The soul and the process of reincarnation
Part I — The soul and the afterlife
Question: What happens after one dies?Sri Chinmoy: Each human being is composed of five elements: body, vital, mind, heart and soul. When we die, these five elements enter into their respective sheaths and the soul gradually goes back to the soul's region. It starts its journey from the subtle physical. From the subtle physical it enters into the heart and the psychic region. Then finally the soul goes back to its own region. There it takes rest for some time, maybe six years, or ten years, or forty years; it entirely depends on the Will of God. Then again the soul comes back into the world; it assumes a new body and tries to manifest divinity on earth.
Question: When we go to the other world after leaving the body, are there any forms or is it all formless?Sri Chinmoy: When somebody dies, if the soul wants to come and see the relatives still on earth, the soul usually takes the form that it had on earth so that the relatives can recognise it. But great spiritual Masters can recognise the soul no matter what form it takes. Even if the soul takes the form of a column of light, the Master can use his third eye and immediately recognise the soul.
Question: What happens with the souls that have retired from work on earth? Do they eventually fill up the other worlds?Sri Chinmoy: There is lots of room in the other worlds. There we deal with Infinity.
Question: What happens to the soul of an animal after it leaves the body?Sri Chinmoy: It has its own world. Each soul has its own capacity. The soul of a saint will not go to the same place as the soul of a thief. The saint will go to a much higher world. It all depends on the consciousness that the soul has revealed here on earth. So, animals will go to a world that will suit them. They will not go to a world where the souls are very highly developed.
Question: Do our souls ever leave our bodies for just a second while we are alive?Sri Chinmoy: For a few seconds during the day the soul may leave, but the consciousness of the soul remains in the body at that time. This is your room and your whole vibration is here. As soon as somebody comes here, he will immediately feel your vibration. But if you go away and do not come back, then there will be nothing here. If the soul stays away, then its own body becomes foreign; its own room is foreign. But when it is a matter of dying, the body, like a cage, is broken. So what is the use of staying in a broken cage?
Question: What happens to the soul of an object created by a human being if the object is destroyed?Sri Chinmoy: A house is destroyed; then the inhabitants try to find another house. In the case of the soul also, if the cage is destroyed, it doesn't mean that the soul will not get any other place to live. Once the soul enters into the process of evolution, it will continue functioning until it has fully manifested the divine light, according to its capacity. It may go to the soul's region and take some rest, if that is the Will of the Supreme, or it may stay for a few days or a few months here on earth and then again enter into a form. But the soul will always function.
Human souls — especially aspiring souls — are more evolved in the sense that they embody more light. Right now I am sitting on a chair. I am a spiritual man and my soul will have more light than the chair I am sitting on. Again, this chair will make progress just because I have brought down light and the chair is receiving the light. This same opportunity another bench or chair will not get.
In the spiritual life, when we go to a spiritual Master and see him talk or meditate, we make faster progress, whether we believe it or not. Forty to fifty seekers are here. These seekers, according to their capacity, are receiving something from me. So, each individual soul has been fed to some extent. When the soul is fed, the soul makes fast progress.
Question: If someone dies a violent death, does his soul suffer as much as it would if he had committed suicide?Sri Chinmoy: Certainly not. If one is killed in a car accident, do you think that the soul will not have an opportunity to pray again and realise God? Even if someone commits suicide, a spiritual Master can save him and all the karma can be washed away. Again, if in his next incarnation he starts praying and meditating under some spiritual Master, then he has every reason to hope that he can realise God.
Question: If someone commits suicide to avoid dying at the hands of an enemy, does that person suffer the same fate in the inner world as another person who takes his life?Sri Chinmoy: It has happened many times that two warriors are fighting and when one of them knows that definitely it is a matter of a minute or a second before the other will destroy him, then immediately he puts an end to his own life. Many times when kings have been arrested, they do not want to be killed by their enemies. So they kill themselves. They say, "Since we are destined to be killed by you, then the best thing is for us to kill ourselves." If they do this, I tell you, they are doing the right thing. They will not suffer the same fate as someone else who commits suicide.
Question: Will the soul suffer if a person commits hara-kiri, a form of suicide which is regarded as honourable in Japan?Sri Chinmoy: It entirely depends on the individual case. Ordinarily, people commit suicide because they cannot face reality; they have emotional problems or their desires are not fulfilled. But each case is different and only God can decide. In the case of spiritual Masters, they can leave the body at will. But they do not harm the physical; they do not shoot themselves or anything. The soul leaves occultly and spiritually. But first they take permission from the Supreme.
Question: If someone makes an almost impossible attempt to save someone else's life and if he dies in the attempt, is this like suicide?Sri Chinmoy: You have to know the motive. The mother sees that the child is drowning. She may not be able to know that it is God's intention that she stays on earth and looks after her other children. Only she sees that her son is drowning, so she tries to save him. Then, if she dies, this is not suicide.
Question: Sometimes, when you describe Heaven, it sounds much like hell, when they fight and all that.Sri Chinmoy: There is vital Heaven. People like it. As we like quarrelling, strangling and fighting, they also enjoy it.
Question: Can someone whose soul was in hell go to Heaven?Sri Chinmoy: The usual process is that first he has to go to earth and do good things. But hell is only a portion of the vital world, so from there it is possible to go directly to Heaven. If they get direct help from the Supreme or from a spiritual Master, some souls can go from hell to Heaven. Otherwise, they have to come back to earth and acquire spiritual merits.
