Latest news and features
Celebrating Sri Chinmoy's 90th birth anniversary
Sri Chinmoy would have been 90 years old on 27 August this year. When he was with us, he would often use occasions like these as a launching point for inspiring and joyful projects for himself and his students. (To give one example: he played on 74 pianos in one sitting to celebrate his 74th birthday.)
Similarly his students around the world are using the occasion to come up with inspiring ideas both for their own personal spiritual practise, and for the world.
In 1999, Sri Chinmoy formed the Enthusiasm-Awakeners singing group with Parvati from New York as its leader. The group mainly sings Sri Chinmoy's cheerful, dynamic English songs. In total, the group learned and performed 1529 English songs for Sri Chinmoy in his lifetime, including many songs that Sri Chinmoy specifically wrote for the group.
At the end of May of this year, Parvati had the idea to sing and average of 17 songs per day for 90 days beginning on 30 May, so all the songs could be completed on 27 August. As well as the original members of the group, Parvati then felt the inspiration to invite others who had over the years expressed their love of these songs, and she selflessly made all the necessary resources available on her website devotionsongs.com:
View the 90 songs project on devotionsongs.com
(The Enthusiasm-Awakeners group actually performed a similar project for Sri Chinmoy's 75th birthday in 2006 - you can read that story on her website)
Many of our worldwide Centres were also inspired by the occasion to let the public know!
Sri Chinmoy's books in multiple languages
For some of Sri Chinmoy's students who live in non-English-language countries, translating his books (and immersing themselves in the deep meditative writings of a spiritual Master) is a very satisfying part of their spiritual life. Sri Chinmoy's books have been released in over 20 languages.
Czech Republic and Slovakia
Many of Sri Chinmoy's books in Czech are beautifully designed by the Madal Bal studio in Prague. Some of these designs eventually find their way to the English version.
In the Czech republic and Slovakia, you can see billboards promoting the books and also sharing Sri Chinmoy's beautiful writings with the public.
The Italian Centre has recently become a prolific distributor of Sri Chinmoy's works in Italian, this year alone new editions of Sri Chinmoy's meditation book, and his book of commentaries on the Indian scriptures have been released.
In addition, they have also published box-sets of cards containing Sri Chinmoy's aphorisms, which are extremely popular all over the world.
This is a sweet story. Gesiane from our São Paolo Centre was participating in a local 24 hour race, and she had the idea to ask the organisers if she could give each of the runners a copy of Sri Chinmoy's The Adventure of Life to put in their gift bag.
Many of the runners really treasured the gift, and the book ended up being promoted quite widely on social media as a result. Many of our Sri Chinmoy Centre projects start from small simple ideas, just like this one.
Outdoor meditation events in New York
Recently, our New York Centre were able to offer events for the public for the first time in many months. We started with a set of outdoor meditation classes and a concert in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
We are planning to resume our classes again in Manhattan this fall. We are also continuing small ongoing classes at the Oneness-Heart Centre in Jamaica, Queens. Sri Chinmoy established this centre in 2004, and it prides itself in providing a loving, welcoming environment for people of all backgrounds.
Thankfully, one thing we have been able to do is put on sporting races for the public, within the health guidelines. This is an important part of our spiritual life; Sri Chinmoy felt that sport (and the contact with the athletic community that our races foster) keeps our own spiritual lives fresh and dynamic.
We were not able to put on some of our longer ultra races, so we have used the opportunity to put on some new races, including a 12 and 24 hour race for the first time in many years.
Doing things together
Most of our Centres around the world can't offer public events due to the pandemic, but this time has given us the opportunity to focus on deepening our spiritual practice, and spending time together where health guidelines allow.
Sri Chinmoy would often have us come together for Joy Days - gatherings where we would meditate and do lots of spiritual things, but also have fun and delight in each other's company. So we have been finding ways to do that....
Luckily for us, much of our Joy Days are spent in the outdoors anyway - we play sports and games, and go for hikes in the mountains.
The beautiful Lake Atitlan is a regular Joy Day destination for our Guatemalan members. Sri Chinmoy visited this beautiful lake in 1997
Past-incarnation fancy dress
Sri Chinmoy always encouraged his Australian and New Zealand students to do things together, so once the 'travel bubble' between Australia and New Zealand was established, a Joy Day quickly followed. This particular joy day, everyone was asked to appear in fancy dress, representing their past incarnation (or what they thought/wished they were in their past incarnation)
A complete collection of over 1600 of Sri Chinmoy's published books
In 2015, the Perfection-Glory-Press printing company in Augsburg, Germany embarked upon the project of reprinting all of Sri Chinmoy's published books up until that time - 1623 volumes in total.
