Now you are in the boat
by Kaushalya Casey
In 1971, in the Cover to Cover bookshop on Mountain St. in Montreal, I picked up a copy of Meditations: Food for the Soul and started reading. To my extreme surprise, the words were almost jumping off the pages! Such beauty, truth and immediacy! I had never had such an experience before, although I had read quite a few spiritual books. Having no cash with me, I asked the clerk if I could copy out a few aphorisms. Forty years later, I still have them somewhere in a notebook.
It did not occur to me that I could seek out this profoundly moving author – the transcendental photograph of Sri Chinmoy on the cover seemed to suggest an ancient Chinese Buddha, and I no doubt needed time to move away from a few bad habits acquired in the sixties, along with the rest of my generation.
A year later, I had done just that, and was now living in Vancouver. I saw a poster for the Aum Centre, as the Sri Chinmoy Centre was then called. That same 'Chinese Buddha' was on the flier, and I visited the Centre. Immediately I felt a strong presence in that house, as though I would surely meet a long-lost, familiar and loving friend around any corner. It was palpable. I put a smiling picture of Guru on my wall, and I would wake up at three in the morning to see it smiling powerfully in my direction.
When I wrote requesting to join the path, I told Guru - Sri Chinmoy - that I felt he had already accepted me. The compassion emanating from Guru's photos and the few books then available had stolen my heart. I am forever grateful that no weighty decision-making mental process was needed.
A few months later the Vancouver Centre received a LP recording of Guru reciting poems from his book My Flute. Again the power of Guru’s words filled the air. It seemed that we were hearing the actual voice of the universe. The depth and resonance of Guru’s words created a brand new experience for my poetic world. My Flute was like Heaven revealing itself, moment to moment, poem by poem.
In December 1972, I went to New York for the first time and my first meditation was at Sarama’s house. A blessed feeling of relief and lightness came over me: A being of such love and beauty truly existed with us here on earth! We were invited to Guru’s house, and even had the opportunity to ask questions and enjoy some inspiring conversations. Without even planning on saying anything, I suddenly said to Guru that I sometimes felt I was too weak for the spiritual life.
Guru replied - I cannot quote exactly - "Who tells you that? It is all your imagination. You have a good aspiring soul and you will do well on our path. Now you are in the boat. Just don’t jump out of the boat or you will be devoured by ignorance-sea."
I have often been thankful for those words, and I hope they give encouragement to some seeker weathering the occasional stormy elements.