World-destruction: never, impossible! part 1
Part I — Spiritual principles
Spiritual principlesPerfection has to be the goal of each and every individual — perfection in the inner life and perfection of the outer life — for it is in perfection that satisfaction abides. Perfection is both humanity's hope and Divinity's promise.
Question: How can we know God's Will?Sri Chinmoy: In order to know God's Will convincingly, we have to meditate most soulfully and reach our highest state of consciousness. When we are in the highest state of consciousness, we will see that we have gone far beyond the domain of the mind, and the dance of thoughts has completely stopped.
Then, if we want to know if a certain idea or message is from God, the answer will come in a very soft, subtle voice or it will be written in a column of light inside our heart, which we will be able to read.
After discovering God's Will, if we are still in our highest consciousness, we will not be affected regardless of whether the message is encouraging or discouraging to our mind. If we are in an ordinary consciousness, we have preconceived ideas about what is desirable and undesirable. If the message says that we will be successful, then we are happy; but if the message is perceived by our mind in a negative way, then we will feel miserable. But once we are highly developed, even if the message does not appear favourable, we will not be disturbed. After knowing God's Will, we can go one step further and cheerfully accept God's Will.
Question: Quite often you speak of "light". What is it exactly?Sri Chinmoy: In a very broad sense you can call light a divine gift. Everything good, in fact, is a divine gift. From the spiritual point of view, everything that a seeker has and is, is a divine gift — an unconditional gift from the transcendental Supreme.
When I say light, I am speaking about illumination. This illumination will first take place in the realm of the God-manifesting soul. Next it will take place in the aspiring heart, then in the searching mind, then in the dynamic vital and, finally, in the wakeful body. When you can open your third eye — the eye of inner vision — at your sweet will, you can not only see light but also grow into light and spread it around the globe.
Although light is the most needed spiritual quality of all, unfortunately it is the least wanted. Very often seekers invoke joy, peace or power, but very rarely do they aspire for light. Instead of feeling that the divine light will illumine them, they mistakenly identify with their own limitations and imperfections, and feel that they are going to be exposed. But the divine light is not going to expose them. On the contrary, light embraces humanity with all its imperfections and tries to illumine human ignorance so the human life can be elevated into the divine life.
Question: Teilhard de Chardin spoke of an irreversible law of progression towards perfection. Do you agree with this optimistic view?Sri Chinmoy: I fully agree with Teilhard de Chardin. In the process of evolution each individual is making progress, and continuous progress ultimately leads to perfection itself. Perfection has to be the goal of each and every individual — perfection of the inner life and perfection of the outer life — for it is in perfection that satisfaction abides. Perfection is both humanity's hope and Divinity's promise. In the union of humanity's hope and Divinity's promise are the seeds of perfection-realisation on earth and fulfilment-satisfaction in Heaven.
When we dive deep within, we clearly see that not only are individuals progressing, but God's creation as a whole is also progressing. Everything that exists is making progress. Even God the Infinite, God the Eternal and God the Immortal is progressing; He is constantly expanding His own Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. Continuous progress is the supreme Goal of His Transcendental Vision and His Universal Reality.
God the Creator is progressing in and through God the creation, and vice versa. God the creation says to God the Creator: "I have what You need from me — aspiration." God the Creator says to God the creation: "I have what you need from Me — Satisfaction." It is when earth's ascending cry meets Heaven's descending Smile that perfection-satisfaction becomes a reality.
Question: Your extraordinary creativity gives the impression that man has within himself capacities that are unexplored and unused. How can we awaken these capacities? Your disciples learn from you, but do they achieve the same kind of results?Sri Chinmoy: Definitely man's inner, divine capacities are not fully explored or fully used. We can awaken these capacities through our heart's aspiration and our life's dedication.
My disciples do learn from me to bring to the fore their inner capacities, and many have succeeded in doing so. A few of them have amazed the world with their most outstanding capacities. One of them, Ashrita Furman, has held as many as thirteen world records, and many others have discovered and developed exceptional capacities in various fields. They may not achieve the same kind of results as I do, because their receptivity is still limited at their level of spiritual development. But because of their inner aspiration, their regular meditation and their sincere devotion to the life of the spirit, they have achieved or will achieve far more than they would have or could have, had they led ordinary lives.
Question: What is the significance of your accomplishments in the fields of art and sports? Your fantastic results seem to prove that in your case the body is truly the instrument of the spirit. Is this true for everyone?Sri Chinmoy: The life-tree has many branches. Art, literature, music and athletics are all branches of the life-tree. In my case, when I apply myself to art, literature, music, sports and other activities, I have only one goal: self-transcendence. I have always tried to transcend myself, and I am still trying to transcend myself, for self-transcendence is the only way to achieve self-perfection and God-satisfaction.