The books were pre-ordered, and shipped to their owners in instalments over 6 years.
This year, they finally finished their goal, and now many of our Centres, students and admirers of Sri Chinmoy now have a complete collection of Sri Chinmoy's books.
I always was eager and ready to print more of Guru’s books. On the Christmas Trip in Sicily in 2015 the door finally opened wide, all of a sudden all pieces fell into place. During the evening function I saw myself making an announcement that Perfection-Glory-Press would reprint all of Guru’s over 1,600 published books in a period of 5 years. And everyone could subscribe to a set. I remember sitting down with a pounding heart and realising what “just had been said through my mouth.” I did not think or calculate. I felt that someone else had just spoken through me!
Unfortunately this set is not available to the general public, however there is another project to make all of Sri Chinmoy's books available to the public by his birth centenary in 2031. To find out more and order books, you can visit ganapatipress.org
Our 6 day race in Sofia
For over 40 years, the Sri Chinmoy Marathon team has been putting on ultradistance races in the USA. Sri Chinmoy saw these races as a way to go beyond your boundaries, and also we get a lot of joy by serving the ultrarunning community in this way.
Since the 1990's we have been holding a 10 and 6 day race in Flushing Meadow Corona park in Queens, but we were not able to hold it in 2020 or 2021. This year, a smaller 6 day race took place in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The race was won by Andrea Marcato from Italy. Andrea also won the 3100 Mile Race last year.
Another runner, Ananda-Lahari from Czech Republic, stayed behind for a little while and gave a very well-recieved class on meditation and spirituality titled The Jewels of Happiness.
Later in the year, we also had another very special running-related event - Klaus Tiefenbrunner from Salzburg, Austria came to Bulgaria and gave a TEDx talk about his experiences in the previous years' 3100 Mile Race.
Other news from Bulgaria:
Television programmes about Sri Chinmoy's life Bulgarian National Television broadcasted two episodes of the program called “Paths” that featured Sri Chinmoy’s life. The program focuses on the spiritual, psychic and physical health. The production team aims to give to the viewers more information about the healthy lifestyle, about spiritual and physical well-being practices that will help them overcome stress on daily basis. The team puts focus on man’s virtues and values, good deeds, good people and man’s significant missions, nature and the environment, each person’s engagements with life-important causes. The first episode talked about Sri Chinmoy’s childhood life, his arrival in America, his lifelong mission and the activities of the Sri Chinmoy Centres in Bulgaria and around the world. The second episode presented the musical heritage that Guru left to the world and the connection between meditation and music.
Running for Peace We celebrated the 34th anniversary of the Peace Run by running a distance of 8,5 km by writing “PEACE 34”, following the streets in the city centre of Sofia. During this one hour run, we met so many happy citizens; it was inspiring to see how encouraging they were and how many people with smiley faces were happy to see the burning flame. People were stopping us to find out what was happening and wholeheartedly were supporting the ideal of peace.
Sudarshana On 29th May we had a musical concert of the new Bulgarian boys group Sudarshana.
During their first public concert they performed meditative compositions woven from the melodious sounds of harmonium, Indian flute bansuri, Persian santur and guitar.
Spring book fair 31st of May – 6st of June We took part in the Spring book fair organized by the “Bulgarian Book” Association. The event is part of the Cultural events Calendar of the capital’s municipality for 2021. We had the opportunity to talk to more people about Sri Chinmoy, to sell quite a few of his translated works and to talk about the benefits of meditation and the Path of the heart.
Musical tour Wife-and-husband duo Shamita and Dohai are musical geniuses from Vienna; they came to Bulgaria to give a tour as part of our programme of the International day of Yoga.
The enchanting music of the unparalleled old cello and the virtuoso tunes of the violin took us on a unique melodious journey in the cities of Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna. A special guest to the concert in Sofia was the Ambassador of India to the Republic of Bulgaria, the Indian professor in Sofia University and the general coordinator of the International day of Yoga. The Ambassador Mr. Shri Sanjay Rana was deeply impressed by the activities of Sri Chinmoy Centre. In his speech he said: “This is a beautiful mixture of good music, yoga and the teachings of ancient India and world harmony. Yoga is not only a physical exercise, it is also something which builds community and builds unity. In a simple terms it means that it joins us to ourselves and it joins us to our society, it joins us in a world harmony, which Sri Chinmoy propagated.”
(Un)limited opportunities in uncertain times
The following article was written by Vyavasaya from our Belgrade Centre, Serbia - it captures what many of our Centres around the world are experiencing during this time...
