The soul's special promise, part 2

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Part I

SSP 39-51. Sri Chinmoy answered these questions on 27 February 1989.

Question: Are there any particular birthdays in one's life that have more significance than the others, or do they all offer equal opportunity?

Sri Chinmoy: Usually each birthday has equal importance and offers us equal opportunity. But each year we have to see how much the mind is awakened, how much the heart is awakened, how much the vital is awakened and how much the physical consciousness is awakened. If the physical, the vital, the mind and the heart are more awakened on a particular birthday, then that particular birthday is much more significant.

Then, if there is a great person who has accomplished something, when his centenary comes — the first hundred years after his birth — it is such a significant thing. On his centenary, the earth-consciousness offers gratitude and joy to the person who has left behind him something exceptionally great for Mother Earth to cherish and also for Mother Earth to use to make further progress.

Again, each day you can consider as your birthday. Every morning if you can most soulfully renew your promise to God to please God in God's own Way, to fulfil God in God's own Way, then it will be the re-awakening of your life. That reawakening is like a birthday because new life has come in.

Question: Guru, because you are realised, is there any difference between you on your birthday than, say, the day before? Is every day exactly the same for you or do you feel something special on your birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: For me, every day is my birthday in and through my disciples. When a disciple makes even an iota of progress in anything, specially in the inner life — if you conquer insecurity, jealousy, pride and other weaknesses — then I feel it is my birthday, because at that time my dream for humanity's perfection is being fulfilled.

In terms of celebrating my own birthday, my relatives, my dear ones, my disciples and devotees who are in Heaven observe it long before my friends and dear ones observe it here on earth. They start long before my birthday. In Heaven they observe my birthday in many more ways than on earth. Anything that we do on earth is very, very limited. When Heaven's Eye looks at earth's achievements, they appear like a grain of sand. Again, this grain of sand is extremely, extremely important for the evolution of mankind. Otherwise, if spiritual Masters do not come and offer their spiritual realisation to earth, earth will not evolve. It will remain a stagnant pool and God's Dream will never, never be fulfilled.

Question: On my birthday, I usually feel that the most important thing is my meditation with you, and I wish that people wouldn't make a big deal about it being my birthday. Is that not a good attitude?

Sri Chinmoy: Whatever people want to do to celebrate your birthday, they should be allowed to do. On your birthday if somebody else wants to express joy because you are a member of humanity, a member of a spiritual family, then they should be given the freedom to do so. On a birthday, joy is freely available. If somebody gets real joy by telling you "Happy Birthday" or by giving you a cake or by doing something for you, then he should be given the chance. Joy is not only in giving, but also in receiving. We always feel that if we give joy to someone, our role is over. No, if somebody wants to give us joy, then we should accept it. It is reciprocal. Otherwise, when I want to give you joy, why should you receive my joy?

If anybody wants to observe your birthday, to give you joy, genuine joy, then he should be given the chance. Otherwise, his self-giving will be denied. By giving you happiness, joy, a smile or saying "Happy Birthday," he is expanding his own heart, and when he expands his own heart, it is his own progress. Again, when you receive his sincere appreciation or any good will from him, it increases your heart-power as well.

Very often it is the frustrated mind which in an unconscious, perverted way wants to remain isolated on your birthday. You have to know if others are expressing their genuine feelings for you. If somebody wants to observe your birthday with a most sincere heart's feeling, then it will add to his progress. But if it is just a matter of buying a commercial birthday card and his heart is not in it, then you have every right to be silent. If you feel that the so-called well-wishers are not genuine in their appreciation or in their love for you, then you do not have to pay attention to them.

Question: Is there any specific spiritual discipline that we should practise to make progress on our birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: On that day only offer your gratitude every second, every minute, every hour. If you cannot do it every minute, then every hour try to offer gratitude to the Supreme. In the morning, only once, think of the environments where you were brought up, your school, your college and so on, and think of what you could have otherwise become. If you had steered your life-boat the way your school friends who were not spiritual did, then would you have been happy? No. Even if you are making progress very slowly at the present time, you will be so grateful to God that you are still in the boat and heading in the right direction. Your goal is destined. Most of your previous friends have taken another road, the road of desire. Desire is a zigzag road. It goes this side and that side.

If every hour you can offer gratitude, then automatically God will expedite your progress. A birthday is meant for gratitude. Your soul came into the world to do something really great and good for mankind. That opportunity God has given you, and now you are utilising it properly. Because God has given you the opportunity, plus the capacity to fulfil His Dream in and through your life of aspiration and dedication, your gratitude-heart has to come to the fore. Usually, on the physical plane, human beings forget what they have received from God — so much Affection, Blessings, Love and Compassion. The result you will feel only when you look around. It is not that every hour you will think of your unfortunate friends, no. Only once, early in the morning, you will offer your gratitude when you see what you would have been doing if you had not accepted the spiritual life. You have to see your own inner progress, your own inner love, inner awareness and inner awakening. Gratitude will automatically come when you make a comparison with others who are not in the spiritual life.

