Sri Chinmoy and a group of his students from various parts of the world visited the islands of the Philippines in January 1993. Sri Chinmoy came as a student of peace and, in a spirit of learning and sharing of experiences, he had the opportunity to meet with a number of significant figures in the Philippines. This book presents excerpts from those meetings.

Near the end of his visit, as he reflected on his experiences, Sri Chinmoy made the following remarks at the close of the Peace Concert he offered at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on 26 January:

"I have been in the Philippines for over a month, and on various occasions I have offered my deepest love and gratitude to the soul and heart of the Philippines. Also, I was extremely fortunate to have met with the most beloved son of the Philippines, President Fidel Ramos. Personally I was able to offer my deepest love, my deepest gratitude and my deepest admiration to him.

With utmost humility I am once again offering my heart's boundless love and joy to the most beautiful heart and most powerful soul of the Philippines. From the inmost recesses of my heart I am offering my gratitude, gratitude and gratitude."

Meeting with President Fidel Ramos

Fidel Valdez Ramos Was Elected President Of...

Fidel Valdez Ramos was elected President of the Republic of the Philippines in May 1992. His election culminated a lifetime of distinguished service to his country, including being Chief of Staff for the country's defense forces and representing his country in a number of international forums.

President Ramos: Good Afternoon, Your Excellency....

President Ramos: Good afternoon, your Excellency. Good afternoon, everybody.

Sri Chinmoy: Mr. President, my students and I are here to be blessed by you for the New Year.

President Ramos: I understand you will be staying here in the Philippines for about a month.

Sri Chinmoy: We have been in Manila for about a week, and we are going to Cebu City this evening.

President Ramos: You can observe the peace process that is now going on in our country. It is the first time in the last fifty or sixty years that we have been able to make significant progress.

Sri Chinmoy: We are extremely proud of you for being first in so many things. You are the first Protestant President of the Philippines; you are the first professional soldier to become President and the first engineer to become President. As an engineer you dreamt of being a builder. Now God has given you the golden opportunity to build your nation.

President Ramos: We need the support of leaders like you for the peace process.

Coming from Viet Nam

Sri Chinmoy: Dear Mr. President, we are coming from Viet Nam. You were there during the Viet Nam War, where you played your role as a supreme leader and diplomat for your country.

President Ramos: In which area were you?

Sri Chinmoy: In Ho Chi Minh City.

President Ramos: I hope you can help the Philippines also.

Sri Chinmoy: We belong to one family. Right now the brothers and sisters are having a dispute. But one day the same brothers and sisters will enjoy friendship and oneness.

President Ramos: This is what we try to do here on a moderate scale among the quarrelling Filipinos. Unfortunately, they have been quarrelling for a long time. We hope to be able to bring peace to both the extreme left and the extreme right — not only in a political sense but also in terms of social justice. We must persuade the more affluent among our countrymen to share their worldly goods with the poor. That will go a long way towards forging a unification of the country. Many of the violent conflicts come from socio-economic reasons — the unjust distribution of wealth. Friends and neighbours start quarrelling when they don't get three meals a day. You know about this famous phenomenon.

Sri Chinmoy: I come from India. There we speak about poverty's tyranny. It is so true!

(Presenting a plaque to the President) I was inspired to compose a prayerful song about you. My students would like to offer this song to you.

President Ramos: I am deeply honoured, Sri Chinmoy. This plaque looks like a masterpiece of composition and art.

The singers perform the song dedicated to the President.

President Ramos: Thank you very much. This is the first time somebody has composed a song for me.

Sri Chinmoy: I have selected some of your momentous utterances and set tune to them. My students will now perform them for you.

The singers perform four songs that Sri Chinmoy composed by setting tune to quotations from the President's speeches.

President Ramos: Thank you very much. You must have worked very hard for the last one, because I remember I said this only last New Year's day.

Sri Chinmoy: The day before yesterday I read it, and then immediately I set tune to it.

President Ramos: I see. I am deeply honoured that we are now co-authors of one of the top ten! I wish I had brought my oldest daughter with me. She also practises meditation.

Sri Chinmoy: It is our way of life. We pray and meditate and try to be of service to mankind. With our prayers and meditations we try to bring about world peace.

President Ramos: (presenting Sri Chinmoy with a decorative plate) This is a very small token compared to these songs. I would like to give this to you because, in a sense, it represents the government as well as the people of the Philippines. You can keep it at your headquarters.

Sri Chinmoy: For me, this plate is most precious... We have with us our Peace Torch, which your predecessor held a few years ago. This torch goes all over the world carrying our love for mankind. I would be extremely grateful if you could hold it for a moment.

President Ramos: Yes, with best wishes and appreciation from the Philippines.

