Transformation of the ego

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Part I — Hostile forces

Question: Why have some of America's greatest and most spiritual leaders been killed by hostile forces?

Sri Chinmoy: It proves that ignorance is still here on earth. The world is far from perfection. The hostile forces are much more vigilant than the divine forces. That is why they are able to attack. Normally the divine forces are supposed to win the victory, but here on earth, we know how many hours we remain in ignorance, how many hours a day we are open to ignorance and hostile forces. Out of twenty-four hours we sleep seven or nine hours. To some extent sleeping is necessary for our health, but at that time we don't aspire at all. So to some extent when we sleep, we make friends with ignorance. Physically it is necessary, but if we have to separate good from bad, then we will see that when we are unable to aspire, it is as bad as being attacked by hostile forces. Therefore, we have to be always alert. During twenty-four hours, if we spend most of the time praying, meditating and doing dedicated, devoted service, then for the remaining few hours of sleep, we will be protected by the divine forces.

Question: How can we get rid of wrong forces, other than by just trying to do the right thing?

Sri Chinmoy: You may have suffered from a wrong force for five minutes, but you have to feel that that force is not yourself; it is an attack by an enemy. Unfortunately, at that time, you think that you have to go to school and when you come back from school the hostile force will be taken care of. You feel that since no one knows that you have been attacked by a hostile, undivine force, then everything is all right. But I advise you that when you are attacked, if at all possible, do not go to school at all. If you do not go to school, your teacher may fail you for one day, let us say. But if you fail for one day in the inner world, ignorance gets more powerful. Then again tomorrow or a few days later, you will be attacked most powerfully. So when the power of ignorance is comparatively weak, at that time use your own power to attack it. Otherwise, if you allow ignorance-power to grow, it becomes very, very powerful. These hostile forces cannot be taken lightly. Before you get an attack, be careful. And if, unfortunately, you get an attack, try to fight it. Become a hero. The spiritual life is the life of a hero.

In the ordinary life, when you go to war, either you die in battle there or you come back. But in the spiritual life, the war is never over; the battle must be fought at every second. Some of you suffer from attacks for two weeks or three weeks or two months or even four months. But you do not realise what you are doing at that time. You may have had a good meditation at the centre or at home, but you are really weakening yourself when you allow those forces to attack. If you do this, a day will come when you will not have any power to fight those forces. They are the real enemies inside us. Either you have to transform them into friends with your spiritual power, or you have to chase them away. You have to know what is God's Will. If it is a negligible force that has just come, then it will be very easy to transform it. If it is just a tiny force that has entered you, use your willpower and transform it into a positive force.

If you have lost faith in me and think that I am bad, immediately try to imagine something I gave you two months or two years ago which gave you joy. I always tell you people that the disciple who was the depression king is not the king of depression any more. There is not a single disciple who can say that I have never smiled at him or said a nice word to him. I tell you that if somebody has been with me for six months and if he is sincere, then I have smiled at him or said something nice to him at least once. When I do or say something nice to you, please write it down. Then when you doubt me or when you are angry with me, immediately remember that particular incident. Even if you feel that you are right and that I have been indifferent to you for some time, then just remember the incident that took place two years ago when I smiled or said something nice to you. With that memory you can forgive me. Your imagination of that incident has tremendous power. It will immediately conquer this negative force and make you again my own. It will help you gain faith in me and love for me.

Many of you suffer and think that I am indifferent to you or that you have done something wrong. Try to remember the day I smiled at you. Sometimes my smile is insincere; I can't smile properly because I am tired and exhausted and some silly people are trying to bother me. If I were to smile and sympathise with them, then I would be insincere. But my heart is always there. The only thing is that sometimes these unfortunate people don't need my smile, but when others are looking at them, they want to show off that they spoke to me. Nobody is going to hear what they tell me, but the very fact that they have spoken to me is enough for them to show others that they are very dear and close to me.

But you know when you have done something right. At that time I give you my soulful smile. That soulful smile is enough. Here you see me three or four times a week. When some other Masters smile at a particular person, it has to last two weeks — three weeks or more. Just a smile or any good word or encouragement is enough. Feel that this is your treasure. If I have encouraged you and appreciated you for something, feel that that is your most precious possession; then use that diamond when you need it. If you do good meditation, you are getting this most precious thing, the satisfaction-diamond, every day. But if you cannot meditate for a month or so because of some difficulty, I tell you your best weapon against depression or frustration is to know how many times I have appreciated you and encouraged you. This appreciation is not false. If you feel that my appreciation is sincere, try to remember it. It has tremendous power to conquer your depression-power or any vital world difficulties. I tell you, it is bound to conquer them.

Question: Do lower forces come to the fore to be purified or is it just because I am unconscious?