Gratitude comes either by comparing your life now with what you would have become if you had not accepted the spiritual life or by being aware of the One who gave you the capacity to continue following the spiritual life. There are millions and millions of people on earth who are not aware of God, who do not believe in God, but you are fully aware of God's existence. Now, your goal is to realise God and manifest Him here on earth. You are aware of your goal; you are awakened. For these things, if you can offer gratitude every hour, then it will definitely expedite your inner progress.

There are many, many things you have done which are good, and for that you have to offer gratitude. Again, there are many, many bad things which you have not done. For that also you have to offer gratitude. Just look at your present consciousness. You are on a particular branch of the life-tree. You may not be climbing very fast, but still you are on a branch. There is tremendous opportunity for you to climb up. Here again you can offer gratitude. In so many ways you can offer gratitude to God. For a seeker, a birthday is meant to offer continuous gratitude so that God can be more pleased and God can use the seeker more confidently and proudly.

Question: On our birthdays, our consciousness seems much more rarified. Our access to your inner wealth and our inner wealth seems more intense. What actually happens in the inner world that allows us to be like that?

Sri Chinmoy: On your birthday the soul comes to the fore. On other days, the heart is not active and dynamic, the heart itself is sleeping. Inside the heart is the soul. When the soul gets the opportunity to come to the fore, the inner link that you have with God becomes strengthened. Therefore, you feel that something very special is happening. This intensity is very good. You just have to remember that something special is happening. What is happening you may not know and God may not want you to know, but your soul is definitely coming to the fore with all its dreams for God-manifestation.

Question: When does the physical birthday actually begin and end? How many hours of the day does it cover?

Sri Chinmoy: Actually a birthday covers all the twenty-four hours. Suppose you were born at three o'clock in the afternoon. You do not have to take the twenty-four hours from that hour. Right after midnight you can begin to observe your birthday. When the calendar falls, after twelve o'clock, that is your birthday.

Question: On the birthdays of disciples, do you give a special gift on the inner plane which we are not aware of?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on how much connection the soul has made with me. All souls are connected with me, but some souls have made more direct contact, more powerful contact, more intimate contact, and then naturally they get more. Again, if some individuals are praying and meditating sincerely, then every day they get special blessings. The inner gift I am ready to give, but some souls are not closely connected with me, so that is the problem.

Sometimes I may observe the birthday three days later or four days later, but on the inner plane the soul comes to me on the proper birthday. If I am very closely connected with the person, the soul will definitely come and take blessings on the actual day. Again, the soul may come one or two days before or even earlier to observe it. As in the outer life I may observe the birthday three or four days or even one week later, in the soul's world, because a special occasion is approaching, the soul may come one or two days earlier for special blessings. Definitely the soul gets special blessings. But then comes the question of how much the soul can receive. Somebody may get one cent's worth of special blessings, while somebody else may get ten thousand dollars' worth of special blessings. It entirely depends on the soul's receptivity and closeness with my soul.

Question: If we know that our birthday is coming up soon, how can we best prepare ourselves so that on that particular day we become most receptive?

Sri Chinmoy: Each time a wrong thought comes, just nip it in the bud. Absolutely starve the doubting mind, the mind that tells you it is impossible for you to achieve something good for God, the mind that says, "Guru does not care for me; he will not do anything special for me on my birthday." True, I may not give you a party, but if you have purity in your mind and if you have the constant willingness to please me, then if I do not give you a birthday gift or even look at you, then you will be equally happy.

The constant negation of wrong thoughts is most important. When positive thoughts come, feed them, feed them. "I want to be an excellent seeker" — feed that idea. But if wrong thoughts come, just starve them. By expanding your positive thoughts and destroying your negative thoughts, you will make the fastest progress. Each moment you are getting a thought, and that thought is ruling your life. If it is a bad thought, then that thought will ruin your inspiration, aspiration, everything. If it is a good thought, it will increase your aspiration and joy. Each moment try to observe what kind of thought is coming. If you see that it is a good thought, then increase and increase its beauty, purity and power. If it is a wrong thought, then do not wait for one second. Destroy it immediately.

Question: Our birthday is the happiest day of our life during the year. How can we make every other day until the next birthday just as happy?

Sri Chinmoy: True, your birthday is the happiest day. Other days also you can make the happiest day in your spiritual life by doing two things. In the morning, make a list of your desires. On the list if you have ten things, then try to see if you can take away one item. Out of ten, see if you can bring it to nine, then eight, then seven, six and eventually none. You do not have to write down one hundred desires. Just write down ten. Afterwards, when you see that it has come to only one and then they are all gone, you can make another list. You do not have to think of each desire itself, whether it has come or not. You will automatically get tremendous joy in not having that desire. So that is one way.

The other way to make yourself happy is to reduce your expectation. If you expect anything from others, you will only get frustration. Even if you expect something from yourself and you do not get it, you will become irritated and frustrated. You will be absolutely doomed to disappointment. When you do not get something from others, you get mad at them because they have not fulfilled your desire. When you do not get something from yourself, you feel that you are useless. Then you become depressed and angry. When this happens, just say to yourself, "This is not the right way. I will do the right thing. If I expect something from the world, I will become frustrated, because the world is like that. If I expect something from myself, I may also be unable to achieve it. What I need is patience."

