Part I: Poet and poetry

University of Washington

February 20, 1998

Dear Sri Chinmoy:

I am very pleased to invite you to the University of Washington as a Visiting Poet on April 2, 1998. Your Peace Concert will take place in Roethke Auditorium in Kane Hall (in the center of campus) at 7:30 p.m. on April 2. We are now arranging a location for your poetry and art display. Our university has been the home to many renowned writers, including Theodore Roethke, for whom the hall in which you will be performing was named.

On behalf of the Department of English, Professor Charles Johnson and I will be very honored to present you with the Light of Asia award for sharing your wisdom with millions of people worldwide. We are very much looking forward to your Peace Concert and also to the display of your poetry and artwork. Your visit is a great honor for our students, faculty and staff, and we are proud that the Department of English has been given the opportunity to serve as the sponsor of your visit to our campus.


Shawn Wong, Chairman

Department of English

cc: Professor Charles Johnson
Susan Williams, Administrator
Janie Smith, Program Coordinator

Introduction and award presentation

Kane Hall
University of Washington
2 April 1998

MRS. PAM SCHELL (First Lady of Seattle): I'm so pleased that I can be here and participate, and to be on this very stage with Sri Chinmoy. I will pass this wonderful feeling back to my husband so that he can bring it back to the people he sees every day. He sees thousands of people one way or another, or through Channel 28. We are so pleased that the former Mayor, Mayor Rice, made Seattle a Peace City, and we will carry on that tradition by promoting that idea to all our people.

(She reads the letter from her husband, Mayor Paul Schell.)

PROFESSOR SHAWN WONG (Chairman, Department of English): It gives me great joy to welcome all of you here tonight. I am extremely honoured and happy to introduce to you Sri Chinmoy, a true man of peace and a renowned spiritual leader. We are grateful that he accepted our invitation, on behalf of the Department of English and the entire University of Washington, to come to our university as a Visiting Poet.

Born in a small village in East Bengal, India and educated in a vibrant spiritual community in southern India, Sri Chinmoy has lived in America since 1964. He has tirelessly devoted his life to the pursuit of world peace and to the inspiration of millions of citizens from all walks of life. He has been a true friend and support to many of the revered leaders of our age, including Mother Teresa, Presidents Mikhail Gorbachev and Nelson Mandela and Princess Diana. In fact, Mother Teresa and Sri Chinmoy spoke for the last time on August 27th last year, the birthday they shared. Just ten days before she passed on, she said to him: "All that you are doing for the world is for the Glory of God and the good of people! Pray for me. I will pray for you and for all of your many projects for world peace."

We are especially happy to have this universal man of peace here with us at the University of Washington because he is an example of the unimaginable creative potential which we all possess, but to which we rarely have access. The beautiful peace-birds and uplifting poetry display which you saw upon entering Kane Hall are part of a vast collection of more than 9 million peace-bird drawings and over 62,000 poems which Sri Chinmoy has created. As well, he has authored over 1,200 published books and composed more than 14,000 songs. When asked to share the secret of his vast creative offerings, he answers: "My goal is self-transcendence. ... Every day I pray and meditate to become a better human being so that I can be of better service to mankind."

In his inspiring life's work, Sri Chinmoy is a living embodiment of the wisdom offered by our great moral and spiritual leaders...

Of Mahatma Gandhi, who said, "I believe that if one man gains spirituality, the whole world gains with him."

Of Martin Luther King, Jr., who in his sermon The Drum Major Instinct told us: "I want you to be first in love. I want you to be first in moral excellence. I want you to be first in generosity."

Of his dear friend Mother Teresa, who recited the transformative Prayer of St. Francis during an interfaith programme at the United Nations in 1975 at which Sri Chinmoy offered the opening silent meditation:

"For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; It is in dying to selfishness that we are born to eternal life."

Sri Chinmoy has given of himself greatly as a servant to all those who wish to lead the life of the spirit. For him the Supreme is not the sole property of any particular spiritual faith, but all the world's enduring faiths are like many rivers that flow into the same sea of love and selfless service. He has become a shining exemplar of the motto of our own University, "Lux Sit," "Let there be Light."

