Jul 29

London 2012 Olympics- Can Sport Be Spiritually Significant?

In between the parachute jumps, fireworks and flying Mary Poppins in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics , I began to contemplate some of the deeper meaning of the Olympics as I watched the parade of nations. I thought about how the world comes together in an inspiring and nonpolitical way every four years through the Olympic Games.

While it is easily evident that the Olympics offers a rich harvest of inspiration for athletes everywhere who strive to push the limits of their capacity, can there also be a spiritual perspective on sport and the Olympics?

One person uniquely positioned to explore this idea is the athlete, spiritual visionary and marathon team founder Sri Chinmoy. In his lifetime, he wrote extensively on the subject of spirituality and sports. His most recent book delving into this topic is The Inner Meaning of Sport published in 2007 by Agni Press.

What does Sri Chinmoy say about the Olympics and sporting games?

The Olympics are an unprecedented, auspicious, glorious and precious Greece-vision. And what is this vision? This vision is nothing other than world-happiness. Happiness is love bubbling forth into the newness and fulness of true life, illumining life and fulfilling life.
The Olympics tower above all man-made differences. They are infinitely bigger than race. They are eternally brighter than colour. They are supremely better than religion. They are not only constantly one with the evolution-hunger of aspiring mankind but are also humanity’s satisfaction-meal and perfection-nourishment
Sri Chinmoy, The Outer Running And The Inner Running, Agni Press, 1974.

 

The presence of all the great athletes at the Olympics represents a great opportunity. When an athlete has to compete with the rest of the world, there is every opportunity and possibility that he will transcend his own capacities.
Sri Chinmoy, The Outer Running And The Inner Running, Agni Press, 1974.

 

From the spiritual point of view, there are many things we can learn from games. One is fellow feeling…Why do we watch sports? The world needs inspiration and enthusiasm. You play volleyball extremely well, and I am inspired by it. Then I go and play tennis. You have given me the inspiration, and I go and play some other game. But you gave me the joy, you gave me the inspiration, you gave me the courage. Like that, each person can get inspiration from another person to do better in their own respective fields.
Sri Chinmoy, Run And Smile, Smile And Run, Agni Press, 2000.

These quotations explore several themes:
- the Olympics bring the world together as one human family
- the Olympics inspire athletes to transcend their limits, challenging limitation and impossibility
- Sports and games foster enthusiasm and the inspiration to excel in all walks of life

I hope watching the London 2012 Olympics and reading about the games bubbles over into my own life with a wellspring of creativity and sporting ventures that fuel positivity and happiness in all my activities this summer.

Jul 15

Philadelphia Christ Church Concert

On July 1, 2012 – the Sunday before the July 4th holiday, a unique concert was held in historic Christ Church in Philadelphia. This church located in the Old City section of Philadelphia was founded in 1695 and is a National Historic Landmark. It is the birthplace of the American Episcopal Church and many founding fathers and patriots worshipped here. 15 signers of the Declaration of Independence attended this church and Benjamin Franklin and 4 other signers of the Declaration are buried in the Christ Church Burial Ground. There are brass pew markers showing where George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and others sat.

At The Sacred Fire Concert held in the altar area of the Christ Church on July 1, 2012, an ensemble of singers and musicians called Sri Chinmoy Sacred Fire Singers performed songs and recitations centered on the theme of the ideals of the American founding fathers, patriotism and a spiritual interpretation of central moments in American history. The music and writings featured in The Sacred Fire concert flowed from the pen of Indian born spiritual leader and humanitarian Sri Chinmoy.

Based in New York for more than half his life, Sri Chinmoy valued the ideals of American freedom and held a special fondness for Philadelphia. He composed a song about Philadelphia in 1970 and in a play about America that he wrote in 1975 called The Sacred Fire, he portrays the song about Philadelphia as a gift from the “World Soul” to William Penn and Benjamin Franklin.

Philadelphia, Philadelphia,
Philadelphia, Philadelphia!
O sweet city of brotherly love,
O God-Perfection below, above.
Philadelphia, Philadelphia,
Philadelphia, Philadelphia!
Your world-attention Liberty Bell
Proclaimed the death of our bondage-hell,
O freedom lovers’ Utopia.”
– Sri Chinmoy, 1970

For a more detailed look at Sri Chinmoy’s writings related to America, a book entitled America the Beautiful was published in 2010 by Illumine Press. The audio version of the book is narrated by Richard Dreyfuss. The U.S. section of the International Sri Chinmoy Centres also offers in-depth information about Sri Chinmoy’s views on America.

Source: Radio Sri Chinmoy

Click above to listen to a beautiful arrangement by piano teacher Archee Moffitt of a song about Philadelphia composed by Sri Chinmoy. The sweetness and clarion call of this song (which was performed at the concert) offers a glimpse of the soul-stirring inspiration that this concert contained in full measure.

May 05

Super Moon – Spiritual Symbolism

One time I sat down in a lawn chair in my front yard to watch the moon rise. If the skies are clear tonight (unlikely if as cloudy as it is right now), I should do the same again for the biggest full moon of 2012 – called a perigee moon or supermoon.

The moon will be full and closest to the Earth at about 11:35 pm EDT but the moon always looks bigger when it is first rising than when it is overhead, an optical illusion that scientists don’t precisely understand. On the East Coast where I live, moon rise will be at about 7:46 pm.

This year’s perigee moon has been much abuzz in the media – it was even part of the news broadcast on WBSM talk radio out of New Bedford, MA that I listened to while driving to work this morning.

My meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy employed imagery of the moon in his poetry and prose quite frequently. The Jharna-Kala Card Company published a small gift book in 1995 called Sun, Moon, Stars with poems by Sri Chinmoy. One moon poem from the book is especially perfect for today’s super moon.

May my heart
every day
dance with
the rising moon.
-Sri Chinmoy

Sri Chinmoy also offered insight into the symbolism of the moon from a spiritual point of view in a talk he gave at Cornell University on Concentration, Meditation and Contemplation. About the moon, he states:

And before we contemplate, we should in silence imagine the moon, the beauty of the moon, which is the emblem, here on the earth, of the Absolute Supreme. The beauty of the moon represents the Consciousness of the Divine Mother. The Mother aspect of the Supreme Beloved is embodied by the moon. So if we imagine the moon, then the beauty, delight, sweetness, nearness and closeness of the Absolute Supreme we feel operating in and through us.

Sri Chinmoy, Palmistry, Reincarnation And The Dream State, Agni Press, 1977

I am always fascinated by Sri Chinmoy’s perspective on the inner meaning of the world around us. To read more on the moon from his writings, just search the online library of his writings and type in the word moon in the search box.

To learn more about the scientific details about the perigee moon, read this article from Earthsky.org.

And to read other blog posts about the moon by me - more moon musings

Apr 27

Happy 25th Anniversary – Peace Run/World Harmony Run

25 years ago today the first ever Peace Run kicked off in New York City with live coverage on the NBC Today Show on television.

In a book about the run’s history, Shambhu Neil Vineberg, the Peace Run’s then executive director shares:

Grammy Award-winning record producer Narada Michael Walden composed a theme song, “Oneness-Home Peace Run,” that captured the spirit of the initiative and was featured on TV broadcasts about the Peace Run. By opening day, word about the Run had spread far and wide. We had strong support from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the UN Secretary-General, celebrities Carl Lewis, Clarence Clemons and Narada Michael Walden, and thousands of elected officials who had welcomed Sri Chinmoy’s vision for the Run. That year runners covered 27,000 miles in 44 nations. We were featured in a nationally broadcast PBS-TV special in the US, on a one-hour MTV special, and in countless newspaper articles.

I shared in the American portion of the run that inaugural year in two ways. I flew out to join the American core team running a relay across all 50 states when it went from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Durango, Colorado. I have awesome memories of that experience – running through beautiful locations – seeing a rainbow as soon as we got to the Grand Canyon – early morning meditations at Monument Valley, sleeping in a teepee at a campground, running with the mountains in the distance in Colorado…

Then when the core team passed through Boston, I was there for all the festivities and ceremonies as well.

Happy Birthday Peace Run and World Harmony Run (its new name from 2005 to date)! 25 years later and still going strong!  Learn about Harmony Run events in progress now all across the globe at Worldharmonyrun.org.

 

Jan 29

The Golden Boat

Most mornings after I finish meditating, I turn to a list of achievements detailing activities and accomplishments by my meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy. The set of cards produced in 2008 (one year after Sri Chinmoy’s passing) provides a day-by-day view of notable moments in Sri Chinmoy’s remarkable and extraordinarily productive lifetime. Who else could find achievements noteworthy enough to populate all 365 days of the year?

This morning when I read the activities for January 29th – along with art exhibit openings (1975), new weightlifting records (2002), peace concerts in South Africa (1996) and Brazil (2000) – Sri Chinmoy began a poetry series entitled The Golden Boat on January 29th, 1974. He began writing these poems in Puerto Rico and the series eventually encompassed 1,000 poems in total with the publication of the 20th volume in October of that same year. Each of the 20 volumes contains 50 poems and they are available to read online.

The symbol of a golden boat traveling to a golden shore is found in Sri Chinmoy’s poetry, songs and artwork. I have a framed print on the wall in my living room which is called The Golden Boat. Sri Chinmoy painted this abstract image of a boat on the water in 1976.

Here is one poem from the Golden Boat poem series I especially like:

MY LOVE OF GOD

My morning love of God
Liberates me from the frets
And fevers of life.
My afternoon love of God
Protects me from world-dangers
And world-tragedies.
My evening love of God
Inspires me to stand
On the battlefield of life
To distribute the Breath of God.

Sri Chinmoy, The Golden Boat, Part 11, Agni Press, 1974.

Four days after he began the Golden Boat poems, he completed 208 poems in 22 hours. A book called The Inner Journey published in 1977 includes the transcript of a talk he gave to the disciples who helped publish and print those 208 poems the same day they were written.

Dear children, the Golden Boat is not mine. This Boat belongs to the Supreme. We are all passengers on this Boat. You may say that I am an experienced passenger because I have been on this Boat for a longer time than you have been. But I wish to say that this Boat belongs to the Supreme. Right now He has only a few hundred passengers on this Boat, but a day will dawn when he will have seven thousand passengers or even more.

And in the near or distant future the Boat of the Supreme, where we are all now seated, will carry not only seven hundred or seven thousand individuals, but the whole of humanity to the Golden Shores of the Beyond. The Transcendental Supreme in His Golden Boat will carry all of us to the Golden Shores of the ever-transcending Beyond.

Sri Chinmoy, The Inner Journey, Agni Press, 1977.

Somehow when I think of the image of a golden boat ferrying human beings towards God, I imagine Noah’s Ark. As a child, I had a particular fondness for the concept of Noah’s Ark and used to imagine when I went to bed at night that my bed was the ark and that my stuffed animal collection represented all the animals brought onto the ark. This thought made me feel safe and protected by God.

Today I revisit the poems of The Golden Boat and dwell in a grateful space as I ponder the magical wisdom, life lessons, aphorisms and food for the soul overflowing in Sri Chinmoy’s poetry.