Sound and silence, part 1

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Part I — Discourses

SSC 1-7. These talks are part of a series that Sri Chinmoy delivered in the spring of 1981 at 14 universities in California and on the East Coast. The series covered all of the Ivy League universities, many of the Seven Sister colleges, the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University.


What is perfection? Perfection is satisfaction.

Where is perfection? Perfection is inside a soulful heart.

Where is a soulful heart? A soulful heart is inside the seeker’s teeming gratitude-flames.

The seeker’s blossoming faith longs for spontaneous perfection. The seeker’s mounting aspiration longs for constant perfection. The seeker’s self-giving dedication longs for complete perfection.

As the vision of perfection is implicit within, even so the manifestation of perfection needs must be explicit without.

Perfection without self-mastery is simply impossible. Self-mastery without self-knowledge is unmistakably impossible. Self-knowledge without God-Compassion is helplessly impossible. God-Compassion without aspiration-cry is invariably impossible. Aspiration-cry without will-power is eternally impossible.

What is will-power? Will-power is the beauty of fulness in oneness. Fulness is success-smile. Oneness is progress-dance. Success-smile is unimaginably powerful. Progress-dance is unfathomably peaceful. A powerful life tells the seeker what he can eventually become in his outer life: God the Power. A peaceful life tells the seeker what he eternally is in his inner life: God the Peace.

Perfection is satisfaction. But the proud and complacent satisfaction of our desire-life can easily and foolishly invite darkening and tormenting dissatisfaction. Our ignorant body-existence is satisfied with an insignificant iota of satisfaction. Our wise soul-existence is satisfied only when it has achieved complete and absolute satisfaction. The desire-life has, at best, a fleeting satisfaction. The aspiration-life is not only a heightening satisfaction, but also an enduring satisfaction. Satisfaction ultimately is the highest Delight: Delight eternal, Delight infinite and Delight immortal.

The seeker needs perfection in his prayer. The seeker needs perfection in his meditation. The seeker’s perfect prayer is: “Father, let Thy Will be done.” The seeker’s perfect meditation is: “God for God’s sake, always.”

If the body sincerely tries, if the vital dynamically strives, if the mind desperately searches and if the heart soulfully cries, then perfection-satisfaction cannot remain a far cry. It certainly can be within easy reach for the truth-seeker and God-lover.

SSC 1. University of California at Berkeley, 6 March 1981


Transcendence is the revelation of a seeker’s inner urge. Transcendence is the manifestation of a seeker’s inner beauty. Transcendence is the perfection of a seeker’s inner duty. Transcendence is the Satisfaction of a seeker’s Inner Pilot.

Transcendence determines at once a stupendous success in the outer domain of our knowledge-light and a momentous progress in the inner domain of our wisdom-delight.

Transcendence surprises an ordinary man. Transcendence awakens a great man. Transcendence encourages a good man. Transcendence energises a truth-seeker. Transcendence enlightens a God-lover.

A seeker’s soul lives with the vision-reality of transcendence. A seeker’s heart listens to the vision-reality of transcendence. A seeker’s mind gets inspiration from the vision-reality of transcendence. A seeker’s vital obeys the vision-reality of transcendence. A seeker's body receives purity from the vision-reality of transcendence.

A transcendence-cry speedily improves our inner nature’s faith and devotion. A transcendence-smile easily and lovingly transforms our outer nature’s insecurity and impurity into security and purity.

There is nothing as frightening as ignorance-night in action. There is nothing as illumining as knowledge-day in action. There is nothing as fulfilling as wisdom-sky in action. There is nothing as satisfying as transcendence-sun in action.

There are many people who are satisfied with what they have and what they are. There are only a very few seekers who sincerely want to transcend themselves and divinely enjoy transcendence-delight. These seekers have developed a ceaseless inner cry. If their aspiration-cry is sleeplessly soulful and breathlessly unconditional, then their transcendence-flight towards the ever-transcending Beyond can easily, unmistakably and unimaginably be shortened. These few seekers, at God’s choice Hour, will be blessed with transcendence-delight and will breathe deep of transcendence-delight.

Needless to say, transcendence-delight is extremely difficult to find in ourselves and surely impossible to discover in others. I cannot feel transcendence-delight in others unless and until I have felt it in the inmost recesses of my own inner being. If I want to transcend myself, then I must only sit devotedly at the Feet of my Beloved Supreme. If I want to transcend others, then I must see only their good qualities and make these my very own.

If I cannot transcend myself, it is no disgrace. But if I do not want to transcend myself, it is not only a disgrace, but also a fatal failure. I must transcend myself in the outer world so that I can perform divinely my God-ordained earthly duty. I must transcend myself in the inner world so that slowly, steadily and unerringly I can grow into a supremely beautiful Vision-Reality of my Inner Pilot.

SSC 2. Stanford University, 3 March 1981


Concentration-art is the speed-success of an artist. Concentration-art is the perfection-progress of an artist. Concentration-art is the satisfaction-smile of an artist.

Concentration expedites and strengthens art. Art marvels at and treasures concentration.

Concentration says to art: “Be not afraid of me. Be not afraid of my intensity. My intention is good. I love you. I want to help you. I want to glorify you. I want to immortalise you.”

Art says to concentration: “I am all gratitude to you. Therefore, my heart is all receptivity. You are the source of my heart’s beauty. You are the force of my life’s duty. You are the course of my soul’s journey.”

