Lessons in Awareness

From Yoga Chakrodaya, Munger Yoga Symposium 2018, Book 1/3

Sannyasi Agnideva (Ignacio Copete, Colombia): When Sri Swamiji came to Colombia and into our lives, we did not look at him merely as a yogi or a visiting professor. We tried to observe him to understand him, to see what he was, what his mission was and what our purpose with him was. So we would be literally just looking at him, at everything that he did, the way he put the foot out, his chappals, everything. We were trying to learn and understand what was going on with him and what he had to teach. This was the first time we were in front of a yogi, face to face, and we did not know what to do. We took him to the museums! Yet, the main thing was that we were in the process of trying to understand who he was and how he did things.

From then on, that was our main attitude. The whole group did the same, though each one had their own experiences. So what I am going to tell you is a few experiences in my life that I had with Sri Swamiji, which helped to understand his teachings.

The first time that I met him, it was a shock. I was just out of law school, young, powerful, I could do everything that I wanted. I was a young man and by definition young men do not cry. Sri Swamiji landed, and fate had it that he was going to stay in my house, in my parents’ house, I moved out of my room to give it to him. He got in the car and I was in the front. As I sat there, I started to cry, for twenty-five minutes, for no reason at all.

He was supposed to be in Bogotá for five days. The first day nothing happened, the second day nothing happened. I ended up being appointed as his translator by him. He started to talk, talked for ten minutes and said, “Now you translate.” Yet nothing happened. On the third day, I decided, “I have to go and talk to him and see if he is my guru.” I went to him and said, “Swamiji, are you my guru?” “Of course! I have been giving you all kinds of clues, but you do not understand, you are not aware.” So my first contact with Sri Swamiji was not very successful as far as awareness goes. I failed the test.

The second time I met Sri Swamiji was here in India at the old ashram for the convention in 1973. There was the Diwali celebration and I was walking right behind him. As I had been his translator, I sort of felt that I was allowed to be near him. I was really close, Indian style. I was walking behind him and suddenly he turned around and said, “You know!” From then on ‘you know’ for me was like ‘Hey Siri!’ You know what ‘Hey Siri’ is? It is a command that you give to an iPhone so that Siri starts listening to you. It is a command of alertness to a device. So the moment Sri Swamiji would say, “You know”, I knew that something important was coming. It happened throughout my life with him.

He turned around and said, “You know, if a person achieves the capacity of being a witness of everything that he does, thinks or feels, he has achieved the most important thing that a human being can achieve.” He said this, turned around, and continued walking. From then on, those were the rules of the game.