I was kind of a shy boy, young boy, in those days. It took me maybe a few weeks to get enough courage to go ahead and decide to go to the Sri Chinmoy Centre in Puerto Rico. I'll never forget when it happened. It was my birthday, and I was sitting at the dinner table with my family. I was living with my parents at the time. I was still in high school. I was sitting there having my meal, and from deep inside of me came this affirmation, out of the blue: “I am going to the Centre this week.”
So, I went. The first time I went to meditation, it was Wednesday evening. It was on the second floor in a small apartment, in a very humble area in Puerto Rico. There were between 20 and 30 people in this small meditation apartment.
Now, Guru was not physically there, but when I went in, I was clutching one of those yoga books. It was like my security blanket. I remember we waited in a separate room while they were preparing the meditation room. I was asking one of the older disciples—his name is Ananta and he passed away some years ago—if he thought it was good. He said, “Oh, yes, it’s very good.” They were very sweet. There was a vibration, an atmosphere there that was extremely powerful but also very peaceful. My heart was pounding with excitement.
So, the time came, and they called us into the meditation room, a very small room. In those days they would turn off all the lights and there would just be candles, with the candles on Guru’s chair in the front where Guru would sit when he visited, and candles and different shrines around. So, we were inside this real temple, there was a very sacred, very mystical, very, very inspiring feeling.
Sudha was the Centre leader. She was an extremely close disciple to Guru. She was at the time an older woman. She looked like Indira Gandhi—if you ever saw a picture of Indira Gandhi. Sudha had Indian features, although she was a Puerto Rican woman. And many years later, I heard Guru had said that she was his daughter in a previous life.
Sudha started the meditation. She sat on the floor next to Guru’s throne, facing us on the side very humbly, and she read one of Guru’s aphorisms. We chanted and then we all went into silent meditation. But because this was my first time, all I knew about how to meditate was to do some breathing exercises, some pranayama. So, I started doing that. Sudha mentioned that we should look at Guru’s Transcendental photograph because she saw that a few of us were new. So, I started looking at Guru’s photograph and breathing in his breath.
It only took a few minutes for me to calm down, and then such a tremendous force, just a tremendous light came down. I could feel it come down in the room and lift me up.
Actually I felt like it was shooting me up. I felt like a rocket going up into the sky, and I could see the earth like a ball, like you see in some of those photographs taken from outer space of Earth, the green ball. I could see it going away as I was going up. This tremendous force was pulling me from the top of my head, yanking me up.
While that was happening, there were absolutely no thoughts in my mind. I mean, the force was so overwhelming that it completely lacked any possibility of thought. I was just flying upward and completely under the spell of this tremendous power.
I just wanted to keep going. It was so wonderful, so blissful. It was just an incredible experience! But it came to a point where I felt like I had stopped. I was frozen way out there someplace. I kept wanting to go on. But now that I look back, it was like my own fears or my own ignorance or limitations were preventing me. It was like I couldn't go any higher. I was stuck. But up there.
Eventually, at some point, I could hear them chanting AUM. So, I sort of started floating back down into my body. When I finally came to and opened my eyes, I was a little disoriented. But I was absolutely certain, without any trace of doubt, that this was where I belonged.
Meditate, meditate, meditate
Soulfully, sleeplessly and self-givingly,
For meditation is nothing other than
Our supreme ignorance-shattering vision.
Sri Chinmoy 1