On one very special occasion in 1975, Sri Chinmoy invited questions from visitors about America’s bicentennial. One boy from Boston asked about the soul’s qualities of George Washington. Guru went into trance and his face transformed into Washington’s face before our astonished eyes. His face took on the square jaw and clamped lips of the famous Gilbert Stuart portrait of our first president as he answered, “Luminous, dynamic, truth-loving and self-giving.” 1
(Sri Chinmoy’s ability to identify with another person and actually take on their qualities shows in another beloved photograph⎯one taken while he was meditating on the Christ, which radiates the humility and compassion that he felt from the Christ.)
When it was my turn, I asked the question that had haunted me that entire year, as Guru had encouraged us to participate in all the patriotic activities commemorating the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution. I asked how we can feel patriotic when the actions of the present American government seemed so out of keeping with America’s divine qualities. Only a couple of years before I had been involved in strikes and riots and demonstrations against the war in Vietnam!
Guru gave the perfect answer, one that I still find helpful today. In short, Guru said to take America as your mother and the government as your big brother. Just because you do not agree with everything your brother is doing, doesn’t mean you can’t love your mother!
America’s special strength
Lies not in frightening the weak
And challenging the strong,
But in strengthening the weak
Illumining the strong.
Sri Chinmoy 2