Four Summit-Height-Melodies meet with Sri Chinmoy
Part I: Pablo Casals
Biographical notePablo Casals (1876-1973) was a Catalan cellist, composer and conductor. As a cellist, he was celebrated for his interpretations of J. S. Bach's unaccompanied suites. He left Spain in 1939 to live in Prades, in the French Pyrenees, where he founded an annual music festival. In 1956 he moved to Puerto Rico, where he launched the Casals Festival in 1957, and later toured extensively in the USA. He wrote instrumental and choral works, including the Christmas oratorio "The Manger."
In 1971, at the age of 95, he wrote the "Hymn to the United Nations" in collaboration with poet W. H. Auden, for which he was awarded a UN Peace Medal by Secretary-General U Thant. In addition to being a musical genius, Pablo Casals was a tireless crusader for peace.
NoteOn 6 October 1972, Don Pablo Casals welcomed Sri Chinmoy and a small group of Sri Chinmoy's students to his home in Puerto Rico for a memorable exchange of philosophy, meditation and music. Following is a transcript of that evening's soulful and illumining conversation between Sri Chinmoy and the Maestro.
GreetingSri Chinmoy: (presenting one of his records to Don Pablo): You are the Mt. Everest in your musical ability and I am the anthill in music. The anthill is offering its musical ability to the Mt. Everest.
Mrs. Casals: This is played on what instrument?
Sri Chinmoy: The harmonium. It is like a miniature piano.
Mrs. Casals (to Don Pablo in Catalan): These are his compositions. He has dedicated one of them to the Divine Mother.
Don Pablo: You had a wonderful mother, I am sure. I, too, had a wonderful, wonderful mother.
Sri Chinmoy (noticing a portrait of a young woman): That is a picture of your mother?
Don Pablo: Yes, my Ma is everything to me, everything. We were poor, but from my childhood she had such a wonderful power to give me everything. My mother knew everything.
Sri Chinmoy: How old was she when they took this picture?
Don Pablo: Oh, she was young. She was thirty or thirty-two.
Sri Chinmoy: And in this other picture?
Don Pablo: She was nearly seventy. She lived to be seventy-four. I feel my mother always with me, on every occasion. I feel her with me all the time.
Sri Chinmoy: I am so happy. The mother helps the child to manifest his inner divinity, his inner realisation. She receives for Mother-Earth and she manifests what her child has within. You are representing Heaven, Heaven-consciousness, through your music. Mother-Earth's consciousness holds the Light of Heaven and then it helps the Light to manifest here on earth.
Don Pablo: Thank you, thank you. I would like to have a copy of what you have said. And I would like you to explain "realisation" to me.
Spiritual MastersSri Chinmoy: Spiritual Masters become consciously inseparable from God. Jesus Christ, Krishna, Buddha and others realised God. God-realisation means that at that time one has boundless peace, joy and bliss within himself. Now you know that God exists, but if you come to my spiritual Centre to meditate with me, then I will be able to show you divine peace, joy, love and bliss. Even now, if I meditate in front of you, I will be able to bring down these divine qualities.
Don Pablo: For years I have dedicated, I can say, my thought and my life and my work to the service of mankind. In its present state, humanity is completely lost. And I say, what could we do to make a better world, not for now — because it is impossible — but for later? I have found one way. One way is the child. Now in the school the teacher does not say what the child is. At the university I think that again they do not learn this. And from my experience in many countries, from nine to ten years children understand the sense of words. The child must know that he is a miracle — a miracle! Since the beginning of the world there has not been and until the end of the world there will not be another child like him. He is unique from the beginning until the end of the world. Now that child acquires a responsibility: "Yes, it is true, I am a miracle. I am a miracle like a tree is a miracle, like a flower is a miracle. Now, if I am a miracle, can I do a bad thing? I cannot, because I am a miracle, I am a miracle."
God, Nature. I call God, Nature or Nature, God. The child has to think, "If I am a miracle that God or Nature has made, can I kill someone? No, I cannot. Or another human being who is a child like me, can he kill me?" I think that this theory could help to bring forth another way of thinking in the world. The world of today is bad; it is a bad world. And it is because they do not talk to the children in the way that the children need.
Sri Chinmoy: I am so grateful to hear this because my philosophy is also the same. We have to feel that we are all God's children. It is only a child that makes progress and evolves.
A child's progressDon Pablo: How can a child make progress if he does not know what he is? His father and mother do not know this. In the school the child does not learn this. And this is what produces the humanity, the bad humanity, we have. This is my idea: the child must know from childhood.
Sri Chinmoy: The child must learn from the parents. The parents have to feel also that they have the supreme responsibility. A child is the flower of God, a child is the instrument of God, the representative of God. The parents have to feel this.
Don Pablo: But they don't.
Sri Chinmoy: That is why the problem starts. If they feel that their children are representing God, then all the time the parents will teach this to their children.
Don Pablo: That is why I say that the children must know what they are, the miracle that they are, as soon as they understand the sense of the word. This is my idea.
A child represents GodSri Chinmoy: This miracle means that the child represents God on earth. He is the chosen instrument of God. We admire you, the world admires you as a musician, the greatest musician. The world admires you as a lover of mankind, a true lover of mankind. Again, the world sees in you the eternal child. Greatness is not an obstruction in your life. The eternal child is making and manifesting the divine Music, the divine Truth within you. So it is your child-heart, childlike heart, that is ready to manifest Divinity.
What you are saying is so true. Each person, each human being, should feel that he is a child and, as you say, he is a miracle. Spiritual people, those who are thinking of God and Divinity, are trying to be of help. We are trying to pray and meditate. If we go within and from there if we go without, then immediately we will see the child as a divine instrument of God. Otherwise, if we remain outside, then we cannot see the child as Divinity; we see him as an ordinary human being. But if we remain within, then we see the child as a true miracle.
Don Pablo: Well, I think that I approach some of your ideas.
Sri Chinmoy: It is your idea. This morning I was reading your writings and I was so moved. You were saying that life and work can never be separated. Life and work must go together. Life is realisation and work is manifestation. What you realise from your music, from your life, you are expressing through your outer manifestation. A child has to have the realisation and the manifestation of that realisation.
Don Pablo: I understand. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have talked with many great people — I mean people with great names — presidents of states and ministers and so on. All of them are surprised and they say, "But what you say is a new thing — that if we are to produce something, we must begin with the child." I told Golda Meir from Israel my ideas and she said, "This is a new thing. I want to do that."
We must tell the child what he is. Human beings, as they live now, mostly think of material possessions — money, glory and such stupid things. They do everything that others do without thinking.
Sri Chinmoy: Unfortunately, the mind is working too much and the heart is not working. When the heart works, these problems disappear. The child has a flower-heart but grown-up people are using the mind. In the mind there is no love. Real love is inside the heart. So a child uses the heart and tries all the time to make others happy. God is also trying all the time to make us happy. A child embodies all the good, divine qualities of God. It is the parents who right from the beginning have to see the Divinity and Infinity in the child.
Don Pablo: But they do not do it.
Sri Chinmoy: They do not do it; that is why the problem starts. But you have been to the White House and you have spoken about your philosophy to Roosevelt and Kennedy. You are speaking of new creation all the time. The old creation has to surrender all the time to the new. The old creation means the life that does not want to see the Truth, accept the Truth or fulfil the Truth. In your case you are trying always to offer a new creation. Every day that dawns, according to your philosophy, is freshness, newness, inspiration. Only a child has the capacity to feel this. Every morning he is inspired to do something, to run, to give something to the world. This is something only a child can do.
How can we give this truth to the child? Only if the parents feel that they are responsible for bringing out their children's divine qualities. Parents send their children to school and then they feel their responsibility is over. The teacher often teaches just for the sake of money and does not take responsibility for the child. After all, the child is somebody else's son. If he fails or passes, it is not the teacher's business.
The parents have to feel that to bring a child into the world means to feel divine joy and divine pride that God has brought this person into the world. As you say, each child is unique; this is absolutely true. God's creation is like a lotus or a rose. Each petal is unique in its own way. Through each individual child God is manifesting Himself in an unprecedented way.
Each child is bringing down a new message from God which was not known before. Naturally, if the world accepts it, the world is getting new light, new power, new joy, new love. So what you are saying, that each child is a miracle, each child is unique, is so true, because God wants to manifest Himself in infinite ways, in infinite forms, in infinite Light. A child is here on earth to show us that God does exist, and God is manifesting through that child.
Don Pablo: This is not on the same level of truth that I can explain its value as clearly as you do, but I have the same idea and I work for that. I work, I speak to everybody — I mean, everybody who can understand what I say. And it has been wonderful that you have come like this. It has been wonderful.
God in natureSri Chinmoy: I have been coming to Puerto Rico for the last six years, and for the past four years I have been longing to see you. At last the day has dawned for us to see each other and offer our deepest love. In your case you are offering love — both of us are offering our deepest love — but in my case it is love plus admiration for what you have done for humanity. Is it clear?
Don Pablo: Yes.
Sri Chinmoy: I hope it is clear: my deepest admiration for what you have done and what you are doing for humanity through your music. You are lifting the veil of ignorance. Only music can please God more than anything else because God Himself is the Supreme Musician. Each player — each instrument — in God's Cosmic Game is unique, and God is playing a different note on each instrument. So each child is a unique manifestation of God.
Don Pablo: I am very old — not that I feel that I am dying — to feel old is natural, very natural. But in the morning I go to the piano and I play every day of my life two preludes and a fugue of Bach. Then my wife prepares my coffee and immediately I go to my cello and I do exactly the same exercise as when I was eighteen — every day, absolutely every day. I could feel that I am dying, but I do this.
I see God in the melody of Nature. Sometimes I see a flower, just a bud ready to bloom, and I call Martita, "Come with me! See, can you see God?" I am with Nature constantly. That is why I am so happy, so happy. I enjoy everything, everything that Nature does. I see that this is God.
Sri Chinmoy: Nature itself is the manifestation of God, so you are seeing God in Nature.
Don Pablo: This is why I say God is Nature or Nature is God. You see? It is a wonderful work of art. The spirit of the art is wonderful. I feel that I am myself because I have never taken music lightly.
Sri Chinmoy: You take music as prayer, constant inner prayer to bring down the highest Light from Above. It is not that, as ordinary people do, you take music as a vocation. In your case music has been your prayer, your meditation, your oneness with Nature, with God. Earth is God's manifestation.
Don Pablo: Music is a manifestation of God like everything else.
MeditationSri Chinmoy: If you would like, I can meditate with you for two or three minutes and bring down peace and light — if you want, but not against your will.
Don Pablo: Of course, I would be delighted. (Don Pablo and Sri Chinmoy sit facing each other.) I must understand every word you say.
Sri Chinmoy: It is so kind of you. Kindly keep your eyes open. The rest I shall do. I shall pray to God, to the Almighty, for peace, light and bliss and you will kindly keep your eyes open. (Mrs. Casals translates into Catalan.) Kindly breathe in slowly.
(Sri Chinmoy and Pablo Casals meditate together.)
I am most grateful to you for granting me the opportunity to meditate with you. It is most kind of you to allow me to meditate on you, on your great, noble soul. (Mrs. Casals translates into Catalan.) You are extremely great; you have a most powerful soul. I am a spiritual seeker. On the strength of my spiritual realisation, I am telling you that you are extremely great, not only in the world of music, but in the world of spirituality as well. That is why, while I was meditating on you, your soul immediately recognised my soul. We knew each other before, long before. Previously I knew you, your soul.
I wish to say that you are a most developed, mature, spiritual soul. The world has recognised you as the greatest musician. But a day will come in your future incarnations when the world will recognise you as a spiritual Master also, because your soul is now ready to launch into the spiritual life. In your future incarnations you will do the most splendid work. You will do something unique in manifesting the eternal God, God's Light, through your creation, and for that I am so happy, so delighted, so proud to be here in your physical presence.
Mrs. Casals (in Catalan): Do you understand?
Don Pablo: Yes, I understand. Now I have the idea of playing on the cello. (Don Pablo plays a beautiful piece of music on the cello.)
Sri Chinmoy: I am so grateful to you for playing. For the first time in my life I am hearing you play. Before, I only heard from other people about your music, but now my soul, my heart, my mind — everything — has heard you play, and for that I am very grateful. You are the real creator of music, and to the creator I offer my deepest love and gratitude. You are an eternal child of God. Each time you play on your instrument, it is a new creation — you create God and manifest God in a unique way. Each time you touch your cello, you bring a new life into existence. And this life is the divine Life that comes directly from Heaven through your music.
The most wonderful moment of my lifeDon Pablo (embracing Sri Chinmoy, with tears flowing from his eyes): I am most grateful to you for the most wonderful moment of my life.
