Miraculous Encounter

[Listen to Asha read this story]

(Told by Judy Morningstar)

I was living in the Ananda community in Palo Alto when the Bertolucci lawsuit against Swamiji and Ananda went to trial. The court was just a few miles away, so Swamiji stayed in our community for many weeks. I had seen him from a distance but had never met him face to face.

Right in the middle of the trial, there was an earthquake near Assisi, Italy. The epicenter was in a town called Foligno, not far from Ananda’s retreat. Ananda suffered only minor damage to a few buildings, but in some of the nearby towns, the damage was severe.

Even though he had more than enough troubles of his own, Swamiji launched a campaign he called Hope and Homes for Italy. To raise money, he decided to give a benefit concert.

I came almost an hour early so I could have a seat right in front. Swamiji was still rehearsing and everyone was running around a little frantically to get things ready in time. In the midst of all the confusion, Swamiji remained completely calm and centered.

After the concert, I was determined to introduce myself to him, even though he was surrounded by a large crowd of people. I didn’t have quite enough courage to stand in front of him, so I stood behind his back. I didn’t say anything, just stood silently staring at the back of his head. Suddenly he turned around, took my hand, and looked deep into my eyes.

I said something like, “I’ve been waiting so long to meet you.”

“It is my pleasure to meet you,” Swamiji replied. Then he asked my name. It wasn’t much of an exchange, but I felt as if our souls had connected. All night I dreamed that Swamiji was talking to me.

The trial was such a heavy experience. I wanted to do something to help Swamiji. In an art therapy class I had made a sort of mandala of myself when I was feeling depressed and alone. I was a small black blob in the center with lots of color and light all around me. I thought it might make Swamiji feel better, so I sent it to him along with a note thanking him for founding Ananda and making it possible for me to live in such a wonderful community.

A week or so later, two friends, who are not part of Ananda, came to visit me. We were standing on the sidewalk in front of the community, about to go for a ride in my friend’s new red convertible. I looked across the street and there was Swamiji. I felt my whole being leap across the street in joyful greeting.

Swamiji came over and thanked me for the mandala. I introduced him to my friends and with great attention he shook hands with each one and carefully asked their names. When I explained we were about to go for a ride, he said “Nice car!” as if he had nothing more important on his mind than a new red convertible. Trials, earthquakes—in that moment, none of it seemed to matter. In my dreams that night again he came and talked to me.

There was nothing apparently miraculous about these encounters. In fact, what made them so extraordinary to me was the apparent ordinariness of them. Swamiji is simply the kindest, most open-hearted, loving, and humble person I have ever met.

Master made a beautiful comment that I have always remembered. “Humility,” he said, “is the greatest miracle.” In this sense, Swamiji himself is a walking miracle.

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