During lectures and meetings of the Peace Meditation Group at UN Headquarters in New York, Sri Chinmoy was asked many questions about meditation, spirituality and the inner and outer role of the United Nations. Below are just a few of his interesting and illumining answers. which continue to offer great insight, wisdom and hope for a peaceful oneness-world.
As excerpted from My Meditation-Service at the United Nations for 25 Years:
For questions and answers formatted for printing, click on the links below, taken from handouts made available to delegates and staff who attended meetings of the Peace Meditation Group at UN Headquarters in New York.
Question: What should our attitude be towards working at the United Nations?
Sri Chinmoy: Our attitude should be one of conscious self-giving. The more we can give soulfully, the sooner we shall find satisfaction in what we are doing or what we are growing into. Each individual has something to offer to the world at large. We have only to do it.
At the United Nations we have to deal with many individuals. If we find it difficult to give ourselves to certain individuals or countries because of some unhappy experiences, at least we should cultivate an attitude of forgiveness. When we feel that we have enemies around us and harbour wrong thoughts towards them, we actually forget our own goal. We think only of how to conquer or annihilate our enemies. This becomes our goal. If this is our goal, what kind of progress are we going to make?
At every moment we can be assailed by negative or undivine thoughts. Again, at every moment with our inner will we can create good thoughts, loving thoughts, illumining thoughts, fulfilling thoughts. If these thoughts are fed by the heart, then only can they function properly and grow into self-giving actions. Right now we use the term ‘self-giving’ precisely because we have not sufficiently cultivated or developed the capacity that makes us feel that we are of the One and for the many. We have not yet discovered our universal oneness. But once we discover our oneness with the rest of the world, we come to realise that there is no such thing as self-giving. What we call self-giving is only the fulfilment of our own inner awakening. When my hand does something for my leg, it is not regarded as self-giving because my hand and my leg are part and parcel of one reality.
Unfortunately, at the present state of our evolution, we do not have the capacity to feel everyone as our own. So let us start with the idea of self-giving. We shall give what we have and what we are. If there are adversaries or others who do not see eye to eye with us, then we have to move forward on the strength of our capacity to forgive or forget. We shall not forget the divine purpose within us, but we will forget the unhappy or unhealthy experiences we get from others while we are trying to serve our ideals. And we shall forgive those who give us these bad experiences. Only in this way can we most effectively serve the United Nations.
—21 September 1976 (p. 95)
Question: What can be done about the large gap between the high ideals of the United Nations and routine daily life in the Secretariat offices?
Sri Chinmoy: Indeed, there is often a large gap, a yawning gulf, between the high ideals of the United Nations and the daily experiences of those who work in the Secretariat. Right now the vision and the reality are two different aspects of the same Absolute Supreme. The vision is high, higher, highest—reaching to the ever-transcending Height. The reality is often discouraging and disheartening.
But the soul of the United Nations will never fail. Unconditionally it will carry the body, the vital and the heart of the United Nations to the destined Goal, transforming today’s vision into tomorrow’s reality. And that reality will be infinitely brighter than our present-day vision can even imagine. Right now we have only a vague idea of what the future will be like. This idea is a product of our mind. But we have to transcend the idea-world in order to enter into the ideal-world, that is to say, the world of illumining and fulfilling ideals. The ideal-world that beckons us is far above and far beyond our present-day vision.
Just because today there is often a yawning gulf between vision and reality, between our idea of the future and the ideal that actually awaits us, we cannot say that we shall always be doomed to failure. We cannot say that the present-day hope, which is nothing short of frustration, can never meet with the ultimate fulfilment, which is the promise from Above. No, we must continue to strive for perfection.
Each individual, either consciously or unconsciously, has sown the seeds of hope. This hope is inseparably one with each individual’s inner cry, which we call aspiration. Aspiration ultimately will be transformed into realisation, and realisation, in due course, will be manifested. At that time, vision and reality, idea and ideal, will become one.
