'It's a miracle you're alive'

It has often been said that we make the most progress when we have to overcome obstacles or hardships. I have had the firsthand experience that this is true, but that experience almost cost me my life!

One hot, quiet Saturday afternoon in July of 1976, I was working in the back room of our stationery store. I was alone in the store; the front door was open, and I was busy doing paperwork, figuring I could hear if anyone came in and needed help. I was wrong. Suddenly I heard a noise and the moment I looked up, I knew I was in serious trouble. Just one foot away, an evil-looking man stood staring at me, seething with hatred. Those few seconds of frozen silence felt like an eternity.

Stunned, I jumped out of my chair. The man instantly charged at me as if to stab me. I covered my chest, expecting to be attacked with a knife, but instead he smashed me over the head with a lead pipe he had concealed in his other hand. It all seemed to be happening in slow motion, and I remember thinking to myself after the second or third blow, “What is wrong with you? Why aren’t you invoking help from Sri Chinmoy and God the Supreme?” I started chanting aloud, “Guru, Supreme, Guru, Supreme” — each time this hostile being struck, I would cry out, “Guru, Supreme!”

After seven or eight blows I fell to the ground, but he continued to attack me. I was convinced he was trying to kill me, when suddenly, for no apparent reason, he stopped. He grabbed my wallet and wristwatch and sauntered out of the store.

Back in those days there was almost no business on a summer weekend, and I might have lain there for hours, but miraculously within seconds a friend came into the store and spotted me curled up on the floor in a pool of blood, holding my head. She sank to her knees and started crying hysterically. I was so moved that anyone would care enough about me to cry like that; I even tried to calm her down by saying, “Don’t worry, I’m okay.”

Of course, I wasn’t really okay. The police came, and an ambulance took me to the hospital, where they discovered that my scalp had been split open in several places. Sri Chinmoy had just flown in from somewhere to JFK Airport, and when he got the news he came straight to the hospital.

I was all bloody and bandaged and felt helpless, but I managed to fold my hands in prayer and bow to him when he came in. I was just overwhelmed with gratitude because I knew he had just saved my life. But that was just the beginning of the story.

The hospital released me, but the doctors were concerned about possible long-term neurological damage. I was extremely dizzy and weak; I could barely get up out of bed, and slept for hours and hours. But I felt a very powerful spiritual force healing me.

One day Sri Chinmoy visited me at my house and brought two pies from Bubka’s Bakery. I felt him pouring his blessings and compassion and love into me. Then he asked me about the man who had attacked me. He described what the man looked like and even mentioned a spot where the man had a mole on his face — he was absolutely correct! With no prompting from me, Sri Chinmoy said with great intensity that the man would suffer unbearable karma for what he had done.

After Sri Chinmoy’s visit, day by day I got stronger, and my heart became fuller and fuller. I had spectacular meditations, full of light and bliss. Unbeknownst to me, my body was healing at a miraculous rate.

Within two weeks, I was healthy and working behind the counter at the stationery store. Customers who had heard about what had happened were shocked to see me.  A few weeks after I came back to work, a policeman walked in. He had responded to the 911 call and was there when the ambulance took me to the hospital. He hesitated when he saw me and then awkwardly asked, obviously not recognising me, “You know that guy who used to work here who got beat up — well, do you know if he, uh, survived?” I laughed and told the officer that he was looking at “that guy” face to face.  At first he didn’t believe me, but after I showed him my scars he finally accepted the truth. He shook his head and exclaimed, “You know, it’s a miracle you’re alive.”