If you are a seeker-artist, then definitely you are doing your concentration-art lovingly. If you are a server-artist, then unmistakably you are doing your concentration-art devotedly. If you are a seer-artist, then soulfully you are feeling God’s illumining Love permeating your concentration-art blessingfully.

Concentration gives me determination. Determination gives me regularity. Regularity gives me confidence. Confidence gives me punctuality. Punctuality gives me the success-sound in my outer life and the progress-silence in my inner life.

Art gives me a flowing inspiration. Inspiration gives me a mounting aspiration. Aspiration gives me a glowing realisation. Realisation gives me a fulfilling manifestation. Manifestation gives me an abiding satisfaction.

Doubtless becomes my mind if I concentrate before I do my artwork. Thoughtless becomes my mind if I concentrate during my artwork. Flawless becomes my concentration-art if, at the end of my artwork, soulfully and devotedly I offer the results to my Inner Pilot, the Artist Supreme.

O artist, if your vital is afraid to concentrate, then how can you expect your art to reveal divinity within? Truth to tell, you will only cause frustration for God, the Supreme Artist, and man, the future God. O artist, if your mind is reluctant to concentrate, then how do you expect your art to establish a oneness-life with God’s Satisfaction-Heart? O artist, if your heart is hesitant to concentrate, do you not think that your soul, the God-representative on earth, will be totally disappointed in you — nay, will be unmistakably disgusted with you? For, according to your soul, you are a seeker-artist who is eventually going to become a seer-artist.

Concentration-art, meditation-art and contemplation-art. Concentration-art pierces the tenebrous ignorance-night. Meditation-art unveils the prosperous knowledge-dawn. Contemplation-art reveals the glorious wisdom-sun and satisfies God the Supreme Artist and His Unity-Vision in His Multiplicity-Manifestation.

SSC 3. Dartmouth College, 9 March 1981


Compassion is God’s Blessing-Light. Compassion is God’s Concern-Height. Compassion is God’s Oneness-Delight.

The searching mind will eventually receive God’s Blessing-Light. The aspiring heart spontaneously feels God’s Concern-Height. The self-giving life sleeplessly enjoys God’s Oneness-Delight.

Compassion is God’s Love-Intensity for a God-seeker. Compassion is God’s Fondness-Immensity for a God-seeker.

Compassion is wisdom. Wisdom embodies peace, birthless and deathless. He who has peace has everything, both here on earth and there in Heaven.

Compassion is kindness unfathomable. Once a son of the great philosopher William James went to visit his uncle, the great writer Henry James. The uncle gave his nephew three pieces of advice that he felt would be of tremendous help to him: the first important thing in life is kindness; the second important thing in life is kindness; and the third important thing in life is kindness.

Compassion is at once the seed and fruit of self-education. And it is from self-education that we can offer our wisdom-light to mankind. Wisdom-light is a self-giving flame that slowly, steadily and unerringly grows into a God-becoming sun.

Self-education is founded upon a disciplined life. Once a young man wrote a letter to the great philosopher Thomas Carlyle asking him for advice on how he could be successful in teaching. Carlyle immediately replied that he should first be what he would like his pupils to be. All other teaching, he said, is sheer deception.

On the strength of my self-education, if I can offer my sacred love to God the creation, if I can offer my secret devotion to God the Creator and if I can offer my unconditional surrender to God, my Beloved Supreme, then and then alone my entire earthly-existence will be flooded with Light and Delight.

Before I speak, I must see. Before I see, I must feel. Before I feel, I must believe. What must I believe? I must believe that if I can show compassion to humanity, then Delight will be my reward. I shall experience the same Delight which God Himself has been experiencing from time immemorial, since the very birth of His creation.

If I can offer compassion to humanity, then I will get the golden opportunity to become soulfully receptive. If I become soulfully receptive, then the yet unmanifested God will be able to manifest Himself powerfully and satisfactorily in and through me. If cheerfully and unconditionally I can offer an iota of compassion to humanity, then God will immediately grant me His Vision-Crown and His Reality-Throne.

A man of compassion is a pure saint in his inner life and a sure hero in his outer life. His heart is an ever-blossoming perfection-flower inside the Satisfaction-Tower of his Beloved Supreme. God showers constantly His choicest Blessings upon him, upon his devoted mind and his surrendered heart.

God has many, many magnets, but His Compassion-Magnet is by far the best. It is unparalleled, without a second, and it shall remain unparalleled throughout Eternity. God’s Compassion-Magnet pulls humanity, with all its excruciating pangs, towards God’s transcendental Height.

God’s unconditional Compassion grants humanity hope and grants divinity promise. Because of God’s unconditional Compassion, humanity’s hope and divinity’s promise can together live a compassion-life in oneness-delight.

SSC 4. Brown University, 26 March 1981

The Vision-Dawn6

O Vision-Dawn, you are beautiful, amazingly beautiful. You are pure, astonishingly pure. You are self-giving, sleeplessly self-giving. You are perfect, absolutely perfect.

Mine are the eyes that appreciate your beauty. Mine is the mind that admires your purity. Mine is the heart that adores your self-giving. Mine is the life that loves your perfection.

Because of you and your eternal kindness, ignorance-night cannot weaken my vision. Because of you and your infinite compassion, ignorance-night cannot threaten my mission. Because of you and your immortal love, ignorance-night does not dare to challenge my realisation.

Because I sincerely love you, nobody can lord it over my mind. Because I devotedly love you, nobody can enslave my heart. Because I unreservedly love you, nobody can imprison my life.

