[The first performance of Sri Chinmoy’s play Siddhartha Becomes the Buddha was dedicated to U Thant, and he was guest of honour at the performance. Below is a transcription of Sri Chinmoy’s welcoming speech to U Thant, followed by Mr. Thant’s gracious reply.]

Sri Chinmoy:

When I go to the Buddha for refuge,
He blesses me.
When I go to the Inner Law for refuge,
He illumines me.
When I go to the Order for refuge,
He utilises me.

A child of Bihar, a son of India, a citizen of the world, a denizen of the higher spheres — Siddhartha, the Buddha.

In the outer world, he is known as the Light of Asia. In the inner world, he is, indeed, an ever-illumining Light of the universe.

To the world-sorrows he offered his heart of infinite Compassion. To the world-aspiration he offered his soul of transcendental Illumination.

The Omnipotent did two things. Through Siddhartha Gautama, He revealed the ideal of Perfection in a human being. Through the Buddha, He revealed His Enlightenment and Compassion in a divine being.

With His Heart, the Unfathomable came to the Buddha.

With His Mind, the Unknowable came to the Buddha.

With His Bliss, the Transcendental came to the Buddha.

This evening we are deeply honoured and blessed by the gracious presence of our most esteemed brother, U Thant. Two thousand five hundred years ago a world-father, the Buddha, came with the message of universal Peace. Now, two thousand five hundred years later, he has sent his chosen son, U Thant, to carry on the same message of Peace.

Dear Brother, for ten long years you have served the world-consciousness most devotedly and most significantly through the world body of the United Nations. Mother Earth and Father Heaven have bestowed their choicest blessings on your devoted head, aspiring heart and illumining soul. Now the outer political world has lost you, but the inner spiritual world has gained you and claims you as its very own. Your silent life of aspiration, dedication and illumination is guiding the outer world and leading it to its destined Goal.

With deepest joy and gratitude I am dedicating this play, Siddhartha Becomes the Buddha, as a humble token of my treasured feeling towards you. In you I feel the pioneer-pilot of world-peace. In you I see a beacon-light of world-redemption. In you I discover the true love of human life and an utmost reverence for Truth, both in the inner world and in the outer world.

The Absolute Supreme claims you as His very own. The Lord Buddha claims you as his very own. We, your brothers and sisters of this world, claim you as our very own.

U Thant: Revered and highly esteemed Sri Chinmoy and brothers and sisters, I feel it is a great privilege to be able to participate in this spiritually rewarding experience, and for this I am most grateful to our esteemed teacher, Sri Chinmoy, for this innovative undertaking. I also feel particularly moved and touched by his very gracious blessings bestowed on me.

Sri Chinmoy very kindly sent me a copy of the play, Siddhartha Becomes the Buddha. I read it with great interest and with great admiration and profit. Of course, it is extremely difficult to depict the important episodes of the life of the Buddha in the course of a few minutes or an hour or so, but I find that Sri Chinmoy has done a most remarkable job in presenting the play in simple, understandable language for the uninitiated. His stress on the basic characteristics of Buddhism, on compassion, love, renunciation, peace, should stimulate the thought of leaders of men and leaders of thought everywhere.

As you are all aware, I was brought up as a Buddhist by tradition, by faith and by practice, and I find myself in complete agreement with Sri Chinmoy in his enunciation of the ethical and moral aspects of Buddhism which, in my view, should be the basis of every one of us in our search for inner Light, in our search for Truth. Sri Chinmoy in his play, has also drawn a very vivid picture of the identity between God and Truth, soul and inner Light, which I very much hope will create an abiding interest in these two great religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, which in many ways constitute the key to all great religions.

I feel very strongly, as some of my friends know, that only by a practical application of the teachings of the great religious leaders, particularly the development of the moral and spiritual aspects of life as Sri Chinmoy has stressed in the play: love, compassion, tolerance, the philosophy of live-and-let-live, modesty and even humility, only with this approach, only with this method, will we be able to fashion the kind of society we want: a truly moral society, a decent society, a livable society, which is the goal of all great religions.

I want to thank particularly those friends who are participating in this play and I wish all of you eternal joy, particularly the inner joy and peace of mind.

Thank you very much, Sri Chinmoy.