Question: Is it possible for us to be in Heaven while our vital is in hell?Sri Chinmoy: It is quite possible. Sometimes the angry, undeveloped vital remains in hell, the torture-world. If the soul wants to leave the subtle vital, it does. It leaves the physical sheath at one place, the vital sheath at another place, the mental sheath at another place. Then it goes back to the soul's world.
Question: What happens to the vital at the hour of death?Sri Chinmoy: There are two vitals. One is the physical vital, the vital that is in the physical. The other is the vital proper, the vital which does not belong to the physical. It is not identified with the physical; it is totally separate.
When the soul leaves the body, the human being decomposes into its five elements. The vital proper enters into the vital sheath. The mind stays for a shore while with the vital — for a few days or a few months — and then it goes back to the mind's level, the mental sheath. The soul stays in the vital sheath for two months, six months, sometimes even a year; it depends on the individual. Then it passes to the mental world and then to the psychic world.
Now, when the vital is in the vital sheath, it may suffer considerably. If the vital is unlit and impure, then it is tortured there most mercilessly. When our third eye is open, we see that no human punishment is as severe or as cruel as the vital punishment. Again, if the vital has aspired in its own way to be one with the soul, if the vital listened to the soul when the seeker was on earth, then the vital does not suffer in the vital zone. If the individual is spiritually advanced, he suffers practically nothing, because he knows the ins and outs of that realm.
Part II — The soul and the process of reincarnation
Question: When the soul comes back, does it take back the same vital sheath?Sri Chinmoy: It may take either the same one or a vital that is more evolved. It is like buying things in a shop. You leave something in the shop and then you come back and get your own thing or you get something more beautiful. Instead of keeping your old wristwatch, you may buy a new one. And somebody else, who has less money, will like your old one.
Question: Does everybody have a vital and mind that already have been used? Did somebody ever use my vital before, or my heart?Sri Chinmoy: The soul does not care, as long as it has one. It is like a football or any instrument. You use it for a while, then if you don't like the one you have been using, you will take another one. But if you like a certain ball, you use it again and again until either it is totally destroyed or it gives you total satisfaction. Again, it depends on what the soul wants to accomplish. Sometimes the soul chooses a very powerful mind, and sometimes the soul does not find it necessary. When somebody plays football, if he plays with good players, then he will want to use a good ball. But if one is just going to play with weak players, one can use any kind of ball. So, it depends on whom the soul is going to play with in the battlefield of life.
Question: Why would a soul choose a doubting mind or an aggressive vital?Sri Chinmoy: The soul does not take a doubting mind. The soul accepts the mind, but the very nature of the mind is to doubt.
Question: Would the soul try to get a more illumined mind?Sri Chinmoy: Where is the fun, if all the experts are on one side? Where is the game? The mind is also evolving. When something is in the process of evolution, naturally it takes time to reach its goal. For you, even one day is something. In God's Vision, two hundred years is less than a second; it is nothing. Here on earth, if the mind is very illumined, I tell you, earth's consciousness will not be able to receive the mind's light.
It is like a pure heart. A pure heart suffers just because it is a pure heart. Why do spiritual people suffer? Because of their heart's magnanimity. Stone-hearted people don't suffer. There are many people who have a pure heart, but they don't have a strong heart. But if you want to stay on earth, you need a pure heart along with a strong heart.
Question: If the mind make progress, what happens?Sri Chinmoy: If the mind makes progress, it will try to keep its progress. Then, the next time a soul takes that mind, the mind will be an added help. If a particular mind has got some illumination, that mind will keep it.
Question: Does the mind lose the specific details of its earthly experience?Sri Chinmoy: The mind doesn't need to remember those things. It is like remembering what I ate today, what a disciple's cooking was like. But if I know that that disciple was very kind to me, that she brought me food whenever I wanted it, that is enough. Not how many times she brought food and how many times I liked it: this I do not have to remember. Only her selfless service I shall remember. If the mind wants to know what kind of food she brought, the mind will not be able to know. But it will be able to remember her dedicated service.
Question: What do mental beings do in the mind's world?Sri Chinmoy: Sometimes they sleep, sometimes they inspire, sometimes they enter into human minds and instigate human beings. All of a sudden some thought comes into your mind, and you can't account for it.
Question: When a soul picks a mind or vital, does it already know what kind of life it will have?Sri Chinmoy: It deals with possibility. God knows everything, but He covers up the future. Even God does not use His Ultimate Vision all the time; otherwise, there is no game. In forty-five minutes, let us say, the game will be over. God can bring forty-five minutes in front of His Mind immediately. Today, let us say, He will count from one to forty-five, going through each number: one, two, three, four, five, six and so forth. But the next day, if He says "one" and then goes immediately to "forty-five," people will say, "What is the use of playing with You when You can go from one to forty-five immediately and we cannot?" That is why God does not play the game in this way.
Question: Do women sometimes reincarnate as men, and vice versa?Sri Chinmoy: This has happened only four or five times in God's creation. In very rare cases a spiritual Master can change the gender, or a new soul he can bring into the person while the person is still on earth. One soul can be put to sleep; it will not function. But this has happened only a few times.
Question: When a new soul joins a soul already in a human body, what does the previous soul think?Sri Chinmoy: One body cannot have two souls. But if the old soul is not functioning well through the physical, the vital, the mind, then, if it is the Will of the Supreme, the old soul can be replaced by a more dynamic and progressive soul.