Sri Chinmoy: It has been the most wonderful moment in my life, too. I am so happy to see you. You cannot imagine how happy, how delighted, how proud I am to see you because in you I see a real seeker of the infinite Truth who is trying to manifest Divinity through music. The aspiring world is accepting Divinity from you, from your dedicated work. Please feel my deepest gratitude. You have done and you will be doing so much for mankind. Your very life on earth is the greatest blessing for mankind. The whole world is basking in your contribution. You do not know your greatness. The whole world thinks you are so great, beyond your imagination, but you are greater, infinitely greater, than you think and the world thinks. You are a spiritual man. Now that I am seeing you, I can see that your inner world, your inner achievement, will also one day be recognised. The world is seeing your outer achievement, which has come from within, but the day will come, in your future incarnations, when the world will see the ocean of God's Light, Peace and Divinity that you are holding in you. This will also be revealed.
Don Pablo: We all have that within us. Thank you. (Presenting an album to Sri Chinmoy) These are the Beethoven Sonatas played with Rudolph Serkin, the great master.
Sri Chinmoy (presenting a book to Pablo Casals): These are talks on spirituality that I have given at Cambridge and other European universities.
Don Pablo: Thank you.
Sri Chinmoy: My most sincere thanks. One last thing: I was telling your wife that most musicians learn music and play mechanically. They become experts in a mechanical way. In your case, it is not something mechanical. Your music and God are totally, inseparably one; one cannot be separated from the other. You cannot separate God from music, so God is constantly revealing Himself through your music. When you think of music, God is there; when you think of God, music is there.
Don Pablo: Yes, that is what I feel. Bless you, bless you, bless you, bless you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Centennial tribute to Pablo CasalsIn 1976, the centennial of Pablo Casals' birth, United Nations staff members and delegates joined together in a programme sponsored by Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the United Nations to pay tribute to the great cellist. The programme took place in New York on 11 October. The Spanish Ambassador to the United Nations, Don Jaime de Piniés, paid homage to Pablo Casals as "a symbol of the power of the spirit."
Other staff members recalled the beautiful "Hymn to the United Nations" that Pablo Casals composed in 1971 at the request of U Thant. The Secretary-General awarded him a United Nations Peace Medal for this work.
Sri Chinmoy concluded the programme by reading extracts from his meeting with Pablo Casals in which the Maestro spoke of the child as a miracle of God.
Songs dedicated to Pablo Cassals
O Pablo CassalsO Pablo Casals, O Pablo,
Eternally shall love and hallow
Our diving and climbing human frames.
Charmingly short in earth's body-height,
Supremely long in Heaven's soul-length,
O child of tomorrow's dawn, no night
You saw in your beauty's world of strength.
Pictures — Pablo Casals
Sri Chinmoy meditates with Pablo Casals
Don Pablo plays a beautiful piece of music on the cello.
With tears flowing from his eyes, Pablo Casals embraces Sri Chinmoy.
Part II: Leonard Bernstein
Biographical noteLeonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was a musical phenomenon-a composer, conductor, pianist, teacher and mentor to countless musicians around the world. As a composer, he wrote works in widely different styles, juxtaposing a romantic intensity with jazz and Latin American elements. His best known works include symphonies, such as "Jeremiah" (1944) and "The Age of Anxiety" (1949), ballets, such as "Fancy Free" (1944), and scores for musicals, among which are "On The Town" (1944), "West Side Story" (1957) and "Mass" (1971), in memory of his friend, President J. F. Kennedy.
In 1943, when Bruno Walter, guest conductor of the New York Philharmonic, fell ill, the 25-year-old Bernstein stepped in and became an overnight success. In 1955, he became the first American-born conductor of La Scala Opera in Milan. In 1958, at the age of 40, Bernstein was appointed the youngest-ever Musical Director of the New York Philharmonic. He held this post until 1970, conducting over 1,000 performances.
Leonard Bernstein conducted orchestras the world over and had especially long and fruitful relationships with the Israel Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic.
He was an innovator whose boundless energy, staggering versatility and rare musical genius went forth in many directions. Through his music, Leonard Bernstein also became an eloquent spokesman for world peace. On 25 December 1989-just after the collapse of the Berlin Wall-he conducted Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in East Berlin and West Berlin.
1.The first communication which Sri Chinmoy received from Leonard Bernstein was a letter which was hand delivered to "Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the United Nations" on 31 October 1977. It reads:
My dear Sri Chinmoy:
It is my pleasure and honor to write you these words of admiration for your astonishing achievements. You are a miraculous model of the abundance in the creative life that we lesser mortals seek, and I can only hope that I may some day meet you and perhaps participate in that cosmic fountain of stillness and profound energy which you inhabit.
Long life to you and your art-
— Leonard Bernstein
Sri Chinmoy replied to Leonard Bernstein's letter on 16 November 1977:
Dear Leonard Bernstein,
Your soulful letter has touched the very depths of my aspiring heart. You are the greatest Conductor and Composer of our age. As an artist, you have reached and have become the Himalayan peak; whereas I am just a tiny anthill. None of the accolades you have so generously offered to me do I rightfully deserve. I am a mere instrument of my Beloved Supreme and my total satisfaction lies in pleasing Him alone in His own Way.
Brother Leonard, you too are a God-lover and a God-server far beyond your own imagination's flight. With your heart's spontaneous, dynamic flames you have most strikingly transformed the entire music-world and are spreading triumphantly God's Music-Light here and there and all-where. Because of you, your unparalleled capacities, the present-day world has received a new consciousness-light, and for that Heaven and earth are at once supremely proud of you.
Up until now the outer world has acclaimed you as a matchless musician-composer, and now the inner world also has something to say about you. To my extreme delight, the day is fast approaching when the inner world will grant you its illumining and fulfilling wealth in measureless measure.
You would like to meet me some day. I wish to say that in the soul's world we two have definitely long ago met. Your heart's soulful and your soul's blessingful message-letter to me has amply proved it. Very soon I hope that we shall also meet on the outer plane. My aspiration-heart lovingly awaits God's Hour.
Yours in the Supreme,
First meeting between Leonard Bernstein and Sri Chinmoy
GreetingLeonard Bernstein: Oh, dear man, how wonderful of you to come! (Sri Chinmoy offers Leonard Bernstein a bouquet of flowers.) Thank you so much for the gift.
Sri Chinmoy: It is so kind of you to invite me.
Leonard Bernstein: I am sorry to keep you waiting. You are an important man. Are you all alone?
Sri Chinmoy: I am here alone, but my students are downstairs.
Leonard Bernstein: Your students? How many?
Sri Chinmoy: There are about twenty or so. I have composed a song in honour of you and I would be very grateful if you would kindly allow us to sing the song.
Leonard Bernstein: But of course. Do you want to bring them up?
Sri Chinmoy: Here we could have a few minutes of silence, and then we could call them.
Leonard Bernstein: How wonderful!
MeditationSri Chinmoy: May I pray and meditate with you for a few minutes?
Leonard Bernstein: That is wonderful; it is exactly what I would like.
Sri Chinmoy: A tiny drop of a musician has come to the ocean of the music-world. Please feel that the drop is most eagerly waiting to enter and merge into the ocean itself. You are the Himalayan musician and the supreme lover of music. I have read so much about you. I have heard so much about you. More than that, since I am a seeker I can also feel your heart. In the Almighty we are all one; we are sailing in the same boat. That is why I can easily identify myself with your heart and soul. You are not someone unknown to me; you are more than known.
Leonard Bernstein: How should I address you?
Sri Chinmoy: In any way you wish. You are the master-musician; I am the beginner.
Leonard Bernstein: I am so moved.
Sri Chinmoy: In the capacity of two seekers we are serving the Supreme; we are sailing in the same boat. I must not dare to say a word to you about music, which is the universal language. Now we are praying and meditating. It is through our prayer and meditation that we please our Beloved Supreme. You are the ocean of music, and inside your music-world the world of aspiration and dedication is constantly growing. (Sri Chinmoy and Leonard Bernstein meditate together.)
(Sri Chinmoy's comment: He was so deeply moved; he could not speak for a couple of minutes. Afterwards he grabbed my hands.)
Leonard Bernstein: I have not done that in so long. I was taught transcendental meditation about four years ago. I did it as strictly as I could for seven weeks. But I could not continue it, so I lost it. Every once in a while I would come back to it. My mantra was always with me. But I have not done it for a very long time, and you brought that back.
We are oneSri Chinmoy: We are one. We are sailing in the same boat. Our Beloved Father Supreme is manifesting Himself in and through us. You have offered to the world at large something unique, and the outer world knows who you are because of the magnificence of your unique contribution. The inner world, which is your heart's cry and your implicit faith in your Beloved Supreme, offers you constant oneness with the will of the Supreme. For that the outer world does not yet know you. But the golden day will dawn when the Supreme Message which you embody in the inner world will come to the fore. At that time the world will see you as the supreme seeker who is also the supreme composer and conductor. God the Lover aspect, which you embody in boundless measure, has yet to come to the fore. In your writings and in your compositions the world gets an iota of what you truly are inwardly. But I know how much the message of the inner world, which you embody, will come to the fore. Along with your music, it will inundate the world of aspiration and dedication.
Leonard Bernstein: I don't know how many years more I have to do that. That worries me, because I do have a lot to do. You are right. I have only begun, but I am sixty years old.
Sri Chinmoy: In the Heart of our Beloved Supreme, sixty years is nothing. It is a fleeting second. Again, in a fleeting second you can inundate your entire being with infinite peace, light and bliss. The promise that your soul has made to the Supreme you are bound to fulfil. Your soul will not be satisfied unless and until you have offered to the world at large everything that you are supposed to offer and everything that you are.
Leonard Bernstein: That is what I try to do. But there is so little time. Maybe I love people too much. I have so many friends and people I love.
Sri Chinmoy: You are loving them because you see in them the living embodiment of your Beloved Supreme. Sri Ramakrishna was a great spiritual Master. His dearest disciple, Swami Vivekananda, once asked his Master, "Why do you always think of me? Why do you speak to me so much and why do you always show me so much affection?" Sri Ramakrishna replied, "I see God Himself in you. If I see an ordinary, unaspiring person, then I will not look at him." In the same way, you have so many friends, admirers and adorers. But you do not see them as ordinary human beings who are full of ignorance. You see them as God's representatives, as God's own creation. When you look at them and talk to them, you see in them the living Presence of your Beloved Supreme. So what you have been doing is most important. The Supreme has chosen you to be His supreme instrument in the music-world and in the spiritual world.
Leonard Bernstein: How do you know that?
Sri Chinmoy: A God-seeker knows everything; a God-lover knows everything.
Leonard Bernstein: There are many wonderful musicians in the world who are much greater than I.
Sri Chinmoy: Not at all! That is again your humility speaking. The Supreme, out of His infinite Bounty, has given you some capacity. On the strength of my oneness with my Inner Pilot, I know who you are. To be very frank with you, you do not know who you are. I know more than you do, infinitely more than you do, about you in the inner world. About your outer life, you know. But you do not know your real inner self.
Leonard Bernstein: I feel it, though.
A roaring lionSri Chinmoy: Inside you is a roaring lion, but that roaring lion is encaged. It is roaring there, but it is unable to come out. As soon as it comes out, then only will it be able to roar properly and manifest what it has within.
Leonard Bernstein: Why is it encaged?
Sri Chinmoy: Why is it encaged? I have to be very frank with you. If you could devote a little more time to the inner world…
Leonard Bernstein: I thought you would say that.
Sri Chinmoy: Forgive me.
Leonard Bernstein: I am so happy you said that. I spend so much time with the outer world.
Sri Chinmoy: You have the key, but right now you are not using the key. The door is right in front of you.
Leonard Bernstein: There are so many aspects of the outer world that are spiritual, that are golden. My children are part of the outer world. I spend a great deal of time with my children, for example.
Sri Chinmoy: Keats said, "Beauty is truth and truth, beauty." He also said, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever." In your writings I see that beauty and truth are inseparable. That is what you are manifesting all the time. In your case, I see that it is all beauty and truth, and they are interlinked. It is like Walt Whitman's theory in Leaves of Grass. There is no difference between body and soul. You have realised the inseparable oneness between spirit and matter, between the Creator and the creation.
Leonard Bernstein: Now you see, that takes a great deal of time.
Sri Chinmoy: But you have done it. Only you have done it in the inner world; in the outer world it takes time. In the inner world you know that you are the supreme musician.
Leonard Bernstein: That is so hard to accept. I cannot take that responsibility.
Sri Chinmoy: That is good.
