Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Sit Down



Right as the public meditation ended, I got word that Guru wanted me at the house.

The porch was crowded when I got there. Guru was in the other room apparently, and everyone welcomed me a little more warmly than usual. I sat down, but before I could truly settle in, the girls began filing out of the other room and onto the porch.

One of them -- perhaps Savita, whom I had always admired -- told me that Guru wanted me. It became quiet and serious almost at once. Guru was sitting up straight in his reclining chair and he motioned for me to sit in front of him. "Let us meditate good boy," Guru said as he closed his eyes.

We meditated together for two or three minutes before Guru asked me what was wrong. "Tell me everything that is bothering you, good boy."

I told Guru the same thing that I had told him a few days earlier on the phone, and what I had told him in my goodbye note. This time, however, I wasn't at all emotional. "Guru, I've lost my aspiration. It's disappeared and I don't think it's coming back." Truth be told, I was sure it wasn't coming back.

Guru protested at length, as he had a few days earlier. He repeated my name and its meaning -- the abode of yoga. "Such a powerful name I have given you!" He went on to say again that I was destined for the spiritual life.

In retrospect, I wonder how Guru would have reacted had I been more explicit about the nature of my "problem." What would he have said if I had been brutally frank? "Guru, I need to have sex (and soon)!" The idea never would have had occurred to me at the time though. In public, at least, Guru didn't answer questions about sex (though he has written about it in very broad, generic terms). In private, I expect that I could have raised the issue with Guru, but I don't know what his advice to me would have been. Don't ask, don't tell? I just don't know.

In any event, Guru went on to ask me if anything else was bothering me. "I don't want to work at the Smile," I replied. I was burned out and had been for a few years. The inherent stress of restaurant work, the low pay, the ungrateful customers (primarily rowdy school kids), all combined to create an almost unbearable atmosphere in which to work.

"You don't have to work at the Smile," Guru said. "You can work wherever you'd like." That was a revelation. I'd always assumed I was permanently locked into the Smile. Finally, Guru asked me to stay and to give my life in the Center another chance.

As I had on the phone a few days earlier -- and for the same reasons -- I agreed.

Guru had not convinced me of anything. I simply felt that I owed him. He had re-shaped my life in just a few short years and in the process had never asked me for anything in return. Now he was asking me to give the Center another chance. I couldn't say no.

Before getting up, I told Guru that my dad had paid for my plane ticket home and that I should repay him. Guru asked me how much. "About $400," I said. Guru reached into the pocket of his kurta and pulled out a roll of cash and counted out more than enough and handed it to me.

I thanked Guru, bowed and then went to the porch. The Annam Brahma girls served dinner, there was prasad, and before I knew it, I was back in my once-abandoned room at Premik's.

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