Sri Chinmoy: When there is a divine inner urge, an inner pressure, they come to the fore for purification. Sometimes they come only to destroy. We have to be aware when the force has struck us, and when it has come to the fore for purification. We have to know whether it has come to the fore for illumination or for the destruction of the divine within us and around us. Sometimes, out of a malicious feeling, lower forces come and attack us. They don't care for illumination and we do not have the necessary capacity to illumine them. Sometimes we acquire enough capacity to illumine them. Then if they come to the fore, we illumine them instead of destroying them.

The divine forces do not destroy the undivine forces, they only illumine them. When we see a radical change in a hostile force, we feel that we have destroyed it because we do not still see it in its previous form. But actually we have only transformed it. If we don't see the night but only the day, then we are apt to feel that the night has been destroyed because we don't see it any more with our outer vision. But if we know that the night has been transformed into day, then we know it as the illumination of something that once existed in a negative form. It has now been transformed into a positive form.

Question: How can one be constantly surrendered and at the same time deal with hostile forces?

Sri Chinmoy: If you really surrender to the divine in you, then the hostile forces are automatically conquered. It is just because you don't surrender to the divine Will within you that you encounter these hostile forces. Surrender means that you remain in the light. If you are in light, how can there be darkness? You have two rooms, a room of darkness and a room of light. When you are in the room full of illumination, the undivine hostile forces cannot attack you. If you remain in the illumination-room, then you have the quality and capacity of that room. It is the same with the other room, which is full of darkness.

It is not like doing two things simultaneously. If you live in the dark room, you will be conquered by the darkness, and if you live in the light-room, then you are not only conquered by light but you conquer light. When you are in the ignorance-room, ignorance conquers you; you do not conquer ignorance. You become a victim, because you are not going to claim ignorance as your very own. But when you are in the light-room, not only does the light conquer you, but you also conquer the light and you claim light as your own.

So you have to decide whether to stay in the room that has light and surrender to the light, or in the room that has darkness. What you want, you will get. If you stay in the room that has light, the hostile forces cannot enter. But if you want hostile forces, they can claim you to such an extent that you won't have the right to claim them as your own. If you want divine forces, they become yours and you can claim them as your very own.

Question: What are asuras?

Sri Chinmoy: Asuras are like powerful gorillas. Their eyes are very big. They are very strong, stout and fit, like jungle men or monkeys. Asuras can attack you most powerfully. A great spiritual Master was once asked, "You are divine. What can the hostile forces do to you?" The Master mentioned two or three of his closest disciples and said that the hostile forces could take them away. That is true. These forces can take away the Master's absolutely dearest disciple. Inside a tiny little fly, you can see a huge hostile force. A thought is tiny, but it takes months to get rid of the hostile force inside it.

Question: What exactly is a demon?

Sri Chinmoy: A demon is an undivine force within us. It is an undivine entity, or an undivine being in us that tries to devour our divine possibility and potentiality. Each time we consciously or unconsciously surrender to ignorance, we strengthen the power of the demon inside. And each time we surrender to Light, to our Inner Pilot, to the Will of God, then the demon is bound to starve. It gets frightened. When you aspire, the demon starves. But when you remain in the world of desire, then the demon is fed by your own conscious or unconscious choice.

Question: Does the Supreme send hostile forces to us to give us experiences and to test us?

Sri Chinmoy: No, the Supreme will never send hostile forces to give us an experience. He will not instigate something like that. He will never ask the hostile forces to go and attack some person so that after he is attacked the person will understand his Master's compassion.

Question: The other day I saw you and it looked like many forces were attacking you.

Sri Chinmoy: That was on a Thursday. The destructive forces were attacking me even before they had touched the physical. They touched the physical before they actually entered the physical plane. And today, after so many days, the forces finally entered the physical.

I am not trying to frighten you or threaten you, but you have to be aware of these things. These hostile forces can exist on the mental plane, and then all of a sudden, the vital plane and the physical plane become the victims. At that time, total destruction takes place. Right now, the Supreme and I are using tremendous power to fight these forces. Otherwise, God knows how many disciples would find their aspiration falling like anything. You can see that this happens from time to time. I have to explain all this to you, or total destruction could take place. Either you will fall like anything or you will get protection from me to the end of your life. Either destruction or perfection will take place this year (1972).

Question: What do you mean when you say that something touched the physical?

Sri Chinmoy: It means that it has touched the body-consciousness. Let us take doubt and fear, for example. First they enter into the mind, then they come into the vital and then into the gross physical. When they touch someone's gross physical, then tremendous fear controls his actions. The physical is scared because wrong forces have entered. But if the wrong forces exist only in the mind or the vital, then you can still go on. It is when they touch the physical that you become terrified, as if you were guilty of a crime and the police or someone are coming to catch you. At that time, you are terrified right from your mind to your physical.

