Two devouring brothers: doubt and ego

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Part I — Discourses on ego


To feel the absence of ego is as difficult as to feel the presence of God in one’s heart. To feel the absence of ego is as difficult as to feel the presence of God in one’s self.

Man is ‘I’. God is ‘We’. Similarly, the ego is ‘I’; the soul is ‘We’. On the strength of its absolute oneness with God, the soul feels the entire universe as its very own. The soul knows and feels the omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent God is within us. The soul sees and feels that it can sooner or later manifest the infinite Truth here on earth.

The ego does not see the truth; it does not feel the truth. The ego binds. The ego separates. The ego casts asunder the wisdom in us. When the ego expresses itself through self-delusion, it tells us that we can do nothing. Again, before we have achieved our soul’s liberation and perfection, the same ego tells us we are everything, we can do everything.

Ego is selfishness. He is lucky indeed who has freed himself from selfishness. God is in self-dedication, in selfless service. At the same time, he is blessed who sees God emerging from selfishness itself. In the process of evolution we have to go beyond selfishness, beyond the ego. But we have no right to deny the existence of God in the ego. Even in the ego God abides. He also abides in doubt, in fear, in ignorance and in bondage, but that does not mean that we will cherish fear, doubt, ignorance and bondage. No, God’s Consciousness in these things is extremely limited. We have to transcend our limitations. Today’s achievements are not enough. We are the children of tomorrow. There is no end to our progress. There is no end to our soul’s journey. We are running towards Infinity, and the shore of Infinity always transcends itself. There is no limit to our realisation.

No doubt we are infinitely superior to the wild beasts. Yet we consciously drink two bottles of ignorance-wine. One is the bottle of ego. The other is the bottle of self-doubt. Self-doubt has to be transcended. Ego has to be transcended. Man uses the terms ‘I’ and ‘mine’ because he feels that these things constantly feed him. But the real God-lover wants to be fed by God’s Grace and God’s Compassion. A true seeker of God, a true lover of God, will use the terms ‘Thou’ and ‘Thine’. He dines with illumination and God’s Compassion. He drinks the nectar of divine delight. He enjoys the bliss of oneness.

There are many thieves, but the worst of all these thieves is undoubtedly our ego. This thief can steal away all our divinity. Not only are our experiences afraid of this ego-thief, but even our realisation, our partial realisation, is afraid of it. We have to be very careful of this ego-thief.

Our human ego wants to do something great, grand and magnificent. But this unique thing need not be the thing that God wants us to do. It is always nice to be able to do great things, but perhaps God has not chosen us to do that particular thing. God may have chosen us to do something insignificant in the outer world. In the Eye of God, he is the greatest devotee who performs his God-ordained duty soulfully and devotedly, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Each man is a chosen child of God. Similarly, each man is destined to play a significant part in God’s divine Game. But each person has to know what God wants from him. When one becomes aware of God’s plan for him, then he abides by God’s decision. When God sees that particular person performing the role that He chose for him, then only will God be filled with divine Pride. Our ego will try to achieve and to perform great things, but in God’s Eye we can never be great unless and until we do what God wants us to do.

Ego comes to us in the form of self-flattery. When we remove the mirror of self-flattery from our eyes and in its place we hold the mirror of truth, what do we see? We see that we are nothing but semi-animals. We are afraid of seeing the truth face-to-face. Truth seems painful. But the ultimate Truth is not painful. It is our ego, our doubt and our self-styled pride that make the truth painful. The truth seems destructive, but that is not the real truth. Truth is sweet. Truth is harmonious. Truth is all-fulfilling. But we do not see truth the way truth has to be seen. We see truth according to our self-conceived ideas. Truth has to be seen in its own way.

The ordinary, common human ego feels that it has achieved everything and that it knows everything. This reminds me of an anecdote which Swami Vivekananda related to the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. It is called “The frog in the well”. It happened that a frog was born and brought up in a well. One day a frog from the field jumped into the well. The first frog said to the other, “Where do you come from?”

The second frog said, “I come from the field.”

“Field? How big is it?” said the first frog.

“Oh, it is very big,” said the second.

So the frog from the well stretched its legs and said, “Is it as big as this?”

“No, bigger! Much bigger!” said the frog from the field.

The other frog jumped from one end of the well to the other and said, “This must be as big as the length of a field.”

The second frog said, “No, the field is infinitely vaster.”

“You are a liar!” said the first frog. “I am throwing you out of here.”

This kind of thing is also the tendency of our human ego. Great spiritual Masters and sages speak of Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. The beginner who is just starting his spiritual life will immediately doubt. “Is Infinity a little larger than the sky?” he will ask. The sage will say, “No, Infinity is infinitely larger than your imagination, larger than your conception.” Immediately the sage will be criticised and will become an object of ridicule, because our ego binds us and makes us feel that what we have seen and what we have realised can never be surpassed by the realisation and experience of others. The ego does not like to feel that someone else has more capacity or that someone else can do something which it cannot do.

I am sure all of you have heard of Shankara, the great Vedantin. A Vedantin is one who follows the truths embodied in the Vedas or the Upanishads and who has realised the Vedic Law, the Vedic Truth. The great Vedantin Shankara, after a bath in the Ganges, was walking home along the street. It happened that a butcher carrying a piece of meat brushed against him. Shankara became furious and said, “I am a Brahmin! How dare you touch me! I am absolutely pure!”

The butcher said, “O Shankara, you are the Self, I am the Self. The Self does not touch anybody, and at the same time the Self is not touched by anybody.” Shankara came back to his senses.

In our day-to-day life, each human being feels that he is purer than others. He may do absurd things, he may be the prince of emotional affairs, but still he feels that he is superior to others in the realm of purity. Now, who is responsible for his foolishness? It is again his ego. If we live in the soul, we do not have problems of superiority or inferiority because the soul immediately makes us feel that we are one, absolutely one with the entire world.

Brahmosmi means in Sanskrit, “I am the Brahman.” It is the expression of the soul which has attained conscious oneness with the Absolute. But the tricky ego sometimes makes us say, “I am God.” Shankara had a disciple who used to imitate him in every way. When Shankara realised God, the absolute Brahman, he started saying, “I am the Brahman.” So this disciple also used to say, “I am the Brahman.” All the other disciples used to mock and scold him. “You must not dare to say that you are the Brahman,” they said. “Master Shankara can say this, for he has realised God, but you must not.” But the disciple would say that he wanted to imitate his Master in every way. One day Shankara asked this disciple to follow him. They came to a foundry and Shankara took a lump of molten gold and devoured it. Then he told his disciple, “Since you imitate me in everything, you should imitate me in this, too.” The disciple was scared to death and left the place. The other disciples then knew that they had been right, and they must never utter the word Brahmosmi unless and until they had actually attained that conscious and inseparable oneness. When that disciple transcended his ego and his emotions, he became a real, intimate devotee of Shankara. But first he had to get rid of the ordinary human ego and enter sincerely into the world of aspiration and realisation.

If we try to imitate the words and actions of the great Masters while we are still immersed in the ordinary life, it will be sheer foolishness. We have to grow in the field of spirituality first. This field is full of experiences. After that we can enter into the field of realisation. Then we will also be able to say, “God and I are one.” Right now we are not one with God consciously. In the realm of the soul we are one, but not in our day-to-day life. In our daily life we feel that God is somebody separate from us. Eventually we are bound to discover that this very God is inside us. One day we will be able to realise Him; we will be able to see Him and feel Him constantly. It is sheer foolishness and stupidity on our part to say that we are one with God while we remain in utter ignorance. We have to come out of ignorance and soulfully and devotedly become one with God. Then, if it is the Will of God, in order to teach humanity, in order to arouse humanity from its age-long slumber of ignorance, we can proclaim that we are one with God, that we are God’s chosen children, here on earth to fulfil God in His own Way.

