Today after meditation, I decide to go for a rather lengthy run, the first run of any length since the marathon. I first drop last night's intended laundry off then head down to where Sri Chinmoy can be seen driving in the morning. I am running in the opposite direction around the square loop around which Sri Chinmoy is driving, and the daredevil in me eggs me on to race his car to each of the two diagonally opposite corners of the track! I do pick up my pace a bit, but there are a lot of people out there on the loop and a very high chance that someone a lot more delicate than myself will get knocked down, so I contain myself.
I then head back running with Briju, we were talking about overcoming imperfections and also he told me a very nice story about running , (the links are to two different blog entries). Then I head off running through some rather affluent areas, tree-lined streets and awkward gentle monsters of houses with extensions and porches tacked on in true kitsch style. At some point I decide that I've reached the hour mark which I set myself today; time to head back to the laundry, move my clothes from the washing machine to the drier.
The laundromat was set up by one of Sri Chinmoy's students, and I must say it is as pleasant a place to sit down and read a set of memoirs written by a former Soviet leader as you could possibly find. Much better than any 24 hour place. I'm in for a bit of a surprise when I go to collect my clothes from the drier and a yellow slip of paper tumbles out. Is that my pass for using the Internet? Indeed it is. I manage to reconstruct parts of it with a bit of sellotape, but it's hardly the most legible of documents.....
Home I go, rucksack in hand. I have not even begun writing these blog entries yet so I scribble down a couple of hurried notes which hopefully will be enough to spark off some memories. So much is packed into each day when I am visiting my teacher that at times I struggle to recall what happened only two days earlier! I spot my flute mournfully looking at me; I happily oblige it with a few tunes until it is time to go to meditation.
Arrive at Aspiration-Ground at the stroke of 11 in anticipation of another silent meditation, to find Sri Chinmoy already there. Obviously a busy day lies ahead. First off is a play. There is a regular troupe of New York actors who put on a spiritual play every week; this weeks play was written by Mahesh, and concerns a spiritual Master who first has to conquer his own donut-eating habit before advising a little boy on how to conquer his! Needless to say, many donuts are consumed in the course of the play. Everyone is in Chinese costume; even before the play has begun, Sri Chinmoy remarked how he got so much joy from just looking at the costumes!
Half way through all the function, myself and Colm have to go, we promised we would help put up some tents. An enterprise run by Sri Chinmoy's students is celebrating an anniversary of when it was founded, and to celebrate, a veritable banquet of food and drink is being prepared for all those who want to join in the celebration. The shop itself is quite small and so we have to put up some tents on the sidewalk under which people will queue, as there is a near-certainty of rain this afternoon. Most of the tents are very easily put together, a one-piece frame and velcro straps, things have come a long way since I was a child!
People are starting to arrive from the recently ended meditation function and the clouds are getting blacker and blacker; we put up the last couple of tents and squeeze everyone in like parking attendants before the clouds drop their load. There is a queue to get into the shop; I dont have anything to get for myself, but myself and Colm do have to get Niriha a present - out of the goodness of her heart, she presented some inspiring DVD's to the Dublin Centre - plus Colm wants to get his tabla teacher a present also.
I spend another couple of hours on computer, and as always (such a bad habit and one I really have to get out of) I leave things to the last minute to leave the computers, run home hurriedly shower and change and am just entering as Sri Chinmoy is entering at the other end of the tent for the meditation function; the place is full and theres only space at the very back. Here in the last few rows, I am struck to find myself surrounded by many of Sri Chinmoy's students who have been living with him here in New York for the past thirty years or more. For them physical proximity to the Master has far waned in importance to the inner proximity to the source of Truth and Light that he embodies; they are more than content to let the visitors take the prime seats.
Just as with the afternoon function, we are treated to a play from a performing group that Sri Chinmoy had given the name Udar: the Unbounded Troupe. They all entered to the strains of a rousing ditty performed with, er, characteristic humility:
Mukul and Tejaswi then took up positions on stage with sitar and mridanga and started by issuing the audience with a warning: they were a little tired that their attempts at serious spiritual theatre were being met by totally unjustified laughter; they understood that a lot of us were Western and probably incapable of understanding the nuances of Indian spirituality, but any more laughter and they would have to ask us to leave. Well, they probably should have ejected us all on the spot; the play had barely begun and we were rolling around the place laughing.
After an excruciatingly long and funny intrument-tuning session, the play proper begun, a telling of an old traditional Indian story about Krishna and his gopis. As with the play this morning, tonights play has the power of being both funny and soulful; when the time came to be funny, it was funny, and when the time came to be soulful, it was soulful. Afterwards we watch some videos of inspiring and meditative events that happened recently.
Afterwards, Sri Chinmoy calls up Igor from Ukraine to congratulate him for swimming the English Channel in an amazing time of just over ten hours. He asks him is he going to do it again; Igor replies he can't because of lack of finances. Sri Chinmoy, mindless of any such obstacles, promptly asks anyone who is willing to help Igor do it again to come forward. There is a good many of Igor's admirers willing to help him do it again; a particularly generous response comes from Adhiratha, who had swum the channel himself almost twenty years ago; Sri Chinmoy remarked how proud he was of Adhiratha - "your heart of sympathy, you know how difficult it is". Sri Chinmoy said people who wanted to contribute could do so until tomorrow, whereupon he would contribute the remaining amount needed himself.
After the meditation function ended, we had our own little present to give to Niriha. She truly has such a big heart; she was one of the ones who came up to help Igor swim the channel, and Sri Chinmoy exclaimed "but you can't even pay your rent!"
- Next day: Monday 13th ...