The Secret Life of Water takes viewers on a visual sound-scaped journey with Masaru Emoto’s Messages from Water. This guided meditation is purposed to raise the conscious awareness of water.
Zen’s ancient teachings seem a mystery to many. But actually, Zen is very simple: Zen means attaining my true self — “What am I?” In this revolutionary film by acclaimed filmmaker Christine Schmitthenner, we see a Western Zen monk in his daily activities in the world: chanting, meditating, preparing breakfast, riding public transport, meeting with friends, even shaving his head — from moment to moment, not attached to conceptual thinking, everything is Zen, which just means everything is “moment.” The subject of this unusual film, Hyon Gak Sunim, allowed filmmakers to follow his daily living and teaching activities for a week as he met with students and organized his daily activities. Sunim is widely recognized as one of the most influential Zen monks in modern Korean Buddhist history, a graduate of Yale and Harvard who entered the monastic life in 1992 and has done over 20 years of intensive Zen training in the ancient Zen temples of Korea. His enlightenment was certified (“inka”) in a public ceremony in 2001 by his teacher, the legendary Zen Master Seung Sahn (1927-2004). Now based in the West, he wanders the world, teaching wherever invited.
The world has been marching to war, Sri Chinmoy has been running for peace… those words were spoken at the funeral of the spiritual giant in 2007. Six years later Chinmoy’s defiant message of hope lives on.
We all live and move in our own worlds, our own circles, circumscribed by work, family, friends, the choices we make. But we also live in the wider world, affected by great forces of change – social and political upheaval, the vagaries of climate, the state of the planet. And from time to time something in our own smaller world makes the news, or something out there impinges on us or resonates powerfully.
A few weeks ago, I switched on the TV and tuned in to Channel 4 News. The main story was about the sudden floods affecting Europe. Jon Snow was talking about the damage caused, the lives lost, and film footage appeared behind him. One image in particular stayed on screen for some time. It showed a statue on the banks of the Vitava River in Prague.
The flood waters had risen, flowing round the statue, almost engulfing it, but not quite. What remained visible was the top of the statue, a powerful Buddha-like head above broad shoulders, hands folded in prayer, cleaving the waters. The image was intensely dramatic, visually stunning. It moved me deeply for reasons that were entirely personal. The statue was of my teacher, my Guru, Sri Chinmoy, who passed away in 2007. I knew him for almost 40 years, as mentor, guide, friend, but he had a role to play out there on the world stage.
When I first met Sri Chinmoy
I first met Sri Chinmoy on a cold December night in 1970. He was giving a lecture in Glasgow University’s Catholic Chaplaincy, and I was profoundly impressed, as much by his being, his presence, his sheer poise, as by what he had to say. (At one point, I recall, he chanted a Sanskrit mantra, then stood for a moment in silence, in his Indian robes, hands folded in front of him, in the exact same attitude portrayed, decades later, in that sculpture in Prague). This was someone who didn’t just talk about spiritual truths, he lived them and embodied them. The peace and light he radiated were palpable.
I discovered he’d been born in what was then Bengal, and in the mid-1960s had moved to New York where he held regular peace meditations at the UN. This was an early indication of that wider role he was to play in those 40 years. Throughout that time I looked on in awe as he pushed himself ever harder, finding new, imaginative ways to communicate, to inspire.
I knew him first as a philosopher, a spiritual teacher who also expressed himself eloquently through poetry and song. Later he immersed himself in drawing and painting, producing thousands of pictures, vibrant with color, executed with a vigorous, gestural energy, but often too with a rare delicacy, especially in his depiction of birds – glorious, soaring, joyful.
He did everything with gusto, and brio, and on a grand scale. The late Leonard Bernstein once described him as ‘the very model of abundance in the creative life’ and in this he epitomised his own philosophy of ‘self-transcendence’ – pushing his own limits and inspiring others to do the same. This carried over into the world of athletics. He himself was a keen athlete – a decathlon champion in his youth, a marathon runner in later life. He emphasised the importance of a dynamic approach to living, nurturing body and soul. Countless athletic events have been organised in his name worldwide (including the perennially popular Wednesday night races throughout the summer months at the Meadows in Edinburgh, on a course designated a Sri Chinmoy Peace Mile).
