As the world becomes one in overflowing love, response and tribute to Nelson Mandela, called a “Pinnacle-Pillar of Mother Earth” by Sri Chinmoy, I am touched by this tribute from children since in his towering greatness he embodied the deepest humility.
As soon as I heard the news of Nelson Mandela’s passing, I ran to my bookcase and opened a book that my meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy had written in glowing tribute to Nelson Mandela back in the late 1990’s. Entitled Nelson Mandela : the Pinnacle-Pillar of Mother Earth, this book provides a unique and compelling glimpse into Nelson Mandela’s gifts to the world seen through the eyes of a spiritual luminary and student of peace. In prose, poetry and songs composed about Mandela, Sri Chinmoy paints a portrait of the man he deeply admired and cherished. May I close with some words from the book that eloquently express the yearnings and gratitude in my heart for what Mandela offered the world.
“Whoever genuinely desires To redress humanity’s suffering Feels behind him one hundred percent The living presence of Mandela’s heart” -Sri Chinmoy, “Nelson Mandela :
The Pinnacle-Pillar of Mother Earth,” Agni Press, 1998.
“There can never be an easy road for the pioneer-climbers of freedom-heights, for unless and until they have guided each and every person to the summit, they shall not rest. Beloved Brother, President Mandela, an entire nation follows in your footsteps – and behind it I see the vast caravan of humanity.” -Sri Chinmoy, “Nelson Mandela : The Pinnacle-Pillar of Mother Earth,” Agni Press, 1998.
Today March 20, 2013 is the first ever U.N. International Day of Happiness. I first learned about it when I attended Visual Happiness an art exhibit at the Queens Museum of Art currently running through March 24th in their Partnership Gallery. The exhibit pairs photography from various cultures across the globe with writings on happiness from the pen of artist and author Sri Chinmoy. Sri Chinmoy placed much significance on the importance of happiness, enthusiasm and a positive encouraging approach to life. Here is one of his poems on happiness that I particularly like:
In so many ways I feel that I learned about happiness from the example of both his life and his writings. Whether in the satisfaction that comes from self-transcendence, or the peace that comes from simplicity, or the innocent joy that comes from a child-like outlook and remembrance to laugh, learning meditation as his disciple included myriad approaches to make spirituality and happiness inseparable.
So “Happy Happiness Day!” and if you are feeling inspired to delve further into the subject of happiness, check out this new website jewelsofhappiness.com for articles on happiness, excerpts of a new audiobook edition of Sri Chinmoy’s book Jewels of Happiness and much, much more.
Here are some more photos I took of the Visual Happiness exhibit at the Queens Museum of Art
Sri Chinmoy believed that spirituality and physical fitness are meant to co-exist and mutually support each other to help achieve a well-balanced life. While he strongly emphasized the importance of prayer and meditation, he also participated in sports as varied as soccer, track & field events, sprinting, marathon running, tennis and weightlifting. He explains,
“I am also trying to show that the inner world has to be a source of inspiration to the outer world. They should not be like opposite poles—North Pole and South Pole. No, they have to be united. The body and the soul must go together.” -Sri Chinmoy, Aspiration-Body, Illumination-Soul Part 1, Agni Press, 1993.
One unique and unforgettable expression of this joining of sport and spirit is a weightlifting series he named “Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart“. Ever a visionary, he combined his gratitude, oneness and goodwill towards others with his weightlifting and lifted individuals overhead on a specially built apparatus as a way to honor them for their contributions to society. As one ascended the platform, singers would perform a song composed by Sri Chinmoy – a theme song as it were for these lifts. The lyrics are:
Lifting up the world
With a oneness-heart,
The Hour of God
And His Victory-Start. Song-Flowers, Part 3
Over a period of almost two decades Sri Chinmoy lifted 8,000 individuals in this manner. This number is mind-boggling when you stop and think about how many of those lifts involved large amounts of total weight including the individual(s) and apparatus.
To actually experience being lifted overhead by Sri Chinmoy makes a lasting impression. Helen Hunt spoke about getting lifted by Sri Chinmoy during a recent appearance on the David Letterman Show. She speaks about it as if it happened yesterday when in fact it was almost ten years ago. Get a closer glimpse of what it is like to be lifted in this video featuring Helen Hunt and Desmond Tutu: