Two God-servers and man-lovers, part 1

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Part I — Questions by Mr Robert Muller

TGS 1e1. In the spring of 1977, the following profound and soulful questions were submitted by Mr Robert Muller, Director and Deputy to the Under-Secretary-General for Inter-Agency Affairs and Coordination, to Sri Chinmoy, Director of the United Nations Meditation Group. In their interchange, these two luminaries complement each other by becoming soulfully one with humanity's multifarious needs and divinity's gracious gifts.

Mr Robert Muller: The first three of U Thant's four categories of needs, namely physical, intellectual and moral needs, do not create any insuperable problems, but the last and most important one in his view, spirituality, gives me considerable difficulties. There are indeed so many definitions of that term. U Thant described it as "Faith in oneself, the purity of one's inner self." Suppose — as I would ardently wish — that humanity would adopt some day his four broad categories of goals. How would you define the spiritual goals?

Sri Chinmoy: The seeker in me fully agrees with our beloved brother U Thant’s four categories — physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual — which are necessary for an individual to become integrally perfect. The term “spiritual” always creates problems, not only in the minds of seekers who are endowed with few spiritual potentialities but also in the minds of those who are endowed with great spiritual potentialities. Each individual must needs have a way of feeling and describing his own spirituality. To some, it is faith in oneself; to others, the purity of one’s inner self; to still others, God for God’s sake. Again, there will be no dearth of definitions of the term “spirituality.” According to my inner conviction, spirituality is at once self-giving and God-becoming. This self-giving is not an offering to somebody else, to a third party. This self-giving is an offering to one’s own higher self. This self-giving is nothing short of an act of self-uncovering. Self-uncovering is another name for self-discovering, and self-discovering blossoms into God-becoming.

Now, what is God-becoming? This question can be answered in billions and trillions of ways. Each individual will have an answer of his own in accordance with his soul’s development and his life’s needs. Here again, my inner conviction is that God-becoming is the soulful recovery of one’s own forgotten self, one’s cheerful acceptance of it and one’s fruitful discovery of this realisation: “In my yesterday’s life, I had; in my today’s life, I am. What did I have? God the man as an aspiring seed. What have I become? Man the God as the fulfilling fruit.”

Mr Robert Muller: I often think that U Thant's four categories of human qualities or needs — physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual — could well form the basis for a world agenda of human goals. From your writings, I notice that these categories are also quite fundamental to you, but you add to it a fifth which you call the "vital." Could you elaborate on it?

Sri Chinmoy: The existence of the vital-reality is in between the physical and intellectual. As there are physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual worlds, even so there is also a vital world. This vital world is situated between the physical and the intellectual worlds. Again, this vital world is divided into two: the human vital and the divine vital. The human vital is nothing short of aggression. It always says, “I know how to become, I know how to become.” But the divine vital says, “I know how to spread, I know how to spread. And also I know what to spread, why to spread and where to spread. What to spread? My love-wings. Why to spread? Because that is the only way I can have satisfaction. How to spread? Soulfully and unreservedly. Where to spread? Where there is a need — an urgent need, a sincere need, an undying need.”

When Julius Caesar said, Veni, vidi, vici: "I came, I saw, I conquered,” it was the human vital in him that was speaking. This is the vital that enjoys satisfaction through destruction. Needless to say, this kind of satisfaction is absurd. The other way is the way of the Saviour, the Christ, who said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Here the Christ teaches us that true satisfaction comes into existence only through oneness. This oneness can be discovered in any plane of consciousness. On the physical plane, for example, the head is at a particular place, the arms are at another place and the legs are at a third place. But they have established their oneness, because they are all part and parcel of the body-reality. This same kind of oneness has to be discovered in the development of each individual. The divine statement of the Christ, with its fathomless magnanimity, identifies itself with the unlit reality of humanity as the Christ asks his Father for humanity’s redemption. For this, what he needs is his Father’s immediate Compassion and express Forgiveness.

The human vital says, “Behold, I have.” And when we see what it has, we are disappointed, distraught and disgusted; we curse ourselves for our stupid action. The divine vital says, “I am, because you have made me. And I shall remain always so by offering to you consciously and constantly a portion of what I have. In this way I become my own universal self.”

