- I was reading some of the old posts on this site when I came across Mahiruha's awesome suggestion:
"Here's a New Thread Idea: Go through your collection of Sri Chinmoy's music and books and pick out your five favorite from both mediums."
I would really be interested in seeing what everyone chooses but for now I will get the ball rolling.
1. Flute Music for Meditation
This was the first Sri Chinmoy CD I ever owned and just listening to it is a meditation in itself. I have listened to it so many times that I know every melody by heart but even so, I never ever get tired of it.
2. Symphony for Meditation
This CD features Guru chanting Aum, shanti and Supreme layered with him playing various instruments from flutes to exotic percussion instruments.
3. Four Hundred Blue Green White Red Song-Birds
This is a 4-CD compilation that was recorded in the 80's. There are 200 songs in total, they are all short songs with one line in Bengali and then one line in English. Guru accompanies himself on the harmonium as he sings them. I chose this because I love the simplicity and beauty of these songs, I could listen to them on repeat all day. As an added bonus, they are really easy to learn especially because a song book is included with the CD set.
4. India: World Cynosure
The entire album is very nice but I chose it in particular for one track "Songs with Harmonium" (a 40 minute track) which features Sri Chinmoy singing short English songs with so much soulfulness and sweetness. Despite the simplicity, the songs are able to convey a very deep relationship with God. ("Are you there God? Would you mind coming over to me with your Compassion-Eye and your Forgiveness-Heart" and "No entrance fee is needed to enter into God's Compassion-Heart" for example.) I love to listen and sing along.
5. Sri Chinmoy Sings Ami Jabo (5 Selected Performances)
Ami Jabo is one of my favorite songs of all time, I find it difficult not to get teary-eyed when listening to it or singing it. It is so moving and powerful and, as is the case with all of Guru's songs, it has a deep and poetic translation.
1. The Divine Hero
My first of Sri Chinmoy's books, such a breath of fresh air! Guru writes about the purpose of life, cultivating Divine qualities and conquering negative qualities. It is interspersed with lots of stories, exercises and poems.
2. The Caged Bird and the Uncaged Bird
My favorite compilation of Sri Chinmoy's poetry.
3. Beyond Within
Probably the closest any of the books have come to summarizing the complete philosophy of Sri Chinmoy.
4. The Wings of Joy
I love this book so much but I find it impossible to keep a copy for myself! I often travel with it and I always end up giving it away to friends, family members and strangers that I end up in conversation with. (Once I even left a copy on the plane by accident but was comforted by imagining the next passenger finding a precious gem among the SkyMall and WestJet magazines in the seat pocket.)
5. Live in the Eternal Now
A newly released book that I will return to again and again. It is just so inspiring. Enough said.
Phew! That was some hard work as there are just so many wonderful books and albums among Sri Chinmoy's works. I cannot think of anyone more prolific in both mediums.
What are your favorites?
Thank you so much for picking up my thread.
I'd just like to mention the wonderful Moscow-based publishing house "Guru Noka" which has compiled, published and distributed so many wonderful anthologies of Guru's writings. To be honest, one of the very highlights of my Celebrations' experience is discovering the newest offering from this wonderfully versatile, soulful and meticulous press. I really can't praise their books enough. From "A Perfect Divine Enterprise" to "Behind the Curtain of Eternity" to "My Master", these books are precious resources, spiritual treasuries. Any real student of spirituality will be immeasurably enriched by possessing and reading and re-reading these brilliant compilations of the Master's writings.
My gratitude to Karpani and crew for their sleepless efforts.
- I just wanted to thank Brahmata again for mentioning these spiritual classics by Sri Chinmoy. Over the next few days I'd like to discuss my favorite poems from these books and why I think they're so significant.
Here's a poem from Beyond Within, although it originated in 'The Dance of Life' part 16, by Sri Chinmoy:
From the Embrace of God.
From the sea of ignorance.
From the perdition of despair.
From the den of destruction.
I know not why.
I know not how.
And now I see,
No escape, no escape.
I am caught by my own
Choice of freedom.
I have studied a lot of English poetry, both in college and also for my own enjoyment. As far as I know, only in the best plays by William Shakespeare or in selected, inspired Bible passages will you find a language so rich and a movement so resonant. Also, every time I come to this poem I feel like I'm reading it for the first time. Maybe that's the definition of a classic; it's always new.
Sometimes when I read Sri Chinmoy's poetry, I realise that he is not speaking as a spiritual Master, but rather as a seeker. Because of Sri Chinmoy's yogic power of oneness, he can identify himself intimately even with people he has never even met. Through this compassionate identification, he expresses the anguish, the joys and the struggles of aspiring seekers everywhere.
I like this poem because it really does express the psychic anguish and frustration of a spiritual seeker. In American culture, at least, self-reliance is an important value. Why depend on others to help you when you can help yourself? Why lean on others for support? And there's definitely truth to this. Without a secure and tranquil sense of self, how can you do good or great things in life?
But in the spiritual life, self-reliance isn't always a great help. When we are spiritual, we try to get in touch with the Self, the Supreme Self, God. The more access we have to God, who is just our highest Self, the happier we are. The buffets and torrents of life don't affect us so much when we have access to a joyous and imperishable inner reality.
I get the sense that the speaker in this poem is an intellectual, someone who's really good at figuring people out and who can talk his way in our out of any situation. I notice how practically every line begins with the word "I". He's escaped from every trap the world can lay, but he has not escaped from the ignorant, binding little 'i', the ego. For that, he has to turn to meditation and spirituality, and ultimately surrender that little 'i'-ness to the all-pervading 'I', the Absolute Supreme. In the big 'I', there is no suffering.