It is with great joy, then, that I wish to present to Sri Chinmoy The Light of Asia Award.

NOTE: The text of the award plaque reads: "The Light of Asia Award is presented to Sri Chinmoy by the University of Washington, Department of English, April 2, 1998, for sharing his spiritual inspiration, his creativity and his wisdom with millions of people worldwide. Illumining the ancient Eastern message of humanity's oneness, he has shown us through his writings, art, music, silent peace invocation and global peace programmes that the betterment of humanity begins within the heart of each and every individual."

Poet and poetry

A poet has three very special names: yesterday's delight-seeker, today's delight-seer and tomorrow's delight-harbinger.

There are three types of poets: ordinary poets, great poets and seer-poets. Ordinary poets grow like mushrooms in infinite number. The great poets are few and far between and are also known as born poets. The seer-poets are of the supreme heights. A seer is he who envisions the present, the past and the future all at once.

Poetry has three very special names: inspiration-mind, aspiration-heart and beauty-life.

God wanted to have a very, very special garden of His own. He asked His poet-son to be the gardener. He also asked the gardener to create a garden as beautiful as possible and, at the same time, as small as possible.

The poet-gardener devotedly asked God if there was any esoteric purpose for the garden to be smaller than the smallest and beautiful, more beautiful, most beautiful.

God said to His newly appointed poet-gardener, "What is poetry, if not My real Beauty? Do you not recall what My English poet-son Keats' immortal utterance is: 'A thing of Beauty is a Joy forever'? Beauty and Infinity are inseparable. I want to reveal the Infinity that I am through the finite that I equally am. Therefore, I am asking you to make Me a garden of beauty unfathomable and beauty unsurpassable."

God further said to His poet-gardener, "My son, once you have accomplished your task to My Satisfaction, I shall entrust you with another task. You will be the only flute player in My garden. Infinity's Beauty-lovers from the four corners of the globe shall visit and drink deep the beauty of our garden."

The difference between a prose writer and a poet is this:

A prose writer is a marcher. He marches and marches along Eternity's Road to arrive at Infinity's Goal.

A poet is a singer. He sings and sings along Eternity's Road to arrive at Infinity's Goal.

The prose writer has thunder-legs.

The poet has lightning-feet.

Arriving at the destination, the prose writer declares,

"I have become."

Arriving at the same destination, the poet whispers,

"I eternally am."

I have been writing prose and poetry for over half a century. I am very happily and proudly sailing in the boat of Coleridge:

"I wish our clever poets would remember...Prose: words in their best order. Poetry: the best words in the best order."

Again, it is illumining to read a comment by Rabindranath Tagore, the master poet of India, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913. He writes:

"I wonder why the writing of pages of prose does not give anything like the joy of completing a single poem. One's emotions take such perfection of form in a poem, they can be taken up by the fingers, so to speak. While prose is like a sackful of loose material, incapable of being lifted as you please."

Poetry I read to lighten my mind and enlighten my heart.

Poetry I read to sweeten my bitter mind.

Poetry I read to replace my heart's sorrows with my soul's ecstasy.

Poetry I read to transform my human mind-jungle into my divine heart-garden.

Poetry I read to fathom my own inner worlds and to scale my own higher worlds.

Poetry I read to see and feel Divinity's Beauty inside the heart of humanity.

Poetry I read to watch the hide-and-seek of my heart's tearing tears and my soul's blossoming smiles.

Poetry teaches my heart infinitely more than it preaches to my mind.

Ancient poetry pined for inner freedom. Modern poetry hungers for outer freedom.

Since, according to many, I am a modern poet, I do not know how I can escape from Goethe's irrefutable observation of modern poets: "Modern poets mix too much water with their ink."

Ancient poetry paid more attention to the Unknowable than the knowable. Modern poetry maximises the power of the knowable and allows the Unknowable to remain a stranger, a perfect stranger.

The ancient poetry-boat was quite often overloaded with poetry-passenger-readers. The modern poetry-boat is quite often empty of poetry-passenger-readers.