Would it offend you if I smoke?Leonard Bernstein: Would it offend you if I smoke?
Sri Chinmoy: No, it would not offend me at all. If that is your nature, then why should it offend me?
Leonard Bernstein: You do not smoke, I am sure.
Sri Chinmoy: On the strength of my oneness with you, how am I going to say that it is something wrong if it pleases you?
Leonard Bernstein: The doctors told me yesterday that I have to stop or I will die. I do not want to die. I would disappoint you if I died…
Sri Chinmoy: Certainly!
Leonard Bernstein:…before I did my work.
Sri Chinmoy: No question!
Leonard Bernstein: But this is very bad for me.
Sri Chinmoy: Oh, I have a present for you.
Leonard Bernstein: Another present?
Sri Chinmoy: Let me present this to you. (Sri Chinmoy gives Leonard Bernstein a framed copy of his "Leonard Bernstein" poem, written in calligraphy.)
Leonard Bernstein: I love those things.
Sri Chinmoy: Oh, excellent.
Leonard Bernstein: They are so beautiful. How I wish to get a painting of yours! I have seen so many prints, but I have not seen an original painting.
Sri Chinmoy: I shall definitely give you a painting of mine.
Leonard Bernstein: Wonderful!
Eternity's song birdSri Chinmoy: This is what I feel about you. You are Eternity's singing bird. This is the song I composed a few days ago about you.
Leonard Bernstein: You have music to this?
Sri Chinmoy: I have music also. My students would be so grateful if they could sing this for you.
Leonard Bernstein: You play instruments also. You play forty-six instruments or something.
Sri Chinmoy: Jack of all trades, master of none, none, none! So, this particular song, if you could kindly allow my students to sing for you…
Leonard Bernstein: Of course! How many are there? How many students did you bring?
Sri Chinmoy: You have to forgive me, I think there are seventeen or eighteen. One of my students has come from France. He is the conductor. He is the greatest admirer of yours. His name is Olivier Greif. I have given him the name Haridas.
Leonard Bernstein: He is the boy I know from Tanglewood. He studied with me last time. He is young.
Sri Chinmoy: He is a young man, a very young conductor. And he has been shining in France of late. So this is the song. First they will sing the melody which I have composed, and then they will sing in rounds.
Leonard Bernstein: An arrangement?
Sri Chinmoy: Yes, they have made an arrangement. Only the melody is mine.
Leonard Bernstein: How wonderful! Where are they? Please let them come up.
The ocean and the dropSri Chinmoy: Please feel my most sincere gratitude. It is most kind of you.
Leonard Bernstein: How can you think that? It has to be the other way. You are the boundless energy and stillness all at the same time. How can you say that? I am the drop.
Sri Chinmoy: No, you are the ocean and I am the drop. Would it be possible for my students to have one or two pictures with you?
Leonard Bernstein: Of course!
Sri Chinmoy: Or is it forbidden by the secretary? They say that you do not want any photographers to come and take pictures.
Leonard Bernstein: Oh, of course you can! Am I allowed to drink alcohol? Am I?
Sri Chinmoy: You can do anything you like.
Leonard Bernstein: I did not expect that.
Sri Chinmoy: My oneness with you will never permit me to interfere with you in this way.
Leonard Bernstein: But maybe it will be a bad influence on your students.
Sri Chinmoy: That may be, but nothing will bother me.
Leonard Bernstein: I am ashamed when I have to have a drink. I love your face.
Sri Chinmoy: I love your soul and I love your entire existence on earth and in Heaven. You love my face. I love your soul, heart, mind, vital and body. I love your oneness with Mother-Earth and your oneness with Father-Heaven.
Leonard Bernstein: The flowers you brought me must be put in water. They are so beautiful. How I wish my wife were here! She would have been so moved. She died a few months ago. She was the most beautiful woman in the world, unique.
Sri Chinmoy: How old was she?
Leonard Bernstein: Forty-one. But she looked much younger and she was much younger inside. She was really a creature of God. I have this. I want to give it to you. It is an scarf I bought in India. I like it very much. I want you to have it. It is blue. (First Sri Chinmoy tied the scarf around his neck in what he later described as a "funny, crazy way." Leonard Bernstein did not say anything, but untied and rearranged the scarf, and then embraced Sri Chinmoy.)
Sri Chinmoy: Blue is spirituality. This colour blue represents spirituality and Infinity.
Leonard Bernstein: Would you wear this?
Sri Chinmoy: Certainly!
Enter studentsLeonard Bernstein (as Sri Chinmoy's students enter): Hello, come in! Oh, such beautiful people! I just found a scarf from India which I thought he might wear, because it had the same colour blue that he is wearing now.
Sri Chinmoy: Thank you. So this is the group that will sing for you. Oh, I am a liar! I said seventeen or eighteen. They will be standing.
Sri Chinmoy (introducing Leonard Bernstein to Haridas): This is the young man I was talking about. He is the conductor.
Leonard Bernstein: But of course! And we met where? Now it comes back. What have you been doing since then? (Leonard Bernstein and Haridas converse in French.)
Sri Chinmoy: Will you kindly be seated here?
Leonard Bernstein: You mean I am to sit here in royal splendour?
Sri Chinmoy: Please be seated. This is the place where we meditated together.
Leonard Bernstein: Yes, this is our place. This is where we sat. I don't believe this series of presents! He gave me the flowers and I thought, "This is too much!" The flowers are just too beautiful; they smell so beautiful. Then came that poem, the song which you are going to sing. And now what, my Lord! (Sri Chinmoy presents Leonard Bernstein with a plague containing the words and music to his "Leonard Bernstein" song, and Leonard Bernstein starts humming the song.) I can't wait to hear it! What's all this? Incredible! I don't know what to say. I won't say anything.
Sri Chinmoy: In oneness there is nothing to be said. Oneness we only feel and manifest. Nothing fulfils us but to feel and become and remain always one.
Leonard Bernstein: Who are you all?
Sri Chinmoy: These are my students.
Leonard Bernstein: You do various things? You are not all connected with the UN?
Sri Chinmoy: Most of them work at the United Nations.
(Choir sings "Leonard Bernstein " song.)
Leonard Bernstein: What music I hear! Beautiful! When did you learn that?
Sri Chinmoy: Just last night.
Leonard Bernstein: When?
Sri Chinmoy: Last night.
Leonard Bernstein: Last night? Oh, come on!
Sri Chinmoy: The whole night.
Singer: We studied all last night and finished at six this morning.
Leonard Bernstein: How incredible! You all look so fresh. You all went to your jobs this morning perfectly healthy and breathing and not falling asleep? What power, my God, what power this man gives you! That is incredible. Did anybody have a tape machine going?
Sri Chinmoy: If you do not mind, they will be more than willing to sing it once again. We do not want to intrude on your valuable time.
Leonard Bernstein: Can you stand there and then sing it again?
Sri Chinmoy: They can, easily.
Leonard Bernstein: Oh, it is just incredible! He said there was going to be some kind of 'round'. I didn't know what a 'round' exactly was; I was waiting for the tune in a round. I waited. I had no idea!
CounterpointPeter (Leonard Bernstein's assistant): Can you wait a second?
Leonard Bernstein: I am waiting, infinitely patient. (Taking Haridas' hand) Olivier, c'est incroyable, ce que tu as fait! (They continue speaking in French.)
Haridas: Mr. Bernstein just said that Guru writes divine counterpoint.
Leonard Bernstein: He has no idea he is writing counterpoint. (To Sri Chinmoy) If I say 'counterpoint' to you, you will ask what that is. (To the group) But he has written a counterpoint like Bach. Every phrase goes with every other phrase, so that no matter what you do, you can't miss. That doesn't mean he (indicating Haridas) has not worked very hard to make the right things go with the right things. I am so impressed, I can't say! My ego is not impressed at all, but my musical spirit is very, very deeply impressed.
It is incredible the way you sing. And not one embarrassed face! That is what I was looking for. Usually when people come to sing for me, they blush, they look embarrassed, they kick their shins, they worry if they sing a wrong note. But you are all just so incredibly relaxed and full of breath! You are very lucky people; you know that, of course. I am very lucky now, too.
I am also luckySri Chinmoy: I am also lucky to have them.
Leonard Bernstein: Of course, how many more of them are there?
Sri Chinmoy: I have about seven hundred students.
Leonard Bernstein: Seven hundred! He works only in astronomical numbers! How many paintings? It was one hundred thousand last year.
Singer: One hundred and thirty thousand.
Leonard Bernstein: You mean he has painted thirty thousand pictures since that celebration of one hundred thousand! I wish I could have attended that night, but I couldn't. Our meeting had to be put off until today. What a perfect day it is today! It's the first day of spring. It has been so many years since the first day of spring has looked like the first day of spring. I can't remember how long — at least ten years since we have had a perfect March 21. And it was Bach's birthday last night and it's my mother's birthday tomorrow. So Bach and you and my mother and all these beautiful kids, and spring: God, that's too much!
Where are you going to sit? Sit down on the floor somewhere. Please rest yourselves for a minute. I cannot bear you all standing so. That's better. While we are waiting for Peter to set up, let's be silent together.
(Leonard Bernstein meditates with Sri Chinmoy again.)
Another presentLeonard Bernstein: God, how beautiful! How beautiful you all are, like this day.
The presentSri Chinmoy: I would like to offer you another present.
Leonard Bernstein: Oh, no! (Sri Chinmoy presents Leonard Bernstein with the banner of the Meditation Group that he leads at the United Nations.)
Sri Chinmoy: This what we do at the United Nations.
Leonard Bernstein: I am very happy to have this. This I have read. (Introducing his daughter, Nina) This is Olivier Greif, who is conducting them and who made an arrangement of Sri Chinmoy's song. How can I explain it? Oh, I am so happy! Wouldn't you like some drinks? How about some ginger ale? How about some soft drinks? All right, all soft drinks!
(The Singers perform the song once more.)
Leonard Bernstein: This should be the greatest ego trip anybody had. But it is not the way I feel at all. I am not even that impressed by the lyrics, but I am so impressed by you all. You have turned my heart over! You all read music? You are incredible! You sound like an absolutely A-1 professional choir. I don't know if this is the result of meditating or the result of practice. I guess it is a combination of both. Incredible! I don't know how you do it. I am baffled. Very good!
Sri Chinmoy (while leaving): We wish to invite you to the United Nations to our Meditation Group. Whenever you are free, I will be so deeply honoured if you could come to our Meditation Group.
Leonard Bernstein: I would love to. Have somebody tell me, and we will make a time.
Sri Chinmoy: When is your birthday?
Leonard Bernstein: August 25th. I will be in Europe then.
Sri Chinmoy: When will you be back?
Leonard Bernstein: Not until October.
Sri Chinmoy: Before your birthday?
Leonard Bernstein: In July I am in Tanglewood. I am teaching and conducting the Boston Symphony and I am teaching students.
Sri Chinmoy: Will the first week of August be possible?
Leonard Bernstein: The first week I think I will be here.
Sri Chinmoy: Before your birthday we would like to observe your birthday. If you will be in New York at that time, our Meditation Group can observe it at the United Nations.
Leonard Bernstein: That would be wonderful. Thank you.
An expression of gratitudeOn 28 March 1979, just seven days after their first meeting, a messenger arrived with a personal gift to Sri Chinmoy from Leonard Bernstein. The gift was an original manuscript of a song about Sri Chinmoy which the Maestro had composed in his own hand. It was inscribed:
"Profound thanks to Sri Chinmoy and his forty angel-voices (Olivier, Archangel) from Leonard Bernstein, 28 March 1979." It is a musical piece for sitar, flute, tabla, bass and drone and is based on the Indian raga "Bahar" which honours the coming of spring. The words to the song are:
"Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy,
Free in joy!
Thank you, thank you, Sri Chinmoy —
You brought Leonard Bernstein joy."
Second meeting with Leonard Bernstein
GreetingOn 11 September 1986 Sri Chinmoy once more visited Leonard Bernstein at the Dakota Building, where the Maestro lived in Manhattan. First they met privately in Mr. Bernstein's study and then came into the living room to hear a performance by the Sri Chinmoy choir. Following are excerpts from the meeting.
Leonard Bernstein: Aren't you ladies beautiful! Why don't the men have robes, too? They have to have ties and look like bank clerks, and the women look so ravishing in saris. Six years ago there were 40 of you, and now you are just a select few. (Jokingly) Did the others defect, or is it just that you are the choice ones?
Sri Chinmoy: They are the choicest. We have not fired anybody.
Leonard Bernstein: So nobody defected; nobody went over to the other side. Well, Master, where do you want me?
Sri Chinmoy: Please sit here.
