Soulful questions and fruitful answers
Question: How can one teach meditation to young school children while still obeying the laws which say you can't teach religion?Sri Chinmoy: You have to tell the school authorities that meditation is not religion; far from it. Religion deals with the physical plane, the vital plane and the mental plane, whereas meditation does not deal with these planes. Meditation deals only with the oneness plane.
As long as we remain in the physical, vital and mental planes, we shall have differences. We shall have confusing, binding and blinding ideas. But if we remain in the world of meditation, which is oneness-reality with God's entire creation, then we far transcend the barriers of religion.
So the young students must know that meditation does not claim that any religion is superior to others. It does not feed the superiority or inferiority of any religion. Meditation feeds only the individuals who cry for God-manifestation and all-loving self-expansion.
Question: How can a student who is not leading a spiritual life use the heart to learn?Sri Chinmoy: A student who is not leading a spiritual life can never use the heart to learn, for the spiritual life and the heart of light must needs go together.
Question: What is the soul's education?Sri Chinmoy: On earth, the soul's education is God-manifestation. In Heaven, the soul's education is Delight-absorption.
Question: Is it possible to be a good teacher without being spiritual?Sri Chinmoy: It is simply impossible to be a good teacher without being spiritual. But spirituality is a vast field. Spirituality does not mean only concentration, meditation and contemplation. It also means an honest life, a moral life, a sympathetic heart. One does not have to be strictly spiritual in order to gain these qualities. One may have these qualities as his inborn right. In that case, one can become a good teacher without being spiritual in the strict or pure sense of the term.
Question: Is it possible for a technical education to further one's spiritual life?Sri Chinmoy: No, it is the other way around. It is the spiritual life that will further technical education. Technical education is founded on the prosperity of matter, whereas spirituality is founded on the reality of spirit.
God the Spirit came into existence long before God the Matter. Therefore, if the God that is in spirituality comes first in our life, then only will the God who is in technical education be able to prosper. The elder brother has to lead the younger brother to the destination. This is normal and natural. Since the elder brother was born long before the younger brother, he knows the way and he knows the goal. He knows the way and the goal long before the younger brother has even thought of the way or the goal.
Question: How can the outer education and the inner education go hand in hand?Sri Chinmoy: The outer education and the inner education can go hand in hand provided one knows what the outer education is and what the inner education is. The outer education is concern for humanity. The inner education is oneness with humanity. If there is no concern there can be no oneness. But if there is oneness, then concern is automatically there.
Question: What is the difference between training and education?Sri Chinmoy: In the ultimate analysis, there is no difference between training and education. Training is preparatory to a fulfilling achievement; education is also preparatory to a fulfilling achievement.
When we train ourselves, we see more light within us and without. When we educate ourselves, we see light within and without. Therefore, both training and education ultimately serve the same purpose.
Question: How can we create a more spiritual atmosphere in the classroom?Sri Chinmoy: You can create a more spiritual atmosphere in the classroom by telling the children that they have a friend who is coming from a very far, very distant place to visit them. Since this friend is taking so much trouble to visit them, they should be ready to welcome him and offer to him all their love. And when the children ask the teacher who that friend is, the teacher will say, "God, the all-loving Father."
Question: How can we memorise with the heart?Sri Chinmoy: You don't have to memorise with the heart. Just become one with the heart. When you become one with the heart, at that time you are the heart. Then try to become one with the subject that you are studying. Your oneness, your heart's oneness with the subject, is bound to bring to the fore the essence and the substance of the subject. And when both the essence and the substance are brought to the fore, automatically you will be in a position to memorise the thing.
Question: How can a teacher learn to discipline children without bringing his own undivine qualities to the fore?Sri Chinmoy: If children are unruly and undisciplined, that means that they have consciously or unconsciously surrendered to some undivine force. The undivine force here is restlessness, the mischievous monkey-consciousness. But the force that the restless monkey-consciousness embodies can easily be challenged and overcome by an infinitely higher force. That force is called inner poise.
