Question: When people in America began to take an interest in Eastern spirituality, many of them were disillusioned with social action and the consciousness of social problems, and they just wanted to meditate and be quiet. But now people are beginning to form communities to work together and to develop a little bit of that sense you were talking about. What is your view of the relation between spirituality and social consciousness?

Sri Chinmoy: Spirituality and social consciousness must go together. Spirituality is not for the recluse. It is not only for a limited number of people who go off to the Himalayan caves. If someone feels that by entering into a Himalayan cave he will do the best type of meditation, he is making a deplorable mistake. Again, if someone feels that he will go to Central Park and sing and dance, and that this is spirituality, he is also wrong. We are going from one extreme to another. We have to have a balance. In my own way, I shall pray and invoke the Supreme, who comes first in my life. Then I shall go to the office and share with my colleagues the inner wealth which I have achieved, or I shall throw light on the activities that I am involved in. Meditation and the everyday life have to go together.

But first we have to know the supreme secret. The supreme secret is God comes first. From the One we go to the many. It is like a tree with many branches. How am I going to get to the branches unless I first climb up the trunk? Early in the morning, if I pray and meditate, that means that I am climbing up the tree. Then after two hours, when I enter into the office, that is like going to the different branches of life. This is how we can combine spirituality with society. Society is like the branches and spirituality is the tree trunk.