All of me

 

Recently I’ve been dealing with a personal problem, a vital issue.  I’m not sure my actions in this are terribly enlightened.  I offered it in prayer to my Guru a few days ago, and I found his answer helpful.  Of course, his “answer” might be the woven fabric of my imagination, or the throw up of my vital and mind; the answer could be what these parts of me want to hear.  But this is the message I got, if it is authentic:

“If you can’t surrender this to me, then I want you to accept the consequences, whatever they are, with a cheerful heart.  This is also surrender.”

I find this interesting.  I mean, the best thing is to never do anything wrong, and to act according to the will of our soul, with pure and perfect intention and effort.  But if I haven’t reached that point, I can still offer my actions to the Master.  And, as he said, if I can take the karmic consequences cheerfully then this is also a form of surrender.  Guru mentions various ways to know the will of God.  One way is to always act like an innocent child.  Another way is to meditate every day for long hours.  Another way is to ask the Master!   And then there is the way that Guru apparently mentioned in answer to my prayers: surrender both the actions and the consequences of the actions.  Don’t judge, don’t say, “Oh, I’m so bad, I’m so weak, I’m so disobedient.”  No, just offer it to Guru.  Let Guru see the action and the results that will or may come.  Let Guru be the judge and the fate maker.  This is the way I like.

Of course, along with acting and offering the action, and offering the eventual fruits, I also feel a strong urge to spend many hours a day reading Guru’s books, diving into Guru’s consciousness.  In my case, I think the steady intensification of aspiration must accompany my offering to Guru of what I think is wrong in my life.  They have to go together- offer the actions, and cry for God, for His Grace.  This makes sense to me.

When I lived with Guru in New York, during the last ten years of his earthly life, I made a lot of mistakes, I had a lot of problems.  But I felt that Guru always took my side.  He always made me feel he was on my side.  For example, I could never go on the Christmas Trip.  But I remember in late November 2005, it was the day before Guru left, one of the last trips, Guru had us walk by him.  He knew I couldn’t go.  When I walked by him, he looked at me with such concern.  He held my gaze for a long time and turned his head to see me walk away.

Two years ago I got very sick. I was bedridden for six or seven days.  All I did during that time was read Guru’s books- eight or nine hours a day.  I read them voraciously, and I took notes in the margins.  Some of them I read out loud from cover to cover.  I did nothing but read his writings, day after day.  After three or four days of intense reading, I felt Guru come into my room and sat by my bed. I could feel him with me, palpably in every way.  He said to me, “I love your aspiration.  I love your ignorance.  I love everything about you because I love you.”  Then he went away.  But the fragrance of his presence remained for days.

Once again, Guru had given me a fascinating message.  What I do outwardly is of no consequence relative to my openness to Guru’s love!  Am I going to perfect myself?  Am I going to transcend the sea of ignorance with my own efforts, and maybe a stepladder?  It’s absurd.  Guru has an extremely beautiful aphorism:

“Hope is at once our ancestor and descendent.”

(Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees)

It is hope that has gotten us this far, and it is hope that will push us forward to a new and higher life.  I can say the same about Guru’s love.

I got this experience in the context of a whole week reading Guru’s books voraciously and with utmost devotion.  I did not get this message out of the blue.  What’s important is maintaining contact with the Master.  This is especially true when the mountain of my mistakes looms large.  It’s funny- Guru said many times that when his disciples do wrong things, they don’t pray afterwards.  They just cherish a guilty conscience and suffer.  Prayer is so easy, but they won’t do it.

Please pray.

I have a friend whose been on the path longer than I’ve been on earth.  He’s an old man with callused hands and a skin problem.  I don’t see him much in New York these days, but I still call him from time to time.  He’s a soulful man, whose spent his whole life taking low pay menial jobs so that he has time to meditate.  I’ve visited him a few times over the years.  The very walls of his house resonate with his meditation-power.  When I used to work at the Oneness-Fountain-Heart, we were often extremely short staffed.  Once he came to help me as a selfless service.  He doesn’t know how to wait tables, and he works very slowly.  But the moment he came in, he gave me the most beautiful smile.  I had been having an aggravating day, but his smile made me forget all my problems.

I called him recently, and told him I’ve been having issues.  He said he didn’t need any outer details, but he offered to meditate with me over the phone.  We just meditated together.  I felt waves of love and light emanate from our silent phone communion, these waves just inundated my whole being.  We meditated for ten minutes.  At the end I said, “Thank you” and he said “Thank you too.”

I think our greatest service to the world is in our consciousness and aura.  That’s why we aspire.  Guru writes, and I apologize for quoting this so often:

“Inner wealth is to be acquired for distribution, and nothing else.”

(Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees)

For the past two days I’ve been listening obsessively to John Legend’s great art song “All of Me”.   At points in the song, I feel Guru is seated somewhere on a throne, a dear disciple is singing this song for him, and Guru’s is nodding, with his eyes closed.  Any song I love, Guru will also love, on the strength of his oneness.  “All of Me” I am sure will endure, as Schubert’s songs have endured, as Bach’s arias have endured.  It is a classic and will one day be added to the vast tapestry of classical music.

The melody is mesmerizing.  The words are obvious poetry.  It has a touch of Vaishnava beauty, just pure bhakti.

“I give you all of me, and you give me all of you.”

“All of me, loves all of you- loves all your curves and edges, loves your perfect imperfections.”

It reminds me of what Guru said to me, that he loves me, he loves me for who and what I am, and this love has no price tag and no condition.

Dave Hurwitz is one of the most brilliant critics alive.  And we have in common that Haydn is both of our favorite composer!  Here is what he has to say about another classical ensemble, the Beatles, and how we know they have entered the canon of classical music:

https://youtu.be/uRUYIPzFp4M?si=_Wkn8pUx0A-wu8FH

–Mahiruha

On getting my name

In the early fall of 2006 I got a call from my stepdad telling me that an investment he had made in my name many years ago had finally split (increased in value), and that he would be depositing thirty-one thousand dollars in my bank account.

I was elated to get so much money, but also very sad.  I couldn’t place my sadness.  Then, one Saturday night, I was meditating at our evening function with Guru, and I felt this overpowering longing to serve Guru.  I’ve never felt that before, I just felt the strongest love and devotion for Guru I have ever felt.  I wanted to do something for him while both of us were still on earth.  Tears were streaming down my face.

The following Wednesday I went to my bank and got a certified check made out in the amount of thirty-one thousand dollars.  I endorsed it and put it in the love-offering box that night, along with a letter to Guru outlining why I was giving him the money: I couldn’t for the life of me think of what I would do with it, and it made sense to just give it to my Master.

The next morning, around ten thirty, I was stocking the cooler at our vegetarian restaurant, The Oneness-Fountain-Heart, when I got a call from one of Guru’s attendants to come to the tent at Aspiration Ground, our meditation ground.  The attendant told me to come right away, and said to drive, not to walk.

