Astana, Kazakhstan – Questions with Davidson Hepburn – 26 July 2012

Filed under 2 or more | asia-oceana

Some members of the Peace Meditation at the United Nations were able to travel to Kazakhstan in 2012 to be on hand for a number of events including:

  • Welcoming the: “World Harmony and Peace Run. An International Torch Relay Run from Europe  meeting up in Astana with the team from Asia- Pacific. The two teams had began in their respective regions many months before.
  • Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Kazakhstan joining the United Nations.

See report and photos at:  Kazakhstan, Astana, East meets WEST  25 July 2012

Dr. Davidson Hepburn was a Main speaker on 25th July in Astana. He had recently (2009 – 2011) been the President of the General Conference of United Nations Educational , Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) , when he had offered a video message in support of the 25th Anniversary of these runs. It was available in 25 languages. It was also a special treat for many because Dr. Hepburn had first begun attending the events of the Peace Meditation  at the United Nations in New York when he served as the Permanent Representative of the Bahamas for a decade during the 1970′s and 80′s.

The following evening July 26, 2012, Dr Hepburn met again with the organizers of the runs and some of the participants from other countries. (see below)

The runners were very interested in Dr. Hepburn’s early involvement with the events in New York and his association with Sri Chinmoy starting in the 1970′s. The founder of the World Harmony and Peace Runs (Sri Chinmoy) was also the leader of the Peace Meditation Group at the U.N. since its founding in 1970.


A very nice exchange took place. More details of that event are below.


There was also an opportunity for Dr. Hepburn and the other guests to review some of the Art that was  created for related events

 Hello Friend ” in different languages.


Art for Peace and Harmony created


by Children

and part of exhibit:


This one showed the dress of various cultures from different regions – sharing the peace and harmony torch.


In the evening – meeting with the local supporters and participants of WHR run and other visiting or local students and friends of Sri Chinmoy.

Short performances

  • Bahamas motto by young boys.
  •  Music – Grand Bahamas
  • Initial Slides form the 25th Jul event
  • Looking at the Peace and Harmony run displays of events from around the world

Davidson Hepburn Shares his impressions and an exchange of questions and answers with the run participants.


Good evening Friends, I really don’t know where to begin.

It is very difficult to put in words …I am very honoured and pleased to be here.

I had the vision in my mind that I would be able to come to Kazakhstan.

I became familiar with many countries of the world because of my position in UNESCO. And I had fond thoughts of this place but by my being here exceeded what I had in my mind.

The city is very welcoming. You see the flowers everywhere, the colours, the kind of greeting they send to you as an individual. When I landed that was the greatest shock of my life; to find that you had got up out of your beds so early to come to the airport, to welcome me here.


There isn’t anything that I can say to you to give you the true feeling that I have for you in my heart.

I know not all of you come from Kazakhstan, but since we are her for the double purpose, it is easier for me to simply just speak of Kazakhstan. And you consider yourself to be a part of this city as well.

I was very happy to visit the “Palace of Peace” yesterday and to learn how that was put together.


And I think it fits beautifully in to what you were doing in terms of the idea and the people of Kazakhstan are doing in terms of sharing.

And then today I went to the Museum, which in my estimation is a learned place. Most people don’t understand the role museums play. But I think it does a very good job in helping to bring people closer together.

Now I am going to change my tactic here.

I will tell you something briefly about why I am here. Many years ago (I think 1979, before most of you were born) I met Sri Chinmoy and this kind of thing that is happening to me began then.

I am speaking of him in the present, most people say he was. He “is “, in my estimation still among us in his spirit. I think he has left a great deal of energy and desire to promote harmony and peace in the world. He was a musician, he was a philosopher a poet. And I remember on some occasions when I went to the meditation park (aspiration Ground) he would simply call the singers up. And Say this is what you are going to sing. What I liked, he wrote in 19 flats? And if you know anything about music, that is one of the most difficult keys in the world.

He taught me a number of things. But one the most important things he taught me was how to be patient, how to be humble. And how to recognize that all peoples in the world, are one. There is no separation in terms of how you think. So it doesn’t matter what people may feel or think about you, we are all the same. And that is what he preached: over and over again. And that has stayed with me. I haven’t reached the point where I am totally helpful to other people but I am striving.


(Speaking about feeling of spreading peace and harmony) It is somewhat scary, when you go into a situation and you find so many people who are on the same page , who are of the same accord. Who are all ready and willing to do the same thing. And it makes you wonder why this cannot spread, more rapidly throughout the world. But I learned that it is not necessary for it to go everywhere. So long as we are connecting with each other. We are doing our job, helping to move peace and harmony forward.

