A question came up on the inspiration site a couple of years ago, "Is the Sri Chinmoy Centre a safe place for women?" This was my reply.
Before I joined the Sri Chinmoy Centre I was a self proclaimed feminist, and proud of it. I took some feminist studies courses at University and read many books and articles by feminists. I felt the cause was significant and justified, and admired women who stood up for their beliefs. The mere mention of the word “lady” or “girl” would outrage me, even more so when women applied those words to themselves.
The problem was that the more I dived into the world of feminism, the more agitated and angry I became. My struggle for an ideal of freedom and liberation through feminist values was leaving me feeling more and more ostracised and frustrated by the world around me, discrimination was everywhere!
I am not down casting feminism as such, but only my personal experience of being a feminist. I believe that my past experiences, founded on trying to become a “free women”, were based within the confines of mental perceptions and judgement. My personal values were not from my own heart, but were founded to a great extent on the beliefs of other people. In the struggle for equality in a male-dominated society it became undeniably apparent that if there was light at the end of this tunnel, it was a very long tunnel.
I am so grateful that I found the Sri Chinmoy Centre, or rather that the Sri Chinmoy Centre found me. From a feminist perspective, the reality of having a male spiritual teacher was quite testing at first, however I felt a whole new reality dawn in my life. Some of my friends tried to dissuade me, but the spiritual values of inspiration, love and true inner freedom were undeniably light years away from what I was receiving from my feminist ideology.
Meditation and Sri Chinmoy’s Path has radically changed my perception of the world around me, enabling me to connect with my own deeper wisdom and spiritual feelings, rather than adopt a fixed belief system. I am no longer disturbed if I am treated in a discriminating way, because I feel my own value so powerfully within myself. I have a far greater love and understanding of the world, and see the inherit good in all people because I am able to see beyond the surface.
I give all credit for my inner development to Sri Chinmoy. If I have learned anything about the true value of being a woman, I have to say that it was Sri Chinmoy who gave me this awareness. I wholeheartedly agree with the woman who said that leading a spiritual life has empowered her. In no way do I feel repressed, on the contrary I have learned the true meaning of inner freedom and strength. I think that a large part of the world is afraid of spirituality, so they try to discount it’s value before they have any understanding.
Sri Chinmoy has taught me the power of inner strength. Qualities like purity, innocence, sweetness and humility are given no value in our society, and yet when we see them how beautiful they are, how powerful they are! When we feel them within ourselves how strong we feel, how happy we feel!
Sri Chinmoy has also taught me to be proud of my feminine qualities, and to have respect for masculine qualities. The Supreme created man and woman. We each have a significant role to perform here on earth, in different ways. In the past men were perhaps given more opportunity to develop spiritually, but now we each have equal opportunity. I never even think about comparing males and females anymore, we are so different! Sri Chinmoy in particular has no discriminating ideals. He emphatically loves us and encourages us to become one with our own souls, the God-representative within us all.
Is the Sri Chinmoy Centre a safe place for women? How could it possibly be unsafe?
In every way we are nurtured and protected. As a divine father to his spiritual children, Sri Chinmoy’s concern for our inner and outer safety is unprecedented and sleepless.
I do feel protected by the Sri Chinmoy Centre, and for this my gratitude is boundless. I feel protected to have Sri Chinmoy as an unconditionally loving and caring guide and friend, to live in such a beautiful world with hundreds of wonderful friends, and to have the knowledge of living consciously, in union with the Universal laws of harmony and oneness.