A twentieth-century seeker

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A twentieth-century seeker1

The twentieth-century seeker is suffering. He is suffering from the loveless aridity of his heart. He is suffering from the confusion-market of his mind. He is suffering from the power-politics of his vital. He is suffering from the lethargy-supremacy of his body.

Depressed, he has been singing the song of self-resignation. Humiliated, he has been marching along the road of world-revolt.

Lo and behold! God, the Author of all Good, out of His infinite Compassion-Light, has removed from his aspiration-life the world of depression-night. God, the Author of all Good, has removed from his dedication-life the surrendered breath of humiliation-helplessness.

No more self-resignation-song; no more world-revolt-march! The seeker is now enjoying the life-acceptance-smile. His joyful acceptance of life is freedom from inactivity-indulgence.

There was a time when the seeker's life was suspended in mid-air between the old fears and the new doubts. But the binding fears and the blinding doubts have finally disappeared, and indomitable courage and an unshakable faith have replaced them. Now the seeker aspires because he needs God's all-liberating Heights. Now the seeker serves because he needs God's all-illumining Depths.

His aspiration is God's Silence-Life. His dedication is God's Sound-Life. Silence-Life is God the Seed. Sound-Life is God the Fruit.

His aspiration is God's Vision-Life. God's Vision tells him that he is Eternity's progress and Infinity's success. Success receives; progress achieves. Success receives God-Satisfaction from the outer world of duty. Progress achieves God-Perfection from the inner world of beauty.

His dedication is God's Manifestation-Life. God's Manifestation tells him that he is of God and for God. He is of God in the inner world; he is for God in the outer world. In the inner world he is God's Dream-Reality and in the outer world he is God's Reality-Dream.


  1. TCS 1. 18 June 1975, St. Francis Xavier Church, New York

The five paths of love and devotion

There are five paths of love and devotion. In one path, one approaches God with a calm, quiet, soft, angelical, joyful attitude.

In the second, the seeker approaches God as though he were a slave and God were the master. If the seeker wants to approach God with this servant-like quality, this is the right path. Here the seeker is the eternal slave of God's Love.

In the third approach, the seeker regards God as his eternal Friend, eternal Companion. In this path, the seeker speaks to God openly and freely, without obstruction. We can see the embodiment of this path in the relationship of Arjuna and Sri Krishna. Arjuna approached Lord Krishna as a friend, but eventually his relationship with Krishna changed, and he became a perfect, devoted disciple.

In the fourth relationship, God is considered as one's own child. Nothing is expected from God, just as we never expect anything from a child, a baby. When we approach God in this way, we have no desire, conscious or unconscious, to take anything from Him. We do not want to take anything from a little baby. We only try to please the baby in his own way. In India there are many devotees of Lord Krishna who think of him as a child, an eternal child. This is a most significant path, but it is quite uncommon here in the West.

The fifth path is the path of sweetness. Here the lover and the beloved become one. In this path we see the union of the human, aspiring soul and the divine, fulfilling Soul. The human soul and the transcendental Self become inseparably one on the strength of the seeker's absolute surrender. When an aspirant can offer his inner and outer existence completely, cheerfully, unreservedly and unconditionally to the Supreme, at that time he can achieve the sweetest inseparable oneness with the Inner Pilot.

These are the five approaches in the path of love, devotion and surrender. Each aspirant can walk along the path with one quality or with two or three.

Again, if he wants to have all the qualities, he can achieve this also. It depends on the individual aspirant, on what kind of relationship he wants to establish with his Inner Pilot or with the Supreme in his spiritual Master.

Question: Does proximity to a spiritual Master increase your capacity?

Sri Chinmoy: There are many who will sit in front of a spiritual Master, talk to a spiritual Master, mix with him, have all kinds of intimate experiences with him, but they will get nothing. It is only aspiration that will be able to bring to the fore all the divine qualities of the Master. If we have no aspiration, then no matter what the Master has, no matter what kind of spiritual height he has, he will not be able to give us anything.

To get the most from your spiritual life, the qualities you need are peace, joy, love, power and sincere inner concern for your spiritual Master. These you can have on the strength of your own aspiration.

Question: Can the Master and his path be separated?

Sri Chinmoy: The path and its teacher are inseparable. If you accept me, you have to accept my path. If you follow my path, then you have to accept me. Vision and reality can never be separated; true vision and reality are one. So, inside me you will see that the vision and reality cannot be separated. Just as fire and its flames can never be separated, so a spiritual Master and his path cannot be separated.

Question: Is your role to inspire your students?

Sri Chinmoy: I tell my disciples that I am not their leader. The real leader is God. God is your leader, my leader, the supreme Leader. God has told me to inspire my students for the time that I am on earth. I am a source of their inspiration. But I don't tell them that I am God. I don't say that I am their realisation. I am just their inspiration. God is their realisation.

Question: As a Guru, do you classify your students and deal with each of them differently?

Sri Chinmoy: Each disciple has his own level of development and the Guru has to guide each one individually. If someone is more developed, then the Guru has to deal with him in one way. If somebody is less developed, then the Guru has to deal with him differently. There is no systematic rule. A lion, a cat, a donkey and a monkey will not all be of the same standard. It is not possible. So what the Guru does is tell them, "You come individually and meditate with me. I will give you your meditation and I will know when you are achieving something inwardly. Then I shall help you and guide you." So the Guru cannot deal with all in the same way. God has given us ten fingers, and they are not of the same shape; they are not of the same length and breadth.

Question: Can it happen that I would not know that you are my true Master?

Sri Chinmoy: You may not immediately recognise that I am your Master because of fear or doubt, but gradually you will feel joy. Your inner joy will grow like a muscle and become very strong. The Master is someone who has tremendous love. It is the Master's love that is transformed into joy in the disciple's heart. So when you feel joy, tremendous joy, from being with a spiritual Master, please feel that that person is your true Master. When there is strong faith in the seeker's own life, then the Master's presence immediately convinces the seeker that he is the true Master. Also, the moment you get your Master, you become a spiritual child; you act like a divine child. This is another way that you will know.