If you want to develop patience, immediately think of a tree. This tree has not become a tree overnight. It began as a tiny seed. Then it took such a long time to germinate. It became a little sapling, and then it became a huge tree. Such a long time it took! Here also, God has sown inside you a seed of perfection. If you want to become absolutely perfect in just ten or twenty years, it is not possible.

Then comes eagerness. Your eagerness is absolutely necessary. On the one hand, you will not expect to accomplish everything overnight. On the other hand, you will be eager to do the right thing. Everybody knows what is right and what is wrong. Only if people want to fool themselves do they say they do not know what is right.

Then comes aspiration. Aspiration is like a muscle. Previously, you could not take exercise with five pounds. Now perhaps you are taking exercise with seventy pounds, eighty pounds. Like that, take aspiration as a muscle. How will you develop it? By practising regularly. Previously even for one minute you could not meditate. Now perhaps you are able to meditate for five minutes.

The key is thought-control. If a wrong thought comes and you can control it, then you are doing the right thing. If a good thought comes and you expand it, elaborate it, then you are doing the right thing. If they are positive thoughts, allow them to grow. If they are negative thoughts, destroy them. Always by thinking positively, you make the fastest progress. Each hour can be made happy by allowing good thoughts, positive thoughts, to enter into you, and again each hour can be ruined by allowing one negative thought to enter.

Question: Is there a special way that we can retain the blessings that you bring down on our birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: Only keep the mind empty of thought and keep the heart absolutely pure. Repeat "Purity, purity, purity" or "Supreme, Supreme, Supreme." If you say "Purity, purity, purity", it is convincing your mind. If you say "Supreme, Supreme, Supreme", then immediately, anything that is absolutely necessary to maintain the Blessings that come from Above, you will be able to do. "Supreme" is far better, but if you cannot say "Supreme, Supreme", at least say "Purity, purity". If you can repeat it at home, even out loud, that will help tremendously. It convinces the mind. Then you can retain the Blessings you have received from Above.

Question: When will mankind have a birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: When ten people meet together, we can call it mankind. Let us say there are ten undivine people. Out of ten, if one of them becomes divine, then there is a great possibility for the other nine to become divine. So that is mankind's birthday. It is not that all ten will become divine overnight. First you can become fully aware of God's Compassion, Love and Light. Then somebody else and somebody else. In the process of time, today you may become fully awakened, tomorrow somebody else, the day after tomorrow a third party and so on. If thousands of people become fully awakened today or tomorrow, if thousands of people open themselves to God's Light, then definitely God's Love and God's Delight will descend on earth. The entire earth-consciousness will be inundated. So each individual has to make a conscious effort to become God's choice instrument. Today you become God's choice instrument, tomorrow somebody else will become His choice instrument. It is not like instant coffee or tea, no. But with our sincere and conscious effort we can expedite God's Hour.

Question: What actually is a blessing?

Sri Chinmoy: A blessing is that which keeps us consciously aware of God's Presence. Everybody knows how to spell the word 'God' — G-O-D. It is in the dictionary. But how many hours a day are you aware of God's Presence in your life, in your thoughts, in your actions? If you can be consciously aware of God's Presence in your life during the entire day, then it is God's Blessing. Unconsciously you may know that God does exist, you may believe in God, but if you are not consciously aware of God's Presence in your life, that is not God's Blessing. For a spiritual person, God's Blessing means to consciously feel God's Presence during the hours that you are fully awake. To think of God's Presence, even if you do not feel it, is also a real Blessing for a seeker.

Question: Can we identify with the person whose birthday it is so that we can also receive something?

Sri Chinmoy: If it is somebody's birthday and you are sincerely identified with that particular soul, then it is like sharing. The person whose birthday it is will definitely receive blessings, and you will receive part of it. Unfortunately, if one hundred people are singing "Happy Birthday," perhaps ninety-nine are not getting anything. You are singing "Happy Birthday," which you learnt in your childhood, but you are getting zero. When you see that I am very seriously meditating on the soul or the heart of the person, at that time, if you can identify yourself not with the person but with me, by looking at my eyes or feeling my heart, then you will be able to receive something. Otherwise, while you are singing "Happy Birthday," you may be in your restless vital-consciousness and you will get nothing.

Again, sometimes it happens that even the birthday person is thinking of rubbish things: "Guru observed so-and-so's birthday more significantly; many more people came. Here on my birthday nobody brought a cake even, and the entire day nobody said 'Happy Birthday' to me." When all these thoughts come, you receive nothing. I may be meditating on you and you may be getting nothing, whereas a third party may be receiving the special birthday Blessings which I have brought down for you. You may not receive them, but somebody else may get them. They may be receptive. Again, the birthday person alone may receive. For two or three minutes, or an hour or so, she may become receptive and she may receive because it is her birthday, while others are not identifying themselves with me or with the birthday person so they are getting nothing.

Part II

SSP 52-58. Sri Chinmoy these questions on 2 March 1989.

