Questions and Answers on the Soul


These questions were presented in writing to Sri Chinmoy by Mrs. Barbara Callen of New York City. A few days later, on 4 January 1967, Sri Chinmoy answered them orally during an interview with her. Mrs. Callen records his exact words, taking everything down in shorthand.


Question: Is the soul always with the person during his lifetime, or can it leave him temporarily, even making its home elsewhere?

Sri Chinmoy: As a rule, the soul always remains with the person during his lifetime, but it can leave the body for a few minutes, or a few hours at most, while the person is asleep. It can also leave the body for a short period while the aspirant is in a deep state of meditation. Then one can see one's own body. One may see it as a dead body or a dynamic body or as a shaft of light facing one's soul, or in many other ways. Of course, at that time, one sees the body with the eye of one's own soul. To come back to the question, the soul must remain with the person during his lifetime.

Question: During sleep, does the person's soul make journeys?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. The soul makes journeys to different levels of consciousness. There are seven higher worlds and seven lower worlds. Generally the soul travels in these worlds during sleep. Almost everyone's soul is fortunate enough to have access to some of these worlds, but very few are conscious of these experiences while they are happening, or remember them after they awake.

Question: Can a person's body and consciousness so change during his lifetime that he becomes fit for a finer soul to enter him?

Sri Chinmoy: A finer soul does not enter him. But if the person's body and consciousness are transformed totally, then the soul that he already possesses will be in a position to fulfil its Divine Mission here on earth most effectively, in all its supernal, detailed perfection.

Question: Does a change, such as purification, during the lifetime, change the soul?

Sri Chinmoy: It is the same soul which accepted ignorance and now, throwing away the veil of ignorance, comes closer to its own Divine plenitude and Divine Manifestation.

Question: When we think another's thoughts, we let ourselves 'tune-in' to his 'psychic' agitations. However, if we 'tune-in' to one whom we believe to be grounded in the source of his being, his soul, would this be a valid practice, at least until one's own spiritual unfolding developed?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, let us be clear about the use of the word 'psychic'. As I use it, 'psychic' is not a synonym for 'occult', but pertains to the psychic being. There is no agitation in the psychic being, which is a divine spark, to say the least. We usually let ourselves 'tune-in' to others' vital or mental agitations. Certainly it is a valid practice to 'tune-in' to an enlightened soul. That is what one should do in the beginning or until one has the capacity to unfold oneself spiritually. That is why we say that if you remain calm and quiet and allow the Divine thoughts of your spiritual Guide to enter into you, you will become flooded with Peace. This kind of 'tuning-in' is not only a valid and correct practice, but is essential for one who has placed himself under a spiritual Master.

Question: How does one know if his soul is happy?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, one has to believe that one has a soul. One has to know and feel where the soul abides, that is its location in the body. In order to know and feel the soul, one has to aspire. During his ardent aspiration, his spiritual journey, he can actually discover whether the soul is happy or not. He will feel that his soul is happy only when he sees and feels joy within and without, and also when he does not find fault with God’s creation and God’s Divine Dispensation.

Question: Are there two sets of instructions within the person, one from his deepest nature which includes and unfolds all in goodness and compassion — and the other, which is clever about 'me' and 'mine'?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. There are two sets of instructions within the person. Goodness and compassion come from the very depth of one's being, whereas, me and mine come from the surface. Me and mine cannot come from the very depths.

Question: Can the soul be equally represented in dreams either by an old woman, wrinkled and wise, as well as by a young baby babbling a new language?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. The soul can be represented in dreams by an old woman or by a young baby. In order to give a particular experience to the outer being, the soul can assume any form in dreams. One's own soul can be compared to the gradual growth of a seed into a tree. This is what we call the evolution of the soul.

Question: Is the soul both male and female?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul itself is neither male nor female. But when the soul starts its journey and takes a female body — then in all its incarnations it will take a female body. If it once takes a male body, then in all its incarnations it will take a male body. It is impossible to change the sex. In the whole history of mankind, there has been an exception here and there… but very rarely.

Question: Does the soul get new instruction in its development, or does it merely uncover what it has always known?

Sri Chinmoy: If you say 'experience' rather than 'instruction' the question would be more accurate. Only God, or the Cosmic Self, can instruct the soul.

The soul is uncovering what it has always known, but while it is uncovering, it is growing and enriching itself by taking into itself the divine essence of its earthly experiences. Meanwhile, the physical consciousness is becoming more and more conscious of the soul's unlimited Divine capacity. In essence, the soul, being one with God, is uncovering what it has always known. But in the process of evolution, its "becoming" and "knowing", "knowing" and "becoming" move together and are complementary processes in the lap of the Supreme Truth.