For all human beings the body is truly the instrument of the spirit. Westerners are fond of saying that the spirit is willing but the body is weak. Unfortunately, I cannot agree with this pronouncement. The body is always loyal to its superiors — the mind, heart and soul. Our real problem starts with the mind, not with the body.
When the mind is the boss, the mind dictates wrong things to the body, because the mind itself is spiritually weak. The limitations of the mind are so powerful that they do not allow the mind itself to surrender to the higher authorities — the heart and soul. But the body, in spite of having serious limitations, is always willing to obey the heart and soul when they are able to come to the fore in the life of an aspiring human being.
So it is not actually the limitations of the body that so often prevent us from doing the right thing or from making progress in the way we want to. Just because the mind is superior to the body in certain ways, we are inclined to defend the mind and accuse the body. But actually it is the unwillingness of the mind, cleverly disguised, which is really to blame for our lack of accomplishments or progress.
For everyone, the body is the only means by which the spirit can manifest itself. The body is the temple; the spirit is the shrine. Both are of supreme importance. The shrine is needed for inner realisation; the temple is needed for outer manifestation.
Part II — Global consciousness
Global consciousnessWhat we need is a life of balance — neither to wallow in the pleasures of wealth nor to lead a life of asceticism, but to embrace a life of simplicity and a heart of purity. Indeed, this is the only way that this world of ours can be supremely happy and divinely perfect.
Question: Can God influence world activities in order to help mankind?Sri Chinmoy: If God cannot influence world activities in order to help mankind, then who can? It is true that some things are predestined. Again, God's omnipotent Will can and does change human destiny. It has happened countless times both on an individual level and on a collective level down through the sweep of centuries. Under ordinary circumstances, the law of karma is irrevocable, but God's Grace can easily alter the law of karma.
A naughty boy may strike another boy mercilessly and unnecessarily. But before the other boy can retaliate, the culprit can go and take shelter with his father, asking him for protection. The father knows perfectly well that his son has done something wrong, but the father may protect him and not allow the other party to punish him. Similarly, when we do something wrong, if we beg God for His Forgiveness before the punishment comes, God can forgive us and save us from the deserved punishment if He chooses to.
God inspires heads of countries and all of us to do the right thing. But inspiration is one thing and our acceptance of this inspiration is something else. God wants to fulfil Himself in and through us divinely, but quite often we do not allow Him to do so. We want to fulfil ourselves in a wrong, undivine way. Then naturally we remain divinely unfulfilled and God remains supremely unmanifested.
Question: Is it possible for someone to raise the global consciousness just by raising his own individual consciousness?Sri Chinmoy: We have to inspire the world to meditate by aspiring in and through the heart of the world. We are all peace-dreamers and peace-lovers, and we are all inspired to serve the world. But sometimes a particular individual comes to the fore with boundless inspiration and transforms our universal peace-dream into reality. Here is an example:
The Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is only a single individual, but his consciousness has entered into the global consciousness and transformed the entire global consciousness. On the strength of his inspiration, aspiration and love for humanity, he is not only liberating a few bondage-bound countries, but also enlarging the illumining and fulfilling vision of tomorrow's freedom-oneness-life for all of humanity. One individual has begun singing the song of world-harmony, and the rest of the world has lovingly and eagerly joined in. As a result of one individual's consciousness, a oneness-world-peace-song is being sung by people throughout the length and breadth of the world.
The One is part of the many, and the many are part of the One. Similarly, the individual consciousness and the global consciousness are inseparable, like a flower and its petals or like a tree with its trunk and its branches. The trunk without the branches is not a tree. Again, there can be no branches without the trunk. So the individual has to feel his oneness with the universe, and he has to aspire and meditate in and through the heart of the entire world.
Question: Your spirituality does not require a hermit-like way of life, but instead favours a full participation in today's society. This implies that society, even structured as it is, contains the seeds of spiritual growth. Through meditation and spiritual practice can one become spiritual, irrespective of his or her social role?Sri Chinmoy: Definitely society embodies spirituality in the purest sense of the term. Spirituality is not asceticism. Spirituality is not self-abnegation. True spirituality means the acceptance and transformation of life so that perfect perfection can dawn in the core of humanity. Through meditation and spiritual discipline, definitely one can become spiritual irrespective of one's social role or religious beliefs.
Question: What is your most urgent message for today's man — for the West, conditioned by its materialistic philosophy, and for the East, which, in many cases, is still struggling for life's basic necessities?Sri Chinmoy: For the West, my most urgent message is this: Do not try to possess the world. If you want to possess the world, to your wide surprise you will see that the world has possessed you and made you its slave. To the East I would say that a life of austerity or a life of rejection will not expedite your spiritual journey. Possession is not the answer; asceticism is not the answer; moderation is the answer. Cheerful acceptance of life — with a view to transforming the face and fate of the world — is the only answer.