Among the many things that he did that touched me deeply was one where I was surprised.

I don’t like surprises. I don’t like to be in a situation where someone is going to surprise me. And I do remember some years ago, he came to the Bahamas. It was on my birthday and I was sitting there and we had done what we had to do. And in walked someone with a big chocolate cake for my birthday and I was dumfounded. I was struck. I couldn’t say anything; because I don’t like to celebrate birthdays. I feel there is no good reason to feel happy because you are getting older. (Laughter)

Amb. Hepburn had shared part of this story during a visit on 10 April 201 at Aspiration Ground in NY.

“I have been in connection with you for a long time. Here is one of the simple, simple things that happened as far as what my friend Sri Chinmoy did:

We had a meeting in the Bahamas when they were trying so hard to get the Peace – Harmony Run going, and we were having some difficulties … I was sitting in the hotel, and Sri Chinmoy came in. He had brought a big chocolate cake for my birthday.

(see photo below)


I was really moved, even though I don’t like chocolate! [Laughter] That was the first time that I had a slice of a chocolate cake and really enjoyed it. “

I think it was Shakespeare who said: if Music be the boon of Gods, play on. I have in my home, from my last visit, where he (Sri Chinmoy) wrote a piece of music just for me. Someone took a photograph, and had it blown up over size. I have it on my wall so that every time I look at it I think of you, I think of the joy and the love that you poured into this programme.

And I feel encouraged to go on – because sometimes you run into so many difficulties out there. And you wonder why in the world am I striving to bring people together. When no one really cares . but I look at that picture…(I am inspired)

The one question that comes to my mind, all the time and especially since I am here in Kazakhstan…And I wonder whether I am returning the love that I feel from all of you. Every time I come to one of these occasions I feel a sense of belonging, I feel as though I am at home. And even though I couldn’t call your names one by one, You have a special place in my heart.

You are so thoughtful, you are so kind, you think of everything. The one thing that touched me deeply as I came in here, besides the greeting that I had, was when the fine young boys came up. I wondered what they were going to sing. But they didn’t sing, they repeated our (Bahamas) motto. That to me is the most thoughtful things that you could do. And I hope that we in the Bahamas are not playing in words, and we do move forward and upward together because that is what this is all about.

Панорама-910-727-with 4-boys-who ewcited b

(Dr, Hepburn with some of the children who had performed his Country, the Bahamas, Motto earlier to begin the evening performance.)

I am not going to say anything else except to express my deep thanks, my deep appreciation, and gratitude to all of you for making it possible for me to be here and to celebrate with Kazakhstan its 20th Anniversary and also celebrate with the World Harmony Peace run, which I think, is the connecting link to whatever we do here. You should be very proud of this occasion. And I hope that it will long live, and make you stronger and more prepared to continue the work you have started.

D.H. : Spasiba (thank you)

Adhiratha Keefe: Before we ask some question I have a short story about Davidson.

D. Hepburn : I don’t think you should allow him to tell any short stories: laughter


AK: The Peace Meditation at he U.N. had an International Day of Thanksgiving and we invited countries representative who where celebrating their 5th, 10th or their 20th anniversary of being at the UN.  Ambassador Hepburn was one of the representative who responded.

I was 30 years younger and quite a bit inexperienced. I had enthusiasm but sometimes not much wisdom. We printed the program the night before with all the ambassadors’ names who were scheduled to speak on the day. One of the permanent representative of a country came up to me just before the programme started. And pointed out that there was a mistake. He said you have here Ambassador Hepburn Davidson. And I said yes Ambassador Davidson. He said that is the problem. My name is reversed, I am Davidson Hepburn. I was horrified. The programme was printed and in everybody’s hands. So I said when I introduce you, I will introduce you correctly? He said that will be fine.

So I did that. But when you first meet Davidson Hepburn, he has so much gravitas, depth and grace that I didn’t know if it was really alright. The programme when very well, but I was still a little nervous that maybe I had offended a Permanent Representative.

So I told Guru Sri Chinmoy all about it. He looked at me and said he thought “Ambassador Hepburn was a nice man.” And a day later (I think it wasn’t 24 hours) we received the most beautiful letter we had received from a Permanent Representative. It was from Davidson Hepburn. So we showed Guru Sri Chinmoy and he said something like: “See, he is a nice man.” (laughter clapping)


A.K. Now we will have some questions and answers.