Leonard Bernstein: Then I cannot see the conductor. Oh good, now this is fine. I have to feel your biceps now, Sri Chinmoy! You do one-arm weightlifting. I have received a whole book on your weightlifting.
Singer: He has lifted 300 pounds with one arm.
Leonard Bernstein: 300 pounds! Through meditation and the love of God, of course!
Sri Chinmoy: Love of God and prayer.
Leonard Bernstein: Well, this is extraordinary! You have been rehearsing all night?
Singer: This time we had a few days.
Leonard Bernstein: Oh good! The last time I remember you stayed up all night.
Singer: It is amazing that you remember that.
SongsLeonard Bernstein (looking at the song pamphlet): Are you going to sing all these songs?
Sri Chinmoy: Yes. It will not take much time.
Leonard Bernstein: No, I am not worried about the time. I am just worried about the endless energy. I don't know why. I smoke, drink and do everything bad. Am I allowed to have a drink?
Sri Chinmoy: Certainly!
Leonard Bernstein (to the singers): You have been waiting so patiently. I didn't know you were here. Nobody told me you were coming. Where did you wait — outside in the street?
DISCIPLES: In the park.
Leonard Bernstein: That is incredible. Okay, let's go! Shoot!
(Singers perform "The Leonard Bernstein Cantata," a 25 minute arrangement by Haridas Greif of Sri Chinmoy's original song which was performed for Leonard Bernstein at their first meeting.)
Leonard Bernstein: Unbelievable! How did you remember all that? I hope that this time it was recorded. The last time — do you remember — you finished and someone said, "Gee, it's a pity we didn't record that!"
Haridas: It is recorded. We have made a tape. (He gives Mr. Bernstein the tape. Then Sri Chinmoy presents Mr. Bernstein with a plaque.)
Leonard Bernstein: Goodness, O my God! I haven't got any more wall space to hang these. And who is that young fellow (pointing to his own picture in the plaque)?
Sri Chinmoy: The eternal child!
Leonard Bernstein: I hope so. If that ever goes away, then I will give up. I'll have to find a place for this. I am so grateful. I can't get over it. You talk about perfection. You cannot learn a song like that in a couple of days. Is it like weightlifting? Through meditation you can do everything — even remember 30 minutes of variations and notes!
Singer: Let's hope it did not seem that long.
Leonard Bernstein: I have been rehearsing all day with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. They have the notes in front of them. When I tell them that something has to be this way, they see what it is and they write it in. But they have the notes. You have nothing in front of you except your spirits and your brains. I don't know, I have never seen such a phenomenon of memory. How does it work? Somebody explain it to me.
Haridas: I think you have the answer near you (pointing to Sri Chinmoy).
Leonard Bernstein (to Sri Chinmoy): You!
Sri Chinmoy: I teach the life of prayer and meditation. When we pray and meditate, there is no such thing as impossibility. Just three days ago I told them, "You will not be allowed to read the music." So in three days they memorised everything.
Leonard Bernstein: But there is something else in what you just said, which is a certain divine authority.
Sri Chinmoy: On the strength of my oneness with them, I know they have the capacity. It is my oneness-authority. I will not ask someone in the street to do this. But these people pray with me and meditate with me; they are part and parcel of my aspiration-life. It is all a sweet little family. As the head of the family, I tell them that this is what will give me joy, and out of love they do it. They belong to me and I belong to them.
Leonard Bernstein: The relationship is so deep and strong.
Sri Chinmoy: We have the same goal: perfection in life, perfection in action; perfection is satisfaction. Perfection and satisfaction cannot be separated. If there is perfection, then there is satisfaction. This is what your life is. These are the words.
Leonard Bernstein: This is what I try for. (Looking at the music score) I need glasses to see this. I love the fast tempo. Last time you did it much slower. It is a great idea and it has such energy.
Haridas: It is your energy that is portrayed.
(Singers perform the songs that Sri Chinmoy has written to Leonard Bernstein's words.)
Leonard Bernstein: How did you remember all that? It gets more and more imponderable. I do not understand it. I do, but I just cannot believe it. There are only two words I cannot bear anymore: one is 'Leonard' and the other one is 'Bernstein.' I would love to lose that identity completely!
The formlessSri Chinmoy: We go to the formless only through the form. We go to the Infinite via the finite. To go beyond the form, we are going through the form. There is Leonard Bernstein the man and Leonard Bernstein the divine composer and supreme conductor.
Leonard Bernstein: How can I go beyond the man when you keep reminding me of him with these two words?
Sri Chinmoy: An Indian mantra is like that. By repeating and repeating a mantra we grow into the very essence and quintessence of the mantra.
Leonard Bernstein: I have my mantra. It was given to me in the name of a cosmic god. It was very beautiful when I received my mantra. There were offerings of flowers, vegetables and dried things from the fields. I never get tired of my mantra but I get very tired of my name because it confines me; it restricts me to an individual person. The wonderful thing about a mantra is that it is not your name. You can forget your name and become what you are with this incredible leader.
Sri Chinmoy: Your name may confine you, but it illumines us in the world of music. It may confine you because it is your name. But, in our case, when your name enters into our minds or into our hearts, immediately it throws us into an ocean of musical light and delight.
Leonard Bernstein: I can understand that being somebody else's mantra, but for myself, it confines me. It can open gates, but not for me because it always makes me feel confined. I understand you; that is the main thing. But what I don't understand is them (pointing to the Singers). The memorisation of so many units of information — bits, as they say in information theory — millions and millions of bits of accents and notes and syllables and words and combinations. I don't understand it.
Haridas: But when you conduct a classical work by heart, you have to memorise so many more things.
Leonard Bernstein: But I could not sit in the orchestra and play one of the parts. I could have the overall picture. I could be a Rabbi, a teacher, and show them what they cannot see because they are confined to one part, just as each of you is confined to his or her part. So (turning to Haridas) I can understand your function. But all those people that I conduct have notes in front of them, as well as all the remarks and observations that I have made to them. To some it's a revelation and to some it's just information. But they have it all written in front of them. But you have it all here (pointing to his head) or here (pointing to his heart) or wherever it is. And my admiration is just unbounded. I can't understand it. I kneel before that.
Our admiration is boundlessSri Chinmoy: Our admiration for you is also boundless. Just recently in Central Park, you gave so much joy to 500,000 people — not for a fleeting second but for hours. It is beyond the flight of our imagination how a single God-lover can inspire, illumine and give joy to 500,000 people. For us, this is something unheard of!
Leonard Bernstein: I think the secret is what you said about not a fleeting second. The secret of music is that it makes time stop. We are all prisoners of clock time: "I have to be at my job" or "I have to see my wife" or "I promised I would be there at eight o'clock and it's now that time." What music does is release you from that, so that you can be in the time of the music. And though it may last 35 minutes or 65 minutes, it's an eternity because within the dimensions of each composition there exists an eternal time, which is the time of that composition. Even if it's a little piece like the "Marriage of Figaro Overture," which is four minutes, while you are listening to that Overture, you are in cosmic time. It could be the equivalent of four years of experience — a lifetime! And if it's "Tristan and Isolde," which is four and a half hours plus intermissions, then that's another kind of lifetime that you live during the duration of the music. Some kinds of time cannot be counted. It's neither hours nor minutes nor seconds, but the time that is expressed by the genius who wrote the music: Mozart, Wagner, Stravinski or whoever it is. And it's a great privilege to live in that piece of time — to exist within that piece of music forever. It is a privilege like being with Sri Chinmoy. It is timeless, whatever the duration of the work is. While in this world, you don't have to make an appointment. You don't have to rush. You just listen for the next inevitable note or chord or pause. Those of us who are musical are privileged to have that experience. You are all so musical. How do you sing so well in tune? I don't understand that either.
Singer: It does not always happen.
Leonard Bernstein: You mean he has to correct you a lot? I never could sing in tune even when I had a decent voice — before it got ruined by cigarettes and screaming at orchestras. I hear the notes exactly, but what comes out of my mouth are ugly toads, and they get uglier all the time. When I sing something for an orchestra to show them how I mean it to sound, they say, "What?" I say, "Well, you know what I mean." I know that it's the wrong notes and the wrong key, but they always know what I mean. But if I had to be one of you and sing in this chorus, I couldn't do it. I would love to be able to do that.
Haridas: I invite you.
Leonard Bernstein: You would regret that invitation, I assure you; you would rue the day that you ever asked me because I would ruin your chorus. I can't sing two phrases in tune. (He sings "Leonard Bernstein.") Is that right?
Haridas: It is perfect!
Leonard Bernstein: No, it's not perfect! I have often thought that I would exchange all the gifts that I have been blessed with from Heaven if I could only have the ability to sing.
Sri Chinmoy: Then what would happen to those who have got such inspiration, joy and satisfaction in life from you? If you want to change your field, what will happen to them?
Leonard Bernstein: If I could sing, if I could get out on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House and make people thrill to the ringing conviction of my resounding baritone, I would give everything up. Singing is what it is all about. That's all I try to do with the orchestra. That's what I try to teach and try to do on the piano. That's why I admire so much what you are doing. King David sang his psalms before the Lord on the steps of the temple with his musicians accompanying him. One hundred and fifty-odd psalms — no small repertoire, but it is nothing compared to Sri Chinmoy's! That is my ideal in life — to be able to sing like David and praise God. Maybe I did it in a former life. Maybe I used to be a second-rate baritone in an opera company.
Sri Chinmoy: Perhaps you did everything, so now you are fed up with it. Now you are giving a new experience to the world. I would like to offer you this.
Leonard Bernstein: Oh, not something else! You gave me this, you gave me that, you gave me so much!
Sri Chinmoy: This is something for your birthday. Better late than never!
Leonard Bernstein (looking at the cake with his picture etched in icing): Who is that silly looking man?
Sri Chinmoy (to the choir): Please sing the Happy Birthday song.
(Choir sings "Happy Birthday" and at the end Leonard Bernstein conducts them.)
Leonard Bernstein: Thank you very much. You are godly people (clasps Sri Chinmoy's hands). It is a privilege to be with you. Have yourselves a piece of cake. I mean it. Is there somebody with a cake knife? You deserve at least a piece of cake. You are probably all very hungry. It is way past your dinner time.
Sri Chinmoy: Would you kindly come to our tennis court to play tennis?
Leonard Bernstein: Sunday I am going to Europe and I will be gone for a month or more. When I come back, I think it will be post-tennis time. It will be late October. Then until March I am a composer. I am very busy. That is the hardest work I do — much harder than all this public stuff. I am very private, and I am usually in Connecticut, most of the time alone, just seeking these notes. It is hard work, but at least I can control my own schedule. I am off the clock. That's like being in a piece of music. If I want to work all night, I can, and I can sleep in the day, or the other way around. I can play tennis or meditate or walk in the woods. I love that. It is very lonely. It is a completely different kind of life from the one I have now, which is with many people and photographers and newspaper people from Paris and Hong Kong. They are around all the time.
Did you people get a piece of cake?
Singer: On the way out, we will be able to take some cake.
Leonard Bernstein: But I would like to see you eating it now. I would like to see you happy and well fed. (He embraces Sri Chinmoy.) I don't know what to say. I am just overwhelmed by the perfection. Perfection is your key word.
Sri Chinmoy: We are all dreamers of perfection, but perfection is still a far cry.
(Leonard Bernstein speaks with Haridas briefly in French, then chats with the singers as they leave.)
NoteOn the 25th anniversary of Sri Chinmoy's arrival in the West on 13 April 1964, Leonard Bernstein sent him the following telegram:
Dear Sri Chinmoy: It is an honor to know you and to be counted among your friends.
— Leonard Bernstein
Memorial tribute at the United NationsLeonard Bernstein passed away on 14 October 1990. A memorial tribute to him was held at the United Nations in New York on 6 November by Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the United Nations.
Sri Chinmoy opened the programme with a period of silent meditation. A video was then shown of the choir performing Sri Chinmoy's song for Leonard Bernstein at the Maestro's apartment.
Following this, a number of delegates and staff members offered words of appreciation and gratitude for Leonard Bernstein's deeply significant offerings to humanity during the course of his life.
On 14 October 1993 Sri Chinmoy offered a Peace Concert at the Medical Association Hall in Miyazaki, Japan. He dedicated the concert to Leonard Bernstein on the third anniversary of his passing:
"Today's Peace Concert I am most lovingly and most gratefully dedicating to the immortal emperor-musician-conductor Leonard Bernstein, the third anniversary of whose passing takes place today. On two occasions he showered his blessings, compassion and encouragement upon me and my talented singers. His heart of compassion and love, encouragement, warmth and oneness my students and I shall forever cherish in the very depth of our gratitude-heart."
