In 2001, Sri Chinmoy recited some of his favourite poems at a Jharna-Kala exhibition in the City Hall of Oslo, Norway. This was one of the many activities within a ‘Peace Week’, which included concerts and the inauguration of the Peace Flame at the harbour of Oslo.
Sri Chinmoy offers a Peace Concert at the opening of a week-long Soul-Bird drawings exhibition held at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, USA.
Sri Chinmoy lifts James Nachtwey, award-winning photojournalist, in Jamaica, NY, USA.
Sri Chinmoy completes 27 Jharna-Kala paintings in 27 minutes in Jamaica, NY, USA.
SIPRA SPEAKS OUT WITH A FIERY TONGUE
BRISBANE, Australia — Sipra, a 39-year-old schoolteacher, has never been one to mince words, and when she decided to express her spiritual teacher’s philosophy of self-transcendence on April 2, she set off a lot of sparks.
She set a new world record for fire-eating by “consuming” 7,095 burning sticks in two hours, breaking the previous record of 6,606.
“The mind is always limiting,” explained Sipra, a disciple of Sri Chinmoy. “But when we get out and do something, we find we do have the capacity to transcend ourselves beyond that limit.”
She was aided in her feat by the inner presence of her spiritual Master, Sri Chinmoy, whose photograph she frequently glanced at and whose music was playing on a small tape recorder. Also of help were the heaping spoonsful of ice cream fellow-disciples handed her whenever she burned her tongue.
Sipra did the fire-eating in honour of the upcoming anniversary of Sri Chinmoy’s arrival in the West from his native India on April 13, 1964.
Published in Anahata Nada, Volume 10, Nos. 2-5, February – June 1983
Sri Chinmoy plays the esraj for world-renowned war photographer James Nachtwey after lifting him at Aspiration-Ground in Jamaica, Queens, New York.
Sri Chinmoy visits the Heiligenkreuz Monastery in Switzerland, where he prays and meditates with the nuns and the Mother Superior, and answers their questions about spirituality and religion.
Sri Chinmoy’s Training Diary
Sri Chinmoy’s comments afterwards:
“With each one I am making a little progress. Today there were no stride marks. What I need is 18 strides for 30 metres. Then for 100 metres it will be 60 strides. I think today my running was the fastest for 30 metres. As soon as I try to become faster, my stride becomes shorter. The speed seems to be quite good. Speed is pleasing me, in spite of the fact that my right knee is so bad.”
Sri Chinmoy Meditates with Nuns
and the Mother Superior of the Benedictine Monastery Heiligenkreuz in Cham, near Zug, Switzerland.
Sri Chinmoy: From the depths of my heart I wish to offer my most soulful gratitude to the Mother Superior and to the Sisters of this convent for having given me this blessingful opportunity to pray and meditate at their most beautiful and soulful chapel.
Mother Superior: This reminds me of my visit to South Korea, where we also have Sisters. We had contacts with Buddhist monks and we tried to be one in meditation together.
Question: How can we better manifest the peace and joy that we feel in meditation in our day-to-day life?
Sri Chinmoy: From our prayer and meditation we get solid peace, joy and love. If we can see God the Creator and God the creation as one, if we can feel the same Father inside each and every heart, we will claim the whole world as our own. Then naturally we will be inspired to offer our brothers and sisters the peace, joy and love that we have received from Above. The joy and peace that we receive from the Supreme we can offer to the Supreme in others through our dedicated and selfless service.
Question: What is the difference between prayer and meditation?
Sri Chinmoy: When we pray, we ask for and receive something good and divine: God’s Protection, Compassion, Love and Blessings. But when we meditate, we become those very things. We get God’s Compassion, God’s Love and so forth from Above and assimilate them. Once we become these things, it is our bounden duty to give them to our sisters and brothers in the world. But we cannot give unless we first become. Both prayer and meditation are equally necessary. When we pray, we receive; when we meditate, we become. Then, once we become, we claim God the creation as our own and give back to God the creation everything that we have received from God the Creator.
