While I always believed in a Supreme Being or consciousness, I did not believe in rituals or going to places of worship. I lived my life as an agnostic. I went with the flow, where my family’s belief system was concerned, but wasn’t of a religious bent of mind.
As a person, I was full of insecurities and complexes, and had a fragile ego. I tried to conceal my flaws with material possessions such as fancy cars and jewellery and was a bit of a show off. I often picked fights with people for attention and spent many a waking hour criticising people and gossiping about them. I was always on the lookout for ways to amass more wealth. I was consumed by my desires, and never thought beyond that.
All of this changed when I was introduced to the man who would become my spiritual mentor. Initially, I was very skeptical about him and his institution; but all my doubts were wiped out the moment I first met him. I felt a deep connection with him, which I couldn’t quite explain, and unknowingly I became a regular visitor to his place of service.
I often spent time around him asking him to fulfill my worldly desires. Sometimes, the things I asked for fructified and at others, they didn’t. Despite this, see-saw of winning and not winning in the material world, I kept going back to him.
My spiritual mentor and his disciples taught me concepts such as Seva (selfless service), Karma, Detachment and others which didn’t register with me on a physical level. But little did I know that my Guru had already used his magic wand on my subconscious.
At this time, I was going through a rough patch. My mother was very unwell and was in and out of hospitals. One day, a person connected to my spiritual mentor, asked me to join him on a Sunday morning to help feed people. I did as I was told. Truth be told, this was quite an alien experience for me. However, the Sunday Seva became a routine in my life. There would be Sunday mornings when I would return home drunk as a skunk after a night of hard partying, only to wake up a few hours later, without an alarm, so that I could be present for my duties/Seva.
Over the years, I observed a change in myself, although I must admit I never made an attempt to change myself consciously. I started shunning material things; and slowly but surely detachment started creeping in. I found myself feeling detached from things that were once dear to me. I abandoned my tendency to show off. Instead, I took to Seva. It’s interesting to note that while at the start, I was very excited at the prospect of doing my bit, in time that emotion deadened. Seva soon became a habit. My thoughts were now directed towards concepts like karmic debts and how I could repay what I owed in this world.
While I had my Guru’s blessings, the metamorphosis wasn’t a cakewalk. As I veered towards a more spiritual life, I was ridiculed by a few friends, some of whom started avoiding me. Others made it their life’s mission to make me see the error of my ways. I was regularly lectured on how life was short and it is important to enjoy its many pleasures. I lost some friends along the way, but that didn’t bother or upset me. My Guru’s grace had changed me and there was no looking back. Interestingly, today, some of these friends are curious to understand the genesis of the change.
The man I was 21 years ago, has been replaced with a man with more humane sensibilities. Sometimes, I can’t even recognise myself. All that I am today is because of my Guru’s grace.