Mr Robert Muller: When I speak to audiences about U Thant's four ways to happiness, I sometimes hear the following criticism: "Life is one and cannot be artificially cut into four. Everything is interdependent and linked. We must concentrate on life as an entity and not on components which are the product of the intellect." I am not over-impressed with this argument, for I have indeed observed that life is richest when I cultivate simultaneously all four categories of needs, namely physical, mental, moral and spiritual. Nevertheless, there is some truth in that criticism and I would be grateful to learn how you would respond to it.

Sri Chinmoy: I am sorry to say that it is not possible for me to see eye to eye with your critic-friends. Indeed, they are right when they say that life is one, but in the same breath when they say that it cannot be artificially cut into four, I wish to ask them where they got the idea of cutting life or the life-tree into four parts. There is no necessity of artificially cutting life-reality into four; it is absurd.

Let us take life as a ladder that serves us and helps us reach the pinnacles of liberation, illumination, realisation and perfection. This life-ladder has four rungs. The first rung we unmistakably call the body-reality. The second rung is the intellect-reality; the third rung, the morality-reality, and the fourth rung, the spirituality-reality. Once we firmly step on the body-reality-rung, the body casts off the ignorance-cover of millennia. Once we ascend from that rung and step on the intellect-reality-rung, we see the vastness inside smallness and the smallness inside vastness, the infinite Beauty inside the finite duty and the finite duty inside the infinite Beauty. Then we ascend and step on the morality-reality-rung. Here we try to illumine our lower self, which consciously or unconsciously enjoys the song of division and the dance of separativity through self-indulgence and by unreservedly and deliberately embracing the earth-bound goal while ignoring the Heaven-free goal. The earth-bound goal is: “Possess and become.” But to our sorrow we see that we possess only to lose; what is worse, to get totally lost. Finally we ascend to the spirituality-reality-rung and reach our Heaven-free goal. What is our Heaven-free goal? Our Heaven-free goal is: “Offer and become.”

To quote your singularly momentous and apposite inner depth: “We progress physically, mentally, morally and spiritually towards a higher level of human consciousness, towards that smile of divinity which knows that someday the human race will be able to re-establish paradise on Earth. There is no longer much difference between the political approach and this broader, richer concept of human fulfilment.”

I fully agree that these four approaches are not independent; they are interdependent. They are interdependent precisely because they know that they can reach their satisfaction-goal only on the strength of their becoming one, inseparably one. Interdependence is the harbinger of oneness. Human life in itself is an eternal road, eternal journey, eternal soul and eternal goal. While walking along Eternity’s road, if the seeker covers some distance and then gives the distance he covered a name, and if he continues to do this, he is perfectly entitled to do so. But in the heart of his heart, he knows that it is only one road, one journey, one crying soul and one smiling goal. These four are Eternity’s duty, Infinity’s beauty, Divinity’s necessity and Reality’s Immortality.

Mr Robert Muller: Do you think the UN exercises a real influence in the world? What is, in your view, its principal contribution? How does it appear to you in the great stream of history and human evolution?

Sri Chinmoy: Not only do I think, but I am positive in my soulful statement that the United Nations exercises certain influences in the world. These are the vision of peace, the mission of brotherhood, the sense of perfection in a oneness-world-family and the total satisfaction of complete oneness.

The principal contribution of the United Nations is the hope-sky that it offers to the world at large. This hope-sky is not a product of vital fantasies, mental vagaries or the idiosyncrasies of weaklings. This hope-sky is the all-illumining revelation of the United Nations soul. The seeker-servers at the United Nations — no matter in which capacity they are serving the UN — and the supporter-lovers of the United Nations — no matter in which part of the world they are — are seeing a glimpse of the UN soul’s all-illumining revelation. And each glimpse embodies a growing and glowing fulness-satisfaction in man’s life of inner hunger and his life of outer feast.

In the great stream of history and human evolution the contribution of the United Nations is not only to be the great and ultimate pathfinder of the ultimate Truth, but also the good and supreme bliss-distributor of humanity’s Divinity.

