The world-experience-tree-climber, part 5
The dog TinaOn the airplane from Bombay, a lady carried a dog onto the plane in an ordinary handbag. From time to time she would open the bag, and the dog would jump up. Then she would talk to the dog for a few seconds before closing the bag. The lady was calling the dog Tina, which is our Upasana’s former name. So many people saw the dog on the plane! Can you imagine? I am sure it is not permitted to carry a dog in that way.
While waiting at Customs, I happened to be behind this lady. She was very smart, very pushy and very restless. Just because I was behind her, I was able to make headway in the line. Otherwise, I would have had a much longer wait.
— 27 February 1986
The Long Island seekerWhen I first arrived in India, a bald-headed man came up to me near the Air India office in our hotel and said, “Sri Chinmoy? Sri Chinmoy?”
I said, “Yes.”
He said, “I can’t believe it!” His eyes were swimming with tears. So soulfully he was shedding tears and embracing me. His soul knew who I am. He created a real scene in the hotel. So many people were watching!
He told me that he used to come to our meetings three years ago and then he stopped. He knows Adhiratha and he was telling me how Adhiratha stands next to my chair when he is guarding on stage on Wednesday nights. He also knows Sumantra and Ayoddhri.
He said he had come to India to visit some spiritual places, so I gave him the names of a few places to see. He said that he wants to start coming to our meetings in New York when he returns. He is a construction worker from Long island.
— 27 February 1986
In search of a GuruIn another case, a boy named Brad had been my disciple for a few years in California, but then he had left the path. Brad was going to India to search for a Guru. He and another seeker were going to visit a few spiritual places. I don’t think the other seeker was looking for a Guru.
I happened to be on the same plane that they were on, so Brad found his Guru again in me. In his case, he touched the soil of India only to go back to America.
— 27 February 1986
Travelling by car and trainFrom Dhaka I went to Chittagong by car; it took six hours. I wanted to visit all the places that I had read about in history and geography books. I wanted to see those sacred places where Sri Ramachandra and others were supposed to have visited. Now they have become places of pilgrimage. But in the end I was only able to visit my family homes in Chittagong and Shakpura.
I came back from Chittagong by train. I was in an Indian first-class car, which is like an American third-class car, or worse. They played very loud music, which was almost like jazz.
— 1 March 1986
Delayed by the 'flood'While in Calcutta, for four days I tried to get in touch with my family. But the line was always out of order. There is something called a ‘lightning call’, which costs eight times more than a regular call. I said, “I am ready to pay.” But even the lightning call was not successful.
So I flew to Madras without informing them. Every time I go home, my brothers and sisters arrange to have a car from the Ashram meet me. An Ashram driver comes to Madras and takes me to Pondicherry. I know the driver well. It is usually a three-hour drive. But this time, because I could not get in touch with them, I had to hire a car. It was the biggest mistake!
Somebody came and said, “I have a car.” When I went to the car, that person disappeared and I saw somebody else there — a driver with two helpers.
As soon as I entered into the car, I thought, “This car is older than the oldest. But I can’t get out now. My things are inside the trunk.”
The driver tried to reassure me. He said. “Oh, no, no, this is a very good car.”
We started out at 8:30. The car broke down three times over the next four hours. Around 12:30 we had gone only 70 miles and still had 40 miles to cover. Then they had to change the tire!
They were saying that we were delayed because there was a flood and there were no bridges.
I said, “Where is the flood? I don’t see water here.”
They said, “No, two weeks ago there was a flood.”
I said, “Two weeks ago there was a flood, and that’s why you can’t drive now?” What can you do with people like this!
— 1 March 1986
Changing driversAt 1:15 I was only five miles away from our house in Pondicherry. The driver said he could not go any farther because he didn’t have a Pondicherry license.
So the two friends of the driver took another car and went to a nearby hospital and brought back a car and driver with a Pondicherry license. Usually drivers charge five rupees to go to our house from there; 10 rupees maximum. But this driver said, “At this hour you have to pay 75 rupees.”
He was shamelessly overcharging, but 75 rupees is only a little more than five dollars. I was so happy that I would finally arrive at my destination that I gladly agreed to pay him.