Now what about those who are not poetry-lovers at all — no, not even poetry-readers? They do not care in the least either for ancient poetry or for modern poetry. Dear audience, with your soul's permission, I am crying ditto to a statement by Anthony Hope Hawkins:

"I wish you would read a little poetry sometimes. Your ignorance cramps my conversation."

Ancient poetry loved to swim in the sea of tears. Modern poetry loves to surf in the ocean of laughter.

Poetry tells the world, "O world, I am a flower. Appreciate my beauty if you want to. Enjoy my fragrance if you want to. But do not expect from me anything more than my beauty and my fragrance. If you expect anything more, you will be doomed to disappointment."

Poetry tells the world, "O world, I can teach you how to smile, even while you are crying."

In my case also, I have my own ancient poetry and modern poetry. My ancient poetry embodied my inner cry:

A sea of Peace and Joy and Light
Beyond my reach I know.
In me the storm-tossed weeping night
Finds room to rage and flow.

My modern poetry reveals my inner smile:

I am flying and flying
On Immortality's Wings
In Infinity's Sky.

When I started my poetry-journey, my inner experiences and realisations spontaneously expressed themselves through the power-aspect:

No mind, no form, I only exist;
Now ceased all will and thought.
The final end of Nature's dance,
I am It whom I have sought.


My spirit aware of all the heights,
I am mute in the core of the Sun.
I barter nothing with time and deeds;
My cosmic play is done.

As I continue my poetry-journey, my inner experiences and realisations spontaneously express themselves through humility and devotion-aspects:

My Lord,
Your Love has entrapped my eyes,
My heart, my life and my all.
May I be allowed to entrap
The hallowed dust of Your Feet?

Throughout my poetry-journey, my poetry-tree has cherished various branches: philosophy, prayer, religion, spirituality, my love of Nature's beauty, my love of word-making, which the English language indulgently allows me to explore, and my abiding love, concern and hope for this world of ours.

When nationalism captures my mind, I soulfully sing:

I dearly love my India
And her age-old silence-peace.

When internationalism embraces my heart, I offer my sleepless and breathless prayer-song to God:

My Lord, do give me the capacity
To wipe every tear
From every heart.

Wherever I go, Nature's beauty enters into me and feeds me with abundant inspiration:

The sky calls me.
The wind calls me.
The moon and stars call me.
The green and dense groves call me.
The dance of the fountain calls me.
Smiles call me, tears call me.
A faint melody calls me.
The morn, noon and eve call me.

Everyone is searching for a playmate.
Everyone is calling me, "Come, come!"
One voice, one sound, all around.
Alas, the Boat of Time sails on.

It was Horace who offered us the following illumining definition of poets: "Poets, the first instructors of mankind."

May I add,

Poets, the first God-Beauty-lovers
of God-Nature-creation.

Poetry is not something to be understood.
Poetry is not something even to be felt.
Poetry is something to discover one's universal Reality.
Poetry is something to uncover one's transcendental Divinity.

I am deeply honoured to be talking to you in this august hall dedicated to Theodore Roethke, the esteemed American poet who was a beloved professor and poet-in-residence at this university. According to my humble opinion, Theodore Roethke was truly a God-Beauty-lover in God the creation. I would like to end my talk today by invoking the presence of his bright illumination-soul: "The Light Comes Brighter," which celebrates the simultaneous arrival of Spring in nature and in the mind:

"...soon a branch, part of a hidden scene,
The leafy mind, that long was tightly furled,
Will turn its private substance into green,
And young shoots spread upon our inner world."

My highly esteemed Chairman Shawn Wong, my lovingly revered Professor Charles Johnson, your university is unique for its motto: "Lux Sit," "Let there be Light." Your love of light, both the light of the soul and the light of the mind, is supremely unparalleled. Today you are kindly, compassionately and blessingfully honouring me with The Light of Asia Award. In silence-secrecy-ecstasy I am sowing the seeds of my heart's gratitude-tears and gratitude-smiles in your beauty-non-pareil-heart-gardens.