Question: How can we remember the cheerful and childlike feeling that we feel on our birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: Some people feel that each time a birthday arrives, it is a sorrowful experience instead of a happy experience. They are miserable that they are advancing in years. They feel that death is attacking them. A birthday means the fulfilment of life, but if you think of a birthday as fast-approaching death, cheerfulness automatically disappears. If you have teeming desires, you will see that not even one desire of yours is fulfilled. In that way you will become unhappy. And if you want to have aspiration in very large quantity, you may see that years are rolling by and your aspiration is not increasing. There are so many ways to make ourselves feel miserable on our birthday.

A child does not think of his future. His joy is in the present. He does not think of the outer life; he does not think of how much material wealth he has or his father has. He thinks of life as constant joy. This moment he is happy; next moment he is happy. Happiness is his life's achievement. If you want to be happy and remain happy, you have to think of someone who is always happy: another child. Try to imagine God as a little child playing around you. All the time He is playing — He is with you, He is in you, He is for you, He is around you. You have to imagine that there is someone around you all the time, and that is the God-child in your heart-garden. Sometimes He comes and stands in front of your eyes because you are unable to enter into your heart-garden, even though it is your own. If you can think of God as an eternal child, playing all the time with you, around you, then you can maintain your childlike qualities and you will get inspiration, aspiration, joy, inner strength and the confidence that you can be another child who will be eternally happy.

Question: On our birthday, is it better to mix with people or try to be by ourselves?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to divide your time. You have to receive first; then you have to give. Early in the morning you have to pray and meditate and get Blessings from Above, from our Lord Beloved Supreme. His Blessings, His Love, His Compassion, His Concern, His Joy — everything that you need — you will pray to the Supreme to grant you. Once you have received these things, you will be happy. Then this happiness you have to share with others. If you do not receive before you start mixing with your friends, you will not get God's special Blessings. Usually your friends do not meditate for you on your birthday. They send their good will, but they do not seriously pray to the Supreme for even one minute to grant you His Blessings, His Love, His Compassion, His Peace. They will only mix with you in a social way. They will try to inspire you, but it is you who have to receive the spiritual things, the inner things, the most important things, from your prayer and meditation.

A birthday is a day of joy and happiness. It is the day of the soul's promise to the earth-consciousness or your own body, vital and mind. It is a mutual promise. Your soul has promised God that it will manifest God's Light in and through your body, vital, mind and heart. Again, your heart, your mind, your vital and your body have promised to become perfect instruments to please your soul or to please God in His own Way.

Once you have played your role, once you have prayed and meditated early in the morning and received inner wealth, then during the day you will be able to share your inner and outer joy with your friends. Otherwise, if you do not get these divine things before you start mixing with people, your promise to your soul or to God and your soul's promise to you will never be fulfilled. First things first: first comes your inner life and then you will talk with your friends, have a party and do other things. First comes your promise to the Supreme and the Supreme's Promise to you. Then, once you feel that you have received from Above the things that you need, you can mix with the rest of the world.

Again, you can meditate not only once, but several times. Suppose in the morning you have meditated and you have received something and you are very happy. Then you can go to work or mix with people. After two or three hours, again you can meditate. On your birthday at least three or four times you can be in absolute silence. Let us say in the morning you have earned ten thousand dollars' worth of inner wealth. Then, when you are talking with your friends, you may offer them one hundred or two hundred dollars' worth. As you have a pocket in your garment, in your heart-pocket you can deposit inner wealth when you meditate.

On your birthday, if you can meditate three or four times, it will be good. In the morning you have to start with utmost gratitude because you are following the spiritual life. You know people who have not accepted the spiritual life, your friends, your colleagues, your classmates and others. Only once look around in your mind and say, "O God, I am so grateful to You that I am not like him, I am not like her. Out of Your infinite Compassion, You made me a seeker, a spiritual person. Otherwise I would have been like him or her." Then again in the evening or at night, before you go to sleep, just pray, "My Supreme, I am so grateful to You that You have kept me in a high consciousness throughout the entire day. Again and again I was able to think of You, to think of the promise that I have made to You and to be worthy of the promise that You have made to me."

This is how you have to utilise your day — by balancing the inner and the outer life. If you remain only in the inner world, you will neglect your friends. That will not be at all good because you have come into the world to be one with them, to be part and parcel of God the creation. You have to manifest God inside your friends and your dear ones on earth. The same thing they are also going to do. They are going to manifest God's Light in you and around the world.

Question: When my birthday is approaching, it gives me an incentive to be spiritual so that on that day I will be able to please God. But then a few months after my birthday I lose my incentive.

Sri Chinmoy: Everybody does! You are not the only culprit. Human beings are all sailing in the same boat!

If you think of your birthday not only as a day of joy, but also as a day of promise, then you will see that you have not fulfilled your promise to God. Your promise to God is to be a perfect instrument of His so that You can please Him always in His own Way. Today you are seeing that you have so many imperfections. Tomorrow again you will see that you have so many imperfections. The day after tomorrow, the same thing. But again, your aspiration is to become a most perfect instrument.

