Question: How can we be joyful in spite of life’s difficulties?
SRI CHINMOY: How can we be joyful? Give selflessly. We get joy not by coming forward before others, but by bringing others to the fore. Real joy is experienced by self-giving, not by possessing or showing our own supremacy. When we allow others to get joy first, we feel our joy is more complete and more perfect.
We can have more joy and less tension in life only in self-giving, not in demanding. When there is tension, it is because we want something to be done in our own way. We become tense because we see light in one way and others see light in some other way. So there is no peace, no poise, only tension. Understand that God operates not only in us, but in others as well and in our so-called enemies too. But these are not our real enemies. Our real enemies are our doubts, fears, anxieties and worries. When instead of trying to perfect others we try to perfect ourselves, then we will have joy.
If we do not expect anything from anyone, we will have joy. If we can know that we are not indispensable, that without us the world can go on perfectly well, we will have joy. This way, we can all have abundant joy in life.
Nobody can be as happy as a person who is detached. When we are attached to something or someone, we become a victim of that thing or person. If we want to have true joy and peace, we must be totally detached. Detachment does not mean that we shall not work for the world—we will work for the world, be in the world, but we shall not allow ourselves to be carried away by anything.
The outer sign of progress is inner joy. Inner joy is something very sweet and intense; it always fulfills our thoughts and actions. There are two kinds of joy—outer joy and inner joy. We think that the possessor of outer joy is someone else, not ourselves. Again, we may try to get joy by talking or mixing with others. But inner joy is not got like this. When we meditate or contemplate, at that time we feel that we are the soul of joy. We get real joy from silent and profound meditation. In the outer life, when we talk and mix with people, or exchange ideas with others, we may get a kind of satisfaction. But this is not real joy. Real joy is something very deep, illumining and fulfilling. The joy we feel inside is like a fountain; it comes spontaneously. Inner joy has no fear and it can transform our nature.
When the heart is open, you will feel boundless joy, boundless love and boundless purity. Then you will see joy in everything. A day will come when you will get spontaneous joy from everything. You will look at a flower and get joy, you will look at a child and get joy, and you will look at the world and get joy. You will also get peace and the feeling of universal oneness.
Question:What is the relationship between our soul and God?
SRI CHINMOY: We know that there is something that we call the soul. The soul is the representative of God here on earth, a spark of God. Who is God? God is our own highest reality. He is in the soul and with the soul, guiding it constantly. A human being can never be separated from God. God is playing His divine Game and at each moment He is revealing Himself in and through us. God has a particular divine mission to fulfil through your unique soul. To fulfil this mission, He will utilise your soul and no other as His chosen instrument.
In the Hindu tradition, atman and paramatman are the individual soul and the Supreme Self. God comes down into manifestation and takes the form of the individual soul. Then the individual soul in the process of its evolution reaches and becomes the Supreme Self. That is why in India we say atmanam viddhi, or “know thyself”. If you know yourself, then you know God, because in essence there is no difference between you and God. Self-realisation is God-realisation. In the same vein, all the esoteric traditions have maintained that true knowledge is found within. That is why Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.”
Right now when we think of ourselves, we think of our body and not our soul. Unfortunately, we identify ourselves all the time with our lowest part. Our being is like a house that belongs to us. We do not use the third floor at all, but spend most of our time in the basement or on the first floor. Since we spend most of our time there, we feel the basement is our reality. The third floor is also ours, if only we can find our way there.
The total process of evolution on earth includes the soul as well as the physical form. The soul fights against doubt, obscurity, ignorance, imperfection, limitations, worries and so forth. It tries to reveal its own inner divinity and establish the divine Truth on earth according to its capacity. 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.
The soul has already realised God. It is a portion of God and it is eternally for God. It is only the human being—our body, vital, mind and heart—that must realise God, but not the soul proper. The soul proper must manifest God to the world at large; that is why the soul has come into the world.
Question: How should I do meditation if I have never done it before?
