Borderlands and rain

Recently I’ve been feeling a little depressed.  In my case, depression is not necessarily a bad thing.  It’s just a time to reflect on what needs to change in my life, what needs to happen.  I get depressed when I lose sight of my goals, or when I can’t properly articulate my goals, or even if I can articulate them, I don’t know what to do to reach them.  It’s funny isn’t it, how the words “goal” and “depression” are connected.  When I have a goal, something to strive for, I do not feel depressed.  When I have no goal, no sense of mission, at that time I feel myself floating aimlessly.

Guru writes,”Float with the current if you have nothing to give”.

I try to write and publish daily.  This gives my life some purpose, and makes me feel I’m contributing.  Blogging might be a substitute for Prozac.  (An important point: This is NOT medical advice!)

At the same time, I don’t think depression is necessarily a bad thing.  Right now I’m experiencing very mild depression.  It’s like walking through the city on a misty, rainy morning.  I have an umbrella, a raincoat, and a hot cup of tea waiting for me.  I don’t even call this state of mind “depression”, I call it “the gray zone”.  I have a sense of being a traveler, on my way somewhere, but never arriving wherever it is I’m supposedly headed.  I don’t know where I’m going, or where I’ve been.  I feel like luggage.  I just drift along the conveyor belt.  One day someone will claim me.  Until then, I belong to the belt, the hum of the airplane, the fickle wind.

In this state, I often go for long runs late at night.  I run on safe streets, in well-lit, wealthy neighborhoods where there are plenty of cops on duty.  It’s not one hundred percent safe, but it’s safe enough.  I’ll run from eleven at night until two am the following morning, just following the stars and the moon.  I like the empty streets, the quizzical looks I get from the tired people at the bus stop, the locked cafes and record shops.

And sometimes I’ll just ride my bicycle in circles around the big parking lots of the local IBM tower, the local trucking firm, the high school.  Nobody is out there late at night, so I’ll just ride my bike around and around the perimeter of these parking lots, singing Guru’s songs and saying his poems for hours on end.  Sometimes I’ll pray, but I find Guru’s poems and songs embody prayer.  I just have to say them soulfully, and they carry the essence of my prayers.  I can’t think of any other Master for whom this maxim holds: if you claim his creativities as your own, your act of claiming and identifying equals your highest meditation.  Sri Chinmoy was fabulously generous in this.

Sri Chinmoy wrote so much poetry, over a hundred thousand poems, that anyone can recognise can respond to his work and say, “Yes, this is me.”  Sri Chinmoy said that his poetry most often comes through the third eye, the eye of vision.  He says he just throws himself into the Universal Consciousness when he writes poetry.  That means that he might identify with someone on the other side of the world, and the poem will reflect that particular person’s present consciousness or state of mind.  But from studying and memorizing the Master’s poems for many years, I get the sense of Sri Chinmoy the poet, the personality that shapes the words.  This person is introverted, moody, meditative, likes taking long reflective walks, enjoys solitude.  He has known the extremes of joy and sorrow, but somehow always comes back to the middle, where things are not ideal, but okay.  He can always continue, continue.  He knows the gray zone.

If it’s a rainy day in your inner life, remember the rain can make the soil rich and receptive.  You can also write and express yourself.  You might not see the sun in that state, but you can become the sun through your own creative offering.

The hill and the song

Today I was very busy, had a lot of customers and did not get the opportunity to share very many poems.  So I just decided to quietly sing my Master’s songs while I checked out people’s groceries.  I was singing Guru’s beautiful song “karuna nayan” at one point.  I was singing it softly but powerfully, with utmost feeling. And a young woman, who was perhaps two customers behind when I started singing this song, when it was her turn, asked me what I was singing.  I said “Well I’m singing the song composed by my Master in honour of Lord Buddha” and she said “Oh I thought you were singing a song for the Buddha.”


Giant Buddha



And I asked her how she knew and she told me that the feeling of of the song suggested to her the Buddha. I was very impressed with her receptivity and intuition. The song is in Bengali and nowhere is the name “Buddha” mentioned.  The only word used is “tathagata” which is Bengali for the Buddha- but unless you know Bengali you’re not going to know that word!


Towards the very end of my shift a young woman came to my line named Elisha and I told her that in the Old Testament, Elisha was the companion of Elijah. I told her one of the most famous stories of Elisha- that after he died- he was penniless- so he was thrown into a pit and then many years later the there was a battle around the perimeter of the pit.  A soldier was wounded, died and tumbled and into the pit, but the moment his body made contact with Elisha’s bones he was immediately revived. Such was the holiness of Elisha’s bones. You have to wonder how much austerity, how much tapas or spiritual disciplines Elisha had to undergo to attain this level of sanctity. She had never heard that story before and was very impressed by it.