He was the inspiration behind the Oneness-Home Peace Run, a great global relay which has linked many thousands of people worldwide in a spirit of harmony and solidarity.
When his own running was curtailed, in what seemed a surprising development he took up weightlifting, again pushing his limits, as he put it, ‘challenging impossibility’ and tapping in to a source of strength deep within, as if matter itself were bending to consciousness, to spiritual will.
Over the decades, Sri Chinmoy traveled widely, lecturing and giving what he called peace concerts, singing and playing his own devotional music, often to audiences numbering thousands. After one memorable concert in Paris, a reviewer wrote about how astonishing it was to see one man simply stand with folded hands and impose silence on the vast crowd in the auditorium. The music grew out of that silence. The silence nurtured and sustained the music. (Again the image is the same – the folded hands, the power of peace).
The message of peace, inner and outer, was always at the heart of Sri Chinmoy’s teaching. Imagining a world ‘flooded’ with peace, he wrote, ‘Who is going to bring about this radical change? It will be you, you and your brothers and sisters.’ His work for peace brought him into contact with some of the great peacemakers of our age. Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Mikhail Gorbachev all expressed their admiration and respect.
He was deeply honoured when significant sites around the world were dedicated to peace in his name, as ‘Sri Chinmoy Peace Blossoms.’ These included, in Scotland, the Forth Bridge, the Isle of Skye, and the City of Edinburgh. Finally Scotland itself was dedicated as a Sri Chinmoy Peace Nation, in a declaration signed, with a flourish, by the late Donald Dewar in 1999. Sri Chinmoy wrote a song about Scotland, celebrating the country’s qualities. The key words were invention, action and discovery, as always looking at the positives (perhaps no bad thing as we move towards next year’s referendum).
On his last visit to Scotland, in 2005, he held a ceremony at Edinburgh University, in his turn honoring men and women who had contributed greatly to the life and culture of this nation. In a unique extension of his weightlifting activities, and giving a new meaning to the words ‘spiritually uplifting’ he literally lifted each of them above his head on a specially designed platform. Among those he lifted that day were artist Calum Colvin, poets Tom Leonard and Valerie Gillies, and Iain Torrance, then Moderator of the General Assembly. It’s an occasion none of them is likely to forget, and Professor Torrance spoke eloquently about the unusual nature of the ceremony, and how important it was to find new ways of communicating the timeless truths.
So that’s something of the background, explaining just a little about why that news footage of the statue in Prague affected me so deeply. I’m immensely grateful to have known this spiritual giant, for my life to have been touched and enriched by him. But beyond the personal, the image itself seemed iconic, symbolic. The figure stands, hands folded in supplication, invoking something higher, the highest and best in ourselves. It’s profoundly human, and at the same time transcendent.
At Sri Chinmoy’s funeral in 2007, US Congressman Gary Ackerman spoke movingly about the man and his work. “The world has been marching to war,” he said. “Sri Chinmoy has been running for peace.”
Swimming against the tide
He also made the point that Sri Chinmoy had always had to “swim against the tide.” In an age of ugly materialism and greed, he championed the life of the spirit, a philosophy of oneness and inclusiveness. At his last, informal meeting with so few of his followers, he had spoken of the power of hope in our lives. Let us not underestimate the power of hope. No matter how fleeting its life, it offers to us the most convincing and fulfilling power. And perhaps that’s why this image itself, of the statue in Prague, is so powerful. In the face of everything, the floodwaters rising, we hold on to hope, we keep our heads above water, we go on.
As it happens, another similar statue is being installed tomorrow in a Peace park in Ipswich (where Sri Chinmoy once meditated, and where regular races are held in his name). I’ll be giving a short talk at the dedication ceremony, as I did a year ago when another statue was unveiled on the waterfront in Cardiff. The statues are the work of sculptor Kaivalya Torpie from London, himself a lifelong devotee of Sri Chinmoy. (That’s what gives him the insight, the empathy to be able to capture something of the inwardness, the power of the subject matter).
Returning to the statue in Prague, there’s a song Sri Chinmoy wrote, in his native Bengali. His own English translation begins, “The wave subsides and the wave rises. And it ends, Everything eventually blossoms.”
