The Best Metaphor

Now that Sri Chinmoy has gone, life will be different for those of us who had the good fortune to be his students. How will it differ – and how different will be? It’s too early to say. I was pondering this the other day, and it struck me how spoiled we all were for so long.

Consider the famous image of a bearded spiritual man meditating on a mountain top, visited by intrepid pilgrims who would travel for months or years to ask him questions about the meaning of life. Sri Chinmoy’s students could ask their guru such questions in the relative comfort of suburban New York (or whichever exotic part of the world we were all visiting). Even an economy-class Sydney-to-NYC flight on United Airlines wasn’t nearly as challenging as those legendary seekers’ journeys to snow-capped peaks in the Himalayas.

There were other differences, of course. For starters, Sri Chinmoy was clean-shaven. Secondly, the question “What is the meaning of life?” cannot be answered satisfactorily with a few words; it requires inner reflection. However, thanks to his years of meditation, Sri Chinmoy was able to answer our countless questions, both general and (perhaps more frequently) personal. Often, he would reply in silence, leaving it to us to find the answers within ourselves, rather than in his verbal replies. Hopefully, we have now honed that skill to expert levels.

For now it’s up to us.

A friend of mine put it best by saying that, with his passing, Sri Chinmoy has “pressed the reset button.” In his poetry and his prose, Sri Chinmoy had a gift for metaphors, so it’s logical that metaphors are flowing thick and fast from his students. The one I just mentioned, however, is probably the best one I’ve heard.

I mentioned it to some other friends a couple of nights ago, as we dined together in a local park. They all agreed that it was a suitable metaphor. “Let’s just hope that the new program isn’t infected by the mind-virus,” quipped a German guy.

“Mine has been infected for a long time,” I confessed. “I just hope the infection doesn’t completely damage the system.”

“Our Guru was the best anti-virus program,” said my German friend.

“Let’s hope that our meditation contain effective anti-virus software,” said another guy. We all laughed.

We were enjoying ourselves so much with this, even though a casual observer might have been forgiven for thinking (with some accuracy) that we were gradually working this metaphor to death. Nonetheless, I still think the whole “reset” button was a fair description of what has happened. The way we live our lives, from now on, will be just a little bit different.

I’ve been thinking of Sri Chinmoy’s most recent students, who joined his spiritual path in recent months, without ever having a chance to see him... or ask him any questions. (OK, I've met very few of them - one from Melbourne, one from Sydney, a few from Canberra. They were all accepted by Guru in September.) True, they were sad that he is gone, but they are still looking forward to the future - and noting their inspiration, I'm filled with optimism. Our Guru left us with a grand legacy - 1500 books, 20,000 songs, countless recordings and artworks...

With our Guru to guide us, the future looks great.