by Agraha Levine
Here is something that happened when I was a medical student. There was one old man who had a serious breathing disorder. Nothing was helping him. He always looked so ragged and exhausted. One day I said to myself, "All right, just meditate for a moment. Try to go inside, visualise Sri Chinmoy and ask him to advise you. Perhaps an answer will come." After a wonderful refreshment of inner calm and inner peace, I felt I should just listen to the man.
I went and talked to the man and asked him how he was. He said, "My biggest problem is that I cannot sleep at night. I am exhausted!" I taught the man to relax and quiet his mind using a simple breathing technique Sri Chinmoy has taught us...to breathe in peace and breathe out worries and anxieties. The man liked it very much!!!
The next morning the old man was smiling radiantly and came up to me, almost running, "I feel wonderful! I slept for three hours for the first time in months!" I was so happy...The man slowly improved. His breathing disorder became manageable. The respiratory specialists congratulated themselves and I offered gratitude to Sri Chinmoy for his guidance!
My Father's birthplace
by Nayak Polissar
Spiritual life brings the unexpected. Some years ago I mentioned to Jagattarini, who was giving meditation classes in the former Soviet union, that my father was born in Krevoe Ozero, a small village in the Ukraine. Could she go by there some time and see if anyone remembered the Polissar name?
She not only did that, but she offered meditation classes there, and the local government gave an honor to Sri Chinmoy. But she could not find anyone who remembered my father's family. Most of the Jews had been lost during the war, and there was just fragments of memory left, nothing really. Then, after a meditation class that was probably to be her last ever in that village, an elderly woman approached her with something to tell. The long and the short of it was that I had a half-brother—a son by my father and this woman's mother. In all my 35 years with my father before he left earth for heaven, we had never heard a thing about this. My "brother" had also passed on just two years earlier, but his children and relatives, including this woman, still lived in the village.
I was interested to go back and see where my father was born—I shall ever be indebted to him for teaching me how to earn a living and raising our family with my mother for so many years. He was not spiritually inclined, but he was a good person and had a wonderful sense of humor. It was my mother who tended the spiritual fire in us.
Through one reason and another, I did not go there for two or three years waiting, then Sri Chinmoy told my son, Bishwas, to tell me to "go see his ancestors." Evidently the time was right.
Again, to make a long story short, I did go there and met these long- lost relatives—who had had no word from my father or his family since about 1920, after my grandparents and my father and others fled the wrenching tumult of Russia during and after the revolution. It was impossible for them, as Jews, to take a gentile woman with them in their flight, so there was an intention to get somewhere and then send for my father's "wife". It never happened, and I don't know what that story is and blame no one for the woman left behind with my half- brother.
Returning to my father's birthplace was a very emotional experience, and I saw that this woman, who had contacted Jagattarini, was an exceptional individual who had kept the family going under the most difficult circumstances. I continue to keep in touch with her.
Had I not become a student of Sri Chinmoy, this remarkable discovery would never have happened.
by Adhiratha Keefe
I was grateful to find this path over 30 years ago. I was also grateful to Sri Chinmoy's compassion and wisdom when he suggested I take a sabbatical from his outer path after more than 20 years. (He saw I was not happy, but that too is another story.) So I know something about the experience of being outside [or appearing to be). But attacking the one who has given us so much, or the other students who are receiving what the attackers no longer have the capacity to assimilate, is not a good use of precious time.
My choice when I was away from active involvement was to list all the good things that I could still do wholeheartedly. Then I continued to do them as best I could. I thought if I can't do the best, that is no reason not to keep doing the good.
I honored the evenings that I had for years meditated regularly with Sri Chinmoy's students. I also spoke to friends old and new who were not Sri Chinmoy's students about the practices that had assisted me over the years, and my plan to keep doing those good things. I made time to continue a regular exercise programme. I took language classes. I finished some more of my advanced education and received another degree. I made another attempt at swimming the English Channel. It was a good time to do those positive things, while I experienced more of being in the world, and seeing the kinds of choices other people were making. In small ways I was observing my other friends, seeing what gave them joy, as I reconsidered the direction of my life.