Question: If one of us got a new soul, would we notice?Sri Chinmoy: Ordinary human beings won't know, but if the Master wants a disciple to know what he has done, the Master can make the disciple feel that he has done it. Then the disciple will believe it.
But the individual will act differently, though he will not know why. He is doing something, but he cannot account for it. He may act crazy, as if some force has entered into him. Again, he may act differently in a good way.
Question: What is the difference between giving a new soul and changing the soul?Sri Chinmoy: When you get a new soul, it is like having another friend stay at your house. But instead of inviting in a new soul, it is also possible to bring down the quality of another person into someone. If one person is lacking in a quality, you can borrow this quality from someone else.
Question: Why does this occur?Sri Chinmoy: If the Supreme wants, and if the seeker feels that he needs a better mind, that he needs a better heart or soul, then the Supreme sanctions it.
Question: Is it possible to give a human being a soul that has not been on earth before?Sri Chinmoy: It is quite possible.
Question: What is the relationship of the individual soul to the soul of the country that it is born into?Sri Chinmoy: There are many countries. Why does a particular soul enter into a particular country? There are two basic reasons: either the soul has been commanded by the Supreme or the soul has a specific preference for that country. Why will a soul care for a particular country? It is because the soul has its own inner propensities. It feels that it has some inner intuitive capacity or other quality which can be easily brought into manifestation if it takes incarnation in a particular country. If a particular soul has dynamism, it will try to take incarnation in America, not India. Again, if it cries for inner harmony and peace, then it will try to take incarnation in India. If the soul wants vastness and a combination of mind and heart in mental and psychic awakening, then it will incarnate in Australia. The individual soul may want a particular country, but you have to know that the soul of a country also wants a particular type of soul, so that its own reality can be manifested. Each soul has something special to offer to its country. So, the soul of each country meditates upon the highest Reality to get souls which will be of help to it.
If the soul likes a specific country, the Supreme can accept or reject the soul's choice. But ninety-nine times out of a hundred the Supreme approves the soul's choice. However, if the Supreme makes the choice, then usually the individual soul cannot alter the Supreme's Will. Again, just as we sometimes do not listen to our boss, the soul also may do this. But usually the individual soul listens to the Supreme because souls have more light than earthbound beings.
Each individual soul has a special role to play in the country that is accepting it. But once it plays its role, its goes to another country. Of course, the soul can have two or three incarnations in a particular country and then go to another place. Again, some souls may want to take more incarnations in a particular place.
What is the role that the individual soul plays? It is the role of a flower on a tree. When there are many flowers on a tree, then the tree looks beautiful. Each soul is like a flower and each country is like a tree.
Question: What do you mean when you say that somebody is an Eastern or a Western soul?Sri Chinmoy: The soul is neither Eastern nor Western. But some souls take many of their incarnations in a particular part of the world and they absorb the vibration of this place. You live in a house. You are giving vibrations to the home and you may also receive a certain vibration from the home. When the soul enters into different states or countries, the mental, vital and physical vibrations enter into the soul. Then, either the soul has to illumine these vibrations or the soul is covered by the imperfections of the body, mind and vital in layer after layer.
If the soul takes quite a few more incarnations in the East, then it tends to be peace-loving. If the soul takes many incarnations in the West, then it tends to be dynamic. A Western soul is aware of its dynamism, vital dynamism, and it tries to manifest its reality through dynamism. An Eastern soul, which embodies a peace-loving heart, tries to offer its capacity primarily through peace.
Today there are quite a few sincere spiritual seekers in the West, quite a few. Many of them are Eastern souls. Here they are not getting proper spiritual nourishment and they are sad. Again, they know it is the Supreme who has planned it. Otherwise, they couldn't have taken incarnation in the West. The soul can't do anything without the sanction of the Supreme.
Part III — The soul's mission
Question: Before our souls entered the body, did they know we were going to become disciples?Sri Chinmoy: Some knew. Others started only with possibility; in their case, the soul became lucky.
Question: Does the soul always choose the Master?Sri Chinmoy: In some cases, the Guru is predestined. In other cases, when the soul enters into the human incarnation, the soul selects a Guru. If the soul is very developed, it will try to select a good Master. The hostile forces are there, though, and some souls that are very developed may never get a spiritual Master.
Question: If a disciple leaves your path, will the soul help him find another Master?Sri Chinmoy: Where is the guarantee that the soul will again get another Master? It is a real problem for the soul. The soul may look, but it is much easier to go back to the same Master.
Question: If the disciple comes to the Centre, will his soul always get something from you, even if he is in a low consciousness?Sri Chinmoy: The soul does not have to come to the Centre; the soul will get light no matter where it is. I feed the soul in the inner world. Your soul will get light directly from me. But your soul also has tremendous compassion for its little brothers and sisters, the vital and the mind. The soul says, "I have got so much. Now let them get something." That is why the soul pleads with the brothers and sisters: "Accept light, accept light." But the vital and the mind are always delaying. The soul is like a beggar: It is all the time pleading with your vital, with your mind, to listen.
Question: Guru, how can you know what was your soul's promise to the Supreme before you came into the earth?Sri Chinmoy: You can know your soul's promise to the Supreme before you came into the world only by constantly feeling that you are not the body, you are not the mind, you are not even the heart; you are only the soul. If you feel that you don't have the physical, if you feel that you have and you are only the soul, then naturally the soul's vision will come forward and immediately you will know your soul's promise. The soul is always conscious of its promise, but the mind is not aware of it. But when the soul gets the opportunity to come to the fore, then the mind is convinced. When the mind and the heart identify themselves with the soul, then they feel that the soul's promise is also their promise.
