OT: Prayers and Help in Aftermath of Haiti Earthquake
- I still remember discussions on this forum after the Asian tsunami in December 2004 although the search feature here no longer works and I am not able to review details of our conversations.
Now with the devastating earthquake in Haiti yesterday, I feel drawn and compelled to acknowledge it here before I could think of writing about anything else.
The Worldwide Humanitarian Service arm of the International Sri Chinmoy Centres, Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles, has often compassionately responded to countries in need after disasters.
In the meantime, I find myself remembering how recently I spent time in the Dominican Republic and spent time sightseeing in Santo Domingo - now a key way to reach Haiti by land if not flying into Port-Au-Prince. Or I remember learning about Haiti through reading the book Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracey Kidder as he portrays the heroic efforts of Dr. Paul Farmer to serve the medical needs of the people of Haiti.
It is especially sad that this terrible earthquake has hit a country that was already the poorest nation in the entire Western hemisphere. I am consoled, however, to witness the immediate and dramatic outpouring of concern and assistance already underway.
My thoughts at times such as these turn to Sri Chinmoy's writings on the United Nations and his emphasis on viewing the world as one family [unofficial]. The following excerpt from his book "The Tears of Nation-Hearts" is especially appropriate as the world pulls together to help Haiti.
"Each nation has achieved something special, at least for itself. When a nation is ready to feel that other nations are an extension of its own being, when a nation becomes aware that all nations belong to one family, one source, and have one common goal, then that particular nation can easily teach or share its lofty achievements. Each nation knows inwardly that satisfaction and perfection lie only in self-giving, not in displaying its grandiose achievements or in hoarding its capacities.
All nations are pilgrims, eternal pilgrims, walking along the same road, the road of Eternity. On the way, some become tired and want to take rest. They do not have the energy to walk any farther. At that moment, if the nations that are ahead can feed and energise those that have fallen back, then the lagging ones can easily keep pace with the nations that are marching speedily.
If a strong nation feels that its progress will be slow if it helps a weak one, I wish to say that this is not true. If one nation encourages, inspires, feeds and energises the nations that are behind, then the gratitude-flower of those particular nations will blossom inside the strong nation's heart, and the fragrance of the gratitude-flower is bound to accelerate the strong nation's progress toward its destined goal. The fragrance of the flower will inspire it, and from this inspiration it will get abundant life, abundant light and an abundant sense of achievement and perfection."
-Sri Chinmoy, "The Tears of Nation-Hearts", 1974
From that same lecture given at the United Nations in 1974 come these additional words that are so poignant in moments like these:
"Each individual being, each man and woman, should feel that he belongs not to his own nation, but to all nations. That does not mean that he will neglect his own nation and devote all his attention to other nations. But each human being who has the energy and willingness to be of service to other nations will also have the willingness to serve his own country in ample measure. While serving his own country, he has to feel that it is becoming one with other nations. He has to feel that his own arms are becoming one with his eyes. His arms are his power of work, and his eyes are his power of vision. His vision carries him to the length and breadth of the world, whereas his arms remain where he himself is. With his vision he sees the needs of his brothers and sisters of the world. Then with his arms he has to work to fulfil those needs. He can do this only when he feels that he has gone far beyond his little family and has accepted the world-family as his very own.
The greatest wise man of the past, Socrates, taught us something very profound when he said, "I am not an Athenian, nor am I a Greek. I am a citizen of the world." If each individual in each nation can proclaim this message, if each individual in each nation can consciously and devotedly feel that he does not belong to a little family called "I and mine" but to a larger family called "We and ours," then the message of the United Nations, the message of love, of brotherhood, of peace, of soulful sharing, can easily be received, embraced and executed by the entire world."
-Sri Chinmoy, "The Tears of Nation-Hearts", 1974
Praying that relief efforts can prevail quickly and successfully,
- I am also recalling the day when Sri Chinmoy offered his soulful songs to a famous singer from Haiti living in America. He also honored him with the ¨Lifting Up the World With A Oneness-Heart Award¨ by lifting him up over his head on a special platform some years ago.
I was participating there in an international singing group and I remember the friendship and admiration they wholeheartedly exchanged to each other. Unfortunately I don´t remember the name of the star but I do remember there were songs in Bengali, English and French all composed by Sri Chinmoy on that occasion.
Sweet memories, prayers and meditations which will bring quick relief and aid to so many brothers and sisters on the island.