If you can keep this aspiration as a burning reality, you will eventually achieve your goal. Your goal is to climb up the spiritual Himalayas. You may say, "The Himalayas are so high, so tall, and I have only just started. What am I doing?" If you maintain your goal, you will go up, up, up. But if you do not want to see your goal because after two days you are tired, then you will be assailed by doubts. You will say, "It is so high! The best thing is to go down." Or you may say, "Oh, I have climbed up a few feet. Now let me take rest." But in the spiritual life, there is no such thing as rest. If you are not looking up, then you will look down. At that time you will see that there are so many people at the foot of the Himalayas. They are lying down, sleeping and snoring. You will say, "Oh God, they are most comfortable. Let me go down and join them." Then you go down, and where is your goal? You climbed up before your birthday, and for a few days after your birthday you kept going up and up. Then afterwards relaxation started and brought you down. Now God alone knows when you will get up and make a new beginning.

If you take your birthday as the continuation of your promise to God to become His most perfect instrument, then today you will see that you have not fulfilled your promise, and tomorrow you will see the same thing. But, as you go on and on, you will see that there are quite a few good qualities which you are getting and quite a few bad qualities that have gone away from you. So that is a great satisfaction. Ten years ago, perhaps you had twenty desires. Now, since you are praying and meditating every day, you may see that you have brought it down to six desires or five desires. Here you are seeing your progress. This progress is your satisfaction, your perfection. In our philosophy, progress is always perfection. I will achieve perfect perfection when I have no desires, but the fact is that yesterday I had ten desires and today I have only four desires. Tomorrow I will have three desires. So that progress is perfection.

Absolute perfection is when you do not have even one desire. But there is something beyond this. You have extinguished all your desires, true, but do you have aspiration? God will catch us in that way. You may say, "I do not want this; I do not want that." But then God will ask you, "What do you want? Do you want Me all the time, in My own Way? You do not want to have a car, you do not want to have material wealth, you do not want to fly all over the world, you do not want to have houses and so on. Yes, I appreciate this, but then in a positive way, have you cried for My Love, for My Blessings, for My Compassion?" According to you, you are perfect because you do not have any desire, but according to God you are not perfect because you are not asking for His Peace, for His Love, for His Joy, for the increase of your own aspiration.

What we call progress is definitely perfection in its own way. But as there is no end to our progress, even so, there is no end to our perfection. That is why we continue and continue and continue. Every day you have to think of your progress. Then you will see that there is no end to your progress. Otherwise, if we do not look at our progress, we will not be able to continue our life-journey. For five days before our birthday we shall work very hard, again for another five days after our birthday we will aspire most intensely, and then it is over. But no, our birthday is every day. Since each birthday gives us joy and determination and reminds us of our promise, then let us keep that birthday every day to maintain the same promise.

Question: What does the soul consider when it chooses a particular day and a particular month to be born on earth?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not only the soul that chooses a particular day. It is like a conference. The Supreme and the higher beings will also help to select the day. As in a big conference there will be a chairman, a president and so on, in exactly the same way the decision is made in Heaven. Together they select the date.

When the soul accepts the body, vital, mind and heart, the soul becomes the captain and the Commander is the Supreme. The captain depends on the ordinary soldiers — the body, vital, mind and heart. The soul makes a promise to the Supreme that it will guide the members of its family to Him. Each member also makes a promise to the higher worlds. The soul wants constant obedience from these members. If they do not listen, problems arise. Then God-manifestation becomes almost impossible.

Let us say you run an office. You have appointed some workers, and they promise you that they will listen to you and be good workers. After a few days or a few months, some of them remain good workers while others enter into relaxation and become very bad. Then a day may come when everybody is relaxed, even the good workers.

Similarly, there may come a time when even the heart, who is dearest to the soul, does not listen to the soul. The soul made a promise to God that these members will run effectively, most satisfactorily. The body promised to be awakened, but instead the body wants to sleep. The vital promised to be dynamic, but instead it becomes aggressive. The mind promised that it would have one-pointed will, but instead the mind starts doubting everything. The heart promised it would maintain its oneness with others all the time. Instead of that it enters into the vital and is enjoying all the weaknesses of the vital. It does not want to enjoy the pristine purity and divinity of the soul.

The heart is supposed to stay in one room, where it is all safety. There everything is soulful in a divine way. Instead of that, the heart enjoys being one with the vital. Then emotional vital problems start. Oneness-love, oneness-fulfilment, universal oneness — that kind of divine love goes away. Then the love that the heart has goes to only one person or one thing. The heart starts loving only its body, its vital, its mind or one thing or one person, whereas the heart was meant to be universal. Here the heart is limiting itself and making itself insecure. If the heart establishes its oneness, constant oneness, with the soul, with God, then it becomes the universal heart. Instead of that, the heart starts limiting itself and binding itself. One by one, all the members of the soul's family fail in their promise.

When God created the soul and the body, vital, mind and heart, it was God's Vision that all of them would work together perfectly. They started well, they meant well, but one by one they became disobedient or treacherous or useless. They did not want to deliberately disobey, but they have not used their capacity properly, so now they have become useless. Then what does God do? God says, "All right, in this incarnation you have failed. Next incarnation again you will start." God is dealing with Eternity, but if you as an individual can become an excellent instrument in this lifetime, then God will have more faith in you and God will give you more responsibility. He will prepare something infinitely greater for you.

