have to remain calm and quiet for some time. Once you have assimilated it, it becomes solid; it becomes part and parcel of your existence. Once it is assimilated, it remains inside your consciousness, inside your system forever.

My force comes from the soul, but if receptivity is not there to receive it, then no assimilation takes place. Most of the time, if I use spiritual power, assimilation is accomplished very fast. Receptivity very few people have got. It pains me when even the dear ones don't receive. When eighth-class disciples don't receive, I say, "Well, they are the worst students." But when first-class disciples don't receive, then either I scold them or I feel that my power is not enough. If my power is absolutely useless for them, then how can other disciples receive it?

The son of one of my dearest disciples had leukaemia. The doctor said it was only a matter of a few hours. The hospital had given up hope; her son was dying. But compassion is such that I said, "How long will it take you to go to the hospital?" She said, "Five or ten minutes." I said, "See what happens in twenty minutes!" In half an hour, do you believe that this boy came out of his coma? For the first time, his father gave me the broadest smile. The son just waved at me with his left hand and said, "Thank you, Guru." This is human gratitude.

Question: You once said that your Bengali notebooks were lost. Can't you retrieve them with your occult power?

Sri Chinmoy: From the sea? Some were destroyed and some were lost in the sea. When things are destroyed, what can you do? I can again get them from the world where I first got them. I have that capacity, but why should I utilise it? I write now far better than I did when I wrote the epic poem in my notebooks. Why do I have to go back for it, even though it was nice?

Question: What do you mean when you speak of going back to the world where the poem came from?

Sri Chinmoy: Spiritual Masters can be thieves of the first water. They just write down what has already been written. They can see it with their inner vision. Others also, if they are in tune, can do it once or twice in their life. Tagore and others have done it. Sometimes they can go to the dream world and get it. I have at times written lying down in my bed, reading the words on the wall. The lines are coming; they are all written there. In India I wrote a few Bengali poems like that. There are worlds — a world of literature — where everything is written.

But we are not thieves. An expression comes and you write it down. But you have to know there is a place where these thoughts, ideas, formulations and poetry lines are all coming from. This is especially true for songs and poetry. You just go there and take them. It is like plucking a mango. Or you may have to wait and then the mango falls right in your lap. Some writers go there and then the fruit drops and it becomes theirs.

Question: Why doesn't that happen to me, Guru? I find it so difficult to get inspiration.

Sri Chinmoy: It is because you are standing at the foot of the tree. You are kind of begging: "I don't know how to climb, I don't know how to climb. How I wish that mango would drop." So like that, you are a beggar. You cry for inspiration. In writing a poem you may spend a few days waiting because you are unable to climb up the tree of inspiration.

Question: Is there any way you can shake the tree without climbing up?

Sri Chinmoy: You can shake me to get inspiration.

Question: If we shake you, will we get our realisation soon also?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. If you shake me you will get realisation soon. But it has to be a proper shake, so that I know who is shaking me. Sometimes the soul or spirit of somebody else will come and write a book through somebody else who is in the body. A great Master wrote a book like that. It was about a hundred-page book. In Mother India's Lighthouse, I have written an article about the person whose spirit came and actually wrote the book. But this Master took credit. He knew that it was someone else's spirit, but at first he took the credit. The first edition was published under his own name. Then later he became sincere and said, "No, it was not my writing; it was so and so who came and wrote it."

Many have done it. They ask the spirit to write down whole books — not a few pages, but hundreds of pages. The spirits will dictate and they write it all down. Then the spirit disappears; so how will anyone know that somebody else came? So the person in the physical takes the credit. Who is going to check?

Question: Does the spirit get mad if you claim it as your own?

Sri Chinmoy: That is a question that is difficult to answer. When the spirit writes through you, it hopes that you will give it credit. But if you are like me, then it will be just inner credit. I ask all of you to do things for me, and I take the credit. When I publish a book, I know how many people have helped me in so many ways; but it goes under my name: 'Sri Chinmoy.' I may not give outer credit, but there is also something called inner credit. You do something outwardly for me, and inwardly I do something for you, for all of you. Again, sometimes I do tell others what you have done: you have typed, you have corrected and so on. This I tell quite often, although sometimes I do not. But you know I do something. In the inner world I do something and also in the outer world I do something. If I really don't do anything for you and only take your help in a one-sided way, then naturally you people will be angry with me.