— 1 March 1986
Paying the Madras driverThe Ashram charges only 200 or 225 rupees to take me from Madras to Pondicherry. I had told the driver at the airport that I would give him 450 rupees for the ride. That is about double what the Ashram charges.
But even then, that man didn’t trust me. “In case anything happens, could you give me some money in advance?” he asked. What was going to happen? But to prove my innocence, I gave him 100 rupees.
But then look what happened! After so many hours, still he could not take me all the way to Pondicherry. I gave him his full 450 rupees, but I was so disgusted.
— 1 March 1986
You are saving meThe man who asked for 75 rupees said, “You should not give him the whole amount since he is unable to take you the whole way.”
Meanwhile, the three who had brought me from Madras wanted a share of this man’s 75 rupees. They said, “You have to give us something because we found you a passenger.”
The two drivers had a serious argument because the second driver didn’t want to give them anything. He said, “I am saving you because you can’t drive into Pondicherry.”
I said, “No, you are not saving them. You are saving me.” Then I begged him to take the 75 rupees and just drive me home.
When we arrived, I gave him 80 rupees.
— 1 March 1986
A big favourThe first time I went back to India, I took a taxi from Madras to our house in Pondicherry. A young couple was going to the Pondicherry area also, so I said, “You don’t have to pay. You come with me. I will sit with the driver and you can sit in the back.” They were so moved by my generosity and very grateful to me.
In those days I carried my money in a little bag with no strap. When we finally arrived at my house, I was filled with such joy that I just opened the car door and practically ran to my house. O God, I didn’t realise that I had left my bag on the seat next to the driver.
The driver drove away and had gone about half a block when the wife noticed that I had left my bag there. She was very short, so God knows how she saw my bag. Her husband was tall, but he didn’t see it. So the wife told the driver and he brought the car back. Then the husband came out of the car and gave me the bag. The driver had known that the bag was there, but he didn’t want to say anything.
So I did them a favour by saving them 300 or 400 rupees for a taxi ride, but they did me a much bigger favour. I had so much money in my bag, as well as my passport. It is because there are good people like this on earth that we still exist. Some divine forces always protect me in time of need; still the divine forces are not sleeping!
— 1 March 1986
The Elephanta CavesDuring my visit to India, we went to some sacred caves called Elephanta, where they keep Lord Shiva’s statue. To get to the caves, we took a boat from Bombay, and then a little ferry to the island. You have to go up hundreds of steps to get to the sacred area, but there are strong young men there who will carry you up in a chair if you are too weak to go up the stairs yourself. In my case, I climbed up the stairs, but I paid to be carried down by four men. It was a frightening experience, because the chair slants downward when they are carrying you, and they go quite fast.
A lady at the caves begged me to take her picture. Then afterwards, she wanted me to give her five rupees for allowing me to take her picture.
— 1 March 1986
A banquet in LondonThe London disciples arranged a banquet like the one the Governor of Agadir had given us. Ten or twelve people were sitting around each table and we were being served.
They gave me a cake with 200 candles for my 200-pound lift and started singing, “I can lift up 200 pounds.” They were singing the song so cheerfully and confidently that I began to suspect them.
I said, “You people are really great. I just wrote the song in New York and already you have learned it. When did you get in touch with Tanima?”
They said, “We didn’t get in touch with Tanima. We just changed the words to one of your old songs!”
— 16 March 1986
A cake with candlesWe were at the Springfield Diner celebrating the birthday of one of the disciples. I went to the counter and asked them to bring a cake to the table and to put candles on the cake. The lady looked puzzled, so again I said, “I would like candles on the cake.”
Finally the waitress brought the cake to the table, along with half a cantaloup. She was about to put the cantaloup on top of the cake when everybody started laughing. They asked her what she was doing.
She said, “You asked me to put cantaloup on the cake.”
I said, “No, I asked you to put candles on the cake.”
So this is how she understood my English!
— 26 April 1986
Invitation to tennisThis morning in Berlin, I came back from my walk at around a quarter to eight. It had been very cold outside and I had not taken my jacket, so I was shivering.
When I came into the hotel, a middle-aged Englishman came up to me and said, “Do you play tennis?”
