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.

 

Dec 18

Season of Giving

During this holiday season, my thoughts turn to a different way to approach “giving”. Traditionally I share in charitable activities such as adopting a family to give presents to and contributing to the Toys for Tots drive.

This year my finances necessitated a different approach. I have been meditating on the following quote from my spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy. It starts by envisioning a world in some future yet to be realized date in which divinity is more established on Earth. Giving to others is a big part of the picture painted of a more beautiful world.

In answer to the question, “What will it be like when divinity is more manifested?” Sri Chinmoy states:

Treachery will go away, first of all.

Then, people will think more of one another and less of themselves, as a spiritual Master does. I can meditate all the time for myself, but I don’t do that. Instead, I concentrate on my disciples; I help them and others who want and need my light. In this way I serve them, and I get joy. As long as I am of service, I am fulfilling my role on earth.

But right now, It is not like that with everybody. When divinity is more manifested, people will offer themselves more for the cause of others than for themselves.

Now you will say, “If one is not realised, how can he help others?” But you can help, according to your own achievement. Always we have to be of service to those who need us.

When divinity is more manifested, each one will offer himself to the service of mankind and each one will have something to receive which he has not yet manifested.
Sri Chinmoy, Oneness-Reality And Perfection-Divinity, Agni Press, 1983.

Because I do not have the resources to give material gifts this Christmas, I am contemplating the idea of being of service to others and thinking more of others and less of myself as this year’s way to share in the “Season of Giving”.

Joel Osteen, in his new book Every Day a Friday devotes an entire chapter to these concepts, using the terms “be a dream releaser” and a “people builder”. He writes,

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria

Think about the people God has placed in your life. They’re not there by accident. God brings people to you for a purpose. We should live with this awareness that, “I am here to add value to people. I am here to help them succeed.” Don’t go around always thinking, “I wonder what that person can do for me. I wonder what they have to offer.” No, we should have the attitude, “What can I do for them? How can I help them come up higher? Can I teach them something I know? Can I connect them with someone who can help them?” Don’t make the mistake of going through life ingrown. Instead, be a dream releaser. Use your talent, your influence and your experience, not just to accomplish your goals, but to help release a dream in someone else.

Remember, there is nothing more rewarding than to lay down at night knowing that you helped someone else become better. You not only fulfilled your purpose for that day, you did your best. It may have just been a two-minute phone call where you encouraged someone; but when you live as a dream releaser, you’ll see your own dreams come alive as well.

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE

“Be devoted to one another in love…”
(Romans 12:10, NIV)

I find it inspiring that this spiritual truth transcends different religions and perspectives. Whether I am trying to help someone on my job who approaches the desk with a question, or I am trying to be a patient teacher in computer classes or I am trying to share Sri Chinmoy’s meditative wisdom with seekers; it all comes back to Sri Chinmoy’s words from above,

“As long as I am of service, I am fulfilling my role on earth.”

This Christmas, that is my prayer and wish as I travel, a girl on a road.

 

 

 

Nov 11

11-11-11 at 11:11 pm

The number eleven is in the spotlight with the once in a hundred years occurrence of the convergence of the number 11 to the nth degree.

Have you ever noticed that certain numbers have powerful significance in your life? Have you ever explored numerology? Whether harkening back to Pythagorus or the Kabbalah, the idea that everything can be reduced to a number with mystical significance is an interesting thing to ponder.

I haven’t learned much about numerology but am intrigued by the frequence of the number 56 in my life and its relationship to the number 11. Ever since I received my spiritual name on Nov. 11, 2001 (11/11/01), I resonate with the number 11. Quite often, I instinctively look over at a digital clock as it displays the time 11:11.

The number 56 has been in my midst again and again and 5 +6 = 11. Twice I lived at a street address of 56 and currently I live at a street address of 156. What are the odds of that happening so many times?

To me the number 11 symbolizes that there is one and only one divine reality – that God is all, the one and only one.

Pythagorus said, “Eleven is the number of a cycle of new beginnings.”

There’s some pretty “out there” stuff about 11:11 – one website that says that it is a doorway to ascension into a higher world (www.nvisible.com), all kinds of mind-blowing stuff.

Eleven has to do with the DNA codes.

Eleven is also considered a master number and has a lot to do with awakening and spiritual psychic realms. In that sense, I guess it’s appropriate that my spiritual journey catapulted to another level in conjunction with this number.

To observe this day full of special elevens which is also the tenth anniversary of receiving a spiritual name “Sharani” from Sri Chinmoy, I traveled to Queens New York and meditated while gazing at the spot where I received this special blessing. Perhaps it is only appropriate that my inner focus soared right towards a yearning for the highest goal of God-realization. You can be sure that most of the time my trajectory is much closer to terra firma than that.

