Two Boston Journalists
interview Sri Chinmoy
Question: Could you say a few words on your purpose in coming to the West?
Sri Chinmoy: In 1964 I came to the West to be of service to the Supreme in the aspiring mankind. To be absolutely true and honest, the Supreme in me, who is my Inner Pilot, commanded me to come to the West and serve Him in the West.
Question: Thank you very much. There seems to be a growing number of young people in the West who are interested in spirituality. Could you comment on that — if you see any reason for that or any future to it?
Sri Chinmoy: In the West people are very interested in the spiritual life and yoga. Especially the young generation is deeply interested in yoga. As we all know, yoga is conscious oneness with God. In order to establish this conscious oneness with God, we need to love from within, love from without. Young people today are crying for love. The love that binds is not the love that they are seeking. The love that expands, the love that emancipates, the love that makes them feel that they are of one and, at the same time, of many — this is the love that young people are seeking. Young men and young women have taken to the spiritual life precisely because they have felt an inner hunger for the divine love. I beg to be excused, but perhaps this love they did not get from their families or from their individual churches. If they had discovered or found this love in their parents, in their religious leaders, in their churches, then they would not have had to look for it in the Eastern approach.
The spiritual life is not the sole monopoly of India. Spirituality is for everyone. But there are different approaches. A Westerner is bound to have one approach to Reality; an Easterner will have another approach to Reality. But the Goal is the same. The Western approach is the approach of prayer, mostly of prayer. The Eastern approach, or Indian approach, let us say, is the approach of meditation. In yoga we try to synthesise the two approaches: prayer and meditation. We feel that one can realise God only through meditation, but again, if we know how to synthesise prayer and meditation, then we can expedite our spiritual journey. When we pray with folded hands, we feel that we are speaking to our Almighty Father and that He is listening to us. And when we meditate, we feel that He is talking to us and we are listening to Him. It is like the conversation we are having right now. You are asking me something and I am listening. Then it goes the other way. When we pray, we reach high, higher, highest. And when we meditate, we bring down into our system Peace, Light and Bliss from above. Seekers in the young generation want to speak to God and also they want to hear God’s Voice. Only if we pray can we go up, up, up and tell God what we have to say. And when we meditate we also hear what our Lord has to tell us. So the seekers feel the need of both approaches; that is why they are inclined to follow the path of yoga.
Question: Why at this period in history is the West, which has been developing materialistically, now beginning to develop spiritually?
Sri Chinmoy: Now that the West has reached the pinnacle of material prosperity, the West feels in the inner world that it is totally bankrupt. In this world everybody wants satisfaction. A poor man wants satisfaction, a multimillionaire wants satisfaction. But a multimillionaire may come to realise that no matter how much money he has, even if he wallows in the pleasures of wealth, he may not or, let us say, he cannot get even an iota of real satisfaction. That is because satisfaction is an inner awakening, an inner achievement, an inner realisation. The West has been blessed by material wealth, material gifts; but what the West has is not enough to make it happy. So now the West wants to be blessed by inner wealth, which is satisfaction. The West feels that if it dives deep within and listens to the dictates of its inner being, the Inner Pilot, then inner satisfaction is bound to loom large. The message of matter the West has always listened to and fulfilled. But now it wants to listen to and fulfil the message of spirit. Not only is material perfection needed, but the perfection of the spirit is also needed.
It is like having two friends. I have listened to one friend all the time and now I feel I have to pay some attention to the other friend. Matter is not to be neglected; it is also God’s creation. But if we listen to the dictates of the spirit, then only can material wealth be used for the right cause, for a divine purpose. Let us say matter is the body and spirit is our inner existence. If there is no body, how can we manifest? The soul is within us, but in order to manifest its divinity, the soul needs the body. And again, the body needs the soul in order to realise the highest, the Absolute. If there is no deity inside the body, then the body is of no use. Again, how can a deity remain in the street? It has to have a home.
What the West is doing now is diving deep within in order to become the life of silence. Once it has become the life of silence, then it can become the life of sound, expression, revelation. At this stage, the West feels that realisation is of paramount importance. And once realisation has taken place, then this truth can easily be offered to mankind. So the West is entering into the inner world in order to bring to the fore the wealth of the inner world.