Part II: Indian philosophy: a glimpse (Florida International University)

Letter of introduction

Florida International University

April 21, 1998

Dear Sri Chinmoy:

It gives me great pleasure to invite you to speak at Florida International University in the Wertheim Performing Arts Center, on May 26, 1998 as a visiting philosopher.

I have had the privilege of meeting you before, and I am sure your audience at FIU will be delighted to hear your words, your music, and your presence. The Department of Religious Studies is working with the local Sri Chinmoy Centre on all arrangements, and we look forward to seeing you in Miami next month, and to presenting you with a plaque honoring you as "India's Peace-Service-Tree" to mark this auspicious occasion.

Yours sincerely,

Nathan Katz

Professor and Chair
Department of Religious Studies
University Park, Miami, Florida 33199
Equal Opportunity/Equal Access Employer and Institution
Wertheim Performing Arts Center
Florida International University

26 May 1998

Introduction and award presentation

DR. NATHAN KATZ (Chairman, Department of Religious Studies): Good evening, and welcome for this truly wonderful occasion. First I should welcome you on behalf of Florida International University, which is one of the most dynamic and robust universities to be found anywhere. Recently, FIU has been ranked among the top one hundred public universities in America, and having just celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary, we are the youngest university in that company.

I would also like to welcome you on behalf of the Department of Religious Studies, which although it is just three years old, offers both B.A. and M.A. programmes. Our eight faculty teach some 1,800 students each year about the religions of India, Japan, Africa, the Caribbean and America; about ethics, about Western scripture, about environmental studies, and about Judaism. We welcome your enquiries. We hope this will not be your last encounter with our Department.

Our Department also presents annually a lecture series, often provocative, but on evenings such as this one, I think, inspirational. We believe, as a public university, that we have an obligation for education beyond our classroom. In this light we regularly bring leading scholars of religion into this series, as well as religious leaders who we believe have a message that is important and timely. In this latter category we have had such people as Imam Warith Din Mohammed, President of the American Muslim Mission, and the Hasidic rabbi and psychiatrist Rabbi Abraham Twersky. One year from now we will be welcoming His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In the past, the Pope has been a speaker at this university. And this evening we are so happy and honoured to have with us Sri Chinmoy.

It has been a pleasure, Guru-ji, to work with the people from the Sri Chinmoy Centre here. Working with them, I get a sense of boundless energy enveloped in a cloak of serenity. And from what I know of your work, I think that typifies your teaching. I am very proud to have you with us. I attended one of your Peace Concerts, of which you have given more than 500. At that concert I was deeply struck by many things, but one in particular I will ask those of you in the audience to watch for. I was struck by the very deep meditation out of which the music emerged. So tonight I invite you to watch Sri Chinmoy very closely. Watch him with your mind's eye, and perhaps you will see what I think I saw.

Sri Chinmoy is a world-renowned meditation teacher and peace activist, and we will be honouring him for his work in this latter area shortly. As part of his efforts to promote peace around the world, he has begun a programme of designating certain landmarks as Peace-Blossoms. I was very happy to learn that our State of Florida has been blessed by that designation as a Peace-Blossom. May it be so!

In order to inspire that peace which begins only in the heart and in the mind, Sri Chinmoy has offered the U Thant Peace Award to a number of world leaders, including Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev and the Pope. It seems that Sri Chinmoy and Secretary-General U Thant were close friends, sharing a love of meditation and a hope for world peace. It is a significant coincidence, I think, that U Thant preceded Sri Chinmoy to FIU by more than 25 years. You see, U Thant was present on this campus at its groundbreaking ceremony in 1971.

Now, Guru-ji, if I may, I have three things to present to you, in increasing order of importance. The first, just so you will know something of our programmes in religious studies at FIU: our newsletter. We also publish an academic journal here, the Journal of Indo-Judaic studies, which is quite unique in the world. And I am very happy to give you this plaque.

[The plaque reads: "India's Peace-Service-Tree Award is presented to Sri Chinmoy in recognition of his tireless efforts to offer India's timeless wisdom to the cause of world peace."]

