« My Master is My Life, My Everything »
from a talk given on returning from the Bombay program, January 1996
This was an unbelievable trip, and there aren't enough superlatives that I can think of that would explain how really wonderful and delicious the trip was.
The group of us who are fortunate enough to bring our children, get a perspective that is so very different from those who don't, and I say this because last year I was fortunate enough to go alone. . . . And I'm really glad that I did.
While that first trip was certainly full of love and lessons, this was a trip in heaven, just an absolute trip in heaven. I feel that way because this year I was able to bring my daughter, Hannah, who is four.
Last year I went into her room before I left, and she put her hands on my face _ it was very early in the morning _ and first she said, "Mommy, is Sant Ji driving the plane?" And I said, "Yes, sort of." And then she said, "Oh Mommy, the next time you go to India, would you please take me?"
So I had told Him in my interview, "My daughter would like to come with me." He said, "I would very much like to see you with your daughter, whenever you're able to come to India the next time."
So I just left it at that, knowing the groups are always quite full and we can never assume that we can go when we want to go. But she would say little things to me throughout the year, out of the blue, and I needed to listen to those things. We are not a family that talks a lot about the Master daily, perhaps we should, but we don't, and it's more of a personal journey for me.
But I'd be reading a bedtime story to her and she'd say, "Mommy, when I go to India I'm going to see Sant Ji, and He's going to give me parshad." And I'd say, "Yes, Okay," and then we'd go on with the book. One morning we'd just stepped out the door to go to school, and she said, "In India it's early evening now." And then she just walked on to the car. She had this running desire that was so beyond me.
So we signed up, and people said, "You should let Daryl know that you really want to go; you should keep calling," and I said, "My name's on the list and if we get in, we get in."
I never even told her that there was a possibility, but through His grace we were able to go. As soon as we knew we could go, that's all she could think about. We were also very fortunate because the Grants were going in this group and Teresa Grant and Hannah have been friends since they were babies, so that was just perfect. That was why we all went, I think.
So I'm going to relate most of this from the point of view of the parent, because really the trip was about her and it was for her. I like to say it was for her but, of course, it was for me too.
It was so exquisite to be there with my child. People had warned me how difficult it is to go with children and also how difficult it is to go alone with a child, that it's very hard and stressful. You don't get time away. You're with this child, and you're in a totally different environment, and the kids get sick, and all these other things. And I was saying, "Yeah, yeah, okay."
But there's no stress. There's no stress. You are there in the lap of love, surrounded constantly by this cloud of love _ how can there be stress? Situations would come up and I would say to myself, "This is not me. I'm not reacting the way I normally react." I have a rage that _ those buttons can get pushed by our children _ and there were times that, had I been at home, I would have been on the roof of my house!
But there you don't see how Master sees you, you feel how Master feels you. You feel how He feels for the children. He doesn't respond to any of us with anger or rage. He always responds with love, no matter what we do, no matter how many times we don't do what we're supposed to do. His reaction is just patience and love, and this is how He was with everybody and it's how, I think, we were as parents toward all the children.
I left the door to our room open because it was so stuffy. . . . And, because everybody else had their doors shut, my room became "Kid Central." Children were in and out constantly saying, "Is Hannah here?"
And they'd go right over to where we had our toys, and they would be taking all the toys and jumping on the beds and throwing pillows everywhere and I thought_there are no boundaries, these are all possessions_it's fine. And it was.
A little bit about the schedule. Mary does so much with the children and Jeanette helped out this year too. The schedule is so specific that it helps everybody to enjoy as much of the program as they can. They put parents into teams, and they put up a schedule for different parts of the day, so you know when you have to be on duty in the children's activity room. But there are other times when you can do the meditation with Sant Ji, or you can go to the Satsang; and sometimes you're not on at all so you have the whole day free. That's set up really well. Also there are so many things for the children to do that they don't have a moment to be bored, . . . and everything just comes together magically.
Being a parent was interesting, especially being there alone with a child, you don't get to do the program the way everyone else does _ like the mornings that you want to get to the meditation with Sant Ji and your child says, "Please, Mommy, don't leave me." And you look at your child and you think, "Okay, I won't go today."
When we first get there, the kids have to get through the jet lag, just like we do. We get there and we're so excited because we're wide awake at 3 o'clock on the first couple of days. Well, so is your child.
