Section VI – Actively Seeking – Return to NY
- Ride to NY to check out the spiritual Teachers and alternatives (*19)
- Strong guidance at Sri Chinmoy's Kundalini Yoga Talks at NYU. (*20) http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/kmp
- What is Aspiration? (*21) type here
- Others comments on my spiritual search (*22)
- Eastern Light for the Western Mind? (*23) - seeing it at retreat library upstate NY
- My Flute - Poetry - and interesting reaction to cover photo (*24)
- Requesting to be part of the community (*25) -
Section VI – Actively Seeking – Return to NY
(*19) Ride to NY to check out the spiritual Teachers and alternatives.
Some friends (who were teachers on the east coast) came back to Dayton as part of their spring break. The previous year they had received their masters degrees in Ohio and then had accepted positions at progressive schools on the East coast. They had also continued the "seeking" experiences that we had been sharing while they were with us in Ohio. When they arrived back we had an update of intense sharing of what had been learned. They informed that in the New York area especially there were many groups of people organized around any number of different approaches to exploring relating to the inner life. Every night there could be a few alternatives places that one could decide to attend: some discussion or demonstration. My friend’s because of their work commitments were mostly limited to the weekends as to the items they could follow up on. They suggested that I might ride with them back to New York and stay for some time between the two different places they lived. I would be free to explore any alternative approached I was able to attend. It was understood that I would report back on the experience.
(*20) Strong guidance at Sri Chinmoy's Kundalini Yoga Talks at NYU.
I had come back to NY to stay with friends in Nayak and Manhattan specifically to check out the various spiritual groups they had told me were then in New York City.
• Planning approach to NY Schedule: During the first few weeks in NY I stayed for bit in Nayak NY, reading and further exploring my beginning meditation practices. Some evenings and on Weekend we would go to Manhattan for events. Etc. Then I began staying in the friend’s apartment in Manhattan and was busy checking out different groups and talks there. I would go to the different bookstores, health food stores and the local universities and review the notice boards. (This was way before the internet days). Then I would decide which events to attend for the night and or following week. Almost every day I would go to one or two different events. I would report back to my friends what I found since they were working and were mostly free to attend the events only on weekends and some nights.
• Outstanding items on “to do” list When I first came to NY there were a few things on my exploring “to do” list. After a few weeks I still had 2 things I had not done: Sri Chinmoy and Kundalini Yoga. I had read some on Kundalini Yoga from a book in Ohio and understood that it was advisable to have teacher if you were to pursue this yoga practice. I had also heard of and seen pictures of Sri Chinmoy on a Mahavishnu album and my friends had heard about him on "in the Spirit" WBAI radio show.
• NYU Choices. I was at a local University and came across a bulletin board that had a number of related posters. Two posters immediately caught my eye: One was for Kundalini Yoga talk or demonstration and the other was a lecture by Sri Chinmoy. I was very happy to have found two of the things I was looking for. Then I realized both talks were scheduled for the same time and was disappointed that I would have to choose between them and skip one. So I began to read more detail on both of the posters and saw the talk Sri Chinmoy was giving was part of series where he would speak on Kundalini Yoga. That made the decision easy - I went to Sri Chinmoy's talk on Kundalini Yoga at NYU.
• Presence in Room I felt a very intense but peaceful and focused presence shortly after Sri Chinmoy had entered the room. I couldn’t grasp all that was said in the first lecture , but. I also felt like meditating right while the talk was going on.
• Students singing. I was amazed that at one point some of Sri Chinmoy's students just seemed to appear on stage and begin singing and then leave the stage without much fanfare. And the meeting would just go on. How do they know when to come up an sing? I was immediately curious about these students.
• No Literature? After the event was over,in a few minutes, I got up to see if there was a book or some other information I could get. But all the people associated with the group were gone. where did all these people go so quickly? This seemed a bit different, because in most of the other events that I attended there were usually a few people offering information about the talk or books etc. by the lecturer.