I had no need to reject what had assisted me while I was actively involved with Sri Chinmoy and the other students. I just felt inspired to know so many people were still attempting this lofty goal of self-transcendence with a wonderful role model.
Sometimes I would avoid people associated with the Sri Chinmoy Center, especially during the first months of my sabbatical. I had some inner and outer assurance that it was right for me to be away, but I didn't want to take the chance of discouraging anyone who was still following Sri Chinmoy's path. For over twenty years it been good for me to be intensely involved in this community, and I knew how precious it was and how fortunate someone is to discover a community that supports their inner quest. This allows them to make much quicker progress.
Practicing on my own, away from the center, it was sometimes harder to meditate with the same intensity. But my meditation times became more sacred and regular in the sense that I noticed even more graphically how much inner joy and protection I received when I sincerely prayed for and focused on the inner light. I had to work harder to protect those regular times. I could not assume that if I was inspired to meditate at an odd moment, those I was with would understand my desire to just shift focus to a more spiritual approach. While with secular friends or involved in secular activities, I did not have the option to easily drop out for a few minutes or a few hours, in order to pursue spiritual practice.
To make a long story short: After a few years, when it seemed I must have assimilated sufficient additional experience and observations of others' approach to fulfillment, I became more active again with the Sri Chinmoy Center. I am grateful for the inner guidance and protection I received through those times, and the miracle and circumstances that made it possible to again experience this love and oneness more directly.
A chance meeting
by Agragati Siegel
For up to three months, Sri Chinmoy and his students visit specific places around the world, in an effort to raise the awareness of spirituality to people in those countries. We would also receive the spiritual wealth that these countries have to offer; the mutual joy would be given and received in hundreds of faces, through hundreds of smiles. Our group, over the past two and a half decades, have been welcomed around the globe by people of all kinds, from common villagers to well known figures. The slower pace and longer duration of these trips lends itself to a very relaxing atmosphere, and it was for this reason that I decided to travel with the group for three weeks. Additionally, the destinations were ones I had longed to visit: Singapore and Indonesia. This is my first Christmas trip experience, and I am looking forward to it.
From San Diego, a connecting flight in San Francisco took me to Honolulu around mid-day. I observed Pearl Harbor from the air, and as we deplaned, I was greeted by a very warm sea breeze. The open airport walk to the baggage claim said it all: Hawaii's climate is delightful year-round! I am sure that anyone from a cold climate will appreciate the weather enormously.
I ordered a shuttle van after claiming my bag, and two minutes later, I was on my way to an affordable youth hostel. Thirty minutes later, I had checked in. The rooms hold eight people, and as I opened the door to mine, I saw a fellow inside who introduced himself as a raw foodist from Seattle. He had been there for several weeks, and after bidding goodbye, I headed straight for Waikiki beach. My goal was to find a place to snorkel. I was told that Kai Loa was a great place, and I took it upon myself to try and get there. While waiting at the bus stop, I asked a man to confirm my directions. He asked me where I was from, and it turns out we both hail from San Diego! He works in La Mesa, and has been living in Hawaii for one month, waiting for property he bought to close escrow. We took the bus together, which seemed to go on forever. We passed Diamondhead, a famous mountain that offers hikers of the one hour trail an unforgettable view of the surroundings.