Of course I told the cook I had to leave, entrusted the opening duties to the other waiters, and hopped in the car.  I played some late Beethoven string quartet on the deck to calm my nerves.  Interestingly, Guru had just answered my query on Beethoven and Bach a few weeks before.  He said that Beethoven’s last music, (which would include the last five string quartets of course) came to him through his third eye; God gave him the capacity to hear the music with his third eye after he lost his ability to hear.

Anyway, I parked the car, ran into the tent (our Aspiration-Ground is an outdoor amphitheater, but in the winter we put up a big white heated tent).  Guru saw me, and he told me to sit and meditate for a few minutes.  I saw from the people around him that he had been teaching songs and answering questions.  He wrapped up what he was doing, and the singers took their seats.  I was sitting near the front row, maybe the very front row.

I was really agitated and excited.  I knew I was about to get my spiritual name from him.  I should have just followed his instructions and meditated peacefully, but I was so emotionally hyper that I just sat there and remembered all the highest experiences I had had with Guru over the years, and with each recollection I offered him my deepest gratitude.

Guru usually did not ask people to meditate before giving them their names.  One boy told me later, “Wow, you must not have been in a high consciousness if Guru asked you to meditate!”  I laughed at that.  Guru has an extremely sympathetic nature and a sensitive heart.  I am not even referring to his occult and spiritual power.  I am just saying that, on a human level, he could feel that I was suffering from something, and wanted me to meditate to be a little more receptive.

I was dealing with an issue, and it’s something that has never left me.  I have not found an answer to it.  I just continue my sadhana anyway.  According to my friend, in life we need illumination, but if we don’t have illumination, then we have to have endurance.  But we have to have one of the two- either illumination or endurance.  Illumination is the best, but if we don’t have it, then we have to have endurance.

 

I looked at Guru from the front row, as I said, in a very agitated state, offering him my grateful heart.  And Guru just sat on his chair on the stage and looked at me.  He rested one arm on the arm rest and pressed his right index finger to the corner of his mouth and just looked at me.   This went on for a few minutes.  Sometimes he adjusted his position and lifted the left index finger to his lip.  He was just sitting in such a casual way, just looking at me.  It was meaningful to me because I was not outwardly close to Guru- I never went to his house, I never spoke to him.  And now I was the sole focus of his attention.  I had a similar experience at the smaller concert Guru gave after his mammoth Philadelphia Peace Concert in 1996.  He came back two weeks later and gave an intimate follow-up concert at an auditorium at the University of Pennsylvania.  I was one of the seekers who went to this intimate concert.  He played so many instruments, and was so focused on the music.  But when I closed my eyes halfway, I saw he was looking only at me.  I wasn’t even a disciple yet.  When I looked at him with my eyes open, he was concentrating on the music.  But when I looked through half-lidded eyes, I saw he was looking only at me.  And now, ten years later, I had a similar experience at the tent at Aspiration-Ground.

As Guru was looking at me, I felt that I began to meditate, to really meditate.  I know how to meditate because of my long association with my Master.  But at that moment, as Guru was looking at me, I started to meditate in a way I never have before or since.  It was like Guru’s silent gaze, for those few minutes, turned me into a Master of meditation.  I knew then how to meditate.  I meditated and meditated with utmost confidence.  I now realise that Guru’s force entered into me and meditated on my behalf.  I was just letting Guru meditate in and through me, and I just observed, fascinated.

And Guru was so calm.  He just looked and looked.  I was in a turbulent time in my life, agitated and nervous.  I was being tortured by the so called need for sex life, what Guru calls “vital life”.  This is a celibate path, and chastity, celibacy, is the biggest obstacle for me, I think.  It has been thirty years since I joined the path, and still in terms of purity and vital transformation I’m not sure I’ve made even a beginning.

But Guru wasn’t worried about my vital sins, my transgressions, my inner and outer crimes.  His silent gaze was addressing only my divinity, my soul, and he was bringing forward that hidden divinity.  I could feel it.

Then he called me up to the stage.  I stood in front of the stage and kneeled down, but he gestured that I should come around and sit at his feet.  As I sat in front of him, I saw him squirming a few times.  I could tell that my close physical proximity made him a little uncomfortable.  It can be physically painful for a God-realised soul to have to be in very close contact with someone who is not vitally or physically pure.  This is not elitism.  I could just see that my being so close to the Master was a little painful for him.  Sri Ramakrishna also suffered physically when he was touched by certain people.

At that same time, as I sat myself down, I saw that he still radiated this all-pervading calm.  I felt he was telling me “Look, I live without vital life, sex life, and I have infinite peace and light.  When you can overcome this so-called need, you can also have this kind of light.”  There was no judgment in his aspect or demeanor whatsoever.

I was looking up at Guru, and his eyes started moving back and forth, back and forth, at lightning speed, and they started climbing and climbing and his eyes started behaving strangely- one eye was moving in one pattern, and the other eye started moving in a completely different pattern and speed, but they both seemed to be working together.  And then his eyes went completely white!  And then he started breathing heavily and this smile spread over his face so broad I thought his face would crack, he was absolutely grinning ear to ear and it sounded like he was saying this long, aspirated, “Aaaaaahhhh!!!”  like a loud whisper.  And it was as if he recognised me, or once again he was acknowledging my soul, and my soul’s eternal relationship with him, and he was affirming that.  But when I say “recognition”, it was like his smile, his gaze, his aspirated “aaaaah!” were all the tokens of his recognition of a long-lost beloved friend, the real Friend in me, the soul.

And I had the strangest experience.  I was looking at Guru, watching him meditate, and as I was entering into the flow of his trance, I realised I was looking at Guru not as a disciple, but as a peer!  And I know this sounds utterly unbelievable- how can anyone, especially a disciple, say that he is equal to the Master?  And in my ordinary  consciousness, or even in my usual “highest” consciousness, I would never dare to say that- not in a million years!  But for just that infinitesimal fraction of a split second, I saw that I was in no way inferior to my Master.   I was his eternal friend, and I looked at him with the love and joy of absolute oneness-pride.

I guess there are two kinds of obedience.  There’s the obedience of doing everything the Master says.  And there’s the obedience of seeing ourselves the way the Master sees us.  When it comes to the first kind of obedience, outer obedience, perhaps I can be more in Sri Chinmoy’s Boat and less in my own boat.  But for that one iota of a nanosecond, I offered him the second obedience, I did what Guru wanted me to do more than anything else.  I saw my eternal oneness with him, and this is an experience that he vouchsafed me out of his infinite kindness, and I will treasure it throughout Eternity.

Then, Guru held an envelope over me, and I knelt down, and lowered my head, and he pressed it to the top of my head, saying “Very happy, very happy.”  And I got up and looked at him, and I saw he was blinking hard, trying to come back to this physical reality.  And he looked so humble, like a child who was trying to find his way back home, and he was struggling so hard just to orient himself to this plane.

I walked off the stage, and I looked at him one last time.  Guru looked at me with an expression that I struggle to describe.  It was like he had become as vast as the Himalayas, as extended as the ocean, as serene as the dawn.  He looked at me as from the top of Mount Everest, with infinite poise and infinite calm.  And I said to him, in silence, “Oh Master, I love you, and I love God, but I love other things too.  Oh Guru, what am I going to do?”