The developed and prosperous countries must exercise their generosity and genuine concern for their fellow citizens of the world, not out of charity but out of a sincere feeling of oneness. With the loving material assistance of the wealthy countries, the underdeveloped and ill-fated countries can and must give more importance to education and self-discipline, and strive for a better standard of living instead of surrendering to the deplorable circumstances which have rendered them helpless.
What we need is a life of balance — neither to wallow in the pleasures of wealth nor to lead a life of asceticism, but to embrace a life of simplicity and a heart of purity. Indeed, this is the only way that this world of ours can be supremely happy and divinely perfect.
Question: In your spiritual philosophy, what role do the poor, sick and aged have? What role do women have?Sri Chinmoy: In my philosophy everyone, including the poor, sick and aged, belongs to one family — God's Family. God is at once poor and rich, sick and healthy, young and old, for He exists inside each and every individual. Here on earth we are all God's children.
God wants us to be spiritually hungry. Once we are hungry, He feeds us with His Compassion and Love. This Compassion and Love are not the monopoly of certain people; they are for all those who cry for them. To realise God, neither prosperity nor poverty is needed. It is the inner cry that is of supreme importance. This cry is the only necessity for God-realisation, and it can be had by anyone, regardless of age, health or worldly position.
Similarly, both men and women have the same right to claim God as their very own. That is not to say that men and women should always play the same kind of role in God's Cosmic Play. They may have different parts to play, but each one is needed to fulfil God the Transcendental in Heaven and God the Universal on earth. In God's Eye, men and women are equally important.
Question: Will mankind survive the impending ecological disasters? How can our modern technological society be taught to respect our home, the planet Earth?Sri Chinmoy: Mankind will survive everything precisely because God will not allow His perfection-manifestation on earth to be a failure. But it is very difficult to impress upon others the necessity of respecting and preserving our Mother-Earth. If we try to play the role of enforcers, we will not be successful. Nobody wants to learn anything by outer force. Everybody has to be taught through inner persuasion and outer example.
Inner persuasion has to be founded upon our prayers and meditations. Those who are conscious of the higher ideals have to pray to God and meditate on God to illumine the destruction-thirsty minds of the world and transform them into perfection-longing minds. Also, we have to pray to God and meditate on God to create and develop a genuine universal oneness-hunger in the life of humanity.
The development of technology is not bad in itself. But we have to see whether technology is utilised for the divine satisfaction of mankind or for man's mutual self-destruction. Our planet Earth, which God has chosen for His complete manifestation, will be inundated with light and delight when we all live in our purity-heart-garden and not in our impurity-mind-jungle.
In this sense, each seeker has a special role to play in the protection of our small planet. It is the illumination of the individual mind and spirit that will precede the awakening of a new collective awareness. The change in individual attitudes will be the precursor of a change in institutional policies, and the result will be a greater respect and love for our planet Earth.
Question: God is all Love and Goodness. Will He allow mankind, in its arrogance and greed, to destroy the world?Sri Chinmoy: Precisely because He is all Love and all Goodness, God will never allow mankind to destroy this beautiful world of His. Sleeplessly He tells us to claim His world as our own, and to serve Him in this world by increasing the purity and divinity of our lives.
We can all see that the world has recently made tremendous progress. God has successfully inspired the human mind and heart to aspire towards a more harmonious world. He is infusing the earth-consciousness with greater oneness-light to go beyond national boundaries and other divisions. In the past year, for example, many dramatic steps towards peace and harmony have been taken around the world, especially in the USSR and in Eastern Europe. That these changes could have occurred and that these barriers could have come down in our lifetime was previously beyond our imagination. Some people are calling these dramatic and unexpected events miracles of God in and through mankind.
We must remember that the Creator is always more powerful than His creation. The Creator can easily influence or change the negative and destructive forces in the world. Our Beloved Supreme could stop a pending nuclear disaster, for example, by changing the mind of the pilot who was about to drop the life-devastating bomb. So we must have faith in our Creator and trust that He will, without fail, do the needful for His creation.
Part III — Religion
ReligionIf we live in our oneness-heart, we will feel the essence of all religions which is the love of God. Forgiveness, compassion, tolerance, brotherhood and the feeling of oneness are the signs of a true religion.
Question: Why do the different religions of the world often depict God in many different ways and ascribe to His Will such diverse opinions on fundamental world issues?Sri Chinmoy: Let us take all religions as members of one family. In a family there are many members, and each one is entitled to have a different opinion. But they do know that they all belong to the same family. True religion is like a life-tree; it has many branches with countless flowers, fruits and leaves. When we deal with different parts of the life-tree, we see diverse opinions on world issues.