Right now you live in the body. So, all your problems are in the physical world: where you will stay, what you will eat, how you will mix with people. Just because you live in the physical consciousness, you have all physical problems. But if you live in the soul, then you will have the so-called problems of the soul. If I feel that I am a spiritual Master, then I have all the problems of disciples and Centres. But if I believe I am poet, then I will have very few problems. Some people will appreciate my poems and some people won't appreciate them, but I won't have to take any responsibility. But if I live in the soul, then the world becomes my problem.
The soul's promise, its only promise, is to reveal, manifest and fulfil the Supreme at every moment in the Supreme's own Way. To reveal and manifest God most perfectly on earth is the only promise that everybody's soul makes. It makes this promise consciously and constantly. But according to one's receptivity, according to the soul's capacity, one reveals and manifests. So, remain in the soul and feel that you are the soul and without fail, you will know what your soul's promise was, is and forever will be.
Again, you have to be wise. If you think that you can do all kinds of undivine things and then immediately escape by saying, "I am the soul, I am the soul," then you are only deceiving yourself. If you are driving a taxi and turn on the meter so that the fare increases like anything, at that time you cannot say, "I am above this, I am the soul." No, that is absurd. Right now you have only to keep in mind that you are a chosen instrument; all the disciples are chosen instruments. Right now you are praying to the Supreme to give you Light so that you can come out of ignorance. You can say that you are the soul, but if somebody screams at you, your soul-realisation will immediately go away. So, it is not enough for your mind to say, "I am the soul, I am the soul." It is only when you have major experiences of the highest Height, and when they become constant in your day-to-day activities, that you can feel that you are truly the soul. Otherwise, if your life-reality is all ignorance, just because you have read in a book that all is the Brahman, you cannot say, "I am the Brahman. I am the highest Height."
So, if it is not natural and spontaneous for you to feel that you are the soul, try to use your imagination. Then pray most sincerely, meditate most sincerely and devotedly, and try to make it something permanent in your life.
Question: Does the vital have any mission apart from the soul's mission?Sri Chinmoy: The vital, when it is united with the soul, can have a mission. Otherwise, the vital does not have a mission of its own. When the vital surrenders to the soul and becomes one with the soul, then only does the mission of the soul become the mission of the vital. The body, the mind, the vital, and the heart: they do not have an independent mission. There is only one mission, and that is the mission of the soul.
Unfortunately, for many centuries the mind, the vital and the body do not listen to the soul. But a day comes when they are bound to listen. Then the mission of the soul becomes the mission of the vital, the mission of the physical and the mission of the mind.
As the body, vital and mind surrender to the soul, so also we as individuals have to surrender to the Supreme's Will. Then the Mission of the Supreme becomes our mission. I say that I have my mission, you say that you have your mission, he says that he has his mission. But only on the strength of our absolute identification with the Supreme, in our selfless surrender, can we say that it is our mission.
Question: Can you tell me how I can feel my soul?Sri Chinmoy: To expect to feel the soul right now, at the very beginning, is like coming to school and expecting to get your Master's degree overnight. The teacher will say, "You have not gone through primary school and high school, so how am I to give you your Master's degree?"
To feel the presence of the soul you have to meditate for a couple of years. Right now, to feel the presence of the soul is not necessary. That which is of greatest importance for a beginner is aspiration. You want to arrive at your destination, but right now you don't have the money to buy the ticket. The money here is aspiration. When you increase your aspiration, you can buy the ticket. I am not trying to throw cold water upon you. Only I wish to say that if you go slowly and steadily, then you shall win the race. Right now I don't even know how to walk properly. If I don't know how to walk properly, how can I expect to run very fast? I have to reach my goal; that is my ultimate aim. But right now my aim is to stand up and try to learn how to walk. Then, when I can walk, I will try to march; when I can march, I will try to run; when I can run, I will try to run the fastest. Only then shall I reach my goal.
Part IV — Liberation and realisation
Question: Guru, what is the difference between the psychic being and the soul?Sri Chinmoy: Everything has a soul, but the psychic being is only in human beings. It is not in animals or inanimate objects. The psychic being is like a flame that is kindled in a human being. But this does not happen in the first or second or third human incarnation. In some cases, it takes quite a few incarnations before the psychic being comes into existence. There are many seekers, even here with us, who still unfortunately do not have a psychic being, because they have not had many incarnations. Again, someone can have many incarnations, but if he does not aspire, in him the psychic flame will not be kindled. There is no hard and fast rule as to when the psychic being will come into existence. But we can safely say that in the human incarnation one day the psychic being will come into existence. It depends on the sincerity and intensity of the seeker's inner cry. When the psychic being comes, first we feel it, then we see it and finally we grow into it.
Question: Is it the soul that realises God?Sri Chinmoy: The soul has already realised God. It is a portion of God and it is eternally for God. It is only our body, vital, mind and heart that have not realised God. The soul knows who God is and where God is and what God is; but the human being only gets glimpses. The human being must practice spirituality and inner discipline and realise the Highest.