D.H.  One of the interesting things about meeting like these when there are no questions, It means you understood everything that was said. And there is nothing else to say.

S. Karlin: I was speaking yesterday in the public meeting about dreams. I was wondering what are your dreams still. You are at a certain age you have seen everything, what are the dreams in your heart for the world.

DLH : That is one of the problems , because I am a dreamer. So it is not any one dream that I have. It is the a strong desire for people to — and I say this on a number of occasions – and I said it yesterday (at public event) – for people to let their differences work for them and not against them. That is my thing – because we tend to make issues where there are no issues. Because we are not able to recognize the fact that you can be different, I can be different and yet we all a have a point where we meet. I am always dreaming of this kind of thing. And I think in many cases it is coming. Because when I come here and I met you, I see that my dreams are being fulfilled. Really!

DLH: Thank you very much

Question : Mr. Davidson , Please for how many years have you worked with the UN, UNESCO and International Organizations.?

DLH: About 23 years combined . I came into that by Accident really. I wasn’t that it was my intention. And this is where Sri Chinmoy helped me a great deal. Because I was in a world where people were not ready and willing to work together and I am a very impatient person. And he taught me patience. I am still not totally there but I am much better than I used to be. There is saying that if the United Nations did not exist we would have to invent it.

It is coming now full circle, when I first started it was with all these high level people from their governments dealing with political issues and nobody had that human relationship. But now I think it’s coming into that where they are recognizing that you don’t need only lawyers and politicians and business people. You need people who have a sense of humanity, a sense of how to deal with philosophical and spiritual issues.

I want to thank you for what you said about my remarks bringing a greater kind of understanding of what it means

I only hope I can live up to what you said to me yesterday.

Maybe somebody can answer a question from me. What makes you continue to do this run? From Europe and Asia and Africa. And then it meets at a certain place and everybody seems to be even more willing to go . What makes you develop this kind of strength and fortitude.

Amir: We have some answers for you.

I am Siberia (Omsk?) Russia, and first thank you for the question. And the reason it makes me do this every time and again and again, is that when we run through cities and towns throughout the world, we see children touching the torch and passing on something from one to another. And I really hope and feel that when they do this they benefit from it in a sense and feel the link with all of us.

DLH Spasiba (Russian for thank you)


DLH: You both mentioned something that I forgot to say, and that is the role the children play in all of this. I think that if we forget to use then in what it is that we are doing we are going to be losing the battle. I just sometimes wonder when I look at you and I see this lovely smile on your faces and everything. I think there must be some times when you become discouraged and think I just can’t do this anymore.

Amir: they shake their heads.

Another person speaks – but only private translation –to DH ear. (will need interpretation)

DLH: I just want to say , being here, and in the other places that I have been you have given me the ammunition I need to fight against all the disagreements and disappoints that people present. And it makes life simple. I have I guess maybe a month of storage from being here. So I am going to be a wonderful person, for the next month.

Amir translator unsure how to translate – looks to guidance to DLH whether to translate latterly?


DLH To Amir: You can say that their presence fills me with the kind of determination to do more than I have been doing. And I store up what I get from you and I think I have a months storage so I am going to be good person, a better person for a whole month.

Question : you are 79, you look like 50 at most, so how do you manage to do that?

DLH: You are responsible for the way I look. (applause)

DLH: what is your next step? Where do you go from here? Are you going back home? Or are going to continue to go on to another city, another town, another village?

Audience deciding how to answer (different people, going different places)

DLH: Well, there is one more story that I should tell you. When I first started attending the Meditation Group (at the UN) and getting to know the (UN) Singers and the meditation Group singers. And I was invited for lunch and I had no idea about this word “vegetarian”, For me it meant … I don’t know how anybody could be vegetarian. I shied away from this. I said “ I can’t eat this”, “I can’t eat that” . And I went to two or Three restaurants in Queens, where I first tried it.

The best food I have ever had was in a vegetarian place. The Cuisine is delicious and it is healthy. So my whole perspective was changed. I am not going to become a vegetarian but I can tell you that it has great merit.


DLH: Really, Thank you, Thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart, for your support, for your love and for everything you are doing to help us become a oneness – world. Thank you.

All Sing: My own Gratitude Heart is all that Maters . English then in Russian

there was time to look at some of the panels


that had illustrated the runs




in various regions


and to have pictures with the torch and Davidson:





Click on image below for larger or different resolution Photo – Image;