Question: Does it take you long to decide if you accept someone as a disciple?

Sri Chinmoy: When I see a person who wants to become my disciple, even before he asks the question about being accepted, the answer is already there. So I wish to tell you that I accept both of you wholeheartedly. Before you formed the question I knew this. When I ask seekers to send me a picture and short resume, in a fleeting second after I open it I make the decision whether to accept or reject them. The Supreme in me makes the decision.

Question: When people leave your path, does that mean they never should have been disciples?

Sri Chinmoy: Whomever I select definitely is meant for our path. People do not come to us all of a sudden. They come because they have a connection here. Sometimes they have a dream about me or they read my books and get intense joy. People I take are definitely meant for me, but then they go away. It is not because they chose the wrong path. They go away not because they made a mistake. Their mistake was to leave the Centre.

Question: Isn't it easier for the girl disciples to love you rather than the boy disciples, since you are of the opposite sex?

Sri Chinmoy: This is only a silly way of thinking. Through physical love, through human love, nobody will be able to bind me. I am millions of miles away from that. Only through surrendered love, through spiritual love, am I caught.

Question: How can the disciples best relate to you?

Sri Chinmoy: I always say that I am their eternal Father, eternal Mother and eternal Friend. Like this we have to feel: eternal Father, eternal Mother plus eternal Friend. In eternal Friendship both the spiritual Father and spiritual Mother can exist.

Question: Guru, sometimes I am afraid of you.

Sri Chinmoy: Please do not be afraid of me. I am not a tiger, I am not a lion. I am the son of God and, at the same time, I am your eternal spiritual Father. So please do not be afraid of me. Please forgive me, but we have to run far — very, very far. When you are not afraid of me, when there is no fear inside you, when you are all love and surrender to the Will of the Supreme, at that time you will run the fastest. So please feel that the Supreme is operating in and through you. Then you will be able to run much faster.

Question: Are all the disciples connected together in some form?

Sri Chinmoy: Among the disciples there are many souls who were previously together, so in this incarnation they have again established an inner oneness. Suppose you have established an inner oneness with five or ten or fifteen people. Their good thoughts and bad thoughts will then affect you more than they will inspire or affect others.

I definitely know that there are a few group souls among my disciples. They may not be only here, but also in San Francisco or Canada or in other Centres. It does not have to be here, for in the inner world there is no separation. Sometimes these souls have similar dreams, but on different planes. For instance, you may have a dream on a particular branch of the reality-tree and on a different branch another person will have the same dream. Then the following day you may forget the dream, but you will have such good feelings for that person. Perhaps when you are on the street or at work, that person will flow before your mind, although you were not thinking of him at all.

Question: Are you really looking for quality rather than a large number of disciples?

Sri Chinmoy: This is absolutely true. I always look for quality and not quantity. I have come across thousands and thousands of seekers, many who were very sincere, but they were not meant for our path. Out of seventy thousand or more whom I have come across, I have accepted only seven hundred disciples. I feel that when I go to God, He will not ask me how many disciples I have; He will ask only about those who are meant for me. The Boss has asked me to do one particular thing and I will do that very thing. He will ask me about those for whom I am responsible and I will answer, "Yes, these are the persons that You asked me to take and I have done it." I care for quality and not for quantity. We always say that it is quality that God appreciates.

Question: Were all your disciples destined to come to you in this incarnation?

Sri Chinmoy: In most cases, it was destined that you would come to me. There are many souls with me now that had been connected with me in previous incarnations, and there are quite a few that I knew in the soul's region. Once they started to aspire here on earth, they looked for me. But not all souls are meant for me.

Today at the United Nations a friend of one of the disciples said to me, "When I come here I get real joy from you, but I have accepted someone else as my Guru." His soul is pulling him towards me, but his vital is pulling him away. I didn't encourage him. I told him to stay with his Guru.

Most of the souls that have come to me are meant for me, even those who have left, except perhaps for one or two that the Supreme didn't want me to have and that He took away in His own Way. He will take care of those, but the others who have left me will have to wait for me to give them a push again. Disciples may leave me on the physical plane, but in the inner world their souls remain my real disciples.

The disciple's mission

After fifty, sixty, eighty or a hundred years, you will see the result of the seeds that we are now sowing. Even if only twenty or thirty persons come to attend a public lecture of mine, no harm. Sometimes I feel extremely sorry when only a few people attend, but even if there is nobody, I am prepared to speak to an empty room, facing the wall. I have to give talks because the Supreme wants me to. On the other hand, if more people come so much the better, since then many people will be able to hear about spiritual things. If each of you feels that my mission is your mission, then you will dedicate yourself in every possible way to help our mission.

One of Sri Ramakrishna's disciples who was very dedicated to his Master's mission once took an oath that he would establish a Sri Ramakrishna Centre in Madras. When he came to Madras from Bengal, his possessions were only an umbrella and a picture of Ramakrishna. Come rain, come shine, this young man always carried the picture and the umbrella with him. For years and years he worked with almost nothing. He struggled so hard, and now the Ramakrishna Centre in Madras is well-known all over India.

One day he was giving a talk at the Mylapore Centre. Because it was a rainy day, no one turned up. The speaker stood up and said, "Nobody is here? Where could I get a better audience than the walls?" and he gave the talk. Then he said, "The walls have listened so devotedly; they are my best audience. The walls don't argue, they don't make a noise, they don't contradict my views. Others doubt and suspect; they have other views, but the walls have received all that I wanted to offer. Today my audience was really divine."

So here also, if people come, immediately the light I have to offer is spread to hundreds and thousands. But if we don't get people to listen, then like Ramakrishna's disciple we will say, "The walls have accepted me." When I spoke in Brandeis University, there were very few people, but right at the back of the audience I saw the Supreme facing me. He said to me, "I am the Listener. I am listening." So He will listen to us even if we don't see an audience.