June 27 - Prophet Elisha - Saint John the Baptist Orthodox Christian Church


I also shared with her my Guru’s poem on the savior Christ:


O Saviour-Christ,
Please tell me,
What did you mean
By your strongest affirmation:
‘I and my Father are one’?
Tell me in what sense you and your
Father are one.

“O dear brother,
Of all people, how is it that
You, my wise brother,
Do not understand my simple message?
On earth I am my Father’s Face,
In Heaven I am my Father’s Eye.
In that sense we are one, inseparable.
This is what I meant when I said:
‘I and my Father are one'”

(Sri Chinmoy, Brother Jesus, Agni Press, 1975)


She repeated the last phrase “On earth I am my father’s face, in Heaven I am my father’s eye.”  I felt she had really internalized those lines.  She thanked me deeply and then said she’s studying Christian discipleship with a mentor and she felt meeting me and discussing these verses was a very significant milestone in her own spiritual progress.  I was very honoured to hear that and very grateful. She paused and then said “God is something!” And I quoted one of Guru’s talks where he said God is, and she repeated God is.  It felt like a very high moment.  I thought of this mantra from Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees:

“Not only the person
Who answers,
But also those who ask
God-hungry questions
Are awakened and wise.”


Guru said that it is a very helpful spiritual exercise to remind ourselves, seven times a day of the fact that we are on a very special spiritual path- and to remember this fact with a great inner intensity. So before my meals and sundry snacks I try to take just a minute to remember one precious experience I I’ve had, inner or outer, with my Master. Today I remembered how in late 2001, I was jogging up that monstrous 150th St. hill and I saw Sri Chinmoy, my Master coming the opposite way down the hill. I was running on the street, while he was walking on the closest sidewalk, his brow was furrowed in concentration.



I did not bother him, I did not engage him, but as I passed by him I folded my hands over my heart and kept running.  Now many years have passed, many good things and many bad things have happened in my life, but the trick is to keep running up that hill.  And how many millions of times in these years I have passed by my Guru without knowing it I will never know.

Trees, leaves and sun

Yesterday at the gym my friend Enrique asked me a very interesting question.  He asked me what prompted or incited my Master to give me my spiritual name “Mahiruha”. And I told him that the Master gives people names based on his inner assessment of their progress.  Also this is based on his own understanding as to whether or not a spiritual name will be actually helpful to the seeker.  To maintain one’s aspiration and dedication throughout life is much more important than any name or title could ever be. I suppose the greatest advantage or benefit of having a spiritual name is that it gives you another opportunity to manifest the Master’s light. In other words my name is exotic-sounding so people ask me about its derivation and voila I have this golden opportunity to talk about my Guru!

So I told him that about a year and a half before I got my spiritual name I had a kind of interesting and prophetic dream.  In my dream I was alone with Guru in a schoolroom.  He was sitting in the middle of the room in a simple chair and he said to me “Mahiruha, I want you to tell me your soul’s qualities and I will form your name from that.  So I circled the Master three times and each time I passed in front of him I uttered a different quality.  The first time I said “A sea of self giving.”  The second time I said “The power that conquers pride.”  The third time I said “Inexhaustible patience.  When I had finished saying these things Guru nodded slowly and gave me a soulful smile and said, “Very workable.”

People might be confused as to why I said “The power that conquers pride” in my dream as opposed to “humility”.  But it’s actually quite self-explanatory when you think about it. Let’s say that humility is one of your inner qualities. If you go around telling people that you are humility incarnate, then you’re not being humble. Guru has an aphorism:  “Humility disappears the moment we become proud of it.”  He has another aphorism“If you take pride in being humble, then you are a humility clown.”  So humility is kind of like the Chinese concept of the Dao whose value and worth is diminished the moment you say what it is.  It is something ineffable, and really should not and cannot be adequately described.  It just is.  Guru’s own Teacher Sri Aurobindo has a line in one of his poems”  “Therefore we know by Thy humility that thou art God.”

The second reason why I think I used the phrase “The power that conquers pride” is because we tend to think of humility as something feeble or delicate but it is not.  In Sri Chinmoy’s play about the life of the savior Christ the Father says to his beloved Son: “Son, you know the supreme secret, that supreme secret is humility.  It is your humility that will crown you with the transcendental triumph.”

So humility is the power of oneness and the power of oneness is best exemplified by the tree which once it becomes laden with fruit bows down for everyone to take. So, a year and a half later when I got my name Mahiruha which simply means “tree” I was able to assimilate that name quite easily on the strength of my own previous inner experiences. So I explained to Enrique that if you practice the spiritual life you gradually become conscious of your own soul- for the spiritual life means to mix with your soul, to fathom your soul and to gradually grow into your soul ‘s light, identity and divinity.  I then recited some of the Master’s poems including “ Insecurity’s length” and “I escaped from the embrace of God” and “The animal in me rages in vain  The human in me ages in vain.  The divine in me races and succeeds.”  He told me that he could tell these poems are very dear to me and he’s right.