If the teacher uses his inner poise, no matter how undivine and unspiritual the children are, still he can bring the children under control. When the children behave like animals, if the teacher also becomes an animal and tries to fight them or conquer them with his greater animal power, then he is making a serious mistake. Animal consciousness has to be conquered by human consciousness. Again, it is not actually a matter of conquering; it is a matter of illumining. The animal consciousness has to be illumined by the human consciousness, and the human consciousness has to be transformed and illumined by the divine consciousness.
Question: How can we learn to always listen to our heart, which is our best teacher?Sri Chinmoy: We can learn to always listen to our heart if we can consciously make ourselves feel that what we have and what we are is only the heart. And what is the heart? The heart is love, the heart is oneness. If we know that the heart is the only thing that we have and that we are, then all the good qualities of the heart become part and parcel of our reality-life.
Question: What is the most important thing to learn?Sri Chinmoy: The most important thing to learn is how to unlearn the ignorance that we have been learning so faithfully for millions of years.
Question: Is it necessary for a parent and teacher and child to love each other when the child is learning in a particular class?Sri Chinmoy: Yes, it is absolutely necessary for the parent, the teacher and the child to love one another. The parents, the teacher and the child must all feel that they belong to the same family. The parents were the child's first friends. Then his teacher came to him as a friend. The more friends that the child has, the easier it will be for him to conquer his enemy: Ignorance. So when he gets more friends, new friends, then he must always welcome them.
Question: What is the quickest way to learn the language of a different country?Sri Chinmoy: The quickest way to learn the language of a different country is to love the soul of that particular country. Then you have to love the heart of that country and finally you have to love the consciousness of that country. When the consciousness, heart and soul of the country are loved, immediately the outer vehicle of the country — which is language — tries to befriend the student who wants to learn it.
Question: Does training the physical mind destroy the intuition of a child?Sri Chinmoy: Training the physical mind does not destroy the intuition of a child. Only it puts aside the intuitive faculty. The intuitive capacity does not and cannot function when the physical mind is too active. But when the physical mind is alert or active, you can't say that intuition will totally be destroyed. No, only the intuition power cannot function properly. When the seeker begins to aspire and consciously prays and meditates, the physical mind is transformed into the illumined mind. At that time, the dormant intuitive faculty bears fruit.
Question: How necessary is a formal education?Sri Chinmoy: It entirely depends on the individual. It is true that most human beings must have a formal education. Otherwise, they will not be of much use to society. If you don't get a formal education, you will act not only like a fool but also like an animal.
But again, one does not have to go to school in order to get formal education. India's Rabindranath Tagore and George Bernard Shaw of the West — to name just two — are among those who did not go to so-called high schools and colleges to get a formal education. But they did get education, a broad formal education. For formal education does not mean schooling. Formal education means learning the knowledge that is necessary in order to conquer the world. In order to have a strong footing in the world, it is quite necessary for a human being to have formal education.
Question: How can we learn what is really important in life?Sri Chinmoy: What is really important in life is self-giving. To whom do we give ourselves? We give ourselves to God inside all human beings. How do we do that? We do that by feeling that there is no other way to become happy and fulfilled in life.
Question: How can we keep our outer education from being an obstacle to our inner education?Sri Chinmoy: We can keep our outer education from being an obstacle to our inner education by allowing the inner education to come to the fore and illumine the outer education.
The outer education is world-information; the inner education is self-realisation. It is only self-realisation that can illumine and transform world-information and take world-information into another world, which is known as the experience-world.
Question: How can a child be educated without losing his spontaneity and freedom?Sri Chinmoy: A child can be educated without losing his spontaneity and freedom only when the teacher consciously feels that God Himself is an eternal Child who does everything spontaneously by exercising His divine Freedom. And what is His divine Freedom? His divine Freedom is constant, conscious and unconditional Self-giving.
Question: How can a teacher always offer her heart to her students?Sri Chinmoy: The teacher can always offer her heart to her students provided she feels that she is not just teaching ignorant students. She has to feel that what she is actually doing is pleasing her beloved Supreme and serving her beloved Supreme in His own way by serving the students.
Question: How can you help a person to remember when he always forgets?Sri Chinmoy: You can help a person to remember a thing or an incident by doing two things. First, you can tell him that he is not the forgetful mind but the all-remembering soul that knows the Beginning's beginning and the ever-transcending End. You can consciously pray to the Supreme to grant your dear one the capacity to have a new mind, a new mental receptivity, a new mental awakening.