Sri Chinmoy: We are most grateful.

President Ramos: Thank you very much for your visit. I hope you will be successful in your efforts.

Fidel Ramos: self-discipline and self-discovery

Fidel Ramos, Fidel Ramos, Fidel!
You are your great country's victory-bell.
Fidel Ramos, Fidel Ramos, Fidel!
Self-discipline and self-discovery
Have made your life a fruitful tree.

Meeting with Corazon Aquino

Corazon Aquino Was President Of The Republic...

Corazon Aquino was President of the Republic of the Philippines from 1986 to 1992. She was brought to power by a plebiscite known as "people power", which overthrew the former military dictatorship. Mrs. Aquino has often referred to "people power" as "prayer power".

During her term in office, Mrs. Aquino reinstated many democratic institutions, including freedom of the press and a democratic constitution.

The Meeting

Sri Chinmoy: it is extremely kind of you to have us here. I shall remain deeply grateful to you for your kindness. Yesterday I offered a Peace Concert here, and I was extremely happy and deeply honoured to dedicate it to you for your ceaseless and sleepless affection, love and concern for your country.

Mrs. Aquino: Thank you very much for a great honour. How many countries are represented here by your students?

Sri Chinmoy: Australia, America, Canada, Japan and Germany.

Mrs. Aquino: How big a membership do you have?

Sri Chinmoy: We have about 3,000.

Mrs. Aquino: Is there a Filipino representation?

Sri Chinmoy: We have about ten students here in Manila. In Cebu City we have about 20, and in Davao we also have a few.

Mrs. Aquino: I was in Davao myself this month, working to provide bridges between businessmen in Manila and businessmen in Davao. I think I cannot go back to a life of complete rest. I have not really known any period of complete relaxation since martial law.

Sri Chinmoy: I have composed a song in honour of you. It has come from the very depth of my aspiring heart. May my students sing the song for you?

Singers perform the song dedicated to Mrs. Aquino. >

Mrs. Aquino: Thank you very much.

Sri Chinmoy: I have also set tune to some of your words.

Mrs. Aquino: (Looking at a printed copy of the songs) This is from my speech to the U.S. Congress.

My policy has always been that we must attain peace through peaceful means. Only when we have exhausted all peaceful efforts should we use force. In our first encounter with the Communist dissidents, I offered them a ceasefire, and we did try talking with them. But then they still insisted on using violence. As President I could not allow that to continue. I offered them peace, but they rejected it. But then later on, I guess some of them tasted peace during the ceasefire and wanted more of it, so they did come to us and worked with us.

Sri Chinmoy: They realised their mistake.

Mrs. Aquino: The first time we initiated the ceasefire was around Christmas time. For the first time in probably 14 years they celebrated Christmas with their families. Certainly it was something they were not willing to give up again.

At first my critics said that they could not understand why I allowed the ceasefire. But this was my belief and in fact it was one of my campaign promises.

Sri Chinmoy: You said something most significant about your critics. Some of your critics accused you of being very weak and indecisive. You said that people also accused President Gorbachev of being weak.

Mrs. Aquino: Yes, I said I was in good company. When you have the responsibility for millions of people, in my case more than 60 million people, you cannot plunge into something simply because it will appear popular or it would enhance your credibility. When you feel responsible for the lives of so many, then you really have to study the situation very carefully. You cannot decide impulsively, because once you make a fatal decision, it is very difficult to get out of it.

I was more daring when I was not President because I felt that only I would be harmed because of my initiative. But when you become President, whatever action you take affects the populace. So you cannot be as daring or uncaring.

Sri Chinmoy: Before you became President, you were the sister of your country. Then you became the parent of your country — the mother. Once your people have known you and loved you as the mother of your country, they will always expect infinite motherly affection and compassion from you — even when you are no longer in office. And out of your heart's bounty you will always be willing to show your countrymen the affection and compassion of a real mother.

Singers perform the songs to Mrs. Aquino's words.

Mrs. Aquino: Thank you so much.

Sri Chinmoy presents a plaque to Mrs. Amino.

Mrs. Aquino: So many gifts! Thank you so much. I am so happy that we could see each other.

Corazon Aquino: Philippines' Mother-Heart

Our dear President, Corazon Aquino,
In self-giving you are numero uno!
Philippines' queen and Philippines' mother-heart,
You gave the clarion call for a oneness-start.
Corazon Aquino, a morning song.
In you your country's hope and promise throng.

Meeting with Jaime Cardinal Sin

Jaime L...

Jaime L. Cardinal Sin is the spiritual leader of the Filipino people, who courageously criticised the corrupt dictatorship and inspired the people to peaceful and prayerful action behind Corazon Aquino.