It is like going to a garden and picking some beautiful flowers. We place these flowers on the altar and pray to Lord Jesus Christ. While we are praying, the fragrance and divinity of the flowers enter into us and, in the depths of our heart, we become this fragrance and divinity. Afterwards, when we go out on the street, people see and feel something in us — although they may not know what it is. And what they see and feel in us they also receive from us. When they see us, they enter into our heart-garden, where they also can get the beauty and fragrance of these most beautiful flowers.
Question: I would like to know your opinion about Jesus Christ.
Sri Chinmoy: I have the utmost love and devotion for the Saviour Christ. The Father is in Heaven and the Son, who represents humanity, is on earth. Again, the Son said, “I and my Father are one.” So, this moment, when the Christ’s consciousness is with humanity, he is the Son; and the next moment, when the Christ becomes one with his Father, he is the Absolute Father — the omnipotent God, who is the Lord of the Universe.
I am an Indian, but I have the same God that you have. He is not the God of Switzerland or of India but the Lord of the universe. So when Christ the Saviour becomes inseparably one with the omnipotent God, he is none other than my Father in Heaven, and my prayer and meditation — like everybody else’s — are going to him. Again, when he is one with humanity, when he is praying and meditating with us and teaching us how to grow into our own highest divinity, at that time I feel that he is like a brother lifting me up to the Father. But when he is in his own highest consciousness — inseparably one with the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Supreme — at that time I feel that he is the Lord of the universe.
It depends on my own consciousness how I approach him: as the one who lived on earth for 33 years or as the one who has existed for all Eternity. This moment I get tremendous joy when I claim him as the Son and feel that he has become one with crying humanity. The next moment I get tremendous joy in seeing him as Lord of the universe, inseparably one with the Father.
Sri Chinmoy: I take the Holy Spirit as the connecting link between the Father and the Son. On the one hand, the Holy Spirit represents earth’s climbing cry. This climbing cry from the depths of the Son’s heart passes through the Son and carries him to the Father. Again, the Holy Spirit is also Heaven’s descending Smile. It brings the Father’s highest Consciousness down to the Son’s earthly consciousness. The Father and Son are being united by the Holy Spirit.
Question: What is the spiritual meaning of the colour blue?
Sri Chinmoy: From the spiritual point of view, the colour blue has several meanings. First of all, blue signifies the vastness of Infinity. Human beings are full of worry, jealousy, fear, doubt and various other negative qualities, which constantly bind us. At the same time, deep within us we have vastness. When we look at the vast sky or the vast ocean, we feel our own inner vastness. Through prayer and meditation we are able to free ourselves from our fears, worries and other limitations and become one with the vastness inside ourselves.
Blue can also be the predominant colour of a person’s aura. Each human being has an aura. It is through our aura that we manifest our divinity. Ordinary people who do not pray and meditate have only one aura. But people who pray and meditate and become spiritually developed are blessed by God with more than one aura.
I have been praying and meditating since my childhood. So God, out of His infinite Compassion, has blessed me with quite a few auras. But the most important and most significant aura, in my case, is blue. It is through this colour in particular that I offer my peace, joy, love and goodwill to mankind.
Question: Did you grow up as a Christian or as a Hindu?
Sri Chinmoy: Up until the age of eleven, I was raised as a Hindu. Then I went to a spiritual community where I prayed and meditated most sincerely and soulfully. After a few years, I went beyond the boundaries of any one particular religion and said, “Now I have only my sincere love of God.”
Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and all the other religions are like houses. Everybody is born in a particular house. But after a time we leave our house and go out into the world and mix with our brothers and sisters. If anybody now asks me what my religion is, I will not say Hinduism. I will say that my religion is my constant, conscious and sleepless love of God. Our love of God is the living breath in us, and that is the one universal religion.
