How I learned from Sri Chinmoy

This is one of the stories in our Story-Gems project, a collection of our experiences with our Guru, Sri Chinmoy. Project homepage »


The way my Guru Sri Chinmoy affected me, in a large sense, is how we are all affected by each other’s consciousness. When you spend time with someone who is really happy, you come away happier than you were before.

Why do we choose someone as a friend? It is because we feel reinforced by their presence. This may not be conscious, but there is an inner kinship, and you are touched by that person’s life. You feel a sense of well-being in their presence. Of course, the opposite is also true. So on a very casual basis, all of us are affected by the consciousness of those around us.

Driving Sri Chinmoy in Chicago, 1998

With a spiritual Master, however, it is also more than that. To be in the presence of someone whose spirituality is that powerful lifts you. You walk away spiritualised by the encounter regardless of its nature. With a spiritual Master, you try to soak in what they are constantly emitting. This is something that has stuck with me throughout the years about Sri Chinmoy. 

When I was with Guru, we could talk about anything. Just to be with him, in the authority of his spirituality, was uplifting, regardless of what we talked about. When you were sitting with Guru, you wanted to breathe in the consciousness that was there. Certainly, Guru gave me advice and instruction. I was privileged to spend a lot of time with Guru privately and personally, and that interaction could take the form of my asking him, “May I ask your advice, Guru?” Our conversations could also take the form of him saying, “Oh, good boy, you have to do this.”

Sometimes Sri Chinmoy would assign his disciples various responsibilities. One time he had me give meditation classes in Santa Barbara, California. I was spending a lot of time with the students there, and whenever I had the opportunity to be alone with Guru, there was a checklist that he would go through related to things that he knew were happening in my life. How were the classes in Santa Barbara going?  How was this or that disciple doing? How was my work? How was my brother? There was a whole sphere of influence that he attached to me. But in truth, we could talk about anything. Sometimes we would talk about Chicago pizza.

Recieving prasad from Sri Chinmoy, 1997

I think the relationship with a spiritual Master is misunderstood. It’s very, very intimate and deeply personal. You come to view the Master as an extension of your own inner life. When Guru advised me to do something, I would try to take it as though my own soul was telling me. I knew that he would never tell me something that was not in accordance with my own inner being. Of course, the spiritual life is not all black and white. Sometimes there are grey areas, and you are confused and not sure. The beautiful part about having had that experience is that it was nice to have been able to ask Guru, “Is this the right thing? Is this the wrong thing?”

Sometimes my questions were like hallucinations that had no bearing on my life at all. Guru would say, “Where did you come up with that idea?” In any case, I always trusted him to tell me what was right for me.

The time that I spent with Guru was sacred. It was precious beyond my ability to really appreciate how precious it was. I don’t have the capacity to be grateful enough for the way in which Guru shared his life with me. But I am as grateful as I can possibly be for my experiences with him through the years.

My first and last lesson in spirituality
Is my sleepless and breathless oneness
With the Will of my Lord Supreme.

Sri Chinmoy 1