But, to be very frank with you, sometimes when undivine forces enter into you, then you don't feel what I am doing for you. You think, "I stayed up the whole night working for him and he does not even smile at me; he does not even give me a word of appreciation." Forces attack you, and then how hard I have to work to remove those forces. But when you remain in a divine consciousness, in the consciousness of gratitude, you definitely do feel that I do something for you. But if you don't feel that I am doing something for you, then you curse me and my forefathers: "He is only taking advantage of me. When the book is out, only 'Sri Chinmoy' is there; there is no mention of all those who helped print and publish the book. But if you are sincere, then you see that our giving is mutual, reciprocal. I am giving and you are giving. You may give in the outer world, and I may give in the inner world. But if you are not sincere, then you will not know that each of us is giving something.

To come back to your question, from the spirits' world, the spirits give help and the people on earth get the credit. If the spirit works very hard through the person who was the medium, then the spirit will say, "All right, I have given my contribution, and he is getting name and fame on earth. Now this person has to give me a push to go up." Spiritual Masters can help spirits in this way if they want to. But ordinary people also sometimes become mediums. A spirit comes and writes through them. But they aren't able to help the spirit to go up. If they take all the credit, then naturally the spirit will be so disappointed and furious: "Look, I have done that and he doesn't give me the credit." So either in the inner world you have to do something for the spirit, or you have to outwardly mention the name of the spirit so the spirit gets some credit in this world. Most people don't. Then the spirit takes revenge. At night it comes and does something. It may take away your hearing or your eyesight, or give you an ulcer or something else.

Question: When you occultly know what we are doing, is that intuition?

Sri Chinmoy: Suppose we want to know something that is happening. If we use our intuition power, then we may know the thing without any conscious effort. We don't have to use our intuition power consciously. It is automatic. When we develop intuition power, we do not have to use it consciously. Intuition will just do its inner job. But occult power we have to use consciously in order to know something. Occult power has tremendous force. But we also have to know how to apply occult power consciously for it to work.

Question: Does spiritual power have as much strength as occult power?

Sri Chinmoy: Spiritual power will go like a lion or an elephant, but it will never break anything. But when occult power goes, before it repairs something it may break that thing. Occult power will see something which is wrong and will go to repair it, but it may break it while repairing it. But spiritual power will take its time; it will not break anything at all. It will always be successful. Occult power sometimes may be successful, but sometimes it may not be successful.

Question: Are the things that your inner beings tell you different from the things that your intuition tells you?

Sri Chinmoy: They all can do the same things, just as I can ask you to do something or I can ask someone else to do something. You have your good qualities and bad qualities, and someone else also has his good and bad qualities. But both of you can bring messages.

Question: When you have intuition, does this mean that you are God-realised?

Sri Chinmoy: No. Mediums sometimes have developed a little bit of intuition power, but this in no way means that they are God-realised.

Question: Do poets have intuitive power?

Sri Chinmoy: Poets and singers do. When some of our girls sing, unconsciously they concentrate on this throat centre and they sing beautifully. In some cases, they have carried over that capacity from their past incarnations. Sometimes I do this when my voice is very sweet.

Question: Why does evolution go so slowly?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not slow at all.

Question: But it takes the human soul thousands of incarnations to become a divine soul.

Sri Chinmoy: Once I read a most beautiful poem. The farmer ploughed a field. Then he sowed the seed. Then he put on manure and watered the soil. Finally he said, "Mother Earth, why are you so ungrateful? How is it that everything does not germinate in one day?" Mother Earth answered, "Here you are trying consciously or unconsciously to do something, achieve something, become something, If I do everything for you, then your joy will be next to nothing."It is true that everything is done by God's Grace and it is also true that God can give you realisation overnight. You can get aspiration through God's Grace if God wants to give it; He can also give you realisation. There is some truth in this. But you have to know that if you have achieved something consciously, you will be more satisfied than if you do it unconsciously. Again, if you live in the soul, you will see that one thousand years or ten thousand years is nothing; whereas if you live in the body, each minute will seem like Eternity.

Question: Do certain souls ever evolve and develop more rapidly than others?

