For the past year, Ive been arriving to New York on a Friday, which means I participate in the weekly Saturday 2 mile race the day after I step off the plane. I have a very nice morning meditation and sing plenty of songs, something which I havent done in a long time. I feel very very nice indeed, it must be said.
Something very interesting is happening as I tie my shoelaces on the doorstep of the ouse where Im staying; a sensation inside, a sensation, of some emotional baggage inside me colalescing into one spot, in the pit of my stomach, baggage waiting to be discarded. Well, nothing like a good run to make that happen. Pity I have to wait another forty minutes. Still, can do some warmup and appreciate the early morning.
People arrive to correct their race numbers. Hmmm, field is considerably weaker thasn usual; many of the fast runners havent arrived yet. Might be in line for a prize here. OK, lets not think about it, that kind of thinking does my head in. Lets just run. Moment of silence and then we're off. Ha. So much for a prize. After 100 metres the race order is set in stone. Kalpanatit, our athletics star, is off on his way to set a course record of 9:14. And the second and third placed boys are receding into the horizon ahead of me too. Fourth place it looks like. I try and keep the third placed boy in my sights at all times, maybe he'll slow down during the second half of the race. Lets see what the mile split is like - 5:43. Ok, lets see if we can get under 11:30. Oh man, this is murder. Remember that coalesced baggage?well, its there front and centre and it ain't getting discarded. I feel like I'm pulling a piano along. Some runs I can just concentrate and go deep within and shut all this out, but this isnt one of them, this is not one of my better days at all. Still, it's almost over now, lets pick it up for the last 400 metres. 11:28. Not bad, considering. Let's just put that one behind me and go and get some breakfast.
After breakfast I head down to Aspiration-Ground, where Sri Chinmoy has most of his meditations with his students. At time such as April and August, there can be many students there and there is always extra seating being added to accomodate them. Right now we are working on a section tucked away in the corner; somehow it reminds me of the nooks and crannies in the fields behind my childhood home, which with a child's imagination I would transform into miniature universes in themselves. And so I start to help out. Thouse of you who have read my accounts of my previous two trips here will gather that I do quite a bit of helping out of this kind. Why, you ask? Shouldnt I be sitting down cross-legged and doing some heavy duty meditation? Well, thats just not the way I'm made. There are people who meditate, people who sing, people who create, people who work. And Sri Chinmoy's path embraces them all. To me this is physical meditation, beause frankly at the moment something inside me is a little bit too agitated to be doing copious amounts of the other stuff. Somedays I can sit for hours, but right now I just have to be moving, and in my movement directed with goodwill towards the service of mankind, there is my progress. Cool, I finally get to find out how those theodolites you always see engineers using works. Then sand has to be swept into the cracks between the terracotta flooring, again and again so it wont get washed out in one of New Yorks many torrential downpours. And in this simple repetitive work, in these serene surroundings, there is the beginnings of finding myself again.
Ah, now for something different. There will be a special meditation function on Tuesday which is always one of the highlights of the whole Celebrations. So much work goes into making this day special; one of the main tasks is decorating the entire grounds to heighten the meditative atmosphere. This is all being coordinated by Dhurjati and Shivani, the husband and wife team who have made countless such displays in the past on special occasions; much of the decoration will be put together in their back garden, so that's where I'm headed now.
Their sense of design and taste doesnt stop with the stage decorations, let me tell you. Ive never seen a house put togeter with such amazing attention to detail as this one. Even the icecubes in my carrot juice are aesthetically pleasing. And their back garden - oh wow. Take a look at some of these photos.
I manage to get myself a place where I'm painting in the shade. As I paint all the bits and pieces I play guessing games with myself as to where they're going to appear in the grand design.
We wrap up around dinnertime and go to meditation. There is a very peaceful silent atmosephere as I enter, accentuated by the sounds of evening crickets. Sri Chinmoy is meditating on small groups of people. Then there is a play about an incident in the life of the spiritual Master Kathiya Ramdas Baba (the source text can be viewed here at srichinmoylibrary.com). There is another very soulful performance in wich some of Sri Chinmoy´s aphorisms are acted out. Then prasad is called; Sri Chinmoy calls up people depending on their religious background. First Christianity, thThen Hinduism and buddhism and finally people of no religion. 'I also have no religion', Sri Chinmoy tells this latter group, 'My only religion is my love of God.'