"It Is Good That You Have Come"

Sri Chinmoy: I am so moved, Father, that you have allowed me to come here to be blessed by you. Last year I met Cardinal Hume in London and was blessed by him.

Cardinal Sin: It is good that you have come because this is the day of peace, and we are trying our best to unite the country. We are divided because of political reasons, but today we are asking the people all over the country to unite.

Sri Chinmoy: I read your New Year's Message and I was so deeply impressed.

Cardinal Sin: Maybe some of the rebels will come to the Cathedral tonight, and this will further the peace process.

Sri Chinmoy: I am so happy to learn that you offer your wisdom-light to politicians. Many people are afraid of dealing with politics and politicians. In your case, you are very kind to shed your light on the political field.

Cardinal Sin: If spiritual people do not help them, they might go wrong. Many times politicians have come to my house and we have talked. We talk with them and tell them that this is wrong and this is right. If they listen, well and good; if they do not listen, what can we do? But at least we are able to proclaim the truth.

Sri Chinmoy: If you tell them to do the right thing and they do not listen to you, what can you do?

Cardinal Sin: Many times they do listen. I feel we are doing our duty in the world: we should be the salt of the earth; we should be the light of the world. Of course, one cannot force somebody to go to Heaven if he prefers to go to hell.

Sri Chinmoy: We cannot force anybody, but we can inspire people to do the right thing. We can bring the food right up to their mouth. But if they keep their mouth closed, how can we put it in?

Cardinal Sin: That is what St. Augustine said: "God, Who created you without asking you, will not save you without consulting you." So our salvation and our cooperation go together. It is difficult to listen to God. We have to listen to Him in the silence and the stillness of peace. For me, prayer is not talking; prayer is listening to the Voice of God, who speaks to us.

Sri Chinmoy: It is like a flame climbing up from the heart. The flame climbs up and the Grace descends in the form of a Message. God's Message descends and quenches the thirst of our aspiring heart.

It is so good to know your wisdom-light. You are so great, Father, to deal with politics. Usually spiritual people are afraid of dealing with politicians because they don't take spiritual people seriously. But in your case, you are not only spiritually but also psychically and mentally so powerful! That is why they are bound to listen to you.

Non-Violent Revolution

Cardinal Sin: We saved the country because of what we did. We call it a non-violent revolution.

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, the Father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi, taught us that non-violence is the greatest weapon.

Cardinal Sin: And then we were able to drive the dictator away through non-violence. We were just praying and praying, fasting and fasting — imitating Mahatma Gandhi.

Sri Chinmoy: Mahatma Gandhi used to say that nonviolence is the power of the soul, the power of our inner existence. The power of the inner existence is much greater than any man-made problems which we have created for ourselves.

Cardinal Sin: God's greatest gift to humankind is freedom. So man is always praying to be free.

Sri Chinmoy: Inwardly man is already free. Man is like a bird that can fly away at any moment. But we put the bird in a cage and then we say that the bird cannot fly. Who put the bird inside the cage? It is we human beings who have put the bird inside the cage, and then we blame the bird. Our ignorance is a cage. We have allowed ignorance to bind us, and then we say, We can't be free, we can't be free!" But it is we who have allowed ignorance to bind us; it is we who have bound ourselves.

Cardinal Sin: There are also people who are outwardly free, but who are still enslaved by their own greed and vices. So they are not really free because they are controlled by their vices.

Sri Chinmoy: They are possessed by their own possessions. The possessor is possessed by his possessions — as you mentioned, Father, by his material greed.

Cardinal Sin: Money is a necessary evil, but we cannot allow money to control us. We should be the ones to control money. What happens, however, is that money becomes the enslaver of humankind; it becomes our God. That is wrong. There are so many things to reflect on in this world. People should reflect and meditate.I wish to thank you for your presence tonight.

Sri Chinmoy: I am most grateful to you. I have come here to be blessed by you and to be in your blessingful presence.

Cardinal Sin: We should bless one another. You bless me and I will bless you.

Pope Paul VI

Sri Chinmoy: The first time I met with Pope Paul VI...

Cardinal Sin: You met him?

Sri Chinmoy: Three times! I have met with the present Pope, John Paul II, three times and his predecessor also I met three times. When I met Pope Paul VI, he was blessingfully appreciating my activities at the United Nations and elsewhere. He said to me, "Your Hindu philosophy and my Christian philosophy are absolutely the same." Then he said to me, "When you and I leave this body, we shall be together."

Cardinal Sin: What a beautiful prediction!

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, he made that prediction. Both the present Pope and his predecessor have been extremely, extremely kind to me.

Cardinal Sin: We had a meeting in Japan and the one who represented the Hindu religion was the nephew of Mahatma Gandhi. And there was someone from the Muslim faith — the Executive General Secretary, who is living in Sri Lanka. The Dalai Lama was also there. We were talking about peace. In our talks there were no differences.