And he responded inwardly, “I will wait for you.  If necessary, forever.”

Randos, Beaches, Violins

 

I’ve been thinking more about loneliness recently.  As I mentioned in my last post, there are six billion people on the planet.  If you’re lonely, go and make friends!  I spoke about my friend Aaron in my last post.  I met him last winter on the Red Line subway.  I asked him, out of the blue, what he was studying and he said he was in a dual med school/PhD cohort.  So I recited for him, also out of the blue, one of my favorite passages from Sir Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici:

“I have resolved to pray more, and to pray always, to pray in all places where quietness inviteth- in the house, on the highway and on the street, and to know no street or passage in the city that may not witness that I have not forgotten God.”

Aaron was very impressed, both by my recitation and the beauty and depth of Sir Thomas Browne’s words.  Believe it or not, Sir Thomas Browne’s essays are funny, whimsical and very deep.  We know that America’s greatest novelist, Herman Melville, lived in the Civil War/Gilded Age era, but many scholars consider him to be a Renaissance writer, along with Shakespeare and Andrew Marvell.  This is because he is Sir Thomas Browne’s only disciple in posterity.  Please read Religio Medici, if you can.

Anyway, I got Aaron’s phone number, and now we text and chat and go to dinner and museums, we commiserate over each other’s struggles.  I made a new friend.  Do not allow social media to atomise you.  We all need real connection.  That’s what E.M. Foster said: “Only connect.”  It is so true.  Just connect.

As I mentioned earlier, I call my program of meeting random people and making friends with them “Dinner with Rando” because, after our initial connection, I invite them out to cheap ethnic restaurants and we talk.  “Rando” just means someone you don’t know, although it has a somewhat derogatory connotation- like someone who shows up uninvited to social occasions.  Anyway, another “rando” who is now my friend, Tom, has been very inspired by the poems I have recited to him and sent to him over the past few months, so he sent me one of his poems that he has just written:

 

“There are three things one can do

To grow their neck:

One: look down in prayer

And grow long like the willow.

Two: Look up at the sky like

A flower opening

To the sun.

Three: Hold your head high.”

I told Tom that I am so grateful and honored that these poems have inspired him to discover the poet in himself.

There’s a group of late middle-aged, Catholic men I have grown close to at my college gym.  They’re all businessmen who’ve been quite successful, but now they are tired.  They very much appreciate when I recite Guru’s poems for them.  I was sitting with my friend Nick at the college juice bar.  He is a businessman in his early sixties.  He asked me to recite Sri Chinmoy’s poems, and he gave me a list of four topics, and I just recited and recited for him while he meditated.

 

“Float with the current
If you have nothing to give.
Float with the current
If you have only to dance aimlessly.

Float not with the current
If you have something to give.
Float not with the current
If you have something to give unreservedly.”

 

“When the son grows old,
His parents’ love does not diminish.
When the sun disappears
Behind the screen of evening-night,
Our love does not diminish.
Absence of beauty’s light
And
Light’s beauty
Can never take away
Our power of realisation-love.”

Sri Chinmoy, Sound becomes. Silence is, Agni Press, 1975

“Not to swerve from the path of truth
You saw the light of day.

To serve man and become perfect
You saw the light of day.

To become the Satisfaction-silence of God
You saw the light of day.”

 

Afterwards he thanked me and told me he had recently ordered, from Ganapati Press, volume V of Sri Chinmoy’s poetry and had begun studying it.  He told me I was a great help to him in his study because it’s easier to assimilate spiritual poetry when you hear it out loud.  I can only agree.

A few years ago I had a dream that I was walking by Chicago’s lake shore, by the outer hills that lead out onto the sandy beach.  Many homeless men camp out there in the night.  In my dream, it was early morning, and I saw a disheveled homeless Black man come out of his tent.  He was holding a battered violin case.  I watched, fascinated, as he put down the old case and took out a tattered violin.  He then leaned it on his shoulder and began to play a transcription of the opening movement of Bach’s first cello suite.  The notes were shaky and bedraggled, but I could recognize the piece.  Somewhat hesitantly, I went up to him.

“What are you?” I asked randomly.

He looked at me and said, “I am an unconditional Smile.”

He paused and then said, “I am an absolute Smile.”

After another brief silence he said, “I am an endless and eternal Smile.”

I fell to the ground and clutched and kissed His Feet, for I knew I was in the presence of an emanation of my Lord, Sri Chinmoy.  Like Babalu-Aye, the derelict cripple of the Yoruba mythology who bestows Compassion on mankind, so my Guru takes many humble forms to inspire and uplift the world.

On 26 August 2021, the day before I was to leave for New York to recite the one thousand poems from the Wings of Light, I was walking back from the grocery store when an elderly homeless Black man crossed in front of me pushing a shopping cart full of junk.  He was wearing a beaten up top hat and a scarf, in spite of the hot weather.  I immediately dropped my groceries and folded my hands.  The man turned to me and gave me a cryptic smile and waved four or five times, enthusiastically.  I knew, and he knew that I knew.

Dinner With Rando

 

 

First, a poem I wrote recently!

 

                                Beads 

I committed myself to the light

Through vows

And prayers

And a thousand

Abstinences,

Yet you always bring

The night

Into

My room.

Like the wind

You move so quietly.

But under me

You are cool water,

And I am the sun

That warms only

Your surface

While your depths

Remain

Unknown

And cold,

Dark

As the autumn

Flower

You pass along

To me,

Oblivious

To the click

Of the

Rosary.

 

–15 June 2024

 

 

I’ve been reading a lot about male loneliness, and I guess it’s real.  Interestingly, our Guru, Sri Chinmoy, says that loneliness is just either conscious or unconscious aloofness. I’d have to agree.  With six billion people on the planet to talk to, how can I feel lonely?

I like what the Master says in his book Obedience or Oneness:

 

“Even if you don’t have two friends, inside me is a friend who is more than enough for you.”

In medieval Christian monasteries, close friendships between the monks were forbidden, the friendship must be with the entire community, and with God.  I respect that position, to treat all people as manifestations of God, and to eschew attachment.  Again, even in my work life, I see I have had coworkers that I was very fond of, we had a bond of affection that had nothing to do with attachment.  Between these few people and me there was a resonance, a deep understanding, and a similarity in outlook.

Since I belong to a sangha, a spiritual family, I have to put up with irritating people.  Sometimes, I find the best thing is just to say “I’m sorry, my fault” until people leave me alone.  They have to feel that they are right, and that I’m totally in the wrong.  Fine!  Just let me have a few seconds of peace.

Again, I live in Chicago, which has a small Centre, and we’re all basically loners so I don’t really have anyone in my community to talk to.  I do call disciples around the world quite often, but I still feel a little isolated.

One of the ways of relieving that isolation is to go to my local gym, which is part of a college.  A lot of the students are academically brilliant, but they don’t really know anything about life.  I remember one boy in the sauna asked me for some life advice and I told him what my great aunt told me: “Don’t get married, don’t have children.”  His face lit up!  He said, “Wow!  That’s what my great-great grandfather said in 1920- ‘Don’t have kids, stay single and live in a hotel.’  It’s been passed down from generation to generation!”

I didn’t know how to respond to that, and I thought it would be cruel to point out the irony, so I just nodded sagely.

I’ve started a program called “Dinner with Rando”.  I often meet young men at the gym or on the subway, the dangerous and infamous Chicago Red Line.  But the Red Line services some of the local colleges.  So I’ll get to strike up conversations with college kids and grad students and we’ll discuss many things and I’ll often share poems with them.  I usually get their contact info and I’ll invite them to dinner at one of several ethnic restaurants: Korean, Thai, Ethiopian or Turkish.

I’ve never met them before- hence they are randos.  “Rando” is a slightly derogatory term coined by Gen Z influencers.  It means people who show up uninvited to parties; parties are often called “bangers” in young persons’ vernacular.

“Hey I saw this total rando at the banger!”  is a phrase I’ve heard more than once.

A rando can also be someone who is out of context.  For example, some guys in the gym were talking about Kendrick Lamar, a gifted rapper whose music tends to be reflective and moody.  I interrupted them to ask if any of them liked Haydn.  They all looked at me as if I was some kind of rando- which I was.

I assuage my loneliness by inviting these college randos out to dinner.  It’s a fun way to get to know them and I also get to share a little bit of Guru’s light with these guys.  On subsequent outings I take them to the Chicago Art Institute or to classical music concerts.  Some of them have even been inspired enough to meditate with me at the Centre!

Often these young men will thank me for listening to them, they don’t really have a lot of people to talk to.  They like the fact that I can just spontaneously make friends with total strangers, and they’re flattered I chose them.

Male loneliness is real, but it’s not unconquerable.

I was eating Ethiopian food with my new friend Aaron, and I asked him if he minded the fact that I call this program “Dinner With Rando”.  And he said he thought it was funny.  Aaron is in a combined med school/PhD program with a grueling study and project schedule: seventeen hours a day, seven days a week, for the duration of the quarter.  On rare occasions he’ll take a day off.  I just have to admire that kind of dedication to reach a goal.  I’ve been spending around eight hours a day trying to find a new job, just knocking on doors and making phone calls and visiting trucking companies and furniture stores and warehouses.  I get discouraged by all the interviews that go nowhere, all the rejection form letters.  But it’s nothing compared to Aaron’s workload.

His dad’ s a medical researcher, and a workaholic, so Aaron follows in his footsteps.  Born in Canada, Aaron relocated to Florida when he was a sophomore in high school.  In Canada, the high school kids were allowed to roam the city during the lunch break, go to a café, and then return after the hour.  But Florida was different!  Due to the prevalence of school shootings, the school was surrounded by a high wall.  There were armed guards at all the exits.  Everyone had to go through a security checkpoint, including an airport security style x-ray.  You could not leave the school until the end of the day, at any time, for any reason.  And the coup de grace?  Every student was gifted with six bathroom passes per class for the entire year!  I wonder if the six coveted bathroom passes were traded about on the black market for cigarettes a la Shawshank Redemption.

“But,” I asked, incredulously, “What if you really have to go and you’ve run out of bathroom vouchers?”

“Just tough it out,” he said.

“They should have at least given you a can, or at the very least let you go relieve yourself by the electrified razor wire fence!” I said.

“No such luck.”

 

Farm animals have it better than this!

Welcome to America.

 

After he had told me about how he got into the University’s combined no-sleep PhD/Med School cohort, he asked me about my life.  I told him how I had searched for a teacher for many years, and when I saw Sri Chinmoy at the Philadelphia Peace Concert, long twenty-eight years ago now, my entire being was absolutely flooded with unfathomable joy.  I knew right away I had found my teacher.  I also told Aaron about some of the dreams I had, years before I saw Sri Chinmoy in the physical.  This was when I had just graduated high school, and I was very sad because I had not gotten into the college of my choice.  I felt so empty and barren.  But I had strangely imagistic dreams that seemed to suggest a brighter destiny for me.

I related one dream to Aaron, that I haven’t thought about in years.  In my dream, I lived in a secret compartment in a shopping mall, and the little secret room was separated from the rest of the mall by a pane of one-way glass: I could see all the people shopping, but they couldn’t see me.  My companion was just a simple doll, a plastic baby doll.  I held it to my chest and I loved it.

But one day, I left the compartment, and I left my plastic “baby” and I went out into the wider world.  I explored forests and I sailed on oceans and wandered through endless fields of wildflowers. And then I remembered I had a child, that I had totally forgotten!  And I rushed halfway across the world, through parks and forests and urban jungles, and I ran into the mall and found my way into my secret hideaway, and the baby was lying face-down on the ground, and it was green.  It was dead.  I picked it up and held it, and I cried and cried.  I woke up weeping.

What I did not tell Aaron, but is clear to me now, is that people might not be able to understand my life or my experiences.  I was born with physical disabilities, with a different temperament, and also with an innate longing for something beyond the satisfaction of the senses.  That’s why the window was made of one-way glass.  I can see the world, but I can never fully participate in it.  I have to derive my values from some other source than the market or the mall.  And I can wander the whole world, see all of its wonders, but the only treasure that matters is my baby, my cheap plastic baby, my soul.

In one sense, I am concerned about getting a new job.  My unemployment benefits will run out in the beginning of August.  All I’m getting are rejections.  But in another sense, I don’t care in the slightest.  As long as I’m doing everything I can to get a new assignment, I don’t care what happens to me.  I found Guru in this life!  I have had firsthand experiences of God!  Yes, the outer world is essential, but I don’t have to worry.  I already have what I need.

I explained to Aaron what I felt the dream meant, in a way that was rational and appropriate to a new seeker.  He nodded his head and his face seemed to shine.

As I write this, I realise that these meals with strangers give me the chance to talk about my spiritual life in a way that other people can understand.  And by sharing my journey in this direct way, I remind myself why I came to the spiritual life in the first place.  It restores something in me that maybe I’ve lost touch with over the years- that original sincerity I started with.

I also recited twenty of Guru’s poems for him, including Guru’s great poem on Nirvana: “The Absolute.”

Towards the end of our meal, told him about Guru’s lengthy, extemporaneous comments about Beethoven and Bach, which Aaron especially enjoyed.  He was intrigued that someone like Sri Chinmoy, who never studied their music, could speak on them in such exhaustive detail just from his inner, meditative knowledge.

Anyway, when I take randos out for meals, I pay- at least the first time.  Aaron told me he’ll definitely reciprocate by taking me out in July.  I hope it’s not someplace too fancy, as the ethnic restaurants I love usually only have one light bulb.  But the food’s delicious.  On the way out, I gave him a copy of Beyond Within, and he told me he’ll read it.  I don’t know if he will, but I like Beyond Within to be distributed everywhere.