Question: Could you say something about your activities at the U.N.?
Sri Chinmoy: At the United Nations there are many nations united together. The United Nations is like a lotus that has many petals. Each petal is necessary in order to form the lotus. Each nation has something to offer to the world at large. Twice a week we offer our devoted and dedicated service to the soul and the body of the U.N. We go there to invoke the presence of the soul of the U.N. We try to elevate the consciousness of the delegates, representatives and members of the staff. The delegates and representatives are trying to bring to the fore the good qualities of each nation in a political way. They want to bring about Peace, Light and Bliss in infinite measure so that the world will not surrender to war, but to love. Through our prayer and meditation we are trying to do the same thing, so that the world will not surrender to war, but to love. Through our prayer and meditation we are trying to do the same thing, but our approach is the inner approach. We are not saying that our approach is better. Far from it. But we feel that if we sow the seed, then it will eventually become a tiny plant, and finally it will grow into a banyan tree and produce flowers and fruits. This is our way. We feel that the seed has just germinated. They feel that the tree is already there, that the flowers and fruits are there, and that it is up to the world to accept the fruits, to eat the fruits and become energetic and dynamic.
Question: How do you find the response; do you find it is growing?
Sri Chinmoy: Yes, it is growing like anything. Previously it was like a hard rock, but now we feel that it is like fertile soil. It is responding. It is not only because we are praying and meditating, but because the U.N. members also have an inner urge to do the right thing, to grow into the divine light. It works in two ways. We will never say that we are working very hard and that is why we are getting the benefit. No. I have taken one step ahead and you have also taken one step ahead. So we are coming to a meeting point. The inner world is coming forward with its inner wealth and the outer world is then entering into the inner world with its aspiration. So they are meeting together.
Question: How did you come to begin doing this work at the U.N.?
Sri Chinmoy: The U.N. authorities were kind enough to give me the opportunity to be of service. That was in 1970. Since then, it has been extremely easy for us to be of real service. Also, the late Secretary-General, U Thant, was extremely nice and kind to us. He showered his goodwill, affection, love and admiration on us for our selfless service. I had the golden opportunity to meet with him on a few occasions. He came to one of our functions and he encouraged our activities right from the beginning. He observed our activities and he was extremely nice, sympathetic, kind and appreciative of our spiritual activities at the U.N. I have dedicated a copy of one of these magazines, Meditation at the United Nations, to the late Secretary-General. There are many dignitaries who offered their soulful tributes to him in this magazine. I will send you a copy. Pope Paul has also been very nice to us. He deeply appreciates our activities at the United Nations. I have had the occasion to have a private audience with him twice, so he knows all about our activities at the United Nations.
Question: Do you have any comments on the world food problem — the fact that many people are starving and more will be starving? Some people say that that is due to the fact that it requires much more grain today to feed a cow than a person would eat directly.
Sri Chinmoy: Speaking from the spiritual point of view, I wish to say there will always be some problem, either a food problem or physical problems, mental problems, vital problems, psychic problems. There will be no end to our problems. What we have to do is go to the root of all these problems. The root is ignorance. If I am making a mistake, then I have to rectify it all at once. If you are making a mistake, then it is your bounden duty to rectify it. If I know that I have done something or I am doing something wrong, then my inner awakening will prevent me from doing that thing. So it is not a matter of too little meat or too little grain. The real problem is ignorance. There are many things we do wrong every day; we can’t help ourselves. We have surrendered to ignorance. That is why problems are in our mind, problems are in our body, problems are in our vital. Problems are everywhere. These problems can be solved only when we can surrender to the light, the inner divinity within us.
Question: Can you explain to us your philosophy of love, devotion and surrender?
Sri Chinmoy: We all know human love. Human love is to possess and be possessed. We feel that today or tomorrow we will possess someone. But to our wide astonishment, we find that before we possess that person we ourselves are mercilessly possessed by that person. Once we have possessed someone, we feel that we are strangling that person in the name of love, or we are already strangled in the name of love. But divine love is not possession. Divine love is only expansion. Real love is total oneness with the object loved and with the Possessor of Love. Who is the Possessor of Love? God. Love is the inner bond that connects man with God. We must always approach God through love. Love is the first step. The second step is devotion. The third step is surrender.