SRI CHINMOY: When we meditate, what we actually do is enter into a vacant, calm, still, silent mind. We go deep within and approach our true existence, which is our soul. Meditation is the conscious feeding of our soul. If we eat every day, we become very strong because of our regular nourishment. So also when we meditate every day the soul is being nourished. Then it gets the opportunity to manifest itself better, that is to say, to manifest the Divine on earth.
As a beginner, first try to be calm and quiet for five minutes at least three times a day: in the morning, at noon and in the evening. You do not have to actually do any kind of meditation. Just feel that these five minutes belong to you and nobody else. Act like a miser. Feel that you are not going to give these five minutes to anybody, not to your relatives or your friends, or your enemies—nobody. These five minutes are absolutely yours. When you are with yourself this is not self-centered ego. Here, ‘you’ means you in your highest form. Your highest form is God, and you are growing into this highest form.
Regularity is necessary. Although we are regular, we may not give first importance to our meditation. But if we give importance to our meditation and are wholeheartedly sincere then automatically our power of meditation will increase.
The main thing is not to become discouraged. When you begin taking exercise, you cannot do it for more than five minutes. But if you practice daily, then after a few months you can take exercise for an hour or two. What we need is regular practice at a regular time. If you can mediate early in the morning at a particular hour, then try to continue meditating every day at that hour. At that hour, God will knock at your heart’s door. Open it and He will offer you His Peace, Light, Bliss and Power.
“There is nothing worth knowing but the soul.
There is nothing worth becoming but God.”
Question: Often when I try to practice non-attachment to the things I love or feel are mine, I become angry. Have I misunderstood something?
SRI CHINMOY: Yes, you have misunderstood something. One thing is renunciation and 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 body, vital, mind, heart and soul. If you decide to renounce or neglect the body then what will happen to the temple that houses the soul? If you dislike or hate your body-consciousness that means you have forgotten that inside your body is God.
If you renounce your vital, thinking that it is 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 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 again is the wrong attitude. Your heart is the messenger of divine love and fulfillment. Its weakness must be transformed into strength.
So if you simply renounce and discard your physical, vital, mental or psychic existence, then 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. What you have to renounce immediately is the imperfection and the wrong thinking in yourself. These are the things 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 and your feeling of oneness with the Absolute, the highest Truth. These are the things you will not renounce.
Again, in the spiritual life there comes a time when you realise that you do not renounce anything; you only transform. Feel you 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, and transform it with your inner light.
Question: How can we live a life of true joy and real meaning?
SRI CHINMOY: True inner joy is self-created. It does not depend on outer circumstances. To live in joy is to live the inner life. This is the life that leads to self-realisation. Self-realisation is God-realisation, for God is nothing than the Divinity that is deep inside each one of us, waiting to be discovered and revealed. We may also refer to God as the Inner Pilot or the Supreme. But no matter which term we use, we mean the Highest within us, that which is the ultimate goal of our spiritual quest.
Only if we feed the inner life can the outer life have real meaning. Three times a day we feed the body without fail. But again, there is deep inside us a divine child called our soul; we do not find time to feed this child. The soul is the conscious representative of God in us. Unless and until the soul-child is fulfilled, we can never be fulfilled in our outer life.
How do we make the connecting link between the inner life and the outer life? If we know the divine art of meditation, easily and consciously we can unite these two worlds. When we practise meditation, each moment becomes a golden opportunity to cast aside depression, frustration, anger, fear and other negative qualities and to bring forward the divine qualities of the inner world: love, peace, joy and light. Meditation gives us a natural and spontaneous life, a life that becomes so natural and spontaneous that we cannot breathe without being conscious of our own divinity.
A spiritual person should be a normal person, a sound person. In order to reach God, a spiritual person has to be divinely practical in his or her day-to-day activities. In divine practically, we share our inner wealth. We feel the divine motivation behind each action and share the results with others. Spirituality does not negate the outer life. The outer life should be the manifestation of the divine life within us.
For further information about the writings of Sri Chinmoy visit srichinmoy.org.