Friday, March 22, 2013

Daily Meditation on my Gurudeva - Days 9-14


Day 9
 This one is hard to look at. It brings up so many emotions: loss, sadness, regret, resentment, confusion. I’ll never forget where I was when he left his body. My wife, Kadamba mala, and I were in the car heading to Gita-nagari from New Jersey. We were about half way there when my cell phone rang. It was an automated voice announcing that he had departed. And that was it. He was gone. By the time we made it to Gita-nagari and the Institute House the devotees were milling around. There was a heavy atmosphere of sadness and loss. It was quiet and sober. There was a small group of devotees in his quarters, preparing his body for the last rites. I didn’t see his body until it was brought out on a palanquin and marched in a procession of kirtan down to the temple room.
When I finally had the opportunity to approach his body and offer flower petals, I looked down at his lifeless face and closed eyes. Mother Vraja-lila was standing next to me. I think she put her hand on my back. I can’t remember. She handed me a stick of maha-incense. I didn’t know what to feel. I felt empty. I felt speechless. I felt like I failed him by not staying true to my vows. I held back my tears and quickly scurried away into the crowd of assembled devotees.
Part of me felt resentment for a while. I always wondered why he didn’t pursue more traditional cancer treatment therapies. I would wonder if he would still be with us physically if he had gone through chemotherapy instead of heading down to a jungle in South America to visit a healer. I know, it sounds terrible to even write that, but I don’t say it out of spite. I say it with love and attachment to him. Maybe it’s just selfish on my part anyway, because I’m thinking how I would have liked for him to meet my daughter and to be able to dance in kirtan with him and to be able to talk to him. It could just be my selfishness resenting the choices he made when he discovered the cancer.
I can’t talk too much more about this image. I don’t feel like crying right now, as I’m at work before the day begins. I’ll just say to wrap this up, part of me is glad I didn’t see him like this in person. I would have been devastated. I wasn’t there to see the gradual progression to this state, so it would have been a terrible shock to see him lying there like this, unresponsive and so close to death. I probably would have lost it. Maybe knowing this Krishna saved me from the pain of witnessing him in this condition, because the last time I had seen him in person he was still bright and fresh and smiling.
I also wanted to say that this image really makes me confront my own mortality. It’s a stark reminder of the fate that awaits us all; a fate that many of us don’t want to think about. My Gurudeva was a shining example of how to embrace and accept this fate. He stayed true and strong until the end. I hope that my departure from this material world can be even just a tiny bit as glorious and auspicious as his was.
Day 10
Soaked in sweat and effulgent. A familiar sight considering the way in which my Gurudeva would lead kirtans. I wasn’t here and I’m not sure where this is, but it appears that he is sitting on the Vyasasana and singing Jaya Radha-Madhava before giving class. Is that Sri Hanuman in the background? Or is it Sri Varahadeva? I can’t tell. It’s an interesting photo composition though. My Gurudeva’s profile paralleled with the profile behind him. It looks as if the Deity is controlling my Guru Maharaja, like a puppet, with His arms inside my Gurudeva’s back, making him move and speak. How fitting, as everything my Gurudeva did and said was not from the platform of his own desires and wants. He was truly the “transparent via medium” for Sri Guru to manifest and act on this material plane. My Gurudeva knew my heart so intimately and when he would speak to me, it wasn’t John Favors or Bhakti Tirtha Swami talking to me, it was Sri Guru/Paramatma. This Bhakti Tirtha Swami was just the outward, external form in which Sri Guru was appearing and speaking to me.
Day 11
What an incredibly sweet photo and moment captured in time. It embodies the compassion and love that my Gurudeva carried within his heart for all living entities. When I see this photo I feel jealous and sad, because I wish that my daughter had had the opportunity to meet my Guru Maharaja and to receive his direct blessings and mercy, not only as a baby, but as she grows up over the years.
Of course, it’s all karma isn’t it? The people that we meet, the blessings we receive, the experiences we have, the sadhus that we encounter. I could say the baby in this photo is fortunate, but aren’t we all fortunate having come in contact with the process and path of bhakti? In one way or another that mercy is coming down through the parampara and touching us all in some capacity. The real question is: what do we do with that mercy and those blessings that we receive? A baby can meet a sadhu yet end up becoming a completely mundane materialist with no devotional inclination. On the other hand, one can grow up in a meat-eating, materialistic family and later take up the process of devotional service to go on and become quite spiritually advanced.
I pray to my Gurudeva to not waste the blessings and mercy that I have received. I pray to always appreciate them and to be aware of my great fortune. I pray to never see Krishna Consciousness as just another religion. It’s all about the consciousness and the soul. It’s all about loving and serving God and His devotees.
Day 12
This is an iconic, famous photo of my Gurudeva with Nelson Mandela. I don’t know what this event was, nor do I know the details of what my Gurudeva would talk about with Mandela. It does go to show however that his interest was in trying to preach to the upper echelons of society. He wanted to reach the leaders and the people with influence and power. This is why he was so interested in meeting with or getting on the Oprah Winfrey show (it unfortunately never materialized before he departed).