At one time ego will make us feel that we are nothing and at another time ego will make us feel that we are everything. We have to be very careful of both our feelings of importance and our feelings of unimportance. We have to say that if God wants us to be nothing, then we will gladly be nothing and if God wants us to be everything, we will be everything gladly. We have to surrender unconditionally and cheerfully to the Will of God.

If the ego tells us that we are only God’s slaves, this also has to be renounced. We have only to pray to God to make us what He wants. If He wants us to be His peers, we shall be. If He wants us to be His slaves, we shall be. If He wants us to be His true representatives on earth, we shall be. “Let Thy Will be done.” This is the greatest prayer that we can offer to God. In the sincere depths of this prayer is the extinction or transformation of ego.

TDB 1. 26 January 1969

How to conquer ego

Feel that your ego is a thief inside you. When you see a thief, what do you do? You chase him. Feel that a thief has entered into you, into your room of aspiration. Start chasing your ego, the thief, early in the morning. In the evening, you will be able to catch it. Once you catch it, cut it into pieces with your naked inner sword of universal oneness. If you can really feel that your ego is a thief, a day will come when you will be able to catch it. It may not come all at once, but if you know that something is stolen and you have seen the thief, you will continue searching. Your search is bound to be rewarded one day. When you catch the ego, what will happen? Your sword of universal oneness will transform it.

Ego is separativity and individuality. Separativity and human individuality cannot live in the sea of oneness and universality. If we want to maintain our separate individuality, our life will end in destruction. A drop, before entering the ocean, says, “Oh, I will be totally lost, I will be totally lost! Here is the mighty ocean, the vast ocean. When I enter into it I will be totally lost, I will be totally destroyed, I will have no existence!” But this is the wrong way of thinking. The drop should be spiritually wise. It should feel, “When I enter into this vast sea my existence will merge with it inseparably. Then I will be able to claim the infinite ocean as part of myself.” Who can deny this? The moment the drop enters into the ocean it becomes one with the ocean; it becomes part and parcel of the ocean; it becomes the ocean itself. At that time, who can separate the consciousness of the drop from the consciousness of the entire vast ocean?”

The human ego is constantly bothering us. But if we have the divine ego which makes us feel, “I am God’s son, I am God’s daughter,” we will not tend to separate our existence from the rest of God’s creation. God is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent. If He is all, if He is everywhere and if I am His son, how can I be limited to one particular place? This divine ego or divine pride is absolutely necessary. “I cannot wallow in the pleasures of ignorance. I am God’s child. To realise Him, to discover Him in myself and in everyone is my birthright. He is my Father. If He can be so divine, then what is wrong with me? I came from Him, from the Absolute, from the Supreme; therefore, I should be divine too.” This kind of divine pride has to come forward. The ordinary ego that binds us constantly has to be transformed. The divine ego, the divine pride which claims the universe as its very own, should be our only choice.

The ego deals only with the person and his possessions. If we deal with the universal Consciousness, we become the entire universe. In this consciousness we do not act like a tiny individual who can only claim himself and feel, “This is my property. This is my capacity. This is my individuality. This is my achievement.” No, at that time we will say, “All achievements are mine. There is nothing that I cannot claim as my very own.”

In the spiritual life the easiest way to conquer ego is to offer gratitude to God for five minutes daily. If you cannot offer gratitude for five minutes, then offer it for one minute. Offer your gratitude to God. Then you will feel that inside you a sweet, fragrant and beautiful flower is growing. That is the flower of humility. When you offer Him your gratitude, God gives you something most beautiful, which is humility. When you discover the flower of humility inside you, you will feel that your consciousness has covered the length and breadth of the universe. Think of the blade of grass and immediately you will feel humility. We trample upon grass, but it never complains or revolts. If we walk gently on grass, we can get the sense of oneness with Mother Earth and with the infinite Vast. We touch the heart of the Mother Earth and we feel the heart of Heaven in our joy, for when we touch the heart of Mother Earth, Father Heaven immediately responds with joy. In the spiritual life we grow humility through conscious gratitude. Once it has seen the flower of humility, the ego goes away because it feels that it can become something better: the universal oneness.

The more we give, the more we are appreciated. Think of a growing tree. A tree has flowers, fruits, leaves, branches and a trunk. But the tree gets real satisfaction not by possessing its capacity but by offering its capacity. Only in self-giving does it get satisfaction. When it offers its fruit to the world it bows down with utmost humility. When it offers shade or protection, it offers them to everyone without regard for wealth or rank or capacity. We also get real satisfaction by self-giving and not by keeping everything for our own use. The ego always tries to possess things for itself. But when we transcend ego we try to give everything for God’s Satisfaction, for the world’s satisfaction and for our soul’s satisfaction. On the human level the ego tries to get satisfaction by using things for its own purpose. In the spiritual life, we transcend the human ego and then we use those things for a divine purpose, for the satisfaction of the entire world.

Part II — Questions and answers on ego

Question: I sometimes feel that we suffer because we are at the mercy of our ego. How can we end this suffering?

Sri Chinmoy: We have to pray to God constantly to come to the fore in us. Let Him guide us and mould us in His own Way, into His very image. We are not the doers. We have to feel that we are the instruments and He is the player. If we have that kind of feeling, then we can always be happy. If we feel that we are God’s instruments and that we are helpless unless God acts in and through us, naturally He will do the right thing in and through us. The right thing for whom? For us. But we consciously have to give Him the chance. We shall give Him this chance soulfully, devotedly and unconditionally. We will say to God, “Take care of us. We came from You. We want You to look after us now.”

Why do we enter into the spiritual life? We enter into the spiritual life in order to give God what we have and to become what He is. What we have is ignorance. If we can gladly give it to Him, then He can deal with our ignorance. If we try to deal with our ignorance ourselves, then we will have no chance of coming out of ignorance.

Let us all try to feel that He is the eternal Doer, the supreme Doer, and we are the instruments. In us the Infinite plays through the finite. Here we have the greatest opportunity. He is infinite in every way. He acts through us, the finite individuals, although He has the capacity, being infinite, to play His cosmic Game in any way He wants.

God is really great. He can do the greatest things and He can do the smallest things. He deals with His omnipotent Power, yet He takes the trouble to create the tiniest insect. He is infinite, yet He is acting through the finite, through imperfect and limited human beings. But He gives the finite the message of salvation, liberation and realisation. He transforms the finite into the Infinite. Because He can do this, He is absolute, He is omnipotent, and He is the only Doer. He compels the Infinite to act in and through the finite, and He transforms the finite into the Infinite.

Question: How can we walk faster on the spiritual path?

Sri Chinmoy: Through constant and conscious surrender of our outer and inner existence to the Will of God. The surrender of the table or chair is tamasic or inert surrender; we can drag it from here to there. That kind of surrender is not spiritual surrender. Spiritual surrender is a conscious surrender. We are consciously offering our body, vital, mind, heart, soul and all our capacities to the Supreme for His use. We are prepared to run towards the Goal, and at the same time, if God wants somebody else to run faster than us or if God wants us to run at a particular speed, we will be satisfied. At every moment if we can offer our individual will and even our aspiration to the Supreme, then our human ego is bound to be illumined. When the ego is illumined, we can and will have the feeling of our real oneness with the highest Light. When we have oneness with this Light, limitation cannot enter into us, so we can have no ego.

