Later October 1992: The Goat in the Ravine

I was so excited to have Maharaj staying at my parents’ country home in the quiet northeastern corner of Connecticut near where I had been living, for I wanted to show him all the places I loved. Once we drove him to a very peaceful lake with nobody else in sight. We set up a folding chaise longue for him under tall trees near the bank and he spent a silent afternoon just watching the autumn colors of the trees and their reflections in the glassy surface of the lake. He didn’t say anything, as far as I remember.

Another day we took him to a hidden waterfall not far from our house in Storrs. The stream leading from a large swamp had cut deeply into the granite rock, suddenly dropping perhaps 30 feet over granite ledges to a pool below. To reach the pool, one had to scramble down a sheer-faced cliff. Often I went down there alone or with my children to soak in the mysterious atmosphere of that hemlock-fringed, rock-bordered ravine, with its splendid waterfall. There was a small cave near the pool in which I sometimes meditated. I assumed that the place had also been held sacred by centuries of Native Americans who used to live and hunt in those woods.

As I led Maharaj’s party along the obscure uneven path to the waterfall, with branches of young hemlocks gently brushing against us, Gurdev Singh frowned and said, “Where are you taking us?” Knowing what a wondrous place we were headed for, I was undismayed and ploughed ahead through the hemlocks. Maharaj was uncomplaining, as ever.

When we reached the top of the cliff overlooking the waterfall, we set up a folding chair under the tall hemlocks and invited Maharaj to sit in what I had always considered a great holy place. Since it was such a holy place, I reasoned, the very water of that place must be holy, too, so I scrambled down the face of the cliff to fetch some water from the pool to display to Maharaj. The water didn’t smell very good, having come from a swamp, but I didn’t pay much attention to that point—until I held it out toward Maharaj, so immaculate and magnificent. Only then I realized how inappropriate it was to offer dirty water to him. Fortunately, I wasn’t so foolish as to expect him to drink it. He didn’t comment on the water. After sitting there for a while, he quietly observed, “No saint has ever sat in this place.” Since Maharaj is a Trikal Darshi, who can clearly see the past, present, and future, my romantic illusions about the waterfall as an ancient place of worship were dashed. Surely after he himself sat there, it was blessed, but he didn’t say that.

Although my illusions about the place were ended, the visit had its entertainment value for Maharaj. Ever after he liked to recount how I had disappeared over the face of the cliff, scrambling over the rocks like a goat. I had been doing that for years, so I knew just where to step, but it may have been comical to see me doing so at the age of nearly 50. If that occasion brought some kind of pleasure—though not the type I had expected—to our beloved Guru, then I’m happy.