This morning, we have the weekly 2 mile race. In contrast to last weeks nerves, I feel really good. In the last day or so, my mood has shifted and I am thinking a lot about how that all that matters is that the will of the Divine is done and this feeling pervades my attitude towards the race: first, second, third, last, all that matters is that God's will is done. Again I warm up and feel myself itching to go.
This lofty attitude lasts about as long as the first 400 metres. Alexei tears out in front again, me in second; there is a lot of huffing and puffing emanating from this so-called detached body of mine. And complaining. Remarkably far removed from my attitude this morning. Jirka overtook me shortly after the first mile; such was the speed at which he overtook me that I felt it must be a matter of time before a few more people followed suit; I just kept running along, waiting for that moment to come. I come to what is for me the toughest part of the course; for some reason, those words of Sri Chinmoy from last night 'I will carry you in my heart' enter into my being, and my steps feel that little bit lighter on the ground.
Turning around the corner of the hill with 400 metres to go, I see Tejal 50 metres behind and I feel perhaps I could make it home in third after all if I applied myself. And I do. 11:21, a second slower than last week.
Afterwards Sri Chinmoy arrives and spontaneously composes another mantric song before giving out the prizes, with the words:
Afterwards, there is more planting to be done. I tell Bipin, 'You know, I can skip the meditation function if you think its urgent'. He replies 'Well, is it urgent for you?' This is good advice, because I actually do feel the need to just sit in the presence of the Master and meditate, at least for a while! Sri Chinmoy talks about the quality of enthusiasm and mentions in this regard Parvati's singing group, who have just completed the learning of 1300 English songs in the space of a year! There is also some light moments as Sri Chinmoy presents prizes to two good friends who were competing in a memorizing competition. There is then an exhibition of Sri Chinmoy's bird drawings, and after viewing them, I have a good inner feeling that now might be a good time to go out and do some work and let the meditative atmosphere settle inside me.
I arrive to find the garden deserted, everyone else must have felt felt the same way about meditating. I am just stacking a few concrete pots to be covered over for the winter; just pottering around. The wind is blowing through the trees. A spell of silence emanates from the tent, situated just a row of trees away from me; perhaps someone is receiving their spiritual name. People file out past where I am working after receiving prasad, and I loop around to the tent entrance in order to receive mine. Now everyone comes around after the meditation function to help in the garden, we have about 90 minutes worth of planting before the light gets too bad.
Such enjoyable work, planting, did I say that before?oh well, some things bear repeating; I recall all the books I had read about the great spiritual Master Sri Ramakrishna and the place where he spent most of his life, Dakineshwar, where in addition to the temples there were groves and forested areas with such wonderful names as the panchavati which played host to great spiritual occasions, and it not hard to imagine that here, one is helping to create another panchavati in another Dakineshwar, and it is not hard to feel grateful to be here, shovel in hand, at this moment in time.
Ah, again the night is falling too quickly, far too quickly, but we will just make mistakes if we continue any further. So we plant the shovel in the ground from where we will pick it up tomorrow, and wander off to get something to eat. We have been mostly living off prasad (and pizza!) during our stay here, and myself, Colm, and Tom from New Zealand decide we might as well splash out and go to Annam Brahma just across the road. Not that it takes much splashing out; I have never seen food so tasty and yet so cheap. I order a tofu omelette for less than four dollars that might have cost ten euro back in Ireland!
We are also joined by Arpan , who gives Tom some hints on multiday running (Tom has completed a 24 hour race and almost finished a 100k race, being only 21 years old!). Arpan recalls how when he became a student of Sri Chinmoy in the early seventies, running one mile was considered a Big Thing, and three or four miles was psychologically way out of anyone's league! When Sri Chinmoy suuggested his students do a 50-state torch relay in 1976 to celebrate the Bicentennial of the American Declaration of Independence, it must have been a tremendous leap of faith for many of his students to take. But they did it, and certainly his students' eyes were opened not only to to the possibility, but also the spiritual benefit, of running very long distances. The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team was formed the following year, and is now the largest ultrarunning club in the world.
Then we have some play rehearsals; Databir has asked us to be in his play which takes place tonight. The play is still in quite a fluid stage; ideas are being tested out until a stage is reached where its too late to be second-guessing and to just proceed with what we have. The play has a very large cast - more and more people keep dropping into the room, and the place turns into a cacophony of acting, direction, costumes, and dialling of phone numbers to find out why this or that person has not come yet. The three main people in this particular troupe are Databir, Abakash and Mahesh, and they mainly source their material from anecdotes Sri Chinmoy has related about his life, anecdotes both illumining and humorous; Abakash and Databir in particular are long-time students of Sri Chinmoy, and they have a very good intuition for recreating these scenes. In these plays Abakash usually plays Sri Chinmoy, and Mahesh will play a younger Sri Chinmoy when they are dramatizing anecdotes about his early days.
Due to the rehearsal, we miss the first part of the evening function and arrive to find Parvati's group singing, the same group that has learnt 1300 songs. The Indian tradition is that the celebrant of the occasion does the giving, and Parvati has prepared a 13 item prasad for all of us! She is obviously a health food fan, I spy organic carrot snacks, grapefruit juice and granola bars amongst the items. Sri Chinmoy then calls each member of the group up, and presents them with bird drawings he has drawn especially for them.
Then begin the plays. In addition to our plays, there are at least four others. I don't see some of them because I am outside preparing with our group; the ones I do see are very funny. Spiritual plays really provide a balance to functions with Sri Chinmoy, a complement to the intensity of meditation, spiritual food in a lighter form. Sri Chinmoy is very much aware that if our functions consisted solely of meditation, the tension would soon build up in our Western minds and emotional beings; as you have seen no two meditation functions are ever the same, and there is a constant element of newness and spontaneity.
Our play comes on soon enough; we are due to make our entrance from the audience. The play itself is a big colourful sprawl: an elephants-only coffee bar, Brazilan samba, record athletics performances, airport mayhem, and lots and lots of stories about tea and coffee. Our part is very small, but I always get great enjoyment from participating in plays, and tonight is no exception!
- Next day: Sunday 19th ...
- We also do some plays back home in Dublin: read about spiritual plays put on by the Dublin Sri Chinmoy Centre ....