Eternity's singing birdLeonard Bernstein, Leonard!
Eternity's singing bird!
Nectar-oneness your divinity.
World-server-emperor in the cosmos ring.
Pictures — Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein soulfully listens to the performance of the “Leonard Bernstein” song. 21 March 1979
Leonard Bernstein warmly bids Sri Chinmoy farewell at the conclusion of their first meeting.
Leonard Bernstein and Sri Chinmoy meditate together during their second meeting. 11 September 1986
Part III: Yehudi Menuhin
Biographical noteYehudi Menuhin was born in America in 1916 of Russian parents. A child prodigy on the violin, he achieved great depth of interpretation and was often accompanied on the piano by his sister Hephzibah. He made his debut with an orchestra at the age of eleven in New York. In 1959 he moved to London and became a British subject in 1985.
Since 1945 he has toured extensively all over the world and is greatly admired for his love of both Eastern and Western musical traditions. In 1974 he recorded an album with legendary Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar. He has founded yearly music festivals in Gstaad (Switzerland), Bath and Windsor. He has conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra since 1982 and the English String Orchestra since 1988. He has also directed and conducted the Asian Youth Orchestra.
Mr. Menuhin has received many honours and awards for his musical contributions, including the Nehru Award for International Peace and Understanding (1970), the 30th Anniversary Medal of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France). In 1993 he was created a Baron (Life Peer) of Stoke D'Abernon in the County of Surrey.
He has written a number of books about music, as well as an autobiographical work titled Unfinished Journey (1977).
Meeting with Maestro Yehudi Menuhin
GreetingOn 3 February 1992, Maestro Yehudi Menuhin warmly welcomed Sri Chinmoy and some of his students into his suite at the Rihga Hotel in New York City. During the hour-long meeting, they discussed music and spirituality, and Sri Chinmoy and his students performed several songs by Sri Chinmoy in the Maestro's honour. Following is a transcript of that meeting.
Mr. Menuhin: This is the greatest good fortune, because I have been wanting to meet you for a good many years. Once when I was going out to some college on Long Island, one of those people whom you've inspired tried to arrange something, but unfortunately it didn't happen. Then again last night at my concert, he turned up. Is he here?
Mr. Menuhin: He's the one! He turned up, and I said, "Well, all right, I will be here tomorrow."
Sri Chinmoy: Never give up! For the last 15 years I have been most devotedly longing to meet with you, and now God has fulfilled my long-cherished desire.
Mr. Menuhin: I'm always afraid that people who have looked forward to meeting me will be very disappointed. They've looked forward too long, and here I am — just a very, very ordinary human being.
Sri Chinmoy: No, no! At God's choice Hour everything takes place. This is God's choice Hour for us to meet.
Mr. Menuhin: Yes, I suppose there is a certain destiny, a certain fatality about events. Some of the events are beyond our control, aren't they? Some people don't believe in accidents at all. I don't really know. There must be some sort of reckoning that doesn't necessarily depend on a universal computer. It depends on what our thinking and our feeling generate in the whole world.
YogaSri Chinmoy: You have been practising yoga for so many years. Yoga goes beyond the domain of science and technology, as you know. Yoga means oneness with the universal consciousness, which is far beyond the domain of the mind. The capacity of the mind is quite limited, whereas the capacity of the heart-which you have and you are-is unlimited. People love, appreciate and admire you because of your inseparable oneness with the universal heart, the universal life and the universal consciousness.
Mr. Menuhin: I have just followed what was offered to me. The first time I was in India, I felt overwhelmed by a world so different from anything I had known. And yet, I had always wanted to go to the East. Most people have gone to the West to find new things.
Sri Chinmoy: We come to the West mostly for material wealth. When we go to the East, it is for inner wisdom.
Mr. Menuhin: Yes, it's true. And I found that there were so many aspects of thought to be considered. Good and evil have always bothered me. In the West we try to separate the two and put evil in prison. We imagine we can create perfect good around us, which is childish nonsense.
Sri Chinmoy: According to Indian philosophy, we feel that evil is a part of ignorance. Evil is simply lesser light. There is abundant, infinite light; again, there is lesser light. When we compare this lesser light, this iota of light, with the infinite light, we call it evil.
Mr. Menuhin: Yes, but as long as we are human beings, as long as we are not pure in thought and as long as we have to deal with our survival, don't you think that good and evil are very much intertwined?
Sri Chinmoy: Right now they are like the obverse and reverse of the same coin. But on the strength of our prayer and meditation, we are hoping that there shall come a time when ignorance itself will be transformed into light. A day shall come when this ignorance-night will be transformed into wisdom-delight by virtue of our soulful prayers and meditations.
Buddhist chantingMr. Menuhin: I do believe there are various Buddhist forms of chanting which are wonderful, wonderful things. There is a Buddhist sect in Japan that regards chanting as the principal act of belonging to a better world. I think that's very important.
Sri Chinmoy: If you would permit us, we could start by chanting one of the main Buddhist chants or mantras. The Buddha's followers chant, Buddham saranam gacchami. Dhammam saranam gacchami. Sangham saranam gacchami. My students could start with this prayerful Buddhist mantra if you would permit it.
Mr. Menuhin: I'd love it, I'd love it!
Sri Chinmoy: I have been to Japan a few times, and we have chanted at Kamakura in front of that most powerful statue of the Lord Buddha.
Mr. Menuhin: I believe that music is part of our lives, and that we can learn a great deal from listening and from playing.
Sri Chinmoy: Music, for me, is the very breath of our universal existence. Inside our body is the heart and inside the heart is our breath.
Mr. Menuhin: I feel music is a point where the tangible and the intangible meet. It goes directly through our ears into our body, and we are subject to the vibrations of the whole universe. It's an art of constructing a work of art in time, because a piece of music is a bit of life; it's a stretch of life. You live that music. Instead of living yourself, you live that music.
Sri Chinmoy: It is the finite that stretches itself into Infinity. When music stretches itself into Infinity, the breath of music enters into the Cosmic Life.
Mr. Menuhin: Yes, it's true. Of course, that is especially true of the chant. In the West it has taken the form of an organised structure like a play or a poem or a novel. What impressed me about the music of India was that, like the civilisation and the river Ganges, it has no beginning and no end.
Sri Chinmoy: It is an eternal flow.
(Singers perform "Buddham saranam gacchami.")
Mr. Menuhin: Beautiful! I love the long, long notes and the meditative quality from one note to another. It's a quality that is specific to religious music as opposed to folk music. This similar to a Gregorian chant in unison, as we had in the Middle Ages. It has very little rhythm; it is music at the service of thought and words. Are the words here determining to a large extent the music? The words are holy, aren't they?
Sri Chinmoy: The meaning of the chant is "I go to the Buddha for refuge. I go to the Dharma for refuge. I go to the Order for refuge."
Mr. Menuhin: Yes, they are the eternal words that we dream of and meditate on-words that last a long, long, long, long time. They give a certain peace, a wonderful sense of serenity. It's not a beat like an African beat. It's another part of life that demands recognition. It's our heartbeat.
Sri Chinmoy: Silence and sound go together.
Mr. Menuhin: Yes, but they are also separate. One is the beat of life, the rhythm of our pulse-of our vibrations themselves. The other is what we dream of-a certain form of dedication and serenity. But you have to have a mood for it. I don't think that if you chanted that on 42nd Street, it would work. That's why people build temples. They build temples to house that spirit. And then you go into the temple in the right mood. You have transformed this room into a temple, and that is a beautiful thing.
Song about Mr. MenuhinSri Chinmoy: Last night when I learned that I would be fortunate enough to meet with you, I was immediately inspired to compose a soulful song in your honour. It was at the eleventh hour.
Mr. Menuhin: I am very grateful.
Sri Chinmoy: And this morning I was inspired to compose another song. Unfortunately, they did not have a chance to learn it, so I have to sing it.
Mr. Menuhin: That's very, very sweet. I'm very, very touched. You shouldn't have. I feel totally unworthy of this.
Other musiciansSri Chinmoy (showing some photographs of his meetings with other musicians): This is Pablo Casals. He was shedding tears when we met and saying, "In the evening of my life, you have come." He played his cello for me. It happened in Puerto Rico many, many years ago.
Mr. Menuhin: Yes, I knew him very well. Very interesting.
Sri Chinmoy: In Manhattan we met Leonard Bernstein twice. Each meeting we started with a meditation.
Mr. Menuhin: Lenny Bernstein's lifestyle was quite different.
Sri Chinmoy: But when he was with us, he was always fond of meditating.
Mr. Menuhin: He was a genius, a remarkable man, a marvellous man. But he was torn inside. (Sri Chinmoy shows photographs of his meetings with Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur, Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan. Then he presents Mr. Menuhin with a copy of the song that he has composed about him.)
The SongSri Chinmoy: This is the song they are going to sing.
Mr. Menuhin: When you see it that way, you realise the great chasm there is between the printed notes and the actual act of singing.
Sri Chinmoy: They will be singing it now.
(Singers perform the song.)
Mr. Menuhin: Thank you. You learned that by heart? It's wonderful. You know, it's a dreadful habit to look at music. One should forget about it. It's wonderful that you sing it from memory. (To Sri Chinmoy) Did you teach it?
Singer: Yes, he taught it to us personally. He always insists that we not use the music.
Singer: Last night he taught it to us.
Mr. Menuhin: What was the process? Did you think of the music?
Singer: No, he writes the words and then he composes the music to the words. He wrote the entire song on a little keyboard.
Mr. Menuhin: And then you chant it?
Singer: He teaches us the music and we write it out in Western notation and learn it. He has written thousands of devotional songs. And just as you said, he encourages us not to use the music because when we look at music, we're using our minds, whereas when we sing without the music, we're using our hearts. This is what he encourages us to do: sing these songs with our hearts and souls.
Mr. Menuhin: Yes, I think it's amazing the way you sing together, and without having music. So none of you ever looked at the music?
Singer: We studied the music and learned it by heart.
Singer: Sri Chinmoy has us sing it over and over until we get it as he wants us to sing it.
Mr. Menuhin: Yes, that is very effective. And you probably have quite a repertoire.
Sri Chinmoy: Yes, literally hundreds and hundreds of songs they know by heart. I have composed about 6,000 songs in Bengali and another 3,000 in English. Here is the song I wrote during the day. They had to go to work this morning, so they could not learn this.
(Sri Chinmoy reads the words to the second song he composed in Mr. Menuhin's honour.)
Mr. Menuhin: I don't deserve anything.
Sri Chinmoy: May I sing it for you?
Mr. Menuhin: I should get on my knees for this.
Sri Chinmoy (sits down at the harmonium): And also, I have set to music two most significant utterances of yours. (Reads words.)
Mr. Menuhin: How do you teach your group?
Sri Chinmoy: We live in Jamaica, Queens, and meet together at least two or three times a week to pray and meditate. We take soulful music as part of our spiritual life. When we sing soulfully, we feel we are praying to God.
Mr. Menuhin: Do you also give lectures, or is it just prayer, meditation and singing?
Sri Chinmoy: I have given talks all over the world-in most of the major universities. The talks are about Indian philosophy and our spiritual way of life. I have been praying and meditating since my childhood.
Mr. Menuhin: Yes, I can believe that.
Indian philosophySri Chinmoy: I have studied our Indian philosophy thoroughly — the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita and all the other major sacred books. On the basis of these teachings and also my own inner awakening, I have been offering my soulful services in many parts of the world over the past 28 years. Also I have been serving at the United Nations for the last 22 years. Every Tuesday and Friday I go there to pray and meditate, and the delegates, diplomats and staff who are interested in praying and meditating come and join me.
Mr. Menuhin: Through this meditating and singing and through your wonderful talks, do your students acquire an attitude about contemporary life and what is happening in the world?
Sri Chinmoy: Yes, our way is not the way of renunciation. Our way is the way of acceptance. We have accepted the world as such and we are trying to better it through our prayers and meditations. We do not reject or shun the world, far from it! We accept the world as it is with the hope that we can be of service to improve the world and help it to have a better consciousness.
Mr. Menuhin: The only way I know, the best way, is to improve ourselves.
Sri Chinmoy: Definitely. We all belong to the same life-tree. Some are leaves, others are flowers and others are fruits. But we belong to the same life-tree. When we pray and meditate soulfully, we consciously feel our inseparable oneness with the world.
Mr. Menuhin: And you've probably found it most effective not to join pressure groups or to express opinions that will create enemies.
Sri Chinmoy: Only we try to establish our brotherhood. We do not believe in superiority and inferiority. It is universality that we want: I belong to you; you belong to me. We are one. We always sing the song of oneness. We do not believe in separativity. We believe in unity.