All of us can do dedicated service. I am praying that each disciple can spread the message of the Supreme with devotion and dedication. If you do it without any pride, vanity or ego, then you are fulfilling the Supreme the way the Supreme and I want you to fulfil Him.

Question: How can we become more spontaneous instruments in manifesting your light with other disciples?

Sri Chinmoy: With disciples you can feel that they are all members of your family. If they are members of your family, then you don't have to worry. Suppose someone is your brother. He may misunderstand you, but the next moment he will forgive you. You should think of yourself as a child and your brothers and sisters as children. Do not think that they are forty years, fifty years or sixty years old and you are twenty-five. When you speak to them, think that you are four years old and they are also four years old. Feel that they are of your standard. In terms of sincerity, simplicity, purity and other divine qualities, they are of your standard. They may have achieved many things in the outer plane that you have not achieved, but since you want to be spiritual and they want to be spiritual, then there is a common ground. You want to approach them with spirituality; they want to approach you with spirituality. In this way automatically you will become spontaneous.

Question: I would like to know which you consider to be the more useful form of spiritual activity — to meditate and offer good will to humanity or to participate in outer manifestation?

Sri Chinmoy: Both are equally important. However, you have to know what kind of service you are offering. Many Indian spiritual Masters and realised souls have spent their time in Himalayan caves and secluded places offering good will to mankind. They did not give public lectures or write books. They have sent their good will to mankind and that was their dedicated service. However, if one meditates and offers good will and also offers dedicated service on the physical plane, he is offering more.

When I meditate with my disciples, I offer them my light and inner wealth. When I go to the United Nations and various universities to give lectures and hold meditations, this is my dedicated service. There are some spiritual figures who do not want to mix with humanity, so they offer their good will at the time of meditation. If one offers a good thought this is a form of dedicated service. However, if a spiritual Master offers something on the outer plane, like meditating with others and bringing down peace, light and bliss for seekers, then naturally his dedicated service is more than that of the person who only offers good will in the inner world. Although both are important, if one can use both hands — inner good will and outer dedicated service — then one can offer more. He who offers both makes a greater contribution to Mother Earth than one who only offers on the inner plane.

Question: How can I please you?

Sri Chinmoy: To please me it is not necessary to constantly think of my philosophy. When you come to me, if you just give me a soulful smile, a pure smile, then you have given me the entire universe. When I see a real, soulful smile on your face, I feel the same kind of happiness I felt the day I realised God. I feel that your smile is equal to my God-realisation. So if you want to make me happy and please me the way I want to be pleased, that to me is as good as my God-realisation.

Those who work for me are also pleasing me. But the individual has to feel how much work he can do for me unnoticed and unappreciated. All your problems, everybody's problems will be solved today if everyone can work without my outer appreciation. But you feel that you have done this for me and you have done that for me. So I have to smile at you and look at you. You call up one of the disciples and say, "Did Guru ask for me? Did he say anything? What did he say about me?" Soon I will simply tell them to say, "No," even if I did ask about you. For how many months, for how many hours can you work without being appreciated by me? Others will appreciate you or others may not appreciate you. But if I do not appreciate you and if your friends also do not appreciate you and you still work, then that is your real achievement.

When you do something for me, my inner appreciation is immediate — immediate, I tell you. You people give me a gift on occasion. The moment I open up the gift, the moment I touch the box even, my blessingful gratitude goes to you. You don't have to fulfil my request; the moment I ask you to do something, my gratitude immediately flows. You will perhaps complete the work two months later. I have not seen the results; I do not know whether you will bring me success or failure. I don't know that you will ever do the job; perhaps you will bring me zero. But even then my gratitude goes to you.

Just because I have asked you to do something, that means that I have also given you the capacity. Without giving you the capacity, I will never ask you to do something for me. And the moment I ask, the moment I touch something, my inner gratitude flows. So the most effective way to please me is to work unnoticed.

Always try to work without caring for appreciation. Inwardly you are being appreciated the moment you begin. There are many who work this way. When I ask them to work, they just work and then they go away. When they come and when they go, nobody knows. On some rare occasion perhaps I see them through the window, but they do not knock at the door.

This should be your attitude, not only when you are working at my house, but when you are working at other places also. If I ask you to work in Manhattan or elsewhere, you will do the job. But then you wait for appreciation or ask others if Guru has heard about it. Or through someone else you may inform me that you have done the work or that you have achieved this. You are feeling shy. Although you want the appreciation, admiration and glory, you cannot ask me for it directly, so you ask your intimate friends in some way to tell me. At that time I will smile and I will bless you. But I wish to say that you are not getting the same mark that you would otherwise have gotten. You may get practically zero. So there is no better way to please me than to work unnoticed, without appreciation. If you care for outer appreciation, you will never make any progress.

Question: Does complete surrender lead to the realisation of God within oneself?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. We use the terms "unconditional surrender" and "constant surrender." Sometimes we make complete surrender. It is complete for five minutes and at that time it is unconditional. Then, when five minutes are over, at that time unfortunately it becomes conditional. At that time we cannot expect to realise God. For five minutes we can make unconditional surrender, constant surrender. But at the end of five minutes it becomes conditional. So surrender has to become permanently established in our life. First it has to be temporary, then conditional and then permanent and unconditional. When surrender is unconditional and constant, we will see Light, infinite Light, within ourselves.

Question: How does one surrender oneself?

Sri Chinmoy: Please try to remember that there are two types of surrender. One type of surrender, the type that you are familiar with, is that of the slave to his master. The slave is at the feet of the master. He has no existence of his own. Whatever the master commands, immediately the slave has to do; otherwise the master will punish him. The master is usually rude, unkind and ruthless.