SRI CHINMOY: I bow and bow and bow to the ever-illumining soul and the ever-blossoming heart of Florida International University.

My highly esteemed Brother-Friend, Professor Nathan Katz, I wish to offer you gratitude from the inmost recesses of my heart for so kindly and compassionately inviting me to visit your august university. Professor Katz, you have just blessed me with the title "India's Peace-Service-Tree." I shall treasure this blessingful award most prayerfully and most soulfully. I shall try to be worthy of your compassionate award, "India's Peace-Service-Tree." May my life grow into a true peace-service-tree so that I can be of prayerful and soulful service to humanity.

Professor Katz and members of Florida International University, each individual is serving God in a unique, unique way. Each individual is a choice instrument of God to love Him, to serve Him and to fulfil Him. Here I have come to be of service to the Supreme in you all, and may my service be kindly and affectionately accepted by you all.

I would like to give a short talk on philosophy: "Indian Philosophy: A Glimpse."

Indian philosophy: A glimpse

The philosophy of the mind says:
God perhaps has.
The philosophy of the heart says:
God certainly is.
The philosophy of life says:
God is both the seeker and the Sought.

When I go beyond the mind-philosophy, I declare:

No mind, no form, I only exist;
Now ceased all will and thought.
The final end of Nature's dance,
I am It whom I have sought.


My spirit aware of all the heights,
I am mute in the core of the Sun.
I barter nothing with time and deeds;
My cosmic play is done.

When I go beyond the heart-philosophy, I whisper:

Sweet is my Lord.
Him I have realised as the Eternal Truth.
Sweeter is my Lord.
Him I have realised as the only Doer.
Sweetest is my Lord.
Him I have realised as the Enjoyer Supreme.

When I go beyond the life-philosophy, I promise:

Never to meet again:
My yesterday's face,
My backward race,
Never to meet again.

Never to meet again:
The clasp of death
And Satan's breath,
Never to meet again.

Never to meet again:
Chinmoy the failure,
Ignorance sure,
Never to meet again.

The cruel critics of philosophy say that philosophy is nowhere to nothingness and nothingness to nowhere. The same critics say that philosophy is absurdity's longevity. They also venture to say that in everything there is a winner, but when two philosophers fight, there is no winner, no loser. In this connection, I wish to cite the opposing views of two immortals in their different fields. Beethoven, who is vested with supreme authority in the musical world, says:

"Music is a higher revelation than philosophy."

Fortunately, Milton, the immortal epic poet, is there to gainsay this denigration of philosophy. Milton writes:

"How charming is divine philosophy!
Not harsh and crabbed as dull fools suppose,
But musical as is Apollo's lute."

Between the two, I must needs cast my vote with Milton and place philosophy on the same level as music in its capacity to reveal and manifest the Divine here on earth.

To me, philosophy is the mind-clearance. Philosophy is the heart-assurance. Philosophy is the life-transcendence.

The philosophy of my mind says: "I doubt."
The philosophy of my heart says: "I hope."
The philosophy of my life says: "I am lost."
The philosophy of my soul says: "I promise."
The philosophy of my Lord says: "It is all done."

In May 1882, the great German scholar Max Müller delivered a series of lectures at Cambridge University. The first was entitled, "What Can India Teach Us?" Professor Muller expressed himself most powerfully and succinctly by saying:

"If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered over the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions to some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant-I should point to India.

"And if I were to ask myself from what literature we, here in Europe, we, who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of one Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw that corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human, a life, not for this life only, but a transfigured and eternal life-again I should point to India."

When Max Müller ventured to study India's ancient scriptures, the Vedas, in their original Sanskrit, he truly discovered the wealth of meaning behind Hamlet's words: "There are more things in Heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

With your kind permission, I wish to take a leaf from Professor Muller's life-book and ask, "What can Indian philosophy teach us?"

Indian philosophy does not subscribe to the salvation from sin philosophy. Indian philosophy subscribes to the liberation from ignorance-night philosophy. It offers to humanity an unparalleled prayer:

Lead me from the unreal to the Real.
Lead me from darkness to Light.
Lead me from death to Immortality.

