Question: Could you speak on the role desire plays in the movement towards God-realisation?

Sri Chinmoy: We often feel in our daily experience that desire is one thing and God is something else. Desire, we say, is bad in the spiritual life, for when we desire something, we feel it is the object itself that we desire. It is true that through aspiration alone we can realise God, but we have to know that God abides in our desire as well as in our aspiration. When we come to realise that desire also has its existence in God, we get our first illumination.

Our earthly journey starts with desire, and in the ordinary life we cannot live without it. But if we feel that we are not ready for the spiritual life just because we have teeming desires, then I wish to say we will never be ready for the spiritual life. We have to start our spiritual journey here and now, even while we are walking along the path of desire.

Let us take desire as an object and try to feel the Breath of God inside it. Slowly and unmistakably the Breath of God will come to the fore and transform our desire into aspiration. Then, if we apply this process to aspiration as well, we will come to feel that our aspiration and our earthly existence can never be separated.

There are two kinds of men on earth who do not have desire: those who have liberated souls and those who have dull, inert, lifeless souls. Liberated souls have freed themselves from bondage, limitations and imperfections. They have become free from ignorance and have become one with their souls in transcendental illumination. Again, some human beings want nothing from life. They just wallow in the pleasures of idleness and lethargy; they have no aspiration for anything. So they will never, never have illumination.

The great spiritual hero, Swami Vivekananda, was once asked by a young man how he might realise God. Vivekananda said, “From now on start telling lies.” The young man said, “You want me to tell lies? How then can I realise God? It is against spiritual principles.” But Vivekananda said, “I know better than you. I know what your standard is. You won’t budge an inch; you are useless, you are practically dead to the ordinary life, not to speak of the spiritual life. If you start telling lies, people will pinch you and strike you, and then you will exert your own personality. First you have to develop your own individuality and personality. Then a day will come when you will have to surrender your individuality and personality to the divine Wisdom, the infinite Light and Bliss. But you have to start your journey first.”

There is another story about a man who came to Swami Vivekananda and asked him about God-realisation. Vivekananda said, “Go and play football. You will be able to realise God sooner if you play football than if you study the Bhagavad Gita.” Strength is required in order to realise God. This strength need not be the strength of a wrestler or boxer, but the amount of strength required for normal day-to-day life is absolutely necessary.

There are some unbalanced persons who feel that they will realise God by walking along the street like a vagabond or by torturing their body and remaining weak. Their physical weakness they take as a harbinger of God-realisation. The great Lord Buddha tried the path of self-mortification, but he came to the conclusion that the middle path without extremes is the best. We have to be normal; we have to be sound in our day-to-day life. Aspiration is not one thing and our physical body something else. No! Our heart’s aspiration and our physical body go together; the physical aspiration and the psychic aspiration can and must run together.