The thing that interests me most about this photo is his Nrsimhadeva cane in the foreground. I had once heard the story that it was carved for him by a man named “Uncle Nanda” and that this man came to my Guru Maharaja when a lot of leaders were falling down and leaving ISKCON. He came to my Gurudeva and told him that Srila Prabhupada didn’t want him to leave ISKCON and that he should stay within the society to try and help heal it. There was also a story about how this Uncle Nanda and my Gurudeva stayed in a room for three days without eating or sleeping and that he taught my Gurudeva about subtle, psychic things, like astral projection and the like. Then I heard this Uncle Nanda had revealed his form on the astral plane as a unicorn or Pegasus. Uhh…yeah.
I can’t remember the name of the devotee that told me these stories. It was while I was at the Potomac temple. My Guru Maharaja was in some meetings and I was chanting japa outside when this devotee started talking to me. Come to think of it, I don’t even know where that devotee is now or what happened to him. Were his stories some crazy flights of the imagination? Or did those things really happen in some capacity? I don’t know for certain. Surely my Guru Maharaja would have never talked about those things with me even if I inquired. (On a side note, one time I asked him if he remembered his past lives and his previous relationship(s) with Srila Prabhupada. I remember it vividly. We were driving back from the Lewistown Walmart, just he and I in the car. He was quiet and grave and responded with an emotionless, “Uh, yes. To some degree” (or something like that. His exact words are vague now). Then he was silent and his energy indicated that I shouldn’t be asking him those kinds of questions. So anyway, if I asked him about Uncle Nanda I’m sure it would be a similar response.
Like I said, I don’t know if those stories are true, but I do know that I can’t look at that old cane of his and not think about all these things.
Day 13
This is a tiny, low-resolution picture, but the moment is so sweet. I remember when my Guru Maharaja used to do this in kirtans. He was such a transcendental MC (master of ceremonies). He would guide the devotees how to dance and have us following his moves. It was never in an egotistical way. It was in a spirit of community and getting everyone involved and absorbed in the kirtan and Holy Name.
Recently a god brother of mine posted a video on my Facebook wall of some intense kirtan. There were three or four devotees in the kirtan that started doing crazy break dancing moves, like doing the worm across the temple room floor and doing back spins. At one point a devotee was sitting on the ground with his leg behind his neck then he jumped up and did a head stand, flashing his kaupins for everyone to see. I couldn’t believe how self-centered and egotistical they were being. They turned it into a mundane dance contest with no focus on the Holy Name, the Deities or the other devotees present. It was just like, “Hey! Look at me!” Maybe I shouldn’t judge like that. Maybe they were experiencing some deep bhava and it was being expressed in that way. But still, even if it were some kind of genuine bhava they shouldn’t let it out like that or display it in such a way as to make people question their motives. Srila Prabhupada never did head spins and splits, nor did my Guru Maharaja. When my Gurudeva did “let himself go” the temple room would light up with ecstasy and joy, but it was never all about him. It was like his enthusiasm and spiritual emotions would spill out to everyone around him and make everyone else feel enlivened in devotional service. It would be an encouraging thing, not an excluding thing. You would feel inspired as he would dance wildly, not thinking, “This Swami is just showing off.”
In this photo he’s parting the devotees into two sides to create a sort of aisle. Then he would push devotees into the aisle to dance along to the end or sometimes they would dance down to one end and then come back to where they began. It was sweet and loving. If put the spotlight on everyone and gave everyone a chance to express themselves in the kirtan. So beautiful, so wonderful. That was my Gurudeva’s mood and it flowed from his kirtans.
Day 14
More kirtan. My Guru Maharaja was known for his kirtans. Everyone knew when he was leading the kirtan there was going to be a lot of dancing. In this particular photo he’s walking down the streets of New York City at the Ratha Yatra festival. I don’t think it was this year that I was with him, but seeing this photo reminds me of a memory.
Gurudeva had to go to the bathroom. So he asked Agnideva to find a restroom for him. The problem was that we were walking down a street with no public restrooms. There were just various businesses. We ended up heading into some sort of shopping mall or large chain store, like a Macy’s or something. I was following behind Agnideva and my Guru Maharaja, weaving around customers in the store. We passed by the clothing section, then the perfume and make up section then through the shoes. We were trying to find the elevator. I remember we were all soaked with sweat. What a sight it must have been for the people in that store: a black Hare Krishna with two white Hare Krishnas, all sweaty and speedily darting through the aisles.
We finally made it to the elevator, which we had to share with the shoppers. The silence was more awkward than usual in an elevator. After we found the restroom and my Gurudeva went we did the same sprint back through the store. We then had to weave through the crowds of people on the sidewalk to get back to the kirtan procession.
Such a simple and insignificant memory, but it’s a memory I cherish, just as everyone moment I had with my Guru Maharaja.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Daily Meditation on my Gurudeva - Day 8: "Blissful Life"