Each individual has countless problems. I am no exception. But to my extreme joy, O Vision-Dawn, when I encounter serious problems, you come to rescue me and whisper immediate solutions.

When doubt-clouds cover my mind, your rainbow-smile flies down to save me. When insecurity assails my entire being, you whisper, “I shall always be with you and for you — to save you, to illumine you, to perfect you and to fulfil you. I shall enter into you with a most powerful sunrise. Yours will be a security-heart. Yours will be a confidence-life.”

O Vision-Dawn, is there any seeker on earth who does not need you? But alas, there are very few seekers who soulfully aspire to receive you. Most of us want success-glory without the effort-pangs.

I wish to offer an amusing anecdote. Here at this august university Professor William Lyon Phelps once was correcting pre-Christmas examination papers. One unfortunate student had written: “God alone can answer this question. Merry Christmas!” The professor returned the paper with this fruitful message: “To God I give an A and to you I give an F. Happy New Year!”

The same truth applies to most of us. We want our life to be flooded with success-glory, but we do not want to pay the price. Personal effort is of paramount importance right from our journey’s start to our journey’s close. And since there is no end to our self-transcendence, personal effort is always needed. It is an eternal journey, and we are the pilgrims walking, marching and running along Eternity’s Road.

Again, there comes a time when we dive deep within and realise the supreme truth that inside our personal effort what looms large is God’s blessingful Grace. However, His Grace works invisibly. So in the beginning of our spiritual life, we find it almost impossible to see God’s unconditional Grace operating in and through our personal effort. But eventually we do see and feel this.

Again, there comes a time when we realise that success is not the goal; progress is our only goal. No powerful Grace, no fruitful progress. No fruitful progress, no abiding satisfaction. Grace, effort and progress together create a oneness-perfection and fulness-satisfaction.

Each individual soul is a choice instrument of God. Each individual soul has to accomplish something unique here on earth before it passes behind the curtain of Eternity. Each individual soul has a message, a special gift, to offer to Mother Earth. Each soul tries to leave here something divinely inspiring and supremely fulfilling. Before he breathed his last, Beethoven, the supreme composer, offered this immortal message: “I close my eyes with the blessed consciousness that I have left one shining track upon the earth.”

O Vision-Dawn, here we are all seekers, seekers of infinite Light and Truth. As Beethoven most generously enriched the world of music with his music of the Beyond, even so we seekers of the Infinite, with your boundless bounty, shall illumine the world of aspiration and quench humanity’s eternal God-thirst.

SSC 5. Yale University, 27 March 1981


I am a seeker, a Truth-seeker. I am a lover, a God-lover.

My aspiration-heart and my dedication-life sleeplessly need three invaluable realities: concentration, meditation and contemplation.

Concentration is power. Meditation is peace. Contemplation is bliss.

There are various ways to acquire concentration-power, meditation-peace and contemplation-bliss. But there are three easy ways to acquire these in measureless measure.

If I want to acquire power, then I shall concentrate on a very tiny reality. I shall focus all my attention on a little flame, and I shall, without fail, acquire concentration-power.

If I want to have peace, then I shall meditate on a very large reality. I shall meditate on the vast sky, and the vastness of the sky will inundate my inner being with peace.

And if I want to have bliss, then I shall contemplate on the sweetest, dearest and most intimate Oneness-Reality here on earth and there in Heaven — my Beloved Supreme.

Contemplation has and is the message of union — the conscious union of the finite with the Infinite, the conscious union of the seeker-lover in us with our Beloved Supreme. It is only by virtue of contemplation that the divine lover eventually grows into his Beloved Supreme.

The Beloved Supreme and the divine lover enjoy playing a divine game together. Their game has neither a beginning nor an end. It is a birthless and deathless game. When this game is far advanced, something unimaginable happens. The Beloved Supreme says to the divine lover, “Let us exchange our respective roles. Let Me become the divine lover and you become the Beloved Supreme.” The seeker-lover naturally obeys, and they start enjoying a new game, a completely unprecedented game, and this continues for a long time.

When they want to add more joy to their game, the original Beloved Supreme says to the divine lover, “Let us assume once more our previous roles and let us now play a new game. Let us enjoy hide-and-seek. I shall hide, and you shall seek Me out. You will get boundless joy when you find Me again. Once you are successful and I am discovered, we shall reverse the course of the game. You shall hide and I shall seek you out.”

Since God’s Vision-Dawn, this hide-and-seek game has been in progress. It is the game of Eternity, Infinity and Immortality. Here Eternity is eternal Peace and eternal Silence. Infinity is infinite Beauty, infinite Grace and infinite Light. Immortality is immortal Delight, Nectar-Delight.

Contemplation is an art, a supreme art. This art is not for a beginner. It is only an advanced seeker who can contemplate. Who is an advanced seeker? An advanced seeker is he who has either renounced or is on the verge of renouncing his long-cherished ignorance-night totally and permanently. An advanced seeker is he who breathlessly cries for God’s sleepless Smile. An advanced seeker is he who is shaping and moulding within himself an unconditional love for God. An advanced seeker is he who longs to be unconditionally surrendered to the Will of God. An advanced seeker is he who wants nothing short of God’s Satisfaction in God’s own Way.

An advanced seeker constantly listens to his conscience. His conscience is his code of life. His conscience is his art. His conscience is his religion. When he does something good, he feels that he is following his code of life. When he does something bad, he feels that he has swerved from the path of truth and that he is no longer faithful to his code of life, his art, his religion.

