Greenwich Village

In April of 1964, when I got off the plane in New York, it was not cold at all. My sponsor, his dearest friend and my second sponsor were waiting for me. I came out to the Immigration area, looking this side and that side. I did not know which way to go. An Indian immediately discovered what a helpless human being I was. He said, “So, you are in trouble?”

I said, “No, I am not in trouble.”

“No, I can see you are in trouble. Who has come to meet you?”

I said, “My sponsors are waiting.”

This Indian saw that I was only looking around to see which way to come out. He was kind enough to bring me right to my sponsors. That was my first experience in America!

My sponsors were very, very happy. They lived in Greenwich Village, and they gave me their living room to stay in. Early in the morning, very early, I used to look at their statue of the Lord Buddha. It was so huge! I used to meditate, seated on a sofa, every morning.

I had so many conversations with that Lord Buddha statue. We developed such friendship and oneness. Now they have taken that Lord Buddha to Matagiri in Woodstock. Matagiri is their shrine. Very nicely they have kept it. Every time I went to visit Sammy and Eric in Woodstock, what did I do? At the end of our marathon conversation, I would go and bow to the Lord Buddha. And every time I used to give the Lord Buddha an envelope with one thousand dollars. I also gave them at least three hundred dollars’ worth of groceries. Vinaya would bring bag after bag of food and put it on the kitchen table.

One day I created a problem for my sponsor. They say that Greenwich Village is all day. There is no night there; it is all day. At three o’clock in the morning, all the shops are open! At that hour I went out. When I came back, I made a loud noise with the door. My sponsor said, “What are you doing?”

I said, “It was so illumined that I went out. The stores are all open.”

“Oh, do not do that, do not do that! There are so many bad people in the street in Greenwich Village.”

I went out and enjoyed seeing everything, because it was all light and the stores were all open. That was my Greenwich Village experience!

I had another funny experience. People were selling their artwork in the street. I was browsing and browsing, and I was appreciating the art. One man was so pleased with me! He asked me, “Where do you live?”

I said, “I live here, nearby.”

“What is your telephone number?”

I was so unwise! I gave him Sammy’s telephone number. I was so happy and so proud that I remembered the telephone number! When I went home, I said to Sammy, “I gave an artist your telephone number.”

“Oh no! Never give out my telephone number!” That was another early experience of mine. I have so many funny, funny stories.

One day I went to Washington Square Park. I saw somebody blowing a whistle. I was under the impression that something had gone wrong. I was looking and looking. I said to myself, “Now the police will come.” I was looking and looking so eagerly to see what was happening. Why was that man in front of a hotel blowing a whistle? Something had gone wrong. Then a taxi came. What was this? I thought that man was looking for a policeman. Instead, a taxi came. Someone entered into the taxi and drove away.

These things definitely took place in my life!

10 December 2006, Antalya, Turkey.