Question: The prosperity of our economy has been noticed throughout the world. But the profound spirituality that Japan has may not be so prominent at this stage.

Sri Chinmoy: This material prosperity has come from sleepless efforts. We do not become prosperous unless we make efforts most sincerely. Japan has made sleepless efforts to further its material progress and success. Who asked other countries to remain idle, to talk foolishly or proudly, and not to act?

Japan does not talk; Japan acts. Sleeplessly Japan has been working for material success, material prosperity. If we do not have inner awakening, we cannot make progress in any field, whether it is the material field or the spiritual field. Now the question arises whether Japan is spiritually as well as materially awakened. I wish to say that the answer is definitely yes. Japan’s spirituality and Japan’s material success are going side by side.

A few minutes ago, I said that when I think of Japan, when I look at Japan, I see a flower. What does a flower signify? A flower signifies aspiration. When I look at a flower, immediately my good qualities come to the fore and I try to become a good person. Similarly, as soon as I see Japan, my own aspiration increases.

Now, where does this aspiration come from? It comes from the heart, where there is an inner hunger. This is not only the mind’s hunger to become prosperous, but also the heart’s hunger to love the world and offer to the world the good qualities of the heart. I can sincerely tell you that the spiritual aspect of Japan is also most encouraging and most inspiring.

Yesterday I visited the Lord Buddha’s statue at Kamakura. Except for a few regions, I have visited most of the countries of the world. I have visited many countries that love and adore the Lord Buddha. I come from India and the Lord Buddha came from India, but his message has been spread infinitely more in foreign lands than in his own land of India.

Again, there is no such thing as India or Japan or France or Russia; there is only one home, one world-family. The world is like a house with many rooms. If in one room Lord Buddha is not appreciated, as he rightly deserves to be, but people in other rooms appreciate him, admire him, adore him and love him, then it is quite sufficient.

Now let me come back to my answer. I have been to many parts of the world where the message of Lord Buddha is being followed, adored and fulfilled. But when I stand in front of the statue of Lord Buddha in Kamakura and offer him my soulful obeisance, my prayerful love and adoration, I feel that my life has seen something and achieved something most, most valuable. What Japan is, I am saying from my heart’s inmost conviction. If an individual feels that Japan is spiritual, and if that particular person stands in front of the statue of Lord Buddha at Kamakura, then the entire spirituality of Japan that person has to feel inside the Lord Buddha, the son of Asia, the beloved son of Asia.

It is very easy for human beings to discredit other nations. It is very difficult to appreciate others. One needs a very powerful heart to appreciate the good qualities of others. Just this morning I wrote something on this subject which I would like to read out:

“It is, indeed, a difficult task for some people — including, perhaps, world figures — to appreciate the lofty achievements of other people and other nations. But, to our extreme joy, President Gorbachev has not studied at the same school. Therefore, on April 19th, 1991, while addressing the Japanese Public Committee, his heart most beautifully and hauntingly sang for the soul, for the heart and for the life of Japan. This is his message: ‘Beautiful nature, sakuras in blossom, the combination of the past and the present to the visible breakthrough into the future, friendly people with a strong feeling of self-esteem and respect for others, curiosity and interest in life, the desire to make talents and ambitions a reality — in a word, the Japanese people are a wonderful product of nature and culture. All this is very fascinating and arouses feelings of fond affection. I am glad to have been able to feel the living pulse of the country and to see with my own eyes its achievements, which have rightfully given Japan a place among the leaders in world progress.’”

This kind of appreciation Japan has received from President Gorbachev. In his own way, he is also saying that Japan’s spirituality is being expressed through material success. The inner beauty is being expressed through the outer prosperity. A visitor does not have to go to various places in Japan to see and feel the spirituality of Japan.

If one goes to Kamakura alone, it is enough for him to find the tremendous spirituality of Japan. The vibration that Kamakura gives — not only the statue, but the entire town — embodies spirituality in abundant measure. Kamakura alone can feed the aspiration of any human being with boundless spirituality.

Something else I wish to say on a different subject. We all know that Japan has been making faster than the fastest progress in the material world, in material prosperity. Now, since last year, Japan can claim the faster than the fastest human dynamo: Carl Lewis. Here, in Japan, he broke the world record in the 100-metre race. He became the fastest human dynamo. And I am sure he received tremendous blessings from the soul and from the heart of Japan. He became the fastest human being here in the country that runs the fastest in achieving material success and prosperity. So this is a very, very happy experience both for Carl Lewis and for the soul and heart of Japan. I am deeply honoured that he gave me the shoes that he wore in that race.