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:

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.

Dialogues and suitcases




I dreamt the other night that I was staying in Celebrations housing.  On the floor next to my big air mattress, I saw a suitcase.  It was covered with stickers that announced the countries it had been.  But when I approached the suitcase, I saw that the stickers were not customs tags.  Rather, they were a dialogue between this disciple and Guru.  On the top of each note was the disciple’s question or comment, and on the lower half was Guru’s response:


“My Lord, I am the weakest branch.”

“No My Child, You are My branches, My Leaves, My F lowers, My All.”


“My Lord, I am lost in the world, I am dead in the world.”

“No, My Child, You are found in Me, you live in My Heart.”

I am paraphrasing, as I don’t remember exactly what each sticker said.  I just remember that they took the form of a dialogue between this seeker and the Master.  I was moved by the fact that, wherever he went, this disciple took nothing from these various places, except his inner conversations with his Lord.  What else do you need?

A new journey


Recently my grocery store installed more automated self-checkout lines and gave the cashiers veiled warnings that our time was up.  I wasn’t surprised last Saturday when I got the axe.  I have by now grown tired of the new corporate mentality.  It is time to go.

Interestingly, I had a dream the night before my dismissal.  In my dream I was back in New York, at The Oneness-Fountain-Heart restaurant.  It was very late at night, well after midnight.  I looked at the dimly lit dining room, all the empty tables and chairs, the Jharna Kalas on the walls.  I walked into the kitchen and I saw a visiting European disciple who had once helped us at the restaurant.  He had been chopping vegetables and was washing off the cutting board, and told me he was about to leave.  I went one more time into the dining room, to meditate on Guru’s picture by his special alcove, and then I returned to the kitchen.  The lights were still on, but the disciple had left.  I was alone.  I was upset, in my dream, because I didn’t have a key and couldn’t even close the gate.

Then, I thought to myself, well, that’s okay, because this restaurant does not exist anymore.

So I just left.  I was still somehow troubled that I had left the restaurant unlocked and after I had traveled a few blocks I turned around and I saw the restaurant from a distance.  It was far away, but there was still light seeping out from the kitchen door, still emanating and spreading over the dark streets.  I thought to myself that the spiritual Masters appear on earth for just the briefest of intervals.  They appear, they have their Lila, their divine play on earth, and then they leave.  People living in the ordinary world, who are not disciples of these Masters, just for a fleeting second perceive something unearthly, divine, in these Masters and their children.  And then the Masters disappear, and people forget what they saw.  But the light is still there.  Like the light emanating from The Oneness-Fountain-Heart.  On the outer plane, the restaurant doesn’t exist anymore.  The very building has been torn down.  But the light is still there.

I offered Guru’s poems at the grocery store- to thousands and thousands of people.  It was one of the most satisfying manifestations of my life.  I’m grateful I got that opportunity.  I don’t know what is next.  I don’t need to know.  I am waiting patiently for another assignment.



What is real

What is real
Is only the soul
Of the world,
Like water rushing
Under an ancient
Modern light
Is no match
For a flower
Pressed between
The pages
Of an old book,
Fresh and fragrant
Still after centuries.
We can all kiss
The pages of wisdom,
Learn how to
Become flowers
In the spine.
Throw my dust
In the water
On an August morning,
And the beauty
I have embodied
Will marry
The river
Of time.

-February 7 2024

Writing to spite the sleep queen


I’ve been suffering from insomnia recently.  This isn’t a wholly bad thing.  I get a lot done during those hours when most people are sleeping.  Sometimes I spend the hours by reading poetry, like Dylan Thomas’ great poem  I Fellowed Sleep, which may possibly deal with insomnia.  It ends with the line “My father’s ghost is climbing in the rain.”

Wow!  Sometimes we read long poems just to encounter a single powerful line like that one: “My father’s ghost is climbing in the rain.”

What does this mean?  I don’t know.  I don’t know rationally, but I understand it anyway.  Some part of me feels it, fathoms the meaning without having any need to explain it.

Sri Chinmoy makes this case far better than I, in Sri Chinmoy Answers part 7:

“I always say that man writes prose, but it is God who writes poetry in and through man. In poetry, each word carries us into the Unknowable, where there is tremendous joy. We may think that when we enter into the Unknowable, we will be totally lost. But we are not lost; we are flying.

“Poetry is intuitive, so we should not try to understand it. It is not the mind we need in order to derive joy, but the heart.”

Here Sri Chinmoy is explaining to us what poetry is, but at the same time his spontaneous creation is nothing but mantric poetry.

Joyce Kilmer said something similar, albeit  in a whimsical fashion, about the intuitive power of poetry:



By Joyce Kilmer


“I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.