President Lincoln was criticised mercilessly by his adversaries. Some even went to the length of doubting his religious beliefs. His firm statement was, “When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. This is my religion.”

An advanced seeker gives paramount importance to regularity and punctuality. Regularity and punctuality everyone needs, in every walk of life. Not only an ordinary seeker, a beginning seeker, needs regularity and punctuality. No, even an advanced seeker needs regularity and punctuality. Every day he has to discover deep within himself God’s choice Hour. And when God’s choice Hour strikes, he has to be ready for his contemplation-art.

A pianist was once asked by his admirers, “How is it that you have to practise six to seven hours a day? You are already an accomplished musician.”

The pianist said, “If I don’t practise for a day, I will notice it. If I don’t practise for two days, my critics will notice it. If I don’t practise for three days, the audience will notice it.”

Here what do we learn? We learn the message of perfection. In contemplation the finite becomes the Infinite and the Infinite plays in and through the finite. This is perfection.

The seeker himself, his Inner Pilot, the world-critics and the world-audience all want to observe one thing: perfection. If the advanced seeker does not contemplate regularly, he will notice it. And somebody else, his Inner Pilot, will, without fail, notice it. His Inner Pilot wants perfection from him. Out of His boundless Concern, his Inner Pilot wants perfection from his choice instrument. And the instrument, the advanced seeker, also wants to be perfect. When an advanced seeker regularly contemplates devotedly, soulfully and unconditionally, he feels that he is growing into a perfect instrument of the Supreme Artist, his Beloved Supreme.

The world-critics do not actually care whether the seeker has achieved perfection; they just want to criticise him. And the rest of the world is only curious. The world-audience does not actually care about the seeker’s individual progress. It just wants to see if he is really aiming at perfection or if he is just fooling himself or trying to fool the world. Even if the advanced seeker has not attained perfection in contemplation, the audience will perhaps be equally happy, as long as its curiosity is satisfied.

If you are a seeker and you want to learn the art of contemplation, you need three important things: sweetness, fondness and oneness. Sweetness-capacity, fondness-capacity and oneness-capacity you have to develop. In order to achieve the quality of sweetness, try to visualise right in front of you a lovely child — a beautiful, more beautiful, most beautiful child — and feel that all the qualities of the child are entering into you.

For the quality of fondness, you have to imagine the fondness of a mother for her child, or of a child for its mother. If you can achieve the fondness-capacity of a mother or a child, then you can rest assured that your heart has made tremendous progress.

To develop oneness, you have to visualise or imagine Heaven and earth at the same time. Try to recollect the Saviour Christ’s supremely powerful oneness-message: “I and my Father are one.” Here the Heavenly Father and the earthly son are inseparably one, and their oneness is nothing short of perfection and satisfaction. So, sweetness, fondness and oneness are the three supreme qualities an advanced seeker who wants to contemplate must develop.

Contemplation is for the seeker. Contemplation is for the knower. Contemplation is for the lover. Contemplation is a knowledge-plant. This is what a seeker realises. Contemplation is a wisdom-tree. This is what a knower realises. Contemplation is a satisfaction-fruit. This is what a lover realises. Here we are all God-seekers. We are consciously, soulfully, unreservedly and unconditionally longing to be God-knowers and eventually God-lovers. When we become true God-lovers, we will become perfect artists in contemplation-art.

SSC 6. Columbia University, 1 April 1981


What is bondage? Bondage is limitation. What is limitation? Limitation is frustration, and frustration is destruction. Where do we find destruction? We find destruction in our failure-life. And what is a failure-life? A failure-life is a temporarily unmanifested and unfulfilled Vision-Reality of God, the Pilot Supreme.

What is liberation? Liberation is freedom from bondage. What is freedom? Freedom is satisfaction. How can we find satisfaction? We can find satisfaction on the strength of our aspiration and dedication in the inner world and in the outer world. In the inner world satisfaction has a new and soulful name: oneness, universal oneness. In the outer world satisfaction has a new and powerful name: transcendence, self-transcendence.

Liberation is the perfection of the seeker’s aspiration-heart and dedication-life. Each seeker is an artist, a divine artist, who has to long for perfection soulfully and sleeplessly. His sincerity has to be perfect, his aspiration has to be perfect and his dedication has to be perfect. His conscious conversation with his Inner Pilot has to be perfect. Until he has achieved perfect Perfection within and without, liberation will remain a far cry. No perfection, no liberation.

The human life has to be perfected, but how? It can be perfected only by bringing to the fore what the human life has deep within itself: a birthless and deathless cry. This cry, which is Eternity’s cry, eventually blossoms into the Vision-Smile of the Inner Pilot, our Beloved Supreme.

Right now, our life is far from perfect. Ours is a desire-bound life. Ours is a life of limitation. Therefore, our earthly existence always prays to be inundated with peace. Liberation is nothing but peace — peace sublime, peace infinite. How to achieve peace? Certainly not by exploring the outer world, but by imploring God in the inner world. A life of peace is not an experiment. A life of peace is an experience. Our earth-bound mind is prone to experiment, but a life of experiment cannot achieve peace. Only our Heaven-free heart, which cares for experience, achieves peace. Experiment is the capacity of the human mind, and experience is the capacity of the divine heart.