In the human world, devotion is attachment. We feel that if we are attached to someone, then we will get Peace, Light and Bliss from that person in abundant measure. But eventually we come to realise that our attachment is nothing short of our ignorance. We feel that if we are attached to a human being, we will get what he has and what he is. But, unfortunately, what he has is darkness and what he is is ignorance. And when he is attached to us, we do not feel that we are able to give any light to him. So attachment is something that constantly is taking us away from our reality. But if we have real devotion, devotion to a higher cause, to some higher reality, to the light within us, to the truth above us, at that time the highest Truth can operate in and through us. Attachment is to the world around us, the world which is full of ignorance. But when we are devoted, we enter into a higher world to bring down Peace, Light and Bliss from above and bring to the fore our own inner divinity. This is devotion.
Then comes surrender. We can surrender to our boss, who is equally ignorant and who will lord it over us, or a slave can listen to his master out of fear. That is one kind of surrender. But spiritual surrender is different. It does not arise from compulsion; it comes spontaneously from our joy, inner joy. In surrender to God, I become one with Infinity and I feel Infinity as my own reality.
There is a great difference between the surrender of laziness or utter helplessness and dynamic surrender, which is surcharged with aspiration. If out of laziness or helplessness we say, “I have surrendered. Now I don’t have to do anything,” this is not enough. Our surrender has to be dynamic, constantly aspiring to grow into or merge into the Infinite. Our surrender has to be conscious and spontaneous. When we surrender consciously and spontaneously to the infinite Truth, Peace, Light and Bliss, we become a perfect channel for these qualities to manifest in and through us on earth. In the West, surrender has been badly misunderstood. Here surrender is seen as submission to something or to somebody else. It is seen as a loss of individuality, an extinction of individuality. But this view of spiritual surrender is a mistake. If we really want to be one with the Infinite, the Ultimate, the Boundless, then we have to enter into it. It is like the tiny drop surrendering its individuality and entering into its source, the vast ocean. At that time, it doesn’t lose anything. It becomes the ocean itself. When we enter into the Ultimate, we do not lose our so-called little individuality. On the contrary, we become the Infinite itself. On the strength of our total oneness, we and the Infinite become indivisible.
When we surrender to God, we feel that God is our most illumined existence. The difference between man and God is this: man is God yet to realise totally who he is, and God is man yet to be fully manifested. Man is God; he is definitely God, but he has not realised fully who he is. And God is man, but He has not yet fully manifested Himself on earth. When we surrender our earthly existence to the divinity within us, we come to realise that man and God are one and identical.
Question: What is the cause of this separation between man and God?
Sri Chinmoy: The cause of this separation is ignorance. We feel that “I” and “my” will give us real joy. It is like a child. If he is very energetic, dynamic or aggressive, he feels satisfaction only when he strikes someone or breaks something. That is his satisfaction; that is his peace. But a grown-up gets joy only by remaining calm and quiet and tranquil. Unfortunately, individuals feel that by maintaining their individuality and personality they can be happy. But that is wrong. Only by entering into universality can we be happy. Individuality and personality will derive satisfaction only from universality. A tiny drop, when it enters into the ocean and loses its individuality and personality, becomes what the infinite ocean is. But before that, if it fights for its own individual existence, what can it do as just a tiny drop? So it is the ignorance in the drop that makes the drop feel that it can be satisfied by maintaining a sense of separativity. It is absurd.
Question: What about the fact that we take physical incarnations? Isn't that separation right there? I mean, just the fact that we all live in individual homes and do different tasks and things like that?
Sri Chinmoy: Yes, but this is not individuality; It is only the necessity that comes from having respective tasks. With my hand I write, with my mouth I eat, with my eyes I see. But even though I do different things with the different parts of my body, we have to know that all are members of the same family. Each individual also will do what he is supposed to do, but not with a sense of ego. He will do it with a sense of oneness. God has given me the capacity to do a particular thing. He has given you the capacity to do something else. So let us combine our capacity. But I will not say that my capacity is superior to yours and you will not say that your capacity is the only capacity worth having. The difficulty with the world is that everyone feels that he is infinitely more important than everyone else. Here is where the problem starts. You stay with your capacities, I stay with mine, and we don’t unite our capacities. That is why problems start.
