Where is the light coming from?

I first came to know about Sri Chinmoy through a meditation workshop I took in France. As a newcomer, I did not know anything about meditation, but I had quite a nice and powerful experience during the first session.

On this unforgettable Sunday morning, as we were all meditating in silence with closed eyes, I inwardly saw a streak of light coming from my right side. I had never meditated before, at least not consciously, and I was not expecting anything in particular. But this experience puzzled me.

At the end of the meditation I looked to my right, searching for something that could have been the cause of this light. I saw nothing except a picture frame placed on the floor and leaning against the wall with its back to us. During the intermission, I decided to go and look at this frame from which the light seemed to have come. As I turned it around, I was surprised to discover the picture of an extraordinary face.

I did not know what it meant, but I felt that the light I saw during my meditation had emanated from it. At the end of the session, I could not help telling this story to the leader of the class. To my amazement, she said that it was a photograph of her spiritual Master Sri Chinmoy in what she called his transcendental consciousness ⎯ streaming light even from the back of the frame!

Light, more light, abundant light,
Infinite light
We need every day
To illumine our ignorance-sufferings.

Sri Chinmoy 1

All I needed was the Supreme, and I would always win

For three years, starting in 1977, some 200 New York area students of Sri Chinmoy trained as a group for the Pepsi 24-Hour Bicycle Marathon in Central Park, as he encouraged us to challenge our limitations and thus discover our deeper capacities.

Starting a month before the race, which was held on Memorial Day Weekend, Sri Chinmoy would lead us on daily training rides in Flushing Meadow Park. The Pepsi Bike Marathon drew thousands of amateur participants, but also a core group of professional riders who competed seriously for the prizes. None of our team members had experience in racing, though a few of us did cycle regularly and take road trips. The first year we entered as a team was a bit of an experiment, though I think we won a prize or two for the size of our team and for our uniforms. But the second year, 1978, we trained more seriously, and I felt that Sri Chinmoy was determined to show us the limits of what was possible.

A week before the race, Sri Chinmoy chose who would be on the two small teams that would compete for the team prizes. I felt honoured that I was the only woman on the first-string team of ten, but I was quite alarmed when Sri Chinmoy solemnly called us up in front of the whole group and told us he envisioned each of us doing 300 miles in 24 hours!

Don't expect

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.

Sri Chinmoy 1

That was Guru's answer to my problems that day.

I did my job

A bad fall, a broken ankle, a cast on my leg, a sudden sharp pain in my chest . . . events cascading with increasing speed left me unable to breathe, as each time I tried to take a breath my chest muscles snapped back from the pain.

I was staying with my parents in my family’s home while recuperating from my fall. Now here it was, 5:30 a.m., and I was in agony from the pain in my chest. I knew enough from nursing school to suspect the worst: a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in my lungs. Unable to take more than the shallowest of breaths, I could not call for help. So I had to use my cell phone to wake my father in the next room.

The look on his face when he entered my room confirmed my worst fears⎯a blood clot had formed in the leg under the cast and had now entered my lungs. My father the surgeon quickly called 911, then in his best professor-of-medicine style, explained that I was at immediate risk of a stroke (if the clot traveled to my brain) or a heart attack (if it went to my heart). Thanks, Dad!

While Dad went to greet the ambulance, I called Ashrita in New York, who fortunately answered despite the early hour. I later learned that he had immediately called our restaurant Annam Brahma, as the workers there would have had the quickest access to Guru at that time.

I ended up spending a week in the hospital on life-saving drugs⎯but I know it was really Guru who saved my life. A few hours later I would have been on the train back to Boston, and if the clot had showed up then, I would have been unable to call for help, explain my predicament, or ask Amtrak to arrange for an ambulance at the next station. Plus, the stops between Delaware and Boston can be almost an hour apart⎯I might not have survived until I got to a hospital.

A few weeks later, arriving in New York for August Celebrations, I ran into Dipali, who looked like she was seeing a ghost, she was so startled to see me alive. She told me the “inside story”: Guru had told the restaurant staff at Annam Brahma that my soul was leaving the body and he had to bring it back.

“I did my job,” Guru told them.

'You two have been friends for many hundreds of years'

Video

It was interesting. With meditation, sometimes your soul's memory of the past would give you little glimpses into forgotten times. One example of that: Many years ago I had a friend who lived far away, but every time I saw him, once a year, sometimes twice a year, I always had this feeling ‘I know you from somewhere’. My mind had no idea where or when. But the feeling of recognition was very strong in my heart.

One year on my friend’s birthday, Guru called him down and was meditating upon him. Then Guru looked across at me and he said, “You two have been friends for many hundreds of years.” It confirmed what my heart or my soul had told me: This person is someone I knew from another life from another time.

Today
My heart is blessed with a new friend:
God's Compassion-Eye;
My mind is blessed with a new friend:
God's Forgiveness-Heart;
And my life is blessed with a new friend:
God's Wisdom-Whisper.

Sri Chinmoy 1

  • 1. Today, December 6, Agni Press, 1996

What should I do for work?