Question: How can I cure my ego problem?

Sri Chinmoy: Aspiration is the only medicine to cure you of your ego-disease. If you want to wait until after your ego is dissolved for aspiration to appear in your life, then you will have to wait throughout Eternity. Along with aspiration you should have constant dedication to someone in whom you have faith, who can mould you, shape you and guide you to your goal. Through self-dedication to his cause, to his mission, to his manifestation, you will see that you are expanding through him. His needs become your needs. Through your faith you cover the length and breadth of the world. Then how can you have an ego? It is all vastness. In the Vast, the infinite Vast, there is no ego.

Question: Isn't there a need to please God before pleasing oneself?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, that is true, once you begin to care whether you are pleasing God or not and what God wants you to do. When you please God in God’s own Way, immediately you have played your part. When you have done something for God in God’s own Way, your heart will expand to such an extent that you will be able to see all your friends, even your so-called enemies, inside your own heart. But if you please God in your own way, the divine satisfaction will not be found inside your heart. When you try to please God in your own way you may deceive yourself into feeling that you have pleased God, but actually you have pleased only your ego. When you please your own ego you will not really be able to please anyone else on earth. But if you please God divinely, you will see satisfaction even in your worst enemy.

Question: How do we know if we are just pleasing our ego or not?

Sri Chinmoy: Suppose you have done something good and I appreciate you. While I am appreciating you, you can feel that this appreciation is being offered to everybody present. If you feel that you are the only person on earth who has done it or who can do it, and others don’t have the capacity, then you are feeding your human ego. At that time you are separating yourself from the rest of the world. But if, while I am appreciating you, you feel that it is the conscious aspiration of all the disciples which has been fulfilled in and through you, then you are not feeding your own ego. If you feel that all are aspiring inwardly to do something for God which, unfortunately, they could not do on the outer plane, and you are the instrument through which their conscious aspiration has taken manifestation, then you are not pleasing your human ego. Whenever you do something good, you have to feel that you have become part and parcel of the spiritual collectivity.

Now suppose you have done something wrong and I scold you. At that time you will be feeding your ego if you try to distribute the blame. Do not think, “Oh, this mistake everybody makes. It is not only I who have done it, everybody does it. I am not the only person who makes this kind of mistake, so this scolding is of no particular value to me.” If you take it in that way, again you are feeding your human ego. You should feel that you have done something wrong, and for your own good your Master is scolding you because he feels that this is the only way in which you can make progress. At that time others have to feel that your mistake was made by them as well, that they are also responsible for it. They must not separate themselves from you at that time. But it is not your business to put the blame on them.

When you do something good, others will identify themselves with you and you will also identify with them. When you do something wrong, if they dissociate themselves from you, then they are making a mistake. They have to feel, “Inwardly, perhaps we did the same thing. Perhaps we cherished some wrong thought and it has taken form in his life.” It is their business to identify with you at that time for their own inner humility. But if you try to identify with them with the feeling that everybody makes this kind of mistake, so it is not really serious, then you will only enter into the world of self-justification, and you will make no progress. You have to feel sorry, you have to feel responsible and you have to feel that you need not and will not make the same mistake again. If you have done something wrong and I have found fault with you, then you have to feel that I scold you for your own good, for your own progress, for your own perfection.

In this way you can always keep the ego under control. When you have done something right, something good, something appreciable, then feel that others equally deserve the appreciation. When you do something wrong, it is up to others to feel that they are equally responsible for your wrong deed. But you have to feel that you alone are the one through whom the manifestation has taken place. If you get some form of outer punishment, you have to feel that this is also the right thing for your own progress. And when you make progress, when you become more divine, then feel that the others, whom you claim to be your very own and who claim you as their very own, have also become more divine.

Question: How can one overcome the ego?

Sri Chinmoy: One can overcome the ego and have total humility if one can feel constantly that he is not indispensable, only God is indispensable. God is constantly standing in front of an aspiring individual as a golden opportunity. One has to feel that this opportunity is the only thing that he needs. If he feels that God needs him for a particular purpose which he alone can fulfil, then he is totally lost. One has to feel that his spiritual aspiration itself is the greatest blessing that he can receive from God. There are billions of people on earth who do not care for the spiritual life, who are still spiritually fast asleep. Why is it that one particular individual is conscious of the spiritual life while the others are still sleeping? The moment one is conscious of the spiritual life, he has to feel that he has received the greatest boon from God.

Question: Is humility actually very important in the spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: If we have no humility, whatever path we follow, all effort will be useless. Some aspirants, new ones particularly, have no humility at all. But those who come to meditate with arrogance and who feel that they know everything, would be better off staying at home. No matter what we have in the outer life — whether material wealth, mental brilliance or physical power — all these treasures are nothing, absolutely nothing, in comparison to the inner spiritual wealth.

If we receive even an iota of inner peace or bliss, we will feel that life on earth is fulfilling. Whatever else we have or we are is absolutely worthless in God’s Eye. Only if mental brilliance, material wealth and physical power are placed in the service of the Divine do they become meaningful. The divine light gives them a new life. Without spiritual wealth, outer wealth is totally useless.

So let us be very humble in our spiritual life and give utmost importance to the spiritual treasures: purity, love, devotion and surrender. Only when we have these can our outer wealth and power be utilised in a divine way.

Question: How can we be free of the ego?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us first of all consider the word ‘ego’. In Sanskrit, the word is aham, which means the sense of ‘I-ness’. The sense of I-ness means limitation. It is the limitation of our consciousness. Ego is something that binds us, that does not allow us to be free from the fetters of ignorance. I am sure most of you have heard the Sanskrit word maya. Maya is used to mean ‘illusion’, but actually maya means ‘something that measures’. Wherever there is measurement, which is limitation, there is illusion, there is the presence of ego. ‘My family’, ‘my country’ and so forth all express the feeling of possession, which is limitation.

How can we get rid of this ego? There are two paths which we can follow in our lives. One is the path of desire, and the other is the path of aspiration. If we follow the path of desire, we can never free ourselves from the snares of ego. But if we walk along the path of aspiration, then sooner or later we will definitely free ourselves from the limitations of ego.

What are we aspiring for? We are aspiring for Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. When our earth-bound consciousness enters into the infinite, eternal and immortal Consciousness, naturally our ego has to leave us for good. If we practise meditation and self-discipline, and if we live the inner life, slowly, steadily and unerringly we can transform our ego. There is no other way to get rid of ego than to launch into the sea of spirituality.

Dive deep, deeper, deepest into the sea of spirituality. There, there alone, will you be able to discover your true self. When you discover yourself, you will see that self-discovery and God-discovery, self-realisation and God-realisation, are one and the same. In your self-discovery and God-realisation, ego, with all its limitations, cannot breathe. Ego will have to go somewhere else, and you will be free from it for Eternity.

Question: Can the human ego experience true inner joy?

Sri Chinmoy: The human ego can never, under any circumstances experience true inner joy. The human ego may experience pleasure in accomplishing many things, in accumulating wealth and in achieving power over others. But true inner joy is self-created. It does not depend on outer circumstances or outer achievements.

Question: When I try to get rid of the ego I seem to be more bound by it.

Sri Chinmoy: I am sure that you always think of your ego. When you concentrate on the limited consciousness, you will be more bound in your outer life. If you really want to get rid of your ego, then think of your soul always. Take the positive side. Try to have an inseparable oneness with the Vast. With your eyes wide open try to feel your own identity with the vast sky, the infinite sky. It is on the strength of your identification that you will be bound or freed. Vastness will free you, whereas the puny ego will bind you ruthlessly.