Question: In that case, is Christ like a prophet or somebody like Gandhi for you?
Sri Chinmoy: The Christ and Gandhi cannot be put on the same footing; they cannot even be pronounced in the same breath. Gandhi was a leader of suffering India, a saint; the Christ is the Saviour of the whole world. To compare the Christ and Gandhi is like comparing the ocean with a single drop of water.
For me, Krishna, the Buddha, the Christ and a few others are all one; only they go by different names. More than seven thousand years ago, God sent His son to earth and called him Krishna. Then, after some time, He sent the same son to earth and called him the Buddha. About two thousand years ago, He again sent His son to earth and called Him the Christ. But they are absolutely one. Only they came at different times to save and uplift the consciousness of mankind. The Heavenly Father sent them down to carry humanity to His highest Height.
Sri Chinmoy: Yes, I do believe in reincarnation. God wants us to realise Him. God wants us to be perfect. But in one incarnation we cannot realise the Highest or become perfect. Thirty or forty years ago, let us say, we had so many desires. Then we entered into the life of aspiration and started praying and meditating. At first we had a very small amount of peace, joy and love. Gradually these increased. At the same time, our desires began to leave us. We started decreasing our desires and increasing our aspiration for light, peace and other divine qualities. But this process cannot be completed in a single lifetime. In order to realise God and become perfect, we have to come back to earth many, many times. That is why reincarnation is necessary.
Question: It is the Christian belief that because Christ died on the Cross, we will all reach salvation after our death. What is your view of this?
Sri Chinmoy: When the Christ was on the cross, he became inseparably one with humanity’s suffering, bondage and ignorance, and these things he carried to the highest world. At that time humanity was at a particular stage of development. But the creation has not stopped; God is still creating. As long as creation is taking place, ignorance continues to reappear.
When we speak of God granting us salvation, we are speaking of salvation from sin. Let us say that we have got salvation and we no longer have sin. But that is not enough, for sin is not the only wrong force that we have inside us. It is only one aspect of ignorance. We have many bad qualities, and they all need to be transformed into good qualities. We have to grow from our earthbound desire-life into the vastness of our real Self. For this, we have to be completely liberated from ignorance. In our philosophy, we do not use the word ‘sin’ at all. We speak only of bondage or ignorance. Because we have ignorance, we have to pray and meditate so that Christ’s Consciousness will descend into us and liberate us.
Mother Superior: Tomorrow you are going to see our Federal Councillor, Flavio Cotti. As a final question, I would like to know if you are going there as a private person or as a spiritual leader.
Sri Chinmoy: I am not going there as a spiritual leader. I am a student of peace. Wherever I go, I try to offer the lessons that I have learned from my prayer and meditation. I am going there as a seeker of truth and as a lover of God. Since I pray and meditate, I would like to pray and meditate with him for world peace.
I am so grateful to you, Mother Superior, for allowing me to be here. Twenty-three years ago I visited a chapel in Puerto Rico. Some Sisters saw me and became disturbed and annoyed that a Hindu was in their chapel. They went and called the Mother Superior. At first she was furious that a Hindu had come into the chapel, but when she saw me praying with folded hands in front of a picture of the Christ, she said, “This fellow has devotion for our Lord. Let us forgive him.” Then she said to me, “You must never, never come to this place again, because you are a Hindu.”
Look at your heart’s magnanimity. You were born a Christian and I was born a Hindu, yet you have given me a place in your heart. You have invited me here to offer my prayerful service. Look how the world is progressing! One Mother Superior scolded and insulted me, and you have asked me to offer my soulful prayers. This is how we make progress and please our Heavenly Father.
I know that you will soon mark yet another, 39th, anniversary of the beginning of your activities in the United States. Please accept my most heartfelt congratulations on this day, which is so special to you. Throughout all these years your noble peace mission has met with response in the most distant corners of our planet. Today, when blood is being shed once again in the world, your humanitarian activities take on a particular value for all people of good will.