• I kept going to the next lectures on the following weeks and started to feel it was one of the most significant events available. I thought there would be at least six lectures and I figured that by the last one I would have a good Idea if it was something I wanted to pursue further.
• Lecture Series Ending: However at the forth lecture in the beginning of March in 1973, Sri Chinmoy mentioned that it would be the last in the series. Sri Chinmoy said he felt he had shared all that he had to offer on the Subject. I was quite disappointed to hear this. I felt I was beginning to understand something I needed by coming regularly to these sessions. Inwardly it seemed that I was getting something valuable from attending. But if there were no more events, what could I do?
• Remembering a Mantra: at that point I remembered the Mantra a Jain teacher had previously told me. It translated to “All you who have conquered your inner enemies (doubt, feat, pride etc) I bow before you. When I had first heard the Mantra I was not too excited about the bowing part. The teacher kindly explained to me that I should think of a water pitcher, which is to be filled up in a lake. In order to fill up it has to bow into the water to let the water come in. That image helped a great deal. Also I knew from my travels and some reading that the greeting of “Namaste” meant: “I bow to the spirit within you”. (As you bow to the spirit within me). The teacher had instructed to say the mantra 108 Times each session. Sometimes, when I wanted to practice patience etc., I would say this mantra anywhere, even silently on the train or at different events I attended. It helped me be less distracted by outer circumstances and remember why I was attending these events
• Prayer Answered: So, after Sri Chinmoy made the announcement it would be the last lecture I started to silently repeat this mantra as sort of prayer to know what to do, to calm myself and stay in a meditative mood. When I reached 108, Sri Chinmoy began again to speak and said something like: "I feel that some of the seekers here are very sincere. And even though this would be his last talk on Kundalini, it seems some would like to join us for meditation or other events. In that case we will continue another night during the week for a public meditation and those present were welcome to come.” I was quite happy at that moment with the “coincidence”. I kept going to those events each Saturday for many weeks.
(*21) What is Aspiration?
When I first heard the word "Aspiration" in the context of Sri Chinmoy's talks and writings, I would always pause. It was like hitting a bump in the road. Somehow I knew I didn't get it! -read more here: http://www.srichinmoycentre.org/Members/adhiratha/aspiration_intro
(*22) Others comments on my spiritual search
As I continued my search in the New York area and the inner region of my own understanding, I continued to be inspired by some, poetry and "chance" meetings with other seekers and people of interest. There were some very unique (and memorable for me) moments. Sometimes only years later did I recognize them as having helped me move further on a path that suited my being. I had received unknown guidance from many sources. A few are mentioned here.
- Mantra requesting guidance:When I came to NY one teacher shared with me a mantra (mentioned above – “all you who have conquered your inner enemies..") Sincerely doing this exercise helped me see the beauty of meditating on a simple thought and watching it open to different meanings. Some useful and important humility began to consciously dawn in my inner life. I was requesting guidance with awareness that I could use assistance.
- An older seeker’s observation: At one point a friend and I were offered a ride to a meeting with an older person who was associated with a specific teacher. My friend liked this person though he said he was a bit reserved. He was impressed with all the knowledge he seemed to have of various masters and students. he pointed out to me that in his big NY apartment he had one room full of books and most on Spiritual subjects. After we waited in his apartment and chatted a bit we went in his car (I had briefly peeked at the his Library). He started to question me on the different teachers and meetings I had gone to in NY thus far. I mentioned a few impressions I had. He then wanted to know what I saw and felt about Sri Chinmoy. I mentioned that I enjoyed going to his meditations because I felt the intensity of the spiritual atmosphere at his meetings. I also said that when I watched him speak to his students he seemed to do it with such genuine caring and concern for them. Also when he responded to questions he seemed to be striving to answer the question for the individual asking but also for any others who might be in the room with a similar question. On spiritual subjects and peoples progress he emanated tremendous concern, he wanted people to move forward. At this point the older person interrupted me while he was driving and wanted to know if I would be Sri Chinmoy's disciple. When I said I didn’t think so. He wanted to know why not? I think I said I wasn't sure what I was doing. He then said to me that he had been looking for his teacher for years and that he had never felt what I described about a teacher. If he had, he would have become that person’s disciple. I had no response. I felt a bit sad for him.
