Before taking this assignment I was not familiar with the work and teachings of Sri Chinomy nor did I have any insight or connection to the local community of followers. I quickly came to appreciate that while perhaps I was unaware of his teachings, Sri Chinmoy’s life work as an advocate for world peace, had in fact attracted the attention, loyalty and admiration of millions of followers around the world. His most recent published work “The Jewels of Happiness” includes dedications from such prestigious world figures as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Jane Goodall and recognizes his 37 years of leadership of the Peace Meditation at the United Nations by invitation of Secretary-General U Thant.
In addition to his peace work, Sri Chinmoy also placed significant importance on the role physical strength and overall fitness play in personal peace and meditation. In an effort to promote international friendship and understanding, in 1987 he founded the World Harmony Run, whose participants carry the torch of harmony passing it hand to hand. To date the torch has traveled through more than 100 nations attracting 1000’s of participants worldwide.
|Moni Neradilek (rear right) and members of Peace Choir|
As the ceremonies came to a close, many of the participants lingered to share in the moment and quietly reflect on the memories and emotions that unite them in celebrating Chinmoy's legacy. Each person approached the statue, some to have a photo taken with a likeness of their mentor, others to pay silent tribute to a spiritual leader and, in many cases, a dear friend. Regardless of their actual relationship to Chinmoy, each gesture of respect was characterized by a serenity and profound sense of calm that was apparent in every person present.
In the weeks that followed I had the great pleasure of sharing lunch with Agraha Levine at Silence-Heart-Nest, a vegetarian restaurant also in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood founded and staffed by followers of Sri Chinmoy. Agraha was gracious in explaining to me not only the spiritual practices espoused by followers of Chinmoy’s teachings, but emphasized how members of the community apply the insights of peace and harmony into businesses they operate. In their own way these businesses and their founders, Silence-Heart-Nest, Sound Mind & Body, Transformation-Surprise Laundromat, give evidence of their spiritual values to the customers, suppliers and communities they serve.
In his book “The Jewels of Happiness” Chinmoy’s writes thoughtful meditations on topics such as Peace, Love, Joy, Hope, Patience, Wisdom and more. In his essay on Peace, he sums up rather simply, but eloquently his hope for mankind: “It is only through inner peace that we can have true outer freedom.”
Through their meditation practice and practical application of their spiritual beliefs, this community of spiritual beings seems on course to achieve just that.
May such peace and freedom be granted to all who seek it.