This morning as I biked to work, I recited this poem, from The Golden Boat:

“There was a time when I was the sadness

Of a saddening thought.

There was a time when I was the madness

Of a maddening thought.

But now I am the vastness

Of an unhorizoned thought.

I am the brightness

Of the solar thought.”


It’s interesting that only in the last line, does “a thought” become “the thought.”  Sadness, madness, even vastness, are all prefaced by the word “a”.  It is only when we get to the concept of “brightness” and “solar” that the article changes to “the”.  It is as if there is only one true thought, it embodies and transcends all other thoughts, and it is inconceivably brilliant- “the brightness of the solar thought.”  I recited this poem forty times today, and each time I felt the poem was a challenge to lead an awakened life.  All thoughts ultimately empty themselves into the one thought, the supracosmic “solar thought”.  It is the only reality in the world of thought.  Seek light.  This is what I need to remind myself.  Seek light all the time.

I recited the last stanza of “Leaves of Grass” for a lady today at the supermarket.  She was indescribably moved, she shed tears, and kept saying “I am so grateful, I am so grateful, I am so grateful.”  I rarely get THAT kind of appreciation from people, and I told her it was mutual.  It’s interesting, as I was reciting these concluding lines, beginning with “The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me” I felt Whitman’s mighty soul, around me.  Poetry, if offered in the right spirit, is always an invocation.

Coltrane, a heart of gold and the Chicago red line

Today I was taking the train back from my pool and I saw an older Black man on the train. I think he was in his mid to late seventies.  He was smartly dressed, in a purple Stetson hat and pure white slacks, white button down shirt, a nice overcoat and dark blue polished shoes leather shoes.  He was sitting across from me on the train.

For some reason I felt spontaneously inspired to strike up a conversation with him.  I remarked on how nice his white suit looked, and that, in India, the color white is the color of the Divine Mother.  People wear white to honour Her.  He was so deeply moved to hear that!  He told me his name was Wallace, and when I told him my name “Mahiruha”, he repeated it ten times until he got it right.  Wallace asked me many questions about Indian spirituality, which I endeavored to answer based on my reading of Guru’s books:  the concept of the cosmic Mother in India and with whom the Mother is identified.  I told him that you can call her Shakti , you can also call her Mother Kali. And I told him about the role and function of Kali in Indian philosophy- the transformer human ignorance, the Saviour of the Universe and the destroyer of evil.  I told him that She is the supreme power in the Hindu religion, the greatest of all the deities.  He asked me if in Indian philosophy the feminine is superior to the masculine and I said no they both have their equal roles to play.

Then I told him that since his eyes were blue- sky blue- that this is the colour of the Divine Father, and the colour is associated with Krishna. And I told him a little bit about Krishna but especially how blue is his most favorite color and how blue represents vastness, spirituality and infinity. And I told him how, according to my Guru, Krishna and Kali are eternally and inseparably one.  I told him how Sri Chinmoy, has written many songs expressing their eternal oneness.  (This one in particular is mesmerising)

I told him a little bit about our path and Master.  I shared with him how our Master would meditate in the little auditorium at the Queens inner-city elementary school, PS 86; when he meditated he would flood the room with a sense of light and delight and peace, that he brought down a higher consciousness.  He turned the little auditorium into a temple.  I said, in response to his question about our philosophy, that it’s really the acceptance of life for its transformation.


I told Wallace about the dream I had several months ago about how I was walking along the lakefront and I saw a homeless Black man come out of his tent and he was holding a violin case.  He opened it and started playing the violin on the hill.  I could recognize the melody as a Bach partita!  I approached this Black man in my dream and I asked him “What are you?”  He put down the violin and he said to me “I am an unconditional smile.  I am an absolute smile.  I am an eternal smile.”


The gentleman on the train told me that there are some dreams in life that you never forget.

I explained to him that my Master always used the term “Supreme” for God, because “Supreme” implies constant self-transcendence.  The Supreme is always in evolution.  This idea pleased him very much.  He mentioned “A love Supreme” by John Coltrane and spoke to me a little bit about his wife Alice Coltrane’s spiritual awakening (I think she incorporated Indian chants in her music).  In response, I recited Guru’s great poem, perhaps inspired by Coltrane: “Lord, when You kill me with Your Love supreme”.

I told Wallace that even though I follow an Indian path I’ve had intimate experiences with other Masters- with Jesus Christ as well as with other teachers. And I told him about my experience in the Cloisters museum in Manhattan about how I stood in front of the Fuentiduena chapel and how I was simply bathed  in affection, just overwhelming affection, I just felt waves and waves of affection pouring from Jesus Christ, and I realized then that the essence of Christianity is not the pageantry, not the power or the glory or the rapture or even the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  It is his affection. And as I spoke about my experience with Christ I felt that affection once again- the experience came back to me.  I also told him how sad it was that that the museum had desecrated that holy space by removing the ropes and allowing people to just walk through it.  Wallacce told me that that experience is inside me now. And that that by talking about it I am actually manifesting what I felt.

