Thursday 9th

My visits to America always seem to have the same start. Five in the morning, making my way through the deserted litterblown streets of Dublin. Over the previous week, I have been increasing and expanding my meditations, preparing myself in silence, so that my meditations with my teacher Sri Chinmoy might be all the more soulful. In an effort to defeat the jetlag, I slept only two hours last night; now I begin making up the difference on the plane to Paris, and continue very nicely during the stopover.

View from plane
View from plane

I am sitting beside an American lady on the flight to New York who shares my interest in Eastern spirituality, and we talk for a while as the plane chases the sunset westward. In between more patches of snoozing, I meditate and read some spiritual books.

Arrival, through immigration and catch the train. At the back of my mind I'm wondering if the key I grabbed last thing before I headed out the door this morning is in fact the right key for where I'm staying, I now recall there was similiar one lurking around on the same shelf I put this one.... It's funny how a whole pile of hassle can be created because one piece of metal doesn't fit in a hole whereas another piece lying on a shelf 3000 miles away does. My key fits: ok, abrupt end to philosophizing, quick cleanup and down to meditation.

Stone lions

Raja and Rajeshwar, our two resident stone lions

As I walk down the hill to meditation, some part of my being is already racing ahead of me and turning the corner into Aspiration-Ground, the place where Sri Chinmoy holds meditation functions for visitors from from all corners of the world. It is a warm night; the bulky jacket I brought along especially for the cold November New York winters is almost superflous. During April and August we perch ourselves up on the surrounding bleachers and watch the proceedings; in November a tent has been put up to shield us from the expected near-freezing temperatures. I enter Aspiration-Ground and make my way between the two majestic stone lions, silent sentinels at the entrance to this abode of stillness. I can hear Sri Chinmoy's voice.

I arrive near the tail end of the meditation function - perhaps I can actually squeeze in some meditation! Thankfully, the longer I am on Sri Chinmoy's path, the easier it becomes to drop whatever mental load I am carrying at the time and just focus on what is important now. A short couple of years ago, it invariably would take me ten or fifteen mutes or even longer to get my mind to cooperate with my desire to meditate, and as I realise this, I feel very grateful to my teacher for the change in attitude a couple of short years has wrought, and pray that it stays; there is no way I would want to go back to that state of affairs. I am reminded of something interesting that happened a couple of months ago: I was playing badminton with some young friends of mine, one aged eleven and the other aged just four, taking turns as there were only two racquets. The four year old kept insisting it was his turn all the time and eventually broke down into tears (nothing to do with me, I swear!). Sitting on the ground, bawling his eyes out, he suddenly spotted a spare badminton shuttlecock lying on the grass - in an instant the tears dried up, as he became immediately engrossed in playing with his new toy. That's the kind of focus I aspire towards!

Sri Chinmoy meditates

Sri Chinmoy meditates...

Of course it helps that my meditation teacher is in front of me, his inward gaze a magnet drawing the inner beings of everyone present towards the sublime heights he has attained. My heart, sensing the direction to go, exhorts all the dissenting strands of my being to put aside their arbitrary factionalism and follow its lead. And once again I know why I call this place my spiritual home. I soak up these few moments, knowing prasad will soon be called for and we will depart into the night.