Meeting with Deputy Mayor Remy of Los Angeles1
Deputy Mayor: I apologize for being out. I read that you are an expert in the world of meditation. I had the discomfort of being with an elected official 10 minutes ago, who gave a half an hour speech. I couldn’t get away. It’s nice of you to come to visit our city.
Sri Chinmoy: It is very kind of you to present me with this key. Los Angeles is a foremost city, one of the most famous places in the world.
Deputy Mayor: Thank you. We appreciate your coming to visit our city. We’re very proud of it as a city. We have a diverse culture and a diverse population. I myself am a third generation San Franciscan, as opposed to Los Angeles. I marvel at the fact that our city has the largest population of people of Hispanic, Mexican-American background in any city outside of Mexico. We have the largest Jewish population in this city, except for New York. Also a very large Asian population, including Japanese. Virtually every part of the world has added to the strength of our city.
Sri Chinmoy: It has a cosmopolitan view and a very large heart. It can accommodate all souls, all personalities.
Deputy Mayor: We need all the help we can get. This diversity has characterised the uniqueness of the city. It has a relatively small Black population. As major cities go, our city is only about 16 or 17 percent Black. Yet we have a Black mayor, and there are three Black members of our City Council. We like to think that our community elects people because of their skills rather than their racial, social or ethnic background.
A major issue, as you may know, has been our attempt to integrate our school system. Various and good people in all parts of our community were required in that process. Moving children from one school to a separate segment or separate part of our city in order to upgrade their education is very difficult socially and economically. We have at least been able to do that without violence.
Sri Chinmoy: You have succeeded in doing so? You have already succeeded?
Deputy Mayor: No, I don’t think I could say that. I think our city has succeeded in dealing with a very difficult social issue without community violence. There still is great resistance amongst the people, particularly amongst the white population: fear about the quality of education, fear about the safety of their children. But at least we have been able to deal with this in honest, open debate — through the judicial structure, as opposed to dealing with it in the streets. I know the mayor feels really proud of the city. That’s good. If we could only clean up our air and make the air a little more breathable! And if we could improve our transportation system and provide more job opportunities for people who want to work then we will have achieved an awful lot.
Sri Chinmoy: It will definitely happen in the course of time.
Deputy Mayor: You’re involved in the United Nations. How does that work?
Sri Chinmoy: It works very peacefully and soulfully. I pray and meditate, and quite a few significant people — delegates, diplomats and visitors — come to pray and meditate with us. They feel the necessity of the inner life. The political world, as it stands now, is constantly quarreling and fighting. Peace of mind is badly needed in the outer life. So they come and meditate for about half an hour or so. Then they feel a kind of inner peace.
Deputy Mayor: Very essential, very essential. Sometimes I criticise myself for not spending more time on that sort of thing. But so many things go on in a day that one doesn’t stop and think through what the day should be.
Sri Chinmoy: We believe that if we can pray and meditate in the morning, then the rest of the day will be prayerful and meditative. But if the morning is not soulful, then the rest of the day will have a very hectic vibration and we may not get peace of mind at all. It is like saving money. When we meditate in the morning we acquire spiritual wealth. Then, when the necessity demands, during our multifarious activities we can draw on our spiritual wealth. If we have enough spiritual money saved, then easily we can deal with our problems.
Deputy Mayor: I suspect it’s nice to have a spiritual bank account to draw upon from time to time. But I suspect that our country doesn’t save too much of that kind of money.
Sri Chinmoy: I have been here for fourteen years, and I feel that most people do pray and meditate. There is a soulful inner cry in America. There is an inner cry for justice, for truth. This Watergate incident has really helped America considerably. I feel that the standard of America has gone much higher now and the world has seen something unique in America.
Deputy Mayor: Watergate presents many contrasts for our country. It presented a view of some things that could have been very, very wrong. One of the lasting contributions of Watergate could be that the system of justice is very important in our country. It is strength that our country will always have.
VSC 12. On 2 October 1978, Sri Chinmoy met with Deputy Mayor Ray Remy of Los Angeles. This is a transcript of their meeting.↩