It is as if a rat or some other destructive animal has eaten holes in a tree trunk right from the top to the bottom. The whole tree may collapse at any moment. But if it has been destroyed only at the top, then that part can be cut off. The tree becomes shorter, but it is not completely destroyed. Similarly, if a force enters into the vital, you can cut it out there. But if it enters the gross physical, the tree is so destroyed that you have to cut and cut until only the root remains.

Question: Does this mean that everybody will have to fight until the end of this year (1972), and then achieve perfection or destruction, or does it mean that people will be getting more and more perfect so that they won't be bothered by destruction?

Sri Chinmoy: On one day the disciples will be fighting hostile forces, and on the next day the forces of perfection will come forward. But gradually, those things meant for destruction will see that they are going to be destroyed. If we know that our enemy is stronger than we are, it is always better to wait to assimilate more power before fighting with him. We have to wait until we have enough strength to conquer him, otherwise, we will be defeated. Again, when the destructive forces come and act like enemies, they must not be allowed to touch our pure part. We have to threaten them, so that they cannot touch our aspiring heart. We have to be vigilant and then, little by little, consciously we can try to transform them. But if we consciously ignore them, we may think that we are safe because at a particular moment they are not bothering us. But when we relax, they can really attack us.

Question: Guru, could you talk about what kinds of forces enter the body, how they enter, where they come from and also how we can get rid of these forces?

Sri Chinmoy: Divine forces always come from above. Again, there is a divine force, the soul, that is already inside us. Either the divine force can come from above, from the Supreme, or it can come from within, from the inmost recesses of our heart, directly from the soul. There are also undivine forces that you have already accumulated inside your body. Again, these undivine forces are also in the atmosphere. Sometimes an undivine force can come from outside and attack you, and sometimes one that you have already housed within yourself may attack you. The undivine forces within you have to be brought to the fore through your aspiration.

It is like this. Because of your constant negligence and your lack of aspiration, some undivine forces have been attacking you, and you have surrendered to them. Now they are housed inside you. So you have to be vigilant at every moment. You must not allow anything undivine to come into your system, and you must fight to the end to throw out of your system anything undivine that is already there. The undivine forces are constantly attacking you, and the divine forces are constantly trying to save and illumine you.

You have to take the side of the divine forces all the time. Your friends are the divine forces, and your enemies are the undivine forces. If an enemy is inside your house, then you have to grab him and throw him out. And if he wants to enter your house, you will not allow him. If a friend is inside the house, you will ask him to stay, and if another friend wants to also come in, then of course you will let him in. You have to be very careful at every moment to make certain that the undivine forces will have no place within, without or around you. But you will keep the divine forces inside you, around you and everywhere because they are your real friends.

Question: How do the hostile forces enter us? How do we open ourselves to them?

Sri Chinmoy: It is like you are a building full of various holes and the dark forces enter into you through these holes. One big hole is called doubt. Then there are other holes called depression, fear, anxiety and worry.

The dark forces attack you most vehemently, especially when you want to make a major decision in your spiritual life. This is because if you are successful in the spiritual life, then you will enter into the sea of eternal Joy. You will be constantly playing with God's Consciousness and dancing in God's Consciousness. You will be totally freed from bondage, ignorance and death.

When you are asleep, when you are weak, nobody bothers you. But the moment you assert yourself, the moment you want to show that you are something and that you want to do something for the world, then all the forces will plague you. If you are very weak, if you can't walk, people will show you sympathy. They will not come to attack and kill you. But if you assert that you are going to do something great and get divine Light, or that you will enter into the spiritual path and do wonderful things for the Supreme, then naturally you are creating a new rhythm, a new harmony and a new divine fulfilment on earth. If you are successful, you will create a new world in yourself and in all of humanity. So, the hostile forces will want to stop you and prevent you from doing the right thing. But if you do not care for the inner life, the spiritual life, and if you are satisfied with ordinary human life, then they will not attack.

We see millions and billions of people on earth who are most ordinary. For them either God does not exist, or God is all in the mind, or He is, God knows, somewhere in Heaven. And where is Heaven? Nobody knows. So it is all vague. But when you become conscious, then you try to act. First you become conscious of something and then you try to act on it. You want to realise and possess the highest; so you make an effort. Either you will be successful or you will fail, but if you make a sincere effort with tremendous, soulful inner aspiration, then you are bound to succeed. Your success means boundless realisation and infinite wealth.

Why should your enemies, darkness and the hostile forces, allow you to become the richest person in the inner world? If you remain a beggar they are satisfied and they won't bother you. But if you really want to be the richest person, an emperor in the inner world, then naturally darkness, your worst enemy, will try to stop you. So you have to fight. If you have spiritual light, darkness becomes more arrogant, conscious and vigilant in its attempt to disturb you and prevent you from realising and achieving the highest and deepest Truth.

