Utsahi - the divine seeker
It was Tuesday, December 2nd, 1997. Guru was offering the New Year’s message that night, before he left for the Christmas Trip. Malahinam, Jyotish and I had decided to drive to New York during the day and be there for the evening Peace Concert that Guru was offering in Manhattan, and to receive the 1998 New Year’s Message.
These annual messages had been of tremendous inspiration and hope for me over the twelve years that I had been on the path. They revealed Guru’s vision for the world for the year to come. Many times over the year, we would recite them collectively, in our group meditations. My favorite one had been the 1993 message:
God is dreaming,
Hope no more gropes.
Life without slopes,
Splendid depths and heights
Transform bondage nights.
Guru had encouraged us to post this particular message in as many places as possible. In Ottawa, we had it aired on the radio and it was printed in the local papers, both in French and English. Guru had put it into a beautiful song as well, which I love to sing.
So, on December 2, 1997, we had sneaked out of our respective workplaces in order to be with our Guru for a few hours, to receive both his message for 1998, and his light. Our plan was to drive back through the night, arrive in Ottawa at approximately 8 a.m. the next morning, take a shower and go to work... That way, we would only miss one day’s work.
Never did I suspect that this day would give me tremendous inspiration and hope, enlighten my life and change my destiny. It was the day when I would see my soul in its true form...
We found the hall, parked the car. It was relatively easy: we just had to follow the saris... With winter coats on, it wasn’t necessarily easy to recognize the boys in whites, but saris were very visible, and very beautiful. The place was packed; there must have been 400 or even 500 people in the hall, for a soulful concert of blessings and meditation. Many were not disciples, but admirers and devotees of Sri Chinmoy, who, over the years, had come to know Guru and were receptive to his message. We sat there and meditated in order to be receptive to our Guru’s message for the year to come.
Then there was silence, and Guru appeared on the stage. For more than one hour, he played the flute, the esraj, the harmonium; he sang several of his soulful compositions. He ended up with a sublime piano performance that electrified the atmosphere and the audience. Then he read the message for the New Year, and we were invited to go on stage and receive a copy of it, as well as an orange, directly from Guru’s hand. The girls went up first, and then the boys. I must have been in the first 20-25 boys.
When my turn came, Guru stopped the distribution, took an envelope from I-don’t-know-where, and handed it to me. Not realizing what was happening, I kind of pulled on the envelope, but Guru held on to it tightly, looked in my eyes, and offered me his sweetest smile. The world stopped. The crowd kept silent. Many people knew what was happening when they saw the envelope. I did not have a clue... Pulak was there and he took some pictures. (I am very thankful to him for having immortalized the occasion. I can now look at these special photos and remind myself of those beautiful moments...) Then Guru said:
I would like you to go home and meditate before opening this envelope. After 20 minutes of meditation, open the envelope, and then recite it 2 one hundred times.
Then he offered me his huge smile. I smiled in return. Then he let go of the envelope. I did not know what to say; I said nothing. Gradually, I realized what was happening. But it was too much, too fast, too intense. My heart was full of gratitude... I would need months thereafter to comprehend and digest what happened there in a split second. Slowly, the reality of what had happened started to sink in: Guru had given me my spiritual name, my soul’s name. I walked back to my place. People were happy, congratulating me. I was in bliss. But I had to wait another nine or ten long hours before I would know what my spiritual name was.
When we were in the car driving back home, I sat for a long time in the back seat with the envelope on my heart, cherishing the moment, heart full of gratitude, joy, bliss. Finally, we arrived in Ottawa. First, I had to do a few things in order not to ruin this special moment. I called my office and told them that something had unexpectedly happened and that I would come in later that day. Then I showered, sat at my altar, meditated as well as I could. And then the moment came. I opened the envelope and delicately took out a handwritten card, with three birds on top, on which Guru had written:
The seeker divine whose
Enthusiasm, eagerness and self-offering
In the inner world are tremendous
Is known as Utsāhi,
To please the Lord Supreme in His own Way.
I am very proud of you, Utsahi.
Dec 2nd 1997
And there were two more birds at the bottom, flying in the sky of eternity. At this point, I was a bird as well, flying with delight...
When I started on this spiritual journey, I was extremely shy and withdrawn, and felt unworthy of our Guru’s compassion. Also, from a tender age, I had been damaged by life experiences that left me deeply hurt and bearing a profound sadness. There was no way that I could consider myself worthy of God’s Grace. In addition, when I joined Guru’s path, language was also a problem: I could not express myself well in English.
But, over time, I realized that Guru cared for me – and for everyone around me as well – with great love, concern, and gratitude for all we did, no matter what our language barriers or other handicaps or past experiences. He looked at our hearts and not at our limitations! My growing realization of this fact eventually transformed the way I looked at myself. Depreciating myself and focusing on my bad qualities was not fair to anyone, including him, myself, and the Supreme. Thus, I gradually realized that the negative approach was the opposite of my soul’s inner cry and of my mission in life which, after I received my name, could be summarized by one word: enthusiasm. My journey’s goal became much simpler, yet very challenging: to manifest enthusiasm in my everyday life!
From now on, my purpose in life, the mission of my soul’s incarnation was clear: to be enthusiastic, to have enthusiasm. A simple life... Guru looked at my soul... He saw what I was here for... He offered it to me, and now it is my honor and duty to manifest enthusiasm...
Gratitude, Guru, for this unforgettable moment, gratitude for having awakened my dormant soul, gratitude, infinite gratitude... Some time later, at his house, I offered Guru one of his own talks, entitled “Gratitude". I printed it in the shape of a heart.
To become a flower in every part of
Your being: body, vital, mind and heart.
Everything in Your being will exist only as a flower.
There are 86,000 subtle nerves inside you, but there
Will not remain anything else except a flower.
You as an individual will become only a flower
To be placed at the Feet of the Supreme.
This flower is completely open;
All the petals are blossomed.
This is gratitude....
Inside the physical body there are thousands of nerves
And inside the subtle body there are thousands
Of subtle nerves.
When everything disappears, when you exist only
As a most beautiful flower and you feel that you
Are ready to be placed at the Feet of the Supreme:
That is gratitude.
But it may take hours,
Days, months, years or many incarnations
To come to that stage.
For one second of gratitude,
The preparation may take quite a few years.
So when I say
That gratitude is the most difficult thing
And the most important thing,
Please remember that I am referring
To this kind of gratitude.
When everything of yours has gone away,
When everything of yours has melted
And there only remains one flower,
When you remain only as a flower
Ready for worship,
And you have placed yourself
At the Feet of the Supreme:
That is gratitude.
Sri Chinmoy 3
- 1. Sri Chinmoy, New Year's Messages from Sri Chinmoy, 1966-1994, Agni Press, 1994
- 2. I still did not know what IT was...
- 3. Flame-Waves, Part 12, New York : Agni Press, 1978, pp. 8-9