In the late fall of 2006, my Guru, Sri Chinmoy, initiated a special out-reach project for disciples to contact luminaries in various walks of life, including writers, politicians, musicians, and college professors. Sri Chinmoy felt that it was very likely he might win the Nobel Peace Prize that year, and so asked his students to kindly contact well-known or accomplished people and to ask them to please write a letter of recommendation on his behalf for the Nobel committee.
To be honest, I don’t think Guru needed the Nobel Peace Prize, or any other outer recognition. On the one hand, it was an opportunity for us to make progress by reaching out to people on the Master’s behalf. This is called God-manifestation, when we publicise the name and life of a God-realised soul. On the other hand, if our efforts were successful, and the Master had won the Nobel Peace Prize, it would have been a tremendous victory for Guru, and would have made him instantly well-known to millions of people. This would also be a manifestation of the Master’s inner divinity.
Guru said once that some Masters become flowers. They realise God, and then the fragrance of the flower spreads spontaneously. The flower stays where it is, but people come from afar to breathe the beauty and fragrance of the flower. He also said that other Masters take the approach of the mother. They go from place to place with the idea of serving the divinity in humanity. They know that many seekers may be inwardly hungry, but they may not know where to find a true God-realised Master. Or even if they do know the name and location of a real Master, they may not have the money or enough inner drive to buy a plane ticket and travel to see him. So, these Masters go to many countries to meet with seekers and inspire them. Sri Chinmoy said he tried to combine both approaches in his life. He spent most of his time in Jamaica, New York and seekers from all over the world came to Aspiration-Ground to see him and meet with him. Again, he spent months out of each year going to various places to raise the consciousness of so many countries, and personally meet with thousands of people. You can read Sri Chinmoy’s own thoughts on the subject here.
One night during this time, Guru asked those of us who were working on the project to come up to the microphone, and to speak about our progress in contacting luminaries, and getting letters of recommendation for the committee. When it was my turn, Guru looked at me and said, “I thought you had already started.” I had actually contacted Guru two weeks prior and had told him who I was planning to contact.
He then said something else, which I couldn’t understand. I asked him, gingerly, “Guru, I was sleeping?” And Guru said evenly, “No- you were meditating. My disciples do not sleep. They meditate. My disciples meditate and work. They work and work. I sleep and sleep.”
That day I had woken up at around nine o’clock, a perfectly useless time. So, before I was even aware of what I was doing, I said into the microphone, “I wish!”
Some disciples gasped. There was a moment of dead silence. Then an old woman at the back of the room laughed.
Then Guru slowly turned to face me. It was one of the oddest experiences of my life. This is because, as he was turning his head, I didn’t feel like I was looking at a human being. I felt like I was in the presence of some reality from some distant planet or galaxy, like some kind of extra-terrestrial. At first, he had no expression, blank and totally empty. And then a sweet and mischievous smile spread over his face and he said with a dramatic slap to the air (he did not slap me): “From tomorrow: work hard!”
I said “Yes, Guru” and walked away. One boy told me later that Guru gave me a very affectionate smile as I was leaving the stage.
But, the moment after I made that somewhat inappropriate remark (we do not contradict God-realised Masters, even as a joke), and Guru’s playful response, I remember that emptiness I saw in Guru, that absence of expression. It was as if he was showing me what poise really means. He does not choose to act in this way or that way in any given situation. He has given one hundred percent of the responsibility to his Inner Pilot. God chooses every action for him. Someone else who had been in Guru’s position in that moment may have responded very differently- by scolding me, for example for my audacity. But the Inner Pilot, the Supreme in Guru, saw that I was just joking with my Master in a familiar way, and therefore Guru blessed me with his infinite affection and sweetness. But it is not his tremendous kindness and oneness that I found most striking in this case. It is his inner silence, his poise, his ability to respond to each situation in the perfect way, based on his “emptiness”, his unconditional oneness with God. This is what I remember. This lesson I will always treasure. Now I understand why Guru said that poise was his most important quality. I am trembling even as I write this down.