Sri Chinmoy: You people have all had many more human incarnations than I, except for one or two disciples who are in their first or second human incarnation. Otherwise, the rest have all had forty, fifty, sixty, seventy or even more human incarnations. It can take three or four thousand years, and sometimes even six or seven thousand years, to achieve realisation. Some of you do it in one thousand or two thousand years. Sometimes in the street I see people who are animals; they are real animals. If these people do not get any Grace from a spiritual Master, then they may stay on earth for at least one or two thousand years. One can easily stay on earth for fifty years in one incarnation before they are anywhere near ready for realisation. Twenty incarnations becomes one thousand years. So they will have at least twenty incarnations.

Question: You mean a person can be on earth for six thousand years?

Sri Chinmoy: When the creation starts from the mineral life, the stone life, then naturally the soul has to go through many incarnations. Each time the soul comes into life, into the physical or the earth-consciousness, it is an incarnation. The moment it comes into the earth-consciousness and accepts the physical, it is an incarnation.

Question: So the average is about three thousand years?

Sri Chinmoy: Human beings can get realisation in two to three thousand years. Again, some are tired soldiers; they want to take rest after one incarnation, and then they don't make progress for a long time. For many years they make no progress at all. Like bad students, they come back to the same class again and again.

Question: Why don't they want to make progress? Are they satisfied?

Sri Chinmoy: Sometimes they are satisfied; sometimes they are just stupid or lazy.

Question: You said that mostly all your disciples are older, but you have been around longer.

Sri Chinmoy: It is not that you are older. Only I didn't take as many human incarnations. My soul is very old. During my human incarnations I had to run very, very fast and then I had to take long rests. But during the last few incarnations I didn't take much rest. I had to reach the Goal. I had to become something.

Question: Will you come back again?

Sri Chinmoy: The great spiritual Masters now are enjoying rest in Heaven. When they were on earth, they said that they would come back even if one dog remained unrealised. But now they don't want to come back.

Question: Why did they say they would come back in the first place? Did they forget what is was like in Heaven when they were on earth?

Sri Chinmoy: No, what bothers them is ungratefulness. But worse than that is non-acceptance. Ungratefulness they don't mind; this is the earth-consciousness. No matter what you do, people are ungrateful. Today if someone is ungrateful, the Master feels that perhaps tomorrow he will accept the light. But tomorrow also he does not accept. Then what will the spiritual Master do? When I give you something, you may not show gratitude. But if you do give me gratitude, then your strength increases, your receptivity increases, your capacity increases. If you don't, then they do not increase. What is worse, the next time when I want to give you something, you don't get it at all. At that time you reject it; you just throw it. So then what am I going to do?

Question: Do souls compete with each other?

Sri Chinmoy: In the soul's world competition goes away. Progress is not made by competition; it is made by inner urge. Souls want to receive Light, more Light, abundant Light; there is an inner feeling of expansion. Only when souls are about to descend do they get some of the qualities of the earth atmosphere. When they are about to come down or when they are on earth, at that time competition starts. But when they are in the soul's world, they forget about competition.

Question: Are there paths to God-realisation that have never been revealed on earth?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, there is one way which has not yet been revealed: through constant, twenty-four-hour sleep. [laughter]. One way is to conquer sleep: just meditate, meditate, meditate. The other way is to sleep for twenty-four hours a day without food, without anything. You can please God in any way. If you can please God in this way, God will say, "All right, you can't think of Me; but if you can compel Me to think of you, then that is the best thing for you." This is what I am doing. I am telling my disciples, "All right, you are not thinking of me, true. But now at least try to compel me to think of you." So if you can compel me to think of you, then God-realisation comes.

There is an Indian saying that if you can criticise God at every second, if at every moment you can find fault with the Supreme in your Master, then your God-realisation will come sooner. A good disciple might say, "I am praying to you and someone else is speaking ill of you, so how can he get realisation sooner than I?" But the answer is that this so-called good disciple is praying to the Supreme in me for one second, whereas the other person is thinking of me only, at every moment. He is trying to dig my grave, but just because I am immortal, he won't be able to dig my grave. But I have so much compassion that just because he is thinking of me all the time, I will give him illumination.

But it must be done in one of these ways. Either I have to think of you or you have to think of me. If you don't think of me, then you have to do such divine or undivine things that I will be compelled to think of you.

Question: I have read that man is greater than the cosmic gods because he can realise God. Is this true?