Question: Why does the 'I' seek so assiduously if it is the 'I'?

Sri Chinmoy: One ‘I’ is the small ‘I’. This ‘I’ is the ego. The other one is the large ‘I’, the immortal Self, the Brahman, the Absolute.

The ego, which is the little ‘I’ is constantly seeking for something other than itself because it is limited. The very nature of the ego is to be dissatisfied and displeased. It is never satisfied with what it has and what it is because the truth is always somewhere else. The truth is far away from the ego, but the ego thinks it is just around the corner, near at hand, within its easy reach. Wherever the ego is, it seems to be standing on one shore of a river and seeing that truth is on the other shore. Then, when it goes to that shore; it discovers that truth is somewhere else after all. But the small ‘I’ is always enamoured of its own conception of truth. On the one hand it is walking in the field of discouraging experiences, and on the other hand it feels that it is about to enter into the field of encouraging and satisfying experiences.

The large ‘I’ is beyond our definition. It is beyond all action and beyond all experience. In our limited consciousness we cannot bind the truth. The truth is this, and the next moment it is something totally different. If something is moving, then we say that the truth is that it is moving. But our Upanishads say, and our realisation describes the truth in this way: “That moves, and that moves not; that is far and the same is near.” The truth is here, there, everywhere and at the same time it is beyond time and place. We cannot define the immortal Self with our mind’s thoughts. It is beyond, far beyond definition. With the mind we cannot think of the Absolute. We can only realise it on the strength of our aspiration. This ‘I’, the Self, is not seeking for anything. It embodies everything within itself. It is all the time transcending and transcending; transcending its own highest Height.

The little ‘I’ is always dissatisfied. It cries here and there for its satisfaction because it has not seen the truth. At the same time, it does not want to see the truth the way the truth has to be seen — that is, through the conscious awareness of the soul. It does not want even a little light. It wants to starve the possibility and the manifestation of the soul. The large ‘I’ is always satisfied. It is growing, expanding and fulfilling. It has no necessity to search anywhere for fulfilment, for it embodies the highest fulfilment.

Question: Will the ego gradually be exhausted if we cater to its demands?

Sri Chinmoy: If someone feels that by fulfilling the ego’s demands the ego will be exhausted, as we exhaust our money by spending it, then he is mistaken. If we have money, we use it and then it is gone. In the case of the ego, it is not like that. It goes on and on. Ignorance is the mother of ego. As there is no end to our ignorance until we aspire, so also there is no limit to our ego. On the contrary, if we feed it by fulfilling its demands, it will only grow stronger and stronger. If one really wants to have a life of inner joy and fulfilment, then ego, the thief, has to be caught, and the sooner the better. This thief constantly steals our inner divine qualities: our joy, our peace, our feeling of oneness with the rest of the world.

Question: Will the company of a person with a very strong ego strengthen our own ego?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, it will. When you are with somebody who has a strong ego you will consciously or unconsciously be influenced by it. How? By its unlit, obscure, arrogant, aggressive power. His ego will try to make you his slave all the time. But while he tries to make you the slave of his ego, from deep within you your own ego will come forward to resist him. While he is exercising his ego, he is sowing the seed of ego in you, and that seed germinates and grows. Gradually it becomes a tiny plant. The person with the strong ego is already a huge banyan tree in the realm of ego, and you are an ordinary small plant. But you will be able to grow from there. After a few months or a few years you will try to exercise your own ego by making somebody else your slave. He is fulfilling his ego by exercising it on you, and you will try to fulfil your ego by exercising it on somebody else, because this is what you have learnt from him. But by exercising one’s ego one can never be happy and satisfied. Outwardly he can make you feel or make himself feel that he is happy, but inwardly he never feels happy. By exercising one’s ego nobody can be happy in the inner life. You will discover the same if you allow your ego to come to the fore.

When you accept the spiritual life, your own inner light should separate you from that person’s longing for false wisdom. You know that what that person is doing is wrong, but at the same time, if you mix with him too much, you will also want to do the same. If you are given the opportunity, you will also try to impose your supremacy on others. If you follow the spiritual path, once you know that what he is doing is wrong, you must say, “I know he is doing something wrong. I will not do the same wrong thing. I know I won’t be satisfied by doing what he is doing, so let me take a different path.” The different path is the path of oneness.

Where does this oneness come from? From aspiration. Aspiration means the inner cry that goes up high, higher, highest. When we don’t consciously aspire to go high, higher, highest, what happens? Automatically the law of gravity pulls us down. We see that those who are not aspiring are constantly staying at one level. Every day they are caught by endless desires. They are at the mercy of desire. But if you aspire, it is just the opposite. Today you have a little feeling of aspiration, a little feeling of a good quality inside you. Tomorrow when you meditate this good quality will increase. The day after tomorrow it will become very vast. The following day it will become infinite. When you start with one desire, the next day you have a stronger desire and the following day the strongest desire. Each day desire is binding you, grabbing you, strangling you. But when you start with aspiration, each day aspiration frees you, liberates you, immortalises you.

Ego can be conquered only through conscious aspiration. And this aspiration comes only when you have a path, a Master and spiritual company. You need spiritual people around you to inspire you continuously. Unspiritual people will ruin your aspiration if you stay with them too much. You have to follow a path so that you will travel steadily in the direction of the goal. A path without a goal is impossible. A path will always take you to some destination, although that destination need not be your goal. You can take any road, but if you want to go to a particular place, you have to take the proper road. If you don’t take the proper road, you will not reach your goal. Any road you choose will take you somewhere. There is always an end to the road, but that end need not be your destination. That is why a specific path is necessary: the path that will lead you to your goal, which is God-realisation.

If you aim for the Highest, you must pay attention to transcending the ego. Otherwise, if one person exercises his ego on you, you will exercise your ego on someone else and he will do the same on somebody else. This is a contagious disease. One has to be cured. Two sick persons remaining together cannot cure each other. No matter how many sick persons stay together they are not going to strengthen themselves. On the contrary, each may catch the other’s disease since they are already weak, and then there is every possibility that both of them will die. One strong person has to be there to cure the weak ones. In the spiritual life, if you mix with weak people you are weakening yourself. Only if you mix with spiritual people are you strengthening yourself. Then your own power of inner light will be able to stand against someone with a strong ego. Once you can conquer his ego’s strength with your inner light, then his strength will be divinised strength, and he will fight on your side against ignorance.

Question: How is the creation separated from the Creator?

Sri Chinmoy: The creation is separated from the Creator by the ego of the creation. But through our inner cry we can learn to feel our oneness with God. We can enter into the universal Consciousness where we will see that the creation and the Creator are one.

Our ego has created a separation, but God is our highest Self. We are now abnormal, but when we are normal, we will know that we are one with God. He is our highest illumined Self. We are not aware of this because our body-consciousness has limited us, so we think that we are separate from Him.

The ego does not live in the soul. The vital does not live in the soul. The mind does not live in the soul. But only the soul is aware of the Source right now. When we enter into the soul, we enter into the universal Consciousness where everything is one. When we live in the soul we will no longer be separated from our Creator.

Question: What happens to the human ego when it is transcended?

Sri Chinmoy: When the human ego is fully transcended, it dies away forever. The soul, which is full of light, then opens up to its true divine self, which is the cosmic Self.

Question: Once the human ego is transcended, is it possible to slip back again into egocentricity?