Mr. Menuhin: I think that is the best way.
(Sri Chinmoy sings, accompanying himself on the harmonium.)
Mr. Menuhin: Very, very sweet.
Sri Chinmoy: "I have never resigned myself." This is your most powerful message. Please forgive my audacity for setting tune to your words.
Mr. Menuhin: It's extraordinary the way you put the words to the music. The act of making the music is a meditation on the subject, which is not necessarily passive.
Sri Chinmoy: When we meditate on that subject, we feel that we get its full significance; we derive the utmost blessingful message from the utterance.
Mr. Menuhin: It probably also means that you can keep your balance of mind even under situations that would, without your training, create a violent reaction. Have you all overcome the impulse to react violently to evil? Do you ever lose that serenity?
Sri Chinmoy: Occasionally, for a fleeting moment, but we do not resort to physical violence. Only sometimes, as human beings, we are subject to weaknesses-anger, insecurity, jealousy and so forth. But because we pray and meditate, we feel that we are diminishing those lower qualities or propensities. That is why we practise yoga, as you also do. You know it has helped you immensely to create serenity in your mind.
Mr. Menuhin: I am sure this is an extraordinary discipline. It is a wonderful, wonderful thing to be able to get over the normal reaction to situations. However, I trust you and believe you and admire you. And I would forgive you a thousand times if, in spite of this, once in a while you did get angry. I know myself, I am not inured against that reaction. Sometimes I can get very upset.
Sri Chinmoy: But in the depth of your heart you do not mean it. A student of yours has misbehaved, let us say, and you are furious, but in the depth of your heart you are calm. It is like the bottom of the ocean. The bottom of the ocean is calm and quiet, but on the surface the waves are surging.
Mr. Menuhin: At this moment, if you offered me a choice, I'd rather be on the surface.
Sri Chinmoy: That means you want things to be done. In that case, sometimes it is necessary to show anger. If you only speak to your students kindly and compassionately, it may do no good. But if you show your tempestuous anger, then you will be able to achieve your objective in the twinkling of an eye. If you want something to be done, if you want your students to become better musicians, sometimes you have no choice but to resort to anger.
Mr. Menuhin: My mother is like that. She is 96 years old. She could control her anger and direct it so that it had the proper effect. But it was absolutely controlled and she remained relatively calm inside. However, I'm not like that. I can't pretend that I get angry only to bring out the best in other people. I sometimes get angry just because I get angry.
Sri Chinmoy: You are angry because you want something to be done. You want perfection in the other person's life, and you feel that showing anger is the only way you can create perfection in that individual. Otherwise, by nature you are calm and compassionate. Your whole life is full of compassion. Anger is something foreign that enters into you. A foreigner comes and stays for a few seconds.
Russia and IndiaSri Chinmoy: You are of Russian origin. I come from India. A few years ago I composed a Bengali song about the oneness of Russia and India. May I sing the song? The literal translation is: "Russia and India, India and Russia, walk side by side, smiling and smiling. They have one inner feeling and one forward, upward and inward movement. To make the fastest progress, they are flying together in their oneness-heart-sky."
Mr. Menuhin: Of course, there are no people who are more different than the Russians and the Indians.
Sri Chinmoy: But in the depths of our heart we are all one. We have deepest appreciation and admiration for you and vice versa. Outwardly we may differ, but inwardly we always see eye to eye with each other because of our oneness.
Mr. Menuhin: Yes, yes!
(Sri Chinmoy sings.)
Mr. Menuhin: Very, very wonderful thought.
Sri Chinmoy: Would you permit my students to sing one more song in Bengali? It means, "My Lord Supreme, do not allow us to forget You."
(Singers perform "Bhulite diyona.")
Mr. Menuhin: Lovely.
Sri Chinmoy: May I offer this to you? These are the songs that I have composed for you.
(Sri Chinmoy presents the printed music to the songs.)
Mr. Menuhin: That's very kind. Really, you must have been up all night! I am very touched that you should have all come and sung for me and given me a part of your heart. I am very grateful.
Sri Chinmoy: Together we are trying to lift up the world with a oneness-heart. This is our "Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart" Award. (Gives medallion.)
Mr. Menuhin: Thank you so much. I am very grateful. It's very, very sweet of you. Thank you.
(A representative for the Singers presents Mr. Menuhin with a cake which has his portrait etched in icing.)
Mr. Menuhin: Oh no! You must take it and eat it.
Singer: The portrait is on cardboard so you can save it.
Singer: These are some recordings of Sri Chinmoy playing on the keyboard and other instruments. He plays many instruments, but he has a very unique and powerful keyboard style.
Mr. Menuhin: That's very kind of you. (To Sri Chinmoy) Thank you. I'll never forget this. It's very sweet of you. After so many years, we have finally met.
Sri Chinmoy: Both inwardly and outwardly I feel our oneness-oneness in thought, oneness in action, oneness in selfless service to humanity.
FarewellMr. Menuhin: We come from different worlds, but there is something that binds us together. Thank you, thank you very much. I am very grateful to you and very grateful to your followers who sing with such humbleness and ecstasy in their faces. It shows what you've given them.
Sri Chinmoy (introducing the choirmaster): She is their teacher. She is the one who guides and leads the group.
Mr. Menuhin: Yes, yes, I know.
Sri Chinmoy: Could they have a group picture with you?
Mr. Menuhin: Yes, yes.
Sri Chinmoy: This morning I was reading that you can do a head balance for 15 minutes. Poor me, I cannot do it for more than even a minute! Prime Minister Nehru wanted to show you that he could do it better. The Prime Minister could not see, perhaps, that you could do it infinitely better.
Mr. Menuhin: Today I don't do it as well as I could when I had my teacher. Now I'm much older, but I still do my headstand.
(Picture is taken.)
Mr. Menuhin: Sri Chinmoy, I am very grateful to you. Thank you for coming. I hope we shall meet many times. Do you go back to India from time to time?
Sri Chinmoy: Occasionally, for a few days. I was brought up in a spiritual community — the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in South India. I spent twenty years there practising yoga and meditation.
Mr. Menuhin: It is extraordinary to find this in the middle of New York City. You must sometimes feel that you are in a crazy civilisation.
Sri Chinmoy: I have accepted it as my own. As I said before, I feel it is my bounden duty to be of service to the hustle and bustle of New York.
Mr. Menuhin: This civilisation must be very grateful to you, even if they don't know it. Thank you so much.
Sri Chinmoy: Again we shall meet. Thank you.
1.19 August 1992
May I join the many who have given their respect, their trust and their admiration so wholeheartedly to a good man, Sri Chinmoy, on this occasion of his 61st birthday.
2.When Sri Chinmoy completed his first one million drawings on the theme of the soul-bird, Yehudi Menuhin sent him the following letter of congratulation:
13th January 1994
Dear Sri Chinmoy,
It is good to know that you, who has such a great following, can bequeath the world so many drawings and sketches.
We have become so addicted to the camera that we have forgotten how the ancient travellers entered their impressions on a note-book, both graphically and verbally.
I congratulate you on this wonderful achievement, which transports us men, who would be winged, to the birds, which we have tried to emulate.
With all good wishes,
Songs dedicated to Yehudi Menuhin
Yehudi Menuhin: The soul-smile and the heart-cryYehudi Menuhin, Yehudi Menuhin, Menuhin!
O soul-smile rare and heart-cry genuine,
You are Heaven and earth's fountain-delight
And music-world's summit-aspiration-height.
— Sri Chinmoy
Unfinished JourneyOur Heaven-brother, Earth-teacher Yehudi Menuhin.
Unfinished Journey's supreme Goal, your Violin within.
Your soul is God's Perfection-Dream-Beauty.
Your heart is God's Fragrance-Joy-Reality.
Pictures — Yehudi Menuhin
Yehudi Menuhin joyfully listens as the choir performs “Yehudi Menuhin: The Soul-Smile and the Heart-Cry.”
Sri Chinmoy shows Mr. Menuhin the song that he had just composed for the maestro that morning.
Yehudi Menuhin warmly expresses his gratitude for Sri Chinmoy’s song-offerings.
Part IV: Kurt Masur
Biographical noteBorn in Brieg, Silesia in 1927, Mr. Masur studied piano, composition and conducting at the Music College of Leipzig. In 1955 he was appointed conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic and in 1958 he became Director of Music at the Mecklenburg State Theatre of Schwerin.
From 1960 to 1964, Mr. Masur was Senior Director of Music at Berlin's Komische Oper. From 1967 to 1972 he was the chief conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic.
Mr. Masur has conducted most of the world's leading orchestras and has been conductor of the New York Philharmonic since 1991, a post that he holds concurrently with that of Musical Director of the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig. He has made more than 100 recordings, including the complete symphonies of Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky performed with the Gewandhaus Orchestra.
In 1989 he played a leading role in the democratic movement that swept through Eastern Europe. In his hometown of Leipzig, he was instrumental in defusing potential confrontations as the old East Germany collapsed and became a symbol of the country's new aspirations.
Meeting with Maestro Kurt Masur19 November 1991
Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Mr. Masur (greeting Sri Chinmoy): I am so honoured to meet you, and I thank you very much for coming here. I have been filled with expectation to meet with you and to know something about your music.
Sri Chinmoy: I am extremely grateful to you. (He presents Mr. Masur with copies of the songs he has written in his honour.)
(A choir of Sri Chinmoy’s students performs the song dedicated to Mr. Masur, with a special arrangement by Sri Chinmoy.)
Mr. Masur: How did you do that? It is breathtaking how well you sing together. You don’t need a conductor; that’s very disturbing. This song is really very, very touching for me. I can’t express my feelings. I just want to learn how you are doing this. Sri Chinmoy, are these all your students, not only in singing, of course, but in meditation?
Sri Chinmoy: We are all sailing in the same boat. They are my students, but we are all learning together. We pray and meditate, and from our prayers and meditations we receive Blessings from Above, from God. We feel that we need God’s Blessings at every moment, in whatever we do.
"I am what I am."Mr. Masur: Yes. You are a philosopher, I know that. I admire you all. When I was a very young boy — I believe I was eleven — I was given a book by my eldest sister about a journey to Lhasa in Tibet. This book inspired me with a love for Asia. My wife is Japanese, as you know. She could not attend now, but I think she will be here very soon. She will be very sad that she is late.
I have always been inspired by the approach of not escaping from our daily life, but of becoming independent of what is outside us, of trying to reach the point where we are happy inside. We do not need somebody between us and God.
Sri Chinmoy: One of your striking utterances which I have set to music is “I am what I am.” We do not have to pretend; we do not have to be somebody else or something else. What you have said is natural and simple: we are what we are. I wish to add that only when we are inside our heart can we remain what we are. Otherwise, if we are in the mind, then we become somebody else, constantly attacked by doubts, fears and so many things. But if we can remain in the heart, we shall be filled with feelings of love, oneness and peace. We will find true inner happiness. We will feel, “I am what I am.” When we are in the heart, we do not have to pretend. We do not have to be somebody else because our inner happiness does not depend on others.
SimplicityMr. Masur: Many people think that simple things are stupid. But a lot of people do not know that intelligence or cleverness can hinder them.
Sri Chinmoy: Most of the time intelligence hinders our progress.
Mr. Masur: I believe the same. The simplification of things does not mean to make them ordinary. On the contrary, it is we who are made wise. This wisdom may be found in India, China and many Asian countries. Unfortunately, Japan went through a dangerous period of being overcome by Western civilisation, of losing the ground under their feet, which they got from India, from Buddhism.
Sri Chinmoy: Anything that is simple is real, and anything that is real is progressive. Water, air and everything that is around us in nature is very simple, but unfortunately what we are doing in our day-to-day life is creating pollution and so many things that are unnatural. In order to exhibit our capacities, we have become unnatural. But if we depend on natural sources, natural things, for example, on our heart, then at every moment we can derive satisfaction, which we are all longing for.
Mr. Masur: What you are saying is wonderful. You make me stronger than I am with these words. When I came here to the United States, I told everybody openly that I cannot be an American in a daily way. I feel in my heart that I love Americans, especially those in New York. At least I love their loneliness. You can feel that around the city. Everybody is longing to meet another person who will listen. This touch gave me the imagination to see that I could live here, and maybe I could help to make life a little bit better than it would be without music.
Sri Chinmoy: Your own personality will make others better. In the last few days there have been a few articles about you in the newspapers. The critics were highly appreciating your recent performances. They spoke of how much dynamism and oneness they feel in the musicians. You have brought about a new life of hope and promise, not only for the musicians who are with you but also for the listeners. Previously the listeners were very restless, and they went a little bit away from outer discipline while they were listening. When you arrived, they began listening with utmost sincerity, one-pointedness and the heart’s depth.
