My alarm clock is one of those radio-controlled ones that every day picks up a signal from some airfield in England to get the right time. Well, now England is a long way away indeed so my poor alarm clock doesn't know what to do with itself. Liberated from orders, it promptly resets itself and then goes off at what I retrospectively estimate to be four in the morning. Completely clueless as to the time, I have a quick meditation and went back to bed, reawakening as the first shades of light start to dawn through the window. I meditate again, and then pull on my trainers for a short run.
In early August, Sri Chinmoy started taking his little red hatchback for an early morning drive around the route of the 3100 Mile Self-Transcendence race , the longest road race in the world. I remember one of the runners using the word 'pilgrimage' to describe the race - this is how I feel just visiting the course. The word to me evokes a feeling of specialness not just restricted to religious sites, but used for any inspiring landmark of the evolution of human potential - the United Nations building in New York, Nelson Mandela's Robben Island cell - symbols of something that happened that made the human race that little bit better. In its own small way, this small half-mile loop also evokes the feeling of pilgrimage, as we wonder at the strength of the human spirit that could brave running eighteen hours a day for almost two months, and one feels Sri Chinmoy drives around also in homage to that unbounded spirit. When we would visit in August we would all go running around the vicinity, Sri Chinmoy meditating on each of us as our paths crossed. I have heard rumours to the effect that Sri Chinmoy might be driving somewhere else (the 3100 Mile track is wedged in between two schools and it can get rather crowded that time of the morning) so I decide to go on a general loop around the neighbourhood and just enjoy the run.
I always enjoy a clear winter sky better than any other weather in any other season. I take a diversion through the local park, which in addition to its beauty has a stillness which makes you wonder it it has not imbibed something from the many years of meditation taking place just down the road.
One of the things that really makes me happy is helping out with the beautiful garland of spiritual websites that the Sri Chinmoy Centre mantains; and that is what I set off to do after my run. Sometimes I write articles and stories and other times I help out with the technical side of things. The reader will be forgiven for asking what this has to do with meditation. In truth, I myself marvel at how something so obviously rooted in the mental world could have been of such inner benefit to me. I recall how similar work I used to perform for the sake of material progress used to arterially clog my mind up to the point of standstill. Perhaps it is that something of the love, care and soulfulness put into sites like this website or other sites maintained by Sri Chinmoy's students like poetseers.org or radiosrichinmoy.org rubs off on me, or perhaps it is the inner assurance of the worth of what one is doing that keeps at bay the stresses and strains that have nowadays become accepted byproducts of computer work. I don't know. I honestly don't know. All I know is that I am a better person now than when I started helping out, in ways I can directly attribute to this work, and I am grateful for the opportunity.
I have a great big list of things I had stored up to to do in the next week or so and I begin to pick my way through them. I estimate that Sri Chinmoy will probably arrive shortly after twelve, and I leave my computer in anticipation of arriving at Aspiration-Ground then. Wrong. More lazy assumptions on my part. Not only has my teacher arrived, but prasad was waiting on the table, oftentimes a sure sign that the meditation function is due to end shortly. I then remembered - how could I forget? - that Sri Chinmoy had asked his students to have three silent half-hour meditations at Aspiration-Ground every day in addition to the functions at which he would be present: one at 6:30 in the morning, one at eleven and one at 6:30 in the evening. Sri Chinmoy had obviously arrived shortly after the eleven o'clock meditation, and in future I would be there waiting.
What next? Ah. More computers. There are many people of Irish origin where I am working, they are all hungry for news of the motherland, and I get a couple of invitations to drop over to the house for a cup of tea, which I sincerely promise to honour if I can find the time; but time is such a scarce commodity on these visits. This time, I make sure I am back in plenty of time for the 6:30 evening meditations. These half-hour meditations are so nice; over a hundred people, and nothing only thick pin-drop silence. The sound of a bell to begin, the sound of a bell to conclude, and no sound in between. We enter outside into the night air to find that Sri Chinmoy has ordered pizza for us! When we visit in April and August there are regular meals for all the visitors, but no such system is in place for November, and so Sri Chinmoy takes personal care to ensure all his visitors are well fed.
Myself, Mikael and Viliam from Paris and Steve from England decide to supplement said pizza with a few nibbles in Annam Brahma , a wonderful vegetarian restaurant run by Sri Chinmoy's students and located right across the road from us. The conversation stumbles onto to the country of Turkey: Steve spent quite a while working in Turkey, I also spent a while working with Turkish people, and both of us have nothing but good memories.
After that, we arrived for what was to be a very memorable meditation function. First Sri Chinmoy went into a very high meditation. And I went into a very high meditation, without any volition on my part; I just sat there and before I could even say "Hmm, that's curious, I'm having a very good meditation..."....I have had this experience before when visiting Sri Chinmoy, where beautiful meditations have burst in on me unannounced; I guess teachers of the calibre of Sri Chinmoy just intuitively know when their students need an extra dollop of inner food!
Then Sri Chinmoy, breaking the silence, asked anyone who had been his student for less than four years to go up and say a short spiritual poem or an aphorism. That includes me; but my brain, already feeling quite superfluous as a result of the preceding meditation, goes into absolute lockdown. Ok, let's not panic, I tell myself; I'm sure there is at least one aphorism I can recall our of the tens of thousands I've read; I will admit learning Sri Chinmoy's beautiful little aphorisms does not play a big role in my sadhana, or spiritual discipline (although I love reading them silently and absorbing their inner meaning), but I do know many of Sri Chinmoy's mantric songs which are based on aphorisms. But I'm drawing a blank recalling those too... I am sitting near the front, and I try to get up slowly enough so I won't be the first one to the microphone, but finally one comes to me as I wait my turn:
My Supreme, my Supreme, my Supreme, Do give me forty-eight hours a day to accomplish everything I wish to accomplish every single day.
I like this aphorism and its accompanying song very much, and I will often sing it in the morning when I know that the day has a pile of tasks all set up like dominoes waiting for me! This evening, Sri Chinmoy is hosting a guest from South Africa, so he entertains us all with stories of his meetings with President Mandela .
Then comes prasad ; trays of Indian sweets are brought out, and we queue up as Sri Chinmoy personally hands one to each of us, meditating on it and us at the same time. Of course, mine has to roll out of my outstretched hands and back onto the tray! Not in the least perturbed, Sri Chinmoy merely hands me another one. Ever the teacher, even in the smallest action.
- Next day: Saturday 11th .