Question: What are the guidelines by which a teacher can recognise spirituality in his children?Sri Chinmoy: The child's simplicity, purity and flower-like smile will enable the teacher to recognise spirituality in the child.
Question: How can a teacher know when to be compassionate and when to be a disciplinarian?Sri Chinmoy: There are two roads that lead to the same destination. One road is known as the Compassion-road and the other road is known as the Discipline-road. Although both roads lead to the same destination, God prefers the Compassion-road over the Discipline-road; for He feels that if a child walks along His Compassion-road, then the child will be able to walk much faster.
Only when everything else fails does God resort to disciplining the lives of His students. But again, God tells us that even His disciplinary action is nothing short of Compassion, for it is His compassionate Heart which makes Him want to illumine and perfect His children.
Compassion is the first and foremost approach in dealing with unruly children. Discipline is the last resort. Again, on the practical level, the teacher must observe secretly whether a particular student responds more to life's compassionate aspect or life's disciplinary aspect. By knowing that, he can easily do the needful.
Question: Should every individual be educated to his fullest capacity?Sri Chinmoy: Yes, every individual should be educated to his fullest capacity because education is self-cultivation. The more one cultivates oneself, the more one comes to realise what his ultimate realisation is. His ultimate realisation is self-transcendence, and for that an ever-transcending education is necessary.
Question: When and how will the Supreme introduce a new educational system?Sri Chinmoy: When will the Supreme introduce a new educational system? The Supreme will introduce a new educational system only when our consciousness becomes more receptive, more aspiring, more self-giving.
How will the Supreme introduce a new educational system? The Supreme will introduce a new educational system by making us feel that the new educational system is nothing but self-illumination and life-perfection.
Question: Can meditation be used to increase a person's I.Q.?Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. Anything that is progressive, anything that is illumining, anything that is fulfilling is the result of conscious or unconscious meditation. If the meditation is conscious, then the progress is noticeable sooner than at once. If the meditation is unconscious, then the progress cannot be quick and it may not be noted outwardly.
Question: What can I do to inspire myself to write my papers?Sri Chinmoy: You can do two things to inspire yourself to write your papers. First, try to cultivate within yourself the supreme necessity of being a divine instrument of God. Then, try to feel that you are not writing papers as such, you are writing soulful letters to God Himself. If you do that, then you are bound to be surcharged with inspiration.
Question: Can all children be reached spiritually?Sri Chinmoy: Yes, all children can and must be reached spiritually. Needless to say, it is infinitely easier to reach children spiritually than to reach them any other way. For children are nothing but fresh and beautiful flowers ready to be placed on the altar of God the Truth, God the Light and God the Delight.
Question: How should a student who is trying to be spiritual feel toward her earthly teachers?Sri Chinmoy: A student who is trying to be spiritual must have a good feeling toward her earthly teachers, for it is God Himself who is teaching her through her earthly teachers — for a special purpose.
God is both earth-teacher and Heaven-teacher. When He plays the role of earth-teacher, He tells His students that no matter how ignorant they are, still He is ready and eager to teach them And when He plays the role of Heaven-teacher, He tells His students that He and they are one and inseparable. He is the tree and they are His leaves, flowers and fruits.
Question: How can mothers best increase their patience when teaching young children?Sri Chinmoy: The mothers should realise that once upon a time they too were children. They behaved exactly the same way as their children, if not worse. If their own parents were good enough to swim in the sea of patience-light, then the mothers should do the same for their children. What we learn, we teach. The mothers' parents taught them the message of patience, and the mothers now should practise it in their own lives. The result will be world-illumining children.
Question: What did God teach my soul before I took incarnation?Sri Chinmoy: Before you took Incarnation, God taught your soul how to become one with all souls by virtue of your soul's humility-light and service-delight.
Question: How does one become a good teacher?Sri Chinmoy: One becomes a good teacher by sincerely feeling that he himself is a student and that the more soulfully he teaches, the more unreservedly he learns from above.
