His Excellency Ambassador Hjálmar Hannesson

The Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations:

Dear friends, on a very beautiful day in August my wife and I visited Sri Chinmoy and friends in his Centre in Queens. We were welcomed most warmly, and it was an uplifting experience we shall not forget. We talked with him about meeting again in the New Year, and even an idea of his visiting Iceland once more was discussed.

He has, however, in the meantime embarked on a longer and more unexpected journey. The second time we visited was at the tribute to him where his body lay in wake.

I am reminded of what we are always taught in our youth in Iceland, a nation of fishermen—that life is but a journey with two certainties: our birth and our death. But what matters is what we do on that journey between these two points. And we celebrate today, with joy, the life of Sri Chinmoy. For he embodies the best in humankind: love, and work towards peace and understanding between peoples and different cultures.

As the leader of the Peace Meditations at the UN, and through his many statements and writings, there is ample evidence of his deep belief in what the UN stands for. One short example you see in this beautiful brochure here in front of you, where he writes, “To me, the United Nations is great. Why? Because it has high principles. To me, the United Nations is good. Why? Because it leaves no stone unturned to transform these principles into living realities.”

He made many journeys to Iceland, and found a great affinity with the people there. We are a country without a military. We keep saying that the work towards peace does not rely on the might of the military, but the might of the words and the quality of the ideas. And what an idea-builder and a man of the word, of the good words of love and peaceful togetherness, we are celebrating here today.

Over 70 per cent of the Parliamentarians of the Icelandic Althingi—which is the oldest living Parliament in the world, established in 930—were among those who asked the Nobel Prize Committee in Oslo to give the Peace Prize to Sri Chinmoy, the one that ex-Vice President Al Gore received. This is an indication of the effect Sri Chinmoy had and the high esteem with which we, in Iceland, hold him.

His spirit lives on. We are grateful and joyful for what he has given the world, and what he dedicated his life to. It was, indeed, a great journey.

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