I said, “Yes, I do.”
Then he asked, “Could you come and play with me? Nobody is at the courts.”
Unfortunately I had not brought my tennis racquet on that trip, so I had to excuse myself.
— 7 June 1986
Good Indian heartsToday in Berlin when I sat down to eat something in the Maharajah restaurant, I put my bag on the floor at my feet. But when I left, I forgot to take the bag with me — and it had my passport and wallet inside.
I discovered that it was missing four hours later when I was about to enter into the hotel. I went back to the restaurant and everything was still there — passport, money, everything. I wanted to give them gifts to show my appreciation, but they wouldn’t take anything.
I have the bad habit on occasion of calling Indians ‘rogues’. You have no idea how many times Indians have deceived me! So because I am an Indian, I am entitled to speak ill of them. But here I found good Indian hearts. They had been wondering why I had not come back sooner for the bag, and they were so happy to see me.
These people had no greed — only sympathy, kindness and oneness. I was so deeply moved.
— 7 June 1986
Gift of a PaintingThe lady who owned the meeting place that we used in Berlin came up to me after one meeting. She told me that I am a great man and that she was so grateful that I had come to her place.
She said, “You are an artist and I am an artist. You are a greater artist, but I would like to give you this painting of mine. I am giving it to the artist in you and not to the spiritual Master.”
I said, “It is very beautiful.”
She was so thrilled.
— 27 June 1986
Nordic heart-powerWe had a nice trip to Finland and Sweden, where I gave Peace Concerts. In both places we also inaugurated Peace Miles. Helsinki had a beautiful course, and Uppsala also was very good.
Just ten or twelve disciples worked on the Peace Miles, but they got 500 or 600 people to run. In their case it was not manpower or money-power but heart-power that succeeded.
— 20 July 1986
The jumping boyAlways I have experiences with children on planes! When I was flying to California for our Peace Concert, one little boy was bothering me like anything on the plane. He was absolutely jumping and jumping, and two times he fell on me. I was so afraid he would get hurt.
His mother tried to take off his shoes, but he didn’t want to take them off. Then so many times he kicked me!
What can you do?
— 2 October 1986
Two artistsOn the plane coming back from San Francisco, there was a very mischievous child sitting next to me. His mother was sitting on his other side.
He started playing with clay and throwing it around. Some of the clay landed on my pants.
I said to his mother, “He will be an artist.”
The mother said, “How do you know?”
I said, “I am an artist.”
Then I went to sleep. Otherwise, I would have had to enter into conversation.
— 2 October 1986
A different consciousnessAt our hotel in Vina del Mar, Chile, I was on the seventh floor waiting for the elevator. Also waiting for the elevator was a man who was absolutely ferocious and very drunk. Then a lady came up to him who also had a very bad consciousness. It was not just that they were drunk, but if you entered into their consciousness, you saw they were like animals. They had a beast-like consciousness; at any moment they might strangle you. So I pretended that I had forgotten something and went away.
A minute or so later I came back. This time a very civilised, elderly American couple was waiting for the elevator. They were talking about the wife’s shoes. No matter what she wears, nothing fits her. The husband said that he was willing to go to the shoe store with her, but the next day was Sunday.
So this change happened in a matter of one minute. It is better not to get on an elevator with people like that first couple. And if somebody very undivine comes into the elevator when you are in it, just get out. If the person has time to come in, you also have time to get out.
— 27 December 1986
The best was Valdivia!Of all the places we visited in South America, the best was Valdivia! I got such joy there, although the people there were very poor.
In Vina del Mar the hotel people were very nice, but in Valdivia I got a very good feeling from the people in the town itself.
— 7 January 1987
Almost robbedIn Lima, Peru, I left my bag in the car with Savyasachi. I had all my money in the bag, as well as my passport. Because the car door was a little open, the bag was almost stolen.
One person came up to Savyasachi’s window and tried to distract him by showing him some keys and asking if they were his. Meanwhile, two other people opened the door on the other side and tried to take the bag. Fortunately, Savyasachi had tied the bag to the stick shift, so they couldn’t take it.
Now we can laugh about it, but if they had taken it, we would have cried!