At the moment, we, disciples of Sri Chinmoy here in Belgrade, and Serbia, like our spiritual brothers and sisters around the world, are trying our best to keep our individual and Centre spiritual lives and manifestation going in the midst of prolonged uncertainty. The situation is still that no matter what gathering or event one may be planning in the outside world, in a week or two it may prove too complicated/impossible to carry out.
Outwardly, we live in uncertain times. Inwardly, many of us felt this as an extraordinary opportunity to renew our inner life, aspiration and dedication.
I am convinced that many of my spiritual brothers and sisters share in my personal experience that in those moments when our usual activities, Centre meetings, Joy Days, Celebrations and Christmas Trips were all but out of our reach, we experienced an extraordinary strong inner presence of our Guru, Sri Chinmoy – as if he was inwardly compensating us for what we cannot get in the outer world. To accept these unfavorable external events as they come and inwardly do our best to make progress – that is an extraordinary gift and an extraordinary opportunity which these uncertain times place before us, if we can only use them properly.
In any case, here in Belgrade we focused our outer efforts on projects which seemed possible to continue regardless of the outer circumstances. In 2020, our official publisher Hema-Kheya-Neye published a bilingual edition (English/Serbian) of Guru’s book The Caged Bird and the Uncaged Bird. We planned to have a fitting promotion, yet restrictions made it infeasible back then. Maybe we’ll make it happen by the end of this year, if circumstances allow.
This year Hema-Kheya-Neye also published the bilingual edition (English/Serbian) of the very first book Sri Chinmoy published after he came to the West - Meditations: Food for the Soul. The books are available in bookstores.
Beside this, we finished the Serbian translation of Guru’s book - Samadhi and Siddhi: The Summits of God-Life, and intend to publish it by the end of the year.
During the entire last year and until this July, public gatherings were restricted to up to 5 people and we did not gave talks and meditation classes. As a kind of compensation, we renewed and improved our meditation website Meditacija.org. Apart from adding relevant texts and meditation instructions, we posted several guided meditation exercises the way we do them in our classes, recorded by our Centre members in Serbian. We encouraged our website visitors to use these for meditation practice at home.
Individual projects by our members
After his excellent first book titled On Traveling and Searching, published in 2018, Pedja Predrag Knezevic finished and published his second book, On Peace and Friendship, during the restrictions. This book, written in the third person, speaks of his experiences while preparing for a 10-day ultradistance race.
During the restrictions, Tyagananda, Sri Chinmoy’s first disciple in former Yugoslavia, and certainly one of the first ones in Eastern Europe, finished his book My Life on Sri Chinmoy’s Path.
Highly motivating and inspiring, it preserves historical memory for coming generations of seekers. The book is in print now and we expect it published quite soon. This first edition was written with fellow disciples in mind, with the view of also making future editions available for the public.
In March this year we were delighted to see an article dedicated to Ashrita in Politikin Zabavnik, a leading magazine popular with Serbian schoolchildren and youth. None of us had anything to do with it, so it was a complete surprise. The article praises Ashrita’s relentless effort in accomplishing Guinness World Records, and speaks about Guru as a spiritual teacher, philosopher, artist and athlete.
(Ashrita Furman is a student of Sri Chinmoy in New York who uses meditation to break Guinness World Records; he currently holds over 200, more than anyone else on earth. You can find out more on his website)
Sport, our savior
While we were unable to have regular Centre gatherings due to restrictions (we did at some points organize meetings in shifts, with groups of 5 maximum), the regular two mile Self-Transcendence Races gave as a precious opportunity to meet and share inspiration and experiences.
Also, to mark Guru’s 90th birthday, we are now holding 10km races biweekly - there will be nine in total. And they really give us enormous joy!
In place of a conclusion, kindly allow me to express a personal impression about the period we are experiencing. I feel that in spite of these new limitations in the outer world, unlimited possibilities are opening to us in the inner world. This might mean that the emphasis in our spiritual life is shifting from outer manifestation to inner improvement, and we could indeed feel grateful to our Guru for giving this to us, versus complaining on outer circumstances for not allowing us to do things the way we used to.
Belgrade Centre, Serbia
Denali: a Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossom
Sri Chinmoy strongly believed that the world was one big family, and he came up with countless initiatives to bring to the fore this message of inner and outer peace. One of these initiatives was the Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossoms Programme - in which thousands of cities, countries, natural and architectural wonders were dedicated to Peace, including famous landmarks such as Niagara Falls and the Sydney Opera House.