She was really good. She would whisper in the room, and I would get her all set up with something and sit down to meditate, and about ten minutes later I'd feel this little finger scratch my knee and she'd say, "Mommy, I want to listen to some tapes." So I'd get her her tapes and get her all settled, and I'd sit down myself and I'd just start to get the focus and then there'd be this little scratch again, "Mommy, I'm really hungry. Can I have a snack?" Okay. So I'd get up; and this would go on for about two and a half hours. At about 5:15 I'd say, "Let's get ready for tea." And so we'd do her hair up and get her washed and dressed, and as soon as the bell rang, shoom, she'd be all ready for tea. That was the way it was.
And when she finally started to sleep, it went the other way. She didn't want to be woken up. So you deal with that. But somehow it's all fine. It's just all fine. I would never quite know what she was going to do.
The Hindi Satsangs, which we adults think are so wonderful because we can just sit and look at Him for an hour without having to concentrate on anything but Him and His beauty _ try to explain that to a four year old. "Just sit there and look at Him." It doesn't quite work that way. Sometimes, if I was lucky, she would play with Amira Fulton who is five. Amira and Teresa and Hannah were the three little blonde girls who would just run around with their Barbie dolls and their sparkling ponies. So they would play, which was great, but sometimes they would get a little out of control. They would start flying ponies in front of peoples faces, and I was trying to say, "You can't do that."
Sometimes she would draw. One time she did stand up in front of me and say, thankfully in a whisper, "Boring."
Finally I said, "If you look at Him He'll sparkle." She sat and looked and then she turned around and said, "He's not sparkling." I said, "Well, He probably did just as you turned around to look at me." So she would try that from time to time, but you just had to roll with it.
As parents we got so much grace, so much love, especially if you had children that were small. We were able to be with Sant Ji in [the same] way that the children were. The children would be brought over right after morning meditation for darshan when Sant Ji left the meditation hall. There were about twenty children, so it was a very small, very cohesive little group. They would stand right outside the door and He would do a walk-by darshan that was so charged and was so personal. He would stop in front of each child almost everyday. One day He stopped in front of each and ev- ery one of them and He shook their hands. And little Elise Grant got her cheeks pinched so much that we joked that they grew every time He touched them.
Then they had the Satsang in the middle of the day. The kids would come with their parents and when the adults were told to go into meditation, the kids would go out and Sant Ji would walk by them again and give them darshan. And then there was the children's Satsang at five o'clock, a small little group in a tiny little alcove.
Because I had a small child I was able to sit literally at His feet. It was like being in an interview with Him, but instead of all of our stuff being the subject, we sat there while He just poured and poured that pure love onto all these little innocent souls, and we were one of them. We got to sit there and get exactly what He was giving to those children.
This was three times a day, and it was almost too much. He always says to come to Him as a child, to get rid of our cleverness and to get rid of our cynicism. Intellectually that sounds great, and "Sure, okay, I'll sit for meditation, and I'll try to get rid of the mind;" but when you sit there with those children and you not only see what He is willing to give us if we would just let Him, but because you're with the children you're only thinking about those children. You're not thinking about all of your garbage. He's giving it to you. . . . It didn't matter how big my vessel was, because He was just giving and giving and giving in such a powerful way, in such a pure way.
After awhile I think it was just so powerful, and my [only concern] was with my child: it was that she was the only one who wouldn't look at Him ever. She talked about it, as I said, all the way over, on the plane, squeals of delight, "I can't wait to get there. Are we there yet. Are we there yet?" We'd get there. She'd see the chair, "That's Master's chair. Is He coming? Is He coming? Is He coming?"
But when He walked in she looked away. And that's what she did the whole time. She would look at Him in Satsang when she was surrounded by other people, but at all of those wonderful little darshans, . . . He would walk by and when He shook everyone's hand, He shook everyone's but Hannah's, because she was hiding. She would hide behind me. She would hide behind whomever she was with. She would put her hands on her face. He was giving darshan to the back of her head. At first I was so embarrassed. How does this look for me? How does this look for her? I was thinking, "He's not even seeing my child. I've come all this way for her and He's not even seeing her." Everyone said, "It's her relationship with Him. Just let it go. She's going to get whatever she needs to get." I was thinking, "Did I not prepare her well?" Everyday I would say, "Why are you afraid?"
She couldn't articulate what the problem was, but one day she said, "Maybe I'll get used to Him tomorrow." Then the next day I'd prep her and say, "Now, you're not going to be afraid of Him, because He's so full of love, and He wants to give you so much love, but if you don't look at Him, you can't get it."
And she'd say, "I'm not going to be afraid of Him; I'm not going to be afraid of Him." And she got to where she would stand and focus on Him as He was walking, and as He was stopping by each one, but as soon as He got within her field of vision she just couldn't do it. So I had to let that go.