I wish you and all your students more successes in your work to the benefit of peace and all the best.
(signed) M. Gorbachev
April 2, 2003
Sri Chinmoy lifts world-renowned war photographer James Nachtwey at Aspiration-Ground in Jamaica, Queens, New York.
Poet and Poetry
A lecture by Sri Chinmoy
in Kane Hall at the University of Washington, Seattle
A poet has three very special names: yesterday's delight-seeker, today's delight-seer and tomorrow's delight-harbinger.
There are three types of poets: ordinary poets, great poets and seer-poets. Ordinary poets grow like mushrooms in infinite number. The great poets are few and far between and are also known as born poets. The seer-poets are of the supreme heights. A seer is he who envisions the present, the past and the future all at once.
Poetry has three very special names: inspiration-mind, aspiration-heart and beauty-life.
God wanted to have a very, very special garden of His own. He asked His poet-son to be the gardener. He also asked the gardener to create a garden as beautiful as possible and, at the same time, as small as possible.
The poet-gardener devotedly asked God if there was any esoteric purpose for the garden to be smaller than the smallest and beautiful, more beautiful, most beautiful.
God said to His newly appointed poet-gardener, "What is poetry, if not My real Beauty? Do you not recall what My English poet-son Keats' immortal utterance is: 'A thing of Beauty is a Joy forever'? Beauty and Infinity are inseparable. I want to reveal the Infinity that I am through the finite that I equally am. Therefore, I am asking you to make Me a garden of beauty unfathomable and beauty unsurpassable."
God further said to His poet-gardener, "My son, once you have accomplished your task to My Satisfaction, I shall entrust you with another task. You will be the only flute player in My garden. Infinity's Beauty-lovers from the four corners of the globe shall visit and drink deep the beauty of our garden."
The difference between a prose writer and a poet is this:
A prose writer is a marcher. He marches and marches along Eternity's Road to arrive at Infinity's Goal.
A poet is a singer. He sings and sings along Eternity's Road to arrive at Infinity's Goal.
The prose writer has thunder-legs.
The poet has lightning-feet.
Arriving at the destination, the prose writer declares,
"I have become."
Arriving at the same destination, the poet whispers,
"I eternally am."
I have been writing prose and poetry for over half a century. I am very happily and proudly sailing in the boat of Coleridge:
"I wish our clever poets would remember...Prose: words in their best order. Poetry: the best words in the best order."
Again, it is illumining to read a comment by Rabindranath Tagore, the master poet of India, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913. He writes:
"I wonder why the writing of pages of prose does not give anything like the joy of completing a single poem. One's emotions take such perfection of form in a poem, they can be taken up by the fingers, so to speak. While prose is like a sackful of loose material, incapable of being lifted as you please."
Poetry I read to lighten my mind and enlighten my heart.
Poetry I read to sweeten my bitter mind.
Poetry I read to replace my heart's sorrows with my soul's ecstasy.
Poetry I read to transform my human mind-jungle into my divine heart-garden.
Poetry I read to fathom my own inner worlds and to scale my own higher worlds.
Poetry I read to see and feel Divinity's Beauty inside the heart of humanity.
Poetry I read to watch the hide-and-seek of my heart's tearing tears and my soul's blossoming smiles.
Poetry teaches my heart infinitely more than it preaches to my mind.
Ancient poetry pined for inner freedom. Modern poetry hungers for outer freedom.
Since, according to many, I am a modern poet, I do not know how I can escape from Goethe's irrefutable observation of modern poets: "Modern poets mix too much water with their ink."
Ancient poetry paid more attention to the Unknowable than the knowable. Modern poetry maximises the power of the knowable and allows the Unknowable to remain a stranger, a perfect stranger.
The ancient poetry-boat was quite often overloaded with poetry-passenger-readers. The modern poetry-boat is quite often empty of poetry-passenger-readers.
