"Yogaloy, Guru wants to talk to you." It was Ashrita. "Will you be at this number for a few minutes?"
"Yes," I said, and then hung up. I hadn't expected this development. I took the phone downstairs to my new room. I had thought Guru wouldn't want anything to do with me once I'd left. Now I sat waiting for the phone to ring. I didn't have to wait long.
Guru and I spoke for about ten minutes (maybe less). He did most of the talking while I listened with tears in my eyes. I told Guru frankly that my aspiration -- my hunger for the Divine -- had disappeared. I told him that I was quite sure it wouldn't return. While he went on at some length, in short Guru didn't accept my analysis of the situation. He told me in no uncertain terms that I was "destined for the spiritual life."
I doubted that, but couldn't resist Guru's simple request: that I agree to go back to New York and talk to him face to face. He would let me leave with his blessings afterwards, he said, if I so chose. I agreed.
It would be easy to say that I just caved to Guru, but that wouldn't be accurate. My decision to go back to talk to Guru was a conscious one. In my seven-plus years as a disciple, Guru had never asked me to do anything. I felt that I owed him. Though I was sure that the trip back wouldn't change anything, I felt it was the least I could do.
Two days later, Jeevan and Bipin drove me to the airport, where they paid an exorbitant rate in cash for a last minute, one-way, non-stop flight from San Jose to JFK. It was Wednesday night when I arrived and was picked up by Vinaya.
He took me straight to P.S. 86, where the public meditation was just ending. I felt all eyes upon me as I walked down the familiar hall towards the stage. Guru was still there, selling some item or another.
Ketan was at the end of the hall and had a look of shocked concern on his face. Shambhu was there, too. He had a bit of a twinkle in his eye and a look of disbelief -- like he hadn't believed me capable of bailing on the Center like I'd done. Shambhu pulled out his wallet and gave me some money.
Reluctantly, I walked across the stage -- in front of all the disciples -- and bought what Guru was selling.
Photo credit here.