Sri Chinmoy: No. Once the human ego is transcended, one will never fall back into it. It is only when the partial overcoming of the human ego takes place that one may slip back into egocentricity. Once a student passes his examination he will never fail that examination. He will not have to sit for it again.

Question: Could you comment on the transcendence from the personal consciousness to the universal Consciousness, and the death of the human personality?

Sri Chinmoy: Let us start with the death of the human personality. There is no such thing as death. In the spiritual life death means limitation, nothing else. We have not embodied the message of Immortality in our life. That is why we still go through birth and death. When a tiny drop enters into the ocean, we feel that it is the death of the tiny drop. The ocean is so vast that when a tiny drop falls in, it is lost. This is what we think of with our human mind when we think of the limited personal consciousness merging with the universal or infinite Consciousness. But if we identify ourselves with the drop and, at the same time, with the vast ocean, we see that the personality of the drop is not lost but is enlarged into the vast Infinity of the ocean. At that time this tiny drop not only claims the ocean as its very own, but knows and feels that it has become the vastness of the ocean itself. This is the so-called death of the human personality. With our ordinary human eyes we may see it as death; but with our heart’s eye, with our soul’s eye, with our capacity of inner oneness, we see the transformation of the tiny drop into the infinite ocean.

The human consciousness is also a part of the universal Consciousness. This little finger is a part of my body, but its capacity is extremely limited. I think of my body as a whole more than I think of the little finger. I am walking, I am talking, I am singing, I am doing everything with the body. At that time I don’t think of my little finger. Perhaps once a month or once in six months I think of my little finger in particular. But every day I think of my body, right from the morning. When I think of the body, automatically the little finger is nourished with the necessary amount of concern just because it is one with the body as a whole. It does not separate its existence and its consciousness from the rest of the body. When the body is nourished, the little finger maintains its strength or gains strength. It cannot be isolated; it cannot be cut off. If the finger is cut off, the whole body will suffer from the pain. The body will be imperfect. The body takes care of the little finger automatically, because of their inseparable oneness. In the spiritual life we should keep the universal Consciousness before our eyes no matter what we are doing; whether we are eating or singing or working in the office. If we think of God, that means that we are knocking at the door of the universal Consciousness. If we think of the universal Consciousness as the whole body and the human consciousness as a tiny finger, then we see that this human consciousness is taken care of automatically. The more we become one with the universal Consciousness, the sooner the human consciousness is fed and is ready for its transcendence and transformation.

Question: There are times when my ego makes me feel that I am uniquely good, and times when it makes me feel that I am uniquely bad.

Sri Chinmoy: Swami Vivekananda used to say, “If you can’t get the holy Ganges water, if you can’t get pure, distilled water, will you drink filthy water from the ditch or from the canal?”

If I cannot drink nectar, that doesn’t mean that I will drink poison. Nectar will immortalise me, but poison will kill me; therefore, since I can’t drink the best possible thing, I will try, at least, to drink something better than the worst. It may take years for me to get a drop of nectar but I will wait for nectar because I know that nectar will immortalise me. Meanwhile, if I have to drink something, I will not drink poison. So when you do not feel that you are uniquely good, do not allow your ego to take you to the opposite extreme. You can easily remain in the middle ground.

Question: What is the best way to conquer the ego?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know what kind of ego you are suffering from. If you have a competitive ego, you will want to do better than everyone in everything. If someone is a better runner than you are, you will want to beat him in running. If someone is older than you and is studying in a higher class, you will say, “Although I am younger than he is, I wish to surpass him.”

Never give any importance to the ego that wants to compete with others. You have to feel your oneness with everybody. When you do, immediately you will expand your consciousness. If someone does something well, immediately you have to feel that it is you who have done it. He should also do the same thing when you do something significant. Whenever any individual does something very well, others have to feel that it is their conscious inspiration and aspiration that have enabled that individual to achieve this success. If we always have an attitude of team-work, then we will be able to conquer the ego.

Another form of ego is a kind of divine pride. We think, “I am God’s son. How can I be so bad? How can I tell a lie? How can I be insincere with my inner self and with others? If I have to meditate at six-thirty, then how can I actually get up at seven or eight o’clock? I have made a promise to my soul, to my Guru, to God, that at six-thirty I will get up and meditate. If I don’t do it, then I will feel miserable that I am disappointing my divine Father, who is all Love and Concern for me, and who expects and needs my help for His divine manifestation on earth. I am God’s instrument. I am God’s representative on earth. How can I do this kind of thing? I am not keeping to my own promise. How can I stoop to this level of ignorance?” This is also a type of ego, but this ego is not the challenging and destructive ego that makes us want to defeat everyone by hook or by crook and lord it over the whole world with our invincible superiority. This divine ego comes from our divinised consciousness, from our divine birthright.

You came from God unconsciously and you are here to realise God consciously. You are also here to reveal God and manifest God consciously. If you have the feeling that in you is the Divine, that you are of the Divine, and that you are for the manifestation of the Divine, then that feeling comes from your inner oneness with God. In an ordinary way you may feel that this is a kind of ego. But it is not ego at all. The knowledge of your inner divinity which makes you feel that it is impossible for you to enter into ignorance is the kind of feeling you should always cherish.

If you cannot have that type of feeling because you know you have done many things wrong and you are continuing to do many things wrong, if you do not have the inner conviction that you are of the Divine and for the Divine all the time, then you have to accept the spiritual life. Spiritual life means the conscious acceptance of the path of light and total dedication to the path and to the Master. When you dedicate yourself consciously, constantly and soulfully, you become one with your Master, with your Guru. If you take a tiny grain of sand, you will see that it is not pure. But if you just throw that grain of sand into the ocean, it will be all washed away. The grain of sand will lose its unlit quality, its impure quality, and become totally lost in the vast ocean. What has happened? Transformation has taken place. The impure grain of sand has become absorbed by the infinite purity of the entire ocean and has become one with purity itself.

When you offer your dedicated service to your Master’s manifestation, it is an expression of your conscious oneness with him. Then your individuality enters into the cosmic Consciousness which is embodied in his consciousness. You still have ego when you act independently, as a limited existence. But when, with that limited existence, you consciously enter into the vast consciousness of your Master, you automatically become vast. The tiny drop or the grain of sand, when they enter into the ocean, lose their individual identity. They lose their very existence. Then what happens? They lose their tiny existence, but they become the vast ocean itself. This happens only through self-offering. When self-offering comes first and foremost, in spite of all imperfection, impurity, obscurity, then the limited and undivine ego vanishes, while its divine potentiality immediately expands. The undivine in the drop is gone or transformed. The divine in the drop is expanded and enlarged.

When the Christ said, “I and my Father are one,” he was absolutely right. Now why can’t you say this? Just because it is not yet true in your case. Christ was great. No one can deny his greatness. He was God’s son. He felt it, he realised it and then he said it. In your spiritual life also, you have to feel that you are God’s chosen instrument. If you feel in a divine way that you are God’s chosen instrument, then there can be no undivine ego in your life. But you have to feel this inwardly. Then in your actions you have to manifest it.

So whenever somebody else does something good, please feel that it is you who have done it. This is not wrong at all. You are not fooling yourself. Do not think, “Oh, I have not done it. My name is not so and so.” Your name is in the universal Consciousness. There is only one Being and that is the infinite and all-pervading ‘I’. So when any inhabitant of the universe achieves something, you can easily and most legitimately claim that you have achieved it, if you just identify yourself with the universal Consciousness.