The experiment-boat plies between uncertainty-shore and certainty-shore. It carries two passengers: a man of doubt and a man of faith. When the boat touches the certainty-shore, the man of faith hoists his victory-banner. Again, when the same boat touches the uncertainty-shore, the man of doubt hoists triumphantly his victory-banner. The experience-boat plies between Eternity’s earth-bound shore and Immortality’s Heaven-free shore.

I have two friends: an Indian seeker and a Western seeker. The Indian seeker has always cared more for liberation than for salvation. The Western seeker has always cared more for salvation than for liberation. The Indian seeker has always told me that he finds it difficult to appreciate the way my Western seeker-friend constantly thinks of sin and guilt. He says, “If our Heavenly Father is all Perfection, and if we are a portion of His Reality-Existence, why do we have to dwell on sin all the time?” He finds it difficult to appreciate the approach of my Western seeker-friend. But my Western seeker-friend has always found fault with my Indian seeker-friend. He says, “Why do you have to think always of earth-bound, limited reality? Why do you have to think always of bondage?”

The Eastern seeker, my Indian friend, has always thought of his bondage and ignorance. The Western seeker has always thought of his sin and has always been assailed by his guilt. Such being the case, I prayed to my Lord Supreme to grant me illumination so that I could be of dedicated service to my Indian seeker-friend and to my Western seeker-friend.

Out of His infinite Bounty, my Lord Supreme granted me illumination to share with my Indian friend and my Western friend. My Lord Supreme said to me, “Your Indian seeker-friend is in the body-consciousness. If one lives in the body-consciousness, then one will always think of limitation and bondage, because the body is bound and its capacity is limited. Your Western friend lives in the vital, the lower vital, where temptation reigns supreme. In the temptation-world there is always the sin-consciousness and the guilt-consciousness. Guilt-consciousness and sin-consciousness are inseparable.

“A seeker of the infinite Truth and Light must live neither in the body-consciousness nor in the vital-consciousness. He must always live in the heart-consciousness — the psychic consciousness — which is the oneness-consciousness. This oneness-consciousness is of the supreme Reality, in the supreme Reality and for the supreme Reality. A seeker of the Absolute Truth who lives in the heart can easily establish a free access to the infinite Satisfaction, which I have and which I eternally am.”

I asked my Beloved Supreme another question: “My Beloved Supreme, I am a seeker. I know every day You do countless things for me. Do You do anything special for me every day?”

“Yes, My son, every day I do something special. Not only every day, but at every moment I do something very, very special, and that special thing is My sincere, blessingful work for your liberation. Do you know what I do? I push you and pull you at every moment. When you are lethargic, I push you forward so that you can see what you eventually can be: My choice instrument. When you are aspiring, I pull you upward so that you can know what you eternally are: My Vision-Reality.”

Each individual seeker needs liberation. For liberation, what he needs first is the Compassion-Eye of the Absolute Supreme. And for the Compassion-Eye of the Absolute Supreme, what he needs first is the Willingness-Heart of the Absolute Supreme. In order to have the Willingness-Heart of the Absolute Supreme, what the seeker needs is an iota of gratitude in his heart of aspiration and an iota of surrender in his life of dedication.

SSC 7. Princeton University, 6 April 1981

Part II — Questions and answers

Question: I need aspiration. How can I get it?

Sri Chinmoy: Aspiration you have, but you need more. How can you have more aspiration? You can have more aspiration if you sincerely feel the need for it. When we lead an ordinary life, we want to increase our material possessions, our earthly possessions. Because we cry for earthly possessions in the outer life, eventually we do get them. Similarly, if we want to increase our aspiration, we have to cry inwardly. If we have the inner hunger, the inner cry, then it is bound to be fulfilled.

Look at a flower. When you look at a flower and appreciate the flower, what is it that you are appreciating? You are appreciating the beauty of the flower. The beauty of the flower is carrying God’s Aspiration, God’s Vision, God’s Compassion — many, many good qualities — and that is why you are soulfully appreciating it. But the same beauty that you are appreciating in the flower is also inside you. So when you start appreciating the beauty that you have within, when you start appreciating the aspiration that you have within, at that time your aspiration is bound to increase.

Another thing you can do is imagine that you have a small flame, a tiny flame, inside your heart. Just visualise it. What is this flame doing? It is trying to climb up. It is trying to illumine the unlit part of you. If you can appreciate that flame, then your aspiration will increase.

If you give me something, and immediately I appreciate it and appreciate you, then the capacity of your gift increases, and your own capacity to give also increases. The other day your daughter garlanded me, and I appreciated the garland. I thanked her and bowed to the Supreme in her. Each time we appreciate something, we expand it and increase its capacity. If you can imagine that inside you a flame is burning, and if you can appreciate it, then that flame will increase, and its capacity will also increase. Eventually it will become big enough to illumine your heart and finally your entire being. So, in order to increase your aspiration, please appreciate the burning flame inside you. While you are appreciating it, you will see that your inner cry is increasing.

Question: What is the best way to keep extraneous thoughts out of your mind when you are trying to meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two kinds of thoughts: good thoughts and bad thoughts. One kind is healthy and one kind is unhealthy. Unhealthy thoughts, undivine thoughts, are our enemies, whereas good thoughts, divine thoughts, are our friends. We are standing at the door to our house and somebody is knocking at the door. We have to see whether it is a friend or an enemy. If it is a friend, then we will allow him to enter. If it is an enemy, we will not allow him in. But the difficulty is that we don’t know who are our friends and who are our enemies. If we open the door just a little to see who is there, immediately the enemies may force their way in. So what should we do? We shouldn’t open the door at all. We should keep the door bolted from the inside. Our real friends will not go away. They will think, “Usually he is so kind to us, so there must be some special reason why he is not opening the door. Since we need him and he needs us, we will wait indefinitely for him.” They have sympathetic oneness, so they will wait indefinitely.

