Question: What does the Pope represent to you personally? You have met with Pope Paul VI. Did you have any significant inner experiences? What did you talk about?

Sri Chinmoy: To me, the Pope is a supreme leader of humanity. He is the elder brother of awakened and unawakened mankind. He is the representative of the Saviour Christ on earth. In my first meeting with Pope Paul VI, I told him that I saw in him “the most benevolent Father of the Catholic world, the Master-leader of the Christian world and the Champion-lover of humanity”. This is in essence what the role of the Pope represents to me.

I was fortunate and blessed to be able to meet with Pope Paul VI three times. Each time I met with him, I had significant inner experiences. When I looked at his eyes, I saw an illumination-sky, and when I entered into his heart, I felt a compassion-ocean. It is very rare to find an illumined mind and a compassionate heart together, but in one frame Pope Paul VI definitely embodied both compassion and illumination in boundless measure. I also discovered in him a soul’s smile which was truly psychic, yet touched with a subtle sadness. He had the capacity to quickly penetrate the human heart and dispel the sufferings of human life.

I remember so vividly the first time I met with His Holiness in a private audience. At one point he said, “This meeting of ours has been most essential.” He also told me, “I admire your philosophy — the Hindu life and the Christian life shall go together. Your message and my message are the same.” Later, I was deeply moved when the Pope said, “When we leave this world, you and I will meet together.” And the Holy Father was all kindness in presenting me with the Papal medallion.

The second time we met, I was fortunate enough to be in the front row when the Pope was holding a public audience. He was not physically well and had to be carried on a chair to the podium. After his talk, he came over to me, and again he was extremely compassionate. He told me that he had read and enjoyed the books that I had given him during our first meeting, and he appreciated my activities and selfless service at the United Nations. As you know, I have been leading meditations for delegates and staff there since 1970. The pope told me, “I am truly proud of your service to the United Nations. You are an Indian. I am also proud of your country.”

The third time we met, His Holiness granted me another private audience. This time I presented him with a book I had written about him, and he was very happy and pleased with it. When he looked through the book and saw the picture of U Thant and myself, he asked if I bring down new inspiration and aspiration from above when I conduct meditations at the United Nations. I answered, “Holy Father, I do try to bring down all the divine qualities with my prayers and meditations.” Again, he was full of kindness and compassion.