Mr. Robert Muller: When I speak to audiences about U Thant's four ways to happiness, I sometimes hear the following criticism: "Life is one and cannot be artificially cut into four. Everything is interdependent and linked. We must concentrate on life as an entity and not on components which are the product of the intellect." I am not over-impressed with this argument, for I have indeed observed that life is richest when I cultivate simultaneously all four categories of needs, namely physical, mental, moral and spiritual. Nevertheless, there is some truth in that criticism and I would be grateful to learn how you would respond to it.

Sri Chinmoy: I am sorry to say that it is not possible for me to see eye to eye with your critic-friends. Indeed, they are right when they say that life is one, but in the same breath when they say that it cannot be artificially cut into four, I wish to ask them where they got the idea of cutting life or the life-tree into four parts. There is no necessity of artificially cutting life-reality into four; it is absurd.

Let us take life as a ladder that serves us and helps us reach the pinnacles of liberation, illumination, realisation and perfection. This life-ladder has four rungs. The first rung we unmistakably call the body-reality. The second rung is the intellect-reality; the third rung, the morality-reality, and the fourth rung, the spirituality-reality. Once we firmly step on the body-reality-rung, the body casts off the ignorance-cover of millennia. Once we ascend from that rung and step on the intellect-reality-rung, we see the vastness inside smallness and the smallness inside vastness, the infinite Beauty inside the finite duty and the finite duty inside the infinite Beauty. Then we ascend the morality-reality-rung. Here we try to illumine our lower self, which consciously or unconsciously enjoys the song of division and the dance of separativity through self-indulgence and by unreservedly and deliberately embracing the earth-bound goal while ignoring the Heaven-free goal. The earthbound goal is: “Possess and become”. But to our sorrow we see that we possess only to lose; what is worse, to get totally lost. Finally we ascend to the spirituality-reality-rung and reach our Heaven-free goal. What is our Heaven-free goal? Our Heaven-free goal is: “Offer and become”.

To quote your singularly momentous and apposite inner depth: “We progress physically, mentally, morally and spiritually towards a higher level of human consciousness, towards that smile of divinity which knows that someday the human race will be able to re-establish paradise on earth. There is no longer much difference between the political approach and this broader, richer concept of human fulfilment.”

I fully agree that these four approaches are not independent; they are interdependent. They are interdependent precisely because they know that they can reach their satisfaction-goal only on the strength of their becoming one, inseparably one. Interdependence is the harbinger of oneness. Human life in itself is an eternal road, eternal journey, eternal soul and eternal goal. While walking along Eternity’s road, if the seeker covers some distance and then gives the distance he covered a name, and if he continues to do this, he is perfectly entitled to do so. But in the heart of his heart, he knows that it is only one road, one journey, one crying soul and one smiling goal. These four are Eternity’s duty, Infinity’s beauty, Divinity’s necessity and Reality’s immortality.