Blessingful invitations from the university-world
Part I: Poet and poetry, University of Washington
From Shawn Wong 20 February 1998Dear 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
From Gary Locke, 18 March 1998Dear Sri Chinmoy:
As Governor, and on behalf of the state of Washington, I am pleased to welcome you back to Seattle and the University of Washington as you present your global Peace Concert for the people of the Pacific Northwest.
This Peace Concert is a celebration of our existence and a promise of what tomorrow brings for our world. Your past, present and future are filled with your dream of peace. May your endless faith and enthusiasm continue to guide you to towards a day when your dream is realised.
Thank you for sharing your inspiring words and music with the people of our state. In addition to your accomplishments as a musician and poet, you are founder of the global Peace Run which came through our state in 1997 to spread a message of peace throughout our communities. It was an honour to receive the global Peace Run here, and I wish you continued success as you work to advance global peace and harmony in the 21st century. The hope and promise of the new millennium bring renewed confidence and enthusiasm for a united world and a shared understanding.
Best wishes for the future!
— Gary Locke — Governor
From Paul Schell, 2 April 1998Dear Friends,
As Mayor of Seattle, it gives me great pleasure to welcome Sri Chinmoy to our city. Citizens of Seattle are deeply honoured to host another global Peace Concert on 2 April 1998, sponsored by the University of Washington’s English Department. Seattle has been designated as a Sri Chinmoy Peace City since 1993, and is once again hosting this grand celebration of harmony and love.
The University of Washington English Department honours Sri Chinmoy with the “Light of Asia” award in recognition of his completion of an anthology of _27,000 Aspiration-Plants._
In addition to being a highly accomplished musician, poet, writer, artist, and athlete, Sri Chinmoy is also the founder of the global Peace Run, history’s longest relay run, touching the hearts of millions in over 70 countries since 1987. Seattle’s Peace Run week will take place 29 April — 6 May 1998.
Welcome, Sri Chinmoy! Seattle is honoured to be designated a Peace City, and joins with the world in celebrating peace with you.
Very truly yours,
—- Paul Schell — Mayor
4. Introduction and award presentation1_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 27 August 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:
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.2
BI 4. 4. Kane Hall, University of Washington, Seattle, 2 April 1998.↩
BI 4,13. 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, 2 April 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 poetryA 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:
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:
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:
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:
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
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.
6. From Shawn Wong, 22 April 1998Dear Sri Chinmoy:
Let me take a moment of your time to thank you for a very inspiring evening of music, meditation, art, poetry, and dialogue when you were here at the University of Washington. You are more than what our award stipulated as the “Light of Asia”; you are, in your efforts to promote peace and harmony in the world, the light of the world and of our conscience. I am pleased that our department was able to sponsor the evening and host your visit. Many students found the evening most inspiring and moving. Please keep up your good work and come back and visit us again.
— Shawn Wong
— Professor and Chair
Part II: Indian philosophy: a glimpse, Florida International University
From Nathan Katz, 21 April 1998Dear 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.
Professor and Chair
Department of Religious Studies
Florida International University, Miami
Introduction and award presentation[fn:: BI 8. Wertheim Performing Arts Center, Florida International University, Miami, 26 May 1998.]
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 BA and MA 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 glimpseThe 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,
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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
Have adamantine will-power.
Sri Aurobindo's philosophy is:
The acceptance of life.
We are sons of God and must be even as He."
Ramana Maharshi's philosophy is:
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.
Truth alone triumphs."
Part III: Poetry the winner, University of British Columbia
From Mandakranta Bose, 7 April 1998Dear 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,
Chair and Coordinator
Cross-Cultural Literary Studies in
Institute of Asian Research
University of British Columbia
From Philip W Owen, June 1998Greetings \
Congratulations to Sri Chinmoy to celebrate the occasion of your receiving the “Dreamer of Peace” award from the University of British Columbia.
Your dedication and tireless work for peace encourages us all to pursue our own vision of peace.
Annually, the Vancouver Sri Chinmoy Marathon team organises several athletic events dedicated to increasing awareness of the need for individual and global peace. Many Vancouverites participate in these events and we have been pleased to proclaim “Sri Chinmoy Peace Run Day” for the last six runs.
