Sri Chinmoy

"To brighten your life, you must widen your heart" - Sri Chinmoy

This simple aphorism lay at the heart of all of Sri Chinmoy's tireless efforts to inspire the possibility of a better world, from his arrival in the West in 1964 to his passing in October 2007. A meditation teacher and spiritual guide to 7,000 students around the world, Sri Chinmoy sought to demonstrate that the power of the inner spirit can be brought to bear on a whole range of outer activities. In this spirit, he made far-reaching contributions in such diverse fields as music, art, poetry and weightlifting.

Sri Chinmoy was born in 1931 in the Bengal region of what was then India, and what is now Bangladesh. This area - consisting of the great cities of Calcutta, Dhaka and Chittagong and their surrounding environs - has traditionally produced some of the greatest spiritual figures in India's history, such as Sri Chaitanya and Sri Ramakrishna, and has also been the home of some of its most gifted mystical poets and songwriters, such as the Nobel-Prize winning Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam. Sri Chinmoy himself was born into a very spiritual family. Both his parents passed away when he was 12, and for the next twenty years Chinmoy and his siblings lived in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a spiritual community in southern India. Here, he meditated for up to eight hours a day and soon attained very high states of meditation, which he began to give expression to in his first poems and songs. The ashram also placed great emphasis on physical fitness, and the young Chinmoy excelled at athletics in particular.

In 1964, he received an inner command from the depths of his meditation to travel to the West to be of service to the growing number of people who sought the wisdom of the East that he could offer. On 13 April of that year, he arrived in New York City, where he made his home for the remaining 43 years of his life. Within a couple of years, the first meditation centres were established in New York and Puerto Rico; there are now around 300 centres in cities and towns all over the world.

Sri Chinmoy's philosophy is multi-faceted but at the same time very simple: he teaches 'the path of the heart' and encourages his students to meditate on their heart centre, that place in the middle of the chest where they can feel the core of their being. Meditating thus, they can access the joy, beauty and vastness inside themselves of which they were only previously rarely aware. When we act from the heart, we go past the limitations and hesitations of the mind and learn something of what we are truly capable of - in Sri Chinmoy says "impossibility is only a dictionary word".

Indeed, Sri Chinmoy's personal example is a refreshing reminder of what we are all capable of accomplishing, in an age where everyone increasingly limits themselves to specialising in one narrow field. A quick perusal of some of the many posts on the Sri Chinmoy Inspiration Group yields insights into Sri Chinmoy in the role of loving spiritual teacher, and yet other posts reveal him to be a poet and author of immense prolificity and depth, a composer of heart-melting devotional songs, a mystical artist, and most recently a colossus in the field of weightlifting! Throughout his lifetime, Sri Chinmoy modestly referred to himself as a "jack of all trades and master of none", explaining that all these activities come from one single source, the inner inspiration he gets through his prayers and meditations.

In everything that he did, Sri Chinmoy always tried to challenge impossibility and better his own achievements. A key cornerstone of his philosophy is self-transcendence - that happiness comes not from competing with others, but from competing with one's own present capacities and trying to expand them. Sri Chinmoy's myriad activities have inspired countless other people around the world to go deep within and find the best within themselves.

However, the influence of Sri Chinmoy's activities is most keenly felt by those who know him best - his students. In many of the postings on the Sri Chinmoy Inspiration Group, they relate how Sri Chinmoy's patient and untiring guidance steadily awakens them to a higher and more fulfilling reality within themselves, and give an insight into the all-embracing love that characterises the life of a spiritual Master in a way that a mere biographical sketch cannot.

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