700-MILE GRATITUDE-WALK TOUCHES NEW YORK'S HEART
Students of Sri Chinmoy embarked Aug. 3 on a 700-mile non-stop relay walk through scenic and historic sites in New York as an expression of gratitude to the state which has been their spiritual teacher's home since 1964.
A series of three-member teams walked day and night along a course that meandered through the Hudson Valley up to Lake George and Ticonderoga, and then back down through the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains. The route began and ended at the Sri Chinmoy Church in Bayside, Queens.
Local officials came out to greet walkers at more than 40 towns and historic sites, and several offered official letters of appreciation.
In connection with the walk, Sri Chinmoy wrote eight spiritual walking songs, which were sung at various locations, and gave a concert Aug. 5 in Albany.
Throughout the walk, which Sri Chinmoy named "Aspiration-Plants and Gratitude-Leaves of New York," the participants attempted to maintain a meditative consciousness, and at each mile marker they paused to meditate and leave a flower of gratitude. By the time the walkers returned home 10 days later, a "necklace" of gratitude-light had been traced around the Empire State.
Published in Anahata Nada, Volume 5, Numbers 6-7, July-August 1979
Sri Chinmoy is interviewed by a journalist from Art Speaks magazine at his exhibition of 70,000 Dream-Freedom-Peace-Birds at 66 Crosby St, Soho, New York.
Interviewer: Does the work of pop art have any relevance to your art — in other words, to very directly spiritual art?
Sri Chinmoy: You have to forgive me. It is not that I do not appreciate pop art. It is only that I have not been to a museum for a long, long time. In 1964, when I first came to New York, I went to the Asia Society, where they had the works of a few Eastern artists. Then I visited a few other museums, but I could not understand what I saw. Of course, art is not something to be understood; it is something to be felt. Only I am saying that it was so foreign to me that I could not appreciate it; I am in no way criticising or judging it.
I never thought that God would make me an artist. In my life I have done quite a few things through the Grace of God. I play a number of musical instruments, but there is nobody who teaches me. Again, although I did not complete high school, my philosophy is taught at some universities and many people read my books. I studied a little art in school, around 1944, but I never had real instruction.
Everything I do is entirely the result of God's Grace. Out of His infinite Compassion, He blesses me with inspiration. His inspiration is all the time helping and guiding me in my painting and in everything else. Therefore, it has not been necessary for me to see the work of other artists in order to paint. It is not because I do not appreciate them; far from it. The reason is that I get all my inspiration from God.
Interviewer: That is wonderful! I don't think you need it, obviously.
Sri Chinmoy: When I look at a painting, I try to feel its inner existence, which we call the soul. If a painting gives me an immediate inner thrill or a feeling of joy, if it touches my aspiring heart and makes me want to become a better person, then I feel that painting is meaningful for me. But if a particular work of art does not give my aspiring heart immediate inspiration, then I find it very difficult to appreciate. When I get a magnetic pull from a painting, then I become one with it. But if I see there is a yawning gulf between the painting and my own inspiration or aspiration, then I am unable to identify and become inseparably one with the artist and his painting. In no way am I judging these artists or their paintings; it is a question of my incapacity or my capacity. There are millions of people who do appreciate these paintings.
Interviewer: It makes absolute sense to me. You said what I was hoping you would say, because I perceive your work as very unique and apart from other artwork — and I like that.
Sri Chinmoy: Everything that I do comes from my life of prayer and meditation. I do not use the mind; I use the heart. I try to make my heart a receptive instrument so that God, the Supreme Artist, can paint in and through me. I am like a ballpoint pen. Somebody is using me to write something. Somebody is acting in and through me. Through my prayer and meditation, I try only to be receptive to God's Grace, which is descending from Above. If somebody gives us a gift, we receive it with tremendous gratitude. Similarly, God is supplying me with inspiration and aspiration, and I am extremely, extremely grateful to Him. I know that without Him I can do nothing and I am nothing.
Interviewer: I can't imagine any better reason to create art. I am very happy with that answer. I marvel at your work! Thank you very much.
Published in Sri Chinmoy Answers, part 3