Mr Robert Muller: If you were given the task of laying down the basic principles for the education of all the children of this world, what would be your recommendations?

Sri Chinmoy: According to me, education is self-cultivation and self-cultivation is God-perfection in human life. You want to know the basic principles for the education of all the children of this world. Let us divide this world into halves: the Eastern world or, let us say, the Indian world, and the Western world, or the American world. For an Indian child, freedom is a far cry. For an American child, freedom is an act as easy as breathing in and breathing out. In India, even now I see that a child is taught and learns the message of the world through severe discipline and imposed fear. Here in America, as far as I can see and feel, in most of the cases, if not all, parents get satisfaction in fulfilling their own dreams, but they neglect their children’s needs. They say to the children, “We don’t want to impose anything on you. You find out your truth and you pick out what is best for yourself, for how do we know what is best for you? It is better that you look around and find what you need.” Some will say that this is a broad expression of the parents’ oneness with their children, while others will say that the parents unconsciously, if not consciously, are unburdening their so-called burdens. The parents will say, “Look, we really love you. Here is the proof that we love you. We have given you a TV set. We have given you a tape recorder, a radio — everything in the material world that you long for. Therefore, we expect you to stay with your friends and let us fulfil our dreams in our own way.”

Unfortunately, I can subscribe neither to the Indian method of bringing up a child nor to the American method. Parents should not allow their children to grow up in the Elysian lap of exorbitant luxury; nor should they keep a devouring, intransigent tiger before their children so that at every moment the children will be forced to do the right thing. The parents should tell their children that they are not disciplinary, autocratic parents but unreservedly loving, discerning friends.

The education of the children and the education of the parents must go together. The parents must dream in and fulfil themselves through their creations, their children. As the creation cannot be separated from the creator, even so the creator cannot be separated from the creation. The creation without the creator is helpless. The creator without the creation is meaningless. Therefore, both the creation and the creator must contribute to each other in order to derive oneness-satisfaction and fulness-satisfaction. It is in the parents’ right decision that we can find the children’s freedom. This freedom is founded on their oneness with their parents’ will. Let us consider the children as finite realities and the parents as infinite realities. The children become infinite and enjoy infinite freedom only by becoming consciously, unreservedly and inseparably one with their parents.

The parents must not think of their children as unnecessary projections of their life; for if these projections are unnecessary, then they can go in their own way. On the contrary, they must feel that their children are absolutely necessary projections of their life. The improvement of the projections, perfection of the projections, considerably adds to the source. The beauty of the leaves, flowers and fruits of the tree only adds to the seed-reality of the tree. It does not diminish the beauty-reality, divinity and necessity of the seed.

Here I wish to quote from your most illumining insights about global education: “A child born today will be faced as an adult, almost daily, with problems of a global interdependent nature, be it peace, food, the quality of life, inflation, or scarcity of natural resources. He will be both an actor and a beneficiary or a victim in the total world fabric, and he may rightly ask: ‘Why was I not warned? Why was I not better educated? Why did my teachers not tell me about these problems and indicate my behaviour as a member of an interdependent human race?’…

“Global education must transcend material and intellectual achievements and reach also into the moral and spiritual spheres. Man has been able to extend the power of his hands with incredible machines, of his eyes with telescopes and microscopes, of his ears with telephones, radio waves and sonars, of his brain with computers and automation. He must now also extend his heart, his sentiments, his love and his soul to the dimension of the entire human family and to our total beautiful planet circling in the universe.”

The parents should bring the presence of God, the presence of love, the presence of truth and the presence of purity into the hearts and eyes of their children as soon as the children can see the light of day. They should tell their children that they themselves and the children are great companions and that they have a good Guide, a good Leader, who will guide them, mould them and shape them into perfect Perfection. They know a little more about that Guide than the children, and He has told them to say certain things about Him to the children. Therefore, they are listening to the Guide’s dictates. Right now the parents are asked by the Guide to act as intermediaries between Him and the children. But there shall come a time when the children will not need intermediaries. They will be able to go directly to the Guide, the Source. Until then, the children must listen to their intermediaries, their earthly friends. The acme of the children’s education is their perfection in life and their perfection for God-satisfaction. And to offer their children that, the parents should not impose, nor expose, nor even propose; only they should become the living flame of self-giving in order to realise their own world-satisfying life and to please the Source in its own Way.

