What happened on 1975-12-10 was that at 5 in the morning two friends, who had lost in the cards and had no money for a taxi, aware I wouldn't really mind to be waken up, payed me a unexpected early morning visit. In the course of our casual conversation over a cup of coffee, Elias mentioned that a law that affected both of us, concerning buying the military service instead of serving for 2 years in the army, had been passed a few days earlier. Though not unexpected, this had a considerable relieving effect on me, and it also meant that one of the two legal obstacles that blocked my getting a passport had been removed; the other obstacle was a law that concerned getting a passport if you owed a certain amount of money to the public (I had been in name involved in a family business that had failed): that law would be passed 6 months later, but that's another story. Taken together, these 2 laws changed totally my legal status and allowed me, for the first time since 1971, to travel abroad and be hitch-hiking to Scotland in the summer of 1977.
That early morning visit would have been an event unusual and positive enough just because of receiving those good news. During, however, that same conversation something else came up. For some reason I mentioned Swami Satchidananda's chant:
Hari Om, Hari Om,
Hari, Hari, Hari Om
which made Costas exclaim:
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna,
Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare
which he had heard being chanted by Hare Krishnas when he lived in London — there were no Hare Krishnas in Greece yet. After my 2 friends left to catch the morning bus home, I went back to bed.
Later that day, I went as usual to a coffee shop to read the afternoon paper. There I read to my surprise that a Indian Hare Krishna priest had arrived in the area, was staying at a room somebody had provided him, and was giving free English language lessons... I was not used to coincidences like this yet, so it certainly made a rather strong impression on me. I called up my fellow meditator George, and three days later, so as not to be the very first ones to visit, we paid Dina Dayal Das Brachmakari a visit.
But we were the first ones, and he thought it remarkable that Krishna had chosen me from a population of 3 million to respond first. I made it clear to him that I was doing TM, that I went to see him out of plain interest and had no intention of changing my practice, but that I was, however, able and willing to help him be established, by organizing a lecture for him.
By the time the well-attended lecture, at a central hall in Athens that was provided free of charge, took place on 1976-1-10, I had distanced myself from Dina Dayal as a result of his efforts to recruit me. I left before the end of the question and answer period, feeling confident that a few people from the audience would remain behind to form the nucleus of the new spiritual group. The next time I heard of them, they had opened a center across the street from the British Embassy, in the most upper class area of Athens; I stopped by to see them there once.
|T=EH Temple||M=My place||U=My uncle's|
Little did I know at the time what significant karmic repercussions that lecture would have! When I finally came to the U.S., I rented a room in East Hartford close to my uncle's house. My adjustment to my new habitat was not facilitated by the fact that the lease of the Hartford TM center had expired not to be renewed on 1983-12-31, the very day of my arrival, and that the ashram of Swami Satchidananda, with whom I felt a special spiritual kinship, had moved from Connecticut to Yogaville, WV. It took me over a year to somehow connect to a fellow meditator, Ruth, and still another year before she took me to the local Hare Krishna temple in East Hartford (established in 1980). It was Sunday, 1986-1-12, 10 years and 2 days after that memorable lecture in Athens. And the temple was on the same block (!), 8 houses down the street, from the place I had lived for a year and a half (before moving somewhere else nearby)! I thought I had chosen that room to be near my uncle's, but in reality it was much closer to the Hare Krishna temple, going toward the town center!
In the following years, beyond providing me with by far the best meal of the week within a spiritual atmosphere reminiscent of days of counterculture, the EH Hare Krishna temple proved to be of considerable help in my further social adjustment in my new country, becoming my main social circle (especially important after my relations with my late uncle cooled down). There I made many good friends, some of whom, in due course, I would join at the nearby Manchester Community College, while later, at Central Connecticut State University, me and Jiva, the Hare Krishna priest's wife, developed a noble academic contest that ended up in a sort of a tie: I graduated only with Magna Cum Laude, but I did get into the grad school I wanted to.
But the story does not end here. Do you still remember how it all started? It was when I had been meditating regularly for 0.97% of the days of my life, back in 1975, when I met Dina Dayal and organized his lecture, having no idea then that that was an early direct effect of my TM practice... In June 1997 I was pursuing graduate studies at NYU while looking for an affordable place to live. When I visited Mildred's house I was aware that it was only a couple of blocks from the Brooklyn Hare Krishna temple, and that certainly influenced my decision. What I didn't know at the time, and only found out after I had moved in the house where I would stay for the following 3 years, was that a couple of blocks in the opposite direction there was a Greek-Orthodox Church and the studios of a Greek radio station (directed by an old classmate), and that my landlady was an old TMer too. In time I helped her reestablish her long lost contact with the local TM center and start meditating regularly once more. It was the closing of the circle that had started some 25 years earlier...
New York, 2002-1-17