Two stories about my parents...
There is a story of the Buddha that, when he first attained enlightenment, even the animals and birds of the forest gathered around him, drawn by his radiance and light. Later, the story goes, as he advanced further in his realisation and wandered in the world to serve others, the birds and animals did not notice him anymore – he had gone beyond that initial realisation and now no self was left to be noticed.
As a seeker this simple story inspired me and reminded me to look for saintliness and spirituality in humility and egolessness rather than in the more overt and obvious manifestations of stature by which we measure others.
My memory of my parents, particularly my mother, is coloured by this perception of things – I consider myself fortunate in having charitable, humble, kind-hearted and loving parents who, even now that both have left this world I remember with much admiration and a reciprocating love. Like her life, my mother's departure from this world was gracious and simple and touched by a certain humility, humour and charm.
I remember her last valedictory wave out of the window as I drove away from our last time together, her face at the window by her bedside, hand aloft, goodbye goodbye. At her funeral Subarata and I played Sri Chinmoy singing Phire Chalo and we read passages from his writings on the nature of life and death – and that the secret of life is that there is no death. I remember that there was a certain feeling in my heart, as though I was participating in or glimpsing some event or experience in the inner world to do with the departing soul.
A month later in New York, I was meditating on the benches while Sri Chinmoy played tennis, and then quite suddenly the same feeling came and I knew my mother was there. At that moment Sri Chinmoy stopped playing tennis, walked back to his gazebo and sat down – then called me over. He told me that my mother's soul had visited him on quite a number of occasions – "In fact," Sri Chinmoy said, "your mother's soul was here just now." I said, "I know Guru, I believe you, just now I really felt she was here." And so Sri Chinmoy confirmed outwardly what I had felt inwardly.
Sri Chinmoy won my mother's heart years earlier on his first visit to New Zealand, in a flute store in Auckland. I introduced her and said, "Guru this is my mother Anne." Sri Chinmoy stood beside me and put his hand on my shoulder and smiled at her with that exquisite divine smile that only he has and said, "I am so proud of your son." That was how in that simple moment my Guru stole my mother's heart.
A Handsome Man
In his last hours at the end of his life, my father lay in a hospital bed, and a very beautiful and powerfully meditative photograph of Sri Chinmoy was on an adjoining table. It was a warm afternoon, kids were playing in a park outside. My father's life was ending, theirs were just beginning – their cries and laughter could be heard in the still room. Then a nurse came in and, mistaking Sri Chinmoy's photo for that of my father, commented, "My, but your father was a handsome man when he was younger!" She found Sri Chinmoy in his meditative aspect to be very handsome.