I became conscious and that was it
by Rupantar LaRusso
I was a classic unconscious seeker. I was an English literature major in college. I remember I was in my last semester and I had to write out a curriculum listing the courses I wanted to take. I saw a course on Eastern religions. I knew nothing about it and enjoyed reading; that was why I had taken that literature major. So I thought, “Let’s take this course.”
It was during the second class that the teacher mentioned the word “meditation”. I had never heard the word before. I thought, “Gee, that sounds interesting.” So I got on the line to talk to the teacher and ask him if he could recommend a book on meditation. I was interested to read a book on meditation. At that time there was a disciple of Sri Chinmoy’s in the class. He told me afterwards that he never, ever did this before: he just walked up to me and interrupted me on the line and started talking to me. Basically, as soon as he spoke one word, I became a disciple. I had never heard the words ‘meditation’ or ‘yoga’ before – nothing. I was an Italian, living in New Rochelle, in a narrow environment. But as soon as he said one word, that was it. Becoming vegetarian – no problem; cutting your hair – no problem (I never had long hair anyway). There were no problems for me at all. I was lucky. I was totally unconscious, and as soon as he said one word I became conscious and that literally was it.
I asked this disciple hundreds of questions every day. I became a member of the Connecticut Centre in Wilton. At that time (May 1971), the Centre was getting quite big and it was difficult to see Guru (Sri Chinmoy) during the meditation. What was unique was that, after the meditation, Guru would come downstairs and sit with us and everyone would be eating cookies and drinking milk right in front of Guru. You could just go up to Guru and say, “Hi, Guru, how are you?” Guru was there for everyone to talk to.