This morning the spiritual inspiration of my life, Guru Sri Chinmoy, died at the age of 76. In the coming days there will be many tributes to his remarkable life. I wanted to post some words in tribute. I will offer more in the days to come. Note the official press release.
I was all of 10 years old when Sri Chinmoy arrived here in 1964 with a dream of establishing a worldwide mission of peace and service to humanity. From very humble beginnings, he launched a mission that would personally touch and affect tens of thousands of lives in scores of nations. His life became intertwined with and impacted the lives of world leaders and world luminaries.
To this day, tens of millions know of Sri Chinmoy in some capacity as a spiritual teacher, a musician, a poet, an author, a runner, a philosopher, an artist, a weight lifter. In so many ways he has inspired the world and shown us a peaceful way.
But inspiring people was never enough for Guru. For he was a powerful athletic competitor and spiritual warrior. He always sought to achieve and transcend. I knew him well, but never knew him to be satisfied for long with any achievement. For the instant he reached a goal, a new goal appeared in his Vision and he pursued it.
Whether it was writing 843 poems in 24 hours and having a book published almost instantaneously, running 47 miles for his 48th birthday, lifting 740 lbs on his 74th birthday, lifting 8,000 people in Lifting Up the World, hoisting 100,000 lbs in one evening, to creating millions of colorful birds and paintings, tens of thousands of soulful songs, writing more than 1500 inspirational books and hundreds of thousands of soaring poems, Guru was constantly achieving and transcending.
That was his nourishment. That was his meditation. That was his sleeplessness, wakefulness, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Achieving and transcending. That was his Life. And his life’s work. In fact, Guru achieved more in a week than most people achieve in a lifetime. And he was working harder than ever, working more tirelessly than ever, and serving all of us more soulfully than ever, aiming to reach more seekers than ever – from one corner of the globe to the other.
And remarkably, we can map Sri Chinmoy's achievements back to many influencers who became well known in 1964.
From a prison cell, 30 years later, Nelson Mandela became a cultural icon for freedom, was elected president of South Africa and is today one of Sri Chinmoy's closest friends and admirers. A young, brash boxer Muhammad Ali met and struck up a heartfelt friendship with Guru. And during our journey of the Peace Run, the great Beatle Paul McCartney was among many like Muhammad Ali and others, who carried the Peace Torch.
When Dr. King’s wife Coretta Scott received the Gandhi Peace Award, Sri Chinmoy was a joint recipient. The legendary composer Leonard Bernstein welcomed Sri Chinmoy into his home and heart twice, to be serenaded with incredible choir arrangements and to meditate soulfully and deeply. Bernstein had a profound inner capacity to recognize and acknowledge the abundance of Guru’s creative life and sought to bask in its glow.
And it was Secretary General U Thant who welcomed Sri Chinmoy into the United Nations family where he led weekly peace meditations for decades.
From the Cold War, it was Mikhail Gorbachev who brought democracy to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. I personally remember the day in the mid 80s when Sri Chinmoy told me he saw tremendous light in a young politician named Mikhail Gorbachev. This was way before Gorbachev made a name for himself. Sri Chinmoy was with President Gorbachev in Russia just weeks ago this month inaugurating a hospital named for Raisa Gorbachev. They were dear friends since the 1990's, and during one of their visits, I was also invited to meet Gorbachev.
In 1974, I came to Guru as an enthusiastic, but uneducated boy. I really knew little about spirituality. And whatever I know now is because Guru taught and mentored me, inspired me, pushed me, guided me, and enabled me to feel God. It is my Truth that I have felt God deeply through Guru’s quiet Gaze, sweet Smile, flowing Art, heavenly Music, and dynamic physical endeavors. Whatever contemplative connection to and awareness of divinity I have, is solely by Sri Chinmoy's direct influence.
You know --- we all have so much to celebrate in Sri Chinmoy magnificant life. For could you imagine the great void in our lives without his influence and guidance? Imagine a search for life’s meaning that found no answers. Imagine a yearning for satisfaction that found only frustration. Imagine a journey to achieve that found no goal.
For most people that is their life. But I was blessed. I found Sri Chinmoy who helped me to feel spirit, know God and absorb knowledge of the Ages that helped answer life’s eternal questions:
Why am I here?
What is life all about?
Who is God?
Guru gave me not only theory, but practice. He taught me that to serve is to love. And to love is to become. For me he embodied the Highest Absolute Supreme, And in his life-breath, I felt the experience of God. I felt the Source.
I have often felt that in Cosmic Time all moments occur simultaneously. It is all one cosmic Moment (past, present and future). All happening in the cosmic Now.
So Guru on your passing, may I offer you my soulful Gratitude. The most important moments of my life have been witnessing and participating in the highlights of your life. Today we reflect on your creative abundance, how much you accomplished and the breadth of your luminous and soulful manifestation.
And when the story of your life is written and scholars in the east and the west examine your creative and physical works – the music, art, poetry, philosophy, and the activities of disciples – few will believe it. I was fortunate to live much of it.
The one great thing about Cosmic time for me, is that Sri Chinmoy will always be there in the Cosmic Now, as a divine Beacon -- shining, inspiring and transcending.
And even for those who were not a direct witness to His remarkable life, the beauty of His life’s accomplishments shall forever soar and remain infinite, glowing and transcendent.