Question: I recently tried to practise non-attachment. I left things that I considered mine and that I loved, and in doing so I felt anger. I couldn't think of God. All could think of was what I had left behind. Could you tell me if I have misunderstood something?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, you have misunderstood something. One thing is renunciation, another thing is illumination. You have left certain things reluctantly, abruptly, even though you still have a desire for them. This is renunciation. Only through proper meditation can you achieve sincere non-attachment.

In this world everybody has some responsibility. Your first responsibility is to take care of your own body, vital, mind, heart and soul. If you decide to renounce the body, if you neglect the body, then what will happen to the temple which houses your soul? How will you be able to pray or meditate with a weak or unhealthy body? If you dislike or hate your body-consciousness, that means that you have forgotten that inside your body is God.

And if you renounce your vital, thinking that it is very undivine, very impure, you are forgetting that inside the vital is God’s Dynamism. If there is no dynamism, then how are you going to make fast progress?

If you renounce the mind because the mind is constantly bothering you with unruly, undivine thoughts, then again you are making a mistake. Inside the mind you have to develop the poise and peace of a higher reality.

If you want to renounce the heart because you feel that your heart is very weak or emotional, this is the wrong attitude. Your heart is the messenger of divine love and fulfilment. Its weakness must be transformed into strength.

So if you simply renounce and discard the physical existence, the vital existence, the mental existence or the psychic existence, how are you going to achieve anything in your own life? What you have to do is illumine and transform all the parts of your being.

If you are practising spirituality in the purest sense of the term, in the beginning if there are people or things around you that are standing in your way, then you have to be very careful. You cannot go and fight with them and say, “I am all for God, so you have to surrender your wishes to mine.” No, at that time you have to pray secretly, soulfully. If you try to overcome them or renounce them immediately, you won’t have the inner strength or capacity to succeed. As you said in your question, you will feel anger, or you will be thinking all the time of what you have given up.

Suppose you have just launched into the spiritual life and your family is not interested in it. In the beginning, if you say, “Just because I have entered into the spiritual life I have to renounce the members of my family,” that is absurd. Today you will renounce them and go to some other state to live, but tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, all your attachments will loom large and you will say, ‘Oh, what have I done?’

Again, you have to be very careful. Right now you are not in a position to mix with all and sundry. If you want to be spiritual, you have to mix as much as possible with spiritual people. They are your real friends. You have to spend most of your time with them and gradually spend less and less time with those friends or family members who are not spiritual. But this has to be done gradually. And in the meantime, you don’t have to renounce anybody or anything that you love.

What you will renounce immediately is the imperfection and the wrong thinking in yourself. That is the thing that you have to renounce, not the things you love or the things you right now need. Anything that is undivine in you, you try to renounce. Anything that is divine in you, you will not renounce. The divine in you is love and concern for the universe. The divine in you is your inner cry. The divine in you is your feeling of oneness with the Absolute, the highest Truth. These are the things you will not renounce. Undivine things only you have to renounce.

Again, in the spiritual life there comes a time when you realise that you do not renounce anything; only you transform. If there is night inside you, you transform night into day. But this is not something you can do overnight. Right now you do not have enough power. If you deliberately enter into night, you will not be able to transform night into day. So it is always advisable to go slowly. I tell my disciples that they have two rooms: a room that has light and a room that needs light. The best thing is to stay as much as possible in the light-room, which is the heart. Then, when your inner being and outer being, your whole existence, is inundated with light, you can enter into the mind-room, which is right now all darkness and confusion. When you enter into the mind-room with your inner light, you can transform it.

Since you know that your goal is light, always try to face the light. If the sun is to the east, at that time do not go toward the south. The flames of the sun are spiritual people. So if you mix with spiritual people, automatically you will see that your own inner capacity is increasing and the things that have to be transformed and transcended are gradually being transformed and transcended.