In early 1998 Guru completed what was then his most prodigious poetic work—the 270 volumes of his monumental Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants—and so concluded an epic venture spanning more than fourteen years. It was another of those relentlessly sustained and patient undertakings which together coursed like a braided river through Guru’s life, those multiple strands of inspiration, of paintings and soul-birds, literature and music and wonderfully original things.
One evening we were with Guru shortly after the last poem in this series had been written. We asked Guru for suggestions for how his New Zealand disciples could celebrate the culmination of this vast poetic work.
Guru rose and went through a doorway into an adjoining room for two or three minutes, then came back with a series of ideas that quite astonished us. It was as though he had also stepped through an unseen portal into another world where the future, the unimagined, the possible, lay awaiting its manifestation—and gathered from there a few trinkets to bring back. The first of these? That we shake 27,000 people’s hands, giving each of these people a card of poems and a sweet!
This unique challenge consumed the New Zealand disciples for some time. We visited school assemblies, announcing a handshaking-record attempt to honour Guru’s achievement. We stood at escalators in shopping malls with a microphone to introduce ourselves and, armed with a hand-held manual counter to accurately record numbers, visited universities and busy streets. We toured towns, distributed 27,000 sweets, and gave away 27,000 large cards—each carrying an explanation of Guru’s achievement and a sample sprinkling of 27 poems, like this one:
If you want to remain always happy,
Always perfect and always fulfilled,
Then always keep inside your heart
A pocketful of sweet dreams.
Everything about this unusual commemoration charmed people a lot, and left 27,000 spirit-awakening, heart-warming mementos with their 27 inspirational poems scattered throughout this peace-hungry world.
Later in the year of 1998—that bustling, breathtaking year of endless surprises and astonishing undertakings—Guru challenged us all to further highlight the completion of Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants. Guru summoned his Australia and New Zealand disciples and we stood before him in a semi-circle, in wonderment, racking our brains for wonderful ideas to further commemorate this mammoth achievement.
It was Guru—who else could imagine with such inventiveness and freshness?—who first suggested different assemblies of animals to illustrate the vast number of poems in his latest work. Could we gather together 27,000 kangaroos or lambs or cows to numerically demonstrate the multitudes of aphorisms, the seemingly infinite gold nuggets of wisdom?
We accepted the challenge to film 27,000 lambs in New Zealand, a documentary that involved locating a high country station with almost numberless sheep—and would permit us to visit for this unusual purpose.
Guru loved the result and on several occasions watched excerpts of the video—it was over an hour long! There they were, 27,000 lambs and ewes, some as a long procession winding down from high country pastures and mountainscapes and streaming across the yellow-tussocked foothills to winter in the valleys; others crowded into pens or plodding along country roads or scattered like handfuls of tossed white sesame across startling green hillsides. Each lamb was a poem and all the poems a galaxy of tiny gems, flung like stardust before our amazed, uplifted eyes.
How often like this Guru changed the entire course of a year with his challenges to accomplish something fresh and new and extraordinary—the routines of the everyday replaced by a divinely inspired clarion call, an attempt at things seemingly impossible. Eagerness and enthusiasm, resourcefulness and daring, self-belief and God-belief—we were being trained in discipleship, discovering a new path for a modern world, exploring all the possibilities to find and manifest the eternal message of spirit.