When the human in us realises the Highest, at that time there is no difference between us and God. At that time, the vital does not remain the vital, the body does not remain the body, the mind does not remain the mind. They become inseparably one and they embody, reveal and manifest the Highest. There is no difference between that illumined consciousness and the highest Reality itself. Right now we feel that our nearest thing is our nose or our eyes. But when we realise God, we see that God is nearer to us than our own eyes, than our own nose. But right now we don't have the inner vision to see Him.
So, only the human being must realise God, but not the soul proper. The soul proper must manifest God to the world at large; that is why the soul has come into the world.
Question: Can the mind illumine the soul?Sri Chinmoy: The soul is infinitely superior to the mind. The soul gradually illumines and perfects the mind and then the mind gets divine characteristics. When the inferior is transformed totally, then it becomes the same as the superior. When the body, vital and mind are transformed, at that time the physical does not remain asleep, the vital does not remain aggressive and the mind does not remain doubtful. In the beginning the son makes mistakes. Then, when the father offers his wisdom to the son, at that time the son becomes as wise as his father. But the son cannot make the father wise.
Question: What is the difference between a liberated soul and a realised soul?Sri Chinmoy: Liberated souls are many. But there is a great difference between liberation and realisation. A liberated soul is liberated from ignorance, from earthly imperfections and shortcomings. He has liberated himself, but he is always afraid that at any moment he will be attacked again and his liberation will go away. He remembers how much suffering he went through before he got liberation. There is only a remote possibility that he will go back to ignorance, but he is afraid. But a realised soul has established inseparable oneness with God. For him, Heaven, hell, everything is the same. He knows that God will be there. Whether or not he can keep God, he knows that God will keep him, no matter how bad he is. Realised souls have established oneness. Realisation is oneness, whereas liberation is freedom from suffering.
So, liberated souls are far inferior to realised Yogis. They are liberated from ignorance, but they are not twenty-four hours a day inseparably one with the Highest. They won't do anything undivine; they won't again wallow in the pleasures of ignorance. But a realised Yogi is someone who has gone far, far beyond ignorance. And even if he enters into ignorance, he is not at all affected. He is above it.
A liberated soul cannot illumine another person. Another person can get inspiration and aspiration from a liberated soul, but that soul will not be able to grant realisation. Liberated souls can only give you inspiration so that you will work out your own liberation. Realised souls not only have their own realisation but they can have disciples to whom they are trying to give realisation. A liberated soul can be very pure, very saintly, but he won't be able to transform even one bad person. He feels that bad people are truly bad, and he is afraid that these bad people will catch him and take him back to ignorance. But a realised person will say, "I see inside you the presence of God," and he will go to stay with bad people in order to change them.
Liberated souls do not care for nature's transformation. If a fully liberated soul does want nature's transformation, God is bound to give it to him. Usually the liberated soul wants only to be freed from bondage and ignorance. But the realised soul, while realising, is being transformed. Again, there is a very great difference between a Yogi and an Avatar. When one becomes a Yogi, he is able to do everything, but not on a large scale. He will be able to have a boat and carry some passengers. But an Avatar is for the whole world; his boat is for the whole world.
Question: Is it possible to get liberation and never see God and talk to God?Sri Chinmoy: A liberated soul will feel a kind of peace, light and bliss which nobody else sees and feels. He can get answers to questions from his soul, or from a most luminous human being. The only thing is that he won't be able to do what a realised soul does. Realised souls are like darling children. No matter when the parents are invoked, even if they are doing something most important, the parents will come when they see their children. One smile from the children is enough. But liberated souls are like perfect gentlemen. They will wait an hour or two to see the parents and they will leave only when the parents say that there is no possibility of seeing them today. But a realised soul has free access. A really realised soul doesn't have to meditate two hours before he can see God.
In the West they speak about salvation. Salvation is much inferior to liberation. Salvation means freedom from sin. But liberation is something more; liberation is freedom from ignorance, which is a much broader concept than just sin. Liberation is dealing with ignorance. And realisation is dealing all the time with the inner suns.
Question: Does a realised soul feel anger?Sri Chinmoy: A realised soul may express so-called anger. But actually it is divine authority that he is exercising. If he does not exercise his divine authority, which may take the form of outer anger, then he won't be able to accomplish the needful. So, as a last resort, if it is the Will of God, he expresses so-called anger. Our human mind will call it anger, but in reality it is Justice-Light from above.
But an ordinary liberated soul will not dare to show anger. He is afraid of anger, afraid of impurity, afraid of quite a few earthly shortcomings. For he knows that he has just come out of a particular room, which is unlit, and if he goes back there to transform it, then he may be caught. A liberated soul is afraid of his past. But a realised soul is like a soldier. Once he has come out of the unlit room, he knows that he has to go inside again to fight for illumination. He says, "I have come out. Now, others also want to come out. So let me help them, save them, bring them out so that they also can become realised." Again, a truly liberated soul — a soul that is absolutely liberated, totally liberated — eventually becomes God-realised. So, a day will come when he will also go back into the unlit room to help manifest divinity on earth.
Question: When an Avatar was in one of his earlier animal incarnations, did a part of him know who he was?Sri Chinmoy: In his animal incarnation he will not know. A portion of the Avatar's consciousness will know, but his conscious mind will not know. And unless you know something with the mind, you cannot be aware of it consciously. But when the Avatar takes human incarnation, which is infinitely more developed than the animal life, then he will be able to know.