I commend your efforts in bringing the dream of peace to all the citizens of the world.
Welcome to Vancouver and best wishes in all your future endeavours.
— Philip W Owen
Introduction and award presentation1Professor 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.
BI 12. Chan Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 2 June 1998.↩
Poetry the winnerA 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:
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:
Indeed, inside each human being there is a poet. I fully concur with Joubert:
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:
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
From Lynda Gammon and Dr Harold Coward, 27 April 199827 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,
Dean of Fine Arts
Dr. Harold Coward, Director,
Centre for Studies in Religion and Society
Introduction and award presentation1Dr 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.2
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.
To all of my brothers and sisters at the University of Victoria, I thank you from the very depths of my heart. Here you have two most significant mottoes: “Let there be Light,” and “A Multitude of the Wise is the Health of the World.” When this world shall be inundated with the infinite Wisdom-Light of our Father Lord, then boundless peace and happiness shall dawn upon our devoted hearts and lives.
BI 15. David Lam Auditorium, University of Victoria, 3 June 1998.↩
BI 15,3. The award reads: “Sri Chinmoy: A Student of Peace — The beauty, nobility and harmony of Sri Chinmoy’s vast outpouring of artistic, literary and musical creations have inspired millions of people worldwide. His creative works embody an age-old wisdom and the everlasting ideals of self-giving, compassion and oneness. The University of Victoria is proud and honoured to recognise Sri Chinmoy, who was born and raised in the East and has been serving tirelessly in the West, as a man of letters, fine arts and the elevated human spirit.”↩
Creativity: the amalgam of sorrows and joysThe mind is a creativity. So also is a thought.
The mind says to a thought, "I have you."
The thought says to the mind, "You I am."
The heart is a creativity. So also is love.
The heart says to love, "I have you."
Love says to the heart, "You I am."
The soul is a creativity. So also is life.
The soul says to life, "I have you."
Life says to the soul, "You I am."
The learning of the mind is a creativity, an expanding creativity.
The feeling of the heart is a creativity, a deepening creativity.
The becoming of life is a creativity, a manifesting creativity.
Art is Eternity's cry.
Art is Infinity's smile.
Art is Immortality's delight.
Music is not the mind's creativity-noise.
Music is the heart's creativity-voice.
Poetry is not an earthly chimera's mist-creativity.
Poetry is a Heavenly beauty-dawn-creativity.
Art and God sleeplessly talk together.
Music and God breathlessly feel each other.
Poetry and God unceasingly look at each other.
My life is God's creation.
My blossoming smiles are my soul-creations.
My streaming tears are my heart-creations.
The inner creation is the source.
The outer creation is the course.
The inner creation is indispensable.
The outer creation is irresistible.
My aspiration-heart's inner creation is God-exploration-delight.
My dedication-life's outer creation is God-manifestation-light.
Creativity is in learning. Creativity is in unlearning as well. Creativity is in action-manifestation. Creativity is in inaction — rest as well — only we have to know the proper order for the fulfilment of our life.
My life cries ditto to the wise Chinese saying, "Be the first in the field, the last to the couch."
My creativity-boat plies between my desire-earth-tears and my aspiration-Heaven-smiles.
On a lighter note, only an English conductor perhaps can dare to declare: "The English may not like music, but they absolutely love the noise it makes!"
Being an Indian, I feel I have the legitimate audacity to declare: the Indian music of yore touches, illumines and fulfils my very earth-existence. The modern — with an ultra-modern touch — Indian music chases me into the land of nowhere!
From the spiritual point of view, creativity is the beauty of God-revelation and the fragrance of God-manifestation.
Creativity is multiplicity's bloom in unity's blossom.
In the outer world, creativity is the light of individuality.
In the inner world, creativity is the delight of universality.
No matter how sublime the creativity is, the creator of it is not indispensable. If he comes to realise that, only then will he have peace of mind and abiding satisfaction.
Finally, I wish to invoke the most celebrated of the ancient Greek mathematicians — Archimedes. "Eureka! I have found it," was his discovery-cry.
