This morning I try again and see if I can't halt this run of mind wandering during my morning meditations - to that end, I go home for half an hour after the 6.30 meditation in Aspiration-Ground and sing some meditative songs. After meditation, I venture out for a short run; I clearly don't intend to exert myself to the limit, as evidenced by the fact that I go out with a digital camera in hand to take a few photos! The clouds have finally broken and we are left with a glorious blue morning. It is usually quite easy to spot houses owned by students of Sri Chinmoy, as they are usually painted in very bright and refreshing colours - light blue in particular, the colour of the sea and the sky, the colour of vastness, infinity and spirituality.
Afterwards I go back to the house and toy with the idea of making a video clip to insert into this blog but I cant seem to include the sound - Ah, I cleverly forgot to turn up the volume, there in the top right of the screen. But no sooner do I figure that out, the movie software packs up on me. So no video blog. Oh well. I offer to clean out Anugata's bathroom - a week of living with a bunch of Irish and Russian boys has taken its toll.
Then off down to Aspiration-Ground to see can I make myself useful. There are a lot of new plants going into the gardens around our meditation ground, filling in bare patches and gaps where you can see only fencing. Colm is in his element, at present he is working as a landscape gardener, so he gets to use his expertise (as you can see in the picture). We are digging holes to insert the plants into, which is a quite demanding job given the amount of roots around. Still, working in these surroundings gives the soul great peace. It is tricky moving the plants around, we are trying not to damage the still-soggy grass by walking on it.
Gardening is really a great job for the soul. There must be twenty people working around the ground, and as I move from one area of the ground to the other, I pass person after person, my fellow journeymen and women on the inner road, happy, contented, and working in the heart. We move around to the back of the meditation ground; the setting sun casts a shaft of light down the long laneway. The evening will come and make us stop working before any of us really want to.
We go home and prepare for the 6.30 meditation. Afterwards, amidst munching yet more slices of pizza, I get talking to Arpan about his favourite subject - running. Arpan ran the 3100 Mile Self Transcendence race - the longest race in the world - two years ago, becoming the first person over fifty to complete the distance. Arpan recalls how all the time during the race he was confronted with tiredness, aches and pains in every conceivable quarter, and a shin splint injury that forced him down to walking pace for ten days in a row, and the only respite was to go deep within and enter into the inner worlds of meditation; he recalls thinking during the race that this must be a small taste of what a spiritual Master's life must be like, the tremendous pain caused by empathising with the sufferings of his students (and indeed humanity) as if they were his own, and at the same time the bliss of the inner realms of love and forgiveness and oneness with God.
Sri Chinmoy arrives shortly afterwards and begins the meditation function proper with a few minutes of powerful silence.
This evening we have a special treat - a concert by a international group who specialises in singing Sri Chinmoy's songs, and has sung them at places all over the world. It is perhaps the most soulful of all the music groups formed by Sri Chinmoy's students, and their performances take place in an atmosphere of great pureness and sanctity. Incense wafts through the air, and a bell rings in the silence to begin the performance. In the past I have had some of my best meditations listening to performances by this group; I know many fellow students of Sri Chinmoy feel the same way.
After the performance, we are in for a special treat; prasad made by Sri Chinmoy himself! I have seen photographs of Sri Chinmoy making this kind of prasad before, mixing the huge bowls of ingredients with his own hands. Sri Chinmoy mischievously describes to us how after making the prasad, he "descended from civilisation", licking his fingers clean in true Indian village style!
My brother Colm was in for a nice surprise. November happens to coincide with Colm's anniversary as a student of Sri Chinmoy's; he had been working on a postcard featuring a soulful aphorism of Sri Chinmoy's as a nice little token of his appreciation. Half way during the function, Sri Chinmoy noticed a copy of this card left on his desk, and commented on what a nice picture it was. Silence fell as he meditated soulfully for half a minute, and then recited the aphorism, with a voice from the depths of his soul, and invited Colm to come up and meditate with him for a couple of minutes.
He then spoke of his impending departure the following Monday; Sri Chinmoy and many of his students generally spend the winter months away from snowbound New York visiting other countries, sharing inspiration with different peoples and different cultures, living out the timeless truth that humanity is one world-family. He was talking to those of his students who would not be travelling with him and would not see him for three months; he said that three months was a long time in the mind but a short time in the heart, and that he would be carrying us all in his heart.
- Next day: Saturday 18th ...