Latest news and features

from Sri Chinmoy Centres around the world.
5 February

Inspiration-Letters - Running issue

In this edition of "Inspiration-Letters," several writers from the Sri Chinmoy Centre share their thoughts on the topic of running. From reminiscences of coming last in a race to the spiritual odyssey of running a 47-mile race and thoughts on the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race.

To Sri Chinmoy, running was an essential aspect of his spiritual path, teaching that the inner running and outer running should go together because running can definitely encourage good qualities of dynamism, concentration, perseverance and transcendence of mental problems.

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“Running helps us considerably. Running is continuous motion. Because of our running, we feel that there is a goal — not only an outer goal but also an inner goal.”

– Sri Chinmoy [1]

Editor of Inspiration-Letters, Mahiruha Klein offers a suitable introduction - remarking on some of his memories of being inspired by running on Sri Chinmoy's Path.

"The longest race in the world is the Sri Chinmoy 3,100 Mile Self-Transcendence Race, held every summer in Queens.  The runners need to complete at least sixty miles a day (more than two marathons daily) to finish in the fifty-day cutoff.  I have often gone to see them; sometimes I just go and sit and read.  The feeling of self-transcendence is palpable.  Whenever I go to watch them run, I feel I should maintain soulful silence.  I feel like these runners are a symbolic offering to the world, through their own stamina, endurance, determination, they are pathfinders of a new world."

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23 January

Video: What the Dublin Sri Chinmoy Centre did in 2017

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It was a busy year for the Sri Chinmoy Centre in Dublin! The Centre gives free meditation classes every couple of months, and also organised two big meditation events with invited speakers. The Festival of Meditation in June featured talks and workshops by Pradhan Balter from Chicago, as well as concerts from British group Ananda and Glaswegian singer Adarsha Kelly. 

The concerts also featured Mangala's group, an international female instrumental group led by Mangala from Dublin. Earlier in the year, the group had just released their first album, a live recording, and afterwards they visited Nurnberg in Germany to play a concert and record their second CD. 

Meanwhile, Sadanand Magee, a tabla player who has toured many countries playing Sri Chinmoy's music, toured many cities in Russia with his friend Kanala on sitar, giving concerts for over 3000 people.

Then in September, we had another in our popular Let's Meditate series of meditation workshops, which featured Jogyata Dallas. Jogyata is a much sought after speaker on meditation, and has visited Ireland many times before to give classes.

In November we started a monthly series called Music, Mantra and Meditation where people can get together and sing simple mantric songs, supported by members of our centre playing harmonium and tabla - if you like, you can also grab a simple instrument like a bell or a shaker and join in. We also had Art and meditation evenings, where people could try meditating and then painting in silence from that inner source.

Our teacher, Sri Chinmoy, believed that sport and meditation were natural complements, and encouraged his students to stay fit and try and transcend their capacities through sport. We had a very nice surprise in October, when our friend and fellow student of Sri Chinmoy, Sammunati Nataliya Lehonkova, came over from the Ukraine and won the Dublin Marathon. Samunnati has won the Dublin Marathon before, and represented the Ukraine in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. In addition, Nirbhasa Magee completed the worlds biggest ultramarathoning challenge - the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race - for the second time, taking almost three days off his previous effort.

This April also saw many of us go to Galway to attend the opening ceremony of the European leg of the Sri Chinmoy Oneness Home Peace Run, the worlds largest torch relay run for peace. From Galway the Run travelled a distance of 5000km through every European country before finishing in Minsk, Belarus.

Of course we also found a lot of time for our own inner disciplines, organising meditations and events just to keep us happy and making progress in our spiritual lives. Sri Chinmoy encouraged us to have regular Joy Days - days or weekends where we could meet together for meditation, singing, impromptu plays, fun runs and games - so we had these both for our own Centre and travelling to other Sri Chinmoy Centres in the UK and France. In addition, we organised one-week 'aspiration challenges' amongst ourselves, where we each tried to commit to a certain standard of spiritual practise for one week.

3 January

New Year Peace Run

To celebrate the New Year, the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run took part in events in Montenegro and Croatia.

peace run mountain
Peace Run on the top of Lovćen Mountain

On New Year’s Eve, an international team of runners  marked the start of the upcoming year’s events by visiting the sacred mountain of Lovćen a national park of Montenegro.

