Sri Chinmoy's meeting with President De Valera

Aras an Uachtaráin
June 15, 1973

At 12:20 p.m., Colonel McNamara, the President’s aide-de-camp. escorted me into the President’s room and introduced me to the President. The President stood up and said, “Mr. Sri Chinmoy, please come in.”

I said to the President, “Dear President, I am so grateful to you for granting me the great opportunity of visiting you.”

The President replied, “Mr. Chinmoy, I would like to have a long, long talk with you about spiritual matters. But I am afraid time will not permit me, for today for I have a few more interviews to give today. Anyway, please sit down.”

I asked the President to please be seated first. So he sat down and I followed. He then asked me to come closer to him, for he could not see very well. “Mr. Chinmoy, do you believe in the New Testament?” he asked me. “I believe in each word of the New Testament.”

I replied, “I have implicit faith in the New Testament.”

“I see. In that case, we can have a heart-to-heart talk,” he said. “First of all, I would like to ask you a few questions from the Bible. Why did the Lord choose Abraham and such a little place as Palestine?

“Some people are under the impression that the Christ chose to be a descendant of Abraham,” I replied. “But the Son Himself did not choose Abraham and Palestine. It was His Father who made the choice for Him.”

“Why did the Father do that?” ‘The Father saw abundant faith in Abraham’s inner life and tremendous obedience in his outer life. And He chose Palestine because it happens that a small and insignificant place is usually more effective for the spiritual Masters to operate in. Usually the spiritual Masters choose to start out in a small place, and from there they enter into the wider world.”

“I am so happy to hear that. Now do you not think the crucifixion of our Lord was a terrible thing?”
“From the human point of view, the crucifixion was undoubtedly a terrible thing. But from the divine point of view it was something unavoidable, inevitable and, at the same time, most significant.”

“In what sense was it most significant?” “It was most significant in this sense: that the Christ’s sacrifice of His own life accelerated the progress of humanity and brought humanity closer to God”.

“Is it so? I am so happy to hear that. Now why did He say, ‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’ And also, why did He say. ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do’? Isn’t this contradictory?”

“To me, this is not contradictory at all. These statements were made: from two different planes of consciousness. When He said, ‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’ it was the human in Him that spoke. When He said, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,’ it was the divine in Him that spoke.”

“How is it that one cannot have only the divine and not also the human, especially in the case of the Lord?”

“When the Lord takes a human form, He has at times to adopt human ways and means. If He does not, humanity will say, ‘You are the Lord, You are God. That is why everything is possible for You. For us mortals, there is no hope.’ The Lord plays the role of a helpless human being so that He can make human beings feel that they, too, can eventually become as great as He is. Here His human life greatly inspires mankind to strive for the Heavenly Heights.”

“I am extremely grateful to you for giving me this wisdom. People don’t understand what kind of suffering our Lord has gone through.”

‘’That is true, absolutely true. Just two days ago, I gave a talk at Cambridge. Two students who were anti-Christ asked me hostile questions about the Christ. One of them said to me, ‘Why did the Christ say, “I am the only way”? How can He be the only way?’ I justified the Lord’s message by saying that what the Lord meant in His message was that aspiration was the only way - the only way of reaching Heaven, and Heaven is salvation. When the Lord is on earth, He becomes one with aspiration; and when He is in Heaven, He becomes one with salvation. When He goes to Heaven, He carries earth to Heaven with aspiration; and when He comes to earth, He brings down salvation from Heaven.”

“What is the thing that you admire most in the Christ?”

“I admire two things most: His Compassion and Love.”

“Love! Don’t use that word. In my whole life I have never understood what it actually means. Human love is all confusion.”

“It is absolutely true. Human love is all confusion, but divine Love is all illumination. Human love binds. Divine Love expands. We experience this truth only when we enter into the spiritual life. “

“In this life, I won’t have the time to try and experience divine Love.”

“Why not, dear President? I pray to the Almighty to grant you at least nine more years (at that time, President de Valera was almost 91 years of age) to stay on earth and offer your light and wisdom to the world. And I wish to tell you that you have already experienced divine Love from your tremendous struggle and sacrifice for your country. Sacrifice is a form of divine Love. Suffering for the independence of one’s country is nothing but divine Love.

“By the way, our Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian nation, said to his countrymen when Ireland achieved its independence, ‘What is wrong with us? If Ireland can achieve independence, what is wrong with us? Ireland is so close to England, whereas we are so far from that country. So it is much easier for us to win independence.’”

“Ah, your Gandhi was really a wise man. He was undoubtedly wiser than I. He preached non-violence and lived non-violence. I resorted to violence like a fool. Violence is not the answer.”...

...At this point, I offered President de Valera copies of some of my books. He expressed deep gratitude and said that although he could not himself read them, being almost blind, he would ask his wife to read them to him. Then Colonel McNamara came in and said, “President, some people are waiting for you and they have been waiting for a long time.”

The President again wanted to continue talking but I said, “I am extremely grateful to you, dear President, for this interview.”
“I am also grateful to you for illumining me and encouraging me in the evening of my life,” he said. “It is very rare that a spiritual person like you comes to visit me. Where are your hands? Come closer to me, please. I cannot see you. My vision is very poor.”

“God has denied you outer vision but He has granted you inner vision and He is increasing the power of that vision day by day. I see this in your ever-increasing love and compassion for your country.”

The President was so deeply moved that he grasped my hands and kissed them with much emotion and affection. Then he stood up to bid me farewell and asked Colonel McNamara to show me all the rooms in the palace.