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Sri Chinmoy's first European Lecture Tour - 50th Anniversary
50 years ago, during the winter of 1970, Sri Chinmoy made his first European Lecture Tour, offering several university talks at prestigious universities around the UK, Ireland, France and Switzerland.
His first university talk was at the ancient city of Canterbury, at the University of Kent with the title "Is death the end?" Other university lectures included "How to conquer fear" in Paris and "The University" at Oxford's Keble College
In these early talks, Sri Chinmoy sought to demystify spiritual philosophy, concentrating not on the meaning of ancient slokas, but offering a practical and direct understanding of the world and spiritual life we face. The talks combined both a deep philosophy, and simple language which is relatable to the audience.
As well as giving lectures Sri Chinmoy began the talk with a short meditation and, after the talk, invited questions on spiritual topics. The talks were well received by audiences of up to 300, with many attendees offering comments of appreciation after the talk; a common observation was how Sri Chinmoy appeared to be imbued with peace, even whilst giving the talk and answering a variety of questions.
"Aspiration. What do we mean by this term? The inner cry, the mounting flame within us. Aspiration is reality’s constant necessity.
Receptivity. How can we have receptivity? We can have receptivity if we grow into purity and sincerity. When sincerity and purity loom large and important in our earthly existence, then we can easily have receptivity."
- Sri Chinmoy, "The Higher Worlds", University of Cambridge, 23 Nov 1970.
During these university talks, Sri Chinmoy also established his first European meditation centres. After the talk, seekers often came up to Sri Chinmoy to say they were moved by his talk and would like to become his disciple. Some of the earliest Sri Chinmoy centres were established at this time, including Janaka and Janani Spence who helped to found the first Scottish centre in Glasgow - a Sri Chinmoy Centre, which continues to this day.
In Ireland, Sri Chinmoy's arrival was covered by the Irish press, which published interviews with him in four major newspapers. Sri Chinmoy gave also gave a talk on "Attachment and Detachment" at Trinity College, Dublin on the 1 December. Sundar Dalton, who was present at that first talk mentioned how he went out of curiosity on the encouragement of a friend, but on entering the lecture hall felt.
"Sri Chinmoy had a strong spiritual vibration I had never experienced before. I felt he was truly sincere and found myself wanting to continue. After the talk, we went to a small room at the top of Trinity College, where we meditated with Sri Chinmoy."
Sundar Dalton helped found an early Dublin Centre, before moving to Paris and then New York, where he has been a disciple of Sri Chinmoy for the past 50 years.