Next week: Adventures With Rando

The Many Joys Of Job Hunting

 

I went to a transportation center yesterday, a truck depot where they train new truck and bus drivers.  I signed up for a four week paid training to get my CDL (commercial driver’s license) so I can perhaps become a school bus or truck driver.  One of the reasons I am doing this is because I’m getting into logistics and carrier sales which involves interacting with lots of truck drivers and shippers.  If I can get some truck driving experience I’ll have a leg up when I dive into that world.

I’ve been following the r/sales subreddit.  I tend to stay away from reddit, but this forum has a lot of useful information which has helped me in my job search.  There’s a section on r/sales for new salesmen, people like me who are trying to break into the industry.  One tip is not to apply for jobs online, but to try to find the hiring managers or sales managers and to call them directly.  When people apply for jobs on the companies’ hiring page, the best they can hope for is that they will get contacted by a recruiter.  The job of a recruiter is to *screen you out*!  Also, recruiters don’t even make the hiring decisions- those are made by people in the actual departments, or by higher level executives.

Alas, sometimes I have no choice but to interview with recruiters.  Some of the larger logistics companies may have local offices here in Chicago, but these offices don’t have their own phone number, and all calls are routed through the central office which can be in a different city.  There’s no way to call the hiring or sales managers directly.  I end up filling out online applications, and waiting for the recruiters to call me.

Usually, I’ll get rejected without even an initial interview.  I’ll get a message  from HR saying, “Competition for this job is high, and we have made the difficult decision not to move forward with your application.”

The difficult decision.

 

That’s what Beethoven wrote on his last string quartet, Opus 135- “The Difficult Decision”.

I mean, putting down a beloved pet dog because you can no longer take care of it properly is “a difficult decision”.

Deciding not to move forward on a total stranger’s job application, in a sea of other digital applications, should not be a difficult decision.  Of course, these “difficult decision” emails come from a no-reply third-party account, so I can’t write a letter back, saying, “You know, I know that must have been a really difficult decision for you to make, because you said it was a difficult decision.  But remember, life is full of difficult decisions, and in spite of this crushing blow, please, please, not for a single second should you blame yourself.  No!  I’ll be okay, I will carry on, l I WILL LIVE!”

Another stock phrase I encounter in these “we can’t move forward letters” is “We were impressed with your credentials!”

We were impressed with your credentials!

I just imagine a CEO getting up on a chair, holding up my printed resume to the light, and shouting, “This is the ONE- the chosen, the sales messiah!  Too bad we’re full up,” and he hands it to his assistant to put in the paper shredder.

Sometimes recruiters will send me form letters, once again, containing the obligatory “difficult decision” that they can’t move forward with my application, along with the usual “competition is high”, and how “impressed we were” by my overwhelming list of accomplishments- but from their own email accounts, which can take replies.  In that case I’ll send a tongue-in-cheek reply, stating, “I really appreciate the time and care you spent crafting that letter, John.  By the way, could you please send me the email and phone number of the hiring and sales manager?”

But about a third of the time I do get interviews with recruiters.  And, while recruiters don’t have the power to hire me, it’s never a waste of time to talk to them.  The interviews usually last half an hour, but I usually spend about five hours preparing- researching the company, watching videos on best practice in cold calling and customer contact.  I learn a lot just from preparing for them.  Also, I get to polish my interview skills, be a ham, and ask questions about the company and what the recruiter is looking for.  I’ve listed on my resume my achievements in poetry memorization, and so I enjoy talking about that.  The recruiters I’ve spoken to have all been really nice people.  I can discern that they wish me well, but they also acknowledge the fact that they don’t make the hiring decisions.

I have been successful, thankfully, in calling and connecting with some hiring managers at smaller local freight brokerages.  So, we will see…

I’m a little nervous about becoming a truck driver, even temporarily, just because the profession tends to attract serial killers.  Really.  Twenty-five serial killers are currently serving life sentences for murders they committed while driving trucks.  Truck drivers all tend to sleep in the same truck motels off the interstates.  So, at night I could be sleeping in a motel full of latent Norman Bates, just waiting for me to close my eyes and drift off.   I’ve thought about putting up a sign on the door of my suite saying,  “I am not a serial killer” just to reassure the hotel staff and other non-truck driving guests.  But then that could attract the attention and ire of the other truck drivers, and I need to stay on their “good side”.  So, I’ve concluded that if I do stay at one of these hotels during an interstate long haul, my sign should read “I am a serial killer”.

Of course, getting into sales isn’t a bowl of cherries either.  The salesmen I’ve spoken to, whether in health care, logistics, or medical technology, all look a little haggard, with a hollow, vacant stare.  It’s a demanding job.  Your soul is the first thing you sell as a salesmen- and to the lowest bidder, too!  One of the hottest threads on the r/sales subreddit is “Why are we all amphetamine users?”  Followed by “Why are all salesmen alcoholics?”  Followed by “How can I take my clients out to dinner and still be sober enough to drive them home?”

Great, I’ll be working eleven hours a day in a call center with a bunch of junkies selling transportation solutions to a bunch of serial killers!  This is exactly the future I had envisioned when I graduated college!  Well, wish me luck!  I have to go to work on my script!

“Sorry to bother you- please don’t kill me…”

Notes from the 22nd May Centre meeting,

I’ve been reading some of the notes I jot down after Centre meditations here in Chicago.  I bring a notebook with me to both the Wednesday and Saturday meditations, and I’ll just scribble some impressions of what I saw and felt.

From this past Wednesday, the 22nd of May, 2024, I wrote:

“Tonight I entered into a blissful state where I felt I had no mind, I was just a child again, and I knew I could depend on Guru unconditionally to meet all my needs- I just had this sense of blissful assurance.  At another point I felt that Guru’s light was touching my inner self, along with all my inner problems- there was no part of my being that did not feel the touch of Guru’s radiance.  I felt he was answering my unspoken, unknown prayers.  Right at the moment when the silent part of the meeting ended, I felt a deep silence, and in that silence I perceived my heart’s oneness with Guru and Guru’s inseparable oneness with me as well.

“After the silent portion of the meditation, we watched a video of our Guru singing songs he dedicated to the Avatars.  It was an outdoor concert, and Guru was seated on a platform in front of a huge pinwheel-type backdrop, each blade of the pinwheel featured a Jharna-Kala bird.  He sang songs for five Avatars:

Namo Namo Buddha Deber (For Lord Buddha)

Jishu Avatar (For Jesus Christ)

Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Ramakrishna joy hok taba joy (Sri Ramakrishna)

Nimai, Nimai (for Sri Chaitanya)

Sri Aurobindo Kandari Tumi Bhava Taranir (Sri Aurobindo)

Guru sang the last song, for Sri Aurobindo, five times.  The other Avatar songs he sang twice.”