Sri Chinmoy: Liberation or self-realisation can be had only by a human being. When a soul enters into a human being, it starts making progress. In the process of evolution, the individual becomes fully liberated and fully realised. But the gods do not have that opportunity. They live in the vital world, the higher vital world, and from there they operate. So unless and until they enter into a human form and go through the process of evolution, they cannot have the self-realisation or liberation that we human beings have.

We have to know that there is nothing greater than self-realisation. This means that we have crossed the sea of ignorance and death. That is why we say that man is greater than the gods. Man gets self-realisation whereas the so-called gods who are in the vital plane do not care for it.

Question: What is God?

Sri Chinmoy: We know that God is everything, God is in everything and God is beyond everything. This is our philosophical understanding and our psychic understanding. But when we get this question from a nine-year-old child, from a pure, innocent, soulful, divine child, then we have to answer the question according to the child's understanding.

I wish to say that God is Concern. You have a mother. She is right beside you. Your mother is showing you all her affection. She shows her concern for you day in and day out. But out of twenty-four hours, your mother can offer you only two or three or four hours of conscious concern. When you are sick, perhaps she will offer her concern for fifteen or sixteen or twenty-four hours. But when you are well, she can give you her concern for only a few hours in spite of her best intentions. She has to study, she has to do her own meditation, she has to do quite a few things apart from taking care of you, even though you are her dearest. So in spite of her best effort, her most sincere effort, she can give you only a few hours of her time.

We stay on earth for seventy, eighty or even a hundred years, but that is not our real life. Our real life is endless. It came from the beginningless past and is forever entering into the endless future. In this incarnation you are living in America, but you have to know that you had many previous incarnations and you will have many future incarnations. In your previous incarnation you lived in Italy. At that time you didn't have this mother; other parents cared for you. In the future you will get concern from still other parents.

God's Concern is different. His Concern started from the very beginning and it will remain the same forever. The moment He created you, His Concern started, and this Concern will last for Eternity. Where does this Concern come from? Everything has a source, and the source of God's Concern is His Oneness. When my finger is hurt, immediately I am concerned for my finger. Why? Because I am one with my finger. When something is wrong with your mother, you show her your concern because of your oneness. There are many who are suffering whom you do not know. Even if you do know them, you are not going to offer your concern. Why? Because you are not completely identified with them. You don't feel oneness with them. But you do feel your oneness with your mother and your mother feels her oneness with you.

No matter how dear your mother is, you have to know that God is dearer. He loves you infinitely more than your mother loves you and infinitely more than you love your mother. His Love doesn't last for just one incarnation, but for Eternity. God is all Concern because He is one with everything. Because of His all-pervading Oneness, He has to offer His Concern. So if you want to know what God is, then in one sense I wish to say that God is Concern.

Question: Isn't it unusual for someone to make fast progress at the end of their life?

Sri Chinmoy: In some cases, it is almost impossible to make spiritual progress at the end of life. Usually people are brought up in such a way that they can't give up their old life, their old-fashioned, religion-bound ideas. But some people break these barriers. A very special Grace descends and they break their old foundations and old ties. But it is very rare.

Question: Guru, is there going to be an end of the world?

Sri Chinmoy: The world is very vast. The universe is very vast. Nothing can totally destroy it. Human consciousness cannot be destroyed, not even by the atom bomb.

Question: Aren't there other worlds and other planets where people can take bodies and realise God if earth is blown up?

Sri Chinmoy: There are subtle beings on other worlds, but they cannot take human bodies. It is impossible.

Question: Suppose the earth was blown up?

Sri Chinmoy: All right, let us say that a scientist has created the most destructive weapon on earth. But we have to know that this scientist is under the guidance of a force, although it may be a destructive force. The spiritual Will, the divine Will, has the capacity to enter into the destructive force itself and change the plan. You are at the mercy of your human will. This moment you think that something is very good, the next moment you think it is very bad. If the divine Force, divine Guidance, enters into your mind and says that destruction is very bad, then you will change your mind.

God has given us power, but this power is limited. You are making a weapon. But who, after all, has given you this capacity? Suppose some very strong force has possessed you and you are about to strike a few persons. But before you strike, I can enter into your mind if I want to, and immediately I will be able to change your mind. Then, that very power you will use to embrace others instead of using it to kill them. But again, God tolerates many things.