O aspiring world, Him I have found, my Lord Supreme, in the aspiration-beauty and dedication-fragrance of my art, music and poetry.
Part V: World peace, University of Texas at Austin
From Lester Kurtz, 20 May 1998Dear Sri Chinmoy:
On behalf of the Sociology Department and the Ad Hoc Committee on Peace and Conflict Studies, I am delighted to invite you to the University of Texas at Austin on 25 June 1998. We arc looking forward to your sharing with us your vision of world peace and will present you with a “Peace Educator” award at that time to recognise your contributions.
Eliza Esquivel-Amin will be working with the Distinguished Speakers Committee to make arrangements for your visit and will be contacting you with further details. In the meantime, I assure you that many of the students, faculty and staff of the University of Texas are looking forward to meeting you when you visit our campus.
Professor of Sociology and Asian Studies
cc: Ronald Angel, Chair
Department of Sociology
From William S Livingston, 27 May 1998Dear Sri Chinmoy:
I am told that you have accepted an invitation to come to the University of Texas at Austin in June to speak to a group of students on your aspirations and your campaign towards world peace. May I say that many of us are looking forward to meeting you and to hearing your message. The students have invited me to introduce you that evening, which I shall be very pleased to do.
One of the great problems of our time is to extend adequate communications across national and cultural boundaries and to bring the diverse communities of the world together in a common concern for peace and progress. Thus it is with great pleasure that I join the student organisations and the faculty in welcoming you to our campus. It is the participation and visits of people such as you who enrich the experience of our students and provide the flavour and excitement of life in a great university.
I shall welcome you most warmly, and I’m looking forward to meeting you on the 25th.
— William S Livingston
Introduction and award presentation1Dr William Livingston (Senior Vice-President, the University of Texas at Austin): Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great, good fortune to be asked this evening to introduce our speaker, and I do so with pride and pleasure.
For a long time Sri Chinmoy has dedicated his life to the achievement of world peace and the fulfilment of the human spirit. He works towards these goals in a number of different ways. He is a poet, an author, an essayist, a speaker, a musician, an artist and, not least, an athlete. Nowadays he works out of New York, but his interests and his travels have taken him to many parts of the globe. He has inspired and encouraged people throughout the world by his activities and by the example of his own life.
The prizes and awards and commendations that he has received make it perfectly obvious that he has touched the lives of many people in many different places.
Texas is widely known as the home not only of individuality, but also of hospitality — a rough and ready culture in which men and women are prepared to stand alone, but in which they are also prepared to lend a hand to a neighbour. I think you will find this audience a congenial one, and one prepared to listen to your message with great interest.
This spring, the University adopted a new slogan or a theme called, "We're Texas." It was intended to enhance our sense of belonging here in Texas and to exemplify the culture of this part of the country. But as you see, the student body of this institution is marked by considerable diversity, both in its composition and in its interest and outlook. We tried to epitomise this slogan in our commencement programme in May by reproducing in it, in as many languages as possible, that slogan that had been adopted. It was thus presented to all the guests at the commencement. The intent was to reproduce it in all the languages represented by people in the student body. I can say to you it was not easy to render it, say, in the Cyrillic alphabet or to translate it into Bengali. But the point I make here is that we ran out of space in the programme before we ran out of languages to put it in. Accordingly, Sri Chinmoy, if you hope to reach out to many different peoples and cultures, I say to you that this is a good place in which to articulate your message.
One of the great problems of our time is, of course, to extend adequate communication across national and cultural boundaries, and to bring the varied communities of our world together in a common concern for peace and progress. Thus it is with great pleasure that I join these student organisations and this faculty in welcoming you to the University of Texas. It is the participation and the visits of people such as yourself that enrich the experience of our students and provide the yeast and flavour of life in a great university.
I welcome you, Sir, to this university and to this audience, and I am most pleased to present to this audience a man of rich experience and one who is deeply committed to an objective to which all of us may subscribe. Sri Chinmoy calls himself "a dreamer of world peace", but as I examine his biography and ponder his message, I have to say that he commits himself not merely to dreams but to actions and efforts. He is here tonight to share with us his dream and to enlist us in those efforts. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Sri Chinmoy Kumar Ghose.