Question: How can one listen unconditionally to one's teacher?Sri Chinmoy: A teacher is not a slave-driver. A teacher is an ignorance-transformer, a knowledge-revealer and a wisdom-fulfiller. One can listen unconditionally to one's teacher if one can make oneself feel that the teacher has no ulterior motive. If we can feel that the teacher is teaching out of sheer joy, out of sheer love, out of sheer concern, then one can easily listen to him unconditionally.
Question: Is God a teacher or a student?Sri Chinmoy: God is both teacher and student.
As a student, He is humanity's aspiration-cry. As a teacher, He is Divinity's realisation-smile.
He cries; therefore He achieves. He smiles; therefore He proceeds.
Question: At what age should a child be taught spirituality?Sri Chinmoy: A child should be taught spirituality from the very first moment he sees the light of day. When the child cries for the first time, the mother must ask herself why the child has cried. Is it because the child saw ignorance-sea for the first time and became afraid? Or is it because the child is missing the Light and Delight which he was wont to enjoy?
If the mother feels that it is ignorance-sea which has frightened the child, then she must tell the child that this ignorance-sea is short-lived, and that soon wisdom-sea will come into existence. At that time, the child will be able to swim and enjoy supreme satisfaction.
And if the mother feels that it is the separation from Heaven-Light that has compelled the child to cry, then she must tell the child that God is not only in Heaven but also on earth. She must tell the child that God sent him down to earth to fulfil a special purpose. In either case, the mother must speak to the inner reality of the child, which is the soul.
Question: How can I learn to conquer self-doubt?Sri Chinmoy: You can learn to conquer self-doubt by consciously asserting your faith in God and God's faith in you. Your faith in God will tell you that you will realise Him without fail. God's faith in you will tell you that God has already done everything for you. You have only to watch and enjoy.
Question: What is the quickest way to learn from our mistakes?Sri Chinmoy: The quickest way to learn from our mistakes is to be determined not to make the same mistakes again. There are two ways to do that: the positive way and the negative way. The positive way is to make ourselves feel that each mistake is a pathfinder, an unconscious or conscious pathfinder to the Truth-existence. The other way, the negative way, is to remember the untold sufferings that we have gone through as a result of committing the mistake. If the experience remains vivid for some time, then we will be always on the alert, and our alertness will save us from committing the same mistake again.
Question: If we are constantly striving for a higher academic degree, does it pull us away from the heart?Sri Chinmoy: Not necessarily. If you are striving to achieve a higher life, a higher wisdom, a higher perfection in life so that you can offer these higher qualities to the world at large, then it will not pull you away from the heart. But if you are striving for a higher degree in order to make others feel that they are inferior, then naturally it will pull you away from the heart. If your attitude is divine, then no matter what height you achieve, still your heart quality will not diminish. On the contrary, when your attitude is good, only then will your ever-transcending illumination-mind and ever-loving fulfilment-heart help you become truly happy and supremely fulfilled.
Question: What is the best way to educate the unaspiring parts of one's being?Sri Chinmoy: The best way to educate the unaspiring parts of one's being is to make them conscious of the supreme necessity of happiness — happiness in life and a life of happiness. In order to achieve happiness in life and discover a life of happiness, one must aspire. What is aspiration? Aspiration is God-satisfaction. And what is non-aspiration? Non-aspiration is animal-satisfaction.
Question: What is the supreme duty of an educator?Sri Chinmoy: The supreme duty of an educator is to give himself away thrice: before he begins teaching, while he is teaching and after he has taught.
Before he begins teaching, he has to give himself away soulfully. While he is teaching, he has to give himself away unreservedly. After he has taught, he has to give himself away unconditionally.
Question: Is there a particular quality that we should invoke while teaching our children?Sri Chinmoy: There are many qualities that you should invoke while teaching your children, but the most important quality is self-giving. This unparalleled quality you should invoke not only while you are teaching your children, but all the time, whether your children are around you or not.
Question: How can we be taught to become tolerant?Sri Chinmoy: Let us try to know the spiritual significance of tolerance. Tolerance is not conscious submission to a superior power. Real tolerance is compassion in disguise. When we have real tolerance, the seeker in us sees the expansion of his loving heart, his illumining soul and his fulfilling goal.