But no matter how great the weapon — whether it is an atom bomb or hydrogen bomb or anything — it has not come right out of the blue. It is human beings who have created it and human beings who are going to use it. And the Supreme will not allow human beings to destroy the world. It is His creation, after all. Right now the human beings are playing. It is like when you use firecrackers on Independence Day. Although the game is very serious in the Eye of the Supreme this plot of destruction is just like a group of children playing with firecrackers. The world cannot be destroyed. A third world war will not destroy the entire world; that is absurd. It cannot be! Yes, when there is war, the consciousness drops; this is absolutely true. Even if the countries are not directly involved, their consciousness drops. But the world will not be destroyed.

Question: Is Atlantis rising out of the Atlantic in the Bahamas?

Sri Chinmoy: No. That is absurd. From time to time we hear things that fascinate us, but fascination is not illumination.

Question: Was it a whole people or just one person who was responsible for the death of Christ?

Sri Chinmoy: When it is more than one who does something, it is definitely not the blame of one. It becomes collective. And even where it is one individual, there are many collective forces acting inside him. Actually, it is a combination of the collective forces operating in an individual that kills. But we don't speak of the inner forces, the collective forces; we say that it is an individual who does something.

Question: Was it the Jewish people's collective karma for supposedly killing Christ?

Sri Chinmoy: Some spiritual Masters become exasperated when people talk about karma. Millions of innocent Hindus have been killed by the Muslims. Do you think that was all due to their karma? Our doctor in India was so kind and compassionate to the poor Muslims. They could not afford his fee, but he used to give them his services for free. They always used to call him "father" and "brother." They were so affectionate to him and he was so affectionate to them.

Then politics entered, and Muslims felt that Hindus are very bad and Hindus felt that Muslims are very bad. So the doctor, who wanted to save hundreds and thousands of lives and who offered his services to the Muslims free, was killed. By whom? By these very same Muslims. He was cut into one hundred eight pieces, and then the pieces were hung in the mango tree of the doctor's house, right in his backyard, in front of his wife and children. Now look at this! Will you say that it was because of that doctor's karma? He saved so many lives. You may say that in his previous incarnations he did something wrong, and in this incarnation he is getting the result. But that was not the case. Ignorant, undivine, hostile forces are all around. So they caught hold of these Muslims, and in the name of politics they acted. They were led to think that the Hindus are very bad. So they said, "Now let us kill him. After all, Hindus are very bad." What he did all his life to help them and save them was totally forgotten. Just because he was a Hindu, he was killed.

Question: Guru, for all those people who were in the concentration camps, was it their karma to be put there or just circumstance?

Sri Chinmoy: We cannot say categorically why all this happened. Many cosmic forces, divine and undivine, were at work. There is no categorical answer to these questions. It is complicated. Sometimes it is somebody's karma. Sometimes it is not his karma; only he is a victim to undivine forces. These undivine forces are like mad elephants. They are roaming around, running from this side to that side, and just kicking whatever they find in the way.

Question: Chile is under a very heavy dictatorship and many innocent people have been suffering. I would like to know, is that due to the collective consciousness of the people, or is it just a hostile force taking over?

Sri Chinmoy: Last year, and also a few months ago, I concentrated on Chile. It is like this. First an attack came from the hostile forces, and then the consciousness of Chile accepted the hostile forces as its own. It consciously became, unfortunately, part and parcel of the attack. The consciousness of Chile was not generally bad, but somebody bad came and the Chile consciousness felt that that person was good, so it gave shelter to that consciousness, and that shelter acted in a destructive way. Otherwise, by its own nature, the Chile consciousness is very nice, very nice, I tell you — very, very good. But when the hostile attack came, Chile opened its heart, not knowing that it was a hostile attack. It took the attack as a gift and thought that this gift would give it tremendous joy eventually. Then afterwards, it realised that it had made a mistake. This was not a gift; it was a hostile attack.

