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Saturday, 13 February 2010

Darshan with Mother Meera, Bristol

Reflections on my encounter on Wednesday 10th February

I opted for the 10 a.m. Darshan in Bristol. I was planning to do some shopping or see a film afterwards, but the weather had other plans. I deliberately didn't read about Mother Meera beforehand; I wished to go with no pre-conceptions. I'd heard from others that they had found the experience positive.

The venue was a converted church about halfway up Park Street in Bristol. I arrived in good time, had my name checked off the 'guest' list and went in. The church was constructed somewhere around the Georgian era and has a balcony going around three sides of the central worship area. On the East wall is a carved and painted tryptych with Christ in the act of ascending in the middle, bordered by sculpted & painted Corinthian columns, plus two angels in separate bays to each side. The colours are mostly muted shades of brown and red with gold leaf highlighting the halos; so much so that the paintings almost look like marquetry work.

We were directed to sit in silence with footwear removed and placed under the seats. We waited in quiet and almost silence for about 40 minutes or so until 10 a.m. Right on time, we were directed to rise and Mother Meera came in. I heard definite, firm and fairly quick footsteps behind me before she swept past, wearing a glorious red, orange and gold sari. She seated herself on the stage in a chair provided.

The Darshan proceeded with people being asked out in rows. Each row of people knelt on a carpet down the central aisle. Anyone who could not or had difficulty kneeling was allowed to stand until joining their alloted place on stage. Those who could not kneel at this stage could also stand and were provided a chair to sit for the actual Darshan. Anyone who would not be able to get up the stairs would receive Darshan at the end, with Mother Meera coming to them.

So, people knelt or sat in front of Mother Meera in turn, bowing their heads. She gently placed her fingertips on each head, around the temple area. After about seven seconds or so, she withdrew her hands. At this point each person could look up at Mother Meera [and she would look at them]. The gaze was longer than in 'polite conversation' and wordless, about seven seconds yet again. Try it with someone you know; it's longer than it sounds.

After about 45 minutes or so, it was the turn of my row. I went and knelt on the central carpet. By this time, I was calm and fairly peaceful within and just waiting to see what - if anything - happened for me. Mother Meera's touch was gentle and confident, nurturing. As for looking at each other, she saw me. Complete, dispassionate and with loving acceptance. If you've seen 'Avatar', my perception is that the gaze of the Na'avi and their, 'I See You' is intended to be like this.

As I made my way back down the hill after-wards, the snow started! Since snow on the Mendip hills between Bristol and Glastonbury on untreated roads has proved a problem to traffic in the past, I decided that I'd rather get home while I could.

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