My name is Gabriele. I grew up in Italy and a few years ago I moved to San Diego, California, where I now live. I’m going to tell you a story that happened to me about three years ago. It changed my life, so it’s very significant to me.
It was a Saturday afternoon, so I went for lunch at Jyoti-Bihanga restaurant here in San Diego. They were organising a water station for the following day’s race -- the San Diego marathon.
That day I felt particularly inspired to do something for the community, with the community. Sure enough, the opportunity came along. I thought, “These guys are looking for volunteers for the race and I would like to be part of it”.
So I talked to the gentleman sitting outside, Mahiyan, and asked him if I could join in. He hooked me up with Vasudha, and she said, “Come along. It will be great to have you!”
The following morning at 5:30 a.m. I met them at the water station, and we set up. We were given instructions on how to go about the race. My duty was to sweep the street of the plastic bottles and anything that was in the way of the runners. As you know, there is such a fantastic energy at the race. Everybody chips in, runners and volunteers. It was a really nice build-up.
I remember this particular moment when I saw a man pushing his son in a wheelchair. I felt a connection with him when I saw in his face an expression of absolute determination and will power to accomplish his goal of finishing the race. That connected me to everybody else around me. I started feeling such oneness with the runners and the volunteers and the cheerers. The whole energy was just so powerful and inspiring. I felt one with everyone around me. I just saw that everything was so luminous and bright.
Everything that I had strived for all my life, which was that oneness, came all at once and I felt it right inside my heart. It was so overwhelming that my mind could not understand what was going on. But it definitely was the happiest moment I’ve had in my whole life.
The race is called the Rock and Roll Marathon because there is music throughout the whole course. I remember that the Jyoti-Bihanga water station had flute music composed and performed by Sri Chinmoy playing, and close to us there was some Latin music that was very dynamic and loud. I was trying to sweep the side of the street that was closer to the flute music. Somehow that openness of heart was being fed by the flute music. The more I heard it, the more I could take it in. It was feeding that connection and that presence that showed up in my heart in that moment.
That same day I saw the future in front of me. I knew and felt what I was about to do. I didn’t know exactly what it was and I didn’t understand it, but I knew that I had to continue feeding this connection and presence in my heart.
I walked home and I ended my marriage that same day. The following day I showed up at Jyoti-Bihanga restaurant and I asked the disciples if I could hang out in the restaurant for some time. The more I read Sri Chinmoy’s books, the more I felt that thrill in my heart was being fed. It was increasing and expanding, and I realised that this is what I want more of. This is what I want. So I went for it.
I must say that everybody at the restaurant was super welcoming and super nice and would only bring me the bill after I asked for it. Even if I hung out for three hours, nobody would come and talk to me unless it was to see if I was okay. I never felt any pressure. I felt welcome to stick around and keep doing what I was doing. I felt huge respect.
Soon after that I asked Mahiyan, “Can I join the Centre? I feel a strong connection with you guys and I would like to pursue this Path.”
One anecdote I would like to add. When all of this was going on, there was a lot of confusion and doubt in my head. I called a friend: “Can we meet in the park and can we talk?” Of course, he said yes. I was telling him about my experience and my doubts. Does this mean I have to go to India and look for a teacher? This teacher, he’s called Sri Chinmoy. Is he the one?
I remember that during our discussion he left for a few minutes, and while he was gone, I opened my Instagram account. I swear, the first post that showed up was one of Sri Chinmoy’s quotes. It was something along these lines: “Hesitation lengthens the road indefinitely.” That really talked to me. It was like, “Dude, can you not see it?”
I really jumped on that train and said, “Okay, I trust this and I will go with it.” I filled out my application to join the Centre. While I was waiting for the answer, I called up another friend who was already part of the Centre and said, “These guys are not getting back to me. I am afraid. What if they say no? I’ve decided to commit and be a part of it, so I’m hoping they say yes.” Sure enough, a few days later they said yes.
Three years later, I can say that I have been the happiest I have ever been. I’m the most open I have ever been and I’ve reached peaks of happiness that I didn’t even know existed, so I’m very grateful to everyone who has welcomed me with open arms and open hearts. I feel that I have a big family around me and lots of friends from all over the world. Lots of inspiring people, creative and talented. I feel guided every day. In every step I take, I feel an inner guidance and an inner presence that as I continue my meditation and my practice, keeps expanding. I feel very fulfilled and grateful.
Open the gates of a new life.
You will be happy.
Close the gates of your old life.
You will be happy.
Offer your service-light to God in man.
You will be happy.
Offer your satisfaction-promise to man in God.
You will be happy.
Sri Chinmoy 1