by Jogyata Dallas
Sitting here in a cold winter sunshine, pondering what to write, I’m inclined to trawl back through memory for a few light-hearted stories of our path. Every day such charming things beguile us, moments and memories that appear then melt away like tiny alpine flowers that bloom on a mountain after rain then as suddenly disappear. So these are a few such flowers, plucked from the faraway places of the mind before they fade – may the rain come and memory gather the tiny blooms.
I first saw Sri Chinmoy at an evening meditation in New York, sometime in early 1981. There was white light all around him and something far away stirred in my memory, a pleasing feeling of recollection and of coming home. I stood afterwards in the school corridor down which he walked on the way to his car and in those few moments I think something quite significant happened. Guru looked at me and smiled very beautifully – his eyes flickered up and down and he was looking at my heart centre. I could feel something happening there, a block removed, a small explosion of feeling. After that I never worried about how to meditate any more – I felt it had all been taken care of, an initiation of some kind, and that meditation was really a gift or an act of grace. I just had to be willing to keep trying and be available.
Our teacher has a great sense of humour. But you would need to when you have oneness with the suffering of the whole world. A tiny example – once during a function we had some delicious ice-cream prasad and we all filed by the tables groaning under the weight of this perennial favourite to help ourselves. Several boxes were left over so Guru called out ‘Greedy people come and have more.’ Nobody moved. So Guru smiled very sweetly and said ‘Alright, willing helpers please come and have more.’ Of course hundreds of ‘willing helpers’ surged forward and in a short time dispatched the remaining icecream. Greedy? – no! Obediently willing? - yes!
On another occasion I presented 800 chocolate- covered marshmallow ‘fish’ from New Zealand, a prasad or ‘blessed food’ item. Guru had one, then another. He liked them. There were 300 left over so I stored them in their boxes under my bed, savoring the prospect of a second popular ‘fish’ prasad. At night I would often reach down and take a chocolate fish as a late night nibble – finally a sense of mounting guilt and declining health resulted in my again presenting the fish for prasad. But this time Guru glanced at the chocolate fish and made a face. ‘Are these fresh?’ he asked. ‘Reasonably fresh,’ I answered evasively. ‘How fresh?’ Guru asked, smiling and unrelenting. ‘They don’t really go stale’ I replied. ‘They are in sealed boxes.’ ‘How fresh are they?’ Guru asked again. ‘Well, I’ve had them for three weeks’ I replied, coming clean. Guru poked them with his foot. ‘Dead fish,’ he said and made a face. It was my first lesson in prasad etiquette.
I’m one of those disciples who never have any ‘spiritual experiences’ – but when others regale me with their amazing true-life experiences, I tell myself consolingly that I just don’t need to. But wait! When I was brand new to the path, for a whole week I saw auras everywhere, white, blue, yellow, gold, green! About that time, too, I remember another experience that was quite something. Guru had completed a large number of paintings one day and was presenting several to a handful of his students, a gift honouring some special service each had provided. My good friend Simahin was one of these and he wandered happily among the many paintings that were there on the carpeted floor – and instantly fell in love with one above all the others. What were the chances of Guru choosing that one for him? Very high, it seems, for when he stood in front of Guru, Guru immediately selected the one Simahin secretly wanted! Simahin brought it back to our adjoining seats and sitting next to him I looked at the painting. Then I was falling into a huge deep blue sky filled with stars, drifting away into the universe. The blue and white splashes of colour were a portal into another universe and I was falling, falling, falling through a tranquil endless blue vastness. I was floating away into a vast inner sky and I never wanted to come back.
When Harshani, our eldest centre member became a disciple in Auckland, she had many experiences. In classes she would come up afterwards and say ‘Who is that beautiful Indian man seated near you on the floor?’ She could clearly see a young Indian yogi figure meditating there – and I would confess that I was not privileged to share this experience, much to her surprise. I asked Guru about this and Guru said ‘Who did you say it was?’ I replied ‘I said it was you, Guru, or one of your emanations or inner beings.’ Guru simply smiled and said ‘Very good!’
Harshani had whole conversations with other subtle beings, and once during an all night run on Mt Eden in Auckland, two conversations with the soul or spirit of the mountain. It came to her as a luminous, clearly visible being. She was so excited and rushed up to tell me. ‘It was a tremendously great spirit, with all colours’ she said. Sometimes when people have a childlike heart, or purity, or have developed a special receptivity they can have these experiences.
