Recollections on Sri Chinmoy: September 11
- It's hard to believe eleven years have passed since September 11, 2001. I recall I was working at Oneness-Fountain-Heart that morning, stocking the waiters' refrigerator with cokes and sprites, when the cook rushed in and told me that a plane had struck the World Trade Center. We kept our restaurant open the whole day. The restaurant, with its calming blue colors, beautiful fountains and videos of Guru meditating or playing instruments was like an oasis, not only for the customers but also for us employees.
The thing I most remember from that day and the few weeks that followed, was the incredible sweetness of the New York people. Such heart! Such courage! I'll never forget the feeling of family and oneness that spread over the city and lasted for a long time.
During the first three or four days after September 11, however, I was in a state of total shock. I couldn't meditate, I could just think of the unthinkable tragedy and loss.
The Saturday following the disaster, we had our regular Saturday night meeting at Aspiration-Ground. Guru offered a most soulful and beautiful message in tribute to the victims and also in honor of the self-giving soul of America. He also offered his deepest gratitude to the Supreme that everybody in our spiritual family was ok. He had Paree's group come up and sing "Rakhe Krishna Mare Ke, Mare Krishna Rakhe Ke", an ancient Indian saying which he had set to music. It has to do with trusting God and leaving ourselves in His care. It is a most haunting and comforting song.
At the end of the meditation, we had a walk-past. I had been unable to absorb Guru's reassuring words because I was still so shaken. But as I passed by him, Guru leaned forward and said into the microphone, "Remain happy. If you can stay happy, then the forces will not be able to do anything. Remain happy."
I don't want Sri Chinmoy's words to be misinterpreted here. He was absolutely not saying that we should be happy over that catastrophe! He was just saying that we have to bring our spirituality forward when terrible things happen. We do this through our inner happiness, which implies praying, meditating and trying to inspire the people around us.
Through maintaining our spiritual happiness, we keep ourselves centered. When he talks about "forces" he's referring to the wild, ignorant forces that want to keep us in a state of panic and anguish. We can make big mistakes when we lose our inner balance. It just becomes a spiral. Poise, calmness and dignity are the best ways to meet tragedy and disaster, no matter the scale. And that's one of the most valuable life lessons I ever learned from my Master.
"The inner worlds
And the outer world
Are clashing and crashing together.
Yet my Beloved Lord Supreme
Has kept me
--Sri Chinmoy, "My Christmas-New Year-Vacation-Aspiration-Prayers part 14"
- Great post Mahiruha! and thanks especially for that most powerful aphorism. How often have we all felt that clashing and crashing, and how comforting to know that it's all OK.