But in the other type of surrender, spiritual surrender, you are surrendering your own lower existence to your higher existence. You can think of your feet as your lower existence and you can think of your head as your higher existence. You know that your feet belong to you and also your head belongs to you. You can criticise your feet and say, "My feet do not have the wisdom that my head has." Again, let us take the example of the heart. The heart has all wisdom. You can take your feet and place them right inside your heart. When you place your own feet right inside your heart, when you place the lowest inside the highest, then the lowest becomes one with the highest and receives all the divine qualities of the highest in boundless measure.

Question: What if we try to surrender and fail. Do we get joy from the actual attempt?

Sri Chinmoy: There is a great joy not only in succeeding but also in trying. If we offer the result to the Supreme, then the greatest joy, the all-illumining joy we receive. Whenever we are doing something, we should offer our gratitude to the Supreme. We should feel really grateful that we have been given the opportunity to serve Him, whereas others have not been given this divine opportunity.

Question: When I fell asleep, I heard a voice calling, "Ma". Where did it come from?

Sri Chinmoy: Your inner cry is telling your outer being to be more conscious. In your day-to-day, multifarious activities, you are praying and meditating well, but you can be more conscious, divinely and spiritually conscious, in all your activities. That is the inner cry and you heard it with your physical ears. You know the inner cry is telling your outer being to be more alert, more devoted at every moment. Sometimes in the ideal world, you are ready to do everything for the world, for the manifestation. But if you do not establish your security and purity in each thought, then there will be a yawning gulf between your inner cry and the outer activities. So the inner cry comes forward. I am telling you that each thing you do every day has to be guided by that inner cry. Your inner cry must regulate your outer life. You have to feel that my life can manifest your inner cry. Take it that this child is making an inner cry and not a human cry. At every moment be conscious of what your ideal is, what your aim is. The Goal is your eternal friend.

Individuality and personality

The lotus as a flower has its own individual identity, but each of its petals also has its own individuality. Some petals are small, some big and each petal has its own shape. When we look at the petals of the lotus separately, we get tremendous joy because we are getting the individuality and the personality of each petal and, at the same time, when we look at the petals as a whole, we get the individuality and the personality of the entire lotus.

You are all in my boat together, but I don't want the disciples to be like some military gymnasts I once saw. How uniform they were! When we exercise too much uniformity, then everything becomes monotonous, mechanical, machinelike — there is no life in it. Here we are staying together and working together, but new inspiration, new light is also entering into us. Today some inspiration is entering into you, and that very inspiration can enter into another disciple a few hours later.

When you are meditating, your own individuality and personality are there, but you are also expanding. When you look at someone else during your meditation, you extend your consciousness. You may not recognise it, you may not believe it or you may not understand it, but it does happen. If you are meditating in a collective way, you will see that your child is an extension of your consciousness and your husband or wife is an extension of your consciousness. For example, when people meditate in front of me, even if their children are not here, sometimes I see the son or daughter in the mother's or father's heart or face. Sometimes the children feel very deeply moved by the parents' meditation even when the children are at home.

You are expanding, expanding, but as an individual you are still yourself, and your wife is still your wife, and your children are still your children. Your family looks so beautiful when it is together here; I see all of you as a unit growing together. Although your daughter may be very young, you are both in the same family. I will never say that your child is so inferior to you that she must not stand next to you or be with you. No, I will simply be moved when I see you together.

Let us think of the play I wrote about Lord Krishna. One disciple had the role of Lord Krishna. From the spiritual point of view he held the highest part; he became Lord Krishna. He played his role extremely well and I was most proud of him. Again, Krishna's friend Sudam, the most insignificant person, the poorest of all, also did his part well. Krishna was the king, the emperor, the Lord of the empire, the Lord of creation; and the other one, Sudam, had no status at all. When they met, the friend had his own individuality and personality and Krishna also had his own status, but when both of them talked they became one. At that time I was not able to separate Sudam or anybody else in the play from Krishna. They went together. Everybody's personality and individuality all came together and it became a grand play. If we want to separate the characters, we can; one is Krishna and the other is Arjuna. But when both work together, they don't lose their personality. When both mix together, they don't lose their individuality. On the contrary, their personality and individuality are strengthened because one person's force is entering into the other and vice versa. Additional strength goes from one person to the other. If we belong to the same family, then my strength will enter into you and it will increase your own individuality and personality, and your strength will enter into me.

Suppose you are doing a high meditation at the Centre. A close friend of yours who is not a disciple of mine may come into your consciousness. The soul of your friend may be unable to come to me directly, but that soul may feel a great affinity with your soul so it wants help from you. You yourself are getting help from me, but for your friend's soul's real help will come from you, and not directly from me. Of course, it is not the same as your thinking about a member of your family who is a disciple. In this case, the person has not accepted me as his spiritual Master whereas the member of your family has consciously accepted me in every possible way. In his case, the soul gets direct help from me because consciously the heart and soul of that person are here with me.

Each quality in our life, each capacity in our nature, is a kind of individuality and personality. An individual's qualities or capacities are separating him from somebody else, so each quality is an individuality. Somebody can be a musician and also an architect, a carpenter and a cook. How many capacities one person can show! And these we can take as his individuality and personality. As an individual he is embodying the capacity for music, architecture, carpentry, cooking and so on. Everything he is doing as the same individual, but is it creating a conflict in his life? No. He is harmonising everything because he knows that all these capacities are his and he claims them as his very own. If you take the capacities as individual factors in his life, then you will see that each capacity has its own individuality and personality. But since the individual can house all the capacities perfectly in his life, the music capacity will not be threatened by the carpentry capacity; they will go perfectly together. Different capacities are like individualities and personalities, yet they are going together perfectly. In a group, somebody is a singer, somebody is a dancer, somebody is a poet; but they all harmonise. The group is only an extension of the individuals' consciousness. Similarly, nobody is losing anything when he has a variety of capacities inside him.

A piano has many keys. Each key has its distinct note or sound, a distinct individuality and personality. When the keys are played together, they don't lose their individuality and personality but they act as a unit and create something really special. In an orchestra, so many instruments are being played, and each instrument represents or embodies a kind of individuality and personality. But when they are played together, they create such a divine atmosphere; they bring down Heaven on earth. If you take them separately, each one will have its own individuality, but it will not be able to achieve that Kingdom of Heaven on earth. So we expand and we strengthen ourselves when we mix together.

