A Swimming Pool Meditation
To be living on this earth when a great master lives, breathes, moves amongst us – what an incalculable blessing. We read about the highest of these, the Avatars, but usually their physical absence numbers long centuries, even longer millennia, though their legacy is eternal.
What did they look like? How would we have felt in their company, how did they live, what really happened in the life of Christ, the Buddha, Sri Krishna, the other God-souls who walked this earth so long ago? We don't know. Yet even in our modern world the envoys of God, the realised masters, are still here among us, though few and far between and hard to find. Everyday I try to feel gratitude for my own discovery of a true spiritual master, a living teacher to help me in my personal spiritual quest. How is it that such an insignificant person was granted such a peerless and generous gift?
In 1984 – the date is written on the back of a rare photo I have from this time – I was in New York for Sri Chinmoy's 52nd birthday. One very hot and humid afternoon someone told me that our guru was going to bathe in a pool in the back garden of a nearby home – would I like to come? Yes, I would. We arrived as Sri Chinmoy was lowering himself into a small circular pool about four metres across, dressed in shorts and a collared summer shirt, his feet bare. He moved to the centre of the water, only his neck and head visible and then began to meditate. About fifteen of his disciples stood silently around the circular perimeter – we were about to be given a wonderful meditation experience.
All the sounds of the local streets began to fade, the buzz of cicadas fell silent, cars, people, life's unfolding all receding away. We were standing in a circle of utmost silence as though an invisible curtain had fallen, shielding us from all distraction. Nature itself seemed to be conspiring in this stillness, attentive to some inner reality. A force had come down into this urban garden and we were rooted to the earth, senses suspended – with enormous deliberation and intensity Sri Chinmoy was slowly turning in the pool, fixing on each of us a powerful concentration as though penetrating to some essence of our nature. Eyes barely open, only his head above the water, rotating ever so slowly, he was summoning from a higher, unknown world a spiritual energy so strong that we were transfixed, breathless.
Ten long minutes passed, many exquisite and slow rotations, the searchlight of our Guru's ministrations resting momentarily on each of us. Sometimes his eyes were looking up into some other world then down again at the disciples in the still garden, bringing to our physical plane the bounty of a loftier beyond.
Then without any word or gesture Sri Chinmoy moved to the edge of the pool, climbed slowly out and left. I remember this experience well because the intensity of such rare moments teaches us things that never fade – a glimpse into a matrix of consciousness that unifies and sustains all existence, an experience both to aspire to in our own meditation and against which other inner experiences could be measured. These, too, go to the very heart of the Guru-disciple relationship where the bridge between earth and heaven, matter and spirit is crossed – and our very understanding of what it means to be human is forever changed.