Question: If you want to offer your best wishes to a friend who lives far away and then through negligence you miss their birthday, is it too late afterwards, or can you make up for it?

Sri Chinmoy: Better late than never. Your friends will forgive you, because they know that these things happen. It is not something uncommon. But if you have a very strong inner connection with that person, it will be difficult for you to forgive yourself.

Many times it happens that we can forgive others, but we cannot forgive ourselves because we expect something infinitely more beautiful, more soulful, more powerful from ourselves. Ordinary, unaspiring people forgive themselves. Then as soon as they see the same fault in somebody else, they can never forgive that person. But when good people see an iota of imperfection in themselves, they get so mad at themselves. When bad people see a little imperfection in others, they try to make it larger than the largest. That is the difference between a good person and a bad person. A good person will try to forgive or ignore the other person's faults. He will say, "Poor fellow! I also have imperfections." A bad person always tries to hide his own imperfections. He tries to only look at the imperfections of others. A good person looks at his own little imperfection and says, "If I have this imperfection, how am I going to become God's dearest, most perfect instrument?" He does not want to forgive himself. He wants to perfect himself at every moment.

To come back to your question, if you do not offer your good wishes to your friends, if you are a good person, you will suffer infinitely more than the person who has not received the card from you. For this reason you have to be always very careful. If you have already made the mistake, then call the person or write to the person and apologise profusely. If there is sincerity in your heart, it will definitely touch their heart.

Sometimes people deliberately do not call their friends or dear ones, and afterwards they say that they forgot their birthday. Or they may tell a lie: "I phoned you, but you were not there." Sometimes they will say, "I sent you a card, but the post office must have lost it." They make the post office the culprit. Bad people will mail the card the same day or ten days later and blame the post office. They will say that somewhere in the post office it got stuck. Always bad people will make a third party responsible. When it comes to good people, even if a third party is responsible, they will take the blame themselves: "Perhaps I did not put enough stamps" or "Perhaps I forgot to mail it."

Your inner sincerity is the most important thing. First of all, if your connection with that person is very deep, you will not forget. But if you have forgotten, then apologise. If it comes from the very depths of your heart, from your inner being, the other person will feel that it was a deplorable mistake and in no way did you want to ignore them.

Question: Before my birthday, I had several dreams. In the dreams the negative forces were trying to fight my soul. The end result in most of the dreams was that the soul won.

Sri Chinmoy: Congratulations! You have won. You had some hurdles and you jumped over the hurdles. You had negative attacks and your soul won. I am very proud of you. Now, what is your question?

Question: My question is, was God trying to tell me something?

Sri Chinmoy: Only to take life seriously. Seriously means to be a supremely chosen instrument of God. This always you have to remember. We are all God's instruments. But in a class there may be fifty students. One is at the bottom of the class and others are first, second, third. If I am studying in that class, my goal is not just to be in the class, but to be first. Some students say, "As long as I am in the class, it is enough." My disciples do exactly the same. Some of them say, "As long as I am on the path, as long as I am in the boat, I can sleep, I can snore, I can relax." Who needs that kind of passenger? The Pilot wants people who are awake, alert and looking all around. He wants passengers who are singing, chanting and doing all kinds of things. The Boatman is steering the Boat towards the Destination and they are inspiring the Boatman. These are the good disciples.

Always think of doing something and becoming something. When I say doing something, I do not mean by hook or by crook, but on the strength of your aspiration, dedication and surrender to God's Will. Do everything with your heart's inner cry and with your life's outer dedication. Then you will have no time to look at the negative forces. If you always look at the north, how can you look at the south? Your goal is not behind you. Your goal is ahead of you. It is right in front of you, in front of your nose. So if you are always aiming at the positive side of life, then the negative side will automatically drop off because it no longer exists for you.

Question: Is it easier to hear the soul's voice on our birthday than on other days?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on your meditation. On your birthday if you are thinking of how many gifts you are going to get from your friends or how many people are sending you telegrams or letters, and if during your meditation all those thoughts are coming, then will you be receptive? God will give you zero. The day itself is good, but on that day hostile forces can attack you very nicely: "Did he congratulate me? Who will give me a cake today? Let me examine whether so-and-so is my real friend or not. If she does not give me a cake, then our friendship is finished!"

On your birthday you are meditating to get special Blessings, but every day you have to meditate with utmost sincerity. Then you create the receptivity. It is like a muscle — every day you have to practise. Overnight can you become a wonderful singer? No. Only by practising and practising. So if you meditate every day soulfully and devotedly, then you will be receptive on your birthday. Otherwise, during the entire year you will think of your breakfast, what you ate last night, what others are doing or what kind of dress you are going to wear today — this kind of nonsense you will think about during your meditation. At that time, meditation is not in your mind; in your mind is the rest of the world. Then how are you going to be receptive? Throughout the year if you meditate sin cerely, then on your birthday, your special day, you can receive, because on that day you will be more careful in your prayer. You will be more alert. Then automatically you will become more receptive.