My disciples accomplish many things on the physical plane which outwardly I have never done. But I immediately feel that it is I who have done these things, on the strength of my sincere and total identification with my disciples. When they do physical work or mental work, they accomplish so many things. At that time I give them credit. I appreciate them, I thank them and I offer my heart’s sincere gratitude to them. But in my inner being I immediately feel that it is I who have done it with an extended part of my consciousness. These are my spiritual children. Naturally, whatever my children have done is also my achievement. Then again, on the spiritual level, when I bring down Peace, Light and Bliss from above, my children have every right to feel that it is with their conscious effort and their conscious aspiration that I was able to bring these things down. It is not that they have nothing to do with it. They are not just passive recipients. If they feel that together we have brought down this Peace, Light and Bliss, if they feel that when I do something they have done it, then I will give them all the credit because of their supreme discovery of truth.

When you do something on the physical plane I appreciate and admire it. But I feel that it is the expansion of my consciousness and the enlarged part of my being that has done it. You can also have the same feeling about my inner achievements. Ego comes from separativity; therefore, how can there be any ego when we feel our true inner oneness? Where is the consciousness of ‘I’ if, when I do something, you can claim it? Where is the consciousness of ‘you’ if, when you do something, I can claim it? Where is the ego? It is gone; vanished within our mutual, divine and universal feeling of oneness.

Our ego is conquered in these two ways. When we identify ourselves with other human beings, at that time we feel our oneness with them and the competitive spirit disappears from our life. Then there can be no ego. If we can feel that we have come from God, we are in God, we are for God and we are of God, that is another way to conquer human ego and transform it into divine pride. How can we be undivine, how can we be limited? We cannot do anything wrong when we are conscious all the time of our Source. Let us try these two methods.

Part III — Essays on doubt

Doubt: the slow poison

All spiritual seekers, even those who have made considerable progress, occasionally become victims to doubt. This doubt is slow poison. It creates nothing but confusion for the spiritual seeker. Today you may doubt yourself, or you may doubt someone else. Tomorrow another wave of doubt will come into you and you will think that today’s assessment was all wrong. The day after tomorrow still more doubt will come, bringing with it even more confusion. Doubt is nothing but a great enemy in the spiritual life.

Has doubt ever helped us in any way? No. Doubt has only made a fool of us inwardly and outwardly. Suppose someone has done something. If I doubt his achievement, I gain nothing and he loses nothing. But although I gain nothing by doubt, I may lose everything. If you have achieved something and I doubt your achievement, then I will not be able to benefit from it at all. My doubt will poison my receptivity. My only satisfaction will be in knowing that I was right, which is a negative way of dealing with the truth. Instead I should try to enter into myself and collect my own inner wealth. By trying to see how much sincerity you have, I will never get abiding satisfaction. I will only waste my time. But if I go deep within, I will go right to the source of my own inner wealth and get real satisfaction.

In this life, everything depends on love. Unfortunately, some people love doubt. Outwardly they say they hate it, but inwardly, unconsciously or consciously, they cherish it. They feel that if they do not doubt, they are not wise. In order to doubt we have to become a judge. When the mind doubts someone, it feels great satisfaction in becoming the judge. The moment we doubt someone, we feel that we are a step higher than they are. This is absolutely wrong. In the spiritual life nobody is superior and nobody is inferior. We are all instruments manifesting different aspects of God’s multiplicity. In the Heart of the Supreme we are all one.

Very often a disciple will doubt his spiritual Master. He will doubt whether the Master has actually realised God. When he doubts the Master, who is the loser, the Master or the disciple? The spiritual Master, if he is a real one, has his own realisation. If he has realisation, then he is infinitely far above anyone’s suspicion and doubt. No matter what kind of blighted doubt a disciple cherishes in the inmost recesses of his heart, the spiritual Master will never be affected. The disciple alone will be the loser.

Why do we doubt? Doubt enters into us because we are not certain of our achievements, of our accomplishments, or of what we will do in the near and distant future. If we doubt others, then we are not doing something really harmful. But if we doubt ourselves, then we are doing something most damaging. The moment we doubt ourselves we weaken our possibility and ruin our potentiality. The tree which we can become will die while it is still a plant from lack of nourishment. We have just entered into the inner life, into the world of aspiration. We are now only a tiny plant. Each moment that we doubt we have to feel that we are stepping on this tiny plant with all our weight. When we doubt our inner capacity, we are doubting our very existence, the very life-breath of the seed within us. The Divine says, “I have come to fulfil you, to bring you closer to God, and you are doubting. Since you are so ungrateful when I offer this gift to your soul, your seed will not be able to germinate.”

When we doubt we have to feel that we are harbouring a serious type of disease, a fatal disease. If we don’t conquer doubt, what will happen? We have to feel that we will die. Our aspiration will not only starve, but it will die. There is death in front of us and there is Immortality in front of us. It is we who have to make the choice. If we feel that we want Immortality and not death, then we must give all importance to our spiritual life and conquer doubt with our inner cry and our inner indomitable will.

If we feel that we have a serious disease, what will we do? We will go to a doctor so that we can get an immediate cure. What is the cure for doubt? It is inner cry, aspiration. Only the divine doctor within us, aspiration, can cure us of doubt. We know that there are many things we have done which are absolutely wrong. We try to do the right thing, but we cannot always do it. Why is it not possible for us to do the right thing? It is because we are wanting in determination. We can get this determination only from our inner aspiration. Real determination, the inner, soul’s determination and aspiration are the same thing. If we have determination, automatically aspiration comes forward. And if we have aspiration, determination will be born inside that aspiration.

Doubt will leave us only when we feel that we are destined to do something for God. We get tremendous power from the word ‘destined’. This word brings boundless courage to the fore. Even if somebody is weak by nature, if someone says that he is destined to work for God, then immediately, from the inner world, heroism comes forward. He will fight against doubt and against any obstruction with a strength and inner determination that will surprise him. Obstructions may come to him in the form of impurity, obscurity, jealousy, fear and doubt, but the word ‘destined’ will smash the pride of all the negative forces. Anything that is undivine will have to surrender to this word. So if we have the kind of inner and outer conviction that tells us we are destined to serve God, then the goal can unmistakably be reached.

But when we feel that we are going to do something for God, let us not use the term ‘great’. Sometimes when our human mind hears this term, a feeling of competition enters into us. I feel that I am great; you feel that you are great. Then the question arises of who is the greater of the two. Instead, we should simply say that we are both destined to do something for God, and our task will be whatever He assigns to us. There is only one God, but each person thinks of God differently. You are pleasing and fulfilling God in your way and I am pleasing and fulfilling God in my way. If we both feel that we are doing the task that is allotted to us by Him, if we do not enter into each other’s territory with our competitive spirit, then we will both feel joy because we will both feel that we are fulfilling God in God’s own Way.

Doubt, faith and aspiration

A doubter is a loser. In the spiritual life if we feel that by doubting ourselves we are going to reach our goal faster, then we are totally mistaken. Doubt is nothing but a destructive force. We have to be aware of the undivine power that doubt has. If we know that doubt will destroy us, then naturally we will be most careful. If we know the serious punishment that we will get from doubt, then we will not cherish doubt or allow doubt to enter into us. By doubting, a seeker only wastes his time. Instead of doubting, the wise seeker uses his time for self-search and self-cultivation. In self-search he realises the Highest, the Goal of boundless Peace, Light and Bliss. If we doubt our own capacity, we are making a mistake. If we know how much capacity we have, we encourage that capacity to grow and expand. If we doubt our capacity, then we are doomed.