The vision of the soul of the United Nations and of all those who are consciously aspiring for a new oneness-world, a world of unity, will never fail. Slowly, steadily and unerringly, the seeker-servers here will change the present fate and face of the United Nations. It is the seekers now serving the United Nations who will sooner or later bring to the fore the inner message of the United Nations and transform the idea of the United Nations into the ideal of a oneness-world.
Each time we pray and meditate at the United Nations, let us energise our hope. When we dive deep within, let us try to remind ourselves of the lofty promise that we are carrying. The physical in us, the vital in us, the mental in us are embodying hope. At the same time, the Divine in us is embodying promise. When hope and promise work together, fulfilment cannot remain a far cry. So with our inner hunger, our burning flames of aspiration, let us climb up what we call the realisation-tree. Then, when we climb down, we will call it the manifestation-tree. While we are climbing up, in one sense we are still in the world of ideas. But when we are climbing down, in a broad and vast sense we will be in the world of ideals.
By climbing up the realisation-tree and by climbing down the manifestation-tree, we shall solve the problem of the gap between vision and reality. Vision and reality need not and must not remain two separate entities. They are bound to be unified and remain inseparably one.
– From questions answered on 18 January and 22 February 1983 (p. 127)
Question: How can the knowledge of spirituality help professional people in their efforts to serve mankind through their work?
Sri Chinmoy: First of all, let us try to know that spirituality is not something abstract and uncertain, something that encourages us to leave the world, something that is only for the chosen few. No! Spirituality is certainty itself; and, if it is true spirituality, it always encourages us to accept life. Spirituality is the simplification of life, not the rejection or negation of life.
Each individual has something to do here on earth, so he consciously or unconsciously throws himself into multifarious activities. He wants to get everything done sooner than at once so that he can go on to something better, something more illumining and fulfilling. There is a direct route or shortcut that an individual can follow to reach his destination. This is the way of concentration, which is the first rung in the spiritual ladder. If we concentrate on the thing that we are supposed to do, we bring to the fore or bring down from Above extra capacity, confidence and assurance. If we can concentrate before each undertaking, we will not only simplify our task but also expedite a satisfactory result.
It is like this. All along the route to our destination are doubt-trees, insecurity-trees, hesitation-trees, anxiety-trees and worry-trees. They are lying across the road blocking our path. Concentration clears the road of these obstacles. It transforms doubt into faith, insecurity into security and so forth. Everything discouraging becomes encouraging and helpful as we move towards our destination. And that is only the first step. After concentration clears the road of confusion, meditation will purify and illumine our mind so that we see that the goal is not only right in front of us but also within us. This is the second rung of the ladder. Finally, when we reach the final rung of the ladder, contemplation, we realise that we are the goal itself. This moment we are the seeker running after the goal; the next moment we have become the goal itself.
So, if we want efficiency and perfection in our profession, then spirituality is the only answer. No matter what we want to achieve from life and in life, spirituality can help us. It simplifies, purifies, illumines, fulfils and immortalises our existence. It is the only way to make us feel that we need the goal, to show us how to reach the goal and to make us clearly see that we are nothing other than the goal itself. Spirituality is not something uncertain, vague, meaningless or fruitless. No! It is not only meaningful and fruitful but also illumining and fulfilling. And inside illumination and fulfilment is the satisfaction that we want.
—29 October 1975 (p. 84)
Question: How can you dedicate each task you do to the soul of the United Nations?
Sri Chinmoy: You can dedicate each task you do to the soul of the United Nations only if you feel this will expedite and accelerate your own progress. If you separate your own progress from that of the United Nations, then you will not be able to dedicate each task to the soul of the United Nations. You have to feel that your own progress and the fulfilment of the United Nations are one and identical.
– 26 November 1976 (p. 106)
Question: What is the best way to bring a divine consciousness to our everyday activities at the United Nations?
Sri Chinmoy: The best way to bring a divine consciousness to your everyday activities at the United Nations is to consciously and soulfully make yourself feel that you are of the one Source and you are trying to manifest this Source by working to create a new world in the heart of the present-day world.
– 26 November 1976 (p. 106)
Question: How can I work with true spontaneity and sincerity at the United Nations?