Part V — Heaven
Question: In your poetry you speak about the indifference of Heaven, but the Supreme is anything but indifferent. Can you explain this?Sri Chinmoy: Let us take Heaven as the elder brother, the Supreme as the Father and the seeker as the younger brother. So, there are two brothers and a Father. The younger one is crying. He needs help from above, from the Father or from the brother. The Father, in His Heart, is all concern for the younger one, but He is not always available. He is at the office. The elder brother is available, although he is busy with his studies and has many things of his own to do. So he is indifferent to his poor little brother on earth who needs help. The Father is all affection, all concern. As soon as He comes home, He will show all affection to the younger one. It is very difficult for the younger one to approach the Father without going through the elder brother. But some of the cosmic gods and goddesses are divinely jealous. Most of the spiritual Masters have encountered this experience. The cosmic gods and goddesses help the seeker climb up, but they do not encourage him when he gets near to the highest. On the contrary, they try to prevent him from going beyond them. This happens countless times.
Someone has climbed up a tree and you are at the foot of the tree. You don't know how to climb, so the one in the tree comes down and teaches you and then you start climbing. Before you have reached a certain height, the one who has taught you goes back to his original seat and waits for you. Then, when you get there, he won't help you go any further. That person hasn't touched the highest height and he is insecure. Yesterday you were on earth and you didn't know how to climb, so he taught you. Now you are going to surpass him, so why should he allow it? But if he is wise, on the strength of his oneness he will say, "He is my little brother, so let him go higher. His achievement is also my achievement."
There is a saying: "Everyone wants to gain victory, but not over one's son and daughter." How far it is true, God knows. In America I have learned something that in India I never knew. America has taught me that mothers can be really jealous of their daughters and fathers can be really jealous of their sons. Not all mothers and fathers, but many, many who have come into our Centre, directly or indirectly have been very jealous of their children. It is apparent that they have taught the children how to study, how to act devotedly. They will tell the world, "My daughter has done this, my son has done that." Then, when the world is appreciating their children, at times they may be sincerely pleased. But at times their hearts are burning because they themselves have not got the highest degree or done what their children have done. This is because of the feeling of separativity.
If you want to separate your fingers one from another, how will you perform the shotput well? The little finger has very little strength, whereas the other fingers have tremendous strength. But all the fingers have to cooperate for the shotput. If you feel that it is better not to have that little finger, if you feel that it is useless, then you will soon discover that you are helpless without it. If the stronger one doesn't want to mix with the weaker ones, then all will suffer.
In the beginning, the stronger one shows off. When the weaker one begins to get some capacity, the superior is frightened that the weaker one will surpass him. But the real superior, who is always superior, is the Supreme. He never feels or acts superior. He knows that what He is, I am also that. He never differentiates. His Heart is my heart. He knows who He is; He knows who I am. He is the Creator and the Creator never separates Himself from the creation. Heaven is not the actual Creator, so always there is a problem. But the Supreme identifies with His creation, so for Him, His creation is not something apart from His Reality.
Question: What does the most beautiful place in Heaven look like?Sri Chinmoy: The beauty of Heaven cannot be expressed with the human tongue or felt with the human heart. You can't express it because it is a different dimension. In Heaven, each cosmic god has a plane of his own. Then again, each real spiritual Master also has a plane of his own. People who are devoted to a Master will say that his plane is most beautiful because they see the beauty through the Master's eyes or the Master's heart. Here also, if people come to the Centre, if they see the Centre through me, they will like it. When they see me through the Centre, at that time they find millions of faults. But if they see the Centre through me, they will like it. When you people die, if you behave well, I will give you a place in my home. You will say, "Oh, it is so beautiful," just like you say, "Oh, Jamaica is so beautiful."
Question: Is there day and night in Heaven?Sri Chinmoy: It is not like earth's day and earth's night. In Heaven also, wrong forces, undivine, hostile forces, attack; so you can call it night. Here, when undivine forces assail your mind, it is night. When divine forces surround you, it is day. Night means wrong forces that are not clearly progressing. Anything that is progressing is day.
Question: Are there the same colours in Heaven as on earth?Sri Chinmoy: When you see a colour in Heaven, you will not call it a colour; you will not say the name of the colour. Name and form belong to a different dimension here. With your soul's light you will express it; but you won't call it black or green or white.
Question: Do our imperfections leave us alone in Heaven?Sri Chinmoy: When you go there, it is not like that. Think of it in this way: When you go to bed, you don't have to put on all your garments. There you don't have to put on your sari blouse, sweater and so on. In Heaven, you don't have a physical body as you do here. There, light is entering into light. When you are coming back to earth, at that time you put on different garments: the vital world, this world, that world. Some of the garments may be dirty, filthy. But there is a kind of perfection that you will eventually have: the perfection of everything that you will use on earth. That is called integral perfection.
Question: Will we all be in Heaven with you?Sri Chinmoy: People who please me here on earth will definitely go to my place in Heaven. But if you people don't please me here, will I be such a fool to believe that you will please me in Heaven? Here you say, "Guru please take me to Africa, Australia. Then I will be your best disciple. Here, because of my jealousy I can't please you. " Then on the way to Australia in the plane your mind is thinking of somebody else and jealousy again starts. People who please me here will not only go to Heaven, they will go everywhere with me. Anyone who is in my consciousness, wherever I am, he or she will also be. Inwardly I am moving to various planes. If you please me you can go everywhere inwardly, not only to Heaven.
