Question: If the Buddha's theory was to disdain the personal God, did it also apply to the personal Guru?

Sri Chinmoy: If you read books about the Buddha’s life, you will see that some say he did care for the personal aspect of his life. According to some, at the age of seventy-eight he passed away; others say that he was over eighty years old. After the age of seventy-five he was unable to walk properly. He became physically lame and he had various diseases. In spite of that, the Buddha used to give sermons. It went on for two or three years like this.

And the Buddha had some unfortunate disciples. After listening to his talks, they would go to another spiritual Teacher only to make a comparison. Then, when they found that the Buddha’s talks were better, more inspiring, they used to come back to him.

If the Buddha had not cared for the personal aspect, he would have said, “Who cares? I gave you my wisdom. That is the most important thing. If you find more wisdom in the other Teacher, then go to him. It is all impersonal.” But the Buddha did not do that. He used to feel miserable, not because he was losing his disciples, but because they constantly changed their Guru. Then he used to give talks and bring them back.

The personal and the impersonal are inseparable, but we prefer one to the other — that is all. In essence, they are one, inseparable, but we like one more than the other. Most people prefer the personal God.

In the Buddha’s case, it was not that the impersonal God came to him. It was not that Somebody stood in front of him as the impersonal God, no. From within, everything became fully illumined, like a million-watt bulb. God was inside, outside, everywhere. The Buddha’s inner beings were fully illumined, enlightened. He separated himself from his inner beings. He saw his inner beings right in front of him, and they were fully illumined. He took them as his own impersonal aspect. This is the Buddha’s way: to feel that, inside, you are fully illumined, you are another God.

The other way is to feel that through love, devotion and surrender to the personal God, you will get everything. Look at a teacher and his student. In many cases, the student has already learnt as much as the teacher knows, but the student has such humility, adoration and admiration that he still wants to keep that individual as his teacher. Sometimes the student even goes beyond the teacher. He knows more, but he does not want to show it because the teacher taught him for so many years with utmost affection, compassion and fondness.

My eldest brother became a Sanskrit scholar. When the village priest performed rites, so many things he did incorrectly, but my brother used to touch his feet because he first received his knowledge of Sanskrit from the village priests.

When the Buddha’s inner beings were illumined, he was fully satisfied. He did not care for the personal aspect. He did not need it. Once he felt himself as the Highest, he was fully satisfied.

In my case, when I realised God, I knew that there was Somebody else, but there was no difference between my Highest and that Somebody else. From that Highest I came. Again, the Highest in the form of realisation and the Highest in the form of manifestation I keep together. In the Buddha’s case, the Highest in the form of realisation he took, but the Highest in the form of manifestation he did not care for. I immediately take both — realisation and manifestation. This moment, when I am in the form of realisation, Somebody is being manifested in and through me. Next moment, when I am playing the role of manifestation, Somebody is expressing realisation in and through me. The Buddha followed the realisation way, not the manifestation way. That is why his philosophy is a little bit different from mine. But in the end, it is the same thing, the same thing.

Here we are in the land of Lord Buddha, the Light of Asia. That is why we are talking about the Buddha and meditating on him. I have the greatest admiration and adoration for all the Avatars, but I have absolute love for Sri Krishna. Similarly, Sri Ramakrishna realised all the Cosmic Gods and Goddesses, but for him, Mother Kali was enough.