Monday, April 1, 2013

A New York Minute - My Guru Story

Namaste readers...I'm typing this at 3:30 AM Eastern Time in the US, so if I'm a bit incoherent, it's because I'm sleep-deprived. Moving on...

Some of you readers know that I follow the Art of Living and have His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as my guru. Well, this weekend in New York City, I got to meet him in person, if only for a minute. True story, and yes, I mean it. I met Guruji (as Art of Living followers affectionately call him) for a New York minute.

Even though it was only for a minute, I feel like I've walked away with something awesome. I have a story to tell, right now, and even though I forget what Gonzo Journalism is right now in my sleep-deprived state, maybe this can qualify, because this story was a roller-coaster for me, and I realize that's the hallmark of any good story. This one was a doozy, but it was worth it.

The reason I feel this way is because I've had both extremes of emotion during my trip. The time I met Guruji was in the Art of Living Center in New York City, where he held a satsang for volunteers who worked on the Non-Vio launch event earlier that day. On this particular day, I was anxious, but open to being happy, for lack of a better term. To quote the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, I was a man on the move, and just sick enough to be totally confident.

At the satsang, he greeted everyone who showed up, but for me, he stopped for that proverbial New York minute, and the (very short) conversation that followed went like this:

"How are you doing?" asked Guruji.

"Good," I replied tentatively.

"Are you happy?" Guruji asked me, with what seemed like genuine curiosity.

I must've resembled a deer in headlights for a moment, but I managed to stammer out "uh, yes!" He moved on at that point.

He gave a talk, which I don't remember too clearly at this moment, but as he was leaving the building like Elvis Presley, I managed to get his attention for one last statement from me - "yes, I'm happy!" If I wasn't earlier, I certainly was then.

The next day I went to the Non-Vio volunteer convention in New Jersey. That day, for reasons I can't clearly remember, I wasn't quite as receptive to being happy. In fact, as Guruji was giving darshan near the end to all the people crowding to get to him, I couldn't take the animated crowd and all the commotion. I developed a bona-fide panic attack and had to leave the presentation hall. The rest of the day afterwards, I was so on edge and anxious I could not calm down for the longest time.

No I was not happy that day. But I still thought on what Guruji asked me the day before - "are you happy?" With the overall experience of the trip, I'd say a resounding yes. If only for a moment, I was able to step outside my comfort zone, even though I couldn't do so for two days straight. For a New York minute, I felt like I truly went Gonzo...whatever that means.

I accomplished something. Maybe it didn't have quite the happy ending I was looking for, but the story still makes me happy for the fact that I can tell it.


  1. "Are you happy?" That was the first question by him for me too in year 2004 I think.. and only answer I spontaneously gave then is what I keep reminding myself.
    Yes I am happy :-)

  2. I wonder was it a question or a statement or an order or a realization of this life.
    Whole life we struggle or do everything just to be happy and here I am lead to (re)start a life with something which I already have with me !!

  3. Are you happy now Phillip? i guess whenever you feel sad or depressed .. just ask this question to yourself and remember Guruji's words and just feel his presence .. i am sure just that thought will make things all right for you.... happy evenings.. :) take care JGD..!!