Some reflections on a recent gallery of Sri Chinmoy’s art.
Winter in Auckland. Slow veils of rain drift across the city, slide westward across the dark bulk of mountains that crouch on the horizon, fill my windowpane in silhouette . The grey refrain of winter drums on the roof like a break-in. It has been a busy time, meditation classes three nights a week, public concerts, a two week flurry of reconstruction work at Goldengrove – our Auckland Center’s primary school – and redecorating the Blue Bird café. As well, much effort has gone into a Jharna Kala exhibit, a thankfully warm gallery on the edge of the city’s downtown area.
Our exhibition opening night was special, as is always the case when Sri Chinmoy’s soul birds and paintings are unveiled to the world. There were the welcoming speeches, a performance of Guru’s music by two vocal/instrumental groups, a video presentation, hot chai and snacks, mingling and befriending, a visitor’s book brimming with thoughtful and appreciative words: “ Sri Chinmoy – I salute you! Always you disappear over a far horizon where few will ever go, trailing like a comet this long blazing beauty of your achievements, your beautiful words, beautiful worlds, splashes of bright color, this feeling left in my heart. Thank you.”westward across the dark bulk of mountains that crouch on the horizon, fill my windowpane in silhouette . The grey refrain of winter drums on the roof like a break-in. It has been a busy time, meditation classes three nights a week, public concerts, a two week flurry of reconstruction work at Goldengrove – our Auckland Center’s primary school – and redecorating the Blue Bird café. As well, much effort has gone into a Jharna Kala exhibit, a thankfully warm gallery on the edge of the city’s downtown area.
Not only the paintings but the many quotations by Sri Chinmoy touched the hearts of our audience so memorably. We had sprinkled them among the three walls of paintings in large, bold type and these commentaries and insights caused much reflection and thoughtfulness. “Art is the embodiment of the unfathomable dance of the soul.” “Art, like love, is a force of oneness with the infinite. When we create a piece of art, we are really re-creating or reflecting some beauty of the Infinite.”. “The role of art in the spiritual life is first to awaken oneself and then to awaken the sincere seekers around one.”
I like very much this juxtaposition of art and aphorisms, a complicity of two ‘beautiful worlds’, each medium reinforcing and enlivening the message of the other, inviting the audience into a world of spirit and charming them with an awakening sense of their own sacred life. These birds are the beauty of your own soul, the unremembered self – can’t you feel it? The paintings are reflecting that ‘beauty of the Infinite’ which is inside each one of us.
We had unleashed the eagerness of three teams of disciples – each small team responsible for one of the three feature walls –to encourage participation and variety and newness, and this proved successful. The wall of Guru’s bird sketches was unstructured and free, capturing a sense of bird flight, playfulness, happiness. These were laminated, block-mounted prints uninhibited by framing and glass, flowing across the wall and interacting with the audience in their accessibility. Among their joyful scattering the aphorisms catch your eye, dissolve into the mind, explanatory: ‘My Lord, a tiny bird claims the vast sky. /
Similarly, the finite in me longs to claim Your Infinite Absolute.” “ We all want freedom and we all need freedom. The birds teach us to liberate ourselves from earth’s bondage. This teaching of the birds is indeed sublime.”
The avian images tug at your heart: the soul as a bird, ever free; feelings of liberation, joy, Godward flight; stirrings of the unremembered Self.
With the luxury of much space, a second wall of acrylic prints was equally unconventional, two staggered rows eye-pleasing in their defiance of orderliness and proclaiming their unique beauty. You ponder at the titles – ‘Hope’, ‘Harmony’ ‘Compassion’, ‘Love’, ‘Forgiveness’ – and slowly come to feel how these great abstractions are the banners of our humanity, the lodestars that will always point our way home. Here at the Te Karanga gallery, these lofty works of art have captured that ‘ oneness with the infinite’ that always inspires and awakens, scatters the stardust of the Heavens to a hungry world.
“Never see anything with your mind’s eye,” writes Sri Chinmoy the artist. “ See everything with your heart’s eye. Then you will see that everything is beautiful.”
Outside in the sodden city the perpetual rain falls, a winterscape, but in the warmth of the Jharna Kala gallery everything indeed is beautiful, your heart is filled with flying birds, bright colors, images and words that lift and charm the spirit.