But by then that hostile force had become part and parcel of the Chile consciousness. This dictatorship and all the undivine things that are taking place — Chile can't get rid of. It is as though I allowed a stranger into my room, thinking that he was my friend. Now that stranger has become so powerful that he has moved into a corner. He says that what happens in my room is now his business. He was a stranger in the beginning, but I took him as a friend. And when he did attack, at that time I didn't see him as a hostile force; I took him as a friend. My mind told me that because I don't know someone, it doesn't mean that that person is going to be bad. I don't know anything, but I can't say point-blank that a person will be bad. But unfortunately, when I allow such a person to enter into my room, I see that he is very bad.

It is like thoughts. As soon as your eyes are open, bad thoughts come and good thoughts come. As soon as you open your mind, you are all the time thinking. Good thoughts, bad thoughts — everything comes. How are you going to get rid of bad thoughts once they have entered? It is very difficult. So the best thing is not to allow any thoughts to come in. Your friends, the good thoughts, will understand, and they will wait for you. On the strength of their oneness, they will say, "Perhaps he is very busy inside; he is doing something important. We know he has a very good heart. Something serious must be happening today; that's why he is not opening the door. Otherwise, he would open the door, because he is all sympathy, all love for us." But the bad thoughts, the dangerous thoughts, will not wait indefinitely for you. They are coming with a bad motive — to scold you, insult you, harass you. They will wait for some time and then they will say, "It's a waste of time. Let us go and knock at somebody else's door. He is not opening up the door, and it is beneath our dignity to wait." But good thoughts will wait and wait for you, because they know that you are so good. In the beginning, you have to keep all thoughts out, because you don't have the power to let in only the good ones. But once you become strong inwardly, like a magnet you will be able to pull in the good ones and keep out the bad ones. So the good ones will at that time come in, and if the bad ones try to come in, you will throw them out.

So, to come back to your question, Chile is a very small place, a small country. There was an unfortunate hostile attack, and the Chile consciousness became part and parcel of it. Once you become part and parcel of an undivine consciousness, how can you separate yourself from it? It is a very long process. Divine Grace has to descend from Above in infinite measure. Then gradually, gradually some light will enter, and that light will start separating out the hostile or undivine force. Eventually a full separation takes place between darkness and light. At that time, the hostile forces are removed from the consciousness of the country, and the country is saved. But unfortunately it takes a long time.

Question: Guru, you once told me I could levitate using will power. I've tried but...

Sri Chinmoy: You have to control the breath. But why do you need these things?

Question: Wouldn't it be great, Guru, in a magic show?

Sri Chinmoy: Life itself is magic, that is true. But you get only a vital satisfaction from magic. I'm not discouraging you; it is I who wanted you to do magic. But I won't ask you to show magic for twenty-four hours, no. I'll ask you only for an hour. Life itself is the greatest magician because it shows us a little bit of power and peace.

Questions on food and cooking

SIW 40-63. The following questions on food were answered by Sri Chinmoy on February 7, 1979.

Question: What is the most important aspect of cooking?

Sri Chinmoy: The most important aspect of cooking is its life-energising reality.

Question: Does Indian food embody a higher consciousness than other styles? If so, why?

Sri Chinmoy: Indian food does not necessarily embody a higher consciousness than other types of food. The consciousness of food depends mostly on the consciousness of the cook. It is true that food itself has its own consciousness, but since the cook is a human being, he has a more evolved consciousness than the food. So the cook can transform the consciousness of the food if it is necessary and if he wants to do so. He can add to the consciousness of the food or he can even bring the consciousness of the food into his own consciousness for enlightenment.

Question: Do you feel that onions and garlic are tamasic or harmful to the health?

Sri Chinmoy: Onions and garlic are far from tamasic. They are rajasic; they are dynamic. Both onions and garlic, when taken in small quantity, are good. Onions help considerably in forming blood, and also they help in curing eye defects. Garlic is good for curing rheumatism. But again, everything has to be taken in moderation. If we take onions and garlic beyond proportion, then naturally it will tell upon our health.

Question: How are nutrition and consciousness interrelated?

Sri Chinmoy: Consciousness has nutrition itself; again, nutrition has consciousness itself. But consciousness has infinitely more power to add to nutrition than nutrition has to add to consciousness. Consciousness can invoke cosmic energy, but nutrition as such cannot invoke cosmic energy to add to consciousness.

Question: Can prasad [blessed food] affect the physical?

Sri Chinmoy: Prasad affects the physical if the physical also aspires along with the psychic or spiritual in us. If the spiritual in us is followed by the physical, or if the physical aspires along with the spiritual, then definitely the prasad will give benefit to the physical consciousness as well.

