Feb 01

Faith is the Fabric of Life in Malta

Malta Doorway near the Three Cities Ferry to Valletta

One thing stood out above all in a recent visit to Malta. This island nation is an archipelago of a mere 4 small islands – only 2 of which are inhabited – yet it has more churches than there are days in the year. The churches, cathedrals and basilicas also rival famous ones worldwide.

It boasts some of the largest domes in Europe – Mosta has the third largest unsupported dome in the world and the third largest in Europe. Here in my very own Rhode Island, our state capitol has the 4th largest unsupported marble dome in the world.

In part because Paul shipwrecked here on his way to Rome, the country had some of the earliest Christians in the world and to this day 98 percent of the population is Catholic and living a life embedded with faith, actively attending church and participating in religious feasts, etc.

In this milieu of religiosity, it was especially fitting for the male a cappella choir, Oneness-Dream, to perform a free concert of devotional music in a beautiful church in Valletta – the Basilica of Our Lady Mount-Carmel. Striking to me is the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and baby Jesus with an actual crown.

The choir has performed in churches, temples and other spiritual places around the world since their founding in 2011 and its members are students of Spiritual Teacher Sri Chinmoy. Sri Chinmoy composed thousands of devotional songs and many of the lyrics were originally aphoristic and spiritual poetry that he later set to music. The Malta concert included a number of songs where Sri Chinmoy set Christ’s utterances to music, for instance “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” and “I and my Father are one.”

Here are some excerpts of the concert I captured on the video setting of my camera:

Oneness-Dream in Concert – Valleta, Malta from Sharani Robins on Vimeo.

Mar 20

International Day of Happiness

Today is the third annual International Day of Happiness, first started by the UN and observed on March 20th around the world. I find inspiration for growing happiness in the poems, quotes, prayers and aphorisms of Sri Chinmoy.

Here are a few that provide a spiritual and wise perspective on the subject of happiness.

Be happy, divinely happy.
In your divine happiness
Is your unimaginable progress.
Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 236.

Those who run after happiness
Will never be happy.
Happiness is something
That has to come to the fore
From within.
Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 41.

I do not calculate  Happiness.I only
I do not calculate  Happiness.I only
Offering worship to You,
I am so happy,
My Lord.
I am also happy
Because this happiness of mine
Nobody can steal.
Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 5.

Is always an expansion
Of the heart.
Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 21.

Jan 09

Fifty Freedom-Boats to One Golden Shore

Ten years after his arrival in the West, Sri Chinmoy embarked on a 50 state American lecture tour, giving talks on spirituality at colleges and universities across the U.S. The first state visited by him in this cross-country venture was Rhode Island and the first lecture, entitled Thought Waves, was offered at Manning Hall, Brown University in Providence, RI on January 9, 1974.

Since today is the anniversary of that lecture at Brown University, now forty years later, I went to Manning Hall on the Brown campus after I got home from work.  I sat on the steps of this stately and magnificent building and looked out onto the campus green.

I proceeded to read aloud the lecture given by Sri Chinmoy forty years ago today. School is not in session right now so the environs were calm, quiet and cold! Despite the lack of an audience, I felt it was somehow important to observe this anniversary, itself falling in the start of 2014, the 50th anniversary year of Sri Chinmoy’s arrival in America from India.

As I read out loud in the night air, I tried to imagine what the lecture and meditation might have been like in 1974. At distinct moments I felt as if someone was behind me looking over my shoulder as I read. Entering into a meditative state even as I read, I also wondered if the university itself might be embodied with a soul/spirit that resonated with the deep wisdom expressed in the words I uttered.

I particularly liked the closing words of the talk which drew upon the image of a tree and leaves to express humanity and our interconnectedness. Sri Chinmoy writes,

And in the course of time, in either the near or the distant future, in the process of evolution humanity is bound to accept these messages. What is the essence of these messages? Love, love divine, which is the song of universal oneness. If we silence our thought-waves and listen to our heart-waves, we can spread the love-message of the Supreme. We can offer this love-message to the world at large, and we can sing the song universal to kindle the flame of aspiration in all individuals.

We are now conscious of the supreme Tree. We are climbing up the Tree. Eventually we can grow into the cosmic Tree and then we can watch the multifarious leaves, which are our brothers and sisters, grow and unfold. It is we, the seekers of the ultimate Truth, who can feed the inner hunger of these leaves of the supreme Tree.

Sri Chinmoy, Fifty Freedom-Boats To One Golden Shore, Part 1, Agni Press, 1974

Thought-Waves is now republished in a three volume compilation of university talks given by Sri Chinmoy entitled, The Oneness of the Eastern Heart and the Western Mind. Originally the lecture was published in Fifty Freedom-Boats to One Golden Shore.