Sri Chinmoy is a religious leader from the Bengal region of India, whose teachings are eclectic and humanitarian. Like many other teachers who are highly respected in India, where the yogic tradition has flourished, Sri Chinmoy encourages the development of physical abilities, as well as esthetic and social sensitivities. Bengali Hinduism (especially in the Vaishnava tradition) is noted for its emphasis on devotional singing and poetry, for vegetarianism, and for mutial encouragement and support for persons of any caste or community, insofar as their hearts are oriented toward the divine. Sri Chinmoy is a poet and musicial of considerable ability, who is especially devoted to the United Nations.
SRI CHINMOY HAS WRITTEN HUNDREDS of books, painted thousands of paintings, composed thousands of songs, and lifted (with one arm) thousands of pounds. But his most important work is prayer and meditation, which he feels can contribute most to the world and to peace on our planet.
Peace, he says, means "the presence of harmony, love, satisfaction, and oneness" -- "a flood of love in the world family." To help create this inner peace, Sri Chinmoy conducts twice weekly meditations at the United Nations for delegates, staff, and non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives. His U.N. meditations have brought praise from each of the Secretaries-General since the first meditations in 1970.
"When we have inner peace," he says, "automatically it expresses itself. It spreads its qualities or capacities throughout the length and breadth of the world." The same can be said of a nation, which embodies the collective consciousness of its citizens. ..."If a country is really strong, especially with inner strength, peace, and poise, then that country will remain peaceful. We call some countries superpowers, but this is all comparative... therefore they are constantly quarreling and fighting and trying to prove their supremacy."
His meditation group has held annual Peace Walks on the International Day of Peace (the opening day of each General Assembly Regular Session), and has dedicated an island in the East River facing the United Nations as "U Thant Island" (after a former Secretary-General who was a lifelong meditator). The group has held special services to mark important days, such as Human Rights Day, and to honor individuals such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Simon Bolivar, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Sri Chinmoy also meets with and honors senior U.N. officials and diplomats who are actively trying to resolve outer conflicts.
Sri Chinmoy gives dozens of free "peace concerts" each year around the globe; with music and meditation he shares the peace that he has discovered in meditation.
Over one thousand of his students in twenty countries practice meditation and work together to create peace in their own lives and in their environment. His Centres sponsor public service activities. Sri Chinmoy running races range from two-mile to multi-day races and triathlons. The seven Canadian Centres also sponsor yearly Peace Walks. In 1989, the second Oneness-Home Peace Run will begin. The Peace Run will be history's longest running event and will allow peoples in over fifty countries to carry a torch for peace, to bridge cultural and social barriers, and to make a symbolic statement that world peace is developed one step, one person at a time.
THROUGH EXAMPLE, SRI CHINMOY demonstrates self-transcendence. His most recent outer achievements have been in weightlifting. Beginning with a modest forty-pound over-head lift, this 57-year-old man soon began to break his personal records in leaps and bounds. With a three-hour daily training program and with concentration and meditation, he was able to lift hundreds of pounds. Later, Sri Chinmoy said, "Not to give up under any circumstances should be the motto of our life.. . The physical body," he said, "has to become a pure and perfect instrument of spirit. I am doing these lifts with the physical body, but the strength and power are coming from within -- from an inner source."
Sri Chinmoy's program, "Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart" recognizes individuals who excel and who use their remarkable capacities to inspire those around them. During such a program in Toronto last October, Sri Chinmoy honored such distinguished Canadians as Karen Kain, swimmer Vicki Keith, and boxing silver medalist Egerton Marcus. During the program he lifted them up -- literally!
"If we compete only to transcend ourselves," he says, "we will be better citizens of a better world."
Amnesan W. Dorn represents Science for Peace at the U.N.