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The Potter and the Clay
I was blessed to have quite a bit of private time with Guru on various occasions. One time I approached him having allowed myself to be immersed by a sense of failure. I told him that I was feeling failure all around me.
He said, “It is not like that. You have to think of yourself as the lump of clay that the potter has. When the potter is working on the lump of clay, you cannot say that it is very beautiful. But he is working on it and it becomes something beautiful.”
Another example Guru used was the farmer who works in the field. He spreads fertilizer, and you cannot say that that is very beautiful. But eventually the farmer grows a bumper crop of food. So it was not that I was a failure, Guru explained to me―it was simply that I was not finished yet. I was witnessing myself in the process of being perfected.
Then Guru added, “If all else fails you and none of that works, just remember that you belong to me. You belong to me.”
In the early days often at night, Guru would go to someone’s house and there would be a party, a meal, and Guru would sit around. Everyone would eat and then people would ask Guru questions.
Everyone had Guru’s phone number. If you weren’t feeling well, you could call Guru up and say, “Guru I have a headache, I have a sore throat.” He would bless you, put a force on you. These were very, very different times.
People were often curious about what animal they were in their last animal incarnation. You could just ask Guru, and he would say what you were.
This was one of those meals. Hashi (my wife) and I were there, and Hashi was looking around at all the disciples. There were maybe twenty disciples, and she said to herself, “I know the last incarnation of everybody who is sitting here, but I don’t know mine.” After she thought that, Guru said out loud, “Hashi, what animal were you in your last animal incarnation?”
Hashi said, “Guru, I don’t know.”
Guru said, “It starts with an F.”
Every second with your Master on earth is precious
The Masters speak of the inevitable dry spells along the journey to our self-realization. I experienced one after twelve years on Sri Chinmoy’s path, when I felt flat for a number of weeks. I thought to myself, “I have not made any spiritual progress,” and one day I simply knew I had to go to New York to be with Guru.
I arrived very late, and in my morning meditation the next day, I felt no enthusiasm to be seeing Guru soon. I went to Aspiration-Ground (the tennis court where we met) despite this, where there were only a few dozen disciples waiting for Guru’s arrival. Suddenly, I felt a strong inner push to get my camera from my accommodations―just a small, ordinary camera. I ran as fast as I could so that I could return quickly, saying to myself, “Every second with your Master on earth is precious.” (How quickly things had already changed for me inwardly!)
I made it back before Guru arrived, and when he did, he called for a photographer. This day was one of his tennis anniversaries, celebrating his accomplishments in playing the game.
I looked around and none of the usual photographers seemed to be there, so I went and stood on the far side of the net. He would play a set with one of his tennis court assistants; they would then come to the net, Guru would place his tennis racket on the person’s head in blessing, and I would come close and snap a picture of the moment. Guru had asked for a photographer knowing that for each player, the blessing-photo would be a treasured memento. Somehow I got the inner message to run for my camera even though I was in the depths of a spiritual dry spell!
Some years ago, the father of one of our Auckland disciples died – ‘passed on’ is a better term, for as Guru mentions, the secret of life is that there is no death. The disciple-son mailed his father’s photograph to Guru, asking his spiritual Master to bless the father’s soul and help him on his way.
Some weeks later, in a vivid dream, our Auckland disciple saw his father playing tennis with Guru, a clear event on another plane of consciousness, so real that he woke in the morning feeling greatly reassured. Guru was surely showing him that he would take care of his absent father (who incidentally loved tennis).
That same morning he went out to get his mail – and there among his letters was the photo he had sent to Guru weeks earlier. It had been returned and arrived on the morning of the dream, and on the photo Guru had drawn two little tennis racquets in confirmation.
I do not want to be
A tennis ball,
But I really want my life
To be as perfect
As the surrender
Of a tennis ball.
God has chosen the conditions under which you are living your present life. It is like a play. The stage is set and the curtain has been raised for you to perform your part and advance along the spiritual path. Your present conditions are the best possible ones for your advancement.
I just love this quote, as it puts my life situation into perspective and helps me find gratitude for life, as well as courage and inspiration to move forward and make progress.
Once we were embarking on a campaign of giving meditation classes. To help improve our presentation, we shot a video of a class with the idea we would watch afterwards to see how it could be better.
Sri Chinmoy gives advice on meditation, and demonstrates the heights of meditation in silence
After I managed to overcome my initial discomfort of watching myself, I was fascinated to see the difference between myself pre- and post-meditation. It was dramatic. After meditating, I had so much more poise, more focus, more clarity.