He said when some people feel Divinity, or the essence of God they run away, they get scared while other people come closer and walk the path of self-discovery. Then I told him that only in the presence of my Master, Sri Chinmoy, have I felt the kind of affection that I felt in the Fuentiduena chapel. And he asked me about my Master, what he looked like.  I just happened to have a book called “A Perfect Divine Enterprise” and I showed him the cover.

Wallace looked at Guru’s face and smiled and said “He’s Black!”  I told him what Guru said during a private gathering with his “Chosen Children”, his Black disciples, that “white people have mushy hearts, while Black people have hearts of gold and I am one of those”.  He asked me to repeat that, he was laughing and delighted to hear that. He said to me that Black people can also have mushy hearts and I told him that he undoubtedly has a heart of gold and he said “You do, too.” I told him that he made my day and he said “same here.” It was one of the nicest experiences I’ve ever had on the train, the notorious Red line in Chicago.


Fame in my hair


One of my customers is an old painter.  Today he showed me one of his little sketchbooks.  The tiny page he showed me was full of swirls, like nebular galaxies, but as I looked at it, I saw that each arm of the galaxy was composed of smaller swirls, and I also saw that he used a different kind of line for each arm of the galaxy.  I didn’t know lines could be so expressive.  Each arm of the galaxy was so different, but there was a unity in the galaxy.  One part looked like a Renaissance drawing of the night sky, another part looked like a Hudson River School artist depicting a wave composed of tiny rivulets.  The page he showed me was no more than three inches by three inches, but I looked at it and saw more detail the longer I looked.  It was hypnotizing.  I told him he’s the real deal.

I then asked him if anyone has ever done a documentary on him, and he said that no-one yet has.  I told him that he deserves a documentary, and much more fame.  He responded by saying, “As long as my art-spirit is happy and I am productive, that’s all I care about.”

So I recited the following poem that includes the word “fame”:

Earth-grief burnt his body’s frame

He nodded his head several times as I recited it.

He then said, “I was a given a garden to take care of, and as long as I cultivate the garden and take care of it, and as long as the actual owner of the garden is happy, I don’t have to worry.”

This is not the statement from some hack, but these are the words of someone who has some real intuitive vision.

Sri Chinmoy writes in his book The Street Beggar:

“When we look at life,

It frightens us.

When we look into life,

It surrenders.”

This is a man who has looked into life.  I deeply value our conversations.  I feel fortunate to know him.

Before he left he told me a story about a great poet who Fame did not favor in his lifetime.  He saw Fame walking through the streets of the city wearing other poets’ words in her hair, but she never wore his poems in her hair.  One day he accosted her and said, “Why do you wear these other poet’s words in your hair, but you do not wear mine, when my poems are far superior, and will last forever?”

She smiled and said, “I will visit you in the cemetery in a hundred years, and you will see that I will be wearing your poems in my hair.”

The Master once wrote “With whatever I have I shall run.”

Who cares if others do not appreciate your vision and manifestation?  Just offer what you have.


Here’s a piece by one of my favorite American painters, John Singer Sargent.  It is called The Jetty and makes me think of journeys.  This is relevant to my life now.


Thanksgiving in July


I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my life.  That’s not necessarily a good thing.  I often overthink things, I get lost in the thickets and the weeds.

I try to keep it real.  I’ve been writing a lot recently, and that helps me to be a little more objective about my feelings.  I’ve dabbled in various self-help modalities from time to time, including various forms of psychotherapy and even Ayurvedic herbology.  But I find my own meditation and spiritual discipline, especially when practiced daily, to be of paramount importance.  I’m not casting shade on these other ways of self-knowledge and self-care, no.  I’ve gotten help from them.  But when it concerns ultimate questions of my life’s direction, spiritual happiness, and sense of purpose, I can only get that from diving deep within.  One of my favorite Master-Disciple volleys comes from Sri Chinmoy’s book Perfection and Transcendence:

Question: “How can I get satisfaction right this minute?”

Sri Chinmoy: “Go deep within. Satisfaction is there. That is the simplest answer.”

How pithy!  But true.  It’s funny- on two separate occasions when I tried psychotherapy, both counsellors broke off meeting with me after learning that I had a spiritual Master.  They both said, “If you have a Master, you listen to him, you follow his teachings.  You don’t go to a therapist unless you want to change your path.  But you are clearly happy with your path.  Therefore, listen to him, follow him.”  Really!  I’m not making this up.  I was lucky.  Less ethical therapists might have tried to pry me away from my spiritual path.  But these people gave me what basic advice they could, as far as they could fathom my situation, and they told me to stick with the Master.

Go deep within.  Satisfaction is there.  That is the simplest answer.

