An Interview With a Very Senior and Long-standing Disciple of The Spiritual Visionary Sri Chinmoy
One of the best ways, I find, for endorsing the goodness or excellence of a nurse, is by a recommendation from the patient himself or herself. In the same way, we are helped - in a manner of speaking - to assess a person’s character or personality, by the quality of what others have to say about him or her.
When I hear friends speak of Vajra’s benevolence, his generosity of spirit, his staunch faith in his spiritual mentor and sacrifice for God’s myriad manifestations, then my Heart overflows with pride. It is not uncommon to see some of our international brothers and sisters, carrying gifts, money… or just offering praise and support for the extremely warm Heart of this individual. His ability to encourage; to counsel, to lend a helping hand, to inspire… sets a precedent or benchmark, which not only uplift many, but serves humanity at large.
At 74 years of age, Vajra, in our 10-day and 3,100 mile events, ably assists and encourages his fellow brothers and sisters in their enormous challenges, such as emerge naturally with such legendary races.
Not so long ago, a couple of years perhaps, Vajra had a heart attack that set him back for a short while. It was a painful experience for which he was hospitalised. Nonetheless, Vajra bounced back with great vigour, still rising at 02:00 a. m, to do his meditation. Following this, he then goes to the Aspiration-Ground, to open up this heavenly alcove for aspiring seekers from many countries throughout the world, in order for them to meditate in stillness, in this hallowed ground.
As if this is not enough, Vajra either stays, or if relieved, he goes home for a couple of hours, then surfaces once more, this time driving the food truck; loading and unloading at Goose Pond Park, Jamaica, Queens, while cheerfully offering his services to all.
So who is Vajra? What makes him tick? I met this very warm and selfless African American Soul, many years ago. Too long to count the years in fact. But in that period, he seems to have increased his capacity for service to the Supreme. The body is sometimes tired, yes, but his Soul remains ever young and vibrant, ever smiling and relying on his Guru, Sri Chinmoy … on the Supreme, always in the Eternal Now. In fact, be careful with offering Vajra money, as he will soon find someone else to give it to, someone which rightly or wrongly, he finds more worthy.
Son of Alice and Noel Henderson, Vajra became an ardent student of Sri Chinmoy in 1971, some 45 years ago. He was initially interested in chemistry, but has always had a skin condition and a touch of Asthma, which has hindered his ambitions to follow this road. He had one sister who has passed to the world beyond and is in God’s loving care and concern. Vajra has also travelled to Kenya, and South Africa. Peace-building and reconciliatory by nature, he has frequently assisted in solving difficult problems on behalf of others.
I have always been fascinated by Vajra’s simple nature, and so when I caught up with him recently, I really wanted to find out what makes him tick, how he joined his chosen Path, and what was or is the meaning it holds for him. Consequently, I asked a few questions about him, Sri Chinmoy, life experiences … and so forth.
Me: So tell me Vajra, why did you join Sri Chinmoy’s Path, and what kind of crossroads were you in at that time?
Vajra: Before I met my spiritual mentor in 1971, I was an aspiring seeker, who wanted to know something about this mysterious Master Maker of all beings and the entire universe. Brought up as a Presbyterian, I read through the bible, and of all the passages I read, one fascinated me the most, “To love God with all my mind, body and soul”. All the religious leaders I saw, read about, and had spoken with up to date, failed miserably in supplying me with answers I needed to hear, until I met Sri Chinmoy. My dream to know God was fast approaching me.
Me: So you felt that your Mentor’s Path held special significance for you and that this was the Path that you had been seeking?
Vajra: A very short time after joining Guru Sri Chinmoy, I was standing at the Jamaica High School track when I received an amazing thought, “With this man beside me, I can conquer the world”. At the time, I did not know what I meant by saying conquering the world. Was it to break heads or was it to love the world?
With time, my advanced experiences with Guruji, were beginning to show me that my dream to find God was transforming into none other than the experience of God Itself. This to me, was in human form by the name Sri Chinmoy and known by all his disciples lovingly, as Guru. Under His inner and outer guidance, the quest to love God with all my mind, body and soul was satisfactorily accomplished through Love, Devotion and Surrender.
Me: Have you had any regrets along the way?
Vajra: I am fortunately one of those whose experience with Guruji is ever upward climbing with not even a moment to look back at anything disheartening or negative in any way.
Me: So drawing on your vast experience, what advice would you give to new seekers coming into Sri Chinmoy’s Path.
Vajra: Love and Serve God for His own sake.
Me: Obviously you’ve given many classes and spoken to many people. You even went into Sing Sing, a famous prison for criminals on death row, I believe. What made you want to do this, how did they receive you and how do you feel that it impacted their lives?
Vajra: It is something that is in the nature of my soul to enter into the darkest and most evil infested of spaces to bring in light wherever that may be. At the core of every human heart is the cry for Peace and Light. If one has the power to reach that core, many will respond. There are a few inmates who have met me on the streets of mid-Manhattan, saying that it was their first experience at having such Peace.
Me: marvellous, marvellous … in view of your very long-standing resilience; your steadfastness on this chosen Path, can you recount any memorable life-stories with Guruji?
Vajra: While I had the honour of being a guard, I used to do a walking meditation with my head up, walking 25 to 30 feet forward and turning around to walk back to the starting point, only to do it again and again. On this particular day, Guru came to the Aspiration-Ground with the children’s group and proceeded to go to the farthest end of it. Out of the way, or so I thought, I continued with my walking meditation, when all of a sudden the thought appeared before my mind, “I am ready for my God-Realization right now”.
Something said to me, drop your head and when I did, there was Guru no more than 6 feet in front of me. Surprised and wondering whether I had done something wrong, I moved to the side of the gate and waited silently. Guru then walked to one of the girls and took from her a piece of candy which he began to roll between his fingers concentrating on it for a few seconds and proceeded to hand it to me. I gratefully and devotedly took it from Him and began eating it right away.
Me: What a sweet and sublime experience! So what is your favourite hobby and what gives you most joy?
Vajra: Perhaps, the best way to answer this may be to begin where I left off with the above question. I see my life unfolding in three phases. Maybe, it would better be explained as analogous to being given a car, a very special car. In the first phase, I get this dream car. I am enamoured by its outer looks, the beauty of the interior, how it feels behind the wheel, etc.
In the second phase, I discover that the car has some very unusual features locked into it. It can travel at the speed of Light between intergalactic universes in a matter of less than 60 Nano seconds. It can plummet to the deepest cosmological depths as well as reach into the highest heights of consciousness, all this besides the ordinary trivial country side nature’s sight-seeing tour for which the car can be used.
I am now in the third phase. I suddenly discover that the purpose for being given the car, is to become the very car itself – To realise God (my Guru) in this incarnation and not any other. So I feel that the time has come, to drop everything and go for it!
Thank you Vajra. So much Light and sublimity in what you say! Your answers are so illumining and so fulfilling! I especially love your selfless approach with the inmates of Sing Sing; the fact that you have not experienced regrets and still continue to serve so soulfully and devotedly. I applaud you for recognising that the Light or flame of yearning; the search for meaning, is in every Soul.
Thank you for sharing with your younger brothers and sisters, and giving us such a wonderful and inspirational insight into your approach and Path of Spiritual Sadhana with your Master Sri Chinmoy. In our Beloved’s Heart of Light, Beauty and Eternal Love. God speed!!