My spiritual path has been a journey of gazes. The eyes of the Other an infinity sign that leads me to the Self. Gaze of friend and perfect stranger, gaze of lover and teacher, gaze of the animal kingdom, gaze of my infant daughter, my mother, my wife, O gaze of my gaze.
Yet through these sparkling corridors of darshan, there were three gazes above all others that took me to the highest peak, where Dante stood with Beatrice, and saw through her eyes the empyrean.
The first Great Darshan was the gaze of a fawn. My wife and eye were just married, walking through a Maryland corn field. We came upon a newborn deer. We could only spend a moment there, for the mother doe was stamping the ground furiously at the edge of the forest. But just for a moment we gazed into those wide blue eyes, the bluest eyes I ever saw. Only my daughter's blue eyes come close to that bejeweled Shakti. The only word that comes to mind is "familiar." The eyes of that fawn made the entire animal kingdom and the whole earth familiar. I felt welcomed and warmed into the planetary community. Ever since passing through those eyes of faun blue, I've known that animals, angels, and human beings all share one Soul, playing through myriad facets in the diamond of God-Consciousness.
The second Great Darshan was the gaze of a dolphin. My young family was spending a week at the Jersey Shore, in Avalon. It was late June, solstice time; every morning I would go to the beach at dawn, practice Sudarshan Kriya and Transcendental Meditation, then swim a mile out beyond the breaking waves in the rising sun. Swimming along quite a distance from shore, I suddenly saw an enormous shadow-form silently sweep beneath me. My heart shuddered with primordial fear of the deep and the unknown. I stopped and looked around. A face emerged about three yards in front of me, with perhaps the most intelligent and benign expression I've ever beheld. A smile of respect, parental care, and benediction, with a gaze of unconditional love enfolded me. I was filled with a certainty that I was protected, both on earth and among the stars, by a much more advanced and ancient race of Friends.
The third Great Darshan, the peak of my journey, was a meeting with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at a course in Nova Scotia, back in 1991. Courses were small and intimate in those days, and on the final night I managed to visit alone with Punditji in his room for quite a while. Even in those days, there was silly talk, as there always is among folks who spend too much time in an ashram environment. They were arguing about whether he was Jesus come again, or Krishna, or Shankara. That kind of fluffiness turns me off, because people need to grow up and honor their own time, their own Being, instead of idolizing the past.
So I spoke to Punditji about it. Then I asked, "Are you really a great avatar from ages past? I need to know who you really Are."
He said, "No, no. I am Nobody." And he meant it. That is when I began to see. I gazed into his eyes, twin galaxies spiraling toward the formless source of creation, through billions of stars of grace. Those eyes were the wells of eternity where I fell inward and outward at once, like a thrown pebble, like a lost meteor, in the motionless explosion of a Rose. This was the flowering of divine love. Jai Guru Dev.
(Photo of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar courtesy of my dear friend Scott Hague.)