This kind of philosophy is not God-speculation, but soulful God-invocation based on an intuitive certainty of God's existence. Hence, we can never apply to it the criticism made by Keats that "Philosophy will clip an angel's wings." Indeed, Indian philosophy is most closely connected with that of the ancient Greeks. It was Socrates who declared, "The unexamined life is not worth living," and Plato who said, "True philosophers are lovers of the vision of Truth."

In order to understand Indian philosophy, we must first realise that it is founded upon Spirit and Matter. Spirit plays the role of involution. Matter plays the role of evolution. Spirit is inward dive. Matter is upward flight.

Now, God has a habit of repeating Himself so that nobody remains with His Philosophy unlearned. In India, this divine philosophy has been embodied and expressed in age after age by her spiritual Masters and Avatars, or direct descendants of God.

India's first Avatar Sri Ramachandra's philosophy is:

Obedience and sacrifice.

Sri Krishna's philosophy is:

Give up all religions.
"Take shelter in Me."
"You I shall liberate."
"Be thou only an instrument."
"You have the right to work, but not to the fruits thereof."

Lord Buddha's philosophy is:

Compassion and forgiveness.

Sri Chaitanya's philosophy is:

Love unconditionally.
Everybody has the right to deserve love.

India's philosopher unparalleled Sri Shankaracharya's philosophy is:

Neti, neti. Not this, not this.
The world is an illusion.

Sri Ramakrishna's philosophy is:

The synthesis of all religions.
Be a child-heart; God will immediately be all yours.

Swami Vivekananda's philosophy is:

Be brave.
Have adamantine will-power.
"The soul cannot be won by the weakling."

Sri Aurobindo's philosophy is:

The acceptance of life.
Yoga integral.
"Fate can be changed by an unchanging Will."
"We are sons of God and must be even as He."

Ramana Maharshi's philosophy is:

"Who am I? Who am I?"

Since I am a son of my Mother India, I, too, have my own philosophy. My philosophy is:

Love, devotion and surrender.
Love the Supreme in humanity.
Devote yourself to the Supreme in humanity.
Surrender yourself to the Supreme in humanity.

Each philosopher-sage of the highest order realises the Truth in his own way. Each one creates a path which others may follow in order to arrive at the Destination: the Golden Shore of the Beyond. But the Truth itself does not vary. That is why we say that the Indian philosophy, the Indian religion and the Indian spirituality all have the self-same source.

Satyameva jayate

Truth alone triumphs.

Part III: Poetry the winner

University of British Columbia

Letter of introduction

The University of British Columbia

Institute of Asian Research

C.K. Choi Building, Room 251

1855 West Mall

Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6T 1Z2

7 April 1998

Dear Sri Chinmoy,

It gives me great pleasure to invite you as a Visiting Poet to the University of British Columbia on behalf of the Cross-Cultural Literary Studies Group at the Institute of Asian Research. As Chair and Coordinator of the Group, which endeavours to bring together the literary treasures of Asia for the university community, I welcome this opportunity to extend our invitation to a poet, artist and musician of your eminence. Your Peace Concert will be held at the Chan Centre on June 2 during your stay in Vancouver. We will also be pleased to see your art displayed and we are looking at the arrangements.

We will be delighted to present you with a Dreamer of Peace award to recognize your endeavour to bring about World Peace. You have touched many hearts worldwide and I feel very happy to be able to sponsor your visit to our campus.

With sincere regards,

Mandakranta Bose

Chair and Coordinator
Cross-Cultural Literary Studies in
Asia Group
Institute of Asian Research
University of British Columbia

Introduction and award presentation

Chan Centre

University of British Columbia


2 June 1998

PROFESSOR MANDAKRANTA BOSE (Chair and Co-ordinator, Cross-Cultural Literary Studies in Asia Group): Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It is a pleasure and delight to welcome Sri Chinmoy to the University of British Columbia.