Today, I had a long conversation with a young couple about mantras.  The man had actually practiced Sanskrit chants.  So I shared with them my Master’s feelings that mantras can be created in English as well as in Sanskrit, and I gave them some examples.

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever” (John Keats)

“Daughter thy Faith hath made thee whole” (Jesus Christ)

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty/That is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know” (also John Keats)

Philadelphia (yes, my Guru said the very name “Philadelphia” is a mantra, and the man said that he always gets joy when he hears that word)

The woman asked who gets to decide what is a mantra?  I told her that the right question is actually what is NOT a mantra.  I explained that anything can be a mantra, if the word or phrase is repeated with utmost soulfulness.  It is your own inner attitude that determines what is a mantra.  She was very pleased with this answer.   I was very impressed with their openness and sincerity.

Today, also at the grocery store, I answered question after question about my path from a gentleman I have not met before.  He has a sprightly, energetic personality, with a restless speaking style.  I noticed after I would share a basic truth about my path, he would connect it to some pat platitude from popular Zen.  So when I told him that I went to many Gurus before finally finding Sri Chinmoy he said “All the doors you knock on is the wrong one until you find the right one.”  I didn’t mind his questions, because I felt his sincere desire to learn about my path, but finally, when he asked for the third time about how my path relates to Buddhism, I just broke down and sang Guru’s immortal song for Lord Buddha, “Karuna Nayan.”  I felt a deep silence come over him when I finished, and I just suggested that he try spending more time in spiritual singing as opposed to reading philosophical books.  He liked the idea.  We said “namaste” to each other and he left.

A long time ago, I had cherished a particular desire, but I didn’t think I would ever see it come to fruition.  It was just a simple, ordinary desire, to get autographed first-edition copies from my favorite novelist, recently deceased.  Then COVID happened, and the family, in charge of the novelist’s estate, told me they could not get the books from the publisher.  Also, there was a tremendous demand for these signed copies, and they told me that even though I had asked first, there was no guarantee I would ever get these books.  I felt disappointed and depressed.  Then, a year later, we finally got that plague under control, I got fully vaccinated, the lockdowns were lifted, and one day I came home from work, to find a package from the author’s estate on my doorstep!  I took the package in my arms, ran to my shrine, and opened it.  I was shedding tears, just voluminous tears, when I tore open the cardboard and tape, reached through the popcorn foam and pulled books out, all of them signed.

I don’t think this novelist ever consciously accepted the spiritual life.  I don’t think he has any outer connection with Guru.  But he’s still my favorite novelist.  And Guru fulfilled my desire to get signed copies of his books.  I don’t think I have ever offered Guru such gratitude as I did then.  I was weeping with gratitude.  I’ve never given Guru that kind of gratitude.  And, as I looked at the Transcendental, I saw that Guru was also weeping with joy that he was able to make me happy.  Such is Guru’s oneness-heart with me.

Surprises in the health food store


This morning a man in the early autumn of his days came to my line.  He had grey to white hair, but looked in good condition.  He told me he beat cancer and is preparing to start running triathlons again.  I told him I know a running mantra that I use all the time, written by my spiritual teacher.  He asked me about the mantra, and I recited this one: “With a happy speed I run and run…”

Sri Chinmoy – sprinting

He immediately crossed himself, kissed two fingers of his right hand and held them up above his head in salutation to God, and told me I had made his whole day.  He asked me who wrote it and I told him “Sri Chinmoy”.  He thanked me from the bottom of his heart.

Guru’s poetry embodies his aura.  It’s Guru’s own spiritual aura that makes these experiences possible.  People feel Guru’s divinity in his writings, for they are inseparable.

A little later a forty-ish looking man came to my line.  He asked me if I was a Sri Chinmoy follower.  I said yes, and then he reminded me that he was the one who attended a meditation class in Washington DC around 2002.  He had told me about his experience a few months ago.  He said that as soon as the presenter walked into the room, he felt she brought with her the most rarefied energy, and light, just pure light.  She was simply radiating light.  He told me that he gasped when he saw her, that her face was just shining with light.  He told me that class changed his life.  He told me she was a great ultra-runner and I told him her name is Suprabha, which means something like “glorious morning light”.

He always associated Sri Chinmoy with the light that Suprabha brought into the room.

I had called Suprabha the next day and told her about this man’s experience.  She was so moved.  She thanked me for sharing the story and also thanked Guru for “accompanying us to all the classes.”  She said she feels this is a sign for her to begin giving classes again: “the time is now.”

A few nights later, I had dreamt I was at Aspiration-Ground, and Suprabha offered me a vase of gratitude-flowers.  To me, these flowers represent the highest purity.  Maybe her soul was telling me that we can solve all our problems just by being more soulful in our dedicated service.

