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Tracing my Spiritual Unfoldment by Manatita
“Whatever takes place in the divine Providence is not only for the best,
but also inevitable, because there is no alternative." -Sri Chinmoy.
Eternity’s Breath, (1972), Agni Press.
Strange, and perhaps remarkable, that I do not remember much of that day in the spring of 1983, for in my soul it was a most noteworthy evening, and I was filled with joy. It was in an ordinary-looking high school called PS 86, on the corner of Parson’s Boulevard/Hillside Avenue, Jamaica, Queens, New York, where I first met Sri Chinmoy. This was one of many such evenings, and I had felt quite happy, at home and at peace. What I remember most was my meeting with Ashrita, that exuberant persona of a human being, whom I was to meet numerous times later and sometimes when I was experiencing a great need in life.
What I asked him then, I do not recall, but perhaps it was about his inner relationship with Sri Chinmoy. In any case, I remember his short and inspirational answer fairly well. “I am feeling Him right now, I always do.” He said to me, pointing to his heart.
I joined the Sri Chinmoy Centre on the 1st October, 1982, in London, and went to New York the following year. This was my first trip to Queens, NY, and it helped to further cement a conscious and eternal relationship with my Guru, Sri Chinmoy.
I was born Cecil Kingsley Hutchinson, in a beautiful little village called Hermitage, in the Parish of St Patrick’s, Grenada, West Indies. This wonderful paradise, with its colourful flora and delightful beaches, is still known as the Isle of Spice and everything nice. Nevertheless, I cannot truly say that the hurricane, Janet, in 1955, was quite so nice. I was just three years old then, and I believe my auntie sought shelter, while shielding me in her arms, beneath the counter of my grandfather’s shop. Away from shelter, the torrential rain, blistering winds and storm raged furiously and continuously outside.
I had a very beautiful childhood. I do not know why it should be so, for my mother had very little money, needed support from others to help bring me up, and was a single 'mom'. She became pregnant while still at school and not quite seventeen. As a consequence of her being so young and with child, she was forced to seek support from elsewhere, as my grandfather was totally unforgiving at that time.
Old Montague, what an honourable yet strict man he was! He worked hard all his life, dabbled at everything and succeeded at nothing, save perhaps a loving relationship with his noble wife – my grandmother - who lived and died with him, both in their seventies. We, the children and grandchildren, loved them both dearly. I was also fond of our devoted dog called Mylo.
I can still remember my joy of going to the lands or 'garden’, as we called it, my bathing in the river with other boys, and the telling of Anancy (folklore) stories. This we sometimes did deep into the night, with the cool breeze of the nutmeg, banana and palm trees showering their grace upon us. We were also grateful for the life-force of the pipe water from our bubbling springs, to quench our thirst, throats parched from telling stories for a very long time. To this day I have not tasted water so cool and so life-nourishing.
How I loved those times: the catching of the crayfishes from beneath the river stones, the boys taking it in turns to cook ‘steam-down’ breadfruit, crayfish and dumplings, crab and callaloo, rice and peas, and other national dishes. We sometimes ate on the same plate, or shared the same dish, and occasionally shared the same bed when having an afternoon nap. We also enjoyed playing marbles in our yard, while we listened to the crowing of the 'cocks' (roosters) from the coop beneath the house. Some forty to forty-five years ago, and in a small country village paradise, we were all so innocent! All the trappings of this modern life were so alien to us!
These reminiscences are part of what I mean by having a very beautiful childhood. Of course we fought as boys would, played cricket, drove recklessly down hills on home-made carts, spun tops, dug for miniature turtles in the ground, and did many other crazy things in the late fifties and early sixties. Down in Grenville, in the Parish of St Andrew’s, we played football in the Park, went to late night movies, or could easily be found “liming” on the streets and bridges on a hot day. Throughout all this my mother allowed me freedom, and perhaps I was also a very willing boy. I remember always wanting to go to school, to do good, to help, and to be cheerful.
We were a loving family, but although I was never short of food in what was essentially a small agricultural country, I was the first of seven children and my mother’s financial position was never that brilliant, even at the best of times.
My first experiences with spirituality happened quite early. I was brought up an Anglican, and was baptised and confirmed at the age of nine. Like most of my friends, I went to Sunday school, and so I was exposed to the religious life at an early age. During this period some evangelist preachers visited Grenada, and so I followed them to their various locations where they gave talks and preached about the Godly life.
I can still see their enormous marquees in our recreation ground and market places, their makeshift churches and huge tents along our sea front in the city of St. George’s, as they sought to save souls and turn them to God. Some of the speakers were extremely inspirational. Needless to say, I followed them everywhere. I was so fired with the love of God! By the time I was thirteen, I had numerous certificates for outstanding biblical studies, and really wanted to have an encounter with Jesus Christ.
School life was great. I went to a private school at four, which was run by ‘Teacher Leonoris’, as we called her. During this period I was exceptionally bright. When I was five my mother took me to the city of Grenville, St. Andrew’s. There she began her search for a better and more fulfilling life. I went to the St. Andrew’s Methodist School, experienced morning assemblies, learnt moral principles and said ‘grace’ before meals. All this greatly helped to shape my spiritual life.
Here I was to stay until I was fifteen. For what were perhaps God-ordained reasons, I did not sit the scholarship exams at nine and again at eleven. Consequently, I did not go to High School. Who knows, had I done so, I may have been a scholarly Professor somewhere, and never felt the call of God. After leaving school, I went straight to work in order to assist my mum, who by this time had six other children to feed.
I dabbled with two or three jobs, varying from being a clerk, to working on a building site, and finally being a policeman.
Ever Conscious of God, we Aspire, Build And Advance as One People
I remember having a 'soft' heart, talking to minor offenders rather than arresting them, and not feeling within me the toughness for the job as needed. Unknowingly, I was being moulded for a different calling. I quit my job at the age of twenty-one, took the opportunity that nursing offered me, and travelled to England in search of exploration and a different life. I spent two weeks with my youngest and loving aunt, and then started my vocation as a nurse at Hillingdon Hospital, Uxbridge, Middlesex.
It is September 1982; I am sitting at home in a two-bedroom maisonette. Things are different now. I am a responsible father and husband in London, England. I have a very beautiful, devoted, and dutiful wife, and a two-year old son. Today is my day off work. I am sitting downstairs when I hear a loud sound coming from the direction of the hallway. I go expectantly to the doorway. A rather large packet drops to the floor. It is addressed to me. I open it and see a book inside. “The Path: Autobiography of a Western Yogi”, by Swami Kriyananda. I begin to read and a very powerful thrill runs through my Heart. I have come home.
One week later, I am again influenced by two books: “The Bhagavad Gita, As It Is” by His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta, Swami Prabupada, and, “Meditation: Paths to Tranquillity”, by Peter Russell. Taking an address and telephone number from the latter, within a week I had found the Sri Chinmoy Centre, became inspired immediately by the writings and personality of Sri Chinmoy, and accepted him as my Guru. As regards the Centre, since that very first day, October 1st, 1982, I have never stopped going.
November 2nd 2006