A Truckload of Humanitarian Aid Sails through Customs

This is one of the stories in our Story-Gems project, a collection of our experiences with our Guru, Sri Chinmoy. Project homepage »

In 1991, Sri Chinmoy founded the Oneness-Heart Tears and Smiles humanitarian service. Among its first projects was a delivery of food and medicines to Russia (above) at the request of President Gorbachev - a project that Dr. Arthada worked on.

Once I had almost finished collecting humanitarian aid for two or three truck deliveries that were supposed to go to Russia. Before the shipping, I and many other Austrian disciples went to Celebrations, a meeting of the disciples with Guru in America.

There, Kritagyata, a nurse who collected humanitarian supplies in America, told me that she had received a huge shipment of medical supplies for Russian children’s hospitals. The transport directly from America to Russia would, however, have been financially impossible and bureaucratically extremely difficult to manage by official means.

So the idea arose that we European disciples could take all these packages in our personal luggage back to Europe. At the next large international disciple meeting, disciples from other Centres could give these packages to the disciples from Vienna. The idea was that I would then add all these medical supplies to my already planned large aid delivery.

Secretly feeling relieved, I informed Guru that it was completely absurd to even think about bringing all these countless large parcels illegally to Europe in this way without Customs finding out. These parcels were significantly more voluminous than suitcases and, moreover, immediately identifiable from the outside as medical supplies. That was probably clear to everyone, and my many years of experience only made me smile pitifully at this idea. This is why, right from the beginning, I considered this project over and done with or rather hopeless and crazy. “One problem less,” I thought, but I did not know Guru that well yet.

Kritagyata, our Oneness-Heart Tears and Smiles co-ordinator, with medicines bound for Russia

Guru had all the packages brought to the Tennis Court, our meeting place in New York, and there they were stacked up in a huge pile, or rather a little mountain. It would be charged as a whole truckload. Guru then walked around the parcels a few times while meditating and finally told us that the European disciples, of course especially those from Vienna, should take the parcels with them, and when going through Customs we should just repeat “Supreme” (God) inwardly and nothing would happen.

Dr Arthada with humanitarian aid

In fact, all parcels without exception arrived unhindered either directly in Vienna, where we loaded them into delivery vehicles, or they passed through Customs in other European countries, from where they subsequently found their way to Vienna, once again across the then-strict European borders. If that wasn’t a miracle!

By the way, in his enthusiasm, one of my closest friends, you might call him crazy, had taken three parcels with him! The large boxes took up all the space in his luggage trolley which contained no personal items. It was hardly surprising that when he pushed his luggage trolley through Customs, he was immediately noticed by the strict authorities who could hardly see him behind the huge boxes. Two uniformed men started moving in his direction. Right there and then things seemed to be over for my friend. His heart missed a beat, but then he remembered to repeat the mantra that Guru had given us.

The moment he began to inwardly scream “Supreme,” the magic word unfolded its effect. The astonishing thing was that the two Customs officers stopped and then moved backwards to where they had originally started, as if a film was being rewound. So in the end, my friend with his little mountain of boxes also passed Customs unscathed.

On one’s own personal effort
Is a dance with futility.

On God’s Grace and Oneness
And the seeker’s surrendered effort,
Is the assurance of God-Victory
In the seeker.

Sri Chinmoy 1

  • 1. Sri Chinmoy, God-Compassion and God-Justice, 42, Agni Press, 1975