Towards the end of my shift, an older gentleman named Frankie came through my line.  Noticing his accent, I asked him what country he was from, and he said, “Puerto Rico”.  I told him that my Guru, Sri Chinmoy, established his mission in Puerto Rico, and Frankie said, “Yes, in 1964.”

I gaped!  I asked him how he knew that and he said that he has known of Guru for decades.  He said that he knows our community in Chicago, and that he has a co-worker who looks just like Sri Chinmoy.  He said that this reminds him of Sri Chinmoy every day.

We said “namaste” to each other, and the man walked away.

I recited many more poems today, including one of my favorite mantras- it’s the English translation of this Bengali song:  “…I will be another Buddha…”

I also recited this stunning mantra from 365 Father’s Day Prayers: “Go out if you want to widen your mind…”

It was a good day.

The written word and spiritual perfection



Sometimes I sit down to write without fully knowing what I’ll say.  I just fill the empty page with my thoughts and experiences.  After I’ve hit the “publish” button and the whole world can see my train of thought, I will read my own piece and say, “Oh, so this is what is going on.”

In other words, keeping a blog, however inconsistently, gives me a clarity on my life I wouldn’t otherwise have.  It’s almost like creating a map.  Blue means water, green is forests, stubbled grey is elevation.  Because I’ve written, I can see my life with the objectivity of distance.  I see where my strengths and weaknesses lie.  I know now what I have to do.  I encourage everyone to write if they want better self-knowledge.

Sri Chinmoy says repeatedly that through writing, we can perfect our spiritual life.  In Three Hundred and Sixty-Five Father’s Day Prayers he says:

“The reason why I write: I long to correct myself…”

In The Mind and the Heart in Meditation, he writes:

“Then we can write about our own experiences.  We won’t want to publish them, no.  But while we are writing them down we are revealing our own inner light and perfecting our spiritual nature.  For half an hour we can write and we can read what we have written.  Each time we read about one of our own experiences we get abundant peace, light and bliss.  This is not our false imagination.  As soon as we have written we have created something.  The creator always wants to enjoy his creation…”

He offered this message repeatedly, in many books, that through writing we are perfecting our spiritual nature.

Sri Chinmoy is saying here we don’t have to publish them, but I find it personally helpful to write down my experiences in the public sphere.  This is because when I write for other people, I have to set down my experiences clearly and concisely.  When I come back to them years later, I can actually understand and contextualize what I have written.  Whereas if I wrote it just for myself, I might write in a more fragmented, haphazard way.

Also, I think our Guru mentioned that it is our personal experiences, our spiritual experiences, that if we can write them down, will have the greatest impact on the world.

He did say that to get any real benefit from spiritual writing, it must be set down in pen and paper.  But at least this blog is a very easy way for me to get my thoughts down, and to share them.

I write about the things I’ve learned on my spiritual journey.  I also write about my own problems and weaknesses.  I set down the good and the bad, but I try to be detached from my own positive and negative qualities.  Neither the good nor the bad really expresses who I am.  I just am.  The real in me is the soul, and the soul is beyond good and bad.  I haven’t realized this truth yet, at least not in my own psyche, but I feel it to be so.  Sri Chinmoy writes in The Golden Boat (part 5):

“When sin plagues him
He cries aloud.
When virtue plagues him
He cries aloud.
His Lord today tells him:
“No sin, no virtue, My son.
Only think that
I experience the life-breath
Of every moment
In a different way,
That’s all.””

By putting my life down on the page, I can learn from my own mistakes and bathe in the light of my own higher aspiration.  It’s an easy practice, a very accessible sadhana.

Today, at the grocery store, a young woman told me that she feels life needs joy, that joy is the essence of life.  I told her that in Bengali “joy” means victory, and I sang her Guru’s immortal anthem to the great Mother Kali: “Joy, joy, joy…ma, ma, Kali ma- tomai kebal bhalo basi ami antarato- ma”.  This means, I believe, “Victory to Mother Kali- your beauty I love with my whole heart.”

She was so moved by the song!  She told me, that going forward, she will remember that “joy” means “victory”.

I was ringing up another woman’s groceries, later in the day, and I told her that I felt she has a very deep connection with Mother Nature; I felt rivers, mountains and forests in her aura.  She told me that her middle name means “river” in German, and she was happy to get confirmation of her name.

Later in the day, two young Indian men came to my line, along with a young Chinese woman.  One of the Indian gentleman asked me if I knew the sloka in the Gita, quoted by Oppenheimer, where Krishna says, “I am become time- destroyer of worlds.”  He asked me if I knew it in Sanskrit.  I said yes, and I recited:

“Kalo ‘smi pravidraham lokas skaya skrit.”  The literal meaning is “I am time grown old, to destroy the world.”

I also quoted to them Sri Chinmoy’s mantra from Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees (part 34): “Time either weakens or destroys the evil forces”.  Sri Chinmoy’s poem gives a special clarity to Lord Krishna’s utterance.  I told them that mantras can be offered in English as well as in Sanskrit.  They told me they wanted to sit down with me at a future time and have a discussion about our favorite mantras.  I look forward to this.