Dr Lester Kurtz (Professor of Sociology and Asian Studies, on behalf of the Department of Sociology and the Ad Hoc Committee on Peace and Conflict Studies): There is such a wonderful turnout for tonight's concert that I am really tempted to give a lecture, but I have this suspicion that you are not here to hear me. And so let me just say that it is a delight to be here to welcome Sri Chinmoy, to have all of you here. Let me simply read the plaque that I'm going to present to Sri Chinmoy.
[Reads plaque.] "The Department of Sociology and the Ad Hoc Committee on Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Texas at Austin are pleased to present Sri Chinmoy with the Peace Educator Award on the occasion of his visit to the University of Texas at Austin as a distinguished speaker and in recognition of his tireless commitment to world peace. Through his writings, paintings and musical compositions as well as through the global Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, the International Peace-Blossom family and his worldwide Peace Concert programme, Sri Chinmoy has become a teacher of world peace to millions of people worldwide. Through eloquent words and actions, Sri Chinmoy has been striving to foster humanity's goal of goals: world peace. Austin, Texas, June 25, 1998."
Sri Chinmoy: I wish to offer my heartfelt gratitude to the many faculty, staff and students who have worked so hard for the success of this evening's programme. Highly esteemed Senior Vice-President Livingston, I am extremely grateful to you for your very kind and gracious introduction, as well as for the blessingful letter of welcome which you wrote to me last month. Your entire life has been consecrated to inspiring and encouraging your fellow professors and students at the University of Texas and worldwide. Therefore, I feel specially honoured and prayerfully moved by your soul-stirring words.
I would like to offer my heart's deepest appreciation to Professor Lester Kurtz, Professor of Sociology and Asian Studies and an enthusiastic pioneer of peace studies through the Ad Hoc Committee on Peace and Conflict Studies. Your tireless vision for a world of non-violence and peace has taken you to the four corners of the globe, including my homeland, India, and my heart is all gratitude to you for your kind invitation to your august University. I shall deeply treasure the "Peace Educator Award" which you have just bestowed upon my devoted head and aspiring heart.
May I also thank my student-friends of the Distinguished Speakers Committee for their wholehearted enthusiasm and support for my visit tonight.
BI 19. University of Texas at Austin, 25 June 1998.↩
My Peace-Education-LifePeace I find when I am lost inside God's Compassion-Eye.
Peace I become when I am lost inside God's Forgiveness-Feet.
Mine is a mind-jungle totally empty of peace.
Mine is a heart-garden flooded with peace.
The divine in us embraces peace.
The human in us longs for peace.
The animal in us destroys peace.
President Gorbachev, the peace-dreamer, peace-bringer and peace-server of this century, has urged again and again:
I heave a sigh when my mind becomes a victim to searing conflicts.
I become a singing bird when my life becomes the breath of peace.
My heart's God-love-beauty has peace.
My life's God-surrender-fragrance is peace.
The dream-flooded and soul-stirring words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ring forth:
Devotedly I chant the Name of my Beloved Lord Supreme.
Bountifully my Beloved Lord Supreme enchants my life.
My soul's peace-smiles and my heart's peace-tears together cover endless miles unobstructed.
Infinity is the Source of my soul's peace-smiles.
Eternity is the Source of my heart's peace-tears.
Peace is infinitely more than the birthless and deathless promises of my mind.
Peace is in the ever-blossoming hopes of my heart.
I wish to cite the momentous utterance of U Thant, the third Secretary-General of the United Nations, who was widely revered for his innate spirituality and deep wisdom. He said:
God comes to me, compassionately and unconditionally, and gives me Peace.
Man comes to me, immediately and ruthlessly, and takes away all my peace.
God comes and man comes.
When God comes, I swim in the ocean of infinite Delight.
When man comes, my very earth-existence is devoured by the unquenchable thirst and insatiable hunger of sorrows.
But love mankind I must, for mankind is unmistakably an extension of my own reality-existence. The lofty realisation of Mother Teresa, the twentieth century's unparalleled server of bleeding humanity, echoes and re-echoes in the inmost recesses of my heart: "Works of love are works of peace."
