Sunday 9th

Hmm. Theoretically, when you clock up the hours I've slept so far, plus the jetlag, it should add up to a whole lot of tiredness. But its just not happening. I have that nice dreamy feeling I sometimes get after waking up from a precious-few-hours sleep, but that's it. What can you do, but shrug your shoulders and carry on.

The first thing to happen today is preparing the meditation ground. Decorations are being made, vibrant flower arrangements are being situated around the ground, and paper streamers are being hoisted overhead. I've been told flower arranging is not my forte, so I spend the morning up a tall and shaky ladder tying on streamers, invoking higher powers for protection and hoping the boys holding the ladder below don't leave me stranded up here.

There will be a very special concert today, celebrating the birthday of Sri Chinmoy's mother, Yogamaya, who passed on when he was only twelve. Yogamaya was a very spiritual soul in her own right; Guru once related a story of how once she was watching a play about the life of the famous spiritual Master Sri Chaitanya, and how she started crying at the scene where Sri Chaitanya left his mother to go into the forest and meditate. One of her elder sons tried to console her, saying they would never even think of doing such a thing. Yogamaya responded by saying she was actually crying because she wished all her family would have the same love for God. Indeed her wish became fulfilled; after her death, the entire family would devote themselves to an unflinching pursuit of the Truth. The concert will be performed by a womens' singing group that have earned wide acclaim for their performances all around the world; they usually perform at least once during our visit and for myself at least it is a real highlight of the trip. I'm really looking forward to it.

The concert consists of bhajans - traditional Indian mantric songs which have been composed by Sri Chinmoy. Some of them are about his family, some of them are about Indian spiritual figures in line with his Hindu upbringing, all of them send the heart soaring. As the concert progresses, an inspiration comes to me - just go to the source of the music, it muses, just go to the source. And I dive deep into a hole inside me and feel this Source growing more and more tangible by the simple, it was so simple, just go to the source...

I am a little dazed by the whole experience by the time the concert ends and go to a nearby park for some silence in which to try and assimilate it all. On my way back, I meet a local Bengali man playing with his son, who is curious as to the spiritual disciplines we practice. But do you make any progress, or do you just stay at the same level, he asks? Ah, there is no more pertinent question than this, the voice inside leaps to tell me, no more pertinent question, thank you, my friend, thank you for asking...and I know I'm going to enjoy giving the answer. Everytime I come here, I reply, I see myself as I was on previous visits, and it's a bit like looking at an old set of clothes you've  outgrown...

I go back to Aspiration-Ground; Sri Chinmoy is giving out copies of a bird drawing he did just that morning as a present to all assembled. Deep in meditation, there may be no outer smile on his face as he hands me mine, but I sense that at this moment in time, he's pretty happy with my progress. There's some delicious prasad that Sri Chinmoy put together in his own kitchen, followed by a delicious Indian meal served on a traditional banana leaf.

After that? Guess what. The eyelids start dropping. Bedtime. Oh well. However, I do manage to get up and get ready in time for the evening meditation function. I enjoyed just being there and absorbing the atmosphere. There was a musical rendition by boys from Graz, a very nice Austrian city which I have had occasion to visit quite a few times in the past couple of years. The Canadian boys also performed a scene from Sri Chinmoy's play, Siddartha becomes the Buddha, in which the young Prince Siddartha and his cousin Devadatta quarrel over a bird that Devadatta has shot. This play has been performed by theatre troupes all over the world and been very well recieved by critics and audiences alike, and it is certainly one of my favourite plays. Then prasad and bedtime. Yes, this has been a very long day indeed.

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