One of my customer-friends is a former college soccer player.  Today we got in a mock fight.  When he approached my line, I shouted, “Oh no, it’s my worst customer!”  At some point during our heated battle I told him he could ring up his own goddamn groceries next time.  He slammed his fist on the counter and replied “This morning you woke up and you chose war!”

I don’t know where the phrase “you woke up and you chose war” comes from, but I see it’s a mantra.  You can find them anywhere.

I’m writing this at five-thirty in the morning.  It’s time for me to get some shut-eye before I start my day.  Ciao for now.

A blue light in the library of dreams



My favorite movie is “Waking Life”, an animated feature directed by the great Richard Linklater. I’ve watched it many times. It is told from the perspective of a college student who is experiencing a state called “lucid dreaming”- where you are dreaming but are also conscious of the fact that you are dreaming. It is a phenomenon that has long fascinated mystics, scientists and laymen like me. In his “lucid dream” he interviews his professors, friends, and total strangers about weighty philosophical questions like the nature of consciousness, how to find authentic happiness, the corrosive power of time, and humanity’s future. The entire soundtrack was provided by an Austin-based tango ensemble. This movie taught me how to love tango, that strange hybrid of klezmer, classical chamber music and Iberian ballads.

The movie begins with the college guy as a child, playing a card game with his sister. It is an intricate, numerical numbers game. She asks the boy to select any card, and then she counts down and tells him to pick the last card. He does and she passes it to him. It reads: “Dream is destiny.”

Dream is destiny. This reminds me of Sri Chinmoy’s Invocation: “My life, Thy soulful Dream.”

One of my customers owns a bunch of movie theaters, nationwide. A long time ago I had told him that “Waking Life” is my favorite movie. Yesterday he came through my line with his wife and he asked me to rattle off my favorite movies. I said, “Oh, “Fight Club”, “Spirited Away”, “Shawshank Redemption”, “Waking Life”.”

And he said “Oh, “Waking Life” by Richard Link-what’s-his-face?”

And I yelled “Linklater you idiot!” (He’s my friend. I can get away with this)

So, he handed me a gift bag. Inside the gift bag was the DVD “Waking Life”. It was signed “To Mahiruha- from Richard Linklater- Dream On…”

He got Richard Linklater to autograph my own copy of my favorite movie!

I had other customers, but I just sat down on the little stoop where we usually put the bags and held the DVD over my heart. I was so stunned.

I’ve been thinking of dreams recently. The Rebbe of Berditchev, one of the followers of the great Jewish mystic the Baal Shem, said that to get old on the spiritual path is a crime. The path is only for the young. We must never get old in heart, in spirit. Sri Chinmoy said something similar, “To our last breath, let us aspire, and let us try to inspire others.” To aspire is to dream. To dream is to walk the path of constant self-renewal. Dream is destiny.

One of my friends told me that when he used to come home from his job at the UN, he would spend his nights doing selfless service or attending meditations at the Master’s house. Then, at night, he would be dead tired after a long day of work, service and meditation. He would go to sleep in a pretty good consciousness. But he often woke up after just an hour of sleep. He would have vivid vital, sexual dreams that would startle him awake. He tried meditating before going to sleep, but the problem persisted.

So, one night, during a function with the Guru, he asked Sri Chinmoy why he so often has lower vital dreams about an hour after going to sleep. Guru responded that it is at that time, about an hour after falling asleep, that people start going through the vital worlds. This led to other disciples posing a gauntlet of questions to Guru about dreams and sleep, but my friend wasn’t satisfied. So he followed up with another question: “If it is true, that after an hour I pass through the vital worlds in my sleep, what can I do about it?” Sri Chinmoy responded in a very succinct way: “Imagine a green-blue light.”

That’s all he said- imagine a green-blue light. So this person started meditating on that shade between blue and green. The dreams unfortunately continued, and he realized that, upon waking up, he really wanted the dreams. The charm of the vital world is overwhelming! But he did continue to visualize a blue-green light, and he even bought Christmas lights and nightlights which refracted that color- between blue and green. He kept meditating on this color, and he said that just his own haphazard attempts to follow his teacher’s advice- in spite of not knowing exactly what shade of blue-green to meditate on, or even what this color means in relation to the vital world- he has started to acquire some calmness and control over this part of his life. And he realized that light was the answer, light itself. He felt that from his daily prayers, his service to his Master, his attempt to merge his meditation and his work-life, that he began to bathe in light. He realized eventually that the light is not blue or green, but it is an all-encompassing light.

I had a dream recently which in some ways touches on my friend’s experience. In my dream, I was walking down a long hallway at my college gym. I paused in front of the locker room door, and I had a moment of lucid awareness. I knew I was about to enter the vital world. I opened the door with fear, and yes, anticipation.