This is bliss. No worries, no anxieties. Just dancing, chanting, feasting. Sure, being a Swami isn’t all fun and games. It’s physically and mentally draining to travel around the world and to deal with the effects of different time zones. And then to have to be fully available and present for the devotees by talking to them, hearing their problems, taking on their anxieties, etc. Of course I’d rather have these “problems” of life than the mundane problems of “babies, bills and business” (as I once heard Hridayananda Maharaja say in an old lecture).

Sometimes I think about this disconnect between sannyasi-life and the life of the average grihasta living out in the world and having to deal with so much mundane stuff. That’s not to say there’s no such thing as an ideal house holder life or like you can’t be Krishna Conscious while being married and working out in the world. It’s just sometimes a million times harder than being a temple devotee or living with nothing else to do but chant, read and eat prasadam.

My Guru Maharaja laughed at me in an email once and said it was funny that I was thinking life would be easier living out of the temple. It said it could be easier if one becomes “somewhat of a cheater”. But yeah, to genuinely practice sadhana-bhakti and to be married with kids and dealing with a job and bills and money, it just becomes a real distraction. It’s much harder to chant 16, quality rounds when you don’t live in the temple. It’s also much harder to eat only prasadam.

Anyway, I didn’t mean for this to become a ramble of excuses about why it’s harder being a devotee living outside than being a sannyasi or a temple devotee. I guess seeing my Guru Maharaja and these sannyasis laughing and dancing and having a blissful time made me a little jealous. Is that wrong to feel jealous? Or does it foster some desire within my heart to head towards that ideal life?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Daily Meditation on my Gurudeva - Day 7: "Spiritual Espionage"

This is what I call my Gurudeva’s “preaching-vesa”. “Vesa” is the appearance or dress of someone. I think some devotees (and even sometimes disciples) were confused by my Guru Maharaja’s preaching style. They didn’t understand why he was circulating through the New Age circles and writing books about UFOs, pyramids, psychic phenomenon and the like. He wasn’t attached to those things. He was simply dovetailing everything into Krishna Consciousness and preaching to those particular people that had those particular interests.
I think my Gurudeva unfairly became labeled as being outside of the parampara and introducing speculation into the process of bhakti as it had been given by Srila Prabhupada. Of course not everyone thought this about him, but it was easy to come to this conclusion based on the external appearances. But no matter whom he was preaching to his focus was on pleasing Srila Prabhupada and serving his mission of spreading Krishna Consciousness around the planet.
I’ll never forget the one time during a darshan where he asked the assembled devotees, (paraphrasing) “Who is the more important preacher? The one on the front line distributing books or the undercover preacher performing spiritual espionage?” Someone up front, like four feet away from him, responded without hesitating, “The frontline preacher!” My Guru Maharaja leapt from his chair, pointed at the disciple and shouted, “That’s your NONSENSE, you nonsense!” The disciple quickly scurried backwards. He then said, “It’s the espionage soldier!”
His point was that it’s one thing to go out on the street and give a random stranger a book compared to infiltrating groups of people that have far-reaching influence and power. In terms of preaching, it would be far more effective to turn Oprah Winfrey into a Krishna bhakta than some Joe Shmo at a Vans Warped concert.
This isn’t to say that one way of preaching is better than another or to criticize the book distributors who are out there serving Srila Prabhupada. It’s just the point that’s coming up from seeing my Gurudeva dressed in his Neru jacket and hat. It was easy to misunderstand his purpose and to only perceive what he was doing externally, rather than understanding the essence. It didn’t matter what he was wearing. It mattered that he was doing whatever it took to try and reach the most jivas possible. He truly embodied the spirit of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, whose mission was to preach to the upper echelons of society. My Guru Maharaja was going for the “big fish”: the leaders of movements, executives, doctors, lawyers, etc. If it meant he had to dress like an African king or a New Age psychic it didn’t matter to him. The thing that mattered most was pleasing Srila Prabhupada.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Daily Meditation on my Gurudeva - Day 6: "Gravity"


