When we come to deserve a master, he shall reach us.—Swami Chinmayananda
Daunting challenges and difficult times can prompt us to start searching for the answers to the larger questions of life: Why am I suffering? How can I be happy? What’s my true purpose? Is there a God? Where is He/She?It?
We start looking for a teacher to guide and enlighten us with the right knowledge of life.
This is exactly what I did
Happy growing-up years
I had a very happy childhood and family life growing up in Singapore. I am the last of three children. I had a loving mother, and a jovial, fun-loving father whom I adored.
As a teenager, I developed a keen interest in astrology. My favourite go-to book was Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs. I had fun getting a better understanding of people by reading the characteristics of the zodiac signs they belonged to.
I enjoyed learning about palmistry, numerology, face-reading and body language. I also had a fascination for the paranormal and for fortune telling.
In my childhood, my mother had instilled in me a strong faith in God through many stories from Hindu folklore. This faith was reinforced in my late teens, when I read books by American pastor, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, particularly, The Power of Positive Thinking.
All was going well in my life until my father developed a heart condition. Then, just one month before he would have turned 55, he suffered a massive heart and left us all too suddenly. I was 20 years old.
My family and I were devastated. My mother was left like a bird with only one wing.
He had been admitted to the hospital a couple of days before, for heart-related concerns. He had the fatal attack in the early hours of the morning of the third day.
Since the doctors were present at the time of his death, the paperwork was done quickly and there was no delay in releasing the body from the hospital.
As per Hindu custom, it was brought back home for the final rites. The cremation was scheduled for the afternoon of the very same day. Consequently, no efforts were made to embalm the body, or pretty it up.
I remember, all too clearly, how the body was brought on a stretcher and unceremoniously dropped onto a white sheet on the cold terrazzo floor, in the middle of our living room.
I looked on in horror at the body. It had no resemblance to the happy, smiling father I loved. In the few hours since his passing, it had bloated up severely and now, bodily fluids were slowly oozing out of the nose, mouth and ears.
I was disgusted. I remember thinking to myself, “Take that detestable thing out of the house!” I felt absolutely no connection with the ugly body lying on the floor.
I didn’t cry at all. I was numb with shock and disbelief.
In the days and months afterward, I struggled to makes sense of his death. I had so many questions! Where had my father gone? Why did he have to die so young? Is there life after death? What happens when one dies? Do we live many lives? What is the journey of the soul? What is the purpose of life?
Fortune telling, palmistry, astrology and the other subjects that had interested me seemed so stupid and pointless. Who could answer the real questions that I had?
I yearned for a teacher to instruct and guide me.
With our faith in God, my mother and I started to attend various religious and spiritual services.
The good thing in Hinduism is that there are many spiritual masters teaching the same truths in their own unique way. The bad thing is—there are many spiritual masters teaching the same truths in their own unique way.
It can be very confusing.
Whenever I attended a service, I would try my best to find out all I could about the master and organization or mission, if there was any. I was looking for a feeling, a conviction that this was the guru for me. But, unfortunately that didn’t happen.
I continued to search for seven years, and then moved to Canada after I got married my husband, Kumar.
We had three sons in five years and so, as you can imagine, it was an extremely busy time in our lives.
My spiritual aspirations had to take a back seat for some time, but they never really went away. I jumped at every opportunity to attend spiritual talks and events. I spent as much time as I possibly could reading spiritual books, learning and growing.
As the years passed, I grew more and more anxious to find my guru. Although I had no clue who he was, or where he was, I never gave up.
It was a full twenty years before I finally came to deserve a guru.
To read the conclusion of this article, click here: How I met my Guru—Part 2
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Dear Manisha…..thank you for sharing your beautiful journey with us. As a Westerner, your account of seeing your Dad’s body was somewhat shocking and reassuring at the same time. I do admire your vulnerability and look forward to the continuation of your story.
Thanks Debra for writing. Here in the west, we don’t usually see the bodies of the deceased in that condition. They are so well preserved that they often look almost alive. Seeing death for what it is, was a real revelation for me.It got me questioning who we really are, and what leaves a body when one dies.