Question: How can we keep our door closed to hostile forces?

Sri Chinmoy: By becoming more open to the positive forces. If the goal is in the north, then you should walk towards the north and not go to the south. But if you walk towards the south one day, then you will be lost. Just walk towards the goal and you will reach the goal.

Part II — Fear of the inner life

Question: What is the best way to bring my consciousness to a stage where there is no fear?

Sri Chinmoy: One way to conquer fear is through the expansion of your consciousness. You are not afraid of your hand, your leg or your eye. Your consciousness pervades you from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head. You feel that these parts are yours, and that is why you are not afraid of them. But if you are afraid of someone who is beside you, around or near you, it is because you have not enlarged your consciousness to include them. I am not afraid of any of my limbs because they are mine. I claim them as my very own. But when we go beyond our own boundaries and do not want to enlarge or expand our consciousness, we feel that we are alienated and that everybody is a stranger to us. So when we practise Yoga, we try to enlarge our consciousness until the time comes when our consciousness pervades the length and breadth of the world. With our conscious awareness, we become one, totally one, with the universe. When we become consciously one with the universe, there can be no fear.

Question: One time Houdini posed as a medium and said a boy who was always riding a bicycle would break his leg. The boy did and Houdini stopped posing as a medium.

Sri Chinmoy: Houdini had created fear, and fear caused the accident. Somebody in India once told a mother that her son would be devoured by a tiger. The child said that he did not know what a tiger looked like and asked his mother to show him. The mother drew a picture of a tiger and placed it on the wall. We know this was not a real tiger, so her son would not be killed by it. But the child looked at the tiger and was frightened to death, because he had heard that the tiger could kill. If you create fear, it can do anything.

Question: Can you help me overcome my physical fear?

Sri Chinmoy: You are now entering into the spiritual life. When you enter the spiritual life, the first thing you see is the inner sun. This inner sun is infinitely brighter and more powerful than the physical sun. Your inner being is bringing your physical mind the message that, as you have commenced the spiritual life, you will soon dare to enter into the effulgence of the inner sun. This is a positive message. There is also a negative message, a message that comes from your physical being. Your outer being looks backwards to where it came from and sees the ignorance-night. When you look at the past, you are terribly afraid. God alone knows how long you were in the ignorance-night. Yet when you look at the golden future you are also afraid. You are afraid of going backward and you are afraid of going forward. Your fear is coming from both the light and the night. The past is pulling you backward and the golden future is pulling you forward.

You must know that the light in front of you can never disappoint you. It is the night that disappoints. If you bathe in the sea of light you will not be lost. But if you swim in the sea of night, you will be destroyed, because the very existence of night is destruction. During your meditation and during your waking hours, you must consciously feel that you are marching forward and that the light ahead of you is the inner light. That light you have to bring to the fore. When you see the inner light, you become more aware of the light that is around you, and your feeling of fear is bound to disappear. You have to feel that you came into existence from that inner light and that you are now becoming more conscious of it.

Your physical being is afraid of the dark night of the past. You must always look forward, look ahead. The past is dust. If the past comes and tortures your mind with what you did two weeks ago or two hours ago, and if this past is not inspiring or encouraging, throw it into the dust again. The past is to be buried. Your spiritual existence has to grow from where we now stand. Your existence is in aspiration, and only aspiration can lead you to realisation, which is infinite Light. When you can think of what you were, and what you are growing into, and consciously want to become the infinite Light, there will be no fear. If you cry for light, light will guide you because that is its very nature. The purpose of your life is to become the Light itself. If you wholeheartedly and spontaneously cry for Light, then there can be no fear.

Question: Why do I sometimes want to run away from the spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: Everything depends on love. Some people love insecurity itself. Although they say they hate doubt, some people love doubt because inwardly, perhaps unconsciously, they cherish doubt. They feel that they cannot be wise unless they are doubting. They judge everyone and everything. The moment we doubt someone, we feel that we are a step higher than they are. But in the spiritual life, this is absolutely wrong. The moment we doubt someone, we just fall down the tree of the spiritual life.

Let us say you doubt your own capacity. When you doubt your own capacity, please feel that at that time you cannot be at the top of the tree. On the contrary, you are cutting down your own tree. So when you think of the spiritual life, if you are not sure, if you are afraid to enter into it wholeheartedly, then feel that on the other hand the outer world cannot really satisfy you or anybody else. One day, after you have had a very good meditation, try to identify yourself with others who are not aspiring, such as your friends or so-called friends, who are here or elsewhere. At that time, feel that you are like a magnet and try to pull them. Then you will see that what they have is all frustration. Some of them may be very rich and prosperous, some may have big families, but what they all have is frustration. You do not have thousands or millions of dollars; you do not have a lot of friends or a large family, but you are the happiest person. What has made you happy? Your aspiration and meditation.

