Published in the major, regional Mexican daily newspaper,  Diario de Yucatán


I Was Called “Guru” in the Newspaper

A reminiscence by Sri Chinmoy
at an informal function in Merida, Mexico


I will never forget Ireland. Ireland was the first place where I was called “Guru” in the newspaper. Long live Sundar!

We ate our dinner and came out only to see a fight going on in the street. I will never forget!

Published in The Feet of the Supreme’s Compassion


Telephone Interview

with Sri Chinmoy at the Shangri-La Golden Flower Hotel in Xi’an, and a reporter for the ‘Beijing Science and Technology Report’, in Beijing


Sri Chinmoy: Good morning! Good morning! Your name is Gaia? Did you know that Gaia is also an Indian name? In India there is a very sacred city named Gaya. Bodh Gaya is a place of pilgrimage. Near that place, under the bodhi tree, the Buddha reached Nirvana. There he attained his full illumination so it is a very sacred place for us, a most sacred place.

I understand you have several questions. May I start answering them?

Question: Of all the many instruments that you play, which instrument do you like the most?

Sri Chinmoy: I play quite a few musical instruments. My most favourite instrument is the esraj. It is an Indian instrument and it originated over five hundred years ago during the time of the Moghul emperors. The greatest of all the emperors was Akbar. It was at his court that the musicians used to play this particular instrument, the esraj.

Question: What message do you wish to offer people through your music?

Sri Chinmoy: As we all know, music is a universal language. Here we do not have to learn Chinese. Of course, if we can learn it, it will be to our great advantage. And you may not know Bengali. But you do not have to learn Bengali. My Bengali songs will be able to enter into your heart. On the strength of their sweet melodies, they will be able to enter into your heart. Again, here I have heard quite a few Chinese songs and I was very, very deeply moved. I do not know a single word of Chinese, but in music there is no language barrier. It approaches the heart sooner than at once. That is why we can easily understand, appreciate and admire the music from other countries.

In that way, music plays a very special role in our lives. I have offered concerts in many, many places. My musical performances are based on my own inner feelings. Each person has to have tremendous faith in his own life. Being an Indian, I pray and meditate. This is my way of life, my lifestyle. And I try to convey the significance of my inner prayers and meditations through my musical performances.

I believe in God. Other seekers will say that they believe in Truth. My God and their Truth are identical. Still others believe in Light. The Lord Buddha believed in Light; he did not believe in God at all. His inner Light is the same as our God. God and Light cannot be separated. God and Truth cannot be separated. Again, if you have a strong belief in yourself, then your own belief is the same as my God. God can be Light, God can be Truth and God can be belief, a very strong belief, for which we use the term faith.

Question: How many instruments do you play during a concert?

Sri Chinmoy: When I play for two and a half hours, I usually play between twenty and twenty-five instruments. But when I play for an hour and fifteen minutes, I play about twelve or thirteen instruments. And sometimes I show off! I play one hundred instruments, but it is only for my students, to give them joy. Two times, I believe, I have played over one hundred instruments at a time.

My students are very, very kind and generous to me. They supply me with musical instruments from their countries, and I enjoy playing so many unique instruments. As you know, I am a "jack of all trades, master of none." I am a musician, and I am an artist. I am a poet, and I am a singer. I am also a weightlifter. But in all sincerity, I have to say that I am a master of none. Only one thing I would like to be the master of and that is my prayer-life and meditation-life. I started my life with prayer and meditation and I want to continue doing this until I breathe my last. The most important things in my life are prayer and meditation; the other things are all secondary.

Question: In the face of natural disasters, such as the tsunami that recently occurred, there are two ways in which we can respond. The first is to feel that human beings must respect nature much more. The second is to feel that human beings should come first and so we need even more advanced technology to protect humans from disasters. Which is your view?

Sri Chinmoy: I most sincerely subscribe to both views. Firstly, we have to respect nature. President Gorbachev and others are trying desperately to save Mother Nature. Here, there, everywhere, nature is being destroyed, so their Green Cross organisation is trying to preserve nature, preserve the environment. Nature is the expression of our inner life, our higher life. It is from nature that we get all good things — beauty, tranquillity, humility, simplicity and many other divine qualities. Above all, nature is spontaneous. When we develop the mind, we become so complex; we cannot do anything spontaneously. Nature helps us to regain our spontaneity. Like this, nature helps us in millions of ways to become good citizens of the world. That is why we must respect and adore nature.