The funny thing is that on the other side of the door, instead of a locker room, showers and saunas, there were just rows and rows of bookshelves, extending in all directions to the vanishing point. All the books were perfectly lined up and categorized. Everything was clean, serene and silent. My dream-self muttered, “The locker room must become a library.”

At that moment I woke up and sat up in bed. I swear I heard a voice say, “And the library must become a temple.”

I think this dream, if it came from my soul, may be telling me something. In short, the dream means that I am not the one who is going to transform my impure vital into something higher and divine. That is God’s responsibility. All I can do is prepare myself by continuing my sadhana: prayers, reading, running, meditating, singing, writing. If I brood on my vital problems, I will not transcend them. If I dedicate myself more wholeheartedly to the spiritual life, I can bring light into the vital realm. I can turn the locker room into a library.

Guru says we always have to go to the superior world to find solutions in the inferior world. The slothful body must take shelter in the dynamic vital- the gym. The dynamic vital must be guided by the higher mind, with its refined aesthetic sense, which also includes the love of nature’s beauty, artistic beauty, God’s beauty- the library. The illumined mind must surrender ultimately to the wisdom and light of the heart, which gets this directly from the soul- the temple.

My name means “climbing aspiration-tree”. The answer is always to climb, to keep climbing, to climb higher. Dream is destiny.























Meditating with Sri Chinmoy, early meetings

The first time I saw Sri Chinmoy was at the Philadelphia Peace Concert in 1996, at the old hockey arena, called the Spectrum.  I think I was wearing my favorite, somewhat ratty old red shirt and jeans, and I sat on one of the folding chairs relatively close to the stage.  I remember hyperventilating; I was responding to his extraordinary presence.  He had an unmistakable aura of white light over his head, and also the entire building was flooded with his consciousness.  I was speechless, immobile, dumbfounded.  I kept my eyes closed because his spiritual height was unbelievable, I couldn’t process it with my rational mind.  Also it was more comfortable for me to keep my eyes shut, I found the light was impossible to absorb.

Then, suddenly, a voice inside of me said, “Look!  Look!  Open your eyes!  Open your eyes!”  It was the end of the concert, the closing meditation.  The Master was standing in the middle of the stage, with his hands folded in prayer, meditating in a sublime and exalted trance.  For the first time in my life I felt the Grace of God as an actual palpable reality.  That moment, that first moment meditating with the Master, in his highest consciousness and perceiving who and what he was, was the most significant moment of my life.

Maybe six months later, I traveled up to New York to see him at a public “seeker’s meditation”.  I remember not knowing what to expect, and wondering if I would have the same experience as I had in Philadelphia.  This meditation was held at his outdoor tennis court slash meditation space, called “Aspiration-Ground.”  I just remember he entered the tennis grounds wearing a track suit, and walked round and round the length of the court, a serious aspect, his brow furrowed.

A smile spread over my face, I was grinning from ear to ear.  I couldn’t even control it!  I folded my hands spontaneously, and just gaped in amazement and wonder at this man.  His entire body radiated a deep blue light, sea-blue or sky-blue.  It was just blue light, radiant blue light.  Even when I closed my eyes and meditated, I could see the blue light entering through my eyelids, seeping into my body and mind.

Spiritual Masters, great God-realised Gurus, make you aware of your own divinity.  They make you feel that God-consciousness is something achievable!  Sri Chinmoy made me feel this blue light was not a mental hallucination; it was my own forgotten property: the light of Infinity, the light of spirituality.

One older disciple told me later he saw my face, the fact I was in ecstasy and rapture, and he knew I was destined for this path.

Previously, maybe three months before, my Centre leader got permission for me to attend a disciple function with the Master.  It was a celebration of the anniversary of his Jharna-Kala paintings.  “Jharna-Kala” means “Fountain-Art” and his artwork is certainly an inspired flow.  My most vivid memory of that evening is Sri Chinmoy returning from the hallway into the main function room.  He walked past me, and I saw the expression on his face.  It was an expression of the utmost confidence and satisfaction.  It was like he was completely fulfilled in his life, he didn’t want for anything or need anything- he was happy with his inner reality.  Also, as a seeker, I was trying to fathom him, trying to understand him, but he was inscrutable.  I knew then that this person wasn’t someone who was going to explain himself to me, but rather I would have to mold my consciousness and life in his own way, or let him mold me in his own way, before I could ever begin to comprehend him.  He would not meet me on my terms, the terms of logic, ego, reason and mental arithmetic.  That was not his way.  I was not yet a disciple, but I knew that in order to become one, I would have to learn his game, and see the world through his eyes.  Was I ready to do that?

I did make that decision soon after- to become his student, his disciple.  As I progress on the path, I see my own life with Sri Chinmoy as an ever evolving mystery.  There was no beginning.  There is no end.