When I was a new disciple, I sometimes had the thought `if only.' `If only, I'd joined the path earlier.' Why did I have to wait until 1999? If only I could have joined in earlier years, I'm sure I would have had many more wonderful experiences with my Master. When I saw the pictures of Guru meditating from the 1960s and 1970s, I was so inspired and yet, also, the smallest thought came if only I had been there in New York sitting at Guru's feet during those meditations.
The funny thing is that I talked to another disciple who had the same thought, even though he joined in 1979! He thought if only he could have joined in 1969, everything would have been better for him! We laughed after sharing this.
But that is human nature, we always think that if only our circumstances were different, life would be better.
This thought of `if only' popped up every now and then; I didn't really take it too seriously, but it was one of those lurking thoughts not accepted, but not entirely dismissed. The kind of thought we tolerate to pinch us every now and then. Particularly, when things aren't going as smooth as possible in the spiritual life, the mind likes something to blame. I wouldn't be surprised if a few local New York disciples occasionally thought if only I was away from the spiritual intensity of New York and could be a fresh new disciple in a nice English town - then the spiritual life would be much easier! Human nature tends to think the grass is always greener on the other side.
This thought of `if only' was only finally vanquished after Sri Chinmoy's mahasamadhi in 2007. It was after Guru's physical passing that I understood the limitation of relying on a Master's physical presence. Rather than regret not having spent more time with the Master, I was just grateful for those precious years and moments. After Guru's mahasamadhi, you realise, even more so, that physical proximity to the Master was no guarantee or arbiter of your underlying faith and progress in the spiritual life.
When the Master was in the body, I had wasted precious thoughts and time on wanting more missing the joy and opportunities of the present moment. As it happened, seven years with the Master in the physical was the greatest blessing. If only I knew then what I knew now value every moment, and don't waste time wishing circumstances were better.
But, that's another thing you finally learn the spiritual life can never be run on regrets or `if onlys' Of course, when the Master was in the body I missed opportunities and wasted time. Of course, if I could go back in time, I wouldn't have worried about money when there was an opportunity to spend an evening with Sri Chinmoy at a concert in Germany. But, those past `mistakes' don't matter. The past is dust and what matters in the spiritual life is always what we do now.
Here is a poem, from Transcendence-Perfection
DO NOT REGRET
Regret is nothing but a waste;
Therefore, do not regret.
See the light, feel the light, become the light
Of today's dawn
And try not, cry not
To see yesterday's stars, moon and sun.
They are gone.
They should be buried in oblivion-night.
- Sri Chinmoy
The monks of the Sri Ramakrishna order spent a mere five years with their Master. But, those few years were enough to light their spiritual fire. When I see what they did with such limited time with their Master, it is true inspiration.
One of the most inspiring things to happen since Guru's mahasamadhi is to meet seekers who feel the power of Guru's presence even though they never had contact with him in the physical. Even though they came after 2007, they understand and feel the meditative power of Sri Chinmoy's transcendental. If you can tap into that consciousness of peace and light, there is no room to feel any `if onlys' because it can give us more light and satisfaction than we could possibly imagine.
Now, if only, I could avail myself of the opportunity to experience Guru's transcendental consciousness every morning and evening. At least for this, I know there is no time limit, we can take as long or as short as we want.