- Extra Class – sharing what I felt: I was going to Class related to Hatha Yoga and/or Spiritual Dance and stretching at 79 th street area in Manhattan. The teacher was very responsive and encouraging with the class and there was a feeling that the participants were making progress in a very relaxed atmosphere. After a few weeks the teacher said she noticed that a number of us were very engaged. There as was another full class she was having at different time during the week. She was thinking about adding a additional class, for people who might like to come more than one time a week. She requested to know who might like to come to the second class and said what day it was. I didn’t volunteer but I think others showed enthusiasm. After the class when most of the other students were gone she approached me and said I was the one person she was sure would come. She had noticed how regularly I attended and showed such interest in learning. I said I would like to but I have another commitment that evening? She laughed and said "AHHH - usually I don't ask but is it for another spiritual group?" When I said yes she further questioned "is it Sri Chinmoy". I said yes and was wondering what the response would be. I didn't usually share with people what else I was attending as I was going about my discovery process. Then the teacher surprisingly says "Don't worry that is fine. It is a good choice. As a matter of fact, my teacher has told me that if he is not in town and I should go and see Sri Chinmoy. I requested to know who her teacher was and she said it was "Pir Vilayat Khan". Then the next week after the class she asked unexpectedly what I thought of Sri Chinmoy's path and if I was going to be a disciple. Again this was unexpected and I just answered directly this time. I said I had honestly begun to think about it recently but I felt if I joined his path I would possibly be too peaceful. I felt such peace when I was at his meditations or when I read his writings. My answer was unexpected by the teacher and she wanted to know what was wrong with “being peaceful”. Well. I said, it seem if you are with him you sort of go to another place and may not care about the injustice in the world or working to make things better. I felt I should also be involved in some way with the world. (I didn’t know that much about Sri Chinmoy’s students lives at the time, but I guess I sort of assumed they were somewhat removed from the world to be around such a teacher). This follower of a different path (Sufi) sort of cut in with some inner authority (speaking tone) she said something like who says you can't have inner peace and do what you are supposed to for the world. She added “maybe it is just your own negativity that doesn't want you to have this deep feeling of peace that you seem to feel you will get?" That thought was shocking to me - I had no response and just said "Maybe" sort of confused or embarrassed. We parted with smiles. In a way she seemed to be saying a lot of people seeking would like to have my dilemma: Fear of too much inner peace :-)
- Goal – sincere spiritual development: I was at a bookstore or literature kiosk associated with one of the classes or lectures I was attending at the time (I don't remember where for sure) and senior aspirants or seekers were just chatting during a break and comparing notes about different paths. At some point Sri Chinmoy's path and approach came up and all seemed to know him. I began to eavesdrop on their conversation. The consensus seemed to be that he was genuine and very developed soul. But they all seemed to also agree that he wanted student that came to his path to be very sincere and to have the goal of going as quickly as possible with their spiritual development. This seemed to them not possible or advisable in the modern world especially in a city environment. They also seemed to cavalierly dismiss that it was possible or worth the effort and at any rate would cause too much stress for modern people. I remained silent off to the side and just listened since by this time I was thinking more about this path myself. I was a bit shocked that these people who obviously had been to many paths and lectures over the years didn't want to go quickly. At first I couldn’t get my mind around this concept. If you were going to go for it, then why not go fully. I began thinking too about the fact that I was taking my time while pondering alternative approaches. Still I felt an inner assurance that if I decided to try something I would not want to delay any progress possible. I think I said something along these lines to one of the people still there when I came out of my own thoughts but the conversation didn't go further.