Gravity. That’s what this photo of my Guru Maharaja exudes. He wasn’t all Cheshire cat grin and laughter all of the time. Many times when I was with him his mood was like this: introspective, quiet, serious, grave. We hear that the word “guru” can be translated as “heavy” and my Gurudeva could be “heavy” with the best of them. His “heaviness” came from the gravity that he possessed.

I’m starting to realize these reflections can start heading into a glorification of the 26-Vaishnava qualities that my Guru Maharaja manifested. I don’t mean for this, nor want this, to become some sort of empty, pontification of a disciple fawning over his Spiritual Master. I want these reflections to go deeper, like it was for the Day 1 meditation. I don’t want this to become another emotionless routine or ritual.

So this gravity he possessed, why did he possess it and what does it mean to me? Obviously he was acutely aware of his vows and mission to serve Srila Prabhupada. That was his life and soul. He took time management very seriously and never wanted to waste a moment not somehow serving. This is in stark contrast to my frivolity and strong affinity for time wasting.

Where does one get this seriousness and determination in devotional service? It really, truly is a priceless gift and blessing from Sri Guru. Without being serious on this path of bhakti, how will we ever make progress? If we don’t take chanting or our vows or any other devotional practices seriously then how could we ever attain any tangible results? We’ll just start to think, “Yeah, this chanting stuff doesn’t work. I’ll just go watch TV.”

Being grave is essential to cultivating true bhakti. It comes from an awareness of our mortality and our limited time in these bodies. It comes from being committed to the higher cause of serving the needs and wants of Sri Guru and not our own minds and senses. It comes from a sense of responsibility towards Sri Guru. If we’re really in touch with and deeply connected with Paramatma then we’ll always be aware of His presence. We’ll always be thinking, “I don’t want to waste time in this sense gratification, because Sri Guru is watching me and this wouldn’t be pleasing to Him.”

This is a quality I also sorely lack. I usually just end up being tossed around by the whims of my mind. I pray to my Gurudeva in this grave mood that he please also bless me with genuine gravity so that I can take this process of devotional service much more seriously.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Daily Meditation on my Gurudeva - Day 5


This is a version of my Gurudeva that I am very familiar with. When I think of him this is how I most remember his activities and mood. Sure, there was the preaching with the different outfits and all of that, which I also remember, but this was like his real, inner mood manifesting. The kirtans were always so ecstatic when he was there leading. Complete abandonment of ego and just getting lost in the Holy Name and connecting with other Vaishnavas in the heart. That’s what his kirtans were. They were pure magic.
In this photo he’s holding that favorite drum of his. Sometimes he would let someone else hold the drum while he would keep the stick and continue to play it while singing and dancing. I remember one time being so fortunate to have this service. For some reason this drum reminds me of Sri Abhirama Thakur’s “whip” (which is also said to really be a bamboo rod) named Jaya Mangala. Not that my Gurudeva would hit people with the drum or drumstick, but just thinking of the similarities of the blessings this object could bestow.
I’m not saying that drum gave me Krishna-prema, but maybe I received a little drop of mercy from engaging in my Gurudeva’s personal service. That tiny drop of mercy has been the only reason I keep coming back to Krishna Consciousness. I think without that mercy I would have fallen away a long time ago and totally re-assimilated myself back into the world of maya. I jumped back into the ocean of maya with gusto back in 2002, but by some causeless grace, even then, I could never totally forget about Krishna.
Maybe that drum did have some magic in it. Or maybe, more likely, I was fortunate enough to have served and been in the presence of a pure Vaishnava such as His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Tirtha Swami.

