Question: In your writings you quote quite a bit from Western poets and Western philosophers. I wonder if you get spiritual inspiration from them? Do you think that they are enlightened in the sense in which the people in the Orient use the term?

Sri Chinmoy: I have to be very frank here. I do get inspiration from the Western poets and philosophers, but not enlightenment. Having been a poet right from my childhood, when I get something inspirational I am thrilled. Poetry is next to spirituality. So, being a spiritual man, I try to have the consciousness of poetry in my writings. The Western writers whom I very often quote derive their inspiration or their achievement from the Eastern background. When I read their writings I get the ancient message of my great-great-grandfathers. But again, inspiration and enlightenment are two different things.

When it comes to Truth, there are no such things as East or West. We have got light, inspiration and divine messages from the Vedic seers of the hoary past, true. But the Vedic seers also live in the Universal Consciousness. Truth is not the sole monopoly of the East or the West. Unfortunately, the West and the East very often want to remain separate. The East claims spirituality as its own monopoly and the West claims scientific achievement as its own monopoly. But while we are trying to discover ourselves, we find that science and spirituality must go together. The offering, the achievement, the contribution of the West is of greatest importance; and the offering, the achievement, the contribution of the East is also of greatest importance. The message of peace that we hear in the East and the message of the soul's dynamism that we hear in the West must be combined.