- Retreat with Dr.Mishra: I had gone to some programs associated with Dr Mishra in Manhattan (Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, also known as Ramamurti S. Mishra, M.D). I was familiar with his book “Fundamentals of Yoga: A Handbook of Theory, Practice, and Application,” which was quite popular at the time. I was subsequently invited to attend a retreat in the country where Dr Mishra would be personally leading sessions. It was scheduled to last about 10 days around Easter time in 1973. The location was to be in upstate NY. The schedule called for Hatha Yoga, Sanskrit classes, Music and different cultural events on some days. All the participants would eat together vegetarian food and there would even be some time to offer to do some service around the grounds. I was very excited about going to this retreat and expediting progress of my spiritual search and discipline. The only regret was that I would have to miss some of my regular scheduled events that I had begun going to regularly each week in Manhattan. I had previously spent some long weeks in ohio where I was able to read, do exercise or practice some meditation techniques on whatever schedule I decided. Since being in NY, I had many days that I could completely organize my time when I wasn’t checking out bulletin boards for future spiritual type events we might attend. However this upcoming retreat seemed to be even better. Full time practicing, exploring spiritual topics and techniques with likeminded people and guidance from those who had been practicing for some time. I felt I would come back changed for the better. This seemed as good as it could get at that time in my seeking journey. I had a quiet anticipation hopes. It felt like it might be a turning point of some kind.
- Intensity of Questions: I was intensely seeking and had quite a few questions after Dr Mishra spoke. After he had graciously responded to my initial questions and I later on raised my hand again he requested to know my family name. I said “Keefe” Dr. Mishra then responded that it sounds a bit like “key” and that "your intensity of questions befits one with a key - but eventually you need the door. The key to the door is not enough to enter.” I wasn’t sure what he meant. Did I not know where to present the questions or how to approach the door?. If I approach the right way would the door open without the key?. At any rate I didn’t present any more questions out front at that event (quite possibly much to relief of the other participants and maybe even Dr. Mishra)
- Confused: At the retreat as promised, there was wonderful meals taken together; Hatha Yoga class, Sanskrit class as well as meditation sessions, cultural and other yoga events or less formal “get togethers”. I was a very enthusiastic participant. However by the afternoon of one of the initial days I was feeling very confused, instead of feeling the calm I expected. At some time I decided to find a quite place and just be alone. I choose the library.
- Reading helps: After I sat for a while I received the inspiration to read some spiritual writings. I went to the shelf and a book spine attracted me. I pulled it out and it was Sri Chinmoy’s “Eastern Light for the Western Mind”. I opened to a section and began to read. Immediately I felt a calming peace overcome me. I continued to read that section for a bit and then returned to the bigger group. I said I guess I just needed to be alone or read something. I enjoyed the scheduled program for the rest of afternoon and evening
- Book touch realization: The following day I began the days program again with enthusiasm. However this time by mid morning I was confused like I had been the day before in the afternoon. I remembered I had gone to Library the day before and it was helpful. So I went but didn’t immediately feel better so I began to recall what I had done in Library. I remembered reading so I approached the shelf. This time something strange happened as I just barely touched the book by Sri Chinmoy a great calm and relaxed peace came over me. I sat down with the realization that what I wanted was not here in the peaceful retreat environment away from NY City. But was instead most likely at the meditations with Sri Chinmoy.
- Heart Decides – Mind Adjusts: At that moment I think my heart was convinced that Sri Chinmoy was my spiritual teacher. My mind began to adjust to the idea that I should ask to be his student to know if this was my path. Even though the mind was not completely happy about what this might entail.
- Beginning of abiding Peace: I went to the organizers of the 10 day retreat and thanked them, and explained that I felt I should go back to NYC since I had an inner experience that I needed to follow up with there. The people at the retreat were very accommodating and it turned out someone who could only attend for few days would be leaving that afternoon and had room in their car. It was an intense ride back to NY as I tried to absorb what I had just done and would be doing next. But the peace I felt from touching the book stayed with me the whole time so I felt I must be doing the right thing, no matter what happened next..
(*24)My Flute - Poetry
Around this time I also became aware that Sri Chinmoy was also a poet and began to read some of his poetry. One of the books was “My Flute “ published the previous year in 1972. I liked that the volume was called “my Flute” since I still from time to time played a few repetitive notes on a wooden flute.