I have to say also that the minute He passed her she would put her hands up and smile at Him. So I don't know. She would sing bhajans to her Barbie dolls, she would talk about Him all day, but she couldn't handle being in front of Him. And I realized that I couldn't honestly say that I could handle being in front of Him when I didn't have her as a buffer. Going into my interviews in the past with Him I've been terrified. It's pretty terrifying. And their hearts are so pure that what He was giving us _ it is kind of easy to believe that it would be hard for a child.
On our interview day she was all excited for the interview. She was going to bring her meditation cushion to show Him, and my son Geoffrey had made a sign that he wanted Hannah to give to Sant Ji. So we bathed and she put on her very favorite pink dress and her little ruby slippers and we went over there. I had decided that maybe she would get used to Him by the very last day of interviews. We were standing outside that door, and she was waiting and waiting, holding a little sign "Simran" that was all decorated. She was saying, "Is Pappu coming out yet? When are we going to get to go in? I hear Sant Ji coughing. I hear Sant Ji coughing."
And then Pappu came out and we went in. We stepped over the threshold and she instantly went behind me. That was it. I tiptoed over to Him and she was grabbing onto the back of me. I got over and sat down; we both sat down together. I gave Him the picture and He very graciously accepted it and smiled. Then I turned around and said, "Do you want to show Sant Ji your meditation cushion?" So I gave Him the meditation cushion, and I felt like an interpreter. "Hannah, the person behind me, wanted to show You this meditation cushion that she made."
I had told her earlier that if she was going to get her parshad, she needed to get it from Him personally, that He wouldn't give it to me. She had said, "Fine."
He said in our interview, "Hannah makes me laugh a lot. Even though she's afraid to come in front of me, she finds ways to look at me and it makes me laugh. I have a lot of attraction for her."
And I thought that's it: she's getting it, whether it's through the back of her head, through the top of her head, through her toes. She's getting whatever He's giving to her. When we finished the interview He said, "Hannah, you have to come get your parshad." A disembodied hand shot up from behind my back, reached down, grabbed the parshad and disappeared again. And He laughed and laughed and laughed.
I thought, "To have Him laughing at the antics of your child, is what we need to do, I suppose, when our children pull all their stuff, [we need to] just laugh at them." I thanked Him, and I didn't think to let her know that we were leaving, so I got up and I just stood to the right, and there she was and she went, "AHHH!" She was totally exposed, and He laughed and laughed and laughed again. We walked out of that interview and people said, "What was so funny?"
To me that was the metaphor of the whole trip. That was it. It was just so relaxing. So full of laughter, so full of joy and so full of fun. At least with the children He was so full of laughter and joy and fun. He just had a blast and they had a blast as well. . . .
At one particular Satsang, luckily for me it was at the very beginning of the program, Gurmel had read something from Sar Bachan and Sant Ji was explaining what Gurmel had read. There was just one line, which for me was the title of the trip, and maybe the title for me of my life. He said, "My Master is my life. My Master is my everything."
. . . That was a real eye opener, because I felt like up until this point I listen to what everyone says and it makes sense, and I read the books, and they make sense, and I love hearing different people's opinions, and it all makes sense, but what makes sense in my mind, and what I feel in my soul are not connected, and they should be connected. I didn't know what I felt in my soul. And to say, "My Master is my life. My Master is my everything," that really to me is the dictate of what the Path is.
Master tells us to meditate, although in my interview He said, "You should try to meditate as much as you can." Which I thought was really sweet. But He says to meditate. It's pretty clear what we need to do, and our life gets in the way and our everything and our excuses, but to just feel that He is our life, He is our everything, He is our love, then whatever we do, the devotion is there, and whatever we do follows, and it doesn't matter what anyone else says.
I realized that in going to India last year and this year I would say to people, "Well, I'm going on a meditation retreat." I might as well be saying, "I'm going to a spa, but I'm just going to one in India." I would never say that I was going to see my Guru. I'm going to sit at the feet of my Master. What would they think? How would I explain it? I don't want to put it that way. But by saying that, and by defining it in that way, I put a wall up. It's a meditation retreat. It's a "meditation thing" that we do. But it's not. It's a devotional thing for the Master, and we have to have the same purity in our hearts that those children have in order for Him to fill us in that way. It's a devotion to a Being Who is so magical and so full of bliss and Who wants us to have that bliss too. We just have to make ourselves as ready as He wants us to be.
It was great for me to see that and I've been trying to remember that everyday. Fortunately, the other nice thing about being able to go with your child or your children is that every time you look at them, you're reminded, not that they didn't pick up their room or that they took their toy away from their brother or sister, but that you shared this experience with them.