Denali, in Alaska, is the highest peak in the USA, and in North America. It was dedicated a Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossom in July 1993. This year, we redesigned the commemorative plaque and it now has a new location - the Talkeetna Roadhouse - where travellers can reflect on the ideals of peace as they view this sparkling natural jewel.
Founded in 1917 as a respite for frontiersmen, the Talkeetna Roadhouse is listed on the US National Historic Register, and today is still popular as a stopping point and base camp for travelers and climbers on their Denali expeditions.
10 years of Madal Bal in Guatemala
Quite a few of Sri Chinmoy's students in Guatemala work in a divine enterprise called Madal Bal. Madal was Sri Chinmoy's nickname as a child - it means 'kettledrum', and he was affectionately called this name by his family due to his boisterous (and sometimes mischievous) nature.
Sri Chinmoy originally asked the owner, Purnahuti, to open an icecream store, but now Madal Bal has grown to be a wide-ranging enterprise that, among other things, distributes Sri Chinmoy's books in Spanish all over Central and South America.
Madal Bal is now 10 years old, and naturally had a big anniversary party!
50th Anniversary of Sri Chinmoy's first European Lecture Tour
50 years ago - during the winter of 1970 - Sri Chinmoy made his first European Lecture Tour, offering several university talks at prestigious universities around the UK, Ireland, France and Switzerland.
Sri Chinmoy's students in those countries have released a commemorative booklet to mark the occasion, with many charming and illumining stories about their own spiritual lives.
Sri Chinmoy's first university talk was at the ancient city of Canterbury, at the University of Kent with the title Is death the end? Other university lectures included How to conquer fear in Paris and The University at Oxford's Keble College
In these early talks, Sri Chinmoy sought to demystify spiritual philosophy, and offer a practical and direct understanding spiritual life of the world and spiritual life we face. The talks have a very mantric quality, with sentences that could serve as mantras in their own right.
Sri Chinmoy would often begin a talk with a short meditation and, after the talk, invited questions on spiritual topics. The talks were well received by audiences of up to 300, with many attendees offering comments of appreciation after the talk; a common observation was how Sri Chinmoy appeared to be imbued with peace, even whilst giving the talk and answering a variety of questions.
Aspiration. What do we mean by this term? The inner cry, the mounting flame within us. Aspiration is reality’s constant necessity.
Receptivity. How can we have receptivity? We can have receptivity if we grow into purity and sincerity. When sincerity and purity loom large and important in our earthly existence, then we can easily have receptivity.
Talk: The Higher Worlds, University of Cambridge, 23 Nov 1970.
During these university talks, Sri Chinmoy also established his first European meditation centres. After the talk, seekers often came up to Sri Chinmoy to say they were moved by his talk and would like to become his disciple. Some of the earliest Sri Chinmoy Centres were established at this time, including Janaka and Janani Spence who helped to found the first Scottish centre in Glasgow - a Sri Chinmoy Centre, which continues to this day.
In Ireland, Sri Chinmoy's arrival was covered by the Irish press, which published interviews with him in four major newspapers. Sri Chinmoy gave also gave a talk on Attachment and Detachment at Trinity College, Dublin on 1 December. Sundar Dalton, who was present at that first talk mentioned how he went out of curiosity on the encouragement of a friend:
Sri Chinmoy had a strong spiritual vibration I had never experienced before. I felt he was truly sincere and found myself wanting to continue. After the talk, we went to a small room at the top of Trinity College, where we meditated with Sri Chinmoy.
describing his experiences at that talk
Sundar Dalton helped found an early Dublin Centre, before moving to Paris and then New York, where he has been a disciple of Sri Chinmoy for the past 50 years.
Andrea Marcato wins the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race 2020
The 2020 edition of the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race has ended in Salzburg Austria, with three out of the five runners completing the nearly 5,000km distance within the alloted time.
This year's first place was Andrea Marcato (38) who grew up in Lughetto, a suburb of the city of Venice. His time of 43 days, 12 hours, 7 minutes is a record for a first-time entrant. He also set multiple Italian distance records during his run and is now ranked fifth worldwide.
I am really happy that I basically covered all the distances, which are available in the world. So I am really happy and satisfied now. The feeling of deep satisfaction, inner peace and joy, which I perceived for a whole month after finishing 10-day races motivated me to run the world's longest certified road race. A feeling which I did not get after 24-hour races.
after finishing the race
Second was local Salzburg resident, Austrian Ushika Muckenhumer (52), who works as a manger of a music instrument shop in Salzburg. He finished with a personal best time of 49 days, 14 hours, 13 minutes.