Guru often talks about divine protection and over the years I’ve shifted from new disciple disbelief to grizzled veterans full-blown acceptance in my views on this nebulous subject. With reason too. In 1990 I drove headlong into a concrete bridge column at 100kms an hour on the Auckland motorway – dressed in full clown regalia on my way to a kids party – and with no seatbelt on. The wheels fell off, glass covered hectares of highway, the engine ended up in the passenger’s seat. Through a world of flying glass, spinning sky, the sounds of the car tearing itself to pieces, I could feel an irrational calm and a sense almost of God’s arms around me, a clear and tangible feeling. I crawled out of the wreckage, with not a scratch or bruise, so peaceful I could have given a spontaneous meditation class to the arriving medics. My red foam clown hammer lay on the motorway, my box of tricks scattered all over.
Once, alone one evening in our house in Auckland, Subarata saw a very large man with a club trying to get in one of our windows – she yelled at him but then he tried to force a door. She sat at her shrine and prayed intensely for protection. Faith is such a powerful thing! After some time she heard very clearly a voice saying to her, three times, ‘you are protected, you are protected, you are protected.’ Then the intruder went away. She was so excited and thrilled by this experience, all her fear vanished. She was so elated by the voice of her unseen guardian.
In Malaysia I had a rendezvous with a bolt of lightening, a direct hit. Unconscious and stunned, I lay on the wet road, an electrocuted tourist, my eyes closed, a circle of solicitous villagers jabbering away and peering down at me. That year 138 people were killed in this region by lightening strike – but I happily survived. These experiences hint at other forces in our lives where spirit and grace prevail over matter and logic – enough to nudge a skeptical mind along a new course.
Sometime in the early 90’s I sat in a hotel room in Atitlan, Guatemala, feeling incredibly depressed. Playing soccer earlier that morning I was depressed. Eating breakfast – depressed. A mid-morning nap, avoiding everyone – depressed! In our hotel function room I sat up the back, avoiding Guru’s scrutiny and the banter of friends. Guru had a bag of sweets in his lap and was tossing them out, a playful father. Suddenly he stopped, glared at me with a fierce concentration, then began hurling wrapped sweets at me with incredible velocity. I felt a jolt inside and sat bolt upright. The sweets were whizzing by me, a barrage, bouncing off the seating and ricocheting away like hurtling bullets. I couldn’t believe it! Relentless, Guru threw one after another, firing away, a wild fusillade of candies. Then I caught one and Guru stopped. I held it in my hand and started laughing – Guru started laughing too. Suddenly my depression went away. It was quite extraordinary. He had known how I felt and banished this force from my mind in such a remarkable way. After that I felt happy and grateful to be on the trip and didn’t allow depression back to rule my mind.
I’ve told this before, but it’s quite funny. In Australia, I found myself on stage, midway through one of Guru’s concerts, in a small group of disciples each of whom was to recite to the audience an inspiring aphorism. I had memorized mine, but also wrote it down on a small folded piece of paper, placing it reassuringly in my pocket just in case – we all know how tricky the mind can be! When the person next to me began his poem, he suddenly forgot the last lines and had to retrieve a similar prompt from his own pocket. A wave of panic flooded over me and suddenly I had completely forgotten how my poem even began – I could feel the eyes of the audience boring into me. Then I remembered my written copy and I retrieved it, with great relief, from my pocket.
My turn came and I surreptitiously opened up the folded paper, concealed in my palm, smiling all the while at the audience. Glancing down I prepared to read – but there in the palm of my hand was a $20 note!
Later I told Guru what had happened and he asked me ‘What did you do?’ ‘I made up a poem, Guru,’ I replied. ‘You made it up?’ Guru said, ‘It was very nice.’ And he gave me a twinkling smile.
Some years ago the father of one of our Auckland disciples died – ‘passed on’ is a better term, for as Sri Chinmoy mentions, the secret of life is that there is no death. The disciple-son mailed his father’s photograph to Sri Chinmoy, asking his spiritual master to bless the father’s soul and help him on his way. Some weeks later, in a vivid dream our Auckland disciple saw his father playing tennis with Sri Chinmoy, a clear event on another plane of consciousness, so real that he woke in the morning feeling greatly reassured. Sri Chinmoy was surely showing him that he would take care of his absent father (who incidentally loved tennis). That same morning he went out to get his mail – and there among his letters was the photo he had sent to Sri Chinmoy weeks earlier. It had been returned on the morning of the dream, and on the photo Sri Chinmoy had drawn two little tennis racquets.
Auckland - New Zealand
Writings by Members
Function Report - Nov 15th