Question: What is the difference between information and wisdom?Sri Chinmoy: The difference between information and wisdom is very simple. Information is the song of division and separation from the sole Entity, whereas wisdom is the freedom of the Infinite in the finite and the delight of the finite in the Infinite.
Question: How can a teacher who is spiritually unawakened learn to teach with his heart?Sri Chinmoy: A teacher who is spiritually unawakened can never learn to teach with his heart. Before he can teach with his heart, he must first teach his mind. He must teach his mind how to become receptive, how to unlearn the teachings that its ignorance-teacher has taught it over the years. Unfortunately, the mind-student is not obedient, whereas the heart-student is not only obedient but also self-giving.
Question: How can we know which parts of our intellectual or creative self should be developed so that we can best serve the Supreme?Sri Chinmoy: You can know which part of your intellectual or creative self should be developed by becoming more fully acquainted with the divine qualities that each part of your existence embodies, reveals and manifests most effectively. Suppose you want to see the truth most effectively on the intellectual plane. Then, instead of sharpening your intellect, you have to try to illumine your intellect by invoking the light of the soul. Or suppose you want to know which field of creativity is meant for you. Then, while your creative self is revealing its capacity in various fields, try to observe which field gives you most joy and satisfaction. If the poet in you gives you immediate joy, then throw yourself into the poetry-world. If the artist in you gives you spontaneous joy, then throw yourself into the art-world. If the musician in you gives you spontaneous joy, then throw yourself into the world of music. Whatever field gives you the most joy should be immediately accepted. Your very acceptance of this is the best way of serving the Supreme.
Question: Why are my teachers in school always so mean?1Sri Chinmoy: Dear Daniel, sweet boy, I feel sorry for you. At the same time, I also feel sorry for your teachers. You feel that your teachers are always mean. The teachers feel that you children are always unruly and undisciplined. The teachers do love you, but right now they deal with you in a way that is familiar to you: by shouting and yelling. They feel that this is the best way, since you are familiar with this way.
But there is another way, and your teachers are eager to show you that way. The moment you become calm, quiet and obedient, your teachers will give you a soulful smile and their fruitful wisdom lovingly, steadily and completely.
SQ 46. Question from Daniel (age 9)↩
Question: Can we ever have too much education?Sri Chinmoy: Yes, we can have too much, or a disproportionate amount of education, when we use our earthbound mind-information to exhibit our dazzling capacities or to destroy the spontaneous possibilities in aspiring human souls.
Question: Were teachers better in the olden days?Sri Chinmoy: Yes. In the olden days, especially in the Vedic era, the teachers used to consider their students as true members of their immediate family. Therefore, the teachers shared with the students their wisdom-light constantly and unreservedly, and imparted to their students the supreme knowledge: Tat twam asi, "Thou art that, That thou art. In essence and substance, my children, you are the One without a second." The teachers of the hoary past not only inspired their students, but also aspired in and through them to help them see the effulgence of their own inner sun. This is the sun that illumines the darkness of millennia and transforms truth-experience-possibility into truth-realisation-inevitability.
Question: Is it good for a student to be a teacher's pet?Sri Chinmoy: First of all, we have to know why a student becomes his teacher's pet. He becomes so by virtue of his hard work and true love of knowledge-light. If a teacher discovers that a particular student of his is consumed with the hunger to swim in the sea of wisdom-light, whereas other students are wanting in this hunger, then the teacher has every right to bring that particular student closest to his life-illumining mental aura. In this way, he will help the student accelerate his progress in the field of education, which is nothing other than life-recovery, self-mastery and God-discovery.
Question: Do twins learn the same way?Sri Chinmoy: Twins need not and cannot learn the same way, precisely because they have different souls. Each soul has a special way of receiving Light from above and manifesting this Light on earth. Twins may enter into the earth-arena together, but the promises they made to the Absolute Supreme while they were in the soul's world may not be the same. Therefore, their ways of learning here on earth and their ways of sharing their knowledge may widely differ.