There is a weapon to conquer doubt, and that is faith. Our faith is infinitely more powerful than doubt, and God has given us this faith in abundant measure. Faith is within us but we do not allow our faith to come to the fore. Instead, we allow strangers who are not actually ours to come into our lives. These strangers are fear, doubt, anxiety and other undivine forces. We know that fear does not belong to us — that doubt is a thief. We know we should not allow intruders or thieves to enter us. But the one that is our very own, the faith-child, we do not allow to come to the fore and transform our life.

In the spiritual life there is only one rule, and that is to have faith. Faith is like a muscle: it can be developed. As we develop our muscles if we exercise regularly, we can also exercise and increase our inner capacity. God does not bring anybody into the world without giving him capacity. Through regular practice we can become inwardly strong. If we concentrate and meditate soulfully and sincerely each morning, then doubt cannot play its destructive role in us. As we become stronger in our inner life we will be able to say, “Let doubt attack me. I shall be able to maintain my perfect faith.”

Negative forces, like everything else have pride. Very soon doubt will feel that it is beneath its dignity to be constantly rejected and denied. Doubt will soon leave us if we do not welcome it. If we ignore doubt, if we treat it as a stranger or a foreigner, its pride will be hurt and it will leave us for good. By meditating regularly and devotedly we can protect ourselves from the entrance of doubt.

Faith is our most powerful weapon. If we want and need faith we have to cultivate the inner soil. How do we cultivate the inner soil? What is the plough? It is aspiration. When we cultivate we need the seed, we need water and we need the sun. Aspiration embodies the seed; the water and the sun in the spiritual life. In aspiration there is everything. So if we have sincere aspiration, sincere inner cry, then doubt cannot last in us.

When we doubt ourselves we become the real losers

Let us look at doubt from God’s point of view. God is all Love, Joy, Peace and Bliss. He has all the divine qualities in infinite measure. By doubting Him who is the possessor of all divine qualities, are we gaining anything? You will ask, “Unless and until I have seen God and felt God, why should I not doubt Him?” True, you have not seen God and you have not felt Him. But there are people on earth who have seen and felt God standing right in front of them.

If a child who is in kindergarten doubts the knowledge of someone who is completing his Master’s degree, who will be the loser? The one who is getting his Master’s degree will still get his degree, but the one who is doubting will not be able to learn anything from him. In a few years the little one who is doubting will also have the capacity to attend a university and get his degree, but right now, by doubting his older brother he will not gain anything. If he were wise he would try to identify with his brother’s achievement and become totally one with him.

Similarly, doubt often comes to the beginning seeker in the spiritual life. But instead of doubting, if the beginner identifies with someone who is advanced in the spiritual life, if he establishes his oneness with the aspiration of someone who is much more developed, then immediately he gets tremendous confidence and inspiration in his inner life.

When we doubt God we do not gain anything. When we doubt a spiritual Master we do not gain anything. But when we doubt ourselves we lose everything. If we have to doubt, let us doubt God. We can doubt God every second, and He will not lose anything. On the contrary, God, with his infinite Compassion, will forgive us. But when we doubt ourselves, our soul will not forgive us. The moment we start doubting ourselves, all our good qualities will be lost. If we have love or joy it will all be lost. Our self-doubt will destroy our inner possibilities. It is best not to doubt anybody, whether it is God or ourselves. But if we have to make a choice, if we are helpless, then let us doubt God. He will show us Compassion, but we will never be able to forgive ourselves.

Seekers who have spiritual Masters must not doubt themselves. When a seeker who has accepted the spiritual path doubts himself, he is deliberately insulting the capacity of his Master. He accepted the Master because he felt that the Master had capacity. If he starts doubting himself after having accepted a real spiritual Master, that means he is doubting the acceptance, confidence and promise the Master has given him. When a spiritual Master accepts someone as his own disciple, he gives that person the inner promise that one day, at God’s choice Hour, he will take the disciple to God. If the seeker did not have faith in the Master, he should not have accepted the Master as his own. But because he felt and saw something in the Master, because he had confidence that the Master could take him to his goal, he accepted the Master. Once a seeker accepts a Master, his part should be over. He is no longer responsible for reaching the goal. He is responsible only to surrender his life to the Master. If doubt comes, he should surrender it to the Master. If he doubts, he is not only belittling his own inner potentiality, but he is deliberately rejecting his Master’s self-offering. The Master is offering his service totally and unreservedly to help the disciple. If the disciple doubts himself, he will be incapable of receiving the Master’s Love and Concern. In this way he is not only hurting himself but also wasting his Master’s precious Concern and boundless spiritual energy.

Part IV — Questions and answers on doubt

Question: Do high souls who were liberated in a previous incarnation also have to struggle with doubt?

Sri Chinmoy: Doubt is an almost incurable disease. Unless and until one has realised the highest Truth, there is every possibility that doubt may enter. Many spiritual seekers, even while they are making very fast spiritual progress or after having covered a long way in the spiritual life, fall victim to doubt. But once realisation has taken place, doubt is banished from our life for good.

Question: Why does a spiritual Master stay with his disciples when they are such victims to doubt?

Sri Chinmoy: When someone stands on the shore and sees that somebody else is drowning in the sea, he has to jump into the sea and save the drowning person. If he stays on the shore, then he cannot save the life of the one who is drowning. When a Master sees that people are dying in the sea of ignorance, he has to come and save them.

But very often when the spiritual Master enters into the very breath of ignorance, ignorance makes the unrealised being feel that the Master, even a spiritual giant, is also of ignorance. If the person were sincerely aspiring, then he would know that although a Master has descended into the world of ignorance he can always remain in his highest consciousness. He has descended into ignorance but at the same time he is in constant communication with the Highest, the Supreme. Instead, the seeker doubts the Master and feels that he is also vulnerable. He feels that the Master is also of his own standard; that the Master is no better than he.

The Master enters into ignorance and plays the game of ignorance with his disciples. Then after a while, when the time has come to take them beyond the sea of ignorance, at God’s choice Hour, he takes them to the Golden Shore of the transcendental Beyond.

Naturally the disciples want the Master to take them. But even before the Master can start playing his role fully, they start doubting him. They see that he is also a human being. He is a victim to sickness, cold, hunger and other earthly things. They feel that he is not always in his highest mood; therefore, he is not always divine.

The problem of doubt comes because the disciples try to judge the Master from their own level. Their judgement is inevitably wrong. Reality has to be seen on its own level. When the disciple is able to enter into his Master’s consciousness, then he becomes a competent judge of his Master’s spiritual height and capacity. But if the disciple looks from even one inch below that reality, then he cannot become the adequate judge of that reality.

If the disciples could see the Master on his own level, if their achievements matched his standard, then there could be no doubt. But if the Master always remained at the top of the tree, then the disciples would have to remain always at the foot of the tree because they do not know how to climb. The Master is more than willing to come down to the foot of the tree. He puts the disciples on his shoulders and then carries them up to the topmost boughs. But when he comes down to the foot of the tree, the disciples misunderstand him. They say, “Oh, he has fallen! He himself will not be able to climb up the tree again. How is he going to lift me up?”

When the Master sees that the disciples are doubting him, naturally he can simply go back to his own highest consciousness. There he can remain in the perfect Peace of transcendental Liberation, where there is no ignorance, no duality, no imperfection, but only infinite Bliss, infinite Light, and infinite Freedom. This he will do if his disciples continue to doubt him constantly and incessantly. At the same time, he knows that there is not a single disciple who has never had the misfortune to doubt his Master, so he uses his divine quality of forgiveness again and again.