Nirbhasa Magee (41) from Ireland also completed his fourth consecutive race. This was despite a mid race sickness that forced him to walk for several days. Fortunately, he had enough miles in the bank from earlier in the race.
Ananda-Lahari Zuscin, 45, from Slovakia and Milan Javornicky, 46, from Czech Republic could not finish within the allotted time, but cheerfully raced for 51 days finishing with 2799.6 miles and 2,713.9 miles respectively.
The world's longest certified road race took place on a 1 km loop at Glanspitz Park along the river flowing through Salzburg, Austria. The race involves covering the equivalent of over 118 marathons - 4989 km - in succession. They can run or walk as much as they want between 6 am and midnight. Usually the competition takes place in New York, but due to covid-19 it was shifted to Salzburg.
To give an insight into this unique endurance test, Andrea Marcato went through 9 pairs of running shoes and the pain of burning feet. To ease the pain in his feet, he soaked them in ice for 5 minutes every day. The vegetarian lived only on whole-wheat toast with avocado and cheese to achieve the goal of eating 10,000 calories per day and to avoid digestion problems. Despite that, he lost 10 kilogrammes of weight. Second placed Austrian Ushika Muckenhumer gained 3 kg of weight. He preferred ice cream, cakes, whipped cream and mascarpone shakes with chocolate or fruits to take in the necessary calories. When mental crises appeared which slowed him down he listed to or sang meditative songs to regain his speed.
The 3100 Mile Race was initiated by Indian born meditation master, athlete and musician Sri Chinmoy for talented runners in 1997. He himself participated in many marathons and ultra races. Sri Chinmoy describesthe benefit of a multi-day race with the following words:
“Self-transcendence is the only thing a human being needs in order to be truly happy. So these races help the runners tremendously, although outwardly they go through such hardship. Eventually, when the race is over, they feel they have accomplished something most significant.”
The race received significant interest from Salzburg locals and the national press. Many locals remarked on how the race brought a special energy and happiness to the local park where the race was held.
- Highlights of the race
- Salzburg.ORF.at - English translation and link to news article
- Irishman on verge of completing 3,100 miles(link is external) at Independent.ie
Commemorating 50 years of service to the UN
In 1970, with the blessing of then Secretary-General U Thant, Sri Chinmoy began meditations at the United Nations building in New York, and he devotedly continued this service for 37 years until his passing in 2007.
I am extremely fortunate to be blessed by the soul and the heart of the United Nations. Long thirty-four years ago, U Thant, the third Secretary-General, made a request to me to offer my prayerful service to the United Nations. Since then, every Tuesday and Friday I have been going to the United Nations to offer prayers and meditations. All the diplomats, delegates and staff are welcome to take part. We have a well-established Meditation Group at the UN Headquarters to love and serve the United Nations: the Body of the World and the Soul of the World.
The programme, Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the United Nations, still has an active series of meditations. To commemorate 50 years of service, the group recently released a commemorative booklet with excerpts from 50 talks that Sri Chinmoy gave at the UN building.
The group also regularly participates in programmes to celebrate other UN events and days, such as the International Day of Happiness and International Day of Peace . Recently, they have also relaunched their Seven Minutes for World Peace programe, which Sri Chinmoy initiated in 1984.
Recently, they have been working on a website detailing the group's work, and their extensive activities over many decades.
Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race 2020
On 13 September 2020, the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race began in Salzburg Austria, with five intrepid runners from Italy, Ireland, Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia taking to the start line.
Over the next seven weeks, the runners will endeavour to complete the epic challenge of running 3,100 miles (just shy of 5,000km) which means they must maintain an average of 60 miles ( 96 km) a day.
For the past 23 years, the race has been run in Jamaica, Queens, New York. However, it was clearly not possible to run the race this year in New York as usual. But many runners and race supporters were keen to maintain this special annual race, and so finally (after exploring courses in the Czech Republic and Slovakia) a venue has been found in Salzburg, Austria. The race field has been limited to five runners and will strictly adhere to local health standards to ensure the safety of runners and helpers.
The race was founded by spiritual teacher and ultra-runner pioneer Sri Chinmoy, who saw distance running as a vehicle to enable runners to bring to the fore their physical, mental and spiritual capacities to complete this unique challenge. This year will mark the 24th edition of the race.
“We have to believe in a higher Power.
Only by believing in a higher Power
Can we go beyond and beyond
Our limited, human capacity.”