I ask God,
"My Lord, is there any way I can embody
and treasure Your Peace forever and forever?"
"My child, there is a way.
Just illumine your mind more, infinitely more.
Feed your heart more, infinitely more.
Energise your life more, infinitely more.
Lo, in you My Infinity's Peace has found its Eternity's Abode."
Peace is today's soul-seed-world.
Peace is tomorrow's life-tree-world.
But the peace of tomorrow must be built upon the solid foundations of today. What are those foundations? President Woodrow Wilson, the champion of the League of Nations, has a most significant message for the world-community in this connection. He advises us that lasting peace can never be the fruit of a war where one side defeats the other. "It must be a peace without victory," he proclaims.
O world, you will not be happy and satisfied if you come and visit God's omnipotent Power-Head, but you will be completely happy and supremely satisfied if you come and visit God's omnipresent Peace-Feet.
Man thinks his mind's love for world power and his heart's love for world peace can live together. Indeed, this is the height of man's stupidity.
Up until now, God has been pleading with the human mind to study the world peace course. But now God is forcing the human mind to study the world peace course.
The moment the division-mind desires to live in the heart of oneness-peace-world, God will immediately declare His supreme Victory on earth.
One minute of world peace is ten hours with God.
Part VI: My aspiring heart's poetry-flames, United Nations
Introduction and award presentation1[On 30 March 1993 the United Nations Staff Recreation Council Society of Writers honoured Sri Chinmoy for the publication of his 900th book and for receiving the degree of Doctor of Humanities, Honoris Causa, from the University of Southern Philippines in January of that year.]
Mr Hans Janitschek (President, Society of Writers): I am a writer, not a poet, but I have learned a lot from poetry. And Sri Chinmoy's writing touches me deeply. Whether it is 9,000 poems or just one, it is beautiful, it is wonderful, it warms your heart and inspires you, lifts you up and makes you move. Most great poets have also been great movers. They have changed the world by changing the minds and the hearts of people.
We are gathered here at a building where billions of words are being written which no one reads, which have no effect, which no one would ever want to have because the quantity is meaningless if there is no substance or spirit.
Yesterday during the Oscars, Federico Fellini, another great poet, was quoted as having said, "The visionaries are the true realists." Sri Chinmoy, you are a visionary of the first order, and what you are saying, what you are writing is real — real for each of us as individuals, real for the United Nations as an organisation.
I have been watching you over the decades quietly walking the halls of the United Nations. I have heard you play instruments. But above all I have felt your presence. And that is poetry of the highest order, because what poetry does is convey feelings. Again, Federico Fellini said: "The message is the feeling." The message is hard to describe without feelings, and this is why the presence of a great man, a holy man to many, changes the picture. In your presence, things change. In your presence, we feel something that we would not feel otherwise, and when we leave you, we take something with us. Sometimes it is a rose; sometimes it is a piece of delicious chocolate, if we are lucky. But above all, it is that feeling of eternity, of goodness, of warmth, of love.
In this spirit it gives me special pleasure to present you today with an award that we have given to other interesting people before. One of them comes to mind instantly because of the special relationship you have to him, and that, of course, is Mikhail S. Gorbachev. I know you met him when he was in power, and I saw a photograph of you together soon after the fall. You were there, and he wanted you there, in the moment of glory and in the moment of defeat because, again, I do believe your spirit played a role. And he knew it. A man that was the most powerful man in the world in terms of material power gave it all up because of faith in the spirit of man and the dignity of man.
We gave this award to Vanessa Redgrave; we gave this award to Jason Robards; we gave it to Carl Bernstein; we gave it to Norman Mailer; to Arthur Miller. I could go on and on. Today we are giving it to you. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to give you this beautiful piece of art with three wonderful words, just three words on it: Ex mente orbis — "From the mind comes the world." Nothing can describe you better than these three Latin words.
BI 21. Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium, United Nations Headquarters, New York, 30 March 1993.↩
My aspiring heart's poetry-flamesI do not know how I can possibly be worthy of this blessingful honour. I am known as a truth-seeker and a God-lover. But today I have become a poet as well.
May I read out to you the very first poem that I wrote in English?
The golden Flute
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.
I cry aloud, but all in vain;
I helpless, the earth unkind!
What soul of might can share my pain?
Death-dart alone I find.
A raft am I on the sea of Time,
My oars are washed away.
How can I hope to reach the clime
Of God's eternal Day?
But hark! I hear Thy golden Flute,
Its notes bring the Summit down.
Now safe am I, O Absolute!
Gone death, gone night's stark frown!
So that was my very first attempt — over forty years ago. And this particular poem that I am going to read out is only three hours old. You will see the difference. You can call it either my most deplorable degradation and say that I have gone "downhill", or you can say that I have made progress in a different way.
There was a time
When the poet in me
Prayerfully desired to roam and roam
Inside my heart-garden.
The poet in me now sleeplessly cries
To clasp the flower-beauty
Of my heart-garden.
And before long, the poet in me
Will meditatively grow into
Of my heart-garden.
I have been living in America for the last twenty-nine years, so I am enjoying American freedom in my poetry. When I embarked on my poetic career many, many years ago, I was compelled from within and without to learn English metre well. I had to learn iambic, dactylic, trochee, anapaest — endless English metre — as well as rhyme. But now I enjoy full freedom: I do not need metre; I do not need rhyme — nothing, nothing! It is a flow. When I was writing poems in those days, I felt that I was playing on the flute. Now when I write poems, perhaps I am striking gongs or playing on the synthesiser. But I feel that light and power are inseparable. They are the obverse and reverse of the same universal reality.
In my family, almost everybody has written poems. My father wrote about thirty poems; my two older brothers, one to a hundred; and my eldest brother, two or three thousand. I am the youngest and also, it seems, the most greedy. Over 50,000 poems go to my credit. My critics justifiably criticise me for having written so many poems. They say that I believe only in quantity and not in quality. They are perfectly right in their own way or according to their own judgement. But I feel that quantity is necessary as well as quality. I visit the supermarket quite often. The supermarket has many varieties of food, and I am able to choose what I need or want. If the supermarket had only one thing, I would be disappointed along with hundreds of other customers. So quality and quantity must go together.
It is very difficult to be a real judge of quality. I am an artist. Over 140,000 paintings I have completed. Some of my paintings I sincerely feel are not good at all. But to my utter astonishment, some people immensely appreciate those particular paintings, and I feel they are sincere in their appreciation and judgement.
A tree produces beautiful flowers as well as countless leaves. If we only care for the beauty and fragrance of the flowers and pay no attention to the leaves, then we are making a deplorable mistake, a Himalayan blunder, for the leaves also have beauty in their own way. A tree is beautiful and fruitful only when we look at it right from the ground to the highest branch. Only when we look at the tree as a whole and try to appreciate what it has and what it is can we do proper justice to its beauty, its compassion and its perfection.
I am extremely grateful to this distinguished Writers Society for bestowing upon me this signal honour at a time in my life when I am not as well known in the world of poetry as in the world of truth-seekers and peace-servers. People know me as a student of peace, as a truth-seeker, a God-lover and a world-server. But here my friends and colleagues have found an entire sun inside some of the climbing, aspiring poetic flames I have created. And for that I am extremely, extremely grateful to them.
It has happened in many cases that the world is apt to appreciate someone only when he is already known in a particular field. The world waits and waits until he is famous before appreciating him. I wish to tell you a most deplorable incident in the life of India's greatest poet, Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Laureate. Only two weeks before he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, the editor of a significant and popular magazine in Bengal printed one of Tagore's poems and mercilessly criticised it from the first line to the last line. The Bengali editor found nothing beautiful, nothing soulful, nothing fruitful in the poem. Then, after Tagore got the Nobel Prize, the same poem was printed in the same magazine. But this time the editor extolled that particular poem to the skies. Not only each line but each word came down directly from Heaven — that was his proud comment! So we see what the Nobel Prize can do. Because Tagore had been accepted by great literary authorities, immediately the editor changed his mind.