Question: To overcome imperfections in ourselves, should we feel that it is your responsibility to perfect us?

Sri Chinmoy: I don't want tamasic surrender, the surrender of an idle person. You will try your utmost. Then you must feel, "I have tried my utmost with the capacity that You have given me, O Lord Supreme! Now I have nothing else save my surrender." After trying your best, you have to surrender with absolutely full faith in the Master.

Always think of a child and his mother. Imperfection is nothing but a child in the playground playing in the mud, clay and filthy sand. That is imperfection. We say, "Look at that child wallowing in the pleasure of filth." But the same child knows that there is an answer. He comes running straight to his mother without going to this side or that side. She will take some soap and water and a towel and clean her child. It is a matter of a few minutes. But if the child has to learn how to clean himself first before coming to the mother, then he will not be able to do it. The child knows what soap looks like, what a towel looks like and what water looks like, but he does not have the capacity to find all these things. But he knows that there is someone who is more than ready to clean him. He has implicit faith in his mother. He knows how much he loves his mother. He feels that his mother is doing this on the strength of their oneness. This very thing the mother will do gladly because she claims the child as her very own and he claims her as his very own.

So when you think of me, you have to feel that you are of me and for me, and I am of you and for you. Otherwise, if you want to aim at perfection individually, it will be like trying to straighten the tail of a dog. As long as you hold it, it is straight. But once you release it, again it becomes crooked. This is Vivekananda's simile and it is absolutely true. Only when a spiritual Master offers real spiritual perfection does the tail remain straightened. Otherwise you will hold it straight for a while and then you will become tired. Then, when you release it, again it becomes crooked. Human nature is like this.

To the disciples I wish to say that you will reach God with your own aspiration, not with anybody else's aspiration. Your aspiration plus my grace, my compassion, will take you to God. If you exploit my compassion, then you are finished. I am doing things the way the Supreme wants me to do them. Don't misunderstand my compassion, don't exploit my compassion and don't be jealous of others. With men ego is the worst enemy. It is in no way better than women's jealousy. So men have to get rid of ego and women have to get rid of jealousy.

I said at one time that I would like to have thirteen unconditionally surrendered disciples. No other Masters have gotten that kind of surrender, which is like delicious food. Let us see if any disciples have that kind of love for me so that they can say, "This incarnation let me give myself to you." If you can be surrendered for five minutes, then try to be surrendered for fifty years. But unfortunately after five seconds condition comes in.

When I say to give up the ego, I mean give up the feeling of supremacy, the feeling that you have to be better than others. You should say, "If I have doubt, then let me conquer it; if I have fear, then let me conquer it. I want to transcend my ego." Try to transcend your own undivine qualities; then the ego will immediately go away. Whom have you to excel? Only yourself.

Question: What is the best way to get rid of depression?

Sri Chinmoy: The moment you are depressed, try to feel consciously that you have imposed a heavy burden or load on your shoulders. You have to feel that you are a runner and there is a goal for you. You have to run towards your goal. The faster you run, the sooner you will reach the goal. Now, if you deliberately and consciously place something heavy on your shoulders, then naturally your speed will be very slow. So do not be unwise; you have entered into this race. Again, this race is not competition with somebody else, it is only competition against yourself and against the undivine forces: depression, doubt, fear, jealousy and all the other negative forces.

The moment depression enters into your mind or vital, please feel that there is a heavy load on your shoulders. Then naturally you will try to get rid of it because you want to run the fastest. You will discard it, just throw it aside, and then you will run towards your destined goal as fast as you can.

Question: Do you think that our possessions are a hindrance to the development of the soul?

Sri Chinmoy: Not at all. Possessions are not a hindrance to the soul's development. We have to have a different attitude towards life's problems and life's activities. All hindrances, even if at first we consider them as hindrances, can be taken as opportunities in our life. If we take them as hurdles, then each hurdle will give us an opportunity to cross over it and come closer to our goal. What we think of as a hindrance is not a hindrance in God's view.

Question: I was thinking, for instance, that we have very good TV programmes here and we may feel more inclined to stay at home watching the TV programmes than to go to meditations. I consider that a hindrance.

Sri Chinmoy: That is not a hindrance at all; it is a lack of wisdom. If I have money, that does not mean that I shall squander it all the time. I have to know when to use it and how to use it for a right purpose, for a divine purpose. Similarly, there are many things that might distract me or prevent me from following the spiritual path or the inner life. It is I who am the master of my possessions. I shall have to deal with them according to the dictates of my soul. If I have a TV in my room, then it is I who use the TV, it is not the TV that uses me. I am the master of my possessions. As long as I am the master of my possessions, it is I who have to control my mind and say, "No. I have to go and listen to a spiritual talk, which will be more important than watching a TV show."

Question: But don't you think that if you did not have the TV set you would be more inclined to go to the meeting?

Sri Chinmoy: No, that is not so. If laziness enters, then you may say, "Who cares? Spiritual life is not meant for me; it is something unreal. It is the mind that is creative." If what you are saying were true, then the poorest people would all be inclined to follow the spiritual life. But it is not like that. There are beggars in India and here also who do not care for the spiritual life. Poverty does not mean that you are one inch closer to God. It is a mistake to say so. The possessions are not responsible for what you do; it is the possessor who is responsible. I am sure you have heard the name of King Janaka. He had a vast kingdom, but in spite of having this vast kingdom his whole life was always devoted to God and God-realisation. Similarly, the material prosperity of the West need not be an obstacle to God-realisation. You must feel that you are the possessor and that you must not be possessed by what you have. Those who don't have possessions will always harbor ill-feelings because they are poor and they don't have anything. This feeling will cause difficulties to arise in them. You have a television and therefore you do not want to attend a spiritual class; but the person who does not have a television is thinking of something else. He is not aspiring either. So always you have to see the difference between the possession and the possessor. You have to separate the possessor from the possession.