Question: In the spiritual life, when does the teacher get joy and frustration, and when does the student?Sri Chinmoy: In the spiritual life, there is a time when the teacher gets frustration and there is a time when the teacher gets joy. When the teacher operates from his human consciousness, he gets nothing but frustration from his student. But when he operates from his divine consciousness, which is his inseparable oneness-reality with the student, he receives joy — pure, unalloyed and fulfilling joy. For God the Author of supreme Good has granted the teacher the golden opportunity to realise Him in the various stages of His own evolution.
The student gets more joy than frustration from the teacher if the student is lucky to have a genuine teacher, and if he is ready, constantly ready, to be moulded and shaped by the Will of the Absolute Supreme which operates in and through the spiritual teacher. The student gets frustration from the teacher when he forgets about his present aspiration-life and unconsciously or consciously wants to go back or insists on going back to his desire-life. The wise teacher cannot and does not satisfy the earth-devouring hunger of the student and, at this point, the student becomes frustration incarnate.
Question: What is the most effective relationship between the teacher and the student?Sri Chinmoy: The most effective relationship between the teacher and the student is one of self-giving. The student will give the teacher what he has: his sincere search for knowledge-light; and the teacher will give the student what he consciously is: his oneness-might.
Question: What is the point of learning seemingly impractical things like calculus or a lot of math?Sri Chinmoy: By entering into the world of arithmetic, mathematics and calculus, we try to bind the Infinite by finite methods. The earth-bound mind thinks that this is the only way to capture the Heaven-free realities. But the God-loving heart feels that Infinity cannot be bound; it cannot even be totally envisioned, for it is always in the process of self-transcendence. Therefore, what the heart wants is to grow into Infinity's oneness-reality in order to achieve constant Light and Delight in infinite measure. The seeker-heart wants to get joy not by binding, but by becoming one with Infinity. The non-seeker, from the strict spiritual point of view — the person who is matter-bound and not spirit-free — wants to get joy by binding Infinity in the finite. But this is impossibility itself.
Question: Does God enjoy teaching or learning?Sri Chinmoy: There was a time when God enjoyed teaching. But since He has been so mercilessly criticised and misunderstood by the unlit humanity, He has decided to change the course of His cosmic Game. Now He wants to learn from humanity's frustration-sea and destruction-sky.
Question: What is the distance between the mind-confusion and the heart-illumination?Sri Chinmoy: When the distance is measured by the frustration-vital the distance is farther than the farthest. When the distance is measure by the satisfaction-soul, the distance is shorter than the shortest. Not only that, the distance-reality does not exist between the cry of here and the smile of there, for they are inseparable and eternally one. The cry illumines, the smile fulfils.
Question: What should I try to learn and what shall I try to unlearn?Sri Chinmoy: You should try to unlearn what you have acquired: ignorance-message. You should try to learn more and more of what you have already received: oneness-beauty.
Question: Does God's Power lie in His Oneness-Love?Sri Chinmoy: God is all-power precisely because He is all Love and oneness in His cosmic Vision-Seed, oneness in His cosmic Reality-Tree.
Question: I want to learn from God the quickest way to get rid of my depression-hound.Sri Chinmoy: God asks me to tell you that the quickest way to get rid of your depression-hound is to buy and tame a gratitude-lamb.
Question: Did God go to kindergarten?Sri Chinmoy: Certainly God did. Not only did He go to kindergarten, but He wants to eternally remain in the kindergarten. Kindergarten is the place where at every moment God's earth-beauty and Heaven-beauty are constantly dancing before Him. Earth-beauty is dancing before Him in an ever-transcending manner. Heaven-beauty is dancing before Him in an ever-illumining manner. Therefore, God always wants to remain in His Vision's Child-Consciousness and not in mind-fossilised sound-reality.
Question: How is it that my first grade teacher still remembers me so well?Sri Chinmoy: Your first grade teacher still remembers you well because he thinks and feels that you have grown in terms of years, but not in terms of wisdom-light. Therefore, he is eagerly waiting for you and expecting for you and expecting you to continue studying with him. Although you know who your first grade teacher was, you perhaps may have forgotten his name. His name is ignorance-hunger.
Question: What is the basic difference between man-education and woman-education?Sri Chinmoy: Man-education says, "I can do it." Woman-education says, "I have already done it. And for whom but for you, man, O man!"