Mr Robert Muller: Anthropologists have found a gradation of religious beliefs over the history of mankind: ritualism, animism, ancestor worship, polytheism, monotheism. All these forms were associated with changes in the social structure. Recently, the "age of reason" and the scientific and industrial revolution have rendered religion and spirituality obsolete — even harmful — in the eyes of many. What, in your view, is likely to be the "religion" or "spirituality" of humanity tomorrow as a satisfactory answer to man's queries about his relationships with the universe, his fellow men and the mysteries of life? Is this likely to be reflected in the United Nations as a forum where humanity is seeking new ways for its destiny and fulfilment?

Sri Chinmoy: The spirituality of tomorrow will neither be the merciless rejection of life nor the disproportionate imposition of life; the spirituality of tomorrow will be the devoted acceptance of life and the pure dissemination of the seeker’s self-giving breath in order that he may become a God-blossoming beauty within and without.

Here at this point I am tempted to share with the rest of the world your most illumining ideas and most nourishing thoughts: “Indeed, how can we reach full consciousness and enlightenment if we do not let the entire world and humanity enter ourselves? Humility and the lowering of one’s ego lead in the end to righteousness, happiness and the full mastery over oneself, enriched by the thoughts, dreams and feelings of others. Together with meditation, it is perhaps the clue to serenity in our bewildered, complex world. U Thant was a living proof of it.”

The spirituality of tomorrow’s dawn will beckon the desire-world to show the desire-world that real satisfaction looms large only in the aspiration-life. The real spirituality of tomorrow’s dawn will beckon the aspiration-world to show the aspiration-world that real satisfaction lies only in the seeker’s unconditionally surrendered oneness with his Source, his Beloved Supreme.

The blind world can be sceptical of the reality or it can deny the reality when the reality is in the flame stage. But when the reality grows into the sun stage, even the stone blind must admit that the sun does exist, because of its scorching heat and loving warmth. Today’s United Nations divinity-flame can be denied or challenged, but tomorrow’s United Nations divinity-sun shall give sight to the blind, offer legs to the lame and offer voice to the voiceless to mark the slow, steady and unerring beginning of man’s quenchless satisfaction in God and God’s breathless satisfaction in man.

Mr Robert Muller: U Thant often said that in his view the West was too materialistic and intellectual, and not spiritual enough, whereas the East was too spiritual and fatalistic, and not caring enough for the material and intellectual welfare of the people. Do you see a synthesis developing between the two and how would you envisage a harmonious, happy world society?

Sri Chinmoy: I readily, immediately and unreservedly agree with our beloved Secretary-General U Thant’s most illumining assessment of Eastern achievements and Western achievements, Eastern possessions and Western possessions, Eastern contributions and Western contributions, Eastern outlook towards the Reality and Western outlook towards the Reality.

The East is spiritual, the West is material. The East cries for the transcendental Spirit, the West cries for the universal matter.

The East is in the heart and for the heart. The West is in the mind and for the mind. The East from within comes to the fore and flowers. The West from the outer existence goes deep within and flowers.

The East wants silence. The West wants sound. Silence embodies the teeming Vast eventually to proceed. Sound inspires the teeming Vast continuously to succeed. The East sings the song of God the One. The West sings the song of God the Many. The East loves unity. The West loves multiplicity.

This world of ours is beset with countless problems. The spiritual East thinks that the Beyond is the only answer. The material West thinks that the answer is to be found here on earth; it thinks that the answer is: live and enjoy and enjoy and live.

The East believes in fate because it believes in reincarnation. The West does not believe in reincarnation; therefore, it does not believe in fate.

