Though it drives many of my readers crazy when I say it, I am and will always be grateful to Sri Chinmoy.
He changed my life for the better.
That's an objective fact. I may not know much, but I do know who I was before I joined the Center and who I had become by the time I decided to leave it. I was a better person.
For that, I'll always be grateful.
A lot of my friends have argued that Guru did nothing, that he added no value to our lives as disciples. In effect, they're arguing that whatever good experiences we had -- whatever progress we may have made in our personal development -- was the result of our own efforts, our own self-discipline.
I've no doubt this is true for them.
It's not so for me. For a few years in the mid-1980s, I experienced an exalted sense of being. Was it actually exalted? It felt that way to me, and Guru made it possible.
I'm not selling myself short. I played a part in my own experience, obviously, and perhaps the most important part. But to say that I could have achieved the breakthroughs in my meditations that I had all by myself would be inaccurate. I can only speak for myself in this regard, but when I meditated in front of Guru, he brought something powerful to the table.
A few months back, a friend of mine challenged me on this point. I told him that if I had been meditating on a rock -- rather than in front of Guru -- I would not have had the same profound (profound to me anyway) experiences I had had meditating with Guru.
"Have you ever tried meditating on a rock?" my friend asked. "Maybe you would have."
It's a fair point, I suppose. Maybe if I had devoted hours of concentrated effort meditating on a rock I would have had the same experiences. I doubt it, but perhaps. Even so, I'm still grateful to Guru.
And there are some very tangible reasons for me to be grateful.
Were it not for Guru, I would never have met any of these people: Sahishnu, Prakash, Sevika, Giribar, Ketan, Phanindra, Bipin, Pulin, Jigisha, Anugata, Ranjana, Lavanya, Jayanti, Premik, Shambhu, Sundar, Sunil, Shraddha, or Dhruva, Trishatur, Bansidhar, the Rocherolles (Gangadhar, Gayatri, Narendra, and Durdam), Bhima and Tejiyan, Sudhir, Pinak, Ashrita, Databir, Suchatula, Sundari, or Bihagee.
And that's just a short list.
Meeting these people alone was worth the price of admission, even if that price meant that Guru deceived me. It was, without a doubt, worth it to me.
Finally, even if Guru brought nothing to our relationship -- even if he was simply the anvil upon which I hammered my own identity -- then I am grateful for that anvil.
I'll always be so.
The photo above shows Hephaestus, Greek god of blacksmiths among other things.