Your second point is that we need even more advanced technology to protect humans from disaster. I also fully agree with this statement. Science and technology must make progress. But, forgive me to say, no matter how far we advance with our science and technology, if nature becomes furious, nature is not going to surrender to our scientific and technological achievements. The universal nature is infinitely more powerful than the scientific achievements of man. These achievements, I tell you, will be no match for Mother Nature if she becomes furious.

So these are two approaches: advanced technology and our respect for Mother Nature so that she does not get angry with us and torture us by creating natural disasters. Your two approaches are absolutely right, but if I am allowed, I would like to add one more approach which will not interfere at all with the first two. This third approach is prayer — prayer to the highest, to the strongest, to the most powerful One to protect us from harm, from nature's disasters, or from anything and anybody.

If we can apply all three approaches at the same time, then there is a great possibility for us to avert nature's disasters.

Question: Are you saying that we should bring forward our love, wisdom and technology at the same time?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. I feel that all three should be combined — love of nature, inner wisdom and the advancement of technology. Then we will be able to face nature's disasters. Inner wisdom is nothing but love, the feeling of oneness. If we sincerely love someone, then that person is not going to harm us.

This world is only one family. You are my sister; I am your brother. The whole world is a big family and it is composed of our brothers and sisters. Each individual in this family has something unique to contribute to the world at large. We can all live together peacefully or we can quarrel and fight and wage wars.

So this world of ours has two choices: one is to establish friendship, brotherhood and oneness. Another is to try to conquer or destroy others. When we adopt this approach, ultimately, we destroy ourselves.

What we, as human beings, actually want is joy, happiness and satisfaction. These qualities we can only get by uniting ourselves with other human beings. Those human beings are nothing but an extension of our own reality. When we establish our oneness with the rest of the world-family, we get joy and this joy lasts forever. But when we conquer someone by using superior strength and power, by hook or by crook, we cannot get permanent joy.

One approach is absolutely correct: the establishment of oneness with the whole world-family. The other approach is to sing the song of supremacy. We feel we have to prove that we are stronger than somebody else, or the world has to know that we are the stronger. That approach is the wrong one. Only through union do we get joy; not by division.

When we extend ourselves, when we spread our wings and claim the whole world as our own, very own, when we love Mother Nature, then the joy that we get will be everlasting. And this joy has in it sweetness, tremendous sweetness. We are longing for this joy, the joy of the creation.

Question: How can people have love?

Sri Chinmoy: If we do not have love, what are we aiming at? If we do not love the world, that means we can be neutral or indifferent to the world. When we hate the world, we destroy ourselves. Again, when we are indifferent, we do not get any joy. We have to love the world and accept the world as our very own. What for? For the betterment of the world.

Your question is, how can we have love? The answer is, if we do not love, what happens? The world that we are now facing is all hatred, all supremacy. By not loving one another, we are suffering so much.

But how to love someone or something? First, if we do not love ourselves, we cannot love others. If we are happy early in the morning, then on the street whomever we see, we try to greet or give a smile. But if in the morning we are unhappy, then we do not even look at others. We feel miserable and we may even go to the length of saying that if we see others, we have ruined our whole day. If we are happy inwardly, then the whole world is good for us. But if we are miserable deep within, then we blame the whole world. We never blame ourselves; we blame the world. And who is actually at fault? It is we who are to be blamed.

So how do we love the world? I want to say that we can love the world by creating joy. From joy we get love and from love we get joy. How do we create joy? We get it by doing something. A little child gets joy by playing with her doll. If I have faith in God, by praying to Him I get joy. When I get joy, I immediately find that I want to apply it in my day-to-day life. Then this joy is transformed into love.

I wish to say that we must pay attention to the things that give us joy. Then from joy we can get love. We have to start with joy. We came into the world to give joy and to accept joy from the world. But, unfortunately, many people are using the mind instead of the heart. That is why they find it so difficult to get joy from the world. The mind's only joy is to divide and divide. By cutting the reality into pieces, the mind tries to get joy. The heart wants to keep that reality intact. It does not want to cut the reality into pieces.