What number is special to you? Do you like the number 11? Or are you already setting your sights on 12-12-12!

p.s. I started writing this post at exactly 11:11 pm on 11-11-11 but have to admit that I finished writing it at 11:47 pm (hey 4 + 7 = 11)

Aug 24

The Forest for the Trees

Flower-Flames ~~ Aspiration-Plants ~~ Service-Trees

Three of the epic series of poems penned by artist, writer and spiritual visionary Sri Chinmoy contain imagery from the plant kingdom in the choice of title for the series. Flowers, plants and trees. Was it a coincidence that three series of poems (comprising 87,000 poems in total and composed in a 24 year time period) looked to the natural world for titles that married creativity and spirituality?

I must confess that I am a bona-fide nature-lover. I find much fascination in taking photographs of birds, animals and flowers. You are usually hard-pressed to find a photo of a person in my online photo albums unless perhaps that person is reading a story to a therapy dog.

That tendency noted, I still surprised myself with what happened to me yesterday as I sat in an outdoor setting filled with beautiful flowers while on spiritual retreat with the International Sri Chinmoy Centres.

I was watching musical performances, absorbing the life messages in moralistic plays based on Sri Chinmoy’s writings and sharing meditation with the hundreds of people surrounding me during an afternoon function.

Slowly but surely, my attention was drawn to the climbing and unfolding greenery that I sat alongside of and up into the sky I was drawn to look at the tree limbs and myriad variety of leaves that dappled the sunlight and shaded us from the hot summer sun.

The more I looked at the greenery right next to me, the more it seemed to pulsate with life and I became convinced that these plants were striving upwards and aspiring in much the same fashion as the people who sat in their midst. The tendrils of the climbing vines and other plants were in various states of unfolding just as surely as those of us gathered together were all embodied in perfect divinity within regardless of how much it had yet to actually blossom. I started to feel that the plants were more than simply alive, but actually sentient and spiritual in some unusual way.

As my own meditation embraced the natural beauty and, spirit if you will, of the plants around me, a sense of contentment and completeness heightened within and I began to feel convinced that if I was ever so lucky to experience Heaven, this is what it must be like.

Later I wondered if it could be that plants are like people and have feelings and strivings just as we do. Lo and behold, the online library of Sri Chinmoy’s writings produced the following question and answer on precisely this subject. I think my sentiments were “barking up the right tree” after all.

Bob: What is our relationship to the plant kingdom in our aspiration-life?

Sri Chinmoy: Our relationship to the plant kingdom should be extremely sweet. The plant kingdom has real aspiration. We don’t see the seed; it is under the ground. But when we see the plant, we see how it aspires to become a tree and then how it aspires to have flowers. The Indian scientist J. C. Bose discovered how plants quarrel and fight for their own existence. But here we are dealing with their aspiration.

The relationship between the plant kingdom and your own existence is extremely important, extremely deep, extremely intimate. First you are a child. Because you are a child, you aspire to become physically strong, tall. You are a seed that germinates into a plant. Then you become an adolescent, and all the time you are dreaming of becoming a tree, a spiritual tree. So there is a child in you, a soul, that aspires to become a spiritual banyan tree. Plant life and human life are like two brothers. One human brother and one plant brother are here together. Your plant brother is reminding you of your aspiration. The plant brother is going upward to reach the sky and this helps to increase your own aspiration. It makes you feel that you also have to grow into your divinity to reach the highest.

Sri Chinmoy, Father’s Day: Father With His European Children, Agni Press, 1976.

And I can further console myself that this unusual sentiment towards plants is explored in a May 2011 scholarly publication from the State University of New York in a book titled, Plants as Persons: A Philosophical Botany by Matthew Hall, a conservationist affiliated with the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. He explores many religious traditions and their attitudes towards plants as well as scientific studies that posit plants have feelings and are sentient.

The next time that I think about the natural world as a symbolic and tangible aid to spiritual practice, I will have to remind myself that the plants themselves could be part and parcel of the process. Think twice before you step on that plant. It is a living, breathing organism in the interconnected web of life.

 

Footnote:
In the case of the Flower-Flames, ten thousand of them were composed over a five-year span begun in 1979 and completed in 1983. In the spirit of transcendence so central to Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy and life, the next series of poems called Aspiration-Plants numbered twenty-seven thousand in all and started the same year that the Flower-Flames  were finished (1983) and continued until the 27,000th aspiration-plant was composed in 1998. The final series of poems  called Service-Trees began immediately after the Aspiration-Plant series completed and the final poem composed in this series was the 50,000th and was published posthumously in 2009.