Now what about those who are not poetry-lovers at all — no, not even poetry-readers? They do not care in the least either for ancient poetry or for modern poetry. Dear audience, with your soul's permission, I am crying ditto to a statement by Anthony Hope Hawkins:
"I wish you would read a little poetry sometimes. Your ignorance cramps my conversation."
Ancient poetry loved to swim in the sea of tears. Modern poetry loves to surf in the ocean of laughter.
Poetry tells the world, "O world, I am a flower. Appreciate my beauty if you want to. Enjoy my fragrance if you want to. But do not expect from me anything more than my beauty and my fragrance. If you expect anything more, you will be doomed to disappointment."
Poetry tells the world, "O world, I can teach you how to smile, even while you are crying."
In my case also, I have my own ancient poetry and modern poetry. My ancient poetry embodied my inner cry:
A sea of Peace and Joy and Light
Beyond my reach I know.
In me the storm-tossed weeping night
Finds room to rage and flow.
My modern poetry reveals my inner smile:
I am flying and flying
On Immortality's Wings
In Infinity's Sky.
When I started my poetry-journey, my inner experiences and realisations spontaneously expressed themselves through the power-aspect:
No mind, no form, I only exist;
Now ceased all will and thought.
The final end of Nature's dance,
I am It whom I have sought.
My spirit aware of all the heights,
I am mute in the core of the Sun.
I barter nothing with time and deeds;
My cosmic play is done.
As I continue my poetry-journey, my inner experiences and realisations spontaneously express themselves through humility and devotion-aspects:
Your Love has entrapped my eyes,
My heart, my life and my all.
May I be allowed to entrap
The hallowed dust of Your Feet?
Throughout my poetry-journey, my poetry-tree has cherished various branches: philosophy, prayer, religion, spirituality, my love of Nature's beauty, my love of word-making, which the English language indulgently allows me to explore, and my abiding love, concern and hope for this world of ours.
When nationalism captures my mind, I soulfully sing:
I dearly love my India
And her age-old silence-peace.
When internationalism embraces my heart, I offer my sleepless and breathless prayer-song to God:
My Lord, do give me the capacity
To wipe every tear
From every heart.
Wherever I go, Nature's beauty enters into me and feeds me with abundant inspiration:
The sky calls me.
The wind calls me.
The moon and stars call me.
The green and dense groves call me.
The dance of the fountain calls me.
Smiles call me, tears call me.
A faint melody calls me.
The morn, noon and eve call me.
Everyone is searching for a playmate.
Everyone is calling me, "Come, come!"
One voice, one sound, all around.
Alas, the Boat of Time sails on.
It was Horace who offered us the following illumining definition of poets: "Poets, the first instructors of mankind."
May I add,
Poets, the first God-Beauty-lovers
Poetry is not something to be understood.
Poetry is not something even to be felt.
Poetry is something to discover one's universal Reality.
Poetry is something to uncover one's transcendental Divinity.
I am deeply honoured to be talking to you in this august hall dedicated to Theodore Roethke, the esteemed American poet who was a beloved professor and poet-in-residence at this university. According to my humble opinion, Theodore Roethke was truly a God-Beauty-lover in God the creation. I would like to end my talk today by invoking the presence of his bright illumination-soul: "The Light Comes Brighter," which celebrates the simultaneous arrival of Spring in nature and in the mind:
"...soon a branch, part of a hidden scene,
The leafy mind, that long was tightly furled,
Will turn its private substance into green,
And young shoots spread upon our inner world."
My highly esteemed Chairman Shawn Wong, my lovingly revered Professor Charles Johnson, your university is unique for its motto: "Lux Sit," "Let there be Light." Your love of light, both the light of the soul and the light of the mind, is supremely unparalleled. Today you are kindly, compassionately and blessingfully honouring me with The Light of Asia Award. In silence-secrecy-ecstasy I am sowing the seeds of my heart's gratitude-tears and gratitude-smiles in your beauty-non-pareil-heart-gardens.