I was an ordained Christian minister serving at the Metropolitan Community Church in Manhattan. I had found my “church home” there, and loved the community as well as the opportunity to serve the poor and downtrodden—but I was feeling a lack of spiritual direction for myself.
I began to feel desperate spiritually. Where was I going to find a place to address my personal spiritual growth? How was I going to grow in my walk with God? I couldn’t live without a place to grow emotionally and spiritually. I felt like I was dying inside. I couldn’t stand it anymore.
Late one evening, I went into my bedroom and sat down to pray. I prayed to Christ and asked him to help me. I needed a new spiritual director. I needed someone who could guide and advise me in my spiritual life. Someone really, really far ahead of me, someone I wouldn’t catch up with in just a few years by learning all that they could teach me. I wanted someone so far ahead of me that I could spend a very long time learning from them.
I felt that my life was meaningless without this kind of spiritual input. I realized that the only thing that mattered was following the Will of God, and I told Christ that this was all I wanted to do. Nothing else mattered—nothing else. I sat in my room and cried. My soul was dying without a context for spiritual direction. In the end, I had no more words except to plead with Christ over and over, “Thy Will be done. Thy Will be done. Thy Will be done.” I repeated these words until I had cried myself into exhaustion and finally fell sleep.
As chairperson of my department at the college I taught at, I had recently hired a new teacher with a spiritual background. Much as I had explored the different denominations of Christian churches in my young college days, I was always interested in hearing about people’s different spiritual experiences and beliefs. So I began to ask about her spiritual life.
She was a student of Sri Chinmoy, an Eastern meditation Master from Bengal, India, with whom she studied meditation. He was based in Queens, New York. She referred to him simply as “Guru,” and said that the students committed to his spiritual teachings (or “path”) were called “disciples.”
I asked about her spiritual lifestyle, what kind of meditation she did, and what that was like. At times she was reticent to say much about her group. But I was interested in spiritual discipline, and nothing that she described about Sri Chinmoy’s path seemed to be a problem. I respected her as someone who could make such a commitment to her spirituality. In turn, she was respectful of my Christian beliefs and church membership. We had many enjoyable conversations about spiritual matters.
She gave me, as a gift, a book by Sri Chinmoy called The Son, about the life of Christ. I was interested to see what an Eastern meditation Master would have to say about Jesus. I thought to myself, “This man, Sri Chinmoy, really knows who and what Christ is.”
I began to think that maybe meditation was something I should get into. Maybe this was my next step on my spiritual journey, to learn to meditate. I began to read some other books by Sri Chinmoy and had no problems with this Eastern form of spirituality. It reminded me of my attraction to Buddhist and Taoist forms of spirituality. I had no thought of joining the group, because, after all, I was a Christian and had dedicated myself to working for Christ in the Church as I was called to do. But the books were illuminating and insightful to me, teaching me more about God.
Eventually, my disciple friend invited me to visit her at her home. We entered into her meditation room. There in the middle was a raised altar of sorts, with a picture of Sri Chinmoy that was known as the “Transcendental” photograph. She invited me to meditate.
I thought, “I can’t relate to this picture. Since Jesus Christ is my spiritual Master, I will meditate on him.” I closed my eyes and began to inwardly chant, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” What was strange was that I had never before prayed in this way. I knew that what I was chanting was called the “Jesus mantra,” but I had never done it before in my prayer life. Yet that was what came to me to do, so I chanted the name of Jesus in silence. It felt right, and comfortable.
Then something remarkable happened. I opened my eyes, and there stood Jesus, visible to my eyes, just to the left side of the shrine. It had been about two years since I had had such an experience of Jesus showing up, and I knew to pay attention.
He was dressed in a white linen robe. He was like a little child full of joy and energy, literally bouncing up and down and filled with joy. He looked at me, pointed at the Transcendental photograph, and said with immense happiness, “This is my Brother. This is my Brother. This is my Brother!” He spoke the words with triumph and delight, emanating joy and light. He then disappeared.
I was silenced, within and without. I took into my heart what I had seen and heard, and held it there. My first thought after the experience was, “So there is no harm in this man.” Sri Chinmoy, clearly, was a holy man.
Late that evening, my friend drove me home to Brooklyn. I was still quietly pondering my experience. About halfway home, my friend broke the silence. She said hesitantly, “You know, I grew up Jewish and, well, I never really felt any relationship with the Christ. But while we were meditating, I felt this presence in the room. At first I thought it was Guru, but it didn’t feel like him. And I don’t know how I know this, but it felt like maybe it was the Christ’s presence. I thought maybe it had something to do with the fact that you were there.” This last portion of the sentence was delivered in a rush.
Just when I was beginning to entertain the thought that maybe I had somehow made up the entire experience, and it was all just going on in my head, she said this. Now I knew that in fact, it had happened. We both had had experiences of the Christ at the same time, although in different ways.
About 10 days days later, I heard that Guru would be at the Whole Life Expo in Manhattan. So I attended the Expo with my disciple friend. This would be the first time I would have an opportunity to see Guru in person. In the large meeting room there, when it was Guru’s turn to take the stage, I saw a seemingly slight man dressed in a subtle blue robe-like garment come out from the side curtain and begin to move slowly toward the elevated platform. My attention was immediately caught as I realized I was looking at Sri Chinmoy.
As I watched him, I thought to myself, “He is all surrender. He is all humility.” I was stunned and awed by what I was seeing. It seemed to me that every move he made was from this surrendered space that I had briefly glimpsed. He was living in that form of spiritual surrender that I wanted so much to learn to be in. I could see that every movement and every breath came from that space.
And he was all humility. He had perfected surrender to the Will of God in every moment—and I was watching him manifest it. I felt immediately inside the very depths of my being that this man was truly another avatar. Like Christ. Like Buddha. Like Krishna. An incarnation of God. Divinity fully expressed in human form.
It took a few other experiences for me to know that I was meant to join Sri Chinmoy's path, but in the end, it was Christ himself who sent me to Guru.
If your heart is crying for a real Master, then you are bound to feel something when you stand in front of one. And if you find your own Master, you will find everything that you need in this life.
Sri Chinmoy 1