Question: Does it help our spiritual progress to understand things intellectually?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not at all necessary to understand something intellectually. There have been many spiritual giants who don’t use the mind; they use the heart instead. On the strength of their heart’s oneness with God, they felt and realised everything. Understanding is a very tricky word. When today we understand something in a particular way, that very understanding may not satisfy us tomorrow. We may develop another kind of understanding and see that yesterday’s understanding was absolutely useless. So, to use the intellect is not the right way.

Again, the intellect may surrender to the heart’s oneness and say, “I don’t get abiding satisfaction from understanding intellectually. So let me get joy by identifying myself with the highest Reality.” The decisions of the mind are constantly changing, so we can never find real certainty and satisfaction on the path of the mind. But if we follow the path of the heart, we see that the heart immediately identifies with the Reality — no matter what the substance or the essence of the Reality is. If this is the substance, if this is the essence, then heart will claim it as its very own. If we want to learn something soulfully and understand it fully, then the heart is the answer.

Sometimes the mind is ashamed of its conduct, ashamed of its cruelty. It is merciless not only to the other members of its family, but also to its own existence. But by becoming cruel to others or to itself, the mind cannot solve its problem. Only by looking for a higher reality can the mind become as happy as the heart. And this it eventually is bound to do. To say that the mind will never cry for Light, that the mind will never receive Light, would be a mistake. The mind will undoubtedly cry for Light and receive Light, and there will come a time on our earthly calendar when the mind will get the same joy as the heart. Otherwise, God’s creation can never be perfect, and God will never allow us to remain imperfect.