A dreamerMr. Masur: What you have done with your students here is absolutely the same as what I would like to create also on a wider scale while giving support to the musical education of young people. If only the teachers and the politicians realised how much music can do! It gives people the ability to concentrate. It also helps them to keep in touch with their soul and not lose it in the midst of daily life. This is a very, very important function of music. Sometimes it sounds sentimental; sometimes it sounds naive. But I always tell people: I was a dreamer when I was a little boy, I continued as a dreamer, I am still a dreamer, and some of my dreams have come true. I never even dreamt of being the conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and this came true also. So sometimes life is strange.
Sri Chinmoy: God Himself is a dreamer. You have learned how to dream from Him. Our Creator Himself is a dreamer. From His Dream, His universal Dream, He created this universe. We use the term ‘vision,’ but it is actually ‘dream.’ The word ‘dream’ is so sweet and at the same time so illumining and fulfilling. Only he who has a dream can transform it into reality. A dream is like the seed. If we do not have the seed, how can we have a plant and a tree? We sow the dream-seed in our inner being, and eventually this seed will grow into a plant and then a tree.
Only one GodMr. Masur: That’s a wonderful picture. Do you have another God in mind than I do?
Sri Chinmoy: No, there is only one God. You may call Him by a different name. I do not know German; that is why I do not know what you call Him. And perhaps you do not know my mother tongue, Bengali. But we each refer to the same Person, the same Reality, the same Divinity.
Mr. Masur: I am wondering how many priests in the Christian religion really believe in one God? That’s a problem.
Sri Chinmoy: We feel sorry for those who do not believe in one God. Right in front of us is the life-tree with many, many branches, flowers, fruits and leaves. If some people do not want to say that these leaves belong to a particular tree, what can you do? But we are wise people. As soon as we see a leaf, we say that this leaf belongs to a tree; it has a source.
If others find it difficult to go to the source, let them at least appreciate the creations of the source. If they cannot believe in the vast ocean, let them believe in a small swimming pool. Gradually they will learn that the swimming pool has its source, which is the ocean. We are very fortunate that God has blessed us with a direct approach to His vastness, to Infinity.
Mr. Masur: What I really would like is to stay in touch with you all the time I am here in New York. It’s wonderful to talk.
Sri Chinmoy: Thank you. Now could the singers please sing a few more songs?
Mr. Masur: Of course.
Sri Chinmoy: These are your soulful utterances that I have set to music.
(Singers perform the songs to Mr. Masur’s words.)
I enjoy people understandingMr. Masur: I am still embarrassed to hear my name as a type of laureate or as somebody who is greater than others. But when I was listening to these songs, I heard something very simple and it made me happy. Somebody told me just two days ago, “You have to enjoy the fans.” I replied, “I enjoy people understanding what I mean. I don’t enjoy fans.” The reason is that inside I am still the same as I was when I was a boy. I can go on stage and be brave enough to make music. But if I am among people, I am still very shy, and I am not used to being surrounded by crowds of people. I can answer questions because I have learned to face interviews. I am able to open up and tell them what I really think, without hiding something. I learned as a child to overcome that kind of shyness.
When I was young, I wanted to be a pianist or an organist. In that case, I would have been alone with my instrument, with nobody in between. Then I had a difficulty with my finger, on the right hand, and this forced me to make another choice.
I conducted my first symphony concert at the age of 16, quite a late age. I immediately felt: “This is what you should do, what you hope you can do.” And everybody smiled at me because I was so shy and I couldn’t talk to people without saying “excuse me” before expressing myself. Then I discovered that if I wanted to be a conductor, I would have to overcome this fear. But my nature is more withdrawn inside myself.
Sri Chinmoy: The giver and the receiver must go together. Your fans are the receivers. They receive from you what you give, the way we receive from a flower, let us say a rose. A rose has both beauty and fragrance. Somebody comes into the garden to appreciate the beauty and the fragrance of the rose. Just because there is someone to appreciate these things, the rose feels its worth; it feels that it exists to give joy. And, while receiving joy from the rose, that person also feels complete. In your case, when you conduct before thousands of people, their appreciation brings to the fore your own divine qualities which are perhaps still dormant. While they are appreciating the music, they are bringing to the fore more of your inner fragrance. Sometimes we use a wrong term — ‘flatterers.’ Of course, there are flatterers as well. But I am speaking about those who deeply appreciate and admire your good and divine qualities. By appreciating your divine qualities, they bring to the fore and increase their own good qualities.
Let us think of God for a moment. God is infinite Compassion, infinite Love and infinite Forgiveness. When we think of God, immediately we think of these divine qualities of His. When we think of God’s Compassion, Love and Forgiveness, we develop these same qualities in our own day-to-day life. Similarly, when the audience appreciates you and sees the good, divine, illumining and fulfilling qualities in you, they themselves are growing into or achieving those divine qualities.
You are an instrumentMr. Masur: You are right! I know that I do not personally deserve their admiration. The talent that I have was given to me by God and I feel more responsible than proud.
How do you work? How long do you feel everybody needs to get your spirit, to get your point of view on the world they live in? I think this is a fantastic place to teach what you have in mind — here in New York — because there can be no greater danger of losing your identification with your soul than here in this city. Do you feel that?
Sri Chinmoy: Yes. You mentioned just now that you are an instrument, that God has entrusted you with some responsibility. If you can offer your responsibility to God’s Compassion, God’s Light, then He will guide you. He has asked you to do something. At that time, it is natural to pray to God, “You have ordered me to do something. Now please give me the capacity as well.” At that time, God will answer, “If I had not already given you the capacity, I would not have asked you to do it.”
When God asks you to conduct, definitely He has given you the capacity. Sometimes the mind hesitates to believe in God’s Assurance. But the heart, on the strength of its oneness with your inner existence, can feel that you do have the capacity. It knows that this capacity has come from the Source, from God. He who is asking you to do something has already given you the capacity to do it; otherwise, He would not have asked you to do it.
The mother asks her child to carry something. The mother knows that the child has the capacity to carry perhaps two or three pounds. She is not going to ask the child to carry fifty pounds.
"You have no right to destroy my feelings about this performance."Mr. Masur: You remind me of a meeting I had when I was a very young conductor. I was twenty-four years old and I was in an opera house in Leipzig, Germany. As it happens in opera houses sometimes, they had to suddenly change their scheduled performance. At noon I was asked, “Could you conduct Lohengrin by Wagner tonight?” I had never done it before. We had no time for rehearsal. I just had to do it. I told them, “But I don’t know the piece very well.” They said, “Oh, you have five hours before the performance starts. Please do it.” I said, “Okay, I’ll try.”
About the performance itself, I know that we started and ended together! In between, I couldn’t make any adjustment to what happened. Maybe some places were not so bad. After this performance I felt guilty because it really was an insult to Wagner. Just by chance I met one of our oldest leading actors, who was in the audience, and he was so happy. He said, “It was so wonderful! I was glad to hear it and to see you conduct.” Meanwhile, I was still angry with myself. I said to him, “You shouldn’t say these things about such a bad performance.”
What he said to me I have never forgotten. He was very angry with me, and he said, “You have no right to destroy my feelings about this performance. Even though you have conducted it, this is my experience.” He was very wise, and I have never forgotten that lesson.
That's unbelievable, and by heart!(Mrs. Masur arrives.)
Sri Chinmoy: If you do not mind, could the singers sing the original song once more in honour of your wife?
Mr. Masur: Of course, yes, yes, yes. Let us hear it again. I have to say I’m jealous that they are singing without a conductor. (To his wife) Sri Chinmoy teaches not only singing. You can see what he is in his face. (To Sri Chinmoy) You know, my wife gave some lessons in Germany about the influence of Buddhism in music. While preparing her lessons she made German translations of some Buddhist texts. She asked me to help with that so that they could be understood in German. Once she woke me up at three o’clock in the morning to ask me the meaning of a German expression I had used! She is a very strong person.
(The singers perform again.)
Mr. Masur: Bravo! It was even more beautiful than before, much fresher.
Sri Chinmoy: May I tell you something about their singing practices? Three times they met together, just three sessions to practise these songs for you.
Mr. Masur: Only for that?
Sri Chinmoy: About two weeks ago I composed the song. Then I had to go to France, Spain and England. So one day two weeks ago they practised. The day before yesterday, in the morning, they practised, and last night they practised. Collectively the whole group met only three times, and now they are performing for you.
Mr. Masur: That’s unbelievable, and by heart!
Sri Chinmoy: This is absolutely true.
Invitation to the evening concertMr. Masur: Your background musically is in which direction? Of course, religious songs.
Sri Chinmoy: My background is universal oneness, oneness. Our songs are all devotional and spiritual songs. We feel it is through our devotion to God that we can bring forward all our good qualities, accept the world and be good citizens of the world. By singing soulful songs we can bring forward our own good qualities. Of course, there are all kinds of music. Some music destroys the few good qualities that we have.
Mr. Masur: Yes, yes, I agree with you absolutely! What are you doing tonight?
Sri Chinmoy: I am free, as far as I know.
Mr. Masur: (To his assistant) Catherine, could you find out if we would have enough tickets to invite them all for tonight. (To Sri Chinmoy) It is my last concert. You have just spoken about my approach to Mozart. At the end we are doing the Reger Mozart Variations. It’s from the theme of the A Major Piano Sonata; everybody knows the theme, of course.
(Sri Chinmoy presents Mr. Masur with a plaque.)
Mr. Masur: Thank you. This is so beautiful. Did you make this?
Sri Chinmoy: My students made it. They love me, and they try to work together with me. I compose songs, and they bring forward their good qualities in this way. It is all oneness. We try to manifest our oneness.
Mr. Masur: I should be sad that I was born so early. Otherwise, I would attend your meetings.
Sri Chinmoy: In your heart you are as young as they are.
Mr. Masur: You are right, absolutely right. That’s wonderful; thank you very much. I will keep this gift here, in Lincoln Center. It will remind me always of you and your group and this wonderful morning which you have given me. Thank you very much.
I have to study some of your songsSri Chinmoy: Your wife comes from Japan. I would like my students to sing a song I have composed on Japan. They will sing it first in English, and then they will sing in Japanese.
(Singers perform “Japan: A Soulful Flower-Garden”.)
Mr. Masur: Bravo! Bravo! It’s so impressive. You are conducting them with your mind, of course?
Sri Chinmoy: I have only a heart; I have no mind.
Mr. Masur: I know that; that is your secret.
Sri Chinmoy: I come from Bengal, India. My students know hundreds and hundreds of songs in Bengali, but I would like them to sing only one song. This song says, “God, do not allow us to forget You even for a second.”
Mr. Masur: I would appreciate that. Thank you.
(Singers perform “Bhulite diyona prabhu”.)
Mr. Masur: I know why you wanted them to sing this song. It is really outstanding. Even if you don’t understand the words, you understand what it means. Is it your composition also?
Sri Chinmoy: Yes, these songs are all mine. My mother tongue is Bengali, so these students and also my students all over the world know hundreds and hundreds of my songs in Bengali. I have composed a few thousand songs.
Mr. Masur: I have to study some of them. Thank you.
Farewell(Sri Chinmoy presents Mr.Masur with a “Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart” medallion. T. presents a cake with Mr. Masur's picture etched in icing.)
Sri Chinmoy: She is the leader of this singing group.
Mr. Masur: (looking at his portrait): Should we eat him?
Singer: You can actually take the top off; it’s permanent, but underneath it is edible. This was made by one of Sri Chinmoy’s students in San Francisco.
Mr. Masur: San Francisco is one of the cities I like. I’m not ashamed of my sentimentality. I wanted to tell you what really makes me so happy. Normally I find in the United States that if people are sensitive, they begin to be sentimental, but I can see you have no sentimentality at all. I feel if you really believe in God, He must not be above you. He must be inside you, a part of you. When we are sensitive to God’s Presence, it makes us stronger. This is what I feel, and it makes me really very, very glad.
Sri Chinmoy: This is what we believe also. God is within us; He is not above us. He is our Eternity’s Partner; He is our life-long Friend; He is our eternal Companion. Wherever we are, He is with us, in us and for us.
(K presents a gift of a string tie to Mr. Masur.)
Sri Chinmoy: He is our conductor.
Mr. Masur: How can I take all these gifts? Shall I open it? (Opening gift) How did you know what kind of tie I wear? That’s a wonderful gift. Wearing this type of tie is my kind of revolution. If I am asked to come with a black tie, I never have it. Sometimes people do not want to let me in because they think I am an American from Texas, which is not true. I think this string tie was first worn by American Indians, and also by the English. My wife and I bought my first string tie together. The one I have is Indian-Japanese with an elephant on it. We bought it together in Japan at the beginning of our marriage.