Question: Is it the soul that must surrender to the Cosmic Self?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. The soul has to surrender to the Self — the Self which, in Indian terms, is called Param Atman, which is unmanifest. This Self does not take human incarnation, nor enter into creation; whereas the soul accepts a human body and accepts limitation, imperfection and ignorance. Each human being has an individual soul. This individual soul, which takes a human body, is not all-pervading, omniscient or omnipotent. The Self is. The soul, in its upward evolution, can some day merge into the Self and become as powerful as the Self.

Question: The individual soul limits itself in time and space by taking on a body — but the Self (Param Atman) is outside of time and space; one who has the vision of the Self sees totally the creation and the Beyond. Is this correct?

Sri Chinmoy: This is absolutely correct.

Question: Is it the soul that makes the decision in selecting a new body in each incarnation?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. It is the soul that makes the decision in selecting a body, but with the direct approval of the Supreme or the Self. The choice is made to give the soul the opportunity to manifest more and more of its inner Divinity in each incarnation and to fulfil the Will of the Divine here on earth.

Question: Does the soul experience loneliness? If so, how does this differ from the superficial need to have the company of others, whether we like them or not, but simply because we want someone to talk to?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul experiences loneliness only when the body, vital, mind and heart, which are supposed to cooperate with the soul in fulfilling the Divine Mission on earth, do not cooperate. At that time it experiences loneliness. But it does not act like a human being. It does not waste its time, as would a human being, who feels that just by talking to others the sense of loneliness will disappear. The soul, in its loneliness, aspires most intensely to bring down Peace, Light and Power from above into the physical, the vital, the mental, so that the total being can cooperate with the soul to fulfil the Divine. When Peace, Light and Power descend into the physical, vital and mental, the person becomes conscious of his inner life and true happiness. With Peace, Light and Power, a higher consciousness descends. With this higher consciousness, the person will naturally respond to the soul's need.

Question: Does the soul make demands on a person so that he has to change his ways?

Sri Chinmoy: The soul does not make demands as such. It is not like a mother making demands of her child at every moment, saying, "I am telling you such and such for your own good." What the soul does is to send a kind of Divine Inspiration. This inspiration can, at times, be so vivid and spontaneous that the person may feel it to be a kind of inner imposition made by his inner self on his outer personality. The soul does not demand. On the contrary, it sympathises with human failings and imperfections and tries to identify itself with these failings, and then, with its inner light, it tries to help the person to change his ways.

Question: How different is this from the demands the ego makes?

Sri Chinmoy: We now know that the soul does not make any demands. When the ego makes a demand, it is all self-centered — 'I', 'me' and 'mine'. The ego wants to possess and be possessed. When the soul wants to have something, it is not for its own personal benefit, but is for the fulfilment of the Divine. The ego, by feeding the outer personality, wants to fulfil itself, and this is simply impossible, as there is no end to its cravings. The ego eventually meets with frustration; whereas the soul, by fulfilling the Divine Will, realises its own absolute fulfilment.

Published in AUM – Vol. 2, No. 6, 27 January 1967



Peace envoy here with students


AMERICAN philosopher Sri Chinmoy is in Fiji with about 210 students and followers as part of a goodwill tour of the Pacific.

Sri Chinmoy, 62, is a poet, philosopher, artist, composer and peace ambassador from New York.

After spending three days in Nadi, Sri Chinmoy travelled to Suva yesterday.

He will hold a free peace concert tomorrow at the Suva Civic Centre.

During the concert, Sri Chinmoy will perform his own compositions on a variety of instruments.

Members of Sri Chinmoy Centres International have flown in from America, Canada, Britain, France, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Russia for the Pacific tour.

Sri Chinmoy International’s public relations officer, Nishtha Baum, described the movement as a non-denominational group with members from different walks of life.

Ms Baum said that in this way, Sri Chinmoy would evoke a peaceful atmosphere to create a lasting sense of inner peace.

“A master of meditation, Sri Chinmoy, infuses his music with a spiritual quality that touches people’s hearts in a most unusual way.”

According to Sri Chinmoy, this experience of inner peace is the cornerstone for world peace.

“Many who have witnessed his deep trance-like meditations and haunting music have described it as a transforming experience,” said Ms Baum.

Sri Chinmoy has staged hundreds of such peace concerts around the world and written books explaining his philosophy of peace.

Sri Chinmoy and his accompanying students will also sponsor a Masters track meet for men and women over 50 at the National Stadium next Wednesday afternoon.

The track meet is part of his programme of promoting the cause of peace through sports.

The organisation sponsors sporting events like a peace run and a round-the-world relay.

Ms Baum said that Sri Chinmoy, a champion sprinter in his youth, sometimes participates in track meets.

Sri Chinmoy comes to Fiji after a nine-day visit to Western Samoa where he staged two peace concerts and paid a courtesy call on the head of state, Malietoa Tanumafili II.

His current tour also includes stops in the Cook Islands and Tahiti.


SRI Chinmoy ... on tour in the Pacific with a 210-strong group. 

Published on page 14 of THE FIJI TIMES, Tuesday, January 4, 1994