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Carrying the Peace Run torch across the top of Lovcen mountain

The volunteers carried the Peace Torch to the snow capped mountain, which also serves as a monument to the most influential poet of Montenegro - Petar Petrović Njegoš. 

peace run
Team of Peace Runners in Dubrovnik 10 km race

On the following day, a team of Peace Runners took part in Dubrovnik's New Year 10 km race. The runners were interviewed by local TV and were able to share the message of the Peace Run founder Sri Chinmoy - that the Peace Run aspires to unite people from different backgrounds through running and humanity’s shared wish for a more peaceful world.

“Peace
Is the oneness-bridge
Between my satisfaction
And the world’s satisfaction.”

Sri Chinmoy [1]

Male and female winners of 10 km race

abhinabha
Abhinabha Tangerman (left) Olivera Jeftić from Serbia (centre) and Mr. Mišo Mihočević (right), the race manger with his Torch Bearer Award from the Peace Run.

Abhinabha Tangerman, who won the mens 10km race, is a member of the Peace Run team from Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Peace Run at school
Peace Run at school in Sutomore

Earlier in the week, the Peace Run Team had visited schools and local communities in Montenegro.

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Photos by Yatkara Aleksapolskyy

30 December

200th Songs of the Soul Concert

Recently, students of Sri Chinmoy offered the 200th Songs of the Soul Concert in Budva, Montenegro. In the picturesque surroundings of Budva, several groups of musicians performed arrangements and interpretations of Sri Chinmoy’s music. Fusing a range of styles and instruments, the diversity of music contributed to a meditative and joyful atmosphere - appreciated by those in attendance.

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The performers

The concert began with acapella singing by a group of female singers before switching to the renowned musician Alap who played a range of flutes, accompanied by drums. Several other groups, containing musicians from all over the globe, continued the concert - each offering a small glimpse into the musical potential of Sri Chinmoy’s approximate 22,000 compositions.

parees-group
Paree's Group

The Songs of the Soul concert series began in New York, April 2008 - shortly after Sri Chinmoy’s mahasamadhi and, since then, around 20 concerts a year have been given in all the major continents and many different cities. These concerts of soulful and meditative music are dedicated to the musical spirit and legacy of Sri Chinmoy. The performers come from a variety of musical backgrounds - some professional, some enthusiasts, but all feel a special value in offering the music of Sri Chinmoy to the general public.

In the same spirit as Sri Chinmoy’s Peace Concert Series, all Songs of the Soul Concerts are offered free of charge.

Selected photos of performers from concert

alap
Alap and Lucas
arthada
Arthada's Group
Blue Flower
Blue Flower

 

INtro
Introducing the concert
Shamita-dohai
Shamita and Dohai

 

Photos Bijoy, Surabhamat

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21 December

Christmas inspiration

A selection of links related to Christmas. This includes some videos and writings where Sri Chinmoy talks about the spiritual significance of Christmas. There are also selections of music related to Jesus Christ. Sri Chinmoy composed many songs dedicated to the Saviour Christ and also set words from the New Testament to music.

Music Links

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Sri Chinmoy talks about the spiritual significance of Christmas

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"The birth of the Child was secrecy itself. But His Birthday is as illumining as the Sun, as energising as nectar. Christmas is the birth of Promise, the link between Heaven with Earth." - Sri Chinmoy

Christmas - The play of universal emotion - short talk at Sri Chinmoy Library from 1965

Articles by members of Sri Chinmoy Centre

16 DecemberNew York, United States

New History of Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team Distance Running

The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team was an early pioneer of distance running and helped to organise some of the first ultra distance races in the United States and around the world. Until the late 1970s, distance running was very much a minority sport with only a small number of events. In a recent article, Sahishnu Szczesiu, a race director of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team recounts the inspiration Sri Chinmoy gave to distance running, and the Sri Chinmoy Marathon's Team role in helping to establish distance running as a new and growing discipline. As Sahishnu states of Sri Chinmoy's approach:

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"He said that offering, and even doing long races goes hand in hand with his philosophy of a fit body, and a search for greater capacity within oneself. He called this ‘self-transcendence,’ going beyond, beyond our known barriers."

You can read the full: History of the 24 hour race (pdf)

The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team began promoting races for the public in 1977, and in 1980 organised its first 'ultra event' - a 24 hour race in Greenwich New York. During its early history, the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team was fortunate to host some of the greatest ultra performances in the sport's history. For example:

  • 1980 24 hour race Marcy Schwam from New York (US) ran 111 miles  a new women's world record.
  • 1984 Six-Day Race -  Yiannis Kouros from Tripoli Greece ran 635 miles 1023 yards  to break a 96 year old record from 1888.
  • 1984 November 24 hour - Yiannis Kouros broke world record with 177 miles
Sri Chinmoy with Yiannis Kouros after his record-breaking run.
Sri Chinmoy with Yiannis Kouros after his record-breaking run.
Start of the Sri Chinmoy 24 hour race in 1985

The article also includes some feedback from the runners who appreciated the spirit and organisation of the Sri Chinmoy Races.

