Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rick Gets His Name

In December 1984, Rick and I both went to New York before Guru went on his annual Christmas Trip. It was an important trip for both of us.

For me, the trip was important because I was offered a job -- albeit a temporary one -- at the Smile of the Beyond. The Smile is a vegetarian diner in Queens run by disciples. At that time, a disciple named Shushoban managed the Smile. He was going on the Christmas Trip, though, and asked me whether I'd be willing to stay in New York and fill in for him.

Of course I would! If I played my cards right, I figured that I'd be able to extend my stay in New York all the way until April. Perhaps that would be long enough, I thought, to "make myself indispensable to Guru" (which, according to Jigisha, was a prerequisite to getting permission to move to New York permanently).

So, for the few weeks before the Christmas Trip began, I spent a few hours each day training in the Smile. Aside from Shushoban, the full-time day crew consisted of two veteran disciples named Boiragi (who primarily worked the salad bar) and Sundar (who primarily took customer orders and got drinks).

The other memorable thing that took place that December was that Guru called Rick up to the stage (of P.S. 86, I think) and gave him the spiritual name "Giribar." I don't remember its exact meaning, but its essence was "mountain."

I was happy for Giribar, but I also felt a little awkward. On the one hand, I knew Giribar deserved his name. Without him, there would have been no San Jose Center (nor would there ever have been one). He had sacrificed so much, not only for Guru and the other disciples, but for me personally.

On the other hand, I was jealous. Not rabidly so, but I thought my inner achievement was certainly equal to Giribar's outer achievement. Now, so many years later it's still embarrassing to acknowledge not only the pettiness of this thinking but also its absurdity. In my own defense, though, I was a good sport and quite conscious, even at the time, that my envy was petty and ignoble.

Like all the other qualities that I disliked about myself, I gratefully offered my jealousy as alms to the Divine.

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