Question: What role does a vegetarian diet play in your teachings?
Sri Chinmoy: In my teachings the vegetarian diet plays a most important role. In order to become pure, a vegetarian diet helps us considerably. Purity is of paramount importance in our spiritual life. This purity we must establish in the physical, the vital and the mental. When we eat meat, fish and so forth, the aggressive, animal consciousness enters into us. Our nerves become agitated; we unconsciously become restless and aggressive. The mild qualities of vegetables, on the other hand, help us to establish in our inner life as well as in our outer life, the qualities of sweetness, softness, simplicity and purity.
But again, if you ask me whether by becoming a strict vegetarian you can realise God or not, then I would say “No,” a definite “No.” There are millions and millions of people on earth who are strict vegetarians, but I don’t think there are millions and millions of God-realised souls on earth. For God-realisation we need aspiration. But in answering your question, I wish to say that it is always advisable, if possible, to have a vegetarian diet in order to further one’s progress in the inner discipline, so that one can feel that even the body, with its purity, can help one’s inner aspiration to become more intense and more soulful.
So a vegetarian diet is not necessary in order to realise God?
Sri Chinmoy: Just by becoming a vegetarian one will not realise God. It is impossible! Many people have followed strict vegetarian diets, but there are not very many people on earth who have realised God. In India all widows of respectable families are supposed to be vegetarians. But if you count all Indian widows, you will not find many God-realised souls among them. Unless these women pray and meditate most sincerely and devotedly, they will make very little spiritual progress.
If you stop eating fish and meat you will not realise God overnight. Far from it! You must not expect such great results from so small an effort. But your aspiration will be increased. Your mild qualities, soft qualities, aspiring qualities will come to the fore sooner. Everything depends on how fast you want to make progress. If you feel that each second counts, if you feel that there is no end to your goal, then the best thing is to achieve the things that are ahead of you as soon as possible.