I am inspired to share one story that happened in the last two years, after Sri Chinmoy departed this world, as a way to illustrate that he continues to watch over us all from the higher planes, though we may not always be aware of it.
One day I was driving back from an appointment on Long Island when I hit some traffic on the Grand Central Parkway and decided to get off and take the back roads through Jamaica Estates. I was driving at a moderate speed up a slight hill in this residential neighbourhood.
It was a small two-way street with cars parked on both sides of the street, which in reality left room for only one car to drive at a time – a very common situation in this area of Queens.
As I approached the top of the hill, I saw that a car was speeding up the other side of the hill, not seeing me – it must have been going at least 40 or 50 miles per hour, with its engine roaring. I jammed on my brakes, but there was no room for me to pull over, as there were parked cars on either side of the road next to me. I shouted Supreme (invoking God as Sri Chinmoy urged us to do when in danger) and prayed in that split second before what seemed an inevitable crash and very possibly the end of my life!
In my early years of exploring meditation and the little-known subject of reincarnation, I came across a rather discouraging description of the long passage of time the soul supposedly takes from its very earliest entry into the earth arena until its full blossoming in God-realisation. Imagine, said the words of an old Indian text, a beautiful white bird flying to a large lake once every several thousand years and taking away a single drop of water in its beak. The length of time it takes for the bird to empty the lake is a description – metaphorical of course – of how long it takes for this journey to be concluded, for realisation or self-blossoming to be won.
A rather bleak thought! But encouragingly, it did add the further comment that for those who have a curiosity or an awakening interest in spirituality, the lake is almost empty and the long journey of the soul is not in front of us but already behind us.
One weekend in New York I was invited to a disciple’s birthday party, celebrated in Guru’s customary way—disciples sitting on Guru’s living room floor as paper plates of curry and birthday cake were passed around. It was a typical time for chitchat with Guru. “So, Marion,” Guru said, catching me by surprise (Guru so rarely spoke to me), “when will you open your restaurant?”
I nearly choked on my curry. “Wha - wha - what restaurant, Guru?”
“First choice restaurant, second choice health food store.”
“But I don’t have any money, Guru!”
“Your parents will give you,” Guru reassured me. “Can you have it open by April 13th?”
But that gave me only six weeks to convince my parents, find a location, buy the equipment, and set it up. And I had never even run a cash register, let alone a business!
When Guru asked us to do something, he would put an incredible force on it. It was as though a divine wind was blowing inexorably towards a particular goal, and all I had to do was to spread my sails to catch the wind. In one way it did feel like an enormous amount of hard work, but in another way, it felt effortless, as though everything was already done.
It was during Celebrations. I don’t remember how old I was, maybe in my early twenties. I remember being very insecure and feeling that Guru outwardly didn’t give me enough attention and felt a little bit like Guru loved other people more than me because he didn’t talk to me. I felt insecure and down and a little bit unloved or not loved enough. Guru loves everyone else more than me, that is how I felt. I remember it went on for quite a few days. My mind was very strong. I was really down for a few days.
One day out of the blue, Guru calls me up and without really saying anything gives me a little gift bag. And we have a photo of it. It’s a blue gift bag, that’s right. In the gift bag was a little stuffed animal or something. But the most precious thing was that Guru wrote on the gift bag, it’s very faint, He wrote, “My dearest Aruna,” and then is the printed “I love you,” and then underneath Guru writes, “Guru.”
Every time I look at the picture, it says: ‘I love you!
Before Dodula became a disciple of Sri Chinmoy, she was Sister Elda, a Catholic nun. When she started meditating according to Sri Chinmoy's teachings, she was working at a school for children with learning and behavior problems, running the therapy station for the most troubled children.
With the meditation practice everything became more meaningful, deeper, vaster. I was able to understand Christ’s message better than before and I could feel the essence. And I got so much strength and joy.
I did not say anything about my meditation practice but these sensitive children immediately felt something in me. They behaved in a different manner – even the most difficult child. Not only children felt the peaceful help. Many friends, the President, the Director, the Principal of the school, teachers and other staff came to me for consolation and advice.
John was only seven years old when he came to the children’s home. When he had to go to a public school, he disturbed the whole class. Finally he was sent for special education to us. His mother, who was about six feet tall, told me it was like hell at home. John treated her worse than a dog. He ordered her about and did not obey her and his father. In the beginning he tried the same behavior with us and he was not able to follow the teacher’s instruction. That was why he needed special therapy and was sent to me.