- Recently, aged 90, a very dear London disciple passed away - Sushumna Mary Plumbly. Last weekend, I was at the London centre, and it was very nice to hear so many members of the British centres recall so many fond memories and inspiring anecdotes.
I never got the opportunity to know Sushumna too well, but as a young disciple I often enjoyed hearing Sushumana recount stories from the early 1970s - when Sri Chinmoy often stayed with Sushumna during his university lecture tours around Britain. It was joyful to hear these stories about Guru visiting England - even if it was as seemingly mundane as Guru accompanying Sushumna to the launderette! If some stories got repeated more than once, it didn't matter. These early years with Guru were precious moments, and it is fortunate Sushumna had a good memory and a generous story telling ability.
I was also impressed by this wonderfully, quintessential, English lady, who exuded kindness, cheerfulness and modesty. Her presence, demeanour and good nature was very reassuring to a whole generation of British disciples. For those who may have had concerns about entering a spiritual life, her common sense and good, down to earth nature was very reassuring. Your mind may have had a few doubts about following a spiritual path, but somehow, with Sushumna, it seemed there was nothing that couldn't be solved by a nice cup of tea and a friendly chat.
Sushumna wrote a couple of books about her life and experiences with Guru. They encapsulate both her unassuming humility, but also a deep devotion and real spirituality.
I believe Sushumna came to Guru in the very early 1970s and for many years she was a rock of the London centre, her pioneering presence is appreciated with much gratitude by all those who knew her. Quite a few centre members recalled how Sushumna would often, out of the blue, send through the post some poem or photo of Guru. For new disciples who couldn't always get to New York, this was a wonderful little gift.
To hear how much people valued these small gifts through the post was a reminder that sharing just a small portion of Guru's writings and light can have such a positive effect. This is something Sushumna did throughout her life.
Even when she was in her mid 80s, I remember seeing her in New York, from afar, going to see her beloved Guru. Even though her physical capacity was much diminished, she still took the arduous journey to take every opportunity to be in the physical presence of her Master.
In her book: Things My Guru Taught Me by Sushumna Mary Plumbly she writes about the spiritual meaning of her name, as given by Sri Chinmoy, saying:
'Sushumna relates to the longing to bring Heaven's Light and Love to earth.'
- Thank you for writing that sweet memorial to Sushumna. I did not know she passed away. I have a few very nice early memories of her as well. I will mention one here and then hopefully with a little more time I can write something more for her memory.
The first Birthday Celebrations Week was in August 1972. I had been a disciple for about 4 months and I had just turned 20 years old the month before, in July. It was pretty intense with the new style of life and then this amazing week of activities with people from around the world. There were only a few hundred disciples then, which is nothing compared to now, but still it was a uniquely energizing and sometimes intimidating experience.
Sushumna was one of the 'senior' members and had been a disciple for over a year or two I believe. Back then to get to know a disciple who was on the path for over a year and even two, three or four years was quite thrilling. Sushumna, along with Mukti and other women who were perhaps my mother's age back then were so kind to the younger and newer disciples. Sometimes we would have to give them rides to Connecticut where many of the functions were, including Guru's Birthday, and they would just talk to us like brothers and sisters.
I had never had this kind of experience with the older generation before. Anyone around my mother or father's age were always just older adults who usually just treated us like kids. But Sushumna, who was one of the few British disciples that I had met in those first months, was very sweet and reassuring with a very loving sense of understanding for young disciples.
This I will never forget and inspires me to emulate when I, as an 'elder', mix with younger disciples and try to empathize with them.
- Thank you for that sweet reminder of Sushumna's love and devotion for our Path and her sister and brother disciples. I was wondering if there is a chance that her book "Things My Guru Taught Me" might be reprinted, as I doubt that there are still copies available? I have her second book "Believe in Your Impossible Dreams" and that too is a treasure I can only highly recommend.
Anybody has Sushumna's first book but not her second and would like to "trade for a week", please bring it with you to NY, I will do the same.
- Dear Bigalita and Arpan, I did read both books by Sushumna you mention, Bigalita, and got so much inspiration from them that on one of the latest celebrations I used an opportunity to briefly thank her. Many stories I may have forgotten, but one is still sticking in my mind. It really helped me to change my attitude in certain situations and remain calm and detached.
Unfortunately I gave both books to some older disciples in our centre who don't have the capacity to fly and join celebrations in NY regularly. But I will try to find the first book for you and send it to NY with someone. It should be quite possible to find it.