Everybody is crying for one thing: happiness. A child wants to be happy. An old man wants to be happy. But why is it that this old man and this child are not happy? The child would not be happy even if you placed before him all the toys and dolls in the world. Immediately he would like one toy and then the next moment he would just throw it away. Now the old man has got many things from life. He wanted millions of things, but perhaps he only got ten or twenty of them. Even then, he is not at all happy. Some people got everything that they wanted from life. Perhaps God fulfilled ten thousand of their desires. But still, they are not happy because there is no end to their desires.

In your case, you are afraid that the truth, the light that you have accepted has not accepted you. This is your main problem. You have accepted me as your Master, but you are not sure whether I have accepted you wholeheartedly or not. You appreciate my spiritual qualities; so now you have to feel that I also appreciate your good qualities. That is why you have responded with your spiritual qualities. I have accepted you. That is why I show you my concern, love and blessings, and that is why you are showing me your love and concern in respond. So please feel that acceptance has come from me in the first place. My acceptance of you was destined. I accept very few as my disciples. It is not important who comes to me, but whom I accept. I may come to your house, but you may not accept me as your Master. Again, you may come to my place and I may not accept you. But you have to feel that the first acceptance comes from the Master and not from the disciple. The seeker tells the Master outwardly, "I want to be your disciple." But the Master is a tricky man. Before he has even seen or spoken to the seeker, he has accepted or rejected him. When you feel that the Master accepted or rejected you before you even opened your mouth, then the problem is solved.

If you give service in some way, then your Master has already served you. The disciple should feel that just because the Master has shown him divine love and inner light, that is why he is able to offer the Master his aspiring love. I have done the very thing that you are doing for me and much more in infinite measure. When it is a matter of concern, love, service and everything, then there is no comparison between my offering and your offering. You have accepted me as your Guru; I have accepted you as my disciple. This is our mutual acceptance. The moment you feel that my acceptance of you is much more sincere, much stronger and more fulfilling than your acceptance of me, then all your problems are solved.

Question: Why does fear come into existence?

Sri Chinmoy: Fear can come into existence for various reasons. But the main reason, absolutely the main reason, is a sense of separativity. If I feel you as my own, my very own, then I will not be afraid of you, no matter how strong or powerful you are. A child is not afraid of her father's strength. No matter how strong he is, the child is not afraid of her father because she has established an inner oneness with her father. She claims her father's strength as her own. Even if she does not obey him, she knows that her father is not going to strike her. When we have a sense of separativity, then we may have fear. This is the real cause of fear.

Question: How can I stop worrying about what people think of me and start being myself?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, you have to know who is dearest to you in this world — God is the dearest. You have to feel that if He is displeased with you, if He speaks ill of you, then you have to pay attention, because you don't want to hurt your dearest One. But if the world is displeased with you or speaks ill of you, then let the world play its role. If the world is going to bark, that does not mean you have to bark back.

If you can see God as your only existence, then God will give you a sea of tranquility, a sea of inner peace. There you will see that the criticism of the rest of the world appears as a tiny bubble. Then the play of the bubble will immediately dissolve. It will end when it enters into the sea of your own consciousness, your vast consciousness-light.

In your case, do not pay attention to other's criticism, but pay all your attention to the One whom you should consciously feel is your dearest. Please approach Him in this way. It is He who has the power to keep others' mouths shut. In your case, in everybody's case, you have to feel that the All-loving, the All-mighty is God, the Inner Pilot.

Question: I feel I should open my heart and not worry at all. Is this right for me?

Sri Chinmoy: This is not only right for you, it is right for everyone. When you are stricken with worries you only close your heart. At that time negative forces try to bother you like flies and mosquitoes. But if you stop worrying, you open your windows, and then light will enter into the heart room.

Part III — Aggression and possession

Question: Could you speak about possessiveness?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. Possessiveness arises only when we want to be satisfied with a very limited portion of reality. As an individual we want to possess another individual. But when we try to possess another person, we see that either he has already possessed us or that he cares for and wants to possess somebody else. If we are clever enough, we will ask, "Is there anybody on earth who has possessed everyone?" Then if we go deep within, we will answer our own question, "Yes, the Inner Pilot has possessed everyone." That being the case, if we can please the Inner Pilot, then we can possess everyone in a divine way.

If we go to a mango garden, we see mangoes there. We want to take one mango, but while we are plucking even one mango, and eating it, we are full of fear. We are afraid that the guard will come and catch us. He will insult us and scold us. God knows what he may do to us.

If we are wise, we will not try to possess the mango. Rather we will try to please the person who has planted the mango tree, the owner of the mangoes. We want to please him instead of possessing the mango, because if we can please him in some way or other, then he will tell us to eat the mangoes to our heart's content and to have as many as we want.