Sri Chinmoy: You can work with true spontaneity and sincerity at the United Nations if you discover your own heart’s spontaneity and cultivate your own life’s sincerity at every moment of your conscious existence on earth.
– 26 November 1976 (p. 107)
Question: Should the body of the United Nations remain fluid so that the soul of the United Nations can more easily manifest itself?
Sri Chinmoy: Yes, it is especially good not to have a rigid way of looking at life. If you are flexible in your ideas, if you are adaptable to circumstances, then it is infinitely easier to manifest the truth not only here at the United Nations but everywhere. The outer reality or the outer consciousness has to be flexible so that the inner reality and inner vision can manifest itself most effectively.
– 26 November 1976 (p. 107)
Question: What can we do to help humanity become more receptive to the United Nations efforts towards peace?
Sri Chinmoy: Individually as well as collectively, humanity is often unwilling to accept help from others. People suspect others’ help no matter in what form it is offered. Since outer efforts to help humanity become receptive to peace need not and may not bear any fruit, it is necessary to offer inner help—that is to say, to pray and meditate for peace, joy, love and oneness.
We have to work on the inner level in order to reach the heart of humanity. Outer efforts, outer help, will be of little avail. It is the inner effort to bring about peace inside the heart and mind of each individual that can help humanity in a very tangible form. This inner effort can make those who are unreceptive, receptive, and those who are already receptive, abundantly more receptive.
– From questions answered on 18 January and 22 February 1983 (p. 133)
Question: How can we help the pilots of the United Nations—the Secretary-General and the Directors?
Sri Chinmoy: The pilots of the United Nations need our service, not our help. The moment we use the term ‘help,’ a kind of egocentric idea enters into us. If we help someone, that means we are in a superior position. When we help, we feel that we are one step ahead or one step higher than the ones whom we are helping. But if we serve someone, then we offer our capacity with humility, on the strength of our loving concern and oneness. So let us use the proper term: ‘service.’
How can we serve the Secretary-General, who is the main pilot of the United Nations, and others who are high authorities at the United Nations? Let us call them the hero-warriors of the United Nations, since they are in the battlefield of life fighting for world peace, world-oneness, world-illumination and world-perfection. These members of the human family, our brothers and sisters, have gone out to fight against the undivine forces, which do not want world harmony and keep the nations of the world apart.
But we can serve the same supreme cause through our constant prayer and good will. Our prayers will undoubtedly be an additional strength to them while they are standing against disharmony and conflict. The pilots of the United Nations are serving mankind in the world arena, according to their capacity. We can also do the same type of service on a limited scale, according to the capacity we have. Our prayer has solid strength. This solid strength we can offer to them in silence, from our inner life of dedication to the world.
—21 April 1976 (p. 87)
Question: How should a seeker at the United Nations deal with staff members who do not want to work and who even block the work of others?
Sri Chinmoy: If a truth-seeker and God-lover working at the United Nations sees that some of his colleagues are not working devotedly and even go to the length of blocking his soulful efforts, then he can do only one thing. He must pray to the Supreme to grant him patience—more patience, abundant patience, boundless patience. Has he not exercised this same precious quality with respect to the members of his own family—that is to say, his own body, vital, mind and heart? In his own life he wants to make progress. He wants to run fast, faster, fastest along with the blossoming divinity of the United Nations. But because of the resistance or incapacities of his own mind, vital and body, he himself is lagging behind.
Let us say a particular worker has a tremendous urge to make progress and to see others make progress. He is eager to see the vision of the United Nations flower among all the nations of the world. But some of his friends and colleagues do not see eye to eye with him or are not energetic enough to keep pace with him. Sometimes even his own body, vital and mind place obstacles in his way. But there shall come a time when he is bound to succeed. His inner eagerness and willingness to see and help bring about an infinitely better United Nations will not go in vain. Right now what he needs is patience. Let him do as much as he can, inwardly and outwardly. As he illumines his own nature, he will be in a position to offer light to those who are in ignorance. In the course of time his own illumining accomplishments will illumine others.