As darkness descended around half past five, I caught another bus back to Waikiki and the main avenue along the beach. I walked for about two hours: it was Friday night, and the entire island was out in force! I returned to the youth hostel around 9pm and used their net café. After returning to my room, I again met the fellow from before. He was very friendly, and asked me if I wanted to sit outside and speak with him. I immediately complied, momentarily considering if perhaps he was a spiritual seeker like me. As we sat on the balcony and spoke, I soon noticed his necklace: it had a small icon on it. I asked him what it was, and he replied that it is an image of the Indian deity Ganesha! Then, he opened his outermost shirt to reveal a Ganesha shirt underneath. At this point, the conversation turned completely spiritual. He described how he met a woman in San Francisco who had a shop devoted to Ganesha. When he entered, she told him that Ganesha wanted to be with him, and she put him in a small meditation room in the back of her store. In it was an image of Ganesha, and she told him to stay there. He said that within a short time, he was crying out of sheer spiritual joy, feeling a tremendous amount of love. This was but one in a series of spiritual experiences he had. He explained that he had tried many spiritual paths and understood the concept of a Guru, or spiritual teacher. I told him that I am a student of a Sri Chinmoy. Immediately, his eyes opened wide. "Oh, I know who he is!" he replied.
He continued the conversation. He said that he had actually applied for and been accepted as a student many years ago. This was most surprising to me. He had also seen him in a concert in Seattle, and had visited our vegetarian restaurant, Silence-Heart-Nest. I asked him why he was not a student anymore, and he explained that he loved so many different paths that he could not stay on one for any great length of time. He said he had felt a connection between him and Sri Chinmoy. However, he told me that he had also visited Buddhist temples and met other people who told him different things about his spirituality. This created tremendous confusion in his mind. He had no real spiritual goal, no means of supporting his inner life and a lack of understanding about himself. Unfortunately, he was spiritually weak, and once could see clearly where he had gone: he had taken to alcohol, and seemed to be in a depressed emotional state. He could not decide what to do with his life, and said he was now faced with several pivotal choices to make. While he had many spiritual qualities, they had been overpowered by his mind's doubt and fear.
It was very clear to both of us why I had met him there. After a few minutes, he openly said that the very things I was speaking of he had been told before from others. He talked about a battle within himself between his higher qualities and his lower nature. He understood quite well what I was saying. Yet the core of what I offered was quite simple: start meditating daily if you want to dispel the illusion and doubt of the mind. I also invited him to reacquire his lost spiritual life by choosing a path and sticking to it. This was very difficult to him, as he had never really committed himself to daily discipline. He was not even sure how to do meditation, which left me wondering if he had even truly practiced it before.
I spoke of the analogy Sri Chinmoy uses to describe what happens what when spiritual seekers do not choose a spiritual path. In this example, the ocean represents illusion, ignorance, or the forces that are trying to fight spirituality. The spiritual seeker, without a path, may swim in the ocean for some time, but eventually he will drown. The spiritual teacher is the boatman. He comes with a large boat and invites the seeker to get inside. He carries the passenger through this sea of ignorance to the spiritual destination. If a seeker is on various paths at once, it is like having two boatmen with two boats. One leg is in one boat and another leg is in the other. Of course, the person will eventually lose balance and fall into disillusionment. He liked this story very much, and shook my hand after hearing it.
I felt very compassionate for him, and perhaps a bit sad to see his condition. At the same time, a deep sense of gratitude for my life with Sri Chinmoy overpowered me. I could have easily become a lost person with no spiritual anchoring, had I not accepted the spiritual life. Instead of this, Sri Chinmoy has been inspiring and encouraging me for the last nine years. I have grown in peace and happiness and discovered a greater sense of myself, redefining my internal core being as innately spiritual in nature. These and other discoveries I shared with him as inspiration, and hoped that he too would reclaim his spiritual roots by discovering the source of his sorrow, his disconnection with his own deepest self.
He told me that when we first met earlier that day, he had been asleep, but something prompted him to wake up. That was right before he saw me. He felt as if the meeting was a predestined event. I shared similar feelings as well.
