Dubrovnik: SONGS OF THE SOUL Concert 2015

“Songs of the Soul” is the title of an ongoing series of concerts to manifest the music of Sri Chinmoy worldwide. This concert took place in Dubrovnik, Croatia, early 2015. Disciples of Sri Chinmoy performed on various instruments and sang his songs. Included a.o. are Alap and Lukas from Zurich, Mandu and Visuddhi from Wels, the Czeck Angnikana’s Group (see cover picture) and Samita & Bhoiravi, Vienna. Filmed and edited by kedarvideo, Switzerland

Sarod Player Vijay speaks about Music and Meditation

In this 36th episode of the “LIFE-Voices” interview series we present Sarod musician Vijay Shankar Mishra, originally from India, but for many years now in Nepal where he also found his spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy. Vijay speaks about his first contact with music and spirituality and concludes with a Bengali song. Length: 15:50 min; interview: Utpal Marshal and Kedar Misani; camera and edit: Kedar Misani.

Documentary on Record Champion Ashrita Furman

“The Record Breaker” by Brian McGinn tells the life story of Ashrita Furman, the man with the most Guinness World Records of all time. Winner of the Vimeo Audience Award at the 2013 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and Jury Prizes at the 2012 Palm Springs International ShortsFest and the 2013 New Orleans Film Festival, The Record Breaker follows Furman as he trains to set a new record: climbing Machu Picchu on stilts. Thanks to meditation and his teacher Sri Chinmoy Ashrita is transcending himself anew.

New Meditation Center and Vegetarian Restaurant in Zlin

MadalBalZlin

Recently a huge new Meditation Center has been inaugurated in the Czech town of Zlin. Included are rooms for lectures, a Madal Bal Shop, a Gallery with Sri Chinmoy’s artwork and a vegetarian restaurant called “Pranaya”. The building and shops belong to Czech students of Sri Chinmoy. Photos by Ashish Zubaty.

restaurant-zlin

A Day in the Moment of a Modern Zen Monk

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.

Sri Chinmoy answers questions

In this video spiritual teacher and peace advocate Sri Chinmoy speaks extensively during two press conferences in Stockholm and Tokyo. Sri Chinmoy answers questions on many different aspects of the spiritual life, such as the importance of inspiration, joy, oneness and meditation. The press conferences were from the year 1990 (Stockholm) and 1992 (Tokyo). Sri Chinmoy reveals his thoughts on many topics, including heart-power, conquering the mind, delight, consciousness, divine qualities, oneness with the soul. In the Tokyo press conference, Sri Chinmoy talks about the relationship between Japan and Russia, the development of the Japanese society and the achievements of President Gorbachev. Also included are many beautiful close-ups, when he meditated during the translations. Length: 1:23 h. It is the first time that this video is available online. Filmed and edited by Kedar Misani

New statue of Sri Chinmoy in Ipswich, England

ipwsich-statue-sri-chinmoyRecently a statue of Sri Chinmoy holding a Peace Torch was dedicated at Chantery Park, Ipswich, England. The statue was a gift from the Oneness-Home Peace Run, and marked the culmination of a week long Peace Run from Cardiff to Ipswich. Sri Chinmoy visited Ipswich on two occasions, in the the 1980s and 1990s, and the city is a member of the Sri Chinmoy Peace Blossoms programme. Several athletic events have also been offered by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team in Ipswich over the years.

The organiser of the event, Martin Spettigue commented that: “We want to offer something that will inspire people to think more and more about peace and to understand how important peace is to an individual.” The Mayor of Ipswich offered his gratitude to the Peace Run team for kindly offering this symbol of peace and said it would be a great asset to Chantery Park. During the ceremony, the Peace Run offered a ‘Harmony Torch Bearer Award’  to the Reverend Clifford Reed (a poet, artist, and Unitarian Minister for 36 years.) The ‘Harmony Torch Bearer Award’ is a recognition for individuals who have selfless offered a positive contribution to their local communities . The Reverend Clifford Reed was honoured, amongst other achievements, for his sterling work in bringing different religions together. He was a founder member and chairman of the Ipswich interfaith movement.  He is also a leading poet, and writer.

The Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run is an international event which seeks to promote peace and harmony across the world. Since its inception in 1987, it has travelled through many countries and given thousands of people the opportunity to participate in offering a wish for world peace. This year, the British Peace Run, began in Cardiff and travelled across the country through Bristol, Oxford and Cambridge before arriving in Ipswich. The Peace Run started with the Mayor of Cardiff offering a message of goodwill to the other mayors along the way.

Alan Spence: Giving peace a chance

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.

Alan-SpenceWe 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.

1-Statue-of-Sri-Chinmoy-flooded-in-Prague-2-Apaguha-VeselySo 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.”

SOURCE: www.scotsman.com