Things tend to get pretty hectic from the word go around here. After meditation, we're straight out the door to the starting line of the 2-mile race that is held every Saturday morning. I've been keeping up some semblance of running over the winter, but nothing that will lend itself to a fast time today; it'll be interesting to see what happens here. The weather is pretty ideal for running actually; it's threatening to rain, but it seems to have held off for the moment.
As I jog to the starting line, the peaceful familiarity of my surroundings seeps into me, it is so nice to be here again.....
The start catches me slightly further back from the start than I'd like to be, so there's a bit of time spent dodging slower runners. In one way it's good because, it means for the first bit I'm passing people out all the time. I don't know how to pace myself because I simply haven't been running races in so long. But all is well and I'm just enjoying myself, just enjoying the feeling of going fast which I haven't really experienced in a while....My shoe is about to fall off, which necessitates a stop to tie my laces, and then I'm off again. Things get a bit tough in the last quarter, but by then that unwilling part of me I keep fighting against when I run can sense that the end is not far off, and duly quietens down a bit. 12:09 - not exactly the most magnificent time in the world, but I'm not complaining.
The rain is bucketing down by the time I arrive at the meditation ground; the meditations take place on a converted tennis court, which is of course uncovered. I enter to be met with a sea of ponchos and umbrellas. We all take it in turns to come up to Sri Chinmoy in small groups; he meditates on the group and then altogether we sing one of the prayerful songs he has composed. Slowly, the strains of life back home, those small little obstructions to happiness, just ease away...
Then he asks all the singers who know a particular song to come down and sing it. The song is called "1931" - named after the year in which Sri Chinmoy was born. Guru, always looking to inspire those of advancing years through his own feats, has thought of a novel idea - honoring people who were also born in 1931 by inviting them along to a special celebration to be held on Tuesday. As part of the celebration, Sri Chinmoy asks Prachar from Canberra in Australia, a veritable maestro when it comes to arranging Sri Chinmoy's songs, to come up with a suitably impressive arrangement of the song.
The rain seems absolutely unending. Rain in Ireland usually swings between light and heavy, but here in New York it's just one monotonous downpour. I find refuge in a nearby house and commandeer someone's computer to do a spot of work. I help out on the website AspiringIndia.org, doing bits and pieces to make an already great site more accessible. At the moment I'm working on the Saints and Sages section of the website, and I really get inspired reading about all the great spiritual figures described therein as I work. Thankfully the rain has subsided somewhat by the time I finish so I can make my way out to grab a spot of dinner.
Saturday night is when a lot of people from outside town and further afield make it to meditate with their teacher, so the place is a little fuller than usual. A typical meditation function with Sri Chinmoy will usually have a number of things happening - anything from soulful singing to poetry to spiritual plays. Those who are able to meditate throughout the entire programme find these performances only add to the meditative atmosphere; those who only meditate for part of it at least have something to fall back on to stop them twiddling their thumbs. Tonight's highlight is a play about some of the events that took place during Sri Chinmoy's visits in the 1960's to Puerto Rico, home to his first meditation centre outside New York. The play starts Sri Chinmoy off on a long series of poignant reminisces about his time there, and particularly about his Puerto Rican students who have since passed away. The evening concludes with a video of a trip to Kerala, India by one of Sri Chinmoy's Indian students - nothing like seeing the ancient home of spirituality through the eyes of a spiritual seeker who hails from there. A very nice first day indeed.