What Sri Chinmoy's Canadian students have done this year....
Sri Chinmoy sometimes described his spiritual path as having two wings. The first wing is aspiration - drawing closer to God through meditation, prayer and other spiritual disciplines. The other wing Sri Chinmoy called manifestation - connecting with the Universal Consciousness through sharing peace, joy and love with the world.
Purnakama Rajna, a grade school teacher and student of Sri Chinmoy from Winnipeg, reports on some of the many projects Sri Chinmoy's Canadian students worked on this year:
Despite the vastness of our beautiful country, and often long distances between our Sri Chinmoy Centres, Canada’s oneness-heart has come together to engage in many different types of manifestation recently.
The largest and most recent project was the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, a bi-annual torch relay that finds runners from the Sri Chinmoy centers worldwide lacing up and hitting the open road. As they carry a flaming Peace Torch across the miles, they also meet with people in the communities that they run through and deliver a simple message: Peace begins with me.
The people that they meet with also get a chance to hold the Peace Torch and make their own silent wish for peace.
This year the North American leg of the Peace Run visited Canada, the USA and Mexico. The Canadian part of the North American Peace Run did not cover all of Canada, but it did cover a large portion. It started on the west coast in June when the Peace Run team visited and had many wonderful events in Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia. The largest event that the Peace Run was involved in there was called Hands Across the Border, which took place at Peace Arch Park at the border between British Columbia and Washington. It was an event organized by the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and it saw hundreds of children from both Canada and the United States meeting with the Peace Run team, making their own paper torches, and sharing their wishes for peace.
After dipping down into the United States following the west coast visit, the team came back into Canada around Niagara Falls Ontario, and then travelled all the way to Halifax, Nova Scotia stopping at many towns and cities along the way over a three-week period. The team was very fortunate to be hosted by the Sri Chinmoy centers in Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax, on their stay in those cities.
Just like Canada’s many waterways, the Peace Run was like a river flowing with amazing events in each community, from meeting hundreds of children at day camps, planting a peace tree, meeting with city, community and religious leaders, and the grand finale, marching in a parade in Halifax with 40,000 people lining the streets as we marched by with the Peace Run banner.
Being lucky enough to have been one of the participants on the Peace Run, I can say that it was one of the most light filled, joy filled experiences I have ever had.
The Peace Run team did not make it to Winnipeg this year, but the center there came together and organized an event, which saw many children run with the Peace Torch to City Hall to meet the mayor. Mayor Bowman graciously welcomed the children and the local team and gave a very inspiring talk about peace and oneness.
Running is a very important part of Sri Chinmoy’s path, and while the Peace Run was happening in July, another running manifestation was happening in Ottawa at the same time.
On July 28th, the 37th annual 24 hour race took place in Ottawa. Also included in this was a 12 hour and a 6 hour race. This is one of many ultra-running races that are organized by Sri Chinmoy centers around the world and open to any runners in the community who have a passion for running. Started in 1981, the race is the longest-running 24 hour race in the world and also the world's oldest timed ultra race.
Putting on a race of this caliber is no small feat, but this year it was made even more challenging as many of the helpers from the nearby centers who usually volunteer were busy with the Peace Run, and so they had to make do with far fewer volunteers than they are used to. Despite this disadvantage, the Ottawa center rallied together and put on a fantastic race once again.
September 21st was the United Nations Day of Peace. As Sri Chinmoy used to lead twice weekly meditations at the United Nations, many meditation centers around the world like to mark this day with some type of special event.
In Rome they had an exhibition of children’s artwork at the Colisseum to celebrate and commemorate this day. The artwork came from children from all over the world who expressed their own wishes for peace through their art pieces. Hundreds of children from Canada from four different provinces also sent their art to be shown at this exhibition. Many of the summer day camps that were visited on the Peace Run embraced the project and spoke to the children about the motto of the Peace Run - "Peace begins with me".
Their artwork was one powerful way to express that motto and to show the world the true meaning of peace through the heart of a child.
Also on September 21st, several disciples from the Ottawa center took the Peace Torch to Parliament Hill. No matter what time of year, the Canadian Parliament is host to many tourists, so on September 21st many of those tourists from across the country and around the world had the wonderful opportunity to hold the Peace torch and make their own silent wish for peace.
Sri Chinmoy was a prolific songwriter, so it comes as no surprise that music plays a very important role in our meditation centers. In Canada we have many musicians and singers who perform at many different events around the world.
Sangit Surabhi, a group of female musicians and singers recently performed in Montenegro on a special Christmas trip attended by disciples, as well as in New York in June and August for a special gathering of disciples there. They also regularly perform for meditation classes in Ottawa and Montreal.
Audio: Sangit Surabhi sing a song composed by Sri Chinmoy about the Christ - taken from a performance on Christmas Day, Montenegro 2017.
Pavaka from Montreal is our wandering troubadour who performs regularly with a concert series called Songs of the Soul, which features musicians and singers from around the world. The concerts are offered free of charge to the public and showcase Sri Chinmoy’s music as interpreted by different disciple musical groups. Most recently Pavaka attended a very successful concert tour in Brazil where he offered his talents on guitar, vocals, and bass.
Audio: A recording of Sri Chinmoy's music by Pavaka's group
And of course, as with Sri Chinmoy centers around the world, offering free meditation classes is one of the most important and constantly ongoing manifestations that we do. Every center puts on their own classes, but sometimes we are fortunate enough to have guest speakers come in from centers from around the globe. In September, the Ottawa and Montreal centers welcomed Prachar from Australia who gave a series of dynamic talks to seekers about meditation.
As well as hosting guest class-givers, we also sometimes send class-givers abroad to give a fresh perspective on meditation classes. Shishir from Winnipeg will be heading to the Ukraine and parts of Europe in early 2019 for a four-week class giving tour. His lively and friendly approach is always well received, and he has become quite a popular guest speaker.
Utsahi from Ottawa, Canada also travelled to give classes in 3 cities in France this year. Ascharjya from France had this to say:
Utsahi, a student of Sri Chinmoy's since 1987, has been publishing articles and books since he accepted a professor’s position in the mid-1980's. He also created and is still directing a scientific journal. He has lectured on social sciences around the world, and participated frequently in the Parliament of the World's Religions, notably in Barcelona, Salt Lake City, Melbourne and this year in Canada.
Utsahi is also the owner of a small gift shop, The Garden of Light, whose name was given by Sri Chinmoy when it first opened in 1999. He is a lover of Nepal, where he regularly goes shopping and offers meditation workshops, and from where he brings back his famous singing bowls, sometimes very old and expensive! It is a pleasure for him to make them vibrate and sing during his lectures and meditation workshops.
During his meditation workshops, he also draws from his experience as a father and from his profession, which puts him in contact with people who, by their culture, their education and/or their life experience, are victims of marginalization and social exclusion. His classes are full of anecdotes, tinged with humor and enhanced by his charming Canadian accent. The classes in France were very successful, with 67 people attending in Nancy, a record for this city. Utsahi also offered three classes in Paris and then moved on to Montpellier for a final series of three lecture in France.