A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;


A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;


A tree that may in Summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;


Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.”


It’s funny- I’ve never read this poem in its entirety until thirty seconds ago, when I googled the last two lines- the most famous part, much quoted in popular culture.  But now, at this very moment, reading these lines, it’s clear that Mr. Kilmer was trite in his word-choice, his rhythm is flat and deadpan.  Yet, for all that, what an affecting piece of word-music!  He’s created a mantra, so soulful and haunting.  No wonder the crown of this poem, the last two lines, has endured in the memory of humanity.  It’s almost as if God played an inside joke on the poet. Kilmer is saying that only God can make a tree, and God, by creating this beautiful mantra through the poet, rejoins, “It is only God who writes poetry in and through man as well!”

Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.  What a line!  Remarkable.

My mountain-climbing, English Channel swimming, tennis champion friend, Anugata, told me “We are people of high moments.”  In other words, a spiritual seeker might spend a whole afternoon reading sacred books, just to find one line or one word that touches him, and elevates his consciousness to a higher pinnacle.  He’s willing to spend a whole day just to get a drop of light.  In the same way, when I read Keats or Thomas or Shelley, I read them for one or two brilliant phrases that I can keep with me and recite over and over.

Sri Chinmoy said something very interesting in this regard concerning a line of Keats’:

“When Keats wrote, “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever,” he was in a very high consciousness. But did he remain in that consciousness? When you read the whole of ‘Endymion’, you see that there are many lines that are not at all good. But the first line is so powerful. He reached that height for a fleeting second and wrote an immortal line, but then he fell down most comfortably and stayed there. But his achievement remains immortal. It has become humanity’s achievement and humanity’s treasure. It is like a builder who builds a superb house. For a while he feels that it is his house: but then the person who employed him to build the house starts occupying the house and throws the builder out.” (From Art’s Life and the Soul’s Light by Sri Chinmoy)


As I said, Joyce Kilmer was not a particularly gifted poet- in any way.  But he still wrote that immortal final couplet:  “Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.”  So, it doesn’t matter.  He offered something that will last in the heart of humanity for Eternity.  Keats offered us the great line: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever,” that incredible opening line that overshadows the rest of Endymion combined.  Of course Keats, unlike Kilmer, was a supreme poet, but he still needed the Grace of God to write something truly immortal.  He wrote in one of his letters: “…(M)y greatest elevations of Soul leave me every time more humbled.”



Today, for no reason at all, and to the displeasure of the new company code- speed of above all- I recited William Blake’s great poem “Tyger, Tyger” to a young couple.  They really enjoyed it.  But, as I was reciting it out, I was struck by the lines:



“…When the stars threw down their spears

And watered Heaven with their tears…”


Where did that line come from!  What an inspired piece of word music.  Once again, I don’t understand it.  I don’t need to- it speaks to a deeper part of my being.


My friend Janaka, the great Scottish writer, wrote a really accomplished and polished book of verse called Glasgow Zen.  I’ve been reading and re-reading it in my sleepless hours.  In one section of the book he renders Japanese haikus written by Issa, Ryokan and Santoka, into Scots dialect.  The effect is charming and oddly thought-provoking:



“the full moon shinin

on this buncha heidbangers

(me included)”



“a wee kickaboot

wi the kids in the street-

the night lights”


“nights drawin in

patchin my auld claes-

dae me another year”



(My Microsoft Office Word autocorrect function does not like Glasgow English!)


I’d just like to conclude with one of Sri Chinmoy’s mantras from his great collection Twenty-Five Aspiration-Flames, a brief anthology of some of his most inspired utterances from 1987:


“My son, the unknowable can be known.

My son, the unknown can be known.

My son, the known can easily

remain unknown.

My son, the knowable can eternally remain


Interestingly, when Sri Chinmoy was discussing poetry, he said it carries us into the “Unknowable”.  He did not use the term “Unknown” but rather “Unknowable”.  Some things will never be understood by the outer mind of man.  I was talking to some college kids in the sauna the other day and I mentioned one of the things my great philosophy Professor, Dr. Iorio told us, that science has never been able to account for the unity of a single thought.  In other words, matter can be infinitely divided, taken apart and analysed:  molecules into atoms, atoms into protons and electrons, which in turn can be broken down into quarks and so on.  Everything in the physical world is subject to division and investigation.  But a single thought, is self-evidently real, and is not susceptible to any division or investigation.  It just is.  And here immediately we see the difference between the world of matter and the world of consciousness.  Talk about neurons and synapses until the sky falls down- science has not and never will  be able to account for the unity of a single thought.  Consciousness is unknowable.  Only through prayer and meditation can we fathom these mysteries.  Poetry can also help us in reaching these realms.