We can endlessly see and determine the differences between the East and the West. But the real question is whether these differences are being synthesised or not. At the very beginning, if we know what the heart can offer and what the mind can offer, then it will be an easy task to synthesise the two. The heart wants to see the oneness, feel the oneness and become the oneness itself. The mind wants diversity in the vital and multiplicity in the mind proper. The heart knows that there is a road that leads upwards. The mind knows that there is a road that leads forward. The East wants to walk along the road that leads upwards. The West wants to walk along the road that leads forward.

The synthesis between East and West starts because of their feelings of insufficiency. The East sees that if it does not accept the material life, then it will not be able to manifest what it inwardly has. The West feels that if it does not accept the spiritual life, then it will not have a solid foundation. Then everything can be easily shattered.

We can clearly see that the East has already gained considerable knowledge and wisdom from the West, especially in the scientific world. The West has gained considerable knowledge and wisdom from the East, especially in the spiritual world. Here we see that the heart and the mind cannot function separately and individually. They have to function together, provided they feel the need of an integral perfection in life. The mind without the heart will not know what the supreme Reality is. The heart without the mind will not know how the supreme Reality can be manifested here on earth. To our great joy, the East and the West are constantly complementing each other to make each other perfect consciously, and more so unconsciously.

The East is like the body of a bird and the West is like the wings of a bird. If the bird does not spread its wings, then how will it fly? And again, when it flies and reaches the highest Height, at that time it has to know that there is another goal and that goal is God-Manifestation on earth. There are two goals: one goal is Heaven-reality and the other goal is earth-reality. When we use the wings to go upward to the heavenly goal, we go with the earth-reality to the Heaven-reality. And when we come down to the earthly goal, we come down with the Heaven-reality to the earth-reality. It is like climbing up and down a tree. We climb up a mango tree and pluck mangoes, and then bring them down and distribute them. The East says, “Gather!” The West says, “Spread!” If we do not gather, then how can we spread? Only if we gather can we spread. Again, if we spread what we have, then the Source is pleased with us and the Source gives us everything in infinite measure.

For the last quarter of a century, both the East and the West have felt the supreme necessity of receiving light from each other. To quote your own illumining ideas and fulfilling ideals: “Beyond the turmoil, the divisions and perplexities of our time, mankind is slowly but surely finding the ways, limits and new codes of behaviour which will encompass all races, nations and ideologies. It is the formulation of these new ethics which will be the great challenge for the new generation. It will concern not only men’s material fate, but also their mental and spiritual lives.”

There was a time when the renouncer of life felt that it was beneath his dignity to love the lover of life, and the lover of life felt that it was beneath his dignity to mix with the renouncer of life. Now the lover and the renouncer are modifying their views and becoming one. The renouncer feels that to love life because God the All-Love is inside life is absolutely correct. At the same time, God the Lover of life sees that things need not be renounced; He sees that they can be modified, transformed and perfected. After all, perfection only can give humanity abiding satisfaction. So the East, instead of rejecting, gladly accepts the great possibilities, capacities and realities of the West. The West too does exactly the same. They are combining their possibilities and transforming these possibilities into divine practicabilities with the hope that supreme satisfaction will dawn in the all-embracing and all-illumining common realisation of East and West.

We will have a harmonious, happy world-society only if this synthesis continues, and we can take East and West as the two arms, two eyes, two feet and two legs of the Supreme Pilot within and without. The other human divisions and distinctions — racial, cultural and linguistic — are destined to disappear from the human consciousness when it is flooded with a higher Light. This is the inevitable consequence of the Hour of God that is dawning all over the world. When the Hour of God appears, diversities will be there, but these diversities will be enriched and enhanced in fullest measure. And they will not disturb the general consciousness; on the contrary, they will harmoniously complement the whole. Humanity will be a true human family in every sense of the term and also in a sense that the human mind has yet to discover. And here I wish to say that this discovery will exceed all human expectations.

The awakened consciousness of man is evolving towards the Divine Existence. This is a most hopeful streak of light amidst the obscurities of the present-day world. This is a moment when human beings do not only join hands, but also join minds, hearts and souls. All physical, vital and mental barriers between East and West will dissolve, and high above national standards, above even individual standards, we shall see the supreme banner of divine Oneness.