(Reading the text of the "Dreamer of Peace" award) "Sri Chinmoy is a fervent and tireless dreamer of humanity's most cherished dream, the dream of peace amongst all peoples of the world family. It is to this sterling vision that Sri Chinmoy has sleeplessly and undauntedly dedicated his life. His service to peace includes an enormous body of creative offerings that uplift and ennoble the human spirit. These include poetry, plays, essays, paintings, drawings and musical compositions. Through his artistic works as well as his Peace Concert series, the international Peace-Blossom programme, and the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, countless men and women worldwide have gained the inspiration to serve the cause of world peace. By sharing his peace-vision in myriad ways, Sri Chinmoy has abundantly revealed the wisdom and beauty of a life consecrated to higher ideals. May his peace- dream and peace-service grow into an abiding and universal reality for all humanity."

As a token of appreciation from the programme in Inter-Cultural Studies in Asia at the Institute of Asian Research, I am deeply honoured to offer this award to Sri Chinmoy.

SRI CHINMOY: I wish to offer gratitude from the inmost recesses of my heart to our esteemed Professor Mandakranta Bose for so lovingly and compassionately inviting me to this august university and for blessingfully honouring me today with this signal honour, the "Dreamer of Peace" award.

Professor Bose, I am deeply moved by your personal concern and powerful determination to arrange my entire visit. My admiring mind applauds and applauds you for your many significant official responsibilities which you so capably carry. My aspiring heart unmistakably and proudly feels the teeming divine qualities-inspiring, aspiring and self-giving qualities-which you have, and from your Bengali heart, you are sharing so lovingly and unreservedly with all, near and far.

Poetry the winner

A poet sees what we cannot see — the highest Beauty's golden crown, the deepest Beauty's golden throne.

A poet feels what we cannot feel — oneness with the sorrows of Eternity, oneness with the joys of Infinity.

They say a poet is born and not made — not true, not true, not true. I am an eye-witness. Many supreme poets at the dawn of their poetry-adventure were nothing but pathetic.

Again, there are many late-bloomer poets. We do not know how and when God's Compassion-Eye descends on them.

True, poetry and poverty are good friends, but poverty has its own joy. To feel that joy, we needs must have a different heart-breath. That heart-breath only a poet can claim. At times, the outer poverty can be an illumining expression of an inner purity.

Poetry and invisibility are dear friends.

Poetry and invisibility are great admirers.

Poetry and invisibility are perfect oneness-heart-flyers, divers and runners.

When a poet sits in deep contemplation, who can say to which realm his thoughts are winging? Lord Byron jests, "Poetry should only occupy the idle." But the idle moments of his own life were not spent uselessly. Even in idleness, the inspiration-promise of dynamism can burst forth. In Don Juan, for example, Byron writes:

"The mountains look on Marathon —
And Marathon looks on the sea;
And musing there an hour alone,
I dream'd that Greece might still be free."

When the present mind enters into the bosom of the past, we tend to glorify the past, but when the present is with us, we treat the present either in a humorous vein or in a contemptuous vein:

"A poet in history is divine, but a poet in the next room is a joke." — Max Eastman

Indeed, inside each human being there is a poet. I fully concur with Joubert:

"You will find poetry nowhere, unless you bring some with you."

We must have a subtle poetic touch of our own to appreciate and admire poetry.

Poetry and truth are inextricably linked. The Sanskrit word for poet is kavi. Kavi means "he who envisions". What does he envision? He envisions the truth in its seed-form. Once more I wish to invoke Joubert. His sublime realisation is:

"You arrive at the truth through poetry; I arrive at poetry through truth."

I have been a poet all my life and I have been a dreamer of truth as well. Inside my heart I feel that these two players — the poet and the dreamer — are at once interchangeable and inseparable. That is why I wrote many years ago, at the dawn of my poetry-journey:

Arise, awake, O friend of my dream.
Arise, awake, O breath of my life.
Arise, awake, O light of my eyes.
O seer-poet in me,
Do manifest yourself in me
And through me.

What is my poetry and what do I actually expect from my poetry?