Daily Meditation on my Gurudeva - Day 4

  

Gita-nagari. Not sure of the year. I remember putting that turban on his head up at the Institute House before the ceremony began. I remember being nervous that I didn’t want to bend his ear or scratch his head or make the turban too tight or something. For some reason he really liked this style of turban.

Yeah, that’s me up in the front. I don’t even remember that guy. Clean shaven, young, stereotypical round framed glasses on a monk, straight tilak. I was sitting in front of the fire yajna pit, assisting Brahma-muhurta (which basically meant just making sure the fire didn’t go out). See that grave look on my face? I was serious. Dead serious, because I knew I shouldn’t have been sitting there. I shouldn’t have been part of such a sacred ceremony, because by this point I knew I was a markata-vairagyi, a monkey renunciate. I had no right even wearing saffron. I had been struggling with sex desire and was contemplating putting on white.

For whatever reason my Guru Maharaja constantly encouraged me to stay on the path of brahmacarya and urged me to see these temporary set backs as just little bumps in the road. Even after I went to West Africa I thought the message from Krishna was to become more honest about my level of surrender and to stop pretending to be a brahmacari. But my Gurudeva again contradicted those feelings in my heart and told me I was overacting to the test. It was almost like he was insistent that I stay a brahmacari.

Looking back, I now know why he was so encouraging, loving and supportive of me staying on the path of renunciation. He knew my putting on white (changing ashrams) and moving out of the temple wasn’t going to be a solution. He knew it was going to ultimately bring more misery, pain and suffering. He was trying to protect me. Even with my faults as a so-called celibate monk, he didn’t want me to give up, give in and try to take the easy way out. He wanted me to fight, to persevere, to overcome, to reaffirm my vows. He wanted me to see the challenges and “fall downs” as a catalyst to become stronger. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be what he desired of me. I instead pursued my own desires, my own plans and I am now enjoying the “roller coaster ride”, as he once told me I would be. In the symbolism of this photo he is hovering above me, lovingly trying to guide me. That’s what he was trying to do all along. But I was too young, too na├»ve, too lazy and too selfish to do the needful.


At this initiation ceremony he was still lovingly trying to engage me in service. Just like Sri Nityananda Prabhu, he was overlooking my faults, not holding them against me. He wasn’t thinking, “Jayadeva is much too contaminated or fallen to engage in this seva.” This is such an amazing Vaishnava quality. A Vaishnava does not look at someone in the context of their past transgressions. They don’t hold grudges or resentment or look down at others because of their past sinful actions. It’s a quality that I also need to sorely develop.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Daily Meditation on my Gurudeva - Day 3



I saw this photo for the first time when I was in Benin, Nigeria back in 2000. It was a window into the past of a version of my Guru Maharaja that I had never known. I don’t know the history of this photo, like where it was taken, what year, etc. I would assume it’s a photo of him in West Africa.
Everyone knows by now the stories of my Guru Maharaja preaching in West Africa and how he came to the conclusion to go and preach there. When I traveled there and came back psychologically/emotionally beaten and defeated we had a few email exchanges. This first quote is from when I was still in Nigeria and the quote following is from when I had already returned to Gita-nagari:
"Africa of course is an especially difficult place. Benin is full of subtle influences. Anyway you will grow from this experience. As soon as you are strong enough to return you can come back. But, if later you want to visit Ghana for one or two weeks before you come back then you can. Ghana is not as difficult as Nigeria. We have a lot of services here for you so the devotees of course will be happy to see you. Now you can understand a little better of some of the things I have had to do in trying to spread Krishna consciousness in different parts of the world." 
 
"Even when I am in Nigeria, I am never relaxed. How I worked there for so many years is only because I knew that Srila Prabhupada would want me to do this work. Somehow Krishna was very kind to me because I only caught malaria once in all those years. So it seems like taking the neem really helped."