So our heart is the answer. The heart has joy and the heart has love, whereas the mind is empty of joy. Something more, the mind takes away all our inner joy that we derive from the heart. Because of the mind, we doubt others, we become jealous of others. If somebody is good or if somebody has achieved something remarkable, we use the doubting mind and we try to belittle that person or the achievement of that person. By doubting somebody or by becoming jealous of someone, are we getting any joy?

If we use our heart, on the other hand, to identify ourselves with that person, we get such joy! If we are using our heart to listen to a most lovely and beautiful piece of music, we will identify ourselves with the music, with the singer or with the melody. We may even feel that we are the singer, that we are carrying the melody. But if we use the mind, then we become jealous of the singer, jealous of the music and so forth.

So the heart and the mind give us two different experiences. One appreciates others and the other tries to minimise their glory. One makes us so happy and the other makes us miserable. If a Chinese song is being played and I hear it, if I use my heart, I will get such joy, such a feeling of oneness with the music. But if I use the mind, I will say, "Oh no, my Indian music is far better!" Again, in the same way, if you use the mind, you will say, "Indian music is silly. It just puts us to sleep. Once it starts, it has nothing else to do." But if you use the heart, then you will say, "Indian music is so beautiful, so soothing, so haunting."

When we use the critical mind, who becomes the loser? We do. By criticising someone, we will never, never be happy because our inner nature is all love, abiding love. That is why, in our philosophy, we give so much importance to the heart. The heart accepts the reality as such. The heart does not mind whether others are good or bad. By offering its goodwill to others, it becomes inseparably one with them. The mind, on the other hand, constantly plies between the good qualities of others and their bad qualities. This moment it says that so-and-so is a good person; next moment it tells us that we are wasting our precious time by remaining with that person. By approaching others with a heart of goodwill, we establish a kind of friendship or oneness with their soul and this gives us tremendous joy. But if we approach others with the mind, then we will only try to find fault with that person.

When we use the mind, we go near a flower and, like a mischievous monkey, we try to destroy the flower, petal by petal. But if we use the heart to approach a flower, we will appreciate the beauty and fragrance of the flower.

The heart gives joy and the heart receives joy. The mind tries to destroy the beauty or the reality that the mind sees. Naturally, those who are being criticised by others will respond in the same way. They will muster the strength to defend themselves. So the heart is mutual love and the mind is mutual destruction.

When goodwill works, immediately we open up our heart's door. This is how we liberate our heart. In your case, you have definitely opened up your heart. By opening up the heart, you have arrived at a particular destination. Tomorrow you will see that this is not the end. You have taken the first step. It is a very solid step and you are bound to feel love, joy, light, peace, bliss and other divine attributes inside your heart. This first step, the opening of the heart, is most satisfactory. Then tomorrow you will see that many, many divine qualities are blossoming inside you. Like a flower that blossoms petal by petal, in exactly the same way many, many divine qualities in your heart will blossom and they will give you tremendous joy. And you will feel that there is great meaning in your life — that meaning is to increase your love, joy, peace and bliss on a daily basis.

Question: Can you say something about science and technology in China?

Sri Chinmoy: As you know, I am a perfect stranger to science and technology. But I do love technology. Just because I am ignorant of a subject does not mean it is of no use. When I first came to China, I wrote a song for little children. There I have said that China's ancient wisdom is something unique.

Again, China's modern, scientific and technological progress is going together with its ancient wisdom. There is no conflict between the ancient wisdom of China and the modern speed. They are going side by side. When we dig deep within, we see the infinite wisdom that China offered to the world at large centuries ago and we also see that the progress China is now making in science and technology is faster than the fastest.

These two things are going together because China is not giving up on her ancient wisdom; she is not looking down on it.

Again, the Chinese are not making any comparison between the ancient wisdom and the modern speed. The Chinese are only eager to combine them, to put them together. It is like the inner and the outer going together. We need two legs to run the fastest. In exactly the same way, if we only depend on inner wisdom, we will not be able to walk side by side with the modern world. The modern world has the advantage of speed. How fast China is making progress in the outer world! By bringing to the fore the inner wisdom and combining it with the outer speed, which China is doing, China is moving faster than the fastest. Inner wisdom and outer speed can go together and China is proving it to the world at large.