Each individual seeker views the Creator and the creation according to his own aspiration and level of development. What we need is light to illumine our inner and outer differences. It is through our oneness-life that we will walk, march and run to the Supreme. We must have appreciation for and sympathetic oneness with all religions in order to create a harmony that will spread throughout the length and breadth of the world.
Question: You have written: "Sri Krishna meditated and became God the divine Light. Christ meditated and became God the divine Compassion. God wants us to meditate to become God the divine Life." Why do you not also include Abraham, Moses and Mohammed here?Sri Chinmoy: Indeed, Abraham, Moses and Mohammed were also God's representatives on earth. God's conscious servants are like a family with many members. Suppose there is a family with ten members, who are all endowed with exceptional musical talents. You happen to be one of the brothers, and you give preference to some of your brothers and sisters over others because of your own inner feelings. You are in no way saying that the ones you prefer are the only musicians in the family, whereas the others are not musicians at all. You are just more fond of some of your brothers and sisters than of others. Another person will give more importance to different members of the family. It is only that I like or love this person more, while you may like or love somebody else more. Each of us has our own inner feelings and preference.
Again, it is also true that even among talented musicians, all of them do not have the same extraordinary talents. All may be excellent players, but some are definitely more talented than others. Even God-realised Masters are not all of the same calibre. Right in front of you, let us say, is the God-realisation-tree. I may have come with greatest difficulty from a remote place to sit at the foot of the tree. Another person not only has come to the same tree but also has climbed up the tree to an appreciable height. A third person has climbed up the highest branches. He has reached the highest, but he is not coming down again since he is afraid of being devoured by the ignorance-tiger roaming around the foot of the tree. Then there is a fourth person who is very brave. Not only has he climbed up to the highest but he also has picked quite a few most delicious fruits and brought them down to the hungry truth-seekers and God-lovers who were watching him with utmost love, joy and admiration.
Needless to say, all four are definitely God-realised souls. The one who has reached the foot of the realisation-tree is a God-realised soul. The one who has climbed up to an appreciable height is a God-realised soul, and the one who has climbed up and then climbed down to share the fruits with others is also a God-realised soul. But in terms of God-manifestation, they are not the same.
Question: You are originally from a very old and classical religion, which has been tested through the centuries. What do you think of the new religions that appear frequently in the United States, which stress social-life activities?Sri Chinmoy: You are right that my Hindu religion has been mercilessly tested throughout the centuries. Because of Hinduism's vastness-heart and tolerance-life, it has survived and will continue to survive all inner and outer challenges. Hinduism encompasses many philosophies and beliefs. It is all-embracing in its love, and it gives importance to all the spiritual figures of the world. Hinduism embodies certain eternal ideals, and it sees a true harmony in the teachings of all religions. To some extent, it is more like a self-disciplined spiritual culture than a religion.
I am not well acquainted with the new religions that deal with social-life activities, so I am the wrong person to say anything about them. But I do hope they all are doing the right thing and aiming at the same goal — the goal of universal oneness.
Question: Your disciples have come to you from many different religions — Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and others. You do not ask them to leave their religions when they join your spiritual path. Is this because you believe there is one God, and that every religion calls Him in their own language? Are all religions ways to provide us with the experience of God, independent of the historical appearance of the religion's message?Sri Chinmoy: It is true that I do not ask my disciples to leave their religions. To me, religions are like houses. Everyone has to live in a house. But if they want to study in a particular school, they can go outside their house. In the spiritual school they have the same teacher, and they all study the same lesson. What is the lesson they study? Love of God. And love of God is the essence of all religions.
Yes, I believe in one God, one Source. Love of God is like a tree — the life-tree — and it has many branches. Each of the branches has its own identity and its own name, such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and so forth. But they are still branches of the same tree.
Even in our human life we see that the same person is called various names by different people. You call your father 'Dad', whereas I will call him by his surname because I do not know him. Your father's brothers and sisters will call him by his childhood name, and perhaps your mother will have her own affectionate nickname for him. So his dear ones call him by various names, and his friends and acquaintances also address him differently. But he is the same person. Similarly, people of different religions call God by different names, but it is the same Being that they are referring to.
I also believe that all religions are ways to provide us with the experience of God, completely independent of the historical context of their messages. True, each religious teacher or prophet comes with a special message that suits the people of his time. But humanity's ignorance and lack of receptivity are such that whenever a prophet comes, he always seems to have come ahead of his time. When God sends a prophet, a Messiah, a great religious teacher, it is definitely in order to serve Him and manifest Him during that particular period. But even though the world does not appear to be ready to receive the message that he brings, that message still plays a special role in the earth-consciousness. The teachings of the Saviour Christ, for example, have guided, uplifted and illumined humanity for almost two thousand years, and they will continue to do so for centuries to come.