We went to Japan because her parents live there. We could have the marriage only with the permission of my wife’s father, and I was unable meet him beforehand. Japanese fathers are very keen to meet the person who is marrying their daughter. It was an outstanding situation. When we were coming to Japan, her grandmother had given her father some of my recordings, saying, “Now you can listen to Mr. Masur. You might know who he is.” This grandmother gave me a nickname which sounds so wonderful. I think it’s out of the children’s language of the Japanese. It is Zoh-san — elephant. For Japanese people I am very big. It’s a wonderful symbol, and they convinced me to use that word.
These gifts are very thoughtful of you.
Sri Chinmoy: With your kind permission we shall leave now. I would like to say ‘thank you’ in our way, in our singing way. Instead of just saying it with words, in a soulful way we wish to thank you for your unimaginable kindness. You have been with us for such a long time. Now we wish to thank you from the very depths of our hearts.
(Singers perform the “Thank You” song.)
Mr. Masur: Before you leave, I would like to have an explanation about what this medallion means.
Sri Chinmoy: The medallion says, “Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart.” You and I and all of us are lifting up the world, the consciousness of the world, with our oneness-hearts of love, joy and peace.
Mr. Masur: And you have taken me into your circle. Thank you very much. I am very touched and very honoured.
Thank you, Sri Chinmoy, and I thank all of you. You are very touching people. I think you have found your happiness, and that’s a most important point: in spite of things happening to you, in the world, in your life, you have found yourself. I understand that Sri Chinmoy helped you to come to this point of happiness, which is the highest degree of Buddhist meaning. I would like to help you, too. Please stay in touch with us. I am sure we will need you sometimes also because we are not always able to overcome everything which confronts us in our life. We need to remember that life is happiness and it should include the happiness of everybody. We all suffer from those people who cannot be happy. But happiness doesn’t depend on the outer gifts, of course, or on the luxurious life or anything like that.
Thank you very much, and we will see you tonight.
(Mr. Masur accompanies Sri Chinmoy down the elevator to the backstage door, where he shakes each singer’s hand as the group leaves.)
Second meeting after the concertThat evening, as the guest of Kurt Masur, Sri Chinmoy and a number of his students attended the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance conducted by Mr. Masur. Mrs. Masur joined Sri Chinmoy in a private box to view the performance, which included Ives-Schuman’s “Variations on America,” Brahms’ “Variations on a Theme of Haydn,” Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” and Reger’s “Variations on a Theme of Mozart”. Later, Sri Chinmoy hosted a special dinner for Mr. and Mrs. Masur at a Chinese restaurant in Manhattan.
GreetingMr. Masur: I am very glad you invited us. Thank you very much.
Sri Chinmoy: Since this morning my students and I have been exploiting your compassion like anything!
Mr. Masur: I wanted to give something back to you, as the composer, as well as to all those who were able to create the arrangement. I believe that if you can live the way that you do, trying to give people peace and harmony, then you are doing a most wonderful job, if you can call it a job.
Singer: When you conduct your music, it becomes very pictorial. It is not only audio but also very visual.
Mr. Masur: I don’t know what I do. I really don’t know. I hate it when I see myself on television. I feel free if there’s nothing around and I am just in myself. This is also, in one sense, a kind of meditation.
I am very happy today. Being understood by some people is a wonderful thing. I’m deeply impressed by our meeting, and I want to thank you very much for being able to come tonight.
Sri Chinmoy: It is such a joy and an honour.
(R plays part of a tape of Sri Chinmoy’s organ performance at the Sydney Opera house.)
Mr. Masur: It is improvised, but it sounds so organised — not “organ”-ised!
(R plays a tape of one of Sri Chinmoy’s piano performances.)
Mr. Masur: When did you start improvising on the piano?
Sri Chinmoy: Three years ago. First I started on the piano, and then I began improvising on the organ.
Mr. Masur: You started on the piano first. It is amazing.
Sri Chinmoy: On other instruments I play the melody of my songs. Here it is spontaneous improvisation.
CriticismMr. Masur: That is interesting. Sri Chinmoy’s music is very simple, and I am happy because of that. His songs are extraordinary. His piano music is very rich and full of imagination.
Sri Chinmoy: Most of the great musicians of the past and present have been mercilessly criticised by their contemporaries. So last year I wrote a booklet in support of them.
Mr. Masur: (laughs): Are you criticised by somebody?
Sri Chinmoy: Every second. (Laughter) But I am not affected because I know I am not the doer. Whoever has played in and through me has to take the blame.
Singer: Everybody has to make their money, so some people make their money by criticising.
Mrs. Masur: At least we can say that nobody is born to be a critic. What does it mean to he a critic? Is one allowed to criticise other people? Does God approve of this?
Sri Chinmoy: Critics are life’s failures. They have failed, and now they have to do something to amuse themselves, so they criticise others. Nobody likes critics. If I am imperfect, which I am, nobody knows my imperfections better than I do. But when somebody criticises me, in no way is that person helping me to perfect my nature.
Critics are those who, when they look at the moon, see only black dots. They do not help mankind at all. But those who see and appreciate the good qualities in others are bringing others’ good qualities to the fore. By appreciating me, you are bringing forward my aspiration to become a better human being and a better citizen of the world and vice versa.
Mr. Masur: That is true.
Sri Chinmoy: When we criticise someone, we are only making ourselves an object of ridicule.
Singer: The problem is that people like to read harsh criticism. People like to read critics who are really snide and nasty. This is what ruins the arts.
Mr. Masur: Why do they want to read this kind of thing? Because they hate people whom they feel are more talented than they themselves are! The critics are also like that. I would allow only somebody who has proven to be my friend to criticise me because I know he sincerely wants to help me. Others’ criticism I am not interested in.
Sri Chinmoy: When I look at a rose, I only want to appreciate its beauty and enjoy its fragrance. But if I look at the rose to see how many thorns it has or how many insects are on it, then I get nothing from the rose. When I use my heart, I want to enjoy the beauty and fragrance of the rose. But when I use my mind, I want to see how many of its petals are in perfect order or how many thorns it has. Then I lose the very purpose I had in looking at the rose.
Each singer, each musician, is like a rose. He is creating something new, and I come to him to appreciate what he has and what he is. I enter into him in order to see and appreciate his creation. But if I come as a critic, I only put up a barrier between him and myself, and I am not able to enjoy his creation at all. So how stupid it is to be a critic!
(To Mrs. Masur) Next year I would like to invite you to sing for us. My students will come from all over the world in April, and I would be extremely grateful if you could sing for us.
Mr. Masur: It would be wonderful because she has experience from many different countries. I told you she grew up as a daughter of an Anglican priest in Tokyo. Then she started to study German literature, but she didn’t like it. Then she went to Rio de Janeiro and then to France to teach children.
While she was studying German literature, she played the violin very well and then she started to study singing in Germany. Later, when I met her, she was working with the orchestra in Rio de Janeiro playing the viola. Now she has a very strong feeling for Spanish music as well as for Portuguese, Brazilian, Japanese and German music because she learned them all. I am always very impressed by how many things she can understand — and she comes from such a different culture.
Singer: She is a universal soul.
Mrs. Masur: I was very lucky to know so many other countries, especially their music. I am very happy and lucky.
(Sri Chinmoy presents a photo album with pictures from the morning’s meeting.)
East and West GermanySri Chinmoy: At various places in East and West Germany, my German students have sung a particular song of mine. May they sing it for you now?
(Singers perform “Long 28 Years,” a song about the Berlin Wall.)
Mr. Masur: Nobody could have imagined this happening! It has been only two years since the Wall came down. Sometimes if people are under pressure, or because they are under pressure, they have very strong ties to each other and they try to help each other. Now that they are open and they are free, unfortunately, some of them cannot survive. They do not know how to handle freedom because very often freedom is challenging. If people are the wrong age, for example, they find it difficult to adjust to this new life. They are really helpless. Many 50-year-olds are unemployed.
I talk so often about the soul, not because I am referring to religion, but because I feel that many people have lost contact with their souls. It is especially true in my country. Freedom is a bit strange; the dream of freedom was different from the reality.
Singer: I was very moved when you said that music can sometimes heal the wounds of the soul.
Mr. Masur: Even if you only sing! When I was a very young boy, I needed music in that way because my family circumstances weren’t so pleasant. If I sat at my piano, I could escape. Music was my world.
That’s still the case. When I make music, everything is okay; I can have another world. If you have a talent or a gift to make other people happy, or if you have the ability in some way to help them — being a doctor, for instance — that is wonderful. But if you have no talent and no opportunity to help others, it is very hard. Very, very often now, with people in the Eastern Bloc, I see that society is being split.
Politics and spiritualitySri Chinmoy: Music unites. We are so happy and so grateful that you gave up politics for music. The universal language, the universal heart, you now possess. Politics only creates confusion; you are caught in it and cannot come out. But music creates only oneness.
Mr. Masur: We had a meeting tonight with the audience, as you know. Some very interesting questions were asked. Somebody asked me if I would like to use music as a political tool. It makes no sense to me. Music is to bring harmony. When Mr. Bush announced the Gulf War, I said at the time that I believe every President who starts a war should apologise because it means he was unable to keep peace. What is your vision about politics in the next century?
Sri Chinmoy: Politics has to surrender to spirituality. Then spirituality will guide and lead politics. Now it is like a blind man trying to lead someone who has very clear vision. People who pray and meditate have clear, good vision, and they are the ones who can lead the blind people. Blind people are those who remain in the mind and all the time doubt and suspect others. People who doubt others will never be able to give joy either to others or to themselves. Today they are doubting others and tomorrow they are hound to doubt themselves. But people who live in the heart are always loving. Today they love God; tomorrow they will love all humanity.
If the spiritual people get the opportunity to guide the mental people, who right now are in politics, then there will be a different kind of politics — a politics of the heart. That is to say, guidance will come from the heart, and there will be no division between people. The heart is expanding all the time, whereas the mind is all the time dividing and dividing. By dividing and conquering we can never get joy. Only by becoming one can we get joy. A boxer defeats another boxer today, only to be defeated by a third boxer in a few months’ time. So where is the joy?
Right now politics is all in the mind. When we are in the mind, we are always trying to show our supremacy: “I am greater than you. I have to be one step higher than you. I have to be one step ahead of you.” But if we are in the heart, then we are all together. “Where you are, I am also. Wherever you are, I am inside your heart and you are inside my heart.”
This is how we find joy — not by becoming a little superior to someone for five seconds and then having our pride smashed by someone else, but by becoming one with others.
Mr. Masur: What will you do tomorrow?
Sri Chinmoy: Tomorrow morning I shall be coming here to Manhattan to meet with the President of Malta. About two hundred students of mine will go to Malta in December. We will be there for two weeks. So tomorrow I have a meeting with the President of Malta.
Mr. Masur: Another important day! Today was only joy.
Singer: Tomorrow is politics.
Sri Chinmoy: But I never discuss politics. It is not my forté, so I do not have to worry. I have met with many, many politicians, but we never discuss politics because I know nothing about it. We only meet to talk about the heart.
Mr. Masur: I think you remind politicians that they may have a soul still.
Sri Chinmoy: Again, some politicians do have light. President Gorbachev, for example, was able to unite East and West Germany and liberate so many countries because he definitely received some light from Above. We are lucky that some very rare politicians have been able to receive light from Above. For that we are grateful.
In everything there is light. Some rooms are fully illumined while others have a little bit of illumination. So with our prayer and meditation we try to bring light into the rooms that are still unlit and not fully illumined.
Mr. Masur: Thank you. I have had a truly wonderful time today. I am so impressed. Thank you very much.
Songs dedicated to Kurt Masur
Kurt Masur: A sleepless self-giver freeO Kurt Masur, Maestro Masur, Maestro!
Your music summit-height measureless metro.
Perfection-flower and compassion-fragrance,
Power-sun, beauty-moon music-semblance.
Sweetness-hope-heart and fulness-promise-eyes.
Your giant orchestra-soul all-where flies.
Germany’s patience-seed, world-wonder-tree;
Within, without, a sleepless self-giver free.
— Sri Chinmoy
Pictures — Kurt Masur
Kurt Masur and Sri Chinmoy silently exchange their hearts’ oneness.
Kurt Masur wears the “Lifting Up the World” medallion presented to him by Sri Chinmoy.
Kurt Masur together with his wife, Tomoko (to his right), and personal assistant (to Sri Chinmoy’s left) pose with Sri Chinmoy and the choir members.