Question: Does a tiny morsel of prasad have the same effect as the entire prasad?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the faith of the recipient. If one has tremendous faith in the Master, then a tiny morsel will definitely be as good as the entire prasad. But, if one takes only a morsel out of cleverness, if one wants to avoid eating the whole prasad because one feels it is too enormous, then the prasad will have no effect, because deception has no place where faith is concerned.

Question: What are some ways to maintain purity in cooking?

Sri Chinmoy: There are many ways. But the main way, the most important way, is to repeat the name of the Supreme or to repeat the name of the cosmic goddess Annapurna. If one repeats her name while cooking, then one is bound to be inundated with purity.

Question: Is it better to rinse vegetables before or after chopping them?

Sri Chinmoy: It is advisable to rinse vegetables both before and after chopping them. Then there will be a greater sense of purity, especially in the mind of the cook. The mind is always deceptive, so in order to avoid the deceptive mind it is better to rinse the vegetables before and after they are chopped. Then the mind will be convinced that the vegetables are clean.

Question: What is meant by "Annam Brahma", Food is God?

Sri Chinmoy: Food is life and life is God. Again, God is life. Food gives us new life; it energises us. Anything that energises us is life — the stream of life — and life is God.

Question: How can we always feel that food is God?

Sri Chinmoy: When you pray and meditate, you are bound to feel that you are devouring God's Peace, Love and Light. Again, when you are eating material food, if you feel that this food is keeping you alive and in good health, which enables you to pray and meditate, then naturally you can keep both food and God in mind. When you pray, you feel that God is coming to you in the form of Peace, Light and Bliss, which is your real food. Again, while you are eating material food, you feel that God in the form of this food is keeping you alive. At that time, food really helps you to think of your Beloved Supreme. Therefore, both food and God can easily be seen as one,

Question: What is the highest vegetable and highest fruit?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the individual. If an individual likes a particular vegetable most, then for him it is the highest. If he likes one fruit better than the rest, then for him that is the highest. It entirely depends on the individual taste.

Question: Is there a special consciousness in which to cook for adults, children or other age groups?

Sri Chinmoy: While you are cooking for children, if you can maintain an innocent feeling along with your purity, then it will be of great help to the food-consciousness. While cooking for adults, if you can maintain a very dynamic quality, then it will be of great help to the food-consciousness for adults. And while cooking for the aged, you can try to maintain a very soft and tender feeling. You can try also to have a feeling that you are helping the old people to gain a new life. But especially a tender feeling and a concerned feeling will be of tremendous help if you cook for the aged.

Question: Why should we meditate on our food before eating it?

Sri Chinmoy: Before eating, it is obligatory to meditate. Before doing anything it is advisable for a spiritual person to meditate, to think of the Inner Pilot, the Supreme. The Supreme comes before everything we do, He is in the middle of everything we do, and He is at the end of everything we do. If we meditate before we eat, then His Compassion descends on us, and His Compassion is nothing short of energising power. So, along with the material food, if we can receive energising power, then naturally we will get double benefit from the food.

Question: Why are eggs acceptable to some vegetarians and not others?

Sri Chinmoy: Again, it depends on the individual. If one is fussy and says that eggs come from an animal, then naturally he will try to shun the animal consciousness in eggs. The egg comes from the chicken and the chicken comes from the egg, so the story repeats itself; it is all animal consciousness from that point of view. But if one wants to separate the consciousness, saying that in eggs one doesn't see the immediate presence of the animal consciousness, then one can take eggs. It entirely depends on how the individual regards eggs and the creatures that produce eggs. Everything is in the mind. The mind tells us that something is harmful or that something is not harmful. Sometimes there is great truth in what the mind says, for there are things that can be really harmful. Again, there are some things which the mind rejects that are not at all harmful.

Question: Do vegetables have awareness?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, vegetables do have awareness. They have a conscious awareness of which we ourselves are not conscious. Of course, their conscious awareness is like a kind of instinctive feeling.

Question: Is sugar really bad for you from the physical point of view or from the spiritual point of view?

Sri Chinmoy: Sugar is not bad either from the physical point of view or from the spiritual point of view. When taken in a small, reasonable quantity, sugar helps, especially in strengthening the bone structure during the formative stage of life. But if one takes too much sugar, then naturally it will be harmful.