Seeker-workers at the United Nations who are conscious of what they are doing and what they are going to become will be the harbingers of a new dawn, no matter in which capacity they are working. Their seemingly insignificant jobs represent unmistakably significant ways to achieve something abiding for the United Nations. It is not what we do, but how and why we do something that matters. If the answers to those questions are the right ones, then our contributions will, without fail, be unique.
– From questions answered on 18 January and 22 February 1983 (p. 135)
Question: How can a person detach himself emotionally from irritating people and situations?
Sri Chinmoy: First you have to identify yourself with the person who is creating the irritation. Suppose you are in your office and somebody is creating unnecessary problems. If you get angry with him, that will not solve the problem. Instead, you will be tortured inwardly by your anger even while you are being tortured outwardly by the person. If you allow yourself to become angry, you will only lose your own inner strength. But if you come down to the standard of that person and identify with him, you will see that he himself is very unhappy and, therefore, consciously or unconsciously he is trying to make others unhappy as well. The moment you identify with the person who is creating the situation, half your irritation will go away. At the same time, your presence inside that person’s ignorance will take away half the strength of his attack.
Another way to avoid becoming involved in irritating situations is to invoke peace. For a spiritual person, it is always advisable to bring down peace from Above. While invoking peace you will feel enormous strength inside you and around you. The power of inner peace is infinitely greater, infinitely more solid and concrete, than any outer situation that anybody on earth can create. Your inner peace can easily devour the irritation that somebody else causes you. If you are in the office, it may be difficult to invoke peace. If you pray in front of others, they will only misunderstand you and mock you. But if there is a quiet corner where you can meditate undisturbed by others and bring down peace, then you can do it even in your office. Otherwise, the best thing to do is to invoke peace during your morning and evening meditations, and to keep that peace locked inside your heart to be used whenever you need it most during the day.
—23 March 1973 (p. 276)
Question: How can we avoid tension when doing a project under pressure?
Sri Chinmoy: Before we enter into a project, we must sincerely feel that we have been given the necessary capacity to accomplish it. Then, once we undertake it, we have to bring to the fore our inner determination and inner faith. After that, in silence we must say to ourselves that the project that we have undertaken has already been done on the inner plane.
Let us take the inner plane as a higher plane and feel that we have a free access to this higher plane. Let us envision a tree right in front of us. The topmost branches, where the fruits are, we can call the higher plane. Once we climb up and pluck some fruits, we have accomplished our project on the inner plane. But this particular plane is not the plane of manifestation which is at the foot of the tree. So it is obligatory for us to climb down to reach the outer plane.
If we feel that we have already climbed up the tree and plucked the fruits and that now we only have to climb down, we will have much more confidence. If we are sure that something has already been achieved on the inner plane, it is much easier to manifest it on the outer plane. From beginning to end, the one thing that is of paramount importance is confidence. We have to feel that we can do something, that we shall do it and that we have already done it. If we say we can do it, we are not fooling ourselves; if we say we will do it eventually, we are not fooling ourselves. And if we say we have already done it, we are not deceiving ourselves either. For on the inner plane we have already done it on the strength of our inner faith and determination.
—8 March 1978 (p. 295)
Question: How can staff at the United Nations with seemingly insignificant jobs contribute to world peace?
Sri Chinmoy: In the outer life there are significant jobs and insignificant jobs, significant people and insignificant people. But in the inner life everybody is significant, everybody is meaningful, everybody is fruitful; every job is significant far beyond our imagination. There is no such thing as an insignificant job in the inner world. It is not the work as such, but how we accomplish the work, how we fulfil our task, that is of supreme importance. The divine attitude of the worker is of paramount importance.
In the inner world significant things are achieved only if we have the proper attitude, and significant workers are those who are fully awakened to the lofty messages of the United Nations. According to the soul of the United Nations, the seeker-workers who want to serve the world sincerely and sleeplessly are far better and more important than those who hold high positions but do not care to dive within to become one with the Source or abide by the dictates of the Inner Pilot of the United Nations. Those who are awakened, those who are truly self-giving, those who are ready to serve the world body devotedly and soulfully in any capacity—no matter how insignificant from the superficial outer point of view—are the real United Nations servers. It is they who will continuously add glory to the achievements of the United Nations.