An Award of Appreciation1
Dean Gormley: Several months ago Sri Chinmoy came to our school after we had had an exhibition of his paintings there for a week. In a way, it was a fairly exciting week for me and the students. The exhibition was fundamentally different from every other show we have had. People walked in and looked at the paintings and, as usual, there was analysis going on, since these were all students of art. But it was a strange exhibition because everyone was smiling when they left.
At the end of the exhibit, Sri Chinmoy came to the school and gave a speech about spirituality and art. I would just like to read a short portion of that speech, because there is nothing I could say today that could equal this: “Spirituality is realisation, realisation of one’s universal oneness with the Absolute Reality: Art is manifestation, manifestation of the cosmic consciousness which each human being embodies. Spirituality is transcendental joy.
Art is universal beauty. Joy is the source; beauty is the flow. We came into this existence from boundless joy, in joy we grow, and at the end of our journey’s close, into joy we shall retire. This joy we experience only when we live in the soul, in the world of the real Reality. If we live in the outer world, our life is nothing but excruciating pangs.” This speech moved me deeply, and I think it moved a lot of the students there, too, because we had seen that week an example of what those ideals had created. It was an example of art as purity, an example of art cleansed of all the ambitions and desires that we too often see in the art world. So tonight I have come here to present a special art award on behalf of the President of the College to Sri Chinmoy. The award says, “The School of Visual Arts presents this Award of Appreciation to Sri Chinmoy for his contribution to the Arts,” and it is signed by President Rhodes and by myself.
Sri Chinmoy: Dear Brian Gormley, dear friend, dear spiritual seeker and dear brother, in silence I could have done real justice to your kind words, but since I have to speak, I wish to tell you that my soulful expression of gratitude will undoubtedly be inadequate. I wish to offer to you, from the depth of my heart, gratitude, unalloyed gratitude. The School of Visual Arts is extremely kind in honouring me. I wish to offer my soulful gratitude to you, dear Brian Gormley, to the President of the College and to the art lovers of your unique institute.
Dear Mr. Gormley, since Nilaya [David Gershon] has been in contact with you, you have inspired him profoundly. You have been extremely kind in helping us to spread our light through the art world. This art award that I am receiving today, I am proud to say, is the result of your soulful oneness with my aspiring soul.
Each human being, to me, is a manifestation of God’s Life and of life’s art. Each student is not a mere student; he is something divine, something supreme. Each individual student is an expression of God’s Art. He is at once the embodiment of God the Supreme Artist and of God the Supreme Art.
Today you are not honouring me; you are honouring the seeker in me. My art is an expression of my search for the highest Truth, Light and Bliss. I have all along been an aspirant, aspiring to serve God in mankind. I am not an artist in the proper sense of the term; I am a seeker. I have been trying since my adolescence to serve the Supreme Artist in my life. I have written considerably in prose, verse and music. All are expressions of my aspiration and love. The Supreme in me wanted me to become an instrument of His in the artistic line as well. In this way, He has given me another opportunity to be of service to Him in the art-loving world.
This is a blessingful award. My inner vision tells me that in the future the seeker-artist in me will receive quite a few awards from the art-loving world. But today marks the beginning of a new inspiration and aspiration in my dedicated life of art. I am an eternal aspirant. With me there will always be an expression of art.
Today the School of Visual Arts is blessing me and my spiritual students, without whose conscious contribution I could never have become an artist. If the world appreciates my art, then I shall soul-fully give all credit to my devoted students and disciples, who help me day in and day out in the dedication of my art to aspiring mankind.
To the School of Visual Arts I wish to offer my ever growing and ever glowing gratitude. It has given me today the golden opportunity to be of greater service to aspiring mankind through art, which is the embodiment of God, the eternal divine Lover and the eternal Beloved Supreme. To the artist in you, to the teacher in you, to the inspirer in you, to the genuine seeker in you, I offer my gratitude-heart, and in honour of you, in honour of your august school, I wish my assistants to sing a song that I composed about my art.
The name of my art is Fountain-Art, spontaneous art, because we want to be spontaneously of dedicated service to mankind.
Following are the words and music of the song which was sung for Dean Gormley.
Jharna-kala jharna-kala jharna-kala
Moder hala moder chala ujjala
Tumi moder asha-hiyar chira mangala
Kanna hasir parapare dodul dola
O fountain-art, fountain-art, fountain-art,
Gold-bright is our journey’s voice;
Gold-bright is our journey’s goal.
You are our hope-hearts’
Eternally hallowed Consciousness-Light supreme.
You are the delight-swing of silence-height
Beyond the shore of earth-sorrows and Heaven-smiles.
O fountain-art, fountain-art, fountain-art.
On Friday, June 25, Dean Brian Gormley of Manhattan’s School of Visual Arts presented a special award on behalf of the school to Sri Chinmoy, in recognition of his artistic achievements↩