Again, it is China's love of the ancient wisdom and her love of modern, scientific achievement that is connecting her inner qualities and her outer capacities. China's inner qualities are wisdom, all-embracing love of the world-family, oneness and light. China's outer capacity is speed, speed, speed. They can go together and here is the proof. China is doing it. For this great achievement, the unification of the inner and the outer, China deserves admiration from the entire world and from my heart. From my little heart, China deserves my appreciation and admiration, plus my gratitude and pride.

Question: How do you like the Chinese people?

Sri Chinmoy: I love them very, very much. Needless to say, they remind me of my Indian brothers and sisters. I have been to many places here in China. When I look at the Chinese people, I strongly feel this oneness between India and China.

Many years ago, your Premier Chou En-lai went to India, and Prime Minister Nehru and Chou En-lai became very, very close friends. Indians call China 'Chin", and India, or Hindustan, is 'Hind'. So Indians had a slogan, "Chin Hind bhai bhai," which means "China and India are brothers." Throughout the length and breadth of India, people sang this song so soulfully, "Chin Hind bhai bhai./" Hindustan and China are great friends, real friends; they are two brothers.

Question: How can people have faith when we face so much suffering in the world?

Sri Chinmoy: The sufferings that the world is now facing are unbelievable. Because of this tsunami, thousands and thousands of people have been killed. In one sense, we can say that Mother Nature is displeased with human beings. If we are sincere, each and every person on earth will see how many wrong things he has done individually and how many wrong things we have done collectively — nationally and internationally.

Sometimes we do wrong things unconsciously; sometimes we do them deliberately. A little child, for example, is unconscious of the fire. When he stands in front of the fire, just because he is innocent, do you think the fire will not burn him? The very nature of fire is to burn the child. As human beings, we have to be very frank with ourselves, whether we have done everything that is good within our capacity. Then we will see that human beings have done many, many wrong things consciously, deliberately and maliciously. Why? To show our supremacy.

So you can say that this tsunami is nature's revolt, nature's revenge. Mother Nature is like a real mother. She sees that her children are quarrelling, fighting and destroying everything, so she strikes them. She wants them to be good, exemplary citizens of the world. It is farther than the farthest from her mind to destroy the earth. She is only punishing her children to some extent so that they will turn over a new leaf.

This tsunami has given us a devastating experience. Again, the leaders of so many countries have united together to help those places that were severely affected. Human beings have once more brought to the fore their sympathy, which was practically buried in oblivion. Your Chinese Foreign Minister, Li Zhaoxing, has written a unique poem which I deeply admire. It is called "To My Distant Friends." This poem reveals his heart of implicit sympathy, love and feeling of oneness. So you see how this tsunami has brought forward the good, divine qualities of people. With our divine qualities, we can unite the world. Again, with our undivine qualities, we can destroy the world.

To come back to your question, how can we free ourselves from suffering? We have to first of all love others and establish the feeling of oneness with them. This oneness is based on our inner existence. When we truly sympathise with somebody, then we take away some of his suffering. Let us say somebody's mother has passed away. If you happen to be a close friend of that person and you go there to console him, then you definitely decrease his suffering. Because you are sharing the suffering, the members of the family do not suffer the full amount.

In the case of the tsunami disaster which has taken place, the Chinese Foreign Minister and also many other leaders of various countries, as well as individuals around the world, have brought to the fore their hearts, which are full of sympathy. The sympathy that the entire world has shown has really helped humanity. By exercising its sympathetic heart, the world has considerably decreased the suffering of those affected.

Suffering is there, but we can share it by establishing our oneness with those who are suffering. Always we have to have the feeling of goodwill. If, in your suffering, I go to be of service to you and vice versa, then we decrease the suffering.

A day will come when there will be another way of conquering suffering, and that way will be through light. Human life is composed of darkness and light. Darkness wants to envelop us and destroy light; light wants not to destroy darkness, but to illumine it. In the outer world, there will always be suffering, but there is a way to diminish the suffering and that way is the way of oneness, the establishment of oneness. If we use our sympathetic heart, our feeling of oneness, then the suffering is lessened to a considerable degree.