There is no hard and fast rule that on your birthday you will have a better meditation. True, on your birthday, the Person who is going to give you Blessings will be kinder, more affectionate and more compassionate to you, but you have to open your heart's door. On other days, if He comes to you, because of your lack of receptivity you will get perhaps ten dollars' worth of spirituality. But on your birthday, out of His infinite Compassion, He is bringing one hundred or two hundred dollars' worth of spirituality. Just because it is your birthday, He may stand outside your heart-door a few minutes more. On regular days, He may stand for five seconds. During these five seconds, He knocks and knocks at your heart-door. If you do not open the door in those five seconds, He goes away. On your birthday, after He has knocked at the door, He may stay there for five minutes. After five minutes, if you are not opening the door, He will go away. It is enough. So on your birthday, you are getting more opportunity, but you cannot say that on that day you are going to be receptive. God is always ready to see whether you are going to open the door. But it is up to you. You can keep the door bolted from inside. If you do not open the door, He is not going to break it open. He is coming as your guest to give you something. If you do not open the door, what can He do?

We have to create receptivity by praying every day sincerely. If you want to depend on one particular day, your birthday, you will be totally lost. A good farmer ploughs the field every day. A bad farmer will wait for the particular day when there will be rain and everything else at his disposal, while the good one will go on, come rain, come sun, ploughing faithfully.

Similarly, good students will study every day. Bad students, the night before the examination, will drink coffee and give themselves a headache by trying to read everything. Then they will depend on luck. They will say, "Since I will not be able to read the whole book, let me guess which question my teacher is going to ask me." Then they select ten or twelve questions to study, only to discover, to their extreme sorrow, that the teacher has not asked those questions. If you are a good student, throughout the year you are reading. Then, by examination time, you have read the whole book. Then no matter which question the teacher asks, you will be able to pass.

God is also a Teacher. If you practise meditation every day, then on your soul's day you will easily receive from Him. Otherwise, five or six days before your birthday you will try to become very pure, very sincere, very self-giving. Before that, for eleven and a half months you led an unaspiring life, an undivine life. For eleven and a half months you slept and then in fifteen days you will try to become a perfect instrument of God! Then how will you pass your examination? During those eleven months, every day God was trying to teach you, but you neglected your study. In fifteen days are you going to cover the whole year's lessons? It is impossible.

Again, there are always some lucky people who study at the eleventh hour and pass because God is so compassionate to them. The teacher happened to ask the question they studied — all by sheer luck. But how many people can have that kind of luck? By sheer luck you may pass the examination one year, but every year will you pass the examination? One year, by chance, you may pass, but the next year you will fail. Then the third year you will give up your studies and go home.

In the spiritual life also, if throughout the year you do not study and before your birthday you want to become a saint, it does not happen. It is a gradual process. Regularity is of paramount importance. Punctuality is also important. But if you fail in punctuality, at least try to maintain your regularity. Punctuality is difficult, but regularity is not. Throughout the year you have to be regular and punctual in your meditation. Then automatically receptivity comes. But if you say, "On my birthday I will aspire and become a perfect person. All of a sudden, an angel will descend from Heaven and transform my bald head and give me lots of hair and I will look so beautiful," no, no, no. That angel will never descend. Every day, ever hour, every second you have to aspire.

[Sri Chinmoy then spontaneously composed a special birthday song:]

"Freedom within, freedom without" —
Today's shout.
"To please my Lord in His own Way
I came into the world" —
Tomorrow's whisper.

Sri Chinmoy's commentary: Today's world is full of desire. The desire-world wants freedom. Today's shout is "Freedom, freedom, freedom — I came into the world to enjoy freedom!" We cry for freedom, but freedom we never get.

Tomorrow's world will be full of aspiration. Tomorrow's whisper wants to please God in His own Way. As soon as we start aspiring, we see that it is God Himself who is aspiring in us, through us and for us.

Part III

SSP 59-97. Sri Chinmoy answered theses questions during a bus trip on 9 April 1989.

Question: Do you have a favourite birthplace from your previous incarnations?

Sri Chinmoy: India and America.

Question: You once said that every human soul taking birth in India has something special.

Sri Chinmoy: God alone knows what I said then and in what context. Perhaps I meant in general. To me, the Indian soul responds quite easily and quickly to the call of the Universal Spirit.

Question: What actually do you mean by "the birth of a new creation"?

Sri Chinmoy: With the birth of a new creation, Heaven sends a new hope to humanity and humanity offers a new promise to Heaven.

Question: Do witches go through normal birth?

Sri Chinmoy: Each and every creation of God, good or bad, goes through birth, which we can call either normal or abnormal.

Question: Does the soul choose an astrological sign that helps work out its karma?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul does not choose any astrological sign. It is astrology that tries to trace the footsteps or the journey of the soul.

Question: Does karma affect the date and conditions of birth?

Sri Chinmoy: In some cases it does, but not always. If the divine Grace descends on a special soul in a special way, then the karma of that individual does not affect any date or any conditions.

Question: Does each soul eventually have to take incarnation in each zodiacal sign?

Sri Chinmoy: No. It is not at all necessary.

Question: Is there a reason why the soul chooses a specific day for birth?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul just obeys God's divine Plan.

Question: Why does God pick a certain date for someone to be born?

Sri Chinmoy: God chooses a special date because He feels that that is the date most suited for the particular soul.

