Friday, September 19, 2008

That First Look

It was Guru Poornima 2001 at Lake Tahoe, CA , USA. A few of us who had recently completed Part I (then known as the Basic Course) were driving up to meet Sri Sri Ravishankar - the founder of the Art Of Living Foundation. My thoughts were varied as we drove up.

I was not yet a devotee. I had only just finished my course. I had no clue or direct experience of AOL as an organization. It was the July 4th long weekend and all my friends were out traveling / celebrating .

I vaguely remember my sharing at the end of the Basic Course -....ramblings....more ramblings....teacher says ' say 1 thing' ....I say: "This is going to be an important part of my life from now on" .

Well it was important enough for me to say "No" to my friends on a long weekend and join a bunch of singing, ecstatic folks driving 5 hours north up to Lake Tahoe to see someone, I knew nothing about .

When I look back I realize, this pull was irresistible, I had no other choice.

We were accompanied by people that were mostly strong devotees. Occasionally they would ride along for a small part of the journey and sing bhajans or talk knowledge or discuss Guru stories. All this was strange to me.

Finally we reached the beautiful South Lake Tahoe and drove along to the resort where Sri Sri was conducting an advanced course. We parked and started walking towards the venue when IT happened.

A frail looking man with flowing hair and a beard was walking towards a car parked in front of the venue. Accompanying him were about 10 swamis - evident from their shaven heads and saffron robes. Those were the days when Sri Sri was still relatively accessible in the US. He walked to the waiting cars and waited for the swamis to take their seats first . I still distinctly remember him saying "Banni....Koothkoli.....Koothkoli" (Kannada for 'Please come - be seated').

As he passed me, I waited and stood still not quite knowing what the appropriate response ought to be. I was not yet in love - just saw Him for the first time - respect I did have - not really sure . Thus spake my mind as He passed me and gave me - the look - and as I bowed - walked on .

"Banni ...Koothkoli.....Koothkoli"....the cars were filled up and He was gone . Little did I realize then that the LOOK would change my life forever.

My next opportunity to see him was at satsang that evening - my first satsang with HIM. The room was abuzz....Divya, John and other old-timers rocking the satsang, folks in the room seated with eyes closed, folks at the edge swaying in a trance....all strange yet strangely comfortable and acceptable. 'J' and I were asked to sit close to the stage which we did...and after a while we left. We had decided to only stay for that day (looking back I feel like a fool) .

As soon as we left the room, we looked at each other and said the same thing " I still don't think he is God or anything :)" . Looking back I always smile broadly.

Looks :

A devotee , NR , now in the Bay Area, tells me of his look. Guruji arrived for satsang in the Bangalore Ashram and passing him , gave him the look. Since that moment, NR did not smoke or drink or while his weekends getting drunk with friends. His life changed and he is an AOL teacher today .

Someone shared something beautiful about their "look" today - so beautiful and true : His look was more loving than a mother's, more concerned than a father's ,more intimate than a partner's and more caring than a friend's. I could not have said it any better.

Over the years there were many more such looks - each one a definitive milestone on the path of grace and growth . More about them in later posts.

Did you have a look that influenced/changed your life ? Please share it in the comments.

Jai Guru Dev,


  1. wow!!!!

    that was so ................

    just great!!!

    I think i had the first look in Guru's kutir(Ganga Kutir) wow... hmm i dnt know him much (it was 2-3 months after the basic course-2006) man... eyes met! i really dnt want to go near him.. just blank.. just dnt want to go him 3 feet near me, 2 feet near me, 1 feet near me and i got 1 feet farther and his eyes fixed on me... i wonder why it was... i still havent figured out anything! But i know onething for sure i am going to become a teacher soon (sooner than i think!:) )

    Jai Gurudev!

  2. Jai Gurudev Aparnata ,
    wonderful sharing. are becoming a teacher soon. Can anything be more beautiful ?

  3. Guru - The search is On

  4. I did my first advanced course at ashram in June this year where I had a first glimpse of Guru g. This soothing first glimpse turned to a longing which is seeking suffice! Then 2-3 days went even more restless when he dint even give me an eye throughout the course of Satsangs in d evening. The next day he met the YES plus people one by one, but as my turn came, a flow of people surrounded him..and I could only touch his feet! It was an instant relief to have touched the lord ! Few hourse after I overcame the happiness of having touched him, the restlessness again began to create trouble ! Din't I deserve a single glare of d guru on me ...and to bring me satiation, the next day I was sitting the closest ever to him in d VM, and he looked at me for i dont knw how many times! But the longing dint end, but increased.

    I have had never felt the same before, it is a different kind of attachment :)))

  5. @hobo - good luck with your search ! I love what Guruji says about gurus - A guru is too big for you to make. When someone is ready, a Guru comes in your life .

    @bhanuja : beautiful sharing. longing is so beautiful yet painful. as Guruji says "love can never be complete because of longing". Happy longing to us all !
    and those lotus feet ...ahh...

    Jai Guru Dev.