I want what he has
It was 1978, and I had just moved to New York, to finish my Bachelor of Music degree at Manhattan School of Music. A friend invited me to come to see Sri Chinmoy at a public meditation. At that time Sri Chinmoy used to offer a public meditation once a week at St. Paul’s Chapel, Columbia University. I had not practised formal meditation at that time, and also did not know what having a Master meant for one’s spiritual life. I had taken some classes in Kundalini Yoga, mostly for relaxation, but did not feel at home with it. A few years before, an acquaintance kept asking me, "Have you read the Upanishads yet?" He asked so many times that I ended up walking into a bookstore and requesting a copy of the Upanishads. So I started reading the Upanishads. Some passages I found beautiful, while other passages were incomprehensible to me.
On this particular evening in July of 1978 I entered St. Paul’s Chapel without any expectation. After all, I did not know what a spiritual Master was, and I did not know what meditation was, either. I had been searching for the Truth for a few years, but did not know how to find it! My only advantage that night was that this search of mine had left me quite empty inwardly, bereft of many things that might otherwise have stood in the way... I remember walking up the steps of the chapel that night feeling fresh, with no expectations, as I was totally ignorant of what meditation was, and what a spiritual Master was as well.
I remember sitting in the middle of that church, which holds maybe 2,000 people, and waiting. Sri Chinmoy walked in, dressed in a light blue dhoti. He sat on a floor-level chair with a back support, a chair without legs, on one of the platforms leading to the main altar of this church. He folded his hands in prayer, bowed to the audience, and then proceeded to start meditating in silence.
I did not know how to meditate, and did not know what to do, so I started admiring the architecture of this magnificent church. In Puerto Rico most of our churches are much smaller! During this process of admiring the architecture of the church, I noticed that a cloud of light was advancing from the front of the church, where Sri Chinmoy was, towards the back. This cloud of light seemed to be expanding! So I looked at it in admiration, and asked myself in silence, "What is this light, and where does it come from?"
As soon as I said this, I felt the cloud of light had reached me, and entered into me! This had a most wonderful effect: I felt that this light had washed me completely. It felt, as the evangelicals say in Puerto Rico, como un río de agua viva (like a river of living water), and I felt that it had purified me. I could feel I was washed, divinely washed, inside myself, and I felt real purity.
At this point I felt the need to look at Sri Chinmoy, and as I did, I saw that he was emanating this beautiful light. He was still meditating in silence, but was glowing with this beautiful light which I had just experienced. Immediately I said to myself, "Oh, it’s coming from him!" No sooner had I said this than I felt my heart jumping with joy and saying: "We found it! This is what we have been looking for! We’re home!" It felt like I had a very small child jumping on my shoulder, right next to my left ear. It was so powerful, so vivid, that my mind had no chance to doubt this experience.
Feeling my own joy, I thought, "This is the greatest joy I have felt in my life. I have tried everything, but this is the greatest joy. I am willing to follow this man’s instructions, because I want what he has!" After the meditation was over, one of Sri Chinmoy’s students announced that those who were interested in becoming Sri Chinmoy’s disciples could come and meditate with him. I stood up without thinking!
Sri Chinmoy was then seated on a white chair, towards the right of the church. I knelt in front of him and he asked me my name, and what I did, and then smiled. I had this overwhelming emotion inside me which prompted me to say, "I want to be your disciple, because I have this tremendous need for purity!" I had intuitively felt that his inner light, which I experienced during the meditation, was the purity my heart and soul wanted. Sri Chinmoy smiled.
So this is how my discipleship started.