The goal to be happy

by Sahatvam Selbach
Heidelberg, Germany

Sahatvam running as part of the Peace Run, Turkey, 2007

I think we all have – in a more or less conscious way – the goal to be happy. Admittedly, happiness might mean something different to each of us if we have to define it. That is alright, since we are individuals. On the road to our own personal happiness, we walk along completely different paths that can be rather adventurous, surprising and wondrous, and add excitement and diversity to our lives. Often, these paths have several tracks that we can walk on simultaneously.

In my school years, fom 11th grade on, I started developing an interest in spirituality. Since I was raised as a Catholic, I was looking for contacts in the Christian world. With the nice chaplain of our parish, we formed a small group that organized services, lectures, spiritual group travels and more. The mystic aspect and the message put into practice always inspired me most. During my studies I kept loose contact with this group, but slowly my studies became more and more important in my life. At an international meeting in Germany, I met my future wife. She was studying architecture in Ankara, Turkey, at the time. Two years later, she finished her studies, moved to Germany and we got married.

A 'fresh breeze' from a very different culture came into my life. Both of us needed a lot of tolerance and great openness. This was important for me and helped me later to accept things that would have been inconceivable then. I was still deeply rooted in my Christian world, whereas my wife was more progressive. She showed vivid interest in other religions, in healthy nutrition and many esoteric topics, and slowly I started to also be interested. We went to lectures by different groups and read extensively about reincarnation, spiritual Masters and other topics. My main interest was somewhere else though.

In the early 1980s, my life was mainly focussed on the question of how to find a job after passing my exam for the teaching profession. It turned out to be extremely difficult, since there were not enough vacancies either in public or in private schools. Only part-time jobs were available, but I couldn’t imagine myself doing that for a long time. I started to despair. All the doors seemed shut, and nothing was moving on my ’main track’.

One day, I saw a poster in the city advertising a lecture series on meditation. I said to my wife: “Wouldn’t that be something for you?“ We ended up going together to this lecture, given by a young woman from the Heidelberg Sri Chinmoy Centre. She had simplicity and clarity, and was not imposing anything at all. We went on two evenings, but the third class fell on the same date as a lecture given by someone we had known for a long time. Thus we lost contact with the Sri Chinmoy Centre.

And now the marvellous part of the story starts.

In October 1983, we visited the Frankfurt Book Fair to try to find the booth of the lecturer for whose talk we had dropped the Sri Chinmoy Centre classes. The fair was big, but we had plenty of time. Well, we did not find the booth we were looking for, but we discovered another one – the Sri Chinmoy Centre booth.

We were surprised of course. What a coincidence! A conversation ensued – with the same young woman whose meditation classes we had attended. We felt a bit embarrassed because we had stopped going, but since we had planned to buy some spiritual books anyway, we bought a brochure about Sri Chinmoy’s path along with a recording of his flute music.
 “Thank you,“ “All the best,“ “Good-bye.“

Several months passed. During the day I applied at schools; at night I worked as a porter in a hotel. In addition, we went to different spiritual groups. We liked Sri Chinmoy’s flute music a lot. The brochure was very interesting and contained excerpts from Sri Chinmoy’s writings. Many things I read made a deep impression on me. I felt depth and unconditional surrender that I had never found elsewhere.

The spiritual longing of my early years was directed towards the richness and authenticity of living spirituality, manifested in the form of a living spiritual Master. From the brochure, we cut out and framed a photo of Sri Chinmoy in a very high consciousness. Thus he slowly became a member of our family. From time to time we listened to his flute music.

Nevertheless, we were still looking for the one and only, the right path – the path to happiness. What did happiness mean to me back then? I needed a job. Not just any job but the one I had passed two federal exams for – quite an investment! And I was looking for someone whom I could entrust with my life, my dreams and my goals. Someone who might know better what is good for me. High expectations! I read about creative imagination and more about different Masters. I was looking for a breakthrough. I wanted my life to be in the hands of someone who would be able to show me the right path and to guide me.

Very slowly I became more and more convinced that Sri Chinmoy could be that person. Again and again I read from his writings. The simplicity and depth of his words impressed me. I felt that he radiated the sincerity of living spirituality. During these months we had no contact with the Heidelberg Sri Chinmoy Centre – only with other groups. Nevertheless, something had grown in silence within me – something that was stronger than everything else.

In January 1984 I called the contact number in the brochure and asked how I could become Sri Chinmoy’s disciple. Back then it was the custom to write a personal letter to Sri Chinmoy, which I did on my birthday. I still have a copy of that letter. The letter described my personal situation, my inner and outer needs and why I wanted to join this path. I anxiously waited for several weeks, since Sri Chinmoy was away on travel and did not receive my letter right away.

Finally, on February 21st, a disciple of Sri Chinmoy called me to confirm that my wife and I had been accepted. Great joy and high expectations. Many questions about what to do next. Life went on – often different from what I had expected – but always for my best, for my happiness. And that was exactly what I had hoped for.

Cross-posted from