I still go at least twice a year to visit the place where Sri Chinmoy spent most of his time – once in April and once in August. Some things are naturally different since his passing in 2007, but some things are still the same. Although I do miss the outer presence of my Guru, the feeling in that little corner of Queens, New York, is just as refined and powerful. I always come back thinking I have been away for weeks, even after days – vigour and inspiration renewed, a fresh perspective on life, solutions to problems, new ideas for creativity. It’s a time not just for inner reflection, but a time to spend with friends from all over the world who have come for the same reasons – a time of laughter and conversation, a chance to plan new projects and compare ideas, as well as sitting together in silent meditation, or performing Sri Chinmoy’s music and plays. I was looking through my earlier recollections today, and found these notes from August 2005.
A green profusion makes an enclave in the dusted floor of a former tennis court. On his seventy-fourth birthday Sri Chinmoy sings out under the mellow evening sky. Two hundred songs fly unaccompanied, unhindered, uninhibited through the poised and listening air, and still that rich voice goes on, growing richer with offering; a melting balm for the tension of my wheeling worldly thoughts.
Can this really be just paper and paint, tethered to a table on that same dusted ground? It seems it may fly away of its own accord, such is the life in it all. I catch myself wondering if these colours have even existed before; they dance with such unearthly splendour. I have looked on many paintings, but I have never seen such movement as in the flight of Sri Chinmoy’s birds. Each work could absorb me for an hour or more, yet they stretch and jostle here in their hundreds. Hundreds of viewers tread softly behind me in the queue, awaiting their own glimpses, so my feet carry me on when I would sooner linger.
I stand by the edge of a lake under shields of trees, with two drinks hastily replaced by two more. Those I serve thank me or smile, although they must be ragged on their approach to mile twenty-six. It is I who would thank them for this chance to stand as if at strength’s epicentre, hour after fleeting hour. Instead I strive to remember names as quickly as their owners pass, stir and drain containers, gather cups discarded, my thanks shining through heart and eyes.
It is not just the momentous, but the simple or even momentary, that paint this view: the sweeping of the restaurant floor; the song of cicadas as bright leaves drop before a glossy moon; a thoughtful gift for no special reason; the witnessing of talent, or goodness, or achievements of another, and the resultant inner cheer; the sense of change – day on day, year on year – as my own true self is revealed to me through it all.
There are treasures in this two-week trove too arresting in strength, too sacred in beauty, too wide and deep and delicate to weave in words. I choose seven pure and perfect flowers to offer Sri Chinmoy in thanks for these jewels. It is not enough on my part, but my own wonder and delight now whisper from the softness of each petal, smile from each starry face, and glow through their colour and light. The jewels will not wither though, as flowers do.