Recollections: My first and last public meditations with the Master
I remember the first public meditation I attended with the Master. It was a cold night in December, 1996. I just remember Guru sitting on the stage at PS 86, his hands folded in front of his chest, an expression of the most remarkable childlike joy on his face. He was clearly in another world altogether. And he brought down ethereal light and joy and peace from some other world, in infinite measure. It was one of those experiences that I will not forget. I felt afterwards he had given me a brand new heart, clean and pure as a lotus flower.
I also remember the last public meditation with the Master, at Aspiration-Ground, on 5 October 2013. I had often struggled with the public meditations; they were so intense. I felt Guru’s aura and vibration so powerfully those evenings that I often had to sit in the very back to avoid getting tension headaches. But, often I would still get headaches no matter where I sat. So, I would sometimes just meditate outside the gate, and sit with the guards. This went on for a long time.
Guru actually addressed why people get headaches at his public meditations:
[From “The Mind and the Heart In Meditation” by Sri Chinmoy]
Question: I find public meditations very hard for me. I come in feeling beautiful. Then I feel all this pain coming into my heart and into my head. Am I being attacked? What do you suggest?
Sri Chinmoy: It is not others' impurity or any other negative force that is entering into you. No. Your difficulty is that when you sit in front, you try to pull far beyond your capacity. When I am on stage, the whole stage is flooded with light. When you sit in front of me and look at me, you try to pull. It is as if you are in a shop and you see all sorts of most beautiful things. Like a greedy fellow you want to buy everything, yet you have in your pocket only five cents. When you try to pull beyond the capacity of your receptivity, at that time you get head pain.
But that Friday night I decided to try something new. Guru always advised us not to eat a heavy meal before meditation, because that can make our subtle nerves very heavy and then we won’t receive anything. That night I wanted to meditate inside the court with my Master. Since I didn’t want to get a terrible headache, I thought the best thing would be to just eat a lavish meal at Annam Brahma. That way, by stuffing myself, I could block some of that intense light from entering into me, and then I wouldn’t get a headache.
When I entered the restaurant, I thought about how I used to commute to New York every Friday, during my college days, from Trenton. It was a three hour train ride and I would read Guru’s books the whole way. My friends in college were flabbergasted. “Why are you going to Queens every week?” My usual answer was that if Trenton had another Sri Chinmoy I would stay in Trenton. Not too likely.
Anyway, that night I had a big carrot juice, a double cheese ‘burger’ with fries and a side of pappadam, topped off with a healthy slice of Annam Brahma’s unbeatable carrot cake. I could barely move afterwards.
But it worked! I didn’t suffer from the incredible, concentrated light that Guru brought down. I could meditate peacefully. Guru wore a pure white dhoti. He looked so beautiful! And the light he brought down was absolutely celestial. I really felt I was in heaven surrounded by heavenly beings. I could just feel the immanence of a totally different plane of consciousness. At the end, Guru looked around the amphitheater, smiling to himself. He just looked like a little kid, looking this way and that. He seemed really happy.
I did not keep a diary in those days. But I did jot down one thought about that evening. I don’t have to consult my notebook because I remember what I wrote:
“Guru meditated…only gratitude remains.”
A thousand, thousand thanks to you, Guru!