Mr. Masur: That is interesting. Sri Chinmoy’s music is very simple, and I am happy because of that. His songs are extraordinary. His piano music is very rich and full of imagination.
Sri Chinmoy: Most of the great musicians of the past and present have been mercilessly criticised by their contemporaries. So last year I wrote a booklet in support of them.
Mr. Masur: (laughs): Are you criticised by somebody?
Sri Chinmoy: Every second. (Laughter) But I am not affected because I know I am not the doer. Whoever has played in and through me has to take the blame.
Singer: Everybody has to make their money, so some people make their money by criticising.
Mrs. Masur: At least we can say that nobody is born to be a critic. What does it mean to he a critic? Is one allowed to criticise other people? Does God approve of this?
Sri Chinmoy: Critics are life’s failures. They have failed, and now they have to do something to amuse themselves, so they criticise others. Nobody likes critics. If I am imperfect, which I am, nobody knows my imperfections better than I do. But when somebody criticises me, in no way is that person helping me to perfect my nature.
Critics are those who, when they look at the moon, see only black dots. They do not help mankind at all. But those who see and appreciate the good qualities in others are bringing others’ good qualities to the fore. By appreciating me, you are bringing forward my aspiration to become a better human being and a better citizen of the world and vice versa.
Mr. Masur: That is true.
Sri Chinmoy: When we criticise someone, we are only making ourselves an object of ridicule.
Singer: The problem is that people like to read harsh criticism. People like to read critics who are really snide and nasty. This is what ruins the arts.
Mr. Masur: Why do they want to read this kind of thing? Because they hate people whom they feel are more talented than they themselves are! The critics are also like that. I would allow only somebody who has proven to be my friend to criticise me because I know he sincerely wants to help me. Others’ criticism I am not interested in.
Sri Chinmoy: When I look at a rose, I only want to appreciate its beauty and enjoy its fragrance. But if I look at the rose to see how many thorns it has or how many insects are on it, then I get nothing from the rose. When I use my heart, I want to enjoy the beauty and fragrance of the rose. But when I use my mind, I want to see how many of its petals are in perfect order or how many thorns it has. Then I lose the very purpose I had in looking at the rose.
Each singer, each musician, is like a rose. He is creating something new, and I come to him to appreciate what he has and what he is. I enter into him in order to see and appreciate his creation. But if I come as a critic, I only put up a barrier between him and myself, and I am not able to enjoy his creation at all. So how stupid it is to be a critic!
(To Mrs. Masur) Next year I would like to invite you to sing for us. My students will come from all over the world in April, and I would be extremely grateful if you could sing for us.
Mr. Masur: It would be wonderful because she has experience from many different countries. I told you she grew up as a daughter of an Anglican priest in Tokyo. Then she started to study German literature, but she didn’t like it. Then she went to Rio de Janeiro and then to France to teach children.
While she was studying German literature, she played the violin very well and then she started to study singing in Germany. Later, when I met her, she was working with the orchestra in Rio de Janeiro playing the viola. Now she has a very strong feeling for Spanish music as well as for Portuguese, Brazilian, Japanese and German music because she learned them all. I am always very impressed by how many things she can understand — and she comes from such a different culture.
Singer: She is a universal soul.
Mrs. Masur: I was very lucky to know so many other countries, especially their music. I am very happy and lucky.
(Sri Chinmoy presents a photo album with pictures from the morning’s meeting.)