Thank you, Sharani, for posting the website of ´Oneness Heart Organization´, they have always been so effective in bringing compassionate supplies to devastating areas.
- Dear Suchana,
I do not recall hearing about this particular meeting so I am not sure the name of the singer either. Thanks so much for sharing your sweet memories of the experience. Your description evokes countless memories of my own where I was present at a lifting ceremony in which Sri Chinmoy offered gratitude, encouragement and support to individuals from all walks of life.
I remember that after the Asian tsunami some of my friends from Australia spoke about how much their hearts were touched and how much people from that region responded with an outpouring of charity and assistance.
It seems to me that a similar phenomenon is happening here now in the U.S. because of the close geographic proximity of the U.S. to Haiti. The other night I was listening to a special program on public radio and people were calling in from all over the U.S. to ask questions to various international disaster assistance experts.
I was struck by the number of callers who were eager, willing and wishing to go to Haiti in person as a way to tangibly help. The experts tried to delicately and politely explain that organizations such as the Red Cross usually already have highly trained volunteers, etc.
Since our own country is suffering economically, just giving money (their recommendation) is not a simple proposition for many people but I cannot recall in recent memory such a sincere urge to somehow, someway offer help subsequent to a natural disaster.
I must confess that as I sit and pray and meditate at the Aspiration-Ground last night and today, their plight is in my awareness and prayers.
Regarding The Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles website, I accidentally gave an incorrect address for the website link in my prior message. Here is the proper address of the disaster relief portion of the site:
Last but not least, I do hope in the future we both find ourselves in Mazatlan facing a certain statue, deriving inspiration from it together in person. I hear the whispers of future plans to have a Joy Day there next year and maybe this time circumstances will find us both able to attend.
- Dear Sharani and Suchana,
Guru always encouraged us to help or rather serve by "bringing our oneness-heart" and getting into direct contact with people to make sure that help is arriving. Even non-material help like paintings for Tsunami orphans were extremely valuable psychologically. Right now there is such a massive outpouring of international help to Haiti that the hardest thing seems to be coordination and for everyone to work together peacefully and self givingly - which is not easy under such life-threatening conditions. I am sure the Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles will have ample opportunity to be of service later, when Haiti will have disappeared from the headlines again.
I was deeply touched when I read in one of our newspapers a report from Haiti, where an earthquake orphan asked the reporter: will you bring me a small wooden flute when you come back?
Even with a humanitarian astrophysical like this I cannot help thinking how important the message of the Harmony Run is, or rather the experience it gives to everyone involved - opening hearts and strengthening our awareness that we are all brothers and sisters of one world family - who could do so much for humanity as a whole if we used our talents and means much more for constructive instead of destructive or selfish purposes! (like how come dogs and other animals went crazy because they knew something was about to happen right before the earthquake, but all our technology and scientific knowledge was of no avail again to warn people at least!)
- Dear Sharani,
I will be also happy to meet you in Mazatlan next time!
They are preparing huge events for the next Joy Days there!
I wish you are spending soulful moments at Aspiration-Ground.
- Dear Vasanti,
I fully agree with you on the significance of serving people more than helping them to overcome such difficult life conditions.
I have just watched some news about a 7 year-old English boy -his name is Charlie Simpson- who has recently collected over 100,000 dollars for children in Haiti. How did he do that? He started riding his bike in a park in London and his mother uploaded his intentions on the website.
Many people answered with money-power and he will give all their donations to UNICEF, the worldwide organisation for childhood.
It is so cute that this young being is sharing such deep feelings with his pairs after having watched pictures from Haiti on TV!
- Dear Suchana,
yes, the story about the little boy is so amazing, isn't it? He just acted from his oneness-heart - and see what the inspiration of a sincere individual effort can lead to! Psychologically it must be very helpful for children to be able to express their support of children in Haiti and do something positive in some way.
I just heard that we have reliable connections in Haiti and are already sending a container from "The Oneness-Heart Tears and Smiles". And that the "Paintings of Love" project is also starting again - inviting school children in our countries to express their oneness by sending paintings and messages of friendship to children in Haiti so they can decorate their school "rooms" (mostly probably makeshift rooms) with them and feel that other children in the world care about them - and maybe we can include also some school materials.
Kritagyata, Suswara and Antaranga would be some contacts if anyone is inspired.
