Why do I write stories of the fantastic and bizarre? Because my mind has always worked that way. And because I went looking for oddness, sometimes it found me. This isn’t the strangest story I have…but it was a life-changing one.
Oh yes. It was
This happened about thirty years ago. I was at LAX airport, awaiting the arrival of my guru, Sri Chinmoy. I’d had a phone call from one of his other students telling me that Chinmoy was coming through on his way to Korean, taking a three hour layover and spending that time with those students who might gather to see him.
I’d been studying him for about ten years, and studying WITH him for about three, I’d reckon. He had fascinated me because, although a meditation instructor, he had some unusual characteristics. He’d written hundreds of books, thousands of poems, and a MILLION little bird-drawings. He recorded music with about twenty instruments (to this day, I use his flute music for meditation. The other music…well, let’s say he doesn’t seem to have been classically trained, and leave It at that), and had many notable students who raved about the power of his presence, including Carlos Santana and Roberta Flack.
So from all of that, and his words and lectures, I got the impression of a deeply spiritual man whose teachings were more or less in alignment with the traditions I’d followed previously. But what blew me away, what made me do a real Scooby-take (urrrr?) was his physical dimension. The guy was an ultra marathoner, and encouraged his students to engage in sports, to anchor their bodies to the earth. More than his 24-hour running sessions, he also performed freaky feats of strength, including a one-armed overhead lift of various dignitaries and notables (the expressions on their faces were priceless) and leverage lifts of planes, cars, and small crowds. It was pretty spooky to watch, and the most impressive was a SEVEN THOUSAND POUND barbell held in an overhead lift.
(the picture above is from a much lighter lift, obviously) Witnesses said he lifted it, one-armed, about an inch. I’ve seen the photos, and can’t swear that he lifted it. However, what I CAN say is that THE BAR BENT with the pressure he applied. Body Building champion Bill Pearl was one of his students, a man of huge strength and serious experience in the iron game, and he witnessed several of the events, and told me that he has no idea how Chinmoy does it–that he considers it superhuman.
I will say that the above factoids are what lured me into becoming a student: of all the spiritual teachers I’d ever heard of, the physical, material things he did came the closest to seeming like real-world miracles. No, it wasn’t as impressive as, say, levitating a dime. But anyone who can do all those things is someone who is clearly operating at the outer edges of human capacity, something I’ve always loved studying.
And eventually…I saw more.
So I’m at LAX, waiting for him to get off the plane, wondering what this miracle man would seem like in person. I expected him to walk off the plane strolling like a human tiger. But when he came, it was odd. He moved a little clumsily, it seemed. I’d expected him to have the body-mind dynamic of a martial arts master, but instead it was almost as if he wasn’t in his body. As if he was…operating a marrionette. Pulling strings from ABOVE his body, as it were. Hmmm
We all went to an alcove were about fifty adherents were gathered, with a sort of low platform with a comfortable-looking chair positioned in the middle. He sat, talking to us in a low, pleasant voice, of spiritual things. But what was odd was that he kept wiggling, constantly rotating his ankles with crossed legs, almost like a squggly child who can’t keep still.
Then…it happened. I knew that potential students had to submit a photo to him, and that he went through some process to determine if the student was appropriate. I’d felt lucky to be chosen, but also took it with a grain of salt.
Well…a senior student came to him, bringing an envelope of photographs, potential students. He started looking through them, slowly. His eyes vibrated side to side as he did. For maybe fifteen minutes this continued, him staring at the pictures, his eyes flickering. I got impatient and started to say something, and the person I was sitting with, who had originally invited me, put a hand on my shoulder to silence me.
And then…I noticed that something was wrong in the room. The light was funny. He wasn’t backlit, but I noticed there was a slight nimbus shining around him. It was steel gray/yellow and started at his right shoulder, flowing up around his head down to his left shoulder, maybe 3-4 inches beyond his skin. I blinked hard, thinking that maybe something was wrong with my contact lenses. Looked at the lights. WTF..?
No, that light was there. Reminded me of a layer of lemon Jello or something. I’d never seen anything like that at ALL. After about five minutes, it faded…and about three minutes later, Chinmoy came out of his trance, and the talk continued.
After it was all over, I very very carefully asked a couple of people if they had noticed anything…odd…with the light. None had.
The guy who had invited me heard my question sand asked why I was asking, and he laughed. “Oh, that,” he said. “That was a gift from Guru to you. You have the kind of mid that has to be shown.”
Hey, I’m a visitor in this territory. Just a tourist. Hell, I don’t know! But years later, Harley “Swift Deer” Reagan from whom I learned martial arts and shamanism, heard the story and disagreed. “No, Steve. It wasn’t Chinmoy. It was you. You were the one who could see.”
Heck. I don’t know. I’ve seen the human aura many times since then, but have no solid opinion about what it means. If I had to make a decision, I’d say it was an “artifact effect”, something created by the human mind, rather than an objective reality outside it. But to what end? I suggest something I call a “complex equivalent.” The brain is taking in a vast amount of information faster than conscious thought. To give you an indication of something unusual going on, or give you access to all of this massive storehouse of information, your brain creates a symbolic representation. Floating colors, perhaps. Sensations. Auditory cues, things just at the threshold of consciousness. And you can learn to interpret them, in time.
That strikes me as the most likely answer. But the truth? The truth is that I don’t really know. The story above is about as true as I can remember, and still puzzles me. It happened, but I don’t know what it means: I know what different people have SAID it means, and I know what conclusions I reach after researching and meditating for almost thirty years after the event…
But I don’t really know. And the coolest thing? I don’t need to. Hey, who doesn’t love a good mystery?