- Flute Picture: At some point I questioned one of Sri Chinmoy’s older students as to how long Sri Chinmoy had played that flute used for the cover. He responds that he doesn’t really play that kind of flute, and was just asked to hold the flute for the cover photo. For some reason my mind was shocked. I think because by that time I had taken some joy while reading the poetry in thinking that Sri Chinmoy actually played that kind of flute. My initial disappointment began to take away from the good inspiring feelings I was getting overall. I sensed my critical mind was blowing this up and after bit of pondering realized I had to adjust. I realized that the poetry in the book (and the illumining experience it had given me) was more important than how the cover shot was set up..
- Flute reality – Grace Protection: Many years later I was reminded of those early thoughts and I realized that during the intervening years since Sri Chinmoy had now been playing many different flutes for years (including the type on the earlier book cover). His flute playing has become the music of choice for people to use in meditation sessions http://www.radiosrichinmoy.org/free-online-music-radio/free_flute_music. I felt grateful that years before when I had had a little bump in the road, that some wisdom (or grace) was available to put the incident in perspective. It had not delayed me too much or stole the joy.and inner light I was receiving from the poetry in the My Flute book.
(*25) Approaching the Sri Chinmoy relationship
After I came back early to Manhattan from the other group’s retreat, I made plans to attend the next meeting where Sri Chinmoy was scheduled to be present. This was I think that same Tuesday night in Queens. I took the subway from Manhattan and went up the hill from the Parsons Boulevard Stop. I arrived a bit late to the person’s house. At the close of the meeting, I think I almost stopped Sri Chinmoy as he was going passed me on the way out to ask if I would be accepted as his student. But I got a strong feeling to wait. It seemed everyone else would like his attention too and he seemed in a very meditative mood. Then someone made announcement that those who were interested in becoming students were welcomed to meet with the NY coordinator afterwards.
- See also: Youtube video Adhiratha on becoming Student of Sri Chinmoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKO_N9Stov8
- First encounter with Sri Chinmoy’s helpers: I had spoken to this gentleman before on two occasions over the past few weeks when I was going to the meetings at NY University. The first time I just asked a simple question and told him how much I liked the talks. He then informed me if I wanted to become a student I would have to shave my long hair and cut my beard. I said I was not interested in being a student but cutting my hair would not be a problem. He said some people found that difficult. I wondered about that. I didn’t want to be Sri Chinmoy’s student. But I thought it was interesting that he requested his male students to have short hair. I began to wonder if I was attached to my long hair and beard.
- Cutting the hair to see the result. Inwardly preparing for a dedicated life of seeking - outwardly cutting hair to see if attached. One of the next days when I was in my friend’s apartment I began to consider again if I might be attached to my long hair and beard since I had had it for such a long time. I thought that was something silly if I was trying to know “truth”. So I got inspired and first trimmed the beard to a mustache and goatee. Then I was further inspired to just start cutting off the hair on my head with a scissors. I was amazed at how much younger and innocent I looked as my hair got shorter. As I looked in the mirror some tougher image of myself as: merchant seaman; university activist, construction worker etc seemed to change. I looked and felt quite a bit more vulnerable. Then I got inspired to also cut off the mustache and goatee. When I looked in the mirror again it was striking how I seemed to be seeing someone different, more open like I had been in high school. It was some inner adjustment. It seemed too that some of my developed aggressive defensive persona had left with the hair. When my friends came home from work that day they were a bit shocked and we all had a good laugh at my hair cutting technique. Someone helped trim up my head so my cutting job didn’t look so wild – which had produced a bit eccentric look. In a few days the subtle effect of having cut the hair, seemed like it was a good move to assist in my spiritual search.
- Lighter colored Clothing: I had also heard that Sri Chinmoy had suggested that male students wear lighter colored clothing to mediations to help with their purity, so I slowly began to do that too.