– Sri Chinmoy
In this year's race, these are the five runners:
- Nirbhasa Magee, 41 (IRL), living in Reykjavik, Iceland - 3 finishes, ranked 22nd
- Ananda-Lahari Zuscin, 45, Kosice Slovakia - 6 finishes, ranked 25th
- Ushika Muckenhumer, 52, Salzburg, Austria - 1 finish, ranked 30th
- Andrea Marcato, 38 (ITA), living in Zurich, Switzerland - first-time runner, two times over 1000km in 10 day race
- Milan Javornicky, 46, Celakocice, CZE - first-time runner, 569 miles in ten-day race
Over the next two months, you will be able to follow the race through photos, videos and race reports. Definitely we welcome visitors trackside, so if you are in the area (or if it's safe to travel) please come and stop by! We hope you will be inspired by the efforts and inspiration of the runners in this race. Race Director Rupantar Larosso who lives in NY, US said on the eve of the race "It is great the race is going ahead and I wish all the runners and supporters the best of luck"
Canvas for Peace honoured in Italy
The Canvas for Peace is a unique 160-meter long patchwork of artwork created by a wide variety of local people and community groups in Palermo, Italy. Recently, the canvas was accepted by the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella as a token of peace, friendship and unity.
The Canvas was paraded through the streets of Palermo as part of the Peace Weeek. The artists shared aphorisms on peace by Sri Chinmoy and their own artistic interpretation of their hopes and dreams for a more peaceful world.
May each and every
Human being on earth
Pray for a universal peace-torch.
The Peace Week in Palermo included many activities broadly based around the hopes and aspirations for a more peaceful world - it included events from art exhibitions to concerts and running events. A team of runners from the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace run also took part and were deeply moved by the warm and enthusiastic reception of the local community.
In 2020, large scale events have been more difficult to organise, but those who participated in this memorable week are keen to keep the spirit and hopes of that event alive. Whilst large gatherings are difficult this year, we can still each, in our own way make a contribution to a better world. This year, the Peace Run has continued with small scale runs where possible and individual runners making their own efforts to keep the flame of peace going.
In this respect, the Peace Run team are most grateful that this banner has been accepted as a token of appreciation by the President of Italy.
Drawings of Love and Gratitude
The Oneness-Heart Tears and Smiles service was established by Sri Chinmoy in 1993. This project grew from an initial heartfelt request from Sri Chinmoy's dear friends, President Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa, for help with the first modern hospital in Russia for children with leukaemia and other haematological diseases.
Now the humanitarian project is involved in over 40 countries, and shares not only medical and material supplies, but also has come up with many unique ways projects to share joy, concern and across borders.
Drawings of Love and Gratitude
Doctors and nurses who are working in challenging conditions often mention the need on their units for more hope, especially, but also for courage, strength, endurance and cheerfulness – for the medical staff as well as the patients.
In addition, children have also found dealing with the fear and isolation particularly challenging. One way to help them deal with these feelings is to show them a way in which they can help. In these challenging times, we decided to collect children’s drawings to support our doctors and medical staff. Doctors and nurses often cite the need for more hope, courage, strength, endurance and cheerfulness - both for themselves and their patients.
In cooperation with the city officials of Nur-Sultan (the capital city of Kazakhstan) over 40 posters were placed in bus stops around the city with these drawings and Sri Chinmoy’s inspiring and encouraging poems.
Another example of this kind of cooperation is the Russian city of Stavropol, where we placed similar posters in city parks.
A fun interview with our Guinness World record holder Ashrita
Ashrita Furman became a student of Sri Chinmoy when he was just 16 years old, and has now been practising meditation for over 50 years. In 1979, he started using the power of meditation and concentration to break Guinness World Records. Since then he has broken over 800 world records, 200 of which still stand - he holds more records than anyone else on earth.
This is a light-hearted interview with a local news station where you can see Ashrita attempt some records in his back garden....
A simple humble way to make a difference
Some of Sri Chinmoy's students are doctors and nurses, and we often hear how hospital staff are searching for more courage, strength, endurance and cheerfulness – for the medical staff as well as the patients. So we tried to do our part in our own small way.
When the pandemic was at its worst in New York, some of Sri Chinmoy's students donated money so that our local New York restaurants - Annam Brahma and Smile of the Beyond - could send 15-25 meals to Queens Hospital each day.
The nursing director and also the administrative the director of the emergency ward called every day, in spite of their intense schedule, to express their gratitude on behalf of the emergency room staff. Many did not have time to go to the cafeteria to get food. Often we would tape one of Sri Chinmoy's aphorisms taped onto the mealbox: they said the first time the staff received it and read the aphorism, it was the first time they had seen a smile on their faces.
The restaurant Pranaya in Zlín, Czech Republic also had a very nice experience for a few months sending food for local hospital workers.