It’s helpful to keep a diary, to write down my inner experiences.  I don’t mind sharing them.  Guru will eternally operate through his Transcendental Photograph.  The experiences that I had with him in the physical are still available, in that Photograph.  The Transcendental is  a photograph taken of Sri Chinmoy in 1967, in his absolutely highest consciousness, where he is one with the Supreme.  When Guru was in the physical, I felt his light even with my physical body.  My teeth and bones responded to the light he brought down at PS 86, and at Aspiration-Ground.  Now that my Guru is in the spirit, it takes me a few minutes to enter into the Transcendental, but once I go one step beyond the lowest, ordinary kind of meditation, I am in communion with Guru’s light again.  At the Centre meetings, it’s like a light bulb inside the Transcendental pops on after the first minute, and I am swimming in his Consciousness again.

Incidentally, I think Guru sang the Sri Aurobindo song at every single Peace Concert he ever gave (more than seven hundred in total).  Sri Chinmoy, my Guru, lived in the Sri Aurobindo ashram for twenty years.  He said that when he first came to the ashram in 1944, after the first night Sri Aurobindo used to appear before him in his subtle spiritual body, at two in the morning, pinch him, and tell him that it was time to get up to meditate.

I think Sri Aurobindo helped my Master to recover his previous God-realisation.  Sri Chinmoy remained grateful to Sri Aurobindo and honored him in so many ways, throughout his life.  Guru proved the importance of gratitude, and honoring people who help us.  I like the following poem he wrote for Sri Aurobindo:

“Aurobindo — the perfect definition

Of a God-oneness-seeker.

Sri Aurobindo — the absolute definition

Of God the Supreme.”

 

You can find the song here:

https://www.srichinmoysongs.com/aurobindo-the-perfect-definition

It is very affecting and moving.

 

Interestingly enough, for the first six months of my employment with the health food store, I worked with a very nice young college student named Jack.  We shared a deep love of classical music.  He played the French horn, I think.  And we often discussed our favorite pieces by Beethoven and Bach.  I noticed he asked me many questions about my name, and my spiritual path.  One day, he revealed to me that he had lived as a monk in a Hare Krishna ashram, for two years.  He spent all his time chanting, praying and doing selfless service.  In the Hare Krishna movement, this monastic novitiate phase is preparatory to one of two options: either the seeker takes solemn vows and becomes a lifelong brahmacharya (a celibate devotee), or they accept the householder path, leave the monastic life, but keep a close connection with the temple.  He told me almost everyone takes the householder path.  Very few people become monastics.  That’s why he found it so inspiring that I live in the world as a brahmacharya.

I had no idea Jack had been a Hare Krishna monk, and so I said “Oh, I thought you were just another mlechha!”  [Mleccha is a Bengali term used by the Hare Krishnas to indicate people who do not follow the Sanatan Dharma, the eternal teachings set out in the Vedas.  I used the word humorously]

“No!” he said, laughing, “I am not a dog eater!”

It was nice working with a Hare Krishna because he understood many aspects of my life spontaneously, and I understood him, too.  He had tremendous respect for Guru.  When he happened to visit the Theosophy Society Library in Wheaton, Illinois, he was very excited to tell me that they had a large collection of Sri Chinmoy’s books.  (I have yet to go!)

I told him once that Sri Chinmoy remarked that the Avatar experiment is over.  There will be no more Avatars.  The gap between the Avatars and humanity is too great.  The experiment did not yield the progress that the Supreme had expected.  I told Jack that my Guru had painted millions and millions of birds.  He once remarked that the next phase of spiritual evolution involves the descent into the world of many, many souls with a very illumined consciousness.  They will not be God-realised souls, but they will be far superior to ordinary human beings.  The presence of so many illumined beings cannot but help to elevate the general human standard.  And the millions of birds that Sri Chinmoy has drawn is indicative of the numbers in which these beings will come to earth.

And with utmost kindness and affection Jack placed his hands on my shoulders and said, “Here’s one.”

Cold Calling The Cold Callers

 

I lost my supermarket job recently, and now I’m in the process of looking for a new career.  I feel drawn to sales, because I’m personable and reasonably charming and have the gift of gab.  I’m drawn to logistical sales because it means I’ll do a lot of cold calling.  It’s a grind.  But it’s the kind of grind that will turn you very quickly into a good salesman.  If you can handle making one hundred cold calls a day to people who hate you on a molecular level, you’ll be able to survive in any sales environment.  Also, the money’s good.

Right now, I’m cold calling salesmen in the Chicago area to get some pointers as to how to break into the business.  A lot of them hang up on me.

It’s not good for my self-esteem: the people that everyone hangs up on, hang up on me.  What does that make me?

The other day, another salesman hung up on me when I asked if he could advise me as to what companies I should apply to.  So, I sent him a text message thanking him for his time.  He sent me, in response, two emojis: an American flag and a smiley face.  That was really helpful.

I have a pretty thick skin.  I can roll with the punches.  And I’ve found a couple of friendly salesmen who have gladly given me their time and advice.  “You’re talking to me!”  I gasped, when one salesman started telling me all about the business, how he got started, and the best companies to work for.  He laughed at that, he knows a lot of people in the field aren’t very personable.

I think I might have an edge over some b2b cold callers in that I’ve worked in customer service for many years and have developed a little bit of sweetness and gregariousness.  I genuinely like people and like selling products I can believe in.  I won’t call businesses without trying to find some way to connect with their buying managers on a personal level.  There’s always a way.

You have to find the hook.

One sales manager that I spoke with had played football at Southern Illinois.  Also his mom’s an audiologist.  I know this because I scoured his social media accounts before calling him!  Maybe I’m a snake, but I like knowing about the people who might potentially hire me!  When I got the gentleman on the line, I began by saying, “I’m sorry if I ask you to repeat yourself, I’m a little hearing impaired, and therefore I belong to the same population that your mother has worked with for many years.”

He was impressed that I knew something about him, and had leveraged that information right off the bat to make the conversation pleasant.  He told me it’s a much better hook than saying, “Hey I’m looking for a job, can you help me?”

Salesmanship is all about empathy, understanding that you’re taking up the client’s time and so you have to make the interaction worth their while.

Business to business cold calling might not afford me the luxury of researching people, because I’ll be making a hundred or more calls a day.  I want to learn more about finding ways to make cold calls a little warmer.

If I do get a job in logistics, then I’ll be working with lots of truck drivers and shippers and receivers and mechanics and DOT people to get the products from one geographical area to another, either by train or by truck or by boat.  I’ll also have to reach out to all kinds of businesses to see if the particular company’s services that I’ll be working for are a match.  I expect a lot of people will hang up on me.  I will still try to make each cold call personable and honest.  It will be a challenge.  Logistics guys are gruff and blunt.  But I referee wrestling matches.  I’ve heard it all!

I think I’ll be able to find a hook, even as a cold caller.

I often apply for jobs, connect with recruiters, and then I’ll never hear back from the company.  The recruiters tell me that they will pass along my information to the hiring manager, but I never hear from those managers.  The trail goes dead.  I think that’s because I’m forty-eight years old and am therefore a non-traditional candidate.