This year is the centenary of the World's Parliament of Religions. Swami Vivekananda was a great friend of Tagore. As you know, Swami Vivekananda's most significant utterances were made in Chicago when he addressed the world conference. Before he spoke at the world parliament, he was nobody, absolutely nobody, in India. But after he became famous overnight in America, immediately Bengal and the entire India accepted him.
Unfortunately, only when the outer world or some well-established authority praises someone or justifiably acknowledges his merit is everybody else apt to appreciate that person. Although I am not known as a poet, still you are recognising the poet in me. For that I am deeply grateful to you. Who knows, in the future, with a stroke of good luck, I may be known as a poet. At that time I will feel that you saw something in me long before others were able to see it.
I have already spoken to you about quality and quantity. This particular book happens to be my 900th book — Love, Compassion, Forgiveness. I have dedicated this book to my beloved President Gorbachev. About two weeks ago I received a letter from him appreciating me for dedicating this book to him. Also, he said he wants to congratulate me personally in the near future.
Reading the dedication of the book: "Lovingly, affectionately and gratefully I am dedicating this book to the President Gorbachev, the Himalayan Peace-Dreamer on earth."
I wish to say a few words about President Gorbachev. To me, he is a universal figure. To me, he is the highest embodiment of world peace. He is the greatest world peace-dreamer and world peace-distributor. If the present-day world has made considerable progress, or any progress, then he deserves the utmost gratitude from the heart of the present-day world. He is the champion of champions to unmistakably improve the world situation.
In India it is said that a real Brahmin does not have to show his sacred thread to the public in order to prove that he is a real Brahmin. Similarly, I feel that President Gorbachev does not have to show the world his credentials to prove who he really is. He is loved and adored by the aspiration of the length and breadth of the world. He does not need a particular crown or a particular throne in order to prove to the world at large that he is, indeed, a king. President Gorbachev lives in the aspiring heart of mankind. I feel that Gorbachev is a universal king who lives inside the gratitude-heart of the peace-dreaming world. He definitely does not need an outer crown, an outer throne, to lovingly and compassionately guide the evolution of humanity. His inner achievements are so enormous that they can perfectly lead and guide us to our supreme destination, the Golden Shore. For him, peace is not a mere dictionary word. In him, peace is a living reality, a sleepless and all-illumining reality that lovingly and self-givingly inspires the mind and feeds the heart of humanity.
Part VII — Poetry-poem-poet, Musikaliska Akademien, Stockholm, Sweden Poetry-Poem-Poet
Poetry-poem-poet1Prose you can write. Prose he can write. Prose even I can write. But God writes poetry through you, through him and even through me.
Poetry is the short cut to reach the subtle and tangible Goal of goals — Delight infinite. A poem starts in streaming tears and ends in soaring smiles.
The poet beckons tomorrow's dream-dawn and then transforms tomorrow's dream-dawn into today's reality-day.
It is a deplorable mistake we make when we try to understand poetry. Poetry is not to be understood. Poetry is to be felt. Poetry is to be loved. To try to understand a poem is like touching a rose with innumerable thorns. To try to feel a poem is to lovingly hold a rose without a single thorn. And to love a poem is to grow immediately into the beauty and fragrance of the rose itself.
The soul of the poet creates. The heart of the poet originates. The eyes of the poet initiate.
Inside each human being there is a poet. This poet can bring down the loftiest heights of truth and, at the same time, can powerfully eclipse the darkest falsehood if and when necessity demands.
Poetry whispers, "O my friends, O my admirers, adorers and lovers, metres and metrical dance-foot-movements — iambus, trochee, anapaest, spondee and others — are my fondness-children. They can scale the measureless height, fathom the deepest depth and run the farthest length. Let us embark on Eternity's voyage with my children, my fondness-children."
When we write a poem or read a poem self-givingly, we spend a quiet moment with God the Beauty, God the Compassion and God the Satisfaction.
I am a poet. I started writing poems right from my infancy. Before I write a soulful, powerful and significant poem, I concentrate with my vision-eye, I meditate with my liberation-heart and I contemplate with my realisation-soul. And then I focus my life-camera on God's transcendental Divinity and God's universal Beauty.