“There is always something special about Sri Chinmoy and his group. Through ultramarathoning I have found what I consider to be an unparalleled inner contentment, yet I can only wonder in awe at the peace and love radiating from each of the Sri Chinmoy followers. At the far corner of the track two young women sang beautiful lyric songs about running and living. On nearly every lap I was greeted and cheered by name. When it was dark, the track was lighted with dozens of candles in white bags, which cast a mystical glow around the far turns."

- Ultrarunning magazine November 1981

Related

  • Dipali Cunningham talks about her experiences running in the Sri Chinmoy Ultra events.
25 November

Artist in focus - Vilas Silverton

Vilas Silverton has been a student of Sri Chinmoy for approximately two decades. He is an accomplished artist - cultivating a unique and soulful approach to ceramics. His work has been extensively displayed throughout Great Britain. In this short interview, he talks about some of his artistic inspiration.

Could you tell us a little about your art?

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I specialise in Ceramics, but also enjoy painting and drawing. My ceramic work is made up mostly of figures, heads and busts of fictional characters. They come generally from my imagination but refer to artists and styles that inspire me, as well as things I see around me every day. As I am drawn to different influences over time, my work also changes. Yet there seems to be a recognisable style that pervades my output. It is not something I try to control, it just comes out that way.

This is probably because my artistic work comes from a place inside me, and this is a place I am trying to get to know better through my inner life of prayer and meditation. I have been practising meditation actively for over 20 years under the guidance of my spiritual master, Sri Chinmoy.

His approach is to base one’s practice on the spiritual heart, an energy centre in the centre of the chest. I find this to be a place of peace, stillness, love and oneness with others. It encourages a childlike simplicity and spontaneity in my life which then guides and shapes my artwork.

For yourself, what is the link between your art and your spiritual life?

For me, the link between my spirituality and art is everything. When I consciously started on my journey of self enquiry, I realised that if my art had no underlying foundation of deep conviction, it would be only a shallow attempt at producing amusing distractions.

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Although my work may appear childlike, I am not trying to be childish. I am committed to producing things that make the world a better, happier place. This conviction comes from deep inside as a result of my spiritual practice but also from seeing unhappiness, misery and suffering around me. I have no desire to comment on society or use my art as an outlet for dissatisfaction and angst. Nor am I inspired to produce representational art, i.e. drawing what I see before my eyes. I am trying to offer a positive contribution to the world by offering things of beauty that do not yet exist on earth. My works come from a realm inside my heart that is both simple and beautiful, happy and positive. It is these aspects that I try to bring to this physical world through my art and life.

To try and make things of value, I treat the making process with utmost respect. I try to meditate before working so that I am in a good space and commit to trying my best. While making I also try to keep thoughts to a minimum with no distractions from the radio or chatting with others. When I finish a session of making, I again meditate. This time I offer my gratitude for the gifts I have received, and I try to unconditionally offer my output to the earth atmosphere for its improvement and peaceful happiness.

What do you hope to achieve/offer with your art?

When I have finished a piece and offered it as mentioned above, I loose my claim on it to determine its role in the world. As a result, I don’t have any set notion of what I hope to achieve with a piece. I realise that fame and fortune do not determine the value of work. For me, the only thing that matters is how successfully I have been able to translate my hearts inner cry into physical form, be it a painting, drawing or piece of ceramics. I can tell if I have been successful in this regard by the joyful feeling I get in my heart when something is good, right and true. If I can offer my goodwill to the world through my artistic output then I am more than happy and grateful for that opportunity.

Who are your main artistic influences?

My main artistic influence has to be the practice of my inner life as mentioned above.

In terms of outer influences, I grew up reading comics and watching cartoons and so I associate that type of art with happy childhood memories. I try to translate this simplicity and clarity of line into my three dimensional work in particular.

My influences in the fine art world are many and varied. For drawing skill I love Degas and Ingres, Daumier and Rembrandt. For power and emotion I love Zurbaran, Goya and Massacio. For playful inventiveness I love Miro for his capacity to transfer his creativity with integrity across Painting, printmaking, Sculpture, Ceramics and beyond.

