Our spiritual journey begins
I think my soul knew I was a disciple of Sri Chinmoy when I walked in to a café one day in South Australia and saw Guru’s smiling photo on a wall for the very first time. A little spark jumped in my heart, as though it knew, recognising someone of immense importance, someone not from my past but from my future, the lodestar.
Then in a newspaper, that ‘learn to meditate’ advert, an enquiring phone call or two and Sipra inviting us around, not to a class as there were none then running, but to her flat for some starting tuition. And there he was again in a photo on her shrine! He kept finding us, beckoning us in some beautiful tryst with Destiny.
Sipra has a great sense of humor and will forgive me recounting this next incident. We were shown into a small room where we saw for the very first time a large Transcendental photo. We were invited to sit on the carpet, to look at Guru’s third eye and to breathe in peace. Then she said, “I have to go shopping for a while, I’ll be back soon”, and thereupon left us, returning over half an hour later clutching her shopping bags. That was the only lesson in meditation we ever had.
Meditating on Sri Chinmoy's photo
We were very keen to meditate, and had open minds and an interest in using Guru’s photo. We had aspiration, and that sincerity gave us discipline. We knew that everything before this had been a readying, an apprenticeship that had prepared and led us to this new chapter in our lives. Our lives then were uncluttered, with plenty of time to pursue our path wholeheartedly.
Guru’s photo was a portal or doorway into an inner spiritual realm –we both knew it was there, undiscovered yet familiar, like a distant country we would one day visit. Looking at Guru’s photo, I felt the veil hiding that world from me was very thin, that discoveries were very close by. Intensity, eagerness – we felt the veil would part. Guru’s photo also came to be seen as a mirror – what I saw there, the detachment and poise and calm, I knew reflected back to me my own possibilities, a truer Self that was awakening within me.
For a time Subarata and I had two Border Collie dogs and lived near the beach. At around 5am every morning the dogs would wake us, impatient and eager for their morning beach adventure, usually a high velocity half hour sprint along the wide shoreline. So we meditated early, the irrepressible dogs ensuring our clockwork, pre-dawn sadhana. We simply used our Guru’s photo in our meditations, with little interest in further technique, and played His songs and esraj performances. I came to feel and understand that these songs were also a portal, drawing us down in to a silence that melted away the mind and dissolved our boundaries.
Man can become God
When we first encountered Guru’s writings on the indivisibility of man and God, on man becoming God, we were quite amazed. Brought up as we were with the classical view of the unbridgeable gulf between Creator and creation, the concept of realising God – or more startlingly, becoming God – was revolutionary, a breathtaking assertion.
Man and God are eternally one. Like God, man is infinite; like man, God is finite. There is no yawning gulf between man and God. Man is the God of tomorrow; God, the man of yesterday and today.
Sri Chinmoy 1
I have always treasured this thought, and even on a really bad day when I can hardly bear to be myself, I find comfort in knowing and understanding that we will one day soar, one day merge with God.
Becoming Sri Chinmoy's disciple
A short time later Sipra invited us to become disciples and our photos went to New York for our new Guru’s consideration. Though downplayed and unceremonial, the photo-taking was somehow a confirmation and commitment, we were embracing a future which, though chosen, had also been chosen for us. It was a crossroads – which way? – and we took the road less travelled, no maps or milestones or certainties.
Some who come to our path are drawn to and inspired by the message – Guru’s teachings – rather than the messenger – Guru Himself. In our case, we had little exposure to the message, to Guru’s books and writings, but I think it was the Messenger that we were drawn to. It was also at an unconscious level since, as Vivekananda said: ‘Those who choose the Infinite have been chosen by the Infinite’. We were being carried along by an inner current, the underground river of the soul, and the mind did not really have much to do with it at all. We simply said ‘yes’ to everything because it felt right. The requirements of the path were trifles.
We were not looking for a Master, and there was no sudden revelation that we had found one. But it was as though our souls knew and were navigating our way, and the other parts of our being were entirely compliant and happy to follow along.
When Guru saw our seeker application photo, He commented “Who said that my Transcendental picture has lost its power?’
Our first visit to Sri Chinmoy
Shortly after we went to New York. Subarata loved her independence and also loved her family, often travelling home to Ireland. I decided to go to New York to meet Guru and phoned Subarata in Ireland, but she didn't want to go – she liked her independence a lot. When she returned and saw my firm intention, she eventually declared that she had decided to go also.
We first saw Guru at an evening meditation, sometime in early 1981. In a New York public school evening meditation, my eyes wide open, I was seeing auras around everyone. Guru himself was surrounded by white light. Something stirred in my memory, a pleasing feeling of recollection and of coming home.
We stood afterwards in the school corridor down which he walked on the way to his car and in those few moments I think something quite significant happened. Guru looked at both of us and smiled very beautifully – his eyes flickered up and down and he was looking at my heart centre. I could feel something happening there, a block removed, a small explosion of feeling. After that I never worried about how to meditate any more – I felt it had all been taken care of, an initiation of some kind, and that meditation was really a gift or an act of grace. We just had to be willing to keep trying.
Visiting New York and meeting Guru for the first time was a real roller coaster ride – a fast track to God! Guru had publicly commented that if we all had intensity and aspiration, these coming two weeks would yield the benefits of 50 years of effort on our own. That became our purpose. Everything was very intense – long days of activity, long nights of meditation, endless surprises, running races, a beautiful and enriching mingling of disciples who’d converged here from all over our planet. The spiritual force of a Master and the collective aspiration of the many seeker-disciples made our meditation space a sacred place.
This outer tale is nothing much, but I sometimes wonder at the inner things hidden from our understanding, and marvel that two people such as we could be so blessed. This gift of discipleship irrevocably changed the course of our life river and set us firmly on the great journey back to God, that supreme quest and highest calling that lies at the heart of each and every human life.