- After the next meeting at NYU, I was standing near the NY coordinator and I just said in friendly manner that I appreciated him speaking with me previously and that I was still getting much from the Sri Chinmoy’s meetings. I think I even mentioned that I would be away for ten days so would not be at next meetings. He couldn’t remember speaking to me and then he had a shocked expression of recognition. And queried: “Are you the tall one who asked me a question said they didn’t want to be a disciple and had long hair?. I confirmed that was me and he further asked: “But why did you cut your hair.” I said I just wondered if I was attached to it and I now think that maybe the shorter hair will help me have a more open experience with the present. He said something like: you don’t want to be a student but go and cut your hair to see if it is helpful. So many come to me and say they want to be Sri Chinmoy’s disciples but have a difficult time with cutting your hair." Then he just smiled. And I smiled back saying something flippant like “in the search for inner truth, outer hair length seemed unimportant”.
- Discussing my situation: This Tuesday night, I waited until others were finished and then went into a small room to speak with the coordinator of the SCC meeting in NY. He recognized me from my previous chats I explained my predicament. I don't believe in following teachers in principal. However, due to so many "coincidences" and experiences this is what I seem to need to do to grow and understand. My heart says it is the right thing to do.
Following guidelines: The coordinator noticed I hadn’t shaved since we last met and I said I just returned from that other retreat. He let me know it was expected to not be a week between shaves. I assured him that shaving daily was not an issue for me. Then he went over some other basics that I said was not problem I had been meditating on a regular basis daily; had been eating as a vegetarian for quite a while, and in Dayton decided that even social drinking for me was counterproductive, disingenuous, a waste of precious inner resources and time.
- Note on when I had stopped social drinking. I had an experience in Dayton where I had shared this belief with a friend that drinking alcohol seemed like getting on a merry go round where you ultimately go nowhere significant, learn little for the time invested and sometimes got physically sick. But I said I still felt obliged to continue in some situations or pretend because I didn’t want to offend some good hearted people who wanted to be close by sharing this experience. He questioned me if I would want someone to keep doing something that they felt was not good for their own growth just so they would not offend me if I was still doing it. I said of course not. Then he said “why don’t you respect us as much”. I got the point. We discussed that real friends understand if you are doing (or trying not to do) something sincerely. And for the rest you cannot be responsible and it will have little effect on their choices any way. I had then just stopped drinking any alcohol and liked the difference. It was simpler, if queried I just told people my experience and personal preference.
- My picture and note: Now in NY, it seemed because of my previous reading of different spiritual books and recent experiences, I had already been doing for some time, at least outwardly, all that was required to apply to be Sri Chinmoy’s student. The guidelines seemed to be common sense if one wanted to make fast progress in understanding themselves. The coordinator mentioned that I should write a few things about myself and provide a picture that Sri Chinmoy could meditate on to see if he was meant to be my teacher and if he could assist in my search. That sounded good and I immediately felt if I was NOT meant to be his student, then by going through this experience I would be closer to finding a path best suited for myself. (My heart and mind seemed to be agreeing on this).
- One final question on discipleship: We chatted for awhile and he then asked if I had any final questions. I saisd: "Just one: What does it mean to be a disciple". He suspected I may be putting him on and not really serious about this endeavor. I assured him that I was sincere, I am really doing the things he said and will write and send in the picture. But I just have feeling that I don’t fully understand what it is to be a disciple. It seems I am somehow missing something or my mind can’t quite grasp all it will entail. He starts to reiterate some outer things again and realizes he is repeating himself from our conversation a few moments previously. He stops abruptly and with a exasperated sense says in effect that I should just write the letter and give the picture and we will just let Sri Chinmoy decide. That seems fine with me and I leave the poor man alone. As I was leaving I got a similar feeling to when I would ask an unexpected question in evening religious confraternity class in high school and the teacher would not know how to respond.