Sri Chinmoy: All roads lead to God's House. That is our destination. Although we may live in different houses, because we were born into different religions, our destination is the same.

Cardinal Sin: I said, "We are all saying the same thing. Only your terminology is different." They said, "Yes, there is nothing different. We will all go to Heaven because we are all seeking peace."

Sri Chinmoy: Peace-dreamers, peace-lovers and peace-promoters are all in the same boat. So we are all in the same boat.

Cardinal Sin: "Blessed are the peace-makers because they will see the Face of God." It is one of the Beatitudes. May God bless you and please bless me!

Meeting with Senator Leticia Shahani

Senator Leticia Ramos Shahani, A Sister Of...

Senator Leticia Ramos Shahani, a sister of President Fidel Ramos, has served her country and the world in a number of capacities. Previously she was an Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.

My Most Esteemed Sister

Sri Chinmoy: My most esteemed sister, yesterday I read and reread the compassion-flooded words you wrote about me to our beloved President Ramos. Although I have written millions of words in quite a few books, I do not know how I can adequately express the gratitude I have in the inmost recesses of my heart. In deep silence I am offering to you my heart's soulful and prayerful gratitude.

Sri Chinmoy meditates briefly.

Just an hour ago these young student-friends of mine left under my door a very short resume of your life's activities and achievements. I was so deeply moved. Your lofty vision and your illumining and fulfilling achievements belong not only to your country but to the whole world.

Each individual comes into existence in a particular country. From the one life-tree come many branches with countless flowers, fruits and leaves. The life-tree blossoms in the various parts of the world and brings us the message of Eternity's oneness. This Eternity's oneness you see and feel so clearly. You feel the entire world as your oneness-home and you are consciously expressing this soulful love for the entire world. Forgive me, esteemed sister, I have not come to offer you a sermon. Only I am expressing my heart's most sincere gratitude for the kind message that you gave to your dear brother about me.

Senator Shahani: You are welcome, Sri Chinmoy. I am glad to have this pleasure of meeting you before you leave the Philippines. I used to hear about you when I was at the U.N. because U Thant was my first boss. But I never had the chance to meet you. And I have many Indian links. My late husband was Indian, and my father was the first Ambassador of the Philippines to India.

Sri Chinmoy: There is a time we call God's choice Hour. You were at the U.N. in New York for so many years working in so many capacities. I also have been living in New York for the last 29 years, but we never had the opportunity to meet. Here — at long last!

Secretary-General U Thant was extremely, extremely kind to me, and with my heart's utmost humility I would like to say we became very close friends. I wrote a book about him and also we exchanged quite a few letters. As you know, he was a devotee of Lord Buddha. I wrote a play about the Lord Buddha, and U Thant was so kind as to come and preside over the function where it was performed. He encouraged me sincerely and blessingfully in my activities at the United Nations. There we have lots of activities. We invite the delegates and staff to come and pray. And if countries have a special day, we try to bring to the fore their good qualities. We try to encourage and inspire them in our own way with our prayers and meditations.

You have three children, I believe? Their names are Ranjit, Chandra and Lila?

Senator Shahani: Ranjit is Vice-Governor of a province here. He is a young, idealistic, still unmarried young man. Chandra is a boy, actually. He was born in 1969, when the first man landed on the moon. My husband said we had to link this boy with the moon somehow, so that's how he came to have a girl's name. But he likes it. Lila is a girl. She teaches at the University.

Sri Chinmoy: Lila means Cosmic Game, Ranjit is conqueror and Chandra represents the moon. And may I know the meaning of your name?

Senator Shahani: It's a Latin name — really, a Spanish name. Our ancestors were Ba'hai. It means joy.

Are you happy with the results of your trip here, Sri Chinmoy?

Sri Chinmoy: I am more than happy. I have been blessed most generously by the heart and the soul of your country. Mine, as you know, is not a mission. It is only a feeling of oneness I try to express wherever we go. We are trying to serve mankind. We depend on the light that we have within. Our inner light has to come to the fore. Otherwise, we will not be able to fulfil our God-ordained task on earth.

As I mentioned a few minutes ago, we are all part of the one life-tree. So the life-tree wants to branch out and offer its good qualities to others. I tell my students that each individual is composed of good and bad qualities. Our shortcomings we try to minimise with the hope we will be able to diminish them and eventually do away with them. Again, our good qualities we try to increase and multiply. Today if I have one good thought or one good feeling, then tomorrow I would like to have two. Like this there is no end to our progress. When we want to descend, easily we can touch the abysmal abyss. Again, if we want to go up, we can go high, higher, highest.