Question: What has to prevail in religion — reason, or the sentiment of the heart? How can we identify a true religion?Sri Chinmoy: In religion, the feeling of oneness-heart has to prevail, and nothing else. Religion is not a matter of reason. If we live in our oneness-heart, we will feel the essence of all religions, which is love of God. But if we live in the mind, we will only try to separate one religion from another and see how their ideologies differ. It is the heart that can have a true intuitive understanding of the height and breadth of all religions. It is the heart that sees and feels the inner harmony and oneness of all religions.
True religion has a universal quality. It does not find fault with other religions. False religions will find fault with other religions; they will say that theirs is the only valid religion and their prophet is the only saviour. But a true religion will feel that all the prophets are saviours of mankind. Forgiveness, compassion, tolerance, brotherhood and the feeling of oneness are the signs of a true religion.
Question: What is your opinion of those religious sects which fight with other sects in the Name of God?Sri Chinmoy: I feel very sad when religious sects quarrel and fight in the Name of God. If they really love God, they will not kill others in His Name. Love means oneness. If we have oneness, how can we fight? We fight only because we do not feel love for others, because we have not yet transformed our ignorance into oneness-reality.
In our own being there are many members — the body, vital, mind, heart and soul — and we claim all of them as our own, very own. The body, too, has so many parts, but when we want to achieve something, all the parts work together. In exactly the same way, when we want to do something good for mankind, then all the religions can and should work together. All the world's faiths — which differ in appearance but in essence are one — must work together.
Since we all have the same Source, we all have the same ultimate destination. No matter which path we take, eventually we will arrive at the same destination. Since "all roads lead to Rome," and we are all heading ultimately to the same Source, it is ridiculous to fight against others who are following different roads. Some people may choose a very short and direct road, while others may take a longer route. Some may want to fly while others are content to walk, but the destination is the same.
When all religions work together, they can achieve something great and good for both God and humanity. It is the collective prayers and good will of the seekers and followers of all the world's religions that will bring down the highest Love and Compassion from above. And it is only God's Love and Compassion descending into humanity's heart and life that can change the face and fate of the world.
Part IV — Christ and Christianity
Christ and ChristianityThe teachings of the Saviour Christ have guided, uplifted and illumined humanity for almost two thousand years, and they will continue to do so for centuries to come.
Question: Do you recognise Jesus Christ as a prophet, as the Son of God or as a friend of mankind, historically engaged in raising its social and spiritual level?Sri Chinmoy: I recognise Jesus Christ not only as an unparalleled prophet and the beloved Son of God but also as a supreme oneness-friend of mankind. What he did, what he is doing and what he will be doing is far beyond the domains of history, society and certain levels of spirituality.
As the beloved Son of God, Jesus Christ came into the world to become part and parcel of earth's existence, and to transform its consciousness from human to divine. True, his mortal years numbered a mere thirty-three, but birthless and deathless is his immortal sacrifice for Heaven and earth.
As an unparalleled prophet, he offered the message of divine love and divine surrender to God's Will. "Let Thy Will be done!" What could be a greater prayer than this? These words of the Saviour will echo and re-echo always inside the very depths of our hearts. To surrender unconditionally to our Lord Supreme is the very purpose of our existence; it is every soul's ultimate mission on earth.
As the true oneness-friend of mankind, Jesus Christ flooded the earth-consciousness with Compassion and Forgiveness. His immortal prayer, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," will forever draw down God's Compassion and Forgiveness from above for the inwardly hungry and thirsty truth-seekers and God-lovers. Indeed, Jesus' self-offering life and earth-illumining message will shine bright, brighter, brightest in the aspiring heart and God-loving life of humanity throughout Eternity.
Question: In the New Testament Jesus says, "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed." Here we see faith in tradition; the Gospel was told to us, and we believe in it. But then we are called upon to believe in something higher: that we can actually experience God. Everyone has to achieve this within himself in his own way. Do you believe in this individual approach to God?Sri Chinmoy: The Saviour's lofty utterance is at once beautiful, illumining and fulfilling. To be blessed means to be more in tune with God's Compassion, Light and Will.
Let us say somebody comes to me and tells me that he has been to a garden that has many beautiful and fragrant flowers. While he is telling me about the garden, unconsciously or consciously he is injecting some light into my being. I am getting joy from the garden just because he is telling me about it. When I go there myself, I am able to enjoy the garden to the fullest extent. But the joy that I previously got from my friend definitely adds to the joy that I get from the garden itself. When he tells me about the garden, it is like he is giving me a dollar. When I go to the garden and see it myself, it is like getting one hundred dollars. So then I have one hundred and one dollars.