I again reinforced the concept of daily meditation and living a spiritual lifestyle, and then wished him well. It was midnight, and I had set a fixed time of half past four to get up, as I wanted to meditate on the beach and swim in the water one more time before I left. As I closed my eyes, an incredible inspiration came to me: Sri Chinmoy was spiritually responsible for the meeting. He had accepted this young person as a student of his, and although he eventually went another way, he had made a commitment to helping him. I was the instrument to bring to his attention the spiritually deplorable condition he was in. I attributed to these events a simple truth: the universal consciousness does not forget. This new awareness within me I took as a real spiritual experience, an eye- opener into the unfathomable compassion and oneness a spiritual master has with seekers all over the globe. I prayed with tears for the love that God has for His spiritual children everywhere.
At half past four, I was awakened by strangers who had entered the room to speak with him. The conversation was loud and vulgar, and it wasn't long before I hit the beach. It was still dark outside, and I walked and meditated for awhile. The water was still warm, and after a quick dip, I returned to my room.
At 6 o'clock, my friend was still awake. He said he was grateful for our talk and the message that it represented to him. We both knew that our meeting was no coincidence. God, the universal Author, wanted him to again aspire in his spiritual life. I was so happy and grateful to have met him, and I prayed for his soul's victory in his life. I bid him farewell, and caught my ride back to Honolulu International airport.
The inner phone
by Aparajita Fishman
I had spent two wonderful weeks in Myanmar (known to most folks as Burma), visiting Sri Chinmoy's students there. It was truly inspiring and encouraging to see that so many have survived and thrived there for years with very little contact from the rest of the world. It shows the power of faith!
I was due to return home from Bali via Singapore in mid February with the rest of our group, but I had delayed my Singapore-New York flight till March 1st so I could go to Myanmar. When I left for Myanmar, they told me I was wait-listed on the Singapore-New York flight and should check on my status when I came back to Singapore from Myanmar.
I arrived in Singapore, and went to the transfer desk to inquire about my status. The agent said my name was not in the system. "How could that be?" I asked. He said it meant I was still wait-listed. "When is the first seat available?" I asked. He checked and replied that there was nothing available tomorrow either, and I would have to call Singapore Airlines reservations to find the date of the first available seat.
I figured I might have to spend a few days in Singapore, but that would have been okay as I have some good friends among my brother disciples there. I called Singapore Airlines reservations and the conversation went something like this:
"Hi, I'd like to know when a confirmed seat is available on the Singapore-New York flight."
"Wait a moment, I'll check...I'm sorry, but there is nothing available through the entire month of March."
"You must be kidding."
"No, I'm sorry, there are no seats for the entire month."
I was stunned. As usually happens in such situations, the wheels of my mind began to spin frantically, trying to figure out what my options were. None of them seemed very attractive.
"Please hold a minute, I will be right back," the agent said, interrupting my growing alarm.
A few seconds later I stopped the inevitable rush towards full-fledged panic by actually doing the spiritual thing -- I pulled out a picture of Sri Chinmoy, my beloved spiritual Master, and picked up the inner phone any disciple has with his Guru or any devotee has with God.
"Guru," I said inwardly, "I could really use some help here! Any suggestions would be more than welcome!" I then proceeded to meditate as sincerely as possible, hoping for some answer to my dilemna.
A few seconds later the agent came back on the line: "Hello, Sir? You are confirmed on tonight's flight."
I was more stunned than before. "On tonight's flight?"
"Yes, on tonight's flight. Your confirmation code is XXXXXX..."
I could hardly believe my ears. It was such a miracle it took a minute or two for my gratitude to come to the fore. How the agent turned a 30-day wait into a confirmed seat in the space of 30 seconds I will never know. But I do know that something miraculous happened in those 30 seconds. Either the computer records changed or something entered into the mind of someone assigning seats such that I was moved from the waiting list to a confirmed seat.
Either way, it was a miracle, and I firmly believe my inner entreaty to the Supreme in my Master was necessary for the miracle to occur. And even if it had not, I have no doubt that the act of diving into my heart for inner guidance -- rather than getting lost in the maze of confusion in my mind -- would have saved me from my predicament.