Each individual is like a mango. We want to possess someone, but before we possess him, we see that someone else has possessed him or that he does not care for us. He cares for somebody else. Now where is your possession? But if we know that Somebody is the owner of that person, just as the same Somebody is the possessor of our life, then we go to Him. That Somebody is God.

So when we go to the real Owner, the real Possessor, and please Him, then we will see that the person or thing we need is right in front of our nose. To please the One who is the real Owner, the real Possessor is to get everything. In this world, we try to possess someone or something who is not the actual possessor. Unfortunately, we feel that if we can possess that person or thing, then we have achieved everything. But we have achieved nothing. We have only accumulated and added to our ignorance. The moment that person or that thing enters into our life, then we will see that it only creates more confusion for us. In our ignorance we try to possess someone, thinking that he is better, superior, or more illumining than he actually is. But when that thing, that person, enters into our life, we feel that this has only created more confusion and nothing else.

If we know that there is some Person or Reality within us who possesses everything and who has the capacity to illumine everything and everyone, we should go to that Person. If we want to possess anyone, then we should possess Someone whom we can rightly claim as our very own. And that is God. We can't claim even one second of our existence as our own. We don't know where we will stand or on what plane our consciousness will be from one moment to the next. We are at the mercy of the moment. Now we are on earth, and we feel that we can claim our next moment. But at one moment we may be meditating and the next moment we are at the mercy of temptation or some other evil, destructive thought such as jealousy, fear or doubt. We are not under our own control. We have no capacity to control our next moment. Yet we try to possess somebody else who has millions of undivine and wrong forces of his own. Because we do not know what will happen next, and because we neither can possess the next moment as our own or utilise it in our own way, we shall try to possess Someone who is eternal, and who has the capacity to control all thoughts. By possessing this Someone, we can fulfil ourselves.

Let us think of God as our own most devoted Servant. We can forget about God as being Omniscient and Omnipotent. Let us think of Him as someone who is really devoted to us. Let us cry to have this most devoted Servant in our life. If we have Him, we can fulfil all our desires. Everybody wants to have someone who will listen to him. I want someone who will listen to me, and you want someone else to listen to you. God is the perfect Listener. So let us be clever. Let us try and cry for the most devoted Servant in life. That most devoted Servant is not a human being, He is God.

Question: How do you deal with violence and physical aggression?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know that ignorance is playing in and through violence and aggression. The basic problem is our ignorance. What can put an end to it? It is our conscious aspiration. When we go up with our aspiration, we become one with a higher goal. When we become conscious of our unity, we feel that in the field of manifestation what appears to be diversity is really unity. But suppose we have lost our feeling of oneness and we fight with someone. We are not fighting with ourself, we are fighting with someone else. This is because we have lost our feeling of oneness. The moment we feel that our opponent and we are one, only in two bodies, or when we feel that our opponent is a part and parcel of our life, then we stop fighting. It is aspiration that will make you feel that you and the rest of the world are one.

Question: If we disavow aggressiveness, must we also disavow the normal way of life?

Sri Chinmoy: Unfortunately I do not see eye to eye with you. You need not be aggressive in order to lead a normal life. If one has inner love from the heart, and inner peace of mind, then one doesn't need the life of aggression. Sincere spiritual people pray and meditate, so God is bound to look after them, to do the needful in and through them. If we cry to God for Light or Truth, or if we seek God in our hearts, He will do the needful for us. He will always give us inner strength. Inner strength is infinitely more powerful than any aggressive quality or the so-called human capacity that we have.

Spiritual life means the life of normality. If we pray and meditate sincerely, we are trying to establish a free access to the divinity within us. This inner divinity is normal and is what we should claim as our own. When we claim our outer selves as our own we are mistaken, because at that time we are trying to stick to something abnormal. But when we practise the spiritual life, we must lead a normal life. According to the spiritual life, only God is normal; we are abnormal. Since God is normal, we have to please Him in His own way and be normal like Him. God is for normal people, and when we realise that God is normal, our meditation becomes spontaneous and natural.

Part IV — Transformation of the ego

Question: Sometimes I find a barrier between myself and other people whom I don't know. I expect something from them, but I feel I am unable to give from myself to them. What should I expect from other people?

Sri Chinmoy: If you know someone well, you know if that person is good. If you do not know someone, you do not know what can be expected from him. He may do you some harm. The barrier exists because you do not see or you cannot see the Supreme inside a stranger as you see the Supreme inside your friends. But instead of taking someone as a stranger, you should feel that you can become friendly with someone because inside him you see the presence of the Supreme. Your friendship should be based upon your inner awareness of God's existence inside that particular person. If you can have the same feeling toward a mere acquaintance as toward a friend, then that person will not remain a stranger. You need not be afraid of him.