O my poetry,
You are the lotus of my heart.
You bring into my heart
Nectar-Light from Heaven.
When my life flows
With the river of sorrow
With its countless waves,
May your magic touch
Hide me in the waters of liberation-sea.

At this point, I wish to cite the words of a certain poet. History has not preserved his name, but this veil of anonymity only serves to heighten the essential invisibility of a true poet. It is not we, but God, who writes poetry in and through us.

"Each time you pick a daffodil
Or gather violets on some hill
Or touch a leaf or see a tree,
It's all God whispering,
'This is Me.' "

Something of tremendous importance in my life I wish to share with you. I cannot help reproducing a few momentous words from India's greatest poet Rabindranath Tagore's poem "Fruit Gathering":

"To the birds You gave songs, the birds
gave You songs in return.
You gave me only voice, yet asked for
more, and I sing.


Being both a prose-mind-writer and a poetry-heart-writer, I have made a supreme discovery in my own life: every time there is a competitive race between my prose-mind and my poetry-heart to arrive at God's Golden Palace, my poetry-heart invariably wins. How and why? Because, unlike my prose-mind, my poetry-heart sees invisibility's reality-existence-life.

Part IV: Creativity: the amalgam of sorrows and joys

University of Victoria

Letter of introduction

27 April 1998

Dear Sri Chinmoy,

It gives us great pleasure to invite you as a Visiting Artist to the University of Victoria on June 3, 1998, on behalf of the Faculty of Fine Arts and the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society. We welcome this opportunity to extend our invitation to a poet, artist and musician of your caliber.

We have arranged to hold your Peace Concert in the David Lam Auditorium at 7:30 pm on June 3, and we will display your poetry and Peace Birds in the foyer.

We will be honoured to present you with a plaque entitled Sri Chinmoy: A Student of Peace for sharing your wisdom with millions of people worldwide. Your work is an example of the unimaginable creative potential which we all possess but which we rarely have access.

We feel very happy to be able to sponsor your visit to our campus.

With sincere regards,

Lynda Gammon, Dean of Fine Arts Dr. Harold Coward, Director, Centre for Studies in Religion and Society

Introduction and award presentation

David Lam Auditorium
University of Victoria

3 June 1998

DR. HAROLD COWARD (Director, Centre for Studies in Religion and Society): Thank you very much. It is a pleasure for me to be here. Sri Chinmoy was born in 1931 in a small village in East Bengal, India. He spent much of his youth in a spiritual community in southern India absorbing the ancient Eastern and Western wisdom and developing his own inner vision and dedication to peace. There he meditated intensively. He wrote and avidly participated in athletics, excelling in the sprints and the decathlon.

Then, following his own inner guidance, he journeyed to the West in 1964, making his home in New York City, where he has resided since. For over three decades, Sri Chinmoy has tirelessly dedicated his life to the pursuit of world peace and the fulfilment of the potential of the human spirit. His simple message is that global peace begins with each individual, and that through our collective prayers, meditations and dedicated service we can create a fulfilling world of peace.

You have heard from our Master of Ceremonies the way in which he has dedicated his life in that direction. And so it is a great honour for me, representing the University of Victoria, and particularly the Faculty of Fine Arts and the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society, to give an award in recognition of these efforts to Sri Chinmoy.

SRI CHINMOY: I am extremely happy and grateful to be here at the University of Victoria as a Visiting Artist and for the signal honour which has been presented to me this evening. Every day I am praying to my Beloved Lord Supreme only for one thing: to make me a better and more receptive student of His, so that I may be of greater service to the aspiring humanity.

To Dr. Anthony Welch, Dean of Fine Arts, and to Lynda Gammon, Associate Dean, I am all gratitude to you both. Lynda, the message of invitation from you and Dr. Coward has touched my aspiration-heart very deeply.

I would also like to convey my sincere appreciation to Dr. Harold Coward, Director of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society. Your illumined mind and self-giving heart offer immeasurable service to countless truth-seekers worldwide in and through your esteemed Hindu-Christian Bulletin. I shall treasure your blessingful honour.