But our enemies want only to bother us, to torture and destroy us. They will wait just for a few minutes, and then they will lose all patience. These enemies have not conquered pride. They will say, “It is beneath our dignity to waste our time here. Who needs him? Let us go and attack somebody else.” If we pay no attention to a monkey, the monkey will eventually go away and bite somebody else. Similarly, after a few minutes our enemies will go away. Then we can open the door and welcome our dearest friends, who will be there waiting for us.

So, in the beginning it is best for us not to allow any thoughts to enter our mind. We will remain silent for a few minutes and say, “Since I do not know who my friends are and who my enemies are, since I do not know which thoughts are healthy and divine and which ones are unhealthy and undivine, the best thing is for me to keep my mind totally empty. I will keep my mind’s door shut for a while, and then when I open it, I will see only my friends, the good thoughts, and I will let them enter.”

Question: Would it be best for me to take the Kriya Yoga classes that have been offered to me by the woman whose picture I showed you? Is that in my best interest?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on what you feel from within. If you have faith in that person, then definitely take her Kriya Yoga classes. Study any Yoga in which you have faith. On earth there are many teachers. If you have faith in a particular teacher, then that is the one you should follow. At that time you do not have to ask somebody else about your teacher. If you have faith in a teacher, then you should try to increase it. It is like your love of God. If you love God, then I will always say, “Go on, go on and increase your love.” If you have faith in anybody or anything, then you should increase your faith and dedicate your life to that person or that ideal.

What is a disciple? A disciple is one who has faith in a Master. If he has no faith in a Master, then he is not a disciple. If you have faith in that particular lady, then follow her path. But if you do not have faith, then no matter what I say, your mind will immediately argue with me and doubt me. If I say, “She is extremely good,” then if something happens tomorrow and you lose faith, at that time you will find fault with me. Again, if I say, “No, she is not good,” then you will say, “Oh, he is just jealous of her.” The human mind is so tricky. If I say “good,” in a few days you will be assailed by doubt and you will think that I am totally wrong. And if I say “bad,” you will argue inwardly, and you will try to prove in so many ways that she is good, she is divine, she is perfect.

Trying to assess this teacher or to judge me is simply a waste of your own precious time. Only ask your heart: “Do I have faith, implicit faith in her?” If your heart says, “Yes,” then forget about me, forget about the rest of the world. But if your heart says, “No, I don’t have implicit faith,” then she is not the right person for you. Your faith is the answer. What more can I say? Your faith, your inner faith, will always guide you.

Question: Sri Chinmoy, why is it that I feel more divinity in a flower than in a piece of wood? Isn't divinity in everything?

Sri Chinmoy: Divinity is in everything. God is manifesting in and through me, in and through you, in and through everyone and everything. But in some things or in some individuals we see that this divinity is more fully manifested. What you call darkness has inside it infinitesimal light. Again, in this room you are seeing light, but this light can be immensely increased. There is no end to light. There is effulgent light, boundless light, infinite Light.

In the flower-consciousness God wanted to establish a certain amount of beauty. God did not feel it necessary to make this wall or a piece of wood as beautiful as a flower. But that doesn’t mean that God is unkind to the wood or to the wall. Let us say that in a play there may be a king and a slave. Also, there may be ordinary subjects. All these different roles are necessary. You can’t have a play with nothing but kings. No, you will need kings, ministers, subjects and so forth in order to have a good play.

In God’s creation, also, many different things are necessary. If God wants you to appreciate His Beauty aspect, then He will put a flower, or the stars, or a most beautiful child in front of you. If He wants you to appreciate His Power aspect, then immediately God will bring an elephant or a lion in front of you. If He wants you to appreciate His Vastness, then immediately He will bring the vast sky or sea in front of you. Again, if God wants you to appreciate His infinitesimal, tiniest part, then He will make you think of the atom. So it is up to God what aspect of His He wants you to appreciate. God has all aspects; He has all attributes. But He may decide that He wants you to appreciate one particular aspect of His more than other aspects.

Again, today God may want you to appreciate His Beauty aspect, tomorrow He may want you to appreciate His Peace aspect and the day after tomorrow He may want you to appreciate His Power aspect. Whatever aspect you are meant to appreciate, God will put that particular aspect inside your consciousness.

Question: What is the difference between concentration, meditation and contemplation?

Sri Chinmoy: First comes concentration, then comes meditation and then comes contemplation. They are like three rungs of a ladder. First you concentrate, then you meditate and then you contemplate. If any of the rungs are missing, you may lose your footing.

When you concentrate, you try to focus your one-pointed attention on a small object. Then, like a bullet or an arrow, your concentration-power tries to penetrate into the object.

Meditation is totally different. Meditation is vastness. In meditation you are dealing with the vast sky or the vast sea — anything that is larger than the largest. In meditation you try to make your mind calm, quiet, tranquil and vacant so that you can become one with the Vast. When you are concentrating, you are concentrating on the smallest possible thing. Like an arrow, you are trying to pierce the veil of ignorance. When you are meditating, you are dealing with what is vaster than the vastest. All around you are seeing Infinity.

