Farewell, Sri Chinmoy
There are as many sorts of tears as types of rain, so I found in the 48 hours following my Guru's passing. Tears of grief, sorrow, pain, shock, bewilderment, self-pity, world-pity, joy, thankfulness, wonderment, sympathy, empathy, numbness; torrents, floods, showers or steady mists.
I arrive at night to pay my respects at our outdoor meditation area, Aspiration-Ground, and I am glad of that; night glows with a softer peace than day. Many are still there at midnight, white clad, in varying states of sorrow and stoicism, but everywhere a gentleness.
Some warm themselves by a wood-burning brazier on the driveway of Aspiration-Ground. The 76-foot Record-Breaking pencil Sri Chinmoy received for his 76th birthday just weeks ago, wrapped in blue tarpaulin, still sits alongside. The world has changed much in so short a span of time.
As soon as I step inside, I know he is still here. The tangible sense of peace from his meditative presence still pervades Aspiration-Ground like an indelible fragrance. His voice still singing gently over the loud speakers as if he were just composing a new song.
White flowers spring in full bloom from low pots on the ground, candles in tall jars glowing amongst them. I wait for almost an hour before I gain the emotional strength to stand in line and offer a candle at his casket. Hundreds of them glitter there already, like a golden haze.
But it is joy I feel, to my very great surprise; only joy, for the inspiration he has given me. Pausing at a photograph of Sri Chinmoy when he was full of life and strength, I remember a moment during his birthday, that happened on the very spot on which I stand. A most beautiful warm smile from my Guru: his last outer gift to me, and one I will now treasure forever.
The next day, Sunday, many words are read out from countless luminaries; beautiful messages of support and gratitude. The trees at Aspiration-Ground weep their green tears early. The sun shines warm out of season.
Then for the first time, a song Sri Chinmoy wrote in 1974 to be sung after his Mahasamadhi:
“When I am gone away
Remember me, O children sweet,
No, not because I failed,
No, not because I cried,
No, not because I tried,
No, not because I saw my Lord in you,
No, not because I served my Lord in you,
No, not because I fulfilled my Lord in you,
No, not because I was your Pilot true,
No, not because I was your Infinite blue,
Oh, but because my life was all gratitude,
To you, to you, my sweet children, to you.”
A red, orange, gold, yellow barrow of long-stemmed roses is brought out. Each person places one at the feet and side of the casket, bloom upon bloom in a growing, shining fragrant mound. Sri Chinmoy sings the word “Gratitude” over and over through the sound system. A gong is sounded as we all pay our silent respects. The constant stream goes on for eight hours, one after another offering a last farewell.
Buckling grief returns to me then like a familiar song.
The joy is as real as the grief though, and will last longer. I hold to a little card for strength, offered to each person: a picture of Sri Chinmoy's smile and his last published poem:
“My physical death
Is not the end of my life —
I am an eternal journey.”
That is the real reality.
Dear Guru, this is not farewell; your life lives on, portioned in all who love you. May my love be as wide as the world, just as you have taught me.