Question: Why do beings sometimes fall from Heaven into the lower worlds?Sri Chinmoy: I have been trying for the last ten years to create a Heaven on earth. After staying with me for five, six, seven years some people make an about-turn and go away. So you see temptation is everywhere. Here somebody is tempted to seek earthly experience. Or perhaps he is tempted to experience again something undivine that he did ten years ago. He may also be tempted to do something new that is divine. So even the cosmic gods may succumb to temptation. Then, when they make a mistake they fall.
Part VI — The cosmic gods
Question: How does Lord Indra relate to the modern world?Sri Chinmoy: Lord Indra is the king of the cosmic gods, according to our mythology. On the one hand, according to tradition, he is most powerful. On the other hand, because he makes mistakes, he does not remain fixed in his own transcendental height. The so-called modern world is not guided or shaped by Indra. Very little of his influence do we see today. Only people who have studied Indian mythology and have consciously established some inner oneness with the great Indra feel his influence. Otherwise, none of the cosmic gods guide or mould humanity. Only those who have aspired to establish a conscious oneness with the Indra consciousness will receive from Indra. It is the same with the Buddha consciousness, the Krishna consciousness or the Christ consciousness.
Indra has not taken human form, so sometimes we have to use our mind to imagine him. Imagination is a reality, true. But afterwards, the mind makes the entire being feel that it is nothing but sheer imagination. We can approach the Indra consciousness sincerely and devotedly. But after we approach the god with our mind, then no matter what reality we establish or see, we doubt it. We call it imagination. Just because of the mind, we call that reality imagination. When we call it imagination, we weaken the mind-reality itself. So Indra, for some people, is only a mental fabrication.
But for other people he can be a cosmic god who arouses dynamism in us and in others so that ignorance can be conquered, especially on the vital plane. In the Vedas, he was approached not on the mental plane but the vital plane. He has a dynamic, warlike spirit. Indra is the one who gives dynamic spirit to those who consciously need it.
You can try to approach the dynamic spirit that exists either in Indra or in any other cosmic god or in the Supreme Himself. Through Indra, one can go to the highest dynamism, but it is very difficult. But if you do not know Indra, no harm. It is easier if you know someone on earth who possesses that dynamic quality or capacity. It is very difficult for people to approach the highest Absolute Supreme. But if you see someone in the physical or vital form who embodies the capacity of dynamism, then it is infinitely easier for you to reach that quality.
The modem world, by nature, is not lethargic. It is dynamic; destructive, you can say. But when it is resting with one part of its being, it has a sincere appreciation of dynamism. Someone knows what he needs, but he does not do it because the thing that he needs demands some exercise and personal effort. So the modem world, which actually needs dynamism, can get it through Indra if the modern world actually knows Indra's capacity. Again, if one does not know who Indra is or what Indra's function is, then he can invoke the power itself the dynamism as such.
Here in the Western world, if one knows a little astrology, one can invoke the planet Mars. Mars also embodies the same quality. But there is some difference between Indra and Mars. Indra's height has far surpassed Mars' height. Indra has illumination on the mental plane although Indra may not or cannot use this illumination all the time. But Mars does not even have everything that is on the vital plane.
Question: Guru, would you say a few words about the Lord Shiva?Sri Chinmoy: Lord Shiva has two aspects. In one aspect he is all compassion. In this aspect, it is easier to satisfy him than the other gods. It takes a long time to please the other cosmic gods, but when you want to please Shiva, you can do so much more easily.
There is a special leaf in India. If you use that particular leaf to worship him, then he is satisfied. He is very simple. His whole body is covered with ashes. He remains trance-bound. This is Lord Shiva in one aspect.
His other aspect I call his transformer aspect. It is absolutely the right description, but according to the Indian traditional way, it is the destroyer aspect. He dances his thunder-dance of destruction. When he sees that the world is corrupted, he destroys it with his cosmic dance. This dance of destruction is actually the dance of purification and transformation.
So one aspect is all love, all compassion. Here he is satisfied and pleased with every little thing. On the other hand, if he sees a little bit of imperfection in us, he tries to destroy it. This is Lord Shiva.
Question: Does Kali ever come and do things now to help you?Sri Chinmoy: Definitely, she helps me. How could she be my dearest mother if she did not help me?
Question: In what way can Kali and the other cosmic gods and goddesses help you?Sri Chinmoy: They can give me affection, love and concern and take some of my headaches away. When I am frustrated, they will say, "No, carry on. This is life. You are destined to achieve something very great for the Supreme. Naturally you will have to work hard for it." This kind of consolation and concern they give me. It is like a mother. Previously the child was weak and the mother helped. Then the child became much more powerful than the mother in every way. But the mother still shows her concern. This is the thing that Nolini said to me in the ashram: "A child of the mother is always a child, even until the last achievement and fulfilment." The last achievement, you can say, is realisation. But even after that, you have to call the mother "Mother."
Question: Is it true that cosmic gods assume physical forms and disguises and appear before us in order to teach us or examine us? Also, can spiritual Masters assume different physical forms?Sri Chinmoy: It is true in a certain real sense. The spiritual Master or the cosmic god does not create a new physical form, but rather he acts in and through people or other forms to achieve something or inspire someone. A new physical form is not created, but instead the consciousness of the cosmic god or the Master enters into an individual so that he may act as an instrument.
Also, a Master can reveal different faces or make his own features appear as someone else's face. I had a disciple in Puerto Rico who invoked me so soulfully and devotedly that others used to see my face while looking at her. I am male and she is female, but they used to clearly see my face on hers.