Then, when you are contemplating, at that time you enter into your Supreme Beloved and become inseparably one with Him. One moment you will be playing the role of the divine lover and He will be playing the role of the Supreme Beloved. The next moment you will reverse roles. On the basis of your oneness, and out of His infinite Bounty, He will make you feel that you are the Beloved Supreme and He is the divine lover.

During meditation a softness, sweetness and one-pointed adoration will come forward. But in contemplation you are merging into something and becoming something. During meditation you do not become; only you see something that is vaster than the vastest. But when you are contemplating, you become the object of your adoration.

Question: In concentration we must concentrate on something small and in meditation we must concentrate on something large?

Sri Chinmoy: During meditation we are not concentrating. At that time we are just feeling and observing the vastness around us. In contemplation we are merging into the Supreme Reality and becoming inseparably one with that Reality. God the Creator and God the creation are becoming one in contemplation. Again, inside contemplation there is concentration and also meditation.

Question: Is evil simply the absence of God's Presence, or is it an actual force?

Sri Chinmoy: It is a force. God’s Presence is everywhere, but we can say that evil is a force that has less light or insufficient light or insignificant light. Anything that has insufficient light we call a harmful or destructive force. Anything that has light in a very insignificant measure and, at the same time, does not add to our divinity, we can call evil. But from the real spiritual point of view, there is no such thing as evil; it is only that something is less perfect, less illumined and less fulfilling.

First we have an iota of light and peace, and gradually, gradually we increase it until we have infinite Light and infinite Peace. If we take this iota of light, which we had in the beginning, and compare it with the infinite Light that we will eventually have, immediately we see a vast difference. Our iota of peace or light can easily be assailed by fear, doubt, anxiety or jealousy because it is so small and weak. But if it makes friends with these unillumined forces, we don’t say at that time that it becomes an evil force.

If we are suffering from worries and anxieties, these are our possessions or we are their possessions. But we are still seekers. Some of the time we are consciously crying for God’s Peace, Light and Bliss. Inside us we always have an inner cry, so how can we be an evil force? Right now we do not have boundless light or boundless peace at our disposal. We have inside us a tiny drop of light, a tiny drop of peace. If we know that we have or we are a tiny drop, then let us jump into the sea of Light and become the sea itself. Let us not be afraid. There is nothing in the sea to devour us or kill us. Others are swimming in the sea, so let us also jump into the sea.

The little forces and big forces that we call destructive we have to throw into the effulgence of Light. The part of us that is keeping a sense of separativity, the small portion that wants to enjoy its sense of individuality or personality, is not actually evil. It is creating problems for us because it is unwilling to become unlimited. Anything that is limited, anything that does not aspire to become unlimited, we may see as evil, but the real problem is that it is limited. If we can throw that limited reality into the unlimited Reality by virtue of our inner cry and aspiration, then that limited thing will become unlimited. Once the drop enters into the ocean it becomes part and parcel of the vast ocean. If the limited thing can be enlarged and made unlimited, then where is the so-called evil?

Question: Can you speak about the doubting mind? Is it something we have to crucify?

Sri Chinmoy: Crucifixion is not the answer. Illumination is the answer. Let us say that today my mind is very bad. It is doubting and creating so many problems. So I destroy my mind. Then tomorrow I may start having problems with my vital. My desiring vital may be desperately trying to strangle my aspiration. Therefore, I destroy my vital. The day after tomorrow I may see that my body is extremely lethargic. It does not want to get up in the morning; it wants to remain always asleep. So I destroy my body. In this way, if I go on destroying, I will have nothing left. I will have no mind, no vital, no body — nothing.

Destruction is not the answer. The answer is transformation. We have to transform and transcend. If my body is lethargic, I will compel my body to get up. If my vital is destructive, I will compel my vital to be dynamic. If my mind is doubting, I will compel my mind to have faith.

Always we have to take the positive side. Instead of destroying the lethargic body, we will make it active. The destructive vital we will try to make dynamic. And in the doubting mind we will instill faith, implicit faith. Instead of destroying anything, we will only illumine and transform it. We will replace lethargy with wakefulness, destruction with dynamism, doubt with faith.

God has sent us here to do some special work for Him. Everything that we have and everything that we are is imperfect, but God does not want us to destroy ourselves. He wants us to transform ourselves and become perfect. He has given us the message of perfection. If something in us is imperfect, then let us make that particular thing perfect. Only then will God be pleased with us. God created us not for destruction but for perfection, so that He can enjoy satisfaction in and through us.

Question: What is the difference between aspiration and desire?

Sri Chinmoy: When we desire, we try to increase our capacities in order to challenge others, in order to defeat others, in order to lord it over others, and in order to make the world feel that we are a few inches — if not a few miles — ahead of it. Desire wants to say, like Julius Caesar: Veni, vidi, vici — "I came, I saw, I conquered.” I came into your domain, I saw you and I conquered you.

Aspiration is not like that. When we aspire, we cry not only for our own perfection, but also for others’ perfection. Aspiration will say, “What I have, I wish to share with you. If I have a good thought, I wish to share it with you. Again, if you have a good thought, I wish you to share it with me. Let us share our capacities and our realities with each other.” Aspiration plays the role of oneness, which is nothing other than perfection itself. Oneness is perfection; perfection is oneness.

