How to Make the Fastest Progress

Many years ago Sri Chinmoy offered a very fortunate group of his students a glimpse into an unexplored and unexpected corner of their spiritual life – he offered to disclose their best inner quality, their worst quality and how each could make the fastest spiritual progress.

While a spiritual name or soul's name which Sri Chinmoy sometimes confers, identifies the soul's predominant or unique qualities, the 'best quality' highlights another active aspect, also powerful but the revelation of a different facet of the soul. The soul's name may also be a blossoming capacity, a bud opening and flowering during this and other lives while the 'best quality' is a current facet that may be replaced by another best, or worst, quality at a later stage.

Thus a spiritual name may describe the unique qualities and depths and tendencies of the soul, like a potentiality constantly revealing itself and moving towards its own self-unfoldment, while the best quality is a powerful flowering of that potentiality or tendency into life. Similarly, a 'worst quality' too is not a permanent feature of our inner life and only awaits its transformation or extinction through effort and progress – the soul's light finally banishes the shadows.

All those years ago, with trembling fingers I opened my envelope where in the Master's own inimitable and flowing handwriting several short, precise statements identified my best and worst spiritual qualities, and then there followed a brief description of how I could make the fastest progress. Sri Chinmoy only offered this opportunity the once, since this knowledge required of the Master a thorough and often exhaustive examination of our inner nature, a taxing commitment that summoned his deepest insight and searching inner gaze.

I already had suspicions about my worst quality and Sri Chinmoy's comments both confirmed this with an uncompromising clarity and demonstrated, unnervingly, how clearly he could see into my deepest secrets and tendencies and thoughts. Later I swapped notes and shared qualities with several good friends and we were head nodding for hours at the wisdom of the Master and the profundity of the comments he had made, their absolute and individual relevance. Since our best and worst qualities are of no use to anyone else there is little point in describing them and they are probably not intended for others to see – besides, our worst qualities, fifteen years on, may have been nudged out of the limelight by another of our numerous impediments to realisation, or our best qualities surpassed by a newly blossoming flower in the beautiful garden of the heart and soul.

But as part of my 'how to make the fastest progress' Sri Chinmoy did urge that I practice 'conscious cheerfulness in the outer life' and this was of great help in trying to overcome a longtime habit of reticence and a disposition towards melancholy.

Those of us privileged to be given this glimpse into our deeper nature, a window of self understanding opened by the Master's grace, felt our life positively changed by this knowledge for it gave us confidence to unleash and to express our best qualities more, and a resolve to indulge or tolerate our worst qualities less. And then to apply the 'how to make the fastest progress' insights – pure gold!

The soul has come down to earth with the simple overriding purpose of consciously realising God, and God's Ambassador has just personally told you how to achieve this very, very quickly! Phew!

    – Jogyata.