“These sweet gems of wisdom by my dear friend Sri Chinmoyare timeless truths full of encouragement, love and goodness.”– Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Since the opening of the new vegan Restaurant AMAZING STRENGTH at the Müllerstrasse in Zurich (not far from the main station) I was fascinated and attracted by the enterprise owned by the Soyana company, a very dynamic production place for organic tofu and related products. It all started with a Vegelateria, the first Swiss ice cream shop serving ice cream with natural and organic ingredients, not using milk products and white sugar, end of of January of this year. In the meantime the next step could be reached in offering 25 seats in the restaurant adjunct to the Vegelateria. And yesterday the third in a series of exhibitions and events opened: color panels with quotes by Sri Chinmoy on happiness.
The book in connection with the exhibition is called “The Jewels of Happiness”. Author, creative artist and renowned peace visionary Sri Chinmoy offers timeless wisdom and simple exercises for readers of all backgrounds. The complete audio book was released on March 12th with a launch on March 19th in New York City. Luminaries from all walks of life reach read a chapter from The Jewels of Happiness – including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Addwitiya Roberta Flack, Narada Michael Walden and Sudhahota Carl Lewis! Perfectly suited to our fast-paced lifestyles, The Jewels of Happiness includes short, insightful sections full of uplifting wisdom, charming aphorisms and easy to learn exercises. Each section stands on its own-with the entire book forming a tapestry of inspiration. “You can have the most joy just by imagining a child infinitely more beautiful than any child that you have seen in this world,” writes Sri Chinmoy. “You have inside you a child who is infinitely more beautiful. Just imagine it. While imagining it, you will get utmost joy.” Each of the 13 chapters in The Jewels of Happiness is on a different theme, such as peace, joy, patience, enthusiasm, sincerity, love, self-giving, humility, compassion, self-trascendence, simplicity and forgiveness.
At the opening of the exhibition there was also a screening of the film “happy” by Roko Belic. The movie takes us on a journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata in search of what really makes people happy. Combining real life stories of people from around the world and powerful interviews with the leading scientists in happiness research, the film explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion.
Viewers’ Comments: “Happy is one of those movies that will make you a better person for having seen it! An excellent, thought provoking movie that will grab your attention and your heart. This should be required viewing for everyone… There is a well done piece also about what doesn’t make kid’s happy. A great movie that will warm your heart, stir your soul and hopefully make you think about a practical application in your own life.”
“Amazing. This film will make you happy! What an amazing feeling I had after watching this film. Film may not be the correct term in describing this passion project of genius, Roko Belic… I think the word experience is apt. Funded and executive produced by comedy directing legend Tom Shadyac (Ace Ventura, Evan Almighty), Mr. Belic takes us around the globe in a search for what it means to be happy…and we find it! It is hard to put into words what he has accomplished in this riveting and eye-opening documentary, but we see and feel that true happiness is pretty easy to attain. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor.”
Brook Forest Voices (BFV) audiobook producer and publisher has signed an agreement with Heart-Light to download distribution of Sri Chinmoy’s inspirational “The Jewels of Happiness: Inspiration and Wisdom to Guide Your Life-Journey.” “The Jewels of Happiness” is an audiobook containing poems and prose by peace leader Sri Chinmoy. A video message delivered by Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated, “These sweet gems of wisdom by my dear friend Sri Chinmoy are timeless truths full of encouragement, love and goodness.” The audiobook was released March 19 at the United Nations headquarters in New York on the eve of the first UN International Day of Happiness and contains chapters read by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, singer Roberta Flack, Olympic champion Carl Lewis, musician Michael Walden, actress Judith Light and Musician Boris Grebenshikov.
BFV President Diana Andrade points out, “Brook Forest Voices corporate motto is taken from a native American saying, ‘It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story’, so it’s a bit of kismet that we’ve been chosen as the distribution partner for this wonderful book narrated by so many influential people. We are thrilled.” “The Jewels of Happiness” is now be available from Brook Forest Voices and their distribution channels as an audio download. A portion of the proceeds will go to charities for children worldwide: Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Philani Nutrition and Development Project in South Africa and Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.
