by Manoshri Sykorova
At a young age, a question kept going through my mind: Does God exist or not? Somewhere deep inside I knew there was something more to life than just what I had been experiencing till then, but if someone had asked me if I believed in God, I wouldn’t have known the answer. There just wasn’t any proof of His Existence.
My grandmother is a devoted Catholic, and according to her wishes, my sister and I attended church every Sunday. It was usually crowded, with people standing all the way to the entrance and even outside. The 'no air' situation in the church made me almost faint one day. My sister Gautami, who is also a student of Sri Chinmoy, caught me just at the moment when I was about to collapse on the person in front of me. At times, when we actually got to sit down, the sermon was so utterly boring that I used to do my school homework instead of listening.
One weekend we went to a church at our grandma’s village. Apparently an old priest who gives sermons there gets very emotional and starts crying when he reads out from the Bible. This time he didn’t, but as he was giving the host to my sister (his hand wasn’t working properly as a result of his health problems, which we didn’t know about), my sister bit his finger by mistake. We went to our seats and as my sister whispered to me what had just happened, we started to giggle. The old ladies around us gave us dirty looks and this made us laugh even more uncontrollably. As hard as we tried, we just couldn’t stop. Being in a small village we thought the neighbours would complain to our grandmother afterwards, but we never heard a single word, so they must have forgiven us, knowing that we were just children.
Our mother became interested in meditation in 1992, three years after the Berlin wall came down. New spiritual groups were then just being introduced into our country, as practising spirituality had been forbidden beforehand under Communist rule. It was at this time that we had quite a serious car accident. While we were driving on a busy Austrian highway, we were hit from behind by another car going 100 km faster than ours. We spun a few times across the highway. Our car was completely destroyed; we couldn’t use it again. The amazing thing was that hardly anything happened to us. Also there was such a strong feeling of peace and protection inside that the whole experience wasn’t scary at all. It was the first time in my life that I had become consciously aware of something higher. I knew that whatever I had experienced wasn’t of this world.
My mother started to attend meditation classes given by Guru’s disciples a year later. She seemed to be glowing with happiness and of course wanted me and my sister to join as well. We were not too interested, but we did like all of Guru’s pictures she had in her room and were quite curious about Sri Chinmoy's transcendental picture, as we had never seen anything like it before.
One day the Centre in our city had organised a big workshop. At first we did not want to go, but then we decided we would. If the workshop was boring, as we expected it to be, we would leave during the intermission. To my great surprise, the talk was really inspiring. I had never heard anyone talking so beautifully about God. It felt as if a whole new dimension had opened up before me, a life that I had always been seeking. At that moment, I knew I wanted to become Sri Chinmoy's student.