When I graduated from Wesleyan University in the summer of 1971, my dad asked me what I wanted for a graduation gift, and I told him that I wanted to hitchhike around the world. He agreed and gave me a $1,500 bank certificate. I flew to Ireland in September and started my journey through Europe, to Israel, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Malaga, Singapore and Australia – and finally I was en route from Sydney to the Panama Canal. For two years I had travelled, experiencing the oneness-heart of the world. Those people who had much less wealth than I did, had taken me into their hearts and homes and forever changed me. I will always have real gratitude to everyone who helped and loved me.
Anyway, I left Sydney Harbour on a Russian passenger ship bound for Southampton, England. My plan was to get off at Panama and hitchhike up through Central America back to the United States and finally to my home in Connecticut.
One night aboard the ship, I went into the chess room and saw a young man playing chess alone. I asked him if I could play with him and he said „Yes“. We got to talking, and it turned out that he had a Guru in Thailand, who had instructed him to return to England to find another Guru who could take him further on his spiritual journey. He told me that the goal of life was self-realisation and that you achieve it by meditating.
I had meditated maybe twice before, but this time all his words made perfect sense. It was 2 o’clock in the morning when we finished talking, and I decided to start meditating on a small upper deck of the ship. I went to the deck and no one was there. All I really knew about meditating was that you sat cross legged. As I began to sit down, the physical world around me disappeared and the Supreme came and embraced me like a mother who had found her lost child after millennia of searching. I cried and cried with gratitude-tears. It is impossible to express how much love there was in the Supreme’s embrace, but I can only say that it lasted for about two hours and I was not aware of my external surroundings. I was only crying in gratitude. I promised the Supreme that I would always offer my gratitude-tears to Him, if He allowed me. And He promised that He would always protect me. I pray that I will fulfil my promise. I know the Supreme will keep His promise.
Needless to say, I changed a lot after this experience. I became a vegetarian. I didn’t talk for one month. I cut my hair short. I stopped taking drugs and alcohol. And I meditated every day.
I jumped ship at the Panama Canal, as I had planned, and hitchhiked up through Central America back to my home in Connecticut. One day I was reading our local newspaper, where I saw an article about the spiritual groups in our town. The only one that I was not familiar with was the Sri Chinmoy Centre in Norwalk, Connecticut. I decided to go on the first Saturday to Akuti’s meeting for seekers. I bought and read Madhuri’s book about Guru and learned that Guru was a God-realised Master.
I wanted to make sure that Guru was the same as my experience on the boat, so I asked Guru inwardly to show me. One day, I was all alone reading Guru’s poetry book The Dance of Life, when suddenly one poem triggered the same experience. Again I cried and cried and cried. Guru is the same as my sweetest embrace on the boat and a trillion times more.
That day (the experience that took place on the boat) was February 27th. After I became a disciple, I was at Guru's house, and Guru was celebrating another disciple's birthday on February 27th. Suddenly Guru said to me, "So is today not your birthday also?" It suddenly clicked, and I realised that this was the same day of the year that I had that experience on the ship, and that Guru was reminding me of my real birthday.
One night Guru invited Ashrita and me to his house. Usually at around 11:00 or 11:30 p.m. Guru closes up shop and everyone has to go home. But on this particular night Guru didn't ask us to leave. Since Guru wasn't asking us to do anything, we couldn't even figure out why we were at Guru's house.
Guru said he was going downstairs, and that we could watch television. Guru has never since that time said that I could just watch television. We turned the television on and started switching the channels. For our taste, the best programme was Cool Hand Luke, starring Paul Newman. We were in ecstasy watching Cool Hand Luke at Guru's house. Every now and then, Guru would come upstairs and sit down and casually look at the television for a while, but he really was not interested in it.
The show was over at around 3 or 4 a.m., and still Guru didn't tell us to go home. There wasn't very much on at that hour, but Guru didn't say not to watch, so we kept looking at different shows. Finally, at 5 a.m., Guru was sitting in his chair looking at the television when we turned it to Channel 5. There was Guru playing the esraj and offering a message on Channel 5!
Guru was very happy to see himself, and we were very happy to see him. Guru asked us who was responsible for his being on television and we told him. Then Guru called the disciple who had arranged it, and offered all his blessings to that disciple. After that, Guru told us to go home and get some sleep.
One day I was having a really difficult time. It had something to do with some other disciples. When I was driving Guru somewhere, I told him about the problem. Guru just pointed to my dashboard, which had his New Year's Message taped on it:
"Don't expect, don't expect.
Just give, give and give
If you want to really survive."
That was Guru's answer to my problems that day.
(this story told by Mahiruha Klein)
Guru had perhaps a half dozen people who used to take him on daily drives around Queens. On those drives, Guru would usually meditate in silence. Sometimes he would do japa (soulful chanting). Databir drove Guru frequently, and he told me about a special experience he had with Guru in the late seventies:
One morning, Databir drove Guru by the Thomas Edison soccer field, where our annual Sports Day is held. There, they saw perhaps fifteen or twenty female students of Sri Chinmoy playing softball. Databir told me that the women weren't aware of Guru's presence, so they weren't in a particularly soulful or "spiritual" consciousness. They were just playing softball, badly and unprofessionally, and laughing and having fun. Databir and Guru watched them playing for a few minutes. Then Guru turned to Databir and said, "They will never know how many diseases this prevents."