In India we bow down with folded hands immediately upon meeting a stranger. Here in the West you shake hands in order to offer your greetings. When we bow with folded hands, we try to see the Supreme inside that person. If folding your hands looks awkward, you need not fold your hands, but inwardly try to see or feel the presence of the Supreme inside that person.

Question: On the physical plane is it better to have ego and do everything wrong than to be lazy and sleep for eighteen hours a day?

Sri Chinmoy: When you do everything wrong, your friends will tell people what you have done. Soon you will get tired of trying to hide your misdeeds. Then you will try to do better, and you will begin to improve. Why should you always have to listen to others comments? So it is better to make friends with ego than to make friends with idleness.

Question: Do you have to do away with your ego in order to aspire?

Sri Chinmoy: It is the other way around. If you have aspiration, the ego disappears automatically. But if you think that you will be able to kill your ego without having aspiration, then you are mistaken. In order to cure yourself, first you need the right medicine, and the right medicine is aspiration. Aspiration is the only medicine to cure you of the ego problem, the ego disease. So when you have aspiration, then only can you cure yourself of the ego disease. Otherwise, if you want to wait until your ego is dissolved to get aspiration, then you will have to wait through Eternity.

Question: How can we force our ego to surrender?

Sri Chinmoy: If you force your ego to surrender, it will not help. You can force your son to swim in the swimming pool when the water is very cold. You can throw him into the water, but at that time you will become his enemy. So when the ego has to be illumined you can't force anything. You can't force your surrender, purity or security. It is only through gradual progress that these will come. If you want to develop your muscles by doing forty push-ups in one day, then you will die. Forcing is absolutely prohibited.

In the spiritual life it is the inner awakening that enables the ego to surrender. If you force anything, it will only become worse. It will not only destroy the outer capacity that you have, but it will also stand in the way when you try to create new capacity. So do not force. Only try to illumine the ego through constant aspiration.

Question: Is spiritual responsibility based on ego?

Sri Chinmoy: No, spiritual responsibility is not based on ego. When the highest Power and the highest Light enter, then we have the responsibility to expand. This responsibility is not the responsibility to show the world what we are doing or what we stand for or how much we have to give to the world. It is not the responsibility of ego. The responsibility we feel is that we must have God-realisation. It is the responsibility of our constant awareness of the Truth, that the Truth has to be seen, felt, realised, revealed and manifested. This responsibility is not the ego's responsibility. It is the soul's responsibility. We feel it as our very own because the soul tells us constantly that God is ours and that we can reveal God, and eventually become God. In the spiritual life, the deep spiritual life, God-realisation is not a sign of ego. In the ordinary life we create responsibility to gratify ourselves and feed ourselves. That responsibility is based on ego. But spiritual responsibility is not based on ego. It is the soul's expansion, the body's expansion and the physical mind's expansion. It is the expansion of our divinity within us.

Part V — Insincerity

Question: What should I do to transform my insincerity into aspiration?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all you know that every day you can't eat the most delicious food. You want to eat delicious food, no doubt, but you don't get it every day. Nevertheless, you do eat. In the same way there are days when you do not aspire wholeheartedly. If undivine forces have entered into you, do not be disturbed. Feel that you are in the battlefield of life, and that some forces have attacked you. But don't feel that you are helpless. They have attacked you, but now you have to fight back with your peace, light and bliss. But what if you do not have peace, light and bliss at that time because you didn't aspire that day? You can remember that you did meditate yesterday, or the previous day, or a few days before. So when you are attacked, think of your previous achievement. Today you are beginning to doubt and cherish negative forces, but perhaps yesterday you had a good meditation. Immediately think that yesterday you had such high, powerful meditation. Try to think of that meditation and bring it into your living memory. Then your spiritual power will automatically come to the fore. The divine experiences of yesterday are real wealth. You are not fooling yourself. Yesterday you had the highest experience or you received more light. Always try to think of one good past experience.

Yesterday's good, high experience was a reality. Today's attack is also a form of reality. Don't allow yourself to be mercilessly attacked and destroyed by today's reality. Let yesterday's reality come forward and fight today's reality, and you will see that yesterday's reality is much more powerful than the reality of today.

Question: How can we have inner sincerity and outer dedication?

Sri Chinmoy: Only by mixing and being in the company of spiritual people. Each spiritual person, if he is sincere, is a tremendous inspiration to the rest of the world. So if you have fear or doubt, although there are many ways to remove them, you can easily look for another spiritual person. If that person does not have fear, just talk to him; if the person does not have doubt, talk to him. At that time you gain the strength that he has. A seeker, a sincere seeker, is more than ready to give you his strength and faith.

When doubt appears, if it is not overcome and then on the strength of your doubt you start mixing with people who have left the spiritual path, you yourself will be overcome by doubt. Try to mix with people who have not left the boat. They will lift you up and inspire you, whereas those who have left will say, "I have another boat. Come, come with me."