But if my friend tells me about the garden, and I say, "No, I can't believe anything from him," then it is only when I go there myself and see that what he says is true that I will get the joy that I deserve. But if I had believed him when he first told me about the garden, my total amount of joy would have been greater. His own joy, which he was so eager to share with me, would have entered into me and been added to the joy I got myself when I went personally to the garden. Then naturally I would have been happier.
I do believe in an individual approach to God. Each sincere approach ultimately leads to the goal. When we come to the Vatican to be blessed by the Holy Father, I may come by boat, you may come by plane, a third person may come by car and a fourth person may come on foot. Each one has used his own means to reach the goal, but the destination, which is flooded with infinite Light and Delight, is the same. Therefore, I give value to each and every individual approach, since all ultimately lead to the destination.
Question: What is the path of the heart? Is it love, peace, devotion, sentiment, meditation and religious practice? What more?Sri Chinmoy: To me the path of the heart means divine love, divine devotion and divine surrender. Human love means to bind and be bound. Human devotion is nothing other than attachment. Human surrender is like the forced surrender of a slave to the master. But divine love means to love God in the way God wants to be loved. Divine devotion means to serve God in the way God wants us to serve. Divine surrender means to make our will completely one with His Will.
We want to love God unconditionally in order to please Him in His own Way. We want to devote ourselves to God unconditionally in order to please Him in His own Way. We want to surrender our earth-bound will to His Heaven-free Will unconditionally in order to please Him and fulfil Him in His own Way. Everything has to be unconditional. This is the path of the heart.
The supreme message of the Saviour we have to apply to our everyday life: "Let Thy Will be done." When we love God, devote ourselves to God and surrender to Him unconditionally, our finite 'self' grows into the Infinite in exactly the same way that a drop enters the ocean and becomes the ocean itself. When we become one with the Infinite, and claim it as our very own, then we can truthfully say that we ourselves are infinite.
Question: Which is the most beautiful prayer: the prayer of praise and beseeching, where man sees God as omnipotent, or the prayer of acceptance — "Thy Will be done"?Sri Chinmoy: The prayer "Let Thy Will be done" is infinitely more beautiful, infinitely more illumining and infinitely more fulfilling than a prayer of praise and beseeching.
In our prayers, when we appreciate, admire and adore God's infinite capacities and qualities, unconsciously or consciously we hope to get some blessingful reward or boon in return. In a sense it is like we are trying to flatter God, and in return we expect something.
But when we say, "Let Thy Will be done," it means we have become fully aware of our measureless limitations, incapacities and ignorance, and are aware of God's measureless Compassion, Concern and Love for us. Because of our fathomless ignorance, we admit that we do not know what is good for us. We realise we may ask for the wrong thing, which instead of helping or satisfying us will only make us miserable. So we ask our divine Father, who loves us infinitely more than we love ourselves, to take control of our lives and make the decisions for us.
When we humbly offer our earth-bound will to God's Heaven-free Will, we feel that we are a tiny drop entering into the boundless ocean and becoming inseparably one with the ocean. The ultimate goal of each seeker is to achieve infinite Peace, infinite Light and infinite Bliss, and this can be done only by fulfilling and pleasing God the Omniscient, God the Omnipotent and God the Omnipresent in His own Way.
Question: We are supposed to become like God. "You shall be like God," the Bible says. And the New Testament states, "Be perfect like your Father in Heaven." You have also written, "The Supreme will be satisfied with me only when I become like Him, another God, because He wants me to become His companion, not His slave." How much of a metaphor are these sayings, and how far can they be taken word for word?Sri Chinmoy: It entirely depends on the development of the individual. These are extremely lofty spiritual goals. The Christ said, "I and my Father are one." Is there any sincere truth-seeker and God-lover who will disagree with his illumining realisation? But if an ordinary person who does not pray and meditate or lead a spiritual life says this, nobody will take him seriously. A thief can tell me not to steal, but will I be inspired by his words? But if a saint or a great spiritual Master tells me not to steal, it is entirely different. When a spiritual Master asks me to do something, he is consciously putting a force behind his words so that I will succeed. He not only inspires me but also helps me inwardly to succeed.
When a spiritual aspirant has become inseparably one with the highest Absolute and knows that he has become a real instrument of God's transcendental Will, he is entitled to say that he has become like God, or even that he is one with God or that he has become another God. When the tiny drop has merged into the ocean and become part and parcel of the ocean, you cannot tell it apart. Similarly, if an individual becomes one with the universe on the strength of his aspiration and realisation, at that time it is absolutely true to say that the finite has become the Infinite.
I am very grateful that you have read my writings. My philosophy is founded upon love, devotion and surrender. The message of love, devotion and surrender comes from the spiritual heart and finds its fulfilment in the universal oneness-heart.