The ultimate goal of this Mother Earth, this earth-planet, is not suffering; it is joy. We came from Heaven, which is all joy. Now, on this particular planet, we are sad, unhappy, miserable, and for that we have to take the blame to a great extent. But consciously if we can expand and extend our love, goodwill and feeling of oneness, plus if we can go deep within, then there will be much less suffering. The ultimate goal of every human being is happiness. We know that we came from Heaven, which is nectar-happiness, and we are now passing through a longer than the longest tunnel which is dark and unlit. But we feel that at the end of the tunnel, no matter how long it is, light will again be waiting for us, and that light is happiness.

Question: What is your purpose in visiting China?

Sri Chinmoy: Every year I go out of New York at Christmas time. It is our annual vacation. This year I came to China for an exchange of culture. Right from my childhood, I have had tremendous admiration for China. India's greatest poet, Rabindranath Tagore, the 1913 Nobel laureate in literature, wrote a book on China [Talks in China] and I have learned much, much from that book. A great spiritual hero named Swami Vivekananda also wrote about China in his letters. In addition, since my adolescence, I have read much about China and I have tremendous admiration for your philosophers, for your artists and for your culture.

It is with a heart full of admiration and love that I came to China. Here it is a cultural exchange. My students and I sing and play music. We have developed a love for art and culture and we wish to observe and absorb the inspiring qualities of China while we are here. We have come to offer our goodwill, brotherhood and the feeling of oneness. We wish to offer what we have brought from our respective countries and again, from your beloved country, the country that we most sincerely admire, we wish to receive your good qualities and thus enrich our own qualities. By receiving from you what you have, we increase our inner wealth. And we will be so pleased if our goodwill, our music and our way of life can be of any service to you. So it is a mutual give and take.

Question: Can you please tell me about your connection with Mother Teresa?

Sri Chinmoy: Mother Teresa was my mother and my sister at the same time. One moment she used to be very, very strict with me, like a mother, and next moment she was very, very kind and affectionate, like a sister. Over the years, she told me three times that I must accompany her to China. What for? To be of service to China.

Alas, God did not fulfil her desire to come to China. But believe me, the day I arrived in China, I saw her soul very clearly. She came and blessed me because I fulfilled my promise to her to come to China. Then in Xiamen I gave a musical performance for little children. On that day, Mother Teresa's soul was so happy, specially when over a thousand children sang our song, "I am a great Chinese boy, I am a good Chinese girl."

I strongly feel and see that Mother Teresa's soul is guiding me during my visit to China. Her soul comes to me, you can call it a dream or something else, only to bless me and to guide me inwardly. It was her most sincere desire to come to China and be of service to China. She went to many countries during her life. She went to each place only with the view of serving the people of that country.

I am eternally grateful to Mother Teresa. She had a heart that was vaster than the vastest. She was not only for Calcutta, where millions and millions of people received her unimaginable compassion and affection, but she was also for the whole world. She was a unique individual that Mother Earth received from Father Heaven.

Question: Could you please tell me about your "Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart" programme?

Sri Chinmoy: There are so many ways to express one's oneness with the whole world. Each individual has a way. In my case, my Inner Pilot has told me to be of service in this particular way and that way is to lift some individuals overhead. In a football match, when a player scores a goal, he is lifted up by his fellow teammates. They do this to express their joy because he has done something good.

Here also, I see that there are people from all walks of life who have done many, many good things for the betterment of the world. I feel that it is obligatory on my part to be of service to them. I try to give joy to those who have contributed so much to the world at large. I lift them up, with either two hands or one hand. In this way, I have lifted 7,000 people over the years, and this includes many presidents, prime ministers and eminent figures, such as President Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Ravi Shankar, Muhammad Ali and others.

I also lift children, who are the future, and I have lifted quite a few octogenarians. In Indonesia I lifted one lady who was over 100 years old. How many people can live over 100 years? Again, she has done something great; she has shown longevity.

In any way, if someone has done something unique, I try to honour that person. Nobel laureates, scientists, politicians — we all belong to the same family. Some have already contributed their capacities to the world, and then I try to be of service to them by lifting them up and showing them my appreciation and admiration. And some are now budding. They are humanity's children. They are not fully blossomed, but they are the future, so I try to lift them and offer them my full support.

I do hope that I can be of service to the heart and soul of China while I am here.

Published in Conversations with Sri Chinmoy