Banners of hope
Through our Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles service, we are trying some simple humble ways to make a difference. For example, we have prepared banners and posters of different sizes with haiku-like positive affirmations on such topics as Hope, Endurance, Cheerfulness, Positive thoughts, Courage, Compassion, Kindness – all of a universal nature.
Hospitals in Italy
In March, at the height of the spread of Covid-19 in Italy, a message of hope spread throughout the country: “Andrà tutto bene”, meaning “Everything will be alright”. Laura Alongi, our co-ordinator, discovered a poem by Sri Chinmoy that included the English phrase, and created the banner shown here. Banners like these were placed in hospitals all over Italy.
Some of the remarks we have heard from these posters....
“Are these for us? Oh…then you love us.
“It’s just the right message for me”
“I’m waiting for this message”
“They are so powerful, I will frame them”
“It did me a lot of good, Doctor, you cannot understand what they meant to me”
One person applauded spontaneously after reading them. The poems appreciated most by customers were those about hope, smiling, and endurance.
The spirit of the Peace Run continues
During 2020, the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run was scheduled to run across the European continent starting in Portugal and finishing in Prague, the Czech Republic in October, but recent events have made this not possible. However, whilst staying in their respective towns and countries, members of the Peace Run have been eager to keep alive the spirit of the Peace Run, by continuing to run on their own, and dedicate these runs to the same cause of peace and upliftment of the human spirit.
In this spirit, the Peace Run has welcomed runners to commit to a daily mileage so that each week, the 'virtual' team can target a particular mileage of between 60-160km a day. The idea is that, although physically we may be separated, we can still seek to maintain an inner connection and keep alive the universal dream of bringing together humanity in a spirit of friendship and peace.
“Peace does not mean the absence of war, peace means the presence of harmony, love, satisfaction and oneness. Peace means a flood of love in the world family.”
– Sri Chinmoy
This 'virtual' Peace Run is open to anyone who would like to join in the simple aim of dedicating some of their weekly running to the spirit of peace. Before beginning their run, participants from the virtual peace run have briefly meditated on the concept and feeling of peace as a way to make their individual runs meaningful to this wider goal.
“Our soul lives in Peace and lives for Peace. If we live a life of peace, we are ever enriched and never impoverished. Unhorizoned is our inner peace; like the boundless sky, it encompasses all.”
- Sri Chinmoy
In the first week of the Peace Run, the team have completed a total of 511 km, which is equivalent of running from Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina - to Struga on the border of Albania and North Macedonia. The local organiser for Bosnia, Amur gave this enthusiastic report.
"It is like dream come true even if it is Virtual Peace Run. We had two groups of local runners in Sarajevo and Banjaluka united with the same idea to run for peace. Cities were closed during some periods of the day but we found the way by sharing the distance among us and running whenever possible. We could not run in groups because of social distancing regulations but it did not change our feeling that we did something together for the cause of Peace".
The Run team is usually a global, international team of runners, so for the 'virtual' Balkan leg, runners from afar afield as Australia, Britain and Germany have participated - offering their individual runs to the total km. Tirtha from Germany felt that dedicating the run to peace was a significant way to feel the inner presence of peace.
"As we don’t have a torch here, I took a tulip, symbolic of a torch, to meditate on Peace on the anniversary on April 27th. Especially on that first day, I really felt a little glowing light inside my heart while I ran. I even thought, that people, whom I met on the way, must have seen it, too. It gave me so much joy".
Stacey from New Zealand has been running through an early Australian winter, but despite the cold, she felt the powerful memories from her previous Peace Runs inspired her individual runs.
"The weather was all over the place this week, wet, windy, sunny and always cold! The sound of rain on the roof and heavy winds, or the feel of your cold nose and hands as you prepare to leave the house makes it not so enticing to step out the door. But it was the memories of all of the Peace Run's over the last few years, the warm hearted people we met, the hope and promise you feel for this world of ours as you carry the Peace Torch, that helped me to take the first step each and every day."
Although our current situation is very challenging, it also brings a renewed focus on what is important to value and cherish. The virtual Peace Run is a reminder that - wherever we are and in whatever situation we find ourself, we can still make a very meaningful contribution to creating a better world, where we value peace, friendship and offering goodwill to others.
Our newest divine enterprises open (with not-great timing)
Sri Chinmoy would sometimes encourage students of his to open divine enterprises, if he saw they had the capability to do so. These enterprises are often restaurants or coffee shops, and allows Sri Chinmoy's students to put their spirituality into action, by seeing the Divine inside each customer.