- Writing the note: I went home to my parent’s house on Long Island to begin to write my letter of interest. As I thought about this letter, I became concerned that I would convey an accurate picture and the notes got longer. I began to write not just the outer circumstances but also some of my inner experiences. I thought that if I was accepted I wanted Sri Chinmoy to know what he was getting in for by having me for a student. I thought I didn’t want to go through all this and then find out later that if something had been know in advance I would not have been accepted as his disciple. As I began to explore what to include, I felt it was a good exercise in itself. As sort of stock taking of my life at 25. It seemed to reinforce that irrespective of the result the whole process would bring me nearer to the path I was most suited to follow. I would get closer to my goal. I then borrowed my parents old typewriter and preceded to transfer my scraps of paper to about 12 pages single spaced of all that I felt might be good to share. (If I had kept a copy, it might have made it easier to remember all of what I had done previously and write some of the above information – especially for the college years)
- Waiting for a response: I turned in my notes and my picture at the next meeting. It was with a sense of relief that it was done. I felt like I had reached some fork in the road no matter what happened next. It still seemed like a significant decision for my mind to accept. Then I began to wait. I kept going to meetings and at the next Saturday meeting I noticed some new people were called up and I wondered if that was how I would find out. I was a bit nervous. But no one called me up and after the meeting I approached the coordinator to see if there was any response. He said he had given my information to Sri Chinmoy but had not heard a response yet. I had felt I would hear within a day or two since Sri Chinmoy was in NY (and I had given such a complete picture of my situation!). I was impatient to know. I almost didn’t seem to care what the answer was. Neither one would surprise me I thought.
- April 13th invite. While I was waiting to hear, I was informed that I it would be alright for me to attend a special celebration where students of Sri Chinmoy were coming from different parts of country and even overseas. This was to celebrate his 9th anniversary of arriving in USA in 1964. I think I came by LI Rail Road from my parents house and met some people for a ride in front of a printing press and Ice cream store run by some of the students in queens on Parsons Blvd. I remember enjoying traveling to the event (I believe it was in Connecticut) with 3 other young people. All had been already students of Sri Chinmoy for between 5 years and few months. This was a good introduction as people asked me my story of how I came to NY and I heard their various tales. The event was in a big suburban church surrounded by open fields. On the program, in addition to silent meditation different groups of people were getting up to perform songs or recitations. At one point during a break in the activities Sri Chinmoy was moving around the hall speaking briefly with different people. I was standing next to a wall as he passed by. I was very tempted to approach him there or when he was sitting alone in the front. I just wanted to ask if I was meant to be his student. But I had a strong feeling that this was not the appropriate time. Somehow this event seemed more family like and a bit more relaxed than the public meetings I had previously attended with this group. I was aware that I was a guest and that it was usually only people who were already students who attended. I didn’t want to over extend my welcome by bringing up a subject that seemed “off topic” in this environment. Still I was sorely tempted on a few occasions that evening. I rode back with the same people and again enjoyed listening to them speaking about the event and upcoming plans. The person who had only been on this path for few months was also going back via LI Railroad. we went together to the station and while we waited for the trains he shared with me more of his life. Years later realized all the people in the car that day were younger than I was, some by 6 years. But in this specific experience they seemed much older and wiser.