Question: Is there a lesson to be learned when someone deceives us?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to know that the life of one who deceives you and your own life are totally different. If somebody brings a snake right in front of you, will you just stay there and say, "Oh, God is here!"? God is in the snake, true. Still one can't stay in front of a snake and not be bitten. When you were of the standard of the snake, you could have stood in front of the snake and not been bitten. But now you have surpassed the snake. You no longer have the standard of a snake, so you have to be very careful.

God is everywhere, but you have to know your standard. If God is in everybody, then why come to the meditation hall? At this time you could have gone to a bar. God is also inside the people who are drinking there. But you don't go there because you know that in comparison this is a better place. So you have to be very wise. Birds of a feather flock together. Now you have entered into the spiritual life. Our standard is much higher, infinitely higher, than those people, so you cannot mix with them. At the same time you should not hate them. It is just that you cannot treasure some of the qualities they have. God is having a particular experience inside them, and God is telling us not to have that same experience.

We can learn from others' deception, and we can learn from our own diligence. When we are alert, we learn a few things, and when we are not alert, we learn a few other things. When we are alert, we don't learn anything from our failures, or so-called trouble. When we are alert and very diligent, we go from light to more light. But when you mix with people who are not aspiring consciously and deliberately, then you enter into ignorance. We are in darkness, and from darkness we try to come to light. From light we can go to more light and abundant light. When we mix with spiritual people, we go from light to higher light. So in the future, only mix with other spiritual seekers.

Question: How can I become more of a divine warrior?

Sri Chinmoy: What you want you can become provided you become more sincere. I don't question your sincerity. You say it is your sincere wish to become a divine warrior. Now sincerity is like a muscle. You are sincere and you should become more sincere. Then what you sincerely want can be accomplished.

Question: Why do people seem so confident and self-assured?

Sri Chinmoy: People are confident of everything these days. Even a child knows everything. Two or three hundred years ago, people wouldn't dare to speak of God. A few hundred years ago most people didn't know anything about God. Very few had the feeling that some people had realised God. Now all Indian widows are realised; we have to touch their feet. These days in America, people who haven't even done Hatha Yoga, let alone meditation, talk to their friends as if they know everything about God. They may not have been to any spiritual Master, but they know everything.

As in the Indian villages, people here have a disproportionate confidence. In the past people had faith in their incapacity. They would learn from God. Now the people in the world know everything about God. Often people are insincere. If they tell a lie ten times in a dramatic way, the eleventh time they do not take it as a lie. By the eleventh time, it is the truth. Once they are convinced that they will realise God, they try to give realisation to everybody.

A kind of confidence has entered into the world that is founded upon nothing. We need confidence, but this is false confidence. It is something we have created in order to show off to the world and to other people.

Part VI — General questions and answers

Question: Do accidents ever have a divine purpose?

Sri Chinmoy: If we look at an accident from the highest spiritual point of view, the highest spiritual consciousness, then it is not an accident at all. It is just an incident, an experience that God is having in and through a particular human being. But in the outer world, in the field of manifestation, very often the dark, wrong, hostile forces cause accidents. Sometimes the Supreme actually disapproves of these accidents. Sometimes the divine tolerance is there and He just tolerates them. And sometimes He approves. This is because at the time of an accident the Supreme feels that a particular person can be inspired to lead a better, more spiritual and more significant life. Someone may be disturbed by circumstances in his life, by members of the family, his neighbours and so forth, so that a new life is needed. The present life may be absolutely useless for that particular person. So you may see that an unfortunate accident will take place. If you look at it with your outer eye, you may call it an accident. But you have to know, did God want that accident? Is it for the person's punishment? Here I have to say that God does not want to punish us. God never punishes us. He may give us an experience, but if we go deep within, we will feel that God is actually having this experience. If we can identify ourselves consciously with the Will of the Supreme, then there is no such thing as an accident.

In the highest Light of the Supreme what we may call an accident or a catastrophe is actually a form of Delight. But we have to be in the Supreme's Consciousness. Otherwise, an accident is something threatening, discouraging and painful. We can feel this only when we go beyond the domain of the physical world and identify ourselves consciously with the Will of the Supreme. At that time we get the deepest joy and the most meaningful purpose inside the accident itself.

Several days ago a disciple's wife had a serious accident. She does not care for the spiritual life, but her husband is extremely devoted to me. He is a true and genuine seeker. If he had not been in the spiritual life, in the inner life, and marching, running towards his goal, his wife would now be in the world of death. So accidents that could take your life away can be prevented by somebody else's aspiration. But the person who saves you must be your nearest and closest friend or relative. Because this disciple's wife was his dearest in the outer world, she escaped death. She escaped on the strength of his aspiration. So there are many factors that can prevent accidents from taking place.

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