Two new divine enterprises opened recently in Europe - the timing has not been great to say the least, but the owners are taking it as a spiritual experience that they can learn valuable life-lessons from.
The owner of Heart-Garden Abhinabha from Holland shared some of his experiences during this turbulent time:
I had just bought a restaurant in Amsterdam, a waffle house, which I called Heart-Garden as a dedication to Sri Chinmoy, who had coined the term and used it often in his writings.
Before signing the contract, I had spent hours poring over annual turnover figures, discussing the deal with friends who were experienced restaurant owners and hiring lawyers and real estate agents to help me negotiate the best possible terms for the contract.
Needless to say, none of them had foreseen the coronavirus....
You can read the story in its entirety on our new Story-Gems website
Joy Cafe is a new coffee house that serves only the best of everything. It is beautifully decorated with Sri Chinmoy's artwork.
Finding joy in life at home
Many of us around the world are finding ourselves in the unusual situation of being confined to our homes. When we are confined to our place of residence, it can remind us how much we miss meeting friends, enjoying the freedom of nature - we can even start to miss our work environment and the chance to speak to colleagues. However, whilst we live through this challenging situation, there are a few things we can consider to make the most of the situation.
Routine. If we are not used to being fixed in one place, it can be daunting to have 16 hours to fill. The best way around this is to create a routine, with hour slots for things like exercise, work, study, reading, entertainment, meals. Having a fixed routine helps to avoid falling into a trap of passively looking at screens to pass the time. It can also give a sense of accomplishment if we do our work for a few hours in the morning, we can feel like we deserve some relaxation. Another part of a good routine is to do something different at the weekend - have a day of doing something very different.
Exercise routine. An essential part of any daily routine is having exercise. This can be anything you are able to do. If you are allowed out for one piece of exercise, you will appreciate even more the opportunity to run. Sri Chinmoy encouraged running as an excellent complement to meditation and the inner life. Running helps to clear the mind and cultivate a sense of dynamism.
“In the morning if we can energise ourselves with physical activities, then we can accomplish so many things during the rest of the day. That is why I say sports and physical fitness are of supreme importance. If we neglect the physical and let the body become weak, then the mind also becomes weak.” – Sri Chinmoy
If we are regular, we will feel better for giving the body much-needed exercise. If running is not possible, we can definitely be inventive with home exercise routines, even in the smallest of spaces. There are 650 muscles in the body, try to give them all a workout!
Meditation. If you have never tried meditation before, now is a great opportunity, in that it will be much easier to find time. The best is to choose a fixed time - a time when it will be quieter in the house like early morning is excellent. Generally, it is best to learn to meditate from meeting like-minded people who can offer guidance and meditate in a group. But, since that is not possible at the moment, you can still do your best to learn on your own. Don't worry about how good you are at keeping the mind still. The most important thing is to cultivate the inner hunger and feel meditation can really change your life for the better. We have a home meditation course here.
Singing. It is always good to try something new. Singing can be an excellent way to lift our spirits. Here there are some simple meditation mantras. If you can get into the flow of the mantras you will find you can gain the benefits of meditation without having to worry about quietening the mind so much.
Dealing with stress. This can be a stressful time. We may worry about the health of our friends and relatives, and we may have worries about our own financial situation. For many of us, life has been turned upon its head. Rather than filling our minds with worry and concern, it is better to spend that time offering our goodwill and prayers to our friends and family. When we worry, we only offer a negative energy. Instead of worrying, we can use the same time and energy to offer our concern and best wishes to those around us. This will give a sense of doing something in a positive spirit.
Do you want to be always happy?
Then give up fighting
And learn the beautiful art
Learn to switch off In these times, we do need to keep up with what is happening in our society, but we don't need to become news addicts, checking our phone several times through the day. Once or twice is best. Avoid scrolling through news feeds and social media - especially first thing in the morning and late at night. If we are filled with anxiety, watching the news or spending too much time reading things online can exacerbate these worries.
Read something new. Many of us are now working online. We work on a computer and we then relax by watching a screen. By the end of our day our eyes can get tired and our head a little fuzzy. Reading a good book is an excellent way to enter another world and escape the world of computers and phones.
Speak to friends. We are social beings, if we are isolated, it is even more important to keep in contact with friends. Sri Chinmoy was a great advocate of speaking on the phone and not relying on impersonal electronic communication. He observed that when we send texts and emails, it only touches the mind of the other person. But, if we speak to a person, we can bring our and their hearts to the fore. It is a good discipline to get in the habit of ringing one friend per day, and seeing how they are getting on. It will give more inspiration than just sending a text.