Question: How come you are always with me when I am in trouble?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two reasons why I am always with you when you are in trouble. The first reason, which is absolutely true, is that your trouble is my trouble. The second reason is that as a gardener picks a flower from a tree and plants it in the ground, even so I picked you from the soul's world and brought you into your parent's family and into our spiritual path. So even before you came to earth, when you were in the soul's world, my responsibility started. Now you are in the physical world but my responsibility in regard to your existence started in the soul's world. Therefore I will always be in your trouble and I will always be in your progress, success, achievement and fulfilment.

Question: How should we act with people who are violent or hostile to us?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two ways. One way is to conquer them through a superior power, an infinitely superior power, which is the soul's poise. The other way is to be on the same footing and to accept the challenge. If they criticise you because you are following a spiritual path, then you have every right to tell them that you are doing what you feel is best for yourself. Let them be satisfied with what they have; you will be satisfied with what you have. Whatever they feel best, they are doing; and whatever you feel best, you are doing. So in this way you can come to the same level and fight it out. But if you acquire Peace, Light and Bliss in considerable measure, then you go very high and you see that you have infinitely more power than the person who is talking to you with a bitter tongue. If you feel that you have established something solid, something concrete, then you can stay with your own height. You look at the person who is criticising you and you see that he is like an ant, like a tiny insect. But if you can't do that, then the best thing is to be on his plane. Don't box with him, but tell him to be satisfied with what he feels is best and you remain satisfied with what you feel is best.

Question: How come so much goes on and we don't know anything about it?

Sri Chinmoy: Because you sleep more than I do. In the outer life I don't sleep, and also in the inner world I don't sleep. Spiritual Masters have very little rest in the inner world. When you become an expert in something you know many, many things. Now what do I know about a car? A mechanic will know more because he is an expert on cars. You people are just like cars. You have an expert and he will take care of you.

Question: How can I conquer sleep?

Sri Chinmoy: Your body needs six or seven or eight or ten hours of sleep a night. If you try to conquer sleep when your body needs sleep, you will become insane. If you sleep when the body does not need sleep, then you are doing something wrong. Right now the body needs seven hours of sleep. If the body needs seven hours sleep and you don't give your body rest for seven hours, then you are committing a crime. You are going from one extreme to another extreme. After a few years when you are far advanced spiritually and you don't need sleep, then it will be a different matter. At that time if you don't need sleep and you do sleep, then it will be wrong for you. But right now your body needs sleep. What the body needs you have to give. Sleep helps considerably to take all anxieties and worries away so that you can have a fresh start the following day. Right now, don't try to conquer sleep.

Question: Should seven hours be the maximum?

Sri Chinmoy: For the disciples I always say seven hours, but again, every rule admits of exception. If somebody is used to sleeping for eleven hours, I don't dare to tell that person to immediately start sleeping for only seven hours. That person should gradually reduce his sleep to ten hours, then to nine hours, eight hours and finally seven hours. If you have been sleeping eight or nine hours, then try to make it seven hours. But if you have been sleeping for eleven hours, then try to reduce it gradually.

Again, you see that some people who do selfless service sleep five hours a night, or not even that much, because necessity knows no law. There is one disciple who comes to the printing press early in the morning and works until twelve o'clock or one o'clock at night. Then again in the morning she has to come back. There are some disciples who get five or six hours sleep a night. There are some disciples who are constantly working for me, for the Supreme in me, who never get more than six hours sleep. Some of the boys and girls who work twenty-four hours a day for me conquer sleep automatically, just as I conquer sleep, because the opportunity is afforded to them. They don't get even six hours sleep because I give them work twenty-four hours a day. But in your case right now you should get seven hours of sleep, otherwise it will tell upon your health.

Question: Is it possible to make progress while you are asleep?

Sri Chinmoy: In ordinary sleep you are tired, exhausted. But if you can stay in Yogic sleep, that is not ordinary sleep. It is soundless sleep. But "soundless" is a very mild word. In that sleep, you do not have any dream, you do not have any desire, you do not have any conflict with the finite. Only you remain in the infinite. Your consciousness stays in Infinity and Eternity. So in this kind of sleep, you do make the fastest progress. It is not sleep but conscious aspiration that will help you. Just by sleeping many hours a day, if you feel that you will get realisation, then you are sadly mistaken.

Question: Do we receive anything from you if we fall asleep during meditation, besides a scolding, of course?

Sri Chinmoy: You are right; I sometimes scold you if you fall asleep. Again, I am giving you a deeper philosophy. Sometimes when you fall asleep, it happens that it really helps you receive from me. Occasionally, you come to meditation agitated or angry with some disciples or with me. When you are angry with me, you are consciously hurting me. Instead of surrendering, you are only striking me inwardly again and again. If you get tired of doing this and you fall asleep, at that time what actually happens is that consciously or unconsciously you surrender to me and you give up the fight. At that time I am in a position to place you on my shoulder, and carry you towards your destination and show you light.

You are like a child who is angry with his mother. He goes on throwing dolls, toys and anything that he finds, and then finally he becomes tired. When he is totally exhausted, the mother can carry him anywhere she likes. So when you are angry with me, it is better to fall asleep during meditation, instead of throwing your anger and depression and other negative forces into me. If you fall asleep, then at that time I will lift you and place you on my shoulder. Whatever you have and whatever you are will all be on my shoulder. So at that time, sleep is helpful.

But if you come to me with devotion, love, aspiration and intensity, then it is a bad thing to fall asleep. At that time if you consciously give me all the good qualities that you have, the father and son or father and daughter become one and we become stronger. I deal with the infinite Light and Bliss, but the very fact that you are giving me something very good and divine immediately adds to your own capacity. If we have to fight against ignorance the tiger, since you are taking my side and I am taking your side, it becomes very easy. So, when you have come with aspiration, it is really harmful for you to sleep, harmful in the sense that if you come with aspiration then you can really be of great help to the Master. But if you don't come with aspiration, if you come with agitation, anger or depression, then the best thing is to fall asleep.