Question: What does the Pope represent to you personally? You have met with Pope Paul VI. Did you have any significant inner experiences? What did you talk about?Sri Chinmoy: To me, the Pope is a supreme leader of humanity. He is the elder brother of awakened and unawakened mankind. He is the representative of the Saviour Christ on earth. In my first meeting with Pope Paul VI, I told him that I saw in him "the most benevolent Father of the Catholic world, the Master-leader of the Christian world and the Champion-lover of humanity." This is in essence what the role of the Pope represents to me.
I was fortunate and blessed to be able to meet with Pope Paul VI three times. Each time I met with him, I had significant inner experiences. When I looked at his eyes, I saw an illumination-sky, and when I entered into his heart, I felt a compassion-ocean. It is very rare to find an illumined mind and a compassionate heart together, but in one frame Pope Paul VI definitely embodied both compassion and illumination in boundless measure. I also discovered in him a soul's smile which was truly psychic, yet touched with a subtle sadness. He had the capacity to quickly penetrate the human heart and dispel the sufferings of human life.
I remember so vividly the first time I met with His Holiness in a private audience. At one point he said, "This meeting of ours has been most essential." He also told me, "I admire your philosophy — the Hindu life and the Christian life shall go together. Your message and my message are the same." Later, I was deeply moved when the Pope said, "When we leave this world, you and I will meet together." And the Holy Father was all kindness in presenting me with the Papal medallion.
The second time we met, I was fortunate enough to be in the front row when the Pope was holding a public audience. He was not physically well and had to be carried on a chair to the podium. After his talk, he came over to me, and again he was extremely compassionate. He told me that he had read and enjoyed the books that I had given him during our first meeting, and he appreciated my activities and selfless service at the United Nations. As you know, I have been leading meditations for delegates and staff there since 1970. The pope told me, "I am truly proud of your service to the United Nations. You are an Indian. I am also proud of your country."
The third time we met, His Holiness granted me another private audience. This time I presented him with a book I had written about him, and he was very happy and pleased with it. When he looked through the book and saw the picture of U Thant and myself, he asked if I bring down new inspiration and aspiration from above when I conduct meditations at the United Nations. I answered, "Holy Father, I do try to bring down all the divine qualities with my prayers and meditations." Again, he was full of kindness and compassion.
Question: Please express your views of the Catholic Church as an institution as well as your views of its dogmas and moral laws, its fight for the freedom of mankind and its work for the growth of mankind.Sri Chinmoy: I have great admiration for the Catholic Church, in the same way that I appreciate our Hindu temples in India. To me, the Church embodies inspiration, aspiration and devotion in the purest sense of the terms. To me, each Catholic church, like a Hindu temple, is a heart-garden flooded with purity and divinity. It carries humanity's aspiration to the highest and brings down God's Compassion to humanity. You can say that the Church is the golden bridge between man's aspiration-cry and God's Satisfaction-Smile.
So I do not look upon the Catholic Church as merely an institution with various dogmas and moral laws. From my own spiritual point of view, I feel that the Church embodies God's sleepless and self-giving Breath for the illumination, salvation and perfection of mankind. In this sense, God has been working in and through the Holy Father and the Church to expedite humanity's inner and outer growth and progress, and to fulfil humanity's aspirations for inner and outer freedom and liberation.
Question: What does sin mean to you? How can man liberate himself from sin? Does your spiritual philosophy incorporate the Christian concept of redemption?Sri Chinmoy: To me, sin is a kind of imperfection or ignorance. It is not necessarily something very bad, ugly or untouchable. In the process of evolution we are aiming at perfection, but right now most of us are still wallowing in the pleasures of ignorance and self-indulgence. Each self-indulgent action of ours is a manifestation of our present ignorance. As long as we remain in ignorance, we will do things wrong, we will commit sins. But we must not feel that we are completely lost or covered in darkness. We are just progressing from less light to more light, and ultimately to liberation from ignorance-imperfection-sin.
Man can liberate himself from sin only by invoking God's constant Grace. God's Grace always descends abundantly and powerfully, but most human beings do not try to receive it. If the individual wants to free himself or herself from ignorance, and cries to receive God's Compassion-Rain, then definitely he will be liberated from the snares of imperfection-sin. But this liberation comes gradually as the seeker becomes more illumined. We must not expect sudden and miraculous overnight transformations, although these do occasionally occur.
In a very broad sense my philosophy does include the concept of redemption, but it puts more emphasis on human liberation from ignorance. It is through conscious liberation from ignorance that today's man the finite grows into tomorrow's God the Infinite. According to my understanding, the Saviour Christ lived and died to liberate humanity from ignorance and imperfection-sin through the example of his own earth-experience.
Question: Are we ourselves meditating in the heart, or is God meditating through us? Are we like a vessel that God fills with His Consciousness and Knowledge, which then becomes ours? Does this bring us to union with God? Christian mystics describe an 'empty' state that God can fill with His Love, making His Home in our consciousness. Is this similar to what you are saying?Sri Chinmoy: When we are not highly developed, we think that we are meditating in the heart. But once we are more developed, we feel that it is God who is meditating in and through us.
