Sri Chinmoy starts his chapter on “Wisdom” in The Jewels of Happiness by making a distinction between wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is the accumulation of information; although useful in its place, it is clearly of less value than wisdom, which is harder to define. Wisdom, according to one dictionary definition, is “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting, insight.” So one element of wisdom lies in the ability to make good choices.
In his poems and aphorisms, Sri Chinmoy offers us pithy but profound guidance on how to make good choices. The following poems are selections from his writings on the topics of the wisest ways to relate to oneself, others, and the world at large.
How to relate to oneself:
Do you want to show your strength?
Then prove to the world
That your own negative thoughts and ideas
Are no match for you. ((Part 37, #3630.))
Once we master the art
Of going beyond ourselves,
Nothing any longer
Can create any problem.
Indeed, this is a supreme discovery. ((Part 12, #1152.))
I measured my success
By competing with others.
I measure my success
By competing with myself.
I shall measure my success
By expanding my heart
To encompass others. ((Part 16, #1598.))
Do you want to be always happy?
Then give up fighting
And learn the beautiful art
Of self-encouragement. ((Part 12, #1120.))
How to relate to others:
If you want to free yourself
From the constant demands of others
Then immediately learn the art
Of commanding yourself. ((Part 31, #3006.))
Be not afraid
Of destructive actions by others.
But be afraid
Of your own reaction to them. ((Part 18, #1716.))
I am not needed
To say the right thing.
I am only required
To be the right thing. ((Part 10, #935.))
The human life is nothing
A prison of misunderstandings.
How can we escape?
We can escape
Through the self-giving windows. ((Part 9, #875.))
How to relate to the world at large:
Yesterday I was clever
That is why
I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise.
That is why
I am changing myself. ((Part 28, #2701.))
Only two miracles are worth seeing:
The miracle of loving
The miracle of forgiving. ((Part 66, #6595.))
You will know
What the human life
Is all about.
You will know
What the divine life
Is all about. ((Part 20, #1956.))
Self-mastery and God-discovery
Are the only two things
That each human being on earth
Must take seriously.
Everything else can be taken lightly. ((Part 30, #2928.))
These poems were all originally published in Sri Chinmoy’s first large series of aphorisms, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames. Writing with the inspiration provided by his access to his Inner Pilot, this series consists of 100 volumes (parts), each with 100 poems, for a total of 10,000 poems altogether. The series was published between 1979 and 1983. It took Sri Chinmoy only five years to write them all; it took me one full year to read them all!
(Commentary and poem selections by Bhadra Kleinman; the photo is of a 1985 painting by Sri Chinmoy)