Requesting response in public. By the next public meeting I had still not heard if Sri Chinmoy accepted me. I was becoming anxious to know. By this time I was going to the event in Manhattan on Saturday evening and to the one in Jamaica queens on Tuesday. Towards the end of meetings Sri Chinmoy would sometimes inquire if there were any questions. On a Tuesday night after he had answered a few questions I raised my hand. When called on I said “what do you have to do to find out if you are a disciple or student”. He said that I could speak to the NY coordinator and give a note about myself and a picture and he would meditate on the picture . I think I looked over in direction of the NY Coordinator at that point but nothing was said. So after another person had had their question answered. I raised my hand again and when recognized said: “What do you do if you have already done that”? There was a hushed silence in the room. My tone was a bit irritated and it seemed to get everyone’s attention and not in the most positive way. Sri Chinmoy looked at me very deeply and I returned his gaze. Then he queried if I had already turned in the picture and paper, I said yes. He paused and asked if it had been like two letters. ( I thought this meant like the inner and outer” experiences I had shared. I again said yes. (It seemed to be dragging on). Then he inquired very slowly. “So, you want to be my disciple?” (That was too much for my mind, it started to complain inwardly in lightening fashion that it was bad enough that I had to write it, and that was two weeks before and now he asks in public if I want to be disciple. My NY cynical mind said to my self "He has got to be kidding!"). I had never wrote anything like that about myself before . I was getting more upset with this whole thing. But inside my heart was saying just “shut up” to my mind. And the best I could do on response to Sri Chinmoy’s questions was to say through gritted teeth “yes”. Sri Chinmoy smiled compassionately and then said again very slowly and sweetly: "I whole heartedly accept you”. The mood in the room changed considerably and there were some “ahhhhs” etc. I just bowed my head in recognition and didn’t say anything. The whole thing had turned out in a way that I never expected. A bit anti climatic and I was left just trying to absorb what it meant. After the meeting I was a bit stunned as to what was next.
- Youtube video Adhiratha on becoming Student of Sri chinmoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKO_N9Stov8
- Not knowing how to accept "congratulations". Some people approached me after Sri Chinmoy had left. They were saying congratulations and that is really something . Sri Chinmoy doesn’t usually say “whole heartedly accepts you.” My heart was touched but my mind could be heard in the background saying “Big Deal” – are these people for real?. but as I went outside, overall I felt OK and it seemed I was moving forward.
- Getting a Picture: I was able to get a picture of Sri Chinmoy to meditate on. I had heard one could try to feel the master’s deep meditation consciousness to assist in the mediation by looking at their picture. I related to it like a sports analogy. Sort of like watching a pro to get the “feeling” of how they moved. Beyond the techniques they used. Previously I had meditated some times on picture I found on the cover of a spiritual book.
- No initial Interest in Spiritual Community: I knew I was not looking for more outer community. I had come from a supportive community growing up. I had the politically and culturally active community at the University and the local extended community around an alternative school in Dayton which I thought I would soon return to. I felt the communities I was already part of were very important but they had not provided me with the deepest knowledge or experiences I was seeking. Eventually I would grow to value more some of the "like minded souls" I had recently met and was soon to meet to share inspiration with while following a spiritual paths..
- Knowledgable Guidance: But for now I just wanted some knowledgeable guidance on the most effective way to gain constant access to a higher state of understanding or being. This understanding I hoped to use with poise to face the consequences of following my conscience. I also hoped it would make it easier for me to sort out (or somehow just know) what was the best thing to do in various circumstances life presented.
- Sharing knowledge as a Goal: Finally, if I found useful tools and techniques and ways to share what I learned, I hoped to be able to convey that to those I loved or would come across in the future who may be looking for the similar things. It seemed if enough people could figure out what was best to do in each situation; then do it and learn from the results we would all be in a much better place. Humanity would more quickly evolve.
Poem posted - An Inspiration and Aspiration:
When I was staying at my parents house on Long Ialand, when I first retured to NY early in 1973, I wrote this on a piece of paper and taped on the wall. It stayed there for many years ..and it often made me simile with gratitude when I would visit...my mother saved it when the room was later repainted ..
It is the Poem "The Absolute" by Sri Chinmoy which is presented in the book "My Flute" published in 1972 (link is external); Sri Chinmoy, My Flute (link is external), Agni Press, 1972. http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/mf-1 (link is external)
1. The Absolute
No mind, no form, I only exist;
Now ceased all will and thought;
The final end of Nature's dance,
I am it whom I have sought.
A realm of Bliss bare, ultimate;
Beyond both knower and known;
A rest immense I enjoy at last;
I face the One alone.
I have crossed the secret ways of life,
I have become the Goal.
The Truth immutable is revealed;
I am the way, the God-Soul.
My spirit aware of all the heights,
I am mute in the core of the Sun.
I barter nothing with time and deeds;
My cosmic play is done.
- Sri Chinmoy, My Flute (link is external), Agni Press, 1972