Disciples who leave the Master because of doubt and then come back to him think that it is they who come back to the Master and it is they who forgive the Master. But it is actually the Master who forgives the disciples and allows them to return to his boat, for he knows that if he does not forgive them, the disciples will have nowhere else to go. They will be like lost souls. But it is much easier for the disciples to doubt the Master, leave him and then come back again into the spiritual life than it is for the Master to forgive them and accept them again. The poor Master first has to suffer their doubt in him and then he has to forgive the disciples and take them back with all their undivine forces newly acquired from the outer world. In both ways he is caught. Yet the Master takes his imprisonment as the greatest joy, since he is serving his supreme Father in this way. He will let the disciples kick him and doubt him as long as he receives the Command from the Supreme to be of service to them and to humanity at large.

Question: Guru, can you define God-realisation as a state where one has absolutely no doubt, where one has absolute control over the doubting mind?

Sri Chinmoy: God-realisation is far more difficult than controlling doubt. The mind can be silenced by a sincere aspirant so that there is no doubt. In the calm, quiet mind, the vacant mind, there is no doubt at all. But one has to go much farther, deeper and higher in order to realise God.

It often happens that when one is on the verge of realisation, doubt comes, even though perhaps twenty years previously the seeker had conquered doubt. Perhaps for twenty years one has had no doubts at all. These years have been so happy for him. But just when he is about to realise God very often the darkest hostile forces will attack him at that time in the form of doubt or temptation. In Christ’s case, Satan came. In Buddha’s case, Mara came.

Doubt has come to many spiritual Masters who were on the verge of realisation or liberation. This is the last test. When illumination is about to take place, they see there is a vast gap between their present aspiration — even though it is of the highest order — and the attainment of illumination. At this last moment some may doubt their own aspiration and fall. So even great seekers who would soon have become Masters, not to speak of ordinary seekers, have suffered from tremendous doubt. At this last stroke, many fall before they realise God. Then it may take them twenty years, forty years or even another incarnation to regain their height. The student has studied his lessons well for ten years but something goes wrong at the last moment and he fails his test. God will give him another chance after some time, in the next year, or after ten years or in the next incarnation.

When I was a young boy I had a mentor whose Guru had been on the verge of realisation. But the day before this Guru would have realised God, he was attacked by doubt and he fell. Then what did he do? He became disgusted with the spiritual life altogether. He felt that spirituality had disappointed him. So the following morning after having been on the verge of realisation, he went back to his wife and started learning science. He became a professor of science at a university, and in that position his life ended.

This man could easily have realised God. Before that time he had worked so hard for many incarnations. He had practised meditation in the Himalayas and led such an austere life. He was on the verge of realisation, and there are people who would have believed that he had realised God from seeing his face, although he was sincere enough to say he had not. But when doubt comes, its last attack is like a volcano. Naturally the seeker will fall if he is not prepared. All his work will be swept away. This man’s own Master had also had the same attack, but his Master had passed. He said the doubt he had faced was like a tidal wave. The current was so powerful that only God’s Grace had saved him.

But it is not absolutely necessary for a seeker to go through this. In some cases the last temptation does not come. In my case, I was lucky and nothing came to disturb me. But if somebody does go to the goal safely, you cannot say because there were no thorns on his path that the goal is not real. Some Masters go through constant doubt, but it is only when their doubts leave them that they realise God. Their path is full of thorns, unfortunately. Again, there are some fortunate aspirants who do not doubt either themselves or their Master right from the beginning. It is not because they are fools with no brain or sense of judgement that they do not doubt. On the contrary, they are clever. They feel that by doubting whether someone is good or bad or has a certain quality or capacity they are gaining nothing. They feel that the time they would spend in doubting others can be better used in cultivating their own inner soil, their own inner aspiration. If they sincerely aspire and they do not doubt, then their progress will undoubtedly be fast.

Question: Does absence of doubt result in implicit faith?

Sri Chinmoy: Just because you do not doubt someone, it doesn’t mean that you automatically have faith in that person. There are many people who do not doubt the capacity of a spiritual teacher or Master, but at the same time they do not have faith in him. Instead, they simply have nothing to do with him. They know that he is a spiritual Master, and they don’t doubt his spiritual height. They won’t have any doubt that he is a sincere person. But just because they feel he is a sincere person does not mean they will automatically have great faith in him. They will never touch his feet or become his disciples. They simply do not care about him.

Question: When I come to the Centre I am attacked by doubts which I never have when I am at home. Why is this?

Sri Chinmoy: When you enter the spiritual life, sometimes you see and feel many undivine qualities suddenly come to the fore. Some disciples ask their Masters, “How is it that I didn’t have jealousy before? I didn’t have this sense of insecurity, frustration and other things. Why am I getting them now?”

Before we entered the spiritual life we were all unconscious; the tiger in us was sleeping. But when the tiger sees that we are trying to leave its domain it says, “Where are you going? What right have you to leave me? I will devour you before you leave me.” As long as the doubt-tiger is confident enough that you will stay with it all the time, it does not feel the necessity to threaten or frighten you. But when you start trying to come out of your bondage-cage, the ignorance-tiger tries to prevent you. It attacks you most vehemently with doubts and other undivine forces as soon as it feels that you are threatening to leave it. That is why you are attacked as soon as you come to the Centre to meditate. That is where the divine forces are strongest, so that is where the ignorance-tiger feels threatened by you.

Do not think that weaknesses and imperfections are coming to the fore in you just because you have accepted the spiritual life. On the contrary, they were there before, but they were hidden. You should be grateful to your spiritual life for bringing your imperfections to the fore. The sooner your imperfections come to the fore, the sooner you will be able to face them and conquer them. So when doubt and other imperfections attack you, you should say, “You have come. Now let me conquer you once and for all. Then I will be free.”

Many disciples are perfect when they are at home, but the moment they come to the Centre, they become jealous or they start doubting themselves or their minds are filled with undivine thoughts. As soon as they look at me, inwardly they say, “Oh, I am cherishing such undivine thoughts!” They are afraid that I will see their undivine thoughts so they try to hide them, like a thief. But they should try to act like a child and not like a thief. The child is not ashamed when he is dirty. He just runs to his mother and she cleans him.

You are my spiritual children so you have to consciously throw your jealousy and undivine thoughts into me. Instead, you mistakenly say, “If I can hide my undivine thoughts, he won’t see them. The next time I come perhaps they will be gone.” This is absolutely absurd. Whenever you have wrong thoughts, try to empty them into me. If you think, “Oh, he is seeing how undivine I am,” and you keep your garbage inside, how can I help you? I am ready to take your undivine thoughts. Just throw the ignorance-garbage into me. Unfortunately there are many disciples who come in front of me and struggle or try to hide. Don’t struggle, don’t hide. That is your best opportunity to throw these problems into me.

It is quite possible for a disciple to give up fear, doubt and jealousy all at once. Many people have done it. You simply have to know what you are going to get when you conquer these undivine qualities. Feel that you are going to get infinite Peace, Light and Bliss. Make this feeling a reality. Feel that you are rejecting one thing, and accepting something else. Say to yourself, “If I conquer my doubt, jealousy and insecurity, I will get everything in boundless measure.” Naturally, you will try to get the thing which is most fulfilling, the thing you are crying for in your life of aspiration.

Editor's introduction to the first edition

Ego and doubt: two devouring brothers. Let us not allow our inner life to be killed by these two undivine enemies within us. Let us banish them immediately and forever from our consciousness. How? In this invaluable book Sri Chinmoy tells us how.

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