Surrender by proxy
I had written before about the first spiritual guru whom I was close with as a child. His name was Baba Hari Dass; I knew him as Babaji. I wasn’t entirely aware of the nature of my relationship with Babaji until he passed away. It wasn’t until then that I realized the feelings of being at home and in peace around Babaji were surrender. I had deep faith in Babaji, loved him dearly, and knew in my heart that he was a realized master, a saint who had mastered his inner world. When His health declined from a stroke, I experienced renewed spiritual desire.
One night, I went to bed crying, lamenting the fact that I may never find anyone like Babaji again. I had done the rounds online and, while there was some excellent guidance, there were also clearly a lot of fake gurus. And even with the seemingly legitimate ones, I did not feel a strong connection. The universe immediately responded to those feelings and that sense of longing. The next day, I started checking the internet, hopelessly looking for someone who had realized the truth and wasn’t a fake guru. I happened upon a video of Om Swami and immediately felt connected with Him and what He was saying. Over the next few months, I read some of His books, started going through the blog, post by post, and went to the beginning of the YouTube channel and watched all His videos.
Around May 2018, Om Swami announced a meditation retreat in Walnut Creek, CA, which is only about 30 minutes from where I live. Immediately, I signed up and started to prepare myself.
Part of my goal in attending this retreat was to verify that the feelings I had about Swamiji and His teachings were not misplaced. I was going in somewhat cautious and with my eyes wide open. I had been exposed to enough fake gurus to be very sensitive and careful. It’s not that I thought Swamiji was a phony guru; I didn’t. More than that, I just wanted to confirm His fire was real and express my faith, devotion, and surrender.
I arrived at the venue early to meet some other attendees and watch the staff setup. My first impression was how professionally everything was managed. Then, the retreat started, and it was a real treat 😊.
Of course, it was amazing to see Swamiji in person, and everything was checking out on my list. He was passing all of my tests.
Then, something transformational happened. I noticed a woman who was crying a bit and looked to be highly emotional. However, it was not sadness that made her cry, nor did it seem to be any negative emotion. As I absorbed this scene more, I realized she was crying out of the very pure feelings of faith, devotion, and surrender. Her name is Seema, and seeing her that day seemed like a preordained rendevous. I was watching Seema, and she was gazing at Swamiji. It was like seeing someone who felt so lucky, blessed, and extraordinarily privileged to be witnessing what was unfolding in front of them. As though she was in a privy position to see the birth of our universe and she was just completely overwhelmed with not only the beauty of it but also overflowing with gratitude that nature granted her the right to witness such an event. Those few moments of seeing her reaction had a significant impact on me.
I felt validated. Even though I did not speak to Seema that day, there was a silent understanding; a sort of invitation was extended. An invitation to come home.
Since that day, I have experienced those feelings of deep surrender many times. Sometimes, the emotions overwhelm me, and I begin to cry with gratitude and devotion. But, of course, it’s not all a walk in the park, and I have a long way to go – but one thing is for sure, I would have quit the path many times over by now had it not been for the guidance, support, and inspiration I’ve received from Swamiji along the way.
Taking that first leap of faith is never easy, and for sure, a potential guru should be tested before you jump anyway. But, if you can find someone like Seema, she can make the first step easy. So, Seema, thank you so much for being an example of true devotion and surrender. Your love, devotion, and faith for Swamiji were evident that day, and it really helped me on my path. Little did you know someone was dissecting your emotional state at that retreat!