(Un)limited opportunities in uncertain times

The following article was written by Vyavasaya from our Belgrade Centre, Serbia - it captures what many of our Centres around the world are experiencing during this time...

At the moment, we, disciples of Sri Chinmoy here in Belgrade, and Serbia, like our spiritual brothers and sisters around the world, are trying our best to keep our individual and Centre spiritual lives and manifestation going in the midst of prolonged uncertainty. The situation is still that no matter what gathering or event one may be planning in the outside world, in a week or two it may prove too complicated/impossible to carry out.

Outwardly, we live in uncertain times. Inwardly, many of us felt this as an extraordinary opportunity to renew our inner life, aspiration and dedication.

I am convinced that many of my spiritual brothers and sisters share in my personal experience that in those moments when our usual activities, Centre meetings, Joy Days, Celebrations and Christmas Trips were all but out of our reach, we experienced an extraordinary strong inner presence of our Guru, Sri Chinmoy – as if he was inwardly compensating us for what we cannot get in the outer world. To accept these unfavorable external events as they come and inwardly do our best to make progress – that is an extraordinary gift and an extraordinary opportunity which these uncertain times place before us, if we can only use them properly.

In any case, here in Belgrade we focused our outer efforts on projects which seemed possible to continue regardless of the outer circumstances. In 2020, our official publisher Hema-Kheya-Neye published a bilingual edition (English/Serbian) of Guru’s book The Caged Bird and the Uncaged Bird. We planned to have a fitting promotion, yet restrictions made it infeasible back then. Maybe we’ll make it happen by the end of this year, if circumstances allow.

The caged bird and the uncaged bird (left) and Meditations: food for the soul (right)

This year Hema-Kheya-Neye  also published  the bilingual edition (English/Serbian) of the very first book Sri Chinmoy published after he came to the West - Meditations: Food for the Soul.  The books are available in bookstores.

Beside this, we finished the Serbian translation of Guru’s book - Samadhi and Siddhi: The Summits of God-Life, and intend to publish it by the end of the year.

During the entire last year and until this July, public gatherings were restricted to up to 5 people and we did not gave talks and meditation classes. As a kind of compensation, we renewed and improved our meditation website Meditacija.org. Apart from adding relevant texts and meditation instructions, we posted several guided meditation exercises the way we do them in our classes, recorded by our Centre members in Serbian. We encouraged our website visitors to use these for meditation practice at home.

A new look meditacija.org....

Individual projects by our members

After his excellent first book titled On Traveling and Searching, published in 2018, Pedja Predrag Knezevic finished and published his second book, On Peace and Friendship, during the restrictions. This book, written in the third person, speaks of his experiences while preparing for a 10-day ultradistance race.

Predrag's two books....

During the restrictions, Tyagananda, Sri Chinmoy’s first disciple in former Yugoslavia, and certainly one of the first ones in Eastern Europe, finished his book My Life on Sri Chinmoy’s Path.

Highly motivating and inspiring, it preserves historical memory for coming generations of seekers. The book is in print now and we expect it published quite soon. This first edition was written with fellow disciples in mind, with the view of also making future editions available for the public.

Pleasant surprises

In March this year we were delighted to see an article dedicated to Ashrita in Politikin Zabavnik, a leading magazine popular with Serbian schoolchildren and youth. None of us had anything to do with it, so it was a complete surprise. The article praises Ashrita’s relentless effort in accomplishing Guinness World Records, and speaks about Guru as a spiritual teacher, philosopher, artist and athlete.
(Ashrita Furman is a student of Sri Chinmoy in New York who uses meditation to break Guinness World Records; he currently holds over 200, more than anyone else on earth. You can find out more on his website)

Sport, our savior

While we were unable to have regular Centre gatherings due to restrictions (we did at some points organize meetings in shifts, with groups of 5 maximum), the regular two mile Self-Transcendence Races gave as a precious opportunity to meet and share inspiration and experiences.

Also, to mark Guru’s 90th birthday, we are now holding 10km races biweekly - there will be nine in total. And they really give us enormous joy!

In place of a conclusion, kindly allow me to express a personal impression about the period we are experiencing. I feel that in spite of these new limitations in the outer world, unlimited possibilities are opening to us in the inner world. This might mean that the emphasis in our spiritual life is shifting from outer manifestation to inner improvement, and we could indeed feel grateful to our Guru for giving this to us, versus complaining on outer circumstances for not allowing us to do things the way we used to.

Belgrade Centre, Serbia