After I have written the poem soulfully and devotedly, the Absolute Poet Supreme, to my extreme surprise, tells me that He has prepaid my ticket to reach the highest height of boundless ecstasy.
When I read the poem in absolute silence, the soul of the poem tells me, "Come in, come in. Ah, you have come to see the real in me."
There are poets — ordinary poets, great poets. Again, there are seer-poets. The seer-poets are of supreme heights. A seer is he who envisions the present, the past and the future all at once.
The great difference between music and poetry is this: music is a universal language. I do not have to learn a particular language in order to appreciate the melody, the soulfulness and the fulness of the music. Just because music has a universal appeal, I can appreciate, admire and love the music. But the poetry that has a universal appeal is the creation of a seer-poet. 'Seer' in Sanskrit is drashta — he who has a free access to the past, present and future and has the rare capacity to divinely grow and supremely glow.
It is said that poets are born and not made. Unfortunately, I do not and cannot subscribe to this view. There are many, many poets I have seen in my lifetime who were not born as poets but, by virtue of their hearts' climbing cries and one-pointed, dedicated lives, have become excellent poets. So, as it is true that poets are born, even so, it is equally true that poets can be made. Here in the audience, I am sure there are some who are not poets but, at the same time, have a genuine desire to become poets. To them I wish to offer a few humble and soulful suggestions.
You want to be a poet. You can be a poet. You are bound to be a poet. Do not allow yourself to be ensnared by doubt. Self-criticism — no, no, no; self-enthusiasm — yes, yes, yes. Try to free your mind for a few minutes from the coil of thought. Just for a few minutes try to keep your mind silent. I am not saying for a few hours — far from it. Just for four or five minutes keep your mind silent. And then place your silent mind on the beautiful, illumining and fulfilling throne that your heart has created for you.
When you write a poem, you can read it time and again — as many times as you want. Each time you read it, you can try to increase your heart's joy with your imagination-power. Imagination is a world of its own. The Creator has created His creation. He is observing His creation and He is enjoying His creation. In exactly the same way, you can create a poem, you can observe it and you can enjoy it. You are the creator, you are the observer and you are the enjoyer.
There are critics here, there and everywhere. You must not heed the chorus of impossible critics. Critics, it is said, are the worst failures. There is considerable truth in this. Our goal is perfection. It is enthusiasm and not criticism that can perfect us. Self-criticism is not the correct way. What we constantly need is an inner cry. It is through self-search and self-illumination that we can arrive at perfection. What we need at every moment is enthusiasm in measureless measure and not criticism by others or even self-criticism.
Poetry is humanity's aspiration-cry, and poetry is Divinity's satisfaction-fruit. There are many, many planes of consciousness from which poems can descend. And again, the poet can also climb up like a bird — high, higher, highest — and enter into these planes of consciousness and bring down the loftiest truth, light and delight.
A poet can write a poem from the mind proper. He can write a poem from the intuitive mind. He can write a poem from the higher mind. He can write a poem from the overmind and even from the supermind. But when a poet enters into Sat-Chit-Ananda-Existence-Consciousness-Bliss — which is higher than all the planes that I have mentioned, the poet feels that he has covered the longest possible distance. It is like making a long-distance telephone call. But once he reaches this highest plane of consciousness, the Absolute Lord Poet Supreme tells him, "My poet-child, you are mistaken, completely mistaken. Once you reach the Highest, once you become one with the Highest, your journey's start and the Highest are not at two different places. They are at one place. So it is not a long-distance telephone conversation. You can say it is a local call. On the strength of your heart's immense cry, you as a poet have reached the ultimate height. Once you reach the ultimate height, the journey's start and the journey's close become inseparably one.
My poet-child, I want you to sing with Me:
I barter nothing with time and deeds.
My Cosmic Play is done.
The One Transcendental I was.
The Many Universal I am.
I am the Soul-Flower
Of My Eternity.
I am the Heart-Fragrance
Of My Infinity.
BI 23. Musikaliska Akademien, Stockholm, Sweden, 16 October 1990.↩