I fully agree with the Christian mystics. They use the term 'empty' and I use the term 'receptive'. Unless we feel that our heart is empty, how can it be filled with peace, light and delight? It is like a football before it is filled up. Once we fill it with air, it becomes an instrument to play with.
Similarly, when we are receptive, then God's divine qualities can enter into us. Once we are filled with good and divine qualities, at that time God can use us as His divine instruments.
Part V — Appendix
Foreword to the first editionIn a world where few feel totally at ease, Sri Chinmoy offers a plan for world and soul survival.
Sri Chinmoy's deep love for God is known world-wide. Long revered as a spiritual force for peace at the United Nations, this humble, God-directed author asks the people of this planet to look within, to rediscover the essential truths of spirituality that have so blessed his own extraordinary life.
This book lends itself to a wide audience. Christians, Jews, Muslims and other believers will find many passages of deep insight and helpful suggestion.
Sri Chinmoy suggests that the spiritual life's goal is self-transcendence. While man reaches up to God, God in turn reaches down to man. The connection occurs and deepens as each person aspires to open himself to the Light of God, the Will of God and a higher state of consciousness.
Sri Chinmoy believes in reincarnation. He articulates the notion that the soul progresses to a higher state in each incarnation. He roots his teachings in prayer and encourages his readers to adopt a "cheerful acceptance of the world with a view to transforming the fate and face of the world." He beckons Westerners to avoid trying "to possess the world" while encouraging Easterners to see that "austerity isn't the answer."
He is a champion of peace, attracting believers from all religions to see the oneness of the world. He suggests that true religions are recognised by their forgiveness, tolerance, compassion, oneness and brotherhood.
For those trying to find their way, he proposes a form of prayer that includes: concentration, the focusing of all attention on a small object to become more aware; meditation, reflection on and identification with the vaster universe and the larger issues; and contemplation, an awareness of God so complete that one feels the oneness and love that comes from God and lives in each person and in all of creation.
Sri Chinmoy doesn't shrink from the exigencies of everyday life. While he does promote soul growth and inner peace, he follows a long tradition of religious teachers who implore truth-seekers to exhibit and live a life of 'dynamism' that is transformative of this world.
The name Chinmoy, meaning 'full of divine consciousness', bespeaks the mission of this deep soul. He lives to be an unconditional instrument of God. He trusts God. There is a sympathetic oneness with God and people throughout his reflections. He becomes sad when he thinks of how people have used religion to separate themselves from one another.
Sri Chinmoy believes that God will save our world. The Light of God is stronger than the force of evil. While he has deep confidence in God, his tranquil reflections portray an urgency which calls out to mankind: "Wake up! Grow deeper! Love in such a way that 'God's Will be done'."
I found the book to be personally helpful. In an age when stress is real and it is hard to find the proper amount of time to pray, Sri Chinmoy reminded me that placing God at the centre of my life, my work and my prayers will help me make this a better, more peaceful world and become the person of faith and love that I am called to be.
Monsignor Thomas J. Hartman
Director of Radio and Television
Diocese of Rockville Center, New York
Editor's preface to the first editionThis book is the result of a remarkable collaboration between Don Antonio Tarzia, General Director of the Italian publishing firm Edizioni Paoline; writer and journalist Venanzio Ciampa of Italy's RAI national television; and Indian spiritual Master Sri Chinmoy.
Sri Chinmoy met with these two men in New York and Rome, where several magazine articles and television specials about Sri Chinmoy's life and activities were being completed. The first television documentary, aired nationwide in Italy on 23 July 1989, featured a probing interview with Sri Chinmoy at the United Nations, footage of Pope John Paul II receiving Sri Chinmoy in Vatican City and a testimonial to the astonishing power of Sri Chinmoy's meditation by champion weightlifter Bill Pearl.
As Mr. Tarzia and Mr. Ciampa became more intrigued with Sri Chinmoy, they resolved to produce a unique volume of his spiritual wisdom which would appeal to a popular audience but still offer a glimpse of the salient depth and luminosity that have characterised his writing for decades.
In May 1990, Mr. Tarzia and his staff in Milan prepared some fifty questions, in Italian, for Sri Chinmoy. Mr. Ciampa edited and translated the questions, and in four intensive sessions during the ensuing summer months in New York, Sri Chinmoy dictated his answers.
The subject matter is wide-ranging, punctuated with rare autobiographical elements and fascinating personal anecdotes that serve to unravel complex mysteries. Some of the questions touch on traditional religious ideologies; here the author's non-parochial sentiment and multicultural background allow new and profound treatment of these issues.