Question: Are there lucky dates to be born?

Sri Chinmoy: If you are a conscious and unconditional God-lover, then any date is good for you.

Question: Do likes and dislikes carry over from one birth to another?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, they do. But once one becomes spiritually mature, one has no personal likes and dislikes.

Question: Before dying, can one influence the following birth condition?

Sri Chinmoy: Only spiritual figures of the highest order can do that.

Question: Do you remember, Guru, the day you were born?

Sri Chinmoy: Only the soul in me remembers.

Question: Does Krishna have more than one birthday, and how is this possible?

Sri Chinmoy: Krishna has only one birthday but, in India, we observe the birthday according to the position of the moon. Therefore, various calendars may differ from one year to another.

Question: Do we get some connection with an Avatar if we celebrate his birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: If you celebrate an Avatar's birthday most soulfully and devotedly, then you can have some connection with him.

Question: What is the best present I can give God for my birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: A heart of boundless gratitude and a life of unconditional surrender.

Question: How do people who are aspiring in India celebrate their birthdays?

Sri Chinmoy: Each aspirant, not only in India but everywhere, celebrates his or her birthday according to the awakening and development of his or her spiritual life.

Question: Do the souls who are descending to take birth pass by the souls who are ascending after death?

Sri Chinmoy: No. There are two roads. They do not cross. Descent has one road; ascent has another road. They are not like a two-lane highway. If, while descending, the soul is stationary at one particular place, then it can happen, but usually it does not. While there is movement — one soul is descending, another soul is ascending — it does not happen.

Question: What should a mother do when her baby is born retarded?

Sri Chinmoy: The mother should pray for the fulfilment of God's Will inside the retarded child. If the mother grumbles or complains, her negative qualities will enter into the retarded child and make him worse. If he becomes worse, the mother's life will be infinitely more miserable.

Question: Why are babies born prematurely?

Sri Chinmoy: God wants to give a certain experience to the parents as well as to the soul of the individual.

Question: Does it make any difference if we are born at home or in a hospital?

Sri Chinmoy: It seems to me it does. On the one hand, if the child is born in a hospital, there is better medical care. On the other hand, there are many, many, many wrong forces in a hospital, while at home the atmosphere is peaceful and affectionate.

Question: My sister expects a child on my birthday. Will we have a connection?

Sri Chinmoy: Not necessarily.

Question: Should one think of the family he was born into on his birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: It is up to the individual. The most important thing is that one should think of one's own soul and pray to the Inner Pilot for Light, more Light, abundant Light and infinite Light.

Question: If there is a problem at birth, should the mother or the child be saved?

Sri Chinmoy: I feel that the mother should be saved. Before the child enters into ignorance, the child should go back to the soul's world. Before it enters into the ignorance-world to fight for and establish God's Victory, the child should go back and come here at another time. The mother has already started her journey in the battlefield of life, so she should be saved.

Question: Is the day you die connected to the day you were born?

Sri Chinmoy: Not necessarily.

Question: Is your birthday the most important day for your disciples?

Sri Chinmoy: For the first-class disciples, definitely it is, and for others, their own birthday should be the most important.

Question: Which is more important: the disciple's acceptance day or his birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: According to me, the day the seeker accepted the spiritual life is the most important day because that is the day he consciously made his soulful promise to God to please God in His own Way. The spiritual birthday is infinitely more important than the physical birthday if he is a genuine seeker.

Question: Does a soul sometimes take the same birthday in different incarnations?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, sometimes it does.

Question: How can we best cheer up people who are always sad on their birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: Just by telling them, "God loves you and God needs you, even if you are not aware of it. His Love for you is really unconditional and His Need for you is absolutely true."

Question: Three members of my family were born in the same month. Is there any significance to that?

Sri Chinmoy: I do not think in this case there is any special significance. They can be born on the same day in different years. Even then, there need not be any special significance.

Question: Is there a reason why I was born on my great-grandmother's birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: Who knows, perhaps your great-grandmother's soul and your soul have a special connection.

Question: Do we have a special connection with other disciples who were born on our birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: I have disciples who were born on the same date who have no particular affection for each other. There may not be any special connection.

Question: On our birthday, are there any special qualities we should meditate on?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. We should meditate on gratitude to God, our surrender to God's Will and our wholehearted acceptance of our inner life.

Question: On your birthday, what does your heart feel and what does your soul feel?

Sri Chinmoy: On my birthday, my soul is blissful and my heart is soulful.

Question: What are the best songs to sing to help us on our birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: The best song is our Invocation: "Supreme, I bow to Thee."

Question: Should we plan to use our birthday for a special manifestation project?

Sri Chinmoy: Do not delay. Just start from today on!

Question: How can a seeker bring an unaspiring person's soul forward on his birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: A seeker must not waste his time in trying to bring forward the soul of an unaspiring person. A seeker has much more important things to do.

Question: Is it significant or coincidental when we receive our spiritual name close to or on our birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: It is just coincidental. There is no great significance.

Question: Does the soul look different on a seeker's birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly not. On your birthday, the soul looks the way it always looks.

Translations of this page: Russian
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