8957French-British Joy in Southern England
- Oct 31, 2004"Do you see the face?" I ask, "I always think the moon appears to be
singing very soulfully."
"Yes, and it seems to be a 'he.' Some say it's a 'she.' Some see a
"Don't show me the rabbit!" I reply.
"I might not see the face anymore!"
The moon hangs as a polished bronze disc on our journey east.
"Have you ever seen it look quite like that though?" I ask.
"No," they both reply.
One theory is pollution; another city lights. Auspicious augury?
Yes, we all agree.
We arrive to silent meditation, followed by a dynamic Soul Bird
Dream Songs performance of Sri Chinmoy's recent English songs. A
hilarious play then delights us all: spiritual teaching deeply
nested in the mischief of British humour. We are soon held captive
by the joy of Sanjaya's videos in a magical sequence of European
A session of bhajans (devotional songs) rounds off the programme.
These sessions always seem pitifully short to me! I smile and sing,
surrounded by the warm glow of instrumental sound. Entering the
blissful, musical mantra, I never want to leave! It's been a long
day though, and I appreciate the hospitality of this civilised
country conference centre.
We meet at 6 a.m. for meditation, followed by two singing
performances. First is Udasina's group, and then Fran's group
singing Sri Chinmoy's devotional English songs with such soft
Sanjaya brings August Celebrations back before our eyes on video.
Especially fascinating is a behind the scenes documentary of the
record-breaking 101,000-rose bouquet for Sri Chinmoy's birthday.
Such a complex and delicate operation! Circular saws and lateral
ladders played surprisingly significant roles. Pavitrata offers a
very beautiful laminated collage for prasad, even translated into
French for our Continental guests. (You can see it in his glorious
If I were you, I would not let a successful hill-climbing cyclist
measure out your two-mile race route. Richard, had I the energy left
at the end of that one-mile hill I would have shaken my fist very
menacingly at you :-) This out and back, down and up route has now
faded to seem just an invigorating start to the day. I have Bithika
to thank for not allowing me to give up, even when walking would
have been quicker. First prize: a pineapple, second: a mango, third:
an apple. Needless to say, no small enough fruit has yet been
cultivated to represent my position in the race.
After breakfast we journey through an autumnal kaleidoscope to the
country residence of Benjamin Disraeli (Prime Minister during Queen
Victoria's reign). This unusual red brick manor wears ornate gables
and clusters of towering chimneys, and nestles amongst grand
monkey-puzzles and firs.
There is a distinctly female monopoly on the pool table before lunch
(and for the duration of our stay in fact).*
Our closing meditation is followed by a French vocal and
instrumental performance, including a soulful rendition of one of my
favourite songs by Sri Chinmoy: "Tomar Adesh Shunbo." A newly formed
female instrumental group of London-based musicians delights us all
with their debut. Ananda ends the musical programme with some
favourite arrangements, as well as some new ones. Finally we read
out some of Sri Chinmoy's new prayers from Niagara Falls and Ongkar
gives us a first-hand account of the Canadian trip.
Thanks Bristol Centre for a weekend of perfection!
*I sincerely hope that no one's thumbs were broken. ;-)
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