In 1970, Secretary-General U Thant invited Sri Chinmoy to conduct twice-weekly peace meditations for UN delegates and staff at UN Headquarters in New York. Since then, Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the United Nations, as the Group is known, has continued its meditations and has sponsored an ongoing series of programmes, lectures and concerts to promote world harmony, often in cooperation with UN Member States as well as with organizations which support the ideals and goals of the UN.
The late Secretary-General U Thant, himself a lifelong practitioner of meditation, appreciated Sri Chinmoy’s work and encouraged his efforts.
In a letter dated 10 April 1972, U Thant commented:
“You have indeed instilled in the minds of hundreds of people here the moral and spiritual values which both of us cherish very dearly. I shall always cherish the memorable occasion of our meeting at the United Nations.”
U Thant as Guest of Honour at the Premiere of Sri Chinmoy’s Play about the Buddha, 25 May 1973
A Buddhist by tradition, U Thant was guest of honour at the premiere of Sri Chinmoy’s play about the life of the Buddha, performed in Harrison, New York, on 25 May 1973. Following are excerpts from U Thant’s remarks on that occasion:
“I feel very strongly, as some of my friends know, that only by the practical application of the teachings of great religious leaders, particularly the development of the moral and the spiritual aspects of life as Sri Chinmoy has stressed in the play—love, compassion, tolerance, and the philosophy of live-and-let-live, modesty and even humility–that only with this approach, only with this method, will we all be able to fashion the kind of society we want, a truly moral society, a decent society, a livable society, which is the goal of all great religions.”
Special Meditation for U Thant, 26 November 1974
On November 26, 1974 the Peace Meditation Group held a special meditation in the Chapel of the Church Center for the United Nations in tribute to U Thant, who had passed away the previous day. In silence the Group meditated on a photograph of U Thant which stood surrounded by flowers on the altar of the Chapel. Sri Chinmoy then gave the following dedication:
Beloved Brother, man of silence, man of peace, may the Supreme grant your soul Eternity’s Silence, Infinity’s Peace.
“The passing of our beloved Brother U Thant marks the real death of a colossal hope for the twentieth century. Divinely great he was; supremely good he is. The greatness of his earth-height his body-consciousness is carrying. The goodness of his Heaven-Delight his soul has left for us, for Mother Earth to claim as her very own and treasure forever and ever.
“We, the members of the Meditation Group, have a special place for him, for our beloved Brother U Thant, in the inmost recesses of our gratitude-heart, for he has helped us unreservedly with his aspiring heart and with his illumining soul, both inwardly and outwardly. We have been extremely fortunate in being blessed by his soul’s light. I have received from him quite a few letters of deepest light and profoundest wisdom encouraging us and inspiring us to be of greater service to the soul of the United Nations and to aspiring mankind.
Tribute Lecture to U Thant, 12 December 1974
Sri Chinmoy delivered the following tribute to U Thant on 12 December 1974, as part of his continuing Dag Hammarskjöld monthly lecture series at the United Nations, held in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium at UN Headquarters in New York.
The Chosen Instrument of God
U Thant was a chosen instrument of God. U Thant was a chosen instrument of man. God gave him His Compassion-sky to offer to man. Man gave him his suffering-sea to offer to God. U Thant started his earthly sojourn as a Rangoon, Burma Buddha-son. The Absolute Supreme gradually made him into a universal Wisdom-son and a universal Blessing-gift.
For the full text of the lecture, see Tribute Lecture to U Thant, 12 December 1974
Tribute Programme and Book Launch, 21 January 1977
A tribute programme to the late Secretary-General U Thant was organized by the Peace Meditation Group on 21 January 1977, the day before what would have been his 68th birthday. U Thant’s daughter, Aye Aye Thant, and her family were present as Ambassador Zenon Rossides of Cyprus, Ambassador Piero Vinci of Italy and Deputy Under-Secretary-General for Inter-Agency Affairs Dr. Robert Muller spoke movingly about the late Secretary-General.
Held in the ECOSOC Chamber, the occasion also served as the the launch of Sri Chinmoy’s newly published book, U Thant : Divinity’s Smile and Humanity’s Cry, which contains comments and essays about U Thant by United Nations and other international figures.
For the book U Thant: Divinity’s Smile and Humanity’s Cry, see U Thant : Divinity’s Smile and Humanity’s Cry
Presentation of U Thant Peace Award to Daw Aye Aye Thant, 28 June 2007
On 28 June 2007, Sri Chinmoy had the honour of presenting the U Thant Peace Award to Daw Aye Aye Thant, U Thant’s daughter, at Aspiration-Ground meditation garden in Queens. Accompanying her was her husband, Tyn Myint-U.
Following are excerpts from Aye Aye’s remarks after the presentation:
“I am really very, very grateful to Sri Chinmoy and to all of you…our long-time friends and new friends from the Peace Meditation at the United Nations. It brings back a lot of cherished memories.
“I would like to extend my gratitude to Sri Chinmoy for honouring the memory of my father…with the U Thant Peace Award. I extend my appreciation to you for your dedication to world peace by advocating the virtues of tolerance, compassion and mutual understanding.
“Meditation also helped him in his day-to-day function as the Secretary-General. He practised meditation with great devotion. He believed in the importance of having inner peace through meditation before being able to work for peace.
“My father shared with Sri Chinmoy the value of spiritual development as taught in all great religions: the key to creating the peaceful society.
“My father would have been so happy that you all have continued the spiritual journey towards the goal of world peace.”
Memorial Tribute by Daw Aye Aye Thant, 30 October 2007
During the Celebration of the Life of Sri Chinmoy, held at the United Nations on 30 October 2007, Daw Aye Aye Thant, daughter of Secretary-General U Thant and Founder and President of the U Thant Institute, offered a tribute. Below is excerpt with link to fuller text:
“I am greatly honoured to have this opportunity to pay my respect and offer solemn tribute to Sri Chinmoy as we celebrate his life…. In the truest sense, his life represented the best thought, most far reaching vision and outstanding artistic and practical accomplishments.
“I met Sri Chinmoy some 35 years ago in the spring of 1973 at the premiere of the play Siddhartha Becomes the Buddha, written by Sri Chinmoy, in Harrison, New York, with my father attending. …we were embraced by the spiritual energy of the play and the presence and serenity of two people who practised loving kindness towards all human beings throughout their lives. We were warmed by the spirit of compassion and love. We were in harmony with our surroundings.
“Later we were together taking a boat ride to the dedication of U Thant Island. … our spirit was joyous and fulfilled. … in Bangkok, Thailand,…Sri Chinmoy lifted our whole family there. My children would never forget that experience! …
“It was my father’s and Sri Chinmoy’s shared vision for world peace based on the ideals of tolerance and compassion that had brought mutual respect and admiration between them.