But don’t these companies want people who know how to work?  I stayed at my last job for eight years!  I worked in restaurants twenty years prior to that!  I have tremendous resilience and amazing customer service skills, skills I’ve developed over a quarter century of working!  Doesn’t that mean anything?

It doesn’t- not in their eyes.  Many companies want only fresh, young people.  I’m fresh, in my aspiration and spiritual life, but I am not physically young.  This is just another barrier I have to cross.  The challenge is to find companies that won’t discriminate against me because of my age.  This is why I’m reaching out to sales managers directly without bothering with recruiters.  Recruiters’ job is to screen people out.  If I can call a manager directly, have a warm, funny conversation with him or her, then I can show that I’ve got the skills.  I don’t need to go through human resources, or worry about my age, if I can demonstrate I’ve got the abilities to succeed.

There are always obstacles.  Life is hard.  Because of my physical disabilities, I’m pretty sure I could get money from the government and live a very modest life off of that.  But I want to work.  I think work is a means of self-discovery, and also I can reach out to people and share some of what I’ve learned from Guru with them.  Most truck drivers and logistics people won’t want a long poem, necessarily, but they might like Guru’s shorter, punchy aphorisms, or at least if I can convey some of Guru’s light by listening, empathizing and identifying, then my job is still manifestation, somehow.

I’m on my third cycle of reading the hard cover Ganapati Press editions of “Sri Chinmoy Answers”.  These books are pricelessly beautiful and helpful, in every way.  His books have taught me persistence, focus, empathy and poise- all qualities which are measurelessly prized in the business world.  One day, I’m sure his question and answer books will be quoted and applied in business courses.  I’m happy I got a head start.

A dream

 

I feel Guru’s poetry has become my passport to the outer world.  I approach people on the train, on the street, in shopping malls, at the grocery store and I ask them if they would like to hear a poem.  Some people tell me to go away, and I happily do.  But most people agree to a short poem.  As our Guru Sri Chinmoy’s poems possess such simplicity and natural beauty, it almost always makes them smile and think and reflect.

One of my favorite poems comes from The Goal Is Won, a book I have only recently learned.  It is this one:

“Lying in the sun
May warm your body,
But it will not elevate your life.

“Crying in the night
May console your heart,
But it will not accelerate
The progress of your soul.

I assure you,
Dying in nothingness
May fascinate others’ eyes,
But it will not fulfil your Goal.”

Sri Chinmoy, The Goal is won, Sri Chinmoy Centre, New York, 1974

 

I recited this for one older disciple in New York, this past April, and he said the poem embodies a deep reflection on sadhana, and also may refer to the Buddhist concept of dying in nothingness to achieve Nirvana, and how our path is different.  Our path is the path of dynamism, and not extinction.

I also shared it with an older artist I met on the bus, and he said this poem inspires him to pay more attention to each moment, to be awakened to each moment.

 

I often have a recurring dream about walking through the campus of a college in Chicago, but this college does not exist.  In my dream, it is called St Thomas University, and it is located on a steep hill overlooking the lake.  Chicago has no hills, obviously this school does not exist on the physical plane.  But it is an old, august college, huge classical architecture.  Anyway, I was taking the school trolley in my dream, when a college boy approached me and said, “Mahiruha!”

I looked at him, but I did not recognize him.  He asked me to get off the bus, and that he had a gift for me.  It was a warm summer’s day, and I had nothing to do, so I followed him out at the next stop.  He led me past the school’s cathedral, huge and beautiful, and into a big auditorium.  We were alone.  There was a little closet by the double doors of the hall and he reached in and pulled out a new kurta, still in its plastic wrapper.  On top of the kurta was a little card.  He handed me the kurta and the card.  I looked at the card, and the boy had written that I wouldn’t remember him, but that a few years earlier I had given him a book of poems by Sri Chinmoy, and these poems had changed his life.  They had helped him to understand the mission of Jesus Christ much more deeply, and that he recites and concentrates on these poems every day as part of his devotions.  I was crying and crying in my dream and the young man was also crying.

I woke up with tears streaming down my face and I had the strongest urge to google St. Thomas University in Chicago, but I know it’s only a dream.

A discussion on the Red Line

 

About a week ago, I was riding the subway here in Chicago- the rowdy Red Line.  It was late, and I was almost at the end of my journey, I was three stops away from Sheridan.  The doors opened at the Addison/Wrigley Field stop, and a bunch of long-suffering Cubs fans got on, along with a bunch of college students.  Two young men also boarded the train- both clean cut, nicely dressed in plaid shirts and khakis, athletic looking and charming.  They sat next to me.  I greeted them with a universal “Wassup!” and they smiled and laughed.

They asked me where I was coming from.  I told them I was coming from a wild party, and then confessed I was just coming from the gym.  Their faces were a little flushed, maybe from refreshments.  I asked if they were college students and they said they had recently graduated with degrees in finance and international business.  They told me their names were Eli and Zach.  When I told them my name was “Mahiruha,” their faces lit up.  One of them said “Mahiruha” five or six times, and then asked me if it was an Indian name.  I told him it was and that I meant fast-ascending tree.  He was really inspired by that and he asked me if I meditate.  I told him I did, and I also practice spiritual reading and mantras.

He asked me if he could clarify for him what the word “mantra” means and I just said that a mantra is simply any word whose very sound invokes the essence of the word.  And I told him mantras can be written in any language.

He asked me if I could be more specific, and I said “Sure!” and I reached into my satchel and pulled out my transcript for “The Goal Is Won”.  I told him these were 360 mantras written by my spiritual teacher, and I had recently recited them all from memory at a private conference in New York.  I told him to turn to any page, to give me just the first couple of words, and I would recite the first four or five poems.

He turned to a particular page, and read out “Lord, take my heart…”

And I recited the following four poems:

 

“Lord, take my heart to be Your pleasure,

Lord, take my love to be Your treasure.

Lord, let my life be claimed

Entirely by You, only by You.”

 

“For three reasons God loves me:

I have given up my animal pride,

I have forgotten my human ignorance,

I treasure my life divine.”

 

“Fulfilment is man’s choice,

For fulfilment is man’s voice.

In fulfilment is earth’s noise.

 

Vision is God’s choice,

For vision is God’s Voice.

In Vision is Heaven’s Noise.”

 

“Death is hunger,

I am anger.

Life is query,

I am weary.

God is choice,

Man is voice.

Truth is soul,

Love is Goal.”

They were speechless!  They knew that I wasn’t lying, and, more importantly, that I considered these poems to be significant and valuable enough that I would dedicate six months of my life to learning them all.

Eli told me that he thought these poems were extraordinary.  He then told me, a little shyly, that he tries to do the same thing with the Bible, committing Christ’s utterances to memory.  He told me that he and Zach are Christians.

I found that an interesting statement- he was so impressed with these poems that he consciously associated them with the sayings of Jesus.

I wrote down the name “Sri Chinmoy” on a piece of paper and also the title of the book “The Goal is Won”.  I also wrote my name and contact information.  They both thanked me and told me that meeting me and hearing these poems was the highlight of their day.  They definitely made my day, too.

