Conversation with a young Cambodian monk1

Sri Chinmoy: I went to see the museum where they have preserved thousands of skulls of those who were killed in Cambodia. They showed a documentary. Before, the skulls were all in the street, but now there is a monument. Hundreds of vital spirits are still roaming around fifty metres away. It was a very deplorable experience for me.

There are little girls’ skirts and other garments still on the ground. It was a very sad experience, because I saw that still the vital spirits are moving around. God alone knows in which realm they are. They are in between earth and Heaven. For most people, this would be a very, very frightening experience. For me, it was the saddest experience in my life. How could people be so ruthlessly tortured! God alone knows how it happened. This is life.

It took over an hour to get to the museum, and there were so many holes in the street. The streets were very uneven, to say the least, and I had back pain from all the jerking, although Savyasachi is a super-excellent driver and he was driving as slowly as possible. From the physical point of view also, this experience was sheer torture, torture.

I would not advise anybody to visit this place, but if you are interested in having that kind of experience, you can go. The journey itself was torture from the beginning to the end. And once you arrive to see the place, it is another kind of torture-experience that you get. So, I had two experiences. One experience was the torture of the physical body, which will go away in a few days’ time. But the torture in the heart will last for a very, very, very long time.

Have you gone there?

Monk Sopheap: I went only one time, in 1994.

Sri Chinmoy: Do you want to go there again? You are very brave. On my behalf you can go.

Monk Sopheap: In 1994, a family from Thailand invited monks to pray for everybody who died there.

Sri Chinmoy: I was told that when they ran short of guns, they used axes, hammers and other things to kill people. It is a huge monument, and inside the monument there are thousands of skulls. The eyes are so deep. You can see from the skulls that there were many, many children — little, little children.

I understand that you have studied my book, Meditate On.

Monk Sopheap: Yes, I have studied this book. [He recites some aphorisms from the book.] Sometimes when I thought of you, I felt I wanted to see you in person. Before you arrived here, I always dreamed of when I could meet Guru Sri Chinmoy in my life.

Sri Chinmoy: You were the one who garlanded me. Did you feel anything when I was looking at you?

Monk Sopheap: Yes.

Sri Chinmoy: The Lord Buddha in me blessed you; not I. The Lord Buddha in me blessed you profusely when you put the garland around my neck. When I was two or three metres away from you, I saw the Lord Buddha, as I am seeing you, very vividly. He was very, very happy, very pleased, for us to be together. So he blessed you — not I. I bless my disciples. Only the Lord Buddha can bless you.

It will help you if twice a day you can practise the Lord Buddha’s message, Buddham saranam gacchami, Dhammam saranam gacchami, Sangham saranam gacchami, which I have set to music. This is my Indian way, my Bengali way, of chanting. I chant this hymn in a different way than you do, but I assure you, if you learn to chant in this way, you will definitely feel the Lord Buddha’s presence in your heart. He is already inside your heart, but if you want to have a vivid experience of his infinite compassion for you, you can do this particular chant twice a day, morning and evening. It will help you so much. The Lord Buddha’s compassion will descend upon you profusely.

Please come here at one o’clock. The Lord Buddha can lift you inwardly, but I wish to lift you outwardly. The Lord Buddha will lift you inside, and I will lift you outside, on the physical plane.


  1. OOP 2. 20 December 2001, Inter-Continental Hotel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. After Sri Chinmoy meditated in silence with Monk Sopheap, the two spoke about their experiences at a war museum, as well as other subjects. Following are some excerpts from their conversation.