Question: If one gets ill from food, is it usually because the cook was in a bad consciousness or is it really the quality of the food?

Sri Chinmoy: You can blame the bad consciousness of the cook, you can blame the quality of the food, and, again, you can blame your own bad consciousness. Sometimes the consciousness of the cook is very good and the consciousness of the food is very good, but the consciousness of the person who is eating is horrible. Therefore, he pays the penalty. True, sometimes the consciousness of the food is not praiseworthy or the consciousness of the cook is not praiseworthy, and therefore one may suffer from the food. But it also happens that the person who eats is in a very low consciousness. Then he will definitely suffer.

Question: How does the cleanliness of the surroundings affect the food you cook?

Sri Chinmoy: The cleanliness of the surroundings does not immediately or directly affect the food. First it affects the consciousness of the cook. When the cook is affected, then naturally his product will be affected. Cleanliness is of paramount importance, purity is of paramount importance and good feelings towards the pots and pans are of paramount importance. Everything is of paramount importance from the beginning to the end when you cook. Again, while cooking it is always advisable to speak as little as possible so that you can remain in your own highest consciousness. Otherwise, your consciousness may remain high, but the person with whom you are talking may be in a very low consciousness and then your food will be affected. So, you should always try to remain in a high consciousness and, for that, silence will be a considerable help. It will also be of considerable help if you can be in a meditative consciousness. Otherwise, outwardly you may remain silent, but inwardly your mind will be thinking of the entire world. That kind of so-called silence does not make any sense. But to remain both inwardly and outwardly silent will help you to enter into a higher realm of consciousness.

Question: Does the beauty of the kitchen affect the food?

Sri Chinmoy: Beauty as such is useless. It is the purity of the kitchen that affects the food. A flower is beautiful and, at the same time, it is pure. If something embodies both beauty and purity, then it will be most helpful. If you bring into the kitchen most beautiful dolls or pieces of furniture, they will be useless; they won't be of any help to the consciousness of the food. But if you bring in flowers, which have both purity and beauty, then naturally it will help the food.

Question: What makes flavour: consciousness or spices?

Sri Chinmoy: Spices have their own consciousness; again, consciousness also can spice the food. Consciousness and spices are like two friends. Nevertheless, there are many cooks in God's creation whose consciousness is worse then the worst, but they have the capacity — let us say unconsciously — to identify themselves with the consciousness of the spices. They have an instinctive feeling and, by virtue of that feeling, they know the quality and the quantity of the spices to use. Therefore, we notice a very good flavour in their preparation.

Question: Can you tell us some of the different occult meanings of food?

Sri Chinmoy: Bread is life. Water is consciousness. Cucumber is mildness. Onion is dynamism. Garlic is determination. Each food has its own consciousness; there is no end to the list.

Question: Is it significant whether food is raw or cooked?

Sri Chinmoy: It entirely depends on the taste of the individual. Raw food has a more energising quality than cooked food, but for the sake of taste we cook many foods. We can't deny it; cooked food is more tasty than raw food.

Question: Spicy foods are often classified as rajasic. Would Indian food correctly fall under this category?

Sri Chinmoy: We cannot say that all Indian food is spicy. There are many people in India who avoid using spices or eating any hot preparations. In our own family, I like rajasic food but my brother Mantu will never go near chilli or anything hot. It depends on the individual. Some people like spicy foods; others don't. Especially in South India, people generally care for hot, spicy food more than in other parts of India. But there are many people in India who do not like hot food at all.

Question: How is it that some advanced people do not have to eat at all?

Sri Chinmoy: If people are advanced in age, they don't have to give out as much energy as they did during their youth. At that time, they did much more on the physical plane. Naturally, when one has to offer more on the physical plane, the physical itself needs more sustenance. But when people become old, from the physical point of view they do not offer much to the world at large. Therefore, they do not have to eat much.

People who are spiritually advanced don't have to eat much if they don't want to. If they want to live on earth with very little food, then the Peace that they bring down from above will help them considerably. Their inner food can easily sustain them even if they eat very little material food. They can maintain themselves in this way if they want to. But if they want to remain on earth in a normal, natural way, eating material food, then they will take help from material food. It entirely depends on the individual choice.