RE: Recollections on Sri Chinmoy: How one seeker came to the spiritual life
what a story - thanks for sharing so much and keeping writing! - Vasanti
--- In email@example.com, <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:One of my long-time friends from England told me this interesting
story about how he came to the spiritual path. I will call him Bob.
In the mid-nineties, Bob traveled to Nepal and India for sight seeing. He told me that he was interested in music and adventure, and wasn't very intereted in meditation. He went to Pushkar, in Rajasthan, famous as a pilgrimage site. He struck up a conversation with some elderly men who invited him to participate in a puja (religious ceremony). Before the puja, one of the men told him that he actually leads a very bad life, but feels that to cleanse himself from sin, he just has to participate in pujas and go on pilgrimages. Bob felt that his religious reasoning was a little flawed but didn't say anything.
During the puja, the old men taught Bob some sacred mantras, from the Indian scriptures, and they repeated the holy words for a couple of hours. After the ceremony was over, one of the holy men asked Bob to give him one hundred dollars. Bob was surprised because he hadn't thought that money should be part of a religious ceremony at all. But the man was adamant. Bob should give him a hundred dollars, he said, because, one of the "mantras" they taught him included an oath that he would give them money!
Very reluctantly, Bob handed over the money and left the temple (actually I think just someone's living room) in disgust.
If this is what Indian spirituality is all about, then I want no part of it, he thought.
Pushkar is located in a valley. On one of the adjoining mountains is a pure white Shiva temple. Bob climbed up to the temple in a despondent mood. The abandoned temple was very simple and soulful, but it didn't move him much. Then, he walked a little way past the temple, and came to a little Shiva lingam just at the rim of the mountain. He stared at the lingam for a few minutes, and had an experience of vastness; he felt he was coming out of his body.
He was struck at that moment by the deep spirituality of India, in all its pristine simplicity, embodied by this small lingam near an abandoned temple, and the stark contrast with the religious rogues in Pushkar who exploited this ancient tradition for their own convenience.
He felt at that moment that he must learn to meditate from a real Guru, and that he would find one back in England, not in India.
When he returned to England, he saw an advertisement for a meditation workshop in Bristol. He knew from the simplicity and purity of Sri Chinmoy's teachings that he had found a real path and a real Master.
I find it ironic that people often have to travel halfway around the world only to find that spirituality can be practised wherever we are. But maybe the effort of looking for a teacher, for spiritual truth itself, is really valuable. I know how hard I searched for a spiritual teacher. The years of introspection and self-searching made my finally finding a real teacher like Sri Chinmoy all the more rewarding.