As Guru quotes from the Upanishads:
Yo vai bhuma tat sukham,
Nalpe sukham asti,
The Infinite is the satisfying happiness.
In the finite no happiness can ever breathe.
The Infinite alone is the fulfilling happiness.
The speaker in "I Escaped" has come to the realisation that he is still trapped, but his sophisticated, intellectual mind will not allow him to take the necessary leap into the unknown.
I like how Sri Chinmoy phrases the various things that this individual escaped from:
The Embrace of God
The sea of ignornace
The perdition of despair
The den of destruction
I just the sound of the words, the very flow of language is so interesting and elegant.
It seems in the first part of the poem that the speaker is bragging: look at all the things I've escaped from! But then doubt appears in the lines "I know not why/I know not how". This is followed by an observation:
And now I see,
No escape, no escape.
I am caught by my own
Choice of freedom.
So, all the bragging on freedom ends in a confession of absolute confinement. It reminds me of a remark by Shigalyov, a political theorist in Dostoevsky's classic "Demons"
"My conclusion directly contradicts the original idea I started from. Starting from unlimited freedom, I conclude with unlimited despotism. I will add, however, that apart from my solution to the social formula, there is no other."
Of course! The mind always knows the way- its own way. Even when that way becomes ridiculous, barren and destitute, it wants to follow it untiringly and faithfully. How preposterous!
Here's an excerpt from "Death and Reincarnation" that I like a lot. I think Guru wrote these aphorisms in 1962 in India. It's a nice companion to "I Escaped":
"Life is inspiration. Life is aspiration. Life is realisation. Life is not the reasoning mind. Life is not the intellectual mind. Life is not a game of frustration. No, life is the message of divinity on earth. Life is God's conscious channel to fulfil divinity in humanity on earth." (page 38)
And also, from the same book:
"Brooding and despondency are the worst foes to kill life in all its divine inspiration. No more brooding, no more despondency. Your life shall become the beauty of a rose, the song of the dawn, the dance of the twilight." (pages 51-52)
The simplicity, clarity and sincerity of Sri Chinmoy's writings are what initially attracted me to his path. They do not preach. They are simple and lyrical and lovely. Throughout my life, Sri Chinmoy's poetry has given me injections of hope that have made even the worst situations bearable, survivable. I will not be able to lavish sufficient praise on them.
Thank you for listening and reading, my friends!
- Thank you, it was really interesting to read that insightful perspective on Sri Chinmoy's poem. Indeed, one of the things I like so much about his poetry is that he often takes on different voices, the voice of the struggling aspirant for example. In my experience, this is very rare in spiritual literature but invaluable as it makes the writings so relatable. Another device that I've found to be unique to Sri Chinmoy's poetry is the ability to convey conversations between the Divine and the seeker so sincerely and authentically (and often charmingly). For examples of this, refer to the book 'My Lord's Secrets Revealed'.
I wholeheartedly agree with you about Sri Chinmoy's poems being a constant source of hope. Some of the simplest poems have answered some of my most difficult questions. Others have put into words flawlessly experiences that I would not be able to even begin to express. Some affect me so personally that I feel as if I were their author! (I know that many others have also had this feeling themselves.) Many times I have found his poems to be instructive but in the most subtle and gentle way possible.
I mentioned earlier that 'The Caged Bird and the Uncaged Bird' is my favorite compilation of Sri Chinmoy's poetry. One of the reasons for this is that Sri Chinmoy himself chose which poems would be included in the volume from several different books dating from 1971-1998. The selections are varied and some of the poems are very short and simple and others are rich with imagery, beauty and multiple layers of meaning.
In his short poems, Sri Chimmoy is able to say so much in so few words. This kind of 'potency' is what makes his poetry so powerful. Here are 3 examples from `The Caged Bird and the Uncaged Bird' (1998):
Man's eternal question is:
"Who is God?"
God's immediate answer is:
"My child, who else is God,
if not you?"
Though I do not know
Where this next step leads,
I do know
An unseen hand
Will guide me blessingfully
To my destination.
A FEEBLE CRY, A SWEET SMILE
A little ripple
Wakes the sea.
A tiny thought
Shakes the world.
A feeble cry
Brings the Supreme.
A sweet smile
Fulfils the Supreme.
The following are 2 longer poems from the same book:
VISIONS OF THE EMERALD-BEYOND
No more am I the foolish customer
Of a dry, sterile, intellectual breeze.
I shall buy only
The weaving visions of the emerald-Beyond.
Shall capture the Himalayan Smiles
Of my Pilot Supreme.
In the burial of my sunken mind
Is the revival of my climbing heart.
In the burial of my deceased mind
Is the festival of my all-embracing life.
PILGRIMS OF THE LORD SUPREME
We are the Pilgrims of the Lord Supreme
On the Path of Infinity.
At this time we have broken asunder
We have broken asunder the night
Of tenebrous darkness, inconscience
And the eternal, indomitable fear of death.
The Boat of the supernal Light's Dawn
Is beckoning us,
And the World-Pilot
Of the hallowed bond of Love Divine
Is beckoning us.
The Liberator's Hands are drawing us
To the Ocean of the great Unknown.
Having conquered the life-breath
Of the Land of Immortality,
And carrying aloft the Banner
Of the Lord Supreme,
We shall return:
We, the drops and flames
After reading those poems I am sure it is now clear to you why I love this book so much!
Happy reading everyone!