Question: How do we enter into your inner elevator?

Sri Chinmoy: In order to enter into my inner elevator, you have to develop the power of imagination. Imagination is of paramount importance. Scientists, poets — not to speak of Yogis — have all come to realise that imagination is the precursor of reality. What we call imagination is nothing short of reality in some other plane of consciousness. So when you meditate, try to imagine that I bring for you an inner elevator that climbs up fast, faster, fastest.

Question: If we have some kind of mystical experience, do you give it to us or do you know about it?

Sri Chinmoy: One of my inner beings will definitely know about it. Without my approval or without the assistance of one of my inner beings, my disciples will not get any experiences. My physical mind may not be aware of all of them, but this is not necessary. Again, I wish to say that if you have mystical experiences, it does not necessarily mean that you are one step further towards God-realisation. I always say that there are two roads that lead to the destination. One road is full of trees and beautiful flowers, and the other road is extremely barren, but it does bring the seeker to the destination. It depends on the individual.

An individual will make progress on the road which inspires him to reach his destination. One may prefer the road which is full of trees, flowers and beautiful scenery. He will say, "The road is inspiring me; that is why it will be very easy for me to reach the Goal, and the Goal will be much more beautiful, more meaningful." Another will say, "What shall I do with these flowers and trees? I may become totally enamoured of their beauty and then I may be satisfied here and not go farther. Let me walk along the road that does not have anything to tempt me or fascinate me. If the road is narrow or if the road is barren, it is a great blessing because then the road will not tempt me."

Mystical experiences are absolutely nothing in comparison to the highest divine realisation. But again, here one seeker says, "If I get a morsel of food, then only can I look forward to a big feast." The other one will say, "No, I don't need anything. Either I will get the full meal or I don't want anything to eat." So in this way two roads ultimately reach the same destination. It is the individual seeker who has to make the choice. Again, if you have any real higher experiences, my inner beings will definitely know, for they come from one of my inner beings. This is only for my disciples. Others can get mystical experiences through other sources.

Part II — The disciples' misbehaviour

Question: Isn't it beneath your dignity to put up with the behaviour of some of your disciples?

Sri Chinmoy: Unfortunately, nothing is beneath my dignity. That is the trouble. By becoming one with God's Will, I cannot say that anything is beneath my dignity. Impossible! Since God is inside everyone and everything, I also have to serve Him everywhere and in everyone.

Sometimes I have to stay with somebody who is very undivine. I am caught inside his ignorance. Here I am dancing. But I can't say it is beneath my dignity. Only I made a mistake, a bad mistake, when I accepted that particular person as my disciple.

Question: How can we have less competition and more harmony among the disciples?

Sri Chinmoy: When there is a feeling of oneness, there can be no competition. However, you have to know that competition can serve a purpose. Once a year we have competition at our Sports Day. We do it for physical fitness. This competition will inspire you to get up in the morning at 5:30 or 6:00 and go to the playground. Otherwise you make friends with sleep and enjoy the affection and love of death and nothing more. The value of competition is that you will try to transcend your capacity. If you lose to somebody after trying your best, it is absolutely immaterial. But if you don't make progress even here on the physical plane, then you won't try to make progress on the spiritual plane. At that time you will say, "I get up at 7:00 or 8:00 and then once in a blue moon I meditate. Who is going to see?" If you are sincere about making progress on the spiritual plane, then you can start your sincerity with the physical plane. Then the progress you make will spread to the mind and to the heart.

I wish to say that there is nothing wrong with a competitive spirit, provided it is competitive in a good sense. You are competing with yourself. Only there have to be some rules and regulations; there should be some discipline. You and somebody else cannot throw the javelin at the same time, so you will throw it right after him. You may throw much farther than him, but you will be able to see your progress and he will be able to see his progress. When we give prizes, we give to those who have done the best according to the rules and regulations. Actually the prize has no value. Here there are many people who cannot run. Even if you come in last in the race, do you think that I will have less love for you than for somebody who can run the fastest? Not at all. Only you have to know that it is a matter of oneness. Your right hand may throw much farther than your left hand, but you don't cut off your left hand and say that it is useless for that reason. You need both hands. If you have no left hand then you will see how odd you will look and how much difficulty you will have.

One particular lady is doing so much dedicated service by making shorts for the disciples and so many clothes for me. Her dedicated service means all her affection, love and gratitude. That is her qualification. Again, someone is qualified for running but he may not practise at all. He may say, "I stood first for four years. Now if I lose, no harm; nothing will happen." At that time his consciousness will descend because he is making friends with lethargy and wrong forces. So if you have capacity in any field, you have to cultivate it. Here it is only a matter of opportunity; there is no competition. It is all the feeling of oneness. Everyone is doing his job.

Those who lose to you in sports competition are your brothers and those who beat you are also your brothers. So you have to know that the feeling of oneness removes the feeling of competition. If someone runs slower than you, then you should feel that he is your weaker part. And if somebody is faster, then you can feel that he is your stronger part. In that way there can be no sense of competition. It will be all oneness.

We have to offer the result of competition at the Feet of the Supreme. If you throw the shot or the discus or the javelin and you stand last, then you have to feel that that is what the Supreme wants from you. You are taking exercise for your own progress, for your physical fitness. It is necessary. The divine in us, the Supreme in us has to be manifested here on earth through the body, through the physical consciousness. Otherwise we could have remained in Heaven. In Heaven there is no manifestation. Manifestation takes place only on earth.

Question: Guru, are we aware that we are attacking you in the inner life?