Video

When I was going to graduate from high school, I was approximately 16 or 17 years old. I had just come to the Centre, and I asked Guru what I should do when I finished high school. After he asked me a few questions about the things that I enjoy doing—which at the time was just art and writing—he encouraged me to study journalism because he felt that it would be very useful to his mission if someone could write for the media.

And so that's what I did. I studied journalism and public relations. I was hired by the university when I graduated. I worked for about eight years in that field, doing photography and journalism within a university.

The Aum Press in the Puerto Rico Sri Chinmoy Centre published many of Sri Chinmoy's books in the early 1970's

Of course that was a long time ago, and since then over the years, I have done various things. I worked in the printing industry because in the Puerto Rico Centre we used to print Guru’s books. It was from years of printing Guru's writings that I learned all about that world of printing presses. Eventually I was able to also work in the outside world in that kind of thing.

I must say that we were so fortunate to be able to have Guru physically there to tell us and guide us outwardly as well as inwardly of what we should be doing in our life. That's a supreme blessing.

Our mountain-climbing adventures begin...

Aconcagua is the highest mountain in South America

My Channel swim was in 1988, and then in 1989 we went to a mountain in Argentina called Aconcagua, which is one of the biggest mountains outside of the Himalayas. That started 18 years of high-altitude climbing. For 18 years, I went mountaineering on different places around the world: Alaska, Bolivia, Peru, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal and Tibet.

Basically, we worked our way up to climbing bigger and bigger mountains. We would always send a message to Guru through Ashrita about what we wanted to do to find out whether Guru would stand behind it, whether Guru thought it was a good idea or not.

Video

Guru had a system of response that went from “Very good, very good”—that was a good one—to “Let him or let them.” If Guru said that… then that was Guru’s worst response. Guru probably didn't want to tell us too directly and “uninspire” us, but if Guru said “Let him,” that would mean that we would pretty much be on our own. That's how we took it anyway.

My first meditation in the Sri Chinmoy Centre

Video

I was kind of a shy boy, young boy, in those days. It took me maybe a few weeks to get enough courage to go ahead and decide to go to the Sri Chinmoy Centre in Puerto Rico. I'll never forget when it happened. It was my birthday, and I was sitting at the dinner table with my family. I was living with my parents at the time. I was still in high school. I was sitting there having my meal, and from deep inside of me came this affirmation, out of the blue: “I am going to the Centre this week.”

So, I went. The first time I went to meditation, it was Wednesday evening. It was on the second floor in a small apartment, in a very humble area in Puerto Rico. There were between 20 and 30 people in this small meditation apartment.

Now, Guru was not physically there, but when I went in, I was clutching one of those yoga books. It was like my security blanket. I remember we waited in a separate room while they were preparing the meditation room. I was asking one of the older disciples—his name is Ananta and he passed away some years ago—if he thought it was good. He said, “Oh, yes, it’s very good.” They were very sweet. There was a vibration, an atmosphere there that was extremely powerful but also very peaceful. My heart was pounding with excitement.

So, the time came, and they called us into the meditation room, a very small room. In those days they would turn off all the lights and there would just be candles, with the candles on Guru’s chair in the front where Guru would sit when he visited, and candles and different shrines around. So, we were inside this real temple, there was a very sacred, very mystical, very, very inspiring feeling.

With Guru on my birthday

Video

I had some other experiences with Guru—twice for my birthday. Guru used to celebrate birthdays, mainly for the close disciples, the inner circle of people very close to him—usually not for people like me. I was not well known on the path.

The first time was during the New York City Marathon. Guru was friends with Fred Lebow, one of the founders of the New York City Marathon. We ran this marathon until the year 2000. Disciples used to meet in New York in November for this race. This is also the time of my birthday. I was born on the 6th of November.

There was a kind of celebration at this time and Guru was teaching some songs in the morning. I was seated in the benches beside another French disciple. Guru called the good singers to go down to start learning the songs. I am a good singer, but when Guru teaches songs, you have to write down the words, and sometimes it is difficult to catch the words and then to memorise them. I didn't want to go down. I hesitated to go down and stayed in my seat. But my friend beside me said, "No, no, it is your birthday today. You have to go down. You have to go down and at least participate."

Guru performs on the world's largest organ

Guru always wanted to play at the Sydney Opera House. For Guru, there was something very magical about that building. Guru liked the building very, very much. Guru said whenever he hears the name Sydney, he thinks of the Opera House. We knew that Guru would love to play the organ, so we got permission somehow, I don't know how. It was a miracle that we got permission for Guru to play the organ.

There were about maybe one hundred disciples. It was not for the public. It was only for some disciples. Also, it was being recorded by the national radio. The gentleman who would show Guru the organ was a very famous organ player himself. It was arranged that he would also interview Guru for the radio program. Guru was very excited about playing this organ. It is the largest mechanical action organ in the world. It has ten thousand pipes.

There were many forces coming together. There was the building itself that Guru loved so much, then there was the organ, which was so special, and the occasion. Guru flew especially to Sydney from Melbourne just to play this organ.

Pages