April 13, 2019 – today in New York several hundred people from 40 countries have gathered at a beautifully decorated outdoors meditation space to commemorate and remember spiritual master Sri Chinmoy’s arrival in the West. That historic arrival day was in the long-ago April of 1964, the very beginnings of an unknown Teacher’s mission to share India’s teachings with a spiritually awakening Western world. Then a humble and quiet yogi, Sri Chinmoy would emerge from his secluded years in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram to become a great leader who would inspire millions of people and establish a great mission that would reach out and touch the whole world. The 60’s were a time of spiritual revolution, of Woodstock, the Beatles and Joni Mitchell, of anti-war sentiment, environmental activism and a huge groundswell of cultural change like an incoming tide. Leaving behind the peaceful haven of an Indian ashram, Sri Chinmoy ventured out into this turbulent and hungry world to share the perennial wisdom-teachings of his homeland with the countless truth-seekers in America and the West.
Today is Sri Chinmoy’s arrival date, April 13th, a high point in our lives and always a day to remember. Daybreak, the dawn sunlight is coloring the budding springtime greens of the elms with a golden light, a lovely silence blankets our world before the traffic and the awakening sounds of streetlife. Down in the courtyard of our function space, a walking meditation is beginning and I slip into a long queue. There are four hundred people people here from faraway places, many of the women in a bright multitude of colours and wearing saris on this special occasion, a traditional garment honouring the sacredness of spirituality itself.
In the daybreak’s early silence, we are stilling our minds, summoning our deepest receptivity, accompanying the slow shuffle of the body with an effort at silencing all thought, to see how deeply within we can go. There is sincerity, intensity, bringing to the solemnity and sacredness of this occasion our highest aspiration. The shuffling procession of feet are now stirring up a thin, grey dust – looking down at my brown feet in their tattered sandals, I am reminded suddenly of the dust and heat of some other place and time, the image floating up and tugging at the edges of memory, an ever-so-faint echo from some irretrievable past. We were seekers from some timeless inner landscape and I could feel my soul’s memory of the long centuries spent in the search for enlightenment and the quest for God. Captivated by this feeling I was stumbling in the wake of the others, body barely upright, immersed in the stillness and free of all thought, the mind an empty clear sky.
On a vine covered wall that I pass by, I am drawn to a photograph of the late Sri Chinmoy, himself captured there in meditation. In the calm and peaceful face, I try to feel that in him I am seeing the highest possibilities of myself, like a mirror reminding me of something deeper and better about myself that lies beneath the human and the familiar. Yes, to see in another the highest flowering of the Divine is to more fully understand the final end of one’s own life quest. Beyond all book knowledge, all speculation, all discussion, there, in front of you, a face steeped in God, a being at the end of all journeying, at the summit height of all striving. Deeply moved I slowly walk away, feeling inside me the lovely benediction of the Master’s lingering smile and with it the promise of my own liberation. One day, yes, we too shall all fulfill our purpose and our promise to scale the highest heights of self-discovery, to attain the great enlightenment and freedom and God-discovery that lies at the end of all experience and effort.