Brook Forest Voices is a complete audio production studio located just west of Denver in Evergreen, CO, specializing in audiobook narration, production and publishing. BFV is designed to help large and small publishers, as well as authors, with all their audio needs. Publishers and authors wanting to learn more can visit http://www.brookforestvoices.com.
The Jewels of Happiness is a book by Sri Chinmoy, full of inspiring wisdom and sayings to help us lead a better life. Recently, several distinguished public figures have read different chapters for a new audio book. In this video, Desmond Tutu offers an enthusiastic and warm introduction to the book and how it can help us all in our journey of personal transformation. As Desmond Tutu says:
“…The Jewels of happiness will inspire you to become who you truly are – a shining child in God’s big family. In sweet and heartfelt words, Sri Chinmoy tells us that we are made for togetherness for fellowship, for oneness and for peace. These chapters fill us with indomitable hope and enthusiasm for life…”
In this episode of LIFE Voices, Prachar Stegeman from Canberra, Australia shares his thoughts on spirituality, music and meditation. Prachar is a meditation student of Sri Chinmoy and helps to organise a range of sporting events in Australia and the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run. The episode is entitled ‘A Deeper Sense of Peace’ and Prachar explains how he became interested in meditation to help his work as a concert pianist. Prachar also talks about how studying meditation under Sri Chinmoy opened up a whole range of new possibilities from singing to sport. Length: 18:34 min. Produced by Kedar Misani, kedarvideo Switzerland.
Ac Tah, of the Mayan people, gave a talk in Santa Monica last month. In this exert he speaks about what is happening around December 21st 2012 and it’s significance to the world. His heritage is authentic.
The 2012 Spiritual Planetary Summit (December 18-23) in Yucatan, Mexico, is the celebration of the closure of the Long Mayan Count, and with this, the end of a cycle where the learning was held by the means of fear and its effects: sorrow, disease and death. It is the end of a long learning of humanity’s soul. It is the celebration of the beginning of a New Planetary Time, where the learning through love shall emerge, and with this, freedom, plenitude, regeneration and life. During the Winter Solstice of 2012, key date of Mayan Wisdom, where the perfect galactic alignment projected powerful rays of christic golden light, transforming rays that penetrate the Planet Earth in order to elevate its vibrational frequency and impulse this humanity and the whole planet into a New Spiral in Time/Space.
The organizers are motivated to generate an authentic spiritual space, where different lines, traditions, schools or leaders of diverse spiritual sides of the world will converge. All within a respectful, loving and integrative coexistence. They wish to contribute with the creation of a more harmonic world, with the instauration of a culture of peace that allows us all to experience the joy of living. We are driven by the creation of a New Humanity, in a better connection with its spiritual essence; in order to inaugurate a New Planetary Time, the Golden Ages.The Spiritual Planetary Summit has the mission of generating an encounter of soaring Spiritual Level in order to generate a vortex of authentic light able to expand the transforming energy of the New Planetary Times. The purpose is of shaping an event of marvelous ecumenical and universal spirituality, on the sacred space where Ancient Maya, in the predestined times to open the gates into a New Age, the Golden Time of Humanity.
In the Spiritual Planetary Summit, a great energy which does emerge a powerful vibrational field where all the participants were to be connected with their divine essence and be capable of absorbing the waves of galactic shines that are currently reaching the Earth. And thereby, we all together achieve to generate a sacred space where the divine light can be present and, from this center, expand it towards every corner of the Earth. The 21st December Ceremony to be held in Uxmal, Yucatan will be performed during the winter solstice with the purpose of being in a mystic synchronization with the mighty galactic rays that enter primarily through the pyramid of AK-HE-NAH-TÚN: spot of maximum injection of galactic energy for Planet Earth. The objectives of the Conference are:
* Setting up the codes of the New Time.
* Creating a powerful space of genuine transformation.
* Bringing the spiritual values to maintain a Consciousness of Unity.
And finally elevating the spiritual consciousness of humanity in order for every human being to be tuned in with its self-Divine Essence and to experience life with harmony, happiness, sake and peace. Within a new respectful peaceful coexistence. This, without any doubt, would take human experience into an upper sphere of existence, where LIFE is a sublime space of harmonic creation and recreation. More info and registration: 2012spiritualplanetarysummit.com.