I booked my flight to leave a few days after the majority of people to save a bit of money. Just before I arrived, I was worrying about money and lamenting the fact that I had not booked a shorter time - at the moment I'm earning my crust by teaching, and this time just before exams is prime teaching season. Now, that I'm here I'm really glad I have the extra few days. I feel that quite a few knots have been eased out of the system, and now I am just bathing in the most tranquil atmosphere of peace and love.
Things are much quieter now that most people have left. I arrive in plenty of time for meditation for once - time to take out a book, read some spiritual poems and generally soak myself into the meditative atmosphere. Guru arrives and there is pin-drop silence. Leisurely wheeling around Aspiration ground, meditating on everyone as he goes around. Then Guru calls out for Kusheet, but for some never-to-be-explained reason, I (and two or three others) hear the name Shardul. I happen to know that Shardul is in a nearby house tucking into some exquisitely prepared Italian pasta, so I run there to get him. Of course, on my way back, I trip and put out both my hands to protect myself. Its only when I get back I notice one of my hands is bleeding quite a lot. Theres an impressive amount of blood, but when i wash it I can see its only a scratch and a plaster will take care of it.
I have barely sat down again when there is a short pause; the intensity of which I have experienced quite a few times before: the sense that Guru is about to give someone a spiritual name. Sri Chinmoy explains why he gives spiritual names to his students:
"Everyone has all the divine qualities, but one quality is often pre-eminent. One divine quality is usually more manifest in a certain person than the other divine qualities, and the soul has a way of manifesting the highest Truth through that particular quality. One soul will manifest through light, another through beauty, a third through power, a fourth through compassion, a fifth through peace, a sixth through joy. Each Sanskrit name I offer has a spiritual significance, and each aspirant has the capacity to realise and manifest the Highest through a particular quality which his name reveals and embodies. If the soul wants to realise and manifest the Highest on earth, then if the aspirant knows that particular quality, it becomes infinitely easier. When the disciples have spiritual names and they meditate on their names, at that time their divine qualities come to the fore most powerfully and make them feel what they are here for and why they have come into the world. That is why we give these names."
Guru asks for Jan from Finland; at first he does not appear to be here and Guru asks if he has left for home already, but he was just talking to someone and didn't hear, he's coming now. There is silence so thick you could cut it with a knife. Guru meditates on him very powerfully before handing him an envelope with his name on it. Premananda. The meaning: The Love Divine, The Bliss Divine of our Lord Beloved Absolute Supreme.
The weather reports for tonight aren't looking good; its hard to believe it now with the sun still blazing away. I have another job before the evening function, this time guarding the toilets. They're in quite an isolated out-of-the-way position and so we all take it in turns to keep an eye on them for a couple of hours. It's an uneventful job and I play the flute and do a little writing to keep myself occupied. My shift is due to be relieved; I turn to go into the evening meditation but my way is blocked for ten minutes or so by a Greek Orthodox procession, they are carrying an icon down the street and it's probably not the most respectful course of action to cut right through them. I arrive to be greeted by an immensely joyful sight. Parvati's singing group is dedicated to singing Sri Chinmoy's English songs; today they have all turned up to sing the songs in fancy-dress costume.
After they have sung, we get to vote on the best costume. There was Dorothy, the lion and the scarecrow (complete with Yellow Brick Road), a cat a in window, a mummy, Crocodile Dundee (plus crocodile), and a corpse with the notice "In the absence of my body my soul will be singing". My favourite was particularly ingenious - to all intents and purposes it looks as if Adarini is walking up side-down on her hands. Many agreed with me and she got the most votes. Sri Chinmoy later comments on the importance of having moments of joy like this in our spiritual lives.
We then see another nice video - In 2004 in Bali, Sri Chinmoy painted a series of 35 artworks entitled "Paintings for World-Harmony" which were on display in Bali's main museum. With each of these paintings, Sri Chinmoy would first write down an aspiring quality of the human spirit that can be used to bring about harmony, and then meditated on it as he painted. 34 of these paintings were recently on display in New York and we watched footage of the opening night, attended by many dignitaties and curators of famous museums. In the video, there is many shots of the paintings themselves, giving us the chance to meditate on the qualities represented in them.
Luckily, the rain holds off for tonight; we make our way home determined to get a good night's sleep for the race tomorrow.
First-hand experiences of meditation and spirituality.
People see something in Guru and want to be part of itSaraswati Martín San Juan, Puerto Rico
My 5 a.m. strategic meditationsSanchita Fleming Ottawa, Canada
Running and MeGarga Chamberlain Bristol, United Kingdom
An early spiritual experienceAshrita Furman New York, United States
I just knew from the moment I saw himAshrita Furman New York, United States
My love of spiritual poetryManatita Hutchinson London, United Kingdom
Seeing the God inside my sonUtsahi St-Armand Ottawa, Canada
The Random DogToshala Elliott Auckland, New Zealand
Learning to follow my intuitionSaranyu Pearson Geelong, Australia
Celestial experiencesAntaranga Gressenich Munich, Germany
President Gorbachev: a special soul brought down for a special reasonMridanga Spencer Ipswich, United Kingdom
The day my Guru accepted me as his discipleBanshidhar Medeiros San Juan, Puerto Rico
The spiritual life is normal to meShankara Smith London, United Kingdom
interviews with Sri Chinmoy's students