The Impact of a Yogi on My Life
Agni (José Luis Casanova) was an early disciple of Sri Chinmoy from Puerto Rico. In 1966, Puerto Rico became the first place where Sri Chinmoy established a spiritual centre.
Agni was a founding member of the Puerto Rico centre and arranged Sri Chinmoy's early meetings, interviews and activities in Puerto Rico. In those early days, Agni served as photographer, translator and transcriber for his Master Sri Chinmoy. The following article was written by Agni on 4 September 1968.
When I met Sri Chinmoy Kumar Ghose, I was vanquished, defeated, done for, dead, or so I thought. For the ordinary common occupations of human life I was pretty much alive and kicking. I had congenial work; perfect health – the Supreme had seen fit to endow me with a strong body that seems to resist all disease or discomfort, for which I thank Him – family and friends are very comforting. But I never intended to live a humdrum ordinary human life, I had aimed at the Transcendental Knowledge, I had wanted to possess the Absolute Truth.
In my way to the top of this seemingly inaccessible peak I had been cut and bruised and with mind and heart scarred from the multiple falls through abysmal precipices I had been forced to quit the race, not with cowardice in my heart but with a realistic feeling that I by myself without somebody else’s help was actually unable to reach the Goal. In this dark night of the human soul was I, sometimes wondering if it were not best to dissolve into nothingness, to cease to be a conscious being, to fuse forever in the shadows of not being, when I met Sri Chinmoy.
What he saw in my ragged and bloody sinews he has never told me, but instantly he started to work in me. With his Infinite Compassion he projected from himself into my being a green ray of new life. This new life took root in me. Mind and body were revitalised, hope reborn. Talents long forgotten that lay rusty in the recesses of my consciousness came again to life as if by a magic touch.
"You have got a Guru, Agni, so your problem is over and your aspiration is most intense. I say it with the very depth of my heart that this Guru of yours will never fail you. You will always be in the inmost recesses of his heart. He will carry you, carry you to the Golden Shore of the Beyond."
A conversation with Agni, 15 January 1968
All doubts and negative feelings that had for so long cluttered my mind and heart started to melt away like snow at the caress of the summer sun. My problems and difficulties, the long-standing obstacles that had so long remained totally blocking my advance were dissolved in the light of his Wisdom Divine. And more important than everything, I am becoming more and more open to his all-pervading Purity. To be sure, I have not reached my Goal yet but it makes all the difference in the world when you are travelling with the help of an experienced and all-powerful guide who has been there and who can carry you by the safest and least precipitous way.
Ordinarily we approach God-Knowledge or Truth transcendental as we would approach any other subject or mundane science. We know there is a mountain and we want to climb it in our own way and by our own forces. Soon Sri Chinmoy pointed to us the fallacy of this approach. It is God’s Grace that can bring us to a happy rendezvous with our Goal. We have to surrender ourselves, all that we are and have at the Feet of the Supreme; devotedly, lovingly we need to make use of the wings of the soul that heeds always the homecoming call of the Father. It is no abstract task for the mind to perform with a mathematical formula, it is more a task for the heart, for our whole being.
To travel with Sri Chinmoy is like travelling in a modern jet plane. The ease of the take-off, the immense power of the engines, the loving care and attention, the smooth powerful climb, all is there. The certainty of exact flying instruments and a wise and knowing captain are there also. Some persons approaching him for the first time are totally deceived by his humble demeanour, his kind, affectionate talk and his simple dress devoid of all ostentation. If they do not possess a real inner call they most probably will pass him by without recognising for one second his real grandeur. Others, unable to accept the fact that it is only by surrendering ourselves to God that we can reach Him, drop away on the wayside. Little do they realise that in their hope of possessing the material pleasures and objects they are surrendering themselves daily to be enslaved by the same things they want to possess. But Sri Chinmoy promptly demonstrates to his faithful disciples that by surrendering to God we lose nothing at all and on the other hand we gain infinite freedom. What do we surrender after all? The fears, limitations, worries, egotism, desires and frustrations. What do we gain? Bliss, Peace, Infinite Joy, real joy of living, enduring joy.
There are others who think in a limited capacity. They think of themselves as buckets, they bring to the Master their personal doubts and problems and when those are solved, they think that their buckets are now full and that they have no need for the fountain. Little do they realise that Truth, infinite Truth is always recreating Itself. You can no more live today on yesterday’s thoughts than you can live and function in the physical body upon what you ate yesterday. Those lucky ones who remain with the Master come to realise that we are not buckets but channels, that Truth has to flow in us and through us in an ever new form, every second, every day. If we are contented with solving our problems of today, new and gloomier ones will haunt us tomorrow; but if we become a true living channel for the Divine Wisdom, the Light flowing in us and through us will dispel all ignorance and darkness, the father and mother of all our problems. Then a day will come when, enamoured with that Light that permeates our beings, we become a part of the Light itself.
We in contemporary America live in an age of miracles. Powerful planes let us fly through the air like the magicians of the sunk Atlantis as related by Plato. Incredible rockets roar toward the moon and planets leaving trails of flame and smoke behind, the atom has been harnessed, in a positive aspect to provide energy for our necessities and activities and in a negative aspect to serve as Damocles’ sword hanging over the head of proud homo sapiens, menacing his very existence here on earth. But there are other miracles of a more quiet nature that totally escape the headlines. The alleviation of suffering and healing of disease at the touch of the hand. Infusing new energy, new life and new courage into a broken-down individual; giving us something to look for, a hope and faith in these troubled modern times. All these are miracles of more lasting if not resounding effects. This are the kinds of miracles that the disciples of Sri Chinmoy see happening around him every day. His childlike innocence, his simple personality devoid of fanfare or self-aggrandisement contributes to having these miracles pass utmost unobserved but miracles they are indeed and of the first order.
What can you expect if you become a disciple of Sri Chinmoy? If you have burning aspiration to realise God, to attain to Truth and Divine Wisdom, he can fan your aspiration into a radiant flame that will carry you way up to the Highest. If you come to sail with him in his boat, he will carry you to the Golden Shore of the Beyond. There is no problem that he cannot solve and no doubt that he cannot clear as he himself is a perfect channel for the Divine Light and Wisdom to flow toward us. What do you have to bring? Sincerity, aspiration and a willingness to place yourself consciously and soulfully at the Feet of the Supreme.
Agni was a spiritual name given by Sri Chinmoy. It refers to the fire-god and god of aspiration. Agni passed away on 14 March 1974. Sri Chinmoy later named his own publishing house as "Agni Press" in memory of Agni.
This article was published in "A Caravan of Dreams" (2020), compiled by Vidagdha Bennett