Desire enjoys the sense of separativity: “You stay where you are; I will stay where I am, and I will try to show you that I am infinitely more powerful than you, infinitely superior to you. In every aspect of life I will show you that I far surpass you.” This is the message of desire. But aspiration will say, “If I have anything good, I will share it with you. If I have beauty, I will give it to you. If I have power, I will give it to you, because I am always eager to sing the song of oneness.”

Aspiration is always trying to establish its oneness with each and every individual, and to see only the good, divine, supreme qualities that each individual has and is. If aspiration discovers that I have an unlit quality or capacity, it will try to illumine it. Aspiration will never try to give that unlit quality to you. My difficulties and imperfections, aspiration will not hide; it will try to illumine them. But it will never offer them to you. When I am aspiring, I will pray to God, my Heavenly Father, to inundate me with light so that I can illumine my imperfections, limitations and undivine qualities.

Desire, on the other hand, secretly or openly will try to throw into you only bad qualities. If I have any wrong thoughts or wrong ideas, if I have anything that is undivine and destructive, openly I can’t give these things to you. But secretly my desire will try to inject them into you so that you will also bear the burden and suffer, so that you will carry the heaviest possible load and not be able to surpass me in any way.

Desire binds us; aspiration liberates us. Desire wants to lord it over others. Aspiration always wants to be one with others. Each time desire achieves its goal, another goal looms ahead; so desire is never satisfied. First it wants one house, then two houses, then three houses, and at the end of this road frustration looms large. But when we aspire, even if we get just an iota of light, we are satisfied, for we know that eventually we will be inundated with the infinite ocean of light. Right now we are wanting in receptivity. Once we get more receptivity and our inner vessel becomes large, larger, largest, at that time we shall definitely see and grow into infinite Peace, Light and Bliss. These are not mere words or ideas; these are realities that will one day be at our disposal.

Question: How can we be more attached to pleasing God?

Sri Chinmoy: Instead of saying “attached,” let us say “devoted.” When something is good, we say we are devoted to it; when something is undivine, we say we are attached to it. For example, because we love our country, we devote our lives to the improvement of our country. Like this, if anything is good, we will devote our lives to that thing. In the same way, our soul is devoted to God-manifestation. When we start praying and meditating, we try to please God. That means we are devoted to a higher cause, the supreme Cause.

When we remain in the ordinary world, the unaspiring world, the desire-world, we try to please and satisfy only ourselves. But when we are in the aspiration-world, we try to please God. God is the root, and if we can please the root, then the trunk, branches, leaves, flowers and fruits will also be pleased. So let us devote ourselves to the root, to God. If we can please God on the strength of our heart’s inner cry, then we will see and feel inside us God’s Love, Concern, Light and Peace — all that God has and is.

How can we have this inner cry? We can have this inner cry in the same way that we can have the outer cry. When a child cries for food, no matter where his mother is, she will come running. The child may be on the first floor and the mother may be on the second floor, but the mother will come running because the child is sincerely crying to be fed. Similarly, if we cry sincerely for divine nectar, for light and delight, then God is bound to give it to us.

When the child cries, he has the unconscious hope that his mother will come and bring him food. In our case, as seekers, we are conscious. If we cry for peace, light and bliss, immediately we will get an answer. But our cry has to be sincere. When we cry inwardly, we have to feel a sincere need for God. When we have that inner need, then God, out of His infinite Bounty, will come and grant us the things that we need.

If we have a sincere, genuine inner cry, then all our problems will be solved. But if we do not have that sincere inner cry, then no matter how many years we live on earth, we will not find satisfaction, because true satisfaction means the perfection of our nature, the perfection of our life.

Question: I'm trying to have faith in all that you are saying. But if it is true, why don't I feel light and peace inside me?

Sri Chinmoy: You are right in saying that if something is true, you will feel it within the very depths of your heart. But sometimes it may take a little time. You sow a seed. After a few months it germinates. In a year it grows into a sapling, and eventually it grows into a huge banyan tree. When you begin to take an interest in the spiritual life, you have only sown the seed. You may not see the results immediately. It takes time.

You will feel light and peace, but first you have to have faith. Inside you there are many organs: heart, lungs and so on. You believe this because doctors and others say so. Although you cannot see these things, you know that they are there. Similarly, in the inner world, if you do not see something right now, you cannot say that it does not exist. Within your inner body, there are many things which you may not feel, but which I am aware of, because I have prayed and meditated more than you have. You need to cultivate more faith in what I say and in what other Masters have said about the inner world. If you pray and meditate soulfully and cultivate more faith in what you have heard from spiritual seekers and Masters, then eventually you will see that they were right.

You have to start with faith — sincere, genuine, sublime faith. This faith is not going to mislead you. When you read a spiritual book, that book embodies light. While reading, you may not feel light inside the book right away, but still you do not discard the book. No, you have faith in the messages that the book contains. You meditate on the words and ideas that the book embodies, and eventually you do get light. Inside the book there is a hidden reality. If you believe in that hidden reality while you are reading, in the course of time you will get illumination. But you have to read the book in order to get the essence, the quintessence of the book.

Similarly, you have to pray and meditate before you will feel your own divinity. If you cannot feel your inner divinity right now, don’t be sad or upset. It takes time. Pray and meditate sincerely, and through your faith, your real divinity will one day loom large. If you do not have higher experiences or realisations as soon as you enter into the spiritual life, do not give up. Right now if you do not feel inside the very depth of your heart something divine, illumining, fulfilling and perfect, no harm. It takes time to acquire a free access to the inner world. But once you have free access to the inner world, you will see that it is flooded with light and delight.

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