Question: When people in America began to take an interest in Eastern spirituality, many of them were disillusioned with social action and the consciousness of social problems, and they just wanted to meditate and be quiet. But now people are beginning to form communities to work together and to develop a little bit of that sense you were talking about. What is your view of the relation between spirituality and social consciousness?
Sri Chinmoy: Spirituality and social consciousness must go together. Spirituality is not for the recluse. It is not only for a limited number of people who go off to the Himalayan caves. If someone feels that by entering into a Himalayan cave he will do the best type of meditation, he is making a deplorable mistake. Again, if someone feels that he will go to Central Park and sing and dance, and that this is spirituality, he is also wrong. We are going from one extreme to another. We have to have a balance. In my own way, I shall pray and invoke the Supreme, who comes first in my life. Then I shall go to the office and share with my colleagues the inner wealth which I have achieved, or I shall throw light on the activities that I am involved in. Meditation and the everyday life have to go together.
But first we have to know the supreme secret. The supreme secret is God comes first. From the One we go to the many. It is like a tree with many branches. How am I going to get to the branches unless I first climb up the trunk? Early in the morning, if I pray and meditate, that means that I am climbing up the tree. Then after two hours, when I enter into the office, that is like going to the different branches of life. This is how we can combine spirituality with society. Society is like the branches and spirituality is the tree trunk.
Question: What is the purpose of ignorance?
Sri Chinmoy: In this world there is light, more light, abundant light, boundless light and infinite Light. If we take ignorance as destruction, then we are mistaken. We have to see that what we call ignorance consists of limited light. Even in the darkest night there is some light. Otherwise, we couldn’t exist at all. A child, in comparison to his elder brother, naturally is ignorant; but the child also has some light in him. So what we call ignorance is light in a different form. I as an individual, you as an individual and she as an individual have limited light — let us say infinitesimal light — compared to God, who is infinite Light. But through our prayer and meditation, we are growing into God’s boundless and infinite Light and becoming all that God is and all that God has.
This life, as you know, is a kind of game that we play; we call it a cosmic Game. What we call ignorance is nothing short of an experience which God is having in and through us. If we become conscious of the fact that we are only His instruments, then we are not bound by ignorance. We see that there is someone, the Inner Pilot, who is playing His cosmic Game in and through us. If we know that we are mere instruments, then there is no ignorance, there is no light; there is only the Supreme, who is everything. He is the Doer, He is the action, He is the result; He is everything, everything. But if we feel or think that we are doing everything, we are making a Himalayan mistake.
Question: Is it necessary to have a Guru, or teacher, to come to this realisation?
Sri Chinmoy: The person who realised God for the first time didn’t have a human Guru; God was his Guru. But, at the same time, we have to be wise. In this world for everything we need a teacher. Knowledge we can get from books, but still we go to a school for years and years and study under the guidance of a teacher. We feel that if there is a teacher, then the teacher can expedite our journey. Otherwise, in the morning I shall study something and in the afternoon I will doubt whether the thing I learned is correct or incorrect. I am confused. But if the teacher says, “Yes, it is correct,” then immediately I will believe it. We need a spiritual Master in order to expedite our realisation.
A spiritual teacher is like a private tutor. In the ordinary life, when we go to school, the teacher gives us marks. If we fail the examination, then we have to study again and again. In the spiritual life it is not like that. In the spiritual life the tutor privately, and with much affection, teaches us how to stand bravely in front of ignorance and fight ignorance. A private tutor does not give marks; he only teaches the student how to pass the examination. This is what a spiritual Master does.
When I go to school and advance from primary school to high school to college and university, my teachers give me a diploma. But once I have my diploma, I don’t remain in the school. No. My professor has helped me in getting knowledge, wisdom; but once I have it, I don’t always remain his student. In the spiritual life also, once I realise the highest Truth, at that time I don’t have to be under the guidance of a Master.
If I know there is a way to reach my destination sooner than otherwise, then why should I act like a fool? I can come to Boston from New York by plane or by car. By plane if I come, it is a matter of half an hour, or forty-five minutes, whereas by car it takes me five hours. Now, if I can come here in half an hour, then I can do many things. I can have a most significant interview with you; I can hold a meditation in the evening, I can do many things. So time is a great factor. The sooner we can accomplish something, the better for us. God-realisation is our first goal, God-revelation is our second goal, God-manifestation is our third goal. We have three supreme tasks to fulfil. Our first task is still a far cry. So if we have a little wisdom, naturally we will try to run the fastest.