Indeed, I had just experienced first hand the intensity of preaching in such a complex environment (at one point in an email from him he even said to me, "There is so much more use of subtle influence in the African continent. As a matter of fact devotees are always thinking that they are being attacked by each other, unfortunately sometimes it is actually true."). It only goes to prove the level of his empowerment. He didn’t waiver in the face of adversities while there. In stark contrast I folded and caved like a house of cards. A person’s true qualities are revealed in the face of difficulties. Do they run? Do they become stronger? Do they fall back into sense gratification? Do they become more faithful and surrendered?
My Gurudeva’s life and his responses to adversity were proof of his level of spiritual advancement and the spiritual blessings conferred upon him. I can only pray to one day become so fixed and resolute in my own determination and devotion. He walked his talk and was a shining example of success on the path of bhakti.

Daily Meditation on my Gurudeva - Day 2



This is one of the first photographs I had seen of my Guru Maharaja. The very first one I ever saw was from the same photo shoot as this one, but instead of chanting on japa beads he has his hands folded in a praying-hands greeting (namaste). This was during the time he was known as Srila Krishnapada and was pioneering his IFAST preaching strategy. When I first saw that photo it was a photocopied version on the cover an IFAST booklet (from a program that Hladini-shakti and Radha-sundari had arranged in Detroit).
I had been going to the Sunday feasts at the Detroit temple (Fisher Mansion) for some months (back in ’94) when I was informed by Bob Roberts of a new “bhakta program”. I was still a senior in high school at the time, but I decided to make the time to attend the meeting. It was then that I saw this picture of my Guru Maharaja. It struck me and stirred my soul. You sometimes hear about devotees saying they just knew that a particular spiritual master was their guru, whether they heard his voice or saw a photo or met in person.
I didn’t know what I was feeling and I didn't want to just haphazardly accept someone as guru, so I talked to Radha-sundari in her kitchen as she was pouring cold, berry zinger tea for everyone. I explained that I felt like I had a connection with this spiritual master. She said it could definitely be a past life connection, but that I should just keep an open mind and open heart to instructions from everyone and that in time I would know for sure. It was such practical, non-fanatical advice.
After that moment though I knew he was my Gurudeva, just by seeing that small, photocopied version of his photo.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Daily Meditation on my Gurudeva - Day 1

I want to start a daily reflection on my Guru Maharaja. The idea is to find a photo of him, whether online or in my own files, and write something about it: some memories, some reflections, some thoughts. Here is the first photo:

  
This was actually from Lavanga and Krishna Purvaja. I’m not sure how they initially ended up with the photo, but they gave it to my wife to give to me (along with a couple other photos of my Guru Maharaja) some time ago.

This is the photo of my Guru Maharaja that I have framed and sitting on my desk at work. I sometimes notice it and sometimes I don’t. In that way, it’s kind of like the relationship I really had with him. I sometimes thought about him, yet on many other occasions (often while engaged in sense gratification) he was very far away from my mind. Doesn’t this parallel our eternal storyline with Paramatma/Sri Krishna?

From far away I can only make out the reflection on his glasses and his wide, bright smile, like a sort of Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. That smile would light up a room, change people’s consciousness from gloom to happiness. He had a powerful charisma. His energy/aura was powerful and potent. When he would walk into a room, you could feel the atmosphere vibrate with spiritual energy. I miss that nervous excitement of his physical presence. Feeling safe and secure, knowing this was someone who could guide and protect you. I just imagined him walking into my room right now and what that would feel like. I’m trying not to cry as I type this.

The tears are flowing now. Not tears of ecstasy, rather tears of regret. Tears of not being able to follow his instructions. Tears of being a failure. In my last visit with him before he left this planet he apologized to me. He apologized for being “too hard” on me. I was leveled by his humility and replied that the problem was that I was too selfish to appreciate the service. He smiled…and that was the last time I saw him.

The tears start flowing again. Damn it. I wasn’t doing this to cry, but this is where Paramatma has brought me. Down to this river of tears and regret and shame. Down to the core of the heart and soul. I was expecting to blabber on about the garb he was wearing, the room he was in, the rings on his fingers and how those things would trigger memories of physically being around him. But that’s not important here, is it? Isn’t that just more looking at the externals? More illusion? He wasn’t a black man. He wasn’t a sannyasi. He was an embodiment of Guru-tattva and that is what this photo is telling me today.