Question: Why do we see gods and goddesses riding on the backs of tigers?Sri Chinmoy: It means that they have conquered the animal forces, the destructive forces. The tiger symbolises destruction, and they have conquered the destructive forces. They are telling their devotees to become good and to aspire. They are telling their disciples that their animal qualities either are being destroyed or will be destroyed. That is why the gods and goddesses ride a tiger. Sometimes they ride a lion also. The lion means divine manifestation.
Question: Are family deities the same as cosmic gods?Sri Chinmoy: The family deity will guide and mould the members of the family that worship him. Then, above the family deity will be the cosmic gods and above the cosmic gods will be the Supreme.
Question: Are human beings often disappointed with the height of cosmic gods when they see it?Sri Chinmoy: An aspirant will not be dissatisfied with the height of the cosmic gods. Right now he is hearing a spiritual Master say that the cosmic gods are not at the highest. Since he feels that the cosmic gods are high but not to the topmost degree, he says, "I don't want their height," or "I will go far beyond it." Sometimes the seeker says, "Either I will go far beyond the cosmic gods, or I will not even make an attempt." This can also happen. A seeker says these things just because he is a disciple of a spiritual Master. Because the Master says that the gods are not at the top of the tree, the disciple feels that he is better than the gods. But this is ridiculous. The seeker doesn't even know how to climb yet, and already he is comparing himself to the cosmic gods, who have gone very, very high. Some seekers also like to compare themselves with the great spiritual Masters of the past, because they think that these Masters were not fully realised. But this is absurd. Here they are millions of miles away even from realisation, and they are comparing themselves to great spiritual Masters.
For the seeker, it is impossible to know the capacity of the cosmic gods. If you have a stomach upset, a cosmic god can fix it. But when it is a matter of nature's transformation, if you have to conquer jealousy, doubt and so on, at that time it will be a real tug-of-war if the cosmic gods have to deal with it. The cosmic gods will have to work very hard, for they do not have the highest capacity that a realised spiritual Master has.
Question: Has a human being ever been transformed into a cosmic god?Sri Chinmoy: The soul of a cosmic god is different from the soul of a human being. The soul of a human being is always evolving. It was first in the Transcendental Spirit; then it entered into inconscience, and from there it entered into the mineral, plant and animal life. Now the soul is a human being. Why does the soul have to go through this process? When it touches the bottom, it gets a greater opportunity for better manifestation.
An aspirant will not become a cosmic god because he knows that he has a greater, a much greater, a far greater opportunity to become totally one with God and to satisfy God in His own way. The cosmic gods satisfy God in God's own way to some extent. But they will not take the trouble of coming to this world where there is constant fighting and ignorance. The cosmic gods do not want to enter into the battlefield of life. They are happy. They want to remain where they are. Cosmic gods have Peace, Light and Bliss to a great extent, but they do not care for liberation; they do not care for realisation and manifestation. They won't descend on earth and cry for God-manifestation. They don't want to become involved with undivine qualities. The cosmic gods just get something, say a million dollars, and they stay with that. But if one goes on and follows the path of evolution, if one realises God, then one eventually becomes a multi-millionaire in terms of spiritual wealth.
So the souls of the cosmic gods are different from the souls of human beings. But again, there is always an exception to the rule. There have been a few human beings who have cried to the Supreme not to have to follow the way of evolution. They only wanted to remain with what they had. They didn't care for manifestation. They wanted to become cosmic gods, and in a very few cases they did become cosmic gods. But this has happened in only two or three cases. Otherwise, if you start with an evolving soul, the soul will continue to evolve and eventually it will go beyond the cosmic gods. This is very easy for us to say, but to go beyond the cosmic gods is not an easy task. But if we do, then the cosmic gods have to listen to us.
Question: Do the realised Masters who have gone beyond the cosmic gods ever have to deal with the cosmic gods?Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. Suppose that a spiritual Master is having a special function outside and then suddenly it starts to rain. Let us say that a wrong element has attacked. Now, what are the cosmic gods doing? They are sleeping. The cosmic gods who have power over these elements, over these forces, are not controlling them. So what does the Master do? He challenges the cosmic gods. They are not doing their duty, so he has to speak to them. Then, in two or three minutes, the rain will stop. Many times this happens. If the Master doesn't have this kind of connection or, you can say, superior power or capacity, do you think that the rain will stop?
Question: Could you speak about trying to achieve union with Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva?Sri Chinmoy: If someone is a sincere devotee of Brahma, when he dies, he goes to Brahma's world. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva all have their own worlds that are in Heaven. They are like different states. Some of the spiritual Masters also have their own worlds. Your Guru has one. Right now, his world is very vast, but very few people are there. But one day, if you people behave well, you will come to my world. In Brahma's world, the power aspect is paramount. In Vishnu's world, the compassion aspect is paramount. And in Shiva's world, the trance-consciousness, the self-amorous trance-consciousness is paramount. Again, there is Krishna's world. Krishna is a direct descendant of Vishnu. Krishna has a separate world, a private world, which is not Vishnu's world. It is very beautiful and soulful, and very big.
Question: When a seeker gets to a point where he's challenged by the cosmic gods, will he know?Sri Chinmoy: Easily he will know who is challenging him.
Editor's preface to the first editionIn this book, a God-realised Yogi with firsthand knowledge of the higher worlds answers a series of questions about the soul and the process of reincarnation, Heaven and the cosmic gods.