Question: The opportunity is not open to everyone. Not everyone finds the right teacher.
Sri Chinmoy: No sincere effort will end in failure. If I am sincere and if you are meant to be my teacher, God will bring us together. But again, there are many wrong forces operating in the world, and I may be deceived by somebody who is not meant for me. But this cannot go on forever. After some time, my own inner being will tell me that this Master is not meant for me.
There are many ways to know which Master is meant for me. The person who gives me the greatest joy is my Master, even if he is not someone who has millions of disciples. Many people make a Himalayan blunder. When they see that somebody has thousands and millions of disciples, immediately they think that he has something; otherwise, nobody would have gone to him. But this is absolutely wrong. Yes, he may have many disciples, but that doesn’t mean that you have to become his disciple. If you feel inner joy in his presence, if you feel from within that he is the right person, this is what matters. Unfortunately, it usually does not happen like that. People have no sense of discrimination; they don’t go deep within. To accept a Master is a most important thing, because it is the Master who guides, moulds and shapes the student in his life of aspiration.
If somebody says that there is a set fee, that if you give him thousands of dollars then God-realisation will come, kindly don’t believe him. If God-realisation could be achieved by material wealth, then all the rich people on earth would have realised God. But, unfortunately, it is not like that.
We are in a terrible hurry. If we hear that somebody can give us God-realisation overnight, we go. In the ordinary life, it takes us twenty-two years to get a Master’s degree, which represents ordinary human knowledge. So how can we expect to get the highest knowledge, inner knowledge, if we don’t study for ten or fifteen or twenty years? Our difficulty is that we want to simplify everything. We want to get everything ready-made, like instant coffee. But it is not like that. How can one get a Master’s degree in one day? He goes to kindergarten, high school, college and then one day he gets his Master’s degree. But if a kindergarten student feels that he can get his Master’s degree today just because his elder brother has got it, then he is just fooling himself. His elder brother has studied hard for twenty years. But then again, there are, unfortunately, some false Masters who tempt the seekers and say that they can give it overnight. Unfortunately, I don’t have that capacity.
I take my disciples’ spiritual life as a serious matter, a most serious matter. What I can give you will take time, and what you have to offer me, your aspiration, will also take time. Aspiration has to increase little by little. My role is to bring down Compassion from above and this also has to increase little by little. It is like this. On your part you will climb up and on my part I will come down and bring down light. There should be a simultaneous effort by the spiritual Master and the disciple. With his inner cry the disciple goes up, and the Master comes down with the Smile of God. This is the role of the spiritual Master. At this moment he identifies with the seeker and he climbs up with his disciple’s inner cry. Then the next moment he comes down with God’s Smile. The perfection of the seeker is his cry and the perfection of God is His Smile. When a seeker can cry from the inmost recesses of his heart, this is perfection. And when God smiles with his heart’s Delight, this is perfection.
Question: Do you believe there is only one teacher for each individual?
Sri Chinmoy: In the spiritual life there should be only one teacher, because spirituality is one subject. It is not like history, geography and science. In school we study different subjects and we need different teachers. But God-realisation is one subject, so we don’t need more than one teacher. But if you have studied under the guidance of a teacher and that teacher is unable to take you any farther, then what will you do? History you studied in primary school and you are also studying it in college. The teacher who taught you in primary school was not in a position to teach you in college. So naturally you had to find a different teacher since your first teacher could not take you to the highest course.
Question: What happens if you disagree with some of your Master's teachings?
Sri Chinmoy: If the Master is the right one, then the student is bound to feel the truth in the Master’s words, because the Master is the disciple’s own higher reality. If somebody is my Master, I have to know that my Master is my own illumined reality. He is not a different reality. No! Just because he is my higher, more illumined reality, I have to listen to him. If he is a different person, a different reality, then naturally I won’t be able to listen to him all the time and subscribe to his views. This moment he is telling something right, but the next moment he may tell me something totally wrong. But if he is my reality, which is infinitely more illumined, then how can he be different from me? And it won’t be difficult for me to listen to my highest reality.