Sri Chinmoy: Oh yes, many times people are aware; again, many times they are not. But most of the time people are aware when they attack me. The human mind is like that. This moment I am your best friend, the next moment I can be your worst enemy. In five minutes time, somebody can be your best friend and, if you have a fight, he can become your worst enemy. During the day, how many times do I become the best friend and the worst enemy of the disciples? Suppose I deprive somebody of something and give it to somebody else. The person who gets it immediately says, "Oh, he has fulfilled my desire just to keep me quiet. He has given me a piece of candy so that he can give real divine Nectar to so-and-so." And the one that did not get it at all feels, "Oh, all the Master ever gives me is talk." But he has to know that if today he gets one cent, then tomorrow he will get five cents and the following day he may get a dollar. It is like that.

If you get, I am bad; if you don't get, I am also bad. There is no way I can make the disciple feel that it is for his own good that I am giving him something or that I am not giving him something. How people can misunderstand. They feel that if Guru does not give something to them, it is proof that he does not care. They say, "Since I have not got anything today, I must not expect anything more from him in the future." This is their logic. Only when one has made unconditional surrender will one see that everything I do is for his own good.

I find it so difficult to smile at people sometimes. Immediately they ascribe some motive to it. Sometimes disciples feel that if I smile at them, then it means that I want something from them. I am in a very good mood, so I smile. But someone immediately thinks, "Oh, I have so much money, and he wants to have a very large share. That is why he has given me a smile."

It has happened many, many times that I am afraid to smile at certain individuals because if I smile, it is misunderstood. If I smile, immediately you think that I am expecting something from you in return. Then, if I don't smile, you think that I am displeased or that I am not smiling because you have not given me anything. But whether you have pleased me more or not may have nothing to do with it.

Question: Is it true that almost all spiritual figures are doubted even by those who are close to them?

Sri Chinmoy: Some of you may at times doubt me, but this kind of unbelief or disbelief all spiritual Masters have gone through; I am not the exception. As soon as a Master takes the human body, he is subject to others' doubt. No matter who comes into the world with tremendous occult power and spiritual power, it is like this. Sri Krishna had four or five disciples who felt he was a God-realised person; but others doubted him and said many things against him. It was the same with Sri Ramakrishna and the Buddha.

I have a human body with eyes, a nose, arms, hands, legs, everything, but I can do quite a few things which most human beings cannot do. Tomorrow you will also be able to do these things, but I can't blame you for doubting my spiritual capacity because this is human nature. The spiritual Master is always misunderstood. Only when he leaves the body is he worshipped and adored. While in the body, he is a victim to criticism even by his dear ones. The Upanishads say about the spiritual Master: "He is this and that, and again he is beyond both. This moment he is a child, the next moment he is a grandfather and the next moment he is the transcendental soul."

Question: When people think of the Christ at Christmas time, is it the Christ Consciousness that they are thinking of or is it something else?

Sri Chinmoy: When people think of the Christ Consciousness, I do not know which consciousness they are thinking of. But they are not reaching or realising the Christ Consciousness; they are realising the Son consciousness. The Son consciousness means infinite joy, infinite love, infinite compassion and infinite oneness.

Question: If we work too long at a particular job for selfless service, does our consciousness drop and cause us to make mistakes?

Sri Chinmoy: If you work beyond your capacity, at that time you are tired mentally and vitally. Then if you continue to work just for the sake of extra hours, you will ruin everything. So the best thing is to stop. Work devotedly, soulfully, for three hours or five hours or seven hours, and then give up. Otherwise, what is the use of going on and on and making mistakes? When your concentration falls and you get tired, this is the time to give up. Then, try to develop receptivity. Pray and meditate so that you can work for a few hours more; try to develop the capacity to work more.

Question: I know I have vital problems but I never wrote to you about them. Does that mean that I am insincere?

Sri Chinmoy: No. Some people are sincere to the extreme; they write about everything. Again, some don't write, but that doesn't mean that they are insincere. They may want to fight it out by themselves. Some feel embarrassed; some feel that it is beneath their dignity; some feel that they can handle the problem. These are the reasons why they don't write. But people who write get more compassion from me. Like a magnet I try to pull their vital problems. They feel that they will get some help from me by becoming sincere, but my help is not enough. They need willingness. They themselves must want to conquer these forces. Divine compassion will increase if they write, but their realisation will not take place unless they themselves want to conquer the wrong forces.

If I am hurt and I come to my mother, then my mother will immediately try to show me all her concern. But if I again go and strike myself, then I will have the same problem. If I don't return to the place where I got hurt before, then my mother does not have to come. Only when I have a problem, I will tell her. So the people who tell me about their vital problems are better off than those who do not tell. But again, I am saying that just by telling me, you will not be able to solve your problems. If you tell me, then you can feel that you have someone to pull with you in the tug-of-war. But what actually happens? You ask someone to pull with you in one direction and he is ready to help you. He pulls in that direction, but you change your side. After inviting someone to be your friend, and to help you when you are in difficulty, you go to the other side very nicely and you start pulling against him. You say to him, "Who wants you?" It is like a husband and wife when they fight and quarrel. If a friend comes as an intermediary, then he gets a blow from both sides. The husband and wife say, "Why do you have to interfere? It is our business. We can fight; we can do anything we like. Why should you bother us?" You ask somebody to help you when you have problems. But when he comes, you say, "It is none of your business; I will take care of myself." This is what is happening.

Vital problems are a disease. When one person is affected, there may be many more to catch the disease. And if someone becomes a victim of one individual, then there will be five or six other persons also attacking that person. If one person cherishes ignorance-forces and throws them into someone, then soon it becomes five persons. Recently one boy has become the victim of five girls. Letters are coming to me. I won't tell the names of the boy or the girls, only I am saying how the number increases. But if you have a little bit of vision, then you will immediately know who the boy is. How his face used to shine once upon a time! Now that shine is gone. But you don't have to look around to see the boy; just think of yourself. I read these letters and then I tear them up, so nobody will know. One person will get five blows, five arrows will come and strike him. Is one not enough to kill him? Similarly, one girl may be the victim of five arrows from five boys. One blow you can't survive, so how will you survive five blows?