- Dear Vasanti,
Thank you for the good news! It is a relief to learn that ¨The Oneness-Heart Tears and Smiles¨ are already in touch with people in Haiti in spite of difficult communications.
Looking back at one of your previous postings on this topic, I am also convinced that our World Harmony Runners and communities´ soulful prayers and meditations are helping deeply to find solutions.
We have again updated beautiful pictures and accounts from Colombia at:
- Last week the 'Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles' humanitarian organization of the Sri Chinmoy Centres coordinated a large relief effort for Haiti here in New York. With the help of a friend who is a minister in the Steppingstone Ministries coordinating the distribution of the supplies, we filled a huge shipping container of medical supplies to be sent to Haiti to help with the medical treatments there.
We rented two huge trucks and then filled them with pallets stacked with boxes of medical supplies donated by a local medical distributor. We then had to drive the trucks from New Jersey to Queens, NYC, during rush hour traffic where we unloaded the two trucks into a huge shipping container parked outside a local restaurant. The owner of the restaurant had also hired another container which he had filled with donations from local patrons in this section of Queens.
Driving the trucks back to New Jersey to return them we got lost a few times during rush hour traffic. You cannot make quick, last second movements when driving huge 24 foot long trucks, so it is easy to miss turns and get lost, especially in the New York metro area.
By the time we returned the trucks in New Jersey and drove back to Queens through Manhattan, with more traffic of course, thirteen hours had gone by since the outset of our journey. Through all these minor frustrations which went along with this complex project, there seemed to be a deeper sense of peace and satisfaction that kept us strong and 'together'.
Knowing that these supplies would in some small way comfort at least a few people down in Haiti whose problems are far worse than any New York or New Jersey traffic can instill, we were given the patience and satisfaction we needed for the journey. It was quite clear that all our troubles and time were well accounted for and rewarded in meaningful and important ways.
As I was writing this report I just found out that another container will be sent from here next Monday which we will fill with donations sent from the Oneness-Family-School in Maryland, near Washington,D.C.
The children and parents and friends spent weeks gathering donations, of food, medical supplies and clothing, etc. for the Haitian earthquake victims. I do not know all the details yet but I will report on what transpires after Monday, Feb. 1.
It would be nice to hear of any other projects concerning this disaster relief.
- Dear Vasanti and Suchana,
I was always interested in humanitarian service and followed the activities of our humanitarian organisation "The Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles" since 1993.
I vividly remember that you, Vasanti, were involved in sending clothes and food to Russia back then. I was a relatively new student at that time and didn't know how to manage to get involved with humanitarian projects myself.
Now friends in New York made it possible for me to take a small part in helping the poor people in Haiti. I called several hospitals in Switzerland and I am very happy to tell you that there will be a truck going from Switzerland to Czech Republic with medical devices offered by a hospital in Zurich soon.
- Good news Doris. I am sure others have been doing similar things but do not post it here. In New York we just set up our second container, which is really a huge trailer truck full of pallets stacked with hundreds of boxes. This time half the shipment was clothes and medical supplies collected by the Oneness-Family-School in Bethesda, Maryland, near Washington,D.C., the Capital of the U.S.A.
The teachers, students, and parents were able to give or get donations of hundreds of useful items of clothes and medical supplies sent up to New York where we added about eight more full pallets of medical supplies donated by a supply company in New Jersey. This is the same company that donated two full truckloads a couple of weeks ago.
The Sri Chinmoy Centres New York branch of the Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles, led by Kritagyata, then rented the trucks to transport them to the proper location to be shipped to Haiti. Gabriel helped to coordinate the efforts and I was called in to drive, navigate, help load and label the boxes. Our dear friend Herman from the Steppingstone Ministries is in Haiti to help direct the shipment to its proper location.
Even though you never really know where it is going to finally end up and how useful it all will be, it is the intent that counts. The goodwill offered from the sincere hearts of those involved is this type of humanitarian aid can go a long way in helping the world situation, especially where people are suffering from a catastrophe.
It really seems to put things in perspective in terms of what is important in life and what seems just superficial and superfluous. As Sri Chinmoy states in his book, 'Songs of the Soul', "I pray to God to transform my life into one long effort, fearless and egoless, so that I can derive the most fulfilling achievements from the most unpromising situations. Every second is an open door to unparalleled opportunities. Let me be long on heavenly performance and short on earthly talk." http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/public/0009/1/18