Question: In the East there is more of a tradition of seeking a teacher like this. But in the West we are more into being individual. Could you comment on that please?
Sri Chinmoy: What you are saying right now does not apply. There was a time when the West did not feel the need of a teacher. But now the West does. Now you see the Indian Masters are coming and many people go to them to get inner instruction. There was a time when the West felt that it was beneath its dignity to listen to Eastern philosophy. But right now Eastern philosophy is not only accepted but embraced by the Western world.
Question: You experienced God-realisation. When did this happen and how did it change your life afterwards?
Sri Chinmoy: When I was twelve years old, I realised God. Actually this realisation took place in a previous incarnation, but it took me twelve years to revive and assimilate my inner powers in this incarnation. The inner book that I studied I knew well, but in this incarnation I had to revise it. To revise the book it took me about twenty years. I lived in an ashram in south India from the age of twelve to thirty two.
Question: And then you came to America?
Sri Chinmoy: Then I came to America. I did not have the vaguest thought of coming to the West, but my Inner Pilot commanded me to come here to be of service. I was brought up in a very small place in India and from there I was thrown into New York, the capital of the world, let us say. From where to where!
So again, it was my obedience that brought me here. I listened to the dictates of the Inner Pilot. Tomorrow if He tells me to go to some other place and be of service to Him there, I will gladly go, because for a God-lover there is no specific home. Wherever he is needed, wherever he is wanted, wherever he is commanded by the Supreme to go, there he has to be.
Question: How do you go about spreading your teachings? Do you write?
Sri Chinmoy: I have written considerably, That is to say, the Supreme in me has written about 240 books. Whether they are worth reading or not, God alone knows. But as I said, I am the instrument; He is writing in and through me. I just entered into the art world. Very recently I completed ten thousand paintings in three months’ time. But if I say that I did it, then I am telling the worst possible lie. The Supreme in me is doing it. And according to my receptivity, I am offering Him the opportunity to act in and through me.
It is just like sunlight. I can leave my windows and doors open and, again, I can keep all my doors and windows shut. If I allow the sunlight to enter into my room, then my room will be illumined. If I don’t allow it, then my room will be all darkness. It is the divine Grace that is operating.
Question: What is the greatest thing we can do for our children?
Sri Chinmoy: Here in the West, there is a kind of freedom that I do not endorse. Some parents say that America is the land of freedom and they give their children the freedom to find out for themselves what is best for them. I tell you, this policy has ruined thousands and millions of young children. In the formative years, when children are being brought up, parents should always tell the children what is best for them.
Parents say, “Let them grow up. When they get older they will see for themselves what is best for them.” This is what many parents have done in America and they have lost their children. When the child comes into existence I know the child needs milk. I feed the child milk. I do not say, “Let the child drink milk or water, whichever he prefers, and when he gets older he will realise that milk is better for him.” By that time he will have left the world. So what I know is best I will give. Let the child drink milk until he is ten or twelve years old and then, if he does not like milk, I shall let him drink something else.
If I know that the best thing for me to do early in the morning is to pray, I will encourage my child to do this. But if I say, “No, I have come to this realisation at the age of forty, so let my son also wait until he is ready,” then I am making a deplorable mistake. For forty years I did not accept the spiritual life but wallowed in life’s ignorance. How much I suffered and how much suffering I caused for my dear ones! But now I know that the spiritual life is the answer. So when I have the child in front of me, I will inspire him to pray and meditate. The thing that I feel is best I will tell my child. Then, when he grows up, if he feels that what I have said is not the right thing for him, then he can accept something else. But I shall guide him along the road I have discovered to be right until he is old enough to choose his own road.
In the beginning, if the child is not instructed, if the child is not taught, how will the child learn? The child cannot be left to learn in his own way. The lesson has to be given right from the beginning. I know a truth which I will tell my children. Later, if they discover that there is a higher truth or that the truth I have taught them is wrong, then let them reject it. But unfortunately, it is not happening this way in the West. Here I see thousands of children who have been misguided by their parents in the name of freedom.
Question: At what age can you get a child to start meditating?