— 7 January 1987
Nice reportersFour reporters came to interview me in Lima. One of them was 100 per cent my disciple. She had a soul’s connection with three or four disciples, and she was looking at me as if she had known me for a long time. Then she took the chair right near me.
She asked me a question in Spanish and I answered her in English. She was so surprised that I had understood her Spanish.
Then Agraha asked her something. Afterwards, he said he couldn’t believe how kind she was.
All the reporters were so nice. Usually you talk for ten minutes and the reporters write down two words. But these reporters were writing continuously.
— 9 January 1987
The diplomatic answerI told the reporters two reasons why I like Peru. One of them was the fact the U.N. Secretary-General came from there. That was my diplomatic answer.
Peru has both an Indian and a Western touch. India does not have that.
— 9 January 1987
The celebrityYesterday when I entered into the elevator, I saw one of the hotel workers there. He raised his arms, with his fists clenched. He had seen my weightlifting pictures.
So I am a celebrity!
— 12 January 1987
Defying the managerOn the flight back to Miami, we had such a nice captain on the airplane. He defied the airline manager and let me keep my cello on the plane. Good people will dare to fight against bad people. We invited him to come and eat at Annam Brahma.
We have been to so many places on this trip in Argentina, Chile and Peru, and we never had any problem with the cello. Only coming back to Miami, the manager had to give us trouble!
— 15 January 1987
Showing off on the calf-raise machineLast night after the Stuttgart Peace Concert, a famous German bodybuilder came up to talk to me. His name is Jusup Wilkosz. Many times I had seen videos of him competing with Frank Zane and others, but I had never met him. He was Mr. Universe in 1980. He also got third place in the Mr. Olympia contest behind Lee Haney and somebody else.
This morning I went to visit his gym. I have never seen a gymnasium as beautiful or as well-kept. Other gymnasiums are usually so dirty, but his was very clean — like a temple.
He had every kind of modern apparatus, including a calf-raise machine. The maximum weight it takes is 860 pounds, but they usually use between 400 and 600 pounds. They never try even 700 pounds.
I wanted to show off. So without warming up, I said, “Let me do 400 pounds.” Then I did 600 pounds and finally I did 860 pounds.
Wilkosz couldn’t believe that I did it. He knew that I had done a 2,000-pound calf raise, but when he saw me do the maximum of 860 pounds on his machine, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
Nowadays, with my left leg I can do 1,200 pounds and with my right leg I can do 800 or 1,000 pounds. In spite of that I can’t walk properly. When I told him that, he advised me not to eat meat. He eats meat once a week, but he was advising me not to eat meat at all.
— 26 May 1987
Listening to a 'great' musicianWhile Databir was driving me to an Indian store the other day, he was playing a musical tape. For about two minutes I listened to the music and inwardly I was so moved. I said to myself, “How I wish I could play like that!”
Then I asked Databir, “Do you know the name of the person who is playing?” I was being sincere. There was no mischief behind my question.
Databir said, “Guru, it’s your synthesizer tape.”
I had never dreamed that I was the one playing. It was far beyond my remotest imagination. I didn’t even recognise the instrument!
For another ten minutes I soulfully and devotedly listened to the tape with genuine admiration and rapt attention.
— 12 June 1987
I am not your boss!About five years ago I was giving a concert in Canada. About 500 or 700 people were in the audience. As I came off the stage, somebody came from behind me and fell at my feet. Immediately I recognised Chander, who had been one of my sectional bosses when I worked at the Indian Consulate in New York.
I said, “O God, you are my boss!”
He said, “Inwardly I am not your boss!” He had felt something in me and had seen me in another consciousness.
— 24 June 1987
The area code criminalWhen we were in the Holiday Inn in St. Louis, I wanted to call Queens but I couldn’t remember if the area code was 718 or 708.
The operator said, “You live there and you can’t remember your area code?”
I said, “Is it a crime if you can’t remember your number?”
She asked me where I wanted to call and I said, “Queens.” She couldn’t understand my pronunciation, so I said, “It is the feminine of king.”
So I was teaching her vocabulary and she was teaching me pronunciation.
— 27 June 1987