In the world of Sculpture and ceramics, I am especially fond of the tomb figures of the Japanese Haniwa period. They have a simplicity and charm that I find fascinating and endearing. I am also fond of English 18th Century slipwares that display a warmth and humanity in decoration.

As my interest in spiritual enquiry developed, I started to look more closely at different world traditions and came to love Indian folk art. This includes the  ritual objects left under village trees and painted decorations that permeate and enrich living spaces. The themes of simplicity and devotion really capture my heart in such works and inspire me to make works that have a meaningful depth to the best of my ability.

Apart from art, what else do you enjoy doing?

Since my youth I have loved cycling and continue with the sport. Due to some long standing injuries, I have recently changed my focus from racing short distances to riding long distances. This has brought me new perspectives on dealing with life situations and is giving me satisfaction and fulfilment in taking up new challenges. In Sri Chinmoy’s spirit of self-transcendence, I am trying to ride further/faster and yet keep cheerful, positive attitude, even when things get difficult.

5 November

Daily aphorisms by Sri Chinmoy

During his lifetime, Sri Chinmoy composed many thousands of short poems and aphorisms, which all relate to aspects of the spiritual life.

These nuggets of wisdom and inspiration give seekers a thoughtful insight to finding a deeper meaning to life.

At Sri Chinmoy Poetry, we will be publishing a daily aphorism/photo. The photos are from a range of photographers within the Sri Chinmoy Centre.

Follow: Daily aphorism at Sri Chinmoy Centre

They are also published in calender by The Golden Shore.

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31 October

Samunnati wins Dublin Marathon in personal best time

Samunnati Nataliya Lehonkova (34), a member of the Sri Chinmoy Centre from the Ukraine, recently won the elite women's race of the 2017 Dublin Marathon. Despite testing conditions, Samunnati posted a personal best time of 2.28.57 to take her second win in the Dublin marathon - this was the third fastest time for women that had ever been set in the vent.

Sammunati competed for the Ukraine in the Rio Olympics last year, and has also won marathons in Los Angeles, Belfast and Toulouse.

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Sammunati leading the race . Photo William Murphy CC SA

A record 20,000 runners completed the 2017 Dublin Marathon in a course that passed through important landmarks of Dublin including Fitzwilliam Street, Phoenix Park and finishing in Merrion Square.

Sammunati celebrating afterwards with other members of the Dublin Centre

 

8 October

'Seeker' screened as part of Reykjavik International Film Festival

This year, the Reykjavik International Film festival took place from 28 September to 8 October. Among the films shown was Seeker - a short documentary about Snatak Matthiasson, a student of Sri Chinmoy from Iceland since 1985.

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Trailer for Seeker

For many years, Snatak was one of the fastest runners in the Centre, as well as being an exceptionally good singer and pianist. In 2004, Snatak was diagnosed with ALS; over the years he has lost much of the capacity of his upper body, but it has not deterred him from living spiritual life to the best of his ability. 

In 2011, Snatak had the inspiration to form a singing group dedicated to singing Sri Chinmoy’s songs in their pure acapella form. The group would go to places of worship of different religions all around the world, to underscore the underlying unity behind all religions. Thus, many of Snatak’s friends from all around the world came together, and the Oneness-Dream singing group was born. The group had their initial concert tour in Iceland, and over the years have toured churches, temples and spiritual places in Finland, Myanmar, Ireland, Scotland and California.

Earlier this year, the group went to the Italian region of Tuscany to sing in the churches and cathedrals there. As you can see from the below slideshow, the group has attained quite a high standard of technical excellence.

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Along with the group came Sanjay Rawal, a documentary maker who has worked on award-winning documentaries such as Food Chains (2015), as well as a 2011 documentary on Sri Chinmoy’s weightlifting titled Challenging Impossibility. As a result, a 9-minute documentary titled Seeker was made, which had its first viewing at the Reykjavik Film festival.

Snatak was getting medical treatment in South Korea for much of the festival, but he was able to make it home in time for the last screening of the documentary, and afterwards answered questions for the audience as part of the Q&A session after the film.

Many of the members of Oneness-Dream came to Reykjavik; the day after they held a concert in Frikirkjan, a well known church in the centre of Reykjavik. 

The concert was also used to launch an album, containing recordings from the Italian tour (some of which you can hear in the above slideshow).

“Soulful music is the music that wants to eventually transform our consciousness. It carries us into the Universal Consciousness and makes us feel that we are in tune with the highest, with the deepest, with the farthest.”

– Sri Chinmoy [1]

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