Sri Chinmoy: Anytime, at the age of six months, even. Perhaps the child cannot utter a word, but if you are Christian, you can show him a picture of the Christ or something beautiful. God is expressing Himself through beauty. A child can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At that time, the flower itself is God for the child. Then, when the child can speak, let him say, “God” a few times as his prayer. As he advances in years, he can be taught higher meditations. We give our children the only real freedom when we give them the truth, the reality. Real freedom is not just to go and strike someone and move around like a vagabond. No. Real freedom is not to do anything we like. Real freedom is to do everything the way God wants us to do it. That is our freedom. God is all-Light, all-Freedom, and if we listen to Him, only then do we enjoy freedom.
Question: What do you think of marriage? And what do you think the spiritual place of a man and a woman is in this life?
Sri Chinmoy: It entirely depends on the individual. If an individual feels the need of marriage, I tell him that if he gets married, he can feel that he has four hands, four eyes and so on. He has double strength, double capacity.
Then again, if someone is not meant for marriage, if he doesn’t feel the necessity of marriage, then I tell him that he should feel he is running the fastest. There is nothing holding him back from his goal, whereas if he is married and the marriage does not work out, there will be tremendous suffering and life will become unbearable. So the individual has to make the choice.
There is no hard and fast rule that one cannot realise God if he is married or if he is not married. No! It all depends on what God wants from him. If he feels from within that God wants him to get married, that God wants him to have that experience, then he is doing the right thing by getting married. If he feels that God does not want him to marry, then he should not do it.
Question: Can a husband and wife have different teachers?
Sri Chinmoy: If the husband and wife have different teachers, it is like going to the same goal along two roads. Problems will arise if the husband says that his road is clear, sunlit, whereas the wife’s road is full of obstacles. Then trouble will start. But if the husband says, “I like this road and you like that road. So you go your own way, I will go my way, and we will reach the same destination,” then it is all right. If the husband does not try to convert the wife and the wife does not try to convert the husband, that is the right thing. But when a feeling of comparison or competition enters, then all is lost.
Question: But does the union of two people diminish at all when they are following two different paths to the same thing?
Sri Chinmoy: No. The only thing we have to know is how much understanding and respect they have for each other’s path. But it is always safe if they have the same Master, if they are walking along the same road. If the husband and wife follow the same path and the husband becomes tired, exhausted, assailed by doubt, then at that time the wife becomes his helper. And if the wife becomes assailed by doubt or fear, then the husband can be of real help. So if they follow the same path, it is a great advantage.
But if the wife says, “I want to follow the path of the heart,” and the husband says, “I want to follow the path of the mind,” what can they do? At that time the husband and wife have to be very careful. Each has to know that the other is doing the right thing, according to his or her own capacity and understanding. They should have mutual respect for each other’s realisation.
Question: What about the place of women in the spiritual life at this time of "women's liberation" and all that? What is the woman's real place in a spiritual sense and a man's real place?
Sri Chinmoy: In God’s Eye, there is no man, there is no woman. In God’s Eye they are one. Man is the face; woman is the smile. Without the face, how can there be a smile? Again, if there is no smile, what good is the face? So both are equally important.
Question: We don't want to take much more of your time.
Sri Chinmoy: I am so grateful. Nothing gives me greater joy than to be of dedicated service to you. Both of you have extremely beautiful souls, devoted, spiritual souls. You are serving God the Supreme, and I am also serving the Supreme. Here I have been doing something and you have been doing something. We are members of the same family. If I kept my capacity only for myself and if you kept your capacity only for yourselves, then we couldn’t become one. When we unite our capacities, then only is God pleased with us.
Journalist: Thank you very much.
Published in Sri Chinmoy Speaks, part 1
LEGION OF MARY HONOURS GURU AT U.N.
UNITED NATIONS -— The Legion of Mary, an international Catholic service organisation, presented Sri Chinmoy with its "Our Lady, Queen of Peace'' award during a meeting of The Peace Meditation at the United Nations on March 22.
The award was made by Dr. Charles Mercieca on behalf of the Legion.
The Master was also presented that day with the Albert Einstein Peace Medallion by the founder and president of the Albert Einstein International Academy Foundation, an educational and research organisation headquartered in Independence, Missouri.
Dr. Marcel Dingli-Attard, who made the presentation, is a Maltese diplomat.
Published in Anahata Nada, VOLUME 20, MID-DECEMBER 1990–MARCH 1991