Sunday 13th: Songs of Praise

...in moments like these I feel we are really doing something for the betterment of the world; I feel we are helping to inspire these luminaries to extend their abilities even further and in turn inspire more people...

Morning meditation: not good by any standards. I think the inspiration for writing this diary had been nascently ticking away all day yesterday; today it rushed consciously to the fore as soon as I woke up. As a result much of meditation was taken up with wondering how I was going to go about it. Physically I'm feeling pretty awful, and I'm half tempted to crawl back into bed. I'll just go for a short run to try and flush things out of the system. It works. Once I'm out there I just feel so much better. It is Sunday morning, and I am running through a neighbourhood lost in slumber. The morning has a fairytale quality to it, like I'm making my way through someone else's dream; in the world's busiest city, I can almost hear the silence. 

Home, shower, breakfast and then myself and Colm go down to Aspiration-Ground to help clean up the tent; Sri Chinmoy will meet a special guest today. The floor is quite dusty, but there's no vacuum cleaner, so we're just going to have to use brooms. Of course, Colm gets the better broom. And proceeds to tease me about being locked away doing maths all day and not being used to hard work. I retort that, well, all the hard work on the farm was obviously leading up to this moment of glory, so he might as well enjoy it while it lasts. Sweeping done, then we open up the tent a bit to let the sunlight in the back; it is another beautiful day.

The father of today's guest was a well-known politician, and a few years ago Sri Chinmoy composed a beautiful song in his honour as well as setting music to a few memorable quotes of his. A group of singers assemble in the driveway to practise them. I'm still a bit caught up in the chest so my singing isn't great; I join in anyway just to see how I get on, and indeed things improve as the rehearsal progresses.



I'm still in my work clothes; that won't do, I run home for a quick change and back. Guru and the guest have arrived. First Guru plays for a few minutes on his favourite instrument, the esraj. He has been called the foremost exponent in the world of this traditional Bengali instrument, and his playing has a way of getting underneath your inner being the way the tide gets underneath a boat and sets it afloat.  Then the singers are called up to do their bit. I feel such a sincere outpouring of goodwill towards the author and her father from the singers as we sing these songs. She is visibly, visibly moved. In moments like these I feel we are really doing something for the betterment of the world; I feel we are helping to inspire these luminaries to extend their abilities even further and in turn inspire more people.

Time to eat. There's no need to buy lunch; from the past couple of days alone there's been a backlog of prasad in my bag large enough to be a meal. The boys need a hand putting some equipment back into storage. Bishwas is wheeling some pretty heavy parts of an old machine away somewhere, and one of the parts topples and falls on my leg. It hurts, despite my feigned air of manly indifference. Guru comes back, and starts composing yet another song, this time in honour of a distinguished politician. This one has a rather cute twist where we hum a couple of the bars.           

Home, and grab another nap; the body is still adjusting to the time gap between Dublin and NY. I sleep for longer than intended; it is almost time for meditation by the time I wake up. At tonight's meditation we watch a video of a star-studded charity evening held a couple of days ago in New Yorkat which a song of Sri Chinmoy's was sung by a local youth choir. Some friends of Sri Chinmoy are also performing at this event; one in particular is a virtuoso sitar player. It is hard not to be impressed at the sight of her fingers whizzing up and down the fretboard; still, somehow it brings home to me how little soulful music has to do with actual techinical ability; Sri Chinmoy has just taken up the sitar, and yet five or six halting notes from his playing is enough to send me into my highest meditation....

Present tonight are a husband and wife, both long time friends of Guru; it is the husband's birthday today. Guru spontaneously composed another song in their honour, and calls us up to sing it. As we are singing it, Guru remarks to his friends: "Look at them, I only have to sing four times and they understand the song perfectly. How can I not be proud of them?".