The evolving referee

 

A few months ago I went to a wrestling tournament in Illinois, hosted by a Christian school.  I try to go to this one every year, as it’s the largest wrestling invitational in the country.  Chicago is in Illinois, but somehow it doesn’t feel like it.  Chicago is a world unto itself, and bears little resemblance to the rest of the state, politically or socially.  Anyway, this city is about a hundred miles west of Chicago, so the evening before I took a couple different trains to get there and arrived around eight o’clock at night.  I met my Airbnb hostess, a lady who keeps her small house absolutely shining and immaculate for the steady stream of guests.  I left my stuff in my nicely appointed room with its big soft bed and walked over to the college.  I suppose it makes sense that the hosting school is a Christian college as wrestling is a very rural American sport, manly in a Christian sort of way.  Lots of wrestlers have quotations from the Bible tattooed on their bodies and many of them bring their pocket New Testaments to the tournaments.  Often the guys pray and point to the heavens before bouts.

I don’t usually discuss my spiritual life with devout Christians.  At least, I don’t tell them about Guru, I tend to keep our conversations Christ-centered.  This school is the most respected and probably also the most conservative and single-focused of all the Bible colleges in the US.  Many of the students are children of missionaries.  It’s not the place to break out my mala beads and to chant from the Shiva Ratri.  They would not be able to understand a spiritual tradition apart from the Christian faith.  So, how do I go about offering Guru’s light if I can’t talk about Guru?  This is a quandary, a dilemma.

At the same time, because it is a religious school, the students are different from the kids I meet at other colleges.  Alcohol is prohibited, as are drugs of any kind.  Chapel is mandatory, lasts two hours and is held three days a week.  Every student carries a Bible with them everywhere they go.  When I go to this tournament, and I go every year, I will sometimes stop a student (not a wrestler!) in his tracks and just ask him a random philosophical question, like “What is beauty?  Or “Mind and brain- same or different?”  And no matter what else he has to do, very often this random college guy will talk to me for ten minutes and tell me his thoughts on the subject.  His arguments will be thoughtful, practiced and supported by wide and deep reading.  I invariably come away from these conversations impressed.

And it’s not totally true either that I can’t mention Guru or my own spiritual path.  Some of the guys there have expressed tremendous interest in the meaning and origin of my name, and how I got it from an Indian Guru.  I’ve been rejected out of hand as a non-Christian, but some people there are fascinated by meditation and Eastern mysticism.  I think I have more in common with these guys than I do with most people in the secular world.

I guess this place is special because it provides spiritual training.  People don’t get that at the University of Chicago or Northwestern.  But the first colleges were founded by monks in the early Middle Ages and one of their expected functions was to impart spiritual knowledge, the inner life.  So, I may say that the students at this school do not have a wide spiritual perspective, as they focus only on one faith, but they have a deep foundation.  And where there is depth, eventually breadth and height can come as well.  This is why I think our Guru asked us to read his books first, to be well established in our own foundation and home before we try to shake hands with other paths.  Know your own house.

So, I finally arrived at the college gymnasium maybe around 9:30 the night before the big tournament.  I went to the locker room and saw a student pacing in front of the lockers and looking a little distracted.  I think I asked him what he was studying and he said biology but he was thinking of switching to Anthropology.

I don’t remember how we got on the subject but I started talking about consciousness and matter, and how there doesn’t seem to be an elementary particle, it seems like science can just divide and divide reality forever.  He agreed with me and said that the foundation of life is God’s Grace, and I started talking about Maya and how the Indian tradition holds that the Universe is just the expression of God.  The Supreme used his power of Maya, the Mother Power or Prakriti, to divide Himself into trillions and trillions of forms, and thus the finite is God’s Play, His Manifestation.  He asked me to tell him more about Indian philosophy, and so I quoted some of Guru’s poems on science and the physical Universe:

 

“The formless is as true as the form, as beautiful, if not infinitely more beautiful as the form.”

 

“Beauty non-pareil has blossomed in the heart of the subtle atom tapestry.”

 

“Science is desperately searching for the cosmic key.  Nature already has it.”

 

I loved my life’s morning walks, hope-beauty led my eyes and guided my steps…life divine shall embrace the abyss of science

 

He really responded to these poems.  I told him I don’t usually share my Guru’s poetry at this Evangelical school, and I don’t tell people about Guru but that he seemed very open and kind.  He told me has just suffered from a tragedy in his personal life, and he’s grateful to hear these spiritual words from me.  I asked him if he would like to hear some of my Guru’s poems on Jesus Christ and he said he would.  So, I recited for him for maybe fifteen minutes, including every poem from Guru’s play The Son as well as many poems from The Dance of Life and Transcendence Perfection.  It’s an old locker room, vast and empty, and my words came back to me in echoes, so I was listening to myself also.  And after some time I felt that I was no longer speaking, the words seemed to just come from a distant source and Nate and I were just listeners, observers.  When I finished, I felt that we were both bathed in light, and he thanked me very deeply and I thanked him for listening to me and for being open.  We’ve continued to keep in touch.  It’s good to have Guru’s poems ready at a moment’s notice, you can make connections with people that way.

The tournament was wonderful, the best I’ve seen.  I paid special attention to the heavyweights- the 285 lb. plus guys.  Lord!  When I first started watching college wrestling, ten years ago, the heavyweights never touched each other.  Boringly they just circled each other like sumo wrestlers, waiting for the chance to take the other guy down which often never happened.  Sometimes there would be some above the shoulder grappling, but it was more just circling and formulaic lunges.  Not this year!  The heavyweights have come into their own.  They threw each other like sacks of rice, only very heavy sacks of rice.  I was scared because I standing at the edge of the mat and the last thing I need is a thrown 300 lb. wrestler falling on me.  I wouldn’t survive that.  But it was thrilling.  At the end of the night I struck up a conversation with one of those heavy weights, I noticed the Bible quotation on his shoulder, and asked him if he’d like to hear a poem about Christ.  He said he would, so I recited Guru’s poem that has that great line where Christ says “On earth, I am my Father’s Face.  In Heaven, I am my Father’s Eye.”  He was very pleased with this poem, and he said that there’s a passage in the Bible that sounds a little similar, and he pulled out his pocket Bible.  He read me a portion of Christ’s oration where he declares that His true children are the ones who believe in Jesus for the sake of His Father who sent Him.

I also had the occasion to recite one of my own poems  “David and the Diamond” to a wrestler named David, as he was recovering between matches, bruised and bloody.  He liked it very much, and he introduced me to his mom, Karina. I told her that I know a song for Lord Buddha that has the word “Karuna” in it,  and she asked me if I could sing it for her, so I sang, “Karuna Nayan”, and she was deeply moved by it.

I wanted to referee some of the matches, but I’m really not there yet.  I will be.  I just need to study more and be patient.  I guess time removes all stains, as the Vedas say.  And if we are patient and watchful, then time can just be synonymous with God’s Grace also.