Second Birth

Posted on February 12, 2013

How do you describe it when your life becomes a sacred event? How can you speak of this second birth in the spirit that ends the hopelessness of searching and marks the beginning of finding? How do you put into words the deepest feelings and expressions of the heart?

What you are about to read happened exactly 40 years ago today and it comes up as fresh in my memory, as if it was unfolding right now. And of course I cannot express it, because words cannot express the all-important essence of things; it can only be found in your heart. (The following is from my forthcoming book, “The End of Fear”)…


“…I was living in an old rickety ashram on the banks of the Yamuna River in the ancient holy town of Brindavan in North India. This little town, only a two-hour train ride south of bustling New Delhi, might as well have been on a different planet, a planet of deep devotion and peace. Imagine a community of just a few thousand people who are living for nothing other than their passionate love for God, century after century. Brindavan was suffused with the tangible presence of Krishna, “the dark one,” who spent his childhood and early youth here. There was a tangible gentleness and softness in the air, as though Krishna, the divine lover, permeated every part of this world. Even the stones on the street seemed to radiate the presence of love.

Living in Brindavan was tender and sweet beyond anything I had ever known. I walked through fragrant fields on the sun-drenched footpath that circled the town, past an endless array of shrines and temples, under ancient banyan trees with peacocks trailing their shimmering tails through the branches. Swarms of parrots shot from tree to tree like brilliant streaks of colored light, and the enchanting concert of birds and insects soothed my every step. I shared the path with pilgrims and cows, wild pigs, an occasional coyote, and many squirrels. Animals and people lived in great harmony with each other, reflecting the spirit of Krishna in a joyful celebration of life. The mesmerizing sound of Krishna’s flute still floats among the trees to this day, lifting all hearts into a vast and wonderful peace.

Day after day, I left the ashram by the river and followed the footpath through the fields to Maharajji’s temple, the powdery warm sand squishing softly around my bare toes. Day after day I was told that Maharajji was not seeing anyone. It didn’t bother me. My daily walk on this path had become a ritual of its own, an exercise of devotion, as much a pilgrimage to my own heart as to him. Walking through this pastoral landscape was a gift to my soul. There was nothing else I could possibly want.

On the day of my 22nd birthday, I again walked to the ashram and asked the caretaker my usual question: “Is Maharajji seeing anyone today?” expecting the usual answer. To my great shock I was told, “Oh yes, he just walked out to the street. He must be at one of the neighboring temples. You can go see him there.” I was stunned. For more than a year every step, every breath I had taken, had led me to this moment. Ever since I had first seen Maharajji’s picture, a world away in Amsterdam, the attraction had been growing stronger and stronger. Was I actually going to see him today?

As if in a daze, I walked out to the roadway, turned right, walked a few steps, and there he was, wrapped in his blanket, sitting about fifteen yards back from the road in front of a small temple. He was talking to two young sadhus, wandering monks. My feet stopped. Automatically, my hands moved together in front of my heart in the ancient Indian gesture of Namaste, which means, “The light in me greets the light in you.” I had the distinct feeling that a powerful force was pulling me up by the top of the head, like a puppet on a string. There I stood, completely mesmerized by the first sight of my guru. To this day I remember the smallest details of the moment—the expression on his face, his movements, the short stubble of beard, every single color of that plaid blanket.

Neem Karoli Baba, Maharajji

Maharajji sat there in a halo of dazzling light—the same light I had seen on the hill in Bavaria and again when Ram Dass was standing in the doorway of the restaurant on that rainy night in London. Here was that light in its most concentrated form, and it stopped the world for me. I couldn’t move, nor did I want to. My body and mind were completely still, my entire attention absorbed in what I saw before me. Let me just stand here and gaze at him without end! Let me bathe in this essence forever! I was having darshan—the gift of being in the presence of a holy being, a great teacher. Darshan also means to absorb the divine through the eyes. When we are capable of perceiving the sacred, its essence can enter us through the pathways of the senses. This is a recognition, a remembering, our own essence awakening to itself. Our eyes are opened in the moment of grace.

After a timeless moment, he motioned his head that I should walk on. I did not comprehend. I was too awestruck to have a single thought in my mind. The sadhus were laughing; I must have been quite a sight, standing there stiff as a stick. Maharajji brought his hand out from under his blanket and waved me on. Finally I understood. I pranamed (bowed), and my feet began moving again. After rounding a turn in the road, Maharajji was gone from view. My feet kept moving while my heart burst its bounds and a wonderful warmth radiated throughout me. I realized there was no way my mind could explain what had just happened, but the heart knew. The heart knew.

The relationship with the satguru continues through lifetimes. We do not choose it. It is simply a fact that some of us one day discover. Just as our mother gives birth to our body, the satguru gives birth to our spiritual awakening. Through his form he is the gate through which we enter into Oneness. In his formless essence, in his enlightenment, he is Oneness. That is why it is said, “God, guru, and Self are one.”


And when he sees me in all

and sees all in me,

then I never leave him

and he never leaves me.

And he, who in this oneness of love

loves me in whatever he sees,

wherever this man may live

in truth he lives in me.

Bhagavad Gita

Maharajji knew me much more deeply and fully than I knew myself. That in itself was a miracle. To be seen fully for who I am established an unbreakable bond between us, but, more importantly, I felt completely and unconditionally loved. I felt loved down to the last fiber of my being, including all the parts of me that were lost in fear and self-rejection. It was a love that transformed me. With intuitive clarity I knew I could trust him completely. And I began to realize that his love would never leave me.

This great love Maharajji showered on us so freely (and continues to do so) was not dependent on what we did—whether we were good or bad, rich or poor, intelligent or not—and it did not depend on being in his presence. It was much deeper, a communion beyond time and space that occurs in the innermost place of the heart for no other reason than because we are love.”


with Love,

and the Skills for Awakening team



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2 Responses to “Second Birth”

  1. Jennifer
    Feb 12, 2013

    jaya guru dev, jaya satya guru dev

    thank you for sharing such a personal story with such tenderness
    i am very excited to know of a forthcoming book!

    deepest blessings

  2. As I read the above, I was aware that my heart was beating in resonance with what was being said, supported by a mind that was content to be still. Alas, soon it was over but there was no disappointment but a sense of having entered the sacred realm. Good, thanks for sharing

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